THE CHURCH OF COMMON GROUND
By Paul Proctor
December 12, 2004
“Today, most of the world’s unreached people live in an area called the 10/40 Window. These people are of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. The question we all have is, What do we need to do to reach these people? The answer? We have to find some common ground.” – Rick Leatherwood
Rick Leatherwood is a “Christian missionary” and the president of Kairos International, an organization whose stated mission, according to their web site is:
“To improve the relationships between Muslims and Christians...By creating forums and resources, that will foster mutual respect; And enable us all to live more fully, the truth as revealed by God in the Holy Scriptures.”
Now I ask you: Is the call of a Christian missionary to “improve the relationships between Muslims and Christians?” Of course not! The great commission, as given by Christ and recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, is:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)
So, the obvious question is: Why on earth would Rick Leatherwood, a Christian missionary, make “improving the relationships between Muslims and Christians” his organization’s mission statement? You see, that is the goal of the United Nations, not the church of Jesus Christ.
Nothing I have witnessed in my Christian experience has distorted, distracted, devalued, disrupted, deterred and derailed the preaching of repentance and faith in Christ more than this “new evangelical” obsession with relationships. It is a humanistic gospel with a counterfeit Christ that promotes compromise and consensus, downplays absolutes and obedience and exalts people as if WE somehow deserve honor and praise in our affections toward one another. In short, it is idolatry.
“There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord. If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life.“ – Oswald Chambers
In spite of Rick Leatherwood’s “evangelical” assertion, searching for “common ground” is neither a biblical concept nor a new idea. It is an old transformational Marxist strategy made popular by men like Antonio Gramsci and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, designed to “win friends and influence people” toward the socialist cause of world order. Jesus never pursued common ground as a way to “reach” people and neither did His disciples. They did not need pragmatism because they trusted in the power of God.
Searching for common ground is one of the favorite shortcuts being preached and practiced by many in the church today who DO NOT HAVE and WILL NOT SURRENDER TO the sovereignty and authority of God and His Word. These are the sorts of schemes and scams that are formulated and forwarded by church growth gurus and marketing experts who do not believe God nor take Him at His word; and are just the kind of contraptions confused Christians readily run to when Jesus isn’t enough to get the results they envision. So, instead of preaching repentance and risking rejection or worse, they go about looking for all kinds of creative ways to widen the gate that leads to eternal life and make evangelism easier.
To Preach or to Reach?
“Reach” is one of those ambiguous and multi-purpose words that mean different things to different people; and when misused, can be very deceiving to the Body of Christ and therefore very destructive. When well intentioned, mission minded folks hear “reach” used in a Christian context or setting, they instantly assume it means a conversion to Christ; and when stirred emotionally under controlled conditions, will likely do WHATEVER IT TAKES to support and promote the ones using it.
They fail to understand that there are those among us masquerading as missionaries who embrace a social gospel that vaguely resembles biblical Christianity and promotes, through hyper-emotionalism, a few similar ideals, like unity, peace, health, harmony and brotherly love while minimizing or dismissing altogether the more exclusive and offensive aspects of the Christian faith that the world at large will never accept.
Humanists also use the word “reach,” but with an entirely different agenda; and by simply employing the same terminology Christians use, they are often able to co-opt the church into socialist ventures here and abroad and gain access to not only generous funding but also many enthusiastic volunteers; and it is those volunteers from YOUR church that add to the legitimacy of their endeavors and help frame a facade that not only facilitates spiritual chicanery but also protects the wily wolves within.
If someone is actually “reached” for Christ it will be because the Holy Spirit has supernaturally convicted them of sin and brought them into repentance and faith, not because you or I have somehow managed to manipulate them into a conversion experience through OUR relationship. Our job as Christians is not to “reach” but to preach: “Christ crucified.” It is a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that the lost are in dire need of, not a relationship with you and me; and, as long as we emphasize the latter, the former will remain secondary and be of little or no value to them; which is why there is nothing in scripture about the disciples ever preaching or practicing what we call “friendship evangelism.”
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” – 2nd Timothy 4:1-4
When we busy ourselves trying to “reach” someone for Christ, we focus on results and relationships rather than the Word of God; and in our pride, impatience and misguided zeal, cease to trust Him with the outcome and end up compromising the commands of scripture with all sorts of ecclesiastical gadgets and gimmicks in a do-it-yourself, any-way-you-can, it-all-depends-on-me effort to convert the unconvicted by artificial means. As many of you know, there are quite a few folks around that practice this kind of "evangelism."
Rick Leatherwood is one such fellow. He believes Christians can “reach” Muslims by finding common ground through the book of Proverbs; telling them it contains the wisdom of Allah, which of course, is utter blasphemy.
Dialectic: “The process in Hegelian and Marxist thought in which two apparently opposed ideas, the thesis and antithesis, become combined in a unified whole, the synthesis.” – Encarta World English Dictionary
Jesus Christ is not the Son of Allah. And, if your evangelism or mission effort begins by trying to pass Allah off as God, I don’t care how many so-called “converts” you might claim; you are preaching heresy – end of story.
Allah is a pagan moon god that was worshiped alongside many other false gods long before Mohammed or Islam ever came into being. Regardless of what Mr. Leatherwood tells his audience and associates; Allah IS NOT another name for the God of the Bible. The Lord is VERY PARTICULAR about the names we use for Him; and nowhere in scripture is He ever referred to as “Allah.”
Here is just a sample of the synthetic theology Rick Leatherwood promotes from an article he authored entitled: “Snowflakes: The Common Ground of God’s Wisdom”
“So by sharing God’s wisdom with Muslims, we are helping them come to understand the true character and nature of Allah (Please know that Allah is simply the Arabic word for God, a word used by Arab Christians 600 years before Islam). While Arab Christians know the true character of Allah, most Arab Muslims do not…So the cross is not the place to begin when reaching out to the people of Islam. We begin by establishing common ground through the wisdom of God in Proverbs and, like the snow softening the earth in Isaiah’s prophecy, the wisdom of Allah is allowed to prepare their hearts for the love of Allah. And so the common ground of God’s wisdom begins to create openings where there were none! Using Proverbs in this way is something new. Some mission leaders are ready, and already moving in new creative ways. But others are still stuck in conventional patterns of ministry that have failed far more than they have succeeded in the past.”
Someone needs to inform Mr. Leatherwood that God measures our success by our obedience, not our numbers. And, whether he knows it or not; while claiming to convert Muslims into Christians overseas using “new and creative” methods, he is actually converting Christians here in America into the acceptance of Allah as God and, in the process, advancing the occult agenda of a one-world religion and a kingdom on earth where all gods and beliefs are considered equally valid.
That’s just what the dialectic does. It always begins on common ground with an overemphasis on relationships and results in relativism, accomplishing the reverse of its advertised agenda.
You see, I have a personal interest in alerting my readers to the errant teaching of Rick Leatherwood. He recently gained the audience and respect of a dear friend of mine and somehow managed to win him over with this dialectic notion of Allah being God; and much to my dismay, persuaded him to spread that leaven to many others who trust his counsel; and so I write to warn you and yours because that is what a watchman does.
Spiritual success and Christian unity are never achieved or sustained at the expense of truth; and the day may come when we are each tested to see if God’s Word is more important to us than results and relationships. The fall of man occurred in Eden over an unhealthy interest in results and relationships. Eve reached out for the forbidden to obtain gratifying results rather than trusting and obeying the Word of God. Adam chose to follow her in order to save their relationship. My prayer is that we will let their terrible failure serve as an admonition to always put God's Word first, even at the risk of forfeiting results and relationships.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – Proverbs 27:6
© 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
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Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
In spite of Rick Leatherwood’s “evangelical” assertion, searching for “common ground” is neither a biblical concept nor a new idea. It is an old transformational Marxist strategy made popular by men like Antonio Gramsci...