Denominational Democracy, Trusting Trustees, Blogs, and Dave Miller

by David Rogers on June 22, 2012 · 71 comments

At the SBC in New Orleans, Lifeway Director Thom Rainer reported that the Lifeway Trustees had reviewed a resolution passed at last year’s convention in Phoenix requesting them to discontinue sales of the 2011 NIV Bible. Since the point of this post does not have to do primarily with the perceived virtues and/or defects of the 2011 NIV, I will not lay these arguments out here. The relevant point is that the Lifeway Board of Trustees, upon consulting with experts and reviewing the reasons given at last year’s convention supporting the resolution, decided to ignore the recommendation of the messengers of the convention and continue to sell the 2011 NIV anyway.

Personally, I think they made the right decision. It appears, upon further review, that the opinion of a majority of the messengers voting on the resolution was unduly influenced—number one—by a lack of information regarding the actual issues involved, and—number two—by a certain degree of misinformation that was communicated at the convention regarding those same issues. It was, admittedly, a subjective call, but the way I interpret it, the Trustees were faced with the difficult decision of determining whether the convention, if it had access to the same information they had access to, would have arrived at the same decision they arrived at when voting upon the resolution. Rainer, in his reply to the messenger who presented the resolution (and, concurrently, to the convention as a whole) repeatedly and passionately urged us as Southern Baptists to “trust the Trustees.”

In this particular case, I happen to think the Trustees were right. But, I don’t think Trustees in Southern Baptist life are always right. Honesty and consistency force me to acknowledge that on other occasions I have not been quite so supportive of certain Trustee decisions. In the case of the IMB policies passed several years ago regarding private prayer language and the baptism of missionary candidates, I have argued that decisions taken by the IMB Board of Trustees likely did not reflect the will of the majority of Southern Baptists. To this day, I am convinced this is still the case, and wish that these policies were reversed.

At the same time, I think the episode regarding the resolution on the NIV at last year’s convention is a perfect example of the propensity of groups of individuals (even those as qualified as duly appointed messengers to the SBC) to be swayed in the rush of the moment by persuasive and emotional argumentation (sometimes referred to as demagoguery).

During the Conservative Resurgence, it was often said that the various agencies and boards of the SBC were out of touch with and acting contrary to the opinions and wishes of the grassroots majority of the members of SBC churches. It would appear that subsequent history has validated this claim. As much as disgruntled moderates may raise the specter of demagoguery with regard to the supposed takeover of the SBC, it would be extremely difficult to demonstrate that the general direction of the SBC with regard to the basic tenets of the CR is at variance with the views of the majority of the congregations that make up the SBC, both before and after the CR.

Whether that is the case with regard to the IMB policies is, I believe, much less certain. I still believe that if the rank and file of Southern Baptists were made aware of all the issues involved, they would not agree with these policies. With regard to the NIV resolution, on the other hand, I believe the majority of Southern Baptists, if privy to the information given to the Lifeway Board of Trustees, would be in agreement with their decision. In this case, information is our friend.

The danger involved is that of assuming an elitist posture that presupposes the uninitiated are incapable of making an informed decision on a particular matter all on their own. This is one of the positive values of Southern Baptist blogging. It is a move in the direction of an increased democratization of denominational life. It opens up the floor to the voices of a greater variety of participants. It provides an opportunity for the marketplace of ideas to run its full course. Just as in a court of law, arguments and counterarguments, allegations and defenses of allegations, can be presented back and forth, back and forth, until the time the judge and jury (in this case, the rank and file of Southern Baptists) feel they have adequate information to form an educated opinion on the issues at stake.

Admittedly, the system is not perfect. It is practically inevitable that from time to time policies and decisions made on this or that fail to adequately reflect the opinions and wishes of the majority. Ultimately, though, that should be the goal. And I believe that blogging can play a positive role in working toward this end. Unfortunately, however, there is also the danger that discussions and debates on forums such as blogs grow so caustic that they become counterproductive to our ultimate objective.

While SBC Voices is far from the only venue on which these discussions take place, and some may feel the opinions most often voiced here do not reflect their own, I personally believe the balance struck here at Voices between the freedom to express opinions that may be outside the box along with the encouragement and guidance to maintain a Christlike, civil discourse while doing so is exemplary, if not somewhat unique, in the Southern Baptist blogosphere. And I think a good bit of this can be attributed to the good-natured, mature, and godly moderation of Dave Miller.

Not that any of us here (including Dave) has any excuse for getting “the big head”—we’re all just fallible, flawed human beings—but I think the SBC Voices experiment (if you will) is beginning to demonstrate what blogging in Southern Baptist life can be, and what good it can accomplish. We will likely continue to disagree about many different issues that we discuss here, and we may not end up resolving any of the debates currently taking place. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, just as long as we continue to listen, learn, and treat one another with the respect due to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I think perhaps more people are beginning to take notice as well.

1 Thomas Cook June 22, 2012 at 9:23 am

Actually the proper thing for Lifeway to do is to re-present the case to the Convention, not arbitrarily decide that they would agree if given the same information. That is elitism. The IMB is another story, for which if the messengers had all the information ALOT of things would change.

If the conservative resurgence taught us anything it is that you cannot simply wind-up the trustees and let them go. The oft and overused phrase, “Trust but verify” is appropriate. The Trustees, the elected officials, and those employed for denominational work do so at the pleasure of the local church through the convention; therefore, they are not above its directions.

Lifeway’s decision was wrong! The IMB decision should be readdressed if there are still questions, but I doubt it. If we are going to continue to say we are a convention, and that includes those called by it, then we need to operate under its guidelines. Unless we wish to go ahead and act like the current President of the US, in which case let’s call this entity something like the Baptist Methodists or the Presbyterian Baptists of America.

2 Brent Hobbs June 22, 2012 at 9:48 am

If resolutions were binding, then you would have a point.

3 David Rogers June 22, 2012 at 11:30 am

Thomas,

The particular question regarding Lifeway and the NIV is quite complicated. There is a reason I did not include anything about Lifeway or the NIV in the title to this post. It is not primarily about that question, but rather an example of the complications generally involved in working through the pitfalls of denominational democracy and trusting Trustees. While I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of putting the question on the NIV up for a repeat vote, in the end I tend to think that would not be a good idea. The issues involved with certain questions are more complex than are able to be adequately explained in the amount of time given in an SBC annual meeting for explaining them. That is one of the reasons we have Trustees in the first place. Bible translation theory is particularly complex, and the idea that you might be able to bring several thousand messengers up to speed in a 2-minute speech (or even a 30-minute exchange of speeches) is laughable.

Yet, elitism, and entrenched authority figures and insiders presuming to speak for all the common folk is indeed a problem, if not in actuality right now, at least in theory. The answers are not easy. It is one of thorny issues that comes along with the territory of a believers church ecclesiology combined with cooperative fellowships of local congregations. There is no slam dunk solution. This is what attracts some people to Roman Catholicism, or other more authoritarian structures. In the end, I don’t think you come out any better that way either, though.

Though blogs like this one are not the silver bullet with regard to all this, at least I think they are step in the right direction. No doubt, there will continue to be tension related to these issues. But in the meantime, we are making progress, and learning, and sharpening one another. That is the point of the post.

4 Thomas Cook June 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

Thanks David, I totally agree that two minutes is not enough time; however, as someone has already said a more thorough explanation would have seemed less like “talk to the hand.”

Brent, Not binding? They certainly are if the Convention speaks to a Convention entity. Otherwise the convention would have fewer options to deal with an issue.

I am all for a representative democracy style, rather than mob rule, but when the convention shares a concern, valid or not, those entrusted with leadership MUST address it or be accused of elitism. There are many formats in which Lifeway could have addressed these concerns outside of the two minute report, and they did not.

5 Cal Anthony June 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thomas,

You are missing how this works.

Resolutions are not binding– that’s basic and everyone is aware of that.

LifeWay trustees looked addressed this issue because that is what they were elected to do. That is why we have them there. They did not just hear the misleading conversation floor conversation (see comments below on that) about the NIV and then vote on the spot. Last minute, misleading conversations is not how it works best (or how it is intended to work).

I, for one, am thankful for the fact that bible-believing trustees did not get caught up in the heat of the moment and made a deliberate decision. They listened to scholars, did analysis, and then did their job. You may not like them doing their job, but they did… and they agreed unanimously on the subject.

I guess you can call people elitist all day long, but when your trustees are unanimous after looking at the facts, it tells you that the facts are worth considering. You said, “those entrusted with leadership MUST address it.” They did. They looked at it thoroughly and came to a conclusion. That’s why these ELECTED trustees are there.

The system worked. Just because you don’t like the outcome does not mean that the system didn’t work and now all those trustees are elitists. That’s just offensive.

Cal

6 Marty Duren June 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Thomas-
I’m pretty sure you are mistaken on your assessment of resolutions. This is from the SBC website: “The Southern Baptist Convention makes official statements regarding specific issues by means of resolutions passed at our annual gatherings each June. Southern Baptist polity views these resolutions as expressions of opinions or concern which are representative of the messengers attending the meeting, but are not binding upon any individual church or successive Convention. Generally speaking, resolutions are snapshots of views widely held among Southern Baptists at the time and in the social contest in which they are passed, but they are not deemed to be doctrinal or creedal (tests of fellowship).” (See last paragraph here: http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/faqs.asp )

Also, Jimmy Scroggins acknowledged this yesterday in a story by the Florida Baptist Witness (http://www.gofbw.com/news.asp?ID=14126 )

“[T]he ‘conversation’ created by the resolutions process is ‘good for us,’ Scroggins said the statements give Southern Baptists – both pastors and denominational entities – ‘some ground to stand on when they speak as Southern Baptists,’ while noting the resolutions are not binding.” (I added the italics.)

7 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I agree with you Marty that resolutions are not binding on SBC institutions. That said, the 2002 resolution on the TNIV asked Lifeway to not sell it and the trustees complied. The author of that resolution was Dr. Russ Moore. Resolutions have the authority to speak about various opinions of the convention. As such they represent a valid platform for the whole convention to speak to relevant and important issues.

2002 TNIV Resolution http://sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1218

8 Brent Hobbs June 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

David, many of those same thoughts have been floating around my brain over the past few days, and even last year with the NIV resolution (which I thought was an embarrassment). I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. “Trust the trustees” cannot be universal principle, but there are cases where it needs to be invoked. Trying to find that balance—I’m glad I’m not in charge of that!

9 Louis June 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

Great thoughts, David.

I actually thought that Dr. Rainer missed an opportunity here to give more explanation about the process of how LifeWay decides which books to sell. I believe that is what the messenger asked.

I believe Dr. Rainer could have laid out how the employees at LifeWay do this, what type of review is done, and finally, how Trustees are involved.

LifeWay has the most difficult calls to make. There are always going to be choices that will disappoint some and please others. I think that the test is not a choice here or there, but the overall trend and emphasis.

In this case, we should trust the Trustee system and process.

But for Dr. Rainer to chant that over and over again reminded me of the CR days, and how moderates would say that.

That is not a good answer for all situations. I don’t even think that Dr. Rainer believes that. It must be hard to answer questions like that on the fly.

10 David Rogers June 22, 2012 at 11:35 am

Louis,

I agree with everything you say here. It really is a very difficult position to have to think on your feet and come up with the best, most thoughtful replies to all the eventualities that arise on the floor of the convention. I, for one, would be interested to hear a more thorough explanation of the process behind choosing what is sold or not sold by Lifeway, though. Perhaps one is forthcoming.

11 Tim Overton June 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Louis,

I believe you make a very important point. Were you able to read the motions from 2011 in this year’s Book of Reports? Below is a quote from page 67:

“Motion: Craige Thomas, Tennessee

“That we recommend that LifeWay reinstate disclaimers whenever they sell The Shack and/or other materials that undermine and oppose Articles II and IV of The Baptist Faith and Message 2000″

Response: The Read with Discernment plan was discontinued two years ago due to lack of customer interest. Since the plan generated little to no interest, reinstatement is considered unnecessary at this time.”

I find it disheartening that Lifeway sees informing people about heretical materials as a matter of customer demand. Warning people of bad doctrine is a matter of conviction. Note that Dr. Al Mohler calls dialogs in The Shack “undoubtedly heretical” (http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/01/27/the-shack-the-missing-art-of-evangelical-discernment/). I believe most Southern Baptists want Lifeway to post the warning, as well as cease selling books like The Shack all together.

Here is another motion from the 2012 Book of Reports, page 68:

“Motion: Channing Kilgore, Tennessee

“That the SBC recommend that LifeWay stores publish the criteria they use in determining their selection and sale of biblically related materials.”

Response: Southern Baptist Convention messengers elect trustees to represent them in overseeing the work of the convention entities. LifeWay’s trustees review the product selection processes used by LifeWay on a regular basis and support the current approach.”

As you can see Louis, Lifeway was specifically asked to make public its criteria used in its sales and explicitly refused to do so. Why would this matter need to be kept private. Recently Lifeway chose to pull the movie called “The Blindside” from its shelves. Why? Because a Florida pastor was going to bring a motion about it(http://www.christianpost.com/news/new-sbc-president-supports-lifeways-the-blind-side-removal-76920/). The policy seems to be pull material when the wheel is squeaky enough, leave other questionable materials on sale. My question is which is more harmful: The Shack, inaccurate gender-neutral bibles, or The Blideside? Clearly a coherent, comprehensive policy is lacking.

12 Louis June 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Tim:

I had not caught those.

But I think I see the problem here.

I do not think that a one size fits rule can be made for evaluating books.

I think that the Process can be described easily.

But a uniform rule, or even perfect application of a uniform rule, is not achievable in my opinion.

Here are some absurd examples to illustrate.

Can LifeWay sell a dictionary? What if it has profanity in it? I would say, yes.

Can LifeWay sell C.S. Lewis’s works that have witches and such? I would say yes.

Can LifeWay sell a book or movie that has profanity in it? To me, that depends. Let’s say there is a quote from a contemporary figure in the book who is cursing (e.g. Bill Maher), but the book is criticizing Maher’s opinion about religion. I would say that is o.k. The overall point of the book, in my opinion, overcomes the profanity.

Can LifeWay sell Aristotle or Plato in the academic books section? I would say yes. Would LifeWay want to sell some modern philosopher? That would be harder for me.

Can LifeWay sell Origen’s works, Thomsas Aquinas, Augustine? They promoted and wrote about doctrine that we do not support. But I would be in favor of LifeWay selling those things.

What about modern theologians or preachers with whom we may disagree?

What about N.T. Wright? What about some preacher who is a so-called egalitarian on gender issues (I think that Wright is one). What about Clark Pinnock? How about his older books?

What about a Christian who is more liberal and a detractor of the SBC? Tony Campollo? Some of the CBF crowd.

For me, it depends.

And even though I have my opinions about things, I realize others might feel differently.

And how does financial sustainability fit into the picture?

It is easy to see that selling our souls for cash is wrong. Therefore, we are all going to agree that selling some things are off limits, even if they would bring in cash – Playboy, for example.

But is it wrong to even consider revenue as a factor?

I believe it is appropriate to consider revenue as a factor.

I don’t care for the NIV. It is written on an 7th or 8th grade level.

But lots of people use it. I have heard that NIV materials may account for a significant amount of revenue. I don’t know how much, but if suddenly discontinuing a product would cause the bankruptcy of LifeWay’s stores, and I were a trustee, that would give me pause. I might think of a way to get out of matter more slowly.

I hope that you can see what I am driving at here.

13 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Louis,

Many wonderful thoughts above. I would suggest that one can articulate a clear statement that guides Lifeway’s decisions to sell or not sell material. Setting such guidelines would be challenging and discretion would always be necessary. That said, I would argue that if we can create a BF&M that encompasses a theological basis for enabling ALL Southern Baptists to cooperate, then Lifeway criteria is certainly doable. Which is harder, getting all stripes of Southern Baptists to rally around a complex theological confession or setting a book policy for Lifeway? Clearly having Southern Baptists approve of a confession is more difficult. I would suggest that if we can handle a BF&M then a Lifeway product criteria can and should be done. I would also appreciate it if Lifeway would make this criteria public.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

14 Max June 22, 2012 at 10:58 am

” … until the time … the rank and file of Southern Baptists feel they have adequate information to form an educated opinion on the issues at stake …”

Brother Rogers, you have clearly articulated the value of blogging in the discourse of SBC matters. You also note that this “is far from the only venue on which these discussions take place.” Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Southern Baptists enter the blogosphere or engage in social media communications. Few SBC churches have “family discussions” on issues covered on blogs which may impact the local church in some form or another. State convention papers don’t prospect the depths of the conversation. Messenger attendance at annual meetings appears to be declining, with thousands of SBC churches not represented. Could you suggest other avenues to ensure that the rank and file of Southern Baptists are adequately informed toward an educated opinion for the days ahead?

15 David Rogers June 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

Max,

Thanks for affirmation of my thinking here. Regrettably, I don’t have a whole lot of suggestions to offer beyond what I have outlined in the post here. I believe blogs have potential for good within convention life, and that is one reason I continue to read and interact on them. They also have potential for harm. We must all remain vigilant to keep that in check. The reality, though, is that many members of our congregations (and many messengers) are never going to read blogs. I do think every little effort we can make toward promoting more healthy dialogue is a good thing, though, and blogs are one of the best tools for doing so.

16 Marty Duren June 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

David,
Well thought out and well written. For those having interest, here is the BP article on the trustee report to the NIV investigation. http://www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?ID=37181

I was in the room when that report was given to the trustees. It was as clear as it could be that the Greenway led team had gone above and beyond to ensure fact finding and clear reporting. The vote was unanimous.

The motion offered this year by Tim Overton did not appear to me to be an attempt to get any undiscovered reality about the 2011NIV, but to do an end run around the report that had already been made; a report for which he had asked. LifeWay’s trustees were not elitist in my view; they were responsive.

17 Tim Overton June 22, 2012 at 11:46 am

Hello All,

I’m not used to blogging, so please forgive me if I am not familiar with the norms of SBC voices. That said, I am grateful that this blog has taken up the issue of my motion concerning the 2011 gender-neutral NIV. Here is the full version of my motion to Lifeway:

I move that a request be made of Lifeway Christian Resources to reconsider selling the inaccurate gender-neutral NIV by allowing Dr. Page Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Louis Markos, author of a recent article published in the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s journal, as well as one or two other qualified translation experts who have concerns about the NIV 2011, to make a presentation to Lifeway trustees on the gender-neutral translation issue. (Dr. Patterson and Dr. Markos have agreed to speak if invited by the trustees with the support of the Southern Baptist Convention through this motion)

Lifeway trustees were not presented with both perspectives when they voted to continue selling the gender-neutral NIV. A member of the NIV translation committee was even present when they voted, but not a single representative from CBMW or a like minded person was allowed to speak. In many ways the presentation to the trustees was a stacked deck. I believe with the correct information these trustees will vote to follow the convention’s suggestion and cease selling the NIV. Please keep in mind that Lifeway sees itself as a ministry as well as a business. If the new NIV is inaccurate (and just about every Southern Baptists leader believes it is: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=35663), then the obvious course of action is that the ministry of Lifeway should not distribute inaccurate copies of God’s Word to the general public.

I believe the case against selling the NIV at Lifeway is solid. What we desperately need is a platform to present our side of the story. Dr. Patterson believed that the motion above would be passed and presented to the board of trustees. He was correct. In the near future, the board will have a decision to make. As you can imagine, it is only with great difficulty that an invitation could be withheld from Mr. Southern Baptist/Dr. Patterson. I believe his name will help secure an invitation for those who believe inaccurate Bibles should not be distributed to the general public by an SBC ministry. Again, I simply want our side heard by the trustees. Is this too much to ask?

The following are my overarching thoughts on Bible translations. Perhaps the following will help you understand why I am pulling out all the stops on this issue. Today, more than ever before, people have access to education/doctorate degrees. Literally anyone willing to work hard can become a scholar/PhD. Combine this with the inexpensive cost of printing and we have an environment where agenda driven Bible translations can easily be made and distributed. Southern Baptists, the largest denomination, have already made our own Bible (the Holman). The Common English Bible and other translations are to follow (not so good). For protestants this will become significant. We have always had disagreements on what the Bible means, but now consumers will purchase Bibles that cater to their likes and dislikes. My prayer is that Southern Baptists will be the anchor that holds to the traditional methods of translation. Verbal Plenary Inspiration states that every word is inspired. . . including pronouns. Doing away with proper pronouns is a slippery slope that will lead to other errors. I assure you that an Episcopalian homosexual friendly bible is coming to a bookstore near you. Its simply a matter of time. Southern Baptists must be the anchor that holds. To be open to gender neutral translations is to be tempted with worse in years to come.

Another issue this issue raises is authority. I might be mistaken, but I believe this is the first time since the conservative resurgence that an SBC agency has refused to follow the will of the convention. At best this is negligence, at worst insubordination. Dr. Rainer has led Lifeway to sell T.D. Jakes books even though the author has serious Trinity problems. “The Shack” was also sold even though everyone believes the book is harmful and heretical (http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/01/27/the-shack-the-missing-art-of-evangelical-discernment/). Add the gender-neutral NIV to this and one must ask “Do good ministries distribute harmful material to the general public?” Now I understand scholars need to purchase liberal material for study, but we are talking about average Joe and Jane buying these materials. Lifeway used to place warning labels on questionable books, but Dr. Rainer has stopped that practice all together (see motion from 2011 answered in 2012). I believe Southern Baptists do not agree with any of these actions. Lifeway has a competitive advantage with Southern Baptists because pastors and parishioners have trust in the orthodoxy of what is sold. Business will be harmed once people understand that Lifeway has become like any other Christian bookstore that sells anything. . . even questionable things. . . even heretical things. I believe Lifeway’s actions are bad business as well as sub par ministry.

Lastly, Southern Baptists have spoken clearly in three resolutions on gender-neutral Bible translations:

1997 http://sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=284
2002 http://sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1218
2011 http://sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1218

The idea that somehow the floor was confused in Phoenix is a bit odd in my opinion. Were they also confused in 1997 and 2002? Please read the three links. Do Southern Baptists really seem confused about this issue? Our convention clearly rejects gender-neutral bible translations. These flaws copies of God’s word should not be distributed by any entity calling themselves a ministry. Businesses have a financial incentive to sell anything to anyone. I understand this, but Lifeway is both a business and ministry. For this reason they should hold themselves to a higher standard. Unfortunately, Dr. Rainer is not doing this at present.

My hope is that Lifeway trustees will choose to hear both sides of this debate. Who would not bennifit from hearing Dr. Patterson and Dr. Markos make a presentation on any issue? If Lifeway is confident in the rightness of their decision, then they have nothing to fear from CBMW and others making their case. I sincerely hope that our perspective will have a chance to be heard. Asking for this by a motion simply allows for an open discussion among those who have been entrusted with Lifeway. . . the trustees.

Here is a link to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s report about the 2011 gender-neutral NIV: http://www.cbmw.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/cbmw-final-analysis-of-2011-niv.pdf and http://www.cbmw.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/11-16.burk-only.pdf .

Thank you so much for allowing me to post. I truly believe this is a top tier issue facing the convention.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

18 Scott Hamlin June 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Tim,

Are you the person who said on the floor that the NIV uses gender neutral pronouns to refer to God?

Scott

19 Tim Overton June 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Hello Scott,

Wonderful to hear from you. One of the most frustrating things said was that messengers voted on false information. This is a powerful charge and, I believe, a false one. Please visit this link and look at the floor debate: http://www.dennyburk.com/the-sbc-resolution-on-the-niv/ @ 33:00 & whole discussion starts at 24:00. The gentleman from North Carolina never said gender-neutral names for God were in the 2011 NIV. He was simply making a summery statement. Here is an outline of what he said:

2000 BFM speaks to biblical roles for men and women
SBC spoke against TNIV
We are talking about the Word of God (in the current resolution)
SBC affirms gender roles
SBC affirms God as masculine
If we affirm these things, and we do, then we should ALSO speak to the gender-neutral issues in the 2011 NIV

Remember that the Resolution Committee’s argument against the resolution was not that it was factually incorrect, but that the issue did not rise to the level of needing to be addressed. By listing past instances of the SBC speaking to gender issues, he is making his case to approve the resolution on the gender-neutral 2011 NIV and speak yet again to a gender issue.

Please use the link and validate the accuracy of my outline. No misinformation was given to the messengers. The SBC spoke against gender-neutral Bible translations in 1997, 2002, and 2011. The SBC position is clear. Gender-neutral Bible translations are flawed and inaccurate.

Let me also add that Darren Lambert agrees that the above was what he was trying to communicate. Thank you so much for the question Scott. I meant to address this too.

Please remember that no one, including Dr. Moore, spoke against the resolution once the convention voted to consider it for passage.

Thanks again Scott!

Blessings,
Tim Overton

20 Fred Johnson June 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Mr. Overton-
Your link to Baptist Press names Al Mohler and Paige Patterson, yet your assertion is “just about every Southern Baptist leader believes” there are problems with the NIV. You are also mentioned. Either Southern Baptists only have two leaders (or three if we are to include you, as you apparently did) or you have distorted the reality. The reality is that most Southern Baptist leaders have not even spoken to this issue.

21 Tim Overton June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Fred,

In SBC life, if Dr. Patterson and Dr. Mohler agree on something it usually means there is a broad cross section of support (One could suggest that Dr. Patterson represents the Sandy Creek/non-Calvinist tradition and Dr. Mohler the Charleston/Calvinist tradition). Southern Baptists have also passed three separate resolutions condemning gender-neutral Bible translations. My resolution, which came from the floor, was passed by a near unanimous majority. . . so were the other two that came through the regular channels. All the above point to clear conviction among Southern Baptists that we disapprove of gender-neutral bibles. Lastly, the SBC has strongly supported the concept of Verbal Plenary Inspiration. Every word in the Bible is inspired by God. Gender-neutral translations change “him” into “them”, intentionally erase gender references, and undermine the original text. Please read the CBMW report about this important matter. They can be found at http://www.cbmw.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/cbmw-final-analysis-of-2011-niv.pdf and http://www.cbmw.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/11-16.burk-only.pdf .

Blessings,
Tim

22 Tyler Culp June 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Ok several things…

1) First of all, there was mis-information given at the 2011 convention. The speaker at 33:40 in the video and following talks about how God is “He”…even emphasizing the “He” in his statements. The most natural way to take this is that he is saying the NIV 2011 uses “she” or “it” for God. This is false. This may not have been what he meant, but I am willing to bet that this is what most of the delegates heard.

2) The biblical languages are not as simply to translate as you imply. Neither are they as clear cut about gender as you imply or as the CBMW implies. For one small example, “Spirit” is neuter in Greek and feminine in Hebrew. In other words, according to the rules of grammar the Spirit is an “it” in the NT and a “she” in the OT…or at least that is what your own logic would be forced to conclude. You see grammatical gender does not always relate to actual gender. A “He” in Greek does not always mean he in English because the Greek writer did not say he (in fact often times they do not have to use pronouns at all as the pronoun is included in the verb). The only thing the Greek writer did when using a pronoun (separate from the verb) is give a singular or plural and masculine or feminine or neuter pronoun. Not all masculines are translated as masculines and not all feminine are translated as feminines. We would not call a child a “it” but the word is neuter in Greek so it would be a neuter pronoun in Greek. According to your logic and the logic of CBMW every translation is wrong for not calling a child an “it” because the child is an “it” in Greek. The NIV translators are not being evil or capitulating to culture; instead they are being consistent in realizing that grammatical gender does not equal actual gender.

3) The CBT (the NIV translation oversight team) is intentionally designed so that all orthodox evangelical options are represented among the translators. This is a good move. The purpose is to make sure that the best exegetical argument wins the day and not whatever the majority of translators believe (as oppose to think). To make this a little more concrete, in other words since neither complementarinism nor egalitarianism is considered heretical by the wider evangelical movement both movements are fairly represented on the CBT by scholars (world-class, I might add). To change a verse the CBT must reach a two-thirds consensus (when the CBT is full, this means 10 for and 5 against) to change a verse. This means that complementarins must convince egalitarians that the complementarin reading is correct or vice-versa. In other words, it is designed so that the text is only changed if a convincing case can be made. No verse is changed easily or on a whim.

4) As far as disputed passages such as Romans 16:1-2, let me give an example of how this would play out. The Greek literally says that Phoebe is a deacon. This could, however, also simply mean that she is a servant. The egalitarians (who would have no theological opposition) to a female deacon would naturally read diakonos as deacon. The complementarins would likely read it as servant. The egalitarians would point out the construction of the Greek phrase in this incident suggest that a specific office is in view (and not that Paul is merely saying that Phoebe is a good servant of the Church). They would point out that the Church in the second century had female deacons (we know this from Church history), they would proceed to argue that this is likely a continuation of the first century pattern as opposed to a deviation. This historical fact along with the grammar implying deacon instead of servant convinces some of the complementarins so that they side with the egalitarians and vote for deacon. The two-thirds consensus is reached and so the 1984 rendering of Phoebe as a “servant” becomes Phoebe as a “deacon” in the TNIV and NIV 2011.

I should point out that even some CBMW leaders think that Phoebe was a deacon. Dr. Schreiner (NT professor at SBTS) interprets the Greek this way in his commentary on Romans in the Baker Exegetical series.

5) Next let me remind you of the point made up in #1, the fact that grammatical gender does not always equal actual gender. This is where the question of the “singular they” comes into play. The CBT when they reached a consensus about whether a pronoun was inclusive or exclusive then had to ask themselves how do we state this as exclusive or inclusive in English. The Collins report showed that the most common way in modern English to state a singular indefinite pronoun is the “singluar they” (over 80% of the time). In other words, “singular they” was adopted not to please the feminist but because the NIV has always desired to use common or standard English.

6) Lastly, let me point out that Gender-Inclusive translation are not the exception. They are the rule, because it has become increasingly clear over the last 20 years that generic masculines are often misunderstood. Let us look at translations over the last 20 years and see where they fall.

Gender Inclusive:
1) NIV 2011
2) NRSV
3) CEB
4) NLT
5) NCV
6) NET (less so than the others on this list, but still inclusive if you look at the rendering of words like adelphoi, anthropos, and the like)

Exclusive
1) ESV
2) HCSB
3) NASB 1995

That is a 2:1 margin! As you can see the statement last year that the NIV 2011 “has gone beyond acceptable translation standards” is clearly false as it is in the majority of recent major English translations.

23 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Tyler,

Thank you so much for your comments. You have clearly thought about this issue very much. In regards to #1, I stand by my outline and encourage others to watch the video and draw conclusions for themselves.

Your other comments were made in defense of gender-neutral translations. To be honest, I think you are missing the main point of what we are debating here. Southern Baptists have said in three resolutions that gender-neutral bibles are inaccurate. From this we can reasonable infer, by the near unanimous votes for the resolutions, that the SBC does not support gender-neutral bibles. This is not to say that you do not have valid points, but Mohler, Patterson, Moore, Burk, etc. plus three near unanimous resolutions show consensus. The debate is should our bookstore chain sell what we believe to be inaccurate? There seems to be broad discontentment with how Lifeway is setting criteria for product sales (see motions/resolution/floor discussion).

In my opinion, your arguments about gender-neutral bible translation are more than answered by CBMW.

Thank you for sharing, and I encourage you and others to visit the CBMW links I mentioned above. . . especially the CBMW report on the 2011 NIV.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

24 Tyler Culp June 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Brother Tim,

You mention that in three resolutions Southern Baptist have rejected gender neutral translation. This is true, what is equally true, however, is that I know of numerous people who after all the negative publicity over the NIV 2011 wanted to switch translations…most of them wanted to go to the NLT. This shows how little the average Church member (even the average delegate) understands about translation and therefore (in my opinion) invalidates the three resolutions.

As far as Dr. Mohler and Dr. Burk (among others) they clearly understand the issue. However, from my vantage point it looks like they are confusing feminism and gender neutral translation. They react negatively (again from my vantage point) against gender neutral translations because they dislike feminism and egalitarianism and confuse those issues with gender neutral translation (when they are completely separate issues).

I have browsed the CBMW report on the NIV 2011 (I will admit that I have not read it in full). Yet, what I saw (again from my vantage point) seemed like an emotional response fueled by fear and anger as opposed to a logical argument against it.

I will support this claim by giving two examples:

1) The report compares the NIV 2011 to the TNIV. It assumes that everywhere the NIV 2011 agrees with the TNIV it is a mistake and everywhere there is a change that it is a correction. It even gives stats about how much the NIV 2011 agrees with the TNIV when the report should instead be asking does the NIV 2011 faithful represent the Greek or Hebrew. The report does cite the Greek or Hebrew but in its conclusion it bases its evaluation on relation to the TNIV. What if the TNIV got it right? Or what if when changing a rendering from the TNIV to the NIV 2011 they went with another gender neutral rendering? In the first case you punish the NIV 2011 for getting it wrong when it got it right. In the second you praise the NIV 2011 for getting it right when according to the philosophy of the CBMW it still has it wrong. This is silly! Yet this is what is done when the conclusion is based on resemblance to the TNIV like is done.

2) The CBMW report argues some ridiculous concepts. The report wants Romans 16:7 to either be rendered as “Junias” or as “well-known to the apostles”. This shows how much the report is blinded by their own ideology! They would whether the text be wrong twice than once, because if it is wrong twice then complementarinism is protected but it if is wrong once in the wrong way (as they claim the NIV 2011 is) then is might somehow promote egalitarianism.

How am I supposed to take a report like that seriously?

As far as the question of Romans 16:7 goes, let me give my opinion. First of all virtually every translation made in the last 20 years renders the name as Junia (female) instead of Junias (male). From what I have read about the question, this seems solid and correct. The question than becomes is this person “well known to the apostles” or “prominent among the apostles” meaning that there was a female apostle. I will admit that here some of the arguments are over my head, yet from what I can understand I think “prominent among the apostles” is the correct rendering. One interesting thing to consider, is that no one to my knowledge ever tried to say that Junia/Junias was “well known to the apostles” instead of “prominent among the apostles” until it was shown that the person in question was female. That should say something about how the Greek most naturally reads.

Yet is a female apostle so threatening to complementarinism? Dr. Moo does not think so (I believe it is his NICNT commentary on Romans, but I am far from certain) where he renders it as “Junia” and as “prominent among the apostles” but then proceeds to explain that apostle here means missionary. That is entirely possible. But even if that was incorrect would it still be such a large threat to complementarinism? Israel was led religiously by males but you still had a female judge and female prophets from time to time, why couldn’t this be a similar case?

Grace and Peace,
Tyler

25 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Tyler,

Thank you so much for your comments. I would recommend reading other reports by CBMW on Junia/Junias. Unfortunately, the web site is incomplete and finding addition scholarship there is difficult at present. Hopefully the updates to cbmw.org will soon be complete and more resources will be available for everyone.

In your concerns about the TNIV being too weighty in this debate, its important to remember the near universal outrage at the TNIV across the evangelical world. All conservatives came out against that translation. So much so, that it was literally pulled from the shelves. Comparing the NIV 2011 to the TNIV is done so that people will see that the same dangerous translation philosophy remains in the new version.

Most translations update every few years and do not remain static. The NIV had not been changed since 1984. Now that a change has occurred, regular updates in the translation will take place with little press. Some are concerned that as time goes on more changes will be made to the 2011 NIV that makes it even more like the TNIV.

While many egalitarians role their eyes at any mention of CBMW, among the SBC the organization is VERY respected. I think their concerns about the accuracy of the 2011 NIV need to be made to the Lifeway trustees. We will see what they choose to do. . . I hope they will decide to listen.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

26 David Rogers June 22, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Tim,

Since the main point of my post was not to argue for or against the merits of your resolution, and I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert on Bible translation, I am struggling with deciding how best to answer you here. Yet, since I did bring up the subject of your resolution, I feel I owe you at least some answer to what you write.

I have read through your comments and the various links you provide. They have been helpful in seeking to arrive at a fuller understanding of the issues involved. I myself am a PhD student at SEBTS, have studied entry-level Greek and Hebrew, and am also fluent in two languages (Spanish and English) and have a bit of experience with regard to translation between these languages. At the risk of coming across as a bit arrogant, I would daresay that my understanding of the issues involved in Bible translation is greater than that of the average messenger at a typical SBC annual meeting. And yet, in spite of all this, and having read the documents you have provided, I still do not feel adequately qualified to make a decision without a fair amount of further study and information on whether Lifeway should sell the 2011 NIV or not. While I may have a few opinions on this or that aspect of the issues involved, I recognize the need to defer on this question to those who have greater expertise and knowledge than I do. This leads me to conclude it is likely best that SBC messengers do the same.

I can say the knowledge I do have (of Spanish, Greek, and Hebrew) has led me to appreciate the complexity involved with regard to the literal translation of gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns and other gender-related terms. The most literal translation is not always the most accurate as far as effectively communicating the intended meaning of a text.

I also feel Smuschany, in his comment later on in this comment stream, as well as several other commenters, have given some valid points to consider.

From what I read in the various documents to which you have linked, it appears the main concern (though not the only one) with the NIV 2011 has to do with the translation of 1 Tim. 2:12. Ironically, however, it seems to me that the rendering of the KJV, “But I suffer not a woman to,,,usurp authority over the man,” is, by the criteria suggested, more “feminist friendly” than that of the NIV 2011. Would you be in favor of Lifeway discontinuing sales of the KJV as well?

Also, it seems to me it is somewhat misleading to use the term “gender-neutral translation” to refer indiscriminately to the TNIV, NIV 2011, and other translations. It seems to me to obscure the fact that there are important differences in the overall approach of each to gender-related issues. I sincerely wonder how many of those who voted in favor of the resolution in Phoenix understood this.

In any case, I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue about these matters. This type of dialogue is precisely what I am referring to in my post. I hope to continue to learn more about these issues, and to be faithful to the Lord and the authority of His Word in the positions I advocate, and I appreciate your input, as we each seek to build up one another and encourage each other in our search to better understand the truth.

27 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

David,

Thank you so much for a very kind and thoughtful email. I also appreciate you allowing me to post on SBCvoices. As stated earlier, I believe there is broad consensus on gender-neutral bibles being inaccurate in the SBC (see three near unanimous resolutions condemning gender-neutrality as well as notable leaders saying the same thing). The million dollar question is should the ministry of Lifeway sell these inaccurate bibles to the general public. Dr. Markos’ article is very helpful here (CBMW Journal Spring 2012, page 27 cbmw.org). Gender-neutral translation methodology actively promotes a feminist agenda. This was clearly stated in gender-neutral NRSV preface:

“During the almost half a century since the publication of the RSV, many in the churches have become sensitive to the danger of linguistic sexism arising from the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender, a bias that in the case of the Bible has often restricted or obscured the meaning of the original text. The mandates from the Division specified that, in references to men and women, masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.”

Note that the English “masculine-oriented language” often reflects the masculine-oriented language of the original manuscripts. Now if each word is inspired by God, then how can the original manuscripts themselves be sinfully sexist? I was a philosophy major in college. Presuppositions almost always determine outcome. The presuppositions of gender-neutral translation philosophy are hopelessly flawed. Once one believes that God used sinfully sexist language in the words of the original manuscripts of scripture, then there is no end to the havoc translators can do to the text. Every term addressing gender can be dismissed as sexist. God is not to blame, but the sexist language of the ancient world is to blame. Such views of scripture will destroy trust in God’s word and inerrancy too. I believe Southern Baptists must make a firm stand and say we will never sell flawed translations of God’s holy word. Thankfully, messengers agreed with my views concerning the NIV in 2011.

The other issue this raises are matters about SBC organization and authority. Southern Baptists are wonderfully organized into a system where trustees can protect our entities against the whims of the SBC floor. That said, we also empower the floor to authoritatively express the will of the convention. These are both wonderful things and create healthy tension. When there is disagreement between the floor and trustees of an entity, I believe the best coarse of action is open and honest dialog. . . and our conversations need to be respectful and intelligent.

I believe Dr. Rainer saying “Trust the trustees” does not facilitate dialog and discussion. Every pastor knows how to work a study committee process. The executive/pastor appoints a group of people who will support his desired outcome. The study committee uses implicit trust to gain the support of the larger trustee/church body. Knowing how to navigate such committees can be a part of wise leadership if used for the benefit of the body. That said, it is simply untrue that all Lifeway trustees heard both sides of the gender-neutral issue. My motion was an attempt to change this.

My hope and prayer is that people like you will support and open and honest dialog. Lifeway trustees should be allowed to hear notable Southern Baptists and other scholars speak to this important issue. I believe if trustees hear those with my perspective, then they will vote to cease selling the gender-neutral NIV along with other gender-neutral bibles.

Let me end by saying that a gender-neutral bible is not about one or two verses being translated this or that way. Gender-neutral translation is a feminist philosophical system. To believe that sinfully sexist language is in the original manuscripts of scripture is a fundamentally flawed translation philosophy. What scares me to death are those translators who focus on individual words and sentences yet fail to consider their translation philosophy’s presuppositions. Gender neutrality is bigger than how we interpret words and sentences, its about how we view scripture itself.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

28 Louis June 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Tim:

I just saw this comment of yours. I am sorry that I did not realize who you are when I read the comment above this one, as I would have approached it differently.

This is a lot of material to digest, obviously. I am familiar with the general debate between formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence. My wife is an interpreter/translator at a local children’s hospital, so she has to do this about 10,000 times a day. The basic tension, as you know, is that sometimes a literal translation fails to communicate well.

Without rehashing all of the points and counterpoints, I would tend to favor formal equivalence when it came to Jesus’s words. But even then, I sometimes see that Jesus used “men” to mean “all people.” Other times, “sons” is used and should be retained because it has theological significance.

I do not ever suspect that Jesus will become the “only begotten child of God” in respectable translations or that Southern Baptists will ever promote such a thing. God’s Fatherhood, moral commands etc., are beyond responsible translation choices.

Will someone do that? Of course. Jefferson had his own Bible, and that was over 200 years ago. People could have been doing this all along, but they haven’t because it usually goes nowhere.

Finally, I appreciate much of the what the CBMW have to say, but what they have to say is an opinion. The trustees are free to have them speak at their meetings, and they are free to not have them speak. I will not get upset either way.

The better way, in my opinion, is rather than address concerns about the new NIV or other books through LifeWay’s sales policy (which again is never going to be perfect or please everyone), is for you and CBMW to continue to address the defects in these books.

Rather than fighting these books by policing LifeWay so tightly, it would be better to simply address the problems with the books.

Just because LifeWay sells something does not mean it ought to be the purchase option for people.

And you and CBMW have my full support in mounting your arguments. LifeWay would probably even sell them!

Just don’t go picketing at the stores.

29 David Rogers June 22, 2012 at 11:47 am

Marty,

Thanks for the link, and your observations on this. It is still amazing to me the resolution in Phoenix passed by such a large margin. This is the perfect example of the complicated issues involved with the representative form of church and denominational polity we have in the SBC.

30 Marty Duren June 22, 2012 at 11:53 am

I’m of the persuasion it was the misinformation you noted that created the large margin. The worry about feminizing God’s name, etc–which was utterly unfounded–caused the swing.

If nothing else the study group dispelled the need for such alarm and provided answers to benefit the entire convention.

Good to hear from you. Were you in NOLA?

31 David Rogers June 22, 2012 at 11:57 am

I was not able to make it to NOLA. But I followed a lot of the proceedings online. Good to hear from you too.

32 Doug Hibbard June 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I would say this in defense of many of the messengers at Phoenix: you had a resolution that was not on the bulletin, as it was listed as “not being presented” by the Resolutions Committee. As a result, how many of the messengers in the time between the motion to consider the resolution and the vote on it actually had time to research the finer points?

It is a good argument for why we utilize trustee governance over these entities: had I been in Phoenix, I might have voted for the NIV resolution simply because it agreed with what I had heard but had not researched.

Lifeway handled it appropriately by studying the issue. I do think that the follow-through could have been presented more graciously. Much of what has been said does present this as a case of “educated scholars” versus “ignorant messengers” and that could have been handled better, perhaps by communicating clearly which passages cause the doubts and why Lifeway found it ok.

I know much of that is scattered across the internet, but Lifeway did have presentations made to them about this. Those could have been linked on the Lifeway website (not the storefront, but down in the “About” or somewhere) explaining to the people of the SBC the reasoning. Would have been helpful.

33 Debbie Kaufman June 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm

You know what is saddest of all? The NIV had a sample version to read. Anyone could access it. In fact there were several sites (and I did argue this with links) where anyone could go and read a sample. It was there one could read there was no gender change in the language other than the addition of the word sister along with the word brother or all being translated male and female. Yet, it seems none wanted to check it out as I was surprised with the overwhelming vote in Phoenix too and this is one time I am grateful the trustees overruled that vote.

34 Scott Hamlin June 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm

David,

Do we really want to debate these things from the floor of the SBC or let trustees do a thorough study and report back as requested? The trustees did “respectfully consider”, which is what the SBC asked.

Scott

35 Frank Gantz June 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm

David, great post. I really like the manner in which some of these debates are taking shape. I honestly was not so hopeful a few weeks ago. Christian civility is a wonderful virtue.

36 Joe Blackmon June 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm

What Lifeway’s decision to sell the NIV proved is that there is nothing–not one single thing–that Lifeway wouldn’t sell if they thought it was Christian related in the slightest if they think people will buy it. They don’t make decisions based on a concern for faithfulness to the gospel. They make decisions based on dollar signs, period.

They have sold The Shack, books by T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen, and the new NIV. As Stan Lee used to say ” Nuff said”.

37 Jim June 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm

They don’t carry Osteen or Jakes. I challenge you to find either of those in your local store. As for “The Shack”, it is FICTION.

38 Jamie June 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Joe-
You are using a skewed view. I would wager that LifeWay gives up millions if not tens of millions of dollars a year in Jakes and Osteen (and others) books it does not sell. The Shack is accepted by many and rejected by many all over the orthodox spectrum. If you want to buy it, you can. If you don’t, it isn’t being forced on you. There are plenty of conservatives (me for one) who found much value along with some disagreement.

What it comes to for The Shack, The Blind Side or the NIV is whether a few thousand annually-changing messengers should be in charge of product selection? I don’t see how that would ever be workable.

39 Denny Burk June 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hello, all. Interesting conversation so far. For those of you who don’t know, Tim Overton and I are friends stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one another in our opposition to the NIV. Indeed, his original resolution was based in large part on the articles that I wrote for CBMW (see links above).

Tim and I do have a disagreement, however, about whether or not Lifeway should sell the NIV. In my view, I think the trustees got it right to allow the NIV to continue to be sold in Lifeway stores. My main goal is to persuade people not to purchase the NIV, not to have it banned from any particular store.

On the issue of “authority,” it is incorrect to say that an “SBC agency has refused to follow the will of the convention.” The messengers of the convention have chosen to govern their institutions through trustee boards. Though resolutions reflect the will of messengers at a single convention, resolutions are non-binding. What is binding is the the fact that messengers choose trustees to govern our institutions.

It’s not “elitist” to let the trustees govern. That is the job that the messengers of the convention have appointed and expect them to do. And in this case, I’m happy with the decision that they made.

Thanks for the conversation. Blessings!

Denny Burk

40 Louis June 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Denny,

These are very good comments. Along the line of what I said above.

Trying to police the culture, even the Christian culture, by policing LifeWay is a bad road to go down.

It’s usually better to just address the merits or problems of a book.

41 Fred Johnson June 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

So Mr. Overton, what you appear to be saying is the scholars LifeWay chose for their inquiry are not to your liking so they need to get scholars to your liking? This feels like some kind of elitism.

I believe Russ Moore, who is on the CBMW, spoke against your motion last year. Is he not a good enough scholar? How does Paige Patterson excel Moore in this area? What are Paige Patterson’s credentials for evaluating Bible translations? Has he served on no major translation committee that I can find. It seems like you’re trying to ride CR coattails by including him in your efforts.

On the issue gender neutrality, Dr. Patterson seems to be confused. He heartily endorsed the ESV: “For our churches and pulpits, as well as for our students, it is critically important to have a Bible translation that does not compromise orthodox theology or gender issues, and that is both faithful to the languages of the text and eminently readable. The ESV uniquely fulfills that prescription.” Yet Mark L. Strauss correctly notes: “The recently published English Standard Version (ESV; Crossway Bibles, 2001) is a revision of the Revised Standard Version (RSV, 1952). <b)One of the major areas of revision in the ESV is the introduction of gender-inclusive language (sometimes called gender-neutral language). In hundreds of cases the ESV introduces terms like “one” or “person” or “others” for the RSV’s masculine generic terms “man” and “men.”

…the ESV is very much like the recently published Today’s New International Version (TNIV), which revises the New International Version (NIV) in a similar manner. The ESV should be commended for its generous use of gender-inclusive language in contexts where the text is meant to be generic and inclusive. The translators recognized that masculine generic terms in Hebrew and Greek are best translated with inclusive ones in contemporary English.”

Mr. Overton, the champion you gave chosen for your position is inconsistent. He is on record supporting a version of the Bible that uses the exact same translational technique as the 2011NIV. How, exactly, this qualifies him for this task is a mystery to me.

42 Tim Overton June 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Fred,

I believe your post is an insult to a very important man of God. Dr. Patterson is president of a prestigious seminary. He has also accomplished much for Christ’s Kingdom in his life. The trustees at Lifeway would be very blessed to hear from a man of his stature. If you will recall, Dr. Russ Moore said “I share many of your concerns” when he spoke to me on the floor in Phoenix. Dr. Moore agreed that the Bible is inaccurate, but did not believe the issue was of such importance that a resolution was needed. Obviously, the convention disagreed.

According the the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 75% of the TNIV is now in the 2011 NIV (http://www.cbmw.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/cbmw-final-analysis-of-2011-niv.pdf). Dr. Mohler has agreed that the gender-neutral 2011 NIV is inaccurate (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=35663). Dr. Wayne Grudem and Dr. Denny Burk also side with those who believe the new NIV is inaccurate. The million dollar question is this: should Lifeway sell a version of the Bible that is inaccurate and Southern Baptists believe to be inaccurate? Being a convictional institution means that we do not distribute inaccurate bibles and heretical material. . . ever. . . regardless of the financial implications.

The truly confusing perspective I hear is from those who believe the 2011 NIV is inaccurate but nevertheless should be sold. Again, what kind of ministry distributes inaccurate copies of God’s word to the general public? If it is inaccurate, let us not sell the flawed translation.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

43 Ryan June 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Inaccurate should not be conflated with heretical.

44 Tim Overton June 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Great point Ryan! You hit the nail right on the head. I believe gender-neutral translation philosophy is heretical. Please visit this website and read a wonderful article by Dr. Louis Markos. Here is the website:

http://www.cbmw.org/

Click the download button for the journal on the bottom right, and then go to page 27.

Title: “From the NRSV to the New NIV: Why Gender-Neutral
Language Represents an Enforced Agenda Rather than a
Natural Evolution” by Louis Markos

Main Idea: “the Bible is being used to promote an agenda rooted in feminist propaganda and originally meant to obscure (if not eliminate) all essential, God-given distinctions between the sexes. Again, that is not to claim that all proponents of gender-neutral translations believe in that agenda—but the agenda is there nonetheless.”

45 Fred Johnson June 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Mr. Overton-
You didn’t answer my question. What are Dr. Patterson’s credentials that qualify him to serve in such a task? I didn’t ask for a bunch of other people’s thoughts about it. Other than he’s on your side, what qualifies him? What is his linguistic background qualifying him for this? Why are you promoting a man who stands on both sides of this one issue?

46 Jim June 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Why does Dr. Patterson not want LifeWay to sell the NIV? He must feel this way if he agreed to speak against the product being sold. Tim, why would you go to Dr. Patterson instead of Dr. Mohler or even Denny Burk for their support?

47 Tim Overton June 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Hello Fred,

Here is his bio from Southwestern’s website: http://www.paigepatterson.info/about.cfm. Sometimes I forget that I’m talking to people who may not be familiar with Southern Baptist leaders and history. Dr. Patterson was the theological powerhouse behind the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Baptist_Convention_conservative_resurgence and http://www.amazon.com/Hill-Which-Die-Southern-Baptists/dp/0805426345/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340394223&sr=8-1&keywords=a+hill+on+which+to+die). He has recently written a commentary on Revelation (http://www.amazon.com/Revelation-The-New-American-Commentary/product-reviews/0805401393/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1). There are none who know Dr. Patterson and his work who doubt his ability to speak to language/translation issues. In short, he is a living legend. Just as no one would say of Francis Shaffer “Is he qualified?”, so no one who knows Dr. Patterson doubts his intellectual prowess. I hope these links help a little.

If you still believe Dr. Patterson is unqualified, perhaps looking at other scholars who support his position will help you know the soundness of his position.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

48 Fred Johnson June 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Mr. Overton,
I guess I’m not making myself clear, but there is a world of difference between gathering people to vote for a cause, no matter how noble, and evaluating biblical translation. There are hundreds of authors of commentaries, and dozens do seminary presidents who do not serve in such a capacity. Nothing you have written indicates Dr. Patterson’s experience in Bible translation, nor that he has ever served in such a capacity, nor any qualifications. I find your arguments unpersuasive in their entirety.

You also distorted your original statement on Southern Baptist leaders above. Al Mohler and Paige Patterson are most definitely two of the leaders, but they, in no way, speak for the majority of Southern Baptists, or even two sides of the convention. That is patently absurd. The SBC does not have bishops. Which other leaders have opposed it or its sale at LifeWay?

As to your constant appeals to the CBMW surely you realize the SBC is a separate entity. We do not look to them for our guidance. Though many, including yourself, find them authoritative, many do not. The current president of the CBMW, Russell Moore, spoke against your motion. Constant appeals to them are unpersuasive since CBMW has no authority and have no position regarding LifeWay.

49 Jim June 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

Simple question here: Did Dr. Patterson know you were going to
make that motion and include him in it? That would show his level of
concern, for sure.

50 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Hello Jim,

I was in contact with Dr. Patterson concerning this motion. This is why I could say that both he and Dr. Markos have agreed to speak to the Lifeway trustees if invited. I hope this clarifies things a bit.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

51 Jim June 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm

It does help clarify some. It also provokes another question as to why Dr. Patterson would agree to insert himself into another entity’s issue (that had already been resolved, mind you). I doubt he would approve of Dr. Mohler or Dr. Hadaway advising his staff as to what textbooks they could teach from.

52 David Rogers June 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Just checking in to say I am not intentionally being evasive with respect to the comments that have been posted since my last comment. I have other responsibilities to attend to, though, and some of the issues involved require a bit of research and reflection in order to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth. I do plan on replying in one way or another to various of the comments given so far, especially those of Tim Overton. In the meantime, any of you who are more knowledgeable on these issues, please feel free to continue to give your input.

53 Mike Duncan June 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Hi all:

It seems like Tim has two strikes. The author on whose work he leaned on initially has made it clear in this thread that he yields to the Lifeway trustees. The chairman of CBMW, Russell Moore, dealt with issue during the 2011 debate.

Now, regarding his last plentiful appeal, Dr. Paige Patterson’s stature in SBC life . . .

Many fallacies could be raised against his arguments Here. For example, it simply is not Baptist to yield such authority to one voice. Given this, it seems doubtful Dr. Patterson would grant permission for his name to be used in the motion.

Tim tried to use Patterson’s name to leverage support among the messengers. This, Tim, was an act of disrespect–to Dr. Patterson and the messengers.

Mike T Duncan

54 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Hello Mike,

Thank you for your comments. As you might imagine, I have a different perspective. Three times the convention has said gender-neutral Bible translations are inaccurate. So, this question is settled among Southern Baptists if one believes resolutions mean something. The question is should Lifeway sell an inaccurate Bible? Some say yes while others say no. I believe this debate needs to be had. Does the ministry of Lifeway want to sell inaccurate and questionable material? I believe most Southern Baptists say “No”. To support me I have two resolutions passed by messengers by a near unanimous margin asking Lifeway not to sell a gender-neutral Bible. My opponents have no votes by the convention stating their desire to sell these flawed copies of God’s inerrant word.

Blessings,

Tim

55 Smuschany June 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm

First in regards to denomination democracy and trustees. True democracy, that is governance by complete and total will of the people, is always a bad idea. In nearly every instance this is tried, it leads to mob rule and the suppression of the minority by the coercive and heavy handed tactics of the majority. This is true in whichever setting such a democracy is set in. One observation that I have observed in regards to Baptist politiy, is that some equate it with the government form we have in the United States government. Such a comparison is false. The United States, in Federal, State, and most local levels is run as a Republican (aka representative) democracy. That is that the people elect certain individuals to decide the issues for the whole of the people. If such representatives are deemed not to follow the will of the people, they are not reelected and new leaders are chosen. This is the genius (dare I say divinely inspired) of what the American founders ended up creating.

In terms of SBC polity, we want to have such a congregational vote, that in cases like the 2011 Phoenix vote, we have a vote purely on emotion with little substantive facts to support it. The “people” want to dictate how a large business is run, ignoring any other considerations on how their decision might effect anything and everything else.

This leads me to my second point, which is, as I just stated, Lifeway is a business. While it is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, the bookstore arm is exactly that, a store. Further, it is a store which does not exclusively cater to SBC clientele, rather it serves all Christians looking for a place to buy Christian based material. Now of course as it is apart of the SBC we do want to make sure it is run in a Christlike way, that it only provides solid Christlike material.

But to what extent do we take that? We want to ban the NIV 2011 for what some say it contains, yet will allow other translations like “The Message” or the “RSV” on the shelves, when those translations have just as many, if not more theological and translational flaws than the NIV 2011 does. Or what of the “sacred” KJV? Almost every serious language scholar can go into detail on how poor that translation is in light of manuscript evidence. Shall we not sell that as well? Do we stop selling the grossly unbiblican Left Behind series? If we allow the decision on what books a bookstore can sell, to be determined by popular vote, than we risk the next decision by majority vote to be something else, maybe the “evil Calvinist” ESV. Deciding to ban books is a very dangerous and slippery slope. The danger of a true democracy making those decisions is again, the vote is often not based on truth, but rather emotion and rhetoric, rather than facts and substance.

This is why I think that the Trustee leadership of institutions like Lifeway is important and needed. Let these men and women make the decisions, and then if we do not approve, then the next time that we have a Trustee vote, we remove the people who we feel were wrong. After all, is this not how the CR was accomplished? Several years of elections of conservative leaders to Trustee positions until there were enough votes to allow them to select conservative leaders to run those institutions?

56 Mike Duncan June 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Tim,

You continue to kick and scream that the Lifeway trustees went against the will of the people.

And, you continue argue that the NIV 2011 is an inaccurate translation.

You continue to miss the substantial points that so many have raised in this thread. The commenters are trying to help you see that your argument does not work.

Let me help by drawing them out:

1) Your arguments here go against SBC polity.

A.  Our agencies are governed by trustees. You don’t like the decisions that they make then tell them.  You don’t like the trustees change them. There are ways to this. It might take you 20 years. 

B. You use Dr. Patterson’s name for leverage to persuade people and them appeal to the will of the people. (This is unethical and easy to see through.)

Resolutions passes by the messengers are non-binding. That does not mean they are unimportant. But, you can’t make them what they are not.

2) Your arguments go against reality. 

A. A resolution was passed. Lifeway took it serious. They studied the issue and consulted scholars. They did ignore the messengers request. They made a decision that you disagree with. Those are two different things. (And, btw, you don’t know what the messengers would do today if asked to revisit the resolution. We can only guess.)

B. You continue to appeal to Burke, Mohler and Moore for support, and they don’t support your cause. They’ve said so–opposing the naming of an agency in a resolution, telling Lifeway that they should not sell the NIV, and pushing against the decision of the trustees.

3. Your arguments confuse the votes of the messengers. 

A. You do not have three resolutions on the NIV 2011. This translation may still have problems (they all do) but it is not the TNIV. That was what the messengers previously responded to. In doing that they were responding to a certain application of gender neutral language in a translation.

Let me say it another way: You can’t vote against oranges and then when a manderine oranges are considered say it has already been voted on. That is a simple logical fallacy. 

4. Your arguments confuse the whole gender neutral discussion. 

The TNIV and NIV 2011 are not the same translations. Improvements have been made. Further, nearly every modern translation uses gender neutral language. That NIV 2011 does this differently than the ESV has as much to do with the NIV’s translation philosophy that has been accepted for 30 years than gender neutral agenda. 

Case in point: a number of Evangelical complementarians are supportive of the NIV 2011. Two biblical scholars that support it are DA Carson and Doug Moo. And, word is John MacArthur’s new study  Bible will use the NIV 2011.

So, a balanced and nuanced perspective on this translation is out there and you are ignoring it. And are frustrated that the Lifeway trustees are not, and made a informed decision. In your frustration, you question their motives and commitment the Bible. That says more about this whole conversation than you are willing to see and admit.

So, your resolution last year thin appeal on unstable ground, and the Lifeway concluded this very thing. You don’t like their conclusion but that is not their fault. It shows little cooperative humility from you. 

5) Finally, you’ve been asked in this thread whether Dr. Patterson gave you permission to use his name in the motion. You replied by saying you talked to him about your motion. That is not a direct answer to the question. But, it is enough of an answer for us to assume that he did not give you permission to use his name. 

If you used it without his permission, then we are to assume that you were trying to manipulate the messengers. Shame on you! 

If my assumption is wrong and he gave you permission, a more direct answer would be appreciated.  

Mike Duncan

57 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Mike,

You have said a lot and I hope to address your concerns below. I hope this helps. By the way, I’m not trying to “kick and scream”. :-) I also think it is not wise to call heart felt conviction shameful. Let’s try to keep the inflammatory language to a minimum. Its the least we can do as Christian brothers.

1. SBC polity is mentioned above. We do give trustees responsibility for our entities. We also empower the floor of the SBC to speak authoritatively for the convention. This creates a healthy tension. When trustees and the floor disagree, then an open dialog needs to take place. Two entities with authority have disagreed (Lifeway trustees and the convention floor). I asked Lifeway trustees to hear respected scholars who disagree with their decision. What harm can be done by such a presentation being made? My point of view wants a conversation. You seem to advocate no ongoing conversation at all. Such a stand does not bode well for cooperation.

2. A. All the trustees did not hear both sides of this debate. The recommendation given by the Lifeway study committee advocated an outcome. My hope is that all the trustees will hear those with my perspective by allowing Dr. Patterson and Dr. Markos plus others to speak.

B. 75% of the TNIV is in the NIV according to CBMW. You are one of the few who argue that the 2011 NIV is not gender-neutral. Gender-neutrality is a translation philosophy that Southern Baptist are on record against. Again, I refer to numerous leaders’ statements and three resolutions speaking to the matter specifically.

I separate the issues of gender-neutrality (which, in my opinion, is settle in SBC life) and Lifeway selling these materials. I see no fault in naming men who believe gender-neutral bibles are flawed. While they may be ok with flawed bibles being sold by Lifeway, I believe most Southern Baptists do not want errant copies of God’s word sold. Please see my response to David concerning how gender-neutral Bible translations utilize feminist philosophy.

3. I do have three votes against gender-neutral translations methods. Please read each of the resolutions. You seem to be arguing that the 2011 NIV is somehow not gender-neutral. Again, 75% of the TNIV is in the NIV. If the SBC is against gender-neutral bibles, then they are certainly against the 2011 NIV. . . especially since the 2011 resolution specifically mentions that version.

4. Again, the NIV that you believe is so different from the TNIV has 75% of the same language. I would again point to the fact that gender-neutral bible translation is a philosophical system supported by feminism. You want to separate apples and oranges while failing to see all gender-neutral ideas are fruit of the same feminst tree. Please read Dr. Markos article on this matter. (Let me also note that I’m not frustrated as you suggest. In fact, I count it an honor to be able to vouch for my ideas on SBCvoices. Thank you so much David!)

5. I received explicit permission from Dr. Patterson and Dr. Markos to use their names. They knew exactly what I was doing and blessed the endeavor with their support. Both are wonderful men and I thank God for their boldness.

I do hope we can have a more civil discussion in our next exchange Mike. One of the reasons I have not blogged before was the poor tone found in many bloggers. I am more than willing to discuss ideas. Let’s discuss things in a Christ-centered way.

Blessings to you!
Tim Overton

58 Fred Johnson June 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Mr. Overton,
I’m echoing Mike Duncan’s question above because to is the same one that came to mind. You are saying that you spoke to Dr. Patterson prior to presenting your motion. You say he agreed to serve on this possible committee. Did Dr. Patterson give you permission to use his name in your motion? If he didn’t give you hos express permission, did he know you planned to use his name?

59 Fred Johnson June 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm

You posted whole I was composing. Thanks for you response.

60 Fred Johnson June 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm

*while

61 Brent Hobbs June 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

So much for this thread not being mainly about the virtues of the NIV 2011, right? :)

I appreciate the tone of the comment thread. My main concern is that ground is being ceded too easily that the NIV2011 is a poor/faulty/untrustworthy translation.

I’ve used it frequently in my study to compare with other translations and the Greek text. Folks, the NIV2011 is an excellent translation. The idea that Lifeway should not sell it is really ridiculous.

Let’s remember that the translation committee is made up of some of the best NT scholars in the world, many of whom are complementarians themselves. D. A. Carson preaches out of this version for Pete’s sake!

We should be able to disagree about aspects of translation philosophy without reverting to some simplistic accurate/inaccurate dichotomy. I, too, wish the committee hadn’t made some of the decisions they made in certain places. (We can say that about ANY translation, right?) But I can still recognize that the NIV2011 is among the top 2-4 English translations available today.

Even Denny, who’s been one of the biggest critics (I think sometimes too harsh), doesn’t think Lifeway should stop selling it.

62 Fred Johnson June 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Don’t forget John MacArthur’s use of the NIV. He’s not exactly a flaming liberal. I think we’d have to consider that feminist agenda a flop, too. If the best “they” can do is get “brothers” changed to “brothers and sisters” and “servant” changed to “deacon” they have bigger problems than Tim imagines LifeWay to have.

63 Jim June 23, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I agree with Brent here. There has not exactly been a big pushback on the translation. Certainly not like the TNIV.

I respect your conviction on the issue as well, Tim. I just wonder if you hadn’t brought this up, would anyone else? There were almost 8,000 messengers at the SBC. Did anyone contact you saying you “beat them to the punch” on this? I ask because it seems to be a personal complaint, not a collective concern.

When there were debates about The Shack or other hot-button issues in the past, there were several groups of people concerned. LifeWay responded appropriately. However, I see none of those groups this time. Even (possibly) the most outspoken critic in Dr. Burk agrees that he sees no issue with it being sold. If the CBMW journal editor and former Boyce College dean has no issue with the version being sold, I find it hard to put much stock much else.

The other angle of this is “where do you draw the line?” If a book quotes the NIV, can it be sold? What’s the difference? How can you possibly police that? As a business, this would make LifeWay a laughingstock in the industry. They’re already fighting a poor perception among some southern baptists. Why add to it?

We should support what they’re doing, not nitpick issues. I do no doubt your concern is legitimate to you. I think we all get that you are passionate about this.

So, what’s your endgame? What are you hoping for out of this? When the trustees stand by their decision (which they will), what next? Do you march on Nashville from Ohio?

It might just be time to move on, Tim. There are people coming to Christ everyday through reading the NIV. And there is a world that needs to know Christ as their savior. Let’s move on to the global issue at hand.

64 Tim Overton June 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Jim,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. As you can certainly tell, I believe this to be a serious issue. Agenda driven Bible translations are soon to become common due to cheap printing and an overabundant supply of PhDs. Gender-neutral bibles are the first of many bad translations headed our way. SBC leaders and pastors need to begin to educate our congregations about these complicated issues. I also fear that evangelicals are adopting a feminist translation philosophy without seeing the consequences. Descartes moved philosophy from revelation to reason. President Wilson moved U.S. law from natural law to a living document. These changes seemed minor and even correct at the time, but the presuppositions were devastating and set the coarse for very bad consequences. Adoption of gender-neutral translation philosophy is a similar move that looks innocent but will lead us to very bad places. I believe Southern Baptists would serve the Lord well by making a firm stand on this issue. Unfortunately, too few are doing so.

I would certainly say my position is in the minority of evangelicals. That said, with Dr. Patterson, Dr. Mohler, Dr. Markos, Dr. Grudem, Dr. Burk, and Focus on the Family all agreeing that the 2011 NIV is inaccurate, I would hardly consider myself alone. There are also plenty who support my efforts to remove gender-neutral bibles from Lifeway. So, to answer your question, I do not feel like the lone ranger.

I would personally like to see Lifeway make its criteria for the materials it sells public. Dr. Draper did not seem to have many complaints on the convention floor about the materials he sold. This leads me to believe that Dr. Rainer could do a better job on this issue. There will always be gray areas, but a flawed bible being sold to the general public is a black and white issue to many.

As far as people coming to Christ through the NIV, there are some who come to Christ through the preaching of Benny Hinn. Praise be to God. . . who can make straight licks with crooked sticks. :-) Thanks for the comments Jim. What a blessing it is to converse with Christian brothers.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

65 Brent Hobbs June 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Jim, I’d even add re: the TNIV…

I had a friend at DTS back when the whole TNIV debate was going on. I joined in the criticism with everyone else but my friend (outside SBC but very conservative and evangelical) argued with me the whole thing was blown way out of proportion. Looking back on it, I think he was right. Not that there were not some very legitimate concerns about the TNIV, but we made it out to be a spawn of Satan when it didn’t quite deserve that kind of treatment.

66 Fred Johnson June 24, 2012 at 9:01 am

Mr. Overton:

I’m trying to tie up some loose ends on questions asked to you or issues you’ve raised. I’ll list them in a way that will make your responses easier.

1) You name two SBC seminary presidents and a faculty member supporting your cause, along with a couple of other theologians who aren’t SBC. You fail to note that leaves 3 seminary presidents and hundreds of professors who do not support your cause. It has been noted in this thread by Denny Burk himself that he is not in agreement with your end cause of having the NIV removed from LifeWay stores. If you continue to insinuate to people that he supports you, you are misrepresenting his stated position.

2) There is no widespread agreement of a “feminist agenda” to change the Bible. What there appears to be is a conspiracy theory to which you subscribe. It matters not if Dr. Markos writes an article a day in support of such a thing, that does not make it true. Even if there was such an agenda it does not mean this particular Bible translation committee has fallen for it. It has been explained in this thread the precautions in place to halt such an effort. (If you want to see a truly gender neutral Bible find a copy of The Inclusive Version by Oxford University Press. These translations are not even close.)

3) Some of the translators if the TNIV have admitted mistakes in that translation. That the new NIV agrees with 75% of the TNIV indicates the move toward accuracy, not the other way around. They have worked to fix the problematic portions. The TNIV sparked a massive outcry. The new NIV barely a whisper. This speaks to its veracity, not to a secret agenda.

4) You have yet to give me a single indication that Dr. Patterson is qualified to serve on such an evaluation committee. I am forced to conclude as others here have that you are more interested in pushing your agenda than finding the truth. You are asking people to trust his expertise in an area where you have yet to demonstrate he has any.

5) You also have never indicated how it is that Dr. Patterson affirms strongly the ESV while opposing the NIV, both of which use “gender-neutral” translation techniques. Isn’t he trying to stand on both sides of the issue when it is convenient?

6) I have watched the video to last year’s convention you linked to above. It’s clear to me that the messengers voted based on misinformation from you and the other messenger, who openly admitted he was not the best person to speak to the issue. This is what He said: “In 2000 we made a very strong statement with the Baptist Faith and Message affirming the biblical roles of men and women. And also we did speak very specifically against the TNIV, and because of this–this is God’s Word–if we affirm the roles God has given men and women and we also affirm God’s revelation of Himself as He and Jesus as He and even the Holy Spirit. If we affirm these things and it is the inerrant word of God, and we believe this, then certainly the world does look to Southern Baptists and the Southern Baptist Convention as a group of people who will speak to these issues…”

Any messenger listening who heard you assert an unproven feminist conspiracy, and the other messenger speculating on God’s gender, could easily be swayed to think incorrectly about the issue. This is exactly what happened. In spite of this misinformation, LifeWay still took the request seriously and responded with a trustee investigation. It seems their research did not agree with your speculations. That you continue to bang this drum, for me at least, raises more questions about your intent than any trustee board’s supposed ignoring the will of the convention.

67 Tim Overton June 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Hello Fred,

Thank you so much for your questions. I will follow the outline you have suggested in addressing your concerns.

1. I believe it is important to make distinctions between two issues. The first is the inaccuracy of the 2011 NIV. Dr. Burk and many others agree with me on this point. The second issue is a belief that Lifeway should not sell an inaccurate bible. Dr. Burk and others do not agree with me here. Please do not confuse claims of support on the first issue with the second.

2. The preface I quoted for the NRSV certainly shows a clear feminist agenda. You seem to be arguing that a translation that minimizes gender fewer times contains no agenda. My hope would be that you could see that this is the camel with his nose under the tent. Once a Bible translation buys into a few instances of minimizing gender to reduce sexism that philosophy will come to dominate future translations/updates. Righting a few instances of sexism will lead to future translators trying to correct them all. I do not believe this to be a slippery slope fallacy, ideas have consequences.

3. The 2011 NIV is certainly better than the TNIV. Even CBMW agrees with my last sentence. I wouldn’t say there is a conspiracy (more on this later), but there is an adoption of a feminist philosophy that sees gender references in the original text as problematic. Verbal Plenary Inspiration says inspired pronouns are not a problem. I also find it no coincidence that we are debating these issues given our culture is incredibly confused about all aspects of gender. Lastly, feminists make no secret of their desire to change the Bible by minimizing gender.

4. I believe we will have to agree to disagree about Dr. Patterson’s qualifications. I do not believe this means either one of us is not interested in “finding the truth”, nor do I believe it is wise for you to assume motives. Let’s leave the reading of the heart to the prophets. :-) In short, we do not have to disagree because one of us is morally flawed. . . we can disagree because we see things differently.

5. I still believe you are understanding gender-neutral translations incorrectly. Gender-neutrality is not about one or two verses and how we most accurately render them. Gender-neutrality is a philosophy that seeks to rectify sexism by minimizing gender in texts. Roughly half of the NIV translation team were egalitarians. These scholars are certainly of the belief that sexism has wrongly been a part of the Christian faith for too long. Also on this team were complementarians. Now some of the complementarians would agree with the egalitarians on certain verses because they believed the neutral translation was better. Now in a room full of all complementarians their views would have been in the minority, but since half the committee supports feminism translation philosophy the minority of conservatives had their way. Please understand that the egalitarians supported the gender-neutral reading of the text for philosophical as well as textual reasons. Unfortunately, conservatives gave their credibility to changes that were heavily influenced by an egalitarian agenda. This is how feminist translation philosophy made its way into the 2011 NIV.

Good translations of the Bible abhor philosophies that are foreign to the text itself. Gender-neutral feminist translation philosophy does enormous harm to the translation of God’s holy word. I hope this helps clarify things a bit.

Lastly, please note that no one believe a gender-neutral agenda was an influence on the ESV. Now there may be times where the NIV and ESV agree. This does not mean both are gender-neutral translations. The ESV may have reached its conclusion because of their belief that ____ is most accurate. The NIV may have reached that conclusion because ___ fulfills its gender-neutral, sexist rectifying philosophy. While the ESV and NIV might occasionally agree, their reason for arriving at their translations are vastly different. Which is why the ESV and NIV have many significant differences. Presuppositions and philosophical outlook matter much in translation.

6. I think you may be missing the context of the debate. Darren started off by saying what he did not hear from the committee: an affirmation of the translation. The argument from the committee was not about the accuracy of the translation, on this they conceded the point. The rejection of my resolution was on the grounds that the issue did not rise to the level of urgency needing such a statement. Darren, and he affirmed my thoughts here, was saying that Southern Baptists have long spoken to gender issues; because of this we need to address the gender-neutral 2011 NIV. Again, you seem to believe that the debate on the floor was about if the gender-neutral NIV was accurate or not. This was not the debate. The disagreement between me and the committee was about whether this issue rose to the level of needing a resolution. In this context Darren’s words must be read/heard. I stand by my outline above and encourage others to do as you did and see for themselves.

Southern Baptists have repeatedly said gender-neutral bibles are inaccurate. Those who disagree with this assertion will find themselves very much in the minority of SBC life.

To address your closing paragraph, I would simply say that there is no conspiracy. The egalitarians are very open about their agenda. I do realize that some on the blog have not studied this issue and that these ideas are very new. Yet just because some have not heard of this open agenda does not mean it is nonexistent. There is a bold feminist agenda that is gaining success in newer Bible translations. The agenda is open, published, and indisputable. If this is news to you or anyone else, I strongly encourage you to read more about the subject. The more someone reads the more confident I am of that person siding with my views. . . assuming they are a conservative to start with.

Blessings,
Tim Overton

68 Brent Hobbs June 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Tim, the problem with the whole line reasoning is that it misunderstands the purpose of a translation. If the common usage in the receptor language is toward gender-neutral pronoun usage (as modern English broadly is now), then it is actually more accurate to translate that way.

And you really ought to quit calling it a “gender-neutral Bible.” That’s inaccurate, dishonest, and pure emotional propaganda.

69 Tim Overton June 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Brent,

So good to hear from you! How are things in North Carolina? Your two boys look quite strong and healthy. I was down for the alumni academy with Dr. Mohler a few weeks ago. Wish you could have made it, the class was excellent! Were you at the convention in NO?

I see your point that translations must reflect the “receptor” language. That said, the translation must also be accurate. My belief would be that you are missing the feminist translation philosophy found in the NIV. Everyone agreed that the TNIV was gender-neutral and flawed. If 75% of the TNIV is in the NIV as CBMW claims, then how could the NIV not be gender-neutral?

Hope all is well Brent. Its been a long time since we both lived in Whitsett.

Blessings,
Tim

70 Elizabeth June 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Tim,
In all you’ve written here the thing that bothers me the most is how you have enlisted the president of one Southern Baptist organization (Patterson) to publicly critique the actions of another SBC organization (Lifeway). There has long been a “gentlemen’s agreement” between these leaders not to criticize, critique or question other organization leaders. One can only hope this is to encourage unity in the SBC.

At your behest, Dr. Patterson has taken the low road of agreeing in advance to investigate another entity. Forgetting whether or not he is qualified, it is not his role. In fact, to me it is a serious breach of ethics. If another president (Akin, for example) agreed with a messenger to investigate some hypothetical concern at Guidestone, it would be widely seen as improper. Patterson’s agreement with you is no less a problem.

71 Tim Overton June 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Elizabeth,

I would respectfully disagree, but I do admire your desire for unity. Becoming an entity head does not mean one lays principled disagree aside. In fact, one could argue that the more prestige one has the more a person has a responsibility to make a stand on important matters. Open, respectful disagreement will make the Southern Baptist Convention stronger. Just as iron sharpens iron so do we sharpen one another. Unity cannot come at the expense of sharpening. If the above proves nothing else, it show there is legitimate disagreement. Thus far all disagreement has been discussed in a healthy way. I see no reason why this will not continue. As much as I can, I hope to ensure the conversation is conducted in a gentlemanly fashion.

I would also add my motion does not call for an investigation, but a presentation by those who agree with the vote on the floor in favor of a resolution condemning the 2011 NIV. I do not believe it is healthy for Lifeway to avoid important discussions by appealing to unity. Disagreements such as this will happen from time to time. Let us not condemn the conversation, but rather seek the Lord together.

Blessings,
Tim

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: