President Caner combats
by Scott Sienkiewicz
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNEWS) – Truett-McConnell College President Emir Caner confronts the CAMEL method of evangelizing Muslims in Chrislam: How Missionaries Are Promoting an Islamized Gospel -- a new multi-authored book published by i2 Ministries.
Written by nearly 20 internationally noted scholars and theologians, Chrislam addresses the following questions: Are there missionaries who promote converts from Islam to remain in Islam? Is Islam the primary identity for a Muslim-turned-Christian, and how does this identity interface with one's deliverance from a false religion? Which rituals and phenomena of Islam may be given new meaning by converts? Is the Gospel of Jesus being Islamized by Western missionaries?
The posed questions are rhetorical for the book's essayists, and for Dr. Caner, who challenges missionary practices that promote an Islamized gospel in his chapter titled "Insider Movements' Equivalent of Limbo: The CAMEL Method," and contests the CAMEL method -- developed by International Mission Board Missionary Kevin Greeson -- that attempts to prove the Qur'an declares a biblical Jesus.
The CAMEL method -- named for a Muslim proverb -- has its converts calling their pastor imam, identifying themselves as Isahi Muslims (Muslims who belong to Jesus), and maintaining traditional Islamic worship styles. For a Muslim converted by the power of the Gospel, the "heavy baggage of ritualism, such as the Islamic prayers, is replaced for a relationship with Christ that has no such requirements," Caner said.
Caner believes the issues are more than asserting that the Gospel can be revealed through the Qur'an, but that the CAMEL method uses "deceptive exegetical techniques in order to find an interpretation of the Qur'an that fits the Bible." However, the "doctrine of special revelation is the paramount issue that is most troubling about the CAMEL," Caner said. "You must believe that Muhammad was close to the truth or even worse, that he received divine revelation about the essential truths of the Gospels."
"That presumption is fortified when you will open the Qur'an with the Muslim and speak about the Allah of the Qur'an as if he was the same as the God of the Bible," he said, adding, "You must feel comfortable with Christianizing the Qur'an, skipping verses and putting forth interpretation that has rarely, if ever, been seen in Islamic history," Caner said.
To employ the CAMEL method, one must "believe that Muslims can find salvific hope with the Qur'an and assume that the Islamic holy book actually teaches the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Greeson holds the Qur'an in high regard, calling it truthful, and containing hope for eternity in heaven. Caner says the CAMEL method holds the Qur'an at least on par with the Holy Bible if not in an elevated position over it.
"We have no more right in abusing and reinterpreting the Qur'an than someone has to blatantly misinterpret our Scriptures in order to prove a presupposition," Caner said. The CAMEL method employs techniques that "hope for the pure, unadulterated ignorance of the person to whom you are witnessing," Caner said. "If the person has even a superficial knowledge of the Qur'an, he will know your exegesis is perverted and will prove your ignorance."
Caner maintains that the Holy Bible is wholly sufficient for salvation for all regardless of religious background. "The Christian must recognize the sufficiency of Scripture as articulated through the Savior."
"The Word of God, which convinced the disciples 2000 years ago, remains as powerful today and will clearly point to the risen Lord who saves," he said.
Conversely, whether intentionally or unintentionally, "the Scripture is declared insufficient in its power to draw men to Christ," by the CAMEL method, Caner said.
"In the end, one cannot 'discover an amazing truth' but only a repudiation of the crucial doctrines of Christianity," Caner said. "Any truly effective evangelism will be accomplished through the demonstration of transformed lives. Truth is immortal."
TMCNews asked President Caner how closely, if at all, does the ecclesiology of CAMEL converts reflect that of the New Testament? He responded:
The CAMEL sacrifices discipleship, in particular the doctrine of the ecclesiology, in order to allow new converts to continue in their old, lifeless traditions. Instead of teaching the new believers the power of the local church, the CAMEL advocates, or at the least allows, new believers to sustain their old practices. However, a new identity in Christ deserves a new way of thinking and believing.
When asked if he thinks Isahi Muslims face less persecution than Muslims-turned-Christians sans CAMEL, Caner replied:
In the short term, Isahi Muslims may face less persecution since they are out of view from the rest of the Christian community. But when Muslims realize the deception behind such disingenuous titles and practices, these new believers may face even greater persecution from the Islamic community that sees them as a threat akin to a spiritual spy. Muslims are more likely to believe, as well, the Islamic perception that Christians lack a strong ethical foundation, a belief that will also bolster their claim that Islam is the only true religion.
Chrislam may be purchased online at www.i2ministries.org
Scott Sienkiewicz is a staff writer at Truett-McConnell College