Archive for February 2018

Islam in Europe: Threat or Opportunity

February 28, 2018

Islam in EuropeWhat is your perspective on the huge increase in Europe’s Muslim population? Do you see it as a threat or a huge opportunity for the gospel?

In this edition of Vista you will almost certainly find one article that supports your perspective. But perhaps more importantly you will find another that challenges it.
Darrell Jackson’s lead article sets out the most recent statistics on Muslim populations in Europe but also highlights important qualifications regarding the interpretation of this data and of concepts of Muslim identity.

The heart of this edition though are four opinion pieces. Bert de Ruiter writes of the Europeanisation of Islam and gives a call to loving engagement. Jenny Taylor provides a critique of integration narratives and highlights the threat that Islamic terrorism continues to pose. Bryan Knell tells stories of conversions among some communities and stubborn resistance among others. And Colin Edwards provides a classification of Believers from a Muslim Background (BMBs) and writes of how the need for intense community among these converts is a challenge to our concepts of church in Europe.

Finally, Jo Appleton set out some helpful resources for Christian Muslim engagement.

Our prayer as an editorial team is that this edition of Vista would make you think more deeplyabout these different perspectives. But perhaps more importantly, to think about how to  “love your neighbour” who in today’s Europe is often a Muslim.

Download Vista 29 here

Confidence in the Midst of Crisis: A Theological Reflection Vista 9: April 2012

February 13, 2018

We are beginning the occasional publication of articles from previous editions of Vista, which are worth revisiting and reading again. This article by Dr. Andrzej Turkanik is as relevant now as it was when first published almost 6 years ago.

A friend of mine wants to get rid of his TV set. The reason: every time he watches the news, he gets depressed. Stories such as the European debt crisis, the status of the European monetary system, unemployment rates with ensuing immigration challenges, increasing medical costs and another paedophile or corruption story permeate the airwaves causing many to feel anxious and uncertain.

One of the challenges with the globalized world is the assault of information through computers, televisions, cell phones and perhaps media that we are not even aware of now but will surely be “vital” to our lives by year’s end.

Isolating ourselves from this information is not the answer. We must look for the answers by understanding the underlying causes which include, among other things, a basic human characteristic of greed resulting in excessive consumption, pride and entitlement. There is hope but I believe it is not found in traditional areas where political and economic leaders search.

The solution demands not just a brilliant idea or a rich and well-organized country that treat the symptoms of problems without addressing the underlying causes, but a person. It is in the darkest moments that the presence of the followers of Jesus can encourage a society which has lost hope.

Believers may feel overwhelmed by the speed and complexity of these challenges, which for many form the predominate concerns of today’s world. The good news for us and those around us is we do not need to stare into the face of the crisis and the abyss of despair, but rather into the face of the One who repeatedly said to those around him, “Do not be afraid”. The fact that He called us to follow him in Europe today means that it is perhaps for such a time as this we are here and now.

We are neither immune to the problems around us, nor are we in possession of the answer to the issues. Perhaps we feel the tension similar to the one the first disciples felt as Jesus was about to depart. But he deliberately left them in the situation giving them the tools to manage. At the very end of Matthew’s Gospel, the end of the Great Commission passage, Jesus tells the disciples: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The gift of Jesus’ presence to the disciples then, as well as to us now, and continuing until the end of time, is a sufficient guarantee that someone has complete control over the affairs of the world, including an unstable Europe. It is He, the great I AM, who promised to accompany the helpless and the hopeless. But as for the first disciples so also for us the challenge remains the same: “go”.

Dr. Andrzej Turkanik
Executive Director, Quo Vadis Institute
Andrzej Turkanik completed degrees in music, art, and theology before earning his PhD from Cambridge University. A native of Poland, born and raised during the Communist regime, he studied music and art in Poland, and theology in Germany and England. He and his wife Malgosia and their children live in Salzburg, Austria, where he serves as the executive director for the Quo Vadis Institute, an organisation focused on developing ideas and knowledge to produce flourishing societies in Europe.

Read the rest of Vista 9 here