If this is true, for the parties they are trying not to offend, anything short of Islam -- of professing that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger -- would be "offensive." This is not making Christianity more palatable. It is de-Christianizing it. It is manufacturing yet another Christian heresy.
Indeed, for many denominations, the validity of baptism depends on the words used: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." No euphemisms, no nicknames: for example, trial balloons aiming to portray a more gender-neutral God have already been burst: the use of "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" in baptism has been rejected by the Catholic Church, if not others.
Those who truly believe they are winning souls for Christ would not risk the validity of baptism, and those who are genuinely convinced that they possess the truth will not apologize or worry it is offensive.
As a technical matter, one wonders how the translators handle the words: "Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22). And "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:33).
One last bit of holy writ: "You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward." - James Thurber
"'Father' and 'Son' Ousted from the Trinity in New Bible Translations," by Hussein Hajj Wario for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, January 27 (thanks to CGW):
A controversy is brewing over three reputable Christian organizations, which are based in North America, whose efforts have ousted the words "Father" and "Son" from new Bibles. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers are under fire for "producing Bibles that remove "Father," "Son" and "Son of God" because these terms are offensive to Muslims." Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations' leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations "have failed to persuade these agencies to retain "Father" and "Son" in the text of all their translations."
Clearly, they fail to appreciate the far-reaching ramifications that Christians not only may dare, but are commanded to call on the Creator of the Universe as "Father." That fundamentally re-wires one's relationship with God and describes a unique intimacy and bond of love that ought not be squandered to score short-term points.
Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.
The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Here are three examples native speakers give:
First, Wycliffe and SIL have produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of "Lord" instead of "Father" and "Messiah" instead of "Son."
Second, Frontiers and SIL have produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ , an Arabic translation which removes "Father" in reference to God and replaces it with "Allah," and removes or redefines "Son." For example, the verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, "Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit" instead of "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Rev. Bassam Madany, an Arab American who runs Middle East Resources, terms these organization's efforts as "a western imperialistic attempt that's inspired by cultural anthropology, and not by biblical theology."
Third, Frontiers and SIL have produced a new Turkish translation of the Gospel of Matthew that uses Turkish equivalents of "guardian" for "Father" and "representative" or "proxy" for "Son." To Turkish church leader Rev. Fikret Böcek, "This translation is 'an all-American idea' with absolutely no respect for the 'sacredness' of Scripture, or even of the growing Turkish church."SIL has issued a public response stating "all personnel subscribe to a statement of faith which affirms the Trinity, Christ's deity, and the inspiration of Scripture." However, in the same statement, which is similar to Wycliffe's, it claims "word-for-word translation of these titles would communicate an incorrect meaning (i.e. that God had physical, sexual relationships with Mary) [sic]," thus justifying substituting "Father" and "Son" in new translations. Calls and emails to Wycliffe and SIL to clarify their positions were not returned. Frontiers responded to calls with articles that critics have already dismissed as skirting omissions of "Father" and "Son" in new Bible translations.
The point about sexual connotations is baloney. Many of these countries have, or once had indigenous Christian populations with scriptures in indigenous languages where this was not a problem. If they're coming up with something untoward, they need better translators.