PCA Overture #9

What would you say if someone told you that, to avoid offense, all references to Jesus as the Son of God were to be removed from the Bible? After all, the only way that Muslims can understand such a reference is if God the Father had sexual relations with someone and produced an offspring. Such a movement has started, and has been going on for a while now. It’s called the Insider Movement. They want to remove the offense of the cross and of Jesus in order to “reach out” to Muslims. Here’s a By Faith article on the movement and why the Potomac Presbytery has overtured GA concerning this matter, and here is an excellent article by David Garner, a professor of Systematic Theology at WTS Philly, and here is a video showing some of the problems by means of witnesses, for introductory material related to this movement. I would say that this is definitely something that we need to consider, especially for any missionaries we have in Muslim areas, both as to how they address Muslims concerning Jesus, and how they interact with other missionaries who might be tempted in this direction.

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16 Comments

  1. Stuart said,

    April 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    The first man in the video is Rev. Ayub, founder and moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh. As a former Muslim, and as one who ministers within a Muslim context, Ayub knows what he is talking about. The Insider Movement is not good contextualization. It is an attack on the faith in the guise of contextualization.

    I look forward to seeing this issue brought before GA.

  2. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    What a difference a letter makes. I read it twice as “Potomac Presbytery has overturned GA” on this matter … which made me read it a third time!

  3. Eileen said,

    April 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I read most of the articles and watched the video, and they make me wonder yet again at the missiological craziness generated by Fuller. And that’s saying something since we lost some dear friends to Third Wave theology when that was the new thing. This is not contextualization of the gospel; it is corruption of the gospel. This is not translation of Scripture; it is adding to and subtracting from Scripture what the Holy Spirit has inspired.

    The gospel is an offense to every unbeliever, and it is impossible to make it otherwise. Just about every point of offense to Muslims could be applied to Jews in a similar fashion. Yet the Apostle Paul did not compromise the gospel to fit the sensibilities of his audience, whether Jew or Gentile. He proclaimed the truth, not what they wanted or expected to hear. How can the Insiders pretend to know more about missiology than the one who should be their teacher and model?

  4. Eileen said,

    April 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Forgot to say that it seems to me that there is a big difference between attempting to make the gospel or all of Scripture *understandable* and attempting to make it *acceptable.* The former is proper contextualization, in my opinion, while the latter may well result in corruption.

  5. April 14, 2011 at 2:53 am

    This is just the latest example of why so many of the older people I talk to in the OPC say that the OPC dodged a major bullet when the Joining and Receiving effort to merge the OPC and the PCA fell through back in the 1970s. Water down the gospel for Muslims? I think not!

  6. David Gray said,

    April 14, 2011 at 5:59 am

    >>This is just the latest example of why so many of the older people I talk to in the OPC say that the OPC dodged a major bullet when the Joining and Receiving effort to merge the OPC and the PCA fell through back in the 1970s.

    Amen.

  7. stuart said,

    April 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Richard,

    This is just the latest example of why so many of the older people I talk to in the OPC say that the OPC dodged a major bullet when the Joining and Receiving effort to merge the OPC and the PCA fell through back in the 1970s. Water down the gospel for Muslims? I think not!

    Where did you get the idea the PCA as a whole is watering down the gospel for Muslims? If you read the By Faith article and the Overture from Potomac Presbytery you’ll see arguments against the Insider Movement. In fact, the By Faith article notes that MTW (the PCA’s missions organization) is an exception to the way the Insider movement is sweeping through missions to Muslims. There may be ignorance on our part about the Insider Movement (which this Overture will hopefully cure), and there may be churches supporting missionaries not knowing those missionaries are influenced by the Insider Movement (that’s possible in any denomination), but I don’t think the Insider Movement is something we actively support. Nor will it gain much (if any) ground once the word is out about it. The PCA has it’s problems (believe me, I know), but supporting the Insider Movement ain’t one of ‘em.

  8. Scott Seaton said,

    April 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

    As the one who initially introduced the overture, I’d like to respond to the post that said “This is just the latest example of why so many of the older people I talk to in the OPC say that the OPC dodged a major bullet when the Joining and Receiving effort to merge the OPC and the PCA fell through back in the 1970s”. As was made clear in the ByFaith article, MTW is NOT using these translations. My concern, frankly, is that churches (in the PCA and beyond) are unaware of these initiatives and may unknowingly be supporting them, if they support other agencies working among Muslims. Sadly, some well-known agencies have begun to adopt these practices, and if so, their missionaries tend not to highlight this to their supporters. Churches will have to educate themselves and ask pointed questions, beyond looking at the agency’s statement of faith that affirms the deity of Christ. You have to ask, “are you using or endorsing translations that remove familial language from the text?” In part, that’s what the overture is intended to do: to educate. But beyond that, no denomination to my knowledge has spoken into this issue. It is properly an issue of the Church, and I’m grateful the PCA is taking this up, and actually has an opportunity to lead. The PCA has a long history of faithfully proclaiming the gospel to Muslims, long before I oversaw the ministry, and my sincere hope is that we will only increase our commitment in the years ahead.

  9. Reed Here said,

    April 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Richard and David, dittos to Stuart’s statement. Chide the PCA for its failings, not for failings of others. This is not one of our failings. (I’m used to OPC men being more circumspectly careful; c’mon guys :-) .)

  10. April 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Well, perhaps I read a little too quickly and didn’t pick up on the nuances. Still, though, issues like this tend to affect the PCA more often than they do the OPC (and let me be the first to say that the OPC is not perfect, by any means). Perhaps it’s a case of the PCA being such a huge denomination (in comparison with other conservative Reformed denominations) that there are more cracks through which weird things might fall. Here’s hoping that the upper reaches of the PCA will execute due diligence regarding this whole issue.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    April 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I saw this as something that the PCA may encounter at some point, and this overture is an effort to head it off at the pass before it can gain any traction, per Scott Seaton’s comment above. I say kudos to Scott for being pro-active on this one. Lots of issues aren’t dealt with until they’re a major problem.

  12. Jeffrey Waddington said,

    April 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I would like to say as an OPC minister that it matters not who first discovers a problem like the Insider Movement but that we inform our sister denominations when we have done due diligence. If my brother or sister in the PCA spots this problem first I would appreciate this being shared and this is what has been done. I would hope we in the OPC would return the favor.

    This movement is a problem and it needs to be dealt with.

  13. Reed Here said,

    April 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Amen Jeff. Thanks!

  14. David Harriman said,

    April 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I am not a PCA member (I am Conservative Baptist) but I comment Scott Seaton and the Potomac Presbytery for introducing Overture #9. For 18 years I served as director of development/director of advancement with Frontiers, and can confirm that insider missiology and Muslim-idiom translations of the Bible are a HUGE issue in missions today. Insider missiology is built on the highly- debated interpretation of 8-12 narrative passages of Scripture. Many prominent (and less prominent) believers from a Muslim background are strongly opposed, and in fact see this as a sort of Western missiological imperialism.

  15. David Harriman said,

    April 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Correcting my typo – I meant that I “commend” (not “comment”) Scott Seaton and the Potomac Presbytery for introducing Overture #9.

  16. April 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Amen to Reed’s Amen of Jeff!


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