I’ve been thinking about the Insider Movements in Missions, while also reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For a quick overview, here’s excerpts from “Insider Movements And the Busted Church” by Bill Nikides, as published in Modern Reformation Magazine:
Maybe you haven’t heard, but the most explosive issue in global missions within the evangelical church today is something called “Insider Movements.” Insider Movements (IM) are variously defined as “popular movements to Christ that bypass both formal and explicit expressions of Christian religion” (Kevin Higgins, “The Key to Insider Movements,” Internal Journal of Frontier Missiology, Winter 2004). Another definition Higgins offers is that they are “movements to Jesus that remain to varying degrees inside the social fabric of Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, or other people groups.” In other words, as John Ridgeway of the Navigators relates, Insider Movements advocate “becoming faithful disciples of Jesus within the culture of their people group, including religious culture.”
Insiders are those who profess faith in Christ but remain members of their original religious communities; Muslims remain Muslims, Hindus remain Hindus, and Buddhists remain Buddhists. In the Muslim world that means they must acknowledge one exclusive God, Allah, and that Mohammed is his final and greatest messenger. They remain members of the mosque, practice the five pillars of Islam, live openly in their cultures as Muslims, participate in Muslim sacrifices and feasts, and identify themselves as Muslims.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was struggling with the German Christians, which were an anti-Semitic movement within German Protestantism aligned towards Nazism with the goal to align German Protestantism as a whole towards those principles. They sought to expunge all Jewish elements from the Christian church. In a process that became more daring as Nazi plans for genocide unfolded, this group of Protestant lay people and clergy rejected the Old Testament, ousted people defined as non-Aryans from their congregations, denied the Jewish ancestry of Jesus, etc. So what does this have to do with the Insider Movement?
When someone asked Dietrich Bonhoeffer whether he shouldn’t join the German Christians in order to work against them from within, he answered that he couldn’t. “If you board the wrong train,” he said, “it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.”
This struck me as the correct response to the Insider Movements – I don’t think you can worship Allah as God and disavow Jesus as the Son of God in your social/cultural life, but yet bow to the Triune God of the Bible in your heart.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.