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.

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