Jennings and Garner On the PCA's Response to Insider Movements

Article by   May 2014
Editors' Note: The Presbyterian Church in America's 42nd General Assembly will address the work of the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM). For access to the SCIM reports of 2014, click here. However, given the global relevance of this question, in the next several weeks ahead of the Assembly, Rev. Nelson Jennings and Rev. David B. Garner will debate the theology and missiology of Insider Movements. We begin the series with two articles by Nelson Jennings and two articles by David Garner.

NELSON JENNINGS: 

Below are my thoughts about the PCA's three-year handling of the matter of so-called "Insider Movements" and associated Bible translations. I articulated these thoughts (without a clearly defined readership in mind) about one week after the May 2, 2014 byFaith notice, "Insider Movements Committee Submits Final Report," which provided my initial access to the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM) final report.
- J. Nelson Jennings
TE in Good Standing
May 16, 2014

In a sentence:
- The PCA has over-extended its severely limited cultural-linguistic-conceptual capabilities in rendering ecclesiastical pronouncements (no matter their contents, very much a secondary concern for me here) about so-called "Insider Movements" and associated Bible translations.

In bullet point format:
- The phenomena called "Insider Movements" are more varied and complex than what we in the PCA can encapsulate, and even meaningfully discuss, within our deeply engrained Greco-Latin-Reformed linguistic-conceptual categories.

- The PCA's Greco-Latin-Reformed cultural-linguistic-conceptual limitations, combined with the historically engrained impulse of imperial-ecclesiastical conflict (plus U.S.-American competitive and militaristic propensities), compel us to reject - particularly when asked to render our own opinion about - manifestations of Christian faith that we decide are outside our limitations.

- The PCA would have done better to acknowledge our current cultural-linguistic-conceptual limitations and learned from (plus humbly given needed pastoral advice to PCA congregations), rather than take upon itself the responsibility of rendering ecclesiastical pronouncements about, the varied and complex phenomena called "Insider Movements." [Note: When requested to give input (approval?) into an overture being developed over three years ago, I replied with an earnest plea not de facto to force the PCA into making an ecclesiastical judgment on the matter, given our lack of cultural and linguistic breadth. Alas, what became Overture 9 to the 2011 General Assembly did just that. The results - including in how our approach and questions have been formulated - have been predictable.]

- Perhaps in future generations the PCA will grow beyond our present limitations to reflect more faithfully the breadth of linguistic-cultural-religious-intellectual-socio-political contexts in which we live and serve, both in North America and worldwide.

- In the meantime, perhaps we in the PCA will learn better when to speak and when not to speak, from our extremely limited vantage point, about matters of worldwide Christianity.

In two of my published works, I provide further background:
- "The Tapestry of Contextualization," in Mission to the World, comp. and ed., Looking Forward: Voices from Church Leaders on Our Global Mission (Enumclaw, WA: Winpress Publishing, 2003), 24-30. Available online athttp://www.mtw.org/Pages/InVision/TapestryContext.aspx and http://www.mtw.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Resources/ChurchResourcing/Contextualization.pdf.

-God the Real Superpower: Rethinking our Role in Missions (Philipsburg, New Jersey: P&R, 2007).

In a brief essay:
A Distant Hope for Integrating Our Hermeneutics
J. Nelson Jennings - May 10, 2014

In support of its foregone ecclesiastical pronouncements, the PCA's three-plus years of deliberations about Insider Movements and Islamic-related Bible translations have stayed true to our hermeneutical instincts and convictions. Those instincts and convictions constrain us to remain steadfastly consistent with our passionately clutched understanding of biblical teaching and of our confessional standards.

Speaking historically, our hermeneutical instincts and convictions were fundamentally forged in the crucible of the interaction between Greco-Latin philosophical categories and special divine revelation, the latter having been given over the course of a millennium-plus into various Hebrew-, Aramaic-, and Greek-speaking contexts. Subsequent contextual realities in the West have further shaped the instincts of our thinking, perhaps most notably the proliferation of modern scientific reasoning.

One distinctive trait of our resulting hermeneutics of God and the world is that we instinctively hold both biblical revelation and our confessional commitments to be essentially conceptual, static, rationally classifiable, and transcultural. Stated differently, our hermeneutics fundamentally dis-integrate propositions about God and God-related matters away from the multifaceted, integrated realities of God and his dealings with the tapestry of peoples and contexts spread throughout the world and across the generations. Furthermore, Non-Greco-Latin, and subsequently non-European, ways of processing, nuancing, formulating, and expressing beliefs and convictions have always been foreign and unknown to our theological ancestry; and, we guard what we understand to have inherited by frightfully dismissing any perceived threats to our biblical and theological conceptualizations we passionately hold to be true.

As a result, our relatively monocultural and monolinguistic capacities confine us to a hidden fear of acknowledging even the possibility that Christian (or in our discriminating minds alleged Christian) belief and practice we judge to be inconsistent with our dis-integrated, deeply held conceptualizations might be valid, or at least instructive to us. Because we isolate our basic theology from the multifaceted and integrated realities of life in God's world (which we examine by the social sciences), we level red herring criticisms against or dismiss uncomfortable inferences from real-life examples that we determine to lack clarity and precision. Appeals we make to the perspicuity of Scripture - understood to exist somehow in isolation from contextual complexities - reinforce our conviction of defending our articulations against other Christians' (or alleged Christians') beliefs and practices we perceive to be inconsistent with ours.

The prospect of us as the PCA ever having our hermeneutical instincts and convictions refined and re-developed within cultural and linguistic crucibles that are different from the Greco-Latin, European, and Euro-American crucibles that have exclusively shaped us, and thus correspondingly moving toward integrating our decontextualized propositions with living in this world, appears distant. Two millennia of cultural and linguistic isolation have solidified our dis-integrated and assumed certainty, and the passing of many more generations, should Jesus tarry that long, of new and genuine engagement with different types of people are needed to reshape us. For the foreseeable future, we seem to be resolute to defend our isolated and dis-integrated conceptualizations with unrelenting confidence, all the while stiff-arming the kind of additional, non-European cultural and linguistic sensibilities that could help us move toward a more integrated hermeneutic of God and his relationship with the magnificent tapestry of peoples and contexts spread throughout the world - a tapestry still largely invisible to our blinder-restricted eyesight.

To switch metaphors, more than being off-key we are tone-deaf to the musical extravaganza God is orchestrating among the world's peoples - including in communities where we in the PCA live and serve every day. Whether or not the hope of our hearing integrated sections of that music will ever be realized apparently awaits future generations - those who will be less culturally, linguistically, and intellectually confined than we are - who will have ears to hear more of the totality of the divine music resounding throughout the earth. Our recent deliberations suggest that those coming generations will appear long after those of us walking the earth today will have whistled ourselves off stage in precise monotone.

The Scope and Manner of Divine-Human Communication

 "O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (Psalm 104:24 ). The entirety of Psalm 104, along with the scriptures as a whole, confirms that all of creation declares God's glory "through all the earth" and "to the end of the world" (Psalm 19:4). Accordingly, all of humanity, living in our divinely "allotted periods and the boundaries of [our] dwelling place, that [we] should seek God" (Acts 17:26-27), "are without excuse" (Romans 1:20) and are now commanded to repent in light of the risen Jesus's coming day of judgment (Acts 17:30-31).

God the Creator, Redeemer, and Judge has always been evident to all people. God's dealings with humanity have not been restricted to Old Covenant Israel, Greco-Romans and Europeans. Ancient Chinese, early inhabitants of the Americas, and all others have known something of our common Creator in contextually particular ways, even while blinded by Satanic deception and tainted with sinful rebellion. The Bible notes peoples who were directly responsible to God, including the Amorites of Abraham's day (Genesis 15:16). 

God gave his redemptive, inscripturated revelation over the course of a millennium-plus into various Hebrew-, Aramaic-, and Greek-speaking contexts, climaxed by his fully taking on human flesh as Jesus of Nazareth. God did not simply drop eternally existing linguistically formulated concepts into empty receptacles. Rather, he used pre-existing terms, thought forms, literary genre, metaphors, and other concrete realities to communicate comprehensively with people in those various biblical settings. God also orchestrated the multi-directional (and in multi-imperial settings, not just Roman) spread of Christianity through "Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia" and others who marveled that "we hear [the Galilean followers of Jesus] telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God" (Acts 2:9-11). God subsequently has been bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to us humans in our own mother tongues, albeit through the complex, unpredictably nuanced, often unclear, and multi-generational un-/re-scrambling process of translation from different cultural-linguistic-socio-political settings.

The reception and growth of the one universal gospel in a plethora of settings has given rise to various and particular Christian expressions. "God who created all things" has orchestrated the translation of the gospel among different nations "so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 3:9-10). God's grand purpose of uniting all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10) includes the cosmic display of his "manifold" or πολυποίκιλος ("extremely multi-colored") wisdom in the shaping of his people embedded in the vast array of cultural-linguistic-socio-political settings throughout the earth and world history.

Because God has risked speaking to humanity in the extensive panoply of our vernacular languages, various Christian communities and traditions necessarily have formulated various theological articulations and methodologies. Political and cultural differences between early Christian communities and traditions contributed to the fifth- and sixth-century balkanization of world Christianity. Those of us of Greco-Roman ancestry thus have truncated understandings of Christian history, of world history, and of the worldwide breadth of God's dealings with humanity - as well as of particular traits of our own Christian faith and practice.

Our hermeneutical instincts and convictions were fundamentally forged in the crucible of the interaction between Greco-Latin philosophical categories and inscripturated revelation. The proliferation of modern scientific reasoning - particularly among those of us of Northwestern European lineage who protested against and split away from Southern European Roman Catholicism - has contributed to our further conceptualization and systemization of the Christian faith, subtly imagined to be decontextualized and universally applicable to all of humanity, no matter how varied our cultural-linguistic-socio-political settings might be. Our longstanding isolation from non-Greco-Roman-European peoples has been buttressed by our ongoing exclusive appeals to Christian teachers and theological articulations of our own cultural-linguistic heritages. Our thorough isolation has extinguished even the instinctive possibility that Christian forefathers, instruction, and legitimate Christian living have existed outside our limited heritages.

Given the Greco-Roman-European formation of our hermeneutical instincts and convictions, we can unwittingly determine conceptually what is "biblical" apart from cognizance, including self-awareness, of the contextual and comprehensive manner in which God communicates with us. In reality, the Scriptures themselves are divine revelation articulated in particular concrete settings. Accordingly, our understandings of that divine revelation develop in ways that necessarily are intertwined with our particular situations. God has graciously taken that kind of risk in communicating with us as concrete, complex, and contextual human beings, not as disembodied mental entities.

The Reformers themselves were committed to learning, translating, publishing, and employing the Scriptures, theological tracts, catechisms, confessions, and liturgies in the peoples' vernacular languages. They thus acknowledged all peoples' historical and contextual locations, all Christian communities' need to keep on reforming, and preeminently God's unique place and role as the Creator, Redeemer, and Judge of his world and of humanity in ever-changing contexts. The related recognition by Calvin and others of God's concern for all of life - not just what we consider "religious" and not only intellectual statements about such matters - is also a Reformed emphasis (among many others) to be appreciated and cultivated.

Given the PCA's extremely limited familiarity with non-Greco-Roman-European cultural-linguistic-socio-political settings, plus given the lack of self-awareness of our own Greco-Roman-European cultural-linguistic-socio-political traits, committing ourselves to make an official decision about ongoing developments in very different settings was presumptuous. We meant well, we had understandable pastoral concerns for our own congregations, and we were responding to outside requests for help. The SCIM had the wise insight to try and focus its efforts on evaluating certain outside advocates of what have come to be called "Insider Movements." Even so, our understandable failure to recognize the scope and manner of divine-human communication permitted us to over-extend our capacities by arriving at and declaring conclusions about complex matters in unfamiliar settings. We should stick to learning in future similar situations.

Dr. Nelson Jennings is Executive Director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, Editor of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, and Teaching Elder in the Southern New England Presbytery (PCA).

DAVID GARNER:

Part 1: Missions, Cultural Anthropology and the Insider Movement Paradigm

Introduction

The Insider Movement Paradigm fails to take the authority of the Bible seriously.(1)

Core ideas of Insider Movement thinking have been in the missiological hopper for decades, but only in recent years have the theology and practice of the Insider Movement Paradigm (IMP) burst into public discourse. In the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Insider Movements and related Bible translation debates took center stage at the 39th General Assembly by an overture entitled, "A Call to Faithful Witness." With this overture the Assembly voted to establish a study committee. 

Having begun its work in Fall 2011, the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM) has produced a two-part analysis: (1) Part One (http://www.pcahistory.org/GA/2012/40v.pdf) on Bible translations that alter filial and familial language for God, and (2) Part Two (http://www.pcaac.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2101-SCIM-2014-ALL-with-MRs-4-30-14.pdf) on the Insider Movement Paradigm. Part One of the report was received enthusiastically at the 40th General Assembly. Part Two of the report will be presented in June 2014 at the 42nd General Assembly.

Cross-cultural engagement is surely complicated. It always has been and always will be. But the challenges to cross-cultural missions come not only to the missionary, they also come from him. 

The Dangers in Disciple Making

Disciple making is not an option. It is a biblical mandate, coming from the One to whom belongs all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18-20). As the risen Son of God in power (Rom 1:3-4), Jesus' word really is our command. 

Since true faith exercises both lips and legs, those converted love to tell the story and love to obey the story's Master, Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. The pure gospel is truly amazing. Its exclusivity and preciousness make proclamation of the Way, the Truth, and the Life a stunning privilege and stirring obligation.

But as history attests, gospel witness perpetually faces grave dangers. Fox's Book of Martyrs classically recounts the cost of discipleship and celebrates God-given courage in the face of Christ's enemies. Recent news profiles a pregnant woman in Sudan facing execution because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.(2)  Events such as this occur around the world on a daily basis. Health dangers, political pressures, language and culture adaptations, family tensions, and travel perils heap additional stresses upon missionaries. The price tag of professing Christ can truly be high. 

But more perilous than any of these is a missionary's failure to communicate the true gospel truly: "the danger namely that in striving to commend Christianity to the heathen and to remove their stubborn and abounding difficulties in accepting it we really accommodate Christianity to heathen thought--in a word we simply explain Christianity away."(3)

B. B. Warfield continues, "The supremest danger which can attend a missionary in his work . . . [is] the danger that he who has gone forth to convert the heathen may find himself rather converted by the heathen."(4)

The words strike forcefully precisely because the menace is real and the consequences are disastrous. The greatest temptation in missions comes when our "striving to commend Christianity" in the face of stubbornness and "abounding difficulties" presses us to relegate our affirmed commitment to Scripture's authority to the sidelines. 

The step from loving the lost to affirming their idolatry is never more than a word or deed away, but departure from the revealed truth decimates authentic ministry. It is only when Scripture weighs squarely on our methods in ministry that testimony of Scripture's authority means anything at all. Confessing Scriptural authority is not the same thing as carrying out that authority. Affirming biblical authority is not identical to applying it.

I should flesh this out a bit more. When decisions about what I say or how I say it fail to apply Scripture's self-interpreting authority (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.9), my decisions about these words and methods rest on some authority other than the Bible's. 

And here is the threat that disturbed Warfield and should disturb us. The pressures to perform or even to win unbelievers, when unchecked by biblical truth, can sway the well-intended missionary (or minister) away from biblical moorings. 

Whether due to pragmatism, personal fears, economics, inadequate theological preparations, or cultural anthropology, compartmentalized biblical authority will always lead to error. That is, when we apply biblical authority selectively, we assess things like culture, religious practices, and identity according to non-biblical (sociological, cultural anthropological) categories. The Bible serves as a tool in our interpretive hands, rather than a comprehensive authority for analysis of cultures, religions, and peoples.(5) In no time, contextualization becomes concession. Adaptation becomes compromise. The Jesus proclaimed becomes one other than the biblical Lord. The Christian becomes as the heathen.

From Missions to Missiology: The Insider Movement Paradigm

Since the time Warfield's troubled remarks took to paper, the crisis has multiplied exponentially. No longer are Warfield's worries missionary problems; they are now missiological ones. Such change is worse than mere numerical expansion. The very practice Warfield warned against is now promoted as missionary method, and one common expression of such method is the IMP.

Applying creative cultural anthropological constructions, missiologists argue earnestly that good missions makes diversity of peoples, cultures, and religions (6) ultimate and virtually non-negotiable.(7) In these paradigms, preserving cultural and religious diversity reigns over pursuing confessional, theological solidarity. Esteeming differences overshadows the transcendent word of God concerning what is true of men and women worldwide. 

In anticipation of common pushback, let me point out that I absolutely do not contend for transcendent abstract theological principles. Quite to the contrary, Scripture presents concrete and theologically rich historical realities: the historical creation of male and female in the image of God; the historical covenant made with mankind in Adam; the historical fall; and the historically redefining life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These, among other biblical, historical realities, define peoples and cultures everywhere and must exhaustively shape our interpretation of them.

Yet the IMP does not give these biblical transhistorical and cross-cultural realities their meaningful weight. Instead, it makes interpretive and methodological decisions about culture and religion based altogether upon the soft sciences - anthropology, sociology, and other forms of ethnography. It silences the Scripture's authoritative voice. Its reliance upon other non-biblical authorities is functionally despotic.

And now under this totalitarian framework of cultural anthropology, the new Gumby standard has broken the biblical backbone of missions. What Warfield considered a sad anomaly has turned into a sophisticated, relativistic, and elastic methodology. Disobedient practice has morphed into missions models. 

The Insider Movement Paradigm presents a sustained yet slippery example of such raging innovation in missions.(8)

Part 2: The Insider Movement Paradigm and Syncretism

The Heart of the Insider Movement Paradigm

Extreme forms of the Insider Movement Paradigm (IMP), like those missionaries who publicly convert to Islam in order to "reach" those in the mosque,(9) are often rejected even by IM advocates. But the concerns before the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Church of Jesus Christ more broadly are not merely the fringe excesses of IMP, but its wide and prevalent center as well as its "soft" forms.(10)

In a recent Modern Reformation article, PCA TE Bill Nikides has captured vital commitments of leading IM advocates: 
Insider Movements (IM) are variously defined as "popular movements to Christ that bypass both formal and explicit expressions of Christian religion" (Kevin Higgins, "The Key to Insider Movements," Internal Journal of Frontier Missiology, Winter 2004). Another definition Higgins offers is that they are "movements to Jesus that remain to varying degrees inside the social fabric of Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, or other people groups." In other words, as John Ridgeway [formerly] of the Navigators relates, Insider Movements advocate "becoming faithful disciples of Jesus within the culture of their people group, including religious culture."(11) 

Even mainstream forms of IM thinking make explicit the commitment to a "belief" in Christ that not only enables, but also encourages maintaining identity in one's own religion and legitimizes continuing features of its practice.(12) Thus, in the IMP, we find such self-labels sanctioned and even celebrated: "Muslim followers of Jesus," "Messianic Muslims," and "biblical Muslims." 

In some cases, these conceptions are considered transitional, but the IM hands-off approach concerning such conflation of believing Jesus and practicing foreign religions gains acceptance because, as IM advocate Becky Lewis has put it, "no one should consider one religious form of faith in Christ to be superior to another."(13) The logic? Christianity is not a religion, so Christianity is unconcerned with religions. Making matters worse, IM advocates up the ante by insisting that IM is the work of the Holy Spirit.(14) And who, after all, would dare obstruct the work of God the Spirit?(15)

Despite sustained IM advocate denials, in these so-called "Spirit worked" movements, Jesus falls under the lordship of Muhammad. As I have witnessed in Bangladesh, IMP applied inevitably ends up producing an Islamicized Christianity, rather than Christ-centered gospel with its concomitant freedom from bondage to unbelief. In other IM contexts, Jesus gets subjected to Buddhism and to Hinduism. The religion is different, the syncretism the same. IMP does not produce biblical Christianity but an ungodly merger of truth and error.(16) The offspring of such an unholy union are hideous, helpless and hopeless.

The Church Must Respond

With a view towards alerting the Church to the seriousness and slipperiness of the IMP, the Committee Report of the PCA's Study Committee on Insider Movements (http://www.pcaac.org/general-assembly/commissioners/insider-movements/) provides a careful analysis of the history of Insider Movement thinking and pointed biblical and theological analysis of common IMP themes. To understand the content and significance of the IMP, I would urge a careful reading of this report.

Controversies in missions are nothing new. In fact, the particular controversies at play in the IMP have traceable historical predecessors. And the response, which was true then, is equally true now. The only antidote to these errors is the faith as revealed in Scripture, which we in the PCA celebrate as wisely and worthily summarized in our confessional standards - the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. 

The Church must arise, boldly advance biblical faith, and forbid any winsome presentation of error to win the day. No matter how compelling it sounds, error remains unfaithful and unloving. The IMP debate must not get framed in some false dichotomy between confessionalism and charity, between theological retrenchment and gospel advance, or between binding the Holy Spirit in cessationist shackles and relishing his dynamic ministry. Such categorizations are not only unbiblical, but are wholly unfair, unhelpful, and unloving.

Further, this is no time for seeking a "big tent" compromise or seeing this debate as simply two equally valid yet differing opinions. The IMP in all its versions does operate with incompatible theological commitments to those of the historic Christian faith. For those still seeking a compromising synthesis of these two mutually exclusive points of view, Puritan Robert Traill warns, "such men as are for 'middle ways' in point of doctrine, have usually a greater kindness for that extreme they go half-way to, than for that which they go half-way from."(17) To put it forthrightly, an unnerving sympathy exists within much current discourse to extend the tent pegs of theology for the sake of charity. Such theological latitude is neither faithful nor charitable.\\

Explain or Explain Away?

So how far will we go? When will we concern ourselves again with theological integrity in missions, just as our fathers did at the founding of the PCA? Perhaps the Apostle Paul puts the questions best: "For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?" (2 Cor. 6:14b-16a)

As the SCIM Committee Report exposes, the IMP does not present the gospel faithfully and is therefore not faithful missions. We must not pretend, for any reason, that it is.  We must not become complicit--theologically, missionally, or financially--in any agreement of the temple of God with idols.

To love Christ is to long to see his redemption purely proclaimed and to see sinners truly claimed. Under the faithful direction of the Head of the Church, the faithful Church will love missions and do missions . . .  faithfully. It will never explain the gospel away, but for the sake of Jesus Christ and his Church, will tirelessly explain the gospel.

Dr. David B. Garner is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary and former missionary in Bulgaria.

NOTES for Dr. Garner's article
1. Advocacy of the Insider Movement Paradigm, in its varied manifestations, comes for a variety of reasons and depends on multiple sources of analysis and input. But in all its forms, the Insider Movement Paradigm qualifies, marginalizes, and sequesters biblical authority. Other authorities consistently eclipse Scripture.

2. Faith Karimi and Mohammed Tawfeeq, "Appeal Filed for Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Death for Her Christianity," (May 22, 2014). http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/22/world/africa/sudan-christian-woman-apostasy/ (accessed May 24, 2014).

3. B. B. Warfield, "Some Perils of Missionary Life," in John E. Meeter, ed., Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield (Vol. 2; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1973): 505. Warfield gave this as an address to prospective missionaries. The entire address runs from pp. 497-516.

4. Warfield, "Perils," 498.

5. To be clear, this concern in no way dismisses the appropriately applied input of the soft sciences. But these uninspired and humanly interpreted inputs must always take their place at the feet of Scripture.

6. The relationship between culture and religion is complex, but in no way operates outside the scope of Scripture's authoritative voice. J. H. Bavinck says, "Religions is culture made visible," The Impact of Christianity on the Non-Christian World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 57. Bavinck states elsewhere, "The practices dominating social life can never be detached or even thought of apart from their religious basis," An Introduction to the Science of Missions, trans. David Hugh Freeman (Philadelphia: P&R, 1960), 175. Paul Tillich similarly writes, "Religion as ultimate concern is the meaning giving substance of culture, and culture is the totality of forms in which the basic concern of religion expresses itself. In abbreviation: religion is the substance of culture, culture is the form of religion," Theology of Culture, ed. R. C. Kimball (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 42. 

7. Of course effective missions require great on the field adaptability, but this flexibility must be governed by the Scripture's own "macro-historical and -cultural outlook," which "transforms and redirects life in the first century Mediterranean world. . ., and establishes the continuity necessary for meaningful transhistorical and cross-cultural contacts," Richard Gaffin, Jr., Gospel In Context 1.1 (1978), 22.

8. Despite the common retort from IM advocates that their work describes rather than prescribes, their prolific writing advocating their viewpoints and methods counters such a claim. "Description has openly become prescription," David B. Garner, "High Stakes: Insider Movement Hermeneutics and the Gospel, Themelios 37.2 (2012): 255. The online version of this essay can be found at http://thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/high_stakes_insider_movement_hermeneutics_and_the_gospel.

9. See Garner, "High Stakes," 250. 

10. The Minority Report 2013 presents a "soft" IM, and in a more winsome and equally troublesome fashion, the Minority Report 2014 perpetuates the same line of argumentation. See the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM) 2014 Report, "A Call to Faithful Witness, Part Two: Theology, Gospel Missions and Insider Movements," (March 19, 2014), pp. 2280, 2282.

11. Bill Nikides, "Insider Movements and the Busted Church," Modern Reformation 21.4 (July/August 2012): 36-39. For an online version, see http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=1370 (Accessed May 24, 2014)

12. Such practices include mosque attendance, saying the shahāda, ritual washings, and practicing salāt. Less aggressive forms of Insider Movement paradigms, like "soft" IM, will in varying ways qualify such retention of religious identity and practice. Sometimes statements about "indefinite retention" appear. Other times soft IM advocates deny promoting "indefinite retention," but never render an adequate repudiation of such retention. Failure to forbid such retention forthrightly seems ubiquitous. 

 13. Rebecca Lewis, "The Integrity of the Gospel and Insider Movements," IJFM  27:1 (2010): 45, available at http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/27_1_PDFs/27_1_Lewis.pdf (accessed May 24, 2014). For full interaction with Rebecca Lewis, see Garner, "High Stakes," 249-274.

14. See pp. 2197-2206 in the SCIM 2014 Report.

15. "That the Spirit of God can and does work in unexpected ways is without question (see John 3). That he works without consideration for Christ's church as biblically defined is, well, simply unbiblical. After all, Scripture makes abundantly clear that Christ's headship is linked directly to his church (see, e.g., Eph 1:22-23; 5:23), and the Holy Spirit works in absolute solidarity with the will of the Father and the Son (John 14:15-17, 25-31; 16:4-15; Rom 8:9-11). Moreover, the teaching given through the apostles, which underscores the centrality of the church over which Jesus is Lord, also reveals unique, nonnegotiable characteristics of that church, including biblical organization (Titus 1:5); regular assembly (Heb 10:24-25); baptism (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 2:38-39); the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:17-32); and preaching, fellowship, and prayer (Acts 2:42; 2 Tim 4:1-2)," Garner, "High Stakes," 269.

16. In God's mercy, no doubt some impacted by the IMP will come to genuine faith in Christ. But any accounts of such personal salvation ought not reinforce the IMP, but the abounding mercy of God in saving sinners. God's work in spite of our foolishness and unfaithfulness does not warrant the sustaining of unfaithful practices.

17. Recorded in James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification: An Outline of Its History in the Church and Its Exposition from Scripture (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1867), 173. 



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