I will be posting a sidebar link to The Better Bibles Blog soon. I greatly appreciate the readable, informative, scholarly and calm approach used by Wayne Leman and his colleagues on that bog. Anyone interested in Bible translations should make a regular visit there.
Meanwhile, after reading their blog posts about Focus on the Family and the TNIV (Today's New International Version) debate, particularly Dobson's interview with Dr. Wayne Grudem, I listened to the broadcast via a link at FOTF. I was dismayed at the tone, and the fact that while Dobson admits there are differing views from "reputable Christian people," no attempt whatsoever was made to allow any sort of discussion on this admittedly "controversial" topic.
(How I wish people would stop calling this Bible translation "gender neutral." I have one, and I assure you it is no such thing.)
I wrote FOTF expressing my concern and suggesting they have someone from Zondervan on the program as well. Dr. Stan Gundry perhaps?
Here is their response:
Greetings from Focus on the Family.
It was good of you to share your reaction to our recent broadcast with Dr. Wayne Grudem, "The Problem with the _TNIV_" (October 26-27, 2005). Thoughtful, honest feedback like yours is always welcome here at Focus headquarters; as a matter of fact, we believe that the ministry's relationship with its constituents is never stronger than when it takes the form of a two-way conversation.
With regard to your assertion that this discussion was "imbalanced," we feel compelled to state the obvious - Dr. Dobson has very strong feelings on this subject. Accordingly, he has no interest whatsoever in presenting "both sides of the issue." It was never his intention to invite a mixed panel into the studio to debate the pros and cons of the _TNIV_. On the contrary, his goal from the very beginning was to inform, educate, and warn our listeners about what he regards as the *dangers* of this translation. Those who don't share his perspective are certainly free to publicize their views by any means available to them. But they shouldn't look to Dr. Dobson to provide them with a forum for arguing their case. That would be like expecting cattle producers to invite an animal-rights activist to address their national convention.
We hope that this reply has clarified our perspective for you. Thanks again for caring enough to contact us. Don't hesitate to let us know if we can be of any further assistance. God bless you.
Focus on the Family
Clarified their perspective? Well, yes indeed. Based on this letter, Dobson's intent was to "inform and educate" the public on--well--on his "strong feelings."
I don't agree with Dr. James Dobson on all issues, but I appreciate his fight against pornography and his desire to help families be healthy and strong. Dr. Dobson,in my opinion, has some valuable insights into psychological issues, and I have used some of his materials in the past. But he, by his own admission, is not a biblical scholar! Why should his "strong feelings" on biblical translation be authoritative? I am dismayed. Dobson is not, as one of my friends recently called him (tongue in cheek), "the Protestant pope." He is not the voice of authority on every topic. (No offense intended to any Roman Catholics reading this blog.)
It is increasingly clear that I can't tune in to Focus on the Family if I want to hear something a bit more reasoned than what Dr. Dobson happens to feel.
I am not saying I believe the TNIV has no flaws. I don't think a perfect Bible translation exists. Some of Grudem's comments deserve consideration--and for some lengthy but fascinating discussion, see the aforementioned blog.
But don't look to Focus on the Family for unbiased information. Be warned, Dr. Dobson thinks that sharing his opinion--in this case making some alarming remarks about the motives of reputable biblical scholars--is "educating" the public.
Christian people need to learn to think for ourselves. We are to study. We are to be right dividers of the Word of truth, according to 2 Tim. 2:15.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Since we are not all Greek and Hebrew scholars, when it comes to issues of linguistics and translation we need to hear from a variety of people who have some knowledge and expertise. We need to STOP looking to Chritian celebrity personalities, no matter how well-intentioned, to tell us what to believe and how to think. The implications are frightening.