In August of 2012 – coincidentally, shortly following the last of the WELS 2012 District Conventions – the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) issued a similar, though more lengthy, statement expressing their opinion on the strength of the NIV 2011 as a suitable translation for use in the congregation, specifically with reference to its rendering of the Biblical texts in gender inclusive language. The statement was issued at the request of LCMS Synod President Rev. Matt Harrison. The name of this document is CTCR Staff Opinion on Inclusive Language in the New International Version (2011). They conclude on page four:
- ...[W]e find the NIV's Committee on Bible Translation [CBT] decision to substitute plural nouns and pronouns for masculine singular nouns and pronouns to be a serious theological weakness and a misguided attempt to make the truth of God's Word more easily understood. The use of inclusive language in NIV 2011 creates the potential for minimizing the particularity of biblical revelation and, more seriously, at times undermines the saving revelation of Christ as the promised Savior of humankind. Pastors and congregations of the LCMS should be aware of this serious weakness. In our judgment this makes it inappropriate for NIV 2011 to be used as a lectionary Bible or as a Bible to be generally recommended to the laity of our church. This is not a judgment on the entirety of NIV 2011 as a translation – a task that would require a much more extensive study of NIV 2011 – but an opinion as to a specific editorial decision which has serious theological implications.
(NOTE: in all quotes from this Statement, emphasis is mine)
- [t]he concern that led to [BRIL] had to do with the removal of gender specific language from translations of the Holy Scriptures... and the substitution of gender inclusive language that is not present in the original languages and texts of Scripture. In this regard [BRIL] takes a clear position grounded in the understanding of revelation itself that is held by us as Lutheran Christians:
This raises a different set of difficulties, for the Scriptures are not merely the rendering of a culturally based understanding of God. They are to be regarded as revelation whose author is finally God himself. Moreover, not only the concepts of Scripture but the very words of Scripture have been given to the biblical authors to write (1 Cor. 2:9-13; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; Jer. 30:2). While the church will certainly wish to accommodate modern sensibilities and translate anew where the language of the Scriptures allows, the church is not free to alter the language of revelation.
- It is in the Word made flesh (John 1:14) that God has fulfilled “his purpose for humankind's eternal destiny.” This purpose, in one particular Person born of Mary at a particular time and place, is revealed in the particularity of Holy Scripture and most specifically “in the written testimony of the evangelical and apostolic writings of the New Testament.” The specificity and particularity of the Word made flesh and the sacred Scriptures compel the church to “resist demands to change the words of Scripture or to replace them with words derived from common human experience, cultural predilections, or the ideas of philosophers and lawgivers.”
Biblical Revelation and Inclusive Language considers two aspects of the debate about masculine language in the Scriptures: the language that is used to refer to God and the language that is used to refer to humanity (both Christians and humanity in general). With regard to biblical language about God, the CTCR concludes: “If one wishes to translate accurately the words of the Scriptures, the language of both the Old Testament and the New Testament is clear enough concerning the terminology about God. God and his Spirit are consistently referred to in masculine terminology.” With regard to language about people, BRIL asserts that whenever the Scriptures speak about people, the texts should be translated in a way that is consistent with “the language which the biblical authors in fact use.”
- CTCR Staff Opinion on Inclusive Language in the New International Version (2011)
Biblical Revelation and Inclusive Language (BRIL)