St Francis Magazine 5:6 (December 2009

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CONTENT Foreword: Recruitment, Insider Movements, John Stringer, 1 Recruitment and Sending of Brazilians to the Arab World, Délnia Bastos, 2 Recruitment of Christian Workers for the Arab World: An Australian Perspective, David Wright, 17 Mobilising Human Capital for Business-as-Mission in the Arab World, Peter Shaukat, 25 Issues Surrounding the Recruitment and Placement of Tentmakers in the Gulf, Taylor Graeme Smythe, 37 Security and Safety Issues in mission in the Arab World, Taylor Graeme Smythe, Prisca Smythe, Jacob Volpe, 50 Why recruiting mission workers for the Arab World is hard work, Tanas al-Qassis, 58 Speaking the truth about insider movements addressing the criticisms of Bill Nikides and ‘Phil’ relative to the article ‘Inside What?’, Kevin Higgins, 61 Muslim-Idiom Bible Translations: Claims and Facts, Rick Brown, John Penny, and Leith Gray, 87 Allah of Islam; The I AM of the Bible: Similar, the same or different? John Span, 106

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What’s so bad…? A response to Abdul Asad’s ‘Rethinking the Insider Movement Debate: Global Historical Insights Toward an Appropriate Transitional Model of C5’, John Span, 124 Making Sense of Contextualization: A Guide on Setting Parameters for Church Planters, Timothy Herald, 138 Maintaining the integrity of the Gospel whilst proclaiming it into a foreign culture, Chris, 158 Evangelism on Arab soil, Jacob Du Plooy, 170 Book Review: Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, (Baker Book House with ēmersion, 2008) 172 pages, Phil Bourne, 178

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FOREWORD: RECRUITMENT, INSIDER MOVEMENTS
This new issue of St Francis Magazine (December 2009, Vol 5:6) focuses on recruitment issues. Recruiting missionaries for the Arab World has always been challenging. Who is prepared to go to an area that is so hostile to the Christian faith? Mission agencies struggle to meet the need. We warmly welcome our new writers in this issue on Recruitment! The contextualization debate also continues with some (barely) suppressed heat. After our October 2009 issue on Insider Movements, we received articles in response from some proponents of C5-contextualization. We hope that this debate does not stop here; open and honest debate brings out the best in all of us, insha’ allah. Openness is hard, because we discuss sensitive matters for people in the Muslim World. And it is so hard to honestly evaluate the C5 movement if what people say about it is so contradictory. Some write vehemently that the movement is theologically orthodox; people are baptized and celebrate Holy Communion as Christians. But then, one MBB writing from Bangladesh alleged about the Insider Movement in his country: ‘People know them as Muslim who pray five times in the mosque, they fast in the month of Ramadan, and give Korbany in the Eid time and they follow all other rituals.’ What we need is truth and wisdom, and charity in our discussions. May God grant us all this. And may He give us a great Christmas season! The peace of the Lord be with you. Rev Dr John Stringer 1 December 2009

St Francis Magazine 5:6 (December 2009)

RECRUITMENT AND SENDING OF BRAZILIANS TO THE ARAB WORLD
BY DÉLNIA BASTOS1

1 Introduction
I am Brazilian and have worked for the past six years in a mission agency recruiting and sending my fellow countrymen from the evangelical church into mission in the Arab world and Asia. I am a novice on the subject. As I write, I remember the experience of learning as I share with you here. The first time I heard about sending Brazilians to the Arab world was in the mid 80s. At that time, few leaders really believed that it was time to send Brazilians into cross-cultural mission. We were still ‘the mission field’. And the missionary model implemented in Brazil, for the most part, had generated dependence and a degree of inferiority.

2 Panorama of the Brazilian missionary movement
But much has changed since then. Most foreign missionaries in Brazil have left. The Brazilian church has grown greatly in number, as the table below demonstrates. With 180 million inhabitants, Brazil today has between 17 and 20% evangelical Christians (estimates between 30 to 40 million people). However, according to most observers, qualitative growth did not follow the numerical growth. Allied to the numbers, the ecclesiastic and denominational diversity of the church also grew. It is impossible to speak of “a Brazilian evangelical church”. We are several churches, of various types and many different theolo1

The author is the director of Interserve in Brazil St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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gies. The so-called “prosperity gospel” has grown greatly and influences much of the evangelical population in Brazil. This majority does not care about missions in a real way. We say among ourselves that we are inward looking or “naval gazing”. Some groups have been successful in internationalizing their churches, which is by no means synonymous with mission. This “expansionism” has happened to the United States, Europe, Africa (especially the Portuguese-speaking countries) and to Asia (mainly Japan, where there are many Brazilian immigrants).

Table I - Growth of evangelical Christians in Brazil during last 30 years

Moreover, as a direct consequence of the very growth in numbers, everywhere there is need (justified or not) for construction and expansion of churches, and resources are usually focused on this domestic demand. Other resources are invested in social projects, which is commendable, since we still face major social challenges in our country. RENAS (the National Evangelical Network for Social Action) has 477 organizations and social networks volSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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untarily registered on their website. It is estimated that the actual number exceeds 2,000 entities. They are scattered throughout the country and include such diversity of organizations as those that work with drug addicts to those that seek to protect the environment. Urban Missions has also grown at a rapid pace (and interacts with social organizations) – though urban problems grow at a higher rate still. So we can say that the Brazilian church today has a social conscience and missionary awareness (or local evangelistic consciousness). But the missionary awareness in terms of the rest of the world, and specifically the Arab world, is still very small compared with the “great number” of Brazilian evangelical Christians. In general, there is still a long way to go before we can say that we are obeying the call of Acts 1.8 to preach in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth. We are more focused on the ‘here’ than on ‘the ends of the earth’. However a “remnant” whose mission awareness is slow-moving but steady, and increasingly more mature, has shown great commitment. There are local churches and agencies working together (and sometimes separately...) in training, recruitment and sending of missionaries to various parts of the world, including the Arab world. In 2005, Brazil had 3,195 cross-cultural missionaries, as shown in the table below.2 It is still a very small number compared to the huge evangelical population – the proportion of 1 cross-cultural missionary for every 10,000 believers. But there is also good news, as shown in the next frame.

According to the director of AMTB (Brazilian Association of Cross-Cultural Mission) today there are around 4,000 Brazilian cross-cultural missionaries. New research is underway. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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Table II - Cross-cultural Brazilian missionaries: Numerical growth (last 15 years)

Table III - What regions are receiving Brazilian missionaries?
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About 20% of Brazilians missionaries are in the 10/40 Window – a percentage well above the world average, which is 8%. This percentage was 5% fifteen years ago, that is, it has grown 15% in 15 years. Many of them are in the Arab world. Another encouragement is that the average stay in the field greatly increased after the Brazilian missionary movement awoke to the importance of comprehensive care of the missionary as shown in Table IV. In the early days of the Brazilian missionary movement the time spent on the field was much less, thus we see the encouraging growth in maturity of missions from Brazil.

Table IV – How long does a Brazilian missionary stay in the field?

3 Strengths and weaknesses of the Brazilian missionary in the Arab world
While recruiting Brazilians to send to the Arab world, we must evaluate the strengths that enable the Brazilian missionary to serve
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well and the weaknesses or major challenges that we know, see and experience so that we can be successful in this mission. Let me describe just a few points, which in my opinion, are the most important. 3.1 Weaknesses 3.1.1 Pro-Israel Theology One of the most popular theologies in Brazil in fact distances Brazilians from the Arab peoples. It is an extremely pro-Israel theology, anti-Islamic and anti-Arab. It is common to see messages and videos circulating on the internet, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt, portraying Islam as a terrorist, murderous, satanic, anti-God religion. Even at missions conferences, to rouse the believers, some degrading resources are used, biased against the Muslim people and, therefore, the Arab peoples. There is a lot of generalization and ignorance. Recently, an evangelical magazine of national circulation published a balanced article showing similarities between characteristics of Allah and God.3 But this attitude is an exception in the national scene and offends the majority of evangelicals. It is vital that a different understanding be promoted. We must teach in seminaries and missions schools that there was also a promise to Ishmael. Fortunately today we have ex-Brazilian missionaries, who lived ten, fifteen or more years in the Arab world. They can and indeed are already helping us to have a better understand of these things. But there is a long way to go. 3.1.2 Difficulty in leaving the extended family The Brazilian is tremendously attached to the extended family. It is very difficult for us, even for those who are married, to “leave faMarcos Amado. Ala é Deus? Revista Ultimato, Viçosa, n. 320, p. 32-33, set./out. 2009. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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ther, mother, brothers and sisters”, as Christ asked us. If there is someone sick in the family, then the situation is even more complicated. There is a heavy burden of guilt on Brazilians who leave the family. It's seen as shameful not to prioritize the family. When I started working in this area of sending missionaries, I thought the biggest challenge would be the financial issue. What a fool! The biggest challenge, at least for me, has been to “confront” the relatives of our candidates. There are stories that would be almost incredible to people from other cultures, such as the middle aged elder who accepted the challenge to go, but the church saw this as irresponsible (leaving ‘children’ in Brazil – even though the ‘children’ were already independent) and misconduct against the church, where he had been a leader and teacher for many years. And it is not a church without missionary vision. Rather, it is a church with great missionary vision, but that always sent only young single people to the field. There is also the story of the mother who opposed the call of a married daughter, and prayed for God to ‘put out the flame’ of another single missionary from the church who also was preparing to go. “God answered about my daughter [who ended up not going], He will answer for you too. He will prevent you going.” This is not just a cultural element; it is certainly a serious failing on the part of our churches. We agree with missions, but never for our children or parents or brothers or grandchildren. We need to talk more about the costs of mission in relation to family, and also remember the teaching of Eden, according to which man and woman must leave father and mother to make a new home. 3.1.3 Fundraising Another major challenge for Brazilian missions in the Arab world is the financial issue. Not that there are no resources in Brazil, but it seems that we never know where they are! The cost of a missionary in the Arab world is high – much higher than maintaining a missionary in our own country, or among the un-reached tribes of
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Brazil, or among some peoples of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. And most of our churches (at least those involved in missions and not of the prosperity gospel) are not rich and are not able to sustain a missionary or a missionary family in the Arab world singlehandedly. The Brazilian missionary then faces the challenge of building a broad network of supporters. This task takes considerable energy, time (not less than one year) and work. In our mission, we have a family with 45 supporters (about 6 churches and 39 people) that make it possible for them to work in the Arab world. In general, the mother church contributes a higher amount, but never fully meets the needs of the missionary on the field. We must develop the habit in Brazil of contributing to missions, right from childhood. It seems to me that it is more common to contribute to social projects which can be seen in the community. Contributing to missions requires a step of faith (to give to what you do not see!) and of Christian commitment. This aspect of commitment is also a challenge. To recognise that when a missionary goes to the field for three years they need their support monthly for those three years, even if the church decides that it needs a new building, or an extension, or that a local social project is important. Brazilian society is an “immediate” society and so often the “here and now” is seen as more important than the organising and maintenance of long term plans. There have been many Brazilian missionaries who have had to return from the field because their church has stopped supporting them. Every action has a reaction. Many pastors talk too much about money, especially pastors in the prosperity gospel, and those pastors who oppose it go to the other extreme and do not mention money at all. Unlike those churches that are getting rich by exploiting believers, often impoverished, others preach that we must give only our tithe, and no other contribution.

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3.1.4 The challenge of language Brazil is a country of vast territory (8,514,215.3 km2), with a single language spoken from North to South, East to West. It is true that the ability for language varies from person to person, often regardless of nationality. But generally speaking, we Brazilians do not naturally develop the skills necessary to learn a second or third language because we definitely do not need to speak another language here – with the exception of border towns where they also speak Spanish, and amongst the many native Indian tribes. So we need to learn English before being sent to the Arab world, since English is the lingua franca for communication in multinational teams and is the language often used to learn a third language (though there are ways to learn Arabic, for example, without the use of English). Going to the field needs to be postponed, sometimes one or two years, for the missionary to gain English proficiency. This has been a great challenge for us, including financially. But the picture is changing. With globalization, the new generation of Brazilians is increasingly prepared in English through using the Internet, listening to music, and travelling which is increasingly accessible and frequent. In addition, English has become a professional requirement for many settings, even in Brazil. It is interesting to note how the young have more English, while older folk need to learn it. We believe that this need for English language learning will not be such a difficulty for us in a few years time. In our agency, we encourage candidates to learn English in Brazil as much as possible (there are suitable courses and some emersion courses available). We also encourage the idea of a short period of emersion (3-6 months), in an English speaking country when necessary, but ONLY when they already have a placement on the field. And then come the Arabic and other languages. We have accepted the orientation of the field in terms of learning this third
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language and encourage study in the receiving country once the partner has arrived. It takes two more years, at least. 3.2 Strengths 3.2.1 Cultural adaptability This year I attended a training session on how to lead multicultural teams. We were a group of different nationalities and I was the only Brazilian. It was very interesting that in the dynamics, the group came to the conclusion that the Brazilian was “the ideal guy” to work in multicultural teams. Why? According to Comparing cultures - Five dimensions of Geert Hofstede,4 the five cultural dimensions are: 1 Power Distance: the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations in a society expect and accept that the power is distributed unequally. In some societies the fact that some have authority and power is accepted as normal, in other societies this is not accepted. (PDI = Power distance index). 2 Individualism: people look after themselves and their immediate family only; Collectivism: people belong to ingroups (families, clans, organisations) who look after them, expecting loyalty (IDV = Individualism). 3 Masculinity: the dominant values in society are achievement and success; Femininity: the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life (MAS = Masculinity). 4 Uncertainty Avoidance: the extent to which people feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity and try to avoid these situations (UAI = Uncertainty avoidance).

Commentaries based on presentation of Martin Kurani, Comparing culturesFive dimensions of Geert Hofstede. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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5 Time orientation: some societies plan for the future, have a forward looking attitude; others are more concerned about the immediate and do not plan for the future to the same extent (LTI = Long Term). According to the research of Hofstede, Brazil receives average values (never one extreme or another) for all indexes of the different cultural dimensions. For example, in the cultural dimension “power distance”, Brazil is not as strong as Malaysia (PDI = 104, of which some features are: parents, teachers, leaders respected and obeyed; special privileges & status symbols; centralization; obedience expected), nor as weak as New Zealand (PDI = 22, whrtr some features are: parents, teachers, leaders treated as equals; rejects status symbols; decentralization; initiative expected). The indexes are shown in the table below. COUNTRIES/ REGION Malaysia Arab world India Brazil South Korea USA Canada Netherlands Australia UK New Zealand IDEX DIMENSION DISTRIBUTION PDI IDV MAS UAI LTI 104 80 77 69 60 40 39 38 36 35 22 26 38 48 38 18 91 80 80 90 89 79 50 53 56 49 39 62 52 14 61 66 58 36 68 40 76 85 46 48 53 51 35 49

61 65 75 29 23 44 31 25 30

Table I - Five dimensions of Geert Hofstede in eleven cultures

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Another interesting factor to observe in Hofstede’s research is the cultural proximity between Brazil and the Arab world. The indexes are very close to each other, especially in the dimension of “individualism”, where both receive the same score (IDV = 38). This means that both societies are more collective than individualistic. Low individualism is characterized by: “We” identity, interdependence, loyalty, indirect communication; honour and shame. And high individualism, a characteristic of countries such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and others, is characterized by “I” identity, self-sufficiency, independence, individual “rights”; valuing honesty and directness; guilt. And this is exactly what we observe in Brazilian culture. In general, Brazilians are very relational. They like to make new friends, visit and receive visits, attend social events, meet with friends, eat together with others, “chat” and so on. Furthermore, although it is difficult to evaluate our own culture, it is clear that our communication is often indirect, and we are a culture of honour and shame. This is a dimension that brings us closer to the Arab culture. Butler states that:
Brazilians are relational, gregarious people who generally have much more in common culturally with the unreached peoples of the world than do the traditional sending nations from North America and Europe.5

But, unfortunately, a strength can become a weakness. Precisely this collectivist dimension of the Brazilian can become a risk to the success of his ministry in the Arab world. This happens when the Brazilian missionaries join others, meet others and end up forming a “clique” within the multicultural mission team. ForJason Butler on www.web.me.com/mordomo/Mordomos/Blog/Entries/2009/1/25_Gooooooooooo oool!_Braziiiil!.html St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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eigners often comment that “the Brazilians always go in packs”. It takes great inner discipline to resist the natural cultural tendency to always be together with other Brazilians, so that we can work effectively in a unit with colleagues of other nationalities. It would be interesting to promote research and further discussion on these dimensions of Hofstede, specifically comparing the Arab culture with the Brazilian culture and others, and watch bridges of contact between the two cultures. 3.2.2 Political neutrality Compared with other nations, Brazil is seen as politically neutral. In general, there are no major restrictions on entry visas for Brazilians in most countries. Under the current government, Brazil has expanded its borders, so that many countries in the Arab world now do not even require a tourist visa for Brazilians. So much so that theft of Brazilian passports for illegal sale has become common. Brazil was a colony like most Arab countries. So it is not seen as colonial or “imperialist”, as is the case of other countries. Neither does it carry the label of exploitation, “savage capitalism” on the one hand, nor communist ideals on the other. As an emerging country, once again, Brazil is in between. In the words of the North American, Butler, “Brazil is traditionally a neutral country and has caused very little offense around the globe (no one burns the Brazilian flag in the streets!)”.6 This openness should not cause any kind of vanity in the Brazilian missionary. We all know that this is a current situation. Things can change and the doors can close. As one of our leaders in missions in Brazil says, “this is a wide open door for us today. If we do not go through it, we may lose the opportunity.”

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3.2.3 Skills in sports and recreation Among the many possible professional opportunities, sports and recreation areas are a big plus for Brazilians – especially football. There are dozens of Brazilian professionals involved in football in several countries, including the Arab world, working as players, coaches, trainers, teachers of soccer schools for children and young people, referees etc. It is not without reason that this area has been exploited by some mission agencies, from Brazil, and needs to be further explored. Football opens doors. The first words that an Arab says when he sees a Brazilian are: “Ronaldo”, “Kaka”, “Pele” (for older folk), “football”, “samba” and “Carnival”. I would not say that all these words have a “noble” aspect, but this surely paves the way to start a dialogue. Immediately there is a friendly smile and an opportunity to talk, even if it is by hand signals. In addition to football, Brazilians can serve in the areas of recreation and leisure. These are areas that may be useful in community centres, refugee centres, rehabilitation centres, along with other community development activities. 3.2.4 Preparation There is no excuse to send unprepared missionaries to the field today. The Brazilian has numerous opportunities to prepare very well to serve in the Arab world. The areas in which he/she can get a good education are: a) Spiritual: Usually every Brazilian believer is involved in a local church. Here of course he/she prepares spiritually and for ministery. Most churches have opportunities for lay participation, such as activities in evangelism, discipleship, teaching, ministry to the needy, musical activities etc. It is very common for a member of the church to have more than one activity or ministerial responsibility. This usually begins early in adolescence. Thus, in general the Brazilian missionary who goes to the Arab world has plenty of
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ministry experience, is aware of his/her gifts and is ready to serve with dedication. b) Mission: Today there are many good mission preparation schools in Brazil, and other opportunities to prepare. Agencies that require good missionary preparation can send their candidates with security and peace. Years ago we depended on foreign missionaries to teach missions. That has changed, because we now have experienced returning missionaries teaching in our schools, alongside national and international professors. Unless the applicant chooses to study abroad, to have a cross-cultural experience as they prepare, there is no need to leave Brazil to receive a good training in mission. c) Professional: We can say the same for professional training. There are good schools, colleges and universities in Brazil that produce professional quality. The Brazilian diploma is as competitive as others in the world market in terms of Professional preparation.

4 Conclusion
“The traveller learns while walking.” We are learning. Love for the Arab world has grown more and more among us. Our hearts burn for God and his Holy Gospel. We want to contribute with unity and humility, side by side with other colleagues from various countries, for a consistent Christian witness and impact in the Arab world - for the glory of God and the expansion of his kingdom here on earth. May the Lord bless us. Translated by Jan Greenwood

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RECRUITMENT OF CHRISTIAN WORKERS FOR THE ARAB WORLD: AN AUSTRALIAN PERSPECTIVE
BY DAVID WRIGHT1

1 Introduction
Mobilising Christian workers for ministry in the Middle East has long had its challenges. Since global dependency on oil, the formation of Israel, and the Islamization of the Arab World became major features of the geo-political landscape, the Middle East has tended to polarize people’s opinions, usually towards the negative. These factors, along with significant changes in the ecclesiological and missiological practices of the Western evangelical church in the same timeframe have impacted interest in serving Christ in the Middle East. This paper explores some of the issues, both external and internal, that currently affect the success of mobilizing workers for the Middle East and suggests some ways that these can be overcome.

2 Security fears
Security fears often present very quickly when discussing service in the Middle East with people. Western media coverage of the region is dominated by war, terrorism, general acts of violence (e.g. honour killings or inter-religious hostilities), political and social instability, and sometimes even major transport accidents. Background briefings on these stories are rare, even less the larger historical, political or social context. Without deliberate private research, a perspective on the significance of these incidents and to what extent they effect everyday life is impossible. Many people’s
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entire knowledge of the Middle East has been learned through the media, based on an assumption that the Western media is objective and as comprehensive as is necessary. Media organization jingles such as “the most comprehensive coverage” and “…reporting from an Australian point of view” convince many that their knowledge and outlook gained through these sources alone is sufficient. Of course, some people do research further and have a deeper intellectual understanding of the broader issues. However, it is still difficult to get a true picture of everyday life and the environment for ministry without hearing from people who have been and lived there, or by personal experience. With many Western countries also directly affected by Muslim terrorism, or at least threatened by it, security fears relating to Arabs are further strengthened. In some countries, Arab Muslims have increasingly tended to group in neighbourhoods, distancing themselves from their host societies. While this is somewhat related to a desire to practice their faith and lifestyle without the perceived corruptions of the West, it has also been shown that their failure to integrate correlates in no small part to the willingness of their host societies to actively relate to them. Unwillingness to interact is, in part, connected with fear of terrorism and, in some places in Australia, threats of violence from gangs of disaffected Muslim youths. The nature of ‘threat’ is that only a very small number of people are able to create widespread fear. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for isolated acts of violence to be regarded as indicative of Muslim culture. Furthermore, some outspoken Christian leaders generate fear of growing Muslim influence in the social and political life of the country and propose confrontation as the solution rather than dialogue, informed debate, or showing the ‘way of love’. While security concerns negatively impact those who might otherwise feel drawn to serve in the Middle East, they often affect their families even more. Responsibility to family is one of the greatest issues facing those who feel called to overseas service
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generally and, in our increasingly risk-averse Western societies, fears relating to safety are often the most significant component. Extended family members are likely to have a less informed perspective on life in the region than a missionary candidate, and every stage of life provides arguments against service over responsibility to family. For Christian families, even Biblical justifications can be found to strengthen these points of view.

3 Ignorance about Arab Churches
Widespread ignorance about Christians in the Middle East deeply affects interest in serving there. Many people are quite unaware of the church there; its achievements and struggles, its strengths and its weakness, its potential and its needs. This is probably due to many factors, such as overlooking the historic church by some contemporary evangelical denominations, lack of general knowledge about Middle Eastern society, an assumption that all Arabs are Muslim, the distance from the Middle East especially from the Americas and Australia, and a pre-occupation with matters closer to home.

4 Focus on ministry at home
This focus on ministry at home is an important aspect of attempts to mobilize Christians for ministry in the Middle East and indeed other regions. Many church pastors struggle with declining church attendances and the marginalisation of Christianity in Western societies. The belief that “there is too much to be done here” is widespread and has some validity. Further support for this idea is provided by increasing migration of Muslims to Western countries, bringing them to our doorsteps without us having to venture overseas. However, neither the Biblical theology of mission nor statistics can allow this to stand. Most Western countries have many thousands of Christian workers, both professional and volunteer,
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and huge sums are found to spend on buildings, equipment and salaries. At the same time, ministry to the Middle East suffers from miniscule funding and support by comparison. Also tempting church leaders to favour support for work at home is the fear of losing gifted people from their congregations to overseas ministry. In addition, emerging missiological ideas gaining currency in the evangelical community further militate against overseas service, especially in the Middle East where colonial histories have been regretful and where fruit is not clearly apparent. Theories such as those opposing the sending of missionaries in favour of money as more efficient and respectful of receiving cultures, those which reject cross-cultural missionary endeavor as colonialism by another name, or those which support efforts only in regions where fruit is highly visible and dramatic (thus ‘validating’ God’s will that work should focus there) undermine the model of service many agencies are committed to.

5 Dispensationalism
In some denominations, especially those which adhere to dispensationalism, strong support for Israel as God’s chosen people with a central role to play in the eschatological out-working comes at the cost of ignoring gospel imperatives for Arabs and support for Middle Eastern Christians. At the other end, it also seems that the relativism now standard in secular ideology is quietly emerging in Christian conviction if not stated doctrine.

6 Postmodernism
An increasing belief that Christians don’t have the right to influence other religions or cultures and that the claims of the gospel are not exclusive dilutes confidence in the missionary enterprise to faraway places. Church ministers are arguably the most influential people in the lives and beliefs of their congregations. However,
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they are faced with the huge challenges described above, some of which they are unprepared for due in part to disappearing crosscultural missiology courses from their training programs.

7 Ideas for mobilisation
In light of the above challenges, we can no longer assume that people mobilized and ready for service will be delivered to sending agencies. While many provide some basic preparation training (mostly specific to their agency), most have historically seen themselves largely as selection and placement organisations, having outsourced mobilisation to churches and their leaders and predeparture preparation to Bible colleges. However, church ministers no longer universally support or understand cross-cultural mission, and the availability of quality career missions training courses is decreasing, at least in Australia. 7.1 Influence Church leaders I believe some mission agencies will need to increasingly participate in all aspects of the mobilisation process if they are to grow. Firstly, we will need to focus more attention on influencing church ministers and leaders. One possibility is to operate pastors’ tours of the Middle East where they can experience the Arab church themselves and interact with its leaders. Being the birthplace of Christianity, the Middle East offers other attractions to ministers and church leaders. 7.2 Serve the Church Secondly, we have found success by offering to serve their church in some way. Some ministers do have a nascent interest in crosscultural service but lack the expertise, knowledge, contacts or confidence to give it a higher profile in their church. Coordinating a weekend missions program with live Skype hook-ups to workers in the Middle East or running programmes such as Kairos or PerspecSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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tives for church members are some ways to envision and equip church members. 7.3 Stories Thirdly, stories of work in the Middle East must be shared. This is a particular challenge for a region where security issues need to be taken into account. However, for the current and emerging generations, the power of stories to motivate is well recognized so we need to find ways to obtain and deliver them to the Christian public without compromising security. 7.4 Creative information flow Fourthly, information flow about opportunities to serve in the region needs to be creative and well-organised. For a region that is distant and mysterious to many, agencies need to provide this information to encourage people to see specific ways in which they can serve. 7.5 Short-term placements Finally, short term individual or team placements in the Middle East must remain a vibrant part of the overall mobilisation process. All of the above suggestions require dynamic cooperation between the recruiting and receiving fields, and for some aspects, personnel dedicated specifically to recruitment activities.

8 Training
Along with greater involvement in the mobilisation process, agencies dedicated to long-term ministry will need to increase their participation in the training and preparation process to overcome some of the challenges outlined previously. Effective Christian ministry in the Middle East requires a long-term outlook in an age of decreasing commitment and ill-defined allegiances. Engendering this long-term commitment to the Middle East, to the agency, and to
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the integral mission approach cannot, I believe, be mostly outsourced. Following on from the suggestions above to mobilise, engendering long term commitment will need deeper engagement and commitment on the agency’s part. This may mean the exploration of mentoring and internships, possibly through deliberately structuring short-term programs to build long-term workers who can truly transform lives and communities. Quality education and publicity material aimed at mobilisation and placement in the Middle East is desperately needed. With the high level of misinformation and ignorance already described above, up-to-date material in all formats would provide products all people in the mobilisation process could use.

9 Role of long-term missionaries
We will also need to consider ways in which long term workers can better promote the region while on home assignments. Current workers are our best assets for raising the profile of the Middle East, educating the public, correcting the misinformation about the region and mobilising people for service. They need to be wellequipped and resourced if we are to benefit from its full potential. Some agencies create teams of workers gifted in education and promotion who tour sending countries sharing the needs. Can we learn from this? Coordinating and resourcing tours by Arab leaders gifted in communicating to Western audiences may also reap great benefits.

10 Prayer
It probably goes without saying that the Middle East needs prayer! Mobilising people to pray needs to be a core task at all levels. Providing prayer resources is central to effectiveness and this could be done at two levels: ongoing or longer term prayer needs and urgent, immediate ones. Apart from our monthly prayer bulletin, we
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have begun an email group for urgent needs and are about to trial an SMS version. In a world of instant communication, such technologies lend themselves well as prayer resources and motivators. Furthermore, gathering people to pray seems to be increasingly difficult and at first blush this may seem lamentable. However, there is good evidence that messages sent through instant message technology (email, SMS, instant messaging) are immediately read and acted upon, providing much wider involvement than gatherings have in the past. The Middle East has enjoyed widespread involvement in programs such as Pray Through the Arab Peninsula and 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus which have provided general prayer resources. However, individual agencies and projects need to disseminate specific material on a regular basis in order for specific prayers to be answered and so that those praying feel connected with everyday needs. This can only be done through agency-specific coordination. Interest in service in the Middle East has clearly suffered for many years, largely because the region is misunderstood, especially in some sending countries. From my observation, interest in particular fields of service also seems to follow trends in sending countries over time, sadly tracking tourist trends. One of the reasons for this is that the tourism simply makes the needs better known. We need to do everything we can to make specific needs in the Middle East well known while at the same time encouraging the Christian public to focus its resources on the most needy; not the most trendy, nor the most accessible, nor even the most seemingly fruitful.

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MOBILISING HUMAN CAPITAL FOR BUSINESS-AS-MISSION IN THE ARAB WORLD
BY PETER SHAUKAT1

1 A call to Business-as-Mission (BAM)
Several years ago, on one of my first trips to Brazil, I was taken by co-workers to a football match at one of the world’s largest arenas, the Estadie Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro. Words cannot describe the experience of what was then approximately two hundred thousand Brazilian fans partying for three hours before the match. There was incessant drumming, flag-waving (a flag the size of a large room is beginning to become a serious flag in Brazil!), and cheering on their respective favourites to victory during the match. This was followed by celebratory partying for two hours after the match, no matter what the outcome, all without hooliganism of any kind – unbelievable! While there, drinking it all in with astonishment, in the midst of the din, God spoke to me in a “still, small voice”, with a question. “If you could ask any brasileiro in this stadium where they would prefer to be – in the stands cheering on the players in the game, or down on the pitch directly participating in the game, manoeuvring, kicking and passing the ball, making tackles, scoring goals, what
Peter Shaukat was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. A graduate in Chemical Engineering, he also holds a diploma in Professional Studies in Education, and an MBA. Peter has lived and worked in a cross-cultural missional capacity throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and North America for over 30 years. He is the founder and CEO of a global investment fund with a portfolio of business-as-mission initiatives across the Arab world and Asia. His company is engaged extensively in consulting with a variety of mission organisations seeking to engage in business-as-mission around the world.
1

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would any self-respecting person say?” Of course, the answer is: “To get in the game!” “This,” the Lord continued to speak to my heart, “is what I am doing through the business-as-mission movement, and this is what I want you to be involved in; giving business men and women the opportunity to move from the sidelines of global mission down onto the field itself. In my sovereignty I am moving business people from supporting the cause with their money and prayer, to directly engaging with the cause, using their whole being – skills, talents, experience, gifts, time, money and lives – to extend the Kingdom directly through their practice of business.” Needless to say, I have never forgotten that experience, and it remains my passion to practice business-as-mission personally and to do everything I can to see business practitioners mobilized into business-as-mission, especially in the Arab world. Indeed, this exists as one of the great opportunities and challenges for the Church. That is the thrust and theme of this short article.

2 An apologetic for Business-as-Mission
We need to begin by recognising a problem. The church has often been suspicious of profit-making business. For example, from a geo-political perspective, it is common for Christians to react against past colonialism which was often combined in an unholy alliance with mission activity assisted by commerce. More recently, Christians have watched in dismay at the exploitation of the poor by unethical multinational corporations, concerned at the apparent failure of globalisation to equitably deliver on its promises. Still more immediately, as in the current period of global economic crisis, business is seen as inherently flawed, untrustworthy, abusive, and the cause of all that has gone wrong. Unfortunately this negative attitude, while to some extent justifiable, is often naïve and even hypocritical, and more importantly overlooks the fact that there are literally thousands of excellent,
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ethically-run businesses led by serious, trustworthy and competent women and men, to the great benefit of millions of people. Business can and should be ethical and, indeed, demonstrate the truth of Christianity in genuine love of God and neighbour. A related problem is derived from the church’s attitude towards those, particularly Christians, who are called into business. It is not at all unusual, in any country of the world, to see business men and women viewed with misunderstanding, jealousy, ambivalence, utilitarian pragmatism, and even outright hostility – by their brothers and sisters in Christ! They may be valued for the money they bring into the coffers of the church and mission agencies, yet remain largely unappreciated and without affirmation for the work they do. To be fair, Christians involved in business have often been central to the very problem they lament, and must share the blame for their contribution to the problem. Willing disengagement, lack of accountability, intimidated complicity in unethical practices, and a host of other temptations or failings have widened the gap and heightened the tensions. Fundamentally, we take the character of God Himself as an important theological basis for business-as-mission. His divine attributes of creativity, sustaining all He makes, His kindness and justice are all replicated by His sons and daughters as they engage in business done His way. The three-fold mandate, to continue as stewards of creation, to love our neighbour, and to make disciples of all nations serves as an underlying missiological imperative to use all means possible – including business – to demonstrate and proclaim the wholistic, comprehensive, transformational “shalom” message of His Kingdom, centred in Jesus Christ. There is in fact a remarkable assembly of business-as-mission practitioners throughout history, both in scripture, and in the annals of church history. The mobilising, sustaining, transformational work of God in and through these real-life models is a strong affirmation of the role business has in His missional, Kingdom purSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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poses. It is easy to forget that Abraham – most often recalled and studied as the father of our faith – was in his day a highly successful entrepreneur, with a huge ranching business and other associated commercial activities. Lydia deserves high commendation for her early response to the message of the gospel in Philippi, but this can sometimes obscure the fact that she was a highly regarded trader in the textile industry. The couple beloved by Paul, Priscilla and Aquila, had their vital role in the establishment of the early church enhanced and to some extent even made possible by their commercial activity as tent manufacturers (I wonder, were they expensive, high-altitude camping gear, humanitarian refugee shelters, or multi-coloured wedding tents?!) Nestorians, Moravians and many other examples simply continued the biblical legacy in new and creative ways – and bring us to the present day. Turning to the specific region of the world which is the focus of this publication, and this particular article, the Arab world in profoundly important ways demands an intentional, pro-active Christian engagement in business-as-mission. The Economist, in a recent special report on the region (July 23, 2009) asked the question: “What ails the Arabs?” It cited a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report on the state of the Arab world. “It makes depressing reading,” says the magazine. “Despite their oil, the UN reports that about two out of five people in the Arab world live on $2 or less a day. And they [the governments of the region] are about to fail their young people. The UNDP reckons the Arab world must create 50m new jobs by 2020 to accommodate a growing, youthful workforce—virtually impossible on present trends.” In one way or another, across the twenty-two countries of the Arab world, the crisis is real; it is economic, political, and spiritual. Astonishing prosperity is juxtaposed with abysmal poverty. And even where physical prosperity is apparent (refraining, with difficulty, from comment on its sustainability), it is only a thin veneer over underlying spiritual emptiness.
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In summary, the character of God, the missiological mandate broadly understood, and the present crisis in the region all add up to an inescapable imperative to engage in business-as-mission as a key strategy of the 21st century.

3 What and who are we looking for?
The title of this article may be jarring; indeed, the very expression “human capital” may be offensive to some. I use it intentionally, even provocatively perhaps, since it is the language of business – and make no mistake, when business and mission come together to converse, you will have cross-cultural communication at work, with all its challenges, misunderstandings, oddities and outcomes. More gently, I do mean people, real men and women, made in the image of God, who are the single most important element of business-as-mission. (As an aside, people – this “human capital” – represent only one of what I believe are perhaps seven forms of “capital”, or resources, needed to engage in business effectively, but that’s a discussion more suited to another time and context.) What we are exploring, therefore, is how to mobilise these men and women to do business, intentionally, in the Arab world, for the greater glory of God. To begin with, it is a common mistake to assume we are talking only about that special breed of character, the “entrepreneur”: the one who is specially gifted and equipped to start something from nothing more than an idea, using the resources God has left lying around the playground of His creation. In the normal population such people are perhaps one in a hundred. No doubt, we are in great need of them. But there is another whole segment of the population who are gifted, not as entrepreneurs or business creators, but as business builders, with skills, talents and experience to come alongside the entrepreneur and help develop a sustainable enterprise. Neither imaging themselves, nor being suited as the ones to start a business, they are salesmen, managers, accountants, human resource specialists, technical specialists, and
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others, without which a business cannot thrive. For every one entrepreneur, we should probably expect that at least ten such business professionals will be needed over a period of time to establish a sustainable business. This may be a good time to define the context in which I am using the term “business-as-mission”, and business-as-mission practitioners (henceforth, BAM, and BAMers, for short, respectively). By BAM I mean real, commercial business, which seeks to be profitable and sustainable, having an intentional transformational impact economically, socially, spiritually and environmentally, for the greater glory of God and the extension of His Kingdom. It is not driven fundamentally by a strategic method of accessing a “closed” country, nor by its potential for alternative means of financial support, nor by a focus on the business-generated profit to support other mission endeavours – all potentially worthy elements of BAM, but not the white-hot core that will sustain the integrity, credibility and impact we desire. Similarly, by BAMer I mean an individual who, typically, is in an ownership, management, decision-making, pace-setting leadership role in such an intentionally Kingdom-focused enterprise. We therefore distinguish between those involved in BAM and the equally important and worthy (and broader) marketplace ministry context with its rugged commercial character, and the (broader still) tentmaking ministry context in which, whether for profit or not, the professional identity of the practitioner is their dominant public identity among those they are seeking to love and reach with the gospel of Christ. It needs to be taken as a given, therefore, that an unwavering commitment to, and verifiable competency in and for the business context, should characterise those we mobilise into BAM. This is not as easy to determine, as it is to state! It is certainly not guaranteed by having a business school degree per se. Many of the world’s most effective business people have limited formal education. Rarely, if at all, is any business person alwas successful, so past failures should not bar the door to their being considered for
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BAM in the Arab world. Special consideration needs to be given in situations where individuals have practised their profession in a non-commercial context (e.g. in a community development project, or as a teacher, etc.) and for various reasons are considering commercialising their project and skills. Room must always be given to God to surprise us as He equips His people for what He gives them to do. What needs to be guarded against is wishful thinking and clutching at straws simply to obtain or maintain a presence in the country of presumed calling. One way to do this is to insist on the patient and deliberate development of a business plan and allowing this, and the prospective BAMer, to be assessed by another party with trusted business experience and relevant cross-cultural awareness. Having attempted to establish the underlying imperative and motivation for BAM, followed by some definition which might help to bring clarity to the question as to who exactly it is we are looking for, I will turn to a number of practical issues that need to be addressed if we are to be successful in mobilising such people into the harvest fields of the Arab world.

4 Engaging the whole church in mobilisation
To being with, in practical terms, it is unlikely that local congregations on their own will have the capacity, competency, or consistency to see the great missiological challenges of the Arab world, including in the BAM sphere, through to completion. The notion that the church in this narrow, localised sense is God’s chosen (i.e. sufficient) instrument for the evangelisation of the world is unsupportable, theologically, historically, or practically. On the other hand, the notion that the local church in any place has no responsibility, role or resources to contribute to the task is equally flawed. From its founding at Pentecost, the church has, and will continue to send and support missioners for the sake of the Kingdom. This raises the question of the place of the mission agency. As it is with
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expressions of “church” so it is with “missions”. They too are undergoing profound, vitally necessary changes, and are emerging in forms and in places that would have been unimagined even a few years ago, sometimes with potentially fatal flaws, more often with phenomenal potency. Their contribution to the task remains critically important. In particular, many agencies are wrestling with the issues of business, and BAM in a sort of “should-we-shouldn’twe, can-we-can’t-we?” internal struggle. And when the answers to these struggles are in the affirmative, it only then raises an abundance of questions having to do with the “how” and “what” their contribution should be. For mission agencies to effectively participate in the mobilisation of BAMers, significant ethos, policy and structural issues will need to be addressed. Nevertheless, mission agencies are a rich resource of expertise, experience and energy dedicated to the task, and will be left out of the mix only at the great expense of all. Facilitating Christians in business to engage in business as a missional calling is therefore part of God’s plan for global mission today. It will require the engagement of the whole church – thought of in its broadest terms – to make it happen. The call to extend the Kingdom of God – both in reach and depth – is incumbent upon us all and constitutes our core identity. To the extent that the business world is a critical part of human society, the local congregation, mission agency, and businesses need a strategy to engage; otherwise they may miss out on a huge part of what they are called to be. These strategies will be different because capacities and callings are different. Without a plan, gifted business people will be left sitting on the sidelines. On the other hand, we must avoid over-reach, expressed in statements such as: “BAM is the strategy for the 21st century.” BAM is “a” strategy, indeed a key strategy, but it is only one of many.

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5 Essential characteristics of BAM practitioners
What are some of the most important, recognisable characteristics in the life of a BAMer, by which our criteria for mobilisation, recruitment, selection and placement should be established? I would argue that the answer to this question is to be found in the Biblical text itself, in the non-theoretical stories of the lives recorded there and who incarnated BAM. Put simply, three things stand out. First, commercial success, with integrity, is a stated goal of genuine BAMers; we must be who we say we are in the eyes of those we aim to reach – our business initiatives, as with our hospitals, schools, or any other endeavour, must pass a basic “smell test” of credibility. Second, genuine BAMers recognise, and model the need for mobility, risk-taking, and commitment to make their business succeed; indeed, business people are not unlike the traditional nomadic Bedouin, who move as necessary in search of water and pasture – in the case of a business, it is to move (whether geographically or in other ways) in pursuit of markets. And third, BAMers serve the purposes of God’s Kingdom through consistent demonstration and proclamation, and participate in nurturing people and communities in the faith. Assuming that what we have in mind is primarily, at least at the present time in the Arab world, and for readers of this publication, the mobilisation of global Christians from a variety of international settings, cross-cultural considerations must figure prominently in our mobilisation activities. Mission is a cross-cultural mandate, calling and exercise. BAM is not just about doing business successfully in a limited commercial or economic sense. Nor is it about doing mission in a narrow or culturally paternalistic manner. Good BAM requires a breadth of awareness, sensitivity and capacity to engage with the nations with theological and missiological excellence. It is also thoughtfully contextualised, in ways similar or dissimilar to other mission initiatives in a common geographical, religious and cultural domain. We therefore must ask: Is the
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BAMer appropriately equipped to engage effectively in crosscultural mission, using business as their chosen means of ministry? What degree of competence in language and expertise with the religious context is appropriate? How do the policies, practices and productivity of the business reflect an informed, sensitive and effective engagement with the beliefs, cultural norms and underlying worldview of the community in which it operates? How does the BAMer seek to integrate his/her business ministry with other ministry initiatives in the community in which the company operates? How is the BAMer developing his/her missiological understanding and practice? Mission and ministry are communitarian. The fact, character and example of the Trinity demonstrate this for all eternity and model, without room for negotiation, how we must engage in missio Dei. BAMers do not work in isolation or with autonomy, but in collaboration with others in the Body of Christ, seeking the transformation of lives and communities through encounter with Jesus Christ. The problems they seek to address will have multidisciplinary solutions, grounded in God’s truth. In addition, they will be working together in environments with variable national Christian presence. The following questions may provide a useful framework for mobilising BAMers for ministry in this way: Have the BAMer’s objectives and strategy been shaped in a consultative manner with other colleagues, and are they compatible with and complementary to the strategy of others? How will the company and the BAMer relate to the local Christian community? How does the BAMer build, protect, use and contribute to the larger network of which s/he is a part? Years ago, when I was first embarking on my own “pilgrimage in mission”, and discovering for the first time how the euphoria of a vision comes crashing to earth when it encounters the reality of human nature, the deadening influences of culture, and intense spiritual opposition, a mission leader expressed to me that it was “a long way from the pamphlet to the plane”. To that wisdom, I have
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since added that of another colleague, who speaks of “a long, persistent road of obedience”. BAM is a demanding calling and should not be entered into lightly. It will attract opposition and the BAMer needs to be prepared. This implies that the personal life of the BAMer is of paramount importance. Ultimately, the most important asset for a BAM company is its spiritual resources, and it is critical that the BAMer keeps these in adequate supply. In this regard, questions such as the following need to be asked at the beginning of the journey into BAM and at way-stations along the missional road: Has the issue of motivation been thoroughly addressed? Does the BAMer demonstrate an appropriate commitment to accountability and mutual submission? How is the BAMer guarding his/her devotional life? Is the BAMer’s spouse (especially) on board? Is the BAMer’s character compatible with doing business well, cross-culturally? Is the BAMer healthy wholistically? How is the BAMer appropriately balancing the various spheres of life and ministry? BAM is a journey. The African proverb applies well to the best practice of BAM: “If you would travel fast, travel alone. But if you would travel far, travel with others.” This means that mentoring and the provision of pastoral care to the BAMer are essential for long term fruitfulness. Any attempt to mobilise human capital into BAM in the Arab world must take into serious consideration this important issue, and the relevant questions which might arise. For example, does the business have access to effective mentoring, particularly with regard to the commercial challenges it might face, and does it demonstrate responsiveness to that mentoring input? Does the BAMer have access to effective mentoring in regards to his/her missional and personal growth and does s/he demonstrate responsiveness to that mentoring input? Is the pastoral and logistical support for the BAMer appropriate (informed, comprehensive and relevant, timely and sufficient)? How is the BAMer taking responsibility for his/her own care? Does the
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BAMer have appropriate relationships with the local church – both in the home country, and in the country of missional adoption?

6 Conclusion: Embracing the risk
Like all things good and worthwhile, embarking on business-asmission is a risk. And because people are involved, this risk will have personal dimensions at every stage. It is worth remembering that doing nothing at all also is risky. The Chinese saying: “What you cannot avoid, welcome!” is worth taking to heart. But most of all, remembering the risk God has taken, and continues to take with each of us, might be a consolation and encouragement to step forward boldly in this important calling.

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ISSUES SURROUNDING THE RECRUITMENT AND PLACEMENT OF TENTMAKERS IN THE GULF
BY DR. TAYLOR GRAEME SMYTHE

1 Three cross-cultural workers in the Arabian Gulf
Hong Chien is an Asian American banker. Active in the missions program in his church in Singapore, over the years he has sensed an increasing burden for training Asian cross-cultural workers to reach Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula (AP). This call has been confirmed by his local church and leadership. They chose to go through a sending agency that had a long history of doing wholistic (integral) missions in the AP. Hong Chien and his wife enrolled for language studies for one year which required raising financial support. After the first year, he started working for a local AP investment firm which provides the majority of his living expenses. His wife continues to have a private tutor for Arabic language acquisition. They have regular ministry among local majority faith people, and are also equipping other Asian expatriate to minister cross-culturally. In the church that Hong Chien regularly attends, the pastor regularly preaches on God's love for the nations, and the need for church members to make the most of interaction with nonbelievers in their workplace and neighborhoods. Barry who is from Africa and also in the finance field goes to this same church. Barry and his wife grew up in Christian families, and took the job in the AP because of the increased career prospects. Within the first two months of their arrival, they found themselves and their children making friends with nationals and other expatriates from the majority faith background. Although they wanted to be able to minister effectively cross-culturally, they felt under-equipped to respond with understanding when discussing faith issues with their
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new-found friends. They were heartened when they heard their church was offering the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Winter et al, see Bibliography) and later Encountering the World of Islam (Swartley, see Bibliography) courses. They enrolled for both courses which instilled in them a clear biblical vision for cross-cultural missions to the least reached peoples. They realized that God had sovereignly placed them through their job placement in the AP to reach some of the least reached. Increasingly, they felt God calling them to be part of the effort to mobilize expatriate Christians in the AP to be strategic and intentional in their outreach. They are making plans to cut back on their work commitments in order to devote an increasing proportion of their time to bring cross-cultural training to professionals in their city (Smythe et al, see Bibliography). Patrick is a third culture adult whose parents were cross-cultural workers and tentmakers in Asia. Patrick took a promotion through his multinational company to the same AP city as Hong Chien and Barry. Patrick has immersed himself in the study of the local language and culture as he interacts with many locals including members of the ruling family. Because his parents were trying to reach a similar religious group, Patrick has a good grasp of the theology of and Christian apologetics relating to the majority faith. He feels very much at home in faith discussions with colleagues from work. He often has parties in his home where he invites friends and colleagues from work as well as members from his church who have a heart for cross-cultural outreach. His workplace provides opportunities to talk about how his Christian faith informs his business decisions and management style and approach. He is looking for ways to have more intentional conversations with his friends on issues of faith both in one-on-one situations, as well as in group situations perhaps through forums or management training seminars. After reading these real stories of three different paths to cross cultural service in one location, one could ask who is/are the “proSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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totype” tentmaker? These scenarios are repeated with some minor variations over and over again in the Gulf countries of the Arabian Peninsula (the author's experience includes GCC countries and not Yemen). How does this affect recruiting and placing cross-cultural workers in such environments, and how do we ensure that they are having fruitful and productive ministries?

2 Definitions
For the sake of clarity and to avoid misunderstanding and misapplication, for our discussion, we will accept the following definitions, based on Interserve’s approach: Wholistic ministry: is intentionally bearing witness to the whole character of God and His might acts of redemption through proclamation, service, and fellowship. Tentmaking: is engaging intentionally in wholistic ministry in a cross-cultural context by using professional skills that are the practitioner's primary identity. Marketplace ministry: is using professional skills of tentmaking in primarily commercial context, in contrast to the not-forprofit sector. Business as mission (BAM): is marketplace ministry that harnesses the potential of business for intentional mission impact with a view to profitability and sustainability. In the Gulf region, access depends on work visas. Although Christians can enter on pastor and clergy visas, the vast majority of Christian intentional workers would be tentmakers, in the marketplace, or doing BAM. For the purpose of this discussion, we would consider Christians who come in on pastors’ and clergy visas as “tentmakers” working in a church setting or religious domain. In our definition, these workers have their primary work
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identity in their “job” and would be using a job merely as a “platform” or to gain access and visas, using “shell” companies without real “products.” In Scripture tentmaking could be seen as a spectrum. Paul would be an example in one extreme, as he did so as a temporary assignment possibly for strategic purposes, and probably part time (as opposed to his primary calling and identity as Apostle, church planter and evangelist). Paul's life is characterize by a distinct call and setting apart to minister to Gentiles (Acts 13). Some would refer to this end of the spectrum as an Apostolic or Strategic tentmaker, but we will use the term “specialist” tentmaker as one called to a specific task or people group, or location. Paul's ministry is characterized by a distinct call, unifying purpose, and focused pursuit of a vision and charge (Acts 26:19). The end of the spectrum would be exemplified by Aquilla and Priscilla who as far as we know always operated a tentmaking business wherever they went but were gifted partners in ministry. Some of the characteristics of their tentmaking ministry included a work identity, ability to teach and correct, and using their resources for the building up of the local church (Acts 18, Romans 16:3). We will refer to this type as Tentmaker “not otherwise specified” (NOS). We have chosen the term “specialist” and NOS, with the hope that the former term does not carry a sense of superiority (that perhaps the terms Apostolic or Strategic or Focused or Intentional would connote), but rather point out that there are real differences in terms of gifting and specific calling. We will explore issues that surround the placement specifically of the category of wholistic tentmakers (which includes marketplace ministry and BAM) without further delving into the specifics of the subcategories of marketplace workers and BAM.

3 Recruiting of tentmakers to cross-cultural mission
From these two broad categories of tentmakers (the Specialist and NOS), there would be differing needs in terms of placement and
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engaging in fruitful ministry. In most cases, placement in the Gulf generally is not recruiting in the traditional sense of finding specific called people to fill specific strategic jobs, but more typically involves placement into marketplace positions. We would like to propose that the two-fold task for sending agencies then is, a) the placement of Specialists in locations and in jobs where they can fulfill their calling, and b) the engagement and resourcing of tentmaker NOS for effective and fruitful ministry. We will look in more detail at issues related to calling, funding, and ministry support of tentmakers.

4 Calling
4.1 Relevance Most traditional missionaries and tentmakers go through a “typical” journey in which a specific call to a people group or location is identified. The biblical basis for calling in missions is typically the example of the Antioch church in Acts 13 where the church sets aside and releases (under the direction of the Holy Spirit) Barnabas and Paul for a specific task. In this framework the Holy Spirit, the local church, and the missionaries are the three requisite agents in the sending model. So in addition to what would be understood as a general command and call of God throughout Scripture to bless the nations, and in the Great Commissions to preach, teach, and make disciples of the nations with a geographical strategy in Acts 1:8, the majority of missionaries today would be able to identify a specific call. The presence of a call is often the anchor that keeps one engaged in the task and persevering in misisons in the face of opposition and inevitable difficulties. The Apostle Paul refers to being obedient to the heavenly vision as a life unifying pursuit and theme in Acts 26.

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4.2 Timing and sequence of call in temporal relation to job placement But is a specific call to a people, or a place, or a task required for placement of a tentmaker? Does it make a difference? Does the sequence of calling and placement make a difference? Our experience and the examples listed above would say that tentmakers may come to a “specific” calling by many different ways and paths, some before placement, others after job placement. Those whose “call” come after job placement, frequently may not seek a formal affiliation with a sending agency. 4.3 Call and priorities For those who do not have a specific call, it has been our experience placement would be heavily weighted toward job prospects rather than ministry and Kingdom expansion prospects. Rather than seek to stay in a region for maximum ministry impact, with moving as the last resort, the decisions would tend toward taking the best available job without regard for location, and to “go with the flow” for ministry opportunities. For ministry in the Gulf region (not unlike other settings), longevity is definitely an asset, required to build trust and to open doors. Those who do not have a specific call to a people group or location often will typically choose to go where their jobs lead, and “bloom” where their job “plants” them. There is nothing “wrong” with this type of path, although it would lead potentially to a tendency to think of missions and tentmaking as a series of short-term assignments or possibly a career interlude. 4.4 Calling and outcomes Does calling affect outcome/impact? In Scripture we certainly see examples of God accomplishing His purposes through various agents, even those who may not be intentional or hostile to HimSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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self, and sometimes through events that seem to be completely random. The authors are unaware of any empirical information that would allow one to answer this question, and perhaps this could be the focus of future study and missiological research

5 Funding
Closely related to the calling issue is often the issue of funding. As it relates to job placement, in broad categories, tentmakers may find themselves with job offers that provide adequate versus inadequate financial support for them and their families. This is assuming that the job environment, conditions, and demands allow us to engage in wholistic tentmaking ministry. We will not further delve into the issue of work conditions, hours and such, but limit our discussion to the financial area. In addition, one can further subdivide into two subgroups jobs that provide sufficient/adequate versus insufficient/inadequate funds, based on whether the “job placement” is an “upward” or “downward” placement. An “upward” placement (UP) would be a career enhancement and promotion; a “downward” placement (DP) would be the opposite. Thus intuitively we can encounter four possible categories depending on whether a tentmaker chooses an UP or DP and whether the placement provides sufficient financial support or additional support raising is required. Experientially we see these categories of tentmakers in our setting, and are unaware of research data to look at the demographics and do additional study of these categories. We submit that each funding category of tentmaker presents unique challenges in placement and sorting out the interplay of calling and best job placement. 5.1 UP—sufficient funds For this tentmaker, placement is often not a problem. From a purely job placement standpoint it is a natural progression. UsuSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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ally the issue is sorting out the root motivation and calling. Perhaps the more difficult issue is that one's identity as a called Specialist tentmaker could be in question. To the average believer or Church Mission Committee member, they cannot understand what is so special or strategic about this type of position. Although we do not have empirical data, this category may represent the largest majority of Mission-minded Christians in the Gulf who would identify themselves as or aspire to be tentmakers, and possibly have no sending agency affiliation. They see sending agencies primarily providing value as a funding mechanism which is not a need for them. Specialist tentmakers may also find themselves in this group, and their affiliation with a sending agency would be driven by factors other than funding needs. 5.2 UP—insufficient funds The job placement would be an increase in responsibility, and depending on the home country of the individual could even mean an increase in pay. But the package is insufficient to provide for living expenses. These could be tentmakers who come from resource poor countries, or to jobs that are in low paying domains in the country of service. Specialist tentmakers may find themselves in this category where additional funds need to be raised to facilitate placement, which would need to be deemed of a strategic nature. These tentmakers would look to sending agencies for funding support, but also for support to achieve their strategic ministry goals. 5.3 DP—sufficient funds This category of tentmaker could include people who want to take a smaller job or a slower pace, but may also include those who want to have a strategic presence and are willing to “downsize” for the sake of Kingdom priorities. They may receive a smaller salary than job offers in other locations, or even similar jobs in other domains, but choose to be DP for strategic Kingdom reasons. In
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many ways their needs would be similar to those in the category of UP with sufficient funds. 5.4 DP—insufficient funds Usually people who voluntarily choose this type of job placement do so as Specialist tentmakers who would make this type of voluntary downward career choice and live in a setting to maximize their Kingdom effectiveness. Unless forced to do so, this is not a natural career progression for most people. Affiliation with a sending agency often is a necessity for funding reasons. Usually it is not difficult to communicate the reasons and strategic nature of this type of placement to supporters. Obviously these categories are not static, especially for those with specific ministry callings. Similar to the Apostle Paul, one could transition from having sufficient resources to insufficient resources during a lifetime of service (Philippians 4). There were times when Paul saw fit to accept financial support, and other times where he worked hard and he and his team provided their own financial support. Flexibility on the part of sending agencies in regards to funding policies to accommodate the changing financial needs of tentmakers would be important from a recruitment/entry as well as long term retention standpoint. Also, it is important for agencies and sending churches as well as tentmakers to communicate clearly when choices of strategic Kingdom nature are being made, as this is not a framework through which everyone filters job placement.

6 Support
Finally in the area of support of tentmakers, agencies are aware that in addition to serving as a funding mechanism, tentmakers are looking increasingly to what value-added dimension there is in their relation and affiliation with agencies. For NOS tentmakers who come with job placement and not necessarily a specific call,
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this may be the first point of discussion on affiliation with an agency, i.e., “What do you provide as an agency as I do not need to raise financial support.” We offer some of the following areas for consideration. 6.1 Assist tentmakers to process their calling and vocational identity issues The “journey” and process of tentmakers to effective ministry is different from that of “traditional” missionaries. As we noted from our three examples at the outset of the article, each story is unique in its presentation and yet there are some common themes and issues that all tentmakers have to deal with and process. Not all local churches and their missions committees have the capacity or resources to understand the needs and help map out the pathway for tentmakers to discover their God given calling. Sending agencies that have strong tentmaking ethos and cultures can be resources for churches and individuals on this pathway to cross-cultural service. For most Specialist tentmakers, part of the process of being called involves counting the cost of following Christ in missions. This may include adjustment in expectations from work identity, and grieving over real sacrifices to be made in light of career choices. Much of this is normal and an expected process as one follows Christ in incarnational ministry, personalizing the gospel dynamic of being poured out for others’ benefit (Phil 2:17) or becoming poor so others may become rich (2 Cor 8:9). 6.2 Teaming around specific calling and focused ministry Whether one senses a specific call to a people group, a country location, church planting, wholistic ministry or diaspora ministry, there can be a sense of isolation if there are no others who share in that call, ministry or location. Although there are many examples of “solo” practitioners who accomplished “great things” in missions, working in teams and partnership with other believers is the
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norm in the New Testament and should be the goal on the field. The specific “team” needs of tentmakers has been outlined recently in a paper by Jones et al. to "create” the nidus for teams to achieve “critical mass” in terms of numbers and team member gifting. Networking sufficient numbers of practitioners in a given domain or with a specific calling into Communities of Practice (CoP) is another potential contribution that agencies can make. These CoPs would serve as a foundational resource for networking and support, experiential learning and sharing of knowledge, with the goal of collaborative activities/affiliations/partnerships, determining best practices, and incorporating and training of new and next generation practitioners. Even in a globalized, networked and connected world, churches and individuals cannot go it alone on the tentmaking journey. The “last mile” (or inches?) of the tentmaking placement journey typically requires organizations with peoplepresence and first-hand knowledge on the “ground”/on location, where trust and relationships are forged and true partnering can result. 6.3 Accountability toward fruitful ministry and effectiveness One of the criticisms of tentmakers, especially those who have sufficient funding from their employment, is the lack of accountability and “lone ranger” or a “go it alone” mentality. As there are no “controls” from the funding side, there can also be the temptation to do as one pleases and be unaccountable in ministry pursuits. Sending agencies are probably best positioned to engage with tentmakers in discussion of these types of issues. Having conversations about ministry goals and aspirations, how to develop appropriate ministry plans and to set up accountability mechanisms to monitor progress would be natural outgrowths of these tentmakeragency relationships. In the Gulf, plans are in place for a formal mentoring program that would facilitate fruitful ministry growth for tentmakers. For this effort, templates to understand knowledge base, competencies, and ministry skills will be needed. Also, goals
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that account for and measure spiritual formation, ministry processes and ministry goals will need to be articulated. 6.4 Specific expertise in cross-cultural interaction and capacity Agencies are best positioned to leverage their understanding of cross-cultural issues and organizational DNA, and apply them to the tentmaking team context. This can range from member care to team issues, especially when one places tentmakers into multicultural teams.

7 Conclusions
By some estimates, there are upwards of 3-4 million Christians living in the Arabian Peninsula. Of these a small proportion have come to the Gulf with specific intention of ministering crossculturally as tentmakers. In addition, others (undoubtedly a larger proportion) come with job placements then catch a vision of what God is doing, and want to participate effectively. Sending agencies are in a unique position to meet the different needs of tentmakers, ranging from processing and discerning the call, vocational identity issues, strategic placement, and ensuring ongoing ministry effectiveness. Our goal is to develop Christ-following, cross-cultural tentmakers who are lifelong learners in community, fulfilling their calling, impacting their world and discipling the nations.

Bibliography
Jones, J. and Ikram, ‘Circles & Cycles: Letters to a Stressed Community’, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 44:4 (October 2008) Smythe T.G. et al., ‘In situ Mobilization of Christians and International City Churches for Cross Cultural Ministry in the 10/40

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Window’ in St Francis Magazine, 5:5 (February 2009), see www.stfrancismagazine.info Swartley, K., Encountering the World of Islam (Authentic, 2005) Winter, RD et al., Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader (William Carey Library, 2009)

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SECURITY AND SAFETY ISSUES IN MISSION IN THE ARAB WORLD
BY TAYLOR GRAEME SMYTHE, PHD, PRISCA SMYTHE, MD, JACOB VOLPE

1 Introduction
In a recent seminary convocation, the ministerial students were challenged to live dangerously and to be dangerous people for the sake of the Gospel. The challenge to future pastors, and missionaries was to step outside of one's zone of comfort and safety, and to count the cost of discipleship in following Christ even if that led us to dangerous places and situations. For disciplers of believers with a Muslim background (BMBs) this is not a theoretical issue, but one that involves many facets, affecting both discipler and discipled.

2 Definition of terms
In order to more precisely examine the issues involved perhaps a definition of terms is in order. Safety: Refers to freedom and/or protection from physical, social, emotional and psychological harm. This is in contrast to the more specific terms of “safe people” and “safe places” which primarily refer to people or environments that provide emotional safety or comfort. In the context of reaching Muslims, “safe places” may refer to events and settings that Muslims would willingly attend, with low cultural barriers to their attendance, where they could come into contact with the gospel and followers of Christ. For a Muslim, going to a desert cookout with non-Muslims would be a “safe place”, but generally a Western-style church service or Bible Study would not be a “safe place.”
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Security: Generally refers to a hidden true identity that is kept secret, and which offers safety and protection for the individual. When this true identity has been revealed, the physical presence (that is, their visa) and personal safety of the missional worker or BMB is put at risk. For the intentional missional worker in a restricted-access nation, this would generally involve a breach in which a hidden agency/organizational identity was revealed. Likewise, for a BMB, a breach would be one who has openly been identified as a Christ-follower either intentionally or unintentionally, that places the BMB in danger. In both cases, there is an assumption that secrecy of identity provides a certain level of security from those who may not be sympathetic to the Gospel. By using the term “security” we are not referring to theological issues relating to perseverance of the saints. Risk: Refers to actions taken that have probability of leading to beneficial or adverse outcomes. In this definition, although we do not further define assessment and management of risk, based on probability of outcomes one can determine that some actions are worth engaging in risk, whereas others are not. Bad examples of risk often are based on faulty ministry models, and lack of crosscultural understanding, and may include: • • Saying culturally crass and insensitive things Soap-box open air evangelism in closed countries, and/or public distribution of proselytizing materials without prior relational presence and follow-up intentions Openly and publicly attacking the Quran, the Prophet, or the local rulers or culture Simply acting rudely and disrespectfully of local customs

• •

Whether one has goals and outcomes that are focused on making disciples or planting churches, there is a real difference between taking calculated risks versus being careless in our approach and methods.
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3 Cultural Factors in addressing Security and Risk
Potentially, cultural and regional differences in how we understand safety, security, and risk may complicate our analysis of specific situations in BMB discipleship. Some of these differences reflect our socioeconomic understanding and expectations of what is a minimal level of physical and emotional need for us to function. For example, missional workers from different countries may have varying expectations of what basic minimal living standards are, such as children’s educational options and issues revolving around families (such as separation from spouse, caring for parents, and balancing grandparents’ expectations). In some cultures, insurance coverage and retirement funds are an expected part of managing risk and preparing for the future; other cultures do not place as high a value on future planning but tend to live more in the present. Some are more risk averse than others, and these may not always be culture specific, but reflect individuals’ tolerance for risk. In some emerging mission movements, martyrdom is seen as an oft used strategy by God to advance His work, and their workers have an expectation that a high percentage of them may face this. Although not necessarily packing their earthly goods in coffins as did workers of an older generation, workers from these emerging movements may still go to the field with “one-way” tickets—there is no alternate “Plan B.” In contrast, other agencies may have detailed policies on evacuation of workers and/or specialized training in handling hostage situations to prepare them for worst case scenarios. There probably is a spectrum of attitudes in regards to risk taking; on one end those who do not shy away from but perhaps even actively seek danger, and on the other end those for whom danger is acceptable as a potential natural consequence of being faithful and obedient to the Name of Jesus Christ. Workers from certain countries may have a larger capacity to tolerate lack of comfort and security, and this can be instructive to other believers where there is a higher expected baseline level of entitlement to
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certain comforts in life. As many of the issues and values that relate to risk assessment are not universal, biblical Christians can have differing expectations, and therefore different conclusions on benefit to risk ratio and what one readily gives up in following Christ and carrying one's cross. Maturity and grace are needed, and legalism and judgmental attitudes need to be avoided in multicultural and multinational teams, churches and organizations; individual conscience needs to be the guide where there may be variance in understanding and application of biblical principles, differing assumptions and values in accepting and embracing of risks, and diverging strategies and approaches in dealing with specific scenarios and situations.

4 Biblical precedents and Safety Issues
In addition to pragmatic reasons based on insider movements and strategies of contextualized Church planting, one could interpret and apply certain passages of Scripture to encourage or at least permit followers of Jesus to temporarily hide their true identity. Some examples: • • Nicodemus coming secretly at night to meet with Jesus in the Gospel of John (chapter 3) Esther who was told by her cousin Mordecai to keep her Jewish identity secret until an appropriate God-ordained time (Esther 4) Naaman in 2 Kings 5 who asked to be forgiven in advance by the prophet for continuing to go to the pagan temple with his king Ben-Hadad. Naaman is further cited as a positive example of genuine faith by Jesus in Luke 4.

Based on these examples, can we draw the conclusion that BMBs can hide their identity as secret believers, taking this as a providential way in which God sometimes chooses to protect one of His own?
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Many disciplers of BMBs would accept secrecy as a transitional phase or “season” in the BMB's journey. Rarely would one affirm that this is a normative or acceptable end state in BMB discipleship. Missional workers themselves sometimes have to deal with the issue of dual identity (one public, one secret) when mission agency affiliation or the true purpose of their presence cannot be openly discussed or revealed. 4.1 Counting the cost Most BMBs realize the cost of open identification as a follower of Jesus Christ. The loss of community, job and livelihood, family or possibility of marriage is real. The prospect of being without a replacement community of faith to join can also make it unlikely that the new openly-identified BMB is able to be part of an Insider Movement. There is a difference between BMBs who chooses to remain secretive about their identity out of fear, and those who do so in hopes of reaching others like themselves. 4.2 Strategic reasons for hiding one's identity. In addition to the above example of secret believers, there are other passages in Scripture that seem to indicate there are times to be bold, and other times to be quiet. The Apostle Paul’s bold and itinerant activity among the Greeks, many of whom were ready soil, was different from God's instruction to Israelites exiled in Babylon where they were instructed to settle down (although not with hidden identity), seek the welfare of their pagan captors and peace of their city. Apparently seeking safety, Paul left Damascus in a basket let down over the city wall; however, he immediately set forth to Jerusalem, not exactly a safe haven for the Apostle. Jesus often gave indirect answers when the religious leaders sought to trap him with their questions, because His time to suffer had not come.

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5 Biblical teaching that suffering for Christ is normative Several texts in the New Testament clearly instruct Christians to expect suffering as a result of their faith. The following passage in Hebrews 10 talks about how Christians in the early Church endured suffering and loss, but stood firm and persevered to the end in faith.
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Heb 10:32-39, ESV)

In Mark 8:38, after Peter's confession of Christ, Jesus states:
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

From these verses, it is abundantly clear that secrecy for fear of suffering and shame of being associated with Christ is not consistent with saving genuine faith. In the discipleship of BMBs this cost is high and the probability of suffering is real when their identities are revealed. Disciplers of BMBs must also remember that there is always a disproportionate level of suffering versus risk, usually with the most severe consequences suffered by the BMB and other nationals, rather than the expatriate worker/discipler.

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6 Secrecy and approaches to discipleship Some suggested strategies in BMB discipleship in light of security and safety issues include: • Teach all of Scripture, including clear teaching on the need to be open about one's identity. It is worthy to suffer for the sake of God and His Kingdom. Eternal Life is worth the potential cost, and one should “not just fear the one who can destroy the body”. (Matt 10:28). • The discipler must also model willingness to suffer for following Jesus Christ. Even though the consequences may not be as severe for a foreign worker compared to a BMB, the example set in the discipler's life is important as these truths cannot only be taught as propositional truths. • Clearly teach biblical wisdom that encompasses all of Scripture including wisdom from Proverbs on relating to others; and biblical commands regarding godliness, fruit of the Spirit, loving one's enemies, standards for husbands, wives, parents, children, employers, employees etc, so that BMBs are encouraged to live winsome and quiet lives, and that any suffering is for the sake of righteousness and the Gospel, and not for bad behavior (1 Peter 2). • Allow the Holy Spirit to convict BMBs of the timing of when to reveal their identity as followers of Jesus, and assure them that He will give them the appropriate words in the face of trial. Many BMBs in the course of discipleship, become personally convinced and convicted by their study of Scripture to make public their faith and allegiance. Often this is a journey, and there may be years between when BMBs decide to follow Jesus and when they are able to make it unequivocally clear to their families and the larger community. The BMB has to come to this decision under his/her own free will, as forcing this issue can lead to feelings of manipulation. This is especially true when the discipler of the BMB is an expat from a Christian
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background. In most settings where there is a breach of security, the degree of suffering for the expat Christian and the local BMB is apt to be disproportionate; the expat Christian often loses the residency visa, but the local BMB would face loss of job, family, and/or life, or perhaps must be extracted. 7 Conclusion We have sought to look at issues surrounding safety and security that are common in missionary work in an Islamic context. We believe that Scripture on the whole teaches that mature discipleship requires counting the cost and taking up the cross to follow Jesus, regardless of consequences. Suffering is normative and an expected part of being a disciple of Christ. In addressing whether there are times a new believer should remain secret and silent about his/her identity, motivation is a key issue. Some questions in closing that may be useful in assessing specific situations include • • • Is the person motivated by “strategic silence” vs. fear? Is the BMB tempted or put in a position where he or she is asked to deny Christ? Is the fear of physical threat (pain, plundering, death) the result of lack of faith and trust in God’s promises and His ability to deliver? Are we encouraging the development of faith that may begin the size of a mustard seed, but grows to provide the basis of victory over fear?

Each BMB’s situation will likely be unique and one needs to approach these situations with much prayer and wisdom, and seek counsel among the community of believers and workers where possible. Finally, in light of a potentially diverse spectrum of views and scriptural contexts, there will be the need to extend grace to one another (workers and believers), while encouraging one another to live by faith and obedience to God's word.
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WHY RECRUITING MISSION WORKERS FOR THE ARAB WORLD IS HARD WORK
BY TANAS AL-QASSIS1

1 Hostility
September 11, the Danish Cartoons saga, Islamic Fundamentalism on the march: in the popular imagination all these are the result of instability in the Middle East. In the past the call to mission fell on deaf or unwilling ears for the usual reasons - apathy or sheer hardness of heart. Now I sense many Christians have a changed attitude. It's no longer apathy but ignorance, hatred and even a wish for revenge that's standing in the way of people responding to the call of God to be missionaries in the Middle East. It seems that Christian world has become openly hostile to the Middle East and its people. "They deserve the bad things that are happening to them. Why should we care? They hate us so why should we help them?" If we read the story of Jonah we see how God’s viewpoint is very different. Jonah was asked to preach the gospel to his enemy. A Jew preaching to Gentiles! Unthinkable, and perhaps even dangerous! God knew how Jonah felt. He knew his fears. Even so his call was clear and unmistakable: "Go to Nineveh." I am convinced that the same considerations apply today. The Middle East presents us with many complex problems. The Western world has been quick to label many of its peoples as 'enemies'. There's always the threat of danger. Even so, as in Jonah's day, God wants us to take the risk and step out of our comfort zones.

1

Tanas al-Qassis is the CMS director who oversees its work in the Arab World. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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2 What is need for the Arab World
CMS has worked in Islamic areas for nearly 200 years. Peter and Nancy Crooks, long-time CMS Mission Partners offer the following reflections:
1 THEOLOGY. It begins with being ‘sold out to Christ’. Then it needs to have a thoughtful and generous attitude. Too many wrongly informed Christians think Islam is entirely of the devil. In CMS experience the most effective missionaries to Muslims know how to find the common ground between their faith and Islam. 2 MATURITY. We were blessed with volunteers, young in age but mature in wisdom. They knew how to relate readily and responsibly to all sorts of people and had had some experience of work in a secular environment. It was also important that they knew how to respect other cultures. Occasionally Nancy and I wished some folk sent with Christian agencies had more experience of the ‘real world’ –ordinary life – before coming out hot from seminary or Bible colleges. They struggled even to relate to expatriate non-Christians and some thought they shouldn’t be relating to them at all. 3 PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE – The most ‘credible’ mission partners seem for the most part to be those with professional skills, needed and appreciated, in the country to which they go. 4 STICKABILITY – Favor and opportunity come to those ready to be more than Christian tourists, those committed to giving several years to an assignment. We also found that the locals appreciated being asked for their view of working situations and even more so when it was demonstrated that their opinions/views were valued by foreigners.

Another retired mission partner from the Middle East wrote to me saying:

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My general feeling is that most of us relate to the Arab world through a number of different layers of narrative and perceptions - political, historical, relational, moral, and cultural, and that by and large there are not many of these layers that are positive at the moment. For instance, generally, mission-minded communities hear stories of Africa and Asia most frequently and they will feel that they can relate to them. They will meet Christian people from those continents most frequently, and they will relate relatively easily to their general cultural values of music, language, and shared history that come from many of the places in these regions. In contrast to that, the perceived cultural values coming from the Arab world are generally seen to be more difficult to relate to, in terms of music, language, ideology, culture, history, politics, and predominance of Islam and its difficulties with Western values, etc. Contacts between persons from that part of the world are also generally less frequent, and the stories from those regions are far more inaccessible, behind doors of secrecy and generalities. Finally, I think there could be real uncertainty as to how mission as it is often understood here might fit in within the existing structures of the receiving communities of that region, and this tends to make for doubt as to whether it is actually possible.

3 Conclusion
To conclude, I believe unless people who are called to mission are ready to carry their cross and follow Jesus, they will find it very hard to even want to be in the Middle East. Mission in the Middle East is not about talking, preaching, or giving bibles: it is about living the bible every day, being a light to others, walking the talk, and most of all being prayer warriors.

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SPEAKING THE TRUTH ABOUT INSIDER MOVEMENTS ADDRESSING THE CRITICISMS OF BILL NIKIDES AND ‘PHIL’ 1 RELATIVE TO THE ARTICLE ‘INSIDE WHAT?’
BY KEVIN HIGGINS

1 Introduction
The August 2009 edition of St. Francis Magazine was devoted to a number of papers focused on varying aspects of the “insider movement” discussion. I was given the opportunity to write as a proponent of such movements, and two authors (Bill Nikides, and “Phil”)2 were asked to respond to my article. In this edition of the magazine, I have been given the opportunity to reply. I have selected my title as an intentional reference to a verse from Ephesians in which the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “speak the truth in love”. In addition to framing my own prayer and preparation for this paper, I select this verse as a plea to all those engaged in the current and ongoing discussion of insider movements. That plea has two elements. First, it is a plea for truth. It is vital in our discourse that we represent the positions of those who differ from us honestly and fairly.
1 Kevin Higgins, “Inside What?”, St. Francis Magazine, August 2009; in the same magazine, the responses by Mr. Nikides begin on page 92, and Phil’s on page 114. Unless otherwise noted all page numbers used in citing their articles will refer to the August 2009 edition of the St. Francis Magazine. 2 I think it is an important point that Phil does not give his last name, nor a specific country for his work. Presumably, and understandably, this would be for reasons of security. However, as careful as he may be for his own safety, I wish he would have exercised the same caution for the safety of others. This would be an example of the respect for others that I believe should inform our dialogue if we seek to speak the truth in love. Instead he cites by name a believer in one country, by full name a foreigner involved in work in the same place, the language group, a city name, and the name of an organization. See page 118 in the main text and also footnote 11.

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It is vital that we not misquote or misrepresent one another. It is imperative that we not paint over the positions presented in a particular individual’s work using color drawn from broad generalizations or our own pre-conceived notions of what someone’s position might be. Second, it is a plea for mutual respect. This includes not only the tone of our writing and conversation, but also sensitivity to the safety and security of other ministries and individuals. So, in this paper I plan to speak the truth clearly, and in love. I hope I will succeed in the effort, and invite the reader to evaluate my work in accord with my own stated values and agenda, just presented.

2 Initial Comments and a Place to Start
Though the two responses to my paper raised a number of specific points that are worthy of comment, both authors also frequently seem to be addressing various positions they have gathered from generalizations, their own experiences, and in some cases authors that have no connection to insider movements or my article.3 It appears to me that to some extent both authors took this as a chance to critique various viewpoints which they have determined represent “insider proponents” at large, and subsequently they have read my article through that pre-determined lens. This will be a point to which I return several times in the course of this paper. In and of itself, addressing insider thinking in general and not just my article is not an inappropriate approach, though strictly speaking this would then imply that their articles are not responses to my article but rather to insider thinking at large. Also, if they are doing so it does not mean that Mr. Nikides and Phil do not raise
3 Mr. Nikides’ discussion of Brian McLaren is an example of my last point. Though I have neither read that author nor cite him Mr. Nikides uses an extended quotation from one of his books and then proceeds to disagree with it as if it represented my views. See page 95.

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important and valid questions, or that their concerns do not merit careful reply. It does, however, make it extremely difficult to respond in detail. Indeed, addressing in just one article two authors who have both widened their purview beyond the scope of just my paper renders my attempt to present a full discussion of their work simply impossible. I found myself wishing that I could simply respond “in line” by inserting comments within their articles. While such an approach would allow a detailed, point-by-point reply, the result would be far too long. Since it is impossible to respond to every point that Mr. Nikides and Phil raise, I have had to determine some criteria for deciding what I will address and what I can not. After considerable reflection I have narrowed my focus to what seem to be certain foundational questions. In fact, I will focus on just three issues, which I will outline below. I have used Mr. Nikides’ own assessment of what is foundational to my thinking as a starting point for this article, and the issues I will address find the roots of my answers imbedded in that foundation.

3 Definitions as Starting Points
Mr. Nikides suggests that it is my definition of insider movements which should be taken as the starting point for understanding my position. I agree with him. The definition to which he refers is the fruit of my thinking and reflection and as such now serves also as a launching point for discussion. On page 93 Mr. Nikides writes,
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.

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I begin by outlining the key points in that definition, and then proceed to compare those to the positions that Mr. Nikides and Phil accuse me of holding. Here, again, is my definition of insider movements, with the key phrases I will proceed to discuss underlined:
A growing number of families, individuals, clans, and/or friendshipwebs 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.4

There are several major themes addressed in that definition, and especially in the underlined sections. I will outline only three, selected because of the assertions made by Mr. Nikides and Phil. The two themes are: Individualism, and Pluralism, and the role and place of Scripture. The issue of pluralism is closely tied to assumptions that insider movements promote syncretism. In the interests of space I will allow my discussions of pluralism to suffice as a counter to the concerns raised about syncretism in insider movements. While much of my article will address ways in which my own thinking was misunderstood by my respondents, I will also seek to respond on behalf of other insider proponents as a whole. I have asked a number of insider proponents to review this piece and I am confident that what is said here represents the main thrust of insider thinking within the circle of missiologists and practitioners with whom I am in communication. I can not presume to speak on behalf of every person who claims the term “insider” for their ap4

See my article in St. Francis Magazine 2009, p. 75 and citations there. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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proach, nor indeed can I speak on behalf of every “inisder.” But what I present here has the approval of many of those who write on behalf of, and in support of, the insider paradigm.

4 Truth: Insider Proponents Do Not Advocate Individualistic Conversion Or Discipleship
The accusation of individualism is woven throughout not only the articles by Mr. Nikides and Phil but even in the opening remarks by the Editor, John Stringer. In his introduction to the issue he writes by way of framing the questions that the magazine seeks to raise about insider thinking:
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.5

When read in context, Mr. Stringer is paralleling insider movement thinking with this characterization of Christian faith as an individual choice. This theme continues, as this statement from Mr. Nikides makes clear:
It seems possible only if the definition of discipling is reduced to the private, interior life and some sort of generic external affability.6

He combines this with the idea that I have promoted a truncated discipleship void of concern for maturity (see the article by Mr. Nikides, page 93). The same criticism is leveled against Rick Brown. There is also an example from Phil who sums up what he considers to be representative of insider thinking, and assumes that this representation reflects my own view, though he does not cite my
5 6

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work to indicate where he feels I have stated this. In Phil’s words my position would be stated thus:
…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.7

This is not my position. Further, none of the insider proponents who interacted with me in preparing this paper hold to the view Phil describes as the insider viewpoint. Since Phil and Mr. Nikides are responding to my paper, I will proceed by comparing the quotes above to the key statements in my definition of insider movements:
…families, individuals, clans, and/or friendship-webs… …faithful disciples of Jesus… …discipleship will express itself in culturally appropriate communities of believers…

I must confess that when I read the characterizations of my thinking offered by Mr. Nikides and Phil, and compare those with what I have actually written, I find very little in common. Throughout my work I have argued for a strong affirmation of a biblical understanding of church. That position is not individualistic, or private, or minimalist. In another example, Nikides states on page 97, referring to me:
…he conceives of Church as essentially excluding baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

And on page 98,
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.
7

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This begs a number of questions about the nature of those sacraments, and proponents of a variety of missiological approaches would differ in this area. However, nowhere in any of my articles have I ever so much as hinted that baptism and the Lord’s Supper were not a part of life in an insider movement.8 In fact, in the country where I have been most involved, the insider movement that has emerged focuses very distinctly upon creating communities of believers who worship, share the sacraments, feed upon the Word, develop leaders with a biblically determined selection process, and multiply more disciples and more communities of believers. There are regular gatherings of leaders at various levels of the work, leaders who spend those gatherings in the ongoing study of the Scriptures. We have also incorporated study of the creedal developments and some of the confessions which have emerged in Church history.9 A crucial point often overlooked in the insider discussion is the fact that for insider proponents one of the most foundational principles is that insiders themselves can be taught by God through the
8 Interestingly, Mr Nikides’ argument regarding my view of sacraments is based on a link he makes with Donald McGavran, not a quote from my paper. He makes reference to my comment that churches might go through stages of development in a process of learning all that it means to be the church. That is a simple, descriptive fact to which I am sure any missionary with field experience in church planting would also bear witness. However, I do not thereby prescribe that churches should not practice the sacraments, nor should the fact that some churches do not do so be taken to imply that I do not see that as an incomplete stage in the process. 9 In an earlier article I referred to a tool we use in my organization for tracking the health of movements to Jesus. One measurement we use refers to the development of an ongoing process of biblical theology that includes the whole canon and also reference to the theological developments of the wider Body in history and in contemporary Christian movements. See Higgins, Kevin, ‘The Key To Insider Movements: The Devoteds’ of Acts’, in IJFM 21:4; Winter 2004, pp. 155 ff. I also address the connection to the wider Body of Christ in Higgins, Kevin, Acts 15 and Insider Movements Among Muslims: Questions, Process, and Conclusions, IJFM, 24:1, Spring 2007.

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Bible and be led by Him in their discipleship and life as a community of believers. In our case many of the practices I just described were in fact arrived at by the insiders themselves as they engaged the Bible. In one people group the first disciples discovered 1 Corinthians 11 on their own before our course of Bible study together brought us there. As a result I arrived for a study session one day and found them ready to share the Lord’s Supper, not because I or another missionary had introduced it (though we would have come to it in the course of working through the scriptures together) but they had found it themselves. The manner of keeping that action has changed since that first day, but I relate this to highlight a key point: the Bible in the hands of insiders is used of God to guide and teach His people. I trust God to use His Word to teach and correct His people. I will return to the features of Bible study and leadership development later when addressing the question about syncretism. For now I would like to simply highlight that the suggestion made by Mr. Stringer, Mr. Nikides, and Phil that I advocate an individualistic, anti-church viewpoint is entirely wide of the facts. Perhaps their perception in this regard is due to weaknesses in my writing. I hope this article can assist in clarifying things somewhat. Elsewhere my views of church are critiqued from another angle. Nikides, page 94, takes issue with the fact that I refer to the church as a social structure, assuming apparently that I think it to be no more than that.10 My description of the church as a spiritual reality seems appropriate here, from page 77 of my article. I would have

In fact, both Mr. Nikides and Phil seem very worried about the place that anthropology and the social sciences take in my thinking or in that of other insider proponents. Phil states that my entire conception is rooted in a man-centered reliance on such disciplines. This is another place in which I have trouble recognizing myself in the representations of my respondents. I do make reference to those disciplines. And I would assert we can learn much from them. But they sit beneath the authority of scripture. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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thought this statement to be more than sufficient in demonstrating that I do not see the church as a merely human social structure:
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.

I will add another quote from Phil at this stage, as it sheds further light on a misunderstanding about my thinking. On page 123 he states:
Higgins’ ‘salvation’ is individualized and privatized in the paradigm of modern anthropology and revivalistic evangelicalism.

I am sure that those who know me well would have a good laugh seeing me equated with “revivalistic evangelicalism.” I would simply ask the reader to compare the passage from my article, cited above, with the critiques put forth by Mr. Nikides and Phil. Setting the quotes from my article and Phil’s side by side would, I hope, help the reader see that my position has been misunderstood.11 Further, Phil’s argument that I do not have a concept of the visible church seems to paint my article with a brush he has dipped in paint from another bucket. On page 125 he writes:
How does one measure a ‘movement’ that is by definition unidentifiable? The answer is, of course, anecdotal evidence – which no-one
The same is true of Phil’s extended critique of my view of the Gospel. He argues that my position is minimalist, and reductionist, as well as individualistic. However the bulk of his evidence is drawn, not from my words directly, but from what he holds to be the position of insiders generally. In fact I find nothing where I differ from Phil in his descriptions of the Gospel as he outlines it in his article (except for his characterizations of what insiders think, which I would argue he has misread). St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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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…

I must ask where Phil finds these ideas in my article? In fact as Mr. Nikides affirms, I open my article with a definition of an insider movement, a definition which does not in any sense claim they are un-identifiable. More serious, Phil’s accusation that insider proponents are engaged in merely passing on anecdotal evidence to get money borders on slander. But my main point is that reference to church, visible church, is found in the bulk of my writing and Phil is not reacting to my thinking, but to his perception of insider movements here. On this point, although I have cited my own articles and thinking, no insider proponent of whom I am aware actually takes the positions that Mr. Nikides and Phil portray to be that of insider advocates. Insider proponents do not belittle the church, nor do we despise it or encourage others to do so (as suggested by Phil). However, it is very likely true that the concept of church in the thinking of Mr. Nikides and Phil may well be very different from my own. Indeed, this seems to be the key issue: insider proponents do believe in and promote the visible church, but it is clear that it is not the same idea of visible church as that held by Phil, and Mr. Nikides. Therefore I will restate what I believe. I believe in the visible church, that is, in a church made up of believers who meet and can be seen, touched, and heard. My definition refers to these as communities. The whole focus of the work I do and the training I have developed over the years is to see the extension and establishment of such communities of disciples, such churches. My view of insider movements is not inconsistent with the development of forms of church community and forms of church leadership that are biblical, and also fit the context of the culture.

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I do not see that the scriptures leave us with the ability to articulate a single polity or model of church that, once discerned, can be labeled ‘the’ only possible form that can be claimed to be biblical. There are biblical forms, plural, and there are certainly principles of community life, behaviors that are described, descriptions of what believers do when gathered as the church, and principles for the selection and training of leadership. Thus, the visible church and its visible forms are biblical concepts. Insider proponents believe in the visible church. This leads me to one final example of my thinking on church with which Mr. Nikides takes issue: the relationship of insider movements and the wider Body of Christ. Mr. Nikides critiques my description of one insider movement that reached out in fellowship to a denomination and was in turn given the right hand of fellowship. Though Mr. Nikides does not know any of the people involved he claims to know the motives and intentions of people. He also makes a number of assumptions about what was decided and why (see his description, p. 99ff.). Referring, for example, to the ordinations that had taken place within the insider movement and subsequently recognized by the denomination in question, Mr. Nikides states (page 100):
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.

There are two assertions in this passage. First, Mr. Nikides asserts that only the visible church can affirm a call. He faults the denomination’s recognition of the calling of these leaders because
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a call is not merely an internal thing but must be recognized by the visible church. The denomination is quite firmly a part of the visible church and thus I included this example in my article in the hopes that it might serve as an instance of a possible way forward in linking insider movements with the wider Body of Christ.12 For further discussion concerning insider movements and the wider Body I refer the reader to my IJFM article on Acts 15.13 The fact that a branch of the visible Body of Christ recognized what was taking place within the insider movement renders Mr. Nikides’ first assertion a moot point. The instance I cited was a case of one branch of the visible church recognizing another.14 In as much as the event itself was an expression of the visible church, and resulted from the fact that insiders themselves felt a desire to be connected in a meaningful way to the wider Body of Christ, I can only surmise that Mr. Nikides must be referring to a particular visible church or particular concept he holds regarding that church. His concern seems to be that these men did not link with the “right” part of the visible church. The second assertion made by Mr. Nikides is that the men ordained in this instance did not believe in a number of particular doctrinal statements, which are listed in the quote above. Let me set the record straight and offer a correction of Mr. Nikides’ inaccurate statements. The leaders ordained were men who have been involved in the work and known to me for an extended time, some
This action was in keeping with my earlier point about the initiative being taken by insiders themselves as they wrestle with scripture and what it means to follow the Lord as disciples; in this case the desire to link in this way to the Body was initiated by the insiders themselves. 13 Higgins, Kevin, Acts 15 and Insider Movements Among Muslims: Questions, Process, and Conclusions, IJFM, 24:1, Spring 2007. 14 I have come to the opinion that the difficulty for both Phil and Mr. Nikides relative to my view of the church could possibly be rooted in their own denominational convictions. It would be worth a further conversation to evaluate that thesis further. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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as long as 15 years. Their views of Jesus’ death, resurrection, return, and divine nature are fully based upon biblical teaching and do not reflect the characterization of Islamic faith as outlined in Mr. Nikides’ article. The above discussion also seems to indicate that my respondents assume that I do not see any theological differences between Islam and biblical faith. In fact I frequently argued otherwise, and also tied my discussions of identity to statements that should make it clear that I see biblical truth as the standard for faith, worldview, life, and practice.15 This topic begins to touch upon the next theme.

5 Truth: Insider Proponents Do Not Promote Or Accommodate Pluralism
I begin again by citing from my definition of insider movements, in keeping with the agreement Mr. Nikides and I share that this be seen as foundational for understanding my thinking. Here are the appropriate phrases for this section:
…believers who will also continue to live within as much of their culture, including the religious life of the culture, as is biblically faithful.

Although the phrase just cited is brief, the key term for me is “biblically faithful.” By that my intention was for the definition to articulate that the rule of faith and life is the canon of scripture, the
15 My discussion of identity in IJFM, though admittedly presenting a controversial view of dual identity, is very clear that worldview, understanding of the nature of God, understanding of Islam, and understanding of the place of the “books” all come under the authority of the Bible as the interpretive key and measure of truth. As such, the worldview of a Muslim who follows Jesus under the authority of the Bible will have his or her prior views of Islam, mankind,and God, and many other topics transformed by the Bible. See Higgins, Kevin, ‘Identity, Integrity, and Insider Movements: A brief Paper Inspired by Timothy C. Tennent’s Critique of C5 Thinking’, in IJFM (23:6, Fall 2006).

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Bible. I have sought to found all of my thinking on this basis. I will return later to what that means for me in practice. For now, let me turn to the claim that I espouse pluralism. Mr. Nikides, seeking to summarize his characterization of the insider view, summarizes his evaluation of my position as follows:
Sin and truth exist in every religion, so all religions must be of roughly the same value.” (page 94).

In context, Mr. Nikides suggests this is my view. He also suggests that I dismiss any idea that the Christian faith is exclusively true (see page 102). Elsewhere, Mr. Nikides writes (page 11):
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?

I will clarify what I mean by the fact that the Gospel is unique but that God uses many things to bring people to Himself with reference to Matthew 2. The Magi are lead truly and accurately by a star that they interpret and discover within the framework of their pagan astrological religion. However, apart from the additional light of the scriptures they would not have had the specific guidance to look in Bethlehem. The star is certainly used by God in this process of bringing the Magi to Jesus. But that obvious fact does nothing to diminish the necessity of the revealed scriptures, the uniqueness of the Gospel, or the utter centrality of Jesus Himself, in all the fullness of the biblical revelation relating to Him. I and my fellow insider proponents all agree with this. The revelation of God through the Scriptures, and the uniqueness of the Gospel, in no way preclude the fact that He uses many things to bring people to Himself.

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The fact that Mr. Nikides finds in my thinking evidence of pluralism is another example in which I have difficulty recognizing myself as I am portrayed in the words of my respondents. I see in this instance an example of something to which I alluded earlier. There are instances in this discussion in which the respondents seem to be reading me through a set of preconceived lenses. In this case, they seem to have assumed that I, and other insider proponents, advocate pluralism. I ask the reader to examine my work for themselves and assess whether this is true. In addition, I would offer an example indicating that not all readers find indications of pluralism in my work. Joseph Howard has carefully read all of my published articles, and some of my unpublished work, as well as the growing body of literature on insider movements. He has come to an entirely different conclusion from that of Phil and Mr. Nikides. It is important to note that Howard, like Nikides and Phil, does not agree with the insider approach. Indeed all three differ profoundly with the theological and biblical arguments insider proponents such as I put forth. At the same time, after reading my work, he concludes that I and most other insider proponents belong in the exclusivist camp, theologically.16 This suggests to me that Phil and Mr. Nikides find pluralism in my work because they thought they would find it before they read what I actually wrote. They do this, it seems to me, because they have a pre-conceived idea of what insider proponents think. To be as clear as I can be, I will restate this point. Insider proponents do not promote or accommodate pluralism.

16 I am referring to unpublished doctoral research by Joseph Howard, and specifically a paper he has written entitled, “An Examination of Three Critical Soteriological Issues Raised By The ‘Insider Movement’”. Though unpublished, I would be happy to put readers in touch with Mr. Howard should they so desire.

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6 Truth: Insider Proponents Do Not Promote Or Encourage The Misuse of Scripture
I have stated that for me the key plank in my definition of insider movements and the avoidance of pluralism and syncretism is that I presume such movements will be governed by biblical faithfulness. However, Mr. Nikides in particular has taken issue with my use of scripture on at least two fronts. First, Mr. Nikides states that he feels my way of handling the scriptures is defective. Second, he makes a much broader accusation about the way that insider proponents go about the task of bible translation. On this latter point, Phil agrees with Mr. Nikides. I will begin by addressing the critique of my own use of scripture. Mr. Nikides states that I rely too much on the narrative sections and not on the didactic material and that I do not adequately make room for the traditional teaching of the church through history in interpreting scripture. On page 102 Mr. Nikides makes his statement that I have relied on narrative texts and not didactic passages. In fact I have referenced Paul’s letters in my article and elsewhere. Further, I make use of the sermon in Acts 17 which is, though set within a narrative text, a clearly didactic piece. His assertion then is not exactly accurate. There is an aspect to Mr. Nikides’ critique that touches on what I see to be a more important issue. I am referring to his apparent assumption that within the canon we should give narrative passages a lesser place of importance. However, by far the greater preponderance of the canon consists precisely in narrative. The Gospels are entirely narrative, with the exception of the teaching of Jesus, of course. Narrative would thus seem to factor heavily in God’s method and message of revelation. Mr. Nikides’ position that the didactic passages are to be given preference is one possible interpretive principle. But it is a principle arrived at prior to coming to the text, and as such shapes one’s
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reading. This is not to say that interpretive principles are not important to discuss, and Mr. Nikides and I certainly seem to differ in our principles of approaching the text. However, addressing those principles would take us back to an examination of our prior assumptions. I want to emphasize here that I strongly affirm that the Bible is to be the supreme authority for faith and life. Further discussion about how to use the canon is in order, but beyond the scope of what can be accomplished in this paper.17 As for the contention that I do not make enough room for the traditions as developed in the church, I addressed this to some extent above. In my work we do introduce leaders to the major creedal statements and some of the main confessional statements of the historic church (including the fathers and material from the several reformation movements). My published work has largely focused on seeking to make a simple point relative to the comparative place of scripture and tradition relative to each other: scripture must always be seen as primary. However, there is great value in studying the traditions as well. Several of the insider proponents who reviewed this article encouraged me to state clearly their affirmations of the creeds of the church. Rick Brown (who has been cited by Mr. Nikides in particular in ways that misrepresent his thinking) is a particular case in point. At the same time, I have had the impression that critics of insider movements and insider proponents seem to think that tradiI also wish to add that the dialogue on how I and Mr. Nikides each interpret specific texts is important as well. I appreciate that he took the time to examine each text individually. There are a number of places where I feel he has made cogent remarks and raised questions with which I need to wrestle further. In other cases I did not make my meaning sufficiently clear and thus he has assumed an interpretation I did not intend. The specific discussion of those texts is a case in point where I feel a line by line format of responses inserted into the texts of each other’s articles would be helpful. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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tion should always be the lens through which we read the scripture, thereby rendering in practice a secondary place to the canon relative to church tradition. This seems very odd coming from two men who espouse reformed theology. Similarly, I had cited Mr. Nikides’ work in my first St. Francis article, because it seemed to me that tradition was being placed above scripture in one of his earlier pieces. I am grateful that Mr. Nikides, near the opening of his response to me, clarified the place he does give to scripture. That was not clear from his prior work and I am very happy to have my perception of his views corrected. Since this is a point of apparent misunderstanding, it seems important to take some space here to address the point. I will state my position relative to scripture and subsequent tradition, especially creedal and confessional statements, as clearly as I can. There are of course very brief and compact creedal formulae found within the New Testament itself. These are part of the canon and so of course I include them as revealed truth. However every other development of creed, confession, and statement of faith subsequent to the canon has been a godly and sincere attempt to put biblical truth into expression for a particular context and in the face of a particular set of questions and challenges. That this record of formulations should be treated with respect and honor and as a source of learning and input is beyond question in both my theory and in my practice of mission. In fact, I have spent great blocks of time pouring over such formulations with leaders in the insider movement with which I am most involved. As I prepared this article and shared it with other insider proponents for their input, it became even clearer than ever that the use of and respect for the creeds is unanimous among us. The criticism that insider proponents deny the creeds or the historic teachings of the nature of Jesus is simply false. We do advocate the re-expression and clearer explanation of these teachings, and in so doing we have much in common with many who do not align with the insider approach.
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At the same time such formulations need continued biblical reflection by believers of every place and epoch. The major creeds, for example, do not answer all of the questions that arise. In some cases the terminology used for the answers provided by the creeds was language required by the age in which the church fathers worked and lived and defended their faith. This process of explaining biblical thinking in non-biblical terminology is very appropriate and necessary, given the purpose of creedal formulations to summarize and articulate biblical faith in a given culture, epoch, and context. However, such language frequently, in other contexts, either fails to communicate without tremendous amounts of explanation and definition being added, or even mis-communicates when compared with the original intention of the fathers. Therefore, I see the attempt to communicate and articulate biblical truth as an ongoing process. This process needs to be continually revisiting the canonical scriptures and searching afresh for the right ways to summarize and articulate what the Bible teaches; it stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before and upon whose thinking we still depend and rely. So, in the sense just described, the canon is always over the creeds and confessions we develop to explain and summarize the teaching of the canon. If we reverse the priority, we are in danger of elevating man made instruments of doctrine over the canon itself. This does not denigrate the importance of the historic creeds and confessions, but we should keep the canon and the creeds in proper relationship. The second fault that Mr. Nikides finds with my use of scripture concerns translation. As I stated above, Phil also takes issue with me on this point. However it is clear that they see this is a general factor within insider movements. Nikides states (page 113):
Insiders rely on “new” translations that, in their attempt to eliminate conceptual barriers with Muslims, significantly alter the language of
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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).

As to the last comment relative to churches, I hope my prior discussion about this topic will be recalled by the reader. Relative to translation itself, Mr. Nikides makes three very provocative accusations:
…a reliance on far less than orthodox scholarship… …this is kept from national believers and supporters back home who fund the projects… … so often we change the Bible…

As to the accusation about scholarship, and resulting decisions about vocabulary and terminology, I will simply make two notes. The first is that in all of the translation projects with which I am familiar, great care is being taken to solicit the input and advice of the best minds in translation from the largest and best known translation organizations. This is true of other insider proponents who have reviewed this text. Secondly, insider proponents involved in translation have sought out the best evangelical biblical scholarship in doing their exegetical work. This is reflected, for example, in one such effort that consulted more than 200 scholars in doing the exegetical background on the term “Son of God.” Almost all of those conSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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sulted were evangelical, conservative biblical scholars. That article was shared with Mr. Nikides. He knows which authors were consulted, and thus his claim about reliance upon less than orthodox scholarship ignores the reality of the matter. It is crucial that we speak the truth. As for the accusation of secrecy and hiding all of this from national believers and supporters: in every case known to myself and to the other insider proponents who read this paper, there is a great desire to accurately communicate in such a way that Muslim readers and hearers will be able to understand and communicate the meaning of the original authors and texts. Translation teams of insiders are very aware of other translation approaches, and are encouraged to gain training from a variety of sources. I personally have shared the results of our translation work in written form with supporters and asked for their comments and concerns so that these can be discussed and aired. Mr. Nikides is simply misinformed in this regard. In addition, there is a great deal of thought given to explaining the translation approach to the reader as a part of the translation. Terms are discussed in glossaries and introductions, with explanations for the translation choices being made in the text. In one case, the meaning based translation (with which Phil and Mr. Nikides take exception) is presented on a facing page opposite a very literal translation with interlinear Greek. Far from seeking to hide or “accommodate” or water down the text to fit Muslim objections, this approach is aimed squarely at explaining the meaning, fully, of the original author. This sort of approach is followed in every example of insider translation of which I am aware. Related to the claim of secrecy, the suggestion of manipulation is implied by Mr. Nikides. Indeed, both authors suggest that insider proponents use manipulative tactics to force indigenous believers, insiders, to do things in the ways we wish. One example from Mr. Nikides is already cited above:
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…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.

Elsewhere, though not addressing translation specifically, Phil writes about manipulation as well (page 117):
Leaders are forced by Western ideologues who pay their salaries to continue to pray in the mosque and deny affiliation with Christianity.

These are disturbing assertions. Every proponent of insider work that I know would oppose, speak against and correct this type of action if we came across it in a colleague. However, no one we know uses money in this way. Money is certainly a major topic, and worthy of discussion. At this juncture I would simply offer the observation that using funds to support the work of national believers in efforts such has Bible translation is a practice that did not begin with insider movements. The appearance of coercion could be just as strongly asserted regarding any translation effort in which outside funds are used. This is not intended as a defense, but as a word of caution in using this charge against insider work, since it can easily backfire. To restate my main point on this question: manipulative and deceptive practices related to translation, the use of funds, and the development of strategy should be rebuked and repented of no matter what philosophy or paradigm of mission such practices are used to support. The third accusation, that insider proponents are changing the Bible, is a serious charge. As I mentioned, on this point both Mr. Nikides and Phil are in agreement in their critique of my thinking. I have already quoted Mr. Nikides’ comment that insider proponents are changing the Bible. As Phil puts it, on page 117:
A translation of the gospels in the ________ language eliminates all reference to “Son of God” and all other filial language within the Godhead. I was told by _____ in _______ in September, 2007, that
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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.’ (NOTE: I have eliminated references to names and places here which Phil included in his piece).

I want to address Phil’s citation first, and then return to a discussion of translation. I cite this particular passage from Phil because in this case he is referring to people with whom I am acquainted, and whose efforts I know about. I have met the man of whom he speaks. I know the translation effort to which he refers. And I know the history of the work described by the man to whom Phil refers. There are always two sides to a story and I will let it suffice here to merely state that Phil’s depiction of the case is not the whole picture. I am not implying that Phil has been dishonest in reporting this. I can also affirm from my own knowledge of events that the man who seems to be his main source of information is in fact giving some of the story accurately. But there is an entirely different understanding of not only the current situation in that country, but indeed of the entire story of the movement in question, a story that has been meticulously researched. The research data, the purposes for which it was developed, and the progress of the movement following that research all combine to paint a very different picture from that portrayed in Phil’s article. I know, because I was involved in the design and implementation of the research.18
18 Phil makes another assertion on page 125, “In _________ these visible convert communities are frequently being persecuted by Insiders because they are a threat to the Insiders’ reason-d’être.” If this is in fact happening, then every insider or insider proponent I know would condemn the activity Phil describes. Sadly, all the evidence I have is of the exact opposite: members of what Phil calls the visible church seem to be actively persecuting or participating in and aiding the persecution of insider believers. As opposed to anecdotes given to Phil by local believers who are no longer employed by those they are accusing, the matter I relate has been investigated at high levels by a well-known Bible distribution society.

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Now back to the issues revolving around translation. Mr. Nikides’ accusation, taken at face value, suggests that translators are in fact changing the Bible and, one assumes then, the Greek or Hebrew text. Perhaps this is not what he means to say? Perhaps Phil’s framing of the discussion is closer to what Mr. Nikides means, that translators are not producing literal, word for word versions of the original texts in the recipient languages? It is unclear from his article. But to be clear: no insider proponent is suggesting that the Bible be changed, nor are they doing so. However, I will assume the best. If what Phil and Mr. Nikides mean is that insider translations are not literal or word for word efforts, then their accusation that insider oriented translation efforts are changing the Bible is rooted in a major disagreement about translation theory, practice, and purpose. This disagreement is not simply taking place between insider advocates and insider critics. It is a discussion taking place within the entire translation community. I will put a complex discussion very simply. The disagreement focuses on whether the purpose of translation is to enable readers to understand the meaning of a text or whether the purpose is to use the closest possible vocabulary in the recipient language, even if such a rendering miscommunicates the text’s meaning to the reader, at least initially. In other words, is translation to be approached from a meaning-based or word-based theoretical foundation? The translation approach which aims at meaning-based translations is in no way a minority within the translation movement. Nor is it an approach limited to the insider movement advocates. This approach is an accepted, indeed mainstream approach to the discipline. To portray it as a minority, obscure, and agenda driven effort (as Mr. Nikides and Phil attempt in their writing) is to misconstrue the facts. Mr. Nikides and Phil would both be justified if they articulated their theory of translation, sought to articulate the theory of translaSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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tion espoused by some insider proponents, and then proceeded to explain why their theory was better. This is a very appropriate course of discussion and is in fact taking place in translation circles. Instead, they have resorted to accusations about the motives of insider proponents, referring to both manipulation and the intent to change or hide the meaning of the Bible. I know many people and projects involved in translation. Their clear and consistent passion and purpose is to make the meaning of the Bible clear for their readers and audiences. They value the Bible as the Word of God. It would serve the effort of the entire mission movement far better if we were to keep the discussion of translation at the level of method, theory and purpose, rather than maligning the motives and intentions of others. Returning to how this pertains to my essay, having generalized about these motives, Mr. Nikides and Phil both insert their conclusions into their response to my article. However, my piece says nothing about translation theory apart from a passing reference to translation. The comments then seem outside the scope of a response for two reasons: they assume motives that can not be demonstrated, and they address issues about which the article to which they are responding did not offer an opinion.

7 Conclusions
I stated previously that I think it is possible that Mr. Nikides and Phil are reading me through lenses created by prior assumptions about insider thinking. I have tried to highlight several places where this seems to be the case. In addition I have addressed specific areas of misunderstanding and misinformation where these relate to positions I have taken in my article. I have tried to speak the truth. At the same time I have sought to do so “in love.” In the course of this article I have had to state clearly when I think something written by Mr. Nikides or Phil has been wrong, but I have tried to
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do so in an atmosphere of respect, even while speaking very directly. I will conclude by suggesting that perhaps there is yet a different way to discuss these issues. Perhaps it would be possible to hold a low-key event in which a relatively small number of people representing a variety of views on this topic could meet together. The format could allow dialogue and interaction, as opposed to the cold medium of writing articles that allow no ability to ask clarifying questions and double check intended meaning. More importantly, such a face-to-face gathering could allow time to actually pray - for the Muslims we all seek to love and reach, for our various organizations, and for one another.

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MUSLIM-IDIOM BIBLE TRANSLATIONS: CLAIMS AND FACTS
BY RICK BROWN, JOHN PENNY, AND LEITH GRAY1

1 Introduction
In the last several years there has been growing controversy about Bible translations for Muslim audiences. Since some of the controversy seems to be based on suppositions of hidden agendas where none exist, we hope it will be helpful to review some of the relevant claims and facts.

2 Cultural and linguistic gap
Looking back into history, the cultural and linguistic gap between Arabic-speaking Christians and Muslims was in most cases fairly small until the Crusades. They read the same books and engaged in debates about religion and philosophy. With the advent of the Crusades however, Christians retreated into separate subcultures. Even Christians who were mother-tongue Arabic speakers became isolated physically, culturally, and linguistically from Muslims. They developed separate customs and distinct dialects that used different names and terms from Muslims, and when they did use some of the same terms that Muslims did, they often used them with different meanings. Arab Christians, for example, chose to
Rick Brown is a Bible scholar and missiologist. He has been involved in outreach in Africa and Asia since 1977. John Penny is a translation consultant who has worked in Bible translation in Africa and Asia for 25 years. He is supported by Reformed churches and has worked with several organizations. Leith Gray works in West Asia, where he has been since the late 1980s. He is involved in training local and cross-cultural co-workers on how to present the message of Christ creatively and incarnationally in local contexts. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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use the Aramaic word kâhin to denote a Jewish priest, whereas in standard Arabic this word meant sorcerer. They chose to use the Greek word nâmûs for law, whereas in ordinary Arabic it meant mosquitoes. They also used different names for famous prophets. This led to miscommunication between Muslims and Christians. The Christians came to reject any of their number who used distinctively Muslim expressions, and they abandoned older Bible translations that had used terms that now sounded Muslim. Even today one finds people who grew up as cultural Christians in Muslim countries who claim that everything distinctive about the language and culture of Muslim communities was inspired by Satan himself. Thus, a linguistic and cultural wall developed between Christians and Muslims that locked the Gospel into the Christian community and kept it from the Muslims, who in their turn came to despise the seemingly corrupted Christian dialects. In the 19th century, when Western missionaries fostered translations of the Bible into additional languages spoken by Muslims, they often used the terminology that was normal to each language. Later missionaries, however, changed these translations by importing new names and terms, thereby assuming a similar posture of rejection toward Muslim society. These missionaries fostered new Christian subcultures with new linguistic distinctives and a new rejection of the old ways. As might be expected, when the Good News is delivered to Muslims in language that shows disrespect for their mother tongue, it gets rejected. So over the centuries these Christian communities have had little spiritual impact on the majority cultures with which they tensely co-exist, and missionaries who adopted their attitudes have had poor results as well. Whenever some missionaries tried to produce Scriptures that respected Muslim ways of speaking, they found themselves under attack from local cultural Christians who abhor the thought of Scripture in a Muslim dialect. Yet Jesus told us to make disciples to Him in every ethnic group (Matthew 28:19). God’s love for ethnic diversity is so great that
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Jesus will not return until this has happened (Matthew 24:14). The result is seen in an end-time vision of heaven that includes people “from every nation, tribe, people, and language” (Rev 7:9). This surely includes people from every Muslim dialect and culture. We read in 1 Peter 3:15 that we must share the Good News with “gentleness and respect,” and that obliges us to show respect for the languages and cultures of all ethnic groups, including Muslim ones. Paul exemplified this by being “as a Jew, in order to win Jews”, and as a Gentile to win Gentiles, while remaining “under the law of Christ” (1 Cor 9:20-21). Muslims are required by their religion to believe in the “heavenly books” that God revealed in the Bible, and Bible translations into Muslim dialects have been well received. But like most people they expect the translations to be in their own idiom, the way they actually use their language, without words and phrases imposed from outside. In any language, most of the lexical units (dictionary entries) are phrases rather than single words, so one has to translate the phrase as a whole, not just its parts. If one translates the two parts of “hot dog” independently into German, one gets heisser Hund, which means a dog in heat. One needs to translate the whole phrase, as Wiener. If one translates the term “Holy Spirit” piece by piece into most Muslim languages, the result is a phrase that is a title for the angel Gabriel. To be more accurate and avoid misunderstanding, one needs to translate the meaning, usually into a phrase that means “the Spirit of God”. Biblical kinship terminology is especially open to misunderstanding. In many languages, if one translates the phrase “son of man” word by word, the result means illegitimate son and is a common term of abuse. As for the terms “Son of God” and “sons of God”, these phrases are well known in most Muslim languages with the meaning “God’s offspring from a sexual union with a woman”. This meaning is taught to them from the Qur’an, so no one questions it. The Qur’an (9:30) says this is such a terrible thing to say about God that He will destroy (and hence condemn to hell) anyone asserting the phrase “son of God.” So
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hell) anyone asserting the phrase “son of God.” So Muslims abhor the phrase as something akin to an unforgiveable sin. God-fearing Muslims distance themselves before God from any such sin by confessing 17 times a day that “God did not procreate and He was not born, and there is no one like Him”. The result is that many Muslims fear to read any sentence that describes anyone as a “son of God” for fear they will offend God, and if they hear the phrase asserted they ask God’s forgiveness for having heard it.2 Translators generally try to be as literal as they can without impairing the meaning or the acceptability of the wording. The ESV, for example, is quite literal, yet in Psalm 29:1 and 89:6 it translates the Hebrew expression “sons of God” as “heavenly beings” to avoid obscuring the meaning. In some nominally Muslim cultures it is possible to circumvent the taboo term with something as simple as “spiritual Son of God” or “exalted Son from God”, where “spiritual” contrasts with “biological”. In more religious cultures, however, asserting such phrases is still regarded as a danger to one’s standing with God. On the other hand, Muslims anywhere can discuss “Son of God” and “sons of God” as a term, without asserting it. So it is possible to discuss sonship terminology in a footnote and in the introduction to Scripture, explaining its original wording and meaning and how it has been translated in the text, while providing a meaning-based translation in the text itself. Since at the time of Jesus the Hebrew term “the Son of God” was used to refer to the Messiah whom God would send from heaven, who was holy and beloved of God, translators have sometimes expressed it that way in the text, as “God’s Beloved Christ” or “God’s Intimate Beloved Chosen One,” while providing a literal translation in the notes with explanation. John, of course, reveals in his Gospel that the Messiah is the Word of God incarnate, so in passages compatible with that sense some translators have used the
See “Why Muslims Are Repelled by the Term ‘Son of God’” in the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, October 2007. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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expression “Word of God” while continuing to present a literal translation in the notes. This approach has overcome the fear some Muslims have of reading the Bible. Unfortunately, some Christians condemn any non-literal translation of this term. Some do this because they jump to false conclusions regarding the reason for the translation and its effect on readers, thinking there might be a hidden theological agenda behind it. Others oppose any translation into Muslim dialects and use the ‘Son of God’ issue as a way of criticizing it. So let’s take a look at these accusations and then state the facts of the matter.

3 Do we create ‘Muslim compliant translations’?
It has been claimed that translators are making “Muslim compliant” translations that deny the deity of Christ. Neither of these statements is true. These claims ascribe attitudes and beliefs to translators that they themselves would strongly disavow. In our many years of talking and interacting with translators, we have never heard any translators speak of altering the meaning of Scripture for theological or missiological reasons or to be more compliant with Islamic teaching. What translators do discuss is how to communicate the original meaning as well as possible, using wording that is clear and natural. Similarly we have never heard of Muslims asking for alterations of meaning. They treat Scripture with even more fear than do Christians, and they would not tolerate alterations of meaning. In any case, presenting Jesus as a person with godlike characteristics is far less acceptable to Muslims theologically than presenting him as the Word of God incarnate, so there could not be a missiological basis for doing as the critics claim. Furthermore, Muslims do not object to Jesus being described as “the Word of God”, wherever that is compatible with the original meaning of the passage concerned. Most Muslims recognize “the Word of God” as a unique descriptor for Jesus, because their own holy book says that Jesus is
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God’s Word whom God placed in the womb of the Virgin Mary to be born as a man. They just need to read John 1:1 to see that the Word is God. In any case, translations cannot normally be published unless they have been examined in minute detail for accuracy and clarity by experts from the major Bible agencies and then approved by them for publication.

4 Do we communicate the deity of Christ less clearly?
It has been claimed that Muslim-idiom translations seek to communicate the deity of Christ less clearly than more literal translations. This is not true. Muslims do not think that “Son of God” means anything more than “God’s offspring,” so a literal translation does not communicate the status of Christ. A higher view of Christ is communicated by phrases that describe Jesus’ unique role and relationship to God. Translators test draft passages using different phrases and explanatory notes to find out what readers understand from them, and revise them repeatedly until the original meaning is communicated as well as possible. At the same time they explain to the reader that the phrase translates an originallanguage term saying “Son of God”, and that this did not mean procreated offspring to its original audience. With regard to the deity of Jesus, this is fully communicated in a host of biblical passages that are clearly and faithfully translated.3 These are the passages used by Biblical theologians, who find the deity of Jesus revealed holistically in the things he says and does, and in statements made about him, rather than in the use of particu-

3 For a presentation of passages that teach the deity of Christ, see articles by Rick Brown in the International Journal of Missiology issues 19(1); 22(3): pp. 93-95; and 24(2): p. 67. See also “The Person of Christ” in the ESV Study Bible, pp. 2515-19. For a fuller treatment see the works in the next note.

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lar titles.4 Here are a few examples of how the Bible communicates Jesus’ deity: “The Word was God,” (John 1:1) “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14) “Christ Jesus ... though he was in the form of God ... made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men,” (Phil. 2:6-7) “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”. (Col. 2:9) Translators and the outside experts who examine their translations take care to ensure that all the passages cited by scholars and theologians as demonstrating the deity of Jesus are clearly worded to communicate this deity in the translations.

5 Do we try to hide the sonship-terminology?
It has been alleged that Muslim-idiom translations hide the original-language use of sonship terminology. Muslims have been taught that Christians use the taboo phrase “Son of God,” and they want to know why. In all recent translations we have examined or asked about, if the translators did not include the word “son” in the text, then they presented it in the explanatory notes. This provides “transparency” to the translation.5 Readers can then recognize occurrences in the text without being required to articulate them. So it is not hidden but rather known to all readers and hearers, and they can follow a teaching that refers to it in particular passages. With time, they may choose to start using a Bible that is more literal.

4 See Richard Bauckham, God Crucified and Millard Erickson, The Word Became Flesh. For the meanings of ‘Son of God’ in the first century, see Adela and John Collins, King and Messiah as Son of God. 5 In the International Journal of Missiology issue 22(4): p. 138, Rick Brown wrote that if a non-literal translation of the term is used in the text, then a literal translation should be presented in the notes. See www.ijfm.org/archives.htm.

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6 Do we deviate from Biblical evangelical scholarship?
It has been claimed that Muslim-idiom translations and explanations deviate from mainstream evangelical biblical scholarship. On the contrary, translators seek to follow current mainstream evangelical scholarship and have no reason or motivation to do otherwise. The very purpose of translation is to communicate God’s Word in accord with its original meaning, “determined according to sound principles of exegesis”,6 and any translation that did otherwise could not be approved for publication. A Muslim-idiom translation is one that that uses the mother-tongue idiom of Muslim people groups while taking care to avoid unbiblical interpretations. This follows the principle agreed upon by all Bible agencies, that “the original should be re-expressed in forms that are consistent with normal usage in the receptor language.”7 Translators of Muslim-idiom translations have no hesitancy at all to be accurate to the original meaning, and their handling of “Son of God” in the text and notes aims to clarify the original meaning while avoiding wordings regarded as indecent in the target language. The terms “sons of God” and “Son of God” have a great many meanings in the Bible. In each passage, translators consult and follow current conservative biblical scholarship, such as one finds in academic Bible commentaries and scholarly evangelical Bible dictionaries.8 Nolland reflects most current conservative Bible scholars when he says that “Sonship is an exalted status and relationship to God on the basis of which the Messiah is enabled to carry out
6

Basic Principles and Procedures for Bible Translation, Forum of Bible Agencies International, 1999. 7 Ibid. 8 See the articles on “Son of God” in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels; Dictionary of Paul and His Letters; Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments; and Dictionary of New Testament Background, all by InterVarsity Press, as well as in The Anchor Bible Dictionary. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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his Messianic function.”9 One finds the same exegesis reflected in the notes of exegetical study Bibles, where sonship is described as the relationship of God to the Messiah, where the Messiah is the Word of God incarnate as Jesus in his mediatorial role as the Christ.10 Translators who use the normal idiom of their Muslim audiences have no ulterior missiological or theological agenda at all in the interpretation of the term; they simply strive to convey the unique relational and soteriological essence of Sonship in their translation of the term, particularly in their explanation of it in the footnotes and glossaries, in accord with the original meaning of these terms as recognized by current evangelical scholarship. If they find that a literal translation of ‘Son of God’ and ‘sons of God’ fails miserably in the languages of some Muslim people groups, because the readers fear it is a blasphemous claim that God had sex with a woman, then the translators can paraphrase the term in the text and present its original-language form and meaning in the notes, somewhat as ESV does at Psalm 29:1 and 89:6. The whole purpose of Muslim-idiom translations is to overcome the linguistic barriers that have hindered interested Muslims from reading the Scriptures. Translators overcome these barriers by showing respect for the language and customs of Muslim readers/hearers, by making the text easy to understand, and by avoiding wordings that are viewed as abhorrent or indecent.

9 John Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary on Luke, 1989:58; also pp. 52, 163, 1112. 10 See for example the explanation of “Son of God” in the NLT Study Bible’s mini-article at Mark 4:35–41.

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Appendix A: Some examples of study Bible explanations of ‘Son of God’
Here are some explanations of the term ‘Son of God’ provided in the main evangelical study Bibles, based largely on usage in the Old Testament and in Jewish literature of the time.

1 NLT Study Bible (2008)
Most notes explaining the term “Son of God” in the NLT Study Bible refer readers to the explanation provided at Mark 4:35–41: Mark 4:35–41:
Son of God In the OT, the title “Son of God” is applied to the people of Israel (Exod 4:22; Deut 32:5–6, 18–19; Ps 82:6; Jer 3:19; 31:9, 20; Hos 11:1; Mal 2:10) and the angels (Gen 6:2; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps 29:1; 89:6). It is also applied to Israel’s king in a special way—the anointed king was seen as God’s “son” (2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chr 22:10; 28:6; Ps 2:7; 89:26–27). The coming Messiah (Israel’s king, a descendant of David) was also called the Son of God in Jewish literature (the Apocrypha, the Mishnah, the Dead Sea Scrolls). Jews in the first century thus understood the Messiah as being the Son of God.

There are, however, some other brief notes, as below: Mark 1:1:
The Son of God: this title emphasizes Jesus’ unique relationship with God the Father (1:11; 9:7; 12:4–6; 14:61–62).

2 ESV Study Bible
The ESV Study Bible is careful to minimize the challenge to popular interpretations, while still presenting views that reflect scholarly exegesis and lexicology:
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Romans 1:4:
Jesus was declared by God the Father to be the Son of God in power when he was raised from the dead (see Mat 28:6) and installed at God’s right hand as the messianic King. As the eternal Son of God, he has reigned forever with the Father and the Holy Spirit. But this verse refers to Jesus as the God-man reigning in messianic power (“Son of God” was a Jewish title for the Messiah), and this reign began (i.e., was declared or initiated) at a certain point in salvation history, i.e., when Jesus was raised from the dead through the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3.17:
The voice from heaven confirms the eternally existing relationship of divine love that the Son and Father share as well as Jesus’ identity as the messianic Son of God (Ps. 2:7). This beloved Son is the triumphant messianic King, yet he is also the humble “servant” into whose hands the Father is well pleased to place the mission to bring salvation to the nations (Isa. 42:1–4).

Luke 1:32:
Jesus is the “Son of the Most High”. He is the promised successor to the throne of David (see 2 Sam. 7:12–13, 16).

John 1:14:
The only Son from the Father. Jesus is the “Son of God”, not in the sense of being created or born (see John 1:3), but in the sense of being a Son who is exactly like his Father in all attributes, and in the sense of having a Father-Son relationship with God the Father. John 1:49 Son of God designates Jesus as the Messiah predicted in the OT (2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7; see note on John 1:14).

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3 NIV Study Bible
Psalm 2:7:
Son ... Father. In the ancient Near East the relationship between a great king and one of his subject kings, who ruled by his authority and owed him allegiance, was expressed not only by the words “lord” and “servant” but also by “father” and “son”. The Davidic king was the Lord’s “servant” and his “son” (2 Sam 7:5, 14).

New Testament Most of the footnotes to ‘Son of God’ in the New Testament of the NIV Study Bible (2008) refer the reader to the explanation at John 3:16. John 3:16:
Gave his one and only Son. Cf Isa 9:6 (“a son is given”, referring to the Messianic Son of David - who is also God’s Son (see 2 Sam 7:14 and note). See also 1:14, 18 and notes; cf. Gen 22:2,16; Rom 8:32 and notes. Although believers are also called “sons” of God (2 Cor 6:18, Gal 4:5–6), Jesus is God’s Son in a unique sense (see 20:31 and note).

There is a note, however, at Luke 1:32:
The Son of the Most High. This title has two senses: (1) divine Son of God and (2) the Messiah born in time. His Messiahship is clearly referred to in the following context (vv. 32b–33).

4 American Bible Society Learning Bible
This study Bible seems to avoid commenting on sonship language in most occurrences, although there are a few footnotes. One such note at Mat 26:63 says:
See the note at 1.17 (Messiah). “Son of God” was one of the titles used for the kings of Israel (Ps 2.7).

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There is also a mini-article on the term “Son of God” that explains the OT background of the term. The NT references basically describe how each occurrence is used, but not what they mean. As for the OT description:
Many passages in the Jewish Scriptures, which Christians call the Old Testament, describe the people of Israel as God’s son or child (Exod 4.22, 23; Jer 31.19, 20; Hos 11.1), but the title “Son of God” is given to an unnamed kind of Israel (Ps 2.7). God said that King David is “my first-born son, and he will be the ruler of all kings on earth” (Ps 89.27). David is also told that one of his children would be God’s son (2 Sam 7.14). The later prophets spoke of the faithful members of the people of Israel as God’s children (Isa 43.6; Hos 1.10).

Only in later Jewish writings is the Messiah spoken of as the Son of God (Enoch 105.2; 2 Esdras 7.28-29). For more about these books, which are included in some Bibles, see the article called “What Books Belong in the Bible?” p. 15.

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Appendix B: Distinguishing the tasks of lexicology, exegesis, and theology
Some of the misunderstandings about translation come from lack of clarity regarding the different tasks of lexicology, exegesis, and theology. Lexical research investigates the way words and idioms were being used in a particular language and community, based on all the evidence. It seeks to discover the distinct “senses” that were associated with each vocabulary item in the language, and the kinds of context where each sense would be found. So in translating or defining terms like ‘Son of God’, the task is to discover what this phrase meant in the original languages, and then express this in the translation. The task of exegesis is to discover the original propositional meanings and speech acts that an author would have communicated to his original audience in their particular context by means of the particular text he composed for them. We do so by analyzing texts within the environment of their author and his audience, with the goal of reconstructing the stories, values, and beliefs that the author was communicating to his original audience. Part of this task involves identification of the specific objects and events to which reference was being made. For example, when Jesus says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” and that those discipled to him should be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mat 28:18– 19 ESV), we infer that ‘Son’ is coreferential with ‘me’ and hence refers to Jesus. This usage simply refers to Jesus as ‘Son’ rather than ascribing a title or trait to him, since verse 19 does not use ‘Son’ predicatively. The sentence itself is about baptism. The task of theology is to reflect on the implications of all this in a systematic and holistic way. T. F. Torrance describes how the theology of the Trinity “calls for a fully holistic approach in which
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the empirical and conceptual, or the historical and theological, ingredients in the New Testament are held together.”10 In Matthew 28:19, for example, the positioning of a self-reference to Jesus between references to the Father and the Holy Spirit puts them on the same level, and the attribution of a single “name” to all three indicates that they share a common identity. So although the sentence is talking about discipling and baptism, it has clear implications regarding the triune nature of God. Theologians look at all the biblical evidence that bears on this topic and look for a single, rational theory that can best explain it all. It took four hundred years to work this out for the Trinity, but then it was not seriously challenged until the rise of social Trinitarianism in the late twentieth century. The development of a systematic theology requires the development and definition of technical terms. A common mistake readers make is to assume that the words and phrases used by everyday Jews speaking Aramaic at the time of Jesus had the same meanings as the technical terms defined in fourth century Greek theological discussion. Don Carson describes this kind of mistake as the exegetical fallacy of “semantic anachronism” and “false assumptions about technical meaning”.11 Obvious examples are terms like ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of Man’ that had common usages among Jews that were less technically defined than are the technical uses of these terms in theological discussion that occurred decades or even centuries later. This is why it is important to distinguish lexicological research on first-century Greek and Aramaic words from the technical formulations of systematic theologies.

10 Thomas F. Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (London & New York: T&T Clark, 2001), p. 35. 11 Donald A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (2nd edn.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), pp. 33, 45.

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Another mistake is to confuse the meaning of a word with the meaning of the text in which it occurs. Köstenberger emphasizes that “it is important to distinguish between information supplied by the context in which a word occurs and the component of meaning contributed by the word itself.12 This is illustrated in the example of Mat 28:19, where the term ‘the Son’ contributes little meaning beyond making a reference, but the person to whom it refers, Jesus, receives meaning from the implications of the whole text. Another example is Mark 2, where Jesus says the “Son of Man” has power to forgive sins and authority over the Sabbath; here the term ‘the Son of Man’ contributes little beyond a self-reference, but the statements in which it occurs supply considerable meaning to our understanding of who Jesus is and expand the meaning of the term itself. Yet another mistake is described by Don Carson is the “unwarranted linking of sense and reference.”13 This happens when interpreters fail to realize that “the sense or meaning of a word is not its referent but the mental content with which the word is associated” in the community that uses it at a particular time.14 For example, when Nathanael says to Jesus, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49 ESV), the lexical meaning of these three terms is far less than the knowledge we have about the person they refer to, i.e. Jesus. The distinction between sense and reference is especially notable when people make references to referents in the past by using a term that identifies the referent as it is in the present. For example, a man will commonly say, “My wife was born in such-and-such a place,” even though she was not yet his wife when she was born.
Andreas J. Köstenberger, The Missions of Jesus and the Disciples according to the Fourth Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 19. 13 Donald A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (2nd edn.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), p. 63. 14 Ibid. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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Similarly Stephen refers to “our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia” (Acts 7:2), even though the Abraham’s name was still ‘Abram’ when he was in Mesopotamia. The New Testament authors often use such references to refer to the second Person of the Trinity prior to the incarnation by using his post-incarnate name ‘Jesus’ or by using terms that describe his incarnate role, such as ‘Christ’ or ‘the Son of God’, both of which were used in Jewish society to refer to the awaited Savior. So in addition to using ‘Word’ (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1) to refer to the pre-incarnate Second Person, Jesus and the Apostles also use terms that identify him by his post-incarnate role, such as ‘the Son of Man’ (John 3:13 and perhaps Matt 20:28), ‘the Bread of God’ (who “comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” John 6:33), ‘Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor 8:6), ‘Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4, Heb 10:5ff, and perhaps John 17:3 and 1 Pet 1:1115), ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor 8:9), ‘Christ Jesus’ (Phil 2:5-6, 1 Tim 1:15), and even though these terms describe the Jesus during the incarnation. The term ‘Son’ is used this way in Heb 1:1-3 to refer to the one who is both the post-incarnate “heir of all things” and the pre-incarnate agent of creation, and a similar usage is found in Gal 4:4, Rom 8:3, and 1 John 4:9–10. In all these cases, the terms used are ones that were normally associated with the Mediator, the Messiah, but the terms are used to refer to his divine personage at a time prior to the incarnation. When people use an anachronistic reference often enough, the word acquires that meaning as an additional lexical sense. As a result, the terms ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’ were given an additional meaning for Christians, namely the eternal Word of God, the second Person of the Trinity both before and after the incarnation. The early church fathers continued to use ‘Word’ most often for references to the divine nature of Jesus, especially prior to his in-

Calvin understood ‘Christ’ in ‘Spirit of Christ’ in 1 Pet 1:11 to mean the Word, since the Christ was not yet manifested. See Institutes 1.13.7. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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carnation,16 but this changed when the Arian and Semi-Arian heresies arose. This was because the Arians and semi-Arians argued that the word ‘son’ meant an offspring and hence entailed a second being, one who was a literal son to the Father. The Arians went on to say that if the Son was an offspring, then he had a beginning in time as well. The Orthodox theologians disagreed and emphasized that the second Person of the Trinity was eternal and uncreated, thus an “eternal Son”. A century of emphasizing eternal sonship had the effect of making ‘Son’ the most commonly used term for the second Person of the Trinity, instead of ‘Word.’ Calvin justifies this use of ‘Son’ for the pre-incarnate Word on the basis of Col 1:15, which says that Jesus Christ is “the firstborn of all creation” (Institutes 1.14.5). Nevertheless, Calvin goes on in the same passage to say he is a Son in respect to the incarnation as well, just before that he explains this double usage of the term (Institutes 1.13.24):
For ever since Christ was manifested in the flesh he is called the Son of God, not only because begotten of the Father before all worlds he was the Eternal Word, but because he undertook the person and office of the Mediator that he might unite us to God.

Commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:27, the theologian Charles Hodge notes that “the words the Son himself, here designate, as in so many other places, not the second person of the Trinity as such, but that person as clothed in our nature,” “not the Logos as such, but the Logos as incarnate.”17

Athanasius, the chief advocate for the Nicene position, in his work ‘On the Incarnation’, used ‘Word’ 132 times compared to ‘Son’ 24 times, ‘Image’ 19, and ‘Wisdom’ 6 times (usually in conjunction with ‘Word’). Athanasius makes a distinction in his works between ‘Son’ as the eternal Word and ‘Son’ as the incarnate Savior (the Messiah). 17 Charles Hodge, Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: Robert Carter, 1878) pp. 333-4. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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Without a proper understanding and employment of these three disciplines, we are unlikely to communicate and translate Scriptural truth accurately.

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ALLAH OF ISLAM; THE I AM1 OF THE BIBLE: SIMILAR, THE SAME OR DIFFERENT?
BY JOHN SPAN2
“Your God and our God are the same." Qur’an 29:46 “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even [...] believe, and shudder!” James 2:19 “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” I Cor 8:6

1. Introduction
Recently the leadership of a Reformed mission in the predominantly Muslim country in which we serve, charged its members to wrestle with the question: “Can you say that Allah of Islam and YHWH of the Bible are one and the same God?” They were aware that Islam has already answered that question in the affirmative.3 It was felt by the leadership that wrestling with this question would have practical consequences as to parameters that might be put in place for methods that are being considered in the world of Muslim outreach. The question is not a new one. Samuel Zwemer, Reformed Church of America missionary to Arabia, wrestled with
This paper will use the convention adopted by Bruce Waltke in his An Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Mi.,Zondervan , 2007), p. 11, where he uses the term I AM (italics his) to render the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH in English 2 John Span has been a missionary in the West African country Guinea since the year 2000. 3 This is the basis for Sam Shamoun’s response to the Islamic affirmation in his paper Allah of Islam, Is He Yahweh God of the Bible?, and he places the onus on Islam to defend their position. His conclusion is that Islam falls far short in proving the burden of proof. See www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Abualrub/allahs_identity.htm St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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this crucial identity question in his 1946 monograph The Allah of Islam and the God of Jesus Christ.4 Much of the material was derived from his 1905 book The Moslem Doctrine of God. More recently others have asked the question in creative ways ranging from: • • • • • • • • • Allah of Islam, Is He Yahweh God of the Bible? Is Allah the God of the Bible?5 Is Allah of the Qur'an the same as the God of the Bible?6 Are Allah and the Biblical God the same?7 Is the father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?8 Is the God of Islam the same as the God of Christianity?9 Do Muslims and Christians believe in the same God?10 Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?11 Do Muslims and Christians pray to the same God?12

Samuel Marinus Zwemer, Theology Today, 3 no 1 Ap. (1946), pp. 64-77. Sam Shamoun, www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/god.htm (9/22/2006) 6 Is the Allah of the Qur'an the same as the God of the Bible? www.awm.org/resources/faq/islam-questions/allah-quran-god-bible (9/6/2009) 7 John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon, Are Allah and the Biblical God the Same? http://johnankerberg.org/Articles/_PDFArchives/islam/IS1W0403.pdf (9/6/2009). Excerpted from John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Facts on Islam (Harvest House, 1991). 8 Timothy George, Is the father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Understanding the differences between Christianity and Islam (Grand Rapids, Mi., Zondervan, 2002). 9 Colin Chapman, Cross and Crescent: responding to the challenge of Islam. (Downer’s Grove, Ill. IVP), p. 235. 10 Imad N Shehadeh, ‘Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the Same God?’ in Bibliotheca Sacra, 161:641 (Jan 2004). 11 Umar F. Abdallah, ‘Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?’, in Christian Century, 121 no 17 Ag 24 (2004), pp. 34-36. See www.religiononline.org/showarticle.asp?title=3137 (9/8/2009) See also contributions in the same journal under the same title by J. Dudley Woodbury (Part 3) May 18, 2004, pp. 36-37, www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3072 (9/8/2009) and Jon D. Levenson (Part 1), www.christiancentury.org/downloads/cc-sg-002-01.pdf
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One can see that the way various authors have phrased the question falls into two broad categories. The first is the “being” question, and the second group is the “activity” question: believe…worship…pray. As well, the questions touch on concepts of sameness, the identity of God, continuity and discontinuity between Biblical and Qur’anic revelation and the self-disclosure of God. These concepts will be investigated with a goal leading to practical missiological implications of what is found.

2 Preliminaries
In order to prevent the charge that the nature of the question forces an un-natural yes or no answer, or that it is a trick question, it would be wise to tease apart the question into smaller sub questions. One reason is that there is a difference in the simple use of the word Allah for God, which 14 million Arabic Christians have no problem with, and the differences in ideas/concepts about God in the Muslim faith and the Christian faith. These ideas have practical considerations in the out workings in the lives of the adherents of the different religions. As someone has said, “Show me your God and I will tell you why you live the way you do.” The question of precision in these matters cannot be underemphasized. Name and nature, when it comes to deity must go hand in hand.13 Thus the following questions: 1. Is the word Allah necessarily a Muslim word?
12 “Do Muslims And Christians Pray To The Same God?” http://grace-andtruth.org/AM-DoMuslimsAndChristiansPrayToSameGod-Booklet.htm. (11/11/2009) For another valuable resource comparing the Al-Fatiha prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, see Abd al-Masih. “What do Christians and Muslims Pray? A Comparison of the Lord's Prayer and the Islamic Fatiha.” See www.light-of-life.com/eng/gospel/g3003efm.htm. (Accessed 11/11/2009) 13 This is a point strongly underlined by former Muslims, Ergun Mehmet Caner, and Emir Fethi Caner in their Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2009), p. 108. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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2. How might we prevent semantic confusion between the concepts of sameness and similarity? 3. The phrase “the God of…..” … “and”….suggests the possibility of difference. Isn’t this a way of forcing the issue? 4. Is there any difference in the way that Allah of Islam is known, and the God of the Bible is known? 5. What is the nature of the God revealed in the Bible? 6. What are the consequences resulting from the Biblical selfrevelation of I AM? 7. How is the Father of Jesus revealed? Does Islam have room for Him? 2.1 Is the word Allah necessarily a Muslim word? In the first Arabic Bible translation, which was translated from Aramaic into Arabic in the early 700’s, the word for God was translated Allah. This tradition has continued until the present. Rick Brown in his article Who is ‘Allah’? agrees with the use of the word Allah in translation and shows the pre-Islamic use of the word Allah. He underscores the continuity of the use of the title Allah but also shows that “the concept of God held by Muslims differs from that of biblical Christians.”14 Thus the word Allah is not the exclusive property of Islam. Along with Brown, this paper, however will argue that Islam has endowed its deity with concepts unique to that religion. 2.2 Semantics: Similarity and/or sameness? Two gentlemen both own a four-wheel drive truck. Each truck has four wheels and each has a diesel engine. Each truck has allBrown, Rick, “Who is ‘Allah’?”, in International Journal of Frontier Missions, 23:2 Summer (2006), p. 82. See www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/23_2.../Brown_WhoisAllahv2.pdf. See also Kenneth J. Thomas, “Allah in the Translation of the Bible”, in The Bible Translator, 52/3 (2001), pp. 301–305. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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terrain tyres and each has the ability to have all four wheels receiving power from the engine. Each truck has one driver and multiple passengers. Superficially it may be said that the two trucks are the same. On closer investigation, however, one has the trademark Nissan, and the other has the trademark Toyota. For all their apparent similarities, they are quite different. When it comes to purchasing replacement parts, the differences will quickly become obvious. When one of the manufacturers recalls its vehicles due to a manufacturing defect, one vehicle will be sent back and the other left. A sharp line of demarcation will occur. What was thought to be superficially the same now has shown to be radically different. A further twist complicates our present paper. What if someone had taken the nameplate off of one of the vehicles and called it by the other’s name. Now you might have a vehicle manufactured by Nissan going under the name of Toyota. Superficially, then, one might see two of the same names, but still have two materially different subjects in front of them. In a similar way, what seem to be similarities between the deity of Christianity and Islam i.e. a monotheistic creator god who executes judgment do not necessarily imply sameness. Further criterion must be used. 2.3 The phrase “the God of…..” … “and”….suggests the possibility of difference. Isn’t this a way of forcing the issue? Discussions on the subject of sameness and similarity often are boiled down to human opinions as to whether two humans of two different religious systems are describing one and the same Supreme Being from different vantage points, or are they describing different Beings. Colin Chapman in his book The Cross and the Crescent uses an illustration of two civilizations who attempt to describe the sun. One group can actually see the sun and the other only knows the sun behind clouds. He suggests that this might ap-

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proximate the differences between Islam and Christianity.15 As much as this might be appealing from anthropology of religions standpoint, it is a weak argument as it is based only on human observation. More importantly, is the fact that God is only known as he chooses to reveal himself and beyond the observable attributes of creation, written revelation is needed. Thus it is fair to ask how the God of Islam reveals Himself in written form and how the God of the Bible does the same. If in their self-disclosure, they show themselves to be similar/same or different, then this criterion must stand. 2.4 Is there any difference in the way that Allah of Islam is known and the God of the Bible is known? As much as it has often been shown that on purely linguistic grounds the words Allah and God might be synonymous, others show a discontinuity when it comes to the concepts of the nature and character of God in their self-disclosure. Bruce McDowell and Anees Zaka, for example, note:
So the terms Allah and God are synonymous. However, this does not mean that the Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible are revealed to have the same nature and character. The Qur’anic view of God is deistic in the sense that God and the world stay apart. In orthodox Islam there is no entrance of God into the world or any human fellowship with God. [...] Orthodox Muslims understand God as being beyond every quality and state that belongs to creatures, which would make the incarnation of Jesus impossible. In fact, belief in the oneness of Allah means that ‘none can be named or qualified with the Names or Qualifications of Allah.’ [...] Allah is understood to have absolute sovereignty and omnipotence. His character is impersonal— infinite and eternal. [...] Islam teaches that God does not reveal him-

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self to anyone in any way. God reveals only his will, which is found in the Qur’an.16

This same theme of self-disclosure was suggested by a contemporary Muslim scholar, Isma`il al-Faruqi who expressed mainstream Islamic thinking on the inability of humans to know God in the following words:
He [God] does not reveal Himself to anyone in any way. God reveals only His will. Remember one of the prophets asked God to reveal Himself and God told him, "No, it is not possible for Me to reveal Myself to anyone.”...This is God's will and that is all we have, and we have it in perfection in the Qur'an. But Islam does not equate the Qur'an with the nature or essence of God. It is the Word of God, the Commandment of God, the Will of God. But God does not reveal Himself to anyone. Christians talk about the revelation of God Himself - by God of God - but that is the great difference between Christianity and Islam. God is transcendent, and once you talk about selfrevelation you have hierophancy and immanence, and then the transcendence of God is compromised. You may not have complete transcendence and self-revelation at the same time.17

16 Bruce A McDowell and Anees Zaka, Muslims and Christians at the Table: Promoting Biblical Understanding Among North American Muslims (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 1999), pp. 89-90. 17 Al-Faruqi, Christian Mission and Islamic Da`wah: Proceedings of the Chambèsy Dialogue Consultation [held 1976 in Chambèsy, Switzerland], (Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1982), pp. 47-48 as quoted by The Character of God in Bible and Qur’an: A Study In Contrasts (speaker notes from a Muslim-Christian dialog end of 1998). http://www.answering-islam.org/God/character.html. (Accessed 8/6/2009) The Christian representative investigated the comparisons and contrasts from five vantage points, namely the intimacy of God (with his people), the suffering of God, the love of God, the knowability of God (the question regarding whether we can know the character of God and what God is like), and the holiness of God. It is my contention that any in-depth discussion on the subject must wrestle with the Biblical and Qur’anic portrays of these aspects of God. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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The question of continuity and discontinuity in terms of character portrayals of deity in Christianity and Islam was wrestled with by Samuel Zwemer and he stated:
Moslems believe in God’s unity, omnipotence and mercy. ‘There is no god but Allah’ is the first clause in the Moslem creed. [...] Islam reduces God to the category of the will. The Koran shows that Mohammad had a measurably correct idea of the physical attributes of God, but an absolutely false conception of His moral attributes. The conception of God is negative. Absolute sovereignty and ruthless omnipotence are His chief attributes, while His character is impersonal—that of a Monad.18

Zwemer essentially gave some credence to the fact that Muhammad had gained some knowledge of God via general revelation, but failed miserably on the aspects of special revelation. This is consistent with the Apostle Paul’s biblical anthropology which he develops in the 1st and 8th chapters of Romans. All three authors, Christian or Muslim, agree that there is a dramatic difference in the content of what God has communicated in written form. (The mechanics of how this written form is delivered is another topic.) In one instance, will or law is communicated and in the other, a person is communicated. J.I. Packer affirms the role of Christian revelation when he states, "God’s purpose in revelation is to make friends with us."19
Samuel Marinus Zwemer, Islam, a Challenge to Faith: Studies on the Mohammedan Religion and the Needs and Opportunities of the Mohammedan World from the Standpoint of Christian Missions (New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1907), pp. 86-87. Cited by Laurence R. O’Donnell III An Uncommon Logos Between Christianity and Islam: Why Christ is the Epistemological Crux between Cross and Crescent (A Paper Submitted to Dr. John M. Frame in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the History of Epistemology (2CT508) Orlando, FL. (16 May 2008) 19 James I. Packer, God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 3rd ed. 1994), p. 50. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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B.B. Warfield in The Biblical Idea of Revelation underlines the fact that the Christian view of revelation makes it unique. As well, he touches on the aspect of personality:
The religion of the Bible thus announces itself, not as the product of men's search after God, if haply they may feel after Him and find Him, but as the creation in men of the gracious God, forming a people for Himself, that they may show forth His praise. In other words, the religion of the Bible presents itself as distinctively a revealed religion. Or rather, to speak more exactly, it announces itself as the revealed religion, as the only revealed religion; and sets itself as such over against all other religions, which are represented as all products, in a sense in which it is not, of the art and device of man.20

2.5 What is the nature of the God revealed in the Bible? In his lecture series Thinking Straight about God 21 the evangelical systematic theologian J.I. Packer outlines his 5 “sweet p’s” as to how the Biblical God is defined. a. Personal. He is tri-personal and is plural in his personal nature. b. Powerful. He is self-sustaining, and infinite in creation, recreation, redemption and providence. c. Perfect. In His moral perfections He behaves consistently in altogether righteous, pure, wise, holy and loving ways. d. Purposeful. He is working out his purposes with Christ at the center. e. Praiseworthy. His above attributes make him absolutely adorable.

Benjamin B. Warfield, "Revelation", in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, James Orr, General Editor (Chicago, Howard-Severance, 1915), pp. 2573-2582. 21 Available from Regent College Bookstore, Vancouver, British Columbia www.regentbookstore.com/product_details.php?item_id=65784 St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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In a similar fashion, John Frame, another Reformed systematic theologian known for his books on the doctrine of God, describes the Biblical view of God as “Absolute Personality”.22 By this statement, Frame, standing on the shoulders of his teacher, Cornelius Van Til, describes the God as both absolute (i.e., selfexistent, self-sufficient, self-contained) and personal (i.e. thinking, speaking, acting, loving, judging). Both Packer and Frame emphasize the aspect of personality that is expressed in the relations within the Trinity, and the aspect of power. Both, they contend, are necessary for the Biblical view of God. Packer further summarizes his lecture by stating that “the Christian name of God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” 23 It would seem noteworthy that the Apostles’ and Nicean Creeds of the early church do not start out with declarations of God as the creator, but start with the declaration, “I believe in God the Father.” Any discussion of sameness, similarity or difference would now have to be measured against the Biblical grid. What we can see so far is that there is a measure of continuity in the two presentations of God in terms of creation and power, described by the word Absolute; but that there is a radical discontinuity in terms of character, described by the concept of Personality. Since the God of the Bible revealed himself with a covenant (implying relationship between persons) name, it is necessary to look at this name.

22 John M Frame, Cornelius Van Til: an Analysis of His Thought (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1995), pp. 51ff. 23 Compare John Calvin’s statement: God “so proclaims Himself the sole God as to offer Himself to be contemplated clearly in three Persons. Unless we grasp these, only the bare and empty name of God flits about in our brains, to the exclusion of the true God.” (Institutes, 1. xiii, 2 )

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2.6 What are the consequences resulting from the Biblical selfrevelation of I AM? 2.6.1 The Exclusivity of the God who Saves In His self-disclosure to Moses, the God of Israel sets himself apart from all other deities with his personal name; I AM (Exodus 3:1415)24. This same God declares that he will broach no competitors and says in Deuteronomy 4:39, “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD [I AM] is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” (ESV). The New Jerusalem Bible translates the first phrase of the verse as: “Hence grasp this … and meditate on it constantly”. These were not orders to be trifled with. They were to constantly bring to mind the reality that “besides I AM…the other gods do not exist”.25 This same declaration which eliminates all rivals is repeated in 1 Kings 8:60; Isaiah 45:5, 6, 14, 18, 22 (cf. v. 21), 46:9 Joel 2:27. In no uncertain terms, I AM declares that as much as humans may invent gods of their own making, in essence there is no other God but He.26 This leaves us with some questions as to the existence of Allah of Islam. Is the I AM using some kind of hyperbole to state that in his glory he is so far over-reaching all other deities that they do not, for all practical purposes, exist? Or should this be taken literally?
24 Scripture speaks of the Tetragrammaton as “this glorious and fearful name” (Deut 28:58) or simply “the name” (Lev 24:11). But it connotes God’s nearness, his concern for man, and the revelation of his redemptive covenant. R. Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), p. 212. 25 James Strong, The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1996), H369. 26 Ulrich Mauser (p. 178) prefers to see the Isaiah passages as those declaring that, for all practical purposes, the other gods do not exist , that is to say, they are powerless and nothings in comparison to I AM, not that they do not exist in an ontological sense. Ulrich W. Mauser, “God”, in Gowan, Donald E. The Westminster Theological Wordbook of the Bible. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), pp. 164-182.

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I AM can make this claim of exclusivity based on the fact that He alone is the One who saves and, in the case of the prologue to the Ten Commandments, is the One who saved Israel from Egypt and its bondage (see also Judg 6:8-10; Ps 81:9-11). Jeffrey Tigay, in his commentary on Deuteronomy, also cites other biblical texts where the connection between exclusive worship and I AM’s power to save are connected (Hos 13:1-5; Josh 24:16-18; 1 Kgs 17:35-39; Deut 13:6.11) and comments that "the obligation to worship YHVH alone because He alone freed Israel from Egypt is the central doctrine of biblical religion.”27 Can Allah of Islam make this same claim? From the prologue to the “Ten Good Words,” as they have been described, one hears I AM stating: I am the I AM [the LORD] your God, who delivered you out of slavery….therefore…. Conceivably, this statement could be altered slightly to reflect Qur’anic reality by the words: I am God [Allah] your Lord, who wants you to be known as Abd-Allah…my slaves….therefore…. Each statement has enormous practical implications in the lives of its devotees. 2.6.2 “Non-gods” and “works of human hands” One might object however, that the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament passages28 actually affirm the existence of other
27 Jeffrey Tigay, Deuteronomy [The JPS Torah Commentary] (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1996), p. 63, cited by Patrick Miller, The way of the Lord: essays in Old Testament theology: Volume 39 of Forschungen zum Alten Testament (Tuebingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2004), p. 93. 28 For example: "On all the gods of Egypt I will execute Judgments: I am the LORD" (Ex 12:12); “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe” (Deut 10:17); "Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and worshiped the Baals; and they abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they followed other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were all around them, and bowed down to them" (Judg 2:11-12); “For great is the Lord and greatly to be St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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gods and seek to figure out a way to live with them. Bruce Waltke in his OT Theology also makes some helpful comments on the differences between the theological statements of Deuteronomy 4:39 and those of the Ten Commandments found in Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20 which he calls “religious commands.” He shows that the Ten Commandments assume the propensity of the human heart to create gods in their own image and of their own making, and thus the prohibitions to bowing down and serving other gods. He then directs his readers to Deuteronomy 32:17-21 which identifies idol worship as bowing down to demons. Verse 17 reads "They sacrificed to demons, which are not God [lo-lohim, "no-God"]” or non-gods.29 The Apostle Paul also touches on this “non-god” concept in I Corinthians 8:5-6, in a passage described by some as featuring “Christological monotheism.” The commentator Anthony Thiselton suggests that Paul’s injunction was that the possibility of demonic influence should not be trifled with by new converts. He states:
… habituat[ual] patterns of loyalty and devotion long practiced by new converts before their conversion cannot simply be brushed aside as no longer affecting their lives and attitudes in the present. At an existential and psychological level they still leave their mark…. Indeed, this may mean even more. Not only do they return a subjective influence; they may also constitute objective forces of evil which bring destruction, disintegration, and pain. Paul appears to associate them with demonic forces. (italics in original).30

This OT idea of non-gods is described by the Psalmist who stated, “the gods of the nations are nothings” (Psalm 96:5). Calvin
praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” (Ps 96:4); “For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.” (Micah 4:5) 29 Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, p. 416 30 Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), p. 633. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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noted the play on words which was based on the sounds of the words, “the elohim of the nations are elelim”31. Literally, the gods of the nations are “extreme nothingness”, or in the words of Robert Alter, “un-gods” or “paltry pseudo-gods”.32 In Psalm 115 and throughout the OT as well, the creations of their own deities by humans are described as “the work of human hands”. Later the Chronicler reported a most dishonorable act. During the invasion of Sennacherib, “They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as if he were like the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of human hands” (2 Ch 32:19, NRSV). To be guilty of this charge is no small affair, as in the Ten Commandments, I AM is said to be a jealous God and is supremely jealous for his own honor. This raises an important question: “Is Allah of Islam one of the “gods of the peoples of the earth” and is he “the work of human hands?” To this question, Samuel Zwemer would have answered with a qualified negative. He responds:
WHAT is the result of our investigation of the Moslem idea of God? Is the statement of the Koran true, "Your God and our God is the same?" In as far as Moslems are monotheists and in as far as Allah has many of the attributes of Jehovah we cannot put Him with the false gods. But neither can there be any doubt that Mohammed's conception of God is inadequate, incomplete, barren and grievously distorted.33

“He convicts the heathen nations of manifest infatuation, upon the ground that their gods are vanity and nought, for such is the meaning of the Hebrew word elilim,,‫ אליל‬elil, signifies a thing of nought; as if from ‫ ,אל‬not, the ‫ ל‬being doubled to denote extreme nothingness.” Jean Calvin, Commentary on the book of Psalms,Volume 5 (Grand Rapids, Mi. W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1949), p. 50. 32 Robert Alter, The book of Psalms: a translation with commentary (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007), pp. 339 fn7, 342. 33 Samuel Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God: An Essay on the Character and Attributes of Allah According to the Koran and the Orthodox Tradtion (American Tract Society, New York, 1905), p. 107. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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To this question, John Calvin, however, would have answered in the affirmative. His answer was based on the Christology of Islam and he said:
So today the Turks, [whom both Luther and Calvin equated with Muslims] although they proclaim at the top of their lungs that the Creator of Heaven and earth is God, still, while repudiating Christ, substitute an idol in the place of the true God.34

2.7 How is the Father of Jesus revealed? Does Islam have room for Him? The gospel of John states that Jesus who is in the bosom of the Father, is the one who has made known the Father (John 1:18). Jesus referred to Himself as I AM (John 8:58). It would seem certain that the exclusivity demonstrated by I AM in the Old Testament would continue in the New. It was Christ who touched on the revealed nature of the Christian God. It is not humans who grope around and construct an idea of who this God is. Just as Jesus said to Peter, “flesh and blood have not revealed this to you…” when he declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:17ff). Any religion that attempts to bypass Christ as the revealer of God is liable to the charge of idol making. In Islam this is rather ironic, as with great gusto, the friends of Mohammed like to talk about how he cleaned Arabia of idols and instituted monotheism. Is it possible that in the process he created a monad of his own imagination? In Revelation 9:20 we read that even though severe plagues were launched against the earth, the people refused to repent of their idolatries and “the work of their own hands.” There seems to be a human predilection to creating works by their own hands. Yet, the Christ who came to reveal the Father, came to save His people from their sins, and these were people who did not
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Calvin, Institutes (Book 2, chapter 6:4). St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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come to him by natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will but were born of God (John 1:13). Since there is no Fatherhood in Islam, can we throw out the law of non-contradiction and say that even though Allah repudiates all characterization as Father, yet he can be equated to the Biblical God who is the Father, revealed by the Son? Thus Timothy George’s question is all the more poignant: Is the father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Can it be possible for the same God to say “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) and “Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son.” (Sura 4:171)? Christ was the ultimate example of exegeting the Father through the life he lived. He demonstrated the covenant keeping, faithful, all-powerful and holy nature of his Father. Muhammad as well, exegeted the god he served. Curiously the despotic, abrogating-ona-whim god of Islam, Allah, looks a lot like a larger-than-life Arab who catered to Mohammed’s needs.

3 Conclusion
We return to our title: Allah of Islam; The I AM of the Bible: Similar, the same or different? Similar? Yes. Allah is a title used for God by Arabic Christians and Muslims alike. Same? No. The name and nature of the deity of Islam, known as Allah, and the name and nature of the deity revealed in the OT and finally exegeted by Jesus as the I AM are radically discontinuous. Different? Yes. Perhaps Samuel Zwemer should have the last word:
Christian monotheism is as superior to Mohammedan monotheism as Christ is superior to Mohammed. There is no god but the Godhead. Islam itself is beginning to realize the strength of the Christian idea of
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God, and our chief prayer for the Moslem world should be that they may know the Only True God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. When the great Mohammedan world acknowledges the Fatherhood of God they will also understand the brotherhood of men and the mystery of Calvary.35

Questions for further consideration:
a. What constitutes legitimate continuity between the God of Islam and the I AM of the Bible? How can we communicate without compromise? b. Where there is radical discontinuity between the nature of the God revealed in the Bible and that of the God portrayed by Islam, how do we as I AM’s ambassadors communicate to Muslims? c. I AM alone is known by His saving acts, His comments about them and His comments about Himself, as finally and fully revealed in Christ. (Isaiah 43:3; 60:16; Hos 13:4) How might this affect our view of the gods of other religions? d. I AM demands exclusivity of his people as a “jealous God”. What are the ways this exclusivity can be compromised, and what are the ways it can be underlined? e. If I AM describes gods of other nations as “nothings” how should we view them? Could this influence our view of Allah of Islam and what he has communicated? f. If I AM forbids “the bowing down” - literally prostrating oneself before - and serving of non-gods or gods made by “human hands”, how might this affect those who advocate

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Samuel Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 120. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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that new believers should stay in a mosque and prostrate themselves to Allah of Islam there? g. Jesus, citing Deuteronomy 6:13, responded to Satan’s temptations by affirming unique worship of I AM (Luke 4:8). Does his affirmation of this OT stance have any bearing today? h. Consider three rhetorical questions posed by Ergun Mehmet and Emir Fethi Caner: • Is Allah [of Islam] triune? If not, then we are not talking about the same God • Does Allah [of Islam] have a son? If not (see Surah 19:88-92), then we are not discussing the same God. • Is Allah the vicarious Redeemer and atoning Lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world? If not, then we are not talking about the same God.36

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Caner, Unveiling Islam, p. 205 St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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WHAT’S SO BAD….?
A RESPONSE TO ABDUL ASAD’S RETHINKING THE INSIDER MOVEMENT DEBATE: GLOBAL HISTORICAL INSIGHTS TOWARD AN APPROPRIATE TRANSITIONAL MODEL OF C51

BY JOHN SPAN2 1 Introduction
With something of a flourish, it seems, Abdul Asad asks the question, “What’s so bad about being viewed as a strange new sect? This question refers to the views taken by some Christians and Muslims alike, that C4 and C5 adherents are a sect of some kind. Asad then goes on to say, “It was good enough for the early Church”. 3 In this paper, I hope to respond by looking at the way that early Christians saw themselves, and how others saw them. I hope to demonstrate that the descriptions given to Christians by others were not always pleasant. Christians themselves also found a creative way to link themselves to their Jewish roots, and yet show a distinction from Judaism. The statement, “[The early church] eventually took on a completely new identity...”, will be examined as well. The paper will begin by defining the term “sect” as it was used in New Testament times, and will assume that the author considers the early church as something that started with Jesus on earth, and more fully after Pentecost.

Abdul Asad, ‘Rethinking the Insider Movement Debate: Global Historical Insights Toward an Appropriate Transitional Model of C5’ in St Francis Magazine 5:4 (August 2009), www.stfrancismagazine.info. 2 John Span has served in mission in Guinea, West Africa, since 2000. 3 Asad, Rethinking, p. 151. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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2 Sect or Party defined
The Greek word for sect (hairesis), literally means a “choice”. It designates a sect, faction or a group united by common interests or beliefs: a school. Early on it was a neutral term that applied to a group or party that simply deviated from the norm. Paul called himself a member of the party (hairesis), of the Pharisees (Acts 26:5). The Sadducees also were a sect within Judaism (Acts 5:17). When loyalties were challenged, however, the word could take on negative connotations, and thus those who followed the way (Acts 24:14) were called a sect by the Jewish authorities. Spiros Zodhiates sheds some helpful light on the distinction between schisms which he sees as “an actual tearing apart” and haíresis which may “represent a divergent opinion but still be part of a whole.” He notes that the possibility exists that “one can hold different views than the majority and remain in the same body.” From there, however, he notes that “heresy may lead to schism which is when actual tearing off and separation occur.”4 As the church developed, however, the word began to take on darker connotations, and it was applied to groups holding opinions contrary to the truths of the gospel established by the apostles. When it came to factions within the church, Paul minced no words (1 Cor 11:19; Gal 5:20). Kittel suggests that the concept of ekklesia and hairesis “are material opposites. The latter cannot accept the former; the former excludes the latter.”5 The apostles took great pains to show the lines of demarcation between what was considered true or false teaching and, by extension, true or false followers or parties (1 Cor 11:19). Elwell notes:
4 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000, c1992, c1993), G139. 5 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vols. 5-9 Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10, Compiled by Ronald Pitkin., ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), 1:182-183.

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Eventually, the word “heresy” came to connote the particular teaching that caused certain ones to break away from orthodoxy. Thus, Peter warned Christians about various false teachers who would try to deceive believers with their heretical teachings (2 Pt 2:1). In the modern era, this is how the word “heresy” is usually understood; it is unorthodox and/or false teaching that damages the faith of certain believers and also causes divisive factions within the church.6

Thus we see the word ‘sect’ starting out as a word with neutral connotations and becoming one associated with aberrational teaching.

3 What Christians were called by others
Since Christianity sprang up in Jewish soil, it would make sense that Jewish people would view these followers of Jesus in ways that were either continuous or discontinuous with Judaism. As it spread to Antioch, another name reflecting Greco-Roman culture was added. 3.1 Galileans Jesus performed most of his public ministry in the region of Galilee, and it was from there that 11 out his 12 disciples came. (Judas was Judean). As well, Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth was in the region of Galilee and so Jesus was called a Galilean. Henry Holloman observes that Galileans were often viewed with contempt by Judean Jews, due to their “racial mixture, differences in speech, and location” (John 1:46; 7:41, 52).7 In Luke 22:59 and Acts 2:7 the name Galilean similarly was applied with contempt to the disciples of Jesus.
6

Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), p. 596. 7 Elwell, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, p. 836. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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Whether the title given to Simon Peter at the time of Jesus’ trial, ”he is a Galilean”, had to do with his following of Jesus, his accent, or his ethnic look is a subject of discussion by commentators. Similarly, the title, “men of Galilee” (Acts 1:11) could have to do with their place of origin. Galilee is also the area in which Judaism assumed its definitive form, ultimately producing the Mishnah and Palestinian Talmud.8 Jesus’ detractors saw him as an agitator, not unlike the charge that was given to Paul by Tertullus. Luke 23:5 reads, ‘But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."’ Epictetus (AD 50?–135?), a Roman philosopher, used the title with commendation, rather than a slur, as he was impressed with how Christians died for their faith. Elwell comments, “It is not clear how common the title of Galilean was, but it had obviously spread from Judea to Rome, where Epictetus lived.”9 Flavius Claudius Julianus, the Roman emperor (A.D. 361–363), called Christ “the Galilean God” and made a law that all Christians must be called Galileans. He apparently hoped to end the use of the name “Christian.”10 3.2 Nazarenes The close association of Jesus to Nazareth started with the annunciation to Mary in that town (Luke 1:26). His parents returned there after his birth (Luke 2:4) and his public ministry starts in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21) with an attempted stoning after his first sermon. Ordinary Jewish people (Luke 18:37), disciPaul J. Achtemeier, Publishers Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper's Bible Dictionary, Includes Index. 1st ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 330. 9 Elwell, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, p. 836. 10 Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Rev. Ed. of: Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary; Includes Index. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995). St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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ples (Luke 24:19), evil spirits (Luke 4:34), Pilate (John 19:19), the apostles (Acts 3:6) and Jesus himself (Acts 22:8) all call him “Jesus of Nazareth.” Luke, who uses this title more than any other gospel writer, affirms Jesus’ ministry: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.” (Acts 10:34). Like the word, Galilee, there was a less than congratulatory aspect to this town. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathaniel asked (John 1:46). Tenney and Packer note: “Nazareth was considered to be a crude, backward place; so many non-Christians scornfully called Jesus’ followers “the sect [hairesis] of the Nazarenes.”11 This was done by Tertullus in a not so subtle dig at the Apostle Paul (Acts 24:5) during his crossexamination of Paul before Felix the governor, and he referred to Paul in a similar way that Jesus had been referred to, namely an “agitator/ringleader.” Jerome Neyrey notes: “He [.i.e. Tertullus] implies that Paul stands totally out of the mainstream of Jewish theology, and that he propounds heretical doctrines. Paul's apology defends his orthodoxy, in this case, his claim to be solidly loyal to the traditions about Israel's God.”12 Whether Christians used the title “followers of the Nazarene” or “Nazarenes” for themselves is doubtful, although Elwell shows that later Jewish-Christian and Gnostic groups called themselves “Nazarenes” and had writings called The Gospel of the Nazarenes.13
11 J.I. Packer, Merrill Chapin Tenney and William White, Nelson's Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995), p. 357. 12 Jerome Neyrey, ‘Epicureans and the Areopagus Speech: Stereotypes and Theodicy’, on www.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/epicureans.html (Accessed 8/11/2008) 13 It is noteworthy that Glenn Miller (www.christian-thinktank.com/qnazonly.html Accessed 10/22/2009) in drawing conclusions from the works of Ray A. Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity (pp. 108ff.) and Stephen Wilson, Related Strangers: Jews and Christians 70-170 ce. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995, reprinted 2004 (pp.

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3.3 Christians “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) From Jerusalem, Christianity reached Antioch in Syria, and there the gospel was heard by Jews and Gentiles. As the name of Christ was heard frequently on the lips of the followers of Jesus, in Antioch, the locals likely assumed a situation similar to the “Augustinians”: the “Augustinians” were known as the “household” or “partisans” of the emperor Nero Augustus. Similarly, Kistemaker notes that the members of Caesar’s household, soldiers, and public officials called themselves Kaisarianoi to demonstrate their allegiance to the Roman emperor.14 In each case the praise and identification with their hero was front and center. This was the ultimate compliment to the Christians, but likely the citizens of Antioch had intended it as a slur and according to Elwell, ‘“Christ” was an unusual and meaningless name to Gentiles, but Chrestos (meaning “good” or “kind”) was a common name; some pagans called the new sect “Chrestians”. Thus Suetonius wrote of the Jews being expelled from Rome in AD 49 on account of “Chrestus”.’15 It was Peter who made the association between being a Christfollower, or one with the praise of Christ on his lips, and who faced the reality of persecution (I Peter 4:16). “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

155-156) concludes that the Nazarenes were ‘very orthodox, very early and very “universal” in outlook.’ 14 Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, Vol. 17, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, Accompanying Biblical Text Is Author's Translation. New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), p. 423. 15 Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Map on Lining Papers (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1988), p. 431. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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King Agrippa called Paul a Christian and asked, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26.28) Kistemaker comments:
In the light of Agrippa’s remark to Paul and the context of Peter’s comments to his readers, we are inclined to think that the enemies of the faith ascribed this name to the Christians.16

In each case, these titles were most likely given to followers of Jesus by others than themselves. Rather than titles of commendation, each of the titles had a potentially derogatory tone. It seems the disciple is not above his Master (John 13:16). Ironically, it was the likes of the pagan Epictetus was gave a commendation for the willingness of Christians to die for their faith.

4 A name used by Christians themselves and by others
4.1 Followers of the Way The term was used 6 times as a title in the book of Acts: Acts 9:1-2 - people belonging to the Way were to be imprisoned under Saul’s directives Acts 19:8-9 - stubborn people were speaking evil of the Way Acts 19:23-24 - no little disturbance concerning the Way in Ephesus Acts 22:3-5 - Paul prior to his conversion persecuted the Way to the death Acts 24:14-15 - Paul clarifies that the Way is not deviant, Acts 24:22 - Felix had rather accurate knowledge of the Way

16 Kistemaker, Acts of the Apostles, p. 423. See also Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, Translation of: Exegetisches Worterbuch Zum Neuen Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990-c1993), 3:478.

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Additionally the Christ-followers also referred to their religious loyalty and its doctrinal contents as “the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17), “the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25) or “the way of God” (Acts 18:26). Second Peter also refers to “the way of righteousness” (2:21), “the right way” (2:15) and the “way of truth”. These terms are all consistent with belonging to the school, with its ethical and moral demands of the Master who called Himself “The Way” (John 14:6). The Old Testament antecedents for the use of this term are clear as the Hebrew term for following God’s way was referred to as “a walk” or “path” (Hebrew: derek). It has been defined as “way (path, road, highway); distance; journey; manner, conduct; condition; destiny.”17 It emphasized a complete way of life and whole-hearted devotion. It also suggested a pilgrim or migrant existence with a destination either in the Promised Land in the OT or the celestial city in the NT. Isaiah refers to the way of holiness (Is 35:8-10) and the way of the Lord (Isa 40:3). McCasland suggests that “The Way” of Acts derives from Isaiah 40:3 more than from the Jewish concept of a way of life.18 It is likely that Paul used this knowledge in his defense before Tertullus and suggested that his Christian faith was not a departure from Judaism but was a fulfillment of it, and thus should be protected as a form of Judaism under Roman law. Robertson suggests that Paul claims Christianity to be the real (whole, catholic) Judaism, not a “sect” of it.19 The Way has exclusive overtones to it. It signifies a distinct commitment, a distinct cause, and a distinct destination. This dis-

W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1996), 1:284. 18 S. V. McCasland, “The Way,” JBL 77 (1958): 222–30. 19 A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol.V c1932, Vol.VI c1933 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1997), Acts 24:14. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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tinctiveness, no doubt is what caused the reactions to it that are described in Acts: disturbance, persecution, speaking evil of it. 4.2 Names used uniquely by Christians among themselves: Along with the names Christian, and followers of the Way, Christ’s followers called themselves believers (Acts 5:14), brothers (Acts 6:3), saints (Acts 9:13) or the church (Acts 12.1). These names continued to be used as the early church spread geographically.

5 A Response to Rethinking…. C5
By means of a catechetical method - using questions and answers Abdul Asad attempts to demonstrate his position. His words appear in bold. 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. By means of his leading question it would appear that Asad is examining external perceptions of a movement. He then moves his argument on from there. However, to be labeled as a “strange new sect” and to angle towards creating one, as the Insider Movement appears to be doing, are two quite different things. The titles of Galilean, Nazarene, and Christian, all had a sectarian bias to them. Each was a way of showing to whom these followers of Jesus the Messiah belonged. To those who were not Jesus-followers the lines were clear. The titles they used identified the Jesus-followers as distinct, and unique. Each of these titles carried a derogatory connotation as well. One wonders if the author is prescribing, rather than describing a situation where a more “gray” classification of Mus-tian 20or
20

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Christ-lim exists.21 It is a historical fact that as long as Christianity was seen as a sect within Judaism, it had the protection of the Roman Empire.22 Under Roman law, Judaism was exempt from emperor worship. Tim Dowley suggests that once a number of Gentiles joined the early church, the protection clause ceased, and Christians who refused to capitulate to emperor worship paid a high price. Peter anticipated this situation by clearly showing that identification with the name of Christ would involve suffering and anticipates the possibility of followers being ashamed of that name. Might Asad be looking for ways, as some early Christians were also tempted to do, to avoid any kind of reproach that comes with the name of Christ? A few lines later, he himself states, It has been well established that anything viewed as a ‘Christian’ movement will not make it very far in the Islamic world. The Scriptural data refutes that the early church embraced being viewed as a “strange new sect.” Paul, in his defense before Felix, actually took great pains to show that this was not the case. Rather, he turned attention to the Jewish holistic concept of following a certain path, and showed that what he followed was a more complete Way than Judaism itself. Paul demonstrated that in following Christ he was more orthodox in completing the Mosaic requirements than his detractors. …. and eventually [the early church] took on a completely new identity. What is the new identity that it took on? “Completely” is a wide generalization. Does the author suggest that the church took on a
A combination of Christ-ian and Mus-lim equaling “Christlim” Tim Dowley, J. H. Y. Briggs, Robert Dean Linder and David F. Wright, Introduction to the History of Christianity, Originally Published: 1995; Includes Indexes (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002), p. 82.
22 21

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“completely new identity”, or that it was given one by the outside? Granted, as per above, as the early church ceased to be seen as a Jewish sect, it encountered the wrath of the Roman Empire. Thus it went from having an identity of being seen as subversive and heretical by Judean Judaism,23 to being seen as subversives who were not patriotic to the Roman Empire. This was a part of its Godordained development. The titles given to Christians continued and were ways to discredit their identity, not to affirm it. One must ask, “What is the scriptural basis for this statement?” The early church’s identity as those who were of the “school of Christ”, “of the party of those who mouthed his praises”, “of those who were committed, heart and soul, to His unique Way to the Father,” was a part of the Jesus-follower identity from the beginning. Church history attests to the fact that this identity remained constant. 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. Where is the justification for the second sweeping generalization? The data of Acts showed that a Christian movement made it very far in the Greco-Roman/Jewish world, whose hostility is well documented.24 The data of the entire Scriptures show that the Kingdom of God advances in spite of hostile opposition. Asad would seem to suggest that there is something intrinsically differF.F. Bruce, Acts (1998), p. 440 fn 14. With reference to the audience of I Peter, Karen Jobes notes: “Because of their Christian faith, they were being marginalized by their society, alienated in their relationships, and threatened with—if not experiencing—a loss of honor and socioeconomic standing (and possibly worse).” Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), p. 1
24 23

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ent about the push-back to Christianity originating in the Islamic world. Is this a scriptural view? Why this inordinate pre-occupation with how one is viewed? The footnote referred to by Asad, authored by Massey suggests the same.25 The question is not ultimately how one is viewed by a Muslim. The question is, how does the One with “eyes of fire” (Revelation 2:18) see his followers? The data of the early church show that it was not overly concerned about how it was viewed. It was willing to take the reproach for any epithet that was given and to set the record straight if necessary. They did not need to use clever re-naming of themselves, clever chameleon practices, or clever dual-citizenships. Unfortunately, as well, the author who has liberally used the ‘solas’ of the Reformation in his paper seems to have fallen into a trap of ‘sola’ technique. He shows this by the following question: Why not embrace the idea of being seen as a strange new sect within Islam itself, as we have seen from the Sufis that it can be done? The slippery slope from a school or a party with some unique, yet neutral characteristics, to one of schism or heterodox theology was shown above. Add to that, the fact that most of the aberrational ideas about Christianity in Islam were a result of contact with “Christian sects”. History shows that Muhammed, himself, was largely influenced by Bishop Waraqa Ibn Nufal, the Ebionite cousin of his first wife, Khadija. Ebionite doctrine denied the deity of Christ, and stated that his mission was to be an example, not a redeemer. The Qur’an directly reflects this teaching. As much as Asad’s question comes across as innocuous, it contains an agenda. It is a disarming setup for the next dogmatic
Fn 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!” St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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statement. It uses the example of Sufis as a precedent to justify the creation of a “strange new sect”. Would not a closer look at how the Jesus-followers embraced His Way have yielded a more fruitful response? Asad then proceeds to close his section with the following statement: 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. Would it be wrong to assume that the author equates being “found out” with something bad? This seems quite contrary to the Biblical examples shown above. One cannot help but think that the ability to blend in is tantamount to gospel in the author’s eyes, and sin is the essence of being shown for what one is. Compare this to a statement from the Babylonian Talmud made to would-be proselytes to Judaism who were expected to adopt the mission and position of the Jewish people:
A proselyte who comes to convert at this time, we say to him: Why did you decide to convert? Do you not know that Israel at this time is afflicted, oppressed, down-trodden, and rejected, and that tribulations are visited upon them?26

I am sure it can be done in certain situations (probably within Sufism where ‘new identities’ are welcomed). In an orthodox area though, a C5 identity would be more beneficial. I am sure…. What sweeping confidence! Would that it was in the gospel! More beneficial… Beneficial to whom, or to what? The
26 J. Ramsey Michaels, vol. 49, Word Biblical Commentary: 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002) p. li, referring to Babylonian Talmud, Yeb 47a–b as cited by H. Schiffmann, “At the Crossroads: Tannaitic Perspectives on the Jewish-Christian Schism,” in Jewish and Christian SelfDefinition II [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981], p. 124.

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anthropocentric approach already given would likely yield its own answer. As much as Abdul Asad’s questions seem to be innocuous, they are used strategically to disarm the reader. They are positioned to set the reader up to accept the next dogmatic statement that comes after the question. The question that a discerning reader must ask is whether the dogmatic statement is true, and on what authority it is based on.

6 Conclusion:
What is essentially a subtle promotion piece for the insider strategies, coming dangerously close, it seems, to the Apostle Paul’s charge of “cunning” (2 Cor 7:2; 11:1-4), fails to take into account the Biblical data. It seems to side-step the reproach that would be engendered by all of the titles given to the early Christian church, and even those adopted by the early church itself. The scriptural warnings about the slide to heresy and schism seem to be overlooked. It is lamentable that this piece falls within a larger paper that liberally uses the phrases for the ‘solas’ of the Reformation, but largely ignores their content.

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MAKING SENSE OF CONTEXTUALIZATION: A GUIDE ON SETTING PARAMETERS FOR CHURCH PLANTERS
BY TIMOTHY HERALD1

1 Introduction
The continued discussion between “accommodationists” and “rejectionists”2 involved in church planting3 in the Muslim world is exhausting. This discussion is not confined to academia and journals. In fact, as I encounter church planting teams from various geographical areas of Dar Al-Islam and from varying denominational backgrounds and sending agencies, it is the topic of conversation among practitioners both green and veteran. And it seems most hold fairly strong opinions on the topic. Because of the amount of heat these discussions tend to produce, the thought of
A pseudonym. Timothy is involved in church planting among Muslims in several contexts. His primary work is among Arab Muslims. He is available via email at herald.tim@gmail.com. 2 These two terms will be used throughout this article. Rejectionists are those who view Islam as a religion only and have an entirely negative opinion of it. Accommodationists are those who view Islam as a culture or civilization with some redeemable forms (though a spectrum certainly exists). This terminology was developed by Duane Alexander Miller in a rudimentary form in ‘Reappropriation: An Accommodationist Hermeneutic of Islamic Christianity’ in St. Francis Magazine 5:3 (June 2009) and he expands upon his “two stream hypothesis” in an unpublished article entitled, ‘The Two Stream Hypothesis in Islamic Christianity: Accommodationists and Rejectionists.’ From my perspective, his terminology is much clearer than many of the ambiguous terms often used and misused in the missiological community (i.e. C5, Extractionist, Insider, Contextual, etc). 3 One might ask, “What is a church?” or “What do you mean by church planting?” Unfortunately my opinions of exactly what a church is and is not are beyond the scope of this article and, though some of them will come out in the body of this article, for the most part we will have to be content with a quite simplistic working definition. Namely, a church is a group of people who view themselves as a community committed to following Jesus as revealed in the Bible. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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joining in and having my thoughts picked apart by those entrenched on either side is not appealing at all. Yet, however hesitantly, I am submitting these thoughts. This is primarily at the insistence of fellow co-laborers who have convinced me that the way in which I set parameters could help others in processing through the differing philosophies of ministry that are being discussed both in missiological literature and around the kitchen table of practitioners worldwide. In this article, I will first make an attempt to identify exactly what the issues are. That is, by what categories do we evaluate the health of a Muslim background congregation? After proposing the categories, I will go on to offer suggestions as to what some standards of evaluation in these categories should be. Further, I intend to deal with the often inflammatory question of Muslim background congregations’ views on the Qur’an/Muhammad4 and the question of whether or not a congregation who claims to belong to Jesus as revealed in the Bible can retain an Islamic identity and remain healthy. The final section, rather than being a typical conclusion or summary will deal with suggestions on how both accommodationists and rejectionists might apply this information.

2 The Problem(s)
Currently, our family’s service to the Kingdom carries us throughout the Muslim world. As a result we are forced to continually evaluate various ministries as we consider partnerships. One of the key questions in our determining whether or not to partner with a church planting team is, what are they trying to plant? We must
The questions of “Who is Muhammad?” and “What is the Qur’an?” are really one in the same. To affirm that Muhammad received revelation from God is to affirm the revelation (Qur’an) has a divine origin. Or to affirm the Qur’an as having a divine origin is to affirm the messenger (Muhammad) as one who speaks on God’s behalf (a prophet). St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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consider different aspects of the hoped for fruit. Different church structures (traditional, cell or house) and types of leadership (majority rule, plurality of elders or single leader) exist as well as varying doctrinal distinctives (Reformed, charismatic, etc) and, of course, varying degrees of contextualization in many areas of life and worship (clothing, language, liturgy, identity, etc). Views on structures, leadership and doctrinal distinctives are easy enough to determine. Reformed means Reformed and house church network means house church network. However, when it comes to contextualization, it is notable that virtually no one uses terminology in the same way. To some “C5” means cross-cultural church planters praying in the mosque, and to others it means trying to win people to Jesus with the Qur’an. Neither of these is what Travis intended when he developed the C-scale.5 The same can be said of the terms “insider,” “extractionist,” etc. Adding to the difficulty is the tendency of a few to look down upon those whose philosophy of ministry differs from their own - and even fewer who use language that can seem to demonize their brethren. The aforementioned factors have worked in a synergistic fashion to nudge some in the world of Muslim ministry to avoid wearing any particular badge and refraining from being forthcoming with their views on the whole subject. This has caused me no small amount of grief when trying to figure out exactly where a church planting team falls in terms of contextualization. As a result I have developed some principles in determining whether or not a church planting team is working toward healthy church or unhealthy syncretism.6 My hope is that in applying this method
See Travis, John, ‘The C1 to C6 Spectrum’ in Evangelical Mission Quarterly 34:4 (October 1998) and Travis, John, ‘Messianic Muslim Follower of Isa: A Closer Look at C5 Believers and Congregations’ in International Journal of Frontier Missions 17:1 (Spring 2000). 6 While it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss rejectionist parameters, it does seem worthy to note that I am equally concerned with avoiding an extractionist philosophy of ministry. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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with those involved in the current debate (whether as defenders of a position or simply as observers), both sides will reconsider the standard by which they judge their methodology and the methodology of other church planting teams.

3 Where are we going?
First, it is significant to note that we do not evaluate a church planting team based upon where one of their infant churches is right now. Certainly evaluating the current situation is important to understanding in which areas discipleship should be focused. However, in determining whether or not a team is trying to plant a healthy church or an overly syncretistic church, it is more important to find out where the team envisions the church going. For example, the Apostle Paul would probably prefer we did not judge his church planting team based on the behavior of the Corinthian church just before he wrote his first letter to them in which he dealt with the corporate affirmation of adultery, issues of division and even gluttony in the presence of hungry brothers and sisters. Rather, it seems better to judge his team’s service based upon where they were attempting to lead the church at Corinth. The same could be said of all of his team’s church plants – as none was perfect. In applying this concept, we might consider not stopping at asking whether or not a congregation baptizes, but adding a follow-up question such as: “What do you think about this?” or, “What do you think the ideal situation would be?” The second answer lets us know where the church planting team is attempting to lead the new believers. I mention this at the outset of this article because in reading the discussions on both sides, it seems we are assuming what the local church is like right now is what it will always be. This is not a good assumption. Rather, we all know that a new believer’s theology and practice will change with time. In the same manner, the theology and praxis of groups of young believers will change over
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time. This change may be healthy or unhealthy. So the question is, “Where are they going?”

4 The Criteria
4.1 Need for criteria Understanding that we are evaluating what the church planting team is praying the end community be like, the next question is: “What are the criteria by which we evaluate?” Abdul Asad7 has argued that the goal should be a downward shift in the C-scale. So, a church that begins as a C5 community is not in danger of becoming unhealthy as long as it is making progress to C4. But a content C5 congregation being influenced by the planting team that is content with C5 is not a good situation. I appreciate Abdul Asad bringing up the question of “Where are we going?” Yet the Cscale is, for the most part, misunderstood and highly inflammatory in Muslim ministry circles.8 Different people have differing understandings of what C4 and C5 really are.9 Due to this, it seems wise
7

See Abdul Asad, ‘Rethinking the Insider Movement Debate: Global Historical Insights’ in St. Francis Magazine 5:4 (August 2009). 8 Abdul Asad actually seems to misunderstand the scale himself when he makes distinctions between C4 and C5 with regard to theology and praxis. The only difference between C4 and C5, according to Travis, is identity. Are they a strange kind of Christian or a strange kind of Muslim? This was my initial understanding of his C-scale (see footnote 5 above) upon reading it and was confirmed in a conversation with Travis in 2008. This non-uniform use of language is one of the major issues in the whole contextualization discussion. With terminology that is almost universally applied in an inconsistent manner, we must drop some of the misunderstood terminology and be clear in articulating what we are attempting to plant. 9 This may also vary according to one’s organizational policies. I recently visited with an American brother who holds two degrees in missiology and serves with a decidedly “non-C5” organization. Upon describing a particular movement in the Islamic world to him, he commented it was wonderful. I asked him where it fell on the C-scale. His response was, “Definitely C4.” Yet when describing the St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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to clearly state where it is we are praying a congregation goes. My proposal is that exploring ideals in the areas of narrative beliefs, doctrinal beliefs, virtue and ritual practices would provide a better picture of what a team is attempting to accomplish. While I have made four categories for the sake of evaluation, it is notable that each of these categories affects the other categories. Among Evangelicals in the West, I often hear the phrase “orthodoxy begets orthopraxy”. This is true, but this truth does not preclude orthopraxy begetting orthodoxy. What I mean here is that all four areas (narrative belief, doctrinal belief, virtue and ritual) affect one another. Due to my upbringing in a very secular society that tends to compartmentalize various aspects of life (and thus different aspects of faith), it has taken me living among Muslims in a Near Eastern context to understand this. Yet it is true. Both Eastern Orthodox Christians and Muslims are quite aware that while doctrinal belief affects behavior and ritual, ritual also informs belief. This is why I think it necessary to evaluate all four aspects, rather than simply doctrinal beliefs, when considering overall health. 4.2 Narrative Narrative (historical events) is what our faith is based upon: what Jesus did, how he behaved, with whom he spoke, what he said, how he died, his empty tomb. This is what is meant by narrative – history, the very human stuff. And these things are absolutely foundational to our entire faith – this narrative drives everything else. To state it in the negative: if our narrative is inaccurate, then our faith is futile.10 With this in mind, it is clear that the narrative upon which a congregation bases its beliefs, practices and life in general is absolutely foundational to evaluating a congregation.
same movement to John Travis in 2008, he claimed it was “an excellent example of a biblical C5 movement.” 10 1 Corinthians 15:17 St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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Since inconsistency in the Gospel Narrative causes everything else to fall apart, this is an area of primary importance and we must set some standard for it and be diligent in evaluating this area. Fortunately, inconsistency in the Gospel Narrative does not seem to be an issue among either accommodationists or rejectionists. In fact, it seems that even the most accommodationistic teams stay quite true to the Gospel Narrative by reappropriating Islamic literature to aid those they are ministering to in coming to accept the Gospel Story.11 Although this is not an issue with church planting teams on either end of the spectrum, it remains important to establish standards. (The effects of Liberal Protestantism in the West should be enough to encourage us to safeguard against the skewing and twisting of the Gospel Narrative.) An excellent standard would be the Apostles’ Creed. It is primarily narrative, universally affirmed, brief and ancient. Regardless of whether a congregation is rejectionist or accommodationist, if they cannot affirm the Apostles’ Creed, further teaching is in order.12 And, if a team is not willing to lead a congregation toward affirming such a basic confession of the Gospel Narrative, significant concerns should be raised regarding exactly upon what a congregation they are planting will base their entire faith.

This can also occur even when the church planting team has a rejectionist philosophy of ministry. In one instance I was introduced to a group of indigenous leaders by a rejectionist church planting team. The team spoke the national trade language but not Arabic (the heart language of the people). As I asked questions in Arabic, it became clear that most of the indigenous brothers and sisters developed and used a highly accommodationistic method of proclaiming the Gospel Narrative. Yet they did not desire the expatriate team to know this. Perhaps they were C4 to their local community while presenting themselves as C3 to the expatriate team! 12 We must bear in mind that affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed is not what is required to “be saved” or “enter the Kingdom.” It is, however a good standard as the goal for a congregation to affirm. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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4.3 Virtue Paul dealt with extensive behavioral issues with the congregation at Corinth. We should expect to do the same. In determining a minimal standard for Muslim background congregations, we would do well to consider Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”. It is one of the most beautiful and challenging teachings on Kingdom life in the Bible. In it Jesus calls his people not only to purity in behavior, but to purity in heart and intention as well. To have eyes and ears that see and hear in the world as Jesus did is the goal of the congregation that is following hard after God. The reason the Sermon on the Mount serves as an excellent standard is due to its understandability to the congregation from a Muslim background (cultural nearness) and its counter-cultural message within that same society.13 And we should have serious concerns about a church planting team that will not affirm obedience to Christ’s commands in the Sermon on the Mount as a goal for behavior among the congregations they are planting. Yet as we seek to evaluate the behavioral standards of a church planting team by the Sermon on the Mount, we would also do well to keep in mind our own failures and those failures our sending congregations have had and continue to have in the West. If those in an Islamic context who come into the Kingdom practicing polygamy or spousal abuse challenge us, we need only to look at the divorce rate (serial monogamy) and spousal abuse statistics among Christians in the West for a gentle reminder that all congregations struggle in living out their faith. But regardless of the particular sin, the goal remains the same – transformed lives fully obedient to God and repentance when we fail to live out Jesus’ standard.

13 It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into how and why the Sermon on the Mount is at once understandable and challenging to those from a Muslim background. Nevertheless, almost anyone who has read through it with a Muslim will affirm both its cultural nearness and its radical message to Islamic society.

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4.4 Doctrine There is no doubt that doctrine (correct intellectual belief) is the major concern rejectionists have with accommodationists. A brief note here concerning how Christianity has been contextualized in the West may assist in understanding why this is such a significant discussion among Western Christians working in Dar Al-Islam. While multiple factors exist, our Greco-Roman heritage, the Reformation and the Enlightenment are probably the most significant contributors to our focus on doctrine in the West. Because of the aforementioned philosophical and intellectual influences, our civilization as a whole is enamored with philosophy and correct thought and, thus, correct intellectual belief. This concern within our society has driven what questions we ask in general in day-to-day life. Specific to this discussion, it has driven what questions we ask of God and the Bible. Our questions tend to be concerned not simply with behavior (i.e. obeying God), but with understanding the behavior as well (i.e. why God requires us to do such and such). This emphasis is not bad at all. In fact it has many strengths. Yet we must be aware that our contextualization of Christianity focuses on correct doctrine, and that sometimes it is at the expense of virtue, ritual and narrative.14 In the case of the Western believer, congregation or church planting team that does focus on doctrine to the neglect of the other areas of faith, we would do well to repent of worshipping God with our minds only.15

Contrast this with Eastern Orthodoxy (much closer geographically, culturally and liturgically to Islam than Western Evangelicalism) which emphasizes liturgy over doctrine. For an excellent primer on Eastern Orthodoxy see Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (London: Penguin, 1997). 15 The issues over which we break fellowship in the Western Evangelical tradition are evidence of this. We tend to form new congregations, denominations, etc due to disagreements over doctrine, not virtue. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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Having some understanding of why the question of correct doctrine is so significant to this discussion, we must confess that not all beliefs are of equal importance. Some beliefs are essential to the Faith, others are distinctive to a particular expression of Christianity and others are simply guesses, assumptions, traditions and opinions. In understanding where a church planting team envisions the new congregation going, I would propose we stick to the essentials. But what standard should we use? Because the Nicene Creed at once covers the essentials, is brief, ancient and ecumenical, it makes for an excellent standard.16 And again, the question is not whether or not the congregation currently affirms it. Rather, “Is the doctrinal goal that they affirm it and are they being instructed to do so?” At this point, rejectionists might say, ‘Well, that does it! There is no way those “Muslim followers of Jesus” will ever affirm that Jesus is “begotten of the Father”’. This reaction is a failure to see that an actual pilgrimage occurs. It is doubtful the thief on the cross could have articulated the Nicene Creed – he was a new brother. We must walk with our brothers and sisters not only prior to their entering the Kingdom but in the early stages of the congregation’s formation as well. And, just as we do prior to a Muslim entering the Kingdom, we must continue to affirm that which is correct doctrine and use wisdom in discerning which errors to address first and how to address them.17

For a fuller consideration of Nicene Christianity as a contextual form in the Islamic World, see Abu Daoud, ‘Mission and Sacrament Part III: A Paleo-Orthodox Approach to Contextualization in the Muslim World’, St. Francis Magazine 5:2 (April 2009). 17 It seems the Apostle Paul was gentle “like a nursing mother” at times and at other times he was quite bold in rebuking. We would do well to follow Paul’s example in being sensitive to the leading of the Spirit when determining whether we strongly rebuke or gently encourage as we walk with our new brethren. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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In any case, “Muslim believers” do exist all over the Islamic world, and they are living proof that it is possible for our brethren within Islamic society to affirm the Nicene Creed. In fact, when we are not so hurried that we try to pick green fruit and instead wait on the Spirit’s timing, they are often quite open to understanding it in its context. What I mean here is that the congregation may very well say, “We prefer not to use some of the Nicene terminology because it has negative connotations in our society and brings up negative imagery in our minds, but we certainly affirm it in its context.” And this is our desire – that they are not only sensitive to their own situation (culture, language, etc), but also grasp the situation of others.18 Yet this is a process and we cannot expect a new congregation to come to this conclusion upon conversion in all instances. Even the Thessalonian congregation held beliefs that ran contrary to the Nicene Creed.19 On the other hand, some accommodationists might say, “Well that is not good. That creed is not the Bible and we should leave it up to the local congregation to determine their creed or statement of beliefs.”20 The issue here is just the same. One who says this fails to realize these are new brothers and sisters. While we do not require them to have it all together to enter the Kingdom, they do need to grow. And we must ask if God’s Spirit is really at work in these dear people if He is not leading them to the same minimal doctrinal affirmation He has led the rest of His people for centu18 And not simply the particular questions being asked at Nicea, but also the language used to articulate the answers. For example, “begotten of the Father” or “only begotten of the Father” certainly carries a significantly different concept in Latin or Greek in the fourth century than it does in Arabic or Urdu or Mandarin in the 21st century. This awareness in a congregation indicates a great deal of maturity in thought. 19 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 20 Those who hold to such a view might consider that Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Nestorianism, Oriental Orthodoxy, Western Protestantism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and even Branch Davidians claim to be consistent with the Bible and some have quite different creedal statements.

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ries21 - again, not that they would even use it in their worship, but that they would come to the place where they could affirm it in its context. If a team is uncomfortable with teaching beliefs as ancient and as accepted among God’s people as those of the Nicene Creed, we should have some serious concerns about what kind of congregations they envision planting. 4.5 Rituals Baptism and communion are the two universally accepted rituals among God’s people, baptism being the initiation ritual and communion being the ritual indicating continued fellowship and good standing among the brethren. There is no wisdom here in bickering over terminology. If a congregation wants to reappropriate a word identified with ritual purity practices in their context (i.e. alghusl al-‘adhiim), so be it. If they want to transliterate baptism as we have in English, so be it. The point is that they are practicing the ritual that identifies them with Jesus and his people. Most accommodationists I have interacted with have no problem with this. These two rituals are their goal as well. I can however think of two who have expressed to me they see no need to impose such a custom on our brethren. When asked why, they reply that it is not necessary and the brethren do not want to be baptized. Again, this is a failure to understand that people are on a pilgrimage and growing in their faith. This is a rite instituted by our Lord, which was applied to Jew and Gentile alike throughout Acts and, to my knowledge, has not been abrogated. We should earnestly pray for, walk with and gently instruct our brothers and sisters as they come to understand the significance of these two rituals. This is why church planting teams exist – to walk with the
21 Furthermore, contrary to some of the individualistic missiological theories emanating from Western Evangelicalism, the New Testament model is interdependence. Local congregations within the Universal Church should learn from and be taught by one another regardless of their background.

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brethren as they take those initial steps towards maturity. Due to the centrality of both baptism and communion to our common Faith, we should have serious concerns about a church planting team that does not envision a congregation that baptizes and participates in communion. To those who would be critical of the lack of understanding some new congregations demonstrate with regard to baptism and communion, we would do well to remember that many of our “mature” congregations are full of baptized people who take communion on a regular basis but live like hell. Is it a greater sin to misunderstand the two rituals the Lord instituted because of immaturity or to eat and drink judgment upon oneself? Again, the question is not whether they have it all together – they do not. Rather, the question is where is the congregation headed?

5 Muhammad and the Qur’an
First, I do not consider Muhammad to be a prophet of God or the Qur’an to be the Word of God. Second, I do highly respect Muhammad for several reasons and I do think he worked hard to bring his people to a place of unity and to the worship of God. His striving in this is commendable, but it does not make him a prophet of God in the biblical sense. Further, I have serious concerns about the three church planters I have met who affirm Muhammad as a prophet of God and the Qur’an as God’s Word. To balance this strong statement, I would like to add that those same serious concerns exist with regard to the many church planters I have met who believe pointing out the negative aspects of Muhammad (denigrating him) and attempting to discredit the Qur’an are essential to an effective witness. With those clarifications out of the way, I do not understand the problem some seem to have with a Muslim who comes to faith in Jesus as the Way to God, affirms the Gospel Narrative and whose
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life is transforming but still holds Muhammad in high esteem. I have met several such young brothers and have found their zeal for God and spreading the Gospel to be quite refreshing. One example may suffice here: When asking one younger brother (three years in the Faith) from an Arab Muslim background about his thoughts on Muhammad, he expressed to me that he sees Muhammad as a kind of prophet who pointed to Jesus. When asked about his views of Jesus, he said Jesus is divine and the Savior; that Jesus died and rose again and is the only path to God. When asked about the Qur’an, he said it is the Word of God.22 When asked about the Bible, he said it is the Word of God. When asked how he reconciled the differences in the two, he said there are no differences, that those “differences” are just traditions the religious leaders use to control people; that he now interprets the Qur’an, not through the traditions, but through the Bible.23 When asked if he reads the
22 In my experience, this is the exception. Most accommodationist brethren I have interacted with affirm the Qur’an as significant and containing truth insomuch as it is consistent with the Bible. But few have called it the “Word of God.” 23 While I personally do not agree with this statement and view the Old Testament as quite different from the Qur’an, I do not find this method of reappropriation altogether inconsistent with the method of reappropriation the New Testament authors used when handling the Old Testament, non-canonical Jewish literature, pagan poets and even pagan “prophets.” And while I realize this is a sensitive issue within Evangelicalism, the similarity in methodology cannot be denied. However, this should not pose a threat. Rather, it is precisely because I believe the New Testament, being inspired by God Himself, generously reappropriates from inspired Old Testament authors and uninsipired pagan authors, that I am quite comfortable with our brethren reappropriating texts and concepts from the Qur’an. For a more detailed discussion on the methods Accommodationists use in reappropriating Islamic texts, I highly recommend Duane Alexander Miller, ‘Reappropriation: An Accommodationist Hermeneutic of Islamic Christianity’ in St. Francis Magazine 5:3 (June 2009). In addition to categorizing the methods employed by our brethren, Miller also compares this form of reappropriation to the early Roman Christians’ apologetic that allegiance to Christ actually made one a better citizen of Rome. Both his categorization of methodology and his comparison are genius.

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Qur’an on a regular basis, he said he reads it only to evangelize others, but that his time was better spent in the Bible. Another encouraging aspect of these brothers’ testimonies is seeing how they have progressed and that they are open to changing their views as God turns on the proverbial lights. During the conversation above, our brother actually began his explanation with, “Where I am at right now is that I see Muhammad…” This is healthy. He is obviously struggling with Muhammad’s role in all of this and is certainly better off in his views than living by the teaching of Muhammad (the Law without Christ) in order to obtain Paradise. And he continues to grow, as we all should. Glory to God! And while it would not be good for the church planting team that led him to faith to declare to him that Muhammad was a prophet and the Qur’an has the same status as the Bible, it would also be destructive for them to encourage an attitude of hatred and disdain for Muhammad that keeps him from being an effective witness to his family.24

6 Identity
Those familiar with the current debate over contextual ministry will quickly notice the criteria do not involve Muslim identity. While the question of self and community identity is a crucial struggle that must occur as a Muslim background congregation comes to faith in Jesus and matures, leeway should be given. The entire discussion really hinges on something that has not, to my knowledge, been fleshed out in missiological literature. Namely,
24 A common emotion among new believers from an Islamic background is to feel betrayed by their community and Muhammad in particular. If these emotions are not tempered, but instead catalyzed by ill-informed Christians who only understand the Western perspective of Muhammad, the young believers run the risk of publicly denigrating Muhammad and completely losing their witness due to emotional outbursts against a person (which is a sin) rather than Gospel proclamation.

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the question of whether Islam is a religion25 only or if it is a society/culture/civilization. If it is a religion only, we must seek to supplant it. If religion is only one component of the civilization of Islam, we must seek to redeem it. 26 After a few years of poring over literature and interacting with Muslims (both religious leaders and laypersons), my opinion is that Islam is much more than a religion.27 It is a society and culture, possibly even a civilization unto itself.28 If my assumption is correct, it seems we should not be too intent on dragging people away from their heritage. Instead we should be intent on seeing the Kingdom come within the society. In explaining this concept, I often use myself as an example. Prior to coming to faith in Jesus, I was culturally an American. I am still an American. Yet in America abortion is legal, immodest clothing is common and fornication is accepted. What do I do? Theoretically I could say that because of my faith in Jesus and membership in God’s Kingdom, I am no longer an American as so much of America’s culture runs contrary to the Kingdom. Of course this attitude would kill my witness among most Americans. Instead, I simply do not participate. Those things the American government and society permit, even encourage, which run contrary to the Kingdom of God are off limits for me. Does this make me a bad American? Some say it does, but I would argue it makes me a better one. So, I choose to proudly identify myself as an
Religion is a notoriously difficult word to define. Since this article is directed to a primarily Western audience, I am using it in the very Western sense of: a set of beliefs concerning God (or gods). 26 See footnote 2. 27 While his method of “dealing” with Islamic civilization differs from mine, the prominent secular political scientist Samuel Huntington came to the same conclusion with regard to classifying Islam as a civilization in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York, New York: Touchstone, 1996). 28 Arguments for this are beyond the scope of this article, but it is my hope that missiologists will begin to address this topic in the near future. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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American and explain why my greater allegiance to Christ has made me a better citizen of the United States. Certainly I am not shy about refraining from participation in certain aspects of American life, but I still identify myself as an American. Another identity I carry is that of postmodern. I am very open to hearing others’ perspectives, yet due to my allegiance to God’s Kingdom I no longer accept the proposition that objective truth does not exist and that “your path gets you to the same place as my path.” Would some say that I am no longer postmodern? Perhaps, but I would, in a sense, fight for that part of my identity as well. Yet another aspect of my identity is that of a redneck.29 After coming into the Kingdom I still have a love for the outdoors, value hard blue-collar work, big trucks and cheap beer. Yet I no longer get drunk or consider racism acceptable. Would some rednecks say I have sold out? Sure, but “them’s fightin’ words!” And I certainly would take offense to someone trying to take away my redneck heritage. I most certainly am a redneck, but a redeemed one. The key in belonging to these groups is a willingness to allow the Kingdom to supersede any philosophy, attitude or behavior present within the community that is in opposition to God’s Kingdom. In short, identity in God’s Kingdom trumps all other affiliations. This applies to Islamic civilization as well. Islam is much more than some religion invented by Muhammad. The Ummah (Community) consists not just of religion, but also of politics, family, tribe and business. Turning one’s back on Islam has significant implications within the community outside of just the religious aspect. Religion is only one part of the whole. We often fail to real29 This is an American cultural word, originally referring to farm workers whose necks were often sun burnt (and hence red). They are from the South of the US (where it tends to be sunnier and hotter than the northern areas), and are often times stereotyped by outsiders as being connected to cultural relics and activities such as country music, trucks, cussing, smoking, drunkenness, illiteracy, and racism.

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ize that one who “leaves Islam” the religion has ipso facto turned his back on the other components of the Ummah as well. 30 Several church planters with whom I have interacted in the Muslim world who are witnessing movements bear testimony that the congregations refuse to be identified as “Christian” due to the negative political connotations. Further, the brothers and sisters feel strongly they should hold fast to their heritage while discarding anything contrary to God’s Kingdom as revealed in the Bible. Thus, they consider themselves Muslims (submitted ones) but go even further than this in evangelizing by pointing out that those “Muslims” who do not follow Jesus are not truly submitted to God. One of these movements is in the heart of Dar Al-Islam31 and our brethren have borne the brunt of intense persecution for their beliefs, yet they continue to consider themselves more submitted to God than their persecutors! The significant question that has to be dealt with is not whether one can be identified with the Kingdom of God and with Islam at the same time. Just as it is in my case of being an American, a postmodern, a redneck and a member of God’s Kingdom, the real question is which identity is the trump card. If the congregation is submitted more to the Qur’an than to the kingship and teachings of Jesus (in the Bible), this is not healthy and the community is not Christ-centered. But this is not typically the case among accom-

In addition to the inseparability of the different aspects of the Ummah, we would do well to remember that the roots of Islam are Christianity and Judaism. Each of the five pillars (including the form of ritual worship Muslims utilize) has Judaic and/or Christian roots. See J. Dudley Woodberry ‘Contextualization Among Muslims Reusing Common Pillars’ in International Journal of Frontier Missions 13:4 (Oct-Dec 1996). This combined with the pagan and tribal influences upon Muhammad would seem to lead to the conclusion that Islam could be considered not another religion altogether, but a horribly syncretized form of Christianity. 31 Exact location withheld due to security concerns. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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modationist congregations.32 Most recognize Jesus as King and themselves as his subjects as a first priority.

7 Application
Hopefully this article has already caused significant reflection by accommodationists and rejectionists alike. Again, the purpose was to share how I go about determining whether a church planting team that is under consideration for partnership is working toward healthy church or unhealthy syncretism. I do realize that most serving in Dar Al-Islam do not have to consider this question on a regular basis. However, regardless of how much interaction we have with other teams, we do need to continually reflect upon how we are going about planting churches and whether or not our methodology should be tweaked a bit. Further, we also need to keep our attitudes toward others who are working in an Islamic context in check - even if their methodology differs from our own. Beyond this, my hope is that some who are just entering the difficult and fascinating world of Muslim ministry are reading this article as well. For you, I hope this will help you as you process through the vast amount of literature and opinions out there and prayerfully decide, in community, what philosophy of ministry God is moving you toward. I do think that some rather direct suggestions and questions for consideration addressed to both rejectionists and accommodationists would be helpful in concluding. First to the rejectionists, we must listen more to where the congregation (whether accommodationist or rejectionist) is going rather than where it is right now. We must evaluate based upon the goal for actual beliefs (both narrative and doctrinal) and practice (both virtue and ritual) and evaluate less upon terminology that is ambiguous, depending upon the person who uses it. Further, we must consider the question, “What is Islam?” Those who fall in this
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camp generally view it as a religion only. Is that assumption true33? Could it be that religion is only one aspect of Islam? To accommodationists, we must listen more to the doctrinal aritual concerns that rejectionists have and develop some form of standard for the community we are trying to plant. We must consider that God’s people are interdependent and Muslims who follow Jesus need to learn from Christians who follow Jesus just as much as we need to learn from them. One aspect of this is learning to understand Christian history and terminology. Further, we should be careful to guard against the mentality “our way is better than their way”. We must consider that while we view Islam as a civilization and want to see it redeemed, God does draw people to Himself through dissatisfaction with their civilization as well. And both sides of this discussion, myself included, could use a healthy dose of humility, patience and unity. Rarely have I observed leaders from either side of the discussion working very hard at learning from the other side. And we have perpetuated this attitude in our fruit. Those who leave Islam to follow Jesus and those who remain within Islam while following Jesus have so much to learn from one another as they grow – what kind of example are we setting?

When our family entered Muslim ministry, this was my perspective. It has only been after living among and learning from those within collectivist societies where all aspects of life are integrated that my view has changed. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE GOSPEL WHILST PROCLAIMING IT INTO A FOREIGN CULTURE

BY CHRIS

1 Introduction
To maintain the integrity of the Gospel in a foreign culture, a course must be charted between two equal and opposite dangers: miscommunication, and false communication. On the one hand, the Gospel must be presented in ways the receiving culture will correctly understand. For example, the assertion “Jesus is the Son of God” will inevitably be misinterpreted by those of a Muslim culture, unless the missionary actively takes the initiative to dress this naked phrase in meaningful “cultural clothing”. On the other hand, what is to be done when suitable “clothing” with which to adorn the message is lacking? Zealous to be understood, the missionary is tempted to reshape the message to fit the available cultural forms, but this produces false communication: the Gospel of God is no longer being proclaimed. The integrity of the Gospel, therefore, is maintained only by appropriate “contextualisation”. Before any particular cultural form is adopted, two questions must be asked: “Is this form Biblically permissible?” and “Is this form Biblically adequate?” Every case will be different; yet, the missionary’s overall approach to nonChristian culture will inevitably influence each decision. In general, should non-Christian culture be seen as a positive, neutral, or negative preparation for the Gospel? This essay will Biblically evaluate these three views, giving specific consideration to how each one would work itself out in the context of churchplanting in an Islamic culture. Conclusions will then be drawn as

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to the appropriate level of contextualisation in Islamic societies, expressed in terms of the C1-C6 “contextualisation scale”.1

2 Positive view: Fulfilment
One approach is to regard anything good in a non-Christian culture as God’s way of preparing that culture for the Gospel. This positive evaluation of culture extends even to some religious practices. Missionaries, rather than encouraging converts to break from their valuable religious roots, should instead explain how, when seen correctly, the seeds of the Gospel already inherent within the culture actually are fulfilled by Christ. Priscilla and Aquila exemplify this approach: rather than commanding Apollos to abandon his Jewish faith, they instead led him directly from his initial beliefs to a saving faith in Christ, simply by “explaining the way of God more adequately.”2 A very positive view of Islamic culture is implicit within C4-C6 where believers are encouraged to remain within the “community of Islam”. Converts to Christ describe themselves not as “Christians,” but rather as “followers of Isa the Messiah”, “Muslim followers of Isa the Messiah”, or, in C6, simply “Muslims”. The Ramahdan fast, one of the five pillars of Islam, is observed, and converts may worship in “Messianic mosques” or, in C6, even remain in their regular Islamic Mosque. As Bavinck notes, this approach to mission is not new. Clement of Alexandria saw the Gospel as the fulfilment of Greek philosophy,3 believing each nation to have its own “Old Testament” which is fulfilled in Christ.4 Jesuit missionaries, taking a strong view of

See Appendix: Spectrum of Muslim Contextualisation. Acts 18:26. 3 J.H. Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions (trans. David H. Freeman; Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R, 1960), p. 135. 4 Bavinck, Science of Missions, p. 135.
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“the natural knowledge of God”,5 frequently permit converts to retain some of their former religions practices.6 Christianity has been identified with ‘the Chinese reverence for the “noble”, and ... [Indian avatars] regarded as anticipations of the Gospel.’7 It is, however, Biblically indefensible to draw parallels between Islam and Judaism. The Bible is explicit that the Jewish nation alone was specially chosen by God to prepare the way for the Messiah.8 God’s repeated warnings against syncretism,9 and the catastrophic judgments he sent whenever Israel debased their religion with those of the surrounding nations,10 emphasise Judaism’s uniquely privileged position in salvation history.11 Only Judaism, being a revealed religion, contains Gospel seeds which are fulfilled in Christ.12 By contrast, Bavinck warns, “there is no direct uninterrupted path from the darkness of paganism to the light of the gospel.”13 Even if comparisons with Judaism were legitimate, the dawning of the New Covenant has made Old Covenant religion obsolete:14 all people, including Jews, are now to repent and turn to Christ.15 Paul’s post-conversion attitude toward Judaism reveals what this entails in practice. While ready to adopt Jewish cultural expressions where this would provide a platform for evangelism,16 Paul nonetheless denounces his earlier, sincere devotion to Jewish relig-

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Ibid., p. 173. Ibid., p. 170. 7 Ibid., p. 134. 8 See, e.g. Luke 1:67-79; Romans 9:3-5. 9 See, e.g. Exodus 23:23-33; Deuteronomy 18:10-14. 10 See e.g. 2 Kings 17:7-23. 11 See e.g. Exodus 19:3-6; Psalm 47. 12 See, e.g. Galatians 3:29; Hebrews 9:23-24. 13 Bavinck, Science of Missions, p. 136. 14 See e.g. 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Hebrews 10:8-10. 15 See e.g. Acts 4:12; 17:30-31. 16 1 Corinthians 9:20ff. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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ious practices as “rubbish,” for the sake of knowing Christ,17 and condemns Judaizers in the strongest terms for promoting a damnable syncretism.18 If the mingling of Christian and Jewish religion ruins whole households,19 no lesser ruin should be expected where followers of Christ are encouraged to consciously identify themselves with Islam in name and practice, rather than as members of the body of Christ. Adoption of explicitly Islamic worship forms to contextualise the Gospel is Biblically impermissible.

3 Neutral view: Accommodation
Others, such as Kraft, see non-Christian culture as generally neutral.20 Apart from explicitly religious cultural forms, we may expect to find many good aspects in the wider non-Christian culture,21 to which the Gospel may readily be accommodated. The significance of each custom lies, after all, not in the expression itself, but in the mind of the individual.22 C3 church-planters appear to take this approach, allowing the Gospel to be accommodated only to “religiously neutral forms” such as “folk music, ethnic dress [and] artwork.” At first glance,
Philippians 3:8. See e.g. Galatians 1:6-9; Philippians 3:2. 19 Titus 1:11. 20 Charles H. Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 54. As cited in Glenn B. Nesbitt, “Your Kingdom Come: An Examination of the Compatibility of Johan H. Bavinck’s Concept of Possessio and Charles H. Kraft’s Model of Christian Transformational Culture Change as a means of achieving an Indigenous Expression of Christianity” (MTh. diss., Oak Hill College, 2007), p. 18. 21 I. Howard Marshall, “Culture and the New Testament,” in Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture (ed. John R. W. Stott and Robert Coote; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 30. 22 Nesbitt, “Your Kingdom Come,” p. 18.
18 17

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such “accommodation” appears to steer a safe course between incomprehension and syncretism. It must be asked, however, whether non-Christian culture can ever truly be “religiously neutral”?

4 Negative view: Possessio
Bavinck believes not.23 Every cultural expression originates, he explains, from fallen human hearts.24 Non-Christian culture, therefore, is a part of religion and not vice-versa,25 and hence, as a whole, it is tainted by a deep-seated desire to suppress the truth about God.26 Common grace preserves non-Christian cultures from degenerating to their fullest extent, thereby providing “points of attack” for the missionary.27 However, for Bavinck, “accommodating” the Gospel to any element of a sinful, non-Christian culture necessarily compromises the Gospel’s integrity.28 The C3 belief in “religiously neutral forms” is naive. Consider, for example, the word “Allah.” The God of the Bible cannot be identified with Allah without undermining his character since, to a Muslim, Allah is emphatically not Triune. If Bavinck is correct, however, it is impossible to substitute a perfectly religiously neutral word for “Allah”, since language is itself part of culture and is therefore “polluted.”29 Indeed, “the missionary exhales many pagan ideas with every word that he speaks.”30 No existing words being Biblically adequate, accommodation inevitably forces
Bavinck, Science of Missions, p. 124. Ibid., 173. 25 Ibid. 26 J. H. Bavinck, The Church Between Temple and Mosque: A Study of the Relationship between the Christian Faith and Other Religions, pp. 117-126. As referred to in Nesbitt, “Your Kingdom Come,” p. 13. 27 Bavinck, Science of Missions, p. 140. 28 Ibid., p. 178. 29 Ibid., p. 137. 30 Ibid., p. 138.
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a choice between miscommunication and false communication, and faithful cross-cultural communication of the Gospel becomes impossible! Thankfully, the dilemma is solved on remembering that Jesus gave “teaching” a primary role in the great commission.31 It matters not that the search for words which perfectly convey that Gospel ends in vain: Jesus envisioned the introduction of fresh ideas to explain “heavenly things”.32 Rather than merely “accommodating” the Gospel to a sinful culture, therefore, missionaries should let the Gospel challenge non-Christian worldviews at every point,33 to subdue and conquer a culture that is hostile to Christ, and recreate it in his name. Bavinck names this approach: “Possessio”.34 One practical benefit of “Possessio” is that it enables the legitimate retention of the word “Allah” to refer to God, on the understanding that, over time, the word will be reclaimed for Christ, as it is intentionally purified from its evil connotations and gradually redefined to take on more and more Biblical content. Alternatively, were the missionary to judge such purification likely to fail, the missionary is free to introduce a new word for God, such as LORD, or Yahweh, and fill that instead with Biblical content. The apostles were clearly prepared to take both of these approaches, sometimes reshaping words from pagan culture,35 sometimes addressing Gentiles with words directly from the Old Testament Scriptures,36 as circumstances dictated. The early church continued to propagate this methodology leading, on the one hand, to distinctively new religious terms such as “Trinity”, and, on the

31 32

Matthew 28:20. John 3:12. 33 C.f. 2 Corinthians 10:5. 34 Bavinck, Science of Missions, p. 178. 35 e.g. the use of λογος in the prologue to John’s Gospel. 36 e.g. the word Χριστος, drawn from the LXX. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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other, to the misconception by some outsiders that Christians were atheistic, incestuous cannibals!37 The attempt of C2 churches to maintain a “distinctively Christian” religious vocabulary, therefore, is overcautious: overlap with the religious terminology of Muslims is permitted, provided these religious terms are gradually redefined according the Gospel, and not vice-versa. Conversely, C3 churches should not prohibit the use of distinctively Christian vocabulary in their attempt to contextualise; the freedom to define new words will at times prove essential for the church to grasp the fullness of the Gospel, as expounded by the whole counsel of God.

5 Conclusion
Viewing culture Biblically, as a tainted creation of fallen man, will safeguard the missionary against the kind of over-contextualisation seen in C4-C6 churches, which compromise the Gospel’s integrity by promoting expressly Islamic forms of worship and self-identity. On the other hand, a robust confidence in the Gospel’s power to refashion cultures for Christ will rule out the over-defensive approaches to contextualisation modelled by C1 and C2 churches. Those who would proclaim the Gospel with integrity in an Islamic society should adopt the C3 contextualisation model.

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Bibliography
Bavinck, J.H. An Introduction to the Science of Missions. Translated by David H. Freeman; Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R, 1960. Kraft, Charles H. “The Church in Culture – A Dynamic Equivalence Model.” Pages 211-230 in Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Edited by John R. W. Stott and Robert Coote. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980. Kumar, S. Anada. “Culture and the Old Testament.” Pages 33-48 in Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Edited by John R. W. Stott and Robert Coote. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980. Loewen, Jacob A. “The Gospel: Its Content and Communication – an anthropological perspective,” Pages 115-130 in Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Edited by John R. W. Stott and Robert Coote. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980. Marshall, I. Howard. “Culture and the New Testament.” Pages 1731 in Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Edited by John R. W. Stott and Robert Coote. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980. Mastra, I Wayan. “Contextualization of the Church in Bali – A Case Study from Indonesia.” Pages 259-272 in Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Edited by John R. W. Stott and Robert Coote. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980. Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B McGee. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical and Practical Survey. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2004. Nesbitt, Glenn B. “Your Kingdom Come: An Examination of the Compatibility of Johan H. Bavinck’s Concept of Possessio and Charles H. Kraft’s Model of Christian Transformational Culture Change as a means of achieving an Indigenous ExSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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pression of Christianity.” MTh. diss., Oak Hill College, 2007. Nicholls, Bruce J. “Towards a Theology of Gospel and Culture.” Pages 49-62 in Down to Earth: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Edited by John R. W. Stott and Robert Coote. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980.

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Appendix: Spectrum of Muslim Contextualisation.38
The following chart shows the spectrum of practices in use today for contextualizing the Christian faith in Muslim settings. N.B. “Insider” pertains to the local Muslim population; “outsider” pertains to the local non-Muslim population. C1: Traditional Church Using Outsider Language. May be Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant. Some predate Islam. Thousands of C1 churches are found in Muslim lands today. Many reflect Western culture. A huge cultural chasm often exists between the church and the surrounding Muslim community. Some Muslim background believers may be found in C1 churches. C1 believers call themselves “Christians.” C2: Traditional Church Using Insider Language. Essentially the same as C1 except for language. Though insider language is used, religious vocabulary is probably non-Islamic (distinctively “Christian”). The cultural gap between Muslims and C2 is still large. Often more Muslim background believers are found in C2 than in C1. The majority of churches located in the Muslim world today are C1 or C2. C2 believers call themselves “Christians”. C3: Contextualized Christ-Centered Communities Using Insider Language and Religiously Neutral Insider Cultural Forms. Religiously neutral forms may include folk music, ethnic dress, artwork, etc. Islamic elements (where present) are “filtered out” so as to use purely “cultural” forms. The aim is to reduce foreignness
38 Reproduced from A. Scott Moreau, et al., Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker, 2004), pp. 298299, as adapted from John Travis, “The C1 to C6 Spectrum,” in Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34 (October), pp. 407-8.

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of the gospel and the church by contextualizing to biblically permissible cultural forms. May meet in a church building or more religiously neutral location. C3 congregations are comprised of a majority of Muslim background believers. C3 believers call themselves “Christians”. C4: Contextualized Christ-Centered Communities Using Insider Language and Biblically Permissible Cultural and Islamic Forms. Similar to C3, however, biblically permissible Islamic forms and practices are also utilized (e.g., praying with raised hands; keeping the fast; avoiding pork, alcohol, and dogs as pets; using Islamic terms, dress, etc.). C1 and C2 forms avoided. Meeting not held in church buildings. C4 communities comprised almost entirely of Muslim background believers. C4 believers, though highly contextualized, are usually not seen as Muslim by the Muslim community. C4 believers identify themselves as followers of Isa the Messiah (or something similar). C5: Christ-Centered Communities of “Messianic Muslims” Who Have Accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. C5 believers remain legally and socially within the community of Islam. Somewhat similar to the Messianic Jewish movement. Aspects of Islamic theology that 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.

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C6: Small Christ-Centered Communities of Secret/Underground Believers. Similar to persecuted believers suffering under totalitarian regimes. Due to fear, isolation, or threat of extreme governmental/community legal action or retaliation (including capital punishment), C6 believers worship Christ secretly (individually or perhaps infrequently in small clusters). Many come to Christ through dreams, visions, miracles, radio broadcasts, tracts, Christian witness while abroad, or reading the Bible on their own initiative. C6 (as opposed to C5) believers are usually silent about their faith. C6 is not ideal; God desires his people to witness and have regular fellowship (Heb. 10:25). Nonetheless, C6 believers are part of our family in Christ. Though God may call some to a life of suffering, imprisonment, or martyrdom, he may be pleased to have some worship him in secret, at least for a time. C6 believers are perceived as Muslims by the Muslim community and identify themselves as Muslims.

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EVANGELISM ON ARAB SOIL
BY JACOB DU PLOOY

1 Introduction
I have been working in the Middle East for over ten years now (1996–2009) and I can truly say that if evangelism was were not part of my ministry, I would have packed my bags and left for my home country a long time ago. In this article I would like to mention a few things about evangelism from my experience, which might help others to put things in the right perspective. Firstly, when talking about evangelism there are so many aspects on which one can focus, such as the content of our message, contextualization issues, etc. However, I remember a quote from George Housney on this topic: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” We can easily get caught up in all kinds of strategies and discussions and, by doing so, might loose the main focus of our ministry, i.e. actually going out there and reaching the Arab Muslims with the message of Jesus.

2 Evangelism as worship
My motive for evangelism is worship. Some people get great inspiration when they worship the Lord with music and songs. I have never experienced it when I am in a worship service but, during and after an evangelistic conversation, I get this awesome feeling of closeness to God. I go away with a feeling of yes, I have experienced God. In general the goal of worship is to experience God and that is exactly what happens with me during evangelism. Evangelism is seldom a burden for me or something extra I need to do in the Christian life. It is as normal as the blood in our veins.
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This is a call to make us rethink the priority of evangelism in our lives as Christians and missionaries. Instead of putting evangelism at the bottom of the list of Christian things we should do, I want to suggest that evangelism be viewed as something that will bring us into a closer walk with the Lord and experience His presence in the midst of evangelism.

3 Evangelism in a foreign language
When a person first arrives in a foreign country, the main obstacle is usually the language barrier. Most people spend their first two years learning the language, and only after acquiring some level of proficiency can they attempt to bring the gospel to this particular language group. My experience has been different. After arriving in the Middle East I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of bringing the gospel to the Arabs. But what should I do if don’t have the language? Wait for two years? So I decided to write the gospel message as I understand it, in English. Then I sat down with an Arab Christian who translated my gospel presentation in Arabic. I was not able to write Arabic at that time so I just used the Latin alphabet to transcribe the Arabic so that I knew how to pronounce the words correctly in Arabic. Then I took that piece of paper and I went back to my flat and I memorized the whole thing even though I did not understand most of the Arabic words myself. It took me a week and my flat mates thought that I was crazy as I walked up and down in the room reciting the Arabic on my paper. Armed with this I went to a social gathering place where men would meet for coffee and tea. As soon as somebody asked me if I was a Muslim I would respond by saying: Let me tell you this story, and then I would give my gospel interpretation in Arabic. Of course the objections came but I learned the phrase: “Wait a minute, you will understand later.” This worked brilliantly and I proclaimed the gospel to numerous people before I had a grasp on the
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Arabic grammar. Looking back ten years I kind of envy the time I was not able to understand their objections. I just gave the gospel message as it is. God can use us even if our language has not yet reached fluency, and yes, God can use our broken Arabic. Search for creative ways by which you can proclaim the gospel. From day one when you arrive in the field, focus on religious vocabulary that will help you bring over the message.

4 Evangelism and methods
There are often debates about questions like How should we do evangelism? I remembered a lecture from John Gilchrist in which he said: “Street evangelism, Bible, Jesus film and literature distribution, friendship evangelism, one-on-one evangelism, door-todoor evangelism, I don’t care how you do it, BUT DO IT!” God in His infinite wisdom can use all kinds of methods to bring somebody to Christ. Decide on a method which suites you the best and start doing it. My suggestion is to try all methods and put them into practice. Make it an adventure by trying a different method each month.

5 Evangelism requires boldness
One day I was on a train in a Middle Eastern country. In front of me was an Islamist with a long beard busy reciting the Qur’an which was in his hands. I immediately took out of my pocket the gospel of John. I asked him, “Excuse me sir, would you mind reading out of this book from this passage?” It was John 3 on the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus. He put away the Quran in his pocket and started to read the gospel of John. I was then able to share my testimony with the man.

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Some missionaries would have thought of a thousand reasons not to have done something like that. During my time in the Middle East I have found two kinds of missionaries. The first are those who rarely share the gospel, rarely give out Bibles or other literature. Many of these kinds of missionaries maintain such a high level security and are so protective about the platforms they use to get into the country, that in the end it does nothing but cripple their witness. The second kind of missionary are those who dare to be bold and take some risks. Admittedly these missionaries often get kicked out after, say, five years. But in those five years they were bold witnesses for the Lord; they shared the message often and gave out Bibles on a regular basis. They are fearless about evangelism because they know that this is the reason the Lord called them to that country. When evangelism is the focus for a missionary, the culture shock that one goes through is also minimized. Many times people start to internalize their problems during culture shock and they completely forget why they are in that particular foreign country in the first place. Let us look for opportunities to share the gospel at all times. This is also a call to put aside our fears of witnessing (for which ever reason) and focus on the task the Lord has given us. We are messengers of love, which drives away all fear. Is this message not more important than our lives and our safety? Jesus calls his followers to lay down their lives and be ready to die. In evangelism, are we ready to lay down our lives, our safety, and our platforms for Jesus?

6 Evangelism leads to stories of changed lives.
Because of evangelism I have many stories to tell, but I would like to tell one particular story of Abraham. One night I decided to go and evangelize. That specific evening I was not in the mood to go
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out but I went anyway. (It makes me think of a sermon I listened to by Greg Boyd. In the sermon he said that sometimes you are not in the mood to read the bible but then you just do it because you know it is the right thing to do. If you are going to wait until you feel in the mood to do evangelism you are most properly not going to get there. Just do it.) Abraham and his friend Jamal spent the evening at a place where young Arab men liked to sit and drink tea. I asked them if I could join them and they had no problem. We had a very good religious discussion for four hours after which Abraham asked me if I had a Bible for him. I immediately said yes and we took a taxi to our house where I handed a Bible to him and his friend. I said good-bye to him and his friend and did not take any contact details. The next morning I had to go to the post office to pay a bill. There in the middle of the street I bumped into Abraham. Immediately he took out of his pocket the Bible and showed me that he had read half of the gospel of Matthew already. He told me, “There is only one problem, I read and read but nowhere do they explain how you become a Christian”. I made an appointment to meet him that evening. When we met he had a lot of questions about Christianity. At one point in the conversation he told me that he and his friend had some severe stomach problems for the past two years (a common ailment in this part of the world). I offered to pray for healing. They agreed and then I prayed for them. We said bye to each other and they asked me to have lunch with them the next day. When I met them the following day both of them were healed from their stomach problems. We met again that evening and he told me that that he must return to Mecca the next day where he was employed. I realized that I had not told him how to become a follower of Jesus yet. When I told him what to pray he looked at me with an amazed look on his face and he said, “I have prayed that prayer already! Last night!”

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So he departed for Mecca. One month after our meeting I got a phone call from him. He told me: “It is Abraham here from Mecca. I just want to tell you that I am still happy and there are six other people who are happy with me.” I was overjoyed when I hung up the phone.

7 Evangelism and the Holy Spirit
One day I took a taxi to my house. Some days I have very good gospel conversations with taxi drivers. However, this day there was only silence in the taxi. When we stopped at our house I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to give this man a Bible. I was a bit hesitant because I made a rule for myself to never give a bible to someone unless I had a spiritual conversation with him. But this time I was sure that the Holy Spirit was telling me to do it. So I overcame my fear and told him to wait a minute. I gave him the Bible and told him this is a gift from me without telling him what the book was. Ten minutes later I heard a knock on our door. I must confess I was afraid that maybe the secret police had come. I opened the door and there was the taxi driver. He thanked me for the Bible and told me that he had been listening to the Christian radio for six years, and was praying for a Bible during that whole time. We should always be sensitive to the voice of the Lord. Be open that the Lord might ask you to share his message in new or different ways.

8 Evangelism and prayer
This is a fact of life we can’t get past: evangelism without prayer is useless. This year (2009) there was one guy I had been meeting with for about three months, once a week. Let’s call him Mohammed. I shared all that I was able to share about the gospel. I felt
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that our conversations were beginning to reach an end. Then I decided not to meet him for two weeks and just to pray. My wife and I then prayed daily for his conversion. After the two weeks I met up with him again. The moment I saw him I noticed something different about him. There was this joy all over his face. He told me then he became a Christian that week. If your evangelism seems to not be going anywhere, try to focus on praying for the people that you work and talk with. If you have the opportunity to join a 24/7 prayer watch, go for it - it is ideal for the message we want to proclaim.

9 Evangelism and our responsibility
Many missionaries in the Middle East say that they don’t have the gift of evangelism. Yes, it is true that some have that gift of evangelism, but that does that not justify the rest of us in the field doing nothing about it. While some ministers of the church have a special gift for evangelism, every disciple of Christ has the responsibility to actively share the gospel with those around him. By active evangelism I mean using words to proclaim the gospel. Some people try to get away with saying, “I proclaim the gospel with my life and the way I live.” While it is true that our daily life should reflect the message of Jesus, the fact remains that many atheists, Buddhists or social activists can compete with us by the good lives they live. Certainly our lives as believers in Jesus are not perfect, and we do make mistakes and say things that we should not have said or done. It is at this point that we can proclaim the message, “Jesus has died for a sinner like me, I am a broken vessel in God’s service.” We only live by the grace of God; let us proclaim this with our mouths. Romans 10:14 is quite relevant in the context of evangelism: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not
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heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Humble servant of Christ Jakob Du Plooy, October 2009.

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BOOK REVIEW: PHYLLIS TICKLE, THE GREAT EMERGENCE: HOW CHRISTIANITY IS CHANGING AND WHY, (BAKER BOOK HOUSE WITH ĒMERSION, 2008) 172 PAGES
BY PHIL BOURNE

1 Introduction
Scot McKnight, quoted on the back of the dust cover, remarks, “One thing I’ve learned to appreciate as I’ve grown older is big theories - and that is what Phyllis gives us.” I too like big theories, but the problem with big theories about history is that they tend to come unravelled in the minutia of historical detail. And, that is what I fear happens to Phyllis Tickle’s theory. So what is this ‘Great’ theory? It is, that once every five hundred years or so the Church has a grand rummage sale and reinvents itself. The result of this process is often two ‘traditions’. One continues along the ‘old’ pathway, but clears away much of the weeds and clutter that has accumulated in the previous five hundred years as it is revitalised. The other is changed and redefined in a radical new way that tries to take account of deeper and more fundamental ways in which society has been changing. It comes up with something that is qualitatively different from the way that Christianity has been understood in the past.

2 Division of the Book
The book is divided into three Parts. Part One introduces the thesis. It begins by describing the pattern of change as realised in the

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events known as the ‘Great’ Reformation’1, conveniently dated by Luther’s nailing his theses to the door of Wittenberg Church in 1517. Before this we had the Great Schism of 1054, when the Western and Eastern Churches parted company. Then, some five hundred years earlier, we had the formal end of the Roman Empire, 480, and the reorganisation of Byzantium Church by Gregory I (Gregory the Great). This latter event is linked in Phyllis’ analysis with the Great Council, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, in which the Byzantium Church broke ranks with the Oriental Orthodox Churches (or vice versa if you prefer! ). The second chapter of Part One tries to unravel the significance of these historical events. Religion, Phyllis argues, is a social contract reflecting the social changes of the time. She argues that it is a kind of cable, “a cable of meaning that keeps the human social unit connected to some purpose and/or power greater than itself.” (:34). As human society changes so the assumptions encased in the cable are challenged and eventually it becomes evident that the cable needs a thorough repair.2 The Second Part of the book traces the social evolution of Western Europe, taking us through the tensions that led up to and encompassed the Reformation [Chapter 3] and its evolution through the Enlightenment to Modern times [Chapters 4 and 5]. From Chapter Four onwards the account focuses more particularly on North America and how changes in world view affected American Society. The thesis is that modern science has undermined the world-view of the Reformation with its reliance on the authority of the Bible as the word of God.3
The addition of the term ‘great’ to the Reformation is to me a novel appendage I’ve not seen it described this way before. But it suits Phyllis’ alliteration. 2 I would think in this context of the solution described here, the metaphor implies more than just repair: the cable is to be replaced. 3 The impression given is that science disproved Reformation Christianity. It did nothing of the sort and indeed was subject to its own fashions and fancies. For example, the problem which the Church had with Darwin did not arise from DarSt Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org
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To what extent, then, is modern man a ‘new’ being? Has our understanding of ourselves so shifted that Descates’ definition of humanness - ‘I think therefore I am’ - has become, as Phyllis suggests, “woefully inadequate” (:71). “The two overarching, but complementary questions of the Great Emergence are: (1) What is human consciousness and/or the humanness of the human? and (2) what is the relationship of all religions to one another - or to put it another way, how can we live responsibly as devout and faithful adherents of one religion in a world of many religions?” (:73)4 Chapter five traces some of the major cultural shifts of the last hundred and fifty years, recognising that a full list would need a much longer book. It is a good overview of the making of modern North American culture. It starts with the debunking of the authority of the Bible by what to my mind is a dubious appeal to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.5 It goes on to consider the Quest for
win’s thesis per se, but in the use made of it by elements hostile to Christianity. The real issue with Darwinism is not the six-day creation, but the mechanism often labelled ‘the survival of the fittest’. Natural selection may turn out to be more subtle than that. 4 The questions that Phyllis raises about the meaning of self, consciousness, and authority are of central importance. But here, her overview is too brief and too hasty to adequately explore fully implications of the various ideas to which it alludes. They do not all speak with the same voice. Jung’s own research into the ‘Phenomenology’ of religious experience has given a tremendous boost to mysticism. But such mysticism contrasts somewhat starkly with the concrete phenomenon of the founding events of Christianity. It is just that modern epistemology has chosen to discount the latter and put its faith in an unproven thesis about the ‘collective unconscious’. [See for example the writings of Henry Corbin who draws extensively on the ideas of Jung to vindicate his views on mysticism.] I am not sure how seriously Freud’s ideas about the unconscious are taken these days. Clearly there is more going on in the brain than we are conscious of, but is that necessarily significant? 5 If ‘literary deconstruction’ planted its standard dead in the centre of ‘Heisenberg’ (:79) then this just goes to show how little they understood Quantum Mechanics. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle has nothing to do with philosophical uncertainty or doubt of the sort that Descartes is supposed to have engaged in while warming himself by the fire. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty strictly applies to a St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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the Historical Jesus, the rise of Pentecostalism, changing family values, Socialism, etc. etc. Phyllis makes an interesting linkage between Alcoholics Anonymous and similar therapies as an alternative to traditional religion. She goes on to describe the rising influence of non-Western religions like Buddhism and the Drug Culture, all of which added to the erosion of belief in the authority of scripture. Phyllis criticises the Reformation for his codification of its beliefs as doctrine. For Phyllis the significant challenge came when the churches began to lose the debate over moral issues. The final sections of chapter five look at the impact of technology and the Second World War on North American society. The family has been reconfigured and the impact of the Bible in practice marginalised. The same could be said of much of Western Europe. Part Three seeks to describe what is going on in the Church. With a series of helpful diagrams6 Phyllis seeks to describe the impact the changes in the wider world are having on the Church. Here she discerns an emerging centre that bring together elements
well defined set of problems in the Quantum Mechanical description of the Universe. Roger Penrose cautions, “To clarify this picture we must recall carefully what Heisenberg’s uncertainty relations actually state. ‘They do not tell us that there is something inherently “fuzzy” or “incoherent” in the way that nature behaves at the tiniest scale. Instead Heisenberg’s uncertainty restricts the precision whereby two non-commuting measurements can be carried out…. There is a perfectly well-defined quantum state, however, and if no actual measurement is performed, the state of the particle will evolve precisely according to Shrödinger’s equation….’ (Penrose: The Road to Reality, 2007 edition: 861) This remark is made in order to warn us against making unwarranted and hasty deductions about the nature of physical reality. If so, then how much more should we heed his remarks when tempted to make inappropriate application to other fields of knowledge, such as hermeneutics! 6 I am always a bit wary of diagrams as they can tend to oversimplify what are often complex processes. But as far as it goes, the description makes sense. At the centre is the emerging church, while at each corner are gathered the diehards of the old traditions who may rework some of their ideas but who will continue to adhere to their inherited values. I can see myself in this process, probably at the bottom right-hand corner. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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from the four major types of churches found in North American Liturgical Churches, Social Justice Christians, Renewal (Charismatic) Movements and Conservatives.7 The final chapter seeks to describe what the emerging church is beginning to look like. In contrast to the authority of sola scriptura it presents a decentralised, dynamic concept of authority as manifest in a network of interconnected fellowships and individuals. The emergent church becomes a ‘conversation’, or a ‘participation in a conversation’. Phyllis discerns something of a precursor of this in the Quakers. It began to crystallise in the thinking of Richard Forster, Parker Palmer, J Brent, and Donald Miller. Miller identified three groupings that gave expression to the emergent forms of Christianity: The Vineyard Association founded by John Wimber, the Calvary Chapels founded by Chuck Smith Senior and the Hope Chapels. Wimber, from a Quaker background, was one of the founding directors of the Department of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary and an early advocate of the centredsets view of church membership. This sought to replace the traditional focus of church membership, “believe, behave, belong”, with one that advocated, “belong, behave, believe”. One “simply belongs to a gathering of Christians by virtue of a shared humanity and an affinity with the individuals involved in whatever group as the whole is doing.” (:159)7 A second characteristic of the emergent narrative is its belief in paradox.8 Coupled with this is the whole raft of postmodern her7 I am not sure that this squares with the Biblical view where our identity as Christians is focused in our identification with Christ and his sufferings. The Bible describes this as union with Christ, so that our unity is found in Jesus himself, not in a “shared humanity and affinity with the individuals involved”. One of the characteristics of the church is its ability to transcend such cultural boundaries. But equally it is not therefore always a safe, cosy place to be. Being part of Christ’s church is a challenge. 8 The example given on page 160 about the square roots of 4 does not strike me as at all paradoxical. There is simply more than one answer. In real life, as in

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meneutics with its distrust of Meta-narratives. But, despite the popularity of these ideas, there is nothing self-evidently true about them. For some it is just a licence for evil. It is a symptom of moral decay and epistemological suicide.

3 Reflections
The problem with time is that it is asymmetrical: so we tend to judge, and dismiss, the past on the basis of contemporary ideas. But the past has no opportunity to reply. If it did it may well have warned us that some of the roads into which humanity has wandered are not ones our forebears would have recommended. Those of us who believe in the authority of the Bible would argue that we were warned, but did not always choose to heed those warnings. Is the way in which society is changing an appropriate guide to what road we should take? In the context of Phyllis’ thesis, that surely is the fundamental question. She argues that the approaches of the past have all been discredited and that something new should now emerge. I wonder what, for example, the leaders of the Reformation would have made of such an argument. I can imagine them scurrying back to their Bibles in horror, and indeed, the defenders of the old paths are doing just that. But is the authority of the Bible really discredited? I don’t think the case that Phyllis makes for this holds water. But here we get embroiled in the minutia of history. In making the case Phyllis covers a lot of ground, using very broad brush stokes in her evaluation of the Enlightenment and rise of Modernism. But I would contend that not all of the evidence points in the same direction. Looking at the outline in chapter four, one wonders how the disparate parts fit together. What does Faraday have to do with
mathematics, there is frequently more than one solution. Not every answer is unique, nor is every decision critical. St Francis Magazine is published by Interserve and Arab Vision www.stfrancismagazine.info - www.interserve.org - www.arabvision.org

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Darwin, or Freud with Jung? At least the latter are working in the same broad area of research, but I believe they sharply disagreed. I think what Phyllis is trying to do is to show how science, psychology and the impact of the media have resulted in a sea-change in popular perception. Granted there has been such a sea-change, but this has often been the result of misrepresentation or oversimplification of complex ideas. The democratisation of opinion does not necessarily make us wise. The ‘Cable of Meaning’ introduced in Part One is an interesting metaphor. But the strands suggested by Phyllis seem to reflect a more contemporary outlook on what some people today think meaning should be. To describe religion as “a social contract” (:33) is a modernist, if not a post-modernist perspective. A Biblical perspective would want something more robust. Our spirituality would be founded upon our encounter with God mediated and assessed in the light of the Biblical record. Our morality would be more firmly grounded on what God says causes him pain, and less on our perception of what feels right for us. (It is perhaps not surprising then that without this scriptural perspective Phyllis describes “accepted principles of morality” as a “work in progress” for the emerging church. (:102) The greatest challenge to contemporary Western society is its lack of consistent morality.) Nor am I at all convinced that a ‘conversation’ can give the same sense of corporeality as for example the text of the Bible, or a council of elders, or even a Pope. A Network suits the modern mind, largely because it gives more latitude for dissent without one having to forego belonging. To my mind the key question that arises is whether what emerges at the centre of this maelstrom is in any coherent sense Christian. Of course it will incorporate elements from the various traditions which have their origins in Christian belief and practice. But why stop there? Phyllis is already advocating that elements of Judaism will be merged into this new emerging phenomenon. It is not clear exactly what she means by Judaism in this context, but I
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suspect it reflects the easy-going spirituality of some American Rabbis, rather than the cut and thrust of Old Testament faith in its confrontation with paganism. If Judaism, then why not Buddhism or Hinduism, or Islam, or traditional North American Indian religions, or any of the cacophony of new ‘faiths’ thrown up by the New Age movement? It returns to the challenge of the question asked on page 73, “How can we live responsibly as devout and faithful adherents of one religion in a world of many religions?” It would seem that what is being offered is an easy going eclecticism that neither confronts nor speaks coherently into the challenges facing contemporary Western society. It would seem to me, to be Christian means that not just anything goes. For example, in her discussion of Timothy Leary, she could have referred to his foreshadowing in the writings of Herman Hesse. In the latter’s Steppenwolf the ‘hero’ undergoes a hallucinatory experience that bears all the hallmarks of an LSD-induced experience. But in the process he nearly strangles his girlfriend. Okay, it was only a story. But it illustrates vey well how we often simply catalogue religious and social values as if they were morally neutral. If we condemn the people of the 16th century for their cruelty, how can we pass over in silence the evils of our own generation? In all these things Satan is lurking in the background, “seeking whom he can devour”. The Bible teaches that evil is real, and warns us against the consequences of ignoring or underestimating it. It is an aspect of reality that we have to take seriously and we need clear guidelines on where the boundaries are to be drawn. In this context I do not see how, on the basis of human experience, a ‘conversation’ can result in decisive action when decisive action is needed. Will the competing ‘opinions’ be able to draw the moral lines in such a way as to be an effective bar to evil? Or put another way, how is the emerging church to “discern the word
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of truth” from among the disparate and competing foci of authority represented by the network? Where does God, as the Bible describes him, fit into all this? Surprisingly he rarely gets a mention in Phyllis’ book and when he does it is often only as the butt of some theological disagreement. There is nothing in the pages of this book to suggest that it is God who ultimately controls history or that all the muddy eddies of human endeavour are but part of a great drama in which God unfolds his goals in the great drama of cosmic history - a drama that possesses the question, time and time again, who is God? Is it YHWH the God who reveals himself in the Bible, and who ultimately revealed himself in Jesus Christ? Or is it the god of man’s imagining, created in his own image? That was the question that Isaiah laid before king Hezekiah in 6th Century as the armies of Sennacherib stood before the walls of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 37) It was not just a theoretical question for debate, because the future of the whole city depended upon the response Hezekiah made to this question. In this case Hezekiah was prepared to trust his fate and the fate of all his people to the God of Heaven, and the armies of Sennacherib melted away in the night. To this day we do not know why they left: it remains one of the great enigmas of history. The same challenge confronts God’s people today. Which God will we choose?

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