World Magazine, Unisex, Zondervan, etc.

Southern Baptist publication WORLD Magazine has been unjustly maligned for exposing the NIV / Zondervan / International Bible Societies' plan to publish the Language Inclusive (Unisex) NIVI in the United States. The history of this controversy is available on the WORLD home page at: (Archives: since March 29)

Because of this exposure and subsequent intervention by Dr. James Dobson, plans for the NIVI have reportedly been scrapped. However, Zondervan, publisher of the NIV in the U.S., at once reported WORLD Magazine to the Evangelical Press Association for alleged violation of journalistic ethics.

The EPA found WORLD's editorial viewpoint to be "one-sided and dismissive of responsible alternatives." The Ethics Committee joined with the powerful secular Zondervan Corp., which is not a member of the EPA, in reprimanding WORLD although Joel Belz, WORLD's publisher, had been previous president of the EPA. Not one word of disapproval was registered concerning the NIV / Zondervan / IBS scheme of altering the Word of God and concealing plans to publish a gender-neutral NIV. The EPA ad hoc ethics committee report and WORLD's response to the EPA report are available at:

The controversial WORLD article, entitled "Femme Fatale: The Feminist Seduction of the Evangelical Church," demonstrated a connection between the feminist movement within the evangelical church and the deliberate revision of the NIV and RSV to accommodate a feminist agenda. Although Zondervan vehemently denied any complicity with feminism, the publisher maintains an alliance with the Willow Creek Association, which is comprised of nearly 1,200 member churches from 19 countries, representing 70 denominations. The founding church, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill. was the focus of the WORLD article as a primary promoter of feminism in the evangelical church today. See:

To ascertain the position of the NIV on the issue of feminism, it worth noting that Dr. Virginia Mollenkott, an acknowledged lesbian and radical feminist was a member of the original NIV translation committee. Dr. Mollenkott documented her lesbian creed in a book, "Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?" which was published in 1978 -- the same year the New International Version was released. The "Homosexuality And Religion" Home Page describes this book as "the only book of its kind - a powerful, informative and compassionate wake-up call for Christians to reexamine their attitudes toward gay and lesbian people. This is a classic work calling Christians to love and acceptance - newly revised to reflect today's crucial issues." Dr. Mollenkott argues that the Sodom account in Genesis does not teach the evil of homosexuality, but rather of violent gang rape and inhospitality to strangers. The book also claims that "the idea of a life long homosexual orientation or 'condition' is never mentioned in the Bible" (p. 71), and that Romans 1 does not "fit the case of a sincere homosexual Christian" (p. 62).

It is not unfair to assume that Dr. Mollenkott's contribution to the NIV may account for the irrelevant or euphemistic terminology used for sins such as 'sodomy' and 'fornication.' Lending support to gay/lesbian tolerance, the NIV has changed the term "sodomite," in Deut. 23:17 to "temple prostitute." Since the term "temple prostitute" is foreign to Western culture, the verse is rendered meaningless to modern man. There may be many sincere, lifelong "sodomites" in our land who are not "temple prostitutes," however these will remain unconvicted and unconverted by such readings in the NIV. I Tim. 1:10 uses the general, indefinite term - "perverts" in the NIV - instead of the more specific "them that defile themselves with mankind" (KJV). Eph. 5:5 substitutes "immoral person" in the NIV for "whoremonger" (KJV). The casual reader of the NIV will probably not consider that imprecise terms such as "perverts" and "immoral" can subtly be redefined as the moral standards and laws of a society change. Recall that gay rights activists, Kirk and Pill, propose to replace the mainstream's self-righteous pride about its homophobia with shame and guilt, calling their strategy "transforming the social values of straight America." ("The Overhauling of Straight America," Guide Magazine, Nov., 1987)

Virginia Mollenkott's Internet Home Page discloses her affiliation with the ultra-liberal National Council of Churches and mentions among her publications An Inclusive Language Lectionary -- a book of Scripture readings which addresses God in feminine terms:

"She is the author of 11 books, including Women, Men, and the Bible; Godding: Human Responsibility and the Bible; and Sensuous Spirituality: Out from Fundamentalism, both available from The Crossroad Publishing Company in New York City. She served as stylistic consultant for the New International Version of the Bible and was a member of the National Council of Churches committee to prepare An Inclusive Language Lectionary: Readings for Years A, B, and C. Dr Mollenkott is currently a Professor of English at William Paterson College of New Jersey."

At a news conference at the NCC's governing board meeting on November 10, 1983, Dr. Mollenkott claimed there is some evidence that Jesus Christ was really a woman. She cited the research of biologist Edward Kessel, who argued that Jesus was "born in parthenogenesis; that parthenogenetic births are always female; that in some cases, therefore, he would be willing to refer to Jesus as 'she' -- up until the last minute of sex reversal, in which case Jesus remains chromosomally female throughout life, but functions as a normal male and looks like a normal male'" (Christian Challenge, August 1984).

At the November 1993 Re-imagining Conference sponsored by the World Council of Churches, Dr. Mollenkott stated that she considers God to be an abusive parent: "[Jesus] is our elder brother, the trailblazer and constant companion for us--ultimately is among many brothers and sisters in an eternal, equally worthy sibling-hood. First born only in the sense that he was the first to show us that it is possible to live in oneness with the divine source while we are here on this planet. ... As an incest survivor, I can no longer worship in a theological context that depicts God as an abusive parent [referring to Christ's death on the cross] and Jesus as the obedient, trusting child."

In the Episcopal Witness (June 1991, pp. 20-23), Dr. Mollenkott and her co-author were asked, "Why was it important to both of you to come out as lesbians?" She replied: "My lesbianism has always been a part of me. I tried to kill myself in my teens because they told me I'd never be healed, that God had no use for people like me. I couldn't stand the thought of living a life that was useless and offensive to God. I tried to be heterosexual. I married myself off. But what I did ultimately realize was that God created me as I was, and that this is where life was meaningful."

The Book Index on the Zondervan web site also offers numerous books on New Age/occultic and gay/lesbian literature. Last spring, the Zondervan Index listed copious works by Jiddu Krishnamurti, the former Messiah of the Theosophical Society, other questionable books such as Now Zen, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing, The New Joy of Gay Sex and assorted books by New Age authors such as Madeline L'Engle and Sam Keen. This particular site is no longer available, although Zondervan still offers much occult and gay/lesbian reading fare -- -- go to Bookshelf at bottom of page, then occult/parapsychology and social sciences categories.

Zondervan Publishing House was purchased in 1988 by Harper & Row Publishers, a secular publishing house. One year later, Harper merged with another secular publisher, Collins, to become HarperCollinsPublisher. According to Zondervan's web page, "Zondervan and HarperCollins form one of the largest English religious publishing concerns in the world." Billionaire pornographer Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox TV's Bart Simpson and Married With Children programs, is now the owner of HarperCollins and thus owns the printing rights to the New International Version. We recently learned from a brother-in-law, who works for a major TV network, that Rupert Murdoch is quietly buying up the communications industry.

Zondervan still publishes a language inclusive version, the NIrV, which is written at a third grade reading level for children and semi-literate adults. Although this version is gender-neutral, it is not labeled as such, and is used by David C. Cook who publishes the popular Sunday School material. An Inclusive Language NIV has been published in Great Britain since 1995 by Hodder & Stoughton/IBS. It may be that Zondervan/IBS are planning to wait a few more years (until the church is more sympathetic toward feminist theology) to publish the inclusive language NIV in the U.S. International Bible Society President, Lars Dunberg recently made the following statement to the Priscilla Papers, a publication of Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization which supports female leadership in the Church:

"Zondervan and IBS will publish an inclusive version of the NIV in the American market. It is not clear yet if that will be done before the major revision that IBS has been working on with the Committee on Bible Translation, which has been going on for the last five-six years. It may be that the next edition will include all those changes, and in that case will not be released until the year 2000. These things are still being debated; that's why we have not been public with it." (Lars Dunberg, Priscilla Papers, April 19, 1997).

Zondervan also publishes the New Revised Standard Version, which is language inclusive. Last December, the NRSV was distributed to the 20,000 young people and adults who attended Urbana '96, InterVarsity's 18th Student Mission Conference. The following excerpt was taken from the March report of the American Council of Christian Churches on the Urbana '96 Conference:

"Each person attending, including the press, was given a packet which included a special copy of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. The American Bible Society, which gave the Bibles, had printed in the flyleaf 'We at the American Bible Society are happy to join hands with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to provide you with this Bible. This edition is being funded by the generous gifts of donors who support the American Bible Society Mission.'

"In the foreword to the Bible, written by Bruce Metzger for the committee of translators, was the declaration 'The King James Version has serious defects.' Also, 'The Revised Standard Version Bible Committee is a continuing body, comprising about thirty members, both men and women. Ecumenical in representation, it includes scholars affiliated with various Protestant denominations, as well as several Roman Catholic members, an Eastern Orthodox member, and a Jewish member who serves in the Old Testament section."Also found in the front of this Bible was the copyright owned by the liberal National Council of Churches (NCC). The NCC reaps the financial benefit of royalties coming from the sale of this corrupt version of God's Word."

WORLD Magazine reported in June that a joint gathering of all parties involved witnessed IBS and Zondervan executives signing a statement acknowledging "serious problems with the translating approach employed in the development of the gender-neutral NIV." Nevertheless, IBS and Zondervan officials have continued to defend the accuracy of the NIVI and the NIrV. Pastor John Piper, who presented verses in which the language inclusive versions de-gendered Jesus Christ, said, "This statement is certainly not the end of the issue. It is auspicious for improvements in translation." ("Bailing Out of the Stealth Bible"

The NIV's problems did not begin with the NIVI and the NIrV. Rather, the culprit is the "eclectic" translation method used by the NIV Committee on Bible Translation. The original NIV committee was chaired by the same Kenneth Barker who led the revision which produced the NIVI and NIrV. According to "The NIV Story," by Burton Goddard, the CBT does not confine itself to one printed text of ancient or modern writings, but privately determines, based on their evidence, what readings are true or genuine. In addition to its primary selections, the NIV committee decided to include alternative readings in footnote form to acquaint the reader with other interpretations. And in some extended portions of Scripture, liberty was taken to introduce verses not well-attested by manuscript evidence. (The NIV Story, Burton Goddard, Vantage Press, 1989, p. 37) It should become apparent, after this recent episode, that allowing translators such freedom in translation provides considerable opportunity for private interpretations. For more information on the translation methods used in various Bible versions, please refer to Another Bible, Another Gospel:

In the January issue of the Prophetic Observer, Noah Hutchings observed the enormous power exerted by the secular publishing houses which now control the marketing of Christian literature: "Most publishers of Christian books will no longer accept a manuscript unless the author uses one of the newer versions, preferably one in which the publisher has a financial interest." The following article by David Hall of the Covenant Syndicate is a commentary on the shameful cover-up and betrayal of journalistic principles by the Evangelical Press Association at the behest of this powerful secular publishing conglomerate.

Barbara Aho

Watch Unto Prayer

This also forwarded to us by Barb Aho.


David W. Hall (

It probably shows in my writing. I was trained in liberal theory, philosophy, and theology. I have not always written political commentary. That avocation has come lately. However, having done a few analyses of political behavior, I think I know one when I see one. A political hatchet of the sharpest order is aimed, as we speak, at the head of a fine little Christian journal.Several evangelical organizations have recently ganged up on a small, young magazine - which best I can tell has simply told the truth - and the journalistic harassment has all the signs of big time politics. WORLD magazine in Asheville, NC blew the lid off of plans by the publisher (hereafter known as Zondervan) to release a "gender-neutral" version (for those of you in Rio Linda, that's one that removes "he/his" and other masculine references to human personality) of the most popular version of the Bible (the New International Version). WORLD had the conscience and gall to blow the whistle and inform its 86,000 circulation that Zondervan, long-trusted as a leading evangelical publisher, already had sponsored such a version in England and was planning one for 2001 in the United States.

The objection from the journalists at WORLD was: No journalist has the right to change the words of the speaker, even to make a point. God wrote the Bible; hence, to seek to change his original words, especially if merely to conform to the latest gender fad that should be history after a few decades of silly experimentation, is unethical - even if the largest evangelical Bible publishers wants to do it.

In response, the spin doctors from several groups rose to attack WORLD and worked the press and the committees of the evangelical curia with the adroitness of the DNC's recent attempts to blunt criticisms that it accepted illegal foreign contributions. First, the spin-doctors from Zondervan sent criticisms directly to WORLD, and posted lengthy commentary on their own Web site - which according to Joel Belz, publisher of WORLD, was hard to answer since it kept changing in its early versions. Zondervan quickly accused WORLD of being 'unethical' for not, among other things, letting them have rebuttal time and for misrepresenting facts. One of the purported misrepresentations was when WORLD spoke of a three page document, and Zondervan excoriated them for inaccuracy since the document was only 2.4 pp.

Gimme a break. If that's the best Zondervan can do, maybe WORLD is right. Then the next issue of WORLD ran actual differences and featured interviews with several original translators, supporting WORLD's allegations to the jot and tittle. Editor Marvin Olasky publicly apologized for mistakes committed, but to his credit stuck to his guns. He was right. Finally, clean-up hitter James Dobson came to bat, wrote a guest editorial for WORLD, knocked it out of the park, and withdrew a Focus on the Family edition that unwittingly used the ideologically driven translation. In a post-game gathering, Dobson called several other All Stars to his office, and a united group of conservatives urged Zondervan to pull the publication. Zondervan ran up the white flag on May 27th, but still thought WORLD was a big meanie.

As further retaliation, Zondervan filed ethics charges against WORLD with the Evangelical Press Association (EPA), which had elected Belz as President for the past two years. Worthy of note, Zondervan is not even a member of the EPA; and the EPA hardly defended its own member. A committee was appointed by what WORLD views as partisan competitors, but most egregious: the appointment process was not according to the EPA's own bylaws. The kangaroo court then released its report to the public (without even allowing WORLD a chance to see it first) and did not, as bylaws specify, go first to the EPA Board. WORLD is calling for an emergency Board meeting to repudiate the report and the process.

One of WORLD's chief sins, according to the EPA committee report was that it was "one-sided and dismissive of responsible alternatives." According to the oooh-sooo-sensitive EPA committee, WORLD was mean when it spoke of a "feminist seduction," "unisex language," and "stealth Bible"; yet, not once has Zondervan proven WORLD to be malicious or inaccurate. The EPA Ministry of Truth has even recommended (contrary to the First Amendment) that WORLD should "publish a full account, with equal prominence, of the position taken by Zondervan . . ." Yeah, and Rush Limbaugh will start sharing time with Barney Frank.

When the DNC does such things, the conservative press cries "Foul." I am hard pressed to see much difference between the PR war waged by Zondervan and the EPA and the partisan discourse of the DNC when it encourages Paula Jones' sexual history to be explored (because she alleges sexual harassment of the Liberal-in-Chief), or when a Senate investigation into misdeeds of the DNC in 1996 tries to refocus the attention of Americans to the misdeeds of Republicans. Zondervan's activity is politically similar to a defense of John Huang that goes:"We all made mistakes; we're not admitting mistakes, but we can't understand why those mean old bullies at _________ are Asian-bashing." To spin the story to spotlight the messenger's flaws instead of facing real issues is, by now, standard fare for politicians on the ropes.

Evidently, some evangelical groups (now owned by larger secular corporations) have learned how to play politics . . . just like the world. If their political defenses are similar, could it be attributable to drinking from the same well?

Publisher Belz explains why WORLD is being targeted in a forthcoming editorial: "It is because of the perverse assumption now so dominant among evangelicals that feelings, attitudes, and relationships are all more important than truth. Unity is a higher priority than orthodoxy. Division, even for truth's sake, becomes the most offensive of heresies. Church officers who call for church discipline are thought to be more guilty than those who need to be disciplined."

However, lest I become the object of an Inquisition for writing this piece, I offer equal time to any of the partisans who want to interact with WORLD's contentions of July 7th (copies available), I explicitly deny that I had any bias whatsoever in this or any other reporting, and I deny that I used inflammatory language or failed to kiss the enemy, or any of the other accusations of affect alleged about WORLD.

Just to be safe from an EPA McCarthy commission I also hereby resign from the EPA. I prefer association with the EPA's past president and others who tell the truth, defend it when questioned, and continue to shine the light in places that may not be politically correct.


The Covenant Syndicate is presently distributed as a free service to media outlets and select electronic distribution lists. If you enjoy this, feel free to recommend these to your local newspaper for inclusion. For permission to reprint, contact David Hall at:

Bible's language riles evangelicals

By Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Tinkering with the Bible has always been controversial.

In 1536, William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating and printing the holy book in English.

Release of the King James Version in 1611 sparked such a furor that the Pilgrims refused to take it on the Mayflower. They stuck instead with the Geneva Bible. Still, the KJV won out, eventually becoming the beloved standard among Protestants for more than three centuries.

In the 1960s, when Kenneth Taylor worried that his children weren't understanding what they read in the Bible, he produced The Living Bible. He faced a torrent of criticism, but his venture later grew into Tyndale Publishing House.

Now, in a world of 70 English translations and a multiplicity of specialty Bibles, a new translation of the perennial bestseller is again causing a ruckus. This time the controversy has flared within the evangelical community, the largest US market for the scriptures, over gender-inclusive language. Some conservatives vigorously oppose changes they claim are being made for the sake of political correctness.

The International Bible Society (IBS) decided that the most popular Bible of recent decades the New International Version (NIV), with 150 million copies sold since 1978 needed updating to communicate the word accurately in "the language of the day." Earlier this year it announced publication of Today's New International Version (TNIV), with the New Testament to debut this month, and the Old Testament in 2005.

"Everyone should have access to the transforming power of God's Word in language they can understand and relate to," said Ronald Youngblood, board chairman of IBS, which since 1810 has sponsored translations in 600 languages.

The glitch, however, was that back in 1997, the society had promised not to do it. Their plan then to prepare a gender-inclusive revision sparked a firestorm of criticism from such influential conservatives as James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, who branded the effort a capitulation to feminists. After discussions, the society and its commercial publisher, Zondervan, backed down on their plan.

But then they had a change of heart. "It came down to fulfilling our mission," says Larry Lincoln, communications director at IBS. "People don't speak the same way now they did 30 years ago and we needed to offer another choice for today's generation."

Only 7 percent of the NIV was changed, Mr. Lincoln says, and less than 2 percent of changes relate to gender. Most are to clarify passages or update English, referring to Mary as "pregnant," for instance, rather than "with child." Male terminology for God is retained, and inclusive language is used only in situations where it was the original intent for example, "sons of God" becomes "children of God," and "brothers" becomes "brothers and sisters." Another change with import for interfaith relations involves using more specific language; references to "the Jews," for instance, become "Jewish leaders."

Lincoln says the society has already gotten e-mails from pastors across the US saying, "Thank you for finally doing this I've been making these changes in the pulpit for years."

A group of 35 evangelical scholars, however, quickly issued a statement decrying "inaccuracies that introduce ... distortions of meaning" and saying the new work "should not be commended to the church." Mr. Dobson called it "a step backward."

Their review of the text was sponsored by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a group which affirms that "distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order." Their website describes some "100 inaccuracies."

The controversy has apparently not dampened interest in the new translation. "We've moved up the distribution date because retailers are so excited to sell it," says Emily Leuthner of Zondervan.

"I'm sure there will be a market for it, because inclusive language is important to many people," says Amy Ward, manager of the Massachusetts Bible Society bookstore. Demand for Bibles there splits evenly among the NIV, New Revised Standard Version, and the King James.

Zondervan, the world's largest Bible publisher, sold 7.1 million last year. Specialty Bibles have surged in popularity. The Extreme Word Bible for teenagers was the No. 7 bestseller in Christian bookstores last year. The Encouragement Bible for people facing loss came out in February, partly in response to Sept. 11. Among general translations, the Christian Booksellers Association's top sellers were the NIV, the King James, the New King James, and the New Living translation.

At Fellowship Emanuel Bookstore in Boston, which caters to urban churches, manager Sara Mitchell says the King James remains the clear favorite, then the NIV. One customer so far has asked about the TNIV, but not necessarily to buy it.

Same verses, three versions

Here is a familiar Bible passage as it appears in three different translations:

Hebrews 1:1, 2.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
King James

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.
New Revised Standard

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Today's New International

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