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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.