During the Strange Fire conference, folks were asked to fill out some note cards with questions they wanted us to answer concerning spiritual gifts, charismatics, and other Strange Fiery stuff. We received a ton of questions; I think something like 150 cards with good, thoughtful questions inquiring into various subjects regarding charismatics.
Todd Friel committed us publicly to answering every one, and I am a part of the team slowly responding to them. An official place on the GTY website should pop up soon.
Anyhow, with the group of questions I received, at least 10 or so were asking about the phenomena of Muslims allegedly seeing visions of Jesus, or perhaps having a dream about Him that ultimately brings that Muslim to faith in Christ and the Christian faith.
There is a book about it, there’s a website dedicated to the subject, and Joel Rosenberg is one of the major reporters of the stories.
I have heard them all, too, so I welcomed the questions as a way to do a little research and provide a meaningful response, so thought I would post my raw, unedited and brief answer here for folks to consider.
Some of the more frequently asked questions we received at the Strange Fire conference came from folks wondering about what we thought of the stories concerning Muslims who allegedly see a vision or have a dream about Jesus who personally directs the individual to salvation. Those stories are often shared with emotion and excitement on both charismatic and non-charismatic Christian media. They allegedly demonstrate that God is actively at work among Muslims in Islamic countries that are otherwise shut to the evangelistic ministries of Christian missionaries.
Though it should be recognized that God can communicate the Gospel message in any fashion He so chooses, the NT teaching on evangelism involves God proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the lost world by the means of human preaching, see for example Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 1:16, 10:13-15, and 1 Corinthians 1:21. The Gospel message comes by the preacher who preaches biblical and theological content as contained in Scripture. The recipients hear that message and then respond to it by either rejecting the message or believing in it with a supernaturally produced faith.
If Muslims are having dreams about Jesus who then in turn directs them to salvation, such an activity would seem to have God contradicting what He has clearly ordained in Scripture as the only legitimate means of Gospel evangelism for the Church age.
Usually it is argued that because Islam is so violently hostile to Christianity and virtually no missionary efforts can ever happen in those Islamic countries, that the only alternative is Jesus appearing in dreams to individual Muslims who then seek salvation in Christ. But if we trust that God is the one who is sovereign over all nations (Acts 17:26) and is the author and finisher of salvation, then why can He not open up those Islamic nations for missionary endeavors? Such a view, however, suggests that God’s absolute sovereignty in the salvation of men and the divine means of evangelism He has ordained through human evangelists is now limited by Muslims and hostile Islamic governments. Certainly no one wants to believe God had to change His means of the Gospel being heralded throughout the world in order to accommodate hostile Muslims.
Though we want to rejoice with those unbelieving sinners who come to faith in Christ, if such is truly happening, at the same time we want to be faithful to what we have revealed to us in Scripture as to the means God has ordained for His evangelistic purposes. Visions and dreams of Jesus (or “Isa” to Muslims) is something outside of those efforts and we would rather fall on the side of extreme caution in accepting such stories as unquestionable and true.
A former pastor at Grace has written a two part series on this very subject that goes into a bit more detail than we can offer here and I would recommend checking them out for further study,
An Evaluation of Muslim Dreams and Visions of Jesus [Part 1] and [Part 2]
And then I found one extra article at the same site where I found those other two. I thought the author provided a clear perspective of the phenomena. Don’t You Believe It.
The local church I am a member of supports a missionary family in Turkey. I forwarded this link to him as an encouragement. Thank you Fred.
1. Slight correction to the statement “human preaching” from paragraph 2 (of the main text). Revelation 14:6 shows and angel preaching the gospel. Now – in the current age, I would probably say human preaching is the ordained means…but that isn’t the only means, necessarily. As well, I would maintain a person can “hear” the gospel by simply reading the pages of scripture or a tract and God can save a person through those means of transmitting the power of salvation, the gospel.
2. The idea of Muslims in remote areas NEVER hearing of the story of Christ – THEN having a dream about him which saves them is not only unscriptural, but asinine on the surface.
BUT – I do not believe that everyone is as ignorant as we think. Many, many people have heard the story of Jesus through one means or another. If I may say, they’ve heard enough to “repent and believe.”
If one of these people has a dream or thoughts about Jesus and that is one of the components that leads the person to finally submitting to Christ – I am fine with that. It is God who sovereignly regenerates, so we know that it is in some sense only incidental that the person had an experience which may seem to have led them to Christ.
Like if you share the gospel with me Thursday, then Sunday morning I come to believe during a sermon at church – I don’t think you could say “which” gospel presentation led to my salvation. If both were faithfully preached, then who cares? God saved me and he used the immediate circumstance and all previous parts of my life to lead me to that point, including every time I heard the story.
HSAT – It is possible that many of the conversion we are hearing about are simply false. Look at the Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani guy? He is a devout anti-trinitarian God hating fool who still gladly stands against Islam “in the name of Jesus.”
Thanks for the comments, I’ll add my brief, supplemental comments:
#1 – McBride deals with the angel preaching the gospel in his articles, so I will refer you to that. It is inaccurate to equate a one time, eschatological event to the normative ordination of preaching and evangelism.
#2 – Typically, the reality when investigated is that the Muslims had already heard the Gospel or had contact with Christians or missionaries. Hence, most of the stories that are repeated, that Muslims had a dream about Jesus and went on a quest for missionaries are exaggerated and inaccurate. Similar to your suggestion that you are “heard” the Gospel on Thursday and then get saved on Sunday at church.
If they are genuinely being saved, the biggest question is where is the fruit of such things? Certainly Muslims are coming to Christ. This is especially true now that God has brought the internet to their world and they have access to biblical preaching in their homes through their cellphones. However, if there is this record number of Muslims being saved by dreams throughout all the Islamic territories, I would think there would be more evidence of such things on a societal level. Perhaps people will point to increased persecution, which maybe the case, but typically such persecution is against established Christian ethnic groups.
Lastly, I think you are correct with your conclusion. That many of these stories are false or exaggerated and not happening at all or people are being turned to a “false” Jesus.
Agreed – My only point in #1 was to say that human preaching isn’t the only means God hath provided. I agree angelic means are not normative, nor would angelic means be likely to be used before the tribulation.
Yes, I love your point – IF there are so many people being saved all over – WHY don’t we see more fruit? Between all the reports I’ve heard, we ought to outnumber most other religions now. Sounds sorta postmillenial to me. :)
Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.
I originally heard about this on the above “Fighting For The Faith” program in July last year. Chris didn’t offer an opinion one way or the other as he interviewed his old friend Uwe Siemon-Etto. I linked the above blog that shares more of his interview. Thoughts?
You mean my thoughts about Chris not offering an opinion one way or another? Like I implied in my post, I hold such stories with extreme suspicion.
Thoughts on Uwe Siemon-Etto’s blog post on “The Other Iranian Revolution”?
Being an “ex-charismaniac” now Reformed, I’m extremely suspicious these days too.
My best wild guess about all this is that in many, if not most cases, these dreams reflect the daytime yearnings of the muslims who have them. They may have heard a little here or there about Jesus and it could be prompting wishes for a better, more meaningful lives and so they dream about Him. Like you, I’m extremely cautious about considering some of them as divine messages to individuals. But even if the vast majority, if not all of these dreams are purely self-generated, I can still rejoice if they play a part in leading a muslim to a true, saving faith in Jesus. Even if these dreams are not divine revelation, I would be very glad should God use them as a means of pointing the way to Christ.
Amen to that.
Thank you for this and also the link that attempts to look at this phenomenon Biblically
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When I was studying at Biola University I took an Intro to Islam course by Professor Jeff Morton. He brought in an Arabic man with a thick accent who said he was a radical jihadist before he was saved. He said he memorized the Quaran as a kid and could sing it. He said how he got saved was he had a dream and Jesus appeared to him and talked to him. That was how he said he got saved. I graduated Biola with a degree in Intercultural Studies which studies missions a lot and what they talk alot about at that institution is all the wild miraculous stories. So I was led to believe it could be possible. I was ALWAYS cessationist and sort of skeptical of the dream stories, but then kind of believed it could happen or did. Now after reading this and also John MacArthur’s response to questions for the Strange Fire Conference I feel more convinced these stories are probably fake. Now it makes me wonder, was that Arabic guy a fraud or false Christian lying for attention? I wish I remembered his name!!!! I would look him up now. Or maybe he was just a very emotional guy who looks into things or his thoughts or dreams in an odd way.
Also, does anyone remember that book about the Hindu Guru who was a top Brahman yogi who talks about the deception of Hinduism and then claims he had a dream of a man in white telling him to believe in Jesus? The book is called “Death of a Guru” by Rabindranath R. Maharaj. What do you think of his testimony?
I don’t know what to tell you, especially without hearing the man speak and listening to his testimony. I wouldn’t say he is a fraud or a liar, but I would certainly challenge his assertions. It could be that he is maybe reading way more into his experience than what was really there.
Like I state in my article, I rejoice that there are Muslims coming to Christ, but I am truly skeptical of the dream testimonies because they represent a presentation of the Gospel that is not biblical. The Bible provides for us a clear outline as to how faith comes by hearing and hearing by the proclamation of the Gospel. Why would God change that?
I agree with you 100% and found this artcile very helpful so I thank you for that. but the man at Biola who was visiting our class literally said he saw Jesus personally and it was some vision.
Also have you heard of the Death of a Guru book? If you can find it he talks ind epth about his hindu experiences and then later when he is converted he said he saw a man in a white hooded outfit pleading with him or something….that it was either Jesus or an angel. A lot of hindus are also claiming dreams…or actually a lot of people are claiming hindus are seeing dreams. Same with buddists.
I am also skepitcal.
I found this blog accidentally through a google search. Just wanted to mention my appreciation of all that G2Y and John MacArthur have done for the body over the years. But I have to say… I am a Christian who has lived in 4 Islamic nations, and I personally know multiple Muslim friends who have approached me to explain supernatural dreams where Jesus has come to them speaking Arabic and saying things like, “Follow, Me, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” One guy even said he had a dream where an angel told him to “follow the footsteps that lead to heaven” and he saw footsteps leading into a beautiful house. This happened the day before he met me, and he broke down crying saying that the footsteps had to be mine after I shared the gospel with him! I’m not making this stuff up, and I’m not a fool – I am a PhD candidate in Theology at a leading university. I don’t know what to make of this stuff except to say, maybe we need to start allowing God be God. I find no contradiction between this and being a strong believer in biblical revelation. There’s simply no other way to explain my experiences. And by the way, I’m as Reformed as it gets theologically!
Sorry, just to follow up… We know that faith comes through hearing the gospel, preached (primarily) by Jesus’ followers. However, 2,000 years after Jesus came and died and rose and charged us with preaching to the ends of the earth, there are still huge swaths of the planet where local people have never even met a follower of Jesus, let alone heard the gospel in their language. Do we honestly expect God to sit around for another two millennia and let all these people die and go to hell because millions of Christians in places like my home country of America are sitting around debating ‘whether or not such and such’ is happening in Muslim countries instead of actually going there ourselves and preaching?!! So that’s why I said “primarily” above – it seems to me that faith is also coming through hearing the gospel preached by Jesus himself! If you don’t like this fact (and it is a fact because I know my Muslim friends and I know the genuineness of their faith in Christ now), then maybe you should get up and go preach in a far off land so Jesus doesn’t have to do it himself. He loves people! Our God is a good God! Yes, only a few will find eternal life – those whom the Father has appointed. But how long will the church in the West slumber and squabble while untold millions keep dying? As I said, I am as strong a Calvinist as anyone can be, but let me encourage us not to be hyper-Calvinists who end up missing out on the blessing of partnering with God in his global mission. Instead let us follow the example of Paul, to strive with all of Christ’s might to preach in order that the elect may be saved from every nation, tribe, and tongue.
Muslims all over the Middle East are experiencing intense and very vivid dreams and visions of Jesus. I’ve heard about/read many testimonies in which Muslims who were very grounded in their Muslim heritage received a visitation from Jesus, in which he told them to “follow him”. They’re usually short, straight-to-the-point, purposeful visitations, and Muslims always describe Jesus as wearing a white robe and emanating light. They say he radiates immense peace and love. He says things like, “follow me”, “come to me”, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, and “I am with you; I love you”.
Just to clarify, they’re not “saved” in these visions/dreams, but tend to receive Jesus after they’ve spoken to a Christian about their experience or read a Bible. Obviously, a visitation from Jesus is only the beginning of these Muslims’ journeys. Jesus is appearing to them to invite them. Many of them have pretty big hurdles to overcome having been told all their lives that Christians worship three gods and that Jesus was only a prophet, so naturally they’ll seek to find out more.
We definitely need to be open-minded about the fact that droves of Muslims who live in places that are extremely hostile to the Christian faith are miraculously being introduced to Jesus through dreams and visions. These are people who know that converting to Christianity in these places results in severe persecution and death, but they have such firm faith in who Jesus is as a result of their visions that they are willing to follow him regardless. Jesus is doing an incredible thing right now. To add, it’s absolutely biblical, and was even prophesised about. Let’s not forget that God said, “In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17).
I highly recommend Tom Doyle’s book “Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?” Tom’s been a missionary in the Middle East for over a decade, and has encountered so many ex-Muslims in a variety of places who were visited by Jesus in a dream or vision. The testimonies in it are amazing.
Also, God might be using dreams and visions to reach these people because so many of them are severely barred off from the Gospel where they live, and have no contact with Christians. Jesus said we can know a person by their fruits. What do these people’s lives reflect after receiving these dreams/visions, and ultimately salvation? They reflect love and zeal for Jesus, and a willingness to follow him and spread the Gospel despite the daily threat of persecution, rejection from family members, imprisonment and death. So many of them have suffered immensely.
Never before have so many Muslims accepted Jesus at such a rapid rate. You can’t deny that he’s doing something incredible over there, and these visions/dreams are a huge factor in it. Statistics even show that a high percentage of Muslim converts to Christianity say they accepted Jesus after receiving a dream/vision.
so then do you have proof of this happening Anthony, as well why arent we seeing demographic changes in islamic countiries if that what you said was true?
Cessationism is not based on any exegesis on the New Testament, but rather eisegsis (reading into the text). While I agree that the books of the Old and New Testament are infallible and inerrant, there is NO text that you can point to that states that signs and wonders, dreams and visions, supernatural healings, etc., ended at the apostolic era or soon after. For example, the most frequently cited ”prooftext” given by adherents of cessationism is I. Cor. 13:8-9: “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”
In the exegetical context of I Cor. 13, it is clear that Paul is speaking of the eternal nature of love, that will never end, even when the “perfect” or “completeness” of time is over, meaning that in the presence of Jesus, we will have no more need of any gifts. What does this “perfect”or “completeness” mean in this passage? In the context of the passage, what Paul means here is further explained in the next verses: What is the meaning of “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10? First Corinthians 13:10-12 declares, “but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” In other words, in the eternal state when all believers are completely “perfected,” i.e., given glorified bodies and live eternally with God, all such giftings will be unnecessary, but love will still exist eternally.
There is absolutely no basis for claiming that God no longer speak speaks to people since the completion of the biblical New Testament canon. NONE. The prophet Joel, amongst many other Old Testament prophetic passages, clearly speaks of God moving supernaturally in the last days amongst mankind, with the partial fulfillment of it beginning when the Spirit was poured out among the disciples at Pentecost (Joel 2:28, etc). Like most Old Testament prophecies, there are early partial fulfillments and later complete fulfillments.
I was a missionary for many years in Turkey, and I encountered Muslims who had dreams/visions of Christ, some of whom as a result became Christians later Of course, the visions/dreams are just the beginning typically of their spiritual journey, and not the end, and teaching/discipleship are needed of course. They also need to completely reject Muhammad and Islamic teaching and solely embrace Christ and the fact He is God, died & rise again, etc. God moves in response to the earnest intercession of His people for the unreached people groups of the earth, whether for western atheists, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, and His sovereign moves include dreams/visions.
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/perfect-1Corinthians-13-10.html#ixzz2xMaWIdxn
Apostle paul was converted without a missionary. Jesus personally appear to him. Then He led him to be instructed by christians. Don’t put God in a box of what He can or cannot do. He can reach Muslims personally in vision. Those skeptic christians are resorting to bibliotary and forgot that Jesus IS the word and not a book. The bible is good for instructing the soul for ALL christians. But gospel mission is not restricted to the tools God used. Jesus is a person who has a choice to do independent or hand in hand of. Missionaries
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I am a Christian and received many amazing dreams and visions seen as a deciever among my own yet true!
Sorry, I don’t mean to suddenly come in into your conversation. I just find the dreams & visions in the Muslim world fascinating.
I have been traveling to the region in the last 20 years and I witnessed more & more 1) Muslims becoming more practicing, 2) Coptic & Maronite priests turning to Islam, and even lots of Ex-Christians from other continents studying Arabic in private schools (Cairo, Dar Essalam, Muscat, Fez, Tunis …etc) solely to read the Quran in its original language.
This phenomenon has triggered my curiosity & hidden faith and I have for the first time considered organized religion and reading both the bible & quran side-by-side.
I wish I could find genuine ex-Muslims to read their conversion stories. I am very interested to know their path to Christianity. Unfortunately, the only ones I found were the ones from “Islamophobia Industry”, the likes of Kamal Saleem, Walid Shoabat, Ergun Caner (all exposed in the US media) who are more interested in smear campaigns against Muslims that preaching the Gospel or comparative theology.
Also, assuming that these Ex-Muslims stories are genuine, their inaccuracies about their former faith make me believe that they must be the most ignorant and insincere Muslim in the past. I am sure they wouldn’t make a good Christian either, as they will transfer their ignorance & insincerity to their new faith.
Still in my early search, I wonder why a Muslim would want to turn to a mysterious faith (Christianity) with triggers such as death, life purpose, sickness… etc., when the alternative (Islam) is more holistic, coherent, rational, natural and spiritual.
On a theological note, why would a Middle Eastern Jew “Jesus” has a European Blonde appearance in their dream? Contrary to Christian theology, why would revelation & Jesus reappearance (rather than the Holy Ghost) happen after his resurrection & ascendance? Why would a pure monotheist (Muslim) go from a belief in an Eternal CREATOR to an incarnated CREATION limited by time & space?
I would have thought that the following verses would make them more practicing Muslim.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one”. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
“He asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”. “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”. (Mark 12:28)
“Say: He, Allah, is One. Allah , the Eternal, Absolute. He on Whom all depend. The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks).The Everlasting Sovereign. He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none like unto Him, no equivalent & no co-equal. (Quran 112:1)
“There is no god but He, the Living, The Self-subsisting, the Sustainer. No slumber or sleep overtakes Him; to Him belongs all that is in heavens and in the Earth. Who will intercede with Him except by his consent. He knows their present, their future and what surrounds them , and they do not have any of His knowledge except for what He permits. His throne extends over the heavens and the Earth and it is easy for Him to preserve them. For He is the Most High, the Supreme”. (Quran 2:255)
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I used to be a Muslim. And GOD did use dreams to bring me to salvation, church was involved. GOD revealed specificly Son of GOD in a dream. He directed me to scripture. One big struggle for Muslims is His Son Jesus. It is one area that muslims struggle to believe. Because they are taught from the very young age GOD is one and He doesn’t have a family as Son.
So had you never before heard of Jesus? Or did your dream simply confirm what you had already heard, that Jesus is the Son of God?
The question is whether God told you about Jesus APART from anyone giving you the word from the Bible.
I didn’t know a lot about Bible. I was opposition to the idea of a Son. I heard about Jesus, but not a very good way. We were thought that He was human, not GOD. So that’s all I knew. I walked in a church to prove they were wrong. I was rude in my heart towards them, but they just loved on me. They tried to help me understand, but Bible especially the metephore part never made any sense. Every muslim knows Christians call Him Son of GOD. That part I knew.
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