Titus 1:10-11,13- 16 (ESV)

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Can a Truly Saved Christian:

  • Endorse Islam as a true revelation of God, not a false idol religion?
  • Acknowledge Muhammad to be in any way a prophet of God?
  • Acknowledge in any way that the Qur’an is inspired by God or is Holy?
  • Say that a verbal confession of faith in Jesus Christ is unnecessary for salvation?
  • Tell Muslims that they can retain their Muslim identity and be a ‘True followers of Christ’, even encouraging them to remain Muslim?
  • Say the Shahada (Islamic confession of faith: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God” ) or tell new ‘believers” that they can say the Shahada?
  • Join in the Salat (Islamic Daily prayers) bowing to the Kaba in Mecca, to the recitation of Koranic verses, or encourage new believers to do so?
  • Take the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) or encourage new “believers” to do so?
  • Change any wording in the Scriptures especially to make it non-offensive to Muslims?
  • Share the Gospel of Christ but leave out His death, burial, and resurrection; that He is fully God and fully man; that He is the Son of God, that God is a Father; and leave out the need for repentance on purpose so as not to offend the Muslim?
  • Condone any of the above practices?

If you said “Yes” to any of the above, you need to read this article and delve into and reconsider your biblical theology, and question in what do you truly trust for your salvation. If anyone came to me and said, “Yes” to any of the above questions, a serious counseling session about the fundamentals of the Christian faith would ensue. Think of it another way, if you would not publicly declare the above statements in front of your church congregation on Sunday, then should you be doing them?

In this article I argue that by doing any of the above, it becomes a Christian endorsement and propagation of idolatry. This was a serious problem in Israel and the early church, especially in the Corinthian church where Greeks who ‘converted’ to Christianity, still kept many of their idol following behaviors. Paul fought against this syncretism and called it what it was, demonic and impossible for anyone who is filled with the Spirit (1Cor.10:21). In this same light, this article is calling out the world-wide church to stop changing the gospel, and to turn their hearts to the jealous God who demands all from us, all of our worship not to be shared with any lies and idols of man whose roots lie in demonic powers.

I hope you read this entire article. I hope by the end of this, I have won my brother or sister who may be practicing these things from nothing less than demonic idolatry that comes from syncretism. Consider this article a call for you to comeback to the full gospel, true Christianity, and to the complete glory that is in God the Son, God the Father, and God the Spirit.

There will also be come of you who are oblivious as to what is going on in the remote missions fields. I hope by the end of this article to have given you not only information, but also mainly a biblical perspective to engage with those under your care about these subjects. The time has come that pastors, churches, and supporters find out what exactly it is they are supporting in the field. The answer to all of the above questions above is a hearty ‘No!’ This article elaborates why, and how those saying ‘Yes’ or even a ‘Maybe’ or ‘depends’ to the above questions are chasing after idols and defiling the bride of Christ. May this not be so!

I know that some of you reading this say “Amen!” and recognize the slippery slope of idolatry the church is currently on. To you I say, read on and learn how to respond, and to respond with the passion that God himself demands we pursue, giving him glory along the way.

 

The Problem:

There is a serious problem in the Church today. A cancer that is not only false teaching, improper strategy, but frankly, down right demonically inspired. In light of this, read the following with the weight that it demands, the prayer that it deserves, and ultimately the reaction that is required by every believer. Confession and repentance may very well be the response you will need to give. Previously, I myself had to confess and repent of relying on my social science education, the intellectualism of academia that led me to rely on human ways and strategies over God’s simple yet powerful gospel that took millennia to develop, stumbling blocks and all. God has truly shown man’s knowledge as pure stupidity. In the end we come to a simple choice; our ways, or his ways. God leaves room for nothing in between. Syncretism, mixing of truth and lies (our ways) is utterly unacceptable to God. This was the same problem in the Laodicea church as stated in Revelation 3:16, “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Before I delve into this growing sickness, we first need to do a quick Bible analysis and understand what the inerrant Word of God says about the subject.

Acts 15:19-20 (ESV)

Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

This is a very important verse in the New Testament, as it is in Acts where the movement of the early church went from an enclave of Jews, and opened up its doors wide to the non-Jews. Everything changed, or at least the perception of everything changed. The early Christians realized that Jesus not only came for the lost Jew, but for a lost world. These verses go even deeper to what is the heart of God, and what he requires of all gentiles. He was not a God who required the gentiles to convert to the Jewish culture, rather he was a God who called all, including the Jews, to come to the Kingdom of God, to join in and acculturate (or be sanctified) into the holy lifestyle and culture of Jesus Christ himself. No Christian is called to remain in their ‘culture’ or their previous world. They are all, every single one, called out of the world into the culture of the Kingdom of God, defined by Jesus Christ. From there they are then called to show the outsiders of the Kingdom the gospel as a testimony to the glory of God.

What we learn from this:

  • The non-Jews were not called to take on other cultures, and not even called to preserve their own, but rather called to become part of the culture of the Kingdom of God.
  • The non-Jews had to give up any and all spiritual aspects of their culture that conflicted with or took glory from the Kingdom of God, i.e. idol worship and related things (Anything polluted by idols).

1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (ESV)

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”– 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

What we learn from this:

  • That we need to approach how we are changed into the Kingdom Culture not with prideful knowledge, but with a contrite, love-filled heart and attitude to God. Our human knowledge is a hindrance.
  • Those who formerly associated with idols cannot have anything to do with that past idol worshipping life and its accouterments, lest they slip into it again and start “eating food as really offered to an idol” and thus are “defiled”.
  • Idols are not real gods. But still have the power to destroy.
  • Believers should not ever associate with idols and idol worship, even knowing that they are fake, for the spiritual welfare of those around. Doing so is sin against Christ.
  • Stumbling blocks should be removed when they lead people to sin. (Not removed to lead people to Christ).

1 Corinthians 10:18-28 (ESV)

Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

 

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience–

What we learn from this:

  • Those who participate in any aspect of idol worship, are participants in the whole worship as though they gave the sacrifice at the altar.
  • Idol sacrifice and worship is not to “real” gods, but to real demonic forces pretending to be gods. Idolatry = Demon Worship
  • Believers should never participate in idol worship practices. (We learned above that this is Sin.)
  • Believers cannot be both for Jesus and be part of demonic idol worship practices. You cannot do both!
  • It’s not the eating of the meat that is the problem, but rather the eating of meat in idol worship, and other’s perceptions of it.
  • If you know something is part of idol worship, YOU MUST NOT PARTAKE.

The Slippery Slope Of Idolatry

Idol worship is serious business throughout the whole Bible. God is very jealous for all glory that is rightfully his. An idol is anything that misdirects glory God deserves to something unworthy. An idol can be a statue, false god, false religion, false belief, lopsided view of God, carnal sins, sex, materialism, etc… The early church was confronting it left and right simply because the early church was a minority within the context of a larger non-believing culture that was drowning itself in idolatry not to mention that humanity itself has a predisposition towards idolatry. ‘Converts’ could not mix their past false religion, and religious traditions and their new faith in Jesus. A clear break, a transformation, a literal turning from the sinful past to a clearly different and new life in Christ was always the sign of real belief. Tacking Jesus onto your previous worldview/religion would not cut it. Trying to share the table of Jesus with the table of demons was and still is impossible!

 

We learn from the above verses that the gospel was not about changing the world to the Jewish culture, but rather changing the world into the Kingdom of God, the heavenly culture. This Kingdom may be diverse in its expression (art form, language, music, dance, etc…), but completely singular in its spiritual culture (Jesus is the Son of God, Lord, the God of the Bible is the sole God, a Father, and all other spiritual manifestations are demonic in their roots.). Whenever culture crosses over into the paganistic (demonic), it must be utterly rejected and turned away from. The demonic is not redeemable. “The cup of Christ cannot be shared with the cup of demons.” Enjoying the cup of Christ with the cup demons leads to syncretism and results in purely partaking of the cup of demons.

 

In fact, the gospel was calling the legalistic Jews out of their own corrupt culture, not to dig deeper in. The Jews had turned from the heart of God and instead of keeping the law for the leading to and glorification of God, they worshipped the law, in such it became an idol itself keeping people from the very God who gave it to them. It is clear from the gospel message that when Jesus came, he did not come for the Pharisees, the keepers of the “Jewish” culture and law who thought that they were righteous and had no need for a savior. Jesus goes into detail on this in Matthew 23. Rather he came for the outcasts of society, the ones who did not fit into this conception of “Jewish” sanctimonious culture.

 

Matthew 9:10-13 (ESV)

And as Jesus reclined at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

One can say there are many reasons for his outreach to the outcasts but perhaps the biggest is that the outcasts did not have the hindrances of the “religious” idol culture to keep up. Rather they fully understood their lostness, and that is what kept them from the Kingdom of God, the idealistic culture of legalistic religiosity, was valueless to them. They who were the most deprived realized that no amount of cultural sanctity could redeem them. That the law, and the idolatry of the law led to death. Only those who see their depravity can understand the true gift of God. The gift is lost on those who see no need for salvation from their current situation. They are literally blind.

 

In the same way, we should analyze our own culture for what is ungodly and sinful.

 

Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Ultimately we need to understand, remaining in the culture of this world is not the goal of God. Complete transformation is God’s goal, transformation from being conformed to this world into being conformed to the Kingdom of God through Christ the Son. A new culture modeled on the Sonship of Christ, and our adoption as full Sons and Daughters of God through the model of Christ. Complete change is the result of this. We are not part of this world. We are not part of this world’s culture. We are called out of it. The early Christians tried to remain in their cultural contexts, but the spirit of God would not allow this. They were transformed, and were different. Those still steeped in their previous sinful culture rejected them as outsiders and persecuted them. This is exactly what God wanted.

 

John 15:19-21 (ESV)

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

 

Let me be clear as to what I am not saying. I am not saying that things outside of the dark spiritual past of each new believer needs to be abandoned. For example, clothing, music styles, art, creative expression, etc… are examples of things that may or may not have spiritual connotations rooted in the false idolatrous religious system. These things need to be weighed individually through consolation with the Holy Spirit, national church leaders and elders, as to whether wearing or participating in them points clearly to the Kingdom of God, or whether it points to some kingdom of the world. For clearly, what clothes, colors, art, creative styles, etc… we use here on earth, are of no consequence when we enter the heavenly realms unless they are of or lead to idolatry. This was the point of Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 8). Meat in itself is of no consequence unless it has connections to a false idolatrous religious system rooted in demonic powers.

 

Watering Down of the Gospel

Now with a biblical understanding of what the bible says about culture, conversion and idolatry, we can look into how the church has misapplied its teachings resulting in the aforesaid cancer of the church. This cancer is a constant lowering of the standard of the gospel removing stumbling blocks from the gospel so that more people can be part of Jesus’ Kingdom. Let me make it clear, we are not talking about removing our own human-made cultural stumbling blocks (Westernism, Americanism, orientalism, etc…), which I am all for removing. For the gospel message is about removing those and conforming them not to the culture we are reaching out to, but instead to the Kingdom culture that Christ is the model for. Rather the cancer we are talking about here is removing gospel, biblically-based stumbling blocks. While removing any and all stumbling blocks may initially sound good because we want to reduce the gospel ‘barriers’ to allow more people to be part of the Kingdom of God, the important question that begs an answer is, when the gospel is watered-down, is it still the Kingdom of God we are talking about, and ultimately is it the Kingdom of God that “converts” are joining.

 

We often forget that the gospel is not our creation, and is not a standard that we have the right to lower and/or change. The ultimate hubris and audacity of man is to consider that they can do something to gain other’s entry into heaven. Salvation is of the Lord, given by the Lord, and elected by the Lord. There is nothing man can do to add one soul to heaven, and there is nothing man can do to remove one soul from heaven. One of the largest problems of the church today stems from the uneven application of Biblical Theology throughout the church’s ministries. One ministry in particular, missions, is greatly lacking in serious theological criticism. Very often, proponents of faulty missions strategy create “converts” (perhaps real or not) who are theologically corrupt and who propagate that corruption. Watering-down of the gospel is only one of many strategies created over the years with the purpose of men getting others into heaven, which is based in man’s ability to create a solution to produce salvation rather than relying on God’s election.

 

The primary purpose of the gospel and missions is not for the salvation of the lost. It is for the glory of God. Again, when we understand that it is God who saves, we understand that our part in gospel and mission can only be to glorify God. God then in turn will take our glorification of Him through our telling of His gospel, and if He wants, will bring about salvation, if He does not, He does not. That is the Lord’s sovereign choice and only in his ultimate wisdom can we trust. It is not in our power to change, modify or enhance that.

 

1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (ESV)

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The problem with the modern mission movement is that the biblical basis for the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been under attack to such a degree over the past decades, that today, theologically and biblically correct missions is less common than non-biblically-based missions. These biblical deviances are often rooted in postmodernism and the liberal and emergent church. While the roots of this started in the numbers-driven para-church organizations, and academically liberal seminaries through training, books, and education, it has spread to the very foundations of our local churches and accepted without the biblical scrutiny that is due to such an important and foundational part of the church.

 

In the modern missions movement there is a strategy called “Insider Movement”, “C5/C4″ or Contextualization. While these terms are more than likely unknown to all but the most missiologically aware among the church, when fully applied their results are actually very dangerous and their practice is destabilizing the church globally, and locally re-enforcing cancerous theology. Ultimately, this is giving glory not to God, but to demonic idols. This effects every believer, those heavily involved in foreign missions, indigenous believers, and those serving in a silent capacity in the local church in the western world.

 

The Insider Movement uses 1 Corinthians 7:20 as a model. “Each one should remain in the situation God has called him” to justify that people can remain fully in the culture they are in, and still share in the Kingdom of God. However, from the context we learn that this verse has specific, not a general, application. In fact, this verse about remaining in the situation that God called you from is not referring to culture. It is referring to marriage and for those who have non-believing spouses. It has nothing to do with culture. This verse has been used (wrongfully) in a number of Insider Movements.

Now let use focus on the Insider Movement and how it has been used in conjunction with sharing ‘a’ gospel with Muslims.

The Changed Gospel for Islam

Islam, like many religions encompasses almost all aspects of society. Islam is a religion that follows a false god called ‘Allah’, an idol, riddled with customs, prayers, false prophets (Mohammad) and rituals that are tied to the worship of ‘Allah’, an idol. While Islam doesn’t have a ‘statue’ of Allah, and also claims to detest idol worship and say they believe in ‘one’ god, their false religion is nonetheless an idol itself. A Christian must have a biblical worldview of false religions in order to be salt and light to the world. Too many Christians are being led astray when not taught by their pastors and elders that any other religious system that is not biblical Christianity is false and idolatry. An idol is anything that takes away glory that the true, biblical God himself deserves. We learned above that the Bible teaches Idols have their root in demonic powers. It cannot be stressed enough that Islam is an idol and no matter how much make-up you put on it, it is unredeemable. Many out there say since the word “Allah” means god, and that their god is monotheistic and has some, although twisted and corrupt the Quran has biblical stories in it, thus it is compatible with Christianity. Nothing could be father than the truth. The closer a false religion ties itself to Christianity, the more glory it tries to steal away. Mormonism, Jehovah Witnessism, and dozens of ‘close’ yet false cults and religions are successful simply because they deceive slightly, yet the result is the same amount of lostness as Satanism. Lost souls are lost souls. A false religion is false. The cup of Christ cannot be taken with the cup of demons. As children of God we need to have a solid foundational worldview that other religions are false, and idolatry.

 

For a Muslim to convert to Christianity means that their whole society will reject them. Song, dance, art, everything that has any tinge of spirituality has been taken over by Islam in almost every culture that it has spread to. Little culture remains that was before Islam. Islam is the culture. This has led many in missions to deduce that a new believing Christian from a Muslim background will be rejected by their society, and expunged, either by death, force, or ostracized so that they can no longer maintain a job or livelihood. Because of this deduction, and rather than understanding that biblically persecution is guaranteed to Christians (John 15:18-21) and to rejoice in suffering with Christ, these missiologists came up with a social anthropological way to ‘reach’ Muslims. Basically, allow Muslims to keep their Islamic culture, traditions, and even much of their religious beliefs and practices, but just tack Jesus onto it, and somehow they become ‘redeemed’. That faith in a ‘Isa’ is enough, and no amount of false beliefs disqualifies someone from salvation. This has created a new group of individuals that do not see themselves as Christians or part of the universal church, but rather as “True Muslims”, or “Messianic Muslims” who are part of the Islamic ‘Umma’ or nation of Islam. Let us be clear, from the above scripture we analyzed, we learned that anything tainted with a false idol, and therefore demonic, must be utterly rejected, confessed, and repented of in turning to Christ.

 

The following statistics of 72 “Messianic Muslim” leaders shows the degree to which falsehood has been propagated within these communities.

  • 50% go to traditional Mosque on Friday.
  • 31% go more than once per day for Salat affirming prophethood of Muhammad.
  • 96% say there are 4 sacred books: Torah, Zabur, Injil, (all parts of the Christian Bible) and the Qur’an
  • 66% affirm the Qur’an as the greatest of these.
  • 45% don’t affirm God as Father/Son/Spirit.
  • 45% feel close to Allah when hearing the Qur’an read aloud.

 

The Insider Movement has some big claims, saying that thousands of people have “Come to follow Jesus”, yet there is no proof of these claims, and for those who have been studied, as we see above, their authenticity is very suspect. By the above statistics, it looks less like ‘salvations’ have occurred, but more like a new religion has been formed, keeping the idols of old, and adding new idols that they happen to call ‘Isa’. Whether it’s Mormonism, Baha’ism, Jehovah Witnesses, and so on, Satan’s plan is not to create Satanic religions, but to create twisted forms of the Truth that lead many astray. Like in Genesis 3, we see Satan not outright lying to Adam and Eve, but rather twisting the truth of God, and creating doubt, lowering the standard of God’s decree to something that pleases men more than God’s word. The result of Adam and Eve following this twisted form of truth is a world of sin, death, and disaster leading billions through the gates of Hell. A small twist of the truth has dammed the world to an eternity in Hell. Therefore we should deduce, Truth, complete Truth, is vitally important to every believer and the Church, and lies, however so slight, are mortally damaging to the believer and the Church.

 

Mission organizations and missionaries have gone even further, and actually created Islamic translations of the Bible where phrases like “Son of God”, “Father”, “Son” have been removed, horribly mistranslated, or changed in order to be Muslim friendly. One of the biggest complaints that Muslims have against Christianity is that the Bible has been changed. The response has been not to stand up for the Word of God, to stand behind its’ inerrancy, but rather to change it to appease Muslims. How shameful can they be? Are they ashamed of Jesus? Are they ashamed of the Word of God so much so that they feel the need not to defend it, but to change it?

 

We are not talking about translation esthetics here, we are talking about intentional mistranslation that diverges from the literal biblical meaning of the texts. The Word of God is not ours to change. It is His WORD. Again, I stress, the Word of God is not ours to change. It’s meaning was honed and created by God himself for the nations. While some call “Son of God” a stumbling block that should be removed, it is a stumbling block that God Himself chose to create! Need I remind you 1 Corinthians 1:23 “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles”. The mission organizations, churches and missionaries that support and endorse the Insider Movement have clearly left their first love, and have fallen for another, whether it be themselves, the applause of others, their own knowledge, numbers, social sciences, or whatever. But if Christ, and Christ alone were their focus, then these things would not happen. Christ is not ‘a’ way, he is thee way. The Bible is not a Word of God, it is thee Word of God. This is the claim that the Bible and Jesus have on themselves, and if we attest to being their followers, we must also attest to their divine uniqueness, and the demonic roots of any idol that claims otherwise.

 

Not only is this kind of behavior wrong, it is ineffective. If you make the gospel similar to Islam there is no compelling reason to follow Christ. Imagine what it would look like if a westerner claims to be a Christian (or whatever they want to call it) but acts like a Muslim. I posed the same question above at the beginning of this article. If you are a church leader or pastor, would you ever consider or dare to lead prayer in your church by giving salat bowing east towards Mecca like Muslims? Who cares who you are mentally praying to, what would the perception be to the crowd? Muslims view the opposite in their countries just as silly and think the person is confused if not insane. If a Muslim becomes a Christian, they almost surely do not want to remain as they were when they were a Muslim. Although there will surely be things that may be hard for them to change (especially due to social pressure), they will not leave Islam if they are satisfied with it and convinced that it is the truth. In fact, it is surly a sign, a fruit of the Spirit, that leads these believers to reject Islam. Thus why would missionaries ever consider encouraging them to continue in Islamic rituals.

 

This article posed 11 questions in its introduction. Each of them has been answered with a “Yes”, and practiced by individuals and organizations in furtherance of a so-called Insider Movement gospel. However, we have seen that biblically, mixing Islam and such a gospel as they preach is biblically impossible. Truth cannot lay down with lies. The cup of the Lord cannot be taken with the cup of demons. That which is not Biblical, but religious, is idolatry. Whether or not the intention is noble, the results are the same, leading Muslims down a path that is just as idolatrous as before. Thus the scenario that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 23:15 is made alive today. Missionaries play a dangerous game when they engage with this unbiblical strategy. Ultimately they create a disunity in the faith, between the truth of the gospel and a malformed idolatrous gospel that is no true gospel. For those 11 questions posed, the only biblical answer to anyone who values the true gospel that God made and Christ paid for with his blood, is a resounding “No, No, No!”

 

A Call to Action

Many churches support and work with these mission organizations, missionaries and missiologists that support, endorse, and allow these ungodly, unbiblical Insider Movement strategies. It is our duty, as followers of Jesus Christ, believers in the inerrancy of His Word, lovers of God, and lovers of the lost, to stand up and to question and when applicable, to call out the followers and perpetuators of these false teachings.

 

We are not saying all churches, mission organizations and missionaries support these tactics. However, where they stand needs to be known, and known clearly. They themselves need to know for their own sakes where they stand. I encourage you to question intently, churches, mission organizations and missionaries you are involved with. Do not allow them to give you vague or social science answers to these questions, but rather make them answer these questions clearly and biblically. Encourage them to not be associated with idol worship, but rather to be proud and bold in the powerful and unashamed gospel of Jesus Christ, who is calling the world from its cancerous spiritual lies, leading it into redemption and the culture of the Kingdom of God. If you are in leadership, you should urge your church to adopt a statement that clearly places your church for Biblical Contextualization, and rejection of Insider methodologies.

 

If you find out your church, missionaries, or organizations that you have relationships with do endorse and follow these tactics, then in love, grace, and peace, encourage them to change their practices calling them back to true gospel living. Ultimately a choice will need to be made to drop support of those who follow these practices and let them know why. Call them back into true biblical missiology. Perhaps they will publicly admit their unbiblical sin, and publicly repent of it. If they recant their support for these tactics, and change their training and outreach in accordance, then invite them back into the fold of biblical worship and fellowship of Jesus Christ and extend your hand of brotherhood in love, knowing that your brothers and sisters has been saved from disaster and bringing others into disaster.

 

In order to find out where your church, missionaries and organizations stand ask your them the following questions:

 

1) Does your official stance find Insider Movements as biblically acceptable, or denounce Insider Movements as false teachings and theologically dangerous, or do you care? Please give your reasons why to any of the above answers.

 

2) If you do not support Insider Movements do you:

A) Support Missionaries, Ministries, Para-Church Organizations that endorse Insider Movements? If so, why?

B) Support Missionaries, Ministries, Para-Church Organizations that may not endorse Insider Movements, but allow them to be practiced, trained or promoted in their Organization. If so, why?

 

Ultimately, many of you will find that these organizations, and your churches are unwilling to admit that these practices are unbiblical and unsound. They may even say they do not support these strategies, but I encourage you to follow up not with what they say, but watch what they do. All organizations have Statements of Faith, and they often point people to their statement of faith. This is not enough. Find out what your missionaries and mission organizations actually do, for many have fooled themselves into believing that their Statement of Faith allows these anti-gospel strategies

 

Unity of the Body of Christ

Our heart is not to create disunity in Christ, but rather to create true unity in Him, for His glory. Had I thought these issues were minor, and created genuine unglorifying disunity within the body of Christ, I would not be part of opposing them. This, however, is not the case. These missiologies cannot be reconciled with the Bible. They are not in alignment with the redeeming work of the Son of God. These teachings are outside the body of Christ, and sadly perhaps by some of those who propagate them. These errors are not slight, but instead they are massive enough that they demand immediate pause, prayer and a bold reaction. Christ himself fought these methodologies in the pharisees. Paul continued the fight when Peter started to succumb to the idolatry of the judaisers. Jesus and Paul set a serious and unquestionable standard that the propagation of idolatry of any form in the name of God is one of the most hated sins against God. We do not wish anyone, whether our siblings in Christ or not, to believe in something that simply is not just and true, nor fall into the situation described in Matthew 23:15, “Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

No doubt there will be those who will have no shame in spreading their syncretism but when faced with valid criticism from the Bible they will deflect and claim that Satan is causing division through those who display the Biblical truth. This lie itself is rooted in falsehood. Whether consciously or subconsciously on their part, this is a great emotional tactic to keep others from calling them to account. They might as well say Satan was using Jesus, Paul, and the disciples to propagate disunity. Let us not forget, while unity is important, equally important is calling out those who preach a false gospel.

 

Conclusion

When we die, Jesus, the Son of God, our sole savior will stand before the Father and defend each one of us. He will say, “I know him, he is mine.” It is the least I can do to write this article and defend Him, His sacrifice, and His identity as Lord God, Son and sole Savior. I pray that the message of this article rings true for you, and that not only can you also have the privilege to have Jesus defend you, but also those who come to the full knowledge of Him through your ministry. I am sure those on the opposite side think the same. However, it is in this that I believe we differ. My goal was not to attack every syncretism out there, but rather to create the standard to judge all ministry in light of the Word of God. We all were idol worshippers prior to knowing Christ. When we become followers of Christ, all things from our past must be scrutinized in that light and dealt with accordingly. Idolatry cannot share in the table of the Lord and we are clearly commanded to break from it. In this, the Insider Movement, C4/C5 is in direct opposition with the scriptures on this.

Scriptural references have been used throughout this article. Great pains to show evidence for every statement were made all based in the Word of God where all authority lies, and is complete. We do not need to add to or change its words. The Word of God is all sufficient in revealing His glory and truth not only to me, but to every single soul on earth.

If you disagree with this article, make certain that the Word is 100% in alignment with your views, making sure that they are not your views or strategies, but are fully God’s. If they do not fit, then you must repent, change, and join us, other believers, and the Lord himself and fight against this apostasy as well.

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with the very Word itself that deals with those who hold their own culture over that of the freedom of Christ.

Titus 1:10-11,13- 16 (ESV)

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Below are some more questions that you can ask your churches, pastors, missionaries, or Mission Organizations. This list was formulated by others who are confronting the Insider Movement. Do not settle for Statements of Faiths, but rather get clear and precise answers to your questions.

Do your Missionaries, Mission Organizations, Church Staff, and/or Church:

 

  1. Understand that heresy usually begins with subtly changing the identity and work of Christ?

 

  1. Believe that Jesus always pre-existed as the Son and not as a non-personal logos (word) or wisdom?

 

  1. In their ministry call Jesus the ‘Son of God’, or do you refer to him as a special kind of prophet the way Muslims do?

 

  1. Use Muslim-Friendly Translations in where ‘Son of God’, ‘Father’, ‘Baptize’ and other terms have been adjusted, changed or removed to fit an Islamic world-view.

 

  1. Proclaim Jesus as Lord or have replaced the meaning of Lord with a Muslim-friendly term that means something less than God?

 

  1. Believe that someone is saved even though he/she does not believe that Jesus is God?

 

  1. Have a written biblical basis for their ministry and strategies?

 

  1. Consider that the Qur’an is a source of revelation about the Father and the Son and/or use it in their ministry?

 

  1. Know that Biblical Christianity has a worldview different from the Islamic worldview?

 

  1. Call themselves Muslims based on the meaning of Islam as ‘submission to God’, thus tacitly affirming Islam?

 

  1. Follow the Muslim prayers in the mosque (Salat)?

 

  1. Understand that there is no Messianic hope in Islam such as Judaism has, that there is no such thing as a Messianic Muslim?

 

  1. Understand how Muslim beliefs affect the faith and Christian worldview of new converts?

 

  1. Have a theology of the Church as the body of Christ for converts who remain in mosques?

 

  1. Teach that converts are part of the historic, visible church in the world and therefore should have relational and ministerial ties to a disciplined body of believers?
Mark has lived and worked in missions for all of his adult life, living and ministering in the Middle East for 7 years. Currently Mark lives and resides in the USA mobilizing for the field, and working hard to bring modern missions back to the heart of God, His glory. His goal is to build missional communities focused on Christ, that live out Christ incarnately, giving Him glory, and transporting those communities to the Middle East to continue glorifying Christ.
Mark Stephan
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4 Responses to Idolatry in the Modern Missions Movement

  1. [...] This article was originally written for Biblical Missiology: “Idolatry in the Modern Missions Movement“ [...]

  2. Mark Stephan says:

    Hello Mitchell,

    Perhaps others might want to give some feedback on how much Islam borrowed their culture from Jewish culture, but I’d say probably very little if any. Borrowing stories (mostly incorrect) doesn’t mean borrowing culture.

    Certainly there is the praying during certain times of day, which the Jews did also, but I’m not certain that can be considered a significant cultural borrowing. Islam is an Arab religion that is distinctly arab.

    In fact, I look at that statement when quoted alone, and it doesn’t seem quite right to me. So let me give a little context. When I say, “Little culture remains that was before Islam. Islam is the culture.” what I mean to say that little culture remains that hasn’t been islamized. I think its obvious Islam is an arab religion, and by saying it is arab, one assumes there is an ‘Arabness’ to it, which is indeed culture. So perhaps I need to qualify what I said by saying all cultures Islam infiltrates, Islam takes over and absorbs what it finds useful, and annihilates what it doesn’t find useful.

    As for redeeming culture, that’s not a theology I attest to. I do not believe our job is to redeem culture, but rather to be redeemed by Christ, cleansed by His blood, and renewed by the Holy Spirit, being presented to the Father as adopted children.

    As redeemed believers, obviously we impact the culture around us, but our culture is the heavenly culture. We are now aliens to this world. The redemption of humanity’s culture isn’t God’s plan. The replacement of earthly culture with His own is His plan.

    So rather than trying to fix culture, we should be bold witnesses for the Kingdom culture, testifying to Christ, and glorifying God through the proclamation of the gospel. The side-effect of that is, yes, culture changes around us. But it isn’t the goal.

  3. mbrookland says:

    You wrote, “Little culture remains that was before Islam. Islam is the culture.”

    But didn’t Islam borrow significantly from Judaism? From your perspective, wouldn’t at least those cultural forms be redeemable and possibly even beneficial?

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