Pastor Takes a Stand Against False Doctrine and Teaching

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*This article has been updated with information below.*

Biblical Missiology has taken a clear stance that the Insider Movement and C5 contextualization are syncretistic, serious deviances from the Christian faith as taught in the Bible, and therefore false doctrine and teaching. Harsh words that we take seriously as being necessary and true. We have felt that the evangelical church has remained ignorant and in some cases, put their hands over their eyes and actively ignore this issue, allowing it to eat away at the body of Christ.

It has been our desire and mission, to inform our readers by writing articles that dig deep into the Word of God, revealing that long-held biblical Christian truths have clear ramifications on missiology. We believe we are equipping the saints to use the Word of God as an instrument to combat errant views of Christ, the Church, and our Faith. This is vital in missions, where we send out missionaries to proclaim the gospel. This proclamation must be truthful and accurate. For the unreached this initial contact is their first exposure to the truths of the Word of God. Thus, we are equipping the saints to educate their friends and family in Christ, and hopefully giving their church information on this dangerous false doctrine and teaching so that the church can act by educating their flock, making sure their missions is 100% in alignment with the Word of God, verifying that their missionaries are using the Word of God properly, and that mission agencies are also supporting their church’s beliefs and not promoting false doctrines and teachings in training or on the field.

It is heartening to us that we do see more and more churches taking an active role against false doctrine and teachings, and proactively confronting it, protecting their fold from wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The following is a video created by one such church that with all its heart, with the same Holy Spirit propelled zeal Christ had when he cleansed the temple of the deviants, has taken up the vital task of fighting the false doctrine and teaching of the Insider Movement. Pastor Tim Snell of Christ’s Church of the Valley, made this video as a call out to all other evangelical churches to awaken, and to take a stance on a very real, active, and growing false doctrine and teaching in the church today.

Keep up the good work you pastors and elders, who in shepherding your flock, proactively keep them away from false doctrines and teachings, educating your flock in the Word of God, and having discernment in things such as these.

*Update* The church Christ the Rock, spoken about in this video who endorsed the Jesus in the Quran seminars has issued a statement on C5 contextualization. You can find it here along with an analysis by Pastor Tim Snell as to its biblical rootedness.  

 

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19 Comments

  1. Pierre Houssney on

    Not to join the dogpile, but please Carl,

    You have set off a five-alarm irony alert.

    You said that “the thing I find almost incomprehensible on this site is surety with which many of you speak.”

    Yet, in the same post, you prefaced your 4 points by calling them “undeniable”. Does that line up?

    Does the confidence of those on this site really exceed that of your own? I do appreciate that you acknowledge that you, as well as others, need to be more humble. But, you follow that up by claiming that “I’m not the one telling you how NOT to do it.”

    Excuse me?? You’re not? What, then, was the title of your recent article on CNN? “My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing”

    So let me get this straight- you’re telling me I should “stop evangelizing”, and that I should not tell people “how NOT to do it.” And do you think you’re NOT telling people NOT to do things, and how NOT to do things? Have you read your blog recently? Would you blame someone if it appeared to them “As if you know for sure the way things should and shouldn’t be done.”?

    I personally think it’s ok for you to share your opinions, both positive and negative. But I also think you should grant others the same liberties. I would like to call all parties involved (myself included) not just to humility, but to self-awareness. Ok, we disagree. So let’s talk it out. My next post will be about the issues.

  2. Salaam Corniche on

    Greetings. It was brought to my attention that I might not have used the Bible sufficiently for examining Carl’s statement suggesting that one should remain in the social–and I think he means religious–context where they were before they became Christians.
    Thusly, I stand corrected, and would like to present a list of Old Testament scriptures that Jesus would have had in his heart, soul and mind as he called people to follow him. All of these scriptures suggest God’s sovereign choosing of Israel and a resultant separation/consecration/dedication with a frequent contrast with “the nations” and their practices out of which they were chosen.

    Leviticus 20:24b
    I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart [or separated you] from the nations.

    Lev. 20: 26
    You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

    Deuteronomy 7:6
    For you are a people holy [or a “devoted/consecrated/dedicated cf. Num 8:16] people to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

    Deuteronomy 14: 1-2
    You are the children of the LORD your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead, 2 for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.

    I Kings 8:53
    For you singled them out [RSV-separated them] from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign LORD, brought our fathers out of Egypt.”

    Exodus 33:15-16
    Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

    Carl, what are you seeing in these verses?
    Salaam C.

  3. If anyone preaches a different gospel let them be accursed.
    If the blind lead the blind they will both fall into the ditch.
    In college they taught that everyone had their own truth, their own reality, it was all relative. And so we are not losing our nation and our gospel, that’s only our opinion, according to some other person’s reality we are relatively not going to hit an iceberg and sink big time, for example, the penguins are not worried.

  4. Salaam Corniche on

    Carl- I have put your comments in italics and mine are enclosed within square brackets following my initials. God bless.

    Since this is a “biblical” missiology website, let’s stick with the Bible.
    [SC-Amen to that. And use the whole Bible and the Whole counsel of God, as interprested by the church universal through the ages.]

    I don’t hear a lot about Jesus on this site. He’s our model.
    [SC-I will quibble theologically with that statement. Much more than a model. The way. The upholder of the universe. The reigning Sovereign who wants more than imitation, he wants everything. The One who dictates the terms of how one comes to Him, how one follows Him, and who one associates under His rule. He will take non of this, “well I think it is this way, because that is convenient for me” kind of stuff.]

    Not Paul.
    [SC-Yet Paul asked the churches to imitate him.]

    Not doctrine.
    [SC-This is a totally false dichotomy. Carl be consistent. Doctrine by definition is ‘truth as taught.’ I think you are being a bit slippery here. Maybe you don’t like truth as it is taught. I see Tim Snell does, though.]

    Not missiology – C1 or C5.
    [SC-Missiology by definition is the thinking systematically about mission. Maybe the beef is about systematic thinking, yet you show you do so later.]

    Those are all our best thoughts about what Jesus did and meant
    .[SC-So our best thoughts are king? Hello? Carl, you are getting my blood pressure going.I would not trust Salaam Corniche’s best thoughts for a wink. I would, however, trust the best thoughts of the global church over its 2000 year history as it has prayerfully examined those propoostional truths that God has spoken in His word. In that context, as our individual and collective minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit—and not the spirit of the age—then and only then might I suggest that our thoughts on who JESUS WAS would resonate with others who are tapped into the same mainline. (anything that Jesus did and meant must be first and foremost examined in the light of who he was). Carl, when I read your writings, I must say out of brotherly concern that I have serious questions about how deeply Carl has drunk of the spirit of the age and is willing to “go it alone” with respect to the collected and collective wisdom of the Body of Christ. I say this out of brotherly concern.]

    A few things are undeniable (I think, although since I’m the one saying it, I’m sure you’ll find something to deny):
    [SC]-Carl, you are speaking systematically here. You just debunked it and now you are

    1. Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion. Christianity or any other. Or if he did, he didn’t mention it. [SC-This manta of yours and of IM is so old. Can we hear something original? It is slippery talk. Everyone can define religion as they want and the semantic wranglings over the Christianity/Christendom wordings are wearisome. Carl, according to Revelation 14:4, the people Christ purchased–i.e. they no longer own themselves and are his blood bought freed “slaves”—“follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” Note, they follow a symbol of sacrifice, who was literally “slaughtered” and as Romans 8:36 says,
    “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered”—not exactly the message that could be read into some writings that advocate Jesus as the model as long as he is the meek and mild and tolerant of all faiths kind of slightly bigger, slightly nicer guy than you and I.

    2. Jesus did NOT call people out of their social context.
    [SC-To myself I said, “so Carl knows this quite definitely, quite dogmatically, it is in fact his doctrine. Why not just say, “I Carl, would prefer to find any and all justification for my preferences, and so I will just find my proof, so there.!” Let’s look at the outsider Zaccheus. Jesus uses the conventions of hospitality to turn over the apple cart of Zach’s social context, Zach responds with a socially mind-blowing response and likely was the talk of the town till his death. ]

    In fact, he typically told them to “go back.”
    [SC-Sure, and don’t forget “and you will be un-synagogued for my sake” and the prayers of the beheaded cry out from the altar, and others “loved not their lives unto the death ]

    It’s true he called them to “leave everything” or “pick up their crosses” etc, but that’s a different issue than leaving their society.
    [SC-ah, this is tricky to discern the “doctrine of Carl” and his seeming accommodation to the scriptures.]

    3. Jesus was hard on the religious right who thought they had the correct doctrine (maybe us today) and was relatively kind to the outsiders.
    [SC-the dichotomy raises its head again. Same old mantra. In the case of Jesus with the Pharisees it was a case of pitting sheer legalism and earning God’s brownie points under the guise of orthodoxy, against the Good news of the kingdom through Jesus. Yes he was kind to the outsiders, but so does this mean that we now take this and make a new hard and fast rule about it? I would hope not. Check out my article in the SFM magazine of August,2011 to see just what a radical change of allegiance the “outsiders” the Samaritans had.]

    4. Jesus’ style of ministry (maybe you could call it missiology), would upset most of us today (I’d put us all in that camp).
    [SC-“style”–is this textbook Rick Warren? This is a great post-modern convention. Who He was and is, will always cause friction with the old nature. It is not a question of style, it is a question of content derived from His Majesty crossing the wills of “Our Majesty.”]

    He wasn’t obviously a C1 or an IM guy. He was so much more and changed with the situation.
    [SC-was something slipped in here. He changed with what? Is this some kind of smuggling in of a justification for the chameleon quality that is so pervasive in IM? The color changes with the context. Sorry, this won’t do. And yes I am dogmatic about it.]

    I think the thing I find almost incomprehensible on this site is surety with which many of you speak. As if you know for sure the way things should and shouldn’t be done.
    [SC-Truth and authority have a wonderful marriage.]

    We need a call for humility. Myself foremost.
    [SC-I say amen, but let’s define our terms. Humility is a healthy submission to the collected wisdom of the Body of Christ globally through the ages. Going it alone by individualistically trying to push the boundaries of such, might actually betray a type of pride. Carl, be consistent. Listen to what wise voices within the Body of Christ are telling you and show yourself to be truly humble.]

    Seriously, those of you who know me know I’m not Mr. Humble. So I need that. But I’m not the one telling you how NOT to do it.

    Salaam Corniche, a follower of the Lamb wherever He goes, ouch. Love it, hate it..

    [SC-Food for thought]

    Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones famously defined preaching as, “Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! . . . Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.”

    J.I Packer on spiritual authority from his Quest for Godliness, (Crossway,2010), p.77
    It is a product compounded of conscientious faithfulness to the Bible; vivid perception of God’s reality and greatness; inflexible desire to honor and please him; deep self-searching and radical self-denial; adoring intimacy with Christ; generous compassion manward; and forthright simplicity, God-taught and God-wrought, adult in knowingness while childlike in its directness.
    The man of God has authority as he bows to divine authority, and the pattern of God’s power in him is the baptismal pattern of being supernaturally raised from under burdens that feel like death.

  5. Jeffery Morton on

    Carl, you crack me up! Dude!!

    You wrote,
    “I think the thing I find almost incomprehensible on this site is surety with which many of you speak. As if you know for sure the way things should and shouldn’t be done.”

    You are certain about our certitude, but you question it all the same. How is this not relativism rewrapped? That is, “I know for sure there are no absolutes.” Same genre of statement!

    Dude!

  6. Mark Stephan on

    Thanks for the comments Carl,

    I’d like to dig deeper, and make some points if I might.

    First, we have written many articles covering Biblical Missiology. Several articles over Acts 17, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and many other biblical points. We make an effort to do so in every article, but that isn’t always the case. But it is something we do try our best on.

    Secondly, Yes, jesus is our model. And Paul is a model on how He modeled Jesus. Paul’s in the Bible too, correct? :-) I just want to make sure that we all consider the entirety of the Bible to be God-breathed, infallible, inspired and useful for teaching and discerning, right?

    Now to your points:

    1) Jesus didn’t start a new religion. Technically, Christians are still Jewish. As born again believers we are the fulfillment of the faith of the Old Testament. However, we must understand that that truth is based in the truth of the Jewish faith as related in the Bible.

    2) I’d argue to consider your family as the fellow believers, and to abandon your family for the sake of Christ leaving the norms of society. People certainly found it shocking when Jesus said, who are my brothers and sisters…. He was making a point that what society calls family is wrong.

    3) Jesus was actually quite a nice guy to everyone when he first met them. But that didn’t stop him from pointing out their sin and need for God. It was their response to this that determined what He would do next. The Pharisees continually in pride ignored the claims of Christ, and looked for ways to discredit and frame Him. Every time Jesus encountered them he notched it up. As in John we see his final encounter when he called them children of the Devil. If the Religious Jews, who had become Hypocrites (not following their own genuine faith) are called sons of the devil, what are we to call other followers of religions that are in as much error and denial as the Pharisees? It wasn’t an insider or outsider issue that determined his kindness. It was an issue of did they recognize their own sin and repent.

    4) I agree Jesus certainly wouldn’t be respected by many in the modern church. But he also wouldn’t be respected by any false faiths either. Paul certainly wouldn’t make it in any church or mission organization either.

    As for the site we publish what we truly believe. This is not a site to publish our wonderings. By the time something is published, much thought and research and discussion has gone into a topic, often years and decades have formed these views. However, in speaking with any of the writers, they are very humble, and some things are debated. Those things don’t make it to the articles. However, there are lines that are drawn, and when it is clear (and it is clear to many reasonable people, not just to one) that there is faulty theology, even dangerous theology, we are not silent.
    I believe the Houghton conference helped, but many things were left undealt with, and much is still disagreed on.

  7. Carl,

    First let me say that I notice you are a Cornhusker fan. That makes you immediately someone who gets many extra points in any conversation with me. (wink wink) Grew up in NE myself.

    Second, while there are many things where we must have the humility to acknowledge there is room for differences, there are also things about both the content of faith and the life of faith (including missiology) that are so core they are non-negotiable. Certainly C5 crosses that line quite significantly.

    You say Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion. Okay … but to use strictly Biblical language he did come to fulfill one Covenant and inaugurate a new one. That covenant is exclusive to all other faith identities. Just as one cannot be a Satanist and and also a disciple of Jesus in the Biblical sense … just as one cannot be a child-sacrificing baal worshipper and be a Christian … so one cannot be a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or a Muslim and a born again believer. The same Satan behind satanism is the same demon behind all false religion. To be allied in your primary identity with Beelzebub is to be diametrically opposed to your allegiance to Christ.

    As I say in my critique of the CTR statement (see above link), despite C5 claims, Islam is not primarily about a benign cultural identity. It is about a spiritual allegiance. C5 shows they know this by how they carry forward their “outreach.” Such things are the blending of the demonic with the things of Christ. Because of that, we can be sure (and it is not prideful to do so) that this is not of Christ and must be opposed for the heresy that it is.

    Go Jesus! And may our Big Red do very well in the B1G this year!

  8. Since this is a “biblical” missiology website, let’s stick with the Bible. I don’t hear a lot about Jesus on this site. He’s our model. Not Paul. Not doctrine. Not missiology – C1 or C5. Those are all our best thoughts about what Jesus did and meant.

    A few things are undeniable (I think, although since I’m the one saying it, I’m sure you’ll find something to deny):

    1. Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion. Christianity or any other. Or if he did, he didn’t mention it.

    2. Jesus did NOT call people out of their social context. In fact, he typically told them to “go back.” It’s true he called them to “leave everything” or “pick up their crosses” etc, but that’s a different issue than leaving their society.

    3. Jesus was hard on the religious right who thought they had the correct doctrine (maybe us today) and was relatively kind to the outsiders.

    4. Jesus’ style of ministry (maybe you could call it missiology), would upset most of us today (I’d put us all in that camp). He wasn’t obviously a C1 or an IM guy. He was so much more and changed with the situation.

    I think the thing I find almost incomprehensible on this site is surety with which many of you speak. As if you know for sure the way things should and shouldn’t be done.

    We need a call for humility. Myself foremost. Seriously, those of you who know me know I’m not Mr. Humble. So I need that. But I’m not the one telling you how NOT to do it.

  9. Pierre Houssney on

    I fully agree, Roger. Anthropology is descriptive, but missiology must be prescriptive.

  10. abdulasad7 says “And yet it is a fact that the majority of those who are strongly opposed to higher-scale contextualization have spent either little or no time in high identity Islamic contexts…” Sorry, you violate your own objectiveness. How is it possible to establish “facts” like that?
    As far as Indonesia is concerned there can be little doubt that all those opposed to “higher-scale contextualization” obviously live in it and I would estimate that 90% of the missionaries and Christian people there oppose it.
    In 45 years involved in outreach to Muslims and 34 years in residence in Muslim communities, I have never met or heard of a serious Muslim who would follow C5 policies of praying in the mosque something that is not proper Muslim prayers. Similar to the situation in Indonesia, I suspect that most converts to C5/insider ministry everywhere are nominal at best and little trained in Muslim thought. Sorry, but for me stories of any large number of serious Muslims being attracted by C5/insider theology is hard to believe. I do believe many who are nominal and animistic in practice could be attracted. But if they are already distance from theologically sound Islam, why use pseudo-islamic practices to draw them?
    So we all should realize that your quote “Missions happens at sunrise, missiology happens at sunset” should actually be a call to reverse that. Get your theology/missiology straight in the morning and your missions will be biblical the rest of the day.

  11. Dear Salaam and Pierre,

    Well said brothers! I actually agree with just about all of what you wrote. Perhaps it didn’t come through clearly enough in my second comment that I myself concur that JIQ and CG both go way too far and therefore out of the bounds of orthodoxy. What I’m saying is that they do have something to teach us, however, and even if some of what they teach is heretical, we can still learn a lot from it. This is the example of church history (for example, in West Africa among other places). The fact is, frontier missions always pushes the limits of orthodoxy and if we are willing to be patient, the truth always wins in the end. Bottom line, we need to do a better job of delineating what exactly is meant by “Insider” and/or “C5”. It may mean something very different to someone from CG than it does to John Travis, for example – even though both of them are put in the same boat!

    And I do agree that a lot of the opposition to more contextualized ministry does come from MBB’s and Arab CBB’s (again, I know a lot of them and respect them). And of course I have colleagues that are seasoned Western workers who are laboring in tough places who also oppose it. But what I refer to is the fact that often you can earn a hearing for the Gospel in really tough settings if you are willing to adjust your vocabulary with Muslims so that what they hear is what you mean for them to hear! Too often, when we use Christian terms such as “Son of God” right off the bat, we lose our Muslim friends who hear “God had sex with Mary and Jesus was their love child” instead! Why can we not ease our way into the amazing truth of Jesus’ divine Sonship instead, thus earning a hearing and an understanding with our audience. That’s why I like some of what JIQ and CG teach. And besides, as I hinted at above, the cream of the Gospel always rises to the top of any theological mess – that’s church history 101, thank God. So let’s not be so worried – a lot of my Muslim friends who started out by seeing themselves as still being in the fold of Islam (of their own doing, not mine) have now realized that they are much more Christian than they are Muslim, alhamdulillah! But it takes time.

    Alas, perhaps the ability to “digest the meat and spit out the bones” of their teaching only comes with time and maturity – which is why I say that we need to guard some of the younger practitioners out there until they can handle it. But it doesn’t mean we need to slam those guys either! Thus my call for charity, grace, and humility in our criticisms. And that’s what I often see lacking on this blog. That’s all!

  12. Salaam-Corniche on

    Abdul:
    Thank you for a gracious response. I trust it shows a teachable spirit. As to your dismissal of the soccer analogy I must ask you not to be so quick. If a rule book exists in soccer, and this is global, then the referee who calls out a penalty, is not labeled a “harsh” “less than feeling” or “judgmental” but should be applauded for justly applying what is in the book. We cannot get around that with the similar application of Biblical truth. Truth is truth. The church history also weighs in as to how the church has applied the lessons of the rulebook.

    Now there are slippery people out there, and they should be identified as such. Call them whatever you like but the Bible has categories for such. Maybe the “Apostasy Engineering Society” hits a less sensitive nerve than the “h” word. Regardless, Snell is exposing those who are used to wearing the title evangelical, telling repeatedly about how devoted they are while playing fast and loose with theological categories, and using the church’s funds while deprecating it in the same breath. Let me give a case in point. Clark Pinnock who loves to tell people that he is an evangelical has no problem in his book, “A Wideness in God’s Mercy” (p. 22) to tell us that the Bible says that “there are true believers in the wider world who trust God and walk faithfully before him.” Superficially this sounds OK until you realize that he is talking about a justification for his whole theology that would have any sincere Buddhist or Muslim being in heaven due to some amorphous “faith principle.” When RC. Sproul questioned if Pinnock was an evangelical, certainly some pulled out the “lets all be loving” card to dull or nullify the question that was being asked. The question was vital.

    Back to the soccer analogy: Rules are good, because they actually engender peace on the playing field. It is the slippery non-rulebook type who actually sow discord because each and every player has his own rulebook. This is anything but God-glorifying. I hope that your description of a lack of abiding by a rule-book is not a prescription. Abdul you minister among young and impressionable new missionaries, and the best thing you can do is tell them that there is a rule-book and it is not open for negotiation. Certainly the conservative seminary that you attended would have spoken about “the regulative principle of worship.” Why not use a “regulative principle of missions?”

    Only for the Fame of His Name everywhere:
    Salaam

  13. Pierre Houssney on

    Mr Lionslave, abdulasad7:

    You claim that “it is a fact that the majority of those who are strongly opposed to higher-scale contextualization have spent either little or no time in high identity Islamic contexts.”

    I disagree. The reality is that the majority of those who are strongly opposed to higher-scale contextualization have had much, much more experience in “high identity Islamic contexts” than the proponents of these methods themselves. That is simply because most of the opposition over the past 40 years has come from the national believers, from both Muslim and Christian backgrounds.
    You may not be aware of this, because they tend to have much less access to platforms which give them a voice in the discussion. Fortunately, however, that is changing. A good example is this video:

    Besides the national believers, I know many long-term practitioners in high identity Muslim contexts who oppose high-level contextualization. Did you happen to notice that the first 2 comments on the article were made by seasoned western missionaries in Muslim contexts?

    You also wrote that you “know for a fact that some of the folks in question have nothing but the deepest desire that all Muslims would come to know Christ unto salvation. I know these guys, they are genuinely good people.”

    I fully agree with you, as I know many of them as well, and they are great people, with great motives. But exactly what bearing does that have on whether or not they are misled?

    You also say that “To call folks “heretics” when you don’t know them personally, or better yet, when they are willing to die for Christ by sharing him with the hardest to reach Muslims on the planet, is just dead wrong and UN-Biblical”

    You seem to think that somehow commitment level or actions of these “folks” gives them a sort of theological immunity. But, whether I’ve met someone or not, if someone says “Jesus is not the Son of God”, that is heresy. In my dictionary, heresy is “a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine.” Therefore, since Jesus’ nature as the Son of God is a crucial orthodox doctrine, anyone who denies such is, by definition, committing heresy. By saying this, am I judging their morals, character, commitment to Christ, or their eternal position before God? Of course not. I’m merely hearing their words, and using discernment and biblical knowledge. Is it really unbiblical to combat false teaching? I’m assuming you’ve read the New Testament, so did you happen notice that large sections of the epistles are dedicated to correcting false teaching?

    The video above includes someone saying that Jesus is not the Son of God. Is it really unbiblical for Tim Snell to call this heretical?

    I feel that you have misjudged those of us who are involved in this site. The name “Biblical Missiology” in no way “implies that any other missiology that disagrees with yours is not Biblical!” It only should communicate the fact that we are dedicated to submitting our missiological thinking to the Bible.

  14. Interestring comments from one of the commentators who seemed to suggest that most of the critiques of extreme contextualization have spent little or no time in high identity Islamic contexts. We must live in parallel universes. Having lived and worked in many parts of the Islamic world for more than 30 years, I have observed that the vast majority of the critics of insider movements are former Muslims. I also disagree with the statement on principle. The discriminator is not distance from Islamic culture, but, rather, the distance from Orthodox Christianity and the historical, visible church. The further you are from the church, the closer you get to insider ideology. What unifies those of us who oppose this heterodoxy is our orthodox identity as part of the visible body of Christ, regardless of denomination.

  15. Dear Salam,

    Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear in the first comment. I did not mean to imply that ONLY those who serve in high identity Islamic contexts have the right to reflect theologically on contextualization. I hope others didn’t think I meant that. Certainly the whole church is welcome to weigh in theologically on what happens in missions. As a mentor of mine always says, “Missions happens at sunrise, missiology happens at sunset.” In other words, missiology happens because of what happens on the mission field. So certainly all sorts of folks are going to be able to weigh in, as well they should. And yet it is a fact that the majority of those who are strongly opposed to higher-scale contextualization have spent either little or no time in high identity Islamic contexts.

    About the soccer analogy… That doesn’t hold because the “rules of the game” are in flux when it comes to theology/missiology (in fact, they have been since the beginning of church history). If we all agreed on all the “rules”, there would not be denominations! The fact is, Christians of all sorts of theological persuasions can still agree on basic orthodoxy. The question here is, are some of the more radical contextualizers outside of said orthodoxy?

    Having just posed the above question, let me say this in response. I know for a fact that some of the folks in question have nothing but the deepest desire that all Muslims would come to know Christ unto salvation. I know these guys, they are genuinely good people. However, I share some of the same concerns that you do – namely that in the interest of “salvation” of Muslims, they take it too far (outside the bounds of orthodoxy and into confusion and gray areas). I do not recommend that those under my authority attend CG seminars or JIQ seminars. I myself actually use a lot of what they teach evangelistically – but that’s because I feel comfortable keeping in “in bounds” so to speak. Whereas I do not have the same confidence that those under my care would be able to pick out the good nuggets from CG and JIQ while discarding the stuff that is out of bounds. So then, I see the concern and I share it, trust me. I have vocalized this to them also. My thing is just to try and help people on this blog be a little bit less judgmental and a little more gracious and get out of attack mode and demonization of guys who are out there giving it their best for the Gospel, even if we disagree with some (my take) or all (people on this blog’s take?) of their methods.

    And no, I did not attend a certain seminary in CA, nor did I study under Kraft or anyone from that school.

  16. Salaam-Corniche on

    Abdul: I say amen to solid theology. I say amen to serving with joy in hard places. (Been there done that, contrary to your perception). I say amen to thinking theologically and avoiding slippery slopes. But..I say bunk to your allegation that only one who has served in a hard place has the doctrinal right to critique something theologically. Take this to its extreme for a moment. Because I have not served in Wuzuland, makes no difference in my ability to use the Scriptures–and this is what this blog is all about-and what Snell is attempting–following rules of hermeneutics which the church has followed for 2,000 years to call as they say in a soccer match –the ball is either in or out. Just as in soccer the world agrees to the rules of the game and then plays by it, let’s do the same in missiology. Otherwise, my fellow theologian you will tip the hat to the gnostic tendency—the “deep knowledge” which can easily be observed in many parts of the insider movement that my secret knowledge is king.
    Curiously, through recent readings I learned that Charles Kraft has schooled a whole generation of missionaries and missiologists that hermeneutics is whatever you or I make of whatever is in front of us, using the acid test of a response by the hearer (did I hear echoes in your piece?).
    A postmodern generation hates rules of the game. Why can’t we learn from soccer?

  17. Friends,
    Posting pastor Snell’s well meaning but misunderstanding video yet again perpetuates the misunderstanding and “attack mode” stance that BM has taken on this issue all along. Even the name of this blog (Biblical Missiology) implies that any other missiology that disagrees with yours is not Biblical! I was trained at one of the US’s best and most theologically conservative seminaries, and I would never encourage a Muslim to remain inside Islam, so I am not “one of those guys”. HOWEVER, on the field deep inside the Muslim world (i.e. NOT in the West) I do see plenty of Muslims who decide to remain inside Islam (for at least a period of time) and have then drawn more family members and friends to Jesus (of their own accord). This is the difference between descriptive missiology and prescriptive missiology. I can describe for you the fact that some Muslims are remaining inside Islam and following Christ (which is a fact). Others try to prescribe this as a strategy for reaching Muslims (which is what I feel you have a problem with, correct?). Perhaps the former is led by the Spirit of God, while the latter is a “good idea” of man? Can you see the distinction? Another distinction that needs to be brought out is this – a lot of the missionaries who are “doing” C5 contextualization are not trained theologians, thus the slippery theological slope they often go down. However, at the same time, almost all of the pastors and Western academics who so vehemently oppose highly contextualized ministry among Muslims have no (or almost no) experience sharing the Gospel with Muslims deep inside the Muslim world. In this way, both groups are grossly misunderstanding each other and labeling each other. To call folks “heretics” when you don’t know them personally, or better yet, when they are willing to die for Christ by sharing him with the hardest to reach Muslims on the planet, is just dead wrong and UN-Biblical, if you want to talk about what is “Biblical” on this blog! I applaud Pastor Snell’s attempt to try to bring attention to this critical issue, but I also want to make it clear that Wisconsin is a long way from Waziristan, so he should have a bit more humility in his approach. I don’t see him going to Waziristan and trying to share Jesus in a way that the local Afghans can understand. If he tried to, he would learn quickly that sometimes we have to alter the wording of our presentation of the Gospel so our audience can understand. And altering the wording doesn’t mean altering the ideas! We can still communicate core Christian ideas when we realize that what we “say” isn’t always what the listener “hears”. That’s just basic communication theory 101, not high level missiology! Finally, I will end this comment just as I have others on this blog, with an appeal for more grace and less judgmentalism. I love your hearts, Georges and co. But remember, the same heart that drives your passion is the same heart that drives Jamie Winship’s and co. – it is the heart of Jesus to see Muslims worship him!

  18. This is exactly what our family found in North Africa over 16 years of service. Being “Muslim” as a social identity can largely be stripped of distinctively Qur’anic and Islamic practices and even verbiage; this is done regularly by secular humanist Muslims (more so before the fall of the USSR). Therefore it is entirely fallacious to argue that Islamic practices are intrinsic to being part of the Muslim community. Sufi Muslims often practice C5 contexualization and use insider Muslim language to explain and illustrate their pantheistic-leaning form of monotheism. The Insider Movement is in danger of forming a Muslim Background Believer church that has learned its missiology from Sufism and secular humanists more than from the New Testament.

  19. Considering the process we went through in Indonesia back in the early 90s trying to get the “new contextualizers” to realize what they were doing, I am surprised at Tim Snell’s insight in his comments on Christ the Rock’s statement.

    The classic “cultural” argument does not hold water in Indonesia and I am sure it doesn’t anywhere. Native Americans are whatever culture they choose now but if they follow their ethnic groups’ original culture it includes many things as well as RELIGION. Religion is just one aspect of culture and it may be Islam, spiritism, Hinduism, or one of many other religions. An Indonesian Javanese is a Javanese whether he follows the Islamic religion (the major religious group), the original Javanese religion (practically all Javanese follow some aspects of this as well), or Christian or Buddhist, etc. A Muslim in the middle east may belong to any one of numerous ethnic groups and follow the culture of that ethnic group. We all know their cultures are different one from another even though most have a religious component of Islam. Most also have other religious components that differ. They continue to be a member of that ethnic culture. Islam is not the culture but rather only part of it.

    The CTR people have been fooled by this false JIQ presentation that says that Muslim is the culture of people who follow the Islamic religion. Being Muslim is an important part of their culture but only a part. When they follow the Lord Jesus, they must move away from those religious beliefs. C5 people propose that the Islamic beliefs can be integrated with biblical beliefs and retained by Muslim believers. This is an idea clearly contrary to scripture.

    C5 missionaries have been fooled or deluded spiritually by such arguments that one can be both Islamic and a follower of Jesus. The Bible clearly teaches a separation from non-biblical beliefs and practices. We spent many hours trying to help C5 missionaries understand that Islamic practices that are similar to Christian practices were not, in fact, the same. The reasons for the 5 pillars of Islam, though they have some similarities to biblical practices, are based on different theology. Even many of the cultural practices are different. The marriage ceremony in the Islamic communities does not mean the same as marriage among Christians. The funeral meaning is different. etc.

    I could go on and on but basically, Tim Snell has hit on the key issue. JIQ preys on American Christians who are ignorant of Islam and also have thought little about the cultural implications. Thus they are easily fooled, scammed, or deluded into following their arguments. Many missionaries have fallen into the same seemingly logical traps as well. There is a powerful spiritual delusion that is functioning in these non-biblical arguments.

    Roger Dixon, PhD Intercultural Studies, 35 years in residence in Muslim communities in S.E. Asia

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