A New Life for a Dead Camel in the New York Times

March 18, 2010

Just when one thinks something has been debated ad nauseum we find others take up interest.  The New York Times recently ran an article on Dr. Ergun Caner’s disagreement with The Camel Method.  This came to their attention through our podcast #21 where Dr. Caner made some bold statements and even had to apologize because his passion over rode his verbal abilities.  What is amazing is The Times did not pick up our podcast #24 where Dr. Caner was more explicit about his disagreements with The Camel Method.

We are seeing The Camel Method debated on SBC Impact where two of our contributors have tried to engage the theological side of the debate.  However, as I read the recent New York Times Op-Ed a new understanding has been presented as to the reason The Camel Method is a deceiving agent that makes it a bad “bridge”.  The author of the most recent NY Times article,  Robert Wright, (who covers culture, politics, and world affairs) points to the fact that The Camel Method’s deceitful tactics are enraging Muslims.  Mr. Wright points to the Christians that use this method as saying they are trying to get the “camel’s nose” under the Muslim tent.  Notice how he describes the deceit behind this terminology.

But a more apt etymology would involve the “camel’s nose under the tent.” The “overture” — the missionary’s initial bonding with Muslims via discussion of the Koran — is precision-engineered to undermine their allegiance to Islam.

Mr. Wright goes on to describe the problems with this kind of “wiliness”.

In some cases even the “camel’s nose” image doesn’t do justice to missionary wiliness. “Trojan Camel” might be better; some Christian missionaries call themselves Muslims — or at least muslims — because, after all, “muslim” literally means one who surrenders to God. A few have gone way undercover, growing beards and abstaining from pork.

You will notice that in the Camel Method tract it references being a “Pakka Muslim”.  This is exactly what Mr. Wright calls the “Trojan Camel”.  The Muslim community is beginning to respond to these deceiving tactics.

In Malaysia there are laws being drafted that will not allow Christians to refer to “Allah” as the God of the Christian Scriptures.  In Nigeria Christians are losing their lives because Muslims were many years in the majority but now are in the minority. In an interview with a Nigerian born cab driver, Mr. Wright found that one problem was, “American missionaries going abroad and trying to leverage the Koran against itself”.  The Op-Ed author reveals his liberal bias as he then proceeds to observe that aggressive evangelism techniques are part of this problem as well.  I am not against Christians being aggressive in their evangelism I believe we need more aggressiveness.  However, the common denominator that elicits the Muslims ire is the deceitful tactics used to win their family members.  To make one believe that he/she can still worship in the Mosque, abide within secrecy in their household, and feel they are still Muslim but now they are  Pakka Muslim, is deceitfulness plain and simple.

It seems that if we are going to present the Gospel we need to remove all appearances of deceit.  So that I can be plain.  There is nothing wrong with using the term “Allah” when one is speaking Arabic to refer to the Creator God as our Father. There is nothing wrong with using, for illustrative purposes, something from a person’s culture to point them to Jesus.  However, when one builds an entire presentation combining false documents that the Muslim culture holds as sacred with Holy Writ, that is not contextualization that is syncretism.

It seems that Dr. Caner and we here at SBC Today have found a voice of agreement in one of the last places we would suspect–the liberal media. As I heard one Brother say; ” What an ironic day we live in when liberals and Muslims are more likely to agree with us than our own IMB.” I will leave you with Mr. Wright’s closing paragraphs.  It reveals the liberal bias of the author and the heart of our differences with the Camel Method.

I’d like to be able to report that the “critics” in this headline are Christians who worry about heightening tensions and so refrain from offensive proselytizing. Alas, they’re Christians who favor assertive proselytizing but are offended by any suggestion that Muslims and Christians might worship the same god. One of them, Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., said in a recent podcast, “There’s nothing that the two gods — the god of the Koran and the god of scripture — have in common. Nothing.”

Well, to look at the bright side: Maybe that’s a basis for interfaith rapport; Caner can sit around with Malaysian Muslims and agree that they worship different gods.

Still, I like to think that their gods would beg to differ.