Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Will the Insiders keep the outsiders outside?

Just recently I have become aware of a particular movement to make evangelism to Muslims more effective. Now, who in their right mind or heart would oppose good efforts to reach Muslims with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? But the movement to which I refer is proving to be controversial, and that, for good reason.

This group (?) is known as the Insider Movement. The reason they are causing so much heart burn is that they believe that in order to best reach Muslims, all references to Jesus Christ as God's Son must be removed from any Bible or Gospel presentation offered to them. The rationale behind such a move is that Muslims do not have a category in which God could have a Son apart from sexual intercourse with a woman.

This raises issues about the nature and importance of Christ's sonship. It also begs the question, "How far do we go to accomodate the false ideas of unbelievers?" When does evangelistic zeal become Gospel-distorting accomodation? Just how flexible is our message?

I am going to take some time with this issue. So, over the next few days and weeks I'll be addressing in on my little 'ol blog.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Is this a legitimate approach to evangelism? How central is the sonship of Jesus to the Gospel? How central is the sonship of Jesus to His very identity?


Sean said...

I wouldn't even know HOW to share Christ without that truth?! It's not only crucial... it's essential... isn't it?!

I tremble at the thought of His Godship... let alone eliminating His Godship.

What a treasure John 1:1-3 is...

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."

There is so much packed into those three sentences, it's incredible. Without Him NOTHING was made that was made! NOTHING!!!

Praise His name.

Dave said...

For most of my adult life I actively avoided the Christian church based on a few years experience with a denomination that contextualized christianity and the Bible. It was after living aloof from God for twenty years that I finally heard the Gospel plainly and unfiltered--hearing the truth hit me like a lightning bolt and brought me home. No matter how seemingly laudable the goal, efforts that modify God's word are dressing up lies.

I've noted also that this is not a completely unique approach, in fact, many churches "water down" sermons or avoid controversial subjects from the bible hoping to "draw unbelievers in". Then they will "work with them them in small groups" or some such thing. This, of course, is nothing more than deception as well and the only difference between this and the movement that you describe is the demographic it addresses and the particular modification made. Truth is something worthy of proclaiming loudly from the rooftops, not whispering quietly for fear that someone might be offended by it. How does someone receive Truth if it is withheld? (Romans 10:14-17)

Moreover, Jesus' Sonship is at the center of the gospel (And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world." 1 John 4:14) to remove it is to preach a different gospel. Paul, in Galatians 1:6-10, speaks to this very directly and concludes "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." I think we should endeavor to be servants of Christ.

Thanks for inviting me to think through this,it's a timely topic.

Dana said...

In the conversations I've had with Muslim friends, the idea of God having a son is always a stumbling block. It's certainly understand the temptation to remove this obstruction, or at least "put it off until later."

The question comes down to this: Do we believe that God is powerful enough to overcome this obstacle to belief?

Todd Pruitt said...


I agree. If God cannot overcome an obstacle for Muslims then how can He overcome an obstacle for anyone else?

Of course this also draws attention to the fact that the Gospel itself is the greatest stumbling block of all. Muslims deny that Jesus could have been executed because he was a prophet of Allah. So, do we not tell them that Jesus died on the cross?

Muslims deny the deity of Christ. Do we hide that in order to "reach" them. Of course not. So how can we hide the sonship of Jesus? How do we hide John 3:16?