According to scholar Scot McKnight, conversion experiences are deeply impacted by the different contexts in which the gospel operates. What does that mean for Muslim conversion experiences?
As an answer, McKnight points to a survey of 100 former Muslims by Georges Houssney, founder and president of Horizons International, that attempts to understand the factors that led to their conversion to Christianity.
The vast majority of respondents–who were mostly moderate Muslims (40%) or nominal Muslims (40%) before their conversions (20% were self-described "fanatics")–said they viewed their relationship with Allah as based on fear or duty. Equal percentages (55%) said they viewed Islam primarily as a cultural system vs. a religious system. Today, 9 in 10 respondents say they believe they now are worshiping a different God than Allah.
So what do they think distinguishes God from Allah? Nearly 3 in 4 respondents emphasized love as the most meaningful characteristic of the Christian God. Meanwhile, 25 percent cited God's forgiveness.
And love appears to be extremely influential when it comes to evangelism as well. More than 8 in 10 respondents cited "the love of Christians as one major factor" in their conversion, and 6 in 10 cited it as the only factor. Only 30 percent cited "disappointment with Islam." Meanwhile, 25 percent say they were drawn to Christ by dreams or visions.
CT reported extensively on Muslim conversion in our January/February issue, which featured a cover story on what it's like to follow Christ while embedded in Muslim culture. The reports detailed why evangelicals should be thankful for insider Muslims, and debated how much Muslim context is too much for the gospel.