Book Notice: “A Theological Analysis of the Insider Movement”

Doug Coleman, PhD in Applied Theology with Missions from SEBTS, has recently published his dissertation: A Theological Analysis of the Insider Movement Paradigm from Four Perspectives: Theology of Religions, Revelation, Soteriology and Ecclesiology in the EMS Dissertation Series (WICU Press, 2011). His work evaluates the Insider Movement paradigm (IMP)-a proposal that faith in Jesus does not require severing ties with one’s pre-faith religious community-from four perspectives: the theology of religions, the doctrine of revelation, soteriology, and ecclesiology. This is a very important work for theologians and missionaries (i.e. all Christians) in contact with Muslims. Keep an eye out for the forthcoming Kindle version of this book.

Doug has served in overseas missions for 14 years, primarily among Central Asian Muslims with the IMB. Coleman is also author of “The Agents of Mission: Humanity,” in Theology and Practice of Missions: God, the Church, and the Nations edited by yours truly.

Muslim Conversions to Christ

In his recently published Muslim Conversions to Christ, Ant Greenham argues that, despite the difficulties of reaching the Islamic world with the gospel, individual Muslims do put their faith in Christ. Greenham, Assistant Professor of Missions and Islamic Studies at Southeastern, identified from the literature a range of conversion factors and consequently conducted a qualitative study of eleven male and eleven female Palestinians in January 2003 to identify their key conversion factors and test whether these apply to other Muslim converts. For those interested in Islamic conversion to Christ, and for those interested in Palestine, this book is must-read. To order the book, click here. Below is the Greenham’s concise summary of the book:

The first chapter considers the biblical nature of conversion. It may be seen as the process of transformation which occurs as an individual turns to Christ in humble surrender, encountering him by the power of God. This understanding of conversion is used as a tool of evaluation as various cases of Muslim conversion are examined.

The second chapter studies conversion themes from the literature, which indicate a variety of transforming encounters with Christ. Recurring themes are as follows: A prior crisis or felt need may precede conversion. Some individuals are disillusioned with Islam but others see Christ first in the pages of the Qur’an. They learn of Christ through various media, but the Bible is particularly important. Believers’ teaching and love are crucial. Some have supernatural or mystical encounters, including dreams and miracles. Above all, Muslim converts encounter Christ himself. Calling out to him, they find forgiveness, love and assurance in the person of Jesus.

Using such themes as a basis, the author proceeded to investigate the phenomenon of conversion to Christ among Palestinian Muslims. The third chapter demonstrates the need for a study of Palestinian Muslim conversions in the absence of specific conversion research completed to date. It also relates political, social and religious background issues to Palestinian conversions and sets out the author’s research procedures in preparing, arranging and conducting interviews with twenty-two respondents.

Summaries of respondents’ conversion stories as they emerged from open-ended questions and a follow-up comprehensive questionnaire are given in the fourth chapter. The conversion accounts are analyzed in terms of conversion’s nature, identified in the first chapter, and most appear sound. The individuals’ key conversion factors are set out at the end of the chapter.

The fifth chapter examines conversion patterns displayed by the group as a whole. The individuals were influenced by a number of different conversion factors, but the overall picture for the group has the person of Jesus at the center. The converts were drawn to him through various means. These are God’s miraculous involvement, the truth of his message, believers’ roles, Bible reading and an array of other factors. Nevertheless, Jesus is always central. In contrast, very few were converted because they rejected Islam. These patterns are supported by findings drawn from the literature, assessments of missionaries who worked with Palestinians, and results from a control group of ten male converts in Bangladesh. The Palestinians’ key conversion factors thus seem broadly valid.

Finally, the author’s findings might be applied to the task of missions to Muslims as follows: A divine/human synergy is involved. Converts encounter the person of Jesus by the power of God. He has to act for conversion to occur. However, believers have a crucial role to play in pointing Muslims to Jesus. Quite simply, they do so by presenting the biblical truth about him. Where literacy is a problem, the Bible’s testimony to Jesus may be presented via other means. This communicative process will probably be lengthy, but believers’ consistency and sincerity are essential. At the same time those who convert are only transformed as they sincerely turn to Jesus. In sum, the Jesus Muslims encounter has the last word on which factors bring their conversions about. He has the exclusive prerogative on when he might intervene miraculously but he certainly uses the other factors as well. Missionaries must do their part, but the Lord coordinates the details. Consequently, one should never move from dependence on him.

Ant Greenham, Muslim Conversions to Christ: An Investigation of Palestinian Converts Living in the Holy Land (William Carey International University, 2011). 322 pages. Ppbk.

J. D. Greear’s “Breaking the Islam Code”

We at BtT would like to make you aware of a new book, Breaking the Islam Code, written by J. D. Greear. There are four reasons in particular why you want to click here in order to purchase the book and read it immediately.

First, the book is a fine consideration of how to answer the questions of our Muslim neighbors. While Muslims often ask why Christians would believe a Bible that has been “corrupted and changed” or why we would “believe in three gods,” Greear argues that we should not focus on those questions per se, but instead hone in on the questions behind the questions. In a nutshell, he recommends studying the major stories of Scripture with Muslims so that they can understand the unfolding biblical drama and behold the beauty of Christ and his salvation.

Second, the book is an example of how to draw upon the church fathers, as he utilizes the Patristic doctrine of theosis to provide an explanation of Christian salvation that is both faithful and meaningful to the Muslim ear.

Third, as JD writes on the Breaking the Islam Code website, “My favorite part of the book is this–on the back cover I have two recommendations back to back: one from Mark Driscoll, the other from Paige Patterson. My book is a uniter.”

Fourth, the cover of the book is colored in a shade of lavender/fuschia, which is JD’s favorite color.

There you have it folks. Breaking the Islam Code is theologically sound, historically aware, is an evangelical uniter, and is a nice shade of fuschia. It is well worth your $11.99.