Baptist preacher Kent Philpott has a heart for sharing the Gospel with his Muslim neighbors. And he is ready to help you share the Good News as well with his second-edition book titled, “If Allah Wills.”
Philpott, pastor of evangelical churches for 45 years, former leader in the Jesus People Movement in San Francisco, has been writing about Islam since 2001.
(LISTEN TO A PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH KENT PHILPOTT: https://www.spreaker.com/embed/player/standard?episode_id=9026615&autoplay=false)
Since 1984 he has worked as pastor of Miller Avenue Baptist Church in Mill Valley, California. He was a long-time baseball coach for high schools and San Quentin State Prison.
Philpott is the director of Earthen Vessel Publishing and author of numerous books.
“If Allah Wills” has 15 chapters, seven appeals (asking Muslim readers to consider and reflect on a point), seven contrasts (asking Muslim readers to compare and contrast point of theology), and one appeal and contrast that essentially is asking Muslim readers to think critically about Islam. Philpott does not condemn Muslims or attack the tenets of Islam or the prophet Muhammad but reaches out with care and concern with an offer of the love and grace of Jesus.
I interviewed Philpott in June 2016 at the International Christian Retail Show in Cincinnati.
“I’ve always had an interest in Islam since 2001. Like many people I was angry at Muslim people, fearful and wondering what’s going on. For reasons I can’t explain I feel like God gave me a love for Muslim people.”
Philpott said his town holds the Muslim Center of Mill Valley. He began to reach out to the center’s congregation after he held an Islamic study class at his church. During that process, God changed his heart. He saw Islam as a dangerous religion, but instead of making him judgmental, he wanted to reach out to Muslims.
He invited a Sunni imam from the mosque to speak to his church, then did the same with a Shia imam, an Afghani living in the East Bay.
Philpott said he studied what the imams said. He conducted research on Islam using non-Christian materials so his research would not carry a Christian bias.
“I was afraid of that,” he said. “I had it in myself.”
His research brought him to such topics as Muslims who had become atheists or Sufis , such as reformer Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
“My interest was reaching them with the Gospel,” Philpott said. Muslims have a high regard for Jesus, but they consider him a prophet who will return on the day of judgment; Muslims deny the cross.
“If Allah Wills” is 116 pages; Philpott said he tried to keep it under 100 to keep the price low to help people buy it. The book is written to help Christians understand Islam and how to approach Muslims with the Gospel.
The book invites Muslims to examine what they believe. It does not attack them. The last chapter tells who Jesus is and goes through the seven “I am” statements Jesus made in the chapter of John in the Bible.
Philpott said he has a heart for Muslims, whom he said are stuck in their religion. It was only when he visited the mosque that he learned how “absolutely obsessive it becomes. To be a faithful Muslim you have to be an obsessive compulsive individual. I’m a little bit that way myself. I can see how these people are really trapped in it. It’s the ablutions, the washings, that are so consuming.”
Before praying in the mosque, Muslims must to go a room that is set aside for washing. They wash their hands up to the elbows and the feet up to the ankles. They wash the nose three times up to the base of the skull and then inhale because, Muslims believe, the jinn (supernatural creatures) come up into them through the nose, so you have to expel them to be pure before praying.
“It’s all-consuming. It’s far more than Christianity in what it’s demanding of you.”
Some Muslims become Sufis to try to reform the religion. (Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam.) To leave Islam is to lose all your identity, Philpott said.
Philpott said he has spoken the last couple of years with a number of ex-Muslims who became Christians after seeing Jesus in visions or dreams. “It takes that for them to convert, and even still they have a difficult time. Discipling Muslims is not easy. Their view of the Bible has been distorted.” They have learned defenses against the Bible since an early age in school.
“These are the most spiritual people,” he said. “These people want to know God and serve God.”
“If Allah Wills” is available on Amazon and on Philpott’s website, evpbooks.com. He and his wife Katie own Earthen Vessel Publishing. On evpbooks.com, use code friendofEVP to save 20 percent on “If Allah Wills,” normally a $7.95 cover price.