Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Polygamy and Creation

Recently I was in a discussion with a close Muslim friend in the Arabian Peninsula.  He was listing all the benefits of polygamy and talking about how virtuous it was to protect women in such a way, when finally I had enough.  I asked, "When Allah created the world, how many wives did he give to Adam? One, that's right.  And since Allah is perfect in all he does, that must include his original design for marriage - one man and one woman."  Then I said, "So what does this mean for polygamy?"  He said, "You are right, somewhere along the way Allah's plan for marriage must have been corrupted."  I said, "Well, you know what Jesus said about marriage - one man and one woman."  He just nodded his head and became silent and smiled.  Then he said, "You're right!  I'm only going to have one wife."  We just started laughing.

Sometimes we just need to appeal to God's creative order to get the point across!

Birds Don’t Fly Over Mecca

A Western Christian friend of mine was having a heated discussion on matters of faith with an Arab Muslim friend of his when suddenly the Muslim said forcefully, “You know what- birds don’t fly over Mecca,” as if to prove once and for all that Islam is the true and final revelation of God.

This was humorous to me until I read this:

The concept of baraka pervades Muslim minds. It matters not whether it is a question of fulfilling the formal, religious duty of hajj, or of giving expression to the more magical attitudes towards Baraka as a power for healing.

Baraka is seen as ‘good’. It could, however, be ‘too good’ for one. At the very center of Islam, in Mecca itself, is a very dangerous possibility that must be avoided. If a pilgrim were to look up into the sky right above the ka’ba, he might have a glimpse into paradise and as a result suffer mental derangement; he would have been exposed to too much Baraka. That is why, if you look carefully, you will see that doves never fly across the roof of the ka’ba. It is, consequently, the place pilgrims choose to walk round and round constantly. If human pilgrims are not available, then angelic ones replace them. The gate to heaven is above the ka’ba. Never could a believer be physically closer to God. Precisely there, however, where Baraka exists in its most concentrated form, it is also unpredictably dangerous. Baraka is not to be played with.

From The Unseen Face of Islam: Sharing the Gospel with Ordinary Muslims at Street Level by Bill Musk, pgs. 238-239 (emphasis mine).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What is a missional hermeneutic? (The Mission of God, Wright)

Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpretation.  It provides a map that guides the reader to a meaning of a text.  All maps aim to simplify and represent reality, and there will necessarily be limitations in any map.  But a good map is essential if you want to accurately understand where you are and where you are going.

In The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative, Chris Wright demonstrates how a “missional hermeneutic” is a map that approaches the whole Bible from the perspective of mission.  This is the perspective which enables us to grasp the driving dynamic of the Bible’s grand narrative. 

According to Wright, it is not enough to recognize the Christological focus of the Bible.  (And also not enough to recognize the plain, historical, and grammatical hermeneutic.)  Of course Jesus is the central interpretative key by which we understand the overall significance of the Old and New Testaments, but we must also recognize the missiological focus of the Bible because God in Christ is on a mission.

A key text in biblical hermeneutics says, “Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations”” (Luke 24:45-47). Wright comments that Jesus “seems to be saying that the whole of Scripture… finds its focus and fulfillment both in the life and death and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah, and in the mission to the nations, which flows out from that event… he was setting their hermeneutical orientation and agenda. The proper way for disciples of the crucified and risen Jesus to read their Scriptures, is messianically and missionally” (30).

Here’s the point- it is fundamentally inaccurate to attempt to find a biblical basis for mission.  Let that sink in for a bit…!  Instead, it is more appropriate to speak of a missiological basis for the Bible.  “The whole Bible itself is a missional phenomenon” (22).  The Bible is a product of the mission of God and thus guides and empowers his people to their participation in his mission.  Mission is what the Bible is all about.  This perspective brings clarity and richness to its story.  For me, re-reading the Bible in light of the missional hermeneutic has been fun and enlightening.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vision for MBB Discipleship

Don Little says, “Part of the reason for our poor success in discipling BMBs [Believers from Muslim Backgrounds] has been that we have had an inadequate understanding of how discipleship works and what is the objective of discipleship. When our discipleship vision is weak then our practice will also be weak.

So, what is the vision for discipling MBBs?

From Little’s Effective Insider Discipling: Helping Arab World Believers From Muslim Backgrounds Persevere And Thrive In Community, pg. 227:

We endeavour to see believers from Muslim backgrounds (1) living in loving mutual submission within believing church groups that (2) experience together the transforming grace of God through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. (3) They live their lives together in submission to the scriptures and in obedience to their Lord, (4) developing individual and corporate routines that fortify their faith (5) so that their worldviews are transformed in ways faithful to the reality of the great biblical story of creation, fall and redemption. (6) Further, they live out their faith in obedience to Christ in ways suitable to their culture and society. (7) Growing increasingly into Christ-like holiness together, (8) they compassionately serve and (9) reach out with the gospel to people in their families, social networks, communities and beyond, bringing Glory to God (10) as they grow and multiply.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Different Views Concerning Relationships and Money

Financial issues are the most difficult thing I have experienced in discipling MBBs.  I found the table below to be very helpful.  I wish I would have seen this a couple years ago.

From the new Perspectives edition (2009), page 483, by Joseph Cumming:

Muslim and Western views on money can be very different.  These observations apply not only in Muslim cultures, but in many places of the non-Western world.



All true friendships involve a financial element. The healthiest, happiest friendships are those where money does not change hands.
The way to refuse giving should not be by saying, “No.” The refusal must be indirect, so there is no embarrassment to the one asking. It is appropriate to be truthful and say, “No.”
Rules should be honored, but to show mercy is more important because of the high value of maintaining good relationships. Rules are rules. Period.
When you request and receive financial assistance or help with a job or strings pulled with government bureaucracy, this places certain obligations on you.  You must become a loyal supporter of your patron. A supporter only within ethical and moral boundaries.
If a needed person receives gifts for a particular need, and then an even more pressing need arises, then it is legitimate to use those gifts for a the more pressing need. This is morally wrong unless explicitly authorized by the donor.

From an article by Joseph Cumming of Yale University, inspired by David Maranz’s book African Friends and Money Matters.  Cumming has lived 15 years in a Muslim country.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Two Parallel Errors

  1. Asking Muslims to become “Christians”
  2. Telling Muslims who want to follow Jesus to remain “in Islam/as Muslims”

Why do these two errors commit the same fallacy?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Dirty Little Secret of Missions

“The dirty little secret of missions is that we are sending missionaries all over the world who have not demonstrated the ability to make disciples who can make disciples.”

-Rick Wood, A Discipleship Revolution: The Key To Discipling All Peoples

YWAM’s CP Website


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Missions is About the Worship of Jesus

From Of First Importance:

Missions is about the worship of Jesus. The goal of missions is the global worship of Jesus by his redeemed people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. The outcome of missions is all peoples delighting to praise Jesus. And the motivation for missions is the enjoyment that his people have in him. Missions aims at, brings about, and is fueled by the worship of Jesus.

— David Mathis
"Missions: the Worship of Jesus and the Joy of All Peoples" in Don't Call It a Comeback
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 225

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When God’s Kingdom Grows Like Yeast

In the July-August 2010 issue of Mission Frontiers “Setting the Pace” is an article called When God’s Kingdom Grows Like Yeast: Frequently-Asked-Questions About Jesus Movements Within Muslim Communities by John Travis and Dudley Woodberry.

From the intro:

In Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:20 Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to yeast, a substance that transforms from the inside out. In the days surrounding His death and resurrection, Jesus instructed His followers to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom to all peoples of the world. Today numbers of Muslims have accepted this good news, allowing the yeast of the Kingdom to transform their lives and their families, while remaining a part of their own Muslim communities. Since there is a variety of perspectives on this phenomenon, even among the Islamic Studies faculty where we teach, we here seek to address some frequently-asked questions about it.

  The article answers the following questions:

  1. What are some examples of this type of movement to Jesus within Muslim communities?
  2. If Muslims confess Jesus as Savior and Lord, why would they not simply want to join the Christian religion?
  3. Why is the phenomenon of Jesus movements within Muslim communities only being observed in recent years?
  4. It is an interesting idea that the Kingdom could move like yeast within a person’s original religious community. However, are there not risks associated with Jesus movements remaining inside such communities?
  5. How do movements remain faithful to Jesus and the Bible when Islam contains teachings that are not compatible with biblical revelation?
  6. By not calling oneself a Christian, could not this be viewed as a form of denying Christ, the very thing Jesus warned of in Mark 8:38 and in Matthew 10:32-33?
  7. What does it mean to retain an official, social and/or cultural Muslim identity?
  8. Are Jesus movements within Muslim communities the only type of movement among Muslims today?
  9. What is the C1-C6 spectrum?
  10. How do these movements start?
  11. Scripture teaches that in Christ we are “one body” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Even though Jesus-following Muslims do not join traditional Christian churches or denominations, do they see themselves as part of the Body of Christ?
  12. Fellowship and commitment in a local expression of the Body of Christ is central to life in Christ. Do Muslim followers of Jesus gather together, or are they simply individuals who have believed in Jesus?
  13. Some have said that Jesus movements within Islam exist so that Muslims can avoid persecution and suffering for their faith in Christ. Is this true?
  14. It has been said that some Christians have assumed a Muslim identity in order to relate to and have an audience with Muslims. Does the existence of Jesus movements within Muslim communities suggest that Christians should take on a Muslim identity in order to reach Muslims with the Gospel?
  15. What about the traditional Christian sacraments of baptism and communion? Are these followed in Jesus movements within Muslim communities?
  16. Would Jesus-following Muslims still repeat the confession, “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is God’s Messenger”?
  17. Do Jesus-following Muslims still refer to God as Allah?
  18. How do Muslims who follow Jesus communicate with fellow Muslims about Jesus and the Bible?


Related Posts:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Qur’an Burning and Deadly Protests in Response

Sad news of many dead in Afghanistan after the recent Qur’an burning in the US.  Let’s keep in mind three things as we respond to these senseless acts:

  1. Burning another person’s religious book is mean and childish and wrong.
  2. The Pastor who burned the Qur’an should not be blamed for the killing that followed.  Those who killed are the ones to blame.
  3. Calling those murderers “Muslims” or identifying them with Islam would be the same mistake as calling the Pastor a “Christian.”  Of course he is a “Christian,” but he does not speak for Christianity in the same way those murderers do not speak for Islam.  Certainly Muslims around the world will rightly condemn those killings.

See these related posts, especially American Muslims Make Video to Rebut Militants.