Muslim Evangelism (Part Two)
In part one of this brief two part series on Muslim evangelism, I argued that friendship evangelism was not an effective or a biblical missiological strategy for reaching Muslims. I took my cues from a book penned by Roland Müller entitled The Messenger The Message The Community. After critiquing the aforementioned missiological strategy in his book, Müller goes on to offer an approach that he calls teacher-based evangelism. His approach is nothing remarkably new but often times these approaches are the best. In the world of ideas where “fresh perspectives” abound, Müller’s approach carries an air of biblical simplicity with it that any person faithfully engaging a Muslim can appreciate.
So what is teacher-based evangelism? Teacher-based evangelism is the practice of imparting Gospel truths by teaching the Bible to those who do not believe. Now certainly, the method of teaching will look different as we shift to various Muslim cultures, but the essence remains the same. The evangelism is based in teaching the word of God to people in order to share the Gospel.
Teacher-based evangelism finds itself in the middling ground of evangelistic methods. Müller is helpful in showing us where teacher-based evangelism might fall on a continuum of evangelistic methods below:
Perhaps the most important aspect that this model of evangelism brings to the table is its ability to help keep the conversation focused on the topic of the Gospel. It enables the evangelist to share all the key elements of the gospel over and over again through various biblical passages. This is important because anyone who has ever engaged a Muslim in a protracted conversation can testify to the fact that continually trying to answer Muslim objections via apologetics usually leads nowhere. Müller explains why this is in stating, “The strength of the Christian argument is logic; the strength of the Muslim argument is ultimately submission to what he considers the will of God, whether it makes logical sense or not. Seldom is there a winner” (p. 28).
It is very hard for western missionaries (myself very much included) to wrap our head around why our seemingly airtight logical arguments hold no weight with our Muslim friends and neighbors. The reason is because they have been trained to think outside of the western intellectual structure where logic and rhetoric are heavily valued. The answer to this problem is to continually bring the Gospel to the forefront of the conversation by teaching it over and over again.
1 Corinthians chapters 1 and 2 are very useful in understanding where the power of this evangelistic method lies. It lies in the power of God through the preaching/teaching of the Cross. Consider Paul’s words:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom… and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1, 4-5)
The best way to reach your Muslim neighbor is to continually be teaching them the “folly” of the Cross. It is through this message that the power of God is revealed and proclaimed to those who do not know him.
Müller also highlights two particular points that seem to be true of teacher-based evangelists. The first is that these evangelists, “had the reputation of being spiritual people” (p.24). They were people steeped in the word of God and in prayer. They knew their scriptures well. This is a reminder not only to missionaries but all Christians that in order to be used as effective tool in the hands of a mighty God we must love the Scriptures and they must take priority in our life. This reality must be evident to those in a Muslim culture to the point that they know you to be a wise person on spiritual matters, despite any disagreements (somewhat of a paradox).
The second point is that these evangelists always and without exception met their Muslim friends with a deliberate agenda to talk about the Gospel. Müller notes that if the Muslim presented an objection, it was answered honestly and candidly but that this objection ended with an invitation to look into the Christian faith. So if a Muslim objects about the Bible being corrupted, the question was answered but it also ended with an invitation to study the history of the Bible. Again, the teaching always came back to the Gospel/“Christian agenda.”
If it isn’t already obvious, I have found Müller’s book to be extremely helpful in understanding effective methods of Muslim evangelism and it comes to you with my highest recommendation. This concept of teacher-based evangelism allows us to be upfront and faithful to the Gospel without being deliberately provocative. As such, I commend it to you as you deal with Muslims in whatever cultural setting you find yourself.