Common Path Alliance (C.P.A.) actively promotes, through collaborative relationships with churches, the erosion of the differences that distinguish Christianity and Islam. Their mission statement reads, “We exist to unite people, Who have been divided by religion, By seeking our common path to God.” Their chart below entitled “Abraham’s Two Sons of Mercy” is an instance of the C.P.A. mission statement. But it also is an example of the assimilation of biblical truth for the purpose of promoting an agenda sympathetic with a point of view that is theologically Islamic. This distortion is destructive for the church today, especially when it becomes part of the basis for training missionaries. Will the church be faithful to the Word of God or the trending spirit of the age? So, The following is my refutation of error in the church today. (1 John 4.4-6)
About the Chart
The most interesting element of the chart entitled “Abraham’s Two Sons of Mercy” is the one that pertains centrally to its diagram but that is not included, the element of COVENANT. A biblical understanding of the Old and New Testaments presupposes a perspective foundational in scripture, that it was through his covenant that the LORD established himself in the life of his creation, and that it is by covenant that we truly comprehend ourselves, our lives, and God, the LORD. The chart implies that shared human genealogy is of ultimate importance, but it is not. The two sons, half-brothers, share blood but not the ultimate purpose for which the one is chosen, the purpose to which I turn.
Covenant with One Man
To accurately interpret the chart, its reader should begin at its top, with Abraham. We know of Abraham because the Bible says he was chosen by God:
“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed'” (Genesis 12.1-3: English Standard Version).
Previously the LORD established his covenant with Adam and all creation, Noah and his sons and their offspring, and next, through the choice of one man. Note the following:
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.’ Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, ‘Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations….And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you'” (Genesis 17.1-7).
It becomes apparent, the many through whom covenant has come, that they are less important than the covenant itself, including Abraham (J. Hudson).
Isaac, not Ishmael
The account of Hagar, mistress of Sarai, and how at Sarai’s urging she was given to Abram for the purpose of obtaining children, is the prelude to the conception of Ishmael. Ishmael was born to Hagar when Abraham, his father, was eighty-six years old. Thirteen years later (having changed Sarai’s name to Sarah), God promised Abraham a son by Sarah: “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed…” because Sarah and he were ninety and a hundred years old respectively; and the Bible indicates that Sarah’s body no longer had the capacity of child bearing (Genesis 17:15-17). Having believed God, Abraham had immediate concern for the standing of his heir, Ishmael:
“Oh that Ishmael might live before you! God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly….But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year'” (Genesis 17.18-21).
And so it was.
It is important here to note that Ishmael is excluded neither from the God of the covenant nor from the Abrahamic covenant, but of the covenant God established with Isaac and his offspring, Ishmael is not heir.
The Promise Fulfilled
The supernatural event that is the birth of Isaac has the utmost relevance to the fallacious implication of the chart. The chart implies that, because Ishmael and Isaac are equally sons of Abraham, the significance of their offspring is mutual in every way. But in contradiction the sovereign LORD of the Bible and of history demonstrates the uniqueness of Isaac’s life, his lineage, and his posterity’s ultimate culmination.
“Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18.14). Compare the following verses: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” â‰ˆ “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Genesis 18.14; Luke 1.37). Luke is recounting the words of the angel, Gabriel, who, in one sentence, foretold two supernatural births: that of John, the Baptist and Jesus, the Christ. The two verses hearken what is the ultimate purpose of the covenant the LORD established between himself and Isaac: Jesus Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of all covenants! Even the explanation of how in the person of Jesus this achievement would be realized is explicit in Isaac’s life.
The weaning of young Isaac with its celebration marks the point of the separation of Ishmael and Isaac. Sarah, protective of her long-in-coming only son, notices Ishmael mocking the young child. So, she appeals to Abraham for protection: “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac” (Genesis 21.10). Abraham was displeased by Sarah’s plea, but God told Abraham to grant her request, and he did. Centuries later the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write of this in his epistle to the Galatians, to which I will later refer.
The Sacrifice of the Promised Son
Isaac had become a young man, and God, to test Abraham, said: “Take your son your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22.2). It is to the terminology “only son,” the foreshadowing of the founding of the New Covenant, that I draw your attention. [At this theological juncture of my paper it is appropriate to remind the reader of the chart, that the Qur’an says, “It is not befitting to Allah that he should take unto himself a son” (Maryam 35). Curiously, the Qur’anic reference I quoted is the next verse in the Qur’an from the Qur’anic reference on the chart. It is almost as if the designer of the chart intends the reader familiar with the Qur’an to notice it, but I digress.] Abraham and Isaac reach the place of God’s instruction, build an altar, and put in place the wood. Isaac, unsuspecting, has already asked, “My father….Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” to which his father replies, “…God will provide for himself the lamb…” (Genesis 22.7,8 cf. Exodus 12.1-11). And God did and has again, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16). Isaac was not sacrificed but Jesus was, for as John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1.20).
The chart illustrates a false parity between Mohammad and Jesus. It is Jesus, not Mohammad, who is “the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9.15). Jesus, with the Apostles on the night of Passover, explained to them that he, himself, THE LAMB OF GOD, was about to be sacrificed. Jesus said to them, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22.20). It is Jesus, not Mohammad, to whom the covenant came, through Isaac, not Ishmael. Furthermore, only Jesus was sinless, capable of atoning for the sins of the whole world. As it is written, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5.21). The writer of Hebrews says, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’ This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant” (7.21, f.).
“This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118.23)
Finally, as it pertains to the practical theological differences symbolized by the two sons, they are Law and Grace, Slavery and Freedom. Paul writes the Epistle to the Galatians, a letter to a church being persecuted by legalists (Judaizers). It includes an allegory that employs as metaphors Hagar and Sarah (4.21-5.10). Hagar symbolizes the slavery of the Law, the position of bondage those under the Law are held in by unqualified requirements of perfect obedience. But Sarah symbolizes freedom from the Law, new covenantal Grace, freedom by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
The two sons of these two women in Paul’s allegory figure as two covenants, Law and Promise. Ishmael figures as the son born of natural means subject to natural limitations and their consequences. Isaac figures as the son born of supernatural means, the result that Sarah’s natural limitations could never have produced, means by which the LORD “did to Sarah as he had promised” (Genesis 21.1).
This brings us to the bottom of the left side of the chart, where it says of Mohammad, “Last and Only Prophet in the Line of Ishmael…Slave of Allah.” The truth about Islam and Mohammad is depicted and stated inadvertently. It is a religion outside the covenant of promise from Isaac, one very much of bondage, and Mohammad is its prophet. The bottom of the chart, with the positions of Mohammad and Jesus at their line’s respective ends, implies parity. Reader, be reminded that the Qur’an says how “It is not befitting to Allah that he should take unto himself a son” (Maryam 35). To those who argue the interchangeability of the names of God, saying that Allah and Yahweh are the same God, the Bible says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God” (Luke 1.35). The God of the Bible is not the god of the Qur’an. The excellence of Jesus, that he is the Son of God, nullifies the chart’s implied parity between Mohammad and Him. On the right side of the chart it says of Jesus, “Last Prophet in the Line of Isaac,” and, again, inadvertently, the truth is stated. There is a definite covenantal difference between that of the world, to which Islam belongs, and the covenant of promise, to which the church belongs. In the blood of Jesus Christ is the New Covenant, the covenant of promise by grace through faith in him!
May the church repent and forsake all but her Husband and his word. “For it is written, ‘Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband'” (Galatians 4.27).
I know you guys love commenting on the IM conference last week, we have added a new article summarizing it. Please comment on that article from now on, if you’re commenting on the IM conference.
Please do be considerate, and speak about what you know, not perceptions. It is a worthy topic to discuss, and IM certainly is one of the hotter topics on this site. Let us encourage one another, as well as sharpen one another to glorify Christ, and lessen any motive besides that.
Regardless if Carl was right or wrong in his assessment of the i2 Conference on the IM ( in my humble opinion it was not a fiasco, but an anguished plea for biblical thinking and unity ), I’d be curious to know where he got his information since he was not there. I was there. At no time were Insiders called less than brothers, they were never attacked personally or with ad hominems, no speaker dropped the H (heretic bomb) on any IMer, and not once to my knowledge was the discussion led from ignorance of what IM actually proposes and practices. I imagine that between the 15 or so speakers, we’ve read virtually each piece of literature the proponents of IM have published.
Maral, you are welcome. It is very sad. How this deception can be propagated by brothers and sisters in Christ is beyond me. The remedy: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8.34,f.). It is hard to hold on to unbiblical motives when you are holding on to your cross. May the Lord bless you Maral at the deepest level of your need.
1. “Once again you commit the grave sin of judging the motives of another. As we’ve all agreed on this site “judging” is not wrong if you’re trying to discern whether a theology is truly biblical or not – that’s good. But judging someone’s motives, especially when there’s no way you could know their motives, since you don’t know them – is a sin. You do that often. It’s a far worse error of theology then the things you accuse these men of (Common Path Alliance, in this case).”
On the other hand, in Philippians Paul wrote the following:
“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (1.15-18).
When Paul said in verse seventeen, “not sincerely”, he used the word á¼Î³Î½Ï‰Ï‚ which, defined by Bauer, means “not from pure motives” (Bauer 12). The Bible in the context of this passage states plainly that Paul judged motives and that he knew what those motives were on the basis of THE ACTIONS of those to whom he was referring. Paul wrote to Titus, also saying, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work” (1.16) Judging the motives of Common Path Alliance by their actions I find myself on solid, biblical grounds. Now, let’s consider their actions.
At the top of our chart, Abraham’s Two Son’s of Mercy, is written “Abraham, friend of Allah”. The Qur’an, that which originates Muslim belief, makes clear that Allah as a person who enthused the writing of the Qur’an does not agree with the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of the Bible (2 Timothy 3.16). It is not a truthful association to relate Allah to Abraham of the Bible. The Qur’an denies the biblical attestation of the pre-incarnate Son of God who said of Abraham “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (John 8.56-59).
But the Qur’an says of Jesus, “And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah” (5.46). Notice that Jesus said “before Abraham was, I am.” But in the Qur’an above it twice says of Jesus, “…confirming the Law that had come before him….” Again, the Quran: “O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not “Trinity”….” (4.171). How can Allah be a friend of Abraham of the Bible when the Holy Spirit, in the Bible, identified Jesus as God while Allah in the Qur’an identified Jesus as not pre-incarnate and as only an apostle? Lastly, God inspired the following: “‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’–and he was called a friend of God” (James 2.23; Isaiah 41.8). It is of the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham and not Allah that Abraham is friend.
Common Path Alliance with this chart attempts to foist upon the unbiblically minded a terrible deception, an attack on who is really the true God! Under the heading “Plan of Action” (on the C.P.A. website) they say “We seek to catalyze the global movement of God among Muslims and Christians by interfacing with and coordinating the efforts of key individuals and organizations dedicated to this cause. This alliance will provide education, resources, tools and will support communities in the United States and around the world that are focused on the centrality of the life and work of Jesus (Isa) as evidenced in both the Bible and the Qur’an. We can accomplish more together than we can individually.” The global movement of god they represent is not a movement of the true God because it is a movement whose core belief, that the Jesus in the Bible and the Qur’an are the same, disputes the word of the true God. This is heresy. This is a demonic strategy. This is the action by which I rightly judge motives.
In order to get to some of the issues, I’d like to respond to Carl’s first point in his post below:
“1. Once again you commit the grave sin of judging the motives of another…
…You’ve decided that their agenda “of the assimilation of biblical truth for the purpose of promoting an agenda sympathetic with a point of view that is theologically Islamic” is what they’re all about. How do you know that? They don’t say that and would never say that.”
First of all, I don’t see how Douglas’ statement judges anyone’s motives. Douglas said CPA is promoting an agenda, and describes that agenda as being sympathetic with a theologically Islamic point of view, and you say he’s committing a “grave sin”. Sounds a bit judgmental to me (but who am I to judge, hehe). (As an aside I’d like to point out that any time we read someone else’s thoughts, we cannot help but speculate about what intentions lie behind them. Let’s just try to stick to the issues.)
Secondly, it puzzles me that you ask, “How do you know that (is what they’re all about)?”. Did you read the first paragraph, from which you quoted Douglas? He based that analysis off of CPA’s MISSION STATEMENT. A mission statement is, in fact, a “what we are all about” statement. Two sentences before, Douglas writes:
“Their mission statement reads, ‘We exist to unite people, Who have been divided by religion, By seeking our common path to God.’ ”
Based on their mission statement, it’s not a far cry to say that their viewpoint is “sympathetic with a point of view that is theologically Islamic.” Actually, that’s mild. It’s not just “sympathetic”, but inclusive of Islamic theology. Muslims, Christians, Common Path. That’s the whole idea- combining Islam and Christianity into one path to God. Am I way off course here?
It’s not just their mission statement, it’s their whole website. But this discussion is about the “Abraham’s Two Sons of Mercy” chart. Isn’t it enough just to point out that the chart acknowledges Muhammad as a legitimate prophet? Not to mention that it groups Muhammad with “Isa” (Qur’anic name for Jesus), as “The Last and Greatest Prophets of Their Nations”??? Do I really have to be so rude as to point out the difference between these two? I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t want to insult anyone, but there is no comparison. Honestly, such a comparison is an insult to Jesus. Please let’s not forget who Jesus is. He is NOT just a prophet, even the greatest prophet of a single nation.
He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords of all nations, and of the universe. He has no equal.
We should express this truth with utmost love. Love does not compromise the truth. Recognizing or respecting a fake prophetic line (of one prophet) is not love. Let no one think that I’m judging their motives- it’s clear they want to make Muslims feel respected. But this is not respect, it’s pandering. Let’s respect people by giving them the truth about who Jesus is- without insulting anyone, but also without trying to appease anyone by recognizing falsehood as truth.
Dear Douglas, thank you for exposing the errors. What makes me sad is them, big mission orgs and their never ending conferences run with big money.
I would like to resonate with the words of Rev. Madany above, with concern about the i2 Ministries Conference. This is my letter of concern that I wrote to the organizer, Dr. Joshua Lingel:
I am not sure if you are aware that on October 6, a gentleman wrote the following comment at the end of his reply to the post “The Importance of Covenant.” He stated, “The recent fiasco that was the i2 Conference at Liberty highlighted the same issues. People speaking from ignorance about what the “others” believe.” Since you and I were there, I wonder if it would not be correct to ask this person, who was not in attendance the following questions:
1. What part of fiasco is a presentation by a person saved out of the darkness of Islam and who observed in his own life the danger of compromise with the world after he was saved? You recall how he gave a talk on how IM robs ex-Muslims of the gift of suffering, and thoroughly supported it with scripture
2. What part of fiasco is a presentation by a person who prefers to be called a Christian of Muslim background as he wants to highlight that he came out of a system of darkness into the light, and has turned from dead idols to the living God? His Christology was solid and his ecclesiology all the more.
3. What part of fiasco is the presentation by a Bengali man who was bribed to declare himself a Muslim, while being a secret follower of Jesus as part of the promotion of the insider movement. He saw the duplicity and the compromise and left. What part of fiasco is his great love for the bride of Christ, i.e. the church?
4. What part of fiasco is the observation of the seductive and deceptive spirit of Islam? Observations of such were made by ex-Muslims and missionaries alike, in geographical areas throughout the world. They genuinely worried due to their love for Christ and his church about the possibilities of spiritual deception and apostasy.
5. What part of fiasco is the exegesis of I Cor 9 of “being a Jew…..” with a close look at the context of the passage in the larger book, a close look at the surrounding chapters, within the life and ministry philosophy of Paul? I guess if this gentleman does not like solid Biblical hermeneutics and the resultant conclusions, then the term “fiasco” is a great way to dismiss this talk. I can’t help but wonder if he wants his cake and to eat it to?
6. What part of fiasco is someone giving a presentation from the vantage point of 37 years of experience in ministry, including watching the rise of various insider practitioners in his country of labor? How can one so easily dismiss his extensive knowledge of the scriptures, of the social sciences and of Islam with such broad brush strokes? Where is the fiasco?
7. What part of fiasco is the presentation on kingdom circles which by a close reading of the Biblical text shows that IM is using a model that is highly suspect? ….”Oh we never meant it that way, or you misunderstood their intentions, or you can’t draw conclusions from a diagram” were the predictable stock responses. Maybe the stock responses are the fiasco.
8. What part of fiasco is a general survey of the use of scripture by insiders, showing that the common modus operandi is a resort of proof texting and imposing a meaning on the text? I thought this was being a good Berean to discern this kind of manipulation. Maybe this gentleman thinks otherwise.
9. What part of a fiasco is a presentation that gives a thorough exposition of the commonalities in expression and the critical differences between the Qur’anic Christ and the Biblical Christ with the conclusion that the Qur’anic one is a different Jesus? Like the presenter I would sure not want to be caught worshipping “another Jesus” than the real one. That would be a fiasco.
10. What kind of fiasco do you see in a line by line comparison between the religion of Islam and Mormonism? These are historical facts demonstrating that common to both religions are the Devil’s deceptions and that he is not overly creative.
11. What kind of fiasco do you observe in a first hand account of the duplicity at the local church level concerning the support of Insider missionaries? Maybe the gentleman is angry because some churches are seeing the facts and are beginning to withhold some support.
12. What kind of fiasco do you observe in a first hand account by an Arabic speaker of the clever elimination of the sonship of Christ and the Fatherhood of God in a Muslim-friendly translation? The presenter was right angry, and I was grateful for his stance for righteousness and more worried about offending God’s sensitivities than human ones.
13. What kind of fiasco do you observe in a listing of five frustrations that all missionaries working in the Muslim world have encountered? The presenter agreed that a one-stop shop solution to them would make life easy, albeit non-Biblical.
14. What kind of fiasco do you observe in wise counsel given by presenters not to label all IM’rs with the same brush as it was observed that some have dipped their toes into the water, others or up to the waist and others over their head? What kind of fiasco do you see as one presenter exhorted the audience about the danger of the church of Ephesus in Rev. 2 who were great at hunting false apostles, but were chastised for losing their first love? What kind of fiasco do you see in an admission of pain by those who have experienced the labels of IM that declare them now to be Muslim haters, wicked and the like?
15. What kind of fiasco do you observe in the fact that a critical question was asked to the attendees, “by whose power, and for whose glory?” This was not directed only at IM, but also at the attendees. Thus the charge that the attendees had a “beyond reproach” disposition is totally unfounded.
16. What kind of fiasco do you observe that a sub-theme of the conference was to “exalt His name among the nations?” This encouragement extended to message, methodology and motivation.
17. What fiasco do you see in having world-class authorities on Islam, recognized in the secular world as well, for giving their well-thought through perspectives?
18. What fiasco do you observe in a group of academics, reputable and careful thinkers, many who are fruitful practitioners wrestling with how to have a God-honoring, entire Scripture adhering—that includes Old Testament teachings on idolatry, missiology in outreach to Muslims that will have results that will endure for generations and not just a flash in the pan?
19. What fiasco do you observe in a solid Christology, and a solid ecclesiology drawn from the Scriptures along with the admonition to beware of false teachers?
20. What fiasco do you know about that draws important conclusions even from the secular world of social sciences that would caution against a divorce between form and meaning as it is applied to remaining inside Islam?
It is obvious that this gentleman’s statement comes from someone who neither attended a Common Ground presentation, nor the i2 ministries Conference. I wonder if he has done the same extensive readings that many of the presenters have done in Insider literature? Their citations were extensive as was their knowledge by observation of IM and its workings along in-depth knowledge of the Scripture, church history, the social sciences and the doctrines and history of Islam. Sadly, the fiasco that he speaks about is how he can so ignorantly speak so confidently about others’ ignorance.
Joshua, is it out of line to ask this gentleman for an apology? He claims to be all things to all people, and I wonder if he could humble himself before God and those he has insulted.
(I was glad that his comment came out, as it did demonstrate what was really in his heart.)
Do pray for me Joshua, as I fear my heart is getting hard and cynical as I expect him to have some kind of a slippery and evasive response.
PS. I was able to lay out the costs of discipleship to a Muslim enquirer last week. He is counting the cost. As I laid out the potential of temporary suffering in light of the wealth of his inheritance in Christ, the work that Christ did on his behalf, and the potential of departing from the slavery of Islam, I saw his heart soften. It was an act of God
You are right. I was hasty and did exactly what I’m saying Douglas did in his article. Please forgive me. I’ve just heard such mean-spirited comments come from that gathering. But it’s no reason for me to attack back. I am sorry.
But please, Douglas, or others – don’t simply ignore my critique of this article. I’d like to see clear and reasoned responses – not just Douglas’s usual “God have mercy on the heretics” line, but a reasonable and clear answer. So far I’m not seeing that here….
Back to the issues….
I am thoroughly shocked by the hasty judgment of Carl Medearis re the i2 conference at Liberty University. Are these words an example of the spirit that pervades missionaries engaged in missions to Muslims?! To state, only a few days after the conference was over, that “The recent fiasco that was the i2 Conference at Liberty highlighted the same issues. People speaking from ignorance about what the “others” believe.”
As someone who spent 36 years of my life reaching the Arab world through daily broadcasting of the gospel, correspondence with thousands of Muslim listeners, I am saddened by this spirit that manifests no love or respect for those who uphold the historic missionary approach from St John of Damascus, Raymond Lull, J. W. Sweetman, Samuel Zwemer, and William Temple Gairndner. How many of these “nouveau” missiologists and advocates of “quick fix” methods are reading the writings of reformsit Muslim intellectuals, to learn what is being discussed today, from Rabat in the Maghreb all the wauy to Kuwait in the Mashreq?
Recently, in the Moroccan intellecutal, Sa’eed Nasheed’s attempt to explain the apostasy of the Saudi cleric, Abdallah al-Quseimi wrote:
“al-Quseimi believed ‘that Islam had a penchant for negativity’ which contributed to his apostasy… He boldly asserts that this is obvious in the very first word of the creed: ‘La Ilaha illa’l Allah, Muhammad rasool Allah. No God but Allah, Muhammad is Apostle of Allah.’ He traced this negativity to ‘Islam’s rebellion against all attempts to posit a likeness or similarity between the Creator and his creatures, as well as all aspects of love, and immanence.'”
As Christians we should learn what’s preoccupying Muslim thinkers in our globalized world fearlessly expressing themselves thanks to the Internet. Many a Muslim today is unhappy with the Islamic abstraction of God as the ‘wholly other”. While Islam asserts that man can know the will of God, but he cannot know him as a person.Allah remains the unknown Supreme Being. He is “bila tashbeeh,” (he cannot be similar to, or likened, to anyone). Search as you might in the Suras of the Qur’an, and you will find anything that approximates Genesis 1:26a “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…'”
To ignore the ferment going on in the Arab-Muslim world, and approach missions from a purely Westernized worldview, is wrong.
Thank you very much for the encouragement! The affirmation is a blessing and the poem on the whole brought a BIG smile to my face. Thanks again!
You said the following: “Since the Common Path Alliance is made up of both Christians and Muslims, it makes sense that both views are represented.”
The chart does not represent ‘both’ views. It presents a conflated idea that Christians and Muslims are covenantally related through Abraham, but biblically we are not. Their result is the subsumption of the one into the other, the one no longer itself that has become a subordinate element in the other. This approach appeals to the IM heterodoxy among missions, and sadly, it may be convincing to an average Muslim or Christian, but its result is a mongrelized faith. The ultimate result is the theological subsumption of Jesus. If you need context for understanding that in fact C.P.A. interpolates Christianity using Qur’anic authority, go to their website and see for yourself.
C.P.A. syncretizes the Bible in favor of the Qur’an and Islam. May God have mercy on Christians committing such adultery against Christ.
Inspired by the Irish, A couple of limericks to summarize Douglas’ fine article.
There once was Godly painter
Whose faith grew anything but fainter
He loved the King of the unique path
And encountered pluralism’s wrath
This Godly painter
There once were men from nod
Who thought Islam’s Allah was a very fine God
Smooth words of fine prose
Wowed the uninformed “those”
These men from nod
It looks to me that all they are trying to do is explain the significance of Isaac and Ishmael from the perspectives of both faiths. Since the Common Path Alliance is made up of both Christians and Muslims, it makes sense that both views are represented. So to say that Christians working with the Common Path Alliance are putting Jesus on the same level as Muhammad is pure speculation.
The issue of what to do with Muslims that love Jesus but don’t want to convert to the religion called Christianity is a complex one, perhaps on the level of what the first century Church faced when Gentiles wanted to follow Jesus without becoming Jewish. I’m not saying I have all the answers on this question, and judging from what Carl has written, I don’t think he would claim to have all the answers either.
This post, and this site in general, continue to be extremely helpful to me. You are refining my thinking and helping me understand those who are angrily against the C-5 and Insider Movement strategies. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m beginning to “advertise” for you and get others to come and see how you think and where that thinking comes from.
Douglas, I agree with much of what you say here. I’m a Reformed Covenant guy, so I like the covenantal and kingdom language you use.
But there are a few things that concern me. I hope you don’t mind if I point those out:
1. Once again you commit the grave sin of judging the motives of another. As we’ve all agreed on this site “judging” is not wrong if you’re trying to discern whether a theology is truly biblical or not – that’s good. But judging someone’s motives, especially when there’s no way you could know their motives, since you don’t know them – is a sin. You do that often. It’s a far worse error of theology then the things you accuse these men of (Common Path Alliance, in this case).
You’ve decided that their agenda “of the assimilation of biblical truth for the purpose of promoting an agenda sympathetic with a point of view that is theologically Islamic” is what they’re all about. How do you know that? They don’t say that and would never say that.
You go on to say that their “chart illustrates a false parity between Mohammad and Jesus.” I don’t see that at all. And I would be shocked if any of them would agree that they think Jesus and Muhammad are equal. (You might try something new and ask them what they think).
There are at least two other times in your article where you suggest what you think they’re saying….and you may be right, I don’t know. But I doubt it. And since you don’t know the ones you are accusing of such grave heresy, I just find it odd that you’re so emphatic about their motives. (Not their theology, their motives). As if they’re purposely trying to trick someone.
I’m not even sure (this is an aside) who you and the others here think the IM folks are tricking. Are they tricking the Muslims? Themselves? You? Who? Not sure that’s ever been clear to me – who YOU think are the subjects of their sneaky ways.
2. Again, you set yourself up as the one who reads the scriptures correctly and are defining what is heresy and what is truth. I wish it could be so simple. For sure I think you should TRY to do that, just don’t be so sure you’re actually right!
Your opening paragraph says “So, The following is my refutation of error in the church today. (1 John 4.4-6.” So you’re convinced these “others” are “from the world” and you are “from God.” Maybe.
I’m all for being assured of how you read the scriptures. But the lenses with which you read them are all important. There is no such thing as reading the bible in a pure state. We all do our best and we all assume that we are reading it as correctly as we can. So saying things like “It’s my best understanding of these verses that….” That would be fair. But “I’m now revealing error and teaching truth” is arrogant at best.
3. You make the same mistake that you accuse the others of making – even using all the same scriptures – just doing it from the other angle.
Most of your article is simply cutting and pasting verses out of your bible program. We would all agree that those verses have authority – that they are God’s words. And I totally agree with the point that those passages make. I just don’t agree with all you’re trying to draw out of them.
It seems you’re trying to suggest that the Common Path guys are using Ishmael as a co-inheritor of the Covenant. Which I don’t see them doing at all. I can’t imagine that anyone (for sure not myself or any C-5 or IM guys I know) are thinking that Ishmael is equal to Isaac in that Covenantal promise that is fulfilled in the Seed of Abraham, Christ. So it’s a total straw man. Once again assuming things no one is saying.
What I would be saying about Ishmael (don’t know what Common Path or anyone else would be saying) is this – that there was a very clear and powerful promise to him from God. Isaac and Ishmael must have stayed friends as they came together to bury their father when he died – which would have been within a day’s journey at most. And that just because Ishmael wasn’t the line that Jesus came from, does NOT give us any right to demonize him or his descendants, which this article does.
4. The insistence that Allah is not God or the Allah of the Qur’an is not the Yahwey of the Bible is tiresome and perhaps the silliest of all these arguments. You say, “Reader, be reminded that the Qur’an says how “It is not befitting to Allah that he should take unto himself a son” (Maryam 35). To those who argue the interchangeability of the names of God, saying that Allah and Yahweh are the same God, the Bible says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God” (Luke 1.35). The God of the Bible is not the god of the Qur’an.”
To use the Qur’anic verse that God should not have a son as a defense point is simply a naive misunderstanding of what all Muslims think. Surely you are aware that Muslims think that we think God had sex with Mary and had a baby boy. Do you think that? I’m guessing you would then actually agree with all Muslims and cry “heresy.” Surely God would not have a baby boy in that way. So to use THAT as part of your reasoning as to why the “two gods” are different….?
And then refute it with Luke 1:35? It’s apples and oranges. it’s like me saying “I feel gay today” (meaning I’m happy) and then you say “Carl we believe homosexuality is a sin.” What!?
You really need to move on beyond that “their are two gods” thing because that doesn’t communicate to anyone anywhere except those who are angry at Muslims and want to be sure their not worshipping “our” God (as if he’s “ours” anyway). As I’ve said over and over, and it’s very clear and very simple if – there is only one true God. His name in Arabic is Allah. He is the God that people worship who refer to themselves as Christians, Muslims and Jews. But most of the people who call themselves by all three of those names are not worshipping him effectively because they don’t know Christ. (Including most of the world who are called “Christian” who also don’t actually know Jesus). Why is that so hard to understand, unless you simply refuse to.
5. Finally you state, “There is a definite covenantal difference between that of the world, to which Islam belongs, and the covenant of promise, to which the church belongs. In the blood of Jesus Christ is the New Covenant, the covenant of promise by grace through faith in him!”
It’s a statement full of truth – since we would all agree to it – but without a point. You finish with this as if it’s the big and final Coup de Truth. And by doing so you suggest (once again, without understanding and without actually knowing) that the Common Path folks think that the two are one. That somehow the new covenant we have in Christ is also found in Islam and the world. Who thinks that? Who has said that? That’s called Universalism.
What you have done, is misread their (and others, including my) statements and drawn false conclusions.
The recent fiasco that was the i2 Conference at Liberty highlighted the same issues. People speaking from ignorance about what the “others” believe. Anyone who wants a straight up debate with me about biblical truth and accuracy, I would be ready at any time. Followed by observing lasting fruit.
If you want to be critical of the IM or C-5 folks, which is totally fair, and I’ve been critical myself – then at least understand what they’re saying and what they are attempting to do before you accuse their hearts of bad motives.
I could not believe it when I began to take some serious time and really read through what the Common Path Alliance Group was posting/ teaching. This twist of fundamental doctrines is so dangerous especially in these days. It strikes me that in our recent politically correct culture that embracing Islam is so prevalent and here the Church is not only embracing this people but claiming they are in the Kingdom, are one of us so to speak. Thank you Douglas for such a thorough work. I am very interested in what the Insider Movement folks will say about your assessment.