Discussion with Muslims

Muslim says:

I am trying to find truth and I want your help become you seem knowledgable. I was reading your comparison of Islam and Christianity, and i was impressed.  I am a Muslim but i am not closed minded as to learning more. The first few parts i liked, i think when you started getting into the killing part you strayed from objective to subjective, I have read both books and am learned of the history of both our religions, the crusades were hardly exemplatory of the Christian Faith.  That said there are people in all religions who will back actions with religion.  I will admit now my Muslim brothers are hardly acting Godly, but that cannot be attributed to their faith. Anyway, I would like to send back and forth a few emails so that i might better understand your faith.  First i would like to start off with my objections of it, what i hold true of Islam and feel free to break apart both! First Objections with Christianity:

1. Those who believe in Jesus As the son Of GOD are not responsible for their sins, or will not be punished for their sins as Jesus died for their sins.  That concept seems too good, believe and then do whatever you want. Why would God make us un-accountable for  what we do?

2. Jesus as the Son of God, I have spoke to priests at times about this issue as it is the biggest difference between our religions.  The old testaments references to Jesus coming are clear, his divinity not so much, but you can infer and translate it to that i suppose, but the people of the old testament didnt even believe in him when he was in front of them!  Now I definitely believe in Jesus and the miracles performed, But by God's will not his.  And the Jews who's book still remains in its original language do not believe in any Son of God coming. (more prophets though)  The bibles oldest reference is not in the language of Jesus- I believe greek is the oldest. "WHo is the father of Jesus"  You would infer GOD as  a literal father, God having children with humans just seems off to me, plus what about adam and eve they didnt even have human mothers nor fathers; what would they be?  So in this regard i could say that God could have easily created Jesus with less effort than Adam or Eve. Miracles: Jesus did some spectacular things, but opening the RED SEA that is pretty spectacular in its own, So we can not rule out that his miracles could not be explained by Gods will or command. (Please dont misunderstand my comments as bashing on Christianity, but for me to change what i am my concerns need to be effectively addressed)

3. All the greatness of Jesus and he didnt not have a large enough following during his life for anyone to try to help him-( I know you will say it was his will to save humanity, why such a small following during his life?) Now Strenght in my Faith as a Muslim 1. The fact that Mohammed (PBUH) clearly stated that nothing that has been revealed to be has not been revealed to the people (prophets) before him. So he is clearly stating there is nothing new with his revelations. 2. The actual Quaran in arabic, i cannot read arabic nor understand it that well, all those translations you have on your website sound like music when read out loud in the Quarans language, He Can Talk about the misery of burning and it sounds beautiful- and coming from arabic which is hardly a romance language is something special.  All 600+ pages are like that. ( you might say he was  a great poet)

3.  Mohammed (pbuh) was never literate, nor did he have any other works of poetry, he was  a poor man who had no education.  But if you deny that and say he was a learned man, than where is his earlier works no one goes from no poetry or practice works or small books to the Quaran, even those who study it in the non-muslim marvel at its writing.  Plus he couldnt even write the word he said, they were supposedly given to him my Gabriel and etched in his mind, his followers would write and recite and he would make sure they wrote correctly after the recited the Words back.  The Quaran was complete no man or apostle or follower added or subtracted from it, it was all Mohammed (pbuh) and supposedly gabriel bringing Gods word.

4.  Mohammed ( pbuh) did have miracles- one was the Quaran and its writing-right now we can not see what Jesus (pbuh) did.  Nor what Mohammed (pbuh) did, the Quaran at that time was a miracle that would last through the ages, no Muslim of a billion muslim will argue about a dot out of place in the Quaran not one, even among different sects.

5.Mohammed as you said supposedly didnt have miracles, we believe he did, that he split the moon and was ascended to jeruselum and then heaven, but suppose he didnt.  Than how on earth did he gain more followers than any other prophet in history?  He said his farewell speach knowing that he was leaving earth and accurately stated who of his wives and children would die next.

6. Rules- Islam has the clearest rules that i have seen, the pillars plus drinking and gambling and killing and stealing and honoring thy mother and father, no images (ten commandments).  Faith in God, Mohammed and the last day is one of the 5 pillars, 20% Then you have to show faith and repent with fasting- for repentance in the most outlined form of fasting available. Charity- we believe that God has given us all our sustenance and if he has given us enough we have set amounts that must be given to charity and to help the poor and orphans ( you mentioned this but said look who is more charitable now, im not talking about muslim people i am talking about what the religion has outlined us to do, Prayer- we cannot go more than a few hours without praying to GOD and we get on our hands and knees to show our reverence of him and our respect and love. (minimum of 5 times, most religous muslim do it more)  Actual outlines of prayer, and the Names of GOD mentioned and reverred over and over again.  Pilgrimage- this can be ambigous to those who dont understand it, pilgrimage is meant to be a voluntary hardship to earn the pleasure of GOD. THIS IS GETTING LONGER THAN I HAD PLANNED :)

7.  Accountabilty- we are accountable for what we do, but GOD is the most Forgiving, we fast and pray for forgiveness, we dont believe in HIM and assume it to be so.

I think thats plenty to discuss now, but if you can clear up what problems i have with Christianity and dismiss what I hold strong in Islam you will have converted me, seriously!  May God be With you.

BCBSR Response:

Yes it is "good news". That's what the word "gospel" means in the Greek. Jesus said,
Gospel of John chapter 5:24-27 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man."
And Jesus said,
Gospel of John chapter 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
But maybe your objection is that such grace ("grace" being that virtue whereby the guilty are shown mercy)calls into question God's judicial nature. But don't you have the concept of "forgiveness" in Islam? And if a person is forgiven of sin, is he yet held accountable for that sin - to pay the penalty for that sin?

God, being just, provided an atoning sacrifice to satisfy his judicial nature. That atoning sacrifice was Christ's atoning work on the cross. If no atoning sacrifice were provided, then God could not judiciously forgive sin. For justice would go unsatisfied.

This is one area in which the God of the Bible, whom I'll refer to as "Yahweh", differs from the God of the Koran, whom I'll refer to as Allah. They are characteristically different on many points, this being one of them. For when Allah forgives, what atoning sacrifice satisfies his judicial nature?

The fact that Yahweh is satisfied through blood sacrifice is well established throughout the Bible - even from the very beginning when he made garments of skin to cover Adam and Eve, and when Abel's animal sacrifice was found superior to that of Cain. So also with respect to the Law given to Moses. God commanded animal sacrifices.

Yet how can animals atone for sin? They can't. Their value isn't even that of a man. Rather these were symbolic of what was to come when the Son of God would atone for sin. Jesus himself said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Gospel of Matthew 26:28 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

The prophet Jeremiah speaks of the New Covenant, which the LORD Jesus established. With repect to the forgiveness of sins it says this, "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Jer 31:34 That is the kind of forgiveness that Yahweh offers. When Yahweh forgives sins not only are such people free from being held accountable for such sins, but Yahweh doesn't even remember them. Yes, that is good news.

But maybe your objection is why such applies to those who believe in Jesus -and why not other people. First of all doesn't God have the right to chose to have mercy on whom he will?

Let's say lots of people owe you money. You're not obligated to forgive any of their debt. For forgiveness is of grace and not of obligation. But desiring to be gracious you decide to forgive some of their debts. Now lets say that most of these people reckoned you with contempt and wanted nothing to do with you. But you decided that those who would be willing to be your friend, those are the ones whose debt you would forgive. The others may complain that such in "unfair". Jesus told a parable about such a circumstance which ended saying, "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" Mat 20:15

The gospel is much the same. Yahweh has decided that those who believe in Jesus will be given eternal life, their sins being forgiven.

"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." Psalm 2:12
Jesus said, "My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:40
Believing in who Christ is, is essential for salvation. To unbelievers he says, "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." John 8:24

Thoughout the gospels Jesus declares himself to be the son of God and that God is his father. If you believe in Jesus, then certainly you believe in what he said about himself don't you?

But it is not that he suddenly came into existence when he was born of Mary. Jesus declared that he preexisted his birth, he existed even before the world began. He said, "Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." John 17:5 Which is consistent with his statement in John 8:58, "before Abraham was born, I am!" In fact the very first chapter of that gospel declares that Jesus was involved in the creation of all things. "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." John 1:3

Concerning miracles I think that you're presuming that Christian's position is that since Christ did miracles that proves he's God. That is not the Christian's position, nor that of the Bible. Rather miracles are evidence that the spokesman is speaking God's word. This of course has to be in conjuction with other evidence - primarily that what he says has to be consistent with what has already been established as the word of God. That principle is declared in Deut 13.

Jesus himself said, "The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me." John 10:25 And, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." John 14:11 Furthermore the apostle of John writes concerning his gospel, "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30,31

Yet to me the prophet Mohammed fails to live up to these two points. For on the first point while it may be alleged he did miracles, yet neither are they of the quality found in the Bible nor having the affirming witnesses as do those of the Bible. Consider even the alleged "miracle" of the Koran. Let's say I write the sentence: "The cat is in the hat." It is a perfect sentence containing no flaws. Is that a miracle? The "miracle" of the Koran is unconvincing to me. Compare it with the miracles of the Bible. You mention for example the Red Sea crossing. Now that's a miracle. Notice also that the Bible itself contains the miracles. Essential parts of the gospel are about Jesus' miracles. Yet what we find in the Koran is not characteristic of what we find in the Bible with respect to miracles.

So also consider Mohammed's alleged miracles outside of the Koran. The witness to such things is not of the quality of that of the Bible. The miracles of the Bible have many witnesses. Consider the beginning of the gospel of Luke "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word." Luke 1:1,2 So also Peter says, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." 2Peter 1:16 For it would have been impossible for him to do so given the public nature of the miracles. Which is why thousands believed upon hearing the gospel in Acts 2 in which Peter said, "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." Acts 2:22 Mohammed doesn't this quality of witness to his alleged miracles. And thus I and many others are unconvinced of his authenticity.

So also concerning the second test of a prophet, Mohammed falls short. For while he may allege that what he says is consistent with what the prophets had already said, that is simply not the case, as I point out on the web page you read. Let's take just one example of that. Jesus said, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." Mark 9:31, but as you know, Mohammed says otherwise. Much of the very content of the gospels is devoted to the witness of Jesus' death and resurrection. So to me the "Jesus" which Mohammed was referring to is simply a different Jesus than that of the gospels.

These two facts convince me that Mohammed is a false prophet. He does not have the credentials of a prophet of Yahweh. Jesus' apostles - Paul and Peter and John and others in the New Testament have better credentials than he.

Now you also mention about "Rules". Easy enough to make up a religion containing very well defined "rules". No miracle there from my point of view. Is the objective to find a religion that has the clearest rules, or the rules which you are most comfortable with? The objective should be to find the religion of the one true God. What has God actually said is his will? There's a story of Naaman in 2Kings chapter 5 who had leposy. He went to the prophet Elisha to get healed. Elisha told him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." But Naaman was angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage. It seems to him it was too simple. He wanted a religion that had more rules and ceremony. For he was looking for rules and ceremony rather than seeking God. Yet with a few words his servant saying, "If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!", brought him back to his senses and he returned and washed and the leprosy was gone. So also you'll have to decide that if God tells you that it's simple to be reconciled with him - that it's not about rules and ceremony - would you wash and be clean?

In Biblical Christianity it is not that a person "follows rules" in order to be saved. Rather what occurs is that, in accordance with God's word, those who believe in Jesus are first of all forgiven of sin and thus reconciled with God. Secondly they are adopted into God's family and given the Holy Spirit which starts the process of "sanctification" - making them into better people whose destiny is perfect sinlessness in God's presence. And thus a person is saved from sin - both with respect to the wrath which sin incurs and with respect to the power of sin in one's life - through faith in Jesus Christ.

We are God's workmanship (not our own workmanship) created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. John the apostle writes "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:9,10 Thus it's a cause and effect relationship. Being born of God has an inevitable effect on one's behavior.

So if you had met or heard of "Christians" living a sinful lifestyle, such people have not been born of God. The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. That's what the Bible says. But such behavior is not characteristic of those born of God because of the nature of regeneration. This in in constrast with legalistic religions in which people save themselves from sin, rather than God saving them.

If you believe what Jesus said, then there should be little room for debate. For it's not a matter of which religion has clearly defined rules and ceremonies, is it? It's not a matter of whether the message of one seems too good to be true, compared to the message of another, is it? The issue is has God spoken, and what did God say? The evidence that Jesus and his apostles spoke the word of God is sufficiently convincing to me. That's why I'm a Christian.

Thanks for asking

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015