From the Orange County Register:
The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America’s most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
…The effort by a prominent Christian leader to bridge what polls show is a deep rift between Muslims and evangelical Christians culminated in December at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback’s congregation.
…At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King’s Way as “a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.”
…”We agreed we wouldn’t try to evangelize each other,” said Turk. “We’d witness to each other but it would be out of ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ not focused on conversion.”
Or perhaps not:
QUESTION: A recent newspaper article claimed you believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God, that you are “in partnership” with a mosque, and that you both agreed to “not evangelize each other.” You immediately posted a brief refutation online. Can you expand on that?
WARREN: Sure. All three of those statements are flat out wrong. Those statements were made by a reporter, not by me. I did not say them … I do not believe them… I completely disagree with them … and no one even talked to me about that article! So let me address each one individually: First, as I’ve already said, Christians have a fundamentally different view of God than Muslims. We worship Jesus as God. Muslims don’t. Our God is Jesus, not Allah… It’s just crazy that a simple Bible Study where people explore Scripture with non-Christians would be reported as a partnership and others would interpret that as a plan for a new compromised religion. Just crazy! Third, as both an Evangelical and as an evangelist, anyone who knows me and my 40 year track record of ministry that I would never agree to “not evangelizing” anyone!…
So where did Turk get a different impression from? It should be recalled that Warren has been somewhat slippery in his statements to the media on various subjects – most famously, as to whether or not he is Rupert Murdoch’s pastor.
If you compare the personality of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the Christian and Hebrew God – with Allah, Islam’s god, the contrast could not be more stark… It would be easier to find common theological ground between Christians and atheists than Christians and Muslims. In a very real sense, as Joel Richardson has propounded in his brilliant work, “The Islamic Antichrist,” Islam represents the polar opposite of Christianity.
Throughout the Old Testament, the commandment of God to the Israelites was to never enter into agreements, covenants or marriages with the surrounding peoples, lest the Israelites would find themselves led away to worship other gods. In such a post-modern culture, these concepts may sound amazingly intolerant, but the wisdom of the Lord’s proscription against treaties and partnerships is seen in Warren’s agreement not to evangelize his Muslim “friends” and co-laborers for mutual social causes.
Talk of the “the Christian and Hebrew God” and of “the Israelites” of course helps to fudge a different issue: evangelical Christianity’s relationship with Judaism. While the notion of a “dual covenant” in which both religions are salvific has been formally rejected by most evangelicals, the need for Jews to “worship Jesus as God” is not a subject that is very often stressed, for obvious reasons of good taste and expediency.
This is not the first time Warren has been attacked over supposed connections to Islam; last year, the denunciations came from Jack Van Impe, an old-school televangelist. Again, WND reported:
Van Impe explains that the Bible prophesies a one-world government and a one-world religion during the end times, and his concern focuses on the move among some Christian organizations to adopt some Islamic thought and incorporate elements of Islam into their worship.
“We’ve got too many of these mush-mouth preachers. All they’re doing is two stories and a movie review,” he said. But the Bible actually outlines that its messages also are to “reprove and rebuke” Christians for failing to live for God.
Van Impe specially mentioned Rick Warren and Robert Schuller, prompting a split from Paul Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting Network:
“We received a call from Matt Crouch of TBN informing us that they would not run that program. … The reason he gave was that we specifically mentioned Rick Warren and Robert Schuller and that it is TBN’s policy that broadcasters are not allowed to rebuke other ministries,” Van Impe said.
The suggestion that Muslim-friendly Christian leaders are heralding “the formation of the prophesied one-world religion under the Antichrist” also appeared in a 2009 WND article.
Richardson’s article moves on to a more general discussion of alleged Christian-Islamic syncretism:
Addressing the slide toward compromise and heresy within the missions movement, missiologists Joshua Lingel, Jeff Morton and Bill Nikides have recently co-edited a book titled, “Chrislam: How Missionaries are Promoting an Islamized Gospel.” Nikides has also produced a documentary film titled “Half Devil – Half Child,” which addresses the trend within the evangelical missions movement to promote what is often referred to as “C5,” the “Insider Movement,” or “Chrislam.” This method of outreach to Muslim encourages Christians to adopt Muslim identities and religious culture for the purpose of what might be viewed as “stealth evangelism.”
From the blurb, the title of the film appears to imply that Western Christians who supposedly promote “Chrislam” are engaging in a form of paternalistic colonialism, although the meaning is not entirely clear.
The phrases “C5″ and “Insider Movement” derive from essays written under the name of “John Travis”, the pen-name of a missionary working among Muslims in Asia. The “CI-C6 spectrum” (“C” standing for “Christ-centered community”) was introduced in a 1998 essay for the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, and further expounded in 2000 for the International Journal of Frontier Mission. According to Travis:
For the majority of the world’s one billion Muslims, “changing religions” is never seriously contemplated. Even nominal Muslims tend to see Islam as a single fabric weaving together tradition, culture, and customs related to dress, diet, family life, morality, worship, and in some contexts, even economics and politics.
…I personally know many Muslims who have put their faith in Jesus. Some have formally converted to Christianity and worship at local (often Westernized) denominational churches, or in small home fellowships with other Muslim background believers (MBBs). Fearing persecution, others worship underground. Still others, often called “Messianic Muslims,” follow Christ but remain within the Muslim community. These Messianic Muslims reject or modify unbiblical Islamic teachings (e.g., they insist Jesus did die on the cross), yet still see most aspects of their lives woven together by the social fabric of Islam. They are not silent about their faith in Jesus, though they are discerning about when and where to share. They strive to form groups with other like-minded Muslim followers of Jesus to study the Bible, pray for each other, and fellowship in Christ. Yet they do not view or call themselves “Christians.”
…C5 believers are Muslims who have been drawn to faith in Christ by the Spirit of God, often through reading the Bible on their own, hearing a radio broadcast, receiving a dream or vision, experiencing a miraculous healing in the name of Isa, or seeing the loving, patient, incarnational witness of a believing friend… Just as early Jewish followers of the Way enjoyed fellowship in homes and in the temple with the larger Jewish community, so many C5 believers gather in small home fellowships and in the mosque with the larger Islamic community. Just as early Jewish followers of Jesus changed few of their outward Jewish religious forms, so too C5 believers change little in their outward Muslim religious forms—most of which, incidentally, are derived from ancient Jewish and Christian traditions.
Prior to this, a short article by “Shah Ali” (another pseudonym) appeared in 1992 in Theology, News, and Notes, entitled “South Asia: Vegetables, Fish and Messianic Mosques”:
Our Muslim neighbors defined “Christianity” as “a foreign religion of infidels;” so we often referred to ourselves as “Muslims” (literally, “submitters to God”). The necessity of submitt ing to God is certa inly Christ ian (see Jas 4:7), and Jesus’ disciples call themselves “Muslims” according to the Qur’an (5:111).3 When villages have decided to follow Christ, the people continued to use the mosque for worship of God but now through Christ. Where possible, the former leaders of mosque prayers (imams) are trained to continue their role as spiritual leaders.
…The concept of Messianic mosques and completed Muslims (following the model of Messianic synagogues and completed Jews) still causes considerable misunderstanding among other Christians.
Ali’s article was written “with J. Dudley Woodberry”; Woodberry is Dean and Professor of Islamic Studies at the School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminar.
In late 2009, the topic was discussed at The Global Conversation, a website created by Christianity Today and the Lausanne Movement:
C5 believers… challenge assumptions about what it means to be Muslim or Christian. We all have more than one identity and community. For example, most American Christians assume one can be both a patriotic American (loyal to that community) and a faithful Christian, though they may disagree with some things their fellow-Americans do or teach. Believers like Ibrahim seek to be both authentic Muslims (loyal to the community of their birth) and faithful disciples of Jesus, critically evaluating what their fellow-Muslims do and teach in light of the teachings of Christ – sometimes accepting, sometimes reinterpreting, sometimes disagreeing. Do such disagreements require American believers to repudiate American identity and community, or require C5 believers to repudiate the Muslim community and their Muslim identity? How can believers best be “critically loyal” to the community of their birth and to their family heritage, respectfully critiquing what is unscriptural, while upholding God’s Commandment to “Honor your father and mother”?
One is reminded of the problem of ancestor veneration for Chinese and Japanese Christians.
“Chrislam” is the name of a syncretic movement in Nigeria; the use of the term for other contexts appears to be polemical.
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