Posts tagged ‘Wycliffe Bible Translators’

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.”
April 11th, 2013

Pray for the WEA Wycliffe Global Panel and…

It has been ten months since I wrote a blog entry about Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers’ Bible translation controversy. I have taken this break partly to give these organizations time to sort out their mess. Only time will tell if they admit to their mistakes, repent and apologize to the global church.

(Frontiers hasn’t wavered. Its leadership has taken ownership for its organization’s part in the translations, though it couldn’t defend them.)

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) assembled a panel of thirteen global experts, which is currently meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, reviewing Wycliffe and SIL’s translation practices. The review will not audit Bible translations Wycliffe/SIL produced, funded or approved through consultation, even though this is the main issue in the current controversy.

The first meeting was in Canada in November 2012, which three panel members did not attend. Please pray for the panel to arrive at a God-honoring decision on Wycliffe/SIL translation policy.

The review panel’s decision, if not followed by Wycliffe/SIL repentance and apology for its involvement in Bible translations in the current controversy, marks the beginning of a new phase. I have Wycliffe/SIL internal emails and documents which show its culpability. At this stage, Wycliffe/SIL leaders cannot claim ignorance. After all, they had 16 months to come up with a plausible explanation on what role their organizations’ played.

Wycliffe appears to be moving “past” this controversy. Not so fast, unless, of course, integrity means nothing to this once reputable organization.

Please pray. Thank you.

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.

April 30th, 2012

Wycliffe Can’t Answer Questions, Wastes Time & Resources on Irrelevance in Translation Controversy

Wycliffe Bible Translators has created an “Allah Fact Sheet” web page specifically devoted to addressing “Facts concerning the use of the term “Allah” in Scripture.” This page shows how Allah is not the moon god, his use in scripture predates Islam and millions of Christians currently use him as a term for God.  However this topic is really a non-issue in the Bible translation controversy.

Wycliffe has squandered time and resources coming up with this “Fact Sheet.” Instead it could have used the time to answer questions pertaining to the estimated “200 of the 1,500 Bible translations completed by Wycliffe since it started in 1917,” currently disputed for not translating “Father,” “Son” or “Son of God” accurately. The “Fact Sheet” seems to be a diversionary tactic, and largely irrelevant to the current controversy. The use of “Allah” for “God” was not a part of Biblical Missiology’s online petition, because the issue is about substituting “Allah” for “Father” to satisfy Muslims who object to using “Father.” Another issue is substituting “Messiah” for “Son” while clearly “Messiah” in the Qur’an is a created being.

Wycliffe also has a “Divine Familial Terms Answers to Commonly Asked Questions” page which, even when it is meant to be about “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God,” still brings up the use of “Allah” for “God.” Wycliffe asks and answers:

ARE YOU REMOVING THE NAME OF GOD AND REPLACING IT WITH Allah [sic]?

In the Arabic language, “Allah” is the primary term used for “God.” It should be considered the same as translating the Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic terms for God into English.

It may also be helpful to note that the term “Allah” pre-dates Islam. It appears as far back as the 5th century B.C. and many, if not all, Christian Arabic translations of Scripture since at least the 8th century have used this term.

One of my friends who has been a missionary to the Muslim world finds an irony in Wycliffe’s statement:

This is right and wrong at the same time. Yes, Arabic usage is correct. However, the connotation of the Deity of Islam and Allah has very close linkage. If one translates the text of Matt 28 as “wash them in the manner of Islamic ablutions in the name of Allah” the reader will have the clue of the context to interpret this as the Deity of Islam and how he has been revealed in the Qur’an. If after you remove “Son” and insert Messiah again this is an indication of an Islamizing of the text.

What Wycliffe is doing is stressing the denotation—i.e. the dictionary definition of Allah—and it is forgetting the connotation—i.e. the meanings associated with Allah of Islam. This is as has been pointed out a diversionary tactic. Funny that an org [sic] that is moving to talking a lot about the meaning of the text, is now moving to the more literal renderings of Allah and is forgetting the meanings associated with the name.

These heretical translations—200 languages involving Arabic, Malay, Urdu, Turkish, ectetera—affect close to a billion people. The time is now for Wycliffe to set aside irrelevance and answer pertinent questions. Anything short of a full disclosure and repentance is epic failure.

April 27th, 2012

Bad Choices, Wycliffe

Bad choices, Wycliffe. All the Biblical Missiology’s petition had asked was for you to commit in writing that you would translate ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Son of God’ accurately in Bible translations. I talked with your leadership in early February and even made it very clear this controversy is far reaching hence needed immediate action but you did not heed my advice. Not even when your leadership acknowledged your expert missiologists, linguistics and bible translators must have misled you to defend these heretical Bible translations.

Now here we are. Because of your choices, this issue will not be resolved soon. Not even at your quadrennial—every four years—meeting in Thailand next week because the global panel review would not conclude its findings by then.

Speaking of the panel, why did you submit to World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) review, an organization that cannot respond to inquiries? Not even the Associated Press could get a response about the review panel. I asked WEA—5 weeks ago—these questions and to date I have not received a response:

1) Whose idea was it to initiate the global review panel? Was it Wycliffe/SIL or WEA?

2) When will the review start?

3) Will the names of panelists be public?

4) Will the review panel address questions Wycliffe/SIL has not answered to date or is it up to Wycliffe and SIL to answer these questions?

5) When asked questions, Wycliffe officials have appealed publicly for people to wait for the outcome of the review, which will not conclude until at the end of 2012. Who came up with this arbitrary timeline?

6) There are missiologists and linguists within Wycliffe and SIL, some of them who have PhDs, who are opposed to the current Wycliffe/SIL translation practices. Will they get a chance to present their case? (When Wycliffe/SIL presents its case to the review panel, it will be coming from a minority who support current translation practices.) Thank you.

I am praying for you.

April 17th, 2012

Wycliffe Invokes Al Kalima, Al Kalima still Defends Removing “Father” from Trinity

Wycliffe Bible Translators USA is directing questions about an Arabic Bible mistranslation, The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, to Al Kalima website. Wycliffe claims, “Al-Kalima has a page answering questions about this translation” but the page raises more questions than it provides answers.

Al Kalima asks, “Is the translation directly translated from the Greek?” It answers emphatically, “Yes, the Greek text of the New Testament was the direct basis of the translation.” Al Kalima is not telling the truth. The first edition of The True Meaning substitutes “God” for “Father.” For example Matthew 28:19 in part reads, “cleansing them with water in the name of God, his messiah and his holy spirit.”

Wycliffe and SIL officials must be unaware Al Kalima’s revised edition still replaces “Father” with an Arabic term which does not mean “father.” So much for this translation using Greek text as “the direct basis of the translation.” Al Kalima—which includes Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers USA members— on its page defends removing the equivalent of “Father” in the revised edition as follows:

The traditional term ab, even though often translated into English simply as “father,” is understood in Arabic to mean “biological father”. This is a problem for Arab readers when they read that Joseph, the husband of Mary, is called Jesus’ “biological father”, and so they assume that this means that Jesus was not born of a virgin. The problem is made worse when this word is applied to the relationship between Jesus and the Father, or believers and the Father. It is understood as a terrible insult to God, and misses the meaning intended in the Scriptures of a close relationship like that between a father and his son. While many Muslims are attracted to a relationship with God characterized by paternal intimacy, love, and care, they are also repelled by terms that would communicate a narrowly sexual meaning.

The first edition of The True Meaning uses various terms to express the meaning of the Greek word Pater. The second edition will feature a consistent translation of the Greek Pater using paternal terms, with an indication of the traditional word used to translate the Greek.

Al Kalima Editorial Committee has already decided on an Arabic word “walî” to replace “Father.” In a document it prepared in its defense during this controversy titled “Al Kalima Responses to Adam Simnowitz Criticisms,” and dated January 13, 2012, which was sent to people who had concerns about this translation, on page 7 Al Kalima claims:

The Greek word pater means social father, as discussed in the IJFM article “A Brief Analysis of Filial and Paternal Terms in the Bible.” Arabic does not have an exact semantic equivalent, so the question of “literal” is meaningless. The issue is which Arabic term is closest in meaning to pater, especially as used of God, without introducing an unbiblical meaning. The main choices are between a term for biological father and a term for paterfamilias, the man who provides the paternal care and authority for a family, whether they are all his biological children or not. This latter is very close in meaning to the Greek pater. The term for biological father means a father by virtue of sexual procreation, and this is not the meaning of God’s fatherhood, nor is it the meaning of the word pater when used of humans. One’s pater might be biological or not. The traditional Arabic translation uses the Arabic term ab, which means “biological father.” So it is not a literal translation of Greek pater. The True Meaning uses wali, which is the man who exercises paternal authority and care-giving (paterfamilias). The True Meaning explains all this in an article “The Relationship of Jesus to God,” which presents the traditional Arabic term and explains what the Greek term really means, especially in reference to God.

(Al Kalima claims in the same document The True Meaning was “produced in classical Arabic by our committee, which consists of Arab Bible scholars and clergy, professional translators, and authors of Arabic literature. It is intended for well-educated unchurched Arabs with little knowledge of the Scriptures who want to know the meaning of the Gospel.”)

I wrote a short post last week to show Wycliffe and SIL experts’ erroneous claims about “Father” if translated accurately from the original Greek into Arabic it would lead Arab Muslims to understand the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer as “Our Begetter who is in Heaven.” Arabic words Ab and waalid both mean “father.” Waalid is only biological while ab is both biological and social. You can read my post HERE.

Even the Qur’an in the original Arabic shows “walî” cannot in any shape or form exclusively mean “father” as a brother can also be a “walî.” Whatever happened to Wycliffe and SIL personnel employing dynamic equivalence in Scripture translation? It is not too late for them to repent and apologize to Christians whose trust they have betrayed. This Arabic translation is not worth defending.

There are examples of Arabic terms known to Muslims that Christians can use to defend translating “Father” as “Ab” in Arabic Bibles. Here are four examples:

  1. Abu Bakr—first Islamic Caliph who succeeded Prophet Muhammad. His name means “the father of the foal of the camel.”
  2. Abu Huraira—Prophet Muhammad’s contemporary, narrator of the Hadith. His name means “father of the kitten.”
  3. Abu Dhabi—the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Its name means, “father of deer.”
  4. Abu Ghraib—a city in Iraq known for its notorious prison bearing same name. Its name means, “father of little crows.”

No Muslim in his or her right mind can argue these examples show the use of “father” is biological.

April 9th, 2012

Cutting through Wycliffe’s Verbiage in Bible Translation Controversy

Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) leaderships have not really answered any questions. Perhaps they are hoping for Christians to forget their organizations are involved in translations of Scripture that remove “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” from translations geared toward Muslims.

There is so much that has been lost in this discourse and I would like to clarify it before I tackle two of Wycliffe and SIL’s attempts at putting this controversy to rest.

First, a Wycliffe member is an automatic SIL member outside of his or her sending country.

Second, Wycliffe/SIL consultants do not work independently. I know it because I was involved in Bible translation in Kenya. I have also heard from current and former Wycliffe/SIL employees that a consultant cannot work on a project without Wycliffe/SIL’s approval. And if there is travel involved, he must file months in advance of his travels.

Third, Darrell Richard (Rick) Brown and Larry Ciccarelli (who also goes by Larry Chico, Leith Gray, etcetera) are the two missiologists and linguists who are responsible for this controversy. It is quite troubling when only two experts are involved and yet Wycliffe has changed its “Answers to Commonly Asked Questions” several times as if Brown and Ciccarelli have not been forthcoming.

The following are two statements on Wycliffe’s “Answers to Commonly Asked Questions” page that have gone through several changes.

Wycliffe asks:

HAS WYCLIFFE USA USED THE TERM “ALLAH” FOR “GOD THE FATHER?”

Wycliffe answers:

Wycliffe USA did not sponsor the project titled The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, which in the first edition used the equivalent of “God” in certain places for the term “the Father.” One Wycliffe USA member, seconded to SIL International, served as a consultant on this project, which was organized and led by Al-Kalima.

Based on user feedback and discussion, the local translation committee made the decision to revise the first edition and include the traditional divine familial terms at the recommendation of the SIL consultant. Since Wycliffe USA does not sponsor this project, but only serves in consultation, we do not control its publication, distribution, or revision; nor do we control the content of Al-Kalima.com or other websites where the first edition may still be available. Al-Kalima has a page answering questions about this translation at their website.

What has been lost:

  1. Wycliffe/SIL was never accused of sponsoring this project.
  2. Wycliffe has yet to admit this Arabic translation also removes “Son” and replaces it with “Messiah.” For example, the latter part of Matthew 28:19 reads, “cleanse them with water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit.” This substitution clearly robs Jesus Christ of his divinity in this translation. The Qur’an is unequivocal that “Messiah” was a created being.
  3. The supposedly revised first edition that now includes “the traditional divine familial terms at the recommendation of the SIL consultant” still substitutes “walî” for “Father.” Even Wycliffe/SIL consultant Ciccarelli—who writes under pseudonym Leith Gray—knows “walî” is an Arabic word which means “helper, supporter, friend, relative patron, protector, legal guardian,” etcetera. He writes in an article “The Missing Father” for the November-December 2008 issue of the Mission Frontiers magazine and in it he gives a dictionary definition for “walî” I have quoted above. Apparently to Wycliffe this new revision contains “the traditional divine familial” term in Arabic for “Father” when clearly it doesn’t. I will write more on this subject later this week when I review Al Kalima’s page responding to this controversy.

Wycliffe asks:

WHAT WAS WYCLIFFE’S OR SIL’S INVOLVEMENT IN INJIL SHARIF (ALSO KNOWN AS THE BENGALI BIBLE)?

 (Updated March 30, 2012)

Wycliffe answers:

The Bengali Injil Sharif translation was produced by Global Partners and included a non-SIL consultant.

 Neither Wycliffe USA nor SIL had official involvement in the translation.

 The translation team for Injil Sharif decided to use the equivalent of “Messiah” in place of “Son of God” in their first edition based upon their understanding of published articles written by an SIL consultant. In 2005, the team sought advice from the SIL consultant who had published the articles. The SIL consultant recommended that they stop using “Messiah,” and instead find a word or phrase that conveyed the divine familial relationship. After more than two years of discussion and testing in the local community, the team settled upon a phrase that when translated back into English, reads, “God’s Intimately-Unique Loved One.”

What has been lost:

  1. Wycliffe USA President Bob Creson sent a letter to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 2011 acknowledging Rick Brown consulted on this Injil Sharif project.
  2. In the letter Wycliffe defended this Injil Sharif translation.
  3. Mr. Brown himself admitted consulting on this Injil Sharif translation in a post on SIL’s internal wiki “insite” on February 18, 2011 after Christianity Today published an article “The Son and the Crescent” in early February 2011 where he was interviewed extensively about Bible translation in Bangladesh. Wycliffe USA also cited his internal post in the letter to the PCA.

The allegations against Wycliffe and SIL in this controversy are not unfounded. Two of their experts are involved in these two projects and yet Wycliffe and SIL have not been forthcoming. When are they going to answer questions?

March 27th, 2012

Wycliffe Still in Denial about Involvement in the Turkish Translation

Wycliffe Bible Translators is still in denial. Perhaps the leadership doesn’t want a major fallout with its financial supporters if it goes forth with telling the truth. The leadership has not publicly admitted Wycliffe was involved in the Turkish translation from the beginning of the project. Instead of answering questions, it has been misleading the public.

Here is an article I wrote for Yahoo! News which clearly shows Wycliffe has and is still evading the truth in this controversy. Wycliffe leadership cannot answer questions candidly and wants Christians to wait for an international review panel to conclude its investigation at the year’s end.

Wycliffe leadership knows the answers to the questions and it should give them NOW.

March 27th, 2012

Wycliffe/SIL Delay Tactics Continue-WEA Review

Wycliffe/SIL evasion of questions regarding the current translation controversy continues. A press release has been sent out. Wycliffe and SIL are submitting to a World Evangelical Alliance’s (WEA) independent review panel which will conclude its report by the end of this year. Yep. You read that right!

While majority of Wycliffe and SIL’s financial support comes from the United States, apparently, there is no sense of urgency for Wycliffe and SIL to resolve this issue for the US Christian public which wants answers to questions now. This long review period does not preclude Wycliffe and SIL officials from answering questions.

Wycliffe has called our efforts to hold it accountable “satanic.” I wonder if Wycliffe officials will apologize to us now that it is realizing we have been right all along. We will see.

WEA press release:

WEA to Form Independent Review Panel on Wycliffe and SIL Bible Translation

New York, NY – March 27, 2012

In the light of certain controversies about Bible translation, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), as a respected and trusted global evangelical association, has been asked to form a panel to independently review Wycliffe and SIL International’s translation of “God the Father” and the “Son of God.”

“Rejoicing that many Christians globally do not have to learn Hebrew or Greek to read God’s Word and wishing to strengthen Evangelical unity on the basis of God’s Word, the WEA has agreed to facilitate an independent external audit of Wycliffe and SIL International’s practice of the translation of “God the Father” and the “Son of God”,” said Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the WEA.

Wycliffe Global Alliance and SIL International as organizations dedicated to the accurate translation of God’s Word are committed to applying this review’s recommendations. The panel’s mandate includes reviewing SIL’s translation practices; setting boundaries for theologically acceptable translation methodology particularly in Muslim contexts; and suggesting how to practically implement these recommendations.

Facilitated by the WEA, this transparent and independent review will be conducted by a global panel of 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.

Reports throughout the process, as well as the final report, will be sent to Wycliffe and SIL International. The intention is that the panel’s final report will be delivered by the end of the year 2012.

PRESS CONTACT: newsservice@worldea.org