<a href="https://biblicalmissiology.org/author/jmorton/" target="_self">Jeff Morton</a>

Jeff Morton

Jeff Morton / Bunyan Towery (M.Div. and D.Miss., Biola) is pastor of discipleship, Hillside Baptist Church, Dickinson, ND. He is author of " Two Messiahs," "Insider Movements: Biblically Incredible or Incredibly Brilliant?" and co-editor of "Chrislam: How Missionaries are Promoting an Islamized Gospel."

12 Comments

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    Hi All, well, this is a vigorous string of comments here! I just wanted to mention a short article I wrote on the early origins of IM thought, which some of you may find interesting. It is historical in nature, going back to the 1938 Riggs’ Report:

    http://tinyurl.com/bqczrp8

    Peace.

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    Hi Jeff,

    Am following this discussion to some extent and have to say that I DID find your article helpful.

    As I have followed and interacted with the IM issue over the past two years, it seems that one very important determining factor (in terms of receptivity to/embrace of IM) is what one really believes about Islam and about the church. It seems that certain affirmations, while important, do not get to the heart of what people actually believe. For example, it is very possible for people to deny the prophethood of Muhammad but believe that Islam, properly understood, is essentially a deficient form of Christianity.

    What is at heart here is not only a set of assumptions or convictions concerning Islam but a certain understanding of “Kingdom” and “church.” All of this ties into the Kingdom Circles idea used by Becky Lewis, the Common Path Alliance, and others.

    Hang in there…

    David

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    When I wrote the article I didn’t quite expect the response I’ve gotten. Two proponents of IM have agreed with me and a vocal opponent of IM thought I sterilized the issue by removing the importance of the Bible and making it a matter of intellectual issues (I’m still struggling with understanding exactly what he meant; I guess I’m not as intellectual as he may have thought).

    So rather than respond point by point to any comments, let me simply speak to why I wrote the article and created the graph.

    My purpose for this paper was clarity. I also stated I expected criticism from both sides. Allow me to eat crow. Apparently I have neither clarified the issues nor have I received criticism from both sides!

    I’m chuckling here. It is embarrassing, to be sure, to be completely wrong and then have to admit it. I’m doing that here. It is also a matter of amusement to me because my ego is less sensitive than even I thought it was.

    Again, for the sake of clarity: I apologize for muddying the waters. I apologize for getting it wrong. Ironically, I am still convinced the major issues in our disagreement is how we view Islam (theologically and sociologically) and the gospel (how and what we preach).

    Nevertheless, I admit I utterly failed in making things more clear. Hope that’s clear☺

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    Hi Jeff,
    I am glad that you repeatedly state that these polar opposites are not representative of actual people.

    Let me make clear (since you interpret my position) that I think Islam is every bit as demonic as any worldview or religion that promises salvation apart from Christ.

    Having grown up in a Christo-pagan tribe in Central America I am under no delusion about what happens when people adopt a facade of Christianity (C1-type Catholicism in “my” valley) but have little or no understanding of the Gospel. My concern is that we do not deliver a corrupted understanding of the Gospel, that promises salvation through adopting Christianity (whether Catholic or Protestant) at the expense of an unadulterated allegiance to Jesus Christ.

    As such, I take the position I do out of kerygmatic concerns, not pragmatic, and out of pessimism about Islam but a great optimism about the power of the Gospel to bring light, whether in cannibalistic tribes, Christo-pagan religions, the Greek pantheon, or our own mammon-steeped American culture (without having to remove believers from their families or community context).

    So I guess by your graph I am more of a “Historical” or “Traditional” person, since my own parents and other missionaries have been convinced of the same for generations, as they have gone into areas with equally demonic and entrenched religions (even if they were not “global” religions). I believe that the Gospel has not lost its power to penetrate, because I have seen it transform equally difficult situations and societies.

    Thanks!
    Rebecca Lewis

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    Thanks Salaam. I checked the site you recommended and it looks like common sense to me! Although my essay is not meant to stand as a corrective or piece of persuasion but of clarification, the other chart does help us keep a proper perspective. I like the notion that the smaller our area of “We gotta fix this” the greater our effectiveness.
    Thanks.

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    Thank you Jeff for the post. Your gridwork reminded me of a post on the Justin Taylor blog that also has a couple of axis, and it is called “When Is an Issue Important Enough to Correct Someone?” The grid comes from a recent book called “Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God”

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/02/15/when-is-an-issue-important-enough-to-correct-someone/?comments#comments

    I wonder, Douglas if this grid would also weigh in on your discussion with Jeff?

    Shalom

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    Jeff,

    Having reread your reply to me, I have to ask: do you believe you have clarified the issue? You have stated with precision an intellectual description as you see it. That does not clarify the issue. It does seem to have sterilized the issue of its biblical relevance. From my point of view, biblical relevance is the issue, not an objectification of intellectual divergences. Ultimately, the willingness to syncretize Scripture is without question a spiritual issue that rests squarely within the matter of the headship of Christ and his word. You have it backwards. The intellectual has a defacto spiritual predisposition. To write as you have without the salience of the supremacy of God’s word and our obligation to accord ourselves with it as fundamental to the issue makes the issue as you describe it less than on point. The result is the tacit validation of spiritual waywardness like that of those whose waywardness is well documented on this website. Syncretism is what you have coddled in the upshot of your article.

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    Good Morning from Rwanda Jeff.

    Your reply brings up several things but within the constraints of this morning’s time I’ll say, it also could be like the message has been shot by the messenger, and that is not to my liking.

    Later

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    Doug, it’s pretty hard to offend me; it would take a hammer – several times.

    I disagree that clarifying the issues is equivalent to tacit validation. That’s like saying, “I understand you are tired” to a marathon runner is equivalent to saying, “I believe you did the right thing running the marathon.” The former is an observation; the latter a moral judgment. Certainly there’s a difference.

    So, what should be argued is whether or not my two poles accurately reflect the theological and missiological divide between the insider movements and the Historical perspective. If they do, great; clarity is the goal after all. But if they are inadequate, fine; what are the issues at hand?

    Otherwise, it’s like shooting the messenger because the message is not to one’s liking.

  10. Avatar

    Jeff,

    This post seems more interested in collegiality at all costs than the unifying effect of the truth. The upshot of your article (from my point of view) is the tacit validation of perspectives far from biblical. Please forgive the strength of my criticism but it is an expression of what I believe your article inadvertently facilitates which I think is akin to what the Bible says here:

    “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John v.v. 9-11).

    The Docetic teaching in the mind of the apostle was an assault on salvation’s filial component of the Father and the incarnate Son. Those whose practical theology is no less destructive, who are quite eager to fore go the truth preferring instead to be “nuanced” and “generous with Jesus” find validation in your piece.

    Again, please forgive the strength of my objection. It is meant to broaden the context of this discussion to provide an element of discomfort for those who might derive from it a false sense of validation.

  11. Avatar

    Echo Carl Medearis

    Jeff Morton wrote:

    “The polar opposites…are found in few, if any, missionaries.”

    Could this be because the “moderates” are so moderate they prefer to do their work and stay out of quibbles like this? :)

  12. Avatar

    Jeff

    This is one of the clearest expositions of “both sides” I’ve seen. Thanks for your work and, at least, attempting to remain unbiased as a good journalist would do. Well done!
    carl

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