Articles of Interest
1) Father and Son Terminology – Inspired or Superfluous?
by Adam Simnowitz
In May, 2012 the Assemblies of God and the Presbyterian Church in America released two papers addressing the astounding and growing phenomenon of specialized “translations” of Scripture for Muslims, the most prominent feature of which is the removal, substitution, and/or redefinition of the terms, “Father,” in reference to God, and “Son” and “Son of God” in reference to Jesus Christ. In the long history of the translation of Scripture into Arabic, dating back to the 8th century, there has been no precedent for specialized Scripture “translations” for Muslims that remove and/or redefine Father and Son terminology.
In contrast to this consistent historical witness of literally translating Father and Son terminology in all Scripture translations, in 1959, Eugene A. Nida, the father of “dynamic equivalency,” argued in his seminal article, “Are We Really Monotheists?,” for the elimination of Father and Son terminology in Scripture “translations” for Muslims. In the mid-1970s, missionary, anthropologist, and seminary professor, Charles Kraft, referencing Nida’s article, challenged Christian missionaries to Muslims to discard Father and Son terminology in evangelistic witness to Muslims. In 1977, Bible translators, Ariel de Kuiper and Barclay M. Newman, Jr., co-wrote the article, “Jesus, Son of God—a Translation Problem.” proposing non-literal, alternative renderings for Son of God in Scripture translations for Muslims.
In 2000, Rick Brown wrote the first of his several articles championing the use of “equivalents” for “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God” in Scripture translation while his colleagues, writing under the pseudonyms of Leith and Andrea Gray, have joined him in singing this Siren call to fundamentally alter the message of the Bible, that, regardless of motive, accommodates the teachings of Islam about God and Jesus Christ. There is a great difference, however, between these last three people versus those just mentioned – Brown, Gray, and Gray are not merely proposing the removal, substitution, and redefinition of Father and Son terminology as an idea to be implemented but are in fact defending actual audio and written Scripture publications.
What has happened to us professing evangelicals? If the context were different, for instance, if the subject was not ministry to Muslims but the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, would evangelicals have such a difficult time in seeing the problems with the actual practice of removing, substituting, and redefining Father and Son terminology? What if the Mormons came out with a modified version of the King James Version that changed Father to God, Lord, and guardian, and Son and Son of God to Messiah, Beloved of God, and Spiritual Son of God? What if Muslims took the Bible and replaced Son of God with Caliph of God, that is, the military-religious leader of the entire community of orthodox Muslims? Would not professing evangelicals be alarmed? Would professing evangelicals be reticent in condemning this practice?
Many of our esteemed biblically-conservative scholars have rightly condemned the excesses of the TNIV in altering the masculine language of Scripture into “gender-neutral” terminology which has now been adopted into the 2011 revision of the NIV, the latter which was publicly denounced by the Southern Baptist Convention. Yet, because “missionaries to Muslims” coupled with organizations that have had a solid evangelical reputation are involved somehow we assume the best of intentions and refuse to judge this practice by what the Bible clearly states.
All Scripture is inspired by God - 2 Timothy 3:16
Scripture cannot be broken - John 10:35
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. - 2 Peter 1:20-21
Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar. - Proverbs 30:5-6
The Bible makes it clear that its words are inspired by God. We can therefore trust that God communicates to us through Scripture what He wants us to understand about Himself. This is especially true with regard to the terminology of Father and Son [of God] which figure so prominently throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament. According to the 27th revised edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament:
- “Father,” in reference to God, appears 260 times
- “Son of God,” in reference to Jesus, appears 45 times
- “Son,” in reference to Jesus, appears 79 times.
If these three designations can be substituted with other words and phrases ultimately these terms are superfluous to understanding God and Jesus Christ. In theological terms, the belief in the verbal-plenary inspiration of the terms Father, Son, and Son of God is lost! But before we jettison the historic, orthodox understanding of Father and Son terminology let us consider the significance of the following:
- at Jesus’ birth (Lk. 1:32)
- at Jesus’ baptism (Mt. 3:17)
- the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:5)
- a clear claim to divinity (Jn. 5:16-26; 10:24-39)
- in the Trinitarian baptismal formula (Mt. 28:19)
- in Old Testament prophecies of Jesus (Ps. 2:12; Is. 9:6)
“Son of God”:
- at Jesus’ birth (Lk. 1:35)
- even Satan and demons recognized this fact about Jesus (Mt. 4:3ff; 8:29)
- was Peter’s great confession of faith (Mt. 16:16)
- Old Testament revelation concerning the Creator’s nature (Pr. 30:4)
- the only way Jesus addressed God in prayer with the exception of His quoting Ps. 22:1 while on the cross
- the way believers should address God in prayer (Mt. 6:9)
- the way God desires to relate to people (Mt. 5:45; Prodigal Son: Lk. 15:11-32)
- points to the believer’s intimacy with God (Rom. 8:15; 2 Cor. 6:18; Gal. 4:6)
- points to the unity and intimacy between God the Father and Jesus the Son (Mt. 11:27; Jn. 1:18; 10:30; 17:21)
- in the Trinitarian baptismal formula (Mt. 28:19)
The biblical witness of saving faith in Jesus Christ is inextricably tied to the belief in and confession of Jesus specifically being the Son of God:
but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31, emphasis added)
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:15, emphasis added)
And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:5, emphasis added)
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13, emphasis added)
This teaching is so important that the denial of the Sonship of Jesus Christ, and its necessary corollary, the Fatherhood of God, is severely denounced in the some of the strongest language used in all of the Bible:
10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son. 11 And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 John 5:10-12, emphasis added)
22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23, emphasis added)
We understand from these passages that the witness of the Holy Spirit within the believer, the presence of God in the believer's life, overcoming the world, having genuine belief in Jesus Christ, possessing eternal life, and enjoying a relationship with God the Father are all contingent on the belief, acceptance, and confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. To reject Jesus Christ as the Son of God is to charge God with lying, be devoid of eternal life, be devoid of the Father, and be branded the antichrist!
Dr. Bruce Waltke, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Knox Theological Seminary  has ably addressed this outstanding witness of Scripture:
"[God] identifies himself as Father, Son, and Spirit...Jesus taught his church to address God as 'Father' (Luke 11:2) and to baptize disciples 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19)...It is inexcusable hubris and idolatry on the part of mortals to change the images by which the eternal God chooses to represent himself. We cannot change God's name, titles, or metaphors without committing idolatry, for we will have reimaged him in a way other than the metaphors and the incarnation by which he revealed himself. His representations and incarnation are inseparable from his being."
One of the greatest missionaries to Muslims, Temple Gairdner (1873-1928), who ministered with the Anglican Church in Cairo, Egypt, had this to say over 100 years ago:
...still undoubtedly this doctrine of Fatherhood and Sonship is an enormous stumblingblock to Muslims. Their repugnance is so instinctive, so engrained in their very constitution, that it may be really questioned whether Christians do well to give such prominence to terms which are so capable of being misunderstood, and which, were perhaps only used at the first to shadow forth the ineffable substance of eternal truth. If they only succeed in doing the exact reverse of this—namely, suggest error—why not drop terms of so dubious utility and seek fresh ones to shadow forth in a more fruitful way the truth (if so be) which lies beyond? If the whole point of terminology is to facilitate explanation, what is the use of terminology which itself needs so much explanation? Why not drop it?
The answer to this is: Because we have no right to play fast and loose with expressions that God has sanctioned with such tremendous emphasis; because their continued existence in Holy Writ and use by His Church are like the preservation and employment of a standard which we cannot afford to lose. Depend upon it, if this terminology were banished from religious usage to-day, a great deal more would go too. Sooner or later the reality, to which these expressions are a continual witness, would be utterly lost sight of. And, if the idea of the Fatherhood of God were lost to us, many of us would lose interest in all religion.
By the authority of the Bible we call people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We also, on the basis of our testimony, or the work of God the Holy Spirit in us as individuals, in agreement with the witness of the Bible, have come to understand that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (1 John 2:24-27; 5:10), can only testify to what we have "seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). We, therefore, reject any attempt to hide, obscure, and/or eliminate the biblical witness of God as Father and Jesus Christ as the Son of God in any way, especially and most importantly in the translation of the Scriptures which are the foundation for all evangelism and discipleship. On the other hand, we uphold the witness of the biblical manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to Father and Son terminology. Let us then uphold the literal translation of these terms which is the only way to accurately and correctly translate them.
Presbyterian Church in America paper: Like Father, Like Son: Divine Familial Language in Bible Translation (http://pcaac.org/Ad%20Interim%20on%20Insider%20Movements%20Report%205-17-12.pdf).
 Rick Brown, The "Son of God": Understanding the Messianic Titles of Jesus, International Journal of Frontier Missions, 2000, 17(1): 41-52. http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/17_1_PDFs/Son_of_God.pdf;
Explaining the Biblical Terms ‘Son(s) of God' in Muslim Contexts, Part I. International Journal of Frontier Missions, 2005, 22(3): 91-96. http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/22_3_PDFs/91-96Brown_SOG.pdf;
Translating the Biblical Term 'Son(s) of God' in Muslim Contexts, Part II. International Journal of Frontier Missions, 2005, 22(4): 135-145. http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/22_4_PDFs/135-145%20Brown_SOG.pdf;
“Why Muslims Are Repelled by the Term Son of God.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 43:4 (Oct 2007) 422–29.
Leith Gray (a pseudonum): "The Missing Father: Living and Explaining a Trinitarian Concept of God to Muslims." Mission Frontiers (November-December 2008), 19-22. http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/the-missing-father;
Brown and Gray: Brown, Rick, Leith Gray, and Andrea Gray. “A New Look at Translating Familial Biblical Terms.” International Journal of Frontier Missiology 28:3 (Fall 2011), 105-120. http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_I Terms.” http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/28_3_PDFs/IJFM_28_3-BrownGrayGray-NewLook.pdf;
Brown, Rick, Leith Gray, and Andrea Gray. “A Brief Analysis of Filial and Paternal Terms in the Bible.” International Journal of Frontier Missiology 28:3 (Fall 2011), 121-125. http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/28_3_PDFs/IJFM_28_3-BrownGrayGray-BriefAnalysis.pdf
 All figures are based on the Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th Revised Edition, edited by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Marini, and Bruce M. Metzger in cooperation with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Munster/Westphalia, Copyright 1993 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. The figures for “Father” were exported from Logos Bible Software 4 and the figures for “Son” and “Son of God” were exported from BibleWorks 9.
 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: http://knoxseminary.edu/instructors/instructor_waltke.php
 Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, Zondervan, 2007; p. 244.
 W.H.T. Gairdner, God As Triune, Creator, Incarnate, Atoner, pp. 4-5 http://muhammadanism.org/Gairdner/Triune/triune.pdf
3) How Zwemer Presented the Gospel to Muslims
by Adam Simnowitz
During his lifetime, Samuel Zwemer (1867-1952) was alternately called the “Apostle to Muslims” and the “Apostle to Islam.” Zwemer was one of the founders and pioneer missionaries of the Arabian Mission in the Arabian Gulf, a missionary and instructor in Egypt, a sought-after speaker for missionary services and conferences, a major proponent of evangelistic literature for Muslims, convened two international conferences for evangelizing Muslims, started and edited the scholarly, missionary journal, The Moslem World (now, The Muslim World) from 1911-1947, made numerous tours among Muslims throughout the Middle East and Asia, and taught missions at Princeton holding the chair of The History of Religion and Christian Missions, 1929-1939. As a zealous and indefatigable promoter of missions to Muslims throughout his lifetime, especially during his time while a missionary with the Dutch Reformed Church in America/Reformed Church in America (RCA) and Candidate Secretary of the Student Volunteer Movement, Zwemer was directly responsible for influencing and recruiting numerous missionaries for overseas service. In Egypt, he helped train many new missionaries and Protestants in Egypt to evangelize Muslims. He was a prolific author, writing mainly on the subjects of missions to Muslims, Islam, evangelism, and theology.
It is evident from the above list (which is by no means comprehensive) that it would be unfair to define Zwemer by only one aspect of his multi-faceted life. Most who have written about him, however, have limited themselves to his published books with only a few of them referencing his most-readily available journal articles. In so doing they have often formed incomplete opinions of Zwemer. This is especially the case with regard to the content and methodologies of how he evangelized Muslims. Since most of Zwemer’s writings and lectures were to ultimately inspire Christians to evangelize Muslims, they contain scant information about how he approached Muslims with the Gospel and what he actually said to them. By looking at some of his writings that address these two topics, evangelistic tracts that he originally wrote in Arabic, personal anecdotes and those of his colleagues, and several other sources, I will show how Zwemer presented the Gospel to Muslims through literature distribution and personal witnessing and preaching, giving various examples of content for each method.
From his first missionary journey in Arabia in 1891 until the infamous “Zwemer incident” in 1928 when he was forced to temporarily leave Egypt for handing tracts at Al-Azhar, the renowned Islamic Seminary in Cairo, Samuel Zwemer never abandoned use of the printed page in evangelizing Muslims. Even though the vast majority of people were illiterate he explains why he placed such a high priority on this method:
It is a remarkable testimony to the power of the printed page that nearly all the enquirers in Moslem lands have first been led to Christ by means of a book or tract. It is because of this that every missionary should try to be a colporteur and tract distributor. Neither poverty of purse nor pride of position nor prejudice against this method because it is sometimes abused, should prevent him from having at hand in his pocket and reception
room an adequate quantity and variety of Christian literature. This method of approach is open to all, and if it is followed with sympathy, it is everywhere welcomed.
The printed page is indeed the ubiquitous missionary. It can go everywhere at a minimum cost…[It] enters closed doors, especially in Moslem lands. I myself while at Cairo have received orders for books and tracts from Mecca and Kerbela. The book reaches all classes...It preaches unweariedly. It needs no furlough. It lives longer than any missionary. It is never laid aside by illness. It penetrates through the mind to heart and conscience. It has produced results everywhere. I have known of cases where such seed of the Gospel has long lain in fallow or hard soil and yet retained its life to blossom and bloom…Above all this method of evangelism is (when rightly pursued) often less offensive than direct preaching. One can witness more effectively, more daringly and more persuasively by the book or tract than in any other way.
Almost from the start of the Arabian Mission, Zwemer and his colleague, James Cantine, became agents of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He considered Scripture distribution to be “true mission work” albeit “quiet.” It was expected to have both direct results and serve as a preparatory for other ministry. Regarding the former, Zwemer and his wife, Amy, likened books of the Bible as “little missionaries.” Regarding the latter, this included the opening of Bible shops, where the goal was “a place where we work with the Bible and not a place merely where Bibles are stored.” Zwemer gives us a glimpse of a typical day at the shop in Bahrain and how he would try to attract people to it:
"Ta'al shoof! Come and see. Here is an Arabic Gospel, a portion of the whole Injil of Isa the prophet – only one anna. Have you read it? The Koran says it is 'light and guidance.' Or do you want to read the wonderful Psalms of Nebi Daood in this pretty green binding for three annas? Here is the whole Torah in Persian for one rupee or a gilt-edged New Testament almost 'Bilash ' at two krans. You don't care to read the Holy Book because it has been corrupted, you say? How do you know if you have not read it? Does the caravan call the water bitter before they reach the well? - Don't go away; we sell other books besides the Scriptures. Here is an atlas, all in Arabic; there are science primers, grammars, poetry, stories. Have you read The Greatest Thing in the World, or Swiss Family Robinson put into Arabic by the learned men of Barr-es-Sham?" - and so the hours went by. Sometimes there were those who lingered and had patience to sit and read some portion of the Word selected for them. Often there gathered about the door the curious to hear a Franjee talk the language of "the Book," or read from the Sermon on the Mount.
Zwemer deemed the sale of literature and directing readers to specific passages in Scripture as essential to literature distribution:
One lesson I learned and have never forgotten – it is a costly mistake to give away Christian books or Scriptures promiscuously, no matter how prayerfully and carefully it is done…One also learns by sad experience that the Scriptures need an interpreter and that one should point out simple passages and direct the ignorant, otherwise they will straightway be offended.
An illustrative example of how Zwemer used the Bible in witness is given by his colleague, Kamil El-Aietany, a former Muslim from Beirut, who was ministering with him. After speaking to a crowd of people whom he had previously met, Zwemer boldly spoke about God’s love and quoted John 3:16:
They made some objections and asked some questions…[which we answered]. We then read several chapters from the Bible, from which also one of the boys read to them; and as we had several copies of the Scriptures we gave them to those who could read, and they began to read, so that the company soon became like a great Sunday-school or church of forty or fifty members. As they read, Mr. Zwemer would ask them, ‘Is this true? Is this true?’ And do you suppose that they said ‘No’? Not at all, but ‘Yes, this is true.’ Mr. Zwemer then explained in clear and simple language that we are all sinners in the sight of God, and that ‘without shedding of blood there is no remission.’ He then told them that the blood of Christ, shed on the ‘wood of the cross,’ is the only means to atone for our sin.
“It was a happy time to us, and the Spirit of God helped us mightily. At last Mr. Zwemer asked them, ‘Is what you have heard true?’ They said, ‘Some things are true, and other things are true but we do not believe them.’ He replied, ‘Think over all you have heard.’
When Zwemer relocated to Egypt in 1912 to help teach prospective missionaries at the Cairo Study Center, he also became involved with the Nile Mission Press which produced and published Christian literature with a special emphasis on evangelizing Muslims. During this time he wrote a number of evangelistic tracts in Arabic for Muslims, most of which came to be categorized as, “Comparative Series for Muslims by Dr. Zwemer.” Some of them contrasted the teachings of Islamic writings with the Bible about a given topic such as prayer or Paradise. Others would address a specific religious practice or belief of Islam and then turn it towards Biblical truth. His tracts abound in direct quotes from the Bible, the Quran, the Hadith, and Muslim commentators. Zwemer summarized twelve of them in two different articles which furnish us with his thinking behind this approach:
It is the missionary’s privilege to help them [i.e. Muslims] in this study and by tongue and pen to conduct these classes in comparative religion to positive religion and conclusive thinking until they accept Jesus Christ.
It is one of the principles of correct teaching that we should proceed from the known to the unknown, and one learns by experience that the best way to interest Moslems in the deeper truths of the Christian religion or its higher ethics, is by beginning with those things on which we are agreed, or at least, of which the Moslem mind is not entirely ignorant.
An important aspect to Zwemer’s tracts was his use of a picture or illustration on the cover of his tracts in spite of orthodox Muslims’ prejudice against “all pictorial representation”:
…we have ventured to issue an illustrated series intended to attract the attention of the wayfarer on the tram or in the bazaar, and hold his attention at least for a few moments on the message of the Gospel.
He would also seek to capitalize on the “psychological moment” of special events of which the following tracts are examples: The Holy Carpet (Al-Kiswa), The Black Stone, The Well of Zemzem, and The Story of Joseph.
Zwemer’s tracts were widely read and often went through multiple printings. Wilson, his biographer, relates the following anecdote concerning the popularity of one such tract:
"Do You Pray" became so well known that people began to use this as a title and he [i.e. Zwemer] would be pointed out on the street with the words, "There goes ‘Do You Pray.’"
Regarding the previously-mentioned “Zwemer incident,” in which he handed out tracts at Al-Azhar, one of the students who picked up the torn fragments pieced them together, read them and was impressed by their contents. He later became a “staunch Christian.” While a treatment of all of his tracts is beyond the scope of this paper, we will now consider the content of four of them to illustrate his presentation of the Gospel to Muslims:
The Beautiful Names of God lists the 99 names of God (according to but one of the many different lists that exist) followed by a Bible verse corresponding to each name. The
cover has a picture of a man’s hand holding the Muslim prayer beads with the words, “The Majesty of the Remembrance of the Beautiful Names of God.” In the preface he writes:
Since we know that the Beautiful Names of God are not only mentioned in the Koran but in the divine books that were sent down beforehand according to the testimony of the Koran itself when it says:
“and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel aforetime, as guidance to the people” [Sura 3:3-4]
we show then, in this tract, selected verses from the Holy Bible explaining the Beautiful Names of God, a verse for each Name – in letter and spirit – so that the people of the [Koranic] prohibition [i.e. Sura 29:46] say:
'We believe in what has been sent down to us, and what has been sent down to you; our God and your God is One, and to Him we have surrendered.'
An additional list of 10 other names/descriptions of God from Bible with corresponding verses of which the last two are “love” and “Father.” In the appendix he writes:
[Thus] are completed the Beautiful Names of God with His successful blessing. It is unusual when one considers that all of these names and their meanings are contained in the last word, “The Father.”
He concludes by quoting Psalm 103:13, John 3:16, and an Arabic hymn about the Trinity.
The Three Blind Men contains the accounts of how Muhammad mistreated a blind man, Abdullah bin Um Maktum, which is partly told in Sura 80 and further explained by Muslim commentators; the healing of Bartimaeus according to Mark 10:42-62; and the healing of the man born blind in the ninth chapter of John. Apart from the preface introducing the importance of sight and that Jesus healed the blind according to both the Quran and the Bible, there is no comment or further explanation, just direct quotes from the Quran, Muslim commentators and the Bible. Zwemer was convinced that the reader would infer the great contrast between Jesus’ treatment of the blind as opposed to Muhammad’s actions with Abdullah:
Read it once again and imagine yourself a Moslem in Cairo – how it lives and appeals to the reader!
(At that time there were many blind people throughout Cairo and the rest of the Muslim world, much of it because of superstitious practices such as the rubbing of glass in the eyes of infants!)
An interesting observation which warrants our attention here is Kamil’s influence upon Zwemer. Kamil, the former Muslim from Beirut, joined the Arabian Mission and until his untimely death, often ministered together with Zwemer. In a letter to his father, Kamil responds to his father’s assertion that the Bible has been changed as evidenced by the accounts of Lot’s incest, David’s adultery, and Solomon’s idolatry:
But this does not prove to me that the Scriptures have been changed. We read in the Koran that David took his brother’s ewe lamb (Sura 2), and Adam ate of the forbidden tree (Sura 2), and Abraham was an idolater, and Joseph longed for the Egyptian woman, and that Mohammed was in error and received guidance and that he was wroth with a blind man, and that Aaron worshiped the calf when his brother was on the mountain.
In this list, Kamil specifically refers to the Quranic account of the blind man (Zwemer includes this incident as the first point of contrast in “Suggested Outlines for Preaching to Moslems in Mission Hospitals” which article will be discussed later). In reading his biography, his few extant letters, and the accounts in the first Field Reports of the Arabian Mission, it is safe to assume that Kamil often made use of this response in conversations with Muslims. Another important feature in Kamil’s witnessing was his belief that the Quran undoubtedly referred to the Old and New Testaments when it mentions the “previous Scriptures/books,” the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel. As we have already seen in the preface to The Beautiful Names of God, Zwemer follows this same approach which is repeated in many of his other tracts. An incident that led to the temporary closure of the Bible shop in Bahrain, also confirms this approach:
As usual our Bible-shop was the centre for opposition on the part of those who hate our work. On Nov. 14 I was using a copy of the Koran to prove from it the integrity and truth of the Scriptures when a Moslem joined the crowd of listeners, seized the book and raised a disturbance. He founded his conduct on the Koran text: "And none shall touch it but the purified." [italics added]
As a young, impressionable missionary, Kamil’s way of witnessing and responding to Muslim challenges, especially as a former Muslim, certainly had its effect on Zwemer.
What Think Ye of Christ is one of Zwemer’s shortest tracts and intended for free distribution (evidently, Zwemer did not object to the free distribution of tracts as opposed to Scripture and books). It contains verses from the Quran regarding Jesus’ miracles, death, and his names/titles. Towards the end of the tract he mentions Jesus’ death in the “Gospel” by quoting 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, His intercession (1 John 2:1-2), and the appeal of Matthew 11:28 in larger font, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The Two Ways in the Quran, or How a Christian becomes a Muslim; and how a Muslim becomes a Christian makes one of the starkest contrasts and comparisons in all of Zwemer’s tracts. Unlike some of his other tracts, he does not just quote verses and leave the reader to infer that the message of the Bible is better than Islam. Zwemer makes this claim quite openly:
If you desire, O Christian, to embrace Islam, I say with deeply-felt regret that you will not get a chance to study the Quran because none is allowed to touch it but the “Purified” (Holy men)…You are not obliged to undergo any internal change nor to experience any regeneration of nature”
It will, also, be your destiny to have no sure hope nor retain full assurance of happiness in the next world.
Remember also – may God guide you – that the fear of death is the portion of every one who feels the heaviness of his sins on his soul and ignores the means of forgiveness through redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ in whom Justice is fulfilled, and without the sacrifice of Jesus there can neither be mercy to the sinner, nor peace, nor eternal life.
Is your conversion to Christianity worth the price you have to pay for it? O God help our Muslim brethren to go obediently through the way of Jesus Christ to gain the peace and of the soul here and glory and indescribable happiness in the kingdom of God. AMEN. Friend, which way will you choose?
Having considered several examples of Zwemer’s use of the “printed page” we now turn to his evangelism among individuals and groups. At the third convention of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions Zwemer spoke on “personal evangelism”:
Personal spiritual dealing is the great necessity. In my mind this is the fundamental idea of missions.
There are two ways to fill a row of empty bottles. I can stand away from them and sprinkle water toward them and, if I had the patience, I could fill them, but it would take hours; and I can take them up one by one pour and the water into them. One is preaching and the other is personal work.
You need faith in God, in the people, and in yourself, and your ability to tell the simple gospel story, after you have mastered the language.
To evangelize the world in this generation it must be a day-to-day and hour-by-hour collision of souls…I believe that all the conversions recorded in mission fields have been the result of personal spiritual dealing, and not preaching.
Over two decades later we find him teaching the same thing at the Cairo Study Center:
Personal evangelism is a collision of souls. The impact depends on mass and velocity. Truth and Fire.
The importance of prayer before and after interviews; of sympathy with difficulties and in regard to circumstances; and finally, of an appeal to the will and conscience through the intellect.
In scattered accounts throughout the “field reports” and newsletters of the Arabian Mission, Zwemer relates, in varying length, his contact with individuals. In Cairo as well he had a study that was open for visitors. The following eye-witness accounts give us a good idea of how Zwemer interacted with individuals when sharing the Gospel:
To us the one outstanding thing about Zwemer was the fact that the Arabs came to him. He did not have to seek them out. His study, crammed with books, was seldom without a visitor or two and to his visitors Zwemer gave himself completely. His popularity with
the people was the more remarkable in that he was always the vigorous missionary and never watered down his message to make it less unacceptable to his hearers. To me it often seemed that his zeal outran the ordinary bounds of prudence and that he was perhaps doing our cause more harm than good. But he got away with it and won the respect of all in Bahrain, and the love of many. He is our only man missionary to win the distinction of an Arab name. To this day older men speak of "Dhaif Allah" or "The Guest of Allah" or "The Wanderer in God’s Service."
Dr. Zwemer was always ready to talk to anyone, anywhere, about the faith that so warmed his own heart. Walking along a Cairo street one day, he paused to watch a fruit vender push his cart up to the curb and stop to rest. Here was the opportunity the missionary had been looking for, so he engaged the man in conversation. Soon a group of passersby had stopped to listen, amazed to hear this tall man from afar speaking fluent
Arabic to the vender. Dr. Zwemer asked the man if he had any "fruit of the Spirit" to sell. Puzzled, the vender replied that he did have oranges and grapes and melons and figs. "But what is fruit of the spirit?" he asked. Pulling out his Arabic New Testament, Dr.
Zwemer said, "Well, if you don't know, I'll tell you," And he proceeded to read from Galatians 5:22: "The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
[During a visit to Al-Azhar in 1918] Ten or fifteen yards down the crowded parapet we were aware of the presence of one with whom a leaflet had been discussed half an hour before; he wanted our souvenir but "feared the multitude" inside the Azhar. He did not linger, tucking the booklet under his garment, just a word of thanks and farewell.
Zwemer, however, was by no means averse to preaching to crowds. While in Bahrain, after the arrival of fully-trained medical missionaries and the establishment of a medical dispensary, he would often speak at the services preceding treatment. C. Stanley G. Mylrea, a colleague from the Arabian Mission wrote:
Zwemer was a superb talker at our hospital dispensary services in Bahrain. The addresses had obviously always been carefully planned and thought out and I myself learned much from them. I remember in particular a series of talks he gave to my patients on the rosary. The Muslim, like the Roman Catholic Christians and the Buddhists, uses the rosary. The Muslim rosary carries 99 beads, one for each of the 99 names of God. There is a long special bead to make the number up to one hundred. This special bead is known as "The Witness." I can still see Zwemer with a rosary in his hand, holding forth in fluent Arabic on "the name that is above every name." He was fond of comparing Christian ethics and standards with their opposite numbers in Bahrain.
In January 1912, Zwemer’s article, “Suggested Outlines for Preaching to Moslems in Mission Hospitals” was published. The timing of this article is significant because it predates the publishing of any of his evangelistic tracts in Arabic, yet reads as a table of contents for a number of them. It is evident that such tracts were simply written versions of talks that he had honed while speaking at the dispensary in Bahrain and elsewhere:
The following topics and outlines are given as the result of practical experience in meeting an actual situation, after many experiments that failed, and after using messages that did not seem to reach the heart of the hearers. (32)
He then explains guiding principles necessary to speak to “an ordinary group of middle-class Moslems, both of the Shiah and Sunni sect, most of them illiterate”:
We must do it sympathetically so as to not antagonize the hearer, and yet pointedly, that the message may not fail to reach their consciences and hearts…The Oriental, especially the Arab, is more easily won by illustration than by argument, and the story teller has a stronger grip on hearts than the logician. One striking proverb is worth a dozen demonstrations…as the time for preaching is limited, and the audience may be present to hear only once or twice, we must give the very heart of the Gospel. (32)
Five main points are given, which are as follows: 1. A Series on the Miracles of Healing; 2. A Series on the Beautiful Names of Christ; 3. Seven Christian Duties; 4. Topics of Contrast; 5. Topics From the Koran. Each of the above points includes sub-points usually accompanied by short comments and questions to aid the speaker.
Zwemer’s passion to proclaim Jesus Christ is best seen in his numerous tours (of which several examples have already been given). A simple perusal of the early Arabian Mission reports bears ample testimony to this. These tours, in fact, were the foundation for his evangelistic ministry, combining and consisting of his simple medical practice, literature distribution and private and public proclamation of the Gospel. In The Golden Milestone, Zwemer recollects some of his early tours:
Kamil went on shore to buy our supper, and while he was gone several people waded to the boat, asking for medicine. A specially interesting case was a deaf and dumb boy, whom we made happy with a Gospel picture card. (52)
I had no special difficulty in Sana'a in visiting the city or speaking about the Gospel in a quiet way…At my room in the kahwah [i.e. coffee shop] I could speak with those who came in, and read a little from John's Gospel without any hindrance. On Sunday Jusef and I held a short service there together, praying for the evangelization of the great city. I sold a copy or two of the Gospel and gave away a half-dozen others to Arabs in Sana'a and along the route. In every instance they were received and read with avidity. I can never forget the old sheikh at Bagel who, when I told him the book I had read from was the Injil [i.e. the New Testament], took it and kissed it reverently and then wanted to buy it. (70)
[At Khan Al Haswa, Mesopotamia]: Accompanied by the venerable Arab, I visited one of their mat huts to deal out quinine for fever, and before I left the khan I met a Turkish soldier who could read and wanted a New Testament. (90)
[At Samawa]: The following day I went about the town freely, and spoke and sold books to those who came to the khan. (93)
[on a boat to Basrah]: and here I taught the Baghdad inquirer and servant aleph bay, and read John's Gospel to him, until we reached Kurna. (94)
[At Menazeleh]: Here in the evening majlis of Abdullah bin Saeed I sold some Scriptures, treated sick, and talked on this world and that to come until a late hour. (123)
In Zigzag Journeys in the Camel Country, Zwemer wrote of his itinerant evangelism:
As often as possible therefore we visit this market-place [i.e. the big camel market in the crater at Aden where we preached our first sermon in 1891], and sell books and Bibles or preach to those who will listen. It is not at all an easy place to sell or to preach, but those who come there witness fine, splendid opportunities to meet men face to face, to get acquainted and to renew old acquaintance with villagers who come from distant parts of the Bahrein Island group. Here it is that many a gospel portion has exchanged hands and many a story of the power of Christ has been sowed as good seed in the hearts of the Arabs in the hope that God would use it to make them think of Jesus Christ as their Saviour. If books are sold they are often carried from here to distant villages, and it is possible to make acquaintance here with Arabs who come from the mainland and are visiting the islands, while one is sure to meet old friends who have not been able to come to see you for along time.
One merchant used to keep a dry-goods stand and was one of the few Moslems in the early days of our work who was always glad to welcome a missionary. When the sun was very hot the shelter of his mat-screen was a nice shady nook to sit down in and talk with wayfarers. Right near the tall minarets we sometimes discuss the Koran and its teachings, and tell the Arabs how the book of Mohammed is really a finger-post pointing them to the Gospel and to Jesus Christ, the Great Prophet Who is alive forevermore. (35-36)
While many similar examples of Zwemer’s evangelistic ministry and methods could be presented, from the evidence before us emerges a clear picture of how he presented the Gospel as well as the content of what he would say. His methods were consistent with how others have evangelized Muslims. His content is insightful though much of it is rightly predictable while his use of the Quran would meet with both supporters and detractors. In conclusion, the one thing that stands out, as in his writings for Christians, that Zwemer could say, like the Apostle Paul, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek [including the Muslim].” (Romans 1:16)
Arabian Mission. Field Report.
Arabian Mission. Neglected Arabia.
Arabian Mission. Quarterly Letters from the Field.
Christian Century Foundation. The Christian Century.
Jessup, Henry Harris. The Setting of the Crescent and the Rise of the Cross or Kamil Abdul Messiah: A Syrian Convert from Islam to Christianity. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1899.
Manela, Erez. “Friction from the Sidelines: Diplomacy, Religion and Culture in America-Egyptian Relations, 1919-1939” in The United States and the Middle East: Diplomatic and Economic Relations in Historical Perspective. Abbas Amanat, ed. New Haven: Yale Center for International and Area Studies Working Papers. 2000.
Missionaries to Muslims League. News and Notes.
Mott, John R. Addresses and Papers of John R. Mott, vol. I: The Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. New York: Association Press. 1946.
Mylrea, C. Stanley G. Kuwait Before Oil: Memoirs of Dr. C. Stanley G. Mylrea, written between 1945 and 1951. Private printing.
Nile Mission Press. Blessed Be Egypt.
Nile Mission Press. Points that Penetrate: Nile Mission Press Catalogue 1932. Cairo: The Nile Mission Press. 1932.
Parshall, Phil. New Paths in Muslim Evangelism: Evangelical Approaches to Contextualization. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. 1980.
Pierson, Delavan L., ed. The Missionary Review of the World
Reformed Church in America. The Christian Intelligencer.
Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. The Student Missionary Appeal. New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. 1898.
Swartley, Keith, ed. Encountering the World of Islam. Littleton, CO: Authentic. 2005.
Upson, Arthur T., ed. What God Hath Used: A Selection of Some 30 Translations. Tunbridge Wells, England: Nile Mission Press. no date.
Wikipedia (Arabic site). http://ar.wikipedia.org
 As of 1938, approximately two-thirds of the Arabian Mission force were recruited by Zwemer – see “Biographical Sketches,” Neglected Arabia, No. 182 (July-September 1938), p. 7. According to John R. Mott, “one of the principal developments which…explains the great increase in the number of sailed volunteers has been the creation of what is known as the Candidates Department…S.M. Zwemer consented to defer his return to the mission field for two or three years in order to help establish this department.” (Addresses and Papers of John R. Mott, vol. I: The Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. New York: Association Press, 1946; p. 123)
 J. Preston Searle, “Dr. Zwemer’s Removal to Cairo,” The Christian Intelligencer, Vol. LXXXIII, No. 28 (July 12, 1912), 445-446. J. Christy Wilson, Apostle to Islam: A Biography of Samuel M. Zwemer (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1952), 85.
 Zwemer is said to have written 50 books but this is not accurate. He authored, co-authored, edited, and co-edited about 45 hard-cover books. He wrote many more booklets, only some of which are considered part of his 50 books, which would bring the total to more than 50. The author of this article has an incomplete list of hundreds of his journal articles, and another incomplete list of over 70 different journals in which his articles appeared. Zwemer also wrote original material in Arabic including a number of tracts. None of this includes his books, articles and tracts that have been translated into other languages, nor his hundreds of book reviews in The Moslem World.
 “My rather extensive reading of Zwemer indicates that he engaged in little experimentation or innovation in areas of methodology.” See: Phil Parshall, New Paths in Muslim Evangelism: Evangelical Approaches to Contextualization (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 19. See Keith Swartley, ed., Encountering the World of Islam (Littleton, CO: Authentic, 2005) 311-312, 314-315 for a number of inaccurate statements about Zwemer.
 Erez Manela, “Friction from the Sidelines: Diplomacy, Religion and Culture in America-Egyptian Relations, 1919-1939” in The United States and the Middle East: Diplomatic and Economic Relations in Historical Perspective. Abbas Amanat, ed. (New Haven: Yale Center for International and Area Studies Working Papers, 2000), 39.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Editorial: The Printed Page” in The Moslem World, vol. VIII, no. 2 (April 1918), 113.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, The Cross Above the Crescent (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1941) 230-231.
 Wilson, 45.
 “I have no doubt but that true mission work might be carried on…if done in a quiet way through Bible distribution and medical work.” Samuel Zwemer, “On Both Sides of the Red Sea,” The Christian Intelligencer, Vol. LXII, No. 10 (March 11, 1891), 6.
 Arabian Mission Field Report, Number One (Jan. 1 – Apr. 1, 1892), 5.
 Samuel M. and Amy E. Zwemer, Topsy-Turvy Land: Arabia Pictured for Children (New York: Revell, 1902) 110-111.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, The Golden Milestone (New York: Revell, 1938), 111.
 literally in Arabic, the Land of the North, i.e. the Land of the Levant/Syria
 Zwemer, The Golden Milestone, 111-112.
 Zwemer, The Golden Milestone, 77.
 Henry Harris Jessup, The Setting of the Crescent and the Rise of the Cross or Kamil Abdul Messiah: A Syrian Convert from Islam to Christianity (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1899), 135-137.
 To the author’s knowledge, only 3 of these tracts have been translated into English. To date he has translated eleven of them into English.
 Nile Mission Press, Points that Penetrate: Nile Mission Press Catalogue 1932 (Cairo: The Nile Mission Press, 1932), page 11. Arthur T. Upson, ed., What God Hath Used: A Selection of Some 30 Translations (Tunbridge Wells, England: Nile Mission Press, no date), 51.
 See bibliography for a list of tract titles.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Comparative Religion for Moslems,” The Missionary Review of the World (vol. 26 New Series, October 1913): 727.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Through Eye Gate and Ear Gate to the Moslem Heart,” Blessed Be Egypt (vol. XV, no. 61, January 1915): 18.
 ibid. 17.
 ibid. 18. Comparative: 728.
 Wilson: 80
 ibid. 89-90.
 According to the Arabic Wikipedia website, under the entry for the Ninety-Nine Names of God in Arabic there are 277 total names in 15 different lists! Accessed March 1, 2011, http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%A3%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%A1_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%B3%D9%86%D9%89.
 Comparative: 729.
 Jessup: 96.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Bahrein,” The Arabian Mission: Quarterly Letters from the Field (no. 28, Oct. – Dec., 1898): 11, 13.
 Comparative: 728.
 At that time Muslims were generally more opposed to non-Muslims having a copy of the Quran. This is still the conviction of extremely devout Muslims.
 Upson: 72-80, passim.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Personal Dealing, the Great Missionary Method,” The Student Missionary Appeal (New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1898), 442-444, passim.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Mohammedan Apologetics or How to Meet Moslem Difficulties, and Carry the Gospel Message to the Moslem Heart,” News and Notes [Missionaries to Muslims League] (Series XII, No. 10, October 1924): 78.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Mohammedan Apologetics or How to Meet Moslem Difficulties, and Carry the Gospel Message to the Moslem Heart,” News and Notes [Missionaries to Muslims League] (Series XII, No. 11, November 1924): 88.
 Wilson, see caption for frontispiece opposite title page.
 C. Stanley G. Mylrea, Kuwait Before Oil: Memoirs of Dr. C. Stanley G. Mylrea, written between 1945 and 1951 (private printing), 17.
 Jesse R. Wilson, “One of a Kind,” The Christian Century (vol. LXXXIV, no. 21May 24, 1967): 687-688.
 Minnie W. Dykstra, “A Trip to the Mainland” Neglected Arabia (No. 104, Jan. – Mar. 1918): 12.
 Mylrea: 20.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, “Suggested Outlines for Preaching to Moslems in Mission Hospitals,” Blessed Be Egypt (January 1912): 32-36.
 Samuel M. and Amy E. Zwemer, Zigzag Journeys in the Camel Country (New York: Revell, 1911), frontispiece.
 Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Romans 3:21-26; 10:6-13, etc.
3) The “Insider Movement”: a Brief Overview and Analysis
by Khalil Ullah
An astounding phenomenon, though not exclusive to ministry to Muslims, is overtaking much missionary work among Muslims. A growing number of professing Christians involved in witness to Muslims are a part of what is called, “Insider Movements,” or the “Insider Movement.” This controversial approach to ministry has resulted in many of its proponents to affirm that Muhammad was a prophet from God, the Quran is at least partially-inspired Scripture, and it is possible for Muslims to retain their Muslim identity as “Muslim followers of Christ.” Such beliefs have resulted in radical practices such as professing Christians and former Muslims legally converting to Islam and the production of “Muslim-idiom translations” of the Bible that do not literally translate such words and phrases as “Son of God,” “Son of Man,” and “Son,” in reference to Jesus and “Father” in reference to God.
Another equally amazing aspect of this phenomenon is the relative ignorance of the Insider Movement among churches and individual Christians in the West, including those who pray for and financially support its proponents. This is especially striking when it may not be an exaggeration to say that every evangelical organization in witness to Muslims is affected in some way by the Insider Movement.
What is the Insider Movement?
According to definitions given by several proponents:
An insider movement is any movement to faith in Christ where the gospel flows through pre-existing communities and social networks, and where believing families, as valid expressions of faith in Christ, remain inside their socio-religious communities, retaining their identity as members of that community while living under the lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible.
You follow Jesus as a Hindu, as a Muslim, as a Buddhist, or as whatever other variety of socio-religious community you might be from.
The Insider Movement for Muslims is any approach in which Muslims are told that they can retain their Muslim identity and have saving faith in Jesus Christ. The premise is that this will allow such believers to remain “inside” their family and community and be witnesses to them. If such believers identify themselves as “Christians” it would most likely force them “outside” of their families and communities and cut off their ability to witness to them. Fouad Accad, a late director of the Bible Society of Lebanon, while not using the phrase “Insider Movement” in his book, Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam, nevertheless strongly advocates for this approach:
If a Muslim could trust Christ without alienating his family and friends, he could become a means within his own community to testify to them…Today there are Muslims trusting Christ in Muslim lands who do not consider that they have become "Christians" (the word has a political connotation to Muslims), but instead see themselves as having become truly Muslim (the word Muslim means "surrendered to God").
“Muslim-idiom Translations” of the Bible
Another important aspect of the Insider Movement is the rise of “Muslim-idiom translations” of the Bible. It may be argued that the initial idea for some of these “translations” was unrelated to the Insider Movement, but the two have since come to be closely allied.
These “translations” have appeared in audio, printed, and video versions of the Bible. The list of languages in which at least any portion of Scripture has incorporated such “muslim-idioms” and/or its guiding principles is growing. The author is aware of such “translations”, whether in part or in whole, in various dialects of Arabic, as well as in the Baluchi, Bengali, Dari, Indonesian, and Malay languages. Three very controversial aspects of such “idioms” have to do with:
- Replacing filial language (i.e. “Father”, “Son of God”, and “Son”)
- A non-literal translation of “Son of Man” in reference to Jesus Christ
- The use of Islamic honorifics (using Islamic titles for Jesus and other Biblical people that Muslims regard as “prophets”. This includes using “Master/Mister” prior to the name of Jesus, “the Prophet” prior to proper names like Moses, David, Solomon, etc. and using the phrase, “peace be upon him,” after the names of “prophets”)
In order for an approach or movement to be considered biblical it must be able to withstand the scrutiny of the Old and New Testaments. While the following is not a comprehensive list, looking at four of the foundational premises of the Insider Movement in light of Scripture will help us to arrive at a proper assessment:
- Insider Movement Premise: being an “insider” will result in witness to family and others in one’s community
Challenge: Witnessing is the result of obedience to God’s Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Consider some biblical reasons for witnessing:
- excitement about what Jesus has done for us (Mt. 9:30-31; Mk. 1:43-45; Mark 7:36-37; Lk. 5:14-15)
- the fear and love of God (2 Cor. 5:11-15)
- Jesus’ call to proclaim the Gospel (Mk. 3:13-14; Rom. 1:14-15; 1 Cor. 9:16)
- Jesus’ command to witness to everyone (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:45-48; Jn. 20:21)
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 24:49-49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4ff.)
Another consideration concerning witness is how Jesus, the Apostles, and first Christians (i.e. Jews) regarded their identity. Believers were taught and practiced baptism, which was a public identification of following Jesus (Jn. 4:1-2; Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38-41). They also met together for instruction (Acts 2:42-47). There was no known effort to highlight their being Jews in order to witness to unsaved family and friends. This is all the more remarkable when we remember that First-Century Jews faced similar pressures and persecution as do Muslims for following Jesus Christ.
- Insider Movement Premise: being an “insider” will result in acceptance of such a witness.
Challenge: Jesus’ teaching and experience while on earth was exactly the opposite of this premise: “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor” (Mt. 13:57). The people of His community wanted to kill him after He preached to them (Lk. 4:28-30), His family considered him mentally deranged (Mk. 3:21, 31-32), and his brothers did not believe in Him (Jn. 7:2-5). Consider the following passages from the Bible that stand in contrast to the above premise:
- Jesus promised that some will accept our witness while others will not (Jn. 15:20)
- Jesus promised to divide households (Mt. 10:34-39)
- in marriages where one spouse is a believer and the other is not, there is no guarantee that the witness of the believing spouse will result in the salvation of the unbelieving spouse (1 Cor. 7:16)
- Jesus told the Apostle Paul that the Jews (his community) would not receive his testimony and commanded him to go to the Gentiles (Acts 22:17-21)
It is impossible for any human to save the soul of another human. Redemption of the soul is the work of God (Ps. 49:6-9; Mt. 19:25-26) and the convincing work that leads a person to be saved is also the work of God, the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:6-11). This is not to minimize the role of witnessing but it does counter the false presupposition that remaining “inside” one's family and community guarantees acceptance of the “insider’s” witness.
- Insider Movement Premise: “Muslim” has no religious significance – it only refers to culture
Challenge: By assigning a new meaning to “Muslim” that Muslims themselves do not accept is at best disingenuous and at worst deceptive. The retention of “Muslim” as an identity is based on creating a double entendre in which it means one thing for “Muslim followers of Christ” but another for “regular” Muslims who properly understand the term to mean an adherent of Islam which includes the belief and confession that Muhammad is the final prophet of God and that the Quran is God’s Word. The Bible is very clear regarding the importance of truth and honesty:
- God does not lie and cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18)
- Jesus, God incarnate, is the Truth (Jn. 14:6)
- Satan is the father of lies, not God (Jn. 8:44)
- Believers are to “put off” lying and tell the truth (Eph. 4:25)
- 2 Cor. 4:2 - Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
- Insider Movement Premise: Filial language (i.e. “Father” and “Son”) and the phrases “Son of God” and “Son of Man” are not divinely inspired terms that must be literally translated.
Challenge: If the Bible is divinely inspired (2 Tim. 3:15-16) so that even the use of a word in its singular form (e.g. “seed” in Gal. 3:16) points to Jesus, how much more three of the most important designations of our Lord: “Son,” “Son of God,” and “Son of Man”? Jesus' use of different names and titles for Himself is consistent with God's self-disclosure through different names in the Old Testament. If these three designations can be substituted with other words and phrases ultimately these terms are superfluous to understanding the Person of Jesus. Consider the significance of the following:
at Jesus’ birth (Lk. 1:32)
at Jesus’ baptism (Mt. 3:17)
the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:5)
a clear claim to divinity (Jn. 5:16-26; 10:24-39)
in the Trinitarian baptismal formula (Mt. 28:19)
in Old Testament prophecies of Jesus (Ps. 2:12; Is. 9:6)
- “Son of God”:
at Jesus’ birth (Lk. 1:35)
even Satan and demons recognized this fact about Jesus (Mt. 4:3ff; 8:29)
was Peter’s great confession of faith (Mt. 16:16)
the primary conclusion that people must come to about Jesus in order to be considered believers (Jn. 20:31)
Old Testament revelation concerning the Creator’s nature (Pr. 30:4)
- “Son of Man”:
Jesus’ most-used title for Himself
Old Testament phrase referring to humanity (Num. 23:19; Ps. 8:4; Ez. 2:1, et. al.)
Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah (Dan. 7:13; Mt. 26:64)
Provides a linguistic “parallel” by which to help understand “Son of God”
the only way Jesus addressed God in prayer with the exception of His quoting Ps. 22:1 while on the cross
the way believers should address God in prayer (Mt. 6:9)
the way God desires to relate to people (Mt. 5:45;
Prodigal Son: Lk. 15:11-32)
points to the believer’s intimacy with God (Rom. 8:15; 2
Cor. 6:18; Gal. 4:6)
points to the unity and intimacy between God the Father and Jesus the Son (Mt. 11:27; Jn. 1:18; 10:30; 17:21)
in the Trinitarian baptismal formula (Mt. 28:19)
The goal of any Bible translation must be faithfulness to the original texts. To “translate” according to an audience’s sensibilities, real or perceived, changes the focus from conveying the Author’s intent to what pleases people – a very slippery slope indeed!
Many individuals within reputed evangelical missions organizations, publications, and programs involving denominations and para-church ministries have been promoting “Insider Movements” as both a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit among Muslims as well as a biblical method of culturally-sensitive or contextualized way of effectively ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims. In light of the Bible’s teaching, some of the foundational premises of the Insider Movement are seen to be in error. Ultimately, the Bible does not allow for retaining any identity that conflicts with one's commitment to Jesus Christ. Jesus made it very clear that commitment to Himself takes precedence over all other affections and identities (see Mt. 10:32-39; Lk. 14:25-35). The Insider Movement, regardless of intent, is a syncretistic approach that is biblically untenable. A great missionary to Muslims, Samuel Zwemer, wisely observed, and with which we conclude:
"A passion for Moslem souls does not mean that we are to compromise or to conciliate at any price. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”
 Becky Lewis, “Promoting Movements to Christ Within Natural Communities,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (24:2 Summer 2007): p. 75.
 H.L. Richard, moderator, “Unpacking the Insider Paradigm: An Open Discussion on Points of Diversity,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (26:4 Winter 2009): p. 176.
 Fouad Elias Accad, Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), 8.
 Samuel Zwemer, “Father, the Hour Has Come, Glorify Thy Son,” How Rich the Harvest, (New York: Revell, 1948), 118.