Between Naivety and Hostility

I’ll admit this title is a little opaque but it is worth going beyond it and the strap line of ‘Uncovering the best Christian responses to Islam in Britain’ is a bit more helpful in explaining what it’s actually about. What we have is a very useful and readable text that considers the engagement between British Christians and British Muslims, looks at the British Muslim community, offers Christian approaches and insights and provides a very helpful contextual resource. The authors cover a broad range of evangelical perspectives and are practitioners engaged with British Islam in a variety of capacities including evangelism, education, community building, youth work, theological reflection and church planting.

The ‘naivety’ of the title alludes to some who uncritically accept a political correctness that assumes there is no challenge or risk to Christianity from Islam in Britain; the hostility is the other extreme whereby Islam and Muslims are opposed by some Christians in Britain, often from the sub Christian perspective of what happens to Christians in Muslim countries should help us determine what happens to Muslims in Britain. The resulting book is far from a bland middle ground but rather a series of chapters where superficial or extreme responses to various issues are rejected and a more profoundly Christian response articulated. The editors allow the various chapter authors to disagree with each other at times, and so the reader sifts the material to come to a measured understanding. In that way the text is helpfully undogmatic, but offers evidence and argument to help Christians reach an informed opinion.

Too often official Church responses and university academics dominate Christian- Muslim thinking. Here institutional Church programmes, conferences and inter-faith councils are largely ignored. While a bit more recognition of these areas would have been helpful, the focus is on practical engagement and the theological resources that underpin this, an often underrepresented aspect. Consequently this may be a more helpful text than many for Christians in a local church looking for better understanding as to how they might respond to the arrival or growth of Islam in their community.

This book will challenge those who think the only Christian response to Islam is welcome and understanding; and equally challenge those Christians who wish to oppose Islam and Muslims in every aspect of life and society.