Did DA Carson Mock the System…?

At the last Ligonier Conference, which is hosted by the noted Reformed theologian RC Sproul, DA Carson, famed professor and churchman—took the TNIV—what many consider an infamous translation, in to the pulpit (Stan got this started… ).

Why is this a big deal for me and many others?  Well, many in the Reformed/Calvinist camp have publicly condemned the TNIV.  Professor Carson was in a Reformed pulpit.

I don’t believe he was mocking the system at all.  Professor Carson was simply using a fine English translation of the Word of God.

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26 Responses to Did DA Carson Mock the System…?

  1. he could pay the price…

  2. tc robinson says:

    Maybe Piper wouldn’t invite him to his. 🙂

    But I find it quite interesting. Even the thought of it troubles me.

  3. Mike Aubrey says:

    Well, we both know that the “system” that rejects the TNIV deserves to be mocked. Its nonsense.

  4. Theophrastus says:

    Yep. D. A. Carson is going to burn in the deepest level of hell. I think we can easily list the top dozen most evil people of our age:

    Saloth Sar Pol Pot
    Joseph Stalin
    Anyone who has ever bought a TNIV
    Adolf Hitler
    Mao Zedong
    Richard Dawkins
    Saddam Hussein
    Osama Bin Laden
    Anyone whose name begins with a “T”, “N”, “I”, or “V”
    Slobodan Milosevic
    Omar al-Bashir
    Nicolae Ceausescu

  5. Bryan L says:

    Carson has been endorsing the TNIV for a while now. Just look at the TNIV website. I don’t think anyone should be surprised by him using it, since he says so in his endorsement.

    “Well, many in the Reformed/Calvinist camp have publicly condemned the TNIV. Professor Carson was in a Reformed pulpit.”

    I don’t think the issue with the TNIV has to do with people being in the Calvinists/Reformed camp. I think those who are critical of the TNIV just often happen to be in that camp but I don’t think there is a causal relation.

    Bryan L

  6. Dan Masshardt says:

    I think it’s more the complementarian than the reformed that poses the problem- although many are both.

    I have to say that I’d be tempted to use another translation for the audience – I admire Carson. I’d love to hear him in dialogue with Piper on the TNIV. That I’d even pay for.

  7. tc robinson says:

    Mike, I too think it’s nonsense to reject the TNIV.

    Theophratus, Are you for real? That’s quite a list! 🙂

    Bryan L, yes, Carson has been pro-TNIV for sometime.

    But it seems like those who are really critical of the TNIV are both in the Reformed camp and are pro-ESV. Is that just a mere coincidence?

    Dan, but Carson is a complementarian. Yes, I admire his courage.

    And I pray that it rubs off.

  8. Mike Aubrey says:

    Dan, but Carson is a complementarian.

    Indeed, in fact, many of the translators of the TNIV are complementarians as well. And people like Piper, Grudem, etc. have hurt them greatly with their rhetoric about the TNIV having a feminist agenda. I know for a fact that Bruce Walkte has been seriously hurt of all of it.

    Most of the biggest defenders of the TNIV are comps, e.g. Mark Strauss.

  9. tc robinson says:

    Mike, even I’m hurt by all the ridiculous rhetoric. But I continue to read Piper.

    Yes, I’ve noticed the comps who are both translators and defenders of the TNIV.

  10. CD-Host says:

    Bryon L —

    I’m not sure the relationship between reformed and the anti-TNIV is not a cause based one. The reformed movement in America is essentially trying to assert itself as the definite source of doctrine for evangelical Christianity. They have generally been the source of systematic theology, and now that theology is being determined with a back to basics biblical approach they aim to be support their theology by shading the translations used by evangelicals.

  11. Bryan L says:


    The reformed movement, if there even is a monolithic movement, is much bigger than just the conservative pastors, theologians and biblical scholars that speak out against the TNIV and also happen to be reformed. I think it has more to do with a borderline fundamentalism mixed with complementarianism than with being reformed.

    Bryan L

  12. Mike Aubrey says:

    I think it has more to do with a borderline fundamentalism mixed with complementarianism than with being reformed.

    Exactly. Its completely possible to be reformed, charismatic, egalitarian, and use the TNIV.

    I do.

  13. tc robinson says:

    CD-Host, you raised an interesting point about the Reformed community wanting to determine translation choice as well. Hmm…

    Bryan L, I have to agree with Mike. The synergism is quite powerful, I say.

    The TNIV is faltering in sales.

  14. I’m a reformed complementarian and love the TNIV!

  15. CD-Host says:

    The reformed movement, if there even is a monolithic movement, is much bigger than just the conservative pastors, theologians and biblical scholars that speak out against the TNIV and also happen to be reformed. I think it has more to do with a borderline fundamentalism mixed with complementarianism than with being reformed.

    I don’t see fundamentalist pentecostals conducting disinformation campaigns against other christians. Sure I’ll agree the left reformed isn’t involved I don’t see the PCUSA doing this either. But yeah at least IMHO this whole style does seem specific to reformed Christianity. I don’t have a good hypothesis as to why. But I have seen it, and I don’t mean to be argumentative (though I can’t think of how else this sounds) but the right reformed movement has gotten to the point that lying is considered perfectly acceptable behavior. What fueled the heat in the TNIV/ESV wars were the fabrication and misrepresentations that were part of it.

    An example unrelated to the ESV example is James White’s response to Sean Penn’s statements at the Oscars. White slandered Sean Penn in the response, accused him of things that not only were completely untrue but (I suspect unknown to White) provably false. I contacted White about this pointed out the counter evidence and there was no reaction. And White is a well respected guy whose very job depends on him not being seen to just make stuff up.

  16. tc robinson says:

    Stan, it seems like a slice of the Reformed Comp. camp.

    CD-Host, some of these exchanges have been outright ridiculous. But I hope we’ll quit it.

    I’m not fond of the ESV because I like a translation that is smooth and strives to be gender-accurate and not reading too much of a committee’s theology into it.

    The TNIV works well for me despite its shortcomings.

  17. Calvinists with an agenda to promote the ESV? Say it isn’t so!

    Nonetheless, Crossway, the Reformed company behind the ESV, also publishes books by such Calvinists as R. Kent Hughes, the late James Montgomery Boice, Philip Graham Ryken, Mark Dever, John Piper, Thabiti M. Anyabwile, Mark Driscoll, Gerry Breshears, C. J. Mahaney, and so many others. It seems that these days, when one confesses that he or she is a Calvinist, you can almost bet your bottom dollar that they exclusively use the ESV (and the ESV Study Bible is thoroughly Calvinistic). Calvinists and the ESV seem to go hand-in-hand.

    It’s not as though other Calvinists are not using the TNIV – i.e. Timothy George, John Stott, Roger Nicole, Tremper Longman III, Cornelius Plantinga: .

    However, with such men as Wayne Grudem and John Piper against the TNIV (and with Piper behind the ESV), it seems inevitable for other Calvinists to follow suit. But where were Piper and Grudem when the NRSV, CEV, TEV, God’s Word translation, and the NLT were being published? These translations use the exact same translation philosophy, and yet it is the TNIV that is mostly ridiculed.

    What a shame, for the TNIV is such a major improvement over the time-tested and treasured NIV. I use the TNIV daily, and have been doing so for the last four years.

  18. tc robinson says:

    William Birch, I love your comment. Thanks for pointing out inconsistencies of some of these men.

    Yes, the TNIV is great. It’s my preference among Bibles.

  19. This is why I no longer feel comfortable using the ESV. It comes across as the Calvinist Bible, when it ought not. Even though I’m a Calvinist, I’m a little disturbed that no-one else seems to endorse the ESV. If anything, it kinds of put you into a very uncomfortable stereotype. Back to the ol’ KJV for me…

  20. tc robinson says:

    Douglas, the ESV has that label because Calvinists are the ones mostly promoting it.

    It serves as a reference Bible for me.

    What about the TNIV? Carson uses it. And he’s a fine Calvinist.

  21. CD-Host says:

    Douglas —

    Given our last exchange I’m curious “. It comes across as the Calvinist Bible, when it ought not

    Do you mean:

    1) It shouldn’t be seen as a Calvinist bible
    2) There shouldn’t be a Calvinist bible, i.e. a bible should have wide acceptance
    3) Something else

    And if (2) why in your opinion? (Not trying to argue just surprised).

  22. Hey TC! Don’t get me wrong – I love the TNIV (and Carson was a big reason – as well as this and Stan’s blog – for me getting into it. I just have an unusual affinity for translations like the KJV, NASB, ESV, etc.

    CD, as much as I enjoy being Reformed, I don’t feel like forcing it on folks, slyly or otherwise. I’m slowly beginning to see the ESV in that sort of light. Apart from a friend of mine who is part of C&MA, all the ESV users I know are Calvinists.

    On the ESV recommendations page on their site – MOST of the recommendations are by Reformed leaders, notable exceptions being James MacDonald, Max Lucado, John Walvoord (and he has since passed away) and Jack Cottrell.

    The ESVSB stuffed up in that it was too Reformed-leaning for a study Bible meant for general usage. I like it – but what about the non-Calvinist who vehemently disagrees with “Calvinism”?

    Then you have Piper giving his weight to hitting the TNIV over the head, while Grudem seems to be outright at war against it – and it gives credence to the idea of a “grand conspiracy by Calvinists”. To be honest, I want to distance myself from that kind of overt pushiness which brings about the idea that Calvinists have crafted a translation which works for them to the exclusion of everyone else.

    Before the ESV, I used the KJV and the NKJV interchangeably so I guess I return to those as my study translations, while retaining the NLT and TNIV as my reading and speaking translations.

  23. tc robinson says:

    Douglas, I agree with you. I sense your frustration. The ESV and its Study has been labeled. We just need to accept that.

    It is what it is now.

  24. CD-Host says:

    Douglas —

    Thank you for the good answer. As an aside if you liked the ESV, I assume the kind of traditionalism but don’t like the politics (which I applaud you for) you may want to consider the NRSV which is substantially more accurate, better scholarship and reads very similarly. It really is quite a good formal translation with excellent study bibles available.

  25. tc robinson says:


    I second the NRSV over the ESV.

  26. Ivan says:

    a major issue in this entire “debate” more like, “war” was the refusal of one side to admit there can and should be a major distinction in this debate between feminist translations and gender inclusive translation.
    They also employed terms such as “Gender Neutral Translation” and when confronted with the distinction between “Gender Neutral” and “Gender Inclusive” there was the shifting in the “debate” back to feminism.

    Unnecessary > Sad > Ugly

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