A frontier mission strategist who worked among Muslims in the Philippines for ten years weighed in on the debate over the controversial Camel method of reaching Muslims, calling it “very useful.”
David Taylor (a pseudonym), senior editor of the Global Mission Database and author of Operation 10/40 Window, said the method is bearing “remarkable fruit all over the world.”
“Unfortunately some (mostly people with no field experience working with Muslims) don’t understand it, and are misrepresenting it,” Taylor told The Christian Post Tuesday.
He pointed to Acts 15 in the Bible, where Apostles Paul and Barnabas debated believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees about gentile believers needing to be circumcised. Taylor said both in the case of Acts 15 and in the Camel method, the Holy Spirit “led field missionaries to use a certain approach that minimizes misunderstanding with those they are trying to reach, and ultra-conservative people back at home get wind of it and try to stir up trouble for them.”
The Camel method uses a legend from Islam to introduce Jesus to Muslims. The legend says every good Muslim knows 99 names for Allah, but the 100th name was only revealed to the camel. Users of the method then say the 100th name is Jesus, or in Arabic “Isa.” Muslims are then pointed to verses in the Quran that shows Isa is holy, has power over death, and knows the path to heaven. Afterwards, the person sharing about Jesus connects the Islamic feast of sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, with God’s plan of salvation for mankind.
International Mission Board strategist Kevin Greeson developed the Camel method after working among Muslims for several years without success. The IMB is the mission arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest protestant denomination in the United States. Greeson says the method treats Muslims with respect while challenging them to confront their own sacred writings as a bridge to the Good News revealed in the Bible.
The method has proven to be very effective in engaging Muslims in a conversation about Jesus.
But recently, the president of Liberty Theological Seminary denounced the method as heretical. Dr. Ergun Caner, a former Muslim, in an interview with SBC Today blog said the God in the Bible and the Allah of the Quran have nothing in common. He said to suggest they do is “absolute, fundamental deception.”
“You can’t start an evangelistic enterprise based on deception,” Caner said. “I just can’t imagine that type of lying, and that’s exactly what I call it.”
Frontier mission strategist David Taylor, however, defends the Camel method, saying that it builds on what Islam already affirms about biblical truth, and uses that as a bridge to the Gospel.
“In our work with Muslims in the Philippines we found that those who used approaches like the Camel method saw disciple-making movements get started that continue to grow to this day,” Taylor said. “Those that did not, who lead with an antagonistic approach to the Quran and Islam, saw little or no lasting fruit.”
He added, “Generally speaking, the most effective way to reach Muslims is to keep the conversation going and let the Holy Spirit gradually begin to reveal truth to seekers.”
Taylor is the son of missionaries who worked in the Philippines and grew up listening to mission strategies on how to share the Good News with unreached people groups.
About 1.3 to 1.5 billion people, or about one-fifth of the world population, are Muslims.