Founded by Tela Tella in the 1970s,the sect predominantly exists in Lagos, Nigeria. Its followers recognize both the Bible and the Qur’an as holy texts, and practice “running deliverance,” a distinctive practice of spiritual running which members liken to Joshua’s army that took Jericho, or the Muslim practice of walking around the Ka’aba.
“Chrislam”, as the name suggests, is a growing movement wherein some Christians are seeking to find common ground with Muslims,” explains theologian Bill Muehlenberg of the doctrine that began in Nigeria in the 1980s. “Indeed, it actually seeks to combine Christianity with Islam.”
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Chrislam has gained significant momentum since the seed was planted nearly three decades ago. Earlier this year Christian communities in Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C, and other cities placed Qurans in church pews–right alongside Bibles–and preached about the Prophet Muhammad.
Chrislamists use similarities, such as the monotheistic elements of Christianity and Islam, to unite believers under a common banner. For example, Chrislam advocates point to the mention of Jesus 25 times in the Quran, as well as congruent teachings on morals and ethics. By identifying these supposed parallels, proponents believe they are drawing a spiritual sword to battle atheism and polytheism and solving a deadly conflict in the West.
Bible-believing Christians are rejecting the movement. Tim Forsthoff, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Highland, Mich., is one of many speaking out against it. “We are not brothers with those who reject Christ. We are not part of the family of God with those who deny the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” he stresses.
Some have criticized Chrislam, citing irreconcilable differences between its two component religions, Christianity and Islam. According to Stephen Ellis, who wrote the book, Movers and Shakers: Social Movements in Africa, the fusion of Christianity and Islam, says the religion is “rather exceptional and increasingly so.” According to Sidney M. Greenfield, who wrote the book, Reinventing Religions: Syncretism and Transformation in Africa and the Americas, Chrislam is a logical product of the Yoruba people because they want to be able to work out their own destiny. Because the people of Nigeria are struggling in all areas of life and Chrislam offers miracles and deliverance they see this as a good spiritual way to help them get through every day living.
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