Reading Muslims and Christians at the Table: Promoting Biblical Understanding Among North American Muslims is like drinking from the proverbial firehose. Bruce McDowell and Anees Zaka have packed their book with so much information that in many ways its probably more useful as a reference guide than as a manual to read from start to finish.
If you're intending to engage Muslims with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, however, you'll want to read the whole thing. Every topic that could be useful is addressed, including social faux pas, the Islamic conception of God, and how to talk to Muslims about their prophet, Muhammad. The goal is evangelization, but this isn't evangelization that is ethnocentric or inconsiderate.
The authors point out five main goals of North American Muslims, and stress in light of these the need for evangelism to this rapidly growing group. Islam is a religion and a political movement, and their intention is not simply to cohabit with other Americans, but to infiltrate and transform our society according to Islamic ideals.
Major sections of the book deal with Muslim history and theology, looking at Muhammad, the context in which he developed his religion, and the development of Muslim doctrine from a pastiche of animism and pseudo-Judeo-Christianity. Christian doctrines are looked at from a Muslim perspective, and differences elucidated.
Part 4 is the most practical for guiding believers in dialogue with Muslims. Chapters address the theological basis for witnessing to Muslims, help for reaching Muslims, guidelines for friendship evangelism, how to study the Bible with Muslims, etc. Insights range from how to conduct conversations to maintaining our convictions while not deliberately offending our Muslim friends.
An extensive glossary of Islamic terms in the back helps readers navigate a foreign vocabulary. Even more helpful is a bibliography that documents books on Islam by Muslims, books on Islam by non-Muslims, books on the Qur'an, Muhammad, and Sufism, books about good theological defenses against Muslim arguments, and much more.
Though it is packed with information, Muslims and Christians at the Table is an excellent resource for Christians who either have Muslim friends or simply want to be ready to witness to followers of Islam. You probably won't want to stop with this volume, but it's a great starting point, and one that will prepare laypeople to reach a growing group within the United States.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.