From there, I talked a little about the terms Dynamic Equivalence and Formal Equivalence, which readers of Intrepid Lutherans should be familiar with – we wrote a little about these terms in our post The NIV 2011 and the Importance of Translation Ideology, and they come up frequently in discussion concerning the evaluation of modern Bible translations. After that, I spoke a bit about the difference between Complementarianism and Egalitarianism, the militant feminist influence which faces us in Egalitarian teaching, the postmodern devices of language employed by feminism to “cleanse” the English language of masculine forms (read about this, and the recent challenges WELS has faced from Egalitarians, in our recent post on Postmodernism and pop-culture), and the clear connection between emasculation of the Bible in the NIV 2011 and the objectives of Egalitarianism and militant feminism, including confused teaching regarding the roles of men and women, especially in Acts 1 and 1 Cor 14 (for more on this, see NIV 2011: A brotherly debate). I concluded “my little talk” with a dramatic reading of a conversation which covers many of these issues.
Being the first time through these presentation materials in front of a group, it went a little rough. Add to this the fact that I was actively redacting and adding material on the fly, to adjust for my audience. But it went well-enough that nearly an equal amount of time was spent in Q&A following, discussing the material in my presentation, and other various issues related to the decisions we will be facing, the time for which is swiftly bearing down on our Synod. This presentation, and the conversation with followed, was good timing for these men; and the materials I left them with, Rev. Brian Keller's (WELS) excellent essay, Evaluating Bible Translations: Alle Schrift von Gott eingegeben, and Rev. Robert Koester's (WELS) important open letter Thoughts on Gender-Neutral Language in the NIV 2011, will go a long way toward informing their thinking. The fact is, there are many deep issues for the laity to investigate and consider. It would be a pity if they were presented with substantive information to consider only a couple months before District Conventions.
Being “Objective” in matters of consequence
But did I provide them an “objective” presentation? The answer is emphatically, “No, I did not.” I was nice, of course, and non-polemical – I even told a joke or two. I simply provided a positive case for my position. So the next question to ask is “Did my audience know that I was biased, and that my presentation was ‘non-objective’ from a political standpoint?” The answer is emphatically, “Yes, they did.” How do I know? Because I told them so. Here are my words from introductory remarks I prepared and delivered:
- How do you do, gentlemen? My name is Doug Lindee. I’ve been invited here tonight to talk a little bit about Bible Translations. None of you really has any good reason to know who I am, so you may be wondering, “Why was this guy asked to speak here, on this topic?” I am not a pastor. I am a layman. I have no education that would be officially recognized by Synod as qualification for Ministry of any sort among us, nor am I, having no Call from a Congregation, a “Minister of the Word” in any sense. I am a simple layman, and any “ministry” I engage in occurs within the context of Vocation, not in any “special” capacity within the Church. But I have a College Education. Thirteen years of full time, classroom education, 10.5 years straight, including Summers (except two), plus 2.5 years straight beginning about five years later. In this time, I studied Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Computer Science, Education and Philosophy, and Business and Organizational Leadership. In other words, I know how to learn, and using the tools of learning which I obtained through years and years of practice, I have independently pursued study in matters of the greatest consequence: those of my own faith and confession. It was this study which brought me, along with my wife who studied with me, through the Scriptures, to the conclusions of the Lutheran Confession, and which propels us into further study and advocacy of Scripture’s teachings. As a result, I have gained somewhat of a reputation (a good reputation according to some, a not-so-good reputation according to others) for taking and defending positions – more recently, positions related to the ideology of Bible Translation. So, when it was mentioned to an acquaintance of mine that someone was looking, and found it difficult to find, a person who could speak on the issue of translations which is currently facing our Synod, and inquired whether he knew of someone who might be able to discuss this issue with laity, when my name was mentioned as a knowledgeable layman, this person was aware of who I was and what I have written on the subject. Apparently, that was qualification enough to appear here before you tonight...
Finally, I need to be honest with you and say, I am not objective regarding the issues I will be discussing. I have already drawn conclusions that I am convinced are correct and worth defending. That isn’t to say my mind can’t be changed, but anyone who attempts to do so will have their work cut out for them, as I have been considering and researching these issues for over fifteen years, and my position didn’t just develop overnight. This is important for you to know. For this reason, I am going to stay as far away as I can from characterizing the perspectives of those holding a position opposite to mine. Why? Simply because I know that I will not be able to do so to their satisfaction – I am biased after all. And this should really be the approach taken by anyone discussing these issues who is known to have taken a position regarding them. How disingenuous it would be for me, or for anyone, to claim objectivity in this matter when it is known that I have taken a firm position. You would have every reason to be suspicious of me! I mentioned that I have 13 years of college experience – and this is an absolute fact that I have learned at the feet of countless college professors during that time. The absolute best professors were those with a definite position, who advocated that position in their lectures. I may have disagreed with them from start to finish, but their impassioned defense provided me the opportunity to develop a more refined rebuttal of my own, and more firmly establish my own position. At other times, though I may at first have disagreed with them, I found their impassioned defense to be more valid than my own position, prompting me to change my mind. Yeah, that happens too, and there is nothing wrong with it.
On the other hand, the absolute worst professors were those who were “objective.” The only way to be truly objective in matters of consequence, without violating your own conscience, is if you actually don’t care. The worst professors were the “objective” professors. Why? Because they actually didn’t care about what they were talking about. In matters of consequence, this was most frustrating, because we had no idea whether we were receiving key information which would determine the issue, or if such information was being deliberately omitted to keep us students from developing a definite position of our own. But the real tricky professors were the ones who “pretended” to be objective. You see, one rule you can always count on is that college professors know far more than what they actually say in lecture. They choose to share certain information, and choose to withhold certain other information, time being the primary criterion, of course, but also usually according to an unspoken agenda. No, they are not actually objective, but when they nevertheless pass themselves off as objective, they are disingenuous. Sometimes, they are under genuine political pressure to publicly lend support to certain viewpoints which are at odds with their own convictions. Other times, perhaps they are required to "objectively" present issues on which they hold definite bias. The result in any case is that they do so in a way which minimizes damage to what they are convinced is true. The kids who pay attention usually have such professors figured out by the end of their Sophomore year, if not before. In either case, such professors, once they are figured out, are not considered reliable.
Anyway, my purpose here isn’t necessarily to change your mind or establish your position, nor is it to “demonize” those holding an opposing position, but is simply to give you information which supports my own position – a position held by quite a number among both laity and clergy in our Synod – knowing that you will be exposed to opposing information. And that’s as it should be. You need to hear information from opposing positions, from those who actually hold those positions, in order to draw your own conclusions. What is my position? I am convinced that adopting the NIV 2011, as our English Language standard of the Holy Scriptures, would be a major mistake; and further, that any alternative ought to favor a Formal Equivalence approach to the translation of the source texts into English.
For my part, I am convinced that, given the time, regular folks can digest these difficult issues, come to sound conclusions, and act accordingly. I am also convinced that, in the absence of other voices, I am willing, and find it necessary, to speak and write about them as my conscience dictates.