Friday, July 30, 2010

The Difference between Insider and C5

Adam Hoffman, who blogs at Missiological Blogger, has a good post about the difference between Insider Movements and C5:

Insider Movements vs. C5 contextualization: is there a difference?

By Adam Hoffman

NOTE: This is an objective article, not intended to share the opinions of the author concerning use of such strategies discussed.

There is a major issue I want to flush out and get to the bottom of.  It seems that amongst missiological circles and even published in major mission scholar journals that the terms Insider Movements and C5 contextualization are interchangeable.  I submit this humble treatise to argue that there is a crucial difference of the two, and request possible new terminology to represent such differences.

A few examples to note that combine the terms C5 and insider movements:

  • Bill Nikides’ article Evaluating “Insider Movements”: C5 (Messianic Muslims) where he reinterprets the original C1-C6 in light of insider movement terminology. (Nikides 2006)
  • John Stringer has a section titled C5: “Insider Movements” in his critique of contextualization. (Stringer 2007: 7)

Here are a few examples of those who are on target with these issues:

  • Timothy Tennent, who critics insider movements properly separates the two, “The growing emphasis on ‘insider movements’ often linked with ‘C-5′ strategy calls for continued discussion and reflection among mission leaders today.” (Tennent 2006:101)
  • H.L. Richard, a prominent Hindu scholar does a good job of separating the two. (Richard 2009: 175-176)
  • I will repost much of Rebecca Lewis’ Promoting Movements to Christ within Natural Communities (Lewis 2007: 74-75) who does a good job of teasing apart the two definitions.{Rebecca Lewis also separates the difference between ‘insider movement’ people movement’ and church planting movement’ in IJFM 26.1 (Lewis 2009: 16-19)}

According to a brilliant scholar and experienced worker, Rebecca Lewis,

“an ‘insider movement’ is any movement to faith in Christ where a) the gospel flows through pre-existing communities and social networks and where b) believing families, as valid expressions of the Body of Christ, remain inside their socio-religious communities, retaining their identity as members of that community while living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible.” (Lewis 2007: 75-76)

John Travis, who coined the C-scale describes points of the scale,

“By definition, C3 and C4 Christ-centered communities are attempts to stay and witness within one’s community of birth: in other words, to remain an ‘insider.’ Therefore, perhaps we need to find a better term like ‘cultural insider’ (for C3 and C4) and ‘religious’ or ‘socio-religious’ insider to describe C5.” (originally in Mission Frontiers 28:5 p.7, quoted from IJFM 24.1 [Corwin 2007: 15])

Travis agrees there is a difference in culture and religion as well as how these play into the C-scale.  He admits himself that “insider” is getting used too often (or as Heath & Heath say “semantic stretch” p.173).  C5 contextualization and Insider Movements are not mutually inclusive terms.

Biblical scholar and missiologist Rick Brown says, “so insider believers can be found across the C-spectrum of Christ-centered communities, although insider movements occur only in C4 and C5.” (Richard 2009:177).  I would change one word here: “only” and substitute it for “usually.”

One key difference I see is that the C-scale is is reporting how far along the scale believers are seeking God according to their indigenous culture forms, although it also looks at identity.  Insider Movements look at the identity of the believer, but more along the lines of familial and community networks.  Members of Insider Movements would answer yes to the following: do they hold the same social status as they did before encountering Christ or not?  Are the communities  allowed to remain in their previous network (as opposed to a conglomeration of individuals from various aspects of society)?

Two situations that may help picture this:

A gathering of Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) who come from different parts of the city, but are coming together for study and prayer.  They were strangers who met at this meeting.  They only see each other once a week although enjoy each other’s company.  The style may even look Islamic but when the individuals are pulled out of their network it ceases to become an ‘insider movement’.

Albeit unusual, I propose the following as a extreme point for contrast.  There is a C3 community where a village or sector in society have all become MBBs.  These groups of families are frustrated with Islam so leave their religious ways behind.  They still worship in their language, but it does not resemble Islam.  They may not even still call themselves Muslim.  The whole community/familiar network has decided to follow Jesus and have abandoned the ways of Islam.  Perhaps they even look Western (or Asian, African, or Latin American).  However since the entire network made a group decision, they are still Insiders.

It is more about the network and communal ties than the “religion”.  The most misleading situation is a house of religion (Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, etc.) that begins to follow Jesus as a whole, but is still made of people who randomly come together for worship (like we see in the West).  Insider Movements occur when the gospel takes over a web of dyadic living, regardless of what it looks like.

Confusing stuff?!?

Once again I will refer to Rebecca Lewis’ comments on this subject to end,

“In my view, ‘insider movements’ are distinct from the C-scale in that, regardless of how Western or non-Western their forms, all that matters is that no new communities (no ‘aggregate churches’) are formed to extract believers from their pre-existing families and networks, so that they naturally retain their former identity. As such, ‘insider movements’ can take place within any socioreligious context, Western or not (such as Russian Orthodox, Mormon, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Chinese Communist, etc.), as long as believers remain inside their families, networks and communities, retaining the socioreligious identity of that group. So, while their new spiritual identity is in following Jesus Christ, and they gladly identify themselves with Him, they remain in their birth family and community and retain the temporal identity of their familial socio-religious context. A C5 church might or might not have developed along the lines of natural social networks, and it might or might not be part of a movement and is therefore distinct from ‘insider movements.’ ‘Messianic synagogues,’ for example, though highly contextualized in forms to religious Judaism, are not an ‘insider movement’ because they are neither flowing through Jewish family networks nor have they succeeded in retaining an acceptably Jewish identity among Jews. Messianic mosques and messianic ashrams often suffer the same fate, following an aggregate model of fellowship formation instead of letting the gospel flow through pre-existing natural communities.” (Lewis 2007: 75-76)

See also the comments at the bottom of Adam’s post.  Thanks Adam for bringing some clarity to this confusing issue.

To summarize, I would say then that the difference between Insider and C5 is that, while there may be significant overlap between the two depending on the context, C5 stresses one being a “religious insider” (remaining in the prevailing religious system of their context) while Insider stresses one being a “cultural insider” (remaining in the same sociological network of people that they were in when they came to Christ).  It is the potential for overlap between “religion” and “culture” that makes distinguishing the terms complex.  In many places within the Muslim world, Insider and C5 would be synonymous paradigms.

In my opinion, new believers should remain as much as possible inside their networks, where “as much as possible” means anything that does not morally or theologically compromise their witness, integrity, and unique identity in the body of Christ.  Syncretism is a serious issue and should be addressed in every context, Islamic or not.  It is naive to assume or impose that a new believer should remain a “Muslim” or inside his previous spiritual/religious system because the possibility of fellowshipping with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14) is as real for him (and you and I!) as it was for the church in Corinth.  Jesus is jealous for us.

But isn’t the crucial issue behind all of this is one’s definition of a local “church?”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

“The Word” Illustration

In both the Qur’an and in the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the/a/his “word.”  I have posted about this before (Jesus as The Word of God).  Here are some of the relevant verses:

“Behold! The angels said, “Oh Mary! Allah gives you Glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus. The son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the next and of those nearest to Allah” (Surah 3:45).

“...Christ Jesus the son of Mary was indeed an apostle of God and his word, which he bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from him...” (Surah 4:171).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… He has made [God] known” (John 1:1; 14; 18).

I have found it helpful to use this shared title of Jesus as an illustration with new seekers or believers in order to explain his identity.  This illustration originally comes from Common Ground, and I have modified it a bit.  I hope you can take what you see below and adapt it to suit your preferences. 

Begin by opening the Injeel to John 1:1-18 and have a piece of paper to draw on with you.  It’s a simple illustration that doesn’t take very long.  A question like this can open up the conversation, “You and I both believe that Jesus is the word of God.  What does that mean?”

image1.  I start off by drawing this modification of the ancient diagram of the “tri-unity.”  At this point, I’m only trying to illustrate the complexity of God’s oneness while staying away from potentially problematic phrases such as Father and Son.  I don’t understand God’s nature or how God is one, but even Muslims can agree that he is Word and Spirit.

image 2.  After discussing the mystery of God’s unity, I ask, “If God is Spirit how can we know him?”  We are human and use our 5 senses.  But God is holy and separate from his creation.  In #1 and #2, there is obviously a lot more you could say (and heresies you need to avoid), but try to keep it simple.  The big idea is the identity of Jesus.

image 3.  “The word became human and lived among us.”  Jesus Messiah is the word of God.  He came from God.  If you’re feeling bold, you can say that Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:1c).  Remember, it is best to use this illustration with the Injeel open to John 1.


image 4.  Finally, if we want to know what God is like and who he is, we look to Jesus.  “He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18).  The point of this illustration is that we know Allah because of and through Jesus the Messiah.

In my experience, the fruit of this simple illustration is that the Muslim seeker begins to indirectly understand the incarnation.  He is also getting used to learning directly from the Bible.

Try it out with your friends and let us know how it goes and how it can improved!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Siljander pleads guilty in Islamic American Relief Agency lobbying case

The Washington Post reports that Mark Siljander, author of A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide, has some legal problems right now:

Siljander confirmed in a Kansas City, Mo., court that he contacted members of Congress in an effort to lift restrictions on the charity and then lied about his work in statements to investigators. He could face a 15-year prison term and a $500,000 fine, according to a Justice Department statement.

Siljander attorney Lance Sandage said in a statement that his client "has accepted responsibility for his conduct in his pleas to an obstruction of justice charge and a violation of a regulatory statute."

"We would point out that all other charges of conspiracy and money laundering against him will be dismissed and of course no terrorism charges were alleged," Sandage said.

You can read a review of A Deadly Misunderstanding here.

HT: Aliel Hajj

Friday, July 23, 2010

How Should People Come to Christ?

From Encountering the World of Islam’s blog:

Have you ever tried sharing Christ with a friend, only to feel dismayed or discouraged at seeing them go in the “wrong direction”? You can probably relate to this scenario. An EWI alumna shares her experience with a friendship formed through completing her assignment of meeting a Muslim: Becoming More Muslim

How should we feel about our Muslim friends embracing their faith all the more? Our usual response to someone becoming “more Muslim” tends to be discouragement, but why is this? It seems that somehow we perceive Muslims to be further from the gospel than other people who aren’t following Christ. Is there really evidence of this? It might surprise us to learn that many Muslims who come to Christ actually point to their faith in Islam as an important step toward faith in Jesus. For us, it’s tempting to see our experiences with Christ as prescriptive. In other words, we think, “This is how I heard the gospel, so this is the way everyone must respond to the good news.” This is a pretty serious assumption, though, and one that fails to recognize how much we see our faith and Scriptures through our own cultural lenses. Muslims are not like us, so perhaps our expectations for them should also be different.

If we are feeling discouraged or disappointed with our Muslim friend’s choices, it might be helpful to take a moment and think about our expectations. What exactly is our hope for our friends who have yet to encounter Christ, and what should their journey to discovering Jesus look like? Is it possible that the glimpses of truth found in other religious systems could prepare and point someone to the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

The fact that a person doesn’t have complete truth doesn’t mean that he or she is on the wrong path. It could be that such people are pointed in the right direction, but just haven’t gotten there yet. The decision to practice one’s faith more devoutly often reveals a deepening desire to connect with God. If your heart stirred to know God more, wouldn’t you first go through the channels that you know? Instead of trying something new, wouldn’t your first efforts include practicing familiar rituals with greater fervency? Seen in this way, a person’s return to his or her faith could be a sign of growing faith and hungering to experience relationship with him more.

As we become more aware of our expectations - which might not be as much biblical as they are cultural - we’ll need to make room in our minds for someone’s relationship with Jesus to look rather different from our own. How many of our cultural ideas of Christianity play into what we think should happen with our Muslim friends? Perhaps God desires to draw them to Jesus through Islam. Can we imagine God working through another religious system to reveal himself?

Yes and no.  Everyone comes to Christ from a certain background.  We should not ask or expect Muslims to come to our own background before they come to Christ.  The way into the Kingdom is Jesus and Jesus only.  So at some point Muslims who come to Christ will understand that Islam is not the answer (neither is “Christianity”).  Our job is ask for the Spirit to work and invite Muslims to the gospel.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transformation and Imagination

From Jon Hirst:

There is a lot of talk about transformation these days. It speaks to the yearning in believer around the world to go beyond head knowledge or behavioral adjustments to a deep and lasting change that allows us to be incarnational in our ministry to others.

But where does transformation begin? What launches transformation in our hearts? I was reading a post in the Lausanne Global Conversation from a friend of mine, Pauline Hoggarth, and she hit on this very question.

In her post about the ongoing Ephesians study that will be central to the Cape Town 2010 event, she said, “…metaphors function at the level of our imagination and it’s in our imagination that the process of transformation begins. Our imagination engages the cogs of our will to bring about transformed behaviour and attitudes.”

She was talking about the use of metaphors in Ephesians and the power they have to engage us and transform us. I had never thought of how our imagination is where the first stirrings of transformation are found but it rings very true.

Think about it . . . as you go about your Christian walk, there are moments when God stirs in you a new idea or understanding of Him and what obedience looks like. Your imagination propels you forward to consider the idea further and then to act on it.

But capturing the imagination is not something we often focus on in evangelism and discipleship is it? We have tended to focus on propositions and ideas or on emotions and fears. What would it look like if you strived to capture people’s imaginations in order to launch them into transformation?

Related Post:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Trinity 101 - Trinitarian Heresies and Applicable Islamic Parallels

Friends, please forgive me for not getting back to the series of posts that I had wanted to do on the Trinitarian and Christological controversies from the Early Church that are relevant for the discussion with Islam today.  I've been way too busy.  So I figured that since I haven't had the time to deal with these issues as I wanted to just yet, I would do the next best thing.  Have a look below...

The following is a brief overview of some Trinitarian hereseis from Church History, and (where applicable), their relevance to Islam and Islamic theology.  The list is adapted from Monergism.  (Don't be surprised to see me borrow more of their excellent resources in the future!)

Trinitarian Heresies (and Applicable Islamic Parallels)
Modalism (i.e. Sabellianism, Noetianism and Patripassianism) 
...taught that the three persons of the Trinity as different “modes” of the Godhead. Adherants believed that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not distinct personalities, but different modes of God's self-revelation. A typical modalist approach is to regard God as the Father in creation, the Son in redemption, and the Spirit in sanctification. In other words, God exists as Father, Son and Spirit in different eras, but never as triune. Stemming from Modalism, Patripassianism believed that the Father suffered as the Son.
As it relates to Islam - I have already dealt with this heresy in an earlier post.

...Tritheism confessses the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three independent divine beings; three separate gods who share the 'same substance'. This is a common mistake because of misunderstanding of the use of the term 'persons' in defining the Trinity.
As it relates to Islam - Most Muslims believe that this is what Christians believe.  This, of course, is simply not true!  Let's be careful to understand  and communicate what we mean by "personhood" in the Trinity with our Muslim friends.

...taught that the preexistent Christ was the first and greatest of God’s creatures but denied his fully divine status. The Arian controversy was of major importance in the development of Christology during the fourth century and was addressed definitely in the Nicene Creed.
As it relates to Islam - Muslims may not say that Christ was God's first and greatest created creature, but they do believe that Jesus was a created being (and a very noble prophet at that!).  To make this claim is to ignore passages from Scripture such as Jesus' words in John 17:5, "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." 

...taught that Jesus Christ as a purely divine being who only had the “appearance” of being human. Regarding his suffering, some versions taught that Jesus’ divinity abandoned or left him upon the cross while other claimed that he only appeared to suffer (much like he only appeared to be human).
As it relates to Islam - The first part of the above definition doesn't really apply, since Muslims don't think Jesus is divine in the first place.  But the second part, which talks about the 'mere appearance' of Jesus' suffering on the Cross, sounds very Islamic.  In Islam this idea comes from Surah 4:157.  But as we will see in future posts, it doesn't really hold - even based solely on Qur'anic exegesis - not to mention Biblical or historical evidence!

...taught that while Jesus was endowed with particular charismatic gifts which distinguished him from other humans but nonetheless regarded Him as a purely human figure.
As it relates to Islam - This sounds quite Islamic, as in Islam Jesus is viewed as a (charismatically gifted) prophet.  Muslims are always quick to point out that whenever Jesus does a miracle, it is from the power of Allah.  In other words, they insist he doesn't have miraculous resources within himself to draw from - rather, his miraculous powers are solely from God.  Jesus is merely the 'slave of Allah', albeit a gifted slave.

...that that the Holy Spirit is a created being.
As it relates to Islam - Actually this is interesting, because Muslims would probably concur with a Christian view on this more than others.  The Spirit of God (one of Jesus' Qur'anic titles, incidentally) is certainly not a created being in Islam, because God's Spirit necessarily flows from him.  The Holy Spirit is, generally speaking, very difficult to understand in Islam.  But we have some common ground here.

...taught that Jesus was born totally human and only later was “adopted” – either at his baptism or at his resurrection – by God in a special (i.e. divine) way.
As it relates to Islam - Some Muslims might hold to a view of Jesus that is in accord with this heresy.  They might grant that Jesus was actually more special than the average Joe in first century Israel - perhaps approaching divinity given his amazing miracles - they won't allow for the fact that Jesus is necessarily divine by his nature.  Rather, they are more apt to adopt (no pun intended) an adoptionist view.

...taught that Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are components of the one God. This led them to believe that each of the persons of the Trinity is only part God, only becoming fully God when they come together.
As it relates to Islam - Muslims would never hold to this heresy, because it goes totally against their doctrine of Tawhid (the absolute oneness of God).  If you meet a Muslim who sounds Partialistic in his theology, please let me know so we can do a case study!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Discovery Series Seeker Bible Study

A while ago I posted a Bible study designed specifically for Muslims called Nine Bible Studies for Muslim Seekers.  Below is another study from the the Roland Muller website called the Discovery Series.  Here is the outline:

    1. God, Man, and Creation
    2. The Fall of Man – The Origin of Sin
    3. Fundamentals of the Bible
    4. Redemption in the Old Testament (The Necessity of Blood for Salvation)
    5. Who is Jesus
    6. The Proper Response to God

You can read the Discovery Series on-line, PDF, or RTF (Word).  It also come in a series of Arabic videos that you can download and send via bluetooth to your Muslim friends.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What? In America?

Don't quite know what to say about this article except to think about Jesus' words in John 15:20, "Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."

Christians' Arrest: 1st Step to Placate Muslims

Four missionaries arrested at an Arab festival in Dearborn, Michigan, have been arraigned.

The missionaries have appeared each year of the Annual Arab International Festival, but this year police moved in and arrested them and confiscated a camera from one member was using to film the arrests. Detroit television station WXYZ was on hand for the arraignment and talked to one of the
accused, Nabeel Qureshi.

"Our we were going through the festival [was] to allow the people to approach us," he explains. "So we did not approach anyone to avoid charges of harassing."

All four are charged with disturbing the peace, but 18-year-old Nageen Mayel, a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was also charged with refusing to obey a police officer's order to stop filming. "I was scared," she told WXYZ-TV. "There was no reason for them to approach me, so my immediate reaction was fear of the unknown and why they were doing it."

All four missionaries plead not guilty today. They are represented by Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, who points to the Constitution.

"If people are offended by the fact that they were preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims and trying to convert Muslims -- well, guess what, we have a First Amendment," Muise points out. "This is a free society. It's not a police state."

As the four apparently head to trial, the Law Center is preparing a civil suit to be filed against the city.

HT: Zoecity

Monday, July 12, 2010

Community – The Primary Apologetic

From Mike Bergman:

But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you… 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)

Ever since my high school days I’ve had a thing for apologetics.  I used to debate non-Christians on various web forums over science, philosophy, and belief; then in college I belonged to a group some friends started called the Society of Christian Apologists and Philosophers (SOCAPS for short—it had a ring to it!).  We took the Bible, Faith Has Its Reasons, and Mere Christianity as our main texts and sought to engage others on the U. of Oklahoma’s campus with the truths of Christianity.  In the course of time I have moved from being a you just need to believe fideist to a Geisler-loving evidentialist to a Schaeffer and Van Til following presuppositionalist to a…well, whatever it is I am now.  It was an interesting philosophical journey, but along the way something began to happen: I started to question how effective my debating (which seemed a lot of times to be mostly arguing) actually was in helping people see Jesus and the Gospel.

In truth, it wasn’t.

Then I started thinking more about this verse…how our primary apologia is to give a “reason for the hope” to the one who asks.  This isn’t about debate and who can argue the facts better, but a reason for hope.  (That’s not to say that evidence and presuppositions don’t play a part, just not the greatest part).  Even more, two other verses came to stand out: John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” and John 17:23, “I in them and you in me that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

Jesus describes this apologetic of our Christian faith as community—the family we call “church”—and how we love each other, care for each other, and join with each other.

My problem was that I could debate all I wanted so that people could hear/read my words and my arguments, but they never saw a life that went with them.  Even more they never saw a life lived in relationship to others.  Different religions and beliefs fill the world, as do billions of fallen people who share the same basic human needs including a sense of belonging (and of course, salvation).

Our Gospel is one of hope: turn from sin, come to Jesus, be saved, have new life, eternal joy, perfect forgiveness, and future resurrection/restoration all bound up in being part of a new people/nation/family.  What better way for others to see that our hope is real than the very things that Jesus said: love each other and be one with each other?  We build a community of grace based on the work of Jesus, serving and caring for each other, and inviting others to find faith in Jesus and become a part.  It’s popular to disparage the local church (and some criticism is well founded, but not all and probably not most), but the individual church communities are essential to engaging the world with the Gospel.

Will we ever be a part of a local church that displays this apologetic community perfectly?  Of course not, after all even in the church we’re still dealing with fallen people—though we have been saved by grace and are patiently being reshaped (sanctified) by Jesus.  But we must do our best to love others, work though our differences, and strive for a greater unity all for the glory of Christ and for the sake of our defense of the hope that is in us…


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Via an email someone forwarded me from David Garrison:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

imageWherever you are serving Christ, I know that we share a common desire is to see new believers and new believing communities multiply among the people to whom God has called us. For several years now, we’ve been calling these multiplying communities Church Planting Movements. And by God’s grace we are seeing a growing number of these movements from Cuba to China, India to Indonesia and many points in between.

Church Planting Movements are not so much a destination, as they are a journey, a journey of learning and becoming more useful as instruments of God in his great global harvest. All over the world, God is teaching us how we can be used by him to reap in the harvest fields to which he has called us. If only we could learn the many lessons God is teaching his harvesters around the world!

Now we can! This is your invitation to become a part of the global CPM learning community!

You are invited to log onto, and bookmark, the new website There you will find articles, case studies, PowerPoints, interactive resources, free downloadable booklets, and a forum for connecting with fellow CPM practitioners around the world.

After you login, let me encourage you to be more than a casual browser. Log into the <Join CPM Insider> feature. This will enable you to comment on articles and even enter into the secure <Iron-on-Iron Forum> where you can dialogue with other CPM practitioners around the world about the challenges that concern you most. Finally, we invite you to contribute your own insights, tools, and resources to the Church Planting website. This is a Learning Community and we can’t learn without learning from you. Join up, today!

May God bless you wherever you serve him!

David Garrison


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Surah al-Mulk

From Islam Future:

The Messenger of Allah said: “There is a Surah in the Quran which contains thirty ayaat which kept interceding for a man until his sins are forgiven. This Surah is ‘Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion.’ (Surah Mulk)” [At-Tirmidi & Abu Dawood]

Another example of an duty in Islam providing forgiveness of sins.  (See the posts below for other examples.)  Although it is possible that the argument of Surah al-Mulk 67 provides the motivation (hellfire) to keep one from sinning.

In any case, forgiveness of sins is definitely a concern in the Islamic worldview.

Related posts:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Healthy Theology of Healing

No matter where you stand on the issue of spiritual gifts and healing, if you work with Muslims you know that this is a very important topic!  Phil Moore, of Queen's Road Church (London, UK) has done us all an excellent service in the following article (particularly his diagrams).  Please have a look and let me know what you think...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rick Love on the Ergun Caner Scandal

Rick Love on Ergun Caner, Evangelicals, Muslims and the Media: Bearing False Witness:

The media has bombarded us with sound bites and stereotypes about Muslims. Sometimes we are told that Islam is a religion of peace. Yet the more disturbing and frequent picture painted is of militant Islam. Many articles, books and websites about Muslims and terrorism present an alarmist and fear-inducing approach. These authors focus mainly on negative elements of Islam and the threat posed by radical Islam. They tend to project onto all Muslims a radical agenda espoused by only a few. The result: fear and alienation…

This is the context that made Dr. Caner a celebrity among many fundamentalists and some evangelicals. Here was a man who was the “real deal.” As a former Muslim and terrorist, he was an authority that demanded our attention and deserved our devotion.  So now it’s easy to point our finger at Dr. Caner when we realize he has not been truthful about his background.

I am more concerned, however, about pointing the finger at evangelicals (and journalists of all types) who frequently exaggerate or make misstatements about Muslims. While this kind of commentary sells books and appeals to our fears, the Bible calls this bearing false witness.  In fact, overstatement, exaggeration and words taken out of context should not be found among followers of Jesus.

Read his whole post.

Related posts:

What Leaders Really Do

From What’s Best Next:

John Kotter’s classic article What Leaders Really Do is one of the most helpful things I have ever read. 

The article delineates the difference between leadership and management.  I have compiled his comparisons in the table below.  Kotter says: “The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.”



Coping with complexity Coping with change
Planning and budgeting Setting a direction
Goals Vision
Plans Strategies
Organizing and staffing Aligning people
Problem of a proper design Communications challenge
Fulfill a short-term plan Envision an alternative future
    Requires credibility and integrity
     Leads to empowerment
Controlling and problem solving Motivating and inspiring
Monitor actions Generate highly energized behavior

This quotes explains his philosophy of leadership (emphasis mine):

Since change is the function of leadership, being able to generate highly energized behavior is important for coping with the inevitable barriers to change. Just as direction setting identifies an appropriate path for movement and just as effective alignment gets people moving down that path, successful motivation ensures that they will have the energy to overcome obstacles.

How leaders motivate others:

Good leaders motivate people in a variety of ways. First, they always articulate the organization's vision in a manner that stresses the values of the audience they are addressing. This makes the work important to those individuals. Leaders also regularly involve people in deciding how to achieve the organization's vision (or the part most relevant to a particular individual). This gives people a sense of control. Another important motivational technique is to support employee efforts to realize the vision by providing coaching, feedback, and role modeling, thereby helping people grow professionally and enhancing their self-esteem. Finally, good leaders recognize and reward success, which not only gives people a sense of accomplishment but also makes them feel like they belong to an organization that cares about them. When all this is done, the work itself becomes intrinsically motivating.

Sometime I feel like I’m leading when I’m really just managing.  Does that ever happen to you?

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Conquering Prayerlessness

Have you ever been prayerless?  I sure have.  Here is a nice, brief article (1 page PDF) by Andrew Murray called Conquering Prayerlessness.  Here is a quote that jumped out at me:

If the question is put: “Is a change possible?”  Our sighing heart says: “Alas, for me it is entirely impossible!”  Do you know why that reply comes? It is simply because you have received the call to prayer as the voice of Moses and as a command of the law.  Moses and his law have never yet given any one the power to obey…