Sad day

More who once were trusted now are not

Issue: "The Mormon Olympics," Feb. 16, 2002

World readers are already expressing their concern about the decision by the International Bible Society to put out what it calls "Today's New International Version." Subscriber Steve Breitenbach of Libertyville, Ill., put it this way: "The Bible needs to be translated to reflect the meanings it has had over the fullness of time." He continued, "To manipulate these meanings and words is to corrupt the honesty of God's word as communicated and understood over time through all generations. To say we need a Today's version is to set us apart from the word of God as written and understood by past generations. It cuts God loose from objective unchanging truth and creates doubt. Nothing undermines like doubt-to enter doubt into the understanding of the Bible is unconscionable." Mr. Breitenbach hopes that IBS's publishing partner Zondervan will change its ways, and says, "I am stopping all future purchases from Zondervan until I gain a better understanding of what is going on, and an assurance that Zondervan can be a trusted biblical source." Good idea, but it may be a long wait. It may be time to add IBS and Zondervan to a long list of illustrious names: universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and hospitals with "Presbyterian" and "Baptist" in their titles, that lost their theological saltiness over the years. So many groups once stood for biblical truth and no longer do so. We at WORLD don't enjoy the decline of publishers that once did great work. We were hopeful five years ago when Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family hosted in Colorado Springs a meeting of Bible scholars and leaders of various evangelical organizations with representatives of IBS, Zondervan, and the Committee on Bible Translation. We were glad that they hammered out guidelines requiring Bible translators to stick as closely as possible to the language of the original Bible texts, regardless of the demands of current pressure groups. We were glad when the IBS board announced that it had "abandoned all plans for gender-related changes in future editions" of the NIV. What's clear now is that IBS took action not because of any change of heart, but because many Christian groups threatened to boycott its products, following WORLD's disclosure in March 1997 that IBS planned to move the NIV in a unisex direction. We've wondered about IBS's honesty ever since WORLD discovered in 1999 a letter from Eugene Rubingh, IBS vice president for translations, stating that the goal of a gender-revised translation remained, with the matter only "one of timing, of finding the appropriate hour to move ahead." That time is apparently now. Sales beckon, even though, as Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler notes, those who deliberately translate in accordance with their biases "insult the very character of the Bible as the eternal, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God." We still hope, though, that IBS will be honest with Bible buyers. Instead of living off the goodwill the NIV has accumulated over the years and trying to shift less-knowledgeable buyers to "Today's NIV," it should label its new creation the "Feminist Bible" or at least the "gender-neutral NIV." We displayed a few of the translation changes in last week's WORLD and plan to show more next week. Readers wishing right away to see for themselves over 100 TNIV inaccuracies might head to www., the website of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. But there's one I'll note now that would be funny if it weren't sad. Referring to Jesus, Hebrews 2:17 in the NIV points out that "he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest ..." The TNIV reads, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest ..." As Wayne Grudem, seminary professor and past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, asks, "Did Jesus have to become like a sister 'in every way'? ... This text does not quite proclaim an androgynous Jesus, but it comes close, and many members of the 'younger generation' that the TNIV is seeking to reach will read it this way and maybe even begin to teach it this way.... Meditate on that word every for a while, and see if you can trust the TNIV." Other noted theologians, including John Piper and R.C. Sproul, are also criticizing the TNIV's "troubling translation inaccuracies." And J.I. Packer told the Baptist Press that the TNIV "is a retrograde move" based on "a passing modern fad.... The gains that this translation seeks to achieve are far outweighed by the loss."

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Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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