Saturday, July 27, 2013

Apologetics 315: Jay Smith Interview Transcript

The following transcript is from an Apologetics 315 interview with Jay Smith. Original audio here.Transcript index here. If you enjoy transcripts, please consider supporting, which makes this possible.

BA: Hello, this is Brian Auten of Apologetics 315. Today, I interview Jay Smith. Jay is a Biblical scholar specializing in Islam. He spent much of his life in evangelistic ministry to Muslims in the U.K. He regularly engages in Islamic debates from the Chambers of the Oxford Union to his regular debates at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park.

The purpose of this interview is to gain some insights from Jay about Christian interaction with Islam, find out more about what Muslims believe, and ask for his advice for Christians seeking to share with their Muslim friends.

Thanks for joining me today, Jay.

JS: Thank you, Brian. It's good to be with you.

BA: Now, you, like me, are an American but don't live in the U.S. So what brought you to the U.K.?

JS: That's correct. In fact, though I am an American, my accent gives me away. I was not born here nor in the States nor have I lived much in the States. I think, though, I'm 57 years old now, I think I've only lived ten years in America.
I was born in India. Grew up there for my first 17 years. When I finished high school there in India—my parents were missionaries, my grandparents were missionaries, so I'm third generation Michigan—I then went to the States in my graduate and post-graduate degrees there.

While I was finishing off seminary, I went to a one-day seminar on Islam and was told back then—this was back in 1981, so that dates me—I was told there were 800 million Muslims, huge number. Didn't really think much of that, kinda went in one ear, out the other ear. Didn't pay attention to it. The next two numbers really bothered me. I was told that there were only 1500 Christian missionaries working amongst them, and that these 1500 Christian missionaries made up roughly 2% of all missionaries. That really bothered me, and I remember turning to my wife and I said, 'Judy, we gotta do something. We've got to work with Muslims. We've got to engage with this religion that's growing faster than any other.' That was in 1981. We’re now in 2011, and it has increased, double that number. Some say 1.6 billion, could be as high as 2 billion. We really got interested in Islamic work back in 1981.

Now, as far as London is concerned, the reason we’re here in London and have been since 1992, almost 20 years now, was because back in 1991, we had just been 5 years in West Africa, Senegal, working with Muslims there in West Africa when we were told that they were having a real problem here in London with radical Muslims, and that the growing radicalization was happening here in London. No one really knew how to contend with it or work with it. My area of expertise was apologetics, and so I said, 'Well, listen. Let me try London. It's not a 1040 window. It's not really an Islamic country per se, but because of the enormous amount of Pakistani, Indian, and Bangladeshis that are here in Britain—about 70% of the Muslim population here in Britain is made up of people from the Indian subcontinent who are much more radical than, say, your Arab counterparts. Because of that, our mission asked if I'd come and start work here amongst that, so that's why we came, and that's what I've been doing it for the last 20 years, engaging with the radical Muslims.

I was just on the phone with Anjem Choudary tonight. In fact, we just scheduled a debate for the, looks like the 23rd of this month, we're gonna be doing a debate, he and I. Probably the most radical Muslim in Britain today. A good friend. I've debated his predecessor, Sheikh Umar Bakri Muhammad, twice now. That's what I've been doing—taking on and confronting the radical Muslims here in London. «Continue reading at Apologetics 315»

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