Mistranslations of the Words “Father” & “Son” in Bibles for Muslims – Open Letter from Arab Pastors

Insider Movement Translations and Gospel Messages

To the Church of Jesus Christ around the world,

We write to you about an urgent and important situation with which we need your help:

About us:

  • We are Arabic-speaking evangelical pastors and leaders.
  • We desire to see Jesus Christ glorified and the gospel preached to all peoples throughout the earth.
  • We desire to make the Bible available to all people in a language they can understand, through accurate, effective, and relevant translations.
  • We desire to see unity in God’s kingdom and harmony between Christian churches and organizations around the world, and are committed to building peace within the body of Christ.
  • We believe that, for the sake of truth and unity, the global Church must be alerted in cases when the Word of God is being distorted, leading to theological heresies, controversy, and damaging the reputation of the Bible, its accuracy, and the accuracy of its translations in many languages.

We have become aware that dangerous translation techniques have been used in recent years, in many languages around the world, producing translations which remove, replace, distort, or obscure the terms “Father” and “Son” in reference to God the Father and Jesus the Son. We oppose this practice in all languages, but in this letter we would like to specifically oppose this practice in our language, Arabic.

We affirm that:

  1. Translations of the Bible in Arabic must use the literal terms for “Son” (ابن) and “Father” (اب), without using any other companion words which tamper with the plain meanings of these words. There are no words in the Arabic language that are acceptable to be used as a replacement for these two words.
  2. “Father” and “Son” must be translated in this fashion in each and every verse in which they appear. It is not acceptable if they appear only in some verses and not in others.

We reject translations of the Bible that:

  1. Remove “Father” or replace it with words such as “guardian” (ولي), “Lord” (رب), “exalted” (تعالى), etc…
  2. Remove “Son” or replace it with words such as “prince”(امير), “messiah”(مسيح), “representative”(وكيل), “male”(ذكراً),  that add words that do not exist in the original text to change the meaning, such as “spiritual son”(ابن الروحي), “son (beloved)” (“الابن (الحبيب)”), “master of humanity” (سيّد البشر), etc…

Some of these translations include “The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ (المعنى الصحيح لإنجيل المسيح, original version, 2008, and revised version, 2016/2017, produced by “Al Kalima”) and The Bold Proclamation of the Apostles of Christ (البيان الصريح حواريي المسيح first ed., 2015/2016, produced by Mazhar Mallouhi, with “Al Kalima” and “Frontiers”), and “Al Injeel” (produced by Jeff Hayes).

These translations are dangerous because:

  1. They support the erroneous claims that the Bible has been corrupted. When readers compare different translations, some that include “Father” and “Son,” and some that do not, readers conclude that the Bible has been corrupted.
  2. The Church in the Middle East has maintained the claim that Jesus is the Son of God for centuries, under pressure from opposing claims from other religions. These translations undermine this effort by convincing the readers that the Bible does not call Jesus the Son of God.

We appeal to you, that you might take action, as individuals, churches, and organizations:

  1. Please stop supporting and producing such translations, and destroy any known copies in public circulation (other than reference copies).
  2. Help us to raise awareness by sharing this letter as widely as you can, among Christians.

For 2000 years, Christians have faithfully protected the scriptures – it’s unfortunate that our generation has allowed such dramatically different translations by compromising on such a central theological issue as the Father and Son. Please help us to reverse this dangerous trend and protect the accuracy of the Bible in the languages of the world, that all may hear the clear and transformational gospel of Jesus Christ.

[continue reading on © Biblical Missiology]

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