CCCW Talk “Christ in Islamic Clothes: Evangelicals and the Saga of Muslim Contextualization” by Christian J. Anderson

CCCW Talk: Tuesday 20th February, 4pm–5.30pm.

Title: “Christ in Islamic Clothes: Evangelicals and the Saga of Muslim Contextualization”

Abstract: During the 1970s, as evangelicals applied anthropology to the task of evangelising the world’s cultures, striking proposals were made at Fuller Theological Seminary for how Christianity might be expressed in Muslim terms. Bold mission-field collaborations followed in South and Southeast Asia over the next two decades, in which mosque prayers and Muslim festivals became reworked around Christ for converts, and new Bibles were translated that incorporated Quranic language and style. In many cases, new believers were encouraged to retain their Muslim identity, which led to a large “insider movement” in Bangladesh. Somewhat controversial from the outset, Muslim contextualization became publicly contested by the turn of millennium, as evangelical fears of “syncretism” with Islam emerged. By 2011, tensions had converged on the issue of Muslim-oriented Bibles which contained non-literal renderings of “Son of God”. So acute was the crisis that it was only resolved when Wycliffe-SIL, the world’s largest Bible translation organisation, submitted its policies to the verdict of global evangelical tribunal.

Bio: Christian J. Anderson is a PhD candidate in Cambridge’s Divinity Faculty, where he works on the theology and history of evangelical encounters with Islam. His thesis is the first full-length account of a decades-long American evangelical missionary controversy over Muslim-style churches and Bible translations. His research has appeared in the journals Studies in World Christianity, Exchange and Mission Studies.