What I’ve Been Reading: Matthew Friedman, Union with God in Christ: Early Christian and Wesleyan Spirituality as an Approach to Islamic Mysticism. American Society of Missiology Monograph Series, vol. 32. (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017).
Have an interest in ancient Judaism, early Christianity, early Methodism, early Islam, Sufism, mysticism, theology, biblical studies, religion, or missiology? Then this book has something for you. It was written by Dr. Matt Friedman, Program Director and Professor of Global Ministry at Kingswood University, as work toward his Ph.D. in missiology at Asbury Theological Seminary.
Given its breadth and depth of subject matter and the care with which it is handled, it could only be written by someone uniquely prepared. That would be the right way to describe its author. Dr. Friedman is a completed and practicing Jew who spent nearly two decades doing mission work among Muslims.
My favourite part of this book is its closing chapter. There Dr. Friedman employs the insights collected throughout the earlier chapters to address fundamental missiological issues: “what might be gleaned from this research which may be useful in encouraging communities of faith in Jesus the Messiah in Sufi contexts. What might be helpful in moving individual, families and communities toward deeper union with God in Christ, and perhaps serve as building materials for a theology of mission and community for the Sufi context.”
These questions are explored with the mind of a well-trained and exacting scholar, the heart of a deeply devout Christ-follower, and the passion of a missionary. In remarkable fashion, Dr. Friedman takes us from the deepest scholarly depths to the most practical applications.
This book is a great example of how to discover and employ the resources God has already made available to reach the people He loves. Those involved in cross-cultural ministry will find it very helpful in suggesting a path forward. Those not so involved will still be encouraged as they see how God has not left Himself without a witness.