Of Christian Grace and Translation Wars
I begin this note with a tribute to a gracious Christian gentleman who passed into God’s presence on June 20. I refer to Kenneth S. Kantzer, longtime dean and professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL), former editor of Christianity Today magazine, and an unashamed egalitarian. It was Kantzer who introduced me to the apostle Junia and gave me an understanding of the New Testament teachings on equality. I have always regretted being unable to persuade him to find time to render his keynote address at the CBE conference in 1991 into publishable form. He will be missed by many of us in CBE as well as in the wider evangelical community.
This issue has several items of interest, starting with Christiane Carlson-Thies’s “Hermeneutics in Pink and Blue” (p. 20). Written as an open letter to a pastor in a denomination that denies women the opportunity to use all of their gifts within the church, it raises pertinent questions about wrong-headed hermeneutics that exist in many places. Kamilla Ludwig next looks at the work of a nineteenth-century writer ahead of his time, John Mill, and NT scholar David Scholer shares some significant things he has learned about women in ministry over forty years.
And don’t miss Alan Padgett’s “Is God Masculine?” (p, 16), which was prompted by Touchstone magazine’s editorial condemnation of the new gender-accurate Today’s NIV. He raises a number of important questions for the loyal opposition.
Church historian Martin Marty has observed that when The Living Bible was produced in 1971, critics saw some “large theological leaps” resulting from the publisher’s personal commitments:
“Salvation” came out “get to heaven.” To a theological purist, changing concepts from “salvation” to “get to heaven” is greater than changing “him” to “him or her” or “them,” but the protesters did not protest then because neither church politics nor political politics was at issue. They are now. In respect to the desire by “inerrantists” to assure an “inerrant” tradition, one might say inerrantly that in the nature of language there can be no such thing. With the new version [TNIV], there is another war on. Let the battles begin!
The Christian Science Monitor (April 1, 2002)
It makes me sad that so many angry words have been spilled about a new translation of Holy Scripture. This is, after all, God’s Word, and it must surely grieve the heart of God to see his children squabbling over how one is allowed to communicate his message to this generation of English-speaking people. I can only hope that in the end people will have the mind of Paul, who, while deploring some who preached Christ from questionable motives (Phil 1:15-18), could still rejoice that the good news was being proclaimed. Couldn’t we all agree that the end result of men and women receiving the truth of God’s Word into their hearts—whatever translation they’ve read—is the ultimate goal?
Finally, please take time to read the thoughts expressed by the women in ministry in the Japanese Baptist Convention (p. 20), and then remember to pray for them. They are in a difficult place.