by Harley Talman and John Jay Travis, eds.
—Reviewed by Daniel Shinjong Baeq, senior pastor, Bethel Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, Maryland
Critiquing and debating a novel idea or method enables its advocates and forerunners to fine-tune pre-existing theories for better practices. Pioneering efforts of the “Insider Movement” (IM) in recent years have garnered much attention which has resulted in a wide array of research and discussion. In this book, Harley Talman and John Travis compiled sixty-five germane papers to produce a comprehensive resource book to cover the spectrum of IM’s beginnings to contextual, biblical, historical, and missiological legitimacy to IM’s application in various religious communities.
Insider, according to the definition of this book, is “a person from a non-Christian background who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior but retained the socio-religious identity of his or her birth” (p. 8). The reader should keep in mind that the concept of insider was not designed by a prominent theologian or a missions strategist.
Rather, the concept was developed to describe and understand the Jesus-followers who remained within their own religious contexts. Considering that there are no two Jesus-followers who follow the same way among the vast number of different religious communities, the task of defining and encapsulating the breadth of all who can and could be qualified as such and systematizing and executing IM is exceptionally difficult.
This book shows a culmination of the efforts that have been made thus far in IM. The seven parts of this book are arranged to systematically introduce foundational blocks of the IM. Part 1 sets the stage of the discussion by reviewing the current and historical Christian approaches to other religious communities and the evolution of IM. In the parts that follow, the more concrete application and practical aspects of IM, including testimonies, case studies, and their analysis of IM communities from different religious contexts are presented. It is here where many scriptural and theological questions are raised.
Readers are then guided into the next three sections, in which biblical interpretations and theological insights are cited in support of IM. Further, pivotal missiological subjects—including incarnation, contextualization, and evangelism as it relates to IM of major religious traditions—are presented. Last, the editors attempt to address concerns and misunderstanding as well as issues of identity of the insider.
This multi-author volume contains the most pertinent articles that make a case for the importance of IM. One thing this book lacks, however, is the balance of voices. Although a portion of the book is dedicated to deal with controversial issues raised by the opponents of IM, their voice is neither heard nor discussed adequately. In fact, the collection of articles is limited, if not exclusively, to the IM advocates.
For a greater understanding and acceptance as a pertinent mission methodology, biblical scholars and historians should be invited to visit the differing thoughts and practices so that IM is holistically covered. To date, this book provides the best comprehensive curriculum to understanding the IM and would be most engaging to missiology students, missionaries, and mission strategists.
Chandler, Paul-Gordon. 2008. Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road: Exploring a New Path Between Two Faiths. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Kraft, Charles H., ed. 2005. Appropriate Christianity. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library.
Woodberry, J. Dudley, ed. 2008. From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices, and Emerging Issues among Muslims. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library.
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EMQ, Vol. 53, No. 2. Copyright © 2017 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.