The SBC Expresses “Disappointment” over the NIV 2011 Bible

Do you think the recent resolution from the SBC on the NIV 2011 translation has gone too far? I think it has. Let me know what you think.

Here’s the report from Baptist Press following the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, held June 14-15.

Resolutions: SBC tackles immigration, NIV

Posted on Jun 16, 2011 | by Tom Strode

In an unusual move, messengers called to the floor and passed a resolution on the “gender-neutral 2011 New International Version” (NIV) that was not reported to the convention by the Resolutions Committee….

The NIV resolution overwhelmingly approved by messengers “expressed profound disappointment” with publication of the new translation and “respectfully request[ed] that LifeWay” not sell the version in its stores.

The resolution came to the floor when Indiana pastor Tim Overton persuaded messengers to address the 2011 version of the popular translation that his resolution said had “gone beyond acceptable translation standards” regarding gender. His resolution said 75 percent of the flawed gender translation in the TNIV appears in the new NIV. Southern Baptist messengers expressed their disapproval of the TNIV in a 2002 resolution.

Overton, pastor of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., told messengers the Southern Baptist Convention needed to address the issue in its role as a leading voice in the evangelical Christian community.

Speaking for the committee regarding its decision not to present Overton’s measure, Russell Moore said the members did not believe the issue “rose to the level of needing to be addressed by this year’s convention.” Moore said the TNIV was “something of a stealth move,” which was not true in this case. He also said the NIV is not in the same position now as it was in the past, since such translations as the Holman Christian Standard Bible and English Standard Version are now available. He also said the NIV is “just one of many Bibles out there [with] similar language.”

The committee did not oppose passage of the resolution. At the news conference, Moore said, “The committee, of course, shares the concerns that were expressed in the resolution. The issue was not whether or not we would affirm the NIV and its changes but whether or not we thought the current changes were worthy of being addressed” at this year’s meeting.

Moore is dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as teaching pastor for Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.


The New NIV… It’s Here!

For years, the NIV has been the most loved, and most hated of the modern Bible versions produced in the 20th Century. Many of us who used to be KJV-only advocates used to reserve our sharpest criticisms for the NIV. Perhaps that background is one of the reasons many of us still are hesitant to use it. We just prefer a more literal approach to Bible translation for various reasons.

With the advent of Today’s New International Version, there was an outcry about gender neutral language run too far. Partly as a result of this controversy, the English Standard Version was produced. The ESV is a conservative remake of the somewhat liberal Revised Standard Version. And the ESV took the Bible market by storm, as many Reformed pastors and teachers have made it their Bible of choice. It is making inroads into non-Reformed segments of Christianity as well.

Along the way, people like Leland Ryken, John Piper and Wayne Grudem have had some not so flattering things to say about the NIV, and especially the TNIV. And many other conservative scholars have concurred. At issue are the many places where the NIV smooths over the text to make nice sounding English, but in the process obscures the presence of important connector words like “for” and other features of the text which influence its interpretation. Many feel the NIV makes too many interpretive choices for its readers. Of course the gender neutrality of the TNIV is not a problem in the NIV, but the direction the TNIV took seems to be far afield of where conservative scholarship thinks we should go with respect to Scriptural integrity.

In light of this reaction, I was initially hopeful that the announcement of a new NIV update might promise a turn toward a better direction for the NIV. After reading the translators’ notes about the new update, I am inclined to think it actually is the positive change I was hoping for. In several cases they move toward a greater transparency to the original text. They restore many of the missing “for”s, and the gender neutral language concerns seem for the most part to be satisfactorily addressed. The tack they take is not much different than the ESV which also uses some gender neutral language in an attempt to employ contemporary English.

In this whole process I was also pleased to learn that the publishing house has little control, if any, over the actual text of the Bible translation. The translation aspects of the NIV are kept separate from the publishing and marketing arm of spreading the finished product abroad.

I encourage you to read the translator’s notes on this important update for yourself. You can also see a video introduction of the text by Douglas Moo, the chair of the translation committee. Furthermore, there are several comparison tools available for comparing the 1984 NIV text, and the TNIV and now the new 2011 NIV Update edition. BibleGateway can do that. And a couple other sites have comparison tools for comparing the various manifestations of the NIV: This site has a drop down menu to pull up the text a chapter at a time. This one offers several different comparison points between the editions.

I think this whole update was handled transparently and honestly. I believe it is a good sign that evangelicalism as a whole has a careful concern for the text of Scripture and aren’t just ready to adopt any translation that can be made. The respect and care with which the translators of the NIV handle their work has been apparent through the whole process. I think the end result will prove to be a blessing to the wider church, even with the presence of other useful, conservatively produced translations. May this lead to a greater unity and a lessening of the “Bible wars” which have been transpiring in the last decade or so. I for one, am eager to get a copy of this new NIV, to see how it compares with my ESV.

One last word: check out Rick Mansfield’s review of the updated NIV. I’m sure more reviews will be forthcoming, in the next few weeks.


Check out my post explaining Zondervan’s announcement that they are discontinuing the TNIV and will be revising the NIV in 2011.  This is good news in that every gender neutral translation choice will be reviewed again, and Zondervan / Biblica (formerly The International Bible Society) are admitting mistakes in the production and release of the TNIV.

We here at King James Only? don’t glibly accept just any Bible translation.  I, for one, am happy that the TNIV is being re-evaluated, so that its translational choices will (hopefully) reflect the true text of Scripture more faithfully than it did before.