Friday, October 16, 2009

Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa, Travis IJFM Spring 2000

Here is the conclusion of the 7 page article Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa: A Closer Look at C5 Believers and Congregations in the Spring 2000 issue of IJFM by John Travis:
Some Muslims who receive Christ as Savior deliberately choose a C5 [Christ-centered Communities of "Messianic Muslims" Who Have Accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior] expression of faith, not for their own sake (e.g., Soleh was prepared to join a church), but for the sake of the lost who would be far less likely to receive truth from outsiders (i.e., "Christians"). Others, like Taufik and Achmad, love Jesus, but simply see staying in the Muslim community as something natural.
There are surely points at which C5 believers must reject the theology of non-Messianic Muslims. Clearly, one can't affirm two completely opposite statements as true (e.g., "Jesus died on a cross," and "Jesus didn't die on a cross"). Therefore, C5 believers will be found to have "aberrant" beliefs. However, when confronted by family and friends with their deviance from Islamic orthodoxy, we have seen the Holy Spirit empower C5 believers to reply with amazing answers (Col. 4:6; Mt. 10:19, 20). They often present reinterpretations of particular Qur'anic verses, bringing much glory to Jesus.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the "aberrance" of C5 Messianic theology almost pales in comparison to the "aberrance" of numerous folk beliefs and shamanistic Muslim practices that saturate popular Islam in our context. Therefore, the way in which C5 believers are received by the larger Muslim community will depend on a variety of factors such as tolerated Islamic heterodoxy, country, ethnicity, local politics, size of the local mosque, and so on. C5 may be appropriate in certain milieus, but not in others. Again, we need to affirm the diversity found throughout the C1-C6 spectrum.

It is possible that C5 may only be a temporary option. Few case C5 studies have been documented, and none go back far enough to watch C5 dynamics across several generations of time. C5 may prove to only be a transitional stage, ending when believers choose, or are forced by the Muslim community, to leave Islam, thereby moving to another point on the C1-C6 spectrum. The first century Jews gathered regularly in the temple with non-Messianic Jews, and in homes with fellow Messianic Jews (Acts 2:46-47). However, in time Jewish authorities began expelling any Jew who believed Jesus was the Messiah. It is noteworthy that this separation of the two communities was not initiated by Jewish believers. Still, many Jews and Jewish leaders came to faith in the intermittent years. The same sequence of events could eventually happen to today's Messianic Muslims. Meanwhile, MBBs like Soleh who stay in their community may be used of God to usher millions of Muslims into His Kingdom.

While we must be careful to guard against syncretism, we must also be mindful that ascent to perfect theological propositions is not the apex of the coming Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed. All our work must be judged according to Scripture. So let us pray for these infant, emerging C5 congregations. In particular, please join us in praying for Taufik, Achmad, Abdul, Soleh and all the people whom their witness touches.

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