Interview: Carl Medearis author of Muslims, Christians and Jesus

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We are pleased to bring to you an interview with Carl Medearis, a famous speaker, writer in today’s missions and missiology, co-author of “Tea with Hezbollah” and author of “Muslims, Christians and Jesus“. Carl Medearis has often been connected with the Insider Movement (See our article: “Position Paper on the Insider Movement” ), which the Biblical Missiology society has expressed severe biblical concerns with. We wanted to extend an opportunity to engage him with some questions to help us and you the reader better understand his views and thoughts. While we may not agree, we believe that discourse is beneficial for the body in sharpening one another for the glory of God. We also believe that it is the responsibility of you, the reader, to filter everything we and anyone else says with the Word of God with proper hermeneutics.

While we hoped to have a live interview with Carl, unfortunately a written response interview was all we were able to arrange because of health issues with his voice. While not best, we are happy to recieve a response from Carl. We’re pleased that Carl is open to discuss some of the more controversial topics out there and answer some questions about his views, and to help us understand his thoughts and perspective on these issues.

Questions:

Islamic/Christian view of God Question:

Question 1 ) This first question is a bit complex, so please forgive me for giving it some context. A concern of the Biblical Missiology Society is the perceived attempt by some in missions to establish an essential equivalence between the Quranic god and our god in order to dodge the overwhelming Biblical teaching against idols and idolatry, and show that the Quranic god is not an idol. Biblically an idol is anything that distracts us from giving full allegiance and glory to God the Father, Son, & Spirit. We believe that presenting a message that propagates this view of essential equivalence ultimately creates confusion and syncretism on the character and theological attributes of god for individuals from a Muslim background. In your blog  ( See:http://www.carlmedearis.com/blog/2010/02/is-allah-god/ ) you wrote “So is it the same God? Of course it is.”  Our concern with this is your approach in addressing knowing God from a cognitive angle. Knowing God is far different than knowing things about him. It is true that Muslims and Christians agree on the transcendent, glorious or majestic attributes of God. But we differ in regard to his imminence or that he is close and near to us. That God became man is a critical aspect of who God is. Thabiti Anyabwile wrote in his recent book,Gospel for Muslims, that biblically “To call upon the name of God is to call fully upon the Godhead, the blessed Trinity, one God in three persons.” He goes on to say that anything short of this is idolatry.  As Islam flatly rejects a God who has come down and become man. You choose to emphasize the similarities not the vast differences to gain a hearing. Which in general is a good starting place. But do you get to the rest? So this is the question: In your blog you basically say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God except that Muslims do not see him clearly.  Given the context Jesus reproaching the Jews in John 8 where the Jews were claiming to be children of Abraham and that they belong only to God. Can you explain then why Jesus did not accept their claims and in fact he told them John 8: 41-44   “If God were your Father, you would love me, …You belong to your father, the devil, …” It seems that Jesus is saying the Jews have replaced the real truth of God for the falsehood of an imperfect, incomplete, god that is not real and is an idol. Can you give your thoughts on this?

Carl’s Response:

When we ask the wrong or partially wrong question, we come up with the wrong answer.  To ask “is the god of the Quran the same as the God of the Bible is an interesting question, but it doesn’t lead to a yes or no answer. Anyone who simply says either yes or no, is grossly oversimplifying the issue.  Here’s my thought:

The Sociological Argument
All of you reading this know me in one way or another. You know my name. You know I have interesting thoughts about Jesus, about the Middle East, about how to interact with culture, etc. How would you answer someone who asked you, “Do you know Carl Medearis who lives in Denver and used to live in Beirut?” You would probably simply say “yes.” But do you really know me? Even my Chris and my three kids find out new things about me fairly often. (Once in a while, those things are even good!)

So at one level, we’re asking this question of Muslims: Do they REALLY know God? And I would ask: Do we? Of all the percentage of God there is to know (presumably 100%), how much do you know of Him? Think about it. Maybe 1%? I think I’m probably up to .000001% of knowing all there is to know about God. We’ve just decided that we know the right .01%. The bit that is “good enough” and the .000001% that Muslims know about God isn’t good enough. (Which may be true, by the way. I’m not arguing against the point of “knowing enough” as it’s a good point.)

So to begin the discussion, we need to jump off our high horse and humble ourselves so we’re not thinking we have one less zero in front of the decimal…We all see through a glass darkly. Is the glass darker for our Muslim friends when they “see” God? Probably.

What clears the glass a bit? Jesus. We see God as clearly as we see Jesus.

The Etymological Argument (Study of Words)
“Allah” is simply the word for “god” in Arabic. Kind of like Dios is his name in Spanish. We would never say that “Dios” is the Catholic or Spanish God. We would say that that is his name in Spanish – big difference. All Arab Christians have used “Allah” in Arabic for God.

Remember when Jesus cried out at the crucifixion “My God my God….” The word in Aramaic (an early version of Arabic) was “illahi.” To say “my God” in Arabic today, you would say “Allahi.” When an Arab simply says “God” he uses the word “illah.” Same root. Same word.

Some have heard that “Allah” was the Moon God in the Arabian desert. Other than the fact that there is no evidence of this, if you were to ask any Muslim from any time in history if they worship the “Moon God”, they would be highly offended. Do we worship a pagan deity called “God?” Of course not. But our English word comes from the Germanic pagan deity of water called “Guut.” Or did Paul encourage us to worship the Roman God Zeus when he Hellenized that word and turned it into Theos? Of course not.

So on the most basic level of how we use words, the only word for “God” in Arabic is “Allah.”

The Theological Argument
Perhaps the deepest of all the issues when we discuss whether the God of the Muslims, called “Allah” in Arabic, is the same as “our God” is this: When they think of “God”, are they thinking of or praying to the “right” God? This, in my opinion, is the real issue. (And my guess is, it’s your real issue as well). Here are several thoughts on that:

A. There is only one God. There aren’t several. In one sense, unless you’d say that Muslims are worshipping an idol or the devil, then there is only one possibility anyway. It’s simply whether or not they are seeing him correctly or not. But it’s not the question of whether he is God or not. This is a huge deal. It’s one thing to say that Muslims don’t see God clearly; it’s quite another to say that it’s not the real God.

B. The 99 names of God that they use would all agree with our definitions of God.

C. Here’s the “God” that Muslims believe in: He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He created and loves us. He is the All-powerful (omnipotent), the all-knowing (omniscient), and the all-present (omnipresent). He is the eternal judge. He is fully holy and righteous. And he is the God who saves, heals, comforts, offers compassion and mercy – and the God who’s wrath needs atonement (Although Muslims do not believe that is provided through Christ). So is it the same God? Of course it is. Do Muslims have full revelation of who he is and who Jesus is? No. Do they need that understanding? Yes. See, those two questions are easy to answer with one word.

The Missiological Argument
My final point, and the most practical, is this: to reach the heart of our Muslim friends with the good news, we need to meet them where they are. They also see through a glass darkly. They are trying to find access to the One True God. All the Muslims I know who take their faith seriously, want to know God and follow Him. Why would we not give that to them? Maybe it’s because we’re mad at Muslims and we don’t want them to “share” our God (as if he’s “ours” anyway).

When a Muslims says they believe in God or in Jesus (which they would all say), why not start out with a simple “Great, and so do I. So how about we walk together and get to know Him more.” That opens every door!

So do Muslims believe in God correctly or completely. No.  But there’s a vast difference between saying that and saying they believe in an idol.

Kingdom Question:

Question 2 ) A postmodern trend in missions has been to look at Islam and Christianity as two religious systems, that overlap. This overlap is often called the common ground. There is also a third circle called “Kingdom of God” wherein truth lies. This has been labeled by the Common Ground Movement as kingdom circles. In this view, they believe that Muslims can be children of the Kingdom of God, call themselves Muslim (and maintain the rituals and identity of the Islamic Umma), and attain the inheritance of the Kingdom of God without becoming New Testament Christians. The Muslims do not need to cease being Muslims (as defined by the Shahada) to enter the Kingdom of God.  The opposite view is articulated on the St. Francis Journal’s website in an article written by John Span entitled “The Critical Kingdom Question: Can One Be Identified With The Kingdom of God and With Islam At The Same Time?”  What is your view on this?

Carl’s Response:

I am not that familiar with the Common Ground folks as I’ve not been around them or to any of their trainings.  I have seen the Kingdom Circles, but don’t personally use that.  Herein lies the difficulty of terminology.  Islam and Christianity (as I define them) are, in fact, simply two religious systems. They have many overlapping parts.  Theologically, historically, culturally.  Entrance into God’s Kingdom, as defined by Jesus, has nothing to do with “becoming Christian.” It has to do with a belief in, submission to and a following of Jesus Christ as the One and Only. If I Muslim (or a Christian, for that matter) doesn’t believe and follow, then they are not in God’s Kingdom!

Gospel Questions:

Question 3 ) In your blog you say that the good news should be good news. ( See http://www.carlmedearis.com/blog/2010/03/making-sure-the-good-news-is-good/ ) In this article you focused on the positive news in the good news. However, to the perishing, isn’t the gospel also the stench of death (2 Corinthians 2:16)? Where does the consequences of sin, conviction, confession, repentance come into the gospel story. How do you view Jesus’ clear calls for repentance in Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-12, and the Apostles in Acts 2:37-38, 26:20?

Carl’s Response:

So much to this question. First of all, “repent” didn’t mean to Jesus what we typically use it to mean today.  Now we use the word “repent” more as a synonym for “I’m sorry I offended God and have sinned. Now I will stop.”   Whereas Jesus used it in conjunction with joining His new kingdom.  His meaning was “Look. There’s a whole new way of life. You can keep going your way following your religious systems, or you can come and follow me.”

And yes, part of that is being sorry for my sins. But modern western Christianity has made the whole good news of Jesus Christ to mean “stop sinning and have eternal life.”  The message of Jesus was much bigger and broader than that.

It’s also noteworthy that the news Jesus brought WAS good news for those most on the outside. His news was often a bit scary for the religious elite of his day. Those who thought they had all the correct answers. But to the lepers, the women, the children, the prostitutes and the Samaritans – it was plain old good news!   Very little of the “hard stuff” we often lay on people today.

Therefore, I’m convinced that if Jesus were walking with us today among our Muslim friends, he would be much more grace-filled as he would call them to follow him.

Question 4 ) In building relationships with a Muslim what is your ultimate goal? If it is not conversion then what?

Carl’s Response: :

Let me be clear about two things.  Muslims, without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, are doomed to the same thing that those who call themselves “Christians” (or anything else) are.  Secondly, I do think that tearing down walls, building friendships and bridges is inherently a good thing. A God thing. Blessed are the peacemakers Jesus said.  So there is an intrinsic value in that.

However, my hope is always that Muslims (and us) would come to fully know Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection.  We just have to be careful to know what we’re asking them to “convert to.” If it’s a new religion called “Christianity” then I’m against it.  I also have no desire to make them more “Muslim” then they are.  Both miss the point. I don’t like my friends who have come to Christ to continue to call themselves “Muslims who follow Jesus” or “Muslim Background Believers” because it undermines their status as a new creation in Christ. That’s what we want – to be found in Christ. Not to be either Muslim or Christian.

Salvation / Community Questions:

Question 5 ) In order to be a saved Follower of Jesus (a.k.a. Christian), what constitutes saving belief, what constitutes conversion, rebirth (John 3:3), born of the Spirit (John 3:7-8), Raised from death to life (Romans 6:1-5), New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-18), United in Christ (Romans 6:5)? In other words, what does a person from a Muslim background need to believe to confirm the Holy Spirit bringing about the changes listed above? What do they need not believe to be saved (i.e. True prophethood of Muhammad? Authority/Divine nature of Quran, etc.. can they always believe in these things throughout their walk forever? Or will evidence of the spirit ultimately lead to rejection of these?) How does this reflect on other ‘christian’ cults that proclaim Jesus, but follow a different gospel, like Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, etc..?

Carl’s Response:

First of all, being a “saved follower of Jesus” is NOT know (a.k.a.) in most of the world as a “Christian.”  in most of the world – like Spain, Serbia, Greece, Argentina, etc – a “Christian” is a simple cultural distinction.  But I think I know what you’re trying to say….based on the verses you’ve used.

It’s a great question actually. I often ask it when I speak. What does someone need to do or believe in order to be saved.  It’s a bigger question then we often realize.  The thief on the cross seemed to “get in” by simply saying “remember me.”

The Ethiopian Eunuch asked Philip a question about Isaiah and then got baptized.

Some were healed and believed.  Some followed from a distance and were confused, but still followed. The closest disciples seemed to have missed the whole point even by the time of the crucifixion.

When were the 12 disciples saved? Not always clear or easy to know.  I think the clear teaching of Christ and the Apostles was to “turn, believe/trust and follow Jesus.”

As Muslims do this, their bad theology (whatever of it that was bad) will fall away due to the teaching of those in their lives, the reading of the Bible and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Just like many American Christians who are trying to believe and follow Jesus have syncretized their faith with materialism or individualism – they need to grow out of that – but we don’t say they’re not believers.

So a Muslim may still be confused about the prophethood of Muhammad and the authority of the Qur’an or the divinity of Jesus and still be saved.  But we don’t desire for him to stay there.

Question 6 ) In your opinion, do people who come to saving faith (As defined in the last question) need to create & form together Christian communities (the Church, Universal Body of Christ) or can they in their own perception, and the perception by those around them (Muslim or not) be part of Muslim communities (the Umma)? If Muslim communities, can they stay there indefinitely and be Biblical?

Carl’s Response:

Of course we want them to be in communities of others who are clearly following Jesus.  But this doesn’t mean they can’t still be in their Muslim community.  Again, it’s like asking if I can belong to the Elks Club and Rotary and still be in the church?  This is the great tension of living out the gospel – being in the world but not of it. So much of this, for a Muslim, has to do with what we’ve called them into.  If it’s a “Christian church” with all the trappings of Western Christianity, then we will make it nearly impossible for them to live in that country – which is a failure on our part to understand the principles of being salt and light in a people group.

So we must be careful to think through what it is we’re asking Muslims to “join.”  It’s the Kingdom of God and his people – the called out ones spiritually – that we’re asking them to engage in and with. Not something that has roots in western Christendom which will get them killed, persecuted and at the least, made irrelevant in their culture.  Real persecution for the sake of following Christ is to be expected, but persecution for our stubborn western ignorance is inexcusable!

Question 7 ) You lived in Lebanon 12 years, have you seen a community of Christians from a Muslim Background organize and are they now continuing to meet? Do they have a pastor? Do they elect elders and deacons? Do they have relations with the larger body of Christ in Lebanon?

Carl’s Response:

As far as I’m aware, in the Arab Muslim Middle East, there are no such gatherings.  There are Muslims who have joined Christian churches in ones and twos. There are some small gatherings of Muslims who have come to faith in Christ, but none that would past the test you made in the question above.  (In other words, Muslims who are now clearly following Jesus and who are, themselves, the leaders/pastors/elders of other Muslims who have come to Christ in a way that is clear and reproducing. I don’t think those exist in the Arab Middle East yet).

But we do have many who are following Jesus (in clear definable ways – even by your definitions) and are meeting together regularly.

Building Bridges/Relationships Building:

Question 8 ) You have written two books that delve into dispelling fears of Muslims. It seems that your desire and hope is to build bridges between Muslims and Christians in hope of fostering goodwill. In a recent talk you gave at the Muslim American Society conference (See http://www.carlmedearis.com/blog/2009/12/take-jesus-back/ ) you said to the Muslim audience, “If you’ve ever felt that Christians have unfairly taken Jesus and re-packaged him in a way that you can’t understand, then TAKE HIM BACK. He’d love to be yours!” How do you think the Muslims in this group perceived that statement? Was it your intention to have them seek the true biblical Jesus, God the Son, Triune of one? Or do you think they would embrace the Isa of the Quran more, rejecting the biblical Jesus?

Carl’s Response: :

First of all, there is only one Jesus. There aren’t two of Him. In Arabic, his name is Isa.  So not sure what this question means. But of course I want them to follow the real Biblical Jesus in his fullness – that person being called Isa if you’re speaking Arabic.

And I have no idea what people “heard” when I told them they should “take Jesus back.”  What I HOPE they heard was this: “We, Western Christians, have turned Jesus into a white Christian guy and then tried to reintroduce him to you and we hope you like him that way. But you don’t. So why don’t you find him for yourself. He is not ours. He is for everyone!”  That’s what I wanted them to hear and from the feedback I got, that is what they heard. With the Spirit’s help, some will seek…!

Hezbollah / Hamas:

Question 9 ) Through your books we understand that it is your sincerest desire to build relationships with Muslims, especially the ones many are afraid of most. This is commendable. In building these relationships do you have concerns that your very positive attitude (ignoring the negatives) adds credibility to their extreme, sometimes terroristic activities? Have you seen many of these extremists, some of whom you mention in your books, come to a believing, knowledgeable and saving faith in God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit?

Carl’s Response:

Was Jesus concerned that his association with tax collectors, zealots and Samaritans (all “enemies” in one respect or another) would be misunderstood or lead to them being more of what they were?

I’ve been asked similar things often and I can’t figure out what motivates the question.  Am I being “used” by these people I meet with?  Of course. Is God bigger than that?

And I don’t ignore the negatives – not at all. I speak very directly with these groups. I looked the Hezbollah leader in the eye and said “lay down your arms.”  That’s pretty direct, I’d say.  (And I’d say the same to the Israelis and/or Americans).

Yes, at least two of the main examples in the book “Tea with Hezbollah” are clearly following Jesus.   But I’m not interested in individuals doing that – a foreign concept to Jesus – but that whole peoples would come to know him.  We are called to “make disciples of all peoples” not of individuals.  So we’re working at seeing 1000’s come at once.

Question 10 ) Have you read the Book “Son of Hamas” by the former Hamas insider now born-again Christian, Mosab Hassan Yousef? His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is a founding leader of Hamas, internationally recognized as a terrorist organization and responsible for countless suicide bombings and other deadly attacks. In a March 6 Wall Street Journal article  ‘They Need to Be Liberated From Their God’: The ‘Son of Hamas’ author on his conversion to Christianity, spying for Israel, and shaming his family. Mosab states: “The problem is not in Muslims,” he continues. “The problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their god. He is their biggest enemy. It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to.” Do you share his sentiment? yes? No? How so? What do you think of his view in his book that the only hope for peace in the Israeli & Palestinian problem is that the Muslims reject Islam, and both they and the Jews find the Biblical Jesus, and receive him as Son of God?

Carl’s Response:

I have not read it, but feel like I know it since I’ve heard so much about it.  And I know some of the background story of this man as I know his context well.  I do agree that the only hope for the Israeli-Palestinian issue (and all others) is that they would come to know Jesus as Christ.  I don’t agree with this take on the issue or how we characterizes it, as you would know by now.

But it’s typical for someone who comes out of an abusive situation to be very hateful and angry at that group of people who hurt him. If you want to know all the dirt on Mormonism ask a former Mormon. If you want all the dirt on Islam (and there is plenty) then ask a Muslim who has converted to the religion of Christianity.  Because of his conversion to the wrong thing – Christianity – he has lost all voice in the Arab or Muslim world. Too bad.  But Christians here love him, because he tickles itchy ears.

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to say, comment on?

Carl’s Response:

Fear is the big issue for the church.  We are afraid of Muslims.  When we’re afraid, we don’t go. When we don’t go, they don’t hear.  Islamic extremism falls right in the lap of the church.  We have the answer. Let’s spend less time worrying about what they’re believing and doing, and get on with loving them into the Kingdom through the power of Christ.


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40 Comments

  1. David J Shedlock on

    Carl Wrote (italics mine): “The Christ I preach is the only one I know – from the Bible. To suggest otherwise would be unbelievably arrogant. There is, in fact, only one real Jesus – the son of God and the one by which we are saved. There’s isn’t another one. Muslims believe in this Jesus, imperfectly.”

    II Corinthians 11:4 ” For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

    Obviously, you and Paul disagree. Many of the idol-worshippers of the Old Testament era (as well as those of today) attributed to their gods (who the idols simply represented in most cases) omniscience, omnipotence, etc. These are still called false gods in the Bible.

  2. Andy,

    You said, “Nobody has said that the God of Islam is the true God.” But, in fact, Carl has:

    “C. Here’s the “God” that Muslims believe in: He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He created and loves us. He is the All-powerful (omnipotent), the all-knowing (omniscient), and the all-present (omnipresent). He is the eternal judge. He is fully holy and righteous. And he is the God who saves, heals, comforts, offers compassion and mercy – and the God who’s wrath needs atonement (Although Muslims do not believe that is provided through Christ). So is it the same God? Of course it is. Do Muslims have full revelation of who he is and who Jesus is? No. Do they need that understanding? Yes. See, those two questions are easy to answer with one word.”

    Is Carl’s point of view to you an example of how the god of the Qur’an, the god of Islam, “is redeemable” (your words)? From my point of view, Carl’s rationalization is convoluted in that, this god supposedly has the same moral and natural attributes of the God of the Bible while denying the deity of the Son and nullifying the persons of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Carl said this god saves: “….And he is the God who saves….” But the Qur’an says, “Christ the son of Mary was no more than an apostle; Many were the apostles that passed away before him'”; and “It is not befitting to Allah that He should beget a son” (Qur’an 5.72, 73, 75; 19.35). “To say this diametric merely represents deficient understanding is belied by the fact that the understanding that Carl claims Muslims lack is specifically understood and unequivocally opposed in the qur’anic verses!” (My words from another post.)

    The god of Islam attacks the heart of the gospel: “…That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise…” (4.156, ff.). But the Bible says, “But the angel said to the woman, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…” (Matthew 28. 5, ff.). You call this diametric form of opposition “redeemable”.

    Andy, you are willing to overlook much. After all, this redeemable god, as you put it, is an example of opposition to the gospel, not of something useful for indeginizing the gospel message but of the hostile assimilation of biblical truth by Qur’anic authority.

  3. Mark,

    It seems like you still miss the fundamental truth. Nobody has said that the God of Islam is the true God. But that he is redeemable. As Carl has alluded to if there is a Church with a totally whacked out view of God (and there are many) do you have them totally change God and start calling them a different name or do you redeem their concepts of God? Do you force them out of darkness or do you lead them to the light?

    As for accusing me of being numbers driven and misleading people. You know very little of me and I find the way you talk very insulting. You have closed a box around everything you know and everybody else is wrong. This is a disappointing attitude.

  4. Andy, I never said you were a heretic. The difference between a heretic and misguided believer is the Spirit of God, conviction, and changing. Though I do believe you might have some idolatry issues surrounding culture, number-driven ministry and missions and have some real theological problems that you need to hash out. Praise the Lord for His grace and for the Spirit to guide. I pray you do have His spirit to guide you to understand these things. You have the chance to show where you stand still. I asked you to reflect. But certainly if you think the God of Islam is the real God, I simply cannot say you are in orthodoxy and in alignment with the canon of scripture. Perhaps I am in good company with Douglas. He sometimes says things harshly, but is he wrong?

    Perhaps you received the brunt of my patience waning when it comes to IM. I grow weary, and perhaps I shouldn’t. But I must say, when philosophies supplant my Lord with a lesser view of him, with a tarnished view of who He is, And then they go out teaching this view to young people who are ignorant of these issues, tying millstones around their necks. I take that seriously, because God takes it seriously. If you consider yourself a Christian, then you should take the warnings here as a sign and at the very least reflect, fast & pray. I mean it. If you haven’t reflected while fasting and praying through the Word, you have an obligation to do such. Use the new article we just published ( Contextualization Guidelines for Missions ) as a tool for reflection and praying.

    It’s easy to try to shame someone for challenging you on your relationship with God. It’s harder to listen to them, and consider whether or not they are right.

    How about this, I’ll deal with my boldness, and have a chat with my Lord about it. You do the same about pigeonholing the god of Islam with the real Lord of the Universe, God the Father, Son & Spirit.

  5. Wow Mark. You are exactly the same as Douglas. Shame on you both. If someone disagrees with you they are heretic and a fool. That is absolutely shameless.

  6. Andy,

    It seems you didn’t understand what I was saying. The goal of conversion is not to leave someone in their culture, NOR take someone to another culture. The goal of the Holy SPirit entering one’s life and cleansing them and redeeming them is to bring them into the the Kingdom culture, where earthly cultures will fade away and be supplanted by God’s culture of righteousness.

    That means daily I die to the American self. That means daily you die to yourself as well. If we try to dig deeper into this world, or clutch more onto this world and its things, then it is very likely, we are not saved.

    This world and its ways (cultures) are rubbish in comparison to the glories and and righteousness that being a citizen and kingdom culture and family of God.

    If anyone ‘converts’ a person and has them become a ‘western’ christian, shame on them! Why did you take one yoke and supplant another which you yourself should be shedding!

    The goal of every saved human being is to become the culture of God, being citizens of heaven, and aliens to earth. This goal is done through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

    This is the terminology the Bible uses. IM ignores it completely, and tries to force individuals to remain in the muck they were born in instead of letting them be reborn as coheirs with Christ.

    As for the Islamic God, yes, we absolutely disagree. It’s a false god which leads to Hell. Just like the Mormon God, Jehovah Witness’ God, Just like Mithras, Krishna, and etc…. as well as any number of heresies which have similarities to the true God, (Father, Son & Spirit in One) but ultimately are deceptive and lead to Hell. Satan is no fool. The best formed lies are either the boldest, or the ones closest to truth. Islam falls into both actually. You play with a religion that was made as a trap for souls. You have no clue what you’re doing. You, like the Greeks in Acts 17 are ignorant.

    If you want our Muslims to settle for a false God, then you’re in the wrong field. Consider a profession change. Really, I want you to stop. Go spend sometime in contemplation on idolatry, and follow misconceptions of who He really is. There are many ‘Cultural Christians’ that also follow a false God, one of their own making. Idolatry is the biggest sin out there, and we’re all guilty of it. The question is, are we rubbing it out when we see it, or embracing it. May God grant you discernment and wisdom to see the idolatries in your own life, and the idolatries that you teach.

    The ultimate purpose of conversion is not to go back and to live in your same culture and reach others. It isn’t to reach your family. It isn’t any of these numerical goals that ‘missions’ has corrupted the gospel to be about. IM has come out of a desire to see as many people converted to a Christ-like religion as possible. It is sinful and an idol in itself.

    The purpose of turning to Christ, being made new, reborn, and transformed is simply to glorify Him. Perhaps the Lord will use the person to glorify Him in their presence via gospel sharing, and their conversion. Perhaps not. God is not about numbers, and never has been about numbers. Numbers and ‘movements’ are all man made concepts that God often has nothing to do with.

    So are you forcing people to live in false doctrine for your own idol of numbers?

  7. Mark. I guess we will just have to disagree. We really have a disagreement on the origin of the Muslim God. I believe the parallel to the Jewish God is highly reasonable you do not.

    I again implore all of you to think of what “becoming a Christian” would really mean to a Muslim (or any Asian, African) for that matter. I do not mind what you decide about believers staying a muslim, but find the enforcing of a term very imperialistic and feel like we are repeating the same mistakes in missions we have made for centuries. They must be like us. Like the West.

  8. Is not the last thing we need among the follower of Jesus to be fighting with one another? We all believe in Christ. Period. That used to be enough. Let God be the arbitrator between us.

    I will agree that Carl’s viewpoint is radical. It’s not an easy teaching. But let’s give it a fair hearing before dismissing it. Even if he is your enemy, that doesn’t mean that God cannot speak through him, right?

    Furthermore, to pick on Douglas Pirkey: if you view Carl as a heresy teacher, why not try some love and prayer? Pray that God uses Carl’s heresy to reach people. I’ve seen a lot what-I-deem heresy on TV and in popular news. What do I do? I pray that God uses them to draw people unto HIM. Are false-teachers beyond God’s reach? Can God not turn seeming defeat into Victory?

    May God have mercy on us all-even on our enemies.

  9. Andy,

    The Jewish God is God. The ones Jesus was speaking to were not worshiping God, they were worshiping the devil, aka idolatry. The Muslim God is neither the Jewish God, nor the Christian God. The Christian God is the Jewish God. There, it’s spelled out for you. What’s so difficult about that?

    The word Christian is used as an important word and given honor. However, is it mandatory? What a strange question. Is a human a human if it rather call itself a dog? Here you ask the same thing. What I can say is that Muslim isn’t used in the Bible nor would be acceptable as it is a word from a religion that has a false god ergo a false religion. Baal also would be out. Zeus, Artemis, Diana, Budda, as would a million other false gods concieved by man. Should I list them? Or can you understand that God doesn’t want to share his name with any other false concept of him. That’s why Jesus said, ummm… No, you do not worship Yahweh, your worship the devil. Do not say you worship me when you don’t. Do not assign anything to God that isn’t. Do not pigeonhole God with falsehood.

    Muslims who are very proud to be Muslim. Great! Let them stay Muslim. I know a rich man who didn’t want to give up his treasures either. So let me ask, does God save? or you? Who does the choosing? Who does the following? I think it honestly comes down to this. If you believe a Muslim can find honor in falsehood, and still follow God, then that Muslim is making a choice to do both. Can one follow two masters? The master of Islam is quite demanding. What about Christ? Biblically does it seem he’s willing to share? I also remember a few characters in Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They wouldn’t bow, though they certainly could have, worshiped the idol as though it were God, and secretly in their heart say Yahwah. But they didn’t. In fact they rather be burned alive than to be associated with falsehood. Would you?

    I believe that’s an answer that all IMers, and many of the rest of us believers will have to answer to God someday. Why did you choose to make comfort the world for my name, than burn for my glory?

    I dare say, many in IM would have rationalized that moment before King Nebuchadnezzar II and bowed. How about Jesus before Satan? Jesus just had to bow once, and Satan would have given all the lost over to him (Matthew 4:8-9). But Jesus does not bow nor does Jesus want us to bow but before anything and anyone but God Almighty, and Jesus said with the power of God, ” “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”

    How dare we take the right of every believer to sacrifice the easy way out, glorify God, and be attended by angels?

    IM has gone too far, paid too little, and given God a pittance of the glory He deserves. May God forgive those missionaries and pastors that tied millstones around the necks of those who call themselves Muslim followers of Jesus. As teachers they surely are held to a higher standard. May God reach out and draw those sincere in faith who call themselves Muslim Followers of Jesus, and pull them into the body of Christ, the Holy Communion of Saint, the Church.

  10. Thank you for your point Georges.

    I find your interpretation to the passage in John 8 interesting. I think it is important to notice here that this passage is proceeding from discussions with pharisee’s challenging him. Also that whilst he calls them children of the devil he doesn’t imply or say that they must change God’s or that there God is wrong. I would like to see a place in scripture where a Jewish man had to deny the “Jewish” God to take up the “Christian” God.

    I would also like to see a place in scripture where we are told we must call ourselves Christian in order to truly be saved. Wether you are saying it or not it is the impression that I seem to get from what you are saying. In fact Christian is a word barely used in Scripture and it seems to me that the importance here is in the relationship with God and salvation through Jesus not in the semantics of what you call yourself.

    As for your experiences with Church planting amongst Muslims. That is fantastic! I am always thrilled to see Muslims come to know Jesus. But it is my experiences that what you say is not true in all parts of the world. I know many Muslims who are fiercely proud to be Muslim. It is true that some are disillusioned, but it is by no means an all encompassing statement.

  11. Andy,
    You make an excellent point that Islam has truth. Who can deny that Muslims believe in a Creator God, in heaven and hell, day of judgment etc? Let us seek help from Jesus and ask him what he thinks about this issue.

    You I am sure believe that the Jews of the time of Jesus worshiped the true God, right? Do you also believe as Paul emphasized that there is an advantage of being a Jew because of their heritage, the covenants, the patriarchs, the promises, the Old Testament even the ancestry of Christ. (Romans 9:1-5)

    Jesus did address this issue about the Jews who have all these advantages including the right scriptures, the right God, the right everything religiously. Paul called himself Pharisee, Hebrew, and even faultless according to the law of God (Philippians 3:5,6)

    Brother Andy you can argue with me and Mark but please do not argue with Jesus. Let us not forget that all we do is about him not about us. He is the source of all authority on every matter that has to do with him and his church.

    I am almost afraid of shocking you with what Jesus said. Please I beg you before God to read John 8. And let God be true and every man a liar. (Romans 3:4)

    Jesus said to the Jews who have even believed in him (8:31) “you belong to your father the devil…” (8:44) Before that he did not accept their claim that Abraham was their father. He did not accept that God was their father then BANG: “You belong to your father the devil?”

    Listen to these earth shaking words: “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.” (8:43) Please Andy do not be one Jesus tells you these words.
    WE MUST SEE ISLAM AND MUSLIMS through the eyes of our BOSS.
    As to the name Christian. It is so sad that Christians are so double minded about their identity. Are you a Christian Andy? I hope so. I am a Christian not anything else.

    It is a mind game to play that you can be a follower of Jesus without being a Christian. It is deceptive to be a Muslim follower of Isa and not a Christian. Now when I use the word Christian I am using an English word. In the Arab world we say Massihi (Messianic) There are Muslims and Massihis and nothing in between.

    All the churches I have planted in Muslim lands want to break away from Islam. They would not come to me otherwise. O some like Carl says that they will do whatever you tell them. Well, fine, so tell them to be Christians. But that is not true. Did you know that most Muslims today in 2010 are disillusioned with Islam and are seeking an alternative? Do you want them to become Athiests, Buddhists or join a political party? Why not give them the best alternative, to join the Church, the one Jesus built. And we are not talking about just any two or three that gather together, this is not the church. We are talking about the universal (holy Catholic Church) that huge international, global body whose head is Jesus.
    Sociologically speaking they are looking for a new identity. Give it to them. Do not deny them. If they are happy in their Muslim culture, they will not seek Christ anyway. You cannot inject Jesus into Islam. Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan.

    Anyway, who told you that Muslims think the name Christian is bad? Unless you are referring to fanatics who want to destroy Christianity and all infidels. I am and Arab, I move in Arab and other Muslim circles and I know first hand that Most Muslims would rather be Christians than remain Muslim. Are you aware that several of the converts that I personally know have the support of their families? Recently (last sep) a Moroccan was afraid to tell his parents. But when his mother found out a year later, she said: “Good for you. Why did you not tell me? I would have gone to church with you?” And this is not atypical.

    Westerners, I love you and am thankful you brought Jesus to Lebanon. Because of missionary work I am now serving my Lord and savior. But this is the time for us to return the favor to you by correcting your mistakes. Please do not insist on your mistakes. Jesus is clear. Paul is clear that it is not concepts of God that will save you. It is becoming regenerate by the Spirit of God. Nikodemus was a godly man, but Jesus told him you will not see the kingdom unless you are regenerate. Shall I go on and on? I hope you got the point.

  12. Mark. If you truly believe that there is no truth in Islam then there is not much point in having this conversation as it isn’t much of an understanding of them at all. There is no truth in a religion that follows one God??? Really!!???

    So we can put aside some of the deeper elements of this discussion and simply discuss the word Christian. Are you really suggesting that someone has to be called a Christian to be a part of the global body of Christ? Why? Show me where that is scriptural? Here is the kicker in this discussion for me. Do you know what you are asking them to become a part of in their mind? Because surely when we are trying to see the Kingdom of God expanded we have to look at what we are communicated from the perspective of those we communicate to not what it means to us. What we are communicating when we ask a Muslim to become a Christian is very different from what we perceive it to be. It’s more akin to become like Brittany Spears than becoming like Jesus. It’s becoming the enemy. And frankly it just doesn’t work.

    Let me ask you one question (or perhaps a series of questions). How did this mindset work out for you in your 7 years in the ME? Did you see many “converts”? Did you ever see a Church Planting movements? Were your “converts” able to stay a party of the community or where they part of extraction evangelism? Where they able to effectively reach out to their Muslim brothers and sisters? or did they, like so many, become a part of your little missionary groups or worse flee to the west where they are welcomed to Churches where they can talk about how evil Islam is.

    Doesn’t Jesus say the Harvest are plentiful? It doesn’t look like that in the Muslim world when we try to win people to Christianity. It looks like a snatch and grab one convert as a time and it just doesn’t work. Sure, it may bring a few individuals to Jesus, which is wonderful for them- but it simply doesn’t allow for the gospel to spread in the Muslim world.

  13. Andy, I appreciate your comments, but couldn’t disagree more with what your saying concerning Acts 17.

    Paul in Acts 17 says clearly, “he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” Are you willing to say Islam is full of idolatry?

    Paul talked about an ‘Unknown’ God to stress the Athenians ignorance, which he emphasizes in verse 30, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance”.

    The Athenians, not only worships idols made of man’s hands, but also had the idolatry of reason and knowledge, which Paul attacked directly. This upset them quite a lot. Paul so much so that they perceived Paul as a babbler and grew upset with him. In fact, most turned away from Paul, while some followed him. These some, were called by God. Paul’s desire wasn’t sensitivity, but to point out their lack of understanding, and then to proclaim a pure and true gospel, of which was not similar to their religions at all. this is clearly seen in verse 18, “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” ”

    IM’s goal is to adapt the culture and to take on their rituals and other attributes as there isn’t a shedding of behaviors, but a putting on of more. IM is very favorable, and even allows the use of the Koran, Shahada, Muhammad as a Prophet, etc… While not all practitioners may agree, certainly IM does include these things.

    Whether or not Carl says he does or doesn’t as a person believe is irrelevant to me. I have no dispute with Carl. I have disputes with the philosophies of advocating a false religion that is neither Christianity nor Islam. No one is saved through falsehood, and can only be deceived and chained more.

    As for the ‘Church’, or Christianity. The Church is Christianity, and Christianity is the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ, those who are Christians are therefore part of the body and brides of Christ.

    I get so tired of people reworking what it means to be Christian. Christianity is not a denomination, Western, Eastern, blah blah blah blah. I do not care what ones perceives, what a Christian may or may not be. I care what it means to be one, and hold myself to that standard, and ask God through the Holy Spirit to lead and guide, and transform me, and to forgive me, and to work with those around me, open their eyes, or close their ears to anything I may say correctly or not. God is sovereign, not me. God saves, not me. God condemns, not me.

    Islam is a system that is well known, documented, and has a 1400 year history. Yet IMers seems to act as though time has misunderstood Islam, and that the Muslims themselves have misused and misunderstood their own faith. The reality is, Islam is what it is. But what it isn’t is far more important. Islam is not divinely inspired. It isn’t based in truth of any sort. It isn’t part of the Kingdom of God. I really stress that it isn’t part of the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t have even a reasonably correct view of who Jesus really is, to the point Isa cannot be considered being the historical Jesus. It’s a lie, let’s not be surprised by this. It doesn’t have a correct view of the prophets, judges, patriarchs, yada yada yada… And finally, it does not have a correct view, theology, of who ‘God’ is, simply because the religion, based on a book that is really wrong, cannot come to any true conception of God as Elohim and Yahweh, let alone as Father, Son & Spirit.

    So to compare Islam and Messianic Judaism is absurd. They are not the same because their foundations are incomparable. Historical Judaism pre-Jesus is based on truths. Their failure is simply to accept Jesus as the Messiah. In fact, I am Jewish by faith, and anyone who considers themselves a Follower of Jesus is Jewish by faith to the extent that we are Children of Abraham in the covenant promise of God. Which Muslims cannot be because the covenant is clearly and biblically shown to go through Isaac, and is clearly shown in the New Testament to be extended to us as heirs through faith in Jesus as the Messiah which only can be understood from the context of Judaism. A Messianic Jew is not a Messianic Muslim. A Messianic Muslim uses Islamic tradition and the Koran to weigh who the messiah is, which is COMPLETELY different than what the Bible says about the Messiah.

    When comparing Apples, compare them to Apples, not Oranges. Islam is a fruity, but it’s not an Apple. Judaism is a Apple, out of which God continued to grow, the Church, the Body of Christ, which is Christianity.

    You cannot cross-pollinate Apples and Oranges. It doesn’t work. It is deceptive to tell others that it can be done. You might be able to make a red orange, but it’s not an Apple.

  14. Some of the counter arguments here seem ridiculous to me.

    How exactly does saying that Jews in the Bible needed to be called to repentance contradict anything that Carl said? No one is saying that Muslims don’t need to repent. But the fact remains that Jews in the Bible were not called to abandon their God in order to accept a different God. They were called to accept and follow Jesus as saviour. Assumedly, nobody here has a problem with the concept of messianic Jews?

    Talking about the early Church ought to lead us down a path much more similar to the concepts Carl was talking about in my opinion. Look at the way Paul planted Churches; the language he was when writing to the Ephesians, the use of the “unknown god” (Acts 17), (these two are especially interesting considering their pagan like religions would of been much more removed from the early Churches beliefs than Islam), Churches basically being planted in Temples, Jewish believers holding onto too many of their Jewish beliefs, Pagan believers still doing pagan practices. So honestly and open heartedly study these things. It is apparent to me that Paul and the early Church were not calling people to “convert to the religion of Christianity”. Why are we so obsessed with the word and religion of Christianity anyway? Have we not realized that so much of what we hold onto has been passed onto us anyway? Many of our practices in the Church today we would probably throw out because they were “syncretized” with our pagan roots.

  15. Geoff Flahardy on

    “So come on. Stop with the condescending attitudes here. Come with me if you have the guts. And I will put you in situations that will cause you to wet yourself. Or….once you’ve walked in my shoes for a year – or ten – then lets talk again. Until then, jump down off the theological high horses some are on and get back to work. Muslims are waiting…”

    I will leave the long debates to others who wish to do so. I have read a few articles on this site and in other places learning about this subject. Thanks to this blogsite for posting this information. It is informative. This movement being described here is affecting Youth With A Mission, a group I was a part of many years ago for a short period of time.

    I am quoting the above to say the following. While I have not read every single word in everyone’s reply, I have read a substantial portion of it. Those opposing Carl’s ideas and teaching as heresy have not been mean-spirited or condecending. In fact, their words have been well thought and patient. They have been bold and forthright, but consdecending? No. The statement above, however, is. It is consdecending and rather arrogant, in fact, to suppose that a child of God cannot speak on these things until they have “walked in your shoes.” Friend, God has not given us experience to judge error by, but Scripture and Scripture alone.

  16. Hello All, I just want to remind that the comments sections, for the better or worse, is completely unmoderated. We’re always in discussion about this policy, but for now, that’s the policy.

    We do encourage everyone to follow our self-regulated rule, “Please comment and write responsibly in a manner befitting God’s glory.”

    Of course we all have different opinions on how to carry this out.

    Also, keep in mind, that one individual does not necessarily reflect the group. We all have diverse views on this site, especially so the comments.

    Thanks and keep commenting and discussing these issues, as they are indeed important to understanding, drawing closer to, and glorifying God.

  17. Douglas

    And may the Lord forgive your unbelievable arrogance. I’ve never “met” someone like you before, so not even sure what to think. I’m surprised they continue to all you to write on this site!

  18. “I’m so confused by where you’re going with this.”

    Every comment I make is in response to specific things you’ve written or asked. You tout orthodoxy while you argue heretical duplicity. You evade veracious, biblically sound counterpoints that clearly demonstrate that you are in error and seem not to care. Your words convey the sense that you are more interested in your own philosophical perspective than the truth of God’s word. You write like an apologist for the demonic methodology of pigeonholing Christianity with Islam and your comments on this blog attest to that. May the Lord bring you to repentance.

  19. Douglas

    I’m so confused by where you’re going with this. You are speaking to me as if I’m a universalist and don’t believe that Muslims need to know Christ to be saved. Where did you get that idea? Do you think I don’t believe those scriptures you quoted so you needed to remind me? I have been SO clear in my communication and have no idea why you’re confused. I’m sorry about that. But I think we’ve reached the end of our discussion as you aren’t able to see or hear my points.

  20. Carl,
    Here is my answer to your questions. Mostly it is verses of Scripture.
    “1.Do Jews worship the right god (or the same one as us)? 2. Do Catholics? 3. When an unbeliever prays with sincerity for the first time and God (the real one) answers – is it okay that this unbeliever may have been picturing some crazed old man in a white beard who wants to strike him dead, kind of god?”

    “‘Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2.36-41).

    Notice that Peter was speaking to “the house of Israel”. Likely, this group was in Jerusalem for Pentecost and it was likely they worshiped the God of their fathers but Peter called them to repentance: “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God” (Romans. 2.29). Luke wrote, “So those who received his word” meaning, not all the “Brothers” (v. 37) repented.

    Read what the Bible says about the conversion of Lydia:
    “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized…” (Acts 16.13, ff.). It is possible to be “a worshiper of God” (v. 14) and not be a Christian. Conversion is made possible as the Lord opens hearts to the gospel (v. 14).

    “Jesus said, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day'” (John 6.44). This applies to Catholics, Greeks like Lydia (who was likely a Jewish proselyte), the house of Israel, and the whole world.

    Carl, it is the Covenant of Promise through which we are justified by faith: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’ This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7.21, f.). The truth about Muslims is they are outside the covenant of promise: “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe…. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Ga. 3.22, 29). Biblically it is undeniable that if one does not believe in Jesus, the One you said Muslims do not believe in [“…the God who’s wrath needs atonement (Although Muslims do not believe that is provided through Christ.) So is it the same God? Of course it is.”], they are not saved.

    Like the above and the following example, you are duplicitous in your theology: (e.g. “Muhammad is not the final messenger as Muslims believe. However, it is no great step for us to say that he may have pointed people towards the one true God. And that, like many O.T. Prophets, he failed.”). You are heretical and this verse of Scripture pertains especially to you: “There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3.16).

  21. Douglas

    At this point, the discussion has become humorous. If you finish by saying “My God have mercy on me” one more time – I might actually fall out of my easy chair laughing. I’m trying to take you seriously, but it’s hard. But…for the sake of having fun, I’ll try once more.

    (By the way, just because you pick out a bunch of verses and insert them into the text, doesn’t give your points any more credibility – that’s easy to do).

    So… It’s seems that your #1 beef is that I think that the god of the Muslims and the god of the Christians is the same one. Then you quote a bunch of verses from the Bible and the Qur’an that in your mind “prove” that they are different gods.

    Let me ask you some questions:

    1. Do Jews worship the right god (or the same one as us)?
    2. Do Catholics?
    3. When an unbeliever prays with sincerity for the first time and God (the real one) answers – is it okay that this unbeliever may have been picturing some crazed old man in a white beard who wants to strike him dead, kind of god?

    Douglas, I’ve never said that Muslims believe in God correctly. They obviously believe a lot of things the same as we do. So whether they have him 20% right or 70% right, I don’t know. And whether the percentage they have wrong is the key parts – well, I might agree with that.

    But this doesn’t mean it’s a different god or an idol. It just means they need a relationship with Christ to see God clearly.

    Why is that so hard to understand?

    Your best friend
    cm

  22. Here’s the “God” that Muslims believe in: He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He created and loves us…. Carl Medearis

    Here’s the Jesus Muslims believe in: “Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not “Trinity” : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son” (Qur’an 4.171).

    Here’s the Creator identified in the Bible: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1.16-18).

    Carl, the creator you say is the god Muslims worship is not the Creator, Jesus Christ! Both the Bible and the Qur’an bear that out. You are presenting a mongrel and not the Creator. You, Carl, are committing idolatry for the Bible says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20.2-3). And the New Testament says of this God that brought Israel out of Egypt, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5). You are in error Carl: “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4.6). Carl Medearis, you wander in error; may God have mercy on you.

  23. Douglas

    Ok, I think I’ve got it. Your main issue is that I think Allah is God. I’ve dealt with that clearly in several papers I’ve written on my website. Not sure how my position on that could be misunderstood. I know what you really mean to say is this – is the deity that Muslims worship the same as the deity that we worship. I know you don’t mean to say “Is Allah God” since that doesn’t even make sense. So I understand that. Fair enough. And I think I’ve gone to great lengths to clarify.

    In your response here you say this: “…clearly indicates that you believe there are good verses in the Qur’an. You obviously believe this about a book that strikes ultimately at the very heart of the gospel! It’s certainly your prerogative to do so but don’t ask Christians to accept as valid your preference.”

    Do I believe there is truth in the Qur’an or “good verses?” Of course. All truth is God’s truth. Dickens has truth in his books to. So that surely can’t be an issue.

    Not sure where you get the second part of the statement. Of course I don’t think the Qur’an “strikes at the heart of the gospel.” Not sure why you’d even think that. Have you not heard me say that I don’t even use the Qur’an in witness?

    Once again, your guilty of lumping a lot of people and strategies together, creating a big scary straw man, then shooting it down. Fun stuff, just not very helpful. Still looking for you to point out and name the specific “heresy” that you think I’m intentionally or stupidly propagating.

    carl

  24. Carl, the following is how you dismissed my refutation of your beliefs: “At this point, it does become clear that some are not wanting to learn, but already have their minds made up.” If you are wondering exactly what the heresies are, then read the following and respond directly to it. For you to ask me to respond a second time to what you have written is somewhat curious since you haven’t responded for the first time specifically to what I have written.

    From Douglas’ post dated May 13, 2010 at 02:29:
    Carl said, “So at one level, we’re asking this question of Muslims: Do they REALLY know God? And I would ask: Do we?” So, he proposes that “really knowing God” is the issue. One must admit that one’s knowledge of all things is limited, especially knowledge of God. Furthermore, the idea of gradations of knowledge deepens the issue and makes his argument more persuasive as if the issue really is one of quality of knowledge, but it’s not. Really the issue is belief: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5. 4-5). As you see, to the apostle John, quality of knowledge is not the issue; belief, and not quality of belief, is the issue. And who is it, he says, we are to believe in? Jesus, the Son of God! It is the object of belief and not its quality that is important according to the Bible.

    Carl wrote the following: “C. Here’s the “God” that Muslims believe in: He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He created and loves us. He is the All-powerful (omnipotent), the all-knowing (omniscient), and the all-present (omnipresent). He is the eternal judge. He is fully holy and righteous. And he is the God who saves, heals, comforts, offers compassion and mercy – and the God who’s wrath needs atonement (Although Muslims do not believe that is provided through Christ). So is it the same God? Of course it is. Do Muslims have full revelation of who he is and who Jesus is? No. Do they need that understanding? Yes. See, those two questions are easy to answer with one word.”
    “So is it the same God? Of course it is.”, Carl says. But I say how can Allah be the God of the Bible when Jesus is the Son of God? Carl has the temerity to state parenthetically “…although Muslims do not believe that is provided through Christ”, as if Muslims’ belief in god is saving and almost and sufficiently the same belief in God Christians have! He proposes that his concession that they need “full revelation” and “that understanding” not only explains but also excuses the difference between Christians and Muslims. Carl intends the interchangeability of the names ‘God’ and ‘Allah’ as a premise for engendering the conflated idea that Christians and Muslims are mutually within the kingdom of God but they are not. The object of Muslim belief in god is not the object of the biblical belief in God because the Bible says, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2.22). This is why I ask, how can Allah be the God of the Bible when Jesus is the Son of God? The Qur’an says, “They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is Christ the son of Mary…!’ ‘They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a trinity….’ ‘Christ the son of Mary was no more than an apostle; Many were the apostles that passed away before him'”; and “It is not befitting to Allah that He should beget a son” (Qur’an 5.72, 73, 75; 19.35). To say this diametric merely represents deficient understanding is belied by the fact that the understanding that Carl claims Muslims lack is specifically understood and unequivocally opposed in the qur’anic verses!

    From Carl’s post dated July 6, 2010:
    The fact that you don’t think Allah is God, for instance, isn’t a heresy. [You, Carl, said that you do.]
    From Douglas’ post dated May 13, 2010 at 10:56 p.m.:
    When you list the attributes of the God of the Bible that you claim are also of the god of the Qur’an and effectively say, therefore, these two entities must be one and the same you obviously are conflating the two. You said, “Is it the same God? Of course it is.” Your willingness to insist that I am unfairly lumping together “all the bad verses of the Qur’an” [from Carl’s post dated May 13, 2010] clearly indicates that you believe there are good verses in the Qur’an. You obviously believe this about a book that strikes ultimately at the very heart of the gospel! It’s certainly your prerogative to do so but don’t ask Christians to accept as valid your preference. You are asking the body of Christ to, as it were, “strain out the gnat but swallow whole the camel”. Whether you intend to be propagating heresy, you are.

    From Carl’s post dated July 6, 2010:
    Or how I say things – can’t be heresy.

    How we say things, especially when we provide context that supplies meaning by which the whole of what is said is clarified, is how we express what we believe. Anselm spoke to the validity of human rationale: “I would like you to agree, however, to accept all my statements this way: if I should say anything which a greater authority does not confirm―even though I seem to prove it by reason―it is not to be accepted as any more settled than that I think it probable, until God in some way manifests it to me with greater clarity” (Why God Became Man, p. 67). We agree with Anselm I’m sure but the problem with your assertion that “how I say things – can’t be heresy” is that those things you’ve said aren’t even approximately biblical and they tend to pigeonhole Christianity with Islam. The question that many have about you is whether you are in error willfully, or, terribly mistaken but in good faith.

  25. Douglas

    I just now had time to re-read my interview, then your responses as well as mine… I’m wondering exactly what the heresies are that you think I haven’t answered. Make them specific. The fact that you don’t think Allah is God, for instance, isn’t a heresy. Or how I say things – can’t be heresy. What is the false doctrine. I’d love to hear from you on that.

  26. I had not heard of Carl until Urbana this past December. I wanted to read some of his books to find out more about him. I enjoyed the interview. It was good for him to make himself available here. Like Carl I agree we must like muslims or better yet enjoy spending time with them. However, that is not the same as loving Islam. Many people are interested in C-5 ideas because they have a deep desire to see more fruit in their ministries. I have a deep love and sympathy for them.

    I do have two concerns. First, I worked for ten years in the arab world and saw many people come to faith in Jesus and commit their lives to Him. In the fall of 2007 I noticed some troubling attitudes showing themselves in some fellow-workers.They accused myself and many others of “not loving the people” and “deliberately trying to destroy families.” This came out of nowhere so it made me wonder what was going on. I assumed that this had something to do with things in America so through googling several names I became aware of the Insider Movement. Probably carl does not make these accusations, but many do and of cause people to get angry and maybe say things back. Of course this is not right. But I can testify that arrogance is not the exclusive domain of the opponents of C-5.

    My other big concern with the C-5 proponents is that many (although not all ) are affected by the emergent church. Just recently I saw a recommendations of a book by Samir Selmanovic called It’s Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian. I was shocked to see Carl’s name alongside Karen Armstrong, Marcus Borg, and Brian McLaren as recommending the book. The book definitely leans towards syncretism and universalism. I really believe that the Emergent Village (which Selimanovic is a board member of) is just as much a problem theologically as the Jehovah Witnesses. I think many people don’t really understand the problems with post-modernism and the Emergent church. Example, Borg would definitely not believe in God in the same way we would. Also he certainly does not believe in the resurrection and has hinted that he believes that the Passion Narratives are church tradition. These types of ideas totally leave Christianity guttless. Now of course just because Carl recommends the same book that Borg does , does not mean he totally agrees with him. However, I have found that many C-5 proponents are very much into Emergent books , esp. McLaren’s. This I do find disturbing.

  27. There’s one thing I need to draw your attention regarding the mission to other religions. This is my understanding. We do not need to build bridges between Christianity and other religions. It is heretic. There’s already one bridge between God and men – The Cross. All other bridges are false and leading to destruction.
    I have a question. Why do many Christians think that they are saving souls? Since when we are so almighty to carry out salvation? We preach – God saves. We share Gospel – The Holy Spirit touches. Why do we consider ourselves better than Spirit? Why do we limit His power? Why do we take His role onto ourselves? Where is our faith?

  28. Georges, I like what you wrote brother. And I agree with you. I hope my earlier comment was not taken as divisive. Rather, I felt a need to balance out the perspectives in the comments section, as I felt that the majority of the comments were very “anti” Carl – as he was undergoing personal attacks. And I don’t think that such “reflection” is honoring to God. It’s one thing to disagree with someone else’s approach to ministry. But it’s another to start calling names and labeling…

  29. “If evangelical Christianity is to stay alive she must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of!” – A.W. Tozer

  30. Dear readers,
    We decided not to sensor the comments to allow freedom of expression and an open forum that would encourage us to hear each other. I am glad there is a debate going on. I really think this is healthy because for long, the two camps have not heard each other. Each speaks to his own choir. However, if the debate becomes an opportunity to vent our anger and frustration with each other, we have lost our vision and have allowed the enemy to distract us from the real battle.

    I ask for restraint and for wisdom in how to respond. A healthy debate is more likely when it is carried out in a spirit of humility and love.

    Frankly, reading these posts is burdensome on me. There is a healthy dialog and there is a nasty fight. What do you really want?

    I see us picking on words and phrases. No one can say everything just right. No one is completely right. We all see things dimly and we are all ignorant of the full truth. Look at the spirit of what is said and address the issues at hand.

    What I desire to see happen is this: That “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

    Have you ever sharpened a knife? Sharpening requires skill and care. You can blunt the object you wish to sharpen or you can hurt yourself. Let us not do that.

    People are more likely willing to learn from each other when they do not feel attacked. While the flesh wants to lash on the opposition, the spirit tells me: Love love love.

    Our battle is not against flesh and blood Ephesians 6:12

    No matter how much we disagree on all the issues, we need to still treat each other with love and respect. I am just asking you not to attack the person. Deal with the issues.

    I have chosen not to answer the attacks on me personally. Because I am not the issue. The issues are the issue.

    No one fought heresy more that Jesus and Paul. Yet I do not see Jesus or Paul consumed by it. Do not allow the fight between us to detract us from the fight against the forces of evil.
    Love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

    Does this mean we must not be passionate about our convictions? I say no. There is a lot a stake. There are false teachings. There are unbiblical concepts and strategies being promoted. I want this blog to help those who are confused to find biblical answers that will help them navigate the ocean of missiology. Please write helpful comments. Share scriptures that help us understand God’s heart.

  31. At this point, it does become clear that some are not wanting to learn, but already have their minds made up. So to the Houssneys and to Mr. Pirkey, I say – God bless you. I hope your strategies honor God and bring many to him. And I’m sure some will see Christ through your lives. But I cannot continue to communicate with you in the tones you bring to the table.

    However, I would like to have reasonable discussions with those who have ears to hear. In an attempt to further define some of the legitimate concerns and questions – I will offer another attempt with some bullet points:

    1. The Christ I preach is the only one I know – from the Bible. To suggest otherwise would be unbelievably arrogant. There is, in fact, only one real Jesus – the son of God and the one by which we are saved. There’s isn’t another one. Muslims believe in this Jesus, imperfectly. That’s why people like us exist.

    2. I actually like Muslims. Not just “love” them in some sort of spiritual sense, but like them in a very practical, hang-out-with-them-on-Friday-night sense.

    To illustrate with a humorous example, yesterday we were sitting around the table as a family and were listening to a video someone had sent us. It began with the call to prayer. Our middle child – a very bright 18 year old about to graduate high school, who grew up in Beirut, said – “Oh, I miss that. I wish we had a mosque next to our house.”

    We all laughed but she was serious. That’s “liking Muslims” and their culture – not just trying to do outreach to get them saved. Do we want them in the Kingdom of God (through a personal relationship with Jesus)? Of course. But targeting them for outreach as many missionaries do, versus loving them as people is a HUGE difference and leads to significant changes in all kinds of ways.

    3. The lack of ability to understand nuance in some Christian circles amazes me. For the gentleman from Biola to think that I was bashing Christians and the Church is absurd and only shows that he didn’t listen carefully.

    For me to say “I don’t call myself a Christian because it is a totally misunderstood term in the Muslim world” and then to equate that with bashing Christians is ridiculous. Or to say “I don’t invite Muslims who have come, or are coming, to Jesus to a Church” and turn that into somehow not recognizing that there is both a universal Body of Christ as well as local expressions of that body – is amazing.

    Since the Bible is full of different ways to express who we are and what we’re part of – why would someone think that we only need to say two words: Christians and Church? Why not feel free to use other biblical illustrations like the family of God, friends, believers, the gathering, called out ones, followers, people of the way…and on and on.

    So it’s a semantical game to say we MUST call ourselves “Christians” and that we go to “church” on Sundays. It’s a game that wasn’t played by the original followers of Jesus. So why would anyone misunderstand my lack of desire to use the word “Christian” with some kind of heresy? It must be due to the fact that that’s the only word you’re used to hearing so you think it’s The Right Word to use.

    4. Fruit is a legitimate means of discerning good strategy. The very obvious lack of fruit from the modern evangelical western crowd towards the Muslim world is well-documented. I think we’re all aware of the fact that in the last 200 years or so of modern missions, there have only been trickles of Muslims coming to Christ. There have been more in the last 20 years or so, and there are many reasons for that, but overall the lack of fruit is glaring.

    So new methodologies and strategies should be welcomed by anyone as something that “might work.” You’re right in saying that the verdict is still out on C-5 and IM approaches. It’s still not clear to me either. But rather than arrogantly writing it off as heresy – as if you’re the only one who knows scripture and has “biblical” missiology, is unfair and perhaps itself a bit of heresy.

    5. Arab Christians who are believers and Arab Muslims who have joined Christianity have a certain take that is hard to argue with – they appear to be insiders and we should listen to them. And they are fond of pointing to the likes of me and saying “You Westerners just don’t understand.”

    but I have found it to be the opposite many times. Those who come from Arab Christian backgrounds and have lived in the culture – often growing up “against” the encroachment of Islam on their Christian Territory and have lots of prejudices to overcome. They are many times the ones who are most filled with angry suspicion of Muslims. I can understand. It’s not right, but understandable.

    Getting a Lebanese Christian who has come to Christ to “cross the border” and minister to Muslims in a way that is loving and that bears fruit is rare indeed. Most that attempt to do so end of extracting a handful into their churches and cutting them off from any further witness to their community. And the numbers of these Muslims are still in the dozens only….(In any given major city in the Arab world).

    And a Muslim who has become a Christian (in the sense of joining the religion), often has even more issues with Muslims. THey came OUT of something and it’s very hard for them to go back IN to rescue their formers friends and family. We’ve all surely seen the former Catholic or Mormon who gets saved and then actually hates his former religion and way, thus disabling any future relationship with those people. It’s a tragedy.

    6. Finally, we have never experienced fear or a feeling like we’re going to get in trouble because we’re proclaiming Christ and the Muslims will be angry. So maybe that seems weird to some. Just so you know – because someone will bring this up – we have been persecuted. Been in jail 4 times. Rocks thrown at us. Wife spit on. Kidnapped once. Kicked out of a country twice. So we know the cost. But we have never felt fear. We don’t sneak around. We don’t use code language.

    What’s ironic about discussions like this one is that among most who know me in the Arab world – and for sure amongst Muslims there – I am constantly in trouble for preaching too directly. I have preached the Cross in a mosque (specifically the death and resurrection). I made personal visits to every member of Parliament in Lebanon and gave them a gospel in Arabic. And prayed with them. I have preached on Hezbollah TV.

    So come on. Stop with the condescending attitudes here. Come with me if you have the guts. And I will put you in situations that will cause you to wet yourself. Or….once you’ve walked in my shoes for a year – or ten – then lets talk again. Until then, jump down off the theological high horses some are on and get back to work. Muslims are waiting….

  32. Abdul,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I hope the Christians from the Muslim background, who are arab will feel free to respond.

    You said:

    I’m glad Biblical Missiology did this interview with Carl. But reading the questions and the comments, I fear it was merely a ploy to use this platform to bash Carl for preconceived notions of his ministry. It’s good to debate these issues, but I sense a real lack of grace on the part of this blog. If this blog is to be taken seriously by the missiological community (outside of it’s own circles), I feel it will need to follow it’s own advice more: “Please comment and write responsibly in a manner befitting God’s glory.”

    Biblical Missiology did this interview with questions that have been raised. We actually had about 30 questions most of which I summarized to the ones asked. Some, I simply couldn’t ask. Some of these questions have been raised by people who know Carl personally, and have not received clear answers. Absolutely, they do point to things that we have concerns with. A general interview would not have been able to answer our questions. Carl has had many general interviews. Our goal is not to bash any ministry and certainly no one person, but to analyze all in light of the Word of God. Not to question whether or not results happen. We believe God handles results. But rather to see if the strategy is glorifying and therefore something we should get involved with, or if unbiblical, stand against.

    Comments are NOT moderated on this group, and what someone may say does not represent all. Our goal is to ask questions, present what we hope and pray are Biblical views, and let our readers think about, analyze and comment on them. That is why this journal should be taken seriously, because the layman reads it, and can discern for themselves as to its value.

    Perhaps these unmoderated comments are not as glorifying as all would like, but we must also understand that some of these comments come out of frustration for strategies portrayed, and the frustrations are shared by many, and have grounded basis.

  33. Abdul, you said, “Jesus said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32) And this is exactly what Carl is doing. He’s got the guts to swallow his pride and not lift up anything else – not “Christianity” not “Church” and not anything else that 1 billion Muslims inherently find offensive and therefore write off Jesus.”

    But it is Jesus they really have written off for the Jesus Muslims accept is the jesus of the Qur’an and not the revealed Jesus of Scripture whom they do find offensive. If Carl would lift up the biblical Jesus we would know it by his actions and words but he instead seems very intent on establishing at all costs parity between Islam and Christianity. This is not humble or “grace-filled” behavior; it’s heretical.

    Tell me Abdul, when you share Christ, what do you say about Jesus, the Son of God?

  34. I live and work in the Arabian Peninsula, in an extremist nation where every day when I walk out of my front door, I do not know if I will return – because of my witness of Jesus Christ among a hostile people. When you live in this kind of world every day, you begin to see the depth of the brainwashing that a lot of folks have gone through, and you begin to gain a sense of humility about everything you thought you knew before – aka the things that we western evangelicals think are so dear to us (such as semantics). But here you quickly learn that you have one and only one core message – Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. And this is what Carl understands but many of the folks on this blog seem to fail to grasp. I don’t mean to call the “Church” or “Christianity” “merely semantics” – by no means! But we need to learn how to redefine terms to put them in ways that Muslims can understand them, so they can see who Jesus really is, and not as a hostage of the Western church!

    Carl, while i may not agree with absolutely everything you write or share, I want you to know that I stand with you and the mission that the Lord Jesus is giving you to bring understanding to a part of the world where there is no understanding. In that way, I do agree with your approach and your heart in the work that you do. Again, I think that folks who haven’t lived in the backyard of Hezbullah or Al-Qaeda as we have can’t begin to understand the laying down of our prized western theological semantics for the sake of the Gospel.

    I realize that some of the Arab Christian believers who blog on this site might disagree with me, as they have suffered much at the hands of Muslims over the years! But I would suggest that this historic tension between the ancient Christian Arab church as Islam has colored their perspective in a very negative way. Even so, they are entitled to their opinion of what it takes to bring the Gospel to Muslims. Yet I would ask them to have a bit more grace on those of us who differ in our approach -we are willing to die as well – and many of us already have.

    I myself am NOT big a C5 proponent. In fact, I share a lot of the same reservations that the authors of this blog have! However, I must admit that I do in fact see Muslims who come to faith and want to remain in the Mosque to draw out seekers – and sometimes it works! Although I wouldn’t urge them to do so, if this is what they want to do, who I am to stop them? Eventually they come out of the Mosque and identify more with the global Church, thank God. At least that’s what I have seen. Anyways, if the folks at Biblical Missiology truly want to engage in the Insider Movement debate I suggest having a bit more grace. And I also suggest not pigeonholing guys like Carl who actually says very little about all that, and continues to focus on Jesus.

    Jesus said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32) And this is exactly what Carl is doing. He’s got the guts to swallow his pride and not lift up anything else – not “Christianity” not “Church” and not anything else that 1 billion Muslims inherently find offensive and therefore write off Jesus.

    I’m glad Biblical Missiology did this interview with Carl. But reading the questions and the comments, I fear it was merely a ploy to use this platform to bash Carl for preconceived notions of his ministry. It’s good to debate these issues, but I sense a real lack of grace on the part of this blog. If this blog is to be taken seriously by the missiological community (outside of it’s own circles), I feel it will need to follow it’s own advice more: “Please comment and write responsibly in a manner befitting God’s glory.”

  35. Recently, Carl Medaris came to Biola for our missions conference. He was captivating for our students. After all, he sat with terrorists and is unafraid to speak about Jesus.

    When I walked away from his talk, I turned to Josh Lingel and said,
    “I’ve never heard anyone engage in church bashing in a nicer way.”

    Carl related story after story of how he refused to speak about Christianity, call himself a Christian, or speak of the church, but he insisted he would only speak about Jesus. So what’s wrong with this? Isn’t Jesus the one we are in love with?

    Sure! I agree, but it’s not so much what he said as what he didn’t say – and what most IMers or IM-leaners don’t say: once you put your faith in Jesus you now a member of his body. Like it or not, you are part of the church, the bride, the body of Christ. Even without putting in membership at a local congregation, every man, woman and child who trusts in Jesus – who Medearis insists was not a Christian (I ask: whoever said he was?) – is now part of Christ and his body, the church.

    When we say we follow Jesus, what are we communicating to Muslims? When Muslims ask us if we are Christian, why, like Medearis, do we hide behind “follower of Isa al-masih” business? If we are afraid of Muslim perception of “Christian” and “church” let’s change the perception! Let’s not obfuscate or hesitate to be willing to be misunderstood! Medearis and others are fostering a sense of unnecessary shame for what may have happened in the past (i.e., persecution of non-Christians, crusades, colonialism, etc.).

    It’s time we stood up for the church. Let’s not bash it by remaining silent, allowing Muslims their ill-conceived perceptions of the beloved bride of Christ!

  36. Carl, I carefully read your entire interview. As I wrote I was quite calm, peaceful really as I mulled over the things you wrote. It was a prayerful time of discernment that included looking into God’s word and referring to the Qur’an. I’m passionate about refuting deception of the worst kind and if you sensed anything it was that and perhaps whatever feelings you were having about what I wrote. You are pigeonholing Christianity with Islam for which you need to repent.

    When you list the attributes of the God of the Bible that you claim are also of the god of the Qur’an and effectively say, therefore, these two entities must be one and the same you obviously are conflating the two. You said, “Is it the same God? Of course it is.” Your willingness to insist that I am unfairly lumping together “all the bad verses of the Qur’an” clearly indicates that you believe there are good verses in the Qur’an. You obviously believe this about a book that strikes ultimately at the very heart of the gospel! It’s certainly your prerogative to do so but don’t ask Christians to accept as valid your preference. You are asking the body of Christ to, as it were, “strain out the gnat but swallow whole the camel”. Whether you intend to be propagating heresy, you are.

    For what reason did you chose not to respond to the many biblical specifics of my post of yesterday? Remember, the Bible says, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John 9-11). You, Carl, are not bringing the teaching of Christ for you are making an accommodation for those who reject both the Father and the Son.

  37. Carl wrote:

    “So at one level, we’re asking this question of Muslims: Do they REALLY know God? And I would ask: Do we? Of all the percentage of God there is to know (presumably 100%), how much do you know of Him? Think about it. Maybe 1%? I think I’m probably up to .000001% of knowing all there is to know about God. We’ve just decided that we know the right .01%. The bit that is “good enough” and the .000001% that Muslims know about God isn’t good enough. (Which may be true, by the way. I’m not arguing against the point of “knowing enough” as it’s a good point.)”

    The problem with this thought is that when the Bible talks of “Knowing God” in a saving way, it is not speaking of “knowing” merely in the accumulation of accurate facts. Carl here conflates the issue. Biblically, to “know God” is about an entry into Kingdom relationship upon the foundation of the truth of God’s revelation of himself, specifically as that revelation was in Jesus. (Not the Isa revealed in the Quran which is a bastardized Jesus flowing out of demonic revelation – but the Jesus of the NT). Carl here tries to back Christians down by trying to speak to how our inadequate knowledge quantitatively isn’t that much better than the Muslim’s inadequate knowledge quantitatively. This is entirely a red herring. The point isn’t intellectual facts, but being “in Christ” and “of Christ”…which by definition is “Christian.”

    I don’t know Carl. I do commend his efforts to build bridges. However, his answers clearly indicated a representation of Christianity that denigrates the fullness of Jesus. He has tried – rather than presenting Jesus in the fullness of who he is – to reduce Jesus to what we have in common. That makes it inoffensive. It allows a Muslim to become a “follower of Jesus” without repentance and a repudiation of the demonic religion and revelation coming out of the Quran. He is now a “follower of Jesus” but not “of Christ” as the word Christian implies… Douglas is right. Carl’s presentation of the gospel is filled with many truths…but it is a presentation which deminishes Jesus and bypasses the cross which requires repentance. As such, his presentation as articulated here represents a teaching which must be called heretical.

  38. Wow, thank you. I do indeed, need mercy!

    You say this: Carl intends the interchangeability of the names ‘God’ and ‘Allah’ as a premise for engendering the conflated idea that Christians and Muslims are mutually within the kingdom of God but they are not.

    Maybe you didn’t read what I wrote carefully, but I say exactly the opposite. In fact, your whole (seemingly quite angry) argument shows you missed most of my points. Maybe I didn’t state them clearly – probably.

    But I do think I clearly stated that neither people calling themselves Muslims or Christians are in the kingdom of God unless they have “a belief in, submission to and a following of Jesus Christ as the One and Only.”

    I haven’t been called a “Sophist” before (one who intentionally deceives with clever arguments). And I don’t even think anyone has said I was “propagating heresy.” Not sure what to think about that since you don’t know me and have decided that from what I’ve written above (which is very clearly calling Muslims to follow Jesus). Seems there’s more going on here. Or you’re putting something on me that you’ve heard from others.

    And…in the end…you should feel totally free to think that Muslims believe in a demon, a moon god, an idol, or whatever.

    And you’re completely free to find all the bad verses of the Quran and lump them together making a compelling argument “against Muslims.” Many have done that. And it’s quite easy to do.

    And we can do that with Catholics and Jews. And each other. I don’t often see Jesus doing that, but we often do.

    Jesus, was indeed hard on people – his own religious leaders. But to the outsiders, the sinners, lepers, prostitutes, Samaritans, – he was extremely grace-filled. Seemed he was more on the truth side of things with his own people and more on the grace side with those deemed “enemies of the gospel.”

    Shouldn’t we exhibit the same level of grace that Jesus did to outsiders? Meeting them where they are at rather than asking them first to agree with our theology about them? Jesus even uses a Samaritan (read: Muslim) as the hero of his story. When the 12 want to call down fire on the Samaritan village that wouldn’t let him pass through (some good O.T. theology they must have gotten from Elijah) – Jesus not only said no, but rebuked them. Then walked around the village – adding 4 or 5 days to his trip to Jerusalem. And it was then that he told the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    Jesus came full of both grace and truth. We need to be adept at when to use which.

  39. In March of this year I preached from 1 Corinthians, chapter one. In preparation for that, my background study brought me to Sophism, its emergence on the scene of ancient Athens, and its impact that remarkably can be seen in the behavior of the church in ancient Corinth hundreds of years later. The original group of sophists arrived in Athens about the time it was a fledgling democracy. As a school of philosophical thought it capitalized on the political dynamic of its day and began emphasizing rhetoric and the training of rhetoricians whose ambitions were political in nature. But the harbinger of Sophism’s success was Sophism’s denigration of Athenian belief. The sophists pointed out to the Athenians their failure to live fully congruently with their beliefs and this set the stage for the relativizing of Athenian cultural values. As people became convinced that their values were valid only insofar as they were able to live by them, the ensuing invalidation of their beliefs once absolute in nature was inevitable, human beings being fallible by nature. The Athenians allowed themselves to be defined by their shortcomings and the sophists used their shortcomings to separate the Athenians from what they held dear. I believe Carl Medearis is sophist.

    Carl seems expert at setting up a proposition that is binding in that there is truth to what he says. But the strength of his argument is also its weakness: the point of truth he makes is irrelevant to The truth! It is easy to be led astray into an entanglement of emotions as one acknowledges the validity of his point. Having agreed with him at least in part, the tendency is to begin to subordinate oneself to the fact that he is right about something and it becomes more difficult to think in disagreement. With the convincing nature of how we then feel we become distanced or separated from what we really believe. This describes the strength of his argument. Its weakness, on the other hand, is so simple to understand one wonders how it could ever be effective. Carl said, “So at one level, we’re asking this question of Muslims: Do they REALLY know God? And I would ask: Do we?” So, he proposes that “really knowing God” is the issue. One must admit that one’s knowledge of all things is limited, especially knowledge of God. Furthermore, the idea of gradations of knowledge deepens the issue and makes his argument more persuasive as if the issue really is one of quality of knowledge, but it’s not. Really the issue is belief: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5. 4-5). As you see, to the apostle John, quality of knowledge is not the issue; belief, and not quality of belief, is the issue. And who is it, he says, we are to believe in? Jesus, the Son of God! It is the object of belief and not its quality that is important according to the Bible. It’s no wonder that it is that very belief whose object is the Son of God that the Qur’an so demonically opposes: “…That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise…” (Qur’an 4.156, ff.) It is Carl and not the church that needs to “jump off [his] high horse”!

    Carl wrote the following: “C. Here’s the “God” that Muslims believe in: He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He created and loves us. He is the All-powerful (omnipotent), the all-knowing (omniscient), and the all-present (omnipresent). He is the eternal judge. He is fully holy and righteous. And he is the God who saves, heals, comforts, offers compassion and mercy – and the God who’s wrath needs atonement (Although Muslims do not believe that is provided through Christ). So is it the same God? Of course it is. Do Muslims have full revelation of who he is and who Jesus is? No. Do they need that understanding? Yes. See, those two questions are easy to answer with one word.”

    “So is it the same God? Of course it is.”, Carl says. But I say how can Allah be the God of the Bible when Jesus is the Son of God? Carl has the temerity to state parenthetically “…although Muslims do not believe that is provided through Christ”, as if Muslims’ belief in god is saving and almost and sufficiently the same belief in God Christians have! He proposes that his concession that they need “full revelation” and “that understanding” not only explains but also excuses the difference between Christians and Muslims. Carl intends the interchangeability of the names ‘God’ and ‘Allah’ as a premise for engendering the conflated idea that Christians and Muslims are mutually within the kingdom of God but they are not. The object of Muslim belief in god is not the object of the biblical belief in God because the Bible says, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2.22). This is why I ask, how can Allah be the God of the Bible when Jesus is the Son of God? The Qur’an says, “They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is Christ the son of Mary…!’ ‘They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a trinity….’ ‘Christ the son of Mary was no more than an apostle; Many were the apostles that passed away before him'”; and “It is not befitting to Allah that He should beget a son” (Qur’an 5.72, 73, 75; 19.35). To say this diametric merely represents deficient understanding is belied by the fact that the understanding that Carl claims Muslims lack is specifically understood and unequivocally opposed in the qur’anic verses!

    Carl Medearis is propagating heresy. May the Son of God have mercy on Carl.

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