Inclusive Language Debate

Spent some time at the ETS meeting listening to a panel on the inclusive language debate. The TNIV is a hot issue, and it’s one that’s going to hit a lot of churches. The issue really isn’t one of political correctness, feminism, or faithfulness to Scripture. The issue is how to accurately translate terms when there’s no corresponding term in English. Both sides have legitimate claims to strong arguments. Neither is right or wrong – translation is not that simple, and there are no perfect solutions. Both recognize the problem, they’ve just come up with different solutions. A debate is okay on which solution is better, but why the need to campaign against the other side? There really is a lot of common ground. You wouldn’t know it by the accusations I’ve heard and read. Here’s an example of the issue. John 14:23 (NIV) says:

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

Nobody believes that Jesus is referring exclusively to males here. The question is how to make it clear that he’s talking about males and females. You can use he and hope that people understand. You can use he or she, but that’s clumsy. You can use they, but then some might think he’s talking about a group rather than a person. As you can see, there’s no right answer. That’s why it’s hard to understand the level of dogmatism I’ve witnessed in the debate. Here’s how the TNIV has translated this verse:

Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada