A surprising thing happened at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention last week. The messengers approved a resolution opposing the 2011 edition of the NIV. This kind of move is not unprecedented for an annual SBC meeting. Messengers approved similar resolutions in 1997 and in 2002, both of which were in response to gender-inclusive revisions of the NIV.
But there was something different about the resolution that came out this year. This resolution came not from the resolutions committee, but from a single messenger who was concerned about the issue and who wanted the convention to speak to it. In the course of the discussion, a spokesman for the committee explained why they had declined to present this particular resolution to the convention. Nevertheless, 4,800 messengers voted overwhelmingly to consider the resolution. There was a brief time set aside for debate, but not a single dissenting voice came forward. Not even one! Reports indicate that the subsequent vote was over 90% in favor of the resolution. If ever there were a grass-roots effort to move a resolution, this was it.
If you are interested in hearing the debate on the NIV resolution at the SBC, you can watch it below. The discussion starts at 24:00, and the entire thing only lasts about 12 minutes.
The full text of the resolution is printed below, and readers might recognize that the factual basis of the resolution comes from the two reviews that I posted here a couple of weeks ago. Here they are again if you missed them before.
WHEREAS, Many Southern Baptist pastors and laypeople have trusted and used the 1984 New International Version (NIV) translation to the great benefit of the Kingdom; and
WHEREAS, Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House are publishing an updated version of the New International Version (NIV) which incorporates gender neutral methods of translation; and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists repeatedly have affirmed our commitment to the full inspiration and authority of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-16) and, in 1997, urged every Bible publisher and translation group to resist “gender-neutral” translation of Scripture; and
WHEREAS, This translation alters the meaning of hundreds of verses, most significantly by erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language; and
WHEREAS, Although it is possible for Bible scholars to disagree about translation methods or which English words best translate the original languages, the 2011 NIV has gone beyond acceptable translation standards; and
WHEREAS, Seventy-five percent of the inaccurate gender language found in the TNIV is retained in the 2011 NIV; and
WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention has passed a similar resolution concerning the TNIV in 2002; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 14-15, 2011 express profound disappointment with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House for this inaccurate translation of God’s inspired Scripture; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors to make their congregations aware of the translation errors found in the 2011 NIV; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we respectfully request that LifeWay not make this inaccurate translation available for sale in their bookstores; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or the larger Christian community.
Video of the Floor Discussion (starts at about 24:00)