There exists a broad consensus within modern cultures that it is wrong, and perhaps dangerous, to confront people of other faith groups—particularly Muslims.1 However, the biblical example of evangelism takes place through dialogue.2 Christians are engaged in a battle over propositional truth, and just as we correct our friends and loved ones when they are in error, so we must correct our Muslim friends if we are to demonstrate the love of Christ.3 Unfortunately, contemporary cultures find the evangelistic message of sin and salvation irrelevant, requiring objective verification that Christianity is true. Therefore, displaying loving-kindness towards others is not enough, the Christian must remain ready to adequately articulate the Christian message, while simultaneously defending it with passion—demonstrating the faith does not rest upon a mere subjective experience.4 Rather than avoiding a challenging debate, the Christian must be willing to engage Muslims in dialogue, seeking answers to their challenges, and responding to their claims resolutely.5
Preparing to Talk with Muslims
Given the rapid growth of Islam, the global Church must equip Christians to discuss Muslim challenges by providing biblical leadership, and appropriate resources (including education, training, and organization). As Dr. Joshua Lingel aptly puts it, “The greatest problem in the world is not Radical Islam it is nominal Christianity.”6 Accordingly, Christians must individually undergo a four-step personal development process to (1) prepare for spiritual warfare, (2) relinquish the fear of suffering, (3) learn the foundations of the Christian faith, and (4) deepen his/her study and knowledge of Islam.7
From Islam’s inception, Muslim leaders have challenged the Christian worldview, actively repudiating the integrity of the Bible (Iba Hazm), the doctrine of the Trinity (Abu Isa al-Warraq), and the structure of Christian society (A-Jahiz), while simultaneously arguing that the Old and New Testaments prophecy about Muhammad (Ali Tabari).8 Unfortunately, few Muslims understand Christian doctrine (which commonly manifests in straw man arguments) which requires Christians to exercise patience when conversing with Muslims.9 Moreover, Christians must engage Muslims in love while seeking to understand Islāmic traditions, rather than misrepresenting Islāmic doctrines.10
Islam raises arguments and exalts itself against the knowledge of the true God.11 As such, Christians are to wage war using the spiritual weapons of love, knowledge of God, and rational arguments (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).12 Unfortunately, Islam directs violence against its opponents (cf. Surah 8:12b), requiring Christians to maintain a biblical view of suffering (c.f. John 16:2b; 2 Timothy 1:7, 3:12; Matthew 10:28; Galatians 1:10). Additionally, Christians must also understand the foundations of Christianity, while possessing a basic understanding of Islam. This process includes learning how Islāmic truth-claims contradict those of Christianity, understanding why the Qur’an is not a reliable account of Jesus’ life, and being able to articulate why the Qur’an does not meet the Islāmic standard for reliability.13 By engaging Muslims with fairness, patience, and gentleness, the Christian can avoid unnecessary controversy, while simultaneously providing a biblical response to Muslim objections—as a means of evangelism.
- Jay Smith, “Dare We Confront?! (A Call for a New Paradigm in Muslim Evangelism),” in Joshua B. Lingel, Christian Apologetics to Islam (La Habra, CA: i2 Ministries, n.d.), 220.
- Ibid., 221, 224-225.
- Ibid., 222-223.
- Ibid., 223.
- Ibid., 230.
- Joshua B. Lingel, “When Muslims Attack . . .the Faith: Get yourself ready to talk to Muslims,” in Joshua B. Lingel, Islam’s Issues, Agendas, & the Great Commission (La Habra, CA: i2 Ministries, n.d.), 24.
- John Gilchrist, “Facing the Muslim Challenge: A Handbook of Christian – Muslim Apologetics,” in Joshua B. Lingel, Islam’s Issues, Agendas, & the Great Commission, 155-156.
- Ibid., 157.
- Ibid., 160-162.
- Joshua B. Lingel, “When Muslims Attack . . .the Faith: Get yourself ready to talk to Muslims,” 16.
- Joshua B. Lingel, “When Muslims Attack . . .the Faith: Get yourself ready to talk to Muslims,” 18-21.