Making History at the 2011 SBC Annual Meeting

"John Calvin claimed church succession came through the Baptists." Bishop Bossuct in a letter to Calvin LINK





The 2011 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is now HISTORY, and there can be no doubt that the SBC has indeed made history in three significant ways at this two-day event.


Low Attendance


First, the 2011 Annual Meeting in Phoenix had the lowest attendance since 1944 when SBC messengers met in Atlanta, Georgia. The 1944 attendance was 4,301. In case you are wondering how large the SBC membership was back then, Ed Stetzer has provided a graph of membership growth in the SBC beginning in 1950. According to that chart, the Southern Baptist Convention had approximately 7 million members in 1950. 


As reported by Bryant Wright, president of the SBC, the total number of messengers certified at the 2011 Phoenix gathering was 4,065 when the first order of business took place. By the end of the first day, that number had grown to 4,780. Perhaps they used the old SBC busing tactic to increase attendance. When the vote for the 2nd vice president took place the second and final day of the meeting, attendance had swelled to a whopping 4,804!!!

According to the SBC’s official website, there are a supposed 16 million Southern Baptists who worship in 42,000 churches throughout the United States. See excerpt from the SBC website below.

About Us – Meet Southern Baptists

“Since its organization in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has grown to over 16 million members who worship in more than 42,000 churches in the United States. Southern Baptists sponsor about 5,000 home missionaries serving the United States, Canada, Guam and the Caribbean, as well as sponsoring more than 5,000 foreign missionaries in 153 nations of the world.

The term "Southern Baptist Convention" refers to both the denomination and its annual meeting. Working through 1,200 local associations and 41 state conventions and fellowships, Southern Baptists share a common bond of basic Biblical beliefs and a commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.”


Incredibly, a scant .03 percent (.0003) of the supposed 16 million Southern Baptists participated in the official business of the denomination this week.  It would be fascinating to know how many of the 42,000 SBC churches had just one member present in Phoenix.  Why the dismal numbers? From my perspective, it appears that many of the SBC churches have been marginalized by the top brass and see no point in participating in the annual meeting.


SBC Messengers Elect Black Pastor to Number Two Post


Who besides me remembers when the SBC first courted black congregations in an attempt to increase membership?  I recall reading about it in my local newspaper a number of years ago. Perhaps it occurred in 1995 when the SBC finally apologized for its defense of slavery.  Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines were heavily promoting Darrell Gilyard during that time.  Adrian Rogers predicted that Gilyard would be “the next Billy Graham”.  We covered Gilyard’s fall from grace and have several articles in the “Categories” section.  Shame on Southern Baptist leaders who knowingly protected Darrell Gilyard!  They know who they are…  


In recent days the SBC has garnered the attention of the news media by electing its first ever black pastor, Fred Luter, as First Vice President.  Here’s what led up to Luter’s nomination according to an Urban Christian News article


Here is an excerpt from the Urban Christian News article:


“Danny Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., has already announced that he will nominate Luter.

"To my knowledge, no one has announced to run against him," Akin said, "and I would be very surprised if anyone does."

Akin called Luter a "much-loved, much-respected pastor" who "can be elected on his own merits regardless of skin color."

The move to elect Luter comes at the same time the SBC is making a push for greater participation among what it sometimes calls its "non-Anglo" members in the life of the convention, particularly in leadership roles.

Luter's church is one of an estimated 3,400 black churches in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, a small minority of more than 45,700 total SBC-affiliated churches with about 16 million members total.

Akin said his nomination of Luter was not related to a resolution on diversity scheduled to be presented at this year's annual meeting but "just coalesced beautifully."


This historic vote caught the attention of the New York Times, which reported on the historic vote as follows (link):


“The widely admired pastor of a largely black church in New Orleans, was elected first vice president of the Convention at its annual conference in Phoenix on Tuesday, the highest position yet held by an African-American. Church leaders said Mr. Luter was the overwhelming favorite to be elected president at the assembly next year.

“It’s a historic development for the Southern Baptist Convention and a sign of its future, if it’s going to reflect America,” said R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., referring to Mr. Luter’s rise to prominence. Beyond the symbolism, the president controls appointments to key governing committees.

With 16 million members, the Convention is the country’s largest Protestant denomination, but the numbers are dwindling. Its traditional constituency is aging, and recruitment has not kept pace with the country’s demography. Church leaders say that as the population becomes more diverse, they must act more aggressively to draw in minority churches and followers.”

Yes, predictions are already being made that Luter will be elected the next SBC president since he hails from New Orleans – the venue of next year’s annual meeting.


SBC Slams NIV 2011


Finally, the Southern Baptist Convention made history by rejecting the newly released NIV 2011. Interestingly, early in the second day, the Baptist Press reported “There is no proposed resolution concerning the NIV 2011." See BP blog.


However, near the end of the second day a resolution came to the floor from one messenger, namely Tim Overton, not the Resolutions Committee.  According to the Baptist Press blog, “Overturn's appeal for messengers to consider the resolution passed by at least a 2-to-1 margin, and the resolution itself got only a handful of opposing votes.”


You can read the entire resolution at this SBC link.


Here are the specific resolutions:


"RESOLVED, That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 14-15, 2011 express profound disappointment with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House for this inaccurate translation of God’s inspired Scripture; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors to make their congregations aware of the translation errors found in the 2011 NIV; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we respectfully request that LifeWay not make this inaccurate translation available for sale in their bookstores; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or the larger Christian community."

When the internet version of the NIV 2011 was first released back in the fall of 2010, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) publicly denounced this translation of the Bible. Of course, that was not surprising since they are staunch advocates of the ESV.  Now the SBC has joined them in their opposition of the NIV 2011.  Remember, CBMW is housed at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


For a different perspective, you might enjoy reading this Christianity Today article which discusses the NIV 2011.


Is anyone surprised that the SBC, which owns LifeWay, would not want anyone to purchase this latest NIV Bible published by Zondervan.  Family Christian Stores, which are owned by Zondervan, are in direction competition with the SBC’s marketing outlet – LifeWay Christian Stores.  


There is still so much more to discuss about the SBC Annual Meeting that just concluded. All next week we will be discussing what occurred from our perspective.


In the meantime, have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend! 



Lydia’s Corner:       1 Samuel 20:1-21:15       John 9:1-41       Psalm 113:1-114:8       Proverbs 15:15-17


Making History at the 2011 SBC Annual Meeting — 46 Comments

  1. Look at all the CBMW leaders who contributed to the ESV Study Bible. No doubt that their contributions were not for free. They got paid!

    The CBMW folks have a financial stake in this NIV debate.

  2. They did the same thing to the TNIV.

    Now, what is interesting is that the ESV is being promoted in the SBC like crazy by many of the leaders…especially the Calvinists..

    And just think….the whole reason for the SB’Cs translation, the Holman, was becaue of the royalties on the NIV. With their own translation, they could keep all the money for the Holman’s they sold.

    So, are they paying royalties on the ESV? Discerning minds want to know….

  3. NIV vs ESV

    There may be more to this than it first appears.


    Marc Says:
    “The ESV, which they do commend, also has ‘brothers and sisters’ in their version. It’s in the footnotes as a legitimate alternative to ‘brothers.’ It is also a ‘gender neutral’ translation in several places, but they ignore it. Otherwise, are only’men’ justified by faith and all women going to hell? (Look up Romans 3:28, compare ESV with NASB.) Even the ESV translators admit that it is necessary in places, and it’s the new official version of the Colorado Springs group.”

    and maybe more important in some ways Steve Newell says:
    “The NIV charges royalties for the use of the NIV and they are requiring that all new uses of the NIV use the current version, not an older version. The ESV does not have the same royalties issues.”


    Excellent paper on why the ESV should not become the typical English translation by Mark Strauss, bible translator.

    There are some very funny “oops” translations in the ESV that Strauss goes through. Great paper….a musst read if your pastor is promoting the ESV as the most “literal” translation.

  5. Great discussion! This NIV / ESV controversy is something I will definitely be looking into for a future post. Thanks for all your input.

  6. The issue is that many languages use the masculine plural for mixed genders, so three sisters and one brother become, e.g., four “hermanos” (brothers) in Spanish. Of course, to translate a masculine plural in Greek or Hebrew into a masculine plural in English then deletes one-half, more of less, of those who might otherwise have been intended to be included in the original. Then you have the issue of whether God has gender as humans understand it (really???). I hope not. I think the term “father” for God speaks a relationship, not specifically or necessarily to God being male.

  7. Arce

    Can you imagine a bunch of guys actually thinking that God only addresses the “brothers” and not the sisters? How ridiculous, unless, of course, you are into ESS doctrine. And in such a system, women are subservient to men in eternity.I still think this stuff is dreamed up by guys who were bullied growing up and this is the only way for them to feel like they are important.

  8. I understand why you guys follow issues involving the SBC from time to time. But following the annual meeting seems like inside baseball.

    Since you guys left the SBC church to attend some other church (I think I asked once what type and I am not if you said – can you guys tell that or is it a secret for some reason?) it does seem odd that you follow the annual SBC meeting. Our paper had hardly anything about it.

    I think the NIV thing has been hacked to death already, too. Translation choices are really complicated. I don’t recommend the NIV because it’s written on a 7th or 8th grade level. I try to get people to read something better.

  9. “it does seem odd that you follow the annual SBC meeting. ”

    The SBC is a powerful force in the US (and world) evangelical community. Why wouldn’t evangelical but non SBC people follow it.

  10. “Since you guys left the SBC church to attend some other church (I think I asked once what type and I am not if you said – can you guys tell that or is it a secret for some reason?) it does seem odd that you follow the annual SBC meeting. Our paper had hardly anything about it.”

    The SBC has a serious lobbying effort in DC with Richard Land. He is on news shows all the time. the one thing the SBC tries to do is present a unified message on culture issues Next national election, check out the “evangelical vote”. I do know it is dwindling but is still a voting block.

    “I think the NIV thing has been hacked to death already, too. Translation choices are really complicated. I don’t recommend the NIV because it’s written on a 7th or 8th grade level. I try to get people to read something better.”

    The arrogant said the same thing abut translating the bible in native language from the official Latin. However, I recommend the Interlinear which is free online in addition to ANY translation. They all have problems. And that is because translators are not Inspired. If anything, I would prefer a translation by a good linguist who does not have an agenda like many theologians do on secondary non salvic issues.

  11. Lynn:

    There are lots of evangelical denominations and groups in this country that are every bit as influenetilal as the SBC. I guess we can all start following all their meetings etc. That would make for reallly boring meeting. But that’s just what I think. If you think the SBC is really some influential group and enjoy reading about it, that’s fine for you. It’s also fine for Dee and Deb to follow it. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just seems weird to me since they are no longer connected to it.

  12. Anon:

    The SBC’s agency in D.C. is not a lobbying effort. Even a court in D.C. decided that recently. You should check that opinion out.

    No one is suggesting that the Bible should not be translated into English, as the oppoents of doing so said some 400 to 500 years ago.

    I just said that among the MANY English translations, there are better ones that are simply better written. They are just as readable, just better written. Evangelicals would do well to improve themselves, and not ask their followers to read one of the most “simple” of the English translations.

    Interlinear translations are clunkly. They are good to have on the shelf for study, but really clunkly for everyday reading.

    I still prefer the New American Standard, but it is a bit clunky, too. Lockman has been really temperamental with the rights to it, which is one of the reasons the Holman people published their own translation.

  13. Anonymous

    Well, well, well, I am back from my rather crazy 2 week sojourn and return to find that we have been chastised by an “intellectual.” So, all these years of studying my NIV Study Bible have been for naught. I guess I only read at a 7th grade level in spite of my advanced degrees. Oh darn, and my faith actually went deeper in those years. There but for the grace of God…. Good night! Are you actually reading that higher level Bible or just telling others that your Bible is better than their Bible? You sound like the KJVO folks. And I thought I had heard it all…

    As for my church, I don’t write the name of it because my opinions do not necessarily reflect the church or the congregation. However, it is nondenominational, and, Anonymous, if you are as bright as you imply, there are enough clues on this blog to figure it out.

    Finally, I don’t know what newspaper you read, probably one of the more obscure, intellectual ones, but, last night, I read a weeks worth of newspapers in my hometown rag and there were at least two (maybe three) articles in section one (the national news) centering around the SBC meeting. Now, I know those of us who find religious news interesting are probably part of the great unwashed, but, I happen to like reading about all sorts of religious news and that is why I write this “sophomoric” blog.

    Apparently, if it is of interest to you, it is important. Therefore, write your own blog and have a field day. At least we publish our names and stand by our writings, elementary as they might be.

  14. “It’s just seems weird to me since they are no longer connected to it.”

    So we should only pay attention to groups that we are closely aligned with? Seems kind of isolationist. And the SBC while declining in influence still has a big impact on what happens in the US evangelical community and US politics. If nothing else by their numbers in seminaries and overseas missions.

    As to being “connected”, it is the denomination of greatest number of most of my relatives and friends and friends of my children. It was the denomination I grew up in and in many ways would like to return to if it would get off it’s multiple fake high horses. And no, my church growing up was NOT liberal by most any standard you’d apply today.

    Sort of like politics. I rarely like anything the national or state Democratic parties have to say. But they are important to my life and I do follow what they say and do. (And no, this is NOT an endorsement of the Republican party.)

    I guess you could put me in the Michael Spencer camp of fame. But many in the SBC would see him as the enemy.

    But these are my thoughts. Dee and Deb can speak for themselves.

  15. “by our writings, elementary as they might be.”

    I think you’re more of a middle school level according to his standards. 🙂

  16. One of the reasons the ESV is so popular is its presentation.
    The bindings, the quality leather covers and paper. The NIV, TNIV, and others do not even come close. Try to find another translation with a quality calfskin cover like the ESV or the ESV with side margins. Good luck. Given the high cost of a quality bound Bible, when comparing one eighth-grader readable translation with another, most would choose the NIV based purely on aesthetics. Get a clue Zondervan and Thomas Nelson!

    BTW: How many preachers have quoted Malachi 2:16 in their sermons on divorce?
    “I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel.”

    Ahem, Mr. Preacher, but my ESV does not say that.

  17. Dee:

    No need to be so prickly!

    I did not know that you used the NIV. The comment was not directed at you, just the NIV.

    I am not an intellectual, but if you want to call me one, that’s fine.

    Thanks for the church info. I understand completely.

    Your church plays no role in this blog, and I can understand that you want this blog to reflect your thoughts and not be thought of as your church’s blog. I completely respect that.

    Not everyone in the blog community does respect that sort of legitimate distinction. I hope you can maintain it.

    My hometown paper had one article on the SBC to the best of my recollection. It was about the election of Luter. That was it.

    The SBC was news years ago when the conservatives and moderates were fighting over the future of the convention. I attended a few of those back then. The press rooms were full of people from lots of secular publications – NYT, WSJ, major city newspapers. It was electric. The secular press has lost interest in the SBC because there is really no suspense and nothing secular people from NYC, DC, Chicago, LA and other major media markets are interested in. I bet the press room in those places now (especially with the decline of the print media) is like a ghost town.

    But as I said, it’s your blog. Do as you please.

    Oh, by the way, there was a bunch of SBC sexual predator database chatter on the blog leading up to the convention in recent weeks. I wondered why that was a topice since nothing had happened on that matter in a few years.

    But your story about the convention, and my hometown paper’s short story about Luter’s election, did not mention the data base.

    Did the database come up at all? Was it supposed to?

    Is that still an issue being actively debated in the SBC?

  18. Lynn:

    Well, there are 42 demoninations and fellowships that are members of the National Association of Evangelicals, and that doesn’t include the SBC. Throw that in and other groups that are evangelical that are not members and you end up with a long list.

    I guess one could follow all of them, and see what they are doing.

    I don’t have an interest in lots of groups because I am not part of them. I just don’t keep up that much with groups that I don’t have an affinity for.

    Take Episcopalians. I am not a member of that church. I don’t follow what they are doing unless it shows up on the nightly news.

    I used to be in nondenominational circles. They had “fellowships” and were not a denomination.

    Since I left that group, I bet I have not looked at anything coming out of that group in 35 years or so.

    Democrats and Republicans are this country’s two major parties. What they do will affect my life, so I have an interest.

    What the PCA does, for example, is not going to affect me. So I am not going to follow the PCA convention and all that they do etc.

    Again, Dee and Deb can folllow whatever interests them, as can you.

    Following denominations that I am not a part of and will not really impact me would be more of a distraction to me than anything else, and time consuming when you put 50 plus into the mix.

  19. Since I use the NASV, I’m not directly affected by the NIV/TNIV issue (though NASV bibles are becoming harder to find). I very much prefer a translation that stays as literal as possible. It is one thing to discuss what the original writers meant when they said something, very much another to hide what they meant with a ‘preferred’ rendition.

    For the most part, the cultures in which the scriptures were written were not gender inclusive. And the text reflects that. Likewise, the cultures in which the scriptures were written where pre-scientific cultures, many unaware of the fact the cosmos was vast empty space and the earth a globe – and the text reflects that. To me rendering the text artificially to hide these issues is no better than the common Jewish practice of Rendering Isaiah 53 in the plural to hide the almost impossible to miss direct reference to Christ.

    So, if one objects to rendering Isaiah 53 along these lines:

    We were a people oppressed and afflicted,
    yet we did not open our mouths;
    we were led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so we did not open our mouths.

    (more as a reference to the holocost and obscuring the direct Messianic implications)

    Then how can one find comfort or endorse a ‘gender neutral’ rendition of the scriptures?

    Translations should be as much as is possible translations. How to map the text across wide cultural gaps is an interpretive issue that should never be imposed on the translation itself where the meaning of the text can be understood in direct translation. Since the original culture was not gender neutral, a gender neutral translation rather than enhancing the meaning of the text (e.g. idiomatic normalization – taking an ancient obscure idiom and mapping it to a more modern idiom which means the same thing), hides the original intent – something unacceptable in my mind.


  20. Anonymous

    “I don’t recommend the NIV because it’s written on a 7th or 8th grade level. I try to get people to read something better.”

    Prickly? You said you try to get people to read something “better.” There is a game called “Bible Wars” and it is becoming rather ridiculous. The Reformed pastors all say you must read the ESV. The fundies claim you must read the KJV alone. I remember when my children were small and in a Christian school. I gave them one child oriented Bible but the really cool one was one that had the word “Adventure” in the title. I can’t remember which one. Well, my daughter came home from school distraught because some 2nd grades made fun of her because she didn’t have the “Adventure” one. The only difference was a picture on the cover and a couple of poems inside. Typical Dallas nonsense.

    So, of course I bought her the one she wanted. But, only in Christian circles could kids tease other kids over the version of the Bible. Seems like it continues into adulthood. And by the way I read lots of versions but I love my NIV Study Bible.

    In my humble part of the woods, I try to get the people to actually read the Bible, any Bible, just read it. Have you noticed the Bible verses after each of our posts? It is our feeble attempt to help people to read through the Bible in a year.

    I find it rather amusing that many Christians have multiple Bibles from the “cool” translation of the year club yet few truly open the Word and read it. But, I am sure they have their preferences in case they were actually compelled to open one up. So, instead of “better” I try to get them to read. Period.

    As you know, Bible illiteracy is on the rise and it is true in the SBC, as well. Baptists are losing membership and seeing a decline in Baptisms. That was one of the stories in my local paper associated with the annual meeting. Meanwhile, atheism is slowly making gains in the US.

    The SBC represents an interesting evangelical microcosm (does that word get me over 7th grade?). You have the Arminians on one side and the Reformed on the other duking it out. This scenario is playing out in nondenominational churches and other groups as well. There are the problems associated with reports on sexual abuse and the SBC’s seeming inability to address it in a coherent fashion. There is the patriarchal/complementarian/egalitarian issue. Then there is the problem with the “Baptist” name brand in which some of the SBC churches are deleting “Baptist” from the name of the church.

    So, you find it “odd” that I am interested in the SBC. I find it “odd” that you would be interested in this blog considering the fact that there are many, many SBC blogs that would agree with you on issues such as translations, gender, and pedophile data bases.

    As for the pedophile issues, as you know, there are few women in leadership in the SBC. So, to put in in language that a complementarian would understand, women have a particular empathy for the safety of children. This woman has seen the devastating effects of pedophilia in one SBC church. And until the day I lay down my keyboard, I will harass the SBC and other churches who do not go all out to protect the most defenseless amongst us.

    As a leader amongst men, you have the capacity to do something about this. If you are smart, and you have given me reasons to believe that you are, then think outside the box and show us how it can be done.

  21. Kingsley

    Have they come out in cute colors in leather? I bought a nice purple leather cover for my Kindle.

  22. Pedophilia-driven child abuse is not a “women’s issue”. Nor is the necessity of finding some means to keeping pedophiles out of the pulpit and off of church staffs, whether paid or volunteer. Nor is the need for good policies to prevent sexual abuse of children while in the care of a church. Nor is the need for a high quality response to the evil when it does occur.

    I am not fond of the term “pedophilia”. Literally, in the Greek, it means one who loves children like one loves a brother! But it is what we have to work with.

    I have recently contacted the judge who handles the child protective service cases in this county and am signing up to represent the children when parental rights are at stake due to abuse or neglect. I had not done so earlier b/c I was afraid that my anger at a parent would mess up the case against them. But after the cases I have handled where a child ended up being abused, I have become a bit inured to it and think I can control the emotions enough to ably represent the child’s interest.

  23. Arce
    I agree that it is not a woman’s issue. I just become frustrated that the men involved in the SBC hierarchy have shown so little regard for the issue.

  24. Hi Zeta

    So how does a woman understand the term brothers. As you know, there are many who use the text to impose a subservient posture on the part of women throughout eternity. Or do you take a literary framework position when it comes to women. A debate over the age of the earth is one thing. But a debate that marginalized over 50% of the population is another. However, since I know you, I know that is not the case. Could you please clarify?

  25. Arce,

    Here in California there has been an established data-base of convicted felons who are also sexual predators for some time now. I believe the intent of the law is a good one, designed to prevent as you’ve said; sexual predators from gaining easier access to the most vulnerable in society, and also to lessen the chances that they’ll re-offend.

    I am of the opinion that if churches continue to hire sexual predators for sensitive positions (youth pastors etc.) it means that they are not serious about a vetting process that would screen them out. It also means that they cannot claim ignorance of a new hire’s criminal history, or that they thought said new hire’s claims that the Lord has “cured” him of his sin, were sufficient to guarantee the safety of the children he “ministered” to.

    I do not believe that child abuse sexual or otherwise is covered under the Constitution’s rubric of religious freedom. I also believe that churches should be subject to the same rules of disclosure and document seizure the law permits for everyone else. Let them reap the whirlwind of court remonstrance and financial ruin if they gambled wrong on a new hire in an attempt to apply Biblical conciliation speciously and imprudently.

  26. I need to know the specific context of the use of ‘brothers’ to answer you specifically, but I would expect a women to deal with the term ‘brothers’ in English the same way she would deal with it if she was fluent in the original languages and reading the text as originally written. That is, the culture of the author was male dominated, women were for the most part uneducated, and so it was common to refer to the entire group by referencing its male component. Applying that to the present means that ‘brothers’ means ‘brothers and sisters’, but for most of us it is really not necessary to render it explicitly because for the most part the inclusive nature of the term is understood in our culture as well. That is, ‘brothers’ would generally be also understood today as referencing the entire congregation.

    So, IF in the culture of the author the term brothers meant both ‘brothers and sisters’, then it would be appropriate to translate it as ‘brothers and sisters’ if our culture would not also understand its intent implicitly. But if brothers meant brothers only, then it should be translated in a way that conveys THAT meaning in our culture. We should never knowingly translate a term to mean something other than what the author intended.

    And this applies across the board. I don’t like it when translators try to rework the ‘raqia’ (firmament or dome) into ‘expanse’ to make it more comfortable to our modern conception of the cosmos any more than when they reword gender specific texts (like King) into gender neutral texts (like Ruler). To understand scripture we must understand what the author said, not what we wish they said.

    And here is something else to consider. I think it important that if we conceptualize scripture or interpret it differently than the author originally intended that we be consciously aware of what we are doing. We are not really spared the angst associated with that just because we can convince Zondervan to do it for us. Yes this makes it more difficult when arguing with someone who can’t see past a wooden and literal rendering, but that is really the fault of ignorance on their part. But we need to be honest and forthright, both with ourselves and with others. If the text is addressing only males due to the lowered education and status of women in that culture, but in our culture women are educated and fully capable of participating in all aspects of Christian fellowship, then we may chose to interpret that text through the filter of where the text says elsewhere that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female and we consciously, knowingly, and with full knowledge and clear conscience accept that is what we have done.

    And if we can’t knowingly and with clear conscience make that assessment, if we do not then accept that as a valid interpretive paradigm, then we are only fooling ourselves if we chose then to skirt the issue by only reading a text that fixes the problem for us with a shoddy translation. Essentially we damage our own conscience because in essence if the above is not a correct approach to dealing with the issue, then we are in violation of scripture and our own conscience if we then extend the meaning to include women when according the to rules of interpretation we view as valid it does not.

    For me, I feel much more comfortable being able to read a text that is faithful to use terms that match as closely as possible the words in the original language, and then take the time to do the extra work to understand the culture in which it was written so as to be able to see what those words may have meant within that context.

    A good compromise (as is for the most part done in the NASV) is to annotate all adjustments made to enhance the reading of the text in our culture so that the literal meaning (or alternate meaning) of the words used is made available to the reader. In that case then, ‘brothers and sisters’ would best be annotated “lit. ‘brothers'” in the margin.


  27. Thanks, Dee.

    I read your blog because you write so well, despite the fact that you use such a dumbed down version of the Bible.

    I was really trying to determine if the database issue came up. I haven’t talked to anyone who went to the convention. I guess it did not.

    As I said, I prefer the NASB, but it is harder to find. I am not warming up to the ESV, nor am I liking the HCSB. Again, as you have noted, they are all great in the grand scheme of things.

  28. “Lynn:
    Following denominations that I am not a part of and will not really impact me would be more of a distraction to me than anything else, and time consuming when you put 50 plus into the mix.”

    As I said above. I have many friends, family, and even my children’s friends that are in the SBC in one way or another. So it does matter to me. I even have a cousin who was an SBC overseas missionary for 17 years then a pastor in an SBC church for years before retiring. Plus my grandfather and father’s names plus a few other relatives are on the cornerstone of an SBC church.

    So yes, what the SBC does does impact my life. You telling me I should ignore what they do sounds odd to be honest.

  29. I have a problem with the general translation process of the OT, especially. First, there were no spaces, no punctuation marks, etc., just letters running on for pages. It is a huge presumption to believe that in every case, we know where the letters should be divided or that the earliest copyists and translators, made the correct choices. Second, we know when what was the first written edition of what we now have was put into writing, at least for most of the OT, and that was during the Babylonian exile, for the scrolls had been destroyed along with the temple, and were being recreated from memory. (A challenge: Without going back and looking, write down the second chapter of Genesis — betcha can’t do it.) It is dangerous to over-interpret what we have as being an accurate history. One theory is that the long lives in the OT were put there b/c the people in Babylon knew there were many more generations, but could not remember the genealogy, and so made long lives to fill up some of the time. Also there was a numerological issue with the number of generations.

    I personally read several versions from those that are available on-line, use a good commentary or two (I like the old Broadman, and the new Smyth & Helwys (the professional one at $50 or so per volume, which I ordered by subscription as a gift when my wife committed to enrolling in seminary), and then apply some common sense regarding the meaning of the text, looking for an explanation elsewhere in the text for those missing clues. An example. After the wedding at Cana, and Jesus departure and return, how did the centurion or official with the dying daughter know to talk to Jesus. My wife points out that he may have talked with one of the servants from the wedding, who were the only ones in town that knew the story.

  30. “There are lots of evangelical denominations and groups in this country that are every bit as influenetilal as the SBC. I guess we can all start following all their meetings etc. That would make for reallly boring meeting. But that’s just what I think. If you think the SBC is really some influential group and enjoy reading about it, that’s fine for you. It’s also fine for Dee and Deb to follow it. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just seems weird to me since they are no longer connected to it”

    I keep up wth what is going on in Islam but am not connected with it. I find it strange you even question that to begin with since some here have been connected in the past. Glad you have decided it is ok now.

  31. David Hamlin

    I have been thinking long and hard about your comment. I, too, hold the Bible in highest esteem, believing that God has spoken truth to His people. several years ago, I would have stated things exactly as you have, having been a Chrisitan for a long time. However, it is not what’s said in the Bivle which is debated, it is what is meant. So, for example, Genesis is interpreted to mean both a YE and an OE by excellent and conservative theologians. What makes you think that you and I could duke it out and have a clear “winner ” on the side of Biblical interpretation?

  32. Lynn:

    I have relatives in all sorts of different Christian denominations. I guess all those denominations affect me somehow, but I don’t keep up with them.

  33. Anonymous

    Some people build model ships, some ride mechanical bulls, and some follow religious news items. My own hobbies include rescuing pug dogs, cooking, reading, sci fi shows, creating a bird sanctuary in my back yard, flowers, reading Christian history and being a religious news junkie. Thus, this blog.

  34. Though after 27 years of doing so in 3 different congregations, I no longer attend a Southern Baptist church, their polity does interest me because of the trends in evangelical Christianity. The southern baptist convention is initiating and reflecting trends within conservative christianity I object to as not being representative of the faith I understand. It hurts my witness and my reputation. These trends include an explosion of focus on calvinistic leaders that seem exclusivistic, YEC only, extreme complimentariamism, and legalism . I do cosider myself a fairly a coservative Christian. The leadership has been ridiculous in harming the cause of the gospel unnecessarily so and by this many ,I believe have suffered.

  35. asachild

    Well stated. I, too, consider myself conservative but, in the eyes of these new “leaders” I am made out to be liberal. They are wrong. There is a reason that some Baptist churches are removing the word “Baptist” from the church name. Negative branding ala Amway which also needed to change its name about 20 years ago. Now that name has bad mojo so they are going back to Amway. Watch for something similar amongst the Baptists.

  36. asachild,

    Thanks for your excellent comment, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Dee and I will continue to follow developments in the SBC for as long as this blog exists. That’s a promise!

  37. Don’t get me wrong but in some ways the origin of Scriptures place males in a sense of greater liability as well. Whatever happened to chivalrous mentalities in our pulpit is beyond me?

  38. Gary, you mean as early as Genesis with Lamech and when the Dad was only too wlling to offer upe. his daughters to be raped in Sodom instead of the male guests. There are many examples of such “”chivalrous” behavior. Including Abraham giving his wife to the King’s harem.

  39. “I have relatives in all sorts of different Christian denominations. I guess all those denominations affect me somehow, but I don’t keep up with them.”

    As I said I have MANY in the SBC in various ways. The SBC impacts my life when I get in contact with most any relative. Plus the SBC want’s to change the country and world. Through faith yet, but also via legislation. And they have non trivial resources that they direct at those changes. Why should I just ignore them?

    What is your point? That we should all go away and leave the SBC alone because nothing it does will impact our lives?

  40. SBC makes money on the HCSB which is basically at the same place in the right / left axis. The leadership is to the right, and more Calvinist than the churches in general and sees the ESV as meeting the needs of the right wing. Tyndale is doing terrific stuff with the NLTse in terms of building a whole infrastructure of support. To the point that even someone who is a snotty about translation, like myself, would be hard pressed not to recommend this as the standard for most small group studies in evangelical churches; and seriously considering it as the pew bible.

    I’ve been saying for years once it became clear that Zondervan was, for political reasons, not going to be willing to defend the TNIV in a serious way, that I think Zondervan should admit defeat and just move left on their bible translation. The TNIV/NIV2011 is unfairly now seen as the left most bible evangelical bible because of the 1990s campaign. They can use that to their advantage rather than try and take half measures to apease the bullies.

    In terms of the mainline denominations:
    The NRSV is a good formal translation but there is clearly a demand for something more dynamic.
    The CEB is mostly unimpressive and its hard to imagine it getting an entire infrastructure of support literature.

    So IMHO Zondervan should push the TNIV/NIV2011 further left, which probably means nothing more than then some obvious verse revisions and then revise the study notes a bit, and there is a good quality left protestant mediating translation, with an entire infrastructure of support literature. And that’s an underserved market.

    I’m not sure why Zondervan is fighting so hard for 3rd place in the Evangelical market. Their evangelical books can be based on the HCSB or NLT depending on which they consider less problematic and then in a generation they can take another swing at being a publisher of the big number evangelical bible.

    Plus they own the rights to the AMP. Charismatics like the AMP and I suspect it could be pushed to that community or other communities if they gave up on winning the “standard translation” battle. A few million dollar promotional campaign with the AMP might do wonders in making that a bible of choice. Then we would be doing comparisons of the AMP to Nelson’s Expanded which AFAICT no one has really sunk their teeth into.