Wycliffe USA President Bob Creson has sent a letter (below) to Wycliffe employees worldwide. Mr. Creson’s letter clearly shows how out of touch he is with the reality. His letter contradicts Wycliffe’s prior official statements and correspondence. Here are a few examples:
1) Mr. Creson sent a letter to the PCA in 2011 which acknowledged Wycliffe and SIL’s involvement in a Bangladeshi Bible translation, the 2005 Injil Sharif, which is an issue in the current Bible translation controversy.
2) Wycliffe USA has issued a lot of official statements which went from total denial to “sort of” acknowledging involvement in Bible mistranslations. On January 12, Wycliffe insisted—contrary to the allegations in Biblical Missiology‘s petition—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.” Five days later it claimed, “we have never intentionally sponsored a translation.” And on February 15, 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.”
3) Wycliffe USA issued a statement, even quoting Mr. Creson, when it announced World Evangelical Alliance agreeing to lead a review of Wycliffe and “SIL Translation Practices.” Wycliffe needs to answer questions. What is there to review if Wycliffe and SIL experts have done nothing wrong?
Mr. Creson’s Letter:
April 10, 2012
Antonio, a mother-tongue translator in Panama, would frequently stand up at the end of a workday, stretch, and say, “Ah, this translation work, it breaks my head wide open!”
Translating accurately from one language to a dramatically different one is hard, even when the subject matter is common, everyday activities. But translating accurately about deep spiritual matters is much harder. The current discussion about divine familial terms is about as hard as it gets: How do you translate words that refer to the relationship between God the Father and God the Son?
Like most of you, I’ve listened to both sides of the issue, and I confess I don’t know all the answers. I don’t speak the languages or live in the cultures where these issues are most critical, so I have to trust those who tell me that certain terms are accurate or inaccurate. I don’t read biblical Hebrew or Greek either, so I have to trust biblical language scholars to tell me the meanings of the words that have been translated into English, such as “Son” and “Father.” I must also trust those who are checking translations to ensure accuracy.
Nevertheless there are certain things I’m absolutely confident of.
I know that Wycliffe and SIL have not swerved in our commitment to orthodox theology. We love the Lord and are determined to serve Him faithfully.
I know that accurate translation is difficult, but supremely important. We have been called to give people groups a version of God’s Eternal Word that expresses the original meaning accurately, not a watered-down version that avoids difficult conversations.
I know that the Great Commission was given to the Church. That’s why I feel comfortable being guided by a panel convened by the World Evangelical Alliance to consider this issue. We are part of the Church, not separate from it. When the panel is chosen, it will include “respected Evangelical theologians, biblical scholars, translators, linguists and missiologists, and will include representation of national believers from countries with majority Muslim populations and mature followers of Christ from Muslim backgrounds.” (See http://www.worldea.org/
I also know that while this discussion is impacting all of us, it’s not about us. It’s about those still waiting to hear the Good News about Jesus…those still waiting for Scripture. And they deserve to hear it accurately–worded as clearly as possible–so that they have the best chance to come to know Jesus, the Son of God, and submit to Him as Lord. These are people for whom Christ died, and we must remain focused on getting that Good News to them.
This conversation is demanding a lot from all of us—administrators, language personnel, support workers, prayer and financial partners…all of us. But never lose sight of God’s perspective. Church history, as well as the history of Wycliffe, is filled with stories of God working through difficulty to bring about good. Even now we’re seeing good in the midst of difficulty—we’re learning to partner much more intimately with the Church than we ever have before. Let’s pray that God will use these events to impress on His people that Bible translation is essential to the Great Commission and that it’s the responsibility of the entire Church. Pray that this will be a pivotal moment in the global Church’s involvement in Scripture translation so that people from all nations can hear the Good News and become Christ’s disciples.
Finally, Wycliffe is a close-knit community…a body of believers. Romans 12:5 says, “We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (NLT). I Corinthians 12:25-26 says, “…all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad” (NLT).
So let’s encourage one another. If one of your colleagues is concerned about a potential drop in income, pray with her or him. If someone expresses an opinion that you disagree with, be kind in your response.
And please never forget that the Administration of Wycliffe USA is here to help. At the bottom of this letter are links to Insite, UNITY, and Wycliffe USA’s website where you will find resources to help you. If you cannot access them there, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll forward your e-mail to someone who can send you the information you need by e-mail attachment. If you need an answer that isn’t covered in these links, that would be another reason to write email@example.com .
Wycliffe leadership is out of touch with reality. Even some Wycliffe members are shocked by the recent letter. I have analyzed it on my website. Mr. Creson’s ambivalence is shocking.