Great Stuff Found on the Web — Cyberbrethren on “Why the New NIV is Bad News for Lutherans”

Thanks to Paul McCain over on Cyberbrethren for this informative post about the new NIV:


You may have heard, or if you haven’t heard, you should know, that Zondervan has released a new version of the New International Version. For lack of any other name, it is referred to in most circles as NIV 2011. Simply put, this translation is not appropriate for use by confessional Lutherans because it imposes a theological and cultural agenda that is alien to that of God’s Word. It does so through the use of “gender neutrality” in how it translates God’s Word. I frankly am glad that this new translation affords us the chance to move away from a translation that has been insufficient since it was first released, and now, in light of the fact that Zondervan corporation, the publisher of the NIV, is owned by Ruppert Murdoch’s media empire, the sooner we can stop putting money into one of the world’s largest purveyors of pornography, the better. I’m surprised some conf

We here at CPH reviewed carefully the text of the NIV 2011 and are particularly disturbed by the subtle, but highly significant, ways it changes the wording of key texts referring to men and women and their proper relationship and roles in the Church. These changes open wide the door that laypeople will be misled into thinking that women clergy are appropriate.

In the past couple years, I’ve published a number of blog articles on this issue, and I thought it time to bring them back and gather them in one place to make it more convenient for you to read them. Here they are, you can either link to them, or you can read the full article in this blog post by following the “read more” button:

Major Evangelical Organization Says It Can Not Endorse NIV 2011

NIV 2011: Proceed With Caution

Updating the New International Version: Translator’s Notes [revealing the agenda driving this translation]

Why We Must Avoid Gender Neutrality Like the Plague

God Inspired Metaphors: Another Key Problem with NIV 2011


Is the NIV Really Easier to Understand than the ESV?

Why Has The LCMS Adopted the ESV as Its Translation of Choice?

I’ve posted the articles mentioned above, in the extended entry of this post. Click read more to…read more!

Major Evangelical Organization Says It Can Not Endorse NIV 2011

More bad news for the 2011 NIV…and more reason for those using the NIV to move away from it. My recommendation remains that the English Standard Version be the translation of choice for Lutherans. After extensive research and study by the top Biblical scholars, seminary professors, and members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Commission on Worship, a number of years ago, the ESV was recommended for us in all Missouri Synod worship materials and the recommendation was overwhelmingly adopted by the Missouri Synod several conventions ago. Here’s the news story, from Baptist Press:

Major group says it cannot endorse NIV 2011 Bible

Posted on Nov 22, 2010 | by Michael Foust

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A major evangelical organization which supports a complementarian position on manhood and womanhood says the newest translation of the NIV Bible is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the TNIV, although the group says it still cannot endorse it because it contains many of the same problems.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) released a statement Nov. 19 stating that the NIV 2011 has many of the same flaws that prevented the TNIV from gaining in popularity among the evangelical community. CBMW, though, did applaud the translators for the “openness and honesty” of the translation process.

The older translation of the NIV — now called the NIV 1984 version — is being phased out and eventually won’t be published, its publisher, Zondervan, has said. The NIV 2011 will be in print next year and currently is available only online. ( hosts it and many other translations.)

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is an organization that believes men and women are equal but have different and complementary roles in the home and in the church. The CBMW withheld an endorsement of the TNIV in 2002 due to gender-neutral language, some of which the group said changed the theological direction and meaning of the text. The NIV 2011, as it is being called, maintains some of the TNIV language and some of the NIV 1984 language, and in some passages splits the difference.

“[T]hough we are genuinely thankful for the many positive changes in the new NIV (2011), and though we are deeply appreciative of the very different process by which our friends at the CBT [Committee on Bible Translation] and Zondervan pursued and unveiled this new version, we still cannot commend the new NIV (2011) for most of the same reasons we could not commend the TNIV,” the statement read. “Our initial analysis shows that the new NIV (2011) retains many of the problems that were present in the TNIV, on which it is based, especially with regard to the over 3,600 gender-related problems we previously identified. In spite of the many good changes made, our initial analysis reveals that a large percentage of our initial concerns still remain.”

CBMW began its statement by saying the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) — which translated the NIV 2011 — “made some significant improvements in various areas” over the TNIV.

“For instance, in many passages ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ replace a gender-neutral equivalent, resulting in greater accuracy in translating the Hebrew or Greek text,” the CBMW statement read. “This is also true in many cases for the words, ‘he,’ ‘him,’ ‘his,’ ‘brother,’ ‘father,’ and ‘son.’ In numerous passages that now contain these words, the CBT revised many of the most egregious passages that concerned us previously.”

In some passages, the NIV 2011 uses the phrase “that person” instead of a specific pronoun. CBMW said such a rendering can make for an awkward sentence, such as in Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” The “they” in the passage actually is a “singular they.” The NIV 1984 read: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” The TNIV translated the latter part of the passage as “I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.”

In a statement, the Committee on Bible Translation said a “singular they” rendering is the “most common way that English-language speakers and writers today refer back to singular antecedents.”

The CBMW said the translators’ “desire to avoid the use of a generic ‘him’ has led to the use of a more distant-sounding ‘that person.’” The rendering, the statement said, “has a very cold, impersonal feel” and will leave pastors and teachers “with the task of explaining the difference between a singular and plural ‘they.’”

But more significant problems remain, CBMW said. A significant portion of the group’s statement focused on the NIV 2011’s translation of 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” It is identical to the TNIV translation. The NIV 1984 translated it as “have authority.”

The question is whether “assume authority” has a different meaning than “have authority.”

It is one of the most-debated passages between those in the complementarian camp and those who hold to an egalitarian position (which asserts that male and female roles in the home and church are interchangeable). Christians for Biblical Equality, an egalitarian group, has articles on its website arguing the NIV 1984’s “have authority” rendering is not the best translation.

CBMW said the NIV 2011 is “out on a limb” against other major translations, including the often-criticized NRSV, which also uses “have authority.”

“The new NIV (2011)’s translation … designedly lends itself to a common current egalitarian misinterpretation of this passage (i.e., that Paul is only addressing the case of women illegitimately ‘assuming’ authority, rather than prohibiting women from having/exercising authority as teacher/shepherds of the church),” the CBMW statement read.

The NIV 2011’s translation of 1 Timothy 2:12 has been a major source of scholarly debate at, which is hosting a “Perspectives in Translation” forum regarding the new NIV. Denny Burk, dean of Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., has written articles criticizing the verse’s translation, while Douglas Moo, chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, and Craig Blomberg, a committee member, have defended it.

“I can tell you authoritatively that we did NOT choose this rendering to tip the scales one way or the other,” Blomberg wrote. “Whether you are a complementarian or an egalitarian, you have some view of what Paul thinks women should not do here, in terms of exercising authority. When they violate that, whatever it is, they inappropriately assume authority. That’s all we were saying.”

Moo wrote, “[T]he translators believed that ‘assume authority’ could be taken in either direction. We often use this phrase in a neutral way (e.g., ‘When will the new President assume authority’?). … [I]t is our intent to provide a translation that is faithful to the text, bowing to no particular theological agenda.”

Burk said “one cannot underestimate” the importance of 1 Timothy 2:12 “in the intra-evangelical debate over gender roles and women in ministry.”

“Complementarians argue that Paul prohibits women from doing two things — teaching Christian doctrine to and exercising authority over the gathered church,” Burk wrote. “Egalitarians argue that Paul prohibits women from doing one thing — a certain kind of teaching. They argue that there is no gender-based authority structure indicated in this text but that Paul means to prohibit women from ‘teaching with authority,’ from ‘teaching in a domineering way’ or from ‘teaching false doctrine.’ In their view, Paul doesn’t prohibit all teaching by women over men, but only a certain kind of teaching.”

Even before the NIV 2011 was released, some egalitarians were arguing for a translation of “assume authority,” Burk said.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. Read the CBMW statement at Read the discussion on 1 Timothy 2:12 at Read the translators’ initial statement on the NIV 2011 at


About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff Found on the Web — Cyberbrethren on “Why the New NIV is Bad News for Lutherans” — 67 Comments

  1. In the ALC when I was growing up, the RSV was in vogue. During confirmation, however, I learned of some problems with it. So I got a KJV and compared the two off and on when questions arose. Today, I could do more or less the same thing on an updated basis if I had an ESV / NKJV parallel edition, the ESV having its roots in the RSV with a conservative Reformed top-spin applied. Not having that parallel edition, at study, I usually have two Bibles open, my trusty olde NKJV and an ESV. I try to read the ESV as the primary text, but I find myself looking at that NKJV a lot. Choosing one over the other for public and corporate use is not a simple assignment. I understand the reasons LCMS has for choosing ESV, and think those reasons are good enough that it is not worthy of balking at, particuarly if the balking would be in favor of any form of the NIV.

  2. @Dutch #35

    Hi Dutch. The synod can tell CPH what to do. So they told CPH to use ESV in publications. This was a great improvement from NIV, which I think was official before (not good!). The mandate about ESV in official materials is a good thing.

    NKJV is a wonderful translation (to my mind), but its use of the TR just won’t allow most of our pastors and scholars to consider it the best. This is an interesting topic in itself.

    Nobody, including the synod, can tell a pastor trained in the original languages that he has to use any particular translation. It is a doctrinal matter that the Scriptures are inspired and inerrant in their original languages.

    I wish our Lutheran parochial schools would adopt less of a worldly (and behind-the-times) education model and teach Greek and Hebrew, among other ‘classical’ studies. But that would be seen to cut into the $50,000 cars, swimming pools, multiple ski trips and cruises per year, much finery, and other things.

  3. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #46

    > It is so easy to keep up on things like this via the ‘net

    This is true, and it’s (obviously) something I do (too much).

    But think about the (partly legitimate!) criticism by some of our pastors of some Internet discussions. This site is not exempt from criticism, even from confessional pastors. To directly quote a mutual friend in an irritated moment: “that website needs to go away.”

    And whether the powers that be love JTS or any Internet forum, it’s really not the best possible way to do things – where a VERY few people have all the responsibility and information in a congregation, and everybody else gets their information from places like the Internet (or more realistically – for most of the congregants – not at all)!

    I miss the old voter assemblies where real topics were actually thrashed out (nearly with thrashings, eh?). Their loss is a terrible loss.

    That’s where serious stuff should be discussed (not just in the elders or the council) . The Internet is a very poor substitute, and, I would argue, is nearly as far from being a sufficient forum for serious discourse as it is for Word and Sacrament ministry and worship!

  4. Hey there M,
    Kudos, I totally agree w/all ya said.
    M, it’s no fluke my boys are going to LPS. All Freshman there start Latin, & then elect another language, “Classical Languages” is also an elective. Not easy to do for parents, but what opportunties those kids will have!!!!
    My boys have a jump start in Spanish & German. No, they are not being allowed to take the easy breezy road, would Dutch do that, I think not. lol

    I may never get the chance to be able to read fluent Latin, Greek, or Hebrew( Yiddish doesn’t count, I guess, lol) but I can read, w/great effort, in others.

    But the Original 3, I’ll never have enough time in this realm to learn, nor do I think I should have done…I know me, not a good thing for Dutch to learn…

    But M, my boys will, & then they can try to teach their Mum. Those boys have been taught the King’s English, so they can understand NKJV/KJV, that much little as it may be, that I could & did try. Thee, thou, thine, hat, hat, hast….vene, vini, vici…or something like that…

    KJV stood for 400 years, I think I’ll endevor to choose it, amongst the other 8 translations I can & do use & own.
    No, our day schools (WELS or LCMS) don’t, and it would be too tough for our Pastor’s to teach Greek or Hebrew to us sheep, once a week, or just on Sunday’s.
    Look what all they have to do for us all now?! But that never means nor should anyone endevor to blame sheep or wheat, we don’t sow or herd ourselves, do we. Paul laid out a nice & clean list of who qualifies, should you endevor to do so, what is expected from Above, and what your duties & job description are. I may not understand or agree, but it never was up to you & me to begin w/in this article or anything else. Sheep do tend to try to flock together, or some such….
    You rock M, as always.
    Blessings to you M,

  5. @Dutch #55

    Thank you Dutch. I do not deserve any compliments.

    KJV was such a huge blessing to the world, for so long — it is not possible to give it too much credit (well, it is, but that’s another problem).

    It has been very interesting to me to learn some details about the English reformers a few decades before KJV who were actually Lutherans (or nearly so)! And even when KJV got rolling, it wasn’t mostly new of course (see Tyndale — who went to Hamburg and possible Wittenberg, as others did). So KJV might be more Lutheran than we sometimes think! Maybe that’s one reason we like it.

    Table of Duties, all ’round. I would only say that once a debate gets going about who is responsible for a problem, we admit our own failure and just go back to that, as you suggest above. I can hardly imagine how pastors stand up under the burdens and responsibilities they bear. We sheep may have to stand up and take some fire sometimes, without pressing the pastors so much as giving them a little cover. Plenty of blame to go around! But we are about exhortation and encouragement more than blame! (and you show this all the time, here)

  6. M,
    You are such a dear friend & it means the world, what you are trying to say. I wish I was the person, you think or word me to be. I know me rather well, I should, I live w/me! lol

    I can’t do or say much, look at what I am by my own admission, but…M I do try. I’m not afraid to fail, I’m not afraid to make an attempt, but what I am afraid of, is remaining silent in the face of truth, or not doing or trying at all.

    Your a dear friend (wish I could really know ya), please don’t think you or should you feel as if you should defend me. It isn’t about me, we defend what is right, we defend only what is defendable.
    Sometimes, it’s harder than we believe.
    Thank you & I hope I can be what you think I already am,
    Blessings, Dutch

  7. @Timothy C. Schenks #42
    For many years our pastors were still carrying around the Hebrew OT, Greek NT and Hebrew/Greek-to-English dictionaries to prepare their sermons, not the King James Version.

    It is highly recommended that LCMS Pastors do their sermons from the original languages (and commentaries) to this day.

    But they also read English translations: NASB, KJV or NKJV and ESV have been recommended to me by “clerical” users.

  8. @Dutch #45
    I have a reply to your post, Dutch, but following Johannes’ advice, I am letting it season a bit before I post it. I’ll send you a FB message to get your opinion first!

  9. The King James Version is a good translation, but the language of the KJV is the language of 17th century England, not the 21st century. I know people cling to the KJV as to a security blanket because of the rich poetic nature of the language. There is an emotional attachment to it. I love parts of it myself.

    But, as a translation to serve the vast majority of people today, the KJV simply is not sufficient. We should not have to first teach people an antiquated form of the English language before they can use a translation of the Bible well.

    This is one reason why I prefer the ESV. In my opinion, it is planted firmly in the great tradition of the KJV but is not antiquated.

    I do not like the NKJV simply because I personally don’t like supporting the publishing company that publishes it: Thomas Nelson, a company that pumps out so much false and misleading doctrine every year.

  10. Mornin’ Janet,
    Absolutely please send it to me on FB! Janet, we’re sisters in Christ & also friends, ya can tell me anything & talk to me anytime 24/7. But if Johannes asked you to perculate, I would respect his judgement & do so. I respect that gentleman & his posts more than I can ever say!!!!

  11. We’ve gotten way off track here .. please get back to the original topic — the new NIV 2011 version.

    If your comment doesn’t have something to do with that, please don’t post it here.

  12. > “Complementarians argue that Paul prohibits women from doing two things — teaching Christian doctrine to and exercising authority over the gathered church,” Burk wrote. “Egalitarians argue that Paul prohibits women from doing one thing — a certain kind of teaching. They argue that there is no gender-based authority structure indicated in this text but that Paul means to prohibit women from ‘teaching with authority,’ from ‘teaching in a domineering way’ or from ‘teaching false doctrine.’ In their view, Paul doesn’t prohibit all teaching by women over men, but only a certain kind of teaching.”

    This is very interesting. Unisex MO (except for the pastorate!!!!!!!!!!) rejects the unisex translation. Male-voters WELS touts the unisex translation! The undercurrents are always flowing, aren’t they? and only come to surface later. Are there good omens here for MO?

  13. @mbw #63

    … which reminds me … how is it that one would teach God’s Word without exercising authority?

    How is that done?

    What would be the value of trying to do that?

    Why would one wish to deliver the Word … without any authority?

    How is it done? By eviscerating it? I don’t see any other way.

  14. Rev. Paul McCain wrote (#60)I do not like the NKJV simply because I personally don’t like supporting the publishing company that publishes it: Thomas Nelson, a company that pumps out so much false and misleading doctrine every year.

    Have you considered Crossway’s Statement of Faith? (

    There are two Christian ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism signifies that the believer is buried with Christ and is risen with him to walk in newness of life. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial celebration, instituted by the Lord himself exclusively for his own. In the observance of this supper, believers remember him, they show his death until he comes, and they function as worshiping priests before God. Although baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the church until the return of Christ, they are not to be regarded as means of salvation, which is by grace alone through faith.

    If I based my Bible purchasing decision on whether or not a particular translation’s publishing company teaches correct doctrine, then I could not endorse the ESV. Simply put the above portion of the statement of faith from Crossway is “false and misleading doctrine.” This company also publishes the book Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll.

    I realize that not everything Crossway says or publishes is bad, but your reasoning for not purchasing certain Bibles should be based on the accuracy of the translation, not the false teaching or seedy associations of the publisher. If the NIV just happened to be the best translation (a laughable concept, I realize) would you then prefer an inferior translation simply because Rupert Murdoch is a porn freak?

  15. A number of Bible versions have suffered from denominational agenda ‘adjustment’.
    The NIV, NRSV and others of their kind are NOT suitable for “Sola Scriptura” adherents for these Bible versions ‘doctor’ passages to suit their denominational agenda.
    Out of many, I leave you with the example of Acts 3:21; if Christ Jesus was to ‘remain’ in heaven, the Lutheran belief that we attend Gottesdienst and with and under the bread and wine we receive the body and blood of our resurrected Lord would be invalid.
    If we read ‘Christ must be ‘received’ in heaven, then Christ Jesus – as the second person of the Holy Trinity – can ~ and indeed does ~ come down to us during the Sacrament of the Altar.
    It is our Lutheran obligation to select the translation of God’s Word that reflects as close as possible the true translation of the source MSS.
    I have been fortunate enough to be in possession of Bible versions in English and in some other languages, and from my studies of same, I believe that the ‘version family, containing Tyndale, Douai/Reims, AV/KJV, NKJV and KJ21 are most complete and true to the Word of God. The Comparison of both versions of the Vulgate [Jerome and Clementine] is very helpful in this regard.

    In HIS love and service

    Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD.

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