Friday, January 25, 2013

Christian-Muslim Syncretism . . . or Inchoate Orthodoxy?

Insider Movements

The magazine Christianity Today offers several interesting articles on Christian movements among Muslims, the most recent being "Discipleship Is Messy" (January 17, 2013), which among other things expresses the following, somewhat paradoxical pair of evangelical positions:
[M]any new converts and missiologists say that new converts from Islam or Hinduism, for example, should repudiate their religion, and even their culture, especially if that religion has permeated culture to prevent people from hearing the gospel. There is something right and true about this approach for many believers.

Other converts and missiologists encourage new believers to remain in their culture as long as possible, as long as Scripture doesn't explicitly forbid the practices in question. This approach has been very effective at introducing Muslims to Christ, exponentially even, as the article by missiologist Phil Parshall shows. There is also something right and true about this approach.
I find interesting the various perspectives even within Evangelicalism as it confronts the challenges of a diverse but interconnected global world of religions, as these two diametrically opposite views demonstrate, for oddly enough, Christianity Today affirms both of them. The choice of one or the other approach perhaps depends on the context, too, not only upon the distinction made above but, for example, on whether the Islamic community is governed by sharia or not, for apostasy from Islam is a capital offense according to Islamic law, so openly repudiating Islam would automatically invite a death sentence in such a context, leaving no space for the growth of a Christian community. For the other articles, in contra-sequential order, see:
"How Much Muslim Context Is Too Much for the Gospel?" Phil Parshall (January 16, 2013)

"Why Evangelicals Should Be Thankful for Muslim Insiders," John J. Travis (January 15, 2013)

"The Hidden History of Insider Movements," Timothy C. Tennant (January 14, 2013)

"Worshiping Jesus in the Mosque," Gene Daniels (January 14, 2013)
These are the five articles about the growth of Christianity among Muslims, a growth no larger than a mustard seed that's scarcely sprouted.

We'll see if it gets nipped in the bud . . .

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