Introduction

The following is from a document produced by Erik Hyatt, pastor for Global Outreach at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is the church John Piper pastors. Members seeking support to reach Muslims are required to answer all the questions. Then the Missions Committee (Global Outreach Team) reviews and discusses their answers with the candidates at their interview for support.

- Georges Houssney

Introduction from Bethlehem Baptist Church

As the Lord continues to move the nations over the face of the earth, tens of thousands of Muslims are arriving on our doorstep here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Due to this providence of God and the great desire of many of our global partners to go to Muslim nations around the world we drafted this contextualization guide for working with Muslim peoples:

“We believe that the Bible governs and fuels missiological practice. Our strategies, therefore, must stem from a biblical-theological understanding rather than pragmatic considerations. We believe that the gospel works to transform cultures, rather than to simply redeem culture.  Our ultimate aim in contextualization is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God, through the exaltation of Jesus Christ, for the joy and deliverance of all peoples in bondage to Christ-denying religions – particularly the millions in bondage to Islam.”

We require all of our cross-cultural ministers to work through these contextualization questions and biblical considerations as they develop a philosophy of ministry for working with Muslims.  We hope that these will serve as a helpful guide as you seek to establish a biblically informed foundation for the ministry God has given you across the street or around the world.

Guideline Introduction

Dear Global Partner Candidate,

It brings us great joy to see God raising up laborers from our midst to enter into His harvest among the millions of unreached Muslims throughout the world. As we interact with other missionaries and agencies at work among Muslims, we are encouraged by the praise-worthy progress of the gospel through many creative and culturally-relevant means. At the same time, we also recognize the potential for dangerous misunderstandings to occur as a result of certain contextualization strategies. Therefore, we believe that it is of strategic importance in our partnership with you to discern the theological presuppositions that ground our practical strategies, particularly as it relates to gospel contextualization among Muslims.

We believe that the Bible governs and fuels missiological practice. Our strategies, therefore, must stem from a biblical-theological understanding rather than pragmatic considerations. Our ultimate aim in contextualization is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God, through the exaltation of Jesus Christ, for the joy and deliverance of all peoples in bondage to Christ-denying religions – particularly the millions in bondage to Islam. We long to see members of our body establish missiological strategies that fly the banner of this glorious aim.

We believe that God created all languages on earth (Gen. 11:1-10) and that through the proclamation of the gospel He is gathering worshippers from every tribe, people and language to exalt the risen Christ (Acts 1:8; 2:1-5; Rev. 5:9; 7:9). We believe that some level of contextualization is necessary for the gospel to be effectively proclaimed across ethno-linguistic and cultural barriers. The aim of faithful contextualization is the clear explanation of the gospel in a foreign cultural context. While language and culture are intimately linked, we believe that the gospel aims to transform culture, rather than to simply redeem culture. Thus, as regenerate men and women seek to bring their lives into conformance with Christ, social behaviors, local customs and religious practices radically change (Col. 2:18-23; Acts 19:18-20). Everything once done in ignorance is now to be made obedient to the will of God (1 Peter 1.13-18; Rom 12.1-2). Some cultural practices must be abandoned as they are examined in light of the Scriptures (Acts 15:28- 29; 19:17-20). Practices that do not conflict with apostolic teaching may be reoriented to clearly magnify the greatness of God so that all things are done to the glory of God in Christ. (1 Cor. 10.28-31).

The following questions and their corresponding biblical considerations are aimed at helping our missionaries and candidates think about how to most faithfully and clearly communicate the gospel in their respective contexts. The Biblical guidelines that follow are what we consider to be the key texts and issues that should help inform your answers. During your time of preparation at Bethlehem, the Foreign Missions Committee and I will look forward to working with you as you think through these significant theological issues and their practical implications.

For the exaltation of Christ and the joy of all peoples,

Erik Hyatt, Pastor for Global Outreach

and

The Global Outreach Team

Bethlehem Baptist Church Downtown Campus
720 13th Ave S Minneapolis MN 55415
www.hopeinGod.org | 612.338.7653

Summary Worksheet

Questions to Guide Bethlehem’s Global Partners

Ministering Among Muslim Peoples

Your name:_________________________________            Date: _____________________

Serving where and with what people group: ___________________________________

As a cross-cultural minister of the gospel joyfully called to make disciples of Jesus Christ among Muslims;

1. How will you help a new believer express his identity in Christ within his community?

2. In your ministry context, what aspects of the local culture may be retained and which aspects must be rejected?

3. As a minister of the Gospel, how will you communicate your identity in Christ to those among whom you seek to minister?

4. How will you communicate the identity of Jesus in the language and culture of the context in which you minister?

5. What will cross-bearing look like for new believers in your context? Are new believers truly ready to suffer for Christ? How will you prepare them?

6. How will you present the gospel in such a way that Jesus is the stumbling block (not cultural practices, leadership style, dress, customs, habits)?

7. How will you proclaim the gospel with gentleness, respect, and with all boldness in your host context (especially in highly restricted areas)?

8. How will you demonstrate the supreme and exclusive authority of the Bible among peoples who revere other sacred texts as supreme authority?

9. How will you instruct the new believer in Christ regarding his relationship to his community and mosque?

10. How and when will you distinguish the intrinsic differences between God as he is revealed in the Bible and as he is written about in the Qur’an?

Biblical Considerations to Guide Bethlehem’s Global Partners Ministering Among Muslim Peoples

I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Cor. 9:22-23)

But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor. 4:2)

As a cross-cultural minister of the gospel joyfully called to make disciples of Jesus Christ among Muslims;

1. How will you help a new believer express his identity in Christ within his community?

Biblical considerations: The person who trusts in Christ is a new creation (2Cor 5.17- 18). He is one whom God has miraculously rescued out of the darkness of idolatry and rebellion and into His own family (1Peter 2.9) that he might be to the praise of His glory in Christ (Eph. 1.12). The new believer’s personal identification with Christ is a declaration of this change of allegiance (1Thess 1.9, cf. 1 Kings 18.21). Ethnic, social, economic, gender and class distinctions are no longer that which primarily defines a new believer’s identity (Gal. 3.28-29, 6.15). Rather, for the one who is in Christ, his identity is organically tied to Jesus himself and those elect for whom he died (2 Cor. 6.14). Thus, the new believer’s identity is not to be understood in purely individualistic terms, nor simply hidden within former religious community terms, for he is part of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12.13-27).

Additional questions to consider:

2. What aspects of the culture and former religion should be considered “darkness”, from which new believers in Christ should repent and walk in light (1Jn 1.5-7)?

3. When does the missiological goal of “staying within one’s community,” as new believers in Christ, violate Jesus’ warnings of loving family more than him (Matthew 10:32-39)?

4.  In your ministry context, what aspects of the local culture may be retained and which aspects must be rejected?

Biblical considerations: While ‘culture’ is a morally neutral term, there are positive potentials and intrinsic vulnerabilities in every culture. In a culture that is intimately tied to a religious system, discerning what is to be retained and what is to be rejected is crucial for the clear communication of the gospel – both in the lives of new believers and through their lives to the larger community. The New Birth, allegiance to Christ alone, identification with the local and global expression of Christ’s Church, and the implications of persecution and suffering, are realities that will have a deep impact on this question (Acts 19.17-20). Our emphasis must be the clear communication of the gospel and a clean conscience. We must encourage that which cultivates faith and removes confusion (2 Cor. 4:2; Heb 12.1-2). We must also be careful not to advocate liberties or adherence to former religious practices that would violate the consciences of new believers or cloud the gospel message within his community (Romans 14, 1Cor 8.1- 13).

Additional questions to consider:

5 What terminology (or terms of identity) of the surrounding culture is so closely tied to Islam that, if the new believer were to continue using them, would cause other Muslims to believe that the so-called “new believer” is still an adherent to Islam?

6.  As a minister of the Gospel, how will you communicate your identity in Christ to those among whom you seek to minister?

Biblical considerations: While there is no biblical mandate to call oneself a “Christian,” our aim is to communicate in a way that honestly and clearly identifies us with the Christ of the Bible (2 Cor. 4.5-6). Language is important (Psalm 19.14; Matt. 16.15-18; 2Cor. 2.17). We must reject any community-dominant religious terminology that would bring reproach upon Christ or call our identity with the God/Christ of the Bible into question (Daniel 3; 2Cor 4.2)

7.  How will you communicate the identity of Jesus in the language and culture of the context in which you minister?

Biblical considerations: The identity of Jesus is at the center of the Gospel (Mt. 16.13- 18; Acts 4.12). The gospel-writers go to great lengths to show the theological and redemptive-historical significance of titles. Jesus, in fulfillment of prophecy, is the Messiah, the Royal Son of God (cf. Ps. 2; Rom 1.2), and the divine Son of Man (Dan 7.9- 14; Lk 21.27ff; Rev. 1.13-16 ). Jesus is the One by whom, and for whom, all things were created (Col. 1.13-20). The resurrected Christ taught his disciples that only through an understanding of the Old Testament will the deep significance of his death, resurrection, and global proclamation be seen as the apex of all of redemptive history (Lk. 24.44-49). From the beginning of the Church age, the apostles’ task was to communicate these deep realities in different cultures and contexts – even when the concepts themselves were highly offensive (or ridiculous) to their hearers (1 Cor. 1.18-31).

8.  What will cross-bearing look like for new believers in your context? Are new believers truly ready to suffer for Christ? How will you prepare them?

Biblical considerations: While there are many places in the world where visible persecution on account of Christ does not occur, the Bible anticipates suffering as part of every believer’s experience (Phil. 1.27-28, 1Pet. 4.12-19). The Apostle Paul experienced great persecution as a missionary and reminded fellow believers that anyone who desired to live for Christ would also be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus taught that his followers would experience suffering and persecution on account of him, sometimes coming from their own friends and family (Matt. 10.16-33). When persecution occurs, there must be prayerful discernment whether to stay and endure persecution or to flee from it (Matthew 10:23; Luke 21:21; Acts 9:24-25). The all-surpassing pleasure to be found in Christ is what enables and drives radical self-denial in the life of the believer (Lk. 9.23-26).

Additional questions to consider:

9. When does “salt lose its saltiness” in your host community (Matt 5.13- 17)?

10. How is the light of Christ shining, or hidden under a bushel in your host community (Mark 9:42-49)?

11. How are God’s “chosen ones” proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2.9)?

12..  How will you present the gospel in such a way that Jesus is the stumbling block (not cultural practices, leadership style, dress, customs, habits)?

Biblical considerations: Paul strove to communicate the gospel clearly and compellingly both in his speech and his lifestyle. When his financial support was an obstacle, he made tents to support himself (1 Thess. 2.5-9). His aim was to orient his life in such a way that the only stumbling-block to faith was the message of Jesus crucified (1 Cor. 1.18-31). He rejected the notion of avoiding persecution by adhering to former religious practices (Gal. 6.12-14). Paul’s evangelism was grounded in the reality that, though Paul planted and Apollos watered, it was only God who could give the growth (1 Cor. 3.6-7). Because of this precious reality, there was no impetus for Paul to impress people with flawless oratory or esoteric knowledge (1 Cor. 1.17, 2.1-5).

13.  How will you proclaim the gospel with gentleness, respect, and with all boldness in your host context (especially in highly restricted areas)?

Biblical considerations: The Apostle Peter writes that, in a hostile environment we should communicate the gospel with gentleness and respect (I Peter 3.15-16). Yet when Peter is dragged before local leadership, beaten, and told not to preach the name of Jesus, he declared “we cannot but tell all that we have seen and heard.” This was followed by fervent prayer with the body of Christ for greater boldness as the word of God was fulfilled (Acts 4.29-30). As ministers of the gospel, we are being sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves (Lk. 10.3). Jesus exhorts us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10.16) in our gospel-ministry. When we are dragged before religious authorities and secular governors we will have opportunity, in the midst of persecution and physical suffering, to communicate His supremacy. Our confidence is to be in the Father’s promises to give us words to speak by his Spirit (Matt. 10.19-20), and that not even a hair of our head will perish even, if we are put to death (Luke 21:16,18).

14.  How will you demonstrate the supreme and exclusive authority of the Bible among peoples who revere other sacred texts as supreme authority?

Biblical considerations: While the New Testament indicates that there is a place for using brief quotations from local religious or cultural literature as a pointer to Christ (Acts 17.23, 28; Titus 1.12), the Apostles were exceedingly careful to show that God’s word alone is the ultimate and authoritative truth (2 Tim 3.16-17). The on-going reverence of any other religious book besides the Bible is unheard of in the NT and runs the risk of subtly affirming the other religious book as equally authoritative to the Bible. We must be careful in our discipleship to distinguish the supreme authority of the Bible above every other writing, striving to communicate the uniqueness of the Word of Christ and its purpose in redemptive history (Jn. 17.17; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Romans 10:17).

Additional questions to consider:

15. How will the use of the Qur’an in evangelism or discipleship reinforce the sole authority of God’s self-revelation in the Bible? Will using the Qur’an clarify or muddle this issue in the minds of your hearers?[1]

16.  How will you instruct the new believer in Christ regarding his relationship to his community and mosque?

Biblical considerations: The new believer’s understanding of his identity in Christ and the implications of being a new creation and a member of Christ’s body will impact his view of the mosque. Since there are deep redemptive-historical differences between the interaction of the early church with the Jewish synagogue, on the one hand, and the modern church and the Muslim mosque, on the other hand, we should be cautious in treating these two relationships as parallel. It is important to note that the apostles were very deliberate in their evangelism of ethnic Israel, but as the large-scale Jewish rejection of Jesus grew violent, the believers were scattered and continued to preach the word of Christ and form churches wherever they went (Acts 8:3-4; 9:31; 13:1-3).

Those who are born-again will joyfully accept the call to radical discipleship (Matt 10.37- 39; 13.44-45) and, by the Spirit’s power, will turn away from former ways of ignorance (1 Peter 1.14-19). This often comes at significant relational cost (Matt 10.34-36), though with great relational reward – and eternal life (Mk 10.29-30). While corporate worship, celebration of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, teaching, discipleship and fellowship will happen in the context of his new community -the church- (Acts 2.41-47), there may be occasions when he seeks opportunities to reach his neighbors during certain community functions (which often occur in connection with the mosque). While the distinctions between religion and culture are more evident in Western culture, they nearly vanish in Islam. Thus, while new believers under both paradigms must wrestle with the presuppositions that undergird customary practices, Muslim background believers must be encouraged to consider the way that former practices could disguise or deny gospel- reality. Desires to highlight the sufficiency and uniqueness of Christ should drive wise decision-making (Matt 10.16) as believers seek strategic opportunities to win members of their community. At the same time, cross-cultural workers must also be careful not to violate the consciences of new believers who may want to sever all connections with their former community.

Additional questions to consider:

17.  What other phrases (e.g. the shahada) or practices (e.g. Friday prayers) could give the false impression to the community that you are Muslim?

18. Is participation in the life of the mosque more akin to participation in the temple at Jerusalem (Acts 2.46; 21.24-26) or in the pagan temple (1 Cor 10.14-22)?

19.  How and when will you distinguish the intrinsic differences between God as he is revealed in the Bible and as he is written about in the Qur’an?

Biblical considerations: Working from clear common ground, cross-cultural ministers of the gospel should build a thoroughly Biblical understanding of God – his person, character and purpose in history. We must be diligent to discern where theological misunderstanding might occur and presumed areas of connection between Islam and Biblical revelation must be examined in light of Scripture.[2] At the Areopagus, Paul exemplified such discernment in his evangelism to the Athenians. While being very careful not to identify the God of the Scriptures with the unknown god they venerated,[3] Paul uses the opportunity to tell them about the true God. He engages them on their terms and creates new categories to challenge their ignorance- categories demanded by God’s self-revelation in his Word and consummately in Christ (Acts 17.22-34). He also soundly warned them against continuing in their ignorance – lest they face God’s impending judgment (v29-31). In similar fashion, we must begin by acknowledging what can be acknowledged by all people – namely, that God exists, that creation declares his glory, that his power is real, and that all thanksgiving and honor are due him (Rom 1.19- 20). We should also affirm our friend’s earnest desire to know God and move him to comparing his understanding of the god of Islam with what the true God is like – most fully in the person of his Son (Heb 1.1-12).

Additional Questions:

20. From what common ground will you start in order to show Muslims the true God?

21. How does Islam understand sin? How does it account for human sin if original sin is denied?

22. How does Islam regard the holiness of God? If sin is arbitrarily forgiven, can God be holy?

23. Which is the more apt biblical parallel, Islam and second-temple Judaism (i.e. the synagogue, Acts 13.14-42) or Islam and paganism (i.e. Acts 17.22-34)?

Finally, the Arabic Bible, which pre-dates the Qur’an, does use the term Allah for God. But is it therefore Biblically-justified for us to conclude that (in essence, nature, and character) Christians worship the same God as Muslims?


[1] Phil Parshall notes that a 1995 survey of national C5 MBB’s, representing 68 congregations from 66 villages, revealed that 96% still believed that the Koran was divinely inspired; 66% said that the Koran was the greater than the Bible; and 45% felt peace or close to Allah when listening to the reading of the Koran. Parshall, Phil. Muslim Evangelism:A contemporary approach to contextualization, Gabriel Pub, 2003, pg. 70.

[2] One prevailing presumption is that since Jews, Christians and Muslims share a common ancestry in Abraham, even though we believe different things about Jesus, we nonetheless worship the same God. Can a non-Trinitarian supreme being be equated with the God of the Bible? A second presumption is that, since Paul and the early church continued to meet in synagogues, therefore, a Muslim who trusts Christ should also continue to attend the mosque. Is the mosque truly equitable to a Jewish synagogue? Is the Yaweh of Hebrew scripture truly exalted in the mosque? Missionaries must studiously avoid similar category confusion.

[3] Though the ascription was masculine (Ἀγνώστῳ θεῳ) Paul used neuter, not masculine, forms in addressing it (ὅ οὖν ἀγνοοῦντες εὐσεβεῖτε, τοῦτο ἐγω καταγγέλλω ὑμιν. (Acts 17.23)).

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53 Responses to Contextualization Guidelines for Missions

  1. Erik Hyatt says:

    Dear Ken and Bassam,

    Thank you so much for pointing this out our inaccurate quote. Mr. Madany has well documented that the Arabic Bible does NOT predate the Qu’ran. We will make the correction immediately. But the fact that the Arabic Bible translation uses “Allah” for God still stands as the main point in that section.

    I also appreciated Ken’s suggested rewording of the question, “Is it therefore Biblically-justified for us to conclude that (in essence, nature, and character) Christians worship the same God as Muslims?” Your suggestion is much clearer and to the point, “Allah is the best Arabic word equivalent to Elohim in the OT and Theos in the NT, but the doctrine of who Allah is in Islam is not the God of the Bible.”

    Thank you for so kindly pointing this out, Ken.

    As you all know, the aim of our document is not to lay down a law on contextualization practices, but rather to open a dialogue on the contraversial issues based upon the whole counsel of Scripture. We want to ask each person to show us how the word of God is guiding their conscience and practice on these issues, not using the Scriptures to justify their consciences and desired practices. As Solomon has said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the the way of death.” (Prov. 16:25).

    Seeking wisdom from above with you on all these matters, I wish to thank any of you brothers who would offer such life-giving reproof.

    “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise… the fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is form the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” (Prov. 15:31 – 16:2)

  2. Ken Temple says:

    I am late to this conversation I know. I have not read every word yet, but here is my first comment:

    # 42 – Bassam Madany points out that this statement in the Eric Hyatt’s article is not accurate.

    No one made any more comments about that, that I can see.

    “Finally, the Arabic Bible, which pre-dates the Qur’an, does use the term Allah for God.”

    But is it therefore Biblically-justified for us to conclude that (in essence, nature, and character) Christians worship the same God as Muslims?”

    It seems best to say “Allah is the best Arabic word equivalent to Elohim in the OT and Theos in the NT, but the doctrine of who Allah is in Islam is not the God of the Bible.” Allah is linguistically good for Arabic speaking Muslims and other Muslims where that has become the word for “the one true Sovereign, invisible, eternal creator God”, but the doctrine of Allah in Islam is not the God of the Bible.”

    Thoughts?

    # 42 – Bassam Madany points out that this above statement in the Eric Hyatt’s article is not accurate.

    Bassam Michael Madany says:
    August 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    The first part of the statement at the end of CONTEXTUALIZATION GUIDELINES FOR MISSIONS, “Finally, the Arabic Bible, which pre-dates the Qur’an, does use the term Allah for God. But is it therefore Biblically-justified for us to conclude that (in essence, nature, and character) Christians worship the same God as Muslims?”

    This is not accurate. The first known Arabic translation of (a portion) of the Bible dates from A.D. 867, is Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex 151, it was translated from Aramaic by a Syrian Christian, Bishr Ibn Al Sirri, who lived in Damasus. The world “Allah” is used often, as well as “al-Rabb” (the Lord).

    For more details about this translation please consult an article written by my late wife, Shirley W. Madany, for the magazine, MISSIONARY MONTHLY. http://www.levant.info/Mer_a027.htm

    An expert missiologist of a previous generation, J. W. Sweetman, lamented the fact that the Bible had not been translated into Arabic before the days of Muhammad. (The Bible in Islam, published by the British & Foreign Bible Society, 1954)

    Ken Temple

  3. A. Houssney says:

    Here are my responses to Carl’s “6 people” question:

    Carl,

    I appreciate that you seek unity, and it’s great to be able to discuss these things together. One point about your comment:

    “Everyone in this discussion (on this forum or not) uses the same Bible to defend their points. Quoting loads of scripture texts to prove a point that the person has already come to, seems the norm (on both sides).”

    That’s true in the sense that people are eager to claim biblical authority, and that’s good. However it is an open question how legitimate these claims of Biblical authority are. I share you concerns about “proof texting” and would like to think that I am actually turning to the Bible, to learn from – and share my findings with others, rather than the “quoting to justify” that you rightly condemn (or at least point out).
    I do think that people’s perspective on the scriptures tend to be highly skewed by their education, cultural viewpoints etc.. and I wonder if a lot of the weirder things going on in missions are an example of what you are describing – people bringing in a cultural, political viewpoint and going to the scripture to justify it.

    I would think the solution to this problem is MORE scripture, not less. Let’s dig in! Let’s apply principles of study to determine what the biblical authors really thought! Let’s not throw up our hands and say “everybody quotes scriptures on all sides” so “we can’t really know what the truth is” -or “it’s all equally true” or “it doesn’t matter.” Let’s get to the bottom of it or at least go deeper.

    Now about your question:

    I just don’t think your question gets to the relevant issues. Let me ask you a question to illustrate my point:

    “Can anyone suggest that any of the following is unbiblical:

    1. Muhammed believes the “true Bible” is a revelation from God for mankind.
    2. Usama believes in one God
    3. Ali honors and respects Jesus Christ as a prophet.
    4. Saddam dearly and tenderly loves his son Qusay.

    The answer might well be “none of these unbiblical” but it does not say very much at all about each person as individuals, or about their relationship to Christ.

    Some of your points are like these 4, my comment on them would fall into a “that’s nice” sort of category without being able to say anything meaningful because we have little information.

    Let’s say that you need to build a fence to contain a flock of sheep on a rectangular field. The field has four sides – north, south, east and west, let’s say that you hire someone to build you the fence – they come to you and say – “We’re done – we built the north side, the south side and the east side!” “But,” you say, “Did you finish the west side?” “Just look at the workmanship”, they say, “this is a well built and beautiful fence – take this section here – see how strong it is, how steady the posts, how tight the wire? How can you say this is not a good fence?” Well, if it only encloses part of the field, the sheep can escape – the fence as a whole is a failure. So it’s not enough to affirm how lovely some of the parts are – we have to take the fence as a whole.

    “Safi would say he loves Jesus. He would say he follows Jesus.”

    Well obviously a Christian can’t condemn that! But it also does not tell us very much about his faith, Ghandi might be described the same way – a great guy to be sure – but not a Christian.

    “Mustafa literally feed the hungry and takes care of widows and orphans in the name of Jesus.”

    This is great too – but again, from the point of view of salvation, it does not tell us very much: we are not saved by our works.

    “Samir believes Jesus was crucified and resurrected”

    Now that is also great, it also does not tell us too much about Samir, I’m sure he’s a great guy, but maybe he also believes that Muhammad’s revelation abrogated Jesus’ and you can get to heaven through rituals and works.

    It’s possible to believe many or all of the right facts and still reject the core message of Christ. James 2:19 reminds of that: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!.”

    Now I do have a concern about one piece of information that you did give us.

    “Riad will say in a very open and public way that “all Muslims should realize that the Qur’an is a book that focuses us on Jesus.” And that it very clearly shows that Jesus was, in fact, crucified.”

    This is at best dubious to most scholars of Islam, but let’s just accept the position for the sake of discussion, it really does not matter to me. The real question that I would have about this is if Riad cares about this, why? What difference does it make what the Qur’an says about Jesus. Is it just a point of casual interest? If it’s akin to me believing that Eratosthenes correctly calculated the circumference of the earth, in other words – a piece of information I might think is correct but that has no eternal significance to me, than I don’t care what Riad believes about the Qur’an. But I would ask, does Riad want to defend the Qur’an? If so, why? If we are to follow Christ we must accept the truth and also condemn the lie. The qur’an as a whole is a message contrary to the gospel in many, many ways. Why do we concern ourselves with it? It might point to an incomplete worldview that Riad has about Islam, a clinging to old ways and superstitions, a residual fondness for one’s earthly past. That’s a concern, something to discuss with him. Not unbiblical in itself, but as I said, none of these really say very much about the gospel that these people understand, and not about the state of their hearts either.

    Love you Carl!

  4. James says:

    Carl,
    I know you are eager to get back to something specific like your 6 friends…

    However I am not sure why, since you too also seem to realize that:
    – No one is listening

    – they don’t appear to want to blur the nice us-them thing they have going with anything specific

    – they also don’t appear to listen or respond to those that actually officially speak for IM either. (I’m thinking of an excellent article here http://www.missionfrontiers.org/pdf/2010/04/24-30.pdf and many like them that answer most of their questions). They want to define what IM stands for and they prefer strawmen and anecdotes that will whip up the mob.

    Since no one is listening then it is not a discussion. it is about forcing accountability on their terms, or just plain trashing other believers ministries.

    They aren’t like your friendly Hizbollah tea-buddies Carl. They have defined what IM is, and they have decided that you are one of them. They don’t need your opinion on the matter. To me visiting this site it comes across that: if they can influence anyone anywhere to keep you (or any other missionaries or ministries they’ve decided are “IM”) from what God has put on your hearts they would be happy that they have done God a favor.

    Perhaps I should not have challenged them in this way. I do not like the spirit of this either and have not enjoyed doing this. Yet it is them that have set the standard, the tone, the logic and the spirit of this blogg. This nonsense has gone on for a whole year now…

    If you go back and read these bloggs carefully you will find that their claim to authority is not just the bible, it very quickly rolls back to a foundation based on claims of: experience, ethnic back ground, and the international church. Yes they have that… yet BM speaks for some groups around the world and NOT ALL.In fact their their theology is a very narrow stream in global evangelicalism. Their claim of authority needs to be challenged. I hope their silence reflects at least some recognition that they are not the last word on what is “biblical missiology” in evangelicalism. If they would only listen they would learn a lot.

    I am no IM advocate, but I have to say this blogg makes me admire IM people more each day. How can people who call themselves Christians and biblical act like this? I admire your patience too, but doubt you will get very far..

    So there you go, I “stand aside” as you suggest.
    -James

  5. James

    Brother, I don’t know you, but I (on behalf of no one but myself) ask you to respectfully step aside in these conversations. I think the spirit in which you approach these is not helpful.
    carl

  6. James says:

    Kind of quiet around here…

    I would have expected one of BM’s classically rude and condescending replies by now…

    I think we have figured out that everybody claims to be “biblical”.

    The real question is are you willing to hold yourselves accountable to those documents that REALLY speak the for the global evangelical movement? As I said, the only other options appear to be that you guys “outside of the fold” of orthodox evangelical belief and practice, or perhaps “Evangelical” but in a very narrow and culturally blinkered sense with respect to the voices of their brethren from around the world.

    -James

  7. James says:

    Douglas says: “Your point of view is akin to appealing to a district court to hear a matter already decided by the supreme court.”

    Actually, if you listen to the tone, emotion, and half-true generalisations in this blogg, my point of view is more like someone questioning the lynch mob whether they really do speak for the whole town, and wondering whether they are just as lawless as the people they want to string up.

    -James

  8. I just went back and read the original post from Piper’s church – because I thought I must have missed something. And I asked myself why this specific document has brought us to this discussion. I think there are several reasons why this is so interesting/controversial:

    1. The document asks great questions. One’s I’d want to be able to answer and would want all those who work with me to be able to answer clearly. So I think the questions themselves were interesting….thus generating discussion.

    2. The “Biblical considerations” portion after each question was also interesting. I love seeing how someone else processes and uses scripture.

    3. And even though the article was not about IM or C-5 all the questions raised missiological issues, so could lead one way or the other.

    I could easily answer all of those questions from the scriptures making different or at least slightly different points.

    This discussion has kept my interest because it is good for me! It has sharpened me for sure! i think I come away with three overriding thoughts:

    1. Everyone in this discussion (on this forum or not) uses the same Bible to defend their points. Quoting loads of scripture texts to prove a point that the person has already come to, seems the norm (on both sides).

    2. Having gone back and re-read many of the posts on this and other articles, I’m noticing that none of us are really listening to the other. We have to admit that our heart attitude must be at least as important as the other things we’re talking about here. I and many of the others have been condescending and rude as we’ve challenged the other. How does that work in your marriages? Not so well in mine! Listening is good doctrine!

    3. Generalizations have been the norm. It’s clear that this site has an issue with C-5 (although sometimes I’ve seen C-4 thrown in there) and the Insider Movement. But I’ve seldom seen specific examples used. It’s like saying “I don’t trust politicians.” Just not very helpful. I’d love to see us be more specific, rather then act as of C-5 and IM are a monolith that have all accepted a certain creed.

    For instance – I am fully evangelical. (Would accept the Lausanne Covenant – for James’ sake). Am mostly in conservative evangelical circles. Do NOT consider myself part of IM or C-5. But I also find it unbiblical or abiblical to ask Muslims to leave every part of their context and call themselves “Christians.” And I believe they believe in the same God as we do – although with error and without salvific affect without Christ. So what am I…?

    I want to hear you guys out. I don’t know James or Andy (the two others that have challenged you). I don’t want to quote scriptures “at you.” And I don’t like seeing them used that way by anyone. (Talking “at” people doesn’t work well in my experience).

    Can we be more specific? And maybe do some case studies that we could all work on…?

  9. James,

    You are disregarding the contexts from which you quoted me to portray something about me that is untrue. Having spoken with positive regard about Lausanne as to my assumption that it is biblical, you take the opportunity to skew my point of view with my admission that I am ignorant of the substance of Lausanne. What I said is what I meant: to refer this matter to an arbiter when on its face IM is at variance with Scripture, the supreme authority, it does seem superfluous to appeal to a lesser authority. Your point of view is akin to appealing to a district court to hear a matter already decided by the supreme court.

    By your replies to me that ignored the heterodoxical and heretical of IM, your interest comes across political and manipulative as if IM’s preservation is an ulterior interest of yours. You seem to be prejudiced against the overwhelming evidence from Scripture on this site that shows IM to be largely syncretistic. Why not appeal to the Lausanne yourself and ask them to read the site and post on it. I would like that. Then we can see if Lausanne’s representatives are according themselves biblically.

    I don’t mind you being condescending toward me but don’t lie about me. You have lost this argument.

  10. James says:

    Douglas says about Lausanne Covenant: “I don’t know what it is” and “The idea seems superfluous to me”

    Yes, I think you have made THAT clear… Its actually called “poor ecclesiology” by theologians.

    Come on Douglas. I actually think you will LIKE the LC! Don’t prejudge it. It was Billy Graham’s idea for goodness sake. I am not being unreasonable in my questioning BM on this matter.

    Look, here is a free study guide:
    http://www.lausanne.org/documents/didasko/Didasko_FTLWL.pdf

    I’ll even throw in a small quote from the forward just to get you interested (my caps):

    “The Lausanne Covenant has been a great rallying call to the evangelical Church around the world. It DEFINED what it means to be evangelical, that is, what it means to have SCRIPTURE as final authority in what we believe and in how we live. It is a COVENANT with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and WITH GOD HIMSELF. The covenant form was chosen deliberately, as a solemn and public declaration to the world of the relationship between OUR faith and OUR lives.

    Covenants are SERIOUS matters, not to be entered into lightly. They are BINDING agreements, and we need to read ‘the small print’ carefully, and ensure we have understood all the implications before we prepare to sign.

    The Lausanne Covenant was drawn together with great care, balancing the right words and phrases and emphases, to reflect what the Lausanne participants believed to be the weight of SCRIPTURE. When John Stott, chief architect of the Covenant, addressed the Congress to present it in its final form, he urged participants not to get out their pens (though it seems a few had already done so, perhaps too quickly). The better response would be to meet with the Lord in an unhurried way, and only then, if they wished to do so, to sign the Covenant.


    The Covenant’s genius is that it came out of a gathering of 150 NATIONS focusing on mainstream, BIBLICAL, and primary issues, while avoiding controversial secondary issues. This is how it has managed to bring ALL EVANGELICALS together, and become so widely-used as a FOUNDATION FOR PARTNERSHIPS across the world. The need to link arms and work together has never been more critical if we are to see Christ’s gospel made known in this generation and beyond.

    We trust your study of the Covenant will help you to enter into a new covenant with God, and that this re-publication of the document will spur further initiatives and partnerships with fellow evangelicals, for the sake of the Lord we love.”

    So as you see it is no “superfluous” thing. I would even say you are on dangerous ground to thumb your nose at it as you do. “Covenants are SERIOUS matters, not to be entered into lightly” Not to be scorned lightly either. You should probably try seeing what it says. After all your church (if you have one) and therefore YOU are probably covenanted to God through this too! (Rom 13)

    Hope you take my question more seriously Mark. Looking forward to BM’s response.

    -James

  11. Hello James,

    Hope all is well with you today.

    I hasten to affirm the biblical ecclesiology you speak of: Amen! And, as members of the body of Christ we are fitly joined to facilitate the functionality of its members and the whole. So here we are in agreement as we engage church authority and functionality under the headship of Christ. But the headship of Christ cannot be claimed by IM when their methods diminish the Son with syncretized missiologies. Furthermore with that in mind, why would Biblical Missiology (BM) be the one you call to reckon with the Lausanne Covenant when it is the Insider Movement that is running contrary to what is biblical? It does appear to me that you are using Lausanne as context for creating biblical parity between the difference in the methods endorsed by BM and IM respectively.

    There is no parity of authority between Lausanne and Scripture. I acknowledge that Acts sets a biblical precedent for ecclesiastical councils and conventions and my assumption is that Lausanne is biblical in its statement. But if those with biblically correct missiologies are at variance with Lausanne they necessarily are engaging the headship of Christ by conforming to his word.

    On the contrary, I believe it is BM that is providing opportunity for repentance for those at variance with the Spirit of truth whose missiologies are not thoroughly biblical. You said, “But, how can we all be sure BiblicalMissiology are not like this group that went out from Jerusalem?” My answer to this question is, compare them with the Bible and see! That’s exactly what we are doing here and the folks you seem to be defending are showing themselves to be in error.

    You said “Of COURSE this covenant is more authoritative to speak on behalf of the worldwide church than Mark and the Houssneys!” You said this based on Lausanne’s “… prayer, fasting and discussion…” Why did you not mention Lausanne’s ‘searching the Scriptures’? Why wouldn’t that be included as naturally in that list? I’ll tell you, no matter the prestige of a global Christian organization, it is subject to God’s word first and foremost. May God bless all who seek to serve his Word. Mark, the Houssneys, and others have in the course of things here proven their theology is biblical but at the same time as we debate these issues, as many here have plainly seen, IM folks are consistently prone to readily cite their philosophical views but with a deficit of biblical founding.

    I see IM as post-modernist philosophy and its bristle at the plenary authority of God’s word, the Bible. It’s more complex than that but it is that nonetheless. James, you seem to overlook how God’s word is being used on this site to prove what is truth and what is error. I think you prefer we do this at some council or arbiter. The idea seems superfluous to me.

  12. James says:

    Douglas,
    Thanks for your reply, although I am not sure this needs to be a big issue. I am sure BiblicalMissiology are willing to be held accountable, and so don’t need defending. Perhaps we should wait and see their response. I only spelt it out in detail to describe to Mark what accountability with real integrity “might” look like.

    You say: “The body of Christ does not need a consensus derived from some specifically identified group and that you would argue such is a concern to me”

    Sorry Douglas, this statement is just not biblical. Please re-read Acts 15, especially with this situation in mind. Some went out from the Jerusalem church claiming authority to speak on behalf of the WHOLE Body of Christ and came into conflict with Paul etc.. How was the situation solved? Lets pick it up at Acts 15:22:

    “Then it seemed good to the Apostles and the rulers and all the church, to send men… And they sent a letter by them, saying… ‘we have knowledge that some who went from us have been troubling you with their words, putting your souls in doubt; to whom we gave no such order; It seemed good to us, having come to an agreement together, to send these men to you…. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to put on you nothing more than these necessary things…”

    So seeking the Lord together as a community, submission to authority, church councils, unity, and consensus are very Biblical. Perhaps “seemed good” even implies there was some plain old human wisdom involved as well! In the west we tend to have a very poor ecclesiology. I think sometimes we read “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” and don’t realise that the “you” here is plural. Welcome to the Church! Like I said: we need each other.

    You say: “it seems like you want to in the minds of your readers validate a context that has greater authority””

    Douglas, BiblicalMissiology claims to speak up for the whole church, for the international community – ESPECIALLY for the national churches and the converts who have no voice against these powerful western neo-colonialist IM advocates. But, how can we all be sure BiblicalMissiology are not like this group that went out from Jerusalem? Well, step one is really very simple (sorry you think this is mental gymnastics – just wait till we start on the theology! ;-): You see, BiblicalMissiology have no such authority IF (again this is hypothetical) their theology shows them to be outside a covenant that the global Evangelical movement, through prayer, fasting and discussion has built its very unity upon. Of COURSE this covenant is more authoritative to speak on behalf of the worldwide church than Mark and the Houssneys! It would be absurd to think otherwise.

    One only has authority if one is under authority. I’m merely inquiring if they are also under authority. No mental gymnastic here, although, yes, I do confess that I want to make sure it is not just a “lip-service” to the covenant. I am not defending IM at all here. I just believe we need to watch the watchdogs – perhaps even more closely! The excesses of IM need critique. But only from people that are willing to be under authority themselves. Again, any ministry that can’t subscribe to the LC would be either “outside the fold” of the worldwide Evangelical movement, or perhaps “Evangelical” but in a very narrow and culturally blinkered sense with respect to the voices of their brethren from other cultures.

    I’m not saying BiblicalMissiology can’t write on their blogg what ever they like. I am just saying they need to be open and honest about where they stand with the Evangelicalism as a global movement if they want to leverage the discussion here to bring accountability (which they clearly are attempting to do).
    -James

  13. James,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I must be frank with you and all who read this: I am very skeptical about those who have embraced methods of ministry that straddle worldliness and Christianity. When Christians have to employ mental gymnastics to explain and defend their ministries, I can’t help but see an ulterior. By worldliness I mean a willingness to syncretize God’s word to fulfill a carnal purpose whatever the case may be. By Christianity, as it pertains to missions, I mean the body of Christ whose purpose is the fulfillment of the ministry of reconciliation (2nd Cor. 5.19).

    I think the spirit of the age is in the church seducing with worldly wisdom whom it may. The upshot of that is methods of ministry that are not of the Spirit of God, methods that are all men can do without Him. The body of Christ does not need a consensus derived from some specifically identified group and that you would argue such is a concern to me. The Bible says, “But we have the mind of Christ” (1st Cor. 2.16). Is the Lausanne Covenant an improvement over the Holy Spirit and the Bible? No, and I’m not saying this event (LC) and its decisions are wrong (I don’t know what it is) and I’m not saying you think it’s an improvement. When you appeal to the LC it seems like you want to in the minds of your readers validate a context that has greater authority, one that can effectively be used to render less authoritative those who write in disagreement with IM. By the “mind of Christ” I don’t mean something spiritually psychological and I don’t mean a license to elitism. Gordon Fee said it this way: “[the mind of Christ] leads to a deeper understanding of God’s profound mystery—redemption through a crucified Messiah” (p. 120). How can the crux of the gospel be found on the periphery of a biblical missiology? But I read things from IM like the following:

    “Nobody has said that the God of Islam is the true God. But that he is redeemable.” (by Andy)
    “Here’s the “God” that Muslims believe in: He is the creator of the heavens and the earth.” (by Carl Medearis)
    “The only reason Kevin starts with the Qur’an, Roger, is because that’s where you find Muslims.” (David Garrison)

    Then, upon further investigation into this matter, I find that IM, in its attempt at indigenizing the gospel message, allows the crucial elements of the gospel to be assimilated by Islam. For instance, translators of a Bible in Arabic are dropping “Son” for non-offensive terminology. Fast and loose is all that this is. Of course the articulate among us are able to talk circles around any and all objections but to no real avail. God is not mocked.

    When I think about the incarnation I see how the Son has come to all mankind for all time inclusive of all races and ethnicities. He came curbing nothing about himself or his message yet somehow IM thinks it’s okay to curb both. I’ve been labeled “dull”, failing to appreciate the nuance and intelligence of IM methods, but I think IM is devoid of the “mind of Christ”. All that is inclusive of man at the expense of the exclusiveness of the truth about Christ I will protest. When we’ve been shown the way of truth why do we seek to find another? There is but One.

    James, I don’t know you and I wish you well. May we all remember this: “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1st Cor. 3.13).

  14. James says:

    Douglas,
    We are not all alone in a private “just me, the Bible, and God” faith. Yes those 3 are ESSENTIAL, but The Holy Spirit frequently speaks through His Body, the Church. There are no “lone rangers”. You know this.

    As Evangelicals we have no Pope. We believe in “Sola Scripture” yet one of the major problems we face as Protestants is that without a system of authority (without listening to the Body of Christ) heresy is a very real danger. Just look around you will see 1000s of denominations and many more cults all claiming to be “biblical”. Everyone claims to be biblical. Douglas, You cut and pasted half your Bible to Carl, and yet I believe he already has one… I can only guess that you are also frustrated by this problem.

    What this blogg is calling for is accountability and that is a noble cause. Accountability to what? The scriptures of course, but more than that; an orthodox Evangelical interpretation of scripture. They ask a very reasonable question: Why should Evangelical donors, churches, missions etc. UNKNOWINGLY support something that claims to be “Biblical” and yet (in their opinion) is far from Evangelical. There is a danger donors have been deceived (Mark emphatically says they have) Where people stand should be made clear so people know what they are investing in.

    The reason these Bethlehem Baptist guidelines are being presented is that they are a practical example of accountability. Suggesting them on this blogg is raising them up as a inspiration or perhaps a model of how one expression of the Body of Christ can hold missionaries and agencies accountable to a good scriptural principles.

    Does that mean these guidelines are at the level of scriptural authority? No! Not at all. But it does mean that missionaries that want the spiritual and physical blessings of working within the fold (and under the covering) of the Bethlehem Church MUST submit themselves to them or find another spiritual covering. Such is life. Ideally we would all agree and such a paper would not be needed perhaps, but that is how evangelicalism works. All denominations have similar guidelines and policies for all areas of ministry. And actually I find it biblical myself and I assume most other evangelicals do too or we would have found another solution.

    These policies, theologies, and guidelines go all the way up to the Lausanne Committee for Evangelicals. This is biblical. Not perfect, but the best we have managed. Even more important is that the Holy Spirit DID speak through and to the representatives that were part of drafting that covenant. Go read their website. You will find it hard to deny the presence of God on this. It is not scripture, but it is no small thing either. Certainly nothing to rebel against without very good reason.

    I am not manipulating BiblicalMissiology. I am just showing them where the path they are taking is logically headed and calling them to hold the same standard. If that is manipulation then BiblicalMissiology is also manipulative. Your judgement of me falls equally on them. I am only asking them if they are willing to apply their standards to themselves.

    BiblicalMissiology claim often to speak for the global church, to be international etc. etc. well… how can I, from miles away, possibly know if that is true? Well, if they do not submit to the authority of the LC then they obviously do not speak for the global Evangelical church. As simple as that. If their theology conflicts with the very broad (as you can imagine) guidelines the LC has then they are very very far from the authority they claim. And people SHOULD know this. THEIR names should be named to use Marks phrase. Their donors and partners do need to know that they are not in the fold.

    If you want to redefine heresy by all means write a dictionary. Until that is published, you will find that all definitions of heresy are linked with heterodoxy ie non-orthodox. You see the problem of “just me, the Bible, and God” has always existed. Theology is a man made product and so the Holy Spirit also speaks through the Body in order to lead us to all truth. We need each other.

    Douglas, I’m not saying to be outside the fold of the Global Evangelical Missions movement is to be lost or even necessarily wrong (indeed we need to be challenged from outside), but the simple fact is that if BiblicalMissiology want to benefit from the spiritual and physical blessings of working within the fold of Evangelical Missions they have a responsibility to submit themselves to what that community believes to be true or find another spiritual covering. This is what they are in effect aiming at for IM. And if they have integrity they MUST apply the same standards to themselves.

    Please realise Douglas that I am not calling them heretics. I have not even begun to bring up theology yet. THIS WAS HYPOTHETICAL. I am just wanting to know that they are serious and not like all the other “biblical” websites out there that are basically a law unto themselves. My questioning whether they are really willing to be accountable should not bother them in the slightest (how can it be manipulative then?) — unless they don’t really want to be.

    Anyway, lets wait and see, shall we?

    -James

    You speak of the Lausanne Covenant as if it rises to a scriptural level of authority. The LC is not The Truth from which heresy is at variance, the Bible is. Yet you seem eager to use the LC as some kind of trip wire for winning an argument. I find your way of speaking very manipulative and removed from a biblical point of view.

  15. James,

    You speak of the Lausanne Covenant as if it rises to a scriptural level of authority. The LC is not The Truth from which heresy is at variance, the Bible is. Yet you seem eager to use the LC as some kind of trip wire for winning an argument. I find your way of speaking very manipulative and removed from a biblical point of view.

  16. James says:

    Mark,
    I’m assuming you are not being deliberately evasive here. Sorry that my communication has not been clear! Please let me try and explain once again…

    Marks says: “I think it would be hard for anyone in evangelical circles not to meet the Lausanne Covenant”.

    Yes, and that is my point. As I said earlier, any ministries that can’t subscribe to the LC would be either “outside the fold” of the worldwide Evangelical movement, or perhaps “Evangelical” but in a very narrow and culturally blinkered sense with respect to the voices of their brethren from other cultures.

    Marks says: “As for accountability, there is no such thing as not being accountable, so I’m not certain why that even came up. You comments themselves are a form of accountability.”

    Again, its quite clear that BiblicalMissiology is encouraging a higher level of accountability than just a few words on a blogg. I guess what I want to know is: are you willing to submit yourselves to these higher standards of accountability too? I think that for the sake of integrity you must. So again, are you willing to be held accountable to the Lausanne Covenant in the SAME way as you are attempting to hold other ministries, missions and missionaries accountable?

    Lets take a totally hypothetical example: IF it was to be shown that BiblicalMissiology’s special brand of theology conflicted with the spirit and theology of the Lausanne Covenant, I think for the sake of your integrity you would need to hold yourselves accountable it the same way as you desire to see others held accountable.

    Let me spell out more clearly what that might look like using your own blogg as a guide: (again this is only a hypothetical IF. I am not accusing. Like I said I am still trying to figure out if theology is worth discussing on this site)

    1) The word heresy is bandied about a bit here. However the word means “opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine”. That means that IF it could be shown that your theology (specifically you Mark as editor and Georges as founder) conflicts with the Lausanne Covenant then you would need to face the fact that you yourselves are the heretics in the proper meaning of the word.

    2) I think IF this proved to be the case, it would be wise for you all to stop and take a long, hard and prayerful look at what you are doing here on this blogg. In the end you would need to decide whether you wish to stay within the fold of Evangelical Missions or carry on as a small independent movement.

    3) IF you discovered your theology is non-orthodox with respect the global evangelical movement and you chose stay in the fold then I think you would have a few responsibilities (sorry to be so hypothetical here but it seems I had not earlier managed to communicate this “accountability” idea well enough). I think some of these responsibilities would involve:

    a) To publicly confess the heresy and repent from it
    b) To re-edit EVERY post and comment BiblicalMissiology staff have submitted pointing out your error and that you no longer believe that. (or perhaps take the whole blogg down if it proves to be unsalvageable)
    c) Apologise to those who have been falsely accused of heresy if it happens that they were orthodox
    d) To withdraw from circulation books, videos, training courses etc. that express the heretical theology in any form. (obviously real integrity in accountability would cover more than this blogg, it would include personal ministries, books etc…)

    etc.. etc.. I think you get the idea. I used your blogg for ideas here and it seems this is what you would hope any believer or teacher that discovers themselves to be in heresy to do and so your integrity would demand the same from you.

    4) OR, IF you discovered your theology is non-orthodox with respect the global evangelical movement, and yet you decided that they are all mistaken and to carry on alone. Then I think this also has some responsibilities (again gleaned from your blogg):
    a) You would need to clearly say you do not subscribe to the LC. This would mean informing your donors, denominations, pastors, partners, publishers etc of your choice to break with the global community.
    b) Your books, courses, bloggs, ministries should clearly state that you are not in agreement with the global evangelical movement.
    etc. etc.

    Is that more clear? Again this is just hypothetical, I am not accusing, but this is clearly the sort of accountability you desire for the IM people.

    This blogg wants more than “discussion”. It is promoting and working for accountability in Evangelical mission work. This is a noble cause and the excesses of many in IM certainly need this. But MY question is this: Are YOU in BiblicalMissiology willing to be held to the same high standards as you want to promote, or is this just a one way accountability? In other words is it worth me discussing theology on this site? Are you REALLY speaking for the international community as you claim? As I said before: In the end, if it is just my biblical theology vs. the biblical theology of the Houssney family and friends then the discussion seems somehow pointless.

    Hope that was clearer. I look forward to your response.
    Are you willing be accountable?

    -James

  17. Mark S. says:

    I think it would be hard for anyone in evangelical circles not to meet the Lausanne Covenant. I think a good question though, do IMers and those ‘saved’ through the IM movement would also agree to it? A lot of strong words about the unity of the Church, and it’s roles. Where then do Mosques with ‘believers’ in a Jesus fall into that? I’ve often found insider movements have a low view of universal Church and unity and cooperation together.

    As for accountability, there is no such thing as not being accountable, so I’m not certain why that even came up. You comments themselves are a form of accountability. Certainly, individuals who are concerned about their own churches and organizations have the right to hold their leadership accountable as well.

    As always, you are more than welcome to ask questions, give biblical support for positions, etc. I believe Andre was quite clear in that.

    Feel free to email me with any further questions.

  18. James says:

    Mark,
    I think this post about Bethlehem Baptist Church was encouraging accountability. Fine and good. There’s been quite a bit of bold and triumphalistic us-them talk etc.. so I thought I should ask if you guys are willing to held accountable too.

    Yet what I am hearing now that sounds very much like back tracking. You are the editor Mark, so the responsibility is really with you and Georges who started the whole blogg with this tone and agenda (eg the page asking ministries and churches to sign up against IM was one of the very early pages).

    Its hard to understand the point of your response. Are you saying you and the Houssneys are not willing to have the theology in your articles AND comments held accountable to the Lausanne Covenant?

    Please explain
    -James

  19. Mark S. says:

    Just a few points.

    I’ve only written one article on this site, it’s not anti-anything. But pro-Glory of God. When I comment, which I try to make rare, I give my views and opinions in reply to a comment someone gave. So one cannot say all I write is anti-IM. I’ve written one thing that is pro-glory. Made several comments to comments that were discussing IM. Those are not articles. I do publish articles by third parties, I make it clear I did not write them. I do have interviews, I believe they are fair interviews. I have more interviews coming up this fall. Should be good.

    Certainly, IM is a hot topic, and certainly it does concern all of those involved in the Biblical Missiology online journal. To be truthful, I don’t think there would be a purpose behind this blog if everyone was doing biblical missiology. So, yes, we try to present what is biblical missiology, but yes, in talking about what is biblical, there often is an inference at what isn’t.

    There are some articles that are straight out about and against IM. I don’t think we apologize for them, because, and I think I can speak for most of those involved with BM, that we have serious concerns as to the welfare of those practicing IM, and to the salvation of those ‘saved’ through IM. Syncretism is a serious issue that really needs to be discussed. The world is filled with cults that were left unchallenged until too late.

    The Lausanne Covenant is a general covenant, and certainly I know several people involved with it today. IM is certainly being discussed. The ones I know involved with it have serious concerns with IM, if not already taking a stand against it.

    As with most covenants, it talks about what we believe, but doesn’t talk about what we don’t believe. That’s the problem. I’m not asking that covenants be changed, what I’m saying is that what we believe does have ramifications on what we don’t believe, and that’s not always thought of. Indeed, if we made covenants also include what we don’t believe, it could get rather exhaustive. Biblical Missiology, is not a covenant. It is an online journal of what is Biblical Missiology, and what isn’t in alignment of that.

    As to balance, as editor-in-chief, I do have some say as to what gets published and when. I do not publish every article I get, and don’t publish every IM article I get. I try to keep a fairly even balance of pro-biblical missiology articles and critical assessments of what we would consider non-biblical missiology. I do think however, that the articles that get 80% of our hits are the more critical assessments. Certainly we recognize that people are interested in this issue, and look for particular articles that view it in new and refreshing ways, or ways we don’t think are getting thought of.

    It is interesting that even this article, guidelines, has nothing against IM. Which is why it shocked me this thread took off. But then again, the thread really doesn’t have anything to do with this actual document. The new article we published monday has nothing to do directly with IM, and no one has commented on it. I encourage you to read it and comment.

    In fact, I’ve looked through most of our articles, and none of them directly deal with IM. Of course IM inferences can be taken, but that’s biblical missiology in my opinion.

    Please feel free to comment on Carl’s thoughts. But also, please comment on the new article, or any other article already published.

  20. James says:

    Hi Carl,
    I don’t mean to sidetrack attention to your very interesting approach to this discussion. I like your focus on the practical, “what is happening on the street”. In the end that is what is most important.

    Anyway, your 6 friends sound very interesting. I would LOVE to meet them. I guess none of these things would guarantee that they are “saved” or “in the Kingdom” or… (well you know what I mean). But I don’t see anything UNbiblical (ie directly against the teaching of the Bible) here.

    Perhaps (4) is NON-biblical in that it is not like the others that I could immediately tick off as “Biblical” (ie I would regard the others are Biblical imperatives for a believer). Issuing a fatwa for number (4) requires me to bring a lot more of my own personal presuppositions into the question and work harder to link it to scriptural principles…..So…I believe to say such a thing would not be proof that one is not in the Kingdom of God – in fact I know of Christians who have said this.

    Hope that helps the discussion
    -James

  21. James says:

    Thanks Andre for your reply

    Firstly, yes you have a point about the style of my first posts. Sorry Mark. I will try to keep my passion in check and read my post a few times before I hit the “Submit” button. One thing I really do I appreciate is that you guys are also passionate about the Gospel and Truth. But you are right that passion and frustration can lead to bad communication. I won’t respond to the details of your first paragraphs here, Andre. Let’s just say point taken and I agree with your point about style. In his own way, Mark had made a similar point and I think my last response reflected my decision to change my style. Again, my apologies to Mark. Can we leave that behind and press on?

    So, moving on to your response to my last post:

    “AGENDA: As far as to ‘discredit, and perhaps even to close down’ anything, that’s not our goal”

    Andre, I find this very hard to believe. I do believe everyone at BiblicalMissiology has good heart motives, but your dad and Mark have made it very clear in several places that confronting “IM as a whole” is a major goal of the blogg. Add that to the percentage content related to this goal; the types of ministries, books, and people critiqued (the “names named” at Mark puts it); and the guest posts, etc.. and it is clear BiblicalMissiology DOES oppose IM “as a whole” and endeavours “to save as many people from its claws” as it can.

    Seriously, if this was not THE major goal of this blogg, you would need to blogg for at least year about totally unrelated subjects even to bring a different sense of balance. As you say there is a lot to talk about. BTW, I just want to say I really appreciated your “Global Zoo” article Andre. Absolutely spot on I think, as are a number of other posts such as Mark’s take on Piper’s ” Missions is 100% about glorifying God” message. But, these articles on other subjects are an exception to the clear focus on IM “as a whole”.

    “THE PROBLEM: You write “What happens if someone challenges BiblicalMissiology about THEIR theology?” That would be great! Let’s have it! …That’s why we are here. We each have viewpoints and something to share, so let’s discuss!”

    Actually, I do have a few theological points I hope to share, but I am holding back to see if it is worth it. Let me explain: the point of my last post was that BiblicalMissiology does not *just* want to “discuss”. Its fairly clear BiblicalMissiology wants to bring accountability as well. They want to suggest guidelines and see people, ministries, donors, and missions held accountable. I really think you guys should “come out” here. Discussion AND accountability is your agenda and this IS a noble cause. There’s no need to evade questions about this.

    You see, I’m all for accountability. We all need it. That’s what I mean by “worth it”. That is why I wanted to ask whether BiblicalMissiology is willing to be held accountable too, or was this accountability just one-way. Plenty of people claim to be biblical, but not all are “in the fold” of our global Evangelical movement. I believe the Lausanne Covenant is the best reference point we have as Evangelicals involved in mission. It is not scripture of course, but the issues discussed here are not scripture either, they concern theology and application. The LC offers theology and guidelines that are as biblical and true to the global Evangelical movement as we as a movement have been able to produce.

    “THE SOLUTION: You write about the Lausanne convention – not sure what you are getting at but I just verified that BiblicalMissiology does officially subscribe to the Lausanne Covenant. In the future you might want to take a stance of asking rather than assuming bad about someone.”

    I was just asking, Andre. In fact I actually *assumed* you were :-). As far as I have been able to make out, basically all Evangelical missions and denominations “subscribe” (“To sign one’s name to in attestation, testimony, or consent”) to its authority. So, any ministries that don’t would be either “outside the fold” of the worldwide Evangelical movement or “Evangelical” in a very narrow and culturally blinkered sense with respect to the voices of their brethren from other cultures.

    So, I am very pleased to hear you guys subscribe to the authority of this important document! Actually, I think it brings a lot more credibility to your blogg and that is why I was initially surprised that there is very little reference to this wider body of Evangelical believers in Mark’s or your dad’s posts. You should make this clear somewhere in your blogg. Yes, the guidelines of some church from some denomination somewhere in Minnesota can be interesting, but I think the guidelines set down by the Global Evangelical movement in the LC are far more relevant (especially if that church’s missionaries are hoping to leave Minnesota!)

    It also means that this blogg is a place where things are “worth” discussing. For example if you can demonstrate that my version of “biblical theology” is actually carrying me outside of the fold of the global evangelical movement then I would appreciate that correction very much. Vice versa also, and so I also appreciate your willingness to be held to account there. In the end, if it is just my biblical theology vs. the biblical theology of the Houssney family and their friends then the discussion seems somehow pointless. Don’t you agree?

    So, thank you for your encouraging response! I’ll see if I can come up with some theology to discuss then…

    -James

  22. I’m pretty sure there’s no end to the “he said, she said” or “I’m being more biblical than you are” arguments. So that’s why I tried to make it practical.

    I will agree with James – that it seems pretty clear to me that this site is not simply founded on trying to find and have “biblical” missiology (since we’re all trying to do that I’d guess with equal passion), but the site is, in fact, founded on trying to disprove and delegitimize C-5 and IM. Which is fair enough. And you’ve made it very clear that C-5 and IM are not biblical or heretical.

    So that’s why I gave you 6 very specific and real life examples of Arab Muslims who I suppose you’d say are C-5 or IM kind of folks. They are the ones who we should be concerned about, not me or us. So I’m simply asking – what of the following statements is NOT biblical?

    We can later ask questions like “what else should they be thinking, believing or doing” but let’s at least start somewhere. Can anyone suggest that anything below is UNbiblical?

    1. Safi would say he loves Jesus. He would say he follows Jesus.
    2. Samir believes Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
    3. Mustafa literally feed the hungry and takes care of widows and orphans in the name of Jesus.
    4. Riad will say in a very open and public way that “all Muslims should realize that the Qur’an is a book that focuses us on Jesus.” And that it very clearly shows that Jesus was, in fact, crucified.
    5. Samih saw Jesus in a dream and calls him “Savior.”
    6. Samir (another one) calls Jesus “Lord.” In the sense of “Master” which is what Kirios means – not “God”

  23. A. Houssney says:

    James – 

    I would like to respond to several things you have written here.

    The first and most important would be a comment about your style of communication. I have read with dismay many condescending and not-so-subtle insults directed towards others posting here. In your responses to Mark you have said that his words are “blunt instruments” you have implied that he is arrogant, (“God wouldn’t humble us like that would He?”) That he is not listening (“You desperately need the global body of Christ Mark.”)  That he is a xenophobe (“especially from those cultures you dislike.”)

    I would say this: I understand that people are excited and passionate about what is discussed here, but none of us should be impressed by this kind of ad hominem attack. The Bible instructs us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” but sinking to veiled personal attacks and acrimony does not sharpen but greatly dulls us.

    Let’s keep the conversation focused on the issues, not the personalities. A frank discussion of the topics is clouded when the atmosphere is tense with personal conflict.

    Lastly: You call Mark’s viewpoint into question and accuse him of living in a “western bubble.” You write: “I wish you could listen with empathy to those who have had their smug modern bubble broken by many years in a foreign culture (and I mean more than just a short-term stint as an expat in Turkey here).” In reading these words I would ask the following:

    1. Why do you call Mark’s opinion into question based on how long he lived where? What has that to do with anything? Do you claim personal authority greater than Mark based on your experiences? Mark has spent seven years living in Turkey, learning the language, and, unlike some expats who stay within a circle of their own kind + highly Westernized locals, lived, worked, and spent his time with locals, few westerners have more experience. Why do you seek to minimize his experience?

    I think that no matter how much knowledge we each have, it is unwise to dismiss the experience and insights of others.

    2. Is it your view that the more years an American lives abroad the more authoritative are his or her opinions? If that is the case are you prepared to accept the opinions of those with more experience than you have?

    The many people posting here have great experience in ministry in Islamic contexts – let’s not use these credentials to “one-up” each other, but rather to edify and inform one another.

    3. Does your appeal to authority extend to Easterners as well? Or is it only reserved for those of your own culture who have passed time (whether fruitful or not) in a distant culture? Are you prepared to accept the insights of fruitful and mature people of faith, from relevant cultures, people who have never, in fact, had a “modern bubble” to burst in the first place?

    You talk a lot about “listening” to the global church: are you ready to do so? If your answer to number three is “Yes! I have much to learn from the insights of missions leaders who come from the culture we are discussing” Than you might be in the right place on this blog – as Mark has pointed out, there are a lot of mid-easterners posting here. (Maybe you ought to take that into consideration before labeling a position “Colonialist”

    Now away from meta discussion to looking at content:

    AGENDA:

    As I understand it, BiblicalMissiology.org DOES have an agenda: Promoting Biblical Missiology. Pretty simple, right? As far as to “discredit, and perhaps even to close down” anything, that’s not our goal. I guess a fair inference would be that any group promoting “Biblical Missiology” would be naturally opposed to “UnBiblical Missiology”. It is an open question to some extent what is Biblical and what is not in missions – that is what we are here to discuss. If you feel you have something to add to the discussion you are welcome to try to demonstrate from scripture that whatever approach you advocate is biblical. I personally am very interested in discussing appropriate approaches to and applications of contextualization and its limits. There is a lot to discuss.

    “THE PROBLEM”:

    You write “What happens if someone challenges BiblicalMissiology about THEIR theology?” That would be great! Let’s have it! Not based on insult or insinuation, but based on scripture. That’s why we are here. We each have viewpoints and something to share, so let’s discuss!

    “THE SOLUTION”

    You write about the Lausanne convention – not sure what you are getting at but I just verified that BiblicalMissiology does officially subscribe to the Lausanne Covenant. In the future you might want to take a stance of asking rather than assuming bad about someone.

    You write:

    “I’m personally worried your missiology is a bit wacky and a little narrow. However, if you are willing to be accountable to this covenant, which is more biblical, global, “hearing the non-westerner”, than anything you or I could come up with, then basically I am happy”

    If you feel the viewpoints expressed here are “wacky and narrow” you have a right to your opinion, but please, rather than throwing around any more insults, show us from scripture where they have gone wrong. I would be interested to know which views present on this site you see as “wacky”. Concerning “narrow”, disagreement with certain beliefs does not constitute “narrowness”, nor does it confine the authors to a specific approach. In other words, just because several authors on BiblicalMissiology.org have opposed many aspects of IM, or even IM as a whole, it does not mean that they are not open to a variety of approaches. if it’s “hearing the non-westerner” you are after – (assuming you mean non-western believers in Christ) then maybe you ought to listen more and lecture less.

    Lastly, I find it quite astonishing how frequently one can observe those who call themselves “contextualists” advocating a “one size fits all” approach to missions. In order to contextualize properly, we need a great deal more sophistication than lumping everything “foreign” together. This is a classic American mistake.

    The fact that you tout M. M. Thomas (who comes from a pluralist Indo-European, not an absolutist Semitic culture) as an “Easterner” (when we are clearly discussing Islam) indicates to me that you might want to take some time to study the differences between the worldviews of Indian Hindu culture groups and those of Islamic cultures.

    It is certainly the case that applying cultural principles among Hindus to any particular Muslim context would be about as effective as enrolling your pet rooster in doggie obedience classes, but probably less comical.

    If there were an “Islamic culture 101″ class it would have to include the axiom that Islamic cultures are absolutist. Pluralism is not an Islamic value and “innovation in religion” is not tolerated in Islamic societies. Exceptions are very, very rare. 

    Once you realize that basic fact, Newbigins “The Gospel in a Pluralist Society”, (it’s a great book to be sure.) astute and passionate as the author may have been, does not really provide relevant insight into any Muslim context. The author did not write “the Gospel in an Absolutist Society.” How much more so the points that Thomas makes. The shoe simply does not fit. 

    If we can so easily confuse these two broad groups of cultures (Indian-Hundu and Islamic) – it’s clear that the western missions movement has A LOT more work to do educating itself before it can stop making such a disastrous mess of contextualization and begin to make some sense of the real issues. Admittedly this is going to be hard, even in the country of my birth (Lebanon) I still have a lot to learn about the many cultures, subcultures, and the rich histories of each, to say nothing of the interaction of Christianity and Islam with each one. Fortunately we don’t have to know everything to be effective at sharing what Christ came to share – his love.

    Thanks for posting, I hope you stick around and share your perspective!

  24. James says:

    Hi again.

    I’ve done a bit more reading… and just want to report back. I have a few more ideas about this guidelines idea you have posted. Please excuse all the quotes, but I want to give a source (just to show I’m reading :-)

    So here is what I understand from what I have read:

    AGENDA: BiblicalMissiolgy does have a very clear agenda. That appears to be at least to discredit, and perhaps even to close down any missionaries, projects, funding that is related to IM, C5 etc.

    Georges: “For too long one side had the platform, now it is our turn. The tide is turning. We rejoice that we have saved many people from confusion.”

    Georges: “However, it is extremely important for donors, pastors, Christian leaders, and mission directors to be aware of the pitfalls of this movement”

    Mark: “But IM is something all together different. The very tenants are anti-biblical … In it is deception. It’s either deceptive to the indigenous peoples about what is being represented, or it’s deceptive to the churches and supporters that the funding comes from because they are saying they are doing one thing, when the truth is another. This is why we encourage our readers to send letters to their church (We still do this). To find where they stand, but most importantly to get them thinking…Already organizations, churches, and MAJOR financial supporters are halting all support of C5 & IM…This is only building, …, I see it as a great cleansing is coming. I am glad that many are being called out, names named, and organizations named. It will only get more bold as the movement grows. I hope and pray every church, the whole Body of Christ takes notice. This cannot be ignored anymore”

    CREDIBILITY: BiblicalMissiolgy claim a large and growing following. They claim broad global support from local Evangelical churches and their converts. They claim international non-western credibility. They speak for those who cannot against the neo-colonialist westerners.

    Mark: “You do realize that MOST of those on the board of Biblical Missiology, and those who write articles are not western right? Many have grown up in the Middle East, Christians from a Muslims background, etc… This group you criticize for being non-global is very, very, very global. … I know many indigenous leaders around the world, and I have not found ONE who is an advocate of IM.”

    Georges: “I am not consumed by this but I am disturbed by it and I endeavor to save as many people from its claws as I can. My motivation is the converts themselves who have been hurt by this movement who feel devalued and marginalized. Many national churches are suffering from it and wherever I go I hear more and more horror stories of insiders hurting the church and causing division…”

    Mark: “We have prayed, fasted, read the Word, see the field, heard the cries of national leaders against the IM movement”

    ACCOUNTABILITY: BiblicalMissiology believes strongly in accountability. They believe they have understood the scriptures better than some others and that they have the duty to hold people and ministries to account. They are called to boldly root out heresy from Christ’s Body, to protect the Church. They believe any who feel qualified to teach should be held to a higher standard.

    Mark: “However, In the body of Christ we have a dual call. We are called to unity, but we are also called to sharpen one another, and even root out heresy and false belief. So I am sensitive in this, keeping unity, while being honest and making sure an ‘anything goes’ mentality is not part of the body, as it is clearly spoken against. Anything doesn’t go.”

    Georges: “Friends, I am not being nasty, I am warning us that we are allowing water to go under us and that one day this will become a flood we cannot handle. Let us shut it at its source before it destroys the church. And don’t tell me I am afraid. Nothing frightens me. You can tell me that I am being biblically obedient to God’s call to contend for the faith.”

    Mark: “However, I do hold you [Carl] personally to a higher standard, because God does as well.

    THE PROBLEM: (For obvious reasons this may just be my problem). What happens if someone challenges BiblicalMissiology about THEIR theology? Yes they have “prayed, fasted, read the Word” but as BiblicalMissiolgy points out, all the sects and heresies have done the same. Probably even those IM people!

    Mark: “We are always evaluating out motivations, seeking the Lord. We have prayed, fasted, read the Word, see the field, heard the cries of national leaders against the IM movement. We take all of these things, and are led by the Holy Spirit to take a stand. This Holy Spirit by which I am led to take a stand, I have and continue to test by the Word of God. Do you?”

    Mark: “So I ask, take this very same INDIVIDUALISM and direct it to yourself.”

    Carl: “Ouch the conversation between Mark and James is painful. The same points used against each other”

    Mark: “I mean, you’re making the points we make generally about you. *sigh*… Oh what to do, as neither agrees with the other.”

    I THINK GEORGES SUMS THE PROBLEM UP VERY WELL HERE:
    Georges: “Admittedly the task of handling the Word of God correctly is not that simple. The richness of the Bible and the vast gamut of topics and issues it covers causes many people to be lost in its ocean. With the lack of a central authority for evangelicals, missionaries are left to battle among themselves about the rightness or wrongness of their methods based on their various interpretations.”

    THE SOLUTION: It appears the reason BiblicalMissiolgy exists is because although “prayed, fasted, read the Word” is essential, it is NOT an all-inclusive list. The H/S has spoken time and time again through the Church, the Body of Christ (In addition to the first three. Don’t get me wrong here). The existence of BiblicalMissiolgy confirms that there needs to be dialogue and consensus within the Body too. And this is what I understand this website is trying to do by claiming global authority and calling ministries to account.

    OK so far?

    However, we as Evangelicals actually do have another reference point. It was created for the same reasons and with the same good motives as BiblicalMissiology. As we know it is called the Lausanne Covenant. Let me give you a quote:

    “The International Congress on World Evangelization was held in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974. The gathering … drew more than 2,300 evangelical leaders, from 150 countries. With the theme, “Let The Earth Hear His Voice,” leaders participated in plenary sessions and Bible studies as well as discussions and debates over theology, strategy and methods of evangelism. The gathering produced The Lausanne Covenant, a declaration that is “intended to define the necessity, responsibilities, and goals of spreading the Gospel.” Since 1974, the Lausanne Covenant has challenged Christians to work together to make Jesus Christ known throughout the world. Also, hundreds of organizations use The Lausanne Covenant as their ministry Statement of Faith.”

    QUESTIONS: So here are my questions:

    1) I’m personally worried your missiology is a bit wacky and a little narrow. However, if you are willing to be accountable to this covenant, which is more biblical, global, “hearing the non-westerner”, than anything you or I could come up with, then basically I am happy :-)
    If however, your biblical theology falls outside the scope of the Lausanne covenant, are you willing to take your own medicine, to stay accountable to the Global Body of Christ, to publicly repent or quietly close down this site?

    You do seem willing and humble….

    Mark: “If you find yourself having been in error, praise the Lord He revealed this to you, and let others know you have come to that conclusion. I also encourage Georges, and even myself to do the same thing when someone disagrees. This is the duty of a devout believer who truly believes God is the source of all truth and knowledge, and through Him we gain our direction.”

    2) Also, are you willing to keep your critique of others to those things that stray outside of the Lausanne Covenant? (Don’t worry there is still lots to criticise believe me)

    So, what do you say? Can you prove my sense that this blogg is “INDIVIDUALISTIC” is wrong? I truly hope so. Naturally, I am also willing to be called into account on the same questions and wish to apologise where I have not focussed on things that are clearly outside the LC earlier.

    Sorry to be so long. I think if we can agree on this then shorter posts are much more possible.

    Be blessed

    -James

  25. Mark

    Don’t know about anyone else, but I found this helpful. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I’m basically trying to narrow down the differences. They seem so slight, but you’re treating them as if they were huge. I know it’s always more interesting and makes for a better argument if the differences are huge rather than slight. Once again, here’s where I think we are:

    1. You and others on this site should at least consider not using the terms “IM” and “C-5″ as what your against as those terms create confusion. If you were to ask me straight up if I was part of those movements or believed in “that” I’d either say “no” or “what do you mean?” They’re just not that helpful. It sets up a convenient thing to be against, but I and others won’t know exactly what you’re against (or for) unless you spell it out.

    2. This is exciting – I AGREE. That they use the term “Muslim” is as irrelevant as using the term “Christian.” And I don’t encourage them to use “Muslim.” Just like I don’t want them to use “Christian.” That’s their social/religious identity. And their new identity in Christ is so much more important.

    3. That they still go (seldom as it is) to the mosque or read the Qur’an concerns you. Well, it does me in some senses. If they see that place and that book as their main source of spiritual food, that’s not good. But they don’t. And it’s odd that you (and the others here) keep “blaming” what you would think as IM strategies on Westerners. I can only suppose that means you don’t actually know Muslims who are following Jesus. Because it is THEY who are championing the idea that the Qur’an does NOT necessarily and clearly state that Jesus was not crucified. Of course, almost all Muslims believe that he was not crucified – we all know this – but the Qur’an actually doesn’t say that. And I’ve heard that from two westerners and a bunch of Muslims who are being honest about this.

    4. And again – WE AGREE. This is getting scary. Yes, it’s all about trajectory. Whenever I teach I use the centered set model of moving toward Jesus. There is an in and an out. A clearly defined line. But the main point is whether or not they are moving towards and becoming more like Christ. Well said!

    What’s interesting to me, in the end, is that you didn’t actually answer what I was asking. “Which of those things that these guys are doing are biblical or unbiblical.”

    What you answered – fairly enough, just not the question – was what they might not be doing. Or what else they could be doing. Why do you feel you aren’t able to simply rejoice and say “Wow, isn’t that amazing what God is doing leading these men to himself who are in high levels of society in the Arab world?” Why not?

    When Jesus was asked in John 6 what the work was that God requires, he answered that the work of God is this – to believe in the one he has sent.

    What if someone just said (like all my friends above and many more) – “I believe in Jesus.” Would that be okay, given that Jesus himself said that was the very work of God?

    Hey, I fall into the same temptation to always want to qualify and quantify everyone’s “quality of belief.” It’s easy to do. Interestingly Jesus often does not do that with those who follow. (Sometimes he does seem to, but many times not at all). Are we comfortable letting Muslims be on a journey towards Christ and let the Holy Spirit do the work? I know I’m trying to be. But it’s hard.
    carl

  26. Mark S. says:

    Thanks Carl for your post.

    Certainly I’m going to qualify what I am about to say, by saying, I don’t know these people, don’t know the details about them, so I can’t speak about their personal relationship with Christ.

    Certainly my first question would be, how long have they been believers, and what is their trajectory.

    On this website we talk a lot about generalizations, and in generalization there is a lot of freedom. I can give some guidelines on what we think should be, but to state where someone is, and is that ‘enough’ to be saved, is the wrong question I think. I think we talk about targets, and as long as they are moving towards the targets being led obviously by the Spirit of God, then great!

    However, you’re questions should be answered as best I can.

    1. That they still use the word “Muslim” to refer to themselves?

    Again, I’m not so caught up in a name, as long as those around them understand them not to be ‘Muslim’ like they are Muslim. Of course, the whole purpose for IM to use Muslims, as I see it, is to make it unclear that they are different. So using the term Muslim isn’t really beneficial in my opinion.

    2. That they still go to a mosque or read the Qur’an?

    Frankly, yes I do find that concerning. As a new believer maybe they haven’t realized everything yet. But if they are going to mosque and reading the Qur’an years after their ‘faith’ step, I would be extremely skeptical. What’s the appropriate time-frame? Well it would be great if it was on day one. But I think 3 to 6 months would be the most I’d give someone if they truly are Holy-Spirit filled and truth has been revealed to them. Otherwise, I think you’re dealing with a potential seeker still. I do want to be clear, that Islam is totally against Jesus being crucified, and certainly you’ll find none that think the Qur’an says that. I know the verses, I know the stretching Christian missionaries do to make it work. They are deceiving people when they argue otherwise. Hermeneutics of the Qur’an is important. We should not be in the business of deceptive interpretation of our own book, let alone other’s. Muhammad certainly never believed Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. Telling them such will lead them into a dangerous position, and potentially a great fall.

    3. That they are confused about some biblical theology?

    Depends on the biblical theology I suppose. :-) Again it’s about trajectory. If there is no movement, there is no trajectory. If there is negative movement, then something is not right. I’m not expecting them to have Paul’s intellectual theological mind their first year as a believer. But some things are basic, and actually is important. Again, they may be a seeker, but not saved.

    4. That they have renounced all things “Islamic?”

    I’m assuming you mean “haven’t” renounced all things Islamic. Again what’s Islamic. Some stuff is clearly Islamic, some stuff isn’t. Islam has a large Folk movement, and does mix with local culture, as does Folk Christianity. Again I’d be looking for trajectory and them looking through their own lives and culture seeking as to what is clearly pointing to truth and Christ, and what is pointing to a false concept of God.

    The 6 guys you introduced I’m sure are great guys, and something is different. But the reality is Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and name your christian cult are great guys too, and they would say a lot of “christian” and “biblical” things, but that doesn’t make them saved. There are also a lot of so called christians out there that do these things and aren’t saved because they honestly don’t know God. They just do a ‘good works’ false christianity, with no sincere faith.

    So again, I can talk in generalizations, but as for your friends, I have no idea. I can only pray that they are, pray that you give them biblical guidance, and as they read the word, ask, how do you think this applies to you? I’d certainly ask them that question when they are doing a study of the Corinthian books when the Corinthian church was faced with a similar question. How to be Greek, and a Corinthian, live in the city, and not be a pagan, and not associate with the alter of false gods.

  27. Ouch the conversation between Mark and James is painful. The same points used against each other. I was reading them thinking – would I be convinced by either one’s argument? Not a chance? Both claim biblical authority and an “understanding” of the issues at hand. Both quote other impressive people. Both just want to help the other see the faulty ways that they’ve fallen prey to…

    What about this? What if I list some things some of my Muslim friends who are following Jesu are doing and believing? And then we all weigh in on whether that’s “biblical” or not. These examples will all be men who have stayed fully in an Arab Muslim context and would still call themselves Muslims. 3. 3.

    1. Safi would say he loves Jesus. He would say he follows Jesus.
    2. Samir believes Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
    3. Mustafa literally feed the hungry and takes care of widows and orphans in the name of Jesus.
    4. Riad will say in a very open and public way that “all Muslims should realize that the Qur’an is a book that focuses us on Jesus.” And that it very clearly shows that Jesus was, in fact, crucified.
    5. Samih saw Jesus in a dream and calls in “Savior.”
    6. Samir (another one) calls Jesus “Lord.” In the sense of “Master” which is what Kirios means – not “God”

    Oh, and by the way, each of these real examples would agree with all of the others and what they say and believe and do. And they gather regularly for fellowship. And read the Word. And Pray. And worship.

    But they would still (infrequently) attend their local mosque. Read the Qur’an (also very infrequently). If you asked them what they believed about Muhammad or the authority of the Qur’an or whether they should keep going to the mosque or to explain the doctrine of the atonement or justification – they’d probably say “we don’t know.”

    So….(real question here)….would your concern (potential heresy) with guys like this be:

    1. That they still use the word “Muslim” to refer to themselves?
    2. That they still go to a mosque or read the Qur’an?
    3. That they are confused about some biblical theology?
    4. That they have renounced all things “Islamic?”

    Actually, I think these are very real issues and fair questions. And I really don’t know what your objections might be in these cases. Maybe this will be helpful to move the conversation forward in a productive way.

    (Oh, Mark – please do come to Denver and we’ll have dinner. And a great time. I’m sitting in my backyard writing this with my Golden Retriever sitting next to me, listening to country music).
    carl

  28. James says:

    Mark says:”In fact we believe the ‘West’ holds many of the problems that caused IM, as it is a western created methodology. IM started in western academia in the early ’70s.”

    Well I would say contextualisation has always been a difficult issue for the church ever since the HS spoke to Peter in Acts 10. Its been an on going story in every biography I’ve read. I doubt you are right about this current spat. You may want to have a look at the M.M. Thomas and Newbigin debate. I ‘m guessing that was also in the making of it. Here we have an Indian theologian making the case and a western one countering (so wrong again mark). It is famous are you familiar with it? Have a look here for a start:

    http://www.newbigin.net/assets/pdf/cc_h.pdf

    Both Newbigin and Thomas are discussing the same thing as you’re attempting here but in a so much much deeper and more eloquent way. Both are less hung up on minor issues and get to where real problems are. Now they are real theologians! You should have a look at Newbigin. I’m guessing if he wrote here you would cast him as one of THEM, but he is actually arguing your case…but with less blunt instruments. Have you read “The Gospel in a Pluralist Society”? Its an excellent work done by a passionate missionary and astute theologian.

    -James

  29. James says:

    Thanks Mark, Interesting…
    Sorry if my message was a bit rushed… had a lot of thoughts to get across in as short a time and as little space as possible…

    Youre right I have not read EVERYTHING here…. Hope that does not disqualify one from making a comment on what he does see.

    Anyway. That was well…. nteresting. You managed to sidetrack on most my major points, but thats my fault I guess for raising too many subjects at once. Hope to pop in another time and perhaps bring up just one point…

    Until then…

    You say: “You talk about reforming a name, “Muslim” fine, call yourself Muslim follower of Jesus”

    I would never do that myself, but I’ll take that as a step forward for you ;-)

    -James

    PS Just a thought…
    You may save a lot of confusion if you guys could agree on some definitions. Have I missed that somewhere on the site? How about you define what you actually mean by culture, Islam, religion, convert, identity, religious identity etc… Of course I know you don’t want anything to do with culture or (ugh) anthropology, but well you do USE these words right? Actually you bandy them around quite a bit. So you must think they mean something I guess. So why don’t you tell us and save us the fun of trying to figure you out? Take your definitions from the bible if you like. The main thing would be to use the same langauge! I think you would be surprised at how different your definitions are to IM people I have met (Im not one of THOSE by the way). Either you have to talk their language or they have to talk yours, or this nonsense will never end Mark. WWJD?

  30. Mark S. says:

    Hello again James,

    You are reading BiblicalMissiology.org right? I mean, you’re making the points we make generally about you. *sigh*

    First, let me explain, you don’t need to explain to the fish what water is. We are all well intelligent folks here. FYI, one of my degrees was in Anthropology and Sociology, so I do understand what you’re saying, and have to disagree with your view that this site is colonial, and all I can figure is that you haven’t read the articles, or have read just a few of them, or read them with your decision made up beforehand. We’ve even discussed the issue of colonialism, and neo-colonialism. Take a look at the Global Zoo which talks about Neo-Colonialism ( http://biblicalmissiology.org/2010/03/08/the-global-zoo/ ) Neo-colonialism is basically what IM is advocating. Neo-colonialism is the forcing the indigenous groups to remain in their lifestyles. Just as wrong as forcing the indigenous groups to adopt your culture’s lifestyles.

    As for finding truth in itself through ‘scientific’, or ‘hard studying’ as you so call it has been spoken about on this online journal many many times, and we take a clear stance that the Holy Spirit’s role is to point and “consult, and confirm” that what is said in the Word of God is true. The Word of God also gives very clear testimony to itself and that God uses the Word, and it is useful for learning, discernment, and being led by the Holy Spirit. One cannot be led by the Holy Spirit without being led by the Word if God, it’s like saying the Father is only necessary without the Son, or the Son can do all without the Father, and the Holy Spirit can do all without either or. That’s erroneous and I hope you’re not saying that.

    So let’s talk about your Points.

    INDIVIDUALISM: You do realize that MOST of those on the board of Biblical Missiology, and those who write articles are not western right? Many have grown up in the Middle East, Christians from a Muslims background, etc… This group you criticize for being non-global is very, very, very global. So I ask, take this very same INDIVIDUALISM and direct it to yourself. I know many indigenous leaders around the world, and I have not found ONE who is an advocate of IM. They are all very distressed about it. We do not believe the ‘West’ holds the answers. In fact we believe the ‘West’ holds many of the problems that caused IM, as it is a western created methodology. IM started in western academia in the early ’70s. Do not be deceived that it’s the Messianic Mosques that are propelling this ‘strategy’. And I dare say, the Bible gives no authority to idolatry tied to Christ. Acts 15 had nothing to do with that. Test the Spirits by the Word of God. You believe the Holy Spirit can do whatever it likes, but it cannot, it limits itself to the righteousness it finds in the unity with the Father and Son, those who say they are led by the Spirit of God but disobey the Word of God are deceived. That’s not scientific method, that’s simply what God says. Take it up with Him if you don’t like it. Finally cultures I dislike? Please do not address my cultural preferences personally. You don’t know what I like or dislike.

    ARROGANCE: Again, all I can say, you’re making a good argument against yourself. I have been very amicable with Carl. If he were ever in town he’s the type of guy I’d like to have dinner with and discuss some stuff (Not-IM obviously.) I have no issues with Carl as a guy, and on his Biblical view, I think mostly he’s in the right, with some gray-zone issues, and some definite wrong-side-of-the-line issues. But we’re all like that. Again, I don’t think you read our articles. No one here thinks we’re perfect. No one here is even part of the same denomination, theology, etc… We’re very diverse, and humbly serve one another. One thing that does unite us though is not sharing God’s glory with idol worship. We don’t like that, and in that, we’re pretty united. You’re united on the other side, and are just as stubborn, and refusing to listen to what anyone says. So again, take the log out of your eye prior to trying to strain out the gnat in ours. We are always evaluating out motivations, seeking the Lord. We have prayed, fasted, read the Word, see the field, heard the cries of national leaders against the IM movement. We take all of these things, and are led by the Holy Spirit to take a stand. This Holy Spirit by which I am led to take a stand, I have and continue to test by the Word of God. Do you?

    DICHOTOMISTIC THINKING: Culture and Religion are mixed, but to say Islam is a culture is foolishness. Go to a hundred different people groups that follow Islam, and you’ll find a hundred different cultures. Some aspects of Islam remain the same, some are effected by the culture, and some cultural attributes as not tied to Islam. It is not I who asked these to be separated, but God. I know you disagree, but what can I say. You disagree on anthropological grounds, and I disagree on what I believe to be Biblical grounds. God wants to sanctify individuals, and make them like ‘Him’. He wants them to take on ‘His’ culture. Not the US culture, not Kurdish culture, not Arab culture, not Chinese culture, but His culture. Sanctification is the process of that acculturation. I know you disagree, and I’m not trying to convince you, because of the previous argument “ARROGANCE”. But if you think that in heaven, there are going to be multiple departments in the “Kingdom of God” the African section, the Indian section, the Muslim section, etc… then you’re mad and the Bible says no such thing. The view of heaven is very homogenous in worship and expression. Yes, we are “FROM” every nation and tribe, but we are now “ONE PEOPLE”. The view that heaven is multicultural is unfounded in scripture and is an expression of post-modernism. Heaven has one culture, God’s. This effects my daily life on earth. I am called to crucify myself, daily to the world, americanism, modernism, postmodernism, etc… and to take up my cross and follow Christ, and put on his Culture. Daily I am called to this, and God-willing daily I will be less who I was and more like Him. What is not in alignment with His culture will be threshed away. Anything tied to religiosity, tends to be the first things to go. One cannot follow Christ and follow Muhammad for long. It’s incompatible. One cannot identify with the alter of Islam, and the body of Christ for long. The Holy Spirit won’t allow it.

    DUALISM: Just save their souls missiology? No, I am not concerned about saving souls. I’m concerned with giving God glory. He handles the souls, I don’t. I know you’re going to hate this, and call me a modernist, but where in the Word of God does it say God’s purpose (not mine) is to redeem anything that isn’t a soul? Does God want to redeem culture? I bet you’ll say yes. Does he want to redeem your school? Your company? Your car? These are all man-made things. If you like, convince me. But I see God’s purpose is not to ‘save souls.’ His purpose is to bring Himself glory. He saves some to do this, and lets some perish to do this. But when it comes to redemption, only souls are able to be ‘saved’. My car, dog, school, culture, etc… will not be in heaven with me. What glorifies God is not how I change my culture around me, but how I am changed by Him to be like Him, and not like the culture and World around me. Why would we be called aliens to this world, a new creation, if we were meant to remain like the world and the old?

    DIVISIVENESS: I understand your view here, and certainly this is something I have concerned myself with in prayer, etc… I do not like denominations. I believe there should be much more unity in the body. Whether in the local church or national, denominational, etc.. I very clearly place myself in the Body of Christ, the global church. However, In the body of Christ we have a dual call. We are called to unity, but we are also called to sharpen one another, and even root out heresy and false belief. So I am sensitive in this, keeping unity, while being honest and making sure an ‘anything goes’ mentality is not part of the body, as it is clearly spoken against. Anything doesn’t go. I rarely call people heretics. I don’t believe I have called anyone a heretic on this blog. Some have, and they have their own opinions in that. But I do find it easier to call views heretical. I just got done the other day commenting to Carl that I look at him as a brother in Christ that I am hoping reforms his views on IM through fasting and prayer, and the Word of God. All of this of course is honed and guided by the Holy Spirit. So please don’t think that’s ‘scientific’. I have been told I’m divisive before, but always by people on the other end of those heretical views, never by people on the side lines. So, I pray, fast, and consider these things. I take them seriously, and always have.

    MONOLITHICISM: You say, “God plainly desires extreme cultural diversity.” I must be blind, as you so clearly have said again and again. Plainly, I don’t see it. I see nothing plain that God values cultural diversity in itself. Does God use diversity? Yes, he uses everything. Does He desire cultural diversity? That’s another statement altogether, which I don’t see biblically. So where’s the verse that says, “I the Lord desire extreme cultural diversity!” I know, you don’t like looking at the Bible, you want to be led by a Spirit, but really, for my blindedness sake, where is it in the scriptures?

    Again, I don’t think you’ve read our articles. We talk about Muslims, but we also say clearly say that there is no such thing as a unified Islam. You talk about reforming a name, “Muslim” fine, call yourself Muslim follower of Jesus, but disassociate yourself from the Koran, Muhammad, Islamic worldviews, etc.. which are rooted in the Koran, and not God’s Word. A footnote in this article gives a good example of what’s going on in IM Muslim Followers of Jesus.

    “Phil Parshall notes that a 1995 survey of national C5 MBB’s, representing 68 congregations from 66 villages, revealed that 96% still believed that the Koran was divinely inspired; 66% said that the Koran was the greater than the Bible; and 45% felt peace or close to Allah when listening to the reading of the Koran. Parshall, Phil. Muslim Evangelism:A contemporary approach to contextualization, Gabriel Pub, 2003, pg. 70.”

    These MBB’s, or what you’d call Muslim Followers of Jesus, were not just normal members, but were leaders of their “Messianic Mosques”. You say IM is great, but clearly no change is happening. They have tacked on Jesus to their Islam, not changed the meaning of Muslim. This is syncretism. Plain and simple. Do you think we’re against IM because of the word Muslim? We’re against it because it produces false fruit. You want movements? A movement is not the sign of God’s work. It’s a sign of movement. The world are full of movements, clearly false and anti-biblical.

    CONTROL: What we desire to control as you so say, I rather call it lift up, and hold as a model is not western church, nor eastern church, and certainly not muslim church, but God’s church. The Bible, which you don’t like looking at apparently is not so convoluted. It allows freedom in Christ, but in the same freedom it’s restrictive. We are free from the law, be held to a higher one, one of service to the unity of the body, and purity of faith in Christ. There is not much I’d take a stand against. Really, I am quite a nice guy across all circles of believers. Charismatics, Pentecostals, Baptists, etc… I don’t really care what they do. I may not agree, but whatever…. But IM is something all together different. The very tenants are anti-biblical because the purpose of it is to gut other religious systems and wear them as coats. In it is deception. It’s either deceptive to the indigenous peoples about what is being represented, or it’s deceptive to the churches and supporters that the funding comes from because they are saying they are doing one thing, when the truth is another. This is why we encourage our readers to send letters to their church (We still do this). To find where they stand, but most importantly to get them thinking. You fear them thinking about these things, we do not. We are not in control, but God is, and He is doing something. Already organizations, churches, and MAJOR financial supporters are halting all support of C5 & IM. It’s being talked about in the mainstream and people are waking up to its dangers. This is only building, and while you may see it as divisive, I see it as a great cleansing is coming. I am glad that many are being called out, names named, and organizations named. It will only get more bold as the movement grows. I hope and pray every church, the whole Body of Christ takes notice. This cannot be ignored anymore.

    So thanks for your lecture, I think it’s really faulty though. You act as though you’re teaching something we don’t know and are ignorant of. You call us colonialists, we call you neo-colonialists. Oh what to do, as neither agrees with the other.

    I can speak for the journal on this. Our purpose is not really to convince you, or Carl, or IM teachers and advocates. Our goal is to get the information out there, allow the normal person to read and learn, and decide for themselves.

    So thank you for the comment. Hope you have a nice day.

  31. James says:

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for your response. I guess I should I try to explain my comments a bit. The problem will be though, that it’s like talking to a fish about water…”Water? What water?” Shall I attempt to explain water to a fish?

    I’m encouraged by Carl here, so lets try. Let me try and explain what I mean by “modern” first and then I hope you can see some of the background to the mention of dualism, independence, etc..

    The core of the Enlightenment was this idea: “I don’t need the pope to tell me what Truth is, I can discover it by myself, through scientific method”. The key idea is man’s desperate search for objectivity apart from God (echoes of mankind’s first rebellion in Eden here). So, man lost trust in the pope’s claim of objectivity, and put his trust in the tools of science. Suddenly, “Modernity” was upon us…

    The Reformation applied this same thinking to the “science of God”: theology. And, so we have “I don’t need the pope to tell me truth, I can discover what is true by myself through applying scientific methods to the Bible”. Sound familiar? Yes, our Evangelical (and Liberal for that matter) movements are based on Enlightenment thinking and method, even though they run counter to the general flow of western culture. If you like (but I guess you won’t) Evangelicalism and Liberalism are twin sisters; both are highly contextualised C5 expressions of following Christ in within the modern worldview.

    (At this point I probably need to add that there’s been some pretty good things come out of Modernity / Enlightenment thinking. So I am not anti-modern or something like that. And, I also probably need to say I don’t see post-modernism as any more “Biblical” either.)

    So with that little introduction, let me try to explain why after having a good look around I began to have some very serious concerns about this blogg. As Carl also points out, signs of modernity are all there, and unfortunately many of the worst aspects. For example:

    INDIVIDUALISM: Mark, I cant help getting get the impression you feel you can find truth by yourself through bible study. Done with good scientific methods (read: “exegeses”) of course) and yet without any reference to the global body of Christ. That’s not biblical. There are many examples of the early church changing their theology after listening to the input from other brethren. Act 15 is a good example here. The theology of the Jerusalem believers WAS biblical yet the H/S spoke through Peter and his friends’ testimony and so they prayerfully adjusted it. God speaks though his people. Is it possible that God would speak to the blind points of western evangelicalism, to our deep pride in the scientifically based biblical method our culture has produced, through our brethren that still call themselves “”Muslim? Ouch! God wouldn’t humble us like that would He? Well, knowing Him a little bit, it seems just like the sort of thing He likes to do… You desperately need the global body of Christ Mark. You can’t avoid theological blindspots without empathically listening to your brethren – especially from those cultures you dislike.

    ARROGANCE. The illusion of objectivity that the modern worldview gives is perhaps the most sinister of its fruits. All worldviews have blind spots, yet modernity’s blind spot is the illusion of no blind spots! When you are right, there is no need to listen with empathy to the other side (so good luck to you Carl!)

    DICHOTOMISTIC THINKING is deeply imbedded in modernity’s need to classify. Especially the splitting between natural and supernatural. Evangelicals and Liberals went separate ways on this (as twins often do) to the detriment of both sides. Mark, please meditate on this: it is only converts to the modern worldview that make a distinction between culture and religion. These are the natural and the supernatural aspects of people lives – you can’t separate them. I know it may appear “self-evident” but you just won’t find that strange idea outside of your western bubble. Again it is just not biblical. I just wish you could listen with empathy to people who have had their smug modern bubble broken by many years in a foreign culture (and I mean more than just a short-term stint as an expat in Turkey here)

    DUALISM: The evangelical embrace of the spiritual half of modernity’s natural/supernatural dichotomy led to a “come away be separate” stance to culture and a lopsided “just save their souls” missiology. Culture is seen as evil – or “earthly” as you put it. Niebuhr’s discusses this in “Christ and Culture”… Have you read this book? Just from my reading of some of your comments Mark, you come across as pretty high on the “Dualist” category he describes. I could be wrong, and even if my guess is right that’s fine…that’s even “biblical”. Just realise there are other-just as biblical-theologies of culture out there. If the word “relativism” just flashed up in your head now Mark, please understand that is a symptom of what I’m trying to point out to you. I know that’s a hard one to swallow for a modernist, but please believe me when I say I am NOT a relativist, I DO believe in absolute Truth. Theology however, is man’s interpretation of God’s inspired Word, and so we have 1000s of denominations, African and Asian theologies, and now apparently some kind of socio-religious-Muslim theologies. Scary? Only for the modernist. Gods truth is unchanging.

    DIVISIVNESS. The modernist says: “Because I have discovered the Truth objectively with my scientific exegesis, and yet you disagree with me, you must be wrong! What’s more, falsehood is of the devil, so I cannot fellowship with you, for you are plainly working for the devil!” Add that to individualism and arrogance, and you can see why we have thousands denominations in the USA plus a string of nasty bloggs set up by self-proclaimed “watchmen on the walls”. Probably the most humorous article I’ve read here (I think it was this site) was someone accusing IM of poor ecclesiology. Such hilarious hypocrisy. The western theologising of IMs (which are happening indifferent to whether we theologise or not) is merely carrying the “protest-ant” tradition (the individualistic right to start a new denomination if I like) onward in its DNA. Only an Orthodox priest has the right to this argument (and I am sympathetic to it – this aspect of Modernity has done great harm to the body of Christ)

    MONOLITHICISM – not sure if that is a word. Heres what I mean: The core of goal of the scientific worldview is to separate context from truth. I do experiments to separate the local environmental variables (context), to generate universal rules (truth). The modern worldview despises the “soft” sciences because it hates the thought that local context (basically the list you gave: “gut feelings, culture, etc…”) can be important. It wants to make universal rules. These guidelines, your comments, and this blogg in general has turned “Islam” into uniform monolithic system and then labelled it evil. Yet Islam ist extremely diverse, theologically, culturally, ethnically etc… No one can answer the questions above without reference to the local context… A problem with this blogg is that it is prescribing a single one-size-fits-all solution. Again this is totally unbiblical. God plainly desires extreme cultural diversity. Mark, there is no way you can know what “Muslim” means in every local context. You may perhaps point to muslim theology books (oh how we modernists love theology and printed textbooks!) and yet the reality is that theology like dictionaries RESPOND to culture. (eg If I want to know what a word used to mean, I look up a dictionary. If I want to know what it will soon mean I just ask my kids…) If some Muslim Christ-followers want to attempt to change the meaning of the word “Muslim” why are you against them???

    CONTROL: The Enlightenment spawned the industrial revolution and colonialism which was all about using the power of knowledge to control and exploit God’s creation. Being right gives the right-no, the responsibility-to control. The fruit: Top-down control systems, mechanical church organisations instead of movements etc. Add this to “Monolithicism” and one believes one has the right to dictate how things should be done universally, how Christ should be followed universally (same way we do of course!), what symbols should mean universally (what gives you the right to define the symbol “Muslim”?) This control aspect is a very clear objective of this blogg. An a positive note here, I do appreciate very much that you seem to have taken down that petition-thing you were wanting churches and missions to sign up on – it was plain manipulative and nasty! Partly why I reply to this post is that I’m concerned that these guidelines are a newer more subtle attempt. Lets hope not.

    Anyway, enough….So you are a C5 Christ-follower contextualising your faith within your modern worldview. “Honing” it as you say. That’s fine by me. We all have culture as our water… I think there’s no need to list all the benefits the modern worldview has brought: science, medicine, helpful machines, computers… etc. etc. Yet, after a few centuries the weak points in modernity are also very obvious. The mistakes the colonial missionaries made (amongst all the GOOD things that were done I hasten to add, hoping to avoid any accusation about my western shame over colonialism etc. etc. blah blah.. Actually I’m doing fine thanks Quite relaxed about my cultural roots) are due to modernity’s weaknesses as listed above: individualism, blind arrogance, control, patronising attitudes, reification of theology (rooted in Descartes: I think therefore I am) etc…

    Frankly, this blogg seems like an attempt to set the clock back to the heady days of colonialism. Now, I don’t blame the colonialist missionaries; they were working as best they could within the worldview they had. But to make the same mistakes 200 years later is just plain foolish.

    -James

  32. Mark S. says:

    Warrick,

    I’ve answered these questions before, but in summary, there is a difference in saying the Bible mandates something and the Bible supports the use of something. The use of the word “Christian” isn’t mandated, but it is supported. Also to take the position Carl and others are taking, to shun the word “Christian” it is not a biblical principle. The Bible actually honors those who don’t shun it. I understand your context, and it’s not a context that is no different anywhere or anywhen else. Christian wasn’t a pleasant word during the early church, and in the middle east it’s not either. It’s not here in the states, and not in Europe. To say I have a special case where Christian is bad, really isn’t true. Can you use “Follower of Christ”, “Believer in Jesus”, “Jewish”? Sure, why not, but to deny or confuse, obfuscate, detract, or hide Christian shouldn’t be your goal. I am a christian. Just because half my street think they are and lead worldly lives doesn’t mean I should change my name. It means I should glorify God, and by my good behavior, and the words I preach, through the gospel show them what calling oneself a “Christian” really means.

    As for using quotes, perhaps I disagree with the article, I’m not certain it took a stance. A couple of quotes used from greek in the Bible does not mean one should do it. The Bible gives a lot of examples of what to do and what not to do. I do not think there is a teaching in the Bible to use quotes from other’s Holy Books. Paul quoted “Unknown God” and a verse from a poem. Neither was a holy book. If anything it was using pop culture to point to the Gospel. However, what one does is far less weighty teaching than what one says to do in the Word of God, and certainly if the Word speaks against it, that is even more important. The Bible teaches have nothing, nothing, nothing to do with the alter of false religions. As I have said before, I have quoted the Koran sparsely. Over time, I’ve found that not useful for the welfare of the person I am sharing with. It neither glorifies God, nor spiritually speaks to the individual. But when I quote the Word of God, the Bible, that’s entirely changes things. Why why play with the Koran? I just go directly to the Bible and glorify Christ much more, and the Holy Spirit seems to produce more results from that.

    So I keep hearing on this site the phrase, “All truth is God’s truth.” That’s really deceptive. Know that the Devil knows truth as well, but takes truth and twists it so as to lead down a path of destruction. Satan is far wiser than you, and frankly, formed Islam in a way that uses truths in hand with deception to point away from ultimate truth. While truth is truth, our hearts and soul are corrupt, and when dealing, especially with non-believers, playing with ‘truths’ in a context of falsehood is a mine field. Why not just use the Book of all Truth? The Holy Spirit loves that, and God get’s glorified.

  33. James, your comments were very perceptive. I hope you will follow http://muslimministry.blogspot.com/ and contribute there as well.

  34. Mark S. says:

    James,

    Thanks for the post. You said, “extreme individualistic and dualist theology like Mark.S” I’m not exactly sure how to feel about that nor what you mean about that.

    But, let me comment on what you said.

    First, I think it is a myth that one thinks the Holy Spirit only works on the field and cannot give discernment to people who are praying, fasting and seeking direction prior to the field, especially when led by people who have been on the field for quite awhile as leaders and mentors. The Mission board that wrote this guideline is such an example. These questions and concerns stem from decades of missions experience in the field.

    Second, the Bible calls us to test the Spirits. How can one test the spirits that influence us except by the Word of God? How can one know what the Word of God without studying it? If a missionary cannot read the Word of God, and get from it the general and sometimes specific directions that God wants to give then they should NOT be in the field. Will they magically start to read the Bible in the field? Magically start discerning in the field? To think going into the field without preparation is wise, and creates a learner attitude is ridiculous. Everyone, west, east, north and south has presumptions they have built and will act on. I prefer to hone, remove, grow, harness those presumptions and sharpen them against the Word of God. These guidelines for thought do a good job of that.

    Third, with a Biblical knowledge (which IS lacking in the field, come on we must admit this. It’s even lacking here in the West, which is why this site is here.) one can properly test the Spirits and build upon their knowledge of God in the field, gaining even more discernment within the context of their solid Biblical knowledge. Nothing we have said is contrary to having a learner attitude. But one MUST enter the field with godly biblical knowledge, otherwise there are far more examples of worse outcomes. You say, “What about teaching people to read God’s Word and to hear God’s Spirit speak through it? ” That’s EXACTLY what these guidelines are asking, and you denounce it? You contradict yourself. This whole document is for the purpose of taking the questions that will arise, and going to the Word of God and getting discernment from the Word and Holy Spirit.

    Fourth, I did not find a patronizing attitude in this guideline, rather I found it saying, Bible knows best so take a look at it, which is an attitude I would think someone would actually want to instill in those they work with.

    Fifth, you said, “The modernistic missiology” of this site. I actually find that funny. We work hard to make certain everything is in the Word of God. Neither Modern, nor Post-modern, neither legalistic, nor relativistic, because the Bible promotes neither. I also think you saying we focus on theology and not the Holy Spirit probably is an insult to all the Charismatics who take Biblical Missiology seriously. Biblical Missiology is made up of a diverse background of several theological views. There is not one view, except that of the Supremacy of the Word of God in the application of all things, especially Missions. Even the charismatics agree that the Holy Spirit does not disagree with the Word of God, and that every believer should be using it daily, and asking the hard questions of life from it.

    In final, I can only assume you came to this article for the purposes of disliking it, and found what you were looking for.

  35. Mark,

    When I saw your name as the one who posted the article, I thought it was your comments in the “biblical considerations” sections above. So, sorry, I should have thanked ERIK for acknowledging two things (I was quoting ERIK in the above post):
    1. that there is no biblical mandate to call oneself a “Christian,” and
    2. that New Testament indicates that there is a place for using brief quotations from local religious or cultural literature as a pointer to Christ.

    I deeply appreciate the perspectives of people involved with Piper’s ministry, as Piper has been a major influence on my life and ministry.

    In the context I minister in, the word “Christian” means “Catholic.” I don’t think the Bible “encourages” me to identify myself as a Catholic even though I am not a Catholic. In my opinion, our encouragement is to identify ourselves with the biblical Lord Jesus, as Erik nicely explains above. It is not a black and white issue.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you we need to get people in the Bible, as it is the best evangelist. I’m glad you refer to Acts 17, where Paul uses a pagan quote of Zeus and to connect with their worldview, but he redirects the saying to the one true God (vs. 28). Of course, all truth is God’s truth, but only the Bible has the power to transform. So in building bridges with Muslims, we are to follow apostolic example and use pieces of the Qur’an as a pointer to Christ in the Bible. I think this is what Erik meant when he wrote above, “that New Testament indicates that there is a place for using brief quotations from local religious or cultural literature as a pointer to Christ.” Perhaps Erik can comment, or perhaps you disagree with him? In any case, we need to get people into the Bible, and thankfully the Bible teaches us how to do that.

    Again, I’m glad for the biblical faithfulness and integrity that Erik showed in his above answers. Another reason why I like Bethlehem Baptist Church.

  36. James says:

    Hi
    These “guidelines” (actually questions) are very sad indeed. They represent several major steps BACKWARD in missiology as follows:

    1) A step backwards from the hard-learned lesson that missions should be FIELD-DRIVEN. I am not surprised that the self-acclaimed “Biblical Missiology” people think these questions are a great idea since it appears to be a goal of the site to prevent missionaries they don’t like from carrying out the calling God has put on their lives. However, “head-office-controlled” or even worse “sending-church-controlled” mission it is definitely NOT a biblical approach.

    2) It appears this is also a step backwards from another hard-learned missions lesson: that new missionaries need to enter the mission field with a LEARNER attitude. The problem is that this questionnaire appears to encourage the candidate to think that they could actually arrive on the field with the answers to these questions nailed down. I guess it really depends upon the committee that “reviews and discusses their answers” since these are not guidelines at all – they are questions. It is probably a good thing that these questions will very quickly weed out one kind of “know-it-all missionary newbie” that wants to force their one-solution-fits-all on the locals without bothering to listen to and learn from them (i.e. the IM variety). However, one wonders whether it will only encourage other kinds of “know-it-all-newbie” that can be just as destructive (a good example would be those with the extreme individualistic and dualist theology like Mark.S appears to promote on this site)

    3) Another hard-learned lesson is that missionaries need to take up mid-wife-like roles in church planting. There is a deeply patronising attitude that flows right through these questions that seems to imply that the missionary will always know best. What about teaching people to read God’s Word and to hear God’s Spirit speak through it? The modernistic missiology that this site promotes has too little trust in the Holy Spirits ability to lead believers into all truth, and too much faith in their “theology” which is by the way a “cultural production” since it is created by man and not God.

    -James

    ps: keep trying Carl ;-)

  37. Patrick says:

    As far as the document goes, I think that Bethlehem Baptist sets a good example for other churches to follow. Too often any one who says he/she is called to the mission field is sent. I have seen on the field how many workers come with almost a total inability to think theologically, biblically, and critically about these issues. A lot of the problem is with the sending churches. We really need to rethink ourparadigm for sending missionaries. This is a great document for discussion .

    One of the more important questions in the document is ” Which is the more apt biblical parallel, Islam and second-temple Judaism (i.e. the synagogue, Acts 13.14-42) or Islam and paganism (i.e. Acts 17.22-34)?” This is really the issue. What does the Bible say about other religions. It is always negative. Just because Muslims are monotheistic doesn’t mean that they are not pagan. Obviously , others will accept Buddhists , Hindus, etc. This all goes back to John Hick, Hans Kung, etc. The “new” pot-modern approach is not really new.

  38. Mark
    Thanks for your honest and gracious response. I am sorry that I got a little excited there. I was just expecting a vastly different response from my last email – my fault….

    I appreciate this conversation. Seems I’m the only one brave (or dumb) enough to venture into your discussion who doesn’t agree fully agree with all your saying. Don’t know where the others are, but I’m happy to be the guinea pig – good for me and maybe good for you.

    Mark, you say you still don’t know where I stand on some issues. I agree, that there’s really no reason you ought to know, but I’m happy to try again.

    I believe the Bible is fully inspired and true through and through. I believe a real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. I believe that God is fully revealed as Father, Son and Spirit. I do not believe Muhammad was a prophet like the Prophets of the O.T. I do not believe the Qur’an is inspired. (Although I believe it has some truth – all truth is God’s truth, wherever it’s found).

    Seems we have two issues mainly – does a Muslim have to convert to the religion called Christianity and call himself a Christian….and….. Is the Allah of the Qur’an the same as the God of the Bible.

    Since I’m guessing you would agree that the point is not for Muslims to “join a religious system called Christianity” – and that the real point is for them to have a biblical relationship with Jesus Christ – then to insist in the word “Christian” seems odd. Particularly since there are many other words used more often in the Bible to describe that relationship other than “Christian.” Why the insistence on that word. Why not insist they be called “family.” Or “in the Kingdom.” Or “Believers” or “Followers of the Way.” Or “followers of Jesus.”

    Just seems like a game of semantics that is missing the point.

    Not sure if this works, but a new way of thinking about the Allah issue would be this – we both agree a Muslim (and everyone else) needs to come to Jesus to know God. So who cares what the god is called or what “god” they are thinking of BEFORE they know Jesus. Since it only matters what happens once they are enlightened by the Spirit as to the work of the Cross and come to the one true God.

    Since you’re not concerned about the word – Allah – then your only worried that Muslims are thinking of the wrong God. Who cares? I don’t even get the issue. They need Jesus. I prefer to say (what I think is more accurate AND more helpful) that Muslims believe in God wrongly. But either way, the result is the same.

    Finally, I think we miss each other – and you miss what others in the C-5 and I.M. movements bring to the table by thinking that there’s some way to interpret the Bible “purely.” You say that you don’t want to academia, books, anthropology, culture, etc. help in the interpretation of the scriptures. But we are all subject to those things. Do we really think there is such a thing as a pure interpretive ability that is not affected by the various lenses we’ve grown up with? Not a chance.

    We are all doing missiology from the Bible. But we do it in context. We learn that in our first year of seminary. And our theology is largely driven by our experience. And so our theology and missiology are closely connected.

    I love this discussion, honestly, It’s good for me. I think the way the you all are thinking is unique – very modernistic and western, but good nonetheless. Keep going and I’ll try to not get defensive and still push back some (so no one gets bored).

    carl

  39. So far I have not read anyone interacting with Erik Hyatt’s document.
    Is there any merit to this well thought through document? I am sure Erik would love to hear any SPECIFIC comments.
    Let us talk and not fight.

    I refuse to be dragged into a personal conflict. This is not about me or anyone else. If anyone wants to say something support it with scripture and we can interact on that level.

    Please when someone comments on an article to stick to that article.

  40. Mark S. says:

    Carl,

    I appreciate your desire to be humble, and hope that you are seeking through prayer, fasting, and praying through the Bible the discernment and wisdom of the Lord.

    I think that’s what we all want here, is His wisdom and discernment which is so richly given through His Word.

    I have read and re-read your articles, on your site and this, and still do not know where you land. And that’s fine. I don’t need to know. My conversations on this blog are not to attack a person, but to lift-up Christ and His Word and to put to lower any other way of thinking.

    I think the article posted here is a great opportunity to read through it, pray for discernment, get into the text, weigh these things in a biblical context (as I know we all do desire) and to remove any other context of weighing them.

    All of us have baggage, both good and bad that we bring with us into studying the Word. The good news is that we don’t need that baggage to understand the Word of God. We simply need The Spirit of Truth to guide us.

    Often we make this far more complicated than necessary.

    On both sides pride and rightness and wrongness plays a factor. Education, and defense of our earthly values as well.

    These are the muddied waters, and they flow equally on both sides of this issue.

    I am not trying to shame anyone into anything, but to say, hey, let’s try to distill these waters by focusing on what we both agree to be true. The Word of God. The Bible.

    Let’s remove

    – Anthropology
    – Academia
    – Numbers
    – Gut feelings
    – Books (earthly)
    – Culture
    – Works
    – Other religions
    – etc…

    For all of these are certainly up for debate for they are honestly extrapolated by human thoughts and cunning. I am not saying they aren’t useful to think about what has happened, but I do think they aren’t useful for creating strategy.

    But I believe we BOTH agree that the Word of God, the Bible, is God made, and is something we both can follow with all of our hearts.

    I think we also both agree that Islam, while may have bits of truth in it, is man made. Following it, and any human construct, is a treacherous path, full of land mines that can quickly and easily take someone out.

    I believe that our job is not to wade through another religion, or human construct, picking and choosing what we believe, and what is useful to keep as right or wrong, etc… That again, involves human involvement. Humans are as faulty as Islam. I am as faulty as any human construct, because my human mind is the construct that builds and is built by other human constructs.

    I do not believe anyone in this forum has ever said Allah is a moon god. In fact, I think most everyone, if not everyone in this forum has been fine with using the word ‘allah’ as an arabic word translation for the word ‘god’ in english. Our contention is not a linguistic one, but rather a substance one. This is why I continually say the ‘god of Islam’ and not allah, because I want the issue discussed on substance, not linguistic levels. The Christians in the Middle East have used Allah for centuries as a word for Yahweh/Elohim, I am not a person to disregard their use of their own language. Linguistic arguments are only useful when we are introducing a word into their language that didn’t exist before. This is rare.

    What I’m saying is that I encourage you to pursue thinking about this. I also encourage all people whether IM or not to make your life, a life of looking for your idols (we ALL have them) and when we find them, rub them out with the passion and power of the Holy Spirit. I have never called you a heretic. As far as I see a heretic is a person who is outside of the body, and refuses to recant, or seek guidance from the Holy Spirit (cause they don’t have it.) I certainly hope you are my brother, and being redeemed by our Father by the cleansing power of His Spirit.

    However, I do hold you personally to a higher standard, because God does as well. You are a teacher. The scriptures hold those who teach to higher levels of responsibility. So for your own sakes, I hope you do take any time someone disagrees, as a time to reflect and soul-search through prayer and prayer through the scriptures. If you find yourself having been in error, praise the Lord He revealed this to you, and let others know you have come to that conclusion. I also encourage Georges, and even myself to do the same thing when someone disagrees. This is the duty of a devout believer who truly believes God is the source of all truth and knowledge, and through Him we gain our direction.

    I hope I am not on a cause of Anti-IM, but rather I hope I am on a cause to bring people closer to God. Yes, I believe IM is counter-productive to drawing closer to Him. But I do try to seek discernment on this issue for myself, and I ask you, and anyone else to do the same.

  41. So am I the only one who sees the arrogance of these sort of replies like the one here from Georges? I humble myself, Georges hammers me! Unbelievable.

    Seriously, Georges, do you think you’re the ONLY one on earth who wants to be “biblical.” Do you now see that all of us are using the same book – do you assume that only YOUR interpretation is right? Your arguments are often good. I agree with the VAST majority of what you say. And you actually agree with the VAST majority of what I say. And even what most of the I.M crowd say. That’s the irony. But you can’t give an inch?

    Very discouraging.

    Your last comment says it all “Now it’s our turn.” Are we taking “turns” gaining the platform? Is that how you see it? A contest? And now “your side” is winning the battle for true “biblical missiology” as compared to my (and others’) UNbiblical missiology? Your on God’s side and we’re on the side of Satan? Come on. Come down off the high horse. Your killing me….

  42. The Missionary movement is divided. Unity in the entire movement is not likely to happen. However, each one of us is responsible before God to examine our own ways. This blog is not meant to be a battle field. We do deal with controversial issues. However we are not as much against anything or anyone as we are FOR BIBLICAL accuracy. The task is not easy in light of all the literature and the politically correct publications that promote the Insider Movement positions. Do Insiders have the right to promote their views and we don’t? Do they hold the monopoly on the word of God?
    This blog is bringing together men and women who have been known for their faithfulness to the word of God and they deserve a hearing.

    Anyone reading articles posted here is welcome to comment and give their views. They would be much appreciated. I cannot control everyone’s temper but I ask for restraint even when we are passionate about our views.

    Let us interact with a humble heart and a teachable spirit. We will all be better off hearing each other and seeing the pros and cons of our methods. No one knows it all. But together we can gain better understanding.

    As to Gamaliel in Acts 5:34, who is he? He is a respected Pharisee. Since when do we listen to the counsel of Pharisees no matter how wise. God used him to save the lives of the apostles. But we cannot say his wisdom was from God. If we were to heed his advice then we should leave everyone alone, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Atheism, New Age, Mormons etc.

    Paul certainly did not heed his advice. Paul warned us against false prophets and teachers within the church. He spent substantial time fighting them. But perhaps the most important instruction and most direct to deal with false teaching is this:
    “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1)

    I am not consumed by this but I am disturbed by it and I endeavor to save as many people from its claws as I can. My motivation is the converts themselves who have been hurt by this movement who feel devalued and marginalized. Many national churches are suffering from it and wherever I go I hear more and more horror stories of insiders hurting the church and causing division.
    Let us fight the good fight. Let us present the word of God clearly and surely. Let us strive to see the thousands of Muslims have left Islam well established in their faith and rejoice that the Lord is doing among us a new thing that has not been seen yet in hundreds of years: The mass conversion of Muslims around the world to Christ.

    For too long one side had the platform, now it is our turn. The tide is turning. We rejoice that we have saved many people from confusion.

    The reference to Gamal

  43. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. 1 Cor. 4:20. I literally woke up with this verse in my head last night and my next thought was this forum.

    A month ago I pointed out Gamaliel’s words in Acts 5:38-39…. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

    No one responded to that. But let me confess that I woke up last night with these thoughts in my mind ABOUT ME. Personally, I don’t want to be fighting against God by thinking that your methods and models are strangely NOT biblical. What if you’re right? My “talk” is nothing compared to the power of God’s kingdom. And as odd as I find your insistence on using the word Christian and thinking Allah is a moon god – and all that – what if you’re right.

    So as I had asked you earlier to be like Gamaliel towards the C-5 and I.M. crowd, I now also want to be like that toward you!

    Less talk, more power. That’s my prayer for my life!
    carl

  44. The first part of the statement at the end of CONTEXTUALIZATION GUIDELINES FOR MISSIONS, “Finally, the Arabic Bible, which pre-dates the Qur’an, does use the term Allah for God. But is it therefore Biblically-justified for us to conclude that (in essence, nature, and character) Christians worship the same God as Muslims?”

    This is not accurate. The first known Arabic translation of (a portion) of the Bible dates from A.D. 867, is Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex 151, it was translated from Aramaic by a Syrian Christian, Bishr Ibn Al Sirri, who lived in Damasus. The world “Allah” is used often, as well as “al-Rabb” (the Lord).

    For more details about this translation please consult an article written by my late wife, Shirley W. Madany, for the magazine, MISSIONARY MONTHLY. http://www.levant.info/Mer_a027.htm

    An expert missiologist of a previous generation, J. W. Sweetman, lamented the fact that the Bible had not been translated into Arabic before the days of Muhammad. (The Bible in Islam, published by the British & Foreign Bible Society, 1954)

  45. Joie Pirkey says:

    Here is another article that was in the Wall Street Journal. Interesting perspective.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704895204575321101671590716.html

    Thoughts?

  46. Joie Pirkey says:

    Thought this sermon titled, “Confronting Error with Condemnation, Not Conversation! Luke 20: 45-47″ speaks to the need to ferret out false teachings. Pastor John MacArthur does a great job at putting the controversial issues into a biblical context: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Videos/T8242-250A

  47. Jeffery Morton says:

    Pretty thorough, though many questions are redundant. I like the direction the ‘guidelines’ takes.
    It might be beneficial to pattern the guidelines – or perhaps another document altogether – after the Travises’ article on the ten premises of the IM = http://www.joshuaproject.net/assets/InsiderMovements.pdf

  48. Mark S. says:

    Warrick,

    I’m not certain what you’re saying I said and where I said it. There is nothing in this article I said even similar to that. Did you write a comment to the wrong article?

    Either way, I feel like I’m being misquoted, so let me answer this:

    1) Mandate is a strong word, and I’m not certain there are too many mandates, but there are certainly encouragements. So if God encourages something, I think I ought to do it. 1 Peter 4:16 “but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” This clearly says, in THIS NAME “Christian” we are not to be ashamed, but to glorify God for the use of it. People of that time also hated the name Christian, and killed Christians. They thought they were baby eaters, flesh eaters, crazy people, etc… So what’s the difference between today and then in the Muslim world? So what if they have a false concept of Christianity. I’m not certain why you want to use any other name if God says suffering in that name gives Him Glory. Perhaps your purpose isn’t glory, but rather acceptance? Leave conversion to God, it’s His job. Your job is giving Him glory. Try to focus on that.

    2) Can you use brief quotations? Certainly, but in what manner and why you use it is everything. People use the Koran a lot. I’ve used it. But I don’t use it to prove Jesus. That would be fool-hearty. I use the Koran to speak about Islam. I use the Bible to talk about Jesus. The Holy Spirit builds bridges, not some false text. Does it have truth? That’s such an absurd question. Think of the worst liar you know, and ask that same question. Satan, the father of all lies can be truthful as well. Will you go to him to gain bits of truth? How could you trust him? Wouldn’t you going to Satan give him credibility so others will do so also? Why wouldn’t you go to a source that is truth from the beginning? In Acts 17 Paul uses quotes to show the greeks their ignorance. Even then, these are less than a sentence. One cannot say Paul made a habit of adopting and using and quoting of exta-biblical quotes. So if you want to use the Koran to show how crazy it is, by all means. I on the other hand have learned, use the Koran to get Muslims to stop being Muslims is easy. But to get them to follow Christ, the truth of the Word of God is needed and it’s a much better place to start. It can cut through any lie, illusion, and has the Holy Spirit to do its work. Give them the Word of God. You’d be amazed how much better an evangelist it is than you or I am.

  49. Thank you Mark for acknowledging two things:
    1. that there is no biblical mandate to call oneself a “Christian,” and
    2. that New Testament indicates that there is a place for using brief quotations from local religious or cultural literature as a pointer to Christ.

    These are important points as we follow apostolic example (even as we avoid syncretism).

  50. Thank you Erik for your wonderful and faithful work that brings biblical clarity to a muddy issue. I hope many churches would copy this and use it to guide their missionaries.

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