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A Word in Due Season

Heresy in Wisconsin.

Very eager to hear your thoughts.  Below I am posting what Christ the Rock leadership handed out to their congregation the following Sunday and Pastor Tim’s analysis of it.  I have received numerous emails from the Biblical Missiology Society all strongly in favor of Pastor Tim’s video and analysis.  What do you think?

A Look at Christ the Rock’s Statement on C5 Contextualization: 

A Denunciation or an Affirmation?

By Pastor Tim Snell

 

In light of my recent release of the video, “Teaching Another Gospel”, Christ the Rock Community Church’s (CTR) Statement on Contextualization – which their leadership is handing out – bears further analysis.  What are they actually saying and what does it mean?  Is it a denunciation of C5 contextualization, or is it an endorsement?

As we will see, an analysis of their words in this statement – in light of the words of the conference, and in light of John Travis’ contextualization scale – lead to one clear and inescapable conclusion:  This statement, while well word-smithed to appear as if there should be no cause for concern, is actually a resounding affirmation of their embrace of the C5 contextualization method.

Let’s begin with the statement itself.  I’ve included it here:

Christ the Rock’s Statement on Contextualization

 

WHAT WE DO BELIEVE

 

  • We believe in the authority of the Bible.
  • We believe in the person and lordship of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of Man and the Son of God; the only mediator between God and man and the only way to salvation.

Is the Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible the same?

No. We do not believe that the nature and character of Allah of the Qur’an is the same as the nature and character of the God of the Bible. 

That is why we strongly desire to introduce Muslims to the Risen Christ, because Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form (Colossians 1:13-20).

The word Allah is simply the Arabic word for the English word God.  Every Arabic speaking Jew, Christian or Muslim uses Allah for God.  There is no other word.  There are 15 million Arab Christians that use this word for the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Every Arabic translation of the Bible that has ever been, uses Allah for God in both the New Testament and Old Testament.

Is the Qur’an a holy book, the inspired word of God?

No. We do not believe that the Qur’an is the inspired word of God.

 

Is Muhammad a prophet of God?

No. We do not believe that Muhammad was a prophet of the God of the Bible.

 

Can Muslims become Christ followers and remain Muslims?

Spiritually, no.  Culturally, yes, as long as the customs or traditions do not contradict the Word of God.

Gradually, as Muslims learn the Word of God, we believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.  Example – a Native American can become a Christ follower and remain a Native American culturally, but not spiritually.

 

 

Do you believe in the Trinity?

Yes! We believe there is only one God expressed in three divine persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus the Son of God?

Yes! He is the Son of the Living God of the Bible.

So, where shall we begin?

Well, first let’s begin where we find agreement.  There is much in this statement to affirm.  Their affirmation of the authority of scripture, their affirmation of the person and work of Jesus, their rejection of Allah (as understood within a Muslim context) as being the same God as the God of the Bible, their rejection of Muhammad as a prophet of YHWY, their rejection of the Quran as being inspired, and their affirmation of the triune nature of God – these we all stand in agreement on.  I am pleased to see CTR clearly take a Biblical stance on each of these important issues.  None of these are trivial matters to our faith.

With that being said, such affirmations and denunciations (while important) really don’t cut to the heart and soul of what C5 Contextualization is, nor do they speak to the primary concerns Pastors such as myself have which lead us to call the C5 teaching heretical.  While it is true that many C5 proponents would hold to perspectives other than what CTR has outlined here, it is also true that many C5 proponents would be in agreement with every statement on this page.  Why?  Because such statements really are only somewhat relevant to the entire C5 Contextualization issue.

As I mentioned in the video, C5 proponents will often trot out an evangelical statement of faith as if to say, “What is the problem?”  But the issue is not their statement of faith (at least not when it truly is evangelical).  The issue is they think that they can take such a statement of faith, and make it compatible with people coming to faith who would hold a very different statement of faith (i.e. Muslims), in the hopes that “after coming to Jesus” some of these unbiblical beliefs will fall to the side.   Note a phrase in CTR’s statement we will come back to in a bit:  “Gradually, as Muslims learn the Word of God, we believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.”  [Emphasis mine]  That, church of God, is C5 in a nutshell.

However, we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves.  Let’s back up a bit and note the obvious.

My first observation when I read this statement was that there was no explicit denunciation of C5 Contextualization, nor what was taught at the JIQ conference, as heresy.  An oversight?  Maybe… but highly unlikely.  Given CTR’s leadership brought the JIQ Conference in, given its heretical nature, and given that Pastor Bill and Janet have endorsed the teaching publicly, it seems as if – if the church leadership really believed it to be heretical – they would have clearly denounced it and apologized so as to leave their people no doubt as to where they stood.

But they didn’t.

Instead we get some statement that is word-smithed so as to brush aside the concerns being raised without having to deal with them.   It all sounds good.  But in the end, the concerns are not just still present, they are resoundingly confirmed as being valid.  We just have to take a closer look.

The real meat of the matter is found in the section where they actually deal with the issue of contextualization itself.  Let’s take a look at it.

“Can Muslims become Christ followers and remain Muslims?

Spiritually, no.  Culturally, yes, as long as the customs or traditions do not contradict the Word of God.

Gradually, as Muslims learn the Word of God, we believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.  Example – a Native American can become a Christ follower and remain a Native American culturally, but not spiritually.”

As I stated earlier, what this paragraph states is C5 Contextualization in a nutshell.  It just dresses it up nice and pretty and tries to hide its deeply unbiblical flaws.

How do I know it is C5?  Several ways.

First, compare the wording of CTR’s Statement on Contextualization to John Travis’s description of C5 contextualization (Travis developed the C1 – C6 Contextualization Scale) and see if the language sounds similar.

CTR’s Statement on Contextualization

John Travis’ Description of C5 Contextualization

(Travis is the one who developed the contextualization scale)

“Can Muslims become Christ followers and remain Muslims?

Spiritually, no.  Culturally, yes, as long as the customs or traditions do not contradict the Word of God.

Gradually, as Muslims learn the Word of God, we believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.  Example – a Native American can become a Christ follower and remain a Native American culturally, but not spiritually.”

C5 Model: Christ-centered communities of “Messianic Muslims” who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Description:  Believers remain legally and socially within Islamic community. Aspects of Islam incompatible with the Bible are rejected or if possible, reinterpreted. Believers may remain active in the mosque. Unsaved Muslims may view C5 believers as deviant and may expel them from the Islamic community. If sufficient numbers permit, a C5 “Messianic mosque” may be established.

It is pretty obvious.  C5 Contextualization as Travis defines it is where one keeps their Muslim identity but seeks to take out those things that are “unbiblical.”  In fact, C5 and C6 are the first levels on contextualization scale where we talk about people retaining their identity as Muslims!  Never before.  This, in the end, is not only how Travis defines C5, it is exactly what we find referenced in CTR’s Statement on Contextualization, the concept of Muslims who remain Muslims as they follow Christ.  That only happens in C5 Contextualization and above.   The truth is, it is eerie how strikingly similar some of the language is between the two.

This is then reaffirmed again when one considers what CTR has written and compares it to what was presented at the end of the JIQ conference as one of the presenters was summarizing the entire teaching of C5 (that one can and should follow Christ while they remain Muslim):

CTR’s Statement on Contextualization

From the JIQ Conference

“Can Muslims become Christ followers and remain Muslims?

Spiritually, no.  Culturally, yes, as long as the customs or traditions do not contradict the Word of God.

Gradually, as Muslims learn the Word of God, we believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.  Example – a Native American can become a Christ follower and remain a Native American culturally, but not spiritually.”

Conference Participant:  “That heritage, while strong in the Islamic faith, is not a literal heritage [as in a nationality].  When they come to faith as a believer in Jesus, why don’t they say, ‘I’m a follower of Jesus and I’m an Arab?”  Why do they say, ‘I’m a follower of Jesus and I’m in Islam?’ …

Conference Presenter:  …”But Muslim is their culture.  I understand what you are saying, that it is not their nationality necessarily.  Like in Indonesia a family’s an Indonesian Muslim.  Right?  So He is a follower of Jesus – he would call himself an Indonesian Muslim still.  Okay?  Because that is their identity inside of their culture and their country. …  So their Muslim identity to them is really important for separation of who they really are.  When they come to Christ they still refer to themselves as Muslim – not Arab  but Muslim followers of Jesus.”

Again, we find that CTR’s language fits like a hand in a glove with both Travis’ description of C5, and with JIQ’s description of C5.  “Muslim followers of Jesus.”  “Muslim [who ] become Christ followers and remain Muslim.”  Humm.   Once again, eerily similar.

Someone might say, “Okay, so they are similar.  But I don’t see the problem Biblically.  What’s wrong with that?”

Well, essentially it is a bait and switch.  Catch this, because what I’m about to tell you is what explains everything you heard in the “Teaching Another Gospel”[1] video and from the teaching which came out of the JIQ conference.

C5 proponents claim that being Muslim is not a religious identity for most Muslims, just a cultural one.  That is right.  (You’ll note a nod to this C5 concept in the very first sentence of CTR’s statement as well).  If that were true, we all might say, “No problem.”   The issue is, not even C5 proponents really believe that.

For example, if “Muslim” is just a cultural identity and not a religious one, then why do C5 proponents go to such great lengths to not present Jesus as the “Son of God.”  You see, that is a religious issue, not a cultural one.  Or why tell Muslims it is okay to look to the Quran as a holy book.  (Oh no, the presenter may not think it is inspired  … as in CTR’s case … but they nevertheless think it is okay if this “Muslim believer” does …so as to “bridge the gap” between them being Muslim and following Christ.)  Again, that is a religious issue, not a cultural one.

Again and again, while saying “Muslim” is just a cultural identity that is fine for believers to keep, C5 proponents show by how they carry this forward that they know this isn’t true.  They know it is a religious identity.  Again and again they seek to minimize Biblical truth to make the gospel palatable … entirely on RELIGIOUS grounds.  That isn’t cultural contextualization.  That is the blending of religions, which is syncretism.  That is why C5 is heresy.  That is why again and again in the JIQ conference you heard the presenter cave on doctrines that are absolutely at the core of our faith.  While claiming “it is just about a cultural identity, not a religious one,” they do a bait and switch as seen in the fact that their entire approach consists of trying to repackage religious concerns to make them compatible with Islam.  “Yes, we hold an evangelical statement of faith, but we won’t push that on you.  You can remain a Muslim (not just culturally …but obviously spiritually as well).   Perhaps you’ll grow out of some of the unbiblical things you believe later.”

My friends, this is a gospel without repentance.  It is a watering down of the faith to make it palatable.  It is syncretism.  And as heartbreaking as it is, it is right there in CTR’s statement on Contextualization.   They do this exact bait and switch.  Notice their wording again.

“Can Muslims become Christ followers and remain Muslims?

Spiritually, no.  Culturally, yes, as long as the customs or traditions do not contradict the Word of God.

Gradually, as Muslims learn the Word of God, we believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.  …

Did you catch it?  The first line of their answer says that it is fine as long as it is “cultural” not “spiritual.”  Yet their very next line affirms that it really will be about the Muslim’s religious beliefs.

“Gradually, as Muslims learn the Word of God, we believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.” 

So, they really were religious Muslims after all.

Interestingly, CTR’s Statement on Contextualization immediately tries to then switch it back to being just “cultural.”

“…  Example – a Native American can become a Christ follower and remain a Native American culturally, but not spiritually.”

My friend let’s be clear.  C5 proponents will pull this bait and switch again and again.  They will trot out an evangelical statement of faith, claim that all we are dealing with is a “cultural” Muslim, and yet again and again minimize key concepts and doctrines that are vital to our faith so as to not offend the Muslim who has that identity based on religious factors, not cultural ones:

  • The Deity of Christ is not presented.
  • It is okay if they continue to say the Shahada (The Muslim profession of faith which says:  “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is His prophet.)
  • That it is fine for these “Muslim followers of Christ” to say the Salaat (The ritual Islamic prayer by which they believe they will merit salvation.)
  • That they continue to view the Quran as a holy book.

Indeed, studies show that C5, because of this bait and switch does indeed produce a syncretistic blend of faiths.   A study done in 1995 of 72 key indigenous influence Muslim people “converted” through the C5 approach found that:

  • 50% continue to attend mosque on Friday
  • 31% attend mosque more than once per day, uttering standard Islamic prayers affirming Muhammad as God’s prophet
  • 96% say there are 4 heavenly books (standard Muslim belief)
  • 66% say the Koran is the greatest of the 4 heavenly books
  • 45% do not affirm God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • 45% feel peace or close to Allah when listening to the reading of the Koran (even though they do not know Arabic)

The question we must ask is, “Are these Muslim followers of Jesus genuine believers in the biblical sense, or are they syncretists not unlike the substantial number of Christo-pagans of Latin and South America?  What do results like this tell us?”

In the end, I don’t think we can escape the conclusion that, not only is the paradigm of C5 an unbiblical compromise of the core truths which undergird our faith, the fruit it produces is a fruit which blends and pigeonholes Islam and Christianity together in a way that is not Biblical faith at all.

Sadly, the CTR leadership’s Statement on Contextualization only reaffirms what Pastor Bill has already endorsed.  CTR believes and practices C5.  For all of the things that can be affirm as good in their Statement on Contextualization, in the end their very words mirror those of all proponents of C5.  Let’s be clear here, C5 Contextualization, because it promotes a blending of Islam with Christianity in evangelistic contexts, is heresy, plain and simple.  As such, my prayer and hope continue to be for CTR to repent and denounce this teaching clearly and publicly – as heresy – so that God’s people are not led into error.  It is my further prayer that they break off all ties to C5 groups and quit practicing C5 in any way in their ministry. This can be the only way forward if we as leaders are to be faithful to our Biblical mandate to “guard the flock of God.”

This Statement on Contextualization given by CTR’s leadership certainly does not point us in the right direction.

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July 25, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

8 Comments

  1. I just found out about Christ the Rock’s endorsement of this very dangerous heresy today (7/25/2011). I know the Lenz family, and let me say, I’m surprised and dismayed. My prayer will be that Bill Lenz will renounce this teaching publicly.

    Comment by Joel Parker | July 25, 2011

  2. Halfway through the video, I started to cry. I’ve only been born again for about a year. It took me years of wandering through doctrine, translation, and denomination before I finally received Christ. For the unsaved, the veil renders scripture confusing enough, already! This type of teaching just thickens the fog. Besides… we need to be honest and direct with the unsaved about the fact that there may not be time for them to “gradually…discontinue beliefs/actions that they previously held that are not biblical.”

    Comment by isaiah61v1 | July 25, 2011

  3. Joel and Isaiah, I am so sorry about all of this as much as you are. The way that Post Modern thought is creeping into the Church is nothing short of frightening. We must take a bold stand now or we will loose the fight and who knows how many generations will suffer because they did not have the undefiled Gospel? Do I think that God is stronger than a new way of thinking saturating a culture? Of course I do. All around the world the Church is seeing what is happening in the West and taking action to stop it from getting into the Church in their countries. But what about America? Will we as the Body of Christ there simply turn our backs on the truth because we think we know better? Thank God for men like Pastor Tim who is taking the heat for doing this because it was the right thing to do.

    Comment by joiepirkey | July 31, 2011

  4. Well, Christianity is the only faith that has more sects in the world than any and they are increasing by day and each believes other to be wrong.
    So instead would it not be better that we focus our work on what Jesus taught and why it is not practiced than what others are doing.

    Comment by James | August 3, 2011

  5. Today’s people and their thinking is more logical than what someone would like it to be.Today there are many many more people who believe that
    Jesus was neither God nor his son.
    Bible is not inerrant and has even lies as can be seen by reading this link by a very notable christian scholar:.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/the-bible-telling-lies-to_b_840301.html?ref=fb&src=sp#sb=1516683,b=facebook
    Jesus didn’t die on cross as the accounts are so confusing.
    Jesus was not born on Dec25 as shepards then were grazing sheep(Jehovas witnesses)
    So where is christianity today anyway?

    Comment by Elliott. | August 4, 2011

  6. Elliot, just because people do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, is God doesn’t mean He is not. It simply means they are believing a lie, quite like Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Charles Russell and many more who went astray did when they had visions from the enemy. The issue here is not “is Islam a legit religion” it is that to mix Christianity with Islam is a sin and God hates it. This Church in Wisconsin and many more who have been adopting the C5 heresy are wrong. And just like peaceful Muslims need to deal with violent Muslims we as Biblical Christians need to deal with those in our faith who stray. The Bible tells us to expose false teachings and so Pastor Tim is doing just that. Now the Church must take a stand to rebuke this method and to defund it.

    Comment by joiepirkey | August 7, 2011

  7. That means more new sects in christianity. After atheism now C5.Why?Because all these dogmas,Jesus is God,Jesus is son of God(which he never himself said).He died on the cross for your sins(While he said that no one will lift no one else’s burden,meaning you do wrong and you pay)They just don’t make sense to a questioning mind.And still you say this is not the issue.

    Comment by Elliott. | August 8, 2011

  8. “Since most IMers come from the evangelical movement and are “at home” in those sending churches, they know exactly what to say that will resonate with this audience. Similarly, they know exactly what not to say that would “raise a red flag.” This is the familiarity which IM has exploited that has allowed the movement to go along this far. Sadly, this is the familiarity which even Judas exploited to “betray the son of man with a kiss.” (Was it not Zwemer who astutely noted that Islam betrays the Lord Jesus Christ with the kiss of a few compliments?) While I am not saying that IMers are a type of Judas, I am saying that familiarity can bring the opportunity for betrayal. It is a sobering realization which should keep us all on our knees.” Fred

    Comment by Anonymous | September 14, 2011


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