Global Context Series: 20 (or So) Books for the Globally-Minded Christian to Buy (and Read)

Over the past few years, we have posted approximately twenty installments in the “Global Context Series.” In this series, we posted notices or reviews about books that help Christians get to know the global scene as a whole, or a particular region or country in particular. We want to reissue this series in a single post so that you can perhaps find the right book for the area and people of the world that most interests you. The links below follow the titles of the original posts in the series.

The books are not necessarily the best books available on a particular subject, but they are among the best books that I have read on that subject. I try to tell you a little bit about the author, the style of the book, its readability, and of course a little bit about its content. I hope that you will find this series helpful. I hope you will enjoy the books, and will find them to be a stimulus to love God as you learn about, and learn to love, the people in God’s world.

Preface

International:

“The Clash of Civilizations”

“The World is Flat 3.0”

“Hot, Flat, and Crowded?”

“A New Christendom With New Faces”

“The Post American World”

Africa:

“An Obsession with Power and Control”

Central Asia:

“The Ayatollah Begs to Differ”

“The Great Game”

“The Ayatollah’s Democracy”

Central Asia / Afghanistan:

“The Kite Runner”

“A Thousand Splendid Suns”

“Ghost Wars”

East Asia / China:

“Chinese Lessons”

“Out of Mao’s Shadow”

Europe:

“Europe, Islam, and Christianity”

“The Penguin History of Europe”

Europe / Russia:

“Stalin’s Children”

North Africa / Middle East:

“How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future of the Globe”

“The Crisis of Islam”

“The Arabs in History”

South Asia:

“Freedom at Midnight”

“On India, Calvinists, and Cow Dung Shampoo”

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”Download java games

Looking at Insider Movements (6): Resources for Further Study

By: Doug Coleman

In this final installment I’ll point to some resources for further study and make a few summary remarks about the Insider Movement debate.

Publications by proponents exist almost exclusively in the form of journal articles. The majority of these have appeared in just a few journals, several of which are freely available online. Most of the positive articles have been published in the International Journal of Frontier Missiology (www.ijfm.org) and Mission Frontiers (www.missionfrontiers.org).

Critics have offered a number of responses via articles published in St. Francis Magazine, which can also be accessed free of charge online (www.stfrancismagazine.info/ja/). Also, the web site Biblical Missiology (biblicalmissiology.org) was founded to address concerns about IM methodology (yours truly is not the founder or a participant, by the way). Most recently, the folks there have focused on issues related to Bible translation, particularly controversy related to translation of Sonship and familial terminology.

I have previously mentioned my own dissertation available either from the SEBTS library or for sale here, or in Kindle version. It focuses solely on biblical and theological issues. However, another excellent dissertation critiquing selected missiological elements of IM was completed and submitted at Southern Seminary last year. It also gives an excellent description of the development of IM. You can access it for free here.

Finally, i2 ministries has sponsored conferences critiquing IM, and has published a book as well: Chrislam: How Missionaries Are Promoting an Islamized Gospel. I have not yet read the book because it was released after I returned to the field last year and I have not been able to obtain a copy. See a review and lengthy discussion in the comments section here.

At the beginning of this series, I noted that the tone of this debate has often been less than charitable. I do believe this is worth debating, even vigorously, because the consequences of the outcome are potentially quite serious. But the debate doesn’t require ad hominem arguments or presupposing motives. Furthermore, participants in the debate should work hard to avoid misrepresentations or mis-characterizations, unintentional or not. Unfortunately, I almost always find myself issuing qualifications when I recommend resources from both sides, often not because I disagree with the content, but because I find the tone or other comments objectionable.

I don’t claim that my own writing navigates the waters perfectly, but I can say that fairness, charity, and accuracy have been my highest secondary objectives. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned and interacting in the comments section. I hope it’s been helpful.

[Editor’s Note: Doug Coleman is a SEBTS alum who lives and works in Central Asia. His SEBTS dissertation was recently published as A Theological Analysis of the Insider Movement Paradigm from Four Perspectives: Theology of Religions, Revelation, Soteriology, and Ecclesiology (Pasadena, CA: WICU Press, 2011). We asked Dr. Coleman to publish a critique of the Insider Movement here at BtT, in the form of a six-part blog series.]

Looking at Insider Movements (5): Evaluation (Part 2)

By: Doug Coleman

The previous post dealt mostly with the issue of theology of religions, although it touched on the issue of possible revelation in non-Christian religions. In this post, I want to briefly comment on a few key passages frequently referenced by IM advocates.

Proponents often note the watershed decision of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. They rightly note that Gentile believers were not required to “go through” Judaism (i.e., be circumcised) in order to be saved. Therefore, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others should not be required to go through “Christianity” today. I can only offer two extremely brief responses. First, if by “Christianity” IM advocates mean a Western cultural form of the worship of Jesus, I agree. But IM on the one hand, and Western cultural Christianity on the other, are not the only alternatives. Second, IM advocates are making Acts 15 answer a question that was not being asked. The early Gentile believers were not saying, “Can we remain in our Gentile pagan religious system and community if we modify some of our beliefs and behavior?” No, they were saying, “Must we take on circumcision?” In other words, the Acts 15 discussion was not about what must or mustn’t be put off, but about what must or mustn’t be put on.

Regarding Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 7:20, 24-that each man should remain in the state in which he was called-I think IM advocates fail to interpret this in light of Paul’s instructions later in the same letter. IM advocates rightly note that the immediate context of 1 Cor 7:20-24 does involve some religious matters (after all, Paul mentions circumcision in 1 Cor 7:19). However, Paul strongly and unequivocally prohibits continued participation in pagan religious activity in 1 Cor 10:20-22. Therefore, unless Paul is hopelessly self-contradictory or schizophrenic, his exhortation to “remain” in 7:20 cannot refer to remaining in pagan religious activity.

This brings me to the suggestion that 1 Cor 8:10 refers to a former pagan, now turned follower of Christ, who is at least in part remaining within his pagan religious community. In other words, he’s still dining at the pagan temple, but Paul doesn’t condemn the practice in itself, only because it harms a weaker brother. I’ll note a few possible interpretations here (you’ll have to read the dissertation if you want all the background). (1) The situation in 8:10 is not actually happening, but is hypothetical. (2) The dining is actually occurring but it is a social-not religious-occasion, so the stronger brother is free to eat if he can do so without causing a weaker brother to stumble. (3) The dining is actually happening, and it is wrong, but Paul doesn’t outright condemn it outright in 8:10, only later in chapter 10 (because he is mainly concerned with brotherly relations in chapter 8 and/or he employs a rhetorical strategy that saves the stronger condemnation until later).

The key point to note here is that none of these interpretations are compatible with an Insider approach. Again, in 1 Cor 10:20-22 Paul clearly and unequivocally condemns participation in anything that constitutes idol worship. So, do Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and other non-Christians worship idols? As much as I would like to, I don’t have space to fully address that here. In short, I think the answer is “yes.” If you’re really interested, you’ll have to read at least a few pages of my dissertation.[1]

Finally, I need to say a few words about the analogy between early Jewish believers and Muslim Insiders. First, while there is no clear consensus on exactly when all Jewish believers completely separated from the Temple and synagogue or from the Jewish religious community, history indicates that many of them did stay closely connected for a lengthy period, for various reasons. However, while IM proponents acknowledge some discontinuity between Judaism and Islam, I think the discontinuity is overly minimized. I think Scripture portrays a much more radical discontinuity between the faith of Judaism/Christianity and all other faiths, however politically incorrect such a view may be today.

I believe the exhortation of Hebrews 13:13 (“let us go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach”) is particularly important for this discussion, especially in light of this analogy. Again, if you’re really interested you’ll have to check the dissertation for all the supporting documentation and discussion (pp. 210-223), but I believe the author of Hebrews was calling Jewish background followers of Jesus to make (or maintain) a decisive break with the religious community and system of Judaism. If this was essential for first-century Jewish believers, how much more so for those who come to faith from non-Christian religions today?

There’s so much more to say, but that’s why I wrote a dissertation.


[1] Doug Coleman, A Theological Analysis of the Insider Movement Paradigm from Four Perspectives: Theology of Religions, Revelation, Soteriology, and Ecclesiology (Pasadena: WCIU Press, 2011), 59-61.

[Editor’s Note: Doug Coleman is a SEBTS alum who lives and works in Central Asia. His SEBTS dissertation was recently published as A Theological Analysis of the Insider Movement Paradigm from Four Perspectives: Theology of Religions, Revelation, Soteriology, and Ecclesiology (Pasadena, CA: WICU Press, 2011). We asked Dr. Coleman to publish a critique of the Insider Movement here at BtT, in the form of a six-part blog series.]