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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Focus on the Family responds to question about Grudem broadcasts

Soon after the Focus on the Family radio broadcasts of Oct. 26 and 27 which featured Dr. Grudem's continued attacks on the TNIV, I emailed FOTF:
Subject header: Where was the opportunity for responses to Dr. Grudem?

My wife and I have long appreciated FOTF's ministry to the family. We are on your mailing list and receive your publications. But we are deeply grieved that you only presented one side in the debate over the TNIV. In the interest of fairness and biblical grace, it would have been proper to include godly responses from one of the many scholars who question Dr. Grudem's statements. Our own attempt to try to bring greater fairness to the debate are on our blog today, with a response from Dr. Stan Gundry. You can read the response at url:

We agree with FOTF that the choice of a Bible Christians use is very important. But there was much falsity presented by Dr. Grudem in your broadcasts, not deliberately, but because he has some theological and linguistic presuppositions which are not mainstream orthodoxy within conservative evangelicalism. Godly scholars who share FOTF's commitment to the family and God's Word have been trying to address the misunderstanding that Dr. Grudem has, but it becomes more difficult when influential programs like FOTF only host Dr. Grudem. We would request that you also present responses from committed conservatives who can help you understand where Dr. Grudem is in error and misleading millions of Christians, including those who listen to FOTF broadcasts.
Today I received their response. It looks like a boiler plate reply. I am awaiting permission from FOTF to post their response publicly. Until then I can summarize that the key section states that Dr. Dobson has no intention of inviting other points of view about the TNIV to be presented on his radio program. Their reply states that Dr. Dobson has very strong views about the TNIV and he wants to educate the public and warn them about what he considers the dangers of the TNV.

SingingOwl has also received a reply from FOTF and she has blogged about it.

I find it sad that a radio broadcaster with so much influence as Dr. Dobson has, apparently, has not taken the time to carefully study whether or not the TNIV is truly accurate or not. He started out his radio broadcasts with Dr. Grudem by again stating what he has stated in the past, that he is not a Bible scholar and that he depends on others to help him understand Bible translation issues. It seems clear that he has decided which Bible scholars to consult for advice. History has many examples of people who have made choices like this, and history will judge whether or not the opponents of the TNIV have based their attacks on factual evidence or not.

I think it would be a very interesting study to thoroughly compare the communicative accuracy of the translation which Dr. Grudem worked on, the ESV, with the translation he opposes, the TNIV. From the standpoint of English quality, I know that the TNIV has no obsolete negative inversions found in the ESV and far fewer linguistic problems for current speakers of English than the ESV does. I hope that comparative accuracy studies can be done and distributed so that many people can make more informed decisions than they could just by listening to the Focus on the Family broadcasts about the TNIV.

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At Thu Nov 17, 03:20:00 AM, Blogger Joe said...

Thank you for responding to Dr. Dobson's program.

I think Dr. Dobson is sincere, but sometimes he "trusts" the wrong people with the "Bible scholarship" of his organization.

His program is usually a blessing, and for the most, part seeks to encourage families in their Christian walk.

In this case, he may have been overly zealous in his efforts.

At Thu Nov 17, 03:48:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Thu Nov 17, 06:17:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

All this will do is delay the inevitable: People want a Bible in their heart language. And I mean in sentences that are the way they think and speak.

That's the way it is. It's not a matter of accomodating something evil. God already accomodated culture- both fallen and in his image- both in the giving of Scripture in the first place (in common language) and in God becoming one of us.

The ESV does not do that. Though I still would recommend it to those who insist on a "literal" translation.

At Thu Nov 17, 06:30:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said... accomodating fallen culture, I am not saying with reference to sin, but with reference to the effects of sin/ the fall.

Many evangelicals/fundamentalists seem to forget that all people are made in God's image...and that "world" in
Scripture depends on context. It is good or evil depending on what is meant in Scripture- fallen system or "flesh" compared to God's good creation. Things are not so black and white. More interwoven. So that people lost, are still made in God's image.

I say this only to clarify my previous comment.

At Thu Nov 17, 08:46:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter Kirk said...

SingingOwl, in her blog post on this subject, mentions that some people call Dr James Dobson "the Protestant pope." Well, if there is any truth in this, I wonder if his "excommunication" of TNIV and its supporters may be as significant in the long run as the real 16th century pope's excommunication of Luther and rejection of Protestant reformation ideas. For it seems to me that Dobson is driving a deliberate wedge through the heart of evangelicalism. If this attitude persists, it could lead to a lasting schism between ultra-conservatives who continue to follow their "Protestant pope" and anotehr group, to whom I hesitate to give a label, who consider that the presentation of the gospel has to be kept in step with culture, including language change. The effect of such a schism would be profound, and horrific. But if this is not what Dr Dobson wants, he needs to modify his attitude and seek reconciliation.

At Thu Nov 17, 09:27:00 AM, Blogger Tim said...

How sad, when a good ministry goes bad. I've used a series that Dobson sponsored "That the World May Know" as a great teaching tool to assist students beginning with the Old Testament, but to deliberately ensure that only one (innacurate) view on an important issue gets air time and to do it in such a way as to try to ensure that the Bibkles we read are less accurate as representations of what the inspired writers wrote and intended is plain wrong.

Thank you Wayne for your efforts to ensure that other wiews are heard, and in such a reasonable tone too!

At Thu Nov 17, 09:30:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Wayne and Peter, I do buy into the idea of a possible schism between "evangelicals" who embrace a "religious right" agenda, and those who embrace a kingdom of God vision in Jesus. I can't help but draw a line that way, myself.

The point I'm trying to make is that this potential parting of the ways has to do more than with the TNIV.

The fight they wage against the TNIV is directly related to their "Christian right" agenda. Against feminism, etc, in their eyes.

Certainly there are those more on the "right" who would support the TNIV. But I think in general surely this is just part of the culture war those on that side are fighting.

At Thu Nov 17, 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

I do need to add to this, however, that I believe where one comes down on this translation issue should be in terms of translation philosophy, etc. And you certainly find people on both sides that break the stereotype/generality I set on my previous comment.

At Thu Nov 17, 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

I think in an earlier comment, "accomodation" has truth in it, but I believe that God is doing more than just that. In a true sense translating needs to be incarnational- both fully human as well as fully from God.

To be fully human I would think would mean that God will speak to us in our language, not in some special alien language. In becoming one of us Jesus did the same.

I will end my blogging here for now, as I have done more than enough.

At Thu Nov 17, 12:49:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Wayne, thank you for restoring my comment, which I believe you deleted by mistake. But you did not restore the URL for SingingOwl's blog post, which is

At Thu Nov 17, 12:53:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Ted, I agree with your point that the possible schism would be based on more than just translation issues. But perhaps this translation issue could be a clear and specific reason for a parting of the ways, as among evangelicals the translation one uses is one of the clearest touchstones of ones allegiance.

At Thu Nov 17, 01:41:00 PM, Blogger SingingOwl said...

Peter and all, I hate to think of the ramifications of such a schism. But I can say that for me this is an issue about which I could not keep quiet. I'm not a letter writer usually, and while I go on a rant once in a while...ahem...well, something is different about this. I was angry, grieved, insulted and sad by turns. I suppose I have never seen quite such a clear line drawn in the sand, so to speak.

At Thu Nov 17, 02:14:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Wayne, thank you for restoring my comment, which I believe you deleted by mistake. But you did not restore the URL for SingingOwl's blog post, which is

Yes, Peter, I was unable to restore the link because it was was hidden behind the plain text which I was able to rescue. I emailed you, hoping you could restore the entire comment including the link.

At Thu Nov 17, 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

No problem, Wayne. I got your e-mail, but then found that you had restored the text - which was good, because I had no record of it. But I still had SingingOwl's blog open in another tab so I could restore the URL. Glad we can bear one another's burdens here, dare I even say "submit" to one another?

At Thu Nov 17, 04:57:00 PM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Peter, you wrote: "...perhaps this translation issue could be a clear and specific reason for a parting of the ways, as among evangelicals the translation one uses is one of the clearest touchstones of ones allegiance."

Dobson and company certainly treat this as a nonnegotiable issue.

It's a losing battle they're in, I believe. I just can't see a translation like the ESV holding water any better than the KJV, NKJV or NASB has. Sure, they have their adherents. But the TNIV and the like (more on communicating the meaning side, versus word for word) will win the day, I believe.

And God is bigger than any honest lexical errors or misjudgments. The Spirit is still at work to help God's people. The sky is not falling, like Dobson and company (with all due respect to them) seem to think- across the board today.

I think we must be careful not to be drawn into a same kind of sense that for us the sky is falling, though in an opposite direction- because of the attacks leveled against the Bible we may use. We should continue to pursue the truth and enjoy and promote God's Word from the translation we've chosen.

At the same time, as I've said before, I'm glad for all the work you guys do- including the debate and discussion side. We're the willing beneficiaries of it. Thanks brothers.


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