FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – Christians should never attempt to witness to Muslims by saying the God of Christianity and Allah are one and the same, Emir Caner said in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 20. Caner is dean of The College at Southwestern.
“I have heard over the years now that somehow and in some way, Allah and Jehovah are the same god. That, my friends is heresy,” Caner said. “When I got saved I didn’t have a better picture of God. I went from worshipping a false god with a false hope, from a false prophet who gave a false word, to worshipping the one, true, living God whose name is Jesus Christ. It’s his name that is the name which is above every name, and at that name every knee shall bow and at that name every tongue shall confess.”
Born into a Muslim family and raised in Ohio in an observant household by a father who was mosque leader, Caner became a follower of Jesus Christ as a teenager through the witness of a Baptist youth group. His father then disowned him. Following Christ is costly, he said.
“It’s not your job to appease the will of man. It is your job to do the will of God. … It is not your job to have a minimalist Christianity. It is our job, wherever we go, whether in the United States or across the seas, to stand up for the name of Jesus Christ no matter the cost,” Caner said.
Caner challenged students, faculty and staff to take a direct and unapologetic approach when they witness to Muslims, rather than a subtle or nuanced approach. He disagreed with those who advocate exclusively “friendship evangelism” and condone allowing years to pass before sharing the gospel.
“We are Americanizing missions,” Caner said. “The rest of the world has no problem speaking of religion. Only Americans have that problem.”
Caner outlined ways to be a distinctive Christian in a troublesome society, based on the account of Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:20-40. Caner said that Elijah’s method was unashamedly confrontational.
His methods were also unrelentingly confident, Caner said. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call on their god to light a fire on the altar. Elijah would then call on his God, and then they would know that the one who answered by fire was God.
“They were overly confident,” Caner said of the prophets of Baal. “They thought they had outnumbered Elijah 450 to one. Elijah knew he had outnumbered them, one God to zero.”
Not only did Elijah challenge the prophets of Baal, but he mocked them as well. “‘Shout louder!’” Elijah said. “‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’”
“Shouldn’t you be confident?” Caner asked. “The very fact of history rises or falls on the resurrection of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Caner said that Elijah eliminated potential objections by asking the prophets of Baal to pour three loads of water on the altar and sacrifice. He did this, Caner said, so that the prophets could not blame the fire on a trick.
“The difference between cockiness and confidence is very simple,” Caner said. “Cockiness points to you; confidence always points to the Lord.”
Elijah’s ministry was also unashamedly costly, Caner said, asking those in attendance if their faith is confident enough that they are willing to risk anything in order to share Jesus Christ.
“How much are you willing to risk to go to the Hindus, to the Buddhists, to the Secularists, to the Muslims? How much are you willing to risk? How much are you willing to emulate the life of the prophet Elijah?”
Caner related the story of a man he knows who grew up in a prominent Muslim family in Malaysia. When he was a boy, the man’s parents accepted Jesus Christ. He watched as his mother was persecuted for her faith and beaten to death. Later, as he and his father attempted to escape, he watched as his father was shot to death.
The boy grew up an orphan in exile, Years later, he returned to Malaysia to share Christ with the man who executed his father.
“Why would he do such a thing?” Caner asked his friend. “Answer: there’s only one true living God in this world and his name is Jesus Christ, and when we speak of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of missions they must be blended into a perfect theology in evangelism.”
Caner said God is not just the greatest, wisest or strongest but the One and Only.
“He’s the One that the apostle said that for you to come to him you must believe that He is. He is what? He doesn’t need an object to his character. He just is,” Caner said.