As there are now more Muslims than Methodists in the U.S., we must think creatively about those of other religions.

To speak of “other religions” is ultimately to refer to two-thirds of the human race. The world’s other religions present a challenge to Christians not only because they have world views that conflict at many points with our own, but also because their influence is growing. Instead of disintegrating as some of our forefathers thought they would, almost all of them have increased in number, and at least one has its own vision for winning the world.

No wonder Max Warren of the Church Missionary Society argued almost four decades ago, “The challenge of agnostic science will turn out to have been as child’s play compared to the challenge to Christian theology of the faith of other men.” Christian Islamicist W. Montgomery Watt made a similar claim in the mid-1970s when he asserted, “It is hardly too much to say that the intellectual challenge to Christianity from Islam at the present time is greater than any challenge Christians have had to meet for fifteen centuries, not excluding that from natural science.” When every allowance has been made for an element of exaggeration, these statements still contain a considerable amount of truth. And “the woeful thing is,” as religion scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith says, “that the meeting of this challenge has hardly seriously begun.”

Appreciating The Changed Context

Part of the confusion and loss of confidence felt by many Christians on this issue arises from the fact that Christians in the modern world face many questions having to do not only with other religions, but also with education, philosophy, theology, history, politics, racism, evangelism, and cross-cultural communication. ...

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