Joseph Cumming is pastor of the International Church at Yale University. Previously, he lived in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for 15 years, where he served as director of Doulos Community, a Christian humanitarian organization. He is an ordained Christian minister in the Assemblies of God. Cumming holds a bachelor’s degree in religion from Princeton University, an M.Div. with a cross-cultural studies concentration from Fuller Theological Seminary, and an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Yale University. He is also completing his Ph.D. at Yale in Islamic studies and Christian theology.
What do Muslims really believe? How is the Islamic community organized? Does the Qu’ran call for religious extremism? Today’s Conversation with Leith Anderson and Joseph Cumming covers these questions and more.
In this podcast, you’ll hear from an evangelical scholar on Islam, who has spent years in relationships with Muslims both overseas and in the United States, on:
- The main distinctives between historical, biblical Christianity and Islam;
- How different segments of the Muslim community operate and interact with each other;
- His own experiences with Islamic extremism; and
- How Christians should relate to Muslims in this country.
Read a Portion of the Transcript
Leith: What should Christians — especially evangelicals Christians in America — what should we be doing in relating to Muslims? There’s a recent article in Christianity Today magazine that says that most evangelicals have never even personally met a Muslim. So, what should we do? What should our approach be? And, what’s your practical advice?
Joseph: Thank you, Leith. That’s probably the most important question you could have asked. And so, I’m kind of glad you’re coming to it as we near the end of this interview, because that’s really what I want us to leave people with. And that is, you can build friendships with Muslims. And just as many, if not most, evangelical Christians in this country have never personally met a Muslim, many, many Muslims in this country have never had an experience of a Christian reaching out to them as a friend, saying, “I just want to get to know you as a human being.”
The most important thing you can do is to develop friendships and to show hospitality. Although there’s not one Muslim culture in the world, virtually all Muslim majority cultures strongly emphasize hospitality as being extremely important. And well, hospitality is an important biblical value.
Invite someone over to your home. And by the way, when you invite them over, make sure to set food and drink in front of them — obviously not pork or alcohol, I think people understand that. You don’t have to be worried too much about getting it wrong. Just show love, and welcome them in your home and say, “I want to be a friend.”
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