Heretical Bibles by S. M. Hutchens

Heretical Bibles

The editors of Touchstone agree with Hendrik A. Mills on the importance of defense of the faith against the recent tide of bad scripture translations (see Letters in this issue), and appreciate his putting the subject before us for comment. While Fr. Reardon is our best Bible scholar, I will speak here for the senior editors, for what is required is not so much expertise in translation as a review of our indications that every Bible systematically employing what is called “inclusive language,” whether for God or man, is unorthodox and unacceptable.

Each of the most widely used English Bibles current before this new spate of versions has its strengths and weaknesses. No Bible translation is without flaw. Even if the problems of selection from variant texts and actual mistranslation were placed to the side, the impossibility of duplicating one language in another remains. Some of those older versions we (varying among ourselves) might have considered too “loose” to be of value for close study, or colored by sectarian bias. Some, in the attempt to modernize or colloquialize, date themselves with jargon or impoverished English. Some are hobbled by questionable theories of semantic correspondence, some miss (or refuse) the advantage of newer manuscript discoveries, some lack certain books of the Old Testament canon, and most lack the genius that makes for truly great translation—all imperfect, all requiring the superintendence of Spirit and Church in teaching, preaching, and private reading.

None, however, had yet been altered to the dictates of egalitarian ideology, the principal mark of the newer translations—some produced by reputedly conservative committees—to which we assume Mr. Mills is referring. The reason we have not felt the need to evaluate specific new translations is that we have a clear and frequently stated theological opposition to sexual egalitarianism, along with its stilted, artificial patois, upon which we have published a great deal. Egalitarian Bibles encourage a faulty view of man, thus of Christ, thus of God. All these translations are to be avoided because they deliberately and systematically reflect doctrinal error. We reject the New Revised Standard Version and the reworked New International Version on the same grounds we reject the Bible used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor and longtime writer for Touchstone.

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