Looking at Insider Movements (6): Resources for Further Study

By: Doug Coleman

In this final installment I’ll point to some resources for further study and make a few summary remarks about the Insider Movement debate.

Publications by proponents exist almost exclusively in the form of journal articles. The majority of these have appeared in just a few journals, several of which are freely available online. Most of the positive articles have been published in the International Journal of Frontier Missiology (www.ijfm.org) and Mission Frontiers (www.missionfrontiers.org).

Critics have offered a number of responses via articles published in St. Francis Magazine, which can also be accessed free of charge online (www.stfrancismagazine.info/ja/). Also, the web site Biblical Missiology (biblicalmissiology.org) was founded to address concerns about IM methodology (yours truly is not the founder or a participant, by the way). Most recently, the folks there have focused on issues related to Bible translation, particularly controversy related to translation of Sonship and familial terminology.

I have previously mentioned my own dissertation available either from the SEBTS library or for sale here, or in Kindle version. It focuses solely on biblical and theological issues. However, another excellent dissertation critiquing selected missiological elements of IM was completed and submitted at Southern Seminary last year. It also gives an excellent description of the development of IM. You can access it for free here.

Finally, i2 ministries has sponsored conferences critiquing IM, and has published a book as well: Chrislam: How Missionaries Are Promoting an Islamized Gospel. I have not yet read the book because it was released after I returned to the field last year and I have not been able to obtain a copy. See a review and lengthy discussion in the comments section here.

At the beginning of this series, I noted that the tone of this debate has often been less than charitable. I do believe this is worth debating, even vigorously, because the consequences of the outcome are potentially quite serious. But the debate doesn’t require ad hominem arguments or presupposing motives. Furthermore, participants in the debate should work hard to avoid misrepresentations or mis-characterizations, unintentional or not. Unfortunately, I almost always find myself issuing qualifications when I recommend resources from both sides, often not because I disagree with the content, but because I find the tone or other comments objectionable.

I don’t claim that my own writing navigates the waters perfectly, but I can say that fairness, charity, and accuracy have been my highest secondary objectives. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned and interacting in the comments section. I hope it’s been helpful.

[Editor’s Note: Doug Coleman is a SEBTS alum who lives and works in Central Asia. His SEBTS dissertation was recently published as A Theological Analysis of the Insider Movement Paradigm from Four Perspectives: Theology of Religions, Revelation, Soteriology, and Ecclesiology (Pasadena, CA: WICU Press, 2011). We asked Dr. Coleman to publish a critique of the Insider Movement here at BtT, in the form of a six-part blog series.]

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  1. JRD   •  

    I truly appreciate your gentle style when dealing with these things. I have worked with Higgins for nearly 10 years and will be pleased if I have half the biblical sense and lasting fruit that he does. Thanks for treating him with respect.

  2. Doug Coleman   •  

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I had the privilege of meeting Kevin several years ago at a conference where he was speaking. He gave me his undivided attention over lunch to discuss issues related to IM, including welcoming and encouraging many of my questions. I found him patient, respectful, and willing to engage in serious discussion. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same has been true of every IM proponent with whom I have interacted.

    Kevin also responded to many questions I sent him via email as I was writing my dissertation, and allowed me access to unpublished documents that further described his views. By that point, he was probably well aware that he and I differ at some critical points; nevertheless, he continued to welcome and respond to my questions, which at times included objections (hopefully kind and respectful) to some of his interpretations.

    Perhaps the thing that I appreciate most about Kevin, though, is the fact that he, more than any other IM proponent of whom I am aware, is attempting to engage biblical and theological issues related to IM (including how to understand “Islam” itself), rather than simple appeals to “results” (however that word may be defined). Again, I haven’t found this to be the case with some IM proponents. This is not to suggest that they don’t care about the Bible and theology. However, I have not found many of them as welcoming of this discussion as Kevin has been. I hope that will change.

    I am encouraged that you found my posts gentle and respectful towards Kevin. My effort to treat him such was not a facade, but a genuine reflection of my appreciation for him. Though we may differ, I believe him to be a brother in the Lord.


  3. Nathan Girdner   •  

    I also want to express my thanks for this series. I came across it after your post on Dr. Veith’s blog. I’m actually quite interested in reading your thesis at some point, to explore your criticisms further. I’ve known Kevin H. for some time as well, and I really appreciate his work and perspective. It does seem that you’ve taken care to accurately represent his positions and address them in good faith, and I really appreciate that. I agree that this is a critical issue to get right, and so vigorous discussion is necessary, but ultimately, I think most are working in good faith to see the Kingdom of God come, so I think your tone and approach are the right ones.

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