The premise for this blog is simple – to give Christian background folks some basic language to dialog with Muslims on the most obvious (sensitive) issues. Sometimes in our attempt to be thorough, we say too much and confuse ourselves and our listeners – I know – I’ve spent much of my life doing just that.
Being clear, concise and simple in our answers can do three things:
- Leave room for the God to work – remember, there’s always a chance, we’re wrong about something – or the way we explain something.
- It can keep us out of an argument we can’t win – and don’t necessarily need or want to win.
- Maintain and encourage the friendship for future discussions.
So here are the questions or issues that most Muslims will have and some straightforward, simple answers.
(Remember that most Muslims don’t see these as real questions – since they believe they already know the answers).
Question or Issue #1. How can you believe that Jesus is God’s son?
Simple Answer: Do you mean that God had a son by sexual relations with Mary? Oh, we agree then because we don’t believe that either. The Bible does use the title “Son of God” a few times referring to Jesus, but it doesn’t at all mean that he’s God’s little boy born through natural relations.
It’s like me being called “The Son of Colorado” because I’ve lived here most of my life and love it so much. It’s a title showing how he is so honored by God.
(Now I think there’s much more of course. I believe the term “Son of God” doesn’t show his divinity, but shows his Kingship. But there will be time for that later. For now just dispel the myth that we think God had sex with Mary).
Question #2. How can you believe in the Trinity?
Simple Answer: We agree with you that there is only one God. His name is Allah in Arabic. God in English. Jehovah in Hebrew. He is One!
It’s possible someone in Muhammad’s day did think that there were three gods. Maybe even some well-meaning but very misguided Christian thought that. I don’t know. And yes, the word “Trinity” is confusing. It means “the three” in Arabic, so I could see why you might think this about me. But no, I believe in only one God like you do.
Let me ask you this? Is God a spirit? Anywhere and everywhere at the same time? (Yes, they would say).
Is God like our father in that he created us and loves us and cares for us like we were his children? (Yes, they would say but we don’t call him “father”). Fair enough, you don’t have to call him father, but you agree he is like a father. (Yes).
And….do you believe that God has spoken and still can speak? That he spoke through prophets and books in the past? (Yes, they would say). And you believe Jesus is called the “Word of God” – which he is called throughout the Quran. (Yes).
So, it’s almost like God is a spirit, and like a father and has a word for human kind called Jesus. (Yes)! Well, then, awesome, because that’s what I believe too….
Question #3. Then why do you say that Jesus is God?
Simple Answer: Actually, I want to say everything about Jesus that the Bible says about him. You’re right, the Bible never says the words “Jesus is God.” And Jesus doesn’t say those words about himself either. There do seem to be some hints that there’s something special about Jesus though – even in the Qur’an – wouldn’t you agree? (Yes, they would say)!
So we should at least look into whatever this special quality is that Jesus has. Both the Quran and the Bible say that Jesus was pure and sinless and that he did miracles and raised the dead and is still alive. Pretty amazing stuff. (Yes, they would say).
I’ve often wondered then, if there is some kind of “god-like quality” to Jesus. He seems to do things and act in ways that are unique above all the prophets and in keeping with deity. Whatever that is, we should agree to look into it. Fair enough? (Yes)!
Question #4. But how can we trust the Bible? Hasn’t it been changed?
Simple Answer: Oh my, I hope not. Just like you’ve been reading the Quran all of your life, I’ve been reading the Bible all of mine. So I hope I haven’t been reading something that’s not true.
Does the Quran say that it’s been changed? (The answer is “no”). If so, maybe you can show me where? And when was it changed? By who? Wouldn’t God have protected his Word – since the Quran says it’s the Word of God.
Anyway, enough of all that stuff – how about if we read the gospels together? The Quran quite specifically tells Muslims to read the Injeel (Gospels), and I have one we can read, so we should start. Any maybe you’d learn some new things about Jesus and you can for sure help me learn some new things! And that way if we can see how it’s been changed maybe you can help me!
A Muslim will seldom (if ever) say no to this. So just dive in….
Question #5. Don’t you say that Jesus died on the cross? The Quran says he didn’t die.
Simple Answer: Well, I suppose either he did or didn’t die on the cross, so in that sense, one of us must be right and one wrong. I always feel like the better question is “WHY?” Why would he have died if he did die?
It does seem to say that Jesus didn’t die on the cross and I know almost every Muslim believes that he didn’t die – although aren’t there several verses in the Quran that say he did die? Anyway….
Here’s what I’m recommending about this most difficult and slightly confusing issue that has a huge potential of dividing us. How about we go through all the verses in the Quran about how Jesus didn’t die, and all the ones that suggest he did or will die. And then we do the same in the Bible.
I’ve found that many times I get tricked or confused by religious leaders, and I don’t want that, so maybe you can help me figure this out. Let’s just look at the holy books and see if we can uncover some clues. Okay?
Postscript: In the end, it’s our job to love and it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change people (us and them). One of the best ways to be loving is to not get defensive and simply encourage your new friend to look at the scriptures with you. And the Bible gives God a lot of room to work. And it gives us a chance to spend time with our new friend.