Wednesday, 4 December 2013


At the risk of promoting vainglory in the arena of biblical translation, the above statement would appear to be the linguistic case.

At the excellent ReNew Conference last week, jointly organised by Reform and the Anglican Mission in England, one of the speakers candidly admitted that he had been guilty of 'selfish ambition and vain conceit' in not having attended a Reform conference for ten years.

This striking admission prompted your curate to much-needed reflection and self-examination around Paul's instruction to Christians in the verse the speaker alluded to - Philippians 2v3:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (NIV).
The RSV, which cc turned to on returning from ReNew, leaves out the 'vain'. It translates the Greek word kenodoxia simply as 'conceit' whereas the NIV uses the two words to translate it.

In this case, the extra word would appear to be crucial. 'Vain' in this context is not tautologous. The prefix keno derived from the adjective kenos, meaning 'vain' as in empty or pointless, adds a vital dimension to our understanding of Paul's command, for the Bible surely teaches that our fallen human arrogance is literally 'in vain'. It is empty, pointless, and spiritually fruitless.

Does not Paul's use of kenodoxia here point to the gospel reality that, as we rid our minds and hearts of our sense of entitlement to be promoted over others and by God's grace turn ourselves towards loving Him and our fellow believers in the Lord Jesus, we become substantial as opposed to spiritually vacuous people? Is it not true to say in the light of kenodoxia that 'vainglory' is literally a waste of space in the Body of Christ?

So, in his own journey of repentance cc is very thankful for the extra word in the NIV translation.  

Saving child care professionals from having to convey malicious falsehoods appeared on ConservativeHome.


  1. Is there a conceit that is not in vain?

  2. At the risk of sounding like a broken record...

    I note the strap line for the ReNew conference is "Advancing Anglican Evangelical ministries for the salvation of England". But then I read "Delegates are not required to be members of any of the organising bodies but are expected to be in sympathy with the Reform Covenant". The latter document, of course, rejects women vicars and bishops.

    I find it incredibly sad that the "open" and "charismatic" streams of Anglican evangelicalism were therefore excluded from this event (as they are egalitarian when it comes to leadership and ministry). These people are just as concerned for the salvation of england as the conservative evangelicals of Reform and AMIE.

    I would suggest that elevating this secondary issue is sectarian and deeply harmful to the work of the gospel.

    1. Then on that basis they should not be entitled to call themselves 'Anglican' either, since that excludes Baptists, and there is no doubt that Baptists are just as concerned for the salvation of England as Anglicans.

      Oh and that also means the Baptists can't have a conference of their own either, because that excludes the Anglicans, the Catholics, the Mennonites etc etc.

      Really - what a strange position to hold! What it really amounts to (once implications such as the foregoing are considered) is an assertion that conservative evangelicals are not allowed to have beliefs of their own. I thought we were a pluralist society?

      Conservative evangelicals are entitled to believe and practice that only men should be leaders in the congregation. It is after all the position that the vast majority of the Christian Church has adhered to for the vast majority of its history. It shouldn't surprise anyone.

      If those who believe otherwise are seriously committed to the evangelisation of England or anywhere else, there is nothing to stop them conducting mission of their own - its not like there is or will be a shortage of un-churched people to evangelise, in the foreseeable future!