Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013 WELS Convention and the Endorsement of NIV 2011.

The following discussion was held on the Facebook Wall of Daniel Baker -- who was a delegate to this year's WELS Convention -- and is reproduced here with his permission. There are several points in this discussion worth consideration, and worth responding to -- sooner being better than later.
  1. Even though the 2011 Synod Convention called for the TEC to educate the laity so that they would be prepared for the task of choosing a translation, can anyone say there was much evidence that such had happened? Did the delegates display evidence suggesting they were prepared to thoughtfully deliberate the issues?
  2. What does it really mean to decide that "All translations are equally deficient, so we will use them all"...?
  3. What does it really mean when it is said that "All translations are equally God's Word, so it is a disparagement of God's Word to cast doubt on any of them"...?
  4. What does it really mean when it is said that "All translations are equally God's Word, isn't it wonderful that we have God's Word in so many forms"...?
  5. How crippling is the division in our Synod?
  6. Why is it that the "New Method Lutherans," in addition to harangue-ing everyone to become relevant by absorbing pop-culture into the church, also seem to be the one's pushing post-Modern linguistics?

  7. What do you think about endorsing a given translation (NKJV was suggested below), and mounting an education campaign targeted at the laity, with the specific purpose of warning about the dangers of "Dynamic Equivalence" and "Functional Equivalence" and identifying their roots in post-Modern philosophy, while building up the virtues of Formal and Optimal Equivalence?
  8. Knowing that the CoP and the entire faculties of MLC and WLS, along with what appears to be a majority of WELS Administrators, are on the side of the "New Method Lutherans," what would you think of such and effort knowing that it would come from outside those sources, and probably rely on scholarship from outside WELS?
Be assured, the "New Method Lutherans" see the endorsement of NIV 2011 alongside all other translation as a big opportunity to drive forward with the next big NIV release. They'll be better organized next time. And they are always better funded.

What other options or considerations may there be?

Daniel Baker at 2013 WELS Convention
Daniel Baker
Here's a summary of the WELS Convention's translation issue:
  1. We approved all translations of Holy Scripture for use in our publications (the "eclectic approach").
  2. We gave NPH sole discretion to decide what translations to use.
  3. An overwhelming majority (over 3/4ths) voted against a Confessional Lutheran translation.
Some general observations:
  • Opposition to a "Confessional Lutheran Translation" seemed to be overwhelming. There were even a number of speakers and a proposed amendment to strike "Confessional Lutheran" from the Resolution.
  • The outgoing editor of NPH was on the TFC, which supported and recommended NNIV.
  • NNIV is clearly on the list of NPH options, and prior to an amendment was the first on a short list of three options for their use.
  • Sem. Profs made it clear that the result of the "eclectic approach" would be settling on just one translation - by "herd" decision, as one pastor and televangelist delegate put it.
As such, it seems clear to me that we are far from out of the NNIV woods.
1Like ·  · 
  • Angela Gawel Al's not here to translate anymore. I think I get the gist but sometime I will have to have someone explain it:) just one question ... What would Alfred think of the outcome?
    5 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Daniel Baker He would probably have mixed feelings like the rest of us.
  • Paul Rydecki More like, you are deep in the heart of the NNIV forest.
    5 hours ago · Like · 5
  • Intrepid Lutherans Been thinking about this for several minutes after Committee 22 completed (and I posted this, below, too). Initially hopeful after last night's vote on Resolution 1 from Committee 21, the defeat of Resolution 1 from Committee 22 makes Resolution 1 of Committee 21 merely an acknowledgement of the fact that (a) all translations are equally deficient, and (b) we're really okay with that. No one could bring themselves to reject, say, the Watchtower as a translation to be avoided, the Douay-Rheims as a translation to be avoided, or even the "LOL-cat" translation of the Bible as a translation to be avoided. In the words of Seminary Presidents Wendland and Cherney, "They are all equally God's Word! Isn't it a wonderful thing that we have God's Word in so many forms?"

    It is apparent to me, however, that there are really two, and only two, reasons the WELS faculties opposed this -- and neither has anything to do with money or time. 

      (1) There is a stark division in WELS regarding linguistic philosophy, which impacts our fundamental understanding of the nature and function of language, and consequently, the nature of that which was Breathed by God, and thus also, the appropriate Christian principles for translating God's Word into English or any other language. This division is exposed now, yet we are led to believe that we can live with this division as if it does not impact our working together. Yet, a WELS translation effort will fail to progress beyond merely starting on this very point -- and that failure WILL EXPOSE HOW TRULY CRIPPLING THIS DIVISION IS.

      (2) Even though we most certainly do have the *technical skill* to translate the Bible, we simply do not have the *literary talent* to produce an excellent translation. Like it or not, the KJV is *still* the standard of literary excellence, and they know that the product of any translation effort we would undertake would be compared to the KJV, and failing to measure up, would simply land somewhere in the plethora of *equally flat and deficient* translations we already have to choose from, none of which really distinguish themselves. A general rejection of our translation as an excellent one, on such grounds, would likely represent a general indictment of our school system, which is so highly respected.

    That's my take on this. -DL
    Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly. This is the lolcat Bible Translat...See More

    5 hours ago · Like · 4
  • Timothy H. Buelow Still trying to find a positive take, I do believe that we were earlier in this position: Prove to us why we shouldn't just keep using NIV (even if it's a different animal) and now we are in this position: Prove to me which Bible we should primarily use. And NNIV supporters are now under the burden of proof they didn't have before.
    5 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Paul Rydecki Tim, what difference is there between the two positions in practice? Who has to prove anything anymore to anyone?
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Intrepid Lutherans Yeah, that's the other side of this. Minds still need changing. The outcome of this Convention certainly means that the issues of translation will continue to be debated. I suppose that's a good thing, for the many who yet need to be taught, and for others who need (and are willing) to have their minds changed. I, for one, am growing weary... -DL
    4 hours ago · Like · 3
  • Daniel Baker As am I. The number of "nice speech, but I think Luther believed in a balance of dynamic and formal equivalence" comments I got was mind-boggling.
    4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Paul Rydecki Rather than further debate, I think these decisions turn translation into a non-issue ad infinitum.
    4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Timothy H. Buelow Repeatedly, people said this was a 5-7 year solution. So during the next 5-7 years, the debate and sorting will continue. That gives people like me, for example, the chance to promote NKJV, which wasn't even on the table before. It also gives people time to rethink opposition to ESV, because it gives pastors the implicit approval to maybe switch to ESV for Sunday readings, etc.
    4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Intrepid Lutherans When you come up with a plan to promote the NKJV, let me know. That's my choice, too. Maybe an organized effort of some sort is needed....-DL
    4 hours ago · Like · 4
  • Timothy H. Buelow Paul, as long as pastors have to wrestle with answering their confirmation parents question of which Bible to buy their kids, this will never be a forgotten non-issue.
  • Daniel Baker Someone said (I think it was you, Pr. Buelow) that Zondervan also purchased the NKJV? What would the feasibility of our own "contemporization" of the KJV be?
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Intrepid Lutherans Thomas Nelson, publisher of NKJV, was purchased by Murdock -- the same guy who owns Zondervan...
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Paul Rydecki The average pastor will answer that question, "Whatever Bible translation NPH chooses to use for our synod's catechism." I don't see it going any deeper than that for the majority of pastors.
    4 hours ago · Like · 4
  • Timothy H. Buelow There are partially updated versions of the KJV available as public domain for anyone who wants to use them as a base for further revision.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Timothy H. Buelow But NKJV is not being revised anymore. It's set.
  • Timothy H. Buelow I believe the synod is free to, and hopefully will, use more than one translation in the Catechism. That is in fact what the ELS catechism does.
    4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Steve Spencer Since ALL translations were approved for use, this means that the NNIV was approved - that's the bottom line. This makes WELS more "progressive" (i.e. liberal) than the ELS, LCMS, and Southern Baptists. Now, that is really going to help our outreach - right?! ;-} Thus, we decided - once again - not to decide; except to reject our President's suggestion. Can we say, "Lame Duck?!"
    4 hours ago · Like · 5
  • Timothy H. Buelow Well, Steve, we voted to say no to our seminary president. That's not a small thing.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Intrepid Lutherans And now with another bright side, here, perhaps. Leaving open the option, now, for NPH to use NKJV, means that they can also begin republishing older works that use(d) the KJV with minimal redevelopment cost... -DL
    4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Paul Rydecki The synod is now free to do what NPH wants. Does anyone doubt that a good percentage of catechism passages will be taken from the NNIV, thus essentially promoting it (even if others may also be represented)?
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Steve Spencer Good point, Tim. Still, if I were the ELS I'd be very nervous. At least they REJECTED the NNIV for use. And, what prevents Mequon from requiring the NNIV for use by the students? I'll give you odds that this is exactly what happens.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Intrepid Lutherans NPH has TWO potent sources which drive their editorial decisions. One is Synod. The other is the consumer (the laity,principally). Boycott efforts DO work... Without pressure from the consumer, however, no I don't doubt that they will use NNIV exclusively.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Paul Rydecki That's one thing that caused great confusion at this convention. "Loyalty to the synod," which is the chief deciding factor in, I dare say, most cases, became ambiguous, because synod president promotes Option 2, while seminary president promotes both options 1 and 2, but favors 1. Nonetheless, seminary president also endorsed Option 2, while being against doing a new translation. So, if you look at it, the convention actually supported the seminary president as well as they could by choosing Option 2 (which Schroeder also promoted), while rejecting Schroeder's appeal to do a new translation, thus supporting the seminary president.
    4 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1
  • Jerome T. Gernander The ELS has always left it up to congregations. The NKJV is used in the Hymnary, which for me gives it precedence. However, the ELS catechism committee very unwisely chose not to follow that, and uses PREDOMINANTLY the old NIV, a very bad choice, in my opinion; with some exceptions (e.g. Philippians 2:5-8). We use the black catechism but I have the kids look up the verses in their NKJV. Our school uses NKJV, and our church gives each 2nd grader an NKJV Bible. (I do like the ESV as well.) I would support print-on-demand catechisms with the translation that the congregation uses.
    4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Paul Rydecki To me, it appears that Wendland outmaneuvered Schroeder.
  • Intrepid Lutherans All of Wendland's allies seemed to be vocal at key times on the Convention floor, that's for sure. There were lot's of them there, too.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Daniel Baker Well as I just heard in the lunch line, it's not too late to form a relationship with Zondervan. Perhaps a future rendition of the NIV.
  • Timothy H. Buelow The rejection of NNIV as an exclusive translation was not much of a possibility two years ago. Now it has happened because lay delegates were given the information they needed in most districts. That is a huge development and points to a rising awareness among pastors also that this is serious. Thus I disagree that only a few care. I believe the evidence calls that bluff. Now the important thing will be to take the opportunity of a level playing field and redouble efforts to teach positively about the relative merits of more formal equivalence.
    4 hours ago · Like · 4
  • Paul Rydecki Tim, if the majority (certainly the vocal majority) of the seminary professors, including the president, weren't so vociferously advocating dynamic equivalence, you may have gotten some traction on that suggestion. But if I had the power to make guarantees, I would guarantee you that there will not be a rising up of opposition to the synod's own seminary. Will never happen. Not ever.
    4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Timothy H. Buelow Paul, you sound a little like "I, even I am the only one left" who would ever consider that my professors' opinions are just that. When we were at sem, there was always debate whether, for example, Kuske's take on the hermeneutics of typology was "the only right way." And you could always play one prof off another. I have two boys there, so I know this takes place.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Timothy H. Buelow Further, Paul, you also know there is a spectrum between formal and dynamic equivalence. I personally like Holman's "optimal equivalence."
  • Paul Rydecki It was the absolute inability to even question the opinions of professors that has led to my fortuitous (though unintentional) departure from the synod. I would be happy to be proven wrong about this synodical handicap, but so far, history supports my prediction.
  • Intrepid Lutherans Among the clergy, I would tend to agree with Rev. Rydecki, based on my limited and informal experience. Even those who know better seem to be reticent to vocalize opposition to Synod in any form, especially if that means they might be critical of the Seminary. But what I heard at this convention from the *laity* convinces me that they *are* paying attention, and are willing to question both Synod and the Seminary. The startling decline of culture around them is teaching them to question everything these days, I think. I don't know, maybe we at IL are helping them. Then again, maybe we're a hindrance. Either way, they're *clearly* calling upon that which they have been taught, and finding that what they are now being told doesn't sound right. They might not know precisely what, but something isn't right, they know it, and they are looking for information. They didn't get information prompting them to oppose the NNIV from Synod, or from the TEC... -DL
    4 hours ago · Like · 4
  • Paul Rydecki Since I mentioned Orwell's 1984 the other day, "If there is hope, it lies with the proles."
  • Intrepid Lutherans Yeah, sounds like Marx, too.......
  • Joe Jewell "...we voted to say no to our seminary president. That's not a small thing..."

    That's a good point--strong culture against this in the WELS! I got Faceblocked by a WELS pastor yesterday for suggesting that the Sem prez's "They all have flaws!" stateme
    nt as a justification for not trying to choose the best option was postmodern relativism. Seems like a pretty noncontroversial point to me, to be honest, since I feel like the TEC was leaning pretty heavily on the idea that it's all a very subjective question. But hey, what do I know--just a layman here!

    That said, I don't think we said "No" *enough*. We should have said "No" to the NIV2011 altogether.

    This whole concept of "the professor is always right and it is unbrotherly to say otherwise [especially for a layman, who can't possibly know what he's talking about, right?]" is so foreign to me as a scientist. In my field, no one is so off-limits that his work and opinions aren't subject to vigorous criticism and competing analysis!
    3 hours ago · Like · 6
  • Intrepid Lutherans Maybe that's my problem, Joe. I studied too much science and mathematics in college, and expect a rigorous proof for all conclusions (which are "truth" or at least "fact" assertions).... -DL
    3 hours ago · Like · 1


Daniel Baker said...

Be assured, the "New Method Lutherans" see the endorsement of NIV 2011 alongside all other translation as a big opportunity to drive forward with the next big NIV release. They'll be better organized next time. And they are always better funded.

It's funny you should mention that, Mr. Lindee. After the resolution to produce a Confessional Lutheran translation was defeated and we recessed for lunch, I happened to be standing behind a certain pastor in the lunch line. He was engaged in a casual conversation with a couple of men around him. I wouldn't say that I was eavesdropping, since I was standing right there and they didn't appear to be trying to hide the conversation.

As we approached the buffet, he expressed dismay to some of the men around him concerning how we blew our chances to partner up with Zondervan. But he assured them that all hope is not lost. He opined that in a few years Zondervan will be coming out with a new rendition of the NIV, and that now is the time to make sure we get involved with that.

Perhaps I read too much into it, but at that moment everything seemed to strike me like a ton of bricks. I thought back to how there was negligible support from the more liberal factions for the "first option" (going solely with the NIV 2011) when the first translation-related resolution passed (which favored the "second option," also known as the "eclectic approach"), even though the "first option" was initially widely-supported by most of the professors involved with such decisions.

I believe the rationale behind this is the same reason the TEC/TFC decided to support the "eclectic approach." As one seminary professor said during the Open Hearing, eventually we will all settle on one translation. As another pastor put it on the Convention floor today, the "herd" will make up its mind. In short, I believe their thinking is that a vote for the "eclectic approach" is simply another way of voting for the NIV - just on a more drawn-out time scale. I liken it to what we see with national politics: the democrats seem to always trick the republicans into thinking that they're "compromising," but really it's just a longer way of getting to the democratic agenda. A half liberal compromise is always a half step further from orthodoxy.

Daniel Baker said...

Oh, and as for the Confessional Lutheran translation? Well, that would have ostensibly been the definitive WELS translation, knocking NIV out of the running. So, unlike the resolution supporting the "eclectic approach," the resolution supporting the Confessional Lutheran translation brought the liberals out in droves. They brought out a multiplicity of reasons for not making the translation - and virtually no one stood up in support of it (well, perhaps they did; there were a number of the speakers at the mics when someone abruptly "called the question"). I think that is also very telling.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of promoting the NKJV. I was involved in a Bible translation study team at my church, where we compared the 1984 and 2011 NIV, the HCSB, the ESV and the NKJV for those Scripture verses referenced in Luther's Catechism for the Apostles' Creed and the Sacraments. During this study, I was surprised to see how similar the NKJV was to the 1984 NIV. So I was all the more amazed that the NKJV was never included in any of the synod sanctioned studies.

Yes, I agree, option 1 or option 2 makes no difference, the agenda of most of synod leadership is to get WELS on the 2011 NIV sooner or later. And I can hardly find fault in an overwhelming rejection of developing a Confessional Lutheran Bible within the WELS. I suspect at least some of the people rejecting this option had to be thinking that those who would be developing a Confessional Lutheran Bible would be many of the same people who were advocating the 2011 NIV. One can imagine what we would end up with, yet another gender neutral Bible, or worse.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

When the LCMS was working up the Lutheran Service Book while I was in the Sem (2000-2004), I often suggested the NKJV (although the ESV became the standard). ESV isn't... bad, but the NKJV is superior.

Others I know really like the New American Standard Bible - that would be another one to look at.

AP said...

I would agree with Daniel here. This decision strikes me as a backdoor method of slipping in the NNIV and nothing more. It is a non-decision decision that does nothing but give the liberals time to weave the NNIV as deeply into the synod as they can, and then it will be too late (if it is not already). It is definitely time for the opponents of the NNIV to rally around a single alternative—ESV, NKJV, whatever—and fight for it by whatever means seem best. A concerted educational campaign that counters the propaganda put out by the supporters of the NNIV would be a good start. Producing, perhaps, some study materials that clearly show the serious problems with the NNIV could be a good tactic. Taking things a step further might be necessary at some point as well, and I’ve always thought an organized boycott (if one even could be effectively organized) of NPH might be the best method of resisting the NNIV.

To points 2-4: this ideas that all translations are equally flawed and equally God’s word are abject nonsense. Translations are human endeavors, so there will no doubt be some flaws in all of them. Not all flaws are created equal. The ESV is often criticized for being less readable (whatever that means), which I suppose is a flaw. The NNIV is based on a post-modernist translation philosophy. It “updates” God’s word to make it more in line with modern sensibilities. It alters important sections of prophecy. How are these flaws between the ESV and NNIV equal? Moreover, I would be willing to say that a translation that alters God’s word based on human culture, philosophy, or whim, forfeits the right to truly call itself God’s word.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Thanks for your comment, Rev. Brown. I'm not sure which revision of the NASB you are referring to, specifically, but I grew up on the old 1975 edition of the NASB. There is a more recent edition, but I've heard that the revision did not necessarily result in overall improvement. Rev. Brian Keller (WELS) seems to indicate that the newer edition is less reliable (see his paper Evaluating Bible Translations: Alle Schrift von Gott eingegeben, along with Appendix A and Appendix B). I know that Rev. Spencer has used the NASB in his ministry since the 1970's, and has indicated in the past that the NASB was the choice of the Seminary Faculty back in the 1970's. He was in seminary then, and has a pretty interesting story to tell of how defenders of NIV swooped in at the last minute, gained a political foothold, and won the day.

Anyway, my wife and I switched to KJV (she was raised on the NIV) soon after our relationship began. Our "dates" most frequently were comprised of studying our Bibles together at my parents' house. ---- When laymen study their Bibles independently, they have to follow an inductive approach, because they lack the "total knowledge" necessary to approach the Bible from a deductive standpoint. One of the basic assumptions of an inductive approach is, in addition to inspiring an inerrant Word, God breathed out the Bible through men who were not just writing random disconnected thoughts, but were writing to people, were writing something important to people, and therefore wrote a rationally and coherently. That is, they carefully developed and supported the message they were communicating. What this means is that, for the layman who is studying, and not just reading, his Bible, he must pay very close attention to the grammar and vocabulary employed in each sentence of a given book of his Bible, and how that construction is related to other similar and dissimilar usages in the immediate and local contexts, as he comes to understand the message of the inspired author as it unfolds over many pages of development. Doing this book by book also unfolds the greater context of Scripture, particularly as more details about specific doctrines are revealed in contexts, and require the layman to revisit previously studied sections -- often resulting in enhancement or amendment of his understanding of those specific doctrines. ---- What we found by studying our Bibles together in this way, especially in the book of Ephesians, is that by closely following the grammatical construction of the English grammar and strictly adhering to the specific definitions of the English words employed, the result was two incompatible messages. In fact, by the time we got halfway through Ephesians, the message had bifurcated twice, and we were following four separate trains of thought between two Bibles, trusting they would all reconcile at some later point. When it became clear that that they would not, we consulted "Dad's" Bible -- both our fathers used the KJV in the home. With a more complex and precise grammar and vocabulary, it very deftly maintained a unity of thought and eliminated the bifurcations. This wasn't the straw that broke the camels back for us, there were many factors, but it was one big element in our eventual decision to switch translations. I wrote about this in a previous comment, here.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

In a different comment on that same post, I describe another detail of the NASB that would be of interest to Lutheran laymen:

As a non-Lutheran, I didn't discover, and couldn't have discovered, Lutheranism in the NASB. The Lockman Foundation is dominated by Baptists -- at least it was when I was using the NASB, and it was lovingly described as such to me when I was young. As a result, some definite bias is evident in its various renderings, which had me confused for a long time. To be honest, my (then future) wife and I did not discover Lutheranism in the Bible, neither the NIV nor the NASB, until we switched to the KJV. As an example, compare 1 Pet. 3:21 in the KJV and the NASB). They neither say, nor mean the same thing, strictly speaking, though a Lutheran may find it possible to "properly understand" the NASB here. A non-Lutheran would never see Lutheran theology in the NASB in this reference.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on the NASB. Rev. Spencer, having used the NASB throughout his carreer, probably has better and deeper insight.

Anonymous said...

Well said AP. And I'm glad to hear that others also have a favorable view of the NKJV.

I'm interested in the term "New Method Lutherans". Was this term being used broadly at the convention, in a complimentary manner? Or is it rather, an apt way of labelling those who advocate moving further and further away from the Luthern Confessions?

Regarding boycotting the NPH, I know that many congregations already avoid using NPH materials, but primarily for cost reasons. Using the NPH online services is problematic. My recent experiences in purchasing additional copies of Pastor Bauer's "A Luther Looks at Mega Churches" caused me to purchase the book elsewhere. But as the publisher, NPH still benefited from my purchasing copies of this book. In this case at least, NPH is publishing a book that flies in the face of the "New Method Lutherans".


Anonymous said...

So what does this say about the Professors at our educational institutions? A reform movement would seem to need to address that issue. An educational effort to support and back a sound Bible version would, if successful, only be temporary unless the educational institutions of our Synod are addressed as well. I would be more upset if this decision/nondecision was really a surprise.

Lee Liermann

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Dr. Palmer,

I agree: now is the time to rally around a single translation in the ways you describe. Not next year or the year after. I'm just one guy, however – and I'm just a layman, so I'm probably not the right guy, either. And I think it would, ultimately, be a rather large proposition.

Since WELS was willing to entertain a pan-lutheran translation project, I would submit that we are free to conduct such an effort on a pan-lutheran basis. Likewise, however, since it was understood that that pan-lutheran translation would be led by WELS, I would submit that no pan-lutheran "translation education and advocacy effort" would be meaningful without dominant proportion of WELS pastors/professors as publicly participating – especially since it such an effort is predicated on a "Crisis of the Word" within our own Synod! I think that IL has been the center of controversy on this and other (in many cases) related issues, so it may make sense for us continue at the center – at least at first.

Would you be willing to participate? At least help establish contact with those among us who you know share these concerns and who are capable of thoroughly addressing the root issues? I'll volunteer Rev. Spencer (without asking him first!) to be a point of contact in order to get started -- because he is the relationship man among us and is good at coordinating that sort of thing (he knows everyone, has done everything, and everyone knows how to contact him).

I should also stress that this problem – the incursion of post-Modern thought upon our understanding of the nature and function of language (and its very necessary consequences on our understanding of just what it is that "God Breathed" when He inspired His inerrant Word) – is as diffused throughout American Confessional Lutheranism as it is in our post-Modern culture. It's everywhere. In some places it is more influential than in others, and it just so happens that the NIV issue in WELS has emerged as the catalyst which brings these issues to the fore – for everyone. All confessional Lutherans, whether WELS, LCMS, ELS or otherwise have a stake in establishing a repository of thought and teaching on these subjects that is also a clearinghouse for disseminating that information and educating both clergy and laity. This, in my opinion, is the new battle-ground of the culture wars.

So what about you, dear LCMS, ELS and other readers? Do you find this issue important? Vitally important? Fundamentally important? Are you willing to participate in such a "translation education and advocacy effort" – at first by at least making contact your fellows, encouraging them, where necessary, to see these matters as fundamental, and to join a collaboration intended to bring clarity and correction to all Lutherans?

Now is the time to begin. Not next year, or the year after.

My Thoughts.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...


"New Method Lutherans" is merely a label I am experimenting with. It is a reference to the "New Methods" or "New Measures" of Charles Finney in the 19th Century, and of the holiness fanatics who followed him. It was precisely these "New Methods" against which C.F.W. Walther battled, along with other Lutherans like C.P Krauth, and even the Reformed (see this excellent collection of brief works by Dr. John Nevin of the Mercersburg School).

Anyway, it seems that my label sufficiently distinguished who I was referring to, even if the allusion to the "New Measures" may not have been obvious at first...

Daniel Baker said...

I firmly agree that now (not years down the road) is the time for a groundswell of opposition as well. It will have to be a lay-led endeavor. I did have the opportunity to talk to a number of pastors and laymen after I spoke at the Open Hearing. Wouldn't you know it, the ones who seemed to back the party line were pastors, while the laymen offered more agreeable remarks.

Whatever we decide, I think we should call this the "Ach Gott vom Himmel" Movement. I always love the story of how laymen of the Reformation would stand up and sing that beloved hymn any time false doctrine spewed forth from their pulpit.

Finally, I throw in my lot with the NKJV (or at least some member of the KJV family). Ideally, it would be nice to see a Lutheran revision of the KJV, but that's probably asking too much.

AP said...

Mr. Lindee,

Count me in. I will do whatever I can to help in the effort.

I think the NKJV would be a fine choice for a translation to rally around. I would also like to suggest that "readability" should be a very low consideration in this discussion. When I hear people talk about needing a so-called readable translation, it sounds like an insult to the intelligence of our laity. It also sounds a lot like the arguments used to suggest that the liturgy has to go or be "modernized" so that we can be more relevant and all those other "r" words that get thrown around.


Pastor Spencer said...

If memory serves, Tyndale pretty much used Luther's German Bible in doing his, though he wasn't able to complete the OT. Is an unaltered version of Tyndale's original text available anywhere? If so, that would really be the place to start, at least for the NT. Anyone care to help fund an "Intrepid Lutheran Version" of the Bible?

Anonymous said...

Pastor Spencer,

I assume you were "tongue in cheek" about the Intrepid Lutheran Version. There is the AAT, and then as indicated among these comments, a lot of support for the NKJV. Surely there are good "existing" translations that could be used today, that are far better than the 2011 NIV, rather than waiting for something better to come along.

That being said, I have to make a strong plug for Intrepid Lutherans. I think the efforts and resources of Intrepid Lutherans need to continue to be focussed on what it has been, a source of education, communication and meaningful dialogue regarding the truths of Scripture.

When I first came across Intrepid Lutherans a couple of years ago, I was experiencing intense isolation within my WELS church for trying to be faithful to the truths of Scripture reflected by the Lutheran Confessions. Intrepid Lutherans served a valuable purpose for me, to know that what I was experiencing was not a rare and random circumstance within the WELS. It also helped me to understand that the isolation that I was experiencing was not because I had changed, but rather because the church and the synod I belonged to was changing. And those changes that were underway were not simple matters of adiaphora, as I was being told, but far more serious.

How long will Intrepid Lutherans continue to serve that purpose? I know there are no guarantees. But I also know that the original purpose for Intrepid Lutherans has not diminished. If anything, the need is greater than ever.


Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Rev. Spencer,

Yes, Tyndale is available. Dr. David Daniell, currently the world's most respected Tyndale scholar, produced a scholarly edition of Tyndale's translation of the New Testament in 1989, published by Yale. In 1992, he published his scholarly edition of Tyndale's translation of the Old Testament. For centuries, the similarity of Tyndale's work with Luther's has been the subject of marvel, and throughout this time, until just recently, Tyndale was accused of plagiarizing Luther. It is now accepted, however, that Tyndale produced an independent translation of the Bible (minus five books of the OT, completion of which was prevented by his martyrdom). No only that, it is recognized that, although he used a later (and less reliable) edition of Erasmus' Greek text, Tyndale's Greek was actually better than Luther's. On the other hand, the only place he could have learned Hebrew at that time was in Wittenberg, and we know that he spent some time there as a student under pseudonym. But Tyndale did rip-off Luther's glosses. The introductory notes to each book of the Bible in Tyndale's translation was pure Luther -- I can't recall, however, if this was a publisher's decision, or if Tyndale actually included them. Daniell discusses these facts in the Introduction to his scholarly editions. So, while Tyndale is not Luther, we know that he spent time as a student of Luther, learning the art and philosophy of Bible translation. Tyndale's English translation is every bit a reflection of Luther's translation ideology as Luther's Unrevedierte Ausgabe.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Doug I think you should trademark "New Method Lutheran" right away. I'm definitely an NKJV fan myself yet find jumping back into KJV is equally easy to do. I would be happy to participate in getting the word out although I remain cynical that the sleeping giant can be awakened. I talk to too many who just stare at you blankly when you describe the problems and why such things as translations and such are important.

So how do we wake the sleeping giant. For instance. I talk to my mother about how we are justified, she describes JBFA in perfect terms as if she had her Gausewitz and BOC in her hand. Mind you she has never heard the JBFA or UOJ/SJ terminology or had any knowledge there even was a controversy. When I described what UOJ was she told me that was nonsense and even listed off what potential doctrinal problems that might cause. In short she is an "Old Method Lutheran" who is not aware of what is subtly changing around her.

HOWEVER, when I repost various IL and other conservative warnings against these errors, she asks me to stop and to not rile things up and be so controversial. "Why do you need to rock the boat?" This is the woman who sends out every conservative and libertarian posting she can. She made me sit down and watch a commentary about the rise of socialism and it started talking about Marx, Nietsche, and Darwin etc as if Doug Lindee wrote it himself. It talked about Post-modernism, communism and the plot to destroy religion, morality and business.

I told her afterwards...All I post about is exactly what you are showing everyone you know except I am focused on what is being done to religion because it is far more important than its destruction to America etc. But no, she does not want to see all the "troublemaking" by stirring up the synodical pot.

I know that's a long story but I have a few points. #1 There is a majority of people who don't know anything is wrong, and they have no doctrinal knowledge or will to challenge these issues as they come along. #2 there is a decent percentage of people who may know things are not changing for the better and that doctrine is starting to suffer, but they refuse to speak out or speak ill of HMS (Holy Mother Synod) and lastly of course there are us crackpots and agitators lying around causing trouble.

How do we approach and overcome this?

Tim Niedfeldt

Daniel Baker said...

I have had experiences similar to Tim. Aside from the manifold "blank stare" individuals, there are the rare few pastors and laymen who at first glance seem to "get it." After casual discussion, they seem to agree with my doctrinal and practical positions. But the moment I try demonstrating how these positions are contrary to the WELS party line, they immediately bring out the accusations of "boat rocking," "majoring in the minors," or making much ado about a matter of "adiaphora." Trying to convince a WELSian that the WELS is not orthodox is like trying to convince a papist that the Pope is the Antichrist. It's just not going to happen, barring Divine intervention.

Nicholas Leone said...

The NKJV was translated by fundamentalist Baptists, is based on the Textus Receptus, and is far inferior to the ESV (an ecumenical and theologically conservative revision of the RSV.

WELS should either adopt the ESV, the NASB, or proceed with its own translation.

Nicholas Leone said...

One of the problems that the NIV, NKJV, NASB, and ESV all share, however, is that none of these are controlled by an ecclesiastical body.

Anonymous said...

What would be wrong with just going back to the old King James Version? I learned just fine with that and I am certain folks these days can do the same. Why 'dumb it down' with this or that version? That is my humble opinion...

Rhonda Martinez

Nicholas Leone said...


The modern translations (NASB, ESV, etc.) are superior to the KJV on both a textual and translational basis. We cannot just "go back to the KJV."

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

It is entirely a matter of opinion (not of fact) that NASB or ESV are superior to the KJV/NKJV. Those who support the Nestle-Aland critical text form are critical of the Textus Receptus/Majority Text that serves as the basis for the KJV. But the readings of the TR are widely attested in the history of the Church. Luther's Bible is also based on the TR. We would lose nothing and gain much by going back to the Bible that was used far and wide in the Church for a thousand years rather than allow higher critics to piece it together for us, as is done in the Critical Text.

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