In this lecture, Vivienne Stacey discusses the importance of Christians winning the person rather than the argument with Muslims. She reminds us of the importance of not only receiving the gospel by faith but also sharing the gospel by faith and with prayer. These lectures were given at Columbia International University in partnership with the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies. The Zwemer Center was founded in 1979 and exists to offer comprehensive courses on Islam, facilitate research, foster dialogues, offer seminars, conduct training, and provide resources for effective Christian witness and ministry among Muslims. We also have a course study guide for these lectures that you might find helpful.


Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Vivienne Stacey’s Lecture on relating, understanding, and communicating with Muslims:


Well, you’ve all been meeting Muslims at a mosque, I hope, sometime in the last few weeks. And, so I’d like just to make a few observations about a Christian’s approach to a Muslim, and I think there are 3 key words, relating, understanding, and communicating. Some people want to start with communicating. It’s not the way to start. The way to start is relating, understanding, and communicating.


So from 1 of 2 of your descriptions, it sounds as if you have been relating, and you’ve been listening. So that’s a move to understanding, and then you’ve been sharing, which is communicating. You’ve seen the you’ve, seen the overhead, and, you have the diagram of a Muslim and a Christian meeting each other, and it’s mind to mind thinking their way. They’re not going to make so much effort to think your way, but they may make some, as you’ve seen. And feeling their way and then getting inside their shoes, walking their way.


There is a limit to that, but it’s an idea of identifying, of understanding, Understanding. Understanding how they think, understanding how they feel, understanding their customs, their worldview, their culture. It is we who have to really go out to meet them. But I think the greatest challenge that we have as Christians is to love Muslims. To love Muslims, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love our friends, but to love to love Muslims. And I just want to give you 5 pointers. A loving approach to win the person rather than winning the argument. It’s much more important to win the person rather than winning the argument, and there sometimes can be a difference there. 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 15, does anybody remember what that verse says? 1 Peter 1 1 Peter 315.


If you’ve got it, will you read it out? 1 Peter 115 sorry. 1 Peter 315. Peter changed his attitudes considerably. Anyway, this shows something of his attitude.


1 Peter 115, please. 1 Peter 315. What’s the matter with me? Okay. But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.


Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give a reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect. With gentleness and respect. So winning the person rather than the argument, really, because it might be a violation of respect to push the point to win the argument rather than refrain and let the person perhaps make their own conclusion. And then secondly, a believing approach to our Muslim friends, to Muslims. The gospel needs to be shared with faith as well as received by faith, and I’ve pondered this a lot.


Hebrews chapter 4 verses 23. Maybe somebody would look that up and read us in a minute. But, it is ironical that we invite Muslims to believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and do not believe sometimes that they can or they will. I’ve met many Christian workers, and sometimes I have a bout of it myself. Will these people believe?


How difficult it is. Will they believe? But we are those who believe ourselves, and we’re asking other people. We’re inviting people to believe on our friend and lord and master and savior, Jesus Christ. It’s ironical if we invite people to believe and do not believe that they can believe.


So you have to chew over that sometimes in your ministry. And, Hebrews 4 verses 2 to 3, what does that say? For indeed, we have had good news preached to us, just as they also. But the word they heard did not profit them because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have for we have believed enter that rest just as he has said.


As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest. Is that what one of the verses today? Have you got to further than 4 or that’s verse 3. Oh, okay. Although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.


Okay. That’s fine. Thank you. So the point is quite clear that some with some, it’s not mixed with faith. Esther John, whom I spoke of the other day and who we read about and who died for her faith, she told me about she said, I believed, but, my relatives also heard that it was not for them mixed with faith. But, we have to present with faith the faith that they can believe. And thirdly, a prayerful approach. You remember how Paul was so keen that his people should come to Christ. Romans 10 verses 1 to 3. Would somebody read that?


Romans 101 to 3. He had an amazing compassion and burden, you might say, for his own people. We we see it in chapter 9 as well. He says, I’m speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying.


My conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I must myself were were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race. That was his burden for his people. But then, in verse in chapter 10, somebody read that, please? 10 verses 1 to 3.


Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God is for Israel that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of God. Thank you. And this is the apostle to the Gentiles.


He he was so concerned for the Jews, but he was called eventually to be the apostle to the Gentiles. So he had a wide concern, not just for his own people, but we catch a glimpse of his prayerful concern. And then fourthly, an informed approach, an informed approach. Would someone look up 1 Kings 19 verses 14 to 18? You know this passage.


It’s the passage which, in which, Elijah says, I even I am only am left or something like that. That, there are she he reckons that he’s the only person who hasn’t bowed the knee to Baal, in his land. Now he got his statistics very badly wrong. So would you mind reading, 1 Kings 1914 to 18, please, somebody, a nice loud voice. Then he said, I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the sons of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, torn down thine altars, and killed thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away. And the Lord said to him, go return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram. And Jehu, the son of Nimshi, you shall anoint king over Israel. And Elisha, the son of Shaphath of Abalmi Holah, and you shall anoint as prophet in your place. And it shall come about the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu, shall put to death.


And the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will put to death. Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. So he was 6,999 out, wasn’t he? When he said Ionian left, and, we better be careful about statistics. Let us have an informed approach.


I I once met, well, I’ve met several young men who went to a very staunch Muslim country and thought they must give the gospel package, and so they distributed tracts and and gospels and got arrested. And I said, why did you do such a foolish thing? I said to one of them. I’m getting rather direct in my old age, but anyway. So he he said, well, if we hadn’t if we didn’t, then how would they hear? And I said, well, what about all those Pakistani Christians in that country and the Indian Christians? They’re living there. You came for a short time and you blitzed the city. I mean, they’re having a quiet and steady witness. And he said, well, I didn’t know about them.


So I said, you should do your homework. And, here’s the scripture for it. I mean, I’m sure he was very depressed, was Elisha, but probably he guessed there were more, but I don’t know. Okay. And then a sympathetic approach.


Now, fifthly, Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 verse 19 says, though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave of all that I might win them all. To the Jews, I became as a Jew in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as under the law that not though not being myself under the law, that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law, not being without law towards God, but under the law of Christ, that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak.


I have become all things to all men, that by some means by all means, I that I might, by all means, save some. I do it for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings. Well, it’s you might debate long about what this means, and I spent I’ll spend the next meal probably discussing it with somebody for Navy, but there is sympathy here. There is the willingness to lay aside any cultural baggage or, any, political baggage or any, what you might call imperialistic baggage in order to become all things to all peoples. So here it is, these approaches or this this spirit.


I think a prayerful approach is extremely important, and I had I’m always impressed by the Koreans and the way they pray. In Saudi, they impressed the Saudis because the Saudis said, who are these people who get up before we do to pray? And they’re not Muslims. So they observed the Saudis, and, I mean, the Saudis observed them, and they made an impression. When I went to Korea, I’ve been three times.


Last time I went, I said, well, I admire you Koreans, and this is what I’ve seen in Saudi. I admire your prayers and the way you pray, but I want to ask you a question. And, the question is, well, 1 5th of the world is Muslim, 20% of humanity. I’d just like to know what percentage of your prayers are for Muslims. And, lots of I met Koreans who’d never prayed for Muslims, but, I think it’s certainly changing.


I’m not suggesting that we, you know, do 20% of prayers for these and 20% of for Hindus and all the rest of it. But I am suggesting that in the hearts of a praying people in a nation marked by prayer, there should be a a very great concern to to pray for for Muslims as well as in our own hearts, of course. Now, when you suddenly meet a Muslim, say as you did yet in in the mosque and you may yet again, or when, our pastor here met his hairdresser, who gave him a kind of beard that’s gonna be look a bit more like Mohammed’s beard, and so he’ll probably meet another Muslim very quickly because he’ll recognize the beard. Okay. Well, what sort of Muslim is he or she?


She we’re thinking of practicing, saying prayers, visiting mosques, visiting shrines, nominal, secular, literate, illiterate, wealthy, poor, or middle class, urban or rural, man, woman, or child, old or young, well or sick, Sunni, Shia, Sufi, or any other sect, More influenced by materialism, more influenced by communism. From what country? Refugee, immigrant, tourist, student, convert, and so on. Variety. No stereotype here.


So you do need to have some idea, and you will do as you engage in conversation. Then there’s another matter that I need to underline. Muslims and Christians use quite a lot of the same vocabulary, religious vocabulary. The word salvation, for example, comes once in the Quran as a noun. It comes in Surah 40 and verse 44.


Once as a noun, several times as a verb to save that comes in the Quran. And the word is najat or it’s in the Quran, it’s najah, the word for salvation, And then, it’s najat. So, I think you could write it najat, or, that would be Urdu, naj, sort of a, najar. And if you want to see it in Arabic, it’s Arabic. And if you wanna see it in, this is.


So this word then, noun, once so what does it mean? It obviously doesn’t mean the full thing that salvation means in the bible. And if you can make a chart in your mind or on your paper, and you and as I draw it now, you can see it easily. There are 3 sections here. The first is the past, and the second is the present, and the third is the future. And the future, we divide into 2 sections, have heaven and hell. So salvation for the Christian is a word that encompasses the present, the past, the present, and the future. Through Christ, we are freed and, cleansed from the sins of the past. Through Christ, we have abundant life in the present. I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.


And, through Christ, we know that we have forgiveness of sins, and therefore, will be in heaven. We know that our names are written on the book of in the book of life, and that we will escape hell. But the use of the word in the Quran, the one use as a noun, refers only to possible deliverance from hell. It’s not even deliverance from hell. It’s, it’s, it’s a question mark. Maybe by the mercy of God, I will be delivered from hell. It has nothing to do with the past or the present. The word refers to the future, and then it’s a question mark. So it’s a very small word, not a very big word. Same word.


So if you hear salvation on the lips of the Christ of a Muslim, maybe you have some different meanings. Let me illustrate it with another word. The word was for sin. There’s 3 major words for sin in the Quran. Most of them, 3 of them 2 of them refer to ceremonial sins, breaking the rules or breaking the practices of Islam.


And one has an an ethical content to it, falling short, and that comes 5 times in the Koran. But let’s just think of me in my hideout in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan talking to my Muslim neighbor. And we will have some tea together, and we will chat. And we will agree that we are both sinners. So it would seem that we’re talking the same language, but in some ways, we’re not. Because I mean that, I was born in sin. I am a child of Adam and Eve. I am a descendant of Adam and Eve, and I have inherited sin. In sin did my mother conceive me. And that’s not just referring to a way of conception and all that.


It’s it’s it’s the original sin. Original sin. So I am born in a state of sin, and I confirm that I am born in a state of sin by the sins that I do. But my Muslim neighbor, she explains, I am a sinner. She says, I am a sinner, but she believes that, she was born weak, as it says in Quran, surah 4 and verse 28.


Somebody could look that up. Sura 428, it says that man is created weak, and the traditions teach that all people were touched at birth by Satan except for Jesus and his mother. So she was born in a state of innocence, not a state of sin. But she does sins, and therefore, she becomes a sinner. So here we are agreeing that we’re sinners.


We agree over the word, but the meaning in that word is different. So in our conversations with Muslims, we will have to put deeper meaning into some of the words that we both use. Repentance. Repentance is from sin. Okay.


Well, your definition of repentance depends on your definition of sin. And we could take very many words like this. The meanings are different, or the content of the meaning of one word is in one faith is a 10th or a very little compared with the other faith. So even using the same words, does not finally help us to communicate. We have to understand how they think and put more content into the meanings of those words, and we have to explain it not generally by theology with Muslim women, but by good illustrations. And so I asked my Muslim friends, well, what happens when you when you cook, say, dal and, a mixture of dal and something or the other, and you don’t clean out the outs you clean the outside of your vessel, but you don’t clean the inside, and you add more the next day. And you don’t clean the outside the next day, and you add some further amount. Well, they say on the 3rd day, it will certainly be awfully. It’ll be horrible. It’ll be terrible.


And I say, well, what about us? If we just clean the outside and get us get cleansed on the outside and there’s no radical cleaning inside, then what? Or what about measles or some or chicken pox? Less chicken pox is better. What would you think?


I mean, supposing you treat this spot, well, then pride comes out there. And if you treat that, well, some other sin comes out there, and so you can go treating the spots. It takes a long time, and sometimes they reappear in different places. What we need is something that changes the inside so that the spots don’t keep on coming out and the the whole thing is dealt with from within. You have to collect illustrations.


Proverbs help you in that. I collect proverbs. I collect Arabic ones and Urdu ones and Punjabi ones and English ones, and or even a few others. One fish makes the whole pond dirty. That’s a Punjabi proverb.


It’s an Urdu proverb as well. They understand it very well. One fish makes the whole tank dirty.