Subbing "The Son of God" (part 3)

(Continued from Monday: a response to Collin Hansen's Article in Christianity Today, "The Son and the Crescent")

Substituting or paraphrasing “Son of God” is not only a question of translation, but it is one of missiology. It is right to make the Bible more palatable in a cross cultural context? This is not the same issue as translating the text into the native language. Translating the text is missonal, changing the text is not. Should we render a version of the Bible for the evolutionist that doesn’t pick up the text until Genesis 4? Obviously, we should not.

Some would object to my point here by saying that missionaries and translators have always borrowed from the native tongue to make the Bible readable. Hansen alludes to this in his article. Yet I would contend that when it comes to subbing “The Son of God” it is not the same. The problem is not that Muslim people cannot understand the phrase, the problem is that they object to it. This leads to the theological problem inherit in the issue. If Jesus is not the Son of God, who is He? If He is not the Son of God, then it cannot be said of Him that He is the Savior in the same sense that the Bible teaches. One can easily see how translation and theology are so closely connected in I John 5:1-5,

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

In Hansen's article, the supporters of subbing "The Son of God" raise the issue of meaning. As you can see from 1 John 5:1-5, if Jesus is not “The Son of God” the meaning of salvation, Jesus, Christology, sanctification, justification . . . all of it changes because it all hinges on the reality that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus being the Son of God is not simply an issue for His conception, but it is also an issue for His cross.

I know that in my previous article “Deceived” I called for us to hear from our missionaries on reaching out to the Muslim world. Ironically, this week, Christianity Today has answered. Yet, in my opinion, it seems that some of our missionaries and translators, on this issue at least, have it wrong.


Popular Posts