Archive for February, 2012

February 28th, 2012

Wycliffe’s Strategy to Use NT Scholar Vern Poythress’ Article to Justify Mistranslations Backfires

Wycliffe and SIL leaderships need to act quickly. These organizations’ reactions have been dismal. It has taken 7 weeks for them to admit they are responsible for a translation that removed “Father” from the Trinity. They have yet to admit that same translation also removes “Son” from Matthew 28:19.

For starters, I am not in this discussion to tarnish Wycliffe and SIL’s reputations. Their constant denial of culpability has already done that to the attentive observer. I hope and pray a serious change of heart takes place and these organizations admit, accept and take full responsibility. Admitting one issue late in the evening on Friday, February 24, 2012, without even issuing a statement is not a transparent way to deal with this controversy. Even invoking the reputable New Testament scholar Dr. Vern Sheridan Poythress will not detract those of us who will not rest until the truth of the matter of mistranslations has been brought to the light and the causes of such have been dealt with.

Wycliffe is using Dr. Poythress’ “input, feedback and support” according to one of Dr. Rick Brown (real name Darrell Richard Brown) and Leith Gray’s (who also goes by Larry Chico but his real name is Larry Ciccarelli) articles, Translating Familial Biblical Terms: An Overview of the Issue, as an endorsement of their translations in this current controversy. The article is posted on Wycliffe Global Alliance website with this endnote:

The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful input, feedback and support received from many translators and other interested parties, and from Bible scholars such as Prof. Vern Poythress of Westminster Theological Seminary and Roy Ciampa of Gordon-Conwell Seminary.

Eddie Arthur, director of Wycliffe UK, wrote a post Bible Translation Controversy: The Problem of English on February 19, 2012.

Mr. Arthur cites Dr. Poythress to defend these mistranslations. He claims elsewhere this controversy has been misunderstood. On January 30, he responded to a tweet, “you might want to get the full facts before spreading Internet rumours [sic] about other Christians.” The tweet in question, “Is this a good translation of Mt 28:19, “Cleanse them by water in the name of God, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit”?”

The person who had tweeted was quoting True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, one of the mistranslations in the controversy, which Wycliffe has admitted as of late last Friday it replaces “Father” with Allah. Wycliffe initially had denied “Allah” was substituted for “Father.” It had also claimed, “This translation is unfinished and still being revised” but you can buy copies of its consulted translation online on Amazon UK. Wycliffe’s FAQ, with all new revisions, mirrors Biblical Missiology’s Fact Check, which is a review of Wycliffe’s initial statement.

Mr. Arthur also wrote and posted a letter which has a link to Dr. Poythress’ article. In that letter he assures, “I trust that this allays your concerns. However, if you have further questions, you may first want to read… Vern Sheridan Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary and Editor of Westminster Theological Journal, writing on this issue for the online publication, Mission Frontiers” and gave a link to the article.

Mr. Arthur invokes Dr. Poythress in defense of, among other translations, Turkish-Greek interlinear translation which removes ‘Son’ and ‘Father’ and replaces them with ‘protector’ and ‘representative’ respectively on the right but have an interlinear on the left with a literal translation of the titles.

I have read Dr. Poythress’ blog article on the Mission Frontiers page titled Bible Translations for Muslim Readers. I would like to point out two errors in regards to Islamic understanding of certain terms:

First, he wrote, “As a result, I am critical of any translation that would put into the New Testament text the expression “Messiah” (or equivalent) instead of “Son of God” (or equivalent)–with no further explanation.”

“Messiah” in Islam is a created being and can be destroyed. Qur’an, 3:59, shows the Jesus of Islam was a created being. He can also be destroyed in 5:17. Therefore, Messiah cannot be substituted for “Son” or “Son of God” even with footnotes. True Meaning, the Arabic translation Wycliffe has defended in this controversy, uses “Messiah” for “Son.”

Second, he wrote, “However, it should be noted that the expression “Beloved of God” is being tried out and tested as a possible translation in language situations where the expression is regularly used in the language in question to refer to a man’s only son. So it means more in these languages than it does in English.”

“Beloved of Allah” is a title Muslims exclusively use for Prophet Muhammad. Devout Muslims would not accept its use for other prophets in Islam. Also, using it in place of “Son of God” brings Jesus Christ to the same level with Prophet Muhammad. That certainly is not Wycliffe/SIL and other parties’ involved intentions.

It is apparent Wycliffe is using Dr. Poythress’ good name and connection with Westminster to mitigate further damage to its good reputation while covering its tracks and possibly advancing this agenda. I know he had no intention to contribute to this current crisis with his article. I have contacted him and he is aware of my concerns. Please pray for him.

I have been praying for Wycliffe and SIL leadership to realize how heretical these translations are. They need to pull all the 30-40 translations from circulation and destroy them. An overhaul of its staff and policies is also necessary.

Biblical Missiology’s Fact Check on Wycliffe’s initial statement is found HERE.

Petition to stop these mistranslations is HERE.

FAQ on why the petition was started is HERE.

February 27th, 2012

The Gospel Coalition: Read ‘em and Weep: More on “Insider Movements” and Bible Translation

The Gospel Coalition has picked up the steam on the current controversy involving Bible translations geared toward Muslims. Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition, has it:

The word of God should alter people; people should never alter the word of God–especially those people who claim to love the God of the word.

For those who might be interested, here is a link to a petition to Wycliffe, Frontiers, and SIL along with some fact sheets.  If you’re not the petition signing type, I hope you’re the petition making type.  I hope you’ll petition the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit for the preservation of His word so that those who need the word of life will have it and those who sacrificed their lives for it will be honored.

Emphasis mine. Please read the rest of his  post HERE.

February 25th, 2012

After 7 Weeks of Denial, Wycliffe now Admits it was involved in producing Injil Sharif

Update: Wycliffe USA has edited its FAQ again. Now it admits they were involved in producing the 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif also known as Bengali Bible. This is after denying they were responsible for 7 straight weeks. I don’t understand why they continue editing their statements as Biblical Missiology releases evidence. Why don’t they just admit they were involved? It is very sad. A revised Wycliffe USA FAQ now read, “The 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif translation was produced by Global Partners and included a Bible Society consultant. Neither Wycliffe USA nor SIL had official involvement in the translation.” This is close. Pretty soon they will have to remove, “Neither Wycliffe USA nor SIL had official involvement in the translation.” Please pray and grieve for this once reputable Christian organization.

Wycliffe is probably not going to release any official explanation or statement. I don’t count on it especially since they have been unwilling to answer questions on record pertaining to this controversy. The FAQ was changed late yesterday after Biblical Missiology released an article, which documented Wycliffe and SIL involvement in the 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif.

Here is the initial statement Wycliffe/SIL released on January 12, 2012:

SIL did not advise this translation. A non-SIL consultant approved it, as did the United Bible Societies. The main Protestant church supports the translation, and the local Catholic seminary has praised it. This translation also explains that the term used is translating a Greek phrase of the form Son of God.

Though they originally denied having “any involvement” in the Injil Sharif, Wycliffe/SIL now admit they were unofficially involved in the project.

Gone also is Wycliffe’s previous claim the 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif was approved by the United Bible Societies.

February 24th, 2012

Wycliffe: Transparency or Spin in Bible Translation Controversy?

Yahoo! News

ANALYSIS | Wycliffe Bible Translators has issued another statement — the fourth one in six weeks — regarding the ongoing controversy about new Bible translations that omit ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity. It has gone from total denial to tacit acknowledgment of its culpability.

Previously, on January 12, Wycliffe insisted — contrary to the allegations in Biblical Missiology‘spetition - that ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ were “not removed, but are preserved in a way that does not communicate incorrect meaning.” This statement also defended True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, an Arabic translation that removes ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity.

Then on February 2, Wycliffe insisted it “never has and never will be involved in a translation which does not translate these terms.” And five days later it claimed, “we have never intentionallysponsored a translation…”

The current press release states Wycliffe “is making every effort to identify translations that may have used terms which do not adequately convey the divine familial relationship and to work with project partners to remove them from circulation.”

Wycliffe’s statements contain glaring contradictions. The newest release raises more questions than it provides answers.

Wycliffe has declined to discuss translations it had defended in prior statements arguing they are from parts “of the world that are extremely hostile to the Gospel and where safety ‘firewalls’ have been built around information in attempts to keep people and projects safe.”

The following evidence strongly suggests Wycliffe’s stance is simply a ploy to keep its good reputation while covering its tracks.

First, these translations are available online. At least…

Please read more on Yahoo! News HERE.

February 24th, 2012

Clarity On Wycliffe/SIL’s Involvement In The Bengali Injil Sharif

By former missionary, now pastor, Rev. Scott Seaton of Biblical Missiology

As part of their “Pledge to Transparency,” Wycliffe posted a series of “Answers to Commonly Asked Questions[1] on February 15, 2012, relating to a controversy over translation of the divine familial terms, i.e. “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God.” One question related to a translation in Bangladesh known as the Injil Sharif: “What was Wycliffe or SIL’s involvement in Injil Sharif (also known as the Bengali Bible)?” Wycliffe answered that “Neither Wycliffe USA nor SIL had any involvement in the Injil Sharif project. This particular translation was led by a different organization and included non-SIL consultants.” Biblical Missiology offers the following response to the categorical statement that Wycliffe/SIL did not have “any involvement.”

First, we must be clear that Biblical Missiology has never claimed that Wycliffe/SIL directly produced or translated the Bengali Injil Sharif. Rather, as pointed out in our Fact Check,[2] the translation was cited in the petition to show SIL’s general and specific influence on other agencies doing translation work. For years, Rick Brown of SIL has advocated for alternative wording for the divine familial terms, and his articles have often been referenced as a general, authoritative justification for this controversial practice. But he has also had specific influence, offering advice on key terms at critical moments, especially in regards to the translation of “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God.”

Such is the case with the Bengali Injil Sharif, produced by Global Partners For Development.[3] Rick Brown, an SIL translation consultant, spoke at a May 2002 conference in Bangkok sponsored by Global Partners. In his two sessions, he presented his argument that Arabic demands that “son” can only mean a biological offspring, thus giving Muslims the mistaken notion that Jesus was the result of sexual intercourse between God and Mary. What, then, does “Son of God” actually mean? According to Brown at the time of the conference, the meaning of “Son of God” is equivalent to the New Testament terms “Messiah” and “Christ.” Based on Brown’s arguments at the conference and in his articles, Global Partners justified translating “Son of God” as “Messiah” or “Christ.”

Please read more HERE.

Relevant links:

Biblical Missiology petition

http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible

Why the Petition was started

http://biblicalmissiology.org/translation-petition-faqs/

Biblical Missiology Fact Check for Wycliffe’s initial response

http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LostInTranslation-FactCheck.pdf

February 24th, 2012

Wycliffe Establishes a Call Center, Questions Go Unanswered

Wycliffe has established a Call Center to handle questions related to the Bible translation controversy. Why is this reputable Christian organization wasting its resources when this call center cannot answer any question pertaining to this controversy? I have called and also emailed the center at response@wycliffe.org

Please email or call (800) 992-5433 and try to get answers. You will be transferred to the call center as soon as you start asking questions pertaining to this controversy.

Pray for the leadership of this organization and SIL. This issue is not going to go away until questions are answered. So far, the leadership has hidden behind web postings in the form of four statements that contradict.

Relevant links:

Biblical Missiology petition

http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible

Why the Petition was started

http://biblicalmissiology.org/translation-petition-faqs/

Biblical Missiology Fact Check for Wycliffe’s initial response

http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LostInTranslation-FactCheck.pdf

February 23rd, 2012

Wycliffe Takes Stonewalling to a New Level

Wycliffe Bible Translators is still stonewalling. The leadership probably thinks this issue would go away but it wouldn’t. Not especially when each one of their statements has been full of lies. Not even the statement from February 15.

I called both SIL and Wycliffe offices this afternoon. And no official could give me information about where Rick Brown—their missiologist and linguist responsible for some of these mistranslations—went for graduate school. I called SIL in Dallas first and was asked to call Wycliffe in Orlando. Mark you; I wasn’t asking any questions pertaining to the controversy. I just wanted to know where Mr. Brown went to graduate school.

No luck. I wonder if releasing information about his educational background has any security implication. I spent a total of 15 minutes on the phone and could not get an answer. Even Mr. Brown’s boss Freddie Boswell, Jr., has colleges he attended listed. Why not Mr. Brown’s?

Wycliffe has taken stonewalling to a new level.

 

Wycliffe Bible Translators is still stonewalling. The leadership probably thinks this issue would go away but it wouldn’t. Not especially when each one of their statements has been full of lies. Not even the statement from February 15.

I called both SIL and Wycliffe offices this afternoon. And no official could give me information about where Rick Brown—their missiologist and linguist responsible for some of these mistranslations—went for graduate school. I called SIL in Dallas first and was asked to call Wycliffe in Orlando. Mark you; I wasn’t asking any questions pertaining to the controversy. I just wanted to know where Mr. Brown went to graduate school.

No luck. I wonder if releasing information about his educational background has any security implication. I spent a total of 15 minutes on the phone and could not get an answer. Even Mr. Brown’s boss Freddie Boswell has colleges he attended listed. Why not Mr. Brown’s?

Wycliffe has taken stonewalling to a new level.

Relevant links:

Biblical Missiology petition

http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible

Why the Petition was started

http://biblicalmissiology.org/translation-petition-faqs/

Biblical Missiology Fact Check for Wycliffe’s initial response

http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LostInTranslation-FactCheck.pdf

February 22nd, 2012

Wycliffe’s Richard (Rick) Brown Heresy?

For those of you who heard me on the radio, here is a link to the quote from Wycliffe/SIL expert Rick Brown on Salvation. No wonder ‘Son’ is gone from Matthew 28:19 in both Wycliffe’s Turkish and Arabic Muslim-Idiom Translations:

There is no statement that one must believe Jesus is the Lamb of God or Image or Word or Wisdom of God incarnate or even that he is God himself incarnate. There is no requirement for  belief in the virgin birth nor other such teachings. There is no statement saying that people must use one particular title for Jesus in order to be saved.

What Must One Believe about Jesus for Salvation? IJFM 17:4 (Winter, 2000)

Relevant links:

Biblical Missiology petition

http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible

Why the Petition was started

http://biblicalmissiology.org/translation-petition-faqs/

Biblical Missiology Fact Check for Wycliffe’s initial response

http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LostInTranslation-FactCheck.pdf

More about me HERE and HERE.

February 10th, 2012

Pray for Wycliffe and SIL and the 340-Million Problem

Please pray for Wycliffe and SIL leaderships. They have to make some serious decisions. Contrary to what we have heard about just one translation—an Arabic audio Bible story—with error in rendering ‘Father’ and ‘Son,’ there are as many as 14.

Wycliffe USA Senior Vice President Russ Hersman admitted to the World Magazine last October there were about 30 to 40 translations that “”employ some alternate renderings” for the divine familial terms.””

Christian scholar Dr. Gordon Nickel, who has a PhD in Islamic studies, writes on Wycliffe USA’s Facebook page:

In the 1990s I witnessed a translation of the New Testament into an Asian language which consistently replaced “Son” with “beloved” (habeeb). I have a copy of the published translation. The SIL translator was a friend whom I liked a lot and very much admired! This is not a “political” attack on WBT, but a disagreement among Christians on how to render the words by which the Creator God chose to reveal Himself. That WBT are listening to concerns and engaging in conversation with Christians outside their circle is good news!

Dr. Nickel’s account shows there is at least one other translation out there.

Wycliffe USA needs to apologize publicly for how it has handled this crisis. Biblical Missiology, the group which started the public petition, which I belong to, should be thanked and not vilified. Our efforts have been called ‘satanic’ and our sincerity questioned. Some even thought I was a Muslim ‘plant.’

For those who are new to this controversy, this issue used to be discussed among Christians in outreach to Muslims circles. Then Wycliffe/SIL linguists and missiologists made it public through media interviews and magazine articles. For more information, please read, How the “Lost in Translation” Petition on Change.org Came to Be Now.

Thanks to Biblical Missiology, now ‘the man in the pew’ who donates his or her money for translations causes knows about it. Even Wycliffe and SIL staffs I have heard from want change. I hope this is a time for a God-honoring change in these two great Christian organizations.

Wycliffe and SIL need to marshal and use their resources wisely. Wycliffe USA claims on its website, “Today about 340 million people do not have any Scripture in their language. Wycliffe’s vision is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language they understand best.” This statement reveals two problems about the present crisis. First, modern translations of the Bible are already available in both Turkish and Arabic. Why are Wycliffe and SIL even bothering with these languages? Second, Wycliffe and SIL translations contain so many mistranslations about divine filial terms that the indigenous church in Turkey doesn’t want them. The same is true for Arab Christians. Why are these organizations wasting their resources on them and now defending them? Have they lost sight of their 340-million problem?

Wycliffe and SIL leadership are meeting today. Three linguists and missiologists are responsible for this current mess. Please, pray for these leaderships as they make some tough decisions.

February 8th, 2012

Wycliffe and SIL Suspend Efforts to Remove ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity

Bowing to a groundswell of pressure among supporters and within the organizations themselves, Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics have announced they will temporarily suspend their plan to produce Bibles geared toward Muslims that remove “Father” and “Son” from the Trinity. In a news release, SIL announced it “will put on hold” the “approval of publication of translated Scripture.” It is not clear if the action is aimed at calming the storm of worldwide opposition or a sincere attempt to correct the trend.

The controversy was put in the spotlight by a petition that Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colo.-based Horizons International , had orchestrated.

The main issues of the petition are Arabic and Turkish Bible translations. In the Arabic translation, “Allah” is substituted for “Father” and “Messiah” for “Son.” The Turkish translation substitutes “protector” or “guardian” for “Father” and “proxy” or “representative” for “Son.”

Wycliffe Senior Vice President Russ Hersman, in an interview before the news release, acknowledged it was possible Wycliffe experts had inadvertently misled Wycliffe leadership into publicly defending the translations. But he did not return calls for comment after SIL news release.

The issue at hand was an Arabic word “Rabbi,” which means “Lord.” Wycliffe and SIL experts had argued using an obscure and disputed Muslim source rendering “Rabbi,” which referred to Allah” as “Father.” Thus they justified the use of Allah in place of “Father” in Matthew 28:19.

The petition also asked Phoenix-based Frontiers USA to reconsider its position on the Turkish translation, which was done in partnership with Wycliffe and SIL. When reached for comment…

Please read more on Yahoo! News HERE.