Friday, September 28, 2007

The Camel Method

I just had an excellent conversation about the Camel Method with some friends. In case you aren't familiar with it the camel method is basically the approach to evangelism and missions that uses the Koran as a bridge to draw Muslims to the gospel. It basically is an approach to using the Koran as an evangelistic tool in an attempt to make it "easier" to speak to a muslim about Jesus' holiness, power, and position.

A few thoughts...
1) It seems that this method is a subtle pursuit to avoid persecution.

2) It seems to feed ignorance and insecurity about what one knows about the religion of Islam and makes Christians think that they can't share the gospel without using the Koran. This appears to be a prideful undermining of the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is the revelation of how mankind might be saved into a relationship with the one, living, triune God. The method seems to undermine the authority of the Bible. This method is not the same as Paul quoting a prophet from Crete (Titus 1:12) or a Greek poet (Acts 17:28) doesn't ever appear that he is claiming that those sources have authority (the camel method seems to).

3) It is deceptive and doesn't have a lot of integrity as it is basically a bait and switch tactic. [If we establish in people's minds that the Koran is indeed authoritative how are we going to remove that from their minds? This seems to scream bait and switch.]

4) Christians need to spend more time gaining an understanding of what the Bible teaches about God and themselves. This will enable them to share the gospel and apply the true authoritative Scriptures to the individual situation.

5) You don't have to have an understanding of every religion in the world (and their writings) in order engage people with the gospel. A good solid understanding of the true God and the true state of man will enable us to share the gospel most effectively (similar to how one is trained to identify counterfiet money...they don't look at all the possible fakes...the just study the true thing intensly and analytically).

Any thoughts??


Shane Vander Hart said...

I haven't read this book, but having had the chance to witness to some Muslims in lock-up I have a few thoughts on the subject.

I'm not so sure that it is so much to avoid persecution, but rather to open doors to have a conversation which may have not been open before.

I have a friend who has used the Koran to have a conversation with Muslims about Jesus. It is not the end, but a means to an end. The conversation should lead to presenting a biblical picture of who Jesus is.

Again, I can't defend the book or criticize it. I would say usage of the Koran isn't giving it authority or bait & switch it is simply meeting Muslims where they are at - provided your conversation doesn't end there.

Also, any missionary would tell you that to be effective you have to understand the culture and mindset of the person you are ministering to.

Noah Braymen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noah Braymen said...

Thanks for the response Shane!

I'd be happy to talk more with you about use of the Koran and such through email.

I would slightly disagree with your last point.

I don't think that effectiveness is determined by the method, unless your method is the same as what the Bible outlines. I agree that missionaries should labor to learn the language of the people they are trying to reach. I also agree that they should learn about the culture as well. However, that is not evangelism. Evangelism involves sharing the gospel. So I think that at best that could be called developing a relationship.

We should develop relationships with people and love them, but if I felt like I had to know the personal background of every person I ever came in contact with in order to be effective in sharing the gospel I think I would be pretty discouraged from sharing the gospel.

As we share the gospel with people we will learn more about who they are and their background. I think we should talk about Jesus Christ as soon as we can in our conversations in as loving a way as possible.

Don't worry I'm not advocating what that one group was doing when they came to VEFC from KS.

Any further thoughts? I'm trying to work this out myself.

In Christ,

Ryan said...

I can't say much about the book, since I haven't read it. Some quotes I've found sound funny, but I'd like to read them in context. I do have some thoughts on sharing Jesus with Muslims in general, though.

It seems like you see the book arguing for one extreme (not using the scriptures at all) while you argue for another (using the scriptures and not the Koran). If that's the case I would submit to you that there is a lot of middle ground in between that uses both.

Every Muslim missionary I've talked with, to varying degrees, discusses the Koran and Muslim culture/superstition (I've heard it estimated that 70% of Muslims worldwide subscribe to some sort of animism in addition to some of the teachings of Islam) with Muslims they are witnessing to. Part of it is that this is an easy way to compare Mohammed and Jesus, and part of it is because showing respect (VERY different from giving authority) for their holy book and beliefs opens doors for conversation. It's not that you have to use those things or that they are a part of the gospel. All I'm saying without being exhaustive in discussing it, it seems possible for there to be other options, even if this book doesn't present one of them.

Bryan said...

Using the Koran as a bridge for Muslims is very effective.

It does not "establish" the Koran as an authority, it recognizes that the Muslim only views the Koran as authoritative, that they have been taught the Bible used to be God's Word but was corrupted, and that they are not supposed to read the words of Jesus.

Therefore, you show them in their own book where the Koran says "Study the words of Jesus", "The Bible is God's Word", "God's Word cannot be corrupted." Show a Muslim those teachings in the Koran and suddenly they are willing to read the Bible. Get them reading the Bible, and they realize how stupid the Koran is and they leave it. Without starting in the Koran, however, they will not listen to a word you say.

This method is very biblical. It is the method Jesus used in Nazareth and the Paul used in Athens, etc.

All your criticisms start with "it seems" which mean 1. you're not sure and 2. You don't know Muslim culture and have never tried to evangelize Muslims using the Camel Method, and also not using it to compare.

Anonymous said...

Hi Noah,

May be you already know that the Quoran records Jesus the 'Word' of Allah, the 'Spirit' of Allah. All Arabic believers Address God as 'Allah' as that is the only word for 'God' in their language which is 'Arabic'. Our Muslim friends also believe that Jesus is coming back as the Judge.

I am a full time worker meeting these friends day in and day out. I have personally encoutered that quoting from and referring to the Quoran produces eager eyes and alert ears instantly. The hope and prayers of finding the common threas (that agrees with the Bible) and utilising them is for the ultimate purpose of guiding our friends' eyes to the true Savior. Three freinds who put faith in Christ this year was introduced to Jesus thru the Q.

For me, the ultimate answer is from God when we are unsure or confused. God's ways transcends way beyond our limited and finite methods. You may have also know that the Lord Jesus (Isah Al Masih - Jesus the Savior) has shown himself to our Muslim friends in dreams and visions - those who seek him truly. Its the same JC who met Saul on the road to Damascas. Jeremiah 3:33

Salam Alei Kum.(peace to you).