SBC’s Bible Translation Changed to Appease Charismatics


The Holman Christian Standard Bible

The creation of the Holman Christian Standard Bible was funded by the Southern Baptist Convention entity, Lifeway Christian Resources. After the death of the HCSB’s braintrust (and former editor of the New King James Version), Arthur Farstad, the project continued under different leadership and a slightly changed direction (and translation source). The goal of the project was to make a translation that was both readable and struck a balance between formal and dynamic equivalence (for those familiar with translation-speak).

Trevin Wax, one of the many SBC-TGC (The Gospel Coalition) cross-overs, is the editor of Bible Publishing at Lifeway and announced several months ago the new edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which will now go by the “Christian Standard Bible.” Wax writes:

“‘Stewarding’ is the right verb here. Scripture is God’s Word. We may translate and publish it, but it is still His. Our desire is to be faithful and true to His Word above all. There is no weightier responsibility than to know that God’s Word has been entrusted to us.

Wax is certainly right about stewarding God’s Word. Whether or not God’s Word needs a re-branding and the changes recently made to the CSB translation is another story.

A Southern Baptist Translation

The HCSB was completed in 2004 and in 2004, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution officially commending Lifeway Christian Resources, their entity which created the HCSB.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary told messengers at a 2002 breakfast (sponsored by Lifeway Christian Resources) during the annual convention…

“When I first heard about the Holman Christian Standard Bible, I was not excited about it,” Mohler said. “I think in many ways there are too many translations, and having one more translation is not necessarily a great thing. [However,] the changes in the last several months have convinced me that in the end this is an important thing for Southern Baptists to do — if for no other reason than that we will have a major translation we can control.” (Source – The Baptist Press)

Mohler went on to point out that Lifeway would essentially own the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and this was important in light of various perceived liberal compromises in the then-new TNIV. Mohler says,“Owning the rights to the HCSB may be extremely meaningful in the future — even more so than now,” Mohler said (link above).

Mohler took issue compromising translations in the following way, as cited in the Baptist Press:

Translators, Mohler said, face many temptations, including the temptation to use gender-inclusive language.

“There are many persons who are uttering feminist-originated arguments who do not consider themselves feminist, but they have bought into the worldview that if women are not named specifically then they are not included,” he said. “If you buy into that, then we have to update all of our hymns, we have to change our historic language, we have to rewrite most of English literature. We have to reform our law” (link).

Thom Rainer, the now-president of Lifeway (he was not president when the HCSB was made) says he preaches exclusively from the HCSB and it stands for the “Hard Core Southern Baptist Bible” (link).

Thomas Schreiner, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the co-chair of the Translation Oversight Committee for CSB (Remember when Mohler said the SBC could “control” the HCSB translation? His employee is controlling its revision).

CSB Makes Changes to Appease Charismatics

An Interview with Thomas Schriener on the Bible Logos blog, he explains one particular change that should irk all of us who have to regularly battle the encroachment of charismania inside our churches.

When asked if there were any translation differences in the revision, Schreiner responds…

Of course, tongues is an archaic way of referring to verbal communication. The translators – from a variety of denominations – did not intend to exclude charismatic views of ecstatic speech.

First, what happened to “controlling the translation,” Albert Mohler? Why wouldn’t we translate “glossolalia” in a more modern expression of the word? The word refers not to the organ of the mouth, but to language. HCSB had it right the first time. So why are they changing it back? Essentially, the answer from the Southern Baptists “controlling” the translation is that some people have taken the translation change to “exclude charismatic views.”

Darn right it should exclude charismatic views. SBC shouldn’t stand for “Slowly Becoming Charismatics.”

The SBC co-chair of the committee owned by Southern Baptists to create, amend, and revise this Southern Baptist translation to be sold in Southern Baptist bookstores after being funded by Southern Baptist money is changing “languages” back to “tongues” so that no one gets the impression that we’re not excluding the charismatics, inadvertently making it hard for them to mysticize the word for their own aberrant, continuationist theology.

For crying out loud. The CSB is not being changed for the purposes of scholarship, but being changed for the purpose of profit and salability to an important and growing demographic of charismatic consumers. It’s not about doctrine at all; it’s about demographic.

The TNIV gender-inclusiveness which so enraged Mohler is also on the broad horizons of the new CSB. Schreiner explains another change.

While a far cry from turning God into a gender-neutral deity (or from the TNIV) it is a troubling development because it has little to nothing to do with scholarship and everything to do with demographics of an increasingly liberalized market-base. Here, the translators are relying upon their interpretations as to the Bible’s intentions to be specific or generic in translating gender pronouns, instead of translating the term as the Scripture itself says it. Here, we change what is God-breathed for what is plainly not written in the text itself. For as far back as Methuselah, we’ve understood that “man” could be rightly understood as “humankind,” given the context, but one shouldn’t change the Inspired word’s translation to make a point that everybody already knows anyway (for reasons that Mohler so articulately expressed above).

There is a definite cause for concern that the Southern Baptist Convention is becoming widely charismatic and politically correct, and the gutless approach revising a scriptural translation that we “control” is equally as concerning.

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