Note: Don't miss this weekend's edition of "Understanding the Times" Radio. One of the features is my interview with seasoned Lebanese Bible translator and apologist, Georges Houssney, who has led the charge against the so-called "Muslim Friendly" Translations. Tune in nationwide or listen online anytime at www.olivetreeviews.org or www.ericbarger.com.
Now let's recap to bring everyone up to speed.
Back in 2011 we began to read headlines in the Christian media such as "The battle for accurate Bible translation in Asia" and "Holding Translators Accountable," both from World Magazine and perhaps the one that really grabbed my attention from World Net Daily which was, "New Bible yanks 'Father,' Jesus as 'Son of God' - Islam-sensitive project ignites controversy, online petition."
Upon researching and investigating, our entire on-air team on dedicated the entire March 10, 2012, Understanding the Times program to the issue. We also produced a nearly 40 minute-long Web Bonus Extra Podcast so as to give voice to many more details and also to interview more of the concerned parties. The program evoked such a response that we even replayed it on "Understanding the Times" on August 25, 2012 as well.
During our conversation on-air in March of 2012 we interviewed parties holding positions on both sides of this controversy. One of those was Wycliffe Bible Translators Exec. VP, Russ Hersman.
We spent an entire 30 minutes with Hersman, who defended Wycliffe's practice and participation in producing these so called "Muslim Friendly" renditions of the Bible. Wycliffe, and their translation partner SIL, or the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and others are responsible for producing around 40 versions of the Bible (in Arabic and Turkish) that eliminate phrases such as "God the Father" and God the Son" from the text. The general reason given for doing this is that these phrases are hot-button negatives and turn-offs to Muslims because the Quran states that Allah has no sons and does not refer to him as "Father." Muslims are also taught that Christians believe that God physically impregnated Mary to produce Jesus and that Mary is a member of the Trinity. Of course this is absolutely NOT what the Bible teaches, nor is it what orthodox Protestant Christians have ever believed.
During the interview Russ Hersman announced that Wycliffe and their translation partner, SIL, were going to subject the various questionable translations that they had been a part of to a "review of the Global Church." In May 2012, Bob Creson, the president of Wycliffe, announced that the World Evangelical Alliance would be doing the review and examination of the translations and that Dr. Robert E. Cooley, president emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and an Assemblies of God minister, would chair the panel reviewing Wycliffe/SIL practices and results.
Ten Suggestions That Shouldn't Have Been Necessary
So that brings us to where we are now. At the end of April, 2013, the WEA report (read here) was made public listing ten suggestions for Wycliffe.
One glaring problem with the World Evangelical Alliance report to Wycliffe is that they really never spoke to the fact that shouldn't have been done in the first place. If these once completely reputable translation organizations (Wycliffe, SIL, Frontiers, etc.) had remained 100% dedicated and completely faithful to God's Word, then these misleading translations would never have been conceived in the first place and I'd be discussing something else today.
I'm sure that donors thought they were supporting an organization that would never have removed such paramount phrases as "God the Father" and "God the Son" from any version of Scripture in any language, for any reason. To me, this displays a mindset of elevating man's wisdom over God's Word. Do we not trust the Holy Spirit to speak to the hearts of people when God's word is delivered in tact? As Georges Houssney told me on the May 18, 2013 edition of "Understanding the Times Radio we need to allow the infallible Scriptures to speak and not our opinions of how much of the Scripture is palatable for any culture worldwide.
And speaking of donors, consider this aspect. According to Forbes Magazine, Wycliffe Bible Translators grossed $167 million dollars in the fiscal year ending September 30th, 2011. I feel certain that their donors never dreamed that behind the scenes this postmodern mindset had entrenched itself in the management and mindset.
And Wycliffe/SIL isn't the only one infected with postmodern/Emergent thinking. Mission Frontiers has also taken the philosophy of "man's wisdom and good intentions over complete faithfulness to God's Word." In doing research for this weekend's radio broadcast I found that clearly displayed on the Frontiers website. The reasoning for doing the very thing that my on-air guest, veteran translator Georges Houssney, and I are alarmed about is that they believe they just simply know better.
At the core of this is not rank and file Bible translators. Many of them would give their lives for the precious Word of God. The majority of them are caught in the crossfire.
This is just one of the ugly results of postmodern thinking at work in the management of translation organizations and is more proof that we are surely living in what the Apostle Paul called "perilous times."
Examining the Examiners
Frankly, I didn't expect the World Evangelical Alliance report to truly be a rebuke to Wycliffe, SIL, Frontiers and others who appear to be led by the idea that old ways are wrong and an update of Christianity is needed.
One of the glaring tell-tale signs that such an examination by the WEA would prove of little real good was my discovery that the president of the World Evangelical Alliance, Geoff Tunnicliffe is a signer to the Yale Divinity School paper known as "Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between us and You," the premise of which is that Allah is Jehovah and the Isa or Jesus of the Quran is actually Jesus Christ. (more here) These are two of the misgivings that have led some to accept "Chrislam," an unbiblical philosophy I've been warning about for several years.
Making matters worse is the man who the WEA put in charge of the actual Wycliffe translation review. Though the Assemblies of God denomination have made a strong stand against the Muslim-friendly translations, one of their well-known professors was the chairman of the committee that produced the WEA ten suggestion report for Wycliffe. Dr. Robert E. Cooley, Professor Emeritus at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. And he is ALSO a signer on the Yale "Common Word" document! I detailed all of these issues; the Bible Translation problems, The Yale Document, The promotion of the Insider Movement in the translation community and more In my Take A Stand! Journal booklet "Islam and the Church" (more here).
The Insider Movement infects Translation Organizations
This whole idea of the Islam's Allah being Jehovah God and Isa being Jesus is also the core of another idea that has gained steam in postmodern circles known as The Insider Movement. It basically states that a person can embrace the Muslim God and the Muslim Jesus and then clandestinely operate as an undercover Christian while still embracing Islam and its practices including the so-called "First Pillar" recited regularly in every Mosque: "There Is No God But Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger."
If you wonder how widespread the Insider Movement model is in the Bible Translation community just hear these facts.
As late as last spring, Wycliffe was requiring their workers going to the Muslim World to read a book by Carl Medearis titled Muslims, Christians and Jesus which is a sort of textbook for postmoderns interested in using the Insider Movement model. I actually have an email from Wycliffe's West-Eurasia director in which he mandates the reading of Medearis' book for new Wycliffe workers going to Muslim countries.
The U.S. Director, of the Bible translation organization Mission Frontiers is Bob Blincoe. Blincoe has endorsed Medearis' book. In fact, in 2012 Frontiers, gave away 20,000 copies of Muslims, Christians and Jesus.
When one understands how the Insider Movement operates then you can get a clearer idea of how translation managers enamored with these ideas could be persuaded to disseminate versions of the Bible that change and erase phrases like "God the Son" and "God the Father."
In my Take A Stand! Journal booklet "Islam and the Church" I wrote extensively on the Bible Translation controversy and the Insider Movement. In it I stated, "Carl Medearis is unabashedly pro-Muslim, pro-Insider Movement, pro-Palestinian, and, as can be deduced from reading his own blog posts, is a staunch advocate of "Replacement Theology" and Dominionism - all of which also align with the deception of Chrislam. In short, Medearis is a purveyor of all things postmodern. If all of that were not already disturbing enough, perhaps most alarming is that Medearis is an advocate of several ideas associated with the "Insider Movement."
The revelation that Wycliffe was forcing new recruits to read Medearis' book - without any instruction or intimation that it was to somehow be taken as an educational tool to alert them against the Insider Movement - was the final straw for David Irvine which caused he and his wife, Deana, to leave Wycliffe just before going to their assignment somewhere in the Muslim world. (For more, read David Irvine's no-holds-barred review of Muslims, Christian, and Jesus at www.ericbarger.com/irvine.medearis.book.htm.
Knowing that Muslims, Christians, and Jesus has been recommended reading for all SIL/Wycliffe workers, required reading for new members, and glowingly endorsed by Frontiers explains the push for translations that soften the hard edge of the Bible's truths that are being produced by these once-trustworthy organizations. It's the postmodern way to be non-confrontational, politically correct, accepting of divergent ideas (whether fatal or not), and resistant to absolutes and to cover doing so with the veneer of "love." In fact, Medearis doesn't even believe that a Christian should evangelize the lost!
What Would Paul Do?
In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul visited Athens; a city infested with idols and cultic religions. Did Paul attempt to change or water down the Gospel message in order to make it somehow more attractive or palatable to those hearing or opposing him? Are hard core Muslims any more virulent or threatening than were the 1st Century Pharisees or Romans who loathed Christianity?
The fact is that nothing has changed about our Gospel. Nor has the opposition to it. Have we forgotten that Jesus warned us that we'd be hated, despised and perhaps killed for the sake of the Gospel?
It is the same now as it was in the 1st Century. A quick reading of Acts chapter 9 sounds eerily similar to our plight and every postmodern thinker who believes we need to veil or tone down the Gospel needs to read it.
Immediately after his conversion Saul, now Paul, went into the synagogues in Damascus and began proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God. Verse 22 says that Paul confounded the Jews at Damascus, proving the identity of Christ. He didn't present them something close or veer away from things that might offend them. He obviously didn't understand being "seeker-sensitive." Instead he just presented the whole truth.
The Jews were offended by him (just like we've been told that the Muslim world is offended by the phrases "God the Son" and "God the Father") and they began conspiring to kill him. Still he didn't back down and finally the disciples had to lower Paul down over the city walls in a basket under the cover of night so he could escape. Nothing dissuaded Paul concerning the bold, forthright message of the Gospel because he KNEW it was the only hope for those who would hear it. He proclaimed it like a dead man...dead to the world but completely alive in Christ. I suggest that this must be our approach and our motive today and each day as long as God gives us breath.
May 18, 2013 "Understanding the Times Radio
March 10, 2012 Understanding the Times Radio
March 10, 2012 Understanding the Times Web Bonus Podcast
Georges Houssney and Biblical Missiology
Biblical Missiology's Press Release concerning the WEA statement
More Related Links:
"The Deception of Chrislam" Eric Barger's DVD
"The Deception of Chrislam" article by Eric Barger
"The Truth About Islam" Eric Barger's DVD
"Failure to Translate" (abridged version)
"Islam and the Church" (Take A Stand! Journal booklets)
"I Can't Sign the Letter" article by Eric Barger
"Their god is NOT our God!" article by