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!