The Fact Check with replies to all of Wycliffe’s comments can be found in its entirety here: Fact Check: Biblical Missiology’s Response To Wycliffe’s Comments On “Lost In Translation”(PDF).
If you have not already, please sign the petition and keep sharing it via email, Facebook, Twitter and your voice with every believer you know, calling for Wycliffe to remain faithful to the Word of God during translation.
On January 4, 2012, Biblical Missiology sponsored an online petition called “Lost In Translation: Keep ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ in the Bible” on change.org. This petition asked Wycliffe, Frontiers and SIL to commit in writing to preserve the terms “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God” in the text of their Bible translations. In response, Wycliffe sent a document to their staff, as well as to some of the signatories of the petition, rejecting the assertions of the petition. The following is a response by Biblical Missiology, with input from current and former staff of these agencies, global pastors, translators, linguists, missiologists and theologians with significant experience on the issue.
About Biblical Missiology
Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Horizons International, is a network of missionaries, missiologists, translators, pastors, laity, church missions leaders, theologians, and national church leaders. What brings us together is a shared concern that people in need of the gospel, including Muslims, hear the full and faithful message of Jesus Christ. We are particularly concerned about new initiatives called “Insider Movements” (IM) and “Muslim Idiom Translations” (MIT) that present a distorted and incomplete portrayal of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. For a list of leadership team members and contributors, please visit the Biblical Missiology website.
The Need For A Petition
It must first be said that the petition is not intended as a condemnation of Wycliffe, SIL, Frontiers, or any of their staff members. Rather, it is a request to correct errors involved in Muslim Idiom Translations committed by a portion of their staff and leadership. We acknowledge that the majority of translations produced by these organizations are unrelated to these issues, and we bless the faithful translations that have been produced.
Second, the petition was started only after every effort had been made to call Wycliffe, Frontiers and SIL to biblical faithfulness. Years of private exhortations, meetings with agency leaders, internal dissent from agency staff including resignations over the issue, criticism and earnest appeals from national believers most affected by the translations, group discussions, conferences of proponents and critics, missiological articles, and church and denominational admonitions, have all failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations. Reading the testimonials in the “Why People Are Signing” section of the petition will confirm these efforts. In spite of these appeals, these agencies have solidified their commitment to such translations.
If this were a minor issue, then we would at this point simply have to “agree to disagree.” But this is not minor. It is hard to imagine anything more significant. Our understanding of God himself, Scripture, redemption and our adoption are all affected by removing “Father” and “Son” from Bible translations. National believers are aghast at what is being done to God’s Word in their languages, stunned by what well-funded outsiders insist on doing in spite of the nationals’ objections. After so many appeals, what recourses are left? We genuinely understand the reservations people have for a public petition, and we share those. But “peace” cannot trump truth. Thus, with great sadness, prayer, and a desire to honor God’s name, this initiative was begun to enable individual voices, from all over the world, to speak as one. It is our sincere desire that agency leaders would commit to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of the Bible, that they would restore the good name of their organizations, and that their most fruitful and faithful days would still lie ahead. We pray to that end. Until that time, we will continue to plead that Bible translations “testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).