Posts tagged ‘Robert E. Cooley’

April 29th, 2013

The WEA Cover-up for Wycliffe/SIL is Complete-Report Mirrors Current Translation Policy

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.

April 17th, 2013

Wycliffe/SIL and the WEA’s Missteps Raise integrity Questions

Here are a few but significant missteps of Wycliffe Bible Translators/Summer Institute of Linguistics and its auditor, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA):

  1. Wycliffe/SIL went to the WEA, “as a respected and trusted global evangelical association,” to review its translation practices yet it is perfectly fine with Wycliffe/SIL that Dr. Robert E. Cooley, who it had recommended to participate from a position favorable to Wycliffe/SIL, is participating, let alone, leading the review process. Don’t get me wrong. I am not questioning the integrity of Dr. Cooley. I contacted the WEA on April 11, 2012—four weeks prior to Dr. Cooley’s appointment to chair the global panel—about my concerns and even shared the evidence. I received a one line response thanking me for the information. Little did I know my concerns would be ignored. Wycliffe/SIL and the WEA have essentially taken shortcuts to transparency and integrity. It is a fact, Wycliffe/SIL were involved in Bible translations that removed “Father” and “Son” from the context of Scripture. The WEA leaders might just be ignorant of Wycliffe/SIL’s culpability. Dr. Cooley’s point man at the WEA admitted to me in early August he did not know why Wycliffe/SIL were being audited.
  2. Wycliffe/SIL initially defended the Bible translations in the current controversy. Wycliffe’s initial statement was in the form of an email, with a PDF attachment (HERE), which was sent out to all Wycliffe organization personnel worldwide from then Senior VP of Wycliffe USA Russ Hersman’s email account. (Mr. Hersman has since been promoted to the Chief Operating Officer of Wycliffe USA.) The statement defended Bible translations in the current controversy. Passionate Wycliffe supporters who had all along thought Wycliffe/SIL was being falsely accused forwarded the email to Biblical Missiology, the organization that started the online petition. Biblical Missiology responded with a FACT CHECK which you can access HERE. A Wycliffe member who has since resigned confirmed Wycliffe’s initial statement defending the translations was sent from Mr. Hersman’s email account. Wycliffe hasn’t retracted the initial statement to date.
  3. I have italicized “respected” and “trusted” in the WEA’s initial sentence about itself because the WEA has had significant ethical problems. There are several examples, but let me just point out two. The WEA defines its Associate Members—Wycliffe is one of its Global Partners—as “independently incorporated organizations with their own specific ministries and accountability, an international scope of ministry, and the capacity and authority to serve in and beyond the WEA community.” That is far from true. More HERE. First, let me show you something about a WEA associate member Holy Bible Society (HBS). I chose to go with this ‘organization’ because it touts Zondervan, the Lockman Foundation and LifeWay as its “significant partners.” I contacted all these three organizations and none of them knows what HBS is, let alone as a “partner.” Zondervan was looking into the possibility HBS was using its “name without permission.” President and CEO of LifeWay, Thom Rainer, had no idea what it was. He responded via Twitter he was “not familiar with the organization” and LifeWay was “looking into it.” A friend who unknowingly supported and promoted Bible translations in the current controversy—who has since resigned—says, “This alone is reason to call the WEA into question as an independent arbitrator of the translation issue.  If they promote as viable partners and member organizations that are really nothing more than shells, or fronts for the same organization, then how can they be expected to be truthful when it comes to the translation issue?” The WEA’s North American Council member David Jang is the president of HBS. Another WEA associate member is Young Disciples of Jesus, which is considered a cult in China. I was at Wheaton College in July 2012 participating in a program for the Chinese church. I asked one of the leaders if he had heard of Young Disciples of Christ. I said the name wrong. He quickly corrected me. He asked, “You mean Young Disciples of Jesus?” When I answered in the affirmative, he said “it is a cult.” Young Disciples of Jesus is associated with the WEA’s David Jang.
  4. Christianity Today published an extensive article about Mr. Jang who is considered in his denomination as “Second Coming Christ.” You can read the first article HERE and a follow up HERE. The WEA is aware of these troubling concerns but instead of distancing itself, it has defended Mr. Jang and organizations associated with him. He is still a leader of the WEA. I contacted Wycliffe, and even talked with one of the leaders at great length about the WEA last summer before the WEA assembled the panel, the review process still continued.
  5. Though the review bears the WEA name, Wycliffe/SIL is the sponsor. Wycliffe/SIL is not just paying the bills; a Wycliffe/SIL source with knowledge of the deliberations says Muslim Idiom Translations (MIT) proponents have had access to deliberations of the WEA panel members, urging them to support Wycliffe/SIL position on Muslim Idiom Translations (MIT), while Wycliffe/SIL personnel who oppose MIT have not had a chance to speak with the WEA panel. It is troubling, especially when Wycliffe/SIL had claimed the review would be “independent.” Wycliffe and SIL had recommended Dr. Robert E. Cooley to the panel, and per Wycliffe/SIL document, he would “participate from a position supportive of” Wycliffe/SIL current translation policy, but I didn’t know non-panel members who are also proponents of MITs would be the only voice in these deliberations.
  6. Finally, the WEA has broken a promise. A big one. The initial WEA press statement about the global review panel stated “followers of Christ from Muslim backgrounds” would be included in the panel. That hasn’t been the case. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from Muslim background. The WEA claims to represent “650 million Christians” worldwide and surprisingly it could not come up with one believer from Muslim background to sit on its panel. Did Wycliffe/SIL nix this promise because it was too risky for its integrity? I would like to know. None of Muslim background believers I have met agrees the title, “Messiah,”which in Islam is a created being, and “Beloved of God,” a term Muslims exclusively use for Prophet Muhammad, are terms suitable for translating “Son of God.”
June 5th, 2012

Wycliffe/SIL Stacking the Deck of Independent WEA Review?

World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has established an “independent” review to audit Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Bible translations geared toward Muslims that have been in dispute. The Orlando Sentinel reports “about 200 translations” will be audited.

WEA appointed Dr. Robert E. Cooley on May 9 to lead this global review. I had suspected Dr. Cooley would be on the review board because a Wycliffe/SIL internal document posted in March that I obtained on March 28 shows, “Several Assemblies of God academics have been recommended for the global review panel and are seeking to participate from a position supportive of SIL’s Best Practices.” A source within Wycliffe had identified Dr. Cooley among other AG academics. (I have a list of the rest of the names.)

I emailed WEA on April 11—copied the email to Wycliffe—asking if it was true that Wycliffe/SIL had recommended AG academics supportive of their position to the panel. I was concerned Wycliffe/SIL would be “stacking the deck”—contrary to what their leaderships had claimed—by recruiting experts in agreement with their position. WEA declined to respond to my questions.

My email to WEA clearly showed Dr. Cooley’s relationship—without naming him—to SIL Executive Director, Freddy Boswell, Jr. I mentioned how they had both served on the board at Oral Roberts University. Also, sources within Wycliffe/SIL say SIL had approached Dr. Cooley to help with the AG situation, especially because AG had given Wycliffe/SIL a May 15 deadline.

As respected as Dr. Cooley is, it is suspect how neutral this review board would be, considering he has been helping Wycliffe and SIL all along with the AG situation, and according to Wycliffe/SIL internal document, he is “supportive” of Wycliffe/SIL position.

In the meantime, we need to pray for the whole truth to come out. I have other information that shows Wycliffe/SIL would be using what appears to be a lopsided review as a stamp of approval for their Bible translations that have caused grave concern by the national churches of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey.

AG has already made its position very clear. Apparently, even Wycliffe and SIL enlisting Dr. Cooley did not help with the AG situation. AG has delayed its decision to break off partnership with Wycliffe until at the end of the year, all out of respect for the WEA global review. It seems, however, that the break off is bound to happen because Wycliffe still officially insists “Son of God” cannot be translated accurately in “certain Muslim” contexts because it carries a sexual connotation. Also, WEA review has no bearing on AG if WEA’s “independent” review contradicts AG position. You can read AG’s official position HERE.

This translation controversy is not going away soon, especially when there are serious ethical questions about how it is being conducted. Why would a cash-strapped WEA spend its limited resources on a global review when all critics asked for is for Wycliffe and SIL to commit in writing that “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” should always be translated accurately?

WEA deliberately agreeing to do this lopsided review has opened up a lot of questions about the process. It is clear from Wycliffe/SIL internal document Wycliffe and SIL have worked behind the scenes to get people supportive of their approach on the panel and that WEA is not being transparent in responding to questions.

WEA claims to speak for 600 million evangelical Christians worldwide. (There are about 800 million evangelicals in total.) There is evidence that suggests that WEA has hitched itself to one particular source of funding that calls into question its claim to represent the global church.