Wycliffe Bible Translators has issued another statement — the fourth one in six weeks — regarding the ongoing controversy about new Bible translations that omit ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity. It has gone from total denial to tacit acknowledgment of its culpability.
Previously, on January 12, Wycliffe insisted — contrary to the allegations in Biblical Missiology‘s petition – that ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ were “not removed, but are preserved in a way that does not communicate incorrect meaning.” This statement also defended True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, an Arabic translation that removes ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity.
Then on February 2, Wycliffe insisted it “never has and never will be involved in a translation which does not translate these terms.” And five days later it claimed, “we have never intentionally sponsored a translation…”
The current press release states Wycliffe “is making every effort to identify translations that may have used terms which do not adequately convey the divine familial relationship and to work with project partners to remove them from circulation.”
Statement from Wycliffe’s Website
“This major worldwide Bible translation agency is focused on people groups under one million. They have completed more than 600 New Testament translations and are currently working in more than 2,400 languages. In addition, they have begun “Vision 2025,” a vision to begin a translation in every language of the world by the year 2025.
In the late 1980s, Faith Comes By Hearing was approached by Wycliffe translators who found that the majority of the people were unable to read what they had worked so hard to translate. They realized that the Audio Bible could bridge that gap. Since then, Faith Comes By Hearing and Wycliffe have joined together in nearly 200 recording projects, with close to another 50 projects in process.
Wycliffe has requested that Faith Comes By Hearing complete a New Testament recording and start Faith Comes By Hearing programs in every language that they translate. To accomplish this:
Faith Comes By Hearing and Wycliffe have a joint annual plan to record new languages by region and to start new Faith Comes By Hearing programs in these languages.
Faith Comes By Hearing has agreed to record every language they will translate in their Vision 2025.
Faith Comes By Hearing and Wycliffe plan to start a program in every existing church in these language groups and in every village or community where no church exists.
The newest release raises more questions than it provides answers.
Wycliffe has declined to discuss translations it had defended in prior statements arguing they are from parts “of the world that are extremely hostile to the Gospel and where safety ‘firewalls’ have been built around information in attempts to keep people and projects safe.”
The following evidence strongly suggests Wycliffe’s stance is simply a ploy to keep its good reputation while covering its tracks.
First, these translations are available online. At least one of them is for sale on Amazon.com. Several others are available for download on Wycliffe’s partners’ websites.
Second, Wycliffe’s experts have written extensively in leading Christian magazines and openly lobbied for alternative translations in Muslim contexts.
Wycliffe’s Rick Brown, in a 2008 article in an online Arabic magazine AL Bawaba praised True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, a major issue in this controversy. He claims it “affirms the cultural identity of the audience while clearly communicating the biblical worldview.”
Even when Muslims and Christian use two different holy books, Brown is defending a Bible translation the article states is meant to “bridge the gap between the Muslim worldview and that of the Bible.”
Another Wycliffe expert, Larry Ciccarelli, who also goes by Leith Gray, supports translations “people of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds” want.
How could Wycliffe let such statements stand? No wonder there is a controversy with these Bible translations. Accuracy seems not to be the goal anymore in translations.
Third, Wycliffe USA Senior Vice President Russ Hersman, in an interview with World Magazine in October openly stated Wycliffe was involved in 30 to 40 translation projects in Muslim contexts which “employ some alternate renderings” for the ‘Father’ and ‘Son.’
When will Wycliffe account for what many are seeing as glaring contradictions in its statements? A public discourse is necessary as evidence indicates it would reveal gross negligence and misconduct by its experts.