“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Romans 1:15-17
The Qur’an affirms that the certain parts of the Bible (the Torah, the Psalms, and the gospels) are from God. However, Muslims are taught that the biblical texts have been corrupted. Thus, they see a need for the Qur’an and the Jesus it portrays, a “different” Jesus. Within the pages of the Qur’an this Jesus is referred to by his Arabic name, “Isa.” The Qur’an describes Isa as without fault, able to heal the sick, and able to deliver the afflicted from demonic possession….
It even teaches that Isa is alive in paradise. Some Christian missionaries are unwisely building their gospel witness upon what the Qur’an teaches about Isa (the false Jesus of the Koran) and using that as a tool to start conversations with Muslims. For some, Muslims need only to be taught that Isa is Jesus and that there is more to him than what’s written in the Qu’ran. This a dangerous tactic; by building upon the foundation of a false Jesus, these missionaries risk creating false converts.
It is a grave concern, therefore, that, International Mission Board President David Platt, reported to the messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention the testimony of a Muslim couple who had converted to Christianity via the assistance of a dream of “Isa” prior to their conversion. Such dreams and visions of “Isa” are nothing new. In October 2007, the blog, Catherine of Siena Institute, published the article Muslim Conversions to Christianity” written by Michael Fones. In the article, Fones answers the question, “Why Roman Catholics were not participating in a meeting on evangelization of Muslims.” To answer that question, Fones reprinted the majority of an article written by J. Dudley Woodbury, “professor of Islamic studies at the School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, who served in the Muslim world for many years,” that had been posted online in Christianity Today. What’s interesting about Fones article is not that it’s written by a Catholic. Roman Catholicism has practiced mysticism for hundreds of years. No, the most interesting is what compelled J. Dudley Woodbury to write his article. What were Woodbury’s conclusions, and why is David Platt, current President of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) perpetuating these fantastic stories?
Between the years 1997 and 2007 Fuller Theological Seminary gave 750 Muslims a comprehensive questionnaire intending to find out what had compelled them to “convert” to Christianity. J. Dudley Woodberry’s conclusions, as Michael Fone’s explains on his blog “demonstrates” the variety of ways that Muslims “are drawn to Christ” and “it provides a glimpse into some of the key means the Spirit of God is using to open Muslim hearts to the gospel.”
1. Seeing the faith:
“First, we can look at the experiences that most influenced Muslims. For example, respondents ranked the lifestyle of Christians as the most important influence in their decision to follow Christ. A North African former Sufi mystic noted with approval that there was no gap between the moral profession and the practice of Christians he saw. An Egyptian contrasted the love of a Christian group at an American university with the unloving treatment of Muslim students and faculty he encountered at a university in Medina. An Omani woman explained that Christians treat women as equals. Others noted loving Christian marriages. Some poor people said the expatriate Christian workers they knew had adopted, contrary to their expectations, a simple lifestyle, wearing local clothes and observing local customs of not eating pork, drinking alcohol, or touching those of the opposite sex.”
2. The power of God in answered prayers and healing:
“Like most of the factors that former Muslims list, experiences of God’s supernatural intervention often increase after Muslims decide to follow Christ. In North Africa, Muslim neighbors asked Christians to pray for a very sick daughter who then was healed. In Senegal, a Muslim marabout (spiritual leader) referred a patient to Christians when he was not able to bring healing. In Pakistan, after a pilgrimage to Mecca did not cure a disabled Shiite girl, she was healed following Christian prayer.”
3. Deliverance from demonic power:
“In northern Nigeria, a malam (what some might call a witchdoctor) used sorcery against a man who was considering following Jesus. The seeker became insane, and his extended family left him. But then he prayed that Christ would free him, and he was healed.”
It helps to note that a third of the 750-person sample consisted of folk Muslims, with a characteristic concern for power and blessings. It is also worth noting that the Jesus portrayed in the Qur’an is a prophet who heals lepers and the blind and raises the dead. Not surprisingly, many Muslims find him attractive. Of course, power and blessings do not constitute the final word for Muslims. The Bible also offers a theology of suffering, and many Muslims who follow Christ find that their faith is strengthened through trials.”
4. Dissatisfaction with the type of Islam they had experienced:
“They expressed unhappiness with the Qur’an, which they perceive as emphasizing God’s punishment more than his love (although the Qur’an says he loves those who love him [3:31]). As for Islam’s requirement that liturgical prayer should be in Arabic, a Javanese man asked, “Doesn’t an all-knowing God know Indonesian?” Others criticized folk Islam’s use of amulets and praying at the graves of dead saints.”
Some respondents decried Islamic militancy and the imposition of Islamic law, which they said is not able to transform hearts and society. This disillusionment is broad in the Muslim world.”
5. Spiritual truth in the Bible:
“Next in attraction for Muslims is the spiritual truth in the Bible. The Qur’an attests that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel (commonly understood as the New Testament) are from God. Even though Muslims are generally taught that these writings became corrupted, they often find them compelling reading and discover truth that they conclude must be from God. The Bible helped one Egyptian understand “the true character of God.” The Sermon on the Mount helped convince a Lebanese Muslim that he should follow the one who taught and exemplified these values.”
6. Subconscious influences:
“For the most part, respondents did not say that political or economic circumstances influenced their decisions. But it’s hard not to notice that Iranians, Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, and Algerians became more responsive after enduring Muslim political turmoil or attempts to impose Islamic law. Christian relief and development agencies try hard to guard against spiritually misusing their position as providers of desperately needed goods and services. But natural disasters in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Sahel region inevitably put Muslims in contact with Christians trying to follow Jesus. It is no surprise that some of these Muslims also choose to follow Christ.
The magical, mystical, desire to live “like Christians, false notions of how prayer was answered, healings, deliverance from demons, answer to disillusionment with Islam, “scriptural” truths, and/or influenced by vain imaginations does not “convert” anyone to Christ. Salvation does not come by any means possible. In God’s great love, he declared his love through the offering of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the God-man. The Son of God, Jesus Christ bore the full weight of the Wrath of God. Those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ receive the imputed righteousness of Christ.