The idea of using “Allah” as the word for God is controversial in some Christian circles. It’s also controversial in some Muslim circles, as believers in Malaysia can attest.
But for me, I think that we can use Allah as the word for God and not make a big fuss over it.
Now, I am not a degrees theologian. I am quite possibly theologically wrong in this regard. I am open to correction. And this should certainly be taken as my thoughts, not an official position of our organization. But the Baptist theologians seem to agree with me – see this.
Most Muslims I have encountered – and I will admit I have not encountered many, unlike people in, say, Frontiers — are just people who happen to be Muslims, usually nominal ones, just like most Christians are nominal Christians. They are mostly what their parents were. They have a few religious ideas often tied to family or friends or patriotism. And when they say Allah, they do not have a significant systematic theology worked out. They mean God.
Some will argue that because of what they think about God or how they approach him, they are not worshipping the same God as we are. But aside from the linked article above (which argues it thoroughly an academically) two biblical cases suggest to me it is possible.
The first is the Jews themselves. We worship the same God… but differently. Our understanding and approach is modified by our beliefs about Jesus and the result of salvation on the law. It’s not as if Jesus introduced a new God–just made possible a new approach.
Second is Mars Hill where Paul spoke to the people about their statue ’to an unknown God.’ he began to reveal who this God was to them. He equated their reference to God with God and then began making this unknown God known.
When a Muslim says Allah, who is indicated? A single all powerful all knowing all present God who made us and to whom in some way we must relate.
It’s not as if there is a clear construct in their mind that there are two distinct monotheistic gods. It’s more like we hear God described and say ’that is a false image of God’ and ’that’s not the God I worship’ and ’that God doesn’t exist.’
Wouldn’t it be much the same if someone told my kids some description of me and they said ’that’s not my dad’ and then ’I don’t known the person you’re describing’ and then ’that Justin doesn’t exist.’ They aren’t denying that I am alive. They are just saying someone has a very false idea about who I am. They are interacting with a deceptive perception rather than the real me, which explains why their attempts to interact with me go bad. But it’s not like there are two Justin’s who are wholly different–a me and a different me.
I agree that there is deception at work in the Non Christian perception of God whatever religion is embraced. But I think the best way forward is to understand the Muslim wants to worship the One God–not multiple
Gods as Hindus do, nor impersonal forces, nor karma, nor spirits etc–and we need to reveal to the Muslim who Allah–who God–really is, and how much God loves them.
Most people it seems to me have less of a problem with the idea of the existence of God and find the idea that he loves them so much he would
Incarnate in flesh and die for them to be the bigger challenge to accept.
Written on an iPhone while traveling, so forgive the typos.
It is chilling to think how air travel has empowered connection with places and peoples we want to get to while at the same time enabling us to leap right over places and peoples we have no wish to visit.
In ancient times you had to pass through many places to get to Rome or Beijing, and many were disciples ’as they were going.’
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old line about how if each believer won one person to Christ each year (or month, or whatever) within a short time the whole world would be saved.
Why does this approach never work? Because of the limits of our social circles. We presume that everyone in the world is connected to everyone else. In fact, we are only loosely connected, with some having many connections and others having few. Information passes through the strongly connected ‘hub’ people, and they serve as gateways. They can stop the flow of information if they desire.
Thus while it is theoretically true that everyone is connected, in fact the non Christian world is cut off from casual relationships with much of the Christian world. Thus the in the each one win one scenario, Christians would pretty rapidly run out of people to win if they stay within their existing social networks.
Mission is about leaving ones existing social circle, and intersecting a new one. We are more comfortable with the idea of winning friends and family… And less comfortable with the idea of seeking out complete strangers. It is these disconnects–when people avoid other types of people–that cause the break down of world evangelization. Intentionally intersecting a new social circle is hard work but work that must be done.
Should we invite our unsaved neighbors to come to church?
Should we encourage unsaved neighbors to read the Bible and try to obey it?
Should we encourage them to read the bible with their families? With their friends? With their unsaved friends?
Should we encourage them to pray and try to obey what scripture says and see what happens as a result?
Should we encourage them to do this weekly?
If they do this weekly with friends and family, does this make them a spiritual authority?
Should we do that? What are the possible results?
Now, what if we replace the words “unsaved neighbor” with “sinner”?
Now, what if we replace “sinner” with “greedy” or “murderers” or “tax collectors” or “diseases” or “adulterers” or “homosexuals” or “thieves”?
At what point in the above list when you change the words do you start to say “no, we should not do this?”
I am traveling to the Global Ephesus Consultation from the 10th to the 20th, and I don’t know how much I will be online during that time. If you have a pressing question send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If it starts with a big show, question it.
If it never grows up, question it.
If there is no cost, question it.
The Kingdom is a replacement, not an add-on or an upgrade.
FROM personal destiny
TO joining the mission of God
FROM individual performance
TO community participation
FROM single headship
TO plurality of elders
FROM come and see
TO go and tell
FROM success by numbers
TO priority on values and behaviors
FROM attraction church
TO apostolic church
FROM that’s good enough
TO excellence for the glory of God
TO truly significant
FROM personal improvement
TO global responsibility
Ephesians 6, structures that we struggle against:
Powerlessness: blindness, apathy, satisfaction, worldliness, things that neutralize power & activity.
Prisons: bondages that lock you in
Patterns of behavior that use you as fuel for cycles of relational damage, where people give and receive pain, preying on each other
Power structures, where people prey on others and multiply evil control, domination, oppression of many
Pervasive spiritual wickedness: cultural systems promoting long-term sustained evil behavior
Redemption & Resilience is about helping communities build spiritually healthy, redemptive disciplines, structures of justice, and pervasive spiritual holiness and righteousness.
Jesus never advocated military action. He was less concerned about political powers and more with spiritual powers.