I am currently discipling a group of minority-language speakers using a Bible Story adapted from Acts 10 — the conversion of Cornelius and his family. My problem is, this story includes the tailored-to-Peter vision of the unclean animal cornucopia and a command from God to kill and eat.
This element presents several difficulties for the Buddhist context, but setting those aside, the main difficulty for me is time. It is not difficult to explain this vision but it is time-consuming. The history of Israel and the intricacies of Mosaic kosher laws are completely unknown to this audience, so I would be starting from scratch with, “Once upon a time there was a man named Jacob…”
So… I am leaving the vision out. I am retaining the fact that there was a vision, and the conclusion that the vision helped Peter come to, namely, "you can hang out with Gentiles."
Am I committing a heinous act? Am I passing on a Low Quality Translation of the Bible, chopping passages out at will as if I had no respect for Scripture?
Let me ask another question, have you ever used something besides Scripture to teach/explain the need for believers’ baptism, the Sovereignty of God, or the gift of the Holy Spirit? I am teaching all these things and more directly from this story. Have you ever said something like, “the trinity is like an egg…” or, “sin is like a balloon…,” or something even less biblically backed? When using communication devices like these the intention is not to replace, or poorly represent the Bible, but rather to lead people to face it by starting where they are and giving them what they can handle. In communicating the gospel when do we ever include every detail? Never. “Before I tell you about Jesus’s death for your sin, I have a little something I want to say about Malachi…”
In using this Bible story, though it is edited, I want to show God’s power in bringing Gentiles to faith and I want to do it with God’s Word empowered by God’s Spirit. I want to disciple these to disciple others. And I want to demonstrate the authority of God’s Word by using only the Bible. So, you tell me, leaving the vision out… is it low quality Bible translation… or really biblical discipleship?