Sunday, 31 October 2010


I wrote the following review for the Methodist Theological Journal The Epworth Review it is appearing in this quarter's edition which is out tomorrow

Patrick Sookhdeo

The Challenge of Islam to the Church and its Mission

(Issac Publishing 2009 £? Paperback)


ISBN 978-09787141-5-4

There is a debate in contemporary Evangelicalism on the attitudes that should be taken towards inter faith encounter and dialogue, particularly with Muslims. This book is a polemic for one side of this argument. As someone who is involved in friendships with Muslims this was not an easy book for me to read because Sookhdheo predominantly speaks of Muslims impersonally and negatively. The book, despite assertions to the contrary in the final paragraph, promotes fear and discourages people from taking the step of seeking dialogical relationships with Muslims. Prominent evangelical institutions and individuals who have sought to do so are criticised.

Sookhdheo claims to engage Islam as an advocate for the persecuted church in Muslim contexts. However the book often reads more as an attempt to co-opt the vulnerability of the persecuted church for an agenda that appears heavily influenced by right wing North American fundamentalist Christianity. There is a need to bring the experience of the persecuted church to the table of dialogue and through recent evangelical involvement in Christian-Muslim dialogue initiatives in the UK this has begun to happen with some success.

There is a powerful and noble evangelical missionary tradition of serious and loving Christian engagement and sharing with Islam and Muslims, that includes the likes of Constance Padwick and Kenneth Cragg. Little of this tradition is behind The Challenge of Islam, which appears to draw more upon Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilisations’ thesis for its inspiration than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Anyone interested in how evangelical Christians might help contribute to responding positively and creatively to the challenge of Islam to the church in the 21st century would do better to pick up Roland E Miller’s Muslims and the Gospel or Richard Sudworth’s Distinctly Welcoming.