The Sword of The Lord on The 2011 NIV Update
The October 2, 2009 edition of The Sword of The Lord has an article entitled “NIV Revision Coming in 2011”. In this article written by the editor (Dr. Shelton Smith) one finds the typical resistance to any English translation of the Bible other than the King James Version. A few things in particular bothered me about the article, and they are as follows:
“…it is a bad ‘Bible’. Perhaps it would be more precise to say that it is a bad version. I honestly hate to use the word Bible in connection with a product that does not deserve the title.”
What can one say about such a statement? It is so obviously incorrect that it is shameful. One would think that the NIV had changed the text of God’s Word to such an extent that there would be nothing holy found in it. After all, so long as it is God’s Word, it is God’s Word; is it not? For it to not be classified “Bible” it would have to have been so changed as to no longer contain the truth concerning God, salvation, and holiness. While many of us may prefer to use a translation other than the NIV, we cannot find support for such a baseless charge as the Bible no longer being classified as the Bible.
“Am I so naive as to assume all the updates will be language? Look at their track record!”
What is the track record of the NIV translators? Smith does not say. My experience leads me to believe that this is an argument that goes back to those handy-dandy little Bible comparison charts. Said argument is fundamentally flawed.
“Keith Danby said, ‘And we’ll make sure we get it right this time.’ Is that an admission that the thirty-one-year-old NIV has been right any of the time that they’ve hawked it and sold it like hotcakes?”
Honestly, I have not seen such a quote from Danby and Dr. Smith does not cite his reference. At the same time, it is indeed possible that he made that statement. If he did, allow me to give an imaginative context. Danby was involved in the TNIV. That was a flop. It was divisive and seemed to do little good for most evangelicals. In my imagination I see Danby making such a statement regarding the TNIV. Why? Because of the following:
“’In 1997, IBS announced that it was forgoing all plans to publish an updated NIV following criticism of the NIV inclusive language edition (NIVi) published in the United Kingdom. Quite frankly, some of the criticism was justified and we need to be brutally honest about the mistakes that were made,’ Danby said. ‘We fell short of the trust that was placed in us. We failed to make the case for revisions and we made some important errors in the way we brought the translation to publication. We also underestimated the scale of the public affection for the NIV and failed to communicate the rationale for change in a manner that reflected that affection.’
Danby said it was also a mistake to stop revisions on the NIV. ‘We shackled the NIV to the language and scholarship of a quarter century ago, thus limiting its value as a tool for ongoing outreach throughout the world,’ he said.
‘Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community,” said Zondervan president Moe Girkins. “So as we launch this new NIV, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV.’
Girkins expects the TNIV and the existing edition of the NIV to phase out over two years or so as products are replaced. ‘It will be several years before you won’t be able to buy the TNIV off a bookshelf,’ she said.
‘We are correcting the mistakes in the past,’ Girkins said. ‘Being as transparent as possible is part of that. This decision was made by the board in the last 10 days.’ She said the transparency is part of an effort to overhaul the NIV ‘in a way that unifies Christian evangelicalism.’
‘The first mistake was the NIVi,’ Danby said. ‘The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV.’” (Christianity Today)
Let us not forget that the NIV of 1978 is different from the NIVi and TNIV. If we do not recall the difference we may find ourselves making a mistake similar to that of Dr. Smith’s and lose credibility in so doing.
It is sad that we have to contend with Christian brothers over an issue such as this. Though I honestly have found nothing that endears the NIV to me above other modern translations, I cannot deny its being God’s Word, the Bible. It is truly a lack of careful thinking that leads one to so lightly dismiss God’s Word when the KJV translators stated, “we answer, that we do not deny, nay, we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the Word of God, nay, is the Word of God. ” (See Jesus Is Lord) (See also PastoralMusings’ “The KJVO Translators’ Preface to The Reader”) The worst translation, the KJVO translators declared, still contains and is the Word of God. We must not forget that truth.
It is also sad that one who is a Christian newspaper editor would seemingly take a quote of context and apply it to something other than that of which the person quoted was speaking. Even if it were an honest mistake, we would expect Dr. Smith to have done better than he did.
While I am not KJVO, I am KJV preferred. I use it exclusively in preaching and primarily in studying. I cannot, however, sit idly by when others abuse and twist the truth. If one wishes to be KJVO, in charity we allow them that privilege. We shall not seek to impose our views upon their consciences, but shall only present the truth concerning the issue. We expect the same honest discourse from them. Denying the presence of the Word of God in the NIV and quoting someone out of context will do nothing to further the cause of Christ.
While the Scriptures do not demand our using a certain English translation, they do demand that we be honest and charitable. Let us seek to do so, especially since we have a common enemy: sin. God is glorified when we disagree amiably. May the glory of God be our goal.
First posted on Fundamentally Changed.