Hello friends, readers, and commentators. I hope you are having a good day! I would like to get your help with something. I am trying to investigate a… really radical claim. And I think that we can investigate it together. This is of special interest to both atheists and Christians. So I think we can come together for right now and learn.
There’s a claim which appeared on an atheist group on Facebook I am a part of which is VERY RADICAL. It also at least has the immediate appearance of truth. The claim is that an Indigenous group in Venezuela, the Panare people, were approached by Christian missionaries in the early 1970s. This starts off pretty normal. The missionaries want them to convert, as missionaries typically do. But they ran into a linguistic snag. According to Tim Hartman, in an article on CrossCurrents, the Panare people had no words for concepts like sin, guilt, punishment, and redemption. Acting out of a desire to transmit the message of the Gospel to these people, a controversial decision was made by the missionaries who’d come from the United States to Venezuela so that they could be easier to convert: they’d (the “they” here are the missionaries, named Joe and Jana Price who were members of the New Tribes Mission) translate and edit the Gospel so that the Panare are the ones who in the text killed Jesus. I have every intention of sharing sources on this which seem to add weight to this claim. This is not a claim I made up, nor is it something which appears to be false.
Basic facts which appear to be true and have been made clear through sources which probably like the Price family: Joe and Jana Price are missionaries from the NTM. According to an article posted about them on NTM Homes under the “Missionary Stories” section of the site, they did in fact go to Venezuela, and they did live and work with Panare Indigenous peoples.
This is an EXTRAORDINARILY RADICAL claim and I understand that. I want to share this claim and see if we can prove it or disprove it together. I also want to hear what people think of this. I have sent a message to NTM and to an author about a web article about the Price family, and if I get a reply I’ll happily share it. I am not claiming that this is true, I am merely presenting what I have seen thus far. I would love to gain new information about this.
There’s a book out which supposedly talks about this as well. Here’s the Amazon link. It also mentions other interactions between Indigenous peoples and missionaries.
If you have an opinion about this, I’d love to hear it. Here are questions for people (particularly for Christians interested in this) to consider.
1: Does this qualify as lying to you (assuming it actually happened)?
2: If so, is lying worth it if it brings people to Christ?
3: Do you support this, or do you consider it wrong like many figures seemed to have thought like the article in Cross Currents seems to suggest?
4: Can someone be considered a “true Christian” if they resort to such methods?
5: In general, what do you think of this IF it turns out to be true?
Also, this is hardly the worst thing that Christians have done to get people to believe in Christ. But it is something that has happened in living memory of many of us, and something that gained very little traction (it might not have happened, but I can see no reason to doubt at least some of the basic parts of this), or notoriety. I’d love to chat with believers and nonbelievers alike about this. We should have a conversation about this! I’d love to know if you were aware of this claim, or if you know anything which can give us reason to believe or disbelieve in it. Let’s have a real conversation!