The Challenge of Islam to Christians, by David Pawson

I attended the first two of a series of three lent talks by David Pawson last year on this subject, and so was keen to get the book which he said at the time was in preparation.

Pawson believes he has a prophecy from God about the rise and eventual dominance of Islam in this country, and explains here the reasons for his belief. In doing so, he gives a lot of information on Islam, contrasting it with Christianity and Judaism, and encourages Christians to respond positively to the situation.

Pawson explains the requirements of the Islamic faith, and shows why it can seem more appealing to someone who is exploring the issue of how to get to God. In contrast to the hard-to-swallow Christian ideas of virgin birth, trinity, God coming to earth as a man, and redemption, Islam seems pretty straightforward: there's a divine God who will judge you based on whether you've done more good than bad, and there is a set of rules which, if you stick to them, will get you to paradise. However, as he points out, you can't pick a religion to follow just on the basis of "it suits me".

Islam emerges as quite a different religion from Christianity, and it is clear that they are not concerned with the same God: it is not the case that Christians and Muslims alike are worshipping the same God but in different ways. One of the things he emphasises is that our God is a God of Love - and can be so precisely because the structure of the trinity allows for there to be someone to love; Allah, by contrast, has ninety-nine names and titles attributed to him, but "love" is not one of them. He appears as remote, rather than being intimately involved in the lives of his followers, and so while prayers may be said to him, "he is not expected to answer in the form of a verbal reply. It is a one-way conversation" (p123).

The Quran is also radically different from the Bible: while the latter has lots of historical (and verifiable) information, records of what God did and said, and prophesies (most of which have come true), the Quran is largely revelation and exhortations, and relatively little narrative.

Pawson also points out the way that Islam and Christianity are treated differently in this country, with people careful about offending Muslims but seemingly not bothered about blasphemy. This apparent lack of respect for Christianity is one of the reasons why he feels that Islam is likely to take over as the dominant religion in the UK.

He writes well, but a bit like with Garrison Keillor, I found that I was wishing I could hear him reading it to me: he is a very good speaker. I'm not sure if there is an audio version of this book per se, although tapes of the talks he did are available so it would be worth trying to get hold of them. Additionally, I'm inclined to listen to his tapes about Habakkuk, which he cites as being specifically relevant to the situation Christians now find themselves in.

Completed : 28-Jan-2004

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