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Among the many approaches in ministry to Muslims the most disturbing is what has been called the Insider Movement. Those who promote this approach believe that missionaries and evangelist should not attempt to remove a convert from his or her community. In fact, Insiders do not want Muslims to convert away from Islam but rather stay within Islam. The Quran is used extensively to the extent that for instance Common Ground recommend to their students to buy two copies of the Quran. Camel Method strongly recommend that Muslims read the Quran. One for personal study and one for use in evangelizing Muslims. The Quran has 93 references to Jesus. These are used to convince Muslims that the Quran values Jesus above all other prophets and that he died on the cross. Contextualization, the Camel Method, Common Ground among others basically share the same view of Islam, Muhammad and the Quran. Some of them like the Camel Method deny that they are insiders. In a tract named “Ruhallah” they introduce the designation: “Completed or Pakka Muslim.” If this is not Insider, what is?
The insider movement is unbiblical. This is not a comprehensive article. However, it is important to show some of the problems this fast growing movement.
1. The insider Movement holds that the gospel message is contained in the Quran. WRONG!
Common Ground and Camel Method materials hold the Quran with high regard., The leaders read into it a Christian soteriology (way of salvation) that does not exist, and interpret the Quran from a Christian perspective. The claim of results does not justify the deception in the method. While some verses in the Quran may contain a positive view of Jesus, overall the Quran denies Christ’s deity and his redemptive work on the cross.
2. Insiders start their witness with the Quran as though it has the power to transform. WRONG!
We need to begin with the Bible and preach from the pages of the Bible not the Quran. If necessary it is OK to use a verse or two here and there from the Quran as long as the Quran is not given the sacred value of the Bible. Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17 has been used to excuse the excessive quoting of the Quran. The Apostle quoted a short piece of poetry. I am convinced, Paul would quote the Quran but not excessively. He would avoid any hint that the Quran may be “a word from God”. The Camel Method leaders have produced “Ruhalah” a tract to give to Muslims. They quote the Quran more than they do the Bible. In fact the Bible is quoted at the very end. By that time the reader is deeply entrenched in the Quran. So a reference or two to the Bible does not wipe out the mental and spiritual impact of the Quran on the readers.
3. The approach of the insiders is cognitive. If a Muslim is convinced that Jesus died on the cross, we have shared the gospel. WRONG! There are millions of nominal Christians who cognitively believe that Jesus died but that does not make them born again by the Spirit of God. The assumption that all we need to do is to get Muslims to accept Christian claims, is a major problem with the method. Recently in Morocco I shared the clear gospel of Jesus and the way of salvation with many Moroccans who were “believers.” It turned out that 17 out of 40 in one group had never understood the message even though the missionaries had explained it to them. It was a shock to the missionaries present when these 17 received Jesus as their savior for the first time. When the message is contaminated by the Quran and other competing “truths” the hearer is confused. Though he or she may go along and pray the “sinner’s prayer” the spark of the Spirit of God is missing. God wants us to present the pure message from HIS book not any other.
4. Insiders have a low view of the universality of the church. They seem to view any group that meets together as a church. WRONG!!
The church is global community that is separated from the main stream in any community. The church is called a Holy Nation (I Peter 2:9). To encourage converts to stay away from the national local church is to push them into a dark community without the support of a unique and different group they need to belong to. Jesus stressed that “there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16.) He also prayed “that they may be one as we are one (John 17:22.)
5. Insiders have a low view of the Christian Identity. The hold that Muslims who follow Christ can retain their Muslim identity. WRONG!
To give a follower of Jesus a Muslim identity is an affront to Christ. “Muslim Background Believer”, “Muslim follower of Jesus”, or “Completed Pakka Muslim’ do not help the convert in the newness of life. In fact it encourages them to hide who they are and that is counter productive. Until converts gain a new identity they remain in the claws of the old and over time they abandon their cognitive convictions and return to the old ways. “If anyone is in Christ…” refers to belonging to a new group identified with Christ. Notice also in these among many other verses that the NAME of Jesus is our identity. “They will treat you this way because of my name…” (John 15:21) and “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
The gospel alone has the power to save. The Quran is the enemy’s tool to deceive Muslims and cause them to think that they believe in Jesus. The fact is their Jesus is a different Jesus, one who may be a great prophet but not the only Son of the Living God. Use the Bible not the Quran to being Muslims to Salvation. This is where the power lies.
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http://codylorance.blogspot.com/2012/10/what-is-wrong-with-biblical-missiologys.html?m=0 has a good response to this article. I hope you all will go read it!
I really appropriate your thoughts on the use of the Qua’ran in outreach and my approach is similar; however, I am willing to engage the Qua’ran (or other religious text) when the topic is brought up by the person with whom I am speaking. My approach has been to allow them to present their religious texts and then ask a lot of questions about the things that I see in their text that would make it impossible for me to accept their religious text as an authoritative text from God. I have always looked at this a way to open the door to sharing Scripture i.e. if I am willing to respectfully let someone present their religious texts to me and then let them answer my questions then they will be more willing to let me present the Scriptures to them and answer their questions. What I typically don’t do is begin a discussion by sharing truth claims from their texts because that leaves the impression that I believe those texts are authoritative. What do you do when a Muslim whats to share the Qua’ran with you?
I am opposed to you going to the mosque to participate in Ramadan. This is forbidden by numerous verses against participating in the customs of of ungodly nations. It also gives victory to Muslims who see it as interest in Islam. I wish Christians would completely boycott Mosques. If you want to meet Muslims it is better to meet them in the market place not in their religious centers. I have no time now to develop this for you. I recommend you do a study on the words: nations, customs etc. Here are some of the verses I have selected for you brother. Please take my words seriously. I love your heart and your desire to be effective. Effective to me means leading people to the savior not to just have good conversations. If you have not been fruitful so far, please do not insist on being right. I lead Muslims to Christ regularly and found that only the unadulterated word of God produces fruit.
Exod. 23:24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.
Lev. 18:3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.
Lev. 18:30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.'”
God bless and thanks for your interaction and your willingness to engage for the glory of God not your own.
I agree with you about putting bibles in people’s hands at street corners although you never know how God may use it. I suppose of hundreds of bibles even if only one or two people actually read it and is intstrumental in leading someone to Jesus than it can not be entirely wrong.Although Its not my preferred method. I am a people person and love meeting and getting to know people and be a friend.I invite myself to dinner and work my way into their lives and show them they can count on me to be a true friend of Muslims and that means being true about who Jesus is to me and what He has done for them at the cross.This year I focused more on meaningful relationships as you say. I have an ongoing one here in Florida for over a year and half and now he brings questions from the bible so I know he is doing some reading.I have never mentioned the Quran or used it with him.Actually I haven’t really used it once,not yet anyway.And now I am sure to be careful not to validate the Quran. This is a tricky business. I’ll be going to the local Mosque today for Sharing Ramadan, a public event here in Florida. I’ll keep some bibles in my vehicle.
Biblical Missiology exists to provide an opportunity for people to interact in a respectful but truthful way. I also appreciate your serene approach this time. Thank you for responding kindly. You do bring up good questions which I am anxious to respond to.
You wrote: “I have a friend in the Middle East who has a small group of Muslim men meeting weekly for a study of the prophets using the Quran to bridge the bible for several months now without missing a meeting.
My reply: The claim that if we use the Quran, more Muslims would listen to us is often true. However, what is the purpose of meeting with a number of Muslims? Is the meeting the goal or is bringing them to Christ the goal?
I know many who do that without fruit. There are reasons for that. When you mix the message of the Quran and the Bible people may listen but they will end up confused. When the Quran is used to bridge to the Bible, you are validating the Quran and giving authority to the Quran. Even if Muslims respond and end up reading the Bible, the Bible does not carry the same authority as the Quran. As a result you are actually giving the Quran the greater authority. This does not result usually with salvations. In Beirut in the 1970s more than 35 Muslims joined a study like the one you described. That lasted a few months. When the course was completed, all of the Muslims left the group and returned to their normal Muslim life. I am also aware of groups in the USA who promote this view. When I ask them about results, they usually do not talk about salvation, they only speak about how they got so many people to listen to them.
I use the Quran but minimally. Paul in Acts 17 quoted the Greek poets minimally. in over 40 years of ministry to Muslims, I have found that the less you use the Quran the more effective you are. The more you use the Bible, the more effective. Our goal is not just to be heard, but to help Muslims find Jesus.
You Wrote: “if a Muslim believes the bible is a corrupted book why would he take the time to listen to its message.”
My reply: I hear this argument so much that some missionaries do not even give Bibles to Muslims. Some even give Qurans to Muslims hoping to bridge to the BIble. Theoretically it is true that Muslims believe the Bible is corrupt. But none of them knows that for sure. Most Muslims are curious as to what the Bible is about. Many read the Bible in secret. Millions are going to the internet to find out about Jesus. Thousands are requesting Bibles. Horizons spends thousands of dollars a year distributing thousands of Scriptures. Rarely do we encounter a Muslim who refuses to take a copy.
Brother, two years ago a leader was teaching the idea of bridging from the Quran and to the Bible. At the end I asked him: “have you tried to use the Bible and you failed?” He admitted that he only uses the Quran with Muslims. I challenged him: Try the Bible and let me know how it goes.
Well a year ago he told me. I no longer use the Quran.
I have many such stories.
“In Dearborn,I picked up plenty of bibles off the street floor at the end of it all.”
I have done the same. It is not right for Christians to stand on the street and push the Scriptures or videos etc. I always instruct our trainees: please Muslims meaningfully before you offer them the Scriptures.
You wrote: “Maybe you can explain to me why a Jew is still a Jew only a “messianic Jew” when he comes to Christ…”
My friend The Old and New Testaments are one unit. We have a Judeo-Christian history that is united. Islam is post Christian and contradicts the message of Jesus. This is why we must not encourage converts to retain their identity. Yes temporarily it maybe necessary to wait for the right time to reveal their new faith. Ultimately they must come out.
No we do not make a big deal of our Christian identity. This is our only identity in Christ.
Read these verses to find out that the Bible requires we keep the Christian identity.
Acts 26:28-29: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long — I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
I Peter 4:16: However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
â€¨Thank you again for this discussion.
I personally am very open to use of the Quaran in evangelism and pre-conversion discipleship when strong boundaries are in place i.e. I believe it is wrong to ever affirm a belief in the inspiration of the Quar’an when we share with Muslims. A willingness to sit down and read, and respectfully discuss, the Quaran, Book of Mormon, New World Translation or Watchtower magazine, or whatever other material that would be appropriate for the religious context of the person we are engaging can open doors for discussion about faith that can lead to discussions about biblical faith and about the differences between biblical faith and the faith of these other religions. The problem with C5 ministries isn’t that they use the Qua’ran but that they often affirm the Qua’ran as source of truth and revelation from God and they affirm a belief in Mohammad as a true prophet of God. I am willing to read and discuss material from other religious contexts because I believe that the truth found in Scripture will illuminate the fallibility of these other sources. I believe it is a serious mistake to use these other sources in a way that shows that they are in harmony with Scripture; while it is true that there are some points of harmony, even at these points of agreement the differences are far greater than the points of agreement. Yes, both sources affirm a belief in one God but the God they describe is very, very different. Yes, both sources affirm a belief in Jesus as a messenger from God, but Scripture also describes Jesus’ as God himself incarnate, etc… minimizing the differences between the Quaran and the Bible is taking away the heart of the Gospel message itself.
You have asked some very good questions this time that more closely reflect the heart of many of the issues were are facing. Thank you for taking the time to better understand the heart of the issue. I would like to tackle a couple of those questions, although out of order. I would like to start with this question “can explain to me why a Jew is still a Jew only a “messianic Jew” when he comes to Christ?” because this is an area in which I have more than a passing knowledge. I am neither a messianic Jew, nor Jewish but I have studied Hebrew through the graduate level in college and part of my Hebrew studies required a great deal of study related to Jewish history and culture. To begin with, one of the basic differences with Judaism is that it is a term that describes both a racial identity i.e. like Anglo-Saxon, Spanish, French, etc… and a religious identity and in that aspect is somewhat unique. In other words, a Jewish person who has committed their life to a western, orthodox expression of the Christian faith can still be called a Jewish Christian. The fact that they are a Jewish person does not necessarily say anything about the faith and religious beliefs; however, the name Muslim always carries with it a religious identity i.e. there is not a race of Muslims; there are Arabic Muslims, Turkish Muslims, etc… It is not the term Muslim that defines a person’s race. The second issue has to do with the use of a title other than “Christian” i.e Messianic Jew, Follower of Isa, etc… While some may disagree with me, I do not personally believe that everyone must use the term “Christian” to identify their religious affiliation but I do believe that they must understand that they, whether they call themselves (Messianic Jews, Followers of Isa, etc…) are Christians i.e. that their group is part of the whole body of Christ and that most of the body of Christ calls themselves Christians. I am not comfortable with the designations of “Messianic Muslim, or simply “Muslim” because these reflect a religious identity with Islam. The big issue of concern is shown when a distinction is made between Christians and groups that identify themselves by another name i.e. do these groups see themselves as part of the universal body of Christ or do they see themselves as something distinctly different? Over and over in Scripture we, the body of Christ, are called to be unified and so if a title is used to distinguish one as being separate from the body of Christ, it is a serious issue. The very first concern that was raised for me when I began to learn about the “insider” position was when I learned that most C5 groups believe that the “Christian church” is apostate and that they are “Muslims” NOT Christians!
Most messianic Jewish congregations would be the equivalent of C4 on the C1-C6 contextualization scale; there is sometimes a legalism that creeps into some of these congregations that does concern me but most do not cross lines of orthodoxy. However, in recent years there has been a movement in Messianic Judaism that does cross the line to something that resembles the C5 contextualization in Islamic contexts. These Messianic Jewish groups reject the divinity of Christ and a belief in the Trinity, they require observance to the Mosaic (and Talmudic) law, etc… and they see themselves (like many C5 Muslims) as the true church and other Christians as apostate. In many ways these Messianic groups are far more reflective of Orthodox Judaism than they are of Christianity. Yes, I believe that these groups, like the Messianic Muslims, have stepped outside of true Christian faith; they are demonstrating they exact same kind of heretical belief as the C5 groups in Islamic contexts do. Ironically, all of the Messianic Jewish congregations I have encountered that have taken this heretical path have been composed of nearly all gentiles (in some cases it has been 100% gentiles) i.e. tthese Messianic Jewish congregations are not even composed of people who are of the Jewish race.
Want to thank you Georges for your response to my comments ,especially for taking the time to be tactful and respectful.I can only imagine that Paul was in some way like this to those he addressed in Athens. I have a friend in the Middle East who has a small group of Muslim men meeting weekly for a study of the prophets using the Quran to bridge the bible for several months now without missing a meeting.He has taken this group of men from Adam to Jesus and now sharing the part where Jesus said “drink my blood and eat my flesh’.In the meeting one of the men said,if you change to a christian you should be killed and this is the atmosphere in which my friend is sharing. It is clear that you are more knowledgeable about these things then I am but if a Muslim believes the bible is a corrupted book why would he take the time to listen to its message. In Dearborn,I picked up plenty of bibles off the street floor at the end of it all. I am not saying the Gospel is in the Quran but there is a springboard there to usher them to God’s truth as my friend is doing in the Middle East.In Dearborn,One street preacher had young people read outloud with a microphone the parts of the Quran that spoke of the bible as sent from Allah and he explained to them how they should take a copy of the bible and read it.He had their attention.I know you mention taking a verse or two from the Quran and you are right. But it seems to me in “some” cases you have to take a lot more to persuade some people of the reliabiblity and credibilty of the Previous Scriptures(Holy Bible). I sat with my friend in the Middle East as he tried sharing with Muslims and how important it is to show them in their own book the statements it makes about the Previous Scriptures. Knowing that their book is holy to them and we respect that but it does not support the Bible being corrupted and we pointed that out to them using their verses.
You mentioned some people in Morocco that had not actually been born again due to a poor presentation of the Gospel by Insider Missionaries.That is truly disturbing and in our own American Churches there are people not being born again either. The Insider movements that don’t produce disciples is an overflow of the problem in the Church.Lets go to the source of the problem. We don’t even use the term”born again” anymore in Church, many Churches anyway.I heard a salvation message and never heard the need to be born of God. And if Nicodemus didn’t understand these things when Jesus spoke of them and Nicodemus had the Books of Moses. Where do we start with our Muslim friends who see the Bible as changed and corrupted. I am all for being all things to all men that some may be saved as Paul stated without compromising God’s truth. I don’t know how much bearing it has on the topic but In 1 Corinthians 7,Paul talks of remaining as God found you. He goes from being single to being circumsised and even remaining as a slave but get away when you can.So it seems as you say after a time the New Convert from Islam will have their chance to escape its restrictions.
Maybe you can explain to me why a Jew is still a Jew only a “messianic Jew” when he comes to Christ and a Catholic is still a Catholic and attends Mass even though they clearly have received Jesus Christ by faith in their hearts.We all know may so called Christians that are not truly saved or just plain behaving in a bad way like the group with the pig in Dearborn. Anyway, it seems to me that Christians make a big thing about being Christian and I wonder how much of this is religious pride. Will God look to us at the end if we are Christian or if we are Jew or Catholic or Muslim or any other religious title or will He look to see if we are In Christ and found righteous in Him and Through Him?Thank you for your responses and forgive the lenghth writing
WOW.. you have defended me better than I can defend myself. Thank you very much.
I have just read all the comments to this article and found as Benelchi expressed already that perhaps you have jumped too quickly to your conclusions. I would appreciate you reading a bit more thoroughly and not pick on words here and there that trigger your responses.
You have addressed quite a few issues. I will only respond briefly to some of them.
Allah is strictly an Arabic word used by both Christians and Muslims. Being an Arabic speaker myself, I use the word Allah. When I translated the Bible to Arabic I used the word Allah. All Arab Christians use Allah because they have no other word. You are right there. Muslims use Allah also but with a different understanding. So the problem is not the use of the word Allah but the concept associated with the word.
But it is a different story when it comes to other languages. This is where many Missionaries go wrong. They say if Arab Christians use Allah why not let all converts from Islam use it? Not so simple. When a Muslim from non Arab countries use the word Allah, it means they are using it religiously in context of Islam. Iranians who come out of Islam do not want to use Allah. They use Khoda to avoid associating with their former religion. The same is true of Turks and other languages of Muslim people.
In your former post Legeng77 you are unhappy that we are critical of the Insider Movement and you see it as internal fight. You know well that Paul criticized false teachers and exposed heresy. There is a lot of wrong theology in the Insider movement. This is not internal fight. Biblical Missiology is an attempt to provide biblical guidance to people who are confused by many non biblical practices.
Thirdly, I agree with you that we must not be demanding persecution to the new converts. I usually provide much guidance to people about how to relate to their families and culture and prepare them for a bold witness. Most of the people I have worked with end up leading some or all of their families to Christ. But it takes 2-3 years before their families accept them and begin to engage them on the reason for their conversion. It is exciting to see entire families come to Christ because of the bold and faithful witness of one of the family members.
Finally brother, Yes Paul was lowered in a basked. But remember he was a new believer then. We have safe houses for converts if necessary and we help them escape for a period then we help them reconcile with their families.
Over all I want to tell you Legend77 that I can see you have a good grasp of the Bible and are interacting with us for better understanding. I invite you to join our forces to promote a truly biblical approach to missions among Muslims.
God bless you.
I don’t have time to address all the errors in your post; however, I would encourage you to please go back and read what has actually been said before responding because you have attack things that haven’t been proposed.
1)Georges Houssney, the author this article, speaks fluent Arabic and is very aware that Allah is used for God in Arabic. He hasn’t condemned Arabic speakers because they use this term for God in this article or any other.
2)Georges Houssney, who works in these Islamic contexts has not advocated that a new believers immediately to make his conversion known to those who “would have his head or throw him or her in prison.” Everyone I know who involved in missions in these contexts understands that normally a new believer needs to be grounded in their faith before making their conversion known publicly. The timing of a public profession of faith is different with each believer. The difference between the “insider perspective” and the position of biblical missiology is that biblical missiology recognizes that Islamic faith is incompatible with Christianity and followers of Christ do need to eventually come out of Islam but the “insider” missiologist encourages the believers to remain forever within their Islamic context and engage in a syncretistic faith.
Again, I would encourage you to take the time to read and understand what is truly being said before attacking positions that are not held by those who stand against IM. There is a wealth of information on this sight about what biblical missiology really believes and a much better discussion can be had if you simply take the time to understand what they have truly said. I know that Georges has given his time to read volumes of articles written by IM proponents in order to truly understand the IM position before coming to his conclusions, shouldn’t you do the same before attacking his?
How do you explain millions of Arab Christians using the name Allah in worship and Praise? Is there another name for God in Arabic. from where do you think we got the english word’God” for the Creator? In the movie “End of the Spear”,did the sister of Magayani say to the warrior,you are worshiping a false god and we bring news of the one True God or did she say to him when he asked why the missionaries didn’t use their guns(They came to tell you that Mogogani has a son)?Do you think God cares what name we call him. The Jews have that department right and what does it benefit them. Paul says,He wishes he was accursed from Christ if his countrymen could be saved.Obviously having the right name of God is not enough to merit eternal life.He has said,His will is to believe in him whom he has sent and that is Jesus the name above all names and only name where men can be saved. And what about Dios in spanish the one I grow up with or Parthian in Mizo or Mungu in Keyna,Africa. Our Creator wants the world to know that He has a son and His name is Jesus and the atonement for man’s sins.He wants to be called Father through Jesus and this is the name Islam denies its adherents.Preach Jesus and let Jesus reveal the Father to the Muslims and all peoples of the world.If He has an issue as to what certain people especially believers call Him let Him answer for Himself. He is an able Creator. His nature and Character in the Bible is what is needed.Saul of Tarsus had the right name for God as a Hebrew of Hebrews and tribe of Benjamin and yet he stood by and saw Stephen murdered. Was Paul worshiping a false god and following a false god at this time in his life? There is only one God. What god was he obeying? He was a Jew of Jews and therefore he knew the true name of God in Hebrew before you and I ever learned of it. It wasn’t the name that was an issue but the fact that Saul didn’t know Yahweh or Elohim on a personal level and had a distorted view of Nature and His will for mankind. No wonder in Athens he says, “this unknown god, I’m here to tell you about him” He learned through Jesus Christ who the Father really is and Muslims can learn who Allah is too when they turn in faith to Jesus of the bible.They don’t need another god to worhsip,they need Jesus to set them free and show them the way to the Father.If they don’t want to continue using the name Allah as many Arab Christians do they can borrow Dios in spanish from me.
Peace be unto you, Thought I’d join and share my veiws for what they are worth. This whole uproar over insider movements is rather disturbing.Which is no surprise seeing how we Christians just love fighting among ourselves about which is the best way to worship God or which is the rightful name of the Creator or even which is the sure way of salvation and etc.. For example saying in the article “what things he must suffer for me” is Jesus responding to Ananias in regards to Saul of Tarsus and I fail to see how this is a general statement for all who come to Jesus.Every true believer will suffer as the lord has purposed for them as He is in control without us experts demanding persecution and suffering for them or even prescribing it as if it were us they have to satisfy.How many Christians in our American Churches actually suffer for Christ and you have no problem about them but the Muslim who calls on the name of Lord to be saved as Scripture promises(Rom.10:13) we want him immediately to have his conversion made known to those who would have his head or throw him or her in prison so on and so on.We shout stand up for Jesus at all cost from the confides of the Unites States where we have religious freedom.Why not go and shout together with them if we are so inclined to be right about what it is to follow Jesus and we love Him as we claim and expect ours to. Even the Great Apostle Paul was lowered in a basket to escape his death. As I said, God is in control of men’s destinies and He knows what to do with his own through His Holy Spirit. It would be wise for us all to run our race set before us as Paul did and let others run their race trusting in the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide into all truth without our two cents but be in prayer for them and His Will to be done.
How about one article, just one, on what’s wrong with embattled churches who withdraw, stay with Western worship and other forms (even as many in the West are abandoning them) and which are satisfied with the status quo?”
This issue has nothing to do with forms of worship. If it were only a matter of form then you would see people objecting to c3 and c4 expressions of faith. People are objecting to the insider movement, not because they object to issue of style, they are objecting to it because it promotes doctrines that are in direct contradiction to those taught in Scripture. If you would like to address specific forms of western worship which you believe are prohibited in Scripture then let’s hear the details of those specific issues. However, it is no more valid to condemn all western expressions of faith, than it is to condemn all eastern expressions of faith found in c4 congregations.
How about one article, just one, on what’s wrong with embattled churches who withdraw, stay with Western worship and other forms (even as many in the West are abandoning them) and which are satisfied with the status quo?
Adam Kalid says:
“This person who wrote the article clearly does not understand insider movements. Insiders come in many shapes and sizes. Insider only means staying inside ones community – nothing more, nothing less.”
Adam, I think that Georges Houssney understands the “Insider Movement” far better than you realize. “Insiders” often present their methodology in the light you have presented it here, but the “Insider Movement” is really defined by C5-C6 contextualization and includes the doctrinal errors described in Georges’ article; the less “contextualized” C3-C4 missiologists do not identify themselves with the “insider movement.” Too often I have found that “insiders” describe their methodology in a way that sounds like C4 while deliberately leaving out the aspects that they know are controversial. They often redefine theological terms in ways that are not compatible with their historical meaning which leaves people with an impression that they have heard commitments to theological positions to which the “insider” has not truly committed. Because of the evasive way in which answers to questions are given, it takes a while to even learn what questions to ask in order to get complete answers to the questions you are asking. In my experience “insiders” never volunteer information that they believe is unknown to the person making the inquiry and that means that a lot of research will be required by the person making an inquiry. I have personally found that it is important to understand the postmodern view of a “narrative” in order to understand what is truly being said. When questions are focused on the narrative of the “Muslim follower of Jesus” rather than the narrative of the c5 missiologist, the answers are always quite different. My suggestion to you is to ask a whole lot more questions and do a little research and find out what c5 looks like in reality so you can ask c5 missologists about how they reconcile the realities of existing c5 communities of believers with the picture they paint for you (which is quite different).
From a philosophical perspective, I think that two of the most fundamental differences are found in how c5 missologists view the idea of a meta-narrative when compared to the biblical idea of a meta-narrative, and in how the c5 missiologist approach epistemology. Understanding these ideas is key to understanding how the c5 missiologist tries to reconcile very contradictory positions.
Thanks for the article. I pray that God will bless you. It’s been awhile, Alberto and I now live in Iowa. Here’s my question: Recently a Christian friend shared with me how excited she was about the “dozens of Sudanese Imams lining up to be baptized”. Where can I read about this? Is this true Christianity that they are professing, or are they still allowed to pledge allegience to the system of Islam? Do you know of this?
The issues is one of salvation and what GOD accepts as correct and complete and not what men prefer to do, yes?
It always is an issue between God’s law and Man’s self righteousness.
God’s word says we are dead in our sin, without a hope of life and only deserving of His wrath and death and hell.
The insider movement would have one keep a foot in both worlds. One is corrupt and in it all are condemned. The other is salvation. God accepts no partial acceptance of His whole Gift.
One can not continue to believe in the cruel ,Allah of the Qur’an and claim the salivation in Christ Jesus of the Bible.
They are contradictions.
Muslim scholars forcefully teach that there is no difference between Islam and Christianity, that the same miracles of Jesus, Isa, are believed, the virgin birth etc. But in all that, the divinity of Christ is denied.
The title of “Christ” is stripped from Jesus.
The atonement in His blood is washed away with the tide of good works and these good work ONLY offered to look good to me. And in Islam this is the same as looking good to Allah.
Muslims adhere to Allah’s law in fear and only when it is mandated and enforced.
Christians lovingly obey God’s commands and seek His forgiveness and welcome His correction, and become more deeply dependent on Him for all things. For those who know they have all things in Christ, all life, all righteousness, this is appropriate. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
But in Islam and many many other false religions which claim God at the heart of their false beliefs, there is the strength and motivation of personal pride and a desire to please men rather than God.
Appearing to BE good.
This is what matters.
Not Allah… except in respect that he will punish them.
For the Christian Christ suffered all punishment and we are free to receive life because of Him.
In Islam there is NO forgiveness UNLESS the Muslim has been good enough to forgive. Who can please this god enough?
In Christianity it is Jesus in whom God, the Father, is well pleased. And it is HIS righteousness imputed to us by grace , by blood, by the law fully satisfied by Him on our behalf.
One can not stand in both worlds, serving two masters. He MUST love one and hate the other.
He will eventually be revealed to either be false to Islam or false to Christ. As an “insider” the wrong choice is likely, as one redeemed by Christ, his salvation will be come unmistakable and i9n an Islamic controlled and ruled nation, his life may be forfeit.
There is real danger in Islamic communities anywhere because Islam see no law but itself as valid.
The breaking of any nation’s laws is acceptable when accomplishing the overarching of Islam in that nation. Honor killings are justified in Islam no matter what the nation’s law says. If one is arrested for breaking the law of the nation against murder, it is expected that the Muslim is standing in favor with Allah (would that were in any way possible) and will be forgiven this particular act as it was an act of salvation being visited on the family member of friend who has rejected Islam in some way.
The two are so diametrically opposed that one can not remain in Islam if one is a Christian.
But one can straddle the fence and never fully cross over to true and saving faith in Christ Jesus alone for all salvation and life. The question is, is this allowed by God? No.
He will not share our love, devotion, and worship with another god.
Is Allah another god?
no… he is Satan himself, the author of all lies, and the cry of the Muslim is the affirmation of Satan’s own word “i will be greater than God” Allah Akbar… Allah is greater.
No one an serve two master.
He MUST love one.
He MUST hate the other.
He can not love both.
He can not BE under both.
Adam Kalid -August 4, 2011- is a little behind the times. I think he has the same basic understanding that I have about “insider” models such as were common in Java in the late 19th & early 20th century. “Insider only means staying inside ones community.” I hate it that the new “insiders” have hijacked the term. But Georges is right in using the term as it is understood now- i.e, according to Rebecca Lewis & other major proponents. Insider Movement is defined by Rebecca Lewis as “a) the gospel flows through pre-existing communities and social networks, and where b) believing families, as valid expressions of the Body of Christ, remain inside their socioreligious communities, retaining their identity as members of that community while living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible.” (“Promoting Movements to Christ within Natural Communities” IJFM 24:2 Summer 2007:75).
Let’s all get on the same page so we will understand each other. Lewis and others want their converts to also continue to practice their non-Christian religion. This is the enigma in missiology we are facing.
Adam: Thank you for your post. Immediately I thought of John 21:15, as Jesus spoke to a man named Peter who was strongly integrated into his fishing community and into the Jewish community.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you truly love me more than these?” That is the critical question, which I believe insiders dance around.
Permit me to excerpt a small piece from the Baker Exegetical Commentary regarding this verse:
” Is Jesus’ question whether Peter loves him more than he loves these men (Witherington 1995: 356, citing Osborne 1981: 308)? Is it whether Peter loves him more than these men do (Morris 1995: 768; Carson 1991: 675-76)? Or is Jesus asking whether Peter loves him more than he loves these fish–that is, his profession (Wiarda 1992: esp. 62-64; Keener 2003: 1236)? On one level, all three are true: Peter must love Jesus more than he loves other people (Matt. 10:37; Luke 14:26) or his natural profession (Mark 1:16-18; Luke 5:1-11), and he is called to love Jesus more than these other men do and to be willing to render extraordinary sacrifice on behalf of his master (John 6:67-69; 13:36-38; 21:18-19). Indeed, Peter earlier had claimed a devotion to Jesus exceeding that of the other disciples (Matt. 26:33; Mark 14:29; John 13:37; cf. 15:12-13). Hence, in context, the second alternative seems most likely here: Jesus challenges Peter to love him more than the other disciples do. Notably, the love required of Peter is primarily for Jesus rather than for the flock; it is to be “a love of total attachment and exclusive service” (cf. Deut. 6:5; 10:12-13; see R. Brown 1970: 1115). Those who want to be used significantly in God’s service must be willing to make greater sacrifices for the Lord they serve.
KÃ¶stenberger, Andreas J.: John. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Academic, 2004 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), S. 597
I did not read the comments, just the article. This person who wrote the article clearly does not understand insider movements. Insiders come in many shapes and sizes. Insider only means staying inside ones community – nothing more, nothing less. I believe in an insider movement but I do not believe in camel or common ground.
I also looked at your Statement of Faith. I must say, I tend to agree with Georges. A statement is one thing, but action is completely another. One may say they believe one thing, but their actions betray their hearts.
Your website seems to have put up a statement of faith to dodge hard questions, but the rest of the site and your actions show that your statement of faith is simply a statement and has not rooted itself in your heart.
Why on earth would you put Muslim testimonies on a website, if you’re trying to convince people to reach out to Muslims for Christ? Why not have testimonies about Muslims who came to Christ??? I find this one of the craziest and unproductive things I’ve seen recently. I’d strongly suggest changing that immediately. Perhaps it’s because you’ve never be part of and seen a conversion?
Your dirty word “extraction” is humorous. I find anthropologists using this term. Something you’d see on a National Geographic channel commentary. As Georges stated, and frankly the Bible is abundantly clear, GOD EXTRACTS. That’s God’s whole purpose. We cannot be saved if we are not extracted from the sinful nature of this world.
God did not make us to stay as we are, and part of that is giving up everything, family, money, home, nationality, etc… Now, don’t mistake this for leaving it, waving bye and never going back. God then, empowers those who gave up everything, to return and glorify Him as an example of His New creations, Aliens to this world, testimonies to those who used to be family and kin. But there is always a time of leaving, turning, changing, restoration, and then as a new creation, Holy Spirit filled, going out and sharing the gospel of transformation.
If you call extraction evil, then you call Jesus the devil.
Now of course our goal should not be to extract for the purposes of making them Spanish, or American. But telling people that we are not called to extract them to the new life God desires for them, which will make them leave the world they knew, is unbiblical.
One of the more comical statements you make is, “We do not, of course, approve of any form of syncretism.” Then the very next sentence is, “If we desire to have an effective ministry to Muslims, we must, in a sense, become as a Muslim to the Muslim world.” Come on, becoming a Muslim is syncretism, unless you really leave Christianity and the tenants of your Statement of Faith to ‘become Muslim’.
You are more gracious than I am. Thank you for your kindness.
You asked me to give you an assessment. I gave it to you.
You say there is not room for dialog, well you are giving up on me. There is room for dialog. I only responded to what seemed to be a sincere request for evaluation. I love dialog but it needs to be based on biblical exegesis and not opinions.
Your statement of faith I said was standard although it does not contain all the elements. That is different than saying it is deficient. Having a good statement of faith does not tell the full story. This has been the problem with many who are solid on theology and shaky on missiology. We are dealing with a missiological issue that has plagued the church.
It is obvious that you are appealing to Christians. But my friend displaying Islamic symbols in the face of Christians has a magical and demonic influence. I stated one story but there are many more of those who have been deceived by Islamic devotion. We need to display biblical lifestyle and contrast it with Islamic practices to give guidelines for the reader or viewer. Do you know how many Christians are too weak and biblically illiterate to discern truth from falsehood? Why are there so many converting to Islam otherwise. And why would you put testimonies of Muslims in full? The right thing to do is to display testimonies of Muslims who have come to faith.
The issues are complex and need a lot of work. I hope this blog will provide the biblical basis for a change and even transformation of the mindset of western missionaries who flirt with Islam rather than promote an unadulterated gospel message.
I do not know you personally, So this is not about you. it is about principle.
May Christ be magnified.
Thank you for your answer. It does seem that there is not much room to dialogue with you. That site was created for Christians, not for Muslims, to help them understand our ministry. We have a site in Spanish that is directed toward Muslims.
We think that it is unfortunate that you consider us to be in the same category with JWs, heretics and false teachers. I am saddened that you think that our doctrinal statement is deficient. Several teachers and graduates of well known conservative evangelical seminaries checked it and approved it. We appreciate you and your ministry and we pray that God use all of us for His honor and glory. We will never seek to convince others that they should not support you financially because of your views. As far as we know, you are a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and we wish you the best.
Thank you for your time.
Response to the Straight Path, people of the book.
The website is technically well designed and organized. It is easy to navigate and the info is brief. The videos are helpful to understand the various sects.
O Lord, how shall I respond? First my friend how sincere are you in wanting to know? I had a Jehova’s witness come to my door last week. What is the likelihood, that by inviting them in and opening the word of God I can convince them that they promote wrong doctrine? I have tried it many times and my answer has been ZERO. So I told them to move on and shut the door.
Brother whoever you are, I do not want to do that to you and shut the door on you. You asked and I will answer. But how much can I say in a blog? May God reveal to you the truth. Would you please ask him sincerely? Let go of your western education (i know this is hard) and open your mind to the possibility that your presuppositions, and your conclusions are absolutely wrong.
First of all the looks of your website… why? Why in the world does it look like a Muslim website? I think I know the answer, you are trying to go inside. But your use of art has the exact opposite effect. Muslims would never put a photo of a Church to reach Christians. It would be dishonest. Do you want Muslims to be more honest than you? Symbols in Eastern cultures represent the beliefs of the person. One tribe in Africa refused to accept the shipment of dried milk in huge NIDO cans. Why? Because the cans had a picture of a baby. They were abhorred that Americans are sending them products made from human flesh. The baby on the picture represented the content not the target. You are using the symbols of the target. This is misleading to Muslims and in fact promote Islamic interests.
Secondly, most of your website is about Islam, videos etc. You think that you are educating Christians about Islam while in fact you are giving Muslims of all these sects a platform. How will you feel if Muslims would broadcast sermons of pastors on their websites. I assure you they would not unless they are trying to show some bad teaching or some confession of an immoral pastor. Sect leaders are very grateful to you for promoting their services. A warning: Do you not think that these have a magic power on viewers? One missionary to Egypt in the early 1980s when I lived there went to a Sufi service to study it and report on it. She was so moved that she converted away from Christ to Sufi Islam. She is a professor at a reputable university in the US promoting that sect.
Thirdly, you do have some good things like the way of salvation, never mind that it is a very westernized encapsulated message that Muslim would not be able to identify with. This is totally incomprehensible to a Muslim without much more foundational information. Your statement of faith is standard evangelical although it does not contain all the elements. So in conclusion you have a very shallow understanding of Islamic culture, like most contextualists an insiders. You are seeing Islam through Christian eyes rather than through the eyes of Jesus. Overall you have mixed messages which verge on syncretism.
Your quotes of Gingrist and Zwemer inside to validate your approach are unfair. I know Gilgrist well and know Zwemer’s approach quite well. Neither of them would do what you have done. Words have various meanings. Muslim to Muslims to these two great men of God does not mean becoming insiders. Quoting a few verses from the Quran is not being an insider.
Finally Jesus was the greatest extractionist. He extracted his disciples from Galilee and brought them to Judea. He called people to break away with father mother and fields etc for the sake of following him. He told a man to leave his dead father to those who are dead to bury him in order to follow him. He asked all his followers to deny themselves completely, total abandonment. Paul did the same, all things he gained from his being a Jew to be rubbish and refuse.
There is a better way, God is using it already. Preach the simple truth about Jesus from the Bible. Leave Islam and the Quran for Muslims to quote as they please. Use the word of God that is greatest weapon to demolish Satan’s stronghold on Muslims. You will see as I do constantly massive numbers of Muslims ready to leave Islam and come to the light of Christ which shines ever so brightly in the Christ centered communities namely churches. Is this enough. I have a feeling you will argue with every point. May the Holy Spirit reveal to you the inefficacy of such games and strategies. The simpler the gospel the greater the impact. “…because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (I Thessalonians 1:5) “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.”
(I Corinthians 2:1) “For Christ (sent me) to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (I Corinthians 1:17)
I offer anyone on this blog half price to come and attend our training. You will leave knowing the biblical tools you need to be an effective witness, discipler, trainer and church planter. Hundreds have experienced it with encouraging results. http://engagingislam.org
In no way do we desire to be unbiblical nor heretics. It would be very helpful if you could check out our website and clearly explain in what specific ways we are unbiblical and heretics. Thank you very much for any insights that you can give us.
The insider Movement uses a lot of scripture in defending their position. Has anyone heard of the Jehova’s Witnesses? All of their doctrines are supported by scripture. Are the JW scripturally based? Same with the IMers. They use scripture out of context notoriously. They also use the Quran out of context. Deception on both sides.
No one should be shamed for calling heresy heresy. Who is going to stand out and contend for the faith as delivered to us by the prophets and apostles of God? Jesus warned the “Jews who believed in him” saying: If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.” To these same people he said that they were neither children of Abraham nor children of God. The shocking words he used to accuse the holiest Pharisees no one today would dare use: “…You belong to your father, the devil…” JOhn 8:31-44.
Does anyone these days dare use these words to describe Islam, and other religions? Does anyone dare use words Jesus used against the most righteous Jews: ” woe to you Pharisees and teachers of the law, you hypocrites…you snakes, you brood of vipers!” Matthew 23:29-33.
Brothers and sisters those of you who know me personally may have noticed that I am very gentle and easy on those who are confused and deceived. But I an relentless on those who are confusing them and deceiving them.
The kingdom is not being served by the Insider Movement. On the contrary Insiders have brought confusion and division in the church. Gladly they are not succeeding among the nationals. Their success is among the western church. I pray that the church would finally wake up to nip this movement in the bud. It is already happening as I know of various large funding sources who have stopped supporting such destructive heresy.
Paul was clear that the there is another gospel preached. This should be rejected and accursed. Galatians 6:6-9.
Brothers and sisters, shall we continue just being nice to each other when the church of Jesus Christ is facing the greatest challenge to its own existence by people from the inside of the church becoming outsiders to it and insiders to Islam? Have you recently heard of attempts to promote a concept that goes beyond Christianity?
Check out this article: http://blog.sojo.net/2010/08/10/can-muslims-follow-the-biblical-christ-and-still-be-muslim/
Here is a quote that should make your hair stand: “I’m wondering if Christians can find a place in their theology to make room for Muhammad as a pre-messianic figure, pointing people to faith in Jesus the Messiah (a term the Quran affirms, by the way), maybe not as authoritative as an Old Testament prophet, but perhaps on par with the status of local prophets in the New Testament?”
I read somewhere and I could not find it now the suggestion that we need to go beyond Christianity. Someone called that Christislam.
Friends, I am not being nasty, I am warning us that we are allowing water to go under us and that one day this will become a flood we cannot handle. Let us shut it at its source before it destroys the church.
And don’t tell me I am afraid. Nothing frightens me. You can tell me that I am being biblically obedient to God’s call to contend for the faith. Jude 3 and to confront false doctrine 1 Timothy 1:3. Finally read this from the pen of Paul: But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. (II Peter 2:1)
I am not consumed by this fight. But I certainly stay alert as Jesus warned us “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
I wish I did not have to say these things.
I think you should be careful in making a blanket statement like, “The insider movement is unbiblical.” Just as in all of Christianity, are there not some who are biblical and some who are not?
I believe more common ground must be found between christians. Yay, this conversation is taking place online where people can be anonymous and there’s no real human interaction. But I think more real conversations need to take place.
I’ve been through two of the Common Ground Consultations and talked to people who attended hoping to convince everyone it was wrong. By the end of the three days those people felt excited, equipped and empowered with a new tool to share the gospel.
I point of insider movement is to present the gospel in a way that doesn’t offend. You don’t have to venerate Muhamad and the Quaran, you just find common ground, what can we agree on?
Let’s focus on that and the quicker you can get them into the word, the better.
I think the thing people will disagree on is the cultural Muslim needing to be coming culturally Christian.
Something that really stuck out to me is the ministries of Jesus and Paul. At the time in those countries to be Jews or Greek meant you practiced the religion of the land.
When the Jews came into the Kingdom, they didn’t leave behind their Jewish ways, except to bring more people into the Kingdom (ext. Paul).
The demoniac Jesus healed offered to leave his family, give up his gentile ways and follow Christ. Jesus sent him home to share the Kingdom with his family, a Kingdom movement started as a result. Had the demoniac gave up everything and followed Christ, his family would never have come into the Kingdom.
Follow Christ’s ministry, his end goal is to bring people into the Kingdom, to bring the most people into the Kingdom as possible and stripping the gospel of any cultural hinderance and leaving only the essentials – Christ.
Why did Paul fight to allow the Greek to keep their foreskin? It’s not just because it’s painful, surely that kind of sacrifice for unity in the body is worth it, right. People need to sacrifice for the gospel and at the time circumcision was the convenant with God. Not being circumcised meant no convenant in the hearts and minds of the Jewish believers. However, in Greek culture it was mortal sin to harm the human body, also all the business was done in the nude and if you didn’t have a foreskin you couldn’t be part of Greek society.
So, a few die hard crazy Greek come into the Kingdom, if the greater body had forced them to snip the tip the Kingdom would have stopped there. Instead, they were able to keep their cultural identity, and the Kingdom went forth.
How does this apply to Muslims? Why not let them stay in their communities, practice their ceremonies and traditions all the while they are falling in Love with Jesus and listening to the Holy spirit. We present the truth in the form of the Bible, and pray and pray the Holy Spirit does the rest. If we ask them to give up huge parts of their culture, that one believer might be willing to do that, but the Kingdom will be stopped short and an entire generation of people might lost.
I’m just staying, let’s not stop the Kingdom short, lets boil the gospel down the bare essentials and trust the Holy spirit!
That’s when we’ll see transformation.
After two Common Ground consultations there’s no denying how biblically based their principals are, we spent way more time in the bible than the Quran.
But lets think about it this way, if someone was trying to convert you, wouldn’t you want them to have at least considered your book. It’s a matter of respect for our Muslim friends. “Hey, I respect your culture and religion, I read your book. Something stuck out to me, do you want to read the Holy books together?”
If they’re a good Muslim they’ll agree and once you’ve opened the Bible there’s no need to go back to the Quran. If they just want to argue and be combative, they aren’t a person of peace so kick the dust off your feet when you leave.
It’s just a tool, some Muslims want to be extracted because they’ve been so hurt by Islam, that’s fine. But those aren’t the people who will lead their entire extended family into the Kingdom. That’s what I’m praying for sustainable people movements, the transformation of the Muslim world to a Kingdom world, however God wants to that to look.
Also, insiders don’t escape prosecution, once their entire family comes into the Kingdom they’ll attract attention from the enemy and there will always be people within their culture and government who don’t trust the evident changes in their lives. First century jewish believers never denounced Judaism, but still came under sever persecution.
In the end we share a goal with Muslims – to have right relationship with Allah. We do have something they don’t have, and we are mandated to share.
I’d also suggest reading this series on Acts 17 and contextualisation by a close associate of John MacArthur. Great series.
That’s my exact question. If we call LDS, and a myriad of other groups cults, how can we create something like the Insider Movement? It seems that postmodernism is yet again sinking its claws into our churches, and missions. We really must get the root of postmodernism pulled where everything is relative and the gospel costs little, and saves none.
In Acts 17 where we have the Mars Hill incident, we need to be careful to see what Paul is, and isn’t doing. Georges Houssney is actually writing a chapter for a book on hermeneutics of Acts 17. Hopefully this week, or next week we will also be publishing an article that goes into this a little.
As a quick note, Paul did discuss the unknown god, even a verse from greek poetry, but he did call the greeks ignorant, and then preached a clear and complete gospel where the result was some thought it was teaching a foreign god (not a greek one, which isn’t insider), some sneered, some wanted to know more. Paul’s goal wasn’t to make the gospel acceptable to them, but rather to show their error, and to lead them to truth.
I am preparing to move to an M nation very soon and some of the points you brought up were interested. I am still trying to decide where I stand on this issue…. But I think it’s ironic for us to say that it is wrong to use someone’s culture to bring them into the Kingdom of God. Paul does this often with the Romans- even using the statue to the “god of the unknown” to tell them who the unknown God is.
I think the important thing when reaching anyone is to not bring our culture into becoming a follower of Jesus- Again we see Paul doing this with the Romans all of the time.
Brilliant stuff. As a (now waiting) candidate to IMB and a hopefully-soon tentmaker to a Mus–m country, this is really thought-provoking.
One wonders if our brethren who are OK with C5 contextualisation and the Camel Method would also be OK with preaching Jesus thru the Book of Mormon and allowing the just-saved former-Mormon to just stay in his stake and continue to submit to the legalistic demands of the bishop, get baptised for the dead, be obligated to give his tithe (and more) to the LDS stake, and preach LDS theology to visitors.
My concern isn’t how to shake their foundation so that they listen, my concern is, how to do that in a god glorifying and Biblically sound way. Camel Method at best is a gray zone, and I don’t believe working in gray zones is a strategy worth promoting.
I don’t think people generally are saying that utilizing a couple verses in the Koran to provoke discussion. I believe the Camel Method goes far beyond that.
I agree that mixing Christianity with Islam is bad.
A lot of people are blinded by their own books, by their own teachings and they refuse to listen to other teachings. I know both Christians and Muslims who do this. In order to get them to look up and see what’s around them you have to shake their foundation in their own book. Muslims have done this by trying to point out that the bible refers to Muhammed a few times, even though the verses are taken out of context, they still attempted it.
I think this camel method, from how I know it, does just that. It shows them using the Quran that Jesus is special, a special prophet, not like the rest of them. If that shakes a person’s foundation enough to look up and start studying “why?” I think it’s good. Then when they look up you offer them the real Jesus.
Wow, Georges. . .what a challenge:
“All truth is not God’s truth. Because the context of the truth is important. Falsehood is known to be a parasite on the Truth. ”
Thank you again!
May I say in addition that I wholeheartedly agree with what you said about the difference between using the Q and actually buying it and distributing it. . .which sounds bizarre indeed.
By the way, I am so encouraged and strengthened to hear of your experiences with “high ranking Muslims” including al Azhar professors.
Finally, thank you the compliments – all that is good and pure in me is from Him and for His glory. Truly, we are nothing without him and apart from Him we can do nothing.
May you – and all all the team here – continue to abide in the True Vine.
You are the ideal reader. The ideal thinker who discusses and not lashes. I have a lot to learn from you.
I have never said that the Quran cannot be used by God to get Muslims to seek after him. God uses all sorts of means to draw people to himself. In fact, in my classes I speak about the various ways Muslims have come to Christ. One of these methods is the Quran. I have known high ranking Muslim leaders who have noticed the supremacy of Jesus in the Quran that led them to read the Bible. Some of these were professors of Islamics in Muslim schools such as Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt. I personally have met 4 of these.
It is one thing for a Muslim who finds Jesus in teh Quran that leads him to the Bible. It is another for a Christian missionary to buy Qurans and give them to Muslims so that they would discover Jesus there.
I have personally used the Quran in evangelizing Muslims too. I have given lectures all over the world about Jesus and Muhammad and compared the two quoting from both the Q and the Bible.
What is the difference? The issue is Authority. If you give authority to the Quran as a source of Divine Truth and Revelation you are misleading Muslims and tricking them.
All truth is not God’s truth. Because the context of the truth is important. Falsehood is known to be a parasite on the Truth. A half truth is a full lie.
God bless and may His Spirit lead us to HIS Truth.
Carl, I’d say something to the extent, “wow, that is interesting. Let’s see what Jesus says about himself.” Open the bible, and start showing from there. Every time the Quran is brought up, again say, interesting, and let’s see what Jesus has to say himself, opening the Bible again. It’s actually not that hard, and actually works. I try to talk less, and let the Bible show itself. I’m always amazed how it takes over from there. Again, it’s not about me or my strategy. If that Muslim is ever going to come to CHrist, God must draw him, and the Holy Spirit must lead. That has nothing to do with me, it’s all God. There is nothing I can do to make it easier, or harder. My role is to Glorify God, and I do that by telling others about Him, and as soon as possible turning them over to Him, and letting them wrestle with one another.
I must admit that I have met Muslims who have been angry at the stripping out of context parts of the qu’ran.
I agree that a point by point debate on this will be time consuming, but can I ask you – and readers of the blog – about a question prompted by your gracious comments. I was wondering, in light of what you say, what a holy and righteous response would be to a muslim seeker whose curiosity about Jesus has been raised by verses in the qu’ran. for example, if my friend approached me and said: “Wow, I’ve just read in the Qu’ran that Jesus is a spirit from God/word from God/sinless”, should I then say that the context is incorrect, or should I seize that as a “bridge”? I’d be interetsed to know everyone’s thoughts on this.
Cheers again for giving me food for thought and prayer, I bless you all in His name.
Let’s keep pressing on, working for His glory among the nations!
I appreciate your serene approach and your strife for balance. As you said we agree more than disagree. This type of dialog is what I seek in this blog. I appreciate your spirit and I can see that you love the Word of God. I will not respond point by point to the differences between our understandings. I will spare you and myself the time. But I do encourage you to keep reading future posts (one or two per week) and things will be clearer in time. The only comment I leave with you is this: The Quranic “truths” about Jesus have been read into by Christians. To give “truths” in the Quran Christian meanings is dishonest and backfires over time. (Read Ibrahim’s testimony of how this happened to his father. I know the man personally) Many later on realize they have been “deceived” by the missionary when they check the Islamic interpretation with an Imam. Or when they are confronted by other Muslims. We have no right to read into the Quran Biblical meanings that are not contextually accurate. Muslims who attack Christianity do this to our Bible and it is offensive. For instance Certain Muslim scholars claim that the promise of the Holy Spirit is really a prophecy about Muhammad. Dabbling with the Quran has many dangers. Quoting the Quran when necessary may be helpful but treating the Quran as a passage way to Christ is idolatry.
Hello to you all, I’ve jotted down a few quick thoughts in response to the request for further expansion on my original comment that this article reflects misunderstanding of IM. I ask you to bear in mind this is but a speedy response as I’m a man hard-pressed for time at the moment! I should also point out that I am not a fully fledged proponent of IM/C5. And having read more of the articles on your website, it appears we actually have more in common than you might think. . .
“Among the many approaches in ministry to Muslims the most disturbing is what has been called the Insider Movement. Those who promote this approach believe that missionaries and evangelist should not attempt to remove a convert from his or her community.”
Yes indeed, when community and religion are understood as a cultural/social constructs, as opposed to spiritual realities. Ie, a muslim does not = islam. And islam does not =simply a religion anymore than being born into a culturally Christian context or community is indicative of your spiritual status. And note that being removed spiritually from a community, ie coming into the ekklesia, does not signal removal in all ways from your community. Some ways, to be sure, but not all ways. To insist otherwise would be to repeat the mistakes of the past – for example, 70+ years ago in the UK, new believers in certain denominations were taught that to “come out from the world” meant little to no mixing with unbelievers. . .effectively marooning the good news in a Christian subculture and bubble. (I have personal experience of this.)
“In fact, Insiders do not want Muslims to convert away from Islam but rather stay within Islam.”
Yes but: Islam as socio-religious construct, not the revelation of God through Muhammad, which is of course in the light of Christ, deficient and distorted. I hope the difference between a cultural identity and a spiritual reality are clear.
“Two Qu’rans. . .One for personal study and one for use in evangelizing Muslims. ”
Surely it makes sense to have a good knowledge of the Quran, and to use any grains of truth within it as bridges to the kingdom?
“The Quran has 93 references to Jesus. These are used to convince Muslims that the Quran values Jesus above all other prophets and that he died on the cross.”
This statement doesn’t seem to reflect the fact that not ALL workers will use ALL the references in that way. For instance, I personally enjoy using what it says about Jesus to highlight his significance and the questions they raise about him which are NOT answered in islam. But I find the mental/theological/linguistical gymnastics required to use the AQ as saying he was crucuified too difficult for everyday sharing. I’m not saying they’re not valid “gymnastics” though, although I personally don’t prefer to use them.
1. “The insider Movement holds that the gospel message is contained in the Quran. WRONG!”
No, many who believe a new disciple does not need to transfer from one socio-religuious grouping to another would use the Qu’ran as a bridge to the gospel, not the holder of the message itself. In critiquing insider movements (as an umbrella term for a lot of different missiological perspectives), perhaps you could acknowledge the differing shades within that “movement”, so as not to throw out any babies with bathwater.
2. “Insiders start their witness with the Quran as though it has the power to transform. WRONG!”
Again, this is not universally true. But even if it were, I think the assumption that we must not begin inside territory people know, is flawed. Granted, we need not remain in that territory, but part of “going out into all the world” is just that, as opposed to inviting people to come to us. (And that applies to attractional, event-based evangelism- “come to our church building to hear the good news” – as much as it does at an intellectual level – “step into my shoes” – to hear the gospel.) Anyway, starting a witness with the Qu’ran does not mean people assume it has the power to transform. Every one of us needs to be Spirit-led in our evangelising: we may be prompted to use the Quran one day, and a personal testimony the next. The moment we think we have found a “template” and method for bearing witness to the Lord, we are in danger of cutting out God’s own say in the matter. . .and that indeed applies to IM proponents as much as anyone else.
“If necessary it is OK to use a verse or two here and there from the Quran as long as the Quran is not given the sacred value of the Bible. Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17 has been used to excuse the excessive quoting of the Quran. ”
We agree here I think! Although I’m not sure that conclusions can be drawn merely from the length of Paul’s quotation.
“He would avoid any hint that the Quran may be “a word from God”.”
Indeed. Although I think he may say that all truth is God’s truth.
“The Camel Method leaders have produced “Ruhalah” a tract to give to Muslims. They quote the Quran more than they do the Bible. In fact the Bible is quoted at the very end. By that time the reader is deeply entrenched in the Quran. So a reference or two to the Bible does not wipe out the mental and spiritual impact of the Quran on the readers.”
I see and feel your heart in this passage, and I bless you for it. Yet from the other side of the coin, I think we need to be wary of viewing books, whether the qu’ran or the bible, as objects of power in and of themselves. Reading a qu’ran does not drain me spiritually, as I am washed in the blood of the Lamb and need not fear. And conversely, reading the bible does not refresh me spiritually – unless I ask and allow God to speak through that which he inspired, it could just be another book, as countless atheist scholars have proved when they pick apart its pages with their hearts closed to Him who breathed it.
3. “The approach of the insiders is cognitive. If a Muslim is convinced that Jesus died on the cross, we have shared the gospel. WRONG! There are millions of nominal Christians who cognitively believe that Jesus died but that does not make them born again by the Spirit of God.”
Absolutely right that the gospel is not (initially at least) cognitive. Yet these assumptions reflect our western cerebralism and apply to Christian work in general, not merely to IM proponents or those who work among Muslims.
“The assumption that all we need to do is to get Muslims to accept Christian claims, is a major problem with the method.”
As above, and with all who are not yet in the kingdom. The good news is a call to obedience under the crucified and risen Jesus’ lordship. Obedience/following of him, can surely precede complete understanding of him. (the first 12apostles make a good case in point!) Again though, please don’t assume that such an approach characterises all workers!
4. “Insiders have a low view of the universality of the church. They seem to view any group that meets together as a church. WRONG!!
The church is global community that is separated from the main stream in any community. The church is called a Holy Nation (I Peter 2:9). To encourage converts to stay away from the national local church is to push them into a dark community without the support of a unique and different group they need to belong to. Jesus stressed that “there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16.) He also prayed “that they may be one as we are one (John 17:22.)”
I think it was this bit which struck me most as a misunderstanding. (Yet once again, I see and bless the pure heart from which it comes.) Yes indeed new believers need to be part of a “called out community” where they can become disciples and disciple-makers. But that does not necessarily mean the national local church, especially in contexts where it might not exist. By way of analogy (however imperfect it might be), I think of my own town here in the UK. The nearest church family to me is an African congregation, with whom I have had the pleasure of praying and worshipping with on several occasions. However, cultural – and to some extent doctrinal – differences mean that that community of believers is not my “home-church”.
And as much as my heart’s desire is for Jesus’ prayer in John 17 to be made more obviously a reality, I have to accept that diversity in the church doesn’t mean disunity. Having various group’s which meet under the Lordship of Christ, called out from the world, does not mean that the flock is not “one.”
5. “Insiders have a low view of the Christian Identity. The hold that Muslims who follow Christ can retain their Muslim identity. WRONG!”
I think this particular point may centre around questions of what “Christian” identity actually is. I posit that it to do with being in Christ, rather than with which cultural group we may be aligned with. Before I was born again, did I have a Christian identity for instance?
“To give a follower of Jesus a Muslim identity is an affront to Christ. ”
True identity cannot be given – we are what we are until God forms the likeness of his Son in us. But again, surely it depends on what is meant by “muslim identity”? Are we talking about a cultural identity here? A person’s name or dress for example?
” “Muslim Background Believer”, “Muslim follower of Jesus”, or “Completed Pakka Muslim’ do not help the convert in the newness of life. In fact it encourages them to hide who they are and that is counter productive.”
I agree that hiding “who they are” is counter productive by the way, although surely it is impossible to truly hide the new life of Christ.
I’d be wary of attaching too much significance to the labels and names people choose to call themselves though – as you know, “Christian” itself started out as a label applied by others to the followers of the Way. Nowadays it may mean a person who is in Christ, or it may be a whole host of other things. In the UK, it often means someone who was christened at birth, or who is not part of an ethnic minority. Even to my secular colleagues at work, that label leads them into all sorts of assumptions about who I am, what I believe and how i approach life. . .only some of their assumptions are accurate or an accurate perception of what it means to be in the kingdom! Or how about in a country like Lebanon, where the term may be a sectarian and political identification as much as an indication of a person’s spirituality? (Not that we shouldn’t be attempting to reclaim its true meaning by the way. But I am concerned that only the cross should be a stumbling block, not semantics!)
“Until converts gain a new identity they remain in the claws of the old and over time they abandon their cognitive convictions and return to the old ways.”
Yes indeed, but our identity should be in Christ, not in religious affiliation – either to Islam or Christianity. (I appreciate such a statement can be hard to grasp by the way, but I trust you hear my heart in it, even if the words themselves are an inadequate attempt at explanation.) I’d be interested to see statistics of people who gave up their “cognitive convictions” due to mere nomenclature. In fact, I am reminded of your statement earlier in the article that mere cognitive conviction is not enough. . .thus abandoning cognitive convictions may hint at other reasons for a person’s falling away, or even that they were not in the kingdom in the first place.
” “If anyone is in Christ…” refers to belonging to a new group identified with Christ. Notice also in these among many other verses that the NAME of Jesus is our identity. “They will treat you this way because of my name…” (John 15:21) and “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” ”
I do agree. But again, let us not be pedantic with semantics here! If we apply a wooden literalism to this text, surely we should be called by Jesus’ Aramaic name?! Perhaps Bible scholars can correct me, but I was of the impression that “name” in 1st century (and indeed, before and after that) Middle Eastern Jewish culture, refers to the whole character and identity of the person, rather than the mere combination of letters or vowel sounds by which they are known. I mean, the early believers suffered for His name without necessarily having it attached to them as an identity label. Rather, they suffered for his name because of who He was/is in them – those first Jewish believers didn;t need to be called “Christian” to be identified with the Messiah!
“The gospel alone has the power to save. ”
“The Quran is the enemy’s tool to deceive Muslims and cause them to think that they believe in Jesus. ”
Yet what the enemy intends for evil, God can use for His purposes. It is truly a tragedy that many of our dear muslim friends and neighbours believe they love, respect and follow Jesus because of what they have read/heard from the Qu’ran. But I suggest to you that it is possible to draw their attention to the significance of Christ in the Qu’ran to show that there is much more to the story than is contained within its pages.
“The fact is their Jesus is a different Jesus, one who may be a great prophet but not the only Son of the Living God.”
I take your points here. (Although I think it is an over-simplification to talk about a “different Jesus”.) In addition, some inside the IM movement would point out that “Son of God” is a messianic title, and that the Quran’s rejection of sonship is based on a misunderstanding of that title as being ontological/ biological sonship resulting from relationship between God and Mary. So, seeing as the Qu’ran affirms Jesus’ messiahship -without providing details of what that actually means- we should be looking to explain this glaring omission which provides a tantalising hint of who he really is. (By the way, i think that examining the concept of messiahship in the old testament and the historical period leading up to the Incarnation would be a profitable exercise for many Christians too, some of whom seem capable of only understanding “Son of God” as a second-person-trinitarian term. A far richer picture of Jesus emerges when we see how he redefined messiahship around himself and showed who he really is by delivering us from those enemies from which only God can save.)
Perhaps a new conversation with our muslim friends could focus on explaining to them that they actually DO believe Jesus is the Son of God if they believe he is al-Masih! It is my hope that this would provoke an “itch” among seekers that only true revelation of what that means can “scratch”.
“Use the Bible not the Quran to being Muslims to Salvation. This is where the power lies.”
Praise God, His power can be displayed everywhere and through anything. Let us not limit the One who spoke even through Balaam’s donkey! Let us use every tool that God gives us!
My husband and I just recently left the church we belonged to due to the C5 contextualization that is being promoted and taught within the Muslim missions outreach they have.
I will be praying for your website. I believe that mixing Islam and Christianity is the worst form of “adultery” there is and I’m surprised at the number of Christians who seem to think there is nothing wrong with this or simply don’t care.
Right on! As a CMB (Christian from a Muslim Background), I couldn’t agree with you more. This movement must be shunned. Muslim scholars are mocking contextualization. Christians are confused. Use of the Qur’an as an evangelism tool should be avoided at all cost. It was not inspired. In addition, the Hadith shows it was a concoction of Prophet Muhammad.