Contextualization and Missions

The C-Spectrum in Muslim missions, the Insider Movements and how this touches evangelism in the Islamic community has been a much debated issue for years.

My experience with Muslims through formal debates, family meals, and one-on-one discussions have led me to believe that they are all too happy—mostly in an effort to gain leverage— to couch their theology in ambiguous Christian terms.

They are glad to espouse their love for Jesus and their willingness to follow him, but less reluctant to explain exactly what this means. The result is that Christians who do not know any better have a much more cozy perspective of Islam. What is worse, authors of the Insider Movement who do know better continue to encourage this kind of talk.

Contextualization simply means to act in such a way that one’s context would approve. In some ways this is good. A missionary seeking to reach the Tsongas of Mozambique, for example, should speak Tsonga, eat Tsonga food, and learn Tsonga culture. But some take contextualization further.

Exactly how much further has spurred endless disagreement. Missionaries have created vast systems (which we shall see in tomorrow’s post) to determine exactly how far a missionary can contextualize. In tomorrow’s post, we will address these structures and determine if they are biblical.

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