After confessing deficiencies and missteps, the Evangelical Press Association (EPA) has closed out its inquiry into the allegation that World magazine was journalistically unethical in reporting about changes in the New International Version of the Bible.

"Our current Code of Ethics and our process for dealing with complaints are inadequate," the EPA said in an October 26 statement. "Therefore we have decided to conclude EPA's involvement in this case without rendering judgment."

Zondervan Publishers and the International Bible Society (IBS) filed an ethics complaint with the EPA regarding World 's reports on moves to revise the New International Version using "inclusive language" (CT, June 16, 1997, p. 52). The magazine began with a March 29 cover story, "Femme Fatale: The Feminist Seduction of the Evangelical Church."

A three-member ad hoc panel appointed by the EPA scolded the magazine for falling "seriously short of upholding the EPA code" for journalistic accuracy (CT, Aug. 11, 1997, p. 58). But the EPA later admitted to "major errors" in its handling of the dispute and vowed to start afresh (CT, Sept. 1, 1997, p. 98).

In the October 26 statement, EPA again admitted violating its own bylaws by choosing ad hoc committee members who did not belong to the EPA and for releasing the report before it had been reviewed by the board. "As a result of these errors, the EPA board of directors determined that the report of its original ad hoc committee had no standing," the EPA said.

"At this point, a judgment of right or wrong by EPA will accomplish no good thing," the statement continued.

IBS publisher Dean Merrill expressed disappointment. "It's quite a switcheroo," he said. "The first panel said one thing, and now the board says, 'Well, we'd rather not deal with this.' "

World publisher Joel Belz says the magazine is grateful that EPA will not pursue the matter further. "World accepts the EPA board's exhortation that we conduct our journalistic task with charity."

The EPA says it will focus on revising bylaws to handle such complaints better in the future.

December 8, 1997 Vol. 41, No. 14, Page 62

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