The truth of the gospel does not change, though our presentation of it may. We know our center. We teach it, preach it, and live it.
As for attitudes, there is only one that should characterize the activities of Christian seminaries and leaders—the mind of Christ. It is an attitude of confidence and quietness that is the effect of righteousness. It is grace-filled security in knowing our identity as children of God through the work of Christ. It is humility in service to God and boldness in ministry to people.
—Kevin W. Mannoia, Haggard School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University
The similarities as well as the differences are shown are shown to demonstrate the value of bridges as well as the need for interpretation. Likewise, the varieties of those who call themselves Muslims are explained—from the various orthodox/orthoprax Muslims to the folk Muslims whose faith and practice are mixed with indigenous animistic elements and the occult. This shows the various felt needs that the gospel must be seen to address if it is to be understood as relevant.
—Dudley Woodberry, Fuller Seminary
At Southwestern Seminary, we subscribe in general to the following principles:
(1) Islam contradicts all the basic Christian doctrines; but even though we disagree with Muslims, we must respect their beliefs.
(2) There are some commonalities between Islam and Christianity. This is the starting point for sharing the gospel.
(3) Our main purpose as Christians is to preach the gospel. We cannot change people. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
(4) We must be bold in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus, but we have to avoid insulting Muslims or the beliefs of other religions.
(5) We have to create dialogues with Muslims, but not debates.
(6) We have to be deeply rooted in our faith and to respond to their objections with love and by using the Scriptures when possible.
(7) We have to be acquainted with their culture, religion, and way of thinking so we can develop a healthy relationship with them.
(8) We have to recognize the obstacles that confront those who may convert to Christianity—obstacles that most of us do not face.
—Samuel Shahid, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
We encourage students to avoid arguments with unbelievers. Arguments tend to have winners and losers, neither of which helps the cause of Christ.
Second, rather than attempt to defeat lost people, we strive to identify with them. We tell them that we don't think we're better just because we know the gospel, but that we also are sinners who deserve the wrath of God, and we just wanted to share the good news of Christ with them.
Third, we've found it quite useful to be polite. Rather than begin the conversation by telling them the truth about what we believe, we invite lost people to tell us what they believe. Most people, even if they don't take religion too seriously, will likely respond to an invitation to share their point of view. As they talk about what they believe, we look for problems and inconsistencies in their worldview. We gently point these out to them, hoping that eventually our questions will reveal to them that their worldview is inadequate.
—Michael Wittmer, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
Evangelicals have been slow to engage in the issue of creative dialogue with people of other faiths while still remaining true to their evangelical conviction. This is why I wrote the book Christianity and the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. It models how evangelicals can effectively engage in this issue.
—Timothy C. Tennent, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Our philosophy of ministry toward people outside the faith is one of respect, tolerance (in the sense of honoring their God-given right to believe as they choose), and a desire to witness in a biblical manner. This means to be intentional in using God-given opportunities to speak and act the truth of God's love into their lives.
In the U.S., many Muslims, especially refugees, recent immigrants, and foreign students, have special needs: learning English, finding jobs, becoming oriented to American life, and having American friends. Christians in America can help meet these needs.
Around the world, there are many opportunities to give a holistic witness to Jesus Christ. We encourage seminary students to seek God's leading concerning these opportunities and provide training for those who wish to be this kind of witness.
—Malcolm Hartnell, Phoenix Seminary
Randy Frame, a freelance writer and editor, also serves as Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Palmer Seminary.