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Complete Sfm October 2009

Complete Sfm October 2009

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Complete issue of St Francis Magazine, Oct 2009, Volume 5:5.
Complete issue of St Francis Magazine, Oct 2009, Volume 5:5.

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St Francis Magazine 5:5 (October 2009

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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
This issue of St Francis Magazine is, again, on the Insider Movement issue. We got some passionate responses to our last issue (August 2009) on that topic! Did we touch a raw nerve? In the present issue, we welcome Mazhar Mallouhi and the Rev. Edward Ayub as new writers. Both are followers of Jesus Christ from a Muslim background, but they have very different views on the issue of Insider Movement. They certainly share a passion for Christ – and for the theme they discuss! I am sure the next issue, in December will contain more on Insider Movements but the major theme in December will be about recruitment of missionaries for the Arab World. We already have some excellent articles on that topic; if you have an interest in this topic of recruitment, and you think you have something to contribute, please contact us. Rev. Dr. John Stringer

St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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COMMENTS ON THE INSIDER MOVEMENT
BY MAZHAR MALLOUHI 1 Introduction
A recent book, which is essentially a biographical account of my spiritual journey, characterizes me as a “Muslim follower of Jesus”, a term which I have often used to describe myself.1 I am certainly not the first or the only person to describe themselves this way, but because of the high profile of the book, the high profile of the Bible translation projects I am involved with, and my long term involvement with missions, I am among those targeted by detractors of the Insider Movement. Since I have never actually publicly commented on this movement (and just realized I am part of it!) I thought it would be appropriate to do so. An “insider” believer is someone, like me, who comes from a family and country that is Muslim and chooses to maintain their culture after being irretrievably changed by the transforming power of our Lord. Admittedly, my description of an insider is overly simplistic, and it is not my intention to assert that all those who don’t claim to be insiders have abandoned all aspects of their culture. Nevertheless, I would like to comment on what I have seen among believers in Christ who come from a Muslim background.

2 Cultural chasm with western Christianity
I don’t think that most armchair practitioners (that is, interested people who don’t actually live in the Muslim world) realize how many unnecessary and harmful cultural changes can be prescribed
1

Paul Gordon-Chandler, Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road: Exploring a New Path Between Two Faiths (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefied, 2008). St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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when Muslims become cultural Christians. It is more severe than in any other context. These changes have nothing to do with the requirements of Kingdom living, but are simply cultural. The wellknown evangelical saying, "Being born in a garage doesn't make you a car, and being born in a Christian family/country doesn't make you a Christian", is not something with which Muslim people agree. Being born in a Muslim family does automatically make you a Muslim and part of the Muslim community. I am born a Muslim, not a Hindu nor a Christian nor a Jew. Muslims need never publicly or personally appropriate faith as is expected in the Christian tradition of baptism or confirmation; on the contrary, they must take decisive action if they want to remove themselves from the community. What defines a Muslim follower of Jesus has nothing to do with whether they read the Qur’an, where or how they pray, or what they think of Muhammad. Insiders can be defined as those who affirm that the circumstances into which they were born were ordained by God and played a part in their personal salvation story. They do not see that faith in Jesus as Lord requires them to automatically renounce all they previously learnt about God, or to denounce their culture, community and family as evil. There are actually very few ways to publicly reject my community, but one sure way is to publically embrace Western anti-Muslim politics, polytheism and idolatry, which in Muslim understanding is what people do when they convert to Christianity. Westerners typically have inherited dualistic Greek thinking about religious and secular life, whereas Muslims do not usually think in this way. So for Muslims all of life is spiritual, including family relationships and matters from daily life, ranging from eating meals together to worshipping together. So to attempt to differentiate between religious and secular culture is from the beginning a non-Muslim way of thinking. More importantly, it is a nonbiblical way of thinking. In a biblical worldview, life is viewed more holistically. In this particular issue, it is the Muslim outlook,
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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not the dualistic Western outlook, that is closer to the biblical model. Being an insider does not mean that I am free to do or believe whatever I want; it doesn’t mean that I am not obligated to refrain from evil or immoral facets of my culture. This is the same for someone born an insider in Western Christian or post-Christian cultures. Many missionaries and churchmen, however, still teach Muslims that they must leave behind all vestiges of Islam including language, dress, hospitality customs, and prayer language. Basically, this amounts to designating everything in their culture as evil! This approach mistakenly looks for signs of spiritual growth in cultural change, yet it is possible to change all outward signs of faith and culture but not experience ongoing transformation of the heart and mind. I took up this issue with a group of Arab Christian theology students who were initially hostile to the idea of Muslims remaining as believers in their own community. I asked, "Which practices in a Muslim's life may need to be changed once he or she follows Christ?" We filled a blackboard with all that denotes belonging to a Muslim community. The students listed practices of dress, food, language, marriage, worship, religious practices such as fasting, etc. After much debate, the group arrived at the conclusion (to their surprise) that only two practices were contra-indicated by the gospel: the pilgrimage to Mecca and the testimony (shahada). By mentioning this I am not intending to criticize those insider believers who say “Jesus is Lord” and still say the shahada or go on pilgrimage, only to show how one Christian group realized they cannot judge the faith of others who are different from themselves. Vocabulary is a big issue in this debate. One such argument commonly brought to my attention is ‘Christians shouldn’t call God “Allah”.’ Anyone who knows better can tell you that the only true word for God in Arabic is Allah. Allah is the normal and usual word used by Christian Arabs for God. Even Arab evangeliSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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cals who oppose the insider movement use this term for God. It is the word for the one and only God, and shares a Semitic root with Hebrew words for God, el, eloah, and elohim. This is just one example of how weak some of the arguments are. Yet, I have known Muslim-background Christians who abandon their native tongue and talk to their children exclusively in English, because it’s more “Christian”. Many people from a Muslim background who become Christians move to the West and seldom return. Often Muslim background believers who study theology abroad never return to their home to live as a witness. It is as if they have come to believe that being in a Christian garage makes you a Christian car. They want their children to be Christians so they must be born in a so-called Christian culture. Many of those from Muslim backgrounds who become (cultural) Christians are people who are already disillusioned with their country/culture/religion and come to the faith already hating Islam. I myself at one time hated my own culture and resented my background, not because of doctrine or theology or belief, but because somehow I was led to believe that it was ugly, and that only things Western and thus Christian were beautiful. Those who criticize followers of Jesus who want to remain in their largely Muslim culture don’t understand the severity of the alternative. My heart breaks for young believers who receive subtle (and perhaps unintentional) messages from Christians that the way of life handed down to them is ugly. They are given the impression that God cannot be in their culture.

4 Theology is not the issue
For me and others like me, being an insider is not primarily about doctrine and it is not about belief, but rather about attitude. Some Christian friends have called on me to declare my beliefs or answer
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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for myself in theological terms. “Prove to me that you are orthodox!” or “Show me that you are evangelical!” My burden, however, is to cry, “Show me that you love Muslims! Show me that your attitude is like that of our Lord’s! Demonstrate to me that your actions are rooted in the heart of God and not something else! Show me that you are acting out of love and not out of the emotions that surface when two civilizations collide!” I have spent the greater part of a long life engaged with the church in the West and involved in the global missions movement. It pains me to say that if more people exhibited different attitudes to Islam, then there would be no need for myself and others like me to distinguish ourselves as insiders. It is attitude, not belief, which causes this distinction.

5 Muslims treated unfairly
I am perplexed by the unfair treatment that Muslim people are given by the Protestant missions movement. There is nothing new about being an insider, but Muslim insiders are unfairly singled out. If I were a Jewish believer continuing to call myself a Jew and remaining inside my Jewish community, I would be lauded by most of the Christian West. My experience is that most Jewish ideology rejects the entirety of the New Testament and often reviles our Lord; yet even with those obstacles, believers that remain inside Judaism do not undergo the same scrutiny by Christians. My experience in America has made me aware of groups such as Christian motorcycle gangs and Christian hippies, all of whom remain outside traditional church circles and inside their (sometimes questionable) former communities. These groups don’t seem to undergo the same scrutiny either. The unfair and unbalanced scrutiny given to Muslim insiders over other types of insiders suggests to me that this is not so much a missiological issue as it is one of attitude.
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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Some people are unhappy that I am unwilling to engage in polemics or criticism of Islam. Here is something that most people in the West don’t understand: I was born into a confessional home. Islam is the blanket with which my mother wrapped me up when she nursed me and sang to me and prayed over me. I imbibed aspects of Islam with my mother’s milk. I inherited Islam from my parents and it was the cradle which held me until I found Christ. Islam is my mother. You don’t engage a person by telling them their mother is ugly. No matter how hideous your friend’s mother may be, you don’t say to him, “Your mother is ugly.” Even if he knows she is, his initial reaction will certainly be to fight you. For me, being an insider means that I have an emotional attachment to my culture, which I imbibed along with my mother’s milk. Islam is my mother too. However, although I am born a Muslim, I am not obligated to practice all of the customs of Islam, nor am I obligated to believe all of its religious doctrines. But the day I reject Islam outright, I disavow myself of my culture, my family, my community and my people. There are many ways to bring the gospel into this confessional home, and as mentioned earlier vocabulary is important: the words I use to describe a life-changing relationship with God through Christ and my attitude will determine how the community understands and reacts to my journey. I realize that as Christians engaging with Muslims, some may want to act in a way that makes them feel triumphant - like St. Boniface triumphantly cutting down a tree in defiance of paganism - but we do not need to crush the other person in order to share our light and truth.

6 My own experience
I travel all over the Arab world, and when I do I ask the same question: “Where are the second-generation communities among MusSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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lim background believers?” There are a few, but then I am forced to ask the question, “Are there any left that are not tied to Western money?” How can there be second-generation churches when believers are removing themselves from their communities? Our Lord taught by example and command that we should be witnesses within our context. I have received honors and awards from Muslim institutions (not necessarily religious institutions, but those in which members are professing Muslims) that are not allowed to recognize non-Muslims. I have been invited and embraced by Muslim groups that would have nothing to do with Muslims who have been extracted from their culture and have become Christians. Were I not an insider I would not have access to these groups and I would be unable to testify about my Lord in these places. And the only thing that is required of me to stay inside is to not be against my Islamic heritage. I don’t mean to imply that the issues involved are simple. Nor do I mean to suggest that all insiders will necessarily receive favor, or that none of them will be disowned by their families or experience persecution. Following our Lord is never easy. But what I do mean to say is that the kind of witness that will birth productive communities doesn’t require us to compromise our beliefs, only change our attitudes.

7 Holy Spirit also transforms Muslim Insiders
Staying inside a Muslim context has not pressured me towards bad doctrine. I have received no temptation as an insider to minimize the deity of my Lord Jesus Christ (His peace be upon us). I experience no enticement to deny the Trinity or elevate the Qur’an above the Bible. This isn’t to say that there are no temptations in the predominately Muslim community in which I live, but I can say with certainty that I find far more temptations and negative influences in the materialistic secular culture of Australia. Furthermore, I can’t
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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say that I am doctrinally infallible. One day when I am in paradise, my Lord may show me long lists of errors, but they will be the result of the limits of my mind and the weakness of my character, not because of my unwillingness to reject my heritage. Muslim insiders are being transformed by the same Holy Spirit that transforms all of us. We read the same Holy Bible that all Christians throughout the centuries have read. Our respect for and familiarity with God’s Word varies, but it varies in the exact same way that it varies in other parts of the Church. Shouldn’t we allow the Holy Spirit to show us if we need to re-learn how to pray or change our forms and customs? Should we be forced to adopt new forms of worship from outsiders that have special meaning to them, but not us? How can an outsider know the significance of our customs and cultural forms to our hearts? If Muslim followers of Jesus say their religious customs do not negate the faith that is in their hearts, then how can others claim it does?

8 In defense of Insider proponents
I will not naively assume that my description of what it means for me to be an insider fully addresses the controversial aspects of the subject. In particular, I do not have much to say about the issues surrounding “insider proponents”. These are the mostly Western cross-cultural workers who advocate more contextualized methods of evangelism. It is difficult for me to comment on insider proponents because the controversy surrounding them is largely doctrinal, and my concern is mostly about attitudes. On the other hand, I believe this controversy is also raging because of attitude rather than doctrine. I appreciate the attitudes of insider proponents who seek to export as little of their own culture as possible to Muslims who choose to follow our Lord. They go to great lengths to make sure that Muslims who choose to follow the way of our Lord don’t feel
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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pressured to reject their heritage. Furthermore, they make significant efforts to rise above the clashes between Christianity and Islam or Western and Eastern civilization, clashes which encourage many of the Church’s negative attitudes towards Muslims. I can empathize with insider proponents as well, because as I observe their opponents attacking them, I notice some of the same unfairness applied to them that I have described above. For example, some of the notions advocated by insider proponents are very similar to decades-old ideas put forward by missionaries working among animist peoples. Insider proponents, however, experience far greater scrutiny than their predecessors. It seems to me that the controversy surrounding them also springs largely from attitude, not doctrine. I don’t share the fear of some that somehow insider proponents are advocating a form of post-modern relativism that threatens the fabric of orthodox belief. I don’t understand that why such an approach should warrant such a strong reaction. For one hundred years, Protestant missionaries have been pushing the envelope and we have largely left them alone because they are willing to go where the rest of us aren’t, but as soon as they apply their creativity to the Islamic world the rules change. That is how I see it anyway.

9 Muhammad
Insider proponents receive a great deal of criticism for their views of Muhammad. Often the criticism is about the issue of whether or not he can be considered a prophet. This is a good example of how insider proponents and their detractors talk past each other. Insider proponents are not suggesting that Christian missionaries or Christian Arabs need to declare Muhammad to be a prophet. Rather, this issue relates to people from Muslim backgrounds who have come to love our Lord because of what is written about him in the Qur’an. Insider proponents argue that if something written by
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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Muhammad leads some people ultimately to The Truth, then why shouldn’t these insiders have a positive view of Muhammad as the one who led them to Christ? I have not heard any insider proponents speaking of Muhammad as a prophet equal to Christ. But insider proponents are actually being judged because of what they will not say about Muhammad, rather than what they are saying. Many insider proponents will not denounce Muhammad or criticize aspects of Islam simply because they do not want to be “anti-Islam”, but would rather be “for Christ”. Unfortunately, detractors/critics of insider proponents insist on making the assumption that their silence means they believe the opposite. The point is that insider proponents (along with myself) want the emphasis placed on what Christ is, and not what Muhammad is not. I notice in some of my Christian brothers and sisters almost a sense of betrayal if anyone says something positive about Muhammad. Many insider proponents have a high view of Muhammad. This is not to say that they speak of him as a prophet, but from an historical point of view they often can comfortably cite the positive aspects of his life and consider him a reformer. This tends to make many Christians very uncomfortable, if not highly alarmed. They usually argue something like, “We also have to be honest about the negative aspects of Muhammad’s life.” Why is this so important? I am allowed to say good things about Oliver Cromwell without being reminded that he chopped off the king’s head. I am allowed to speak positively about Thomas Jefferson without incessant interruptions that he impregnated his slave. Do people think that we are somehow admitting defeat, or dishonoring Christ, if we focus on the positive aspects of Muhammad or the religion that he founded? Muhammad actually spoke of Christ more than of himself. I do not think that an opinion about a man who lived long ago can somehow damage the Good News of our Lord. If I have to choose between honoring someone I disagree with, on the one hand, or dishonoring him on
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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the other, thereby showing an attitude that is not from our Lord, then the choice for me is easy.

10 Conclusion
I am an insider because I was born into a Muslim context and I don’t wish to reject my heritage. Islam is my heritage and Christ is my inheritance. I am not an Insider proponent because it seems to me to be a mostly Western thing, and because it strikes me as being about ideas and strategy, while I am mostly interested in attitudes and people. I am not a "C5" advocate, because I think that the incarnation needs to be our model for ministry, not the “C-scale”. And I optimistically (and perhaps naively) believe that all of us who follow the ways of our Lord and Messiah Jesus (his peace be upon us) are capable of agreeing on a common goal of seeing the emergence of groups of Jesus-followers in Muslim communities: groups that are authentic, indigenous, reproducible and not dependent on Western money. Additionally, I long for the day when we can go about our work while erring on the side of preferring one another in honor and respecting one another, while resisting the temptation to search out heresy every time someone disagrees with us or challenges the status quo. Furthermore, I am convinced that Christians aren’t required to dislike Islam in order to engage it. Finally, I would like to encourage my friends, acquaintances and fellow laborers from the West to earnestly and honestly ask themselves how much of their attitude towards Muslims is a result of political opinions, xenophobia, a post cold-war clash of civilizations, or being caught in the trap of dueling religions. Even as my brothers and sisters commit to this sort of self-introspection, I also pledge to search out the planks in my own eye. May the Peace of our Lord be upon us all.

St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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1. A monkey passed by a pond and found a fellow monkey pulling fish out and hanging them in a nearby tree. He asked, 'What are you doing?" The monkey replied, "They were drowning and I saved them". 2. Would anyone consider transplanting planting banana tree shoots to Alaska, expecting they will thrive there?

St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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A RESPONSE TO JAY SMITH’S CRITICISMS OF
COMMON GROUND AND OF ‘THE TRUE MEANING OF THE GOSPEL’

BY THE AL KALIMA EDITORIAL COMMITTEE 1 Introduction
Last month we were sent by email an evaluation of a Common Ground conference written by Jay Smith of the Brethren In Christ World Mission. In his paper, Smith makes some comments about the recent work, “The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ”, (from now on simply TM) produced by Al Kalima in cooperation with a wide group of scholars. We feel that Mr. Smith has seriously misrepresented this project, not to mention the position of others he criticizes, and so we have written this to briefly respond. We will focus on Smith’s fifth point where he discusses Bible translations done for Muslim audiences.

2 Misrepresented
Smith claims that in his paper he has summarized the position of Common Ground and John Travis in blue, with his own responses following. However, it is clear that he has been far from accurate in depicting the position of those he criticizes. We felt it was very unlikely that CG or Travis would have dubbed translations using terminology and idioms understandable to Muslims as “Muslim Compliant Translations”. In fact, in subsequent personal correspondence they have confirmed that they never used such terminology. It is poor scholarship and inappropriate to distort the position of one’s opponents by portraying them as saying things they have never said. If Smith feels that such translations are “compliant”,
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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let him say that directly and try to demonstrate it. However, by using such a label he is ascribing attitudes to us that we and our colleagues strongly reject. For Mr. Smith to resort to such labeling is not acceptable if he wants his readers to believe that he is fairly representing those with whom he disagrees. In his critique, Smith does not accurately report on how TM translates the Greek. For example, nowhere in TM is the Greek word pater “removed” or “replaced”, as Smith claims. Rather it is translated. One wonders if Smith has read the translation for himself, for he makes the odd claim that TM translates pater in Greek as amri or ruh allah in Arabic. This is not the case. Furthermore, Smith has not given a complete picture of how TM handles certain terms. First, he does not mention that the Greek term huios theos is rendered in the traditional manner in every occurrence, in addition to a meaning-based translation immediately following in parentheses. This approach, like the use of footnotes and interlinear text, is an accepted practice in Bible translation in many languages, and has been utilized previously in Arabic Scripture products. Second, Smith neglects to mention the extensive articles, footnotes, and glossaries in TM that explain kinship terminology for the readers. Relevant articles in the completed volume include the following: • • • The Messianic Titles of Christ The Relationship of Christ to God The Meaning of the Term “Son of God”

Regarding the deity of Christ, there is also an article, “The Incarnation of the Word of God in Christ”. All of this explanatory material was carefully designed to accompany the meaning-based translation of the Scripture in TM. As for the translation of the Bible text itself, the introduction by the editorial committee clearly states that this translation is not intended to woodenly replace each Greek word with a corresponding
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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Arabic one, but rather to communicate the meaning behind the forms in the Greek language. Regarding communication using meaningful terms, Mr. Smith affirms that, ‘the intent is fine; trying to contextualize the Bible for the audience it is intended for is perfectly legitimate, or finding a “dynamic equivalent” as an alternate is a practice which we do with all of our translations.’ However, he goes on to say: ‘The difficulty comes when you change the text itself, for the sake of a person’s sensibilities, and in so doing give it a meaning the author never intended; that is not good exegesis, but “eisegesis.”’ We thoroughly agree with Jay. Our goal should be to communicate the meaning as the original author intended it, as best we can determine on the basic of grammatical-historical exegesis and the findings of modern evangelical scholarship. But the ultimate judges of whether we have communicated the meaning correctly are readers from our intended audience; if they feel that certain traditional terms communicate that God sexually coupled with a woman and procreated Jesus, we need to listen to them and determine with their input how to appropriately communicate the original meaning. As Jay says, we should not refrain from translating the meaning accurately because of the sensibilities of certain people. In this case, the sensibilities that could keep us from accurately communicating are held by some people not belonging to our audience. If we, out of fear of their criticism, submitted to their wishes that we not depart from certain traditions, we would in this way be unfaithful communicators of the Word of God to our audience. Muslims view the term ab, “father”, in its primary biological and physical sense. This is why they do not use the term for foster fathers or adoptive fathers. Consequently, one educated Muslim woman understood a traditional Arabic translation of Luke 2:48 as denying the Biblical teaching that Jesus was born of a virgin! Fortunately, there are other terms in Arabic that are used for fathers and parents that do not necessarily carry the understanding of
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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physical procreation, an understanding which when applied to God would be not only offensive, but incorrect. For example, the term waliyy in Arabic is used for parents (but without biological implications), and the term rabb can be used in some cases for human parents as well as for God, as in the term rabb ul-bayt, “head of the household”. A good introduction to this issue can be found in the article, “The Missing Father”, in the November/December 2008 issue of Mission Frontiers.1 Useful articles summarizing scholarship on the term “Son(s) of God” can also be found in the International Journal for Frontier Missions.2 Mr. Smith objects that by using meaningful translations and explanations of Biblical kinship terms we will somehow be hindered from communicating about the relationships between the persons of the Trinity. However, in the Greek New Testament, Trinitarian formulas occur in many forms, not being restricted to the use of kinship terms. In fact, the traditional ecclesiastical formula, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, occurs only once in the NT (Matthew 28:19), whereas there are at least 60 occurrences of Trinitarian formulas with the persons mentioned in different order and with many different terms for each of them.3 If kinship terminology were essential in referring to the Trinity, we would find it in all of these references.

1 2

www.missionfrontiers.org/pdf/2008/06/19-22TheMissingFather.pdf. www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/22_3_PDFs/91-96Brown_SOG.pdf. www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/22_4_PDFs/135-145=2520Brown_SOG.pdf. 3 Here are just a few: God, Christ, the Holy Spirit: Rom 5:5-6; Rom 14:17-18; God, Christ, the Spirit: Rom 8:16-17; 2 Cor 1:21-22; 2 Cor 3:3; 2 Cor 3:4-6; Gal 3:11-14; Col 1:6-8; Heb 9:14; 1 Pet 4:14; The Lord, Christ, the Spirit/Spirit of God: 1 Cor 2:14-16; The Father, Christ, his Spirit: Eph 3:14-17; The Father, (pronoun), the Spirit: John 14:16-17; John 15:26; John 16: 13-15; Eph 2:18; The Father, (pronoun), the Holy Spirit: John 14:26; John 20:21-22; Acts 1:7-8; Acts 2:33; Acts 5:31-32; God, (pronoun), his Spirit: Eph 2:22. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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But further, Smith’s critique is based on belief in a “social Trinity” where the Trinity consists of three separate persons whose unity consists of a loving relationship. Millard Erickson has authored a book that just came out this year entitled, "Who's Tampering with the Trinity?: An Assessment of the Subordination Debate", in which he criticizes the claim of "familial implications" of the Trinity. There are more critiques of this stance.4 It may very well be that a social Trinitarian stance is a valid way of describing the Trinity. But until Smith can convince most leading evangelical theologians that his position is correct, it is unreasonable to expect Bible translators to translate in a way that is consistent with his beliefs. Smith goes on to imply again that translations done to address Muslim world view “change” the text, and he compares this with a “gay compliant translation”. Here Smith is trying to shock and provoke readers emotionally rather than engage them with reasoned arguments. However, the fact is that one of the major proofs that Muslims provide for the “corruption” of the Bible text is the use of kinship language in traditional translations in their languages, without any kind of explanation, essay or footnote! These Muslim readers assume that this terminology means what they think it means, in other words a reference to physical sexual procreation. Unless communicators and translators take the initiative to explain or clarify matters to them, these readers will assume the worst. The TM addresses their need by indicating a word-for-word translation of the inspired Greek text (whether in articles, footnotes, or in the main text), and then clarifying that such kinship language was used in a different way from what they would understand.
4

For instance, www.berith.org/essays/tritheism_and_christian_faith.html. www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/clark_kelly_j/trinity _or_tritheism.pdf. http://trinities.org/blog/ St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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Since the TM was first published in the Spring of 2008, we have received many glowing reports from Muslim and Christian readers of how well it communicates Biblical truth. One church leader from Lebanon reported how he wept as he sat up reading it through the night, as this was the realization of his prayers for many years. He wrote concerning TM: “The interpretive text of the Gospel remains distinctly faithful to the intended meaning taken from the Holy Scriptures. This book takes its place in the ranks of other Arabic Bible translations, completing their heritage of striving to communicate the Word of God to the hearts and minds of people.” One Muslim woman who worked on the project tells us that while in the past she felt that the Bible was corrupted and unreliable, she is now convinced from reading TM that “this Book could not be from human beings!” Another Muslim academic who worked on the project was deeply touched by the message and decided to become a follower of Jesus. An Arab Christian pastor wrote:
[in the past] whenever I opened the Scriptures with [my Muslim friends] I was surprised at the reactions I quickly encountered: “This is not in the Arabic language,” “This is stilted Arabic,” “This is incomprehensible Arabic.” But now the situation has completely changed, in that I feel a great confidence in myself and powerful joy whenever one of them asks for the Bible.

Another Arab Christian clergyman, a world-class scholar of medieval Christian Arabic literature, commented that, in his opinion, this project represents the first time since the Middle Ages that Christians and Muslims have worked collaboratively on Scripture in this way. Our hope is that Jay Smith will take the time to sit and read TM with Muslim friends or neighbors, and seek to understand better their perspective on the Book. It may be that he will find some valuable insights that can help us to better communicate the Word to our dear Muslim friends.
St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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OBSERVATIONS AND REACTIONS TO CHRISTIANS INVOLVED IN A NEW APPROACH TO MISSION
BY REV. EDWARD AYUB1 1 Introduction
I refer to this as our “observations” because we national believers have seen new approaches to mission with our own eyes and have
1

Rev. Edward Ayub was raised in a devout Muslim family and was converted while in University. He began his ministry training with Campus Crusade and obtained his MDiv at Presbyterian Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Since then he has become a well-known teacher, writer, and speaker throughout Bangladesh. In 2004 he devoted himself to church planting among Muslims and to establishing a network of Muslim background churches now organized as the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh. Although seldom named in the literature, Bangladesh has been both the laboratory and the parade ground for missiologists and practitioners committed to Insider ideology. For years this incubation was permitted to continue while clandestine reports were being circulated in American academies and among inner-circle missionaries. Bangladeshis for the most part were ignorant with regards to what was being reported about their country. Those who came to know were reluctant to speak out and bite the feeding hand of Western institutions. Things have changed. The Bangladeshi church was alerted by a controversial translation of the Scriptures and some key leaders were recruited to the Insider group. Some came back out and began to tell the story that was being spun by Insiders. Pastors and church planters began to encounter all kinds of deviant theologies and practices in the field. There was an explosion of awareness in the church. While missionaries were urging unity, church leaders were crying foul, reacting against western money that was turning the Muslim background church into a lab rat. At the center of this reaction was a small group of Muslim background church leaders who formed the Isai Fellowship of Bangladesh. They have all spoken out strongly but I am only aware of one, Rev. Ayub, who has published anything in English. With broad based support from every corner of the Bangladeshi church their chief strategy is to establish a strong network of visible Muslim background churches, thus proving that Insider/C5 strategies are unnecessary in Bangladesh. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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discussed them extensively with one another other in a variety of seminars, conferences and personal conversations. This short paper is a reflection on the views that I have heard as well as my own thoughts on the matter. Prior to starting to write on this purportedly phenomenal approach to evangelism in light of the Holy Scripture, I want to mention that in the recent years in Bangladesh many have used various methods to preach the Gospel among the majority Muslims. I respectfully admit that I may be proved wrong in calling a method unbiblical or improper. I cannot be sure that my judgments are 100 percent correct. But, judging itself is in fact not forbidden, because Christ has ordained power and ministry upon his church. But, since our judgment cannot be 100 percent error-free and correct as God’s is, Christ has warned us to be careful or to judge in light of the Scriptures and after much prayer so that our judgment will be governed by His will at the time of judging. If anything happens against and beyond the teachings of the Bible, being a follower of the Gospel it is my duty to disclose it. If the Holy Scripture allows us and if crossing the limits of Bible is observed, we cannot be silent. We have to guard the Holy Book and its sound teachings. People will misinterpret it, organize churches in an unbiblical way, and present Christ wrongly for dishonest gain (Tit 1:11). Seeing all this, we cannot remain silent and indifferent as if nothing is happening. We already bear the allegations and condemnation from Muslims that we are changing the Bible. Churches in Bangladesh are also often not aware of basic Christian doctrines. This writing is a step to challenge this carelessness and call us to greater responsibility as stewards of God’s Word. I firmly believe, however, that this distraction is momentary and that only God’s Scriptures and their teachings will last forever (Acts 5:1740). In bringing attention to these new approaches, I also believe that we are not creating division but protecting true unity by keepSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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ing and promoting the true teachings of Jesus Christ. Those who have been promoting other teachings, rather than what the Word of God teaches, have already strayed from the truth and are ruining the household of God (Tit 1:11).

2 Some observations
These days, we who work in what is termed “the mission field” tend to explain success in shallow terms, on the basis of human wisdom and practices that have become an accepted part of missionary technique. Among those are: the number of followers in the church, the wealth and prosperity of the church, the number of developmental projects being run by the church, connection of the church with the rich and western world, and having big mission centers. But, in reality, the success and honesty of a work depend on its spiritual maturity. Many argue that, if these are not dependable measures of success, why does that church have so many followers? Why are they so rich? Why do they have so many buildings and houses? Has not God been blessing them?! They might be on the right path! But, those who have spiritual eyes see that the churches where the Holy Scripture is strictly followed and applied often get fewer followers, because: 1. People are rebellious. They know that they will have to surrender to God if they follow the Holy Scripture. They recognize that the preaching and teaching of the true church of the Word are all against them, which they cannot tolerate. The pure Word of God especially threatens carnal believers. Therefore, when they consider conversion, many new believers seek the easy way and, in fact, are shown it. 2. In a true church, no one can escape sin, and we must be accountable for that. The court of Holy Scripture condemns us.
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Some people just don’t tolerate this. They find places where they and their sins are ignored without question. Wicked people can easily have very good relations with other wicked people. It should not surprise us to see that many leaders of Christian Churches now oppose these groups and few extend approval to them. Some argue that Christ came for sinners. But what kind of sinners are these rebels?! Even some of the leaders commit infamous public sins every day, including theft and rape, and yet we the missional church applaud them!!! Is there no accountability? No Punishment? 3. They are awarded with responsibility in the Church even after committing their sins. Nothing surprises us, the national church leaders, anymore. I would like to add one thing: those who reward these people with positions in the churches are a hundred times more corrupt than the people they reward. Additionally, the churches in the West which originate and export these false teachings into Asia are able to do so because it is assumed that they have such high spiritual motivation that their opinions can be trusted at face value. This is nothing more than the continuation of the colonialist mentality: whatever the white man does must be true. 4. When these people are disciplined in a good church they just change churches because those churches need members. Our leaders should be more careful from now on. Otherwise, our Churches will be destroyed spiritually. They will become unable to do anything to serve God. Gaining money and material influence is not enough. Nevertheless, God loves them! He wants them to change. Jesus loved his disciples, but because he did, he disciplined them.

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3 Shallow approach to success
3.1 Numbers game Now, to the main issue. First of all, we need to consider the words that have been circulated concerning the number of followers. Large numbers of followers are not the principal sign of genuineness of a church. If we look around the globe, we will find that illmotivated individuals and groups flourish day by day. But because numbers are held to be the most important evidence of God’s blessing, they produce exaggerated reports. Someone abroad asked me whether 10,000 mosques have been converted into Christian Churches in Dhaka. I had to answer that I know of none. Did he hear the number correctly? If he heard the number accurately, that would indicate that almost all the mosques in Dhaka had been converted into Christian churches! Even if he heard 1,000, that number could not possibly be true. I do not know of even one thus far. The fact is that some people collect money from abroad by producing such appealing but imaginary stories. A missionary reported in my presence that, in the southern part of Bangladesh, Muslims had rejected the Qur’an and thrown it into the water, and finally had converted their mosque into a Christian church. Another missionary reported in a meeting where I was present that there was “every minute one baptism”. We don’t want such exaggerated and hyperbolic reports published. There is no spiritual benefit for Christianity from these false and ridiculous reports. How are these reports produced? I think the leaders of Christian churches and Christian organizations need to discuss this issue and seek to stop these reports. Otherwise, they might bring undue persecution to the minority Christians. Rather than confronting these falsehoods, they circulate photos purporting to show the success of their methods of evangelism. These are clever methods to deceive Westerners who want to believe that we have a foolproof
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method of converting Muslims. There are no statistics of how many ordinary people are being portrayed in the pictures, without their knowledge, as being baptized when they are taking their normal baths in the pond, since baptism is done by immersing in water, pouring or sprinkling. 3.2 Problems of identity Are the people who do these things a sect of Islam like Wahabis or Sunni’s, or are they Christians? They never clarify their position. They perform namaz at the mosques. Which surahs do they use? I certainly know that, though they are standing in the namaz with the Muslims, they secretly use different oaths, recitations and surahs. In one instance, they developed a separate book on prayer different from the ritual Islamic prayer system. After protests from Muslims and the government in Bogra district, for being duplicitous, they destroyed all copies. Taking an oath in the name of Christ to worship Allah, reciting surahs from the Bible, the Torah and most portions from Psalms, they muddy the water between Christianity and Islam. They fast, but their oaths and methods are different. They sacrifice, but with a purpose different from what Muslims suppose. Their religious activities make them look like Muslims, but in private they claim that they are different theologically. Very recently in 2009, a pastor from Dhaka went to a district of Jamalpur in Bangladesh, and he asked the local people what they thought about Christianity. Their answer was that Christianity was a sect of Islam and Christians are therefore Muslims. Now what should we do about these people: support them or correct them? What is our responsibility?

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4 Avoidance of persecution
The question was asked: “Why do you think so?” They believe that when a person becomes ‘Isai’2, he is driven out of the family and the society. So they have to worship in such a way that Muslims or their relatives will not know that they have become ‘Isai’. Can a new Muslim convert continue staying with his family without being driven out if he or she testifies that Jesus is Lord? Jesus Christ, in the Bible, says:
Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and the Gentiles.” (Mt 10:17-18) Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Mt 10:21-22) So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt 10:26-28) Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. (Mt 10:34–36)

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A new sect in Christianity who identify themselves as Muslims following Jesus Christ. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt 10: 37-39)

Recently in a meeting held in Dhaka with Christian leaders from different backgrounds, one leader mentioned that he once shared the Gospel with a Muslim and after much reading and waiting, he was finally converted to Christian faith. But when he met that convert in Dhaka city after few years, the convert told him, “I am really a Christian believer but for the fear of oppression, I go to the mosque and I perform namaz five times a day and I am also a member of mosque committee.” At that point another pastor leader commented, “If there is a new convert, he or she would usually bear some sort of persecution for a period of time but if she or he can endure for six months to one year, then the persecution should diminish gradually. Thus, it is better to suffer for this shorter time than to suffer for his whole life by hiding his Christian faith.” I fully agreed with the comment since most of us have had such experience – bitterness in life for a period of time and then honor and respect from our persecutors. The avoidance of persecution and repression is the principal logic driving this group. Now, in order to justify their actions, they try to find support from the Bible. Let’s see what the Bible says about this rather than simply accepting their use of it. Additionally, we don’t believe in converting someone into Christianity using some verses from the Qur’an, one of their most common practices. Converts that come this way do not last long. What are they actually doing in any case? Are they supporting the Qur’an’s teachings, or criticizing them? Converting someone by criticizing one’s religious Scripture and/or his prophet and/or the followers of his religion is not the right way to do things. ConSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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verting someone on the basis of criticism means building a house on sand. When storms come, as they always do, the house will be demolished easily. Many come to Christianity due to joblessness normal in a country like ours where 30 million people are unemployed. Therefore, some preachers of this sect delight in criticizing persons or acts of other religions because they think they will receive financial support for doing so. I consider it a bad practice to criticize the Qur’an or Islam, and the risk in doing so is higher than in sharing the Gospel. I think if someone is led by the Holy Spirit and comes to us, embracing Christ after hearing and reading the teachings of the Bible, we should praise him. He will become a true believer and will last forever. I served a Christian Trust for a few months primarily as an advisor and, at some point when they were in crisis, I served as the Director. I had no intention to work full-time for the Trust. But since the Trust has been trying to work among the Muslims through literature, I agreed to take the responsibility. There, among the staff, I saw people employed for about 10 years as believers but not yet baptized, and others who had been baptized for the sake of their jobs while their believing wives had not been. I had not paid that much attention to the status of the wives of staff, assuming that all of them had been baptized. I asked a member of staff who did not undergo baptism, “How can you serve a ministry working for the publication of Christian literature without being baptized?” The staff member told me that she had been willing to take baptism for many years but nobody was willing to baptize her. She in fact blamed the leaders for not baptizing her since she came to faith in Jesus Christ. We saw to it that she took baptism promptly. I learned later that the night she was baptized she sought forgiveness from the Allah of the Muslims for the entire event. In other words, all along she had had a deficient understanding of Christianity. She did not return to the office the next day. I was quite surprised.
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In the process of baptism one should take oaths like, “I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I will lead my life according to the teachings of the Bible, and I will do whatever the Church instructs me to do consistent with it”, etc. How can a person dare to leave Christ after receiving instruction and taking oaths of this kind?! Some of these workers continue to work with pride in that organization. They criticized me for leaving but they still work there as staff. This has been an open secret matter for all staff and the Board, I think. I resigned in order to work for Christ, his Church and the greater society, with a vision for what we can do if we are faithful to him and his Word. Can missionaries (the people that set up these offices and organizations) conquer Bangladesh with these sorts of Christian (?) believers? Workers such as these, who are proud to be employed by foreign NGOs but without really understanding or accepting Christianity at all, would be better off following their previous religion – Islam. I know the supporting NGO of the Trust in question thinks that they are the only pioneers and the principal agent of Muslim evangelism in Bangladesh. They have spent large amounts of money over more than 50 years, but can they show even one visible church they have established? The main goal of this international organization registered as an NGO in Bangladesh appears to be publishing reports of questionable merit. This however is just one story. Many missionaries from different nations have also been wasting money in order to win Bangladesh for Christ. Why do missionaries follow the methods they do? One of our friends commented, “Are these groups re-converting the converted Christians into Islam? Is this a hidden conspiracy of this group to work for Islam through spending church money?” Not only do some of these people counsel people to remain Muslims rather than confess Christ openly, they counsel those who have left Islam and become Christians openly to convert back and join mosques.

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5 Deception
Some argue that the converted don’t need to become Christians. They want to become pure Muslims. How? They say: by studying the Qur’an and following the portions of it that address Christ, as well as by following the Bible. They say that true Christians are true Muslims; even Muslims following the teachings of Islam are not pure Muslims, but those who believe that salvation comes through Christ are the only pure Muslims. They claim that true believers are described in the Qur’an as those who submit. Understood in this way, followers of each religion submit or surrender to that religion. Following their logic, communists would be the best Muslims because they sacrifice their lives for the cause of their ideology. Since they submit to the one true God, they are indeed Muslims. Since no religion called ‘Isai’ is recognized in Bangladesh in the same way as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, etc., we have to survive as Muslims. Is the Qur’an so insignificant that these men can change and distort the Qur’an according to their imagination, while the Muslims sit idly by? Muslims will eventually stand against this misuse of their name as their religious duty and stop these people. We members of the visible Church want to distinguish ourselves from them. We do not wish to be seen as deceivers or liars. They are active throughout different parts of Bangladesh. They are trying to misguide and deceive the Muslims. As a religious deception, it is liable to be brought under civil and criminal laws. They present Christ in such a way that the listener cannot understand that a Christian has just preached Christianity to him. Christ must not be preached in such ways. Muslims respect Jesus (Isa) as a Prophet. We can talk about Jesus Christ honestly and openly, making him known to those who want to listen. The Muslims will eventually challenge these persons wearing Muslim caps and beards who talk about Jesus Christ (Isa). People
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can masquerade as Islamic scholars, visiting mosques in order to talk about Isa and to subtly show the difference between the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of the Qur’an. This person may be introduced as a Muslim but, in reality, he is a Christian whenever he leaves Bangladesh and when he speaks to foreigners. To Muslims, he claims to be a Muslim; to Westerners he claims that he is a Christian working among Muslims. Ordinary Muslims should be wary of people taking pictures of their mosques because these people may portray the mosques to foreigners as converted churches. A missionary who worked in Bangladesh for more than thirty years says: “This slide is incremental and can be insidiously deceptive, especially when led by people of highest motivation.

6 Theology
Now, it seems to me, we need to bring these issues before our theologians, and administrators. Let us critique them before we suddenly find that we have arrived at a point which is indisputably sub-Christian.” There are many witnesses in this country who could say, in fact, that this missionary was once one of the pioneers of such controversial mission work, but failed and became disillusioned with the methodology. Some of these insiders or messianic Muslims gather support in the name of cooperative societies and/or micro-credit programs. They use pictures of bearded Muslims in most cases. They show that Islamic scholars are becoming Christians. We notice that these groups use such words to deceive many ignorant and illiterate Muslims. Muslims would be shocked to learn that these people don’t even read the Bible, don’t even pray to Allah. They are actually nothing more than businessmen. They build their funds from zero to millions. These practices make them rich overnight. In reality, they are frauds, deceiving the church in order to make money and gain power for themselves. After writing this book in Bangla,
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some of the foreign missionaries and nationals agreed with my comments that many people have been doing business in the name of Muslim evangelism. I have their e-mails. Some of them have taken action against such reports and methods. The Bible does not support this kind of work. Regardless of the language they use, there is no difference between an ‘Isai’ and a ‘Christian’. A follower of Isa (Jesus Christ) will be known as an ‘Isai’ or a ‘Christian’, just as in Pakistan Christians are known as Isais. The followers of this group however do not introduce themselves as Christians or Isais. They claim to be Muslims, even though that does not really describe what they are. A Muslim can ask these people two questions: “(1) Do you believe that Qur’an is a revelation from Allah? And (2) Do you believe that Hazrat Muhammad is the last and greatest prophet of Allah?” According to Bible, an Isai/Christian cannot believe in these two at the same time. Jesus Christ has also advised these types of people not to stand on two boats at the same time. He says that a man cannot obey two masters at the same time. I believe that, in the same way, Islam will not call a mixture of Christianity and Islam, Islam, and its followers, Muslims. If these people try to avoid these questions, we may ask them some more questions: “(1) Is Isa (Jesus) only a prophet, or do you believe him to be God? Do you believe Isa is the Son of God? (2) Do you believe in the Trinity of God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? (3) Do you believe the 66 books of the Bible to be the only Holy Scriptures?” They often say that Muslims are the followers of Muhammad and they are the followers of Isa (Jesus Christ), but Allah is the same. Ask them, “What is the religious difference between the Muslims’ Allah and the Christians’ Allah? Is the Allah in the Qur’an the same as the Allah in the Bible?” In fact, Trinity in Christianity shows that the concept of God is entirely different between the two religions. Of course, some of these people remove any reference that “Christ is Allah’s Son”
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from their published Injil (New Testament). They substitute “Messiah” in place of “Allah’s Son” in their Injil; in some verses they totally omitted “the Son of Allah” from their published Gospel of Mark. What do they think about the claim of Isa (Jesus), “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)? How do they explain the verse of the Bible, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)? Having a majority of adherents in a given place does not make a religion true or legitimate. Because Christians are the largest religion in the world (the second largest religious group is Muslim) Christians could say: “We are the majority. Therefore, we and our belief are the purest.” On the other hand, Muslims will say, “We are over 1,000 million. So, ours is the truest religion. We are also increasing in Europe and America, the home of the Christians.” The quality of a work cannot be determined solely by the quantity of its followers. Jesus Christ said that people full of darkness are abundant in this world. Some people of darkness are among Christian churches too. Far fewer are the people who follow God’s path. There are also vast numbers of people without any religion. People from the majority religion are in great numbers and in spiritual blindness. Good believers exist, but they are fewer than the reports or claims.

7 Persecution cannot be avoided
These people want to avoid persecution by embracing non-biblical faiths and cultures. What do Jesus, Paul and Peter say about persecution?
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, be-

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cause great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:11-12) The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Rom 8:16-17) Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the Gospel of God? (1 Pet 4:12-17)

8 Money is a Real Issue
What about the wealth and the large mission centers and projects developed by the groups supporting this kind of work? I deeply thought about it and observed that all these groups in the world are rich. Not a single group is poor. They have large mission centers, universities, well-decorated worship places, large hospitals, and many more physical attractions. Where do they get so much money from? I have been asked this question many time when I have taught about cults. My answer is: “Satan supplies them this money. They collect money from their members.” While I was studying abroad, I came to know about a cult group named ‘Iglesia Ni Khristo’ where one loses membership if he does not pay his tithes; he is not even allowed to worship. Yet they have members flooding in. Everyone knows that the group is a
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cult. Why then do the people pay them? Because Satan, “the god of this age”, has made those people blind. They can even sacrifice their lives for the sake of that group. You can see what the Scriptures say about this type of group:
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. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Pet 2:1-3)

I know a person of my village who was a dedicated follower of Christ for many years. He was an outstandingly talented person in our area and then in Christian society throughout the country. Later he became an object of controversy. Some missionaries who taught unbiblical practices exploited him. Feeling isolated and finding no alternative employment he adopted their ideas as his own. I don’t go to the village very often, but my brothers and relatives often go there. This person went to pray during Eid (Muslim festival) at the village mosque to show that he had re-converted into Islam. The villagers, however, did not allow him to pray in the mosque yard. Some even warned that they themselves would not pray at the mosque if he were allowed to do so. Later, he went to my maternal grandfather who is a renowned scholar in the locality and a founder of a Madrassa (Islamic Education Institute). He gave his confession in my grandfather’s presence and prayed with him. This was a fraud, however, because in fact he is a preacher of Christianity. It surprises me that he would even think of deceiving a respected person like my grandfather, but he did so very easily.

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I respect my grandfather very much even though he is a Muslim. After applying these sordid methods among Muslims in my country, this person made his exodus and now resides in the USA. As far as I know he is no longer involved in mission work. He lives as a re-converted Muslim. A few days ago, he arranged marriages with Muslim boys (another violation of the teachings of the Holy Scripture) for two of his daughters. Don’t men like this one read the Holy Scripture? Of course they read it but, for the sake of money, they don’t implement its teachings. Paul says, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. (2 Cor 2:17). At the same time another question arises: “What exactly does an Isai say while confessing to becoming a pure Muslim again?” What did the above-mentioned former Christian, later Isai, say to my grandfather? It is certain that these Muslims would not hear of Jesus Christ. I know another person from another area in Bangladesh, who was advised by one such mission group, as a condition for employment, to become pure Muslim (?), to go to the mosque for prayer and confess by saying that he is not an Isai but a (true) Muslim. He refused and had to leave the job. Re-conversion into Islam is one of theological beliefs practiced by groups such as these.

9 Who is Jesus? How to view the Qur’an?
Followers of Isai groups who identify themselves as Isai at home and hypocritically as Muslims to others, who pray at the mosque sacrificing animals with the Muslims, are a new cult or misguided faction. Their wives and children never pray like they do, since most of their wives originate from Christian families. We understand that it is hard to say “Assalamu Alaikum” for them. Why do our local Christian scholars and theologians keep silent? Have you
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lost your speech, being blessed by the crumbs of their money, or are you seeking opportunities to go abroad? It is hampering the Christian community. As the early church had false churches and heresies, so grow misguided cults in the Isai society working among the Muslims of Bangladesh. They may work this way in order to capture Muslim lives and society by hook or by crook. But followers of this sect will one day find themselves standing on a platform which has no base in the Holy Scriptures. This kind of Isai sect is wrong in the light of the Holy Scriptures in two regards: First, they are wrong in not worshiping Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as our only Lord. These people believe in Christ, but they also believe in the founder of their stated religion. Much of the time, they say more about their founder than Christ. They place more importance on their human inventions and stories than on the One who bought them by His blood. This group is dependent upon the Western promoters of such theology, not least because their money provides many jobs. They seem so fervent about what they believe, but they embraced something completely different just a few days ago. What will they believe next? It is difficult for anyone to guess. One thing can be said with certainty: these kinds of people do not remain steadfast. They change their beliefs and doctrine as often as they change their place. The Holy Scripture is also clear about them:
The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days? But the temple he has spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus has spoken. Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (John 2:20-25)

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The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the LORD learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. (John 4:1-3)

Secondly, the Bible is not enough for them. They believe in the Bible as well as the book of their founder, the Qur’an. Once I was with a Christian family: in the morning they did not have time to read the Bible, but they read the other book, taking time to read some of it for me. This misguided cult of our Isai faction, though they cannot make time to read the Bible, yet manage to find time to read the Qur’an. But how do they read the Qur’an? Do they read the Qur’an after ritual ablution? Where do they keep the Qur’an? Do they respect the Qur’an with the respect that the Qur’an deserves as a religious book? Or do they criticize the Qur’an? The Qur’an has been used as an approach/bridge to discussion about Jesus Christ. Personally, I prefer to restrict my use of the Qur’an to times when arguments arise. In other words, I use it apologetically because it contains teaching about Jesus, the Injil, Torah and Psalms. But reading Qur’an can make a person a true Muslim, never a true Christian Muslim. There is no relation between ordinary Bible-believing Christians and these Christian (Isai) Muslims. Muslim evangelists should preach to them, because this group will easily be re-converted to Islam. They think of themselves as another sect in Islam like the Shia and Sunni. They go to churches abroad and some of their wives go to local churches. Some wives have learnt how to perform the namaz, and their husbands go to mosques. Most of them don’t associate with the visible Isai church. How can Muslims tolerate them? Do they want to build a bridge between the Mosque and the Church? This million-dollar project is being run in the country with 100% foreign aid, but the religious people don’t even know the names of the people that run it or the names they give their projects!

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10 Conclusion
We conclude that this group is pushing the whole Christian community into a great risk of persecution. Christians try to defend themselves by differentiating themselves from these groups. If they can go to the mosques for evangelism then why are they not becoming bold to share the Gospel? Which is easier – evangelizing inside the mosque or Gospel presentation outside the mosque? While writing this, I tried to align my thinking with the Holy Scripture instead of my own will, because I believe in the Holy Scripture. The Holy Scripture describes clearly what we should preach and where, when and how we should do so. For that reason, I ask those that have reacted negatively to my article to study deeply the relevant verses of the Holy Scripture and compare my arguments with them accordingly. If you don’t think in the same way, show your arguments in the light of the Holy Bible. Please don’t speak on your own authority. I believe that everything we need to uphold Jesus Christ purely is there in the Scriptures. Our Bible has not left us in incompleteness or doubt. The Bible is sufficient for our lives and actions. So, we should not nullify the truth of the Bible. I try to respect the Bible from the bottom of my heart. If you have questions, or have different opinions, please write. This will enrich us. We enjoy the freedom to write what we believe in our country. Writings will enrich writings and raise our thoughts. I want to learn from your writings, too.

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JESUS THE ULTIMATE INSIDER1?
A RESPONSE TO PROPONENTS OF THE INSIDER MOVEMENT THAT JESUS IS THE “ULTIMATE INSIDER” AND THE
ULTIMATE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE METHODOLOGY

BY JOHN SPAN2 1 Introduction
In the process of argumentation for a particular stance, appeals are made to various authorities to buttress a position. The appeal may be made to a noted author or scholar. The logic might go as follows: Herman Bavinck said “x”. Many other authors of similar stature agree with him. By citing him, I show that I affirm what he wrote as well. By inference, you as the reader would be wise to join in our affirmation. This method had a strong appeal to those “wired” more cognitively. An appeal may be made, as well, to a noted practitioner in the particular field of investigation: Jonathan Edwards both experienced and reflected on a theology of revival. Because of his experience, he should be judged as a weighty authority. This method has a stronger appeal to those who are more experientially “wired”. If, however, one wants to engage more “ultimate” authorities, especially in the Christian realm, then one might look for Biblical
1

See, for example Kevin Higgins, “Inside What? Church, Culture, Religion and Insider Movements in Biblical Perspective”, in St. Francis Magazine, August 2009, p. 91 where he attempts to make an iron-clad case by appealing to God as the “true insider”. “What is truly at the heart of the insider movement paradigm is the God Who is at work directly among the nations, including their religions, to make in each a people for Himself. These are His movements, and He is the true Insider.” 2 John Span has served in mission in Guinea, West Africa, since 2000. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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authors, like the Apostle Paul. By inference, an endorsement of a certain position by Paul would make the case even more iron-clad. Considering that one might not find a weighty enough argument even with a human Biblical author like Paul, whose experience also contributed to his level of authority, where else would one look? Jesus: Fully human, fully God: Incarnate root and offspring of David. If He can be made to give His endorsement for a certain position, certainly all arguments contrary to that must be suspect, and the position will have an assurance of having the imprimatur of divine authority. The appeal could not be stronger. In this paper I hope to subject the premise that Jesus is the ultimate insider, and thus the justification for insider methodologies, to the scrutiny of scripture. In the spirit of the Reformation I will attempt to let scripture interpret scripture, to have more obscure scriptures be enlightened by those that are clearer, and to avoid constructing a theology based on proof-texting. We will do this by following Jesus’ path of exaltation in heaven, to humiliation on earth, to exaltation in heaven once again. We will also see that the followers of Jesus are not exempt from following his pathway of humiliation.

2 The pre-incarnate exaltation of Jesus
If one is to use the word “insider” as one who has an intimate connection, a position “within the group”, then the following verses might show that Jesus was an insider. He owned what the Father and the Spirit owned, namely eternal glory. a. Possessing glory before the world began (John 17:5) b. Jesus as Creator/Wisdom (Col 1:16; 2.3) c. Mutual love of the Father with Jesus and Him with the Father (John 4:35)
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d. Jesus at right hand of the Father (John 17:28) e. Equal with God (John 1:1; Phil 2:6) f. “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30; 17:11,21,22) There is a distinction, however, that limits the argument, as no human can claim “to be in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). That is the place of ultimate intimacy. This is a position reserved for members of the Godhead.

3 Incarnation of Jesus
Jesus willingly took the path of humiliation in his incarnation. A very visible downward trajectory leading to the cross is evident in the following verses. a. Did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. (Phil 2:6) b. Born to a people of limited worldly power under Roman rule: born in questionable circumstances to a teenage mother of no note, to soon become hunted as prey and a refugee to Egypt. c. For your sakes [Corinthian believers] he became poor. (2 Cor 8:9) d. He came to his own and his own knew him not. (John 1:11; 15:21; 16:3) e. At his first sermon “his” people set out to stone him (Luke 4) f. Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man. (Mt 8:20; Luke 9:58) g. They will hate you as they hated me since. (Mt 24:9; John 15:18-19) h. In this world you will have tribulation. (John 16:33 cf John 15:20)
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i. j. k. l. m. n. o.

…High priest who knows out weaknesses, able to sympathize. (Heb 4:15) He who knew no sin became sin. (2 Cor 5:21) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. (Matt. 27:46) Therefore let us follow him outside the camp (Heb 13.13) Your citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3.:20) I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world (1 Pet 2:11) If you suffer as a Christian do not be ashamed. (1 Pet 4:16)

Jesus might be called an insider because of his identification with humanity. This is underscored by the co-suffering, intimate identification motif in Heb 4:15, where the author points his audience to a very unique type of high-priest: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (4:15) The author shows both Jesus’ continuity with his joining of the plight of humans, but discontinuity with their sinful state. This continuity—discontinuity divide continued from his conception to his eventual ascension. The book of Hebrews, however, will not allow us to quickly make Jesus into a hero- insider, as in an ironic turn of events, Jesus, the High-Priest of an other-worldly kind, is now made to be the sacrificial animal for atonement. (Heb 13:11-14) By defining his Atonement as “he suffered death outside the camp” the author underlines the double shame: an outcast repudiated by his own people, finally disposed of outside of the city walls. His earthly life had exemplified this social ostracism by his own ethnic and religious group castigating him as being a “bastard”, “a son of the devil”, and hated by but a few. John, the Apostle summarizes: “his own knew him not.” The author of Hebrews gives his audience courage in their temptation to desert the Christian walk by reminding them of Jesus’ identification with their humanity (4:15); he makes no exSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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cuses, but rather encourages them, as pilgrims, to become outsiders as he was (13:13). “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.” William Lane in the Word Biblical Commentary on Hebrews writes:
The exhortation to leave the camp and to identify fully with Jesus introduces a distinctive understanding of discipleship. Jesus’ action in going “outside the camp” (v 12) set a precedent for others to follow. The task of the community is to emulate Jesus, leaving behind the security, congeniality, and respectability of the sacred enclosure, risking the reproach that fell upon him. Christian identity is a matter of “going out” now to him. It entails the costly commitment to follow him resolutely, despite suffering.3

There is no promise of heaven on earth here. Rather, due to their pilgrim motif (v. 14), the audience is to put their present social rejection in eternal context. With respect to His relationship to his Father, in the incarnation, Jesus moved from being the ultimate insider to the ultimate outsider. From being “the beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”, he moved towards the reality of “not my will, but yours be done”. When He who knew no sin became sin, He bore the ultimate rejection by his Father: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” In this ultimate abandonment, Jesus provides the ultimate good news for those who might experience abandonment due to their identification with him. Prior to the raison d’etre for his atonement, Jesus made no excuses for the fact that his followers would not be exempt in any way shape or form from his trend-setting path of exaltation through humiliation. He told them that they would be “persecuted for my names’ sake” (Mat 5:10-11; 24:9), be “thrown out of the syna3

William L. Lane, vol. 47B, Word Biblical Commentary: Hebrews 9-13, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), p. 543. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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gogue” the center of Jewish and religious life (John 16:2), and be hated as He was (John 15:18-19). In short Jesus promised that following him would entail becoming an outsider, to the point of being identified as a scapegoat (Heb 13:13-15), the scum of the earth (1 Cor 4:13), those completely unsurprised at fiery trials (1 Pet 1:6; 4:12) and those who are willing to face death (Rev 12:11). Yet this promise of becoming an outsider to the systems of this world (Rom 12:2), does not imply an orphan state. The opposite is true as Jesus promised the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:3). In this way the Holy Spirit becomes the ultimate insider with the believer who now has nothing to fear. The Good News is that to those people who were once outsiders to “God in the world”, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the “covenants of promise” (Eph 2:12), they have been moved into the inner circle of relationship with the Trinity due to identification with the Ultimate “insider/outsider”. Thus this new humanity, also called new creation, who are said by scripture to be outsiders to the ways of the world, are now “brought near” by the blood of Christ (Eph 2.13) into His body.

4 In his post-incarnate exaltation
a. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father (Eph 1:22; Col 3:1; Heb 10:12; 12:2) b. He has the name above all names (Phil 2:9-10) c. He always lives to make intercession for us and saves to the uttermost (Heb 7.25) d. He will Judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:31; 1 Tim 4:1) e. He receives worship from all in heaven and earth (Rev 5) f. He is the rider of the white horse with the name KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS, with a sharp two-edged
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sword and will tread the winepress of the fury of God (Rev 1:16; 19:11-16) It is a pity that the evangelical church, mostly in North America, has largely forgotten or ignored the riches of the doctrine of Jesus’ bodily ascension and session. Sadly, the insider movement has not been spared. What greater comfort can a believer in distress have than the presence of “our Brother” seated in the Heavenly throne room? In that position, He is the Ultimate Insider. There he lives to intercede for His followers, not as some remote deity, but as the God-Man, still fully identifying with “our weaknesses”. More than that, it is this same God-Man who saves “to the uttermost”. Instantly, this doctrine evaporates any manipulations that sentimental spiritual advisors to new converts must make. It is this exalted Christ, and no other method, Who will bring those given to Him by the Father, to their final destination. In his exaltation, Jesus invites his followers to be insiders with him and his Father as they “sup with him” (John 14:23; Rev 3:20; 19) and finally so at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is there that the battles between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman will finally be over, and the cities of man will finally be completely replaced by the city of God. Those enjoying this feast will be those outsiders brought near by the blood of the Lamb to be in His inner circle: who necessarily became outsiders to the systems of this world while enjoying the insider fellowship with the Trinity via the work of the Holy Spirit. The movement of these former rebels to the confidence of the King is all due to His doing. “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

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5 Conclusion
An appeal to make Jesus the ultimate proponent of the insider movement methodology, as alluring as some have made it to be, fails on three Scriptural counts. It fails to take into account the tension of his insider/outsider relationship to his Father in the light of eternity and His life on earth. Largely, Trinitarian dynamics are ignored and Jesus is flattened out and reshaped to the likes of a glorified Marvel comics’ hero. It fails to take into account the effect His example has on the lives of those “who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” Finally, it appropriates for the present, in an illegitimate way, an over-realized eschatology in which all humiliation is past. This might be called heaven on earth. Any strategy that fails to follow the path of exaltation via humiliation set by Jesus is un-Biblical and no doubt utopian, and will likely be guilty of identity theft to make Jesus in its own image.

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THE NEW CHRISTIANS OF NORTH AFRICA AND THE INSIDER MOVEMENT
BY REV BASSAM M. MADANY1 1 Introduction
As the readers of St Francis Magazine would recall, the August 2009 issue dealt with the Insider Movement. The various articles approached the subject from a Biblical and theological angle. As the editor, the Rev Dr John Stringer, puts it:
The Insider Movement, also called C5 or Messianic Islam, has been a pervasive, outspoken presence in the world of missions for the last three decades. Missiological journals, Christian magazines and newspapers have been awash in anecdotes from the field extolling this purportedly new, biblical, approach to ministry. At times, it has seemed almost unthinkable to offer criticism of this broad movement. That is why this entire issue is dedicated to a detailed examination of the Insider Movement, its theology, methodology and tactics. Is the heart of the Christian faith a matter of making an individual choice? Is it fundamentally just a matter of having a personal love for Jesus? Or is the Church, organized and visible, at the heart of God's plan for the world? The subject sounds alarm bells. Evangelical Christians become increasingly susceptible to the siren song of poststructuralist (some might say anti-) postmodernism and liberalism, lacking a foundation in a theology that biblically respects the historic Church as the body of the Lord Jesus Christ.2
1

Rev. Bassam M. Madany has been the Arab radio minister for Back to God Hour since the 1950s and a regular contributor to St Francis Magazine. His writings can also be found on www.stfrancismagazine.info/ja/content/view/185/52/ 2 John Stringer, ‘From the Editor’s Desk’, in St Francis Magazine 5:4 (August 2009), p. 2. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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I would like to contribute a further perspective to the discussion of the Insider Movement which would shed light on the way Muslims who convert to the Christian faith view themselves. Materials that have been appearing lately on reformist Arabic websites reporting on this phenomenon are quite intriguing. The European media have picked up on the conversion stories as well. One might ask why those promoting the Insider Movement seem so unaware of these reports about converts from Islam to Christianity. The conversion stories they document do not fit the schematics of their own paradigm. The reformist Arabic websites and the European press indicate that the converts are bold and forthright in their marturia and enthusiasm for their newfound faith.

2 Muslims in the Arab World becoming Christians
It was around three years ago, that I came across the use of the term “Masihiyyoo al-Maghreb” (The Christians of North Africa) in the Arab media. That indicated the presence of a considerable number of North African Muslims who have embraced the Christian faith. In March of 2007, a conference was convened in Zurich, Switzerland, by “Copts United,” under the leadership of an Egyptian Christian engineer named Adli Yousef Abadir, and chaired by Dr. Shaker al-Nabulsi, a Jordanian Muslim intellectual. The general theme of the conference was “The Defense of Minorities and Women”. One of the lectures was entitled “The Christians of the Maghreb under the Rule of Islamists”, where it must be noted that the Maghrebi converts to Christianity were called, “Masihiyyoo alMaghreb”. They were not called “followers of ‘Issa,” the way the Insider Movement likes to refer to converts from Islam. Another term used for them is “Al-Masihyyoon al-Judod fi Dual alMaghreb al-‘Arabi”, (The Phenomenon of the New Christians in the countries of the Arab Maghreb).
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Here are translated excerpts from that lecture delivered in 2007 at the Zurich Conference:3
The New Christians’ phenomenon throughout the Arab Maghreb has come to the attention of the media. For example, the weekly journal, Jeune Afrique, devoted three reports on this subject with respect to Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. In March 2005, the French daily Le Monde devoted a complete report to this topic. And Al-‘Arabiyya TV channel telecast two reports on the subject that had been recorded in the Kabyle district of Algeria. Jeune Afrique estimated that the number of people who have embraced Christianity in Tunisia was around 500, belonging to three churches. A report on the website of “Al-Islam al-Yawm” prepared by Lidriss el-Kenbouri, and dated 23 April 2005, estimated the number of European evangelists in Morocco to be around 800 and that, quite often, their evangelistic efforts are successful. The report further added that around 1,000 Moroccans had left Islam during 2004. The magazine “Al-Majalla,” in its No. 1394 issue, claimed that the number of New Christians in Morocco was around 7,000; perhaps the exact number may be as high as 30,000. The report that appeared in the French daily Le Monde claimed that during 1992 between 4,000 and 6,000 Algerians embraced Christianity in the Kabyle region of Algeria. By now, their numbers may be in the tens of thousands. However, the authorities are mum about this subject: as an Algerian government official put it; ‘the number of those who embraced Christianity is a state secret.’” The newspaper report went on to mention several factors that led people to convert to Christianity: ‘When we enquired from those who had come over to the Christian faith to learn about the factors that led to their
3

The link to this Arabic-language report is: www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/ElaphWriter/2007/4/225336.htm. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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conversion, they mentioned several. Among them was; “The violence of the fundamentalist Islamist movements.” A Christian evangelist working in Algeria reported: “These terrible events shocked people greatly. It proved that Islam was capable of unleashing all that terror, and those horrific massacres! Even children were not spared during the uprising of the Islamists! Women were raped! Many people began to ask: Where is Allah? Some Algerians committed suicide! Others lost their minds; others became atheists, and still others chose the Messiah! ‘Quite often, the “New Christians” testified to the fact that what they discovered in their new faith was love; it formed another factor in their conversion. These are some of their words: “We found out that in Christianity, God is love.” “God loves all people.” “What attracted us to Christianity is its teaching that God is love.”’

It is quite evident that the testimonies of these new Maghrebi Christians are extremely important. The Christian message came to them through various means, but it struck them as a word of a loving God in search for His lost sheep. They embraced the Messiah who died on the cross, and rose again for their justification. Notwithstanding all the difficulties that they were to face in the future, they clung to the Biblical Injil that had brought them peace with God, and the gift of eternal life.

3 Algerians converts do not want to be ‘Insiders’
Almost two years after the Zurich Conference that dealt with the plight of Maghrebi Christians, should the Islamists succeed in taking over the reigns of government, I read the following report, posted on 22 January 2009, on the Arabic-language Aafaq (Horizons) website. It detailed the news of young Algerians who have converted to Christianity as they became alienated from Islam. Here are excerpts from the report datelined Algiers:

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Some Amazigh websites have disclosed that many Algerian young people have left Islam and adopted Christianity. They confessed that they did so due to the ugliness of the crimes perpetrated by the Salafist “Da’wa and Combat Movement” against civilians. They were tremendously disappointed and disenchanted with Islam, claiming that it was responsible for nurturing these Jihadists who have been terrorizing and murdering innocent people. The website noted that the spread of Christianity in Algeria has even reached areas that were entirely under the influence of the Islamists, such as in eastern Algeria. Furthermore, the Christian expansion in the country was not due exclusively to missionary organizations, as certain Islamic groups claim. The reason is to be found in Islam itself. It has been associated in the minds of the youth with Irhab, assassinations, and crimes against innocent people. They remember that many of the crimes were committed during the 1990s, and occurred in distant villages of Algeria when young women were abducted, taken to the mountains as “captives,” gang-raped, and then killed by having their throats slit. Such horrific scenes took place in Algeria over several years and resulted in the very word “Islamic” becoming synonymous with Irhab! The report added that in Islam a woman is regarded as an enemy that must be fought with all means. She must be punished for the simplest mistake, while men go unpunished when they commit similar misdeeds. Thus, a woman is held responsible for the simplest act, and is liable to be put to death, since she is by nature a “Shaytana” i.e. a female Satan. This seriously misguided and misogynist view of women
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causes young men to worry about their own sisters, and be anxious about their future daughters as well. It went on to explain that the Irhabis who committed those awful crimes against women held to a view of Islam that took for granted that discrimination between the sexes is normal. They believe in the notion that the bed is the sole reason for a woman’s existence. In northern Algeria alone, 5,000 women were raped. This Amazigh source regards these radicals as “Allah’s guards on earth” who refuse to act as civilized human beings. The website ended its comments on the alienation of Algerian youth by stating “that as long as Islam is unable to get out of its closed circle, and evolve according to the requirements of a civil society that is open to love, tolerance, and coexistence with others, it will continue to alienate more young people. Ultimately, it is the actions of the Irhabis that have been responsible for the Christianization of more than 20,000 Algerians during the bloody and dark decade of the 1990s.”

Reporting on the same topic of conversions to Christianity that are taking place in Algeria, on 24 April, 2009, the Aafaq website posted an article with this headline: Religious Leaders in Algeria Are Demanding the Punishment of the Apostates. Here is my translation of the news item:
An Algerian policeman and his daughter have made a public confession that they have embraced Christianity. His announcement has precipitated a tremendous amount of discussions and arguments in Algeria, causing the religious authorities to demand that the police department should dismiss him from his position since he has become a Murtadd (Apostate). The policeman declared to the Algerian newspaper al-Nahar that his previous life as a Muslim was filled with anxieties and the absence of peace of mind. He added that the radical Islamist movements that had massacred women and children caused him to become fearful of
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Islam which he held responsible for the bloodshed. His life was caught up in a deep struggle that eventually led him to embrace Christianity, (intaha b’itinaqihi al-Masihiyya) that according to him, “has given me peace of mind”. As to the daughter of the policeman, she explained that the reason she embraced Christianity (min jihatiha, qalat ibnat al-shuratiy annaha ‘itanaqat al-Masihiyya) was her feeling that Islam treated women as maids and concubines, only to be sexually exploited by men. Muslim men regard women only from a physical point of view. Now, having embraced Christianity, she began to feel as a dignified human being. Her decision is final, and she does not regret it at all. The Algerian religious authority reacted swiftly by declaring that Irtidad (Apostasy) is tantamount to becoming a Kafir (Unbeliever), and thus becomes subject of capital punishment, unless an apostate repents by returning to Islam. It is estimated that there are around 10,000 Christians: most of them live in the Kabyle district of Tizi Ouzou. Some unofficial sources claim that the number of Christians in Algeria is more than 100,000; they are to be found all over the country, especially in the west of Algeria around Oran and Mostaganem. Most of these converts are young men and women. They claim that the reason that prompted them to embrace Christianity was Islam’s responsibility for murder, terror, and rape, as perpetrated by the Islamist groups who, in 1992, started their Jihad against civilians with the hope of getting closer to Allah!

It is noteworthy that both the policeman and his daughter openly confessed that they had embraced Christianity, using the Arabic word al-Masihiyya and not another Arabic term such as the Qur’anic “Nasraniyya”. The word Masihiyya is used by Arabicspeaking Christians throughout the Middle East. To embrace Christianity and publicly announce it is a courageous act of the “New Maghrebi Christians!”
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Now having reported on the phenomenon of the “New Maghrebi Christians”, I would add that we need to learn much more about the growth of the Church in North Africa since the Western media show little interest in the spread of the Gospel in Daru’l Islam.

4 Insider missiology: a western, hegemonistic construct
The information gleaned from Arabic-language sources on the phenomenon of the “New Maghrebi Christians” is extremely important. Western Christians are being told by some “missiologists” that Muslims converting to the Lord Jesus Christ need not call themselves “Masihiyyoon”; nor do they need to stop their former Islamic practices such as attending the Friday services at the mosque, or fasting during Ramadan. This novel “missionary” theory is being offered as a “quick fix” to solve the problem of the paucity of fruits in mission to Muslims. I risk being regarded as an extremely judgmental person when I describe the Insider’s missiology as a purely Western construct that manifests a radical discontinuity with the missiology of the great missionaries of the past - from St. Francis of Assisi and Raymond Lull in the Middle Ages, down to the days of the pioneers of the 19th and 20th centuries such as Henry Jessup, Cornelius Van Dyck, Eli Smith, Samuel Zwemer, and J. W. Sweetman. As an Eastern Christian who has spent most of my life bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the followers of Islam, I find it ironic that the Insider Movement, while intending to be “culturally sensitive”, becomes in the final analysis a rather imperialistic, even hegemonic effort. Yet, this attempt to sell a new genre of missionary theory is being implicitly rejected by those brave New Maghrebi Christians. Both they and those who report about them in the Arab press use the term “Masihiyyoon”, a testimony to their solidarity with other Arabic-speaking Christians, and as full members of the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”, in the words of the Nicene Creed.
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It is my fervent hope that we will pay more attention to the Biblical directives on missions, at the very time when they are being undermined by the advocates of the Insider Movement. Notwithstanding the Jewish and Gentile outright rejection of the gospel of the cross, Paul did not hesitate to proclaim: “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but for us who are being saved, it is the power of God”, (dunamis Theou estin) 1 Cor 1:18. While the basis of our salvation is the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ, its instrumental means is the kerygma, i.e., the Word of the Cross, whether it is formally preached by a minister of the Gospel, or given as a marturia (testimony) by a Christian. Paul expanded on this basic missionary doctrine in verse 21: “For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him, it pleased God, through the foolishness of the preached message (kerygmatos) to save those who believe.” Indeed, I cannot hide my joy when I hear news about the rebirth of the Christian Church in North Africa. I praise God for the boldness of these new Christians who are not ashamed of the Cross of their Savior, but place its symbol in the humble meeting rooms where they worship Him. They show in a concrete manner that they are “unashamed of the Injeel”, since it is the power of God that they experienced in their own lives when He enabled them to leave Islam and join the worldwide company of the Masihiyyoon (Christians). He will also preserve them should the Islamist forces manage to take over the lands of the Maghreb.

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SUMMARY OF THE CONTEXTUALIZATION DEBATE
BY PHIL BOURNE1 1 Introduction
The International Journal of Frontiers Missiology (IJFM) and St Francis Magazine continue to offer a variety of articles debating the pros and cons of ‘new paths in Muslim evangelism’. In the years since Phil Parshall’s book was first published (1980) there has been an explosion of new ideas and new approaches. Just getting one’s head round the terminology is a challenge. While this creative thinking is to be welcomed, it has raised a good deal of controversy. The controversy in turn asks some fundamental questions about what the gospel really implies. What is salvation? What are we saved from and what is the basis of our hope? In addition, what is the Church and what does it mean to be a member of the Church? Much of the criticism of these ‘new paths’ has come from that section of the Church who would label themselves as Reformed and Evangelical (in the traditional sense of the word). They stress the teaching of scripture as the guidebook of the Church. On the other hand, many of the ‘new approaches’ have been generated by those branches of the Church which would portray themselves as more open to the Spirit of God, bringing us into new pastures. They are ‘out of the box’ people who feel they resonate with contemporary (Western) culture more than tradition-dogged Evangelicalism. While there has been a good deal of discussion, there does not always seem to be a meeting of minds. This is hardly surprising,
1

Phil Bourne has been a missionary and research worker with Middle East Christian Outreach (MECO) from the 1970s. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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as these two camps seem to work on different visions of what the Christian faith is all about. I suspect that ultimately the controversy has very little to do with the people we are trying to reach and everything to do with who we are. This article does not seek to break new ground, but tries to identify ideas being debated and clarify the core issues in the various controversies. In some of the articles mentioned, the writers often make links between paradigms and ideas that are not central to the point they wish to make. Consequently some good ideas are condemned by association.

2 Insider Movements, the C1-C6 scale and Common Ground.
The term ‘Insider Movement’ is often closely linked with C5 communities and, more recently, the Common Ground training program. Historically it would seem that the scale C1-C6 came first. So what is it? 2.1 The C1-C6 scale Roger Dixon describes the origin of this ‘tool’:
When the C1-C6 Spectrum made its appearance in the Sundanese Muslim situation of West Java, Indonesia, it was promoted as a contextual model even though it had few of the traits normally expected of a contextual model. That was around 1990. Although it was obviously the creation of a western educated thinker, a number of workers among Muslims were fascinated by it and it was widely distributed. In 1998, a person using the pseudonym of John Travis published this spectrum as a “practical tool for defining six types of Christ-centered communities”. (Dixon 2009:4)

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Many people, when writing about the scale, do not say what C stands for. The most commonly expressed view says it means ‘Christ-centered communities’ (Travis 1998: Abdul Assad 2009: 133). The C6 category was added at a later stage. C6 refers to isolated secret believers who are not part of a church at all (Abdul Asad:124). Comment: There seems to be some uncertainty as to what the scale actually measures (Dixon, 2009: 5). Advocates of the scale argue it measures the degree to which a community is ‘contextualised’ (Parshall 1998). Dixon suggests the term ‘template’ would be a more accurate term. John Travis himself has described it as a ‘simple chart’ (Travis: 2000:53). Interestingly, those who have adopted the Insider Approach betray the same confusion. A survey made at the Fruitful Practices Consultation (see further below) showed a considerable degree of confusion about what the C-scale was seeking to measure (Gray Apr 2009:65). 2.2 Insider Movements The term ‘Insider Movement’ is of more recent origin. Rebecca Lewis describes it as:
[…] a movement of faith in Christ that remains integrated with or inside its natural community. They have two distinct elements: 1) The gospel takes root within pre-existing communities or social networks, which become the main expression of ‘church’ in that context. 2) Believers retain their identity as members of their social-religious community, while living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible” (cited Higgins 2009:75).

Higgins himself describes it as, “A growing number of families, individuals, clans and/or friendship-webs becoming faithful disciSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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ples of Jesus within the culture of their people group, including their religious culture....” (Higgins 2009:75). John Travis offers a shorter definition: “We define “Insider” as “One who embraces Jesus, yet remains as a light in his ‘oikos’ (household) so that as many as possible might be saved” (cited by Jay Smith:22). David Garrison, more neutrally, describes it as, “a popular movement to Christ that bypasses formal and explicit expressions of the Christian religion”. (Cited Jay Smith:23). Although the term is new, the core idea goes back to Phil Parshall (1980:175). Some individuals and groups have adopted the ‘Insider’ approach as a deliberate strategy for evangelizing Muslims. They would advise those who profess faith in Christ, at least initially, to continue to attend the mosque and retain Muslim formats of worship. (See William Steele 2009:127). Some insider approaches would go further, suggesting that one could remain a Muslim Believer in Christ without formally breaking with Islam. At the extreme end of the spectrum we have those, like Muzhar Mallouhi, who would describe themselves as Muslim followers of Christ. (Chandler 2008). Comment: Behind these definitions is the assumption that ‘religion’ is only a cultural construct and therefore ephemeral in nature. In other words it is only a set of rituals/cultural activities and in practicing them one is not giving assent to another ‘Lord’. Put this way, such activity does not seem to square with the perspective of scripture, which is hostile to any other organized religion that denies the Lordship of YHWH alone. 2.3 Common Ground Training This is a series of conferences/consultations that seeks to promote Insider Movements. ‘Phil’ says it is sponsored by The Navigators (Phil 2009:123, note 26), but I have been unable to verify this. The movement is critically described in three articles in St Francis
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Magazine: Jay Smith gives his impressions of a meeting in Atlanta Jordan (Smith: 2009) and John and Anne Stan report on their participation in what appears to be the same meeting (Stan: 2009). William Steele’s comments (Steele 2009) on the Insider Movement also seem to stem from this same meeting. 2.4 Evangelism as transformation of existing social networks The concept of transforming existing social networks is explained in two articles in the January and April 2009 issues of the IJFM (Gray 2009). The Grays’ remarks arose from an in-depth survey made at the Fruitful Practices Consultation, held in the spring of 2008 (Allen: 2008). This broadens the strategy of the Insider Movement approach by focusing on networks other than religious ones. Any social network will do - family, professional guild, club, etc. - the aim being to help people stay connected so that they can reach others for Christ. Comment: This broadening of the paradigm is to be welcomed, in that it gets away from the ambiguity caused by trying to appear to be a Muslim. Yes, where possible, it is important for people to remain within their families and within their communities. But this is not always realistic. In societies that take ‘faith’ seriously - and I would suggest that on the whole modern Western Culture does not - changing religion will always be problematic. Nor have we entirely escaped these issues in the West. For example, what is our attitude to membership of Masonic Lodges? Is this a religion or just a club? For many the jury is still out on this one. If it is more than just a club then the danger is that it compromises one’s loyalty to Christ. I would err on the side of caution. Similarly in many Muslim societies, trade guilds can be linked to Islam, or one specific expression of it, like Sufism. How to you reconcile this with the Christian faith? What does continued membership imply?
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What is interesting about the survey is that it again focuses on what works rather than what is true/truthful. Where the two do not conflict there is much of value to be learned.

3 Other paradigms and methods
In addition to the specific issue of Insider-C5 ministries a number of other peripheral ideas, methodologies and motifs have been brought into the discussion. While proponents of these may not necessarily advocate Insider Approaches, it would be good to mention them so we are clear where they fit in. The following is not intended to be a comprehensive list. I have included only things that were alluded to in the context of the above discussion. There is no significance in the order. Messianic Muslims Use of appropriate vocabulary Camel Training Method Use of Story Telling The Seven Signs The Emerging Church movement Fuzzy Set Theory 3.1 Messianic Muslims The term ‘Messianic Muslims’ consciously parallels the term Messianic Jew. The latter are Christian believers from a Jewish background, who have now recognized that Jesus is the expected Messiah. Comment: The parallelism is based on a false analogy. The Jews, as the ancient people of God, possess the authentic scripture in what we call the Old Testament. The Messianic Jews have not
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abandoned their own scriptures, but now understand the Christ is the fulfillment of all that was promised. (See Nikides: 2009:101, who emphasizes the covenantal connection between Israel in the Old Testament and the Church.) The Qur’an of the Muslims is not equivalent to the Old Testament. In fact many would argue that it deliberately sets out to deny key points of the Christian gospel. Whatever common ground we may possess with Muslims, it is very limited in comparison with the commonality of the entire Old Testament. 3.2 The use of appropriate vocabulary both in conversation and Bible translation The need to translate the scriptures has been central to the JudeoChristian faith from the time the Jews returned to the land under Ezra and Nehemiah. In the post-exilic period Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the language of the people, and even some parts of the Old Testament were written in Aramaic rather than Hebrew. With the growing number of proselytes, the Jews needed a Greek version of the Old Testament. Christianity inherited this openness to translation and, in spite of the sometimes daunting task of rendering the idiom of the Greek and Hebrew into new languages, scholars set to the task with skill and diligence. The work of the various Bible Societies continues this same tradition: only now we have bigger tool boxes and more sophisticated instruments. Comment: April’s edition of IJFM contains two articles on the need to translate. Rick Brown urges upon us, again, the need to use appropriate vocabulary (Brown: 2009). I would agree that if using Muslim names for the prophets makes comprehension easier, then why not? As far as I can see this involves no theological compromise. Even the term ‛Isa, whose origin is obscure, poses no
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real threat. It does miss, however, the significant allusion in the name Yasu‛ to the one who saves us. However, when we come to use words like Father and Son we need to exercise caution. The Father-Son language is so deeply integrated into the way the Gospel is told, it is hard to see how one can abandon it. See for example Paul’s citation of Ps 2:7 in Acts 13:33. Rick Brown has argued elsewhere that the Arabic term Ibn implies a physical relationship not present in other Middle Eastern languages. But is that really true? The citation in Acts 13:33 would it seems take us beyond mere metaphor. How we resolve this issue will take some imagination. 3.3 The Camel training method This is a training program for those seeking to reach Muslims for Christ. It was developed in South East Asia and advocates a radical contextualization approach. It uses passages from the Qur’an as a bridge to sharing the gospel and recommends the use of Muslim terminology. They found, however, that it was better to be more flexible on issues such as dress, but nonetheless would aim to identify as closely as possible with the people they are seeking to reach. In the context in which the ‘method’ was evolved, they found that the existing churches were not interested in reaching Muslims and so they discourage taking new believers to traditional churches: “Do not bring new Muslim-background believers into existing traditional churches.” (Camel Training Manuel:25). The approach was developed with the encouragement of the International Missions Board of the Southern Baptists. (Phil (anon):123 note 26). The term CAMEL stands for “Chosen, Announcement, Miracles, Eternal Life.” The approach is set out in the Camel Training Manual, produced by Kevin Greeson but authored by a number of people. (Published by WIGtake Resources). The initial aim is to find a
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‘Person of Peace’ who is receptive to the message - Lk 10:6-8. They use Sūra 3:42-55 to gauge a person’s reaction to the Christian message. Other key passages used are 20:121, 10:94, 46:9 and, 4:136 (attitude to Muhammad). They use 6:115f, 5:65-66 as a bridge to the Bible. These are supplemented by key Biblical texts. The manual also deals with the question of visions of angels and dreams. The plan of salvation is explained in terms of korbani: sacrifice. Comment: Again the emphasis was on technique. It was rather like one of those leaflets you get with IKEA furniture. It is okay if you have all the right parts, but if something is missing the whole enterprise falls to the ground. Real life is more like the latter, and I don’t think we can take a ‘one-size fits all approach’. 3.4 The use of story telling to communicate the gospel Jesus used stories to get his message across and in many cultures the use of stories is a good way to communicate information and ideas. Westerners, who tend to be more ‘idea’ orientated, need more encouragement than most to tell stories. In recent years there has been a number of people who have developed the art of story telling as a means of communicating the gospel. One particular ‘methodology’ is known as Chronological Story Telling. Some advocates have sought to develop this sort of approach within Muslim contexts and their ideas are generally helpful. 3.5 The Seven Signs The Seven Signs is a tool which uses the Qur’an to present the gospel to Muslims. It uses seven key passages in the Qur’an which are said to point to the uniqueness of Christ. (Jay Smith:27). I have not been able to find more information on this.
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3.6 The Seven Muslim-Christian Principles This was a tool for evangelism evolved by Fuad Accad (Bible Society), which used verses in the Qur’an as a platform for sharing the Christian faith. This is more fully explained in Accad’s later book, Building Bridges (1997). This methodology was used extensively by the Navigators in the Middle East in the 1970’s and 1980’s. 3.7 The Emerging/Emergent Church movement What is the Emerging Church? Wikipedia describes the emerging church as follows:
The emerging church is a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries: participants can be described as evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal, post-liberal, charismatic, neocharismatic and post-charismatic. Participants seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a "postmodern" society. Proponents of this movement call it a "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature, its vast range of standpoints and its commitment to dialogue. What those involved in the conversation mostly agree on is their disillusionment with the organized and institutional church and their support for the deconstruction of modern Christian worship, modern evangelism, and the nature of modern Christian community.

A more nuanced and sympathetic description is given by Scot McKnight in Christianity Today.2 ‘Emerging catches into one term the global reshaping of how to “do church” in postmodern culture. It has no central offices, and it is as varied as evangelicalism itself.’ (McKnight: p1). He describes Emerging Church under five headings:
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www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/february/11.35.html. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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• • •

• •

It is Prophetic (or at least provocative) [It believes the Church needs to change.] It is Postmodern. It is Praxis Orientated. [While in modes of worship it can be flexible, in moral behavior it advocates orthopraxis: right behavior. That doesn’t sound all that different from good old-fashioned Evangelicalism.] It is Post-evangelical. It is Political. [McKnight’s last point seems to be directed at some American Evangelicals: we don’t do politics, but we vote Republican!]

McKnight would want to distinguish the ‘Emerging Church’, as a movement, from the ‘Emergent Village’, which is a particular institutional expression of that movement in the USA. Not everything the latter does is true of the whole movement. In the last two or three decades there has been a lot of debate about ‘how to do church’, with a variety of approaches, some of which are quite radical. There have been a string of books advocating radical new approaches - for example: Church Without Walls, Jim Petersen, 1992, Navpress, and Houses that Changed the World, Wolfgang Simson, 2001. Comment: I have included this here as John Span describes the Insider Movement as “philosophically close to the emergent church movement”. (Span:55). Such an understanding of ‘Church’, he argues, challenges the traditional view the Church as something instituted by Christ. Church is not simply something ‘one does’. Rather the Church is something of which we become a part when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior. What actually goes on when the Church meets might be very varied, but it is more than just a collection of believers. It is a community whose focus on Jesus enables them to speak and act on his behalf. This conception of the
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‘Church’ is evidently ‘far too heavy’ for a postmodernist and in urgent need of deconstruction! I would not share Scot McKnight’s enthusiasm for Postmoderism. Postmodernism is the philosophical underpinning of Postmodernity. We certainly have to engage with Postmodernity as, for Westerners at least, it describes much of the culture in which we find ourselves. But that does not mean that we have to “swallow” it. Vanhoozer’s critique of Stanley Fish was hardly an endorsement of Postmodernism! I cannot see in what sense he had ‘swallowed’ it! (See the article for the context of this remark and K. Vanhoozer, Is there a Meaning in the Text, 2009.) I can well understand John Span’s concern here. A good and useful word (Evangelicalism) has been redefined by the modern world and so now we cannot use it to mean what it once meant: Evangelicals used to be those who believed in the authority of scripture. So what is the Emerging Churches’ attitude to the Bible? Do they believe it is the authoritative word of God, or do they believe like Stanley Fish there is no such thing as a ‘text’? (Vanhoozer, op cit). These are not trivial issues. The relevance of the Emerging Church to the debate over new approaches to Muslim evangelism is that many of those in the West who are sympathetic to the Emerging Church perspective bring their postmodern baggage with them when they discuss Muslim Evangelism. But neither should we bring our conservative Western baggage when discussing the Church . The value of John Span’s approach is that he aims to ground their view of the Church in the teaching of scripture, rather than in some culturally specific model. Clearly there is a variety of views. But in most, if not all Muslim contexts, being identified with the Church - however it is defined - is a costly and serious commitment. In communities where one can be deemed guilty by association we should be more upfront in our recognition of the consequences. Do we really believe that Jesus is worth it?
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3.7 Fuzzy Sets Fuzzy or Unbounded Set Theory is a branch of Mathematics developed in 1965 by Lotfi A. Zadeh, an Egyptian mathematician. Instead of defining sets in term of a boundary - what is in and what is out - fuzzy sets are defined in terms of ‘grade of membership’. This has been found a useful tool in various branches of management and sociology. Some articles on Muslim evangelism have referred to this (for example: Gray 2009:26.2 p69). But as yet I have not seen any serious development of this to show how this set-theory can be used as a meaningful measurement of anything connected with mission. The Engel Scale was a far more useful tool in this regard. Some studies have shown how using different media is more helpful to individuals at different stages on the Engel scale. This has practical implications for how one uses media in evangelism.

4 Concluding remarks: The role of anthropological insights in developing our strategies for mission
Higgins asks (Higgins 2009:81f), “Can we separate religion and culture?” On the basis that some languages do not have a word for religion, he suggests that we cannot. But, he goes on to argue, we should be able to distinguish them. Cultural Anthropology is a relatively new discipline. It emerged from a growing awareness in the latter part of the 19th century that societies are different and those differences need to be explained (See Charles Taber:1991). Humans may all share a common biological origin, but somewhere along the way people have become very diverse, and that diversity has become a barrier to communication. It is not simply a matter of language; people think differently. What one society regarded as a conclusive argument, another society sees as irrelevant. The growing evidence
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for this often came from missionaries in their descriptions of peoples in other parts of the world. Eventually this data was assimilated and sifted by the academics into manageable chunks - the very process itself based on deeply held cultural assumptions. Among the great unresolved dilemmas of anthropology is the collection of phenomena we label ‘religion’. Is it an aspect of culture; or does it, in some sense, transcend culture? Durkheim, considered by some to be the father of modern anthropology, sought to explain religion in functional terms - what function does it serve? This makes religion to be simply one aspect of culture. This was very different from the classical view that held that religion referred to some transcendent reality: it was a meta-narrative (Taber 1991:179ff). Taber suggests that missiologists have become polarized into two camps. One camp maintains a classical perspective that regards all religions, other than Christianity, as bad. The other camp takes an increasingly flexible view. (In this context Taber contrasts the views of Karl Barth and Hendrik Kraemer with those of John Hick, Paul Knitter and Wilfred Cantwell Smith.) He reflects, “But it seems to me that both extremes in this polarization take far too many unexamined a prioris for granted, so their ability to assess empirical evidence is severely impaired. And they tend to think of each religion ... as monolithically susceptible to generalized evaluation.” That may be, but I think those who emphasize the priority of the revelation as given in the Bible would not agree with Taber’s conclusion that: “Each religion, including empirical Christianity, is an institutionalized response to whatever light of divine selfdisclosure is available.” (Taber 1991:185). This is reflected in Bill Nikides argument that Kevin Higgins treats the church as merely a social structure: “Again the author’s work is shot through with the idea that ‘church’ and ‘religion’ are subsets of larger cultural constructs.” (Nikides 2009:94).

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Comment: From a theological point of view this criticism carries weight. But in our discussion we need to be careful to distinguish the Church as the Bride of Christ and its human expression in the present world. In the latter sense, the Church is quite evidently culturally diverse, but that does not mean that it does not witness to a transcendent body of truth as revealed to us by God. The problem is that we confuse that revelation with a human construct called culture, and like most human constructs it can at times get in the way of what God is trying to say to us. ‘Religion’ as expressed in human culture is not neutral and must be redeemed or discarded. It strikes me that in this whole debate we have been far too optimistic in our assessment of what can be redeemed. In our dealing with other faiths is it right that we treat them as if they were on a par with the ‘Christian’ faith? From a modern, Western cultural point of view it would seem to be the less arrogant thing to do. But then, suddenly, our calling to proclaim what is true is subverted by our post-modernist culture which rejects all meta-narratives as equally false. It is this, surely, that is the nub of debate between the two camps. God (YHWH) is not like the gods of the nations; he transcends culture and is uniquely God. Those who follow him find their true destiny. Seen in this light, Higgins’ argument that God is at work in other religions is a claim that should be treated with care. Higgins cites a number of Biblical examples - Melchizedek, Balaam, the Magi, etc. But that these are examples of God working through other religions is not immediately apparent. Compare Nikides’ longer and more careful assessment of these passages (Nikides: 2009:102-110). Likewise, I think John Span’s comments on the Common Ground Consultation are cogent and to the point. They correctly identify the drift into postmodernist thinking in some of the attitudes and ideas being presented. Yes, in places, the Common Ground people offer good advice and make pertinent comments.
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But their lack of theological grounding leads to some very silly statements as well. Their critics are quick to pick on these. A consequence of this disjunction between Biblical authority and contemporary Western culture is the emphasis on technique what works is good. John Span sees this emphasis on pragmatism as misplaced (Span 2009:56,65). While what works is not necessarily bad, the danger comes when we make it the only criteria for action. I appreciate that many of the participants in this consultation do not share the Reformed background of their critics. But our reading of the Scriptures is fundamental to the whole discussion. It is quite clear that for many in the Emerging Church movement, Postmodernity is to be welcomed. But in doing this they seem to be unaware of the frailty of its philosophical underpinning, Postmodernism. It is we, not are forebears, who have feet of clay. If we do not recognize the Bible as the ultimate authority in matters of doctrine and practice then on what do we base our salvation? We are back into the muddy waters of cultural relativism and the false dawn of man-made solutions. The LORD (YHWH) alone is God.

Bibliography
Many of the articles are available on-line. The International Journal of Frontier Missiology www.ijfm.org and Mission Frontiers www.missionfrontiers.org, are free downloads. Other journals require a current subscription, for example the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, www.emisdirect.com.

1. Contextualization
Fouad Elias Accad, Building Bridges, 1997, Navpress
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Eric Adams, Don Allen and Bob Fish, Seven themes of Fruitfulness, 2009, IJFM, 26.2 Don Allen, Fruitful Practices, 2008, Mission Frontiers, July 2008, www.missionfrontiers.org/pdf/2008/04/200804.htm Abdul Asad: Rethinking the Insider Movement Debate: GlobalHistorical Insights Towards an Appropriate Transitional Model of C5. 2009: St Francis Magazine, Aug 2009 Gary Corwin: Insider Movements and Outsider Theology, 2006, EMQ, Jan 2006 Gary Corwin: A Humble Appeal to C5/insider Movement Muslim Ministry Advocates to Consider Ten Questions, 2007, IJFM, 24.1 Gary Corwin: Issues of Identity in a Muslim Context: Common Ground? 2007, EMQ, 24.1 Paul-Gordon Chandler, Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road: Exploring a New Path Between Two Faiths. About life and pilgrimage of Mazhar Mallouhi, 2008, Rowan and Littlefield, Lanham MD. Ishtiyaq Danish: Contextualisation: A New Missionary Approach to Muslims, nd, al-Tawhid 5.3 & 5.4 Roger L Dixon: The Major Model of Muslim Ministry, 2002, Missiology: An International Review, XXX.4 (Oct), 443-454. Roger Dixon, Identity Theft: Retheologizing the Son of God 2007, EMQ, 43.2 Roger L Dixon: Moving on from the C1-C6 Spectrum, 2009, St Francis Magazine, Aug 2009 Bernard Dutch: Should Muslims Become Christians? 2000, IJFM 17.1 pp15-24
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Don Eenigenburg, The Pros and Cons of Islamicized Contextualisation, 1997, EMQ, Fredrick W Evans Jr, A Statement of Missionary Concern, 1985, at a Caucus on Biblically informed Missions, http://levant.info/MER026.html David Garrison, Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World, 2004, WIG Take Resources Ron George, Issues and Insights into Church Planting in the Muslim World, 2000, WIN Press Dean S Gilliland: The Word Among Us: Contextualising Theology, 1989, Word Basil Grafas: Evaluation of Scriptural Support for Insider Movements: Critique of John Ridgeway’s “The Movement of the Gospel in New Testament Times with special reference to Insider movements”, 2007, St Francis Magazine, Mar 2007 Basil Grafas: Insider Movements: An Evangelical Assessment, 2006, Ejournal of the Mission of the World, (Aug), www.mtw.org Andrea and Leif Gray: Paradigms and Praxcis: Why Are Some Workers Changing Paradigms?, 2009, IJFM in two parts, 26.1 & 26.2 Paul Hiebert: Cultural Anthropology, 1982, Baker Book House Paul Hiebert: Critical Contextualisation, 1987, IBMR 11.3, pp104-111 Paul Hiebert, Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues, 1994, Baker Books Kevin Higgins: The Key to Insider Movements: The ‘Devoted’ of Acts, 2004, IJFM 21.4, p155ff.

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Kevin Higgins: Identity, Integrity and Insider Movements: A brief Paper Inspired by Timothy C Tennant’s Critique of C5 Thinking, 2006 IJFM 23.6. Kevin Higgins: Inside What? Church, Culture, Religion and Insider Movements in Biblical Perspective, 2009, St Francis Magazine, Apr 2009. Kraft, Charles: Anthropology for Christian Witness, 1996, Orbis Kraft, Charles: Appropriate Christianity, 2005,William Carey Library Louis J Luzbetak SVD: The Church and Culture, 1988, Orbis, revised edition Bassam Madany: Re-Thinking Missions Today: Neo-Evangelical Missiology and the Christian Mission to Islam, 1985 at a Caucus on Biblically informed Missions, http://levant.info/MER027.html Annemarie de Wall Malefijt, Religion and Culture, 1968, Macmillan Joshua Massey: His Ways are not Our Ways, 1999, EMQ 35.2 (Apr) Joshua Massey: God’s Amazing Diversity in Drawing Muslims to Christ, 2000, IJFM 17.1 Joshua Massey: Misunderstanding C5: His Ways Are Not Our Orthodoxy, 2004, EMQ, 40.3 (Jul). My copy of this article gives the title as ‘Misunderstanding C5 and the Infinite Translatability of Christ’: Was it re-written? Bill Nikides: Evaluating ‘Insider Movements’: C5 (Messianic Muslims), 2006: St Francis Magazine, Mar 2006 Bill Nikides: A Response to Kevin Higgins “Inside What...?”, 2009, St Francis Magazine, Aug 2009.

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Phil [Anon]: A Response to Kevin Higgins “Inside What...?”, 2009, St Francis Magazine, Aug 2009 Phil Parshall: New Paths in Muslim Evangelism, 1980, Baker Book House Phil Parshall: Danger! New Directions in Contextualisation, EMQ Oct 1998 Phil Parshall: Muslim Evangelism: Contemporary Approaches to Contextualization, 2003, Gabriel Publishing. Waynesboro, GA. Phil Parshall: Lifting the Fatwa, 2004, EMQ 40.3 (July) Phil Parshall: Camel Training Manual, EMQ 2005 Barry Peters: When Culture Gets in the Way of the Gospel: Western Christian Missionaries meet Arab Muslims, St Francis Magazine, Jun 2006. Nabeel Jabbour: Unshackled and Growing - Muslims and Christians on the Journey to Freedom, 2006, Dawson Media, Colorado Springs. John Piper: Minimizing the Bible? Seeker-Driven Pastors and Radical Contextualization in Missions, 2005, www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/200 5/1308_Minimizing_the_Bible John Piper: An Extended Conversation About Insider Movements: Responses to the Sept-Oct 2005 Mission Frontiers, 2006: Mission Frontiers (Jan) Lamin Sanneh: Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, 1991, Orbis Sam Schlorff, The Translation Model for Mission in Resistant Muslim Society, 2000, Missiology, No 28

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Daniel Shaw and Charles Van Engen, Communicating God’s Word in a Complex World, 2003, Rowan and Littlefield, Boulder, CO Perry Shaw: Decontextualization - A Much Neglected Element of Mission, 2009, EMQ, Apr 2009 Jay Smith: An Assessment of the Insider’s Principle Paradigms 2009, St Francis Magazine, Aug 2009. Also published on Answering Islam Website John & Anne Span: Report on the Common Ground Consultation Meeting, 2009, St Francis Magazine, Aug 2009 William Steele: The Insider Movement as a Strategy for Evangelizing Muslims, 2009, St Francis Magazine, Aug 2009 John Stringer: Contextualization: Transformational Trialogue, 2007, St Francis Magazine, Jun 2007 Charles R Taber: The World is too Much with Us, 1991, Mercer Univ. Press Timothy Tennent, Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, 2002, Baker Books Timothy Tennent, C5 Followers of Jesus (Isa) in Islamic Mosques: A Closer Examination of C5 (High spectrum) Contextualisation, 2006, IJFM, 24.1 John Travis: The C1 to C6 Spectrum: A Practical Guide for Defining Six Types of ‘Christ-Centred Communities (‘C’) Formed in Muslim Contexts, 1998, EMQ 34.1 John Travis: Must all Muslims leave Islam to follow Jesus?, 1998, EMQ 34.4, (Oct) pp 411-415.

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John and Anna Travis: Contextualization Among Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists: A Focus on Insider Movements, 2005 Mission Frontiers Sept 2005 John and Anna Travis: Appropriate Approaches in Muslim Contexts, in Appropriate Christianity, ed. Charles E Kraft, 2005, William Carey Library, pp397-414. John Travis: Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C5 Believers and Congregations, 2000 IJFM 17.1 Van Engen: The Uniqueness of Christ is Mission Theology in E Rommen & H Netland, Christianity and Religions, 1995, William Carey. Mark Williams, Aspects of High-Spectrum Contextualisation in Ministries to Muslims, 2004, Journal of Asian Mission, 5.1, pp75-91 Scott Woods, A Biblical Look at C5 Muslim Evangelism, 2003, EMQ, Apr 2003

2. Translation Issues
Rick Brown: Like Bright Sunlight: The Benefits of Communicating the Heart Language, 2009, IJFM, Aug 2009 D A Carson: The Limits of Dynamic Equivalence in Bible Translation, 1985, Evangelical Review of Theology, No 9.3, Jul 1985 pp 200213 T Wayne Dye: The Eight Conditions of Scripture Engagement, 2009, IJFM, Aug 2009 Basil Grafas: A Few Thoughts Made While Crossing a Minefield, 2009, St Francis Magazine, (Aug)
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Bassam Madany, The Translation of the Bible into Arabic: Preliminary Remarks, 2005, St Francis Magazine, Sept 2005. Bill Nikides: Special Translations of the Bible for Muslims? Contemporary Trends in Evangelical Mission, 2006, St Francis Magazine, Mar 2006 Imad Shehadeh: Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the Same God, 2004, Bibliotheca Sacra, 161:641 (Jan)

3. Emergent Church
D A Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, 2005, Zondervan Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, 2005, Baker Academic Herbert Hoefer, Churchless Christianity, 2001, William Carey Library Scot McKnight, Five Streams of the Emerging Church, 2007: Christianity Today, February 2007, Vol. 51, No. 2 Brain McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 2004, Zondervan Michael Wittmer, Don’t Stop Believing: A Theological Critique of the Emergent Church www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/michaelwittmer.pdf

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THE CONVERSION NARRATIVE OF SAMIRA: FROM SHI’A ISLAM TO MARY, HER CHURCH, AND HER SON
BY DUANE ALEXANDER MILLER1 1 Introduction
Samira and I first met at an NT Wright conference in San Antonio, Texas in 2007. I had mentioned to someone else at the table where I was sitting that I was, at that time, living in the Middle East. Later I was introduced to Samira who mentioned that she had been born into a Muslim family. I had read a little on apostasy (ridda) at that time, but it was well before I started my doctoral work which centers on what I call Islamic Christianity, which I have described elsewhere:
The placing together of [these] two words - two words which have often been seen as exclusive of each other - is unsettling to many people. Yet recent decades have seen a genuine and substantial, if numerically minute, growth of individuals and indeed communities that have allegiances to both ways of life. It is also important to specify what I am not purposing to do: I am not intent on making a verdict regarding whether different forms of Islamic Christianity are legitimate forms of Islam or Christianity, or some syncretistic tertia quid. (Miller 2009: 4)

Samira and I stayed in touch by e-mail from time to time. After I had learned more about conversion from and within Islam to the Christ of the Gospels, I recalled the bare outlines of her conversion
1

Mr. Miller spends time in Nazareth and Edinburgh. He can be reached at alex.miller@nazarethseminary.org. His area of research is Islamic Christianity. He is married with two children. If you are a Christian and ex-Muslim, or a Muslim follower of Jesus he would be happy to hear from you. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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narrative and how it seemed, in numerous ways, unique. Whereupon I e-mailed her requesting a phone interview which she agreed to; that interview was carried out in July of 2009. Much of what I present here is in terms of extensive, verbatim quotes2. I did not have a list of questions to ask when we started, so the flow was very conversational.

2 Interview
2.1 St. Mary in Iran and the Church in Dallas: conversion and initiation DAM: What was your first exposure to Christianity or Jesus or the Bible or any of those things? Samira: Well, my first exposure was when I was six and had a vision of the Virgin Mary. And at the time I didn’t know who Mary was or who Jesus was or who Muslims were—I didn’t know anything about anything. I was in a mountain place; it was dark, I fell and I couldn’t get up. And there was this huge rock; this lady came from behind the rock: she was all in white, and she held my hand and picked me up and said that she was Mary. And when she held my hand something stayed with me and I just loved her and I asked my mother who she was, and she said she was the mother of Prophet Jesus, as Muslims knew her. And I just knew since then that I wanted to be where she was, which was the church. And then when I was nine I learned about St Bernadette; there was a movie called The Song of Bernadette and that is when I received my calling into ministry because I knew that my life belonged to the church. And that was the place to go to [inaudible]. And the interesting
2

I have removed the occasional “ahhh”, “mmm” or “you know.” That is all. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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[thing] about that is I didn’t know anything about Jesus and—or the Bible. It was all the love of the church through the Virgin Mary. And then after we left Iran and came to the US, eventually— And how old were you when that happened? When which happened? When you guys left Iran. I was 23. OK And before that, when I learned about St Bernadette and received my calling, I wanted to become a nun because in Iran all you know about is the Catholic Church, um, and that was the only way I knew how to belong to the church. I asked my mother and she went and talked to—there was a little teeny tiny convent left from the Second World War in Iran, and she went and she talked to the few, old nuns that were living there. But they didn’t accept me because they were afraid that the government would cause them problems. And—so that didn’t happen and eventually I got married and we left Iran and that’s when I was 23. We came to Dallas and started going to church—to a Baptist church because that is how I got—the friend that I had here who invited me to the church was Baptist. So I started going there and after six months I was baptized and it was immediately home. And that is how I came to Chris—to become a Christian. (7:20) You said something very curious early on which is not very common in—in conversion narratives, which is that your initial attraction was through the Virgin and through devotion to the Church and through love of the Church. Now both of those concepts don’t fit in very well with the Baptistic understanding
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of the Christian faith. What was that like, starting to go to a Baptist church? […] Did it feel different? I mean, what was that like? Yeah, that is something I have [to] talk about. I…I was baptized, and even when I was baptized I was not fully aware of…you know issues like, say, for example, for me was a loving, trusting God—it was not an abstract belief in one idea. And that faith, and that trust in God have come to…to grow in me because of the experiences I had with God throughout our journey and you know, when we fled from Iran. But it was the Church for me—at that time I didn’t know the differences between the churches. I was—I was fully new because I didn’t know anything about Christianity when I got here [the USA] except that I loved the Church and I loved the Blessed Virgin and I—that I would be where she was and […] that, you know, that would be my life: the Church, the life of the Church. But I didn’t know the differences between […] the Baptist churches and the Catholic Church. I didn’t know anything about that. [Talking over each other, I say go ahead, she says, no you go ahead] I’m wondering what did the Baptist church do in terms of preparing you for baptism? Did they have any—where there people there who knew about Persian culture and history or who knew about Islam? Or was it just, you know, the same thing they did for everybody? No, they didn’t know anything—they didn’t know much about Islam or the Persian culture. And I talked to my pastor and I told him I loved Christianity and I believe in Jesus, you know, as my savior and he talked to me and I told him about the vision and all that and he baptized me. But uh, I knew something was off. And, so when I started seminary—well I knew something
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was off even before I started seminary, sorry. That was when we had the Lord’s Supper which Baptists do—which this particular Baptist church does every once a month. Every time we had that I would tell my pastor, you know I cannot believe this is just…symbolic; there is more, I’m experiencing more; it’s more powerful. And, he would say, it’s just your mystical upbringing, you know. Or when I would say—whenever he would have people that were not ordained to administer the sacrament and every time that he would do that we would get into an argument afterwards. I would say, you know you cannot do that. Even though I had no training whatsoever, I would say, this is wrong, you know: someone who is not ordained should not be doing this! It’s…it’s sacrilegious, it’s unholy. So, then I start going to seminary and…the second year I came to realize I could not be a Baptist anymore. The difference between ontological priesthood and functional ministry was so huge, and I could not be a minister in the sense that Baptists wanted me to be, you know. And the sacraments—those were completely absent. And so […] that’s my experience of Baptist church. Great…I’m just finishing a couple of notes here…you’ve said a lot of interesting things here. [Pause.] Tell me a little about your—you said, of course, you had been interested in possibly becoming a nun when you were a little girl and that didn’t work out for—because the convent in Iran was afraid of possibly being punished by the government which, I think, probably would have happened. Let me ask you about…getting married. Where did you meet your husband? And he is also from…somewhere in Asia or is he an American guy or something else? Well, my ex-husband, he was Iranian: he was a Sunni Muslim. And I was a Shi’a and he was a Sunni and he was very religSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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ious: his family were extremely religious. And…let’s see, we got married when I was 15, and he was older than I; he was 23. I was 15. And he fell in love with me and he—you know, he was so religious he could not be with someone without being married to them. And that was […] the right way to do it—to be with […] the person you love in that culture. Anyway…and my family was against it and eventually he talked to my father and eventually he promised I could study as long as I want: you know, go to school as long as I want. And, you know eventually we got married. […] 2.2 Conversion, belonging, and the nature of the Christian gospel When you first started learning about Jesus and how he’s portrayed in the Gospels, did you ever have a time when you went back to the Qur’an and said, you know, I know that Jesus and Mary, these are figures in the Qur’an, you know, let me figure out what the Qur’an says about these people? Or did that not happen? No, well I grew up in a religious community and I was always interested in God. God was always the most interesting person for me. I was obsessed with him in a sense so even as a Muslim and even though I know that I would be at a church I would still […] pray my prayers. I would…memorize the Qur’an. […] So I read the Qur’an, and it is part of the curriculum at the school. We had every day, we had two hours of religious studies. So I had learned about who Jesus was to Muslims and who Mary was to Muslims. Which— […] you know how they think about that3. And…but when I started going to church here, no,
3

The interviewee was aware of my knowledge of Islam, and the tone of the comment was not, in my mind, derogatory. It was a simple way of acknowledging St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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I never went back, I never […] paused. I mean, it was a sure thing for me. It was…it was not the knowledge of Jesus, it was the love of the Church, and that was the body of Christ. You know, and it was never something intellectual for me. [Silence.] After this I asked about her sense of belonging as a convert. She told me about her initial experience at the Baptist church and she makes the comment that American evangelicals are very friendly “as long as they don’t have to share their life with you.” The people at her Sunday school got together for dinners and gatherings on a regular basis, but she never was invited even though the Americans knew she and her husband had no family or friends in the country. After this she nevertheless repeats, “but they were nice to us…but then they would not want to share their lives with us”. She explains how odd it was not to be invited to anyone’s home since, in Iran, this is a very basic and usual step in welcoming a new person or family to an area. (I have spent most of the last four years in the Arab world and during a recent sojourn in the US I was struck by how everyone will eat with us at a restaurant and even foot the bill, but not invite us to their homes.) “In the Middle East if you are a stranger in town, people do not let you be alone!” Samira was eventually on the missions committee of her church, a group of mostly laity who coordinate the missionary budget and work of the congregation, and she came to the conclusion that “they do missions for the wrong reason…out of selfrighteousness”. She described a church that was concerned and devoted to sharing a message about Jesus, but not willing to allow personal, sacrificial relations to be part of that communication. She gives an example of a minister friend of hers who had a Pakithat she knew that I knew the Islamic understanding of Messiah and his blessed mother, Mary. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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stani neighbor of 13 years and had never been to his house, and had never invited him over to his own home, “but he was going on mission trips!” There is a clear irony here according to Samira’s understanding of the nature of the Gospel message. Merely communicating a message about salvation in terms of knowledge and belief is an incomplete or even insincere communication of the Gospel. There is a relational, sacrificial aspect that must be present. She concludes with this strong statement regarding American evangelicals: “They do not evangelize or do mission work because they are transformed by the love of God…it’s not about loving your neighbor for them, it’s about we are right, you are wrong.” I mentioned that she had a number of influences here: the Catholic convent in Iran, the Baptist church in Dallas. How did she end up becoming part of the Episcopal Church? She started seminary as a Baptist, and it was during those studies (for an MDiv) that she became convinced she could not longer be a Baptist. She describes the difficulty in leaving the Baptist church in Dallas, recalling that, “they were there for us through...so many things. And I was completely at home after a few years… people trusted me and they cared for us…they had been there for us through everything.” But in the second year of seminary “I just couldn’t do it.” She agonized for five months over the decision, and says it was like “leaving my country all over again.” She started going to the Anglican Church and it had everything she was looking for: “the sacraments, the priesthood—everything.” She became Anglican (Episcopalian, in the USA). She left the Baptist church with the blessing of her pastor and they are still good friends. She is presently ministering in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas at the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew. I then asked about her impression of the Muslim world today. Her answer is measured. I was actually wondering more about the political and human rights situation in Dar al Islam, but she proceeded to speak of Islam in terms of what people ask her. Is it a true religion? “I don’t know.” She points out that under
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Muhammad there were positive changed in Arab culture, but “was Muhammad the Son of God? No.” “Could he have been a prophet? Well, I don’t know, I wasn’t there.” “I just know who Jesus is and what he has done and I think that there is no need to go further, to want to prove them wrong.” Nevertheless, we should love them and share the Gospel with Muslims in word and deed. So a non-confrontational approach does not mean that Christians should not intentionally share the Gospel with Muslims. She goes on to wonder about why her own church, The Episcopal Church, is not more effective in missions. Why is it that the evangelicals are so energized for this work while her own church which has so many spiritual resources is not? “And that’s always the curious thing for me…we are the ones that ought to be on fire for God.” We then have a lengthy discussion about systematic theology and her current interest in Von Balthasar4 and her desire to do her PhD on this topic. Her research interest is thus summarized: “What I want to do is develop a Christo-centric anthropology that would focus on the transformation of man into the nature of Christ in such a way that would allow the person to fulfill the mission of the Church which is evangelism.” After this discussion I ask her if she knows any other Christians in her area who are also ex-Muslims. She does, “but they are mostly Baptist, they are mostly evangelicals.” Do they seem like they’re pretty content with that fairly nonsacramental, non-mystical, fairly modern, fairly Western understanding of the Christian faith? Oh, they are very happy! They are very happy, and they evangelize because it is easy: when you say that if you believe in Jesus Christ and that’s how you are saved, well, that’s—that’s
4

A Swiss-born Jesuit theologian, d. 1988. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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easy. You know, they don’t do the hard work of the Cross, and carrying their cross, and that’s a problem. And the way they evangelize is absolutely—doesn’t make any sense to me. She goes on to give an example of an American “senior missionary” from the Baptists who recently sent out a mass e-mail asking for people to pray for Iran, so that “through all these difficulties5, they may come to know Christ.” “I was just furious!” Her concern was their human rights and the fact they were not being treated with dignity. “What I care about is for…their humanity to be safe-guarded.” But again, we find in Samira’s theology not a vague pluralistic position—and that would be the standard approach of most clergy in the US Episcopal Church today. The Gospel is not the same as human rights, though they are related to each other, and this relationship is founded in the natural law: “I want them to be safe and I want them to have their dignity—because without that they will never, ever come to know Jesus.” “It’s actually really upsetting […] and we do need to pray for them because they are fighting for freedom, and freedom is the basic, you know—if you go by the natural theology it is the basis of human dignity.” We then talk a little about the word evangelical. She is obviously critical of evangelicalism, but on the other hand holds evangelism (when done holistically) in a very high position. She explains: “I am an evangelist, and I am an Anglo-catholic6.” I then
5

The interview was done in July of 2009, and the context is very significant unrest with street demonstrations against the perceived rigging of elections by incumbent president Mahmood Ahmadinejad, with the subsequent suppressive, and sometimes violent, actions taken by the state’s security forces. It has been described as the most widespread and turbulent period in the country’s history since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. 6 Anglo-catholic refers to a movement within the larger Anglican tradition that sees Anglicanism in continuity with Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Anglocatholics use language of the seven sacraments and place an emphasis on the St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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ask her about Christian presence in the Muslim World. What advice would she have for white Westerners seeking to live the Gospel in a place like Iran? She immediately answers: “I think the most important issue is the issue of humility.” She explains that anyone being engaged in mission needs to spend time in prayer, spiritual disciples (like fasting), connected to the Church through its sacraments. When we approach the sacraments with a humble heart, they actually transform the individual within the context of the community, so that the end result is that mission and evangelism “should come natural to us; it should be effortless; it should be part of who we are, not something that we do.”

3 Reflections and commentary
Most Protestants only recognize two sacraments (Baptism and Communion), but an Anglo-catholic view would also recognize five others (Confirmation, Confession/Reconciliation, Holy Orders, Holy Matrimony, and the Anointing of the Sick and Dying). On the whole it is a tradition that is much closer to the very sacramental forms of Orthodoxy, which would encompass the ancient churches in what is now called Iran. Samira reflected on how, in her own experience, even before she had learned any theology she objected to having lay persons preside over the Holy Communion which, in Baptist churches, is usually called The Lord’s Supper. The emphasis on sacrament is rare in conversion narratives. Another uncommon element we find here is that of the church. Conversion narratives often involve positive encounters with Christians who are perceived as more moral or virtuous than MusEucharist, the priesthood, and tend to use more ornate, formal liturgies than do evangelical or progressive Anglicans. The Oxford Movement (mid-19th C.) is seen as the beginning of the post-Reformation anglo-catholic movement by many. The great majority of converts from Islam to Christianity do not join such communities. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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lims. But Samira wanted to be where Mary was, and that was the church: she did, at least initially, understand that word in a very physical way—the church building. This is what led her mother to the little convent. This runs counter to much of contemporary evangelical missiology which de-emphasizes the significance of the worship space, preferring for numerous reasons worship in homes or public places. Perhaps there is a real role for physical worship places in the church’s missionary practice, but this has been excluded from the conversation ab initio because evangelical theology for the most part just doesn’t have any sort of coherent theology of the church qua worship space. (A visit to one of the many warehouse or mini-mall churches in the USA will demonstrate the point effectively.) I sense in these elements—the strong Marian emphasis, the sacramental inclination, the openness to monastic spirituality—that in fact many Muslims would be attracted to such a presentation of the Christian faith. But on the whole, the main communities able to undertake such work—Catholics and Orthodox—are not taking part in mission to Muslims, at least not in the area of evangelizing them. One wonders what a frontier mission to some unreached Muslim people group carried out by lay Catholic families would look like. There is nothing inherent in the endeavor that makes it especially difficult, though eventually if a church were established the presence of a priest could be difficult to obtain. But as far as the work of pre-evangelism, evangelism, catechism, and indeed baptizing goes, there are no hindrances. What is lacking is simply the will and initiative. Finally, we have her theology of mission to deal with, related as it is to her criticisms of her experience of evangelical missionary praxis. On this point though, I think we are best off just waiting to hear what she has to say. It may take several years for her work to be published as she is just beginning her PhD, but the wait will be, God willing, worthwhile.
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OBSERVATIONS ON ABUNA ZAKARIA BOTROS (AND A BOOK REVIEW)
BY ABU DAOUD
1

Stuart Robinson with Peter Botross, Defying Death: Zakaria Botross—Apostle to Islam (CityHarvest Publications: Upper Mt Gravatt, Australia). 152 pages.
If I had to make a list of the most important people in the history of Christian witness in the Muslim world, the first place would go to Blessed Ramon Llull, a Roman Catholic layman, philosopher, and missionary. The second place would go to Fr. Zakaria Botros, the Coptic Orthodox priest who famously hosts a program in Arabic on satellite TV—a program that can be seen throughout most of the Arab world. In this program Zakaria, “addresses controversial topics of theological significance — free from the censorship imposed by Islamic authorities or self-imposed through fear of the zealous mobs who fulminated against the infamous cartoons of Mohammed. Botros’s excurses on little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition have become a thorn in the side of Islamic leaders throughout the Middle East.2 He raises infamous questions about ridaa’at al kibaar, for example, which is Arabic for ‘the breastfeeding of adults’ whereby a woman can breastfeed a man unrelated to her and thus be allowed to be in his presence without a mahram; or the sexual appetites of the Prophet, for example; or his habit of wearing his child-bride’s

1 2

Abu Daoud is a missionary in the Arab World. His native country is the USA. Raymond Ibrahim, ‘Islam’s “Public Enemy #1”’ (March 2008) in National Review Online, accessed 28 Aug 2009 [www.article.nationalreview.com] St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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clothing; or possible homosexual proclivities. Such are the curious topics brought up by Fr. Botros. But that is the part of the man we all know about. How did this one Coptic priest, born Feyez, become Islam’s public enemy #1? That is the content of Robinson’s timely and largely competent book: from his birth to the present, only the last few pages mention his satellite TV program. Robinson has chosen a tough task: taking a man who is on the one hand very evangelical, but on the other hand a son of Egypt and life-long Orthodox Copt. Sometimes these seem to work well together, as when we read about the growth in the Sunday School initiative that helped make the Coptic Orthodox Church what it is today—probably the most powerful and successful indigenous church in the Middle East. How can the evangelical not rejoice when they read about the young men going out two by two to obscure villages wherein perhaps one Christian family lives, whom they did not even know beforehand, to educate them in the ways of Scripture and Orthodoxy? This was many years ago so planning was impossible; they would arrive at a town and simply ask, where is George’s house? Knowing that George was a most common Christian name and if there was a Christian household in the town at all, someone there must have that name. There is a kind of faith seen here in these vignettes from the lives of Zakaria and his companions that certainly demolishes any pretensions among the average Western Christian that he or she has suffered for the faith. Robinson also is helpful in explaining certain cultural and religious practices that would make little sense to the Western evangelical. His explanation of marriage in Egypt is splendid, for he tells us that in Egypt a man marries a woman and then loves her, not the other way around as the Western world has it. (Not that it has worked so well in the Western world, has it?) But I wondered if from time to time there was a little theological editing. This would not be unreasonable because there is only so much Orthodoxy an evangelical can digest before the trump
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card is played: “That is unbiblical!” (Which is to say, not evangelical, or more specifically, that is not my version of evangelicalism). Incense and a prayer book and monks might just fly. But what of seeking the intercession of saints? And I don’t mean the living saints, like when your pastor prays for you in his office; I mean dead saints—the ones who have ‘fallen asleep in the Lord,’ as Paul puts it3. This practice, of seeking the intercession of what Westerners would call ‘dead’ saints is integral to Coptic spirituality, yet we don’t have a single instance of it mentioned in this book. Like when we read of the plight of Anisa, Zakaria’s mother, who had not given birth for five years; she fasted and prayed, and she “even enlisted prayer support from her local church community” (p. 5). Did she not just maybe ask Mary or Mark or some local saint for a little intercession? But now that I think of it, Orthodoxy has no problem considering local saints as part of the local church; that they are living or asleep in the Lord matters little to a Church that has retained a unified Semitic cosmology over the bifurcated aberration of Enlightenment Europe (and hence of evangelicalism, also a product, in its own way, of the Enlightenment). As the American Orthodox priest Stephen Freeman4 always says, we are living in a one-storey universe. Perhaps my remarks here are too short, sharp, and shocking. And perhaps I learned that from Fr. Botros. On the one occasion when I met him in person he explained to a crowd of bewildered American evangelicals who had been fed on the irenic milk of Kenneth Cragg5 that this was always his goal: to say something short, sharp, and shocking. And he has accomplished that.
3 4

In 1 Thes 4. Freeman is one of my favorite evangelists for Orthodoxy. His podcast, Glory to God, is available for download through iTunes or his blog: http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/ 5 I love Cragg, by the way, but really, his approach and that of Botros do not resemble each other in the slightest. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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I believe that Botros is an example of contextualized ministry par excellence. This might sound like a strange thing to say today when contextualization and a non-polemical approach are seen as inseparable. Au contraire. Contextual witness does not mean being nice, and it certainly does not mean refraining from criticism of the Prophet of Islam or its book. What contextualization means is that you are asking the questions to which people want to know answers. A basic example of this is the now commonplace insight that Arabs are more moved by honor-shame questions than innocence-guilt ones. That is context. And Abouna does this very well: Muslims want to know about Muhammad, the shari’a, the ahadiith, and so on. They want to know how Islam can (or cannot) be al haal, the solution, as other great Egyptians have argued (Al Banna? Qutb?). And Botros is uniquely prepared to address these questions: for one, his Arabic is excellent, which might not mean a lot to people who have not studied the language, but understand that classical Arabic and common Egyptian Arabic are about as close to each other as Latin and modern Italian. (OK, maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch, but not much.) His skills in Arabic permit him to delve into the copious volumes of traditions about the life of the Prophet and Islamic shari’a. Egypt asks Zakaria: in what way can Islam be the solution? Zakaria responds: this is the life of the Prophet and the law of Islam; you make your own decision. In this Botros is employing a similar tactic to the other guy on my top two list: Ramon Llull. For at the bottom of Llull’s apologetic6 was one simple statement: Allahu akbar. Does the glory of Allah correspond to the sexual practices of Muhammad? Does the wisdom of God correspond to the myths proliferated in the ahadi6

The best volume to start with to get to know Llull is Anthony Bonner (ed. and trans.) Doctor Illuminatus: A Ramon Llull Reader (Princeton 1985). Then read, in order, his life, ars breve, and the book of the gentile and the three wise men in it. But beware, the ars breve is not an easy text, but one that is certainly worth reading multiple times. Bonners introductory explanations are extremely helpful. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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St Francis Magazine 5:5 (October 2009)

ith? Zakaria uncovers Islam to Muslims, and lets them be the judge. This is contextualized witness par excellence, for surely it draws on a worldview and metanarrative that Muslims can understand. Muhammad is the prophet of God or he is not. The Qur’an descended from Allah to Muhammad by means of the angel, or it did not. Muslims understand there is not a great deal of middle ground here. Zakaria understands it too. Here there is no place for a Jesus mosque or a slightly modified shahada, like it or not. And like it or not, it works. This example of successful contextualization is, I propose, related to his ability to understand and live in that Semitic cosmology—the one-storey universe I mentioned above. It is easy for a guy from Germany to learn to pray with open eyes and open hands, palm-up, as our Muslim friends may do, but is that really contextualization? What is harder is to live in and believe in the underlying structure of someone else’s universe. This is the deep work of contextualization—a movement beyond the adaptation of external forms which has become the cause célèbre among so many evangelical missiologists in our days. In any case, the life of Botros was certainly not easy or conventional, and Robinson does a good job of capturing that in this rather slim volume. There are highs and lows; there are miracles, dreams, prisons, late-night arrests, trials both civil and ecclesiastical which is to say that it reads very much like the book of Acts or The Golden Legend7. Botros comes across as a voracious reader and scholar, evangelist, healer, and (after he is forbidden to preach by his Church) a disciple-maker, and family man. His exile from Egypt takes him to Australia, then England, and finally to the USA where he lives now. There is one glaring omission which really needs to be corrected in future editions. I am speaking of the lack of background information regarding the Sunday School movement in the Coptic
7

Which can be read online at www.catholicforum.com/saints/golden162.htm. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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St Francis Magazine 5:5 (October 2009)

Orthodox Church. It would have been a very simple matter for Robinson to insert a page or two of history to explain to us this remarkable movement in Orthodoxy which in many ways transformed the face of Egyptian Christianity and gave the Copts a real vibrant connection to their roots: the Bible, the Fathers, and monastic faith. A few final notes on the book: the editing is of good quality; I found few mistakes. Robinson has a good sense of humor too, though it is rather dark. After telling us that on one night eight bishops, 24 priests, and a significant number of lay leaders were rounded up in an Egyptian prison, he comments dryly that this “surely represented one of the most important involuntary ecclesiastical gatherings in recent Egyptian church history” (67). On the whole this is a valuable contribution—the first biography to date written on a very influential man. In years to come we should expect additional material to appear, and I would hope that someday we can be treated to a more exhaustive, academic biography. But given that the story of Abuna Zakaria Botros is continuing today, let us not be in a hurry.

St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision

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