Friday, November 07, 2008

Tim Challies and Donald Whitney Accept New Age Richard Foster As One Who Helps Spiritually

We know of John Piper's compromise with Emergent leader Mark-filthy-mouth-pastor-Driscoll. As a result many Reformers are following Piper's lead and seem to like Driscoll and some of what the Emergent Church Movement offers. Now there's another Reformer doing the same thing.
I read with interest Ken Silva’s article on Spiritual Formation:
I would like to take a slightly different emphasis than Ken Silva.
Quote:

But things like Lectio Divina cannot be made “safe” because they didn’t originate with Protestants; we don’t get to then redefine these practices of apostate Roman Catholicism. Yet this is exactly what is causing such a huge problem in the Body of Christ right now as men like Donald Whitney mean well while they labor to make it appear as if some of these monastic practices were ever part of what Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) so often called “the historic orthodox Christian faith” to begin with. As further illustration of what I mean we take the following from well-respected Reformed blogger Tim Challies.

This comes from Challies’ review of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life:

And so this book is an examination of spiritual disciplines -
disciplines provided by God which are designed to help us grow in godliness,
allowing us to become more and more conformed to the image of Christ. The
disciplines Whitney writes about are:

* Bible intake* Prayer* Worship* Evangelism* Serving*
Stewardship* Fasting* Silence and solitude* Journalling* Learning

The book is prefaced with an examination of the reason for
disciplining ourselves in the spiritual disciplines and Whitney teaches here
that we are to do all things for God’s glory. Because God requires each of these
disciplines of us, there is danger in neglecting any of them. (Online source, emphasis
mine)

Can anyone point to a specific list of these spiritual disciplines within the Bible; no. And “God requires” e.g. journaling in Scripture; where? We could now just as easily ask: Who made Donald Whitney a law-giver; we’re not to let any man act as our judge. So suppose I say to Whitney: “Go jump in the lake—I refuse to practice the existential and highly subjective practice of journaling and you have no authority to command me to do so or then suggest that I’m not properly ‘disciplined’ if I don’t.” Can you see how this actually ends up a transgression of Sola Scriptura; and worse, may even take us back to what DeWaay is talking about above.

UnQuote.


I read Challies’ full review. My response is to what he publically wrote.
In part he says:
While the vast majority of sources cited in this book are from Puritan and other Reformed authors, there were several references to Richard Foster. I questioned Whitney about this and he replied as follows: "...since it was not an academic book, I didn't want the emphasis to be critical (in the academic sense), but rather simply to set forth in practical ways what I thought the Biblical teaching on the subjects to be, and to find good supportive quotations. Occasionally it served my purposes to quote Foster. But I never tried to sound as approvingly of him when I quoted him as I did with most other writers. For instance, I never said something like, 'As the GREAT Richard Foster said,'...it was before Foster had started Renovare and before he had tipped his hand on some other matters." He also referred me to a couple of article he has written which show his thoughts on Christian mysticism (link and link 2). Lest I make a mountain of a molehill, I was completely satisfied with Whitney's answer and in no way do I feel that his references to Foster's work detracts from the powerful message in Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life. I merely did not wish to have people see the references to Foster in the bibliography and be scared away from a wonderful book.
Whiteny didn't want to criticize Foster merely on academics? Truth is not academic. This is about spiritual issues. How can he resign New Age quaker mysticism to mere "academics"? That's a sure sign of lacking wisdom and discernment with spiritual things and certainly considers New Age mysticism to be optional and not needed to be dealt with.
That which is from error cannot lead people in Truth. This is the other problem.
References to Foster SHOULD cause all Christians to run. He is a false teacher steeped in New Age garbage. Yet it appears that Challies and Whitney find something positive from Foster in regard to spiritual matters. Scripture says there is to be separation in 2 Cor. 6:14-17.
It really seems that Reformers are are man-centered.

Richard Foster has never been a Christian, before or after coming out with Renovare. Foster is a Quaker, and Quakers deny biblical doctrine such as all men are enemies of God and dead in their sins and trespasses. Instead, Quakerism claims the New Age philosophy that all men have “a spark of divinity” in them and men are neutral toward good and evil. They do not believe in the authority of pastors/elders. Foster was out of Christianity decades ago, but Challies ignores that (he was concerned with references to Foster, so he does know of something of his error). In fact it seems that these men think they can take from what is evil and pick out the “good” and be satisfied. Its rather reminecent of how many Reformers view the RCC: its now apostate, but it once had truth and was a true church, therefore we can use its history and church fathers and councils and confessions as our own. Scripture's test proves the RCC to be a false church from the beginning. An apostate was never HIS (1John 2:19). God calls for doctrinal purity as well as personal purity. Why don't people, particularly Reformers see this? Why are they so willing to compromise?

As time marches on, I continue to see Reformers embrace all kinds of doctrine, including Emergent Church movement junk. I believe it's because they think in terms of philosophy and not biblical truth; they rely on intellect (which some apparently think, was not infested with sin at the Fall, thus they appeal to the fallen mind to reveal Truth to the God-haters), not spiritual wisdom and understanding. They often accept part of Romanism (its infant sprinkling or a variation on the bread and wine or the magisterium, its history, its councils,), thus its far easier for them to accept other error as well.
God calls for separation from error and those in error. We cannot be sanctified with things outside of infallible truth. Error does not bring us truth.

1Jo 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because NO LIE IS OF THE TRUTH.

1Co 13:6 it [agape] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

John 17: 17 SANCTIFY THEM IN THE TRUTH; Your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

Tit 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Rom 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

Jud 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Richard Foster has always been heretical. He was never of Christ. The blindness and total tolerance of a little heresy and a little sin by the likes of Challies and Whitney are inexcusable. They both know Foster is in error, but I suppose as long as he serves their purpose and they think they can pull out the poison from the water, they will do so. They will do so, however to their own peril and those who look to them for advice or wisdom.
It seems to me that Reformers find more inspiration in books of men rather than Scripture. Its as if they find Scripture to be mere milk, but theologians or scholars offer REAL MEAT. This is pure Roman Catholic magisterium thinking. It certainly is not biblical thinking. When an author offers a false teacher as a good example of something spiritually right, its time to dump the author. God calls for purity of doctrine:
1Tim. 1: 3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine
2Tim. 4: . 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Titus 2: You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

It seems those who offer poisoned books are violating clear Scripture, and in doing so, are helping to confuse and mislead the sheep of Christ.
As Spurgeon right said one time, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” Those who taught things "almost right" are described in Jude and Galatians. Its time we love Truth more than some author or blogger or pastor who gives us some experience or good feeling. Our spiritual lives depend upon it and we will answer to Christ Jesus.

24 comments:

Ken Silva said...

Denise,

I like your "different emphasis." This issue really needs to vcome to the forefront.

Thank you for picking this up.

Vicki said...

I'll finish reading when I have time to do so without being in a hurry, but let me say quickly I've not (thus far) found anything wrong with Whitney or Challies' writings. I agree with you hands down about Foster, though.

As to Driscoll, the guy is changing and demonstrates a sensitivity to the Lord's leading. Piper has dealt with him about the language and so much more, speaking to his brother in grace, and I've read that Driscoll has disassociated with Emergents. That's why he hangs with Piper. Am I wrong?

My other thought is that it might not be fair to generalize about "all Reformers," or all emergents, or any group of people. I've done that before and it came back to bite me. Which humbled me.

Keep declaring truth; this is in no way a personal criticism. I'm learning not to associate myself or my writings with *any* particular group, faith tradition,or even authors, other than to say I'm protestant and Christ is my life. What I'm running into is more legalism than anything, and of course, those who would embrace strange doctrine. May we keep putting the truth out there, but always with grace.

God bless you.

Vicki

PS--I still need to come back and read the links you provided - thanks.

rosina said...

Thank you very much for posting this. I had read Challies' review of that book by Whitney a few weeks ago. I was trying to determine if Whitney was into contemplative spirituality. I had seen his name on a suggested reading list at Mark Driscoll's Acts29 website. I read portions of the book on line and I was not comfortable with it at all even though Challies gave it a good review. Guess I CAN trust my own ability to discern after all. Even though Challies was not bothered by his mention of Foster, it did not sit right with me and the listing of the various disciplines felt like legalism--things I have to do for God to accept me. Whitney is one I will steer clear of and I am disappointed in Challies for recommending his book.

Phil Perkins said...

Denise,
We meet again. Great article. About a year or year and a half ago, Challies did a puff piece on an audio version of the TNIV. When I pointed out that the TNIV was gender-altered, he responded with total anger. I was stupid. I was a bigot... you know the routine.

Then a few days later, I say that Challies' blog was on the blogroll at Pyromaniacs. I gave Phil Johnson a heads-up on Challies. Again, I was stupid, mean, and the usual routine.

It is not surprising, then, that later we see Challies going further in his sin. You're right. He was never of us.

You are exactly right--a little leaven means we should have nothing to do with them.

Pray for me. I am writing a book on the "Twenty-three Great
Sins of American Evangelicalism". One of the great sins is a lack of separation from false-teachers. No holiness.

Question: Who do you mean by the "Reformers"? What group is that?

Also, your point about valuing books over the Scripture is right. As an ex-Bible school teacher, I can tell you right now, going to Bible college means a student will be studying the Bible very little, but lots of other books are required. That's why pastors know so little. It's also why pastors value the Scripture so little. Ask a pastor to get rid of all his library except Bibles, and Bible study aids. He'll think you're crazy. Yet, he'll swear up and down that he believes in the sufficiency of Scripture.

We no longer believe in the Scripture. We need all sorts of other stuff, denying what the Scripture says about itself.

May I add your new sight to my blogroll?

In Christ,
Phil Perkins. PS--I didn't know about Whitney--thanks for the heads up.

Phil Perkins said...

Here's another thought:

If we once again practiced the sufficiency of Scripture, then we wouldn't have the problem of authers like Foster, Clinebell, and Whitney.

Instead of semester going through a book like Foster's, what if we had Bible school student spend the semester going once more through the Bible, our pastors would actually know more.

In the school I used to teach at, they are now using a book by Howard Clinebell in their pastoral ministries class. That book mocks holy living as neurotic and approves of homosexual marriage. When I suggest to a student that they ought to do a study of pastors like Moses, Joshua, Paul, Timothy, or Samuel, instead of some silly book, they just laugh. They can't say exactly WHY such an idea is stupid, but you can tell by their laughs that such an idea is just not acceptable.

We no longer believe the Bible is enough.

Phil Perkins.

Jawndoejah said...

These same people who readily quote Foster might be asked if it's okay to quote Mormon or Jehovah's Witnesses if they happen to say something that sounds "good" to us? Just because going door to door and being forced to record hours might grow a Kingdom Hall, doesn't mean we should use the method.

Denise said...

Regarding the Reformed circle....

I realize its as touchy subject, but its one I've been observing. Well-known men circle the wagons b/c the magic mantra "TULIP" is whispered. This is wrong. While the Doctrines of Grace ARE taught in Scripture, they are not ALL of Scripture and God demands purity in doctrine. Therefore, no one gets a stamp of approval merely b/c they say they hold to TULIP. Yet it keeps happening.

I think part of the problem is that people, and particularly Reformed folks, read a LOT of books. It becomes prideful and in some cases a competition (who's favorite theologian is better; who's library is bigger; name-dropping).

Reading isn't a problem if its not in competition with Scripture and doctrine. However, theologians (which I call "The Magisterium") are considered the MEAT and Scripture is seen as merely MILK.

I believe so many professing Christians turn to authors/teachers because they are afraid of studying Scripture by themselves---almost like they don't trust the Spirit of Truth to reveal the truth to them. Only the educated can REALLY know the truth.

I agree Philip, re: pastors getting rid of all their books but Scripture and bible helps. I think we'd seem more men in the pulpit have faith in the living Word, rather than men's commentaries. A little floundering on hard verses causes one to delve deeply into the Word and rely on the Spirit to give insight.

Only when we are conviced by God about a truth in Scripture, can we and should we, be unashamedly bold.

Denise said...

Vicki, thanks for stopping by. I hope you can read the rest of the article later.

The problem with Driscoll is that he has not distanced himself from the Emergent Church Movement. After claiming he was doing that in January 2006, his own church sponsored an ECM event which had the purpose to proclaim the ECM in June 2007. The speakers included Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward--all ECM leaders.

Driscoll continues to prove himself to not be above reproach and be unteachable. He is disqualified as a pastor and Piper should see that. But Piper likes to be edgey (a la "Christian" hedonism) and has been unapologetic for years in his fellowship with Driscoll. Ted Trip and his filthy mouth was also to be a speaker at Desiring God.

See:http://surphside.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html for the various articles on Piper, Driscoll, and Ted Tripp. Steve Camp also has written about this problem, as well as Ingrid Schlueter at: http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/?s=paul+tripp

Coram Deo said...

Nice work, Denise.

There is a definite and continual shift towards ungodly compromise among a several "big name" Reformed evangelicals and you've hit the nail on the head in this post.

I've been particularly disturbed by Piper's slide towards pragmatism with regard to his ongoing enablement of the potty-mouthed prodigy Mark Driscoll and I've had a check in my spirit about Tim Challies for the past couple of years.

It may seem silly or trivial but one of the things that troubled me about Challies in particular was his rank compromise on Halloween and how he spoke out of two sides of his mouth on the subject.

On the one hand he seemed to want to serve up some sloppy grace and take the position that Christian observances of Halloween were a matter of conscience and then on the other hand he slammed those who choose not to participate by whining about what a poor witness a dark house was on Halloween.

Inconsistent.

In Christ,
CD

Matthew Neal said...

"Justification by faith alone is the article on which the church stands or falls." Martin Luther

Denise,

Remember with Piper and Driscoll you are dealing with brothers in Christ. Regardless of what you think about their behavior (though it is important) there must be Christian love in what you say about them and I don't see that in your post.

To a certain extent we are all heretics in some area of our doctrine; that is why we must hold to the Reformation call to be "always reforming" our lives to Scripture. We aren't saved by perfect theology, but by the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Yours in Christ,
Matt Neal

Phil Perkins said...

Denise,
Yes, you're right. Reading isn't wrong. I have a boat load of heresy in my library, and a boat load of good stuff.

But if Scripture is true, I don't need any of that. AND lately, almost all I read is Scripture and I read loads of it.

It has changed my life.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

Phil Perkins said...

And you're right about the snootiness in Reformed circles. But you'll find that in just about all the schools. It's competitive and folks try really heard to sound smart.

Phil.

Denise said...

My love is firt and foremost to Christ Jesus and His Word. When public teachers who claim to be mature Christians repeatedly violate clear Scripture, they need to be held accountable. But it won't happen in their own circles. That's the tragedy. Its also exactly what the Charismatics/TBN types do. They all circle their wagon at the expense of Truth.

Neal, that claim that "we are all heretics in some area of doctrine" is nothing more than attemept to quash the accountablilty. Its a blind swing in the dark and one that doesn't have proof behind it.

I question Driscoll's salvation. Just because he claims to be one, doesn't make it so. He has little fear of God, His name, and His authority. But I suppose as long as he continues to claim "TULIP" he'll be excused for his ungodly behavior.

Piper acts as if he doesn't know how do deal with the langauge issue (as he said in his Desiring God Conference promo video) and hopes these men (Tripp and Driscoll) can help him out a bit. As I said in a post a few weeks ago, that's absolutely ridiculous for a pastor of 30 years. Really, what it comes down to in today's Post-Modern Christainity, is that its a virtue to "not know"--it seems more "humble" which is a total farce!

Neal, what you seem to espouse is that perfection is needed to rightly criticize others. Perfect theology? Is Scripture not clear enough on the qualifications for being an elder? On behavior of the Christian? Is truth and doctrine so obscure that we must accept all who say "Jesus is Lord" no matter what they do and say?

Scripture says otherwise.

Denise said...

Phil,

I think a lot of people consider that to "read both sides" of an issue is "fair and balanced" --either that or they think that the garbage really IS truth. The problem is that, that is a false assumption. Scripture is only one thing: all truth. It doesn't give us the lies alongside the Truth and then we're free to make up our minds about what WE think. Its biased and rightly so. Too bad seminaries and professors don't see that simple truth.

I agree----narrow one's library to a few books and just spend hours in Scripture and it will change your life. Scripture really is living and active. It is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness and, contrary to most seminaries, even doctrine. We don't need a magisterium to tell us what Scripture *really* means, or to give us the *meat* that no one else can seem to get. The Spirit of Truth reveals the truth to us in His Word.

2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Phil Perkins said...

You are right on, Denise.

And that argument my Neal that we are all wrong in some ways is an argument that I've heard lately.

TO NEAL: Since we're all wrong in some ways and since, in your opinion, that disqualifies us from testing others and offering criticisim, stop it.

Phil Perkins.

Matthew Neal said...

Denise,

I was not commenting on the content of your criticism (though I have problems with it, but that's a different matter) but on the tone of what you said. Driscoll's theology is biblical, and it is Christian love that would afford him the benefit of the doubt and regard him as a brother. Criticism is proper among believers, but not the way you went about it. You have no right to judge the salvation of one who confesses justification by faith alone.

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matt. 7:1-5)

In criticizing Driscoll's past language you have used unloving and acidic words. Can a spring bring forth fresh and salt water?

Perfect theology is not necessary to call out unbiblical doctrine, but we should show charity because we too hold things that are unscriptural and engage in behavior that doesn't adorn the doctrine of God.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, Driscoll has shown he is open to rebuke and has publicly confessed his sins.

Yours in Christ,
Matt Neal
Yours in Christ

Denise said...

I don't see how Driscoll's theology is biblical when it leads him to violate Scripture about what comes out of the mouth. Besides being a founder of a rebellious movement called the Emergent Church Movement, here are more examples:

http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/2008/02/driscoll-marks-hill-church-unbiblical.html

http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/search/label/Driscoll


The other think I would like to address is the often abused Matt. 7verse about judging.
You are proving your hypocrisy by judging me and using "harsh" tones yourself. Think about it. Besides, Matt. 7 says we ARE to judge but NOT (as you have done) hypocritically. Scripture is the standard by which I judge all professing Christians AND myself. I fall within the parameters Jesus was calling for.

Again, Truth is knowable, and it seems you are not understanding this.

As for Driscoll's apologies...those mean little. Its what he DOES that speaks (literally) volumes. He also *said* that he was going to distance himself from the ECM, only to host an ECM seminare several months later.

Tim Challies said...

I do not usually get involved in threads like this. But I'd just like to point out something. Phil Perkins said, "When I pointed out that the TNIV was gender-altered, he responded with total anger. I was stupid. I was a bigot... you know the routine."

I had no recollection of that so went through my archives to see what I could find. I have no record of having written an email to Phil, so I'll have to assume that he is referring to my comments in the meta of my blog post. This is what I wrote. I'll leave you to decide if it was angry, if I called him stupid, a bigot and so on.

"Look, the TNIV is not a Bible I would use or recommend using for personal devotions or serious study. However, it is still the Bible, even if it is a less-than-stellar translation. Were I thrown into prison, I’d far rather have a TNIV than nothing. As for this product, sure I’d rather they read the ESV, but they chose the TNIV instead and that’s not the end of the world."

I'll leave you to decide whether Phil is providing an accurate assessment of our interaction or whether he is calling his own credibility into question.

Prodigal Knot said...

Denise,

I agree with you on the use of any of Foster's stuff. And you are spot on about Foster never being a true believer. Quakers have always placed personal insight and revelation above scripture and that makes them purveyors of false doctrine.

I also agree about Mark Driscoll. He seems to have a real fascination about how far he can push the limits of language which hardly fulfills our mandate to "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt". Anyone who would sponsor blatant Post Modern teachers like Pagitt, Ward and Kimball is on the wrong path!

I, too, get confused when you generalize about those you call "Reformed". You know how I feel about TULIP and I would hope that this "circling the wagons" around that theology might give you cause to re-evaluate it. I am still striving to reconcile what the Bible says with my own religious upbringing. I do believe we are justified by faith, but that the way we live has a lot to do with our future salvation. Else, why would Christ say "Strive to enter in" and Paul say "and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain."(1 Corinthians 15:2)?

That aside, I believe there are two big dangers to the church today (and I mean believers, since there is no logic to the idea that only non-elect person are being deceived. If that were true, what is the point of Satan deceiving anyone who is already doomed?. These are:
- Compromising ecumenicism that leads to an alliance with Rome
- The false doctrine of pre-tribulation rapture which makes the church less prepared for the trials she will be purified by very soon.

Keep preaching it, even if we don't see eye-to-eye on everything, you are right on about righteous living and fidelity to the Word.

Denise said...

Prodigal,

When I say "Reformed" I include what Calvin and other Reformers taught (ie. infant sprinkling, Covenantal Theology, governmental ecclesiology like the RCC, Presby, and Lutheran set up; the Lord's Table being more than a symbol, etc), which is far more than the TULIP.The Doctrines of Grace are biblical and clearly taught in Scripture, which is why I believed them before I ever heard of "TULIP" ;).

Phil Perkins said...

Tim,
You must Google yourself, huh?

Honesty isn't your long suit. You said, "Look, the TNIV is not a Bible I would use or recommend using for personal devotions or serious study."

But you DID recommend it to be listened to didn't you? And you didn't say in your endorsement that it ought not be used as you NOW say.

What is your story now?

You may be right in that my memory may be wrong on some of the particulars. However, you still insisted that you would continue in your sin, didn't you? And yes, your buddies did write as if I was stupid. One of the first things out of their keyboards was that I was unqualified to comment on translations because I didn't know Greek and Hebrew. That was an outright lie. No one asked. I know Hebrew, Greek, and Latin and have taught two of those languages at the college level.

So, Tim, have you repented or do you still have that endorsement on your site telling folks to get a recording of the TNIV and listen?

And do you still recommend purposely altered versions of the Scripture, while claiming to love God and His Scripture which forbids misrepreseinting what God has actually said as sin?

Phil Perkins. PS, I believe that we DID email and you were very derogatory. That is my recollection.

Phil Perkins said...

And Tim,
Regardless of the past, what is your excuse for endorsing Foster?

Read Deut. 13 and explain your actions in light of just that passage.

Bet you won't even try.

Phil Perkins.

Denise said...

http://www.challies.com/sideblog/archives/2008/11/a_la_carte_1113_2.php

"A Noteworthy TNIV
This looks like a great new edition of the TNIV. Here's hoping ESV comes out with a similar one (not that I really need a new Bible...). "

Its an article Challies links to, under "A La Cart"

I'm curious why Tim C didn't deal with accepting Richard Foster as someone who has spiritual wisdom on spiritual matters, when it was originally a red flag for him.

Phil Perkins said...

To Denise and all,
Unfortunately, even the ESV isn't straight in the gender stuff. For instance, all through Exodus, "beney yisrael" (sons of Istrael) is translated "people of Israel". And there is no excuse for that. "Beney yisrael" occurs all through the book. In the first few verses, and in the last few verses of Exodus, it refers to the male heads of the tribes. So there the ESV translates it correctly as "sons of Israel". BUT all through the rest of the book it's "people of Israel".

Now OT narrative is often bracketed. That is the mentioning of a major part of the story pointed at both the beginning and the end of the story. Well, "sons of Israel" is a major theme and the ESV has to translate it correctly at the bracketed beginning ends.

So what justifies the change, since even the word itself (beney) means "sons of"?

Just a heads up.

But here is something important: As many as possible ought to learn the biblical languages, because we can no longer trust our translators.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.