>The New York Times has an interesting article on the controversy among Baptists concerning the issue of using the Koran to introduce Muslims to Jesus. Below is an excerpt from the article:
Ergun Caner, president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., focused attention on a Southern Baptist controversy when he called Jerry Rankin, the president of the denomination’s International Mission Board, a liar. Dr. Caner has since apologized for his language, but he still maintains that the “Camel Method,” a strategy Dr. Rankin endorses for preaching Christianity to Muslims, is deceitful.
Instead of talking about the Jesus of the New Testament, missionaries using the Camel Method point Muslims to the Koran, where in the third chapter, or sura, an infant named Isa — Arabic for Jesus — is born. Missionaries have found that by starting with the Koran’s Jesus story, they can make inroads with Muslims who reject the Bible out of hand. But according to Dr. Caner, whose attack on Dr. Rankin came in a weekly Southern Baptist podcast, the idea that the Koran can contain the seeds of Christian faith is “an absolute, fundamental deception.”
David Garrison, a missionary who edited a book on the Camel Method by Kevin Greeson, the method’s developer, defends the use of the Koran as a path to Jesus. “You aren’t criticizing Muhammad or any other prophets,” Dr. Garrison said, “just raising Jesus up.”
He explained that after reading the sura in which Maryam, or Mary, gives birth to Isa, a missionary might ask a Muslim, “Do you know of any other prophets born of a virgin?”
And, Dr. Garrison continued: “It says in that passage that Isa would be able to cleanse the leper, even raise the dead. At that point in the conversation with Muslims, we say, ‘Isn’t it interesting that Isa had this tremendous power that God gave to him? Even death was under his power.’
“Then you ask the question, ‘Is there any other prophet that had this kind of power?’ And in Islam, there isn’t.”
“Camel” is not (readers might be gladdened to learn) a reference to a beast of burden in Arab lands. Rather, it is Mr. Greeson’s acronym — Chosen Angels Miracles Eternal Life — to help missionaries remember aspects of Isa’s story.
Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.
One has to read the whole article to understand the nature of the disagreement between the parties involved in this controversy. After reading the article, even I am divided on the effectiveness of the Camel Method.
On one hand, by using the Isa of the Koran, a Christian can open a dialogue with a Muslim and explain who Jesus is. This can be effective in allowing a Christian to discuss his belief about the person of Christ and the nature of his ministry.
However, I have a problem when Christians try to introduce the God of the Bible as Allah. As Caner said:
“You can ask any Muslim: Do you think that the Allah of the Koran had a son? The most important sura in the entire Koran, sura 112, the pre-eminent chapter of the Koran, says explicitly, ‘Allah does not beget, nor is he begotten.’”
It is here that the contextualization of the Gospel ends because the God of the Bible and the god of the Koran are not the same. Thus, one can use the Koran only as a way of opening a path to Jesus, but once that path is open, the path must diverge into another direction.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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