To know the only true God, honor and obey Him, and make Him known.
The People of the Book is taking a unique approach to working with Muslims. We see the value of many principles from both the insider movement and the traditional approach, when they are implemented in a biblical framework. We do not want to extract Muslims from their natural relational networks. We do want to extract them from a theology of works salvation. We want them to come to saving faith in Christ, but stay inside their personal networks to be able to share Christ with family, friends and the rest of the Muslim world. This extension of the Gospel has great potential, especially if it is able to move through the pre-existing local community in a way that conserves a genuine identity within that particular context. We must guard against any form of syncretism (a mixing of beliefs, principles and practices from different religions that results in a compromised message). Both the insider approach and the traditional approach have made important contributions to world missions. We can learn both from their positive examples, as well as from their mistakes. Our foundation and roadmap, however, must always remain the Bible.
In reference to the C1 – C6 spectrum, developed by John Travis, at least two kinds of insider movements can exist:
- a cultural insider (C3 and C4)
- a socio-religious insider (C5)
Both are attempting to remain connected to their local community in some way as an “insider.”
If we desire to have an effective ministry to Muslims, we must, in a sense, become like a Muslim to the Muslim world. The goal is to share the Gospel in a way that it can be understood and embraced by them with all their heart and mind. If we do not spend time with them, living among them, how will they ever see the Gospel being lived out in real life?
John Gilchrist makes the following comments in his book Communicating the Gospel to Muslims:
part B – The Biblical Approach to Muslims
section 3 – Paul’s preaching at Athens and Corinth
“When Christians take a traditional evangelical line of approach, simply setting Jesus forth as the Lord and Saviour of all men, Muslims find security in dismissing the message as simply an exposition of Christian doctrine and belief, and they comfort themselves by resting in the doctrines and tenets of Islam instead. We need to penetrate, we need to challenge the Muslims where they are and stimulate a process of reflection by presenting the Gospel against their own background, against the Muslims’ own views of Jesus and the prophetic history leading up to him.
Not only so but, as we have seen in the example of Paul, we have a clear Biblical sanction for quoting their own scriptures to make our message relevant. Paul did this with telling effect in Athens by quoting Greek poets and it is quite amazing to behold how, by quoting passages from the Qur’an as well as the Bible, a Christian can make the Gospel message thoroughly relevant to a Muslim. I intend to give numerous practical examples later in this book, but let it suffice for the moment to say that we have, here, a clear Biblical authority for this method.”
Mr. Gilchrist adds the following comment in section 4 – Becoming a Muslim to the Muslims:
“What, then, is the Biblical approach to Muslims in the light of this method into which the great apostle allows us to enter? It is simply this – in the same way that he became as a Jew to the Jews, so each of us must become as a Muslim to the Muslims. We must discover the beliefs of the Muslims, their view of prophetic history, their assessment of Jesus Christ, and their overall religious perception of life, and present the Gospel against that background. Samuel Zwemer, one of the most famous missionaries to Muslims, sums this up perfectly in saying: ‘We must become Moslems to the Moslem if we would gain them for Christ. We must do this in the Pauline sense, without compromise, but with self-sacrificing sympathy and unselfish love. The Christian missionary should first of all thoroughly know the religion of the people among whom he labours; ignorance of the Koran, the traditions, the life of Mohammed, the Moslem conception of Christ, social beliefs and prejudices of Mohammedans, which are the result of their religion, – ignorance of these is the chief difficulty in work for Moslems. (Zwemer, The Moslem Christ, p. 183).'”
We believe that it can be very effective to use the Quran as a tool to discuss concepts that are familiar and acceptable to Muslims, and that support Biblical principles. There are some Quranic concepts that are compatible with Biblical principles which can be used effectively as a bridge to interest Muslims in studying the Scriptures.
Should we really dedicate time to studying the Qur’an? James White has made the case for this in his book, What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an. ThePeopleOfTheBook.org enthusiastically recommends this carefully researched book! White makes a good observation concerning why a Follower of Jesus should take the time to become familiar with the teachings of the Qur’an:
“So why read an entire book about the Qur’an’s key teachings as they relate to the Christian faith? For followers of Jesus, the answer is simple: We desire to honor and glorify the One who has given us life, redemption, forgiveness, and peace. Redeemed people want to tell others about the Redeemer. We share this planet with more than a billion Muslims, and we should want to introduce them to our Lord. An accurate knowledge of the Qur’an can help open doors to those conversations. This will provide a foundation of knowledge and insight for communication and understanding.”
Of course, the Holy Bible is the only and complete authority for everything pertaining to doctrine, salvation, and lifestyle. (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:16)
We believe that it is acceptable to use the name Allah, both in the Bible that we use to minister to Muslims, as well as materials that we distribute. It is the translation of the word “God” in Arabic. Joshua Massey has written an excellent summary about this topic. This does not mean that the concept of Allah in the Qur’an is exactly the same as the God of the Bible.
We are not at all ashamed of the phrase “Son of God.” It is a phrase that God Himself has chosen to use in the Bible, and that is good enough for us. We do need to help Muslims understand what it means, but we do not need to change this phrase that the Word of God employs with surprising frequency. Unfortunately, probably many Christians have never sat down to think about what it actually means. Read some of the verses in the Bible related to “Son of God.”
We believe that the concept of “the kingdom of God” is very important regarding any type of mission effort. Read some of the verses related to the kingdom of God that we have listed on our website.
Pray that God raise up Muslim men and women who are committed to sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in an appropriate manner.
To read about the Biblical basis for our unique approach, go to Biblical Rationale,
or to Basic Objections to the Insider Approach