“Is it possible to adopt a grace response to Muslims without being either theologically liberal or politically naïve?”
Steve Bell wrote this book in order to answer that very question. He is concerned about the fearful and alarmist reactions among Christians to the Muslim presence in the West. The book suggests we have overlooked some unexpected positives about their presence. The prayer of St Francis of Assisi, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love;…grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.” Gives the agenda for the book. So by god’s grace we can bring GRACE to Muslim people.
The book is composed of seven chapters on the theme GRACE. Thus not surprisingly we find nearly all using Grace in their titles: Grace or Naivety?, Grace calling, Defining Grace, Grace finds a Muslim. Grace for the dark side. Echoes of grace, Grace in East and West, Grace seeking Muslims. Very helpfully the book includes a glossary of terms and helps for pronunciation of the Arabic words. The footnotes given provide the reader with a great source of valuable information.
The book is also the author’s biography of his own journey in ministry and experiences among Muslims – from the UK to Egypt, back to the UK and travels to other Muslim countries. Steve shared openly and honestly with us how God changed his heart. The early chapters demonstrated God’s grace to him, in calling him, and sending him to Egypt. Living in a different country and culture helped him appreciate how much he needed God’s grace himself. God’s grace in Ahmed’s life and his testimony is recounted in another chapter. The difficult topic of the dark side of Islam, politicised Islam, terrorism, atrocities, and focus of Al-Qaeda are not overlooked. I found the list of questions on page 51, which Muslims find hard to answer, very enlightening. The Echoes of Grace is a discussion chapter on the author’s Biblical reflections in the Qur’an and some of the core differences.
A great deal of material is purposefully included to challenge our attitudes toward Muslims. The writer would encourage us also to discover God’s heart for Muslims as he did. It is a warm refreshing read about a sensitive topic as well as informative and challenging. A great book to read in your house groups, and discuss at your church.
Elsie Maxwell served in North Africa and the UK with AWM, taught at LST and is a tutor for the distance learning courses on Islam