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Between Naivety and Hostility: Uncovering the Best Christian Responses to Islam in Britain

An excellent study guide for churches working in a multi-faith-cum-multi-culture environment, and even better for churches which are not

Steve Bell and Colin Chapman (eds)
Authentic Media, Milton Keynes, 316pp, £8.99.
Reviewer: Alec Gilmore

Between naivetyAn excellent, thoughtful, practical and informative book at a modest price by 20 experienced Christian scholars and practitioners, all of whom have lived and worked among Muslims, at home and abroad, concluding that when all is said and done perhaps the simplest approach is the best — to remember that Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to love our neighbour, energetically to practice it and encourage others to do the same.

To get there, however, calls for patience and understanding but these writers know the score and their stories, comments and attitudes point us in the right direction. Key words are witness, service and dialogue, listening and learning, and if the best way to allay the fears of many people is to learn more about Islam, to relate to Muslims on a personal level and to steer a course between fear and hostility, every chapter demonstrates that that is by no means impossible. 

Part One tells us where to begin. Part Two addresses crucial issues, including the need to think of Muslims (every bit as varied as Christians) rather than Islam (no more homogeneous than Christianity); ‘Brent is not Leicester is not Bradford’.

Part Three offers examples of positive relationships, citing ‘integral mission’ in Birmingham, much of it among children and young people as they share experiences, air common problems and learn from one another; a story of changed lives rather than changed faiths, and all in a context where differences regarding truth, lying and deception are considered against a background of similar 19th century divisions between Catholics and Protestants and Bonhoeffer’s comments in the last chapter of Ethics on ‘Telling the Truth’.

An excellent study guide for churches working in a Multi-Faith-cum-Multi-Culture environment, and even better for churches which are not.

The Revd Alec Gilmore is a Baptist minister

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