Contend Earnestly: Mike Gunn's Response to Crosstalk and Ingrid Schlueter

Friday, May 07, 2010

Mike Gunn's Response to Crosstalk and Ingrid Schlueter

Recently, the infamous Ingrid Schlueter got wind of our (Harambee) dialogue with a local Muslim community (MAPS) about "Who is Jesus?", and instead of calling us to speak to us she decided, along with many of her readers, to slander us on the internet calling us many names. I wrote a post on my response in regards to being called "dumb so-called Christians", "heretics", "a reprobate church", "denying Sola Scriptura", "Christian dupes", "den of thieves", "false teachers" and now, most recently, useless idiots. They say that this is just to warn others about what we are doing, although I am not sure how we are affecting them (like God needs to be defended?) nor did they ever actually call us or contact us to try and understand what the dialogue was all about.

Below, is Pastor Mike Gunn's full response to Ingrid's blog post and accusations. I want everyone to know my immense respect for Pastor Mike and how much he has taught me about the true understanding of the gospel and how it/we should interact with culture for the glory of God. If I were to give you a list of all the things he does locally and globally, and how much God has used him in ministering the word of God, it would sound like I was exagerrating and a little vain, since he is a friend of mine. Yesterday, we spent some time at lunch and spoke even more deeply about this subject of culture and the gospel (he has also written a book on the subject) and how much this type of attack does nothing but harm the gospel. This is why he felt it necessary to at least write a rebuttal of what was said, so that we could return to the most important part: The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Enjoy the post and ask any questions you might have.

Living In the World, But Not Of It!
By Pastor Michael Gunn

It saddens me that I have to write a rebuttal letter to those that have taken liberty to judge Harambee Church, Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 because Harambee hosted a forum for Muslims and Christians to get together to discuss the person of Jesus Christ from the two different perspectives.

First, I want to say that Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill nor Acts 29 had anything to do with this event. This event was born out of relationships and ministry in and among Muslims in the Seattle area. The fact is there are 30,000 Somali Muslims alone in the King County region, and there are 1.3 Billion Muslims in the world; many of who have never heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, it’s important to state that Harambee Church has always promulgated a clear, Christ-Centered gospel that is Reformed in its roots, and has never backed down from the hard theological entanglements that come with it. We have lost many people that do not agree with our theology, and our desire is not to “water down” the gospel so people will stay. These are major assumptions of our detractors. We do believe however that it is both prudent and biblical to preach a clear gospel that the people can understand. This tradition is taken from men like Peter, Paul and Jesus. When Paul was confronted with pagan believers in Athens (Acts 17), he departed from his normal strategy of “reasoning from the scriptures,” to utilizing pagan poetry to clearly communicate his message (Acts 17: 27-28). Gospel authors, such as John, used pagan terms, like logos, in redemptive ways in order to better explain Jesus to a pagan audience. The words the bible uses for God (Elohim/Theos) have pagan roots, yet they are redefined in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1: 1-3). Subsequently, using a biblical form of contextualization is true to the tradition of the biblical writers, and needed in order for the gospel to be understood by each subsequent generation and culture. Therefore using words like Allah (which is the Arabic word for God) is not any different than using the words Elohim or Theos. So many want to argue the fact that the root of Allah is from a moon god, whose name was Sin, but whose title was Al-Ilah (ie. Allah). While there are many linguists who would argue a different root for the name Allah, why does this matter? Our own Hebrew term for God is a plural, pagan term El – Elohim? Jesus’ words on the cross were “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, which is similar to Al-Ilah. Why is this an issue? If we were in Germany we would use “Gott,” which has its own pagan history, or if we were in Andra Pradesh India, we would be forced to use “Deywadu,” which is fraught with all kinds of pagan ideas. Yet, we would be forced to use these terms to communicate a clear understanding of the truth of the gospel. It is a biblical contextualization that takes these pagan terms and redeems them with the fuller truth of the gospel (See John 1:17).

Thirdly, it appears that many of those that hate Mark Driscoll and Acts 29, and decry dialogues, such as the one we hosted at Harambee, feel that if you aren’t immediately persecuted when you proclaim the truth of the “Good News” then you must not be preaching a true gospel. There’s an heir of self-righteousness that accompanies their assumptions, because not all of Jesus’ or Paul’s encounters with sinners and pagans ended in derision and persecution. In Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well (John 4), we see a somewhat muted story that the Holy Spirit uses for her conversion. While I believe Jesus was confrontive, it was done in a gracious manner, and was received well by the Samaritan woman. Jesus’ tact with the men on the road to Emmaus was explaining the story line from Moses, through the prophets to the present time, which is exactly what Mike Ly did when he explained the clear gospel of Jesus Christ to the non-believers who were present at the dialogue. But, it seems, that some think that the message of the gospel isn’t truly there unless persecution and hatred is the result. I believe Acts 17: 32-34 gives us insight into the reality when the clear gospel is heard clearly; “Some began to sneer, but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this’…but some men joined them and believed.” Isn’t this the goal? To tell you the truth, there were definitely men, at our dialogue, who “sneered” and some that got a bit testy during the panel at the end, because we answered every question very clearly, and biblically. However, we also believe that we won an audience with many Muslims that night that have emailed Michael and stated that they never heard a presentation about Jesus in this way. It was counter to their understanding, and they literally want to “hear us again concerning this.”

There is no doubt that persecution will be a result of the gospel. I personally have been screamed at, spit on and punched, but not every encounter of the gospel results in people hating you. Jesus Himself, “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). In order to cut through some cultural and political garbage, the gospel often needs to be heard well, many times. Our goal is to love our enemies, as we are clearly commanded in scripture, and to gain an ongoing relationship for the sake of the gospel, so we could:

“Speak forth the mystery of Christ…in order that we may make it clear in the way we ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were, with salt so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”

Colossians 4:3-6

Christ and Christ crucified will always be the central focus of the preaching here at Harambee, as it was that night in March, but our goal is to “season our speech” with the grace and love of Jesus, and then allow God to work in the hearts of the people regardless of the consequences to our own lives.

Fourthly, the claim that MAPS (The group we worked with) has ties to CAIR, which has Hamas ties is irrelevant. Jesus commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5: 43-44), and Paul exhorts us to “bless those who persecute you” (Romans 12:14). Even if all 150 Muslims in that room were Hamas (and that’s what I say is absurd, because they aren’t), so what! Aren’t we supposed to face our enemies, love them, and even bless them? Shouldn’t preaching to them Jesus be our goal? Aren’t we commanded to take the gospel to the “nations?” It seems as though many Christians are more interested in preserving their national identity than they are their identity in Christ. Their God has become a politically driven (Democrat/Republican, depending on which political side you choose), white American, which allows them to demonize those that don’t look and act like we do. Is that what Christianity has become? Isn’t our allegiance to Jesus, to live like Him, and not endorsing everything our political persuasion or our nation demands? Weren’t the early Christians persecuted (not for their message of the cross) for calling Jesus Lord, and not giving that title to the emperor? Yet, by all accounts, they lived exemplary lives and were loved by many in the culture.

So many comments in some of these blogs make claims that Muslims are the “antichrist,” thus justifying a lack of hospitality to over one billion people in this world. They use texts like 2 John 9-11 as their “proof text” for such a response. It amazes me that people who claim to be the guardians of the “truth,” can be so callous with the scriptures they claim to love. It was poor exegesis like this (not “Postmodern” relativity) that justified slavery and genocide by the church in the past. This verse has nothing to do with reaching non-believers and having them in your house, and it is contradicted by many actions of both Jesus and His disciples. This verse is speaking of false teachers within the church, not outside non-believers. Paul iterates a similar idea in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.

This kind of legalistic nonsense reminds me of a quote from Westminster Professor, Michael Horton who said,

Christians are supposed to be in the world but not of it, but the problem is many of them are of the world, but not in it.

Unfortunately, I find this all too true. While they wear a badge of separation, they act no differently than the world. They use human effort and methodology to effect change, political power, division, slander, and lack of love for all people, which seems to color their repertoire. They act as the older prodigal son, who bitterly opposed his father because of his own claims to the throne. It’s easy to vilify the “enemy” as antichrists when you see yourself as “righteous.” It is only when the gospel penetrates your heart and reveals the ugliness of your own righteousness, that are we able to act in grace toward others, as Christ has done to us.

Our intent for the Muslim dialogue was not to water down the gospel. As a matter of fact, the leader of MAPS told our pastor that we are the first church they have dealt with to present a gospel that is clearly contradictory to the Muslim idea of truth. But the aim of MAPS, and the reason they felt it was a “success,” was that we both could state those differences, with reverence and grace, and though we vehemently disagreed with one another, we will continue to discuss Jesus. We will continually work out our disagreements with love and respect for one another, and I just don’t see how that is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Jonspach said...

Fantastically well put by your Pastor.

Bryce L said...

I was really sad to hear Mike Gunn felt it necessary to respond to her. After reading it, I am really glad he did. The contrast is both blinding and beautiful.

Anonymous said...

This rings so true...

One can only assume the the "Cross" in "Crosstalk" refers to Ingrid's disposition and not to the Cross of Christ. This woman is no friend of Christ, he behavior has repeatedly shown this to be true, she would condemn God (Allah?) himself if he offended her sensibilities. She perceives herself and her alone to be the final judge of right and wrong and as such we can only conclude that she is her own god (in this case called "ingrid" from the pagan word for crabby lady).

I have always felt it is dangerous to be more sure of things than scripture itself is...and that Jesus as revealed in scripture is the final judge. As such Ingrid needs to be called to account for ignoring Jesus on many levels, not the least of which is Christ's call for unity centered in him found in John 17.

Of course she is also a coward who refuses to have open comments or answer her critics, she deserves no answer beyond my mind this woman is no different than the folks at Westboro Baptist. God needs no defense. Especially by a woman practicing Sola Ingridura....


kprochas said...

This is a very well thought out response from Mike Gunn to Ingrid Schlueter's polemic against the MAPS presentation. I'm not sure after listening to her article (there was an audio link) that I would go so far as to say that she expressed hatred for Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, or Acts 29 nor did she express hatred towards Rick Warren. What I heard was the usual US "Christian Right" politically motivated paranoid nonsense; doubting if someone is a Christian because they don’t follow the US “Christian Right” point of view of the world . Mike said it wouldn't have mattered if the room was full of Hamas but I say it wouldn't have mattered if the room was full of Al Qaeda freedom fighters; the message of the gospel IS to love all mankind regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc. and to present to all people the good news that our God (Allah, Gott, Deux, Deo, etc.) came to earth walked as a human being (God incarnate) and died for those that would believe in Him, i.e. the elect who frankly we don't have a clue who they are and include those who currently follow other religions or no religion). We need to keep our focus on our Lord (who is to be at the centre of our lives) and not the storm of the politics, opinions, fears etc. of this world in order to reach out to peoples that we are not familiar with and fall outside our comfort zones. So what if there were Muslims who viewed the MAPS presentation as an opportunity to witness Islam to Christians the important thing, as Mike G said, was to talk about our concept of Jesus (Isa) based upon the absolute truth of God’s gospel and hope that seeds would fall on fertile soil. Let us continue the discussion w/ our Muslim neighbours.

thehaikuman said...

Not only does Mike Gunn have an absolutely kick-a$$ name, he has a thoughtful mind and a big heart.

Thanks for sharing this and God bless.

Jeff Fuller said...

I think your Pastor just mended the disagreement I had with you over your approach to sharing the gospel with Muslims. I can now clearly see what was previously cloudy for me.

Also, your Pastor did a great job of doing what all so-called "discernment ministries" need to do... keep the gospel the main thing!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Gunn & Seth,
I cannot thank you enough for courageously speaking the truth in love, holding to your theology, and graciously entering in to community with those of Islamic faith. The example of your church is convicting to me, and God is using you. Thank you for being honest, but gentle in your response to this issue. It gives me gospel hope.

Anonymous said...

Just another reason that i love you Man, eloquent, persice, full of truth and love.

Anonymous said...

Sharing the gospel with Muslims is not necessarily "watering it down."

USA Today
September 18, 2009

Christians should have friendships with people of other faith, but engaging in other traditions' worship practices is problematic, said Mark Driscoll, lead preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll said that in this case, Christians and Muslims fast for different purposes and do not worship the same God.

Christians observing a Ramadan fast is "insane at best ... Sad, tragic, horrific, misguided, dangerous, wrong," Driscoll said. "If Christians want to pray during Ramadan, they should pray not with Muslims but for Muslims — that Muslims would come to know Jesus. To pray with Muslims absolutely dishonors Jesus."

-- Muslims find new Ramadan fast partners, USA Today, 9/18/2009

Donnytop5 said...

Oh a beautiful response.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much blogger. Ingrid
Schlueter has been out of control
for a decade now. Her attacks
have been most ungodly, and we can
only hope she will some day tire
of setting everyone else straight.

Anonymous said...

Ingrid Schlueter scares me. C.S. Lewis once made a quote that fits her efforts.......

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

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