21 Jun GS 1998 art 122
GS 1998 Article 122 – Appeals Regarding Bible Translations
Committee IV presents: Agenda item: III.J, III.AA.
Appeals from the churches at Elora and London regarding Acts of General Synod Abbotsford 1995, Art. 72.
These are appeals against a decision of a previous General Synod. They are declared admissible.
- A. The church at Elora appeals the decision of General Synod Abbotsford 1995 “to recommend the NIV for use within the churches” (Art. 72.V.b).
- B. The church at Elora requests that General Synod:
- 1. Rescind the decision of General Synod Abbotsford to recommend the NIV for use in the churches.
- 2. Form a new committee to study and recommend another translation to General Synod 2001, possibly giving attention to the NKJV since most of our sister churches in Australia use the NKJV.
- C. This request is based upon three arguments:
- 1. A lack of confidence in the NIV. The report to General Synod Smithville 1980 as well as the observations, considerations and recommendations recorded in the Acts of that synod spoke highly of the RSV but criticized the NIV. The consistory at Elora feels that “nothing has changed” since 1980, and therefore the criticism against the NIV still stands. The consistory at Elora also notes that although General Synod Abbotsford has recommended the NIV to the churches in 1995, widely diverging evaluations of the NIV continue to appear in Clarion.
- 2. The NIV is too free. This was the opinion of the Bible Translation Committee that reported to General Synod Smithville 1980. It was also the opinion of some people who sent letters to General Synod Abbotsford 1995 expressing concern on this matter. This seems to be the result of “the International Bible Society (IBS) desiring readibility and what they think the people and the churches want rather than accuracy.” They fear that if the IBS moves towards an ‘inclusive-language edition’, the present edition of the NIV may not be available for long.
- 3. The decision to recommend the NIV has created disunity within the federation and within the churches. Not all the churches have accepted the NIV.
- D. The church at London appeals the same decision of General Synod. This appeal is based on five grounds:
- 1. General Synod Abbotsford 1995 failed to interact with the observations and considerations that functioned in the decision made by General Synod Smithville 1980.
- 2. There is no “systematic attempt” in the Acts of Synod 1995 to “disprove the criticism of Synod 1980.” The mandate of the committee appointed in 1992 was specifically to make use of past studies.
- 3. The observations and considerations recorded in the Acts of General Synod Abbotsford 1995 even reiterate some of the criticism and the main concerns of General Synod Smithville 1980.
- 4. General Synod Abbotsford acknowledged that the NIV has some weaknesses, but dismisses them with the comment that “there is no such thing as a perfect translation.” London is of the opinion that “although this statement as such is true, it does not help in selecting the most faithful translation..”
- 5. General Synod Abbotsford did not interact with the objections that Dr. J. van Bruggen raised against the NIV in 1980.
- E. The church at London requests General Synod:
- 1. to rescind the decision of Synod 1995 Art. 72, V.B.
- 2. to mandate the Committee on Bible Translations to renew their study of the NIV in light of the above-mentioned objections and concerns.
- A. The decision of General Synod Abbotsford 1995 was based on an extensive report from the Committee on Bible Translations in which criticism brought against the NIV was addressed. The appellants have not brought up any specific matter which was considered to be important in 1980 but ignored in the report of the Committee of Bible Translations to General Synod Abbotsford 1995 (cf. pages 127,128).
- B. The CBT that reported to General Synod Abbotsford responded to the criticism that the NIV is too free with the observation that “a careful paraphrase is sometimes more accurate than a literal translation.” (Quoted from B. Holwerda: Report, page 9; see also appendices 1,3,5,6,9)
- C. Although uniformity of practice among the churches is desirable, this may take some time to develop. In the meantime, those churches that feel compelled to use another translation are free to do so.
- D. The church at London asserts, correctly, that General Synod Abbotsford 1995 did not interact explicitly with the decision of General Synod Smithville 1980. There was, however, interaction with the arguments that Synod Smithville used to reject the NIV (Acts, Art 72.III.B. 2.a,d). The CBT has dealt specifically with past studies (page 23, appendix 5) as well as “voices that were raised against the NIV” (pages 23,24, appendices 8 and 9).
- E. In 1980 both the majority report and the minority report of the Committee on Bible Translations recommended also allowing the use of the NIV in the worship services. This recommendation shows that the standpoint of the committees serving synod 1980 is not far removed from the decision of Synod Abbotsford 1995 recommending the NIV.
- F. It is not true that the Committee on Bible Translations failed to interact with Dr. J. van Bruggen. Reference to his criticism of the dynamic equivalent method of translating is found in the 1995 report (p.36,37).
- G. The assertion that ‘there is no such thing as a perfect translation’ should not be taken out of its context. It is meant to indicate that weaknesses as such are not a reason to reject a certain translation. This statement functions along with other considerations, leading in totality to the recommendation of the NIV for use in the churches.
To deny the appeals of the churches at Elora and London.