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FIRST-PERSON: What are we to do about Islam?

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–In the spring of 2006 1,000 British Muslims were polled. The results were alarming:

— 28 percent wanted to see Great Britain become an Islamic state

— 68 percent held that Brits who insult Islam should be arrested & prosecuted

— 25 percent had either never heard of the Holocaust or contended it never happened

— 45 percent held that 9/11 was a conspiracy between the U.S. & Israel (another 35 percent said “don’t know”)

The objective of many Muslims is to Islamicize the world. When a person or a country stands in the way of Islam’s efforts, these regard it as a “war on Islam.” This does not mean all Muslims hate Christians. For over a thousand years there have been many friendships between Muslims and Christians. However, Muslims who have befriended Christians have disregarded the Koran in the process, since it prohibits such friendships (Q 5:51). So what are Christians to do? I would like to suggest three initial responses by evangelicals to Islam.

— Understand that we stand in the way of Islam intentionally. We believe that Islam is a religion that promotes false teachings about God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a Gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell!” (Galatians 1:8). Since Islam’s message differs fundamentally from the Gospel, it is clear what Paul taught regarding the fate of Muhammad and those who propagate Islam. A few years later Paul wrote, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). It is the responsibility of evangelical Christians to promote the Gospel of Christ to the exclusion of the core messages of other religions — including Islam. In the eyes of Muslim Islamicists, this places evangelical Christians at war with Islam.

— Love Muslims! Jesus predicted the current dilemma. He warned that false prophets would come (Matthew 16:11-12) and that the day was likewise coming when religious zealots will kill Christians and think they are offering a service to God (John 16:2-4). It is natural to feel anger and hatred toward Muslims who want to kill us. On a national level, we can support politicians who are committed to hunting down and destroying terrorists, upholding free speech, and standing in the way of Muslim thugs who declare war on everything which does not allow Islam to dominate. On a personal level, Jesus tells us plainly what our response should be:

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. … But love your enemies, and do good … and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:27-35).

Jesus calls us to a “holy war” — the difference is that our holy war actually involves, well, holiness, and does not involve weapons and violence. These words of Jesus were not easy to hear for the early Christians who were persecuted and killed by Jewish and Roman authorities. It will not be easy for us either. However, this is a day when cooler heads must prevail and holiness is our goal.

— Know that God is bringing Muslims to Christ. A few years ago, Al-Jazeera reported that roughly six million Muslims are leaving Islam and becoming followers of Jesus every year in Africa. In 2005, roughly 250,000 Muslims converted to Christianity in Iran. Between 2003-2005, roughly 1 million Muslims converted to Christianity in Arab countries. Muslims are coming to Christ in North America, too, although not to the same extent as in Muslim countries. Ergun Caner came to North America in order to build Mosques and Islamicize the U.S. A persistent evangelical Christian led him to Christ. Ergun then led his entire family to Christ, with the exception of his father who disowned him. He is now the president of Liberty Theological Seminary and his brother Emir is the dean of The College of Southwestern.

Abdu Murray is an attorney in the Detroit area who became a Christian after wrestling with the preponderance of evidence in its favor. He is now active in sharing the Gospel with Muslims. Nabeel Qureshi was a committed Muslim whose father is a Muslim leader in Virginia. In 2005 Nabeel became a Christian. After being shaken by the evidence for the truth of Christianity, Nabeel traveled to Europe and Canada and met with Muslim leaders in search of answers to his questions. In both cases, he returned unsatisfied with the answers he was given. Wanting Islam to be true, Nabeel prayed that God would give him three dreams that would provide guidance. His prayer was answered. Against what Nabeel had hoped for, God confirmed the truth of Christianity to him. Nabeel is now in medical school and is simultaneously completing a master’s degree in Christian apologetics, and has already engaged in a public debate with a Muslim Imam.

In “Me and Becky,” Christian artist Chris Rice challenges believers to get out of their comfort zone. He sings about a girl who has a home on Abundant Life Blvd., butterflies in her yard and a fish on her car. She tears up in church and sings her harmonies loud. She reads her Bible, keeps a prayer journal, and is careful to give thanks before meals in restaurants. But is that enough?

There’s a world out there that we left behind

Full of souls as important as yours and mine.

Looks like a reckless road and a sacrifice

And I’m crazy scared it may cost our lives

But then I remember Jesus died

So come on Becky. Let’s go for a ride.

We may also remember Paul’s words: “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Now is the time for Christians to begin serious dialogue concerning how we may be used by God to get His glorious Gospel to Muslims in North America, a people whom God loves passionately.
Licona is director of apologetics and interfaith evangelism at the North American Mission Board.

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  • Mike Licona