Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To Wycliffe, SIL, And Foundations: Is the Gospel an Offense, and Dare We Change It?

Article by Rob Willmann (Shepherds Heart Bible Study)

In the WND article ‘Wycliffe defends changing titles for God‘, Bible publisher Wycliffe defends and deflects it’s decision to change the wording in Bibles that are translated for Muslim speaking countries. Wycliffe, Frontiers, and SIL have been putting out bible translations that minimize or outright omit the familial titles that are plain in Scripture (ie: God the Father, God the Son). This has been documented extensively and can be found in many online sources. Especially difficult for Wycliffe to explain away are the testimonies of missionaries themselves who have these translations in their hands.
Wycliffe responded with a Response to “Son of God” Accusations.
What is the problem you ask?
Simply put, it appears that Wycliffe may be disingenuous with their answer.
The Sonship and Deity of Jesus Christ is being swept aside so that Muslims will not be ‘offended’ at these concepts. In essence, a type of syncretism between the Islamic and Christian worldviews is being promoted.
Syncretism is defined as the combination of different forms of belief or practice. And that’s certainly what’s happening, even if Wycliffe denies it. Missionaries in the field have seen this happening first-hand:
Did you catch that? Missionaries are having problems in the field because when they reach out to a village with the true Christianity, they are finding people who have already heard the syncretized message of Islam and Christianity being compatible.
Friends this makes me weep!  Has Christianity sunk so low that we are not able to stand up and simply DECLARE what Scripture declares, come what  may?
Didn’t Jesus teach us:
(Luke 12:8-9) “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 
Recently Mark Dever (Together for the Gospel) stated:
“One part of clarity sometimes missed by earnest evangelists, however, is the willingness to offend. Clarity with the claims of Christ certainly will include the translation of the Gospel into words that our hearer understands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean translating it into words that our hearer will like. Too often advocates of relevant evangelism verge over into being advocates of irrelevant non-evangelism. A gospel which in no way offends the sinner has not been understood.”
(Online Source)
While we should never be offensive for the sake of being offensive, the Scriptures themselves teach us that God’s Word IS offensive to those who are perishing:
(1Corinthians 1:21-24) For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Here’s another video on the same issue:
Consider this man’s words from the video:
… and children, they  know that in the house, father is praying in the name of Jesus and in the daytime he is seeing, ‘Oh, father is going to the mosque!’… So these children – what are they to think?
What are they to think indeed! By blending the teachings and customs of Muslims with the teachings and customs of Christianity, these new missionaries are planting strange vine-slips in God’s garden, and we know where that leads:
(Isaiah 17:10-11) For you have forgotten the God of your salvation And have not remembered the rock of your refuge. Therefore you plant delightful plants And set them with vine slips of a strange god. In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in, And in the morning you bring your seed to blossom; But the harvest will be a heap In a day of sickliness and incurable pain.
An additional critique of these translations is found here. Here’s a short quote:
The contextualized paraphrase of the New Testament which pursues the goal of making it friendly to Muslims is a lamentable and hazardous wager.  The harm to be caused by it will far outweigh any argued benefit.  You certainly won’t wish to have a verse-by-verse, even chapter-by-chapter critical analysis of this new text and the abundance of its explanatory footnotes.  I shall briefly refer to a few of the astounding deviations of the renditions in Matthew, of which the main consideration is to be Muslim-friendly and make it acceptable to them.  In these alarming times political Islam has forced the whole world to keep step with its own agenda.  It is deplorable to see its influence reach even to the inspired Christian text of the New Testament which was circulating six centuries prior to the appearance of this religion now in vogue.  According to what I hear, the representatives of Frontiers have employed Muslims to produce this paraphrased Turkish version.  I won’t hesitate to say that the aim of such people is not to promote the message and uniqueness of Christ, but to serve the line of their own religion.  The group involved in this paraphrased translation is seeking suitable ways to appeal to the feelings of their targeted audience. (Online Source) 
Where does it lead? It leads to a Christ-less Christianity, which is NOT Christianity. It leads to a Gospel that doesn’t transform. I keep thinking of all of the early evangelists and martyrs who followed God onto foreign soil where they were killed for the sake of the Gospel. The men who are contextualizing the Gospel to such an extent that there’s no real difference between a Muslim and a Christian are not furthering the Kingdom. Jesus said:
(Matthew 23:15)”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Oh would that faithful men would rise up and preach the Gospel, not edit it to make it palatable for men.