1. Propempo International

    Propempo is very involved in helping church leaders mobilize their local church and their workers to difficult fields such as this. Our position is simplified:
    One principle applied over Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever context would defuse and settle so much of the debate. It’s this:

    It is biblically and ethically inconsistent for a mature believer to encourage or enable a new believer to
    present themselves and their religious practices in such a way as to intentionally try to mislead
    onlookers to think that the new believer is still an adherent to their former religion.

    We assume that the practice of genuine, disciples of Christ will express their faith and practice in culturally appropriate ways which are consistent with biblical principles.This does NOT rule out culturally appropriate discernment regarding tradition, vocabularly, attire, food, events, etc. It DOES rule out mature believers coaching new believers to continue in prior religious practices “for the sake of witness”.

  2. Benelchi


    You’re welcome, and I really do understand where you are coming from; I was in the same place about four years ago when I was jumping into the middle of this issue. One of the challenges I found is that C5 missiologists I was discussing this issue with were very skilled at giving very incomplete answers to questions and for a long time I thought I was hearing answers that were very different than what was truly being said. For example, if I asked “What are your thoughts about C5 groups believing that the Qua’ran is the primary source of authority for our faith?” I would hear in response “Believing that the Qua’ran is the primary source of authority for our faith is a heretical belief!” and that is where the comment would end. In hearing that response, I thought I was hearing an agreement with my own convictions, but I was not. The problem was that we were not operating with the same definition of “heresy” nor the same definition of any other theological term. My assumptions in the conversation were that there are “essential beliefs”, “non-essential beliefs”, and “heretical beliefs”. The C5 missiologist had redefined these categories into the following two categories 1) “beliefs that are essential within an individual’s context” i.e. “essential beliefs” may be different in different cultural and religious contexts, and 2) “heretical beliefs” i.e. any belief that is not absolutely true from God’s perspective of truth; a perspective with which we can never fully identify and therefore never truly know. In later conversations, these philosophical differences came to light when I heard statements like “We all hold heretical beliefs, and the heretical beliefs of the Muslim followers of Isa are no worse than the heretical beliefs we has western Christians hold” and “I believe in God’s absolute truth, but recognize that no man can truly know what beliefs reflect God’s absolute truth.” As I listened, I began to realize that underlying the C5 missiological perspective was an acceptance of postmodern evangelicalism and part of the reason it was so difficult to get answers is because there is an underlying belief in postmodern evangelicalism that there are no real answers, only questions; postmodern evangelicals often pride themselves on having “Question and Response” sessions as opposed to “Question and Answer” sessions because they believe there are no definitive “answers.” Within postmodern evangelical circles, this is reflected in a cultural aversion to giving answers that commit oneself to a specific doctrinal position. What this means is that it often feels like “nailing jello to a wall” when you are asking questions in order to understand what they believe and it takes a whole lot of questions before you begin to really understand the details of the perspective they are presenting.

  3. Baruch


    I find it strange that you have taken issue with my use of Eph. 5:10-14. I cannot think of greater examples of “unfruitful deeds of darkness” than the willful mistranslation of Scripture, and denying the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin (which is what Insider Movements do), coupled with the secrecy and dishonesty of those involved and their leadership.

    Second, my original post had nothing to do with WBT-SIL but was a challenge to Piper and BBC. But since you brought up the issue I would encourage you to look at the following charts and judge for yourself if WBT-SIL have been walking in the light:




  4. dnessim

    That’s an enlightening response, Benelchi, for someone like me who is jumping into the middle of the discussion! Thankyou. Of course, it is hard for me to countenance Baruch’s heavy handed use of Eph 5:10-14 however! We should stick to the issues.

  5. Benelchi


    I do not think that Wycliffe has ever claimed the “right to mistranslate the Bible;” their claim is that they are offering a better translation. However, they have generally been unwilling to truly discuss their translation choices and many consider the basis for their translation choices fraudulent. At issue is whether, as Rick Brown claims, the term for ‘son’ and ‘father’ in languages used by Muslims always carries a sense of biological decadency. Rick Brown continually makes this claim but does not offer supporting evidence for this claim and has not responded to arguments that demonstrate this claim to be incorrect. And others (including many native speakers) have offered a substantial amount of evidence that contradicts this claim. When this position is argued by other C5 missiologists, they simply point to Rick Brown’s papers to support this linguistic claim.

    If this issues surrounding the textual changes that Wycliffe/SIL are making is based on purely theological reasons and not linguistic ones (as they have claimed) then their changes are unwarranted and should not have ever been made. At this point, all evidence that I have seen points to purely theological reasons for these changes being made; the linguistic arguments do not appear to stand when one examines the evidence.

  6. dnessim

    Hi, Baruch.
    It is a serious thing to charge SIL with participating ‘in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.’ We can all sling Scripture back and forth to one another. Your concern, on the other hand, I take seriously. Maybe you could clarify, with quotes, where in the article you quoted, Wycliffe claims the ‘right to mistranslate the Bible’? I would be much obliged.

  7. Baruch

    Evidently my plea has been rejected – BBC has not merely hit the snooze button they have unplugged the alarm clock!

    BBC has removed their stance on contextualization and instead posted an article defending Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT)-SIL and the right to mistranslate the Bible:

    The petition is serving like a plumbline that is exposing that the BBC edifice is not as vertically true as most of us have supposed. Piper (and BBC) has to give account for his promotion of Ralph Winter, his writings in Perspectives and legitimizing the Rick Browns and Becky Lewises of the world (pun intended on “world”), his ongoing support of and providing public platforms for Greg Livingstone (e.g. 2011 Desiring God conference), and now the backtracking on translation standards. This latter is as egregious a sin as what the Jehovah’s Witnesses have done to the Bible yet even they have not perverted the terms, Father, Son, and Son of God. When did you think that evangelicals could look to Jehovah’s Witnesses as having more integrity in Bible “translation” than Wycliffe Bible Translators-SIL?

    1 Cor 16:22
    22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. Maranatha.

  8. abdulasad7

    Quick reminder: If it wasn’t for men like Ralph Winter and Greg Livingstone, millions of people from unreached people groups would be on their way to hell. Furthermore, John Piper himself admittedly wouldn’t have been nearly as committed to world missions as he has been without the influence of these two men in his life. Please stop trying to police the spread of the Gospel according to your take on hermeneutics and instead, appreciate what God has done and is still doing through the efforts of soldiers like these men.

  9. Baruch

    This is an excellent stance but the recent Desiring God conference in which Piper praised Ralph Winter who was one of the main sources for contextualization gone awry and interviewing Greg Livingstone, of whom he along with John Travis of ******* and professor at Fuller Seminary, was intimately involved in the Malaysian mistranslation for Muslims (http://mykitabsuci.org/en) really saddens me and makes me wonder when such seemingly solid men like Piper are going to see beyond friendships and previous fidelity to the Gospel and call “Insider Movements” and “Muslim idiom translations” the heresy that they are and call their friends to repentance. I dislike having to so often be “the heavy” but God’s word to us from Ephesians is applicable:

    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.”

    I plead with Bethlehem Baptist Church to stop hitting the snooze button and wake up to their own inconsistencies in these serious matters.


  1. ፖለቲካዊ ትክክለኛነት ወይስ ወንጌል አማኝነት? - deqemezmur - […] [1] https://biblicalmissiology.org/2011/12/05/john-pipers-church-takes-a-stand-on-contextualization/ […]
  2. Engaging the Whole Line - One Fiber at a Time | The Kiteline - [...] John Piper's Church Takes a Stance on Contextualization  - this document is a good example of how one church has…
  3. Q: “Friendly” Bible for Muslims? | Splat - [...] Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota), which came out with an official stance on this recently.  See https://biblicalmissiology.org/2011/12/05/john-pipers-church-takes-a-stand-on-contextualization/ for an excellent…
  4. Influential Evangelicals Withdraw from Christian-Muslim Statement | Stand Up for the Truth - [...] John Piper’s Church Takes a Stand on Contextualization (biblicalmissiology.org) [...]

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