Editors' Note: Christians didn't discover the need for missions in the Muslim world on September 11, 2001. The Middle East is the homeland of our faith, too, the site of many great acts of God's miraculous redemption. Long before the Twin Towers fell in Manhattan that clear fall day, Christians debated why the church has struggled to gain a hearing for the gospel where the call once sounded freely. Yet in the last decade, debate has intensified as we agonized over the depth of many Muslims' hostility toward Christianity. Missionaries and academics have wondered aloud whether the problem extends beyond Western politics, military intervention, and spiritual bondage to the very way we present the gospel. Could our methods be to blame? Could more sophisticated contextualization unlock many more hearts for Christ?
These are the questions we asked experienced pastors and missionaries to answer this week. Whether you're planning to take the gospel overseas yourself or supporting those who do, we hope these articles will help you make wise, informed decisions about this great missionary challenge of our generation.
- Leading Muslims to Jesus: Questions to Consider by L. D. Waterman
- How Islamic Can Christianity Be? by J. T. Smith
- How to Share the Gospel with Muslims by J. T. Smith
- Questions and Biblical Guidelines for Missionaries among Muslim Peoples by Erik Hyatt
One way or another, every church leader who supports missions among Muslims needs to answer this question with regard to contextualization: how far is too far? Missions agencies advocate different approaches, and missionaries often develop new theories and methods in the field, so many churches have studied the issue and developed their own guidelines for strategy and support.
John Piper depends on many experienced missionaries and pastors at Bethlehem Baptist Church who help him discern the related issues: whether new followers of Jesus Christ can stay in the mosque, continue to call themselves Muslims, refer to Jesus as the “Son of God,” and so on. In this interview, he tells me what he appreciates about the impulse behind the Insider Movement and why Westerners struggle to understand the consequences of belief among Muslim-background believers.
Piper also raises an important problem with the Insider Movement not always appreciated by its proponents: the staunch opposition of many Muslim-background believers who have sacrificed so much to follow Christ and reach their friends, family, and neighbors with the gospel.