Insider Movements: An Assessment of the Viability of Retaining Socio-Religious Insider Identity in High-Religious Contexts
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SubjectMissions -- Theory.
Christianity and culture.
Christianity and other religions.
This dissertation examines Insider Movements, a missiological strategy where adherents of a high-religious system retain their socio-religious birth identity as a means of preventing extraction, thereby aiding the evangelistic and church planting task by keeping the social and family network intact. The strategy has produced a significant amount of controversy related to appropriate degrees of contextualization and the dangers of syncretism. The purpose of this dissertation is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an Insider approach, critique the theological and methodological elements of Insider Movements, and evaluate its ability to produce orthodox, Bible-believing, and Christ-exalting believers and churches. This dissertation takes the position that Insider methodology as currently articulated is biblically weak and methodologically unwise. Chapter 1 introduces a short history of the development of the Insider conversation, identifies the central problems surrounding the conversation, defines terminology, and outlines the trajectory of the study. Chapter 2 traces the development of Insider methodology in an attempt to present a clear and complete picture of the arguments raised by Insider proponents. The relationship of Insider Movements to People Movements and Church Planting Movements is investigated. This investigation is followed by an identification of the missiological problems in evangelism and church planting in high-religious contexts. The literature and conferences proposing the missiology that led to the C-Continuum are identified. Chapter 3 deals with the biblical and theological foundation of Insider methodology. Kraft's concept of revelation and the Bible as "God's inspired case-book" is proposed as an unstated presupposition of Insider methodology. Moreover, the theological concepts of fulfillment theology and the kingdom of God are identified as the central arguments supporting Insider methodology. Chapter 4 introduces the central missiological concepts supporting Insider strategy, starting with the model of critical contextualization and followed by a critical interaction with the central missiological proposals utilized in Insider strategy. Chapter 5 is an attempt to assess the "wait and see" proposal of Insider advocates through an historic case study of Sadrach Surapranata's community in central Java, Indonesia. In addition to providing an example for how one particular community developed in terms of identity, orthodoxy, and orthopraxy, a number of helpful lessons related to contextualization and missionary partnership are presented as balancing comments for the Insider conversation. The final chapter concludes with summary thoughts, proposals, and areas of future research and dialogue.