Excerpt taken from "Why They Changed the Bible", pages 18-19.
Copyright © 2014 by David W. Daniels. Reproduced by permission.
I was standing next to a premier missionary and linguist, who had been teaching us the science of language at the University of Washington, during the first of three summers with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), the "primary partner organization" of Wycliffe Bible Translators. I had gone that day up to the mountains with him, his wife and children to see Mt. Rainier and have some "delicious berry pie" at their favorite diner.
But something he had just said disturbed me. Did he mean what it sounded like he meant? I had to word my question carefully. I wanted my teacher to reveal what he believed, but not let my motives or beliefs get in the way of him telling me the truth.
"Do you believe the story of Noah and the ark, the great flood and all that?" I asked.
What he said next floored me.
"No, but David, look: don't let that bother you. When you go to all those churches to raise your missionary support, they have these Statements of Faith for you to sign. It doesn't matter what you believe. Just sign them. When you get to the [mission] field, you can do whatever you want."
So here was this veteran missionary, advising me to lie to the congregations that would support me. Then somehow I would have to go to the mission field and translate God's holy word, the Bible, regardless of whether I believed it or not, into another language. Then I would be charged with teaching the Bible to those people. And I would do all this with a clean conscience? How would I be able to sleep at night? Could I live a lie like that, as a Bible translator? Could that be what God wanted me to do?
No way! I could never do that as a faithful Christian.
On top of that, this guy had married and raised a family on the mission field, without even believing the Bible he was translating. How could he do that? It turned out the guy liked to "do" linguistics, and this was a job that paid him to spend years doing just that. How did he become a Wycliffe Bible Translator? He lied about the Bible! Did he lie about everything? Was he even a Christian?
That wonder-filled day, which started with such open-hearted feelings of devotion to my God, crashed down with such disappointment in this man. Now I couldn't share with him the wonderful realization of my newfound need to honor God and thank Him daily. From now on I would have to treat this man as an unbeliever.
I reined in my feelings for the rest of the day, until I could see my fiancée, Deborah, before I went back to the dorms that night.
What else would we learn as we trained to translate the Bible for a foreign culture? We found out in our second summer of SIL.