If we are going to read the vast amount of material around this debate (some initial suggestions below), could I make a small plea for love and patience? I find myself all too easily irritated by some who talk as if everybody in the ‘Western’ church is mesmerised by rampant individualism or when people dismiss the 19th century missionaries as colonial cronies who were mindlessly imposing Western culture as if it were essential to the gospel. Conversely, I get irritated by those who assume that their own cultural expression of the church is ‘clearly’ the one that everybody should convert to as soon as they turn to Jesus. I mention these things because there is no point in any of us getting lost in these side-issues of style [as I too often have done] but rather it is vital for us to get to the real substantive issues of how the global church family of the LORD Jesus Christ can enjoy fellowship together in His Name, supporting one another in genuine love and generosity. How can we bring our Muslim friends to the liberating power and family of the LORD Jesus in the local church?
Another little plea... Throughout this debate there are many attempts to cite the examples of Jesus and the apostles with respect to the temple/synagogue in the New Testament. We can’t really go into all of these references in this article, but it might be worth exercising care, caution and consideration about these references. In these debates diametrically opposed conclusions are drawn from the exact same incidents! Perhaps it is worth remembering that the temple was not a ‘pagan religion’ but the God-given but temporary centre of the Church community for 1500 years. It was the centre of the system of law that was designed to prepare the church for the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of the LORD Jesus Christ, prophesied by the Law and the Prophets. In a connected way, the local synagogues were centres for studying and living out the Law and the Prophets, not only in Israel but across the surrounding nations. Yes, as we go on through the book of Acts and then on into the 1st and 2nd century developments we see that division opening up between ‘church and ‘synagogue’ as many Jewish people rejected the Jewish Messiah and began to formulate a new religious identity in distinction from Him.
We should be careful about drawing too simplistic or hasty parallels between a 1st century synagogue and a 21st century mosque or temple. There are surely lessons to learn, but not all connections and parallels are legitimate, in my own opinion.
Interesting article even if some of the earlier parts are dealing with other cultural issues in America -
Bill Nikides paper is stimulating - Bill argues that the whole Insider Movement is not a work of the Spirit but a product of missiological theories developed in Western mission agencies.