Christianity’s Next Challenge

“Islam per se is not necessarily the greatest challenge facing Christians today, but rather how Christians choose to respond to Islam.”

John Azumah,  “Christian Response to Islam: A Struggle for the Soul of Christianity.

On June 4th, I sensed in my spirit a change in the Christian mission landscape regarding Islam. It was one of the reasons I announced the following day that I was stopping my blog for a while. One of my main fears was being too vocal and saying something or naming people that I would later regret. During the last 6 weeks, I have talked with a lot of people around Europe who are also sensing a new landscape for mission and pondering on the ramifications. I am also reading the Koran and making plans for some visits to the Middle East, North Africa and neighboring countries to Europe. I feel we have turned a corner and our response to Islam will be one of the defining factors in Christianity in the 21st Century.

A few weeks ago, I was in a Turkish cafe in Berlin and the owner asked if any Americans were in our group. I said yes and pointed to my American wife. He immediately picked up a copy of Obama’s speech in Cairo from June 4th, translated into Turkish for his cafe patrons to read, and handed it over.

Obama’s speech is significant. It may have been one of those acts that have opened up a new way of relating with Muslims. Time will tell how important that really is. I suggest reading it. Text is here.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

8 Comments

  • This revelation hit me like a ton of bricks when I went on press trips to Israel and Jordan – that was the genesis of my realization that I have to go back and communicate not with the leaders that I met but with those on the grassroots. In particular, I recommend that everyone try to visit Jordan – I was there during Ramadan and am transformed by exploring what it means to be a Christian in a country that was 96 percent Muslim with the vast majority of Christians there non-English speaking Orthodox.
    The other question that I’ve been delving into here in the states is on bridging the a/theist divide – another area where we need to show the love of Jesus by deeds and not just creeds. Here in the states no wonder so many people don’t believe in Jesus given the various ways Americana Christianity ™ tends to get packaged.

  • We have been feeling this way of late as well. Working with the organization(s) that I have (all wonderful), there has been an unfortunate trend that defines Islam as largely (if not exclusively) a demonic force designed to destroy Christianity and the world. Suggesting otherwise often brought concerns about my “universalist” leanings, which was a joke. This is part of why, when working with YWAM in Vancouver, part of my ministry was bringing Christians to our local mosque to build understanding and relationships (not as evangelism research, etc.). It was really powerful to see what happened.
    Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to seeing this different view gain momentum.
    Peace,
    Jamie

  • This hit me as well upon reading Carl Raschke’s “GloboChrist.” I agree that we need a LOT of discernment about our commentaries on Islam and what we share regarding our friends working in Islamic countries.
    Reading the Koran, while beneficial on some levels, should be supplemented by familiarizing yourself with Shariah law because so much of Islam revolves around that. A good starting point is “Shariah law: An Introduction” by Mohammad Hashim Kamali (from the Oxford Press “Foundations of Islam” series).
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/13284369/Islamic-jurisprudence-Shariah-Law-An-Introduction-Hashim-Kamali

  • Great Post, Andrew.
    I encourage you to read Eboo Patel’s book “Acts of Faith” and check out his organization http://www.ifyc.org/
    (and google some of the audio interviews he has given, especially the one featured on “Speaking of Faith”) to see a vision for interfaith dialogue – from the perspective of a Muslim. I believe that a willingness to engage in true Interfaith dialogue will be what determines the growth or decline of the Church’s influence outside of the West in the 21st Century.

  • thanks tim.
    and greg – i really enjoyed Carl Raschke’s book Globochrist (and enjoyed meeting him also) and highly recommend it.

  • This is an interesting topic for me. I was once involved in Middle East missions work with a church I was a part of a little over ten years ago. Spent some time in Beirut, and lived in Nicosia, Cyprus, for a while. I look forward to hearing more developments.

  • Andrew, you and Debbie are some of the very few people I know that I’d call “spiritual node runners” (for lack of a better term). You’re sort of “decentralized system roving reporters” – nomads who canvas post-Christendom cultures to gather insights and share them in both real and virtual spaces. I know there’s sometimes a sort of lightening rod effect to sharing the things you do, so thanks for this important post on our next challenge. It may shock some, but hopefully sparks change for many.
    I appreciate the sacrifices you two and your family make for you to travel, learn, discern, and – as you did with this post, Andrew – wait for the Spirit’s timing. Thanks for helping us understand our times, and live out the Kingdom in them. With your comprehensive, global perspectives, and by collecting on-the-ground grassroots discernments from many sources, you’re like missional barometers on our behalf.
    We all benefit from your measuring the “atmospheric pressure” toward changes in the spiritual climate, and I for one continue to be inspired by your family’s living into the implications of these changes.

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