In writing this article about the mainly successful attempts to suppress the NIV by the Christian Religious Right, my intention is to expose the hypocrisy and dirty dealings behind the scenes of bible publishing today. And I show the connection between religion and politics, and the power that the Religious Right wields in ensuring their narrative becomes the dominant one within Protestantism. It’s the same old story in such power struggles – “follow the money”.
The New Testament of the New International Version (NIV) was first published in 1973, with the complete bible being released in 1978. It was revised and then published in 1984 – this revision is still the one preferred by Evangelicals who regard it as the definitive NIV. There have been various attempts to revise the NIV with more gender-inclusive language but these have been met with fanatical and ferocious opposition from the US Religious Right, with the result that the publisher has had to remove them from the market.
The first of these was a revision in 1995 by the British publisher Hodder and Stoughton called the New International Version: Inclusive Language Edition (NIVI). “In 1997, an article by World Magazine accused the NIVI of being ‘a feminist seduction of the evangelical church’. This led to a protest in evangelical circles, led by James Dobson. Despite some evangelicals coming to the defense of the NIVI, Zondervan responded by not releasing the NIVI in the United States…..A corrected edition was published in 1999 as the last edition”.
Dr Ann Nyland (2004, p. 15 – see biography and credentials at end of article) – in her observation of the pressure applied against the publication of the NIVI, writes: “On May 19, 1997, leaders of the Baptist Sunday School Board (Southern Baptist Convention) met with representatives from Zondervan and the International Bible Society (IBS) to apply financial pressure by indicating their intention to stop using the NIV (not an inclusive version, but the actual NIV itself) in their Sunday School curricula and their intention to stop selling the NIV in their Baptist book stores if Zondervan published an inclusive version of the NIV in the US.
Throughout this time, protesters lobbied Zondervan and the IBS, and some churches sent back their NIV pew bibles to Zondervan or the IBS. On May 27th, 1997, IBS issued a press statement stating that ‘it has abandoned all plans for gender-related changes in future editions of the New International Version (NIV)’” (emphasis mine).
In 1996 International Bible Society, now known as Biblica, published the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV), which was geared towards those whose native language is not English, and to children; and it is gender-inclusive. It is an NIV written at a third-grade level.
In 2005, Today’s New International Version (TNIV), was introduced to the market and was intended to sell alongside, and probably ultimately replace, the 1984 NIV as a gender inclusive bible. However, like the NIVI, the TNIV was rejected by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists of the Religious Right, the fury and threats of the opposition from these groups being undignified, bullying, and coercive.
The latest and current revision in the NIV was released in 2011; it is a re-worked and “softer” TNIV. The Preface to the 2011 revision of the NIV explains The Committee on Bible Translation’s reasoning for the use of gender-inclusive wording in this revision. “One of the main reasons the task of Bible translation is never finished is the change in our own language…..One of the shifts that creates particular challenges to writers and translators alike is the manner in which gender is presented. The original NIV (1978) was published in a time when ‘man’ would naturally be understood, in many contexts, to be referring to a person, whether male or female. But most English speakers today tend to hear a distinctly male connotation in this word. In recognition of the change in English, this edition of the NIV, along with almost all other recent English translations, substitutes other expressions when the original text intends to refer generically to men and women equally. Thus, for instance, the NIV (1984) rendering of 1 Corinthians 8:3, ‘But the man who loves God is known by God’ becomes in this edition, ‘But whoever loves God is known by God.’ On the other hand, ‘man’ and ’mankind’, as ways of denoting the human race, are still widely used. This edition of the NIV therefore continues to use these words, along with other expressions, in this way.
A related shift in English creates a greater challenge for modern translations: the move away from using the third-person masculine singular pronouns – ‘’he/him/his’ – to refer to men and women equally. This usage does persist at a low level in some forms of English, and this revision therefore occasionally uses these pronouns in a generic sense. But the tendency, recognized in day-to-day usage and confirmed by extensive research, is away from the generic use of ‘he’, ’him’, and ‘his’. In recognition of this shift in language and in an effort to translate into the ‘common’ English that people are actually using, this revision of the NIV generally uses other constructions when the biblical text is plainly addressed to men and women equally. The reader will frequently encounter a ‘they’, ‘them’ or ‘their’ to express a singular idea…..This generic use of the indefinite or ‘singular’ ‘they/them/their’ has a venerable place in English idiom and has quickly become established as standard English, spoken and written, all over the world’.
“No Honour among Thieves”
Lifeway Christian Resources (the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention) is the largest Christian book retailer in the USA, and it refused to sell the TNIV, so the threats made to Zondervan and IBS carried enormous punch. It is also “…the parent of Broadman and Holman Publishers which publishes the Holman Christian Standard Bible” [Nyland, A. 2004, p. 8). Being evangelicals, one would naturally expect them to be “righteously outraged” at the feminising of the bible which opened wide the gate for women to become elders, priests and bishops, and allowing them to preach. But instead of dialogue, reason, and prayer, these Southern Baptist organisations resorted to what was effectively extortion to force Zondervan and IBS to do their will.
At about the same time as the TNIV was close to being released, Lifeway Christian Resources was completing their own new bible version, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), the New Testament appearing on the market in 1999 and the complete bible in 2004. A second edition appeared in 2010. Again, in 2017, the HCSB was revised and updated and renamed Christian Standard Bible (CSB).
Furthermore, “A number of the same lobbyists were members of the translation committee of the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible, another market competitor to the TNIV Bible…. The lobbyists’ objective is to have available to the public only those Bibles which do not translate gendered language accurately. To this end they lobby against certain Bible versions which do translate gendered language accurately” (Nyland 2004, p. 8-9).
The Shameful Story Behind the Scenes
So it seems that the real motive of these Southern Baptist and other Religious Right wing lobby groups for opposing the TNIV and forcing it off the market was not one of principal, and concern for the accurate translation of the Bible, but to make room for their own proposed new versions. The “offence” of a feminist bible was only the pretext; the real motive was all about sales and profit. It seems the truth of scripture had nothing to do with it as far as Holman Publishing and Lifeway Christian Resources were concerned.
Thus, these lobbyists have taken it upon themselves to speak for the whole Church to censor and tell us what we can and cannot read and to determine which bible version we’re allowed to use. They are self-appointed guardians of Bible truth. In their efforts to usurp and maintain this control, they have prevented a translation committee, a bible society, and an international publisher, from embarking on a project to revise their own bible version. Their efforts to destroy this project, including forming their own propaganda machine to persuade and shape the views of Christians, have been disgraceful. And they base it all on faulty understanding of basic Greek grammar.
How hypocritical, then, that Lifeway Christian Resources and Southern Baptist Convention violently opposed the TNIV for its gender-inclusiveness when at the same time Lifeway Christian Resources were stocking and selling The Message, a version which is even more gender-inclusive than the TNIV. Nyland fills pages 78-84 of her book with textual comparisons between the TNIV and The Message translations, and false claims by supporters of The Message, to demonstrate this.
But the crowning hypocrisy is that the Christian Standard Bible, translation of the Southern Baptist Convention, is itself now also gender-inclusive; and they use the same arguments that the translators and publisher of the TNIV used to justify their own gender-inclusive version.
Furthermore, Dr Nyland writes: “Many people are not aware that most Bible translations are backed by denominations or specific ideological groups. The English Standard Version (ESV), for example, had on its board of advisors Dr Wayne Grudem, as well as several people who were signatories against the TNIV immediately upon its release. It is worth noting that the ESV was released only shortly before the TNIV” (Nyland, Dr A, 2004, p. 17).
“How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Sam 1:27 NIV).
Accuracy of the 2011 NIV
However, the 2011 NIV (this is the revision I refer to as NIV in this article) is a faithful translation of the accepted critical Greek text and should be respected by those who use the same Greek text, not feared and hypocritically vilified by them. Call the NIV a bad translation if you must, but it is not guilty of “feminising” the text.
There are several very clear passages in the New Testament concerning the role and place of women in the home and in the church, and they are satisfactorily translated in the NIV (e.g. 1 Tim 2:11-14; 1 Cor 14:34-35, 37; Eph 5:22-24; 1 Pet 3:1-6; and1 Cor 11:3). One can see that they are translated in line with other versions accepted by all Protestant Christians, including the Religious Right. This alone should demonstrate that the translation committee and publisher of the NIV and all its revisions are not trying “to water down or omit details of meaning that modern culture finds offensive”. This statement is itself offensive.
Where is the attack on male headship in these fundamental passages? It is these passages, and others, which must be changed if one wants to change the view that women are to submit to men both in the church and in the home. Any reasonable and unbiased person would see that the gender-inclusive language in the NIV, in the light of these clear passages, would accept that the NIV is not corrupting Scripture and opening the way for the destruction of churches and families; and that the translators had good reason for translating them the way they did. Has it not occurred to any of the NIV’s detractors that the reason the translators translated the “offending” words as they did is because that is what the Greek means?
The Crux of the Matter
Nyland writes: “…the lobbyists have misrepresented lexicons, presented new meanings for common Greek words, and displayed clear errors about elementary Greek grammar” (Nyland, Dr. A, 2004, p. 8-9).
Moreover, she writes: “One of the foremost lobbyists, Dr Wayne Grudem, aptly summed up the whole matter of the dispute about gendered language in Scripture with the following comments: ‘Most of the dispute has to do with some simple English words, and the very common Greek words behind them: father, son, brother, man, he/him/his’….The crux of the matter is that the Greek words Dr Grudem asserts mean father, son, brother, man, he/him/his actually do have the meanings ascribed to them by Dr Grudem and his fellow lobbyists. They are simple words whose meanings can be found in common Greek dictionaries. Dr Grudem has taken these words and to them assigned different meanings” (Nyland, 2004, p. 9).
Will the Real Definitions Please Stand Up?
- Grudem incorrectly states that for hundreds of years, scholars have known that aner means “man”, not “person”; and that without any evidence, some have discovered a new meaning i.e. “person”. But Classical Greek authors disagree with this statement. A female character, Athena, from Aeschylus’ Eumenides, says: “I am a gardening aner. Euripides in Orestes uses aner for “person”, Herodotus and Homer have “people”; G. Autenrieth “Homeric Dictionary translates it as “human being”; and Samuel L. Green translates it as “a person generally” in the Dictionary of his “Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament”.
- The Greek huios can mean “son” but, contrary to Grudem’s rigidly narrow and misleading definition, it has a wide range of meanings, such as a child of either gender or inhabitant of a place; member of a class of people. It also expresses similarity of a noun to another noun – Dr Nyland explains: “…a Greek might put the word huios with a word meaning ‘perfume’ to mean ‘the perfumed one’ or to refer to a person who smells nice. In word-for-word Greek, the same expression would appear as ‘child/son of perfume’, but such a translation is not the correct meaning”. The New Testament papyri show that huios was a commonly used term indicating social relationships in non-related people, as do adelphos and pater (parent or ancestor) [Nyland Dr A, 2004, p. 26, 29].
- The Greek adelphos can mean “brother” (a male sibling), sister, friend, fellow believer (or adelphai as all female believers) but can also mean a member (male or female) of an association, even a husband or wife. Dr Nyland (p. 26-28) gives a host of examples from papyri and classical writers in demonstration of this variation of meanings [p. 26-29].
The Political Connections of the Religious Right
The connections which many of the Religious Right groups have with political groups, the CIA, and of even greater concern, with the Moonies and the New World Order, are alarming and go against biblical prohibition to Christians to be separate from the world. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? (2 Cor 6:14-18).
1. The Colorado Springs Guidelines
“The Colorado Springs Guidelines constitute a main weapon used by lobbyist groups in their effort to control the translation of gender in Bibles. The most significant lobbyist group is The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), which states that the Colorado Springs Guidelines (CSG) were ‘designed to govern the translation of gender-related language’ in Bible translation. That statement is on the same level as a group of viewers of television medical shows setting down guidelines for surgery. The Colorado Springs Guidelines were put forward at a meeting by a highly successful political lobbyist, A MEETING TO WHICH NO PROFESSIONAL LINGUISTS OR GREEK SCHOLARS WERE INVITED. The Colorado Springs Guidelines are full of basic errors about Greek language at the most elementary level, and contain serious falsehoods” (Nyland Dr A. 2004, p. 25 emphases mine).
2. Council for National Policy
Dr Nyland (2004, p. 8) reveals that “Most of the lobbyists are co-members of several anti-equality for women organizations. The foremost lobbyists are members of the secretive organisation Council for National Policy (CNP) which is hostile to the separation of church and state, and hostile to equality for women, lobbying against the Equal Rights Amendment…..and plans the strategy for the Religious Right. Among its members are Christian Coalition founder and The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood founding member Pat (Marion) Robertson; founder of Focus on the Family James Dobson; founders of Concerned Women for America Beverly and Tim LaHaye; John Ashcroft, the Bush Administration’s Attorney General; Ed Meese, the Reagan Administration’s Attorney General; Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed; the U.S. Taxpayers Party founder Howard Phillips; Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt; Christian Reconstructionists (which favour the death penalty for abortionists, homosexuals, uncontrollable teenagers, among others) including Gary North and R. J. Rushdoony” (emphasis mine).
“The Council for National Policy (CNP) is an umbrella organization and networking group for conservative and Republican activists in the United States. It was launched in 1981 during the Reagan administration by Tim LaHaye and other right-wing conservative Christians, to ‘bring more focus and force to conservative advocacy’. It has been described by The New York Times as ‘a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country’, who meet three times yearly behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference. The Nation has called it a secretive organization that ‘networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy’. The organization has been described as a ‘pluto-theocracy’ [a society ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income].
The membership list for September 2020 was later leaked, showing that members included prominent Republicans and conservatives, wealthy entrepreneurs, and media proprietors, together with anti-abortion and anti-Islamic extremists. Members are instructed not to reveal their membership, or even name the group…..
……Marc J. Ambinder of ABC News said about the council: ‘The group wants to be the conservative version of the Council on Foreign Relations’….Membership is by invitation only. The organization’s membership list is considered ‘strictly confidential’. Guests may attend ‘only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee.’ Members are instructed not to refer to the organization by name to protect against leaks’…..This policy is said to be similar to the long-held policy of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which the CNP has at times been compared”. (Council for National Policy – Wikipedia). (emphases mine).
The CNP has its tentacles in the highest and deepest corridors of power in the USA, influencing Presidents and Vice-Presidents, politicians, judges, and every other kind of leader or person of influence within the American state.
The CNP’s own website claims that it does not seek to influence policy: “The views expressed in the articles published in Policy Counsel are those of the authors. These views should not be construed as the views of the Council for National Policy, as an attempt to aid or hinder the enactment of any legislation, or as an intervention in any political campaign for public office”. Policy Counsel (cfnp.org)
But its Activist branch [CNP Action, Inc. (cfnp.org)] says otherwise: “’CNP Action, Inc. has the ear of the nation’s most influential conservative leaders and works to provide information and encourage their action on significant legislative issues’ (Edwin Meese III, Former U.S. Attorney General)”.
“’CNP Action congregates the top political minds of the right to discuss today’s pressing issues and create strategic plans to influence public policy. Their work is imperative to strengthening the movement and spreading conservative values’ (Charlie Kirk, Founder and Executive Director, Turning Point USA”.
“’CNP Action, Inc. represents the collective voice of hundreds of national leaders from a broad spectrum of the business, political, academic and activist communities’ (Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016), Founder, Eagle Forum”.
3. The New World Order
But not only are these members of the Religious Right up to their necks in politics and power-seeking, and working to influence public policy, they are also beholden to cultist Sun Myung Moon, his Unification Church (Moonies), and the CIA.
In his book “New King James – The Bridge Bible”, author David W. Daniels, referring to a book by Sam Moore titled “American by Choice”, and some articles by Eric Jewell “The Unholy Alliance: Christianity & The NOW, Parts 1 and 2), writes: “Jerry Falwell received $2.5 million from Moon’s front organization, Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) chaired by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye. The WFWP paid $3.5 million to the Christian Heritage Foundation (related to LaHaye’s Christian Heritage College), which bought about half of ‘Falwell’s $73 million debt, and then frankly wrote it off. The Christian Heritage Foundation then seems to have paid themselves a fee of one million dollars for their trouble’” (Daniels D. W., 2020, p. 192).
Daniel’s then lists some other Unification Church front groups or Moon-sponsored organizations:
- The Council of National Policy (CNP), founded by in 1981 by Tim LaHaye. LaHaye received $500,000 from Bo Hi Pak, Moon’s #1 man and a former Korean CIA officer.
- Coalition for Religious Freedom (CRF). Tim LaHaye was the paid chairman. The CRF received at least $500,000 from Moon.
- Council of 56 of the Religious Roundtable (C56). Daniels here quotes Jewell: “This group is made up of many of the same members from Rev. Moons’ [sic] CNP and CRF organizations. It marries leading Moon associated evangelicals to the CIA, the Council for Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and Freemasonry. CFR, and TLC are closely tied to the Bilderberg Group”.
Associated with these groups are:
- Lt Colonel Oliver North (CNP)
- Dr Robert Schuller, who received between $80,000 – $150,000 from Moon as a speaker for his functions and who was also a member of the Washington Times Foundation (WTF: the Washington Times was for many years owned by Moon).
- Dr Beverly LaHaye, WFWP (mentioned above) and CNP
- Pat Robertson, CNP
- D. James Kennedy, CNP, CRF, C56
- Dr Jerry Falwell, CRF, C56, and the WTF
- Paul M. Weyrich, President of the Free Congress Foundation, C56
- And for a time even Sam Moore and E. V. Hill were members of the CNP
Daniels concludes: “This is the blending that occurred from the 1980s onward, when people
compromised their faith for a little money. People with an agenda used and abused the Christian world for their own ends.
Cults and New World Order groups paid and promoted Christians and their ministries. In exchange, they were endorsed by those religious leaders. This made ordinary Christians think these globalist groups and cults were perfectly legitimate. Many didn’t even care that they were taking the devil’s money, using the excuse that it was for the Lord’s work” (Daniels, D.W. 2020, p. 192-195).
Such a group, therefore, has no business intruding itself into the Church and determining how Bibles should be translated and what versions Christians are allowed to read and use. It does not legitimately stand for the Church and Christians but has usurped that role. It is not a church or a parachurch group but a political organisation and lobby group consisting of wealthy business people and other people of power and influence.
A Brief Biography and Qualifications of Ann Nyland
“Ann Nyland, an Australian scholar whose research field is Greek Biblical lexicography based on the papyri and inscriptions, holds a Ph.D. in New Testament lexicography, graduate degree (double major) in Classical Greek language, Honours Degree in the Ionic dialect of Greek.
She served as faculty in Ancient Greek language and Ancient History in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of New England in Australia. Nyland is published (academic journals) in the field of Greek and Hittite lexicography.
Nyland’s father, a Classicist, taught her Latin before English, which created a love of ancient languages. When Nyland was six years old, she accepted the Lord as her Savior. As a teenager, Nyland received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and joined a Spirit-filled church.
Her mother eventually became a pastor of a small church in an area marked by poverty. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Nyland also served as a pastor”.
Nyland, Dr. A, 2004, More than Meets the Eye: The Campaign to Control Gender Translation Bibles, copyright by Ann Nyland 2004, published by Smith and Stirling Publishing, Parramatta, Australia
Daniels, D.W. “New King James: The Bridge Bible”, 2020, Chick Publications, Ontario, Calif