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Christians and Muslims: Confronting fourteen centuries of ambition, sorrow, and bad faith

Christian History 74 (Vol XXI No 2). “Christians & Muslims: Confronting fourteen centuries of ambition, sorrow, and bad faith.”

Perhaps no other Christian magazine is as poised to offer as complete a picture of the historical conflict between Islam and Christianity as Christian History. In a few brief and readable articles this issue summarizes the rise and beliefs of Islam in direct relation to the Church.

Since the purpose and memory of the Crusades is such a point of contention in this day, it is appropriate that many articles discuss it. Professor Paul Crawford writes that there has been a collective amnesia on the part of the West, especially in the Church, as to what the wars known as the Crusades were all about. Only in recent decades has the Islamic world increasingly attached guilt to the West as aggressors in the Crusades; wars which were started, and eventually won, by Muslims.1 Ignoring history, many in the Church have accepted this guilt. “But if Christians are allowed to wage war when attacked, and if Christians believe that their religion has a right to exist outside the sphere of Islamic law,2 perhaps modern Christians should take a second look at the crusades and their historical context, in which Christianity was under near constant pressure from the Islamic world from the seventh century to the seventeenth” (“A Deadly Give and Take,” p. 24).

Mateen A. Elass explains that jihad means more than warfare, but that the sword is central to Islam in “Four Jihads.” “Imperial Evasion” by Andrew F. Walls relates the evangelistic opportunity and blunder that occurred during the time of European imperialism when most of the Islamic world came under the rule of “Christian” nations. Also discussed by articles in this issue are the differences of belief between Islam and Christianity and stories of witnesses of Jesus to Muslims in history. The issue closes with an interview with Fuller Seminary professor J. Dudley Woodberry asking how Muslims view the West today and what can be done to bring “Justice and Peace” to the rising tide of Islamic militancy.

Those who are purporting the notion that Islam is a “peaceful” religion will find little to like in this issue of Christian History. Possible side-effects from reading this issue may include intense thirst for resources that go deeper than the well-written but brief articles found there. As always, this issue of Christian History is certainly going to get you thinking, imparting a desire to know more about the history of the Church of Jesus Christ in the world.

Reviewed by Raul Mock

Issue 74 of Christian History may be found [as of May 1, 2014] on this page:


1 Muslims stressing the importance of Jerusalem is also a rather recent development, since historically less significance was attached to the city because it is the third holiest to Islam.

2 For more about how oppressive “toleration” of Christians has been historically, read Christian History editor Elesha Coffman’s article “Secrets of Islam’s Success,” pages 16-18 in issue 74.


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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Winter 2003

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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