Saudi Christian Al Fadi appeared on In the Market with Janet Parshall, discussing among other issues, Wycliffe Bible Translators controversy. Wycliffe leadership claims “individuals in the American Church” are opposed to its translation practices while actually the opposition comes from the global church, which includes native speakers, Muslim background believers (MBBs), pastors, missiologists, linguists, Bible translators, and current and former Wycliffe employees. They are not just questioning Wycliffe’s commitment to faithfulness in Bible translation but have evidence in the form of corrupted Bible translations.
A few Arabic translations are featured in this controversy. Al Fadi is a native Arabic speaker and also has studied Greek. When asked about the controversy, he says:
Muslims are always raised up to believe that the bible is corrupted and that Christians corrupted the bible. Besides why are we ashamed of what the Gospel message is, it is clearly going to be troublesome for the world? Why are we ashamed of it? Why are we ashamed of declaring who Jesus is? He himself acknowledged Himself to be the Son of God. They (Wycliffe) claim that Muslims would take it as if it is a sexual relationship. I am sorry. That is not the intent I took from the Bible. So, we need to do a better job of reaching out and trusting the Holy Spirit.
Wycliffe’s translations are marred with gargantuan errors. First, they replace “Son” with “messiah” in at least one Arabic translation. The Qur’an clearly states “messiah” is a created being. Wycliffe’s experts apparently did not realize that. How else would someone who believes and “is committed to preserving the eternal deity of Jesus Christ” render the term to mean a created being?
Second, the Arabic language has two words—“ab” and “waalid”—for “father.” “Ab” does not carry a sexual connotation. For example, Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, means “father of deer” yet no Arab or Muslim can argue there was sex involved in order for the city to bear that name. There are many more examples: Abu Bakr, Abu Hurairah, Abu Graib, etc. “Ab,” even though it does not carry a sexual connotation, is a term Wycliffe has refused to use in these mistranslations.
Wycliffe had used “Allah”—“God” in Arabic—in place of “Father” and now has settled on using “Wali”—which means “helper,” “protector,” “friend” or “guardian.” The latter has become Wycliffe’s preferred term to render “Father” in the revised edition of The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ translation even though “Wali” does not mean “Father.” “Wali” is not equivalent to “father” in Arabic. In fact in the Qur’an “Wali” also refers to Satan.
It is becoming clearer we Christians get easily discouraged when trying to share the Gospel with Muslims. We know the terms “Father” and “Son” put Muslims off. Have we forgotten they were also a hindrance to Jews and Jesus Christ did not concede during his discourse? I agree with Al Fadi “we need to do a better job of reaching out and trusting the Holy Spirit.”
Some of us Christians have a heart for Muslims but are frustrated. Our frustration has manifested itself even in our efforts trying to have the Word of God translated in a language Muslims can understand. We need to go back to the basics (Bible) in our outreach to Muslims.
Let us continue praying for Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers leaderships.