Christians in Muslim countries
Posted by Iwan Russell Jones on 20 October 2010, 8:59
TUESDAY 19 OCTOBER – There are all kinds of conversations going on here about the relationship of Christianity with other religions, especially Islam. This is a particularly sensitive issue and the conference organisers are keen to ensure that nothing is said or done that makes life more difficult for Christians who are living in Muslim countries.
Last night I had an extraordinary conversation with an American guy who told me that there’s a growing movement in the Islamic world for people who have come to faith in Jesus to remain cultural Muslims and to continue praying at their mosques. To my surprise he expressed strong support for this development: he argued that it is wrong to expect any new believer to abandon their culture and adopt an utterly alien culture, yet this is exactly what Western Christians have required of Muslim converts.
He likened the situation to that described in the Book of Acts, where there was a bitter debate among the early Jewish Christians about whether new Gentile converts had to adopt the practices of Judaism in order to be accepted into the Church. The matter was finally settled at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) where Paul established the principle that because the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too, there was no need whatsoever for them to abandon their cultures and to become culturally Jewish. In the same way, he said, Muslim converts should not be expected to abandon their culture.
My conversation partner has strong connections with the Muslim world and he assured me – despite my incredulity – that this is really happening in a number of places. And he also told me that he knows of Christians who are so opposed to this development that they have reported the matter to local imams, leading in some cases to beatings and even death.
I have absolutely no way of verifying any of this. But I do know that other delegates far more knowledgeable than me are having very similar conversations – and are taking the matter very seriously.