“The religious genius of India is the richest in the world,
the forms that it has taken have often been the most
extravagant, sometimes degrading and cruel. These
forms are falling away, or will fall away, but the spirit
persists and will be poured through other forms. As
that genius pours itself through Christian molds it will
enrich the collective expression of Christianity. But in
order to do that the Indian must remain Indian. He
must stand in the stream of India’s culture and life and
let the force of that stream go through his soul so that
the expression of his Christianity will be essentially
Eastern and not Western. . .
This does not mean that Indian Christianity will be
denied what is best in Western thought and life, for
when firmly planted on its own soil it can then lift its
antennae to the heavens and catch the voices of the
world. But it must be particular before it can be
universal. Only thus will it be creative – a voice, not an
E. Stanley Jones, “The Christ of the Indian Road” (1925)
• See also, Timothy Tennent, “Building Christianity on Indian
• Joseph Padinjarekara, “Christ in the Ancient Vedas”
Mission as Cargo,
What are we really about?
Jerald Whitehouse
April 7, 2012
Mission as Cargo
The Gospel
Sender missionary
Receiver –
Mission as
The Gospel understood in
Sender’s culture
Receiver’s culture
• A new fuel tanker arrives on site in Qatar.
• The newly appointed American manager tells the
Indian supervisor to ensure that the new tanker is
clearly labelled:
• “Diesel Fuel” in Arabic and “No Smoking” in Arabic.
• This is what he got ...
Mission as Transformation
God’s Story
new story
Our shared
Our new
Our Story
• “Our first task in approaching another people, another
culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the
place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find
ourselves treading on men’s dreams. More serious still, we
may forget that God was here before our arrival. We
have, then, to ask what is the authentic religious content
in the experience of the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist,
or whoever he may be. We may, if we have asked
humbly and respectfully, still reach the conclusion that our
brothers have started from a false premise and reached a
faulty conclusion. But we must not arrive at our judgment
from outside their religious situation. We have to try to sit
where they sit, to enter sympathetically into the pains and
griefs and joys of their history and see how those pains
and griefs and joys have determined the premises of their
argument. We have, in a word, to be ‘present’ with
them.” John V. Taylor, “The Primal Vision,” (1963), p. 10, 11 (in the
introduction by M.A.C. Warren)
God is there before the
“Outside the Jewish nation there were men who
foretold the appearance of a divine instructor. These
men were seeking for truth, and to them the Spirit of
Inspiration was imparted. One after another, like stars
in the darkened heavens, such teachers had arisen.
Their words of prophecy had kindled hope in the
hearts of thousands of the Gentile world.” DA 33
• “The light of God is ever shining amid the darkness of
heathenism. As these magi studied the starry heavens,
and sought to fathom the mystery hidden in their bright
paths, they beheld the glory of the Creator. Seeking
Clearer knowledge, they turned to the Hebrew Scriptures.
In their own land were treasured prophetic writings that
predicted the coming of a divine teacher. Balaam
belonged to the magicians, though at one time a
prophet of God; by the Holy Spirit he had foretold the
prosperity of Israel and the appearing of the Messiah; and
his prophecies had been handed down by tradition from
century to century. But in the Old Testament the Saviour’s
advent was more clearly revealed.” DA 59,60
The Light that enlightens
every man
• John 1:4,5,9 “The Word was the source of life, and
this life brought light to mankind. The light shines in
the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
. .This was the real light – the light that comes into
the world and shines on all mankind.”
• Romans 1:20 “Ever since God created the world, his
invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his
divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are
perceived in the things that God has made. So
those people have no excuse at all!”
Faith development takes
place in context
• It is far more effective to develop faith – the spiritual
life – in the local context, rather than import the
context of faith and invite them to join.
God’s list of “closed”
The Focus of
Mission is a
“Kingdom” Focus
You cannot enter the Kingdom of God
unless you are born again. Isa al Masih
(Jesus), Injil
Kingdom of God
+ Humility,
+ Love
+ Grace
+ Faith
relationship with
+ Born again
(new heart)
+ Forgiveness
+ Service
Who is Allah?
More specifically can “Allah” be considered a correct term to be
used to translate elohim or theos of scripture? This is an initial
question that is frequently raised in discussions of Islam.
• Christians have used the word Allah from pre-Islamic times until
today. It is the translation of elohim and theos used in all
Arabic translations of scripture and in religious speaking in the
Christian Arabic world.
• From the beginnings of contacts between Jews, Christians,
and Muslims there was use of Allah that enabled them to
enter into common discussion about biblical content and to
dialogue with one another.
• YHWH in the Arabic Bible is transliterated as yahwah or
translated as rabb (Lord), corresponding to the Jewish custom
of using adonai in place of saying the divine name.
Allah, cont.
• Allah has been used in Biblical translations in nearly all
languages used by Muslim communities in the Middle
East, Africa and most of Asia. The most obvious
exception would be the use of khoda in Persian. Swahili
retains the traditional name for the Supreme Being,
Mungu. In the Bangali translation, Ishwar, the Hindu
common word for the Supreme Being is used in the
traditional William Carey translation (1809). However,
the recent Muslim Bengali Common Language Bible
(2000) uses Allah.
• When Malaysia attempted to pass legislation forbidding
the use of Allah in non-Muslim publications or Bible
translations, Christian and other faith communities
objected since they have no other word to use in its
• Allah is the linguistic cognate of Elloh, Ellohim.
Three Abrahamic faith
• All three Abrahamic monotheistic religions claim to
worship one supreme being, the Creator of the
universe, Lord, Sustainer and attribute similar
characteristics of omniscience, omnipotence,
omnipresence. However, each of the monotheistic
faiths will describe characteristics of the supreme
being or certain roles and relationships differently.
However, this would be insufficient argument to
justify using different words for the supreme being.
As Kenneth Cragg notes:
• “We reduce everything to chaos if we suggest that
disparate predicates do not relate to the identical
‘subject’ to whom they are ascribed, as if there
could be, in truth, ‘gods many and lords many’
corresponding to all the confused concepts,
however, numerous and contradictory. Thus, the
answer to the vexed question, ‘Is the God of Islam
and the God of the Gospel the same?’ can only
rightly be ‘Yes!’ And ‘No!’ Yes, as the common
ground of all we say in partial unison: No, insofar as
our convictions diverge.” Kenneth Cragg,
Muhammad and the Christian, (London: Darton,
Longman and Todd, 1984, p. 124, quoted in
Thomas, Ibid.
• “All of these people use the same word ‘God’ to refer
to the same entity, yet they have different concepts of
who God is. The significance is this: One cannot
change a person’s concept of God merely by
changing the name he uses for God. Any name that
denotes God for someone will evoke that person’s
concept of God. What is required for
reconceptualization is new information about God that
will change the concept itself, and that is the task of
the Bible” Rick Brown, “Who is ‘Allah’?” International
Journal of Frontier Missions, 23:2 Summer 2006, p. 81
Allah, the moon god?
The accusation that Allah is the Arab Moon-god as proposed
by Robert Morey in his book The Moon-God: Allah In The
Archeology Of The Middle East, has been dealt with at some
length by M S M Saifullah, Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi and
Abdullah David and will not be covered here. In brief, Morey
simply plays fast and loose with the “archeological evidence”.
The noted article systematically reviews the archeological
examples and notes that there is simply no evidence to
support Morey’s position. “Reply to Robert Morey’s MoonGod Allah Myth: A Look at the Archaeological Evidence,”
“There is no inscription that identifies Allah as a moon god or
as a pagan deity. This contrasts with the Hebrew, Greek,
Latin, and English words for God, all of which descend from
words that were commonly used by pagans in reference to
pagan deities. So the name Allah is freer of pagan roots than
are these other names!” Rick Brown, Ibid
The missional bottom line
“As far as Islamic texts such as the Qur’an are concerned,
Allah is the same God as the God of the Jewish and Christian
scriptures. However this claim is viewed, contextualization
has to engage with the understanding of God that already
exists in the culture, no matter how dim, distorted or
incomplete individual Christians may believe that
understanding to be. Whilst this engagement will certainly
not be uncritical, wholesale rejection of all notions of ‘God’
found in the Islamic context will leave very little basis on
which to develop a contextualization. It is therefore
necessary to reserve expressing judgment on the ontology
behind the linguistic form, in order to avoid a complete
disjunction with the culture, and allow the possibility of some
bridge to communication of Biblical Christology existing. This
accords with Paul’s use of ό θεός to refer to the God who
made the world and everything in it, without implying any
identification with pagan gods such as Zeus.” Martin Parsons,
Unveiling God: Contextualizing Christology for Islamic
Culture, (William Carey Library: 2005), p. xxx.

Mission as Cargo, Communication or Transformation?