Rob Haskell will be representing the WEA's Theological Commission at this year's ‘Bridging the Divide’ conference which will take place in the Middle East. ‘Bridging the Divide’ is a group of missionaries and scholars, sometimes described as ‘scholar‐practitioners,’ that is dedicated to bringing the gospel to the Muslim world.
The ‘divide’ that the group seeks to bridge is controversy surrounding the so called ‘insider movements.’One of the questions that the group handles is to what extent should Muslim converts to Jesus be expected to shed their Muslim identity?
Some argue that since ‘Muslim’ is significantly a cultural descriptor, it is appropriate for follows of Jesus to still use this designation and participate as much as their new faith allows in their native culture as a Muslim. Others argue that believers in Jesus should clearly self-identify as ‘Christian.’
Another important issue is to what extent Bible translation should be crafted for a Muslim audience. This touches on the question of whether ‘Son of God’ ought always to be rendered using ‘filial language.’ Rob Haskell was on the WEA Independent Bible Translation Review which last year concluded that ‘the most directly equivalent familial words with in a given linguistic and cultural context’ should be used to translate ‘Son of God’ and related terminology.
However, this issue is broader. For example, should the Old Testament use Muslim names for biblical characters found in the OT? Another set of issues has to do with whether the Bible supports an ‘insider’ approach to outreach and church planting. Some see support for it in the OT testament stories of Naaman and Jonah among others, and NT accounts such as the Samaritan woman in John 4 and the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.
The purpose of Bridging the Divide is to provide space for representatives of both sides of the debate to discuss and debate these types of questions in a cordial and respectful manner, together seeking God's wisdom on these questions. At this year's meeting Rob Haskell will present a paper on the hermeneutics of the discussion, titled ‘Insider Movements ‐ An Exercise in Mere Hermeneutics.’
The purpose of the paper is not to argue for one side or the other, but evaluate how scripture is being used in the debate and suggest some possible ways to move forward in the area of Biblical interpretation. It is expected that this paper will be published in the WEA TC’s Evangelical Review of Theology.
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