Christian-Muslim Engagement: Obstacles and Opportunities -- By: Anna-Marie Lockard

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 03:1 (Mar 2007)
Article: Christian-Muslim Engagement: Obstacles and Opportunities
Author: Anna-Marie Lockard


Christian-Muslim Engagement:
Obstacles and Opportunities

Anna-Marie Lockard1

Abstract

Issues of religious diversity and interfaith understanding take centre stage in today’s post-modern global society. Since September 11 (911), the church’s mission to engage the Muslim community has been met with both obstacles and opportunities. The quintessential of global Christian witness is to have a pellucid grasp of the dangers and opportunities for Christian-Muslim witness. Basic principles of encounter must be relational rather than confrontative. Contextualisation must be viewed as both an opportunity and a challenge. Seeking a common witness can pose theological concerns for those who seek interfaith understanding among Muslims.

1. Introduction

The purpose of this article is to integrate three missiological topics that hold high interest for me, namely, current opportunities for Christian-Muslim encounters, the challenges of Christian witness in contextualising the gospel among Islamic groups, and the caveats in examining a common witness to Muslims.

According to Stan Guthrie (2002), September 11 (911) has only intensified the dangers and rewards of Muslim evangelism. Guthrie graphically illustrates his assertion by citing the following example of a recent Muslim convert to Christianity:

Samuel (not his real name) watched the Jesus film and listened to Christian radio on July 15, 2001. For an Afghan Muslim, Samuel took a very dangerous but courageous step when he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Soon the Taliban came for him and he was thrown into jail for being guilty of working for foreigners. For the next fourteen days, they beat him at least once a day with a five-foot steel cable. After the last of these brutal sessions, he fell unconscious in his prison cell.

That night Samuel had a dream in which a man wearing bright white clothes appeared and spoke to him in a kind voice: “Get up.” When Samuel awoke he found his prison cell door open and unguarded. He walked out the front gate of the prison and into the night to safety.

Clearly, the risks of Muslim-Christian encounters are high for both the Muslim convert and the ministry worker. Yet, the leading of the Holy Spirit has opened doors of opportunity on a global scale and the time is now for the church to respond.

2. Opportunities

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA, the church found itself with fresh momentum in engaging the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims in

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