Thursday, September 27, 2012

“Save Maryam” Islamic Campaign

If you haven’t already, you HAVE to watch this video.  It’s amazing.  “Save Maryam” is an Islamic campaign aimed at stopping the trend of “2 million” Muslims in Indonesia who are converting to Christianity each year. Here is the video:

Some quick thoughts…

The misuse of statistics, sensationalism, and prevailing sense of dread reminds me of the Muslim Demographic Video created by Christians that went around a couple years ago.  Why do so many assume fear is the best motivator?

They recognize the contextual use of terms done by Christians.  Is this what Muslims think is effective to reach them?

“We want to preach less and listen more.”  Wow.

Notice how important “knowledge” is in Islam.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Identity Issues for Ex-Muslim Christians, Tim Green

Identity issues for ex-Muslim Christians, with particular reference to marriage, by Tim Green  at St. Francis Magazine.

Here is a very thoughtful critique of the C-Scale, as the hot button issue these days revolves around the issue of identity.  In this respect, the C-Scale is too one-dimensional as it marks a simplistic change of identity between C4 and C5.  But identity issues are really complex, and we need to move beyond the dualistic thinking that has characterized much of the “insider movement” debate (i.e. you’re either a Muslim or a Christian).  [Note: even in 1 Cor. 9, we have Paul arguing that he’s not a Jew, nor Greek, but in a genuine third way, the gospel way.  And Paul didn’t have a Western postmodern individualistic worldview.] 

Green’s theory of the layers of identity: 


Here is how Green frames the stalemate in the debate:

In this paper I have sought to demonstrate that issues of identity for Christ’s followers from Muslim background are too complex to be condensed to a one-dimensional line called the C-spectrum. Reducing options still further to the stark polarity of “C4 vs. C5” or “Insider Movement vs. Historic Position” has led to an impasse which will not and cannot be broken until the model itself is changed.

His conclusions:

- In the realm of core identity, true disciples of Christ will know themselves to be securely and unambiguously rooted in him (whatever terminology they use for that), will seek to prioritize his values over all rival values, and will increasingly demonstrate this in their speech and behaviour;

- In the realm of social identity, most believers will relate to both old and new communities simultaneously even if not equally. To expect them to retain just one social identity, whether Muslim or Christian, is neither realistic nor biblically appropriate;

- In the realm of collective identity, however, dual belonging is not normally possible. Whether they like it or not believers from Muslim background may be forced into one label or the other, “Muslim” or “Christian”, until their numbers grow sufficiently for them to form a new collective identity of their own. They know their own available options and should be given space to try to find a way around the formidable constraints of such issues as identity cards and community labels;

- These considerations of identity, by disentangling previously fused issues and examining them from a new perspective, may perhaps provide a way for proponents and opponents of Insider Movements to step out of their dug-in positions and seek constructive ways forward;

- Crucially, both sides should examine carefully the factors that vary from one Muslim context to another, particularly with respect to the local relationship between Muslim and Christian communities, rather than assuming all situations are alike;

- Ex-Muslim Christians form a stream of growing significance in the world Christian movement and should be allowed to make their contribution to it without being patronised or “owned” by either side.

Read the whole thing.

We need to change the model, change the debate, and make room for “identity transition” in MBB conversion experiences. 

I’ve met too many fellow cross-cultural workers who claim that they’re neither “insider” nor “traditionalists.”  I think a genuine third way has emerged, but hasn’t been labeled yet.  More on that later.

Monday, September 17, 2012

“It’s time for Islamophobic evangelicals to choose”

This is worth reposting in full.  Somebody has to say it!  From Brian McLaren on CNN:

I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.

At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam - beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.

Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow evangelicals and charismatics to prayer and “spiritual warfare” against those alleged evils, and that often - truth be told - contain lots of downright lies.

For example, one recent e-mail claimed “Egyptian Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents." Of course, that claim has been thoroughly debunked, but the sender’s website still (as of Friday) claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing" Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy "naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”

Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio.

Janet Parshall, for example, a popular talk show host on the Moody Radio Network, frequently hosts Walid Shoebat, a Muslim-evangelical convert whose anti-Muslim claims, along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned. John Hagee, a popular televangelist, also hosts Shoebat as an expert on Islam, as does the 700 Club.

Many Christian bookstores that (used to) sell my books, still sell books such as Paul Sperry’s "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington" (Thomas Nelson, 2008). In so doing, they fuel conspiracy theories such as the ones U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, promoted earlier this year.

In recent days, we’ve seen how irresponsible Muslim media outlets used the tawdry 13-minute video created by a tiny handful of fringe Christian extremists to create a disgusting caricature of all Christians - and all Americans - in Muslim minds. But too few Americans realize how frequently American Christian media personalities in the U.S. similarly prejudice their hearers’ minds with mirror-image stereotypes of Muslims.

Meanwhile, many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine, acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our common heritage. I wish that were true.

The events of this past week, if we let them, could mark a turning point - a hitting bottom, if you will - in the complicity of evangelicalism in Islamophobia. If enough evangelicals watch or try to watch the film trailer that has sparked such outrage in the Middle East, they may move beyond the tipping point.

I tried to watch it, but I couldn’t make it halfway to the 13-minute mark. Everything about it was tawdry, pathetic, even pornographic. All but the most fundamentalist believers from my evangelical Christian tribe who watch that video will be appalled and ashamed to be associated with it.

It is hate speech. It is no different from the anti-Semitic garbage that has been all too common in Western Christian history. It is sub-Christian - beneath the dignity of anyone with a functioning moral compass.

Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.

Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?

If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.

Yes, “they” – the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence – have big problems of their own. But the way of Christ requires all who claim to be Christians to examine our own eyes for planks before trying to perform first aid on the eyes of others. We must admit that we have our own tiny minority whose message and methods we have not firmly, unitedly and publicly repudiated and rejected.

To choose the way of Christ is not appeasement. It is not being a “sympathizer.”

The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Facilitator Era: Beyond Pioneer Church Multiplication

This looks like an interesting book: The Facilitator Era: Beyond Pioneer Church Multiplication by Tom Steffen.  One blurb:

“The Facilitator Era marks a quantum leap forward in strategic thinking and practice of mission. With an eye to planting and multiplying churches among every people, Steffen combines a readable narrative with case studies from around the globe. He examines the promise and pitfalls of current developments pointing the way forward with uncommon wisdom. If you don't want to be left behind as the church moves into the next era of global mission, read The Facilitator Era.”
—Craig Ott
Associate Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

You can watch Dr. Steffen give a talk on this book at a recent meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is Released!

Just wanted to share the great news with those of you who haven't heard about the release of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from prison this week.  Thank God for this important step toward the recognition of religious freedom.  Let us continue to pray for those who are still held for their faith in Iran and throughout the world.  And let us pray for the peace of God and the mind of Christ to prevail in Iran during these trying days.

This dear brother had numerous chances to recant his faith to achieve his freedom, but he refused, choosing to die for Christ and never see his wife and children again in this world rather than to deny his Savior.  And now, after repeated death sentences and more than three years behind bars on charges of apostasy, he has been released for time served for the lesser crime of "evangelizing Muslims."  What a testimony!

Related Post: Praying for Iranian Christians