After my trip out to Indonesia and Malaysia, God really spoke to me about my ignorance about the Islamic faith and the Muslim people. It is interesting that no matter how many theological classes you have taken in seminary about world religions, there is a difference between head knowledge and practical knowledge.
I received Phil Parshall book by one of my former HMCC members who is now back in Indonesia (the largest Muslim populated country in the world). Parshall, in some ways is like the godfather of Muslim missions.
I have read a lot of academic books on the Islam faith, but for some reason this book was different. There is a huge difference when a person writes a book academically with just head knowledge compared to when a person writes a book from years of missionary experience. I was able to notice the difference right away.
This book was written in 2003 so in some ways it is still fresh. But so much has happened in the Islamic landscape especially with what is going on in Iraq. This is a must read for anyone who has a burden for Muslims or who wants to do Muslim missions in the future.
The major issue that Parshall covers is the issue of contextualization. In various seminaries and missions organizations there are some theological discussions about how to do evangelism in the Muslim world. Not everyone agrees with the various methods, but the importance of it is beginning to bring people together for dialoguing and strategizing.
God used this book to open up my eyes to the Muslim worldview and how there are so many different bridges Christians can make that might be easily overlooked. This book also exposed some of my own prejudices of how ought to be when it comes to witnessing to Muslims.
After giving some more thought and reflection, one thing that the Lord impressed on my heart is that God needs to raise up a special generation of Christians in order to evangelize to the Muslim world. When you look into the Muslim’s worldview of holiness, you start to realize why they hate the West so much. Also, when they look at Christians and how little reverence they have for their Christian God it is almost laughable for the Muslim.
Due to their works mentality in their relationship with Allah, it is hard for them to look at a Christian who preach grace that does not produce holiness.
I am wondering if the type of Christians who will be able to minister to the Muslims will be people who are radical in their faith (even willing to die for it), live in holiness and possess an unconditional love that cannot be explained by human terms.
But the problem that I see that there is a smug current that flows in the Church in the United States. There are people who disguise their comfortable and self-made Christianity under the banner of grace. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, “Cost of Discipleship” explains,
“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God…
Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. ‘All for sin could not atone.’ Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin. That was the heresy of the enthusiasts…
The call goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience… Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son… There is trust in God, but no following of Christ…
He wants to follow, but feels obliged to insist on his own terms to the level of human understanding. The disciple places himself at the Master’s disposal, but at the same time retains the right to dictate his own terms. But then discipleship is no longer discipleship, but a program of our own to be arranged to suit ourselves, and to be judged in accordance with the standards of rational ethic.”
It is my prayer that God will raise up radical Christian who are committed to radical discipleship. This is the only way we will be able to gain respect and a hearing from the Muslims. Lord, may this be the standard and not the anomaly!