Archive for January, 2010

What the Christians Say

January 18, 2010

“While using Allah is a non-issue for Arabic-speaking Christians, many non-Arabic-speaking Christians have difficulty separating the term from its meaning, as defined by Islamic teaching. If we do not use a new term, it is believed, Muslims will misunderstand the nature of God in the Bible. Christian advocates for using “Allah” among Muslims in non-Arabic-speaking lands counter that introducing foreign terms for God will create immense hurdles in communication, perhaps even guaranteeing that a truly indigenous church-planting movement will never occur. The task, they say, is not to discard such easily redeemable terms, but to fill them with biblical meaning. The more a Muslim’s understanding of Allah is informed by the Scriptures, the more biblical his or her theology of God will become.” – Encountering the World of Islam by Keith E. Swartley

“Some of the greatest successes in evangelizing Muslims come through efforts at what missiologists call contextualizing the Christian message. Missionaries seek to remove what advocates such as Blincoe call “Westernized ideas of what it means to follow Christ.” Of course, one of the most basic ways is to translate Scripture into the local language. Another would be to encourage new believers to worship Christ using their own forms of music. Southern Baptists working among the Muslim Kotokoli people of Togo, West Africa, have presented the Bible chronologically and orally as a story, a form of communication this group highly values.

Three decades ago, Phil Parshall and his missionary coworkers created communities of Christ-centered believers in Bangladesh by using acceptable religious language (such as “Allah” for God or other Islamic terms) and cultural forms (such as keeping the Muslim fast). Many Muslims eventually came to Christ.” – Doors Into Islam by Stan Guthrie (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/september9/1.34.html)

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What They Really Want

January 14, 2010

I came across an article in Christianity Today discussing the issue of Christians using the term Allah in Malaysia and Indonesia (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/august/14.15.html). Some interesting points:

  • A bible in Indonesian has recently been made available that doesn’t use Allah – Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation (KS-ILT). Only thing is that the NECF Malaysia are refusing to use it.
  • The Herald admits that the issue is not about linguistics but about freedom. Lawrence Andrew, their editor, claims “the country is moving away from the multireligious and multiethnic composition that negotiated independence from the British to a domination of one race over all”. So in other words, the reason they are insisting on using Allah is not because there isn’t a more appropriate term they could use, but because  they want to prove a point.
  • A bible translator is more candid. He says “using Allah in Indonesia is strategic” and that “The negative impact of not using it is that it would make it harder for a Muslim to pick up a Bible.