Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Response to James White on Insider Movements in Light of the Cape Town Commitment

I think I've mentioned before that I liked what the Cape Town Commitment had to say about contextualization. In particular, it has defined "insider movements" in a way that is very helpful as you will see below.

"So called ‘insider movements’ are to be found within several religions. These are groups of people who are now following Jesus as their God and Saviour. They meet together in small groups for fellowship, teaching, worship and prayer centred around Jesus and the Bible while continuing to live socially and culturally within their birth communities, including some elements of its religious observance."

A couple important notes on that.

First, IMs are not just something that is the domain of the Muslim world. I praise God for this clarification, because the debate/discussion surrounding contextualization is clouded by it being too associated with Islam and reaching Muslims. There is just much more to it than that. Critics of insider movements often make the mistake of painting them all with the same brush as if all IMs were in the context of Islam and as if they all looked the same and agreed on the same points.

Second, it defines IMs as missional communities of Christ-followers who seek to obey the Bible.  Thus, a so-called IM that isn't following Jesus, seeking to obey Scripture, or seeking to engage its cultural context isn't really what we are talking about.

In this way, the gauntlet is sort of laid out for those who have been so adamant in their opposition to IMs. James White is one of my favorite persons who has spoken out against them. And I mean that. I repost lots of stuff from James and rarely miss his podcasts. However, his blanket condemnations of IMs are, I think, unfair and unhelpful.  I would ask Dr. White to consider the CTC definition below and explain what exactly he opposes. It isn't the Christ-following, small groups, or Bible focus. So it would have to be the continuing connections to birth communities and the idea of maintaining certain religious observances.  Well, it is one thing to oppose the holding over of particular, named observances. It is quite another to throw all IMs under the bus. White ignores the possibility that there exist insider movements who are genuine, theologically orthodox, Christ-followers seeking to obey the Bible and reach their kinsmen.  He ignores the fact that these people are often persecuted just as much as those do not pursue contextualization. So, not that James would likely read this, but I would ask that he pull back a bit on his broad condemnation of IMs.

Tomorrow, I will post the CTC statement in its entirety and tell you another reason why I think it is a good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment