Christian evangelism doesn’t mean turning Muslims into Christians!

The article reprinted in part below is one that should be read by every Christian who believes in evangelizing the Muslim world.  Evangelical church-leader and scholar, Nabeeh Abbassi, is evidently a great believer in evangelism. Even so, he does not believe that this is a matter of turning Muslims into Christians.

Abbassi makes a distinction between religious affiliation and spiritual transformation. The former is simply a classification of tribal identity. The latter is the work of God! The two are very distinct! Unfortunately though these two are always being confused, which is why religious faith so readily degenerates into tribalism. Tribalism leads to arrogance, imperialism, discrimination and violence, whereas the Spirit of God takes us in the opposite direction!

Father Dave

Christians and Muslims in fellowship at the Arrahman Mosque in Kingsgrove (Sydney)
Christians and Muslims in fellowship at the Arrahman Mosque in Kingsgrove (Sydney)

from: The Christian Examiner

Evangelical scholar says no need for Muslims to become ‘Christians’

by Joni B. Hannigan 14 May, 2015

In a place where Christians and Muslims increasingly have faced hardships due to radical Islamists who are bent on the eradication of Christians [ie. Jordan], Abbassi said it is especially important to remember the way families are identified – and the culture – when reaching out with the Gospel message.

“I don’t think we are commanded to change people to become Christians,” Abbassi explained. “I think we are commanded to reconcile people to God through Jesus Christ — and that happens in their heart — this is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Abbassi, who is also founder of Arab Center for Training and Consulting Services (ACCTS), an official NGO serving refugees in the Middle East, said a careful presentation is important for Easterners who are a “tribal and social” people, lest problems lead to violence.

“We don’t want to bring calamity and war. We want people to reconcile to God without rioting,” Abbassi said. “We know this is not easy and there is a price for people following Him.

“What I am trying to say is that we are not to encourage people to become ‘Christians,'” Abbassi said, with the understanding that “as Arabs, this means you were born in a Christian home and part of that family or that clan.”

People “don’t have to call themselves Christians” to change the culture, Abbassi said. “They need to have hope, joy and peace with God through Jesus Christ to be able to impact their society.”

It’s a spiritual work, not an “identity change on paper,” he said. “We want to see people improve their love with God through Jesus Christ and that’s the Good News.”

Read the full article here:

5 thoughts on “Christian evangelism doesn’t mean turning Muslims into Christians!”

  1. So I have a couple of very sincere questions.

    1) While I am willing to accept the terminology that “Christian” and “Muslim” are tribal affiliations, I don’t believe Muslims really do, considering that across the Muslim world Muslims who decide to follow Jesus are still disowned by their families and rejected by their societies. Clearly, it is more than simply a tribal designation to them or, if not, then following Jesus in and of itself is enough to invalidate a Muslim’s tribal affiliation in the eyes of the vast majority of Muslims around the world. How do you address this?

    2) While my sincere and honest hope is that we are able to bring people to Jesus without riots, persecution, or violence (I never condone violence done in the name of evangelism – this comment is primarily about violence done to those who decide to follow Jesus), did not Jesus himself say that his presence would bring the sword? That it would turn father against son, mother against daughter, that one’s enemies would be the members of his or her own house? Assuming that Jesus was not advocating his followers do violence against their family members (a fairly safe bet) but was instead a prediction of the inevitability of violence against those who chose to follow him, even those following him who adhere strictly to loving their neighbors as themselves, turning the other cheek and refusing to judge lest they themselves be judged, do you really believe that it is possible to bring people to Jesus in a culture that is quite often hostile to the idea of following Jesus and which views doing so as a betrayal of their tribal loyalty without violence being directed toward those who choose to follow Jesus?

  2. Hi Chris,

    Good questions! I respond as follows:

    Firstly, I think your reference to ‘simply a tribal designation’ suggests that you may underestimate the significance of tribalism. In my opinion, tribalism is at the heart of every war and act of communal violence.

    Secondly, you may benefit from reading up on those who follow Isa (as Jesus is referred to within Islam) while not breaking with the broader Muslim community. This article from ‘Christianty Today’, for example, references this significant global phenomenon.

    Thirdly, Jesus did indeed predict persecution for those who follow Him. The key is simply to make sure we are being persecuted for the right reasons. Ironically perhaps, I find myself regularly targeted, slandered and even threatened, and it is generally because of my support for members of the Islamic community!

  3. They saved money so that they could make their families lives betetr when they went back. I don’t think it was a question for them of going or staying; the question most likely was where can I do the most good for my family?

  4. . I go by the name C.L Edwards I left Islam 10 months ago, and since then I have been witesnsing and debating Muslims online, I also have appeared on the show Jesus or Muhammad on ABN a number of times. Thanks for profiling the site! God bless

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