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

  • Pingback: Wycliffe, SIL & Frontiers Controversy In the Media | Biblical Missiology

  • Jeff Morton

    Just a simple question: why is it when Rick Brown posits reasons for NOT using familial language in Bible translation (in IJFM and MF) it is not satanic (thus disagreeing with a couple thousand years of how we’ve understood the biblical teaching), but it is somehow satanic when we disagree with Rick Brown?

    Why the double standard?

    • RuediG

      If I understand it correctly, the issue of “satanic” has to do with the manner and ease in which this conflict is carried out. No christian grace, no unity, no desire to understand. Just to accuse and destroy. As I’ve written elsewhere, if my atheist friends knew about this, they would be laughing all the way to the bank, so to speak. In that way, this controversy is giving Satan great pleasure! We are a house divided, and instead of seeking healing, we pursue the course about which our Lord has told us, “A house divided cannot stand.” Satan’s house couldn’t stand that way, but neither can ours.

  • Adam S.

    It is clear to anyone who carefully reads the varying statements by WBT-SIL and associated organizations that there is ambiguity and obfuscation in what they are saying.

    There is ample evidence from their own words that they have not always literally translated the divine familial language literally.

    I have in my possession audio works of theirs (Stories of the Prophets, formerly, Lives of the Prophets) and a printed work, The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ (all in Arabic) in which Larry Ciccarelli (aka Leith Gray, Larry Chico, and Mansour Ciccarelli) of WBT-SIL was one of the main contributors, that remove and/or redefine the literal translations of “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God” in addition to other inexcusable liberties in “translation.” You can read Ciccarelli’s justification for this in his article, “The Missing Father” under his pseudonym, Leith Gray, at: http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/the-missing-father

    • RuediG

      Publishing someone’s pseudonym is a despicable act of betrayal. Is Judas our model now?

      • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein

        Adam has every right and a duty as a follower of Jesus Christ to expose heretics within the Church, especially those who have taught and written publicly. Had these Wycliffe/SIL linguists and experts written under their actual names, Wycliffe/SIL would have known sooner and this fiasco could have been averted. So, Adam did what was and is right and now these folks are exposed. By the way, they are ivory-tower ‘imperialists’ (in the sense that they would not listen to the native speakers of a language they consult for and only go on the field when their schedule calls for) hence necessary to expose them. Please, pray for Wycliffe/SIL to rid their organizations of these heretics.

        • RuediG

          SIL knew perfectly well who is who, and what they believe and write. So I’m not concerned about exposing them in that way. I’m concerned about endangering them. Endangering people by betraying their names reminds me of Bangladesh where some “christians” did that to other christians and now they have the blood of our martyred brothers and sisters on their hands.

          As for listening to native speakers, listen to the Qur’an and hear what it says the phrase “ibn allah” means. Maybe christianized native speakers have forgotten that. Muslims haven’t.

  • Adam S.

    1-Russ Hersman has admitted to doing so in World Magazine (http://www.worldmag.com/articles/18687):

    Wycliffe and SIL acknowledge backing translation work that didn’t render “Son of God” and “God the Father” literally. The new standards tighten what non-literal renderings are acceptable, they say. In the 1990s, translators were “experimenting” with some alternative terms like “Messiah of God” or “Christ of God,” said Russ Hersman, a Wycliffe USA senior vice president. “What we would say explicitly today: They don’t carry the meaning of sonship, so they’re not adequate,” he told me.

    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.”

    “To them it says, ‘Ah, that means a divine family relationship, a divine social relationship, but not a procreative relationship,’” Hersman said.

    2-Rick (Richard) Brown of SIL, in Christianity Today, acknowledges this practice while being careful not to directly admit WBT-SIL’s involvement, (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/february/soncrescent.html?start=3):

    Brown, along with other translators and missionaries, contends that the alternate phrasing makes a tremendous difference in Muslims’ receptivity to the Bible…In the early 1990s, concerned Christians, national ministries, and mission agencies gathered to consider a new Bible translation that would be more meaningful for Muslim readers. Working in conjunction with the nation’s Bible society, they reverted to an older translation as the basis for the new version. They updated the language and strategically changed particularly challenging phrases. After testing several options for rendering “Son of God,” they opted for “the Beloved Son who comes (or originates) from God.”

    In 1989 a video on the life of Christ was being recorded in a certain language…So the translator finally changed ‘Son of God’ to ‘Beloved of God’, a phrase these people used for an only son. Everyone was satisfied and they recorded the video (Brown: The Son of God: Understanding the Messianic Titles of Jesus, IJFM, p. 50) http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/17_1_PDFs/Son_of_God.pdf

    Recently I read a report about two people groups which have traditionally been very closed to Christianity, as they understood it. Cassette tapes on the life of Christ were produced for them using the phrase ‘God’s Messiah’ and ‘God’s Word’ instead of ‘Son of God’. (Brown: The Son of God: Understanding the Messianic Titles of Jesus, IJFM, p. 50) http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/17_1_PDFs/Son_of_God.pdf

    [In all of these cases, Brown is referring to work done in part or in whole by WBT-SIL personnel. WBT-SIL released a version of the Jesus Film that removed these terms which was unauthorized by Campus Crusade].

    3-Timothy Farrell of WBT-SIL in the UK worked on the Baluchi New Testament in Southern Asia. It consists of a “meaning-based” or “heart-language” text that removes the divine familial language facing the Greek text with a literal, interlinear Baluchi translation under the Greek. This same format has also been done in Turkish with the Gospel of Matthew. It is then claimed that since the literal translations of the divine familial language, along with the unaltered Greek are in the text, this “means” that the divine familial language has not been removed. This is a deceptive claim as the text that Farrell and others translated and/or rendered, eliminates these terms.

    4-If anyone can listen to Arabic, they can listen to the following accounts of the life of Jesus from WBT-SIL’s, “Stories of the Prophets” (formerly known in English as Lives of the Prophets):

    http://anbiya.net/ or http://sabeelmedia.com/

    5-If anyone can read Arabic, they can purchase “The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ” published by Al Kalima, a publishing company started and run by Mazhar Mallouhi with Frontiers (http://al-kalima.com/index.html or http://www.amazon.co.uk/True-Meaning-Gospel-Acts-Arabic/dp/9953713065/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&a mp;qid=1326834975&sr=8-1). Larry Ciccarelli of WBT-SIL (aka Leith Gray, Larry Chico, and Mansour Ciccarelli) was one of the main translation consultants. You can also refer people to my charts of both the Lives of the Prophets and The True Meaning at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/M/mallouhi.html

    6-I can send you the back translation of the Lives of the Prophets’ original version in Baghdadi Arabic. It was provided by Steve(n) Coats of WBT-SIL and president of Sabeel Media. It takes the transcript of the Jesus Film and greatly modifies it, including the elimination of the Prodigal Son story.

    7-Carefully read the WBT-SIL statements and policies on translation. Apart from the recent statements, most of them do not clearly state that the removal of the divine familial terms are NOT removed but rather that they are committed to “accurately conveying” the “meanings” of this terminology. As I mentioned in point 3, it must be understood that when WBT-SIL states that they have not removed the divine familial language, what they mean by that is as long as they use terminology that they have deemed to “accurately convey” these terms (as found in the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) then they have “not removed” them. This is duplicitous at best as they know that we are referring to the literal translations of the divine familial language in any given language.

    9-Larry Ciccarelli of WBT-SIL, writing under the pseudonym of Larry Chico and sent to the PCA without his name on it, wrote on his organization’s behalf, “Considering Overture 9″ in which he defended the practice of rendering the divine familial language with non-literal terminology, thus acknowledging WBT-SIL’s role in so doing. His paper was distributed to help stop the passage of “Overture 9″ which condemns this practice. The overture passed in spite of Ciccarelli’s article (http://pcaac.org/2011GeneralAssembly/Overture%209%20Potomac%20Faithful%20Witness%203-31-11 .pdf).

    10-All can read the current and archived articles written by Rick Brown and Larry Ciccarelli (the latter writing under the name of Leith Gray) in which it will be very apparent that these articles are written to justify non-literal renderings of the divine familial language. These articles are written to persuade the reader and have been used as the “scholarly” justification for this inexcusable practice. The two websites are: http://ijfm.org/index.htm and http://www.missionfrontiers.org/.

    11-In WBT’s response to the Lost In Translation petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible) they admit that they have not literally rendered the divine familial language but have translated them “more accurately from the inspired Greek” (https://sites.google.com/site/thinkingblack/wrong-bibles-petition).

  • RuediG

    I am deeply saddened by this polemic. I’m not sure whether “Satanic” is the right word, to describe it, but I’m very sure that “Christian” would not the right word. May the Lord have mercy on the instigators of this modern-day witch hunt.

    • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein

      You say,

      May the Lord have mercy on the instigators of this modern-day witch hunt.

      I hope you will apologize when Wycliffe and SIL acknowledge their experts have misled them. I am 100% sure the allegations are true. Wycliffe and SIL leadership did not know what was going on. They are finding out now.

    • Elijah (The Saudi)

      Your ignorance on this issue and lack of understanding of the TRUE word of GOD is clearily evident in your VOID replies and apparent zeal for NOTHING.

      I suggest you examine the issue using the word of God as your guide and not your fallible human emotions.

      I am a former Muslim and can assure you that what Wycliffe/SIL are doing brings shame to even Muslims because they do not see acts as this as LOVING them to CHrist but rather LOVING them all the way to HELL. They consider these acts shameful and deceptive.

      Yur opinion of this forum and what we stand for against these heretics is of NO impact to us at all and bears no significance whatsoever. After all, fools are only wise in thier oun follys.

  • Warrick Farah

    Hi Hussein,

    I deeply appreciate your ministry. But lately I’m curious about why you seem to be so passionate about this issue? As an MBB yourself, you have a great voice to led us to exalting the Messiah before Muslims. But this fundatmentalist attack against SIL is a distraction to our ministies; it is divisive, arrogant, and polarizing. There are far better ways to disagree with fellow believers.

    I respect you, brother. I think you’re better than to get involved in this issue, and I hope you will move on to blogging about more profitable topics so we can all continue to learn from you!

    With Love In Christ the Eternal Son of God,

    • http://biblicalmissiology.org Pierre Rashad Houssney


      How dare you trivialize the integrity of the scripture, and try to shame this dear brother Hussein into silence.

      Of course there are other ways to disagree, but are there other ways to stop these organizations from dragging the reputation of the Bible through the mud, right in front of the Muslims of the world?

      Many other attempts at communicating with Wycliffe/SIL and Frontiers have failed. Numerous resignations of their staff members have left their viewpoints unchanged. Conferences and meetings galore have done nothing. Outcry from the nationals, including open letters from Bible societies and Churches in Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other countries have not stopped these unwanted translations from being distributed. What else is left to do?

      What is more important? The reputation of a reputable Christian organization? Or the reputation of the Word of God???

      Do you want to talk about divisive? These translations are what is causing division.

      Do you want to talk about arrogance? Arrogance is when Western translators impose their ideas on the national believers (like Hussein).

      Wake up and listen to the voices rising up around the world. Look at the interactive map of where the petition comments are coming from, and examine your heart as you read the words of hundreds of nationals and former Muslims, dozens of former Wycliffe/SIL/Frontiers staff members, and thousands of Christians from around the world.


  • Z

    That stuff about about rumored government agents is old stuff.


    The same falsehoods were lodged againsted other mission organizations operating in South America: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Tribes_Mission

    • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein

      I didn’t imply Wycliffe and SIL were doing clandestine operation on behalf of the United States government, I was just saying they were not acting like Christian organization but like “rumored government operatives.”

  • sarah

    I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t understand your argument. I don’t see the logic of your statements.

    • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein

      Really? Wycliffe/SIL call the mounting evidence again them “Satan attacks” when even Wycliffe’s own statement online repudiates their charge. (Did you read Wycliffe’s Doctrinal Beliefs and Translation Standards http://www.wycliffe.org/TranslationStandards.aspx I have heard Wycliffe/SIL linguist Jim Pohlig has resigned over the “Son of God” issue. With how arrogant Wycliffe and SIL have dealt with this issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if they call his decision also as due to ignorance.

      • sarah

        You refer to ‘mounting evidence,’ but there is no such thing. What is piling up is a lot of criticism which is based on false rumors. With respect, what you have referred to as evidence is a disaster of twisted logic.

        Furthermore, I’m not sure where the charge of arrogance arises against the organizations to which you refer. If you mean that they won’t change according to the demands of the petitioners, I don’t see how that in itself constitutes arrogance. These organizations are standing firm for good translation principles in the face of demands that they promise to do something that would guarantee bad translations.

        Where X = literal translation and Y = alternate which communicates proper meaning, this is the essence of the issue:

        Translation organizations say: In the rare cases when X communicates wrong meaning, we will search for a Y alternate.

        Petitioners say: You must always use X.

        And thus, what the petitioners may not realize they are saying is: You must produce translations which communicate wrong meaning.

        Vern Poythress has done a great job of explaining some of the issues in a recent blog post: http://www.missionfrontiers.org/blog/post/bible-translations-for-muslim-readers

        Thanks for taking the time to consider my words.

        • http://biblicalmissiology.org Pierre Rashad Houssney


          You would be correct if X really did communicate wrong meaning. But it absolutely does not do so in the languages in question. This is well attested by virtually all of the native speakers of these languages.

          Look at the petition comments and you will see how mary native speakers and former Muslims have signed. You are choosing to believe the Western linguistic theorists over the local believers. This is very unfortunate.

          I speak Arabic, and I can tell you for sure that the literal words for “Father” and “Son” do not communicate this “wrong meaning” of “sexual connotations” at all. The only reason the Wycliffe/SIL, Frontiers, and other IM people think that is because “God did not have sex with Mary” is the most common polemic argument by Muslims against the IDEA of “Son of God”. This is not a LINGUISTIC issue – meaning that they are not responding that way because of the Arabic words, as these translators are assuming.

          They are responding that way because Muslims are widely taught that Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God, but that it’s blasphemous, because the IDEA (not WORDS) of “Son of God” would mean that God had sexual relations with Mary. This is the same in English as it is in Arabic.

          All that is needed is to add a footnote that explains that “Son” and “Father” do not imply a physical relationship.

          Numerous native speakers of these other languages used by Muslims have told me the exact same thing about their languages, and the false charges that are being made against them to justify these ridiculous Western translations. And they are angry because these translations are giving Muslims the right to say what they have always said- that the Bible has been corrupted. Yet the locals have no power to stop these powerful Western institutions with budgets in the hundreds of Millions of dollars.

          It’s time for the Western church to stand up and defend the locals against this neo-colonialism.

          I urge you, Sarah, get ahold of a native speaker and interview them about this – see what they think. I can guarantee it will change your perspective.

          • http://biblicalmissiology.org Pierre Rashad Houssney


            The fact that Muslims know that Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and even have a ready-made argument against that fact should show the error of changing it in the Bible. Imagine a Muslim arguing with a native speaking Christian, who is trying to explain that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Muslim handing one of these translations to the Christian, and saying “show me where in the Bible it says that Jesus is the Son of God”. The Christian would have no option other than admitting that the Bible has been changed.

            What a terrible disservice to our brothers and sisters in Christ who live among Muslims. God forbid this should continue.

          • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein


            The “sexual connotations” argument is ludicrous. It doesn’t make any sense. Just out of curiosity, I searched the Qur’an to see how many times “sexual connotation” comes up in relation to Allah having a son. It comes up only once. However, the Qur’an denies another being sharing divinity with Allah almost 60 times. And the issue of corruption of scripture, more than 2 times. So, even based on the Qur’an, when a Muslim reads “Son of God,” if they are actually practicing Muslims and know what is in the Qur’an, the issue that comes to their mind is Jesus’ divinity not the “sexual connotation.” The charge of corruption of Christian and Jews scriptures comes second.

        • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein


          I hope you will apologize to me and others when this issue is resolved. Thank you.