Introduction Fall 2018

Within the American context, both Islam as a religion and Muslim adherents continue to garner a lion’s share of the public’s attention. Given this religious backdrop, American evangelicals have tended to respond to Islam in a myriad of ways. On the one hand, some evangelicals have responded through expressions of fear and condemnation. It is a response, which views Islam as terroristic, violent and a threat to “Western values.” This type of response tends to demonize Islam as a religion and Muslims as a people. Yet another reaction dismissed as naïve is the view that Islam a peaceful religion and has nothing to do with terrorism. Together these views have produced confusion and paralysis among ordinary Christians. As a result, many evangelicals have opted for a posture of silence. In this case, the most urgent and pressing questions among evangelicals remain dormant—relegated to conversations over dinner with friends or following a board meeting with particular constituencies. Sadly, evangelicals with opposing perspectives more often than not, talk about rather than to each other.

It has been accurately noted that Christian responses to Islam and Muslims in the post-9/11 world represent nothing less than “a struggle within Christianity itself, a struggle for the soul of the Christian faith.” How individual Christians, congregations and the larger church engage with their Muslim neighbors and with Islam generally has tremendous import for the mission of Christ’s church and for Christian witness worldwide. This is as true in Jos, Nigeria as it is in Ghent, Belgium or Beirut, Lebanon, and increasingly as relevant in North American communities, large and small.

The following articles address a wide range of topics including the plurality of “Islams,” the meanings of “jihad,” and the roots of Islamophobia in the United States.