Contend Earnestly: Mark Siljander Interview on Islam and Christianity

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mark Siljander Interview on Islam and Christianity

I recently read Mark Siljander's book called, A Deadly Misunderstanding, and put up a review. I found these two videos where Siljander gives some of his thoughts on his findings. I think it helps to hear Siljander speak about what he has written, and shows his enthusiasm for Jesus Christ to be made known. I highly recommend watching these as they are a great intro to his book. I will also say that Mr. Siljander is someone that I continue to gain more and more respect for as we have had a chance to have some email exchanges. Any comments regarding your thoughts on these videos, or anything Mr. Siljander has said or written, is welcomed.


Mike said...

Hey Seth you and I conversated over the Franklin Graham post and since then I have been immersed in Islam. I am currently finishing up a course. I have questions that I am trying to distill and articulate and hope to get back with you soon about. Thanks for opening up discussion on the issue and forcing me to re-evaluate my position. In an earlier post you alluded to the fact that Piper has modified his position since A common word. Is there anyway I could know what that modification entails and where to get it?

Seth McBee said...

Encouraging news to hear you are looking more into Islam...hopefully so you can build bridges and speak about Jesus with them. I would also encourage you to look into non-white, non-western, explanations of Islam. Make sure you, at least, get a wide range of explanations of our will be a help in your discernment on the issues at hand.

Wesley, (Snatchedfromthefire) asked the same thing regarding Piper. I went back and listened to Piper's comments again to see if I was overstating...fact I told Wesley, I was probably overstating that he "changed" his mind. But, Piper does see how saying that Muslims worship another God isn't helpful. You can find his comments here:

Evangelicals and A Common Word

Watch the video on the panel discussion. Piper comes across as far more “soft” on the issue of worship than he has in the past, because of this discussion. Which is great to see.

Let me know if you have further questions. I look forward to our further dialogue on the subject. But, also know, that dialogue is worthless if we are not glorifying God and proclaiming the truth of Jesus to others.



SnatchedFromTheFire said...

I dunno Seth, for me personally, this interview almost makes me les sinterested in the book and i'm working hard against 'pigeon-holeing' him as modern Liberalism repackaged. I haven't read the book so i can only comment on the interview.
If i can put it all in one point, what cares me the most about this guy is the question, 'where are you headed with all this?' I hear things that sound very troubling like "let's focus on the positives and find the common ground" which sounds great until you hear no completion of the thought: focus on the positives and find common ground to what end? why? so we can all get along and pray together without feeling guilty and fo to each other's borthday parties? I'm much more for what you were saying about an intentional, missional attitude that says, 'hey, there are some real similarities in what we both believe (similar b/c the Truth of God's Word is present throughout all creation) so let's use those similarities to show you the reality behind what you've been missing, JUST as Paul did in Acts 17. Paul was NOT trying to find common ground so he could "focus on the positives with his audience and find common ground, but to intentionally point to the reality that they were missing in their pagan idolatry.
Also, talking, he sounds so much like a politician: so much fast talking, making points without backing them up biblically often, and not presenting a balanced picture of the argument. It seems in his effort to puch his agenda, he is afraid of saying, 'ok this is where we agree and this is where we don't!' I'm hearing lots of 'this is where we agree/common ground' and zero of the 'this is where we don't agree. And so it seems like it;s missing the point altogether. We can sit down with probably ANY religious leader and talk about similarities in our faiths, but it is the DIFFERENCES that have always been the problem. As Chandler always says, the minute you contextualize the gospel to the point where noone is offended by it, you no longer have the gospel. WE don't try to offend with it: it does that all on it;s own and the Bible says it will viz. "foolishness to those who are perishing", "stench of death" etc. Again, finding common ground so we don't kill each other is great, but focusing on the "positives" while ignoring the negatives - the very real offence of the gospel - doesn't make for anything but a nice conversation if the ultimate goal at the end of the day is not the talk about the differences as well, do you see where i'm coming from there?

Seth McBee said...


I understand your sentiment. I will also say that the way Mark handles himself on a public interview, verses how he interacts privately over time might be different. You have to remember that he is building relationships with those in the Muslim world and pointing them to Jesus. If he says something publically that defames a Muslim, how quickly will that door shut?

Take what he is saying and apply it to your life and how you will decide to use it...but let's be careful to not vilify someone when they never said anything incorretly. He NEVER says that he just wants to build a common ground to leave the Muslim without Jesus.

You just have to understand that it is a very touchy subject when dealing with it in public...

So...I try to respect that.

You know what I mean? If you can also email me on this.

Hope you are well.

Larry Sherbondy said...

Was reading this string, and would like to address Contend Earnestly's comment about Siljander not "leaving Muslims without Jesus." I question whether Siljander is actually bringing people to repentance and faith in Jesus at all.

The "Doug" who shook his worldview in the early pages of the book is Doug Coe, head of the group known as both The Fellowship and The Family. If this group, which purports to know "Jesus plus nothing," has significantly influenced his thinking, then I suspect that the gospel he claims to be representing is a gospel without power to save. These folks (and perhaps you have gotten involved with them) have such a desire to see people rally around "Jesus of Nazareth" (their preferred way of referring to Him) that they have truly watered down what it means to be saved. All one has to do to be received by them is to have a warm and positive response to "Jesus," rather than anyone who might be so bold as to speak authoritatively for Jesus - like the Apostle Paul.

You recall that Paul was the one who wrote, "Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." One of the "elementary principles of the world" is the notion that we all just agree and leave it at that, even if the "agreement" is about the idea that Jesus was a good leader, or a good influencer, or the creator of a pacifistic movement, or one who just wants us to be happy.

Jesus is, of course, the Second Person of the Triune God, the one to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given, and the one who has been appointed Judge of all the earth, the one who will be revealed with his angels in flaming fire, the one before whom men will call for the mountains to fall on them when he appears, and the One who commands men and women everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, which means the same as "Be converted."

Further, the notion that Aramaic is the "secret language" of the Bible is entirely without merit. There is not a shred of credible evidence that the Greek Bible was translated from the Aramaic. His contention that conversion is not treated in scripture is nonsense.

Granted, conversion does not necessarily mean that one must accept all the past or current trappings of Western Christianity, but it certainly means transferring one's trust and allegiance to Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior who propitiated our sins before a Holy God by his death on the cross, and has conquered their power by his resurrection, and in Whose righteousness alone we stand and have any hope of eternal life.

Can one accept Jesus this way and remain a Muslim? Perhaps, so long as that person rejects any confidence in his own good works through good deeds and/or religious ritual. He would also need to reject the authority of Mohammed over Jesus Christ, and I don't have confidence that Siljander's version of the gospel would require that.

SnatchedFromTheFire said...

Seth -
just found this response to my post that i hadn't yet seen. Thanks for replying.
I dunno man. i do see where you're coming from and that you're dealing with a different animal in doing this kindof cross-cultural missions and you don't want to close the door to the work being done b/c of careless words. I totally get that and admit my own lack of experience in such matters.
My only caution from what you said was the comment about not villyfying someone who isn't saying anything incorrectly. That is a pretty weak argument when you look at guys like Osteen who say lots of "correct" things and then leave out LOTS of other correct things that accompany them - it's called reductionism and is filled with correct words that are only half the story.
I'll heed your advice and not cast unfair judgement. That said, my 'discerment meter' is going off all over the place with this subject. Maybe i need to talk less and listen more ... no, i'm pretty sure i do ;) God's peace brother. May God bless this upcoming meeting "Who is He" and reveal Himself to many. Soli Deo Gloria.

Dan said...

I read Mark's book March 2009 and took him up on the challenge at the end to embark on a journey of getting to know a local Muslim neighbor and we spent 4 months every 2 weeks for 3 hours each time not patronizing but getting to know and asking hard questions and we both had read Mark's book and were interested in seeing where God wanted to take us on the journey. We were able to sponsor Mark to speak in Dallas at SMU Sept 25, 2010 and had over 200 in attendance and met with sholars and teachers at Dallas Theological Seminary, Business leaders, Daystar International broadcast a church service and many small group meetings. Mark is not an applogist for Islam but his journey that God directed him on led him to the Muslim people and as a former dipolmat he preferred to see if and what any common ground there was and through the cousin Semitic language has had a tremendous impact on Muslim leaders and scholars. He cares deeply about the Jesus of the Bible and as the Apostle Paul did he's risked his entire reputation and livlihood on his journey for the sake of being a good Samaritan and letting God do the rest. I hope you enjoy the book and take him up on the challenge and see what God will do through you. It will be fun.

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