We are now giving live updates to this article from the Conference below:
INSIDER MOVEMENTS: A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT III, 2011 Atlanta, Ga
Theme: IM and How it Affects the Church (with focus on Bangladesh)
Time: Oct 7, Fri 6pm-9pm and Oct. 8 Saturday 9am-4pm
We are also micro-blogging during the conference on our Twitter account @BibleMissiology Follow Us!
6:27PM Introductions Joshua Lingel.
6:37 PM The most important thing about this conference are the relationships built out of it. That we are not isolated in our concerns. That this conference is a place where we can freely talk about it, check our facts, and to see the different aspects and
6:40 PM Joshua introduces the new book “Chrislam: How Missionaries Are Promoting An Islamized Gospel”” that has 25 chapters that deal deeply in an academic and missiological level with the issues of the Insider Movement. The authors are explaining what their chapters are about.
The book will be available on theI2 Ministries Website after the conference.
7:45 pm: David Garner, “There is No God but God, and Jesus is His Son”
Opens with prayer.
Somehow Christian and Muslim theology have become “bed-buddies”
Christian missiologists are now beginning to claim that Muhammad is some sort of prophet.
Question: can a person believe in Jesus and be a Muslim?
1. A scriptural view of History: Scope of Hebrews 1:1-2
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”
2. Character of Revelation:
A.Revelation is Verbal- God as Speaker, Scripture as Divine Speech, Revelation and Authority
B. Revelation is Historical- Redemptive work, Redemptive word
Summary: GOD HAS SPOKEN
3. Diversity of Revelation: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways…”
Intermittent Character of Revelation (“at many times” is the first word in the Greek)
Polyphonic Character of Revelation (“in many ways”)
Epochal Character of Revelation (“Long ago”)
4. Hinge Point of History: The SON
Tributaries of Revelation converge in Christ
Old Testament revelation as anticipatory
“….5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.”
5. A Crisis of Confession
To confess is to “say the same thing as.” To not confess is to disagree with God that Jesus Christ is his Son.
“What do we make of the claim that Muhammad is a prophet? Any revelation that obscures Christ is a false prophecy.”
Any prophet that does not point exclusively to Christ is not worthy of the designation ‘prophet’.”
At the very least it is theological retrograde, but it is actually nothing less than eclipsing what God the Father says is the centerpiece of history, that is, Jesus Christ.
As Insider Movement proponents urge Muslims to continue to declare that Muhammad is in some way a prophet is leading them toward unbelief.
Missions which elevates the Qur’an and Islam is not biblical- it must be anathematized.
Muslims are not our political enemies- but as Paul says, they are enemies of God.
They don’t need allegedly good prophets, they need God.
Contrary to the Shahada, there is no God but Jehovah God, and Jesus is his Son.
Saturday Oct 8:
9:20 AM: Scott Seaton, “In Pursuit of a Faithful Witness: A Pastoral Response to Insider Movements”
Discussing “Overture 9”, the document put before the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America).
“That overture is a direct result of the Critical Assessment conference last year, and I didn’t even attend.”
“I hope that we would not just be critics of Insider Movements, but faithful witnesses to Muslims”
Scott is discussing the history of his exposure to the Insider Movement/contextualization/C5, from articles, field workers, and through lengthy dialogue with a particular leader.
First concern: I began to realize that C5 elevated pragmatism over theology.
Second concern: that C5 was headed into syncretism- the blending of two faiths to something that didn’t exist before. Beliefs are revised and combined into things that would have been rejected by either system.
A colleague asked a question to a leader of an Insider Movement, “Do you see this becoming a sect of Islam?”
“I don’t see this as a sect, but as true Islam- what Muhammad would have wanted if he lived long enough.”
Third concern: it cuts itself off from the body of Christ.
He’s discussing how his church leadership and congregation dealt with the Emergent Church controversy that was coming out. He saw division, anger, and disunity that had never existed before, because of what was being introduced. As he decided that he couldn’t be on board with C5 ministry, he was disappointed to realize that he was out of step with the leadership of his own church.
“Like wax paper in a ham sandwich, I couldn’t quite chew it, but at first I didn’t know why.”
I encourage you not to be naive: there are powerful, deep forces at work here. The IM is in sync with the post-modern Western worldview.
African proverb “Big men don’t repent.”
Light: Making a biblical, public critique of these issues. Making churches aware of what’s going on. This is not a Matt. 18 issue because these are published works.
Heat: Bringing pressure to listen, influence funding.
10:05 AM He’s discussing how he came up with “Overture 9”. Now he is walking through it.
It recommends a three step process: 1. Investigate the use of translations that remove “Father” and “Son” 2. Pursue correction 3. and, failing that, withdraw support.
“I was thinking that if I could just get it to the floor of the General Assembly, and inform them of something they had never heard of, that would be a win”
10:15 AM: He’s describing how Overture 9 was passed in the presbytery by one vote (it was opposed because it was not “timely”), and passed on to the general assembly, where it was debated and opposed. It was nearly killed by process, but ended up being overwhelmingly approved.
This is where Overture #9 is online: http://bit.ly/lxoKyf
“We cannot legitimize the illegitimate. We cannot defend the indefensible.”
“I don’t think we have the right to prove the Muslims right that the Bible has been corrupted”
11:05 AM Panel Discussion: Three Christians from a Muslim background from Bangladesh
What are your experiences with IM?
Pastor E: I was exposed to insiders before I was a believer, because one of my relatives was an insider.
Pastor J: After my conversion, I joined a Western organization and learned about IM through them. The national team leader was trying to teach me to become a Muslim again, to reach Muslims.
Pastor A: After my conversion, an American guy came and offered me a job to run a ministry training center/farm, on the condition that he would reconvert to Islam. I refused.
Pastor J: Muslims normally know that Christians believe in the Son of God, and they call God Father. But when they see a Bible in which these terms or omitted, they say that the Bible has been changed again and again. They have other translations of the Bible, so they are surprised when it is changed.
Pastor A: When Muslims would claim that the Bible has been changed, they used to have no proof, but now they have proof.
Pastor E: When we explain to Muslims that the “Son” and “Father” are spiritual, not physical terms, they usually understand and accept that.
Question: Is it true that there was already a Muslim Bangla through which many Muslims came to Christ, that preserves the “Father” and “Son”?
Pastor E: Yes, we have the whole Bible in “Muslim Bangla” and it is widely distributed in many forms. When I came to Christ, I got a New Testament in that version, and it was fine.
Pastor E: I have a first-hand
Did the Muslim Background Christian population accept the Insider translation?
Pastor A: (emphatically) “No.”
Pastor E: I realized that they are separating themselves from the national church, and the second generation will be detached from the Church, and have a different Bible
Pastor A Explaining what a “Legal notice” is
Bill Nikides: Insider movements are Western supported, and this support depends largely on reports of large numbers of converts. How do you respond to these claims?
Pastor A: We deny them. The number of Muslim converts is less than 50,000
Pastor E: One Western leader claimed to have over 600,000 believers in the movement. There was a group that went to verify these claims. A national leader of this group hired several Bangladeshis during a 3-day training seminar to claim that they were part of the movement, and report false numbers of converts in 6 areas of the country.
The next year they false division leader confessed to the American delegation that he had lied the previous year, and that none of these people reporting with him actually are part of the movement.
Bill Nikides clarifies: It had been admitted before that the numbers were exaggerated. These guys (the Bangladeshi pastors) are saying that they were completely fabricated.
Bill: Why do we Westerners believe these stories?
Pastor A: That’s your problem. But what I can tell you that Milton Coke is an influential leader, but since a year ago, he was excommunicated from the Church. So when he brings people to Bangladesh, they don’t meet the Church, they meet the people who are excommunicated from the Church.
Normally they are told “this is sensitive.” The Western visitors stay in the hotel, and they bring the insiders from rural areas to the hotel, so they never see the reality.
Pastor J: They will tell the Western pastors “I have 20 churches in the rural areas”, but they cannot go there. So then the Westerner says “there are thousands of believers, praise God.”
Pastor E: There was a video about a Mosque becoming a church or an “Isai Mosque”. We were able to identify where it was, so we sent someone to find out if this is true, and it was still a normal Muslim mosque. The claims were false. The West must test these claims.
They are discussing the false claim that 132 insiders were martyred because of the national church’s resistance against the IM. These claims are unsubstantiated, and there have been no names produced. There would be police reports filed and extensive media coverage if this were true, but there is nothing.
Bill Nikides: An American began spreading a story that 6 insiders were killed because of the writings of pastor E. He asked me to stop supporting pastor E because of this claim. When asked for evidence, none was provided.
“Whenever you practice deception and encourage the practice of deception in others, you yourself become deceived.”
Bill: What would you like to say to missionaries to Bangladesh
Pastor E: My advice is that there are needs of resources and
The strategies for reaching Muslims should come from national leaders
Missionaries could be equipping, training, helping, financing
Bill: Are Insider Movements a Bangladeshi idea?
Pastor E: They are certainly from the West.
Pastor J: Missionaries like William Carey have been doing good things in my country, but recently some missionaries, though they have a good heart, they should act like Christians, but some of them are adopting Muslim names, and missionary wives are taking Muslim names. This is not appropriate. Using a veil is not necessary, but what you could do is learn the Muslim Bangla language, and I think if you do that, people will love you and you will have a good result.
Pastor A: You have a good heart, and good intentions, so please come to my country and see with your own eyes what is going on and judge for yourselves.
Bill: Now look at the people in this room. What would you like to say to the American church
Pastor E: Please pray for Muslims and the work among them. Share our cause with the church and pray for us.
Pastor J: Those who have been praying for the Muslim mission field, please be careful when you give financial resources to any person, be sure that it is being used properly. You can visit us, stay with us, and pray and see how we are working. That would be encouraging.
Bill: We need to thank them for taking the time to come. They have sacrificed a lot to come.
We should never again have a serious conversation on this issue without having the global Church represented. This is a paradigm shift- that from now on we must address this as a global church.
1:45 PM: Edward Ayub, “Christian Ethics vs. Insider Movements”
When I was a boy I was a very religious Muslim. When I was in high school one of my family members became a Christian, and we all criticized and hated him.
Once I met a Bengali Christian evangelist, and I invited him to meet with a big group of my friends. When he arrived, my friends severely beat him. I was afraid of the repercussions of this act, but then the evangelist came and knocked on my door and wanted to be my friend. This led to my accepting Christ.
My relative had been a Christian, but through the influence of a Westerner, he went back to the village mosque on “Eid al adha” to pray with them, to revert to Islam. But they did not accept him, so he went to a nearby mosque to revert to Islam, and they accepted him because they knew nothing of Insider issues.
2:03 PM The church was in some way responsible for the fact that IM was able to grow. The local churches had no agenda to plant churches among the Muslims.
It’s funny, because, as a convert from Islam, I took a different (Christian) name, yet some traditional Christians are following the Westerners by taking Muslim names.
2:06 One of the frequent claims is that the IM is getting results. But it is an individualistic movement. They are even separated from each other.
2:13 PM He is discussing all the false claims and reports, and that they are being circulated in the West, but are unknown in the country.
2:18 PM Insider “translations” are not actually translations, but paraphrases from existing translations that remove and replace certain words. “Father” is translated as “guardian”.
2:20 PM When I was a Muslim, I would have died for the Qur’an, and would have fought and died to protect one letter of the Qur’an from being changed. So now that I am a Christian, I will do the same for the Bible. That’s why I’m a problem for Insider Movements.
2:25 PM There are consequences to the IM. My relative started out as a strong Christian, a pastor who translated the New Testament into Bangla. Then he became an Insider. Now he lives in Philadelphia and his two daughters married Muslims in a Muslim way. So this is the journey of IM.
2:32 PM This will go away with this generation because their children are confused about who they are.
Many Insider followers and staff are losing their jobs for identifying themselves as Christians, or they are not willing to go to the mosque for prayer.
2:37 PM The IM has felt threatened by the visible church, so they have put out lots of propaganda to destroy the credibility of the Christian pastors of the visible church.
Reports need to be verified, and the theology needs to be verified. Reconciliation is definitely possible, but there must be public repentance, because this is now a public issue. They must sign documents that they will not repeat this malpractice, and prove that they have really changed.
There is a one year discipleship course that is being developed to address the many discipleship issues.
2:46 PM There must be proper accountability. Bangladeshi proverb “even angels would make a mistake if they are left alone” (paraphrase). It’s very difficult to work in our country, because of corruption. I encourage you to go not only to the capital. Go to the grass roots places, and ask penetrating questions.
Thank you very much.
2:45: Georges Houssney, “The Impact of the Insider Movement on the Global Church.”
One of my favorite verses is Revelation 11:15 ” The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
Let’s rejoice, and lighten up, and not think that God cannot save the world without us.
When I entered full-time ministry after college, I got into a Bible translation project. When I did that, I learned that there are Christian leaders who said things like “Muhammad is the dynamic equivalent of an old testament prophet”
He’s relating his history of fighting this movement, that has condescended on the nationals from the ivory towers and the sources of funding. He has felt that he was fighting alone until recently, when he has connected with many of those present. This is the first time like-minded people are meeting together to discuss these issues.
Let’s praise God that he’s on the move and the tide is turning.
“Bad hermeneutics, bad exegesis, and a lot of good anthropology is what is behind the IM.”
There is a conspiracy to destroy the very foundation upon which we build our faith. Are they going to win?
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
“Conspiracy is best done by insiders- those inside the church. So don’t be surprised there is false teaching, or that there is a conspiracy.”
Psalm 2:1: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
The conspiracy of Lucifer as recorded in Isaiah 14:12-14
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
The seed of IM is seen in the story of Cain and Abel.
Cain said “my context is the farm, Abel’s context is animals.”
Fast-forward to Genesis 11, the tower of Babel. They wanted to reach God in their own way. It was an escalation of satan’s conspiracy. God scattered them so that they may seek him (Acts 17:26).
We must never grow our roots here on earth. IM does not understand that the Church stands out as a stranger in the earth.
Thank God for the Reformation, but we have erred so much on freedom that the evangelical church has become chaotic. The concept of church is slipping.
The IM has a very low view of the church, and bad ecclesiology. Have you heard them say “well, Jesus only used the word church twice”, or “the word Christian is used only 3 times in the Bible”, so it’s not a big deal.
I was looking in the Common Ground manual, and they have a very low view of the church, and a high view of the mosque. No wonder they are Islamizing Christianity rather than Christianizing Islam.
What I have experienced in my interactions with the IM is an undermining of the national church. Many mission organizations instruct their candidates not to associate the local church.
The IM is undermining the Church, and condescending on converts.
What about the unity of the Church? I have asked the leaders “What about communion, what about the sacraments”, and they say “oh, we don’t have the place to impose those things.” They have a sort of false humility, as if they are not involved. Well if they were not involved, there would be nothing called the “Insider Movement”.
The Church is under attack, but Jesus said “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
The Church is the means to fulfilling the Kingdom of God.
In Romans 9-11, Paul talks about God’s Israel as an olive tree. Many of the branches of this tree (the Jewish nation) were cut off because of the rebellions. This created room for the wild branches (the gentiles) to be grafted into the tree. God said “Through you I will bless all nations.”
The Church is an organized organism. It’s not like a pile of rocks makes a building.
Ekklesia- it has many definitions, but one of the best definitions is “the summoned ones.”
John 10:16: And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Jesus is the door. They all must come through the door. Muhammad is not a pointer to Jesus.
I recently asked an Insider “do you believe Muhammad is a prophet of God?” He said “it depends on what you mean.” I said “so there’s my answer- you believe he’s a prophet”, and he said “well didn’t he say some true things?”
A lot of people are confused whether Allah is the same as God. I say “I don’t care whether it’s the same God- I know the one God, who had some people called pharisees, and they had the right God, and the right scriptures and everything, yet Jesus faced them and said to them, point blank, your father is the Devil.”
If we can admit that they did not worship God, then how can we say that Muslims do?
It’s not about claims- it doesn’t matter if they claim to worship the same God we do.
In Exodus, the Golden Calf was called “elohim”, and they attributed the miracle of the exodus to it.
When Jesus said “if you knew God…” He was talking about having the presence of God in them, which would make them recognize Jesus.
I don’t care if some of the 99 names of God are common attributes. I don’t care what denomination you are from. You need to know God.
Let’s not be confused- let us be a distinguished people.
Ezra 4:1-2 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.”
So if Muslims come and craftily say to you “we worship the same God”, this scripture should warn you
Ezra 4:1-3 “But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”