Religions and mission in the Arab world
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
The Christmas events, as recorded in Scripture, are pivotal in understanding the nature of God’s revelation of Himself through Jesus. Theological orthodoxy and fundamental tenants of the Christian faith have developed from our understanding of the incarnation. Throughout the history of the Church, we have looked for ways to describe both this event and the true hope it signifies for Christians. More than that, it shapes our articulation of our beliefs in who God is and his relationship with His people.

At the same time, the incarnation contains within it the fundamental issues that bring disbelief of the Christian faith for Muslims. How could God become a man, be born as a baby? Three Gods? Mary as the mother of God? These challenges signify the need we have to build our own understanding and find ways of sharing something more than the story of a baby in a manger.

In this issue we look at the Christmas story and tackle some of the challenges it brings to our understanding of God and the incarnation.

In the first article, Christmas and the early faith statements of the Christian Church, Rev Dr Jos Strngholt examines the early creedal expressions about Jesus’ birth and his true humanity. That God could become fully human has been articulated in the theology of the Church from its earliest history. The events of Christmas are more than a nice story to bring hope. They bring hope because of the reality of God come among his people as a man.

Salaam Corniche examines the birth narratives of Islam and Christianity in The Islamic and Christian “Christmas” Stories: “A Twig of Difference?”. He argues that the incarnation, that which is at the heart of the Christian story, makes the two narratives fundamentally different. God, coming among his people as a man, fully God and fully man, creates a chasm of difference in understanding the story of Christmas.

25th December and the Celebration of Sol Invictus asks the questions of Christmas differently. Mina Fouad Tawfike challenges the idea that Christians adopted the cultic celebration of the sun god, and ‘Christianised’ it to aid the spread of Christianity. Reviewing the data, he concludes there insufficient evidence for this theory, and Christians should celebrate the birth of the Christ child according to the dates that their traditions have identified.

In the final article of this edition, Dr Bernie Power provides some pointers to the way the Christmas story and incarnation provide a way of explaining Jesus’ life on earth to people. The Incarnation as Apologetic: Using the incarnation of Christ and details of Muhammad’s life to explain Jesus’ earthly limitations to Muslims uses the incarnation as a window to build understanding of Jesus for Muslims.

On behalf of the whole SFM family may I wish you a blessed Christmas, one of celebration of the amazing revelation of Immanuel, God with us.



Melani McNeil
Editor
 

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Inside/Outside: getting to the center of the Muslim contextualization debates, by J. S. William
Inside/Outside: getting to the center of the Muslim contextualization debates, by J. S. William >>download the pdf