By Warren Larson
Recent research by LifeWay Research, under the leadership of Ed Stetzer, suggests that American views on Islam are very much polarized, particularly among pastors. What is most surprising is that while some protestant pastors see Islam in a more favorable light than before, evangelical pastors increasingly see Islam as a violent and dangerous faith. How will this affect people in the pew?
Immediately following the tragic events of 9-11, some evangelicals had a change of heart–at least temporarily. Church attendance went up, but according to Pew research, attitudes toward Muslims went down. Several evangelical books came out, warning about the danger of Islam, and in 2006 I was asked to review a few. My article, “Unveiling the Truth about Islam” was published in Christianity Today, and the two least helpful titles are revisited.
First, Secrets of the Koran: Revealing Insights into Islam’s Holy Book, suggests a real Muslim is by definition a violent one. The book selectively cites harsh Qur’anic verses, used by fanatical Wahabbi-Salafist Muslims, but ignores moderate passages and their interpretations. Second, From 911 to 666: The Convergence of Current Events, Biblical Prophecy and the Vision of Islam, was faulted most for presuming the anti-Christ would be a Muslim. Dates were even set for the Beast’s appearance–2014! I said, “Unfortunately, too many of these evangelical polemics are historically inaccurate, theologically misinformed, and missiologically misguided.” Like most people (including Muslims), evangelicals struggle in knowing how to respond. They are shocked, not only by Islamist brutality, but because hundreds of young people, born and bred in the West, are signing up for ISIS. Some recent reactions sound familiar.
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