Lately I have been very concerned about some new techniques that are being used to reach Muslim nations with the gospel of Christ. Its no longer “news” to hear that our culture is watering down the Word of God to make it more accessible to people that find it offensive. That has been going on for decades.
But this is going way too far.
For several months I have been reading articles in World Magazine about new scripture translations that are getting into the hands of Muslims throughout the Middle East. I haven’t heard a peep about these new translations in the secular media and I don’t expect to.
Here are the basic details.

Muslims don’t believe God has a Son.

Obviously Christianity and Islam differ greatly on many subjects. One area of disagreement is the Trinity and the concept of Jesus Christ as God the Son.  The Quran is filled with denials of Jesus’ divine nature, the virgin birth, and even his death on the cross for our sins.  If you were to step inside the Dome of the Rock (one of the holiest Muslim sites) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem you would read the following inscription inside the building in Arabic:
God is only one God.  Far be it from his glory that he should have a son.
So how can we effectively reach people that don’t believe God has a Son?

Replace the “Son of God” with “representative of God”.

Since Muslims are offended by these scriptures, some major Bible translators have decided to simply take out all references to the Son of God in their translations for predominantly Muslim nations.  Also, God the Father is now known as “the Great Protector”.
What Bible translators are making these changes?
One translating group called SIL recently released the gospel of Matthew with all of these changes. You may have never heard of them, but they are a partner of Wycliffe Bible Translators.  Wycliffe is basically the largest Bible translating organization in the world.  Another organization by the name of Frontiers was also involved in these translations.  To their credit, Wycliffe has responded to the uproar on their website and they have posted a notice that SIL “put on hold [their] approval of publication of translated Scripture around which this criticism is focused” for a season.
For a season?

This is bigger than word choices.

We worry about offending people, but the gospel will continue to be an offense to lost mankind until the end of time. We make Christianity as vanilla as possible to appease as many people as will listen. So now we have gender neutral bibles that have erased all masculine pronouns that relate to God. We shy away from calling sin what it is because it makes people uneasy. We make church as comfortable and non threatening as possible so that people will come.  Then a cult forms, or countless seekers are led astray.
I am all for reaching the culture where it is. I love contemporary services and I like to drink coffee in the service while I’m waking up.  I’m a huge fan of using media, crazy lighting, computer animation and pyrotechnics for reaching the lost for Christ.
But, let’s leave the Word of God alone.  Sure we will have to say things in different ways over the years.  But “the Father” is “the Father” regardless of your culture and “the Son” is “the Son”.

Christians are dying for this gospel after all.

Going back to the article about these translations in World Magazine, we read about Fikret Bocek, a pastor in Turkey.  He was imprisoned in 1998 for 10 days for his faith.  He was tortured and eventually released.  A decade later, one of his friends and two other Christians were not so lucky. They lost their lives for their faith. Their brutal two hour torture and murder was actually video taped. In Iran, pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is on death row for converting to Christianity from Islam. His church of 400 people, his wife and children are praying for his release.  In Nigeria the Boko Haram terrorist organization is gutting churches with bombs. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are being martyred for their faith.
If you’re concerned about not offending people with scripture, consider all the people that have died for it.  From the time Stephen was murdered for his faith in the book of Acts to this very moment scores of Christians have gone to their deaths because they stand on the authority of the Word of God.  Don’t offend them.  They died defending this offensive gospel.

So do you think this is Important?

I’d love to know where other Christians stand on these translations and the authority of the Word of God in general.  Take a minute to sound off in the comment sections below!


  • Benknotts
    Posted March 8, 2012 3:17 pm 0Likes

    It appears that many believers want the pride of giving people the Gospel without the risk of rejection of giving people the Gospel. Jesus’ words cost him his life, and he did not try and alter who he was so that the Sanhedrin would be able to accept him in some deceptive language that would have won them over and kept them alive.
    In their own words though, many who do this suggest they are trying get rid of the unnecessary obstacles for someone to come to Christ, but I would counter – as you have – that someone is not coming to Christ if you have to change his name and identity to win their support for him.

    • Travis
      Posted March 9, 2012 3:53 pm 0Likes

      Ben – 
      Thanks so much for your kind words and for all you do for Jesus.  We are grateful to know you and have you pouring into this ministry with your Christ centered messages.
      We will always face rejection because of this message, but it still needs to be heard.

  • shamu
    Posted March 8, 2012 4:09 pm 0Likes

    Totally agree.  I also agree with Benknotts.  I would also ask, is someone really “coming to Christ” if they need the obstacles removed before they do so?  Isn’t that part of faith, having to get through the many obstacles that come along with being a follower of Christ.  

    • Travis
      Posted March 9, 2012 3:51 pm 0Likes

      shamu –
      Very true.  We are not called to remove obstacles, we are called to die to ourselves.  We are the obstacle!  🙂

  • Pastorkaczmarek
    Posted March 9, 2012 9:16 am 0Likes

    Very interesting article. I will be looking at the site and finding out more. I know several people over there working for our Father and this would undermine all that they do so others can be comfortable. If this is indeed the change, then why would they convert? We would have just effectively handed them another “corrupted” translation empowering them to stay their current course. The argument would be that even the Christians don’t know what they believe about Jesus. Thanks for your thoughts and time. 

    • Travis
      Posted March 9, 2012 3:49 pm 0Likes

      Pastor Kaczmarek – 
      Thanks for taking a minute to give me your input on the article.  We just need to keep standing up for the gospel message with the love of Christ.  We need to remain aware of the attacks on His Word that are surrounding us.  Please be encouraged in the work you are doing for Christ.

  • Luckie
    Posted March 9, 2012 4:49 pm 0Likes

    Good to know, and sad to hear.  Being bold means nothing if we continue to water the Word down in such ways.  I want to thank you for posting this.  Also the inscription inside the DOR is something I was not aware of and “interesting”to say the least.  By the way, I live in York county, PA and I believe my friends (Hostetters) do the field work there at the ranch.  And if that’s the case, I’ve been there helping them before.  i came across your site from the KLOVE page for business supporters.  Just a side-note.

    • Debblynn52
      Posted March 29, 2012 11:51 am 0Likes

      Thanks for your comment, “Luckie”. Stop by and say “hi” sometime.

  • Phil
    Posted March 28, 2012 5:56 pm 0Likes

    Without question this is a serious issue and should be of great concern to all of God’s people. Unfortunately, most of the comments I am hearing, reading, and seeing on video are responses to responses. Most are emotionally charged responses to what others are saying about this issue and not really getting to the heart of the matter. Unfortunately, many are jumping to conclusions based upon these second and third level comments.
    I have some comments and opinions about what is happening, but it’s not what you might think. I would like to take the liberty to respond. My comments are based on first-hand knowledge and discussions with those at the center of this controversy — national translators and Muslim background believers who have paid a dear price to provide the Scriptures to their own people. Many have lost loved ones, been excommunicated, or have been martyred for their work.
    Satan has done a masterful job in deceiving traditional Christian people (on both sides of the pond) from the real issue. Please bear with me. The discussion points concerning this issue have merit (although most can be fully, and adequately explained), but they are not the real issue.
    The real issue comes down to one thing. The real issue comes down to MONEY — plain and simple! 
    Please allow me to explain by reading the following:
    There is a battle raging over copyright restrictions related to many of the Bible translations in the languages of Muslim people groups. The United Bible Society holds many of these copyrights and is extremely restrictive about who has the ability to print and produce the Scriptures in these languages. For instance, if I needed 5,000 copies of a Bible in a specific language (Muslim culture or otherwise) in which the Bible Society holds the copyright, I must either obtain permission from them to print it, or have the Bible Society print it using their resources. If they print it — and they usually don’t bother to print such small quantities — I am at their mercy in terms of cost, time, and availability. If I print the Bible, I must obtain their permission or face a lawsuit for copyright infringement. (And the United Bible Society is relentless if it ever reaches this point!)
    Therefore, we have two options: (1) The Bible Society can print the Bible and sell it to me (at their marked-up price and in their timeframe), or (2) we can print the Bible (at usually one-third of the cost and a much faster turn-around time — we’re NOT talking weeks or months, but YEARS!!). If we choose the second option, we need to first obtain the Bible Society’s permission to do it. Since they “own” the copyright, and receive a substantial cut of the production costs, which option do you think they are going to implement? Although the United Bible Society (and their country-specific affiliates) says they are a non-profit organization, they operate as if they are a profit-making enterprise. 
    And, let me say that most of the translations “owned” by the Bible Societies are inferior. Most were produced by well-intentioned missionaries and expatriates. However, they did not understand the intricacies and nuances of a second language (this is true of anyone who is not translating within their own “heart” language). In addition, many of these translations use terms that are outdated, obsolete or, in some cases, offensive.
    So, the situation in which those of us who wish to provide the Scriptures to those without it find ourselves is, paying three to four times as much for an inferior and outdated Bible translation. It would be like being forced to buy a Yugo, when I can buy four Mercedes’ for the same price! At this point it becomes a stewardship issue.
    So what’s the alternative?
    The only alternative is to start over and develop a new translation that is not copyright restricted. In addition, (according to copyright law) this translation must be at least 25 percent different than the translation the Bible Society “owns.” Therefore, words and phrases are changed in order to avoid lawsuits and legal action. I must say at this point that most of the newer translations are better and more culturally appropriate. Most of the new translations have been produced by national translators — not missionaries or expatriates. (The articles and interviews that say otherwise are just wrong!)
    What the interviews and articles don’t tell us is the fact that most of these recent translations are producing unprecedented fruit. There have been more Muslims come to faith in Christ over the last 15 years than the previous 1400 years combined! Much of this is due to the availability of the Scriptures in their language and in terms they understand.
    Here’s a real life scenario
    When 600,000 copies of the new copyright-free Scriptures are translated and requested, how does the United Bible Society respond? Unfortunately, here’s the progression of what happens when a new translation (not owned by the Bible Society) is introduced:
    1. The Bible Society sues the translators and publishers for copyright infringement.
    This has been, and continues to be done. Although the new translations are not copies, because it’s the Bible, there are similarities. Some translations of the Bible have been (and continue to be) caught up in legal battles for years.
    2.  The Bible Society criticizes the translators and the thousands of believers who are coming to faith in Christ. Without seeking the facts, they make sweeping generalizations and propagate the idea that these followers of Christ are not “Christian” or not true “believers.”
    This is also being done. There has been an effort by the “Christian” community to label Muslim background believers who are responding to the Scriptures as “non-Christian” and that the translations associated with the movement of God are “watered down.” As if “culturally appropriate” always means “compromise.” I have listened to Muslim background believers tell their stories of “Christians” forcing them to eat pork, shave their beards, wear “western” clothing, etc. to “prove” they are “Christian.” This is shameful!! Trace it back and you will usually find members of the Bible Society and/or traditional “Christian” community at the root of these comments and practices. 
    Understandably, many of these new believers refuse to be called “Christian.” They don’t want any association with those practicing these false “rights of passage” and burdensome rituals. Nor do they desire any association with “western” culture — also associated with the term “Christian.” To them, “Christian” women abort their babies and expose their bodies. “Christian” men rape, steal and are involved in homosexuality. This is an understandable and legitimate aversion. If the perceived meaning of a word becomes a hinderance to the Gospel, it’s time to use another word that is more understandable. Otherwise, the word itself becomes an idol.
    3.  The Bible Society exposes the national translators and leadership of those responding to the Gospel to the Muslim-controlled government and labels them as “subversive, radical and proselytizing Christians.”
    Yes, this has also been done! The Bible Society exposed  the names of every leader and published them in the national newspaper (including all addresses and names of family members). The result was over 150 of these believers were killed by radical Muslims. The Bible Society and “Christians” responsible for this have the blood of their brothers and sisters in Christ on their hands!
    The obvious question is why is this happening? The reason is simple — eliminate or discredit the competition.
    We can continue to discuss and argue the validity of using specific words and phrases for these Bible translations until Jesus returns, but the real reason why they are being opposed and why these controversies are being propagated comes down to one thing — mammon! The United Bible Society is losing “market share” and is doing everything in its power to control the situation and recover their losses. 
    In the mean time, thousands continue to wait for the availability of the Word of God in their language! As “Christians” try to control the legitimate work of the Holy Spirit, thousand are waiting, and millions are dying, waiting for God’s Word to reach them.

    • Debbilynn52
      Posted March 29, 2012 11:52 am 0Likes

      Isn’t it sad that money becomes more of an issue than winning souls?

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