Recently an unnamed blog reader posted some objections to my post “After your because”. So I am posting his comment along with my response. The black bold are my thoughts:
These are some interesting thoughts. It sounds like this “worker” was a little paranoid. Nevertheless, I feel like you’re being a little too hard on him.
In reference to his second point, it sounds like you’re imply that the Bible commands us to call ourselves Christians. But obviously it doesn’t. So I don’t see anything wrong with that. The term translated “church” in the New Testament is “ekklesia” which is a kind of assembly, so I don’t see anything wrong with using the term “jamat,” either, from a Biblical perspective. The term, “church” both in its origins and modern usage implies a building, which is certainly different than an assembly. I don’t know what term you’re having MBBs use.
My objections to the this missionaries rejection of the word “church” (translated Kenisa in Arabic) and “Christian” (Mesihi) has nothing to do with etymology. In truth, Jammiat means a gathering just like the original word “Ekklesia” but so does Kenisa. My objection with the renaming of Christians to Muslims (since Muslim means surrendered) and Kenisa to Jamiat (which happens to be “Mosque” in Arabic) is that it is motivated by the pragmatic desire to see more people “saved” by taking away an persecution. That is antithetical to Christ’s teachings. It waters down the church until it is not even recognizable as a church. We do not change terms to avoid persecution. We accept it with joy as our Savior said. Personally l rarely call the followers of Jesus “Christians” in this context but I rather call the “believers”. Not to avoid persecution but because it better communicates what they are. In South America, where I previously served, we as well called born again people “believers” to distinguish between the Catholics who use the word “Christian”. So you’ll see that I do not have a doctrinal stance on the word Christian. I have a doctrinal stance on whatever term best communicates to culture that a person is now a born again believer in the risen Messiah.
Regarding his second point, while it seems little extreme to say, never teach them theology, (As you point out, where can you even draw that line?) the principle of letting believers draw their theology directly from the Bible seems like a good idea. Certainly Jesus teaches that you should listen to what the Bible says over what men teach you anyway, so by teaching believers to study the Bible, you are laying a firm foundation.
I am definitely for encouraging new believers to study the Bible themselves and see what it says for themselves. The missionary we met with would not preach or teach (if he ever had a work with real people in it which he doesn’t) but only give them a Bible and tell them to figure it out. This method simply defies all Biblical examples including Paul, Peter, Jesus, Jonah, and innumerable commandments to the man of God to preach the word and disciple (teach) all men everywhere to obey ALL things that Christ taught us.
I don’t understand his sixth point at all.
You said Jesus said, if we are ashamed of his name before men he will be ashamed of us before the Father. Which is true, but I don’t see anything about rejecting Islam in there. It seems to me like you’re stretching what Jesus taught, here, to mean more than it naturally means.
You seem to be a bit ignorant of Islam but since I don’t know what context you are coming from let me give you a few reasons that a new believer in Christ MUST reject Islam: The Koran teaches:
1. That Jesus was not the Son of God
2. That Jesus did not die for our sins nor did he rise again
3. That salvation is gained by a system of good works and a mixture of God’s random mercy
4. That one must believe Mohammed is the prophet of God to attain eternal life
5. Against the trinity
6. A morality in complete opposition to the teachings of Christ and the prophets especially the ten commandments
Read the Koran and you’ll see that it disagrees with the Bible in MANY facts of doctrine and history. God felt so strongly about changing His word that he said anyone who does it will have their part in the lake of fire. It seems obvious to anyone but the post-modern mind (who would like to believe in two contradictory thoughts at the same time) that to accept the truth about Christ is to reject lies about him.
You make some good points. I think the thing that bothers me about your post is that some of your practices don’t seem to come from the Bible at all, yet you claim that “I’ll have to blame it all on the Book that I follow.”
I’d love to hear what practices of mine are unbiblical. I make a daily commitment to reject all traditions of men and adhere to the teachings of Christ. Any contradiction to that in my life and ministry that comes to my attention and I’ll promise to change it. I am sure I am not perfect so there will be something. Write on!
While it is certainly an admirable goal to make sure everything we do is Biblical, we should also be careful not to fool ourselves. The Jews of Jesus’ day had taken Old Testament commands and changed their meaning. For example, they took the statement, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” which was a command about legal justice, and used it to justify personal vengefulness. We should be careful not to misuse Biblical passages in defense of our our behavior either.