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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Understanding What is at Stake in the Bible Translation Controversy

Take a look at this article by "World Magazine" on the Translation battle taking place today among missions groups that seek to bring the Gospel to Muslims. It is a devastating mistake tamper with the meaning of words so central to the Christian faith as "Father" and "Son" are. While I understand that those who are doing so may have the best of motives, it is a tragic misstep for at least two reasons.

First, as the article mentioned above demonstrates, pastors and Christians from the nations in question are begging missionary groups not to issue Bibles that have altered the words of Scripture in a misguided attempt to make the Word more palatable. They above all understand the confusion this will cause among their congregations and among those to whom they seek to bring the message of Christ.

Second, and even more important to understand, such a move plays right into the hands of Muslim apologists who have always claimed that the Bible has been "altered" by Christians. So how can actually doing the very thing they claim has been done help the situation? Not only will it not make the Gospel more palatable, it will actually erect one more barrier to the Gospel being clearly understood.

This move also ignores the fact that the Gospel actually is offensive. To remove the offense is to gut the Gospel. John Piper does a really good job making this point in a recent article that points out that the words "Father" and "Son" were also controversial in the first century. And yet the Apostle John did not flinch from using them. (You can find that article here).

No, the answer is not to alter the translation. Let the words of Scripture stand. Translate them faithfully. And then teach people what they mean. That is the way to overcome the offense.

May God direct those involved to maintain faithfulness to His Word.

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