Muslim Followers of Jesus? A Response to Joseph Cumming

I wrote this in response to Joseph Cumming’s advance paper, Muslim Followers of Jesus? He has written it for Lausanne World Congress which is taking place in Capetown, South Africa. The discussion is on Islam and Christian outreach to Muslims. You can read his entire article here. He wrote:

Ibrahim was a well-respected scholar of the Qur’an, a Hafiz. When he decided to follow Jesus, he closely examined the Qur’anic verses commonly understood as denying the Trinity, denying Jesus’ divine Sonship, denying Jesus’ atoning death, and denying the textual integrity of the Bible. He concluded that each of these verses was open to alternate interpretations, and that he could therefore follow Jesus as a Muslim. Soon members of his family and community came to share his faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Ibrahim was also imprisoned for his faith, but unlike Nabil, Ibrahim still wanted to follow Jesus as a Muslim. Nonetheless some whom he led to Jesus no longer see themselves as Muslims. Ibrahim and Nabil are friends and respect each other as brothers, though they disagree about their identity.

Ibrahim seems to suffer from identity crisis. A Christian, possibly from Muslim background, should sit down with him and talk with him about how his identity should be in Jesus Christ. Ibrahim doesn’t have to leave his culture but to continue living in obedience to Prophet Muhammad’s teachings, observing some of the five pillars of Islam is syncretism. I don’t know what else to call it when even the Hadith shows Muhammad invented these practices. How could Ibrahim come up with “alternate interpretations” of the Qur’an when for 1400 years these verses have had zero alternate meaning?

Here is my personal story. I came to know the Lord in August 1989. Then in April 1990 I met a Kenyan national missionary who had a great idea. [We are still friends :) .] He wanted me to go back home to my own people so that I could live with them and be a Christian witness. Sad to say at that time the Kenyan government representative in my home area had already severed my ties to my family due to persecution. My missionary friend was oblivious to danger I had faced. He was a big believer in C4 contextualization. (His library contained books from leading advocates for C scale.) Had I followed through with his idea, I would have either been hurt or dead. Even sadder, this missionary’s idea came to fruition in 1995. He had about 20 C5 believers. To date, none of them has come forward to publicly profess his or her faith in Christ. One of them had a wife of Christian background who died a few years ago. He refused to have a “Christian” funeral for her. She had a Muslim funeral. Do you see the problem here? She was dead as a “Christian” yet she couldn’t be buried as one! Not that it mattered but there is a serious flaw in a Muslim background believer’s (MBB) thinking if he or she still practices some core Islamic teachings. Proper discipleship is the only antidote to this morass that has befuddled Christian outreach to Muslims. I hope and pray Lausanne Congress charts the way forward.

Another severe problem facing Christian outreach to Muslim is scriptural integrity in Bible translation. Christians already struggle explaining to a Muslim how the Bible has not been corrupted yet some organizations don’t get the idea. An organization that does Bible translation for a Muslim audience has a hard time translating the New Testament because of the term “Son of God” in the Gospel and other epistles. There is a bizarre case in Ethiopia where major errors have been made, thus compromising the meaning of certain verses. You can read that story here.

I believe some western Christian scholars are behind this confusion in Christian outreach to Muslims. They have no idea what problems they have created for MBBs and Christian workers among Muslims. Muslims are already mocking Christian scholars who advocate for C4, C5 and C6. Can’t we get the clue? It is time for us to put our egos aside and preach the Gospel without diluting its message. After all, it is “the power of God unto salvation.” A big thank you to Brother Joseph Cumming for keeping this discussion alive.

  • pat

    Just had an interesting talk with a friend who has gone to Africa , and devoted her life to reaching anyone, everyone for Christ. She is not supported by any particular missions group, but is definitely a missionary. Her methodology is this: Talk about Jesus all the time, be LOVe on legs, and listen to the Holy Spirit.
    She just called me to tell me about the Muslim she just lead to the Lord.. she shared with him about Christ, listened but did not argue withhis muslim veiws, instead shared What HER God was like, What the BIBLe said , and after several weeks of sharing asked him if he would like to “Become a Christian” He said I cannot, my family will disown me. She said you must pay the price to know the true God. He prayed to receive Christ! He went home and told his best friend. And showed up the next morning to go to church with her.This is week one, please remember this new brother in prayer.
    Think of it, if the methodology of “having two masters” were employed here, this man would not have made the tough decision to be called by Christs Name, had the opportunity to be rejoiced over, prayed for by the larger body, or become a known member of Christs body, which is by Jesus own estimation the standard of being worthy of being His follower. The greatest aspect of becoming an open follower of Christ, is that in this all the miraculous power, of God becomes the right of the new believer to call upon for his needs, and all the promises of God are his new treasure to explore and partake of.

  • pat

    Hi Hussein,
    Thank you for kindness.Thank you, Bless you for your prayers.I will write to you at your email.

  • Anne

    Again thank you for posting this real insight.
    A

  • pat

    I think about this stuff all the time. My husband is a Muslim. I never was, but my choice to follow Christ along with our daughters has put me in a very similar situation that a Muslim that came to Christ might experience. For instance some of the ways to punish a muslim wife who disobeys have come to me. I am an enemy in my own home.There is not a day or a moment where it is forgotten that I have “betrayed” my husband.It is ALL about Jesus. The Name Jesus cannot be spoken in our home. I have chosen to wear a cross, not as a decoration, but as a sign that I am HIS. I knew when I chose to wear it, I might not be touched anymore. I was right.I am told that I was brainwashed, and that I brainwashed our children.I have told my husband that I wish to stay with him, and that I do not want a divorce, unless He insists in which case, I will sign. However he has chosen to leave our marriage under threa of divorce t, and when we are in his country I am forbidden to talk about the childrens faith.. Etc, Suffice to say, I am an offence, and in a Muslim contex(Country)t, I am often very very concerned for the children(who are now almost grown and of marriageable age. Amazingly though, God has commanded me to walk in this circumstance, and to remain faithful loving and married. IIf I followed a code and not a Person, this would be impossible, However the Lord of Life Himself has rescued me, and has strengthened me to believe that my husband too shall be saved, in due time, as I and our children have so wonderfully received grace. We experience exceeding help from the Lord as we choose in difficult circumstances not to hide our faith, and in particular in the daily step by step out[pplaying of our faith in front of my husband and our relatives even when it feels dangerous, we seek to always stand with and for Christ. Doubtless it is hard to be seen as the offender. Definitely painful, sometimes frightening, However, the sweetest and best moments of my life have been when I was aligned with Christ openly although perhaps having at the same time my name cast out as evil.I experience extreme joy, and a freedom that is unlike any other, it is the freedom to not be in bondage to the approval of man. I must say this is indeed THE HARDEST aspect of following Christ in this context, in that I am seen as foolishly and hatefully even having chosen the offender- Christ ,over my husband our marriage and most importantly his rel;igion.
    The reason that I am posting this on this particular topic is because there are several aspects of the C_5 question that I think I have not seen addressed.
    To me, when I go ANYWHERE, I look first for True Followers of Christ. WHY? So I can sing songs with them? Yes, that, but even more for Understanding, protection, and an adherence to CHRIST which I can trust. In my husbands country, I seek out believers immediately. I NEED them. They pray me through, they protect me, they understand what it means to suffer for Christ, they lay their lives in danger for me. How can they do this and why do I trust them with informationn that in the wrong hands might get us both killed? Because They are CHRISTS BODY. This issue of Christs BODY is of utmost importance to the real issues of what it means to follow Christ. It means to be ONE with his Body. Any other” ONE- with” (such as remaining attached to Islam) amounts to spiritual adultery.) Such “believers” are a sort of Hybrid, who do not have the experience of having chosen Christ over community self life family. All the things that Jesus said we had to choose Him over. This is not for Muslims Alone, it is the test for Amewreican Christians as well. Anyone who has not chosen Christ as the Head, and the body of Christ as his community will never live as a true Christian, be able to function as a healthy follower, or be able to reproduce. In John 15 Jesus prayed that we would be ONE as He and the FATHER were one,
    This issue of the BODY of Christ being divided so that “followers” can live in community and perhaps reproduce there is without Scri[ptural support and without any concern for the BODY at large who actually NEED True believers and NOT those who never cut the apron strings or idol strings or community strings. In my situation, I in fact live in my same community, I am amazed that I am able to remauin, that my husband(who is good but trapped) allows it. What I am trying to say is, if one is toi follow Christ from a Muslim context, He cannot have Islam and Christ too, Jesus Himself doesnt allow it. We are His Body His Bride, we cannot be joined to another, we can never in such a situation of dual loyalties, be able to be what Christ called us to be , that is “ONE” I am not saying that there may not be situations where a new believer or even a mature one in an oppressed situation may not find it necessary to lay low, however it couldnt stay that way, and be healthy for them or for the Body at large, whom we are called to love with exceeding love. I want to say here that though I am sooo weak feeling so often sometimes afraid, The Lord has made a way for mew and my children in the most trying of circumstances, but to a very large degree it it is His BODY which has been my lifeline and my resourse outside Of Christ Himself. I Bless Him for His commands to Love One another and To Be ONE, for without this we would not be able to function for Him together in this world.

    • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein

      Thank you for sharing, Pat! You definitely have a unique experience and perspective that is helpful to those believers who would like to do outreach to Muslims, especially now that there are so many “voices” advocating for their methods. The Lord has your greater reward for the suffering you have gone through for His sake. You, your husband and your children are in my prayers. Please feel free to write to me at info at hussein wario dot com. If you like, you can write a guest article or write this comment as a blog entry and I’ll publish it here and on another blog. Do you have your own blog? Your unique experience and perspective would contribute tremendously to the ongoing discussion on C5. Have a blessed weekend!

  • Tonette Kellett

    Fabulous post! Thank you Hussein!

    • http://www.cracksinthecrescent.com Hussein

      Thanks, Tonette! You know first hand what some leaders in this discussion don’t know. Sad how their advocacy for “syncretism” undermines the Gospel. Lets hope the church wakes up.