Title

Towards a Comprehensive Approach to Islam in the United States

Date of Award

3-27-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Practical Theology

First Advisor

Adam Francisco

Abstract

The starting point of this research has been to have a clear understanding of the seven different approaches Christian missiologists have developed in an attempt to reach Muslims and to identify the context in which each approach can be utilized for the effective communication of the Gospel to the Muslims in the United States. In the process of the study, missiological literature produced by the proponents of each approach, exegesis of selected scriptural texts; and archival literatures related to the topics will be analyzed for clearer understanding of each approach.

The research followed a mixed method incorporating the didactic study of the seven approaches followed by inductive field research. Within the missiological framework, archival resources are inquired to investigate the theories behind the seven approaches followed by field interviews that determine their practical application. The goal of the research is to help missiologists and Churches to become acquainted with relevant missiological tools that help them in approaching Islam in a relevant way. That is, by explaining and analyzing the seven approaches, Churches would be more informed how the different approaches work in a given American Muslim context. Consequently, missionaries can develop a comprehensive approach that would enable them to witness to Muslims with confidence.

The overarching question for this study is how can one understand and determine the relevant approach to share the Gospel with Muslims of different backgrounds in an American context. To provide answers to this question, seven questions will be researched: (1) What is the polemical approach? What are its presuppositions and how does this approach affect Christian mission to Muslims? (2) What are the premises and contributions of apologetics to Christian mission to Muslims? (3) What is the significance of confessional comparison of doctrine in communicating the Gospel with Muslims? (4) How do the advocates of the charismatic approach defend and use this approach in proclaiming the Good News to Muslims? (5) Why was the friendship approach developed and what is its impact on Muslim Evangelism? (6) What are the pros and cons of Gospel contextualization in Muslim evangelism? (7) What is the basis for the holistic approach to Muslims and its implication for Christian mission?

This study unpacked the seven different approaches to Islam, and has determined that all approaches to Islam have their own strength and theological risks. This has in tum led to the conclusion that no approach is adequate by itself. Therefore, it is the challenge of missiology to develop a strategy that utilizes all the seven approaches: polemical, apologetic, confessional comparison, charismatic, friendship, contextual, and the holistic approach in a comprehensive fashion. In the analysis, both archival resources and field research have been utilized to draw conclusions and recommendations for further research.

Comments

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