The Assemblies of God has opted to postpone its decision on whether to continue its partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators due to controversy over some of Wycliffe's work.
The World Missions Executive Committee for the Pentecostal denomination had initially declared it would make a decision on May 15. But AGWM has now opted to wait for a recommendation by a World Evangelical Alliance appointed panel, which is reviewing Wycliffe's policies on translating terms such as "God the Father" and "Son of God."
"We're grateful to the Assemblies of God for waiting with us while the independent panel convened by the World Evangelical Alliance reviews our translation practices and makes its recommendations," said a Wycliffe spokesman to The Christian Post. "Wycliffe USA has a long-standing relationship with the Assemblies of God. We value that partnership and look forward to it continuing into the foreseeable future."
Much of the controversy surrounding Wycliffe and its affiliate translation organization the Summer Institute of Linguistics come from a series of works sent to Muslim countries. In late January several groups argued that Wycliffe and SIL had omitted the familial language surrounding God and Jesus. Terms like "Father" for God and "Son" for Jesus were replaced with more "Muslim-friendly" terms like "Messiah" and "Lord."
Groups like the Pakistani Bible Society and the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan denounced Wycliffe's works and announced their intentions to cut ties with Wycliffe and SIL. The Rev. Dr. Altaf Khan, the acting moderator of the PCP, sent a letter to Presbyterian churches in the predominantly Muslim country regarding the matter and quoted 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."
In statements released near the end of January and early February, both Wycliffe and SIL denied the allegations.
"SIL does not support the removal of the divine familial terms, 'Son of God' or 'God the Father' but rather requires that Scripture translation must communicate clear understanding of these terms," read an SIL International statement.
"Wycliffe personnel are committed to working alongside language communities and other partners to translate God's Word with great care from the original languages of Scripture into the languages of the world's people so that all may know the redeeming love and glory of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit," read a Wycliffe statement.
Despite the fervent denials, Wycliffe would put the controversial projects on hold pending the recommendations from the WEA panel, which is set to investigate the accusations.
"We have given much thought and prayer in this process, and we continue to trust the Lord for a mutually acceptable resolution with Wycliffe," said AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis in a statement.
"If, after the WEA panel review is complete, Wycliffe's position concerning familial language is compatible with AGWM's … we will gratefully continue what has been a long-standing and effective partnership."
At present, 34 Assemblies of God missionaries work with Wycliffe. According to AGWM, no further missionaries will be added to Wycliffe until the issue over biblical terminology is resolved.