by Carl Medearis
Medearis focuses on how to build quality relationships with Muslims.
Bethany House, 11400 Hampshire Ave. S., Bloomington, MN 55438, 2008, 208 pages, $13.99.
—Reviewed by Scott Hedley, a research associate in Asia.
Although I have read many books on Islam, this book was refreshingly different. Here, Medearis focuses on how to build quality relationships with Muslims. Because I have been living in Muslim societies for the past twelve years in Asia, this book is tremendously helpful to me as I try to build friendships with Muslims. Medearis has organized this resource into seven chapters: “Before the Pillars—the Foundation of Islam,” “The Teachings of Islam: The Articles and Pillars of Faith,” “Islam’s Holy Book: What the Quran Says about Jesus,” “Women and Islam: Protecting the Purity of Women,” “Common Questions: A Knowledgeable Response,” “Jesus Meets Jihad: Overcoming Fear with Love,” “Standing on the Bridge: Muslims Who Follow Jesus,” and “Love Your Neighbor: Practical Ways to Reach Out to Muslims.”
When I began reading this book, I wasn’t sure if the author would support the insider paradigm (meaning Muslims can become followers of Christ without becoming Christians) or not. This perspective is more clearly explained by Rick Brown (2008), Kevin Higgins (2004, 2006) and John Travis (1998). Medearis does not suggest that Muslims should become Christians, noting, “…Jesus is what they (and we) need. Not another religion” (p.57) and “Any method or way to come to him is legitimate if the seeker actually finds Christ as the answer” (p.102). Medearis rightly suggests that we discuss the idea of entering the kingdom of hope rather than converting to Christianity (p. 95). In chapter 7, Medearis defends why he believes Muslims can legitimately follow Christ without becoming Christians.
He rightly notes that the Quran is quite possibly the greatest inroad we have to reach the hearts of our Muslim friends (p. 66). Although some Christians might oppose this approach and consider it blasphemous, using the Quran in our conversations and friendship-building with Muslims is another key aspect of the insider paradigm. Medearis provides seven pages of helpful references in the Quran to the life of Christ (pp. 70-77). Finally, he provides a great way to answer Muslims who ask, “Are you a Christian?” This book is the most practical book I have ever read on the subject of building quality friendships with Muslims. I recommend it to any field practitioner.
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