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Psalm 119:

129 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from the oppression of men,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, 
   for your law is not obeyed.

When I watch this video and think of reading such translations as though being circulated with “Father,” “Son of God,” and other vital revelations of the character of God, I feel something akin to what the psalmist feels in v. 136.  I could weep over this tampering with God’s word and the harm such distortions do to the people of God and the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord.  This 5 minute video with Muslim background believers contending with “insider” movements tells the story poignantly.

The word of God should alter people; people should never alter the word of God–especially those people who claim to love the God of the word.

For those who might be interested, here is a link to a petition to Wycliffe, Frontiers, and SIL along with some fact sheets.  If you’re not the petition signing type, I hope you’re the petition making type.  I hope you’ll petition the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit for the preservation of His word so that those who need the word of life will have it and those who sacrificed their lives for it will be honored.

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35 thoughts on “Read ‘em and Weep: More on “Insider Movements” and Bible Translation”

  1. David Harriman says:

    Thank you for your leadership, Thabiti. I work with many former Muslims and they are aghast at what has been done to the Word of God in the languages in which these translations have been done (Arabic, Turkish, etc.).

  2. Brian says:

    While these are great issues to debate, I think they need to be approached with great humility and wisdom and a love for unity in the body of Christ. A few comments may prove helpful.
    1. It is important to note that so-called C5 and C6 fellowships (“insider movements”) are not directly tied to the current debate on Muslim-friendly translation issues. Many are wrongly influenced to believe that insider movements are about being deceptive somehow, or about watering down the gospel. This is simply not true! In fact, prominent evangelical leaders have studied one of the largest such insider movements in the world and found the believers there to be more orthodox in their faith than many so-called “evangelical” believers in the U.S.
    2. Regarding the petition, it is important to note a few things. First, Frontiers is mentioned. Frontiers is not in the ministry of Bible translation. It is true that some of their staff have had some involvement, but it is not what their ministry is about, and they do so only in cooperation with others.
    3. Much of what is presented in the petitions is NOT accurate. If you care about making an INFORMED decision, be sure to read responses from Wycliffe and SIL. Better yet, pick up the phone and talk to them about it. If you don’t care about making an informed decision, than I suggest you go back to God’s word and meditate on it awhile.
    4. Note that the Bible translators involved in the translations being questioned are highly trained. They have a deep understanding of God’s word, the original languages, the host languages, the host culture, and translation issues. They have also worked on the translations in question with the input of local believers. Just because one group of local believers speaks out against a certain approach doesn’t mean the approach is wrong. I would urge you to show some respect for the translators and do a bit of research before you begin shouting from the rooftops.

    In saying all of this, I am not arguing for or against contextualized translations or insider movements. I am simply encouraging readers here to step back and approach this from a more informed, more godly perspective. Instead of tearing each other apart over this, let’s recognize that NONE of us is without error, and aim for healthy dialogue and debate for the purpose of seeing Christ exalted and the nations of the earth blessed.

    1. David Harriman says:

      I have just read the comment by “Brian” and feel I should comment. My name is David Harriman. I served with Frontiers for 18 years as director of development/director of advancement (1991 to 2009).

      The Arabic translation of the Gospels and Acts (also known as True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ) was undertaken by a member of Frontiers with advice and counsel from SIL member “Leith Gray.”

      Some 600 Frontiers donors contributed more than $214,000 to publish this volume, in which “Father” is not rendered literally, in any instance, and in which Son, Son of God, and Son of Man is redefined by paratext and footnote. Verse-by-verse changes to the language of scripture can be seen here:

      Moreover, the rationale behind these changes can be seen in this paper by SIL member Leith Gray:

      All of this is publicly available information. Frontiers has been engaged in Muslim-idiom translation activities in Arabic, Turkish, Indonesian and other languages. In the case of the Arabic translation I am describing donors were never informed of these changes. This is not transparent. In fact, it was only in 2011 that I learned of these changes to the very text of scripture. There is no way in which these changes can be described as insignificant; they are in fact a direct violation of Frontiers’ commitment to full verbal inspiration:

      David Harriman

    2. Scott Seaton says:

      Regarding Brian’s comment that insider movements are not connected to Muslim-idiom translation, Larry Chico of Wycliffe/SIL says the following: “there is only one Arabic translation being produced by insiders, Mazhar Mallouhi’s translation.” Chico, an SIL translation consultant, was an advisor on the True Meaning project and thus is familiar with the material. So Chico himself confirms an Arabic connection.

      You can read the entire context of Chico’s comment on pg. 11 of “Towards A Faithful Witness” at

      Further, the 2005 Bengali Injil Sharif, which translated “Son” as “Messiah”, was produced by an Insider Movement.

      The Turkish translation that translates “Father” as “guardian” is also connected to an agency that supports Insider Movements.

      So that’s three languages, and there are other connections.

    3. Mark says:

      Brian, you are obviously uninformed about the subject matter.

      1) All of the C5/Insider Movements/MIT Bible Translations are tied together in their philosophy, as well as with the Emergent Church. Brian McLaren would be proud. Follow the trail of papers, and citing, and influences and you will see that they all cite one another as you get deeper. Plain and simple it is post-modernism.

      2) Frontiers has raised funding for translations. They are more involved than just having some teams involved.

      3) it is easy to say “Much of the petition is inaccurate” and it’s another to prove it. We have had the petition up since January 4th, 2012. Many people have called it inaccurate, NO ONE has proven one iota false. We are very ethical people who run the petition and if anything is proven wrong, we will correct it, and make a note of it. Call us liars, then show us, or otherwise, do not slander those who step out to rebuke their brethren as this is biblical and helpful for the body.

      4) Highly trained? So the mark of a man’s worth in handeling the Word of God is training, and not biblical spiritual disciplines? Secondly, I find it interesting you say they consult believers, when many of these translations actually consulted Muslims. When I say many, I mean all of the ones I know of. Of course I can not speak to the ones I do not know. So the question is, why is a Muslim’s input more valid than the believers?

      Yes, let’s be godly. No one is tearing anyone apart, we are confronting unbiblical issues. The main Wycliffe/SIL staff of Rick Brown and Larry Cicarelli (a.k.a. Leith Grey, Larry Chico) need to to understand that they are being rebuked, and need to weigh that appropriately. This is not a linguistic issue, it is a theological and spiritual one.

  3. Brian says:

    P.S. – While I’ve spoken with Arabic and Turkish believers (former Muslims) who are opposed to he translations in question, I have also spoken to those who are supportive. Some prefer the existing translations, but see these new translations as accurate, appropriate, and helpful, while others believe strongly (as the opposition does about the existing translations) that these new translations are far superior.

    1. Mark says:

      Brian, I have spoken to many Turkish pastors and believers, and have not found one in favor. Funny, Frontiers say they found some too. Who???

      The chairman of the Turkish Evangelical Churches says:

      “The Turkish church has been aware of these efforts from the start, have had meetings with those involved, even set up a group to look at the translation as it went ahead, ie we are aware of it. However, this does not mean we support it. As far as I know almost all of us are not happy with compromises in some words (eg Son, baptism and a few others). We are glad that at least they printed as ‘Meal’ (ie A Meaning/ An Interpretation) and they put the literal translation on one side. We don’t believe such a translation will be useful and believe it will cause much more problems than benefits. “

    2. Matt says:

      I have found in the Indonesian context that the believers who are supportive of MIT and the insider movement have no theological education and were taught these things by Western missionaries. However, the believers who do have some theological education seemed to be repulsed by MIT and the insider movement. I find it interesting that the education and experience of Western Bible translators is used to validate the decisions they’ve made to support Muslim idioms in translation, but the indigenous folks who have similar educational background and experience are not being heard while their uneducated countrymen are given credibility. This doesn’t seem very logical.

  4. Brian,

    1. I am a former Muslim who has followed this debate. You don’t seem to know a lot about insider movements. Of course insiders had a great influence on these translations. Mazhar Mallouhi calls himself an insider. He translated True Meaning, the Arabic translation in this controversy. He is a self-proclaimed Sufi Muslim Follower of Jesus. Please do an Internet search and read his articles for yourself.
    2. Mallouhi’s translation substitute Allah for “Father” and Messiah for “Son.” You cannot call this translation the Gospel.
    3. I talked with US director for Frontiers Mr. Bob Blincoe when I did my second Yahoo! News article. He defended the Turkish-Greek interlinear as Frontiers translation. He also admitted it to Emily Belz of World Magazine a week later it was a Frontiers’ translation. So, there goes your argument. Wycliffe/SIL have said it on numerous occasions Frontiers sponsored this translation. You have two words against yours: Mr. Blincoe’s and Wycliffe/SIL’s.
    4. I have picked up the phone and talked to both Wycliffe/SIL and Frontiers. Frontiers answers questions but Wycliffe and SIL refer you to a Call Center specifically set up to deal with this controversy and you are not going to get an answer. Please call Wycliffe 8009925433 and ask some questions.
    5. As of late Friday evening, Wycliffe has admitted it removed “Father” from the Trinity. It has yet to admit it removed “Son” as well. Please read the Wycliffe’s FAQ to this controversy and find out for yourself.
    6. Native speakers who are concerned about these mistranslations have spoken up. If you represent Frontiers, your leadership has dismissed Turkish pastors who have voiced their concerns. Please go to the petition section. It has comments from native speakers.
    7. I understand errors can be made in translations but removing “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God,” terms which are the heart of our Christian beliefs, terms which are also offensive to Muslims—followers of a religion antithetical to Christianity—is unacceptable. Without these terms, no Bible translation is a Bible. Please stop making excuses and join the cause to defend God’s Infallible Word.

  5. David Harriman says:

    Brian, kindly allow me to reply to you directly, concerning one aspect of the translation tragedy with which I am intimately familiar.

    First: The petition organizers have provided a detailed Fact Check document addressing Wycliffe’s initial denials:

    Second: Wycliffe’s responses since then have been a moving target. For example, Wycliffe’s current FAQ concerning the Arabic Gospels and Acts (a/k/a True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, as noted above) states as follows:

    “Wycliffe USA did not sponsor the project titled The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, which in the first edition used the equivalent of “God” in certain places for the term “the Father.” One Wycliffe USA member, seconded to SIL International, served as a consultant on this project, which was organized and led by Al-Kalima.

    “Based on user feedback and discussion, the local translation committee made the decision to revise the first edition and include the traditional divine familial terms at the recommendation of the SIL consultant. Since Wycliffe USA does not sponsor this project, but only serves in consultation, we do not control its publication, distribution, or revision; nor do we control the content of or other websites where the first edition may still be available. Al-Kalima has a page answering questions about this translation at their website.”

    This makes it sound as if the replacement of “Father” in True Meaning was selective and limited. It was not. It was wholesale. In some cases, God (Allah) was used; in other cases, guardian/protector (Wali) was used; in still others, Lord (Rabbuna) was used. Again, all instances of replacement can be seen here:

    Moreover, consider the following:

    1. What Wycliffe describes as a “first edition” in their February 24, 2012 FAQ has been available in hardbound form, with an ISBN number, for the past three years. It is currently available on both the Al Kalima website ( and on Amazon UK (

    2. Wycliffe continues to promote the first edition available in hardbound form through a “resources” link on their Sabeel Media website ( to the Al Kalima website, still active on Monday, February 27. In fact, the link to Al Kalima is described “recommended reading.” Wycliffe is therefore *recommending* the original first edition.

    3. While the Wycliffe FAQ states that “the local translation committee made the decision to revise the first edition and include the traditional divine familial terms at the recommendation of the SIL consultant” the consultant himself (“Leith Gray”) makes no such claim in his January 10, 2012, defense of the True Meaning translation. Rather, he defends his original reasoning, outlined publicly and in detail in his November/December 2008 Mission Frontiers article, for the replacement of “Father” with “walî” (guardian/protector). (Link to this article posted above.)

    4. If what Wycliffe states is true, then why did “Leith Gray” not say something about this in his January 10, 2012 defense of the translation? Rather, Gray is defending the original terms, used in the first edition, more than 3 years later.

    Moreover, consider that Frontiers itself is defending these changes to the language of scripture.

    David Harriman

  6. John Span says:

    Dear Brother Anyabwile:
    Thank you so much for posting this. I was reading the rich verse of Luke 10: 22 where Jesus said:
    “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
    Then I read the back translation of the same verse in “The True Meaning” which some have referred to above.

    “My Lord has entrusted everything to me, and no one knows my truth except he, and no one knows the truth of God except I and the people to whom I want to reveal that.”

    That verse could well apply to Jesus or Muhammad, as you well know. Guess who helped with this translation?

    …and then there is talk about translators knowing culture and language? They sure don’t seem to know that a Muslim could read this verse as it is presented as someone on par with Muhammad.

    Blessings and thank you once again.

  7. John Wilkinson says:

    Wow. I am disappointed in you Thabiti. I enjoy your blogs, but to see you promote a petition that has erroneous information demonstrates your lack of discernment. You should go back and check the facts on the petition. Half of the things they reported of those three organizations are lies, probably to rally people to sign it. I am disappointed in The Gospel Coalition allowing this type of promotion as well. For years I have trusted TGC to report and inform people in a way that is higher in character than your average he-said she-said blog.

    Again, very disappointed.

    1. Mark says:

      John Wilkinson, may God forgive you, that is slander.

      The Fact Sheet provided ample evidence NONE of which Wycliffe has disproved. We have had the petition up since January 4th, 2012. Many people have called it inaccurate, NO ONE has proven one iota false. We are very ethical people who run the petition and if anything is proven wrong, we will correct it, and make a note of it. Call us liars, then show us, or otherwise, do not slander those who step out to rebuke their brethren as this is biblical and helpful for the body.

      1. Joseph says:

        Are you serious man? You respond to John with, “may God forgive you, that is slander” because somebody says they are disappointed in a blog post? You’ve got to be kidding bro. You need to go read Webster’s and look up the meaning of words like “slander”. While you’re at it, go grab a systematic theology textbook and look up words like “heretic”. You’ll find that you are using these words in the wrong way and scaring a lot of other Christians into thinking you just might be right.

        1. Mark says:

          Thanks Joseph for the reply.

          The slander is that we are being called ‘liars’, without anyone providing any evidence otherwise. Certainly the post can be critiqued. My issue is call the petition writers (I am one of them) liars, even more so doing so without providing as much as a detailed research and evidence that we have. The petition wasn’t made in a day, but over years of frustration and yes, dialoge with the parties involved. The petition was only decided to be undertaken once many promises were made, only not to be kept.

          As in heretic, I don’t believe I used the term in this post, but I think it is very applicable to those who change the Word of God to fit the culture’s religio-social structures rather than having faith in the Spirit to transform their world into God’s world. The translators in question again and again have said that the son-father relationship is purely metaphorical, and can be better explained using other phrases and words. This is not what any Systematic Theology I have read says. God is the Father, God is the Son. God is the Holy Spirit. These are not metaphors, but very real descriptions of the mystery of the Triune God we follow and worship. To say Jesus is not a son, and that God is not a father is to go against the precisely chosen Words of God. Secondly, if God is indeed omniscience, omnipotent, and omnisapient, then God certainly knew Muslims would come around someday, and knew that the Father-Son aspect of His Triune nature would offend them and be a stumbling block. God is not ignorant of such things.

          Christians should not be scared, but they should be aware and outraged against the changing of the Word of God, under the guise of evangelism. Every cult started had innovation and a special revelation that they believed came from God. Linguists, and Sociologists have no such special revelation, nor any authority or special wisdom to do what they are doing.

    2. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear John,

      Thank you for reading the blog, friend, and supporting/using the work of TGC in general. I’m sorry this post disappoints you. I truly am.

      But please don’t attribute that to TGC. All the bloggers blog independently and TGC does not approve or govern the content in any way. So, at least in my case, please attribute any blame to me, not TGC. I’m responsible for the posts and would be the source of your disappointment.

      I’ve also heard directly from a couple people who have similar misgivings to your own and are pretty familiar with these developments. They share a similar perspective it seems to me. I’ve asked at least one of the writers if they’d be willing to do a guest post to “give the other side,” so to speak. I’m planning to ask a second. To date, no one has agreed to do so–even anonymously (understanding that some of these folks are in sensitive positions or contexts).

      I say all that to simply say: I’m happy for a balanced debate and view. I’m happy for someone to contribute along those lines. But at this point, I’m concerned that the translations do more harm than good. Judging from things, I’m not alone. Surely it’s appropriate to express such concern?

      Again, I’m thankful for your reading the blog and engaging with the comment. You’re welcome to disagree here and express yourself as the Lord leads you.

      Grace and peace,

      1. John Wilkinson says:

        Thank you for your feedback, Thabiti. I have very high respect for “blogging” on TGC, and hold it to a higher standard than other blogs. I did not find you linking that petition as a quality report on this issue. I am learning it is much more complex and is need much more careful dialogue. I read something recently on Wycliffe’s site that they are have some kind of external board govern their future translation standards? See below:

        “Wycliffe USA and SIL have agreed to submit to a review of these specific Bible translation practices. Both organizations will participate in this conversation, but neither will control it. The formal review will be led by respected theologians, biblical scholars, translators, linguists, and missiologists from the global Church. We expect this review to produce a report that will guide future Wycliffe USA and SIL translation efforts.”

        I hope the same happens for Frontiers and kudos for Wycliffe carefully moving forward in the right direction. I hope and pray Wycliffe adjusts their translation standards out of this and am praying for Godly, educated leadership with this “external board.”

        Thank you for your response. Again, it wasn’t that I disagree with your position necessarily, just the way you are expressing your convictions and feeding us information.

        Blessings to you.

        1. Salaam Corniche says:

          To Mr. John Wilkinson:
          I am glad that you set the record straight with regards to your communication with Brother Anyabwile. Scripture would cause us to confront our older and wiser brothers with respect.
          As to your optimism with regards to an external examination team, I share it to a point. Any recommendation that does not have executive power behind it, can be just good words. What do I mean? If they find, for instance that LC–see the previous post, has been found guilty of Islamizing the Scriptures, then a recommendation to ask him to stop is not good enough. The committee would need to have the powers of binding arbitration to hire and fire as it would, otherwise it could all be window dressing. That would indicate sincere commitment on the part of Wycliffe/SIL.

  8. jonesy says:

    Brian et. al. who say the petion is not presenting accurate information:

    I too have wondered whether or not the petition is accurate. However, when I went to the website Thabiti links to, I noticed that some Wycliffe/SIL members have left comments saying that the concerns raised in the petition are true and these abuses have been going on for some time.

    Thabiti, if you can get Ken Wienecke or Steve Parker (two Wycliffe/SIL people who signed the petition) to comment regarding what they’ve seen, then I think you will be able to put this issue to rest.

    Steve works at SIL’s GIAL center in Dallas and I believe Ken works at Wycliffe’s JAARS center in Waxhaw, NC.

  9. David Harriman says:

    Dear John (Wilkinson),

    Thanks for your reply above to Thabiti, and for continuing to check into the Muslim-idiom translation matter with Wycliffe, SIL, and Frontiers.

    I am sure by now you have seen John Piper’s piece in World, “John’s Solution” ( as well as the earlier World piece by Emily Belz concerning Frontiers’ Turkish translation of Matthew, titled “The battle for accurate Bible translation in Asia” (

    Needless to say, John Piper’s piece is tacit acknowledgement that the problem exists; Emily Belz’ article probes the problems with one of these translations in detail.

    If you have read the earlier comments to this post, you know that I am the former director of development/director of advancement for Frontiers, and was involved in raising funds for one of these translations, the Arabic Gospels and Acts, also known as “True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ.”

    Tragically, Frontiers continues to defend this translation in which all instances of Father are replaced, generally with guardian/protector (wali), God (Allah), or Lord (rabb). Frontiers defends its orthodoxy by appeal to the companion commentary notes. This is problematic, as the commentary states the following in relation to “Son of God”:

    “This expression is used frequently in the Noble Injeel, and in the Greek text it is literally “the Son of God,” but it absolutely does not indicate procreation; God forbid! The use of the term “son” in this title was metaphorical, being derived from the fact that when a king appointed a successor or viceroy, he would call him his son, whether or not there was any blood tie involved.”

    Needless to say, Christ’s Sonship is not metaphorical – He is ontologically the Son of God.

    One other important note: Wycliffe’s FAQ updated 2/24 states, “Based on user feedback and discussion, the local translation committee made the decision to revise the first edition and include the traditional divine familial terms at the recommendation of the SIL consultant.”

    The evidence suggests otherwise. As noted in my post above, the SIL advisor (“Leith Gray”) continues to defend the original replacement of Father with wali (guardian/protector). In fact, Frontiers has used his statement in defense of the translation. Moreover, in an email message dated January 8, 2010, Sabeel Media director (and Wycliffe Vernacular Media Specialist) Steven Coats asserted to Assemblies of God minister Adam Simnowitz that the use of “Son of God” in the text of True Meaning was against the recommendations of Wycliffe consultants. Coats wrote, “…the committee decided to use “Ibin Allah” against our recommendations, but then decided to add in a qualifying/explanation statement in the text, not a footnote!” This is in fact what was done. Coats is therefore stating that—contrary to the assertion of the Wycliffe FAQ document—that Wycliffe consultants recommended against the inclusion of divine familial terms.

    For some 15 years or more, I worked with the Arab gentleman responsible for True Meaning on at least four original literature projects. He and I made scores of presentations in California, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Never once in 15 years did I ever see him blanch at the terms Father, Son, or Son of God. Never once. My guess – and it is only a guess – is that his Western committee members, including Leith Gray of Wycliffe, prevailed upon him to make these changes. This gentleman is still ultimately responsible, but I sincerely doubt that the impetus for these changes came from him.

    I hope this is helpful to you.

    David Harriman

  10. David Harriman says:

    Thabiti, I posted a message last night but note that it has not been moderated. Would you kindly moderate or let me know if there was a problem? Many thanks.

  11. JRD says:

    I would recommend that all of you who are considering signing this petition consider a number of things before signing it.

    a) Is this the way that believers should address issues between one another? How does this fit with Matthew 6 and Matthew 18?

    b) A number of those who have initiated this petition have refused to continue communication with those that they have complaints against. They have also blocked the ability of the people accused in making any kind of response to those that sign the petition.

    c) How convinced are you that they petitioners are giving you all of the information needed?

    Son of God…yes

    This petition and the spirit behind it…NO NO NO NO NO

  12. Mark says:

    It seems you are rather uninformed. Let me help you out.

    a) This is not a Matthew 18 issue. This is an issue of false doctrine and teaching, not an issue of personal sin between a believer and another. An article that discusses the difference can be found here:

    b) I helped create the petition, no such thing as ‘blocking’ people has occurred. We are very much in communication with others and the organizations that are being dealt with. We have blocked no one. We cannot give out access to the petition names because that is the legal agreement with the petition site. All recipients of the petition listed on the petition received an email from the signer, so they have all of their names. That is the nature of the petition. In fact, I know that they have been emailed at least by Frontiers with a rebuttal. They can certainly do this.

    c) We work very hard to give all relevant, factual information. I believe you can see the results by how Wycliffe has reacted and eventually having their processes evaluated and admitting to some wrong doing. The proof is in the pudding. We shall see.

    I encourage you to read the articles on Biblical Missiology and the petition which address many of your issues. We also have a FAQ here:

    I hope these answer your questions.


    1. JRD says:

      Ah, Mark. I supposed that you would chime in and say that I was uninformed. I think you would be surprised how informed I am regarding the inside of this petition and the accompanying “Bridging the Divide” attempts.

      I am glad that you have let yourself off the hook of addressing believers with respect and care and “as far as it depends on you”. I am not sure that you will find the same charity with the author.

      Your war upon “those people” is misguided, and you and your cohorts have taken a number of alarming steps that have set a new precedent for security betrayal in cross cultural work. I believe that this will be your main heritage after a decades time. You have publicly matched the names and pseudonyms of a number of people who regularly travel to dangerous places. I sincerely hope that there are no repercussion to that for your sake.

      Frontiers was able to respond to the first 3000 or so petitioners, attempting to address concerns. Once someone found out that responses were being made, the identities of the petitioners was hidden to prevent responses and two way communication. You may say that there is capacity for response, but that is not true. Only the first 3000 or so have been responded to before this was prevented.

      You have not addressed any of my questions. You have only reinforced my sense of the kind of people that are behind this petition. Your vendetta will bear its fruit, and I don’t think you will be pleased with it.

  13. Mark says:


    I’m not sure what ‘inside’ information you have that I don’t have since I am one of the administrators of the petition. But honestly, either you are calling me a liar, or you are mis-informed. This isn’t meant to be an insult, but I have no other way to explain it. We have not blocked any names.

    This is how the petition works. A person signs the petition and ‘Change.Org’ sends an email out to all the recipients listed in the petition “To” field on behalf of that person. There is no hidden information, nor any way to hide that information from our side. All they need to do is look in their mailbox and extract all the sender’s names and emails. I am assuming this is what Frontiers did. Why this would work only for the first 3,000 I have no idea. We did nothing on our side, nor changed any settings to stop them from doing that. That’s the honest truth. In fact, there is no setting that could even do that.

    The only thing we did change was outside the system dealing with the map. ( ) The map only shows people who made comments that are public domain. It was showing where people were who were in sensitive countries. So we obscured that a little bit by adjusting names and not having the pins dropped on their house but just in the city. But that has nothing to do with what Frontiers would be emailed.

    As for pseudonyms, for protective reasons we have discussed this quite a lot. We have been very careful not to expose pseudonyms and the real persons names. Unless A) It has been exposed elsewhere NOT BY US or B) it is simply a pen name having nothing to do with security, and I can’t even think of an example of this. There was a question as to some of the recipients names whether or not we should have their full name, and we were asked by Frontiers to remove them. Understanding the intent was to protect for security reasons, we just gave the last initial of their names instead of the full last name. This dealt with the officers and board members of Frontiers. Let it be clear, the board members and officers of Non-profit organizations are public domain. Anyone can call Frontiers up and ask for their board members and by law Frontiers must comply. Osama Bin Laden could easily do the same had he ever wanted Frontier’s leadership names. We have not released any information name-wise that isn’t public domain. But even then, we complied to an email from Bob Blincoe to have only the last initial.

    Also, surrounding security, and in my personal opinion and NOT Biblical Missiology’s opinion, those who are spreading and practicing false teachings have no right to hide behind fake names. This “Good ‘Ol Boy’s Club” you think exists and has some unwritten rules in missions has protected unfruitful even rotten practices, and kept accountability from wayward preachers who need to come under church authority. An honest man has no need to fake names. Yes, even some within Biblical Missiology use pseudonyms. If he has a clear and clean consciences before the Lord, then he ought to be bold and faithful and trust in God to protect him, not a fake name. May God help any missionary who puts his security in deception rather than in the hand of God. If you are so worried about being hurt, killed, persecuted, kicked out of country, or others being impacted, then you have little faith in God, and more faith in cunning schemes. If those who have been exposed are worried for safety, maybe they should come back home to Arizona where the most dangerous things are sandstorms and sunburns. However, 1 Corinthians teaches me to have grace for my weaker brothers who have issues trusting in God, so I encourage them to try boldness and trusting the Lord in living, and dying.

    As for not answering your other questions, if I haven’t answered them, you haven’t articulated them well enough for me to answer them.

    May I end with a wonderful quote:

    Security is mostly a superstition . It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
    — Helen Keller

    1. JRD says:

      If it is true what you say, then the best thing that you could do is send the list of emails along to the appropriate people at the accused agencies (or at least follow up) so that this can be a dialogue and not an attack. It is not that I am calling you a liar. It is that we are comparing two things that are both true. I believe you that you have not changed settings. Please believe me that something happened somewhere along the way that recourse has disappeared.

      Pseudonyms are not a faith lacking game of trickery, as you suppose. For many, in order to do the ministry of writing and talking about these thing AND live in sensitive areas to do the work of ministry. Also, there are many who are not field based who still travel regularly to these areas and do not want to make those decisions for others who they visit. It is just respect, not lack of faith.

      Osama is dead by the way. I got accused of being involved.

      I think where the rubber meets the road is that these field workers are mainly accountable to the churches that have commissioned them for work. You would do well to encourage these lines of actual accountability, and not establish recourse-free accountability situations with strangers on the internet. Any field worker MUST give an answer to their supporters regarding the work they do. Most churches don’t care, and that is much of the problem. It is the reason that much passes for over-contextualization AND frittering 20 year away logging only 5 hours a week actually talking to Muslim people.

      The main issue with the petition is that it sets up a recourse free attack and counter attack format to the discussion that actually takes us away from making any progress. Certainly IM people will not respond or share actual information. The reason is simple. You are on the attack and do not have their best in mind. The best course now is for both sides to submit to a third party mediation format that will keep all accountable and protect all from slander. Internet petitions and blogs do not do that.

      A zeal for truth is not enough to meet the bar of Jesus. It is enough to meet the bar of internet discussions. I do not hear love in your voice. I hear and see the manoeuvrings that remind me very much of what we commemorate this week. The Pharisees zeal for truth caused them to think that the ends justify the means.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

Thabiti Anyabwile's Books