Monday, June 20, 2011

Southern Baptists reject NIV Bible because "words matter" and if God had meant brother or sister he'd have said so

Seriously. You can't make this up. And sadly you don't have to.

At its recent convention in Phoenix, the largest evangelical denomination in the nation voted not to commend the 2011 New International Version (NIV) Bible because of its usage of gender-neutral language.

In the old translation of the world's most popular Bible, John the Evangelist proclaims: "If anyone says, 'I love God' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." Make that "brother or sister" in the new translation, which includes more gender-neutral language.

At its annual gathering last week, members of the Southern Baptist Convention argued that changes in the new NIV Bible alter the intended theological message. Dr. Randy Stinson, dean of the School of Church Ministries at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, says evangelical Christians care deeply about every word in scripture.

"Southern Baptists, along with other evangelicals, affirm what we call the 'verbal, plenary inspiration' of scripture," he explains, "which means that we believe not just the broad thoughts of scripture are inspired by God, but every word. And so every word, when it is translated from Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, matters."
Read the rest here ... if you're so inclined. As for me, I'll be over in the chapel at the Noon Eucharist giving thanks that I belong to a tradition that takes the Bible too seriously to take it literally ... and that I claim a faith rooted in the Living Word rather than the Literal Words of God ... the Father and Mother of us all.


Mary O'Shaughnessy said...

And how many semesters of Greek did they get in seminary?


Br. Pasqual said...

@Mary: Or Hebrew, for that matter.

Kay & Sarah said...

I was reared as a Southern Baptist. I left long ago and later found the Episcopal church. I will never understand how so many people who can accept the teachings of the Southern Baptist church without questioning.

LGMarshall said...

from ....'One or Two- Seeing a World of Difference'. by Peter Jones. Main Entry Editions, Escondido, CA. pp.190

"In Scripture, God gives us clear parameters for human self-understanding and behavior. God is the Creator, and every thing else is creation, His eternal power and divine nature are seen by what he created [rom.1.19] , God is 'other', he is different than us, and from anything else -- the Creator/creature distinction.

God is Holy, morally pure, set apart from his creation, he has a special place and function.

Therefore.... the unique God, from his special place, creates the world and gives US our own special place and role. God made us, Male & Female. Distinct and different.

The roles God give us are personal roles, because we are in a relationship with a personal God. Our deviation from that, which God created for us, is not a failure to meet some impersonal set of rules. It is a personal offense against our Creator, and incurs His righteous anger against our unholiness. [v.18.]


And your point would be???? That some people read the Bible literally????

Got that.

Loud and clear.

And we don't.

Is that loud and clear, too????

Great! Time to move on.

LGMarshall said...

To SR:...I must say, the hostility against Bible Scripture sure is thick at Inch at a Time. [When one brings it up, one is told to 'shut up.']

But I do have a Question for Susan...'If you start with the premise that the Scriptures do not say what they actually mean -- that there is some blurred allegorical meaning that must be teased out of them to get to the true meaning of them, then how can you be so sure in your position of Bible meaning? If the underlying meaning so much depends on the high IQ, or the collar, of the interpreter rather than on the evidence of archeology, history, biblical grammar, philology, comparative linguistics, the interpretation becomes very subjective and opaque.

Last question....if the Bible cannot be trusted regarding your [literal] origin, then how can you trust it regarding your destiny?

[I think you do care about your 'literal', destiny, don't you?]

uffda51 said...

I'm reminded of the lyric to the old country song, "How can I (we) miss you if you won't go away?"


LG ... isn't world enough and time to go through all this again, but here's the Clif Notes Version:

If there's "hostility" here it's about the Bible being used as a weapon of mass discrimination rather than a vehicle for spiritual liberation.

We're not a "sola scriptura" church ... never have been, please God never will be.

And continuing to be taunted into engaging in the same arguments over-and-over again is a road paved to nowhere helpful.

It's a little like the great Benjamin Franklin quote I see Elizabeth Kaeton is using this week as well: "There's no use trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoyes the pig."

Bottom line: For me ... for many of us "Christ is made our sure foundation" ... not "The Bible."

You want to base your life on the Bible as the literal words of God then party on. But don't be surprised when folks who disagree with you eventually get disagreeable when you insist you have sole possession of the Absolute Truth.

At the end of the day, methinks thou dost protest a little too much ... and perhaps some time with a spiritual director exploring the pull to continue to come back here and bludgeon folks with your Bible might be helpful.

dr.primrose said...

The issue, LG, is an issue of accurate translation, regardless of one's view of gender roles. I will defer to anyone with a better knowledge of koine Greek than mine but this is my understanding of the issue.

In koine Greek, unlike English, the word for brother and sister are the same word except one is declined as a masculine noun and the other as a feminine noun -- adelphos and adelphe, respectively. The plurals are adelphoi and adelphai, respectively.

It is my understanding that, unlike the Engish word "brothers," the plural word "adelphoi" could be used, not only to mean males but to cover both males and females collectively, similar to the English word "siblings."

There are places in the New Testament where the sexual-specific meaning is intended, for example, Mark 6:3, where the verse mentions both the brothers and the sisters of Jesus, or Mark 10:29, which includes a list of blood relatives.

There are other places that this meaning does not seem to be accurate. For example, in Romans, Paul makes a number of statements addressed to the "adelphoi." Whom is he talking to? Clearly, not his biological relatives. He's using the term metaphorically to mean members of the Roman church. Is he talking only to the male members of the Roman church? Almost certainly not -- he's using the word in a collective, non-gender-specific meaning.

So how does one most accurately translate the term when it's used like that? Brothers? Brethren? Brothers and sisters? Siblings? Believers? All of these are problematic because there's no term in English that is a direct equivalent translation. Probably "siblings" is the most literal translation but it doesn't work well in conveying the meaning that Paul was trying to get across and it's certainly not idiomatic. (It sounds a bit Star-Treky to my ears -- "Greeings, Siblings!") Because English does not have an idiomatic one-word equivalent translation, "brothers and sisters" is probably the closest meaning to what Paul had in mind even though, as a matter or rhetoric, it's a bit more clunky than the one word Paul used.

rick allen said...

"It is my understanding that, unlike the Engish word "brothers," the plural word "adelphoi" could be used, not only to mean males but to cover both males and females collectively, similar to the English word "siblings.""

Actually Greek pretty much parallels the way that English works for most people, i.e. a noun or pronoun, if it has a gender, takes the masculine form if it includes male and female.

The problem is that, for the last three decades or so, some have insisted that terms such as "men," "brothers," etc., must necessarily reference only males, and, for such such persons, those terms have literally changed their meaning.

Though it's of course dangerous to speculate, my guess is that the average Southern Baptist still adheres to the older sexually-inclusive meanings of terms such as "men and "brothers," and the average Episcopalian to the newer, more sex-specific meanings. So that, when a term like "adelphoi" is to be translated, one adhering the the older convention sees "brothers" as a perfect fit, and "brothers and sisters" as surplussage.

(I've often wondered whether German men are ever concerned that all their plurals are feminine.)

So I don't really think that this is about illiterate or sexist Baptists (despite how the protagonist characterized them in "A River Runs Through It.")

JCF said...

Why, rick, do you think that is? That, to say, "brothers and sisters", you would just write "brothers"? [Whether in Koine 1800 years ago, or KJV/NIV (unrevised) as favored by the SBC now?]

I think the SBC collectively, would say "God is Father/spoken of as He, Him and His. God created a man, first. Woman caused the Fall. Ergo, it is proper that humans, plural, is addressed as the 'first' sex: male. 'Brothers'"

Whereas for TEC (the Mainline, and secular humanity---w/ whom we're not ashamed to be associated) would observe: "Hmmm: Patriarchy and Sexism have been around a while, haven't they? Think that 'use the male "brothers"' thing might be a consequence?" is the way we approach it. And results in a translation that attempts to undo (if ever so slightly) that sexism, by explicitly writing "...and sisters" back into the equation.

[@LGM: when are you going to get it through your... highly-protective cranium that an "allegorical meaning" is how even individuals IN Scripture (see re JESUS!!!) treated Scripture? That this "say what they actually mean" hermeneutic (Literalism) is a NOVELTY of the Modern Age? Sheesh, go back to the Old Time Religion already!]

LGMarshall said...

SR preaches: 'Christ is made sure our foundation, NOT the Bible!"

No one in Christendom divorces Jesus from His Word... The Bible.

Afterall, Our precious LORD Jesus Christ is present in Genesis, all the way through to Revelation. [aka: 'The Bible'.]

.. In all your sermons, causes, and talks, you seem unwilling to throw out your Bible... which makes me think your foundation is The Bible afterall... So we are in agreement there.

rick allen said...

JCF, as I am not a Baptist, I hestitate to guess about their motives. And I was born in an area of the country where we used to say there were more Baptists than people.

My point was that ordinary English, for many of us, allows "brothers" to refer to all, and to uniformly relegate it to males essentially makes its past, inclusive use suddenly look strangely exclusionary.

In the past, for instance, a sentiment like Schiller's "All men shall be brothers" would once have been universally understood as referring to all. Now such a sentiment will be sneered at: Those boys are at it again.

It's funny that, in my own church, an epistle read in English will begin "Brothers and sisters....", whereas one read in Spanish will begin, "Hermanos...." Which, I wonder, is the better translation of "Adelphoi....."? I'm comfortable with both, but uncomfortable with assigning sinister motivations for either.

I should also add I think the Baptists are given a bum rap about Greek and Hebrew. Back in the late eighties I had two friends go to seminary as second careers. The one who went to an "old mainline" seminary could take Greek and Hebrew as electives; the one who went to the Baptist seminary was required to master both to graduate. It doesn't mean that they are right. But we should be careful not to project our own prejudices onto them.


LG ... Seriously?????


In the past, for instance, a sentiment like Schiller's "All men shall be brothers" would once have been universally understood as referring to all.

Until the feminists came along and brought up the part that male gendered language renders women invisible & powerless ... and 11 uppity women pushed the envelope in 1974 by saying "OK ... if 'men' is universally understood as referring to all then that must extend to the 'men' in the ordination canons" and got themselves ordained in Philadelphia.

On my favorite bumper-sticker list is this one: "I'll post-feminist in the post-patriarchy."

We're clearly not there yet.

MarkBrunson said...


I will keep asking: Why do you keep coming here?

I'm pretty sure I know, but I'm not sure you do.

Kay & Sarah said...

LG, probably until the light come on in that space above your shoulders.

Patricia Brush said...

Some years back, trying to use a teachable moment, I posted the text for a short "service" on a list-serve without mentioning the service's real intent. The service included only feminine references for God and for people. A man wrote back in terrible anger at having been completely excluded. I let him know that the service was not real, it was a teaching tool, and asked him how he thought 2,000 years of women have felt at being excluded from worship.

uffda51 said...

There is no hostility to Bible Scripture here. I would simply say that most people realize that when the Bible contradicts itself it cannot be considered inerrant. The Bible is the lens through which we see God. Some people think it’s important to worship the lens.

When a Christian church operates a soup kitchen, hungry people are fed by people following the example set by Jesus. The Bible, an inanimate object, cannot shop for food, prepare food or serve food.

LGMarshall said...

You guys should read Genesis... it has all the answers you are looking for.

God never told Eve not to eat 'fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden'...? God only told Adam. Surprised? [If I'm wrong, please show me where God says that. ]

In addition, God gave Adam that instruction, before Eve was ever created! [see Gen, 1,2,3]

[So I guess, logically, Adam bears the guilt.] But God held Eve accountable as well...

'God created Man in his own image, he made them Male & Female.' [Man' includes both genders-Genesis 1.27].

Brethren means all who belong to the Body of Christ. It doesn't mean males only. 'Bride' in Hebrew means "Completed, perfected'. It has no gender associated with it.

God said to Adam, Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it'... cursed is the ground because of you....[Ge3.17]

Why so much chaos & violence today?... it all began in The Garden--the Worldly entanglement of ... Man, Woman, Satan.

But Christ will return soon. And he will rectify all. He will come like a thief in the night, without warning. Are you ready?

LGMarshall said...

@uffda51-- what bible scripture contradicts what bible scripture?
... Just one example would be appreciated. thx.


#1 Genesis is a myth and
#2 I'm good, thanks.

MarkBrunson said...


Why are you here?

Perhaps you should spend less time with your Bible - or the bits and pieces that fit your agenda - and more time with yourself?

MarkBrunson said...

It's astounding how often we're drawn into this morass of biblical debate. It's compelling! We're still acting out the old pharisee/sadducee(sic) dichotomy - "Scripture says this!" "But, Scripture means this!" In thousands of years, still the argument goes on and will never end.

I'm tempted to wade in - bring up the two accounts of Creation that require a mental disconnect to overlook; to point out the connections to the older Sumerian creation myth.

It's pointless. We believe as we believe, LG believes as LG believes, and both have sound enough reasons to keep their beliefs unshaken.

The only important question in all of this is the reason for the debate itself:

LGMarshall, why do you keep coming here?

It's the one point, in all the minutiae of scholarship and dogged literalist belief that LGMarshall seems unwilling or afraid to engage in, and the one that could bring some conclusion to the debate.

uffda51 said...

LG, it’s OK to have a fifth-grade understanding of God –when you’re in the fifth grade. We’ve actually read Genesis but it isn’t apparent that you have since there are two contradictory creation acoounts in the first two chapters. A google search of “biblical contradictions” produces “about 2,090,000 results (0.16 seconds).” Contradictions in the Bible have been pointed out to you numerous times on this blog by numerous folks. Volumes have been written on this topic.

You don’t come here seeking knowledge. You come here as a troll to provoke and to mock. That might be amusing except that your literalistic and homophobic positions, shared by many local, state and federal elected officials, do real harm to real people.

As Susan pointed out, Genesis is a myth. It is poetry, not history. Every culture who ever lived on planet earth have had a creation myth. There was no Fall because we were not created in a state of perfection. DNA evidence proves this conclusively. Homo sapiens evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago and the first hominids appeared nearly two million years before that. Since I’ve had my mitochondrial DNA tested I know that I’m from halogroup U5, which like groups L,N & R, came out of East Africa. U5 diverged from the rest and headed to Scandinavia, and particularly Finland, around 50,000 years ago. We can forgive the writers of Genesis for not knowing about DNA but high school kids and younger know about it today.

None of the above, by the way, prevents Christians from following the example of Jesus or bringing the message of God’s love to the world, as revealed in the Bible.

Time to start you very own blog now, LG.

dr.primrose said...

LG, two commonly cited examples:

1. "Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears." (Joel 3:10) and "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." (Micah 4:3)

2. "Whoever is not with me is against me." (Matthew 12:30) and "Whoever is not against us is for us." (Mark 9:40) plus "Whoever is not against you is for you." (Luke 2:50).

Can someone try to explain the apparently contradictions away? Sure. But whether the explanations are convincing is a different issue.


LG ... I could start with the fact that the gospel writers can't even agree on who the 12 apostles were but I'm not in the mood to go there today.

Here's the deal: there's a distinct difference between dialogue between those who disagree about issues and agree to discuss those differences respectfully and those who are unwilling to see beyond their own entitlement to define "The Truth" as they see it as "The Truth" period.

Sarah Palin's efforts to rewrite Paul Revere's role in our nation's history comes to mind, but I digress.

As I noted earlier -- maybe on another thread -- don't be surprised when those you disagree with eventually get disagreeable when you insist you have sole possession of The Absolute Truth. Sadly that is a pattern I've experienced all too many times down through the years in the church ... when the house built on the shifting sands of literalism starts to crumble folks take refuges in a new house of cards labelled "victims of progressive oppression" and we become the bad guys because we refuse to continue to let the Bible be used as blunt instrument of bias and bigotry.

Pastorally, LG, I suspect there's something going on inside that is challenged by a Christianity that transcends the straight-jacket of narrow literalism but that would be something to explore with your spiritual director. Not work out on my blog.

PS -- nice job, uffda.

LGMarshall said...

I do read the articles here for knowledge. But, what's so bad about a teensy bit of Bible debate?
[afterall, 27 comments and counting...]

At Inch at a Time, typically there '0' Comments, or '1' Comment. [i.e.,'Amen.', 'Congrats.' , or 'sounds interesting.'] That's a lot of work for susan , for not much feedback! [brings to mind the Hollywood saying, even Bad publicity is good ...] `

Inch at a Time seems so threatened by Bible believers, it's an odd reaction from an institution [TEC] so sure of their position.

Seems contradictory that you don't tolerate people with Bible beliefs, yet you'll bend over backwards for someone in wicca, or Islam. Would you call either of them, 'the turd in the punch bowl'?

Dr. P.--thanks for the 2 examples of the bible contradicting itself, but re the metal used for plowshares & pruning hooks, it was not unusual for them to refashion the metal into swords & spears as needed, and then back again. There is no contradiction. [Joel,Micah].

It's like saying, 'Go up the hill, then down the hill.' and 'Go down the hill and up the hill.' Those aren't contradictory, because both happened.

re Matt, Mark, Luke passages, they all mean the exact same thing.... "If you are not for Jesus, you are against Him." Which is a Bible Truth, no contradiction there.


#1 -- What I'm over is not "people with Bible beliefs" but people who believe theirs is the only way to read the Bible. And convinced that making an idol is an idol is an idol ... whether it's a golden calf or the Bible.

#2 -- We're going to call it 29 comments and done for this thread. I'm just not interested in hosting any more mean spirited baiting. Plenty of other blogs for that if that's what you're looking for.

We're done here.

Kay & Sarah said...

LG there is a difference with the 'Bible thumpers' and biblical living with the truth.

Suggest you have a concerned discussion is a Jewish Scholar about how they view the stories of the old testament, he might suggest that some of the stories are just stories written for 'man' to think about and morals to follow. He might tell you that they believe some of the stories of the Old Testament are not actually true but there is truth in the stories.

IT said...

HEre's how the threads go with LGM.

Susan posts something affirming and hopeful to the LGBT Christian (particularly Episcopalian) community.

Several people drop by to say they are heartened, what good news. Then LGM drops in.

LGM: The Bible…. icky sex…. Genesis…. genitals.

A reasoned response explaining that gays are not defined by genitals. Maybe some science.

Another reasoned response showing that the Bible is full of contradictions and allegories, written for different people in a different time.

An additional response from someone on a personal level.

LGM: You are all heretics, because the Bible says…. more prooftexting. more about genitals.

Repeat n times.

LGM succeeds in highjacking the thread, into the same thing every time. "The Bible says it" "you are going against God" and always some disrespectful comment about genitals.

This is a troll, plain and simple. There is no dialogue. There is no respect for those of us who are gay. There is only bashing us with The Book. LGM does this only to annoy. LGM is not interested in changing any opinions, just hitting out.

I think LGM needs some therapy to figure out why she is so obsessed with gay people, and I think we need to break this cycle by not playing with LGM.

MarkBrunson said...

Absolutely, IT.

That's why I kept asking the still unanswered question, "Why are you here?" A simple question. Inoffensive and reasonable if the one asked is not simply troublemaking.