Global Missiology English, Vol 1, No 12 (2014)

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

The Jerusalem Council & the Insider Movement Paradigm

Doug Coleman


Some advocates of the Insider Movement paradigm (IMP)  suggest we are witnessing something like a modern-day Acts 15, a shift in God’s activity resulting in unprecedented spread of the gospel, particularly among Muslims. The importance of Acts 15 for IMP proponents is evident in several ways. First, IMP proponents originally labeled an early meeting discussing this approach as a “Second Jerusalem Council,”  obviously a clear indication of its importance for the IMP. Second, the sheer volume of appeals which IMP advocates make to this so-called precedent reinforces its significance.  Third, the line of reasoning IMP advocates draw from the Acts 15 council appears regularly in pro-IMP literature. According to these proponents, the council’s decision meant that “Gentile believers were not required to join the Jewish community, attend synagogue services, become circumcised, change their names, or maintain the ritual cleanliness prescribed by the Law.”  To state it slightly differently, the council agreed “that non-Jews did not have to ‘go through’ Judaism to enter the Kingdom of God.”  Likewise, Muslims today are not required to “go through” Christianity in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Perhaps the best succinct illustration of the significance of Acts 15 is a personal anecdote shared by John Travis, a leading IMP proponent:

For the past decade, my family and I have lived in a close-knit Muslim neighborhood in Asia. My daughter, who loves our neighbors dearly, asked one day, “Daddy, can a Muslim go to heaven?” I responded with an Acts 15:11-type “yes”: If a Muslim has accepted Isa (Jesus) the Messiah as Savior and Lord, he or she is saved, just as we are. We affirmed that people are saved by faith in Christ, not by religious affiliation. Muslim followers of Christ (i.e. “C5 believers”. . .) are our brothers and sisters in the Lord, even though they do not “change religions.”