Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Where do ex-Muslim Christians live, and how many are there?

Patrick Johnstone and Duane Alexander Miller have recently published a global census on believers in Christ from a Muslim background. Where do they live? How many are there? How did they gather this information?

Read about their research and results by clicking HERE.

Or to read just the abstract, click HERE.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

“Finding an End in the Beginning: eschatological trends among ex-Muslim Christians” (Chapter)

In 2014 the book Islam and the Last Day: Christian Perspectives on Islamic Eschatology was released by MST Press (Wantirna, Australia). This volume was co-edited by our seminary vice-president Brent Neely. The book is about Christian perspectives on Islamic eschatology.

In that book Alex Miller published a chapter on how some ex-Muslim Christians agree or disagree with Islamic eschatology, and how they envision certain features of apocalyptic and eschatological realities.

I have recently posted the PDF of that chapter at my site. It can be read HERE.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Publication: "The Growth of Iranian Christianity since 1979"

Dr. Alex Miller, a member of our seminary faculty, has recently published an article in the journal Mission Studies. The title of the article is "Power, Personalities and Politics: the growth of Iranian Christianity after 1979" (2015).

Here is the abstract:
While Christianity has existed in Iran/Persia since the fourth century, if not earlier, at the middle of the twentieth century almost all Iranian Christians belonged to an ethnic minority, especially the Assyrians and the Armenians. Ethnic Iranians were almost all Muslims, and then mostly Shi’a Muslims. Since the Revolution of 1979 hundreds of thousands of ethnic Iranians have left Islam for evangelical Christianity, both within and outside of Iran. This paper seeks to explore the multifaceted factors – political, economic and technological – that have helped to create an environment wherein increasing numbers of ethnic Iranians have apostatized from Islam and become evan- gelical Christians. A concluding section outlines Steven Lukes’ theory of power and analyzes the growth of Iranian Christianity in the light of his theory.
Download the article PDF from the author's website HERE.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Faculty Publications: "Evangelicals around the World"

Azar Ajaj and Alex Miller have both published chapters in the new Evangelicals around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century (Thomas Nelson, 2015). Azar wrote the chapter on Greater Syria, Jordan and Iraq and Alex wrote the chapter on North Africa and Egypt.

The chapter on Christians in North Africa and Egypt can be found HERE.

The chapter on Christians in Greater Syria, Jordan and Iraq can be found HERE.

This resource book promises to be used widely by students of global evangelicalism. Check it out at WorldCat or Amazon or Thomas Nelson or

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mary's Well Occasional Paper: Alex Miller reviews Khalad Hussain's Against the Grain

For our first Mary's Well Occasional Paper of 2015 we have a review by Duane Alexander Miller of Khalad Hussain's conversion narrative Against the Grain (Xlibris 2012, 218 pages).

We wish to extend thanks to Dr. Edwin Zehner of Walailak University for serving as the guest editor of this essay.

Here are the opening paragraphs:
In the past ten years there has been a significant increase in the number of conversion narratives from Islam to Christianity (and vice versa).[1] In this volume, Kashmiri convert Khalad Hussain makes his own contribution to this growing body of literature. My own doctoral work[2] through the University of Edinburgh lead me to delve deeply into the literature of converts from Islam to Christianity. This included an analytical article on Saiid Rabiipour’s Farewell to Islam (2009), published as ‘”It is okay to question Allah”: the theology of freedomof Saiid Rabiipour, a Christian ex-Muslims.’[3] As with most articles I publish I shared this on my professional blog,[4] and it was by this means that Mr. Hussain contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing his own autobiography. 
The book begins with a depiction of the bucolic life led by his family in his hometown in the Mirpur region of Pakistani Kashmir. We are told about everything from schooling to agriculture to gender relations. Many native terms and words are shared with the readers in this section (and throughout the whole book). The author takes pain to translate customs and practices for the Western portion of his audience. The author also presents us with a number of questions about Islam that occurred to him (in retrospect, at least). For example, how could it be ethical that the Sikhs and Hindus were forced out of Pakistan at the time of independence? (p. 20) Why were women inferior to men? (p.  32) 
Click HERE to download the review essay. 
Key Words: religious conversion, Kashmir, Pakistan, autobiography, ex-Muslim, Pakistani diaspora

[1] For instance David Nasser’s Jumping through Fires (Baker, 2009), The Imam’s Daughter by Hannah Shah (Zondervan, 2012), I was a Minister in the Nation of Islam by Alexis Johnson (Winepress, 2009), Son of Hamas by Mosab Yousef (Tyndale, 2011) and Farewell to Islam by Saiid Rabiipour (Xulon, 2009).
[3] In Mary’s Well Occasional Papers 1(4), 1-13. (Accessed 16 July 2014).
[4] Other book reviews by this author can be found there and at his page.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Azar Ajaj: The Mission of the Church in the Shadow of the Israeli Election

The Mission of the Church in the Shadow of the Israeli Election 

Rev Azar Ajaj

The famous theologian Karl Barth once said, We should carry the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other hand”. This will help us, on the one hand, to understand what challenges our community is going through, and, on the other, to consider how the Word of God might help the church relate to the challenges. However we as evangelicals have often failed to carry this through; instead we have carried the Bible with both hands. We are well acquainted with Scripture, but are strangers to our people, community, and country. As a result, our message is often seen as irrelevant, and we are unable to give answers to the questions and needs of the people. With respect to the current needs of society, the events of the last Israeli election, in my opinion, are a wake-up call to the church, a challenge to find ways to be more effective in its mission.

Many friends from abroad have asked my opinion about the elections. My answer is that these elections were significant: what happened before the elections, as well as the results, should have a direct effect on the mission of the church in Israel. There are two major points from the elections that I would like to identify and reflect on.

First, the unity of all the Arab parties under what was called the “Joint List”. Almost 80% of the Israeli Arabs who voted in this election voted for this party, and in my opinion most of those who abstained from voting did so not out of disagreement with the platform of the Joint List, but out of disenchantment with the political system itself. But, what were the main issues of the Joint List agenda that motivated Arab voters to vote for this party?

Many said that the fact that four major parties united for the List was itself the main achievement; this unity attracted many people to vote. The next important issue on the agenda was a Two State Solution to bring peace and dignity to both Israelis and Palestinians. The issue of equal rights for the Arabs in Israel and the fight against racism and discrimination was also a major item on the agenda. All this together, plus other social issues, made the Arab people believe that the Joint List is the best party to represent them in the Israeli parliament.

Second, the “victory” of the right wing parties. In fact, this is not unprecedented; they have long been here, and, unless a deep change happens in Israeli society, they will be there for many years to come. What was different this time was the competition between the right wing parties to bolster one’s credentials as “least tolerant” to the Palestinian Israeli community. This sadly included, a few times, the use of racist expressions, and certainly involved using words that do not promote respect to Arab citizens, words which present them as strangers and enemies of the country. Furthermore, they were vying with one another in more adamantly opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state and in defiantly working to increase the number of Israeli settlements. This attitude was prominent among the leaders of the right wing parties, including Prime Minister Netanyahu himself. The election campaign struck a distinctively negative chord.

Having said that, the question the Church (and I here relate more to the evangelical churches) in Israel should ask herself is how can we better serve the Arab Israeli community in particular, and the Israeli community in general, in the light of these elections?

I believe the Church in Israel is doing a good job on the spiritual level by presenting the Gospel message of salvation and hope we have in Christ. However, we have very little involvement on the social level and almost nothing on the political one. Just to make it clear, I am not saying the church should be directly delving into the politics of the country; rather she has to have a prophetic voice in the following directions:

First, the church should identify with the pain, the suffering, and the challenges of its own people, in order to be able serve them. In fact, this is exactly what Christ did with His incarnation--He became one of us. That does not necessarily mean that we agree with everything our people do to face their challenges and solve their problems, not at all. At times we need the courage to criticize what we believe is wrong. But “identification” gives us the right, as part of the people, to relate to the challenges in a Christian way and with Christian values.

Second, as Christians we are called to act justly and to love mercy” (Micah 6:8). When the prophets of Israel raised their voices against injustice and the oppression of the poor, they were not called “politicians” but “prophets”. I believe the church should have the same prophetic voice today. We should be advocates for justice and call and act for mercy for the oppressed and the poor. We are called to pray for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Tim 2:1-2) But might we not, besides praying with them, also have the opportunity and the right to share with God’s heart, love, mercy and justice with our leaders? It seems, according to these verses, that Paul teaches us that we have a role in achieving “peaceful and quiet lives”. Why should we withhold this blessing from our leaders, our people, and our country?

Third, as I mentioned before, much hatred was promoted during this election campaign. A major part of the election’s propaganda was calculated to frighten people, to alienate one’s constituents from an alleged “enemy”. This shocked me as well as many people. Nevertheless, are we not asked to be the “light and salt of the earth”? How important, then, in such circumstances to promote and show love to those who have been styled as our “enemies”. In fact we are asked to be peacemakers. Therefore, it would be important that the church at this dark time seek to build relationships and establish a dialogue with the Jewish community in Israel, as well as the Muslim one. If we want a better future for ourselves and for our children, a future built on respecting and loving the other, then let us take part in building it. Otherwise, those with other values will determine what this future will be.

Finally, among other reasons, the issue of unity between the different Arab parties was an important reason for the support they enjoyed. Clearly, Arab people in Israel were looking for such a development. Arab Israelis have been a divided minority for many years, and this division has not helped their case. And I wonder, “Is there not a lesson here for the church too?We as evangelicals are a minority within a minority within a minority; yet still we manage to divide from one another. Is not this lesson of unity a lesson for us, the people of Jesus? I believe it is, and I hope we will seek more and more ways of uniting
in order to be a light, salt, and a blessing to the Arabs and Jews in Israel. God willing, one day we will speak of an election in the shadow of justice, mercy, love, and respect.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Faculty Publication: why do some Muslims convert to Christianity?

Alex Miller, lecturer in church history and theology for NETS, has recently published an article analyzing studies on the reasons given by individuals from Muslim backgrounds regarding why they convert to Christianity.

The article can be found HERE, and was published in the Journal of Asian Mission.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Who are the Arab Evangelicals in the Holy Land?

Here is the second video for the Holy Land Connection (HLC), with our seminary president Azar Ajaj and hosted by Rani Espanioly.

Who are the Arab Christians?

Alex Miller, lecturer in Church History and Theology, recently discussed the question of who are the Arab Christians with Rani Espanioly for his ministry SALAM in the Holy Land. Here is the video:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Azar Ajaj on the Van Dyck translation of the Bible into Arabic

Azar Ajaj, our seminary president, has recently published his article titled "The Van Dyck Translation: The American Mission Board and the Translation of the Bible into Arabic" in Volume 11:1 of St Francis Magazine.

The article is about how the main Arabic-language Bible, still in wide use today, came into being.

Click HERE for the article.