1. Insider Jesus: Theological Reflections on New Christian Movements
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    William A. Dyrness
    IVP Academic / 2016 / Trade Paperback
    Our Price$5.00 Retail Price$20.00 Save 75% ($15.00)
    5 out of 5 stars for Insider Jesus: Theological Reflections on New Christian Movements. View reviews of this product. 1 Reviews
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  1. Andy Le Peau
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Category-Breaking and Category-Making Book
    June 6, 2017
    Andy Le Peau
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    In the midst of the explosion of Christianity around the world, some strange and unusual expressions of faith are emerging.

    Adherents of other religions are following Jesus in great numberswhile remaining in the religious community they grew up in! Some Muslims believe in and follow Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) while continuing to go to their Mosque and practice Islam. Hindu and Sikh followers of Jesus meet in Yeshu Satsangs (Jesus Gatherings) while remaining in their religious communities.

    Some missionaries are very disturbed by these insider Christians, as they are called, fearing syncretism and suspecting these are cults. Others see this as a great movement of Gods Spirit. William Dyrness does not seek to make a judgment about particular controversial groups of believers so much as seek to give a theological basis for understanding what might be going on. This is what animates William Dyrnesss category-breaking and category-making book.

    If God is Lord of the whole earth, he asks, if God made every human, made humans for relationships with each other and with him, and if God is at work sustaining everywhere, if anything good has its origin in God, then isnt God involved in the full-orbed cultures of the world? And cant we and insiders find what is good and valuable in those contexts? As Dyrness says, God is everywhere active in such cultural processes, upholding the order of things, sustaining its processes, and seeking, wooing, and calling by the Spirit those who will worship him (p. 36).

    Many of us have a hard time seeing this because we are heirs of the Reformation which emphasized heart and mind over against embodied cultural practices. One downside of this (which modernist and Enlightenment tendencies intensified) is that religion has for many decades now been portrayed as something private, separate from the public sphere. Indeed, many contend that private religion should have no bearing on culture or society.

    Most of the rest of the world, however, sees no division of private and public, of religion and society. For them, it is not strange at all that religious leaders should guide public life.

    Because we Westerners already see religion and culture as separate spheres, we see no problem asking converts to leave their culture and side with Christianity. But that may in fact uproot them from what God has already been doing in them and in their cultures. We may be working against God instead of with him. If God is at work in the worlds cultures, and if our Western view is truncated, is it fair then to require others to reject completely their culture, family, traditions, and all sense of identity to become Christians?

    While I am sympathetic to the direction Dyrness is going, I think he unfairly makes the Reformation his main whipping boy. Certainly the Greek influence on the early centuries of the church is also key (though Dyrness mentions this belatedly on pp. 142-43). When Judaism had no creed except possibly for the very brief Shema, how else can we explain the proliferation of fixed summaries of belief from the Apostles Creed to Athanasius? The Reformation stood in the long tradition of the early church in this regard.

    Dyrness also could have strengthened his case by considering the story of Naaman who asked for and received forgiveness in advance from Elisha for continuing to go to the pagan temple on his return to Damascus (2 Kings 5). In addition, some of his more theoretical considerations could have been placed in an appendix.

    The book helpfully includes fascinating case studies from recent history and is full of many provocative questions. For example, were first-century Christians actually insiders within Judaism? Overall Dyrness raises significant implications about how we see our own culture and our own faith as well as Christianity around the world. As a result he has provided us with one of the most important and thought-provoking books of the year.
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