Small Change or Big Changes?

I ordered some more copies of the best catechism there ever was: “Luther’s Small Catechism”, published by my trusty synod publishing arm.  I noticed something small, but potentially very significant.

When the new hymnal was published, the question arose, “Should we move to the new translation for the catechism?” The advantage of doing so would be uniformity of translation across all of the official synod books.  Also, the abominable translation of John 20:23 from the NIV would be gone.  The disadvantage would be that we would have yet another set of translations being memorized, thereby utterly ignoring Luther’s advice “Let him adopt one version, stay with it, and from one year to the next keep using it unchanged… There should be no change, even though one may wish to improve the text.”  The synod decided to go with the “fixed form” argument, and the NIV was retained (Or should I say, ‘not forgiven’?) for the new hymnal.

Today, when I looked at my brand new, in-the-wrapper catechisms, I noticed that on the spine above the CPH symbol, it says, “NIV”.  Now I am wondering, is CPH planning on producing an ESV version of the catechism after all?  I suspect that, if they did, the text of the catechism itself would use the convention-mandated NIV, while the bible verses in the “explanation” section would be from the ESV.

Not that I know anything, but why mention it on the spine, which is an unnecessary change in an otherwise easy order? (“Yeah, print me 10,000 more of those Catechisms that we are always ordering.”) It seems like a pointless exercise unless there is a plan to have a non-NIV version at some point in the foreseeable future.  So, if it happens, you heard it here first.

If not, then it’s your fault for believing wild speculation.  As Homer Simpson once said, “It takes two to lie.  One to lie and one to listen.”

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7 Responses to Small Change or Big Changes?

  1. David Schultz says:

    actually, they have already produced an ESV catechism.

    • Country Preacher says:

      Of course they do…

    • Country Preacher says:

      So, after the convention went with, “Follow Luther’s Advice”, CPH decided to go with, “Not only change, but two different texts simultaneously.” That’s nice. Just really nice.

  2. Dennis Voss says:

    I’d have to double check, but I think the Catechism portion (the part that Luther wrote or approved) remains the 1986 version. What ESV refers to is the Bible Verses used in the Explanation, although I think some of those questions and answers have changed as well.

  3. The ESV only applies to the back “with Explanation” part. When the convention debated this in 2004, the NIV was retained by 5 votes. For perspective, there are only twelve word changes in the Bible verses of the Six Chief Parts.

    • Country Preacher says:

      I would have been in favor of making the change. Keeping the text constant is not as important, in my opinion, as fixing heresy. I don’t think that is what Luther had in mind.

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