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About the course

Approaches to Islam: theological and practical is a video course taught by David W. Shenk, doctor of religious studies education and anthropology, produced by Trinity Video Seminary. The course covers twenty topics designed to help followers of Jesus understand the message of Islam, and faithfully commend the gospel of reconciliation as they engage with Muslims.

This university level course may be used for academic credit (independent study) or for personal learning. Students seeking academic credit must negotiate it with their respective universities; the course syllabus (below) outlines the various requirements each student's professor would oversee and/or create, including optional graduate credit requirements. For independent study, professors and students must adapt various elements, such as class attendance and small group discussions, according to students' circumstances.

The two required course texts are David W. Shenk's Journeys of the Muslim Nation and the Christian Church and Shenk and Badru Kateregga's A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue. See the syllabus (below) for details.

Introducing the course
1. Several years ago the Muslim Student Association in the U.K. invited me to engage in six 
    major dialogues. 
1.1 They said the reason they were inviting me was my books.
1.2 They added that my books reveal that I am committed to Jesus Christ and that I love
2. That observation is in harmony with my life commitment: 1 Peter 3:15
2.1 Be clear that Jesus is Lord.
2.2 Give account of the hope of the gospel to all who ask.
2.3 Do this with gentleness and respect.
3. My hope and prayer is that the spirit of this seminar will reflect those three principles.
3.1 I shall attempt to represent Islam in ways that Muslims would affirm. 
3.2 If Muslims acquire this seminar and they perceive that in any way I have distorted
      Islam, I invite them to contact me for I do not want to misrepresent Islam. 
3.3 Likewise, if Christians feel I have distorted the gospel, I invite them to contact me as
3.4 And although what I share reflects what I have learned over the years in many
      conversations with Muslim friends, I confess that I understand Islam imperfectly.    
      And I bring to the table a yearning to commend Christ. I am not an expert. I am on a
      journey learning what it means to be a faithful ambassador of the Christ in whom we
      are reconciled to God and to one another.

Approaches to Islam: Theological and Practical
Trinity Video Seminary
Professor David W. Shenk, Ph.D.

Course purpose 
To enable believers in Jesus Christ to understand the message of Islam and to be equipped to faithfully commend the gospel of reconciliation in their engagement with Muslims. 

Course objectives 
  1. Students will understand the beliefs and practices of Muslims. 
  2. Students will embrace the good news of the gospel of reconciliation. 
  3. Students will be equipped to commend Christ. 
  4. Students will deepen their commitment and develop approaches to peacemaking relations between Christians and Muslims. 
  5. Students will be prepared for informed theological discourse and dialogue with Muslims. 
Course texts
  1. David W. Shenk, Journeys of the Muslim Nation and the Christian Church, Exploring the Mission of Two Communities, Herald Press, Scottdale, Pa., U.S. (Russian edition: Bibles for All, St. Petersburg, Russian Republic) 
  2. Badru D. Kateregga and David W. Shenk, A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue, Herald Press, Scottdale, Pa., U.S. (Russian edition: Bibles for All, St. Petersburg, Russian Republic) 
Course requirements 
  1. Students will listen to the lectures addressing the 20 topics covered in this course. 
  2. Students will carefully read the outlines for each of the 20 topics. 
  3. Students will participate in and contribute to small group discussions. The class mentor/instructor will stop the video to give opportunity for these discussions. 
  4. Students taking the course as individuals without a class will write responses to the questions and write comments on the discussion themes that the small groups are addressing. 
  5. Students will read both A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue and Journeys of the Muslim Nation and the Christian Church. Students will read the texts indicated below before listening to the lecture on each topic. 

    Journeys, foreword

    Topic 1: My journey with Muslims 
    Journeys, preface

    Topic 2: Quiz: What do you know about Islam?      
    Journeys, chapter 1

    Topic 3: Early theological formation in the Arabian context
    Journeys, chapter 2
    Dialogue, chapters 1, 13

    Topic 4: The Muslim community (ummah)
    Dialogue, chapters 8, 21

    Topic 5: Muslim theology and praxis
    Dialogue, chapters 9, 10

    Topic 6: Adam and Eve
    Journeys, chapter 3
    Dialogue, chapters 2, 3, 4, 14, 15, 16

    Topic 7: Abraham: Ishmael and Isaac
    Journeys, chapter 4

    Topic 8: Muhammad and Jesus
    Journeys, chapter 5
    Dialogue, chapters 6, 7, 18, 19

    Topic 9: The Qur’an and the Bible
    Journeys, chapter 6
    Dialogue, chapters 5, 17

    Topic 10: Tanzil and incarnation 
    Journeys, chapter 7

    Topic 11: The hijrah and the cross
    Journeys, chapter 8

    Topic 12: Medina and Jerusalem
    Journeys, chapter 9
    Dialogue, chapter 12

    Topic 13: Tawhid and Trinity
    Journeys, chapter 10

    Topic 14: The hajj and the eucharist
    Journeys, chapter 11
    Dialogue, chapters 20, 22

    Topic 15: Shari’a is Muslim law
    Journeys, chapter 12
    Dialogue, chapters 11, 23

    Topic 16: The Shi’a or Shi’ite Muslims
    Dialogue, page 83

    Topic 17: The Sufi mystics
    Journeys, pages 213-217, chapter 13

    Topic 18: Folk and secularist Islam

    Topic 19: Principles for ministry among Muslims
    Journeys, chapter 14
    Dialogue, chapter 24

    Topic 20: An open door
    Journeys, chapter 15
    Dialogue, conclusion

  6. After reading chapter one of Journeys, students will write an essay on this theme: In what ways do modern approaches that are similar to Constantine make it difficult for Muslims to understand the gospel? 
  7. After reading chapters two through fifteen of Journeys, students will select one of the questions at the end of the chapter and write a one-page essay in response. 
  8. Students will also write a 5-page essay on the Dialogue. This essay will examine five themes, such as God (chapters 1 and 13) or creation (chapters 2 and 14), describing ways in which the themes are similar and ways in which the themes are different in the Christian and Muslim faiths. 
  9. Students will complete a final examination. 
Course assessment 
  1. Attendance and class participation: 25%
  2. The 14 one-page Journeys essays: 30%
  3. The five-page Dialogue comparison essay: 20% 
  4. The final examination: 25% 
Additional course requirements for graduate students 
For students taking the course for graduate credit, there will be two additional requirements: 
  • Reading one or two additional books totaling at least 500 pages and related to the theme of Islam and writing a five-page review/response.
  • Writing a five-page essay on the theme: The gospel is good news for Muslims. This essay will explore the yearnings within Muslim faith and practice and suggest ways that Jesus Christ of the New Testament fulfills those yearnings. 
The course assessment for graduate students will be as follows: 
  • Attendance and class participation: 20% 
  • The 14 one-page Journeys essays: 20% 
  • The five-page Dialogue comparison essay: 15% 
  • The five-page book review/response: 15% 
  • The five-page essay on the gospel as good news: 15% 
  • The final examination: 15%