Archive for ‘Posts’

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 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 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.

July 1st, 2011

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s Execution Imminent

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who has been sentenced to death for apostasy faces execution any moment. Now that the Iranian Supreme Court has upheld his death sentence, he could be hanged anytime. Please pray for him, his loved ones, Iranian Christians, their oppressors and Iranian Muslims.

The international community needs to put pressure on the Iranian government and it starts with us. Similar death sentences were commuted in Afghanistan due to the international pressure.

Apparently, “Freedom to change one’s religion is a fundamental right which Iran pledged to uphold when it signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” The world should hold Iran accountable.

The workweek in Iran is Saturday to Thursday. The fact that it is the weekend in most countries doesn’t mean offices in Iran aren’t open. Please use Twitter, Facebook or whatever means is at your disposal to spread the word about Pastor Nadarkhani’s plight. His life should be spared and his freedom granted. Please pray for Pastor Youcef!

2 Corinthians 4:8-10: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

More information is available HERE.

January 3rd, 2011

Judgment Day Starts on May 21, 2011?

Here is a bizarre story of a Christian group which claims Judgment  Day starts on Saturday, May 21, 2011.  There are hundreds of unreached people groups in the world. Majority of my people group, Orma, has not heard the Gospel. Jesus Christ said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14, NKJV.) Here is the story…

Days in May? Christian group spreads word

By TOM BREEN

The Associated Press

Monday, January 3, 2011; 10:01 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. — If there had been time, Marie Exley would have liked to start a family. Instead, the 32-year-old Army veteran has less than six months left, which she’ll spend spreading a stark warning: Judgment Day is almost here.

Exley is part of a movement of Christians loosely organized by radio broadcasts and websites, independent of churches and convinced by their reading of the Bible that the end of the world will begin May 21, 2011.

To get the word out, they’re using billboards and bus stop benches, traveling caravans of RVs and volunteers passing out pamphlets on street corners. Cities from Bridgeport, Conn., to Little Rock, Ark., now have billboards with the ominous message, and mission groups are traveling through Latin America and Africa to spread the news outside the U.S.

“A lot of people might think, ‘The end’s coming, let’s go party,’” said Exley, a veteran of two deployments in Iraq. “But we’re commanded by God to warn people. I wish I could just be like everybody else, but it’s so much better to know that when the end comes, you’ll be safe.”

In August, Exley left her home in Colorado Springs, Colo., to work with Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio Worldwide, the independent Christian ministry whose leader, Harold Camping, has calculated the May 21 date based on his reading of the Bible.

She is organizing traveling columns of RVs carrying the message from city to city, a logistics challenge that her military experience has helped solve. The vehicles are scheduled to be in five North Carolina cities between now and the second week of January, but Exley will shortly be gone: overseas, where she hopes to eventually make it back to Iraq.

“I don’t really have plans to come back,” she said. “Time is short.”

via End of Days in May? Christian group spreads word.

November 24th, 2010

Effective Method(s) for Christian Outreach to Muslims

I recently participated in a panel discussion at Wheaton College. The panelists—seven in total—were Christians of Muslim background who are natives of various countries with minority and majority Muslim populations. The moderator asked us various questions, among them, “How long was it between when you first heard about the gospel before you accepted Christ?” [Emphasis mine.] None of us answered this question directly because we could not pinpoint exactly how long it took us from the time we heard about Christ to embracing him as our Lord and Savior. I wasn’t surprised it was equally challenging for my fellow panelists. Here are a few things I observed about Christian outreach to Muslims:

First, none of the panelists came to salvation in Jesus Christ from reading the Qur’an. It didn’t surprise me but I should be surprised especially because the current trend in Christian outreach to Muslim advocates for “bridge” building, which includes using the Qur’an as an evangelism tool. The Camel Method and Jesus in the Quran (JIQ) are notable examples. They are gaining ground in the United States. JIQ has the backing of Christian mega churches and has weekend seminars around the country with the introduction, “Jesus in the Qur’an is, in some ways, an entirely new paradigm and, in other ways, an ancient one dating back to the days of Jesus.” [Emphasis mine.]

The sad thing is, the Jesus both these organizations promote is the Jesus of Islam—of Prophet Muhammad’s own making—who is an immediate nephew of Moses and Aaron in the Qur’an and the Hadith. This clue should be conspicuous enough to ground these projects but they are going strong.

Secondly, even though the panelists answered the question “How does your community view Christians and Jews?” negatively; some of them decided to follow Christ because of exemplary lives of Christians they had encountered. Typical mistrust of Christians widespread among Muslims, which both the Qur’an and the Hadith promote, did not hinder these ex-Muslims from wanting to know why their Christian neighbors and friends’ character was different. No wonder Allah commands a Muslim in the Qur’an not to take a Christian as a friend. They meet Jesus! How many Muslims would our living a Christlike life affect if we only let our light shine? Muslims have misconceptions about Jesus, Christians and the Bible. We should make every effort to reach out to them.

Thirdly, none of the panelists had a Christian sit down with him or her to show faults in Islam. There are Christians who have copies of the Qur’an and the Hadith to show Muslims what is wrong with Islam. There is plenty of wrong with Islam but a Muslim should hear the Gospel first. Unlike the Qur’an, which Muslims cannot defend without first trying to discredit the Bible, the message is self-sufficient. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” [1st Cor. 1:17. NIV, Emphasis Mine.] Our efforts to make the Gospel palatable to Muslims are undermining the Gospel. Why do we need to innovate in order to “gain” a few for the Lord?

There were more questions. The discussion was very encouraging to me. Hearing all testimonies of how my fellow panelists came to the Lord and what persecution they had faced and overcome was uplifting. I was very blessed to meet fellow believers with shared background and who still have family troubles because of their new identity in Christ.

Hussein Wario is a former Kenyan Sunni Muslim. He is the author of Cracks in the Crescent. He blogs regularly here. You can listen to his testimony here or read it here.

November 22nd, 2010

Pakistani President Pardons Asia Bibi (Blasphemy)

International Christian Concern (ICC) reports Pakistani President has pardoned Asia Bibi. Here is the story:

Washington, D.C. (November 22, 2010)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that today the president of Pakistan has pardoned a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi was sentenced on November 8 after a court in Punjab province found her guilty of making blasphemous statements against the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, it is a crime punishable by death to blaspheme the Islamic prophet.

Her release came after intense international pressure by politicians and church leaders as well as coverage by several media outlets.

Asia has now been taken to an undisclosed location for her safety. In the past, Christians have been killed by vigilantes after being accused of blasphemy. On July 19, gunmen killed Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel, while police were transporting them from the court in Faisalabad to jail. The gunmen also seriously wounded a policeman accompanying them.

Some Muslim lawyers and other fundamentalist Muslims are preparing to demonstrate against Asia’s release.

Read the rest of the story here.

Prayers have been answered. Let us continue to pray for Hector Aleem and other Christians in prison for blasphemy and or apostasy, and their loved ones.

November 1st, 2010

Why Do Christians Suffer in Muslim Majority Countries?

Christians, whether of Muslim background or not, keep on suffering at the hands of Muslims in Muslim majority countries. Here are a few cases:

Two brothers, Rahid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel, were gunned down in July in their native Pakistan on false charges of blaspheming Prophet Muhammad. The court found them innocent. Some Muslims took the law into their own hands and executed them.

Hector Aleem, another Pakistani Christian, has been jailed for more than a year and a half on another false blasphemy charge. Even when Hector is innocent of this charge, the judge cannot release him for fear of retribution. Muslims have been demanding for his execution. You can watch videos of their protest here and here.

A Christian of Muslim background, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, is languishing in an Iranian jail for over a year awaiting execution. He is accused of apostasy. Even the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has joined the push for his release from prison.

Muslims kill many Christians not necessarily for apostasy, blasphemy or proselytizing Muslims but for their mere presence, which is proof to their Muslim neighbors Islam is a colossal failure. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq have suffered greatly. Here is a report from the Associated Press; what happened in Baghdad defies any logic:

BAGHDAD – Iraqi security forces stormed a Baghdad church where militants had taken an entire congregation hostage for four hours, leaving at least 47 people dead, including a priest, Iraqi officials said Monday.

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would “exterminate Iraqi Christians” if Muslim women in Egypt were not freed.

It specifically mentioned two women in Egypt that extremists maintain have converted to Islam and are being held against their will.

The Egyptian women are wives of priests that are believed to have converted to Islam to leave their husbands, since divorce is banned by the Coptic Church. One woman disappeared in 2004 and another in July of this year.

Egypt’s Christians maintained they had been kidnapped and demonstrated for their release. Both were later recovered by police, denied any conversions and were then spirited away to distant monasteries.

In the message, the militants claim the two are still Muslim and they called upon the Vatican, which held a meeting earlier in October to discuss the fate of Christians in the Middle East, to release the women.

The death toll has risen to 58. It defies any logic someone would go about killing people over assumptions. It is very possible these two Egyptian ladies “converted” to Islam against their will when Muslims held them captives. However, when they found their freedom, they “denied any conversions” to Islam. Isn’t that enough? Why do people have to die? And why would something that transpired in Egypt, which did not result in any loss of life, adversely affect Christians in Iraq?

Whatever happened to Muslims in the West’s argument Islam “supports” religious freedom? The deeds of their fellows in Muslim majority countries and the lack of prosecution of their crimes against non-Muslims prove there is no religious freedom or justice in Islam for a non-Muslim. Western Muslims are not demonstrating against these injustices. Perhaps they know the verse from the Qur’an they often quote, “There is no compulsion in religion,” indeed was abrogated and they are just fooling the unsuspecting.