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Encountering the World of Islam

29 Jul

What does it mean to be a follower of Islam? The question is a simple one, but the answers are not. According to the Pew Research Center, there are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today – that’s nearly ¼ of the world’s entire population! Spread out across six continents, these faithful seek each day to become more wholly submitted to the will of Allah, but what this looks like can vary tremendously from one sect to another. That’s why Keith E. Swartley’s textbook, “Encountering the World of Islam” was one of my first stops as I began seeking a deeper understanding of a faith so different from my own.

Designed to provide Christians with an introduction to the development and expression of Muslim belief, “Encountering the World of Islam” takes an in depth look at the origins, theology, and culture which surround this historic faith. In eleven carefully planned lessons, readers will learn what it means to be a Muslim, what the faith looks like in daily life, and how they can most effectively communicate their own faith with their Islamic friends. Supplemental readings introduced students to the world of Muslim missions (and some of the difficult questions which surround the topic) while practical activities help readers to better understand the culture which surrounds one of our world’s biggest religions. Join in the online community and you’ll receive an even more enlightening introduction!

Re-released in updated form by IVP Books in 2012, “Encountering the World of Islam” is available for $27.12 in paperback and makes an excellent introduction for everyone from the casual observer to the mission-minded believer!

Worldview Ministries

3 Dec

Sean McDowell (son of Josh McDowell) is a High School teacher with a passion for teens and apologetics.  A gifted writer and speaker, he recognizes that our worldview not only defines who we are, but also dictates who we will become.  His Worldview Ministries website is dedicated to helping young people both develop and defend their worldview and is just the place for teens seeking to equip themselves to answer questions about their faith and lifestyle.

Start out by reading how Sean came to question the Christian faith in which he was raised.  While the article is geared primarily towards parents, his words also reassure teens and young adults who are starting to ask the tough questions about what they believe and why.  Then check out the articles link where Sean answers questions on a range of topics from apologetics, theology, and religion to science, ethics, and youth culture“Is it okay to have doubts” about our faith?  “Is Christianity a copycat religion” composed of various elements of other world faiths?  “Aren’t all religions basically the same?”  Sean carefully addresses a wide variety of issues from the current debate on abortion and same-sex marriage to questions about pornography and smoking pot.  There’s plenty to read, so set aside some time to really explore the site!

Sean also provides a number of resources for student leaders and youth ministers.  Take a moment to visit the curriculum page where you’ll find fully prepared lessons on apologetics and youth culture complete with video clips, power point presentations, and worksheets!  Click on the media link to hear Sean address some of today’s most pressing issues or view Sean’s blog where you can read his latest thoughts or download a podcast so you can listen on the go!

Whatever resources you use, you’re sure to be blessed with a more complete understanding of the Christian life and message!  And remember: your worldview matters.  It will determine who you become.

Grounded: Relating to Your Mormon Friends in Truth and Love

24 Sep

What is truth?  Does it matter?  If so, where do we go to find it?  Is Truth found in feelings or in facts?  And do the two ever coincide?  These questions mark one of the clearest boundaries between the LDS faith and traditional Christianity… and our answers to them can make a big difference in our ability both to stay grounded in our own faith and to clearly communicate that faith to others.

That is why the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies has taken over the task of marketing the “Grounded” youth group curriculum.  Throughout five sessions, young Christians will explore the fundamental differences between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity, finding answers to questions like these while at the same time learning the techniques necessary to develop fruitful and lasting friendships.  Throughout the series, youth are encouraged both to ask questions of their Mormon friends and to listen carefully to their answers while at the same time honestly and openly presenting their own faith.  Workbook devotions encourage teens to delve deeper into the Truth of God’s Word, enriching their spiritual life through both prayer and practical “good works”, while DVD interviews with LDS teens help students begin to see the world through the eyes of those whose theology and lifestyle often seem foreign to them.

Overall, I found that the materials took a refreshing approach to “sharing the truth in love” and believe that whether you study on your own, with your family, or in your youth group, the “Grounded” resources will help you learn to more effectively share your faith with your LDS friends!

The curriculum, including Leader’s Guide, Student Workbooks, and DVD segments is available for purchase through the Western Institute of Intercultural Studies.  I encourage you to “click” over and take a look!

Bridges: Helping Mormons Discover God’s Grace

17 Sep

Sharing God’s Grace and traditional Christianity with an LDS friend, neighbor, or family member can be a challenge and it doesn’t take most of us long to discover that if we’re going to present our faith clearly and effectively, we’re going to need some help… and possibly a new perspective.  That’s where “Bridges”, a curriculum distributed by the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies comes in.  In five sessions, participants begin to understand:

  • The Legacy of the LDS Church – How did it begin?  What shaped its culture and attitudes?  Which forces are influencing it as its members’ journey into the future?
  • The Theology of the LDS Church – How do its doctrines differ from traditional Christianity?  What influence do its teachings have upon the daily life of members?
  • The Journey out of the LDS Church – What obstacles face those who question and ultimately leave the church?  In what ways does traditional Christian community help or hinder these immigrants?
  • Bridging the Gap – How can Christians clarify key doctrines of the faith for those who use the same vocabulary, but assign it with different meanings?  How can our own “faith experience” aid believers in effectively sharing the Gospel with their LDS friend?
  • Community of Grace – In what ways can Christians help former LDS church members’ transition into Biblical Christianity?

Workbooks coupled with group discussion and DVD interviews with former LDS church members help students begin to thoughtfully process the difference between the Mormon faith and traditional Christianity while at the same time teaching believers to “speak the native language” of the Deseret.  Throughout the course, participants will learn to better understand what drives their LDS friends as they learn to more clearly and effectively communicate their own faith.

I highly recommend the curriculum to anyone who is ready to take on the adventure of sharing the Christian faith within the context of this unique culture!

Facilitator’s Guides, Student Workbook, and DVD material are available for purchase at: http://www.wiics.org/seminars/mormonism-adult-training.

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