BOOK REVIEW – Missiological Models in Ministry to Muslims

A study from experience

Sam Schlorff served as AWM missiologist from 1978 to 1995. His book, Missiological Models in Ministry to Muslims is a valuable addition to the debate surrounding models of contextualisation and how the Qur’an may be used in evangelism to Muslims. Schlorff considers the work to be:

‘a historical and theological study of the theology of mission that has motivated Protestant evangelical ministry to Muslims over the past two centuries.’

This well-researched and reasonably academic book opens with a historical overview of Protestant missionary approaches to using the Qur’an, beginning with the early 19th Century. This is a useful summary which shows the background to the debate, with critical evaluations of the pros and cons of each approach. Schlorff’s critique feels fair and well thought out, whilst being unapologetically Evangelical and with Scripture as a crucial yardstick.

A new model

This ethos continues as the author theologically evaluates Islam and then critiques several models of contextualisation and their starting points. Schlorff strongly rejects syncretism and thus, having considered several other approaches, presents an alternative which he calls the ‘betrothal model’. His argument is outworked throughout the book, systematically building on the conclusions of each proceeding chapters, presenting a convincing case.

Technical, but concise

Missiological Models is a great book for those interested in thinking theologically about their approaches in ministry to Muslims. The material is sometimes technical, but concise enough to remain interesting whilst still advancing the debate. Schlorff doesn’t presume to have all the answers (or the space to be able to be exhaustive), but gives a loose framework in which to begin to think about them. His critical approach is academically robust, whilst the graceful way he deals with his opponents is a fantastic example of well-considered theological study. Highly recommended.

‘It must be emphasised that the theological evaluation of religions is not just an academic exercise that may be dispensed with; it is crucial to the way the missionary community, and the young church being raised up, relates to its culture of ministry.’

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