Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rick Love’s Review of “A Deadly Misunderstanding”

51eR6cxKEkL__SL160_ A few readers of Circumpolar have asked me what I think of A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide by Mark D. Siljander.  I haven’t read the book.  But Rick Love has and he’s way cooler than me (and you).  Here is an excerpt from his review:

A Deadly Misunderstanding chronicles a dramatic account of Mark Siljander’s journey into bridge-building between Christians and Muslims. If you are interested in peacemaking in general or Christian-Muslim relations in particular, this is a book worth reading. It will deepen your hope for meaningful encounters with Muslims. But beware: this book will stir up your theological categories!…

…In another place Siljander actually does seem to affirm a “new ecumenism and syncretism.” According to Siljander, “Islam and Christianity were not simply overlapping ideas. They were not merely compatible. In the most central sense, they were one continuum” (pg 122).

I find this quote theologically confusing. Yes, there is an overlapping of ideas and there is compatibility in many areas. But a continuum? In what way is there a continuum? Muslims would affirm a continuum. They would argue that Islam builds upon Christianity and thus is the final and authoritative revelation to humankind. I can’t imagine that Siljander believes that.

So what does he mean? I am not sure. But it seems to be an unfortunate
overstatement, undermining the supremacy of Christ and the distinctiveness of the Gospel. I hope some of these statements will be deleted from the next edition of this book.

The reader of this review may be asking: “Ok, Rick, is this a good book or a bad book? Do you like it or not?”

When it comes to reading books (listening to sermons or enjoying a conversation with my friends for that matter), I apply what Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess 5:21 NASB). Please note: there is a lot of good in this book! We need to read books like this that “push the envelope” and think “outside the boundaries,” especially in the area of Christian-Muslim relations.

So read this book with an open heart and discerning mind … and let God change your attitude and refine your approach to blessing Muslims!

Read the entire review (3 pages PDF).

See also http://www.adeadlymisunderstanding.com/

2 comments:

AT said...

thank you for posting, that was helpful. When I read the book a few months ago after being loaned it by a friend I was a bit skeptical at first. I did find myself captivated by the stories and open doors, but also theologically confused at some of Siljander's conclusions. Specifically the section where he suggests that scripture never teach that conversion of the lost is something that believers should seek.
Overall, I'm glad I read it, but would also caution any reader to use extreme discernment.

Jacob S. Wells said...

Thank you for your thoughtful review. Without having read the book, I'm not sure I want to read it now except to know why people are attacking Siljander's position. Attempting to build bridges of understanding is usually a good thing, but I fear in Siljander's case he has just given the ultra right ammunition for Islamaphobia and has cast shadows on the pure hearts of those who seek to reach out in love with the message of the gospel to Muslims.