The Role of Pre-Conversion Dreams and Visions in Islamic Contexts: An Examination of the Evidence -- By: Sam Martyn

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 09:2 (Fall 2018)
Article: The Role of Pre-Conversion Dreams and Visions in Islamic Contexts: An Examination of the Evidence
Author: Sam Martyn


The Role of Pre-Conversion Dreams and Visions in Islamic Contexts: An Examination of the Evidence

Sam Martyn1

Church-Planting Team Leader in Central Asia

Dreams and visions in Islamic contexts are sometimes put forward as evidence for salvific revelation occurring apart from encounters with human gospel messengers. Reports of pre-conversion dreams and visions among Christians from a Muslim background suggest that while such experiences play a crucial role in conversion, pre-conversion dreams and visions contain little gospel content and play either a preparatory or confirming role for more substantive encounters with Scripture or Christian believers. To assess their common themes and patterns, the writer examined forty-four previously published conversion testimonies containing reports of pre-conversion dreams and visions. People ministering to Muslims and in Islamic contexts can benefit from understanding clearly the role of experience in Muslim conversions and how they can address experience pastorally.

Key Words: Acts 9–10, dreams and visions, Islam, missions, Muslim conversion, revelation

Introduction

In an interview in October 2011, pastor and theologian John Piper was asked what Christians should make of Muslim conversion stories involving dreams of Jesus.2 He responded, “Jesus coming to them in their head, preaching the Gospel to them that they have never heard of before, and believing and being saved . . . that I am suspicious of . . . big time.”3 Nevertheless, he allowed for the possibility of “Cornelius type dreams” (Acts 10:1–48),

which are accompanied by gospel proclamation through a human messenger. Piper continued, suggesting interest in the phenomenon of Muslim dreams of Jesus represents a “wave” or a fad among evangelicals that is likely to pass away with time.4 Piper’s response typifies the response of many evangelicals, which reflects both their eagerness to affirm God’s activity in the world to save sinners and their ambivalence concerning claims God is active in ways that could subvert the authority of his revealed Word. Meanwhile, an essential question looms over the discussion: What do Muslim conversion testimonies actually suggest about the role of dreams and visions?5

General revelation inclusivists, (sot...

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