The term ‘Son of God’ should be retained, but not at the expense of comprehension, translating groups say.

Following criticism from many quarters and official rebuke from the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Wycliffe Bible Translators and its primary implementing partner, SIL International, issued new guidelines in August saying familial language for God should normally be maintained in the text of Bible translations.

SIL convened an August meeting in Istanbul for translators and consultants to set standards. They then released a best practices statement that reaffirms belief in the eternal deity of Jesus Christ and says, “Scripture translations should promote understanding of the term ‘Son of God’ in all its richness, including his filial relationship with the Father, while avoiding any possible implication of sexual activity by God.” Many Muslims balk at the Bible’s familial language, because the Qur’an teaches that God could not have a son. Yet critics have pushed back against some translations promoted by scholars connected to SIL that substituted “Christ” for “Son of God” in order to avoid turning off Muslim readers.

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