Wycliffe Bible Translators

Wycliffe Bible Translators

Wycliffe Bible Translators

Wycliffe Bible Translators

Wycliffe Bible TranslatorsWycliffe Bible Translators was founded in 1942 by William Cameron Townsend, who named it after John Wycliffe, the Englishman who translated the Bible from Latin Vulgate into English in the 14th century. Wycliffe Bible Translators' mission is to translate the Bible into all languages that do not yet have the Bible.

Wycliffe Bible Translators was one global entity until 1991, when it decentralized into an association, named "Wycliffe International," of independent national organizations. It reorganized again in 2011 as "Wycliffe Global Alliance" but remains known to most as Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Wycliffe USA remains by far the largest national organization.

Today, Wycliffe Global Alliance / Wycliffe Bible Translators trains Bible translators through SIL International (formerly  Summer Institute of Linguistics), sends Bible translating missionaries, supports people doing Bible translations into their own languages through The Seed Company (a subsidiary of Wycliffe USA), operates aviation service through JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service), and provides humanitarian aid.


Wycliffe Bible Translators is big, with over 7,000 teachers, professional translators, aviators, humanitarian aid workers. It is the world's largest trainer of professional Bible translators, while Wycliffe USA is the third highest-funded religious charity in America (source: Forbes magazine) with 2017 revenues of $193 million.


1.  Pro-Muslim

To make the Bible friendly to Muslims, who deny the Trinity, Wycliffe Bible Translators' SIL translation projects aimed at Muslims are removing references to God the Father as "Father," and to Jesus as the "Son" or the "Son of God." God the Father is being translated as "Allah," "Guardian" or "Great Protector," while "Son of God" is translated as "Representative of God," "Beloved one from God" or "Messiah of God," which aligns with the Quran’s "Isa al-Masih" ("Jesus the Messiah").

For example, Matthew 28:19's "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" has been translated as, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, cleansing them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit."*

"Allah" is the pagan moon idol of ancient Mecca, the Muslim "Messiah" is a human prophet inferior to Muhammad, and what cleanses us of our sins isn't "water" but the blood of Jesus, who is God the "Son."

These blasphemous translations are producing false converts who boost statistics and provide glowing "success stories" that stimulate fundraising in America but are in fact immunizing them against the True Gospel. According to the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention on missions and evangelism among Muslims (see International Mission Board), there are tens of thousands of "Isa al-Masih jamaats," or "Jesus the Messiah congregations" in northern Africa whose members call themselves Muslims, don't believe in the Trinity, and believe Muhammad is a prophet of God.***

*** http://www.teachingtheword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=78433&blogid=5450


2.  Pro-Vatican

John Wycliffe was vehemently anti-Vatican but the organization Cameron Townsend named after him is unabashedly pro-Vatican. Wycliffe Bible Translators trains Roman Catholic translators, who then compete against Protestant translators and missionaries in the field, and even flies them around for free:

"I believe in working with anyone who will help get the Bible to the Indians. ... One of the heroes whom I admire the most is the celebrated Father Bartolome de las Casas. This worthy Dominican, as all well remember, made use of the Sacred History in the Indian languages of Guatemala in order to draw the Indians to the faith and to peace." - Cameron Townsend, Eternity Magazine, November 1971.

"One of our airplanes spent three days carrying various persons to the dedication of the new church of the Dominican Mission El Rosario [of the Rosary]. Among the distinguished passengers were two Catholic priests and a bishop. No charge was made for the transportation of these missionaries. It is an honor to serve them." - Cameron Townsend as quoted in a Peruvian newspaper article in Lima, Peru.

3.  Top Heavy

The gentleman below was featured in Wycliffe USA's 2014 Annual Report. Praise indeed for all he's done in 2014. The Bible says, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1 Timothy 5:18)

Wycliffe Bible Translators

So what were his wages in 2014?

Wycliffe USA did not disclose that, but it did disclose the wages of its leaders for 2013 and 2014, which indicated that Wycliffe USA's top six leaders paid themselves about $1 million per year collectively and raised their salaries in 2014 by an average of about $20,000:

Leader Title 2013* 2014** Raise
Paul Edwards
Leslie Kline
Kenneth Pratt
John Krehely
Robert Creson
Jennifer Holloran
Sn. Consultant to Pres.
Senior Resource Dev'l
VP of Marketing
Chief HR Officer
$  9,129
$  7,870
$  9,285
TOTAL   $917,956 $1,037,480 $119,524

The above salaries are not extravagant compared to those of corporate America or the leaders of many other religious charities in America today. But they raise the following questions:

  1. Would the gentleman above think these salaries are extravagant?
  2. How many more translators like him could have been fielded in 2014 for the million dollars that these six Americans collectively were paid in 2014?
  3. The Senior Consultant to President worked "40.0 hours"** per week and was paid about a quarter million dollars more than the President over the two year period. If this former employee had been re-hired to work the same number of hours as employee instead of as a consultant and earned only as much as the President, how many more translators like the gentleman above could Wycliffe USA have fielded?
  4. How do donors feel about the table above?
  5. How does Jesus feel about it?

* https://www.wycliffe.org/Resources/Financial/Form990/990_2013.pdf
** https://www.wycliffe.org/Resources/Financial/Form990/990-2014.pdf

4.  Inefficient

The typical Wycliffe Bible translator is a Westerner who goes to a distant land to first learn the local language, create a written form of it if it doesn't exist, and then translate the Bible into it. This typically takes 25 to 30 years and about $2,000,000 if the average annual cost to support the Western translator is $70,000. This is too long and costly, and if the Western translator dies or returns prematurely, someone else must be dispatched to restart the entire process.

Wycliffe USA owns The Seed Company, which trains and supports local translators. The Seed Company website (https://theseedcompany.org/) states, "Every $35 you give helps translate one verse of Scripture." Thirty-five dollars x 31,102 verses in the Bible equals about $1 million, and sequentially translating all 66 books of the Bible takes over a decade even for a local translator. While halving the time and the cost to translate the Bible is good, $1 million and over a decade is arguable still takes too much money and takes too long.

Is there a more efficient way?