Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Contextualization Debate Hits The NY Times?!

Maybe I'm a bit late in noticing this piece about the Camel Method from The New York Times a few weeks ago.  Just in case you don't have time to read it all, I will provide the following excerpt:

On Feb. 3, Ergun Caner, president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., focused attention on a Southern Baptist controversy when he called Jerry Rankin, the president of the denomination’s International Mission Board, a liar. Dr. Caner has since apologized for his language, but he still maintains that the “Camel Method,” a strategy Dr. Rankin endorses for preaching Christianity to Muslims, is deceitful. 

In my humble opinion, this kind of name-calling and divisiveness is not helpful.

Christianity Today also ran a similar article in their April edition, also focusing on the supposed controversial Camel Method.  If these guys are getting so worked up about something that virtually all missionaries do (use the Qur'an as a bridge to the Gospel), it's no wonder that the Insider debate gets folks so heated!

One theme I would like to point out is that I have noticed that some of the most vocal opponents of contextualization are either former Muslims like Dr. Caner, or Arab Christians who have had to deal with some of the persecution that comes from bearing the name of Christ in Islamic-majority contexts.  And while I tremendously respect their opinions forged in the fire of persecution, I would like to appeal to them to have a bit more grace on this issue, as not everyone who comes to Christ in these contexts is mandated to follow the exact path that they walked.

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