WELS and Bible translations

So, I'm doing research because I want to become a Lutheran pastor. I was raised in an ELCA church, but the conservative pastor and congregation there don't represent the modern ELCA church. Now we go to a conservative, confessional Lutheran church since we moved. I was looking into your synod and I thought it was pretty neat, but then I found that you've accepted the NIV 2011. How can you, as a conservative, confessional synod, accept that?

What you found is not the complete picture on Bible translations and WELS. Allow me to pass along information from the 2015 Book of Reports and Memorials. This information was published in connection with our 2015 Synod Convention. The report from Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) included the following:

“NPH continues to pursue an ‘eclectic approach,’ as directed by synod resolution, utilizing the best translation for the context of any given work. In recent months NPH has faced challenges and opportunities in fulfilling this direction.

“Zondervan has asked NPH to discontinue use of NIV84 going forward. All works currently in development or already in print with NIV84 may contain the translation. However, no future works can include NIV84. NPH will utilize NIV11 in the future as one translation option. NPH will also utilize the English Standard Version (ESV) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) as translation options. We anticipate revisions to the HCSB as a result of the recommendations submitted by the WELS Translation Liaison Committee.

“Selected from among other potential publishers, an agreement was reached between the Wartburg Project and NPH to print and distribute the Wartburg Project Bible translation. As translation work continues by the Wartburg Project, it is anticipated that a New Testament and Psalms edition will be ready for release in fall 2017. A complete Bible will be introduced at a future date yet to be determined.

“NPH has not and will not participate in the translation or editing work involved in the Wartburg Project translation. Although NPH will publish the Wartburg Project translation, it will not be the official NPH translation or sole Bible translation offered by NPH or utilized in NPH materials. NPH will continue to pursue an ‘eclectic approach,’ as directed by synod resolution, utilizing the best translation for the context of any given work. The Wartburg Project translation may be one potential translation option among others. Likewise, publishing of the Wartburg Project translation does not indicate that this is the official Bible translation of WELS. Once the Wartburg Project translation is published, NPH will welcome reviews of the translation before the text is used in other publications.”

WELS has never had an official Bible translation. The recent discussions in our church body regarding Bible translations have dealt with which translations to use in our publications. While walking together as a synod, congregations enjoy Christian freedom in the use of Bible translations.

If you have additional questions about training for the public ministry in our synod, please contact Martin Luther College, our synod’s college of ministry, or Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, our church body’s seminary. God bless you.