Islamic Values and the Gospel -- By: Patrick O. Cate

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 155:619 (Jul 1998)
Article: Islamic Values and the Gospel
Author: Patrick O. Cate


Islamic Values and the Gospel

Patrick O. Cate

Patrick O. Cate is President, International Missions, Reading, Pennsylvania, and a former missionary in Iran and Egypt.

Today it is popular to state one’s values, to think them through, write them out, post them in one’s company, school, or institution. Values fire the imagination and drive actions and decisions. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey says, “The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the pro-active person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected, and internalized values.”1

Everyone is driven by his or her values, whether they are carefully thought out or not, and whether that person is conscious of them or not. Though people may not state their values, they do live by them. Some individuals also may state one set of values, but in reality live by another set.

Understanding one’s own true values and then understanding another person’s values can promote appreciation. If another person’s values are not understood, he or she may seem strange, odd, or wrong. Understanding values of others helps make sense of their actions and decisions and can often help remove misunderstandings. If a person always wore yellow-tinted sunglasses, eventually he might begin to think everything was yellow. But by understanding someone else’s values, the sunglasses are removed and fewer misunderstandings exist.

People’s values come from living within their own culture all or most of their lives. It is therefore easy to think that everyone shares those values, or to think that if people do not have those values they are wrong. Therefore it is important to seek to understand others.

Westerners, for example, value individualism and liberty. By self-effort they produce achievement. They appreciate the rights of individuals. They separate their public and private worlds; they value the accumulation of private wealth; they focus on the material and the human. But in the Muslim world opposite virtues are valued.

Christians need to seek to understand Islam from within. This does not mean becoming a Muslim. It does not mean diluting the gospel or accepting theology that goes against Scripture. It does mean learning what Muslims value and discovering what Muslims and Christians have in common and how they are different. Many Islamic values are much closer to biblical values than they are to Western values. Studying Islam and the Mi...

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