A Summary of the Teaching at the”Common Ground” (C5) Conference
Christ the Rock Community Church, August 21-22, 2009
- Muslims don’t need to become Christians (or leave Islam), nor should we compel them to. They can remain Muslims and simply “discover Jesus” in Islam. We should not convert Muslims. God wants people to “remain” in their current religious context.
- “Our goal in the morning, we lay out a foundation for the Kingdom of God. We become really clear about what we are doing when we are trying to talk about our faith or sharing our faith: that it’s the message of the Kingdom of God, that we’re not interested in any Muslim converting to Christianity…”
- “So for us Jesus is the only way. Now, that may or may not mean you have to change your religious identity.”
- Telling of a 16 year old who was accepting Jesus under the “Common Ground” (C5) Strategy:
- When he met Christians, they told him to leave Islam. But he didn’t want to. He met the speaker of this conference. This man (the speaker) “He [God] made you Muslim. Why were you born in a Muslim family?” “I said, ‘It seems to me like what you should be doing now that you know Christ is remaining where you are.’ I said, ‘You know what, we have enough Christians in our church. We don’t need you, but your family does.'” “And that’s what he did. He went home. He’s the youngest of four brothers. He went home and basically what he did; an example, basically he went home; this is what we teach them to do; He goes home, and he tells his father, he says ‘Yeah, something’s happened to me in my life and now I really understand what you’ve been trying to teach me since I was a little kid. … You know how you’ve been reading the Quran… And I’ve been reading it and studying it and I’ve discovered the message of who Jesus really is. And I’ve heard all the (arguments) because that’s what the Quran tells me to do. And I’m a good Muslim. … Thank you Dad.’ … That’s what they are trained to say; they’re not ashamed of that.”
- Another Story Shared
- But she could never go back home, because she was already an outcast, already on the fringe of her community, and we didn’t understand the principles we are teaching you here. It was that big ‘convert’ understanding, and she would have ripped up. And how could we ask that of her?”
- “Then I’ll say to her … I said, ‘You know what? I never want you to come over here [to Christianity] and I hope you’ll never ask me to come over here [to be a Muslim]. But together we can study the holy books and find the secret of that straight path into the Kingdom.”
- Yet Another Story
- “And my friend (someone’s name) loved the part about the Messiah but she couldn’t agree with all this other stuff. It was from “the Bible is corrupt” point of view.” [a reference to the perspective of the Muslim and why she couldn’t agree with the statement of faith because she believed the Bible was corrupt.]
- So when the speaker at the conference gets a hold of her, she reiterates that she won’t ask her to be a Christian, ever. “So I went into it … unlike the other lady’s message, I said, ‘I’m never going to ask you to come over to my circle [of Christianity]. Never.”
- The Kingdom of God is redefined. The Kingdom of God is not uniquely Christian (or even covenantal as in God’s fulfillment of his covenant with the Jews), but equally draws from various faiths: Christian, Muslim, etc. The C5 strategy, in light of this theology, could potentially be adapted for other faith groups as well, such as Mormons. (A similar diagram can be found on the “Jesus in the Quran” website at http://www.jesusinthequran.org/?cat=11).
- “God is radically at work amongst both the Christians and the Muslims drawing them together in His kingdom.”
- The diagram above is drawn by the presenter, p 24 of the workbook
- Describing what they say to a Muslim who says they really are committed to following Allah (but has not accepted Christ)… “So I’ll say, ‘You’ve already started on that straight path. You’ve already stepped into the Kingdom.'”
- “This is the Kingdom of God, right here, right in this room. We have a Jewish follower of Jesus sitting with a Muslim follower of Jesus, and a Christian follower of Jesus.”
- Muslims who have “discovered Jesus within Islam,” since they are encouraged to remain Muslim, can continue to hold to the Muslim profession of faith, the Shahada, which says that there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is God’s prophet. (This in spite of the fact that Mohammed’s “revelation” of Jesus included the denial of His divinity, death, burial and resurrection.)
- “‘Was Mohammad a messenger that pointed our people toward Jesus?’ And we say, ‘Yes.’ And they all said, ‘Yeah, we can say that. We can stand up anywhere before God and say that that was the first person that pointed us toward Jesus.’ … And so they felt like, ‘Yeah, we think we can stand up and say the Shahada in public before God.'”
- Christians should be careful in presenting Jesus as the “Son of God” as this would be offensive to Muslims.
- “We were in the furniture store and we were talking to this guy who was Jordanian and there were actually seven Muslims working in that store, and he just – boom: ‘Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?’ And I said, ‘No.’ … He said, ‘Well what do you believe?’ I said, “Well here’s what I believe who Jesus is. Jesus is the Word of God, He is the mercy of God, and He is the beloved, not …, but beloved of God, the soul of God, the spirit of God.’ And the guy says, ‘Wow!’ He said, ‘Are you Muslim?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m Christian, but this is what our book says, that’s what He is.”
- The Quran is a book which these believers should continue to look to, along with the Bible, in order to “discover this Jesus.”
- “Now this afternoon we are going to look into and spend some time with the Quran and see what it really says, and how the Quran lays out a straight path for a Muslim to walk on.”
- Mohammed may be, in fact, a true prophet of God (some think he is and some think he isn’t) and it is up to each conference participant to decide. Participants at the conference were encouraged to prayerfully consider if, in fact, Mohammad was a true prophet after all. This was both said in the conference and written in the workbook.
- The speaker presenting his view: “And the final little piece of it would go, ‘Was Mohammad a messenger of God?’ I’ll leave that to you to determine. Something you should wrestle with, think about, ponder. Think about, throughout the Bible, how many different people God used, of different backgrounds, different – sometimes unsuspecting – cultures and positions. I mean God spoke through all kinds of different people throughout the Bible. And so I’ll let you guys figure out what you think about that.”
- But the workbook left little doubt where they wanted the students to go. Here is how the workbook asked and answered the question of how to see Mohammad – no other written qualification was given:
- “So…was Mohammad a messenger of God?
- ‘My own judgment is that I see Mohammad as an authentic prophet of God, even though like other prophets after the time of our Lord, neither morally perfect nor doctrinally infallible.’ –Richard Henry Drummond, Islam for the Western Mind: Understanding Muhammad and the Koran (2005)” p. 45 of the workbook.
- At the very least participants were encouraged to view Mohammad positively. Mohammad was always portrayed positively, even from a spiritual perspective in the conference. There was no consideration of whether he might be, in fact, a false prophet.
- “But when we talk about Mohammad, we need to be able, as Peter tells us, to have in our hearts things that actually honor him.”
- “I’ve heard a number of quotes from Christians who just dishonor Mohammad. And scripture, honestly, doesn’t give us space to do that.”
What The CTR’s Leaders Said about “Jesus in the Quran,” “Common Ground” and the C5 contextualization Strategy That Was Presented?Bill Lenz on the Sunday morning following the Jesus in the Quran (C5) conference as he shares with the CTR body about the conference:
Janet Lenz speaking at the Jesus in the Quran Conference, presenting CTR’s approach in using the Common Ground strategy in their ministry to the Saharawi people. 8/22/09:
“A couple years ago a friend of ours who is a professor at Bethel Seminary introduced us to some people from an organization called ‘Common Ground.’ And the ministry of Common Ground has vast experience in working among Muslims and reaching them for Christ. And they have really helped us in thinking through how to effectively engage Muslims and how to influence them to become followers of the Lord Jesus. And there are some people from a church in Atlanta, Georgia called Grace Fellowship Church that have gotten some training from Common Ground, who have lived out that training on the field, who were here Friday and Saturday doing some training with some of our people, with some of our leaders, that are involved in the Muslim world. And the training was just absolutely excellent.”
“And we are excited to see what God’s going to do in the future. That the “Jesus and the Quran” Material and the broader Common Ground training came to us at that present time as God was leading us into their spiritual world, to help us not totally mess it up.”
“We didn’t come here to convert anyone. We’re trying to open up conversation so we can better love our fellow man.”Janet Lenz speaking about the approach CTR is already taking with the Muslim Saharawi people in Africa. 2/4/2009 http://www.upes.org/body1_eng.asp?field=sosio_eng&id=1501 We called the office of “Jesus in the Quran” (the people who did the training at CTR) on 9/17/09 and asked them if they have or are currently working with CTR in their work with the Saharawi people in Northern Africa. They confirmed they are currently working with CTR in their outreach to the Saharawi people using this approach, have in the past “for several months,” and plan to work with them directly on the field in November 2009. This confirms what both Bill and Janet themselves have said. And Finally, Bill Lenz on the 2nd Sunday morning following the Jesus in the Quran (C5) conference as he shares with the CTR body and attempts to further explain the conference:
“The seminar was taught by a few key leaders and missionaries from a church in Atlanta, Georgia called Grace Fellowship Church…. Another organization that does similar training is called Common Ground.”