Lost In Translation: Keep "Father" & "Son" in the Bible
Note: In April 2013, Wycliffe/SIL announced it would "implement the guidelines" developed by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), including its recommendation to use the most direct familial terms for God. That sounds promising--but Wycliffe/SIL has yet to say what this means in practice. Will translators continue to insist that "familial" can include terms like "guardian" or "representative"? Will Wycliffe/SIL admit to any past mistakes in translation, as a sign that correction is needed? Thus, until these agencies show they are committed to retaining "Father" and "Son" in the text of the Bible, this petition will remain open. For Biblical Missiology's full statement on the WEA report, please link here.
Western missions agencies Wycliffe, Frontiers and SIL are producing Bibles that remove Father, Son and Son of God because these terms are offensive to Muslims.
Some examples documented in our Fact Check:
• Wycliffe/SIL produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses “Lord” instead of “Father” and “Messiah” instead of “Son.”
• Frontiers worked with an SIL consultant to produce True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, an Arabic translation which removes "Father" in reference to God, and removes or redefines "Son," e.g. the Great Commission in Mt 28:19 reads, "Cleanse them by water in the name of God, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit."
• Frontiers produced a Turkish translation of Matthew, distributed by SIL, that uses “guardian” for “Father” and “representative” or “proxy” for “Son.”
• SIL consulted on the Bengali Injil Sharif, which translated "Son" as "Messiah" and “Son of God” as “God’s Uniquely Intimate Beloved Chosen One.”
By replacing or removing "Father" or "Son" from the text of Scripture, these translations fail to portray God as who he is: the familial, eternal, loving God the Father, Son and Spirit. The deity of Jesus is obscured, and thus the self-sacrifice of God on our behalf. In June 2011, the Presbyterian Church in America explicitly declared such translations as “unfaithful to God’s revealed Word” because they “compromise the doctrines of the Trinity, Scripture, and the person and work of Jesus.”
Perhaps most importantly, national Christians say these translations are harming their work, even producing a short video expressing their concerns. Yet Western proponents condone removing Father or Son because they say Muslims can only see sexual connotations to these terms. Numerous missionaries and national believers, however, strongly assert this is not the case. Further, church leaders in places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey, and Malaysia have called for an end to these translations, but to no avail.
Adding fuel to the fire, these agencies have raised millions of dollars for these projects, yet donors are unaware their gifts are being used for translations that remove Father, Son and Son of God from the text.
A member of the SIL board indicated that while “a few objections” over these translations would be “dismissable,” SIL would need to respond when the “man in the pew” created a “backlash.” By signing this petition, you are letting these agencies know that your convictions, and the integrity of God’s own Word, can’t be dismissed. Instead, you are asking for a written commitment from Wycliffe, Frontiers and SIL not to remove Father, Son or Son of God from the text of Scripture.
For a thorough explanation of our concerns, including documentation offered in response to Wycliffe's comments about the petition, please read "Lost In Translation Fact Check." For brief answers to common questions, including responses to agency denials, please see the Petition FAQs. And for general information, please visit Biblical Missiology, as well as the "Petition Updates" section for articles and resources, including the new book, Chrislam.
Join us in this prayer:
O God, our heavenly Father,
May the witness that You have given us eternal life in Your Son, prevail in the hearts and minds of Your servants.
May the work of translating Your Word go forth to reach the unreached masses.
Endow those who are mistranslating Your Word, with grace that leads them to repentance.
Give the Church, Your body the unity of the Spirit, and the bond of peace under the headship of Christ.
May we all persevere in serving the gospel without shrinking back or shying away from the Truth.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of the Living God.
I've been in Turkey for 27 years and I don't know any Turkish pastor or believer that likes this translation. On the contrary, I'm also a pastor, and I can say that I know every pastor and everyone I know are upset with this translation. . . rather than changing the meaning of the Biblical terms and give reason to those Muslims who accuse Christians of adulterating the Scriptures, why not simply put a footnote to clarify that "Father" does not refer to a biological father and "Son" does not refer to a biological son? But for me the worst thing in this translation is that this "Matthew" started with a quote of the Koran and that the translation is full of footnotes with quotes of the Koran, as if it was the highest authority to decide what is true and what false.
Read more comments and see a global map of signers at http://biblicalmissiology.org/petition-comments-map/ (Updated Daily)
Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.” Taking away “Father” and “Son” from God’s own words changes our understanding of God and his ways. In particular, doing so obscures the eternal Sonship of Jesus and the good news that “the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).
Further, these translations compromise the essence of the gospel itself: the self-sacrifice of God the Son on our behalf, and the offer of an eternal relationship with God. 1 John 4:15 says, “whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” How can those in need of the gospel respond to the promises of God, if they don’t know him as Father, Son and Spirit?
When faced with obstacles to the gospel as great as any Christians face today, the apostle Paul declared, “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2). Translations that remove “Father” and “Son” from the text tamper with God’s word. With this petition, I am asking you to explicitly pledge not to produce such translations.
And thus may the truth of God’s word continue to be an “open statement” to all in need of the gospel.