Posts tagged ‘Wycliffe Bible Translators’

March 22nd, 2012

Wycliffe, the Insider Movement and Bible Translation Controversy

Wycliffe Bible Translators has a firm position when it comes to removing terms in the Bible that  hinder Muslims from ‘understanding’ the meaning. Its ‘translation standard’ states, to “In certain circumstances” where a literal translation for ‘Son’ or ‘Father’ “would communicate wrong meaning, an alternative form with equivalent meaning may be used.” (So far, “alternative form with equivalent meaning” in certain Muslim contexts has been disastrous because it doesn’t portray the same meaning but robs the divinity of the ‘Father’ and ‘Son.’)

However, when it comes Insider Movement, an ideology that is responsible for procuring and producing heretical translations of Scripture, Wycliffe has no position. As a former Muslim, it is okay with Wycliffe if I continue to go to the mosque to observe the Five Daily prayers, make a pilgrimage to Mecca, observe the fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan and even acknowledge Muhammad as a prophet of God. As incompatible these beliefs and practices are to the Word of God—Muhammad came to preach another gospel—Wycliffe has no position.

Even when some of its missiologists and linguists have written articles, which are considered heretical by the Word of God’s standard, Wycliffe has not taken a position. In fact, it has endorsed some of these articles, which advocate for the Insider Movement. Wycliffe has gone as far as linking to some of these articles to defend its practices in the current translation controversy.

Here is what former Muslims say about the Insider Movement. I hope in the end Wycliffe realizes just what a heretical practice, which has been a menace in reaching Muslims with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it has tacitly endorsed and reverse course. Or else, it might as well start bidding farewell to its 80-year history of faithfully translating the Word of God.

Former Muslims in Bangladesh talking about Insider Movement:

A trailer of a documentary to be released later in 2012 about former Muslims in Bangladesh dealing with Insider Movement:

March 13th, 2012

Wycliffe’s Director of Communications’ Take on Bible Mistranslations

Wycliffe Bible Translators USA leadership has taken to the airwaves trying to mitigate the damage its linguists and missiologists have brought upon this reputable organization. So far, none of the lingering questions Biblical Missiology has raised has been answered. I will share more tomorrow.

I would like to share with you what a colleague brought to my attention a few weeks ago. It is a blog entry by Dawn Kruger, who is the Director of Communications for Wycliffe International Asia Pacific and SIL International Asia area. Here is what Dawn writes about the current controversy. Since she is in charge of communications, I am surprised she wrote this entry four days after Wycliffe USA admitted it was involved in an Arabic translation, which removes ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity. Wycliffe had denied for seven straight weeks it was involved in this translation. Dawn writes:

So I showed you the fun parts of traveling to England. But why were the meetings significant?

The topic discussed was critical to our organization. You may have seen online that Wycliffe and SIL have been the targets of unscrupulous attacks against the principles and practices used in translating certain key terms in the New Testament. Because our goal is meaning-based translations rather than transliterations (which would be utterly meaningless if taken directly from the original language sources), translators often need to carefully search for meaningful ways of expressing difficult concepts in other languages. For example grace, mercy, atonement, sanctification [sic], etc., are often difficult to express in other languages. Even in our own Bibles, Greek terms have been adjusted to carry meaning to English-speaking readers.

But the current attacks are being levied against translations that found culturally appropriate ways of expressing the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son without using familial terms. In some contexts, using the terms father and son can ONLY[sic] imply a family relationship based on the father having sired the son through a physical relationship with the son’s mother. There can be no other understanding of the term. So in deference to the holiness of God and in reverence to the relationship between the first and the second persons of the Trinity, in some translations, terms were used to denote the sacredness of the father and son relationship without using those exact words.

In response, some people who do not understand the principles of accurate and meaningful translation, and are working strictly from English source texts rather than the original Greek, are levying unprincipled, untrue attacks against our organization and our closest partner — attacks that are stirring up a great deal of concern among well-meaning people looking for answers.

I contacted Dawn two weeks ago and she has not responded yet to my comment. I hope she realizes Christians who are opposed to these mistranslations are missiologists, native speakers of languages  where mistranslations have happened, pastors, linguists—some have resigned from Wycliffe and SIL, Bible translators and others who are still with these organizations. (Bold emphasis is mine.)

March 12th, 2012

The Assemblies of God Gives Wycliffe a Deadline

The Assemblies of God (AoG) and Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) are the only Christian denominations that have taken a stand against Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL’s involvement in Bible translations that removed ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity. PCA acted last year.

The AoG’s statement, “Essential Scriptural Integrity,” was on page 28 and 29 of the March 4 issue of the denomination’s magazine, Pentecostal Evangel. The statement, in part, reads:

For many years Assemblies of God World Missions has partnered in ministry with Wycliffe Bible Translators. While some missionaries are appointed by AGWM to do Bible translation for specific and unique reasons, most of those with a specific calling to Scripture translation are assigned to Wycliffe. The AG World Missions Executive Committee made this determination because of the highly specialized nature of Bible translation into other languages. Presently 35 AG missionaries work with Wycliffe.

In the last year the propriety of this long-held partnership has come into question for the first time. A major factor in this issue is how the Scriptures are translated for Muslim readers. Nearly every Muslim has heard the name of Jesus. Most even revere Him as a sinless prophet. But they think of Him only as a human being—not as God the Son.

Communicating God’s Word for Muslims presents challenges regarding their beliefs concerning the Trinity and Jesus as the Son of God. Consequently, some translations designed for Muslim readers remove familial terms, such as Father, Son, Son of God, Son of the Living God and Son of Man, from the text. In their place, alternative terms are used, such as “Beloved of God,” a familiar Arabic Muslim characterization often used when referring to Muhammad.

Wycliffe addresses its translation standards on its ministry website: “In certain circumstances, specifically where it has been demonstrated that a literal translation of ‘Son of God’ would communicate wrong meaning, an alternative form with equivalent meaning may be used.” The problem arises in what is meant by communicating “wrong meaning” and “equivalent meaning.”

AGWM missionary leaders, missiologists and scholars have met twice with leaders of Wycliffe and its partner ministry, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), to deal with the increasing disagreement concerning Bible translation practices.

Dr. Mark Hausfeld, director of Global initiative—Reaching Muslim Peoples, a ministry of AGWM, states, “Initially, familial language in the Bible is offensive to Muslims because the Qur’an and their religious instruction teach them not to apply such words as ‘Son’ and ‘Father’ to God. Our responsibility as followers of Jesus is to build relationships from which we can instruct Muslims in the truth of such familial terms from the biblical text as translated from the original languages. There is no need to change biblical language to try to help the Holy Spirit bring the Muslim to the understanding of the inspired text.”

Dr. Greg Mundis, AGWM executive director, says, “Our Fellowship is deeply committed to the integrity of Scripture. I believe we have done due diligence in researching, reflecting and searching both the Scriptures and our hearts. This places us in a position in which we cannot agree with Wycliffe/SIL’s stated and publicized position.”

AGWM has established a four-month review period until May 15, at which time a final decision will be made concerning its ongoing relationship with Wycliffe/SIL. The consequences could include asking AG personnel to leave Wycliffe/SIL, recommending that AG churches withdraw financial support for Wycliffe/SIL personnel, and engaging in translation ministry with other organizations holding a position on Bible interpretation comparable with AGWM convictions.

Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God, says, “Our Fellowship is unrelentingly committed to the authority and infallibility of Scripture. While we appreciate the challenges missionaries and translators face in intercultural communication, we will neither compromise nor dilute God’s eternal truth, nor change its intended plain meaning.”

In this challenging issue concerning Bible translation, AG World Missions leadership approaches this four-month time of review with fervent prayer and determination that our mission will neither compromise concerning the truth of God’s Word nor communicate inaccurately the nature of God the Father and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Emphasis mine. Wycliffe USA still has as its doctrinal statement on its website HERE, the statement at the center of AoG’s concern. I wonder how long it takes until Wycliffe leadership realizes this is not a minor issue.

March 4th, 2012

Vern Poythress Distances Himself from Bible Mistranslations

Wycliffe Bible Translators had invoked New Testament scholar Dr. Vern Sheridan Poythress to justify some of its mistranslations of “Father” and “Son” in some Bibles geared toward Muslims. I spoke with Dr. Poythress and he wants these terms to be translated literally. I review his article on Bible translation for Muslim readers HERE.  He has since clarified his position publicly in a post on his website:

In view of the continuation of controversies, I am having doubts as to whether my articles–which were intended to be a help–are in fact helping. So let me clarify my intentions.

In 2005, I criticized translations that remove language for sonship in translating “Son” (Greek huios) in the New Testament. Language that explicitly indicates a sonship relation between Jesus and God the Father needs to be present in translations, both for accuracy and for the spiritual health of the church. The same goes for translating the word “Father” (Greek pater). The Father-Son relation is an important aspect of Trinitarian teaching, which needs to be communicated clearly in translation. As a framework for translation, we need to recognize that human relationships between human fathers and sons are analogous to the original Trinitarian relationship. The Trinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son is foundational, rather than being, as some people allege, merely a culture-bound projection from human relationships.

Please read more HERE.

February 25th, 2012

After 7 Weeks of Denial, Wycliffe now Admits it was involved in producing Injil Sharif

Update: Wycliffe USA has edited its FAQ again. Now it admits they were involved in producing the 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif also known as Bengali Bible. This is after denying they were responsible for 7 straight weeks. I don’t understand why they continue editing their statements as Biblical Missiology releases evidence. Why don’t they just admit they were involved? It is very sad. A revised Wycliffe USA FAQ now read, “The 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif translation was produced by Global Partners and included a Bible Society consultant. Neither Wycliffe USA nor SIL had official involvement in the translation.” This is close. Pretty soon they will have to remove, “Neither Wycliffe USA nor SIL had official involvement in the translation.” Please pray and grieve for this once reputable Christian organization.

Wycliffe is probably not going to release any official explanation or statement. I don’t count on it especially since they have been unwilling to answer questions on record pertaining to this controversy. The FAQ was changed late yesterday after Biblical Missiology released an article, which documented Wycliffe and SIL involvement in the 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif.

Here is the initial statement Wycliffe/SIL released on January 12, 2012:

SIL did not advise this translation. A non-SIL consultant approved it, as did the United Bible Societies. The main Protestant church supports the translation, and the local Catholic seminary has praised it. This translation also explains that the term used is translating a Greek phrase of the form Son of God.

Though they originally denied having “any involvement” in the Injil Sharif, Wycliffe/SIL now admit they were unofficially involved in the project.

Gone also is Wycliffe’s previous claim the 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif was approved by the United Bible Societies.

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 23rd, 2012

Wycliffe Takes Stonewalling to a New Level

Wycliffe Bible Translators is still stonewalling. The leadership probably thinks this issue would go away but it wouldn’t. Not especially when each one of their statements has been full of lies. Not even the statement from February 15.

I called both SIL and Wycliffe offices this afternoon. And no official could give me information about where Rick Brown—their missiologist and linguist responsible for some of these mistranslations—went for graduate school. I called SIL in Dallas first and was asked to call Wycliffe in Orlando. Mark you; I wasn’t asking any questions pertaining to the controversy. I just wanted to know where Mr. Brown went to graduate school.

No luck. I wonder if releasing information about his educational background has any security implication. I spent a total of 15 minutes on the phone and could not get an answer. Even Mr. Brown’s boss Freddie Boswell, Jr., has colleges he attended listed. Why not Mr. Brown’s?

Wycliffe has taken stonewalling to a new level.

 

Wycliffe Bible Translators is still stonewalling. The leadership probably thinks this issue would go away but it wouldn’t. Not especially when each one of their statements has been full of lies. Not even the statement from February 15.

I called both SIL and Wycliffe offices this afternoon. And no official could give me information about where Rick Brown—their missiologist and linguist responsible for some of these mistranslations—went for graduate school. I called SIL in Dallas first and was asked to call Wycliffe in Orlando. Mark you; I wasn’t asking any questions pertaining to the controversy. I just wanted to know where Mr. Brown went to graduate school.

No luck. I wonder if releasing information about his educational background has any security implication. I spent a total of 15 minutes on the phone and could not get an answer. Even Mr. Brown’s boss Freddie Boswell has colleges he attended listed. Why not Mr. Brown’s?

Wycliffe has taken stonewalling to a new level.

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 10th, 2012

Pray for Wycliffe and SIL and the 340-Million Problem

Please pray for Wycliffe and SIL leaderships. They have to make some serious decisions. Contrary to what we have heard about just one translation—an Arabic audio Bible story—with error in rendering ‘Father’ and ‘Son,’ there are as many as 14.

Wycliffe USA Senior Vice President Russ Hersman admitted to the World Magazine last October there were about 30 to 40 translations that “”employ some alternate renderings” for the divine familial terms.””

Christian scholar Dr. Gordon Nickel, who has a PhD in Islamic studies, writes on Wycliffe USA’s Facebook page:

In the 1990s I witnessed a translation of the New Testament into an Asian language which consistently replaced “Son” with “beloved” (habeeb). I have a copy of the published translation. The SIL translator was a friend whom I liked a lot and very much admired! This is not a “political” attack on WBT, but a disagreement among Christians on how to render the words by which the Creator God chose to reveal Himself. That WBT are listening to concerns and engaging in conversation with Christians outside their circle is good news!

Dr. Nickel’s account shows there is at least one other translation out there.

Wycliffe USA needs to apologize publicly for how it has handled this crisis. Biblical Missiology, the group which started the public petition, which I belong to, should be thanked and not vilified. Our efforts have been called ‘satanic’ and our sincerity questioned. Some even thought I was a Muslim ‘plant.’

For those who are new to this controversy, this issue used to be discussed among Christians in outreach to Muslims circles. Then Wycliffe/SIL linguists and missiologists made it public through media interviews and magazine articles. For more information, please read, How the “Lost in Translation” Petition on Change.org Came to Be Now.

Thanks to Biblical Missiology, now ‘the man in the pew’ who donates his or her money for translations causes knows about it. Even Wycliffe and SIL staffs I have heard from want change. I hope this is a time for a God-honoring change in these two great Christian organizations.

Wycliffe and SIL need to marshal and use their resources wisely. Wycliffe USA claims on its website, “Today about 340 million people do not have any Scripture in their language. Wycliffe’s vision is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language they understand best.” This statement reveals two problems about the present crisis. First, modern translations of the Bible are already available in both Turkish and Arabic. Why are Wycliffe and SIL even bothering with these languages? Second, Wycliffe and SIL translations contain so many mistranslations about divine filial terms that the indigenous church in Turkey doesn’t want them. The same is true for Arab Christians. Why are these organizations wasting their resources on them and now defending them? Have they lost sight of their 340-million problem?

Wycliffe and SIL leadership are meeting today. Three linguists and missiologists are responsible for this current mess. Please, pray for these leaderships as they make some tough decisions.

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.

February 3rd, 2012

Wycliffe/SIL Call Efforts to Hold them Accountable for Accuracy in Bible Translations ‘Satanic’

Just in. First, a well-known and significant Wycliffe/SIL linguist has resigned over the “Son of God” controversy. He joins the ranks of at least 10 others who have quit these reputable organizations. Stay tuned.

Second, Wycliffe/SIL are denying mounting evidence of egregious and blasphemous work  to Word of God, courtesy of their staff on the mission field. Here is a message that was sent to one of the enquirers from the public.  The bottom is about to fall out for Wycliffe/SIL. I assure you, with evidence that is there, if these organizations indeed calls themselves Christian organizations and not rumored government operatives, whoever crafted this letter will be out of work come next week.  The letter, in part states, “We cannot stop people from writing what they want.  Satan certainly does not want God’s Word translated accurately since he has a greater influence that way. ”

You don’t have to go very far to find the evidence this is a fat LIE. Wycliffe’s own statement of faith states, “In particular regard to Bible translations done for Muslim contexts we affirm that in the majority of cases a literal translation of “Son of God” will be the preferred translation. In certain circumstances, specifically where it has been demonstrated that a literal translation of “Son of God” would communicate wrong meaning, an alternative form with equivalent meaning may be used. The alternative form must maintain the concept of “sonship”. All translations for Muslim audiences should include an explanation of the meaning of the phrase “ho huios tou theou” (the Son of God) when it refers to Jesus Christ. This may be in a preface, in one or more footnotes, or as a glossary entry, as seems appropriate to the situation.”

The above statement is very clear Wycliffe removes “Son of God.” What else would it mean? Please read Biblical Missiology’s FACT CHECK HERE.

Remember, Wycliffe and SIL have expurgated statements and even expunged one evidence from their websites which clearly show they have removed “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” from new Bible translations.

There is even more.

—————————————–

Hello XXX

Thank you for contacting Wycliffe inquiring about the validity of claims that Wycliffe is “removing the Son of God or God as Father from our translations.”

We are not. 

Wycliffe remains committed to the same objectives we’ve held sacred for 80 years: biblically accurate and culturally relevant translations of Scripture. Wycliffe never has and never will be involved in a translation which does not translate these terms. To say that we are removing any familial terms from the Bible is simply not true. We want people to fully understand what God meant when He called Himself “Father” and called Jesus his “Son”. Wycliffe continues to be faithful to accurate and clear translation of Scripture. The eternal deity of Jesus Christ and the understanding of Jesus’ relationship with God the Father must be preserved in every translation.

For further information you can see our statement on our website’s front page www.wycliffe.org , our FAQ section and that of the SIL website’s front page. www.SIL.org

We cannot stop people from writing what they want.  Satan certainly does not want God’s Word translated accurately since he has a greater influence that way.
Until all have heard,
Carol Weaver

Wycliffe Information Services (WIS)
Recruitment Ministries