The greeter at the door completely ignored her, as did others. Wandering around in an attempt to find her own way she felt like a leper and a pariah.
Wondering what would happen if a Muslim had a dream about Jesus and wandered into a church, she teamed up with a Muslim female friend for a scary experiment. (The Muslim friend said she would be terrified to try such a thing herself.) They decided to attend a church as first-time visitors. She wore a hijab (head covering), while her American-looking Muslim friend discreetly sat two rows back, and took notes. It didn’t go well. Someone (probably a plain clothes police officer) practically sat in her lap throughout the service! As Islamic radicals continue to carry out unspeakable acts of violence, Muslims will become increasingly feared, hated and shunned in Western society. Knowing how Jesus responded to Samaritans in his day tells us how he would want his followers to reach out to Muslims today.
Every language has its word for “God” which is used in translation of Scripture and within any particular culture and language. Allah is the Arabic word for the English “God” just as “Dios” is in Spanish. It is the word that has been used for centuries by Jews and Christians in the Middle East and actually pre-dates the founding of Islam in the seventh century. Bibles translated in predominantly Muslim countries into local languages such as Indonesian, Malay and Bengali use Allah as the biblical reference to the sovereign creator God.
To not use “Allah” for God would require the use of a foreign word that would not be understood in the local language. Ironically, the word “Allah” comes from the same root word of “Elohim” of the Old Testament, while our English word “God” has no etymological relationship to the biblical YHWH or Jehovah. In fact, it comes from the German “Gott” and was derived from the name of a pagan viking deity!
Use of Allah in Muslim literature refers to the God who created the world. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and Ishmael), and other prophets known in the Old Testament. To introduce another identity than the monotheistic sovereign creator deity of the Bible and known as Allah by Muslims would create a formidable barrier to communicating biblical truth.
The concern is understandable that if “Allah” is used in Christian witness that the theological distortions of Muslim understanding will be carried over, resulting in syncretism or heretical concepts of God shaped by ones Islamic background. Certainly, this requires adequate teaching and discipling just as it does in our own culture. And we should be confident that when one comes in genuine repentance and faith to Jesus Christ that God is able to reveal Himself in spirit and truth to a new believer.
Is there more than one God? No, there is only one God, and He can be known only through Jesus Christ. We must not confuse cultural and linguistic bridges of communication in seeking to transcend diverse worldviews.
There is no need to make Islam look bad in order for Christianity to look good. When Christians and Muslims talk about their faith with each other, comparisons are inevitable, but that does not mean it should be a strategy. We will hear each other’s beliefs and naturally consider points of similarity and difference with our own beliefs. This is to be expected. Understanding something new often comes through comparing it with what we already know. We might be tempted to accelerate this process by making comparisons for Muslims, but this is an unhelpful approach. This style of evangelism is popular with media ministries, and there is more than enough content online, making such an approach unnecessary. When we talk with Muslims, we want to ensure our focus is on…
Several times recently I have been asked by concerned Christians questions along the lines of “will Muslims take over in the UK/the West?” or “how should we respond to the violence of Jihadists/ Islamic State etc?”. My precise answer depends upon the circumstances but is usually along the lines of “keep calm and think biblically”!
What do I mean? There is a danger that we allow our thinking to be manipulated by the secular media or the agenda of people who want to scare us into supporting their particular cause. So here are five suggestions for a calm and biblical approach to Islam and current world events: