Dreams and Visions, Muslims’ Miraculous Journey to Jesus by Rick Kronk (Italy: Destiny Image Europe, 2010), pp. 185, paper $11.69.

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It is widely reported today that many Muslim people are coming to Christ as a direct result of dreams and visions apparently given to them by the Lord.  Rick Kronk, who has spent 20 years ministering to Islamic people, believes these reports are legitimate and has written this book in an attempt to prove his thesis.

Kronk begins his book with a story of one Muslim who was converted through dreams.  This is followed by a brief but helpful chapter on the history of Islam and an overview of its core doctrinal beliefs.  Kronk offers a 2009 report claiming that there are now 1.57 billion Muslims in the world or 23% of the world’s population (p. 31).  Without question Islam has caught the attention of the world and its influence is undeniable.  Yet the author believes many Muslims are also coming to salvation these days and, of the ones who do, between 25-45% do so, at least in part, because of a divinely given dream or vision (p. 46). That such is the case would not surprise former Muslims who are now Christians and apparently should not surprise anyone else, for dreams and visions have always played a vital role in Islamic life (pp. 65-67).  It was as a direct result of visions that Muhammad founded the religion and dreams have been sought, encouraged and interpreted ever since.  Islam, especially on a popular level, simply could not exist without dreams and visions.  In the best two paragraphs of the book, Kronk references the analysis of Bill Musk whose research suggest that deistic religions, such as Islam (which believe in a powerful but distant deity who is not involved in everyday life), produces followers who are:

emotionally driven to invent a so-called “intermediate reality” because of their dissatisfaction with being out of touch with a deistic god. This intermediate reality is often filled with numerous categories of quasi-divine beings and superstitious rituals intended to give meaning to and answer the questions of the everyday routine of life…Because the primary tenets of the Islam are built upon the dual understanding of the extreme transcendence of Allah and the ultimate submission of humankind, the Islamic faith becomes a natural breeding ground for intermediate, superstitious and folk elements of which dreams and visions are primary (p. 71).

This is an insightful analysis, one that Kronk apparently sees as valid when related to dreams promoting the Islamic faith.  But the author accepts the dreams of Muslims which have Christian connotations as being from God.  He spends the bulk of his book attempting to prove this theory using a variety of evidences:

• Anecdotal experiences:  This is Kronk’s primary “proof” and he fills his book with such stories.  He never attempts to address the fact that virtually every religion in the world and every cult and “ism” makes the same claims, and thus dreams and visions can never form the basis of our faith.  Nevertheless, he closes his book with the assurance that it is “undeniable” that the reported dreams and visions are coming from God (see pp. 95-110, 164).

• Our Western worldview has preconditioned us to reject the supernatural and that must be changed. (pp. 12, 67, 74, 79, 84-85, 143, 152, 163).  By Western worldview Kronk is referring to a purely secular, naturalistic, postmodern understanding of life.  He contrasts the Western worldview with that of Islam and Scripture (pp. 76-79), and determines that the Islamic worldview is more in line with God’s Word.  Unfortunately, while the author offers strong criticisms of Western thought and calls for Westerners to change their paradigm, he never does the same for Islamic thought.  Instead, if we want to evangelize Muslims it is essential, he believes, to contextualize the gospel to accommodate the Islamic worldview (pp. 73, 92-93, 163-164).  That is, we must abandon the Western worldview and accept an Islamic one.  This can only be acceptable to Christians if the Islamic worldview is in line with the biblical worldview.  This leads to Kronk’s next two pieces of evidence.

• The early church believed that dreams and visions were a reliable means of revelation.  This was not changed until Thomas Aquinas, who in Kronk’s view was wrong (p. 79).  Further, even some within the Western system have seen the importance of dreams including, of all people, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (pp. 86-93, 135).  So, apparently, given that Western psychology agrees with Islamic thought, Christians should too.  Kronk even offers a misguided attempt to force Francis Schaeffer into this camp (pp. 80-85).  Schaeffer would not be supportive, however, of Kronk’s use of him as a proponent of dreams and visions.  In How Should We Then Live, he writes,

The next accepted version in the Western life in the area of nonreason was the religious experience of Hinduism and Buddhism.  This grasping for a nonrational meaning to life and values is the central reason that these Eastern religious are so popular in the West today.  Goethe, Wagner, and others had opened the door to Eastern thinking with their vague pantheism.  But it came flood-like into the West with Huxley and the emphasis on drugs, for it followed naturally in the line of what people had been putting into the area of nonreason in the hope of finding meaning and values.  Young people (and older ones) tried the drug trip and then turned to the Eastern religious trip.  Both seek truth inside one’s own head and both negate reason. (The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol I. p.186).              
 
• The Bible often demonstrates God speaking through dreams and visions and there is no reason He would not do the same today (pp. 111-135). 

Ultimately, whether or not today’s stories of Muslim’s dreams and visions are biblical is the determining factor.  Does Kronk’s scriptural defense of these stories hold up?  I do not believe it does.  For a biblical argument to the contrary I refer to my book Is That You Lord?  Following this review I have added a portion of an article I have previously written on this subject briefly outlining why I reject biblical interpretations such as the one given by Kronk.

Dreams and Visions is a good book to explain why many evangelicals are beginning to accept the dreams and visions of Muslims coming to Christ as legitimately from God.  I believe the better explanation is found in the analysis of Bill Musk mentioned above (p. 71).

 

Below is a portion of an article that I have previously written on this subject.

Islamic Visions and Evangelism

An interesting phenomenon of late is the reports of dreams and visions among unbelievers, predominately the Muslims.  The Muslim culture has long placed great credence on dreams and supernatural appearances of angels and genies (just take a look at The Arabian Nights), but not Allah, who distances himself from the everyday affairs of this world.  In a recent edition of the official magazine for Avant, a conservative evangelical mission, a short article substantiates the mission’s support of such visions. The author, Shanna DiPaolo, writes about mission work among Muslims in Central Asia,

The people of the Dust Valley are in tune with their dream life and they believe that God speaks to them through dreams. Less than one percent of the Central Asian population is Christian; of that slim percentage, team leader Miles believes a spiritual dream factors into nearly every believer’s testimony… The team has experienced God using dreams in the lives of Central Asians whom they know personally, and they are [therefore] praying expectantly for more. [6]
The following story is apparently representative:
[An Islamic woman] was standing at the back of a large crowd of people, all facing a figure who was emanating a brilliant light.  She realized the bright figure was Jesus, and watched as He wrapped His arms around the entire crowd.  Suddenly, she felt a hand on her back, and startled, she realized that He had included her in His arms.  Finding the courage was easy after that.  The dream was a clear indicator that Jesus was God’s son, and she accepted Him wholeheartedly.  She woke up and believed.[7]
As a result of accounts such as these “Team Central Asia continues to pray for more dreams.”  The author states, “Only Jesus can call people and convict them of their need for Him.  One of the primary ways he does that in the Muslim world is through a dream.”[8]
What are we to make of such claims?  First, let us not be too quick to accept the supposed experiences of anyone with a story.  The Christian community has often been embarrassed by promotion of sensational stories that later proved phony.  It is wise to document any such assertions carefully before accepting it as genuine.  When relaying such stories one often finds that someone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who allegedly had a vision.  Such reports are impossible to verify and Christians who desire to stand for truth should not be guilty of spreading such yarns as it undermines our credibility as ambassadors for Christ.   For more on what amounts to “urban-legends” read the Think on These Things article for October 2008, “Don’t You Believe It” written by Richard Fisher.[9]
Of course debate on the validity of experiences is ultimately a dead-end.  I cannot prove or disprove your experiences, nor can you mine.  People often ask me, given my view of the cessation of revelation from God for this era, to explain their experiences.  My typical response is to say that “I cannot explain your experiences but I can show you what the Word of God says on the subject.”  Another problem is the issue of interpretation.  We have all had dreams that were vivid and sometimes disturbing.  It is not so much what we dreamed but how we interpret our dream that matters.  Usually, in the West, we dismiss dreams as too much pizza or just a random collection of incoherent thoughts.  At other times dreams might be a strange reflection of what is on our minds during the day.  But to determine that dreams are a revelation from God is a step of interpretation not of reality. And if someone decided that in fact God had spoken through a dream then comes the task of trying to figure out exactly what God is saying. Without the direct aid of the Lord this can be a difficult, if not impossible, assignment — just ask Old Testament Daniel.
Nevertheless, the ensuing discussion sometimes elicits the response that God can do anything He wants to do, to which I reply with the words I have borrowed from a respected pastor from my past, “Yes, God can do anything He wants to do but we expect Him to do the things He says He will do.”
We find what God says He will do in the Bible and it is vital that in this discussion we take a look at what God reveals to us there. The biblical picture, both by practice and precept, is that evangelism takes place through the natural means of communication by human beings.  The apostles, and others, traveled throughout the known first century world spreading the gospel through normal conversation and proclamation.  At no place mentioned in the New Testament (concerning the church age) did the Lord choose to use angels, visions, dreams or other supernatural means to preach the gospel.  Nor did Paul, or the other evangelists, come across individuals whose hearts had been prepared in advance for the good news.  Whole people groups and nations were introduced to Jesus Christ by the direct and normative means of communication without any hint of visions and dreams playing a role.
There are two possible exceptions to this pattern.  First is Paul’s Damascus Road experience in which Jesus Christ actually appeared to Paul. Even in this account Jesus never proclaims the gospel to Paul but sends him to Ananias who apparently does. The second exception is in reference to Cornelius in Acts chapter 10.  In verses three through six we find that Cornelius, an unsaved Gentile, is given a vision of an angel telling him to send for Peter who would ultimately lay out the gospel for him.  I am not saying, therefore, that visions and dreams were not occasionally given to prophetic individuals and the apostles who served as the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20) and the inspired authors of the New Testament, but we need to dig a little deeper.  It must be admitted that even these visitations were extremely rare, with only thirteen found in all the book of Acts, eight of which were to Paul or Peter.  This leaves only five other individuals in the entire book of Acts who are recorded as having some form of vision from the Lord.  Four of those are believers who receive direct communication from God or angels: Philip, Ananias, Agabus, and the church at Antioch.  The only unregenerate person receiving a vision is Cornelius.   There simply does not exist a New Testament model in which the unsaved are hearing from God in a supernatural form.  And the one example we do have is that of an angel who does not present the gospel; salvation comes  later through the witness of a mortal man, not through a vision or dream.  Therefore the present day testimonies concerning dreams and visions in which the gospel is being shared are without biblical warrant or precept.  Even the one example of Cornelius hardly opens the flood gates for the multitude of reports that is being generated.
More importantly, however, is the direct teaching of the New Testament on the proclamation of the gospel.  Not only do we have no instance in the NT of the gospel being given through dreams and visions, or through the mediation of angels or the Lord Himself, but the Scriptures are clear that the gospel witness was to be through the mediation of humans. Romans 10:14-17 lays out the case – no one can call upon the name of the Lord (and thus be saved) if they do not believe in Him.  They cannot believe in Him if they have never heard of Him, and they cannot hear without a preacher.  That this is a mortal preacher, not an angelic one, is confirmed by the fact that the Lord blesses the feet (“how beautiful”) of those who bring the good news.  It is not inconsequential that Christ commanded men to travel the globe, making disciples and teaching them to observe His teachings (Matt 28:19-20 Acts 1:8). Nor do we find preparatory work (pre-evangelism) in the New Testament through visions and dreams (except in the case of Cornelius).  The task of evangelizing and developing disciples is given to the followers of Christ, not to angels.  It is accomplished through the proclamation of the good news and instruction through the Word – and this through the ministry of human beings.
When we couple the direct teaching of the New Testament with the indisputable examples found throughout, one is hard-pressed to make a valid case for the dreams being reported in the Muslim world today.  You don’t have to be a cessationist (one who believes that revelation for today has ceased) such as I am, to see the problems with these supposed dreams.  If we take our cue from Scripture, rather than subjective experiences, we find virtually no warrant for such dreams and visions.
Having said all of this, it would be appropriate to ask how we should handle those who lay claim to such dreams.  The Muslim world is filled with a belief in supernatural dreams.  Obviously, the Christian would recognize that most of these dreams have no basis in reality, especially since most would be interpreted in relation to an Islamic worldview which is anti-Christ.  But if a Muslim individual claimed to have dreamed of Jesus and is now interested in what Jesus has to say, what should we do?  In addressing this question to one Jordanian missionary, I thought he gave wise counsel.  While he does not believe that Muslims are actually receiving supernatural dreams that emanate from God, he treats this as a non-issue.  Rather than being sidetracked by a debate over dreams, he uses what a Muslim individual believes has taken place as a springboard to give the gospel.  The matter of revelation in general, and dreams and visions in particular, can wait until a later date.  The important subject at that moment is Jesus Christ, not dreams and visions.
But if some of these visions are leading to conversions, how can we even suspect them as not being from God?  Satan certainly would not give a dream that would ultimately result in conversion would he?  Possibly. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 describes just such a scenario in which a false prophet or dreamer’s sign comes true.  What were the Israelites to think of this?  The Lord tells them to ignore his words for he is testing them to see if they will follow Him or the dreamer.  While the current situation may be somewhat different, I believe that Satan is more than willing to give a little ground if in doing so he will win a bigger battle.  In this case he might be willing to concede the salvation of a few Muslims if he can convince the evangelical world that God is communicating today apart from the Revelation of Scripture.  Once this door is opened he will be able to bring about greater deceptions than if evangelicals embrace sola Scriptura.

 

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