The New International Version of the bible is pretty much the standard translation used by more Christians than any other, although probably still less than 50%. The standing of the translation was badly damaged by an attempt to produce a version revised in accordance with political correctness. Known as the TNIV, this version caused immense offence.
I learn today that the copyright owners intend to produce a new revision of the NIV itself, in 2011. Suggestions for the new version can be sent to nivbible2011.com, apparently. The press release is here. It makes no reference to the TNIV debacle.
“Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community,” Moe Girkins, Zondervan’s president, said. “As we launch this new NIV in 2011, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV.”
The silence in the press release, and in the speeches given, this all suggests to me that the TNIV is being abandoned because it failed, not because the owners think they did wrong. This means, of course, that they may try again. I doubt the NIV will survive further attempts to corrupt it.
When I think about the NIV, and the idea of revising it, I frankly feel nervous. I find that emotionally I don’t trust the revisers not to try to sneak an extra-biblical ideology into the text. I suspect a lot of people feel the same.
So what is to be done? If the owners of the text are serious about abandoning this enterprise, they need to take some serious steps. First they need to acknowledge publicly that what was done was wrong; and I see no signs of this. Next they need to change the composition of the board that oversees what happens, because those who did wrong once (wittingly or otherwise) will do it again. Until we see change, how can we have confidence in the board? Thirdly, they might consider simply leaving the NIV alone. There is no pressing need to tinker, tinker, tinker. In fact such tinkering damages the translation. It would be better – far better – to leave the translation alone for 15 or 20 years, and get the text established.
The whole business is very, very sad. I grieve for what has happened, for how it has allowed the unbelievers to triumph over Zion.
To me, the whole business and the way it has worked out smells strongly of the Pit. Who benefits from destroying the credibility of what was fast becoming the standard English translation? The Body of Christ does not benefit. No man seeking salvation benefits. But perhaps Hell does. Those who seek the ruin of us all do seem to benefit. Their cause is advanced. The dissention among previously close friends, the creation of mistrust and anger, the perception that the gospel is whatever people say it is… surely these are things that must be dear to the heart of the Enemy of us all?
It is easy to write as if those who chose to do this evil thing did so intentionally and open-eyed. But I see no signs of this. I think that it is most unlikely that they had any such intention, or intended to produce a “politically correct” bible at all! On the contrary, I suspect they were led, step by step, believing that they were really doing the right thing, that God would be pleased and the gospel served, as if by an angel of light. They probably never realised that a line had been crossed. They probably never intentionally crossed it, but were led on from one thing to another, softly, gently, without ill-will.
Satan loves to do this to us. He loves to draw us on, to seduce us, without allowing us to ever quite realise that all these harmless little steps really amount to a massive change of direction which takes us out of our accustomed orbit around the Son and into the darkness. Those approaching a cliff may do so by sleepy little steps. But one of those harmless little steps will not be so harmless. Suddenly the cliff-edge gives way. Waking, we find, to our horror, that we are falling, falling towards the rocks, into sin and death. Above us, as we fall in fear and misery, with certainty of pain ahead, there is demonic laughter at us.
This, I think, is what may have happened to the NIV team. If so they weren’t the first, and won’t be the last. But the first need is to recognise that they have been led into a serious sin, to repent, and take measures to deal with it. Just going on, as if nothing had happened, will not serve, and will make things worse.