At the PCA General Assembly: Ad Interim Study Committee on Insider Movements Overwhelmingly Approved

Affirming the necessity of retaining Bible translations to Muslims that use the biologically familial terms of "Father" and "Son"

Muslim Idiom Translations have translated these terms with such substitutes as “representative” and “guardian.” This action will give guidance to churches supporting translation work, a resource to our mission agency, and place pressure on translation agencies to hold to biblical standards for translation.

 

Because The Aquila Report was short on staff (by 50%) at the PCA General Assembly this week, we failed to get coverage of what, in the minds of many, may be the most important action taken by the commissioners this past week.  The following report has been pieced together from five different stories (so it may read a bit less smooth than some other stories).

The assembly voted on Thursday by an overwhelming margin to receive the first part of the PCA committee report on insider movements and to continue the study for another year.

The motions presented by the Ad Interim Committee and approved were as follows:

1. That “Part One – Like Father, Like Son: Divine Familial Language in Bible Translation” serve as a Partial Report (Part One of Two Parts).

2. That the 40th General Assembly declare that, since social familial terms fail to capture the biblical meaning of “Son” (huios) and “Son of God” (huios tou theou) applied to Jesus and “Father” (pater) applied to God, Bibles should always translate divine familial terms using common biological terms.

3. That the 40th General Assembly make available and recommend for study “Part One – Like Father, Like Son” to its presbyteries and sessions.

4. Pursuant to RAO 9-2, that the 40th General Assembly grant an extension to the SCIM for one year to allow for completion of its mandate and to provide Part Two of its report on Insider Movements.

5. That the 40th General Assembly set the budget for the study committee at $15,000 for its second year, and that funds be derived from gifts to the AC designated for that purpose.

The means the PCA has specifically affirmed the necessity of retaining Bible translations to Muslims that use the biologically familial terms of “Father” and “Son” and calling upon missionary translation organizations to reverse their practice of substituting these with other terms.

TE Travis Hutchinson, a pastor in the North Georgia mountains and a professor at Covenant College, was one of those speaking in favor of approving the report.  He posted these comments on his blog about the actions of the Assembly:

The report was submitted to us by the unanimous action of the Committee. The first four recommendations passed almost unanimously after brief opposition from the floor. The fifth recommendation concerned funding and will come later in the business. The Assembly received the report, which grants it a great deal of weight in the PCA. Some scholars are calling the document “historic” as it defines biblically, theologically and linguistically why the common biological terms must be retained in the translation of “huios” (son) and “pater” (father) in reference to Jesus and God the Father. Muslim Idiom Translations have translated these terms with such substitutes as “representative” and “guardian.” This action will give guidance to churches supporting translation work, a resource to our mission agency, and place pressure on translation agencies to hold to biblical standards for translation.

Following is a brief extract from the first part of the written report, which gives the history of the issued and describes the work done this first year.  A source link appears at the end for those who wish to read and study the report (as the approved Recommendation 3 approve suggests) may do so.

The Study Committee’s History

The 39th GA (June 2011) instructed its moderator, RE Dan Carrell, to appoint members to an ad interim study committee. Following the appointment of that committee in October 2011, the SCIM (Study Committee on Insider Movements) began its work through a series of video and telephone conferences from November 2011 through May 2012, in addition to regular e-mail correspondence. The committee met in person for three-day conferences in December 2011 and March 2012.

In December 2011, the committee divided the mandate of Overture 9, “A Call to Faithful Witness,” between matters of biblical translation and issues related to Insider Movements. The March 2012 meeting included personal and video meetings with a variety of biblical translation experts along with those directly affected by the biblical translations in question.

In January 2012, the committee’s first chairman, TE Wade Bradshaw, regretfully withdrew from the committee due to new and pressing commitments on his time. TE David Garner was elected as its new chairman. TE Guy Waters was appointed to fill the vacant seventh position in April 2012, and pending a year’s extension granted to the study committee, Mr. Waters will serve with the committee in preparing Part Two of its report.

Study Committee Recommendations to the 2012 General Assembly

The ad interim SCIM has carried out the first stage of its duties, investigating divine familial language and Bible translation. Stemming from the SCIM research, important points of action surface. These actions concern agencies and workers engaged in Bible translation, as well as the PCA churches that support the work of Bible translation. For the sake of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the SCIM unanimously presents Part One of its report, which follows.

Executive Summary

Introduction

The start of the twenty-first century marks a period of extraordinary opportunity for the spread of the gospel, the planting of churches, and the translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Though 350 million people1 still await a Bible in their own tongue, with literally thousands of Bible translations currently underway around the world, that moment when all the world’s people might have opportunity to hear and read Scripture in their own language is increasingly within reach. With the mighty redeeming work of the Holy Spirit occurring in many places around the world, it is imperative to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send even more workers into his harvest – for the works of evangelism, church planting, and faithful Bible translation. Many engage faithfully in these kingdom tasks, but not all Bible translations faithfully present the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Scripture reveals overarching themes which explain the nature of God and the duty he requires of man (WSC Q. 2-3; WLC Q. 5). When translations fail to render accurately or consistently key theological terms woven into Scripture, the thematic tapestry of theology frays. Our sonship, whether of our human fathers or our Heavenly Father, derives its meaning from the rich dimensions of the Sonship of the Son of God himself. While Jesus’ eternal begotten-ness and incarnate Sonship lack the sexual connotations of human sonship, nevertheless Scripture employs common biological sonship terms to convey important truths about Jesus’ nature, function, and vocation. Readers lose this information when biological kinship terms are substituted either with a “social son” term (e.g., “Unique Beloved One” or “Representative”) or with a less comprehensive term like “Messiah.” Key theological terms belong in the main text of Bible translations, with additional explanations and connections reserved for the paratext, study guides and, especially, the teaching and preaching of the Word.

Read the entire report here [Editor’s note: the original URL (link) referenced in this article is no longer valid, so the link has been removed.]