Martin Accad is the author of a recent article published online in the Institute of Middle East Studies department of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. He begins the article sharing the way four different Muslims faced the claims of the Gospel and applied them to their lives. Each was unique to the extent they adopted or rejected traditional Christian norms in both expression and practice of the faith. This leads to his premise of diversity within the Muslim community worldwide and how Christians should be more flexible and dynamic in their approach to dialogue with Muslims, instead of being obstinate in standing for a certain position.
The ultimate goal was to show Jesus as the model for a person who used kerygma (proclamation) through a blended use of living and conversation, presence and self-giving. As Christians, Accad suggests we should follow his example toward more fruitful dialogues with the Muslims around us.
With over thirty years of experience living and working among Muslims, I do agree that Muslims react to the Gospel message in different ways. I’ve seen all four of the examples mentioned, but I cannot say that all four are true disciples of Christ. If they are, then they are not being discipled. In most cases, those who come to know Christ have no more need for the Quran or the ‘Isa (Jesus) of the Quran. They are hungry for the True Word of God, the Bible, and the Jesus who saves. They can still read the Bible, follow Christ and stay within their family setting.
There is a deceptive use of the word dialogue in this and many such articles, when as Christ followers, we should be focused on bearing witness to Christ. Yes, I can talk and have discussions with my Muslim friends about Jesus in the Quran and Bible, but none of that matters unless I lead them across the bridge to make a choice of what they will do with the message of Christ as Savior. Much of what Accad says is valid, but what does it mean for someone who wants to share the truth of the Gospel with Muslims? We are not here just to co-exist, but to witness to Muslims.
There will always be obstinate deadlocks between the teachings of Islam and Christianity. It’s a fact of life—they are different faith traditions with different ways to salvation. I am not here to convince Muslims that Christianity is true. Rather, I am here to live for and bear witness to Christ, the only way to God. And if a Muslim is true to his or her faith, they will be doing the same thing, bearing witness that Islam is the only way to paradise.
While Accad’s article might seem compelling or plausible for academic or secular purposes, ultimately as a believer in Christ, my goal is not dialogue but witness. Yes, we can study the historical origins of the Quran and how it talks about Jesus, but without using it to help us love Muslims enough to share Christ with them, it means nothing.
Carol B. Ghattas is an author and speaker on Islam and how to reach Muslims for Christ. Having served over 20 years in the Middle East and North Africa with her late husband, Dr. Raouf Ghattas, she co-authored with him A Christian Guide to the Qur’an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism. Find out more about her books and blog at lifeinexile.net.