Evangelical Christians across Europe have been urged by their leader not to demonize Islam or to fear the presence of Muslims across the continent. Instead they have been urged to see it as an opportunity to witness to the Gospel message.
The General Secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA), Gordon Showell-Rogers has told delegates at the EEA’s annual Assembly in Greece that Christians have nothing to fear from Islam in Europe.
In a keynote address on day two of the gathering, Dr Showell-Rogers reminded his audience and evangelicals throughout the world that Muslims in Europe still make up only a very small percentage of the total population – around 4.5 per cent.
He said that while migration has brought in Muslims, it has also brought in large numbers of Christians to the continent. Catholic migration into and across the continent is a notable phenomenon.
Rather than being intimidated by Islam’s growth in Europe, Showell-Rogers encouraged delegates to see an opportunity to develop relationships and witness to the Christian message.
He declared: “Evangelicals have nothing at all to fear from any form of Islam. Christ is greater than even the greatest of world religions,” he stated. “Instead of being afraid and ‘demonising’ people, we should see the presence of Muslim communities in Europe as a great evangelistic opportunity.”
Showell-Rogers' message will be welcomed by those who are concerned about what appears to some a growing paranoia about Islam in sections of the evangelical world. Leaders such as Patrick Sookhdeo have sounded apocalyptic messages.
However, other Christians are likely to question a lurking triumphalism in the message, and Muslims will resent the suggestion that they are a particular target for evangelisation - a tactic which has been condemned by church leaders, including conservatives like Anglican Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.