A "New Evangelism" for the 21st Century
There has been a controversy brewing on a new type of evangelism used in YWAM and a few other missionary organizations. It’s about doing mission work in a completely new way unheard of before, an experimental way, that is supposed to yield results where there were only a few results before.
This article is not written to just be controversial, but to look at a very real issue that can change the church not just Muslims. It is more serious than most will want to admit for true missionary work is at stake. I have made the whole matter as simple as possible, so that even a layman can understand the ramifications of what is now taking place.
The article is broken up into two parts; the first part has excerpts from the YWAM Newsletter report on a new way of evangelizing. After this I have written a general commentary on what this is about and what I see wrong. The 2nd part is my correspondence with someone in YWAM and what follows is a lengthy commentary with details on why I see this as not only Biblical but anti-Biblical.
[YWAM’s article and correspondence is in blue to help distinguish what is being said.]
In the YWAM article reporting on this new method, one particular church planter in Asia related how 50 members of a Muslim family accepted Christ as Savior and formed their own fellowship. Here are some excerpts of what was written in YWAM’s staff newsletter on Muslim conversions.
“They continued a life of following the Islamic requirements, including mosque attendance, fasting and Koranic reading, besides getting together as a fellowship of Muslims who acknowledge Christ as the source of God’s mercy for them.”
“Ibrahim’s increased diligence in doing the sholat. Not long afterwards, they all made a confession of faith together to follow Christ.”
It is described as “They then enter the room, sit on the green carpet, and the leader begins with the adapted Arabic call to prayer.
At the beginning, they have a time of free praying and opportunities for God to speak through others. This is followed by the message, where the message is preached from the Bible placed in its appropriate stand. Following this, they have memorized a couple of confessions in Arabic from the scriptures, including the Lord’s Prayer. Toward the end, they do the sholat Muslim prayer form where they kneel and bow down.
It is mentioned “The closer these national workers are to the target culture, the less likely these new believers will be to extract themselves from their own culture. “
In many ways this newly birthed “culturally relevant church” challenges many things we have presumed are “absolutes” in Christianity. If we were to see this fellowship with our own eyes most would be horrified. Things that are unacceptable for us are acceptable for them. Things that are unacceptable for them are acceptable for us.
“The meeting is a closed one in as much as only believers come. This meeting is still in the developing stage. It may soon include communion on a regular basis. The other meeting is more for evangelism, and includes a Qur’an reading. The reading is discussed together, and as the Qur’an often refers to the Bible, the Bible is opened and discussed. One newer member on our team is particularly gifted in this, and we see that these “reading nights” would naturally form into a fellowship of followers of Christ.
“In Acts 6:7, we read that a large number of priests became obedient in the faith. Did these priests quit, or did they continue in their duties? I think they would have continued, mostly because there was no pressure for them to stop. In Acts 15:5 we read that there were a number of believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees. They remained active as Pharisees while genuine followers of Christ.
“I think the same can be said of every church that was planted. Paul commanded for non-Jews and Jews alike to remain as they were, if following the ways of circumcision to stay there, if some other custom remain there. This way the lines of communication for the gospel always had a bridge to cross to people of similar culture. Of course, some things did have to change in order to avoid syncretism and compromise of faith.
He asks “What about Muslims today? How can followers of Christ be uncompromising in their faith, yet remain formal Muslims? I believe there are certainly a number of cultural practices that need to be dealt with. One of the most difficult is the issue of Mohammed as a prophet. I see this, like the other issues, as a matter of process. Hopefully over the years their view of Mohammed will change, I find that as the believer’s heart changes, he or she places less and less importance on these issues that seem to contradict the gospel.
The article goes on to say, I sometimes wonder, why has the response by the Muslim community been so small toward the gospel? Maybe God sees the cultural practices of Muslims bowing down five times per day, fasting for a complete month during daylight hours, community prayer at a local place of worship and much more as a more relevant cultural shell for the gospel of Christ amongst the Muslim peoples than our traditional, western-influence expressions of faith. Maybe the greatest of all revivals to happen will cause Muslim and Christians to stand side by side in masses around the throne, one common thread uniting all, Christ dying for the sins of all! (full report is found on www.missionfrontiers.org )
It has also been reported on this new evangelism, “Messianic Muslims” who continue to read the Koran, visit the mosque and say their daily prayers but accept Christ as their Savior are the products of the strategy, which is being tried in several countries, according to Youth With a Mission (YWAM), one of the organizations involved. That “YWAM is also adopting the approach in India, where a team is working with a Hindu holy man.” (Foundation, May/June 2000, p. 39) The March 24, 2000, Charisma News Service reported some missionaries are now making converts but are allowing them to “hold on to many of their traditional religious beliefs and practices”, so they will not offend others within their culture.
My initial comments:
The Koran often contradicts the Bible more than agrees. Unless one has the Bible as his authority, things can become very confusing as to what is true and what is not. You can’t accept both; they are contradictory on several core teachings: the person of Christ, the nature of God, the nature of man, the need of salvation, and the means of salvation. The Koran also contradicts numerous Biblical persons and events on where, and how they occurred. So we can see there are very few agreements to be found. Unless one diminishes the core doctrines and reduces Christianity to being a moral equivalent, only then can we find some portion of common ground (which we can then find commonality with other religions as well). But even with a common ground of morals and ethics there are different motivations and different reasons why things are done.
To admit the converts still see Mohammad as a prophet and that it may take years to change proves the seriousness of this. What if Jesus comes before they figure it out? Lets relate this to an example we may all be a familiar with. When we have a Mormon apprehend the gospel and begins learning about the Bible from a real Christian perspective, how long does it take for him to see Joseph Smith for who he is; a false prophet. Many a Christian uses this fact from the start because the religion is based on the prophet. The same is for Islam the religion is based on their prophet that they call the seal of all prophets who supercedes Jesus.
The article states a lot of maybes, with no basis on facts. Certainly Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists who have come to know Christ as their savior and God will be around the throne, but not as Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, but as believers; what we call Christians. They will have abandoned their former religion for Christ and His way. But look at what he is saying, that their worship and religious practices are more relevant than our western expressions of faith. This seems a bit absurd. God accepts no faith unless it is based on His grace through the work of His Son, so it is not which culture is more religious. While he says we should be open to new cultural understandings he puts down the western culture and synthesizes the Muslim culture to Christianity calling it more acceptable. The only cultural shell that would be relevant is Judaism; and the people he gave the oracles of God to, anything else has no connection to the Jewish Messiah .If we were going to turn away from any westernized viewpoint, it would be more prudent to go back to the Jewish viewpoint that Christianity was birthed in, not a religious culture that is antagonistic to Judaic Christian beliefs.
The question we need to ask is: “can we deal with a culture that is not ordained by God in the same manner as Judaism that is?” To call them “Messianic Muslims” really does not help the matter. The Muslim culture is not neutral, it is a religious culture that is very complex and permeates everything a Muslim does. Mohammed who invented it founded it in seventh century in Arabia; 600 years after Christ came.
Well there is much more to all this than meets the eye as the god Allah and Islam becomes grounds of experimenting with a new way to evangelize. Or maybe a better wording would be to synthesize. In a time where Islam is trying to make inroads to the Church and there are Muslim websites saying Allah is Yahweh, who has no son, we had better know the differences and what the truth is on these matters.
Many see this as a time ripe for change in the way missions are conducted. They believe an entire shift in our thinking and our methodology towards missions must occur. In the Emergent Church movement that has influenced many we hear of this “Paradigm Shift.” Leonard Sweet in his books Soul Tsunami and Aquachurch are proposing new concepts in the way we do church because of the nature of our post modern world.
I can agree that the church in its missionary effort needs to be flexible, but bending on certain issues can certainly snap back on us if they are on the core fundamentals of the gospel and its practice. While we do no set aside our efforts to evangelize because of a coming rapture: neither are we to take the position that it cannot come at any time and set aside watching, by thinking we will always be on earth.
The gospel certainly should be made relevant to different cultures, and we should look for new ways if necessary, to communicate it. Having said this we also need to be very careful not to compromise on the message or ones response to the message. The Gospel is centered on God’s saving act to mankind by His only Son’s death on the cross and resurrecting three days later ascending to heaven ruling. But it also carries a response in discipleship; we are to pick up our cross and deny our life to follow him who saved us. This means separation form the world and other religious practices. We do not include a prophet who denies the Christian faith or the book written by him. This should be one of the first priorities taken care of for discipleship, we should not be waiting. Do we need an entire shift in mission work or just small adjustments in it? To radically change the way mission work is done can endanger the very souls they want to reach. Did not the missionaries do well over the last few hundred years with the preaching and explaining of the gospel? Did not the early church turn the world upside down without these new practices now being employed. Of course they did. So who says we have to completely change our course of action!
I should point out a similar concept of evangelizing un-reached people groups had already been tried by others. Don Richardson went to a certain unknown tribe and made a bridge to the people by saying their God had a son called Jesus who died for their sins. However, he did not use it for a God called Allah who says it’s blasphemy to say God has a son. Nor was he dealing with a belief system that was already acquainted with Christianity and was openly hostile to it; attacking the Christian beliefs by saying Christ did not die nor raise from the dead, and that God has not promised the Jews Israel and Christians will go to hell. So this is where any similarity ends.
We do not see Paul use Zeus as the God who had a son name d Jesus to bridge the gaps to the pagans.
Daniel Kikawa in his book, “Perpetuated in Righteousness” also attempted to implement a new method of evangelization to the Hawaiians. Telling the Hawaiians that they were related to Israel and a group was called from the other tribes of Israel that were headed toward the Promise land to go to Hawaii. While I understood his heart for the people of Hawaii, I was also concerned with accurate information and history mixed with false information and deceptive means (knowingly or unknowingly) used to bring about any results.
He said, “It may be the Hawaiian people are descended from these ancient Egyptians” (p.67) That the Menehunes could be the people of Menes who became part of Israel. That the Hebrew and Polynesian people have a common heritage for a time, are in the genealogies of the Polynesian people”(p.72). Even though genealogies go back no further than 400’s or so and it is legally impossible to trace them back further as he presumed with his proof. In his book he traced out their route by a map proposing the possible route of the [proto] Polynesians from Israel in the Exodus or possibly even from Babylon to Hawaii.
He wrote that when they traveled from Polynesia and got to Hawaii they actually worshipped the true God. He proposed the Hawaiian’s also knew God from the gospel in the stars. That the Hawaiian’s once knew the truth worshipped the true God accurately, until foreign Gods were introduced from Tahiti and the priests corrupted the pure worship. Kikawa’s work Perpetuated in Righteousness stated that the Hawaiian’s Kane, Ku and Lono were the one God called IO, who is actually Yahweh. Using similarity of sounds for words he makes huge leaps in logic and stories to try and prove Hawaiian ancestry from Israel.
Disturbed by the concept presented that some of the Hebrews that were going to the Promise land were called to the Pacific I Contacted Dr. Fruchtenbaum on this [who is one of the leading Messianic Jewish scholars on Hebrew history and culture], and sent him the book for him to review. He wrote in response “‘to claim that the Polynesian peoples ‘may have been part of the nation of Israel for a time’ is one of the more horrendous assumptions in the book. There is absolutely no truth to this whatsoever”’ (this is a portion of a 10 page examination of the book).
Our ministry had spent over 50 hours gathering the primary works of the people he cited for his book back in 1994 (some were Mormons and was Mormon publication; Renan proposed Israel came through the Pacific). We found that he gleaned the quotes and changed the writings of what most of the authors really meant. At one personal meeting with him we explained what we had found and he asked for the copies of the primary work (which I was not willing to hand over). I was perplexed; why would anyone ask for his if he himself is quoting them in his book, has he not already done the research?
I had sat down with Kikawa for many hours personally and by phone to discuss these things to which he showed little or no flexibility. I realized that Daniel Kikawa’s book was not a scholarly work, but a book filled with “probably’s” “assumptions” “could be’s” “may be’s” and “unwarranted conclusions.”
Although changes were finally made, some of the more blatant things were missing in Kikawa’s 4th edition (which at least on the surface meant an improvement). It still had the same premise and conclusion. Kikawa was able to make inroads and teach his false history and evangelism to YWAM seminaries, and to churches. John Dawson of YWAM even endorsed his book saying (in his 4th edition), “Daniel Kikawa and the Hawaiian’s are showing us the way”[at the end of his quote].
Why bring this up? Because I see a similarity, the same philosophy of evangelization is being used to Muslims by YWAM, and it is much more concerning because of its implications. (In fact Daniel did teach in YWAM). The ends do not justify the means and although something can seem to yield results (temporarily), it does not mean it is founded in truth. We have become much to pragmatic; to think if we see any kind of result it must mean it is right. One of the results of Kikawa’s book; now there are those who pray to the Hawaiian God Io, claiming he is the God of the Bible.
Being involved in evangelism to the cults and other religions I became concerned over this matter of YWAM and this type evangelism. Joseph Craft who wrote the articles is not his real name, so it would be hard to find the person who began all this without being on the mission field in this area. After discussing it with various people I was advised to write to them. So I wrote to 6 officials in YWAM at mid December 2001.
Here is what I wrote in my inquiry: “The reason I’m writing hoping you can help me with a subject that has come up. I have an important question that we and many people would like answered. We have read about YWAM’s experimentation in evangelism of sending Muslims and Hindus back into their temples and mosques by Joseph Craft, a YWAM church planter in Asia.
Could you please tell us if you endorse this practice, and if it is still being implemented by this person and YWAM? If we do not hear from you in a week or so we would assume that the answer is yes to this. Hope to hear from you.”
Out of the six letters I had written I received only one letter back. Which means the other 5 had no problem with this method or ignored my asking them the question. What followed were at least a half dozen exchanges on this matter. It became frustrating for me to explain to someone who seemed to know little about the intricacies of Islam and much about YWAM, what is wrong with this method, and the ramifications of continuing to practice this on the mission field.
In my last correspondence I asked: “would not the church at large need to hear
about this method if it so successful? I certainly would do so if I felt something
I can agree on some of his points. However, I think seminaries and those involved in cross-cultural evangelism should have reviewed this issue BEFORE it was implemented! It should have been considered more carefully before it was launched it into people’s lives. Since this is a most important issue, lets make this the beginning of a hearing to the body of Christ. Personally, I do not think we can wait until after it has been practiced to try to repair the problems.
Here are some of the responses I received in the letters; his name is not included to respect his privacy. I have condensed the letters and left in only the major subjects that need to be addressed. Some of the words have been changed (but not the intent) and shortened; the content of what was said is left intact.
The article was printed in the International YWAMer, published by YWAM International Communications Network, one of hundreds of YWAM ministries. The major topics covered in the International YWAMer are approved by YWAM’s chairman. I was told the opinions expressed in the articles are the opinions of the authors only, and not the opinions of YWAM as a whole. I was told, that in no way does YWAM officially endorse the experimental approach used by the author the “Muslims for Jesus” article. The article was presented as a way to help all of us in YWAM think more deeply about issues of contextualization.
YWAM does not have this policy nor advocates this approach. Because YWAM is, very large diverse methods in church planting are used, from his view some may be unfairly misunderstood. However I was assured these approaches are all consistent with their statement of faith. He personally didn’t see any contradiction between this work and the YWAM statement of faith. I was given YWAM’s purpose, mission and the gospel that they preach. The truths not only what they believe as YWAM staff, but also are truths they teach to new believers.
He affirmed to me that there is a big difference between compromising the essentials of the gospel and making the gospel relevant to a culture (which I agree with). While I was told in no way does YWAM officially endorse the experimental approach by the author the “Muslims for Jesus” article, in my conversations with him I found he was always defending it as acceptable and Biblical.
I was told the author of our article, and most others using this approach are
not converting Muslims and
What was mentioned is that some YWAM leaders think he is going too far, others support what he is doing and some think he should be allowed to experiment, as long as what he does continues to be based on biblical principles. A study reported in EMQ by researchers that do surveys on beliefs of large groups of this type was cited: they found solid theological understanding and spiritual disciplines. The researchers said that pastors in America would be happy to have such results of a survey of their congregation.
I was told that most Jewish believers in Christ continued to call themselves Jews, and Gentile believers seem to have called themselves Followers of the Way. “Christian” was not a respectful term. Terms with a lot of anti-Christian baggage, such as Pharisee were still allowed to be used. So he has no problem with a believer calling himself or herself a Muslim (“one submitted to God”) or a Hindu (“one from the Indus region”) as long as they are devoted to Jesus and have a correct understanding of the essentials of faith.
He gave some examples of where some false, pre-Christian concepts of God can be corrected. In this case, while Allah, for a Muslim does not have the same character of God as we know Him, as the new believer studies the Word and false beliefs can be corrected and begins to know Allah and walk with Him. They would of course also realize that Jesus is not just a prophet, but is part of that triune Allah.
He pointed out that Indonesia “Allah” is the commonly-used word for God, by both Christians and Muslims. This same principle has been used by missionaries for many years in tribal work, where they continue to use the tribe’s word for the supreme being. That Paul uses this approach in Athens, when he took their concept of the “unknown god” and begins to correct it toward a true concept of God.
I was told Paul in Acts 17 began by affirming what is good in their spirituality. He uses one of their own idols as a stepping stone to them understanding the true God. He uses one of there own poets. This is an example of affirming and transforming what is good in a non-Christian culture.(See Acts 17 article)
The Pharisees believed in Christ, and still continued their legalistic practices, and even tried to impose these legalisms on other believers. But they were allowed to continue to be Pharisees.
In the traditional approach to converting Muslims, almost all the converts are completely rejected by their families and friends and thus have very little opportunity to be a witness. Muslims follow Jesus, they may still want to attend the mosque and read the Koran. As they focus on the Bible and on fellowship with other believers, though, their interest in these practices falls away and the Holy Spirit convicts them of sin. This is actually happening in C5 work, there is a biblical basis for one of the most controversial aspects of C5: the use of labels other than Christian.
He believes there is some similarity between Muslim and Jewish believers in Jesus, and agreed with me that the Jewish background was shaped by God whereas the Muslim background was not, with the exception where he sees that they affirm Judeo/Christian beliefs. That much of the actual practice in the temple after Jesus’ death and resurrection was corrupted and twisted by humans; it wasn’t what God intended at all. Yet, followers of Jesus continued to meet there. Because Paul went through a purification rite when he came to Jerusalem he could be accused of supporting the legalistic elements of the church that wanted to corrupt the gospel? But did this as a way to continue his connection to his Jewish culture, so that he would have an opportunity to be a witness to them. This same reason is used for Muslim converts who continue to go to the Mosque. They don’t agree with most of what goes on there. They aren’t going there to be “fed.”
Paul’s statement of being able to eat food that had been offered to idols, but some would have a problem with this was used for this freedom. Therefore some would be able to continue to attend the Mosque without in any way compromising their faith while some would not. Also, in dealing with this issue, I think it’s important for us in the west to be patient. If the temple had not been destroyed, Jewish followers of Jesus would have continued to meet there. Most would develop messianic Jewish synagogues with Jewish cultural elements retained but their own unique place of worship, or they would be absorbed into mainstream Christianity. I think this same process will happen with Muslim followers of Jesus, and will happen much quicker, there is so much less in the Muslim religious background for the believer in Jesus to embrace.
My answers to the "New Evangelism"
When I first wrote back I shared how I did not understand how they could say that they don’t promote this evangelism, but it’s acceptable for one to learn from it. When I pressed questions on this, it was continually defended as Biblical, at the same time I was told its not policy nor condoned. The fact is: to do or say nothing about this practice is in fact to support it. If something is allowed long enough it often becomes policy in a church or organization. The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to correct it. So I think the body of Christ needs to know about this and decide for them-selves by hearing another side. My hope is that it will bring further examination on these methods and the outcome of this new way to evangelize.
I do not expect any new Muslim convert to be like Paul the apostle who went right back into the synagogue (or Mosque) and preach Jesus is the Son of God and polarize himself. However, we should expect more from people who are converted and discipled to still be reading the Qu’ran and going to the mosque and bowing to Mecca with others like they did before. To have them bow in an Islamic service when the Mullah is calling out Allah is not true religious behavior for a believer. The shalot is a prayer they do 5 times a day, bowing down facing Mecca. A Muslim is to recite the Shahada (which means witness) while praying; this contains 5 articles of their faith. The first confession is Belief in Allah as the one true God and Mohammad is his prophet. If this is done in their service in the Mosque or at any other time how can any real Christian take part in this? You can only justify this if you say Allah is Yahweh, and change him to be the God of the Bible. Which is what I was told in my correspondence is being done. When a believer becomes a new creature in Christ he is commanded to separate from the unfruitful works of darkness and expose it, not tolerate it, and certainly not join in with it. It does not matter if one is part of the culture; they are to at least separate themselves from worshipping with others and not partake of practices that are against their faith. A Muslim would certainly do this with another religion, why not Muslim converts to Christianity?
Allowing them to continue to read the Koran and “walk with Allah” who now lo and behold has a son, is in my opinion stepping over the line on core teachings, way over (this is after they converted). When a Muslim prays in the mosque they confess that there is only one God whose name is Allah and his prophet is Mohammad. Islam adheres to a what is called Tawid, which means a strict literal oneness of God that needs to be abandoned as well. God is uni-plural, he is three in one, as the One God. To rationalize this I was told that Allah is now triune.
How can someone not have any problem with a believer calling himself or herself a Muslim (“one submitted to God”) and be a Christian. Can a Christian now call himself a Muslim? The word Muslim is made up of two words, Islam and Mu. Muslim does not just mean submission; it means submission to the God Allah; not the Lord Jesus Christ or Yahweh. Can a Muslim be called a Christian and walk with Allah? This seems to make no doctrinal or practical sense, unless they change the names and the meaning. This only brings confusion. Why do this when you can introduce Yahweh as the true God without any baggage and shuffling around in names, nature or descriptions? The answer is that you may not see the same results. This is what this is all about isn’t it, results; pragmatism, the end justifies the means.
The example of converts in Indonesia, whose God “Allah” now supposedly view Him as a God of grace, the triune God, the God who is revealed in the Bible. There are Bibles in Malaysia in Malay or Indonesian language that have the name Allah for God. But because of ignorance or a mistake does not change the facts, nor should we give it extra mileage. Allah is not Yahweh in any respect. We can find differences on every doctrine spoken of in the Bible, so can we truly say Allah is Yahweh?
The question that everyone needs to ask: “Is this compromising on the essentials of the gospel or making the gospel more relevant to a culture?” I believe this is compromising on the gospel because it demotes the person of Christ and makes the central figure of the Gospel unclear. I was told that false beliefs can be corrected and they will know Allah and walk with Him. They will of course also realize that Jesus is not just a prophet, but is part of that triune Allah. Hold on, time out. Who did they call on to be saved if they did not know who Jesus is in the first place? One of the obstacles to overcome today in our evangelism is our not presenting Christ as Lord. In the Jewish culture when they called him Lord they knew what was meant by this, today we often do not. It meant He was Yahweh, God in the flesh.
Isar al rasul means, “how the prophet did things”, this is another practice that needs to be abandoned by converts. Most people do not know that Muslims do not get the majority of their teaching from the Qu’ran, but from the Hadiths. If they still accept their prophet as an example, can they be Christians who follow Christ? Conversion often begins before a decision and salvation. We see that when people converted in the Bible they severed ties with the books they read and the people they worshipped with (Acts 19). While I agree that some people may need more room and time in their transition, but do we want to make this wide a standard for everyone?
Can they leave the mosque and tell their fellow brethren in their culture about Jesus without their culture? They risk their life to do so. This is the very reason this compromising concept is implemented. The community (umma) puts you out if you become a Christian (or anything else). They see this as shirk, the most grievous of sin, one of apostasy. This is the very reason this compromising concept is implemented. But are we looking for quality or quantity. Did not the Jews in the early church lose everything and yet the church continued to grow tremendously.
The question I submit that needs to be answered is “is this Biblical?” Can we find biblical precedent for this action? If so, why is this example not found in the Scripture? Did Jesus or the apostles send or allow the people back to Diana temples allowing them to worship Jesus in their cultural ways. There is no New Testament example of this kind of “evangelism.” Imagine believers saying we are going to gather in the temple of Diana to worship Yahweh with the other worshippers. This is absolutely wrong according to the Bible, and there is no way one can justify this practice. This is can be dangerous to a newborn’s faith. It does not help them in their growth but introduces compromise in their fragile state. Is any worldwide missionary organization willing to take this kind of risk?
Are we now to understand that we could bow with others in another religious service as long as we are worshipping our God and not theirs? Would the Old or New Testament saints have bowed in religious worship, because that’s what people do in the culture? Huza ko vot means to bow down and worship. Some of the Biblical examples we already have and need to consider in comparison. Would Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego have bowed down to the idol of Nebucahdnezzar’s and said in their heart they are worshipping God? This is what they are saying is done in the Mosque. I was told they are not bowing to the God Allah in their place of worship. But bowing during a religious ceremony is worship, (Isn’t this what the Catholics say when they are bowing to the statue, its not worship.) This is the reason the Jews would not bow, and these Muslim converts are bowing down in the mosque with others as the imam leads them all of them in prayer to Allah, not to Jesus.
In Esther 3:2-4 Mordecai would not bow, when asked, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” Mordecai answered he was a Jew. He could have bowed down and avoided persecution. But he remembered what Israel was told in Exod.23:24 “You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.” The principle needs to be applied today -- separate oneself from the former practices, not synthesize them. Israel was not to make mention of the name of other gods much less bow to them (Josh. 23:7-8).
It was Caesar who said if the Christians would bow down to him, they could continue to worship Jesus and live. They refused to bow and were martyred. Certainly they could have saved their lives by saying, “in my heart I’m bowing to Jesus to Yahweh,” but on the outside it only looks like I’m bowing to Caesar, sounds acceptable doesn’t it?
YWAM has adopted much of its cross-cultural evangelism from numerous sources that have brought this kind of tolerance concept into their mission strategies. We are to be called out, not incorporated in; we are to be salt and light. This is the very thing the Bahai’s did; they added Jesus and other prophets and leaders of other religions to their religion and said: they are all successive prophets of the same God worshipped by different names. They have been somewhat successful in drawing in nominal Christians and other religions to their new synthesized belief by presenting Baha’u’llah as the last prophet.
The article and the letter written to me confirmed they are still reading the Koran. This is a book that presents Jesus in a completely different way thereby changing who he actually is. Why are they reading this book? Are they comparing the differences in the religions or are they continuing to use it in their instructions. The more I think on this the more questions come up. I have to ask why? Maybe we are still seeing a process of conversion and they are not saved yet, this is hard to say. If you are saved and you start reading the Bible and have the Spirit of God, it would become increasingly difficult to read the Qu’ran or any other religious book any longer, you are going to be repulsed by its statements on the essentials that you are now being discipled in through the Bible.
There are historical facts that prove before Mohammed founded Islam, Allah was known as: the supreme god of a pantheon of gods. Scholars of history agree the word Allah was derived from al-ilah which had become a generic title for whatever god was considered the highest god. Each Arab tribe used Allah to refer to its own particular high god. Hubal, the Moon god, was the central focus of prayer at the Kabah and people prayed to Hubal using the name Allah. He was also the name of the chief god among the numerous idols (360) in the Kaaba in Mecca before Mohammad. No one used Allah for a monotheistic belief prior to Mohammad.
These are only a few quotes that I sent by scholars to show who they consider who is Allah. “Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs; he was one of the Meccan deities.” Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Gibb, I:406.”Historians like Vaqqidi have said Allah was actually the chief of the 360 gods being worshipped in Arabia at the time Mohammed rose to prominence. Ibn Al-Kalbi gave 27 names of pre-Islamic deities...Interestingly, not many Muslims want to accept that Allah was already being worshipped at the Ka’bain Mecca by Arab pagans before Mohammed came. Some Muslims become angry when they are confronted with this fact. But history is not on their side. Pre-Islamic literature has proved this.” G. J. O. Moshay, Who Is This Allah? (1994), pg. 138.) This is not my opinion, but scholars who know.
His response was that the origin of the name Allah is interesting. He thought the information would be important for church planters in determining whether “Allah” is a concept that could be retained in a culture and re-shaped into a correct concept of “God.” Reshaped! Can we change God to fit our purposes, even if they are for evangelism; is this a good thing?
You can’t change God to be something else just because you want to reach a certain people group. It doesn’t matter who calls him Allah even if it is used in Arabic Bible. Dr. Samuel Schlorff emphasizes a few major points we need to take notice on: according to the Bible God is knowable Allah is unknowable, He is not called father nor does he have a son. Allah is no savior, (referenced from Dr. Samuel Schlorff, ‘Theological and Apologetical Dimensions of Muslim Evangelism,” Westminister Theological Journal, volume 42, number 2, spring 1980)
God is not just any name you put on him especially when the name is of a
different God; the name is not a transliteration, but a completely different
representation from another religion that is against Christianity and denies
Christ. Again there are very few agreements; and they have no correlation to
doctrines of our faith.
There are Muslims who want you to believe Allah is Yahweh and they will water down Christianity faster than you can run if we allow them to integrate this belief. Is YWAM aware that they will use any means to do this.
Did Pharisees believe in Christ, and continue their legalistic practices, and tried imposing these legalisms on other believers, but were allowed to continue to be Pharisees?
The only Pharisees I have read of that tried to impose their legalistic practices are mentioned by Paul in Galatians, and he said they were false brethren.
Acts 15:5: “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
Acts 15:24-25: “Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’-- to whom we gave no such commandment-”Consider what 1 Jn.2:19 says that those who “went out from us” they were false teachers.
The Pharisees that were in charge of Judaism wanted to take control of what was still a new sect of Judaism. The Gospel that freed them from the law was rejected by the Judaizers and they were trying to bring them back into bondage. They snuck in to the counsel meeting in Acts 15 and tried to stack the vote to gain control.
But the apostles saw this as nothing less than the gospel message being at stake. After ruling on this they sent word to the other churches that it was not necessary to submit to the law but to keep certain rules so they do not to offend their Jewish brethren who were transitioning from Judaism. In Acts 15 new gentile believers were to refrain in their liberty so they would not cause any stumbling to the newly saved Jews. There is a difference between causing an undue offense and actually continuing to live, act, worship and believe as the unsaved Jews or Gentiles.
This example being allowed to practice so called similarities really has no correlation to Islam that has no roots in the Bible. In Gal 2:4 Paul explains, that false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage).”
Do we have examples of any Jewish Christian’s in the Bible going back to practice Judaism? Yes, the author of the book of Hebrews calls them apostates, those who shrank back in their faith. They went back to Judaism so that their brethren would not persecute them hoping to return to Christ later. Again we have the Bible making it clear what not to do, and what to do.
Paul did not use this approach in Athens surrounded by idolatry, when he was in Areopagus he took their concept of the “unknown god” to begin to correct them toward a true concept of God. Paul did not affirm what is good in their spirituality, except to say they were “very religious.” He did not correct their idol worship by saying this is the true God of your idol. If the statute had a name would he have said “this name is now your God?” No of course not. Paul did not say the statue was the true God, nor did he say one of the Greek Gods were God. He took a statue dedicated to a God they did not know by using the inscription to the unknown God, He is telling them that they did not know him,
And they were worshipping numerous gods, not one. This God had no name, nor any belief system attached to it, so Paul was able to use him as a bridge presenting the true one, by saying the one that you do not know “Him I proclaim to you.” Paul used the idol as a bridge for them to hear about the true biblical God and many got mad because he spoke of repentance, of their ignorance and the resurrection which none of their gods had. Yes he used one of their own poets, but this had nothing to do with the idols. He was speaking to all the philosophers showing that He is close to them if they would call upon Him.
Paul never allowed them to go back to their temple and worship there. He tells them to repent, change the way you conduct yourselves and turn away from your idols to the true and living God.
What about the Hebrew temple? They were able to worship there because they worshipped the true God, and God found their practices, having the Messiah was completion of true Judaism. However the temple was rendered useless 40 years later. Now imagine if in the first century someone came to you and said they have become a Christian but they still go to the temple Diana and read the oracles of Delphi. And while they are in the temple they worship the true God while everyone else who is gathered is worshipping a false one. And they took the false Gods name and applied it to the true God, and changed everything that the false God did, and called him the true one. What would you think?
I believe this all shows how far away from the Bible this new concept of evangelism being implemented has gone. If you come through Jesus Christ by the Gospel then you have come to the true God. What this new evangelism is saying is that the Muslims Allah is God already, and that they only has to adjust their wrong concepts of their god. But it is not the Muslim who has the wrong concept of the God Allah but the evangelist who does. By telling them they can walk with Allah as if he is Yahweh, and adding a son to him.
What does this compromising in evangelism really do for anyone? They may make it look like the work is productive, but within a few years and we will see what has really happened. Why wait when we can correct this now.
I was told that the researchers said that pastors in America would be happy to have such results of a survey of their congregation. As far as comparing this group to the church and assuring me of their high caliber, finding solid theological understanding and spiritual disciplines. I’m sorry to disagree; most of the church does not have solid theological understanding these days; so I doubt they are of a higher or even equal caliber. Case in point, the new Barna report says that only 22 percent in the church believed in moral absolutes. The fact is YWAM would be less theologically based than the church, as stated on the beliefs of the website that they don’t debate theological issues. I know enough people in the mission to know what goes on from inside. This discussion on messianic Muslims is a case in point: If they had a good theological understanding, they would not be saying any of these falsified concepts. The term messianic Jew is the only valid term to use. Jesus was the Jewish messiah He was not an Ishmaelite. It is here where we see some major differences. Muslim Culture is not equal to Judaism, nor is it similar to Judaism; so the term “messianic Muslims” is an oxymoron (meaning two contradictory terms are brought together in a phrase). It is not the same as someone brought up in Judaism and discovers their Jewish Messiah by their roots. You don’t add Jesus to a completely different religion, nor do you add any different religion to Jesus; this “new evangelization” is doing both. Are we going to soon hear that Hindu’s are walking with Krishna, that he too is God and the three main gods of the millions in the Hindu trinity will now become the tri-unity of God in Christianity? Are we going to have messianic Buddhists too? What’s next when the envelope gets pushed this far
This concept of redeeming the culture is plain nonsense; you can’t redeem cultures that are religiously integrated, having wrong spiritual practices.
In the beginning of our correspondence I was told only a few were applying this method, but throughout our correspondence he defended their position of using it. To worship Jesus in culturally-appropriate ways does not mean one carries over unbiblical elements of a culture to make it more palatable for them. There are some cultures that have no redeeming qualities at all so we should not be looking to incorporate each culture (redeeming the culture) thinking the people may lose their identity if this is not done.
Ecumenical evangelism, Seeker friendly evangelism will not work and will only have us repeat the same history that was done by Constantine, it leavened the church when it became open to the various cultures and beliefs. This needs to be corrected now before it becomes a basis for evangelism, I hope someone is listening to the many who protest, methinks we protest too loud.
As an addendum to this whole matter- while I was preparing this article I happen to receive a letter from someone who said He was a messianic Muslim and explained what he believes. We have had several exchanges, and I have seen him not regard the Scripture as authoritative in any way for his religious practices. What I was told made this whole matter even more serious as he explained there are 10 to possibly 30 million or more who believe as he does. He confirmed much of what I have already explained and more. Though he claims Jesus as his savior, he does not believe that man is born with sin although he admitted he was sinner. He denied there is a son of God, claiming he was only a man, 100% man and 0% God and claiming to worship Jesus is idolatry. He interpreted everything by the Koran and held onto being a Muslim. He believed Jesus died and rose again because of an obscure passage is found in the Koran on this but denied that one needs to follow Christ alone, reducing him to just one of the many prophets.
Is this is what this new evangelism is bringing in? We need to be extra careful when discipling Muslims to Christ and not have any syncretism of Islam with portions of Christianity. Mt. 28:18-29 the great commission tells us to make disciples by teaching them all that Jesus taught. This would actually go against this type of evangelism as the people were taught in a Jewish context what was accepted and what was not.
God accepts no faith unless it is based on His grace through the work of His Son, [who is God], on the cross; anything else is not faith.