After three years, the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM) has completed its work. The 42nd General Assembly approved the recommendation to make “A Call to Faithful Witness, Part Two: Theology, Gospel Missions, and Insider Movements” available to presbyteries, sessions, and missions committees, and to recommend it for their study.
The initial segment of their report, “Part One — Like Father, Like Son: Divine Familial Language in the Bible Translation,” was recommended by the 40th General Assembly. By a narrow margin, the 41st General Assembly initially considered a minority report to the committee-recommended “Part Two.” But after extended debate regarding use of the Arabic term Allah (God) by Arabic Christians, the Assembly recommitted the report and all matters related to it to the committee.
An insider movement (IM) is when people from a non-Christian background — Muslim, for example —come to Christ, but remain relationally, culturally, and socially a part of the religious community of their birth.
Dr. David Garner, SCIM chairman, hopes that the Assembly’s recommendation will result in PCA presbyteries, churches, and missions committees graciously calling missionaries and missions organizations to proper accountability. Churches are already beginning this process, “One of the great roles our denomination can play is to help missions to be more fruitful and more biblically grounded,” he says. Garner also believes the report will encourage local churches to become more engaged with their missionaries. “It can provide the kind of connectedness our missionaries need with the churches that support them.”
The report can also equip missionaries with a biblical foundation. “Every one of us has need for growth in our understanding of Scripture,” Garner says. “My hope is that even missionaries who are not confronted with IM issues will go back to the great Reformed missiological thinking of [J.H.]Bavinck and others to help them flesh out a biblical orientation to missions.”
Garner points out that the commitments of the IM paradigm are present in other missiological approaches. “There is a cross-pollination of value that comes out of these materials to help pastors and missionaries become more self-conscious about a biblical and theological approach to their missiological method.”
He also believes the report applies to the church’s broader ministry. “I hope we begin to see again the sweet, compelling relevance of the historic Christian faith, the authority of Scripture, and the value of our creeds and confessions — for international, cross-cultural ministry — and in all the contexts in which we serve around the world. In our attempt to be creative, we must not unwittingly abandon those foundations.” Those foundations, Garner says, enable a biblically grounded creativity, one that enables us to reach so many who desperately need to know Jesus.
Click here to read the committee’s reports.