by Editor | Aug 1, 2011
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Yes, I agree the life of Muhammad as recorded in Muslim traditions is troubling. However, these messianic reform movements generally regard the hadith tradition, and the extant biographies of Muhammad as suspect. I think we would have to agree that it is almost impossible to know the real historical Muhammad. I have been reading a book called Quranic Geography which provides compelling evidence that the city of Mecca did not even exist in Muhammad’s time. There is also emerging evidence that the Quran itself has evolved over the centuries. The argument that many of these messianic reformers are making is that Islam was much closer to Christianity in terms of orthodoxy and orthopraxy (confession and practice) than it is now, and originated as a contextualized offshoot of messianic faith in Jesus. I think it is fair to say that early Islam did not view itself as a new religion, but as a community of those in submission to God. If that is the pure essence of what Islam is then it makes sense that a Christ-centered transformation of that concept (ie, a community in submission to God) is possible.
I have yet to meet a Muslim who has misunderstood the relationship between Zayd son of Mohammad and Mohammad despite the use of the word ‘ibn.’ Every Muslim knows that Zayd was Mohummad’s adopted son and not his biological son.
While C5 missiologists will tell you that Muslim’s do not use the word ‘ibn’ to refer to their adopted sons because it has a “biological” connotation (a claim rejected by every native Arabic speaker with whom I have discussed this issue), a much better understanding about why Muslims do not adopt sons can be found by studying the history of Zayd, Mohummad, and Zayd’s wife and the resulting Islamic law that developed as a result.
I think there is a big difference between Luther and the movement that started the Reformation, and what’s going on in Insider Movements. First, Luther never did what he did to break from the Church. In fact, it’s called the ‘Reformation’ for a reason, to reform the church. Luther never considered the universal church as being split. The other reformers who followed Luther didn’t either. They saw unity of the Universal ‘Catholic’ Church as vital. They may have disagreed who was in the Universal Catholic Church, but they didn’t argue there was a universal catholic church.
The Insiders though do not see their identity in the universal Church. They see their identity in Islam. They do not consider born-again christians as their family. They see other Muslims as family.
If you see Insider Movements as Reform Movements, then, how can you reform Islam? Reform to what? Islam is not based in the Bible. I mean, really, anyone with an understanding of Islam understands that the Koran and Muhammad is the core Islam, and that the Koran, and Muhammad who created it is not Biblically-based. So there is no way to reform Islam back to truth, except, to ditch Islam and go to Truth. Muhammad wasn’t a prophet. He wasn’t a believer. He wasn’t saved. Muhammad was a false prophet. He was an Anti-Christ. Anyone who says otherwise is being disingenuous with history and the facts.
Finally, Christianity as being Western is flat out a misperception and wrong. The Church is global. In fact, more believers in the non-Western world than not. Christianity is a very middle eastern religion, that the West has had to grow accustomed to. The Bible, is a very Jewish, and middle east mind-set book.
Dear Dave Taylor,
Thank you for your comment. You bring up interesting questions.
Here are some thoughts to ponder:
1. Luther called for a return to the Bible and preached “Sola Scriptura” because the church became contaminated by Culture and Traditions.
We must not call for reform of neither Judaism nor Islam. We are calling the Insider Movement to return to Biblical authority.
2. Examining the origins of Islam? How far back do you want to go? To the days when Muhammad was killing Jews and Christians and all those who backslid from Islam? I am sure you are aware of the wars of Radda (fighting against those who left Islam). We are not called to return to the origin of any religion or cult? We are called to return to Jesus alone, and him crucified contrary to what Muhammad preached and Muslims believe. And do not tell me that he believed Jesus died when the Quran clearly says “they did not crucify him.”
3. No! Christianity is not a western expression of the way. Christianity is multi-cultural and can be expressed in various contexts PROVIDED the foundational doctrines are preserved. We do not object to culture per se, but to theological compromise.
So friend, why don’t you just forget about Islam and Judaism and join us in preaching Jesus alone.
Thanks for visiting,
I find this comment interesting: “They separate themselves from Christians, severing the body of Christ.” Do you think Martin Luther made a mistake with the reformation? This is what the Catholic church accused the protestants of, so I’m wondering where you stand on this issue? Would you have preferred that Martin Luther start an “insider movement” within Catholicism? It is true that Wesley did this with great effectiveness within the Anglican church. I guess the issue is “Will a group tolerate a reform movement within it or not?” Orthodox Judaism in America has made a decision to reject the messianic Jewish movement, and has declared that anyone who believes Jesus is the messiah is an apostate. That’s worse than Islam! Yet I know of insiders who are members of Orthodox Jewish communities who believe in Jesus and they are seeking to influence the community slowly over time. I think we should support and encourage them as best we can, though it is questionable how viable such a movement can be within such hostility. From what I have observed of messianic Muslim reform movements they are calling Islam back to its origins, which they believe are rooted in the Bible. For them, Christianity is a Western expression of “the way” which Jesus founded in the first century and Islam is an Eastern expression. If that is true, than we should give more thoughtful examination to those early years of Islamic development before we rush to judgment about the validity of Islamic reform movements centered on Jesus. These reformers may very well be calling Islam back to its truest self just as Luther was with Christianity and the Protestant reformation.
I think there are some large differences between Messianic Jews and what has been coined as ‘Messianic Muslims’ and ultimately you are comparing apples to oranges.
Judaism is a revealed religion. In other words, the Torah, Psalms, Histories, and Prophets (old Testament of Christians) of Judaism are all truth. The Messiah is the out-coming of Judaism, and Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. In other words, Christianity is Judaism with the fulfillment of the law, not removal of the law.
Islam is not a revealed religion. If you think it is, then you have some foundational theological issues that this post cannot involve itself with.
Islam is founded in deceit, and lies. While there is of course some ‘truth’ in it, there is truth in all false religions, Buddism, Hinduism, Mormonism, etc… Some truth doesn’t make it true. Do not forget, Satan himself used scripture to tempt Christ. He has a way with twisting and misusing words. We must understand that some truth also means some lies, and the father of all lies is the devil. So to have a ‘Messianic’ Muslim would be a person who believes in an Islamic concept of ‘Messiah’ which is clothed in lies crated by the devil. Even if they get a somewhat better form of the ‘Messiah’, the adornment of Islam still holds deceit and lies. If you remove all the lies (Prophethood of Muhammad, Koran is a Holy Book, Rituals of Islam, Concept that Works lead to salvation, etc… ) then it’s not Islam anymore.
However, for Messianic Jews, the New testament fulfills the law, that gives meaning to all of the prophets, rituals, etc… and focuses on faith that leads to salvation, and not the works like the hypocrites did.
Ultimately, ‘Messianic Jews’ and ‘Messianic Muslims’ are apples and oranges and cannot be compared. Messianic Jews also see themselves as part of the global church, with Christians. They do not deny this. I have friends that are messianic Jews. However, Messianic Muslims see themselves as Muslim and part of the global Islamic Umma. They separate themselves from Christians, severing the body of Christ, that is of course assuming they are part of the body.
In the history section of the Wikipedia article on Insider Movements ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insider_movement ), the following observation is made:
“In the 1960s, for example, numbers of Jews, after significant study, came to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Yet they had no emotional or cultural link to the Christian religion, which was often seen as a part of Christendom, and associated with countries that had historically mistreated Jews. Therefore, when these Jews embraced Jesus as Messiah, many opted to remain within Judaism rather than convert to Christianity.”
It seems to me that the Jewish model of insider movements is one of the oldest in existence today. There is much we can learn about the viability and effectiveness of such movements from studying what has happened in Judaism, both in today’s context as well as in the first century.
I appreciate what Jim says, “A couple things here that are just not accurate. One is that the outsiders are dictating to the local people.” It may be that he does not do this and the people he has observed do not do it. It could also be that he believes reports that this is not done. However, the approach in West Java, Indonesia that began in the 1990s was to teach the “converts” what to say, what to do, etc.
For example, the Navigator organization set up a variation of the five prayer times a day in which the prayers were altered to be “Christianized.” They continued this practice even though advised against it by mature national Christian leaders. In addition, one of their own converts told them that it was a “return to bondage.”
Also there was a large folder circulated that included “Building Ishmaelite Growth Group Congregations,” “Namaz Prayers,” & “Fostering Messianic Kingdom Communities Among Dispersed Muslim Asians in Urban Centres.” I have that in my files. All of this material was oriented toward “training” converts into this model.
The “insider movement” as it has been practiced in Indonesia since 1990 is definitely not an indigenous conception.
This may not match his individual experience, but it is exactly accurate according to the many, many people I have personally spoken to in the same country and other countries with which I am familiar. People were told exactly what to say in terms of being Muslim. They were more than coached. despite the fact that virtually every one of these respondents thought they were really no longer Muslims, they were “educated” into seeing themselves as and stating that they were Muslims. What the man in the recording was saying was that people should not say they are Muslims because they are not. They should not be ashamed to openly identify themselves as Christians because Jesus was not ashamed to identify himself with them. They regard the Muslim label, after conversion, as duplicitous. In this particular country, insiders were indeed persecuted, but for having in their possession a guide that taught them how to “fake” the namaz. In other words, they presented a misleading identity. Muslim background Christians see this as shameful. Even people that indulged in it at the time thought it was shameful. Furthermore, while the name “Christian” may not be the only adequate description of one’s new identity, it does, when you actually consider the biblical background, place you in the same covenantal stream. In other words, your identity has shifted. Your family, village, nation are no longer the principle part of your identity. What this brother understood was that he was no longer a Muslim and that former Muslims need to say so. We must not let the word “Christian” distract us from the core issue of identity. Perhaps there are are other good ways of saying that you are no longer a Muslim but are now part of God’s global family, saved by grace into his visible church. If you find one, use it. Just do not say you are a Muslim any longer.
The only chance of finding truth is to listen rather than talk past each other. A couple things here that are just not accurate. One is that the outsiders are dictating to the local people. On the contrary, the local people are free to experience Christ and respond as they determine – the outsider does not say “you must remain a Muslim” nor does he/she say “you must identify yourself as a Christian and reject your Muslim identity.” We trust the Holy Spirit to work that one out and it very well may be different in different settings with different people. As the Spirit works, we would expect to see transformation of culture and religious practice. But we don’t dictate that from the outside. A second problem is the assertion repeated a few times that the Bible says those who follow Jesus should identify themselves as Christians. Where? It says they “were first called Christians” in Antioch. But nowhere was a new follower instructed to identify as a “Christian”. They were told to receive a new identity “in Christ.” That is a big difference!
Greetings again. I am pained for these brothers who have spoken out on
the video.They have a legitimate beef and need to be listened to. Yet
our correspondent Carl takes their deplorable situation and minimizes
it with his own agenda. That is doubly awful. Where does his loyalties
lie? I love the Body of Christ as it is displayed so gloriously in
every skin tone imaginable–outside of the faith of Islam.
I hope I am wrong, but Carl are you manifesting something of the
Islamic doctrine of Al Wala’ Wal Bara’ often translated as “loyalty
and enmity.” or “love and hate for Allah’s sake”? Thus you seems quite
willing to show loyalty (wala) to so called Muslim followers of Jesus
or others-witness your nice photo with Mr. Hezbollah–and what would
appear to be enmity (bara) by your lack of sincere care for these
brothers in the video along with your willingness to seemingly-whether
for theatrics or not I do not know your heart-disparage the things of
I hope to God I am wrong, but might yours be a case of incremental
I apologize. I honestly don’t recall ever getting that information. Not really like me to laugh about something like that. Perhaps I did, and have forgotten.
Certainly, I would question whether someone is a believer. I do so even here in the US when I meet someone who says they are a believer, but something doesn’t add up just right. Of course I can’t know all things, and sanctification is a process and we all come to the Lord at different places in that process. How can one tell, especially in such a short meeting. One’s faith can generally only be seen over time and by the fruit of the spirit. This is why I’m interested in good studies about this. What someone professes today, doesn’t mean they profess it ten years from now. Generally from my experience, one can tell if someone is saved over a year’s time. Dramatic change always ensues.
However, I have seen one testimony of an IM person talking about an Imam in N africa who “came to the Lord” ten years ago, still leading a mosque, still reading the Koran. Still believes the Shahada, and all things Islamic, and says they believe that Jesus, as a Messiah is a savior. Does that add up? Over ten years that view didn’t correct itself with the help of the Holy Spirit? In my humble opinion, I’d be very concerned about that man’s salvation.
Is this where the Lord wants that man? Believing in any falsehood? Absolutely not. Muhammad isn’t a prophet. Not in any sense. The Koran isn’t the word of God. Coincidences are just that. Truth in a book doesn’t make the book true, nor a guide to truth.
Now hear me, I hold this same standard to people here in the US. If you say you’re a christian, but live like a pagan. Come on, you haven’t encountered Jesus. If you say you’re a christian, but go out preaching Joseph Smith, the great Elohim who rules a planet with his wives, and Satan the brother of Jesus. I’m sorry, but you haven’t met Jesus either.
If you say your a christian, and you are repentant. You don’t live a perfect life, but daily you give it over to Jesus, and daily your life reflects a change that is from within that transforms your beliefs and rubs out lies replacing them with truth, your culture also changes identifying yourself less and less with anything associated with this world, and more and more with your home in heaven, with a character growing to match that of the Risen Lord. A character that seeks out truth, and exposes lies in self and the world with the light of truth. Then, yes, you have met, and walk with Jesus.
I believe you have my email. I sincerely would like to see what you have. Feel free to send me any information again, and I’ll look over it.
I’ve actually listed several before and you just laughed as if they weren’t real people. So while I could give you many such names and how they are loving and following Jesus as much as you or I – and staying fully in the Muslim context – it would do no good as you wouldn’t take it seriously. Your mind is made up.
Carl, I would love that information.
I could give you as many testimonies as you’d want from local Muslim followers of Jesus who would say the opposite. To find the voices who agree with yours and then highlight them isn’t good Biblical Missiology.
I’m going to start calling heresy if you guys don’t get some serious scholarship going here….
Sounds like neocolonialism. The West coming in and forcing the natal people to stay the way they are, rather than giving them the freedom to follow Christ how they see fit. A good article about this is “The Global Zoo” https://biblicalmissiology.org/2010/03/08/the-global-zoo/ Insiders have the arrogance, and frankly a Islamo-Romanticism that makes them think that it is good for the national to remain as they are. We know, that those called to Christ cannot remain the way they are. They are transformed, not transitioned, or remain the same.
I see the Insider Movement/C5 contextualization as having two main idols.
1) Work-centered theology While theologically most Insiders would say this isn’t true, their actions deceive their hearts. They believe that what they do, how they act, their cultural expressions in some way effect how the gospel is accepted, or denied. Thus it is based on their works, not the Holy Spirit of God. I laugh when I hear some of the biggest Insiders are Reformed Theology. They obviously don’t understand Reformed Theology, or have deceived themselves deeply.
2) Culture-Centered Theology Culture-Centered Theology believes that Culture is good, or at worst, neutral. The problem is, that Christ came to transform us into His likeness, into His Holy Kingdom culture. We are no longer Greeks, Jews, Americans, Indians, Turks, Arabs, etc…. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, co-heirs of the Kingdom. Christ is our identity, and absolutely nada, zippo, nothing else. As long as we find our identity in anything else besides Christ, we are not fully following Him. Certainly there is sanctification, but the Insiders promote identity in the culture, they force it, and make it a focus, and in doing so, make their idol, the idol of those they have supposedly ‘led’ to the Lord.
The result of these two erroneous core view-points is a false gospel that is so twisted, that it is a syncretized religion that keeps people in their idols. They have a semblance of Christ, but do not know Him. Their Isa is without the power of attraction to rip them from this world, sewing them into His side, and making them His. They are lovers of this world and their own work, not lovers of God who calls us into a new life, to forsake everything, reject all earthly things for the riches of His Kingdom. We as real believers are called to be separate from this world, to be above the normal human classifications, yet to be in it to display the uniqueness and power of Christ to transform our lives, to give us a new identity in Him.
This is not good. It has the look and feel of some kind of colonialism all over again. What country is this in? Or maybe it is not stated for security reasons?
I pray these believers might be strong. They seem to know their theology better than their “foreign handlers” or “gurus” or whatever they are called.
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