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Southern Baptists have asked their denomination-owned retail chain to stop selling a best-selling Bible translation, saying it contains errors when it comes to language about gender.

Church delegates—known as messengers—passed a resolution at their June annual meeting in Phoenix criticizing the 2011 update to the New International Version (NIV) as an "inaccurate translation of God's inspired Scripture." They asked LifeWay Christian Resources not to sell the NIV 2011, which avoids using male terms in passages where context suggests that both genders are intended, except where the pronoun in question has messianic allusions.

"This is as big as it gets," said Jim Overton of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana. "This is the word of God. … As Southern Baptists, I don't think we have the luxury of not speaking to this important issue."

But the convention's resolution committee disagreed. They declined Overton's resolution when it was first submitted to them.

Committee member Russell Moore, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told delegates that he has concerns about the new NIV but didn't think it "rose to the level of needing to be addressed by this year's convention."

Moore authored a 2002 resolution against a previous update, Today's New International Version (TNIV), which asked LifeWay not to sell that product. In that case, LifeWay's leadership decided not to sell the edition.

The TNIV was a publishing flop, in part because of opposition by groups like Focus on the Family and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

That opposition was part theological and part personal.

Critics felt like the Committee on Biblical Translation (CBT), which produced the NIV and TNIV, had broken a promise ...

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August 2011

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