The Camel, Will it carry you or spit in your eye?

Kevin Greeson of the IMB has set forth a method of evangelism known as the “camel method.” This method has been adopted by the IMB of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Camel Training “goes beyond teaching an evangelical method for reaching Muslims.”(ii) The goal set forth is to train the reader to facilitate a “massive church planting movement among the Muslims in your community”. (ii) Greeson states, “Reaching Muslims for Christ is NOT the ultimate goal.” (emphasis quoted not added, ii).

It is peculiar that Greeson states what he does about the goal of the Camel Method being a Church planting movement. ”Nowhere in the New Testament do we find the commandment to plant churches”. Evangelism must be the goal. New Testament teaching is clear that the church is to be constructed of believers. Unless evangelism is the goal then one is simply planting “churches” full of lost people. The first step in church planting is evangelism. This is how the church is birthed. Greeson cannot plant churches without evangelism; moreover any CPM (Church plant movement) that focuses on planting over evangelism is unbiblical. Evangelism must be the first priority.

The Camel method will be explained and then evaluated systematically. By understanding what the Camel method This method is explained below:

1. Isa is Holy (58)
This uses Surah 3:45-47:
Behold! the angels said: Oh Mary Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of those nearest Allah; 46 “He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be of the righteous.” 47 She said: Oh my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, ‘Be’, and it is!

to point out Christ is righteous, and unique. Greeson uses this Quranic text to compare the Holiness of Allah to the Holiness of Jesus; He discloses that this Holiness is of the same quality. This is an honorable endeavor to relate Christ with the One God of Holiness. It is further wise to build on the presuppositions of an unbeliever-providing that what is built is glorifying to Christ.

While it does behoove the Christian evangelist to dialog with unbelievers who actually believe in the virgin birth, it could lead to dangerous theological grounds to find common ground in these texts. While as a Southern Baptist missionary, there is little doubt that Greeson believes in the eternality of Christ; yet to begin an individual along the road to salvation with the presupposition that Jesus is a created being is a grave injustice to do to the King and the Kingdom. Any evangelism that is done should strive to teach proper Biblical views of Christ from the very beginning of the gospel. This may seem insignificant to some, however is should be noted that on the account of many Christians allowing compromises to the Gospel, heresies, cults and schisms have arose throughout church history.

2. Isa has Power over death (59)
Surah 3:49
And a messenger to the Children of Israel:” I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe;

The point of the use of the use of this text is to illuminate the fact that Jesus has power over death. However it would deduce that if Jesus has the power over death, according to this text, then he also gives the sign of the bird. This sign of the bird is a pseudepigraphic account of Christ’s activities.

CHAPTER XV
And when the Lord Jesus was seven years of age, he was on a certain day with other boys his companions about the same age. 2 Who when they were at play, made clay into several shapes namely, asses, oxen, birds, and other figures, 3 Each boasting of his work and endeavoring to exceed the rest. 4 Then the Lord Jesus said to the boys, I will command these figures which I have made to walk. 5 And immediately they moved and when he commanded then to return, they returned. 6 He had also made the figure of birds and sparrows, which when he commanded to fly, did fly, and when he commanded to stand still, did stand still; and if he gave them meat and drink they did eat and drink. 7 When at length the boys went away, and related these things to their parents, their fathers said to them, Take heed children, for the future, of his company, for he is a sorcerer; shun and avoid him, and from henceforth never play with him. http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/LostBooks/infancyall.htm

This again is a weak foundation to build upon. One must understand that in the succeeding verses of The Infancy Gospel of Thomas when Jesus kills another boy for simply running into Him (Caner, 113). Granted Greeson states, “It is critical that you understand the purpose and goal of the Camel Method. It is not to lead a Muslim to salvation in Christ. Its purpose is to draw out a Person of Peace.” However, while building his principle of “The Person of Peace” upon Luke 10, Greeson unpacks every part of this pericope except the theme of the biblical text.

Luke 10:8-11
8 “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you;9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 “But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’

This text is centered on the kingdom, therefore- the goal of finding the person of peace is to tell the “gospel of the Kingdom” to that person in whose house you stay. Moreover Greeson’s purposes for the Camel Training method are misguided. Jesus’ focus was never on finding “people of peace” or “planting churches.” Christ has one church built on this decree regarding who He is.

Matt 16:16-19
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

3. Isa Knows the way to heaven (60)
Surah 3:55
Behold! Allah said: O Jesus I will take thee and raise thee to myself and clear thee of those who blaspheme, I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.

This is the strongest point in the Camel Method. This is due to the fact that this Surah in no point is contrary to Scripture. The concept of the Camel Method is a biblical one. Paul spoke on Mars Hill to the Greeks of the unknown God, he reasoned in the synagogue of the prophesies fulfilled. The method of the Camel is what has been critiqued.

Greeson is a true New Testament evangelist in that he seeks to deal with the presuppositions of those he encounters. This is an admirable goal. The entirety of the objections discussed deal with fact that the Camel Method allows for teaching that is unbiblical. To avoid confusion, The Quran is acceptable to use as a bridge to the gospel, insomuch as the evangelist does not allow for unbiblical teaching. Muslims claim for the Quran what it does not claim for itself. Therefore, we as Christians must not allow the thought that the Quran is theologically authoritative. Presuppositions may be used, but truth must take precedent over opinion.

While the Camel is a great idea, it falls short in practice. Perhaps, if evangelists dealt with John the Baptist (a prophet of Islam:)) and what he says regarding Isa (Jesus) we would have less Muslim backgroud believers who seek truth in the Quran.

Advertisements

About matthewstevens

Matt needs more Jesus...just like you. He writes to encourage thinking and the expansion of the Kingdom
This entry was posted in Islam. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Camel, Will it carry you or spit in your eye?

  1. Pingback: Nouvelle campagne de conversion « Le Pharisien Libéré

  2. Pingback: Nouvelle campagne de conversion - Le Pharisien Libéré

  3. brian says:

    So, what other methods would you suggest that you deem biblical? Any thoughts?

  4. sharing my testimony,

    Spreading Fire Ministries
    Home↓About us↓Testimonies↓ Founders↓ Doctor Mustafa↓ Mahboob↓ Akbar↓ Father↓ Mother ↓Other Testimonies↓ Vision↓ Evangelism↓ Missionaries Financially↓ Bible Training Center↓ Church Planting↓ Orphanages↓ Helping to the Poor and Widows↓ Literature ministry↓ Photo Gallery↓ Partnership↓Contact us↓

    Doctor Musthafa

    I am Paul Musthafa born in a Muslim family on 10th of September in the year of 1977. My father was a Train Driver in Indian Railways. My father and mother, they were so religious and traditional people. They are so touch in their religion that they even ready to die for their religion.

    In the year of 1993, I was studying 10th standard and preparing for my examinations in that moment, I was going to tutorial to prepare my self for exams on the way suddenly I heard a voice calling by my name “Musthafa, Musthafa” I stood and thought some one was calling me and I looked all around, but I found no one there, except me. AS I was going, again I heard the same way calling by my name, and the voice said, “Look at me and be ye saved, I am The God, and there is none else”. I looked at sky there was nothing but some kind of power came around me I could feel it, it was just like electricity passing all over me and it was speaking.

    I thought he was the Allah (God of Muslims) whom I serve. Every where I go the power was coming with me, I was going to Mosque (Prayer temple for Muslims) but the power stopped and lead me to my house, as I was about to step in my house suddenly my foot came back and the power led me to a church compound in that premises there was a Gospel meeting going on under a tent, a preacher was preaching.

    I was thinking why I came here and what I am doing, this is a Christian church. Am unable to understand what the preacher was preaching. But one thing I understood that he was preaching about Jesus Christ. And the power which was around me, he spoke to me and said, “He is preaching about to the one who spoke to you on the way, he is the Lord Jesus Christ.” Then I closed my eyes and said to Jesus, “From now onwards I will pray to you.” I went to my home I learned prayer from a person who was a Christian near to my house. I started to pray. One day as I was praying persistently I completed praying I saw Jesus Christ, from that day onwards I usually see him.

    When my family people came to know about my new faith they got very angry. I faced a lot of problems in my family because my parents were so devoted to their religion. My mother used to get up early ion the morning at 4 o’clock and she used to read Quran (The holy book of Muslims) and pray. And she brought us up in the same way. My father was a leader in the Mosque, (Muslims prayer temple). They were so angry with me all the time because they thought that I have ruined our family name. As the time passed God brought all of our family members into salvation. We faced a lot of problems from Muslim community they cast us out from there religion and we are eliminated from our people. They tired to kill me many times but Lord saved me all the times. Many times He strengthened me to move in his ministry. He said, “you shall be a witness to me unto the ends of the world’.

    Now all of my family members are saved and they not only saved they are in ministry. I have three sister’s are married. I too got married and I have two children one male child and another female child. Every one of our family members they came through a miracle from God.

    In the year of 1994 I started Evangelism at Warangal. Warangal is a district in Andhra Pradesh state of India, and in surroundings of Warangal I did Evangelism for three years. I n the year of 1997 by the Vision of the Lord I started a Church at Kesamudram where I live with my family. I asked God about the Name of the Church he spoke to me and said the name of your ministry is “Spreading Fire Ministries” and the name of the Church is “EL-Shaddai”.

    We are working and spreading through out Andhra Pradesh. Now we are ministering in 20 villages and running 7 branches, (Cell Churches). We do not have church buildings. We have seven Pastors and three Evangelists working in the ministry.

    According to the Word of God Acts 1:8 “ But ye shall receive power, after that the holy Ghost is come up on you and ye shall be witness un to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judae, and Samaria and unto the through out the ends of the Earth.”

    This is the vision of our Lord to spread the Gospel through out the ends of the Earth.

    Please pray for the Ministry that we reach unto ends of the World with the Gospel

    please pray for us

  5. God Bless You, you have my prayers

  6. brian-Christ developed a connection with disciples before they even followed him as Savior. His message was plainly repent for the kingom is here” ie-I am the king” He took people from what they understood(king is coming) and led them to truth (I AM the king) Pure gospel is sufficient to save or evangelize I simply see no need to start with the Quran to establish a faith principle.

  7. J says:

    You quoted Greeson to say “Reaching Muslims for Christ is NOT the ultimate goal.”

    Which he did write in his book, although I think you make it unclear by not adding the point he makes in his book which is that the Camel is not designed to bring faith in Christ, rather to open doors and rapport with a Muslim to then use the Bible to reach Muslims for Christ.
    Neither the Koran or Camel Method bring saving faith and Greeson’s writing affirm this. I just don’t want there to be a dis-taste for his methodology based on misunderstanding.

    I should also ask if you often find yourself in a Mosque discussing Christ as you stated that: “While the Camel is a great idea, it falls short in practice. ”

    I serve in South Asia as an intern and have seen it used, IF (and I state that emphatically) if it is used properly it is a powerful tool, and that of course requires a propper understanding of the Camel method is and is not designed to do. It may not be the perfect method, but it is something.

    In Him,
    J

  8. J says:

    edit:

    understanding of the Camel method and what it is and is not designed to do.

  9. J. Thanks for your interest…

    “I think you make it unclear by not adding the point he makes in his book which is that the Camel is not designed to bring faith in Christ, rather to open doors and rapport with a Muslim to then use the Bible to reach Muslims for Christ.”

    Actually according to Greeson, after he states “…Reaching Muslims for Christ is NOT the ultimate goal…” (very problematic in itself) he then states “The goal of the [Camel]… is nothing short of training YOU to be a facilitator of a massive church planting movement among the Muslims in your community” (emphasis added) PP ii

    Then on page 51 he States “It is critical you understand the purpose and goal of the Camel Method. It is NOT to lead a Muslim to salvation in Christ. Its purpose is to out a PERSON OF PEACE” (emphasis original- not added)

    As stated in my original post- the concept of the Camel is Biblical, but yes it falls short in practice both Theologically and Practically—

    1. Theologically-by using this approach (which greeson apparently has three different “ultimate” goals with) the evangelist ‘admits’ truth authority in the Quran (by using it). This leads to the practically issue…

    2. Practically there are a majority of MBB’s who put great stock in the Quran for guidance and do so because a (M.) did so in the initial gospel presentation. It’s falls short in practice not because its a bad idea but it unintentially plants syncrestic seed

    [By the way the strength behind this statement comes not from my 5 years working with Muslims stateside and internationally but primarily from Phil Parshall, Steve Masood, and Warren Larson-all of whom confirmed the ‘shortcomings in practice’ first hand]

    My “distaste”, is not based on misunderstanding, but a clear understanding that this mixed signal approach has yielded at best confused MBB’s and at worst syncrestism in many cases.

    Thank you for your service to our Lord, I pray our exchange has challenged your mind as it has mine. I will pray for you during your internship. Be Biblical in theology but also in practice- In Him, Matt

  10. M says:

    Sir,

    As you certainly know Muslims often claim the Bible is not accurate.

    What are your thoughts about pointing out to a Muslim that the Qu’ran encourages Muslims to revere and read the Holy Books (Torah and Injeel), that it never states that either are “corrupted” (a later Islamic teaching) and that the study of biblical manuscripts shows that copies of the Holy Books exist today that are even older than the date of Mohammad’s words in the Qu’ran?

    The idea being to point out that 1) Mohammad said Muslims should read the Bible, 2) copies of the Bible exist today that were around when Mohammad was alive–which shows that the Bible has not been corrupted since then, and 3) to claim that the Bible is corrupted is to claim that Mohammad either a) encouraged Muslims to read lies or b) was ignorant of the corruption. Of course, no Muslim is likely to admit either.

    The whole point is to get them to question the later Islamic teaching of Biblical corruption so that you an get down to the business of reading/teaching scripture with them. The situation is somewhat similar to that faced when witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses with their own Bible “translation.”

    The issue is whether even this limited use of the Qu’ran is problematic?

    I appreciate your thoughts.

  11. abu daoud says:

    M:

    Greetings from the Middle East. Let me suggest an answer with two quotations:

    All truth is God’s truth (St Ambrose I think)

    Even the devil is God’s devil (Martin Luther)

    Sincerely,

    Abu Daoud

  12. travis says:

    Is the Camel Method a false teaching? Alah and our God is not the same…alah is worshipped as one mono god, ours is Three in One…therefore, making alah a false god, we should not use that name for our God to reach other people…

  13. matt says:

    I apologize to all three of you to be late in reply….

    M.- I feel limited use of tHe quran is problematic…If you start with, “the Quran states…” then you have given divine authority to a book to which it is not due…an alternative to substantiating the Quran is, “many Muslims believe…” or (preferred) “Do you believe that the Injil is divine as written?…..Can Allah be so weak as to allow His word to be corrupted?” This approach confronts one presuppositions w/o sacrificing your position on the Q’ran….FTR I use this same presuppositional approach w/ mormons, Jews (re:talmud) and other groups w/ ‘sacred books

    Abu daub-Is correct–but we must discern truth… and not give truth credit where it is undeserving…

    Travis- Regarding the name of Allah, What should Arab Christians call the Most High? God (English)? We call Him by what we know Him as according to Scripture. Yet Scripture has been translated so we understand. So for the Arab, to use the Arab word for God, what word is there? Only “Allah”, is the concept of the One, True,
    High, and Holy God. Dios-Spanish, God-English, Gott-German, Dei-Latin… Allah-Arab.

    True, The God of Mohammed is not the God of Paul. But when the Muslim says, “I follow the God of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus.” Should we say, “No you don’t!”? I submit rather we should strive to help to Muslim know the God he desires. Perhaps, we should seek to correct misconceptions of the One True God…

  14. Les says:

    Matt,

    Thanks so much for your comments and replies in the posts. I work in North Africa and have used Camel as a method.

    I have two contentions with your premises in critiquing the Camel method.

    First, the idea that evangelism is an end unto itself is problematic. The communal nature of evangelism and its immediate followup of discipleship takes place in the context of community in every instance in the book of Acts. (the case of the Ethiopian is the only one where one could argue that a single convert was made–though the likelihood of a court official traveling without a large entourage in the ancient world is impossible). The creation of man in the image of God is communal, that is why the singleness of Adam, his aloneness is “not good”–it fails to reflect the essentially relational unity of the Trinitarian God. Therefore, evangelism devoid of community is contra biblical. Furthermore, evangelism practiced as a discipline apart from a community of believers who are a church or becoming a church (have their own leadership, give, and practice the ordinances) is unbiblical in that it does not birth believers into this God intended community. The Great Commission is not a command to evangelize but to make disciples–itself at relational term implying a disciple and a mentor (Matt 28:18ff).

    Secondly, the primary use I have found for Camel method and other similar methods is one in which the missiological principles of Luke 9 and Luke 10 of finding the “man of peace” are used. Paul at Mars Hill (Acts 17) used a similar method of starting with pagan authorities of Greek poets (who advocated things completely contrary to a biblical worldview) to give credence to what he said to the philosophers. He ends with the resurrection and is laughed out of the room, but he accomplished his end in that several including Dionysius along with several others believes. Are we saying that Paul advocated everything the poet Pindar said by quoting him to bolster his argument for a creator God? I think not. The Camel Method is similar in this respect. It recognizes that the grace of God allows for portions of truth to be preserved in cultures that are pagan. It is these portions of the truth that allow the missionary to build bridges to the gospel. Those that the Holy Spirit is calling will then respond as Persons of Peace. It is these people who open the door for each town, city, or people group to be reached with the Gospel.

    The Camel Method is essentially a pre-evangelism method, like Paul’s Mars Hill speech, that allows us, in our human finite way, to discern who the Holy Spirit is calling to faith in Jesus Christ. Those that the Holy Spirit calls will later, by that same Holy Spirit, be able to recognize the false teachings of the rest of the Koran. The guardian of true doctrine is not the theologian, but God himself. I think that if you read further in Greeson’s book and look at the church planting material used in South Asia by Baptists, you will find that it establishes the principle of Sola Scriptura within the first two lessons after conversion.

    Thanks for bringing up these issues and I hope this brings clarification.

  15. revbart says:

    Great article. I share your concerns.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s