Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Identity Formation in the NT

Here are some books I want to work through. Does anyone know of attempts to integrate these theological studies with the issues we are facing in missiology?

 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Would you dare to love ISIS?

"Would you dare to love ISIS?"

That is the name of the video below, a deeply Christian response to the hate and evil pouring out of Muslim extremists in the Middle East:



There are a number of reasons to take 4 minutes to watch the video, but thinking missiologically I can think of 3 in particular: 
  • Does Jesus' victory over death truly shape our mission praxis? 
  • What does it mean to "love our enemies" within the current atmosphere of Muslim/Christian conflict?
  • Where does martyrdom fit into our missiology?  
I'll leave it to you to wrestle with these, I know I still am.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Atonement Theology for Muslims?

Missionaries and theologians within the New Testament were determined not to identify a single, correct understanding of the atonement but to find context-specific ways of making the word of the cross accessible and challenging to varied audiences…. The images of the atonement that have surfaced in the history of the church have often taken shape through similar commitments to articulating the significance of the cross in particular settings.

This encourages us to believe that no one model of the atonement will fit all sizes and shapes, all needs and contexts where the church is growing and active in mission. This means, ultimately, that the next chapter of this book is being written in hundreds of places throughout the world, where communities of Jesus' disciples are practicing the craft of theologian-communicator and struggling with fresh and faithful images for broadcasting the mystery of Jesus' salvific death.

-Mark D. Baker & Joel B. Green. Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts (Kindle Locations 2949-2954).

Is this a good start?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Talman Responds to My Response of “Is Muhammad Also Among the Prophets?”

Harley Talman graciously responded to my response of his article. Here are the chain of articles in case you’re interested in following this discussion:

Below is Talman’s response of my response.


Warrick, thanks for your gracious engagement with my study, affirming it while respectfully posing questions, cautions and concerns (which I have put in bold font italics below under the headings of your three major concerns and after which I share my responses):

1. Consistency in our Appraisals of the Emergence of Christianity and Islam

Sound familiar? The Jesus Seminar and Bart Ehrman come to mind….Would these same scholars of the emergence of Islam do the same thing with the same methods when applied to the early Jesus community?

I appreciate the concern for fairness and consistency in raising this question. I’m not aware of efforts by these Islamic historical revisionists to critique Christian history, but yes, one should expect honest, sincere scholars to be consistent in applying their methodologies. However, Christian historiography has already been subjected to such examination and survived—though not entirely unscathed. One example, the Byzantine influence in shaping Christianity in the Western tradition has been shown to also have a dark side. But Christians who are able to embrace this reality are more open to greater diversity of expression in Christian faith as well as putting an even greater reliance upon the scriptures than on our theological traditions.

Many Jesus Seminar scholars are extremely subjective in their judgments of which verses in the gospels were original. Bart Ehrman is an expert in his field of knowledge, but seems quite willing to mislead readers. (Daniel Wallace, biblical textual critic at Dallas Seminary, refers to these two faces of Erhman as “Good Bart” and “Bad Bart”). I acknowledge the need for judicious acceptance of revisionist historians as some of the most radical proposals are not widely accepted. But “their research does discredit the traditional and popular narrative at a number of points” because it is so much of it is based not on subjectivity, but numerous historical documents and material evidence from archeology. To be sure, the Muslims have been largely unwilling to permit such scholarly explorations and they will strongly react to them. I agree with you that “This is a foundational issue that needs a lot of work.”

2. However, it strikes me as a tad ironic that the only way to allow for the “prophethood” of Mohammed is to deny the traditional Muslim understanding of said “prophethood.”

But my proposals likewise challenge the traditional Christian understandings of prophethood as well, do they not? But there is no escaping the need to confront traditional Muslim views of prophethood at some point—for example, the common Islamic belief in the protection of a prophet from mistakes/sin (ma’sum min al-khata’) must be denied (a denial that is in accord with the Quran).

For so many who follow Mohammed, it is either all or nothing. While I think Talman’s theology could have warrant among some types of Muslims/MBBs, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Instead of saying that Mohammed is in some way a prophet, wouldn’t it just be enough to agree that he was a skilled leader and wise politician who also happened to say some true and beautiful things? Do I have to go so far as to say he was a prophet in order to build relationships of trust and have meaningful dialogue? Perhaps this is true with some very traditional Muslims, but certainly not with all (in my experience).

Such a minimal affirmation may be enough in some cases, but as you acknowledge, it is unlikely to get you very far with traditional Muslims (who often represent the majority in Islamic societies). Moreover, most Christians who view Muhammad as a false prophet (i.e. agent of Satan) will have difficulty communicating sincere respect for him; their inner attitude will likely surface eventually—especially in cultures that read non-verbal communication better than Westerners.

But I did not intend to convey (and I do not think I did) that this was a “silver bullet” for evangelism or Muslim-Christian dialogue—but it hopefully is a step forward. To be sure, the possible alternative views of prophethood do not resemble most Islamic views, but they should be viewed considerably more favorably than the “false prophet” view that has prevailed among Christians.

More importantly, I would agree with Martin Accad who observes that my article is of more value to Christians in providing some resources for rethinking their theology of religions and prophethood. This will hopefully have positive effects on their attitudes toward Muhammad, Islam and Muslims.

What are the consequences of Talman’s theology of prophethood with Muslims who are close to Mohammedolatry or the prophetological concept of salvation?

Muhammad veneration is certainly a widespread phenomenon/problem, though even many Muslims reject it. But given the existence of a similar phenomenon of Mariolatry in Christianity, is it not better addressed by showing appropriate respect and honor of Mary, instead of denying her any special honor or esteem (as Protestants tend to do)? You will recall I stated that all the prophets point to Jesus; they are merely signposts to “the Way” (Jn. 14:6). Signs have great value to the traveler, especially when he does not know the road to his the final destination. Prophets likewise are thus respected, but their ultimate value is in their Christocentric function. This of course, requires a worldview change for our Muslim friends.

3. Prophethood as a Spiritual Gift for New Covenant, Regenerate Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ

…Mohammed did not seek to advance the Kingdom of Jesus into the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula by making disciples who were zealous for the transformation of lives and communities!

It would be much easier for us as Christian theologians to make room for Muhammadan prophethood if his mission and message conformed more to that of the NT apostles or prophets, or within our traditional categories, expectations or desires. However, the fact that Muhammad did not launch a church planting movement does not necessarily preclude his having some sort of divine mission. (Cyrus, God’s “anointed”, exemplifies that fact that God anoints people in political realms for his redemptive purposes).

As I mentioned in the article, apart from the dubious Islamic historical sources, our knowledge of Muhammad is quite limited. But I think it probable that his attitude and portrayal of Christ was stronger than is usually granted him by Christians. Christian presence in Arabia was likely much greater than the traditional Islamic narrative presents it. Contemporary scholarship is increasingly viewing the quranic context as having considerable Christian presence and a biblical subtext. There was familiarity with biblical narratives and presence of rival Christian factions who were divided over details of philosophical theology, while neglecting the weightier matters of faith. In this regard, Muhammad’s movement was “extremely zealous for transformation of lives and community”, by promoting righteousness, piety (prayer, charity, fasting), and eschatological exhortation to prepare for the Day of Judgment. But his mission, as I view it, was apparently not an exclusivist approach focused on only one Abrahamic tradition; rather, his more inclusive aims seem closer to those of Jerry Falwell’s hopes for the Moral Majority in restoring biblical values to American society to preserve the nation.

In Muhammad’s case his efforts to promote righteousness was orthopraxic. His message seems to me to have a lot of parallels with James’ epistle which focused on righteous living as the test of true faith with very little mention of Christological doctrine.

Furthermore, we should not minimize his insistence on calling Jesus the Messiah (‘Isa al-Masih) when Arab Jewish tribes submitting to his leadership could scarcely have been ignorant of the significance of this claim. Moreover, he countered their boast they that had killed Christ Jesus and finished with him with the retort that it was God who had killed him and raised him up alive to himself (an-Nisa 4:157,158). So there was an important witness to the exaltation of Christ. At the same time, Muhammad did mark out some parameters that Christian theologizing ought not to exceed.

In my opinion, the Qur’anic Jesus, while wonderful and mysterious, is still irrelevant and anemic, all things considered. As as shrewd politician, was Mohammed simply trying to win over more Christians into his ecumenical political movement?

I would agree with you that if one only reads the Quran and neglects the prior scriptures, his understanding of Christ will be quite “anemic.” But the dozens of verses that affirm the biblical scriptures and the repeated enjoining to believe in and even consult those who read them, indicate that the Quran was supplemental, not a replacement for the biblical testimony to Christ (later Islamic doctrinal developments that run counter to this, notwithstanding).

“Trying to win Christians over” may be asking the wrong question or assuming too much. A number of scholars regard Waraqa ibn Nawful, the Christian priest, as the paramount spiritual influence on Muhammad. Joseph Azzi thinks Waraqa was grooming Muhammad to fill his sandals as the leader of his Jewish Christian sect. Block considers it likely that Khadija was a Christian and that other Christian groups spoke of Muhammad’s movement using the same kind of terms they used of other branches of Christianity (e.g., Monophysites & Nestorians) that had alternative Christological views. Muhammad seemed to view his calling as having a wider scope—to call the Arabs back to the monotheism of their ancestor Abraham (Abdul-Haqq) and even to claim the land promised to his descendants (Sebeos).

Yet I am still nervous about extending the limits of general revelation and prophecy in the manner Talman does, because it seems to me then that practically anyone who says something nice about Jesus and the Bible can be considered a prophet.

I hope you are exaggerating or else referring to the way some other people might use “prophet.” I do not think that I, nor any of the theologians that I cite, espouse such an inconsequential view of prophethood. For example:

Tennent embraces Charles Ledit’s designation of two kinds or prophecy: “theological” and “directive”. The former pointed to, and ceased at, the coming of Christ. Taking a cue from Aquinas, Ledit labeled as “directive prophecy” those instances where God sovereignly enlists persons outside the covenant to accomplish his purposes, such as giving guidance to people or even correcting the covenant people. In this vein, Muhammad united the Arabs and turned them from paganism and idolatry to monotheism and an ordered society, also preparing a potential bridge to the gospel of Christ.

I hope my responses reflect a correct understanding of your questions, but recognize that even where they do, they may not fully satisfy you or others. We are greatly handicapped by our lack of accurate knowledge of Muhammad apart from the historical narrative of Islamic tradition. Thus my proposals are somewhat tentative and await confirmation or correction from the results of future historical and quranic studies. While we may not be able to agree on all of issues that you have raised, I am united with you in the effort to move “towards a more helpful evangelical theology of Islam, and that is reason to keep moving this conversation forward.”

Blessings on you and your blogging,

Harley Talman


One final question ;-), for everyone who has read this far. I want to know if we can simultaneously affirm these two claims:

  1. The traditional Islamic version of Muhammed—as the final Messenger of the One, True God who received direct revelation that supersedes and replaces all previous revelations and whose life should be emulated as the authoritative and salvific model for all people everywhere—it is possible to call this specific version of Muhammed a false prophet on biblical grounds.
  2. The actual Muhammed of history, as an ecumenical political leader with a strong vision of Monotheism, is not a false prophet but a regular guy who had a positive effect on his society (according to the moral norms of his day) and could be seen as one who potentially prepares a bridge to the gospel of Christ.

I know I’m getting into deeper issues of epistemology and ontology here, but, at least to me, it seems me plausible that these two claims might subsist in paradox (but don’t quote me)…

The first image of Muhammed exists epistemologically and leads many Muslims away from faith in Christ. The second image exists ontologically and does not seem to contradict any biblical witness. The two images can be held in tension as long as qur’anic historicity, which is denied in the second image, is not subsequently used to refute the first image (i.e. it is inconsistent to deny the trustworthiness of the Qur’an/Hadith and then use it to defend a version of the Prophet).

For me, this paradox partially explains how people can talk past each other on this issue.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Black and White - - or not?

Thinking in terms of "black and white" is common in Christian mission. After all, people are either saved or lost, Christian or not, right? While this kind of binary thinking obscures reality, particularly when it comes to something as complex as cross-cultural mission.

One of my former Muslim friends likes to say that the first few years after he came to Jesus he did not know what he was. He did not know if he was "Christian" or "Muslim," everything was confusing. He told me, "the only thing I <strong>did know</strong> was that I was clinging to Jesus!"

Many people feel like having everything boiled down to good or bad, right or wrong. It makes them feel safe. Not only that, but it is actually easier to think this way.

Despite the incredible complexity God gave our minds, the physical organ of our brain is basically lazy. Without getting too deep into neurological science, due to the nature of biology, our brain seeks the easiest way to process information because that conserves energy. Thus it is easiest to think in terms of black or white because it is simplest.

But a quick look around your home will remind you that most of us enjoy more than the three primary colors. Because of the beauty it brings into our lives, we have learned to think in terms of nuance and shades.

In the same way, our missiology is greatly enriched when we push beyond our natural tendency of binary thinking. While it takes real work to carefully consider nuance and shades of meaning, the effort is more than made up for by the beauty of seeing God's incredibly rich handiwork woven into a great redemptive tapestry.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Response to “Is Muhammad Also Among the Prophets?” by Talman (IJFM 2014)

IJFM<br />                          31_4I consider this a must read for those who are interested in an evangelical theology of Islam: Is Muhammad Also Among the Prophets? by Harley Talman. 

The article does an admirable job of nuancing the view of Mohammed between the (unfortunate) binary poles of 1. false prophet/evil leader and 2. final authoritative prophet of the One True God whose message supersedes and replaces all previous revelations. [In my experience, I have noted 8 ways that Mohammed has been called a prophet- see this post: Was Mohammed a prophet?]

Talman’s proposal is to allow for a positive prophetic role for Mohammed- claiming that Mohammed was “messenger” of God does not contradict biblical authority or our testimony of the Lordship of Christ. In acknowledging Mohammed as a prophet, Talman enlarges the role that general revelation plays for unbelievers and expands (reclaims?) the understanding of prophethood. Such a view of Mohammed, however, does not declare him to be as great as Moses; what it does is (according to Talman) enhance our potential for dialogue and evangelism among Muslims.

The article was very insightful and greatly enriches our understanding of “The Prophet” of Islam. Martin Accad discusses more the benefits of the article in his response. I’m not aiming for this to be only a critical post, but I don’t want to repeat what has already been said by Accad. In any case, here are some of my hesitations and questions:

1. Consistency in our Appraisals of the Emergence of Christianity and Islam

Like Talman and many others, I have serious doubts concerning the historicity of the traditional Islamic narratives of Mohammed.

Talman presents an image of Mohammed as a leader of an ecumenical movement (IMO with acute political aspirations) who sought to draw different religious sects together as “Believers” under the banner of the God of Abraham. It was Mohammed's followers who, generations later, drew a sharp, pejorative distinction between the new “Muslim” community of Islam and other religions as they began to venerate Mohammed and claim the previous Books were corrupted.

While I think this understanding of the emergence of Islam best matches the historical record, I am mindful of scholars who do the exact same thing with the emergence of Christianity. For instance see this quote from Talman (pg. 171):

Much of what is considered today as representing “orthodox” Islam likely represents an understanding that developed two or three centuries after Muhammad. The most widely accepted version of Muhammad, based upon Islamic tradition, is dubious.

Now, reread that quote and replace “Islam/Islamic” with “Christian” and “Muhammed” with “Jesus” … Sound familiar? The Jesus Seminar and Bart Ehrman come to mind. In light of this, I think our development of a theology of Islam needs to be robust in it’s critique of the primary sources. Would these same scholars of the emergence of Islam do the same thing with the same methods when applied to the early Jesus community? This is a foundational issue that needs a lot of work.

2. A Missiology of Mohammed and Mohammedolatry

Missiologically, I deeply appreciate what Talman is doing because it actually addresses Mohammed. Too much missiology tries to either ignore or demonize Mohammed; both are neither fair nor realistic. However, it strikes me as a tad ironic that the only way to allow for the “prophethood” of Mohammed is to deny the traditional Muslim understanding of said “prophethood.”

Practically speaking, in building friendships with Muslims, how easy would this conversation go? For so many who follow Mohammed, it is either all or nothing. While I think Talman’s theology could have warrant among some types of Muslims/MBBs, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Instead of saying that Mohammed is in some way a prophet, wouldn’t it just be enough to agree that he was a skilled leader and wise politician who also happened to say some true and beautiful things? Do I have to go so far as to say he was a prophet in order to build relationships of trust and have meaningful dialogue? Perhaps this is true with some very traditional Muslims, but certainly not with all (in my experience).

Another issue to consider is the common practice of Mohammedolatry- where the Prophet is not only revered, but actually worshipped. I believe that there are indeed many Muslims who have formed idolatrous spiritual bonds by actually placing their ultimate faith allegiance in Mohammed’s intercession. In this same edition of IJFM, Pennington (From Prophethood to the Gospel: Talking to Folk Muslims about Jesus) touches on this issue: “the logic of salvation has everything to do with one’s relation to the Prophet Muhammad” (p. 198).

We need to take these spiritual realities seriously. The Bible deals with idolatry in various ways, but what are the consequences of Talman’s theology of prophethood with Muslims who are close to Mohammedolatry or the prophetological concept of salvation?

3. Prophethood as a Spiritual Gift for New Covenant, Regenerate Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ

While Talman starts from general revelation in this discussion (bottom-up?), I would like to start from the perspective of the New Covenant (top-down?).  This is how I think prophets in the kingdom of Jesus operate today, as I have said previously:

Some regenerate, new covenant believers are gifted by the Lord Jesus Christ as prophets (Eph. 4:11). In the New Testament, prophesy is a gift that some believers are given by the Lord Jesus for the edification of the church that will be effective until Christ returns (1 Cor. 12-14). Prophecy in this sense is not authoritative or equal to Scripture (Acts 21:4; 21:10-11; 1 Thess. 5:20-21; 1 Cor. 14:29).  “The essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus” (Rev. 19:10 NLT).  In John’s thought, Jesus is the conquering, crucified lamb, King of kings, Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14), incarnate God-man in the flesh (John 1:1, 14) sent to save people from their sins (John 1:29), usher in the new rule of His kingdom (John 18:36; Rev. 1:6), and raise victoriously over death as the Messiah to commission His disciples to continue His mission of the forgiveness of sins (John 20) and the transformation of lives and communities.

Talman aptly demonstrates how other theologians have argued for a broader understanding of prophethood than I articulated above, so I tread very lightly here. Of course Mohammed operated in a kind of OT, pre-Pentecost type of a setting. But, as we all agree, Mohammed did not seek to advance the Kingdom of Jesus into the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula by making disciples who were zealous for the transformation of lives and communities!

Is it therefor appropriate to compare Mohammed with an OT prophet, even though he lived in the New Covenant “era”? Talman does explain the different types of prophets, but I wish there was a deeper treatment of the New Covenant as it relates to New Testament prophecy in Christ-exalting ministry. What we are left with instead is a kind of lowest common denominator type of reasoning where Mohammed plays a vague and shallow prophetic role.

By contrast, the deeper, Gospel-centered prophetic role of advancing the rule of King Jesus as savior of all peoples is obviously lacking in Mohammed’s career.  In my opinion, the Qur’anic Jesus, while wonderful and mysterious, is still irrelevant and anemic, all things considered. As as shrewd politician, was Mohammed simply trying to win over more Christians into his ecumenical political movement?

While it is definitely true that many Muslims are influenced to embrace biblical faith by the Qur’an, as Talman notes, it is not therefore corollary that MBBs continue to see it as a source of divine authority in their growth in Christ (more on this later). For many MBBs, the Qur’an points to the Bible. All truth is indeed God’s truth, but only the Bible (with the HS) has the power to transform. I’m sure Talman would agree. 

However, sometimes I feel this deeper aspect of New Covenant prophethood can easily become obscured in this complex discussion. But at least this is a discussion that avoids simplistic and binary solutions! Yet I am still nervous about extending the limits of general revelation and prophecy in the manner Talman does, because it seems to me then that practically anyone who says something nice about Jesus and the Bible can be considered a prophet.

So, was Mohammed a prophet? At the least, I think we can say there are other ways to view Mohammed other than as a false prophet- and that is the strength of this article. Despite my reservations, I commend Talman’s article to you as a fine piece of missiology, theology, and scholarship. As Martin Accad shows in his response to Talman, we are moving towards a more helpful evangelical theology of Islam, and that is reason to keep moving this conversation forward.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Beating Back ISIS, by Martin Accad

Accad responds to the Atlantic article I linked to last week in a post titled Beating Back ISIS on the IMES blog. For those who read the Atlantic article, Accad has some analysis that is really insightful. Here are his main points:

  1. It would be far better for everyone if Muslim apologists stopped dissociating ISIS from some supposed ‘true Islam.’
  2. We need to understand ISIS for what it truly is: a deeply religious, fundamentalist, ‘restorative’ ideology, with long and deep roots both in history and in decades of radical preaching in certain types of mosques across the world.
  3. Non-Muslim slanderers of Islam need to stop applying principles to Islam they would not accept being applied to themselves.
  4. Given the particular apocalyptic views of ISIS and its global recruits, which Graeme Wood highlights in his article, I agree with him that a massive ground-attack on ISIS is not the solution.
  5. When Muslim apologists feel that they need to reject ISIS as non-Islamic, they risk obstructing a more fruitful fight against ISIS consisting in drying-up the ideological pools of ISIS recruitment.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What ISIS Really Wants, by Graeme Wood

After I received a forth email empathically encouraging me to read What ISIS Really Wants by Graeme Wood, I decided to invest one hour needed to fully engage it. I was glad I did.

Wood paints the phenomenon of the ISIS narrative within the contemporary Islamic scene, and offers some very insightful commentary while doing so. One short-coming of the article is that he only offered one other competing Islamic hermeneutic, and as far as I know, there are many. Wood unfortunately presupposes that the traditional Muslim understanding of Mohammed is credible, which is problematic in my opinion. Other important voices are here, for instance.

But it is still a great read, as long as we understand that groups like ISIS come and go in Islam, even if ISIS is one of the most impressive. (One one the most helpful sources for helping me understand Islam and its internal conflicts is this summary: Islam is Not a Civilization.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

American Protestant Pastors vs. Americans on “True Islam”

From Ed Stetzer, NEW RESEARCH: How Americans View Islam:

Forty-five percent of 1,000 senior Protestant pastors surveyed say the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, "gives a true indication of what an Islamic society looks like." … The pastors had a much darker view of Islam than Americans at large. In contrast, in the second survey, 27% of Americans say the Islamic State reflects the true nature of Islamic society.

Why do Pastors have a much more negative view of “Islam” than typical Americans? I’ve got my theories, but I’d love to hear yours.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Common Fears

This past fall I had the privilege of visiting the great nation of Russia--not once but twice. One of those trips was focused on challenging and equiping national Christians to reach out to the Muslims in their midst.

(BtW, for those who love statistics, Moscow now has the largest population of Muslims of any city in Europe, 5+ million)

Anyway, I found it interesting that our dear Russian brothers and sisters struggle with their feelings about Muslims pretty much the same way American Christians do. They intellectually know they should love Muslims in the name of Christ, but they still feel afraid since they are different.

Perhaps the simple fact that I am referring to "Russian brothers and sisters" can help us. For many Americans, the words "Russian" and "brother" or "sister" do not naturally go together. Because of geopolitics many Americans cannot see past the few differences to the many commonalities we share.

In a very different sort of way, I hope we can learn to see the commonalities we share with Muslims. While they do not (yet) share our faith, they do share with us deep commonality as people created in the image of God. They are monotheists. They have families and fears. Some of them are proud and pompous as a New York Stock broker, others are as gentle and humble as my granny Ann.

Don't get me wrong, the differences are real, but often the first step in mission is seeing the commonalities we have with people instead of the differences. Differences create a sense of fear, and that often stops us from acting in faith.
  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On Arguing About What “Real” Islam Is…

See this helpful little book: Reaching the Heart and Mind of Muslims by Matthew Stone. Some of the chapters are fun, and some are very basic. Here is a great quote about the point of debating the true nature of Islam (pg. 6-7):

Models are helpful, in the same way that habits are helpful. They both allow us to navigate through new and sometimes confusing situations without always starting at ground zero. Models are like maps where map are pictures, simplified pictures or representations of territory. They are condensed and accessed when we need them. However, maps are not territory. Some maps are good maps and help us steer through geography without too many problems. Some maps aren’t quite so good and end up having us go down paths with dead ends or venturing into dangerous territory. Models can be helpful, but they should never be confused with territory itself. Maps can never give one the feel of the land, its uniqueness, its smells, and its sounds. If we focus exclusively on the map and not the territory, we miss the richness of the land.

Models for reaching Muslims are also maps. They aren’t necessarily bad, but they are not a replacement for experiencing individual Muslims and the richness of their culture, groups, families, and individuality. Models of missions are helpful when viewed in a big brush stroke kind of way, but they are not helpful to the degree that they get in the way by having us focus too much on the model and too little on the uniqueness of the Muslim right in front of us. Too many Christians place their faith in the map and devote too much time arguing with other Christians about why their map is the best map.

This should encourage us to view “Islam” as simply being what people who profess it actually believe and do (Bates and Rassam 2001, 89). Biblically-based ministry in the Islamic world is not about engaging Islam per se, but rather about engaging Muslims. Romans 1:18ff does not refer to systems such as “Islam,” but to humankind. It is people who “suppress the truth by their wickedness” and thus need to be the focus of the gospel (Walls 1996, 66).

So whether or not the Islamic State, Saudi Sunnis, or Hezbollah represent “real” Islam is not a major concern for me. As ministers of the gospel, we start with people in the complexity of their contexts. It’s not our job to define Islam, but to present biblical faith. Yet the complexity of people in their contexts must be embraced without resorting to reductionistic oversimplifications which often lead to the type of decontextualized approaches to Muslim ministry that can be commonplace in evangelical missiology.

Monday, December 15, 2014

BMB Training Site

http://www.bmbtraining.org/:

Why have we created a website devoted to BMB discipleship?  It is because discipling BMBs is an urgent task.  We view discipleship as the task of helping believers grow in the likeness of Christ (Eph 4:15), maturing from new believers into active servants of God who can lead others (2 Tim 2:2).  We can see the urgency of the task from five different angles:

The Biblical Angle.  The biblical mandate is clear: make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20).  If we merely make converts but then provide them with no means of discipleship, we do not obey Christ’s commission fully.

The Pastoral Angle.  New believers are like tender shoots that need care and watering in order for their roots to be anchored firmly in the ground.  This is the pastoral responsibility of mature believers who open their hearts and homes to BMBs.  Without this, disillusioned BMBs may turn away from the Christian community and even from the Christian faith.

The Sociological Angle. When Muslims turn to Christ, they experience a loss of social identity and often face difficult challenges in relating to their former Muslim communities.  Discipleship is the key process by which BMBs can learn how to live in their new Christ-centered identity and represent Christ to their former Muslim communities.

The Educational Angle.  Educational theory has demonstrated three areas in which people mature: the head (cognitive), the hands (behavioral), and the heart (affective).  We need to facilitate Christian growth in these three areas.  So, for example, a new believer should learn not only what Scripture teaches (head), but also put it into practice (hands) and come to love God more through the process (heart).

The Missiological Angle.  The future of missions among Muslim groups depends on the current generation of BMBs being trained in God’s word and sent out to train others.  If discipleship is ignored in one generation of BMBs, the next generation will lack a solid foundation for growth, an attractive Christ-like community and the motivation for spreading gospel witness to neighboring communities.

Discipling BMBs is an urgent task, and we hope this website will provide the tools for the task.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Questioning the Faith in the Cradle of Islam

In conservative Arab Islam, inquiring about problematic issues from religious authorities is not looked upon favorably. However, the Arab Spring and greater access to social media is changing this reality, even in Saudi Arabia. See this interesting piece in Foreign Policy:

Questioning the Faith in the Cradle of Islam

In Saudi Arabia, a new generation is pushing back against the government’s embrace of fundamentalism. But is the kingdom ready for nonbelievers?

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Biblical and Contextual Grid for Understanding Dreams and Visions in the Context of MBB Conversions

From my own research on Arab MBB conversions, about 1/3 of the 50 participants had a dream or vision that they remarked was a factor that facilitated their journeys to faith in Jesus. Tom Doyle says the same thing below, 1/3.  There are actually many other factors that occur more frequently for different MBBs in their coming to faith experience (more on this later), but dreams are happening.

I have blogged on this topic before: Thinking Missiologically About Dreams.

Also, in a previous article I said this (footnote 8):

The influence of dreams in MBB conversions to Christ has been well-documented, with many popular level books being published such as Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? (Doyle 2012). Tom Doyle postulates that “about one out of every three Muslim-background believers has had a dream or vision prior to their salvation experience” (2012, 127), although he does not cite the study he refers to. Dreams may be more spiritually significant for (non-Western) Muslims because their worldview is more attune to the supernatural world than the Western worldview (Musk 1988; cf. K. 2005). Greenlee notes that dreams tend to occur at the introductory stage of the conversion process, not at a later stage of confirmation or validation of the decision to convert (Greenlee 1996, 129). Anthony Greenham found that dreams among Palestinian converts did occur, but were not perceived to be significant factors by the MBBs who had them (2004, 174). It might be possible that MBBs’ dreams may be more significant to Western Christians than they are to MBBs themselves. Nevertheless, dreams are an important psychological and supernatural factor to consider in research. Doyle concludes, “Dreams alone aren’t enough. No one goes to sleep a Muslim and wakes up a Christian. Jesus’ personal appearances are an incredible work, but He still uses godly people to share the gospel that brings salvation” (2012, 241).

Now I want to point you to a helpful resource on the topic (HT: David Greenlee), Dreams and Visions: Muslims' Miraculous Journey to Jesus by Rick Kronk.  He says dreams have the potential for “non-literary personal revelation.” Here is an excerpt where he summarizes “a biblical grid for understanding dreams and visions in the context of conversion” (pgs. 134-35):

  1. “Dream and vision events are the product of the unconscious exercise of physiological faculties that may be used of God to communicate to an individual, even to bring that person to the brink of conversion.
  2. Dream and vision events used of God (of the Old and New Testaments) for spiritual ends do not require previous faith in God nor agreement with biblical truth. Such is the case for the dreams and visions experienced by Abimelech (see Gen. 20:1-18), Nebuchadnezzar (see Dan. 2:1-45, 4:4-37), Pilate’s wife (see Matt. 27:19), and Saul (see Acts 9:1-19).
  3. Dream and vision events use of God for spiritual ends are comprised of directives and symbolic content that are in agreement with the Scriptures.
  4. Dream and vision events intended to bring an individual to faith in Christ do not include complete gospel content. Instead, they motivate the dreamer to consider his spiritual need by heightening his perception of ultimate issues –life, death, judgment, etc. –with regard to Christ, the gospel, and biblical information in general. A review of dream and visions accounts suggest that the greater the previous exposure to Christian religious information, the greater the specificity of the dram or vision event.
  5. Dream and vision events intended to bring an individual to faith in Christ are not direct causes of salvation. Therefore, in order for salvation of an individual to result from a dream or vision experience, a third-party messenger ‘outside’ the dream or vision event must provide the gospel content that the dream or vision experience has suggested.
  6. Dream and vision events used of God for spiritual purposes are non-ordinary means by which God communicates to an individual. That is, dreams and vision events intended to convey spiritual content occur irregularly and without noticeable pattern. The Bible offers no indication that they may be induced, coerced, or otherwise produce by either the dreamer or an enterprising missionary.”

One important observation, so we don’t slip into paganism as we examine dreams, either in Muslims’ lives or even our own lives:

Christians must realize that not all dreams are revelatory, either in actuality or potentially so (92).

Why are dreams seemingly so important for Muslims? Why do Muslims get excited when they have dreams of Mohammed, Jesus, or something other that is spiritually significant? Here is one last quote from the book that is worth chewing on (Kindle 1033ff):

Not only are dreams and visions considered to be vehicles of divine communication, but Mohammad himself noted that though his death would signal the end of Koranic revelation, God would continue to reveal Himself through dreams and visions to the Muslim community. In this way then, dreams and visions have become a successor of sorts to the revealed Koranic message. As such, dream interpretation, for the Muslim, serves as a form of unmediated access to God.10

Following the eventual death of the prophet and the ending of Koranic revelation, dreams and visions grew in importance as means of hearing directly from God. As a result, the science of dream interpretation developed and prompted the compilation of interpretation manuals to assist in decoding the meanings of recurring symbols in the dream and vision events. What is remarkable is to what extent these dream manuals played a role in the religious life of the Muslim in the succeeding centuries following the death of Mohammad—an indication of just how prominent the phenomenon of dreams and visions had become.

Lamoreaux remarks, “…to judge from the number of dream manuals alone, one would have to conclude that the interpretation of dreams was as important to these Muslims as the interpretation of the Koran. Some sixty dream manuals were composed during the first four and a half centuries of the Muslim era. During that same period, very nearly exactly the same number of Koranic commentaries were composed.”11 Clearly, dreams and visions played a central role in Muslim religious life. A historical review of the development of the rise of interpretation manuals and dream experts leads us to conclude that for a Muslim, “…to reject dream interpretation, is to reject the Prophet and his commands. …it is [therefore] incumbent on good Muslims to attend to their dreams and their prophetic significance.”12

[Quotes from Lamoreaux, The Early Muslim Tradition of Dream Interpretation (2002)]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Saying the Shahada

My latest article just came out in Evangelical Missions Quarterly, "Saying the Shahada: Matters of Conscience, Creed, and Communication." Normally EMQ articles are only available to paid subscribers, but they keeping this one open as a teaser for new subscribers. The link below will take you to the article.

www.emqonline.com/article/sample/Saying-the-Shahada%3A-Matters-of-Conscience-Creed-and-Communication


Friday, October 17, 2014

Is Allah God?

Many Christians reject the idea that the term "Allah" could ever possibly refer to the God we love and serve. Although there is linguistic commonality between Allah and the Hebrew word "EL," it is hard for us to imagine anything good associated with the word.
 
And the fact is, American Christians have good reasons for a strong emotional reaction. The news has burned this word into our consciousness on the lips of angry crowds shouting  "Allah Akbar!"
 
But this week I was reminded that we are not the only ones whose feelings are evoked by this ancient Semitic word.
 
During a seminar about reaching Muslims in Russia, a dispute arose about using the word Allah. Some church leaders said they could not believe that any Christian would want to use the term Allah as they spoke to their heavenly father. 
 
Then a brother stood up. He is from a small tribe in the Caucasus mountains who have been Christian for over 800 years. He said, "All my life I have read a Bible that tells me about Allah who created the world. All my life I have prayed to Allah, our father in heaven. When I hear this name I have a warm and safe feeling because this is the One who sent his Son to save us."
 
Perspective is everything. Of course, it would be bizarre for someone in an American church to refer to the father of Jesus as Allah. But can we also see that it would be a sad twist of Christian truth to deny the same word to brothers who have all their lives known Allah as the name for the true and living God? To what word would we have them turn?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Difference Between T4T and DMM

This is an informative 5 minute video from Roy Moran. (HT: Abdu Al-Musloob)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Patron–Client View of the Gospel in “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes”

I have previously blogged on A Patron – Client View of the Gospel as a key way to understand MBB journeys to faith in Christ, and, by implication, how we can share the gospel with Muslims.

Based on some feedback I’ve received from the article, it seems extremely difficult for most Westerners to grasp the concept.  In that respect, I highly recommend Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, which does a fantastic job of explaining culture and interpretation in an enjoyable and edifying way. 

Here are some selected quotes on the concept of patronage as it is found in the New Testament:

Joining words together, though, can be far more significant than merely vocabulary. Some words have special meanings when they are paired with other words. In the New Testament, for example, the word charis means "grace." Pistis means "faith." What we didn't know until recently-what went without being said in Paul's day- was that those two words together described the relationship between a patron and his or her client.

In the Roman world of the New Testament, business was conducted through an elaborate system of patrons and clients.' When we watch the movie The Godfather, we are seeing the modern remains of the ancient Roman patronage system. Like Marlon Brando who played the godfather in the movie, the ancient patron was a wealthy and powerful individual (male or female) who looked after his or her "friends" (clients). The complex world of Roman governmental bureaucracy, the far-reaching tentacles of the banking system (usually temples) and the pervasive and powerful grasp of the trade guilds made it impossible for ordinary craftspeople or farmers to conduct business on their own. They were entirely dependent upon their patrons. Like most unwritten cultural rules, everyone knew what was expected of a patron and a client, even though expectations weren't engraved on a wall. Everyone knew a patron's role was to solve problems for his or her clients, whether it was trouble with the local trade guilds, refinancing a loan or smoothing over tensions with city leaders. When Paul was staying in Thessalonica, it was reasonable to expect Jason to handle the "Paul problem," which he did by asking Paul to leave town (Acts 17).

In that world, an ordinary craftsman or farmer didn't have the social skills or connections or wealth to negotiate with the various powerbrokers of a city. He would seek out an individual, a patron, to help. Marlon Brando captures the sentiment well. The local merchant wants help. The godfather says, "So you want me to do you this favor?" Both sides understand the agreement: the godfather solves the problem, and the merchant now must be loyal to the godfather and be ready to help if he is ever summoned. In the Roman system, likewise, the client couldn't earn the "favor"; the patron showed "kindness" to help. Seneca, a philosopher from Paul's time, said the patron and the client had a relationship, a form of friendship.6 The client was now a "friend" of the patron, but not a peer. The client was expected to reciprocate with loyalty, public praise, readiness to help the patron (as much as he could) and, most importantly, gratitude.' This kind gift had strings attached. (All gifts in antiquity had strings attached.) Seneca called it "a sacred bond."' The recipient of the gift was obligated to reciprocate. Paul introduced Lydia to Christianity (Acts 16). She reciprocated by hosting Paul and his team at her estate.

The language of patronage permeated everyday life. We know well the Christian terms grace and faith, but these were common before Paul used them. They were part of the language of patronage. When the patron gave unmerited gifts of assistance, these were commonly called charis, meaning "grace/gift.."10 The client responded with faithfulness to the patron, called pistis, or "faith."" We see that when Paul explained our new relationship with God, he used something everyone understood: the ancient system of patronage.12 Taken together, this vocabulary-so central to the Christian faith-means something different than the sum of its parts.13 (Kindle Locations 847-866).

Now Paul wasn't opposed to the patronage system; he probably couldn't imagine a world without it (Kindle Location 1802).

Because it was impossible to escape the patronage system, Paul worked within it, even in his explanation of the Christian message of salvation. Patronage had its own vocabulary. Words we usually consider particularly Christian terms-grace and faith-were common parlance before Paul commandeered them. The undeserved gifts of assistance the patron offered were commonly called charis ("grace" and "gift").' The loyalty the client offered the patron in response was called pistis ("faith" and "faithfulness").9 Roman philosophers noted that when one received a god's favor (charis), one should respond with love, joy and hope.10 When Paul sought to explain the Christian's new relationship with God, then, one of the ways he did so was in terms of the ancient system of patronage - something everyone understood. In other words, it went without being said that relationship is the premier and determinative aspect of charis, grace (Kindle Locations 1808-1813).

I believe that relationships today in Africa, the Middle East, and throughout Asia are largely defined by patronage, whereas in the liberal, democratic cultures of North America and Europe, relationships are defined by equality and freedom (except in politics).  If this is even remotely close to reality, how can Westerners use the concept of patronage to share the gospel with Muslims?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Circumpolar Welcomes Gene Daniels to the Blog

Update: Forgot to mention his posts also show up on his blog http://www.genedaniels.org/

I’m really excited that Gene Daniels has decided to join the blog team at Circumpolar.

Gene is a PhD student and a missiologist who leads a team of missiological researchers in the Muslim world.  I have been learning from him for a while now.  Gene is a practitioner with a heart to bless Muslims in Jesus’ name.  He also has a keen eye for missiological fallacies and is able to get to the point of an issue without polarizing the debate or looking for a quick “fix” for the problem.

I’ve really enjoyed his articles and previous posts. Here is a sample of some of his publishing:

Book: Searching for the Indigenous Church: A Missionary Pilgrimage

http://www.issacharinitiative.org/author/gene/

His interview in Christianity Today Worshiping Jesus in the Mosque (I promise he didn’t choose the title!)

“CITO” vs. “Socio-religious Insider” Article in IJFM.

IJFM articles: A "Bazaar" Mission Strategy, Describing Fruitful Practices: Relating to Society

EMQ Articles: Fruitful Practices: Studying How God Is Working in the Muslim World (10/2011), Personal Piety vs. Institutional Aid: A Case for a Return to Alms-giving (10/2008), The Character of Short-term Mission (04/2008), Event-speech as a Form of Missionary Education (01/2008), Mission-Church Relations in Post-Soviet Central Asia: A Field Study(10/2007), Receive or Use (07/2006), Searching for the Indigenous Church: A Missionary Pilgrimage(04/2006), Leadership on the Move: From One Culture to the Next (04/2006), Missionaries, Churches and Home Assignment (04/2005), Decoupling Missionary Advance from Western Culture (10/2009), The Converted Missionary: Becoming a Westerner Who Is Not Western-centric (01/2011), Saying the Shahada: Matters of Conscience, Creed, and Communication (07/2014).

CONTEXTUALIZING CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN MUSLIM CONTEXTS in Global Missiology.

What his video on YouTube: Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches

 

Welcome, Gene!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How do I talk with Muslims?

Whenever I travel and speak to a group of Christians, one of the first questions that comes up is something like this; "How do I talk with Muslims, since they are so against the gospel?"

Aside from the fact that most Muslims have never heard the gospel, so they can hardly be against it, I always answer with two easy to remember points:

1) be an openly religious person. Secular society here in the West has beat us down with the idea that religion is supposed to be a private thing kept to  yourself. That is a lie. I am a deeply religious person, and my faith impacts many of the things I say and do. If you are the same, then be up front about that with your Muslim friends. As it fits the conversation, talk about how you raise your kids and spend your money differently from many in America because of your faith. Don't fall into the trap of thinking religious=hypocrite, your Muslim friends probably don't think that way.

2) pray at the drop of a hat. If we are people who believe God is actually listening, then we probably pray about all kinds of things; sickness, financial problems, our worries, etc. The Muslims you meet have many of the same problems. When they express them to you, simply offer to pray in a very low keyed way. Something like this usually works great, "You know Akhmed, Jesus told his followers to pray in his name. So whenever one of my kids is sick I pray and ask God to heal them. Can I do the same for your little boy?"

You will be quite surprised to find that the vast majority of Muslims will be happy for you to pray for them, right on the spot. What could be better than inviting the living God to intervene in their situation, through the name of Jesus?

You may not be an expert in Islamic culture or be able to explain the nuances of theology. But if you will consistently do the two simple things above, you will surely and gently nudge your Muslim friends toward the gospel. And you can trust the Holy Spirit to handle the rest.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pluralism, Relativism, and Exceptionalism

Here is a nice piece of political theology that is relevant for anyone working in a place where Christians, Muslims, Gay Rights Activists, etc., coexist:

Pluralism does not entail relativism. Living well in a pluralist world does not mean a never-ending openness to any possible claim. Every one of us holds deeply entrenched beliefs that others find unpersuasive, inconsistent, or downright loopy. More pointed, every one of us holds beliefs that others find morally reprehensible. Pluralism does not impose the fiction of assuming that all ideas are equally valid or morally benign. It does mean respecting people, aiming for fair discussion, and allowing for the right to differ about serious matters...

The argument for pluralism and the aspirations of tolerance, humility, and patience are fully consistent with a faithful Christian witness. And in this age, they are also far likelier to resonate than arguments for religious exceptionalism. The claim of religious exceptionalism is that only believers should benefit from special protections, and often at the cost of those who don't share their faith commitments. The claim of pluralism is that all members of society should benefit from its protections.

HT: Tish Warren

Related: 

Friday, August 22, 2014

What do you think about Muhammad?

You cannot get very far into ministry with Muslims before you run face-first into the question of Muhammad. He is one of the most revered figures of human history, he is honored, at times even idolized, by one-fifth of the world's population. Sooner or later you are likely to hear one of your friends ask, "What do you think of our prophet Muhammad, pbuh?"*

So, what should a committed Christian think about Muhammad? Well, I will not even try to answer that question, although I do think we should be as generous as possible since John 3:16 probably applies to him too.

I think the better and more pressing question to ask might be, "What should a committed Christian say about Muhammad to their Muslim friends?"

I realize wadding into this argument is akin to diving into tepid, muddy water, but I think  it worthwhile to at least splash around its edges a bit.

This reminds me, just a little bit, about an incident in the life of another extremely influential figure of world history. If I remember correctly he was being questioned by the national religious authorities about his stand on taxation, and he replied something like, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God."

There are two points in this we should not miss:

1. Jesus did not directly answer their question, and there are times that neither should we.
But most importantly,

2. Jesus talked about God, not Caesar.

Have you ever noticed that if you meet a physician in some social setting they often end up talking the practice of medicine. Same thing with politicians, they tend to talk politics. In other words we talk about what we are about. Jesus spent his time talking about God because that is who he came to reveal.

So, if Jesus is what I am about, then I should be talking about him - not Oprah - in my social engagements. While I do agree that Christians should be well-rounded, knowledgeable people, I still assert that our conversations expose what is in our hearts. But now I digress, back to Muhammad.

Certainly there are times when we need to have something to say about a major world figure such as Muhammad. But for the most part our Muslim friends will feel quite honored if we know anything about their prophet other than the caricatures presented in the nightly news. Some of us may even know quite a bit about his life, but I don't think we need to say very much.

Or I love the way the I heard another missionary put it. When describing a conversation with some Muslim scholars he said, "I am not an expert on Mohammad. If you want to learn about him go talk to the Imam. But I am an expert on the person of Jesus, I can tell  you about him."
And that sounds about right to me.

*PBUH means "peace be upon him," spoken by many devout Muslims in reverence whenever mentioning Muhammad's name.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On the Nature of Christianity and Islam

Wilken, Robert L. 2009. "Christianity Face to Face with Islam." First Things:

“Christianity seems like a rain shower that soaks the earth and then moves on, whereas Islam appears more like a great lake that constantly overflows its banks to inundate new territory.”

Saturday, August 9, 2014

“Discipleship” as Key Sound Bite for Communicating Biblical Mission

As someone who is involved in missions leadership, I understand the challenges facing evangelical sending agencies today in communicating vision, purpose, branding, and management. We all want to be unique, relevant, and Biblical.

I also understand that there are certain trends that rise and fall in the missions scene.  Church planting was all the rage a few years ago. And now it’s movements. Other trends include the rise of the term ‘transformation’ and the emphasis off the church and onto the kingdom.  This is related with holistic or integrated mission and on caring for the poor. Other long-lasting trends include the unreached or least-reached, and the use of metrics to evaluate our effectiveness. Of course every trend and emphasis has a way of highlighting only part of the nature of Biblical mission.

But is there a way for sending agencies to tie all of this together in a way that is not reductionistic?

Maybe. How about “discipleship?”

I’m interested all the talk these days on disciple-making movements. It might just be trend as well, but somehow I think that, as a necessary sound bite used in communication, it comes closer to recapturing the essence of what we’re doing across ALL contexts, more than church planting or integrated development or peace-making or proclamation or compassionate evangelism.

I want to commend Melanie McNeil’s Mission Paradigms: Is Discipleship Important? to you. It’s not an eloquent article (she’s a better writer than I am!), and I don’t agree with everything the says, but she makes a case of discipleship to be a key metaphor to reclaim Biblical mission in our world today (of course, discipleship has to be properly defined!).  From the conclusion:

We have explored the way the task of mission is described today by modern mission agencies, and I have argued that the reductionism of modern missions has resulted in a narrow definition of God’s commission. I have shown that the definitions of the task being used today fail to embrace the whole of God’s vision for the world he created. Whole life discipleship, the radical journey into relationship, and maturity of relationship with God is the core of God making his name known in the nations. God invites us to participate with His mission, and this will require a radical shift in the mission paradigms of today.

I have sought to demonstrate that such a shift opens up paths of radical transformation that impact both lives and communities, but it will come at a cost. The question is whether we in missions, and the Church, are prepared to count the cost and move into new things together with God, and with each other.

The review of methods and vision and mission statements here is not a judgment on any individual agency or strategy. It is a call for all of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ to embrace whole life discipleship and the radical rule of God in our lives and organisations.

Related Post: The Purpose (Vision) and Task (Mission) of Missions