By Christian Research Network correspondent Rob Willmann of Shepherd’s Heart Bible Study
This is a repost of an original article on Shepherd’s Heart Bible Study
With all of the bad fruit finally coming from a rotten tree of mistranslation for the sake of greater converts, it’s no wonder that the Pakistan Bible Society is severing it’s partnership with SIL, which is a ‘translation partner’ of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
The Pakistan church at large may not know about the debate, but the Pakistan Bible Society (PBS) does. After 20 years of work together, the Bible society and SIL are parting ways over the issue, which is a blow to SIL because now it must operate without the imprimatur of the premier local publisher. (Online Source)
In a post a couple days ago I pointed out that the Pakistan Presbyterian Church was separating itself from these mis-translated Scriptures. Now the PBS is doing the same. These groups are choosing to distance themselves from these translations because a little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Just how bad are these translations? Here’s another quote from the article:
A team of translators with Frontiers helped produce the disputed translation of Matthew in Turkish, and SIL said some of its consultants helped at certain points in the process. Sabeel Media, a partner organization of SIL, published the translation in August 2011, printing it in book form and posting it online. In the Turkish Matthew, the “alternative form” for “Son of God” is something along the lines of “representative of God,” according to Turkish speakers, and “God the Father” has become “great protector.” A footnote explains the alternate terms: “According to the Jews, ‘God’s Son’ means ‘God’s beloved ruler’ and is equivalent with the title ‘Messiah.’” (Online Source)
Wow! I want to pull a couple of very disturbing observations out of this:
First, the phrase ‘Son of God’ is now being mistranslated as ‘representative of God’. What a tragic and misleading translation. We Christians are ambassadors for God, or representatives, if you will. But Jesus IS God the Son. Yes, Jesus is God in the flesh, Immanuel, but He is so much more than a mere representative.
Imagine how poorly translated this verse must sound:
(Matthew 11:27) “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
As I asked before in the last post, if a Muslim were to convert to Christianity and be saved through the teachings found in one of these mis-translated gospels, how would they then learn of the closeness, the familial aspect of the Son of God and God the Father?
Second, God the Father has been reduced to a ‘great protector’. Again this guts the Trinity – all for the sake of making a more palatable Gospel for Muslims.
I explained it to my wife this way: I am a protector of my family, but my children do not call me protector. They call me father, or daddy. I am their protector, but we relate to each other in a familial manner. My role may include being the family protector both in a physical sense and a spiritual sense, but I am much more than that one role. They are my children, and I am their father.
Likewise, God the Father implies so much more than ‘great protector’. For Wycliffe or Frontiers or any other group to state that ‘great protector’ is a suitable replacement for God the Father in the Gospels is ludicrous.
In the same way, Jesus commanded us to pray to our Heavenly Father in this way:
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
To remove that from Matthew and replace it with ‘great protector’ is to change the very words of Christ. It changes the very NATURE of who God is in the Scriptures.
Third, (and this is very condemning of this translational effort) the footnote explanation of the Son of God is a theological disaster:
A footnote explains the alternate terms: “According to the Jews, ‘God’s Son’ means ‘God’s beloved ruler’ and is equivalent with the title ‘Messiah.’”(Online Source)
No. Not even close. God’s Son doesn’t mean ruler, and it doesn’t mean Messiah. Even the explanation in the footnote is a theological landmine.
Some of the rottenness that has caused this aberrant syncretism and mistranslation finally comes to light:
The translators emphasize their desire to promote evangelism. Bob Blincoe, the U.S. director of Frontiers, cited in an email lack of growth as one reason for the translation: “The big problem is that church planting among the tens of millions of religious Muslims in Turkey has not been successful; it has not even begun.” (Online Source)
Bob Blincoe of Frontiers cites LACK OF GROWTH as one of the reasons. In my world, that’s called pragmatism. These translational efforts were made because of a concern that there weren’t enough converts. This goes back to my previous post “Wycliffe-Gate Continued: Words MEAN Things” and my premise that this is ultimately a sufficiency issue.
These groups have decided that God’s Word, as HE chose to reveal Himself to us is insufficient when it comes to sharing the Gospel with Turks.
Amazing! For the sake of expediency, God’s Word is being systematically altered. Yet listen to what this Turkish pastor says:
Bocek, 40, now a pastor and church planter in the coastal town of Izmir, Turkey, tells Western mission agencies to be more patient for faith to ripen in Muslims in his country, and not to alter key biblical phrases in translations for the sake of outreach. The phrase “Son of God” is offensive to Muslims because it seems to imply that God was a physical father to Jesus through a sexual union with Mary, so some translators have sought to find alternate terms to describe that relationship. “They get involved in these translations because they see that there is no fruit,” Bocek said. “We have results. But you have to be patient and take it really, really slow.” He and his fellow pastors address the offensive connotations of “Son of God” by explaining what it really means. “For centuries,” he said, “that’s the way it went.” (Online Source)
Friends, we need to be vigilant, and stand firm with our fellow Christians. We don’t need newly-minted, contextualized, watered-down Bible. We need to fast and pray that God would move on these people groups. We need to pray that these missionaries and pastors overseas would continue to preach the Word of God.
(Romans 10:14-15) How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
We also need to pray that the Pakistan Bible Society would not bow to pressure from the West, but would stand firm on the true Word of God.
(Hebrews 4:12-14) For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
I also ask you to join me by signing this petition:
Stand alongside pastors and missionaries who have a zeal and a love for God’s Word.
Finally, pray that God would convict those in these translational efforts of their mishandling of God’s Word.
The original appears complete with a comments section for you to join the discussion right here.