With all that is going on in our world today, especially in what we would call the religious area, though all areas are, specifically referring to the growth of the greatest threat to Christianity and certainly to the terrorists who are emerging more and more from within the religion of Islam, Christians in the West and especially in North America need to be alert, with eyes opened, and informed minds as to why Islam is such a danger and threat to Christianity. Though Timothy George wrote this book several years ago, I had not read it until recently as a result of reading the second book by Peter Hammond reviewed below. I have appreciated George’s stand on numerous issues and his leadership among evangelical Christians. I was intrigued by the title. On the surface it sounds as though it is a trick title, which it really is not; however, the answer needs to be carefully considered. I agree with Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World, “A must for Christians seeking to understand recent events and face the future with a new confidence in the efficacy of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Several years ago I was asked to address a think tank kind of conference made up of political leaders, local leaders, and church leaders. My topic was “the state of Islam in America.” As I began my presentation I made the statement at the outset, ‘please understand that the god of Islam is not the God of Christianity.’ I actually was surprised at some of the non-verbal reactions to that statement.
The answer to George’s question is yes God is the father of Muhammad, as he is the God of every man for Muhammad was only a man. But, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not the god of Islam nor Muhammad’s religion; yet as George clearly points out, there are many similarities between the two. This is definitely a moment in time to read this book, especially in light of all the recent terrorist related events.
George explains how he came to be interested in the Islamic religion and why it is extremely important for us to understand it. Daily we are hearing words such as: jihad, Islam, Taliban, Allah, Quran, fatwa, imam, ummah, Ramadan. The question that we must ask is George’s question, “How are we to understand Islam in light of the Christian faith?” Growing out of that George poses and then throughout the book, seeks to respond with other questions such as: “How can we talk about Jesus with our Muslim neighbors?” (assuming we talk with them). “Do we worship the same God they worship?” “What do Muslims think about Jesus?” “Which beliefs do we share in common with Muslims and where do we differ from them?” “How should we think and pray about the Christian mission to Muslims?” And then, “If Islam is a “good and peaceful religion as many have suggested-why are so many Christian persecuted and killed in Muslim countries because of their faith?”
In this book George attempts to answer these questions which I believe he has done clearly and successfully. Even though Islam is a false religion from the Christian perspective, we must realize that not all Muslims deserve angry condemnation. We do need to dialogue with them and build bridges in order to share the good news of the Kingdom with them. (I am presently reading a recent book entitled They Must be Stopped by Brigitte Gabriel in which, growing out of her first hand experience having lived in Lebanon, the author challenges us to stop the Jihadist terrorists and their growing threat to the Western world and especially Christianity. She along with George agree that there are many peace loving Muslims but within that religion there is a growing number of extremist who are even at war within Islam with those Muslims who are not terrorists or extremists.).
Each of the seven chapters makes significant contribution to the overall purpose but especially do I appreciate chapter 5, ‘Jesus with Freckles.’ In that chapter George deals evenly and balanced with the challenge of tolerance and intolerance. He points that there is a right kind and wrong kind of tolerance and we must carefully distinguish and discern the difference. He also distinguishes the difference between the Islamic religion and Christianity which is a redemptive religion. Though Islam in its Koran and other religious writings contain many references to Jesus, it does so only to see him as a prophet, a man like Muhammad. This is an important book for Christians, especially Christian leaders to read.
What sparked my interest in finally reading George’s book was having read another book that came to my attention, Slavery, Terrorism, and Islam by Peter Hammond. Seeing the forward by George Grant, author of Blood of the Moon, which we sent to each PCA pastor years ago when it was published, having read an article given to me by Hammond on the strategy of Islam, I found this book intriguing and strategic.
It would be difficult to make a choice between Hammond’s or George’s book. There are similarities and enough differences that I recommend reading both. Hammond has more of an historical survey even including a chapter on how the reformers, Luther and Calvin, dealt with Islam in their day.
While I am not a prophet, when I see what is happening in Europe and Great Britain and the Netherlands for example regarding Islam and its Sharia law emphasis, unless we wake up and see a great turning to the Lord, I believe Europe today will describe America by 2020. As Hammond says regarding Europe, it is committing spiritual suicide by turning away from Christianity and that is the pattern in our own country. Hammond, a South African missionary in Africa says: “If we truly want to uproot the support bases of such terrorism (referring the Islamafacists) and implode the regimes that persecute Christians, we need to get really serious about the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ…The only reason why the devil is so often winning is because the Church is so seldom fighting.”
Hammond’s development of the pattern of Islam as it grows in various countries is alarming and should serve as a call to arms, especially as we see the Islamic faith,especially with its extreme Jihadists so present in our own country and read about in England’s struggle with Sharia law.
This book contains a helpful glossary of Islamic terms as well as a who’s who list in Islam today. We must not be ignorant concerning this religion that has America, Israel, and Christianity as its enemy targets. One side note-as I have studied Islam, especially in recent years, I have found that if we can understand the Muslim faith, it will challenge us to see that Christianity is really a world and life view, a kingdom religion. As a matter of fact, Islam may be more successful at seeing their religion as a world and life view religion than most Christians. Personal friends who are actively engaged in ministry to the Muslims tell me that the Reformed faith, with its kingdom world and life view perspective is the most effective means of dialogue and witnessing to the Muslims. These books will better instruct us to that end. The question we face is, “will we rise to the challenge and opportunity?”