The most telling comment in the interview with Abu Jaz, a Muslim follower of Christ (page 22), is this: "We cannot rule out syncretism at the beginning of a new believer's life …. When they put their faith in Jesus, they may have at the same time Muhammad in their heart."

It harkens to another quote from a recent CT interview, this one with author-pastor Max Lucado, given in response to someone who asks if preaching grace might encourage sin: "My experience has been, yes, for a time. There will be people who will say, 'You know what? God is going to forgive me. I'm going to go get drunk again.'"

Whether the context is Christian America or the Muslim world, discipleship is a messy business. Growth in Christ is usually slow, sometimes agonizingly slow, subject to repeated misunderstanding, backsliding, and even heterodoxy.

That's why many new converts and missiologists say that new converts from Islam or Hinduism, for example, should repudiate their religion, and even their culture, especially if that religion has permeated culture to prevent people from hearing the gospel. There is something right and true about this approach for many believers.

Other converts and missiologists encourage new believers to remain in their culture as long as possible, as long as Scripture doesn't explicitly forbid the practices in question. This approach has been very effective at introducing Muslims to Christ, exponentially even, as the article by missiologist Phil Parshall shows (page 31). There is also something right and true about this approach.

Recently, some missionaries have advocated a more radical approach. New believers are encouraged to retain their religious identity ...

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January/February 2013

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