“Worshiping Jesus in the Mosque: Inside the World of a Muslim Follower of Isa.”

That’s what the cover says on the latest issue of Christianity Today. Inside are several articles on the insider movement–so named because in these movements Christian converts stay within their original religious context and continue to identify themselves with the religion of their birth. The whole issue is worth reading. In it you’ll find a background piece on the C1 to C6 spectrum by Tim Tennent, a pro and con piece by “John Travis” (pro) and Phil Parshall (con), and a predictably middle of the road editorial that is “cautiously optimistic about this deep insider strategy.”

The cover story is an interview by the missionary “Gene Daniels” (not his real name) with a Muslim follow of Isa named “Abu Jaz” (also not his real name). While we can clearly learn from someone like Gene Daniels laboring in a difficult Muslim context, and while we must certainly rejoice to hear of Abu Jaz’s commitment to Christ, the interview also raises a number of questions and concerns. Let me raise three of each.

Three Questions

Question 1: What is the role of the church? Proponents of the insider movement are quick to point out that insider believers belong to the church universal (see Travis’ piece) and share in Christian fellowship with other insiders. And yet, doesn’t the Bible understand the church in more robust terms than this? What about church officers, weekly preaching, the administration of the sacraments, membership, and church discipline? Are these all adiaphora? Doesn’t Paul’s missionary strategy and Jesus’ Great Commission presuppose that believers will be gathered in visible, constituted churches?

Question 2: Why not try to form a more culturally sensitive expression of the Christian church? Abu Jaz speaks of the evangelical church in his country. So it doesn’t appear as if the insider strategy was chosen because their were no churches or because the church was not permitted. Rather, Abu Jaz left the church to reclaim his Muslim identity. He says that when he went to the evangelical church “[e]verything was different–their way of worship, the way they sang songs, the way they danced. Nothing was familiar to me.” He was also turned off because the pastor wouldn’t let him use traditional Islamic phrases and greetings. I’m sure each specific situation is different; I imagine sometimes these phrases are innocuous cultural expressions, and other times they may be loaded with a lot of religious freight. But if I were talking to Abu Jaz I’d encourage him to dream of a church that embraces some familiar cultural styles without jettisoning the idea of church altogether.

Question 3: Shouldn’t some things be strange when we are called out of darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9)? Abu Jaz bristles at the Christian church because it feels like “a very strange thing” to Muslims. For the same reason he can’t imagine not using the word “Allah.” On the latter point, I’ve read good arguments for and against retaining the term Allah. So my beef is not so much about the word as the notion that there is something wrong with a Christian church that feels strange to Muslims. As aliens and strangers in this world, the community of the redeemed ought to initiate us in new practices, new vocabulary, new rituals, and new ways of living.

Three Concerns

Concern 1: There seems to be a naive view of culture. Abu Jaz says, “The Church should reflect Muslim culture, not Muslim theology.” This sounds appealing, and many in the West advocate the same kind of principle, but cultural forms, practices, and habits often reflect our deepest held theological commitments, especially in Islamic cultures where separation of sacred and secular is a foreign concept. Muslim identity is a “thick” culture, which is precisely why the insider movement is appealing, but this also means the church must think very carefully about all the ways cultural identity is wrapped up in religious assumptions. No matter how charitably we read the statement, Abu Jaz has profoundly misspoken when he says “God opened my eyes to understand that all cultures are equal in his eyes.” God may find elements in every culture that please him (modesty, hard work, marital permanence) and elements that displease him (sensuality, honor killings, abortion), but it’s simply not the case that all cultures are equal in his eyes. Insider proponents can help the traditional church see its own cultural baggage, but they must not ignore the way God wants to challenge every culture (and some cultures more than others). When Abu Jaz assumes that because general revelation teaches us about God, therefore Allah was revealed to Muslims through general revelation, he overlooks centuries of deep assumptions woven into the language and the culture about who Allah is. He fails to consider whether these ideas should to be challenged, rather than simply embraced because Christians believe in general revelation.

Concern 2: There seems to be an overly casual attitude toward theological truth. When asked about “the theology of your movement” Abu Jaz responds by saying, “We do not use systematic theology.” He goes on to state that he knows about different Christologies and the early creeds, but the sense you get is that these hard fought truths are largely irrelevant to his context. If we are quick to fault American Christians for being ignorant and unconcerned about the history of the church and the Great Tradition, why would we give the insider movement a pass when it perpetuates the same attitudes? There’s no problem with new councils to discuss new challenges (as Abu Jaz recommends), but let’s not assume we can safely ignore the truths hammered out in earlier generations. We need to claim the history of the whole church and not imagine any of us can (or ought to) start from scratch. And besides, most of those truths were hammered out in what today is the Muslim world, not in America or Europe.

Concern 3: There seems to be an implicit understanding that the Holy Spirit will do what human teachers don’t. Abu Jaz and his interviewer make much of the fact that Muslim background believers are a work in the progress. They don’t come to an orthodox understanding of Jesus overnight. They may struggle with syncretism for awhile, but this is all part of the journey. I’m fine with this kind of “messy” discipleship, provided we are deliberately trying to teach people through the fog into clearer light. And yet, over and over Abu Jaz speaks of the Holy Spirit doing this work rather than human teachers. Maybe human agency is implied, but I’m not confident it is. For example, Abu Jaz stresses that the evangelist can choose which benefit of the cross to share (in an effort to meet Muslim felt needs) because gradually the Holy Spirit will explain the rest.

This emphasis on the Spirit taking the baton from us to lead the Muslim into all the truth about Jesus shows up often. It’s a misappropriation of the promise Jesus made uniquely to the apostles (John 16:13) and an underappreciation for the role of Spirit-gifted teachers in the discipleship process (Eph. 4:11-14). The early church was certainly Spirit-filled, but it was also devoted to the apostles’ teaching. To expect the Spirit to teach what we won’t does not honor the Spirit. Instead, it dishonors the work he has already done in leading the once-for-all apostolic band into all truth we need to know.

Christianity Today is to be commended for highlighting such an important issue for the global church. What is less encouraging is the cautious endorsement of the insider movement in their editorial and the many weaknesses evident in this featured interview. Let us pray for seminaries, denominations, pastors, missionaries, mission committees, churches, and parachurch agencies as they think through these significant challenges and try to avoid these attractive compromises.

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Comments:


42 thoughts on “CT’s “Insider” Interview Prompts Questions and Concerns”

  1. Bill Laky says:

    I spent time in a country that used a similar method. I wouldn’t call it a deep insider movement where we were, but it was a middle-ground version to say the least. Although I do think that there are bad versions of deep context, there are also very good manifestations thereof.

    I was skeptical as I sat in my first meeting, a discovery group walking through 30 lessons from creation to ascension. The group would have a printout of the scriptures from that day and knew that they were from the Bible. They had been invited to study the “straight path of salvation” – a muslim concept. The Holy Spirit truly did move as the scriptures were read and discussed. The missionary worker didn’t teach, a muslim actually facilitated (having met with the missionary in a previous meeting), and God simply opened up their eyes to the truths of the Word via the Holy Spirit. One man, upon reading about the creation of Eve, proclaimed “If my wife is flesh of my flesh, I need to stop beating her.” In other meetings, when discussing Peter’s confession of who Jesus was, one Muslim, unprovoked, said, “Jesus is God.” No one told him this. He didn’t study a theology book. He gathered it from the readings and the Holy Spirit brought it to light. God truly did work and, although it is slow going, Muslims did and are coming to faith.

    Granted, the movement has problems and, as you mentioned, ecclesiology is one of those problems. I have heard stories of discovery groups becoming churches with leaders, discipline, etc, and others that simply stayed as secret Bible studies.

    In seminary, I remembering studying and reading about the movement in the Perspectives book and being very opposed. Having seen a version of it firsthand, I definitely slackened up a bit. Maybe I just saw a good version. Who knows, but I would proudly support the workers that I was with.

    My apologies if this seems to be a bit rambling, it’s still early :)

  2. Chris Robin says:

    The reason their ecclesiology is weak is because most, if not all, of the people who came up with it are Navigators. I was at a Common Ground Consultation about 4.5 years ago and it was mostly Navigators. This consultation is a main vehicle of propagating Insider Movement methods. It is an intensive 4 day training that covers about everything. I actually just learned from a newsletter from a guy involved in it that it is actually a Navigator’s ministry. A branch from Common Ground is the smaller, more just evangelism-focused Jesus in the Qu’ran seminar that lasts a 1.5 days.

    From my experience, it is very exciting because you come away feeling like this is the break through you needed to reach your Muslim friends. But as you work thru it with them, my more conservative friends don’t like it because they think it distorts Islam. My more liberal friends thinks it means we’re (all Abrahamic faiths) good now. Everyone goes to heaven. Obviously, this method has worked for others, but it hasn’t been as helpful as I hoped. Plus, as I’ve matured (I’m only 26), I’ve become less and less enamored with it. I think it’s helpful to anyone doing ministry with Muslims to be familiar with it because others are using it plus it does give you good background on Islam. But as you note, there are issues with it.

  3. John Swalley says:

    Deyoung, you bring up some legitimate points however, your questions and concerns and deeply grounded in a Western/Institutional/ Individualistic mindset of following Jesus. I appreciate your humility but before we can accurately evaluate the C1-C6 spectrum we need to truly understand the cultural context where many of these strategies are taking place, and basic principles of contextualization.

  4. Mike Tisdell says:

    Kevin,

    Overall I think you have dealt very well with this issue; however, I think the question about whether “Allah” should be used as God’s name is a little more complex. In contexts where “Allah” is the word used to describe a generic deity (like “god” is used in English), good arguments can be made for retaining this word in Christian literature and worship but in contexts where this is ONLY a NAME used in Islamic worship there are no valid arguments for using this NAME. IM advocates often frame arguments for using the name “Allah” from linguistic contexts (like Arabic)where this is the generic word for “god” and then use these arguments as the basis for using “Allah” in linguistic contexts where Allah is a NAME only used to describe the Islamic deity; it is a bait and switch kind of argument.

  5. Renata says:

    In all my studying of the Scriptures…I have not read or seen Jesus Christ adjusting the Gospel to make it more understandable to other religions if you will…Jesus Christ always told it like it was…never watered down or to reach a certain religious group such as the Pharisees….He was pretty straight forward as we should be I believe…

  6. bpm says:

    John,

    First, I think your criticism of Kevin is overstated. While he, like all of us, comes at this issue from his own understandings and opinions, I think he has actually made a case contrary to common “Western” and individualistic perspectives.

    For instance, he argues against a kind of individualistic discipleship that relies only on the Holy Spirit and the word to the exclusion of the God-given gifts of pastors and teachers in the church (Eph 4). Furthermore, he argues for a full-orbed appreciation of the church (local, universal, and historical). Believers don’t simply come to Christ as their “personal” savior, but they come to the communion of the saints, a heavenly assembly (Heb 12), they gather regularly (Heb 10), and submit to their leaders (Heb 13). And if I could add to Kevin’s list on the benefits of the church in teaching, the sacraments, and discipline, there are also the historical blessings of church councils, creeds, and confessions which continue to serve the church and aid our worship.

    I fear, then, that our Muslim brothers who come to faith in Christ and remain inside the mosque may be unnecessarily and unhealthily individualized and isolated from the church, which seems to me to be itself a very “Western” influence.

    Lastly, your critique of Kevin for being “deeply grounded” in his own cultural background and mindset serves to prove one of his points. Culture is more like bacteria than a host. It doesn’t just house people who think a certain way, it forms their thoughts. Which is just one more reason why we cannot view Muslim culture as some sort of neutral player in this whole debate.

  7. Mike says:

    looks like this is another attempt to create the one world religion and one universal truth. in the world’s eyes, it really doesn’t matter which god someone serves or how they serve him as long as they are good to others and tolerant of everyone. if this were true we would have had no need for the Father to crucify His Son Who beforehand commanded repentance and to follow Him.

  8. Melody says:

    and yet we have Christmas, Easter – with bunnies that carry eggs but Christians like to call them resurrection eggs, not to mention the birthday cake that people bake for Jesus every year even though the Jewish culture did not even celebrate birthdays and we don’t know the date that He was born. Many churches still have paintings of a very white Jesus with light hair and blue eyes. Yes we are called to leave our old lives behind but obviously that is not as clear cut as one might think. I think we need to examine ourselves as much as we examine them.

    I think we should also remember that we are safe here and it is easy to judge. I like Kevin’s comments and questions. I don’t think that means we should try to supply snap answers. And I really don’t think we need to start writing hateful blogs about one world religions and who might be to blame or in on it.

  9. Faith McD says:

    Kevin: I think you have raised very legitimate concerns and asked very important questions. One thing you overlooked — in almost all of these countries where the Insider Movement is taking place, there is also an indigenous Church — usually being brutally persecuted. Neither the Insider Movement Jesus followers nor the missionaries that work with them tend to express very much concern about those followers of Jesus who DO forsake all, even their Islamic culture, and convert to Christianity for their walk with Christ. In fact, some are quite annnoyed with Muslim Background Believers/Christians.

  10. Ahmad says:

    Another Question:

    How does an Insider stay at peace with other Muslims, specifically his/her Imam, and yet confess with his/her mouth that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son? Furthermore, would an Insider participate in reciting the Shihada (“There is none worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God”). Isn’t this destined either to unravel or prove to be something other than Christianity?

    “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” 1 John 4:15

    “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

    Thanks,

    Ahmad

  11. daryl says:

    I smell a rodent of unusual size. As I read DeYoung’s article, I couldn’t help fearing that the Insider movement is nothing more than a thinly disguised attempt at avoiding the perennial downside: identifying with The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Why not extend this Insider logic to all forms of push back we encounter, even within our own American culture? If God can turn a blind eye to the blood-thirsty Allah usurping Jesus Christ through association, why won’t he blink a bit at someone deciding to be a hedonist for Christ, or an occultist for Christ, or a moon-god worshipper for Christ, or a (fill-n-the-name-of-the-latest-false-belief)for Christ?

    At least for someone coming out of Judaism to Jesus, one also wishing to continue to observe O.T. tradition (“…let him not become uncircumcised”), if he understands his or her O.T. Christology as much, then I say let him or her. But Judaism is the progenitor of Christianity. It had a valid operating claim at one time. That doesn’t mean someone can’t get in serious trouble if he or she insists on staying “Jewish” in the total sense. But I think most Messianics understand this and are very careful of what they do.

    Islam, however, has nothing of the sort going for it. “Sister Religion?” Come off it! It is an entirely false religion devised specifically to usurp and erase the claims of Jesus Christ upon humanity and history. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There can be no quarter. Perhaps some of us are forgetting that Muslims insist “Allah has no son.” That must echo in the ears of an Insider when uses the name “Allah” to mean Jesus’ Father in heaven. What does the Insider do then? His worlds have collided, and he will be crushed between them.

    I’m afraid this Insider business is a road to nowhere but more persecution. It has as little intellectual capital going for it as most sectarianism does in that region of the world. That’s why I’m not surprised at the twisted logic it employs. Such will enjoy only a short time under the sun and no more. For, if you haven’t observed already, Muslims have a way dealing with their own miscreants. If all the “official” shades and flavors of Islam cannot agree and are, thus, constantly at each other’s throats with scimitars, I fear they will hardly blink an eye once they become wise, en masse, to what the Insiders are doing. It’s only a matter of time. (Though I pray to God I’m wrong.) They will launch a purge when the Insiders are discovered, having become numerous enough to draw their attentions and perceived as a threat. I fear that, though the regard is still as low as is imaginable, a Muslim will have more respect for an outright Muslim convert to Christianity (before slitting his throat) than he will for one who had tried to keep a foot in both camps—and with no theological leg to stand on, in either case. For an Insider may fool himself for a little while, but he will not fool a fellow Muslim for as long.

  12. Bill Laky says:

    @Faith McD – Or the indigenous church is bastardized by the west and completely hypocritical. Look at the way the indigenous church in PNG has dropped the ball. It is a sad story, but missions over the last 60 years had some pretty dark moments, like forcing converts to sing hymns, sit in pews, and watch little house on a prairie (b/c that’s what christians are supposed to do).

    Not responding to you, Faith, but I think some of the above comments are coming from an ignorance to Islam and working with Muslims. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you understand Muslim culture because you read a book on the Al Qaeda promoted by Fox News.

  13. Mike Mileski says:

    I can’t see how this article’s view of the church is anything close to what’s understood in the New Testament. Does not ekklesia literally mean “the called out ones”? To be called out, but not to go “out” (i.e., making decisions to distance oneself as necessary from certain traditions / propositions that no longer reflect one’s identity, and to embrace certain other traditions / propositions that better reflect one’s identity in Christ) seems to me disobedience.

  14. Amanda says:

    One of the biggest concerns about the Insider Movement is its tendency to use Bible translations that remove the familial pronouns for God – Father and Son. It is offensive to Muslims that Christians believe Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, so these Muslim friendly translations substitute other words. It is problematic to change the words of the Bible in order to not offend, since the gospel message is offensive in itself, according to Jesus and Paul.

  15. Bill Laky says:

    @Ahmad Some of the people I met called themselves Muslim followers of Isa (like the guy in the CT article). They took the position that Muslim means to be submitted to God and that they were submitting to God by following Isa. They were persecuted, and they were open about their faith, but they considered themselves followers of the Way and did not associate with the indigenous church. Why? Because the indigenous church was bogged down by all kinds of western culture and it didn’t look anything like the teachings of Jesus. Sad, but that was the case. One example of this is that some in the indigenous church all but gave up on evangelizing their own country because although the country had a large population, it was still fractured into tribal groups. Tribes that became Christian 50 years ago still had deep resentment towards other tribes and wouldn’t share the Gospel with them.

  16. Michael says:

    “Abu Jaz bristles at the Christian church because it feels like “a very strange thing” to Muslims”

    Muslim is a religion, not a people group. You can’t be a Muslim and a Christian at the same time.

    “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

  17. Mike Tisdell says:

    @Melody,

    One of the common techniques used by IM missionaries is the blurring of the line between heterodoxy and heresy. Most of those opposed to the Insider movement are not opposed to it because of the cultural aspects that have adopted from Islam i.e. Praying five times a day on prayer rugs, worshiping on Fridays, adhering to a Halal diet, etc… All of these things and more can be reflective of a C4 congregation. These are the Middle Eastern equivalents to your “resurrection eggs,” “anglo-saxon paintings,” “Birthdays” examples. While some of these kinds of things can make other Christians uncomfortable, none of these kinds of things are the kind of issues addressed in Kevin’s article. At issue are the theological compromises i.e. rejection of the divinity of Christ, affirmation of the Qu’ran as God’s inspired word, affirmation of Mohammad as true prophet, worship within the Islamic Mosque, separation from other Christians, etc… It is the theological and identity issues that distinguish C5 (Insider Movements) from C4 (highly contextualized). This issue has long been known as the C4/C5 controversy because is the theological (not the cultural) compromises that have caused people in the church to be concerned.

  18. Mike Tisdell says:

    @Bill Laky,

    While there are some legitimate concerns about how to bring MBB’s into the indigenous church, many IM missionaries have made a mountain out of a mole hill when dealing with this issue. In the few areas where there are legitimate concerns, establishing c3/c4 congregations is still a legitimate solution (at least temporarily). One of the biggest issues with C5 is that they are not trying to deal with the disunity between new converts and the indigenous church; they promoting it by teaching converts to stay in the mosque and stay separated from the indigenous church (even in areas where the indigenous church would welcome them). In some cases they are even trying to draw MBB’s out of the church and get them to return to the Islamic Mosque. One of the big differences I see between missionaries working with very highly contextualized congratulations where “followers of Isa” gather together for worship and the Insider Movement is that the C4 missionaries are trying hard to work with the local churches and bring unity, the C5 missionaries are working in opposition to the local churches and teaching believers to remain separated from the church.

  19. Mike Todd says:

    Thanks, Faith, for drawing attention to the issue of love (John 13:35) and unity (John 17:20-23) between followers of Jesus. When MBB’s (or believers of any other background) turn a blind eye to the suffering of persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, there’s a serious problem.

    The following are just two of many passages that merit reflection:

    “Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

    “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need– how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.” (1 John 3:15-18)

  20. Zack Skrip says:

    It seems that the MBB that did the interview is part of a C4 church. He says he does not worship in the mosque and muslims do not consider their assembly to be muslim at all. C4, like others have mentioned, may make us uncomfortable, but it sounds like the still have a church, that meets regularly, and is separated from the false religion of Islam.

    I think his conflation of muslim-as-culture and muslim-as-theology is unhelpful, but once you get the beat down, it makes sense enough. I was unaware that C4 churches were even considered “Insider” churches. I was under the (false?) belief that that only applied to C5 churches.

    For those of you in the know, is that true?

  21. Mike Tisdell says:

    Zack,

    I think you have misunderstood the article. He says that when he became a Christian he went to a church (if we accept the validity of his description it would have been C2/C3) but then he left the church and became an insider C5.

  22. Michael says:

    Zack,

    C1, C4, C5 or whatever, it doesn’t matter what “cool name” your give it. What matters is if it fits the Biblical definition of a church! A Muslim is a follower of the religion of Islam (see any dictionary.) You can be an Arab Christian or a Persian Christian, but you cannot be a Muslim and a Christian at the same time. Logic 101.

  23. Mike Tisdell says:

    Michael,

    C1-C4 believers identify themselves as Christians or followers of Jesus and are not part of the Muslim religious community and do not partake in Islamic worship services; they are not “Muslims” Those labels (or “cool names” as you have put it) are helpful in understanding beliefs and identity and Zack’s original assessments are mostly accurate i.e. “Insider Movements” are only applied to C5 (unless someone misunderstands).

    I agree that one cannot be a Muslim and a Christian at the same time. Unfortunately, there are many prominent Christian missions organizations today that are teaching that you can be a Muslim and be truly saved (they don’t call them “Christians”) and it a growing and serous problem. However, it is difficult to address this error if you don’t take the time to understand this issue. You might end up taking aim at the very people who would like to stand with you because they are also concerned about what is being taught in the name of Christ.

  24. Mike Tisdell says:

    Zack,

    I went back and re-read the article and I can see where you got the idea of “insider” churches and I too am a little confused about what exactly is being said. Because the title of the article itself is “Worshiping Jesus in the Mosque” I am assuming that these are not “churches” in the sense that we would normally think of churches. I have personally witnessed many IM missionaries talk about “churches” when they really meant “bible study groups;” sometimes I have even witnessed IM missionaries speak of “churches” when they were simply referring to a community of IM believers that never met together for religious purposes outside of the regular Islamic worship (with non “insider” Muslims). I do know someone that has direct inside knowledge about this particular situation and he tells me that this is C5 so I will ask.

  25. Glenn says:

    Kevin, one thing that disturbs me about some Muslim believers that I’ve met is the denial of the Jewishness of the Christian faith. The redemption of God developed along the lines of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Islam is very explicit in it’s outright denial of this. The whole faith of Islam folds if God worked through Isaac.

  26. Drew Goss says:

    I have a friend that helped ona documentary called Half Devil Half Child about IM. They talk with the indigenous church, Muslim clerics, and followers of Isa. Definately makes one think twice about just who is engaging in colonialism.

  27. Melody says:

    Mike
    You missed this part:

    “I think we should also remember that we are safe here and it is easy to judge. I like Kevin’s comments and questions. I don’t think that means we should try to supply snap answers. And I really don’t think we need to start writing hateful blogs about one world religions and who might be to blame or in on it.”

  28. Mike Tisdell says:

    @Melody,

    Since it was I, and not Mike, who responded to you, I am wondering if you realized that we are not the same person despite having the same first name. You never really answered any of the concerns I had raised.

  29. Cody Lorance says:

    Greetings, I appreciate Pastor DeYoung weighing in on this issue, though I do feel his comments reflect a lack of information and careful consideration of the subject of insider movements, etc. I’ve provided a response here http://codylorance.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-contextualize-part-5-locus-of.html and would welcome discussion. Blessings.

  30. Salaam Corniche says:

    Thank you Kevin for your timely article.
    You have detractors among those who comment alleging you do not have “the deep knowledge of Islam” due to a lack of living in a majority Muslim context. But that argument is entirely beside the point as our theology of religions is derived from the Scriptures. May God bless you as you continue to love His Word, His Church and His people.
    Bon courage!
    Shalom

  31. Melody says:

    Well Mike Tisdell since I couldn’t be responding to him why would you think I was not responding to you?

    I brought up the fluff subjects because I did not want to derail or go on bunny trails with the myriad of ways that we disagree denominationally in this country. We cannibalize and near as I can tell it is because of a prideful refusal to examine ourselves at the same time that we are examining others.

    I will say it again. Kevin’s article is good. Now can the rest of us take it into consideration with the humility and self-examination that is required in order to allow the Holy Spirit to work in the situation.

    Perfect example, Christian taken captive in Iran. The call for prayer is met with so many people dissecting his theology in order to determine if he is a Christian worth praying for or what would be considered a Christian at all. Makes us look like real dogs. I’m sure that Paul spent more time praying about the fledgling churches than he did writing about them.

  32. Mike Tisdell says:

    @Melody,

    I had mistakenly assumed that because your reply dealt with the topics in his post and ignored the questions I had asked, that you had confused the two of us. However, since this post doesn’t deal with the issues I raised either, I am going to assume you rant. For the record, I personally have never heard any Christian dissect the theology of the Iranian pastor who is being held in Iran, let alone do so to “determine if he is a Christian worth praying for.” Most Christians I know would be praying for him even if he was of another faith completely. I am sorry but I don’t share your cynicism.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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