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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 ...

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James B

January 31, 2013  1:28pm

"I can attest that the mosque is controlled by seducing spirits that keep its adherents in chains" Perhaps, but so is your local shopping mall Salaam. Its a temple to mammon and the liturgy is preformed at the till. Even staying home is dangerous - Just look what happened to King David when he prayed on his roof! Maybe we should hide under our beds? No, believers need not fear territories. Fear of territory belongs to the magic worldview not Christian. What we need to fear/avoid is walking outside of the Spirits guidance/God's will. That is something different altogether. I'm not saying one should wander willy nilly into a mosque, or that one should take part in all the worship, just saying lets not embrace unbiblical (magic) concepts of territory.

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Salaam Corniche

January 25, 2013  3:50pm

Dear Editor: I too am disturbed that you seemed to choose sensationalism over solid theology. A former Muslim I know read the title of your journal and said, "If they have gone to the mosque to worship Jesus they are lost." Sadly your contributors Travis, and Daniels play on the ignorance of Westerners who think that mosque attendance and the like is neutral. From living in an Islamic context for more than a decade I can attest that the mosque is controlled by seducing spirits that keep its adherents in chains. This is not some cute missiological experiment. Unfortunately you did not mention those statistics in Bangladesh and in the Balkans where a sort of hybrid "Christian-Muslim" ritual was tried. Guess what? All paths led back to Islam. Why? The spiritual force. A French convert to Islam noted that all mosques are connected like a bicycle wheel to the Ka'aba which is the sacred building in Mecca. For good reason it is black, has a black stone, and is cubic in form."

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DAVE COLES

January 21, 2013  6:05pm

It appears you failed to notice the vast difference between a person or group being a “religious” or “socioreligious” insider (Travis’ description) andbeing a cultural insider but not a religious insider (Abu Jaz’ description). Given the importance of this issue, I’m disappointed that you’ve blurred a vital distinction at one of the most crucial points of the discussion, making it appear that Abu Jaz and his movement illustrate a type of religious contextualization more radical than their actual practice. I hope you will rectify the confusion caused by the mixing of Abu Jaz’ contextual approach (cultural insider) and Travis’ approach (religious insider). Thank you.

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DAVE COLES

January 21, 2013  6:04pm

I appreciate CT tackling this issue. Sadly, though, your framing of it tends to increase confusion. Your title (“Worshiping Jesus in the Mosque") and what Travis describes (remaining “inside the religious communities of their birth”) is very different than what Abu Jaz described in his movement. Abu Jaz states numerous times that his movement is culturally Muslim, but not religiously Muslim. He said: • "The church should reflect Muslim culture, not Muslim theology." • “when they understand the gospel more clearly, they don't want to have an Islamic religious identity. Yet they also do not want to let go of their cultural identity as Muslims,” • "Who are these people? These people are not Christians. These people are not Muslims. " • "I went back and restored my former Islamic cultural identity." Thus it seems misleading that you write, “…they otherwise follow Jesus in the midst of their religion. As the interview with Abu Jaz shows, there is something right and true about this..."

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James B

January 21, 2013  4:06am

T David, a better comparison would be the Catholic church. A few 100 yrs ago Catholics & Protestants were deadly enemies. For many (eg in England) there were political aspects to this hate & fear of Catholics. The English nation & identity felt threatened by the power of Catholicism in Europe & so the Pope was portrayed as the Anti-Christ. Later it was USSR threatening the West & they became Anti-Christ warned of in sermons & books. Now it is the Islamic world. How convenient for governments our political enemies become the Anti-Christ! How naive we Christians still fall for this manipulation! Thankfully these days there are only very few evangelical “haters” that would say it is impossible to follow Christ within the Catholic church (even if we have problems with some aspects of their official theology). Lots of cultural Protestants, Catholics, and Muslims may not be “saved” but plenty ARE! They are dedicated followers of Christ seeking to see these religious cultures transformed.

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T David

January 19, 2013  3:00am

This is a deeply disappointing editorial from CT, a publication which I find immensely helpful. Full disclosure: I live and work among a Muslim UPG in Asia. How I wish this were just about individuals and groups coming to Jesus in their own way, following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, the reality is that insider strategies and trainings are being funded and promulgated largely by Westerners among formerly dubious groups throughout the Muslim world. Please call it what it is: kinder, gentler colonialism. Scholars such as Rebecca Lewis have gone so far to say that the insider approach is the only biblically faithful approach to discipleship. For folks like her (and her influence is immense), it is not only unwise to counsel Muslims to renounce their religious identity, it is sinful. As an exercise, try substituting another religion or subculture with Islam (e.g. Mormonism, LGBT), and discern how individuals from such backgrounds can become healthy members of the Body of Christ.

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Khalil Mansour

January 18, 2013  3:15am

One of the assumptions in the editorial is that Islam is at the present, and will remain in the future, an intolerant religion which invokes harsh punishment on any Muslim who would dare challenge the assumptions of the faith, and even worse, who would leave it and become a Christian. There needs to be a sustained pressure at the political level on Muslim countries that fancy themselves as modern, wanting democracy, and telling the world that Islam is a tolerant and peaceful religion, but are in fact violating the core of what it means to be a human being. They can haul anyone suspect of leaving the faith before the Sharia’ courts in their country and strip him of his most fundamental human rights. There also needs to be a public and frank discussion of the texts of the Qur’an and the hadiths, the practice of the Prophet, and the Companions, and a debunking of all these myths that sanitize the teaching of Islam.

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Spencer Van Der Walt

January 17, 2013  11:21pm

What is right and what is wrong should not really be the question (although gross biblical error should be looked at).Obedience, continually being in His presence and trust will be the key how the form and shape of this worship will look like.To escape persecution at all costs should also not determine "the end product".I have been working in Asia for 15 years and am still surprised as to what lengths people will go just so that no one is offended. To "blend in" has its benefits but so often this "blending in" is "not to rock the boat". Sooner or later the Gospel will confront that which is not truth and if "blending in" is just that, denial and syncretism will result. Its easy to have an opinion if the stones are not falling on my head, if my family and livelihood are not in danger and yet fear should not be what shapes the form of where and how new believers live out in a practical way their worship of Jesus and yet even then His Love, Grace and mercy will cover a multitude of sins.

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Spencer Van Der Walt

January 17, 2013  10:49pm

(cont.) The Spirit of God will remove what's not from and of Him. The key is being totally and completely under the Lordship of Christ. So much of doctrine is merely man's opinion, what we think, and often its just that. If one is truly born again and His Spirit truly lives in the believer one can absolutely and completely trust that He will take care of what the "end product" will look like. Being practical has its value (how this spiritual truth will manifest itself in form and worship) but to reason it to death has very little value at all. Sometimes when I read articles like this it seems that we are apt to forget that Jesus really is alive and not just something good to be involved in. He promised that HE would build His Church and that the gates of hell would not prevail. Thesis's for Phd's, articles to prove a point or opinion, making Christianity an academic discipline have often times taken away from the "livingness" of God. He really is alive, He really is the Creator.

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Spencer Van Der Walt

January 17, 2013  10:09pm

Among those functions (Holy Spirit's) is that of revealer of truth. The Spirit’s presence within us enables us to understand and interpret God’s Word. Jesus told His disciples that “when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth”. He reveals to our minds the whole counsel of God as it relates to worship, doctrine, and Christian living. He is the ultimate guide, going before, leading the way, removing obstructions, opening the understanding, and making all things plain and clear. He leads in the way we should go in all spiritual things. Without such a guide, we would be apt to fall into error. A crucial part of the truth He reveals is that Jesus is who He said He is. The Spirit convinces us of Christ’s deity and incarnation, His being the Messiah, His suffering and death, His resurrection and ascension, His exaltation at the right hand of God, and His role as the judge of all. He gives glory to Christ in all things. (Quoted from "Got Questions.org").

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