Translation Is Not an Option

Translation Is Not an Option

English is the most dominant global language ever. So why are we at Desiring God doing so much work to translate our resources into other tongues? Why not just spend the same amount of time, money, and effort teaching people to read our English resources rather than doing the hard (and sometimes messy) work of translation?

To answer this and other questions about translation, I've written an article titled "A Justification for Translation." It is mainly an attempt to distill the wisdom that scholars Andrew Walls and Lamin Sanneh have shared on the subject.

If you're pressed for time and just want the main idea, here's an outline:

  1. Translation is essential to the Christian faith because it is a central component of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    • Jesus' incarnation was an act of translation, and translation work is the means by which he will be incarnated into every language and culture.
    • Jesus came to common people in his incarnation, and translation into vernacular languages is the only way Jesus will reach common men, women and children today.
  2. Translation is essential to the Christian faith because it is God's appointed means for sustaining and maturing his people.
    • History shows us that for the church to survive and flourish it must be constantly moving from one culture to another, which requires translation.
    • As local churches cannot grow up into the fulness of Christ unless every part is present and contributing, so too the global Body of Christ will not reach maturity until every tribe, tongue and nation is contributing it's God-given, unique gifts.
  3. Application
    • We should care about and prioritize translation work, especially Bible translation.
    • We should translate John Piper’s (and others’) content, in addition to the Bible, because of how it helps people read and understand Scripture for themselves.

Read the entire article, "A Justification for Translation: Why Every Christian Should Care About Gospel Resources in Languages Beyond Their Own."

Tyler Kenney (@tylerkenney) is a former content strategist at Desiring God. He and his wife, Kristen, live in the Twin Cities.