Bible Translator Fixes God For Muslims

Evangelism used to mean teaching people and cultures about what God taught us about Himself. For Wycliffe Bible Translators it means changing God to suit the culture. The culture in question? Muslims of course. You can't make this kind of stupid up.
(AP) — One of the largest Bible translators in the world is undergoing an independent review after critics claimed language in some of its translations intended for Muslim countries fail to present God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Critics say substituting words like “Messiah” for “Son” and “Lord” instead of “Father” distorts the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in a misguided effort to avoid offending Muslims, who believe Allah has no son and Jesus was a prophet.
Wycliffe Bible Translators responds that concepts relating God to family members don’t make sense in some cultures, so the language needs to reflect that. Wycliffe is involved in more than 1,500 Bible translation programs in 90 countries.
The World Evangelical Alliance is appointing a panel of scholars to review Wycliffe’s translation policies. Wycliffe president Bob Creson says the organization won’t publish any disputed materials until after the panel releases its findings.
SO even though God himslef taught us to think of Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Wycliffe dispenses with that. I cannot help but wonder if they would have changed it for a culture not so prone to chopping off heads? Just asking.

ht Zippers


  1. How low is possible to achieve? Wycliffe reached.

  2. Protestants are well practiced at forming God in their own image and likeness... anything inconvenient about God is swiftly jettisoned. Real presence? Gone. Male priesthood? Gone. Natural marriage? Gone. God as Father? Gone.

    Some may comment that this assessment is too simplistic, but I would argue that your sect is simply on the way and they just haven't done anything that offends you so obviously yet. Just give them time. Or better yet, become Catholic and be that frog that jumps out of the steadily hotter boiling pot of crazy. We have our problems, but they tend not to be about telling the hard truths about God and nature.

  3. Wycliffe has been interpreting the Bible according to the local culture for years. One thing I remember from my protestant days, was the difficulty the translators were having with the concept of the Lamb of God. One culture they were working with just couldn't understand it, but did have the practice of fostering children between warring tribes. So, the translators changed "the Lamb of God" to "Peace Child."

  4. This is nothing new or even newsworthy. Remember the "Good News Bible" of 1976? Schlock. As Blackrep said, Protestants are notorious for editing, abridging, rephrasing etc to suit their ends.

    The irony here is, there already ARE accepted bible translations in Arabic, Persian etc, and have been in use in Catholic and Orthodox liturgy for centuries.

    One has to wonder what is more dangerous: a radical Muslim or a radical Protestant. Both are wrong...jsut different shades of wrong.

  5. I remember a while back, some columnist said, as many have said, "Islam needs a Reformation". And someone in their comment-section pointed out, no, scriptural literalism, anti-rationalism, teetotalism...Muslims already are Protestants.

    I'm glad I didn't have to be the one to say it.

  6. A little food for thought about this conversation . . . I know a woman who runs a Christian outreach to Muslims, and she told me that one problem with many Bible translations is that the Arabic language creates problems with the idea of Jesus being the product of a sexual union between God and a woman. This is blasphemous to them; and, as far as I know, God didn't actually have a sexual relationship with Mary. So I'm left wondering if they modified some language to ensure that, in Arabic, it doesn't read as though God and Mary had intercourse. So, before we jump in and assume some squishy Protestant is corrupting the Bible, we'd better look into the Arabic language and any problems it may pose for translation . . .
    a non-squishy Protestant who like reading Creative Minority Report

  7. we'd better look into the Arabic language and any problems it may pose for translation . . .

    Not necessarily if the precedent TrerentiaJ gave us is correct. In other words, it may be an assumption, but a reasonable one.

  8. It's things like this that make me thank God (and Pope John Paul II) for Liturgiam Authenticam. Just like if the original language used the words "for many", I would rather have it translated directly and then read analyes and interpretations of that rather than have the analysis and interpretation already pre-cooked into the translation. I have no doubt Arabic has words meaning "father" and "son". Just translate those words and then explain and interpret for Arabs the implications.

  9. Of course Arabic has words for "father" and "son." But actually, Islam has no concept of God as Father, or Abba, at all. We know that God the Father is our Abba, or "papa," but that level of love and intimacy (or even a family connection) is completely foreign in Islam. That one concept has been revolutionary for the people group my friend is evangelizing.

    And the previous word in Bible translations for Jesus *as God's son* is a word that implies the product of a sexual union. That's where the problem lies.

    It's similar to the problems in translating the Greek words for "love" into English: we have one generic word that subsumes brotherly love, selfless love, romantic love, and sexual love -- all of which have separate, distinct words in Greek. I'm not defending the Wycliffe translation per se, as there may very well be problems with how they've tackled these very real language issues. But it did feel like this post and commenters jumped to criticize with little to no understanding of the difficulties of evangelizing to Muslim people.

  10. But it did feel like this post and commenters jumped to criticize with little to no understanding of the difficulties of evangelizing to Muslim people.

    Well, wake me when you come up with some facts instead of feelings.

  11. Sorry -- guess I should've said "it did seem as though" instead of "feel like."

  12. Peter and Nancy said:

    "she told me that one problem with many Bible translations is that the Arabic language creates problems with the idea of Jesus being the product of a sexual union between God and a woman."

    I was told this same thing about four years ago by one of the leading "insider movement" proponents. Here is what I found.

    1) This claim comes from Rick Brown (the Wycliffe/SIL translator at the center of this controversy) and there is no supporting evidence given by Rick Brown to substantiate this claim.

    2) Other "insider missiologists" cite Rick Brown's articles to support this claim.

    3) When I asked Native Arabic speaking people about this claim, all denied it. I have also seen numerous reports about Arabic speaking people in the countries where these bibles are being distributed who deny this claim. In fact, the strongest opposition to these bibles has come from the churches in these Arabic speaking countries. They have pleaded with Wycliffe/SIL to stop these translations but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

    4) Arabic dictionaries do not support this claim.

    5) There are numerous examples in Arabic literature that contradict this claim. For instance, Islamic literature speaks of Zayd ibn Mohammad (زيد بن محمد) i.e. Zayd son of (the prophet) Mohammad. No Arabic speaking Muslim believes that Zayd is anyone other than Mohammad's adopted son; this term does not fool them into believing that Zayd is Mohammad's biological offspring.

    6) Wycliffe has engaged in some very unscrupulous smear campaigns to discredit those who oppose their translations. When Wycliffe press release says "“some people who do not understand the principles of accurate and meaningful translation, and are working strictly from English source texts rather than the original Greek, are levying unprincipled, untrue attacks against our organization and our closest partner — attacks that are stirring up a great deal of concern among well-meaning people looking for answers.” Who would guess that among the critics of these translations are some of the world's most respected bible translators?


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