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4 Stars Out Of 5
A practical guide for reaching Muslims for Christ
November 16, 2013
Having read a number of books relating to Muslim evangelism, I found Thabiti Anyabwile's work both personal and practical. Writing as a former Muslim, the author is able to share insight with regard to how Muslims think, as well as what and why they believe. The personal anecdotes keep the content on a low-shelf level, while suggesting that it doesn't take an expert in Islamic thought to witness to one's Muslim friends and neighbors. The reader will be disappointed if he is looking for a detailed explanation of Islamic doctrine. But if one's expectations are to find help in allaying fears and taking risks to speak a word for Christ, there is much to be commended here. Anyabwile tries to shatter the stereotypes associated with one's initial contacts with a Muslim and present an approach to sharing one's faith in as natural a way as possible. His chapter of the necessity of being filled with the Holy Spirit, wherein he cites the example of Paul, is excellent. I feel as if he waited too long to deal with some of the questions that many of us have in our quest to better understand Islam, such as the tenets of sharia law, the thinking behind Islamic jihad, and the relationship of the Nation of Islam to traditional Islam. Given the brevity of the book, it is a very good starting place. In fact, I hope to purchase multiple copies to distribute to our church members. But if one is looking for a more comprehensive volume through which to better understand Islam and how to effectively approach Muslims with the Gospel then I would recommend Geisler and Saleed's more extensive treatment, "Answering Islam"
Author Thabiti Anyabwile, a former Muslim converted to Christianity, draws from his own experiences as he writes about reaching Muslims for Christ in The Gospel for Muslims.
Over and over people have asked him how to share the gospel with Muslims, or expressed feelings of inadequacy. His response: "As a Christian you already know everything you need to know to effectively share the good news of Jesus Christ with Muslim people. The same message that saves usâ€”the gospelâ€”is the same message that will eternally change our Muslim neighbors and friends."
Beyond that first point, Thabiti calls Christians to take to heart the words of Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." It is not just for some, but for "EVERYONE." Furthermore, "it is the power of God." Not just a weak power, or mere human strength, but the power of an all-powerful God.
Keeping these things in mind, Thabiti admonishes believers to be confident in their message of the good news of Christ. Additionally, his book focuses on taking the "offensive" rather than the "defensive" as one witnesses. In other words, his goal is not to instruct one in apologetics, "defending what one believes," (though that has its place) but to focus on evangelism, "getting the gospel out to others."
The book is organized in two parts: (1.) "The Gospel"â€”covering basic issues that need to be addressed such as fallen humanity and the deity of Christ, and (2.) "As You Witness"â€”offering practical tips, guidelines, and examples to help Christians as they witness.
Applause is in order for Thabiti's simple yet profound reminder that Muslims are people just like everyone else. Many Americans, particularly after 9/11, live in fear of Muslims, and Christians are not immune to this fear. It is refreshing to see a Christian author proclaim some of their positive attributes and customs, which he has observed firsthand, while still maintaining the need to share the hope that can only be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
His discussion of the reliability of the Bible is another portion of great insight for the average Christian. One doesn't have to talk with many Muslims before hearing "The Bible has contradictions," or "The Bible has changes." I've heard this myself, and I am sure many others have as well. Thabiti gives clear but astute ways of debunking these myths in a manner that will resonate with Muslims, specifically focusing on the fact that even the Quran confirms the validity of many books in the Bible.
As a whole, Thabiti's book offers many valuable insights that are worth reading. However, Chapter 5: "Response: There's Repentance and Faith_and then There Is Repentance and Faith!" is a mixed bag. I wholeheartedly agree with his statement, "To be effective in evangelism, we need to scrape the confusing and misleading barnacles off the Bible's teaching about repentance and faith." I have heard many Christians, who proclaim that salvation is by "grace alone," give different definitions of "repentance." I think I could write a list a mile long just with all their different definitions.
Thabiti attempts to give a clear biblical response to the definition of faith and repentance, but falls short in this writer's opinion. Some lines are golden, but other phrases muddy the waters, and, if not carefully read, convey the idea that salvation includes good works, rather than good works being a byproduct of salvation.
Still, as the Muslim population grows in the US, this book offers valuable resources for engaging Muslims in a Christlike manner, and I am certainly glad I didn't stop at Chapter 5.
[In adherence to Federal Trade Commission guidelines (16 CFR, Part 255), this book was received as a free review copy from Moody Publishers.]
This book is a unique book because it is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the Gospel and what we believe about the gospel. Using quotes from the Quran, Thabiti shows where we can use the gospel to Muslims that we are separated from God because of our sins. We sin against a Holy God who demands payment for our sins by the shedding of blood. One of the offenses Muslims have against Christianity is that Jesus suffered as an innocent man. Muslims cannot fathom that God will allow an innocent man to die for mankind's sin because, according to Muslims, they sin against themselves. The rest of the first half talks about Jesus being fully God and fully man, that he died for our sins and was raised to life. The final chapter in part one talks about the only response to the gospel: faith and repentance.
The second part of the book deals our witness to Muslims. The first thing stressed is the best thing to know when witnessing to Muslims, in fact, witnessing in general, is to know the gospel. We need to filled with the Spirit which means to have the Holy Spirit control us as we witness to Muslims. We need to trust the Bible. Using the Bible is one of the best things to be used when witnessing. Muslims will say that the Bible has contraditions, yet the Quran said the Psalms, Torah, and even gospels are revelation from God. We need to trust the Bible as the revelation of God to man and it is the inspired Word of God. Other ways we can witness to Muslims is use the local church, even with it's faults and there are many, be hospitable and witness as you suffer. One way that will get a Muslims attention is how your have joy in God in the midst of your suffering.
I was not sure what to expect when I picked up Thabiti Anyabwile's The Gospel For Muslims. I think I expected apologetics. I wanted ammunition for good Christian - Muslim arguments. That expectation had always kept me from reading the book, actually. I didn't feel it would be very practical. I live and serve in rural Missouri. There are no Muslims in my town, and any passing through probably don't stop. I assumed that this book might be practical for someone else, but not for me.
I was wrong. Oh, was I ever wrong.
Let me say from the start that this is not an apologetics book. Anyabwile makes that clear from the introduction. The Gospel is the Gospel, thus there does not need to be a special presentation for this group or that group.
I once had the privilege to hear Anyabwile preach. His gentle demeanor impressed me, especially how it stands in sharp contrast to his own claims of once being an angry, racist, hateful man. He discusses his past a bit in this book. He refers to his anger, his conversion to Islam, and his conversion to Christianity. If nothing else, he is perfectly qualified to speak to the issue of evangelism to Muslims and is a testimony worth remembering.
Part one of this book focuses on the Gospel message itself: Who is God,? What is sin? Who is Jesus and what did He do? With each point, there is common ground, but Anyabwile is careful to point out the irreconcilable differences. These are the points that must be made.
The second part of the book is about the witness. Here, Anyabwile emphasizes those things that we too often forget. He reminds the witness to lean on the Holy Spirit, use the Bible, practice hospitality, and yes, even be ready to suffer for the name of Jesus.
Though the book contains very practical insight for sharing the Gospel with Muslims, I found that it is equally relevant for sharing the Gospel with any religious person. Far too often, I view witnessing to a person of another faith as a necessary battle. The only method considered is well-rehearsed arguments and counter-arguments. Too often, what is left out is the Gospel itself, both in word and spirit. This book reminds me that I need to focus more on presenting the Good News of Christ than I do on winning an argument and that by a Gospel-centered life, I can have opportunities for such conversations.
The information is helpful, but the gentle, humble spirit of Thabiti Anyabwile's teaching is essential. I recommend this book side by side with J. Mack Stiles' Marks of the Messenger, as must reads for evangelism.