Responses (3): It all depends on whose ox is gored...

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(This is the third in a series responding to critics of my post pointing out Denny Burk is wrong and the Atlantic got it right in their reporting that Southern Baptists' Christian Standard Bible is gender-neutered.)

Honestly, you can't make this stuff up!

Seven years ago, back before the Holman Christian Standard Bible was neutered and "Holman" was taken out of its name, Denny Burk saw things more clearly. Follow this.

Back in 2010, Denny's preaching pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Jim Hamilton, wrote a blog post explaining that he had been asked to contribute an article to a new dictionary and the publisher had sent him these rules his article was to conform to:

[Your] articles should avoid referring to “man” (likewise “mankind,” “men,” “he,” “his” and so on) generically. Language often regarded as patriarchal should be modified to avoid giving wrong impressions. Similarly, translations of biblical and other texts, when made by the contributor, should be no more gender specific than the originals are judged to be. Citations of standard translations of the Bible should not be altered, of course, but where contributors create their own translations of the biblical text, they may find strategies for effectively and responsibly avoiding gender-specific translations by consulting the New Revised Standard Version.

"Who pays the piper calls the tune," the old saying goes, so Jim Hamilton was going to avoid the male inclusive if he wanted his publisher to pay him. And if he was going to do any of his own Bible translating for the article, he needed to delete the Bible's male inclusives "adam" and "adelphoi." 1 

This got Pastor Hamilton thinking and he asked this question... 

followed by an observation:

Was the generic use of the masculine (man, he, him, etc.) urged against in the quote above something that entered the English language because man is spoken of this way in the Hebrew of Genesis 1–2?

And having asked my question, I have another observation. Earle Ellis once explained that he quit the NRSV translation team once he realized that the translation was being driven by an egalitarian agenda.

Good question. Good observation. Good honest admission by renowned Bible scholar Earle Ellis whose festschrift included contributions by  C. K. Barrett, Richard N. Longenecker, I. Howard Marshall, C. F. D. Moule, and F. F. Bruce. Ellis ran with the heavy-hitters and he saw the neutering of Scripture clearly: it was "being driven by an egalitarian agenda."

That's just the setup for what I'm getting to...

Being friends, Pastor Hamilton asked Denny Burk for his thoughts. Burk responded:

I think it’s interesting how honest the guidelines are. The justification in the guidelines for avoiding generic masculines is to avoid the appearance of patriarchy. In other words, the justification is political correctness, not linguistic. And they are being honest about it.

Usually, a linguistic justification goes something like this. “We can’t use generic masculines because language has changed, and we don’t want to confuse readers. Modern readers are likely to mistake generic “he” as a signifying only males. Therefore, we cannot use it.” [emphases are Burk's]

You got that, right? A mere seven years ago, Denny Burk condemned the very same neutering of Scripture he is now defending in his own denomination's latest Bible product, the Christian Standard Bible. Back in 2010, Denny Burke says the avoidance of the male inclusives "adam" and "adelphoi" in the liberal's New Revised Standard Version is "to avoid the appearance of patriarchy" and to conform to the laws of "political correctness."

Yet now Burk is singing a different tune. Deleting hundreds and hundreds of the male inclusives God inspired in His Word is perfectly alright and done from only the purest motives.

Nothing said by Burk now about his SBC's Christian Standard Bible deleting God's words in order to submit to political correctness. Nothing said by Burk now about his SBC's Christian Standard Bible "avoiding generic masculines" "to avoid the appearance of patriarchy."

Now you're ready to hear the first rule of seminary professors: Above all else, collegiality. Collegiality first. Collegiality last. Collegiality now and forever.

In other words, never criticize your own buddies in your own Bible college and seminary where you teach with them. Criticize the liberals who translate and use the NRSV—that's fine. That's good, even.

But never ever criticize the people who pay your salary and teach with you and come to your church and pay you royalties. If it's your own homies who took "adam" and "adelphoi" out of your own very conservative denomination's new Bible product, defend it to the max. 

It all depends upon whose ox is being gored—theirs or ours.

But God? His command is a bit different:

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

  • 1. This has long been the practice of all the publishers, including the ESV's Crossway. Back in 2000 or so when the gender neutral Bible controversy was still at fever pitch, I contributed a chapter to a Crossway book Wayne Grudem was editing. After I sent in the manuscript, Wayne removed the male inclusive from my writing and sent it back for my approval prior to publication. I called him and said I thought it would be ironic if he and Crossway prohibited me from this usage that permeates Scripture—the very usage he and the rest of us had been fighting in defense of through the Colorado Springs Guidelines. I told Wayne I would not allow them to publish my chapter unless they put the male inclusive back in. Happily, Wayne and Crossway relented.
Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!