Question and Answer

Gender changes in the NIV

Question:

I read that the producers of the New International Version Bible are working on a revised NIV to modernize the gender representations in Scripture; for example, to state the "sons and daughters of God" in places where the older text states the "sons of God." Of course, the Colorado company working on these changes spins the facts and states that the revised version will have input from various evangelical pastors and is not designed to be "politically correct." I have a problem with these revisions of holy writ. For me personally, even though the OPC endorses the NIV as a denomination, I have never departed from the (old) King James version, which is unchanged and in my view more faithful to Scripture than the NIV. Has the denomination's leadership looked into these proposed changes? This should be a wake-up call, as these politically correct changes are post-modernist in purpose and are designed to alter the meaning of Scripture to conform to prevailing language and interpretations. I believe the OPC should make a stand here. It is no time for being indifferent or neutral. The word of God is under attack in the name of political correctness. I would like to see an article in the OPC publications warning the denominational pastors and communicant members of the new NIV changes being rewritten as we speak. I ask the question, "Does anyone in the OPC care about this?"

Answer:

Thank you for writing and for expressing your concern about the latest attempt to "modernize" the New International Version to satisfy the feminist-driven linguistic mores of our current age.

Your email in some ways addresses a non-issue for us. While our Confession of Faith (chapter 1, paragraph 8) recognizes that the Bible requires the Scriptures "to be translated into the vulgar [common] language of every nation unto which they come," the OPC has never adopted or even endorsed any particular translation.

On the other hand, you might be interested to note that several years ago, when our general assembly completed revision of the Scripture proof texts for the Westminster Confession and Catechisms (the text is available on this website and in print from our Committee on Christian Education), it determined to continue to use the Authorized Version (KJV), largely because echoes and traces of that translation appear throughout those doctrinal standards.

In the early 1980s certain of our denominational (or related) agencies chose to utilize the NIV in their publications, perhaps creating the appearance that we had endorsed that version. In 2003 they shifted to the newly published English Standard Version (ESV), which they now refer to as their "default translation," i.e., the one to be utilized by their publishing staffs unless a particular author has chosen a different translation.

This change was motivated by concerns about the accuracy of the translation (using a "dynamic equivalency" approach) and rumors that additional changes were in the planning stage.

Because it is an issue about which we are concerned, perhaps one of our publications will take up this matter now, or more likely, review any new version of the NIV that might be published down the road.


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