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Multiple studies of Muslims coming to Christ in the last two decades underscore a few common themes. The Living God attracts sin-dead Muslims to the Living Jesus, especially in the context of the living people of God. A look at common strategies today would have one believe, however, that this evangelistic enterprise needs "just a little bit of help from God's friends" in the form of hyper-Muslim friendly translations, letting Muslims stay inside of Islam, and reducing the offense of the Gospel at any cost.

I have come to wonder if some, in their strategies in outreach to Muslims (although they say that they are Reformed and who talk about the 5 Solas, the sovereignty of God, and the 5 points of Calvinism) functionally act and think as Armenians?

Here are five questions to provoke some thought: 

  1. If the LORD is the author of a salvation powerful enough to turn dead hearts into living ones why do we act like it needs just a bit of receptor-friendly tweaking?
  2. If the LORD is the author of salvation and has chosen his people in Christ before time,  then we do we get so frazzled over finding new and improved methods to find them?
  3. If the LORD is the accomplisher of salvation then why do we act as if he needs a little help from our new and improved methods?
  4. If the LORD is the applier of salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit then why do we act as if better packaging will help him out?
  5. If the LORD is the guarantee of eventual salvation then why do we act as if He might be a bit less than competent to see it through?

Just wondering?






Dear Salaam,

You are right that God is sovereign and he advances his kingdom. A recent book, A Wind in the House of Islam makes the point that God is bringing Muslims to Christ whether in historic or insider paradigms. I think it is also important to recognize that Calvin’s views of Muslims (whom he referred to as Turks) were in the context of the Ottoman threat to Europe. Calvin had no opportunities to live and interact with Muslims as we do today.

It is maybe good to note that hyper-Muslim friendly translations have been pretty well repudiated by the recent report of the World Evangelical Alliance. I think this issue is behind us – I hope so. Where Muslims choose to remain inside Islam I think it is often the choice of the Muslim himself or herself in his or her context to decide what is best. Often over time it becomes more possible and desirable to leave Islam (however I recognize there are more extreme views on this). Certainly there will always be “the offense of the Gospel” but where possible I don’t see a problem with reducing barriers, especially if they are cultural and not theological.

I understand your concerns in this area but worry you adding to the severe polarization of ideas that we live with in ministry among Muslims by raising these issues in this way.


Thank you Greg for your reply:

     The bottom line of my questions is that methologies are derived from our theology. How many times have I heard with respect to Muslim outreach, "If we just package this a bit nicer, if we come across as a bit nicer, and if we see Islam as a bit nicer...." then they will come.

   No justification for abrasiveness, but behind the thinking, I believe is a repudiation of Reformed thinking that ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who does the effectual calling. In Arminian thinking the whole emphasis is on changing the will of the person to accept what is being said. Thus the emphasis on packaging. An excellent article that compared the ministries of Charles Finney and Ashahel Nettleton in the 1830's is called "How Does Doctrine Affect Evangelism?"    The author, a Southern Baptist himself, called into question the altar-call methodologies of his own denomination as he compared and contrasted the two ministries. Is it possible for Reformed people to allow similar honest scrutiny?

     The questions I asked are: how does theology relate to action? More specifically who does a solidly Reformed theology relate to specific outreach attitudes and actions.

      As to the "Wind in the House" by David Garrison, I have some bad news for you. It may be more hot air in the case of Bangladesh and the insiders mentioned than actual fact. Consider these facts:

1. P.T. who I have just corresponded with, who himself is rather warm to the insider thinking states "In past years, the two groups making very large claims [i.e. of converts] were the IMB [International Mission Board--who Garrison works for] with S....and .M...C...with Timothy M...". Secondly he states: ""There are struggling small fellowships of believers that meet together infrequently.... Sadly, very few of them meet regularly together because of social pressure, lack of maturity, etc." Thirdly he states, ""the money that Western missions throws at huge statistics is so substantial that it can gradually corrupt and totally sidetrack people from their original path." Fourthly he states: ""To my knowledge, there are not 400 regularly functioning MBB fellowships in the entire country today - those meeting on a weekly basis"

2. I spoke to a Bangladeshi A.H who used to be with the Bible Society there, is an x-Muslims and was personally involved with the insider movement, and is recognized as a stable Christian leader by his countrymen. He estimates that there are between 50,000 to 70,000 x-Ms in Christ in his country.

These facts, which could be multiplied with other witnesses cast considerable doubt on Garrison's "Wind..". P.T who has been in Bangladesh for almost half a century is no casual observer.  He, like A.H. is considered a local.  Recall that it was Garrison who in 2004 stated, ""The Southern Baptist International Mission currently seeing more than half a million baptisms each year, the great majority of them resulting from CPMs"  The problem was that of this figure 380,000 fabricated statistics came from Bangladesh. David Garrison as the father of Church Planting Movements wants to see big movements, and unfortunately there are also people who will tell him what he wants to hear. Caveat emptor. Buyer beware!

        The questions that I asked do not only apply to the area of Muslim outreach, but also to attitudes in church planting in North America, international missions, and radio broadcasting. Speaking of radio broadcasting, did you know that today you can listen to the Wycliffe/SIL produced "Lives of the Prophets"--kind of a New Testament rendition, in Arabic and guess what? The Son of God is rendered as the very Muslim sounding "Caliph of God" in the Urbed/Bedouin version.

Another section in the Egyptian dialect has "This, your son, will stand in his highest place, in the presence of the King of Kings and he will judge with His authority" for Luke 1:35 which literally reads: “Son of God” (NASB, 1995). If that is not Muslim friendly, then what is?

The desire for these translations has not gone away, and the actual digital ones in existence have been simply been taken out of the public eye.

Not everything is what it appears on first glance. Caveat emptor! [Buyer beware]










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