Southern Baptists recently announced their rejection of the new NIV Bible at their annual convention in Phoenix, Ariz., saying they could not commend the translation and its use of gender-neutral language.
The resolution introduced by author Tim Overton of Muncie, Ind., passed by at least a 2-to-1 margin, and only received a handful of opposing votes, Baptist Press reported.
“Southern Baptists repeatedly have affirmed our commitment to the full inspiration and authority of Scripture,” the resolution states. “This translation alters the meaning of hundreds of verses, most significantly by erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language.”
Expressing “profound disappointment” with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House, who printed 1.9 million copies of the updated Bible in the first run, the SBC “respectfully [requested]” that Lifeway Bookstores not sell the new version in their stores and encouraged pastors to let their congregations know of the translation errors.
“We cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or to the larger Christian community,” the resolution concluded.
Criticism over the update has been high ever since its inception, with opponents like the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – which support a complementarian view of manhood and womanhood – finding over 3,600 gender-related problems in the new version.
Although the CBMW did find some significant improvements in the update and praised the openness and transparency of the translation process, major errors were still evident and it could not commend the 2011 NIV as a sufficiently reliable English translation.
Problems also arose because the updated NIV Bible would completely replace the current NIV translation, without offering the 1984 edition alongside it.
“This is as big as it gets,” said Overton, according to the Associated Baptist Press. “This is the word of God. The best-selling Bible translation in the United States is now gender neutral.”
“As Southern Baptists, I don’t think we have the luxury of not speaking to this important issue. People are buying this translation unaware of what’s happening. We are the anchor of the evangelical world.”
The 2011 revision is the first change to take place in 25 years, having previously failed to update the translation in 1997 because of the use of gender-neutral language.
An updated English translation called Today’s New International Version (TNIV) was released in full in 2005 and later discontinued by Zondervan for gender inclusivism, culling controversy and harsh criticism from the CBMW and conservatives alike.
The SBC penned that 75 percent of the inaccurate gender language found in the TNIV was retained in the 2011 NIV as well.
“Our gender decisions were made on the basis of very careful and significant research,” Douglas Moo, chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, which translated the 2011 NIV, told the Baptist Press.
The committee meets yearly to consider changes in the NIV Bible and was approached in 2009 by Zondervan and Biblica about a new translation.
“The decisions we’ve made about gender have no motivation of not offending people. The motivation, rather, is to communicate clearly to people what we think arguably is contemporary English.”
Mlive also reported Moo saying, “About 95 percent of the words are the same. On the one hand, we tried to keep the continuity because the translation was so good the first time. But there were a lot of changes in the English language that needed to be reflected as well.”
Randy Stinson, CBMW president, noted to BP, “Our main concern is that in hundreds of places, meaning in the Bible is eroded because of the translators’ decisions to remove words like he, him, his, father, brother, son, and man. God’s Word is the product of his infinite wisdom and all the details of meaning are there for a purpose.”
“Our ultimate concern is about the authority of Scripture and not some specific way we think everything ought to be translated.”
Moo encouraged Christians to take a look for themselves at the new text instead of solely relying on a review or criticism.
“Whatever decisions we make, some evangelical Christians will be unhappy,” Moo expressed to Dash House. “What we hope is that, even if people disagree with the decisions we make, they would recognize that we have made these decisions with integrity, trying our best to put God’s unchanging Word into the language that people are speaking today.”