Colin Chapman is one of the most important Protestant specialists in Islam.
In a recent post on my blog (in Romanian) I was reblogging from a friend of mine who announced the publication of an Assemblies of God position document on the recent debate over the correct translation of the divine names, especially that of ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ into languages spoken in Islamic contexts.
The problem, of course is the statement in the Kor’an that God has no sons. See Qur’an, sura 17:111 – “Praise be to GOD, who has never begotten a son, nor does He have a partner in His kingship, nor does He need any ally out of weakness”. Yet, what Muslims and Christians mean by ‘son’ and ‘father’ are two very different things, which very few Christians and Muslims understand.
Given the complexities of this topic, I have asked for the opinion of my friend Rev. Colin Chapman, one of the most important Christian specialists in Islam. Here is his response, which he kindly allowed me to publish here. I am grateful to him for his permission. I hope this could help dispel the confusion and prejudice that dominates the minds of some of my friends. Continue reading “Colin Chapman about the Recent Debate of the Bible Translation for Islamic Contexts”
Rev. Colin Chapman, author of Cross & Crescent: Responding to the Challenge of Islam, is a leading Evangelical scholar specialised in Islamic studies.
‘Colin Chapman’s first engagement with Islam came through working with the Church Mission Society in teaching roles in Egypt and Lebanon over seventeen years. In his last post, 1999-2003, he was lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon. Before that he taught at Trinity College Bristol and was Principal of Crowther Hall, the former CMS Training College at Selly Oak, Birmingham. His books include: Cross and Crescent: Responding to the Challenges of Islam (IVP, 1995; new edition September 2007), and ‘Islamic Terrorism’: Is there a Christian Response? (Grove, 2005). He is now enjoying semi-retirement in Milton, Cambridge.’
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I attach below the PDF text of this presentation, that Colin gave me permission to use here.
Colin Chapman – A Christian Response to Radical Islam
Rev. Colin Chapman
Have you ever wondered why are Westerners, including Christians, so obsessed by the potential rise of Islamist regimes following the Arab Spring? And would they be as concerned by the rise of a Christian theocracy anywhere in the world? To be fair, I doubt.
A recent message sent by Len Rogers, from Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU) discusses this issue. The respondent is Rev. Colin Chapman, a leading Evangelical specialist in Islam. Here are his responses, preceded by a comment from Len Rogers.
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Len: Muslims are the overwhelming majority of the population of Egypt! Did we expect them to suddenly forget their religion and become a fully developed democracy overnight? Should Egyptians now understand democracy like Republicans or Democrats in the USA? Obviously that would be difficult because Republicans in the U.S. don’t agree with their fellow Republicans or Democrats with their fellow party members. Democracy takes people where they are- not where we want them be. What results from a democratic system could be something we don’t agree with, right? Does that destroy the system? If elections are fair and square, and that seems to be the case in the recent Egyptian election, which in itself is a huge step forward, should we reject the results because the results are not what we wanted? That attitude is not very democratic – it could even be called repressive or colonial.
If we used the same logic in Latin America would it be a surprise if an election there for some issue showed that most of the voters were Catholic? Would it be a shock in the USA if the majority of voters on another issue are overwhelming Christians of some kind or other?
Colin: I personally feel that these fears about Islamists taking over in every country are exaggerated. Let me give four recent examples that point in a different direction. One of our trusted colleagues in Egypt has been saying for some months that he believes that moderate Muslims in Egypt might suffer as much as Christians. Just today another one of our mutual friends in Jerusalem told me of a meeting that took place last Thursday in Beit Sahour with 140 Muslim and Christian clerics in which they discussed the future of the West Bank. In the question time someone asked if Christians are afraid of a Muslims state being established. A leading Mufti of Nablus answered: ‘What examples can you point to of an Islamic state in the world today – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, or Pakistan? Do you really think that we want to follow any of these examples?’
…one of the people who has been drafting the new Libyan constitution is Aref Ali Nayed. Mr. Ali Nayed has taken part in some of the Evangelical Christian – Muslim dialogue meetings. He is a very close friend of David Ford, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and I have met him several times. He is extremely open towards Christians and is strongly opposed to the more extreme Islamists in his context. A leading Egyptian evangelical Christian has said recently: ‘Let the Islamist take over and see if they can run a country – and if they can’t, people will turn away from Islam – as they are doing in Iran at the present time.
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You may download HERE Colin Chapman’s article ‘Christians in the Middle East: Past, Present and Future’.
The Bush Administration responded to 9/11 with ‘the war on terror’. Anders Breivik committed his crimes on 22 July 2011 because he felt that Europe as a whole and Norway in particular had been naïve in their response to Islam. Have we learned anything from what has happened in the last ten years about the way we think about Islam and relate to Muslims, and can we articulate a considered, long-term response to these events? This is my own personal check-list of ways in which I believe all of us in Europe – and Christians in particular – should be responding to these challenges.
1. Establishing genuine relationships with Muslim. Many of those who are most fearful about Islam have little or no personal contacts with Muslims. A recent doctoral researcher in the UK has concluded that ‘those who had ongoing friendships with Muslims tended to be more eirenic (promoting or intended to promote peace) than those who had not lived in the Muslim world or had no Muslim friends.’ Perhaps therefore we need to be much more intentional in this area and ask ourselves ‘How can I/we develop natural relationships with the Muslims in my community?’
The ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference organised by Bethlehem Bible College started today at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bethlehem, Palestine.
Beginning tomorrow, you may watch online HERE the the keynote addresses, Do not miss tomorrow at 9-10.15am (GMT+2) Stephen Sizer’s presentation titled ‘The Bible, Israel and the Church. Challenging Zionism, Anti-Semitism and Replacement Theology’. Continue reading “Christ at the Checkpoint”