MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–In the weeks and months that followed Sept. 11, 2001, churches across America reported a high increase in the number of attendees — and so did mosques across America.
“9/11 was a wakeup call. Suddenly people began to say, ‘What is Islam?’ and it was quite amazing after 9/11 that Muslims began saying, ‘Come to the mosque and find out what Islam is,’” said William Wagner, professor of missions at Golden Gate Theological Seminary and author of “How Islam Plans to Change the World,” a new book from Kregel Publications.
Wagner writes in his book that Islam has grown in America as a result of a detailed strategy that was already in place long before radical Islamists associated with Osama Bin Laden perpetrated the tragedies of Sept. 11.
“Islam is a world religion with a well-defined culture and a developed strategy for taking control of the world,” Wagner writes in the preface of the book.
One example Wagner noted was that those who went to the mosques following Sept. 11 were told that Islam “is a religion of peace, love and forgiveness and that there were few real terrorists in their faith,” as Wagner put it. “They did such a convincing job that some converted and others became vocal supporters of tolerance for Islam in their communities.”
Four years ago, Wagner set out to research six groups and their missiological strategies for growth: the Assemblies of God denomination, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims and the Southern Baptist Convention. Further into his research, he discovered that only three of the six had an overall mega-strategy of growth –- homosexuals, Mormons and Muslims. Even further into his research, Wagner became more impressed with the strategy that had long been expressed and set in motion by Islamic leaders.
Two of Wagner’s students at Golden Gate, both native Arabic speakers, were able to read well-accepted Arabic newspapers and magazines from the Middle East and then relate to Wagner what was being written. This coincided with Wagner’s own research and direct discussions with Islamic leaders.
“So much of my book is not saying, ‘This is what I as a Christian say they are doing or they are going to do,” Wagner said. “It’s a book saying it’s what they say they’re going to do and what they are doing.”
Part of Wagner’s research included reading documents of Islamic strategies, such as Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic Government.”
“In reading Khomeini’s Islamic Government, one has a tendency to compare it to Adolph Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’,” Wagner writes. “Both state clearly their grand ideas of world conquest, but people today do not take such writings seriously. The key difference between the two is that Hitler was an atheist while Khomeini claimed to be a man of God.”
Wagner identifies three specific tools that are utilized today in order to keep the overall Islamic strategy in place and ultimately advance the spread of the faith: jihad (holy war), da’wah (missions) and the building of mosques. Wagner said now he also identifies immigration as a fourth tool that is used, though it is not included in the book.
Wagner noted that it may seem strange to some people that the Muslim faith is growing, both in America and beyond in light of the faith’s link with Sept. 11, but he said the faith is growing “because they know what they are doing.”
“I think that we need to be aware that they really are a threat to us and that if we don’t wake up, one of these days it is going to be too late.”
How Islam Plans to Change the World is written from a missiological perspective rather than a theological one, Wagner noted, and it serves as a warning for the Christian church of the “clash of civilizations” that is already taking place between Islam and the West.
Though the book is not meant to be a condemnation of Islam, Wagner is unapologetic about his ultimate answer to the threat posed by Islam, since God has already revealed that Jesus Christ will be victorious in the end. In the concluding chapter of his book, Wagner writes, “The real antidote for the problems before us is clear. Let’s become much more active in living out our Christian faith and proclaiming the truth as found in Jesus Christ.”
Warner spent 32 years as a missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa, including 12 years as a chairman of the Muslim Awareness Committee of the European Baptist Federation.
Jan. 19, 2005