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Category Archives: Islam

Four Simple Ways to Stand in Solidarity with Muslims

The American public continues wrestling with its understand of Islam. The wrestling makes sense. We can understand the confusion. Islam and Muslims are not a monolith. Just by way of example, The Washington Post published an op-ed today encouraging people not to express solidarity with Muslims by wearing the hijab. The same article references other Muslims who advocate such expressions and created “World Hijab Day.”

People can’t be blamed for asking, “Which is it?”

But we can be blamed if we fail to express solidarity with Muslim neighbors and friends–not primarily because they’re Muslims–but because they, like us, bear the image and likeness of God and are worthy of dignity and fair treatment. The call for solidarity rests on a firmer foundation than mere cultural pluralism. And because it does, the call to solidarity actually requires greater shows of understanding and compassion.

Here are a few simple suggestions for showing solidarity with Muslim neighbors and friends:

1. Oppose All Bigotry

Can we be honest? A good deal of fear and bigotry toward Muslims comes from Christian quarters. Many Christians feel justified in these sinful attitudes. They point to terrorist attacks, the worse representatives of Islam, and their favorite hate-peddling political pundits for “proof” that their animus is justified. But it’s not. Not when our Lord says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:43-44). The Savior’s words leave no room for His disciples …

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Muslims and Christians Do NOT Worship the Same God

The recent move of Wheaton College to place on administrative leave one of its faculty has sparked debate about whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God. This debate recurs because of the culture’s tendency to flatten religious differences into nebulous and impersonal ideas about “God” and because of widespread ignorance of religious faith. As Stephen Prothero points out in God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter, our happily ignorant “pluralism” can in religious matters lead to car bombs exploding, bullets fired through office buildings, hostage situations at abortion clinics, and waves of genocidal violence.

Religions create a lot of problems in the world. Ignorance of religion compounds those problems. Arguing that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is often well-intended. But in a world increasingly filled with clashes between adherents of Islam and the west, this confusion is dangerous. Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God and that matters immensely!

God

Muslims hold that “God is one.” Allah has no partners and assigning partners to him is shirk, the highest blasphemy. Christians believe “God is one in three Persons.” Each Person in the Trinity is fully and eternally God. Yet there is one God. Our Muslim neighbors believe Christians are guilty of the greatest sin–making partners with God. Christians believe their Muslim neighbors are guilty of the greatest sin–idolatry.

The two views of the nature of God are irreconcilable.

Duty

Muslims believe that man’s duty toward Allah is to submit to his will. The goal of Islam is not …

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2013 Christian-Muslim Dialogue Video Available

This past year I had the privilege of participating in my 5th Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the United Arab Emirates. Last year Dr. Shabir Ally, Muslim apologist and president of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International in Toronto, Canada, agreed to represent the Islamic perspective.

We took up the question “How Can I Find Forgiveness from a Holy God?”, which in my opinion is the most important question in the universe. The dialogue welcomed over 700 participants in person and hundreds more from at least eight different countries via live stream. It was a gracious, engaging and sometimes funny couple of hours of discussion.

Here’s a trailer:

2013 Muslim Christian Dialogue – Trailer from Dubai Muslim Christian Dialogues on Vimeo.

You can find the full dialogue broken into nice bite-sized segments here.

Also posted in apologetics, Apostle Paul, evangelism, Jesus | | Leave a comment

One of the Most Significant Days in Church History: Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday

Today, January 13th, is celebrated around the Muslim world as the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. In the Muslim world the day is called “Mawlid.” The earliest roots of the celebration dates back to the 8th century when the birthplace of the prophet was turned into a place of prayer. Public celebrations date to the 12th century. The public introduction of the prophet’s birthday as a religious celebration was, in part, an attempt to counter Christian celebrations of the birth of Christ and to strengthen Muslim identity. Today Mawlid is celebrated in most of the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia being the most significant exception due to the influence of Wahhabi clerics and leaders.

Signs of its popularity can be found as close at hand as Siri:

 

But why regard Mawlid as a significant day in church history?

Well, quite simply, without the birth of Muhammad there would be no Islam. And, at this point in history, Islam represents one of the most significant religious challenges to the claims of Christianity. Not since Christianity’s earliest encounters with Judaism have Christians faced a religious and cultural identity as tight as Islam.

Vast areas of the world that were once home to Christianity are now solidly Islamic. Islam, a missionary religion like Christianity, reminds the Christian world that it can no longer take for granted its …

Also posted in history, Middle East, missions, Muslims | | 12 Comments

An Interview with James White about His Book, “What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an”

Sometimes there comes a book that changes the way we think and talk about a subject. That book generally pushes us into deeper fundamental understanding of a theme and helps us see from there the things we did not know or somehow missed. Such books stir fresh thought, fresh zeal, and renewed efforts to see and act in the world according to truth. We need a book to do that for us and to us because we’re so prone to settle into intellectual ruts and hand-me-down assumptions.

I think James White’s new book, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an, is a book that changes the Christian understanding of Islam and its holy book. You can read an excerpt of the book here. I had the privilege of reading James’ book in manuscript and offering the following endorsement:

James White has given the thoughtful Christian a game-changer for Muslim-Christian dialogues about the Qur’an, the Bible, and our claims to truth. For too long, Christians have remained largely ignorant and even reluctant toward one of the world’s largest faiths. We no longer have reason for either ignorance or reluctance thanks to White. I know of no other introduction to the Qur’an and Islam that is as technically competent and easy to read as James White’s What Every Christian Should Know About the Qur’an. This book is my new go-to source and recommendation for anyone wanting a thorough introduction to the thought world of the Qur’an and the Muslims who …

Also posted in books, Interviews | | 18 Comments

Meeting Muslims and Islam: On Love and Discernment

Eboo Patel is the author of  Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America and founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core.  He recently penned an opinion piece for CNN entitled “How Evangelicals Can Learn to Love Muslims.”  Caught my eye.  Patel marvels at the evangelical political embrace of conservative Roman Catholics, a group that just 60 years ago would have faced the same kind of suspicion and scrutiny that Mormon presidential candidates deal with.  In the piece, Patel describes Islam as “the new Catholicism.”  To make his point, Patel quotes no less an “evangelical” authority than Norman Vincent Peale:

“Our freedom, our religious freedom, is at stake if we elect a member of the Roman Catholic order as president of the United States,” Norman Vincent Peale told a conference of evangelical leaders in September 1960.

Materials handed out at the Peale conference claimed ‘Universal Roman Catholicism’ was both a religion and a political force whose doctrines were ultimately incompatible with the American ideals of freedom, equality and democracy.

Then Patel makes his analogy:

Replace “Roman Catholic” with “Muslim” and “Church hierarchy” with “caliphate” in those pronouncements and today we are witnessing a similar energy directed against a different faith community using largely the same categories.

In today’s parlance, Kennedy was part of a stealth jihad meant to replace the U.S. Constitution with sharia law and practicing taqqiyya to mask this dawa offensive.

As they believed about Catholicism then, many evangelicals now view the very nature of Islam as incompatible with American values. Evangelicals …

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An Apologetic Duel in Poetry

Desiring God linked to these dueling videos from a young Muslim and a young Christian poet.  Apparently, the Muslim’s video launched first, and the Christian responded with the support of Alpha & Omega Ministries.  One thing should be abundantly clear from the videos: Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God.  That should have been obvious, but sometimes people need it stated.  It’s creatively stated here:

Also posted in apologetics, Christianity, poetry, video | | 5 Comments

Read ‘em and Weep: More on “Insider Movements” and Bible Translation

Psalm 119:

129 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from the oppression of men,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, 
   for your law is not obeyed.

When I watch this video and think of reading such translations as though being circulated with “Father,” “Son of God,” and other vital revelations of the character of God, I feel something akin to what the psalmist feels in v. 136.  I could weep over this tampering with God’s word and the harm such distortions do to the people of God and the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord.  This 5 minute video with Muslim background believers contending with “insider” movements tells the story poignantly.

The word of God should alter people; people should never alter the word of God–especially those people who claim to love the God of the word.

For those who might be interested, here is a link to a petition to Wycliffe, Frontiers, and SIL along with some fact sheets.  If you’re not the petition signing type, I hope you’re the petition making type.  I hope you’ll petition the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit for the preservation of His …

Also posted in evangelism, Interviews, missions | | 35 Comments

Should We Drop “Son of God” in Bible Translations for the Sake of Reaching Muslims?

No.  Honestly, I can’t think of a more damaging action than the translation attempts some groups are making in predominantly Muslim countries.  Dropping the familial language “Son of God” or “God the Father”:

1. Undermines the perceived integrity and reliability of the Scriptures;

2. Robs the Church of centuries of theological reflection and meaning, including Trinitarian orthodoxy, Christology, and more;

3. Betrays the radical sacrifices that believers are making in these lands for these truths; and,

4. Tends toward a denial of the uniqueness of the gospel witness itself.

World Magazine’s current article, “The Battle for Accurate Bible Translation in Asia,” hits all the issues on the head.  I heartily commend it.  Here’s the opening paragraphs:

Fikret Bocek says that Turkish quince, a fruit like a pear, takes a long time to grow and ripen, but it’s delicious. Patience is key for good quince, he says, and also for the salvation of his fellow Turks, most of whom are Muslim like he once was.

Patience was key when the Turkish police arrested and imprisoned him for 10 days in 1988, when he was beaten, verbally abused, and tortured with electrical shocks. The police ordered Bocek, then a teenager and a new convert to Christianity, to recite the shahada, “There is no God but Allah.” Despite a crippling fear, he found he could not physically open his mouth to say it, which he attributes to divine intervention.

Patience, a fierce patience, was key in 2007 when a group of Muslims brutally murdered a close friend of his and …

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Muslim-Christian Dialogue Website

In God’s kindness, I’ve had the privilege of participating in four public Muslim-Christian Dialogues in the United Arab Emirates over the last six years. These have been wonderfully warm exchanges in a part of the world generally “closed” to such conversations.

2011 Dubai Muslim-Christian Dialogue – Trailer 2 from gdskc on Vimeo.

The corporate sponsors for the events have launched a new website committed to Christian-Muslim dialogue and understanding. The site features videos from the last three discussions and other resources they may interest you. I hope you’ll take a look and I hope it’ll be an encouragement to you. You can support this effort by purchasing a video or making a donation. Consider purchasing a couple of the DVDs to give to friends, your church or mosque, or to a local library.

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