by Don Little
Intervarsity Press Academic, 2015.
—Reviewed by Roy Oksnevad, director of Muslim Ministries, Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.
The body of Christian literature on Islam is growing and developing. Much of this is focused around evangelism, church-planting strategies, contextualization, and conversion theory. There is a dearth of literature that deals with post-conversion issues and in particular discipleship of believers from a Muslim background, reflecting the reality of so few conversions of Muslims to Christ. However, two specific events are fueling a change: a worldwide prayer movement for Muslims and the global reality of radical Islam’s carnage, particularly among Muslims. These two events have resulted in large movements to Christ, chronicled in David Garrison’s book, A Wind in the House of Islam. Don Little’s book could not come at a more propitious time.
Little, a practitioner/scholar, brings his unique blend of experience and research to this topic. The book is divided into two sections: foundational issues and practical matters. He lays down a solid foundation in the first five chapters, giving a comprehensive analysis of spiritual growth through the lens of scripture, contemporary approaches, and the Early Church. In chapter six, he does not shy away from the murky waters of contextualization giving an assessment of insider approaches. This, in my opinion, brings clarity to this contentious dispute and adds value to the book’s topic of discipleship. He defines discipleship with the breadth of a scholar and adds his own nuanced description of discipleship in chapter eight, which he calls “The Living Pyramid of Relational Communal Discipling.”
In part two of this book, Little brings the collective wisdom of seasoned disciplers to some of the most vexing challenges facing believers from a Muslim background. They include negotiating identity, persecution, finances, families, and dealing with expatriate disciplers. It was a delight to see a chapter dealing with demonic oppression and attacks, something most workers among Muslims have experienced. The tables and grafts taken from his initial research in this area gives the reader solid evidence of the reality of his arguments.
I get the impression that in Little’s effort to be comprehensive, he relies heavily upon works by other authors for much of the content in some of the chapters in the second part of the book. To be fair, he does clue the reader in by saying he will draw upon published writing and interviews (p. 167). Yet, at times, I felt like I was reading Little’s review of literature he has read on the subject, with a summation of what he quotes. He ends the section with his insights in a closing paragraph rather than gleaning the wisdom and integrating it with what he brings to the topic.
This book breaks new ground in the area of discipleship, providing practical advice through the lens of a scholar/practitioner. I highly recommend this book to everyone working with Muslims.
Check these titles:
Greenlee, David. 2013. Longing for Community: Church, Ummah, or Somewhere in Between? Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library.
Register, Ray G. 2009. Discipling Middle Eastern Believers. GlobalEdAdvancePress.
Schlorff, Samuel P. 1981. Discipleship in Islamic Society. Marseille, France: Ecole Radio Biblique.
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EMQ, Vol. 52, No. 2 pp. 217-219. Copyright © 2016 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.