The World Evangelical Alliance (the WEA) panel of experts report on Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics is out. The report only covers Wycliffe/SIL Bible translation policy and does not touch on Bible translations in the current controversy as Wycliffe/SIL had initially promised. You can read the report HERE.
First, Wycliffe USA President Bob Creson told Tom Breen of the Associated Press last spring the WEA global review was “to determine whether Wycliffe and affiliated groups are improperly replacing the terms “Son of God” and “God the Father.” Unfortunately, the WEA report did not address this. There are questions Wycliffe/SIL must answer. Mere denials when Wycliffe/SIL have defended these translations to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Assemblies of God don’t address the issue. It is time for Wycliffe/SIL to come clean.
Second, the report claims:
These candidates represented the diversity of needed scholars and included persons from diverse global contexts, with a mix of men and women, and with none who had any working relationship with Wycliffe and SIL International at present or in the past. The Panel formation was completed by September 30, 2012 with 12 outstanding members prepared to undertake the review process.
It fails to mention Dr. Robert E. Cooley and SIL Executive Director, Freddy Boswell, Jr., served on the board of Oral Roberts University together. Also, Wycliffe/SIL had approached Dr. Cooley to help Wycliffe/SIL with the standoff with the Assemblies of God prior to Wycliffe/SIL recommending him to the WEA. Wycliffe/SIL internal memo shows Wycliffe/SIL recommended him to participate in the review process “from a position supportive of SIL’s Best Practices,” the document the panel just reviewed. I notified the WEA of this serious integrity issues several weeks before the WEA appointed Dr. Cooley. The WEA thanked me for my concerns and did nothing.
Third, the report also claims:
Panel had free access to Wycliffe and SIL International resources needed to complete its mandate, and the Panel wishes to express its appreciation to Wycliffe and SIL International for supplying all requested data and resources.
On the contrary, the panel did not have “free access” to Wycliffe/SIL members who were opposed Wycliffe/SIL translation practices. The panel only heard from those supporting Wycliffe/SIL translation practices.
Fourth, the WEA panel report pretty affirms Wycliffe/SIL translation policy, SIL Best Practices, which Dr. Cooley was “supportive” of prior to the WEA review panel being established. The SIL Best Practices allowed wiggle room and the WEA panel recommendation just followed suit. On page 6:
For example, as the biblical context allows, the word for “father” might be rendered with the equivalent of “heavenly Father” when referring to God, and the word for “son” might be rendered with the equivalent of “divine Son,” “eternal Son,” or “heavenly Son” when referring to Jesus.
Wycliffe/SIL betrayed the church universal by translating, consulting and producing Bible translations that were heretical when they had a wiggle room. This report is no different.
Fifth, the WEA global panel mad a glaring error in arriving at the above conclusion. Here is a major oops which even native Arabic speakers on the panel could not catch. The panel report, on page 18 and 19, quotes a verse from the Qur’an to show how “translating” “Son” accurately in Muslim content might be problematic. The Qur’an verse that they think “illustrate the depth of the Muslim abhorrence to the idea of God possessing a son” does not refer to what they had in mind. The Arabic word used in this verse “waladan” for “son” has sexual connotation but “ibn,” another Arabic word for “son” does not. I have addressed this issue in two posts HERE and HERE. Wycliffe experts had confused “ibn” with “waladan” [derived from “walad”], and now the WEA panel of experts has followed suit as if Wycliffe/SIL experts supporting Wycliffe/SIL translation policy were advising the panel. Here is the Qur’an quote:
19:88-92 argues, “They say: ‘(God) Most Gracious has begotten a son!’ Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin, That they should invoke a son for (God) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (God) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.”
In conclusion, Creson told Jeff Kunerth of the Orlando Sentinel last summer, “In dispute are about 200 of the 1,500 Bible translations completed by Wycliffe since it started in 1917.” Wycliffe USA Chief Operating Officer, Russ Hersman, talked with Emily Belz of the World Magazine. She wrote an article stating:
Such terms, Hersman said, are “outside the borders.” Hersman estimated that of 200 translation projects Wycliffe/SIL linguists have undertaken in Muslim contexts, about 30 or 40 “employ some alternate renderings” for the divine familial terms. One example Hersman gave of an alternate rendering would be translated in English as “beloved son of God” or “beloved one from God.”
Wycliffe/SIL can’t fool Christians with the WEA panel report which essentially endorses their current translation policy. These organizations need to come clean. Relying on the corrupt WEA—not necessarily panel members—to come up with a document that essentially mirrors their current translation policy is not a solution, but the beginning of their downfall.