While Islamic jihadists are torturing and killing people who donâ€™t 100 percent agree with them, some western Christian organizations have produced Islam-friendly Bible translations that allegedly misrepresent the Gospel.
Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Mission Frontiers claim to be translating the New Testament in ways Muslims can understand, but other Christians are crying foul.
Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations, says Pamela Geller, head of theÂ American Freedom Defense Initiative. AÂ public petition is the last recourse because meetings with these organizationsâ€™ leaders, staff resignations over this issue, and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translationsÂ â€œhave failed to persuade”Â these agencies to retain â€œFatherâ€ and â€œSonâ€ in the text of all their translations, according to Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colo.-based Horizon International, which is sponsoring the petition.
The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Here are three examples native speakers give:
First, Wycliffe and SIL have producedÂ Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of â€œLordâ€ instead of â€œFatherâ€ and â€œMessiahâ€ instead of â€œSon.â€
Second, Frontiers and SIL have produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, an Arabic translation that removes â€œFatherâ€ in reference to God and replaces it with â€œAllah,â€ and removes or redefines â€œSon.â€
For example, the verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, â€œCleanse them by water in theÂ nameÂ of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spiritâ€ instead of â€œbaptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.â€ The Rev. Bassam Madany, an Arab-American who runs Middle East Resources, calls these organizationâ€™s â€œa western imperialistic attempt thatâ€™s inspired by cultural anthropology, and not by biblical theology.â€
Third, Frontiers and SIL have produced a Turkish translation of the Gospel of Matthew that uses Turkish equivalents of “guardian” for “Father” and “representative” or “proxy” for “Son.” To Turkish church leader the Rev. Fikret BÃ¶cek,Â “This translation is ‘an all-American idea’ with absolutely no respect for the ‘sacredness’ of Scripture, or even of the growing Turkish church.”
Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, says, â€œâ€¦[F]or many denominations, theÂ validity of baptismÂ depends on the words used: â€˜I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.â€™ No euphemisms, no nicknames: for example, trial balloons aiming to portray a more gender-neutral God have already been burst: the use of â€˜Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifierâ€™ in baptism has beenÂ rejectedÂ by the Catholic Church, if not others.â€
He argues that this inaccurate translation would in no way appease Muslims, who subscribe to no other profession of belief except â€œthere is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.â€
“It is Islamic authorities who should be excising the quran and hadith of the ideology that calls for jihad, genocide, subjugation and oppression of women, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and all non-Muslims.”
â€”Pamela Geller,Â American Freedom Defense Initiative
SIL issued a public statement that “â€™all personnel subscribe to a statement of faith which affirms the Trinity, Christ’s deity, and the inspiration of Scripture,â€™” says Hussein Hajj Wario in “‘Fatherâ€™ and ‘Sonâ€™ Ousted from the Trinity in New Bible Translations,” for theÂ Yahoo! Contributor Network, Jan. 27.
Hussein adds: â€œHowever, in the same statement, which is similar to Wycliffe’s, it claims â€˜word-for-word translation of these titles would communicate an incorrect meaning (i.e. that God had physical, sexual relationships with Mary) [sic],â€™ thus justifying substituting â€˜Fatherâ€™ and â€˜Sonâ€™ in new translations. Calls and emails to Wycliffe and SIL to clarify their positions were not returned. Frontiers responded to calls with articles that critics have already dismissed as skirting omissions of â€˜Fatherâ€™ and â€˜Sonâ€™ in new Bible translations.â€
Instead of Christians bending over backward to appease Muslims, â€œit is Islamic authorities who should be excising the quran and hadith of the ideology that calls for jihad, genocide, subjugation and oppression of women, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and all non-Muslims,â€ Geller says.