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Lowell Brueckner

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Wake up! It’s Later than You Think


I grew up the son of a missionary pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Personally, I have been in the ministry for 47 years and, during all that time I have observed and warned about the dangerous direction that God’s people are taking. Speaking in general terms, probably the best way to describe it is that there is a lack of the fear of God. There is little reverence for the things of God or for God Himself. It is quite common today to hear people refer to Him as “Daddy”.

I remember hearing in the 1960s teachings that provoked a rebellion against established Christianity and, as a consequence, today there is little interest in church history. In many congregations, you rarely hear hymns sung. The practices, the styles and the morals of believers have reached such a decadent level that there is little difference seen between them and the people of the world. Saddest of all, the Bible is losing its place as the maximum authority among Christians and everyone loosely interprets it in his own way. I wish we could hear John Wesley say once again, “Every new doctrine is false doctrine.”

Many of you are aware of the tendency today to make the gospel acceptable and pleasant for all. Some churches have been founded precisely with that purpose and they have been called “seeker-friendly”, where care is taken not to offend anyone by what is said and done. They don’t mention sin, repentance, or, of course, hell. It is totally humanistic.

Now, the situation that I have written about thus far is manifesting itself in Bible translation (By the way, I’ve done my homework in gathering the facts on this issue.) Contextualism is a translating method that gives more importance to the sense of a passage, rather than a literal translation. Almost all, if not all, the translations in modern language are contextual translations. As far as I’m concerned, I prefer a translation that is as literal as possible to the original Greek and Hebrew. The Holy Spirit can help the Christian to overcome difficulties in understanding outdated or uncommon terms.

The issue that I wish to present to you is of utmost importance. It concerns a controversy over the choice of certain Arabic words in the translation of the New Testament. It involves highly respected organizations on a world-wide level. I was very surprised to receive the following information and I suppose you will be also. My friend, we are living in dangerous times and we must awake to the situation that exists today in the “conservative” Christian world.

A circular sent by Biblical Missiology:

A controversy is brewing over three reputable Christian organizations, which are based in North America, whose efforts have ousted the words “Father” and “Son” from new Bibles. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers are under fire for “producing Bibles that remove “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” because these terms are offensive to Muslims.”

Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations “have failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations.”

Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.

The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Here are three examples native speakers give:

First, Wycliffe and SIL have produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of “Lord” instead of “Father” and “Messiah” instead of “Son.”

Second, Frontiers and SIL have produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ , an Arabic translation which removes “Father” in reference to God and replaces it with “Allah,” and removes or redefines “Son.” For example, the verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, “Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit” instead of “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Rev. Bassam Madany, an Arab American who runs Middle East Resources, terms these organization’s efforts as “a western imperialistic attempt that’s inspired by cultural anthropology, and not by biblical theology.”

Third, Frontiers and SIL have produced a new Turkish translation of the Gospel of Matthew that uses Turkish equivalents of “guardian” for “Father” and “representative” or “proxy” for “Son.” To Turkish church leader Rev. Fikret Böcek, “This translation is ‘an all-American idea‘ with absolutely no respect for the ‘sacredness’ of Scripture, or even of the growing Turkish church.”

SIL has issued a public response stating “all personnel subscribe to a statement of faith which affirms the Trinity, Christ’s deity, and the inspiration of Scripture.” However, in the same statement, which is similar to Wycliffe‘s, it claims “word-for-word translation of these titles would communicate an incorrect meaning (i.e. that God had physical, sexual relationships with Mary) [sic],” thus justifying substituting “Father” and “Son” in new translations. Calls and emails to Wycliffe and SIL to clarify their positions were not returned. Frontiers responded to calls with articles that critics have already dismissed as skirting omissions of “Father” and “Son” in new Bible translations.
Follow the link below to sign the petition:

First Follow-up:

From Wycliffe: “While we have never intentionally sponsored a translation that neglects to properly communicate the divine familial terms, some observers have raised concerns about whether our methodology has consistently met our goal. We are listening to those concerns and are seeking God's guidance as we re-evaluate our methodology and investigate to ensure that our commitment to accurate and clear translation is being reflected in every project. We are engaged in meaningful conversations with partner organizations, constituents, and church leaders to evaluate our standards, and expect to be prepared to issue a more complete statement soon. Thank you for your patience and prayer as we seek to fulfill our mission to make God's Word accessible to all people.”

This follows closely on the heels of their flat denial of theallegations on 31st January: 'Wycliffe is not omitting or removing the familial terms, translated in English as "Son of God" or "Father," from any Scripture translation. Erroneous information and rumors on the internet have recently raised questions concerning this issue.'

Clearly, there is a case to answer! This issue is crucially important in Muslim outreach as the two principal objections to the Gospel are: 1. God has no Son. 2. The Bible has been changed. I can just imagine one day soon being presented by a smirking Muslim with two Bibles and being asked which one he is supposed to believe: the one that says that God has a Son or the one that says that God has a 'one and only' or a
'cherished one'. How will I answer him? As he sees my confusion, he will turn away, knowing that he can have confidence in his 'Holy Quran' knowing that that has not been changed (not even one letter!) and that for a dead certainty 'GOD HAS NO SON'!

Second Follow-up:

You have received the following message about "Lost In Translation: Keep "Father" & "Son" in the Bible" on

Response To Frontiers' Assertion That The Petition "Misrepresents" Them: Many of you recently received a reply from Frontiers, thanking you for sharing your concerns with them. The heart of their response was to assert that the allegations in the petition "misrepresent" their agency and to direct you to their statement of faith. Biblical Missiology, however, has consistently stated that our concerns are not with the official beliefs of any agency or individual, but rather their actual practices. And regarding their practices, it is abundantly clear that Frontiers indeed has produced translations in which "Father" has been replaced or removed from the text. For example, in their Arabic "True Meaning of the Gospel," the word "Father" never appears in reference to God. In this elegant, hard bound book available on Amazon, Matthew 28:19 is incorrectly translated as "Cleanse them by water in the name of God, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit." The Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit simply does not appear. If Biblical Missiology indeed "misrepresented" the facts, it would be very easy for Frontiers to produce a copy of "True Meaning" that shows "Father" appears in the text. But Frontiers has not--because it can not. Rather than issuing denials, why will Frontiers not simply "commit in writing that your agency will not support any translation that replaces or removes 'Father,' 'Son,' or 'Son of God' from the text," as the petition letter asks?

The reluctance of these agencies to make such a commitment means that we must continue to appeal to them not to break from 2,000 years of biblical witness. So please encourage others to sign the petition at If you or others would like documentation that our concerns are accurate, please read the Fact Check at and the FAQs at .

We also encourage you to read pastor John Piper's recent article that said, "the potential misunderstanding of 'Son of God' was there from the beginning. The remedy for it was not the rejection of the term. The remedy was the New Testament itself — in all its controversial and self-interpreting fullness." You can read this helpful article titled "Forty Year Old Light On How To Translate 'Son of God' For Muslims" at .

What follows is Piper’s article:

Forty-Year-Old Light on How to Translate “Son of God” for Muslims by John Piper | February 28, 2012

Writing in 1972, J. I. Packer sheds light on the contemporary debate over how to translate the term “Son of God” in Muslim contexts. A common Muslim misconception is that Christians believe Jesus was God’s Son by procreation with Mary, so that there are at least two gods — the Son and the Father.

Motivated by a desire to remove unnecessary stumbling blocks for Muslims, some have advocated translating the Greek behind “Son of God” in a way that does not carry such biological connotations. That means avoiding such Father and Son language. But historically, the problem of ambiguity in Jesus’ Sonship has been solved by context and teaching, not translation.

What Packer contributes to the debate is the observation that the apostle John already faced this ambiguity when he wrote his Gospel. And he points out that the way John dealt with it was not by rejecting the terms Father and Son, but by making clear in the context what they mean. My conviction is that we should take the risks John did, and let the New Testament context do its work the way he intended.

Packer writes, “John knew that the phrase ‘Son of God’ was tainted with misleading associations in the minds of his readers. Jewish theology used it as a title for the expected (human) Messiah. Greek mythology told of many “sons of gods,” supermen born of a union between God and the human woman.”

But, Packer observes, “John wanted to make sure that when he wrote of Jesus as the Son of God he would not be understood” in those wrong ways. He wanted “to make it clear from the outset that the Sonship which Jesus claimed . . . was precisely a matter of personal deity and nothing less.”
To make sure of this, he did not reject the language of Father and Son. Instead, Packer says, he wrote his famous Prologue (John 1:1–18). “Nowhere in the New Testament is the nature and meaning of Jesus’s divine Sonship so clearly explained as here.”

In the beginning was the Word. “Here is the Word’s eternity. He had no beginning.”
And the Word was with God. “Here is the Word’s personality. The power that fulfills God's purposes is the power of a distinct personal being, who stands in an eternal relation to God of active fellowship.”
And the Word was God. “Here is the Word’s deity. Though personally distinct from the Father, he is not a creature; He is divine in himself, as the Father is.”
All things were made by him. “Here is the Word creating. . . All that was, was made through him.”
And the Word became flesh. “Here is the Word incarnate. The baby in the manger at Bethlehem was none other than the eternal Word of God.”

Now after showing us who the Word is, John reveals him as “God’s Son. “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). “Thus John . . . has now made it clear what is meant by calling Jesus the Son of God. . . [It is] an assertion of his distinct personal deity.” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God [London: InterVarsity Press, 1973], 48–50.)

The difficulties of Bible translation are enormous. My veneration for men and women who have given their lives to it is deep. The debt we owe them is profound. I also have spoken with Muslim background believers who are risking their lives for believing the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Some feel betrayed by the removal of this language from the Bible.

J. I. Packer shows us that the potential misunderstanding of “Son of God” was there from the beginning. The remedy for it was not the rejection of the term. The remedy was the New Testament itself — in all its controversial and self-interpreting fullness.

In addition to context, there are teachers. The ascended Christ gave teachers to his church to explain things (Ephesians 4:11). And he sent us to the nations to proclaim and to teach (Matthew 28:20). And if we are to teach like Paul (five hours a day in the hall of Tyrannus in pagan Ephesus for two years, Acts 19:9–10) we will need a solid, accurate, reliable text that can bear rigorous scrutiny.

Lord, raise up an army of translators and teachers like this.
[This article also appears in the March 10th issue of World Magazine.]

I also strongly encourage you to listen to this radio interview.
Three people interview the Wycliffe senior vice-president, as well as the president of Horizons International. Well worth taking an hour to listen to this:

This is Jack Van Impe´s TV program. Go to the following website and choose February 25, 2012. I get the impression that this is not as objective as the previous Jan Markell broadcast, but it is interesting to watch.

Finally here is a letter written to the aforementioned organizations by a local pastor of an Arabic congregation in Izmir (formerly Smyrna!), Turkey."As a Turkish pastor in Izmir, Turkey, a graduate of Westminster Seminary, a trained philologist and linguist, and a graduate of Aegean University... I am currently working on 'the essentially literal' Turkish translation of the Hebrew Masoretic Bible.... We, Turks, are questioning the Turkish translation... Sadly, your translation reveals a poor command of the Turkish language... This translation has absolutely no respect for the 'sacredness' of Scripture, or even of the growing Turkish church of former Muslims... Your translation reflects both your poor view of the sacredness of Scripture and an inflated view of the liberties you are 'allowed' to make, as you change the inspired Word of God to fit your questionable agenda...

You Westerners fail to trust God and you want results... and you want it now! By islamicising the Bible you hope that your trap will catch some Muslims, but it only satisfies your needs. It does not help the Muslims see that Jesus is the only way to God... There are many more deceptions in this translation... I have read the Muslim-friendly Turkish translation, and since I believe that it is heretical, I subsequently warned my Christian and Muslim friends against this deceptive translation. This translation is not just an honest mistake, but a methodical deception about the unambiguous Truths taught in the Scriptures...

Are you proficient in the Turkish language? You write, 'Nothing has been removed from the Turkish translation. God's Word was translated faithfully.' Absurd... We challenge you to return to the faith of our fathers, our fathers who feared the curse in Revelation 22:19: "And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." God's Word is mighty and powerful to save. We do not need to be ashamed of the claims of Christ. THE STUMBLING STONES THAT A MUSLIM MUST GET OVER TO COME TO CHRIST MAKE HIS FAITH-MUSCLES STRONG FOR HIS NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. GOD IS ABLE TO GET HIM OVER THEM. HE GOT US OVER THEM. Maybe, because we Turks come from a Muslim perspective we are more able to understand this than you.

I join the accusations in this petition and support it. This is not slander for any individual or institution, but against this false and deceptive translation... This translation is a sin against the body of Christ."


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