31 July, 2014 Rob Scott
Hi Rob, Thanks for spending time with us today to talk about your book ‘Dear Abdullah’.
Why did you write the book?
Never one for a novel thought, I wrote the book because a friend suggested that it might be a good thing to do. He’d heard a talk I’d given to some Muslim people and thought that the way I tried to explain the Gospel was helpful, as well as addressing some of our Muslim friends’ concerns, issues and questions. I’d been unable to find a book which addresses the questions of Muslims who are more Western and educated, so I thought it would be worthwhile to write something which could help equip Christians to answer their Muslim friends, and be a book they could give to a Muslim friend too.
What is it about?
It tries to answer some genuine questions that Muslim people often have about our faith. For example, “How can Jesus be God?”, “If he’s God how can he die?”, “How can you trust a corrupted Bible?”, “Why is Christianity just practised on Sundays?” and a few more. Each answer usually traces out the Bible’s storyline rather than just giving one or two key verses. This is not only to provide a bigger answer, but also to help our Muslim friends to gain a wider understanding of what the Bible actually says. Quite rightly we want to talk to our Muslim friends about Jesus, but often we present Jesus without his context and so our Muslim friends can’t see why he is the climax and fulfilment of all God’s plans.
Who is it for?
Simply put, it’s for Christians who have Muslim friends and Muslims who have Christian friends. Hopefully it can help Christians have the confidence to talk with their Muslim friends about their objections to the Gospel, as well as be something which is gentle enough to give to a Muslim friend to read.
How has your experience with Muslims helped you write this book?
Each answer comes out of public and private discussions with Muslim people. All the questions and issues raised are from Muslim friends and most of the answers are things I have talked about with them. In so many ways, my Muslim friends have made me a better Christian. Not because they have shown me true religion, or anything like that, but because their questions and objections have driven me back to the Bible for answers. They ask questions which my atheist friends don’t, as they have a very different world view and therefore very different objections to the Gospel. Consequently, they have got me to understand and defend my faith in ways I hadn’t thought about before.
There’s lots in the press at the moment about the threat that Islam presents to British society; what’s your perspective on that?
First, don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers or the internet! There’s a lot of misinformation out there, either due to poor journalism or to people with an anti-Muslim agenda. Do check what you read or see and don’t jump to conclusions. The Taliban haven’t taken over Tower Hamlets yet, despite what recent documentaries and newspapers allege!
Secondly, remember God is control. Islam hasn’t caught God on the hop. He is working his purposes out, which may mean “Britain goes Islamic” or it may not. Just as God’s people needed to trust him in the face of Assyria and Babylon in Isaiah’s day, so do we.
Thirdly, it’s obvious, but we must remember that Muslim people are just that – people! They are made in God’s image and fallen, just like the rest of us. They are part of the world God loves and are the kinds of people Jesus has died for. They should be loved and witnessed to, as with anyone else. They are not a sub-human or beyond-God’s-love category.
Fourthly, don’t necessarily distinguish between Islam and other non-Christian systems. Islam as a system has some good and true stuff in it, and some false and bad stuff in it, as with any system. However, we often seem to put Islam in a special category of “threat”, when actually every non-Christian system is a threat to us in some way. Look how Western secularism has decimated the church. Yet, because we’ve grown used to this ideology we don’t see it as a threat to our faith (possibly because it allows us to be comfortable, private Christians??). Christians can get upset about a megamosque in Stratford, but not about the mega-shopping-complex that has now been built there. Surely both are, in some sense, temples to false gods, aren’t they?
There’s loads more to say on this, but I should probably stop there and get off my soap-box…
Rob’s book ‘Dear Abdullah’ is published by IVP and available here for £7.99, but you might be able to find it more cheaply on other websites.