These are some notes and videos from our Friday Lenten Study Series at S. Francis Anglican Church in Dallas on the topic of "Our Mission to Muslims."
We started off with an oldie, but goodie: an article from the newspaper in St. Louis about an Episcopal priest who decided to take up the practice of Islam for Lent back in 2011. It begins: "The Rev. Steve Lawler should have just given up chocolate or television for Lent. Instead, Lawler, of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Ferguson, decided to adopt the rituals of Islam for 40 days to gain a deeper understanding of the faith. On Friday, he faced being defrocked if he continued in those endeavors."
Click here to read the whole story.
Lawler was trying out Islam in a limited fashion as a Lenten gimmick. I guess he gave it up because he wasn't disciplined by his bishop. Not so with Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest in Seattle was also more a practicing Muslim for a little over a year and seemed far more into it than Lawler. She was given an ultimatum in 2008 by her bishop to repent and was eventually defrocked when she did not.
We also viewed an episode of Anglican Unscripted in which Father Argo was interviewed. It was important to get a first-hand perspective from someone on the front lines. The interview we watched is below.
Father Argo also did a follow up interview on Anglican Unscripted, which I have put below.
Then we looked at the following hand-out.
Witnessing to Muslims
Remember the context. Islam is a false religion that could be called a Christian heresy. It has many of the same cast of characters, but false ideas about things like what God is like, who Jesus is, how salvation works, etc.
All of us are called to defend the faith, but we are also called to confront the errors of false religion. Think of it like a sports team. We all get to play defense (apologetics—explaining the faith), but sometimes we are chosen to play offense (to go on the attack). The gospel is, by definition, offensive. Consider it a privilege when you have an opportunity to talk about Jesus with a Muslim.
Not all Muslims are the same. There are 175 sects of Islam. There are 4 schools of jurisprudence within just the largest, Sunni Islam. And a Sunni from one part of the world will be different from a Sunni from another. Get to know them; listen to them.
They view the Qu’ran like we view the Sacrament, not like we view the Bible. It is deemed nearly divine itself, and is in many ways distant to them. Muhammad got more violent as he got older, and that’s unfortunate because the later verses trump the earlier ones.
Muslims like to talk about religion. They are looking to communicate their beliefs. Don’t seek commonality. And keep it on religion and not on politics. Always be loving, but also be sure of yourself and what you believe. Ask blunt and provocative questions, like “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God; what do you think?” or “I believe Jesus’ death on the cross atoned for our sins; what do you think?” or “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead; what do you think?” Let them answer and be the skeptic. Sit back and look for weakness in their arguments. They are often circular.
Talk about Jesus, not about Muhammad. Let Jesus get bigger, and their prophet get smaller. They will be interested in Jesus and respect him already. They believe he heals and will let you pray for them in Jesus’ name!
Do what God is doing. Take advantage of opportunities the Lord brings into your life. Pray and fast and confess your sins. People are not converted without humility and love.
Do not be discouraged when you do not see results. These things usually happen slowly. We are a part of the Holy Spirit's work of challenging assumptions, creating doubts, declaring truth, and instilling faith.