The Origins of the Insider Movement

I have recently published this article on the origins of Insider Movements in reference to an obscure document that I recently became aware of.

‘The 1938 Riggs Report on the “Near East Christian Council Inquiry on the Evangelization of Moslems”: an aborted beginning to the Insider Movement strategy’ in St Francis Magazine, Vol (2), April 2013.

Here is one section:

This is, in a nutshell, the Insider Movement strategy of mission to Muslims – not seeking to make Muslims into Christian, but Sunni [or Shi’a] Muslims into ‘followers-of-Jesus’ Muslims. Riggs explicitly points out that some other term than ‘Christian’ must be found and some other terminology must be developed’ (Part II, point 8). With updated spelling, some of the specific phrases used could be straight out of a contemporary journal article, as when he talks about, ‘believers who thus remain a part of their Moslem social-political group’ (Part II, point 11).

Read it all here, or at Scribd, or at

Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog ( or page for more information.

17 thoughts on “The Origins of the Insider Movement”

  1. Thanks for posting this Alex! How might one help Jesus-following Muslims overcome the revulsion felt by contemplation of the Incarnation? I know someone who questions whether it is necessary for Muslims to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus. Thoughts?

  2. Hello Scholiast, I presume you mean Muslim-background believer here, right? I mean, Muslims would never believe in the incarnation. With that assumption, rather than share my own opinion (which is Patristic and Anglican), let me tell you how I think my many ex-Muslim Christian friends would respond: It is absolutely necessary to believe in the incarnation, because it is the foundational sign of the love of God, and it is this loving and compassionate God who becomes like humans and suffers with humans, which is what Christianity has that Islam does not. In other words, I think they would say that without accepting the incarnation one cannot really say they have understood Jesus and his mission and message.

    1. Ha! Just saw your reply now. Sorry. Obviously the Incarnation is essential. So how do people help Muslims who are interested in Jesus reach a point where believing in the Incarnation is a realistic possibility? I have a friend who found the concept so difficult to broach with Muslims she seriously began to question its necessity; I disagree with her choice, so am curious to know what solutions people have found.

  3. FYI, the 1938 Riggs Report is Appendix 1 in the forthcoming book “Understanding Insider Movements” edited by Talman and Travis and published by William Carey (2013?).

    1. Well, I guess I’m too late for them to fn me, eh? Thanks for the heads-up though. Do they actually have real case studies of an IM that was purely indigenous and is more than anecdote? I have yet to find such a case study.

      1. In Understanding Insider Movements, Harley Talman has a chapter titled “Historical Development of Insider Approaches in Missiology” where he starts with the 1938 Riggs report and traces the subsequent discussion of it through The Moslem World in the 40s. He then continues reviewing key articles in the 60s and on concerning Insider methodology. But he starts with the Riggs report. I think they’re still revising the book, so maybe he could still reference you. You are the first to uncover it, in my experience.

        There are many case studies in the book from Insider movements that have been “observed.” I think many of them are in fact indigenous and have been previously published. See for example the 4th edition of Perspecives pg 706-7 “How One Insider Movement Began”, by Rick Brown.

  4. each time i used to read smaller posts which also clear
    their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I am
    reading now.

  5. Hi Duane. Long time…
    Not sure if this is interesting or relevant. I just looked at my doc version of the riggs report and it is dated June 2005. I remember I created it myself from a ocr of a poor quality photocopy that was circulating amongst and being discussed by my Frontiers friends in the Levant region. I spread my electronic copy widely too. When was the date you estimated the report to first come into wide circulation?

    1. Hi Jens, the report does appear to have been widely read early on, way back when it was produced. But as to the revival in its interest? I am guessing that is what you are talking about. I would say just a couple of years ago, around 2010. Why do you ask? I’m curious now…If you have any information to the contrary do let me know.

  6. …actually if I remember rightly. I had had this copy-of-a-copy for several years before transcribing it. I may be wrong but I think I may have had as early as 1998/9… You would have to confirm that with F people though… JB

  7. Why do I ask? Its just that when I skim-read your article I did not catch the date. But I got the impression you were meaning by “recently” around 2010 as you say. So just wanted to say that you need to revise that by at least 5 years – perhaps more.

    1. Hi Jens, I’m just saying that I published my article in St Francis Magazine recently. The links to the article are at the bottom and the article was published in 2013. Or maybe you and I are not talking about the same thing?

  8. Sorry to confuse things. My fault. My first comment should have had a colon after “relevant”. ie I was just adding a comment but was not sure if MY comment was relevant 🙂

    Also, the “recently” I was referring to was the second one, here “an obscure document that has recently come to light.” Again my apologies.

    So I was just saying Riggs’ report was being passed around and discussed in 2005 in the levant by many I know (and perhaps as early as 1998/9?). Thought you may be interested in that. I made a digital copy and so from at least 2005 I am not sure it was “obscure” or “rare” – at least not in my circles.

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