CONTENT

2 3 20 52 74 92 114 127 133

From the Editor’s Desk, John Stringer Moving on from the C1-C6 Spectrum, Roger L. Dixon An Assessment of the Insider’s Principle Paradigms, Jay Smith Report on the Common Ground Consultants Meeting, John and Anne Span Inside What? Church, Culture, Religion and Insider Movements in Biblical Perspective, Kevin Higgins A Response to Kevin Higgins’ ‘Inside What?’, Bill Nikides A Response to Kevin Higgins’ ‘Inside What?’, Phil The Insider Movement as a strategy for evangelizing Muslims, William Steele Rethinking the Insider Movement Debate: Global Historical Insights Toward an Appropriate Transitional Model of C5, Abdul Asad A Few Thoughts made while Crossing a Minefield, Basil Gafas Book review by Callum Johnson of From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices and Emerging Issues among Muslims by J. Dudley Woodberry.

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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
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. Those that do are often labeled as extreme and chastised into silence. We feel that it is time to reply to the proponents, practitioners and supporters of this approach. That is why this entire issue is dedicated to a detailed examination of the Insider Movement, its theology, methodology and tactics. This is a subject of vital importance to missions and to the Church as a whole. It would have been important if its significance was confined to a discussion about missiology, but the fact is that the subject goes much further. The issue strikes at the heart of the biblical meaning of being Christian, and of the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the Church. It is clear from these discussions that the future of the Church is genuinely at stake. 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 post-structuralist (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. We plan to dedicate part of the next issue to responses to these articles, by Kevin Higgins and others. If you would like to comment on anything you have read here, write us and let us know what you think. Rev Dr John Stringer editor@stfrancismagazine.info


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MOVING ON FROM THE C1-C6 SPECTRUM
BY ROGER L. DIXON
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him (Prov. 18:17) 1. INTRODUCTION New models of work among Muslims have been proliferating over the past 20 years. In general, these approaches reflect sympathy for Muslim thought and life style that is characteristic of the experiences of most workers among Muslims. But it seems to me there is a dramatic difference in some of these models. That difference is seen in their shift from the way missionaries have traditionally understood and presented the person and work of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This shift represents a sea change in mission theology. Due to reasons of ‘security’, much of the propaganda disseminated by these practitioners of a new approach to Muslims is not being discussed and analyzed by the general missionary community. This lack of exchange has caused leaders of some mission agencies to buy into this new philosophy without really understanding all that it entails. Younger workers of some mission agencies that work among various faith traditions are being indoctrinated in these new methods before they are capable of conceptualizing incisive questions about their intrinsic value. It is vital that everyone hear all sides of the issue. This paper is an effort to outline some of the critical issues I have observed with the appeal to bring all points of these issues to the worldwide Church for consideration in light of Scripture. 2. THE CRITICAL ISSUES From my perspective, all the primary issues emerge from a lack of theological moorings and consequently a lack of a comprehensive biblical

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worldview. (1) Models are being developed which are illusory. The C1C6 Spectrum is an example. (2) From these models flow methods such as allowing converts to be both ‘Muslim’ and ‘Christian’ at the same time. (3) Some new Bible translations reconstruct the identity of Jesus in order to support these approaches. (4) Finally, long time mission practices are redesigned as though they are avant-garde creations of this generation. In this paper, I will seek to call these issues into question by revisiting some prominent appraisals of them. This is not to say that I oppose all the ministry of these practitioners. My field experience is not much different from theirs, though longer than most. However, I believe that our theology and method differ in significant ways. While their motives are beyond my capacity to judge, their facility in biblical studies and wisdom in the implementation of certain models can be shown to be immature and faulty. 3. THE C1-C6 SPECTRUM 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’1 In his description, the word ‘contextualize’ only appears under the description of C3 and C4 communities. But the impression is that the other examples in his model (C1, C2, C5, and C6) should also be considered as ‘contextualized’ models. This impression is reinforced by noted missiologists such as Phil Parshall who systematically refer to it as a model of contextualization.2

John Travis, ‘The C1 to C6 Spectrum’, in EMQ 34:4 (October 1998), pp. 407-408. Phil Parshall, ‘Danger! New Directions in Contextualization’, in EMQ 34:4 (October 1998), p. 404; Phil Parshall, ‘Camel Training Manual’, in EMQ 41:3 (2005), p. 385. 
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It is difficult to understand Parshall’s meaning in this regard because a model of contextualization would normally encompass a vast array of cultural phenomena. John Travis, himself, subsequently describes the C1-C6 Spectrum as a ‘simple chart…to graphically portray these different expressions of faith by MBBs’.3 Due to confusion of this sort that has also emerged in other contexts, my intention is to critique the value of the C1-C6 Spectrum and its impact in mission thinking. While the C1-C6 Spectrum has some diagnostic use, it is important for all workers to see it in perspective. This is partly what I mean by my title: ‘Moving on from the C1-C6 Spectrum’. It may have a limited use but the understanding of true contextual models goes light years beyond it. In Col 1:24-29, Paul describes the ministry of the church, which is to proclaim Christ while ‘warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ’. (vs. 28). In passages such as this, we comprehend the depth and breadth of our responsibility to envision a ministry of the church that will affect the broad context of human society and result in mature believers. This would cover the philosophy, traditions and structures of a culture. Some examples are the fields of education, politics, law and justice, labor, religion, leadership, economy, kinship relations, domestic activities, and other aspects of social organization. It takes years of experience and study and close cooperation with national workers to understand and participate in the development of that kind of contextual model. My other meaning of ‘moving on’ has to do with the way the C1-C6 Spectrum promotes changing traditional Christian missions. By fostering a model of faith that includes both Islamic and Christian world views in the same structure, it moves us into a liminal category where a traditional understanding of ‘Christian’ and ‘Muslim’ is changed. In this special state it is possible that a person would belong to a ‘new faith tradition’ that is not recognized by its larger society. For example, the C5 category would not be accepted by Christians or Muslims. The C1-C6 people claim this is contextual but if the society at large does not recognize it as contextual, we should not claim it is. We need to move on from that kind of confusion.
3 John Travis, ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C5 Believers and Congregations’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (2000), p. 53.


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4. WHY WE QUESTION THE C1-C6 SPECTRUM AND ITS AUDIENCE It is very naive for missiologists of this generation to believe that they have greater insight than those highly educated, brilliant minds of the past who mastered indigenous theology and culture. While not many indigenous workers or their missionary counterparts are going to jettison established and proven theology and strategy in favor of some new fad, this new philosophy of ministry has had a significant impact in some quarters. This is not to say that C1-C6 missiologists are all wrong and others all right. There must always be openness to new ideas because outreach to Muslims has not been successful in many places. But new ideas require rigorous questioning and testing and many C1C6 people seem to not be willing to face that. In the past, whenever a challenge has been made to their claims, they have frequently declined to consult or have revised their position slightly to avoid disapproval. For many of them, information is on a ‘need to know’ basis. They even withdraw into protective enclaves such as Joshua Massey constructs in his article: ‘God’s Amazing Diversity in Drawing Muslims to Christ’.4 Massey compares criticism of his ideas and approach to that of the ‘Judaizers’ whom Paul opposed in Galatia. He sets up a frightening scene where anyone questioning new approaches to Muslims is condemning their freedom in Christ. These practitioners may not be aware of their immaturity but others are. The apostles and disciples did not denounce those who criticized their methods. They only warned about criticism of motives - of judging the heart. In Christian ministry, all premises and strategies must be based on biblical principles. These should be clear for the observer as well as for the practitioner. C1-C6 practitioners have not made this information available. Therefore, one has no way to evaluate it. This kind of secrecy is not characteristic of the Church and should be avoided by missiologists. For example, I have been given some material produced by those espousing radical Islamic contextualization that I am not at liberty to reveal in print. I honor that commitment and am discussing nothing in this
4 Joshua Massey, ‘God’s Amazing Diversity in Drawing Muslims to Christ’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1(2000), p. 10.


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article that has not already been published. However, I don’t agree with concealing information from any relevant population. There are doubtless volumes of similar material to which I have no access. In any social science such as missiology, research must be available for testing. One has to be able to replicate results by following the scientific method described. Reports and surveys of the C1-C6 methods and related Islamic contextualization are frequently not available to be tested. We don’t even know who many of these practitioners are, where they work, or where they were trained. Like Joshua Massey and John Travis, they use pseudonyms and report from unknown places on the earth about anonymous people. They quote what they consider significant reports proving their theories but the reports are only accessible to a few. An example is a major survey made of what is called ‘Islampur’ people. It is noted in journals but not revealed.5 We are at the mercy of the interpretation of a few who do not allow other missiologists to peruse the full text. I understand the need for security and it is not necessary to reveal the location where the survey was made or even the people. But we should have access to the developmental research sequence showing how and why the survey was constructed, what was its explicit purpose, what questions were asked, how answers were tabulated, and other aspects of social science research. It is not legitimate for C1-C6 advocates to castigate those who will not blindly accept their interpretation of facts. In light of what I have presented so far, if you are interested in considering tough questions about the C1-C6 model read on! 5. WHAT IS THE C1-C6 SPECTRUM? The most recent published examples of the C1-C6 Spectrum is from Travis’ articles in EMQ (1998), in Mission Frontiers (2005), and in a book titled Appropriate Christianity (2005).6 The later version of this
5 Dean S. Gilliland, ‘Context is Critical in “Islampur” case’, in EMQ 34:4 (1998), p. 415; Massey, ‘God’s Amazing Diversity in Drawing Muslims to Christ’, p. 297. 6 Travis, ‘The C1 to C6 Spectrum’ (1998), pp. 407-408); John and Anna Travis, ‘Contextualization Among Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists: A Focus on Insider Movements’, Mission Frontiers (September-October 2005), pp. 12-15; John and Anna Travis, ‘Appropriate Approaches in Muslim Contexts’ in Appropriate Christianity, ed. Charles H. Kraft (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2005), pp. 397-414. 
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spectrum is more developed than the earlier ones and is arranged in a different manner from earlier versions. By looking at the 1998 version, we get a context for the discussions of recent years. Below is an abbreviated schematic showing only the titles of each type but not Travis’ explanations. The reader will need to access Travis’ full explanation to follow this in detail. However, even without the full Spectrum, the reader will understand my critique.
C1 – Traditional Church using Outsider7 Language C2 – Traditional Church using Insider8 Language C3 – Contextualized Christ-centered Communities using Insider Language and Religiously Neutral Insider Cultural Forms C4 – Contextualized Christ-centered Communities using Insider Language and Biblically Permissible Cultural and Islamic Forms C5 – Christ-centered Communities of ‘Messianic Muslims’ who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior C6 – Small Christ-centered communities of Secret/Underground believers

6. THE ILLUSION OF THE SPECTRUM What is the ‘spectrum’? While Travis’ use of the word fits the dictionary definition in a general sense, we normally demand that a spectrum reflect all the variations that there are in a continuum. When a prism creates a spectrum of colors, it does not leave any out. Phil Parshall says that the C1-C6 Spectrum is not an accurate description of the communities. He writes that although the spectrum has some advantages, ‘a heavy fog has resulted, producing more confusion than clarity’.9 I submit that the ‘Spectrum’ is more accurately identified with the word template. The C1-C6 model has some preliminary use as an instrument to categorize ministries in several general terms such as cultural or religious characteristics. If one were to lay this template over a ministry, a small

7 Travis says ‘insider’ pertains to the local Muslim population; ‘outsider’ pertains to the local non-Muslim population. 8 See comment at footnote 7. 9 Phil Parshall, ‘Lifting the Fatwa’, EMQ 40:3 (July 2004), p. 288 
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amount of information would be quickly ascertained. But that information would be severely limited and only useful as a stepping-stone to deeper investigation of the ministry. It is limited in its usefulness due to its one-dimensional nature. Travis admits that it is a ‘simple chart’.10 It is not only simple but simplistic and while that is probably its attraction to many missiologists, it is also the reason why I feel it is doing more harm than good among new workers and some older ones. It creates the illusion of offering insight to ministry while only giving a cursory view. Inexperienced workers are deluded into thinking that this ‘spectrum’ is revealing special insights whereas it isn’t. New workers are subject to being incorrectly indoctrinated by this tool. At a glance, we see that the C1-C6 Spectrum is divided in a linear manner and compartmentalized. The original model was set up in a horizontal mode whereas this later version is vertical. The last publication of this model in Appropriate Christianity returns to the linear model. However, the principle is the same. This trait gives away the fact that this is a western philosophical model laid over non-western phenomena. This alone is reason enough to use the template with caution. I believe that if you trust the template, you will miss practically all of what you should be seeing in the situation. The lines between the compartments show their separation whereas in Asian and African holistic societies these separations do not exist. In West Java, where I worked, belief systems operate in a way that shows flow back and forth between all of these compartments. I have known numerous believers who would be placed in the so-called C3 compartment who were secret believers to their families and in their communities. They developed elaborate strategies to attend Christian activities without being discovered. This is still the case in West Java. The model describes the stages of increase in the use of Islamic characteristics. In other words, it indicates a progressive movement. The only religious characteristics dealt with are Christian and Islamic and Travis ignores the influence of other belief systems that pervade the Islamic and Christian contexts. This is a profound weakness because there are many kinds of practitioners of multiple belief systems who are influencing the formal religions of Christianity and Islam. Their forms and
Travis, ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C5 Believers and Congregations’, p. 53. 
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meanings are interwoven into the fabric of these religions and there is no way to develop a contextual approach without understanding these influences. For example, in West Java we have an elaborate shaman system that is completely integrated with the formal Islamic religious practices. It also influences the Christian system to a lesser extent. 7. THE LACK OF A THEOLOGICAL BASE The most serious weakness of the C1-C6 Spectrum is a fatal one in my judgment. There is no theological base. When Shoki Coe first presented the idea of contextualization to a 1972 World Council of Churches consultation he brought the Church new insight. Ray Wheeler wrote: ‘His approach was to allow the text (Scripture) to provide the vocabulary and the perspective needed to wrestle with a changing context’.11 As it is abbreviated in another place, ‘faithful to the text, relevant to the context’.12 In contrast, the C1-C6 Spectrum begins with context and has no foundation in the text- i.e., the Word of God. In his article about the dangers of new directions in contextualization, Phil Parshall advises that we need to bring the issues of the C1-C6 model ‘before our theologians, missiologists, and administrators…before we suddenly find that we have arrived at a point that is indisputably subChristian.’13 Travis echoes his agreement in the same EMQ journal. ‘I agree with Dr. Parshall it is time for missiologists, theologians, and others, …to seriously seek God’s will over this C5 issue’.14 Unfortunately, both of them reached this conclusion about ten years too late. The theological base should have been laid before the concept was released. The text should always precede the context. Yet, there is little progress seen in this perspective. In 2005, Travis outlined 10 premises that form the structure in which he hopes to understand what he describes as the C5 phenomenon. The
11 Ray Wheeler, ‘The Legacy of Shoki Coe’, in International Bulletin 26:2 (April 2002), p. 79. 12 Douglas J. Elwood, ‘Asian Christian Theology in the Making: An Introduction’, in Asian Christian Theology: Emerging Themes, ed. Douglas J. Elwood (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980), p. 28. 13 Parshall, ‘Danger! New Directions in Contextualization’, p. 405. 14 Ibid, p. 411. 
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last of these premises relates to the contextual theology that Travis feels must be developed. He sets up the conditions out of which this contextual theology should evolve even though he himself has apparently not yet developed a theology that supports the entire C1-C6 model.15 He bases some of these premises on Christian theology while others are based on secular observations. My point here is that mission premises are futile without a comprehensive biblical base. By leaping to create a text for a contextual concept (e.g., C5) without a text for the entire framework (C1-C6 Spectrum), these practitioners get more and more conflicted. In a recent article in the International Journal of Frontier Missions, Kevin Higgins supports C1-C6 thinking by repeating a common litany of inaccurate exegesis concerning the story of Naaman and Paul’s Athenian argument.16 It will suffice to give these two examples. He quotes the Naaman story to support his contention that the Bible supports worship of God, the Father, in one’s prior religion whereas the text clearly states in 2 Kings 5:15 that Naaman said, ‘Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel…’ And when he asks permission to escort the king to his worship (v.18), he could not mean that he himself would participate in that heathen worship. As a comparison, if a convert in Indonesia were to ask if he could take an elderly parent to the mosque, I am sure all the evangelists would give assent. They would allow it because one needs to take care of one’s parents, even though this case would necessitate showing respect for the mosque by wearing a hat and other appropriate clothes, taking off one’s shoes, and other customary actions. But it would not mean in any way that one would join in the prayers. The entire Old Testament history condemns the worship of foreign gods. The first Commandment declares: ‘Thou shall have no other gods before me.’ Can it be faithful to Old Testament exegesis to propose that the prophet would give Naaman permission to return to foreign worship? Higgins also makes this mistake in using a familiar New Testament example. He contends that in Paul’s Athenian argument, Jesus is unnamed: ‘this Person is unnamed in this sermon, though Paul may be as15 Travis, ‘Contextualization Among Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists: A Focus on Insider Movements’, p. 13. 16 Kevin Higgins, ‘The Key to Insider Movements: The “Devoted’s” of Acts’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 21:4 (2004), pp. 158, 161. 
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suming his hearers will connect the reference to Jesus…’17 If one studies the entire context of this passage chosen by Higgins- Acts 17:16-34, one will see that in verse 18, Paul was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. The name of Jesus is precisely what brought Paul to the explanation (vv. 22-31) of which Higgins refers. Unfortunately, many of the arguments constructed by C1-C6 people are like these. They are not based on a careful reading of the text. In a decisive article, Scott Woods tactfully demolishes the interpretation of many of the Bible proof texts used by C1-C6 practitioners (2003). It does not seem necessary to repeat all his points here even though I see no evidence that C1-C6 people are interacting with his arguments and subsequently correcting Higgin’s eisegesis. It seems to me that the rationale of C1-C6 practitioners is inconsistent and unsupportable. In the Joshua Massey article quoted above, we see an example of this. He argues that the C5 concept can only be understood if one has the right perspective. D.A. Carson (2005), Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, writes about the Massey article:
The language and argumentation are perpetually manipulative. On almost any disputed subject, one can find authorities behind every option. But genuine scholarship thinks through opposing views very carefully, and cites opposing arguments, and does not simply opt for what one wants. [Massey] is guilty in this respect again and again. For example, on Rom 9:5, there is a very substantial literature, and quite frankly most scholars, from every theological tradition, now support the view that this is an affirmation of the deity of Christ. Again, [Massey] quotes Dunn on Phil. 2, but on this passage N. T. Wright, whom [Massey] happily quotes in another connection, has written masterfully refuting Dunn.18

Among other things, Massey argues that Muslims do not necessarily need to understand and experience the Trinity because ‘not one biblical writer felt it necessary to extrapolate (sic) that God “is” Father, Son and Holy Spirit…”’19 Although the doctrine is not promulgated (if that is
Ibid., p.161. D.A. Carson, Unpublished personal letter (1 February 2005). Quoted with permission. Joshua Massey, ‘Misunderstanding C5: His Ways Are Not Our Orthodoxy’, in EMQ, 40:3 (July 2004), p. 298. 
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what Massey means) there are scores of references in the New Testament to the unity of Jesus with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. This is a main emphasis in John’s Gospel. On another point, Massey states: ‘…the Qur’an itself is proving to be a powerful apologetic in the hands of Muslim believers for restoring Muslim confidence in the inerrancy of Scripture.’20 This occurs, he believes, when they understand what the Qur’a>n really says about the Bible. Massey seems to have a typically post-modernist viewpoint so that terms such as inerrancy of Scripture take on new meaning. His position seems to make the Qur’a>n the determining factor for Muslims in seeking the truth of God. Examples such as these show that without a theological basis, the C1-C6 practitioners are moving farther and farther afield. 8. MOVING ON FROM THE C1-C6 SPECTRUM These previous references to C5 methodology are indicative of the new level to which these practitioners are moving. While the C1-C6 Spectrum seeks to describe perceived categories of Christian ministry among Muslims, the C5 emphasis supports the reality of Muslim believers who are becoming followers of Jesus without losing their Muslim identities. An example is an article referenced above: ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa’ by John Travis. The writer attempts to persuade the reader that the outside evangelists are not the ones determining the beliefs or actions of Muslim converts. He writes; ‘How they view Islam is not prescribed by us, but left to them as they are guided by the Word and the indwelling Spirit.’21 These kinds of statements are very misleading. Anyone who understands Islam knows that adherents are led by practitioners who are regarded as the experts in religion. To insinuate that new believers are making up their own theological conclusions without outside help shows Travis’ lack of experience in evangelism and pastoral ministry.

Ibid., p. 302. Travis, ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C5 Believers and Congregations’, p. 53.
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It is obvious that the unique language and rudimentary theology of C5 have been developed by non-Muslims. For example, it is a far reach to assume that Muslims would describe themselves as ‘Messianic Muslims’. Their theology teaches that Jesus is the Messiah for the Jews, not for Muslims. The concept of a Messiah as understood by Christians does not exist for the Muslims. In connection with this, I have not seen any articles about C1-C6 theology or method that were written by nonwesterners. However, since so much of this material is anonymous, it is hard to tell. Joshua Massey is much more creative than Travis in describing what so-called C5 groups are doing. He states, ‘C5 advocates encourage Muslim believers to view the Jesus act from their seat in the human auditorium’. Massey means that the Muslim comes to know Jesus within his own religious framework and may remain a Muslim as he follows Jesus. According to Massey, this means ‘C5 Muslim believers are, of course, rethinking and redefining Islam according to the authority of the Bible.’22 His proposition seems to be that a supernatural transformation of Islam will occur that allows a place for the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As I understand the reasoning of these practitioners, it seems to me that the process of implementing C5 methodology will change the definition of both ‘Christian’ and ‘Muslim’. C5 philosophy proposes the possibility that Scripture can be reconciled with Islamic teachings. Thus, Muslim believers will be both ‘Christian’ in their core beliefs and ‘Muslim’ in their basic tenets. This proposition describes the impossible position of C5 proponents. It seeks to integrate two opposing worldviews and harmonize their accompanying theological bases that conflict one another. This defies all logic. One of the worse mistakes a Christian evangelist can make is to justify a non-biblical world view. I urge every missiologist to examine these C5 claims in great depth before buying into this immature conception of reality with its grandiose claims of success. The delusion of this approach has led some western missionaries to pray the Shaha>dah (Muslim confession of faith) and become official members of the religion of Islam. What a tragedy and what an accountability must be given by some.
22

Massey, ‘Misunderstanding C5: His Ways Are Not Our Orthodoxy’, p. 301. 
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9. ONE KEY TO C5 THEOLOGY AND METHODOLGY One critical key facilitating the so-called C5 concept is the way they view new Bible translations for peoples of other faiths. In 1987, a new alleged harmony of the gospels was produced for Muslim readers. This book is a diglot with opposing pages printed in Arabic and English. It is a very important example of the C5 group’s effort to retheologize the Son of God for the Muslim reader.23 Some C5 Bible translators have felt the need to shade the meaning of certain Greek terms such as Lord and Son of God so that those of other faiths will be more open to considering the claims of Christ. Perhaps this unusual and unexpected divide in Bible translation has come about because of the philosophy that spawned what is called dynamic equivalency. Whatever the original intent of this translation model, it has been used as a vehicle that allows the translator to insert much more of his or her interpretation into the translation. The ‘wordfor-word’ correspondence model can also be manipulated by the translator but it is more difficult to do. The ‘thought-for-thought’ translation philosophy of dynamic equivalency allows the translator to insert various nuances of present day culture. While it is customary for evangelists to use the biblical record selectively and to introduce theological truths at various stages in evangelism and Christian nurture, there is no justification for changing God’s Word, the Bible. This removes the foundation upon which a Christian life is built. If God’s record no longer exists, what is the framework of truth for a new believer and how can one be discipled into the truth of who Jesus is? The Bible, as recorded in the original languages, is the only source we have for a biblical worldview. When we begin to integrate the message of the Bible with that of other religions, we lose the foundation of our worldview and move into syncretism. While we acknowledge that there is some truth in other religions, we also recognize the ways in which that truth has been integrated into a non-biblical worldview. Changing Bible

23 See Roger Dixon, ‘Identity Theft: Retheologizing the Son of God’, in EMQ 43:2 (2007), pp. 220-226.


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translations to agree with Qur’a>nic worldview or the worldview of any other faith system will cause us to lose our touchstone. The Bible is consistent in portraying prophets and apostles as defenders of the biblical worldview. God’s prophets and apostles never authorize or approve of worship or other activities of faith that are based on a non-biblical worldview. They may participate in a variety of cultural traditions but not when they are directed to any other god than the God of the Bible. 10. REDEFINING TRADITIONAL METHODOLOGY The final issue we will discuss is less critical than the others but nonetheless important. It represents the tendency of C5 practitioners to misrepresent mission history. This involves the camouflaging of traditional mission methodology. It may be due to a lack of knowledge or it may be an over anxious attempt for affirmation of their own approaches. The C5 practitioners seem to thrive on purported new missiological philosophies and avant-garde approaches. While the only ‘new idea’ the C5 people have proposed is Massey’s hopeless concept of unifying Christianity with Islam, there are many other ideas which they present as though they were original. An example is the so-called Insider Movement. In their article in Mission Frontiers the Travis couple seeks to link the C5 movement with what is called the Insider Movement.24 The term is used in the title of his article and is the subject of the entire issue of the magazine. However, what is described, as an Insider Movement is really not any different from what has happened over and over throughout the history of Christian missions. Phil Parshall notes the example of Kiai Sadrach, a convert in Java in the 19th Century.25 I presented Sadrach’s case study in an article on the Javanese church in which I described that church’s struggle to produce a contextualized Javanese Christianity.26 Sadrach
Travis, ‘Contextualization Among Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists: A Focus on Insider Movements’, pp. 12-13. 25 Parshall, ‘Lifting the Fatwa’, p. 289. 26 See Roger L. Dixon, ‘The Major Model of Muslim Ministry’, in Missiology: An International Review XXX:4 (October 2002), pp. 443-454. 
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was one of the spiritual fathers of a movement that has brought millions of Muslims into the Kingdom of God. It would be wise for us to first study what has actually been done in the past before creating new buzzwords in missiology. When the C1-C6 people do relate to the past they link their approaches somewhat dubiously with some of the giants of missiology. Travis speaks of Samuel Zwemer’s model of respect for Muhammad but doesn’t mention his transparent criticism of Islam.27 The Kitab Suci Injil [Holy Gospel] so called ‘culturally appropriate’ Bible translation in Indonesia is claimed to be in the tradition of W.G. Shellabear whereas Shellabear shared Zwemer’s criticism of Islam and in his Malay translation ‘eliminated words he regarded as foreign to Malay, such as the Arabic fasik and Bait’.28 Another example is Massey’s use of ‘Christ-centered’ as opposed to ‘church-centered’.29 He writes as though Christ-centered people are not the Church but rather some group outside the Church and inside their own cultural traditions. Mixing vocabulary in this way and skewing the meaning of words does not promote incisive thinking about critical issues. If one’s theology allows the separation of believer and Church, one must clearly delineate this. The spiritual Church exists and so does the institutional churches and church centered people by definition should also be Christ centered. Travis changed some of his original C1-C6 descriptions from church to Christ centered. Designations like ‘Christ-centered’ and ‘churchcentered’ are not helpful. They give the impression one can bring souls to Christ without having them being received into his Church. Possibly, such views result from the influence of parachurch organization theology. However, new mission workers are not going to be able to discern these nuances and it also creates confusion among new believers about their status in the worldwide fellowship of Christians.

Travis, ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C5 Believers and Congregations’, p. 56. 28 Robert Hunt, William Shellabear: A Biography 1862-1848 (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malayu Press, 1996), p. 164. 29 Massey, ‘Misunderstanding C5: His Ways Are Not Our Orthodoxy’, p. 300. 
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Finally, the C1-C6 crowd should stop using proof texts. There simply are no Bible texts that describe or support their methodology. Their use of 1 Corinthians 7:24 is a good example. This is where Paul advises remaining in the condition in which one was called. C5 people interpret this to mean one can continue in a religious tradition where the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not recognized. It is not possible that the apostle who suffered all of his life for the gospel could have meant that. If a C5 missionary really believed it could mean that, he himself could not participate in the non-Christian religious practices of other faith groups because he himself would then no longer be in the condition in which he was called. 11. CONCLUSION In this article, I have analyzed briefly some of the ways the C1-C6 Spectrum is viewed erroneously as a contextual model and the illusion it gives that a believer can experience the contradictory existence of being both a follow of Christ and active in the faith traditions of another religion. Then I discussed the lack of a theological base for the C1-C6 Spectrum and, in connection with that, the lack of a biblical base for all C5 teaching. Following that, I reported the way new Bible translations have been promoted in order to create a theological base and biblical worldview that is more in line with Islamic teaching or the teachings of other religions as the case may be. These new translations reinterpret the person and work of Jesus in various ways so that members of other religions do not need to assent to the full meaning of the person and work of Jesus. The Trinitarian theology of Jesus as Son of God and Lord of life is minimized so that it does not become a stumbling block to people of other faiths. Finally, I described the way new buzzwords are used to give one the impression that traditional mission approaches are, in fact, innovative models of our generation. In closing, let me reaffirm that my critique does not imply a rejection of innovative approaches to other religions or a condemnation of those who try them. It is simply a call to prepare oneself theologically and culturally to understand what is happening in the models that are being used in mission. Let us bring them all to the Church at large. I don’t believe

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the C1-C6 crowd has done that. Let us move on from the C1-C6 Spectrum.

May the Holy Spirit lead us to be established in him so that ‘we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ …’ Eph 4:15b


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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INSIDER’S PRINCIPLE PARADIGMS
BY JAY SMITH

1. INTRODUCTION Towards the end of January 2009 my mission board, the Brethren In Christ World Mission (BICWM), asked me to attend the ‘Common Ground’ Conference in Atlanta, a group promoting and teaching the ‘Insider’ methodological model of evangelism to Islam. I was asked to assess its viability as a model for our mission work to Muslims living in a Middle Eastern country. I knew something about the ‘model’, which some have based on the C5 category of the contextualization scale,1 due to my studies on contextualization at Fuller Seminary in the 1980s. Later on, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, my colleagues and I tried a nascent form of contextualization in a largely Muslim dominated West African country. We realized, however, that it caused a good bit of confusion, as some of our African Muslim friends felt we were being deceitful and dishonest, and trivialized what for them were time-honored Islamic ‘identity codes’ of practice and belief. Since then we have moved to London where, for the past 17 years, I have engaged in a highly public confrontational and polemical ministry with the more radical elements within Western Islam. This methodology is probably as far removed from that of the Insider Movement as one could imagine (possibly a negative C5 on the contextual scale). Ironically, ‘Believers from a Muslim Background’ (BMBs) tell me that my model of evangelism is actually a truer form of contextualization. My forthright and public style is closer to the paradigm of what a religious
1 From the C1-C6 contextualization scale, made popular by John and Anna Travis (pseudonyms), ‘Maximizing the Bible! Glimpses from our context’, in Mission Frontiers (Jan.Feb. 2006), p. 21. 
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man should be; one who is as willing to publicly go ‘toe to toe’ with the best, and is just as willing to die for what he believes as are they. The assessment below, therefore, needs to be read with that history in mind. I make no apologies. After working for over 27 years with Muslims, on three continents, and having taught others to minister with Muslims in over 20 countries, I come to the table with a good bit of experience: this is both contextual and irenical, yet also confrontational and controversial, much of the latter being in an hostile environment. I say this all up-front so that you know where I stand, and so you can better understand why I take the positions I do. Concerning the Common Ground Conference itself, I was not invited, so I had myself invited. They finally relented, with the proviso that I was not permitted to say anything about the teachers or the countries they represented. I can say, however, that they were quite an impressive group, all eloquent, mostly my age (40-50s), all white, very American, and all well groomed. Security was tight, with only delegates permitted to enter the sanctuary. I was not sure why they felt it necessary, since we were in Atlanta; besides only those who had been invited could attend. What’s more, we were all Christians, vetted and so quite knowledgeable - but this was their conference, not mine. It was a slick operation, keeping to time, with good technical facilities, and around 300 in attendance. I understand that they do these conferences regularly, and they mentioned that it would even be held in a Muslim country soon. All of this to say that the movement and their advocates are not an aberration, representing a fringe group, but seem to be increasingly popular, especially amongst the young. What’s more, from the adulation expressed by those seated all around me at the conference, we should expect that this movement would become increasingly mainstream within Evangelical Christianity. As to my assessment, I wanted to make sure that what I was assessing was true and accurate, and not simply my impression of what the Insider missionaries were saying. I have been misquoted and misunderstood by many who have critiqued my approach over the last 20 or so years, so am patently aware of just how easy it can be to be misconstrued and misrepresented. Thus, after the conference I wrote down what I believed were 16-17 of their core beliefs or principal paradigms and sent them to the

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leadership of that conference. They in turn (from what I understand) asked 4-5 of the primary leaders to go through the bullet points you see below, and respond to them as a group. Simultaneously, John Travis (a pseudonym), considered by many to be the ‘father of the Insider movement’, also responded by personal e-mail with his reactions. Both the Common Ground (CG) and John Travis’ responses are summarized below, with my assessment after that. As one might expect, upon receiving their replies I found that less than half of what I assumed were their core beliefs turned out not to be universal Insider principles or paradigms at all, since, as they state, there is a multiplicity of Insider opinions and practices. And there is the dilemma. How was I to assess something that not everyone could agree upon? What’s more, much of what I thought I had heard at the conference in Atlanta they now considered either unimportant or irrelevant to their paradigm. Could it be that they were backing off some of what they said at the conference, knowing that I was now assessing them publicly, or had others and I simply misheard them? As one leading Christian intellectual stated, ‘The Insider proponents are just too slippery to pin down. Even when you quote them, they say that is not what they really mean! The movement is so fluid and vague in many ways that it raises many questions of credibility.’ [Note: I have been asked not to give names or places by the leaders of the Common Ground conference. If there is a need to know whom I am quoting, feel free to e-mail me privately for further references]. With that in mind, let’s nonetheless go into their responses, and then let me share with you my assessment of them. 2. ASSESSMENT OF INSIDER TERMINOLOGY 2.1 Insider
We [leaders representing the Common Ground, and John Travis] 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’. (Mat 5:15)

Jay’s Assessment: I had wanted the leadership to define what they meant by ‘Insider’ here, but they declined, possibly because, as stated

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above, there are so many different definitions and practices within the movement. A recent definition calls it, ‘a popular movement to Christ that bypasses formal and explicit expressions of the Christian religion’2. To be more specific, an ‘Insider’, as I understand it, is someone who considers Jesus as their ‘Lord’ and ‘Savior’, yet who stays inside their culture (in this case their Muslim culture), inside their biological family (what they define as one’s oikos), continues to call themselves a Muslim (as defined in S>u>rah 5:111) therefore believes the Shaha>dah (that God is one, and Muh}ammad is his prophet), continues to go to the mosque, attempts to pray five times a day, participates in the Ramadha>n fast, and some believe can go on the Hajj (pilgrimage). As one might imagine, there will be variations on this definition depending on whom you talk to and where they are ministering. I will talk later concerning what they mean by ‘Jesus’ in their above definition, and focus at this point on their reference to one’s oikos, defined as one’s biological Muslim family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to remain inside one’s own family and community, but not to the exclusion of one’s greater family in Christ. I do question the use of oikos as simply one’s biological relatives. Jesus very clearly redefines the family in Mat 12:46-50 where, pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’. Do not those coming out of a Muslim background therefore have a stronger allegiance to those in their/our Christian culture or with their local Christian community, those who are their new ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’ (as Christ defines it in Mat 12)? Is this not over and above their allegiance to their biological Muslim relatives, especially when they are being persecuted by their biological families, and so need the help of their near brothers and sisters in Christ? ‘As many as possible…’ seems to be a strong impetus within Insider circles. In every conversation I have had with those who promote the insider model, at some point in the conversation the reference to numbers is introduced. This suggests that one of the primary reasons the Insider model is so attractive is the immense success they are seeing in every
2 David Garrison, ‘Church Planting Movements vs. Insider Movements: Missiological realities vs. mythological speculations’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 21 (2004), p. 151. 
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country because of this model. I have heard that anywhere from 100,000 to millions have ‘come to Christ’ through this methodology, therefore, how could it be wrong? The implication is that ‘The ends justify the means.’ This is not only seductive (i.e. success is always attractive, regardless of the cost) but also dangerous; it leads to blindly adopting practices without looking at the long term consequences, not only to the world wide Christian community but to the local ‘Christian’ community as well, in which the new believer may or may not participate. Some of those costs and consequences I will talk about later on. 2.2 Extraction
New believers should not be extracted from their Muslim families (their oikos). Matthew 5:15 says to shine as a light in one's oikos. The dictum is actually ‘remain in’. The Holy Spirit will tell them some things that are okay. The point is that a believer is uniquely gifted by virtue of bloodline and upbringing to reach those of his natural oikos. So our desire is to see this natural gifting used for the sake of the Gospel. The goal is for people to be salt and light in their oikos.

Jay’s Assessment: Unfortunately, the above paragraph does not explain just how far the new believer must ‘remain’ within one’s oikos. For clarification, at the conference and in much of their literature the Insiders suggest that the new believer should continue to call themselves ‘Muslims’, should continue to pray the five ritualistic Islamic prayers, go to the mosque regularly, and participate in the yearly fast. In other words, for all practical purposes, they should be seen publicly as a Muslim, and continue to do so till they die, with promises in some cases that they don’t ever have to ‘leave Islam’. This may not seem too alarming for some of us, at first glance. In many C3-C4 ministries (which I adhere to), new converts are often encouraged initially to remain within their families as ‘secret believers’, with the hope that at a more convenient time they will ‘come out’ publicly as Christians, and therefore stave off any immediate persecution. What is problematic here is that most Insider proponents believe that remaining inside Islam, and calling oneself a Muslim is something that is not necessarily temporary, but permanent. There is much that needs to be questioned here, but that will be addressed later on.

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Let’s look at this point at the inference of ‘shining as a light’ found in Mat 5. In Mat 5:15 it says, ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house’. I’m assuming that Christ here is speaking about the light of the gospel, evidenced by your ‘good deeds’ (vs. 16). Does not light confront darkness, and should it not therefore confront the darkness of Islam in one’s family, which will bring about rejection, leading to extraction and persecution by the family? If that is so, then I wonder how ‘salt and light’ can be construed to suggest acquiescing to a Muslim paradigm that already exists? If it confronts, then it stands against much in Islam which confronts the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, such as the ritualistic prayers, or the mosque, and the Ramadan fast, all of which I believe are rejections of those institutions modeled by Jesus himself. Perhaps the Insiders are suggesting that these institutions are nothing more than benign practices, devoid of any spiritual overlay, which can be easily accepted, adopted and adapted within a Biblical framework…more about that later. Returning to the problem of one’s oikos; should not Mat 5:15 be coupled with Mat 10:35-37 which states very clearly that once we are Christ’s disciples we should expect to find a ‘son against his father, and a daughter against her mother…’, and that ‘a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’? What this suggests to me is that our true family, as I have said previously, is no longer our biological relatives, but the new family we have in Christ Jesus. Once one becomes a true believer, he should then expect to be ‘flogged’, ‘arrested’, ‘hated’, ‘persecuted’, and yes even ‘killed’ (see Mat 10:17-23) for being a ‘light to the world’, which often in a Muslim context begins within the Muslim’s biological family (their oikos). There are many passages in the New Testament which propose extraction for the sake of Christ; Mark 8:34-38 or, 1 Cor 6:14-18 to name just two. The early church assumed it as well. I’m not sure how the Insiders can read the story of the early church in the book of Acts, or the history of the first 300 years of Christianity (to say nothing of the last 2,000 years), and assume that extraction is to be avoided? Extraction was not only expected by Christ in Mat 10, but was encouraged by the early church, and was the reason so many had to go into hiding. This extraction, due to new Christians being ‘salt and light’ in their oikos, caused much per
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secution, yet brought about some of the greatest stories we have of the courage and resolve of those who loved and sacrificed for their faith. In fact, I would venture to say that, in the last 2,000 years, it was during those times of extraction followed by persecution that the church has been at its strongest and has grown to its greatest. It was then that new Christians were forced to depend totally on their Lord to save and secure them, while refusing to acquiesce to the whims and desires of their own oikos. A Believer from a Muslim Background (BMB) here in London, when he read the above, asked:
What are [the insiders] saying to the hundreds of believers like me, who have obeyed Mat 5:15, have refused to keep our faith in Christ hidden, or ‘under a bowl’, have been ‘salt and light’ to our families, have refused to compromise (i.e. claiming to be what we were not), and as a result have been persecuted for our obedience, tortured and some of us even killed; yet have a strengthened faith because of our extraction, which led to persecution, and now are blessed by the inclusion into a worldwide family?

We will deal with this later, but I do wonder how new believers who do not extract from their Muslim families will then be involved with the worldwide Christian community? Not only will we not be able to identify them, they will feel threatened and alienated by most everything we do. I travel all over the world as a public speaker, and in every country I go I am overwhelmed by the love and care I receive unconditionally from my Christian brothers and sisters, a love which just won’t be there for these Insider believers due to their self-imposed isolation. Furthermore, it seems that the Insiders’ primary concern is that their ‘new believers’ will be the agents to then bring others in the oikos to Christ, thus the reason they ask them to stay in the family and retain many of the Islamic practices associated with Islam. Can this not be naive; ‘putting the horse before the cart’? New believers in Christ are the most vulnerable to the seductions of Islam, to the spiritual forces within Islam, and especially to the strong control Muslim families have over them, emotionally, socially, and physically. With little contact or discipling from more mature Christians (due to the constraints of an overwhelming Muslim family influence), the new believer can easily fall back into his old faith, and/or allegiances.

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I have just returned from a Western country where a number of Western ‘Christian’ couples have chosen to voluntarily join their local Muslim community as hidden ‘Christians’ themselves. They have risen into positions of authority within this Muslim community but, according to a Christian acquaintance, have now lost any view of Christ’s divinity. If long-standing Christians can so easily and quickly be seduced by the power of Islam, then why do we think the same will not happen to new believers? 2.3 Seven Signs
It is one effective tool, of which there are others (i.e. shame/honor illustration is another). It has been field-tested and is effective. It allows us to step into a Muslim’s world dominated by the Qur’a>n. The Seven Signs in skeletal form are found in the Qur’a>n. It is used primarily by the CG folks, but not necessarily by others.

Jay’s Assessment: As is suggested here, it is really only one of many effective tools. It is similar to the ‘Chronological Method’, popularized by New Tribes Mission in the last century, another tool which we used in West Africa to good effect. It begins with the stories of the prophets in the Old Testament and points to the sacrifice that is yet to come, which then leads to the Messiah who is Jesus. My only concern, however, is that, unlike the Chronological Method, which starts with the Bible, the Seven Signs tool begins with the Qur’a>n; this may inadvertently give undue authority to the Qur’a>n, unless it is used only as a ‘bridge’ to then lead the Muslim to the Bible. I simply ask that in our zeal to bridge with the Qur’a>n we not give it undue authority, as it will make it more difficult later on to be critical of it. 2.4 Holy Books
We would say that the Tawrah, Zabu>r, and Inji>l point to the Kingdom of God, while the Qur’a>n teaches a) Monotheism, b) against idolatry, c) points to Jesus, d) points to earlier books. Thus it can be used as a ‘stepping stone’, a ‘candle’ of light that shines toward Jesus and the Bible.


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Jay’s Assessment: Here is a case of moving the ‘goalposts’ from what was stated earlier. In the Atlanta conference they implied strongly that, due to the areas listed above, the Qur’a>n was one of four authoritative ‘God breathed’ books. In fact, there was an elderly female speaker whose adulation for the Qur’a>n bordered on incredulity. Having studied the Qur’a>n for 30 years she considered it almost divinely inspired, and so naturally found hundreds of parallels with the Bible; such as, ‘The incarnate Christ’ whose Qur’a>nic equivalent, she believed, was al-Ba>tin, or the ‘Inner One’. Consequently, she accepted that Jesus spoke from the cradle, because al-Ba>tin certainly could, unknowingly crediting authority to the early apocryphal texts from which this story is sourced! (This anecdote is backed up by my notes as well as notes taken by two other missiologists at the conference, both with over 25 years experience in the Islamic world). According to a study of C5 believers carried out in 1998, 45 percent of the respondents said that they felt close to God when hearing the Qur’a>n read. Some 96 percent said that the Qur’a>n was a book revealed by God, along with the Tawrah, Zabu>r and Inji>l (three names of the earlier scriptures mentioned in the Qur’a>n), while 66 percent said that they considered the Qur’a>n to be the greatest of the four heavenly books3. Above, however, the leadership only say it can be used as a ‘stepping stone’ or ‘candle’, which no-one would dispute. Until they come out clearly with what they believe concerning the Qur’a>n I cannot give a fair assessment. One might ask whether we should ever use the Qur’a>n with our Muslim friends? The answer is, ‘Certainly’, but only as a point of clarification, due to the fact that it is their authority. We can point out where the Qur’a>n gives authority to the previous scriptures [Su>rahs 10:94; 21:7; 29:49; 4:136; 5:45-46,68, similar to point ‘d’ above], and can also even show where their revelation gives more authority to Jesus than to Muh}ammad [Su>rahs 19:19-20; 3:46-49, etc., similar to point ‘c’ above]). At no time, I believe, should we assume that the Qur’a>n is our authority, or that we can find the ‘gospel’ within its pages. Unfortunately, it seems that many Insiders, both at the conference and in private discussions, do

Phil Parshall, ‘Danger! New Directions in Contextualization’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998), p. 406. 
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feel the Qur’a>n can be placed alongside the Bible as one of God’s ‘inspired revelations’. As I said above, in an attempt to accommodate our Muslim friends, there is always the danger of giving authority where it doesn’t belong. In my doctoral studies, it has been made patently clear that the Qur’a>n is a fraud, written and compiled by men, with borrowed material from many apocryphal Jewish traditions and Christian Sectarian documents. Consider the below as simple examples:
The story of Cain and Abel (Surah 5:31-32), along with the story of the Raven (vs. 31) are taken from the ‘Targum of Jonathan-ben-Uzziah’, while the blood of vs. 32 is derived from the ‘Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5’. The story of Abraham and the smashed idols, along with the fiery pit found in Sura 21:5171, is taken from the ‘Midrash Rabah’. The story of Solomon and Sheba found in Sura 27:17-44, which includes the delightful story of the missing and talking hoopoe bird, and the mirrored floor is borrowed from the ‘II Targum of Esther’. When we look at New Testament parallels, the story of Mary-Imran-Zachariah found in Sura 3:35-37 is borrowed from the ‘Protoevangelion's James the Lesser’, while Jesus and the Palm Tree in Sura 19:2226 is taken from ‘The Lost Books of the Bible’. The account of Jesus talking as a baby, found in Sura 19:29-33, comes from ‘The first Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ’; while the reference to Jesus creating birds from clay, found in Sura 3:49, is borrowed from ‘Thomas' Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ’.

It seems obvious to me that with so many borrowings from suspect sources, the Qur’a>n shares no place alongside our Bible as a holy book. Although certain ‘truths’ can be found in its pages, as one can say for almost any other religious or secular book, to accommodate it on this level will at the least lead to appeasement, and at the worst to syncretism. 2.5 Muslim Compliant Arab Bible
Mazhar Malouhi’s user friendly ‘Muslim Compliant’ Arabic translation has attempted to translate the meaning in a way that the message will speak to Muslims. He replaces references to God as ‘Father’, changing them to Alla>h, Rabb, Waliy, al-Azi>z, Amri, Ru>h Alla>h. We appreciate the difficulty in

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communicating the fatherhood of God in a Muslim context. The goal is to use meaningful terms for your audience, even if they are ‘Muslim compliant’.

Jay’s Assessment: Yes, I would agree, 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. 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’. This is particularly problematic when, in attempting to ‘speak’ to Muslims, Malouhi replaces references in the Gospels and the book of Acts to God as ‘Son’ (Huios in Greek, usually translated in Arabic as ibn), and changes them to Habi>b (Beloved), or Sayyid al Bashi>r (Master of Men). Does this do justice to the original text? Will this not have implications for how we now explain the relationship between the first two persons of the triune Godhead, to say nothing of how we then apply that to the numerous applications of fatherhood/sonship used by Jesus in the gospels (i.e. ‘whoever denies the Son, denies the Father’ 1 John and 3 John)? What about those of us who use the relational aspect of the Godhead as a model for our relationships within the family, community, fellowship, and the church? How can we explain them once we have excised the model for this relationship from the text? Lastly, how are we going to answer the accusation by so many Muslims today that we ‘change’ the text of the Bible whenever we find a problem with it, and that is why it remains corrupted in their eyes? And just how far should we go in being compliant? In our haste to make the Bible relevant, should we then remove references condemning homosexuality in Rom 1:26-27 and create a ‘gay compliant translation’, or remove all references to God for an ‘atheist compliant translation’? As one long term missionary in a Muslim country recently stated, ‘[Muslim Compliant Translations - MCT] have caused a huge amount of headaches here… especially when displacing terms such as “Son of God” with “Representative of God”’. Another missionary friend in a large Muslim country said that things seemed to have started off ‘well’, but now the advocates of MCT’s (mostly Western Missionaries) are actually ‘fighting publicly’ with those using traditional translations; they have decided to go ahead with their translation despite the traditional

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churches’ objections, not realizing that the indigenous churches will have to bear the consequences of the missionaries’ actions! 2.6 Biblical Exegesis
a) Gen 16:12 = Ishmael ‘against’ everyone, changed to ‘with’ everyone to accept Ishmael’s line. Explanation: ‘Against’ is one of 21 possible meanings of the preposition ‘b-‘. The most commonly understood translation of ‘b-‘ would be ‘in’. b) Gen 17:18-21 = ‘Ishmael’s blessing’ proved his inclusion with Isaac as the chosen race. Explanation: -Isaac received the blessing of the covenant -Ishmael received the promise of a blessing -Isaac and his descendants are destined to be the agents of Gods work -Ishmael and his descendants are destined to be unique recipients of God’s work c) 1 Cor 7 = ‘Stay like’ means Muslims stay in the condition that Christ met them, i.e. as Muslims. Explanation: Culturally they remain, transformed by the Holy Spirit into their new nature, yet in their old Muslim culture. d) 1 Cor 9 = Missionaries ‘Become like’ means to be like Muslims. Explanation: To ‘become like’ as culturally as possible, but we are not insiders. We do not teach that Christian background folks should become Muslims. We strongly discourage missionaries from becoming Muslims, or from pretending to be Muslims.

Jay’s Assessment: A common criticism others and I have had with the Insider proponents concerns their usage and application of scripture, especially when they use Biblical text in an attempt to find scriptural authority for their paradigm, and inadvertently go beyond what the author of that text intended. This is not proper exegesis, and can lead to a breakdown of scriptural understanding. Here are some examples I have trouble with: a) Gen 16:12 = To say Ishmael will be ‘with’ instead of ‘against’ his brothers seems highly improbable. Now I am not a Hebrew scholar, but I wonder why no other popular translations agree with the MCT’s rendering? We probably need the Hebrew scholars to help us here. A good definition, however, of what the writer is referring to as one’s ‘brother’

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can possibly be found in Deut 17:15, where it is clear that a ‘brother’ must be a ‘brother Israelite’, which precludes Ishmael. b) Gen 17:18-21 = If the Insider proponents believe Ishmael is to be blessed equally with Isaac, and that there was no scripture which kept him out of the promises given to Isaac, then I would suggest they look just a few chapters later, at Gen 22:2,12,16. Three times God refers to Abraham’s ‘one and only son Isaac’, knowing full well that Abraham had two sons at that time. This suggests that as far as God was concerned he considered Isaac uniquely to be the son of promise, and not Ishmael. They might also want to consider Gal 4:23-25; 28-31 where Paul eloquently compares the two covenants, that of Sarah (the free woman) and Hagar (the slave woman from Arabia). He stipulates that we are to be a part of the free woman’s covenant, and that we are to have nothing to do with the slave woman’s son (i.e. Ishmael). So, ironically, borrowing the Insider’s paradigm, this would mean that we are to have nothing to do with the Muslims, who, they believe are of his line. c) 1 Cor 7:17-24 = The problem with ‘staying like’, or remaining in Islam is that Islam is both a religion and a culture; to stay in it then takes on all the religious connotations as well as its spiritual power (more about that later). In these verses Paul certainly would not suggest that Gentiles should ‘stay’ as pagan worshippers in their local temples (or mosques), but speaks specifically of newlyweds staying in their station in which Christ found them, i.e. their job or position in society. d) 1 Cor 9:19-23 = I believe the Insiders have interpreted this above portion correctly, and thankfully state that they themselves should not become like or even pretend to be like Muslims. Later, however, they say some of their missionaries do become like Muslims (i.e. borrowing Muslim forms, which I will speak to later). I trust they don’t publicly claim to be Muslims. Nonetheless, the problem may come when they are asked by Muslims, or even new believers, who then are they? If they do not claim to be Muslims, yet they ask their ‘Muslim believers’ to remain and call themselves Muslims, will not someone see this as odd or confusing, or even possibly disingenuous? I found that at the conference in Atlanta, very few attendees questioned these interpretations of scripture, possibly because there was no platform for them to do so or because they themselves did not know scripture that well. If the Insider proponents want to be held credible,

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they are going to have to take these interpretations and hold them up to public scrutiny, outside of the comfort of their conferences. I would suggest that they write up their interpretations of these verses in journals where bona fide Biblical scholars can assess whether they are indeed interpreting these scripture correctly. My impression is that they come to the scriptures with an agenda, and then look for those verses, which they believe, will back up or substantiate this agenda. This is unhelpful and perhaps even dishonest. Many cults have worked on that principle, to disastrous effect. I hope this is not the case here. 2.7 Muhammad
New believers, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, are given the freedom to come to their own conclusions concerning the role that Muh}ammad played in their lives.

Jay’s Assessment: By giving tacit approval in the above statement, they are saying that they do believe Muh}ammad is capable of prophethood. In the CG notebook they go even further, stating, ‘My own judgement is that I see Muhammad as an authentic prophet of God, even though like other prophets after the time of our Lord, neither morally perfect nor doctrinally infallible.’ Like 2.4 above, here is another case of saying one thing at the conference and in their hand-out, then pulling back to a more neutral stance once they are held accountable publicly. Once a person admits to Muh}ammad’s prophethood publicly they are agreeing with the Shaha>dah. This is often used as a ‘litmus’ test concerning a person’s allegiance to Islam, and thus is a clear ‘identity marker’ for all Muslims. Many Christians can repeat the first part of the Shaha>dah: ‘There is only one God but God [Alla>h]’; it is the second part which becomes problematic, ‘and Muh}ammad is the prophet of Allah’. It is this statement which any convert to Isla>m must say, and which all Muslims before entering Mecca during the Hajj must repeat. I certainly would not say the Shaha>dah in its entirety, not only because I don’t believe it, but because of its significance to Muslims. One must not trifle with such identity markers, nor impose our interpretations on them, as they are foundational for one’s faith; to do so

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will not only foster confusion, but be seen as disingenuous, and lead to anger. To even suggest that Muh}ammad is a legitimate prophet opens the Insider movement up to a host of questions. To assert the Shaha>dah is to embrace Muh}ammad's life and example as 'of God'. Yet Muh}ammad opposed (even hated) the cross, denied the deity of Christ and advocated many acts which Biblical morality would reject, as they were evil. To 'sign' one's assent to his prophethood is to submit spiritually to his example, and to endorse his rejection of Christ. It is not up to individuals from outside this tradition to redefine what this example and teaching mean. What true prophet, following the time of Jesus, would be permitted doctrinal fallibility concerning the nature of Jesus? Take for instance Muh}ammad’s supposed revelation, the Qur’a>n, where in Su>rah 4:171 Jesus is considered only a messenger, not one of three, and not the son of God; or Su>rah 5:116 where one finds a confused notion that he and Mary should not be worshipped alongside God. More worrisome, what true prophet would ever suggest that Jesus did not die on the cross, and state that another man was given his image, implying he took his place (Su>rah 4:157)? What true prophet would deny in one sentence what is perhaps the greatest act in the history of mankind, to say nothing of the fact that if this were true we and all of humanity are still damned for eternity?! If Muh}ammad doubted Jesus’ divinity (as every Muslim exegete for the last 1400 years has attested), and denied both the crucifixion and the Atonement (likewise attested), then how can the Insider Movement proponents even suggest he is a prophet by simply stating he ‘pointed to Jesus’? As we’ll see later, they then impose their own interpretation on Qur’a>nic text to support such dubious conclusions? We also have to be honest about the negative aspects of Muh}ammad’s life (i.e. his convenient revelations, aggressive wars, the treatment of the Jews in Medina, and the numerous caravan attacks in Su>rahs 9:1-5; 9:29; 8:39, as well as the ‘Maghazi’ documents [battle campaigns] within the S}i>rah tradition). What should we do with Muh}ammad’s multiple wives (Su>rah 33:50) in contrast to the Qur’a>nic allowance of only four (Su>rah 4:3), or his suggestion that Zayd, his adopted son, divorce his beautiful

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wife Zaynab so that he could then marry her himself (Su>rah 33:36-37)? The list could go on. What is more problematic, from a Biblical perspective, is that Muh}ammad does not qualify in any of the four Biblical criteria required to attain the office of prophet, namely 1) he was not in the prophetic race (i.e. via Isaac’s line); 2) he did nothing to prove he was a prophet (i.e. neither a miracle nor a prophecy); 3) his revelations contradicted previous and later Biblical revelations (especially concerning Jesus Christ); and 4) he never knew the personal name of the God he was supposedly representing (Yahweh). This name is clearly shown in scripture as God’s personal and eternal name (Ex 3:14-15), a name every true prophet knew, and the name even Jesus appropriated for himself in John 8:58. As far as I’m concerned, we must not acquiesce on this point, but follow the dictum clearly stated by Moses in Deut 18:20 ‘...a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death’. 2.8 Christian Forms
Christian traditions and creeds ARE later accretions by definition. Yet, the Western expression of the Church with, ‘creeds and structures, baptism and the word trinity’ is just as valid as any other form that God is using to reconcile people to Himself through Christ. However, where extra-biblical forms create a barrier which is keeping people away from reconciliation with God, they should be considered optional. The point is not that Christian traditions and creeds can or should be simply replaced with Muslim ones. The point is that the Bible is our standard - not the traditions. Let the Bible be the creed and source of theology, rather that extra-Biblical terms like ‘trinity’, which are part of Christian denominations. Muslims don’t have to go thru Christianity, but Christ alone.

Jay’s Assessment: There is a growing desire in Western Christianity to move away from the traditions of the church and return to a purer Biblical paradigm. The Emergent church is reflective of this move, and I recognize the attraction. The Insider paradigm seems to borrow from this new tradition, and certainly owes much to it. I wonder, however, if in our desire to get back to the fundamentals we too easily jettison 2,000 years of practice and tradition, mostly, I firmly

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believe, founded in scripture, modeled on Christ’s example, and motivated by the Holy Spirit. To then, in one generation, move away from the creeds of the church, belittle the need for baptism, or suggest the word ‘trinity’ is unhelpful. Replacing them by seeming ‘dynamic equivalents’ from a faith which from its very inception has been in competition with, and I believe a rejection of Christianity, is not only naive, but sparks of arrogance and Western intellectual imperialism. 2.9 Muslim Forms
[Mosque, the prayers, the Ramadha>n fast, the Qur’a>n]. Muslim forms with transformed meaning can become ways of practically living out Jesus’ commands to wholeheartedly love God and selflessly love one another. As the ‘perfect insider’ Jesus used some of his culture and religion; he transformed the meaning of aspects of his culture and religion, and he threw some out. We should not quickly condemn nor absolve a particular form but we need to test it in its context to see its true nature. The CG team has always been very involved in spiritual warfare, deliverance, and freedom in Christ issues. When the meaning of forms is transformed by the Spirit of God they can become helpful and empowering. Some Insider Missionaries have become like Muslims (i.e. dress, vocabulary, lifestyle, even going to the mosque). They can continue using forms meaningful to them.

Jay’s Assessment: Following on from the discussion above, in an attempt to divorce themselves from an accretion of 2,000 years of ‘Christian’ forms, the CG and IM (Insider Movement) people have decided it is perfectly acceptable to adopt and adapt an accretion of 1400 years of ‘Muslim’ forms, which even they accept are neither Qur’a>nic, nor reflective of the prophet Muh}ammad’s example. Why reject one set of forms, which I would suggest is modeled on a Biblical understanding of Christ’s example yet is deemed insufficient by CG proponents, and then turn around and adopt another set of even more inadequate forms? At least the Christian forms are an attempt at being Biblical. From the outset the Islamic ones are intended to be anti-biblical, anti-Jewish, and antiChristian. Jesus, the ‘perfect Insider’ could do so because the culture and religion from which he borrowed were deeply ingrained in Biblical forms, over which he applied Biblical meanings. The same cannot be said of Islamic forms.

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What’s more, many of these Islamic forms the Insiders are borrowing cannot so easily be publicly imbued with Christian meaning, at least not by Muslims who are knowledgeable and aware. One simply cannot call oneself a ‘Muslim’ and then go to the mosque as one, hoping that the true Muslim will accept his (the Insider’s) imposed meaning on him, anymore than if a Muslim did the same in reverse, forcing his view of Christianity on us. Not only would the true Muslim have something to say about it, but once they understood what was intended, would see this as nothing more than deceit; what’s more it’s a threat to their whole identity. We cannot, as outsiders, create the meaning for the term ‘Muslim’, anymore than we would let them delineate who is a ‘Christian’. To do so, once again, suggests arrogance coupled with Western intellectual imperialism. Finally, the Insider proponents make the point that ‘some Insider Missionaries have become like Muslims’. Are they then endorsing this practice, because earlier in section #6 they seemed to repudiate such a notion? They need to be clearer on this point. Nonetheless, if ‘extraction’ is not biblical and therefore wrong as they argue, how then can it be right for the missionaries to be ‘extracted’ from their own oikos and become like Muslims? In practice, if everyone were to remain an ‘insider’ there would be no mission. In fact, if the early Church had remained an insider movement, a Jewish Sect, there would have been no World Christianity today, for there would have been no way to fulfill the Great Commission. 2.10 Spiritual Power
There is no intrinsic spiritual power imbued in Islamic Forms (the Mosque, ritual prayers, fast, etc.). We would underline intrinsic. Similar to meat sacrificed to idols, the spiritual power which is present in Islamic forms is dependent upon the faith/belief/ conscience of the practitioner. This can be glorifying to God or maintain a bondage to demons. As in any forms in any religion (including Christianity), there can be demonic bondage.

Jay’s Assessment: After more than a quarter century working with Muslims, I am convinced that there is a spiritual control which pervades this religion, imbuing its forms with a spiritual power, manifested routinely by their absolute conviction to its seeming truths. What other religion creates such utter fanaticism to its causes, and can send so many to their

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deaths? At the centre of this growing religion sits the mosque, the ritualistic prayers, the fast, even the public reading of Qur’a>nic verses, all of which have never changed in 1400 years. I believe these must not be adopted but resisted, and yes even abolished, because of the spiritual control they have over those from ‘inside’. When I talk to believers from a Muslim background (BMBs) here in London, and ask whether they can or should adopt or retain their former Muslim forms in their religious practices, they cringe in response. They understand something I believe many of us in the West are simply incapable of understanding: many of these forms are imbued with spiritual power and have an evil and controlling influence which stretches back for generations, and it often take much prayer to be released. As I travel and talk to missionaries in the Muslim world this area of concern, the immense spiritual control Islam has over its practices and its adherents, is being voiced with increasing frequency. Growing numbers now are spending the majority of their ministry in praying for release from the demonic and spiritual domination of Islam. We should therefore be careful before pronouncing judgment, suggesting they are simply benign, unwittingly trivializing something few of us outside of Islam have ever experienced. We should be even more cautious about naively adopting them either for ourselves or for the new believers. 2.11 Contextualization
See 1 Cor 15:3, 4. This is the way in which the Gospel is presented. We allow meaning of forms to be transformed to bring them into accord with the rule and reign of Christ (under the law of Christ - 1 Cor 9:21). We are not afraid of participation in some Muslim religious forms. Our principle is to follow Christ’s example (1 Thes 2:3). In practice, some Insider missionaries do this…some do not.

Jay’s Assessment: I commend the CG people for contextualizing the gospel within every culture, including that of South East Asia and now the Middle East. Most missionaries from a C3 and C4 paradigm do the same all over the world. What I caution is the prevailing CG view that all South Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures are necessarily and uniquely Islamic, assuming that the culture cannot be separated from the religion (i.e. to be an Arab or a South East Asian is to be a Muslim).

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While Islam has dominated these cultures for, in some cases, up to 1400 years, there was and still is a secular or previous religious (even in some cases Christian) culture which existed long before Islam arrived, and which still exists today. In our haste to contextualize we may be jumping too quickly into adopting Muslim forms, without first asking whether there are existing secular or even Christian cultural equivalents which can be used, or are already being used by the existing indigenous secular, and/or Christian minorities in those cultures. Have not indigenous Christians also been adapting what they believe is Christ’s example within their own culture, for over 2,000 years; should they not be first consulted before adopting forms deemed by them synonymous with a faith which has persecuted them for 1400 of those years? Furthermore, the CG proponents claim they are following Christ's example. But they themselves argue that Jesus was an Insider and that he stayed within Judaism and Jewish culture. If they were true in following His example, then there should be no contextualization. If it is wrong for non-Western believers to take on Western traditions, how can it be right for Westerners like the Insider Movement leaders to then take on Islamic traditions? You can’t have it both ways and be intellectually honest. 2.12 Kingdom of God
This is the central theme and message of Jesus Christ in the New Testament: the good news of the kingdom of God. Our commitment is to bring an unencumbered, pure gospel to Muslims. All men seek it first and enter it without any reference to a religious form or denominational creed. The rule and reign of God is broader than religious labels. Salvation is through Christ and entering his kingdom, and not through the joining of a particular ‘religion’.


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Jay’s Assessment: I like the idea of coming directly to the Kingdom, unfettered with any cultural or religious overlay. I have difficulty, however, believing that Christianity and Islam (as symbolized by the two small circles above) are equally inadequate interpretations of that Kingdom. How can anyone take Islam’s track record (i.e. the violence towards other faiths, towards women, and towards minorities), all of which can be sourced in their primary revelations (the Qur’a>n and the traditions) and best modeled by the prophet Muh}ammad, and compare it with the track record of Christianity (i.e. our paradigm of peace towards our enemies, the care we show for the widows and the orphans, and our charity to the poor, the oppressed, and the strangers in our midst), all of which likewise can be sourced in our primary revelation, the Gospel, found in the New Testament and modeled by Jesus Christ himself? Have we become so cynical and so apologetic that we believe the witness and testimony of the Christian Church around the world is no better than that of Islam? While recognizing that there may be unbelievers within the visible Church who do not witness the gospel correctly, what ground is there for condemning the entire visible church as being as ungodly, unbiblical, and equally distant from the Kingdom of God as Islam is; or the followers of any other major religion, which seems to be implicit in this diagram? Furthermore, what then would the CG and IM proponents suggest makes up this ‘kingdom of God’, which is so much greater than that which we already have within the church body worldwide? Is it not rather audacious that they somehow know better what that kingdom is, than the more than two billion body of believers worldwide? Have they, in the last 15-20 years, found what 2,000 years of Church theologians, pastors, priests and practitioners have not? Too often I find this ‘kneejerk’ cynical attitude towards the 21st century church disturbing, as it suggests gross political correctness based on a strong post-modern critique that is increasingly infecting the American church. It is not difficult to see that once this cynicism invites mistrust to the very foundations of our faith and practice, it’s a simple step to then stride willingly into adopting the ‘romanticized’ structures of Islam? It is simple not to realize that the very cynicism that brought about this mistrust is hopelessly incapable of guarding us from its dangers. The result: soon Islam, and not Christianity, becomes the ‘new’ Kingdom of

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God. Those who are its purveyors become almost evangelistically naivistic in their fervor, so that traditional Christians and Muslims alike are confused as to whom they are talking to. The result is the creation of a new ‘sect’, what one might call ‘Chrislam’. Is this then what the IM proponents hope is their new ‘Kingdom of God’? Finally, what about intergenerational transmission, that which will be passed on to the next generation? It has been documented that after the Islamic conquests in the 7th-8th centuries, some Christian communities gained permission to convert to Islam as 'insiders', i.e. Christian followers, by simply repeating the Shaha>dah. This was to avoid paying the jizyá tax, and all that this represented. In time these communities all disappeared, as their children were trained by the Imams and inevitably lost contact with their former communities and co-religionists. What have the IM proponents put in place as their intergenerational strategy to keep this from happening with their new believers? 2.13 Water Baptism
Confession of our relationship to Christ is central to the faith of the new believer. Water baptism and circumcision were both rituals in the Jewish community. Circumcision proved to be a tremendous barrier to the natural expansion of the gospel, and was internalized to be ‘circumcision of the heart’. ‘What decision would the early church have reached had the Gentile revulsion been against water immersion instead of circumcision?’

Jay’s Assessment: The analogy with Circumcision in this instance is incorrect. Circumcision was a public Jewish ‘identity marker’ which no longer was needed in the first century Church, due to a fulfillment of all it signified in Christ Jesus; water Baptism was introduced by Christ (Mat 28:19) specifically as the new public identity marker. Baptism is a clear public statement that the believer is now dying to his old life and arising with Christ. There are some missionaries who are toying with ‘dynamic equivalents’ that would be more adaptable for their environments, and I support their efforts. What disturbs me here, however, is that the CG and IM people imply a complete renunciation of a primary Christian institution and, for many, a sacrament of the church, jettisoning it out of a revulsion for, and a natural barrier to, the gospel. If public baptism brings about persecution,

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and it will (since for most Muslims it is the act of baptism which publicly acknowledges that one is leaving Islam), then, I can only assume that for the insiders, the solution is to discard it along with the other Christian forms, to accommodate the sensibilities of our Muslim friends. Should that ever be the motivation for renouncing a Biblically mandated sacrament? What, then, are they suggesting as a replacement? How far will this accommodation go, and what will be retained (in this new Kingdom of theirs) which will be recognizable as a Biblically inspired ‘kingdom of God’? 2.14 Christ’s Divinity The focus of the new ekklesias is to ‘congregate’ together for fellowship, and obey Jesus Christ, trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jamaats may simply be the people of God living and interacting together in community for prayer and reading the word, and not for just once a week meetings. Jay’s Assessment: While I have little difficulty with dropping the name ‘church’ and replacing it with Jam‘a>t, or any other name deemed appropriate (providing Muslims understand who we are and what we mean by this name), I do question the criteria needed to qualify as a new believer in the Jam‘ah. What do the Insiders mean by ‘Lord and Savior’? Most Muslims I know consider a Lord as anyone in authority, and a Savior the function of all prophets, though they would not include salvation from sin (a criteria hardly mentioned in any of the writings or speeches by the CG group). I would prefer a clear pronouncement that Jesus is indeed God incarnate, co-existent with God the Father and God the Spirit. The Rom 10:9-10 passage demands that we must recognize Jesus as Lord yet, in the context, that lordship definitely includes divinity. Somewhere there has to be a clear public recognition that Jesus is God, pure and simple. For me, that is the ‘Shibboleth’, which proves the believer, indeed knows the true Jesus of the Bible, and not simply the ‘Isá of the Qur’a>n.


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2.15 Conversion
‘Proselytos’ only refers to Gentiles becoming Jews. ‘Epistrophe’ (Acts 15:3) literally means to turn towards and ‘aparche’ literally means first fruit. Neither necessarily implies changing one’s religion. Our point is that the English translation falsely gives the impression that faith in Christ is connected with conversion (changing religion or denomination) and has an inflammatory implication for those of a Muslim background who are considering becoming followers of Christ.

Jay’s Assessment: Whether you are changing from a gentile to a Jew, or from Islam to Christianity, or from Christianity to the ‘Kingdom of God’, or even from traditional missionary methodologies to the Insider model, you are nonetheless changing your allegiance from one set of beliefs/practices to another. Call it conversion, reversion, or whatever you like; it still requires a mind and heart change. To deny it because it is inflammatory to Muslims misses the point. Conversion to any belief or faith always has inflammatory implications, especially when the act implies that the faith one is leaving has proven inadequate and inferior to that which he is accepting. To separate Christian conversion from visible Christian community is to separate two things that ‘God has joined together’. Furthermore, if conversion does not mean changing one's religion, then why bother with missions? Why not simply leave everyone in their respective religious traditions? Witness is about calling people (Rom 10:14-15). When you call someone the response includes going to answer the call, and the going means leaving one spot for another. To become a Christian does not necessarily mean being extracted from one's family, but it is a call to become part of a bigger, extended spiritual family. Paul ends vs. 15 by saying, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news’. May we all walk proudly with ‘beautiful feet’. 2.16 Quarantine
New Muslim believers are ‘guarded’ from those western traditions that have nothing to do with the message of Jesus. We guard the new Muslim believer from those who ’trouble those turning to God‘ and who ‘make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the new disciples’ (Acts 15). If the new believer is ‘branded’ Christian by the unbelieving community, the label, not

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the message, becomes the primary obstacle for spreading of the gospel. It is therefore important to keep people separated for a period of time.

Jay’s Assessment: There is wisdom in initially keeping the new convert or believer hidden as a secret believer, a practice common to many missionaries in Muslim lands due to the persecution which will befall them if they announce their belief in Christ too publicly or too quickly. This idea of ‘guarding’ them from any unhealthy Western traditions, however, sparks of political correctness and drives a wedge between the western churches and believers (which I’m sure also includes all nonMuslim background churches). It will lead to isolation and eventually, if not controlled adequately, to syncretism and possible heresy. Will those of us in the worldwide church, due to such ‘guarding’ and resultant isolation, even recognize them as fellow believers, or enjoy fellowship with them? If this quarantine continues, will the Insiders have not merely created a sect within Islam of those who love Christ, yet remain within and under the authority of established Islam - as I mentioned before a sort of ‘Chrislam’? Furthermore, I wonder what they mean when they say they are ‘guarding’ new believers from western traditions that have nothing to do with the message of Jesus? Do they mean that these traditions have nothing to do with the message of Jesus, or that they are merely Western? If it is that they have nothing to do with the message of Jesus, then what do Islamic traditions (in which they are seeking shelter for the new believer) have to do with the message of Jesus? Islam is not a context that promotes long-term spiritual health and growth4. Once again the Insider proponents on the one hand pretend to be champions of local culture and therefore champions of contextualization, while simultaneously demonizing their own local culture. 2.17 Persecution
We believe persecution is Biblical, necessary and helpful. One’s commitment to Christ and the cross should be the source of persecution. Jesus said we must love him more than any family member. (Luke 14:26) This applies
Miriam Adeney, Daughters Of Islam: Building Bridges With Muslim Women (2002), pp. 76-82. 
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in all cultures, including America. But loving Christ more does not always imply becoming a traitor to family members, or offending them. On the contrary, we are taught to honor all men 1 Pet 2:17, including our parents. If persecution is because we desire to live a godly life in Christ (2 Tim 3:12) then so be it. If persecution is because of our rudeness, dishonoring of parents, etc., then it is not persecution for Christ.

Jay’s Assessment: This is a hard one to tackle, for two reasons. To begin with, every Insider proponent I meet bristles at the suggestion that this movement is designed to stave off persecution. So, they emphasize emphatically that their entire paradigm is based not on preventing persecution but on preventing extraction from the oikos, or Muslim family structure. I’ve already dealt with the problems of defining a true family earlier, and the biblical injunction that we should expect and even welcome extraction. What I ask here is whether deep down there is not really a fear of persecution, which is a common fear, evidenced by the entire church worldwide when dealing with Islam. Let’s admit it and move on, since I believe this might just possibly be a subtle motivating factor for the whole Insider paradigm, though I’m sure I will be publicly castigated for even suggesting such a motivation. Secondly, and more problematic: what will the reaction be of true Orthodox Muslims worldwide to the Insider movement, once they find out what they are doing to their religion, to their scriptures, to their God, and to their prophet (i.e. taking these sacrosanct religious identity codes and imposing their own meanings on to them, without their permission)? I don’t mean the kind of ‘benign’ Muslims the Insiders have met thus far, but the kind of Muslims I work with here in the UK: those who passionately and publicly define themselves by the very ‘identity codes’ now being adopted by the Insiders (i.e. calling themselves Muslims, though they impose their own meaning to it; attending the mosque without applying the category of worship to Allah assumed by most Muslims; practicing the ritualistic five daily prayers, yet not praying to the Qur’a>nic Alla>h, but to ‘Isá, which is an aberration to true Muslims)? Will the traditional Muslims not feel deceived, possibly threatened, and certainly angered? And should we blame them? Would we not feel likewise if the same were done to us, in our churches, by Muslims posing as Christians, reading from our Bible, yet imposing their own interpretations on it; suggesting that Jesus never claimed to be God, or that he really didn’t die on the

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cross, and that certain Biblical verses pointed to a final prophet yet to come, the ‘parakletos’, better translated as Ah}mad, or Muh}ammad? The traditional Muslim, once he understood our agenda, wouldn’t be as benevolent as those of us who are proud to be called a ‘Christian’ in public, yet find fault with this movement on so many levels. He wouldn’t simply write an assessment of it, as I have done here; no, his response would indeed be much stronger, more physical, and include public persecution, possibly greater than that reserved for apostates. I posed this question to a missionary going to the Middle East as an Insider, and his response was to point his finger at me and say, ‘I rebuke that thought’ - not much of a defense, nor much of a consideration of where this Insider game could possibly lead, all of which is rather worrying indeed. In conclusion, let me say two things. First, may I remind the proponents of the Insider paradigm of an oft-repeated accusation we level at many Muslim apologists today, the practice of dissimulation, or t}aqqiya, defined as concealing or disguising one's beliefs. Is this not what IMers are practicing, or asking new believers in Christ to practice? Is this really how we want the world to know us, and does it fit the example and practice of our Lord Jesus Christ? Secondly, and finally, there is a deep ethical issue for Insider proponents concerning accountability and reporting back to the Christian churches that fund their ministries. These movements and their proponents, under the guise of security, are often not forthcoming and accurate in reporting what they do to their financial supporters back in their home countries. I am surprised just how little churches and even families in the West know about this movement and yet, despite this ignorance, continue to fund it. 3. CONCLUSIONS In summary, I leave below a set of concluding queries which I would like the Insider proponents to answer: • Let’s be clear, should not the true family of Christ take precedence over our biological family?

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• •

Are we not challenged by Mat 5:15 to confront the darkness within our biological Muslim family, rather than to acquiesce to its model? When we do challenge, should we not expect and even welcome the resulting persecution which has emboldened the church for the last 2000 years? Should we expect new believers to be the best agents for reaching out to their families, especially while they are such ‘babes in Christ’ and therefore the most vulnerable to Islam’s pernicious spiritual power and control? In giving undue credit to the Qur’a>n, will we not then find it difficult to move away from that which we have inadvertently given authority to? When faced with the fraudulent borrowings within the Qur’a>n, should we then put it alongside our own scriptures as a possible ‘holy book’? Can CG and IM proponents not see that Muslim Compliant translations of the Bible not only do an injustice to that which the author originally intended, but justify the accusation by Muslims that we change our Bible whenever we find it advantageous to do so? If we extricate the Fatherhood of God and the sonship of Jesus Christ from the Bible, how then will we explain the unique modeling of fatherhood and sonship which we now enjoy within the Christian family? In their attempt to include the ‘sons of Ishmael’ within the covenant, uniquely reserved for the ‘sons of Isaac’, do not Insiders ‘eisegete’ certain scriptures, which tortures the text and can lead to greater problems later on? Won’t imposing our own agenda on scripture (i.e. ‘staying like’, or ‘remaining in’ Islam, taken from 1 Cor 7:17-24) not only do injustice to that scripture, but stand it against so many other verses which refute it? What’s more, if we ask the believers to remain in Islam, but then chose not to do so ourselves, will that not create confusion to not only the new believers, but the larger Muslim community?

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• •

How can we suggest that Muh}ammad is a legitimate prophet, when so much of what he did and said goes diametrically against the example of earlier prophets, or the example of Jesus himself? Since Muh}ammad does not fulfill the four criteria of prophethood stipulated in the Old Testament, how then can we accept his him as one? How, for the sake of our Muslim brother’s sensibilities, can we so easily jettison 2,000 years of questioning, debating, and coming to conclusions on how best to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then quickly and simplistically replace them with Muslim forms which not only contradict these traditions, but in some cases stand in direct opposition to the gospel message? If we believe that Christian forms are examples of later Western cultural accretions, then is it wise to simply adopt equally later cultural Muslim accretions as adequate substitutes? Is it right for those of us in the West to so easily dismiss the intrinsic spiritual power of Muslim forms, when in doing so we dismiss the very real fear our BMB brothers have for them? In our haste to adapt and adopt Muslim forms, may we not be neglecting other better and more dynamically acceptable secular or Christian cultural forms which exist in those cultures? Should we be so cynical to suggest that traditional Islam and traditional Christianity are equally inadequate representations of the ‘kingdom of God’? Certainly after 2000 years of trying to ‘get it right’ we should have something viable to show for all our efforts. I certainly am proud of where we are, and how far we have come, and say so regularly and publicly. Where then are the models of this ‘kingdom of God’ the CG and IM proponents speak so highly of; in Minneapolis, or Atlanta; or are their South East Asian Jam‘a>t the best examples? When jettisoning Water Baptism and other ‘Christian institutions’, for the sake of stymieing a possible hostile Muslim response, do the CG and IM proponents have any Biblically acceptable alternatives with which to replace them? How is the reference to Jesus as simply Lord and Savior sufficient, since both are easily applied to many Muslim prophets?

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Should we not clearly state that Jesus is uniquely God incarnate, a member of the triune Godhead? If that is too difficult to say, then where is there a clear Insider equivalent? Why should we fear the public rejection of one set of beliefs for that of another (i.e. conversion) if, indeed, the other belief turns out to be the better and more Biblically truthful? Should we be spending so much of our energies and ‘Christian’ finances in simply creating yet another sect within Islam, which remains under its auspices and control (i.e. a possible ‘Chrislam’), or should we be bringing home our Muslim friends to the worldwide family of Christian believers? Since fear of Islam is so widespread within the church today, could this not also be a contributing, motivating factor for the IM proponents keeping the new believer within their Muslim environment? If we fear persecution now, how much more should we fear the future persecution by Muslim leaders, once they find out how we have adapted and even adopted what they consider to be sacrosanct Muslim identity codes (i.e. Muslim forms) for our own purposes? Is not this whole Insider paradigm nothing more than an act of t}aqiyya, or dissimulation, a deceit which we will all be held publicly accountable for, both traditional missionary and IM proponents alike, once the Muslim world finds out?

As you can see from what I have stated above, I am deeply troubled by the beliefs and practices of many of the Insider proponents, due to their desire to incarnate themselves and their message too deeply within an Islamic context; this then unwittingly and unnecessarily elevates Islam’s foundational identity markers (i.e. the Qur’a>n, the mosque, the ritual prayers, and the prophet Muh}ammad) way beyond what I would deem safe or prudent. It seems to me that they fail to understand the dangers of such elevation, not only due to the spiritual powers these identity markers hold over Muslims, but the resultant reaction of more orthodox Muslims once they find out what they have done to such cherished Muslim forms. I feel somewhat relieved, however, that there are a few who know of the danger of such a practice, and have forwarded, I feel, a more

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healthy model in quickly bringing the searcher home to the safety and sanctity of Jesus and His gospel. Can we count our fellow missionaries within their number? Let’s hope so. Let me end with an anecdote to what I believe was possibly happening at the Atlanta CG conference in January 2009, and could be a reason the Insider Paradigm is catching on so fast, primarily in the US. As I listened to the well-developed and eloquent speeches of the leaders at the conference, I looked around at the hundreds of young faces, many of whom were students in Bible Schools and seminaries, and most of whom I was told were heading to the Muslim world. I saw them begin to revel in the possibilities of this new Insider paradigm, a model which allowed the new Muslim believer to remain where he or she felt comfortable, at home, with their Muslim family, and their Muslim traditions, and in peace. I began to want the same as they, and when the IM proponents began to name the large increase of new Insider believers around the world, and the large number of Jam‘a>t being created I, like those around me, began to get caught up in the euphoria of the possibilities of such a movement. I wanted to belong to such a success story. Who wouldn’t? Eventually, I started doubting what I had been taught all my life concerning what the gospel was, or what the church represented, and even the call to missions. I began to believe that maybe my parents, and my grandparents before them, all missionaries, maybe they were all wrong. Maybe conversion to Christ within the Church was not the answer, and possibly, just possibly, these bright and eloquent men and women knew something that no-one up to this time had known. Maybe Islam really wasn’t so bad, that Muh}ammad possibly was used by God, and that his revelation could be adopted and, yes, even adapted in bringing people to know not the ‘Western Jesus’, but the ‘Muslim ‘Isá’, in a new and invigorating way. I remember leaving the sanctuary one evening towards the end of the conference wondering how I was going to break the news to my wife and to my colleagues back in England, to say nothing of my mission board. It wasn’t until I got back to the hotel room that I realized what had just happened. I had been seduced by the ‘numbers game’ and seeming success of this movement - much like George Bailey in that most delightful movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, was so easily seduced by the banker, Henry F. Potter. George, down on his luck, is offered a new job

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in Potter’s bank, with a wonderful salary, and a wonderful life to look forward to; truly seductive. All he had to do was stop offering the poor people in the town affordable housing, housing which was in competition to Potter’s dilapidated and expensive alternative. And just as the penny dropped with George when he realized how he was being seduced, so it dropped with me. Of course I would love to tell Muslims that they didn’t have to extract from their family in order to follow Christ, that they could go on doing as they had always done, remain in their religion, follow their creeds, observe the Ramadha>n fast, and fulfill the five daily prayers. What’s more, it seemed so successful. For someone who has seen only a handful of people coming to Christ, I could now point to over 100,000 who now believed. No-one quotes numbers like that, and at first, just as it was for George Bailey, I began to see the possibilities, the acclaim, and with it the downfall of Islam in my lifetime. It all seemed too good -

which, in fact, it was.


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REPORT ON THE COMMON GROUND CONSULTANTS MEETING, SNELVILLE (GEORGIA)
BY JOHN AND ANNE SPAN
1. INTRODUCTION It was decided by the Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) leadership to send Anne and me to Georgia to investigate the usefulness of Common Ground (CG) and to give us the chance to examine it first hand as the rest of the CRWM Guinea team, excepting Bill and Diana Steele, had the chance to do in Bamako, Mali in October ‘08 The seminar underscored the critical need to understand the theology that drives a certain methodology, as well as understanding the influence of the ‘spirit of the age’ on this same theology. It also underscored what Spurgeon once said: ‘Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is the difference between right and almost right’. In this article, all direct quotations from CG are in italics. 2. ASSIGNED BACKGROUND READING BY CONFERENCE ORGANIZERS Prior to attending the seminar two documents were assigned for reading by CG. They were: John Travis’ ‘Followers of 'Isa’,1 and R. Jameson’s ‘First-Century Jews and 20th Century Muslims’.2 True to form the conference organizers put in the caveat that these articles ‘…address the early conversations about the Insider movement. Some issues have crystallized since then and have better Biblical background, but these articles will help you to begin thinking about the In1 2

www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/17_1_PDFs/Followers_of_Isa.pdf. www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/17_1_PDFs/Jews_and_Muslims.pdf. 
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sider movement’. This strategy of arguing dialectically, that is pulling the hammer back for the next blow as the phrase above demonstrates, does not indicate a moderation of ideas, as the unwitting would think, but preparation for the next hammer-blow. If I found anything, the conference actually was less moderate than these two articles. The articles:
a. Exhibit a very poor use of scripture. The temple, whose veil was torn, is described as the place of worship and thus the mosque may well be as well. Acts 21:20, ‘thousands of Jews zealous for the law’, is used to promote the insider strategy. Problem is that this is either a statement of caution by James to Paul, a statement of fear on James’ part, or simple exaggeration. Additionally, the theology of the law under the new covenant is passed over (this is one example of a confusion between shadows and realities that the book of Hebrews addresses, but CG fails to adequately appreciate). One cannot help but get the idea that Scriptural texts are marshaled to promote an agenda. Exhibit a tendency to either/or argumentation. Stephen is said to have been martyred due to being a Hellenistic convert, and the Hebraic Jews escaped persecution. Lesson drawn by the article is that it is better to have a certain chameleon quality than to suffer persecution. This is both bad use of argumentation, and a suppression of the gift of persecution promised by the Lord of the church. Again the argument is used to bolster the agenda. Exhibit a desire to correct wrongful practices that have occurred in Muslim ministry over time. This is laudable, but the correctives are done by demeaning past efforts in a wholesale manner, and demonstrate a pendulum swing to an extreme position that is likely fraught with more potential dangers than previous efforts. Exhibit straw man arguments. The final question of the Jews/Muslims article reads ‘will we [encourage] …them as they strive to remain where God has called them? Or will we brand them as syncretistic heretics, and demand that they conform to the ranks of more traditional and Western Christianity?’ Inference: it is an either or argument and the logical consequence is

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b.

c.

d.

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e. f.

adherence to ‘conform to the ranks of more traditional and Western Christianity.’ But is that the only option? Even the words, ‘to remain where God has called them’ are a blatant misuse of the passage from I Cor 7 where Paul is talking about marriage and slavery. Again the text is pressed into service for the agenda. Exhibit a certain hubris. In so many ways, they say, ‘we are on to something new. This is a move of God. How dare you critique it?’ The sense of church history is totally missing. Exhibit a tendency to make experience both normative and beyond question. Each of the anecdotal stories has a similar theme. Since experience, rather than truth, seems to be becoming normative in North American culture, these testimonies serve as ‘iron-clad’ arguments. One problem: in one of the stories a gentlemen was persecuted. From a Muslim perspective, this man was probably persecuted, not for being a Christian, but for being a hypocrite. In Islam, hypocrites, i.e. people who are pretending to be something they are not, are consigned to the 7th hell, and are considered worse than infidels.

3. THE INVITATION The CG logo is a strange creation. In it I see two converging paths, or one road that starts wide and goes to a narrow ending. (See website www.comgro.org). Above the road are two arches that curiously cross at their terminus. Only by attending the conference did I see that the presupposition of the conference is that Islam leads to Christianity and serves as a precursor to it, in a similar fashion to Judaism. The problem is that this is a mistaken premise. Imad N. Shehadeh, a Jordanian Christian, points out in his well-written, well-balanced article, ‘Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the Same God’ that ‘Jews have an incomplete view of God, and Muslims have an inaccurate view of God’. Thus any talk of Messianic Muslims is neither accurate nor helpful. It would be better to compare Muslims to Mormons, each with a prophet and each with a supposed new revelation, and each with a token acceptance of

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scripture which in reality has been abrogated (passed over as inferior) by their ‘holy books’. The logo and the conference suppress the truth that there is a ‘highway of holiness’ on which no unclean person will walk, and Jesus said, ‘Oh how narrow is the gate, and oh how narrow is the way that leads to life.’ Perhaps correctly the CG logo starts with a wide path. I wonder where it leads. The arches are a problem as well, as they are inherently unstable from an engineering standpoint. The winds of doctrine will blow them over. However, the CG slogan says that they are ‘Building bridges of trust, that will bear the weight of truth.’ Some questions must be asked. a. b. c. Who is doing the building of these bridges? What are they building them for? Who trusts who? How is this trust defined? What truth are you using to test your bridge?

In the invitation, words such as ‘field-tested’, ‘testimonies’ ‘initiating’ all give a ring of authenticity and scientific backing. The use of gerunds, ‘building’, ‘initiating’, have a slippery tendency to them, and no one really knows who is doing what, but it opens the door wide to a movement complimenting itself on its wisdom and skill. What is problematic with that is that it is impossible to boast in the cross - conspicuously absent throughout the seminar - and to boast in oneself at the same time. The overall theme of the conference was, ‘Initiating Insider Movements.’ Curiously, the conference with its frequent phrase, ‘Jesus did not come to bring religion’, would show that it is philosophically close to some of the emergent church movement with their view of ‘insiders.’ Spencer Burke, one of the emergent church movement spokesmen states:
Religion declares that we are separated from God, that we are ‘outsiders’. Grace tells us the opposite; we are already in unless we want to be out. This is the real scandal of Jesus; His message eradicated the need for religion. It may come as a surprise, but Jesus has never been in the religion business. He’s in the business of grace, and grace tells us there is nothing we need to


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do to find relationship with the divine. The relationship is already there; we only need to nurture it.3

4. THE CONFERENCE 4.1 The workbook A workbook was handed out, and the first page had a number of scripture verses on it. The translations cited, and the order of the verses all were used to show a Biblical basis for the seminar. Observations: a. b. c. The translations selected each were skewed in favor of the agenda. The parallels between Rick Warren’s use of scripture in his Purpose Driven Life/Church, and this page were very obvious.4 The first text cited was 1 Cor 9.19, ‘… to win as many as possible’. On the surface this looks laudable and even an iron-clad motherhood statement, but that is not the whole story. The presupposition behind the use of this text is that our strategy is to reach as many as possible. This is exactly the same presupposition of the church growth movement, which has ‘the church exists for evangelism’ as its operating principle. This motherhood statement is hard to contest of course. But what makes it potentially dangerous is the frequent idolatrous preoccupation of the Western church with pragmatism and results. That is to say, the end justifies the means and if we get more results, then the methods must be good. The problem here is that this suppresses the real reason for the church, which is ‘to glorify God.’ All methods and all strategies, then, are not judged on expediency, by on conformity to glorifying God. This stance is lack-

3 Spencer Burke, in Michael Wittmer, ‘Don’t Stop Believing: A Theological Critique of the Emergent Church’, p. 120, www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/michaelwittmer.pdf. 4 For a synopsis of David Wells’ Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World and the seeker sensitive movement, which has parallels to the CG Muslim-friendly movement: see www.monergism.com.


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ing in the CG strategy, as results were hammered over and over again summarized by the statement, ‘It works.’ Notes were extensive and fairly much covered the slides that were used. Indices were helpful in locating material. Additional materials for further reference were also included. The bibliography was conspicuously skewed in favor of ‘Insider friendly’ writings. 4.2 The setting The conference was held in a large church with tables at which people could confer and do occasional group scripture studies. These were helpful in getting to know people. The scripture studies, unfortunately, were all very much angled to the promotion of the agenda of the organizers, and very limited time was given with 350 people in attendance to discuss issues in the larger group. The breakout session for West Africa was a good way to meet other missionaries of the same geographical area. However, the gentleman who was the CG representative did not hide in the least that he was there to ‘groom’ us to the CG agenda. Skilful questions designed to go along with the same abounded. His use of scripture, again, was one-sided and actually manipulative. He did not receive the challenge well, at all. It was this same gentleman who referred to those who did not buy into the CG agenda as being ‘contrary.’ We did meet some other missionaries working in West Africa with whom we developed a very good rapport. 4.3 The sessions 4.3.1 The doctrinal statement The sessions began with a doctrinal statement that was orthodox for the most part, but curiously a twist to the definition of church near to the end of the statement caught my eye. It stated that insider believers were ‘to shine as lights in their natural networks’. I could not help but ask myself if this was more of an agenda than a doctrinal statement. Again, this is a somewhat slippery motherhood statement. To shine as lights is great. However, light shining cost Stephen his life, it put Paul in prison, martyred Polycarp, and torched Latimer. I am not sure this is where they

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want this to go. ‘In their natural networks’: again, a motherhood statement in a lot of ways very Biblical and seemingly innocuous. Family, friends, contacts … but, a new identity in the Body of Christ, in a new people of God, in a sacred temple of the Holy Spirit all imply a new corporate identity that is marked by separateness as well. These are new supernatural corporate entities. The supernatural and separate motifs were largely ignored. A gentleman in one of the ‘Victory Story’ sessions mentioned that he had been encouraged by the missionary to go back to his family. He was to apologize to them for having brought shame upon them by becoming a Christian. I wondered about these natural networks. The missionary was more concerned with the honor of a family than the honor of God. The ‘insider believer’ did go back to his family and was welcomed back. What about Jesus talking about going outside of the camp and receiving humiliation, and the author of Hebrews advocating the same to the readers? Not discussed. 4.3.2 Teaching sessions One of the rules of the game was established by a ‘senior’ man from Bangladesh who cited the following four rules:
Never—speak bad against the Qur’an Never—speak bad against the People Never---speak bad against the Prophet Never---speak bad against Allah

This ground rule largely dictated the selection of material presented on Islam. CG had assembled the ‘best of the best’ of their people from around the world with various amounts of field experience to communicate their strategy. More than 20 session topics dealt with animism in Islam (mostly helpful), the person of Muh}ammad (heretical), Muslim friendly testimonies (weak exegetically and theologically), spiritual warfare (mostly helpful), how to explain that the Bible is not corrupted (ok, but it presupposes that a few Qur’a}>nic citations will change a Muslim stance which reflects basic hostility to the authority of Scripture), the Kingdom of God (presented as novel, but actually very myopic), as well as a number of Scripture studies.


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a.

b.

The use of Scripture. By and large Scripture was marshaled to support the agenda. Rather than one scripture being used to temper another, extensive proof-texting and eisegesis (i.e. forcing a text to read something that it was not intended to say) was resorted to. Examples might range from the frequent use the I Cor 7 passage of ‘remaining where you are‘ to the introduction to the Muslim-friendly testimonies that advocated the use of Rev 12, ‘and they defeated him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.’ The text was pressed into service for the use of personal testimonies, but it is a text about bearing witness as at a trial about the person and work of Jesus. Curiously the last part of the text, ‘and they loved not their lives unto death’, was missing. By and large the bridge of trust that CG was looking for was weakened/demolished by its unwillingness to ‘rightly divide the Word of truth’ and to ‘preach the whole counsel of God’. The use of the Qur’a>n. The Qur’a>n was portrayed with near veneration and portrayed pictorially as being held in the hands of Muh}ammad who was described as a ‘warner’ holding a warning [i.e. the Qur’a>n] and pointing people to the Bible. There are a number of presuppositions in this image that need to be scrutinized scripturally.

4.3.3 Victory Stories A number of ‘trophies’ of the work were assembled from all parts of the globe to give their, ‘Before I was … and now I am…’, stories. As convincing as the stories might superficially appear, something was missing. Sure, some were given incontestable authority with the appearance of the Muslim ‘Isá in blinding light. Other attested to miracles. Others attested to rapid multiplication of ‘believers’. Strangely, Biblical encounters with the majestic person of Jesus always engendered a confrontation with holiness, and a subsequent awareness of the sinfulness of the human. Sin was given token assent, but sins were dealt with more, not the sin nature. Consequently, repentance was mentioned only in passing. Frequently missionaries holding to more traditional views were demeaned, and those holding CG views were exalted.

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An un-rehearsed, unscripted quote from one of the so-called believers:
I have been to CG 5x. I have reconverted to being a Muslim. I even like the Jesus more of the Qur’a>n than of the New Testament.

After someone confronted the leadership, a weak retraction and explanation was given. This was done in the predictably dialectical way that permeated the conference. Various missionaries who also had conformed to the CG ways and means were marshaled, and the drift of their messages was, ’If you do not conform to CG strategy you are not like us, who love Muslims.’ ‘I once was a Muslim hater, and now I love Muslims unconditionally.’ ‘Don’t you know that almost every Muslim loves Jesus and his Kingdom, but they just don’t like Christianity.’ The last statement is confusing at best and heretical at worst. The anthropology is humanistic, not Biblical. There seemed to be very little concern for the fact that false Christs, false conversions, and false signs and wonders were predicted by Jesus Himself. The injunction to ‘test the spirits’ is a sobering reminder to all. 5. GLOBAL OBSERVATIONS A-Z a. ‘Muslim-friendly translations’, ‘Muslim-friendly testimonies’ and ‘Muslim-friendly dialogues’ were advocated. CG seems to be a logical outgrowth of the seeker-friendly movement and has inherited its oftenquestionable theology. It would appear that underlying most of these ideas is the faulty presupposition that ‘the natural man can understand the things of the Spirit.’ As much as friendliness is advocated by Scripture, the premise is clearly in contradiction to Scripture which categorically states the need for a new nature or a new living heart to understand spiritual realities. See Beach, ‘Inside the Mind of User-Friendly Evangelism’. b. Another major premise of the CG methodology is that the church/ missions exist for evangelism, attested by scriptures used, and the focus is on results, namely souls. Expediency, however, seems to be king. See Wells on pragmatism.

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c. The laws of non-contradiction are not recognized. Whereas YHWH of the Bible is said to be truthful, never a liar and swears by his own name, and Alla>h of the Qur’a>n says that he is the ‘best of deceivers’ (Su>rah 3.54) and never swears on his own name - only on created things - the conference organizers did not seem to have any problem with equating Alla>h of the Qur’a>n and YHWH of the Bible. There does not seem to be any kind of theology of idolatry here. What would Daniel do? This is potentially very confusing or misleading. Why does the scripture say, ‘The gods of the nations are nothing/non-gods/worthless’ (Psalm 96.5)? See article by Shehadah. There seemed to be a lack of theological understanding that it is only Christ ‘who is in the bosom of the Father’ and who can make known ‘the Righteous Father’. All other ways to know God in a saving fashion are spurious and form the basis of idolatry, i.e. a God of one’s own imagination. The question of Allah of Islam being created in the imagination of Muhammad is important, but was not discussed. d. The question behind most of the presentations was not, ‘Is this true?’, but, ‘Does it work?’ There also seemed to be an underlying statement that said, ‘If you do… this will work’, or in other words, ‘Do this, and you will live.’ It would seem that moralism and works-righteousness could be rather close by, if not part of the fabric of CG. See Wells. e. The widespread use of the mantra, ‘All truth is God’s truth’, is potentially manipulative. It would be better to say, ‘All revelation of the true God’s truth mediated by Christ who is the truth, and confirmed by the Spirit of truth, is true.’ f. The lack of antithesis between Biblical truth and Islamic untruth was glaring. There seems to be no appreciation for the fact that truths, although held, are suppressed in unrighteousness. (Rom 1) It might be wise to recall the words, ‘To the extent that we are not distressed and indignant about non-Christian beliefs, we probably do not have a corresponding love toward the true God.’ (Vincent Cheung). Leaders in the Emergent Church movement also express this same sentiment.


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g. Dishonest Scholarship regarding Muh}ammed. The presentation of Muh}ammed clearly suppressed even the Muslim approved biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ish}aq. The books by Muir and others written before the 1900’s on the life of Muh}ammad were not mentioned. The tests of false prophets from the scripture were not mentioned. An authority was cited, who had worked in the Middle East for a long time. He was quoted as saying, ‘I highly respect Muh}ammad, not the one that has been venerated in history.’ Again, slippery language open to any kind of interpretation. What happened to, ‘Let your yes be yes?’ This lack of critique of Muh}ammad is consistent with the rules above. h. ‘Scholarly Opinions’. This statement appears verbatim in the workbook in the study of Acts 17 and the life of Muh}ammed. In other cases, authorities were cited to give an air of credibility. Again this was done in a selective manner. John Piper was quoted from his Let the Nations be Glad, yet the same author has raised some serious questions about the theology of the movement. Not mentioned. i. Potentially cult-like tendencies Secrecy - “Don’t even write about this conference, or put anything on the internet.’ Victimization – ‘They are against us and they are organized.’ c. Charismatic leadership - obviously intelligent. Acting on the margins of the Body of Christ, with statements that would show a sort of disdain for the Body and its history. Grooming of new attendees. A depreciation of those who are ‘contrary’ i.e. those who think differently, and an exaltation of those who are ‘in’ the group. The CG world is divided into ‘outsiders’ and ‘insiders’ and perhaps ‘inside-outers.’ Biblical interpretation scheme designed to promote the group's interests. Marshalling of testimonies, i.e. ‘victory stories’ to authenticate the group, by using a, ‘I was this and the group saved me, and now I am this….’ Set of rules that promote group-think. ‘Never… never… never’.

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The use of particular words and motherhood slogans designed to create an ‘in-crowd’ with the group. ‘Building’, ‘All truth is God's truth’, ‘Trust’. The use of phraseology that implies any questioning is to question the very ‘work of God’ Himself. A proud declaration that this is new, and since it is an experiment anything is justifiable. j. A disregard for scriptural injunctions against spiritual adultery, against cowardice, against drifting, against apostasy. No talk was given on the ‘divinely insane jealousy’ that the Bridegroom has for the unadulterated love of his Bride. It seems that the message given is that ‘a little adultery can’t hurt.’ Besides advocating a theology that will lead to spurious conversions, the strategies advocated may well open doors to start one on the road to spiritual drift and eventually apostasy. CG emphasized the present, and did not seem to seriously regard the trajectory on which it could put people and future generations. k. The Jesus of the Gospels was presented almost uniquely as the expense of the Jesus of the Epistles and of the Apocalypse. The person of Jesus was presented at the expense of the work of Jesus. This is a déjà vu to Gresham Machen who responded to the liberalism of his day (1920-30’s) that stated that it was more important to love like Jesus than to believe in him. l. The doctrines of grace were ignored or suppressed. This seems consistent with the Pelagian anthropology of the teaching. (This same ‘optimistic anthropology’ shows up in the Emergent Church movement.5) Moral suasion - that is, a sinner has the inherent ability to choose for the gospel - was presented throughout, and the bondage of the will was not at all considered. Thus Common Ground is hard at work, but it appears that it is calling, and I steal a phrase from Machen, ‘the righteous to repentance.’

5

See Wittmer, ‘Don’t Stop Believing: A Theological Critique of the Emergent Church’. 
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m. Christianizing of the Qur’a>n. In an attempt to validate the value of the Qur’a>n, extensive work was done to make the Qur’a>n more Christian than it actually is. This was both deceptive and suppressed its antiChrist nature. Again this is consistent with the operating rules given. n. In order to validate the Christ of the Qur’a>n, much was read into the descriptions of Christ in the Qur’a>n. Authorities like Samuel Zwemer were pressed into service to add authenticity, but the Zwemer statement, ‘Mohammed's mission, whatever else it may have been or done, was [an attempt to] an eclipse of the Sun of Righteousness by the moon of Mecca’ (Samuel Zwemer The Glory of the Cross, p. 41), was omitted. This again was potentially deceptive, as the Christ of the Qur’a>n is not the life, truth, way, righteousness, Lord of the Prophets, but ‘a’ something. He is not supreme in Islam. o. The spirit of the age. The following showed up in differing degrees: - Relativism: what you believe is fine, and what I believe is fine. Let’s be friends. - Tolerance: I will respect you at all costs: ‘building bridges of trust.’ - Inclusivism: all gods lead down the same path. Compare this with Brian McLaren of the Emergent Church movement who states: ‘[what] if Buddhists, Hindus, and even former atheists and agnostics came from “east and west and north and south” and began to enjoy the feast of the kingdom in ways that those bearing the name Christian have not?’ It would not be putting words into the presentation of Common Ground to have it ask the question: ‘[what] if Muslims, and even former atheists and agnostics came from “east and west and north and south” and began to enjoy the feast of the kingdom in ways that those bearing the name Christian have not?’ Curiously, the agnostics and atheists are classified as ‘former’ and the other religions somehow graduate into

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the kingdom. (See Wittmer, Don’t Stop Believing: A Theological Critique of the Emergent Church, p. 128) - Pragmatism - the end justifies the means: ‘You need a ladder [i.e. CG] to pick the more difficult fruit.’ - Subjectivism - experience is king: ‘I feel that Allah [of Islam] is the God of the Bible.’ - Therapeutic gospel: ‘I now have peace vs. I now know the cost of propitiation.’ - Success driven-ness with a great impatience for accelerating God’s work. - Fear of man more than the fear of God. I could not help but make a linkage between CG and the Judaizers of Paul’s day who wanted to avoid persecution, and who wanted to make a good show of themselves. p. Avoidance of suffering: The overall presentation, substantiated by victory stories and the preliminary readings would infer that suffering is to be avoided, and martyrdom is a curse and not the ‘seed of the church’. Coupled with this theology was the glaring lack of reference to “a better possession” which enabled the heroes of faith of Hebrews to see victory in persecution, and to texts such as John 16 where Jesus promised his disciples that they would be thrown out of the center of Jewish life, namely the synagogue. In that way the strategies promoted a rather utopian view of life as an ‘insider believer’. q. Demeaning and ignoring tradition. Correctly, CG showed that an unhealthy dependence on slavish traditions was to be avoided, but in the same breath the scope of church history was largely ignored. Statements to the effect that the doctrine of the kingdom of God was forgotten between 300AD and 1950 show a lack of theological insight, a depreciation of church history, and seem to be an attempt to bolster almost a ‘gnostic’ view of a discovered secret knowledge. As stated before, the seminar put forth a strong message to the effect, ‘This is a new work of God.’ No tests for determining if this is actually so were put forward. This ahistorical approach opens it to make the same mistakes of the past.

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r. A lack of appreciation for the linkage between form and meaning. It seems to be assumed by CG that one can pour Christian meanings into Muslim forms universally without repercussion. This opens the door to potential confusion at best and syncretism at worst. s. Blaming a lack of ‘success’ in the Muslim world almost solely on the failure of Western missionaries. Nothing was mentioned about the Islamic apostasy laws and laws of dhimmitude of Islam, not to mention writers who have observed that when Islam came to animistic societies, it hardened them away from the gospel. As much as there have been strategic mistakes by human and sinful missionaries, the tenure of the seminar was that this group in its experimentation was largely above reproach. Perhaps CG would have built better bridges of respect by taking the prayers of Nehemiah and Daniel’s approach by saying, ‘We have sinned.’ CG’s lack of critique of Islam is consistent with its house-rules. t. Semantic confusion between metaphysical common ground and philosophical common ground. The conference advocated points of contact and called them common ground, but it did not sufficiently address the fact that Christianity has no philosophical common ground with Islam. u. Risk taking. Positively, some presentations showed a willingness to be innovative in reaching Muslims ‘where they live.’ This is to be affirmed. Conversely one came away with the impression that incarnational ministry and authoritative gospel proclamation were two items that should not be too friendly with each other. v. Systems of checks and balances to keep the movement within orthodox beliefs seem to be lacking. That may be the very nature of a movement. A book that was appealed to was called, The Church Without Walls. Laudable, but again, if the church has no doctrinal walls, its roof may likely collapse on it. w. The diagrams of Kingdom circles, with the circle of Islam intersecting the Kingdom of God, show a lack of understanding between the Universal Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Christ with the cross and the church at its center, and the kingdom of darkness. Palmer Robertson’s,

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Toward’s a Reformational View of Total Kingdom Involvement, with its rather different diagrams, calls into serious question the validity of CG schema. CG appears to take common grace and moves toward the universalistic extreme advocated by the likes of Clark Pinnock, ‘People fear God all over the world, and God accepts them, even where the gospel of Jesus has not yet been proclaimed…’. Compare the conference statement already cited, ‘Don’t you know that almost every Muslim loves Jesus and his Kingdom.’ The fact that these statements are in defiant contradiction to the Scriptures does not seem to be problematic for either.
x. The dichotomy between polemics and ‘loving incarnational engagement’ is a false one that CG has set up to bolster its own position. There are at least five examples of sermons in Acts which state, ‘You killed him’. These sermons show that it is possible to speak truth in love and to walk in grace and truth. CG can remind us of a need to demonstrate genuine care of those individuals trapped in the bondage of Islam yet it needs to include the need ‘to demolish every argument set up against the knowledge of Christ’ or it will present a truncated gospel. One did not come away from the seminar with the idea that the gospel is intrinsically powerful, rather the ‘new methods’ of CG were shown to be powerful. y. Strangely, the word apologetics was belittled at the seminar, but ironically the entire seminar was a defense of the apologetic system of CG. Sure, CG gave reminders of the need for gentleness and respect in defending the faith, but consistent with North American tolerance, it bent over backwards in thinking it could win Muslims by niceness. Perhaps David Wells’ No place for truth, or, Whatever happened to evangelical theology? could serve as a good corrective. Additionally, the overly strong emphasis on evidentialist apologetics by CG needs to be tempered by a good dose of presuppositionalist apologetics. This would lead to a completely different read of the Acts 17 passage which was used in typical CG fashion to advance its agenda. z. Data that would question any of the success stories, as well as the theology of the movement, were not presented. Data on others coming to the Lord outside of CG were not mentioned. Gratitude to those who have done tedious spade-work in the Muslim world prior to 1980 was not

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mentioned. ‘Success stories’ from the history of missions were not mentioned. The uninitiated could well come away with the idea that this is truly the silver bullet for Muslim evangelism. That seemed to be the overall agenda of the organizers. 6. SOME OBSERVATIONS BY ANNE SPAN Although I have not yet completed my Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies, I could not help but notice the wrong ways of the interpretation of scriptures at this conference. I was not impressed with this statement, ‘If you can’t go to Fuller [to study Muslim evangelism] the next best place or thing is the Insider booklet.’ This is wrong. It is not the next best thing or place. The scriptures are. And if you cannot study at Fuller why not take a course by distance learning which honors the Bible. They belittled training and schooling. Another quote that put my antennae up was, ‘You want to start a movement.’ Then he went on to talk about the key being prayer. I agree with prayer. What I do not agree is the YOU. Correct me if I’m wrong but is it not God who moves people and draws them to Himself? You almost got this impression that it was about you doing the moving of Muslims hearts and then have the bragging rights to tell everyone how you did it. It is as if people are so desperate to have and see success on the Muslim field, they will do whatever it takes. What about God’s doing in all this? Isn’t it He who controls all this? One of the leaders gave a description on how this thing works and used an illustration of throwing bread to another people group who did not believe. As people were not accepting the round bread because it was not good enough, they had to change it to flat bread. This is exactly what the movement is doing. It is changing the gospel so that people will accept it. It seemed that the word was not good enough. The way they supported this movement seemed to be based on experience rather than on God’s truth through his Word. Over and over they used culture as the starting point. They didn’t ask, ‘What does God say?’, but rather, ‘What does the culture say?’

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They gave too much emphasis to the Qu’ra>n rather than the Bible and when they used the Bible it was not in context. This seemed so backwards. One of the leaders said, ‘We feel yes to Allah as being God.’ What is this, that your feelings are the barometer of what is right or not? Another leader was saying that we need to learn about the Muslims so we don’t bring the wrong message. My thought on that was that we have to be true to God’s Word, but that was not the emphasis. It was more on being true to Muslims because that’s what matters most. There were too many victory stories about how great this movement is, but unfortunately there was very little mentioned about how great Jesus has saved them from their great sins. One leader said, ‘One thing Muslims have done well is to indoctrinate the areas that are under their control’. I thought about the history of Mohammed and how he took on many areas by force but nothing is mentioned about that. Leaders talked about being careful about losing Muslim friends. I thought that if I share God’s Word I would make enemies no matter what. But we have to trust God that he will bring them under conviction and draw them unto himself. It’s not so much about losing friends, but about being concerned about what God thinks rather than what our friends think. One leader said, ‘These Muslims have paid a high price.’ This statement bothered me because it was so focused on what man has gone through. Oh, how we need a good dose of the suffering of Jesus and what he has done, because that matters most. It was all about man and not about God. I told John that I did not want to be sounding like a prophet but I thought this teaching sounded demonic to me. I did not like how they referred to Muslims as our brothers and sisters, because we are fellow humans but not brothers and sisters in belief. It was very vague and perhaps presumptuous. They referred to there being good stuff in the Bible and some good stuff in the Qur’a>n. My response was that the Bible is all good. There was much talk about honoring people/Muslims and I had to think what about God’s honor that seemed to be put down so much at this conference. I had a question in my mind in response to them saying, ‘We have spent so much time studying the scriptures’, in justification of the

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Insider Movement. How can they spend so much time in the scriptures and not see the ways that are godly or ungodly about their teachings? The leaders talked about the big picture of Allah but seemed to have a small picture of Jesus. The group presented a big view of the Qu’ra>n in the name of respect and in the name of respect of others. I asked myself what about the respect of Jesus. They talked about how one comes into the kingdom of God and said it’s by accident, chance. Not! They did not mention that God draws them. Leaders talked about seeing the kingdom in their Muslim friends’ eyes but they do not have Jesus in their lives yet. Sound weird to me. One lady talked about hearing God by listening and obeying. I wished she had talked about hearing God in His word. The way they spoke of Jesus’ birth being more descriptive in the Qu’ra>n would almost give the impression that what Luke wrote about didn’t measure up. One storyteller put a mission group down by name. However, they made sure to mention that we are not allowed to say anything bad about the Insider movement. Is this a double standard? This conference made me sad and caused me confusion. It was disappointing, dishonoring and disrespectful of who the Biblical God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is.

In summary, CG likes to put down Western Christianity, but takes the worst stuff of North American Protestantism and exports it worldwide in the name of results.
7. CONCLUSIONS The theological premises of CG make it very much a déjà vu of the times of Charles Finney (1830’s-40’s) with his ‘new measures’. The tragedy of Finney is that his system engendered many spurious conversions in the name of short-term results. This was a logical consequence of his semiPelagian theology. The long-term results of his defective theology were division in the churches, a large falling away of these spurious converts, and an eventual hardening to the gospel. Finney’s defective methodologies are still the bane of the North American Protestant church. The

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linkages between the church growth movement and the emergent church movement are obvious. As much as CG desires to be culturally sensitive, CG has forgotten that it is largely a product of 19th and 20th century North American theological movements. It needs a ‘toolbox’ to critique its own presuppositions. As much as Common Ground comes across as caring for the Muslim world, I would say that the danger signs are rife. We have shown, albeit in a very brief fashion, that its presuppositions need to be carefully examined in light of the Scripture and examined for influences of the spirit of the age. From its own presentation in Snelville, and its writings in the International Journal of Frontier Missions, one cannot help but wonder if the writing on the wall for CG is: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN’ (Dan 5.27), ‘You have been placed in the balances and found wanting’, or if Paul would have had a Galatian controversy with CG. SUGGESTED READINGS The St. Francis Magazine, www.stfrancismagazine.info, contains some of the most irenic, yet scripturally sound articles on strategies for Muslim evangelism, and raises very important questions about Insider movements. Corwin, Gary, ‘Insider Movements and Outsider Theology’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ) (1/06). Corwin, Gary, ‘A Humble Appeal to C5/insider Movement Muslim Ministry Advocates to Consider Ten Questions’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions (IJFM) 24:1 (2007), pp. 5-20. Eenigenburg. Don, ‘The Pros and Cons of Islamicized Contextualization’, in EMQ 1997, see www.gospelcom.net/bgc/emis. Evans Jr., Frederick W. ‘A Statement of Missionary Concern’. in Middle East Resources (MER), see http://levant.info/MER026.html. Evans Jr., Frederick W., ‘Neo-Evangelicalism and Its Impact on Missions: An Historical Overview’, [read at Four-Brooks Conference Center, PA July 9- 11, 1985], see MER, http://levant.info/MER027.html

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Grafas, Basil, ‘Evaluation of Scriptural Support for Insider Movements’, in St. Francis Magazine (2007). Www.stfrancismagazine.info. Grafas, Basil, ‘Insider Movements: An Evangelical Assessment’, in Ejournal of the Mission to the World (August 2006), see on www.mtw.org. Madany, Bassam, www.unashamedofthegospel.org. Madany, Bassam, http://levant.info/MER112.html, see section on Pauline missiology. Nikides, Bill, ‘Evaluating “Insider Movements”: C5 (Messianic Muslims), in St. Francis Magazine Nr 4 (March 2006), see www.stfrancismagazine.info. Schlorff, Sam, ‘The Translational Model for Mission in Resistant Muslim Society’, in Missiology 28 (2000), pp. 313-314. Shehadeh, Imad N., ‘Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the Same God?’, in Bibliotheca Sacra, 161:641 (Jan 2004). Tennent, Timothy, ‘C5 followers of Jesus (Isa) in Islamic Mosques: A Closer Examination of C-5 (High Spectrum) Contextualization’, in IJFM (Fall 2006). See www.ijfm.org. Four responses to Tennent are also located at www.ijfm.org. Williams, Mark, ‘Aspects of High-Spectrum Contextualization in Ministries to Muslims’, in Journal of Asian Mission 5:1 (2003), pp. 75-91. Woods, Scott, ‘A Biblical Look at C5 Muslim Evangelism’, in EMQ (April 2003). On the Emergent Church Wittmer, Michael, ‘Don’t Stop Believing: A Theological Critique of the Emergent Church’, on www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/michaelwittmer.pdf. On Kingdom Robertson, Palmer, ‘Towards a Reformational View of Total Kingdom Involvement Part 2’, in www.ouruf.org/d/cvt_involvement2.pdf On Muhammed Guillaume, Alfred, Translation of Ibn Hisham's recension of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah (Oxford, 1967).

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Spencer, Robert, ‘The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion’ (Washington, DC: Regnery Publications, 2007). See also www.answering-islam.org. On Pluralism and World Religions See www.institut-diakrisis.de/non.pdf. On Seeker Sensitivity and User-Friendly Evangelism Beach, J. Mark, ‘Inside the Mind of User-Friendly Evangelism’ (World Reformed Fellowship, February 2006), see on www.wrfnet.org. Wells, David, ‘ Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World’ , excerpts on www.monergism.com. See www.monergism.com. On Universalism and Inclusivism Tangelder, John, ‘The Teaching of Clark Pinnock ‘, see on www.banneroftruth.org. Reymond, Robert, ‘The Very Pernicious and Detestable Doctrine of Inclusivism’, see on www.monergism.com.


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INSIDE WHAT? CHURCH, CULTURE, RELIGION AND INSIDER MOVEMENTS IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
BY KEVIN HIGGINS
1. INTRODUCTION The discussion about so called ‘insider movements’ has become more and more an item on the agenda of missiologists and practitioners and has attracted an understandable degree of controversy. This brief paper addresses three major elements in the ongoing conversation: church, culture, and religion. I will address those by exploring five questions which form the outline for the paper: What are insider movements? What is church? Can we separate religion and culture? What is religion? What does this mean for mission practice? 2. WHAT ARE INSIDER MOVEMENTS? The years between 2004 and 2007 saw a great increase in the volume of discussion concerning insider movements. A number of significant articles on both sides of the issue, including some published in several editions of the International Journal of Frontier Missiology, were dedicated to the topic of insider movements. An entire gathering of the International Society of Frontier Missiology was devoted to the consideration


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of how the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 applied to the subject. The results of that discussion were also published.1 This process has served to refine the way insider movements are described, and also produced two published attempts at definition. I developed a longer definition:
A growing number of families, individuals, clans, and/or friendship-webs becoming faithful disciples of Jesus within the culture of their people group, including their religious culture. This faithful discipleship will express itself in culturally appropriate communities of believers who will also continue to live within as much of their culture, including the religious life of the culture, as is biblically faithful. The Holy Spirit, through the Word and through His people will also begin to transform His people and their culture, religious life, and worldview.2

A shorter definition has recently been put forth by Rebecca Lewis:
Insider movements are best defined as any movement to faith in Christ that remains integrated with or inside its natural community. They have these 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 socio-religious community while living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible.3

I would suggest that the main insights shared by both definitions might be summarized as follows:
Insider movements combine the insights of people movement or mass movement thinking concerning the church with the point of view often referred to as C5.4
1 See especially the papers by Tennent, Timothy, ‘Followers of Jesus (Isa) in Islamic Mosques: A Closer Examination of C-5 “high spectrum” contextualization’, in IJFM (24:1, Spring 2007); Gary Corwin, ‘A Humble Appeal to C-5/InsiderMovement Muslim Ministry Advocates to Consider Ten Questions’, in IJFM (24:1, Spring 2007). Kevin Higgins, ‘Identity, Integrity, and Insider Movements: A brief Paper Inspired by Timothy C. Tennent’s Critique of C-5 Thinking’, in IJFM (23:6, Fall 2006). 2 Higgins, Kevin, ‘The Key To Insider Movements: The Devoteds’ of Acts’, in IJFM 21:4; Winter 2004, pp. 155 ff. 3 This is an unpublished version submitted for comment to the author. 
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While the religious assumptions are clearly the most open to debate, the understanding of church described in both definitions is not without controversy. This leads to the second question in the outline.

3. WHAT IS CHURCH? The insider definition suggested by Lewis includes the concept that churches can be planted into pre-existing social structures, or, putting it another way, that pre-existing social structures can become the church. While this concept has generated discussion5 it is not new to missiology. Mass movements and people movements in missiological literature are described in similar ways, seeing existing structures (families, villages, clans) coming to faith as groups.6 Frequently cited as biblical background are the famous cases of group conversions in the New Testament: Cornelius, Lydia, the jailer in Phillipi, the village if Sychar. However, the ecclesiology of insider movement thinking is questioned, rightly, in at least two directions. One line of questioning addresses the contention by insider movement advocates that not only are insiders now members of a new entity or reality called ’church’, but being so does not necessarily imply that they must separate from other social identities, including religious ones. The second line of questioning concerns the relationship of believers in insider movements to the wider church, and thus the nature of the Body of Christ and its unity.

4 The C-Scale is described in John Travis, ‘The C1 to C6 Spectrum: A Practical Guide for Defining Six Types of ‘Christ-Centered Communities’ (‘C’) Formed in Muslim Contexts’ in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34(4): 1998, pp. 407-408. Most practitioners are moving away from the C-Scale, including Travis himself, or at least distinguish between C-5 and ‘insider movements’. I refer to C5 here as a convenience. 5 For a particularly aggressive critique see Bill Nikides, ‘Evaluating Insider Movements’, St. Francis Magazine Number 4, (March 2006). Nikides addresses Lewis’ viewpoints directly on p. 11.ff. A more sober critique is that of John Piper in discussion with John Travis and others in Mission Frontiers. See John Piper, ‘An Extended Conversation About Insider Movements: Responses to the September-October 2005 Mission Frontiers’, in Mission Frontiers (January-February 2006). 6 See for example, McGavran, Donald A., The Bridges of God (New York, Friendship Press, 1955); Pickett, J. Waskom, Christian Mass Movements in India (New York, Abingdon Press, 1933) 
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I will turn first to the question of identity in the Body and identity in the prior religious context. Here I do not want to anticipate the later discussion concerning religion, but merely offer some comments concerning the possibility of multiple identities.7 First, the Church is made up of believers who have been saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-10). In one sense it is true to say that no one can join the Church. People are spiritually born into it by God. Every believer is a member of the Church and, as such, is called to live out their membership in the Body of Christ, the Church, as a full time lifestyle in every venue of life. Therefore, one’s identity as a member of the Church can and does and, indeed, should overlap with one’s identity in other spheres of life. This is what is behind New Testament injunctions to work with our hands, do everything as unto the Lord and, in Ephesians, the instructions for slaves and masters. Second, the Church’s ultimate purpose is to participate in, and be the first fruits of the transformation of the universe under the headship of Jesus Christ. The Church’s primary strategy’ to fulfill its purpose is to multiply itself through functions such as those listed in Acts 14:21-28: evangelizing the lost, discipling those who believe, strengthening/encouraging the disciples, selecting and training and appointing elders in every church, and connecting with and participating with other churches in the ongoing expansion of the Gospel. I have intentionally left traditional language in place, but those same biblical functions can take place as an insider movement albeit with altered forms and vocabulary.8 Third, we see in Acts that although the Church developed the kind of structures we just noted in Acts 14, members also remained within the religious expressions of the people of Israel, continuing to attend the

7 I have attempted to address in more detail and from other perspectives the question of the church in relationship to insider movements. Kevin Higgins, ‘Identity, Integrity, and Insider Movements: A brief Paper Inspired by Timothy C. Tennent’s Critique of C5 Thinking’. Kevin Higgins, ‘Acts 15 and Insider Movements Among Muslims: Questions, Process, and Conclusions’, in IJFM (24:1, Spring 2007). 8 In my view, insider movement does not imply that no form of church takes shape. I addressed this subject in my replies to Tennent’s paper, see Higgins, IJFM (Fall 2006). 
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Temple and synagogues.9 They also met in homes and in public places such as the Temple courts for gatherings designed apparently for believers in Jesus.10 The believers did not cease to be members of the church in the Temple worship, and they did not cease to be part of the Jewish religion in the home meeting.11 There was a dual identity.12 Related to this we should note that the separation of Jewish followers of the Messiah (the Way) from the Temple and synagogue was apparently precipitated by the rise of active persecution, excommunication, and the introduction into the synagogue liturgy of curses aimed at followers of Jesus.13 The break was instigated, then, by the other members of the prior religious community, not by the believers. It took time for the break to take place, and even when it did occur it was not instantaneous.14

9 Tennent acknowledges that they did so for a time. Where he and I disagree is primarily over the question of what or who initiated the eventual separation, why it took place, and whether the church only came into being as a result of the separation (Tennent) or had been birthed prior to that (my view) while still also remaining within Judaism. 10 See Acts 3:1 and also 9:2 where Paul clearly expects that in Damascus he will find followers of ‘The Way’ in the synagogues. This is why he seeks letters to recommend him to the synagogue leaders. Later, in Acts 21:17ff., Jewish leaders (who follow Jesus as Messiah) express their concerns about the large numbers of Jewish believers who have heard that Paul no longer keeps the Law. So they urge Paul to make a public expression of his Jewishness. 11 Luzbetak describes groups within cultures that function within the society but as alternative structures. This needs to be explored further. See Louis J. Luzbetak, S.V.D., The Church and Cultures (New York, Orbis, 1988). 12 It is important here to address the question of whether the ’Jewish Religion/Follower of Jesus’ link we have been discussing is actually a parallel to the ‘Islamic Religion/Follower of Jesus’ connection that insider advocates argue for. There is not room in this paper to treat this in detail. I refer the reader to a subsequent footnote in this paper (note 15) and to an earlier article where I seek to address this more fully, The Key To Insider Movements: The Devoteds’ of Acts, IJFM (21:4; Winter 2004). 13 See the discussion of this development in Whitacre’s commentary on John’s Gospel (in the IVP series). On page 244 Whitacre concludes that the separation from the synagogues took place in the second half of the 1st century. That is, about one generation following many of the events of Acts 14 Whitacre indicates that a number of scholars feel John’s Gospel was addressed to a mixed community including some who had been excommunicated or had left the synagogues, as well as some who still remained within. Both groups were followers of Jesus. Rodney Whitacre, Johannine Polemic (SBL Dissertation Series 67, 1982), p. 19. See also Raymond Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple (Paulist Press, 1979). 
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Fourth, the disciples remained in the structures of the Temple in spite of theological differences. It is sometimes suggested that the insider approach encourages dishonesty because remaining within the structure communicates agreement with the religion and theology of the structure.15 The theological differences that certainly emerged and intensified between Jewish followers of Jesus and Jews who did not accept Jesus as Messiah were present within Jesus’ own ministry, and indeed resulted in His death on the Cross. We see these differences clearly articulated in the earliest sermons of Acts. And yet, for 50 years or more a total separation did not occur.16 Finally, what I am suggesting here is that the biblical definition of Church does not necessarily refer to a bounded or closed set social grouping which prevents a member of His Body, the Church from also being a ‘member’ of another social or even religious structure or expression.17 We will return to the religious question below. The second line of questioning concerns the unity of the wider Body. Acts 15 asks a very important question concerning unity and fellowship ‘between movements’. When we seek to apply this passage from Acts 15 two ‘simple’ answers to the unity question could be posited. One possible position is that since God was working among Jews and gentiles to create one new Body, then we should not seek the development of separate movements among insiders. Certainly some texts point to this. (see Eph 2, Gal 3)
See for example, Nikides, 2006. I agree that in many respects Judaism is a different case from Islam. However, the fact is that at a very practical level, the early Jewish followers of Jesus faced much the same situation as do Muslim followers of Jesus today. Some who object to insider approaches cite the fact that new believers will not receive true teaching if they attend the mosque and in fact, will hear things in direct opposition to the Gospel. This is certainly true, but it was also true in the Temple of the 1st century A.D. and, yet, the early movement did not stop attending for that reason. It is also worth noting in this connection that Paul refers to the Corinthians’ continued participation in the act of ‘dining in an idol’s temple’ as an activity he seems to assume is taking place (1 Cor 8:10). His correction of the behavior is due to its potential affect on another, weaker, believer and not, apparently, because of actually being at table in a pagan temple. 17 Clarification is needed lest I be misunderstood. In one sense, I do see Church as a closed set: only those who are born from above and incorporated by the Spirit in His Body are members. However, they are not thereby excluded from living in and among other social and religious structures as yeast in the dough. 
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On the other hand, some argue for two totally separate movements. Passages such as Paul’s self description in 1 Cor 9:19 ff. might be cited to support such a position, though Acts 21:17 ff. with its description of Torah observant Jews who follow the Messiah is more directly applicable. Acts 15 can be read as support for either position: one new movement in which Jews and gentiles are granted freedom to live as Jews and gentiles, or two separate movements that each recognized the other as a valid work of God. However, clearly there were cases where gentile and Jew, followers of Jesus, met together not only occasionally but in the same fellowships. Rom 14 and 15 provide an extended discussion of solutions to the difficulties posed by this reality. Thus, at a bare minimum, insider advocates need to recognize that a good deal of material in the Epistles of the New Testament, especially Paul’s letters, continues to address the problem created not by the separateness of these movements but by how they should interact with each other. How they do so is open to question, but doing so seems biblically assumed. Given the security issues prevalent in so many contexts in which insider movements are reported, there will need to be careful thought about the context in which true, living unity might take expression. I know of at least one annual gathering that includes insiders from various countries and outsiders from multiple denominational backgrounds, meeting together for a week of bible study and discussion. In another context I know of an insider movement that intentionally sought out quiet, low key but formal links with an international Christian denomination. The nature of the link was mutual recognition of each others’ ministry and ethos. The insiders were not asked to stop being insiders. The denominational leadership recognizes the ministry and ‘ordinations’ of the insiders. There was no financial dimension to this link.18 This seems to me a fruitful way forward, and a viable expression

18 While it may seem odd to add this point, I felt it important to make clear that the incentive of the insider leadership was a desire to be linked in some official and recognized way to the historic, global people of God. 
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of a more faithful ecclesiology of the ‘glocal’ church, a church that is at once and in essence both local and global, both particular and catholic.19 I have surveyed the questions concerning church from the viewpoints of identity and unity. My sketch suggests that insider movements express a paradigm of church that is a complex blend of local, incarnational identity in the Body and in the religious and cultural life of their context. At the same time we see a need to think more carefully and practically about the biblical theme of unity. This still leaves us needing to address the religious question. 4. CAN WE SEPARATE RELIGION AND CULTURE? It is generally assumed among mission practitioners that encouraging new disciples to remain within their cultures, balanced with critical application of biblical truth,20 is sound practice. For the purposes of this paper, it is not necessary to repeat in depth the particular theories about this assumption and the history of discussions about accommodation, indigenization, enculturation, and contextualization.21 Since it is not as widely accepted that remaining in one’s culture involves remaining in the religious aspects, or some religious aspects, of that culture, and since this difference of views is due to differing viewpoints as to the relationship of religion to culture, I need to address the culture/religion link before looking at religion exclusively. There are nearly as many definitions of culture as there are anthropologists. One simple definition sees culture as ‘the tradition of a particular human group, a way of living learned from, and shared by, the

19 A term that seems to have been first applied to the church by Leonard Sweet. Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsumani: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1999). A helpful discussion of the need for keeping the church catholic in view in missiological reflection can be found in a brief article surveying the life of David Bosch. Timothy Yates, ‘David Bosch: South African Context, Universal Missiology – Ecclesiology in the Emerging Missionary Paradigm’, in IBMR (Vol. 33, Nr. 2, April 2009), pp. 72ff. 20 Hiebert’s critical contextualization model has become a standard reference point, for example: Paul Hiebert, ‘Critical Contextualization’, in IBM (11(3): 1987), pp. 104-111. 21 For helpful discussions from a Roman Catholic viewpoint, see Robert J. Schreiter, Constructing Local Theologies (New York, Orbis, 2007). And from a Protestant perspective see Andrew J. Kirk, What is Mission? (Minneapolis, MN, Fortress Press, 2000). 
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members of that group.’22 This definition is focused primarily on behavior. A more cognitive orientation to culture is seen in Spradley’s definition, ‘Culture is the acquired knowledge people use to interpret experience and generate behavior.’23 Such broad pictures are typically further categorized into sub-systems. This is done in several ways, but includes categories such as customs, economics, social-structures, values, worldview, and more.24 These two views are not mutually exclusive as there is clearly an inter-relationship between behaviors and the cognitive frameworks that produce and interpret them. Where does religion fit in this discussion of culture? Not every language has a word for religion. In the English language and in European languages generally, the word religion comes from Latin and refers to binding one to the gods. Yet, in many languages there is no distinct word. If we agree with Lamin Sanneh in seeing language as the ‘intimate, articulate expression of culture,’25 then the lack of a distinct word for ‘religion’ suggests that in at least some worldviews religion and culture are in some sense inseparable.26 Although religion and culture may be inseparable in at least some worldviews, it does not mean that we can not distinguish them. Malefijt, in a section entitled ‘Religion as Culture’, defines religion as ‘systematic patterns of beliefs, values, and behavior acquired by man as a member of his society.’27 In this view, religion is certainly intimately intertwined with culture, and yet the fact that Malefijt’s book is entitled ‘Anthropology of Religion’, leads one to assume that the author sees religion as a distinct enough reality to warrant a book of its own rather than addressing religion as a chapter of a book entitled merely, ‘anthropology.’ Daniel Shaw outlines several sub-systems of culture including economics, ideology, kinship, social structure, and political organization. Ideology is defined as ‘a system of beliefs and observances relating to
Annemarie de Waal Malefijt, Religion and Culture (New York, Macmillan, 1968), p. 3. James P. Spradley, Participant Observation (New York, Hol, Rinehart, and Winston, 1980), p. 6, quoted in Daniel, R. Shaw, Transculturation (Pasadena, William Carey Library, 1988), p. 25. 24 As one example, see Shaw, 1988. 25 Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message (New York, Orbis Books, revised edition, 2009), p. 3. 26 Kirk, What is Mission?, 122ff. 27 Malefijt, Religion and Culture, p. 6. 
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origins, present conditions, and the future.’28 Further, while ideology includes expression in religious beliefs, practices, and structures, these peculiarly religious forms of ideology are extensions of an underlying cultural reality.29 Thus, we may speak of religion as a sub-system (religion) of a sub-system (ideology) of culture. Let us look more carefully then at religion as a cultural sub-system.30 Both Malefijt and Shaw describe religion in cognitive and behavioral terms. Shaw adds another element: social structure. For ease of discussion, I will summarize these three aspects of religion as beliefs, behaviors, and belonging. My purpose in doing so is to highlight the fact that the question, ‘Can a disciple remain in their religion?’, needs to be asked with all three aspects of religion in view. Does ‘remain’ mean at the level of belief, behavior, belonging, or some combination? And to what degree can one remain?31 First I turn from the question of culture and religion to the question of religion itself. 5. WHAT IS RELIGION Many evangelicals make use of a three-fold typology to discuss other religions: exclusivist, inclusivist, and pluralist.32 I will present definitions
Shaw, Transculturation, p. 24. Ibid., p. 57. 30 Kraft suggests another way to describe the overlap but distinguish-ability of religion and culture in his discussion of religion and worldview. In Kraft’s view, religion is more and less than worldview. It is more than worldview because it includes behaviors and rituals not included in worldview. But religion is less than worldview because it includes some but not all of the beliefs and assumptions providing basic perspectives for life. Charles Kraft, Anthropology for Christian Witness (New York, Orbis, 1996), p. 199. Hiebert offers a viewpoint that sees religion and culture as less separable. Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1983), pp. 371ff.). 31 Van Engen takes a different approach to the religion and culture question by speaking instead of faith and culture. The shift is not insignificant, for it enables Van Engen to speak of the Gospel and faith as separable from culture and thus as contextualizable in any culture. Following Charles Kraft, Van Engen agrees that God uses culture like a vehicle, a vehicle that can then carry faith as a passenger (1995, p. 192ff.) 32 Van Engen traces the history of this typology and offers a modification by adding a fourth category in which he seeks to balance the best insights of each and which he terms the ‘evangelist’ paradigm. Kirk suggests changing the terms to particular, general, and universal, but follows the same basic typology. Bosch sees two major paradigms that seem to reflect the exclusivist on the one hand and a combination of the inclusivist and pluralist 
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of each, with specific interest in their respective approaches to other religions:33 Exclusivist: tends to see all non-Christian religions as either mankind’s rebellious attempt to find their own way or as the result of demonic activity.34 Inclusivist: tends to assume that since Christ is Lord of all and is the light that gives light to all, He is at work in other religions and cultures even when people do not know it is Jesus. Christianity is sometimes seen as ‘fulfilling’ the best insights of other religions.35 Pluralist: sees all religions as equally legitimate pathways to God. For some pluralists, Christianity can be said to be the unique path, but only ‘for me’.36 It is tempting to proceed by asking simply, ‘Which of these three is the biblical position?’ This assumes that one of the three does adequately articulate what the Bible says. But is this a fair assumption? First, we find biblical evidence that religion is seen as the rejection of the truth of God, a rebellion masked within the form of ‘religion’. This is part of the argument in Rom 1:18ff. The prophets bore witness to idols as man-made artifacts and as such they are the objects of worship only for the foolish (Isa 40 as an example).

on the other (though he does not use those terms). Bosch suggests a third option that would balance the two. Hans Kung adds a fourth paradigm to the typology which I would title the atheist paradigm, and while the exclusivist and pluralist paradigms are evident in his writing (though his terminology is not exactly the same), where one might expect to see inclusivism he suggests the idea of all religions participating in the truth of the one religion. See Van Engen, The Uniqueness of Christ in Mission Theology, in Edward Rommen and Harold Netland, eds., Christianity and the Religions (Pasadena, CA, William Carey publishers, 1995); Kirk, What is Mission?, pp. 118ff.; David Bosch, Witness to the World (Eugene, Oregon, Wipf and Stock, 1980). Hans Kung, Theology for the Third Millennium (New York, Doubleday, 1988), esp. pages 230 and 235. 33 As opposed to also examining the equally important and related theological perspectives of Christology and soteriology and revelation that each position implies. Van Engen’s discussion provides a good overview of these other topics (1995: 183ff.). See also Kirk, What is Mission? pp. 118ff.), and Smith, (1995: 9ff.). 34 With the exception of Van Engen, this seems to be the dominant position of the contributors to Christianity and the Religions, cited above. 35 See the discussions in Van Engen, and Kirk in particular. 36 An excellent example of this position is expressed by Kung, Theology for the Third Millennium, p. 254. 
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Second, in some passages religion is said to involve the activity of demons and demonic bondage. 1 Cor 8-10 builds the case that although idols themselves are nothing, idol worship involves the worship of demons. In Gal 4, Paul argues that the Galatians had previously been under the bondage of ‘those that are not gods’. (vs. 8) Paul’s evaluation of Jews under the Law is also spoken of as bondage under the elemental spirits (v. 2). Eph 2 opens with an evaluation of all humanity living under the control of the prince of the power of the air, seen as forces at work among the disobedient gentiles, and describes these forces as those ’among whom we (Jews) also walked’. Third, the Bible describes ways in which God is at work in other religions, and suggests in at least some cases that members of other religions are in relationship with God Himself. Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek (a pagan priest of ‘God Most High’) shows us that the author of Genesis sees El and Yahweh as the same Being.37 The fact that Abraham offers a tithe suggests an acceptance of the validity of Melchizedek’s priesthood and thus, religion. This acceptance is confirmed by the New Testament view of Melchizedek as one of the crucial precursors of the Messiah. This is an astonishing acknowledgement of God’s work in another religious tradition. Amos describes God’s relationship to the non-Jewish peoples in terms parallel to His redemption of Israel in the Exodus event (Amos 9:7). God has initiated relationship with these nations. The pagan prophet Balaam used omens and divination as a seer but communicated directly with, and heard directly from Yahweh (Num 22 through 24). He is in relationship with Yahweh, and this relationship is actually facilitated by his practice of divination (Num 23:1ff.).38 In the book of Jonah it is ironically not the Hebrew Jonah who hears and obeys God. In addition, it is the pagan sailors’ prayers that are heard by Yahweh. When they cast lots, it is Yahweh who directs the answer. They are in relationship with Yahweh.

See the discussion in Ed Mathews' contribution to Christianity and the Religions in his article, Yahweh and the Gods, p. 33. Mathews draws a different conclusion, but shows the background to El and the Melchizedek event nicely. 38 I am in no way suggesting that every act of divination is a means of relationship with Yahweh, only that it was so in Balaam’s case. 
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The pagan Magi, in Mat 2, follow a star and are correctly led by it to people who can consult the scriptures and guide them more accurately to the place of Christ’s birth. But we should note that the star led them accurately. Acts 17 describes God’s sovereign design of the times and places in which humans are born. The intention of God behind this is that men and women would seek after Him and actually find Him (see 17:27). This implies that people in other religions can be in relationship to the true God. My conclusion from the above biblical material is that none of the three positions in the common typology of religions actually fit the biblical perspective.39 I will first summarize my understanding of the biblical position and then evaluate each of the three standard positions. First, humans do rebel, distort, and reject the revelation of God whether that is found in ‘general’ or ‘special’ revelation. This is true of pagan religions and, according to Paul, it is also true of those claiming to be biblical (this is the force of his argument in Rom 1 through 3). The fact that people in other religions may potentially be in relationship with God, and the fact that some actually are in such a relationship, does not mean that all people are. Second, there is a spiritual enemy who is a living and deceiving force. This deceptive and corrupting influence is at work in the world, including in the religious dimension. These first two points suggest that although people in other religions may potentially be in relationship with God, and some actually are in such a relationship, we can not therefore assume that all people are in relationship with God. Third, the texts above also show us that God is at work in the world, including the religions of the world, and God is drawing people to Himself beyond the confines and boundaries we normally refer to as ‘His people’. Fourth, several of the texts suggest that acknowledging that God is at work and in relationship with people beyond the borders of Israel and the Church, does not necessarily imply that such a relationship is a saving relationship. In Matthew 2 the Magi are rightly led by the star, but they
39 Gordon Smith also questions whether the three standard categories are asking the right question or helpful in approaching the subject. See his opening chapter in the Christianity and the Religions volume, especially p. 16. 
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are led to a place where the Bible is used to guide them further. Cornelius’ prayers are answered by God sending Peter to explain the Gospel. I would summarize this description of the biblical data by calling it a Kingdom Paradigm’ for understanding God at work in the religious life of mankind. The Kingdom of God includes the Church, but is bigger than the Church. The Kingdom refers to the whole range of God’s exercise of His reign and rule in the universe. This includes religions. The Kingdom paradigm acknowledges there is another kingdom as well, and takes seriously the battle for the allegiance and hearts and minds of people. How does this Kingdom paradigm compare with the three-fold model that has become typical in the discussion of other religions? What aspects of the three fold model fit and do not fit the biblical data? The exclusivist model rightly acknowledges the unique place of Jesus Christ as the only path to salvation and as the ultimate revelation of God. But it typically fails to address adequately the affirmations in the third biblical perspective above, and might also fail to see the potential for human rebellion and satanic bondage within the so called ‘true religion’. (Galatians is important for us here.) The inclusivist paradigm rightly acknowledges the way that God and the Risen Jesus Himself may be at work visibly and invisibly in the religious life of human beings beyond the contours of the covenant people. But it can fail to take due note of the fact that frequently in the Bible such examples as the Magi and the interaction in Acts 17 conclude with an explicit encounter with the Gospel and the Person of Jesus. The pluralist position can point to examples such as Melchizedek in which the Canaanite ‘El’ and the Jewish ‘Yahweh’ are recognized by Abraham as the same Being. However, the pluralist conclusion that therefore all religions are leading in the same direction breaks down on the wealth of biblical material we have also cited to the contrary. This position tends to underestimate the power of human sin and the reality of spiritual evil.40

40 Van Engen suggests a different way to bring together the best insights in each paradigm, which he calls the evangelist paradigm: faith particularist, inclusivist in ecclesiology, pluralist in our approach to cultures. Van Engen, 1995, 197ff. 
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My contention is that in most cases, the particular religious expression we will encounter in mission will require a response that acknowledges some combination of all three elements we have discussed. Each specific religious context will vary. No template can be applied to every situation in the same way. This will also affect our answer to the question, ‘Can a disciple remain within his prior religion?’ The discussions above suggest that the answer to this will need to be nuanced by both a through evaluation of the specific religious context, and also by the fact that “remaining in” implies at least three dimensions: believing, behaving, and belonging. 6. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR MISSION PRACTICE? I will seek to apply the preceding discussion by suggesting several implications for our practice of mission: 6.1 Maintain the Centrality of the Gospel None of the discussion above diminishes seeing evangelism’s central place in mission practice. Indeed, our entire discussion leads to a reaffirmation of the conclusion that Jesus is the only way of salvation. God uses many things to bring people to Jesus, even things in other religions, but the Gospel is unique. 6.2 Engage in Concrete Critical Reflection If God is at least potentially at work in other religions, then the contention of insider movement advocates that disciples can remain within their religious context is potentially true in any situation. Whether it is actually true in a given situation, and to what degree, will depend on the unique context and the degree to which there is evidence of rebellion, bondage, or God’s direct self-revelation. If God is active in other religions, then to at least some degree His truth can be found and responded to within the context of those other religions. In some cases, along with ongoing biblical input and appropriate forms of fellowship, this will en
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able disciples to remain within their religious context.41 Discerning all of this will require critical reflection on and in the actual context. 6.3 Keep Conversion in Perspective The preceding discussion leads to an important reminder. We need to hold firmly to a Biblical understanding of ‘conversion’ as the reorientation of the heart and mind (e.g. Rom 12:1ff.), rather than as an institutional transfer of religious affiliation. 6.4 Encourage ‘Glocal’ Expressions of Church Encouraging practical and meaningful ways for leaders of insider movements to develop relationships of mutual blessing is in keeping with biblical descriptions of church. Finding ways to do this securely, and finding non-insiders with whom to relate who will approach such encounters with respect and brotherly humility, are challenges worth trying to overcome. 6.5 Develop Biblical Theology in Context In accord with my own definition of insider movements cited at the outset of this article, our missionary practice will need to include clear thinking regarding helping ‘insiders’ to develop the capacity for developing ongoing biblical theology in the context of their culture.42 Such efforts involve adequate translations of the scriptures, intentional processes for critical reflection, and the empowerment of insiders themselves in such a process. Biblical theology in context will provide the means by

41 Even in such cases, I assume a great deal of reorientation and even re-interpretation of their prior religious worldview and beliefs will be required. I attempted to address this in prior articles. See The Key to Insider Movements, and, Identity, Integrity and Insider Movements, cited above. 42 A number of possible models exist for this. Hiebert’s critical contextualization model is perhaps the best known. A more complex and extensive model is developed in the work of Shaw and Van Engen. See Paul Hiebert, ‘Critical Contextualization’, in IBMR (11(3): 1987), pp. 104-111, and Daniel Shaw and Charles Van Engen, Communicating God’s Word in a Complex World (Boulder, CO, Rowan and Littlefield, 2003). 
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which the Spirit of God will continue to shape and correct His people, and is the safeguard against syncretism.43 6.6 View Religion as a Matrix of Belief, Behavior and Belonging I have referenced this three-part taxonomy several times. I want to conclude with a brief outline of how it might be applied. As a biblical example, I will take just one text commonly cited by insider advocates, the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5.44 Beliefs: Naaman clearly changes at least some of his beliefs. He now acknowledges that there is no God in all the earth except ‘in Israel’. (v. 15) Yet, some of his old ways of thinking remain: since there is no God except in Israel, he asks for some of Israel’s dirt that he might take it with him to Aram (v. 17). The Prophet allows him to remain in this belief about the connection between the dirt of Israel and the God of Israel. The process of change in an insider’s belief system will be a dynamic one. However, there is a clear and fundamental change of Naaman’s belief about God. Behavior: Insider advocates tend to make much of the permission Naaman receives to continue attending the temple of Rimmon (v. 18, 19). This is indeed behavior, and does speak to the issue of remaining in the religion. However, there is also a change of behavior. Naaman states clearly he will no longer offer sacrifices to any other gods (v. 17). This too is behavior, and speaks to the fact that not all behaviors will be kept.

43 Nikides argues that without the deductive teaching of doctrines such as the Trinity, believers will not arrive at the truth with the study of the bible alone, ‘The use of Manuscript Bible Studies and other inductive tools without the instruction of the church is no way to learn these’ (2006, p. 8). While the proper place of inductive and deductive approaches in discipleship is a valid question, Nikides overstates his case. One wonders how the church fathers arrived at those doctrines if it was not from their study of scripture over several generations as they reflected on culture and did so in the heat of clarifying heresy as new teachings clamored for attention. 44 Naaman is not the only example. The woman of Samaria is another example. See Stuart Caldwell, ‘Jesus in Samaria: A Paradigm for Church Planting Among Muslims’, in IJFM, (17:1, Spring 2000). For more on Naaman see Higgins, The Key to Insider Movements, cited above.


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Belonging: Naaman remains an Aramean, certainly. He does not become a Jewish proselyte by remaining as one of the aliens for whom the Law made provision. He goes back to Aram (v. 19). He goes back to being the commander of the Army of Israel’s enemy (clearly implied in v. 18). What of specifically religious belonging? On his return to Aram and to the temple of Rimmon, the other Arameans will certainly still see him as ‘belonging’ to the people who belong to Rimmon. In Naaman we see a complex situation. Some of his beliefs and behaviors change while others remain the same. At the level of belonging, he seems to have continued just as before. This should sensitize us to the possibility that our wisest response in some situations could be the same as that in 2 Kings 5:19, ‘Go in peace.’ 7. CONCLUSION Charles Kraft tells the story of a Nigerian Christian’s words to him evaluating a prospective group of new western missionaries. The Nigerian was from a traditional, tribal religious background. He referred to the older missionary view that emphasized the difference between the God of the Bible and the God of the Nigerians and then went on to say that he and his people came to realize that ‘our God had brought the missionaries to add to our understanding and commitment.’45 His hope was that the new missionaries would come to realize this as well. 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.

Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture (New York, Orbis, 2005), p. 16. Emphasis in original. 
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A RESPONSE TO KEVIN HIGGINS’ ‘INSIDE WHAT? CHURCH, CULTURE, RELIGION AND INSIDER MOVEMENTS IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE’
BY BILL NIKIDES1
1. INTRODUCTION Before launching into a detailed exploration of the author’s article, I must express my gratitude for his careful, detailed justification of insider movements. Though, as we will see, I disagree profoundly with the conclusions he reaches, I appreciate the clarity of his position and desire to approach his topic in a way that opens it to analysis and criticism. So much of popular literature that supports or criticizes insider methodology is anecdotal, it is difficult to respond in one way or another other that helps others think through it all.2 In this sense, I appreciate the author’s willingness to expose his exegesis, theology and missiology to scrutiny. The quality and seriousness of his work deserves a detailed, careful response. Higgins, in his article, alluded to my earlier writing as being somewhat overwrought. I hope that this serves as a satisfactory response to his concerns.3 I must add, at the outset, that I respond funBill Nikides is a minister in the International Presbyterian Church. Higgins, in fact, criticized me for making unsubstantiated claims. I plead guilty, but point out the following. Many of us have detailed, concrete information with which to support our contentions, but we have withheld the details in order to safeguard both insiders and the missionaries that support them. Their decision to maintain a secret existence as Jesus worshippers within Islam has exposed them to risks of being seen as traitors or hypocrites. Therefore, just as proponents of insider methods use anonymity to boost their claims, we resort to the same means to criticize them. It would seem that fairness would dictate that what is good for the goose is indeed good for the gander. 3 I must add one thing in my defense, however. I will continue to resist treating this subject as a polite discussion between evangelical academics or clergy. In my opinion, the conclusions reached by insider proponents directly threaten biblical orthodoxy as well as the historical understanding of the Church. The debate is therefore not one between two 
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damentally from a biblical and theological perspective. I hope this is useful to readers and practitioners alike, since so much of the discussion has heretofore been characterized by anthropological considerations. These are, of course, tremendously important, but I think they would benefit from additional theological and biblical treatment. My purpose throughout is not to find someone or something with whom I can fight, but rather to contend together for the truth. 2. CATEGORIES AND MULTIPLE IDENTITIES Higgins, usefully, provides basic definitions and descriptions from the outset. These describe what ‘insider movements’ mean of course, but also include more basic terms such as ‘church.’ This is most helpful since the rest of his proposals rest on this foundation. I found his characterization of insider movements as the development of discipleship inside the religious life of a culture in a biblically faithful way both helpful and suggestive. My question would be: What would discipleship mean when it takes place within Islam? Clearly, Jesus intended more than the gathering of decisions when he pronounced the Great Commission. At the very least, it includes the idea of maturity in the faith expressed in inner spiritual development, ethics as part of an explicit community that follows Jesus and global witness, extending the olive tree of Romans 11 as one people of God.4 The author’s understanding of ‘disciple’ is therefore critical.
equally acceptable expressions of evangelical Christianity. It is rather the attempt by professing evangelicals that represent a fringe minority view, not anchored within the biblical mainstream of Christianity, to persuade the Church that insider movements express mainstream, biblical values. I must, in this case, heartily disagree. I do not do so out of malice or arrogance, but with the conviction that what I say is true. If any of my earlier writing appeared as such, I am sorry. I merely wanted to stand for and safeguard the truth. 4 See Bill Hull’s The Disciple Making Pastor (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1988) and The Disciple Making Church for the full-orbed and corporate understanding of ‘discipleship’. For the necessary, visible (as part of the distinct Church) and corporate dimension to ethics see Richard B. Hays, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005); Ecclesiology and Ethics in 1 Corinthians (Ex Auditu); First Corinthians (Louisville: John Knox, 1997); Chris Wright, The Mission of God (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006); Samuel Wells, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics (London SPCK, 2004). 
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How would a disciple grow as part of a Muslim ummah, rather than as part of the visibly distinct community of Christ? It seems possible only if the definition of discipling is reduced to the private, interior life and some sort of generic external affability. What happens however if an insider is challenged to prove his Muslim identity? Suppose that an insider couple have a daughter of proper age to wed. What would they say if a similar Muslim couple approached them on behalf of their equally eligible son? Would the insider couple accept the arranged marriage or turn it down? What would they say in either case? Discipleship is a lived out faith. It is lived in community with other believers and it is lived in contradistinction to unbelievers. This is the drift of both the Old and New Testaments. Anything less than this understanding creates Gnostic individuals, each content with his or her spirituality, but not a biblical community.5 Higgins, likewise, brought together two other concepts, people movements and C5, in a way that allowed us to see how insider movements developed. At the very least, this shows the critical role played by anthropology in erecting new ideas of contextualization. He also cites Rebecca Lewis’ assertion that churches can be planted in pre-existing social structures and then turns it on its head stating: ‘pre-existing social structures can become the church’. This is troubling. It seems to suggest that church is nothing more than a social structure that can be inserted, removed or altered in order to tailor the gospel for a given context. Is the mosque a social structure? Higgins certainly implies as much. Of course it is, but the point surely is that it is much more than a social structure. Again and again, the author’s work is shot through with the idea that ‘church’ and ‘religion’ are subsets of larger cultural constructs. They are therefore parts of culture. What then of God? Is God a cultural artifact? No doubt the author would add that God is both above and in culture, but it seems to me that this is not nearly enough. God, the God and our God is the God of the Bible. He has an exclusive story and an exclusive people. That is the message of the Word itself. The God of the Bible is a covenant God who worked and works through one people. The fact that, with Christ, the borders of that iden5 The marriage example is a real one. In one case, it led to the forced marriage to Muslims of an insider’s daughters, none of whom continued to practice the Lordship of Christ in their lives or families. 
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tity have been clearly expanded to include the whole world does not diminish the fact that he acts covenantally. This may be one of the greatest defects in Higgins’ thought as it is in other insider proponents. Missiologists such as Higgins fail because they become trapped within their own sociological/anthropological categories. Religion, just as church, is just another cultural expression. Of course God exists, but he merely injects himself where he likes. He can do so as easily within Islam or Hinduism as he can Christianity. The popular preacher of the Emergent Church Brian McLaren sums up the view. I quote extensively from his work, A Generous Orthodoxy because I believe that it reflects the same shift from orthodox biblical Christianity we now experience in the world of missions. The following come from his chapter ‘Why I am Incarnational.’
Just as Jesus’ incarnation bound him, not just to the Jewish people, but to all humanity, his incarnation links his followers to all people-including…people of other religions (emphasis his). The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat. We should be seen as a protector of their heritages, a defender against common enemies, not one of the enemies. Just as Jesus came originally not to destroy the law but to fulfill it, not to condemn people but to save them, I believe he comes today not to destroy or condemn anything (anything but evil) but to redeem and save everything that can be redeemed or saved. Ah but you say, there’s the problem: there’s so much evil in other religions. Yes, I reply, there is indeed, but not just in other religions. There is so much evil in our own, too. To show disapproval of divergent beliefs by withholding love and acceptance may be orthodox Phariseeism, and it may even be orthodox, modern, Western, colonial Christianity, but it is not the generous orthodoxy of Jesus Christ. In this light, although I don’t hope all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel so called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus. I don’t hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so-called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus. Ultimately, I hope that Jesus will save Buddhism, Islam, and every other religion, including the Christian religion. To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus, I would gladly become one of them (whatever they are) to whatever degree I can. I do this because of my deep identity as a fervent Christian, not in spite of it. I am more and more convinced that Jesus didn’t come merely to start another religion to

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compete in the marketplace of other religions. If anything, I believe he came to end standard competitive religion by fulfilling it.6

It is all here isn’t it? We have the lumping together of Christianity with other religions as ‘mere’ external fabrications, tied to particular places and times but not for all places and times. We have the same moral equivalence. Sin and truth exist in every religion, so all religions must be of roughly the same value.7 At any rate, religions of whatever shape are just externalities. What really matters is what we have in our hearts. We have Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit. This of course connects us to all other people who have had the same conversion experience leading to the same interior divine presence. The externalities such as religion mean far less. Does it surprise us to know that our ancestors in the faith would have so vehemently disagreed? Would we be shocked to realize that such sentiment would have placed us alongside ancient Gnostics, not Peter, Paul, John or Barnabas? This however seems to me to be the thrust of Higgins and others’ insider methodology. We take salvific truth and experience and place it inside individuals who live within differing cultural expressions. Which cultural expressions matter little as long as they have the new life within them? Religions become cultural shells or artifacts housing god and bad contents. The point with this thinking is that we need to replace the bad with the good, whether that is in the church or mosque. But is it true? Higgins notes that in the Book of Acts ‘members’ (believers) remained ‘within the religious expressions of the people of Israel.’ By members, I take it that he means Jewish individuals. These people maintain a dual identity that the author sees analogous to Messianic Muslims. They, as individual believers who manifest the Spirit, constitute the Church (in their identity as the invisible body of the redeemed) as they attend the temple, and at the same time maintain their ‘other’ identity as Jewish believers in their home meetings. Here we see the same duality Higgins advocates in Messianic Islam. People can have two faithcentered identities. In the case of the Jewish believers, they can be part
Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), pp. 245-266. A variation of this may be that biblical Christianity may have a greater concentration of truth, but is certainly not the exclusive repository of it. In that sense, we can still learn a lot from other religions. At the very least, we must not condemn them. 
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of the temple or synagogue on one hand (with Jesus in their hearts of course) and members of Jewish believing cell groups on the other. Is this not the same thing that insiders militate for? It is not, and the fact that Higgins thinks that it is, demonstrates the fatal weakness of the entire enterprise. In order to understand what Higgins is saying, we need to visit his understanding of church. He states: ‘The biblical definition of church does not necessarily refer to a bounded or closed set social grouping that prevents being a member of another social or religious structure.’ Several things stand out in his explanation. First, he refers to church as a bounded or closed set social grouping. We see once again that he looks at church as a sociological construct, just as any other cultural artifact. Second, he justifies his finding by appealing to the presence of the Lordship of Christ which existed at the birth of the Church alongside Judaism. Third, according to Higgins, it was only a closed set in the sense that it included ‘only those born from above and incorporated by the Spirit in his Body.’ He apparently has no understanding at all of the covenantal identity of the Church at its inception and because he has none, he cannot exclude believers living within other religious structures. Higgins, in another article, also provides more information concerning what he thinks is essential to what constitutes Church and what he sees as a more mature follow-on that is not essential to the idea of church itself. Consistent with his understanding of church as the incorporation of individuals who claim Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, he conceives of Church as essentially excluding baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Cor 11-14 we see that a mature church is marked by the Lord’s Supper and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He comments: Some churches are farther along than others in the process of fully expressing the nature of the church. Fully expressing? Apparently, Higgins parrots Don McGavran’s propensity for assigning sacraments and Christian ethics to the sphere of perfecting rather than essential discipling.8 Is that true? Are the sacraments practices for a later, more perfect day? This sentiment echoes the fringe radicals of the left wing of the Reformation, but
8 Kevin Higgins, ‘Identity, Integrity and Insider Movements’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 23.3 (July-September 2006), p. 119. See also Donald A. McGavran, The Bridges of God: A Study in the Strategy of Missions (London: World Dominion, 1957), p. 15ff. 
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it completely contradicts the church’s understanding of itself, from the earliest of the church fathers and down to the Reformers, not to mention the New Testament itself. I cannot say this strongly enough. McGavran and Higgins’ view is neither biblical nor orthodox. The visible church has always been characterized by baptism and the Lord’s Supper period. We can see this most clearly by focusing on the Hebrew and Greek words translated as ‘church.’ Ekklesia is a Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Qahal, a term used for congregation or assembly. The Septuagint translates Qahal as ekklesia nearly 100 times. It can refer to any assembly, such as an army readying itself for battle (Isa 17:47), but more commonly it refers to the Assembly of God’s people gathered together to celebrate their covenant identity in the receiving of God’s law (Exo 1920; Deut 4-6) or in corporate worship.9 ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you; you who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel.’ (Ps 22:22-23) Interestingly, Qahal, the covenant expression is preferred over the more ethnically local term, edhah, the term used as a reference for the synagogue. We can see through this that early churches were not simply local expressions of an entirely new faith, but fulfillments of covenantal identity. As the Old Testament people of God transformed into the New Testament Church, they still identified themselves with Israel. The Church assumes the role of the Servant of Israel (Isa 49:6), applying it to itself (Act 13:46-47).10 In this sense, the Church is always and everywhere the new Israel. During the Jerusalem Council, James quoted from Amos 9:11-12, showing that the Gentiles did not seek to replace the Jews, but so that David’s fallen tent could be restored. Consider the live tree in Romans 11. New branches (Gentiles) do sprout after they are grafted into the tree, replacing many of the old dead ones (unrepentant Israel). The point not to miss however is that both are parts of one covenantal tree. Churches dominated by Gentiles, such as those of the Corinthians, are described as members of the covenant people of Israel.11 Paul’s use of the word ethne for example in 1 Cor 5:1-13 indicates that he no longer
9 Charles H. H. Scobie, The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), p. 469f. 10 Ibid., p. 530. 11 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians Interpretation (Louisville: John Knox, 1997), p. 16. 
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sees converts as Gentiles, but members of the covenant.12 We do not have a dual religious identity. The major thrust of both Testaments is that we are all part of one religious identity, gathered up in the same covenant of grace. Likewise, both Testaments characterize anything outside of this identity as outside of God’s plan for the people he created. God made a covenant with Abraham, affirming it three times in Gen 12, 15, and 17. These are each used by Paul to illustrate his understanding of grace in Rom 4, Gal 3-4. We see in Gal 3:16 that God made his promises to his offspring, not referring to offsprings. It is only the line that leads directly to Christ that is the true heir to the promise. Of the children of Abraham, only those of Sarah (Gen 18), not Hagar or Keturah, inherit the promises. It is ‘through Isaac shall your seed be named’ (Rom 9:7). Gal 3:14 states that ‘in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles’. When Paul refers to the promise, he is not referring to a generic outpouring such as that prophesied by Joel (2:28-32). He is actually looking back to the context formed by Genesis 12. Everything that receives life receives it through the fulfillment of the covenant promises.13 There is no legitimate dual identity. 3. EXTENDING THE OLIVE BRANCH At the same time Higgins attempts to paint the early Christians as dual citizens, he is eager to show that insiders are not mere Muslims, but rather dual citizens as well. Therefore, he points out that insiders seek formal links with visible Christian denominations. It is not an unconditional request. First, it must be based on a mutual recognition of each others’ ministry and ethos. Second, insiders must be accepted unconditionally. They cannot be asked to stop being insiders. Third, the visible church must recognize insider ministry and the ordinations of its leaders. Let us consider these in turn. The recognition of insider ministry and ethos means acquiescing to the theology underpinning insider ministry. That would mean accepting
Ibid., p. 80. Francis Watson, Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith (London: T&T Clark, 2004), p. 191f. 
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the ideal of dual religious identity. This, as I have already demonstrated is unadulterated syncretism. It is opposed to the very heart of the Bible. While the Scripture in both Testaments shows that God is God of not only Israel but also of the nations, it also shows that God is God in opposition to the gods of the nations. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is, by definition, not the god embraced by other religions. He is the God who opposes any religion that does not worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the revealed God of our fathers. Therefore, Paul blurs the boundary between past and present and invites his readers to reimagine their lives as belonging to that story.14 It is wholly incompatible therefore with the recitation of the Shaha>dah, the verbal acceptance of the Qur’a>n, the act of Hajj (pilgrimage) etc. The deepest beliefs of Islam are not simply outward trappings or cultural vestiges. They are the exclusive expressions of a faith system alien to the crucifixion and resurrection. Furthermore, what does it mean to recognize the ordinations of insiders? What does ‘ordination’ mean? Surely it cannot mean just accepting someone’s internal sense of call. This has never been the practice of the historic faith. Calls are accepted not simply on the basis of someone’s internal testimony but by the visible church as well. To put it another way, it is not a legitimate call or ordination unless the visible church recognizes it. What church could accept the ordination of people who did not completely acknowledge the unsubordinated deity of Christ, the exclusive authority of the Bible, the uncontested fact of the crucifixion and resurrection, the unambiguous identity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the centrality of the visible Church? Accepting anything less is certainly to swallow the poison pill. Finally, what does Higgins mean when he says that insiders desire to be linked to the Jesus ummah? I assume that he uses ummah in the classical sense of a religious community visited by a divine messenger such as Jesus or Muhammad who conveys the divine plan of salvation and certainty of judgment. There would therefore be an ummah of Muslims and an earlier ummah, the Ahl al-Kitab, the People of the Book.15 The ummah of the Muslims postdates the People of the Book just as Muhammad postdates Jesus and the Qur’a>n postdates the Bible. Since Muhammad is considered the greatest and last prophet and the
Hays, First Corinthians Interpretation, p. 173. See H.A.R. Gibb and J.H. Kramers, ‘Umma’ Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam Fourth Impression (Leiden: EJ Brill, 1995). 
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considered the greatest and last prophet and the Qur’a>n serves as the final word, the very thought of Alla>h in heaven, the word that makes every other word clear (Su>rah 16:89), having insiders join the earlier ummah would not mean, presumably, the earlier revelation taking precedence over the later, would it? To do so would, by definition, fly in the face of normal Muslim usage. This would therefore lead to one of two possibilities. Either joining two ummahs does not mean giving up the theological content of either (by definition an act of syncretism) or Messianic Muslims would join themselves to the earlier ummah and accept its exclusive authority while, at the same time, maintaining the appearance of orthodox membership in the Muslim ummah. Maintaining the appearance under these circumstances would be tantamount to telling mainstream Muslims a lie. Are the revelations and authority of Christ and Muhammad compatible? If the special revelation of the Bible means anything at all, it must go beyond the general revelation found in nature and conscience, thereby sealing the ultimate incompatibility of the two. Higgins appears to use ummah as just a label for community without understanding fully the theological freight carried by the term. Therefore, we have two problems with Higgins’ approach. In the first place, Higgins overlooks the covenantal framework of Israel’s relationship to God and its flowering in the Church. This means that he lumps Judaism, Christianity, and every other faith system into the sociological category of ‘religion.’ He therefore misses the completely exclusive and unique nature of the covenantal connection between Old Testament Israel and the Church. This is probably due to his failure to see the theological dimension inherent to these relationships. Second, because he lumps them together, he cannot help but extend to Islam the same sort of relationship he saw evident between Israel and the Church. To say the least, this is a false comparison. The fact that both are monotheistic is meaningless since one is an extension of the covenant and the other is not. In sum, it seems obvious that his inability to consider the covenantal relationship between the Temple and Church makes it impossible for him to avoid inclusive and even pluralist solutions. This drives his conclusions theologically closer to Rome’s Vatican Two than to either the mainstream of Protestantism or of classical evangelicalism.

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4. GOD AND THE OTHER RELIGIONS Higgins notes three responses to non-Christian religions. Exclusivists view other religions as expressions of the fall’s focus on self-salvation or as the result of demonic activity. He quickly dismisses this view. Inclusivists claim the Jesus works in other religions and cultures, even when people do not know it (presumably the author is referring to Rahner’s ‘anonymous Christians’). Inclusivists may see Christianity as fulfilling other religions. Finally, pluralists are those who view all religions as ‘legitimate pathways to God.’ Higgins quickly dismisses exclusivists such as Harold Netland as being extreme, opting for some sort of acceptance of the final two categories. In order to do so, he takes the reader on a tour of the Bible. For example, the mysterious figure Melchizedek is cited as a pagan priest-king who, because Abraham gives him a tithe, has his religion and priesthood accepted. Amos 9:7 describes God’s relations to non-Jewish nations in terms parallel to Israel and Exodus. Likewise, the pagan sailors that threw Jonah overboard are accepted because they prayed to and made sacrifice to Yahweh. Higgins furthermore concludes that Balaam, prophesying in a manner opposite from the wishes of Balak, had a relationship with Yahweh. Naaman in 2 Kings 5 is sent away in peace after continuing to enter the temple of Rimmon. Finally, Acts 17:27 is explained as proving that ‘people in other religions can be in relationship to the true God.’ As the author states: ‘God is at work in the world, including the religions of the world and God is drawing people to himself beyond the confines and boundaries we normally refer to as “His people”.’ Well, what exactly does the Scripture say and how does Higgins use it? First, I make a general observation. Each and every example chosen by the author involved a narrative text rather than a clear didactic one. He uses the biblical texts as analogies for the present. This is an interesting tactic. Why not refer to clear teaching that reinforces his points? The answer, I am afraid, is painfully obvious. The entire drift of biblical teaching opposes his machinations. Lest you think my response too convenient, consider the following. If there is any theme suffusing the Old Testament, surely it is the gracious way in which God’s redemptive intentions work through a covenant people in opposition to every form of idolatry and false religion; these are set in contradistinction to the one

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true faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are the recipients of singular grace (Hagar notwithstanding) marked and set off by the law for holiness as a witness to the nations.16 Since we are considering narrative, why not mention Lot’s wife? As Gen 19 reminds us, she looked back at Sodom, her home, and was instantly turned to salt, just as Sodom and Gomorrah had been. Why? Is it not because her looking back ‘indicated that she was more attached to Sodom for her ultimate security than God, who had commanded them (Lot and the rest of the party) to go on their pilgrimage out of the city?’17 Contrary to Higgins’ eschewal of exclusivism in favor of inclusivism and pluralism, the Bible embraces exclusivism. For example, the exclusive worship of Yahweh by Israel was seen as the only means through which the nations could see God clearly. That was why idolatry was ‘the first and greatest threat to Israel’s mission and ours.’18 The idea of exclusive identity extended to the New Testament. ‘You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God’ (1 Pet 2:9). Who are ‘you’? In the context of Peter, ‘you’ refers to Christian readers, both Jews and Gentiles. Beyond that, the text extends the covenantal metaphor to include the nations. In total, the entire fabric of the Scripture points to one exclusive people in both the Old and New Testament into which sinners from all over the world are grafted. At no point is the covenantal framework jettisoned in favor of some sort of amorphous identity based on pure inward experience. Melchizedek: Higgins cites Melchizedek as an exemplar of a pagan accepted by God. Our understanding of this figure is found in two Old Testament passages: Gen 14:18-20 and Ps 110:4 as well as in Hebrews 7:3. Old Testament scholarship is sharply divided over the interpretation
16 See G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008). Beale comprehensively and conclusively demonstrates the Bible’s unified opposition to anything other than its own understanding of God, characterizing it as idolatry. Key texts cited include Gen 1-3; Ex 20:4-5; 32:4,8; 34:14-16; Num 25:1-3; 1Kg 12:12-32; 2 Kg 17:15-16; Isa 6; Deut 4:27-28; 28-29; 29:2-4; Ps 81; 106:19-20; 115:4-7; 135:15-18; Isa 40-66; Hos 4:7; Jer 2-3; 19:9; Ezek 12:2; 22:1-16; Mt 12; 38-45; 13:13-15; Mk 4:12; Lk 8:10; Jn 12:37-43; Act 7:46-52; 17:24-25; 28:25-28; Ro 1:20-28; Ro 12:1-2; 1Co 10:14-22; Rev 2-3; 9:20-21; 13; 15:2; 17. 17 Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, p. 285. 18 Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006), p. 381. 
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of the figure and his significance. This is vital since Higgins presupposes one such interpretation. It is good to know when you stand on shaky ground. Genesis demonstrates that his priesthood predates Levitical priesthood but has little more to say about his origins or identity. The mystery extends to Jewish literature. For example, Philo saw him as an anointed high priest before Yahweh. Josephus credited him with being the founder of Jerusalem and its first king. Ken Matthews points out a significant variation on this tradition that identified Melchizedek as a priest in the temple on Mount Gerizim.19 Victor Hamilton points out that most modern scholars think that Melchizedek is a later insertion into the text, being inserted during the Davidic period in order to legitimate David’s authority as a king who stands in the tradition of the preIsraelite Jebusite priests. I point it out, not because I accept his premise, but because it shows the uncertainty of scholars concerning the text’s understanding. As Matthews notes, there is no evidence of a Jebusite lineage of priest-kings. At any rate, it is hard to believe that David would have pinned his own legitimacy on the heritage of a pagan cult of priest-kings. Some scholars concentrate on the meaning of his name. One possible meaning is some sort of correlation of the name of Melchizedek to the Canaanite god Sedeq. As Genesis reports, the king-priest served ElElyon, God Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Some scholars claim that this was the name of a Canaanite deity20, but this name does not correspond to any known deity in the Canaanite pantheon.21 Strangely, if Melchizedek was simply a pagan priest, why did the priestking say to the king of Sodom (v. 22): ‘I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High?’ This verse connects directly El-Elyon with Yahweh.
19 Kenneth A. Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26 NAC (USA: Broadman & Holman, 2005), p. 152. 20 See Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15 WBC (Waco: Word, 1987), pp. 319-322. Wenham echoes Higgins’ use (or precedes it), stating that Melchizedek is an example of a non-Jew who recognizes God’s support of Israel in a similar way as Abimilech, Rahab, Ruth, or Naaman. He adds that Melchizedek may also be a forerunner of the Magi, the SyroPhoenecian women or Gentile converts in Acts 17. I would only add that some of these clearly went further in identifying themselves unambiguously with Israel. 21 Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17 NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), p. 409f. The pantheon had a god El whose grandson was Elyon. 
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Moreover, why did Abram not acknowledge El-Elyon or erect an altar in his name? The only biblical evidence offered that attempts to explain Melchizedek’s identity is Hebrews 7:3. Hebrews characterizes the priest-king as ‘like (aphomoiomenos) the Son of God.’ In other words what Hebrews tells us is that Melchizedek is to be seen as a type of the heavenly priesthood of Jesus, not the other way around.22 Well, what do we do with all of this? First, we need to point out that the Bible’s only instruction is given in the Book of Hebrews, where we see that the priest-king is a type foreshadowing the Son of God. Neither Genesis nor Psalms addresses the matter of his religious devotion or loyalty. It is only when his life is juxtaposed with Jesus’ that we see the significance for us. Given the Bible’s overwhelming and unambiguous rejection of other religion, we clearly cannot responsibly claim that the Bible’s silence concerning Melchizedek’s religious practice is a license to permit non-exclusively Christian devotion now. In this case, silence cannot be assent. Referring to Melchizedek and indeed the other examples cited is simply special pleading, not biblical exegesis. You cannot justify someone maintaining a dual identity as a Muslim and Christian/follower of Jesus on the basis of this text. Balaam and Balak: Numbers 22-24 relates the story of Balak, the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab. Balak, fearing Israel’s encroachment, ordered Balaam, living at Pethaw in the land of the people of Amaw (in Mesopotamia) to curse the Israelites. Contrary to Balak’s plan, however, Balaam is compelled by God to testify in Israel’s favor. Even when Balaam determined to disobey God’s instructions, his donkey would not allow him to. Eventually Balaam saw that it was no mere animal that stood in his way, but the angel of the Lord who corrected Balaam and set him on a path to testify to the pagan king of God’s judgment on Moab and favor for Israel. Is this an endorsement of an entente cordiale between Yahweh and pagan religion? Can we say that Balaam is a faithful follower of Yahweh, though he remains formally within paganism? Clearly he had some respect for the true God. He refers to the Lord speaking to him in 22:8 and states that he could not go beyond Yahweh’s command in 22:18.
22

Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26 NAC, p. 156. 
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Decisively, however, the Bible judges him as a false prophet, 31:16, where he caused Israel to act treacherously with Yahweh; a self-serving opportunist who sought to benefit from his disobedience to God (2 Pet 2:15; Jude 11). Jude, in fact, lumps Balaam with Cain and Korah; not the company insiders strive to keep I hope. Interestingly, it is only Origen in ancient tradition who gives his life a positive spin, seeing him as an ancestor of the magi. By contrast, most early Christian interpretation identifies him as a forefather of the Libertines and Nicolaitans.23 All of these considerations are overshadowed by the text’s principle purpose. Rather than demonstrating some strange approval of Balaam’s religion, it clearly celebrates the inability of the nations to hinder God’s purposes lived out in Israel.24 Everything that transpired in the Book of Numbers cascades from the promises made by God to Abraham. Naaman and the Temple of Rimmon: Higgins’ treatment of this passage in 2 Kg 5 is a bit more circumspect. Naaman is presented as an amalgam of old and new religious practices. He continues to accompany his king into the temple of Rimmon and asks for some of Israel’s dirt in order to sanctify an altar (in continuity with ancient Middle Eastern practice). At the same time he knows that ‘there is no God in all the earth but in Israel.’ In other words, he appears to be a pagan outwardly but no longer sacrifices to other gods. He seems to be a transitional figure. Is this then an endorsement for not criticizing Muslims who claim to love Jesus but retain their Muslim identity and membership in the mosque? Since he confessed that there was only one God, and it was the God of Israel, it appears that Naaman adopted the religion of Israel as his own. Even in his act of asking for earth, he was clearly orienting himself to exclusive worship of Yahweh. We can see that he is, at the very least, not a syncretist. He did not think that worship in the temple of Rimmon was not real and seemed eager to avoid the appearance of idolatry.25 He is not asking permission to worship Rimmon, but rather to accompany

23 Philip J. Budd, Numbers WBC (Waco: Word, 1984) 272f. See also Dennis R. Cole, Numbers NAC (USA: Broadman & Holman, 2000), p. 367. 24 Ibid., p. 271. 25 Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings NAC (USA: Broadman & Holman, 1995), p. 273. 
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his master into the temple as his aid.26 It seems most likely that he is attempting to find a way that allows him to carry out his duties and worship with integrity, as a sole believer in a pagan environment. He has, therefore, no chance to worship as part of a community of believers.27 There would likely be no dispute over the text if it was not for the fact that Naaman asks permission of Elisha to accompany his master, the king of Syria, into the temple of Rimmon, the storm god (Syriac version of Baal), and as the king leans on Naaman’s arm and bows, Naaman bows with him. Elisha hears the request and responds with the rejoinder to ‘go in peace’. What do we make of this? What is Naaman asking for? Is he asking permission to maintain some sort of superficial act of pagan worship while retaining true loyalty to the covenant God? Is he a dual citizen, at home with Rimmon and Yahweh? As with all of these texts, we only know what we are told. We know that he is transformed into an unambiguous follower of Yahweh. Verse 15 and following tells us that much. We know that he asks to accompany his king into the temple, supporting him by the arm, even as he bows. This, however, is all we know. We hear no word of patience with pagan religion. This may be nothing more than Naaman now feeling uncomfortable with his own presence in the Temple and even being seen as bowing as a way of supporting the king’s balance. In other words, it seems likely that Naaman feels guilty. He is loyal to his king and has pledged his life to serve him. At the same time, however, he has committed his life to Yahweh and wants to avoid any hint of duplicity or syncretism. He is, as Nelson notes, a man of double loyalties.28 This is a far cry from the sort of insider tactics endorsed by Higgins and others. It is an illustration of practical compromise by one believer and nothing more. Amos 9:7: The text declares: ‘Are you not like the Cushites to me, O people of Israel?’, declares the Lord. ‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?’ Higgins sees a parallel between God’s relationship with Israel and the Exodus, and his treatment of the nations in Amos. This creates the impression that just as God favors Israel so he favors the nations. As he
26 Richard Nelson, First and Second Kings Interpretation (Louisville: John Knox, 1987), p. 179. 27 House, 1, 2 Kings NAC, p. 274. 28 Nelson, First and Second Kings Interpretation, pp. 179-180. 
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says, ‘Amos 9:7 describes God’s relationship to non-Jewish peoples in terms parallel to his redemption of Israel in the Exodus event.’ Higgins draws the following conclusion from his reading: ‘God has initiated a relationship with these nations.’ Is this the point of the text; that God initiates a relationship with the nations? It is quite patently the opposite in fact. God is telling Israel that she, in her disobedience, injustice and idolatry, is no better than the nations. It is not in fact good news for the nations, but bad news for Israel. It also has limited scope. It is not a pronouncement dissolving Israel’s unique relationship to Yahweh in favor of a general call to the nations. That is simply beside the point of Amos. ‘The Lord does not say that from now on Israel has a changed status in his sight, whereby everything formerly possessed by way of privilege has been withdrawn and the adoption of sons has been annulled.’29 Rather, it is a reminder to Israel that her special status is not due to anything intrinsic. She is in every natural respect, just like the other nations. What sets her apart is God’s covenantal favor, but that favor depends on Israel’s imaging God, not the nations. Israel presumes that, just because they celebrated the Exodus every year, God would never abandon them to their sin. They were, as Amos pointed out, wrong. As Doug Stuart point out, since Israel is equated with the Arameans and Philistines, the hated enemies of God, they can be seen as being on par with their pagan neighbors, not superior to them.30 Jonah and the pagan sailors: Higgins refers to the pagan sailors’ acknowledgment of Yahweh as proof of their genuine faith. His thinking rests on two references. First, as a storm lashes the boat carrying them and Jonah, he confesses to being a disobedient servant of Yahweh. The sailors, fearing this god, ‘called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you”’ (1:14). They then threw Jonah into the sea, quieting the storm. They subsequently ‘feared the Lord exceedingly’ (1:16a) and when they got to dry land (presumably) ‘they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows’ (1:16b).

29 30

J.A. Motyer, The Message of Amos The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester: IVP, 1974). Douglas Stuart, Hosea-Jonah WBC (Waco: Word, 1987), p. 393. 
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What does the text prove? Is it a support for Higgins’ concept of a religious dual citizen? Is it a passage that can lend support to insider methodologies? Are the actions of the sailors analogous to Messianic Muslims? Let’s hope not, for their sake. Consider the facts. Clearly the sailors are religious. They immediately recognize the seriousness of Jonah’s disobedience and their own danger because they are on the ship with him. As Stuart notes, ‘It was like being tied up to a person who was calling for lightning to strike him dead.’31 Therefore they called on the malevolent god to not hold them responsible for Jonah’s actions or for his life. It is easy to see that they genuinely believed in Yahweh. They demonstrated it in their sacrifice and vows. This does not, however, imply that they had suddenly become monotheists, much less that they worshiped Yahweh exclusively. There is nothing at all in the text to indicate that they did any more than add Yahweh to the number of gods to which they sacrificed. The Book of Jonah uses pagans as a way of showing how God’s providence works and highlights the weak faith of covenant children such as Jonah. It is not an endorsement, ringing or otherwise, of insider methods. Acts 17: Higgins summarizes Paul as believing that ‘people in other religions can be in relationship to the true God.’ His statement depends on a reading of verses 26-27:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.

Paul goes on to quote Greek poets and philosophers. Higgins evidently thinks that this use of Gentile philosophy assumes some sort of tacit approval or at least an admission that genuine belief can be manifest in non-Christian religion. This obviously is not what Paul is doing in Acts 17. We know that because the passage does not end with some sort of inclusive confession of our acceptance by God even though we represent different religions.
31

Ibid., p. 462. 
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Even though Paul proclaims the universal ancestry of humankind, he moves from that common perspective to proclaiming that this common world would be judged according to its relationship to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In other words, Paul is not using his reference to Greek philosophy as a way of accepting people’s non-covenantal religion or as a way of saying that one can be saved regardless of religious affiliation. Rather, he clearly uses a common local reference in order to communicate clearly the exclusive claim of the gospel - and it works. The Greeks clearly understand what Paul is up to. We know that because they react to his idea with either derision or genuine interest. Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this” (Act 17:32). At the end of the day, the Greeks, their religion and their philosophy could never lead to salvation. It was always headed on the wrong road. Paul, rather than allowing these pagans to continue on their road to ruin, intercepted them at the crossroads created by his address and tried to persuade them to follow the path to life. 5. OBSERVATION It is quite apparent that insider movements have an almost non-existent exegetical base. It relies on a loose tapestry of misapplied narrative and completely overlooks the vast array of scripture that opposes their view. Far from demonstrating a whole-Bible canonical approach, this methodology proof texts, but does so with a great deal of inaccuracy. Consider the contrast. This kind of methodology requires a disconnected hotchpotch of verses in order to maintain even a semblance of biblical support for the idea of insider movements. On the other hand, ancient Judaism, the New Testament, early Church and magisterial Reformation all relied on the built-in hermeneutic of covenant to show the continual progress of grace from Abraham to the ends of the earth. One has to wonder why the simple organic approach is overlooked in favor of something so tendentious.


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6. MISSION PRACTICE Higgins exhorts us to maintain the centrality of the gospel, but he does so by stating that God uses many things to bring people to Jesus, even things in other religions. At the same time, he tries to cover all of his bases by stating that the Gospel alone is unique. How could the Gospel be unique if God uses means outside of the Gospel to bring people to himself? It seems to me that he simply asserts the fact that God works through other religions and therefore disciples can remain within their religious context, at least potentially in any situation. The whole idea behind the Gospel, the good news that God saved us once and for all through one covenant root, the tree of life watered with the blood of Christ, is exclusive of other religions. Again, Higgins seems to have a Gnostic understanding of what being a biblical believer means. We need to hold firmly to a biblical understanding of ‘conversion’ as the reorientation of the heart and mind, rather than as an institutional transfer of religious affiliation. Apparently, the Church, like Israel, is a disposable shell rather than how the early church saw itself, the ark that contained the truth. Insider proponents like to present themselves as improvements on McGavran’s understanding of the Church Growth movement that emphasized the mass conversions of peoples rather than individuals. When we read this however, we can see that insider movements are Gnostic to the core. He also calls on us to embrace the development of biblical theology in context. I could not agree more. This would, in his view, consist of new translations of scripture that could serve as an empowerment for local theological reflection, at least once initial processes for critical reflection had been established. So, you provide locals with new translations that accommodate Muslim understanding, introduce them to rudimentary processes for inductive Bible study and then free them to discover the wonder of God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. In an excursus, Higgins counters an earlier objection of mine in which I stated that Bible study and theology had to contain both deductive and inductive approaches. The point I made was that purely inductive study of the Bible was not a biblical pattern. In both Testaments, believers studied the Word as part of a community and tradition. Higgins’ remarks are interesting. He states: One wonders how the church fathers ar
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rived at those doctrines (Trinity) if it were not for their study of Scripture over several generations. The point I attempted to make in my earlier article was that the early church fathers arrived at the doctrine by having intense interaction with the Scriptures. Any look at Irenaeus, Athanasius, Clement etc., shows a singular saturation with scripture. They also did so as part of a tradition. No church father ever claimed the authority of the Holy Spirit without also stating that what they did was in conformity with the church’s tradition of biblical interpretation since the days of Jesus and Paul. Look at the Bible itself. Remember the encounter of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch? As the eunuch read Isaiah, Philip asked if he understood what he was reading. How can I unless someone guides me (Act 8:31)? It was not simply a matter that the eunuch had not yet received the Holy Spirit. As Jaroslav Pelikan points out, Apollos was mighty (competent) in the scriptures, and full of the Spirit, but he needed the instruction of Pricilla and Aquila (Act 18:24-26b).32 Philip understood that the text of Isaiah that he read contained prophetic and theological content. He knew that it was describing God’s redemptive plan and he was humble enough to realize that he needed help in applying it.33 Acts from first to last describes how Old Testament passages could only be understood with competent instruction. The Old Testament is not selfexplanatory; for Luke it needs Christological Interpretation.34 Higgins seems to place in opposition the Church and the Holy Spirit. While it has often been a problem to over-identify the two, it has also been true that the Church has always been seen as the principal place within which the Spirit dwelt. The Church is the community within which interpretation in the Spirit happens and this ‘happening’ is not solely local; it extends in time and space. This has always been God’s method of exegesis. Anything less is, as we have pointed out already, Gnosticism, not Biblical Christianity.35
32 Jaroslav Pelikan, Acts Brazos Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2005), p. 115. 33 Robert W. Wall, Acts of the Apostles Vol. X New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002), p. 143. 34 C.K. Barrett, Acts: A Shorter Commentary (London: T&T Clark, 2002), p. 126. 35 I use ‘Christianity’ here to signify that the world need not be used pejoratively, as missiologists often do, but in the sense of a realized biblical faith. Christianity is not a Western phenomenon, nor unbreakably connected to ‘Christendom’. 
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Additionally, only heretics such as Arians claimed to use the scripture alone. The appeal to the authority of the Holy Spirit without submission to the Church has, since the birth of the New Testament Church, always been seen as a sign of hubris, not faith. Stott concludes that what we learn from Acts 8 is that God gives two gifts; the Scripture and teachers who can help us understand and apply it.36 The global church is not a threat to local enculturation so long as all parties embrace a Biblical understanding of interdependence. I also think that his methodology obscures something else that is even more insidious. Insiders rely on ‘new’ translations that, in their attempt to eliminate conceptual barriers with Muslims, significantly alter the language of the Bible. ‘Son’ and ‘Son of God’, ‘Father’ and other terms are substituted for more ‘Muslim-friendly’ language. The most strained reasons are given in order to justify the changes, reflecting a reliance on far less than orthodox scholarship. All of this is kept from national believers and supporters back home who fund the projects. At times, nationals say they do the work, but often they serve as fronts for the real force behind the work - expatriates. Moreover, the expats help the fledgling insiders do so by teaching inductive study methods. In other words, so often we change the Bible in order to achieve the missiological ends we seek. We then inject ourselves in the process to ensure that they think the way we think will result in church planting movements (without actual churches that is). I know that this sounds tremendously controversial and probably does not reflect the views of many honorable Christian workers. It needs to be said, however, because this is not an isolated phenomenon. It is part and parcel with much of insider progress. We promote insider movements as totally indigenous movements to Christ, but this is neither consistent with what many of us have seen and it is completely contradictory to the opinions of most of the national churches located in Muslim societies. To them, insider movements are Western inventions, just as were colonial mission stations. Perhaps it is time to move beyond both paradigms and discover the global church, united and uncompromising.

36

John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Leicester: IVP, 1990), p. 161. 
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A RESPONSE TO KEVIN HIGGINS’ ‘INSIDE WHAT? CHURCH, CULTURE, RELIGION AND INSIDER MOVEMENTS IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE’
BY PHIL1
1. INTRODUCTION In an extremely ambitious exercise, Kevin Higgins seeks to answer some of the most profound questions of missiology, such as ‘What is the Church?’ and ‘What is Religion?’ in a single article. Then he proceeds to draw implications from the answers that he has given to these questions. The first implication he mentions is to ‘maintain the centrality of the gospel.’ I doubt that there could be a missiological statement that would be more widely and deeply affirmed among evangelicals than this one. Yet Higgins, and the Insider Movement in general, uses these words in a manner that is at odds with historical Christianity and the Scriptures. I will attempt to uncover from Higgins’ article and other related material what Insiders understand by this statement. I will attempt to compare this with what ‘centrality of the gospel’ means in Scripture and in the context of the historic church. I believe that addressing this issue will actually inform all missiological questions, including those that Higgins asks and responds to in his article.

1 Phil is Regional Director, Enterprise Asian Crescent, PCA. Phil's parents were career missionaries in Pakistan, where he was born. In 1989 Phil's engineering assignment took his family to South Asia for two years. In 1995 they returned to join an MTW churchplanting team in a predominantly Muslim mega-city. In 2004 they were called to spearhead the PCA’s ministry to the Muslims of the ‘Asian Crescent’ (South, East, and Southeast Asia) by connecting and facilitating national church-planting movement leaders. The Asian Crescent Partnership is developing missionary teams, located in regional hubs, to resource church planting in a variety of ways. 
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Julius Kim2 tells the story of the creator of a software package that translates back and forth between English and Russian. In order to test his design he typed in the English phrase, ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’. Not being able to read Russian, he then had to do a backtranslation into English. The following phrase came back, ‘The whisky is stronger than the beef.’ We face a similar issue with Insider thinking. We are equipped by familiarity and context to understand ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.’ Similarly, we may think we understand what Higgins means by ‘centrality of the gospel’. Let us test the backtranslation and see what emerges. 2. THE GOSPEL CORE The Scriptures themselves affirm that there is a core to the gospel. It can be stated simply and in few words. It is a part of our tradition to speak of an ‘unadorned gospel’, a message that is presented without fanfare or manipulation. ‘Jesus is Lord’ is perhaps the quintessential statement of the gospel. There is a difference, however, between speaking of a gospel ‘core’ on the one hand and a ‘stripped down’ or reduced gospel on the other. If the gospel is indeed central, then it is also central to the questions of ‘What is a church?’, ‘What is religion?’ and ‘What is culture?’ Higgins’ brief paragraph under this heading is illuminating:
MAINTAIN THE CENTRALITY OF THE GOSPEL: None of the discussion above diminishes seeing evangelism’s central place in mission practice. Indeed, our entire discussion leads to a reaffirmation of the conclusion that Jesus is the only way of salvation. God uses many things to bring people to Jesus, even things in other religions, but the Gospel is unique.

Note two things regarding these brief comments: First, there seems to be the assumption that the gospel’s place in missions’ practice is located exclusively in evangelism (we will return to this later). Secondly, Higgins’ affirmation of the ‘centrality of the gospel’ would give the appear-

Julius Kim, ‘Mission and Missions: Evangelism in the 21st Century’; paper read at the Missional and Reformed Conference, 2008. See www.wscal.edu. 
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ance of being equivalent to affirming that ‘Jesus is the only way of salvation’. It would be unfair to assess Higgins’ entire understanding of the gospel based on this one paragraph, but I find the paragraph to be consistent not only with the rest of the paper but also with his other writing and with Insider thinking in general. The gospel that Higgins is referring to here is not the same as the gospel ‘core’ in the traditional sense but rather a reduced gospel. By making use of familiar language Higgins maintains his place in the Evangelical camp and secures an Evangelical audience. But is this reduced gospel a biblical one? Is it indeed ‘the old, old story of Jesus and his love’? 3. FOUNDATIONS OF THE GOSPEL Christianity is rooted in objective truth. It is not the sum of all of its propositional statements – it is much more – but without propositional statements it is entirely void of substance. Who is Jesus?3 What did he do? Why did he do it? What does this mean to me? All of these questions must be answered truthfully in order for the gospel to hold together. These answers are not only for the academy but have profound implications for the soul of a Christian. Our confidence is founded on the Truth of the Gospel so that we are able to declare, ‘Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.’ Without this truth we are without hope and have no basis for peace or comfort. As the God of all truth, He created the order that fills the gospel with meaning. Much of this, though not all of it, He has revealed to us.4 As finite creatures we may know these things truly even if we don’t know them exhaustively or omnisciently.5 He has not only given us a clear and simple gospel message but also revealed to us the historical and theo3 ‘The problem is that very often when the Lordship of Christ is restated - the identity of Jesus is not clear- they do not have a ‘theology’ which undergirds a LORD.’ (Roger Dixon, veteran missionary among the Sundanese Muslims, from personal correspondence.) 4 Deut 29:29. 5 D.A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2005), p. 116. 
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logical context that expands the sphere of the gospel into every part of life. Which leaves me with the question: If the gospel is indeed to be central in the missionary practice of Insider practitioners then what are the truths that constitute this gospel? What is the set of propositional truths that shape its definition of the gospel? Recognizing that there are many varieties of Insider thought out there we would not expect to see a single confession that all would agree to, but a few examples would indicate that there at least is an effort in this direction.6 There are many churches in the West that lack a formal confession. Many are satisfied with a simple statement of faith.7 But the situation in the West is usually quite different than that on the frontiers of Christianity. Christianity has deep roots in most of our Western societies and although many of its modern forms are not confessional their roots are confessional. The Trinity is often taken for granted, for instance, even if it is little comprehended. The deity of Christ and His pre-existence, although disputed in some circles, are widely understood to be essential historic Christian doctrines. His crucifixion, if not his resurrection, is an accepted historical event. In brief, our common Christian heritage often functions as a de-facto confession, woefully inadequate as it is. Now let us move to a predominantly Muslim context and observe how these essential elements of Christianity are challenged. The nature of God is now mono-personal rather than a relational Trinity. Christ is nothing more than a great prophet who never died. Particularly in this context a stripped down gospel is no gospel at all because the essential truths of the gospel remain unchallenged. Without clear teaching on the distinctives of the Christian Christ there remains little substance to the gospel message and everything about the Christian worldview falls apart. Unlike most Insider proponents who, like Higgins, at least attempt some sort of a theological foundation, on the field there often is none. Teaching in Insider circles takes the form of discover-for-yourself Bible study
6 Martin Parsons in Unveiling God (William Carey, Pasadena, 2005) does make this attempt but the approach is a process parallel to historic creeds rather than building on them. It is a process that imposes the constructs of Fuller missiology on Christological formulations. 7 I recognize that there is also a fairly significant anti-confessional movement, such as some strands of Emergent thinking. 
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methods and how-to-use-the-Qura>n-to-talk-about-Jesus. Leaders are forced by Western ideologues who pay their salaries to continue to pray in the mosque and deny affiliation with Christianity.8 The outcome is that even leaders are confused about who Jesus is and what he accomplished. Some accept the Qur’a>n as authoritative alongside the Bible. There are tragic results from a ‘stripped down’ gospel. One such tragedy is the proliferation of Insider thinking among Bible translators.9 A translation of the gospels in the Bengali language eliminates all reference to ‘Son of God’ and all other filial language within the Godhead.10 I was told by Lebu11 in Dhaka in September, 2007, that all the older converts from Islam under his care recognize that Jesus is the Son of God. The younger generation, which is being fed Insider ideology and reads the Insider translation of the gospels, is no longer clear on the identity of Jesus. Christianity is rooted in a truthful Story. Perhaps even more than its propositions, it is this Story that lends meaning and definition to the gospel. In fact it is from a right understanding of the Story that truthful propositions are derived.12 Some Insider material appears to honor the Story. Often propositions are presented as ‘Western’ and disposed of in favor of more ‘Eastern’ narrative. This is a tricky business and often the Story ends up being badly abused. Extracting individuals like Melchizedek and Naaman from the Story, as Higgins does, is one form of abuse. Melchizedek played a role in the Story, a crucial role that prefigured Christ. To misconstrue his role to be proof of that God approves other religions is untenable. Naaman likewise had a precise role to play, both instructive as well as a display of God’s pervasive mercy.13 And the list goes on. Taking charNumerous reports that I have heard personally by those who have suffered this kind of employment in Bangladesh convince me that this is standard procedure, at least in that context. 9 Wycliffe/SIL, the premier Bible translating agency, is sharply divided among some who are thinking and writing about this. For the Insider perspective read Rick Brown. 10 See also Dixon, Identity Theft: Retheologizing the Son of God, EMQ (April, 2007). 11 Lebu at that time was a senior leader under Milton Coke’s Global Partners for Development, an agency that funds the propagation of Insider ideology. 12 A radically different approach than mere prooftexting. Demonstrated well by Geerhardus Vos and Herman Ridderbos in the early organization of Biblical Theology and since then both carried forward and distorted in a variety of directions. 13 Luke 4:27. 
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acters out of the context of Redemptive History and using them as normative models for a methodology is unwise at best. Typical of Insider literature, Higgins appeals to the early church.14 These appeals are a thinly veiled declaration of autonomy. Every Insider that I have known or read appears to claim independence from the creeds and formulations of the Church. The clarity and exactness of the Nicene Creed, for example, is a threat to their fuzziness. Here again they are missing the Story as it is carried on in the life of the Church. So there are two components to Gospel foundations: The Story (factual redemptive history), and the body of propositional truth informed by it. Insiders like Higgins have done injustice to both. 4. PERVASIVENESS OF THE GOSPEL Let us assume for the moment that we are talking about the same Jesus15 and the same historic events that constitute the gospel message.16 These areas of agreement would constitute what we could call ‘Redemption Accomplished’. This is an incomplete picture without ‘Redemption Applied’. So John Murray has brilliantly entitled his book on soteriology, Redemption Accomplished and Applied.17 This fills out more completely the biblical picture of the gospel. So what does ‘Redemption Applied’ consist of? Is it a profession of faith? Baptism? Indwelling of the Spirit? Certainly it is all of these and so much more! It is being united to Christ, and in being united to Christ being united to His People. This is a union that first requires death.18 This is a union that gives us a completely new identity. Not only does it
14 I will not go into the validity of these appeals here but claiming, as Higgins does, a parallel between the ‘dual identity’ of the early Jewish church, as it transitioned from a Jewish identity to a Christian identity, to that of Muslim followers of Jesus is an abuse of the Redemptive Story. 15 This is not always a safe assumption with Insider proponents – eg. Massey, who is uncertain about the preexistence of Christ in ‘Misunderstanding C-5: His Ways Are Not Our Orthodoxy’, in EMQ (July 2004). 16 These historic events consist of the entire body of Scripture leading up to the life, death and resurrection of Christ as well as the interpretive history that follows after. 17 John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1955). 18 Gal 2:20-21. 
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change the way we view ourselves – as ‘in Christ’ – but also the way we view the world. To live in this union is to live in the gospel. To view the world around us rightly is to grow in the gospel. There is a recognition of this richness in the traditional Dutch daily prayer, ‘Lord, convert me, that I may be converted.’19 Reflecting on Psalm 104, especially v. 24 (O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. KJV), Murray comments:
The provision which God has made for the salvation of men is even more strikingly manifold. For this provision has in view the manifoldness of man’s need and exhibits the overflowing abundance of God’s goodness, wisdom, grace, and love. This superabundance appears in the eternal counsel of god respecting salvation; it appears in the historic accomplishment of redemption by the work of Christ once for all; and it appears in the application of redemption continuously and progressively till it reaches its consummation in the liberty of the glory of the children of God.20

The gospel changes everything forever. It is not a ticket or a badge by which one gains access to a home beyond the sky. ‘Redemption Accomplished’ makes union with Christ possible and ‘Redemption Applied’ unites us to Christ. Nor is the gospel a ‘religion’, in the sense that Higgins uses the term, rather it is real, objective change.21 Nabeel Jabbour describes a process of ’unwrapping the gospel’ in which he seeks in his evangelism to dissociate true Christians from the nominal Christians who have given Christ a bad reputation among Muslims. Similar to Higgins (and Rick Brown22), his objective is to identify ‘the minimum essentials for a person to enter the kingdom of God’.23 He proceeds to illustrate this point by unwrapping and peeling a tangerine until finally the true gospel is exposed and experienced. Christianity becomes the wrapping that must be disposed of in order to discover a true
19 20 21

Cornelius Van Til, Why I believe in God, see http://www.reformed.org. Murray, Redemption, p. 79. In all his discussion of religion, Higgins speaks of it as a subjective sociological phenomenon rather than a biblical religion. 22 Rick Brown, ‘What Must One Believe about Jesus for Salvation?’, in IJFM (Vol. 17:4) 23 Nabeel Jabbour, Unshackled and Growing – Muslims and Christians on the Journey to Freedom (Dawson Media, Colorado Springs, 2006), p. 22. Emphasis is the author’s. 
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Jesus who lurks somewhere beneath. If he were describing justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone I would agree wholeheartedly. But this is not the Insider argument. Rather it is the moralistic idea that Christians offend but Christ does not: that Christ can be offered without Christian community; that Jesus can be loved and the Church despised; that salvation is a private affair. The aim of evangelism is to identify and cross some minimal threshold while salvation in all its grandeur must remain hidden from view. The Insider gospel is threadbare. 5. UNIQUENESS OF THE GOSPEL 5.1 Swapping a Western Jesus for a Muslim Jesus? David Aikman tells the story of Yu Jiade, a Christian artist in China. ‘Yu’s story has the epic, tragic tone that is virtually the hallmark of China’s best creative minds of the past fifty years.’ He was subjected to intense government sponsored persecution:
‘In 1985,’ he said, ‘I had a strong desire to paint secretly, to depict the stories in the Bible. […] Chinese Christians wanted the Jesus of history, but some foreigners wanted me to paint a Jesus that looks Chinese.’24

One of the central concerns of Insiders is that the church in the West has painted a Western Jesus and should not impose this Jesus on Asian Muslims, for instance. Their response has been to paint a Muslim Jesus. So although their critique is justified their solution is worse. Higgins affirms that ‘Jesus is the only way of salvation’ and ‘the Gospel is unique’. What is he saying and what is he not saying? The words cannot be taken at face value in the traditional sense. He intentionally uses traditional language to describe the purpose of the church in commenting on Acts 14:21-28, but when these same ideas are translated into the Insider world they are hardly recognizable. Higgins argues that the translation only alters form and vocabulary. The literature and my experience argue otherwise. I will not go into the details of the extent of
24

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing (Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, 2003), p. 257. 
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playing with language here but it is prevalent enough in the literature. The category of ‘Muslim followers of Jesus’ as a Christian believer is among the better-known anomalies. 5.2 ‘Grace Alone’ is unique The uniqueness of the gospel can be expressed in the language of the Sola’s of the Reformation. ‘Grace alone’ is the unique claim of the gospel. Every other religion is opposed to it. No other religion, as a construct, ‘leads’ to it. The only way to perceive otherwise is to misunderstand the essence of the gospel. Insider advocates are playing a deadly game with respect to the central tenant of the gospel: Justification by Faith. 5.3 The power of the gospel is unique Sadly, it is not a new thing for Christians to magnify methodologies over the inherent power of the gospel itself. This trend seems to have accelerated since the revivalism of Finney, the Church Growth Movement of Fuller Seminary, and now the Insider Movement.25 American pragmatism leads the way. Take, for example, a Muslim who comes to Christ and, declaring himself a Christian, is ostracized from his family and perhaps even his society. Generally Insiders would accept this profession of faith as genuine but would castigate the believer as a failure. The value of ‘remaining in community’ as a means of living out the ‘believing’ life is raised so high that it diminishes the power of the gospel itself. Often there is even confusion between whether it is the ‘remaining in community’ that is the power of salvation or the message of the gospel. This is one of the most serious charges against the Insider Movement, in some respects analogous to Paul’s charge against the Judaizers.

25 The Insider Movement was 10 to 15 years ago a dodgy affair on the fringe of Missiology. Today it is emboldened as a self-proclaimed ‘movement’ and center stage in mission circles. It is gaining ground in the West and in some places in the East, like Singapore and S. Korea. It is backed by scholarship out of Fuller and other mainstream seminaries and agencies, particularly the US Center for World Missions and the international arm of the Navigators. 
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5.4 The realm of the gospel is unique Not every reader will necessarily agree with my Augustinian understanding of two realms - or two cities - that occupy the cosmos. The inclination of man’s rebellious heart and mind is to downplay the severity of the lost-ness of mankind, even before Pelagius came along. We have a craving to be our own saviors and masters – which requires some innate capability. Denying any such capability, as Augustine does, highlights the distinction between the two realms. But even if you were to take the Arminian position, the two realms remain distinct in some clear manifestations. What distinguishes these realms is not only invisible, internal, and spiritual, but also visible and tangible. Ethics, affections, and identity are three intertwined distinguishing elements. Just as the gospel is central to the distinction between the invisible components of the two realms so it is central to these visible distinctions. Higgins’ ‘salvation’ is individualized and privatized in the paradigm of modern anthropology and revivalistic evangelicalism. Just as he and other Insiders have a reduced gospel so they also exhibit a reductionistic approach to its uniqueness. The border between the two ‘cities’ becomes so blurred26 that believers are uncertain about what their true identity is and who their true community is.27 Again, this is not an issue for the academy but rather the struggle of every Christian who is viciously opposed by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

There are two movements within Insider thinking that are blurring the edges between Christianity and Islam: A Common Word and the Common Ground Training sponsored by the Navigators. John Piper offers a helpful critique of the former (www.desiringgod.org). So far I have not seen anything published that critiques the later but it is aggressively promoting Insider ideology among youth and practitioners in the US. A similar movement within the International Missions Board is promoting evangelism of Muslims using the Qur’an, known popularly as The Camel Method, suggesting that Muslims can become ‘completed Muslims’ by trusting Christ. Discussions among Southern Baptists have been raging on the Internet. 27 The Kingdom of God is a theme that is particularly abused by Insiders. For more balanced teaching on the Kingdom of God readers are referred to NT scholars Vos, Ridderbos, Gaffin, and Kidd. 
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5.5 The Promises of the Gospel are unique A unique Gospel is founded on unique promises which create a unique community. God in covenant with His people is the Story of Redemption. Where is the Covenant in the Insider reading of the Story? Where is Covenant in its ecclesiology? Where are the signs and seals (sacraments) of the Covenant in its practice?28 These are serious concerns that have yet to be answered at any depth, as far as I know. Converts, particularly from theologically oppressive Islam, need to know that Jesus loves them. What could be more central to the Gospel? The only source of confidence in this love lies in the promise, the Covenant, which we must feed on regularly together with the Covenant Community. The Church is being split (again) by Insider teaching as believers are forced to dissociate from the Covenant Community - the Christians in their own neighborhoods and the global/historical Church. How is the Body and Bride of Christ being built, honored, and beautified by this parochialism?

6. SOURCE OF THE GOSPEL The most striking thing about Higgins’ comments is the perspective from which they examine anthropology, sociology, and, in effect, the gospel itself. The entire construct is anthropocentric. He addresses every single question from the perspective of mankind using modern constructs. The picture would look quite different if it were painted from the perspective of God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. In this, Insiders share a great deal of philosophical common ground with postmoderns. They are philosophical pluralists,29 denying that any system offers a complete explanation. They are pietistic in the dualism of internal spirituality and external deception. Thus they are inclined to

Baptism is widely practiced by Insiders but its meaning is twisted beyond recognition and there is no coherent theology of the Sacraments that I am aware of. 29 Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, p. 31. Carson has much more to say about how postmoderns are inclined to interpret the text of Scripture, which is relevant for how Insiders also approach the text. 
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a great deal of skepticism regarding historic Christianity30 and are open to a variety of sources and influences as guides, including other religions.31 The chief claim to Insider validity is its success. Interestingly the measure of success is a bit hard to identify. How does one measure a ‘movement’ that is by definition unidentifiable? The answer is, of course, anecdotal evidence – which no-one can either deny or affirm. Success attracts American donors and money purchases more anecdotes. It is symbiosis at its worst. In contrast, there is the visible church: the growing community of Muslim converts, for example, who are identifiable personally and by their communities.32 In Bangladesh these visible convert communities are frequently being persecuted by Insiders because they are a threat to the Insiders’ reason-d’être. In the West this skepticism opens the door to secular anthropology and sociology steeped in pluralism and relativism. These influences are pervasive in modern missiology and vividly seen in Insider literature and practice. Anthropocentrism represents the deepest and most fundamental flaw in Insider thinking and it is foundational to Higgins’ article.

7. CONCLUSION I have translated ‘Centrality of the Gospel’ from Insider-speak back into Christendom and shown that what comes out is a garbled message. ‘Centrality’ is located in a narrow sphere that is defined by Western
30 Insiders typically perceive the demise of Christianity into Christendom, roughly coinciding with the conversion of Constantine. This is a subtext lifted from the Anabaptists (radical reformers) which now is one mainstream Evangelical view of history. For example, Jonathan Bonk, ‘Salvation, Other Religions, and Asian Mission’, in Asian Missiology, Vol. 2/No. 1 (2008). 31 Mazhar Mallouhi in Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road: Exploring a New Path Between Two Faiths, by Paul-Gordon Chandler, claims that ‘Gandhi [whom he expects to see in heaven (p. 123)] has taught me more about the spirit of Christ than perhaps anyone else’ (p. 83) and many of his Muslim friends are ‘a million miles closer to God’ than he is (p. 193). 32 This is not a jab at secret believers, who will always exist in every society and represent a different category altogether. Secret believers don’t believe in secrecy. They are not ideologically Insider in that sense. The underground church in China, for instance, is always pushing the envelope in the struggle for visibility and legitimacy (Aikman). 
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theorists. Even ‘Gospel’ is fuzzy due to the lack of clarity on who Jesus is and the implication of Redemption History on the Covenant Community. Readers of Insider-speak are cautioned. You may not be hearing what you think you hear. And if what you hear sounds unorthodox, it probably is.


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THE INSIDER MOVEMENT AS A STRATEGY FOR EVANGELIZING MUSLIMS
BY WILLIAM STEELE1
1. INTRODUCTION In January 2009 I attended a workshop on the use of the Insider Strategy in evangelizing Muslims. While some useful strategies were taught, there were some serious hermeneutical and theological errors expressed. The hermeneutic used and the theology expressed are foundational to the theory and practice of the Insider Movement. Some of what was taught was explicit expressions of syncretism. 2 THE ERRONEOUS TEACHINGS 2.1 The use of narrative passages of Scripture to justify leaving new disciples of Jesus within the religion of Islam (e.g. passages which refer to Jesus birth and life as a Jew and the fact that Jesus remained a Jew, are reasons that Muslim background disciples of Jesus should remain Muslims); 2.2 Use of the word ‘insider’ in a manipulative way to refer to Jesus as a base for Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) remaining within the religion of Islam; 2.3 Following from 2.1 and 2.2 there is a lack of expression of the truth that in the New Testament Jesus has a unique relation to Israel as
1 Bill Steele is a Pastor of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. He has served as Pastor of congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Christian Reformed Church. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, (M.A. Philosophy), Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, USA, and Knox College, Toronto, Canada, (M. Div). His most recent field of Service was in Guinea, West Africa as a missionary with Christian Reformed World Missions. At the time of writing he is seeking a call to serve as Pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.


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2.4

2.5

2.6

2.7

2.8 2.9 2.10

the one in whom Israel is renewed and who is the fulfillment of the covenant promises of the Old Testament. Therefore Jesus as an ‘insider’ can not serve as a model for anyone else, and Islam is not comparable to Israel; Separation of the Church from the Kingdom of God – there is no recognition that the Church is the Community of the Kingdom, the People of the Kingdom both in its universal and local manifestations; Using the aphorism, ‘Jesus never came to start a new religion’, to bear more weight than that truth can bear. While Jesus did not start a new religion He completed and fulfilled the religion of Israel: His church is Israel in the New Testament and continues the religion of Israel in a completed and purified form; While rightly asserting that MBBs should keep their culture it is asserted that they should also keep their religion. Thus there is no recognition that the culture needs to be given another religious foundation, and that it needs to be both affirmed in its good aspects and transformed in its harmful aspects; Misuse of James’s advice, ‘We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God’ (Acts 15:19). The issue James was addressing was circumcision as a rite of entrance into Judaism and the Church. Circumcision had been replaced by baptism and was no longer necessary to enter God’s renewed Israel; Failure to recognize that the Kingdom of God is a deeply religious reality, and that one cannot live the reality of the Kingdom and at the same time live a different reality; The truth that Jesus never told anyone to leave their religion fails to take account of His call to be born from above, to leave darkness and come into the light; The expression of an inadequate view of baptism. It was stated that baptism is a testimony to the faith of the believer and that giving testimony to Christ by word is functionally equivalent to baptism, so baptism is not necessary. Thus there is no recognition of baptism as a means of Grace and ordinarily essential for the disciple of Jesus. Baptism in the Scriptures is not what we do (testify to our faith) but what God does (include us in Christ and His Church);

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2.11 The denigration of liturgy and tradition and the opposing of them to heart religion. While there is not a fixed liturgy in the New Testament, and one would not wish to impose a fixed liturgy on an MBB church, Corinthians does mention the corporate worship of the church in Corinth and such things as singing hymns and praying. Paul also talks about the tradition which was handed down for the Church; 2.12 The view that Muh}ammad is a New Testament prophet who got a few things wrong. I think that we must hold him to be a false prophet; 2.13 The view that the Qur’a>n is inspired; 2.14 The notion that MBBs may legitimately say all of the Shaha>dah (the Muslim Confession of faith); 2.15 The person who gave her testimony said that she had become a disciple of Jesus, but had re-converted to Isla>m as a result of being influenced by the Insider Movement. 3 JUSTIFICATION FOR CONVERTS REMAING INSIDERS 3.1 The nature of confessing The idea that Muslims who become disciples of Jesus should be encouraged to permanently remain in the religion of Islam may seem a good idea to enable the MBB to use his family network to bring others to Christ, but it has no biblical foundation. To continue the Muslim prayers, whether in the Mosque or in the family, is to fail to take into account the nature of confession. It is fundamentally dishonest to join in the confession (Shaha>dah) and substitute other words for part of it. One is still joining in a false confession of a false religion, even if one does make a substitution. To confess Christ as Lord and Savior is to abandon all confession that does not recognize Him as Lord and Savior. 3.2 The argument of prayer to the same God The argument that Muslims worship the same God as we is not a justification for joining them in prayer, because their prayers are not offered in

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the name of the Messiah. Also, they involve a confession that may in some aspects be fine and true, but is also in some aspects false. I wonder if it is legitimate or deceitful for a MBB to say that he is a Muslim who submits to God in the name of Jesus? 3.3 Other possible insider movements as examples against the insider strategy One participant in the workshop wonders if it’s possible to have an insider movement in the Mormon Church. I wonder if it’s possible to have an insider movement in the Unitarian Church or in the Jehovah’s Witness organization. Would we suggest to someone who is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church and becomes a disciple of Jesus that he remain in that church to be a witness to Christ? Would we suggest to a Jehovah’s Witness who becomes a disciple of Jesus that she stay in that organization to witness for Christ? 4. THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE NEW BELIEVER IN CHRIST I do not think that it wise to tell a new believer in Jesus to stop joining in the Muslim prayers. At the same time I do not think that we should tell someone who has stopped participating in these prayers to re-embrace Islam. I believe that as a believer in Christ grows she will, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, stop joining in the prayers. The role of the missionary is to tune in to what the Holy Spirit is doing and to gently shepherd the new believer in Christ to leave Islam and become part of the Church. I believe that telling new believers to continue in, or return to, Muslim prayers is an approach to mission among Muslims that is contra Scripture, contra the Kingdom of God, and contra Reformed doctrine. 5. SCRIPTURE AGAINST THE INSIDER MOVEMENT This insider strategy is clearly contrary to Scripture. Our Lord said in Mark 8:34-38:

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Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

And in Matthew 10: 28-33:
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Paul says in 11 Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.’

Some may argue that Paul is calling believers to come out from religious and immoral association with pagan unbelievers. But are not Muslims unbelievers from the perspective of faith in Christ? If not, why engage in ministry to bring them to faith in Christ? The encouragement of converts to remain long-term in Islam is contrary to Reformed doctrinal standards. The Belgic Confession in Article 28, on The Obligations of Church Members, says:

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We believe that, since this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it, believers ought not to withdraw from it, content to be by themselves, regardless of their status or condition. But all people are obliged to join and unite with it, keeping the unity of the church by submitting to its instruction and discipline, by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ, and by serving to build up one another, according to the gifts God has given them as members of each other in the same body. And to preserve this unity more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to God’s Word, to distinguish themselves from those who do not belong to the church, in order to join this assembly wherever God has established it, even if civil authorities and royal decrees forbid and death and physical punishment result. And so, all who withdraw from the church or do not join it act contrary to God's ordinance.

6. CONCLUSION I hope that I have given a reasonably short but thorough and Biblical critique of the Insider Movement in evangelizing Muslims. I am alarmed that Reformed missionaries are adopting this approach. I trust that my critique will cause them to think again and use a more Biblical approach.


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RETHINKING THE INSIDER MOVEMENT DEBATE: GLOBAL HISTORICAL INSIGHTS TOWARD AN APPROPRIATE TRANSITIONAL MODEL OF C5
BY ABDUL ASAD1
1. INTRODUCTION Phil Parshall was criticized sharply in the 1970’s for his adaptation of Biblically acceptable Islamic forms in emerging Muslim Background Believer (MBB) fellowships. Using local language and calling believers ‘followers of ‘Isá’ was one thing, his critics protested, but to adopt the very forms of Islam was wholly another. His approach however, has now become a model strategy for training in new Muslim ministry worldwide.2 In the past decade, missiologists have taken Parshall’s revolutionary adaptations to another level with the introduction of the possibility of MBB’s retaining a Muslim self-identity rather than that of a ‘follower of Isa’. This new approach, referred to as a C5-community or an Insider Movement, was formally articulated by John Travis in what has become the standard reference point for discussion on the various expressions of MBB fellowships worldwide. His ‘C-Spectrum’ (‘C’ stands for Christ-centered communities) begins with a C1 community, which uses ‘outsider’ (non-local) language and forms, and refers to themselves as ‘Christians’. These churches reflect Western culture, and a huge gap exists between them and the predominantly Muslim peoples that surround them. C2 is basically the same as C1, except that ‘insider’ (local) language is used. C3 takes it a step further by introducing religiously neutral insider forms such as folk music or ethnic dress, etc. Their iden1 Abdul Asad (a pen name) is originally from New York, and studied at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is involved with ministry among Muslims in several different nations, with a home base in the Arabian Peninsula. His passion is to see Jesus Christ become incarnate in the darkest corners of the world by living the Gospel in word and deed, and empowering followers of Jesus from the global Church to do the same. He can be contacted via email at abdulasad@rightbox.com. 2 See for example, Phil Parshall, Muslim Evangelism: Contemporary Approaches to Contextualization (Waynesboro, GA: Gabriel Publishing, 2003). 
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tity is ‘Christian’. A C4 fellowship goes beyond C3 by allowing Biblically acceptable cultural and Islamic forms (Parshall’s example above). The identity of a C4 MBB would be that of a ‘follower of Isa’ or something similar. Travis then introduced the concept of a C5 fellowship as a group of MBB’s who decide to
remain legally and socially within the community of Islam, somewhat similar to the Messianic Jewish movement. Aspects of Islamic theology which are incompatible with the Bible are rejected, or reinterpreted if possible. Participation in corporate Islamic worship varies from person to person and group to group. C5 believers meet regularly with other C5 believers and share their faith with unsaved Muslims. Unsaved Muslims may see C5 believers as theologically deviant and may eventually expel them from the community of Islam. Where entire villages accept Christ, C5 may result in “Messianic Mosques”. C5 believers are viewed as Muslims by the Muslim community and refer to themselves as “Muslims who follow Isa the Messiah”.3

A C6 community describes those MBB’s who are often completely isolated from Christian community because of threats to their personal safety if their identity as a Christian were disclosed. These believers often meet Christ through dreams, visions, media, or the like, and represent a community of people who are seen as Muslims, and refer to themselves as Muslims for their own safety. C6 represents an unfortunate reality in this present age, and since their presence in this category is often involuntary, few, if any writers, have taken issue with their situation (thus, neither will this paper). Much the same as the reaction that Phil Parshall’s C4 strategy evoked several decades ago, discussions on C5, also referred to as ‘high spectrum’ contextualization, have become increasingly intense in the literature. Proponents such as Travis and Joshua Massey maintain that C5 is simply a descriptive analysis of an already existing phenomenon.4 Oth3 John Travis, ‘The C-1 to C-6 Spectrum’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998), p. 408. 4 See for example, John Travis, ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C-5 Believers and Congregations’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp. 53-59. See also, John Travis, ‘Must all Muslims leave Islam to follow Jesus?’ in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998), pp. 411-415. See also, Joshua Massey, ‘Misunderstanding C5: His Ways are not our Orthodoxy’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 40:3 (July 2004), pp. 296-304. See also, Joshua Massey, ‘His Ways are not Our 
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ers such as Gary Corwin, Timothy Tennent, and Parshall are leery of the potential misuses and abuses that C5 opens the door to, particularly that of syncretism.5 One concern here is that field workers (who often lack the time to sift through the literature) can end up embracing an imbalanced view of C5, either blindly following a radical/syncretistic view, or writing it off altogether. Many see the potential positives of C5 missiology, but their ministries have been unable to benefit from it because of the complex and often murky water that surrounds it. Different people have different definitions of C5, which only adds to the confusion. While no one wants to see syncretistic fellowships of MBB’s emerging, is there a way for us to think about and practice C5 as a transitional model toward a healthy contextualized indigenous church? Thus, while this paper is certainly intended to move the academic discussion on C5 forward, it is also intended to assist field workers in gaining a healthy view on the Insider Movement discussion. As this paper will demonstrate, a brief survey of the complexity and diversity of Christian expression in church history will quickly remind us that our faith has an everchanging nature and as such, we must be ever open to the new things that God may do.6 At the same time, we must be careful to ensure that this newest (and very exciting) translation of our faith into the Islamic
Ways’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 35:2 (April 1999), pp. 188-197. See also, Joshua Massey, ‘God’s Amazing Diversity in Drawing Muslims to Christ’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp 5-14. 5 See for example, Timothy Tennent, ‘Followers of Jesus (Isa) in Islamic Mosques: A Closer Examination of C-5 “High Spectrum” Contextualization’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 23:3 (Fall 2006), pp. 101-115. See also, Phil Parshall, ‘Danger! New Directions in Contextualization’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998), pp. 404-406, 409-410 and Gary Corwin, ‘Insider Movements and Outsider Missiology’ in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 42:1 (January 2006), pp. 10-11. Joshua Massey has also relayed an interesting conversation with Phil Parshall in his guest editorial in IJFM’s Spring 2000 edition. He says that the conversation centered on ‘so-called C-5 missionaries’ who advocate the genuine prophethood of Muhammad, perpetual mosque attendance for MBB’s, and for Christians to legally convert to Islam to win Muslims. This is a good example of the dangers inherent in ‘high spectrum; contextualization if not carefully monitored. 6 Andrew Walls, in, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith (New York: Orbis Books, 1996), pp, 3-7, provides an example of this point in discussing a fictional space visitor who observes Christian expression at different times in history and in different places as being shocked at the diversity of expression he observes. 
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world does not result in some sub-Biblical, sub-ecclesiological form of faith that fails to honor Jesus Christ completely in the Islamic cultural context. Many have assumed that this newest missiological debate over high spectrum contextualization in the Muslim world represents a new thing. This is a wrong assumption. We can learn much from those who have gone before us and, as such, this paper will begin by providing some helpful insights learned from the translation of Christianity into the African context. Many of these same discussions, after all, were had not long ago in Africa. A second look at this issue will focus on a case study of contextualized ministry among Muslims from a little-known 19th century Indonesian movement attributed to the leadership of a man named Sadrach Surapranata. We will then consider helpful insights into the emergence of a ’deviant’ form of Islam from within its own circles (which is what Insider Movements purport to do) as we briefly consider the fascinating world of the S}u>fis within Islam. Finally, the paper will conclude with a brief prescription of an appropriate7 model of C5 that is designed to help both academics and field workers to discuss and practice Insider missiology in a clear and Biblical manner. 2. LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE AFRICAN CONTEXT 2.1 The fact that a discussion of syncretism exists in the first place is testament to the work of God among a people What a wonderful problem to wrestle with! If God were not working in the Islamic world today, we would not even be having this discussion. After a century of solid church planting work in Africa, the concern of religious syncretism is still one of the most pressing needs to be addressed. The continual re-emergence of African Traditional Religious forms is an ever-present reality with which African church leaders wresI have chosen the word ‘Appropriate’ in the same sense that Charles Kraft has used it in the volume he has edited entitled Appropriate Christianity (Pasadena: William Carey, 2005). Here Kraft describes this term as being more accurate to describe what ‘good’ contextualization aims for, which is to be ‘maximally meaningful’ to local cultures and ‘maximally faithful’ to Scripture. 
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tle daily. Ghanaian scholar Kwame Bediako states, ‘Since the 1960s it (African theology) has been greatly concerned with the theological reinterpretation and rehabilitation of the pre-Christian primal tradition…’8 This fact does not figure to go away any time soon. While syncretism has indeed adversely affected the Church in Africa, it has not crippled it. Its existence is an ongoing part of the growth process. Just as we have come to accept the battle against syncretism as a part of the growth process in Africa, so we should accept this battle in the Islamic world as well. 2.2 Don’t jump to conclusions! Let us be careful not to label things as syncretistic until we fully understand the situation Western theologians were quick to attack what they perceived to be syncretistic patterns in the emerging African church. After some time however, it became clear that these fears were unfounded, as new and Biblically appropriate forms of the faith appeared in Africa. Nigerian theologian Lawrence Lasisi remarks:
Historically, Western writers and church leaders have been hostile to syncretism and have used the word pejoratively to describe some of the innovations and initiatives of African indigenous churches. These churches have been accused of distorting or watering down the essentials of the Christian faith. But careful examination of some of the motives behind the integration of African traditional themes and elements with the Christian faith reveals that is it misleading to label every indigenous movement as syncretistic, although some undoubtedly are.9

We love to label things that we are suspicious of because labels make things ‘safer’ and more predictable. But as we have learned from the African context, these labels can stunt some perfectly valid, new and heretofore unseen expressions of the faith if applied prematurely. Consider all of the contributions that the African church has made to the faith in the areas of ecclesiology, Christology, and other realms. We would not
8 Kwame Bediako, Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion (New York: Orbis Books, 1995), p. 177. 9 Lawrence Lasisi, ‘Syncretism’, in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi, Kenya: Word Alive/Zondervan, 2006), p. 900. 
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have them if preliminary fears of syncretism had won out. We must remain always mindful to ‘be quick to listen, slow to speak…’ as James 1:19 warns us, lest we jump to conclusions. Who knows what valuable contributions the Muslim world is ready to make to the global church if we would but allow it time to develop? 2.3 Sola Scriptura. Scripture is the hermeneutic by which we interpret the translation of faith into a new culture First, we must trust the word of God to lead and guide new converts into truth. Secondly, we must trust these new converts to allow God’s word to so penetrate their lives that it directly confronts any unbiblical patterns in their lives or their culture. How much are we willing to invest in C5 fellowships inasmuch as they may have little or no connection to the larger church at present? One of the most powerful tools for the spread of Christianity in Africa was the re-interpretation of a primal religious past in light of a new history as revealed by Scripture in the form of new ‘ancestors’, like Abraham, Moses and Jesus. The more that Scripture penetrated the hearts and minds of African converts, the more it confronted ungodly practices and reclaimed them for Christ. This is an ongoing process and can be seen today in the issue of polygamy in the church in places like Nigeria. There are pastors in Africa today who still spend much of their time calling Christians to account in light of Scripture on the issue of polygamy.10 As believers are confronted with God’s unchanging truth, they must readjust their lives and cultural practices accordingly. Once again, Bediako comments, ‘Scripture and culture are like merging circles, gradually coming to have one centre as we increasingly recognize ourselves in Scripture and Scripture becomes more and more recognizable as our story.’11 If this has proven true in Africa, why should it not be so in the Islamic world?

I have a Nigerian friend who just completed a major regional initiative whereby he facilitated the signing of a pledge to end polygamy in 68 different churches in his state. This came after many of these churches had existed for several generations! 11 Kwame Bediako, ‘Scripture as the Hermeneutic of Culture and Tradition’, in Journal of African Christian Thought 4:1 (June 2001), p. 2. 
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2.4 Sola Fide. Faith in Jesus Christ is the ultimate measure of one’s standing before God and in relation to his brothers and sisters in Christ Paul Hiebert’s masterful application of set theory in missiology is most helpful here.12 Only when we rid ourselves of the notions of ‘Church’, and ‘Christian’ as ‘bounded’ sets can we begin to appreciate God’s sovereign, albeit confusing work among Muslims today. We must begin to see this work in terms of ‘centered’ sets, whereby one’s direction in relation to the central point of the set (Jesus Christ) is the only thing that matters. We should affirm all that points people toward the center, and deny all that points them away. In the early days of Christianity in Africa, many mistakes were made in this area. Baptism was often refused based on a convert’s lack of formal Christian knowledge. Only when missionaries began to baptize converts irrespective of their theological knowledge did the church begin to grow. In those places where the only requirement for baptism was a profession of faith in Christ alone, the church exploded. This growth continues, as one out of every five Christians in the world today is African!13 We must make the requirements for the baptism of MBB’s as simple as possible, without confusing the kerygma.14 This is something that most missionaries (of the C4 and C5 variety) agree upon. To take our discussion one step further, let us consider our evaluation of Sola Fide missiology in relationship to the core issue at stake in the C4/C5 debate – that of self-identity. Tite Tienou has discussed Ali Mazrui’s ‘Yoruba model’ of ‘triple cultural heritage’ in which the Yoruba of Nigeria were able to absorb the religious and cultural propositions of Christianity and Westernization into their own traditional worldview.15 Without getting into the implications of the Westernization portion of this model (which is beyond the scope of this paper), I

12 Paul Hiebert, Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994), pp. 107-136. 13 Elizabeth Isichei, A History of Christianity in Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), p. 1. 14 The core non-negotiables of the Gospel. e.g. the virgin birth, the cross, etc. 15 Tite Tienou, ‘Which Way for African Christianity: Westernization or Indigenous Authenticity?’ in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 28:3 (July 1992), pp. 256-263. 
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would like to point out that Tienou and others16 have described the process by which the church was planted among the Yoruba as one where the Yoruba initially did not give up their primal cultural/religious identity. Instead, of their own accord, they decided to ‘allow’ the spread of this new religion while simultaneously holding to their old religious identity. Why could they not be Christ followers and Yoruba (read, practitioners of African Traditional Religion) at the same time, they reckoned? This sounds very much like the C5 stance today where Muslims are choosing to remain within the community of Islam without directly identifying themselves as Christians (or anything that sounds un-Muslim, such as ‘followers of Isa’). Only recently, after significant numbers of Yoruba people have embraced Jesus Christ, has the discussion of dropping the old primal religious identity surfaced. This shedding of the old identity has also been helped by the introduction of new alternative Christian forms and rituals in the place of traditional religious ones. Praise God, after many years the Yoruba are now formulating a new religious identity based on their faith in Jesus Christ over against their old primal religious identity. Hiebert’s centered set approach is particularly valid in this instance. In this case, those Yoruba who decided to turn toward the center point of Jesus Christ chose to do so without dropping many of the cultural or religious practices that they had previously known. Over time, and with great care on the part of missionaries, these Christ-facing Yoruba, with all of their self-identity issues, were discipled into a new self-identity that is more outwardly Christian. Speaking about this outward expression of a heretofore-inward truth on behalf of his fellow Africans, Tineou states, ‘We recognize no center of the Christian faith except Christ himself.’17 Why should this not be the case in the Muslim world today if Insider Movement missiology is carefully, patiently and prayerfully guided? The truth is we will not know the answer to such a question for several more decades.

16 See for example, a nine-part documentary by Dr. Ali Mazrui entitled The Africans: A Triple Heritage (Washington, D.C.: WETA/BBC, 1986). 17 Tienou, ‘Which Way for African Christianity: Westernization or Indigenous Authenticity?, p. 260. 
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2.5 Converts first, then disciples. Reading McGavran’s Homogeneous Unit Principle in its best possible light (and as I would contend, its true intention), we should take advantage of the reality that people like to become Christians without crossing barriers. After scores of Muslims have subjected themselves to Christ in homogenous units, the process of discipleship should include an understanding of their relationship to other believers, not before. In the case of Africa, the spirit of tribalism is rampant. If Africans had been implored to immediately join a community of ‘others’ with whom they had a violent past before professing faith in Jesus, many would have never come under his Lordship. Only after decades of tribalism within the Church have fellowships begun to emerge that are reflective of the greater body of Christ in Africa today. One such shining example exists in Accra, Ghana, in the form of City of God Church. Pastor John Kpikpi has written a masterful book on exactly how this process of discipleship is occurring in his church today, whereby they are creating ‘one new man’ in Christ (Eph 2:15) out of many.18 It was not this way from the start though. Converts initially came exclusively along social and cultural lines of similarity. While fears of ‘Churchless Christianity’ are certainly valid in that MBB’s in C5 fellowships might seem to exist apart from the established church, we must remember that when C5 is practiced properly believers are indeed part of a church (in its barest form) in that they ‘meet regularly with other C5 believers’.19 In time, we should help them move toward a fuller expression of church. If we have learned from Africa, the lack of this fuller expression in the initial stages of a movement should not frighten us. These five lessons gleaned from the African context are but a sampling of the many insights that can be applied in the current effort to contextualize the Gospel in Muslim cultures today. In the final analysis then, if we should learn one thing from the growth and rooting of the Church in Africa, we must understand that the process of indigenization of the Gospel message is complex, and very lengthy. It is one that is fraught with uncertainty and ‘messiness’. Despite this, which of us would argue that it has not been well worth it in the case of Africa? By
18 19

John Kpikpi, God’s New Tribe (Accra, Ghana: Hill City Publishing, 2003). Travis, ‘The C-1 to C-6 Spectrum’, p. 408. 
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the grace of God we will say the same for the Muslim world some day soon! 3. LESSONS LEARNED FROM 19TH CENTURY JAVA It has been argued that the best view on high spectrum contextualization is to see C5 as a temporary approach that will eventually lead to C4/C3 expressions of faith.20 I would agree with this assessment because I believe that such a transitional model of high spectrum contextualization has already proven successful. And it is to this little known, but highly effective 19th century model from Indonesia that we now turn. 3.1 Lower spectrum approaches have rarely been successful to make large numbers of initial converts from Islam In 1849 a man named W. Hoezoo was commissioned by the Dutch Missionary Society (NZG) to evangelize Muslims in Central Java. In his first three years he made forty converts (a seemingly remarkable feat). However, only ten of these ‘met the requirements for baptism’.21 Hoezoo was described as a ‘hard liner’ who ‘required converts to make a radical break with their culture’.22 He would not allow any practices that even hinted at religious or cultural conformity with Islam. For example, he outlawed circumcision among his converts because he felt that Muslims would view this act as a compromise with Islam.23 In 1851 Pieter Jansz was commissioned by the Dutch Mennonite Mission Society (DZV) to go to Jepara in Central Java. Like other low spectrum practitioners of his time, Jansz was seen as a ‘hard liner’ who would not baptize a man named Tunggul Wulung because he ‘lacked sufficient Biblical knowledge and was deficient in the areas of Christian life and

20 See for example, Tennent, ‘Followers of Jesus (Isa) in Islamic Mosques’, p. 113. See also Herbert Hoefer’s response to Tennent’s article in the same issue of IJFM, p. 126. 21 Sutarman Partonadi, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots: A Nineteenth Century Javanese Expression of Christianity (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1990), p. 35. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid. 
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doctrine.’24 Wulung eventually found another to baptize him, and went on to become one of the first great Javanese evangelists. With this kind of low spectrum approach, it is no wonder than Jansz, a faithful and hard-working missionary who translated both the Old and New Testaments into Javanese, baptized only seven people during his entire career in Java. The exclusive nature of this small Christian community that existed in the midst of a large Muslim majority land was not seen as inviting to Muslims, but as offensive. It should be noted that the major areas of offense were not necessarily theological ones (which would have been expected), but cultural ones. Partonadi has ably summarized the conditions of Javanese missions in the 19th century before the establishment of higher spectrum endeavors as being primarily Western in character and exclusive in nature (demanding a radical break with culture).25 3.2 National believers are often the ones who initiate higher spectrum approaches, not missionaries Travis, Massey and Bernard Dutch have repeatedly stated that their descriptions of C5 are just that – descriptions of work that is already going on with or without their approval.26 As explained above, the situation in 19th century Java was not good for the church of Jesus Christ. A large Muslim majority population dwarfed any expression of Christianity, which seemed destined to make little progress with its low spectrum applications by foreign missionaries. Onto this scene stepped the newly baptized evangelist Tunggul Wulung. As was customary, Wulung had recently publicly debated and defeated a man named Pak Kurmen who was the imam that had trained a young boy named Radin (Sadrach Surapranata). When Sadrach saw that his beloved ngelmu (teacher) had con-

24 A.G. Hoekema, ‘Kiai Ibrahim Tunggul Wulung (1800-1885): Apollos Jawa’,in Peninjau 7 (1980), p. 11, as cited by Partonadi, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots, p. 41. 25 Partonadi, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots, p. 47. 26 See for example, Travis, ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa’, and Massey, ‘God’s Amazing Diversity’. See also Bernard Dutch, ‘Should Muslims Become Christians?’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp.15-24. 
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verted to Christianity as a result of his public defeat at the hands of Wulung, the young Muslim murid (pupil) was stirred.27 Sadrach later approached Wulung (the same Wulung who was seen by Jansz as unfit for baptism) and was impressed with his teaching that one did not have to leave the Javanese adat (ancient Javanese cultural and religious tradition, including Islam) in order to follow Christ. Wulung felt that Javanese Christians should remain Javanese by teaching that they must ‘seek a Christ for themselves’.28 If it weren’t for his teaching on remaining in the adat, this statement could be interpreted as a C4 position. However, by teaching that Javanese followers of Christ could remain in the adat, it appears Wulung’s strategy marks the beginning of Insider Movement missiology long before the term existed.29 It should come as no surprise then, that after his conversion, the brilliant and charismatic Sadrach quickly developed a following of perhaps 6,000 MBB’s in a few years time by implementing Wulung’s high spectrum contextualized approach. During the time that Wulung and Sadrach were ministering in Java, they were constantly under extreme pressure from foreign missionary societies at work in that land. The societies were not only unfavorable to this radical approach; they were actually hostile – trying to stop the work on several occasions. Since it was no longer formally associated with any foreign agency however, this autonomous Insider Movement was not to be stopped.

Partonadi, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots, p. 57. Hoekema, p. 17 as cited by Partonadi. 29 It is largely based on the practice of giving Javanese people the option to remain in the adat – which meant keeping a traditional Javanese cultural and religious (i.e. Islamic) identity – that I have described the approach of Wulung and Sadrach as being an Insider Movement model. It is important to realize though, that we have little information as to how long these people maintained their adat identity, and we are not sure how many of the converts actually chose to do this. Nevertheless, this approach does bear the marks of a high spectrum movement in church history despite the obvious lack of a more ‘developed’ missiological theory like the one in question in our own time. 
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3.3 Insider Movements are a great way to gain numerical momentum, but they can’t last forever Remember that at the start of this section, I stated my agreement with Tennent and Hoefer that Insider Movements should only be a temporary bridge to a C4 or C3 expression of faith. The reality is that once the movement grows to a sufficient size, Muslims begin to catch on that these ‘strange kind of Muslims’, to borrow Massey’s terminology, are actually Christians!30 Thankfully, by the time this happens the movement is usually large enough to sustain itself, despite the threat of persecution. Simply stated, there is strength in numbers, and Insider Movements can give us this critical mass before a more formal expression of faith is necessitated. This more formal expression of faith is the type of contextualized Christian fellowship that C3 and C4 communities exhibit. Thus, if there were a goal here, it would be to see C5 approaches produce sufficiently large numbers of converts who will be able to support each other as a wholly new community (read, new non-Muslim identity) emerges over time. Thankfully, we have an historical example of just such a transition thanks to our friend Sadrach Surapranata. By the time Sadrach died in 1924, his communities of Javanese Christ followers numbered around 20,000!31 What began as an Insider Movement due to its emphasis on believers remaining a part of the Javanese adat eventually became a family of C4 and C3 communities in Central Java. Because of their substantial size, these communities (churches) were more readily able to express their faith in Jesus Christ despite opposition from their Muslim neighbors because, as noted above, there is strength in numbers. Where smaller communities would have been easily stamped out, Sadrach’s transitional contextual approach of C5 communities becoming C4 communities were sufficiently large enough not only to survive, but also to

30 See for example, Ishtiyaq Danish, ‘Contextualization: A New Missionary Approach to Muslims’, al- Tawhid 5:3&4 (nd), pp. 1-20. See also ‘Christian Missions: The New Crusade’, www.mrc.org.uk/the_new_crusade.php and ‘Jesus Mosques and Muslim Christians’, www.balaams-ass.com/alhaj/jesumosq.htm. 31 Jacqueline Rutgers, Islam en Christendom (The Hague, 1912), p. 239 as cited in Partonadi, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots, p. 129. 
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challenge surrounding Muslim communities for allegiance to Christ over against Muhammad. 3.4 If the desired result of an Insider Movement is a new indigenous expression of Christianity that continues to grow and multiply in C4/C3 fellowships, then at least four things are needed: 1. Local, lay leadership; 2. Culturally familiar religious forms; 3. The authority of God’s Word; 4. The exclusivity of Christ David Garrison’s fascinating book, Church Planting Movements32 lists several criteria for the rapid reproduction of churches that he has tracked around the world today. One of these criteria is a commitment to local, unpaid leadership. It makes sense that if we are to see the type of mass people movements to Christ that Insider Movements aim to provoke, it must happen through local, unpaid leaders. There are simply not enough foreign workers or enough funds to see it any other way. In the case of 19th century Java, while the efforts of missionaries like Jansz were crucial (Bible translation, consulting for indigenous leaders), it was clear that these ‘foreigners’ were never going to spark the kind of massive movement that indigenous leaders like Wulung and Sadrach did. Furthermore, the idea of a paid minister was completely foreign to Javanese thought.33 Sadrach’s movement is a good model for us in this area, and we would do well to follow it. Since the believers who followed Sadrach were encouraged to remain in the adat, they were used to Javanese Islamic forms and rituals. Initially, their Javanese identity was inseparable from Islam, even after their decision to follow Christ. Once sufficient numbers of converts had come in, one of the main ways that Sadrach was able to create a C4 expression of faith was through the reinterpretation of Islamic forms. For example, the beating of a drum served as the call to worship (as in the mosque). The buildings themselves were designed to look just like mosques (there were no images or crosses). Pastors were called imams
32 David Garrison, Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World (Bangalore, India: WIG Take Resources, 2004). 33 Partonadi, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots, p. 163. 
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or gurus as in any traditional Javanese community. Traditional Javanese clothing and dietary guidelines were observed. Men and women sat separately during worship. Chanting of memorized scripture that eventually produced a state of mystical experience with Allah (God) was a regular part of worship, just as in the Sufi form of Islam that the Javanese practiced. An open Bible was laid out on a stand in the front of the church just as the Qur’an was in the mosque (as a sign of respect for the holy book). A Christian shahadah was formulated that stated:
I believe that God is One. There is no God but God. Jesus Christ is the Spirit of God, Whose power is over everything. There is no God but God. Jesus Christ is the Spirit of God.34

It is no wonder that 20,000 Javanese were caught up in this move of God’s Spirit, as there was nothing foreign about it. As can be inferred from the way that the Bible was laid out during worship, the Javanese Christians held it in very high esteem. They were used to holding the Qur’an in high esteem, yet it was a book that most of them could not even read! How much more did they esteem the Bible, a holy book that was written in their own heart language? Members of Sadrach’s churches often memorized large portions of Scripture, as many were illiterate. Sadrach himself composed a handbook containing the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and Matthew 22:37-40 (the Greatest Commandment) which was supposed to be memorized by everyone.35 Finally, we can clearly see from Sadrach’s Javanese community that there was an absolute commitment to Christ as exclusive Lord and Savior. It was common for Sadrach’s evangelists to compare the risen Christ to Muhammad in their preaching. One evangelist, named Soleman, preached the following lines in a sermon,
Granted, Mohammed had some power… it must still have been far inferior to that of Christ. Mohammed can only hear if the face is turned toward the east

34 35

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when praying; Christ, however, has the power to hear no matter how one twists or turns, to the east, west, north, and south. Thus, Mohammed has only power in the east, but Christ in the east, west, north, and south. Is Christ not, then, greater than Mohammed? Granted, Mohammed was someone. That is natural. But ask a santri once if Mohammed ascended into heaven. What does he answer? Maybe? What maybe? We have certainty. Our Savior ascended; we know the day – forty days after his resurrection… Brothers, Mohammed is in Arabia, the dead Mohammed is there! Christ, the living Christ is in heaven.36

It seems as though the fear of a syncretistic Gospel that started with an Insider Movement within Javanese Islamic culture is almost ludicrous, given the nature of the aforementioned sermon. Here, years after the movement had matured and was making a transition toward C4 in the CSpectrum, MBB leaders were clearly quite well informed about the deity and exclusivity of Jesus Christ. More than that, they were obviously intent on sharing this information with others. This naturally leads into our final lesson from Sadrach Surapranata’s 19th century movement. 3.5 Honesty is imperative. Christ must never be denied, even in C5 settings There is an Islamic teaching called t}aqiyyah, which is a legal means of staying alive for the Muslim whose life may be threatened if he were to disclose his Islamic faith. Essentially, t}aqiyyah allows one to ‘hide’ their true Muslim identity as long as he remains a Muslim in his heart.37 This doctrine has opened the door to all kinds of deceit by providing a justification for lying. In a shame-based culture, such justifications are gladly implemented when ‘saving face’ is often more important than truth telling. C5 practitioners must continually beware of the trap of a ‘reverset}aqiyyah’ effect within Insider Movement missiology. As Paul has stated, ‘We do not use deception.’ (2 Cor 4:2) The danger of denying Christ in the name of ‘keeping a secret’ or of ‘saving face’ in C5 fellowships is real, and cannot be understated.

Ibid., p. 140. Ron George, Issues and Insights into Church Planting in the Muslim World (WIN Press, 2000), p. 84. 
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Throughout our case study of high spectrum contextualization in 19th century Javanese culture, one thing is abundantly clear – believers were taught never to deny Christ or to be deceitful about their identity. Since there was no distinction between Javanese culture and Javanese religion, there was no ethical problem with calling oneself a follower of agama Allah (the true religion of God), nor with calling a leader an imam or a guru. As believers would come into trouble for preaching Christ from time to time, however, two new terms arose, Kristen abangan and Kristen Jawa. These terms referred to believers who were confronted about their deviant beliefs (such as the superiority of Christ over Muhammad), and were translated as a ‘Christian who does not adhere to the foreign religion, but to the Javanese expression’.38 To be sure, many Javanese believers were persecuted and sometimes martyred for their faith during Sadrach’s days. They understood that it was never acceptable to deny Christ. This is a point that C5 proponents are careful to make throughout the literature, fully acknowledging the difficulties inherent in such a subject. Sadrach’s movement then, is a good reminder that a highly contextualized ministry can indeed produce those who ‘take a stand’ for Jesus when they must. The lessons that we can learn from Sadrach Surapranata and his team of indigenous evangelists in 19th century Java are many. I hope that the few insights we have gleaned in this brief survey will be helpful to the discussion of high spectrum contextualization in two major areas though. First, Sadrach’s community provides us with a model of high spectrum contextualization that was able transition from C5 to C4. Secondly, and I feel most fundamentally, Sadrach’s community should serve as an example for us of the fact that Insider Movements can and do happen without syncretism, and can result in a strong indigenous expression of C4 or C3 faith. 4. LESSONS LEARNED FROM WITHIN ISLAM: A SUFI MODEL Given all of our discussion about the possibilities of higher spectrum approaches to reach large numbers of Muslim peoples from within their
38

Partonadi, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots, p. 287. 
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own framework by allowing a new movement to emerge with minimal religious and cultural barriers, it behooves us to look more carefully at those who have already done it – the S}u>fis. Essentially, the S}u>fi movement began within orthodox Islam a millennium ago as a response to a growing legalistic and worldly leadership within Islam. Its practitioners sought a more personal spiritual connection with Alla>h. It was soon seen as a theologically deviant sect, resulting in a wide range of responses, from nothing at all to outright persecution in places. Nevertheless S}u>fism added to its numbers substantially through a variety of means that eventually enabled it to coexist alongside Islam.39 Today there are many varieties of S}u>fism as expressed in different brotherhoods, known as Tari>qas. Although numerically inferior to the whole of Islam today, S}u>fism is here to stay, boasting millions of adherents who live in the very heart of Islamic societies worldwide.40 4.1 Self-Identity is a multi-faceted issue, so why not use that to our advantage? Bernard Dutch has done well to remind us that the issue of one’s selfidentity is much more complicated than we might like to think. He states that
[the self-identity of MBB’s] is a multi-faceted issue that defies simple explanation and often frustrates external expectations. As cultural outsiders, we often see the issue in false clarity, imposing simplistic understandings of terms and relationships. For many Muslim background believers, identity is fluid, taking the most appropriate form for the situation.41
Malise Ruthven states, ‘From about the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries Sufism in all it varieties became so widespread and pervasive as to be virtually co-extensive with Islam.’ Quoted from Ruthven, Islam in the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 247. 40 I believe it is worth exploring the possibilities of having certain C5 fellowships maintain an identity as a Tari>qa known as ‘followers of ‘Isá’, complete with their own zawiyah (church), shaykh (pastor), and muqaddams (elders). This idea is also cited in George, Issues and Insights into Church Planting in the Muslim World, p.114. 41 Dutch, ‘Should Muslims Become Christians?’, p. 16. See also, Syrian-born MBB Mazhar Mallouhi’s self-depiction as a Sufi in Paul Gordon-Chandler’s Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road: Exploring a New Path Between Two Faiths (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefied, 2008). 
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I can personally attest to the veracity of this claim, having portrayed my religious identity in a variety of ways at different times and among different crowds without ever feeling I had ethically compromised or used deceit. Jesus certainly did not let all of his cards show right away, choosing to refer to himself in a variety of ways in different situations.42 In the case of Sufism, a great advantage is that there seems to be no end to the countless manifestations of the mystical experience. This made them much more difficult to ’pin down’ as a movement. Likewise, C5 fellowships today can take advantage of the Sufi model of a fluid self-identity. 4.2 What’s so bad about being viewed as a strange new sect? It was good enough for the early Church The early church was viewed as a strange new sect within Judaism at its inception, and eventually took on a completely new identity. Initially deemed ‘Followers of the Way’, they became known as ‘Christians’ at Antioch. (Acts 11:26) It has been well established that anything viewed as a ‘Christian’ movement will not make it very far in the Islamic world.43 Why not embrace the idea of being seen as a strange new sect within Islam itself, as we have seen from the S}u>fis that it can be done?44 A C4 approach will not likely be able to do this because as ‘followers of Isa’ MBB’s are soon found to be ‘Christians’ if they do not keep enough of a Muslim profile. I am sure it can be done in certain situations (probably within S}u>fism where ‘new identities’ are welcomed). In an orthodox area though, a C5 identity would be more beneficial.45

The Son of Man, I Am, the Christ, the Son of David, etc. were all used by Jesus to describe himself in different situations. 43 Fouad Elias Accad has written a most helpful book for Christians to share their faith with Muslims called Building Bridges (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1997). Having spent a lifetime in the Middle East, he too attests to the validity of MBB’s following Christ as a ‘Muslim’ as one who is now truly ‘surrendered to God’ in Christ Jesus (Gal 2:20). 44 See for example, Richard Jameson and Nick Scalevich, ‘First Century Jews and Twentieth Century Muslims’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp. 33-39. 45 According to Massey, Muslims view C4 believers as ‘a kind of Christian’ while they view C5 believers as ‘a strange kind of Muslim’. This makes a big difference! For a visual comparative analysis of this point, see Massey, ‘God’s Amazing Diversity’, p. 7. 
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4.3 Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s… Having been disillusioned with the political mess that Shari>‘ah often created, many S}u>fi Tari>qas renounced political agendas altogether. This was very attractive to the Muslim masses that were also disillusioned. Insider Movements would do well to duplicate this approach. 4.4 …and to God what is God’s Whenever funds came in, S}u>fis were quick to ‘finance the brotherhood’s wide-ranging charitable activities.’46 Emerging C5 movements should look for ways to serve the community, thus obeying God and gaining the favor of the people.47 This is also a good opportunity to point out the necessity of keeping foreign funds out of the movement as much as possible. Thus, any growth that occurs will be sustainable because it will have occurred without foreign money, which is often a temporary entity. 4.5 Bring the women’s liberation movement to the Muslim World Ruthven observes, ‘In their heyday, the orders provided an outlet for female devotion denied by official Islam… Women were enrolled into the orders as associate members and were even sometimes permitted to preside over groups of female murids.’48 While many Muslim women will profess their undying allegiance to Islam (sometimes more strongly than men will), the fact remains that Islam leaves fully fifty percent of its followers with little or no meaningful participative ability. By creating avenues for women to serve and use their gifts, Insider Movements will be building on one of the most successful elements of S}u>fism.

Ruthven, Islam in the World, p. 250. We can learn something here by way of gaining good will in the community from Hezbollah. Although most Lebanese see Hezbollah as foreign intruders and terrorists in their midst, they are still welcoming to them because Hezbollah has always known how to serve the people so as to gain their favor, suspect as their reasons for it may be. 48 Ruthven, Islam in the World, p. 248. 
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4.6 Visions and dreams should be discussed openly S}u>fis are fond of validating their vocations, positions of leadership in the community, etc. by sharing that it was revealed to them in a dream from Allah. Likewise, the vast majority of MBB’s today report some type of vision or dream (often of Jesus) as being fundamental to their conversion. Why not encourage MBB’s to share their story of a vision of Jesus as received directly from God in order to validate their claims? The mystical S}u>fis do it. 4.7 Sola Fide, again It is no secret that the human soul cannot live under the requirements of the law without eventually feeling the weight of impossibility. The resounding ‘works mentality’ of Muslims will never be able to touch their soul in its area of deepest need – relationship with God. It is for this reason that mysticism and union with God have been staple ingredients of the S}u>fi movement since it began.49 As Ruthven relates, ‘Yet from the first there were Muslims whose psychic or spiritual needs were unsatisfied by mere obedience to the deity and the dutiful observance of his commandments. They sought a closer and more intimate relationship…’50 S}u>fism arose then, as a direct response to the spiritual vacuum that Islam creates on the level of soul intimacy. How much more, with the Holy Spirit himself indwelling believers, should Muslim followers of Jesus be willing and able to reflect God’s deep longing for intimacy and relationship with his children through the person of his Son? As we close this discussion of penetrating Islam from within, I would like to make one final comment pertaining to high spectrum contextualization. Most of the insights from the seven ‘lessons’ listed here could be implemented by C4 or C5 fellowships. The defining factor as I see it though, comes down to the perception of these fellowships by Muslims themselves. Since C4 MBB’s are seen as ‘a kind of Christian’, albeit a more palatable kind, they are unable to reach as deeply into Islamic culture as C5 MBB’s can, being viewed as ‘a strange kind of
49 This longing for communion with the Divine has historically gotten Sufis into trouble with orthodox Muslims. Some, such as the famous S}u>fi saint al-Halla>j, have paid with their lives. 50 Ruthven, Islam in the World, p. 221. 
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ture as C5 MBB’s can, being viewed as ‘a strange kind of Muslim’. This means that C4 fellowships can indeed implement many of the insights from S}u>fism. It also means however, that C4 fellowships will have a limited scope of influence in Islamic culture that will extend only as far as the Muslim majority is willing to allow a ‘Christian’ movement to go. In contrast, C5 fellowships have the freedom to influence Islamic culture on a much broader scale, as they are more likely to be allowed to carry their movement further, being viewed as a deviant sect of Islam. 5. CONCLUSIONS This paper has sought to address some of the complex issues at stake in high spectrum contextualization ministries among Muslims. We have done this by way of comparison to three other movements across time and throughout the world. Our analysis has taken us from the Middle East to Africa, then Asia, and back to the Middle East again. In doing so, I have attempted to illuminate some of the key concerns in high spectrum ministry. Many of the ‘lessons’ we have learned are applicable at multiple points on the C-Spectrum. I would like to conclude however, by addressing some primary concerns of C5 critics, most of which I share in myself. I intend to do this by making a distinction within C5 itself that I feel is crucial to understand this debate. Pictured below are comparative tables that will distinguish between what we will call ‘Syncretistic C5’ and ‘Appropriate C5’. ’Syncretistic C5’ represents most of the fears concerning Insider Movements. If not carefully monitored and guided, many C5 ministries could end up in this model. ’Appropriate C5’ represents the exciting possibilities of properly guided (both by man and God) Insider Movements. I sincerely believe that this transitional model will be acceptable to both sides of the current debate on high spectrum contextualization for two reasons. First of all, it brings further clarity and distinction to the often-ambiguous Insider Movement discussion in such areas as methodology, ecclesiology, ethics and anthropology. One of the biggest obstacles in the current debate concerns the overall confusion about what exactly is meant by C5 or Insider Movements. Different authors have used it in different ways, resulting in more confusion than is necessary.

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Syncretistic C5
Extractionism 1 C-Spectrum Contextualization 2 3 4 Syncretism 5

Enter at 5, always drifting toward syncretism.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Methodology: almost always prescriptive Insider primarily means IN mosque Ecclesiology: content with low expression of church, koinonia (fellowship) is enough Churchless Christianity a real danger because of ambiguous goal for expression of church Homogenous Unit Principle employed liberally with little or no concern for Kingdom diversity, thus likely to remain homogenous over time Missionaries free to adopt C5 identity Views C5 as a permanent strategy and sees little or no need to move toward C4/3 Self-Identity: Muslim follower of ‘Isá Perceived ID: Muslim

6. 7. 8. 9.

10. Likely to affirm Shaha>dah, prophethood of Muh}ammad, problematic Qur’a>nic texts 11. Qur’a>n and Inji>l seen as equal 12. Susceptible to ‘reverse-T}aqiyyah’ effect.

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Appropriate C5
Extractionism 1 C-Spectrum Contextualization 2 3 4 Syncretism 5

Enter at 5, always transitioning toward contextualization.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Methodology: chiefly descriptive, prescriptive use is situational Insider moves from IN mosque to IN social /familial networks Ecclesiology: move from low expression to higher expression of church, ekklesia is goal Churchless Christianity not likely because of clear vision for C4/3 New Testament churches Homogenous Unit Principle recognized, but with end goal as ‘Ephesians Moment’ disciples, reconciled to other expressions of global Christianity Only national MBB’s may adopt C5 identity Views C5 as a temporary strategy to gain momentum and critical mass for C4/3 Self-Identity: Muslim follower of ‘Isá Perceived ID: Strange kind of Muslim, possibly with deviant theology

6. 7. 8. 9.

10. Re-interpret Shaha>dah, respectfully avoid discussions about prophethood of Muh}ammad and problematic Qur’a>nic texts 11. Inji>l elevated above Qur’a>n 12. ‘We do not use deception.’ (2 Cor 4:2)

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We can converse more intelligently when we are using the same language about this subject. In future discussions of C5, we should qualify which C5 we are speaking of. The second reason why I feel this transitional model will satisfy both sides is that it has a more clearly delineated end goal, which is marked by limits on all sides. The end goal of ’Syncretistic C5’ is unclear, and thus leaves open dangerous possibilities such as syncretism or Churchless Christianity. By way of contrast, ’Appropriate C5’ has a clearer set of guidelines that should not be compromised, and a clearer end goal – an indigenous church movement that is well related to the global church. While we must be careful to be Biblically and culturally ‘appropriate’ in our role in the transmission of the Christian faith, the lessons we have learned from the African context should allay our fears somewhat. Additionally, we should not wonder if a transitional model of high spectrum contextualization is possible, because Sadrach Surapranata has proved that indeed it is. We can also thank the S}u>fis for providing us with a shining example of the very thing that Insider Movements aim to do – penetrate Islamic culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ from within its own ranks. Finally, and most importantly, we must remember that high spectrum contextualized ministry is as dangerous as it is promising, which is why the Spirit of God is needed more than anything else. Further discussion on an ‘appropriate’ model of C5 ministry is needed as we move forward. BIBLIOGRAPHY Accad, Fouad Elias, Building Bridges (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1997). Bediako, Kwame, Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion (New York: Orbis Books, 1995). Bediako, Kwame, ‘Scripture as the Hermeneutic of Culture and Tradition’, in Journal of African Christian Thought 4:1 (June 2001), pp. 2-11. Corwin, Gary, ‘Insider Movements and Outsider Missiology’ in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 42:1 (January 2006), pp. 10-11. Danish, Ishtiyaq, ‘Contextualization: A New Missionary Approach to Muslims’, in al-Tawhid 5:3&4 (nd), pp. 1-20.

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Dutch, Bernard, ‘Should Muslims Become Christians?’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp. 15-24. Garrison, David, Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World (Bangalore, India: WIG Take Resources, 2004). George, Ron, Issues and Insights into Church Planting in the Muslim World (WIN Press, 2000). Gordon-Chandler, Paul, Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road: Exploring a New Path Between Two Faiths (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008). Hiebert, Paul, Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994). Hoefer, Herbert, Churchless Christianity (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2001). Hoekema, A.G., ‘Kiai Ibrahim Tunggul Wulung (1800-1885): Apollos Jawa’, in Peninjau 7 (1980). Holy Bible, NIV, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996). Isichei, Elizabeth, A History of Christianity in Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995). Jameson, Richard and Scalevich, Nick, ‘First Century Jews and Twentieth Century Muslims’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp. 33-39. Kpikpi, John, God’s New Tribe (Accra, Ghana: Hill City Publishing, 2003). Kraft, Charles (ed), Appropriate Christianity (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2005). Lasisi, Lawrence, ‘Syncretism’, in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: Word Alive/Zondervan, 2006), p. 900. Massey, Joshua, ‘God’s Amazing Diversity in Drawing Muslims to Christ’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp. 5-14. Massey, Joshua, ‘His Ways are not Our Ways’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 35:2 (April 1999), pp. 188-197. Massey, Joshua, ‘Misunderstanding C5: His Ways are not our Orthodoxy’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 40:3 (July 2004), pp. 296-304. Mazrui, Ali, The Africans: A Triple Heritage (Washington, D.C.: WETA/BBC, 1986).

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McGavran, Donald, Understanding Church Growth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990). Parshall, Phil, ‘Danger! New Directions in Contextualization’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998), pp. 404-406, 409410. Parshall, Phil, Muslim Evangelism: Contemporary Approaches to Contextualization (Waynesboro, GA: Gabriel Publishing, 2003). Partonadi, Sutarman, Sadrach’s Community and it’s Contextual Roots: A Nineteenth Century Javanese Expression of Christianity (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1990). Rutgers, J.C., Islam en Christendom (The Hague, 1912). Ruthven, Malise, Islam in the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). Tennent, Timothy, Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002). Tennent, Timothy, ‘Followers of Jesus (Isa) in Islamic Mosques: A Closer Examination of C-5 “High Spectrum” Contextualization’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 23:3 (Fall 2006), pp. 101-115. Tienou, Tite, ‘Which Way for African Christianity: Westernization or Indigenous Authenticity?’ in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 28:3 (July 1992), pp. 256-263. Travis, John, ‘Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C-5 Believers and Congregations’, in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000), pp. 53-59. Travis, John, ‘Must all Muslims leave Islam to follow Jesus?’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998), pp. 411-415. Travis, John, ‘The C-1 to C-6 Spectrum’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998), pp. 407-408. Walls, Andrew, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith (New York: Orbis Books, 1996). No author listed, ‘Christian Missions: The New Crusade’, on www.mrc.org.uk/the_new_crusade.php No author listed, ‘Jesus Mosques and Muslim Christians’, on www.balaamsass.com/alhaj/jesumosq.htm.

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A FEW THOUGHTS MADE WHILE CROSSING A MINEFIELD
BY BASIL GRAFAS
As one trained and at home in the fields of history and theology, discussing exegesis, hermeneutics and Bible translation may be something akin to waltzing through a minefield; inadvisable at best. Nevertheless, I stumbled on an old article by the then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) that started me thinking. It is not as though I quote popes at every opportunity either, but his thoughts resonated in me. I think they also provide cautions that those of us who are evangelicals engaged in the mission of the Church, whether as translators, church planters, teachers or missionaries, would do well to heed. ‘Biblical Interpretation in Crisis’, the 1988 Erasmus Lecture probed the impact of modern ‘scientific’ methods on biblical understanding.1 The author sets the tone for his paper by citing the book, History of the Antichrist by Wladimir Solowjew. In it, the antichrist commended himself to believers on the grounds that he had received a doctorate in theology at the University of Tübingen and had pioneered innovative works in the field of exegesis. Ratzinger follows with a short history of how modernism took over the field of scholarly biblical interpretation, a position that it holds to this day. It is, as many of us know, a sad story flowing from Immanuel Kant’s pen. By placing an impenetrable divide between God and human beings, Kant decreed for future generations that we could indeed believe the Bible, but we could never afford to it the same sort of unshakable trust we give to scientific methods. It also meant that we could believe God, but that belief was not in any way connected to how we study the Bible. God was altogether too incomprehensible to be of use in such a detailed, analytical exercise. This later became just another book that could, with the tools of historical-critical method, be placed on the examination ta1 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, ‘Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The 1988 Erasmus Lecture’, in First Things, see www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2008/04/biblical-interpretation-in-cri (18 July 2009). 
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ble and dissected to our heart’s content. It became a very human collection of stories, myths and aphorisms and nothing more than that. Finally, in their fascination with all things new, modern scholars effectively cut off the interpretation of the Bible from any methods that predated the modern. As Ratzinger noted, the exegesis of the church fathers was, under the assault of the modern, pigeonholed as ‘allegory’ and therefore not reliable. Likewise, the medieval or Reformational interpretation was labeled as ‘pre-critical’ and anything pre-critical must be less than something critical. As in every other area of our contemporary lives, we succumbed to the modern. Ratzinger notes that modern exegesis, unlike earlier versions that intermingled method with doctrine and devotion as a spiritual exercise of worship, claimed ‘an exactness and certitude similar to natural sciences’. Any walk through a decent biblical/theological library or the website of an organization committed to translation verifies the essential truth of this. Having said this, I do not mean that people who exegete or translate think that they have an infallible tool for making perfect analyses. Most of the capable people I have met in these pursuits have a very real appreciation of the tenuousness of their products. Nevertheless, I often get the impression that they have great confidence in the tools they employ, even if they have a healthy skepticism of their own ability to see things clearly and objectively. If anything, the tools might need a bit of tweaking, or perhaps we need a bit more technology or modern insight to help us over the hump. The author, without throwing out the considerable contributions of the last two hundred years or more, questions the heart of the modern enterprise and makes suggestions that redress the greater errors of Enlightenment hubris. He quotes Romano Guardini’s appraisal of the new methods as producing false certainty based on overly simplistic consideration of all the factors impinging on meaning. Ratzinger points out that they are false because the new methods fail to account for the ‘depth and dynamism of the word’. Words have thick and dynamic meanings that are intertwined with a variety of contexts. In other words, for all of their scientific trappings, modern methods of interpretation tend to be simplistic, narrow and unsophisticated. Ratzinger further points out that modern theologians such as Bultmann and Dibelius paved the way for serious problems in contemporary

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interpretation (whether they are done by theological liberals, conservatives or evangelicals) by debasing historical and social context , only valuing the word itself. In other words, only the meaning of words spoken matters; their contexts do not. Communication equated to words that acted as symbols for ideas, but their settings and the speech acts that accompanied were completely divorced from meaning. This is disastrous for interpretation. It disembodied words and made their historic contents superfluous. More dangerously, it led to a docetic Christology in which the reality, that is the concrete fleshly existence of Christ and especially of man, is removed from the realm of meaning. All you have to do is separate the kernel of truth from the historic, cultural husk and you can be sure that you have done well in your interpretive task. Does that sound familiar? The best part of Ratzinger’s article was his list of hopes for the future of biblical interpretation. Let me list and summarize each: 1. Scientific exegesis must recognize its own philosophical presuppositions and prejudices in its ground rules for interpretation. It must then consider what the outcomes have been because of these. Exegesis can no longer be conducted in a unilinear, synchronic fashion. Exegesis must recognize itself as a historical discipline in order to evaluate the utility of its methods compared in a non-prejudicial way to those of other times and places. In other words, the newest methods we have developed along a pretty narrow line do not ensure that we have better or wiser interpretation. We need to compare our approaches to others critically and then learn from them. Perhaps, another way of looking at what Ratzinger meant is to say that simply refining a methodology, regardless of how carefully, is no protection from significant error. Furthermore, only maintaining changes and improvements within a family of tools is also not sufficient. The Bible is bigger than that. The cardinal did not say it that way, but I think it is exactly what he meant. Philological and scientific literary methods are and will remain critically important for a proper exegesis, but an accurate understanding of the philosophical implications of their interpretive

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2.

3.

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4.

5.

process is required. This requires a comparison with other methods and their philosophical assumptions. Thus, it is not sufficient to scan simply the last one hundred and fifty years. We need to critically examine our exegetical methods and see what impact they have had on our real engagement with the text. This, in the author’s opinion will lead to a new, fruitful collaboration between exegesis and systematic theology. Finally, the exegete must realize that he does not stand in some neutral area, above or outside history and the church.

The current pope has given us much to consider in this cautionary article, whether we engage his thoughts as theologians, pastors, missionaries, teachers or translators. If we are Western, we have been trained in methods that have been shaped tremendously by modernism. We would do well to heed Ratzinger’s warning and examine ourselves.


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BOOK REVIEW BY CALLUM JOHNSON FROM SEED TO FRUIT: GLOBAL TRENDS, FRUITFUL PRACTICES AND EMERGING ISSUES AMONG MUSLIMS
BY J. DUDLEY WOODBERRY

(Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2008) God is doing exciting new things in bringing Muslims to faith in ‘Isa al Masih. Looking at such a movement this book does what it says on the label - it is an exploration of trends around the world focused on Muslim people groups and how mission is engaging with those groups. It also looks at what mission practices have been fruitful, with respect to seeing the development of alive and growing churches in these Muslim contexts. People from a number of organizations were asked to feedback their experiences in these areas and were then brought together to discuss such questions. The initial insights were explored by a broad group of workers in the consultation held in 2007, and then further analyzed in subsequent months and compiled in this volume. The book is split into four parts: Part I Global Trends: Soils, Seed, Sowers and First Fruits This first part has 6 chapters from different contributors looking at these Global trends. Part II Fruitful Practices: Sowing, Watering, Gathering, Reproducing The second part of 6 chapters looks at factors affecting church planting and identifies some important factors that have contributed to significant church growth.

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St Francis Magazine 5:4 (August 2009)

Part III Emerging Issues in Fruitful Practices: Birds, Rocks, Sun, and Soil The third part of 7 chapters looks at issues that need to be grappled with in a deeper way, exploring issues like identity, oral communities, dangers in funding, and folk Islam. Part IV Emerging Issues in Global Trends: More Birds, Rocks, Sun, and Soil This last section looks at issues dealing with fundamentalism, peacemaking and suffering. The target readership for this book is practitioners involved in Muslim work and students of mission. In this, it is a valuable resource of ideas and approaches for people to look at and assess their context and approach. As a lecturer in mission, I am exceedingly grateful for this and would recommend all involved in Muslim outreach to read it and use it as a tool for reflection and assessment. But, as useful as it is, and as well intentioned as it is, there are some things about the book that don't sit comfortably with me. 1. Global Trends: ‘One goal for many of us is to see every Muslim unreached people group (MUPG) equal to or greater than 100,000 in population engaged by church planters by the close of the year 2012.’ This stated aim lies near the heart of the reason that the consultation was called, and a lot of energy is being focused that way. Leaders of mission agencies discussed how to meet these aims and wrestled with questions like what does it mean to call a people group engaged. However, to me this seems a slightly odd focus for strategy making. It seems driven by an eschatology that considers that Jesus won't come back until all nations/peoples have heard the gospel and as a strategy it risks pushing resources towards reaching smallish groups at the expense of larger groups and needs. For example, can we really call the Bengali Muslim population ‘engaged’ even though it has a thriving MBB movement, when the unreached numbers in that one community are so huge? Where, as a mission leader, should I aim to focus resources?

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St Francis Magazine 5:4 (August 2009)

2. Church Planting: The aim of this book is to foster effective church planting. Now I'm all for that, and personally work towards it. But I also see mission as having a holistic basis that is all but ignored in these pages. I am one of the first to admit that I think my mission has lost a lot of its focus on church planting and needs to recapture it in many areas, but the role of holistic missional approaches should be part of our aims and strategy. Much more discussion is needed in this. 3. Fruitful Practices: As far they go, they are fine. However, some readers will be left wondering where most of the meat is. Few of the issues raised are explored in the sort of depth that I was anticipating and I would have liked to see thorough thinking around a lot of the issues. I suppose that sums up my view of the book. Even allowing for a focus on church planting and a strategy aiming reaching all MUPGs, including the small ones, it is slightly unsatisfying. It is a good resource, but it could have been so much more.


 St
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Interserve
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