Faith, Hope & Charity

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I used to belong to a Southern Baptist Church in Miami, Florida. That is irrelevant to this blog post, but you need a little background info…anywho, in that Southern Baptist Church, there was only one acceptable bible to bring. The King James Bible. According to the preacherman, the KJB was translated directly from the ancient texts to the English language. Preacherman argued that this was the only acceptable version of the bible for English speakers because there was nothing lost in translation. He went on to explain that other versions of the bible (I don’t care enough to list them all) were translated from old English to the vernacular American English and that half of the meaning in the Bible was lost during this translation.

Lost in Translation…I digress, but how much of our lives are lost in translation? Back to my point. I swear, I really do have one.

So, for some reason, I have been thinking about this saying today and decided to look it up, as I kept getting confused as to what was the exact verbiage.

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

So, this is the verse according to the KJB. The odd thing is, this phrase is popular, not just in religious circles, but in general. Yet, have you ever heard it before? Probably not, unless you are a stickler for the King James Bible. On greeting cards, sentimental books, etc, you have probably heard it as “Faith, Hope and Love.” and I would like to point out that the end of this phrase is “the greatest of these is love.”

So, we have an issue here. What is the greatest? Charity? Love? Do these two words really mean the same thing? My point here is not about the bible. What I am talking about here is that unless you are writing an essay for a class and need to avoid redundancy, words are NOT interchangeable. When we say something to someone, the weight of our words are freaking important.

I looked “Charity” up on and there are a few different things that can be used as a description. I am not listing them in the same order as the website, FYI.

1) Christian love; agape

2) Leniency in judging others; forbearance

3) benevolent feeling, esp. toward those in need or in disfavor

4) a charitable fund, foundation, or institution

5) a charitable act or work

6) something given to a person or persons in need; alms

7) generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless

Now, I also looked up the meaning of the word “Love” and since there were over twice the possible meanings for this word as opposed to Charity, I am only using the first one as a generalization:

a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person

My interpretation is that Charity and Love are two completely different things. Whomever changed the wording when rewriting the newer versions of the Bible may have just assumed that Love was a better fit for this passage. I can certainly understand that – for as the Beatles said, “All you need is Love.” But if you take this one instance of a word being completely changed from one text to another, it could actually change the entire point of Christianity. Words are IMPORTANT.

How many times in your life have you had a conversation with someone – an important conversation – and struggled to find the right words to convey what you felt? How many times has someone said something to you and certain words stuck in your head, confounding you for days?

Words matter, people. Use the right ones.


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