Thursday, July 28, 2011

The NNIV, the WELS Translation Evaluation Committee, and the Perspicuity of the Scriptures

On Tuesday night, I watched as five learned and respected men stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of hundreds of delegates to the WELS 2011 Synod Convention, and with straight faces defended their endorsement of the NIV 2011 on the basis that “there is no such thing as a reliable translation, they all have shortcomings due to the choice of the translator to render in the target language only some of what the source language actually communicates” (my paraphrase of several statements). What I found particularly galling was the fact that they all readily admitted that to illuminate the layman’s understanding of the Bible, it was fitting that copies of the NIV 2011 sold by NPH be accompanied by a booklet, prepared by experts, which identifies and remediates the errors it contains. Such a suggestion was made multiple times during Tuesday night’s Open Forum, and the men of the WELS Translation Evaluation Committee agreed each time the suggestion was raised.

Throughout this discussion it was made clear that these men reject the notion that the Scriptures can be presented to all Christians who are competent in their own languages, in a way that is clear and reliable, suggesting that they reject the Doctrine of the Perspicuity of the Scriptures in any but a purely theoretical sense.

Dr. Francis Pieper (LCMS), in his well-regarded three volume work, Christian Dogmatics, contains a very good section on the Perspicuity of the Holy Scriptures, a section which may be interesting for us to review in reference to this idea that the Bible cannot be sufficiently rendered in our, or any, language, that instead it requires further illumination in external documents written by men. It seems that in burying ourselves in the details of technical translation problems, we have forgotten how important it is for us to understand the Perspicuity of the Holy Scriptures and apply it in our attitude toward the Bible and its translations. Pieper begins:
    According to the Roman doctrine, Scripture becomes clear through the light emanating from the “Church,” that is, from the Pope. According to the doctrine of the “enthusiasts” of all ages, it is illumined by the “inner light,” which is communicated immediately. According to the view of modern theology, the Bible is “divine-human” in the sense that Scripture presents a mixture of truth and error, and it is the business of “the self-consciousness of the theologizing subject” to shed light upon this confusion – by means of his “experience” he separates the truth from the error and thus clarifies Scripture. All of these views regarding the “perspicuity” of Scripture have one common feature: It is man who must illumine Holy Scripture.

    [Pieper, F. (1950). Christian Dogmatics (Vol 1) (T. Engelder, Trans.). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. (Original work published in German, 1924). pp. 319-320]
I’ll stop here for a moment. First, the idea that the full meaning of the Scriptures must come from a representative of the Church is clearly Romish, according to Pieper. “It’s alright if my translation is inaccurate, since my pastor will explain to me correctly,” is a Roman idea. It’s one thing if the trouble understanding the Scriptures is a language deficiency (as we’ll see, below), but quite another if we are to settle for a deficient translation while relying on “the Church” to properly illumine the Scripture’s meaning for us.

Second, if one is working with a sophisticated source language, then it is normal to expect that what is rendered in the target language will be roughly equivalent in sophistication – if the translator endeavors to render the full meaning contained in the source, that is. Granted, given the limitations of a given target language, this may not always be possible – but why is this such a prominent defense these days for accepting deficient translations? What gives the modern translator license to “pick and choose” what he is going to render into the target language, rather than placing on him the challenge and expectation that he take on the high ideal of rendering it as fully as possible in the target language? I submit that the reason is the notion that “the target language” is no longer considered “the target language in its capacity,” but “the target language in its most marketable reading level.” Newspapers have been doing this for decades in order to maximize the distribution of their rags: to maximize readership and profit, the newsprint needs to be rendered in the lowest common denominator of functional literacy. Mass-market book publishers have adopted the same philosophy.

In the realm of Bible translation, this publishing philosophy is enabled by the translation ideology of Dynamic Equivalency. The translator is not permitted the full capacity of the target language, he is limited to that subset of the target language which will maximize distribution and profit. Of course, if one falls back to a pastor to “illumine” the full meaning of the text, normalizing the practice of producing deficient translations can be justified, and from the publishers’ standpoint, Bible consumers are always welcome to fall back on the commentaries they publish, as well. In either case, the clarity and meaning of the Scriptures in the target language depends on man, or additional devices created by man, not on the Scriptures themselves – which forces Christians to draw back from their regard for the perspicuity of Scripture.

Pieper continues:
    According to the teaching of Scripture, however, exactly the opposite relation obtains. Not men illumine Scripture, but Scripture illumines men. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).

    According to Scripture, the perspicuity of the Scripture consists in this, that it presents, in language that can be understood by all, whatever men must know to be saved. By way of elaboration:

    1. This perspicuity is presupposed, as a matter of course, since not only those who are specially gifted, but all Christians are to read the Scriptures, are to believe on the basis of Scripture and to judge truth and error on the same basis. The Perspicuity is taken for granted in Luke 16:29: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” In like manner Christ tells the Jews who would not believe His Word: “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39). [Pieper goes on to quote Acts 17:11, 2 Thess. 2:15, Col. 4:16, 1 Thess. 5:27 to further support the fact that Scripture presupposes its own perspicuity.]

    2. But the perspicuity of Scripture is not only presupposed as self-evident, but Scripture teaches it also very expressly; it most emphatically protests against ever regarding Scripture as an obscure book, as do not only the unbelievers, but also some within external Christendom; at times even devout Christians are disturbed. Scripture says of itself that it is a “light shining in a dark place” (2 Pet. 1:19) and that it “is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” (Ps. 119:105). [Pieper goes on to quote Ps. 19:7, 2 Tim. 3:15, 1 John 2:12-13 showing that Scripture teaches of its perspicuity directly.]

    [Pieper, F. (1950). Christian Dogmatics (Vol 1) (T. Engelder, Trans.). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. (Original work published in German, 1924). pg. 320]
If a translator respects the perspicuity of the Scriptures, then for those translated Scriptures to “illumine” men in a language other than the original source language, one would think that his philosophy of translation would require him to to make a genuine attempt to render the full content of the source language into the target language. Yet the philosophy of Dynamic Equivalency (a) has the translator acting alongside Scripture as the “one who illumines men,” (b) limits the capacity of the target language to carry the full meaning of the source by requiring that the language used in the target be artificially reduced, and (c) in this way grants license to the translator to “pick and choose” which content to render, rather than burden him with the high-ideal of making a genuine attempt to translate all of the content and granting him the necessary tools (the full capacity of the target language) to do so.

Yet it is clear from Scripture that a Christian’s reading of it is to equip him to independently ”judge truth and error”. How does a deliberately deficient translation accomplish this? Recall, that in the case of the NIV 2011, it is so deficient that our WELS Translation Evaluation Committee agreed that for this translation to be sufficient for lay use, a second book should accompany it which exposes and remediates all of its errors and shortcomings. Not only is this full admission that the NIV 2011 is not a translation which rises to a threshold honoring the perspiscuity of the Scriptures, it raises serious questions in the mind of the reader of such a Bible whether the NIV 2011 on his nightstand is, in fact, God’s Word, or something less than God’s Word. Raising questions like this through advocacy of deficient translations of the Bible, is a doctrinal issue, impacting our Doctrine of the Perspicuity of the Scriptures.

But how can a translation possibly rise to the level of such clarity, equipping the reader who has competent skill in his own language to independently judge truth and error based on his own Bible? One thing is certain. It cannot even begin to rise to such a level if, before he even approaches the texts of the source language, restrictions are placed on the translator (or are adopted by him as his own ideology) which do not give him the full utility of the target language, which would force him to produce a translation that is not representative of the sophistication of the content and its presentation as contained in the texts of the source language, but is instead, artificially reduced to meet some perceived external need or the dictates of an ideology imposed on the texts.

But what if these restrictions are lifted? What if the full utility of the target language was embraced? Wouldn’t that produce a translation unintelligible to the “average reader” and wouldn’t this also militate against the perspicuity of the Scriptures? Pieper invokes Luther as he discusses this point, as well:
    For whom are the clear Scriptures an obscure book? For all those to whom the language of Scripture is altogether unknown or at least unfamiliar. On the first point Luther says: “A Turk’s speech must needs be obscure to me; a Turkish child of seven would easily understand him, whereas I do not know the language” (St. L. X:473). To him who does not understand German, the German Bible is dark. One who does not command the English tongue cannot understand the English Bible. But, in the second place, it is necessary that we become accustomed to the language of the Bible by diligent study... to use Luther’s phrase, we must familiarize ourselves (“gewohnen”) with it, or it will remain unintelligible to us... In short, Scripture will be clear to him who, as Luther reminds us, knows the languages and trains himself in the languages by the diligent reading of Scripture. And this diligent reading of Scripture is directly enjoined in the Old and New Testament (Ps. 1:2; Deut. 6:6-9; John 5:39; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 6:3).

    [Pieper, F. (1950). Christian Dogmatics (Vol 1) (T. Engelder, Trans.). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. (Original work published in German, 1924). pg. 321]
As Pieper informs us, the “clarity of the Scriptures” is not a doctrine which has been understood to apply to those of marginal literacy, to those without command of their own language. It has not been understood to apply to the occasional reader of the Bible (for whom the Scriptures will remain dark), but to the diligent reader who has made himself familiar with the way Scripture communicates. Thus, honoring perspicuity is not to be understood to require that the target language be artificially emptied of its utility, in order to reduce the Scriptures to the reading level of the marginally literate, but it in fact requires that such utility be employed where necessary in order to provide in a translation the fullest of what is contained in the texts of the source language, even if that means that the result employs the devices of higher literacy in the target language.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The Scriptures are a deep well, full of complexity. Therein we see the wisdom of God, wisdom that has made the children of God pause and meditate for millennia. You cannot attempt to artificially simplify this without doing damage to the text and the revealed Word of God.

The Bible is a clear text - but that doesn't mean it's easy, nor does it mean that we should be able to read it as carelessly or thoughtlessly as the latest Twilight novel.

Anonymous said...

Well, as of lunch time, the convention passed the first of three resolutions regarding the translation issue. While I'm glad they haven't decided to adopt the new NIV at this convention, I'm nevertheless disappointed with that first resolution.

Essentially the resolution stated that we are going to give the Committee one more year to tell us why the new NIV is so great. They might as well have adopted the new NIV right now--the effect is going to be the same.

My impression is that after the Committee encountered so much resistance at the open forum, they realized that they hadn't stacked the deck nearly as well as they had thought. This resolution gives them another year to placate people and make them feel as if they have some say in the issue (and take the names of more dissenters), when really the matter has been long decided already.

Mr. Adam Peeler

AP said...

I'm just going to first say the obvious thing here: If the translation WELS adopts needs a disclaimer insert (an entire booklet!) warning readers of the various false teachings or errors it promotes then maybe--just maybe--we ought not to adopt it in the first place. Honestly, how many people are even going to buy the NIV 2011 if the first thing they need to do is read about how full of errors it is!

I just heard Professor Wendland say during this morning's discussion that the committee believes that there is no better translation option than the NIV 2011. How can they possibly have come to this conclusion when the thing needs a booklet (not a sheet of paper but a booklet) to explain its shortcomings?

It at least appears that this decision is going to be put off for a while. In any case, the most powerful way to make one's voice heard on the matter is by voting with your dollars. A major drop in NPH sales will get someone's attention. Before anyone gets the wrong idea here, I am not calling for a 1765-like organized boycott. I am, again, just stating the obvious I think.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the errata booklet to be prepared for the NNIV would be larger or smaller than one prepared for ESV, NASB, NKJV, etc.

Anonymous said...

I've heard some of the convention online, but not of all it. Has anyone mentioned that the NKJV enjoys widespread use in the ELS? If not, is there any reason that the WELS is failing to give a deep consideration to the translation choice of its sister synod? I know that the newer ELS catechism uses the old NIV as the main basis for its Scripture quotations, but from my experience in and around Bethany Lutheran College just a few years ago, I noticed that most ELS churches I visited made use of the NKJV for Sunday services. And--correct me if I'm wrong--the ELS hymnal is based on NKJV.

This is all just food for thought. It has always struck me as impressive how the ELS manages to find ways of updating publication materials while retaining a strong sense of tradition--from the use of harmony in the ELH liturgies, to the more traditional wording of the creeds, to the use of a King James-based Bible translation.

Anyway, I appreciate the conversations that I see here. Keep up the good work. I'm not particularly sanguine for our synod's chances of adopting anything other than the NNIV, but the fight needs to be fought. Hopefully the ELS will weigh in on this.

Daniel J. Johnson

Anonymous said...

Dr. Palmer


Let us ask ourselves what Luther might think of a translation that needed an addendum to warn readers of error. Am I wrong to suppose he'd say: "Well, go fix the errors before you publish it, ya morons!"?

If the WELS (or any church) feels the need to write an 'warning of errors' for the Holy Scriptures aren't they placing upon Scripture something extra needed for proper understanding of it? The Errata booklet would be nothing less than a key to Scripture. And THAT necessitates the question: Is the NNIV safe to read without the extra pamphlet? Probably not, If the errata pamphlet-writers truly feel, in good faith, the need to write the pamphlet.

So if you can't safely read the Bible without also knowing and studying the pamphlet, how is the pamphlet any less than Scripture? If the Bible and its list of warnings are inseparable, how is that not disregarding the warning in Rev 22:18?

Fair question, I think. I'd be curious to know what someone in favor of the pamphlet idea would say.

David Kreuter

Joel Lillo said...

Does anybody know if either of the two Time of Grace memorials made it to the convention floor and, if so, what the delegates did with it/them?

Anonymous said...

Pr. Lillo,

It was discussed this afternoon. You can find the revised/combined wording of the memorial here:

I thought I heard a vote to accept, not sure why it doesn't say accepted on the bottom of the document.

Tammy Jochman

Daniel Baker said...

The resolution referenced by Ms. Jochman and passed by the Convention today essentially ensures that nothing will be done with regard to the doctrinal concerns that many of us have with Time of Grace's fellowship practices. I say this because President Rutschow made it clear in his impromptu address to the Convention that the Southeast Wisconsin praesidium does not take issue with Time of Grace's status as a Registered Service Organization (RSO) of the LCMS.

One of the driving themes I picked up during the course of this Convention is the idea that the issues and concerns that are prevalent in the WELS are in no way doctrinal. However, in light of recent events I have a hard time swallowing this pill. Looking at the Time of Grace example, it is clear that doctrinal difference is present; those of us who signed the unpublished Memorial against Time of Grace clearly believe that the organization is doctrinally errant in its fellowship practices. On the other hand, the Synod today made it clear in its passed resolution that it believes Time of Grace and its productions to be "doctrinally sound, bible-based materials," while encouraging it "to continue in its ministry for the education of WELS members and spreading of the pure Gospel."
In light of this, Time of Grace is either an organization with doctrinally heterodox fellowship practices as the signers of the unpublished Memorial believe, or it is a "doctrinally sound" organization promoting the "pure Gospel." It's either one or the other; there's really no middle ground, as far as I can tell (despite the Convention's notions and resolutions to the contrary). To assert anything else is, in my opinion, sophistry at its best.

Anonymous said...

Like Mr. Baker, I noticed the repeated refrain throughout the convention that nothing being discussed was a doctrinal issue. I think this comes from the faulty presumption that the WELS is and always will be perfectly united in doctrine. Thus, if the WELS is perfectly united in doctrine, all disagreements must, by definition, be non-doctrinal. Such an idea is foolish and dangerous.

The general theme of this convention seems to have been "Let someone else deal with it." They punted on the issue of Bible translation. They punted on the issue of Time of Grace. The synod could have saved a lot of money and just not held the convention in the first place since not a thing was accomplished.

Forgive the sharpness of my comments, but I am bitterly disappointed and confused right now. After this convention, I am more convinced than ever that I, as a confessional Lutheran, have no place in the WELS. This Sunday I will be visiting the local CLC church, but I'm not at all convinced that's the answer. I can't stay in the WELS, but there's nowhere else to go. Does anyone have any advice for me? I truly need it.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Hey Daniel,
I think it is utterly pathetic for the WELS to censure Time of Grace for its status with the LCMS. It's hypocrisy in its most pure form, and speaks volumes to the spiritual condition of the WELS.

The WELS won't censure some of its seminary professors for pushing upon the synod a politically motivated translation of Scripture, the Synod doesn't censure the pastors who plagiarize Baptist sermons, The WELS doesn't correct those pastors who attend Fuller Theological Seminary for "extra" education, The WELS doesn't remove from ministry pastors who are divorced, And most importantly, (because we're talking about Time of Grace) they have not censured Time of Grace for the doctrinal problems of the people involved. A discerning Christian might have his eyebrow raised about Mark Jeske for many other reasons beyond ToG, as has been documented on Intrepid.

But LCMS RSO status is the thing that gets everyone's knickers in a twist? "Fellowship" with other synods is a wholly unimportant doctrine IF the WELS refuses to correct problems within its own body. Who the heck cares about Fellowship with an appendage of the LCMS when each WELS member is, by our own definition of Church, in fellowship with all the Enthusiasm and Evangelicalism and Error happening in the WELS. Our synod has already given the nod of approval, through inaction and silence, to all sorts of crap.

Does it strike anyone else besides me, therefore, as pompous, obese, and cactus-eating to choose LCMS-fellowship as the issue to put our foot down on, when the synod is allowing in our body the exact things we accuse the LCMS to be guilty of doing?

If we want to look ourselves in the mirror with a straight face we should accept that the WELS is no better than the LCMS. In fact, we are identical. There are good churches in both synods, and bad churches in both. Neither church has the intestinal fortitude (or Strong Spiritual leadership) to do a darn thing about the problems. It's total B.S. to criticize Jeske for holding hands with the LCMS. I mean, Jeske's the one being consistent. He's not doing anything that the WELS hasn't allowed--and that is proved by the toothless, impotent memorial referenced by Ms. Jochman.

I can think of no better instance to which Matthew 7:5 could apply.

Andy Groenwald

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Hang in there gentlemen.

I agree that this was an incredibly weak Convention. I observed two highlights with respect to the difficult issues we face: the reelection of Rev. Schroeder as Synod President and the Open Forum on the issue of translations. In the former case, turning a ship occurs under the leadership of a steady captain under mission to toward a definite destination. I have confidence in Rev. Schroeder's confessionalism and the destination he is proceeding toward. Turning a ship also takes time, and progress toward a destination may be interrupted by ant number of factors. Will we go around or through certain storms? I think I have exhausted this metaphor, but I also think my point is clear. I have confidence in the destination he has chosen, so I will stick with him until it is clear we have been fully thwarted.

In the latter case, it was thrilling to see delegate after delegate challenge and, in my honest opinion, virtually make fools out of the TEC as they continued to maintain their endorsement of the NIV 2011 in the face of those challenges, and were ultimately forced into admitting that producing a booklet which exposes its errors and shortcomings was appropriate. What happened to these bold delegates between Tuesday evening and Thursday morning? One must wonder. Only one of them, that I could tell, found his way to the microphone on the Convention floor Thursday.

And regarding the TEC's endorsement of the NIV 2011, let's be clear. This is what they are doing. WLS President Wendland clarified this point after one delegate – who challenged the continued objectivity of the TEC by saying that "they had 'tipped their hand'" and questioning whether their continued effort to "educate the synod on the general principles that we ought to use to evaluate the Bible translations mentioned in their reports, and so to help build a consensus among us on which translation to use for synod publications" would really only serve to guide the Synod to accept the NIV 2011 – was corrected by a second delegate (a member of the Floor Committee offering the Resolution) who stressed that the TEC report merely indicated that the "NIV 2011 can be used" and that this did not constitute an endorsement. President Wendland proceeded to the microphone on the floor of the Convention and corrected this notion held by the second delegate, by stating directly regarding the TEC’s endorsement of the NIV 2011, "This is what we are doing."

Despite our best hopes, these outcomes, including the collective abdication on the ToG Memorials, are exactly what we at IL anticipated. We have already developed post-Convention plans.

Stay Tuned.

Pastor Spencer said...

I recommend we save ourselves a whole bunch of key-strokes in the future when talking about this pathetic convention. From now on I'm going to refer to it simply as "WELS PPK," or just plain "ppk." That stands, of course, for "Punk, Pass, and Kick." They punted on all difficult decisions, passed just about everything else, and kicked the confessionals who signed the first Time of Grace Memorial in the teeth.

In my humble opinion.

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

Right on, Pastor Spencer.

BUT ten years ago I don't think the delegates would've voted against the recommendation of the TEC. I think that is remarkably hopeful and it spells out what we need to do.

Let's gird our metaphorical loins and hammer this NIV issue with everyone we know. Do you think I'm right by surmising that only 20% of the WELS knows about the NNIV? Well, let's bring this issue to the grannies, to the 8th graders, and to everyone in between.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. "bored": Let's... hammer this NIV issue with everyone we know... let's bring this issue to the grannies, to the 8th graders, and to everyone in between

Of the post-Convention "contingency plans" we discussed among us at IL, one included continued pursuit of this translation issue (and we've partially developed a bit of material in this direction already). The problem is, we don't have the exposure to "bring this issue to the grannies, to the 8th graders, and to everyone in between." Are you and others willing to positively represent IL in public, and "promote" our efforts by passing around links to our articles?

In addition, I am convinced that a more effective means of delivering this material is non-electronic: distribution of hard-copy publications and even in-person conferences with speakers who are prepared to discuss translation ideology and our choice of Bible versions from a perspective which departs from that of the TEC. But that would require IL to incorporate and develop sources of revenue to fund such efforts (which would rely on donations, primarily). Do you, or does anyone, think this is a good idea, and would you be willing to contribute financially?

BTW, "bored" -- what is your real name?

AP said...

The 2012 district conventions now become absolutely critical, and not just because of the NIV 2011. We will be electing DPs of course. Note that I did not say re-electing. If these conventions all turn into more PPK sessions, then we're in a lot of trouble.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

AP said...

Mr. Lindee,

Great ideas, and I especially like the notion of a conference. In addition to whatever people here can contribute, the IL site could also set up a Paypal link for donations toward these things. I believe Amazon also has a system that allows for the online collection of donations.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mister Lindee,

I guess I wasn't even thinking about a corporate act. I wrote "we" meaning individuals. I think that is where the real power lies because it's in the hearts of individuals where the Holy Spirit works. I think we each need to be talking to our grannies and our 8th graders, although in the process certainly referring them to Intrepid any anyone else with viable and honest analysis of the NNIV.

I think an incorporation and wonton advertisement of IL is a very good idea, but if we each rely on the internet and use it as an excuse not to have hard conversations with our own people nothing will change.

I for one am not looking forward to having this conversation with some of my family because they are the sort that will go along with the WELS regardless of anything. They will be uncomfortable with the idea of a rift between WELS people and the conversation will get turned aside a dozen times to avoid the necessity of making a judgement call that will invariably alienate them from someone in our family.

How many other deeply-rooted WELS folks will be forced to make judgement calls--picking sides and perhaps, (as it will in my family) cause BIG TIME family division? I suppose that quite a number of families are in that same position.

You see why I might not post my name with comments like this? Christian discernment is already going to cause familial problems and it won't help reading about it on the internet. I hope IL admin will post this unsigned comment--and I promise to sign my name in the future.

But I'm sure everybody here can sympathize. The WELS is close-knit and we 're all going to have to make difficult calls. A great battle to fight is one against the NIV 2011, but it's got to start with our own families.


Joe Krohn said...

The NNIV is a great rallying point...however that is not the root cause. The problem is a willingness to compromise for the sake of union and mission...but soon enough all will be compromised away and WELS will be standing on sand... because after all...all this discussing of doctrine gets in the way of saving souls.


Mr. Douglas Lindee said...


I don't disagree with you. That's why I suggest bona fide organizational status for IL. Why? Individuals, such as yourself, engaging in individual discussion with friends and family, are necessarily shedding light on harsh realities, to which those having unrealistic regard for our beloved institution will probably take immediate offense. One will be arguing against a strongly held myth, and against the integrity of an inerrant institution. If such a person has an "institution" behind him, as well, comprised of WELS members having the same concerns, then that person's witness to his friends and family will carry more weight. The "we" you refer to, will be real people -- perhaps even extended family and respected friends -- with real concerns, who have assembled themselves in an organization on the basis of their concern.

This is why we need signers to Stand with Us. I guarantee you, going public was not an easy thing for many of those who have already signed on with us. I have no family or extended network of friends in WELS, and it was even difficult for me. But if you take your own concerns seriously, if you take our collective concerns seriously, you must lend us your name. Otherwise this "we" you speak of is really nobody in particular, and "our" concerns carry little weight.


Anonymous said...

So can I safely assume that the convention treated the ELS and its translation choices as though they don't exist?

Daniel J. Johnson

P.S. To Mr. Peeler, you may feel more comfortable at an ELS church if you can find one, but since the expulsion of several churches over the ministry issue a few years ago, I'm worried you may be eventually backed into the same political corner again.

P.P.S. Mr. Groenwald has a good point.

Joel Lillo said...

Why should it surprise any of you that the convention pushed difficult decisisons on to the districts or a future convention? That's what conventions always do. The 2007 convention should have taken the difficult but necessary action of closing Michigan Lutheran Seminary (for example) but pushed off the inevitable for a future convention.

Daniel Baker said...

Mr. Lindee,

I, for one, would support the incorporation of, development of revenue sources for, and distribution of publications from Intrepid Lutherans. I would be wholeheartedly behind such efforts, for what it's worth (which, given my limited status and resources, is admittedly very little).

While, like others, I am growing increasingly disillusioned with the state of our synod, the Convention actually had more positives than I anticipated. Namely, the dissatisfaction expressed by the delegates at the open forum on Biblical Translation, the re-election of our President, and for myself personally the essay on the Sacramental Life. While these things might seem ultimately trivial to some, to me they indicate at least a spark of Confessional orthodoxy. It indicates that our synod is still worth fighting for.

As Pastor Lillo opines in his comment above, I am not surprised that the Convention did what it did - it is what politicized organizations tend to do, it is what everyone I talked to expected to happen, and it is what, according to those familiar with such events, has occurred in the past. We need to take this opportunity to step up our game tenfold and actively promote what is right. Until then, we are not doing all that can be done.

In any event, these are just my humble thoughts as a simple, collegiate member of the laity. I eagerly await the contingency plan that the venerable leaders of this group have developed behind-the-scenes.

Daniel Baker said...

As an anecdote to Mr. Groenwald - I heartily agree with all of your sentiments. The notion that we are piously better than Missouri is fallacious at best. The point (at least in my signing and approval) of the Memorial against Time of Grace was not because I dislike the LCMS, but rather because in this and other areas Time of Grace is openly and blatantly rejecting and thumbing their noses at the doctrine and practice we subscribe to in our synod. If the Synod in Convention was not willing to take a stand against the organization in this most blatant of violations, it is unlikely that they will stand against its more subtle and egregious errors.

Anonymous said...

"Move along, no doctrinal differences here, nothing to see, move along!"
Daniel- Remember, "Touch not the Lord's annointed".
Tongue now removed from cheek,
Scott E.Jungen

Anonymous said...

CLC, Mr.Peeler? As a CLC pastor for over 20 years, I would say you'd be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. If you're into making the doctrine of fellowship the center of your theology, then it might be the place for you.

Pastor Steve Kurtzahn

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


It's been nice hearing from you and reading your comments. And while we appreciate your desire for anonymity, we can't keep breaking our own rules about anonymous comments. If you sign your name, we'll post your comment. If you want to communicate directly with us, you can use the "contact us" button on top of the page.

God's blessings!

old enough to know better said...

It occurs to me, a lay person, that there are some serious things wrong with a Scripture translation that has to publish a booklet to explain it's errors. Ditto an official position that people will need instruction to correctly interpret it. Did we fall into a time warp?

The whole bible-fundamental "happy clappy" church movement has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that when you water down the message of the Scripture, you have to replace it with something like feelings whomped up with drums and the guitar - bring on the golden calf!

The church's job is and always has been to "go and tell". The apostles preached about Jesus, both from the old testament and Jesus' ministry. They didn't preach about themselves. They didn't try to out-preach the representatives of the pagan religions. They preached Christ crucified and the Holy Spirit was responsible for the increase.

Today, we only have the scriptures (since the apostles are all dead) and we are supposed to be as faithful to God's Word as we possibly can so that the Holy Spirit can perform His work.

I personally would not want to recommend any Scripture to anyone that might lead him away from salvation.

PK Stoesser

Anonymous said...

Pastor Kurtzahn,

First, I indicated that I didn't think that the CLC would really be an answer for me.

Second, do you have any suggestions for me? I'm looking for a church body that upholds and defends the Lutheran Confessions in doctrine and practice. I can't find one. Maybe you know of one.


Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, people here are hammering the "publish a booklet" thing a little too hard. If I heard correctly on Steams, I don't think a single member of the TEC said that was the thing to do. The suggestion came from the floor, and initially the suggestion was just for a study sheet. Then someone said, "It could even be a study pamphlet."

I'm not sure why that's being hammered. I've probably heard two dozen different WELS pastors at some point or another say, "In the Greek..." or "Better translated..." or "What that word REALLY means is..." So all the time, pastors are subtly implying that meaning becomes clearer when there is additional explanation.

Even on this blog, I think I've seen the suggestion that whatever translation the WELS adopts, a nice idea might be to produce a study Bible for the Reformation anniversary, so that things that the NNIV (or another translation) left unclear could be clarified.

Bottom line, don't make too much out of that booklet comment. It didn't even come from the TEC. And, in my opinion, no matter what translation we adopted, commentary isn't a bad idea.

Yours in Christ,
Daniel Kastens

Anonymous said...

Mr. Peeler, I'd stay in the WELS.

Steve Kurtzahn

Anonymous said...

Mr. Peeler,
I certainly understand your yearning for a Lutheran church body that unholds the Lutheran Confessions in doctrine and practice. As we know the WELS has problems the size I have not seen in my lifetime. The existance of this blog shows that. For all of its human frailities, the WELS is, to me, the most confessional for the moment. I agree with Pastor Kurtzahn, stay in th WElS with me.
Tongue not in cheek this time,
Scott E. Jungen

Daniel Baker said...

Mr. Peeler,

There is not, has never been, and will never be a perfect, Confessional Church body. Period. There will always be heretics and heterodoxy among us, for as long as time endures. This is something that Christ Himself warned us about, not to mention the other witnesses of Scripture. The goal needs to be to find a Confessional Shepherd in a Church body which at least professes adherence to the Confessions. The Pastor is what is important; our ecclesiastical system is man-made and should be secondary to sound law-gospel preaching and sacrament administration with a body of believers in a local congregation. But, that's just my opinion.

Mr. Kastens,

I am almost positive that one (or more) of the Committee members did in fact endorse and support the "pamphlet" idea as a worthy suggestion. We will have to wait until the Convention video feed is posted in the archive to know for sure.

Please also keep in mind that there is a difference between a study Bible which illuminates certain passages in greater depth or offers a variant translation and a booklet which purports to list a number of significant errors contained in a translation.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I don't buy the "there's no such thing as a perfect synod" argument. Yes, it's true that every synod will be plagued with false teachers and false teachings. But there's a huge difference between a synod which works to correct or remove such falsehood and a synod that won't even admit that such falsehood exists.

This synod convention (along with other recent happenings) proved that the WELS is not able or willing to correct or remove falsehood from its midst. Because of that, I can no longer remain.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Perry Lund said...

This is certainly an interesting set of comments. As a delegate, I learned much in this, my first and likely only convention. Our congregation will not have another chance a delegate for 12 years. I met several confessionally strong pastors and laymen. My floor committee did not have any of the more substantial memorials. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the way our floor committee work was done. Whenever I had questions, my chairman spent all the extra time I needed, and he introduced me to DPs and other synod people to answer questions.

I may not have liked all the answers I received, but the process was handled quite well from my point of view. I learned that floor committees yield what comes to the floor for a reading and discussion and finally a vote. I was happy to see delegate ask tough questions at times and the discussions were for the post part exhaustive, while remaining inside the timeframe to do all convention business by Friday morning.

Continue to pray for the pastors, teachers and synodical workers that they examine themselves in their work and tasks, that those who are faithful remain faithful in their Lutheran Confessions and that God's will, which is not always our will, be done for the Christian Church and the WELS.

Finally, keep the discussion going. It is easy to let contentious issues drive the conversation. May be continue to be diligent in all matters within the WELS that affect doctrine and practice.

Your brother in Christ,
Perry Lund

Daniel Baker said...

Mr. Peeler,

My main point is that the local congregation, not the synod, is of primary importance. You don't have to "buy" anything; the fact is that there is no Lutheran Church body meeting the standards you describe. If you should find such a church body, be sure to let us know. In the mean time, I sincerely recommend against leaving your congregation, your actual "Church Body," unless it is in doctrinal error. If it is, find a "Church Body" which is Confessionally sound with a strong, orthodox pastor, regardless of synodical affiliation. That, I think, is the best answer (in my humble and admittedly limited opinion).

Pastor Spencer said...

The key is discipline. And even then, not only the culmination, but the working at it.

Any and every church body, even the most confessional Lutheran – on paper – is going to have some, be they few or many, errant Pastors, teachers, professors, and congregations. If those who are charged with supervision of doctrine and practice are working to correct or curtail false teaching and/or practices, then a confessional believer can and should be comfortable in such a group.

In addition, if the false teaching and/or practice is noticed in the first place, this would necessarily mean that it was a matter of public error and offense, and the discipline must of necessity also be public. The supervisors of doctrine and practice cannot and must not say in such instances, “We’re working on it behind closed doors, you must just trust us.” As has been said dozens of times on this blog already – public error must be confronted and dealt with publicly.

Finally, we cannot expect to always have a quick resolution to these errant occurrences, as much as that might be preferable and desirable. Correction sometimes takes a good deal of patient time and effort. And while we might hope for correction, often the culmination of such discipline may be removal of the errant party. But again, as long as the discipline is being carried out, and can be clearly seen and followed in public, a confessional believer is justified in remaining in the church body in question.

I would also second a comment made earlier, that the situation in the local congregation is a more important consideration in this regard.

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

Hi, guys.

The conversation about synod is very interesting, as I come out of another Lutheran synod. I agree that the congregation is of primary importance. Obviously, it's MY pastor who feeds me with the Means of Grace. However, I would caution against downplaying the role of synod either. (And no one here has done that. It's just a precautionary tale.) Before I was WELS, it struck me as odd that I could be in a "synod" where there was complete disunity from parish to parish. Someone is going to say, "But we have that disunity in the WELS!" As someone whose travel schedule dictates worshiping in a large number of WELS churches, trust me, the WELS is VERY unified. If you complain about the lack of unity in the WELS, you probably won't be happy anywhere until you are in heaven, and our faith and knowledge is made perfect. Back to my point. Before I was in the WELS, I had "sister" churches that were charismatic. I had sister conferences where mission dollars, at least in part, would fund programs such as Planned Parenthood. Personally, I don't know how anyone in good conscience can advice a WELS member to try the LC-MS. And certainly not the ELCA. (I know nothing about the CLC, other than their chief doctrine appears to be not justification, but how bad the WELS is.) It seemed to me entirely dishonest to be part of a synod where my "sister churches" would speak in tongues... to have my offerings comingled with theirs to accomplish joint work. Insanity.

On a totally different note, today I got to talk with someone who was at synod convention. He said that Time of Grace was there, and that they have a totally different RSO status than the one that is on LCMS RSO website. It states clearly that there is no fellowship implied. I wish that were public. But it makes me happy that the resolution to discipline TOG was defeated. We must allow the district officials, who are the ones with the call to monitor doctrine and practice, time to do their work. And it seems they are. And it seems we don't know the whole picture. I pray it becomes more clear.

God bless!
Daniel K.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Seth Enius said...

Maybe this'll be good food for thought:

Anonymous said...

I've been watching the comments on this post and I'm surprised to see that although there is a lot of criticism regarding the new NIV and threats to leave WELS because of it, I mostly see lots of smoke, and little or no substance. Where is the discussion on the important doctrinal verses of Scripture? Where is the comparison of the NIV11, NIV84 and the Greek text? Where is the thorough discussion of the reports that came out of the translation committee? What I see instead is unbased criticism. I saw a couple Bible references in the previous post, but that was it. Why don't you offer something substantive on textual criticism, if that's your gripe? Why don't you point out the errant verses in NIV11 and tell us how they should be translated from the original?

Pastor Steve Kurtzahn

Anonymous said...

Pastor Kurtzahn, I don't think anyone is stopping you from making so many well-founded points.

But in fact, the comments I've read here have all be substantive and (for the most part) thoughtful. But I can explain the angle most people are taking. Most people are addressing the philosophy behind translating--the thinking that leads men to make decisions about how to translated Hebrew and Greek words into English. I, for one, think the CBT approaches Scriptures from a post-modern understanding of language. The translators translate through the lens of modernity, instead of the lens of the ancient world-- and that, Pastor Kurtzahn, is bad scholarship and bad Christianity. Do you see why a wide-angle approach like this might preclude verse by verse textual analysis?

Another "gripe" people have is also worth explaining for you. When the Paul Wendland of the WELS translation evaluation Committee said (paraphrase) at convention "having a booklet to accompany the NNIV pointing out its errors would be a good idea" he and rest of the translation committee delved into new territory. Never before has any body of Christians (who claim to be the bastion of Orthodoxy) dared to suggest adding a caveat to the Scriptures. Can anyone say "hubris"? I, and others who have commented think that no textual criticism is needed to see that this is a very very bad idea, equal with writing a new Book for the Bible. Mr. Wendland was wrong to support the idea, as is anyone else who agreed with that notion. I can give the Sem President a little slack for being put on the spot in front of a microphone and being asked an opinion. Each of us might say any number of goofy things in certain situations. BUT I would also expect that if someone accidentally supported an antiChristian idea in public (like adding necessary warning to the Bible) a swift and decisive recant is in order.

This is the sort of discernment that goes on. So, Pastor Kurtzhan, most of the readers and contributors of this blog don't have the language skills to dig into the original. So we are left with philosophical investigations. The laymen here may not be scholars but we are certainly practicing not to be fools.

So, we must defer to you for a bit of textual criticism. You are a pastor with the skills it takes. Please, if you don't mind, give us your thoughts on Romans 10:17 in regards to the changes in the NIV 2011. I'd appreciate the insights of a scholar, and would greatly appreciate hearing your opinion about the best way to translate that verse. Thanks in advance.

Andy Groenwald

Anonymous said...

Andy, a lot of this boils down to the age-old question for translators: does usage determine grammar or does grammar determine usage? I don't understand where you are coming from when you write, "The translators translate through the lens of modernity, instead of the lens of the ancient world." I want a translation of the original Hebrew and Greek that puts the Holy Spirit's meaning into the way people talk today in 2011 America. That's why Luther kept changing his translation up until the day he died. Does the NIV need a revision? In taking formerly unchurched people through Bible information classes for church membership, I find I have to stop to explain words the NIV uses, and the long sentences are difficult for some to grasp. It reminds me when I still taught from the KJV Gausewitz catechism, and I had to stop and explain verse after verse because the students were so unfamiliar with ye olde English.

I can't defend Pres. Wendland when he mentioned the booklet. I wasn't at the convention, nor did I see the video feed. I don't know the context in which he said it. Putting the best construction on his statement, and knowing Paul personally, my guess is in speaking off the cuff he mispoke, and if he had the time to think about it, he probably would have never said it to begin with. We all make mistatements. I do agree, however, to have a booklet to go along with a Bible translation would be a terrible idea!

I'm not the one who is criticizing the NIV11. Others are. Have them take the time to do the exegesis on the passage and others they have difficulties with.

Steve Kurtzahn

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I think your argument is silly. To ask me to believe that the NIV 84 or NASB or the NKJV or the ESB are written in outdated modes of speech would be insulting if I didn't think it so preposterous. It's a lie to say that these translations make no sense in today's English. A funny lie, I'll grant you. In fact I'm wondering if you are pulling my leg.

It doesn't boil down to grammar dictating usage. It does boil down to certain faithless men who don't mind adapting the word of God to fit the sensitivities of the liberal modern mind. The goal should be to change man to fit scripture, not scripture to fit man.

Part of teaching, Steve, is explaining things you didn't expect you 'd have to explain. No matter how blitheringly simple these progressive ideologues make the Scriptures someone will be too dense to understand and you'll have to do the work of an English teacher, on top of the work of a pastor. That's life. And it's a lot safer bet than molding the Word so that it's acceptable.

Andy Groenwald

Anonymous said...

Here's a bit of another new translation aimed at African Americans. (because no other translation was written in their modern language) Pastor Kurtzahn, do you approve?

One day as folks were starting to press all round Jesus, He decided to go up on a hill for a minute to rap with His chosen brothers.

He wanted them to know what was up. “You know, there’s a little something for everybody,” Jesus told ‘em. “Brothers who are down in the way they feel, they ain’t got nothing to worry ‘bout ‘cuz the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. Even those who feel like they’ve lost, can be on the one again ‘cuz there will be arms ‘round ‘em to make ‘em feel better. And you know those brothers who seem weak and on the bottom of the tadpole, the world is theirs. No kidding. And those folks who always do right, got a kind word to say, a good deed or two to do, it’s coming back to ‘em in spades. If a brother shows kindness and mercy, it’s coming back to him more than he can count.

Righteousness is given to those whose hearts are pure and good, for in the end they shall see the Almighty. And those that keep the peace, my brothers, shall be called the Almighty’s children. But, those who are dissed and stepped on ‘cuz they are trying to do the right thing, the kingdom of heaven is theirs. And here’s the kicker,” Jesus told them. “If you have to suffer ‘cuz you’re main brothers, no matter what it is, ou gotta know that in the end, the ultimate is gonna be laid on you. It’ll be worth more than gold."


Anonymous said...

Pastor Kurtzahn,

Can you provide a quotation or reference showing that Luther continued to revise his Bible because the German language was changing? I don't know much about Luther's translation practice, but I have always assumed that he made revisions because he was simply trying to capture Scripture more faithfully, not because the langue and parole of German was slipping away from him.

The main thing I remember about Luther's translation practice was something a professor at Bethany told me. He said that when Luther needed specific words to describe body organs in the Old Testament, he would consult the butchers in town. Now the words he got would be those used by commoners--the butchers themselves--but I would bet that the common man in general did not know exactly what they meant, especially if Luther himself needed help coming up with them. So the question is, why did he strive for such specific, but seemingly obscure, diction? Why not just use words everyone would understand, something like guts instead of gizzards? I think the guts/gizzards paradigm is what everyone is fearful about in the NNIV. The passage referenced above, the NNIV rendering of Romans 10:17, is a good example of a new translation changing my understanding of a key Bible verse, not by word choice alone in this case, but by switching one word from a genitive preposition (of Christ) to an ablative one (about Christ).

Daniel J. Johnson

Anonymous said...

Andy, again I ask, show me the passages from the NIV11 that proves faithless men have changed God's Word to fit the sensitivities of the liberal modern mind.

I asked you to explain what you meant when you said, "The translators translate through the lens of modernity, instead of the lens of the ancient world," and then you accuse me of lying? What's that all about? I was trying to make a point that yes, even the NIV needs to be tweeked every thirty years or so. Who uses the words like "exasperate" or "debauchery" anymore? Who speaks or writes in lengthy sentences that extend beyong one line of print anymore? I never said these translations make no sense for today's English speaker.

You don't know me from Adam. I have personal issues with even the NIV 1984. I use it because that's what the majority of my church body has chosen to use. For my personal Bible study I've been using the ESV, and I used the NKJV for almost 2o years in my ministry. I use the NIV now because that's what's in the catechism I use to teach my classes, and I do feel it flows the smoothest for public reading. But if I were going to write critical articles about the NIV 84 I would certainly back up my criticisms with concrete examples rather than with condemning generalities.

Again, show me the passages from the NIV11 that changes doctrine, that shows the original intent of God's Word from the Hebrew and Greek has been changed to fit the sensititivies of the modern liberal mind. If a person, an organization or a website is going to criticize a translation, they should be able to prove their point with book, chapter and verse.

Pastor Steve Kurtzahn

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


I can't speak for Pr. Kurtzahn, but I should think that ebonics "translation" of Jesus' words would be insulting to Americans of African descent. Even worse, it's insulting to the Spirit who inspired the original words. (I know you didn't quote this as an insult, just as an example of horribly bad translation philosophy.)

You're exactly right in your comments above about translation philosophy. The more I read Luther's Bible, the more I realize how uninterpretive it is, and how closely the English of the KJV is to the German of Luther.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Here is Romans 10:17 in Greek (yes, there is a manuscript variant here), and in various translations.

Nestle-Aland: ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ.

Majority Text: Ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Θεοῦ.

KJV: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

NKJV: So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

NIV 1984: Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

NIV 2011: Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

ESV: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Luther (1545): So kommt der Glaube aus der Predigt, das Predigen aber durch das Wort GOttes.

English translation of Luther: Thus faith comes from what is preached (or "the sermon"), but the preaching through the word of God.

The subtle change in the NIV 2011 from "of Christ" to "about Christ" is typical of what they do throughout the Scriptures. They take a genitive that can be interpretted in more than one way and they nail the reader down to only one way.

"Word of Christ (or of God)" can mean "the word that comes from Christ," or "the word that belongs to Christ," or "the word about Christ." There are technical terms for all of those "genitives," but the technical terms are irrelevant. The point is that the Greek language does not narrow it down any further than that.

The English "Word of Christ/God" is really ideal for conveying the Greek genitive in this case. But interpretive translations like the NIV are not content with ambiguity. The translators try to decide what kind of genitive is being used, and then lock in their final answer, limiting the choices so that the reader cannot see for himself what the options are. It was nice that they left it alone in 1984. It's too bad that they've become more interpretive in 2011.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pastor Kurtzahn,

I do not believe that the new NIV changes "doctrine.” But there are a lot of "little things" that bother me – the grand total of which are making this translation hard for me to swallow.. My biggest problem with the NIV is how Psalm 8:4-6 is translated and how Hebrews 2:6 quotes it. I know that Psalm could be understood as an indirect prophecy instead of rectilinear. Prof. Nass has a response about Messianic prophecy here:

Nass makes the point that we shouldn't let typical vs. rectilinear prophecy separate us. I agree. But the new NIV translation shuts the door on taking that prophecy in a rectilinear way. Hebrews 2 is a place where God gave us a crystal clear interpretation of Psalm 8. Why muddle it up by translating the way the NIV did? God wants us to see His Son, not humanity in Psalm 8 – even if this Psalm were a typical prophecy. But the NIV translation puts the Messianic prophecy on the back burner for the sake of being gender neutral. I will not say the NIV translators are anti-prophecy or anything like that. But I do believe, in this instance, that they were sloppy at best.

Another complaint of mine is the translation of Acts 1:16 and adding the word “sisters.” Again, the NIV does not teach falsely regarding the roles of men and women, but here is a case where it is not very clear. It seems like women voted an apostle. I can imagine, 5 years down the road, someone coming to me and asking: “Why can’t women vote, here is an example of where they voted for an apostle in the New Testament.”

These are my two biggest complaints, but there are others – like changing “sons” to “children.” I once wrote a sermon based on Galatians 3:26, and the whole point of the sermon was how we, by faith, are not merely God’s children, but are considered his “sons.” It does not matter if you are male or female, young or old, you are a “son” of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Through faith we are covered with Christ’s righteousness who is the Son of God. We are united with Christ in such a way that when God the Father looks at us He sees his Son. With His Son we are coheirs of his eternal blessings. All these thoughts are conveyed in the words “son.” Paul could have used the Greek word for children, but he chose not to. There was a reason Paul used the word son, and that reason is weakened with the translation “children.”

It is not one big thing, but many little things that make me leery about the new NIV.

In Christian love,
Pastor Michael Sullivan

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insight about Romans 10:17, Pastor Rydecki. If I may add: the use of "of" supports the Biblical doctrine that God's Word is no less than God (John 1). The word "about" doesn't support that idea.

You also hit the nail on the head regarding the afro-american scripture being totally insulting. That was my point. Dumbing down a book so that someone (or a demographic) can understand it presumes that they incapable of growing to understand it in its historically accurate form. It would be like publishing a modern English- paraphrased edition of Shakespeare's complete works because kids can't understand Elizabethan English.

Pastor Kurtzahn, I think I have discovered a way to describe what 'the modern lens" means for you. Shakespeare is special...why? His storytelling is great, certainly. But what makes Shakespeare so special is that there are these hidden jokes, subtexts, puns, internal rhymes, etc. on top of a great stories and great characters.

Now if I were translating Shakespeare into, say, Japanese, my duty would be to work tirelessly to incorporate as much of that subtext and layered richness without making the thing unreadable in Japanese. I wouldn't, as the NIV 2011 does, adapt the meaning of original Elizabethan English to fit contemporary Japanese slang or usage. The Japanese usage and grammar would the slave to the original, and, if my goal was to be accurate about Shakespeare's meaning the gracefulness and ease of reading would play second fiddle to the point being conveyed.

But as far as examples of what is wrong with the NIV go, I already offered to hear your insight about Rom 10:17. You punted. I'd direct you to respond to pastor Rydecki's analysis. Do you agree with him? Or do you think that the nuance difference between "word of Christ" and "word about Christ" is inconsequential?

And I make no accusation toward you. I stated a fact. You defended the NIV 2011 because, as your thinly veiled implication goes, unchurched people can't understand the translations currently available. That is ludicrous and false. I have more respect for the general literacy of my fellow Americans than that.

I haven’t been pointlessly contentious, Pastor Kurtzahn. I just don't think your tack of argumentation has been particularly honest. You criticize because no one is doing verse by verse research and analysis, but you refuse to do so yourself. Jump in. I'm not educated like you are. I know no greek. And then you make specious arguments--the same arguments offered by the TEC, and do not respond when the speciousness is illuminated and criticized.

I’d hope to convince you of my insight about the philosophical underpinnings of the CBT and their work. But if you continue to make exasperating comments—like “who uses the words exasperate and debauchery anymore” you are depriving yourself of the tools it takes to have a really effulgent conversation…and in that case, perhaps you should be silent in your philological debauchery.
(no, that wasn’t a misspelling of ‘philosophical’. The word is philological.) I’m teasing you now—but I suspect that if you want to learn a couple new words tonight you’ll pick up the dictionary…just like those unchurched people who can’t understand NASB (my translation of choice) will do.

Andy Groenwald

Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor Sullivan.

How many of these things you call "sloppy" have to be identified before we are forced to say "these folks have an agenda"? As I read the NIV 2011 I come across more and more things that affect the nuance of the meaning of the verses. I agree with to a point that the NIV 2011 hasn't blantantly changed doctrine, but they have, very subtly, injected different focuses to very many verses, either by the change of gender, prepositions, etc.

How many instances (as you learn the new translation) will it take? How many little things before we can reject it, in your opinion.

I don't know the answer, but that is why I've focused more on the philosophy (to support Andy's point) of the CBT than on the verses. It's hard to make a clear judgement when we're talking ounces and not gallons. (And it's not like the CBT has a Confessional Lutheran background. Their own personal doctrine and practice doesn't even recommend them to Lutherans for the spiritual understanding required to translate. Oh, and pastor Sullivan..still enjoying Gauloises? American spirits myself.

David Kreuter

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki and Pastor Sullivan, thanks for your posts. What you wrote are the kinds of comments any critique of the NIV11 needs.

Pastor Steve Kurtzahn

Anonymous said...

We've been hard on the gender-neutrality of the new NIV, I admit, so I thought it might be good to point out that there are already some schools that are huge fans of the new NIV. Just follow this link to read all about it:

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

In all seriousness, though, I think that that article perfectly illustrates the fact that, in the case of gender-neutrality, a change in language and terminology is not neutral. It reflects a serious change in the way our world thinks about gender roles. As "ghostofmartinchemnitz" pointed out in the previous post, our world is in rebellion against God's order of creation and this rebellion shows itself in the way our language is changing.

These sentences from the article should give all supporters of the new NIV pause: "The teachers avoid using the pronouns 'him' and 'her' when talking to the children....Books have been carefully selected to avoid traditional presentations of gender and parenting roles....'I want to change things in society,' says 27-year-old Emelie Andersson who...specifically chose to work at Egalia because of its policy on gender."

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

Mmmm,Gauloises and American Spirits: those names brings back memories. Alas, I quit smoking 6 years ago, when I met Laura.

You asked: "How many of these things you call "sloppy" have to be identified before we are forced to say "these folks have an agenda"?"

To me the answer to that question is not really all that important. What is important to me the the translation before me. Even if there was no agenda and the members of the CBT were the nicest, most God-fearing people in the world: a bad translation is a bad translation.

You asked: "How many instances (as you learn the new translation) will it take? How many little things before we can reject it, in your opinion."

My opinion? I can not see myself recommending the new NIV to my congregation. There are too many little things that cause confusion.

What will I recommend? I don't know yet. I am still reading the TEC's reports with interest, as they critically examine other translations. Even though I disagree with some of their arguments and conclusions, I never-the-less can still critically read their reports and draw my own conclusions on the translations they examine. For example: I agree with Nass that the ESV does not live up to the marketing claims the ESV makes about itself. It is not an essentially literal translation. However, as I read Nass' article critically, I find less objectionable with the ESV than with the NIV eventhough Nass is very critical of the ESV.

Reading Nass' article on Messianic prophecy has convinced me that other translations are better at highlighting Messianic prophecy than the NIV (eventhough this was not the point of his article). That article made me order a Beck Bible - eventhough Nass' is critical of Beck.

Even though the TEC is recommending the new NIV, a critical reading of the TEC reports may actually help us find a better alternative.

In Christian love,
Pastor Michael Sullivan

Anonymous said...

No, we haven't been "hard" on the Gender neutrality thing. We haven't been anywhere hard enough.

Doesn't anyone else shiver when the WELS fights so hard to make their Truth marketable? The command to make our message popular is notably absent from Jesus' teachings. In fact, the opposite is true. "I came not to bring peace..." (Mt 10:34) And look specifically to verses 19 and 20 of that chapter. NASB: "Do not worry about how or what you say...". This is enough to dissuade faithful Christians from all the reasons the NIV 2011 is defended by our WELS brothers. Verse 20: "For it is not you who speak, but it is the spirit of your Father who speaks in you." Thankfully this takes the burden off of us.
The Holy Spirit is a BIT more powerful than ungraceful clauses. The Holy Spirit has the ability to lead a man to a dictionary if he doesn't know a word he reads in Scripture. The Holy Spirit even has the ability to cause faith in a man who doesn't understand the Scriptures. (The Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8) Notice the similarity between what the Eunuch says to Philip, and what Paul writes in Romans 10:14.

Philip called out "Do you understand what you are reading?"
"How can I" replied the Eunuch, "unless someone explains it to me"...And Philip began with that passage and told him the good news about Jesus.

Paul writes in Romans 10: 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

The similarity between these two passages, and the special significance bestowed upon the Preached Word throughout the new testament leads me, a simple layman to note that it's the preacher's job to make the message clear to those who read it. (not the translators job to eliminate the need for corporate Preaching and Teaching) I am educated, well read and intelligent--and I have thousands of commentaries on Scripture (the internet) at my fingertips, and thousands more on my computer (Libronix) and many friends and family members who diligently study Scripture. It is pretty regular that I do not understand something I read in Scripture, and all these resources fail me-- and if I were a wiser student, I'd be asking my pastor more questions... when I do ask him questions I am never disappointed. More important is continual doctrinal education that I receive from the corporate Preaching of the Word during Divine Worship.
Someone with more insight than I can say better what I'm driving at. The philosophy of the NIV 2011--to make the Bible 100% clear and acceptable to all people-- is incongruent with the spiritual hierarchy outlined in Scripture. Why on earth would any layman want a translation that rendered void his pastor's training and experience? Why would a pastor want a translation that gives his parishioners the impression that the Bible is a simple book? Simple, it ain't. I mean, to follow the CBT philosophy to its ultimate end makes me think we should get robot preachers that automatically follow the lectionary and spit out perfectly balanced Law/Gospel sermons every week. They don't need to be living humans if the Bible can be altered to be completely understandable to every person. (And think about the other benefits! We could make our ipastors look like anyone we wanted. We could make them have suave voices and nice hair...)

Anonymous said...


...Meanwhile, back at the batcave, we have seminary faculty yammering about making sure the Bible Translation is "acceptable". Is it any wonder why the WELS has systemic doctrinal problems when certain members of the seminary faculty are "rotters"? The Intrepids ought to look to seminary and start taking names. (I'm not saying there is a devious plot in the WELS, I'm just noting that the defense of the NIV 2011 is indicative of gaping blind spots in the ability of certain people to exercise Christian discernment.--Christian discernment sorely needed in the training of new pastors.)

It makes me think of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:39 "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Does anyone think I'm unfairly extrapolating by suggesting that what Christ is talking about here may apply to popularity? If it is our goal to save our own hides, or save our popularity, or maintain our 'acceptableness', or retain our reputation we, de facto, lose what our purpose ought to be--namely believing and preaching the Truth. And by losing the correct goal we endanger our souls. I think this concept applies to the life of a Synod or a church too. If a church places a priority on its own survival or its growth it will be to the detriment of the faithful preaching of the Word and offering the sacraments--the church, though it grow in size, will die. And it is more noble that a church fizzle out and disappear, while remaining true to the Means of Grace, than to sacrifice doctrine or practice for survival.

The WELS will lose its life if it continues to seek to find it. Another verse from Matthew mirrors this idea: Mt 6:19-34 Jesus very directly tells us where our motivations need to be. You can't serve two masters. But if you seek first the Kingdom these other things (material things) will be added. Doesn't this apply to a church, a synod, and our motivations in picking a Translation of the Bible? (This negates any reasons supporting the NIV based on NW publishing house's needs)

When I listened to the podcasts of the TEC defending the NIV 2011 I didn't hear any "seeking the kingdom first". I heard Reason being employed to defend other men's Reason.

Somebody please reiterate what I've just said--but say it in a better way. The spirit behind the CBT, and their goal with the NIV is not congruent with the picture Christ paints of those who carry his standard on Earth. Let's hope we can convince men like Kurtzahn and men of the TEC that the spirit of the CBT is unwise and false.

Andy Groenwald

Anonymous said...


Just a comment: I think that we do ourselves a disservice assuming that the TEC has an agenda, or claim that they cannot exercise Christian discernment properly. I have high regard for Prof. Nass. I do not believe him to be a man that lacks Christian discernment or who has an agenda. I have regard for all the men of the TEC, but I disagree with them.

I am disappointed with the reasons the TEC gives for adopting the new NIV, but I am even more disappointed when some question their heart and ability to discern. How does that help anything? Better is to keep on pointing out where we disagree and why.

Let me give an brief example by addressing Nass’ article:

I disagree that capitalizing pronouns for God in the OT is bad, even if it is inconsistent. Even though I believe capitalizing every prophetic pronoun consistently is impossible, I also believe that some capitalization is still a good thing. My conversations with some laity have also led me to that conclusion. I have been told that if nothing is capitalized, it is easy gloss over a prophecy not realizing it is messianic. Capitalization gives them a reason to pause and think about what they just read.

I disagree with the assumption that capitalizing pronouns, the way Beck does, automatically predisposes someone to think that prophecy is only rectilinear instead of typical.

I disagree that the footnote for Isaiah 7:14 is remotely acceptable. I don’t care how the Jews interpreted this passage, all that matters to me is how the NT translates and applies this passage. There also is 1800+ years of the Christian Church translating “Almah” as “virgin” with absolutely no thought of “young woman.”

I disagree with that the translation of Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 is acceptable in the new NIV. It forces a typical interpretation of the prophecy. It deemphasizes the Christological emphasis on the prophecy.

I disagree with the translation of Proverbs 8:23, because this translation forces an interpretation of who or what Wisdom is that the Hebrew doesn’t force. The interpretation of Wisdom in this passage is an open question and should remain and open question. I tend to see Wisdom as Christ in this passage, and I am not alone in my interpretation. The new NIV shuts the door on such an interpretation.

I have high regard for Prof. Nass. I consider him a brother in the LORD. I thank God for all the Hebrew I learned from Him. I know him to be an honest Christian man who has a wonderful love for God’s Word and God’s people. But I disagree with him.

The more we keep the conversation on these passages and why they bother us, the better. As soon as we shift the conversation to determining what was in the heart of the CBT or TEC, we start encroaching into God’s territory. God neither wants nor expects us to judge hearts. That is His job, and His alone! He wants us to examine and judge a person’s confession (both doctrine and praxis). We need to be careful that in judging a person’s confession, we don’t make improper assumptions about a person’s heart.

Brothers, if you are truly concerned about the NIV, focus all your attention and arguments on the text of the NIV – or on the text of other translations that translate better. This is the best way to convince others that the NIV is unacceptable. Who cares what Moo and the CBT’s intention was? Who cares if the TEC brings up the fact that they are convinced the CBT has no agenda? None of that really matters. All that matters is the text before us and there is enough there to discuss in brotherly love. There is enough there to convince me not to recommend the NIV to my members.

In Christian love,
Pastor Michael Sullivan

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pr. Sullivan,

Thank you for saying that. I agree completely with your observations and encouragements, except the one about capitalization.

Here is one area in which I agree (I think) with the TEC. I would rather see NONE of the pronouns capitalized in Scripture, for one reason alone: It is imposing an interpretation over the inspired text. Whether or not it would be helpful to the reader is irrelevant. If we're talking Bible commentary, then fine. If we're talking Bible translation, then no, our job is not to help the reader identify prophecy. Our job is to simply render the words. Yes, that means more work on the part of the reader, but the task of the translator is simpler, in a way, than the task of a commentator. Let the commentators commentate. Let the translators translate. That's my "philosophy" of translation.

Anonymous said...

Andy, just for the record, I was kidding about being too hard on the new NIV. Didn't you read the article I linked to immediately after making that comment?

Just one last comment on that article: If a 27 year-old preschool teacher understands that changing pronouns is about changing society, why can't our own seminary professors understand that?

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Adam---sorry I missed your humor. The purpose of what I wrote wasn't directed at you though. I will read the article.

Pastor Sullivan, my analysis was to show specifically why we must exercise Christian discernment about those in our fellowship who support the NIV 2011. My argument is specifically that those who support the NIV must have their wisdom questioned because of the errors you so aptly draw attention too, but which they claim aren't a big deal. To write off my reasons for suggesting this as "a disservice" is begging the question. What about my analysis is false? What about my assertions cross the line?

I know none of the TEC personally and I make my opinion based on the Scripture passages I quoted and what their corporate action suggests. I don't suggest that anyone of the TEC is "bad Christian" or not a Christian. I'm sure they're all bang-up guys. But that doesn't mean we should close our eyes to very serious problems being ignored or defended or minimized by the TEC.

I would plead to you to: If you disagree with the TEC about the things you mentioned, PLEASE, take a more serious view of this. If you think you are right, please have the courage to say that those who disagree with you are wrong. Christian wisdom guiding us, each of can be certain of letting our yes be yes and our no be no.


Anonymous said...

Dear Andy,

I am concerned about this assertion: "Is it any wonder why the WELS has systemic doctrinal problems when certain members of the seminary faculty are "rotters"?"

First of all, I do not believe that WELS has "systemic" doctrinal problems. Are their doctrinal problems among certain members of the clergy? I wish I could say no, but I know of examples where certain members of the clergy are "confused" - to put the best construction on it - on certain articles of faith. But, I know of NO "systemic" problem with false doctrine – false doctrine that has corrupted the whole system!

Calling certain faculty members “rotters” is a personal attack. And when arguments get personal, Christian love gets lost and it is nearly impossible to carry on a dialog in which a person might rebuke, correct and encourage using law and Gospel objectively.

Again, understand me correctly: it is very important to keep each other accountable, to be our brothers, keeper, to warn, rebuke, correct and encourage. But it is also vitally important that his be done in love – to edify, not to tear down.

There is a difference between calling someone’s arguments and reasoning foolish and calling someone a fool.

Martin Luther was no fool, but he did say some foolish things – especially in regard to Jews. Now, is Martin Luther a fool, someone who lacks discernment in all things, because he spoke foolishly regarding the Jews? Absolutely not!

Regarding the TEC: nothing indicates to me that they are blind and lack Christian discernment. Some of their arguments concern me and I certainly disagree with their assessment. I can judge their arguments and rationale all I want, but it would be wrong for me to judge “them” at the present. Instead of accusing them of having gapping blind spots in regard to Christian discernment, it is better to point out exactly where we disagree with them and why.

Why do I believe that questioning their motives and discernment does us a “disservice?” Because of an article that was published that lamented that most of the discussion concerning the new NIV is nothing but questioning motives and personalities.

Because of this accusation, the best way to win the debate is to stay focused on the heart and core issues: what does the NIV say? Does it lend itself to misinterpretation? Does it faithfully translate the whole council of God accurately? As we focus completely on the text, we will not be open to the charge that our concerns revolve around personalities and hidden agendas, rather our true concerns will be made clear and duly noted. This is how you win their hearts and support of God’s people, because it will not be you winning their support, it will be the Gospel itself. Their love for the Gospel and their Shepherd’s voice will lead them to make a God-pleasing decision.

But if we lose sight of the issues and start questioning the discernment of the TEC. . . Let me tell you, there is no faster way to alienate people who are genuinely concerned and get the new NIV adopted. Christian love dictates that we take the words and actions of fellow Christian in the kindest possible way. If we do not do this with the members of the TEC, our brothers and sisters will be tempted to judge our motives and our hearts: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mat 7:2)

In Christian love,
Pastor Michael Sullivan

Anonymous said...

Pastor Sullivan, Please refer to Doug Lindee's most recent post about the importance of translation ideology. It is excellent.

Maybe I have higher expectation than some, but I expect that an understanding of how progressive (post-modern) ideology attacks language and attacks Christianity, and injects subjectivity by making meaning dependent on experience--understanding all this is a prerequisite for mature Christian discernment in the 21st century. A man without a firm grip on the language-based assault on Christianity has no business translating (into English, at least) and, depending on the subject, no business teaching theology.

I do not see how, without this knowledge, a man responsible for recommending a new Bible Translation can make an informed or wise choice. If you tell me that philosophical inquiry into the CBT's premises or motivation is distracting or unimportant, as it seems you are doing, then I must insist you too are revealing a blindspot. If that is so, please let me convince you: It is important. Premises always affect conclusions!

And certainly, I recognize this lack of concern about the Post Modern approach to language coming from the TEC... Lack of concern can mean a couple things: Outright acceptance of Post-modern linguistic subjectivity or denial of the problem. I don't presume know which applies, but both are rotten. It's not even an accusation. It's a recognition of a fact, and placing a value judgement (rotten) on that fact.

And about your criticism what you call "personal attacks"? I am truly sorry if my words are offensive to you, but you needn't be. When we talk about public figures acting publicly it is completely within the bounds of Christian prudence to speak decisively and definitively, speaking the plain truth. I'm not dealing with the TEC or the seminary faculty as individuals, I am making assertions based on Scriptural truths and logic derived from Scriptural principles about public statements and public action. I'm not wrong to call public spades, spades--it's not like I'm going around saying "I saw professor so-and-so smoking pot behind the library." This was stuff broadcast on the internet.

Andy Groenwald

p.s. Systemic problems: you say there are none. So, is it random chance, like chimpanzees typing out Hamlet, that all across the WELS the same brand of Enthusiasm is springing forth in churches here and there? Is it mere happenstance that this Enthusiasm spontaneously produced a subsurface organization like Church and Change? Which in turn spontaneously produced more enthusiasm? That's steep odds sir, and a betting man would put money on a systemic infection, rather than a series of identical local infections.

Anonymous said...

Dear Andy,

I had a much longer response that I accidently lost when I tried to post it. I really need to get back to my text study, so I guess I will just leave you with this english proverb that sums up how I believe we should approach our disagreement with the TEC over the NIV:

"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

In Christian love,
Pastor Michael Sullivan

Anonymous said...

Hey Sully, congrats on quitting the dreadful habit. Regarding tobacco: I wish I were a pietist so that I could fuel the effort to quit with something beyond this mortal coil. But alas, I'm Lutheran.

Seriously though, I have to agree with Andy G. about making critical statements, or "gettin" personal.

In the WELS there's only like 2 degrees of separation between one person and every other WELS member, so it imbues critical speech (the proper result of critical thinking) with quite a lot of blowback...but we still have to say "x y or z is wrong, if we think it wrong. We shouldn't let the diminutive nature of the Wisconsin Synod keep us from make good judgements. Not that you suggested that, but sometimes vinegar is necessary.

In the case of Translation Commitee's approval of the NIV 2011? I do think they made a bad call. I got a real icky vibe from what the CBT said about their own motivations and I think Andy sorta hit the nail on the head with his reference to not worrying about the words we use and the risk of working to be popular. I do think the TEC dropped the ball when it comes to determining the Theological roots (and the mindset, therefore) of the CBT. I don't think it was a wise decision at all, and I don't think their reasons for approving it hold water. So now where do we go from here? What are we supposed to think if one ear from now the same men are pushing the same conclusion? I think that, if that were the case, church discipline would need to happen. What do you think? I don't want that to happen, but it's reasonable to ask, right?

David Kreuter

Anonymous said...

Pastor Sullivan is being too kind. Andy, you are sinning. Your commends throughout this thread display an arrogance. You did indeed imply of a rot at the Seminary, but have no basis of proof. You do what many on the blogosphere like to do - you use the "it's public" excuse to talk badly about people rather than talk to them.

You say you want to be enlightened. You berated Pastor Kurtzahn for not offering more verse-by-verse commentary. Well, the TEC does that. If you think they have bad judgment, instead of talking about them, why not talk to them. I wish you would just shut up until you do. Take your concerns directly to them. Talking about them on this blog is just immature, pointless, and YES... an 8th commandment issue.

In the past two days, I have read two things written by Pastor Cherney and Pastor Nass. One is about Bible translation, the other an evaluation of the ESV. You cannot read those articles and conclude anything but the fact that those men love their Lord dearly, cherish his Word, have a desire to avoid any slide into liberalism, and seem to have SUBSTANTIALLY more linguistic stills than your average pastor. (Although, that is speculation. But I've heard that from a wide variety of people too.) So if you have issue with them, you should talk TO THEM, not about them. If your conscience burdens you so, then talk about it publicly too. But anyone who criticizes the TEC without actually talking to them, to me, just looks like someone who is self-aggrandizing, and not REALLY serious about defending the integrity of God's Word.

Repent of your pride.

Daniel Kastens

PS - Intelligence is not displayed by using large words which one must look up in a dictionary. It's by making a cohesive argument. You can do the former. You have yet to do the latter.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

There's no reason to take shots at anyone - whether on the TEC or here in the comments. Anyone is free to talk to the men on the TEC, or not talk to them. But no one needs to talk to them in order to discuss their conclusions or to criticize their reasoning.

Daniel, you do realize, don't you, that you're doing the very thing you accuse Andy of? Telling him to shut up and making fun of him for using big words? There's plenty of arrogance here to go around. Let's stop this nonsense and get back to the issues rather than the people behind the issues.

Anonymous said...

But how can you expect to understand what the TEC's philosophy is unless you converse with them? It seems like a blog is the worst possible way to hold this discussion.

I don't understand how I'm doing the same thing. I'm accusing him of talking badly about people whose position he probably doesn't completely understand. Why not just have a quick phone call to one of the TEC? I'm guessing they'd be happy to take it and talk these things over. Instead, it's implied that they are men who must not take the Word of God very seriously, if they would adopt such a horrible translation. Andy throws out statements about the Seminary having rottenness among it, without giving any explanation. How are people supposed to take that? It seems this blog isn't helping much.

The unwillingness to call and speak to any members of the TEC smacks of cowardice, in my opinion. Unless you speak to one of them, I will from now on totally disregard your opinion. You are free to disregard mine.


Anonymous said...

I sincerely apologize, Pastor Rydecki, if I came across as arrogant. I've been trying to make good arguments and I hope in doing so, by suggesting that there is a systemic problem in the WELS, I haven't crossed any lines of Christian behavior. I think I've explained myself sufficiently and in a Christian manner, and I hope you haven't found any issue with what I've written.

I guess I'm in awe that people would seek to limit my ability to speak and condemn my choice of words, when my conversational opponents are the ones defending a translation philosophy that makes as free with 2000 year old texts as a brigand would make with an inebriated trollop.

Defense of interpretive biblical translation by attempting to limit the free-speech of dissenters? Pastor Rydecki I sincerely am not writing this with a cocky spirit, but I must point out the irony!! Freedom to change gender-specific words, but not freedom to say the word 'rot'?

I protest with a sincerely clean conscience in everything I've written, but I lack the ability to write anything else when such irony smacks me in the face. How can a man argue with that?

Keep up the good work Intrepids, and be dissuaded not.


Anonymous said...


Let me be the one to apologize. I was so angry and frustrated last night, that I lashed out. In the light of day, I see that I was being immature myself. Also, if I would put the best construction on things, I would assume your passion flows from concern for the Word, not from a desire to be self-aggrandizing. So you have my sincere apology. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, let me know. I would love to buy you a beer and discuss these things face-to-face. For now, let me try one more time, rationally (I pray!) to explain my source of frustration.

This seems to be a very complicated issue. You have theological principles involved - that we remain true to the Word. You also have non-theological issues, namely varying philosophies of how a translation should be formulated. This non-theological issues are largely subjective. Not entirely, but largely.

Because this is complicated, it's going to take some give-and-take discussion to get to the bottom of things. When this discussion is held in the blogosphere, it is one sided. Then things get said which aren't helpful. I never said you couldn't use the word "rot." I said that to say there is rot at the Seminary, without giving any examples or allowing those "rotten" faculty members (I assume you mean some, not all) to respond, is plainly wrong.

I mentioned that the "public sin - public rebuke" thing is overplayed. I hold to that. It is done often on this blog, in my opinion. I agree, that public error must be rebuked publicaly. But I don't think that principle then precludes speaking to the errorist privately too, to make sure you understand exactly what they're saying/writing.

I'll say it again. I don't know the members of the TEC. But from what I've read of them, they seem to have an amazing passion for God's Word. They also seem to have expertise in Biblical translation / linguistics that surpasses most others. Look at Prof. Nass's summary of the ESV. It is STUNNING how carefully he poured over every verse of the Bible.) So, you have to give a lot of weight to what they say. Moreover, if you disagreed with them, I can think of absolutely no logical reason why you would not call them and talk about it!!!! They WANT that, from what I've been told. So why wouldn't you? It might be that after some serious discussion, you STILL disagree with their philosophy of how to translate. So be it. But at least you could say you actually tried to do good by speaking to them, helping them to see your point.

But WHAT GOOD are you doing by complaining about their work on a blog? Nothing! All you are doing is besmirching the name of good men, making it seem like they're fools who are unaware that the WELS is slipping into some feminist scheme. These men are not fools!

The TEC even met with the head of the group that was in charge of the NNIV translation. They pressed him to see if there was a feminist agenda. After a long discussion, they came to the conclusion that wasn't the case at all. You doubt their judgment? Then CALL THEM and ask for more insight and explanation.

Again, I NEVER said that you shouldn't discuss your views publicly. You should. This is important. But I cannot, for the life of me, see why you would exclude the men you are discussing from the conversation! And if you say, "Let them read this blog and respond here." Nonsense. Your concern is with them. The burden is on YOU. Moreover, written communication has merits... but also deficiencies. That on the spot give-and-take is important to getting to the bottom of big issues like this. It's also important in determining attitude, which is vital when trying to have a sanctified conversation.

I apologize again for MY attitude getting testy last night.

Daniel K

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

I am thankful to see everybody calming down a little bit and offering apologies and clarifications. To Prof. P. Wendland's credit, he admitted at the convention microphone that some of his own comments were more emotions-driven than reason-based. I hope we can all remain civil toward one another on the blog, too. That doens't mean anyone has to lose his passion for the Word and for the Truth, or that we shouldn't point out erroneous logic. Someone quoted from Ephesians 6:12 on another post in order to point out a perceived deficiency in the ESV (which wasn't really a deficiency at all). However, I think we need to keep that verse in mind for another reason. It is not against this or that pastor or professor or person that we must fight, but against the Evil One who sneaks his errors into our ranks - usually very unconsciously and unintentionally on our part, but very intentionally on his part. It is that "spirit" against which we must fight. Andy, that's what I understood you to be doing. Of course, that "spirit" can also sneak into our ranks in our manner of addressing one another. Let's all be vigilant against its many manifestations, for, as Paul says, "We are not unaware of his schemes."

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