This ambition drives the Muslim world — and each faithful Muslim — to hope, pray and work for the submission of the whole world to the Qur’an. Clearly, most Muslims are not willing to employ terrorism in order to achieve this goal.

Nevertheless, it remains the goal.

Islam and the West offer two very different and fundamentally irreconcilable visions of society. While we are certainly not a nation at war with Islam, we are a nation that faces a huge challenge from the Islamic world — a challenge that includes terrorism, but also a much larger civilizational ambition that remains central. Anyone standing in Istanbul, the historic seat of Ottoman power, should certainly recognize that fact.

As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel, my primary concern about Islam is not civilizational or geopolitical, but theological. I believe that Jesus Christ is indeed, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and that no one comes to the Father but by him (John 14:6). Salvation is found only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the gospel of Christ is the only message that saves.

I can agree with President Obama that Islam has produced cultural wonders, but I have to see it more fundamentally as a belief system that is taking millions upon millions of persons spiritually captive — leaving them under the curse of sin and without hope of salvation.

For Christians, regardless of nationality, this is the great challenge that should be our urgent concern. Our concern is not mainly political, but theological and spiritual. And, all things considered, Islam almost surely represents the greatest challenge to Christian evangelism of our times.

This article is published in the Summer 2013 edition of The Southern Seminary Magazine. The entire issue takes up the theme “A Christian Understanding of Islam.” That theme is the mission of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam. To view the entire issue, go here:

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Publication date: July 5, 2013