An everlasting help in trouble...
[NOTE FROM TIM: David posted this article on Baylyblog back in 2007.]
(David) An old lion of the US Congress used to tell young congressmen, “A lie is an offense against Almighty God and an everlasting help in time of trouble.”
Tim has written on the history of the English Standard Version below. Let me state as circumspectly as Christian brotherhood allows the message he’s so carefully (and thus verbosely) delivered: when it comes to money, influence and standing, Christian leaders are as prone to temptation as the leaders of Apple, CBS and the US Congress. Greed and desire for status have led to economy of truth becoming the consistent practice of many Evangelical leaders.
In fact, in an Evangelical community which often views charges of dishonesty against its leaders as negatively as dishonesty itself, leaders are sometimes quicker to to lie than in the secular world because the Christian press, unlike the secular press, is often muzzled in revealing them.
In the late 90s I wrote on Bible translation for World Magazine. My first articles came in the days immediately following World’s “Stealth Bible” expose of Zondervan Publishing House and the International Bible Society’s (IBS) plans for a gender neutral NIV.
The first scholar I spoke to—a long-time officer of IBS’s Committee on Bible Translation—openly admitted that work on a gender neutral NIV was the product of market pressures. Hodder and Stoughton, the British publisher of the NIV, approached IBS about the possibility of a gender neutral NIV because of a loss of NIV market share to the gender neutral New Revised Standard Version. The result was the Committee on Bible Translation's decision to proceed with a gender neutral NIV.
Of course, once PR-speak dominated the fray following the World expose, Zondervan and IBS’s oft-repeated official stance was that “market forces” had never played any role in its decisions regarding Bible translation.
Every time I read that claim I laughed in disbelief. It was a bold, bald-faced lie. As a result I never threw out my notes from the interview. It’s quixotic, I know. The controversy is long dead and no one really seems to care if Christian leaders lie so long as the lie serves a "good" end. In fact, in a perverse way, we’re rather pleased to live in a world where Christian organizations earn enough money and have enough influence to look and act like CBS and the US Congress.
Truth has fallen in the Evangelical public square and no one wishes to help her stand. Lies by leaders are common and the Evangelical public is inured to them—almost comforted by them. We prefer reassuring lies to ugly truths. What disturbs us most is someone calling a lie what it is.
So let it be known: the ESV arose directly, immediately and incontrovertibly out of the controversy over the inclusive NIV. To deny this is to deny what Tim has very carefully and guardedly shown to be undeniably true. But let me add that when I hear men in the know say the ESV was under consideration and being planned long before the “Stealth Bible” controversy arose it’s the shame at the heart of the lie that I find most troubling. Why lie about something so obvious and so documented? The answer is clear: the lie covers embarrassment over the ESV’s origins. The lie papers over the ESV’s roots in the movement opposed to the inclusive NIV. Ultimately, the lie is told to keep feminists from rejecting the ESV and it reveals complementarianism’s venal and cowardly kowtowing to feminism’s influence. The scandal in all this is what those who lie are ashamed of: what they’re hiding—and revealing about themselves—is the most troubling truth of all.