Where Do Such Ideas Come From?

Recently there has been a lot of discussion among missions-minded people about something called the “Insider Movement.”  To quote from a great summary article available here,

Fundamentally, Insiders are those who profess faith in Christ but remain members of their original religious communities; Muslims remain Muslims, Hindus remain Hindus, and Buddhists remain Buddhists. In the Muslim world that means they must acknowledge one exclusive God, Allah, and that Mohammed is his final and greatest messenger. They remain members of the mosque, practice the five pillars of Islam, live openly in their cultures as Muslims, participate in Muslim sacrifices and feasts, and identify themselves as Muslims. In many cases, I’m familiar with baptized Christians who are persuaded to re-enter the mosque after renouncing their Christian identities. In the case of Muslim Insiders, most acknowledge four sacred books: the Law, Psalms, “Gospel” (as a book originally given to Jesus, but no longer in existence), and Koran. Of these texts, many assume that since the Koran is the latest, it is still the greatest, though others see both containing God’s Word. Insiders typically claim the Bible as inspiration for their view,  at least part of it.

As we discussed at our noon study today, this view hardly does justice to the Gospel.  The Gospel calls us to forsake our worldly ties and ways and follow Christ alone.  Certainly, we aren’t to leave our family or home, but we are to be identified with Christ and His people, the Church.  After all, the early church, at Pentecost, did this very thing and grew because of  obedience.  There were not to be secret Christians.

So, where do missionaries get this kind of thinking?  I think it begins at home–in the very churches were they grew up.  Yep, here in America we really do the same thing.  Want to become a Christian, but ignore what the Bible says about God specially creating man?  No problem.  The same goes for wanting to be active in homosexuality and still be called a Christian.  Have trouble with gender roles as God created them?  We just issue new translations that are gender neutral.  Want to be a part of God’s Covenant community without actually committing to join the community?  Okay, no membership, no responsibilities, no obligation.  Just come when you want.

The word we translate, “church,” in the Bible is, ecclesia.  While it means a congregation of believers, it literally means, called out.  ‘We have a real ecclesiology problem in the US.  We don’t look like the New Testament Church.  We don’t even look like a Country Club; even they have membership requirements and some rules and obligations.  We are afraid of running people off if we have standards.  Why does the Country Club flourish with standards?  Perhaps it has something worth belonging to.  When we water ourselves down so that everyone will be happy, we have nothing worth belonging to.

Part of our problem is that we see our salvation much more as a personal thing than a corporate one.  We forget that God sees us as a part of the body, not as a solo act.  (See Paul’s lecture to the Corinthians in his first letter, chapter 11.)

The other part of the problem is that we want to grow in numbers at whatever cost.  By the second  or third generation of doing things this way, it seems normal.  So, we presume, since everyone does it, it must be right.

So, when we throw stones at the missionaries who err so obviously, we need to remember the old truth, canonical or not, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!”

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