Answering the Purpose-Driven Mosque -- By: Ergun Mehmet Caner

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 20:1 (Fall 2002)
Article: Answering the Purpose-Driven Mosque
Author: Ergun Mehmet Caner


Answering the Purpose-Driven Mosque

Ergun Mehmet Caner

Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History
The Criswell College
Dallas, Texas 75246

On Sunday, September 16, 2001, the Islamic Society of Boston issued an open invitation to the Islamic Center of Cambridge, located between Harvard and MIT. We did not expect more than 100 people, but to our surprise more than 1,000 people came, among them the neighbors, the university lecturers, members of the clergy, and even the leaders of the priests from the nearby churches, who invited us to speak on Islam. All expressed solidarity with Muslims.... Of all the questions, not a single one attacked me; on the contrary, we saw [the people’s] eyes filling with tears when they heard about Islam and its sublime principles.. .. That same day, I was invited again to participate in a meeting in the church, and again I saw the same things. On Thursday, a delegation of 300 students and lecturers from Harvard visited the center of the Islamic Society of Boston, accompanied by the American Ambassador to Vienna. They sat on the floor of die mosque, which was filled to capacity. We explained to them the precepts of Islam, and defended it from any suspicions [promulgated in the media]. I again read to them from the verses of Allah, and their eyes filled with tears. The audience was moved, and many asked to participate in the weekly lessons for non-Muslims held by the Islamic Center.1

The author must begin with a deep and profound apology to Dr. Rick Warren. It is certain that when The Purpose-Driven Church2 first came out in 1995, he never imagined in his wildest dreams that the concept would be borrowed by cultures around the world. The movement headed by Dr. Warren has spawned an amazing industry throughout the Christian world, and has called Christian churches to be intentional in their approach to worship and ministry. Though the “purpose-driven model” is explicitly evangelical, such groups as the Mormons and other cults have adopted the methodology to enhance their methods of outreach.

Using the term “purpose driven” is not meant as a slight in any way to Dr. Warren. In fact, it may be considered a compliment, since the theory has ignited a revolution that has now spread into every venue of life. As Senior Pastor of the twenty-thousand-member Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange

County, California, Warren has influenced tens of thousands of pastors and church leaders during the last decade through his church growth seminars at Saddleback and as director of “Building a Purpose-Driven Church...

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