“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:
- Authority (role of the outsider)
- Pneumatology/Holy Spirit
- Doing Theology
- Other Religions
Read the 31 page paper for a discussion of each.