Muslims and the Gospel: Bridging the Gap/Unveiling God: Contextualizing Christology for Islamic Culture/From the Straight Path to the Narrow Way: Journeys of Faith
Shenk, David W., International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Muslims and the Gospel: Bridging the Gap. By Roland E. Miller. Minneapolis: Lutheran Univ. Press, 2005. Pp. 452. Paperback $35.
Unveiling God: Contextualizing Christology for Islamic Culture. By Martin Parsons. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2005. Pp. 400. Paperback $29.99.
From the Straight Path to the Narrow Way: Journeys of Faith. Edited by David H. Greenlee. Waynesboro, Ga.: Authentic Media, 2006. Pp. 333. Paperback $19.99.
These three very dissimilar books have a common vision: bearing faithful witness to Jesus Christ among Muslims. They are an essential resource for those who want to understand the world of Muslims and all who are committed to faithfulness in bearing witness to Christ among Muslims.
Roland Miller's Muslims and the Gospel will occupy a central place on my reference shelf and is a "must read" for those committed to bearing witness among Muslims. The book is organized in three major parts: "The Context-Pivotal Muslim Views," "Bridges for the Crossing," and "The Task-Connecting Muslims and the Message."
The opening chapter, "Key Principles for Understanding Islam," moves beyond the familiar pillars of belief and duty to explore a dozen key themes that form the Muslim worldview. Two especially provocative themes Miller explores are "Success" and "Sense of Perfection." Miller writes as a friend of Muslims with an empathetic insightfulness that Muslims will appreciate.
The author brings to bear a lifetime of experience, as well as a lively acquaintance with the foundational literature (Qur'an, Hadith, Shari'a). He is conversant with centuries of theological debates among Muslims. Furthermore, he introduces a broad stream of Chrishan engagement with Muslims, from the earliest years (e.g., John of Damascus) to modern times (e.g., Henry and Mary Esther Otten). Here I would have appreciated reading more about persons whose roots have been Muslim and who are committed to bearing witness to salvation in Christ.
The final part is an exploration of practical steps for Christians committed to ministry among Muslims. Especially engaging is chapter 11, "The Profile of a Sharing Friend." In fact, "friend" is the theme that gives this fine book cohesion, with relevance for all of us. Although Miller is a thorough scholar, this book is fully accessible. The personal anecdotes enliven the chapters.
Martin Parsons's Unveiling God complements Miller's volume, for he attempts to develop a Christology that is contextual and understandable and that can be received within a Muslim worldview. He describes the Western church's creedal Christology as a development within the Hellenistic world, whereas New Testament Christology was honed within a Jewish/Semitic worldview. He focuses on Second-Temple Judaism, which in his view has continuities with Islam. He therefore believes that New Testament contextual Second-Temple Christology provides indicators of how to do Christology within a Muslim context. He demonstrates that in both communities the concept of God was bounded and extrinsic and argues that a relevant Christology must fit within that parameter.
Parsons also develops insights into Islamic theological development. He is in touch with Muslim interpretations of the Qur'an as it relates to God and revelation. He demonstrates a rich acquaintance with the Hadith literature that has relevance to Christology. …