While the biblical principal of being ‘all things to all men’ is not an issue, an increasing number of believers – both in the West and in Asia – are concerned that missionary organisations are going too far in order to accommodate the cultural sensitivities of non-Christian groupings and other religions.
Since earlier this year the well-known Wycliffe organisation has found itself at the centre of the debate and has stood accused of removing key words and concepts from the Bible so as not to cause offence and difficulty when working amongst the followers of Islam.
To those involved in outreach to Muslims and those of other faiths ‘Contextualisation’ and the ‘Insider Movement’ are familiar terms which, broadly speaking, relate to the need to make allowances for different cultures when engaged in evangelism.
The Contextualisation C5' model is formulated around the view that believers remain legally and socially within Islamic community. Aspects of Islam incompatible with the Bible are rejected or if possible, reinterpreted. Believers may remain active in the mosque. Unsaved Muslims may view C5 believers as deviant and may expel them from the Islamic community. If sufficient numbers permit, a C5 "Messianic mosque" may be established.
Giving credence to the concerns are the voices of indigenous Asian believers who judge that their efforts to propagate the Gospel amongst their own people are being undermined by Western missionaries.
In a media statement in February this year the point was made: “
Any Wycliffe Bible Translators UK members who are potentially involved ...do not work directly under the auspices of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, but are seconded to a partner organisation, SIL International.”
Eddie Arthur, the Executive Director of WBT commented: “
“Bible translation decisions are often controversial and it is not uncommon for people who speak the same language to disagree strongly about the way a translation is carried out, as anyone who is familiar with the recent history of English translations will be aware. Our colleagues in SIL are taking a brave step in suspending the publication of Scripture in parts of the world where controversy has been stirred up and we look forward to the outcome of their period of global consultation.”
Since then, and as a further response, WBT has commissioned an independent review of its principles of translation to be undertaken by the World Evangelical Alliance. However the former is now being accused by one blogger of seeking to populate the review body with Wycliffe-friendly persons. The 'Cracks in the Crescent' blog suggests:
"This translation controversy is not going away soon, especially when there are serious ethical questions about how it is being conducted.
The Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) has joined the Assemblies of God in expressing serious reservations in its document about Wycliffe's translation philosophy. The PCA's General Assembly last Thursday approved resolutions that criticize Wycliffe Bible Translators while the Assemblies of God World Missions has threatened to sever ties if "Father" and "Son" are not translated literally.
1. WBT Press Release
2. Wycliffe Bible Translators is an interdenominational organization mandated to making a translation of the Bible in every living language in the world, especially for cultures with little existing Christian influence. Wycliffe was founded in 1942. The organization, with branches in over 50 countries is named after John Wycliffe, who was responsible for the first complete English translation of the whole Bible.
3. Contextualisation: Attempts to communicate the Gospel in word and deed and to establish the church in ways that make sense to people within their local cultural context, presenting Christianity in such a way that it meets people's deepest needs and penetrates their worldview, thus allowing them to follow Christ and remain within their own culture. (Author: Christians Together)
Easter; myths and traditions obscure amazing truths
Passover, Calvary and Easter; how the true wonder of it all is veiled from Jewish eyes and under-realised and distorted within the Gentile church traditions. (Author: Christians Together)
What is Next for Rick Warren?
Roger Oakland sees the drive for 'peace and unity' as the bait which will draw Christian churches and believers into a multi-faith mix. (Author: Roger Oakland)
Q 'n' A sessions after Sunday sermons?
The apostle Paul advised his audience to 'check him out'. Surely contemporary preaching should be subject to the same scrutiny? (Author: Christians Together)
Sexuality, eschatology, Israel: and falling leaves
A recent letter from a believer outlined these issues as important when looking for a spiritual home amongst the range of churches and denominations. They are vital issues in our day. (Author: Christians Together)
Countering the Insider Movement: a new film
The newly-released film 'Half Devil: Half Child' is a response to the tendency to compromise God's Word in order to reach those of different religions and cultures. (Author: Christians Together)
What we are not hearing from God's Word
Joel Rosenberg offers some notes on prophecy and eschatology; subjects which he believes are vital and yet not being widely taught. (Author: Joel Rosenberg)
Voting: the great church splitter
‘One person; one vote’ may be the preferred option in a democratic situation but it has no place in the body of Christ. (Author: Christians Together)
Facts about Islam
Dr. Peter Hammond outlines the normative progression of Islamic influence and behaviour in countries in relation to the demographic statistics. (Author: Christians Together)
Ten things everyone needs to know about Islam
Dr. Emil Caner sets out some of the basic facts regarding what is by some, judged the fastest-growing religion on the planet. (Author: Dr. Emil Caner)
Obstacles to Spiritual Growth: An Overview
An introductory session to a 6-part teaching course on the 'blockages' and difficulties which disciples of Jesus face in the road to maturity and righteousness. (Author: Christians Together)
The Platypus Challenge
A previous article related to those ‘awkward’ (Platypus) verses which do not fit comfortably within some traditional theological frameworks. This present article sets out a mechanism to address the issue(s). (Author: The Editor)
Every belief system has its pet doctrines and dogmas; but some of these need to be challenged. The exception proves – or disproves– the rule. (Author: Christians Together)
To whom it may concern
With whole denominations moving into open rebellion against God and His Word, believers are being left shaken and unsure of how to respond. (Author: The Editor)
Truth, error and deception
The world with its deceptions and error is a dangerous place for any Bible-believing Christian to be: sometimes it is even more dangerous in the church. (Author: Watchman)
What to look for in a church
As more and more believers are finding that existing church structures, practices and teachings are inadequate and/or flawed it is important to examine some basic characteristics of meeting together. (Author: Christians Together)
Will the church be all-conquering before Jesus comes back?
Two different and opposite theological systems both see the church as coming to assume a dominant position over the nations; but is this view biblical? (Author: Al Dager)
Something biblical; or just more of the same?
In the present collapse within society and within the church there is great potential: the potential for rebuilding from the foundations or merely seeking to restore that which has failed. (Author: Christians Together)
Clericalism is killing the church
While there are many sincere and conscientious believers in pulpits who are labouring diligently in their calling, the unbiblical clergy/laity divide is killing the church. (Author: Watchman)
Rick Warren builds bridge to Islam
Al Dager of Media Spotlight magazine looks at the issue of compromised faith as 'America's Pastor' Rick Warren works towards syncretism with Islam. (Author: Al Dager)
Passion Week/Last Supper/Traditions
Chris Hill speaking on the events of Passion Week. He speaks on the Last Supper and the nature of that meal, the question of which day was Jesus crucified and touches on the problem of 'traditions' (Author: Chris Hill / Christians Together)
Are we really caring for one another?
Has the body of Christ succumbed to the common view that the primary provider of welfare and care for believers is the secular state rather than the church of God's people? (Author: The Editor)
Reformation document is damaging the church
A document drawn up by the Westminster Parliament in the 17th century has profoundly influenced the Reformed churches since that date; biblical in part only, it is severly damaging the church today. (Author: The Editor)
Reformation; Sacraments; Babies and Bathwater
Subsequent to the ecclesiastical upheavals of the 15/16th centuries, many Christians who are sick today are turning to highly-dangerous spiritual practices. (Author: Christians Together)
Off Message: attacks from the inside?
Lost in Translation? Modern user-friendly Bible versions; or paraphrases; or corruptions of God's Word? You choose. (Author: Berean Research Institute)
Depression and the Christian (2)
Depression is a problem from which Christians are not immune. However the response to and 'treatment' of the malady should be markedly different from those of the secular world. (Author: Christians Together)
Depression and the Christian (1)
Jesus said that He those who were to follow him would enjoy life in all its fulness (John 10:10). In this context should Christian disciples suffer from depression. Johan Tangelder has written on the subject. (Author: Johan D. Tangelder)
Prophecy fulfilled: rumours of wars arising
Much of the prophetic passages relating to future events have been reduced to the point of meaninglessness leaving the body of Christ weakened and unprepared. This article seeks to speak into that void. (Author: Wilfred Hahn: Eternal Values Review)
Is the church heading underground?
With increasing pressures from new legislation and growing constraints on freedom of speech, how will Christians and churches respond? (Author: Christians Together)
A situation; a request
A recent letter to Christians Together sets out a situation and makes a request. Perhaps you can help; or maybe you are in the same situation. (Author: Letter to Christians Together)
What shape the church?
With the failures – in a variety of forms – within much of institutionalised churchianity many believers are now looking critically at a range of underlying issues. (Author: Steve Taylor)
Leaven in the lump, and tares amongst wheat
The parable of the wheat and the tares is sometimes mistakenly offered as a biblical justification for the resigned acceptance of error in the church. The problem has an ancient root. (Author: Unknown)
When everything shakes, in whom do we trust?
Widespread error and apostasy across the spectrum of organised churchianity has caused many believers to question of what or whom to trust. (Author: Christians Together)
David Pawson's Fireside Chats
In a completely new venture David Pawson is broadcasting 'Fireside Chats' with the fist focussing on the riots in Britain in 2011. (Author: Christians Together)
Putting a stop to Cessationism
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit has, and continues to be a subject of much controversy, mis-understanding and abuse. In a day when the Christian church needs to be all the God intends for her, Ray Borlase defends his corner. (Author: Ray Borlase)
Don't read this...
Warning: clicking on this link could result in damage to your status, raise your blood pressure, cause your knee to jerk and challenge a lot of what you have been taught (Author: Watchman)
Is there anything wrong with Rob Bell's gospel?
J. Lee Grady suggests tha the controversial book 'Love Wins' by very popular author Rob Bell celebrates God's love but drifts dangerously into Universalism. (Author: J. Lee Grady)
The 'Left Behind' doctrine relaunched
With a fanfare of publicity the 'mega best-selling' Left Behind series of books is being re-launched.The question is whether today's Christians are taking their doctrine from their Bibles or from popular fiction. (Author: Christians Together)
Sound Doctrine for the Remnant; a resource for believers
A free 'Christian library' resource offering teaching material on DVDs and CDs. The ministry aim is to strengthen 'the Remnant' in the days in which we live. (Author: Christians Together)
Christian Survival Resource
A section of the Christians Together website aimed at being a resource for Christians in the 21st Century facing church fragmentation and false teaching. (Author: )
The Remarkable Replacement Army
In a new book entitled 'The Remarkable Replacement Army, Stan Firth using an allegory from history to assist believers today in world of collapsing denominationalism. (Author: Christians Together / Stan Firth)
Kingdom Now teaching: beware!
With many movements it is difficult to define exactly what they are and believe. This article is a recent example of what Kingdom Now theology teaches. (Author: Example of Heresy)
Thank God: someone has said it at last
It is very very sad that it needs to be said. It's also very sad that no one has said it before. It's only an American who could say it: at last someone has.. (Author: J Lee Grady)
Kundalini spirits in the church?
Andrew Strom has expressed strong concerns about what he sees as the worst invasion in church history of deceiving spirits into the body of Christ. (Author: Christians Together)
Study Bibles: danger handle with care!
A Study Bible can be a very useful and convenient tool in exploring the Word of God. However there is a very real and unavoidable danger when using one. (Author: Christians Together)
The Shack; huge help or subtle heresy
In our microwave dumbed-down culture are enquirers and Christians helped or led into heresy by the easy-read attractions of 'Christian' novels and allegories? (Author: Watchman)
The 'Emerging' Church and Straw Men
The (so-called) Emerging Church presents a confusing picture, and offers huge possibilities for misunderstandings as Christians debate 'church in the 21st century'. (Author: Christians Together)
Disarming of The Church
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe." The words of a 18th-century politician with relevance for the church of the 21st century (Author: John Green)