A TikTok star with more than 1 million followers is trying to find new ways of bringing the gospel to life for young people, by translating scripture into “Gen Z terminology”.
The short videos tell various stories from the gospels, using language often adopted by teenagers online.
Matthew 5 9-12 has been translated from: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Instead, the social media creator reads: “W to those who turn opps into bros, for they will be called CEOs of peace.
“W to those who catch hands for being valid, for they will not be left on read by God.
“W to you when the opps be cappin’ hard and do you so dirty bc you’re my fam. Trust you have crushed it and have the eternal W, for so they did the true bros before you.”
The reactions have been mixed: comments on the videos themselves show almost overwhelming praise, with many saying they were prompted to read the Bible for the first time as a result of listening to the videos.
Others have criticised the creator for blasphemy. Speaking to the New York Post, the TokToker – who wishes to remain anonymous – said: “The main question I get asked is from Christians, who wonder if it’s blasphemous. I wondered that too before I made the second video.”
“I always try not to be disrespectful to the text or to stray from any accuracy.”
Robin Peake, from Wycliffe, a world-renowned Bible translating organisation involved in the translation of more than 75 per cent of the Biblical texts currently being produced, says he’s pleased to see young people finding new ways to spread the gospel.
He said: “It’s great to see people engaging with God's word. We would always say, any new translation that can reach a new audience has to be applauded and has to be a good thing. I think that the number of people who are engaging with these videos is very exciting to see, we really want young people to be engaged with God's word.”
However, he recognised that inaccuracies could do more harm than good. He continued: “A Bible translation needs to be something that is accurate. It needs to be clear, it needs to be natural.
“...If we're not being faithful to the original languages, to what God has said and written down, then it's very easy for us to misunderstand what God is saying to us. So accuracy becomes really important.
Despite the new age vocabulary, Robin believes the TikTok creator hasn’t strayed too far from a tradition that has spanned decades.
“For as long as I can remember, we've been trying to communicate God's word in relevant ways. We have children's Bibles that are communicating in the language of four year olds and five year olds. We have dramatisations in church that are telling familiar stories in new ways.
“So I think we want to differentiate between [what is] a faithful and accurate translation of the Bible and [what is] communicating God's Word in relevant ways.”