Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Camel: Pre-Evangelism Alone?

Apologists for The Camel: How Muslims Are Coming to Faith in Christ make much of the claim that the book only teaches pre-evangelism. This point is important because the book lacks so much of the content of a genuinely Christian presentation of the gospel. If one can assert that the meat of the gospel is elsewhere—that The Camel just stops short of giving us the actual evangelistic method used to present the gospel to Muslims—then one is free to surmise that all of The Camel's problems are resolved and tied up into a nice, neat package when a missionary moves into the unwritten actual evangelism that takes place outside the activities presented in the book.

Actually, The Camel: How Muslims Are Coming to Faith in Christ purports to include not only the pre-evangelistic "bridging" but also the full presentation of the gospel. In the chapter "Camel Destinations" the authors include "The Korbani Plan of Salvation." So, is the Korbani plan of salvation evangelism or merely pre-evangelism? Well, the phrase "plan of salvation" generally is one that we would associate with evangelism, not pre-evangelism. Furthermore, the book itself asserts that this chapter is evangelistic, not pre-evangelistic:

If a Muslim listens to you through the entire Camel presentation, keep in mind that he has still not heard the Gospel. Your Camel presentation allowed him to see Isa in a way he has never seen Him before and gain an eye-opening glimpse into who He really is. The presentation lifted Jesus out of prophet status and raised Him nearer to Savior status. A foundation for hearing the plan of salvation is now in place.

In your Camel journey thus far you have begun a relationship with a Muslim or a group of Muslims, but your journey is far from complete. There are three very important destinations ahead of you. In this chapter you will learn how to reach these three destinations: 1) Presenting the plan of salvation to a Muslim, 2) Bridging a Muslim into the Bible and 3) Launching a new Muslim-background believer into a church-planting movement. (111)


In order to share the plan of salvation with a Muslim in a manner that he will more readily understand, consider using the Korbani Plan of Salvation. The Korbani Plan uses natural bridges within the culture of every Muslim to introduce the New Testament message of salvation. (113)

So, according to The Camel itself, the book contains not only pre-evangelism but also contains a complete plan of salvation—it is an evangelistic presentation and is subject to evaluation as such. The Korbani plan of salvation appears on pages 113-120. The Camel, complete with the Korbani plan of salvation:

  1. Never clarifies that Mohammed is not a true prophet.
  2. Never confronts the Muslim Qur'anic concept of Allah as deficient and unacceptable, teaching who "Allah" truly is in accord with biblical revelation.
  3. Never suggests to the Muslim prospective convert anything other than wholesale acceptance of the Qur'an as being on par with or greater than the Bible. Indeed, the destination after the presentation of the gospel is entitled "Your Second Destination: God's Word." The first destination, you understand, was evangelism employing the Korbani plan of salvation. This second destination is an attempt to talk a Muslim who has heard the gospel into reading the Bible. Clearly there is built into the very ordering of the steps a presumption that one can fully evangelize a person who has not even yet accepted the Bible as material worthy of reading! Why should this Muslim read the Bible? Because the Qur'an says to do so. The Bible's worthiness and authority, in The Camel system, is derived from the worthiness and authority of the Qur'an. Nowhere in The Camel is this situation corrected.

Finally, as we consider whether The Camel is honest, whether The Camel is Christian, and whether The Camel is biblical, I think it is critically important to recognize that The Camel is actually TWO conversations in ONE book. First, there is the conversation that Greeson is having with you, the Christian who wants to learn to present the gospel to Muslims. Second, there is the conversation that Greeson wants you to have with a Muslim believer. The questions about whether The Camel is honest and orthodox pertain to the second conversation more than the first. If The Camel says that we, of course, know that Mohammed is a false prophet, but that we must be sure not to mention that fact to a Muslim prospective convert, then Greeson's admission to you is not the same thing as being honest with Muslims when we present the gospel to them.

Key details of the nature of God, Jesus, God's Revelation, and the Gospel are treated by The Camel as "insider information." The book discusses the status of Mohammed and the Qur'an, as well as the obstacles to Christian faith that a Muslim faces. But it carefully instructs evangelists to Muslims not to let Muslims in on that conversation. And throughout The Camel, including the entirety of the Korbani plan of salvation, that deceptive situation never changes.


Dave Miller said...

Bart, I am admittedly not an expert in these matters.

However, I have friends who serve in Middle Eastern/Muslim countries.

They talk about the need for relationship-building and pre-evangelism. If you go out with a gospel tract, you will be on the plane home. But if you build relationships first, then share over time, you can be well-received.

could this be the intent of that? could it be that they are truly trying to build a bridge to the sharing of the gospel.

Of course, I would hope that at some point, they will confront Islam's false teachings and the uniqueness of Christ.

Again, I am not an expert, just going on what friends have said who worked in these countries.

Bart Barber said...


I am not knocking the idea of pre-evangelism. I am making the point that The Camel never does the things that you and I "hope" that it would do "at some point," and it claims to be the whole enchilada: pre-evangelism and the presentation of the gospel.

Dave Miller said...

I guess I need to study this thing.

Dave Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Miller said...

Bart, went and did some lite reading about it. Still no expert.

But it seems to me that the folks I read about were using CAMEL as a bridge to share the actual, real gospel of Christ.

If that is the case (if, indeed, it is) and the CAMEL method is really only being used as a bridge to a full-fledged gospel presentation, is that okay to you?

I guess what I am asking is if you have a fundamental problem with the CAMEL method, or is your objection to using it alone? If it is a means to getting to the gospel, and not an end in itself, do you still object?

Bart Barber said...


I do not have any objection to bridging per se. I object to the dishonest way that The Camel deals with questions about the status of Mohammed. Even if a full-fledged gospel presentation comes at the end of a modified Camel presentation, I object to lying in order to get to the gospel.

If someone removes the deceit from The Camel and then augments it with a fully orbed presentation of the gospel, I have no objection.

I am reviewing The Camel as a book. The book suggests a presentation of the gospel to go along with the bridging. If those who implement The Camel have to discard the gospel presentation in the book to go with something else, that fact in and of itself is a critique of the book.

Baptist Theologue said...

At my site, I just finished publishing the full interview I had with an imam using the Camel method and the Korbani plan, minus introductions and some unintelligible conversation. My impression is that the method does not work with a Muslim who is well-trained and has the "orthodox" understanding of the Koran. The interview was recorded on tape.

Bart Barber said...

Mike (BT),

I was hoping you would wander by. But you didn't give the link. Let me help you: Everyone should look at Mike's article here.

Dave Miller said...

In general, I see a more confrontational gospel than the bridging method here. Gospel presentations in Acts were pretty straightforward, even offensive.

"You killed Jesus, but God raised him from the dead."

But I know my friends who serve in those countries say that confrontational evangelism is not even a possibility and that bridge-type stuff is essential.

I guess I would distinguish between not giving all the information, and dispensing false information.

If I don't say right away that we believe Mohammed is a false prophet, maybe that is acceptable. If I am asked that question and respond deceptively, that is a problem.

Bart Barber said...


Regarding The Camel it might be helpful for you to read some of my previous articles on this topic. This link will take you to all of my related articles.

In short, The Camel instructs people when asked "What do you believe about Mohammed?" to reply, "I believe what the Qur'an teaches about Mohammed." There's the deception.

Also, The Camel does not at any point confront the prospect with the wrongness of Islam. This book is a recipe for syncretism.

Anyway, I invite you to click that link and read the other articles. They will provide more information than you wish to read, I'm sure.

Baptist Theologue said...

I have the 2007 edition of The Camel: How Muslims Are Coming to Faith in Christ. Notice the following quote from the book:

“Barrier #4: What Do You Say about Mohammed? This is the big question. Muslims take great offense at those who would profane their prophet. The best bridge to overcome the barrier of Mohammed is to simply say: ‘I agree with what the Qur’an says about Mohammed.’ The Qur’an does not say that Mohammed was the greatest prophet. It does say that he was the ‘seal of the prophets’ in surah al-Ahzab 33:40; seal only means the last, not the greatest. (Please note: We are not saying that Mohammed is a true prophet or the seal of the prophets; we are only making you aware of what you might face from the Qur’an.) Then ask your friend to read surah al-Ahqaf (the Sandhills surah) 46:9 in which Allah instructs Mohammed to say:

‘I am no new thing among the messengers, nor know I what will be done with me or with you . . . I am but a plain warner.’

Likewise in surah al-Imran 3:144, Allah says of Mohammed:

‘Mohammed is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him.’

We see in these passages that neither Mohammed nor his followers claimed that he was the greatest prophet.” (144-145)

The key point is Greeson’s instruction to say, “I agree with what the Qur’an says about Mohammed” (144). Greeson apparently means that he agrees with some (but not all) of what the Qur’an says about Mohammed, but such a statement can be easily misunderstood. The Muslim listener may think that the Christian witness agrees with everything the Qur’an says about Mohammed. The potential for misunderstanding (and syncretism) outweighs any potential bridging effect of such a statement. The Qur’an clearly identifies Mohammed as a prophet of God.

Baptist Theologue said...

Oops! Bart, I posted mine not knowing you had just posted yours.

Dave Miller said...

I think I need to read the Camel. But I would strongly disagree with the idea of "agreeing with the Koran" about Mohammed.

We can be tactful and respectful, and even not volunteer information that would be offensive. But we cannot be dishonest.

We usually make a mistake when we forget that the gospel is an offense. To share the gospel without offending often requires compromising the gospel

Baptist Theologue said...

Dave, you can order the book at the following web address:

Dave Miller said...


I noticed you are from Memphis.

Can you shoot free throws?

(That was a little unkind, wasn't it?)

from the middle east said...

Brother Mike,

Unfortunately, I do not have time to get into a long discussion at this point. Maybe next week some things will free up and I can get into the dialogue here. At any rate, I would like to make one observation. You said, "My impression is that the method does not work with a Muslim who is well-trained and has the "orthodox" understanding of the Koran. "

After perusing the transcript, it seems the Camel Method accomplished exactly what Greeson intended for it to accomplish. You presented it and found that the Imam you were visiting with is not a "person of peace" right now. If he comes back later, after having thought through some of this and wants to hear what you have to say about Jesus. Great!

The purpose of the Camel Method is clearly presented: to draw out those who God is already at work in. Nothing more, nothing less. It seems to have accomplished it's purpose in your case.

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

PS - Please do not read into my comment that this is the only way to find out if God is at work in someone... it is simply one way.

from the middle east said...

Brother Bart,

Based on some of our previous discussions, I'm sure that you are aware we do not agree on everything in your post today. Wish I could interact more with this post. Maybe next week ;^)

In spite of this, I did stop to ask the Spirit to anoint you and fill you with fire while proclaiming the Good News this week. May God bless the proclamation of His word in Farmersville!!

His Kingdom Come!
From the Middle East

from the middle east said...

Brother Bart,

I just couldn't help it. Of course, this is just cutting and pasting and took no real time... other than finding the Camel in my computer! Anyway, in the interest of not putting up a really, really long comment up, I will only post what I have of "Point 4" in the Korbani plan of salvation. It could be different in the update 2007 version. I do not have that version. Here it is:

Eternal life through faith in Isa.

There are four things you need to know:

First, we have sinned and cannot do enough to cover our sins.
One sin put Adam out of Allah’s presence in the Garden of Eden. We have done many sins. (Romans 3:10-12 and 3;23)

Second, Isa was born without sin and never sinned. He is the very “Ruhullah” (Spirit of Allah) and “Kalamtullah” (Word of Allah). His blood is innocent because he did not inherit Adam’s sin or commit any sin while alive. It is holy, and powerful (Isa raised people from the dead). Allah asked Ibrihim to demonstrate his love for Allah by sacrificing his precious son. In the same way, to demonstrate His love for man, Allah decided to do korbani for all of mankind by sacrificing Isa. See: Romans 5:6-8, II Corinthians 5:21,
Hebrews 4:15, I Peter 2;22, I John 3:5

Third, Isa died on the cross as the korbani for our sins.
In the Injil in I Peter, Surah 3 ayat 19 we read this: For Mosi (Christ) also suffered once for sins, the just (righteous) for the unjust) that He might bring us to God (Allah).”

Fourth, If you believe in Isa, you will be forgiven of your sins and have eternal life.
In the Injil in John (Yahyah (John)), Surah 3,ayat 16, we find these words, “For Allah so loved the world, that He gave Isa, so that whoever believes in him, will not perish (in hell), but have eternal life (in heaven).” It is through Isa that we can make it to heaven and live eternally with Allah. Isa knows the way and is the way. If you believe that Allah did Korbani by using the blood of Isa to cover your sins, then you can join Isa in heaven.

Raise your hands to Allah and say these words:
“Allah, I believe that you are One. I believe that you love all people. I understand that I am a sinner and that I deserve to be forever separated from you when I die. I thank you that you demonstrated Your love and mercy for me by doing Korbani for me. I believe that you used Isa’s blood as the substitute for my blood and punishment. It is through Isa that I can come to you when I die.”

Bart Barber said...


There are a few differences in the 2007 version, but nonetheless, are you asserting that something in here counters anything that I have written here? If so, you're going to have to spell it out, because I don't see it.

Dave Miller said...

One question to the previous poster (And thanks - I am very interested in this discussion).

Doesn't the "Allah, I believe that you are One," kind of feed into an anti-trinitarian view of God.

I think I can accept bridging to Muslims by using common touchpoints in their culture and tradition. But if we deny, or even SEEM to deny basic Christian doctrine to do it, is that a good thing?

When, in this process, do you describe Jesus as God Incarnate, fully divine and fully human?

I am concerned that this might be some sort of Masonic thing - certain truths held back until you reach higher levels.

Please, more!

(Bart, your word verification is killing me - I basically have to type a profanity to enter this - oh well, grace...)

Baptist Theologue said...


I continued to be very depressed about the Memphis loss on Tuesday, but then I started thinking about football, and my mood changed.

From the Middle East,

You mentioned the Camel bridge but not the Korbani plan of salvation. Greeson’s goal for the Korbani plan of salvation is to see a person saved, and that did not happen with the imam. Greeson stated,

“In order to share the plan of salvation with a Muslim in a manner that he will more readily understand, consider using the Korbani Plan of Salvation. The Korbani Plan uses natural bridges within the culture of every Muslim to introduce the New Testament message of salvation. Some Camel practitioners go straight into the Korbani Plan of Salvation from the initial Camel presentation.” (p. 113)

The imam with whom I had the conversation already had studied the New Testament. The problem with him was receptivity, not knowledge. Well-trained, “orthodox” Muslims are going to be fairly resistant to the gospel under most circumstances. Greeson made the mistake of grouping all Muslim people groups together rather than distinguishing between more receptive and more resistant groups. Greeson quoted Luke 10:1-20 (pp. 68-69), but he concentrated on looking for receptive individuals (Luke 10:5-6), not receptive communities (Luke 10:8-11). In his definition of L10 evangelism in the glossary, Greeson mentioned individuals but not groups (p. 197). He also stated, “Muslim communities already have a harvest ripening in their midst. . . . Your job is not to pray for the harvest, your job is to go out, find ripened Muslims, then win and disciple them” (pp. 71-72). Greeson did say, however, the following (which seems to contradict what he said earlier and later in the book): “Do not linger in a community that is unresponsive” (p. 76). He later said, “God is already at work in this community. Your job is to find out where” (p. 103). Toward the end of the book, while making suggestions for choosing a Muslim groups to evangelize, Greeson stated, “You will find God at work among the hardest to reach and most neglected fields” (p. 190). Thus, Greeson does not agree with the tried and true principle of concentrating missionary resources on more receptive fields. God is indeed at work everywhere, but He obviously works with certain groups at certain times in a special way, and those groups at those particular times are more receptive than other groups. Some IMB leaders have recognized this principle with receptive individuals (men of peace), but not with receptive groups of people.

Although all Muslim groups are somewhat resistant, some groups are more resistant than other groups. Some strategies for evangelism have worked well with less resistant groups. My impression is that Greeson’s work was done among a less resistant group in South Asia. Phil Parshall described Islam as “by far the most resistant of all the non-Christian religions.” (1) He said that even nominal Muslims are resistant: “One of the great enigmas of Islam is how solidly the vise grip of even a nominal belief in the Muslim faith solidifies its adherents into an almost impenetrable homogenous unit.” (2) Christy Wilson agreed: “Considered from the Christian missionary standpoint, Islamic lands are undoubtedly among the most difficult fields of the world.” (3) Dorothy Van Ess admitted that her mission was not able to lead Muslims to Christ in Iraq: “From early days our mission had not converts from Islam, but ‘born Christians,’ descendants of one of the minorities in Asiatic Turkey who had never become Muslims.” (4)
Samuel Zwemer explained the importance of the conflict concerning Christ’s proper identification: “Muhammed is for all practical purposes the Muslim Christ. Islam is indeed the only anti-Christian religion, because it takes issue in its attitude toward the Christ. By this it must stand or fall.” (5) In contrast to the situation in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan where there is great resistance to the gospel, Parshall mentioned Indonesia and Bangladesh (the general area where Greeson worked) as countries where evangelism had been successful because of religious freedom following disruptions in those societies:

“The October 1, 1965, coup and counter-coup followed by a general massacre throughout the land created a tremendous religious vacuum in Indonesia. The mass movements to Christianity that followed and that are still continuing give evidence to the decreased hold of Islam on the people in that country. . . . The new government of Bangladesh has responded by promulgating a new constitution based on secular principles. No more will Islam have a place of unquestioned honor and integrity in that land. . . . Reports indicate that there is an unparalleled response to the propagation of the Gospel.” (6)

Donald McGavran, who worked in India (which at the time had many Muslims), made an important point about concentration on receptive groups:

“Correct policy is to occupy fields of low receptivity lightly. The harvest will ripen some day. Their populations are made up of men and women for whom Christ died. While they continue in their rebellious and resistant state, they should be given the opportunity to hear the gospel in as courteous a way as possible. But they should not be heavily occupied lest, fearing that they will be swamped by Christians, they become even more resistant. They should not be bothered and badgered. Generations should not be reared in schools where—receiving small doses of the gospel that they successfully reject—they are in effect inoculated against the Christian religion. Resistant lands should be held lightly. While holding them lightly, Christian leaders should perfect organizational arrangement so that when these lands turn responsive, missionary resources can be sent in quickly. For some time now we have been hearing a great deal about the sudden new receptivity among Muslims in Indonesia. It is devoutly to be hoped that missionaries to Muslims in great numbers will be transferred to that part of the world. Some have, but not nearly enough. Reinforcing receptive areas is the only mode of mission by which resistant populations that become receptive may be led to responsible membership in ongoing churches.” (7)

Thus, correct strategy for evangelizing Muslim people should involve presenting the gospel without compromising it (truth in love) to more receptive (less resistant) individuals and groups.

(1) Phil Parshall, The Fortress and the Fire: Jesus Christ and the Challenge of Islam (Bombay: Gospel Literature Service, 1975), vii.
(2) Ibid., 3.
(3) J. Christy Wilson, Introducing Islam (New York: Friendship Press, 1958), 55.
(4) Dorothy F. Van Ess, Pioneers in the Arab World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 159-160.
(5) Samuel Zwemer, Islam and the Cross: Selections from “The Apostle to Islam,” ed. Roger S. Greenway (Phillipsberg, NJ: P & R Publishing Company, 2002), 26-27.
(6) Parshall, 68.
(7) McGavran, Donald A., Understanding Church Growth, Revised and edited by C. Peter Wagner, 3d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 191.

Sorry about the length.

Ben Macklin said...

Bart, FTME

The, "Isa is the Spirit of Allah . . . .[and] the word of Allah." is a very incarnational approach to evangelism that cuts at the core of Islam's theistic ontology. To say that the Spirit and the word of Allah became a man is an enormous step for the typical muslim to take. Is it not?

I am not endorsing the CAMEL evangelism approach. Nevertheless, as we all know, any "approach: is only as good, effective, or even godly as the person using it.

God Bless,
Ben Macklin

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

I see term "Isa is the Spirit of Allah . . . .[and] the word of Allah." I presume that Isa is the Arabic word for Jesus. If this is correct, is it anywhere explained who the Jesus of the Bible is in the Camel Method? It seems that if you are going to say Isa is the Spirit of Allah . . . .[and] the word of Allah. one is, at most denying and at the least removing, the Trinity. Would one not be able to advance the Scriptural truth that Isa is Allah?

Dave Miller said...

So, how soon in a gospel presentation do we have to introduce concepts like the deity of Christ and the Trinity.

I ask this, not having an answer. I am not even sure I have an opinion yet.

If someone is pro-homosexuality, do we have to change their views before they accept the gospel? Probably not.

If someone is JW or Mormon, the nature of Christ will probably be part of the gospel discussion.

In sharing Christ with a Muslim, can I just tell him Jesus died for his sins, or do I need to establish the trinity and the divinity of Christ before making the offer of salvation?

Any thoughts?

from the middle east said...

Brother Mike,

You said: "You mentioned the Camel bridge but not the Korbani plan of salvation. Greeson’s goal for the Korbani plan of salvation is to see a person saved, and that did not happen with the imam."

1. I don't particularly care for the "Korbani plan of salvation."
2. Neither did Ray Comfort's "Way of the Mater" last time I used it, but the Gospel was presented.
3. You found out in your discussion with the imam that he is not open to the Gospel. Now you know. Brother, we spend our time with those who are open to the things of God. That is all I am saying.

With regard to the rest of your comment. Thank you for presenting your case for sending the majority to places where the Spirit is moving in ways that humans can count. However, I do not have the time nor energy to get into a "labor for years among the unreceptive" vs "go to the receptive" conversation today.

I will say that I know of at least one area that is considered EXTREMELY conservative by anyone's standards where the Camel Method is being used extensively and there is humanly countable fruit... more and more every day.

His peace be yours in abundance,
From the Middle East

PS - My apologies for the brevity ;^)

from the middle east said...

Brother Bart,

Nothing to spell out. I am not asserting that the "Korbani plan of salvation" counters your post.

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

from the middle east said...

Brother Dave,

I have found that many western methodologies for evangelism focus on the Epistles. This intrigues me as they were primarily written to those who were "converts" and no longer in need of evangelism.

To answer your question about when certain concepts should be presented to unbelievers (or believers), I would encourage a thorough study of the Acts of the Apostles as well as the four narratives we have of Jesus' life. By focusing in on the evangelism "methods" and principles that Jesus and the early Church used in their culture(s), we can learn much about how to best represent His Kingdom today in our culture and in other cultures.

May His Spirit guide you,
From the Middle East

Baptist Theologue said...

From the Middle East,

You said,

"You found out in your discussion with the imam that he is not open to the Gospel. Now you know. Brother, we spend our time with those who are open to the things of God. That is all I am saying."

Well, it sounds like we are somewhat in agreement. I'm not sure, however, if you mean that you spend your time with receptive individuals or receptive groups. Some IMB leaders affirm the emphasis on receptive individuals but not the emphasis on receptive groups. Both emphases are present in Luke 10:5-11. I'm not sure why they emphasize one and not the other, but it certainly affects the placement of missionaries these days.

Baptist Theologue said...

P.S. to From the Middle East:

You also said,

"I will say that I know of at least one area that is considered EXTREMELY conservative by anyone's standards where the Camel Method is being used extensively and there is humanly countable fruit... more and more every day."

When a particular group is found to be receptive to the gospel, that is when missionaries should be sent to take advantage of the receptivity. I served as an IMB missionary to South Korea for ten years, and I studied the history of Protestant work there. The Presbyterians and Methodists were the first Protestant missionaries to arrive. Their first two official missionaries arrived in 1885. The conditions were ripe for a people movement and/or CPM. Buddhism and Shamanism were at a low ebb. The Koreans were also beginning to be oppressed by the Japanese, so they were very open to American missionaries. The people movement/CPM went from 1895 to 1910. The Presbyterians saw the receptivity, and more missionaries were sent to help in the harvest. Good principles (learned from John Nevius) were followed. The Methodists did not place an emphasis on more evangelistic missionaries and instead emphasized education, etc. The last time I checked, South Korea's Protestants are 72% Presbyterian and 10% Methodist. I don't think the percentage difference is a coincidence.

Strider said...

Well Bart, I have not commented in a while on this subject though you continue to bring it up. It seems to me that you want to distill the Gospel presentation into a list of facts and then demonstrate that the Camel method does not convey all those facts therefore it is wrong and should be condemned. For what it's worth here is a very different way of describing evangelism. It is our job to go and proclaim that the Kingdom of God has come near. This is a reality in that we come bearing the Holy Spirit. We present Jesus and his love through a variety of means or as St. Francis said so well, 'Preach the Gospel and when necessary use words'. It is the Spirit who draws and the Spirit who leads into all truth. In my ten years of proclaiming the Gospel to Muslims in a Muslim country I have only once told a person that Mohammed was a false prophet and I regretted that mistake. No, what happens is that when asked about Mohammed I respond by proclaiming Christ. For example, "What do you think of Mohammed?" I reply, "I am a follower of Jesus." Sometimes they smile knowing what I am doing but it doesn't matter, I will not give them an excuse to dismiss the love of Jesus by denigrating their culture- and that is important to note, most Muslims don't know much about Mohammed they just know that Dad and Grandad said he was important to them. When they begin to consider the truth of Jesus and the love he represents inevitably they reject Mohammed under the guidence of the Holy Spirit. I have never heard of any kind of syncretism when it comes to Muslims. We present Jesus as a person who loves them and the Spirit does the rest. Arguing doctrine with a Muslim will never get you to his salvation. At best he will consider whether your rules and regulations are better than his rules and regulations. This is not the Gospel. The Camel is used by many to present Christ to people who will not hear about him otherwise. Continue to critique the wording of the book if you want to but I have not heard you or others on your blog who are against the Camel book present the Gospel in a way that will glorify God among the Muslims.
Oh, and as far as the where to send people discussion I suggest letting the Holy Spirit guide us rather than our own logic.

Baptist Theologue said...


Your answer to the question about Mohammed is far better than that suggested by Greeson. If Greeson reads these comments, then I hope he will consider changing that portion of his book.

cameron coyle said...


I like your answer to the "what do you think of Mohammed?" question. I like it for two reasons:

1. It's honest (although somewhat evasive).
2. It points directly towards Christ.

I think your answer illustrates the problems with the Camel method, at least as it has been presented in writing. While your answer is great, the Camel advocates the exact opposite:

1. It's dishonest (do they really agree with what the Koran says about Mohammed?)
2. It does not point directly towards Christ.

As a worker among Muslims, would you ever tell someone that you agreed with what the Koran has to say about Mohammed?

Anonymous said...


As a missionary among Moslems, I welcome your critique of the camel method. I only wish that someone, (even someone from Farmersville, TX) could give us a formula for reaching Moslems in their culture. It is obvious from the dearth of Moslem Background Believers (MBB) that we have yet to find a strategy which consistently reaches them.

Please do something more constructive than criticise methods which will could help us reach them. What do you suggest?

A 10-40 Windows Missionary

Baptist Theologue said...

I cannot speak for Bart, but I have some suggestions. Some suggestions will only apply where there is some degree of religious freedom.

1. A witness/defense of Christianity should be both truthful and loving. It should include a defense of the Bible when possible in a particular culture. Amar Djaballah explained, “Christians should not let Muslim apologetics (especially at the scholarly level) get away with the accusation that our Scriptures (Old and New Testament) had been changed prior to the appearing of the Qur’an.”

Amar Djaballah, “Jesus in Islam,” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 8, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 16.

Donald McGavran suggested that academic scrutiny of the Qur’an could lead to a weakening of Islam’s hold on people:

“What will happen in Islam, when Muslim scholars subject the Koran to the same intense examination to which Christian scholars have subjected the Bible? . . . The faith of Islam is uniquely dependent on the claim that the Koran is the true and the Bible the corrupt version. When the acids of modernity eat away the protective layers of ignorance and the light of learning exposes the falsehood in this claim, faith in Islam is likely to wane.”

Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, rev. and ed. C. Peter Wagner, 3d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 185.

Again, witnessing and apologetic persuasion must be done in both a truthful and a loving manner. Zwemer emphasized the importance of Christian love: “After forty years’ experience—sometimes heart-breaking experience, of sowing on rocks and of watching the birds pick away the seed to the lost grain—I am convinced that the nearest way to the Moslem heart is the way of God’s love, the way of the Cross.”

Samuel Zwemer, The Cross Above the Crescent (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1941), 246.

A Christian evangelist using the pseudonym S. P. Steinhaus described his “appealing” method:

“From years of experience among staunch Muslims in S.E. Asia, I have found no other gospel presentation more appealing to Muslims. . . . My approach is to focus initial discussion on the Holy Spirit thereby initially postponing discussion of the person of Jesus. By first discussing the Holy Spirit, I am able to get a hearing for the gospel and to reveal the source for meeting personal needs without being immediately rebuffed by standard Muslim objections.”

S. P. Steinhaus, “The Spirit-first Approach to Muslim Evangelism,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 17, no. 4 (Winter 2000): 23.

Steinhaus stated that he eventually brought Jesus into the conversation:

“This then brings me to the necessity of being cleansed by the blood of Jesus. However, at this point in the conversation I have found that most Muslims are so interested in the Spirit that the traditional debates about Jesus as God, substitutionary atonement, etc., are not mentioned. And even if they are, they are not brought up in such a vitriolic manner.”

Ibid., 24.

In stark contrast to Steinhaus’s “appealing” method is Jay Smith’s public debate method used in England. Smith described Christian opposition to his methodology:

“Many have questioned the method that I and others are using in England to evangelize Muslims. They say it is wrong, perhaps even dangerous. They tell us that standing on a ladder at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park challenging Islam openly, or taking on invitations to oppose Muslim apologists in highly publicized, public debates on the authority of the Qur’an is much too confrontational.”

Jay Smith, “Courage in Our Convictions: Debating Muslims: New Life for an Old Method?” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34, no. 1 (January 1998): 28.

Phil Parshall was critical of the debate approach taken by Smith and Anis Shorrosh:

“Both men have been engaged in their ministries of undercutting Islam for some years. To my knowledge neither of them has seen Muslims come to Christ, at least not in any significant numbers. Conversely, a great deal of antagonism has been generated. If this is where all of this leads, it is only fair to seriously question the validity of their strategy.”

Parshall, “Other Options for Muslim Evangelism,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 34, no. 1 (January 1998): 39.

Building trusting relationships over time and using a loving approach—an initially appealing presentation—offers a greater opportunity for evangelistic success than a short-term confrontational approach that does not outwardly exhibit the love that is necessary to build a trusting relationship with a non-Christian. A harsh, confrontational approach can turn a somewhat receptive group into a very unreceptive group. The loving approach may take more time and effort as trusting relationships are built over time, but such an approach can be expected to bear much more fruit. It is important, however, that a loving approach not be guilty of compromise or syncretism.

2. Christian missionaries to Islamic groups should concentrate on both receptive groups and receptive individuals, if possible. Jesus made this very point:

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’” (Luke 10:5-9. NASB)

The Apostle Paul shook off the dust when he found himself among very unreceptive groups:

“And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” (Acts 18:4-6)

3. Consider the context in which you are trying to communicate the gospel in a truthful and loving way. Realize that you typically deal with a very group-oriented people group when you are in a Muslim culture. Americans tend to be very individualistic and have difficulty understanding group-oriented cultures. Roland Muller has written a very good missiological book. This book, Honor and Shame, helps Americans understand the group-oriented people group. Here is an excerpt from the introduction of the book:

“There are, however, special keys that we must hold and exercise, if we are to do this work of understanding, empathizing and communicating to different people in different cultures. During my missionary career, I have focused my attention on understanding and communicating the gospel to the Muslim people of the Middle East. . . .I am very much aware that I have more questions than answers, but, during these last few years, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of communicating through culture. We westerners have tended to divide people into two sections. We look at their religious beliefs separately from their cultural ones. When we come to Muslims, we tend to draw out verses from the Qur'an and the Hadith on God, sin and salvation. From these verses we try to develop an Islamic theology that we can understand. In the process of doing this, we often disregard verses that deal with cultural issues, such as women, relationships, and the community. We do this, because we are used to doing this in our western religious setting. We call it separation of church and state. Second, we also understand that new communities of believers are free to contextualize the gospel into their own cultural setting. So, when we approach Islam, we tend to separate cultural and religious teachings and concentrate on confronting the religious issues and then adopting as much of the culture as possible. To the Muslim, who sees Islam and Islamic culture as a total package, we must appear to be very confused and confusing. In this book, I would like to draw your attention to the Gospel message that we are trying to communicate. Does it address the worldview and specific culture that we are facing? In the case of Islam, our message must include both religious and cultural issues if we are to minister the gospel effectively to Muslims. I am convinced that it is not the religious side of Islam that holds its followers in an iron grip, but rather the cultural and the community side. Yet, even here we must be careful, for Islam is not made up of two sides, or three sides, or whatever. It is a complete unit, a way of life, a total package that touches every part of life. Ministering the gospel to people whose lives are dominated by Islam is never easy. In ‘Tools for Muslim Evangelism’ I introduced the concept of ‘teacher-based’ evangelism and explored how this form of evangelism has been instrumental in bringing many Muslims to Christ. I then went on to mention the concepts of honor and trust and explored some of the implications of sharing the Gospel with people who place honor high on their value list. In the book you now hold in your hands, we will take the concept of honor and dig even deeper, introducing the idea of honor and shame as a basis for Islamic culture. We will compare it to guilt and innocence which is the basis of many western cultures, and fear and power, which is the basis of many animistic cultures. The ultimate goal in this book is to provide basic concepts and tools for those wishing to share the gospel with their Muslim neighbors. My desire is not to change the gospel message but, rather, to provide the Christian teacher with concepts and tools that will better enable him or her to understand the Muslims they are trying to reach, and know how to make the gospel relevant to their world view.”

For more about Muller’s concept, see the following web site, "Honor and Shame in a Middle Eastern Setting" at:

Sorry about the length.

Anonymous said...

Baptist Theologue,

Thank you for your well researched and reasoned approach to Muslem Evangelism. I do not have time to answer each point from our experience, so allow me to say again ..."Bart,

As a missionary among Muslems, I welcome your critique of the camel method. I only wish that someone, (even someone from Farmersville, TX) could give us a formula for reaching Muslems in their culture. It is obvious from the dearth of Muslem Background Believers (MBB) that we have yet to find a strategy which consistently reaches them.

Please do something more constructive than criticize methods which will could help us reach them. What do you suggest?

A 10-40 Windows Missionary...

My question was not answered.

A 10-40 Windowa Missionary

Bart Barber said...

My apologies, 10-40. My mistake was in thinking that you wanted an answer, which Mike (BT) had already supplied.

Now I suppose it is obvious that you are uninterested in answers and merely wanted to flex your "I am Super Missionary, and all else are ignorant" muscles.

I reply simply in this way:

In general, the fact that an individual or a group rejects the gospel is not evidence of a weakness in the gospel. Rather, the consistent testimony of the Bible is that such an action is evidence of a weakness in the hearers.

Let us commit that every Muslim will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, and let us present it with boldness and clarity. Let us neither obfuscate it or sully it with lies in order to gain a hearing for it. We are not peddling used Yugos; we are preaching a powerful gospel.

When every Muslim has heard the gospel, our task is complete. The task of applying the gospel, convicting the convert, and drawing a person to faith belongs to the Holy Spirit, not to us. Let us resist the sometimes-powerful temptation to make ourselves God's editors rather than His servants.

Let us remember the vast teams of missionaries from the US and from elsewhere who are, this very day, risking their own lives to present the gospel in Muslim lands without resorting to tomfoolery. Some of them have commented on this blog. Let us pray for them, fund them, and encourage them.

Let us pray that God will call out and let us be faithful to lay hands upon even more godly men to serve as preachers of the gospel to Muslims around the world.

Finally, Christianity has been at this place before, even if American Christianity has not. Let us not forget the lessons of Tertullian:

"You can't just exterminate us; the more you kill the more we are. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. You praise those who endured pain and death - so long as they aren't Christians! Your cruelties merely prove our innocence of the crimes you charge against us. When you chose recently to hand a Christian girl over to a brothel-keeper rather than to the lions, you showed you knew we counted chastity dearer than life." Apologeticum

David Rogers said...


It seems to me that by the criteria you are using to evaluate the Korbani plan, other evangelistic presentations typically accepted by evangelicals do not pass muster either (e.g. Four Spiritual Laws, Roman Road, Evangecube, Bridge to Life, etc.). While I am in agreement that we should be careful not to deceive, that does not mean that we must polemicize on every fine point of doctrine before presenting the gospel, and inviting people to respond. Not that we should avoid these points altogether. But, in many situations, they are more appropriate for post-conversion disicpleship than as part of our presentation of the gospel, in and of itself.

I see a certain parallel here in evangelistic presentations directed toward cultural Catholics. In general, I do not believe it is necessary, nor recommendable, to bring up Protestant understanding on the supposed perpetual virginity of Mary as part of our basic gospel presentation. If someone asks me point blank about this, I will not hide what I believe, and my reasons for doing so. But if not, I will generally not bring up this question on my own initiative with a cultural Catholic I am hoping to win to personal faith in Christ. Later on, in the discipleship process, I will eventually go over this with a new convert, though. Is this deception? I don't think so. Do you?

David Rogers said...

Oh yeah, one thing more.

Typically, in Spain, when people learn we are Protestants, the response is: "Oh, you don't believe in the Virgin." To which, I (and other evangelicals in Spain) might normally respond: "No, that is not true. We believe that Mary, as a virgin, gave birth to Jesus, and that she was the most blessed woman to have lived, and was highly favored of God." If that answer is well-received, I don't think it would generally be a good idea to go on from there and polemicize about perpetual virginity, the brothers and sisters of Jesus, etc. It is more important to direct the conversation (and the developing conversation over a period of time) towards the essentials of the gospel. The Holy Spirit, perhaps through the channel of my follow-up teaching, after the person has opened their heart to the gospel and the influence of the Holy Spirit, can then direct them, in due time, "into all truth."

Anonymous said...


I am not wanting to "flex your (my) 'I am Super Missionary, and all else are ignorant' muscles." My question was concerning REACHING Muslims, and your response was in them HEARING the Gospel message. Please, do not get me wrong, no one comes to salvation without hearing the Word...but there is a whole lot more to reaching the most resistant people group than just proclaiming the Gospel. And that was my question, "How do we reach them?" I know that God does not want them to spend eternity in Hell. And with every fiber of my being think that He has a plan for reaching them. The only thing is that that plan has yet to be revealed. So, I was asking if anyone out there had a plan for reaching Muslims because no one has revealed one in the past.

A 10-40 Windows Missionary

Baptist Theologue said...

10-40, you said,

“There is a whole lot more to reaching the most resistant people group than just proclaiming the Gospel. And that was my question, ‘How do we reach them?’”

There is indeed a difference between mere proclamation and reaching/persuading/harvest, but both are important. Donald McGavran defined missions as “an enterprise devoted to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and to persuading men and women to become his disciples and responsible members of his church.”

McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, third edition, revised and edited by C. Peter Wagner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 24.

When dealing with a very resistant people group, some type of proclamation may be the primary activity until the group becomes less resistant. In a very receptive group, harvest should be the primary activity. In very resistant and very receptive groups, precise methodology is not extremely important in terms of evangelistic effectiveness. In very resistant groups, no method seems to work well, and in very receptive groups, every method seems to work well. In the middle-of-the-road type of groups (like the USA and South Korea these days), precise methodology is very important because some methods work well and other methods do not work well. McGavran’s words still are true, especially in very resistant Muslim settings:

“Correct policy is to occupy fields of low receptivity lightly. . . . They should not be heavily occupied lest, fearing that they will be swamped by Christians, they become even more resistant. . . . While holding them lightly, Christian leaders should perfect organizational arrangements so that when these lands turn responsive, missionary resources can be sent in quickly.”

Ibid., 191.

There is not a “magic bullet” that will work with very resistant Muslim groups. God makes some formerly resistant groups somewhat receptive at particular times, and missionary-sending organizations should prioritize those groups while they are somewhat receptive. Concentrating missionary resources on receptive individuals and groups is in essence the same as Henry Blackaby’s concept of joining God where He is working in a special way. There can be no harvest unless the Holy Spirit is convicting the lost people in a supernatural way. A special act of God is required for salvation to occur. John Wesley (Methodist) understood this, and Alexander Campbell (Church of Christ) did not. Campbell thought belief was strictly an intellectual exercise. He thought the Holy Spirit’s job was finished when the New Testament Canon was finished. Wesley, in contrast, knew that the Holy Spirit is still active in the salvation process with each human that is under conviction while hearing the gospel. Of course, five-point Calvinists believe that regeneration precedes faith/repentance in logical order. Thus, five-point Calvinists, Wesleyan Arminians, and Calminians like me understand the importance of conviction and receptivity. Bart was quite correct in saying that “the task of applying the gospel, convicting the convert, and drawing a person to faith belongs to the Holy Spirit, not to us.” After a person surrenders his life in repentance and faith, that person should be baptized, folded into a local church, and taught the basics, including how to share his faith. All these things are part of the Great Commission, and all are part of the harvesting process. Bart was also correct in saying that we should “commit that every Muslim will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, and let us present it with boldness and clarity. Let us neither obfuscate it or sully it with lies in order to gain a hearing for it.” We should certainly proclaim the gospel clearly and without compromise. Big numbers are not always an indication of success (e.g., Joel Osteen). Big numbers are certainly not an indication of success in a very resistant group. Big numbers can be an indication of success in a very receptive group. Only about 2% of SBC (IMB) missionaries have seen CPMs. Those missionaries (the 2%) are not the only successful missionaries, my friend. Don’t get discouraged. Continue to be faithful to the Word of God.

Anonymous said...

Baptist Theologue,

Again, I thank you for a well reasoned and gentle explanation. Yes, we know that we are among a very resistant people group, and sometimes, when hearing that a Church Planting Movement is what we are to try to initiate, we do get discouraged. On the Arabian Penninsula there has been 100 years of constant missionary presence, dating back to Zweimer, and you can probably count the number of true MBB from that area (excluding Yemen) in single digits. So, we are looking for a "magic bullet," know that a CPM will not happen by Magic.

A 10-40 Windows Missionary

Baptist Theologue said...

10-40, I hear what you're saying and feel what you're feeling. I'll be praying for you and for those among whom you work.

from the middle east said...

Brother/Sister 10-40,

What do you mean by "true MBB?"

His grace be yours in abundance,
From the Middle East

Baptist Theologue said...

I think he means "true Muslim background believer."

David Rogers said...

At the risk of belaboring the point, I will throw in this as well:

I was just reading this Baptist Press article, which talks about the Pope's visit, and differences between Protestants and Catholics.

At the end of the article, Tal Davis, interfaith coordinator in the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board's evangelization group, gives the following advice about witnessing to Catholics:

"Don't get sidetracked by the thorny issues and don't even make Catholicism the issue. Don't debate. Start with God, Jesus and the things Baptists and Catholics hold in common."

My question is:

1. Do we all agree Tal Davis is giving good advice here?

2. If he is on track, why would a similar strategy not hold true for witnessing to Muslims as well?

Bart Barber said...

Hi David,

First of all, my apologies for my absence. I'm about to make up for it, I hope, by my very lengthy comment. I'll post this one right away so that, if you happen by while I'm composing it, you can know that it is on the way.

from the middle east said...

Brother Mike and Brother/Sister 10-40,

Allow me to rephrase:

What is the difference between an MBB and a "true" MBB?

His mercy be yours in abundance,
From the Middle East

Baptist Theologue said...

I'll defer to 10-40 on this one.

Bart Barber said...

First, while we're on the subject of evangelism, please allow me a moment of personal privilege. Your father was an inspirational example to me from afar. When I think of him lying in recovery or pre-op or wherever it was, on the occasion of his own major surgery, leading someone else to Christ from his gurney. Either he was the most accomplished fake in my lifetime, or he was someone who's life was consumed by a desire to see others reconciled to God. Irrelevant to our present conversation? Perhaps. It was just something on my heart.

Now, I want to make two distinctions that I believe are important. First, there's a difference between a starting point for presenting the gospel and the ending point for presenting the gospel. Everyone misunderstands me if they think I'm saying that any conversation with a Muslim must begin with "Hey, you know that Mohammed was a liar, don't you?" Well, that's just stupid.

But if repentance is a part of accepting the gospel (and it is), and if pursuing a false religion is an act of rebellion against God from which one must repent to be reconciled with God (and it is), then WHEREVER we start, we're not done until we've raised that rather sensitive issue.

To state it more succinctly, one is not a follower of Jesus until one has chosen no longer to be a follower of Mohammed.

The problem with The Camel is not that it delays that task too long or handles that task in some subtly incorrect way, but that it ignores it altogether.

Second, there is a difference between a general framework for presenting the gospel and a framework designed for a particular situation. Thirty minutes ago, I was presenting the gospel to a recent parolee on drug crimes with whom I've been working to build a relationship. With him, I made it clear that coming to Christ means putting dope pushing, thievery, etc., behind him. FAITH or EE or CWT doesn't put that material in Appendix A at the back because these training materials cannot assume that every evangelistic prospect will be on parole for drug charges.

But The Camel can presume that every prospect addressed with this method is a follower of the false prophet Mohammed. Its raison d'être is not to show Christians some general method for presenting the gospel, but to address the particular difficulties of presenting the gospel to people guilty of this one particular sin (following Mohammed). Confrontation of this sin is treated in The Camel not as a goal to be accomplished, but as an obstacle to be sidestepped. That is, IMHO, an error.

The Tal Davis quote presents a different situation in at least two ways. First, being a Catholic is not, ipso facto, incompatible with being a Christian. Thus, Davis might remind us that our objective is to bring one to faith in Christ, and not to bring one out of Catholicism, unless the latter is necessary to the former. With regard to Islam, it is. With regard to Catholicism, it is not. Catholicism is Christianity, albeit woefully deficient Christianity.

Second, Davis is speaking of starting points, and not necessarily of ending points. If, in the process of presenting the gospel to someone, that person repeatedly asserts a faith in the intercession of Mary to gain forgiveness (a sentiment that is, indeed, actually contrary to the Christian gospel), then any evangelist knows that he will ultimately have to address that problem before being able to move forward.

I've written so much that I've lost track of where I currently am in what I wanted to say. Point out my omissions and defects, and perhaps I'll recall the rest.

Bart Barber said...

Of course, as I check out the various blog posts added today, I find one that makes me think perhaps I ought to have offered to do a line of coke with the prospect. He wouldn't have expected that from a Baptist preacher, the Bible doesn't condemn it anywhere, and it might just have opened the door for him to receive Christ.


Dave Miller said...

Bart, go stand in the corner. Say 10 Hail Mary's as penance.

I am troubled by the Tal Smith's comments. I am not sure the Catholic religion is that much closer to being truly a saving faith than Islam.

Anonymous said...

Dear "From the Middle East,"

When I said true MBB that is exactly what I meant. I have met several people who claim to be MBB who later re-canted. The question is, "Was their salvation true or not?" One of the more well known was the gentleman in Kuwait who got a great deal of publicity, only to re-cant his testimony.

One writer (whom I have forgotten) said several times that Muslims must make several profession s of faith before they are truly saved.

I guess another way of saying is is "Rice Christians."

A 10-40 Windows Missionary

from the middle east said...

Brother/Sister 10-40,

Thank you for the clarification.

الله معك
From the Middle East

Bart Barber said...

I remember now what else I wanted to add.

I think that Jesus' interaction with the rich young ruler is informative here. Jesus apparently went out of his way to find the one most objectionable and difficult issue for this young man, and did so out of love for him. Why? Because for him, he had to be ready to abandon his trust in riches before he could give his trust to Christ. Yes, I know that this happened before the cross, but it goes to show us something of a manner of interacting with people. Jesus deliberately made sure that people had an opportunity to count the cost.

David Rogers said...


I think that perhaps a part of the explanation for our differing perspectives on this may root in the contemporary evangelical divide between "evangelism" and "discipleship." I agree that there is a definite moment in time in which we "cross over from death to life" (John 5:24). However, I think we make a somewhat artificial and non-biblical distinction, in our methodology and practice, between our efforts to lead people to follow Jesus up to that moment, and our efforts to continue to do the same after that moment.

You seem to agree, in principle, that there is an appropriate, or conducive, order in which to broach certain matters with those we are seeking to lead down the path of discipleship. I think the model of Jesus with the disciples is instructive for us, in this regard. When, for example, were the disciples/apostles born again? When did they become disciples of Jesus?

I would agree that the acceptance and embracing of the Truth carries with it a corresponding renunciation of falsehood. But, do any of us really truly renounce all of our false beliefs all at once? I think this renunciation is rather a lifelong process.

Perhaps it would be helpful if the Camel had a part 2, or if it was amplified to include recommendations on how to help new MBB's go on become mature, consistent followers of Christ in all aspects of their life.

On the other hand, I think that I tend to agree with Dave Miller that Roman Catholicism is not all that different from Islam in its essential salvific nature. Though this may sound strong, I do not believe that someone who knowingly and consistently embraces the teachings of the Catholic catechism is any more saved than someone who embraces the teachings of the Quran. There are, no doubt, saved Catholics. But, I believe they are saved in spite of the teachings of their "church" and not because of them.

However, I think the normal path to authentic Christian discipleship for CBB's (Catholic Background Believers) passes first of all through an embracing of the grace of God through faith in Christ, and then, subsequently, further and further along the path of renunciation of all falsehood. I would even say that it is the Holy Spirit within us that makes it possible for us to discern between truth and falsehood. This does not totally preclude the renunciation of some falsehood before the moment of conversion. But, it is the Holy Spirit who also leads us to this point, in his ministry of pre-conversion conviction, as well.

In all of this, I think the model of the Engel's Scale is helpful. (I am assuming familiarity with this model. here is a link for those who may not.)

The path of Christian discipleship may begin at -8 or -7, but it does not stop at 0. And, it is not an entirely new process that begins once the disciple crosses the threshold of point 0, but rather a continuation of the same process.

Perhaps at the root of all of this discussion is a debate about the role of polemics in general as an evangelistic method. I think that it is undeniable that there is a strong polemical element in the evangelistic model followed by both Jesus and Paul. However, it seems to me that the strongest polemic was generally reserved for Pharisees, Judaizers, and legalists. This is an idea that could, no doubt, be pursued a good bit further. Also, I may have left unanswered some point or another in your argument. Remind me, if such is the case. But this comment is already really long, so I will leave it there for now.