Are Calvinists turning into ESV-Onlies?

I know of a few Calvinists, Reformed they call themselves, who use and teach the English Standard Version like many use the KJV. This blogger tells us of an attack against the NIV, the TNIV and the NLT by Ligonier Ministries:

The whole point of this so-called talk was subtle and dishonest attacks against the NIV, TNIV and the NLT. It was suggested that these translations are just about money and they are a “war on the word of God”. In the end, this whole things leads to a pied-pipering to the English Standard Version. All I have to say is bye, bye Ligonier Ministries, RC Sproul, and Renewing Your Mind. My time is short and there’s better things to listen too that don’t waste my time and fill me with dishonest rhetoric.

Frankly, I like the NLT. It lacks the dry committee feel of the ESV, and of course, there are other problems with it (see here.) I like the style of it, and indeed, sometimes I like the NIV. (Of course, I generally like to study the originals). The ESV is purposely translated to appeal to the Reformed. Fine. But as the author above said, dishonest rhetoric is not needed at this time.

I am not saying give up your ESV’s. Keep them. Read them. Enjoy them. Just leave the onlyist arguments to the kind folks who defend the KJV.

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24 Replies to “Are Calvinists turning into ESV-Onlies?”

  1. Much of Reformed evangelical thought in the US is being controlled and dictated by a handful of individuals that I’d prefer to not name publicly at the moment, but I’d be glad to tell you offline. Honestly, some of them have an inadequate understanding of translation theory method that has been well documented. Many of them are under the misguided belief that  a formal equivalent translation is the ONLY right method of translating the Bible. Thus, they don’t like the NIV, NLT, and TNIV. Many of them are also so far to the right when it comes to gender issues that they don’t care for gender inclusive readings even in the face of the fact that many of these renderings (such as “brother and sister” for adelphoi) are actually more accurate than their supposedly more literal readings.
    Now, this is ironic because a translation like the NLT actually has Reformed thinkers on the translation committee such as Douglas Moo & Thom Schreiner, both respectable scholars. So the extremists of the Reformed mindset are actually attacking their own kind in the process of denouncing a translation like the NLT.
    Interestingly, the main problem with the NLT (that I have–and I use it in spite of this) is that it often over translates. A case in point in which I think it over-translates in favor of Reformed thought is a verse like 1 Cor 1:24–
    But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
    The Greek refers to those who are called (αὐτοῖς δὲ τοῖς κλητοῖς). Yes, salvation is a byproduct of being called by God, but we are called to more than just this. So, often with this kind rendering, I am surprised that there are not more Reformed Christians embracing the NLT. And of course, some do.

  2. I have posted the <a href=”http://powerscourt.blogspot.com/2009/07/esv-onlyism-and-sproul.html”>entire article by R.C Sproul</a> in which he criticizes the TNIV.  Sproul bases his criticism on the false statement that the Tyndale, KJV, and Luther Bible used the expression “sons of God” in Matt. 5:9.
    Unfortunately the supporters of the ESV base their attack on the TNIV on false assumptions about Bible translation.

  3. I know several people who do seem to be heading in an ESV-only direction.
    I didn’t realize it until recently when I remarked to a friend of mine (joking), “Gee, now the ESV is big. I remember when my NIV made me the height of cool! {Sigh} Ah, well, I’m behind the times again.”
    He answered, “Well, NIV is okay, but the ESV is really what you need.”
    I’m not rushing out to get one right now.

  4. I’m reformed, I love the ESV, but I also find it funny that it is only about 10% different than the RSV that it came from. Sometimes you can read them side by side with no difference. And yet most reformed folks never liked the RSV, the evangelical trajectory was KJV – NASB – NKJV – NIV – ESV. I think the RSV was more of a ‘mainline’ Bible. And yet, it is the mother of the ESV.

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