Sunday, June 19, 2011

For Love or Glory?

This Sunday was Trinity Sunday and I preached on Acts 20:13-38, Paul's address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus. I highlighted the Trinitarian thought undergirding Paul's message and talked about how the two breeds of wolves that we know came into the New Testament church were Judaizers and Nicolaitans. We know that the Judaizers were legalists and the Nicolaitans were libertines. We also have some evidence that the Judaizers became the Ebionites, a Jewish/Christian Unitarian heresy which denies the divinity of the Son. With an explanation that I'm not going to reproduce here, I asserted, and tried to demonstrate that legalism flows from unitarian heresy and libertinism flows from tritheistic heresy.

Then moving into the necessity of Trinity for grace (three persons) and for kingdom obedience (one divine nature/substance) I moved into the meaning of our salvation, being drawn into the life of God (also called entering the family of God) and mentioned that God did not create us out of any need for fellowship (we call this divine self-sufficiency). God created us out of an overflow of the love present in the life of the Trinity itself (thank you Augustine!). By the way, if you want to hear this sermon on the Trinity, you can find it here.

One of the more careful thinkers in our congregation sent me this question. "I had always thought of creation's purpose is to give glory to God. They way I took your statement it seemed to imply that the purpose of creation is to serve as a receptacle of God's love. I wanted to find out if I understood you correctly. Also, if I did understand you I was wondering if you could share some scripture references that teach this doctrine." A great question!

My short response is this:

The short answer is that I don't believe that we can separate God's being motivated by his love and his being motivated by his glory. Since God IS love (1 john 4:16), then an aspect of his glory is his love - just like an aspect of his glory is his holiness, which is also part of what it means for him to be love. When we talk of the "attributes of God," we always have to do so in a way which honors the "simplicity" of God - he is not divisible. This is exactly what the Westminster Confession speaks of when it says that God is "without parts." (WCF 2.1) Not keeping that in view can cause us to play his attributes against one another or diminish one in order to emphasize another. There is no conflict between his creating out of his love and his creating for his own glory. The two are aspects of a single purpose.

God creates us for his own glory - Isaiah 43:7. But Psalm 136 also celebrates his love made manifest in creation with line after line of emphasis that God's creation is a manifestation of his love.

Psalm 107 celebrates God's love which motivates his saving work by ascribing work after work to his love, which is a way of saying that ALL of God's saving acts are motivated by love. But Psalm 50:15 ascribes God's deliverance to, in effect, seeking his own glory. Which is it? It's both. God seeking his glory and God seeking to love are the same thing, seen in two slightly different ways. This is why, in my imperfect sermon on the Trinity (and I truly mean imperfect), I segued into the purpose of God in saving and the law of God in saving. In his love he saves us to being glory to himself because the most loving thing he can do for us is to cause us to glorify him by saving us. Saving us glorifies God.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

GA Photos Online

There are several hundred official pictures of the 2011 PCA General Assembly online here. This one is of me speaking in favor of a Study Committee on Insider Movements.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Denominational Accountability and the PCA

I made a comment on the blog Johannes Weslianus concerning Dr. Bryan Chapell's membership on the Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA, reflecting that it represented a problem with accountability in our denomination. A brother gave me a well-stated and kindly challenge on my comment and I explained my concerns in more detail as follows:


I don't think that Bryan Chapell is ill-intentioned by any means. As far as I know he is a godly guy. I am simply pointing out that denominations in our age tend to fall through their seminaries. If anyone thinks that age is over, they should cast an eye towards Erskine and the ARP. Dr. Chapell's position on the SJC violates both the principle of layered accountability and the principle of separation of responsibility.

Since seminaries are a danger point for a denomination, what does it mean for him to be on the SJC? Well, does anyone think that if he were to fail to deal with a professor as the president that he would be vigorous on the SJC? Accountability doesn't mean much when everyone's well-intentioned and responsible, it's meant to provide protection when people are NOT well intentioned or responsible.

So if Dr. Chapell were NOT doing his job well, then someone would catch it. Except in this case all the people dealing with the problem would either be the one who was asleep at the switch or part of the problem (Chapell) or people who had very close relationships with the guy who was either asleep at the switch or telling them "everything's" fine (the rest of the SJC). It's just a really bad idea.

Accountability means that there's some kind of system or structure to catch things is there's ever a problem. I don't have a half-glass office door because my elders don't trust me, I do it for accountability.

If you want another PCA example, look over at MTW. Dr. Kooistra serves as the coordinator (CEO) and his brother serves as CFO. In accounting, this is called "an issue of deficiency in control." To compound that, I understand that the Permanent Committee on MTW operates with a much smaller Executive Committee which makes the key decisions. Roger Kooistra is on that Committee, which increases his influence and power within the organization.

Now, I am confident that Dr. and Mr. Kooistras (did I say that right?) have the absolute best of intentions. But accountability is not about intentions, it's about wisdom and the acknowledgement that the best men are still sinners.

Does anyone else find it uncomfortable that the Strategic Planning and old PPLN process was dominated by Committee Heads (otherwise known as the best paid denominational employees) and their closest allies and that said process resulted in less functional power for the Committees of Commissioners (otherwise known as the accountability structure for the Permanent Committees)? Nobody sold it like that. It was for "efficiency" and "encouragement of ruling elder attendance." But if we cut all of the talking points away, the employees of the denomination spearheaded an effort which resulted in their oversight structures being less powerful.

Did they do it for bad intentions? Probably not. Is it a good idea? Not at all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Call to a Faithful Witness - The Text of the Assembly Action Against "Insider Movements"

Here is the text to the resolution passed by the PCA General Assembly:

A Call To Faithful Witness

Approved By The 39th General Assembly
Of The Presbyterian Church In America
June 10, 2011

Whereas; the Church is called to take the gospel to all peoples, including those who have historically been resistant to the gospel;

Whereas; contextualizing the language and forms of the gospel, while remaining faithful to the truths of Scripture, is good and necessary for the advancement of the gospel;

Whereas; the Church must exercise wisdom in discerning appropriate expressions of contextualization, reserving its public corrections for genuine and substantive threats to the gospel;

Whereas; in recent initiatives known as “Insider Movements”, some groups have produced Bible translations that have replaced references to Jesus as “Son” (huios) with terms such as “Messiah” in order to be more acceptable to Muslims;

Whereas; some Bible translations of Insider Movements have replaced references to God as “Father” (pater) with terms such as “Guardian” and “Lord”;

Whereas; these Bible translations are harmful to the doctrines of the authority of Scripture and the deity of Christ, bringing confusion to people in need of Christ—concerns that are held by many national leaders and Bible societies;

Whereas; some PCA churches have knowingly or unknowingly financially supported these Bible translations;

Whereas; Muslims should not be denied a full and faithful witness;

Therefore be it resolved that the 39th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America:

• Affirms that biblical motivations of all those who seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard or responded to the gospel should be encouraged;

• Repents of complacency or comfort that keep us from a faithful witness;

• Declares as unfaithful to God’s revealed Word, Insider Movement or any other translations of the Bible that remove from the text references to God as “Father” (pater) or Jesus as “Son” (huios), because such removals compromise doctrines of the Trinity, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Scripture;

• Encourages PCA congregations to assess whether the missionaries and agencies they support use or promote Bible translations that remove familial language in reference to persons of the Trinity, and if so, to pursue correction, and failing that, to withdraw their support;

• Encourages PCA congregations to support biblically sound and appropriately contextualized efforts to see Christ’s Church established among resistant peoples;

• Calls PCA churches and agencies to collaborate with each other and the broader Church to discern and implement biblical authority in gospel contextualization.

• Authorizes the Moderator, as an aid to greater gospel faithfulness throughout the PCA and the broader Church, to appoint a study committee to report to the 40th General Assembly concerning Insider Movements, including but not limited to:
o A summary and biblical assessment of Insider Movements’ history, philosophies, and practices;
o A biblical response to interpretations of Scripture used in defense of Insider Movements;
o An examination of the theological impact of removing familial language for the Trinity from Bible translations;
o An assessment of PCA missions partners regarding the influence of Insider Movement within them, including assessment of their theology of religion, ecclesiology, Scripture, and relationship to the Emergent Church;
o An explanation of the relevance and importance of this issue for the PCA;
o Suggestions for identifying and assessing the influence of Insider Movements among mission agencies, missionaries and organizations;
o Recommended resources for faithfully training and equipping congregations to reach Muslims locally and internationally.

• Set the budget for the study committee at $15,000/year and that funds be derived from gifts to the AC designated for that purpose.


The Committee is convinced this critical issue for the global church strikes at the vitals of religion. However, the lack of sufficient analytical, biblical, and theological resources from a Reformed perspective, compels us to ask for a study committee to produce a cogent report for our churches.

Monday, June 13, 2011

We're the Other Kind of Presbyterians

When someone asks you about Presbyterianism, show them this video and then say, "We're the other kind of Presbyterians." So thankful for my denomination. At our General Assembly, we opened with a psalm, a hymn, and a stirring sermon calling us to faithfulness by Harry Reeder.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Insider Study Committee Passes Overwhelmingly

This picture has nothing to do with the Insider Movement Study Committee

The MTW Committee of Commissioners brought a revised motion back to the floor of General Assembly on Friday morning, recommending (with MTW) that the Assembly condemn "Insider Translations" which remove references to God as "Father" and Jesus as the "Son of God." They also (against the wishes of MTW) revived Potomac Presbytery's suggestion to create a study committee. Dr. Paul Kooistra spoke against the study committee, saying it was unnecessary.

Dr. Kooistra's speech against the study committee proposal did not seem as polished as usual. He is a very gifted communicator and effective leader. But I think he lost people on a couple of points. He admitted that MTW had not produced any materials for churches (not that it was their job to do so). He told the Assembly that MTW had been aware of the issue for seven years. When asked by a sympathetic commissioner what MTW's response had been and what materials were available, Dr. Kooistra said that Scott Seaton (author of the overture calling for the study committee) had first made MTW aware of the issue and that "an article that has been helpful to me has been 'Five Problems with Insider Movements'."

One brother speaking against the study committee said that pastors could just study for themselves. The chairman of MTW's Permanent Committee said that such a committee would need a theologian, exegete, missiologist and Muslim background believer on it. Opponents of the motion seemed to be saying that the issue was too hard for a study committee, but easy enough for a pastor to read up on.

Scott Seaton, former MTW missionary, spoke of the vital gospel issues being raised. Travis Hutchinson testified to his unsuccessful efforts to get materials from MTW and the unique gifts of the PCA in examining such an issue. Finally, Bill Nikides, visibly shaken by the issue, spoke of his interviews with over 200 "Insider Christians," and the reality of baptized Christians leaving the church for the mosque with the encouragement of Western missionaries.

The overture passed strongly on the first vote and overwhelmingly on the second. Praise God.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

And Being Nice Ends...

The Committee of Commissioners on MTW (CoC MTW), whose responsibility it is to provide representational supervision to the Permanent Committee on MTW, overwhelmingly voted to restore the Potomac Presbytery's language in their overture which called for the General Assembly to erect a Study Committee on Insider Movements. This is perhaps the most important theological issue for the evangelical church in our time and most of our churches and churchmen are largely ignorant of the issue.

When the CoC MTW presented its report, the chairman of the Permanent Committee moved that the section of the CoC report dealing with the Study Committee was out of order, effectively seeking to wipe it off of the Assembly's business without debate. The chairman found the chairman's motion in order and a commissioner from the floor challenged the ruling of the moderator. The commissioner challenging the chair admitted that the chair was probably technically correct, as was Dr. David Coffin, the perennial procedural watchdog who weighed in supporting the moderator. But, the commissioner said, this was a issue wherein the letter of the law was being used to kill debate on an issue of vital importance.

The Assembly almost overturned the Moderator's ruling - very unusual since the commissioner argued that Moderator was in fact right.

With the issue now headed to the dustbin for the next year, another commissioner moved to recommit the item back to the CoC MTW to fix the technical problem with their resolution. An explanation here is in order. The CoC on MTW was RESTORING the language of the Potomac Presbytery. But they formatted it wrong and it was considered "new business", which it wasn't, and it was ruled out of order without debate.

Another commissioner moved to recommit the business to the CoC MTW so that the Committee could "fix" the formatting errors and bring it back to the Assembly. This was certainly a brotherly solution to the problem. The Chairman of the Permanent Committee immediately spoke against the motion to recommit.

While this all may sound confusing, it isn't that hard to understand. The Potomac Presbytery gave an Overture to the General Assembly expecting (or at least hoping) that the Assembly would get to vote on their whole Overture. The Permanent Committee is a small group of men who necessarily function in very close relationship with Dr. Paul Kooistra. The Permanent Committee, together with Dr. Kooistra decided that a Study Committee was not the best way to deal with the issue (and there's NO disagreement that the denomination should stand against radical Movements) and deleted it from Potomac's motion. The Committee of Commissioners, which is a large body of men appointed from their presbyteries to oversee the work of the Permanent Committee restored the Study Committee to the Overture so that the whole Assembly could debate it and vote on it.

The Assembly overwhelmingly voted to allow the CoC MTW to fix the formatting problems and bring their concerns and motion to the floor for open debate.

Please pray that the men of the Assembly will judge these matters on biblical principles and be led by the Spirit in love.

Assembly Continues Without Rancor - So Far

The Assembly Floor is somewhat sparse as numerous non-contentious reports are presented.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wycliff Bible Translators comes out in support of "Insider Translations" but not quite

Wycliffe, the Presbyterian church of Bangladesh, and other organizations have sent communications to the General Assembly regarding the use of "Insider Translations" and the involvement of the PCA in Insider Movements in the world. These communications were ruled out of order, partially out of concerns that this precedent would open the floodgates of lobbying by outside organizations and parties.

One commissioner noted that the purpose of a Study Committee would be to solicit opinions and information from such parties (indeed!) but another commissioner, Bill Nikides (an expert on world missions), noted that some of the communications come from Reformed denominations addressing missions work by the PCA in the Islamic would. Scott Seaton, former missionary and currently a pastor in Potomac Presbytery, noted that the information is directly related to matters before the Assembly.

Even though the material was found out of order, much of it was already in the hands of the commissioners. Maybe we get to have our cake (not set a bad precedent) and eat it too (get to read the information anyway).

Wycliffe submitted a detailed response to the motion condemning "Insider Translations," basically arguing that there is a difference between the Insider Movement and accepted contextualization in translation. This is probably fair enough in a theoretical sense, and likely opponents of the Insider Movement have been hyper-sensitive at times to attempts to contextualize the message of Scripture appropriately. But . . . I strongly suspect this is not as cut and dried as they are claiming and I bet there ARE Insiders seeking to influence Bible translations.

Wycliffe's claim that Muslims are offended by the idea that Jesus came from a sexual union between Mary and God and are not at all offended by the Bible's claim that Jesus is God in the flesh is completely untrue. While there may be some Muslims who completely misunderstand the claims of the Incarnation, very few thinking Muslims who have read the Bible would think this. What they are offended by is the Bible's claim that Jesus is God. Wycliffe is clouding the issue and people should ask why.

Is this not why we need a study committee?

More Truth Comes Out

The Aquila Report reveals that the "emperor has no clothes" so to speak. Clements writes:

Dr. Kooistra was invited to explain CMTW’s recommendation of removal of the study committee from the overture. MTW had issued a statement saying that a committee was unnecessary given the fact that MTW was already equipped to assist churches deal with insider movement issues. Upon further questioning, Dr. Kooistra said that the statement did not originate from him and was not strictly accurate. Further questions determined that materials available through MTW were very minimal and included much material that was written by insider movement advocates.

Is this really the best that we can do? With the wonderful Study Reports that the PCA has produced on Creation and Marriage should we not produce one on the most important theological issue of our time? Should we not bring to the table some of our wonderful theologians, missiologists, Islam experts and missionaries and produce a report that MTW and our churches can use in thinking through these vitally important issues?

Read the entire Aquila Report article here.

Note: Dr. Kooistra is not the "emperor" here, the idea that MTW has produced all of the needed materials on Insider Movements is.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


With the Assembly Internet currently down I'm correcting a post from earlier today. A friend who is one of the Former Insider experts at MTW asked me to correct my statement that he claimed that MTW didn't have any studies on the Insider Movement. He said that Dr. Kooistra states that he has three articles on the Movement. I initially thought that meant Mr. Kooistra has WRITTEN three articles, but it turns out that he simply HAS three articles, presumably for distribution to interested parties. Maybe this is the material that MTW "has available to the churches to help evaluate Insider Movements"?

All of this seems a far cry from level of study and evaluation most pastors would expect from our denomination concerning the most important theological/missiological issue of our time...

Insider Movement Introduction

A month or so ago a good friend circulated some material (long) on Insider Movements to his extensive email list. One of his recipients is a Christian journalist, of whom many of you would be familiar. He is a deeply committed Christian and is involved with reporting on the Islamic world, missions and Christian persecution.

He didn't know what the Insider Movement was and humbly asked that someone pare it down for him. This highlighted for me two things: First, the general ignorance that Christians have to this issue and second, the need for simple explanations.

Here is the email I sent back through the list. My only real claim to being a good person to write this is that I'm pretty much a novice and so if you are too, this may help you.

[Name Omitted],

I never saw a reply to your question, so I thought I’d send a quick summary (tho I am assuredly not the person to do it). Maybe this answer will at least be simple, but probably not nuanced.

The email concerns something which is huge in the missions world, but largely unknown in the rest of Christendom, the subject of “Insider Movements.” Basically, it is the idea that people can become followers of Jesus without leaving Islam. Since the Koran mentions Jesus (as “Isa”) and since there are strains of Islam that emphasize Jesus’ return, this seems plausible to some. The thinking is that the “insiders”, who don’t leave Islam and are not baptized, are kind of like Jews in the first century that placed their faith in Jesus but kept practicing Judaism.

The theological problem is that it makes baptism and the visible church optional and tends to accept Mohammed as a prophet and the Koran as a true revelation of God. Socially, it begs the question whether these believers will be able to hold onto their odd Christiano-Islamic beliefs without being “corrected” by all of the orthodox Muslims they are spending their time with. Missionally, many conservative missiologists are claiming that the “insider movement” is actually plundering the visible church rather than converting Muslims. Denominationally, some people (more informed or misinformed than I) claim that there are people associated with the PCA who are either sympathetic to Insider Christianity or are working with people who are sympathetic to it. The idea seems to be that by passing a resolution condemning Insider Movements as unbiblical, we’d be guarding the truth in a very fragile mission field.

I’d be happy to send any interested people articles on Insider Movements written by conservative and orthodox reformed missiologists explaining these issues without all of my mistakes. I’m sorry for any misrepresentations in this email!

Grace and Peace,

Travis Hutchinson

The Study Committee passes through committee: Praise!

Praise God that the overture to erect a study committee on Insider Movements passed out of the Committee of Commissioners (CoC) on Mission to the World this evening. The CoC reversed the Committee on MTW which struck the proposal from the Overture because they claimed that MTW had already done the studies and had materials ready to assist churches in evaluating Insider Movements. The problem with MTW's opposition to the study committee is that a) MTW seems to not be responding to requests from churches for the material (see below); b) at least one former MTW Islam specialist is claiming that comprehensive studies don't exist; c) since this is a missiological heresy would we not want people outside of MTW doing some of the work so as to give accountability and oversight to MTW?

This news means that the overture will hit the floor of General Assembly intact and the commissioners we get to vote on the study committee as the main motion.

It is entirely possible that MTW just saw this as an unnecessary action because MTW has already decided against Insider Movements. Now they may shrug their shoulders and let the Assembly decide. If they, and their representatives, fight this one hard from the floor, however, it will leave many people wondering what possible dog they have in the hunt? What would motivate them to oppose it? The natural answer would be stewardship - the denomination doesn't need to spend the money. But since Paul Kooistra hasn't gone on record opposing ByFaith Magazine or the CE&P Bookstore, calls for stewardship would ring pretty hollow.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Unanswered Letter to MTW re Insider Movements

Here's what I wrote to MTW almost a month ago. Remember (see below) that they claim that they have done studies on Insider Movements (for description of heresy, see posts below) and these studies are available to the churches. I wrote MTW on May 9. No response yet.

Subject: Insider Movements Information Needed
Date: May 9, 2011
Sent to:


I received an email from Paul Gilchrist about “Insider Movements” in missions work to Muslims in Islamic contexts. I was wondering if you could send me any material MTW has on Insider Movements. I’ve heard that there’s an overture coming to GA which asks for a study committee and I wonder if you guys have already done that work. Thanks so much!

TE Travis Hutchinson
Highlands Presbyterian
Tennessee Valley Presbytery

Saturday, June 4, 2011

MTW has puzzling opposition to Study Committee on Insider Movements

On May 9 of this year the Committee on MTW passed a resolution recommending to the GA that it PASS the overture condemning "Insider" Bible translations but STRIKE the language calling for a study committee. The rationale is, in their own words, "MTW has conducted extensive research and has numerous resources and tools available to
assist local churches in evaluating insider movements."

What is the "Insider Movement"? Well, in some forms, it's bad, bad, bad... It's heresy, and we're not talking about paedocommunion heresy or Federal Vision heresy (which don't really fit the category of heresy) - it's completely give up the Gospel heresy and destroy the Church in the Islamic World, straight from the Pit of Hell heresy. Insider Movements tell Muslims that they can be good Muslims and believe in Jesus. They don't have to join a church, reject Mohammed, or get baptized. All they have to do is believe in Jesus. Brothers and sisters, since Islam is a religion created explicitly to reject Judaism and Christianity, that would be like saying that you can be a Christian and a Satanist (except you'd do a LOT less harm to others as a Satanist).

What my missiologist friends are telling me is that the Insider Movement, rather than adding to the number of Christians, is growing by luring Christians out of churches! There are also rumblings that MTW has been less than vigorous in dealing with this in the mission field. Now, Paul Kooistra (head of MTW) has apparently rejected Insider theology without reservation and written a short article or two about it. The problem is that there are Insider experts who are criticizing MTW's manner of dealing with this issue.

Do we really need a denominational study committee on this? Here are some reasons why we MUST have a study committee.

1) While they are claiming that they have material available to the churches, I wrote them as a pastor of a church asking for it and got no response. People I know who are "in the know" say that there's nothing they have besides an article or two by Dr. Kooistra. Maybe they have more, but they aren't giving them to the churches.

2) Since there's some rumbling about the cleanliness of MTW's hands in all of this, it would be most proper for people outside of MTW to deal with this. Not that MTW is always concerned about proper accountability and being beyond reproach in appearances. This is the agency which has Dr. Kooistra's brother as CFO (Dr. Kooistra controls the organization and his brother controls the money). My wife is a CPA and she doesn't have ANYTHING to do with the church finances because of the possible appearance of impropriety. It is important with money, but even more with the accurate teaching of the Gospel.

3) This is THE most significant theological issue since inerrancy. Do we wish to be asleep at the switch when this train comes bursting out of the tunnel?

Friday, June 3, 2011

GA 2011 Virginia Beach

Well, next week is the PCA General Assembly. I'll be blogging during the Assembly (GA) again; I hope more than last year - it'll keep me from speaking as much. This year's GA is in Virginia Beach - nice. The best deal my assistant could find was a beachfront cabin near the Assembly. [[Turns out, beachfront is not so beachfront. 10 minutes from the beach.] Life is hard.

Here are some initial impressions on the issues for this year:

1) Funding of the Administrative Committee - Last year's debate centered on AC funding and the vision for our denomination. The supporters of the AC were able to push the plan through, very painfully. The rancor left a bad taste in everyone's mouths and it got voted down resoundingly in the Presbyteries. I have no idea why the members of the AC thought is was appropriate for our denominational employees to come up with a plan to force us to give money for their initiatives and salaries and then decide how to punish or "forgive" individual churches. Aren't we supposed to be telling them what to do and not vice versa?

2) Vision for the PCA - The "powers that be," who for good and ill got us where we are today and consist mostly of middle-aged white guys, are going to continue to "lead us" in adopting strategies to reach racial and ethnic minorities, young people and the poor. They will be largely opposed by pastors who work with racial and ethnic minorities, young people and the poor. Since the pastors who matter most are the ones who pastor the largest and wealthiest churches, the wealthy pastors and their friends in the AC and other denominational agencies (which they control), they will likely continue to take the lead in fixing the problems which they have both identified and created. We all hope that this year they actually use data in examining the problems and Scripture in looking for solutions.

3) Heresy in Missions - The "Insider Movement," which is a missiological strategy for reaching Muslims by telling them they do not have to leave Islam, join a church or get baptized, has been a hot topic for discussion in mission circles. One presbytery has submitted an overture condemning an Insider Bible Translation and calling for a study committee.

I have been told by a reliable source that Mission to the World (MTW), our denominational mission board, supports the condemnation of the translation but not the study committee because they have already studied the issue. Don't take my secondhand report as gospel, but if it is true (which will be revealed on the floor, most likely) there are several troubling things to consider. [Update: On May 9, the Committee on MTW passed a resolution making minor editorial changes to the motion on the translation and striking the erection of a study committee. The language is troubling indeed: "Rationale for Omitting the Study Committee MTW has conducted extensive research and has numerous resources and tools available to assist local churches in evaluating insider movements."

First, one of MTW's experts on Insider Movements left MTW in frustration over the issue, dissatisfied over MTW's handling of Insider situations in the field.

Second, I contacted MTW weeks ago for copies of their "studies" on the issue and have never received any response. Do any actual studies exist? Their former expert says "no."

Third, Dr. Paul Kooistra is a godly man and an effective administrator and fund raiser, but he's no theologian or missiologist. With the most important controversy in missions now brewing, we need to bring in the big guns in scholarship and missions. And, since a study committee would examine our denomination's involvement with Insider Movements, it would warn us or clear MTW of any problems. But if MTW is doing all of the examination, the fox is watching the henhouse.

Of course this is a common failing in our denomination, witness the placement of Bryan Chapell (the head of our seminary) on the Standing Judicial Committee. Denominations almost always fall by way of the seminaries, so why would you put the head of the seminary on the commission whose purpose it is to provide judicial oversight over the seminary? In the PCA it doesn't matter, because they're all Good People - until they're not.