Senior Honors Theses

Fragrant Persuasion: Communication Theory Applied to the Evangelization of Muslims

Benjamin F. Taylor, Liberty University

Document Type Article

Abstract

This thesis analyzes the difficulty of evangelization to Muslims from the perspective of two communication theories, Mathematical Theory and Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Mathematical theory determines that the difficulty lies in a discrepancy between the Christian and Muslim worldviews, the frameworks through which they interpret and assign meaning to the gospel message; and that such a discrepancy requires the initiative of the sender (the evangelist) to recode the message in such a way that it will be received and decoded according to its intended meaning. Cognitive dissonance indicates that Muslim resistance to the gospel message is attributed to the level of unfamiliarity and threat that Muslims feel toward the message. In the world of intercultural evangelism, these theories prescribe contextualizing the form of the gospel until it is accepted and understood. Some forms of contextualization specific to Muslims are suggested. The Jesus Film, especially an introductory scene added to it in 2003, demonstrates a practical example of the contextualization of a widely used evangelistic tool. The conclusion is that it is the aim of the Christian communicator to adapt the forms of persuasion used in evangelism to Muslims until the gospel is perceived to be attractive. Several practical future changes to future evangelistic films are suggested based on this conclusion.