Friday, January 11, 2008

A Perplexing Review of The Camel

Tonight I have just completed reading "An Assessment of The Camel" by Daniel Akin, David Nelson, and Bruce Ashford. After having read the assessment, I am puzzled by several points.

If I were a lawyer, if The Camel were on trial, and if this "assessment" were being offered as testimony, I would have to object, "Assumes facts not in evidence." Consider, for example, how the assessment handles the statement in The Camel, "I believe what the Qur'an says about Mohammed." Akin, Nelson, and Ashford suggest alternatives for this phraseology, which they acknowledge as "problematic." They proceed to say:

We do not believe that The Camel is a fundamentally deceptive book (although there are a couple of statements that we believe need to be changed; see below). From our experience, charges of deception often rest on the fact that the Muslim evangelist using the Camel does not immediately tell everything that he believes about the Qur’an or about Muhammad. [emphasis mine]

Actually, those who critique The Camel do so not because we are quibbling over when in the book it demonstrates how an evangelist would reveal everything that he believes about the Qur'an or about Mohammed, but because the book never instructs any evangelist to do so at any point. If The Camel is not a syncretistic, heretical book, then it is something like the pilot training manual that teaches unorthodox approaches to the preflight and takeoff, and then never teaches the student how to land at all. The most important parts are completely missing, and that is The Camel's salvation! The best defense anyone has ever devised for this book is to argue that the gospel is missing from this key to "how Muslims are coming to Christ."

Akin, Nelson, and Ashford seem perfectly content, with the very gospel on the line, just to presume that everyone reading this book will easily fill in the many critical missing pieces on their own. They seem anxious to presume that Greeson himself has filled in all of those pieces. Indeed, after finding that the book does not give any indication of how Camel converts would in any way appear distinctively Christian, the authors of this assessment opine:

We find it hard to believe that Greeson is saying that Christians are not different from Muslims in any of their forms of life and worship.

I don't particularly want to believe it either. But these men are assuming facts not in evidence. At least, these facts are not in evidence for anyone who simply picks up The Camel and reads it. Perhaps if one engages in lengthy sessions of Camel apologetics in which Greeson and Garrison and whomever else explain themselves and demonstrate what fine, orthodox people they are…then, perhaps, one starts to read the book differently.

But books aren't supposed to be like that. If a personal interview with the author is required to come to understand "what he really meant to say," then why not just give a speaking tour and skip the book altogether? But here we have a book being hawked around the globe by all manner of denominational servants, and the experts in our own seminaries have to ask Greeson to explain how these "Christians" are actually any different in their life and worship from Sunnis and Shiites. How, if these learned men walk away with such profound questions, will the average reader be misled by this book?

The "assessment" seems determined to give every positive assumption to Greeson. Although The Camel includes the "Korbani Plan of Salvation" as a suggested presentation of the gospel, the assessment seems willing to assume that some other, more complete presentation of the gospel follows this "pre-evangelism." In the Mohammed section, the assessment is unwilling to evaluate the statement, "I believe what the Qur'an says about Mohammed," as deceptive, but will only conclude that this statement—and I know that if I said it, it would be a brazen lie—merely "leaves [Greeson] open to the charge that he is deceptive" (no doubt leveled by the inquisitorial accusers stigmatized later in the paper). Although there's not a single syllable uttered to a Muslim in The Camel that challenges the epistemological validity of the Qur'an, the assessment is perfectly willing to assume that The Camel "[is] not setting up the Qur'an as an epistemological authority."

And yet, the "assessment" seems determined to make every negative assumption about those who have been critical of The Camel. It presumes that The Camel's critics are simply opposed to any mention of the Qur'an, any hint of contextualization, any use of the word Allah, any bridging whatsoever. The assessment ends by giving the back of its hand to any who have criticized The Camel:

We would also want to point out that we wonder if it is not unfair for certain people to subject Greeson’s book to such intense public scrutiny for certain missteps, while leaving on the Lifeway bookshelves numerous best-selling texts (written since the “Conservative Resurgence”) in spirituality, evangelism, and discipleship that have made much larger missteps.

Well, brothers, I do not claim to have perused every word of every book on the shelves of the local Lifeway, but I do hope that you will reveal for us all the "much larger missteps" out there beyond, "I believe what the Qur'an says about Mohammed." I hope that you will identify for us the wares for sale that err much more grievously than a book instructing people in this method of (pre-)evangelism, a method specifically targeted at people who are following a false prophet in the rites of a false religion in the worship of a false god, yet a method that does so all without ever instructing the evangelist to identify the prophet, the religion, or the god as false. If such works are out there, then I will gladly make time to post about them, too—all without ceasing to tell the truth about The Camel.

74 comments:

Alex said...

I'm sorry, but your inability to contextualize beyond the library in Fort Worth, or at best the shores of Cape Cod, has always made your criticisms seem quite hollow and pharisaical to those who engage with real-life Muslims.

As you're fond of challenging others with these kind of questions, may I ask - how many Muslims living in a Muslim culture you have shared the Gospel with personally since 9/11, and what success have you been blessed with?

(I admit I am assuming less than ten and little or no success)

I think it says it all that the post I am replying to would in and of itself ensure you were imprisoned for insulting the prophet in several countries in the Muslim world.

Pastor Scott said...

I am grateful for our missionaries, just as Alex said, and I am also thankful for IMB trustees like Wade Burleson who supports them. I appreciate your criticisms, but after reading Wade's blog for a couple of years, I have learned to appreciate our missionaries and Dr. Rankin - and realize that the theological narrowing desired by some in our convention is detrimental to real mission work in the SBC.

Anonymous said...

Being one who has shared the gospel with muslims (though on a short-term basis) and being one who has been good friends with former muslims I have a few things to say.

1) Has a former Muslim critiqued the Camel method (and I don't necesarily mean the Caner brothers I mean one who grew up in a Muslim country...no offense to their opinion)?

This summer I had the pleasure of meeting a muslim teenager who had studied at a muslim school preparing to become a Islamic scholar. She eventually came to faith. I find it interesting that in her testimony (with Muslims present) she did not make the same connections mentioned in the book. In fact, she made the two books very distinct—one as truth and the other as false.

I'll try and post on what I call, "intelectual paternalism" on my blog in the coming weeks, but, my point here is that we have decided a lot for Muslim cultures based upon what we call "success" without asking them what they think. But, then I haven't read the Camel method yet and maybe he mentions that.

2. How do we measure success?

Well, I guess I've said enough. I'll be writing a paper for Dr. Ashford on contextualization in a seminar this semester. It should be fun and my understanding of contextualization will be deeper. I do look forward to it and interacting with Dr. Ashford and others. I am sure there is much for me to learn.

dwmiii

Anonymous said...

By asking "them" about it I mean former Muslims who are now believers.

dwmiii

Sean said...

To divert attention away from the Camel by pointing to dusty bookshelves if ridiculous & surprising coming from these guys.

Alex- every time this subject comes up there is someone who also diverts the discussion by asking such questions of Bart. Why so defensive? Why not just deal with the actual topic instead of trying to belittle the author by making him post his "stats?" As for your imprisonment comment- I don't get it. Are you saying that it is preferable to cloak our arguments, dance around the truth, or do so-called "contextualization" because we want to avoid imprisonment? That seems very far from the NT model of missions. I do recall some missionaries fleeing for safety, but only after they had boldly spoken the truth & upset those worshiping their false gods.

Bart Barber said...

Alex,

Well, sir, you certainly need to find some sort of emotional argument that "says it all," given that your comments, as they regard the specific and substantive points of my several posts critiquing The Camel, say absolutely nothing.

Bart Barber said...

Pastor Scott,

I, too, am grateful for our missionaries. I am more grateful for the gospel.

Bart Barber said...

Dougald,

The Camel itself purports to be the product of "Muslim Background Believers." I do not have access to an independent review of The Camel by former Muslims.

It might be very helpful, however, to see this interview with a current Muslim regarding The Camel.

Bart Barber said...

Sean,

Precisely.

cameron coyle said...

Alex,

Do you realize that you have actually suggested that the truth claims of the gospel be left out of the missionary's work if they might lead to persecution of the missionary?

I seem to recall reading somewhere about the gospel being an offense, and about evangelists speaking with boldness, even when in chains.

Anonymous said...

Bart,

I have never been immersed in a Muslim country, though I have shared the Gosel with Muslims. However, I would like to pose a few questions regarding the comments above.

1). Why does the critique of "The Camel" become more or less valid if it is critiqued by a former Muslim? Does that approach legitimate a further amount of Truth? Does a good critique of Satanism, Jehovah's witness, Mormon, or Atheism demand a former advocate to illegitamize its teachings?

2). Is it possible to completely seperate Theological Method from Evangelistic Method? In other words, is not our method of sharing the Gospel a direct descendant of our Method of Theology? Therefore, if our Theology demands a CLEAR seperation of God from gods, then our evangelism MUST maintain the same separation.

3). Is the confusion of pragmatics and theology not something to be feared? Is it enough for it to "just work"? If so, then what will we be sacrificing for the future? Should one sacrifice at the altar of Baal in order to establish a relationship in order to share Jehovah?

One final thought... Biblical contextualization is learning to speak their language and using illustrative material that makes sense. Unbiblical contextualization is dumbing down our God and exalting their god so the twain shall meet. "The Camel" seems to be a step in that direction.

John Mann

Anonymous said...

Brother Bart,

I pray that you had a worshipful Christmas. Ours celebrating God incarnate was wonderful!

In our last discussion, I did not address the Camel Method with you. Instead we had a quite stimulating discussion on theology proper. In short order, I will attempt to resume that conversation on this post, since you once again made a distinction between God and Allah. But, now, since I have a copy of The Camel Training Manual in front of me, I would like to address some of your statements.

Prior to this, I would like to say that while the Camel Method is in my toolbox, it is not the only method (nor even the most-used) our family uses to see where the Spirit is working. Here goes...

You made the following statement:

1. The most important parts are completely missing, and that is The Camel's salvation
2. Although The Camel includes the "Korbani Plan of Salvation" as a suggested presentation of the gospel, the assessment seems willing to assume that some other, more complete presentation of the gospel follows this "pre-evangelism."
3. Indeed, after finding that the book does not give any indication of how Camel converts would in any way appear distinctively Christian

I do not have the most recent version of the Camel Training Manual. However, I have obtained a hard-copy (along with several in pdf format that I normally reference) of the 2004 version. ISBN: 0-9747562-8-8. At the very beginning of Unit 7 on page 51, this text is found:

THE GOAL OF THE CAMEL METHOD: It is critical that you understand the purpose and goal of the Camel Method. it is not to lead a Muslim to salvation in Christ. Its purpose is to draw out a Person of Peace. it can also assist you to build bridges between you and the Muslim community. When you find a Muslim seeking to become an MBB [Muslim-background believer], set the Koran aside & pick up your Bible.

Brother Bart, the Camel Method is definitely “pre-evangelism.” It is not meant to “convert” anyone, nor does Greeson ever claim there is enough Light in the Qur’an to bring someone to faith in Jesus. It is only a tool to see who God is working in!

You also said:

But books aren't supposed to be like that. If a personal interview with the author is required to come to understand "what he really meant to say," then why not just give a speaking tour and skip the book altogether?

Regardless of our requirements for good literature, The Camel Training Manual is exactly what it claims to be. A training manual for those who God has called out as servants to Muslim peoples. It is meant to be one tool, among many, for Christians who are seeking ways to interact with Muslims in a way that they can understand... all the while searching for those who are open to the Gospel. The way the Gospel is then presented will depend upon worldview and the relevant Scriptures to that individual Muslim’s worldview. (Worldview is made up of more than religion and the Gospel must be presented in light of someone’s worldview or syncretism is sure to occur).

You also said:

In the Mohammed section, the assessment is unwilling to evaluate the statement, "I believe what the Qur'an says about Mohammed," as deceptive, but will only conclude that this statement—and I know that if I said it, it would be a brazen lie—merely "leaves [Greeson] open to the charge that he is deceptive" (no doubt leveled by the inquisitorial accusers stigmatized later in the paper)

Unit 8 on page 73 of the aforementioned version of the Camel Training Manual, this text is found:

Who do you say Mohammed is?
Suggested answer: “I say Mohammed is who he said he was in the Koran. Let’s look at Surah The Sandhills 46:9 to see what Mohammed said about himself.”

Surah The Sandhills 46:9 “I am nothing new among the Prophets; what will happen to me and to my followers, I do not know; I am only a plain warner.”

Take the time to point out the 3 parts to this verse:
He is not any different from the prophets before him. He said that he is not the greatest.
He does not know where he or his followers are going (after death).
He is only a warner.

He then suggests contrasting this with John 6:47 & John 14:1-7. I think that in normal dialogue it is acceptable to follow a statement with a qualifier. For example, you might say to me, “I like the movie Gladiator, especially the theme of justice that prevails throughout.” Does this mean that you like the parts in the movie where idols are worshipped? Of course not. What if we changed the answer to...

I say Muhammad is who he said he was in the Qur’an where he says he is not the greatest prophet, that he doesn’t know where he or his followers are going & that he is only a warner.

Would you be okay with it phrased this way? I personally do not use this answer when asked, but I also do not serve among South Asian Muslims, rather I serve among Arab Muslims and have other ways of respectfully addressing this question. However, I am acquainted with many who do answer this way and they are very effective at communicating this Gospel.

His peace be with you,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

John,

You addressed your question to Bart. I hope you do not mind if I answer it since I brought it up.

First, let me say that your question is a valid response to my question. I also understand your concerns with the question and I agree to a certain extent.

I think what I am trying to get at with the question is this: We (someone not in a muslim culture) have decided that is an effective way of evangelism amongst muslims without asking former muslims about its implications.

Since my comment I have contacted a few people and asked the same question since my contacts knew former muslims. There response was that those former muslims found the method deceptive. That does not mean their understanding is totally correct. But, I do think their voice should not be ignored in this discussion.

I guess to some extent it is my firm commentment to "mutual discipleship" where we, the western christian missionary, listen to our, albeit younger in the faith, brothers about their concerns regarding such matters. Enter my term "intellectual paternalism" to describe when we DONT do that.

My ultimate question is...who is deciding how we contextualize the gospel in any given culture? Usually it is western missionaries who are outside of a culture (still outside even if they have worked with them).

I do not want to seem criticial of the nature of missionaries. I just want to offer this suggestion...listen to your host culture when it comes to certain matters. We still have to be critical, but we don't have to appear to be completely ignoring them. Which, I believe is happening.

John, thanks so much for the discussion. I do think that this should be discussed more without the emotional rhetoric. I think you have done an excellent job with removing that and I look forward to discussing this more with you and others.

Through Christ,
Dougald

Anonymous said...

Brother Bart,

Now, concerning your assertion that Muslims worship a false god. Let’s agree that there are three categories of worshippers:

1. Those who worship in spirit and truth. Followers of "The Way."
2. Those who vainly attempt to worship the One True God, but their worship is refused because of their denial of His Messiah.
3. Those who worship false gods.

In order to determine whether one falls into the second or third category, we must figure out the “minimums” or “lowest common denominator” in terms of defining who someone is worshipping if we are to accurately assess their state. Certainly we would not throw Hasidic Jews into the same category as Hindus or Polytheists.

In our last conversation, you responded to your understanding of what the lowest common denominator is with “They have to believe the Bible.” While this sounds good among conservative evangelicals, it hardly answers the question and actually creates more questions. For one, we do not worship a book or the words found within it. We worship the Object of that book. Secondly, a whole host of heretical groups and cults claim the Bible is their authority, but deny this by their doctrines (and lifestyles). Thirdly, the Jews do not believe the whole Bible and I don’t think you would say they are worshipping a false god... rather, you would put them in category two. So, my question to you is:

What is the lowest common denominator? What does someone have to believe about the Creator in order for them to be in category two and not three?

I look forward to your answer!

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

Chris Johnson said...

Bart,

Thank you for your comments on this method of evangelism. I have a good friend that is from Pakistan and is Islamic. Naveed and I both live in Nashville, we both work in technology and we have lunch every couple of weeks. His family continues to live in Pakistan, where he hopes to return in the future. He is not a Christian, and we have lively discussions concerning the gospel at our lunch venues.

Naveed has no qualms about trying to defend his faith, and would no doubt snicker at the technique of the Camel method. The gospel is either believed or not….

I guess I can understand the reason guys would get excited if they truly believed that a method was somehow making the gospel more successful. But, to believe that a method is somehow effective is simply wishful thinking. You simply have to take a look at the Apostle Paul to squash those intentions.

The gospel is power, and we are called to preach it without method. It needs no improvements, just willful preachers and teachers. It can get the job done! Always has,…. always will.

I appreciate your take on the Camel,

Blessings,
Chris

Anonymous said...

Dougald,

1. The method was developed by Muslims.
2. There are varying opinions among MBBs. While I have no statistics to back this up, my perception is that those who have a heart for evangelism and church planting absolutely love the method. And many MBBs who are not actively sharing their faith do not like it. THIS IS A GENERAL STATEMENT! Of course there are those in both categories who do not conform to this statement. Again, it is a perception and probably a biased one, no hard facts.
3. MBBs in many areas are using this or similar bridges from the Qur'an, and from their culture as a whole, to bridge to the Gospel. Amazing... they are actually reading the New Testament and following it!

His peace be with you,
From the Middle East

Chris Johnson said...

anonymous,

I am not trying to answer for Bart, but Christ answer this pretty clearly in Luke....

Luke 6:45-46 "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (46) "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

I think this applies to every man.

Blessings,
Chris

Anonymous said...

To all,

The Camel Method IS NOT AN EVANGELISM METHOD!

This is clearly stated in the book. There is actually a unit entitled "Bridge from the Koran to the Bible." The Camel Method is a way to find out who God is already working in... a "person of peace."

God's grace to us all,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

Chris,

If your response is directed to my question, I am quite confused.

I am not asking who is "saved," or a "believer," or "redeemed," or "justified." That is, those whose worship is acceptable to our Creator, those call Him Lord and also act as if He is Lord. Rather, I am asking how we distinguish between

A. Those who worship the Creator, but their worship is not acceptable to Him due to their refusal of His Messiah (Jews who call Him Lord, but their actions do not reflect it).

and

B. Those who are worshipping completely different gods.

Does the question make more sense like this?

May you dwell in His presence,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

"From the Middle East"

You said the Camel Method was developed by Muslims. Don't you think it would be better to use a method developed by Christians?

From Texas

Chris Johnson said...

From the Middle East,

The distinguishing is really not important, yet becomes very apparent in a hurry,.. ours is to preach the remedy…the gospel. The fact is that any man or women, whether the label is Christian, Muslim, or Jew is either worshipping the true God, revealed by the gospel, or they are worshipping other gods. There is no middle ground.

The called out ones “ekklessia” are not hard to spot…

John 15:8-9 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (9) "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

Romans 1:11-15 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; (12) that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine. (13) I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. (14) I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. (15) So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Paul was not confused as he taught the Jews at Rome. He himself was a Jew that worshipped, yet he realized that he worshipped another god of his own making before his meeting the real gospel on the road to Damascus, regardless of his Jewish upbringing.

Maybe I am still missing your point? Can you ask it another way?

If the Camel is not a method,...I guess some have called it a bridge,... I guess it could be just one of many ways to speak with a follower of Islam.

Blessings,
Chris

Tim Rogers said...

Brother/Sister From the Middle East,

Just a couple of questions to help clear up for me what exactly we are speaking of.

First, Can you explain for us exactly what MBB's are. I know the abbreviation stands for Muslim Background Believers, but can you share exactly what that consists of? Do these "Believers" still attend and worship in the Mosque?

Second, if the Camel Method is a "Pre-Evangelism" tool, then can you explain why the IMB has moved solely to the Camel Method in their evangelism training?

Blessings,
Tim

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Dougald,

I am not understanding why you seem to negate the clear teaching of the Caner Brothers when both grew up in a household that was strictly Muslim. A Sunni Muslim is a Muslim regardless if he lives in Algiers, Athens, or Atlanta.

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous said...

Tim,

I think even the Caner brothers would somewhat admit that there is a difference from Muslim's born in the Middle East and their access to teachings more readily than one who lived in Ohio.

I don't mean them any disrespect and I guess I should have said MORE than just the Caners.

My understanding is that they have several concerncs with the Camel Method as well.

I sat under the teaching of Dr. Emir Caner for a year so I definitely don't think little of him. Despite my reformed tendencies. :)

Through Christ,
Dougald

A Simple Student @ SWBTS said...

Is it possible that the reason that Akin et al. are "assuming facts not in evidence" is that their trial actually includes more evidence than yours does? Maybe they are considering facts greater than simply found in the book. Maybe they did their duty as writers and researched the Method thoroughly rather than simply doing a book review.

Bart, I know that we don't agree at all on the purpose or the validity of the Camel Method so I will leave it at that.

A Simple Student @ SWBTS

Bro. Robin said...

Bart

I wonder if Southern Baptists would be up in arms if the new technique of reaching out to Mormons would include saying, "I believe what the book of Mormon says about Joseph Smith."

Anonymous said...

I would just like to share a story or two with you all.

Before going to the middle east to share the good news for a little over 2 years, I learned the Camel Method as a way to find a person of peace. A person of peace (Luke 10), is a person who:

1) Receives you
2) Responds positively to the good news
3) Refers you and the good news to others, family and friends, etc.

The first time I used the Camel, I used an abbreviated version, which I continue to use. I didn't talk about Mohammed, but kept the conversation on Christ. There's no use arguing or using polemics. I shared the 3 main points of the Camel that come from Surah Al-Imran:

1) Jesus is holy.- It says in the Quran that Jesus is the Word of God.
2) Jesus has power over life and death. - It says in the Quran that Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and even created a bird (which may or may not have been true, but I'm just making a statement that it is written).
3) Jesus knows the way to heaven. - It says in the Quran that Jesus was raised by God to heaven.

After sharing this with my language helper, there was no response. He just said, ok, and moved on. He was not a person of peace. God had not prepared his heart to receive the good news.

The second time I used the Camel, I was in a group of 8 men, and I was asked, what I thought about Mohammed. They knew I was Christian. I told them that I read from the Quran some. I read about Jesus from Surah Al-Imran, and I launched into the 3 points. Afterwards, two men asked me for Bibles. Possible persons of peace.

Another time that I used the Camel, in another group of men, after I finished, I was again asked for a Bible. I gave the man a Luke, and I followed up with him. I asked him what he thought, and he said he wanted more, so I gave him a New Testament. Then I showed him the Jesus film. Afterwards, I shared a brief gospel presentation with him, and he believed and put his faith in Jesus that night. Then I began to disciple him and train him to find persons of peace and to share the good news. He went on to search for persons of peace and shared the gospel with others.

I did nothing but search for person of peace, using the Camel, and share the gospel. God did all the work on the hearts. We must understand that God is at work in the world and we must find where He is at work and join him there, not just in locations, but in individual hearts.

Light the darkness with me,
A light in the darkness

Chris Johnson said...

anonymous,

From where I come from, we call that "common sense".....not the Camel Method.

I have used that approach for 30 years.....

It works well! I think we are linked on this one...

Blessings,
Chris

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Dougald,

I do not mean to imply that your question is placing our Brothers Dr.s' Caner in a bad light. I just do not understand your reasoning in asking for a Muslim review. They grew up in a Muslim household who came here to convert people to be Muslims. I am quite certain that they know Muslim Doctrine.

Brother/Sister Simple SWBTS Student,

Did you read Brother Bart's post? He clearly stated that if those doing the assessment needed to talk with the authors of The Camel to clear up some mis-conceptions, can you imagine the confusion it causes to those who are less astute to sound doctrine? The point is that when a book is published the words stand on their own, not the goodness of the authors.

Brother/Sister A Light in the Darkness,

Do you not realize that what you have demonstrated is exactly what this post has called into question? I understand the need to find a person of peace. I understand the use of the Quran as a bridge. However, the second of the three questions that you use calls into question the sufficiency of the Scriptures. You are advocating something in the Book of Thomas which is not part of the Cannon. I am not calling into question your work, just your method. Notice what Brother Robin has asked. Should we use the affirm that Charles Taze Russel and Nelson Barbour had some correct views about the Return of Jesus in order to gain an audience with the Jehovah's Witness. Must we say that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God in order to witness to a Mormon?

As you disciple your believers, have they questioned where the Bible speaks about Jesus creating a bird? I just am not following this line of reasoning in trying to witness.

Blessings,
Tim

Bart Barber said...

I see the discussion and encourage you to all to participate enthusiastically in the conversation. This day has belonged to my son and to The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. Carry on in my absence, and I'll be back soon.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

My apologies because I did assume that you were implying what you mentioned. Its been a busy day and I didn't take the time to process your comment before responding.

You are probably correct in your assesment after now thinking about it. I do not know why I made that comment at the time it seemed appropriate. I cannot think of a good reason why. Consider that portion striken from my comment if you could.

I hope things are going well for you!

Through Christ,
Dougald

Anonymous said...

Tim,

I guess that is why I like the blogosphere. We are always able to keep one another accountable. At least if we let others keep us accountable.

Thanks for the comment and the correction. I didn't say that above and feel like I needed to say it.

Dougald

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

As a loyal Southern Baptist, I am greatly offended that you would dare to criticize the writings of a current president of one of our marvelous seminaries. How dare you, Sir!

:)

Les

Anonymous said...

Chris,

In order to do biblical evangelism, we should know a little about our target audience. You probably would not use a farming illustration to communicate the Gospel while street preaching in East Los Angeles.

I agree with you that all who do not follow Jesus are bound for Hell and not children of the King. I just like to follow the biblical model of meeting people where they are at and then communicating the message of the Gospel in a way that they can understand.

As far as asking the question a different way, I'm not sure how to. Maybe like this:

Did Paul worship the Creator (albeit without knowledge and certainly his worship was not acceptable to the Creator) prior to the Damscus road?

Peace to you,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

From Texas,

You said:

You said the Camel Method was developed by Muslims.

My apologies. By Muslim Background Believers.

Grace to you,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

From the Middle East,

Thanks for the answer. Next question:

Are these MBBs Christian or Muslim?

From Texas

Anonymous said...

Brother Tim,

You said:

First, Can you explain for us exactly what MBB's are. I know the abbreviation stands for Muslim Background Believers, but can you share exactly what that consists of? Do these "Believers" still attend and worship in the Mosque?

An MBB is just exactly what the name implies. A follower of the Way. A New Testament, born-again believer in Jesus. What that looks like depends upon the cultural context just as it does here.

You said:
Second, if the Camel Method is a "Pre-Evangelism" tool, then can you explain why the IMB has moved solely to the Camel Method in their evangelism training?

If the IMB has moved SOLEY to the Camel for pre-evangelism, then I must have missed the Rapture! I know of IMB missionaries employing everything from Chronological Bible Storying to T4T to simply quoting the Bible. I personally do not like methods, but prefer gleaning principles and applying them to each situation depending on the Spirit's leading.

If the Camel Method is followed exactly as Greeson presents it in the manual, it would be impossible to use the Camel for evangelism. Have you read the book?

May you walk in His presence today,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

From Texas,

See my response to Tim just above.

May His name be exalted in all the nations,
From the Middle East

Tim Rogers said...

Brother/Sister From the Middle East,

Thank you for your response. I have some questions to follow-up

As to the MBB and their definitions. You said; "What that looks like depends upon the cultural context just as it does here." Would that cultural context include continuing in the culture as if nothing every happened and attending worship in the mosque?

Also, I mis-stated a has moved for a is moving. As I understand it the IMB is moving toward The Camel Method solely for all Muslim pre-evangelism.

As I said earlier, I am not arguing that we do not use the bridge of the Quran. I am just saying that the Camel Method, if you read it as it is written, gives the impression that the Muslim writings are just as authoritative as Holy Writ. We are not trying to get Muslims to become part of our team, we are trying to help them experience a metamorphosis.

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous said...

From the Middle East,

You never answered my question. Do your Muslim Background Believers understand themselves as Christians or as Muslims?

From Texas

Anonymous said...

Brother Tim,

You said:
Would that cultural context include continuing in the culture as if nothing every happened and attending worship in the mosque?

Biblically, someone can not be born again and continue in any culture as if nothing happened... maybe we should also check our plank to see exactly how syncretized our churches are within our own culture, but we won't go there! The answer is that they must begin following Jesus and this is always counter-cultural. It is the nature of the Gospel to affirm those things within a culture that are good and to confront that which is not. On a side-note, we hold new believers accountable to reaching out to those around them immediately (evangelism). There is no waiting... they must begin testifying of what He has done in their lives immediately. Not all are obedient, but this is the biblical model that is taught.

You said:
Also, I mis-stated a has moved for a is moving. As I understand it the IMB is moving toward The Camel Method solely for all Muslim pre-evangelism.

Not sure where you heard this. If it is true, it would be a shame for the IMB to box missionaries in to one method when there are so many worldviews (and individuals with each) thereby requiring us to be equipped to give an answer to all in a way they can understand.

You said:
I am just saying that the Camel Method, if you read it as it is written, gives the impression that the Muslim writings are just as authoritative as Holy Writ.

I do not agree with this statement. Rather I see this method as utilizing the truth that Muslims already have (there are some true statements within the Qur'an) to bring them to a fuller understanding of who God is, who we are and who Jesus is.

You said:
We are not trying to get Muslims to become part of our team, we are trying to help them experience a metamorphosis.

Amen!!

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

From Texas,

I thought the previous answer would suffice, but am happy to answer your question by using one of the two words of your choosing. However, both words are relative and I am not sure what definition you, personally, have for each. Please define them from your perspective so that I can give an answer appropriate for you.

His peace be yours in abundance,
From the Middle East

Tim Rogers said...

Brother/Sister From the Middle East,

You said; "There is no waiting... they must begin testifying of what He has done in their lives immediately. Not all are obedient, but this is the biblical model that is taught." In your answer you basically call attention to two concerns I believe are at the heart of our disagreement with The Camel. First, you have not answered whether or not MBB's are attending the Mosque and continuing on as if there is no change. Second, you state that new Believers are encouraged to begin sharing their faith. By attending the Mosque, and also probably a weekly discipleship Bible Study are you not creating a hodge podge religious stew where one can choose whatever religious standard will work at a time? Third, isn't one called to come out from among them, instead of remaining part of the world? It seems that the method, while pre-evangelism, doesn't really separate the True TRUTH from relevant Truth. Thus, when a 'conversion' takes place the 'Believer' does not separate from the false teachings, one just adds another teaching.

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous said...

Brother Tim,

First, I would like to preface this by repeating that the Camel Method is not my "preferred" method of doing pre-evangelism. Rather, it is one of MANY tools in my toolbelt. Secondly, it seems that you have read a lot of your own assumptions into what I wrote.

You said:
First, you have not answered whether or not MBB's are attending the Mosque and continuing on as if there is no change.

Uhh, what about these two quotes from my previous comment:

1. Biblically, someone can not be born again and continue in any culture as if nothing happened.
2. The answer is that they must begin following Jesus and this is always counter-cultural.

You said:
By attending the Mosque, and also probably a weekly discipleship Bible Study are you not creating a hodge podge religious stew where one can choose whatever religious standard will work at a time?

There are a lot of assumptions in that one. Can you find Mosque attendance or a "weekly discipleship Bible Study" anywhere in my comments above? I have never encouraged attending Mosque. Though the Mosque can be a great place to engage those who are "religious" ... depending on local culture.

You said:
Third, isn't one called to come out from among them, instead of remaining part of the world?

Absolutely! Amen! May the Scriptures alone be our standard!!

You said:
It seems that the method, while pre-evangelism, doesn't really separate the True TRUTH from relevant Truth.

You will have to elaborate on what you mean by "true truth" and "relevant truth." My understanding has always been that something is either true or it isn't.

You said:
Thus, when a 'conversion' takes place the 'Believer' does not separate from the false teachings, one just adds another teaching.

My brother, do you have evidence of this happening on the field with IMB missionaries who are exclusively using the Camel Method? Are their doctrinal issues and practices worse than the Thessalonians? How about the Galatians? Maybe they have some of the same issues as the Corinthians?

Brother, ultimately when the church is planted, it is messy. This does not mean that we do not address the issues, only that there will be issues that will need to be addressed. If the apostle Paul (as an insider to both Jewish and Greco-Roman culture) had to write letters to churches HE PLANTED in order to address issues and even heresies... did you really think that rural Southern Baptists who were saved as children and grew up within SB churches would then go outside of the ONLY culture they have ever known, learn a new language and then plant perfect churches in megacities among those who have never heard the Gospel and have no inkling as to what is looks like to follow Jesus?

I love your heart for faithfulness to the Scriptures brother.

His peace be yours in abundance,
From the Middle East

PS - Do you approve or disapprove of teaching those who have just come to faith in Jesus to share their new found faith?

Anonymous said...

From the Middle East,

In the identification of a Christian as opposed to a Muslim, there is no "relative" answer. Either your MBB identifies himself as a Christian, a Muslim, or something else. Your refusal to provide a straight answer to a straight question implies that your Camel MBBs are not Christians but something else. If they will not identify themselves as Christians, then why should we? My church does not send money to the IMB to plant mosques but churches.

From Texas

Tim Rogers said...

Brother/Sister From the Middle East,

Yes, I approve of that form of discipleship. It is vitally important that this step be one of the first.

Allow me to ask another question that I believe relevant to this conversation and point to, I believe, the flaws of The Camel. Do the MBB consider themselves Christians? Or do they view that word as a western culture term and reject it?

Also, you responded to my True TRUTH question with apparent confusion. You responded; "You will have to elaborate on what you mean by "true truth" and "relevant truth." My understanding has always been that something is either true or it isn't." Francis Shaeffer (sp) was one that used the term True TRUTH. It has been a while and so I am a little rusty at this explanation. However, as I understand his thesis Truth was everywhere. Some go with a thesis that all Truth (Relevant Truth) is God's TRUTH (True TRUTH). My statement appeals to the fact that the Quran states; Jesus is holy; Jesus has power over life and death; Jesus knows the way to heaven. The statements are all truth but they are not True TRUTH. Jesus is holy, but his holiness does not have it's basis in the Quran. Would it not be better for this pre-evangelism to begin with John 1 and then proceed to the Quran? Jesus having power over life and death is True TRUTH. However, we then assign a book that is not scripture with the basis of support. This moves Truth TRUTH down to just Truth. One another point we say that Jesus knowing the way to Heaven is Truth. However, the statement on it's own is not accurate. Jesus does not just know the way to Heaven, he is the Way to Heaven. True TRUTH assigns Jesus as the door and the WAY to Heaven.

This is great dialog and I appreciate your openness to dialog with me and others.

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous said...

From Texas,

Even in the U.S., a supposed "christian nation," this term has multiple meanings. For example, it could mean someone who goes out and yells at those on streets to repent of their sins. Or, to many in the U.S. it means "anyone who believes in God." Even the early church did not use this term to refer to themselves.

Words mean different things to different people. If you are asking me if they are christians according to the biblical definition (born-again, followers of the Way), then yes, they are christians. However, if you are asking me if they are "christians" in that they "believe in God" but also think fornication, abortion and materialism are okay... no, they are not.

If you are asking me if they are "submitted-ones" to the Kingship of Jesus, then yes, they are "submitted ones." If you are asking me if they are "submitted-ones" to the teachings of Muhammad, then no, they are not.

Does this help clear things up?

Tim,

Haven't yet read your comment, but I've gotta run. Will attempt to check-in later. Grace to you.

His peace be with you,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

From the Middle East,

Let me clearly state the question,

"Do these MBBs call themselves 'Christians'?"

Now, please provide a clear answer of "Yes" or "No."

From Texas

Phil and Mary Ann said...

From Texas:

While I understand your concern regarding calling oneself a "Christian" and understand your distress regarding "From the Middle East," the term "Christian" has many different connotations in different places. The term in some Islamic places may connote people who are alcohol drinking, wife abusing, language abusing people who worship three gods. (Some Muslims equate Christianity with America and MTV) That is not the image you want to portray. Describing who you are, like saying, "I am a follower of Jesus Christ as defined by the Old and New Testaments" is perhaps a better explanation. I am not saying the term should never be used -- it is biblical -- but on the onset maybe an explanation is better.

Anonymous said...

Phil and Mary Ann,

Thank you for stepping in.

Doesn't it strike you as strange that your MBBs are allowing "Christian," a biblical designation, to be defined by the host culture rather than by the Bible? If you allow Muslims to define "Christian," then most likely you are also allowing them to define, "God" (i.e. Allah) and "Jesus" (i.e. Isa). If so, these people are not calling themselves "Christians," (a biblical term not to be ashamed of), because they are not Christians!

This brings up the next question, "Why should we support missionaries who do not convert people to become Christians?"

From Texas

Phil and Mary Ann said...

From Texas:

Let me give you an example of what I mean. There are some countries where the only people allowed (legally) to drink alcohol are ethnic Christians. These ethnic Christians have persevered b/c they have not evangelized their surrounding culture. On top of that, information is pumped into a largely unsuspecting culture that states Christians are not moral people.

What you are and I saying when we use the term "Christian" is not what the general host culture understands. Explaining who we are in Christ before using the term is better. I am not saying never use the term; I am saying, if you want accurately to explain who you are to a Muslim non-believer, using the term "Christian" in some cultures is not wise, at least in the beginning. When God saves people from the host culture, then there may be reason to use the term, after it is properly explained and understood.

Tim Guthrie said...

So are we leading people to repent of their sins and accept Christ or ????? What about Lordship????

I just don't see this in the Camel approach nor from what I am reading. Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Phil and Mary Ann,

Whatever the reason, being ashamed of the name of Christ, and Christian means "little Christ", is a cause for judgment not salvation. Tim is troubled, as am I, by the fact that the Camel method is not about evangelism; the Camel method is not about proclaiming Christ as the only Lord and Savior; the Camel method is not about proclaiming Christ as the Second Person of the Divine Trinity. The Camel method is about hiding the truth so that the truth doesn't create offense. The Camel method is opposed to the biblical concept that the Gospel is a stumbling stone and an offense to the rebellious.

The true Christ of Scripture proclaims, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." The false Jesus of the Camel method proclaims, "We have a savior for you who does not demand that you repent of Islam."

Southern Baptists have a choice before them as the result of the heresy of the Camel method being promoted by their own IMB. Southern Baptists, choose you this day whom you will serve: The Christ of Scripture, who calls men to forsake sin and falsehood, or the Jesus of the Camel, who tells Muslim men that their religion is not wrong.

From Texas

Tim Rogers said...

Brother/Sister From the Middle East,

Take your time, I know that ministry and family take precedence over blogging.

I will openly and honestly say that I do seem a bit confused and even frustrated over your lack of openness in stating that MBB's do not call themselves Christians. It is like we are defending the misuse of the term Christian, which is not a western euro cultural term. This term came from Scripture that was written in a Middle Eastern culture. It would be like Muslims refusing to call themselves Muslim because people in the west believe everyone that is a Muslim is a terrorist.

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous said...

From Texas,

One more time:

One, the Camel Method is NOT AN EVANGELISM METHOD.

It is a bridge to get to evangelism. The book is very clear on this. Have you read the book?

Warning, I rarely employ sarcasm as a rhetorical device, but feel it is called for at this point. Here goes...

As far as your concern that some would dare not use ONE OF THE TERMS the New Testament uses to describe believers because their target people group perceives the word in a negative light...

You seem more concerned with use the right words than you do in communicating the right Message in a way that the target audience can understand. Or to put it in a different light, you might take issue with those missionaries that you support following Paul's example and being all things to all people. Maybe we should stop speaking their language altogether and force everyone to learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek if they want to hear the Gospel! 'Tis a slippery slope brother.

May God grant you wisdom as you preach tomorrow using no local terminology, illustrations or even the English language. May He grant the gift of interpretation of tongues to all of your congregation so that they may understand the Greek you preach in...

His grace, mercy & peace be with you,
From the Middle East

PS - You may want to check out a scholarly treatment of contextualization entitled, "Contextualization in the New Testament. Patterns for Theology and Mission" by Dean Flemming. Excellent book.

PPS - I am not trying to offend you with any of the above. Those who have seen my comments before will know that I take great care to communicate in a manner worthy of God's called out ones. So, please do not take the above as a sign of frustration, anger, etc. I truly do wish God's grace, mercy & peace upon you.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

I was about to respond to your comment, but have to run. More to come...

from the Middle East

Anonymous said...

From the Middle East,

I will preach tomorrow, from the Word of God, and I plan on using the very words of Scripture, rather than making them up on my own, referring to the Greek and preaching in English.

It makes one wonder. If the Camel method is not an evangelism method, then why are you so passionate about using it and defending it? Your use of offensive rhetoric indicates that your naming it "pre-evangelism" is perhaps a rhetorical smokescreen. How exactly do you present the Gospel, then, since you are spending so much time on your so-called "pre-evangelism method," which has nothing to do with the Gospel?

And, yes, I have read both versions of The Camel, and find the second was merely trying to make up for the blatant heresy of the first. Rather than Flemming or Bosch--whose postmodern scholarship is really behind this--why not read Hesselgrave, who is at least an orthodox evangelical?

Finally, let it be seen by all, From the Middle East, that you never answered the question posed to you, although it was repeatedly asked. Why hide the truth that your "converts" refuse to be called Christian? Don't be ashamed, step into the light. If you decide to repent, I will come back and converse. If not, know that you have been called to the light and you alone are responsible for your response.

From Texas

ruthie said...

From Texas,
It would be helpful perhaps if you did some reading on contextualization and cross-cultural evangelism. Perhaps you could spend some time in another culture to gain a better perspective on what others are trying to explain to you.

Anonymous said...

And so now we have brothers in Christ calling us in to the light and repent for sometimes using a witnessing tool that they deem as heretical. At least this guy is consistent in his application. I have often wanted to post something that sounds like CB would say during this discussion over the last year or so, saying either step up and start calling for investigations and resignations or STAND DOWN, but that just doesn't fit my personality. Of course, that will be difficult now when you have 3 staff of another SB seminary daring to contradict the analysis of the mid-west profs. This whole debate is beginning to look like the PPL question among the IMB BOT. "We think that anyone that has one is not worthy to work for us.... but all of you that already do have one and have been appointed - you can stay." Doesn't consistency and integrity demand that you get rid of anybody that has a PPL? I applaud Patterson and his actions in the Klouda case, because at least he had the gumption to implement his policies all the way. If this tool is as terrible as has been stated here, then please stand up at the next BOT meeting and demand Greeson's head. If, however, the Camel method is just a tool, and your IMB servants are actually trying their best through the power of the Holy Spirit to humbly yet boldly proclaim the gospel of salvation to a Muslim world that desperately needs to hear it, perhaps you could actually dialogue with us instead of simply responding, "but the book says..."

I have often wondered what your motivation has been, Bart, in continuing to post on this subject. Somehow, even with the faculty of another SB seminary disagreeing with your take, you continue. It sure could seem from this that the witch hunt that some people associated with SWBTS were accused of in regards to the IMB and its policies might not be as far-fetched as was stated...

***IamanM***

Ray said...

From Texas says:

"Why hide the truth that your "converts" refuse to be called Christian? Don't be ashamed, step into the light. If you decide to repent, I will come back and converse. If not, know that you have been called to the light and you alone are responsible for your response.

So "From Texas" is calling out the MBB's to step forward ( Even though nobody stated they refused to be called Chirstian) and yet he refuses to sign his name. Now that is funny. Is this not ironic? Step forward Texas, come into the light and let everybody know who you are?

Anonymous said...

You said:
My statement appeals to the fact that the Quran states; Jesus is holy; Jesus has power over life and death; Jesus knows the way to heaven. The statements are all truth but they are not True TRUTH.

With the true/True TRUTH categories that you (and Schaffer) are proposing, it seems like you are saying that there are some things that are true, some things that are false and then the Gospel (True TRUTH) is in a league of its own. I am more than happy to work within this framework, but would like to say that the Gospel (True TRUTH) also falls within the category of true things. How this applies to the above quote is that the Camel Method does not claim to present the Gospel (True TRUTH), rather it is a bridge to get from where someone is to the Gospel (True TRUTH).

You said:
Jesus is holy, but his holiness does not have it's basis in the Quran.

Neither does His holiness have it’s basis in the Bible. Rather, His holiness has it’s basis in the very nature of Who He is. The Scriptures articulate this and we know them to be inspired and therefore reliable. However, if I am having a discussion with a secular materialist here in America and he says to me “I believe that Jesus is holy.” Rest assured that I would not respond with “Well, that is only true if you believe the whole Bible to be the word of God and even then, only if the Bible is sole means by which you came to this conclusion.” Rather, I would affirm the true statement that he made and present more of the Gospel to him at that point. Although we are people of the Book, we must work hard to avoid worshipping the Book itself and forgetting that prior to the Book was the One who it speaks of, and if there was no more paper with which we could copy the Book onto, He would continue to exist... He exists outside of the Book.

You said:
Would it not be better for this pre-evangelism to begin with John 1 and then proceed to the Quran?

Give it a shot. I’m not opposed to it! Again, let me repeat, the Camel is only ONE TOOL in a large toolbox. We strive to be well-equipped for all situations. In addition, I would caution that you may need to do pre-pre-evangelism if you desire to use the Bible as most Muslims consider it corrupted.

You said:
One another point we say that Jesus knowing the way to Heaven is Truth. However, the statement on it's own is not accurate.

I do not agree with your statement. While it certainly does not communicate the whole Gospel, this statement in and of itself is true. Jesus does know the way to Heaven.

You said:
Jesus does not just know the way to Heaven, he is the Way to Heaven. True TRUTH assigns Jesus as the door and the WAY to Heaven.

Agreed 100%. Not only that, but it should be communicated!

His grace be yours in abundance as you proclaim His Word today,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

Brother Tim,

You said:
Do the MBB consider themselves Christians? Or do they view that word as a western culture term and reject it?

One of the first tasks of the cross-cultural missionary is to learn the language of his/her target people group. The best way to do this is from people who grew up speaking this language as they will know what different words mean in the dictionary, and also what they mean in everyday conversation. Both are important, but common usage is obviously the most important factor for us to consider when communicating.

Here comes my opinion:

Using the term "Chrsitian" (or another word) should depend upon the meaning of the word in their culture. Not all MBBs come from the same culture. Most Arab Muslims who have never had contact with Christians (that I have come into contact with) equate the term Christian with everything you watch on T.V. and then say, “Our nation is godless and going down the tubes.” In the places where there are no “Christians,” the word often means those who fornicate, support abortion, accept scantily-clad women as okay, drink alcohol, use foul language and are the offspring of those who came during the Crusades (wearing crosses) and slaughtered their ancestors. While in this type of culture, I, personally, will not allow my name to be associated with such things. On the other hand, in countries where there is an indigenous Christian population, the word does not always mean this. Often it simply means one who believes in God and the whole Bible. In this case, I, personally, do not mind my name being associated with the term. One Arab Muslim friend told me that in his country, they use the word often translated as Christian for the ancestors of those who took part in the Crusades and there is another term for those indigenous “Christians” who fought the Crusaders alongside the Muslims!

In all of this, we must be faithful to communicate the Gospel to our target audience. Will we allow a particular word to get in the way? Are we attempting to redeem this particular word? Or are we attempting to communicate a redeeming Message in an already-established language? Is it possible to communicate the redeeming Message by not using an offensive word (associated with abortion, alcohol consumption, the Crusades, etc), that really is not essential to the Gospel Message itself?

Those are some of my personal views on the topic. But ultimately, what the MBBs call themselves will be determined by each autonomous congregation. This is not to say that missionaries have no influence, but it is to say that if they have the Bible and are truly born-again, the Spirit will guide them to communicate effectively within their own culture.

I would be more than happy to dialogue more on this topic if something is not clear.

May the Spirit use you in a powerful way today,
From the Middle East

Anonymous said...

From Texas,

You said:
How exactly do you present the Gospel, then, since you are spending so much time on your so-called "pre-evangelism method," which has nothing to do with the Gospel?

1. Depending upon the situation I use different passages from Scripture. However, in general, I usually proclaim the story of God’s interaction with humanity. Beginning in Genesis and going through the Great Commission focusing in on the theme of the necessity of blood sacrifice and how none other than Jesus could be the perfect sacrifice.
2. Pre-evangelism (my preference is the term “bridging”) has everything to do with proclaiming the Gospel. It is, in fact, how we get to the Gospel. In cross-cultural situations it is often an essential part of gaining an audience to proclaim to. We have Paul as our example for bridging from what little truth people have to proclaiming the Gospel. It also helps us in discerning who has “ears to hear” so that we do not continually run around “casting our pearls before swine.”
3. I have repeatedly said in the comment section that the Camel Method IS NOT the primary tool that I use for bridging to the Gospel or “discerning the person of peace.” It seems as if my communication skills are lacking in this discussion. My apologies.

You said:
Why hide the truth that your "converts" refuse to be called Christian?

Since both you and Tim felt as if I was hiding something. I apologize. Nothing to hide here. See my response to Tim above. Why do you refuse to answer my question and define the words “Christian” and “Muslim?”

You said;
If you decide to repent, I will come back and converse. If not, know that you have been called to the light and you alone are responsible for your response.

Thank you for your candor. However, all of my ministry decisions are based upon the word of God and made in community with those who serve among Muslims. Not a single one of my fellow servants has ever called anything we are talking about here sin. I have not violated Scripture and my conscience is clear. Thank you for being concerned enough about my heart’s condition to bring this up.

May the believers who meet with you today be encouraged and equipped and may those who are lost in their own sins be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgement,
From the Middle East

to-obey-is-better said...

Wow.
To those who keep asking, "do they call themselves Christian":
Have you EVER been in another culture long term? How many times does it have to be said that the word "Christian" as you define it, is NOT how everyone in the world defines it?

I know it's been said here several times! Can you not understand this?

Our context is more Buddhist and the word Christian doesn't have many bad connotations here, but often we say we are "Followers of Jesus and His teachings" instead of "Christian".

Please try to understand that if you walked into another country and said, "Hi, everyone, I'm a Christian", then the liklihood is great that you will be thought of as a drunkard, who fornicates and approves of scantily clad women. Is this this picture that you want people to have in their minds when you're there to tell them about the Lord?

I would hope that you'd find another way to say you are a follower of Christ!

imb m in asia

Bart Barber said...

I'm busy. I'll get back to this thread later.

Chris Johnson said...

From the Middle East,

First of all….I am truly thankful that you are on the mission field….so please take any feeble feedback of mine in that light….

I agree that knowing your audience is an advantage….and I think that is the gist of Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 9. Yet as he understood the culture and the tradition, he did not use the culture and tradition as a bridge while defining the gospel. The gospel is never vulnerable in that way. Our understanding of the culture may help us not to wind up in jail, or get killed, or it may help to not have our conversation cut short, whether you are in the “Middle East” or the “Lower Eastside of Nashville”….but it has nothing to do with the gospel. The gospel is outside of us and is not changed or altered outside of the sovereignty of God. We are tasked simply to be obedient to tell the real gospel.


When you had asked the question again:

“Did Paul worship the Creator (albeit without knowledge and certainly his worship was not acceptable to the Creator) prior to the Damscus road?”

This is an excellent question btw? Paul’s testimony as a Pharisaical Jew before the road to Damascus is very telling because we know he was not filled with the spirit until after the road confrontation seen in Acts 9.

Paul may have actually worshipped something he did not know before the road confrontation. True worship never misses the mark and is never to an unknown God. So, I would have to agree with the Apostle Paul... that anyone without the Spirit of God or anyone for that matter from OT or NT will not worship in spirit and in truth without the Spirit of God.

Many in the OT and NT are shown worshipping in spirit and truth, so it is clear that God expects it and brings it about as well. This is where the god of a Muslim, the god of an unbelieving Jew, the god of a Mormon, and the god of a pretending baptized unbelieving “Baptist Christian” falls way short. There is no middle ground.

Blessings,
Chris

Anonymous said...

Chris,

RE: worship

I understand what you are saying about worship and certainly agree that true worship (in spirit & truth) is only through the blood of Jesus. What I am attempting to communicate is that he (Paul) was ATTEMPTING to serve & worship God... the One True God, yet his zeal was without knowledge. I would say that the object of the Hasidic Jew's worship is the One True God... yet he is unable to worship in spirit and truth. Would you agree or would you say that the object of the Jew's affection is a false god?

You said:
Yet as he understood the culture and the tradition, he did not use the culture and tradition as a bridge while defining the gospel.

Please explain why Paul uses different expressions and language when addressing Jews and pagans? How would you explain this statement (speaking of an altar to an "unknown god"), "Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." These are only two examples in Acts. The evidence is there in his letters as well... in abundance. The culture NEVER DEFINES the Gospel. God has already defined It. Rather we use bridges within the culture to COMMUNICATE the Gospel. All cultures have hints and whispers of truth. We use these to bridge to The Truth (or, as Tim calls it True Truth) ... or, we can simply refer to it as The Good News!

His peace be with you,
From the Middle East

PS - My apologies for not articulating well, this was written quickly & Ive gotta run!

Tim Rogers said...

I am busy right now but will get back to this.

Blessings,
Tim

Chris Johnson said...

From the Middle East,

I agree with you that the culture never defines the gospel and I don’t hear you contradicting that at all. So…I think we are linked on that as well as that we can use what we know of a culture to help us navigate the waters. I do believe that the True Truth (trademarked by Tim) is really aggravating to anyone regardless of ethnicity because anyone that does not have the Spirit of God is hostile to God,… according to Paul.

Romans 8:6-10 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (7) because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, (8) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (10) If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.


This was Paul’s main argument to his friends that were being rescued from their future Hasidic relationships. Paul was simply saying in the indicative,…. you that have the Spirit of God are alive and can worship. I believe Paul has been very clear that worship is not even possible unless you are in Christ, unless you are controlled by the Spirit of God (Pre or Post resurrection). I would say that if a Jew, Christian, Mormon, or Muslim, no matter the tradition….if they reject Christ and are not in Christ, which is the same as not having the Spirit of God, then they are without hope and their affections are not placed on the one True God, in fact they are hostile to Him according to Him. Therein demonstrates the impossibility to worship.

Blessings,
Chris

Anonymous said...

Brother Chris,

You said:
think we are linked on that as well as that we can use what we know of a culture to help us navigate the waters. I do believe that the True Truth (trademarked by Tim) is really aggravating to anyone regardless of ethnicity because anyone that does not have the Spirit of God is hostile to God,… according to Paul.

Amen!

You said:
I believe Paul has been very clear that worship is not even possible unless you are in Christ, unless you are controlled by the Spirit of God (Pre or Post resurrection). I would say that if a Jew, Christian, Mormon, or Muslim, no matter the tradition….if they reject Christ and are not in Christ, which is the same as not having the Spirit of God, then they are without hope and their affections are not placed on the one True God, in fact they are hostile to Him according to Him. Therein demonstrates the impossibility to worship.

I agree with this to the extent that they cannot worship in spirit and truth (they are enemies of Him). Just as not knowing the One True God through the Messiah does not preclude someone from acknowledging that there is only One True God (yet they still lack a relationship with Him)... in the same way, someone may acknowledge that there is only One True God and offer some form of worship to Him, but this does not mean it was offered in truth on the basis of being in the Messiah.

There are examples of "worship" that is not "in spirit and truth" in the Scriptures. For example, we see "worship" offered to idols throughout the Old Testament. Affirmation of this in the New Testament (Acts 7:42-43, 17:23). We also see the "worship" of angels (Col 2:18), worship of the Beast (Rev 13:8, 12, 19:10), John attempting to worship an angel (Rev 19:10) and people who worship the One True God but in vain (Matt 15:9). Those who worship God in vain seem to be who Paul is referring to in Romans 10 where he says that they are "zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge." This is because they sought to establish their own righteousness rather than submit to Jesus (God's righteousness). Again, this is the God of the Old Testament that they are zealous for... yet in ignorance. This is all I'm saying. Without a doubt they misunderstand the nature of God and what He has done on their behalf (even though they were the ones who held the very oracles of God)... yet Paul acknowledges they are zealous for Him (not a false god).

We may be saying the same thing here or be much closer than it seems.

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

Chris Johnson said...

From the Middle East,

When you said……

“This is all I'm saying. Without a doubt they misunderstand the nature of God and what He has done on their behalf (even though they were the ones who held the very oracles of God)... yet Paul acknowledges they are zealous for Him (not a false god).

We may be saying the same thing here or be much closer than it seems.”

I don’t think we were really ever apart on these things, but it is vitally important to clarify the gospel and to understand our utter sinfulness before God.

These various other religions do worship who they think God is, and they certainly know there is a real God. But, anyone that is not controlled by the Spirit of God (law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus) does not worship God. Thank goodness for Paul’s letter to the Romans….

Romans 1:18-25 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

So thankfully, Middle East, you are declaring the real gospel to the folks where God has you stationed. Regardless if you use the Camel or some other method, ….sooner or later, the sweetness of the real gospel will be brought forward, and that’s when it gets exciting! It is amazing to me how the commonwealth of Israel could have the oracles of God and some be hostile to God. Of course,…all humans seem to have the same problem. Thank God for the remedy! I think if you dig with me a little deeper into Romans 10, the zeal for God was not a holy sanctifying zeal, but a zeal for religious things or law and not “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2), …much like the previous life of Paul making the worship of God impossible.

I pray things go well with you on the other side of the world,
Blessings my Brother,
Chris

Anonymous said...

Looks like this thread is no longer active. Just in case... I'll be out of pocket for a couple of weeks. But will check back in when I can.

May the Spirit lead us all,
From the Middle East

Chris Johnson said...

FTME,

Have a great journey,....!

Blessings,
Chris

David Rogers said...

From the Middle East,

I just now got around to reading this post and the comment thread. Also, the other posts on this blog and threads where you have commented in the past.

I must say up front that I have not yet read "The Camel Method" in its entirety, so I do not consider myself to be qualified to give an informed opinion on the subject. I do have a copy, and hope to get around to reading and studying it on my own soon.

But I do believe I can unashamedly and authoritatively say the following:

I am very, very proud to have you as my colleague in the IMB, and as my brother/sister in Christ. Your commitment to honor the Word of God, understanding of missiological principles, love for the lost, and humility, grace, and clarity in the way you express yourself has earned my total respect and admiration.

Please do not be discouraged by some of the responses you have received by some on this comment thread. I know that all of us must answer before the Lord, and that is what really matters. But, as your brother in Christ, and colleague on the mission field, I want to openly offer my encouragement and affirmation as well. From all I am able to discern on this blog, you are the epitome of what IMB missions should be about.

I do not know if we have ever had the chance to meet personally. But, if not, I would count it a deep honor to make your acquaintance, if the Lord provides that opportunity.

David (IMB Spain)