In April of 2011 my wife and I had three weeks left before flying back to a part of the world where I had grown up. After 39 years I would be living among a people and in a culture that spoke my “heart language”. We had become members of Wycliffe Bible translators, reasoning that there could be no nobler an endeavor than to help bring the Bible, God’s word, into the many languages of that region.

 

Last year we were able to visit the country for three weeks, a visit that confirmed how dear the people are, and that I felt at home there. We spent some time with the team we would be working with. We saw that these are people who are dedicated to the task, who have a heart for those without Christ, and who desire to see the Scripture translated into the many languages of the diverse peoples in this country, despite the danger involved. We were thrilled at the prospect of helping to provide the Bible for those without it, because it is the Bible that tells us clearly what God is really like.

 

However, in the weeks before we were to leave for the field, what had been a small concern for us earlier on began to loom larger and larger. It was about a methodology that I had first heard about during a trip to a Muslim country in 2004, one that at first sounded reasonable, loving and full of promise for spreading the gospel in the Muslim context. But as I compared it with Scripture, I realized that something was wrong.

 

Soon I was to find out that the director of the region where we were going to work required us to read a book on Christian mission to Muslims that struck me as highly problematic, with sparse and sloppy use of scripture to prove the validity of this strange movement.

 

After thirty four years in law enforcement and eight years as a SWAT negotiator, I have learned that things are not always as they seem, or as they are presented to be, and that sometimes people get involved in things that they do not understand, and become facilitators of ends they never intended.

 

I found that when I asked specific questions about Wycliffe’s translation strategy for Muslim audiences, I was not given specific answers, only more material (not scripture) to read about the validity of this method. Soon it became clear to me that this missiology, along with the Bible translation strategy that goes with it were not just one of many strategies used in that field, as that field entity and Wycliffe publicly claim, but has actually been adopted as the one new paradigm for their future work in the Muslim world. They view it as being missiologically-informed and in keeping with a growing body of research on fruitful practices for Scripture engagement in Muslim communities. This new paradigm is actually the paradigm for future projects, and is a key component of the strategy that they say will stimulate and enable creative approaches to Scripture translation among indigenous groups of believers. It is highly contextualized, sensitive and relevant to the local needs. This paradigm is called transformational and indigenous church translation style, but is designed to fit with a missiological strategy known more widely as Insider Movement (IM) and now, apparently to avoid touching off debate, “Jesus Movements”.

 

In a nutshell, the insider paradigm encourages followers of Jesus to remain in their cultures and religions, and not be extracted from their identities, families and communities. In the Muslim context they should continue to call themselves Muslims and practice Islam. The IM translation style has been called Muslim Idiom Translations (MIT), which often replaces phrases like “Son of God” with “Messiah” (or another phrase that does not communicate the idea of “sonship”) to avoid the offensive idea that God had sexual relations with Mary to produce a son. Thus leaving Muslims more open to reading the translated scriptures and becoming followers of Jesus (Isa). Below are my questions, my assessments, and what I see as one who was born and raised in a Muslim country, and who spoke that country’s language before English. The question I will address is whether the IM missiology with the accompanying MIT translation strategy is a question of best practices in spreading the gospel to closed cultures, or is it a deceptive fundamental shift from traditional theology to postmodern theology, even deceiving the elect?

 

Postmodern thinking denies the possibility of knowing objective and binding truth. “It involves the belief that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs, as they are subject to change inherent to time, place, culture and religion. It emphasizes the role of language… and is often associated with difference, (and) plurality.”[1]  Instead of living by objective standards based on knowable objective truths, we instead must live out our own identities and stories in our particular context. There is a new quest for relevance, one that is private and contextual.

 

My assessment of God’s word is that it has been counter cultural ever since the Fall. He calls a people of His own out of their cultures and many times out of their families, into His household.[2] God’s pattern is to reveal truth. He does not “dialogue” with cultures so truth can emerge or evolve through their religious beliefs.[3] His word stands in contrast to what they believe. Throughout history He confronts people with the truth of his holiness and of human depravity, and then shows us that He has provided himself as a living sacrifice, the only way to life. There is no other name by which man can be saved.[4] That is the gospel, and it is always offensive. His path and way is narrow, not inclusive.

 

IM and MIT on the other hand do not match that restrictive and confrontive paradigm; they elevate culture and religion and make the gospel less offensive and more inclusive; so as to be a more “appropriate Christianity”[5]. They elevate human identity and focus on God’s love over and above His justice. This is a different paradigm than what the Bible presents to us. It is an extension of the paradigm that I see in the emergent church, extended to missions and other cultures.

 

A manifestation of postmodernism’s low view of objective truth can be seen in a propensity to be vague in definitions and hold what has been called a “…contempt for clarity and authority.”[6] In the IM and MIT discussion, people on opposing sides are talking past each other, some intentionally and others unknowingly, with totally different paradigms even though all claim to be furthering the gospel. Instead of being on the same planet going from point A to point B, folks are in different solar systems. Many don’t seem to know or acknowledge that their foundations are different. I see many who are in denial of this shift, believing they are standing in the traditional historical Christian paradigm; yet unknowingly funding, supporting, and furthering a new and different gospel. Some know there is something amiss and feel uncomfortable, but they defer to “the experts” and follow along. Then there are those who think this is the gospel. They see those of us who are raising flags and asking questions as simply stuck in a fading divisive dogma. We are simply “critics”.

 

An article by Andrew Walls[7] that was sent to me by the director of the entity to which I was assigned, and who is an IM proponent, particularly caught my attention.

 

It seems to me that IM proponents pick up on three themes developed by Walls. First, there is the idea that Christianity is “shifting” geographically and substantively as it progresses or is lived out. He says that geographically the “center of gravity of the Christian church has moved sharply southwards. The representative Christianity of the twenty-first century seems set to be that of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific region”.[8]  In regards to substance he states, that there is “a great retreat from Christianity” and “a massive accession to Christian faith.”[9] This is a retreat from what he calls “Western Hellenistic Christianity” to a massive acquisition of “Christian faith” being “born anew in each context”[10] of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific region.

 

This new acquisition of faith is being expressed and revealed in his second theme that Christianity is an ongoing act of re-translation. It began with God made human, the word made flesh. Walls calls this “a great act of translation: in the incarnation, God is translated into humanity…”[11] (italics are mine except for the Greek words below). This process is then re-translated into receptor languages, cultures and religions where it reveals new truth as it is lived out and expressed contextually.  Walls’ theme of new acquisition through “re-translation” (language) as an ongoing revelation of truth again fits the postmodern paradigm well.[12] It is interesting and disturbing that he links incarnation and translation but omits any discussion of inspiration and its place in authoritative revelation. Walls says theology “is therefore occasional and local in character”[13]. The implication is we should not expect any sort of Christian unity in theology.

 

To demonstrate his theme of the role of re-translation, Walls gives as an example the Jewish concept of Messiah not being understood by the Greeks. So “They had to translate, to find a term that told something about Jesus and yet meant something to a Greek pagan.  According to Acts (11:19-21), they chose the word Kyrios, ‘Lord,’ the title that Greek pagans used for their cult divinities“.[14] This same thinking is what drives Muslim Idiom Translations for Muslim contexts. The flaw is that “Lord” was not a new concept to Israel or Judaism, just as “Son of God” is not new to Islam. Applying them to Jesus meant and means He is God on both counts.[15] It is shocking how matter-of-factly Walls equates the inspired writing of the New Testament books to translations into new cultures today.[16] Incarnational missiology and transformational IM translations imply ongoing inspiration, though it is not called inspiration, it is called expression, enrichment, and transformational. It develops new truths in theology and revelation[17]. Walls says, “(translation) issued in an expanded understanding of who Christ is. Christian theology moved on to a new plane when Greek questions were asked about Christ and received Greek answers, using the Greek scriptures. It … led the church to rich discoveries about Christ that could never have been made using only Jewish categories such as Messiah. Translation enriched; it did not negate the tradition.”[18] A note to be made here is that the IM MIT proponents view culture and religion as being virtually the same and inseparable. So Greek questions of the early centuries are actually pagan questions and correspondingly, Arab or other Muslim cultures raise Muslim questions. So the particular cultural context into which one is re-translating provides the impetus for new ongoing revelation.

 

“What Greeks wanted to know was the relationship of that ultimately significant Christ to the Father. Thus, inevitably, the language of ousia (“substance” in the Creed) and hypostasis (“person”) enters. Were Christ and the Father of the same ousia? Or different as to ousia? Or similar in ousia? To find out meant a process of exploring what Christians really believed about their Lord, using the indigenous methods of Greek intellectual discourse.”[19] So are we to conclude that it is the Greek pagans “exploring what they really believed,” and not inspiration, that gave Christianity the truths of ousia and hypostasis? How wonderfully postmodern for such an ancient people; truth was not given to them by God through the inspired writings of the New Testament, rather they came to truth by exploring what they really believed. Walls continues, “We are now at the threshold of a time when new questions will be asked about Christ, arising from the attempt to express him in settings that are dominated by the venerable traditions of Asia and Africa. … (T)his can only enrich the church’s understanding of Christ and lead to new discoveries in theology.”[20] This is a rejection of the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture. This is a theological and missiological paradigm shift from the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Scriptures, a construct of the modern west, to a more modern objectivity that makes room for postmodern subjectivity. This is described as “contextual theology” and “self-theologizing” which is based on the premise that plurality of cultures presupposes a plurality of theologies.

 

The third theme is that of extraction versus conversion and transformation. Here again we see a core value of postmodernism; “it holds realities to be plural and relative.”[21] Walls’ distinction between extraction and conversion is important to grasp in order to understand what validates Insider Movements ideas that the “convert” should not conform to what is seen as “another culture’s Christianity”, but live out their own version of “faith” inside their own culture and communities. The only way to impact their own culture is to remain in it. According to Walls a proselyte is one who leaves his own culture and identifies with another by adopting their system and ceremonies. He is extracted and can have very little effect on his own culture. He uses the Jewish system of proselytizing as an example. “Proselytes…were circumcised, were baptized, thus symbolically washing away the dirt of the heathen world, and entered into the life of Israel by seeking to obey the Torah.”[22] Walls goes on to say “But the great council described in Acts 15, which considered how Gentiles who believed in Jesus should be introduced into the community, deliberately rejected the time-honored model of the proselyte.”[23] He says these “ex pagans” “…should be left to find a Christian lifestyle of their own within Hellenistic society under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They were not to be proselytes, but converts.”[24] However, they were not left on their own; the Jewish theologian and Apostle Paul gave them a great deal of practical and theological guidance that was actually inspired not just translated. The epistle to the Galatians is an example of this.[25]

 

Walls continues his theme of “conversion and transformation” enriching faith by saying it is not “about substituting something new for something old; that is the proselyte (and extraction) model …Nor is it a matter of adding something new to something old. It is much more radical than either. It is the steady, relentless turning of all the mental and moral processes toward Christ. In other words, it is turning what is already there; turning to Christ the elements of the “pre-conversion setting.”[26] He elevates the pagan religion, culture and language, the “pre-conversion setting”, to a position of medium in shaping theology and truth.  

 

By Wall’s definition if you do anything other than contextualize the gospel, you are proselytizing. IM says that traditional “Western missions” are a proselytizing model, which stymie growth in faith and theology and “have … virtually no impact on …(the particular culture/religion being reached out to)[27]; whereas his contextualized “conversion” model is the informed method to convert one’s own society towards Christ from within. Again he gives the New Testament Greek converts as an example. “(They) had to learn to keep turning their ways of thinking and doing things–which, of course, were Greek ways of thinking and doing things–towards Christ, opening them up to his influence. In this way a truly Greek, truly Hellenistic type of Christianity was able to emerge. Not only so, but that Hellenistic Christianity was able to penetrate the Hellenistic intellectual and social heritage. Hellenistic thought, Hellenistic social and family life, and Hellenistic civic organization were challenged, modified, and put to new uses–but from the inside…”[28] Notice he said “type of Christianity was able to emerge”.

 

In summary, I see IM missiology saying that traditional Christianity is a type the West has developed through its Hellenistic pagan paradigm and its way of reasoning. But it does not own Christ, faith, or Christianity. It is not about one “Classical Systematic Theology” controlling Christianity, extracting proselytes, but about the plurality of cultures, emergent expansion of new theologies, and enrichment of “types” of Christian faith and as it is incarnationally re-translated into each new receptor language, culture and religion, by “converts” who use their indigenous methods and terms, retain their identity, and remain insiders. Not to adopt this radical thinking is to hang on to a withering traditional “Western” type of Christianity that is not applicable to these eastern cultures and their context.[29] Rather we ought to encourage Insiders “to find a Christian lifestyle of their own within (Muslim, Hindu…) society under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”[30]  If we do not use this method we will have “virtually no impact on their society.”[31] Wycliffe linguists and their partner organizations have adopted this paradigm. They say that it is the most fruitful, missiologically-informed, “style” for the Muslim world. They are finding, enabling and supporting Insider Movements, then working with them in producing these highly contextualized and “relevant” MIT translations of the Bible.

 

In this well-crafted paradigm the rules have been rewritten so that no argument against it is applicable, no matter how well thought out or well-reasoned the argument may be. Any attempts to draw parallels to bad theology or false faith are not applicable to the new context specifically because the western rules do not apply. Contextualizing aspects of God’s truth is not seen as relativism, but as revelation. So what critics see as minimizing Biblical truth is actually viewed by IM proponents as enhancing and enriching it. Historical Christianity is looked at and revised through the lens of these re-written, re-invented rules. In so doing, they have ‘reset” the foundational doctrines.

 

Every one of these themes fits well into the postmodern paradigm. This looks more and more like an adoption of new values and even doctrinal definitions rather than a move to more efficient “fruitful practices”.

 

These are the conclusions my wife and I came to and the reason we resigned from Wycliffe. Wycliffe says that they do not have an official position on IM, yet they fund and support staff and projects who have adopted this very paradigm and its resulting translations for work in the Muslim world.

 

In its mission endeavors the church needs to ask some difficult questions of itself and its workers in the field to insure that its missiological quest for relevance is not leading to increasing irrelevance by diluting the gospel and biblical understandings with syncretistic postmodern practices and beliefs. Likewise, mission organizations and field workers need to be willing to be transparent in their reporting relationships with supporters in the sending countries, and be willing to be held accountable by those supporters, and by the broader church and its leaders. Otherwise, we may find ourselves having created a new religion that is not “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”.[32]

 

 



[1] Wikipidia, Postmodernism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism

[2] E.g. Josh 24:2-3, Eph 2:19, Col 1:13.

[3] E.g. Isa 55:7-9, 1 Pet 1:18. See Lingenfelter’s Transforming Culture, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992. “Yet these social systems and worldviews become prisons of disobedience, entangling those who hold them in a life of conformity to social images that at their roots are in conflict with God’s purpose for humanity as expressed in Jesus Christ ” (17)  based on Ps. 14:1-3, Rom. 11:32 and Gal. 3:22. “I reject the notion that culture or worldview is neutral. Analogies such as Kraft’s ‘map’… are inadequate to capture the pervasive presence of sin” (18). Hiebert and Hesselgrave are other missionary anthropologists who accept the sinfulness of culture, while Kraft believes culture is neutral.

[4] Acts 4:12

[5] The Rev. Basil Grafas, “Super-sizing Jesus: Enlarging the Incarnation in Contemporary Missiology,” St Francis Magazine Nr. 3 Vol. III, December 2007

[6] John MacArthur’s summary of a quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), 15-16 in “The Truth War”, John MacArthur, Nelson Books, Nashville Tennessee, 2007 p. 191.

[7] Andrew Walls, “The Mission of the Church Today in the Light of Global History,” University of Edinburgh, Word & World, Volume XX, Number 1 [Edinburgh, Scotland], Winter 2000

[8] Walls, The Mission of the Church 18

[9] Walls, The Mission of the Church 17

[10] Basil Grafas p. 3

[11] Walls, The Mission of the Church 19

[12] This is anticipated by Kraft’s receptor-orientation and his view that the incarnation is not so much a once-for-all revelation but a model of divine-human interaction and dynamic revelation (p. 169ff. Christianity in Culture, Orbis, 1979). This contrasts sharply with the preeminence of God’s authoritative communication. (Heb 1:2). Kraft admits to holding the “traditionally liberal concept of continuing revelation” while attempting to fit it into “an evangelical system” (ibid. 179, note 2). The idea behind “God’s pre-eminent communication (Heb 1:2)” is sonship (“God has spoken to us in SON” – no article). So if the sentence is clarified, focus should not shift to fact or authority of the communication, but the focus should remain on the MEANS of God’s pre-eminent communication – SON.

[13]Andrew Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History (Orbis, 2000) 10; (emphasis original)

[14] Walls, The Mission of the Church 19

[15] In this text, believing Jews use kyrios to preach Jesus to Greeks. The Jews at that time had been using the Septuagint for at least 200 years. And kyrios in the LXX was often used to translate YHWH.

[16] It is also disappointing that Walls fails to consider the history of the earliest Greek translations in regards to kyrios and how this might affect his theories.

[17] not unlike the views of Emil Brunner and other neo-orthodox theologians of the 1950′s

[18] Walls, The Mission of the Church 20

[19] Walls, The Mission of the Church 20

[20] Walls, The Mission of the Church 20

[21] Wikipidia, “Postmodernism,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism

[22] Walls, The Mission of the Church 20

[23] Walls, The Mission of the Church 20

[24] Walls, The Mission of the Church 20

[25] Gal. 1:6-9 speaks of distorting the gospel

[26] Walls, The Mission of the Church 21

[27] Walls, The Mission of the Church 21

[28] Walls, The Mission of the Church 21

[29] Here IM proponents face two internal inconsistencies. On the one hand their methodology has not arisen from “inside” but is an imported “Western” idea. On the other hand, IM decries “Western” Christianity as being too “Western” in its own methodologies. Is not IM’s inflammatory talk of “withering tradition” more than a bit hypocritical?

[30] Walls, The Mission of the Church 20

[31] Walls, The Mission of the Church 21

[32] Jude 3 – Even this verse is distorted by IM thinking: “Kraft thinks it a culturally prejudiced Western view when evangelicals regard “the faith once for all delivered” (Jude 3) as a system of doctrine rather than a relationship to God (ibid. 133). But a relationship can hardly be delivered once-for-all; propositional truths can be.” Henry, Carl F. H. Review Article – The Cultural Relativizing Of Revelation TrìnJ 01:2 (Fall 1980), 161.

I was born and grew up in Iran. I came to the Lord here in the US in 1972. I took 3 years of Bible College preparing for the ministry when I began my “accidental” career in law enforcement. My wife and I have been interested and drawn to missions for years. Upon my retirement we joined Wycliffe USA and spent a year and a half training and preparing to go to West Asia to run an SIL NGO. We learned that SIL Eurasia had adopted the Insider Movement and resulting Muslim Idiom Translation style for the region and resigned 3 weeks prior to our departure. We are now with Horizons International.
David Irvine
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15 Responses to Jumping from the Sinking Wycliffe Ship: Why Theology Matters

  1. David Irvine says:

    Dear “Abdul Asad”
    What I have seen and deduced is not perceived heresy but very real. Listen to all of the cries from mother tongue and heart language believers. It is not maligning to challenge someone’s thinking. If that were the case then you have maligned me. You have gone beyond that to insinuate that I am not well traveled or smart enough to understand, let alone challenge this theology and missiology.

    Great men come and go. It is God’s word and His glory that matter and that remain. It is by the whole council of His word that these things will be judged not by picking and choosing what you like as you say you have done on your blog. (I would post a link to it if you desire but it appears as if you want your true identity to be under the radar)

    I see from your blog that you are a foreigner in a Middle Eastern country. So this name “Abdul Asad” is a pseudonym. Do you post remarks here, on your blog and in St. Francis Magazine with this Middle Eastern name to give yourself credibility? And that over and above the real Middle Easterners who see this theology imposed on them? You use a lion calligraphy as your symbol. Do you know what it means? You use it to illustrate yourself as “servant of the lion”. Here is what it says:
    علي بن ابي طالب رضي الله تعالى عنه وكرم الله وجهه
    which means “Ali Bin Abu-Talib May Allah be Pleased with him and … may Allah honor his face” This is the Muslim-Sunnah way of calling and introducing Ali (the Prophet’s cousin). ### It is used only for Ali! ### Do your Muslim friends know you have taken it to mean you?

    Not only are you loose with Muslim culture and meaning you are also selective in Christian theology. On your blog you say: “you learn quickly that much of the theology that you thought was so important isn’t really that important in the beginning.”

    You say “having a wide theological knowledge… is a bit shallow, you have found it far more important to have a narrower theological focus…”

    After reading your blog and the tone of your remarks I will simply let the article speak for itself.

    David Irvine

  2. abdulasad7 says:

    “Walls says theology ‘is therefore occasional and local in character’. The implication is we should not expect any sort of Christian unity in theology.”

    Brother, you are seriously misunderstanding Andrew Walls. Walls totally affirms the catholicity of the church and historic orthodoxy. He’s just smart enough (and well traveled enough) to point out the fact that ALL theology arises out of a particular local context. Even the Creeds arose out of a local context(s) – the Roman Empire and the challenge of Arianism, to name a few. Thus, we can speak of Asian theology, African theology, etc. and we can even subdivide those categories into things like Korean theology, Japanese theology, Kikuyu theology, Zulu theology, etc.

    It’s a LONG way from what Walls teaches to what you have deduced here. Please don’t malign the teaching of such a great missiologist and man of God in your efforts to combat perceived heresy elsewhere.

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  5. David Irvine says:

    Roger,
    Thank you for the note. Lucidity is something I have found lacking when discussing terms and meaning with IM proponents. This article grew out of my attempts to understand how people who claim to be “evangelical” and claim to hold orthodox Christian beliefs could support and teach something that is so fundamentally different. My conclusion is not really that earth shattering. What we have is a system of thinking and definitions of truth and authority that rise out of evolution, “enlightenment” and experience, not revelation. It is an attractive thing because it allows us to define God, sin, redemption, and virtually anything else we want to. Everything including theology is local and contextual. Everyone is right, no one is wrong (unless of course you have a narrow doctrinal view like Andrew Clark’s “man in the pew”). What a system!
    David I.

  6. Roger Dixon says:

    A very lucid description of the way IM proponents present and argue their points. I had contact with them in the ’90s in West Java, including hearing John Travis describe his understanding of Kurios & Greek influence and it is frustrating that IM people ignore biblical scholarship that goes back to the LXX and also illustrates Paul’s theology to the hellenists. Seemingly, IM people will not listen to points that contradict their views but simply continue to reiterate their views even though they have no basis for them. Thanks David for your description of one branch of this unbiblical philosophy.

  7. Salaam-Corniche says:

    David and company:
    I did a small comparison of some items from the “old” Wycliffe (1395) and the “new” Wycliffe organization. What would the old master say of the tampering with the text?

    A sampling from Luke’s Gospel from Wycliffe 1395 Bible and the contemporary Wycliffe sponsoned Lives of the Prophets.

    For Lives of the Prophets see: http://www.answering-islam.org/fileadmin/reviews/lives-of-prophets.pdf
    For Wycliffe’s translation: http://lookhigher.net/englishbibles/wycliffebible/luke/11.html

    Luk 1:32 This schal be greet, and he schal be clepid the sone of the Hiyeste; and the Lord God schal yeue to hym the seete of Dauid, his fadir, and he schal regne in the hous of Jacob with outen ende,

    v. 35
    Luk 1:35 And the aungel answeride, and seide to hir, The Hooly Goost schal come fro aboue in to thee, and the vertu of the Hiyeste schal ouerschadewe thee; and therfor that hooli thing that schal be borun of thee, schal be clepid the sone of God.

    From Lives of Prophets (L.O.P.)
    The Spirit of God will come down
    upon you and this thing is the proof
    that this child is the awaited Christ
    who will rule forever.

    Luk 4:3 And the deuel seide to him, If thou art Goddis sone, seie to this stoon, that it be maad breed.

    L.O.P. If you are truly the Messiah of the Most High God, command these
    stones to become bread.

    Luk 4:9 And he ledde hym in to Jerusalem, and sette hym on the pynacle of the temple, and seide to hym, If thou art Goddis sone, sende thi silf fro hennes doun;

    L.O.P. Afterward, the Devil took Him to Jerusalem and stood Him on the edge
    of the House of God. If you are truly the Messiah of God, throw yourself
    down from up here

    Luk 11:2 And he seide to hem, Whanne ye preien, seie ye, Fadir, halewid be thi name. Thi kyngdom come to.

    L.O.P When you pray, say: Our loving, heavenly Lord

  8. David Irvine says:

    Here is a very simple test to see if it is linguistic or theological. Proponents of MIT within Wycliffe and SIL say that “Son of God” and “Father” convey wrong meaning. They replace these words with words that mean “proxy”, “representative” and “guardian”. Many mother tongue, heart language speakers say they are wrong. So linguistically these westerners are challenged by mother tongue speakers. Also notice that Wycliffe and SIL proponents and other translators whom they consult for, make this substitution in more than one language. The connection is religion (Bengali, Turkish, Arabic) demonstrating that it is tied to the receptor religion not the language. Why is this done over the objections of the receptor language native speakers? The answer is that this Insider Movement paradigm and shift in western theology is driving the linguistics and translations.

  9. David Irvine says:

    Tertius,
    Thank you for your note. I have not confused theology with translation. The point is that a shift in theology is driving the type of translation. Instead of God’s revealed word informing culture it has become fallen culture informing. It is a thinking and theology that is man centered.

  10. David Irvine says:

    Warrick,
    Although I did not choose the title it is appropriate. No it is not sensationalistic or alarmist. What is alarming is the steadfastness with which Wycliffe and SIL leadership have been defending this shift in theology all the while claiming they have not shifted at all. Yes, if the ship continues as it is, it is sinking. It is also alarming that SIL censures those within who raise warning flags, yet gives freedom and license to those who have been promoting this theology for years.

  11. M. S. says:

    Warrick,

    I’ll answer this question as I’m the one who chose the title.

    “3. Do you think referring to SIL as a “sinking ship” is sensationalistic or alarmist in tone? Are you purposely trying to paint all of SIL in a bad light? If so, is this a biblical practice? Do you think the commenter above understood you correctly to talk about the “great danger WBT-SIL is in”? Do yo think there is a charitable way to disagree in these matters?”

    I referred to SIL/Wycliffe as a ship that is sinking, because people are abandoning it for the life rafts, while some rather go down with the ship rather than fix the holes. I have no problem portraying a ‘Christian’ organization that has turned down a road of bad theology and hubris in a bad light. In fact, we should. 1 John 2 15-27. If John the Apostle can preach love and community and preach against anti-christs who have come from within the community, I have good Theological company. A whole article is written about this in: http://biblicalmissiology.org/2011/11/07/tottering-at-the-abyss-pergamum-and-thyatira's-courtship-with-false-religion/

    The actions Wycliffe and SIL have done have been going on for years. They HAVE been engaged for years. They have been spoken to behind closed doors in more than charitable ways. They ignore, sometimes repent only to pull their confession and defend their stances even more. Wycliffe, SIL, Rick Brown, Jeff Hayes have had their opportunities of charity. The church is in danger. It is time to take things into the light.

    Eph 5:10-14
    11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,

    “Awake, sleeper,
    And arise from the dead,
    And Christ will shine on you.”

  12. Warrick says:

    Hi David,

    1. Can you please provide an example of an ahistorical, non-contextualized version of Christianity or preaching of the gospel?

    2. Are you aware of your own paradigm? If you’re not a post-modernist, are you a modernist or a critical realist? How can you avoid the trappings of modernism when critiquing post-modernism?

    3. Do you think referring to SIL as a “sinking ship” is sensationalistic or alarmist in tone? Are you purposely trying to paint all of SIL in a bad light? If so, is this a biblical practice? Do you think the commenter above understood you correctly to talk about the “great danger WBT-SIL is in”? Do yo think there is a charitable way to disagree in these matters?

    Looking forward to your answers.

    -Warrick

  13. Tertius says:

    David, I appreciate your point that, the “Apostle Paul gave [the Greeks] a great deal of practical and theological guidance that was actually inspired not just translated.” I also appreciate your observation that Walls failed to discuss inspiration and its place in authoritative revelation. However, it seems to me that you have confused Wall’s discussion of theology with the topic of translation (though there is some overlap). Please clarify why you think that asking new questions about Christ and writing new systematic theologies specific to cultural contexts results in a rejection of the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture. The inspired Scriptures will challenge every culture, but certain passages will be more relevant (note: not less truthful or inspired) to some cultures than others. Isn’t true theology, in part, searching the inspired Hebrew and Greek Scriptures for answers to our deepest questions? Weren’t the early creeds that hashed out homoousia doing this very thing? Can we not use our own heart languages to express these truths?

  14. Baruch says:

    David,

    Thank you so much for your faithfulness to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Having the courage of one’s convictions, even when it means sacrificing what seems to be a God-given goal, because of refusing to compromise the known will of God (i.e. the Bible), is such an incredible witness and challenge to live what we believe. Abraham and Sarah thought that they could “help” God fulfill His promise to them by using Hajar as a surrogate mother. Is this not what IM and MIT proponents are doing? In effect they are saing, “God’s Word is not good enough, Let’s “help” Him out with our anthropological studies regarding culture and linguistics.”).

    I appreciated so much your highlighting and explaining the often unstated principle behind what Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT)-SIL is doing, namely, that inspiration is ongoing,and they view translation as inspired as the original autographs of Scripture.. This is exactly what Eugene Nida and Charles Kraft taught (I appreciate the reference to Kraft in the footnotes).

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. May it have wide readership and be used by God to awaken many within the Church to see the great danger WBT-SIL is in.

  15. Salaam-Corniche says:

    Thank you David.
    You have lived one-roller coaster ride. Thanks for your clarity and candor in describing it. Please tell me the name of the book that you referred to “on Christian mission to Muslims” that gave you much grief. Is this required reading in the organization as a whole?
    Shalom

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