From a missionary’s blog:
The Camel method sure is a hot topic right now!
I am amazed at how much heat it is generating in the blogosphere.
In the training we do for people we have reduced the original book down to two pages. One thing that Kevin says repeatedly that is often lost in the discussion is that the Camel is not a way to share the gospel–it is a way to start a conversation that can lead to a chance to share the gospel.
What we have taken from the Camel method is simply to say something like, “Hey, I have read parts of your book and I see it says some pretty amazing things about Jesus.” After a brief discussion on that point we say, “You know, your book doesn’t say a lot about Jesus, but the Gospels do. Would you like to read a copy?” Or we show the Jesus film.
Actually, the Camel as we use it is mostly a tool to encourage Christians that they can actually speak to Muslims. Most of them are terrified! So we show them how to start a conversation on spiritual matters. When they go out and try for the most part they forget all about the Camel and just share the gospel–but learning the Camel gave them the courage to go out.
I guess the biggest problem I’m having with critics of the Camel Method is that most of them fall into the stereotypical goober camp. “We cain’t let them there Moozlims think that their paygun Allah is the same as our Uhmerkin-Kritchin Jehovah Elvira Elohim Allah!” Some criticisms are not as easily dismissed. A much-credentialed Southwestern dean/professor wrote me yesterday:
“I am also very concerned not only with the strange eschatology and the even stranger evangelistic methodology at work in the International Mission Board. I have made my concerns known to the IMB and to Jerry Rankin himself. Unfortunately, the criticisms of a theologian are not considered ‘relevant’ in the same way that the inventions of a sociologically-driven missiologist are considered ‘relevant.'”
By the way, I e-mailed the church bulletin ad to a Muslim friend of mine (in the interest of seeing if he would be as offended as I was). He called this morning and would like to attend the Camel training session next Saturday. He promises to behave, but I told him I wanted to check with you first (he doesn’t yet know which church is hosting it). I’m not sure it would be a good idea as he is a pretty excitable fellow — what do you think? If you’d rather limit participation to interested Christians only, please help me find a nice way to tell him he’s not exactly welcome. One possibility: he is very enthusiastic about seeing an interfaith fellowship reestablished in Hot Springs…
PS — I also showed the ad to a Palestinian Christian friend. He was horrified and outraged. I am still waiting to hear from the seminarians in Lebanon (the same ones who collaborated on last year’s response to the rant “Can a Good Muslim be a Good American?”)…
PPS — There is an elderly gentleman in Bismarck who sells antique books (you may have seen his store just before you get to the traffic light). I’m not sure what kind of degree he has, but he wrote his University of Wyoming thesis 40 or 50 years ago on the subject of American missionaries in the Middle East during the 1800s, based on the letters they wrote back to our State Department (begging for help) after being thrown in jail for preaching on street corners. They were full of evangelical zeal but not much cultural understanding…