PCA General Assembly Approves Recommendations Made by the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM)

Greg Strand – June 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The 40th PCA General Assembly passed the recommendations of the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM): “A Call to Faithful Witness: – Part One – Like Father, Like Son: Divine Familial Language in Bible Translation”: A Partial Report (Part One of Two Parts) Of the Ad Interim Committee on Insider Movements to the Fortieth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, May 14, 2012 (The complete 89 page Report.)

This builds on the decision approved by the General Assembly last year (cf. below “OVERTURE 9 – “A Call to Faithful Witness”), and the 2012 Study Committee Recommendation is Part 1, with Part 2 of the Report being brought to next year’s General Assembly.

As one noted, this “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.’”

The five recommendations can be read immediately below beginning in line 34. The key statement approved is the second recommendation (lines 36 [page 7]-2 [page 8]) regarding translations: “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.”  (Line numbers included as listed in the original Report.)

24  Study Committee Recommendations to the 2012 General Assembly
26           The ad interim SCIM has carried out the first stage of its duties, investigating divine
27  familial language and Bible translation. Stemming from the SCIM research, important points
28  of action surface. These actions concern agencies and workers engaged in Bible translation,
29  as well as the PCA churches that support the work of Bible translation. For the sake of the
30  gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the SCIM unanimously presents Part One
31 of its report, which follows, and presents the following five (5) recommendations to the 40th
32  General Assembly:
34           1. That “Part One – Like Father, Like Son: Divine Familial Language in Bible
35           Translation” serve as a Partial Report (Part One of Two Parts).
36           2. That the 40th General Assembly  declare that, since social familial terms fail to
37           capture the biblical meaning of “Son” (huios) and “Son of God” (huios tou theou) (page 7) 

1              applied to Jesus and “Father” (pater) applied to God, Bibles should always translate
2              divine familial terms using common biological terms.
3              3. That the 40th General Assembly make available and recommend for study “Part One
4              – Like Father, Like Son” to its presbyteries and sessions.
5              4. Pursuant to RAO 9-2, that the 40th General Assembly  grant an extension to the
6              SCIM for one year to allow for completion of its mandate and to provide Part Two of
7              its report on Insider Movements.
8              5. That the 40thGeneral Assembly  set the budget for the study committee at
9              $15,000/for its second year, and that funds be derived from gifts to the AC
10           designated for that purpose. (page 8)

OVERTURE 9 – “A Call to Faithful Witness”
3 Approved by the 39th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America
4  June 10, 2011
Whereas: the Church is called to take the gospel to all peoples, including those how have
7              historically been resistant to the gospel;
Whereas: contextualizing the language and forms of the gospel, while remaining faithful to
10           the truths of Scripture, is good and necessary for the advancement of the gospel;
12  Whereas: the Church must exercise wisdom in discerning appropriate expressions of
13           contextualization, reserving its public corrections for genuine and substantive threats
14           to the gospel;
16  Whereas: in recent initiatives known as “Insider Movements”, some groups have produced
17           Bible translations that have replaced references to Jesus as “Son” (huios) with terms
18           such as “Messiah” in order to be more acceptable to Muslims;
20  Whereas: some Bible translations of Insider Movements have replaced references to God as
21           “Father” (pater) with terms such as “Guardian” and “Lord”;
23  Whereas: these Bible translations are harmful to the doctrines of the authority of Scripture
24           and the deity of Christ, bringing confusion to people in need of Christ – concerns
25           that are held by many national leaders and Bible societies;
27  Whereas: some PCA churches have knowingly or unknowingly financially supported these
28           Bible translations;
30  Whereas: Muslims should not be denied a full and faithful witness;
32  Therefore be it resolved that the 39th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in
33           America:
35           • Affirms that biblical motivations of all those who seek the good news of Jesus Christ
36           with those who have never heard or responded to the gospel should be encouraged;
37           • Repents of complacency or comfort that keeps us from a faithful witness;
38           • Declares as unfaithful to God’s revealed Word, Insider Movement or any other
39           translations of the Bible that remove from the text references to God as “Father” (page 4)

1              (pater) or Jesus as “Son” (huios), because such removals compromise doctrines of
2              the Trinity, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Scripture;
3              • Encourages PCA congregations to assess whether the missionaries and agencies they
4              support use or promote Bible translations that remove familial language in reference
5              to persons of the Trinity, and if so, to pursue correction, and failing that, to withdraw
6              their support;
7              • Encourages PCA congregations to support biblically sound and appropriately
8               contextualized efforts to see Christ’s Church established among resistant peoples;
9              • Calls PCA churches and agencies to collaborate with each other and the broader
10           Church to discern and implement biblical authority in gospel contextualization.
11           • Authorizes the Moderator, as an aid to greater gospel faithfulness throughout the
12           PCA and the broader Church, to appoint a study committee to report to the 40th
13           General Assembly concerning Insider Movements, including but not limited to:
14                           o A summary and biblical assessment  of Insider Movements’ histories,
15                           philosophies, and practices;
16                           o A biblical response to interpretations of Scripture used in defense of Insider
17                           Movements;
18                           o An examination of the theological impact of removing familial language for
19                           the Trinity from Bible translations;
20                           o An assessment of PCA missions partners regarding the influence of Insider
21                           Movement within them, including assessment of their theology of religion,
22                           ecclesiology, Scripture, and relationship to the Emergent Church;
23                           o An explanation of the relevance and importance of this issue for the PCA;
24                           o Suggestions for identifying and assessing the influence of Insider Movements
25                           among mission agencies, missionaries and organizations;
26                           o Recommended resources for faithfully training and equipping congregations
27                           to reach Muslims locally and internationally.
28           • Set the budget for the study committee at $15,000/year and that funds be derived from gifts
29           to the AC designated for that purpose. (page 5)

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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