The Insider Movement and the Word-Concept Fallacy

Debate was rather heated in the PCA General Assembly this year over a motion to include a statement to the effect of saying that the Muslims and the Christians worship the same God. It is usually felt by people who believe this that such a statement can be an effective bridge for evangelism to Muslims. They will also usually state the obvious, that the Arabic word for God is Allah, and so Arabic translations have the word “Allah” in the Bible. Therefore they have the same God that we do.

There are a number of serious problems with this line of reasoning. Firstly, the implication of such a statement is that the Trinity is not central to the Christian idea of God, but is an optional add-on. Folks, are we really willing to say that about the Trinity? That it is optional? I would think Athanasius would be rolling in his grave at the suggestion.

Secondly, the argument from the word “Allah” commits the word-concept fallacy. This fallacy happens when someone claims that because a word is present, therefore a particular concept is also present. In this case, the argument states that because we both use the same word for God in Arabic, that therefore we both pour the same meaning into the word. This is not a legitimate move. I can use the word “lie” to mean a falsehood. Just because someone else uses the word “lie” to mean recline does not mean that we have the same definition of the word “lie.” Now, it is a little more complicated than that with the example of “God,” because some things that Muslims believe about God resemble some things that Christians believe about God, whereas there is no overlap at all between “falsehood” and “recline.” Still, it remains true that Muslims and Christians mean something very different by the name “God.” I have no problem at all with Arabic translations using the name “Allah” for “God.” We do not argue about words, but about the meaning of those words.

I would argue that this very difference is an evangelistic tool. Why tell a Muslim something that we are just going to have to retract later on? The situation reminds me of the mentality of the seeker-sensitive movement, which winds up dumbing down the message of Christianity in the interests of getting them in the door. The problem is that they don’t stay in the door, because there is nothing very different between the church and the world. It is the worship that is extremely different from anything the world has that actually perks up people’s interest, to the point of them saying, “Why is this different? What do they have that I don’t have?” Similarly with Muslims, I do not believe it is helpful to start out by saying something that is grossly misleading at best, and heretical at worst. It is far better to tell them of the love of Jesus Christ, and to keep on directing them there. The love of God and the grace that Christianity offers in the Gospel is a far more effective evangelism tool.

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56 Comments

  1. Bryan Cross said,

    June 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Lane,

    Firstly, the implication of such a statement is that the Trinity is not central to the Christian idea of God, but is an optional add-on. Folks, are we really willing to say that about the Trinity? That it is optional? I would think Athanasius would be rolling in his grave at the suggestion.

    If not believing the Trinity “implies” not believing the same God, then necessarily Jews worship a different God than do Christians. And that’s Marcionism, and thus a reductio of the premise.

    Just because there is such a thing as the word/concept fallacy doesn’t mean there is no such thing as the concept/referent fallacy. That is, just as difference in word does not entail difference in concept, so difference in concept does not entail difference in referent.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  2. Joel S said,

    June 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I think it is helpful in this discussion to recognize a distinction between referent and worship. For example, the story from Genesis 22 of Abraham and his son is also present in the Qur’an (most Muslims believe it was Ishmael, but that isn’t in the Qur’an. The other details are the same).

    When I talk about that story with a Muslim, can I really say that we are not referring to the same historical Being? Can we really say, “I know we’re talking about the same story of an event that happened in history, but when you talk about it, you’re talking about a different god.” That seems to me to be an untenable position.

    However, I do not believe that means that we worship the same God. That is, God can only be worshiped through Christ. The true God exists in three persons, and the one who denies that cannot be worshiping him, for he has taken the true God and twisted him into something else.

    Holding those two points together, in my opinion, resolves a lot of the tension, and it also helps us understand the similar situation with Jews. They refer to the same Being who acted in history, but they do not worship him through Christ.

    You may be interested in a review I wrote two years ago of Miroslav Volf’s book on this very issue.

  3. Bryan Cross said,

    June 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Lane,

    I would argue that this very difference is an evangelistic tool. Why tell a Muslim something that we are just going to have to retract later on?

    It seems to me that your objection does too much, because it goes against St. Paul’s way of approaching the Athenians, when he said, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it ….” (Acts 17:23-24). If the God whom the Athenians worshiped through the concept of “unknown” was in actuality the same God St. Paul worshiped, then there was no need to retract his statement later on. Likewise, if the God whom Muslims worship through the concept provided by the Quran is the same God we worship through the revelation provided by Christ, then we do not have to retract later the claim that they worship the same God we do. The errors in their concept of God do not entail that the referent must be different than the referent of our concept of God. And for St. Paul, the common referent provided a point of common ground at which to begin evangelism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  4. June 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Jews in the 1st Century and today do worship a different God than Christians. Because God is Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. The Jews do not believe this, thus they worship a different God. This is handled quite well by Jesus Himself in John’s Gospel.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    June 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Bryan, the question then comes down to what one means by the word “different.” We have a different concept of God, that much is evident. If by “referent” you mean that, say, what the Jews mean by “God” we mean when we say “God the Father,” I could perhaps agree with that, except that the “Fatherhood” of God is so closely related to the filiation of the Son, that an exact equation seems rather difficult.

  6. Mark B said,

    June 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Bryan

    ” if the God whom Muslims worship through the concept provided by the Quran is the same God we worship through the revelation provided by Christ”
    I must disagree if you are saying that the god of the Quran and the God of the Bible are the same (you said if, what do you believe? is he or isn’t he?).
    The point you derive from the passage you quoted in Acts is not the point that we are to derive. The Athenians had an alter to an unknown god to make sure they hadn’t forgotten to appease one. Paul, realizing that the Athenians are open to the idea that there are gods that they have not heard of, uses that as a starting point to begin a conversation, and them immediately begins to tell them about God by describing his attributes. He is not saying that “the God whom the Athenians worshiped through the concept of “unknown” was in actuality the same God St. Paul worshiped”. If this were so, he would not have had to tell them about God, they would already know it.

  7. didymusmartin said,

    June 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    A rose by any other name is still a rose, but God is not a rose, just as Allah and Yahweh are not the same. Yahweh is the living God; the other is an idol.

  8. Anne Ivy said,

    June 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    What happened to the motion? Was the statement included?

  9. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Lane: having heard the floor disagreement (not fair to call it a debate), and having read some of the under lying materials, I’m not persuaded that it was all cut and dried at GA on this subject.

    For sure, I do not believe the father presenting the minority report committed the word-concept fallacy. He DID offer a confused apologetic that was rather unfortunately worded (an observation Paul Gilchrist made). I think this is found in Attachment 4 to the IM Minority Report.

    Reading him most charitably, given his heritage, I think he would agree completely that:

    > While Muslims and (some?) Middle Eastern Christians have a history of using the same Arabic word for supreme deity, Allah,
    > Each group most certainly means something completely different in their conception of who this supreme deity is.

    In other words, while both might use the same word, both know full well that they DO NOT mean the same thing. I think an analogy here might be the Mormons calling Jesus Christ Lord. Like us they mean this as a reference to Jesus’ deity. Yet their concept of deity is so far different than ours as to say that our usages DO NOT have anything in common other than spelling. One’s uses is decidedly blasphemous idolatry (i.e., the Mormons, lest anyone think I’m slipping :) ).

    The father who offered the IM Minority Report is fourth generation Egyptian Presbyterian, driven out of his homeland (Egypt) because of the clarity of his witness. I.e., whenever he used the word Allah (the historic practice in his church community) NO Muslim thought he meant even mildly the same thing as them in their use of the same word. In their opinion this brother’s use of Allah was a blasphemous expression of idolatry. Hence their affront whenever he prayed to Allah a practice in his community possible going back before Islam.

    All this to observe, I think the discussion went off the rails due to some poor wording in the IM Minority Report AND some inflexibility on the part of a few others who for various reasons heard more than was said.

    That being said, I’m not persuaded that using Allah for the Christian concept of God is all that advisable. Or better, it seems that there is some strong anecdotal evidence to suggest in some Muslim communities (those without a historic Christian presence predating Islam?) use of Allah is strongly unadvisable.

    There are other things in the IM Minority Report that may be worth considering. However, the Majority Report (part 1 last year, part 2 this year) are compelling in and of themselves. While they may not express ALL the humility some might wish (i.e., those supporting the Minority Report), this is not due to some arrogant unwillingness to listen carefully to differing opinions. Dr. David Garner and his Committee are to be commended for their hard work, and prayed for in their work now on the recommittal.

  10. June 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Reed, very helpful, and generous, analysis. Your view was largely mine as well.

  11. Hugh McCann said,

    June 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Bryan #2 – Wrong, buddy. Paul was not telling Athenian idolaters that they [truly] worshiped the right God wrongly. Such is impossible.

    Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, ‘Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’

    Agreeing essentially with Mark B in #5.

    Paul told them that they didn’t know the one true God. They were not worshiping the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, they worshiped the unknown. Paul gave them essential doctrinal definition & content. He used “worship” in a general sense, not that they knew God, for they certainly didn’t and could not apart from the gospel! That was Paul’s whole purpose. Not merely to give them “more” info, but to give them the gospel necessary for salvation.

    If the God whom the Athenians worshiped through the concept of “unknown” was in actuality the same God St. Paul worshiped, then there was no need to retract his statement later on.

    True if possible, but, by necessity, there could be nothing dogmatic said or known about an unknown deity. By definition, there can be no doctrine of an “unknown.”

    Likewise, if the God whom Muslims worship through the concept provided by the Quran is the same God we worship through the revelation provided by Christ, then we do not have to retract later the claim that they worship the same God we do.

    But such is not the case! These are not ignorant Athenians bowing to a shrine of the Unknown. This are devishly inspired idolaters worshiping a very specific demon-god.

    Much more applicable are our Lord’s words to the Jewish unbelievers in John 8:44 ~ Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

  12. Hugh McCann said,

    June 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Not surprising is any confusion from Bryan Cross.

    Departing from the truth, falling from grace, he and CTC are hopelessly confused about the Bible, the gospel, etc. How can we expect the unconverted to begin to understand conversion?

    To be expected are their bizarre understandings of evangelism and apologetics. John 8:44.

    2nd Peter saith, 17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

  13. Hugh McCann said,

    June 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    That’s 2 Peter 2:17-end.
    Thank you.

  14. Hugh McCann said,

    June 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Allah as a proper name is inadmissible. As such, it is idolatrous.

    We must speak of the god of Islam, or the allah of Islam if you will, in distinction from the God of the Bible, our God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    In short, we need to teach biblical content to biblical words and concepts.

    Ever since 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1, it is NOT o.k. for Naaman to go bow in the house of Rimmon (2 Kings 5:15-19).

    As Jesus said, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. [Mark 8]

  15. Andrew McCallum said,

    June 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Reed (#7),

    That being said, I’m not persuaded that using Allah for the Christian concept of God is all that advisable. Or better, it seems that there is some strong anecdotal evidence to suggest in some Muslim communities (those without a historic Christian presence predating Islam?) use of Allah is strongly unadvisable.

    I may be misunderstanding you here, but I’m not sure what the alternative is. For Arabic speaking Christians in countries where there was a Christian presence before Islam, what Arabic word should these people use to describe the one true God in cases where we would utilize the word “God” or Greek texts would use the word “Theos?”

  16. CD-Host said,

    June 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I’d say the difference goes beyond the trinity. Islam’s god doesn’t permit any positive statements to be made about him. God is triune is not the only thing that is rejected.
    God is good.
    God is faithful.
    God is just.
    God is jealous.
    etc… are all fundamentally not true.

    Allah (in Islam) doesn’t have a human understandable essence he has attributes. To even talk about his substance as per the trinitarian doctrine is idolatry in Islam. They aren’t just rejecting that the trinity is true they are rejecting that something like the trinity could ever be true.

    _____

    So the question really boils down to what does it mean to worship the same God? If I talked to someone 1000 years ago who believed the Sun rotated around the earth and was a small ball of heat and light do we mean the same thing by “Sun”? I’d argue we do even though we disagree on the properties.

    I think Bryan is right in his qualification. To say that two people are talking about the same thing does not require that they agree on the properties of that thing. When my daughter was young she used to think roller coasters were airplanes. Her disagreement with me about the properties of motion for a roller coaster doesn’t stop me from knowing what she was talking about when she pointed at one.

    ______

    As for what’s the most effective evangelical tool for Muslims I don’t know. Christianity has a 1300 year history of failure when it comes to conversion of Muslims. I’d like to see some good data, if anything works. If I had to guess I’d say the best evangelical pitch are:

    a) Divinity of Jesus and sola fide (muslims do seem to respond well to sola fide)
    b) Very little financial corruption for Evangelicals (comparatively)
    c) No history of religious violence / forced conversion (many muslims are tired/disgusted by the violence)

    My personal experience is that converts from Islam are attracted to Liberal Christianity more than Evangelical Christianity but mostly those converts don’t believe anything anymore, don’t want to be openly atheist because they value the social aspects of religion particularly a moderate brand.

  17. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Andrew, no. 15: my demurring is not by way of denying your observation. Frankly, I ask the same question.

    Instead, it is an offer of humility that I don’t have enough information. For example, in addition to the brother who brought the Minority Report, there were at least two other brothers who spoke with some first-hand credibility. Both likewise had first-hand Muslim experience background. Both these brothers strongly objected to the use of Allah as a word for the Bible’s God.

    Respect for them causes me to demur. I’d much rather ask them such questions and see: 1) what they think are the issues here, and 2) what are the other options.

  18. Mark said,

    June 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Reed,

    It is David Garner, not “Duane Garner”.

    Also, the minority report argued that Allah and YHWH share most of the same attributes. That statement is completely false, and would ruin our doctrine of God. So, apart from the Allah = God, the minority report suffered several major flaws.

    Mark

  19. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Mark: first correction, thanks. Second correction, I disagree. You’re equating is over-stating, even what the Minority Report is getting at when it says that there is a (surface) correspondence between some (not all) attributes.

    And please, no posting of selective quotes. Simply refer people to read Attachment 4 of the Minority Report for themselves. The brother’s points, in context, offer some injudicious language. Yet he is NOT saying that the Muslim concept of deity is essential or even effectively the same as the Christian. On the contrary, with you and I he strongly disagrees with any such conception.

  20. Ron said,

    June 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Regarding #3, it’s one thing for the apostle to appeal in Acts 17 to the “unknown God” and quite another thing to appeal to a god who is defined as not triune or personal. In other words, to appeal to things true of God is not anything like appealing to a definition of God that positively opposes him by definition. Accordingly, I don’t think that Paul would have said that the Jews who crucified Christ (i.e. rejected his deity) worshipped the God of Abraham – who was Christ, the great I Am. In the like manner, Muslims also reject the Lord and the Trinity. Their definition of God excludes the living God. Thankfully, at least they realize they don’t worship the God we worship.

  21. Mark B said,

    June 22, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    @16 CD You said:

    “So the question really boils down to what does it mean to worship the same God? If I talked to someone 1000 years ago who believed the Sun rotated around the earth and was a small ball of heat and light do we mean the same thing by “Sun”? I’d argue we do even though we disagree on the properties.”

    I’m not sure the analogy works. You both see the same thing in the sky and agree on applying the label sun to it, but a small ball of heat and light orbiting the earth is in no way similar to what science has told us about the properties of the sun (even though some of those properties include heat and light). However, with God, we do not see him the same way we see the sun, we know him by his attributes (for Christians, as defined in the Bible, for Muslims as defined in the Koran). So, if we are “seeing” God by his attributes and we ascribe different attributes to him, how can we both be looking at the same thing?

  22. civbert said,

    June 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I’d be curious to know how Muslims use the world allah. Would they say something to the effect – the Christian allah is not our allah (replacing the English with Arabic)? Would they say something like, some people worship false allahs? In other words, is “allah” in Arabic simple the same word as “god” is in English. We use god to have many meanings depending on the context. We may be referring to the god of scripture (the triune god), or false gods, or the god of the old testament that the Jews worshiped. So do Arabic speaking Muslims use allah in the same manner? If so, what objection is there to using allah to refer to the Christian (triune) god when one is speaking Arabic?

    BTW: I intentionally used a lower case with god only to demonstrate the point that the word god has many meanings in English, no disrespect to God was intended.

    I know there is more to it than this. There was some confusing statement made that seemed to imply that Arabs worship the same God as Christians, but I don’t think that was the intention. I could be wrong. I only caught the tail end of the debate.

  23. civbert said,

    June 22, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    PS: Is there an alternative word for god other than allah in Arabic?

  24. Ron said,

    June 22, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    So, if we are “seeing” God by his attributes and we ascribe different attributes to him, how can we both be looking at the same thing?

    Mark,

    If you ascribe to God the attribute of love and another ascribes to God the attribute of holiness both of you can be predicating about the same God. Whereas Jews and Muslims positively reject that God became man. The watershed is not that we ascribe different attributes but that we ascribe opposing ones.

  25. civbert said,

    June 22, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    PPS: Could somebody point me to the document that was the at issue. I’d like to read it in context.

  26. Mark B said,

    June 22, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    @22 Ron
    Yes, of course. By different I meant opposing or opposite, or even better, incompatible. I thought that was obvious from the context. Sorry for the confusion.

  27. June 22, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    […] see anything wrong here so why should you?” (For a substantive presentation of both sides, go here). The supporters of the Minority Report can search their souls as surely as the men who spoke in […]

  28. CD-Host said,

    June 23, 2013 at 6:41 am

    @Mark #21

    However, with God, we do not see him the same way we see the sun, we know him by his attributes (for Christians, as defined in the Bible, for Muslims as defined in the Koran). So, if we are “seeing” God by his attributes and we ascribe different attributes to him, how can we both be looking at the same thing?

    Muslims and Christians do agree on many unique attributes of God.

    God of Abraham
    Creator of the Universe
    Source of life
    God of the angels
    The God whose finger cut the decalogue
    etc…

    So the discussion comes down to how much agreement on attributes is needed. I assume less than 100%? There are agreed to properties.

    I don’t know there is that much of a difference. Moreover we could even make the sun things worse. For example I could define the sun as not including its upper layer and then say we know the sun by secondary effects of the light emitted by the atmosphere of the top of the 6 layers. I don’t think you would want to change anything and say that someone who didn’t include the upper layer was talking about an entirely different sun.

    _____

    Ultimately I don’t think this is a well defined question. Saying that two people are talking about the same thing means they form a social agreement to refer to the same thing. Like I did with my daughter on those low flying airplanes (rollercoasters) she found so exciting. The fact that she was using the word “airplanes” means that we had to be disagreeing about many properties but as a matter of social convention we both believed each other to be talking about the same “airplanes”.

    As I think about it, this might ultimately be just social convention. It can’t be answered definitely but it is a question of that individuals answer in the moment.

    I’ve heard Conservative Reformed argue that the trinity is so fundamental that even modalists are worshipping a different God. And as I mentioned above the Muslim God is a God for whom not only is the trinity not true but one for whom the trinity could not possibly be true. On the other hand, God in the bible does use “God as Abraham” as a unique identifier which defines him.

  29. didymusmartin said,

    June 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

    One can find much common ground for men concerning the Immutable One of General Revelation, which leaves no man with an excuse. In the mission field it is not uncommon to find as Paul did statues raised up to this un-named god. In 1Kings 18 thou, as Elijah and King Ahab are my witness, the One True God is an all consuming fire. The prophets of Allah may one day see the truth as did the 400 prophets of King Ahab.

    Cardinal Dolen and the Reformed Prophets of Allah believe that,
    Omnia vincit verus amor, …… but love is only one attribute of the Creator of the Universe. Special Revelation reveals only one name under heaven which can save man. Vengence is mine….sayeth the Writer of the First Commandment.

  30. didymusmartin said,

    June 23, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Christ said to the Samaritans,….”You do not know who you worship.” Muslim convertors to Christianity have heard the same voice as Saul of Tarsus heard before his name became Paul….there are many name fallacies.

  31. jasonpopejr said,

    June 23, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Reblogged this on Farm Family SC and commented:
    Helpful insight from TE Lane Keister, aka “greenbaggins,” on the Insider Movement presented at the 41st PCA General Assembly

  32. Ron said,

    June 23, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Mark @ 26,

    Great – I was trying to help you along. Take the analogy of the sun for instance. As man becomes more illuminated (no pun intended) in his understanding of the sun he still can talk about the same sun as those in centuries past. Accordingly, CD’s analogy of the sun is flawed because, in keeping with the analogy, Muslims so to speak are predicating that the sun includes essential properties that it doesn’t actually possess, and they predicate the sun doesn’t possess attributes it in fact does possess. This is nothing like predicating new truths about the sun that are not at odds with old truths, but I’ll let you argue your own case. :)

  33. Joel S said,

    June 23, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Civbert (comments 22 and 23),

    To answer your question:

    The indefinite word for “a god” in Arabic is “ilah.” The plural for “gods” is “aliha.” All Arab Christians use “allah” to refer to God (it is in Arabic translations from the 1800s, the late 20th century, and the 21st century), and they used it long before the 600s.

  34. didymusmartin said,

    June 23, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    @civbert #25

    Here are all the reports: all 230 pages

    http://byfaithonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2101-Ad-Interim-Rept-with-Minority-Report.pdf

  35. didymusmartin said,

    June 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    the minority report begins on page 2265 of above document

  36. michael said,

    June 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Yep, direct, not watered down, straightforward and cutting the Gospel was for me and will be for everyone who is Elect of God who for the first time hears the Gospel too! I am sure there are more Elect out there who don’t know it but will when they hear the Gospel as each of us has?

    These were the slicing Words that pricked my heart and soul:

    She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 ESV)

    I read those words and instantly knew I was found by Him, that I was one of His people and that I was now on my way home!

    Never thought it would take so long now living daily for the glory of The Lord 40 years!

    If He doesn’t show up soon I will be passing away! Wait! That doesn’t sound to bad of an option either! This salvation is nearer to me than when I first believed.

  37. michael said,

    June 23, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Just now going through the comments.

    Hugh, excellent responses in refuting Bryan!

    Paul called the Athenians religious “worshipers” and then gives them the Truth! What’s interesting to note, for me, is how that chapter ends with some being converted “believing” the Truth Paul proclaimed to them all! That’s how it has been for me. I give them all the message and God touches the heart of His Elect leaving the non-elect confused in the dark about the Light:

    Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:32-34 ESV)

  38. michael said,

    June 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    CD host,

    Not sure I can amen you there?

    From my experience with evangelizing Muslims, I found they are very open to the Gospel when they are in a neutral country like Sweden where we preached openly in the public arena! It was the Muslims living there from their more repressive countries that stayed and discussed this wonderful good message they were hearing when most of the unbelieving Swedes just moved along after stopping and listening to the Gospel being preached!

    Tyranny is an effective tool and quite persuasive in keeping this little light of mine from not shining when looking down the barrel of a Russian made AK 47!

  39. didymusmartin said,

    June 23, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    John encourages Christians in Revelation to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel message through their suffering and martyrdom which is the basic theology of radical Muslims.

    .. It appears that martyrdom trumps tyranny… especially ias in the case of the Apostle John when you can recruit others to face the martyrdom in your stead.

    …. also…..The AK47 [as the iPhone] has exclusively been produced and exported from China since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  40. David Grissen said,

    June 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Yes, a complicated issue related to Muslims. But because there are over 1.2 billion of them in the world and growing, it surely behooves us to think about how to reach them, and to also ask if we understand their perspective on God as well. Isn’t it true that often theology and praxis are not hand in glove.
    It would seem that when anyone says they worship God, they are packing into that “concept” whatever ideas they have of God to-date, and that includes the Christian as well.
    And isn’t it also true that not too many people accept God through Christ with a well-thought out and accepted concept of the Trinity when they accept Him — unless they’ve grown up in a Trinitarian church and it’s part of the concept from the onset.
    So I’m not sure that the common ground of saying the Muslims believe in the same God as us is too off base — it’s just not an informed biblical concept. It seems that life in Christ wherever and however it starts is always an educational issue, a discipling issue, of bringing someone who is actually believing in God as they understand Him now, into a fuller, more biblical understanding of who He really is as time goes on. And which of us would be so bold as to say we totally understand all of whom God is before we are in our eternal home? And even then . . .?

  41. CD-Host said,

    June 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    @michael #38

    From my experience with evangelizing Muslims, I found they are very open to the Gospel when they are in a neutral country like Sweden where we preached openly in the public arena! It was the Muslims living there from their more repressive countries that stayed and discussed this wonderful good message they were hearing when most of the unbelieving Swedes just moved along after stopping and listening to the Gospel being preached!

    Interesting. Like I said I’ve rarely heard of much success at all. So that’s good to hear. How many baptisms per minister / missionary were you doing in Sweden?

  42. michael said,

    June 23, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    CD-Host,

    None.

  43. David Grissen said,

    June 23, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    For a record of success in a more insider way, check out the book by City Teams, Miraculous Movements. A wonderful, inspiring read.

  44. Hugh McCann said,

    June 24, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Michael @37,

    Thank you for your kind words. Such are rarely directed at me, so your cup of cold water is all the more appreciated!

  45. Jim said,

    June 24, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Ref Bryan Cross: “If not believing the Trinity “implies” not believing the same God, then necessarily Jews worship a different God than do Christians. And that’s Marcionism, and thus a reductio of the premise.”

    Might I suggest that Christians worship the God, Yahweh, of the Old Testament but the Jews of today do not. Yahweh is trinitarian. Yes, today’s Jews do worship a different god, and since there is only one God…..

    What do you think?

  46. Reed Here said,

    June 24, 2013 at 9:18 am

    David: I would not go as far as to say that Muslims and Christians believe in the same God. They do not. They may predicate some of the same attributes to their respective divinity concepts. Yet even in those there is not a one-for-one compatability.

    In the end I think the common ground approach is just not valid, and more importantly, not necessary.

  47. Andrew said,

    June 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    It seems to me that the key is as was suggested earlier: What do we mean by the word, “God” or “god”? If we say that “Allah” = “god” than I think many of us are in agreement. If we move to “Allah” = “God” than we start having questions, concerns, and issues.

    My question is not so much, what alternatives do we have for “God” in Arabic, but instead, what is the name for “Jesus Christ” in Arabic? It is evident from Scripture that you: 1) cannot approach “God” apart or without the person Jesus Christ; and 2) Calling upon the Father without the Son Jesus Christ is antichrist. It would seem than, that the essential aspects to lay out, and maybe the majority report does this, is to clarify: 1) Can “Allah” refer to Jesus Christ of Scripture (my understanding is that the vast majority of Arabic speakers would say no); and 2) If not, it cannot refer to “God”, so how can we refer to “God” properly in Arabic.

    It seems to me our Confessions and Catechisms are hesitant to simply use the macro term, “God”, and generally (not always) opt for specific Trinitarian names because this is done in the Scriptures (i.e. I John 5).

    If “Allah” is: 1) not equal to the Jesus Christ of Scripture: and 2) not Trinitarian in any practice: than, what point does the word “Allah” serve, besides referring to “god” / “god’s” generically in Arabic?

    For my own education, not being a member in the PCA, is this a separate issue from the insider movement and use of “Son of God” language, or is this tied directly to this discussion?

  48. June 25, 2013 at 12:09 am

    […] the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, S.C. This article first appeared on his blog, Green Baggins, and is used with […]

  49. June 28, 2013 at 12:07 am

    […] was 15 years ago, and I am beginning to wonder. The latest shock comes in a post from Lane Keister at the blog Green Baggins (h/t Aquila […]

  50. Nathan said,

    July 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Just so everyone is aware, Abrabic Christians (South Sudanese for example who were evangelized by Presbyterians 80 years ago) refer to God as Allah al Ab or God the Father. It is clear who has a biblical understanding of God as opposed to a Koranic understanding. I think that rather than reinventing the wheel we can learn from our brothers who have already been practicing Christianity for years in an Arabic culture.

  51. olivianus said,

    July 3, 2013 at 1:11 am

    These confusions are the inevitable result of thinking that God is a monad instead of a person named YHWH. Christianity is a bottomless pit of hopeless division. Christianity rejected Torah and replaced it with the wisdom of men and it is reaping the whirlwind. Grace and peace to the Natsarim.

  52. olivianus said,

    July 3, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Maybe Bryan is defending Islam because his Church created it.

  53. Hugh McCann said,

    July 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I say, Ollie, in your #51, we might agree to your 2nd sentence.
    And with #52.

    But is there *really* “a two-fold conditional requirement that one must accept and live by — to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”? Get out of here, you joker! :)

    As to the rest of your posts, do your eyes really glow?

    http://www.fossilizedcustoms.com/NATSARIM.html

  54. olivianus said,

    July 4, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Hugh,

    What kind of condition? The fact that you would not qualify what kind of condition you are referring to tells me you are not ready to have an opinion on this subject.

  55. olivianus said,

    July 4, 2013 at 1:06 am

    And btw, your 5 minute google search on what it means to be Natsarim is only a barking dog on a leash. Let me know when you are ready for actual contact.

  56. Hugh McCann said,

    July 4, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Gimme a link, maybe, Olivianus?


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