<a href="https://biblicalmissiology.org/author/westfalr/" target="_self">Ralph Westfall</a>

Ralph Westfall

Ralph (Dave) Westfall is wrapping up a second career in teaching computer information systems at a public university in Southern California. Although raised in a somewhat Christian environment, he tried atheism in his youth but that didn't work out very well for him. After struggling with alcohol and anti-social behavior for years, he was invited to a church through door-to-door evangelism. In the second week he put his faith and trust in Jesus and was baptized a week later. His conversion was literally a life-changing experience. He has been walking with the Lord ever since, although God's path has taken him through two churches that had a lot of problems. Nevertheless he learned a lot about how to follow Jesus through his experiences in those situations.

4 Comments

  1. Mark Stephan

    Dave & Adam,

    I find this conversation interesting. Adam, I see that you are from the Austin, Texas area. I did a quick IP check from where you posted your comment. Odds are, we actually know each other since I am in the Austin area as well and very involved in the Missions community there.

    This is what bothers me, and I think it hit a trigger for Dave. People make assumptions, and make judgments on those assumptions without verifying those assumptions.

    Your assumptions are:

    1) We’re a ‘camp’ with all the same views and opinions.

    2) That we have created a mini-crusade against Carl without engaging in communication with him.

    Now while I am sure there are other built-in assumptions, these are the two I’ll answer very quickly.

    1) The Biblical Missiology community is very divergent in views and theologies. We come from Reformed back ground to Assembly of God background. You will find Charismatics, and non-charismatics. You will find Americans, Turks, Arabs, and over a dozen other ethnic backgrounds, not to mention people who grew-up and lived in islam, but came to Christ and proudly and boldly call themselves Christians. We disagree on many issues, but we certainly agree on the uniqueness of Christ, the power of the gospel, and that the Word of God is unchangeable, especially by us. We believe the Word of God, His Gospel and His Missions supersedes any human invention, including culture. We passionately love Jesus, and we are zealous for His Word, and take the scripture seriously when it says there will be Anti-Christs who will pervert the Word, as to lead many away from the faith.

    This brings me to Assumption #2

    2) Carl is a human. I know him, have spoken with him, and interviewed him. He is well known by many in Biblical Missiology, and was even mentored by some in Biblical Missiology long ago. His ministries often come across the ministries of many in Biblical Missiology and there is much interaction. Some good, some concerning. Carl has a lot of amazing ideas, and I understand the motivation of a lot of his Heart. That doesn’t mean I agree with the methods he has chosen to carry out his motivation. Some of them are downright scary. In life, it is easy to find many people with good motivations, and bad means. I’m sure I have been counted among them at times. Our concern with Carl is that he is a ‘Rockstar’ and given to teach many people with a sword of influence that cuts deep. I am not only concerned about the youth he awes and inspires, I am also concerned for him. Teachers are judged far more than anyone else, and with his influence, I am so concerned for him.

    Now, if you do know me, as we are both in the Austin area, I am concerned why you would not reach out to me in Austin and talk with me. Indeed, I know many in Carl’s camp in Austin. I know many in Frontiers, and who believe in the Insider Movement. I have repeatedly reached out to all of them again and again and again and again, yet they have severed community and do not follow-up, or reciprocate the reaching out. The very ones who cry foul, and beseech unity, are the ones who are worst at it. Now there’s a cult if there was one.

    So I offer again, reach out. Do not hide behind fake names, or pseudonyms. Children and weak minded men do that. If you are ashamed of your views, by all means, abandon them. You have my permission. If you believe your correct, then stand up for it and put your name and honor staked to it. Let us be straight with one another and contend for our faith as men of God should, and if one of us is in the false, may the Lord open their eyes through the sharpening of brother and brother he reveals the light of truth. Isn’t this the goal we should be seeking? How can one sharpen, if one will not contend with their brother for the faith?

  2. Avatar

    Hi Adam:

    Although you haven’t responded to my requests for clarification, I will still respond to your questions.

    Question: “Is there a way that guys like you and Carl can learn from one another and progress towards completing the task of the great commission?”

    Probably yes. Since none of us is omniscient, every interaction with others’ ideas provides potential learning opportunities. However a lot of what he said in general about evangelism was similar to conclusions I had already reached. Similarly I doubt that my concerns about his approach to evangelizing Muslims in particular are much different from things others have already said, on this site and elsewhere, about his strategies.

    Question: “How could Carl walk that ‘tightrope more faithfully?'” (This was referring to my statement that there is a “fine line between trying to be culturally sensitive and being untrue to the gospel.”)

    That’s easy. I think Carl Medearis needs to much more clearly represent the Jesus of the Bible and Christianity as very different from the Jesus of the Quran and Islam. And that even if you use the name Allah for the God of the Bible, as Arab Christians do, he still is very different from the god of the Quran and Islam.

    Question: “When is the last time you’ve talked about Jesus with a non-believing friend?”

    I’m involved with a weekly study group of Christian faculty at the secular university where I teach. We have one regular participant who is not a Christian.

    Now let’s try to look behind that question. The church I was saved in was independent and ultra-fundamentalist. A lot of the preaching was to the effect that we weren’t witnessing enough and our personal failings were the reason the church was small and not growing. In other words, the pastor was trying to motivate his flock to be more evangelistic by making them feel guilty.

    Evangelism being a spiritual gift that not everyone receives wasn’t talked about much in that context. Neither was the idea that evangelism is a corporate responsibility in which individual Christians participate according to their gifts, abilities and callings. Or that prayer to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers might be as important as or even more so than being a worker in the field.

    And then there’s the quality versus quantity issue. Engaging in a large number of evangelistic encounters that present an explicitly or implicitly distorted version of Jesus is probably not going to do as much for the kingdom as a smaller number of more faithful depictions.

    Now here are a couple of suggestions for you, Adam.

    1. Use your full name when posting to forums. I understand there are situations where there might be a need to maintain anonymity, but I really doubt that the Comments area at Biblical Missiology is one of them.

    2. Don’t make assumptions about the motives of people who say things that you disagree with. Respond to what they say instead. If someone clearly identifies with a position, you can take it at face value and respond to that. If not, don’t speculate.

    Blessings,

    Dave

  3. Avatar

    Hi Adam:

    Before I answer your questions, could you clarify a few things for me?

    You mention the “(generally) respectful tone” of my review. That suggests you felt some part or parts were not respectful. Could you help me to improve my future efforts by pointing out anything in my review that possibly was not respectful?

    It seems to you that I’m “in the ‘camp’ that shouldn’t like this book.”
    1-Pray tell, what is that ‘camp?’ And what are it’s defining characteristics?
    2-What makes you think that I might be in that “camp?”

    You also indicate that I may have “found reasons to not to” like Medearis’s book. What is your basis for that inference?

    Blessings,

    Dave

  4. Avatar

    Hey Ralph (Dave?),

    I appreciate your review and your (generally) respectful tone, but have some follow up questions. It seems to me that you really want to like this book, but because you’re in the “camp” that shouldn’t like this book, you’ve found reasons to not to.

    So here are questions:

    Is there a way that guys like you and Carl can learn from one another and progress towards completing the task of the great commission?

    How could Carl walk that “tightrope more faithfully?”

    When is the last time you’ve talked about Jesus with a non-believing friend?

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