Discussion Topic

Is our goal to evangelize our Muslim friends? Or is to promote social justice, community cohesion and peace? There isn't an easy answer except to enter into relationships with a spirit of honesty and authenticity. 

March 20, 2017 3 20 comments
Discussion Topic

….in Christianity Jesus came to save us…in Islam, one must save the reputation of Muhammad and Allah...

Nonie Darwish, a former Muslim, discusses her newly released book “Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values” here.

Darwish, an American-Egyptian,...

March 17, 2017 0 0 comments
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       In 1932, Frank Hugh Foster penned an article entitled “Is Islam a Christian Heresy?” He set out to prove the affirmative by making his case by showing the affinities of Christianity and Islam. That same year, in the journal, The Moslem World, another author, D.S. Margoulith...

February 10, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Hugh Fitzgerald, drew up a list of 38 questions about Islam. I wonder how the readers of The Network would answer these questions and what resources they would use to answer them. 

February 3, 2017 0 0 comments
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In comparing Sura 19 of the Quran with Luke 2, we see the difference between Jesus being born as a mere man and Jesus being born as the Son of God—the long awaited Messiah.

December 23, 2016 2 0 comments
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In the December 2016 edition of Themelios, Fred Farrokh reflects on the Islamic theological reasons 'Why Muslims are Not Moving Toward Christians.'

December 8, 2016 0 0 comments
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At a recent conference, one of the attendees reported on a trip to a local mosque. There the imam told the group, “As Muslims, we agree with 90% of what you Christians believe, except for the 10% part about who Jesus is.” Is this imam telling the truth?

 

A comparison of worldviews...

November 7, 2016 0 0 comments
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In his book, Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today, David J. Hesselgrave observed the missiological landscape with trends that had emerged in North America and many that were exported out. He noted a tendency to package methods, franchise them, and then declare them...

November 2, 2016 0 0 comments
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The missionary Phil Parshall reported on a Baul Sufi ceremony in Bangladesh and these were the words that he heard:

 "Forgive me, O God, of all my sins and look at me, your servant for all time. I am a poor creature who has gone astray but now I seek forgiveness from you, the Savior and...

October 11, 2016 0 0 comments
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Convergence thinking effectively says, "It is possible and positive to blend together the best of any and all religions in order to come to the truth of a super-religion." Sometimes divergent is better than convergent.

September 28, 2016 0 1 comments
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The latest issue of 'Dabiq' issued by the Islamic State is not for the faint of heart, but it provides valuable insights into such subjects as:

how it views Christians how it views what it sees as the decadence and secularism of the West, and its address to Christians in the article: "Why we...
August 1, 2016 0 0 comments
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In talking with Christians who are sponsoring Muslim refugees, I sense that they are sensitive to not using coercion in their witness. But sometimes they are also holding back from a robust witness. 

August 1, 2016 5 2 comments
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In an interview concerning his latest book, Answering Jihad, Nabeel Qureshi (a convert to Christianity), details the change of his own thinking from being convinced that his religion was a religion of peace, to thinking otherwise. The interview is here. 

In an earlier video series at...

July 7, 2016 0 0 comments
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As more and more Christians rub shoulders with their Muslim neighbors, one cannot but help but ask about what might motivate Christians to bear witness to them to the fact that Jesus is Lord. Is it guilt, fear, the threat of hell, or something else? Let us examine a few options and conclude that...

June 9, 2016 0 0 comments
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In an article in the book Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning edited by Ernst J. Grube, James Dickie, Oleg Grabar, and Eleanor Sims (Oct 1995), James Dickie, a convert to Islam, describes the focus and interconnectedness of all Muslims as they face Mecca. His...

June 1, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

In a recent blog piece, Nathan Lewis who is a Reformed pastor in Beaverton, Oregon, sketches out how he and his church interact with people of many religious expressions, including Islam. In order to promote dialog, Lewis has adapted the idea of meetings for mutual understanding and has run with...

May 27, 2016 0 0 comments
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David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics

David Wood is Christian apologist who had a dramatic conversion to Christ while serving jail time for the attempted murder of his father. Wood speaks about his journey from atheism and nihilism to Christ in this video clip. Wood's long journey and keen...

April 18, 2016 1 0 comments
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In this piece we will examine two ways that a Muslim, who otherwise completely lacks the assurance of Jesus' words "Today you will be with me in paradise" seeks to gain this assurance.

March 23, 2016 0 0 comments
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            Two recent videos, one from a Yazidi woman and one from two Muslimas living in Al-Raqqah, the ISIS capital in northern Syria demonstrate the realities of life for women. The earlier video of December 15/2015  [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxHg34DK5_Y...

March 16, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Legacy Muslim Ministry Conference June 23-24 in Grand Rapids ...Salvation Revealed, God's Surprise to the Nations...Isaiah 65:1-3

March 9, 2016 0 1 comments
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Likely you have heard this phrase in the news and you might wonder what it means.

February 13, 2016 0 1 comments
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When the Apostle Paul traveled around Athens before his encounter at the Areopagus in Acts 17, it is said that "he carefully scrutinized the objects of their worship." That is to say, he did not come into town with Gospel guns blazing with no idea about who he was talking to, or what they really...

January 15, 2016 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (an ex-Muslim) explains why the war of ideas is best fought with the pen and a bit more. In both a recent Wall Street Journal article and in a television show, the author of the recent book "Heretic" which follows her past books entitled "Nomad" and "Infidel" suggests that even...

November 24, 2015 0 0 comments
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Two people are at a Bible study. One asserts that Islam is a religion of peace and cites: there is no compulsion in religion, to me my religion and to you yours, and if you kill one person it is like kiling all of humanity. The other asserts that the verses of the sword tell Muslims to "kill...

November 19, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

In a highly nuanced article, the British author Alistair Roberts touches on the need of the church to reach out to the weak and disadvantaged but also be cautions against kneejerk emotional judgments.

November 18, 2015 0 0 comments

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Hello Greg,

I appreciate your posing this "dilemma."  This tension, as I have come to understand it, comes from misunderstandings I have had.  Maybe somewhat like my misunderstanding about the spelling of "dilemma," which I--and I think many others—always thought was d-i-l-e-m-n-a.

My limited experience with Muslim people has come through volunteering to help in resettlement of Iraqi refugee families who have become very good friends, frequently welcoming me into their homes even for the 'breaking of the fast' feast during Ramadan.  However, I have been interacting in various ways with Mormon people for over forty years in a variety of settings, including structured dialog.  While there are many big differences, Muslims and Mormons have certain things in common--different scriptures, a revered founding prophet, Abrahamic ancestry, and high respect for an historic Jesus.  These elements, especially the last two, provide a uniqueness in our response to the Great Commission as we relate to Mormons, and I would think. Muslims also.  In my experience, dialog becomes the best context for an evangelistic witness to Jesus.

One misunderstanding that I have had, is to feel that somehow I had to prove Mormonism (or Islam) wrong before there would be any openness to my explanation of the truth.   This approach was almost always met defensively, and the intent of the interaction became winning an argument and making sure I got the last word.  On the other hand if I actively listen to their perspective, without thinking about what my rebuttal might be and even being open to learning something valuable from their experience, defenses are reduced and an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect--and "love of neighbor"--is fostered.  In that context a reasoned account of my understanding and faith in Jesus can be presented much more directly, and I find it is heard in a way that is much more likely understood in the way I intended it.

A second and related misunderstanding is to feel my role is to convert.  And if that does not happen, either I failed or this person is unreachable, and so the best thing to do is not “waste” more time relating to this person, but move on to someone else and try again.  But is this what Jesus really commissioned and commanded us to do?  I have found it most liberating to leave the converting role to the Holy Spirit, and simply find ways to build and enjoy loving relationships and look for opportunities to relate what a loving relationship with Jesus is and can be.

Then one more misunderstanding, the one implied in your raising the question:  With dialogue “there seems to be a spirit of compromise that also doesn't seem right.”  I suppose one might say giving a Muslim an audience to proclaim his faith is an admission of his faith being a legitimate alternative to Christianity.  Two comments:  I have not felt that I was making, or even understood to be making, such an admission, but rather giving a respectful acknowledgement of what is important to that person, and a genuine interest in understanding him or her more fully.  Also, in the process I gain insight into the hopes and fears he has in his search for meaning, with which I likely identify, at least in part.  This can lead to “deeper dialog,” and becomes a bridge to further conversation about what Jesus offers, something both Mormons and Muslims (I have met) are quite ready to discuss.  The goal of the dialog then becomes a mutual desire to know Jesus more fully.

There are 5 strategies: 1. Understand Islam accurately (no need for Islamaphobia) 2. Make local churches healthier and become disciples of Christ in all areas of life and live as salt and light in society 3. Embrace increasing foreigners in Korea with love and care. If not, then they will turn to Islam. 4. Increase the rate of faith transfer from older generation to younger generation instead of losing the youth into secularism/consumerism/pluralism. 5. Evangelize the Muslims intentionally unlike the Europeans and Americans who without reservation accepted Muslim immigrants last 100 years, now facing unprecedented crisis everywhere (home grown terrorists from extreme Muslims, etc). 

Thanks for sharing that Paul. Very eye opening. As a Korean that must be very sad and frustrating. I lament with you. I pray that the Korean churches will ramp up their outreach and focus on Muslims. I suspect that they will also have to find ways to co-exist with Muslims in ways that bear witness to Christ in every day life. We have talked briefly in the past - but what kinds of strategies does the Korean Church have to prepare for this change and to equip themselves for outreach to Muslims?

Thanks, Greg. 

Let me share with you and all about the growth of Islam in Korea. 

See the picture first: http://www.churchheresy.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=197 

1. Reasons for the growth of Islam: There are many, but these are major ones. Low birth rate among the Korean population as people enjoy wealthy lifestyle. Low labor force population in the lower class jobs. Super aging population as people live longer with better health. Islam (Middle East) world's intentional strategy to grow Islam in Korea as a strategic and fertile location for East Asia region to reach out to Japan and China. 

2. In Arab League News on July 11, 1988, there was an article about Korea. "100 years ago, there was no Christians in Korea. But now Christian population is about 25%. It shows an amazing growth of Christian population. Korean people must be very religious. There are only 30,000 Muslims in Korea now, but within a few decades, Korea will become a Muslim country." 

3. As to the Muslim population, the growth is like this: In 1970, 3,700 people. In 1980, 22,000 people. In 2009, 70,000 people. In 2016 (last year), the unofficial number of Muslims in Korea has reached 400,000 Muslims! Everyone who read the Arab League News in 1980 thought it was a non-sense then. Now everybody thinks it has become a reality to grapple with. Leaders of Korea estimate that by 2050, Muslim population will reach 4 million people. Currently South Korea has 50 million population. It is nearly 10%. By that time, Christian (Protestant) population will be less than Muslim population. As Muslims become "majority" in Korea, they will show their true face to establish Sharia law. They will take advantage of Korean culture and technology to reach out to Japan and China. 

4. Muslim nations use Oil money for investment, scholarships for students, Mosque building projects, International marriage (big reward of $65,000) for a Muslim man who gets married to a Korean woman, as their strategies. Muslim wives are expected to give birth to many more children than Korean women, which is their century old strategy to be dominant population. 

5. When I was working in Korea at a Christian University 5 years ago, there was a news article about Seoul National University where a Muslim student who wanted to go out of the classroom to pray during the prayer time yet scolded or prohibited to do so by her professor mobilized other Muslim students to threaten that professor by emails and phone calls and etc as a revenge. Seoul National University (best in the country) was under a lot of pressure from the Muslim nations' embassies to have an accommodating school policy for the Muslim students in return for significant grants to the university. 

6. Japan and China are much more difficult to penetrate into the society due to the strong government's policy, but Korea is much more lenient toward Islam, they realized. Thus they chose Korea. Also they know the potential of the Korean population in sending over 20,000 missionaries all over the world. The strong religiosity of the Korean people is what they are taking advantage of. It is so sad and frustrating! I don't want to see what Islam did to Turkey (by conquering Constantinople in 1453) happen in South Korea!

Paul - I just posted an article on Muslims in Europe converting to Christianity and reviving the churches there - so that is encouraging. I would be interested to know about Islam in Korea and if it is increasing - if you have info about that please share it (or email me). I think it is important to point out that Muslims still comprise only 1% of the US population (higher in Canada) so we are a long way from the US becoming a Muslim country. On the other hand, we shouldn't be complacent in our outreach to Muslims. The challenge, according to a recent Christianity Today article, is that many evangelicals do not have Muslim friends (nor do they want to).

Thanks Craig. My comments come from observing a wide variety of Christians across the theological spectrum. I agree with you. I am also cognizant that our Muslim friends are just as eager to see us adopt their faith - so being honest about this is a good start. I am not sure if this would true for other kinds of dialogues with different faith traditions but it is true for sure with Muslim-Christian dialogue.

Sounds like a healthy approach. Thanks Bonnie.

Hi Craig, 

I appreciate your comments. I do agree with you 100%. I watched a documentary about a former Baptist Christian in Texas last night who got converted to be a Muslim just prior to becoming a baptist preacher... He and his wife are openly sharing with their neighbors and friends about the "true religion" of Islam with a hope that some day American would become a strong Muslim country. They believe that if USA becomes a Muslim country, then this world will become much more peaceful world. Having studied the history of Islam expansion last 14 centuries, I know no ethnic groups that used to be Muslim becoming Christian ethnic group, but I know TONS of the opposite realities. Islam is the FASTEST growing religion in the USA. They (the Texan White Muslims) were thankful to Allah to spread Islam all over the USA after 9.11. He was thankful specifically about 9.11 because after that, many ignorant white people became curious about Islam and in the process of learning more about Islam, they realized about the beauty of Islam and they got converted. I am sad about this trend and movement. I am deeply concerned about this reality of rising Islam religion in Korea (it's growing by leaps and bounds as well) and in North America. 

I appreciate you raising this question, Greg.  I think it's timely.  I also appreciate your conclusion.

I confess a rather strong negative reaction to the idea that wanting to evangelize Muslims (or anyone) contains some kind of objectionable hidden agenda.  How could there be anything objectionable about wanting others to come to know the hope of Jesus Christ and therefore being vigilant for opportunities to share that hope with them?  If we really believe the gospel, what more loving desire could we possibly have for someone?  Even in formal / structured settings, my hope would be that we have the desire to be as winsome as we can in whatever ways we can for the sake of drawing others to Christ.

I want to insist that there's no need to hold the Great Commandment and the Great Commission "in tension."  I can't see how they contain any opposing elements.  One of the most important ways in which we love our neighbours is by making disciples of Jesus.

I think at least part of the answer about balancing evangelism and dialog lies in authentic relationship, being willing to be open and vulnerable with others. If I'm open with others, and Christ is in me, then others will see Christ there as I'm honest and open with who I am. We are called to BE witnesses; it's something we are not something we do. Although even that is a false dichotomy because our words and actions also come from who we are. We need to live as authentic Christians in the world, wherever God has called us. If we did that better, I believe we would see the Lord use us to draw others to himself. What if we truly loved our neighbor as we love ourselves? Can we even imagine it? The context of authentic relationship seems to me to be a valuable tool in God's hand. Cultivating those relationships, for their own sake is important. It's like working the soil so that it can perhaps be ready for any seed that might be sown (remember from the parable how important the soil is; preparing the soil is critically important in providing the right environment for the seed to sprout and grow). One might sow while another reaps, but it's God that does the real work. Spending time with others around areas of common concern is a great way to build genuine relationships. Justice and community issues provide a great opportunity. I loved working in the field of domestic and sexual violence, something I'm passionate about, with others who are not Christian. I often felt a greater camaraderie and fellowship with others in those circles than I did in some of my Christian contexts. They shared my passion; and I was also free to share in the intersection of Christ and his Church. We are called to love our neighbors, whoever they are, empowered by the Holy Spirit, who will guide each step.

Thanks for your comment, Roger. But as a Christian, I don't know why the agenda should be "hidden." We are called to be followers of Christ. Christ commanded us to spread the gospel all over the world, including our neighbors. Being a friend is wonderful. We need to do that. But having a hope for our Muslim neighbor to become a Christ-follower to be saved (as those suicide Muslim terrorists won't go to Muslim version of heaven although that's what they believe) is even greater. That hope should not be hidden agenda. It should be our agenda. Paul said that he became to all men to win as many as possible. His goal was not hidden at all, I don't think. 

Sounds like a dilemma to me.  Do we evangelize or dialog?  Which side do we err on?  You mention that this concern is raised in the structured setting of formal conversation rather than informal dialog.  But then you ask, is our goal to evangelize our Muslim friends?  That sounds less than the formal setting.

If the conversation is formal with a goal of reaching agreement on social justice, community cohesion and peace, why would evangelization (talk of Christ’s saving benefits) even be brought into the conversation?  That would incite division immediately.  It would be seen as a Christian attempt to push the Christian religion as the religious answer to social justice or community peace.  If the Muslim party involved in this dialog attempted to promote their religion as the answer to social injustice, you as a Christian would, no doubt, be insulted, as well.  Most people don’t see religion as the answer to social and community needs.

As to personal relationships, I’d say, be careful.  The only religion that is attractive to another is one’s own religion (a general principle).  Just as the gospel is foolishness to those outside of Christianity, so the gospel of the Islamic religion is foolishness to those outside of Islamic circles.  Test for yourself.  What gospel outside of Christianity do you find to be attractive?  Probably none.  And those outside of Christian circles don’t really want to hear about the Christian faith.  It is “foolishness” as Paul says.  So if any of these responders came close to a good approach to a Muslim, I’d say Bill Harris comes closest.  As a Christian, be a friend with no hidden agenda.  If there comes a time in which your Muslim neighbor wants to talk religion, let them ask.  Otherwise, just be a caring friend.  And you and your friend will likely both be richer for the relationship.

Yes, amen. Thanks Bill. If more people would make friends with Muslims I think many people would feel more positively about this group of people. Friendships break down all kinds of barriers, dispel misconceptions that many of us hold (and I am sure that this also applies to Muslim about Christians). The dilemma is that it is hard to get people to befriend a group that they are suspicious of or hold negative views of. So it is a Catch -22 senario. But I do agree that serving on neighborhood committees, PTA, volunteering - these are all good ways to connect with people who hold other world views. This can be a very stretching experience but necessary in an increasingly pluralistic world.

Thanks Michael for your words of wisdom. I think that you are right in that we are not dealing with a binary situation - evangelism versus social justice. It is more of a continuum with redemption through the cross and resurrection of Jesus as the focal point. Without that it is all rather pointless. Perhaps some are reacting to a more aggressive approach to evangelism (proselytizing) that puts so much emphasis on conversion that the individual in question becomes a target and a box to check - as opposed to a more Reformed approach involving a Kingdom perspective involving all of life - and that allegiance to King Jesus is a critical part of that. I think Kingdom living and "lifestyle evangelism" is synonymous and so we are on the same page.

Thanks Paul for sharing your global experiences of interacting with the church in different contexts. Much of what you relate is on the minds of people in North America and I have heard it expressed quite often. In the US there is the travel ban and in Canada M-103 to study Islamophobia. There is a lot of fear of Islam in our churches, mainly due to ISIS and other terrorist groups. Students of history also warn us of what can happen when Islam is in the majority. For example, the book The Lost History of Christianity speaks of the decimation of the church in the east. On the other hand, many Muslims feel very threatened in our society today - and I believe our first reaction should be to welcome the stranger and extend a cup of water (or coffee) to our Muslim neighbors. So while not downplaying the threat to democracy of any authoritarian idealogy - I want to emphasize neighborly love and welcome - respecting the other as an image bearer and making sure their rights are protected. All this I also hope will be a powerful witness and open doors to sharing the Gospel.

Thanks for the practical example Michael. Doug Kindschi talks about thin dialogue and thick dialogue. If I understand the concept right, thin dialogue is thinking that we are basically the same.  Thick dialogue is representing our faith deeply and well as you said.

Our interfaith dialog group has openly addressed Greg's question a number of times.   

I have been in a situation where I felt some participants in a dialog group wanted to show that we Christians and Muslims were basically the same.  Neither I nor the Muslims in our group wanted to go down that road.  It isn't fun to be "evangelized" in a dialog group; it made me feel unsafe.  

We do urge everyone to represent their religion deeply and well.  Our group dialogues have led me to dig more deeply into our tradition and find ways to express it in understandable language.  This has really helped me grow!  

Is the Muslim neighbor first a "Muslim" or is she my neighbor? It seems the jump to twin ministry options is a sort of false dichotomy. The more basic way, that pioneered by InterVarsity, is that of good old friendship evangelism (see Rebecca Piper's Out of the Saltshaker & Into The World). The command to do good to all certainly applies, as does Peter's word about us always being ready to give an account for the hope that it is us. That's not the hope of some evangelism program, but the hope of a shared life. The division between evangelism and social justice likewise misses all the occasions where our lives do intertwine, volunteering say, serving together on school's PTA, etc. These are the places where we get to know other lives, and in doing so can hear their joys and their struggles, and if we have ears, their need. 

 

So my word is, let's make a friend. 

I’m wondering if the tension we sometimes feel is because we tend to believe that we can separate the gospel from justice and peace; or that we can actually have true shalom and love without Holy Spirit-fueled redemption. Isn’t that the message of the gospel: that love and peace and justice can finally break into the world because our sin is crucified and through faith we are becoming the righteousness of God? Obviously, this is a primary argument. There are all sorts of secondary issues when dealing with people and culture. Jesus didn’t just preach and die – he grew up and walked and ate and drank and lived and laughed with the sinners he came to save. “Lifestyle evangelism” (as some call it) is right on the money, precisely because living the witness of the Kingdom day-in and day-out is not a program; it’s an abundant life with our God which is shared with neighbors. So, I’m guessing Jesus didn’t feel a lot of tension between evangelism and promoting social justice.

As to the original paragraph of the article, evangelism only seems to be a hidden agenda if you believe you have to hide Christ to truly have peace. On the other hand, if redemption is the greatest step toward true peace and justice, why would you hide Christ? The answer to the question seems to depend on how you see peace and justice realized on earth. If the victory of God over sin can come without the Son of God, then put him away and be done with him.

HI Greg, 

Thank you for your post. Let me offer some of my responses here. 

About 6 years ago, when I was still working in South Korea at a Christian University, there was a public festival where a number of different organizations set up their booths and advertise their organizations, one of which was Islam of Korea. So I visited there and asked about some "recent" violence caused by the Muslims around the world. The president of the group strongly emphasized that Islam is a religion of peace, that Islam never teaches people to do violent things against any other people in any religion. We all know that it is not true. It hasn't been true since the birth of Islam. As I visit the Central Asian countries, millions of Christians (Nestorian churches and the Church of the East) were murdered by Muslim conquerers and armies for centuries. The Egyptian Christians I met in Egypt 2 years ago shared with me a long history of systematic oppressions of Islam against Christians. ISIS have been trying to eradicate Christians in the region of Iraq and Syria. Let me say that Islam is not a religion of peace! In this context, the best way to love them is to evangelize them through the medium of relationship building, community support and  whole different ways of showing love and care. If Jesus were here, he would do the same. His purpose is not just having conversation with them, but teach and demonstrate the truth about the Way, the Life and the Truth through loving care. 

I know their tactic in Nigeria and Europe and Asia that have worked for centuries: Once they become the majority in their country and gain political power, then they begin to oppress others and Christians by quoting later parts of Quran. Islam is still a minority religion in North America, but if and when they become the majority in this continent, then it will be too late as our countries are of democracy and each person's vote counts. What Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France are doing have merits and keen point in saying, "If you don't like our democracy and freedom, get out of this country and go back to your country." Before they become majority in Canada and the USA, we should set a high priority to evangelize (as true purpose) them to become Christians. That's best way to love them and leave a legacy of peace in this country and all over the world. 

This is incorrect information.  It is not wise to speak without knowledge even if your intent is not to deceive.  Allah is Our Creator.  We believe, as Muslims, that all the prophets bore the same message...To submit to our Creator. We believe, obviously, that all the prophets are Muslim.  Muslim means somebody who submits to God.   We love Jesus (Peace be upon him) at a level higher than most Christians.  He is our Messiah.  Jesus (Peace be upon him) never told us to worship him.  He fell to his knees in worship of Allah.  Allah is the name of God in Arabic.  Arab Christians say Allah for God.  He is our Creator, The Merciful, The Master of the Day of Judgement, The Just, The Planner, The Rightous...and has 99 such names in Islam.  The Holy Quran is the third book revealed to mankind, following the torah and bible.  The Quran has an entire chapter devoted to Mary, mother of Jesus. (Peace be upon them).  She is one of the 4 "complete" women of the Quran and the most exhaulted.   Jesus is mentioned more times in the Quran than is Mohammed (peace be upon them)  Allah gave only one prophet the power of healing and ability to bring life back to the dead....Jesus (Issa in Arabic, Peace be upon him).  Muslims do not evangelize.  A Muslim will NEVER knock on your door to convert you.  It is against our religion.  To be Muslim, one must enter Islam with free will.  Allah tells us there is no compulsion in religion.  He also tells us to not bother other people of the book (Jews and Christians) but to simply practice Islam so that others will be drawn to the Truth.  A Muslim may only defend himself, he may not attack others.  It is simple to know how to practice Islam but impossible to do it without submitting.  Just because a person calls himself Muslim, does not mean he is practicing Islam.  Islam is perfect, Muslims aren't.    May Allah strengthen our minds and soften our hearts so we can all submit to Him and worship Him, which is all He wants from us. Ameen.  I pray also we can all be better Muslims, Christians and Jews.  Our Creator wants this and mankind needs this.  Jazak Allahu khairan for this forum.  Allahu Akbar.  <3. 

Very interesting article. Thanks for the link to the original paper. 

Makes me think of the value of our Confessions. If we use the confessions properly, they will continue to drive us to Scripture to see the unique place of Jesus as the Savior and Son of God – both titles and works which cannot be syncretized with Islam.

Thank you for those encouraging words--very helpful for those of us who love refugees regardless of their religion, and also love Jesus. 

Thanks, again, Greg, for sensitive, deeply grounded thoughts and suggestions for using those thoughts in day-to-day relationships--whether with Muslims or others of different backgrounds. Very nice work that you and Salaam 2.0 are doing.

We believe there has never been such a time of global crisis and opportunity. How the church responds to the Islamic diaspora will determine which one of these it is. The teachers and practitioners of ministry to Muslims gathered in Grand Rapids June 23-24 will not likely ever be gathered together here again. They are simply the world's most trusted, most effective and most Biblically faithful ministers to Muslims. It is our hope and conviction that this experience will cause our churches and believers to press in with the Gospel so that thousands will find that while they were seeking Allah, they found their true God in Jesus and their true home the church of Jesus Christ. Contact me for any additional needed information...616-510-1803.

Greg,

I am sorry to say that you are very naive in your understanding of Islam as a faith.  While you are right that it is not a monolithic faith--the question is what is the teaching of the founder.  He was an extremist Muslim.  Any Muslim who adheres to the 7 pillars of Islam--is committed to Jihad--the 7th pillar.  Benizir Bhutto--former Prime Minister of Pakistan once noted that only 10% of Muslims are exteame--that still represents 100,000,000 Muslims.  So it is not a "fringe". 

It is also important to observe that this form of Islam, which the "Prophet" practiced himself--going to the battlefield 29 times, slaughtering people who did not convert---is the pattern for doing Jihad.  Saudi Arabia was unified under the Saud family following the same practice--known as Whabism.   Islam grew across the Middle East--Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and North Africa in 2 years.  This did not happen with "idea prosetylization" but through war and coercion.  Isis, Al Queda, etc. are all committed to this form of "evangelism"

An interesting U.S. constitutional question is whether we shoud permit "freedom of religion" for a religion that over its history has been committed to coercive conversion that would take away other peoples "freedom" of religion.

To “Name Withheld”, I have tried (in a previous comment) to show that there is a deeper understanding of God and his purposes than what simply appears on the surface.  The Bible teaches a double predestination, a predestination of a chosen people unto salvation and eternal life, and a predestination of those chosen for damnation and an eternity in hell.  Granted, this is a difficult idea to swallow, but none the less it is clearly taught in the Bible.  Many or most Christians would prefer to acknowledge only a surface teaching of God’s love for all people and God’s desire to see all accept his offer of salvation.  So in a sense, there seems to be two teachings taken from the Bible, and both stand in stark contrast to each other (but not in reality).

I sense that those of the Muslim religion do the same thing.  Those Muslims that stand in sharp contrast to a radical Islamic viewpoint want to show or claim that the Islamic religion is really about a loving God who wants to embrace humanity in his love.  But that may be a more surface or superficial understanding of the Islamic faith.  When understood at a deeper level of the Islamic teachings, you get a teaching that may accord in principle with the position held by the radical Islamics.  This is what I seem to pick up from the original article and some of the comments.  So it could seem that the Muslims do the same thing as Christians, that is, talk out of two sides of their mouths.  Blessings to all at this Christmas season.

Thanks Nathaniel, for your response to my comment.  I can see, from your comment, that you want to hang on to the idea that the God of the Bible is a loving and gracious God.  But I think you are looking at the Bible’s teaching only at a surface level.  You are not considering what the Bible teaches about God below the surface at the deeper level.  As I see it, you are looking at the veneer on the surface and not the substance.  What I have appreciated, in the past, about the Reformed theological understanding of the Bible is that it goes deeper in trying to understand the Bible’s teaching.

You suggest that God was very patient and gracious with the people in the land of Canaan, in fact for 430 years.  I’m not sure where you get this time frame from.  Are you trying to calculate from the time of Adam up to the time when God told the Israelites to go in to the land and slaughter the people of Canaan?  You portray God as gracious, patient, longsuffering and tolerant for this length of time.  I’m not sure where you draw this from.  In fact it sounds more like your own summation of God’s character toward the Canaanites and Hittites, rather than the Bible’s.

If I read my Bible correctly, it is only the chosen of God who are loved by God. The chosen people of God, whether in the Old Testament or New, are the ones who are the objects of God’s electing love and of the special ministry of the Holy Spirit by which he draws them to himself.  But what about the others, the ones not chosen for salvation?  They may hear a general gospel invitation but are not enabled to respond to God’s invitation apart from the Holy Spirit’s empowering and enabling.  They are left to their own efforts to win salvation, which we know results in failure.

Those not chosen, the non-elect, are not only left to their own efforts to win God’s favor but are hindered or obstructed by God from having any success in pleasing him, according to the Bible.  You see it is not only the elect who are predestined to salvation, but it is also the non-elect who are predestined to damnation.  It’s a double predestination.  For instance, Romans 9:17,18 says, “For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.  So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.”  God is the one who hardens hearts.  Most think the Canons of Dort adopt such a view of a double predestination..  

But not only does God predestine the ends (the damnation of those not chosen) but the means as well.  First, God has set the standard to please him at absolute perfection.  But of course accomplishing such a standard is an impossibility.  “There is none righteous, no not one.” or “All have sinned and fallen short...” or “Be perfect, even as your Father is perfect.”  By setting a standard of perfection God excludes anyone from accomplishing such an impossible goal.  Second, God credits everyone with the sin of Adam before they are even born.  Even as David said in Psalm 51:5, “For I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”  So by God’s determination and act, all have failed the test of pleasing God because he credits all with Adam’s sin. This human failure was accomplished by God even before a person is born.  Then third, God has imputed a sinful nature to all human beings, also before birth, with the result that all people have a natural inclination to sin. The apostle Paul talks about his own entrapment by his sinful nature in Romans 7:14-25 where he concludes by saying he is one miserable person because of his enslavement to sin. (Paul finds his hope in Jesus because he is one of the chosen or elect.)   But you see, it was God who imputed or credited this sinful nature to all people before birth without asking if anyone wanted such a nature. God not only predetermined the ends of damnation for those not chosen to salvation, he also determined the means by which he would ensure such failure by human beings.  As Paul says, God hardens the hearts of those not chosen to salvation. This is the act of God.  And somehow, God blames human beings for their failure to achieve perfection.

Nathaniel, is this what you are calling the grace and love of God?  Is this what you are referring to as the grace, long suffering, patience, and toleration of God, which lasted some 430 years?  You see God’s hatred, according to the Bible, actually goes back to the mind of God before time.

A short response to Greg: If I read my Bible correctly, the gospel invitation may be extended to all people. That sounds like really good news.  But the question not answered is, if people cannot respond to the gospel invitation, is it a sincere offer or really good news?  “Many are called but few are chosen.”  If we don’t go below the surface of the Bible’s teaching, it might seem that both Nathaniel and Greg’s comments ring true about God’s great love for the masses, but below the surface we see a much more complicated picture of God and a picture that makes sense of verses that speak of God’s hatred of sinners.  But then we should ask, who made them sinners?  The Bible more than hints that it is God himself.  Either the Bible is true or it contains some contains some glaring contradictions.  Maybe it is better to stay with a surface understanding of God.  It feels so much better, and such a God is much easier to defend.

Thanks for listening.  Wishing you a Merry Christmas.

One other comment in light of this discussion that I think we can all agree on is that Jesus came to extend the message of God's grace to from the Jewish people to all people and to condemn the idea of a theocracy separate from the kingdom of God which elevates the servant over the master the last over the first. In the words of Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 the message is for the prisoner, the oppressed, the blind, the outcast. It is the restoration of exodus and exile and good news for all people, even ISIS.

Hi Roger:

One thing you might want to recall in the Old Testament is that small phrase "when the sins of the Amorites were full." From the Bible we know this took 430 years. That is a bit like waiting from 1585 to the present. John Calvin died 21 years earlier than this date. From 1585 to 2015 as it were, God was patient, continually extending grace to a debauched, child sacrificing, idolatrous group of people--i.e. the Canaanites or the Amorites, whose religion with a storm God, Baal with his unraised fist and all of the fertility rites that humans engaged in in order to cause the gods to do so was a continual affront to the holiness of YHWH.

430 years of grace, patience, long-suffering, and toleration is a long time in my estimation, and more or less changes the equation, when you portray the Old Testament YHWH as a blood-thirsty, vengeful deity. Like it or not He is able to bring about judgment due to his Holiness, and he refrains from bringing it about immediately because of his long-suffering.

Have a good Christmas

 

 

So, the question is, what do we call those who don’t share the same religion with us, whether it be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jehovah Witness, or agnostic.  We are all human beings, so physically, intellectually and psychologically we share a common human identity.   We are all on this journey of life, some looking to this religion or that religion for guiding principles, others not following any particular religion at all, some following a religion in name alone, like the many nominal Christians. It might be nice if we could simply recognize that we all have differences, including differences of religion, and work cooperatively toward a better life for all.  But it doesn’t work that way, does it?

As Christians, we are more concerned that we don’t call someone of another religion a brother, sister, or even a cousin.  Our religion, like most other religions, is mutually exclusive.  And because we believe that our own religion (Christianity) identifies us at the deepest level of life, we look at everyone outside with suspicion or intolerance.  We don’t really consider ourselves on the same journey of life that outsiders are on.  We are too different from the others to share a common journey or a common destiny (heaven for the Christian and hell for the others).

In fact, it is this difference of religions that has been a root cause of many wars in the course of history, including the Christian Crusades.  But long before the Crusades, the God of the Jews and Christianity was demonstrating his animosity toward those of other religions.  In the Old Testament, God told his chosen people to slaughter all the people, men, women, and children, who were in possession of the promised land prior to the Jews arrival.  Hmm, kinda like ISIS, but more severe.  The Jews were acting on their faith in God, just as Muslim extremists are acting on their faith in Allah.

Of course, we Christians want to claim with the further revelation of God in Christ, our God is now a loving God.  We invite all to share in our God’s wonderful salvation and love.  But in the last decade or two we seem to have forgotten that although there is a general call or general invitation to all, there is a specific call by the Holy Spirit only to the chosen people of God.  “Many are called, but few are chosen.”  And those not chosen by God will experience God’s wrath and damnation for eternity.  God isn’t really so different from his revelation in the Old Testament.  According to the Christian faith, God chooses a specific people as the objects of his love (the Jews in the O.T. and Christians in the N.T.).  All others have or will have received from the hand of God his wrath and anger.  So it is quite understandable that we would not call an outsider to the Christian religion a brother, sister, or even a cousin.  They definitely are outsiders, non relatives.  I think Benjamin made that pretty clear in his theological evaluation.  

Of course in our present historic situation with the advent of ISIS, we want to blame the Muslim religion, especially, the extremists.  They obviously are exclusive of those outside of their religion and have the same attitude as the O.T. Jews and the God of the Bible; those outside of our religion are infidels and deserving of God’s wrath.  Those outsiders certainly are not related to our family.

The problem with the variety of religions, is that each one believes that ours is the only true religion.  Christians believe that our religion is the only true religion because it is based on God’s inspired revelation and word, therefor absolutely true.  The problem though, is that all the major religions of the world believe the same thing.  All are in possession of God’s truly inspired word and cannot be faulted.  And it’s a statement that cannot be proven false or true.  It is merely accepted as true based on faith (for each religion).  So how do we really know that all other religions are false and only ours is true?   Like other religions, our religion (Christianity) becomes true by faith, at least true to us.  Our faith makes it true. Faith is believing what cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1) And based on the same such faith, the tenets and teachings of other religions are absolutely true to them.  But can one religion over the other be proven to be objectively true?  You tell me.  So you see, religion (even the Christian religion) has not contributed to peace and harmony in the world, in fact just the opposite.  And that makes the prospect of true peace in the world very unlikely in the future.  So like the Muslims, let’s not call them brothers or sisters, but infidels.  Isn’t that what they are to God?

Greetings Benjamin:

    Love your good theological thinking. Keep up the good work.

An F.YI. Former Muslims that I know state that the doctrine of the adoption of sons is one of the most, if not the most precious truths to them.

That is why they fought tooth and nail to discourage translation agencies with taking liberties with Father and Son in translations targeted for Muslim majority audiences.

The family of the old Adam has been split asunder as a result of sin.  Through the saving work of Christ we are reborn and now live "In Christ" as the family of God.  This is the "adoption of sonship" spoken of by Paul.

I don't think "cousin" is much better as it seems to posit some genetic link which would undermine the understanding of rebirth in Christ. Family ties that bind the household of God are found in repentance, baptism and shared faith in Christ.  I would say there are no cousins as our "genetic link" is the blood of Christ.

This refusal to name them cousins should not stem from a denial of their humanity or the reality that they are image bearers of God.

Thanks Salaam for your articles articulating the basic Muslim perspective.  I am by no means an expert in Islamic thinking.  So such an article helps with getting into the mind set of those who have a Muslim religious bias.  I realize that the Islamic religion upholds a theocratic form of national government, unlike the U.S., Canada, or other democracies.  The theocratic form of Islam seems, to me, to come close to what we read of in the Old Testament when God was perceived as Israel’s only ruler.  There was not a separation of church and state by which the state was governed by separate laws from that of religious law.  That helps me to understand how a Muslim mind set can consider that all others (other than Muslims) are infidels and worthy of death.

When Israel (in the Old Testament) was told to go into the promised land and take possession of this land by killing all the inhabitants of this land, this killing was to include men, women, and children.  It didn’t matter if some of these inhabitants were good or not.  In God’s mind they were all infidels and deserved to die.  The Israelites were not given any other option than to destroy the people living in this promised land.  It didn’t matter that this land had previously (previous to God’s promise) and legitimately belonged to other people.  The Israelites were not to question God but to simply obey.  God’s honor was at stake and disobedience as an affront on his honor.  This is the God whom we, as Christians, worship.  Just as killing non Muslims makes no sense to me, neither does our Old Testament concept of a just Jahweh God.

I think also contributing to this Old Testament and Muslim perspective is the idea that God’s greatest concern was for his own chosen people.  God has a right to chose a chosen race (people) out from the sea of humanity to demonstrate his love particularly on them.  Those outside of the chosen race were deemed as of little worth unless these outsiders were to acquiesce to the chosen nation’s God or deity.  We see this today, and seems to be made clear in your article, Salaam.  And it also seems to be clear from our own historic Christian roots, as well.  If we can pretend to understand the God of the Old Testament, then we should have some understanding of the ISIS mentality of today.  God help us.

P.S: Just as there are many Muslim groups disassociating from a radical Islamic perspective, so there are many Christians who try to redefine Christianity into a more moderate and loving religion, as well.  Just as many Muslims can find sympathetic scripture passages to soften the core of Islamic belief, that same is true of Christianity.  You can make Scripture say whatever you may want, whatever the religion.

    Greetings Greg:

       When your forefathers lived in Holland, they lived under Nazi domination. Daily, they heard stories of Jews being rounded up and sent to their death in concentration camps. It would be very convenient to say "I do not support violence and reprisal type cycles of violence" in order to stop the Nazis. Yet someone somewhere had to say, "enough is enough." This is not about a personal vendetta against a Nazi, but it is a reasoned position to declare a just war against barbaric injustice. This is not a time for "humanitarian sentimentalism" to quote the post about the refugee situation that you can find elsewhere.

      Secondly there are not two types of Islam. There is one kind, founded on the three pillars of the Sunnah [the reports of the life the Muhammad found in the Hadith], the Sira [the biography of Muhammad] and the Qur'an. All of these are subjected to the theological interpretations of the consensus of Islamic thought over its history.  Like it or not, for all of its small variations, Islam is remarkably consistent in its thought, say concerning the position of an "infidel."  All Islamic schools over time, in all its variations see the infidel as inferior, one who can be humiliated, milked of its resources, and killed if necessary.  Just how literally all of this is applied depends largely on the type of Islamic state in which the infidel is found, how much in the majority Islam happens to be in a particular country, and whether there will be any recriminations against Islam for doing so. 

    If you read my post carefully, I suggest that all of humanity [and that includes non-ISIS Muslims] to challenge ISIS.  I did not label all Muslims as extremists. Many Muslims live peaceably in spite of the precedents of their founder. It is these very Muslims that ISIS refers to as  "hypocrites."  They do so, as they feel that secular Muslims are supposed to live by the precedents of their founder, and are not doing so, and thus have caved in to the values of the non-Shariah law.

   Lastly. I have seen the word "fear factor" come up a few times in some blogs. Here are a few facts:

a. ISIS said it would flood Europe with refugees. It did it.

b. ISIS in the above document says it will look for more blood. It will.

c. ISIS has threatened malls here and there, centers of government here and there. It will attempt to hit these targets.

Is this fear mongering to say that it would be prudent to circumvent a possible attack on the West Edmonton mall, and to actually eliminate the source of the attack? I would say not at all. Actually, by telling the chickens in the hen house that the snake that killed the last three chickens in relatively harmless, engenders more fear than ever.

Shalom.

 

 

Salaam thank you for this "wake up call" I agree that the church does need this and that we are challenged by the rise of Islam and extremist Islam. As Calvin has reminded us in the Reformation, Islam challenges our theology and it is important that we know our Scriptures, our theology, and are able to defend out faith. I also think you are right that our young people should be challenged to engage in missions with Muslims even at significant cost and suffering. The time is right for missions to Muslims.

But I do not support violence and reprisal type cycles of violence. Security and limited war maybe necessary by states but individual Christians are called to love Muslims and our response even to violent attacks has to be forgiveness coupled with witness. While I admit that extremists have Quranic support (and also from the Hadith) many Muslims and Christians continue to see them as extremists (on the fringes) because of the type of Islam they follow. Labelling all Muslims as extremists potentially could lead to the closing of doors to Syrian refugees as we are seeing in some US states (and possibly some Canadian provinces).

Let's try to reduce the fear factor and encourage respectful engagement with our Muslim neighbours.

I think the US government's policy toward asylum should not consider the religion of the asylum seeker.  On the other hand, to the extent a particular church is involved in the asylum process, it should sometime discriminate for or against certain religious perspectives of the asylum seeker.  

Exactly how would it be better, I would ask, for a devout Muslim to be placed in Sioux Center, Iowa (in a reformed Christian host family) while a devout Christian was placed with a Muslim family in Dearborn, Michigan?

No, I'm not suggesting a strict religious match up in all cases, nor that Muslims should be declared out of luck for lack of Muslim sponsors.

I would also suggest that it is good, not bad, that Christian churches in one country ESPECIALLY look out for Christian churches, and Christians, in other countries.  Raymond Ibrahim makes a very valid, and biblical, point in what he says.

Greetings Greg:

     I recall a book written a long time ago called "You Can Trust the Communist to Act Like a Communist" by Glen Schwarz. What he was saying in that book is that whether in leadership or not, a person will act according to their philosophical commitments. It was Lenin who said, give me 12 [or maybe it was 20?] committed people and we will turn the world upside down.  Thus it was not a question of large numbers of communists who took over then Russia, it was a level of commitment of a few. Thus you might want to be more aware of what a small number of "extermists"[ actually they are the ones who are consistently living out their Islam to the full, and who for good reason called the Muslims who hobnobbed with the Pope, "coconuts" ---which is about as low a slur as one can give] are thinking and stating.

As to consdering that all of this is only a phenomenon for Europe, consider these recent news events:

    1. USA. Consider the Muslima mother in New Jersey who was offended because the school did not honour the holiday for Eid. She stated: "“We’re going to be the majority soon,” [September 22/2015]

   2. Australia: 15 year old radicalized Muslim shoots police officer while dancing and shouting Allahu akbar [October 3rd]

3. Canada: Peterborough. Man with cache of weapons worth $20,000 and ties to radical M. groups reason for deportation. [June 2015]

4. UK.: Family of Pakistani origin who converts to Christianity is harrassed with death threats. [October , 2015]

 

As much as you want to believe the best of all refugees, which is laudable, and to desire to expose as many as possible to the Gospel, which is laudable, there is no way to turn off the reality of "What Would Muhammad Do?" in the Muslim mind. Some may abhor it, some may try to reject it, but as long as they are Muslims, they will be drawn to it, or have the risk of being labelled as coconuts.

Blessings

Shalom

 

 

 

 

   

     I do hope that you read the book on the Hijrah by two former Muslims. 

This view assumes that Muslims who immigrate or come as refugees will want to live out this hijrah narrative. I think that many who come to Canada will repudiate such views as being "un-Canadian" and un- democratic and will participate in a pluralistic society that separates church and state - even though that is an un-Islamic concept. While there will be some "extremists" and there is a need for security, I think the percentage will be low. So I don't see Islamic immigration as a threat to western democracies. The situation in Europe is different because Europe was overwhelmed in a sense by it's colonial ties that allowed populations to migrate and become disaffected and alienated (ie North Africans in the suburbs of Paris). A further problem is the weakness of the church in Europe and the spiritual vacuum that has resulted.

I do think it is good for Christians to be aware of this history, and that Muslims and Christians have different values. To follow the cross means sacrifice and suffering and that may involve risks in accepting refugees. Better to work with the diversity of the Islamic world, encourage peaceful solutions to these difficult conflicts, while at that same time isolating Islamists who do pose a danger to western society.

While I do agree that the church has a responsibility to help our suffering Christian brothers and sisters from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea and other conflict zones, I don't think we should discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnic background when it comes to refugees. The Gospel requires us to help all who flee violent environments and experience immense suffering. Plus, we have the added opportunity of not only helping but also witnessing to God's love to those who do not know Jesus. So I would encourage the church to open its doors to all refugees, Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, etc.

You did a very good job with this answer, Salaam. I'm probably still not going to refer to Muslims as my "cousins" but I don't have a better term either. Thanks for the work and care you put into writing this.

As one who lives among and ministers to Muslims, I really appreciate this article.  The emphasis on the legalism under which Muslims live is too often ignored.  We who have been born of the Spirit have good news for them (and everyone else) - the Lamb was slain in order to purchase men for God (Rev. 5:1-9).  There is no other solution for our sin apart from Jesus' death, resurrection, and continuing intercession.  Let us proclaim the Gospel to them with the boldness that the Holy Spirit gives.  For those who believe, they too will hear and experience the following promise from God, "Comfort, O comfort My people," says your God. 2 "Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD'S hand Double for all her sins." (Isa 40:1-2, NASU)

 

Thank you Greg for your reply:

     The bottom line of my questions is that methologies are derived from our theology. How many times have I heard with respect to Muslim outreach, "If we just package this a bit nicer, if we come across as a bit nicer, and if we see Islam as a bit nicer...." then they will come.

   No justification for abrasiveness, but behind the thinking, I believe is a repudiation of Reformed thinking that ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who does the effectual calling. In Arminian thinking the whole emphasis is on changing the will of the person to accept what is being said. Thus the emphasis on packaging. An excellent article that compared the ministries of Charles Finney and Ashahel Nettleton in the 1830's is called "How Does Doctrine Affect Evangelism?"  founders.org/fj33/how-does-doctrine-affect-evangelism/    The author, a Southern Baptist himself, called into question the altar-call methodologies of his own denomination as he compared and contrasted the two ministries. Is it possible for Reformed people to allow similar honest scrutiny?

     The questions I asked are: how does theology relate to action? More specifically who does a solidly Reformed theology relate to specific outreach attitudes and actions.

      As to the "Wind in the House" by David Garrison, I have some bad news for you. It may be more hot air in the case of Bangladesh and the insiders mentioned than actual fact. Consider these facts:

1. P.T. who I have just corresponded with, who himself is rather warm to the insider thinking states "In past years, the two groups making very large claims [i.e. of converts] were the IMB [International Mission Board--who Garrison works for] with S....and .M...C...with Timothy M...". Secondly he states: ""There are struggling small fellowships of believers that meet together infrequently.... Sadly, very few of them meet regularly together because of social pressure, lack of maturity, etc." Thirdly he states, ""the money that Western missions throws at huge statistics is so substantial that it can gradually corrupt and totally sidetrack people from their original path." Fourthly he states: ""To my knowledge, there are not 400 regularly functioning MBB fellowships in the entire country today - those meeting on a weekly basis"

2. I spoke to a Bangladeshi A.H who used to be with the Bible Society there, is an x-Muslims and was personally involved with the insider movement, and is recognized as a stable Christian leader by his countrymen. He estimates that there are between 50,000 to 70,000 x-Ms in Christ in his country.

These facts, which could be multiplied with other witnesses cast considerable doubt on Garrison's "Wind..". P.T who has been in Bangladesh for almost half a century is no casual observer.  He, like A.H. is considered a local.  Recall that it was Garrison who in 2004 stated, ""The Southern Baptist International Mission Board...is currently seeing more than half a million baptisms each year, the great majority of them resulting from CPMs"  The problem was that of this figure 380,000 fabricated statistics came from Bangladesh. David Garrison as the father of Church Planting Movements wants to see big movements, and unfortunately there are also people who will tell him what he wants to hear. Caveat emptor. Buyer beware!

        The questions that I asked do not only apply to the area of Muslim outreach, but also to attitudes in church planting in North America, international missions, and radio broadcasting. Speaking of radio broadcasting, did you know that today you can listen to the Wycliffe/SIL produced "Lives of the Prophets"--kind of a New Testament rendition, in Arabic and guess what? The Son of God is rendered as the very Muslim sounding "Caliph of God" in the Urbed/Bedouin version.

Another section in the Egyptian dialect has "This, your son, will stand in his highest place, in the presence of the King of Kings and he will judge with His authority" for Luke 1:35 which literally reads: “Son of God” (NASB, 1995). If that is not Muslim friendly, then what is?

The desire for these translations has not gone away, and the actual digital ones in existence have been simply been taken out of the public eye.

Not everything is what it appears on first glance. Caveat emptor! [Buyer beware]

Shalom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Salaam,

You are right that God is sovereign and he advances his kingdom. A recent book, A Wind in the House of Islam makes the point that God is bringing Muslims to Christ whether in historic or insider paradigms. I think it is also important to recognize that Calvin’s views of Muslims (whom he referred to as Turks) were in the context of the Ottoman threat to Europe. Calvin had no opportunities to live and interact with Muslims as we do today.

It is maybe good to note that hyper-Muslim friendly translations have been pretty well repudiated by the recent report of the World Evangelical Alliance. I think this issue is behind us – I hope so. Where Muslims choose to remain inside Islam I think it is often the choice of the Muslim himself or herself in his or her context to decide what is best. Often over time it becomes more possible and desirable to leave Islam (however I recognize there are more extreme views on this). Certainly there will always be “the offense of the Gospel” but where possible I don’t see a problem with reducing barriers, especially if they are cultural and not theological.

I understand your concerns in this area but worry you adding to the severe polarization of ideas that we live with in ministry among Muslims by raising these issues in this way.

Blessings.

Hi Salaam, 

You are actually able to make any changes yourself! If you go into your posts (found on the right-side of the page after clicking on "My Account"), you can click "New Draft" and make any changes. Thanks for reaching out! 

NOTE BY SALAAM CORNICHE:

   There is a glaring typographic error in the above article.

Please change the all occurences of the word "metanarrative" to "mega-narrative."

Sorry for the confusion.

Shalom

Greetings Harry:

   I purposely put the quote from Accad at the beginning of the article as an introduction to his thinking.

As you read through the article, I show that I actually completely disagree with this line of thinking.

  A large problem with the view of other religions is that more often than not it is anthropocentric, or having humans as the starting point.

Might I refer you to a recent book entitled "For Their Rock is Not as Our Rock" by Daniel Strange.

He shows that any and all religions are at once a quest for God due to a God-shaped vacuum, and at the same time a rejection of God due to the fall causing humans to want to be the sovereign masters of their destiny. 

    Thank you for engaging.

Blessings in Christ

Shalom.

"Your view of Islam will affect your attitude to Muslims. Your attitude will, in turn influence your approach to Christian-Muslim interaction, and that approach will affect the ultimate outcome of your presence as a witness among Muslims."

Let's address this to the two main factions:

Your view of Sunni Muslim will affect your attitude to Shia Muslim. Your attitude will, in turn influence your approach to Sunni-Shia interaction and that approach will affect the ultimate outcome of your presence as witness among ourselves.

Would the template of interaction between Catholics and Protestants be something that could work in the Muslim world?

They need to find a solution to the violence among themselves.

thankyou for your clear thinking and writing on this.  

Just to be fair, Jesus used some tactics not highlighted by this article, namely pointing out the woman’s sin [Jn 4.17-18], as well as denigrating her religious tradition [Jn 4.22].

The “dialogue” with others is fun and outright necessary. But eventually, pre-evangelism gives way to evangelism, and a definite truth must be passed from one to another. The Spirit decides whether that truth is received as “an aroma that brings life” or “an aroma that brings death.” [2 Cor 2.16] Let us enjoy pre-evangelistic dialogue, but use it for what it is: an exercise leading up to conveying the absolute, saving message of Christ crucified.

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Bernadette Arthur
Naji Umran