Evelyne A. Reisacher, ed.
IVP, 2017. pp.
The challenge of Islam has grown exponentially over the past two decades as globalization and unprecedented global migration have put more adherents to this religion than ever before in close proximity to their non-Muslim counterparts. In that context, what was once merely isolation and ignorance has morphed into fear and concern among Christians as to how we should engage our Muslim neighbors. Evelyne Reisacher has marshaled the resources of the Fuller Seminary School of Intercultural Studies, together with a host of theologians, missiologists, and mission practitioners, as well as her own expertise in Islamic studies. The result is a comprehensive, informative, and concise resource that exposes the reader to the theological, social, political, and relational complexities involved in engaging adherents of the world’s second largest religion.
The three main parts of the book examine the regional, thematic, and missiological concerns that Islam presents to the world respectively. In part one, scholars from the United States, Europe, and the Middle-East discuss Islam in its varied regional and political permutations, as well as its effect on geo-political and cultural realities in these areas. From fundamentalist Salafism to western Muslims seeking to remake their faith in the 21st century, thorough, objective descriptions are provided the reader into how Islam in all its forms has helped shape the world.
Those regional realities help transition the reader to the thematic analyses in part two, where Cathy Hine, Gordon Nickel, and David Johnston provide a look into the various ways Islam is evolving with regard to women’s issues, religious diversity, and Sharia law. These descriptions, coupled with the regional realities described before, lay the foundation for sound missiological assessments, which are the subject of Part Three. Peacemaking initiatives, and conversational bridges to the Christian Gospel in the current context comprise the last section of this valuable resource.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Each contributing author speaks from rich experience refined not merely in the halls of academia, but also in the trenches of actual cross-cultural experience in the Muslim world. Pastors will find themselves indebted to the authors of this book in various ways. In the first place, the linear order of the book in which each part builds upon the parts that came before models the principle of understanding before speaking or acting. Truly Christ-centered, incarnational mission requires a right understanding of what is rather than what one merely perceives. Secondly, the reader should appreciate the acknowledgement throughout that whether one speaks of theology, sociology, or culture, Islam is anything but a monolith. Understanding its various expressions is essential to effective communication with our Muslim neighbors because it avoids oversimplified and generalized presumption that could cut short any meaningful conversation that leads to discussion of Jesus.
In the end, the authors do a more than adequate job of arming readers with the information necessary to cut through fears and broad negative stereotypes, in order to effectively bring the conversation to the most important question—Who is Jesus? In particular, pastors who avail themselves of the resources available here will be able to assuage their own fears and questions, and equip those they shepherd to truly love their Muslim neighbor.
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