In September 2016, the Rev. Adam Simnowitz was banned from attending the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) annual conference in Dallas, TX. The reason given by Dr. Priest who was the president of EMS was that Simnowitz had violated widely shared scholarly standards that the EMS is deeply committed to.” 1 Although the leaders of EMS have the right to deny attendance to anyone, this issue was complicated because they took the position that Simnowitz had acted unethically in disseminating some public information.
In this article I want to rehearse this event so that we can review the meaning of “unethical” and consider some ways to act more biblically so that we don’t harm individuals or the Church’s theological and missiological debate. The Rev. Simnowitz originally was invited to present at the conference but was subsequently disinvited and then banned from attending the conference. With these decisions, the opportunity for discussion of his research was prevented.
How Harming the Debate Developed
When this decision came to my attention, I contacted Dr. Scott Moreau who is the National Vice President Finance & Membership and with whom I was acquainted. On Feb. 16, 2017, I wrote the following: “I am conflicted about EMS that you boycott people like Adam Simnowitz whose thesis was accepted by Columbia International University. I fear your organization is being hijacked by extremists who want speech control and mind control.”
Dr. Moreau answered that the reason given was as follows.
In this thesis, now posted online, Adam “outed” several missionaries and even a daughter of a missionary family. Bob rightly deemed this as completely unethical (researchers putting the lives of their subjects at risk), and decided that Adam posed a risk to EMS members who work in sensitive situations and that his presence at the conference would stifle the free-exchange of ideas and thinking by participants. 2
In a subsequent email, Dr. Moreau explained as follows:
As a researcher Adam put his subjects’ lives at risk. The decision to remove him from registration had nothing to do with his position on the topic—it had to do with his unethical research behavior. Again, the Columbia people at the conference agreed with this decision—not because of his stance but because of the specific name/country information he made globally available. 3
Next, I questioned Rev. Simnowitz about the process which resulted in his being disinvited from presenting at the EMS conference and then banned from attending. Following this I inquired with Rev. Simnowitz concerning the process by which this was accomplished. Was he questioned as to his research method, his developmental research sequence, how he came to discover the public information he included in his thesis and his motives, if any, for doing so. He has allowed me to include the following sections of his correspondence with Dr. Priest who is the president of EMS for this period. Here is the time line:
- On September 21, 2016, he was asked for the title of his presentation which was “Are “Father” and “Son” Metaphors? A Brief Look at the Standpoints of the Bible, Muslim Idiom Translation, and the Theory of Dynamic Equivalence.”
- A September 26 email indicated that Dr. Priest had reconsidered Simnowitz’ presentation and decided that he was not qualified to present on his chosen subject. Dr. Priest listed 16 books of authors who he thought disagreed with Simnowitz. Without question, Simnowitz’ thesis contradicts much of the status quo models of Bible translation.
- In a later e-mail on September 26, Dr. Priest explains his view: “But it violates the deepest ethical codes of academic life to do research and publicize, without permission, the personal names of vulnerable individuals that your research has uncovered.” And also adds this: “As I’ve reviewed your MA thesis (and other writings), it is clear that you have violated widely shared scholarly standards that the EMS is deeply committed to.” 4
This latter assumption is what is most disturbing. As we see in Dr. Moreau’s correspondence, the general view at EMS was that Simnowitz had been unethical in his research and as a consequence he was not going to be allowed to participate in the general theological and missiological debate about bible translation.
What is the Ethical Issue?
As Dr. Moreau states above, EMS felt that Adam “outed” several missionaries. I researched that comment and found that a footnote in his thesis revealed some public information that exposed the name of a worker in Pakistan. As one of my family members describes it, Adam operated like the fictional detective Hercule Poirot and pulled together miscellaneous information that others would not relate and included it in a footnote in his thesis. He used a reference to an article, a reference from a church bulletin, and another from a university publication. Mature adults had posted all of this information. Contrary to some reports, Simnowitz did not mention an under aged person although the adult child of a missionary was named.
- Was this a security issue? Did Adam go too far? Some think so, others do not. In my opinion, the likelihood is remote of anyone in Pakistan or elsewhere seeing a reference buried in an extensive footnote in a master’s thesis. It is also certain that national security in Pakistan has the names and personal information of every foreign worker in the country. It is not like Simnowitz posted this information in an Op-ed, or on Facebook or other social media.
- Was this an ethical issue? Obviously, the leadership of EMS thinks so. Some agree with them; others do not.
- What is the meaning of unethical? The online Free Dictionary describes this adjective as “lacking scruples or principles.” But does the Rev. Simnowitz lack scruples or principles? How did Dr. Priest determine this and why did Dr. Moreau agree with this?
- How does one determine that actions are unethical? A mistake or a failure to anticipate the outcome of one’s action, a lack of judgment, or just being wrong about something is not unethical behavior.
- The use of “unethical” involves defamation of character unless one can prove that “unethical” behavior has occurred. Portraying someone as unethical requires proof.
Is there proof that Simnowitz deliberately exposed someone to harm them or was his act just a lack of judgment? Being publicly labeled as “unethical” is a serious charge and some would call it defamation of character.
Harming the Debate
Finally, this kind of charge and administrative action harms the theological and missiological debate about Bible translation, the Insider Movement, security issues, the use of pseudonyms in public discourse, and other issues.
- Do we ostracize everyone from the fellowship who we think has done something wrong or maybe made a mistake? Another minister reminded me of Paul’s and Peter’s confrontation that is recorded in chapter 2 of Galatians. Paul attacked him publicly and even recorded it in a public letter. But Paul did not suggest barring Peter from the “conference.”
- This has been Church tradition from early times. The idea of discussion between two pseudonyms is ridiculous on the face of it. The conflict between the John Wesley and George Whitfield over Arminian and Calvinist theology and practice is part of our history. The Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy was a major schism that originated in the 1920s and ’30s within the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. A more modern example of controversy was that of Cornelius Van Til about Karl Barth and his theology. Theologians have always been public figures and have both attacked and defended one another publicly.
My conclusions are drawn above but I close this article by appealing to all missiologists to give one another the benefit of a personal defense. Blackening the name of a respected colleague without giving him or her the opportunity to explain his or her position or possibly the opportunity to reconsider the wisdom of their actions is not biblical. Somehow, the assumption of guilt seems to flow more easily than the assumption of innocence. We need to correct this in the body of believers.
I believe that the Rev. Simnowitz deserves a public apology sent to all members of the EMS indicating that the assertions about his being unethical were unfounded.
- Sept. 26, 2016 email to Adam Simnowitz ↩
- Dr. Moreau granted me permission to use this information from a personal email from March 27, 2017 ↩
- Dr. Moreau granted me permission to use this information from a personal email from March 27, 2017 ↩
- These quotes from Simnowitz’ files are used with permission ↩
so in regards to attending EMS, one might follow Yeshua’s instructions
concerning how we are supposed to interact with strangers…
Into that city or village you enter, examine/test who is balanced
(ἐξετάζω D’ 13:15 בָּחן & דָּרַשׁ HP) (ἄξιος B’ 23:9 מָלֵא HP)
and abide (hp יָשַׁב) at his house until you exit.
Coming now into the house, ask of its Shalom (ἀσπάζομαι Sh’ 18:7).
And if the house is balanced, let your Shalom come on it;
however if it is not balanced, let your Shalom return to you.
א מֹאזְנֵי מִרְמָה, תּוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה; וְאֶבֶן שְׁלֵמָה רְצוֹנוֹ.
A false balance is an abomination to YHVH;
and a complete weight is His desire. Prov 11:1
And whoever will not take you nor will hear your words,
shake the dust off your feet when you exit that house or city.
(ἐκτινάσσω נָעַר growl Sh’ 14:27 threw Eg into sea & Jd 7:19 נָפַץ hp)
Amen, I say to you, more endurable it will be for S’dom and
O’morah on the day of judgment than for that city.
Adam, you would be within sound counsel to shake the dust off…
and let the Elohim of Yisrael throw them into the sea.
In your November 6, 2017 comment you asked if you are missing something. That question deserves a closer look.
At the heart of the IM controversy is a view of scripture. Patrick Krayer makes it very clear, albeit under a pseudonym, that those who hold to a traditional biblical worldview – one of inerrancy – are basically “bounded”, not intellectually sustainable or culturally relevant. He calls for moving into a more ecumenical space. The IM worldview with its contextual theologies and dim view of biblical inerrancy demands this “ecumenical theological space” in order to thrive. It requires a fuzziness on definitions which means inerrancy must be challenged. IM proponents have been, and continue, to “game” their supporters and churches that hold to inerrancy. This means that they do not want to show their hand (or beliefs) on the inadequacy of inerrancy. When someone, like Adam in this case, reveals their “game” and the deception, the IM proponents response is to attack and discredit him.
As you have said in your papers, the doctrine of inerrancy affects Christian relationships and missions. You refer to Biblical Missiology as those who “are uncompromising about the propositional truth of Scripture and are skeptical of contextualizing methods that uncritically borrows from social sciences, anthropological insights, and cultural and religious categories.” You say: “For this group, retaining the basic structure and content of the biblical text is crucial since the meaning lays in the inspired texts…” You call this “doctrinal rigidity.” Are you not a member of this group? (The Battle for Inerrancy: How the Doctrine of Inerrancy is Affecting Christian Relationships and Missions – The Evangelical Review of Theology and Politics Vol. 6, 2018,p. 19-33)
Your writings, favor something less rigid, more in line with Krayer’s inclusiveness and ecumenical space. Where meaning can be found “beneath, above and beyond the actual words of the Bible.” Michael Licona has such a view of inerrancy and the Bible. He uses terms such as; poetical, legend, embellishment and special effects. Your footnote #4 holds him in high regard.
Your paper above assumes that “contextual theology” of which the inerrancy camp is just a subset among other opposing theological views, is the valid overarching truth within which the bible is transformed by each receptor culture. This view is the IM worldview that emanates out of the social sciences and humanistic anthropology. Your conclusion states that rejection of and disagreement with inerrancy is as valid as those who hold to inerrancy.
This brings me back to your question: “am I missing something?” I noted in an earlier comment that you understand more than you let on. Your papers indicate that you actually don’t miss much. You asked if Adam could have surrendered his rights for others. What you are missing is that this is not about Adam’s rights and his setting those aside in order to appease someone’s claim to danger. This is about the battle for God’s Word with those that are “gaming” the church with this neo-orthodox theology. Part of their battle plan is to use their positions and clout to discredit anyone who reveals what they are actually up to.
Sochanngam you have touched on the heart of this whole discussion when you said you hoped to have a clearer picture. Clarity will only come when we understand that there are two very different conflicting world-views involved.
One worldview begins with God as creator and revealer. It holds that God’s truth is objective, reliable, trustworthy and accurately revealed to mankind through His plenary inspired Word, the Bible. Let’s call this the conservative traditional biblical view.
Over the past 50 years or so we have seen the emergence and adoption of the second worldview which rejects the above view and replaces it with a social sciences understanding of truth that is known only in context of time and place. There is no objective, reliable, accurately revealed truth that applies to all mankind. These two world-views are in conflict. Patrick Krayer talks about this conflict in a paper he wrote for IJFM under the pseudonym of Bradford Greer. (The paper is : “Kingdom and Church – Integral Mission and New Mission Applicant: Absorbing the Positive without Neglecting the Essential” IJFM 28:2 Summer 2011) In that paper he states that the conservative traditional Christian view (and resulting doctrines) is “dehumanizing and over spiritualized.” (p. 61) He says that these “doctrines are no longer adequate and need revision.” (p. 61) He goes on to say by rejecting these “traditional theological explanations of the world, it has enabled people to embrace diversity and change…” (p. 65) This he says leads to “authenticity in faith,” (p. 65).
So this second worldview rejects the traditional conservative biblical worldview and says it is not authentic faith. Since traditional biblical Christianity is no longer adequate or culturally relevant. Krayer says there must be a new “reformation.” (p. 61) This new “reformation” is the second worldview.
In a more recent paper Krayer, again using the pseudonym Bradford Greer, says that the traditional biblical world view “is not intellectually or phenomenologically sustainable.” (Bradford Greer, “What We Carry – Starting Points: Approaching the Frontier Missiological Task”, IJFM 33:3 Fall 2016)(p.94) The new reformation, as he calls it, integrates current theological shifts, constructs contextual theologies and moves “into an ecumenical space, that relativizes theological particulars.” (p. 95)
I hope this helps bring clarity for you. We are not dealing with “methods” or “strategy” but core biblical teaching on what is authoritative and what is truth. It is not a matter of whether you question Adam’s intentions or experiences because authority and truth are not derived from man’s intentions or experiences but come from God’s revelation.
Sochanngam, true to your name you are an eloquent partner in speech. You also understand a great deal more than you let on ;-)
As many who look at this issue do, they play by the Insider Movement proponents rules and narrative. Here are some of those rules, not comprehensive or in any particular order:
#1 – IM is a “missional” method, or strategy, not a changed theology at its core.
#2 – This “method” should not be opposed on biblical grounds but given time to bear fruit.
Kevin Higgins, a long time supporter and promoter of Insider Movement missiology and theology, said that (those who appose IM on biblical grounds) should wait to see what happens “in the awareness that God might be doing something which (we) would not want to be found apposing should it turn out to be of God,” like Gamaliel of Acts.
Kevin Higgins, “Missiology and the Measurement Of Engagement: Personal Reflections on Tokyo” AFMI-ASFM No. 6 Jan-Mar 2011 p.15
#3 – Any public discussions or exposure of IM practices and theology are a “security risk.”
Kevin Higgins says: “Regardless of what one thinks about the type of movement I have described (Insider Movements that he describes as “…a movement to Jesus that has intentionally remained within the fabric of Islamic (Buddhist, Hindu…) culture and practice”) the information discussed should remain closed. He further says: “…that the information thus shared and discussed remain within the confines of … meetings … about what might be happening in and through such movements.” Kevin Higgins, “Missiology and the Measurement Of Engagement: Personal Reflections on Tokyo” AFMI-ASFM Bulletin No. 6 Jan-Mar 2011, p14 and 15
#3 – IM proponents use language (and words) in such a way that the hearer or reader will insert the meaning he or she wants to hear (the receptor defines meaning).
This is probably the most important concept of the IM worldview for you to understand. If you believe the Bible to be God’s Word and hold to a traditional biblical worldview you most likely will miss their re-definitions of key words. IM proponents use words that you will imbue with your conservative biblical meaning, even though that is not the meaning the IM speaker or writer holds to. This results in the IM writer or speaker’s meaning being concealed from instead of being conveyed to you, the hearer. It also makes it appear that they agree with you. This is the veil that keeps biblical conservative Christians from seeing the IM worldview. Keep this in mind every time you see or hear words like; “gospel,” “salvation,” “Christ,” “Messiah,” “Lord,” “Jesus” or any theological word from an IM proponent in their writing or speech.
The reality is that IM is not simply a strategy or methodology. It rests on a firm foundation. In order to better recognize and understand what IM is, we need to look at what is hidden below the water line. What does IM rest or “float” on? Once you understand that world view and its definitions of God, humanity, language, Christianity, the gospel and God’s Kingdom, then you will see how different it is from biblical Christianity. IM proponents are very sincere, faithful to, and godly, according to their redefined authoritative theology.
What is authoritative in determining truth? Is it people with good intentions? Is it socio-religious culture? If you determine truth by these measures then the Bible is one among many books that contain truth. Authority then becomes contextual and ever changing from within humanity in time, place and culture. If you take God’s revealed claims, in His Word, about His Word (the Bible) to be authoritative then authority becomes fixed, not contextual. If you believe that authority is not contextual but fixed in God’s Word, then truth is not determined by intentions or experiences, Adam’s, mine, or theirs. It is determined from outside humanity by God’s revelation.
In the narrative of the “Rich Young Ruler” (Mt. 19; Mk. 10; Lk 18) we have what most would call a very godly person, doing all the right things. Yet, he did not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He would not believe or listen to God’s revelation through Jesus, The Word of God.
Sochanngam, what do you mean when you say you do not agree with their theology? What is the theology that they hold to which you do not agree with?
Have you read David Owen’s paper, “A Jesus Movement Within Islam? This paper is the blueprint for IM. It is incompatible with the Bible. A professing Christian who has accepted IM is either: 1. Greatly lacking in basic discernment to the point that it is fair to ask if such a person has been born again of the Holy Spirit, or 2. compromised his assumed/professed biblical convictions that the Bible alone is God’s inspired Word and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved from sin.
Even if you assume that IMers have “good intentions” it begs the question as to their ability to discern even basic biblical truths. Should such people be in leadership or missions work?
David and Adam,
Thanks for helping me understand what is going on in this missional area. Obviously I need to learn a lot more about IM, its proponents, and how it works. I really appreciate your concern and desire for the propagation of the biblical gospel. As much as I can, I want to be a faithful witness of the gospel. But also allow me to begin this journey by giving them the benefits of doubt. As much as I trust you, I find it hard to accept that those who love the Lord will intentionally misconstrue the gospel for their own benefits. Do I believe that there are some bad apples? Oh, yes. But I want to think that their intention is good although their strategy is wrong. I have some friends who are sympathetic to (and even defend) the IM approach. They are some of the godliest Christians I know. Do I agree with their theology? No. But their intentions are good. Maybe one day I will come to have a clearer picture. Please don’t think that I am questioning your intention or your experiences. I think you have reasons to believe what you believe. I respect that. As of now, as they say, I will consider the IMers innocent (their intention not their strategy) until proven guilty.
Sochanngam, I love your name. I am not sure what it means in your language but if it is related to Urdu or Farsi your name means something like “I speak in partnership” or “I am a partner in speaking.” Languages and cultures are a beautiful thing. I pray that you will be a partner in speaking God’s revealed truth. The IM/MIT issue is surrounded in secrecy and “security” and “slight of hand” as it were and therefore appears to be difficult to understand. In reality it is rather simple. When you clear away the smoke and mirrors IM at its core is a worldview that begins with humanistic evolutionary presuppositions. God reveals himself “incarnationally” to socio-religious cultures in time and place. This revelation is specific to each socio-religious culture and is ongoing. These are “kingdom circles” and those within these closed socio-religious kingdom circles that are enlightened (Insider Movements) by a “Savior – Jesus” become citizens of “God’s Kingdom.” Through these enlightened movements God is redeeming and transforming the world here and now. This in contrast to a biblical worldview where God declares and reveals who He is through His word, the Bible. Revelation is not ongoing but complete. The fall of His creation and His redemption story is one of judgment satisfied by His provision in the only sacrificial lamb of God – Jesus the Son of God. Citizenship in God’s Kingdom comes only by His provision of the miraculous rebirth.
These are two extremely different worldview and theologies. The irony is that the IM theology presents itself as holding fast to the biblical theology. IM proponents do not reveal however, that they reject the biblical worldview as being the over arching truth for all humanity regardless of socio-religious culture. Instead they reduce the biblical worldview and biblical truth to a subset of truths among all other socio-religious contextual truths.
Sochanngam, I accept your apology. I want to make it clear that I was not looking to elicit an apology from you as you have the right to ask me questions and challenge me. The reason I responded to you is because both EMS and CIU have done their best to portray me as being unethical when in fact they are the ones who have been unethical. While the matter of my impugned reputation is very important, it is of lesser consequence than the weightier matter of EMS and CIU protecting professing evangelicals who have mistranslated Scripture with the goal of keeping Muslims within Islam. All of this has been done (and continues to be done) by raising money and other material support and services by presenting these “Muslim Idiom Translations” (MIT) as if they are “more understandable” than existing translations. The “man in the pew” then assumes that these “contextualized translations” are simply helping Muslims to better comprehend the truth of the Bible. He is hardly expecting the elimination of Father-Son terminology, the incorporation of Islamic theological vocabulary and phrases, including the first part of the Islamic confession of faith, “There is no god but Allah.”
As one who has been dealing with MIT issues in some way from at least 2000, I want to caution you against assuming good intent. This is how I first approached this matter. My research and interactions with some of the key players in MIT and IM (from which it is derived) have forced me to realize that many of them are not doing this with “good intent,” that is, with the desire to see people get saved and build up the Church. By their actions (not necessarily their words), they have forsaken their professed commitments to the belief that the Bible alone is the inspired Word of God and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way for people to be saved from their sin. Then there is the matter of money, especially when millions have been given and will be given from a certain billionaire family. It has the Bible translation organizations and Bible societies seeing green (or is it Green?), as we say in the US for people who are money-hungry. Since MIT is a product of Eugene Nida’s THEORY of “dynamic equivalence” which is a euphemism for cultural relativity, it is claimed that multiple versions are needed within the same language and there needs to be constant revisions of them. MIT provides an endless way to raise money for Bible translation. I end this comment with a memorable line from one of the t.v. shows that I watched while growing up: “It’s not the principle of the thing, it’s the money.”
Adam, let me begin by apologizing. I do not in any way intend to imply that Dr. Priest and the EMS are justified in ousting you. I thought it was more of a misunderstanding. Obviously, it looks like I am wrong. I also did not realize the gravity of the issue as it relates to your character. As I reconsider, I would be more mad if I were you. For that I want to say sorry.
But let me go on and explain why I said what I said. I thought, as much as you did what you did out of your conviction to honor Christ and serve the well being of the church, the EMS and others did what they did to honor Christ and serve others. Does it justify the result? Of course not. For some reason (and now shown to be wrong) I thought it was just the one footnote they wanted you to change. Of course even if it is only one footnote, you have rights not to comply. But I thought if you had just changed the one footnote, everything would be different.
On the side note: I also read your thesis, appreciated it, and relied on it for my paper. I am also against the IMer’s approach even though I think they set out with good intent. Again, I want to apologize for underestimating the seriousness of the accusation.
Sochanggam, I hope that you realize the gravity of the situation with my thesis and what took place last year. I have been accused of putting people’s lives in danger. This is not a small matter. There has been a concerted effort to discredit my reputation in the hope that people will ignore the facts with no concern about how their lies affect me. How is this consistent with being obedient to the Bible? You have a right to your opinion as I do mine, but the Bible does not teach us to “surrender our rights” to those who are teaching false doctrine.
This fabricated charge against me is to protect people who have Islamized Scripture in the attempt to start “a Jesus movement within Islam” (a.k.a. C5/Insider Movements). These men and women often deceive their supporting donors by not being forthright about what they are doing in order to accomplish this. The content of my thesis – including its footnotes – is based on publicly-available information, most of which comes from the writings of the people named in my thesis. There is no “danger” or “security concerns” unless of course it is in regard to the potential loss of funding from some of their donors who would be appalled and opposed to “Insider Movements” and “Muslim Idiom Translation.”
With regard to your being inaccurate, it seems that you are confusing EMS with CIU. EMS did not ask me to change my thesis. Second, CIU initially “asked” me, in a very intimidating fashion, to edit footnotes – that is, multiple footnotes, not just one – without giving me precise parameters as to what constituted “endanger[ing] the safety and security of other groups.” Even were I willing to comply with their request, which of the more than 600 footnotes was I supposed to edit? This was effectively an attempt to censor my thesis – which they approved – in order to protect their friends with EMS connections (and others) who were bothered by the content of my thesis. When at last Dr. Ed Smither provided 3 people’s names, he deviously moved the issue from one of “safety” to the issue of “failing to see how naming so-and-so helped my argument.” While I refused to submit to a second de facto defense of my thesis, I responded to him in detail with information from the internet that gave their names, phone numbers, and physical addresses, all within the US. Smither has yet to acknowledge my response to him (which was sent to him on October 13, 2016).
I would also like to add that the leadership of Biblical Missiology was involved in this process and have judged the claims of CIU to be baseless. In your “thinking out loud” I request that you not only assume the validity of the position of those who have falsely accused me. For the sake of fairness, I request that as you “think out loud” that you also assume the validity of what I have written, by asking questions like, “What is EMS and CIU afraid of?” “Why have they assumed the validity of the accusations against Simnowitz and not allowed him to defend himself?” “Why are people unwilling to suffer for Jesus if this is the will of God?” (if indeed they were exposed to real danger) “Why is CIU unwilling to stand up for one of its graduates?” “Why are Christian leaders protecting people who have changed the Bible in ways that exceed what Jehovah’s Witnesses have done, completely discarding in practice the belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture?”
Adam, I was referencing the email from Bill Jones that you forwarded. In his last stanza, he seems to be asking only that you take down the thesis and edit the footnote. Sorry, if I didn’t get the whole story.
What you wrote is not accurate. On what are you basing your information that EMS wanted me to remove one footnote?
Okay, I have been following this story for a while. I don’t question Adam’s intention or his rights to publish what he thinks will serve the church. What I don’t understand is why it was so difficult for him to remove just the footnote when requested by the EMS. I understand that the EMS should not be policing on what to do or not to do, but if Adam had just removed the footnote as requested (am I understanding correctly), would not all this episode be unfolded differently? After all, removal of his footnote is not going to affect his thesis. Does he have rights not to? Absolutely! But could he have surrendered his rights for others? I think so. Am I missing something? Pleases don’t take this comment as an attack. I respect Adam and the EMS members highly. I am just thinking out loud. Sincerely, Sochanngam Shirik.
Think about this for a moment and let it sink in. You have a secret society of “theologians” and “missiologists” who write under pseudonyms and present anecdotal stories of thousands upon thousands “coming to Christ” in “miraculous” Insider “Movements” which cannot be verified – you just have to trust them and their friends. All protected under the veil of “security”. If you attend their training, you sign a non disclosure agreement. If you join discussion groups to discuss the merits or non merits of their theology, you sign non disclosure agreements. If anyone like Adam here, uses open sources to reveal their true identity, they shut it down. And evangelical organizations, instead of fighting for disclosure and transparency, falls in step with them to censor any real challenge. Again, let that sink in.
David Irvine, the man in the pew.
There are very few who are knowledgeable enough about the reality of the Insider Movement theology, agenda, and its resulting translations, and fewer still who are willing to stand up and reveal the chameleon nature of this movement. A movement propagated by and hidden behind writings under pseudonyms and ghost writers. Adam is one of those and he is being silenced under the guise of “security,” “academics,” “ethics” and what ever else they can throw at him. These are the very same censoring tactics so prevalent in politics and the world around us – silence anyone who disagrees, especially if they have evidence and can bring to light the errors of your ways… Evidence that these are dark days that we live in where “Evangelical Christianity” mirrors the world around it.
Most everyone involved with missiology understands that making sure we do nothing to compromise the safety of our missionaries is of primary importance. It is precisely because everyone recognizes that this is very important that it has, sadly, become a ploy used by unscrupulous missionaries to keep western donors from becoming aware of what the missionaries they support are actually doing. I know of several similar false accusations where it was claimed that “revealing names” placed a missionary in “danger,” and none actually revealed anything that was not already public. For example, when a major newspaper had published an article in the national language of the country where the missionary worked and after it was picked up by over 200 other sources [all in the national language of that country], a translation into English of that news story was posted and the missionary objected. This missionary claimed that publishing that story IN ENGLISH would endanger his life in the country where he worked. When asked to explain, no explanation was ever provided by the missionary making the accusation. While it is difficult to understand how an English translation of an article well published in the country where he worked could increase his danger, it is absolutely clear is that his donors in the west could not read any of the 200+ copies of that article in the national language, but they could definitely read an English translation and potentially learn about ministry practices of which they were unaware. Too often it appears that the real threat that these accusers seek to thwart is a threat to their funding and not their life. It is time we start taking seriously the unethical behavior of those making false accusations rather than allowing false accusations to damage the reputation of those who have done nothing unethical.
With regard to Fred’s comment, neither Patrick Krayer nor Interserve are mentioned in my thesis. His name was not mentioned by Dr. Robert Priest, then president of EMS in his communications to me. Krayer, however, did contact Dr. David Cashin of Columbia International University (CIU) regarding my thesis (Cashin is the person who oversaw my thesis) on Sep. 23, 2016, the day before Priest informed me that I could not attend the conference.
Krayer objected to my naming someone in a footnote (in spite of the fact that I used public information including the CIU website). He then wrote, “Not only is he at risk, but also all those Pakistanis who work with him are at risk. Also, this can have broader implications as it can gender bad feelings against all Christian workers in both countries, putting everyone at risk. ”
I provide some comments and objections in response to Krayer’s email:
1. I was seeking to identify the author of a PowerPoint presentation as a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators-SIL (WBT-SIL) based on the name and specific content given in the PowerPoint. The reason for doing this was to show that “Muslim Idiom Translation” (MIT) is a subset of a broader idea, namely, “Religious Idiom Translation” (RIT) and that this is a belief that is held and taught by various people within WBT-SIL. The PowerPoint file was sent to me by someone who was part of WBT-SIL at the time that I received it. There is nothing in the file, however, that specifically states that the author was with WBT-SIL. For the sake of integrity I intentionally used qualified language to alert the reader that I believed that the name mentioned in the PowerPoint was indeed with WBT-SIL and then provided some reasons in the footnote. In order to do this I simply searched the internet with key terms in the PowerPoint along with the author’s first name (which is given in the file). The author’s first and last name, location of service, and specific details about his work are easily discoverable. To blame me for referring to public and publicly-accessible information is contrary to many things, not least of which is sound scholarship..
2. Krayer’s email confirms that my hunch about the author’s real identity is correct.
3. To the best of my knowledge, the person named in said footnote has neither contacted EMS nor CIU.
4. To the best of my knowledge, the person named in said footnote has no connection to Krayer nor to Interserve. This begs the question as to the real reason(s) Krayer felt compelled to write.
5. If the roles were reversed, I am confident that Krayer would rightly object to such unfair (and unwarranted) conclusions as he made in his email to Cashin. He has not followed the Second Greatest Command and the Golden Rule in his assertions and implications in this matter.
6. CIU has never given me the chance to defend myself against any of the “concerns” and accusations made against me. They assumed the validity of these complaints and have repeatedly tried to force me to change a thesis that they approved with the highest possible grade that they allow. In addition to this, Cashin repeatedly urged me to find someone to publish my thesis and wrote to me that I was free to distribute it in December 2015.
7. The main point of my thesis is being ignored through all of this, namely that Scripture has been willfully mistranslated for Muslims by a number of professing evangelical missionaries and Bible translators. This deprives Muslims the message of the Gospel that they can be saved from their sin by putting their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God who became the Son of Man, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead, who ascended to Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father, ever interceding for those who believe in Him.
Thanks for taking the time to provide this helpful narrative. I would also state that before we go too far down the road of asking whether or not Rev. Simnowitz’ thesis endangered anyone, we should look at two points:
1. The thesis has been posted online for well over a year now. No one has been harmed by it.
2. Patrick Krayer of Interserve, who raised the “security” issue, was not an unbiased observer in this discussion. In fact, Rev. Krayer presented a paper on Muslim Idiom Translations (MITs) at the EMS National Conference in 2015! I also served with Rev. Krayer on a panel regarding MITs at that same conference. (All the details and names were posted publicly on the EMS website.) If Rev. Krayer has a problem with Rev. Simnowitz’ research, he should address the research on the merits, not do a “bait and switch” by saying Simnowitz is threatening people’s safety. I can only conclude this “security” concern was deception. Simnowitz was gagged to keep his vital research from a wider audience.
Rev. Dr. Fred Farrokh