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Future of Islam
Hundreds of Refugees in Germany Convert to Christianity

A must-read article in Christianity Today profiles a church in Berlin that has seen astonishing growth from Muslim refugees who have converted to Christianity:

Pastor Gottfried Martens has seen his congregation at the evangelical Trinity Church grow from 150 to more than 600 in just two years, describing the number of conversions as a ‘miracle’, according to Associated Press.

One of these converts is Mohammed Ali Zonoobi, a carpenter from Shiraz, Iran, who was recently baptised.

Zanoobi was introduced to the Bible aged 18 and attended secret services in Iran. When several of his Christian friends were arrested, he fled with his wife and two children to Germany.

For Zonoobi and his wife Afsaneh their baptism marks a new beginning. “Now we are free and can be ourselves,” she said. “Most important, I am so happy that our children will have a good future here and can get a good education in Germany.”

As touching as Zonoobi’s story is, cynical observers—including among the refugees—suspect more worldly motives behind the spate of conversions:

However, there are concerns that some are not genuine converts, rather professing a Christian faith to boost chances of staying in the country. […]

Congregation member Vesam Heydari told AP, “The majority of Iranians here are not converting out of belief… They only want to stay in Germany.”

This certainly wouldn’t be historically unusual. People can have lots of motives for changing religions; many converts to Islam over the centuries converted to get better jobs, avoid discrimination, and pay less in taxes.

So this is not necessarily a sign of some kind of spiritual awakening. But it does demonstrate a deep and profound disenchantment with the world that Islam has created in the Middle East—or rather that the clash of radical Islamist visions and identities has created in the region. Viewed in this light, the conversions can be seen less as a vote “for” Christianity in many cases than a vote “against” the tragic realities of the Middle East today.

That points to a danger for Islam: The pressures of intellectual and social modernization colliding with sectarian radicalism—and all in a region characterized by repeated economic and political failures—can create a civilizational crisis of confidence. Some respond by radical fundamentalism, trying to drown out the disturbing and critical voices in their own heads. Others say nothing but quietly distance themselves from the ideologies and practices of a world they see as failing. Some struggle to develop a concept of their faith that is resilient and open enough to coexist with modernity. And still others look for alternatives in other belief systems, religious and non-religious.

All these responses and more are taking place in the Middle East and elsewhere today. We shouldn’t miss that the internal crisis in Islamic civilization is as deep and as difficult as the external crisis we see unfolding on the beaches of Europe and in the killing fields of war-torn Middle Eastern countries.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    The long struggle ahead with Islam is a messaging war. Every person who is willing and able to walk away from it represents a small victory. People abandoning Islam for secularism is a good thing. Those deciding seriously too accept Christianity is an even better thing. But, it is not entirely necessary to “go at” Muslims with a heavy sell of Christian evangelism. The first step is convincing people that Mohammad was never really a “prophet” of anything except trouble..

    Those Muslims who are “struggling to develop a concept of their faith that is resilient and open enough to coexist with modernity” are fighting an uphill battle. There is too much baggage in their source material. The more Muslim seriously studies, the more apparent this becomes.

    • Ellen

      Good points. Finally you wrote a piece I can agree with 100%. My friend Spengler has been writing about the internal civilizational crisis in Islam for many, many years, and no one paid attention to his thinking. Western liberals who live in their own very secular politicized echo chambers of political correctness wouldn’t recognize a spiritual civilizational crisis even if their neighbors were blown up in a building because of it. They are so far removed from the world of faith and tradition that all they see are issues of welfare, national pride, occupation, etc etc. What they don’t see is the profound humiliation felt by Muslims due to their very strong group identity (something that western liberals don’t have), in which they belong to a group such as Muslims and Arabs who are clearly failing in the modern world.

      The Palestinian issue is salient here only because it is the most publicized and highly symbolic example of their failure. That is its true significance. No one gives a fig about the real few million Palestinians, or for that matter, the 15 million affected Syrians, who are another example of civilizational failure.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Thank you. I am glad we are on the same page with this. Although (as you probably know), I consider myself a confirmed liberal, I do not fall in with those liberals who approach Islam with “live and let live”, or “one of the world’s great religions” or “a religion of peace only carried to extreme by a few”, or “we need to respect Mohammad if we want them to respect Jesus”, or any other dumb (dumb) rationalization.

        I am opposed to Islam for three reasons. First, I believe that the claim of Mohammad as any kind of “prophet” is simply a falsehood—-beginning to end. Secondly, it is not liberal, period. It is dominating, coercive and many Muslims believe that a death penalty is appropriate for just quitting (apostasy). Thirdly, arriving over 600 years late to the “religion party”, Islam has gone out of its way to keep “a little” Jesus AND diminish Him AND falsify Him. (I’m a liberal for Jesus, so Mohammad might as well be the famous “anti-Christ” as far as I’m concerned.)

        Sooooo- I don’t want to kill Muslims. I want to lure them away by any means possible in any place on earth. I know that religion has polluted 1 1/2 billion people. I know that is a tough reality. I know it is an uphill goal. But when the “enemy” is a colossal fib of philosophy, what else is the struggle but a “messaging war”—-and, especially so, in this communication age?

  • Richard H

    This is from CHRISTIAN Today, which is a different publication than CHRISTIANITY Today.

  • Herzog

    Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Germany, regardless of whether they are (descendants of) long-time resident parents or new arrivals, didn’t, don’t, and won’t convert. Sure it’s nice and comforting that some conversions take place at all, but it’s a drop in the bucket and needs to be put into perspective. Germany’s and Europe’s Muslim problem will not go away and be resolved through large-scale conversion.

  • http://lifeandsomething.blogspot.com/ doubtinggaurav

    What Civilization ?

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    It is clear that the backward Islamic Culture, in particular its Shariah Law which legalizes the Murder, Rape, Robbery, and Enslavement of all infidels and apostates, is utterly incompatible with modern western civilization which requires that life, liberty, and private property be secured in order to function. Shariah Law is exactly the kind of legal code you would expect from Muhammad a desert Bandit that rose to power preying on trade caravans, to write as justification for his criminal behavior.

  • Beauceron

    Yeah. The millions of muslims surging into europe and the US surely is a sign of a crisis in Islam. After all a couple have converted to christianity. How ridiculous.

    Europe will be islamic within a century.

  • jeburke

    Hundreds…out of millions? Big deal. In fact, if anyone was tracking conversion to Islam in the West, the numbers would be shocking. Most churches, including mine, the Roman, have given up evangelizing, near or far. Tragically.

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