Monday, January 14, 2013

Memorials to the 2013 WELS Synod Convention Regarding the NIV 2011

Dear Readers,

I hope you have all read the most recent post here on Intrepid Lutherans having to do with the 2011 edition of the New International Version, also known as "New" NIV/NNIV, or NIV '11/NIV 2011. If not, you need to do so and give it serious consideration. Also, in this connection, you might want to re-read the post from about a year ago announcing the findings of the Doctrine Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, our sister synod. In both cases, the confessional Lutheran theologians of these church bodies charged with evaluating matters of doctrine, have come to the conclusion that the aforementioned version of the Bible is not a fully accurate and reliable one. [I prefer not to use the term "translation," for the NNIV, as in my opinion the NNIV is more of a paraphrase than an actual translation, but that's just my opinion.]

As you no doubt may know, the group of WELS men forming the synod's Translation Evaluation Committee have come to a different conclusion, and made that conclusion quite clear at the 2011 WELS convention. Before going any further, let me say for the record that as much as I may disagree with these men, I do not believe them to be bad men with any nefarious intent, or false teachers purposely out to lead our synod astray. In my opinion they seem to have a different point of view and way of looking at this translation issue; namely, that "readability" is more important that "reliability" when it comes to choosing a version of the Bible to use in our synod's publications. In addition, I believe they are sincerely but unnecessarily concerned about issues such as accessibility and inclusiveness, and eliminating what some may perceive as gender or cultural bias in various versions of the Bible. Here, I must admit that I am not very concerned about these matters, as I believe the Holy Spirit can easily overcome any such issues. In short, I do not believe the men on the TEC have a wrong spirit, but are merely wrong-headed. That's my opinion, and I am only speaking for myself on this, not Intrepid Lutherans or anyone else.

That having been said, I believe it is time - indeed way past time - for the rank-in-file Pastors and congregations of the WELS, and also her other leaders, to all investigate this issue thoroughly for themselves and come to some kind of conclusion. The TEC has done its work and given us their opinion. That should not end the study - only begin it! We have now had three groups of very qualified confessional Lutheran theologians in three different confessional Lutheran church bodies look carefully at this matter and give us their findings, and they are quite different. Now it is time for the rest of us to do this work.

Over the next few days Intrepid Lutherans will post a number of Memorials (resolutions, for those not familiar with synod convention parlance), that have been or will be sent to the WELS 2013 convention. Please read them over carefully. If you agree with one or more of them, I urge you to make the same effort. Take these ideas and formulate your own Memorial in your own words and submit it to the office the synod President.

Important note: The synod's Conference of Presidents has decided that Memorials may, as before, be submitted by single individuals, congregations, Circuits, Conferences, and/or Districts, but that, from now on, there may be no more than three signers on Memorials from individuals. Thus, you may not simply add your name to a memorial, even if you agree with it completely. There will be no more Memorials with many dozens of signers. Those coming from congregations, Circuits, Pastoral Conferences, and Districts will be seen as coming from a single entity.

Unfortunately, tomorrow, January 15th, is the deadline for Memorials to appear in the Book of Reports and Memorials (known as the BoRaM). However, Memorials may still be submitted through the month of June. While they will not be printed in the BoRaM, they will be considered by the synod Presidium for inclusion in the convention workbook.

Below is a Memorial that has already been submitted by my Circuit here in Arizona. Others will appear in the following days on this blog. Some may be quite a bit longer and more intense and detailed than the one below. Others may be shorter and emphasize different points. Once again, if you feel strongly on this issue, I urge you to submit a Memorial of your own or with a couple of other people, or encourage your congregation, Circuit, Conference, or District to do so.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Deo Vindice!

Pastor Spencer

Memorial to the Convention of the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod

Subject: NIV 2011

Concerning the NIV 2011's use of gender neutral language


1.) Our sister synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, through its Doctrine Committee, has strongly recommended against the use of the NIV 2011 by its congregations and members, with one of the main reasons being this translation's way of using gender neutral language, and whereas

2.) The Committee on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has also strongly discouraged the use of the NIV 2011 in that church body for the same reason, and whereas

3.) There has been very little independent discussion and analysis of this usage conducted at the grassroots level within local circuits and congregations of the WELS,

 Be it resolved that,

A.) We respect the serious concerns other confessional Lutherans have expressed over the NIV's use of gender neutral language, and be it further resolved, that

 B.) We thoroughly explore, discuss, and evaluate those concerns before we decide whether or not to recommend the NIV 2011 to our church body and mandate its use in our synodical publications, and be it further resolved, that

C.) The Synod Presidium prepare and disseminate a study document presenting their understanding of the NIV 2011's use of gender neutral language, also including in this study the faithfully reproduced objections of fellow confessional Lutherans regarding this use, so that pastors and congregations can objectively discuss and evaluate both positions on this subject of neutral gender language; and be it finally resolved, that

D.) The Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod at its 2013 biennial convention not recommend the NIV 2011 for use in its official synodical publications for the time being, and postpone the decision about which translation of the Bible to use for this purpose until such discussion and evaluation takes place.

Respectfully submitted,

The Chiricahua Circuit of the AZ-CA District

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that the new policy of limiting signatories on convention memorials is wise, even if the lists do get unwieldy. The suppression of useful information (in this case, from whence an idea or set of ideas derives) in any kind of a legislative process is inherently undemocratic. Those "in the know" insiders in the WELS will still have some idea of who supports which memorials (or who contributed, if more than three did)--the new practice merely makes that knowledge more vague for the insiders, and nearly inaccessible for the lay delegates.

I hope that the policy is revised before the next convention.

To that end, is anyone interested in getting together (or simply joining me on) a memorial supporting a revision of the policy?

Mr. Joseph Jewell

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