Thursday, December 19, 2013

“Not Doing God a Favor”

Before departing for the ends of the earth, you should settle in your mind and heart that you are not doing God a favor by going to reach the unreached; rather, He is doing you a favor by leading you away from your comfort zone and causing you to be more dependent upon Him.

-Patrick Lai, Tentmaking: The Life and Work of Business as Missions, pg. 139

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Theology, Gospel Missions, and Insider Movements, by Nabeel Jabbour

[UPDATE: Jabbour is not the only writer of the document. See Joel’s comment below.]

Here is a resource that is worth perusing for a while (HT: MH).  230 pages long.


MARCH 20, 2013

By Nabeel Jabbour (See also

Nabeel JabbourAmong his other works are The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross: Insights from an Arab Christian and The Rumbling Volcano: Islamic Fundamentalism in Egypt.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Evaluating Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare

Is “spiritual mapping” biblical? Short answer: no.  Here is a slightly longer answer, from The Changing Face of World Missions (Sidebar 7.2, Kindle 3633):


(Adapted from Moreau 2002b, 265–69; Engelsviken 2001, 59–61)

Perhaps no area in the discussion of spiritual warfare has been more controversial than the practice of engaging territorial spirits put forth in Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW). The following lists provide negative and positive aspects of the approach.


  1. SLSW advocates take Satan and the powers more seriously than has occurred in previous Western mission approaches. The emphasis on prayer is a good corrective to planning and strategizing along the lines of Western management-oriented missiology.
  2. SLSW advocates emphasize that divisiveness weakens prayer. They stress the unity of the church and cooperation over competition in missions.
  3. SLSW advocates focus on the ultimate goal of saving the lost.
  4. Cultures do have evil spiritual dimensions in which various elements work together to trap people and keep them blinded to spiritual realities.
  5. SLSW attempts to discern areas in which churches need to repent, expressing this in corporate ways. This is a positive help in unleashing the power of God.
  6. Advocates see themselves as experimenters, understanding that the approach of SLSW is new. They seem open to dialogue and correction.


  1. A number of SLSW distinctives are not found in the Bible.
  2. An emphasis on discerning the names of demons in order to control them approaches a form of Christian animism or magic.
  3. Prayer was not intended to be a sophisticated spiritual weapon but a means of fellowship, growth, and strength.
  4. Seeking information about the spirit realm as a means of overcoming evil powers does not appear to be necessary (or significant) in the Bible.
  5. The strategy of SLSW may ultimately demean Scripture when it is presented as a key to effective evangelization that is not found in Scripture.
  6. An emphasis on territorial spirits detaches demons from people and thus deemphasizes participation of humans in their rebellion against God.
  7. The ideas of serving notice, evicting, and binding spirits do not have biblical warrant and place too much emphasis on technique and effectiveness, especially when the people themselves continue to invite control by the way they live.


  1. SLSW advocates encourage prayer walks and also praising and worshiping God openly in areas where there has been spiritual opposition to the gospel. Can you think of instances in Scripture when this was done?
  2. Look up Joshua 6; 2 Chronicles 6: 1– 29; and Nehemiah 2: 7– 20. These are Old Testament passages. Do you think their examples apply today? Why? Why not?
  3. Who is really in charge of affairs in this world? How do you reconcile the statements found in Psalm 96: 1– 13 and 1 John 5: 19?


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Loving Muslims & Sharing Jesus DVD, by Love and Medearis

dvd-lovingmuslimsFrom Peace Catalyst:

Loving Muslims and Sharing Jesus is a teaching series led by Carl Medearis and Rick Love.

Over the course of eight speaking sessions, topics ranging from the basic beliefs of Muslims to learning how to effectively share Jesus with Muslims are thoroughly addressed.

Carl Medearis and Rick Love have extensive experience in the Muslim world, and work toward bridging the gap between Muslims and Christians by focusing on Jesus.

1. Don't Forget About Jesus
2. Muslims: The New Samaritans
3. Sharing Your Faith with Muslims
4. Grace and Truth: Toward Christlike Relationships with Muslims
5. Muslims are Taking Over the World
6. All Muslims are Terrorists and They Hate Us...and Other Lies You've Been Told
7. Answering Islam
8. Loving Muslims and Dealing with Terrorists

Includes a study guide for personal or small group study.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Contextualized Prayer Beads

Some Muslims love to use prayer beadsForm and meaning aside for now, I met a colleague at a conference recently who had developed his own contextualized use for them. 


The 21 colors go in order, and below is how he uses them in witness. For more information, you can contact him at storiesfromtheTauratInjil [at the link]

The Names of God (Prayer Beads)

1. الله الخالق God the Creator

Genesis 1: 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Isaiah 40: 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

Story: the story of creation (Genesis 1-2).

Point: Before all things existed, God was. It was He who created the heavens and the earth and mankind.

Bead: Green for creation.

2. الله القدّوس God the Holy One

1 Samuel 6: 20 Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?

Leviticus 19: 2 …I, the Lord your God, am holy.

Habakkuk 1: 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrong.

Story: The story of Adam and Eve and the Fall (Genesis 3);

Point: God is the Holy One who cannot tolerate sin in His presence and had to expel Adam and Eve from paradise;

Bead: White for God’s holiness.

3. الله القضي العادل God the Just Judge

Psalm 7: 11 God is a righteous judge, a God who displays His wrath every day.

Story: The stories of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), and Noah and the flood (Genesis 6-9).

Point: God is a just judge and must punish man’s sin. He is grieved by it and patient with man but His patience is limited.

Bead: Black because of mankind’s sin.

4. الله القدير على كل شيء God Almighty (El Shaddai)

Genesis 17: 1 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.

Story: The story of Abraham (Genesis 12-22)

Point: This is the name by which God revealed Himself to Abraham.

Bead: Cream (no significance).

5. المولى The LORD (Yahweh)

Exodus 20: 2 I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Exodus 34: 6-7 And God passed in front of Moses proclaiming, “I am the Lord . The Lord is the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Story: The story of Moses, the Passover and the Law (Exodus 1-14, 19-20; Leviticus 17: 10-14);

Point: This is the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses and the children of Israel;

Bead: Red for the blood of the Passover Lamb.

6. العليم God the All-Knowing

Psalm 139: 1 O Lord, You have searched me and you know me…

Story: The story of David (1 Samuel 16; 1 Samuel 13:14; Psalm 139);

Point: God the All-knowing is the One who sees and knows the heart;

Bead: Cream (no significance).

7. الله الأزلي God Eternal (the Ancient of Days)

Isaiah 40: 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

Isaiah 46: 10 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God and there is no other... I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please.

Story: The promise of the Messiah;

Point: God Eternal is the One who makes known the end from the beginning. He promised to send a Savior, the Messiah.

Bead: Gold for the Messiah.

8. الله العلي God Most High

Luke 1: 76 And you, my child, will be a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, to give His people a knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.

Story: The story of John the Baptist.

Point: John called people to repentance in order to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

Bead: Cream (no significance).

9. الله الأمين The Faithful God

Deuteronomy 7: 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the Faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Numbers 23: 19 God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?

Story: The birth of Jesus, including His genealogies.

Point: God the Faithful is the One who keeps His covenant and fulfills His promises. Jesus’ birth fulfilled His promises about the Messiah to come. He was a descendant of Abraham and David.

Bead: Gold for the Messiah.

10. قدوس الله The Holy One of God

Mark 1: 24 What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!

1 John 3: 8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

Story: The story of Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3: 21-23), temptation (Luke 4: 1-13) and Him casting out a demon (Mark 1: 21-28).

Point: Jesus overcame Satan’s testing of Him, unlike Adam in paradise. He has authority over Satan and demons.

Bead: Gold for the Messiah.

11. المسيح، شافينا، المحيي The Messiah, Our Healer, the Life-Giver

Luke 4: 18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Story: Jesus’ healings (Luke 5: 12-14; Luke 7: 11-17; Mark 9: 14 – 27; Mark 10: 46-52)

Point: Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One. He has authority over sickness, disease and death.

Bead: Gold for the Messiah.

12. نور العالم The Light of the World

John 8: 12 “I am the Light of the World. He who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Story: Jesus’ teachings.

Bead: Gold for the Messiah.

13. الغفور The One who forgives

Psalm 86: 5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call on you.

Luke 5: 24 But just to show you that the One who became flesh has the authority on earth to forgive sins… Stand up, pick up your mat and go to your house!

Story: The healing of the paralytic (Luke 5: 17-26).

Point: Jesus is the One who has authority on earth to forgive sin.

Bead: Gold for the Messiah.

14. كلمة الله Jesus the Word of God

John 1: 1, 14 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.

John 3: 13 No one has gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven – the One who became flesh.

Story: Nicodemas (John 3).

Point: Jesus is the Word of God who came from God. Being religious like Nicodemas is not good enough to enter Heaven.

Bead: Gold for the Messiah.

15. حمل الفداء The Lamb of Redemption

John 1: 29 The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Luke 22: 19, 20 This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me… This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.

Story: The Last Supper (Luke 22: 7-8, 13-20; Matthew 26: 17-30);

Point: Jesus is the Lamb of Redemption;

Bead: Red for the blood of Jesus.

16. القدوس البار، عبد الله المتألم The Holy and Righteous One, the Suffering Servant

Luke 9: 22 “The One who became flesh must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Acts 3: 14 You refused the Righteous and Holy One and asked that a murderer be released to you.

Story: Jesus’ death on the cross.

Point: Jesus is the Holy and Righteous One who was put to death as an innocent man. In going to the cross, He was the One who submitted Himself completely to God’s will.

Bead: Red for Jesus’ blood.

17. القيامة والحياة Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

John 11: 25 “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

Revelation 1: 18 “… I am the Living One. Behold I was dead but I am now alive forever and ever. And I hold in My hands the keys of death and Hades.”

Story: The story of Jesus rising from the dead

Point: Jesus rose from the dead, conquering Satan and the power of death.

Bead: Gold because of the Messiah.

18. روح الله The Spirit of God

Acts 1: 5 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father has promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Story: The coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16-17, 26; Acts 1: 1-9; Acts 2: 1-47)

Point: The Holy Spirit will be with us forever in place of Jesus. He will empower us and guide us into all truth.

Bead: Orange for the Holy Spirit.

19. مولانا عيسى المسيح Our Lord Jesus Christ

Acts 16: 31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…

Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Story and point: The story of the church (Acts). Because of His death on the cross, Jesus was given the name which is above all names: Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil 2: 5-11). He is the head of the church which is His body (Eph 1: 22-23);

Bead: Gold for the Messiah

20. الله ديان الأرض God the Judge of the earth

Psalm 94:2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve.

Story: The story of the Last Day (2 Peter 3: 7, 10; Rev 20: 11-15)

Point: At the Last Day we will all stand before God. The destiny of those who have rejected God is hell and the lake of fire.

Bead: Black because mankind’s sin.

21. الله الألف والياء ، البداية والنهاية God the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End

Revelation 21: 6 “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To Him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

Story: The story of the Heaven (Acts 1: 9-10; John 6: 40; 14: 1-3; Revelation 21: 1-8, 27; 22: 12-14);

Point: The destiny of those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life is Heaven with God.

Bead: White because the white robes we will wear in heaven.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How are Muslims coming to Christ?

imageThis series, “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” has attempted to synthesize common contours that researchers throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are discovering.  I believe these missiological categories enable us to better understand the phenomenon of conversion (a term I don’t like) for Muslims who have embraced Biblical faith.  This series has been adapted from my article:

Farah, Warrick. 2013. "Emerging Missiological Themes in MBB Conversion Factors." International Journal of Frontier Missiology no. 30 (1):189-196.

After the Introduction, here are the 8 themes:

  1. Conversion is a Contextual Process
  2. The Prominence of the Affective Dimension
  3. The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity
  4. A Patron – Client View of the Gospel
  5. Conversion in Layers of Identity
  6. The Congruence of Cultural Values
  7. The Differing Female Experience
  8. The Beauty of the Written and Resurrected Word

Some concluding remarks on the series, from the article:

The last decade of ministry to Muslims has been very exciting. David Garrison reports that more than 86 percent of all the Muslim movements to Christ in the history of Islam have occurred in the last 12 years (2013). However, the fraction of MBBs around the world in the House of Islam is still very small. It could be that the firstfruits who are embracing Biblical faith are more of the “fringe” people of Muslim societies, and thus the researchable conversion factors may not represent the mass-movements of Muslims into the kingdom that we are all hoping and praying for. Therefore, each of these themes will need continued contextual research for their validity in future Jesus movements among Muslims…


The recent growth of conversion factor studies reflects the exciting fact that Muslims are embracing Biblical faith more so now than any time in history. The broad themes of these factors facilitating conversion have important implications for Kingdom witness that are relevant for diverse settings. The future of conversion research can investigate these themes more closely, as we continue to learn from precious MBBs like Hanaan, Qaasid, and Yehia.

I hope you have found this series helpful! If so, please share this post with your friends and colleagues.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Beauty of the Written and Resurrected Word (Part 8 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

Previous posts in this series: How are Muslims coming to Christ? Introduction, Part 1: Conversion is a Contextual Process, Part 2: The Prominence of the Affective Dimension, Part 3: The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity, Part 4: A Patron – Client View of the Gospel, Part 5: Conversion in Layers of Identity, Part 6: The Congruence of Cultural Values, Part 7: The Differing Female Experience.

Circumpolar is about making sure the glorious Messiah is continually visible before Muslims.  What should our mantra be? Point Muslims to Jesus and the Bible. Point Muslims to Jesus and the Bible. Point Muslims to Jesus and the Bible. This is our final theme of factors that influence Muslims to embrace Biblical faith (from this article):

8. The Beauty of the Written and Resurrected Word

imageThe hearing or study of the gospel in the Bible and a desire for an intimate relationship with God in Christ is central in MBB conversions. MBBs are fascinated by the beauty of Jesus’ personality and the cross. Once I watched the Jesus Film with a Muslim seeker. Afterward, when I asked for his thoughts, he replied, “Well, Jesus is everything.”

Anthony Greenham’s study of Palestinian MBBs found that although conversion is influenced through various means, “the person of Jesus is always central” (2004, 227). Commenting on the centrality of Christ in conversion, Abraham Durán also speaks of attraction to the “beauty of Jesus” as a key evangelistic factor (2006, 274). In John Marie Gaudeul’s study of MBB testimonies, the most prominent factor was attraction to Jesus (1999).

David Maranz studied dozens of conversion experiences of Muslims born in 33 countries and concluded that all but two included references to the importance of the Bible. He concludes, “In most, the role of the Bible or some passages of Scripture were central to conversion. How could it be otherwise?” (2006, 61). Fruitful Practices research similarly notes that “Fruitful teams use a variety of creative means to communicate Scripture… It is their primary means of sharing the gospel” (Adams, Allen, and Fish 2009, 79). James Bultema’s research in Turkey was similar: “The written Word of God surpasses other causes of conversion to Christ” (2010, 28).


The Beauty of the Written and Resurrected Word – Above all else, effective mission among Muslims means pointing them to Jesus and the Bible.

I don’t mean to be overly simplistic, but I do feel the main thrust of mission is sometimes lost among much pontificating (I’m as guilty as anyone). However, we can rejoice that missiological research says we can all rally around this – point Muslims to Jesus and the Bible.

Next: The Conclusion.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Differing Female Experience (Part 7 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

Previous posts in this series: How are Muslims coming to Christ? Introduction, Part 1: Conversion is a Contextual Process, Part 2: The Prominence of the Affective Dimension, Part 3: The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity, Part 4: A Patron – Client View of the Gospel, Part 5: Conversion in Layers of Identity, and Part 6: The Congruence of Cultural Values.

I believe that perhaps the largest unreached people group in the world is Muslim women. It could be possible that 80% of MBBs around the world are male (just a guess).  Most of our outreach/strategy/teaching is geared towards men. This is partly because Muslim women are, by the nature of “Islam,” more inaccessible.  But we need more research on how women are coming to faith.  And we need to be more intentional.  From my view, there are three things to consider in female MBB conversions (from this article):


7. The Differing Female Experience

Unfortunately, most studies on conversion haven’t considered the importance of gender (Gooren 2007, 348). It does appear, however, that there are in fact significant differences. North African women MBBs in Evelyne Reisacher’s research felt that gender related issues in the Muslim world created more barriers to conversion for women than men, but they also felt their faith was more resilient than male MBBs because of the price women paid to follow Jesus (2006, 110-113). Women are more concerned about how their conversion will affect their social relationships, particularly with males in their immediate families. A positive factor influencing conversion was the honor Jesus gave to women. “Women were attracted to Jesus because they were touched by the way he dealt with women in the Gospels” (2006, 113).

Similarly, Miriam Adeney notes that Muslim women come to faith for many of the same reasons as men, but it is the “awareness of Jesus’ affirmation of women” that strongly influences women (2005, 287).[i] Adeney also notes the significance of familial social relationships in conversion. In a study of South Asian Muslim women who were coming to faith, Mary McVicker found that while theology is important, “participation and experience are essential” (2006, 136). Strähler found that female MBBs in Kenya were shaped more by affective elements than were the males (2010, 67).

Thus, female conversions are strongly influenced by an awareness of Jesus’ treatment of women in the gospels, include greater degrees of practical and experiential factors, and are complicated by the role of males in their immediate families. Hanaan’s father, a devout Muslim and loving man, eventually became convinced the Jesus was revealing himself to Hanaan. He gave her the intellectual freedom she felt she needed to investigate further, although he never followed Christ himself. As with other female MBBs, Hanaan’s experience would be dramatically different had her father persecuted her curiosity of Jesus, rather than foster it.


The Differing Female Experience – In ministry to Muslim women, we should:

  1. tell the specific stories of Jesus’ treatment of women in the Gospels,
  2. pray with them and for their needs, and
  3. pay attention to their relationships with males in their families.

One book my wife really likes is A Worldview Approach to Ministry Among Muslim Women.

Next: Part 8, The Beauty of the Written and Resurrected Word.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Congruence of Cultural Values (Part 6 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

Previous posts in this series: How are Muslims coming to Christ? Introduction, Part 1: Conversion is a Contextual Process, Part 2: The Prominence of the Affective Dimension, Part 3: The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity, Part 4: A Patron – Client View of the Gospel, and Part 5: Conversion in Layers of Identity.

Rather than getting bogged down in a debate about contextualization and syncretism, I think Greenlee’s term “The Congruence of Cultural Values”  better fits this sociological theme of factors that influence Muslims to embrace biblical faith (from this article):

6. The Congruence of Cultural Values

imageContinuing with the sociological discussion of conversion, some missiologists argue that a paradigm shift is happening in church planting and evangelism strategies (Gray and Gray 2010a). Previous strategies argued for an aggregate (or “attractional”) model of church planting, where new believers/seekers who do not previously know each other are gathered together in fellowship. In contrast, the social network[i] (or “transformational”) model seeks to implant the gospel into a group of people who have previously formed social relationships, and thus not try to introduce unknown believers to one another. “The ‘church’ meets when the normal social network gathers” (Gray and Gray 2010b, 278).

This idea of spreading the gospel through social networks is very similar the “homogeneous unit principle” (HUP) posited by Donald McGavran, who famously stated that “People like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or class barriers” (1990 [1970], 163). Arguing against this as a strategy for mission, René Padilla declared that the HUP is not only counter to the example of Jesus and the apostles who intentionally worked with an aggregate model, but also fails to take the ministry of reconciliation seriously and has “no biblical foundation” (1982, 29).

However, since research shows that “facilitating the movement of the gospel through natural social networks [contra the aggregate model] seems to be correlated with planting more churches” (Gray et al. 2010, 94), it seems best to think of social network theory as a provisional, temporary strategy until there are more robust forms of church that reach the biblical goal of the so-called “Ephesian moment” (Walls 2002), where people of different caste, race, gender, etc., who have little in common except Jesus are reconciled together in fellowship through him. In any case, a key theme in factors that influence conversion is the congruence of cultural values between the MBB and the values of the witnessing community.[ii]


The Congruence of Cultural Values – Contextualization is not a dirty word. It is inevitable, and we need to work hard at it. But even more so, MBBs need to contextualize as they share the gospel through their social networks. We have much to learn from MBB local theologizing. 

Next: Part 7, The Differing Female Experience.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Conversion in Layers of Identity (Part 5 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

Previous posts in this series: How are Muslims coming to Christ? Introduction, Part 1: Conversion is a Contextual Process, Part 2: The Prominence of the Affective Dimension, Part 3: The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity, and Part 4: A Patron – Client View of the Gospel.

This next theme in MBB conversion factors is probably the most significant missiological breakthrough in the last few years. The question, “Can a someone be a Muslim and a follower of Christ?” is overly-simplistic. We shouldn’t be surprised that this wrong question has led to a polarized (and politicized) debate. There is  better way at look at the issues (from this article):

5. Conversion in Layers of Identity


Rebecca Lewis argues that we should “free people groups from the counter-productive burden of socioreligious conversion and the constraints of affiliation with the term “Christianity” and with various religious institutions and traditions of Christendom” (2007, 76). Georges Houssney disagrees, “You cannot claim to be a follower of Christ and deny being a Christian. This would be dishonest, confusing and not true. To follow Christ is to be a Christian” (2011). This debate concerning socioreligious identity often seems to be more based around semantics and one’s view of “Islam” than actual Biblical exegesis and theology.

Muslims who consider embracing Biblical faith and MBBs themselves often feel torn between the ill-defined, binary categories of “Muslim” and “Christian.” In light of this struggle, the sociological theories of identity put forth by Kathryn Kraft[i], Jens Barnett, and Tim Green in Longing for Community (Greenlee 2013) have the potential to significantly reduce the polarization of views in the current debates. (These theories are summarized in Greenlee’s article in this issue). Identity is far more complex and dynamic than is unfortunately portrayed by many evangelicals on all sides of the issues. Layers of identity abound for people in every culture, and belonging to multiple traditions is a reality in today’s globalized world.

As the research seems to show, identity is multidimensional, the titles “Christian” and “Muslim” mean various things to different audiences, and new MBBs, especially in unreached contexts, inevitably need time and space for their identities to transition. Dissatisfaction with and rejection of “creedal” Islam precedes most MBB conversions, but many of these same MBBs remain in “cultural” Islam.[ii]


Conversion in Layers of Identity – There are two twin errors I see being made in mission praxis when it comes to the identity issue. The first error is to ask Muslims who are considering embracing Biblical faith to identify as “Christians.” The other error is to insist that MBBs continue to call themselves “Muslims.” Both errors over-assume the role of the Kingdom worker in local theologizing. And both errors also point MBBs to socio-religious identity, when we should instead be making sure MBBs are grounded in the Christ of the Bible.

Do you think this helps us move beyond the so-called “insider” debate?

[A side note: I think identity is more complicated than these layers portray. See here, for example – more research is needed...]

Next: Part 6, The Congruence of Cultural Values.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Patron – Client View of the Gospel (Part 4 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

Previous posts in this series: How are Muslims coming to Christ? Introduction, Part 1: Conversion is a Contextual Process, Part 2: The Prominence of the Affective Dimension, and Part 3: The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity.

If the gospel is news about a new relationship, then how we socially understand relationships will inform our view of the gospel.  Do Asian, Arab, and African MBBs view the gospel in a different form than Western Christians? I think we’re beginning to see this emerge in missiological research (from this article):


4. A Patron – Client View of the Gospel

Like Yehia, Hanaan grew up very disillusioned with the hypocritical lifestyles of some fundamentalist Muslims she knew. One night a man in a brilliant white robe holding a staff appeared in her dream and told her that she was correct to doubt Islam. The next morning she described this event to her loving and devout Muslim father, who told her the person from her dream was Isa al Masih. Eagerly she went to the Qur’an and read everything she could about Jesus, who continued to show up in dreams for many years at key moments in her life.

According to her testimony, Hanaan joined herself to Jesus long before she met another Christ follower who studied the Bible with her for the first time. Like Hanaan, MBBs appear to bond themselves to Christ in a patron-client relationship as they initially begin to understand His lordship and even the atonement.

A biblical, missiological view of conversion must take into account the social context of the first century Mediterranean world (Asia and Africa are much closer to this worldview today than is the West). Relationships were conceptualized around the concept of “patronage,” where “they saw their gods as patrons and benefactors and their own conduct as clients” (Crook 2004, 254). “In this hierarchical society, where the status of the person you follow and to whom you give allegiance is very important, the position of Isa becomes the focus of reconsideration” (Edwards 2013, 84). MBBs relate to Christ in ways that are difficult for Westerners to understand, but make sense in their worldview. Yet this understanding of salvation is commonly found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Christ is our ultimate Patron (the Divine Lord), we must be found “in him” and part of the new people of God.


1. A Patron – Client View of the Gospel – There is only one gospel, but it is always expressed in only one of its various forms (Keller 2008 – [this is a foundational article in missiology]). The legal, moral guilt presentation of the gospel, while definitely biblical, has been over-emphasized by Westerners in Muslim lands. Can we begin to use the Patron-Client form…: Through faith, we are joined with the glorious Messiah in his life, death, and resurrection. He gets our loyalty (praise, glory, and honor) and we get his life in us, removing our shame and defilement. Could this be the form of the gospel that is most relevant to Muslims?

There is a lot more to discuss about patronage. For now, use this concept as a hermeneutical key to understand Paul’s talk about being “in Christ.”  See also this helpful, brief video about the patron-client relationship in anthropology (missiology is the intersection of theology and the social sciences):


Next: Part 5, Conversion in Layers of Identity.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

“Bridging the Divide” Website

Bridging the Divide Network

Who are we? We are a diverse network of followers of Jesus, committed to bringing the gospel to the Muslim world and engaging in useful interaction with others of similar desire and commitment, to increase biblical and effective proclamation of and obedience to the gospel.

Most of us have many years of experience in living and working among Muslims, and could be described as “scholar-practitioners.” Though many of us have positions of leadership and influence in a mission agency, church or other organization, we do not represent our various organizations in BtD. We interact as children of our heavenly Father, wrestling together to see His glory made known maximally among the Muslims of the world.

The BtD Network is led by a Facilitation Team, currently consisting of twelve leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds, ministries and convictions.

See the core documents and BtD articles.

The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity (Part 3 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

Previous posts in this series: How are Muslims coming to Christ? Introduction, Part 1: Conversion is a Contextual Process, and Part 2: The Prominence of the Affective Dimension.

Now we look at a missiological theme closely related to the affective dimension of worldview (from this article):

3. The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity

imageAlthough this is clearly related to the affective dimension theme, I believe the compassion and love from Kingdom workers to Muslims is significant enough to warrant inclusion. The godly lifestyle of Christians and the experience of genuine love significantly and positively change Muslims’ attitudes towards Christ and Biblical faith. This is perhaps true in every context, but even more so for Muslims. The lingering effects of the Crusades coupled with the war on terror create the lasting impression that “Christians” are imperialists who wish to destroy Muslims. Kingdom workers simply living lives of integrity and compassion among Muslims have done much to dispel this harmful misconception.

In Dudley Woodberry’s massive global survey of MBB conversions, the lifestyle of Christians was the most important factor facilitating conversion (Woodberry 2006). Like the stories of Qaasid and Yehia, I have not personally found a MBB who did not have a positive interaction with “Christianity” and Christian believers somewhere in the past.


Live and love like Jesus. Enough said.

Next: Part 4, A Patron – Client View of the Gospel.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Prominence of the Affective Dimension (Part 2 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

imageThe previous post examined the contextual and gradual nature of MBB faith journeys. In this post we look at the second theme of factors that influence Muslims to embrace Biblical faith (from here):

2. The Prominence of the Affective Dimension

The affective dimension of worldview is usually more prominent in MBB conversions than the cognitive.[i] It is a subjective experience, often meeting a felt need, and often in the form of the supernatural such as a dream,[ii] a tangible answer to prayer, a miracle, a healing, or an overwhelming feeling of the presence of Jesus. Factors in the affective dimension are more frequent in MBB conversions than those in cognitive/intellectual search for truth. Interest in Christ is sparked by affective experiences, and understanding seems to come later in the process.

Early one-dimensional evangelical models of conversion tended to be overly cognitive (cf. Tippett 1977; Hesselgrave 1990, 617-73). Engel and Søgaard revised the “Engel Scale” to include the affective dimension (Søgaard 2000), noting that conversion is not just about correct beliefs but also about positive feelings and attitudes towards Christ.[iii] The most comprehensive model that describes the process of conversion, especially for Muslims, is found in Reinhold Strähler’s article A Matrix for Measuring Steps in the Process of Conversion (2007) (also in Longing for Community (Greenlee 2013).

Strähler has classified four types of processes involved in conversion for MBBs. Notice that cognitive or belief issues are less prominent at the beginning of the processes for types two, three, and four. The four types are (1) intellectual – cognitive issues are extremely high and the convert studies and compares various religious options; (2) affectional – characterized by personal relationships and emotional elements; (3) mystical – characterized by a passive convert who is “surprised by God,” usually in the form of the supernatural; and (4) solution seeking – asking Jesus for help with spiritual or practical problems (2010, 84-100).

David Fraser suggested that MBBs tend to be less rational or intellectual in their conversion experiences, so that “understanding of the fundamentals of the gospel is an event that comes after they have confronted Christ and decided he is indeed Supreme Lord. All they know at the point of conversion is that Jesus is powerful enough to deal with their problems” (1979).

During his childhood years, Yehia remembers an older American Christian woman who made sure he got to school safely each morning. She later befriended his family and helped out during several times of need. Yehia loved her like a mother. Later in life when he became very disillusioned with Islam while studying to become an Imam, he remembered this Christian woman. Additional positive experiences with Christians led him to investigate the Bible and eventually begin to follow Christ. Like most MBBS, Yehia’s conversion was a long process with many contributing factors in the affective dimension.


1. The Prominence of the Affective Dimension – Without denying the essential need for truth encounters, we need to prayerfully depend on the Holy Spirit to impact the Muslim heart in whatever way our friends need most. Apologetics and rational persuasion have their place, but are not as prominent with Muslim seekers as divine interventions in their lives. Praying for and with Muslims in the name of Jesus seems to be quite impactful.

Additionally, I would like to add Hiebert’s insights:

We need to remember that we are not God’s lawyers in proving the gospel.  We are witnesses to a new life, and the affective dimensions are often what first attracts people to the gospel. In discipling it is hard to convert feelings, partly because our discipling processes focus on cognition.  Feelings are caught, not taught, and in discipling we need to include them more in times of informal fellowship and in personal sharing.  Feelings, like knowledge, are parts, not the whole, in the process of spiritual transformation (312-13).

Next: Part 3, The Silent Witness of Love and Integrity.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Conversion is a Contextual Process (Part 1 in the “How are Muslims coming to Christ?” Series)

imageIn this post we move on from the introduction and consider the first theme of factors that are influencing Muslims to embrace Biblical faith (from this article):

1. Conversion is a Contextual Process

Conversion and regeneration are two sides of the same coin (Stott 2008, 169). While united, the two are easily and often confused. There are three reasons the distinction between regeneration and conversion is necessary: (1) regeneration is God’s act, whereas conversion is man’s response, (2) regeneration is unconscious, whereas conversion is normally conscious, (3) regeneration is an instantaneous and complete work of God, whereas conversion is more a process than an event (168-171).

James Engle notes that although conversion can be regarded as sudden, unconscious, or gradual, gradual conversion is the most common form of conversion for those in unreached, non-Christian areas who come to Christ. Conversion “may climax in what appears to be sudden conversion, but the act of turning or decision is secondary to the process itself” (1990).

The idea that conversion is only an event (i.e., “one-step decisionism” (Conn 1979, 101)) is deeply embedded in the evangelical mind, and is a result of a “punctiliar” emphasis on conversion from the “revivals” in Protestantism during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Smith 2010, 1-20). Although rare, point-in-time conversion experiences are more common in Christian societies than in non-Christian societies where one could have a “revival” experience (Lutz 2007).

The overall experience of Muslims, however, is that conversion is a gradual process that takes place over many years (Haney 2010, 68; Larson 1996a; Teeter 1990, 307-308). Gordon Smith notes that Muslim conversions to Christ “do not tend to rest or pivot on a decision or a particular act of acceptance. Rather, it has been well documented that these conversions are slow and incremental” (2010, 84). Qaasid cannot point to the moment of his conversion, but he knows he is a disciple of the Messiah. Thus, conversion is a process that transpires over months or years. The sometimes apparently sudden decision to “follow Christ” is only one essential step in this process.

Yet the context where conversion happens plays a key role. Two million Muslims in Java converted to Christianity in the 1960s (Willis 1977). Initially, this began as a protest against tribal and village Muslim leaders in the aftermath of a massacre of communists by fellow Muslims; many of the converts had communist family members who had been killed by Muslims. “What had begun as an act of political rebellion…eventually took on a deeper meaning” (Hefner 1993, 117). These converts were further drawn into conversion by an experiential, personal encounter with Christ through prayer and Bible study that “had no precedent in the traditional village religion” (1993, 116).

Furthermore, when these converts professed faith officially, they did so without understanding the fuller consequences of their decision. “Public profession of the faith had inspired an interior rationalization quite unlike anything that would have occurred on a purely individual basis” (Hefner 1993, 120). Eventually the converts came to realize that many of “their local traditions [were] incompatible with their new Christian faith” (1993, 122).

Finally, the “social psychology” of the Javanese context in the 1970s had finally cleared away the perception that Christianity was a foreign (Dutch) religion thus making conversion more possible on a wider scale. The Javanese were, to some extent, “able to establish a free space in which conversion would not immediately result in severe social stigmatization” (1993, 120). In the conversion process, political motivations and social stigmas concerning religious identity are important contextual factors. This Java case study demonstrates the importance of context: genuine conversion does not always begin with spiritual or intellectual motives.

I understand the the phrase “contextual process” might sound awkward. My point is to emphasize two items: 1) that in each place where Muslims come to faith there are going to be unique factors that influence them (we have to get beyond the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all, lazy kind of missiology that says if you just do A + B + C you will be fruitful), and 2) that conversion is a gradual process (this should really challenge you if you believe evangelism = getting people to the “sinner’s prayer”).

So what are the implications for kingdom witness among Muslims?

1.   Conversion is a Contextual Process – Kingdom workers are only one expendable step in the process of conversion. This should promote both humility and anticipation. God is at work long before we “show up,” but He does use us.

Can you think of other implications?  There should be many. How does the Arab Spring fit in? Think of Java above. Please comment and feel free to disagree.  Stay tuned for part 2, “The Prominence of the Affective Dimension.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

“Conversion and Belonging” IJFM issue now available

IJFM<br />                          30_1The new edition of IJFM is now available, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best issues in a while. Read the two page editorial by Brad Gill for an introduction.

The “Naja Case Study” below is an example of an indigenously-led Jesus movement (PLEASE don’t think “insider” or C5) where the Bible is followed, ekklesia are formed, and most believers still identify in some sense as Muslims, but do not hold to foundational Islamic beliefs. They are still thought of as Muslims, but they also identify with the institutional church. This is the case study that we have been waiting for, and more analysis by Naja will be forthcoming. It will be important that additional research is conducted 5-10 years from now. We need more longitudinal studies, as movements and missiological phenomenon are always in dynamic transition. Where will this movement go?

Here is the issue line-up:

From the Editor’s Desk Brad Gill 107k
Living Out an “In
Christ” Identity: Research and Reflections Related to Muslims
Who Have Come to Faith in Jesus Christ
David Greenlee

Emerging Missiological Themes in MBB Conversion Factors

Warrick Farah
Heart Allegiance and Negotiated Identity Eric Adams
A Jesus Movement Among Muslims: Research from Eastern Africa Ben Naja
Power and Pride: A Critical
Contextual Approach to Hui Muslims in China

Enoch Jinsik Kim
Book Reviews
H. L. Richard, Duane Alexander Miller Botero
In Others' Words IJFM Staff   75k

Monday, August 26, 2013

How are Muslims coming to Christ? Introduction

I haven’t been blogging much lately. Part of the reason is because I’ve been busy with a research project that examines MBB conversions in my context.  Recently I met the editor of IJFM (a fellow missiology junkie) at a conference and pitched an article idea to him. The idea is basically taken from a chapter of my in-progress dissertation on the topic.  This thus begins a multi-post series on Circumpolar, “How are Muslims coming to Christ?”

Below is the introduction from my article “Emerging Missiological Themes in MBB
Conversion Factors.”  The series will consist of 8 posts.  Each is a missiological theme of how Muslims are coming to faith in Isa the Messiah.  I want to thank Duane Alexander Miller, David Garrison, and David Greenlee for their helpful insights and counsel on this topic.

You’ll notice that the tone below is dry and wannabe academic.  In this series, however, I’ll try to reflect more personally in the usual blog-voice.  I sincerely hope that you will weigh in on each post with your thoughts. We need to learn from each other: I don’t pretend to be an expert on this topic!

Here is the introduction (you can view the references and footnotes on the article):

Qaasid’s[i] mother often reminded him that it was the Christians who “saved him from death” when he was treated as an infant at a Western-run medical clinic for a life-threatening illness. Growing up in a conservative Muslim society that lacks any indigenous church, Qaasid learned weekly at primary school that Christians were among those who had turned away from God. This deeply troubled Qaasid, “How could people who did such great things for me be so misguided?”

One day Qaasid happened across a Christian radio broadcast in his dialect, and he was hooked. He prayed and asked God for a Bible, but in his heart he believed he would have to travel to a Western country to learn more about Jesus. Surprisingly, not too long after his prayer, he was able to buy a Bible from a boy who, ironically, was selling them on the street near his home! The rarity of this experience twenty years ago in his country (he never saw that boy again), unheard of even today, led Qaasid to believe that God had destined him to become a follower of Christ.

Qaasid eventually met a foreign Kingdom worker living in his country who could answer his many questions. Qaasid’s story doesn’t end there, and he has grown in his faith since then. But as he did with Qaasid, God is indeed using many factors to draw Muslims around the world to faith in the Messiah.

The Growth of MBB Conversion Studies in Evangelical Missiology

David Greenlee was among the first to do major missiological research into Muslim Background Believer (MBB) conversions[ii] (Greenlee 1996).[iii] Since then, many have followed suit and many of their contributions can be found in two very helpful edited books on MBB conversions (Greenlee 2006b, 2013). Today, many others including myself are writing theses and dissertations on conversions in their Islamic contexts. In 2014, David Garrison will be releasing a book in which he asked 1,000 MBBs around the world “What did God use to draw you to faith in the Messiah?”[iv] Research into conversion factors is extremely helpful for missiology, because as the axiom goes, “How we conceive of conversion determines how we do evangelism” (Peace 1999, 286). The “consequences” of conversion, another important aspect of conversion, have also recently been researched by Kathryn Kraft (2012), Duane Miller (2013), Tim Green (2012), and Roy Oksnevad (2012).

However, even though no two conversions are the same, it appears to me that MBBs throughout Asia and Africa tend to follow a similar pattern[v] as they come to Christ. While it is anthropologically messy to compare contexts, it does in fact seem that different contexts are yielding similar results. Do we need more research into MBB conversion factors[vi] (cf. Miller 2012)? Or are we nearing a “saturation” point in conversion factor research, where we are not learning too much from new data?

This article is my attempt to offer a synthesis of the emerging missiological contours in MBB conversions. The various factors that influence Muslims to embrace Christ can be grouped into categories or themes. I believe we may be closer to forming a theory of MBB conversions from the extant literature on the subject. However, these eight themes (which are not ranked in order of prominence) are only preliminary suggestions and will need to be examined in various settings.

Refer to the footnotes in the article itself to see how I biblically define conversion (a term I don’t really like that much). 

Stay tuned for Part 1, “Conversion is a Contextual Process.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Historic Wind is Blowing Through the House of Islam (Mission Frontiers July/Aug 2013)

A really good issue of Mission Frontiers just came out: A Historic Wind is Blowing Through the House of Islam.

The main article is by David Garrison: God is Doing Something Historic.  I’m really looking forward to his forthcoming book: A Wind in the House of Islam (2014).

More than 86 percent of all the Muslim movements to Christ in the 1,381-year history of Islam have occurred in the last 12 years. In centuries past, movements and crusades have been initiated in an effort to bring Muslims the gospel from the western world. But now something is happening within the very communities where Islam is so heavily present. What is God using to bring these people to His kingdom?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sociology 1

If missiology is the integration of theology and the social sciences, then I have to admit that my weakest point is the social sciences (although my theology needs to go much deeper as well! I’m a horrible theologian!).  To address this deficiency, I’m going to try to watch some lectures from Ann Swidler at Cal, teaching Sociology 101.  Here are my rough notes for her Lecture 1:

  • The sociological way of thinking about the world does not come easily to most Americans.  We tend to think in terms of our own individual traits.  American “heroes” are not part of a social institution, they are lone rangers.  So how do Americans think about the power of social forces?
  • Sociology is the systematic study of social life.  Sociology attempts to explain the causes and consequences of social phenomenon.
  • Emile Durkheim in his classical book “Suicide” gives one of the most brilliant demonstrations of the relationship between individual life and social life ever created. What seems like the most individual act a person can commit (suicide) is actually profoundly social in its causes.  Durkheim studied suicide rates between groups.  Protestants (he found) are less like likely to commit suicide than Catholics and Jews, because Protestantism taught people to rely more on their own judgment, their own conscience, their own reading of the Bible.  Protestants were vulnerable to suicide because they were too reliable on their own judgment.  This is egoistic suicide.  If you have to answer the question, what should I live for, and the answer the question is “me!” and you don’t like yourself, then they answer is not much outside of self matters. 
  • On the other side of the question, is anomic suicide which is a loss of rules or regulation.  Catholics and Jews had strong authoritarian communities.  Anomie is the breakdown of social ties, or normlessness.  This tends to exists in periods where there is a rapid social change.  Suicide increased rapidly with modernity (economic advance or depression).  You no longer know what the rules are.  The suicide of frustration.  When you don’t know what the rules are, you are in danger of making a lot more mistakes.  Durkheim says, you don’t live in the “objective” truth, you live in the “social” truth.  [He has a point, although monotheists should always be ontological realists.  All meaning is relational.]  You live in the social world that defines what is an appropriate aspiration.  Social worlds create our limits and regulate our aspirations and tell us when we have done enough.  So anomic suicide happens when others don’t know what their limits are.
  • An institution is a pattern of expected action of individuals or groups enforced by social sanctions (rewards and punishments). Family, education, law, economy, gov’t, etc.  What it means to be a person is anchored in your connection to an institution.  Institution is something that is lasting.  Even a widow is part of the institution of marriage.  Because there are rules and punishments, they tend to help you know what to do with yourself, and they provide a sense of identity.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mission History and Humility

I’ll be attending the Bridging the Divide conference next month (I’m sure I’ll post what I can on that later).  In order to prepare for the dialogue I’ve been thinking a lot about humility.  I think this cartoon (you’ve probably seen this before) puts a lot in perspective rather quickly. (Click on the picture if you can’t read the text.)

Related: Quarrelling and Blog Arguing

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rejoicing Within a Zone of Ambiguity

“When I hear reports of movements of “Muslim followers of Christ” (MFC) who retain their “socio-religious identity,” I find myself rejoicing within a zone of ambiguity.”

- Bartlotti, Leonard N. Seeing “Inside” the Insider Movement: Exploring our Theological Lenses and Presuppositions. 2012.

Now that’s a nice opening line.  The debate has certainly benefited from charitable voices like this which frame the discussion outside of its tired categories.  Add this paper to your list of must-reads and study it as an exercise in humility.  Here is the abstract:

Insider Missiology is actually based on multiple theological presuppositions. Examining the various “strands” of IM assumptions can help us move toward more nuanced understandings and theological engagement. This paper identifies nine “lenses” (“filters,” assumptions, background beliefs) that affect how IM is presented, and critiqued. Where one stands on these constituent theological issues affects how one “sees” Insider Movement(s) and assesses IM missiology. The goal of this paper is to help both proponents and critics of “Insider Movements” recognize that there is a range of defensible positions on these constituent presuppositions, more than a few of which fall on a spectrum of biblical orthodoxy and evangelical faith. This paper attempts to the advance the dialogue on Muslim contextualization by calling for further study, discussion, and research, and encourages evangelicals to affirm evangelical unity, delight in (or at least tolerate) evangelical ambiguity, and create space for evangelical diversity on these issues.

I would also want to make explicit that Traditionalist (including some appearing to be Fundamentalist) missiology is also based on multiple theological/epistemological presuppositions.  At some point we need to switch the focus from Insider and instead examine more closely the assumptions within the Traditionalist position(s). In any case, Bartlotti demonstrates that there are a “range of defensible biblical positions on each issue” (26).  The issues are:

  1. Ecclesiology/Church
  2. Authority (role of the outsider)
  3. Culture
  4. Pneumatology/Holy Spirit
  5. History
  6. Doing Theology
  7. Other Religions
  8. Islam
  9. Conversion-Initiation

Read the 31 page paper for a discussion of each.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Longing for Community: Church, Ummah, or Somewhere in Between? (2013) now available

Update: Longing for Community now available on Kindle.

Longing for CommunityYou can now order Longing for Community: Church, Ummah, or Somewhere in Between? edited by David Greenlee from William Carey Library:

Understanding the strength and unity of the ummah— the worldwide Muslim community—and its role in an individual’s identity is essential in comprehending the struggles that Muslims undergo as they turn to faith in Jesus Christ. It has been a place of security, acceptance, protection, and identity; turning away from it entails great sacrifice. Where, then, will Muslims who choose to follow Jesus find their longing for community fulfilled: ummah, church, or somewhere in between?

Longing for Community compiles the research and reflection of twenty missiologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and linguists—among them Muslims who have become believers in Jesus Christ— presented at the second Coming to Faith Consultation in February 2010. The contributors explore the multiple levels and hybrid nature of social identity, pointing to the need to free our discussions from single- dimensional scales, which are far from adequate to describe the complex nature of conversion and lived-out faith. Beyond the issue of identity, the contributors offer important lessons from mission history, explore liturgy as an appropriate vehicle for teaching, discuss appropriate means of communication, and point to both the need and contextually appropriate possibilities of greater involvement of women in training and ministry.

Earlier this year I reviewed Longing for Community for EMQ and it’ll be in their July 2013 issue.  Here is part of what I said:

… By moving beyond sterile arguments and using real-life case studies, Longing for Community has the potential to significantly reduce the polarization of views concerning the Insider Movement… This is an invaluable resource documenting the “grace of God” (Acts 11:23) among Muslims which proves again that missiological research can be accessible, exciting, and edifying… All who desire to see Muslims transformed in Christ and in community with His people (Eph. 2) should study this game-changing book with their colleagues. We owe David Greenlee a debt of gratitude for his continued efforts in respectfully challenging our various missiological theories of conversion.

Buy the book. (I wish it were available in digital format. Is there a reason it isn’t?)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Contextual Theology-making and ex-Muslim Christians: Abstract

From Duane Alexander Miller:

This is the abstract to my doctoral thesis, Living among the Breakage: Contextual Theology-making and ex-Muslim Christians, which I will be submitting in a few days and defending this summer:


Since the 1960’s there has been a marked increase in the number of known conversions from Islam to Christianity. This thesis asks whether certain of these ex-Muslim Christians engage in the process of theology-making and, if so, it asks what these theologies claim to know about God and humans’ relation to God.

Utilizing the dialectic of contextuality-contextualization of Shoki Coe, and the sociology of theological knowledge of Robert Schreiter, the thesis seeks to answer these questions by the use of two case studies and an examination of some of the texts written by ex-Muslim Christians. Lewis Rambo’s theory of religious conversion and Steven Lukes’ theory of power will be used to clarify the changing dynamics of power which have helped to foster modern contexts wherein an unprecedented number of Muslims are both exposed to the Christian message and, if they choose to do so, able to appropriate it through religious conversion.

The two case studies are of a Christian community which founded a Muslim-background church in the Arabophone world and some Iranian Christian congregations in the USA and UK Diaspora.

Aspects of the contexts of these believers are investigated in some detail, including motives for religious conversion, numbers and locations of the converts, how apostates may be treated by Muslims, changes in migration and communications, and the Christian concept of religious conversion. The concept of inculturation which helps to describe the meeting of a specific community with the Christian message will aid in analyzing the communities and individuals being studied.

The final chapter brings together the various threads which have been raised throughout the thesis and argues that ex-Muslim Christians are engaged in theology-making, that areas of interest to them include theology of the church, salvation and baptism, and that the dominant metaphor in these theologies is a conceptualization of love and power that sees the two divine traits as inseparable from each other; they represent a knowledge about who God is and what he is like, which, in their understanding, is irreconcilable with their former religion, Islam.


To read the present draft (XIII) click HERE.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

“Narrative, Identity, and Discipleship” by Jens Barnett (2009)

Barnett, Jens. (2009), “Narrative, Identity and Discipleship”, in Musafir: A Bulletin of Intercultural Studies, 3:2, Dec 2009, pp3-5. DOWNLOAD

Narrative, Identity, and Discipleship is a brief article which examines our epistemological assumptions of discipleship among MBBs with special reference to socio-religious identity.

I appreciate Barnett’s willingness to grapple with the complexity of conversion and identity for MBBs while avoiding simplistic models and conclusions.

See also: