This is an article from the May-June 2011 issue: Jesus Movements

Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist Followers of Jesus: How Should We Respond?

Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist Followers of Jesus: How Should We Respond?

Can you have genuine members of the Body of Christ who do not consider themselves “Christian” but do consider themselves Bible-believing followers of Jesus? Is it possible to have people who faithfully study the Bible in order to follow and obey Jesus but who also consider themselves to be Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews…culturally?

In this issue we will hear from a number of people who are following Jesus with biblical faith but who have chosen to remain within the cultural contexts of their birth. When they came to faith in Jesus, they did not leave the cultural heritage of their birth to join a “Christian” cultural community, contrary to what some expect they should do if they are genuinely saved. Instead, they have remained in their contexts to tell their family and friends about the Jesus who loves them, can answer their prayers and can save them from their sins. These people are part of what are called Jesus Movements.

This can all be very confusing and controversial to those who were born into “Christian” cultural contexts and who believe that there is little difference between their cultures and genuine biblical faith in Jesus. For some Christians, accepting Jesus means also accepting the cultural forms that accompanied the presentation of the gospel they received. It is also hard for many of us—expecially those in the West—to fathom how someone can remain a “Muslim” or “Hindu” and still faithfully follow Jesus from a solidly biblical foundation, not to mention growing in his or her relationship with Jesus.

The answer to this apparent contradiction in terms comes down to the distinction between genuine faith and the cultural/religious forms and practices that surround a person because of the family and community into which he was born. It is what is in the heart that counts, not what can be seen on the outside. The cultural/religious behavior on the outside may look alarmingly similar to those who have no faith in Jesus, thereby obscuring the heart transformation that Jesus has accomplished on the inside. The article on Syncretism on page 20 illustrates this point.

Each person who chooses to remain within the culture of his birth must be led by the Holy Spirit as he studies the Scriptures with others into choosing wisely which aspects of his culture contradict biblical teaching and must be left behind and which may be retained or given new biblical meaning. But this is the task that every believer faces each day, including those who come from “Christian” cultures. All of us as Jesus followers are called to discern what must be rejected from our surrounding culture, no matter where we are born. Even within a “Christian” culture, if we are truly faithful to follow Jesus, we will be seen as a peculiar people who will be “encouraged” to fit in with the surrounding culture or face persecution for our obedience to Jesus.

To be sure, these followers of Jesus confront unique challenges that make their lives more difficult. Even though outwardly remaining a Muslim, Hindu, etc., they often face persecution from those both inside and outside their culture who do not understand or accept the choice they have made to follow Jesus from within the culture of their birth.

No Easy Choices

Because of the long history of conflict and animosity between “Christian” communities and other competing cultural/religious communities in various places around the world, there are no easy answers for those who come to faith in Jesus from non-Christian cultural/religious backgrounds. If they leave to join a traditional Christian church, they are seen as traitors to their family, friends and community. At this point, simply following Jesus is not perceived as the problem so much as having joined a foreign, even hostile, community.

Upon joining a “Christian” cultural community, the new convert is often greeted with suspicion. “Is he a spy? Is his new faith genuine? Can we really trust him?” No matter how hard he tries, his behaviors don’t fully match the new culture he has joined, and to many he will never truly “be one of us.” The convert is often not trusted to marry into the families of the church. This is a very serious problem for anyone coming to faith in this way. It can be a very lonely existence for the new convert and a not-so-subtle warning to anyone else who would think of leaving the culture of his birth to follow Jesus

The Good News

While many may be uncomfortable with the idea of Muslim or Hindu followers of Jesus, and while there are legitimate concerns about whether the biblical faith of these people can survive in such hostile cultural contexts, one thing seems clear. We worship a risen Savior who is King of Kings, before whom the religious and cultural barriers of the world present no insurmountable obstacles. His Kingdom continues to break forth in places and in ways that defy our best efforts to control and quantify. (See Rebecca Lewis’ article starting on page 15.) God’s purposes within every tribe and tongue will not be thwarted by these man-made limitations nor by our inability to understand what He is doing. While God’s people have wrestled with the problem of how to bring Muslims, Hindus, etc. to faith in Jesus, God has been at work in unexpected ways to overcome these cultural barriers and introduce people to the Jesus of the Bible. We should all rejoice when the biblical Jesus is exalted and followed by people of any background and culture.

If these people remain faithful to Jesus, the potential for impacting the major blocs of unreached peoples with biblical faith is enormous. The gospel has the potential to move rapidly from person to person within these cultural contexts and to transform them from the inside. Donald McGavran taught about the potential of whole people movements where the gospel travels rapidly along the natural lines of family and community relationships. Over time the study of the Bible in search of the real Jesus could become an accepted practice within these cultures.

In many cases the message of Jesus is not the initial or primary obstacle to people coming to faith, but instead the foreign cultural connections of the messenger and the expectation that a Jesus follower must join a foreign cultural community. These kinds of obstacles can be reduced when the gospel is presented by someone within the culture, thereby making rapid growth possible.

How Should We as Outsiders Respond?

To say the least, the phenomenon of Bible-believing followers of Jesus identifying themselves as Muslims, Hindus, etc. has become a hot topic of discussion in mission circles and beyond. In some cases it has led to persecution of these Jesus followers by those in the Church who believe that this phenomenon is a corruption of the faith. Some have even appealed to governmental power to suppress such expressions of faith. As Rebecca Lewis explains in her article starting on page 21, this has been a common practice over the centuries by those trying to maintain what they feel is the “correct” expression of the faith. Tragically, it has led to the martyrdom of tens of thousands of people who were seeking to follow Jesus. In our day, such practices should not be tolerated by any follower of Jesus.

Whether we think that Jesus Movements are a good or bad thing, I hope that we can all agree that these people have the right to follow Jesus according to their conscience and should be free to do so without harassment by people who claim to know the better way to follow Jesus. It is their choice to make whether they stay within the culture of their birth or not, and we should respect their choice.

Jesus Movements are indigenous movements that need to be left to flourish on their own without the kind of outside influence or control that could rob them of their indigenous character and even endanger lives. The members of these movements need to be the ones in charge of the contacts they have with believers and ministries from other cultures. History has shown that even well-meaning endorsement of Jesus Movements can be dangerous. Mission organizations, no matter how well intentioned, need to allow Jesus Movements to take the lead and not try to claim ownership of or authority over these movements.

As followers of Jesus from different cultural backgrounds, we must be willing to allow God to establish biblical faith in other cultures in ways that looks very different from our own. One day, when we stand before the throne of God and worship Jesus along with people from every other tribe and tongue, I do not think we will worship God out of the uniformity of one “Christian” culture but out of the unique cultural expressions of every people. In this way God will be most glorified.

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Amen!  Hallelujah!  Hetch Etu!  Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin! We are all related, and will all worship together.


Thank you Anne for your enthusiastic words. We must also recognize that this is a difficult subject for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ to understand. We must patiently work through the issues with those who have a different view of Jesus Movements. Thank you again for your comments.

Rick Wood
Mission Frontiers

Strange as it may sound, the so-called “Jesus movements” fit perfectly the Jesus agenda and churches do not! Why? Because “true worship” of God, under the “new ccovenant”, is in Spirit and truth and outside all religions (John 4: 21-26) and in complete freedom of “a new and living way through the curtain” torn at Christ’s death on the cross (Heb. 10: 19-25).

Praise God!  For me, this is the best edition ever.  The writers all were saying many of the things I have believed the Lord has been showing us for a while. Glad its out in the open.  Thank you so much.

PRAISE GOD, indeed!


Thank you for your kind words of support. It is my hope that this issue of MF will promote understanding and dialog on this topic and that the overheated rhetoric will be toned down. The people within the Jesus Movements deserve to be understood and their choices respected even when they might not be the choices we would make.

Rick, I think some infighting might be occurring over the extremely differing uses of terminology. I find myself offended at the idea that becoming a Jesus follower would not mean the same as a conversion to Christianity. I’m assuming that the author of that article (in this recent issue of the magazine) is using an entirely different definition of the term than most people I know use. The only definition of “Christian” I know is someone who has become a follower of Christ, who trusts his/her eternal salvation to Jesus Christ, and affirms the Bible as God’s word. And I have a similar problem with the term “Christendom”. Just what is Christendom these days? I don’t think these terms should ever be mixed up with traditional Western culture, which, as far as I can tell, no longer even exists.

If Christ followers are offended by the term “Christianity” does this mean they have disdain for Christ followers in other countries?

For understanding and dialog, I propose unearthing from the Scriptures the means and ways for firsthand knowledge of Jesus Christ. Forgive me if this isn’t what the world needs but Christianity soarely misses today!

To amend my comment above, I meant that I do not ever use the terms “Christian” or “Christianity” to mean something that is just a cultural accretion. Are there people who use them to mean something much much broader? If so, who? I don’t know any other definition than Jesus-followers or the whole body of Christ world-wide for “Christianity”.

Terminology is part of the PROBLEM not the SOLUTION. According to the gospel, the latter is based on Christ’s work of self-revelation, authoring and autographing of faith, and complete freedom of worshipping a knowable God in Spirit and truth. This is not Christianity as we know it. Neither can it ever be!

to vivianclare:
Vivian, I can only give you an example from what I have learned in Native American Ministry.  There are many people who welcome Jesus into their hearts and lives, but who have been so injured as both individuals and as a group, by institutional churches that the very word, “Christian”, brings up painful emotions.  It is not a problem of the Spirit, but of culture, language, and woundedness.  What they have seen and experienced at the hands of “Christians” has been traumatic, to say the least. Why should they be expected to welcome the label that has brought pain and profound loss?  They are not rejecting Jesus, they are simply accepting Him as He is without the trappings of European church culture which has done them so much harm.  They like Jesus, but they have a big problem with the messengers sometimes. (And, I might add, sometimes the said messengers are not nearly as Christ-like as many they are trying to convert).

To Anne Lee Wood,
Thanks for the clarification! There are TWO ISSUES here, viz.: basics and personalities. Given the former (generally lacking insight into Scriptural ways and means for firsthand knowledge of Christ), the insensitivities would be forgivable!

Yes, Ephrem, and I know the Indians to be very forgiving people. In many ways they understand majority culture better than the majorities understand themselves.  However, we must be careful not to take forgiveness lightly. Before a reconciliation can be valid, first of all majority culture must understand the damage done, and accept responsibility for having done it. Also, there must be a plan to change, to make things better, with no strings attached. Then there must be ongoing follow-through.  Otherwise the apology is nothing more than empty words; and majority culture must ever be aware that the reputation of having a “forked tongue” is well deserved.  We must not remain ignorant of our history.  To offer an apology with less than a valid plan for justice carried out is actually an insult to the Indians and to God.  If we offer only words and smiles all we will have done will be to further the prejudices against the Indians; for how do they accept such a proposition if it is not genuine enough for positive action?  And if they refuse, for that valid reason, then how do they avoid blame by those who are ignorant of the true situation?  It’s an untenable position, and apologies should not be entered into without deep and careful thought and prayer.

Will we put our energies and our monies where our mouths are?  But most of all, will we put our hearts and souls where they should be in this situation?

In the meantime, many Indians who already have forgiveness in their hearts through the Grace of God are praying for the majority to finally learn how really to be a Jesus follower.

Firsthand knowledge of Christ (in his self-revealing death on the cross) is the key for unrestrained forgiveness!



This active discussion is wonderful. Just the kind of thing we want to see happen. Vivianclare started things off with the expression of her concern that following Jesus is being referred to as something different from being a Christian. It would be great if being a Christian or Christianity did not come with so much cultural and historical “baggage” but it does and we have to recognize the reality of our situation. Whether we want to admit it or not, the term Christian or Christianity has become offensive terms to many in the world that we would like to see come to follow Jesus. Anne Lee Wood gave us one of these reasons, atrocities committed in the name of Jesus. Whether it was Native American cultural destruction as the hands of European “Christians” or the Crusades, or the destruction of Constantinople, the history of “Christianity” has many offenses that keep people from Jesus. The understanding of what it means to be a Christian has become so distorted in the minds of people all over the world and so far from what following Jesus with biblical faith means that the term has become virtually useless to describe what it means to follow Jesus. Muslims consider Christians to be adulterers. drunkards immoral etc. Unbelievers in America often consider themselves Christians because they consider themselves to be good people.

Language is always changing and when terms lose or change their meaning we have to adapt or find ourselves communicating to people something that is not true. Sixty years ago “feeling gay” meant something completely different than what it means today.

When we go to the peoples of the world we must understand their language and choose to communicate in such a way that the Truth is understood accurately. This means recognizing how our terms are understood. If the word Christian ceases to be an effective term to communicate truth and who we are, then we need to find new words that do not have so much unwanted “baggage.”

To insist on using words that do not communicate the Truth is to insist on being misunderstood. The result is that people do not hear about the real Jesus.


Congratulations on an unbelievably refreshing transparency befitting Jesus’ agenda on ” a Mission without Frontiers” for true worship of a knowable God (John 4: 21-26).

Christianity, apart from its Scriptures, is as handicapped as “used wineskins” are to the “new wine”. We need “fresh wineskins”, a.k.a., “a new way, a living way into the Most Holy Place by means of the death of Jesus” with complete freedom from religions (Matt. 9:17; Heb. 10: 19-26).

Otherwise, Christians are waiting for judgement by “the tree of life”, signifying Christ’s perfect and diacritical death on the cross, preserved in all Holy Scriptures including the Quran (Surah IV. 157-159) and in other alternative religions of the world. Amazing!

Thank you for this recent issue of MF. I work international students and will be on a panel discussion for “Returnee Follow-Up Models” at our upcoming ISI National Conference. I received my recent MF and immediately requested copies for all the attendees of the workshop. This will be an invaluable tool for staff and volunteers who work with students and consider how to help them prepare to go back into their cultures after coming to faith in the U.S. I have also given copies of some of the articles to returnees so we can talk about some of the issues they will face as they return home.



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I wonder what books I can read to learn about the “Jesus Movements” as described here?


The best current resource is the International Journal of Frontier Missiology IJFM. You can search more on the subject at their website,

I Praise God for His Working inspite of our limitations when we are known as Christians and the barriers that are erected when that term “Christian” is used.  My only concern is that we don’t create another “class” of christianity that breeds confusion. i.e. do I need to give up a certain practice because it is ungodly or “never mind”,  I can take “possession” of it and change everything to accommodate my new found internal beliefs.

Where there is clear choice between free FAITH in an exclusively and perpetually self-revealing Christ according to the Scriptures and the CHRISTIAN RELIGION controlled by the churches, the benefits will be far greater than the costs.

I strongly believe in the “Jesus Movement” and pray that believers in the West will also come to understand it.



It would be interesting to know how and why you believe in “Jesus Movements”?  What is it that has convinced you that they are a legitimate expression of the Body of Christ and not a heretical movement as some contend?

Your article on the “Jesus Movements” was both intriguing and confusing.  I am confused because you do not seem to distinguish between a persons culture and his religion.  Culture basically has to do with the customs of a people such as: the American culture, the Greek culture, the German culture, and so forth.  On the other hand religion basically has to do with a persons beliefs such as: good and evil, life after death, and so forth. 

A person can practice his religion in the culture where he lives such as: the Hindu can practice his beliefs in the Indian culture of India, or in the Balinese culture of Indonesia.  The Moslem can practice his religion in the Arab culture in the Middle East , or in the American culture in America.

But a Moslem who becomes a Hindu cannot continue to be a Moslem and follow the Hindu religion.  He cannot continue to call himself a Moslem.  He can continue to call himself an Arab or a Balinese and practice his Hindu religion in either of those cultures but he must choose the beliefs of one or the other religion.  He cannot call himself a Moslem and practice the Hindu beliefs.  If he does he is trying to embrace both beliefs which we know is called syncretism.

Therefore, I need some help in understanding how someone can call themselves a follower of one religion and claim to practice the beliefs of another.

How can someone call themselves a Moslem and claim to be a born again believer in Jesus Christ?

Thank you,



Real or “sacred faith”, a.k.a., “new wine”, makes obsolete all religions, a.k.a., “used wineskins” (Matt. 9:17; Jude 20).  Christianity is no exception.

P.S. Christ’s perfect and diacritical death on the cross, as the critical mass or point of change from being “born of the flesh” to “born spiritually of the Spirit”, which even Christians are ignoring, is known in the HOLY QURAN (Surah, IV. 156-159) as it is in the HOLY BIBLE (John 3: 6-15).


For the Muslim,being a Muslim,it is not only a matter of religious believe but it is also a matter of culture.The Muslim Culture.The Muslim who becomes a follower of Jesus Christ in the ‘Jesus Movement’ embrace his culture and his believe in Jesus Christ(as written in the Bible) and he is NOT embracing or trying to embrace both beliefs.


I was privileged to have the opportunity to read about contextualization of the Gospel and to learn about other cultures foreign to mine.In addition I saw a video of the perspective course that said a lot about explaining the gospel in a way that it’s being understood by the group you are trying to reach.


Dudley and Friends

A great discussion. Dudley’s comments illustrate how difficult it is for us to separate our culture from our religious beliefs. They are often greatly merged but they are distinct. Is the way that I worship Jesus the only possible way. No. Many different peoples use different forms and practices to express their love and devotion to Jesus and those forms and practices come from many sources including religious ones. If what we call Christianity is an exact representation of what it means to follow Jesus then Dudley would have a point in saying they are the same. But no culture, “Christian” or otherwise is the perfect representation of what it means to follow Jesus. I enjoy Christmas trees but I would never say that any person on earth would have to have one in order to follow Jesus.

Islam the religion, has impacted the culture that Muslims grow up in, but there are many seculur Muslims who live within Muslim cultures. Islamic culture would affect the way a Jesus follower prays, and the various forms that he uses to worship Jesus but these forms are not necessarily unbiblical. As I say in my editorial, all of us have to be led by the Spirit to decide what from our culture must be abandoned and what can be given new meaning. No matter what culture we come from, we must always be at work to redeem our culture and bring it back to a biblical worldview.



Thanks God for this rare discussion!

I believe that God’s impartial solution lies in the “sacred faith” as exclusively defined, authored and autographed by the living Christ in his Spirit-active, perfect and diacritical death on the cross, i.e., “the tree of life” which is providentially present in but completely independent of man’s cultures and religions. To wit, Christianity is sadly in denial of the unique way in which Christ fulfilled God’s purpose by dying in Jerusalem (Matt. 16:18; Luke 9:31). 

It is also written that true worship of God, “as he really is”, is characterized by “complete freedom to go into the Most Holy Place by means of the death of Jesus” on which is based God’s self-revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit pouring out from the pierced side of Jesus.

We have no other choice than resolving unconditionally and individually the complete incompatibility between “true worship” and man’s religions (including Christianity)!

Dudley’s perspective shared on June 8 caught my attention, and Rick W. responded already on June 9. I think Woldeyesus was also on the same topic but I am not entirely sure! As Rick W. shared, it is very hard for us to see our own perspective clearly. However, Rick framed his response entirely within our categories and I think there is good reason to challenge our basic distinction and dichotomizing of religion and culture. The distinction between religion and culture is an extension of the distinction between the sacred and the secular, and this springs from an Enlightenment worldview and not from a biblical worldview. It seems to me that this is what Woldeyesus is moving towards, although the nasty (in my perspective) Enlightenment word “sacred” appears in her/his comment. In our biblical worldview every aspect of life is “sacred” (Col. 3:22-24 for example) so every act is “religious” (which is how devout Muslims and Hindus tend to view life); when we dichotomize in an Enlightenment fashion we get into unsolvable quagmires.

I have been thinking about this issue of following Jesus without leaving ones previous religion. Living in the American West I have many LDS friends. They already feel that they follow Jesus and they are very involved in their religion (and I have never encouraged them to leave their faith). Is it in their best interests then to encourage them to continue following Jesus in the Mormon religion? Continue to support their door to door missions, their local ward, their relief society, their every morning before school seminary, their active involvement in their church. etc. They really do seem to love and support one another to an extent that most “Christian” churches do not. They have their own culture and they do not want to change or leave it.

This does not seem any different than encouraging a Muslim or Hindu to continue in their faith while believing in Jesus.

Putting this issue into an American home grown religion context does anyone see it differently?

The “source of life” (defined in Christ’s death on the cross) has already brought light to shine on mankind in the darkness. While the light is here, the individual’s choice is between walking in the light and walking in the dark. I choose the former. (John 12: 35-36)

Dear Rick,
By accidentally coming across the MF, and by reading through it I found your magazines website. I registered today as a reader.
I am amazed by the theory that you have put forward in your article that one can still be a follower of the God’s word while belonging to his/her being a Muslim or Buddist or Hindu or any other religious entity.
I fully support this novel idea that we break down barriers to unite before God. I live in a Himalayan country. In this region people are strongly bonded with their inherited culture, religion and social customs. Now I realise that this idea faals in line with peace and harmony of our fellow human beings who all are Gods children. I am hoping to promote, participate and support your endeavours.
Yours faithfully



It takes firsthand knowledge of Christ based on his repeated promise of self-revelation at his verifiably Spirit-active, perfect and diacritical death on the cross, and effortless growing in his grace and knowledge to know how to secure his presence both to baptize in the Holy Spirit and to teach personally new disciples (Matt. 28: 18-20).

Only thus can the process of discipleship training proper resume and religious differences fade away. Not otherwise! 

Kathy, I think your thoughts on an American version of an “insider” approach brings out important aspects of the discussion that need to be clearly seen. The key point is that what the MF issue was attempting to present was true discipleship to Jesus as taught in the Bible even though it is worked out in what traditionally would be considered alien religious contexts. Clearly there will be changes and challenges for anyone entering into such a relationship with Christ, and nothing that minimizes that or an ongoing process of growth in discipleship can be considered legitimate. So the first question is whether there is a sincere surrender to Christ as Lord; we can never read people’s hearts but we are instructed to look at fruit and evaluate the legitimacy of professions. Where there is a legitimate surrender to Christ as Lord the working out of discipleship follows. In a Hindu or Muslim or LDS context there will be complicated places where social association and spiritual compromise are difficult to sort out; you have listed some of those. It seems to me the key question to ask here is whether your LDS friends are involved in activities for the glory of Christ and spread of his good news, whether immediately or in the long term. If the answer is NO, they are only doing what is expected and convenient, then I do not see how this in any way relates to true discipleship to Jesus. If they are indeed concerned for the glory of Christ then there should be the possibility of open discussion about whether their actions really can and will promote his glory; if you engage that discussion as a humble lover of Christ it should be welcome; if you give the impression that you have answers for others to obey it will probably not go well. If this kind of discussion is not possible this is indicative of a serious problem and probably not a sincere discipleship to Jesus. That, anyway, is how I would suggest we view this question.

The more Christians mind their own business and stop completely meddling in God’s work of self-revelation in Christ’s death on the cross, of child-bearing spiritually of the Spirit, and of their sustainable growth in his grace and knowledge (according to the terms and seal in the “new covenant”), the better for all the world!

This is so confusing for me.  I love and appreciate the diversity of people & places in the earth.  BUT I don’t consider the US to be a Christian nation.  I am a Christian in the US and so I guess to a large extent I practice following Jesus Christ in the context of this culture ... BUT I consider the US to be a part of the “world” - prideful, selfish, greedy, rebellious, foolish worshiping money, fame, appearance, status—materialism.  And I guess I just think that while God so loved the world ...  that people on the earth basically fall into one category or the other .... alive or dead!!!  New Creation in Christ Jesus or sinner lost (in Adam)  Citizen of Heaven or citizen of earthly culture.  I don’t want to be religous, I just want to be controlled by the Spirit of God.  I want to respect all people and love them like Jesus does; but I just don’t understand this discussion at all - wish i could get it.


Didn’t I tell you this can be rather confusing. The question is whether someone who is born into an non-Christian cultural context has to leave in order to follow Jesus. All cultures including ours in the US are unbiblical in some way or another. As followers of Jesus we have to discern what from our culture has to be rejected, and what has to be given new meaning in order for it to be part of our worship and church practice.  People differ on whether a Muslim, Buddhist etc has to leave his culture and the community of his birth in order to follow Jesus. That is about as simple as I can make it.

Rick, you know it is far easier to know personally and follow Jesus Christ by non-Christians, based on his self-revelation in his death on the cross, than by Christians.

It was a difficult thing for a first century Jesus-believing Jew to grasp that anyone could possibly claim to follow the Jewish Messiah without converting to Judaism.  It didn’t make sense.  Was he or she going to remain a pagan?  God forbid!  I expect many only began to accept it when they met some of these pagan-background believers for themselves and recognised in them the same Spirit of Jesus.  That seems to have been Peter’s experience.
It is a difficult thing for a twenty-first century Christian to grasp that anyone could possibly claim to follow the Christian Christ without converting to Christianity.  It doesn’t make sense.  It will be especially difficult for those who have no opportunity to personally met some of these non-Christian-background believers and recognise for themselves the Spirit of Jesus.  It may be useful to bear this in mind.

It is by far more important not to miss Jesus’ World Ministry which was inaugurated in his Spirit-active, perfect and diacritical death on the cross, a.k.a., the universally acknowledged “tree of life” (John 21:25; as summarized in Rev. 5).


I submit that the cause of our divisions is the secular concept of “members of the Body of Christ” which is completely foreign to the Bible!

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.  1 Cor12:12 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Cor 12:27 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  1 Cor 6:14

I still don’t understand this idea of being a muslim but worshipping Christ!!!  Doesn’t all that being a Christian mean is someone who believes in & worships Christ Jesus?!?! 

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  Galatians 3:26

Faith in Christ Jesus is all that is required for salvation and being born again and being a new creation ... being a “Christian” ...  someone is either in Christ or not in Christ .. it doesn’t matter what they were ... what language, food, music, culture ... all that matters is Christ!

Although lost to Christianity for good, the author of all the passages you quoted (Paul) admits that the exclusive source of “sound doctrine” is found in the gospel, a.k.a., “the Good News”, as taught directly by “the glorious and blessed God” or Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1: 10-11).

Accordingly, all the passages shy from fully identifying “the body of Christ”, i.e., his divine image, even to genuine copies of the body (true believers) let alone to their corporal counterparts (Christians). The dividing line is the new order of universal worship of Christ’s divine identity and absolute authority as perpetually demonstrated in his death on the cross, a.k.a., a completely free, new and “living” way into the Most Holy Place (John 2: 21-22; 4: 21-26; Heb. 10: 19-26).

Salvation, being born again, becoming God’s children and sustainable faith all depend on prior and personal knowledge of Jesus Christ strictly as prescribed and dispensed! (John 3: 1-21; 8: 21-28; 19: 30-37)

It makes sense for a Jew to be a Christian and a Jew at the same time.  The apostles did the very same thing.  Judaism, in its purist form, is from God.  But we can’t say that about all other religions.

How can one call himself a Hindu and be a follower of Christ.  If one calls himself a Hindu, doesn’t that mean he subscribes to Hinduism?  Doesn’t that mean he thinks it is acceptable to try to seek god through idolatry?  What fellowship hath the temple of God with idols.  The Bible instructs us “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord.”  Do men who want to worship God, and follow Jesus have the right to worship idols?  Certain not.  They may have legal protection, but it is not right for them to do so.  Those who worship idols must stand before God at the day of judgment.  If workers of iniquity who come to Jesus who can claim to have prophesied and done many wonderful works in His name will be rejected, will idolaters who remained in idolatry fair any better?  I don’t recall the apostles teaching those who were a part of the cult of Diana to keep going to the temple.  They were told to flee from idolatry.

Islam is a bit more complicated, since they do claim to worship the God of Abraham.  There seems to be a reasonable enough case for the use of the word ‘Allah’ being a pre-Islamic word for God.  Some Christians named their children Abdullah, perhaps after an early evangelist to the Arabs.  Their concept of God is quite different.  When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman, she said, “Ye worship ye know not what.”  Whether He was talking about prostrating to Mt. Gerazim, or to which god/God she was prostrating to, is something that may be debated.  But he did not endorse her religion.  He told her the truth. 

I can understand a little bit of ‘spoiling the Egyptians’—using the Koran to point people to Christ.  But you don’t leave them thinking the Koran is true.  You don’t put the Koran on a pedestal next to the Bible in a mosque.  I can understand Christians explaining that they are the ‘true Muslims’ in a conversation, since Muslims mean ‘submitters.’  They can say they are truly submitted to God.  But when you get out of the Arabic speaking Islamic countries, where many Muslims live, like Turkey, Iran, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, calling yourself a ‘Muslim’ when you are a Christian comes off as dishonest particularly if you do it without specifically explaining the point.

Christians should be culturally sensitive.  When someone converts to Christianity, he doesn’t have to stop wearing the wrap around skirt around his waist like they do in Bangladesh or Indonesia.  He doesn’t have to tell his wife to stop wearing a head covering.  He doesn’t have to eat pork or buy a bottle of wine.  He doesn’t have to eat with a fork and knife instead of using his hands.  There are good things about how Muslims organize, being very community based.  Churches can follow Biblical patterns about elders raised up from within the congregation, which is contextual enough for a Muslim environment, instead of some of the extraBiblical traditions of treating ministry like a professional vocation as we see so much in the west where young people go to special schools.  Contextual—yes.  Compromising the Gospel—no.

There are white missionaries who go to Islamic countries and confuse the daylights out of people there, who are used to people who follow Jesus calling themselves Christians or Nazranis, or whatever.  The missionaries tell them to go to the mosque and change the words to their prayer.  They don’t baptize the people like the great commission says.  I guess they think if people repeat a prayer, they can keep going to the mosque.  But what is going to happen to the children who grow up in these mosques? 

In some cases, it seems like avoiding persecution may be an objective.  Some white missionaries overseas act like they are spies, talking in code (my favorite is ‘C4’—great spy talk to use on airplanes).  The church should not be compromised.  This reminds me of the verse:

Galatians 5:11
Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

Maybe the missionaries want to build up a momentum in society and slowly try to transform the mosques.  I don’t see the apostles doing such things.  They told the Christians to flee idolatry.  They were bold and perhaps even confrontational enough about the faith in the synagogues so that the synagogues we know about that Paul ministered in rejected the message, and the church would go elsewhere.  I don’t see Paul secretly winning a few converts, try to get them in positions of readers and elders in the synagogue—secretly, getting one to become the archisynagogue, and slowly converting a few leaders, and secretly and quietly converting the synagogue that way. 

God doesn’t just want individual converts.  He wants churches.  Christianity isn’t just about a ‘personal relationship with Jesus.’  If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us with all sins.  God wants saints who love one another, who are knitted together.  He weaves the saints together.  He is forming a beautiful bride for his Son.  His plan is not a bride of individual unconnected believers changing the words to the prayers in a mosque, but believers who know and love one another.  This happens in churches, not church buildings, but in church assemblies and communities.  And not every meeting has to be about evangelism.  Church meetings edify the saints, strengthen them, and help them grow. 

Has any “church planting movement” grown out of the type of missionary work where people still call themselves Hindus and Muslims go to the temple or mosque and change their words, pretending to be in agreement with the religious principles of unbelievers?  The church planting movements I have heard about that grow rapidly identify with Christ, and many of them are persecuted. 


Thank you for your comments. Let me emphasize again that we are not talking about compromising the gospel in any way. In order to be considered a Jesus Movement a group of people would have to be committed to the authority of the word of God and to the Lordship of Christ as their Savior. We are describing what is actually happening around the world where people are coming to faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord while remaining within the culture of their birth. Whether they choose to stay in the mosque or to come together in a Jesus Mosque is their choice. As I say in my editorial, we as outsiders should leave them to make their own choices under the direction of the Holy Spirit and not try to endorse, promote or hinder them in their choices. They need to be in control not outsiders.

The fact is that many Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus while remaining culturally Muslim. A missionary friend of mine with 25 years experience working in the Philippines says that this is the only approach that is actually working among Muslims.

We need to understand that much of what we call Christianity is not the gospel but a set of cultural trappings that have become a significant barrier to people coming to faith in Jesus. We do not want our culture to get in the way of people seeing and accepting the real biblical Jesus. That is what this discussion is all about.


To Rick Wood,

Thank you for responding. You said that these people should decide to leave the mosque or not based on their own decision, not our as outsiders.  If a man is in Christ, and I am in Christ, how am I an outsider to him, or he to me?  If I were doing something inconsistent with the Gospel, an Indian or Filipino would be well within his rights to correct me, just as I would if I saw someone doing the same thing. 

In the past, some of the western approaches to missions were ethnocentric and foolish.  Having generations of European or American clergyman from overseas serve as clergy a mission instead of appointing qualified locals, if present, to minister as elders in their own communities is foolish.  It is also contrary to apostolic example.  But in the cases where the American or whatever nationality, God-sent missionary goes abroad and brings the Gospel to a new village and a church is started, he has a responsibility to disciple those people.  It is not about his race.  I think some of the American missionaries I’ve met have ridden the pendulum too far on the other side, thinking of church governance as a racial issue.  Paul didn’t mind caring for new churches even though he was Jewish and many of the churches may have been primarily Gentile. 

I am also wondering what you mean by ‘culturally Muslim’.  Is this a C4 or a C5 approach?  Are you talking about not eating pork and wearing certain clothes, or praying to God in the name of Muhammad?

I agree with the comments made by Link.  Link has said more clearly what i was trying to say earlier!

Link and Robin

You seem to have a very positive view of what it means to be a “Christian”. You use the term over and over again not realizing how culturally bound you are to your perspective of what a “Christian” is. For those who are not believers and not part of the “Church” the term has a whole host of negative associations, all of which keep people from being able to see and understand who the biblical Jesus really is. By saying that everyone must become a “Christian” you are by definition asking them to adopt your interpretation of what that term means. You have already started putting up unnecessary barriers to them coming to Jesus. For the Muslim, a “Christian” is a drunkard, immoral, prayerless and ungodly person. We may disagree with their interpretation but for the Muslim that is what he hears when you ask him to become a Christian. So to insist on using terms that will be misunderstood is to insist on miscommunicating. Even here in the US the term “Christian” has become so misunderstood so as to be a virtually useless term to describe what is means to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. In many places you ask people what it means to be a Christian and you will get answers like they are people that hate women and gays and are trying to create a theocracy.

If we are ever going to bring the gospel to every tribe and tongue we have to get outside of our own cultural bubble and see how others perceive us so that we can communicate in such a way that we are communicating biblical truth in a way that can be understood.

We must all realize that culture is one of the most powerful forces on earth and we must deal with it with wisdom if we are to penetrate the barriers that keep people from Jesus. We must also realize how culturally bound we are before we try to bring the gospel to others. Otherwise we end up bringing our culture and not just the gospel.

A number of people in this discussion seem to think that it is obligatory for us to involve ourselves in these Jesus Movements and to set them straight on how to be a proper “Christian.” These people live in a very precarious position and even a very well meaning endorsement can cost them their lives. Do we trust the Holy Spirit to guide these people or do we have to step in do God’s job for Him?  Those who have chosen freely to stay within the culture of their birth, should be in control of their contacts with those outside their culture. They know far better than we what the risks are and they are the only ones who have the right to take risks with their well being.

Our job in missions to is to make the gospel “indigenous” to every tribe and tongue. The term indigenous means normal and natural, not looking like a foreign import. For that to happen the people inside a culture have to be the ones to decide which parts of their culture must be rejected and which must be reinterpreted or given new meaning . Every culture has to do this including our own. It is just that when the cultural differences become very wide, we get uncomfortable with allowing others the freedom to apply the Bible to their own cultural context.

I will close with this. I have studied indigenous Jesus Movements among Muslims for many years. Around 15 years ago a survey was done of people who were following Jesus while remaining within their Islamic culture, ie. they were not joining the local Christian church. Their responses were rock solid biblically sound in terms of their understanding of biblical authority and the person of Christ. You would not have gotten as biblical a response from the elders of many “Christian: churches. We have to understand that it is all about biblical authority and following Jesus in obedience and not about the group you belong to or the label over the door.


I guess this is still just not easy to understand ... but i want to be sure and say:  Praise the LORD for every person of every people group that receives the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  And yes, only the HOLY SPIRIT can lead each of us into true understanding and fellowship with GOD and each other.  I do not want to impose or import the “western or american” version of “Christianity” on any other cultural group ... I do respect that following Jesus is highly individual and also different among different people groups - Yea GOD for all the glorious diversity He has created and we need each other and have much to learn from each other.  I guess I just equate the word “Christian” with true Biblical born again follower of Jesus Christ - in whatever culture one may live in and so just struggle with the idea that one could follow the ways of any other religion whether it be atheism, new ageism, wicca, hinduism, islam ... which since they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as LORD are not of God - so necessarily are of the god of this age ... i don’t think Paul would have given a pass to the people of Ephesus or any other area to continue going to the temple where false gods where being worshipped ... ?  I am deeply sorry for all the confusion and misunderstanding and wrongdoing/teaching that exists under the umbrella term of Christianity!  For there is truly only One Faith, One Body, One Church, One Baptism ... that applies to all the born again Believers that receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  May the Lord be blessed and glorified in all the earth in all His People.  We are so blessed to belong to HIM.  Grace and Peace to all who love Jesus.  Grace and mercy to all who haven’t met Him yet.  So i don’t want to argue with you brother.  I guess you have more experience and knowledge of this than i do—not guess, acknowledge you do.  I just pray that all of us who belong to Jesus Christ will grow up in the grace and knowledge of Him and please Him in every way!  God bless you all.  Praise the Lord for His undying and never failing love for us!!!

To Link,
Can u please go through the church history and learn how we came about this term “christian” and the issue of these church cathedrals doting the landscape of the world,with all the clergies arrayed in different names.Was that the foundation laid by Jesus?
The truth is that christianity is more of political name than the spirituality we are attaching to it.If a set of people is referred to as Jesus Movement and they are worshipping God in Spirit and Truth,Lets just hold them in prayer before God to sustain the moves.For as wind bloweth and nobody knows where it cometh from and where it goes,so is any one born of the Spirit(John 3:8paraphrase).WE CAN’T BOX THE HOLY SPIRIT!


Thanks for responding.  I use to the term ‘Christian’ to refer to followers of Jesus.  If believers call themselves Nazarenes or followers of the Way, we are still Christians. 

Jesus said blessed are you when men shall speak ‘all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake”.  If Muslims consider Christians to be prayerless drunkards because they do not sholat 5 times a day and drink wine for communion, should CHristians change the name they identify themselves with over this?  In the first and second centuries, Christians were accused of killing babies.  I don’t recall their ‘rebranding’ over this.  It reminds me of Anderson consulting changing its name afte rthe Enron crisis.  Christ as accused of being a winebibber for eating and drinking with publicans.  He didn’t change his name. 

The word ‘Christian’ may have been used in a derrogatory manner.  I Peter 4:16 says, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”  The apostles used the term.  Should we ‘rebrand’ for cultural reasons?  Christians were known by many names, but we are all to identify with Christ.  Perhaps we are talking past each other.  The idea of a Hindu follower of Jesus is a contradiction in terms.  ‘Christian’ is not a culture.  It would be ethnocentric for American Christians to think of individualistic modern American culture as ‘Christian culture.’  There is a great variety of cultures among Christians.  There are supposed to be some common beliefs and ethics that unite us across cultures.

The messier problem is baggage that ‘Christian’ carries with it because of extreme preachers or people not walking in accordance with the teachings of Christ.  A friend of mine who lived in Israel says when a white Gentile shares the Gospel with a Jew, he has to discuss the crusades, though Asian Christians do not.  I disagree with the idea that ‘Christian’ is associated with hating gays, etc. in US culture.  ‘Born again’ is a much more loaded term, politically.  I am more concerned with Muslims thinking that Christians think homosexual behavior and all the perversion that comes out of the US entertainment industry is okay. 

Whatever Christians call themselves, can we really fool anyone if we don’t use the term Christian.  If you say you believe in Jesus, people are going to put you in the ‘Christian’ box.  Islam teaches that it is okay to lie to promote Islam.  But if a believer in Jesus says he is not a Christian, and that He is a Muslim, and then tells people to put their faith in Jesus, the Son of God, that He died on the cross, and rose from the dead, won’t the Muslims say he was lying when he said he wasn’t a Christian?  If a believer in Jesus denies being a Christian and claims to be a Muslim and a follower of Muhammad, and takes a position as mosque youth director, shares the gospel and baptizes people, and they beat him up or kill him, how honorable is this suffering?  Is he suffering for Christ’s sake, or is he suffering because he lied about being a Muslim and not being a Christian.  If he were to suffer as a Christian, this is commendable before God according to Peter.  But what about suffering because you lie?

And how many people who believe in Jesus can feel like they are not lying if they say that they are not Christians?  Or if they say they are Hindus or Buddhists? 

Perhaps we are speaking past each other.  In my understanding, Hinduism is not a culture.  How culturally similar are Indian Hindus and Balinese Hindus?  Islam is not a distinct culture.  There are certain aspects of Islam that permiate cultures where it is the dominant religion, but there is a great deal of variety, no doubt, among Turkish, Gulf Arabic, Bengali, and Indonesian cultures. 

As believers in Christ, why would we want Hindu culture to exist.  Hinduism is a false religion dedicated to worshipping idolatries.  There are good, true beliefs in any culture and among adherants of various religions, including Hinduism, but the idolatry and some of the philosophy should be completely irradicated from the hearts of believers in Christ. 

I spent just under a decade in a predominantly Islamic country.  If I minister the word as a guest at a church, I believe I have as much right to speak as a guest who is from that country.  If I am a part of a congregation of people from the ethnic groups of that country, I have as much right as other believers to encourage the saints there.  Does being foreign mean you can’t join in and be a part of the church?

To Robin, cont.

In my experience overseas, it is the white foreign missionaries that are promoting the idea of hypercontextualization where people believe in Jesus but profess membership in the other religion.  I heard some opposition to this idea from the established local churches there.  How indigineous is this idea in any culture?  Isn’t the ‘Jesus mosque’ idea yet another example of foreign missionaries exporting an extra-Biblical, or perhaps unBiblical, concept into foreign cultures in most cases? 

In Islamic contexts, Biblical style house meetings with Biblical, grassroots leadership can be very contextual.  Some Islamic practices are actually Christian practices that western Christians have forgotten about.  Our Bibles say ‘worship’ when referring to prostration.  Muslims prostrate all the time.  Christians can prostrate in prayer.  James says to say, “If the Lord wills, I will live and do this or that” when making plans, and the apostles wrote things like “if the Lord permits.”  Muslims say “Inshallah” when making plans.  Church can be very contextualized.  We need to be aware of contextualization turning into denying Christ.  If people are taught not to call themselves Christians to distance themselves from Christ or from Christ’s people in order to avoid persecution, doesn’t that run contrary to the teaching of the New Testament? 

I don’t know if it can be measured, but how big is the C5 type of growth?  How much growth is there among believers in Jesus who still call themselves Muslims, still go to the mosque, etc?  Why should they do such a thing?  What kind of witness is that compared to standing up for Christ?  The church planting movements I have read and heard about that have grown rapidly are clear about their identity as followers of Christ.  Many of them face a lot of persecution as well.

Robin and Link

I do not have time to give a lengthy detailed answer to all of your points but I will point out some principles that must guide our thinking in terms of Jesus Movements. The title of my editorial above, which I hope you will read again, asks the question, How should we respond? We can argue all year whether we think that Jesus Movements are a good or bad thing but the real question is how do we respond to this new reality. These movements are not just the creation of some missionaries. These are groups of people who have of their own free will chosen to stay within the culture of their birth and they now number in the millions. How should we respond?

Here are some foundational principles which I hope all believers can agree upon.
1. We need to approach all people with love and respect for who they are, no matter how we feel about their culture. God accepts us where we are in our journey to God and allows us plenty of time and patience to learn and make mistakes and we should offer the Jesus Movements the same thing.
2. It is their God given right to follow Jesus according to their conscience. It is not our job to force them to leave their culture or to stay in their culture. It is their choice to make and we should respect their choice.
3. Believers should not persecute or try to destroy these movements as is currently happening in some places.
4. We should put them in control of the contact they have with outsiders, their lives depend on it. We should not endorse or hinder their efforts to follow Jesus. We should be available to assist them at their request.
5. We need to try to understand the difficult choices that these people have to make. As I mention above, they often pay a heavy price for following Jesus no matter whether they stay in their culture or leave to join a foreign one.
6. We need to pray for them, that the Holy Spirit would lead them and guide them into obedience to the truths of Scripture.
7. We need to approach this topic with a abundance of grace towards one another. There has been far too much heated rhetoric on this subject. Believers should not treat each other as enemies or heretics because they have a different viewpoint on this subject. We must all be open and teachable, ready to listen and try to understand the other person’s perspective. This issue of MF was designed to promote understanding and a civil discussion of these movements.
8. We should all rejoice when anyone from any culture is honestly studying the Bible in search of the biblical Jesus.

Thank you for the great discussion.


Christianity has fallen far behind the testimonies in the Scriptures.

The “old covenant”, including the Law of Moses, the writings of the prophets and the Psalms, has expired at Jesus’ last words, “It is finished” (Matt. 13: 16-17; John 19: 30-37).

The “new covenant” writable on people’s hearts by the power of God’s Spirit alone has been activated in Christ’s death on the cross (Jer. 31; 31-34; Matt. 26: 26-29; 27: 50-56).

Paul wrote, “It is he who made us capable of serving the new covenant, which consists not of a written law but of the Spirit. The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:6)               

The question is: are we catching up?

Rick, Do you know Carl Medearis? He has written books about presenting Jesus to Muslims. He does not “evangelize,” but opens up discussions with Muslims. He finds them very open to learning about Jesus and his teachings. Carl would love to know about you, if he doesn’t already!
I fully favor supporting MF. You are a wonderful source of info re: what’s happening in world evangelism. We are a small non-profit. I’ve recommended to my Co-Founder financial support for MF.

I personally believe we need to give more emphasis to praying for the Unreached Peoples. I offer a free service to pastors [and others] who are willing to pray once a week for a specific Unreached People. I do the research. I will send a weekly email giving basic information to facilitate prayer. If you’re a pastor, you can take my info to your pulpit on Sunday morning [or any time] and lead your congregation in a brief prayer for that one specific Unreached People. Incidentally, it will be the same Unreached People featured for that very Sunday by Global Prayer Digest. This means the congregation will be joining 70,000 praying persons that Sunday who will be praying for the same Unreached People.
Send me an email asking me to put you on my email list [[email protected]]. Nothing to pay or to buy. No fundraising. Visit my website for more info. [] And click on “My Story” to know more about me. Don Marchant

Rick,  I disagree with the way that you keep redefining the term culture.  You seem to refer to culture in both a religious sense, followed by an ethnic sense, followed by a civilization sense.  The reason that it would take a year to discuss the Jesus Movement is because you won’t stick to a specific definition.  Define the term, once, and stick to it and I think you would find that Robin and Link agree that converts to Christ don’t need to call themselves Christian or any other historical name associated with Christianity.  But perhaps you would agree with us (and most of Orthodox Christianity) that if they are really converts to Christ they shouldn’t be allowed to continue worship gods other than Christ.  As Link was trying to point out, HOW they worship can be a point where they may have a lot of freedom, who they worship, does not.  As Christ pointed out, you cannot serve 2 masters.

1.  I agree with the first sentence of the first principle.  I also agree that God is patient and kind.  But Biblically, we are to resist false teaching and if our converts are worshipping anyone other than Christ, then this is a false teaching.
2.  I can agree that this is their God given right to choose Christ or not.
3.  Agreed, persecution is never a good thing but neither is corrupting the faith or false teaching.  Paul was willing to hand members of the church over directly to Satan to show them the error of their ways.  Christ chased money lenders out of the Temple with a whip.  The specific circumstances that you refer to would have to be known in order for us to discuss them intelligently. 
4 - 8.  Wholeheartedly agree.

Hopefully, we can agree about the definitions of the terms we will use on this post and garciously discuss the ideas in love and submission.


Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Religious faith and culture impact each other and often overlap. This is where confusion comes in. Before I became a believer, I referred to myself as a Christian even though I had no real understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. The Christian faith had impacted the culture in which I lived to such a degree that I accepted myself as a Christian when I did not meet the religious requirements of such a label. Does calling myself a Christian make me one?  No, but outsiders to the Christian faith would have no way of distinguishing whether I was one or not so they accept my confession at face value.

IF someone calls himself a Muslim, does that mean he is religiously Muslim or simply a cultural Muslim? It would depend on his attendance at mosque and his adherence to the 5 pillars but he could be culturally Muslim simply because of the culture he grew up in and the impact that Islam has had on his cultural identity and practices. Does the label of Muslim keep someone out of the kingdom? If they submit to Jesus as Savior and Lord and study the Bible in order to obediently follow Him does that not make a person part of the Body of Christ regardless of the label. There are Muslim followers of Jesus who are more orthodox in their biblical beliefs about Scripture, Jesus and salvation than many in the Presbyterian Church but many get all hung up over the labels because we want nice neat categories to put people into.

In order for someone to be considered part of a Jesus Movement there has to be a change in their religious activity whether they are in Islam, Hinduism etc. They have to put their faith in the Bible as the source for their faith and in Jesus as the only savior. They must also be willing to give up whatever the Holy Spirit tells them they must abandon as not Biblical. This is the same standard for every follower of Jesus regardless of what culture they live in and what they call themselves.

I do not know if this helps you or not in terms of definitions.

Rick Wood

To receive the right to become one of God’s children, once and for all, it suffices to personally know Jesus Christ in his characteristically Spirit-active, perfect and transfigurative death on the cross producing his powerful self-revelation, a.k.a., the POINT OF CHANGE for our “being born spiritually of the Spirit”, growth in his grace, knowledge and faith according to but independent of the Bible.


Thank you for latest post.  I can wholeheartedly agree with you now.  God Bless!


Thank you for your openness to consider new ideas and concepts and not just reject them out of hand.

Rick Wood

Wow - Praise the LORD for peace and reconcilliation and unity in the Body!  I have been noticing a lot on facebook lately that it often takes a restating or some discussion to arrive at mutual understanding.  Language is an interesting thing - even when we speak the same language and even when we agree sometimes the communication is hindered!  Your latest posts bless my heart and i would humbly submit that i think they please the LORD!  God bless you brothers.  Saved by the blood of the Lamb!  All glory to God!  so anyway i know you are blessed, but again i say:  God bless you all.

This passage comes to mind,

Hebrews 11
24By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

I suppose I can understand why some people may not want to use ‘Christian’ as the primary way to identify themselves if it is associated in the minds of others with the inauthentic ‘cultural Christianity’ of the west.  I still see this as problematic, since the New Testament seems to sanctify the word when it says, “If any man suffer as a Christian.”

If someone says, “I am not a Christian, I am a Hindu/Mus1im who believes in Jesus”—is this a good thing?  By claiming not to be a Christian, doesn’t the individual distance himself with the genuine people of God who really are Christians.  (I have discussed the problems with calling oneself a Hindu or a Mus1im and claiming to be a Christian in prior comments.)

Westerners tend to be individualists who think of themselves as distinct from their in-group.  We have come up with such innovations as treating ‘personal Savior’ as a mark of orthodoxy.  I’ve got my own personal computer.  It’s mine, not yours, and I don’t have to share it with the world.  We call Jesus our ‘personal Savior.”  Many people think that Christianity is only about having a ‘personal relationship with Christ’  But I sure see a lot of emphasis on the importance of our relationship with one another, on unity with other believers, and on our all being knit together to form a body.  Collectively, we are the bride of Christ. 

This passage also comes to mind.

Hebrews 13
3Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Here believers are to identify with their brethren who are bound, as if we are bound with them.  We are all part of one body.  Can’t calling oneself a Hindu or Mus1im follower of Jesus be a means of distancing oneself from other believers in the body? 

It is one thing to stay in the community and keeping those relationships MacGravan called ‘bridges of God’ open for the Gospel to spread.  But isn’t identifying with the people of God, and suffering affliction because of it, even if it means bridges get burned, important as well?

There is absolutely nothing in common between the bond among true believers in a personally knowable Christ free of time, place and group and their former religion (e.g., Christian, Hindu or Muslim).

I think that unless someone has lived and worked to minister among these three populations, it would be difficult to truly understand. The wall that comes from having “change religions” (read: change culture, in that person’s mind) is something that each worker on the ground has to overcome.  I used to fight some of these insider movement principles and after a few years, I have started embracing them. 

The IJFM is a good start for those who are not familiar with the conversation and also Charles Kraft’s book “Appropriate Christianity” where he reminds us that our faith is primarily an allegiance to Jesus Christ versus being a competing “religion.” 
We are working on pushing some of the boundaries here in the Theravada Buddhist world.  We are far behind what is already taking place in the Muslim and Hindu world.

Our motivation is first and foremost “the glory of God” and secondly that we might by any means “win some to Christ.”

AMEN to the infinite power!

I have never read something like this before Want to know more Please send me the book. Thanks


As your post points out, for better or worse our perosnal identity in our culture is wrapped up in our individualism.  In many other cultures their personal identity for better or worse is wrapped up in their community which is specifically Hindu/Muslim/Budhist.  So a good analogy of what a cultural Hindu/Muslim/Budhist would be giving up in terms of their identity would be if you gave up your name.  Instead of being Link, you (and all Christians) must identify yourself as Jesus from now on.  What you wear and eat now is decided by the patriarch of your particular denomination. 

As Juliet said:  “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” - Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2).  We should look at the lives of these believers (and all believers starting with ourselves) to see if the Fruit of the Spirit are being manifested, are they glorifying Christ, do they love their brothers and sisters in Christ?

If I believe the Lord required me to give up my name, I would.  The first century believers were probably living in collectivist cultures, at least in comparison to modern Americans and Europeans.  They probably had marriages arranged by their parents (there is a possible allusion to it in I Corinthians 7) and practiced various other collectivist practices.  The Jerusalem Christians shared food.  Some ‘collectivist’ things are required of believers, like exhorting one another to sin, looking out for sin among us, etc.  Collectivists can probably understand and apply some of these commands more easily than Christians.

The early Christians had to be willing to give up their ‘collective’ for the sake of the Gospel.  But they formed a new collective, a large family of believers.  Christ came to set a man at variance with members of his own household.  Families split over the Gospel.  But they learned to share and rely on one another.  How would this have been possible if they did not form an identity as a part of the church collective?  Paul wrote, ‘wherefore come ye out from among them and be ye separate.’

I certainly see value in the MacGravin concept of bridges of God and maintaining relationships.  We shouldn’t seek to burn bridges with our family.  But a lot of bridges are burnt when someone converts to Christ, and that may happen more often in some of the collectivist cultures than in individualist cultures.  It can also hurt a lot more.  But it happened in the first century.  Yet we don’t see where Paul told pagans to call themselves Zeus-worshipper followers of Jesus. 

If individuals stay as isolated followers of Jesus, still labeled with another religion, how do we expect to see the church find a place in that society in the long term?  Usually the first generation of the church in a society face persecution.  But in some societies, the community of believers in Jesus come to have an accepted role in society.  The people in the society come to accept the idea that one can be a member of ethnic group X and also be a follower of Christ.  How does the ‘Hindu follower of Jesus’ thing turn into a multi-generational movement?  If someone keeps calling himself a Hindu so as not to burn any bridges, especially if he actually participates in Hindu ceremonies, how can he have an impact on people connected to him through those bridges?  Those who take a stand for Christ and for righteousness, and in many cases have to face persecution because of it, are the ones who have the impact.

Are there any examples of this more extreme type of ‘insider movement’ in scripture?


You asked if there are example of Jesus Movements in Scripture. If you look over the contents of this issue you will see an article by John Ridgway where he describes how Jesus approached people of different cultures and did not require them to join his Jewish band of disciples. On the contrary, he told the demoniac to go back to his own people. There was controversy when Gentiles became followers of Jesus under the ministry of Paul. The Jerusalem council did not require them to become Jewish as they were but to follow Jesus from a different cultural perspective. I also suggest you read Becky Lewis’s articles which give a good historical framework for how the gospel has migrated from one culture to another and caused no small controversies in the process, often leading to mass murder of those who were not following Jesus in the “correct way. ” Can we avoid the same mistakes today?


When I asked about examples of extreme insider movements in scripture, I am talking about movements where people say “I am a ____insert name of false religion here___ follower of Jesus.”  I can’t find any examples of people claiming to be Diana worshipper followers of Jesus.  I can’t find any examples of the apostles telling believers they didn’t need to be baptized because they belonged to an especially persecuted people-group or because of the need for keeping relationships open.  I can’t even find examples of the apostles telling believers in one people-group to isolate themselves from believers of other people-groups for the sake of winning one of the people-groups or minimizing persecution. 

One of the themes from some posters in the thread is that it may be necessary for believers to distance themselves from the name ‘Christian’ or words like ‘church.’  I realize believers in different countries need to be wise how they describe themselves.  But all believers should identify with fellow believers.  We are one body.  And we should all identify with Christ and not be ashamed of the Gospel, even if there is persecution at times. 

I don’t see the Jew-Gentile issue as an example of this type of insider movement. Commanding Gentiles to be circumcised and to obey the Law of Moses wasn’t just an issue of allowing people-groups to have cultural freedom.  It was a theological issue.  Gentiles who did this were trusting in the law of Moses.  They were deciding that it was not sufficient to commune with God through Christ, and that they also needed to have another covenant. 

And I don’t see where Paul told the Gentiles to disassociate themselves with Jewish believers (aside from certain types of Judaizers or other false teachers who did not agree with apostolic teaching as it turns out as evidenced by Acts 15.)  Paul opposed one group of Christians disassociating themselves from other believers when he withstood Cephas in Antioch. Paul wanted unity between Jew and Gentile and among ethnic groups in the Gospel. 

That being said, I am not opposed to all insider movements.  Some may be very Biblically sound and orthodox and may also be willing to accept brethren from other people groups.


According to the Good News, which we all have lost sight of, “the light will be among us a little longer” for personally knowing and worshipping the Father “as he really is”, a.k.a., Spirit. True worship in “the new and living way” is based on Christ’s death on the cross by the power of God’s Spirit alone and in “complete freedom” from time, place and religion (including Christianity).

We had better catch up! 

Once again we are calling people Muslim/Budhist/Hindu in 2 respects but not clearly differentiating which way we mean.  Link please check the earlier posts, where Rick agrees that religiously these new believers are Christian.  Which makes it impossible to be a Dianna worshipper and follower of Jesus.  Culturally, these people are still Muslim/Budhist/Hindu and there is nothing wrong with that any more than you identifying yourself as an American (assumed) Christian. 

As far as Jesus Movements in Scripture, most of the original disciples would have felt that they were following a sect of Judaism and remained very Jewish. In Romans 9-11, Paul lays out God’s overarching plan for us (Gentiles) to be included with the remnant of Israel, thus reinforcing that belief.  In Acts 21, he is performing a common purification ceremony relating to the Jewish customs.  How different would our churches act and be if we continued in the original disciples Jewishness?  But Paul refutes the conversion (religiously and culturally) of Gentiles to Judaism in both Romans and Galatians. 

As Rick pointed out, The Church of Jerusalem was both very concerned with the Gentiles religious experience/conversion (Acts 10:46-11:18) but the requirements that they generated list only a few requirements for the Gentile Churches to be recognized.  They didn’t seem to require a cultural change of the new Gentile believers, who would be markedly different then the original Jewish believers.

Another example would be in Acts 17.  Here we find Paul turning God into one of the Greek Olympians (albeit an unknown one) in order to better present Jesus to the Athenians.  I am not sure that I am comfortable marketing God as being a part of other religions but it seems Paul and Luke (author of Acts) were.

We have here two fundamental problems.

Under the terms of the “new covenant” in which “Everyone will be taught by God” personally (Jer. 31: 31-34; Isa. 54:13 quoted by Jesus John 6:45), “sealed” in Christ’s characteristic death on the cross (Matt. 26: 26-29), the source of “sound doctrine” is exclusively found in the gospel, a.k.a., the Good News from the glorious and blessed God, rather than in the Acts and the Epistles, which themselves are deferentially retroactive although we accept them today indiscriminately!

In addition, there is no room for any organized religion, including Christianity, in the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 4: 21-26; Heb. 10: 19-25).


I do not think that your views are accepted by the vast majority of believers. To say that sound doctrine is only found in the Gospels is a fringe belief at best. The standard position of Evangelical mission organizations including ours is that he entire Bible is inspired by God and is the only source for doctrine, faith and practice.

To say there is no room for any organized religion is also extreme. We are called to gather together for worship. That is organized. Our faith is not just a personal thing. God intends it to be lived out in the context of relationship with other believers.


If you want to confuse people in a lot of other countries, give them a line about not being ‘religious’ and see if they can figure out what you are saying.  You can go to any city in the US and talk to people who didn’t grow up in church and you can confuse them by telling them you are a believer in Jesus but think ‘religion’ is a bad thing.  The religion/relationship distinction only makes sense to people who understand evangelical Christianeze.  It doesn’t make much sense without explanation, and it seems like a lot of people who use that kind of terminology don’t know what the explanation is supposed to be.

All Christians should be religious in the purest sense of the word.  We should all have what James calls ‘pure religion.’

As far as organized religion goes, do you prefer disorganized religion?  James calls pure religion visiting the widows and orphans in their affliction and keeping himself unspotted from the world.  The early church in Jerusalem had a high degree of organization.  The apostles organized the feeding of the poor, eventually handing the carrying out of the task to men recognized as full of the Holy Ghost.  The Lord gifts certain people as administrators. 

Even in an organic house church, like we see in the first century, there was organization, and there was supposed to be ‘pure religion.’

About the Gospels, we refer to them as ‘Gospels’.  Aside from Mark, they aren’t labeled as ‘Gospels.’  Later church tradition called them that.  And Paul referred to his own preaching as the ‘Gospel’ as well.

John wrote, “Which makes it impossible to be a Dianna worshipper and follower of Jesus.  Culturally, these people are still Muslim/Budhist/Hindu and there is nothing wrong with that any more than you identifying yourself as an American (assumed) Christian.”

American isn’t a religion.  American doesn’t have prophets or an American holy book (though some treat our founding documents that way.  English isn’t a religion.

Bengali is a people-group with its own culture.  Sundanese is a people-group with its own culture.  Islam is a religion.  While it may be hard for a Sundanese to wrap his head around the idea of someone being Sundanese and not Mus1im, the two things are different concepts.  Not every people-group has trouble making this distinction. 

In missionary circles, we hear of Mus1im BACKGROUND Believers (MBBs) not Muslim believers.  There are Hindu BACKGROUND Believers, not Hindu Believers in Jesus.  There are various people-groups under the larger category of ‘Indian’ which practice Hinduism.  Why don’t we call them by their ethnic designation rather than ‘Hindu’ if they believe in Christ?  Have you considered it might be offensive to some of them if you call them Hindu’s, Buddhists, or whatever, if they are believers in Jesus? 

I like the study of culture.  I am working on a PhD, and I have a proposal written up for a cross-cultural topic which I could potentially pursue for a dissertation.  As great as culture is, we shouldn’t interpret the Jew/Gentile issues in the New Testament as purely cultural issues. 

Paul participated in temple ceremonies, ceremonies revealed in scripture.  Other religions pagan cultic customs were not, for the most part, revealed by God in holy scripture.  Temple ceremonies were not purely cultural rituals.  They are religious rituals.  The Jew and Gentile issue has a lot to do with covenant, not just culture.  Judaizers were trying to convince Gentiles to take on themselves circumcision and the obligation to keep the law, trying to persuade the people that relationship through Christ was not enough. 

Paul wrote that those who were called while circumcised should remain circumcised and those called in uncircumcision should remain uncircumcised.  Even so, he circumcised Timothy, born to Jewish mother, but not the Gentile Titus.  He went along with the elders who wanted to dispel rumors that Paul was teaching Jewish people not to circumcise their children, but he vehemently opposed the circumcision of Gentiles.  And he himself was willing to participate in temple ceremonies.  Paul was a Jew.  And the issue here is one of covenant and scripture, not just culture.


What’s in a name? That which the Bible calls “sacred faith” would smell just as holy even without any name! It is more than sufficient to know Jesus Christ personally through his self-revelation which we have lost sight of.


Three reminders:

ONE: There is no life whatsoever in the itinerary travelled by many (Matt. 7: 13-14);
TWO: Organization is incompatible with true worship, in the Spirit, by “two or three come together in (Jesus) name” (Ibid, 18:20; John 4: 21-26)
THREE: “The context of relationship” in religions based on common confession of creeds is in direct contradition to timeless faith based on personal knowledge of “God of the living” (Jer. 31: 31-34; Matt. 22: 29-32).

To Woldeyesus

What’s in a name?  It was Shakespeare, and not the Bible that said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

The Bible says, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

and “Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?”

and “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;”

If you have any problem with “sacred faith” as autographed by Jesus Christ and completely free from time, place and religion, you should take it up with the Author not with me.


The only people that will be “confused” are those with vested interests of their own at the expense of the Kingdom of God and what he is known to require.


It is very difficult to understand where you are coming from. Your terminology seems to be your own which you assume everyone else will understand. But I do think we do. I must ask you.
1 Are you committed to the Bible as the inerrant and inspired Word of God that is the basis for our faith, practice and doctrine?
2. Are you committed to the planting of Bible based Church Planting Movements? We are about planting Biblical churches in every people on earth. That is what we are all about.
If you do not believe in planting churches then I doubt that we have much in common.


Since many unbelievers are people with “vested interests of their own at the expense of the Kingdom of God and what he is known to require” then using ‘religion’ the way it is only used in certain churches isn’t going to get you very far with them.  I think I understand the way you use the term since I’ve encountered people with a similar perspective.  But if fellow believers from different backgrounds don’t understand what you are trying to say, maybe you should consider other possibilities besides the idea that they don’t get it because they aren’t spiritual enough.

America can be a religion.  We pledge ourselves to it, sing songs of worship about it, many are willing to die for it.  But I find more and more the ideas behind America are becoming idols and drawing many Christians away from Christ as the central and paramount reason for our existence.  Don’t get me wrong it is a great nation with many benefits and ideals and I am proud that I served my country in the Armed Forces during a peacekeeping mission.  America isn’t the end all be all that many believe it is and as it currently stands (and has for almost it’s entire brief history except for a few individuals and shining moments) is not a Christian nation.  I think it would be much closer to the truth to say it is a humanistic nation at best and a opportunistic nation at worst.  But I digress.

As was discussed in the original post, if a religion has been a part of a culture and has deeply influenced that culture for longer than anyone alive has had a chance to remember, the lines between the culture and the religion do begin to blur somewhat.  So who gets to decide whether a Muslim Sudanese, gets to think of themselves in terms of being Sudanese or being Muslim?  Us?  I think it is the epitomy of hubris to say someone other than the person in question (and God) determines how they think of themselves.

“Judaizers were trying to convince Gentiles to take on themselves circumcision and the obligation to keep the law, trying to persuade the people that relationship through Christ was not enough.”  Do you not see the the parallel between what the Judaizers were trying to accomplish and any requirements (religious or Cultural) we try to come up with for how these other people, who are coming to Christ, convince us that they are Christians?  Do they need to convince us at all?

Another example that might hit closer to home.  I am a professing Christian.  But my life as I look at it doesn’t entirely line up with the teachings of Jesus.  I still commit sins and need to ask God’s forgiveness repeatedly.  Am I a Christian?  Ultimately, it isn’t my judgement, or yours, or anyone elses but God’s that gets to determine if I am a ‘true Christian’.  Can we agree that every sin is an act of pride, which in turn, makes it an act of idolatry (placing something or someone else before God)?  If so, then although I profess Christ I also indulge in little acts of idolatry all the time.  Which do you thiink is worse my hidden acts of idolatry or a Hindu’s/Budhist’s/Muslim’s outright act of idolatry while trying to follow Jesus and their original religion?  At least they are being honest with themselves.  And only God through his Grace, the Power of the Holy Spirit, and our relationship through Christ will ever free us from our continued rebellion.  Some of these thoughts just ocurred to me and I’ve been a Christian now for over 27 years.  How can we expect new Christians to understand some of these concepts as soon as they convert (without the prompting of the Holy Spirit)?  I am not saying that we should teach them that it is OK to continue worshipping as they did before and consider themselves Christians.  I am saying that we don’t have to make it so hard and so black and white for them to choose Christ and come to a more mature undertanding of their faith in their own time as the Holy Spirit guides.  If they have come to Christ then the Holy Spirit is active in their lives, correct?  And if He is active in their lives wouldn’t it be better for Him to correct and guide them?  Some of these new believers God has destined for Martyrdom and some He has determined to keep hidden and safe, I only know that someday every tongue will confess Him as Lord and wait for Him to fulfill His Will.  In the meantime, I can only profess Christ and what He has done for me through no merit of my own and what a freeing doctrine Grace is.


It does not matter at all where I am coming from. Does it? Anyway, thank you for saying you understand me. Now to answers for your questions!

I have a wholly Biblical perspective of the Holy Bible as a road map to God and of Christ’s death on the cross as the uniquely “new and living way” to personal knowledge of God, faith and worship completely free of time, place and groups according to the Scriptures. 

I am committed to and promoting the “church” Christ himself built in his death on the cross and nothing else!

I pray that the little we now have in common will grow over time.  God bless you!

Woldeyesus,  I think you and I agree on many things but I have to agree with Rick (and perhaps Link) that your comments up until the last couple of days have been trollish (modern defintion not the fantastical). 

You posted:Three reminders:

ONE: There is no life whatsoever in the itinerary travelled by many (Matt. 7: 13-14);
TWO: Organization is incompatible with true worship, in the Spirit, by “two or three come together in (Jesus) name” (Ibid, 18:20; John 4: 21-26)
THREE: “The context of relationship” in religions based on common confession of creeds is in direct contradition to timeless faith based on personal knowledge of “God of the living” (Jer. 31: 31-34; Matt. 22: 29-32).

1.  I can agree with 1 but the problem is knowing whether you, yourself (or myself) are on the wide road or the narrow one.  Too many, assume the latter when wthey are actually on the former and so we need to admit that we can make the same mistake oursleves.
2.  I am not sure the scriptures you use actually says that organization is incompatible with true worship.  In fact, organization may be required by the Mathew reference.  It is hard to gather, unless you plan, and planning takes organization.  Now it is certainly possible that you meant it was the Holy Spirit’s job to plan our gatherings instead of our manmade institutions. I find that manmade institutions sometimes hinder the Spirit and sometimes are used by the Spirit, and I am not sure your references deal with that conclusively enough.
3.  I agree with your third point if by that you meant this is what will eventually be (when we are raised).  I look forward to the time when my will, heart, love, ways, and life will truly be in agreement with God’s, but we aren’t there yet (at least I am not).  However, the ideas you present in your argument against creeds actually come from creeds (timeless faith & God of the living), making your argument nonsensical.  Creeds are defined as a formal statement of belief.  If the creeds come from the proper use of Scripture then there is no harm in knowing them, discussing them, meditating on them, which I find draws me back to the Gospel which is the Power of God unto Salvation and which I know only through His Word.

I also pray that what we now have in common will grow over time.  God bless you!

as far i see in Indian context there is great amount of understanding is seen among christians, muslims which is good, and needed. we need to use this time and opportunity to help each others community
God bless india
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Many thanks for your highly constructive comments!

Of course, all human thoughts are fallible with the exception of those which have already undergone radical change by accepting, obeying and following up of Christ’s DEFINING MOMENT as “the way, the truth and the life” all the way to the promise of his self-revelation in his verifiably Spirit-active, perfect and diacritical death on the cross (John 14: 6, 18-21; 19: 30-37), a.k.a., “the hard way with the narrow gate to life” (Matt. 7: 13-14).

Secondly, there is absolutely nothing compatible even between the minimum level of organization by humans and “worship of the Father as he really is exclusively by the power of God’s Spirit” (John 4: 23-26). This is translated into opening of “a completely free, new, and living way through the curtain, i.e., his own body in his death on the cross” (Heb. 10: 19-25). Our difficulty of separating the two forms of worship is a testimony for our complete failure! 

Thirdly, timeless and sustainable faith based on Christ’s death on the cross is primarily about deeply satisfying relationship with the living and knowable God commonly shared with many of God’s people whether known from the Scriptures or not. Good riddance for the bad riddles of man’s religion and congregational worship!

I agree that we must “worship the Father in spirit and in truth”.  If you really look at the quote from John, we need to realize whose spirit and truth is worshipping the Father.  Compare the capitalization between 23 & 24.  It’s our spirit (little s) and truth (little t) not God’s Spirit (big S) and John repeats the lower case again in verse 24.  What did Jesus mean by that?  Taken in context, I think it means that we should be able to worship God anywhere but also that our woship won’t just depend only on our knowledge about God (truth) but our relationship with God (spirit).  So I am not sure how that disqualifies minimum levels of human organization from the worship of God.  If you could provide examples, perhaps that would help me understand.

I can see your third point and agree with it to some degree.  You lose me when you say “whether known from the Scriptures or not.” and “Good riddance for the bad riddles of man’s religion and congregational worship!” and would like to treat them separately.

When you wrote “whether known from the Scriptures or not.” if what you mean is that a man can know God (faith through revelations given to him) without knowing the Scriptures but these revelations can be seen to be in agreement with Scripture than I can go along with that.  If you mean that a man’s faith in revelations are apart from (can contradict) Scripture and are equal to or come before Scripture than I can’t agree.  As an example, I believe that some of the Native Americans had an incomplete understanding of God in their general idea of The Great Spirit.  Where their ideas line up with the understanding of God from Scripture, I can affirm that they were on the right track, where their ideas diverged from Biblical knowledge, I would have to disagree with their teaching as being from God. 

You wrote “Good riddance for the bad riddles of man’s religion and congregational worship!”.  In order to understand what you mean, I’ll need you to define man’s religion and also congragtional worship.  The phrases are a little too ambiguous for me to agree or disagree with.


Upper case and lower case letters are mere conventions.

What is more decisive is the context which, IN PRINCIPLE, is clearly defined here in terms of the following characteristics, viz.: “true worship” of the Father, “as he really is”, a.k.a., “Spirit” free of time and place, e.g., Mt. Gerizim or Jerusalem (v. 21, 23-24); and personal knowledge of whom to worship or of the source of salvation (v. 22).

Without further definitions, the disqualification of even the minimum levels of human organization (religion and congregational worship) is further strengthened, IN PRACTICE, by the “tearing of the curtain hanging in the Temple in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27: 50-51) cross-referenced to mean the “opening for us a new way, a living way, through his own body, for going in complete freedom into the Most High Place by means of the death of Jesus” (Heb. 10: 19-25). AMEN.

Yes, and the original text may not even have capitals but 2000 years of Bible Translations and I’ve never seen them capitalized.  I won’t say that translations are always perfect but for all of them to get it wrong seriously calls into question your take on those verses.  You’ll need to provide other scriptures in order to support your position. 

If you are referring to the priesthood of all believers, why not come out and say that.  Unfortunately, the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers doesn’t condemn orgnization.  We are commanded not to forsake the assemblying of ourselves together.  One of the reasons is that the gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed on us are to be used for the edification of Christ’s Body here on earth.  The strictly Western Philosophy of being able to be a Christian outside of a Church body isn’t supported very well from Scripture.  It is derived more from Gnostic Philosophy than from anyhting mentioned in the New Testament.  As all of the articles from the current issue of MF are stating, we are to make disciples and that is very hard to do outside of fellowship.  I understand your frustration with ‘organized religion’ and can agree that most denominations/congregations haven’t gotten every doctrine exactly right, but neither have all of the wonderful people I have met.  If we are discrading organization because of imperfections then we’ll have to throw ourselves out with the trash as well.

If I have misunderstood your points, please explain.  Still praying that we can come to agreement in this.

Perhaps you misunderstood my points.

If the WORDS of Jesus (John 4: 21-26) perfected by his WORKS in his death on the cross culminating in the pouring out his Holy Spirit for his self-revelation (Matt. 27: 50-56; John 19: 30-37) complete with the apostolic TESTIMONY (Heb. 10: 19-25) cannot bring us to an agreement, I am afraid nothing will.


You make a lot of assertions, but then refer to scriptures that aren’t closely related to the arguments you are making.  The passage on prostrating to the Father in Spirit and in truth doesn’t say anything about ‘organization’ being bad.  The Bible does not teach that Christians are to come together for the purpose of worship (that is prostration).  We can prostrate to the Father when we gather.  The Bible does talk about us assembling and exhorting another, and coming together ‘to break bread.’ 

If you don’t believe God wants us to be divided over separate denominational organizations, I agree with you.  If you don’t believe there is any room for any type of organizing, then that doesn’t line up with scripture.  Jesus had His disciples making plans for certain things that He did.  He sent the disciples on ahead to get a donkey ready.  They made ready for the Passover.  He didn’t just show up and a donkey just appeared.  Acts 20 talks about believers who came together on the first day of the week ‘to break bread.’  They apparently planned to meet at a certain time.  They met with an intention, a plan, to break bread.  They apparently didn’t just wait for the Holy Spirit to bring them together with enough food between them apart from their making plans. 

To John,

I am wary of over-allegoricalizing idolatry.  We often here this in preaching in the west. It seems like some western people are so used to allegoricalized preaching on idolatry that they don’t take the real thing as seriously.  The Bible associates greed with idolatry.  But I don’t see where pride is associated with idolatry.


Although the PRINCIPLE of true worship of God “as he really is”, exclusively by the power of the Holy Spirit, is sufficiently taught by Jesus Christ and testified by his Apostles; the PRACTICE in the Scriptures is left open-ended for the individual’s conclusive experience of God’s self-revelation in Christ’s death on the cross.

Only through specific questions, study, discussion and prayer are the links between the “assertions” and the Scriptures established.

God bless you.


It is a great honour to submit the following EXPLANATORY CAPTIONS for the three sets of passages in particular and for the whole of Scriptures in general making up a practical gospel-based framework for interpretation and understanding of the Scriptures. These are:

POSTDATED: John 4: 21-26
REAL TIME: Matt. 27: 50-56; John 19: 30-37 and
BACKDATED: Heb. 10: 19-25

“The keys to the Kingdom of heaven” are found in the works by Christ specific to his death on the cross culminating in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for his self-revelation as the LORD Almighty complete with absolute power over death and life without which we are all fumbling in the dark through the Scriptures and life (Isa. 29: 11-12; Matt. 13: 11-17; 16: 18-19; Rev. 5).

I propose that there is a relationship between the scriptures I cited and the arguments made worth investigating by the light of the source of inspiration in real time. It works.


It is a great honour to submit the following EXPLANATORY CAPTIONS for the three sets of passages in particular and for the whole of Scriptures in general making up a practical gospel-based framework for interpretation and understanding of the Scriptures. These are:

POSTDATED: John 4: 21-26
REAL TIME: Matt. 27: 50-56; John 19: 30-37 and
BACKDATED: Heb. 10: 19-25

“The keys to the Kingdom of heaven” are found in the works by Christ specific to his death on the cross culminating in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for his self-revelation as the LORD Almighty complete with absolute power over death and life without which we are all fumbling in the dark through the Scriptures and life (Isa. 29: 11-12; Matt. 13: 11-17; 16: 18-19; Rev. 5).

I propose that there is a relationship between the scriptures I cited and the arguments made worth investigating by the light of the source of inspiration in real time. It works.

Praise God for Christians who have a deep and sincere heart for reaching people of their same culture for Jesus Christ!

Greetings to you all
Brethren I would like to join international mission frontiers to send the gospel across the nations of the earth
I love see people coming to Christ. and get save.

To Link,

Whether we agree or disagree, idolatry arises from man’s general disobedience to the terms of knowledge of God based on his personal self-revelation in the “tree of life”, a.k.a., the cross of Christ. All religions (including Christianity) stand guilty for their choice of the “tree of knowledge of what is good and what is bad” of which pride and greed are the fruits.

I think that almost everybody on all sides of this issue are in agreement about the challenges faced by those in other cultural contexts who become followers of Jesus. It is the solutions given by those in the “insider” movement that are controversial. The statistics I have seen regarding the actual practice of “insider” groups within the Islamic context is very disturbing to me. Some of my biggest concerns:

1) It is my understanding that most “insider” converts within the Islamic context see the Qua’ran as the more authoritative than the bible.

2) It is my understanding that most “insider” converts within the Islamic context see Mohammad as an equal or greater prophet than Jesus.

3) It is my understanding that most “insider” converts within the Islamic context reject the idea Jesus is truly God.

5) 2) It is my understanding that most “insider” converts within the Islamic context see the western Christian church as apostate primarily because of their rejection of the Qua’ran as Scripture and Mohammad as a prophet of God.

Too often I see these issues couched in terms of “accepting their own cultural context” and “rejecting the cultural context of Christiandom;” however, these are not just cultural issues but also theological and doctrinal issues that should not be easily dismissed. C4 congregations are good examples of congregations that have truly abandoned western cultural practices without compromising biblical truth, C5 i.e. “insider movement” congregations go beyond simply jettisoning western cultural baggage, they have also jettisoned universal biblical truth.

The results of the only survey of C5 congregations (that I know of anyway) produced the following statistics:

96% still believed that the Qur’an was one of four holy books from heaven, along with the Torah (Law), the Zabur (Prophets) and the Injil (Gospel).

66% even said that the Qur’an was the greatest of the four.

45% do not even affirm that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Trinity).

Source: Phil Parshall, “Danger! New Directions in Contextualization,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, vol. 34:4 (October 1998)

These statistics are very troubling to me.

Rick, Why has the cite become less user-friendly of late?

Attention: Benelchi

The statistics are far from relevant for close friends and disciples of Christ to whom the covenant of the written law is long over. We have been overtaken by the era of “a new way, a living way” by means of the death of Jesus, i.e., in complete freedom of the ministry of the Spirit, which we had better find out and join.

Attention: Benelchi

God is no respecter of men and religions. More Christians, than “insider” converts within the Islamic context (your concern #3 refers), will be held accountable for their lack of personal knowledge of Jesus Christ in spite of all their advantages.

I chatted with a contact in a predominantly Is1amic country who is working with house churches there.  He was really concerned with the C5 folks who didn’t get baptized hold to certain Christian beliefs. He said it was funded with foreign missions funds.  In another country I lived in, some of the missionaries associated C5 work there with that kind of syncretism, considering the Koran to be holy and not getting baptized.  Some missionaries tell people to pray in the mosque and change the words.  One man who worked with C3 and C4 folks asked, what religion will their children be?  How can this become a permanent movement in their society?

The “new covenant” of the Spirit making God’s law second nature, writing it on the hearts of people and opening a completely free, new and living way of personally knowing and worshipping God by means of the death of Jesus, has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with baptism in water, the written law (be it the Bible or the Koran) and religion.
(Jer. 31: 31-34; John 4: 21-26; Matt. 16: 13-28; 17: 1-13; 26: 26-29, 64; 27: 50-56; 2 Cor. 3; Heb. 10: 19-25; Rev. 5)
The sooner we submit to God’s work and trust in his judgement, the better for us!!!!!!!

when Jesus sent out the eleven to the nations, He told them to baptize the nations.  We see in Acts that baptism was done in water (e.g. Philip and the eunuch.)  The apostles baptized people in wather int he name of the Lord.  The Lord Jesus baptizes people with the Holy Spirit.

woldeyesus said:

The sooner we submit to God’s work and trust in his judgement, the better for us!!!!!!!


How does one submit to God’s work and trust in his judgement without being obedient to the commands God has given us in Scripture?

In regards to Baptism we are told:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,a baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20 NIV)

In regards to syncretism:

We have a graphic picture in the nation of Israel who had co-opted the religious practices of the Canaanites and called it the worship of of “YHWH”; they built alters to “YHWH” in Bethel, Gilgal, Gibeah, etc… and the the prophets of the OT condemned Israel for this practice. Why would God look differently on those who syncrestically adopt the religious practices of foreign gods today?

Hosea begins his condemnation of Israel by stating that “Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; (Hos 4:1 ESV)

This charge was made to a people who were religious and claimed to worship “YHWH” but had rejected the Law God had given them; they were described as a disobedient and stubborn people throughout the book of Hosea. Their two sins were trusting in their own power and political allegiances to save them, and co-opting the religious practices of the Canaanites into their worship of “YHWY.” God was pleased with neither of these choices.

While I believe it is critically important for us to draw a distinction between cultural expressions of Faith in Jesus and biblical expressions of faith in Jesus and to leave out those aspects which are only cultural when we try to reach those in a foreign culture, it is equally important for us to make distinctions between the cultural expressions of faith of the religious groups we are trying to reach and the religious expressions of faith of those same groups; while we should accept their cultural expressions of faith (even when it may be very uncomfortable), we should not accept their religious expressions of faith as valid expressions of worship of the one true God. When we cross that line, how are we acting any differently than the Nation of Israel did when God so assuredly condemned and punished them for their transgression?

Samson Phillips,

Just like Moses, with the “self-sufficient fire” (Ex. 3: 1-15), we too can have a positively life-transforming encounter with the “source of life” in Jesus Christ’s self-revelation in his Spirit-active, perfect and diacritical death on the cross (John 8: 21-28) to give us the new and sustainable life we are looking for. (Ibid, 3: 1-15; 12: 32-33; 14: 18-21; 19: 30-37).

It is working for me for 35 years and still counting. God bless you!

Hi, I have really enjoyed reading this article and the comments, God is the creative master able to redeem and reach into any culture and context, we are naive if we believe this can only be done through the word Christianity, Jesus is the way the truth and the life, to be a follower of Him is the call. For too long western cultures have felt they are supreme and all knowing, lets humble ourselves 9 yes I am British) and let God do His work, in how He judges best. Christianity has a lot of definitions in many nations (including mine), let the name of Jesus be supreme, for at His name every knee will bow.

Dear Sir
              I want to know full depth of Christianity but I have no computers so please send me the hard copies of Christianity books for my address.

Thanks in Advance

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