NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Two prominent Southern Baptist leaders have endorsed a resolution passed by convention messengers that calls the New International Version (NIV) 2011 Bible an "inaccurate translation" the SBC cannot recommend.
Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, say messengers were right to pass the resolution and take a stand against what the language calls "gender neutral methods of translation." Mohler, though, did say he regrets the resolution addresses LifeWay stores so directly.
The controversy over the NIV 2011 dates back to 2002 when messengers passed a resolution criticizing the Today's New International Version (TNIV) Bible, which also employed a gender-neutral philosophy of translation for pronouns. After receiving criticism from James Dobson, Southern Baptist leaders and other evangelical leaders, the TNIV never gained widespread usage and finally was discontinued.
At issue are pronouns for humanity, not pronouns for God.
The NIV 2011 is an updated translation to both the TNIV and the NIV 1984. It maintains 75 percent of the gender-neutral changes found in the TNIV, according to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a Louisville, Ky.-based group that supports a complementarian position on manhood and womanhood. CBMW did acknowledge that the NIV 2011 had "numerous commendable improvements" from the NIV 1984 but that the newest translation still had problems from CBMW's perspective. The NIV 2011, CBMW contends, changes the meaning of the Bible in numerous verses, and by changing singular pronouns to plural pronouns, "removes the emphasis on an individual, personal relationship with God and on specific individual responsibility for one's choices and actions."
The NIV's popularity -- it's the bestselling Bible translation -- is a driving force behind the controversy. Zondervan, the North American publisher, is discontinuing the NIV 1984 and replacing it with the NIV 2011.
The fact that the resolution on the NIV 2011 was debated at all at the SBC annual meeting was somewhat of a surprise, because the Resolutions Committee, the body charged to recommend resolutions to the convention, had declined it. Instead, messenger Tim Overton asked from the floor that his resolution -- previously submitted to the committee as required -- be brought forward, and messengers voted to consider it by the required margin of at least 2-to-1. After a brief debate, it passed overwhelmingly by a show of ballots, receiving opposition from only a few dozen messengers out of the 4,800 who were registered.
CBMW's lengthy NIV 2011 evaluation, released in May, helped give the resolution momentum. Read More