Although I have more yet to say about long-term vision, I deviate slightly from my series today to address a Bible reference. I have always felt uneasy with the phrase in the Lord’s prayer (the Our Father) which in the English translation is rendered as ‘lead us not into temptation’ and I must remind myself that any time phrases and sentences are translated there are alternate ways to word them. The final line of Christianity’s most central prayer is, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” It seems to suggest that it is God who controls life’s temptations, sends them to us then frees us from them . . . that would deny our freedom.
I turn to the Letter of James 1:13 (Jerusalem translation), “Never when you have been tempted, say ‘God sent the temptation’; God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and he does not tempt anybody. Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desires.”
Why do I mention this? Because I believe it is important to realize that we humans are fallible and all that we know and understand has come through human interpretations. That is the reality of how we progress, by continually refining the knowledge that is present to us. It’s important to understand that faulty interpretations do not disqualify the essence—as in this prayer. Another way to state that phrase might be: ‘guard us from temptation and protect us from evil.’ The essence of the prayer is more than a word or a phrase.
Some people would be unset by the suggestion there is a better way to express that line from the Our Father . . . as if that is absolute and a sacrilege to suggest a change for it . . . yet we progress by refining what is known thus bringing better understanding. Newton defined the force of gravity but Einstein’s genius changed how we understand it. –Newton wasn’t wrong; his understanding was just less complete.
An important aspect of long-term thinking is to remain open to new understanding.