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.