ISLAM & #PewResearch video offers a look inside the beliefs & attitudes of Muslims in No. America

Video: Being Muslim in the U.S.

This video offers a look inside the beliefs and attitudes of Muslims in America; it features data from Pew Research Center’s 2017 survey, as well as the personal stories of Muslims from across the United States.

For more information, read the survey report: “U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to Believe in the American Dream.

OUTREACH & Europe’s churches find new spirit from unexpected source: Muslim refugees

by Elisabeth Braw, Contributor and Sara Miller Llana, Staff writer, CSMonitor, February 10, 2016. BROBY, SWEDEN; AND VIENNA

On a recent Sunday in Broby in southern Sweden, some 100 people settled in for morning service at their Lutheran church. There was nothing unusual about the liturgy – apart from the fact that some 20 worshipers were wearing headphones to hear a simultaneous translation. They were asylum seekers from Muslim countries.

Their presence has grown increasingly customary at this 1930s-era, peach-colored church in the past half year. In fact, as the population of asylum seekers has grown in this town of 3,000, so too has a new curiosity about Christianity.

Reverend Dan Sarkar, the local vicar here, says it started last summer when a Syrian man turned up at their doors. “He said, ‘I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore. Can you tell me about what it’s like to be a Christian?,’” Rev. Sarkar recalls. “Then an Iranian turned up asking about it, too, and since then there has been a steady stream of new people.” Sarkar decided to launch a weekly baptism class for the newcomers, to which he later added a weekly Christian education class. Most attend both.

As many fear an influx of Islam into Europe, Christianity is also getting an unexpected – if anecdotal – boost. “The humanitarian and charitable efforts on behalf of refugees have given new meaning to both Catholic and Protestant churches in Europe,” says Andrew Chesnut, an expert on global Christianity at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Read more at … http://m.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2016/0210/Europe-s-churches-find-new-spirit-from-unexpected-source-Muslim-refugees

RELIGION & Here’s What Evangelical Experts on Missions & Muslims Think of Wheaton’s ‘Same Go d’ Debate

by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today, 1/22/16.

Nearly two dozen evangelical experts on missions and Muslims have compiled their thoughts on how the answer affects Muslim missions, why it’s a bad question to begin with, and propose better questions to ask instead.

A 32-page, special edition of the Occasional Bulletin from the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) seeks to constructively contribute to the highly publicized dispute over whether Wheaton College should discipline professor Larycia Hawkins for stating in a Facebook post that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” [Arab evangelical scholars weighed in last week.]…

Robert Priest, a mission and anthropology professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and current EMS president, has “watched with interest” the unfolding Wheaton-Hawkins debate because, for evangelicals worldwide, “what Wheaton does affects us all.”

“As I’ve observed the unfolding drama, I’ve had concerns over the way Wheaton has framed the issues, over the repercussions of this for Christian witness, and over the failure to include missiologists and missionaries as interlocutors,” wrote Priest. “That is, for most evangelicals in America, our encounter with people who are Muslim is relatively recent, relatively superficial, and all-too-often infected by American culture-war impulses.

“The one category of American evangelical that has long nurtured close relationships with people who are Muslim is missionaries and mission professors (missiologists)—many of them Wheaton graduates,” he continued. “However, these individuals, who represent the heart of evangelical gospel concern, and who represent a unique mix of professional expertise and accumulated wisdom acquired over decades of study and ministry experience, do not appear to have been adequately consulted.”

… For Priest, it was an opportunity to ask 21 missiologists and missionaries: “What are the missiological implications of affirming, or denying, that Muslims and Christians worship the same God?”

Their answers—which intentionally do not comment on the Wheaton-Hawkins situation directly—were published by EMS this month. (Most respondents are evangelicals, while one is Eastern Orthodox and one is Roman Catholic.)

In short: the answer is both simple and complicated.

“What other God is there?” asked Miriam Adeney, a world Christian studies professor at Seattle Pacific University. “In all the universe, there is only one God.”

Paul Martindale, a professor of Islamic studies and cross-cultural ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, agreed. “There is only one, true, creator God. The Bible is clear there is no other God.”

However, the experts agree that there are fundamental differences in the way that Christians and Muslims understand God.

“In contrast to Buddhism and Confucianism, for example, the Abrahamic faiths affirm God’s mercy expressed through his gifts in nature, human community, and scriptural wisdom and ethics and general guidance,” wrote Adeney. “Yet such mercy is a pale shadow of the shocking mercy that propelled Jesus to earth and to the cross. That radical mercy we call grace. If indeed the incarnation and death of Jesus are essential expressions of God’s nature, then Muslim and Christian understandings of God are truly very different.”

Acknowledging those differences is key, wrote David Cashin, an intercultural and Islamic studies professor at Columbia International University. “If there are no differences, then there is nothing to be learned and nothing to convert to.”

Understanding the differences—having a solid theology—must come before missiology, wrote Fred Farrokh, an international trainer with Global Initiative: Reaching Muslim Peoples, who was raised as a Muslim. “If we conform our theology to a pre-determined missiology, then we get the paradigm backward. Error will ensue, and we actually become incapable of missionally assisting those whom we yearn to help—in this case Muslims.”

Equating the way Christianity and Islam view God opens up other questions, wrote Sarita Gallagher, a religion professor at George Fox University. “For example, if Allah is God, then is the Islamic religion from God? Did Yahweh speak to Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh through the angel Gabriel in the Cave of Hira in 610 C.E.? If so, does the Quran contain new revelations from God?”

Different understandings of God might be compared to different understandings of Jesus, wrote Mark Hausfeld, president of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and professor of urban and Islamic studies.

“Is the Jesus of the Church of Latter Day Saints’ Book of Mormon and Doctrines and Covenants the same Jesus of the Bible? How about the Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation of the New Testament?” he wrote. “Both books spell the name of Jesus the same, but the person and work of Jesus, as He [is] known in the Bible, is heretical. The use of the word Jesus is not wrong, but the context of the word Jesus is corrupted by the error of the context and meaning that defines the Person and work of Jesus as revealed in the Bible.”

The same is true for God, he said. “The word God is not misleading in itself, but the context of the Qur‘an defines a different God in nature and character.”

Practically speaking, though, it can be easier to reach out to Muslims if there is some common ground.

“Conversion studies have shown that the greater the degree of congruence between Islam and Christianity that is perceived by the Muslim inquirer, the more likely it is that he or she will seriously consider Christianity as a viable alternative to Islam,” Martindale wrote. If differences between the two are emphasized, the barrier to conversion grows.

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/january/do-muslims-christians-worship-same-god-wheaton-hawkins-ems.html?paging=off

ISLAM & Engaging Your Muslim Neighbors

Commemtary by Dr. Whitesel:  I am a big fan of Seedbed.com ‘s “7-minute Seminary.”  These are short videa snippets of wisdom from my colleagues. Here is an especially poignant seven minute video with ideas about how to help meet the needs of your Muslim neighbors.

Engaging Your Muslim Neighbors by Matthew Friedman, 6/17/15

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & 6 Factors In Muslims Following Jesus. #ZwemerInstitute

From the Archives: Dr. Robert Douglas, Director of the Zwemer Institute, (1984-1996) presented the following at a Muslim Awareness Conference in 1994.

What are some of the factors that are resulting in the seeds being planted in the Muslim world and signs of a harvest beginning to emerge?

  1. Number one is God’s timing. Remember the passage in Acts 18 where Paul is in Corinth and is discouraged. The Lord said, “Don’t be afraid; don’t be silent.” Literally He says, “Quit being afraid, Paul. I have many people in this city.” Well, he didn’t have many church members there at the time. So, it seems what the Lord was saying is, “Paul, I got here before you. Thanks for finally showing up, brother. And I have been at work here in social, political, cultural, economic and familial things. I have created some heart longings out there, and the folks may not know what they are longing for and how to articulate the question if you ask them, but don’t give up. Don’t be silent. Press ahead and take advantage of the responsiveness I have created.”
  1. Where Muslims are coming to faith, you typically find some sort of contextualized strategies. Obviously, contextualization gets widely debated in Christian mission circles, and it means different things to different people, but at one level we are all contextualists. If you believe the Bible ought to be in Arabic for Arabs, then that’s contextualization. Translation is contextualization. So the question is not contextualization but how much is appropriate and effective. How can we make radio and tracts more meaningful within specific cultures. And even the same materials will not necessarily work with urban populations that work in the villages. We need to remove unnecessary barriers in communicating the gospel.
  1. Quality of life is a factor in whether or not our message will be received. Just as food varies in different cultures, what is considered acceptable behavior is not necessarily the same as we would recognize it in America. Holiness, godliness and piety is to a degree culturally defined. For example, Muslims are people of prayer. Do they ever see us pray? Our form is to go into our closet, shut the door and speak to the Father in private. There are Muslims who have said of humanitarian workers in their midst that they are wonderful people who serve and help us; it is too bad they are not going to heaven since they are not praying people. But when our piety is lived out in a way that can be seen, it becomes a factor in bringing inquiry and drawing people to faith.
  1. Where Muslims are being won in large numbers, people have discovered ways to encourage national converts to stay in contact with their kin. Sometimes it is difficult for that to happen, but too often in the past our strategies have been that of extraction of a new believer from his community and remove any potential influence and impact. Yes, we are concerned for their safety, but our perception of conversion is too individualistic. In Muslim cultures the priority is family and community, and many places the gospel is taking root in a communal context.

Read more at … http://www.zwemercenter.com/6-factors-in-muslims-following-jesus/

RELIGION & Americans’ Feelings About Major Religious Groups

republicans democrats feelings towards muslimsBY MICHAEL LIPKA, Pew Research, 1/28/15.

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/01/29/the-political-divide-on-views-toward-muslims-and-islam/

RELIGION & Harassment: Muslims & Christians Most Harassed Religions Globally #PewResearch #Chart

FIGURE Number of Countries Where Religious Groups Were Harassed by YearRead more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/religious-violence-pew-survey_n_4596169.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

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