The SBJT Forum: Key Issues for Understanding Islam and Muslims -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 08:1 (Spring 2004)
Article: The SBJT Forum: Key Issues for Understanding Islam and Muslims
Author: Anonymous


The SBJT Forum:
Key Issues for Understanding Islam and Muslims

Editor’s Note: Readers should be aware of the forum’s format. D. A. Carson, George W. Braswell, Jr., Joost Pikkert, and Samuel Shahid have been asked specific questions to which they have provided written responses. These writers are not responding to one another. The journal’s goal for the Forum is to provide significant thinkers’ views on topics of interest without requiring lengthy articles from these heavily-committed individuals. Their answers are presented in an order that hopefully makes the forum read as much like a unified presentation as possible.

SBJT: What are some of the most important things you think that Christians should know about Islam and about Muslims?

D. A. Carson: Owing not least to 9/11, countless thousands of Christians have taken it upon themselves to become better informed about Islam. Books and essays pour from the presses, some of them quite outstanding, others quite frankly poor or misinformed.

I am a little hesitant to provide a list of “the most important things” Christians should know, partly because that sort of list should look different according to the shape of Islam in various parts of the world (for example, the shape of Islam in a totalitarian kingdom like Saudi Arabia is rather different from the shape of Islam in a more-or-less democratic but heavily Muslim country like Turkey), partly because the contents of the list should vary according to what Christians already know about Islam, and partly because the list should vary according to the nature and frequency of the contact we enjoy with Muslims. What a Christian living in Lincoln, Nebraska, needs to know about Muslims may not be exactly the same thing as what should be known by Christians living in New York City or Islamabad.

Still, one must start somewhere.

(1) In its own way, Islam is as varied as is the world of Christendom. Just as a fundamentalist in southern Indiana would not want to be tainted with the views of, say, a liberal Catholic in Holland, and might protest that the views of the liberal Catholic do not represent true Christianity, so Muslims may vociferously disavow and condemn the views of many other Muslims. The common allegiance to Islam did not prevent Iraq from attacking Iran or trying to take over Kuwait.

(2) Many of us have become mildly informed about the Sunnis and the Sufis, and perhaps about the Wahhabism of the Saudis. But there is another kind of distinction that is at least as important—the distinction between the well-informed Muslim (of whatever group) and what for lack of a better expression we might call the street Muslim. Many street Muslims around the world think that the Christian doctrine of the Trin...

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