Islamic Center in Williamsburg, Virginia
Everyday on my drive home from work, I pass by a house that always catches my curiosity: There is an Islamic mosque off to the side. I have often wondered, who really goes to that mosque? Why do they go? What goes on inside?
Over the past few years, I have had the privilege to make friends with some young men who attend that mosque. They are a nice bunch of guys. How much do they really know about Jesus? I am not sure yet.
Before I met these guys, I never knew that much about the history of Islam. So I thought it might be best to take some time to learn. What is the bigger story behind how a group of young men from the Islamic world ended up in my town? That is how I stumbled upon an Audible.com audiobook by Tamim Ansary, Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes.
Thomas Aquinas, by Fra Bartolomeo. During a period of Islamic ascendancy in medieval Europe, Aquinas led the way as a follower of Jesus to transform history.
According to the U.S. Census of 2010, Islam is the fastest growing religious movement in America, increasing 66.7% over the previous ten years, as compared to only a 1.7% increase among evangelical Protestants. How do we best relate the Gospel to Muslims? Here is a nugget from church history on Thomas Aquinas and the influx of Islam into medieval Europe with lessons for today.
So, how did the medieval church respond to the overwhelming cultural influence carried by the Arab Muslims into Christian Europe? Enter in Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas was a young Dominican monk in the 13th century as he thought about the growing influence of Islam throughout the known “Christian” world. But Aquinas knew that the famous ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, was perhaps the most important thinker enlisted by the Muslims to support Islamic belief. Aquinas began a nearly lifelong study of Aristotle. His magisterial Summa contra Gentiles was written in about 1264 largely as an apologetic treatise for use by Christian missionaries when explaining the faith to Muslim critics. In Summa contra Gentiles, he comments extensively on Aristotle, the great pagan thinker, in an effort to defend the Gospel.