Friday, February 25, 2011


25 February 2010


Today, Christians around the world are giving thanks for the reported release of Said Musa, an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity who had been sentenced to death unless he re-converted back to Islam. Turning to Christ in a country dominated by another religion is not safe. While at the University of Cape Town, I often shared the gospel with other students. Usually if they believed the gospel presentation, they would convert. If they did not, they would not convert. On one occasion, however, a Muslim student who we will call Achmed, listened closely as I read the scriptures on salvation, and after I read each he said that he believed it. So, when I had finished, I asked him whether he would like to receive Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord. "No" he replied. "Why?" I asked? "Because my family will disown me" he replied. So Achmed walked away from the gospel. Pained at this rejection of Christ, I called together some Christian friends to pray for Achmed's salvation. But before I could pray, one of them objected that he could not agree to pray. "Do you realise what will happen to him if he converts? Is it right to pray for someone to be thrown out of their family?" He asked. My confused Christian friend would not agree to pray for Achmed's salvation. What eventually happened to Achmed I don't know. I hope he eventually chose to follow Christ. But the cost of turning to Christ in some communities is not just the embarrassment of being called a 'Jesus freak'. It could cost your life or your family. Around the same time, Jewish student I knew who converted was thrown out of his home and went to stay with a Christian family. Many others have similar stories.

The question is: Is there an easier way? Do people from such backgrounds have to pay such a price? Can we get around such problems? For some time, postmodern Emerging Church leaders such as Brian McLaren have been promoting the idea that you can follow Christ and continue following another religion. For example, you can be a 'Muslim follower of Jesus' or a 'Buddhist follower of Christ'. We were used to crazy unbiblical ideas being suggested by McLaren and his postmodern pals and so most of us did not register too much surprise.

All that has changed this month, February 2011, with two shocking publications muddying the water of mainstream Evangelicalism. First, the Lausanne III 'Call to Action' (Part 2C,section4) reads "So called ‘insider movements’ are to be found within several religions. These are groups of people who are now following Jesus as their God and Saviour. They meet together in small groups for fellowship, teaching, worship and prayer centred around Jesus and the Bible while continuing to live socially and culturally within their birth communities, including some elements of its religious observance..." The Lausanne statement continues with a convoluted statement which acknowledges differences of opinion, but legitimises 'insider movements'. It downplays the risk of syncretism and portrays this postmodern trend as something that God is doing and discourages speaking against it. It fudges the issue of 'culture' versus 'religious observance'. What elements of 'religious observance' are acceptable and which are not is not properly defined. Lausanne III quotes scripture out of context in an attempt to justify such compromise by paralleling it with the Jerusalem council decision not to impose the whole Jewish law of Moses on Gentiles (Acts 15:19). The 'Insider movement' and the Lausanne statement, however is doing something quite different in accommodating continued non-Christian 'religious observance' that God has not commanded either in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. While at first glance the Lausanne statement may appear neutral towards the insider movement, it really benefits an aberrant movement and protects it against opposition.

The statement is problematic in that it attempts to synthesise the views of two opposite camps in the Lausanne III discussion, which was actually divided on the issue. These opposite views can't be reconciled. You have to choose one or the other - and the drafting committee of this statement should not have tried to unite opposite views that can't actually be united. A tragic compromise with postmodernism in a mostly helpful document. Sadly it is not consistent with the excellent stand the same document takes against Postmodernism in (Part 2A, section2). It is also contradicts the Biblical teaching theme of the Lausanne III congress, presented by John Piper on the body of Christ based on the book of Ephesians.

Most Biblical Christians were asleep when postmodernists began inserting words like 'sexual orientation' and 'reproductive choice' into public policy documents. Today we pay the price as we see these words used to promote homosexual rights and abortion. In the same way, 'Insider movement' is a 'code word' for the postmodern missionary strategy which means a lot more than it seems to say.

What do they mean by 'religious observance'? Probably many of those who consented to the Lausanne III Call to action statement would take a conservative narrow interpretation such as Messianic Jews observing Jewish religious holidays. But we already know that postmodernists are taking a wide interpretation of it. Many such 'Insider movement' members for example believe in the prophethood of Mohammed, the authority of the Quran, live in obedience to Islamic law and make pilgrimage to Mecca, affirm the creeds of Islam and worship at Mosque. They just read the Bible and claim to follow Jesus as well. Some reinterpret Bible passages about Ishmael as giving legitimacy to Islam. Some downplay and evade Jesus being the Son of God. Certain 'insider' Jews deny they are Christians or part of the Christian church, but say they follow Jesus. These are radical shifts. This narrow meaning and broad meaning confusion is what happened with the postmodern words 'sexual orientation' and 'reproductive choice' remember? When first debated people didn't think it meant much, but there was a very big postmodern agenda being pushed through those few words.

In the 1920's most of the protestant missions organisations were hijacked by liberalism and money donated for the gospel got diverted to the promotion of general good works to help humanity, which left out Christ. Now the Postmodernists attempt to divert missionary effort to a new strategy which accommodates the religious culture of the target group to the point of distorting the gospel. World Missions is being undermined from within by hijacking of the structures of mainstream evangelicalism by postmodernism.

If this sounds alarmist, read the cover article in the February 2011 issue of the American Christianity Today 'The Son and the Crescent'. Postmodernists have published a new Bible translation for Muslims, which edits out the fact that Jesus is the Son of God on the basis that this offends Muslims! It translates 'Son of God' rather as "the Beloved Son who comes (or originates) from God." They claim Muslims prefer this version. That is not the point. The point is whether this is the true Word of God. No! It is not. It is dodging a central teaching of the Christian faith. It is undermining Christ's divinity. Every male in the world is a 'son' of someone. 'Come from God' can be taken in a metaphorical sense to be any prophet who is sent by God (and Muslims don't dispute that Jesus was a prophet). This is not just false teaching twisting scripture. They are actually publishing a false Bible and claiming it is a true one. It is plain fraud. Christianity Today has been publishing postmodern leaning articles for a while, but in writing a favourable article about this new fraudulent postmodern Bible, they take a tragic step into endorsing heresy. We can't just take an innocent 'conservative', 'narrow' interpretation of religious observance in Lausanne III - when the postmodern 'insider movement' is already showing its hand with this blatant blasphemy. Such a soft statement opens the door for compromise and heresy and that door needs to be closed.

This is no longer just an intellectual debate. What is at stake is the truth of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the definition of a Christian, the future and unity of evangelicalism, the orthodoxy of our largest evangelical institutions and the future of missions.


* Acceptance of the 'insider movement' opens the door for converts from all sorts of religious beliefs to continue practicing their old religion. There is already a problem in the Western culture, with confused postmodern converts e.g. from the New Age movement wanting to blend Christianity with New Age practices. This compromise will make such practices easier.

* An academic theory of missions has been developed at Fuller Seminary which rates the scale of cultural adaptation on a scale of 1-5. One means mild accommodation of the culture, while ‘5’ means ‘insider movement’ and functioning basically inside the structures of another religion. This theory has given the new movement some credibility. Nevertheless, it is argued that the ‘Insider movement’ is going much too far in accommodating culture.

* 'Insider movement' believers in many cases are trying to follow Christ without joining the church. But the church is the body of Christ. Jesus did not die to give us a 'Muslim body' and a 'Buddhist body'. There is only one body and we should all be so grateful to belong to it. It creates multiple identities of different types of Christian. There is only one body in Christ (Ephesians 4:4) and our identity should be in this body and not in a former religion.

* Postmodern 'Insider missionaries' claim to have great success and large numbers of conversions to justify their new strategy. Orthodox evangelical missionaries dispute this claim. In many cases, they say that those 'Insider missionaries' count as converts are not true believers but are just interested Muslims who have never even being challenged properly to convert.

* Many of us are familiar with the Messianic Jewish movement. That is people who are Jewish by race but believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. I am such a Messianic Jew. Some Messianic Jews form congregations which meet on Fridays and celebrate Jewish holidays. Is this wrong? No. There is nothing in the Bible against it. But some of these people take this to an extreme and say that they are not Christians at all, but Jews. They don't identify at all with the rest of the body of Christ and keep their identity totally Jewish - and separate from Gentile Christians. That is not biblical. It is wrong. Our identity in Christ and the wider body of Christ, the church must come first before our culture. This latter group of extremists are part of the 'Insider movement'. That was a development which the apostle Paul viciously attacked in the book of Galatians (2:12-13). Paul had no issue with limited accommodation of Jewish culture to help win people to Christ (e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:20) but he had a major issue with taking on the symbols of that religion to avoid persecution (Galatians 6:12).

* Baptism is meant as a public marker to separate the new convert from his old religious belief. This has always caused massive controversy throughout the world and sparked major persecution. It symbolises death to the old life and a resurrection into the new. Baptism was Jesus idea - not ours. A Christian is a new man. You can't get more different than that. We must accept this is a central part of our faith and it will offend many of the old religion.

* The 'Insider movement' and the Lausanne statement's condoning of it threaten the definition of Christianity. Evangelicalism was a narrow subset of the broader visible institutional church. It for example excluded the Chinese state controlled 'Three self church', the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Liberal protestant denominations. But so called 'insiders' who continue substantially as part of other religious beliefs and in many cases don't even identify themselves was Christians. It blurs the boundaries and rubbishes the point of a limited Statement of faith.

* Even orthodox evangelical churches struggle with the problem of unbelieving churchgoers who outwardly profess Christianity but are not true followers of Christ. Taking away the outward boundary markers of Christianity will make this question even harder to determine.

* This movement is diverting resources away from gospel centred missions and in places spreading a false and heretical Bible. It needs to be stopped.

* The 'insider strategy' of trying to lead Muslims to Christ by quoting them verses from the Quran implicitly gives the Quran authority. If one does not believe the Quran is from God then is this not misleading and deceptive and likely to confuse the new convert?

* There is always the risk that those who are trying to reach out to a particular other group of people reach too far and then start to accept some of the false beliefs of that other group. They start off with misleading advertising and then start to believe their own advertising. This also happens for example in the pro-life movement with people trying to reach out to those considering abortion or feminists or whatever. They can start of using the rhetoric of the other side then end up compromising their own beliefs and eventually deny that they themselves are pro-life. We are influenced by the people around us which is why God has given us the institution of the church to protect us.


* Historically, there have been times when whole Christian communities have been forced to convert to Islam or face death or some other severe penalty. Tragically many did compromise and agree to become outward Muslims by saying a Muslim creed, while continuing quietly to practice Christianity. Those communities have vanished because their children have abandoned Christianity altogether to become real Muslims. The same is likely to happen to the children of 'Insider Muslims'.

* The Israeli secret service attempted to infiltrate the Muslim community by sending Jewish spies to train as Imams. The strategy backfired, when many of these Imam's succumbed to social pressure to marry and raised Muslim children. This caused massive confusion and heartache for all. The lesson is that social pressure in such communities is enormous and confusions of identity are very painful.

* There is no time ever in the history of the Church when so-called 'insider movements' have been accepted as a part of orthodox mainstream biblical Christianity. Insiders claim and the Lausanne III statement implies that God is now doing something new which we should accept. If this is such a good idea, then why did God wait 2000 years to reveal this new idea to the church? And why has respected orthodox Bible believing theologian or Statement of faith ever seen Biblical justification for it before? Answer: Because it is unbiblical.

* Syncretism (mixing of religions) has been a major problem throughout the whole history of the Bible and of Christian missions. The Lausanne III statement foolishly downplays that danger. We have to fight to keep Christianity pure. It is not going to stay that way by default. In South Africa we have millions of so-called 'Zionist' Christians who mix witchcraft and belief in ancestors with Christianity. This is not biblical. And it is a constant battle for mainstream denominations throughout Africa to stop such mixing of beliefs. The same is found in South America, where local ancient pagan gods were just adapted to become catholic saints and still worshipped in the same way they always had been. Ancient Israel had to battle with the influence of Canaanite idols throughout their history. It is not helpful for Lausanne III to issue a statement downplaying this danger. A risk is that the current postmodern missionary strategy of reaching Islam will spawn a new hybrid religion of 'Chrislam'.


The Lausanne III statement is counter-productive in dealing with a new postmodern "insider movement' strategy of missions. It threatens the definition of Christianity. The Lausanne III drafting committee should withdraw this clause. Biblical missiologists and theologians need to apply their minds to this issue and come up with a more biblical statement response. The blog, is starting this process.

Please register your objection to the Lausanne III Cape Town Commitment (Part 2C,section4) paragraph on 'insider movements' at: and ask them to withdraw it.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Rosenthal


Christianity Today Magazine spreads confusion on the doctrine of the Son of God.

Lausanne 'Call to Action' text on the insider movement.

Afghan convert to Christ released

Recommended resource on the insider movement:


For those who read my previous article on the Lausanne III Congress,, I am sorry, on publication, I looked for the section on Postmodernism and was encouraged by it, while skim reading the rest of the document which is in this instance self-contradictory. Most of the document is very good and helpful but there are problems and I believe this is the most serious. The Lausanne III Call to Action is a very long document in contrast to the much shorter Lausanne I & II documents. The longer the document, the harder it is for everyone to check it carefully for problems. After seeing this problem, I took time to research the issue and discuss with others before responding with this article, which is the reason for the delayed response. I wish I could wholeheartedly endorse the Lausanne III Call to Action. Unfortunately I cannot. To be silent I believe I would be an unfaithful watchman (Isaiah 56:10). However unpopular it might make me, I must sound an alarm.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011



This week, the Lausanne Congress released the final version of 'The Cape Town Commitment: Call to action' The first part (previously released) is a general evangelical Statement of Faith. The second part (released this week) is a call to action based on the discussions leading up to and during the Lausanne Congress held in Cape Town in October 2010. What is significant is that the first article explicitly speaks up against Postmodernism as follows:

"Cultural and religious plurality is a fact and Christians in Asia, for example, have lived with it for centuries. Different religions each affirm that theirs is the way of truth. Most will seek to respect competing truth claims of other faiths and live alongside them. However postmodern, relativist pluralism is different. Its ideology allows for no absolute or universal truth. While tolerating truth claims, it views them as no more than cultural constructs. (This position is logically self-destroying for it affirms as a single absolute truth that there is no single absolute truth.) Such pluralism asserts ‘tolerance’ as an ultimate value, but it can take oppressive forms in countries where secularism or aggressive atheism govern the public arena.

A) We long to see greater commitment to the hard work of robust apologetics. This must be at two levels.
1. We need to identify, equip and pray for those who can engage at the highest intellectual and public level in arguing for and defending biblical truth in the public arena.
2. We urge Church leaders and pastors to equip all believers with the courage and the tools to relate the truth with prophetic relevance to everyday public conversation, and so to engage every aspect of the culture we live in."


* Firstly, because Evangelical Christianity has been under severe and sustained attack from those who wish to compromise and synthesize Christianity with Postmodernism (called the Emerging Church movement) instead of fighting back against it. Some of our largest Evangelical institutions including for example Zondervan Publishers, many denominations and seminaries have been compromising. These compromisers threaten to destroy the very definition of Biblical evangelical Christianity.

* Secondly, because the Lausanne Congress is the single largest and most influential institution in Evangelical Christianity in the world today. Unlike many other institutions which misleadingly claim the title 'international', it has representatives from all over the world (except for those under persecution whose governments prevented their citizens from participating).

* Thirdly, because the statement is explicit. Unlike many other public statements, it does not beat about the bush. Postmodernism is identified as false, illogical, misleading, a negative influence a threat to Evangelical Christianity and religious freedom.

* Fourthly, because it proposes sensible measures for churches to fight back against postmodernism by identifying, equipping and praying for leaders who can argue against it in the public arena and in educating all believers with the skills to debate against it. ('Apologetics' means defending the gospel against attack). In this context it means defending the truth against the false teaching of Postmodernism.

* Fifthly, because combating Postmodernism in the church in the Western World will greatly assist the forward progress of world evangelism (the principal goal of the Lausanne Congress) and the persecuted church. Read why here: (This article I submitted to the planning sessions of the Lausanne Congress in 2008, encouraging them to make a statement against postmodernism - which is what they have done).

* Sixthly, because they put the call to action to defend the truth against Postmodernism first in the practical part of the document their 'call to action', recognising the central importance of the fight against Postmodernism to the defence and advance of Christianity in the Western World.

* Seventh, because it affirms the definition of Evangelicalism and draws a new boundary. Mainline evangelical Protestantism in the Western World has been destroyed through compromise and accommodation of the ideology of Modernist liberalism. Evangelical Protestantism was then renamed 'Evangelicalism' by those who wanted a description of their beliefs that had real meaning. The meaning of Evangelicalism was being eroded by accommodation of Postmodern liberalism. Old statements faith were not capturing this issue. Now the boundaries have been redrawn to exclude Postmodernism.

Let us build on this victory and see that the 'Lausanne Congress Cape Town Call to Action' against Postmodernism is heeded on the ground!


* Please give this to your pastor and the elders of your church or the leader of your Christian organisation. Forward it by email or print out this email and give it to him. Encourage him to implement this recommendation and educate his congregation against Postmodernism. He can find resources to do so at:
* Thank God for this great victory!
* Pray for any Christian institutions you may be a member of that they will be protected from Postmodern influence.
* Encourage your church and any institution you are a part of to publicise the above clause from the Lausanne Call to Action. Read it out in church or at your leaders meeting.

Let us heed this call and defend the church against Postmodernism.

Post your comments here:

Yours sincerely

Philip Rosenthal