Review of Seppo Syrjänen’s “In Search of Meaning and Identity” on MBB’s in Pakistan

In Search Of Meaning And Identity: Conversion To Christianity In Pakistani Muslim Culture (Annals Of The Finnish Society For Missiology And Ecumenics)In Search Of Meaning And Identity: Conversion To Christianity In Pakistani Muslim Culture by Seppo Syrjanen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dense in theory and not an easy read. Even 30 years later it is still one of the foundational resources regarding religious conversion from Islam to Christianity. While the research is related to Pakistan, the findings are relevant to such research in other contexts as well, including the Arab world.

Key sections are the appendices with summaries of the various converts’ stories whom he interviewed, and the various places where he examines the difficulties related to identity-formation for converts. Of particular importance are the author’s observations regarding how much churches in Pakistan work against religious conversion in many cases. Also significant is the great diversity of reasons why Muslims in Pakistan became Christians–from reading Scripture to a dream to a healing to simply meeting ethical and kind Christians. The work shows how many paths there are to religious conversion, and also how complex and problematic religious conversion is in the Pakistani contexts.

Is it still the case that the churches in Pakistan are bound up in their ethnic-social identities and obstruct the socialization of new converts? This book begs for new research and an updated version.

Follow it up with Gaudeul’s book Called from Islam to Christ, an analysis of why Muslims convert to Christ.

It is unfortunate that the book is so hard to find these days. One would hope for a Kindle version some day.

View all my reviews


Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog ( or page for more information.

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