Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

For one reason or another, I’ve been delaying writing a post about the nature of God, both in Christianity and Islam. It seems relevant now due to the recent news regarding Wheaton College.  Everybody is talking about it on social media, and people have their own opinion on whether or not the teacher should have been suspended.

I personally think she incurred in deep theological contradictions. This issue, of course, goes deeper than wanting to hold hands with every Muslim around the world singing kumbaya. An assertion like this offensive to both authentic Muslims and authentic Christians.

This article is a combination of a lecture given by Keith Small and Andy Bannister, as well as my own insights on how we can use the role of Christian apologetics in further dialogue with Muslims. There are plenty of resources about Apologetics and Islam at www.bethinking.org. You should also check other links in which I refer you to other websites.

God and Muslims

Talking about God with Muslims can be extremely confusing because in so many ways we can seem to be talking about the same BEING. Most of the time we find ourselves coming into direct conflict with them, even though we are using the same words. We find different assumptions underlying our different views of God – concerning His character, His nature, and His actions towards humanity. The discussion can derail really, really quickly.

Here’s the thing. Muslims DO think they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They DO think they worship the God of the Jews and the Christians.They really do think because that’s what the Quran teaches.

We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. [speaking to Christians and Jews]. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.

– Surah 29:46

You see, there is this open claim in the Quran that Allah is the same God that the Jews and the Christians worship. Now, before we continue, it would be important to know that Christians in Muslim countries, for example, DO refer to God as Allah. They also DO make the distinction between the different persons in the Trinity.

Allah is just the arabic word for God – THE GOD. That is why I personally do not have a problem with those names. However, for the purposes of this article, I will refer to the god of the Quran as Allah, and I will refer to the God of Jews and Christians as YHWH.

Throughout the whole Quran,  you can read  that God is one. God is one. It is almost as if the author of the Quran wanted to make that point more than clear – that God is only one.

Surah Al-Fatiha (Chapter 1)

In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.
Guide us on the straight path,
the path of those who have received your grace;
not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray.
Amen.

In context, those who have received grace are the Muslims – those who follow Muhammad. The ones who have the wrath are the Jews, and the ones who are misguided are the Christians. When you think about the five obligatory prayers a day (Salat) and the cycles within them, a devout Muslim ends up asking Allah not to let him become like a Jew or a Christian. He prays this at least twenty times a day.

Besides Chapter 1, Chapter 112 is also a good example of another prescribed prayer that Muslims might recite several times a day. This Surah is basically addressed at the Christians. Allah is one, and he has no son.

Sura Al-Ikhlas (Chapter 112)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the
Compassionate
Say: ‘He is God, the One,
God the Eternal and Besought of all,
Neither begetting nor begot, Nor is there
anything comparable or equal to Him.

That is why for a Muslim, the sole idea of the Divinity of Christ is indeed a great blasphemy. This is key in understanding the issue behind whether or not Muslims and Christians worship the same god.

The unforgivable sin (shirk) for Muslims is associating partners with Allah. In the Muslim mind, a Christian – who sees God as a Trinity – is a polytheist. They understand the Trinity as being three gods. The Quran addresses the Trinity as Allah, Jesus and Mary.  The fact that the author of the Quran had no real knowledge of Christian doctrine does not help either.

The Muslim thinks that our Christian beliefs about Jesus being God is a lie that we have invented. We have exceeded our limit in doing that. Allah calls for Christians to stop saying Three since Allah is but one God. There are not three Allahs. Again, the author of the Quran had no understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.

O People of the Scripture [Christians], do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son.

I encourage you to watch these videos by James White. There are some many things out there about people wanting to give an opinion about these issues… and opinions are great. I am giving mine. But in the dialogue with Muslims, I believe, you really need to understand  where they are coming from.

James White on Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

James White on Wael Ibrahim’s misunderstanding of the Trinity – Part 1

James White on Wael Ibrahim’s misunderstanding of the Trinity – Part 2

If people do not argue, they usually fight. We, as followers of Jesus, should not fight with Muslims. We have the responsibility of explaining them – when the opportunity arises – that many of the misconceptions they have about our faith are not grounded in reality, but in a lack of understanding of our doctrines mainly by the author of the Quran and Muhammad.

ARE ALLAH AND YHWH COMPATIBLE?

Colin Chapman in his book Cross and Crescent sites seven areas of general similarity. He would use these to talk to a Muslim about the God of the Bible. This can be very useful if you have a Muslim who is willing to listen. My Muslims listened a lot – they were great about that. They would always say, of course, that I was wrong because the Bible as it is today has been corrupted.

But is it corrupted? 

You see, if the Bible (Hebrew Bible and New Testament) is NOT corrupted, then Islam is false. So these areas of similarity can be great to use if you would like to encourage a Muslim to read the Bible for himself. That can lead them on a path about the reliability of our Scriptures (Textual Criticism, Read Sea Scrolls, etc.)

So Muslims and Christians agree on these areas.

  1. God creates
  2. God is one
  3. God rules
  4. God reveals
  5. God loves
  6. God judges
  7. God forgives

The issue here is that even though we agree on these similarities, we differ on the HOW God does these things. That’s where the real difference between Allah and YHWH comes. Let’s explore these points. I encourage you to read the Quran so you might be able to grasp these differences better.

1. GOD CREATES

According to the Quran, Allah creates with just his word. BE, and it is.

In the Bible, YHWH creates with His Word and His Spirit – The Trinity is involved right away.

2. GOD IS ONE

Allah is a very numerical oneness. The Quran really never describes what that oneness (Doctrine of Tawheed) looks like. The Quran describes what Tawheed IS NOT – associating partners with Allah.

YHWH is One – yes – but He is a Trinity. One BEING, but three persons. The Trinity explains why we can be made out of complex molecules, and cells and yet we are still one essence. I encourage you to read The Forgotten Trinity by James White.

This might not make sense to many of you, but it resonated with me greatly. I majored in Chemistry, Biology and Pharmacy. When I read the testimony of Nabeel Qureshi in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, I was amazed at how God can really speak into anybody’s life. Do you want to know what made Nabeel start giving the Trinity a chance? Organic Chemistry.

Technically, a molecule with resonance is every one of its structures at every point in time, yet no single one of its structures at any point in time. It’s all the structures ALL the time, never just ONE of them.

A molecule of nitrate is all three resonance structures all the time and never just one of them. The tree are separate but all the same, and they are one. They are three in one. If there are things in this world that can be explained like this – though incomprehensibly so – then why cannot God?

– Nabeel Qureshi

3. GOD RULES

Allah rules as a dictator in the Quran – absolute, unquestioning rule. He rules over everything and also through angels.

YHWH rules cooperatively. The Trinity rules in complete harmony.

 4. GOD REVEALS

Allah gives revelation through nature (a lot of Muslims are using intelligent design as an apologetic) and he reveals through prophets. What Allah reveals is just his will – but he never reveals himself.

YHWH reveals through nature, prophets, but specially through the incarnation of Christ. YHWH not only reveals His will, but He also reveals Himself. This is a concept that is embodied through Genesis 1 to Revelation. YHWH loves His people and wants to live with them, dwell with them. He wants a relationship with His people. YHWH has revealed Himself to the fullest in the person of Jesus Christ.

5. GOD LOVES

Allah bestows his favor and loves only those who love him. He loves only those who repent and turn to him. He DOES NOT love those who reject Muhammad.

YHWH loves sacrificially. Allah does not put Himself out to love, but YHWH does at huge cost to Himself. YHWH loves everyone, even the ones who reject Him. Over and over He would always forgive Israel. He punished them, but the Israelites are His people. YHWH is their Husband. He gave them promises that He has to keep. Through the Jewish nation all nations in the world will blessed. Through Messiah, all the Gentiles would come into a relationship with YHWH.

YHWH in the New Testament shows His infinite love for all people by dying in our behalf. Jesus is YHWH in the flesh. He loved us first. He came to this earth not to condemn the world, but to sabe the world through Jesus.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him [Jesus]!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his [Jesus’] life!

Romans 5:8-10

 

6. GOD JUDGES AND FORGIVES

Allah judges capriciously. He doesn’t judge according to a standard. The chief attributes of Allah are his power and his sovereignty, and even his love is submitted to those. Allah is under no obligation to forgive or purify anyone, he doesn’t commit himself to save any individual. You can visit the sources here.

Likewise, Allah also forgives capriciously. Allah just forgives. No need for atonement like YHWH or the Cross. Allah forgives just like that. But since there is no standard on how Allah judges or forgives, you just never know where you stand with him on the Day of Judgement.

Whoever Allah guides – he is the [rightly] guided; and whoever He sends astray – it is those who are the losers. And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind

– Surah 7:178-179

Whoever says, ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi,’ one hundred times a day,will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.

Sahih al-Bukhari

Whoever says, ‘La ilaha illal-lah wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahu-l-mulk wa lahul- hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shai’in qadir,’ one hundred times will get the same reward as given for manumitting ten slaves; and one hundred good deeds will be written in his accounts, and one hundred sins will be deducted from his accounts

Sahih al-Bukhari

Whoever Allah sends astray – there is no guide for him. And He leaves them in their transgression, wandering blindly.

-Surah 7:189

By Allah! I would not feel safe from the deception of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise.

– Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s companion

YHWH judges with perfect justice and He judges everyone. He forgives through they system of atonement (a Jewish concept) that provides legal basis for His judgement. Those who believe in Jesus’ atonement in the cross are the ones who receive the forgiveness. YHWH’s forgiveness is available to all, but you have the responsibility to receive it.

This is the confusion that Muslims have. They do not understand that Jesus’ death has the power for the forgiveness of their sins, because they believe Jesus was only a man. This is stressed out throughout the Quran and the Sunnah – that nobody should pay for your sins. This is fair, of course, no man should be responsible for your sins. All men sin.

If Jesus were solely man, atonement through Him would make no sense to a Christian either. Muslims assume this because they are Unitarian. They do not have a proper understanding of the Trinity so they cannot understand that Jesus is more than a man. Jesus is God. Jesus was also fully man, and as man, He never sinned. The Creator of the universe is sacrificing Himself for you to have a relationship with Him. He loves you that much. But for the Muslim mind, this is blasphemy. Allah cannot lower himself like that. Allah cannot make himself a man because it takes away from his majesty.

I don’t think any Muslim would deny that if God Himself wanted to become a man He is powerful enough to do it. If a Muslim denies this, they are actually denying God’s omnipotence. I guess Muslims put God into a box. They make assumptions about what God can and cannot do based on their own presuppositions about Allah’s oneness.

For example, Muslims ask, “If Jesus is God and He died on the cross, then who was in heaven ruling the universe when God died?”  This presents a problem for them because they are thinking oneness in number. This is not a problem for the Trinitarian Christian.

I would ask a Muslim another question, though. If God is Unitarian, then how would you explain the accounts in the Quran when Musa (Moses) talks to God in the burning bush? According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir (exegesis – commentary of the Quran), God talks to Moses from within the bush. But if God is in the bush, and Allah is only one, then who is in heaven ruling the world?  Even for the Muslims, Tawheed presents a problem.

Regarding atonement through blood and sacrifices is not a concept that the first Christians came up with. The very first generation of Christians were all Jewish! Atonement does not go against the Hebrew Bible or against the teachings of the Torah. Jesus actually came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Jesus was the perfect sacrificial atonement. And whoever sets up against Israel and God’s love for the Jewish people is standing on very thin ice.

If Jesus is not the Messiah of the Jewish people, then He is not the Savior of the Gentiles. Orthodox Christianity is very Jewish.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [talking about Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy

Hebrews 10:11-14


More thoughts on Allah and YHWH

One of the names of Allah is the JUST. The Quran never says this. Allah commands justice. Muslims think Allah is the best of judges. The problem is that when these concepts are applied, they seem to be arbitrary.

Allah doesn’t have to be fair. His mercy and his judgement are subjected to his sovereignty. One of the names of Allah is the Holy. In the Bible, though, HOLINESS has two components. First, YHWH is exalted above us – greater than us. Second, YHWH has absolute, moral purity. 

This is why YHWH demands payment for every single sin. Allah just forgives as if he can sweep sins under the carpet without punishing sin. But YHWH’s holiness is so great that every single act that goes against His character demands to be punished.

YHWH is the fairest of judges and the most merciful of judges. The fairest of judges HAS to punish every single sin. Every act of rebellion against the Creator of the Universe has to be addressed. In the other hand, the most merciful of judges will always forgive. Only YHWH is able to meet these two criteria.

In the atonement of Jesus, YHWH is judging sin – He is still being JUST – and at the same time He forgives – He is MERCIFUL.

Allah cannot do these two things. Muslims think he can. They say Allah can forgive freely because he is so merciful. But what do you with the sin? If Allah forgives like that, then Allah is not the fairest of judges. Besides that, if Allah makes you pay and atone for your own sins (good deeds vs bad deeds) then Allah is not the most merciful.

A Muslim who tries to explain this concepts of JUSTICE and MERCY, thinking that Allah can indeed just forgive and pretend that nothing really happened, has no understanding of the gravity of sin, and how devastating sin is. Either that, or Allah is not that Holy. Not as holy as YHWH anyway.

A Muslim may understand the concept of outer purity or ceremonial cleanliness – as they do practice ceremonial washing before prayer – but they have no understanding whatsoever of moral inner cleanliness or purity. As long as they don’t act on it, they do not understand why anger can be equated with murder, or lust can be equated as adultery. This is something I discussed often with my friends, and they did realize that the standard that Jesus demanded for me as a Christians was impossible to meet.

“DUH! That’s why I  need a Savior”, I would say. Then again, I do not know if they really understood that this was the standard God demanded of every single human being if they ever want to have direct access to their Creator.


Philosophical implications of Allah as Unitarian

1 John 2:29 tells us that God is righteous, and 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. With YHWH these two traits are exercised fully in balance.

Allah cannot do this. Love IS NOT one of the seven eternal attributes of Allah in Islamic theology. YHWH IS LOVE. Allah focuses on power and might.  One of Allah’s 99 names is The Loving. It can also be translated as The Affectionate, but it is only one name – you have like fifteen or twenty that have to do with power. Allah is only loving and merciful to those who repent.

If you read the Quran, you’ll see very quickly that power to overwhelm, to destroy, to terrify, to condemn to hell is the main emphasis of the book. Allah loves those who love him, and he hates those who reject him and his prophet.

Even tough Allah is The Loving or The Merciful or The Forgiving, Allah has a philosophical problem.  All these adjectives need both a subject and an object. If these atributes are eternal as Muslims claim them to be, then Allah becomes contingent upon his creation. Allah becomes subject to existing only if he creates. Allah in the Quran had to create, otherwise he cannot be loving, or forgiving or merciful. Allah’s eternal attributes become otherwise because he couldn’t be who he was without his own creation.

The Trinity has never faced this problem. YHWH is not only loving. YHWH himself IS love. From eternity past, YHWH has always existed in harmony between three persons so He didn’t need to create anything. He was perfect, complete and fulfilled. Creation is an act of grace. Love changed from the horizontal (Godhead) to the vertical (human beings). The expression of love changed, but YHWH never changed.

Allah is not personal. YHWH is personal. Now, look at reality. What model explains human reality? It is very difficult to see that which is personal come from what is impersonal. The Christian concept of God explains reality. If we are indeed created in YHWH’s image, it is hardly a surprise that we, humans, need and want to be in relationship with other human beings.

Theology precedes anthropology. The God you have will directly influence the society you build. Is it any wonder why Islam produces societies that are subjected only to the power of the state?

On the other hand, Muslims also affirm the eternality of the Quran. Orthodox Islam affirms that the Quran is the eternal word of Allah. The Quran is uncreated. It has existed – for all time.

Now, think about this… Doesn’t the presence of another eternal entity existing alongside Allah for all time begins to attack the doctrine of the oneness of Allah? 

There is a real tension there. And there are schools of thought in Islam that would call heresy on those who think one way or another. If the Quran is uncreated, then you have two eternal beings from eternity past, and you end up contradicting the Quran on the Oneness of Allah.

But if the Quran is created, that means that at some point in time, Allah was without His eternal Word – and how can that be? In this case, you end up also contradicting the Quran itself. More info here.


What do I think?

Goodness… many things. I love these issues. Call me weird, my husband is sick of me talking about it – which is why I don’t talk to him about it anymore.

My experience is short, and I haven’t read all the sources there are to read regarding Islamic texts. But understanding the claims of the Quran, and having a deep understanding of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, I think that Muhammad might have wanted to compromise with both Jews and Christians. He might have actually thought he was a prophet in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

You see, tough, the prophets only come through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You ask any Muslim, and they would tell you Muhammad came from Ishmael, not Isaac. The prophets were to be Israelites, not Ishmaelites. Still, there are many other reasons as to why the Jews would reject the prophethood of Muhammad, but we’ll leave those for another time.

Let’s say Allah revealed the Quran.

The Quran says that Jesus is the Messiah. But the Jews in Muhammad’s time rejected this. In Jewish thought, Jesus was a blasphemer. Jesus died by crucifixion. History agrees with this. In the Jewish mind, even today, the Messiah cannot die – let alone by crucifixion. So the Jews rejected Muhammad. Not all of them, but some. So what do I know? Maybe Muhammad tried to appeal to the Jews by saying that Jesus was the Messiah and Allah did not let Jesus die on the cross.

Now, the Christians… Muhammad said that Jesus was the Messiah, and the Christians liked that. But the Quran also said that Jesus never die on the cross, and that Jesus was only a man. This goes against Christian doctrine even before the New Testament was put together. The deity of Christ is not something that Paul invented – Christians already knew that even before Paul wrote the letters. It is very clear, now that we have the manuscripts and we can see them all, that nothing has ever been corrupted in the text. So of course some Christians converted to Islam, but other Christians had to reject Muhammad as a false prophet – just as the Jews.

This is how I picture it in my mind…

In today’s world (except from photos and videos), people can read about the Holocaust. Let’s say the Holocaust happened a year ago. People wrote about the Holocaust because they lived it, they saw it, they experienced it. People were eyewitnesses to it. Now imagine this. This is the era of technology so things don’t get lost that easily. But just imagine for one minute that there are no computers or anything to store information. We only have paper – low quality paper.

People need to copy the records that we have available about the Holocaust. All the world – for whatever reason – needs to know about the Holocaust, why it happened and what it accomplished. So people begin copying the eyewitnesses accounts. People begin transcribing them like crazy, not only in English, but in many different languages.

Are you following me?

So these records end up being in circulation for many, many years. Centuries, actually. Within a century from now, people will still have copies of those original eyewitness accounts. The originals might be lost – it was low quality paper – but we have plenty of copies. Two centuries from now, still going strong.

We can actually compare all the copies, and the basic description of the Holocaust still remains the same. Sure, there are differences in spellings and words that might be weird, but the account of the Holocaust – when it happened, how it happened, why it happened, who was involved, where it happened – is still intact.

Three centuries, the same. Four centuries, the same. Five centuries, same. Now, we may not have the originals in five centuries, nor the copies from a century from now. Maybe we will lose them, and we will always be looking for them. But the oldest one that we will have in our possession two thousand years from now will be two hundred years after the Holocaust. That’s pretty good if you consider that we have only seven copies from Plato written one thousand years after the original. Nobody questions Plato.

And thousands of years down the road, people will continue to copy our records of the Holocaust. One day, we will end up having more than 22,000 pieces of paper with which we can reconstruct the original eyewitness accounts. HOmer’s Iliad has 647 – and nobody questions Homer’s authorship.

We cared so much about preserving those records because the Holocaust changed History.

But then something will happen. About six hundred years from now, in the middle of a civilization that had never heard about the Holocaust, someone will come and will say that God gave him a message through an angel. And the message is basically this: You people are wrong. The Holocaust never happened like that. I will tell you exactly how it happened.

And a lot of people will believe that man, and his own version of the Holocaust. People who love this man will look back on the actual records that we preserved, and they will see that they contradict the man’s version of the Holocaust. But they will love that man so much, that in blind faith, they will begin allegations against our own records. The records we so carefully tried to preserve – the actual eyewitnesses accounts of the Holocaust – will be charged with corruption of the text.

And many people, unfortunately, will end up believing in the new version of the Holocaust that this man will give them. They will believe it only in faith, even tough the evidence says otherwise. In my own mind, that’s what Muhammad did.

You see, the Christian who recognizes ALL these issues is in a better position to explain to the Muslim about our faith, and about the text of the Bible. It is the responsibility of every Christian to show love to Muslims. Eventually, though, conversations will happen, and questions – deep theological questions – will arise.

The Christian has to be prepared to meet the challenge not only of understanding why Islam (the new version of the Holocaust) differs from Judaism and Christianity (the original version of the Holocaust). Not only that, but what it actually brings in the present life of a person. Muslims can have peace with God. They do not have it. They might think they do, but in reality,  they do not know where they stand with God.

The Christian needs to learn how to make a strong case for Christianity. 

It might be too much information, too difficult to grasp at the beginning, or intimidating, but God’s timings are prefect. If you only give God your heart, He will do amazing things through you. The first time I learned about Islam was seven years ago, and I cried because I was so confused about it. How come this Allah was the same God that I worshipped?

Little by little I began learning more and more about this. I am not an expert, but if I can learn, everybody can.

This post was so long… I’m sorry for that 😦

In short, do we – Muslims and Christians – worship the same God? No. I don’t think we do. But we have the opportunity of reaching out to our Muslim friends, and introduce them to who God really is 🙂

You might want to read Nabeel Qureshi’s opinion on the Wheaton’s College controversy.

Thoughts on Islam

Just in case you do not know James White, you can watch this video. It is a very objective discussion on Islam and the very events that are happening around the world. He addresses issues such as whether ISIS is Islamic or not.

When somebody asks IS ISIS ISLAMIC? You should not answer with a YES or NO – without making the necessary distinctions based on historical texts.

In my opinion, Dr. White is qualified to speak on this topic since he has debated many Muslims. And actually, he is very welcomed by Muslims because he has always been very respectful.

Also, you can listen to this other radio show by Frank Turek. It gives more perspective on the issue of political correctness when we speak of Islam is America. The show intends to give perspective into questions such as:

  • What is Islam and radical Islam?
  • What is political correctness?
  • What issues should Christian consider regarding Muslim immigration?
  • How can we stop terrorist attacks in America?

I hope this gives some good background for a more clear understanding of why a topic like this might seem confusing at times. Also, there is a lot of emotions attached to it so we need to be sensitive. I haven’t been sensitive at times, and it proved disastrous – but there is always hope 🙂


If you’re holding out, and you’re trying to continue to do the right thing… Love the Muslim people, pray for them, witness to them, put your life on the line for them. Respect them, find out where they’re coming from and what they believe. If you’re starting to feel like you’re in a small minority… Hopefully this encouraged you.

Dr. White


Muslim apologetics-Resurrection

Muhammad, the founder of Islam, said that Jesus never died on the cross, never rose from the dead, and never claimed to be Lord.

Muslim apologists have made valiant attempts to defend Muhammad’s assertions, but the facts of history simply can’t be seriously disputed here.

In this lecture, Dr. Gary Habermas, one of the world’s leading experts on the historical facts surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection, evaluates some common arguments of Muslim apologists (such as Ahmed Deedat).

You might want to check this video out 🙂

 

Digitalized Manuscripts

The New Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

Since they began their work in 2002, a core part of their mission has been to make it possible to view and study New Testament manuscripts from anywhere in the world. They have worked toward this by traveling around the globe and capturing beautiful digital images of some of the most important extant manuscripts.

Today, they are taking another step forward by making it easier than ever for us to access manuscripts.

They’re launching the new CSNTM.org.

Here are some of the features that we can expect to find now and in the coming weeks:

  • New Manuscripts – They will be adding 10-20 new manuscripts to their website weekly for the next few months. These will be from the National Library of Greece in Athens (their ongoing project for 2015–16), as well as previously unposted images from hundreds of manuscripts and rare books in their collection.
  • New Look – They have revamped their entire website to make it both simpler and richer in content. They have new content, which narrates how they go about digitizing and archiving manuscripts. They also explain what goes into their extensive training program that enables their teams to work quickly while capturing high-quality images.
  • New Viewing Environment – The website is equipped with a new viewer, which makes it easier than ever to navigate manuscripts and view their stunning new images.
  • New Usability – Their new site is also designed to work perfectly with mobile devices and tablets, enabling us to view manuscripts or to access other resources quickly, whenever we need them.
  • New Search Features – The website is now outfitted with an extensive search functionality. Searches can be performed at the manuscript level, allowing us to find manuscripts that meet certain criteria (e.g., date, contents, material, location). They can also be performed at the image level, which allows us to find specific features within a manuscript. For instance, they now have a Jump to Book option that allows us to find the beginning of each book that a manuscript contains. Also, one can search tagged manuscripts for verse references. Every place, for example, in which John 1.1 is tagged will automatically populate when the verse is searched.
  • New Search Database – The search database holds tags for each manuscript and individual image. As their team continues tagging their growing collection, the search function will become more comprehensive each week. But the task is daunting. They want our help for the tagging!

If interested, you can reach them via their contact page:

http://www.csntm.org/

Please share their new site with colleagues and friends, so more and more people can continue to utilize CSNTM’s library, which is free for all and free for all time. They sincerely hope that you enjoy using the site. It represents a giant leap forward in accomplishing their mission: to bring ancient New Testament manuscripts to a modern world.


SO WHAT?

Look, I don’t read Greek.  It gives me confidence, however,  to know that scholars – Christian and non-Christians – who actually do read and do understand the Greek language have dedicated their whole lives to make sure that the thousands of manuscripts we have in our possession say pretty much the same thing.

It gives me confidence to know that the deity of Christ was NOT invented at the Council of Nicea, or that  – other than errors in spelling – the cardinal doctrines of Christianity have always been the same. Paul did not make them up. Nobody corrupted the manuscripts. We can prove it – because we kept them all 🙂

You might like to watch an interview with Daniel Wallace, who is the Executive Director for the NCSNTM. He speaks his mind into the New Testament (NT) tradition. The 5, 839 Greek NT manuscripts, plus the up to 20, 000 NT manuscripts in other ancient languages, plus the over a million NT quotations from the early Church Fathers definitely DO NOT help the Muslim conspiracy theory of Bible Corruption. We can zero in very, very well what the original text said. For the interview click here.

And since David Wood is one of my heroes, we also have his interview with Dr. Michael Licona about the Historical Jesus vs. the Muslim Jesus. To watch that interview, click here.

And last, but not least, an interview with Gary Habermas. During the last ten years, Dr. Habermas has dedicated all his efforts to update his bibliography on the major scholarly research on Resurrection (from 1975 to the present) in French, German and English – if you don’t mind. You can see the interview here.

Hope this helps 🙂

holy spirit

The Limitations of Apologetics and Belief ‘That’ and Belief ‘In’

It is important to remember that Apologetics may serve as a valuable medium through which God can operate, but the mature apologist knows the issue is never the product of historical facts or evidence alone.

The apologist knows and prays as well that the Holy Spirit will move the will of the individual to come to the place to have belief that God exists and also trust in him for their salvation.

THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

In their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli give a summary of faith.

Kreeft and Tacelli say we must distinguish between the act of faith from the object of faith- believing from what is believed. The object of faith means all things believed. For the Christian, this means everything God has revealed in the Bible. This faith (the object, not the act) is expressed in propositions. Propositions are many, but the ultimate object of faith is one. The ultimate object of faith is not words, but God’s Words (singular), indeed-Himself.

Without a relationship with the living God, propositions are pointless, for their point is to point beyond themselves to God. But without propositions, we cannot know or tell others what God we believe in and what we believe about God. They mention a few aspects of faith here:

1. Emotional faith: is feeling assurance or…

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Muslim-Christian Dialogue

Ever since I began learning about Islam, Judaism, and more about Christianity, I have really enjoyed watching debates. There’s something thrilling – for me, anyway- about cheering for your faith, while at the same time, being ready to take everything that is being said against your faith.

I think that has been a challenge for me. I had never heard such things against the reliability of the New Testament or whether Jesus never really died. It never crossed my mind that the apostle Paul might have invented Christianity or that Jesus was only a man – but not God Himself. Did I even understand The Trinity?

The easiest thing for me to do would have been to shut my eyes, cover my ears, and pretend to live in la-la-land where Christianity is perfect. I could have ignored all those debates, but I figured that if Christianity was true, then it would have to stand on its own. That’s why I decided to study other claims, and give those claims a chance to stand on their own.

The information you learn from watching a single debate is unbelievable. You come to appreciate the people debating, and you also grow to respect them. The more debates you watch, the more you know the arguments for and against your faith. In Muslim-Christian apologetics it almost seems that the arguments don’t change with time. But generations do change. I did not know about these things, and I find them amazing. My mind works like that anyway. I need to read, and research and go deep – very deep – into many things at a time. That’s why I am passionate about learning.

I never did that with Christianity. I never thought it through. I just took it in faith, and I think that was awesome!

But now, to think that the more I learn, and the more I read, and the more debates I watch, the more confident I become that I have placed my faith in the right place… it just doesn’t get better than that. The object of my faith is not the evidence. But the evidence confirms my choice over and over and over again.

That being said, there were several LIVE debates last week, and the world came to an end in my household. I just wanted to share them with you. I seriously think that if you see them all, you might feel your brain exploding, but you will learn A LOT of information. That’s one key to apologetics I believe: Keep learning 🙂


My dad used to tell me, ‘Son, if you are gonna walk on thin ice, you might as well dance’. With this Wood family wisdom in mind, I say to my friend Shabir, ‘Let’s dance’.

David Wood


David Wood vs Shabir Ally

  1. Is Jesus the Son of God?
  2. Was  Jesus a prophet of Islam?
  3. Does Paul give us the truth about Jesus?
  4. Does Mohammad give us the truth about Jesus?
  5. Is the Quran a book of peace?
  6. Is the Bible a book of peace?

Judah – Part 3

Extremely long post

I think I have shared so many things lately, that I got sidetracked about Judah. But as I write, I am only trying to connect the dots. In one of my previous posts, I talked about my Muslim friend doing Istikhara on my behalf. I also mentioned the fact that in my own prayer time, God had guided me to the same account in both my Bible and my Quran.  I think you deserve to know what happened.

Not only that, I have to remain truthful to my word. In my very first post, I said that one of my goals was to explain what it meant to be a born-again person. One’s faith has to be palpable on an every-day basis, otherwise, our faith might as well be dead. If I cannot walk my faith in a practical, tangible way – as a woman, mother and wife – then what exactly am I striving for? This is a biblical truth found in James 2:18. You cannot separate your faith (belief) from the way you act (deed).

Discipleship in Christ is about responding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine your thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. We have to walk the talk. Salvation is a gift from God. It is free. But that is only the beginning of the Christian life. Discipleship is looking at the Bible as a mirror, and asking yourself how much you actually resemble your Savior. Christ-likeness is the goal of the Christian life. It almost sounds impossible, but that is the standard. We will never look like Him, we are broken. Our hope is that one day we will.


Decisions, decisions


I cannot denny that I feel flattered when very close friends of mine tell me my faith is growing. Apparently they see things I see not. I personally have not felt strong in the Lord Jesus Christ for the past 9 months of my life. But I’ll tell you what, I have held on to Him for dear life. I have cried for Him, with Him and because of Him. I have cried myself to sleep not knowing who God really is. Who misled me into believing Jesus as Savior?

When I have looked into Muslim apologetics, I have found that Jesus never died. The Swoon Theory has Jesus passing out on the cross, but He did not die. He recovered later. The Legend Theory claims the crucifixion never happened. The Natural Death Theory argues Jesus died a natural death many years after. The substitution theory makes God a deceiver. God Himself made someone look like Jesus who was then crucified in the place of Christ.

God’s deception started right at the cross. But why would a great, loving God do that? Didn’t God know that a great movement called Christianity would emerge from all this? Why didn’t God stop it right on its tracks?


Was my God a deceiver like some Christian apologists claim Allah is? Or did Allah made someone else appear like Jesus in order to test us? After all, we are put in this life to be tested according to Islamic view.


I have had many answers to my prayers, but those answers came when I would read my Bible. My Muslims told me I was biased. They said I had to let go of Christ if I really wanted Allah to show me the right path. Without knowing, they were almost suggesting me to commit “Christian shirk”. The worst of the worst – rejecting the Holy Spirit. Their words came from a good place and a good heart. They love me. I know they love me.

I also know they are Muslims, but maybe I was biased. So I began asking God for answers while reading only my Quran. By no means I am an expert. I have only read sixteen juz-un out of thirty (53% of Quran content). I am sure I will still learn from the remaining fourteen parts. But believe me, after nine months of reading and thinking about it,  I know what Islam teaches.

Islam can get very complicated, but it is fairly simple. You submit to God. Then you follow the beautiful example of the life of Mohammad. Lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, Muḥammadur rasūlu-llāh. I even know how to pronounce that. I have actually uttered those words after my Muslimah showed me how. You pray five times a day. You fast during Ramadan. You give charity. You try to go to Makkah. You do good deeds. And by all means, you stop entertaining the pure thought of Jesus (PBUH) dying on the cross for your sins.

You do that, and you will be okay. You hope you will go to Heaven. In šāʾ Allāh. But you don’t really know.


You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound, as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?

– C.S. Lewis


So what? What was I supposed to do with all this knowledge in my head? I knew Christianity and I knew Islam. I was accountable to God for what I knew now. I was tired – my brain was tired, my soul was tired. I had asked God for wisdom, for discernment, but I was going one way, and then the other. I literally felt tossed by the waves of my own unbelief. And I almost gave up on Jesus.

God has showed me a great deal of things lately. The greatest, I believe, is that He loves me enough to give me free will. After Allah showed my Muslimah that I was heedlessly running towards Jesus, we talked about it. Through her Muslim eyes, that meant that I was not really looking for the truth. I was only looking for ways to justify Jesus as Savior. She never said this, of course, but I know enough Quran to understand that this heedlessness would land me in hell fire. Forever.


QURAN AND BIBLE – SIDE BY SIDE


Doesn’t Allah love me?, I thought. I know He does – Muslim or not – so I asked God one last chance. He had shown me many things before, but I pleaded with Him. I said that Moses got away with all his excuses for not wanting to go to Egypt. I reminded God – as if He needs my reminders – that Gideon was a mess asking for many signs. God showed him those signs, but then Gideon would question God again.

I knew that I had to make up my mind once and for all. What else was I looking for? I knew enough Islam. I knew enough Christianity. After a year of living in India, and all my knowledge, I had to make a choice. I was tired of learning for the sake of learning.


God, Allah, Jesus… whoever you are, I am up for grabs. Whoever God you are, you have to tell me right now. Show yourself to me. Answer me. You know I love you. Jesus, if you are God, show me. God, if Mohammad is your messenger, show me. I am afraid.  If you tell me Islam is the right path, I will give you my Shahada right now. I will start wearing my hijab right away, and I will wear it until the day I die. Jesus, if you are who the Bible says you are, I promise you, I will proclaim your glory and your praises to the top of my lungs until the day I die.


I would say it was the most sincere prayer I have prayed in the fear of God.  I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I had to keep my word either way. And I knew these two books were put to the test. Quran and Bible were together, and both would show me the path to take.

This might be a hard pill to swallow for many, but I believe God prompted me to open my Bible in page 83, and read the second paragraph. This was a very specific command. It is not my intent for you to think that somehow I am special becasue God led me this way. I do believe, though, that God can lead anybody in many ways. God speaks to our hearts. He speaks through His Word, through His people, and through our circumstances.


Then OUR father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if OUR youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless OUR youngest brother is with us.’

– Genesis 44:26-26


These two paragraphs meant literally my life for me. This is Judah speaking. This is the same Judah who married a Canaanite. The same Judah who fornicated with her daughter-in-law, who he believed to be a prostitute. These are the accounts that make Muslims say the whole thing is corrupted. This is pornography in their eyes. I think this is beauty. The Bible narrates the lives of real people with real struggles. I still don’t understand why Islam wants to portray the prophets of God as sinless. If only Muslims read about David and Bathsheba

But concerning Judah, this is the same Judah who convinced his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, and to tell Jacob that Joseph was dead. I invite you to read The Skeleton in Judah’s Closet. Do not stop there. Continue with all the commentaries until The Final Test.

But in page 83, I saw a different Judah. A Judah that attempts to paint an accurate picture of the pitiful condition of their father by reporting his words as spoken to his sons (verses 27-29). Jacob’s beloved wife, he had said, had borne him only two sons. When the oldest went out from him (Joseph) and did not return, he was forced to conclude that this son had died, a victim of wild beasts. To take the only other second son (Benjamin), and not return with him would break his heart. Not only would he enter his grave in sorrow, but he also implied that his death would even be hastened by his grief.

At this point, Judah has no idea that he is speaking to Joseph himself.

Judah stands up for himself and his brothers and pleads for mercy.  This could have had him killed (verse 34). But Judah had promised his father to bring Benjamin back (Genesis 43:9). Judah has the chance now to keep this promise. He showed great courage and responsibility when he offered himself to stay in the place of Benjamin.


Thank you, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF)


I wish I could tell you I figured all this out on my own, but I am not that smart. This year I had the privilege of studying the Torah in detail. Once a week, for thirty long weeks, I had to go to class, and deal with my children if they cried. I also had Torah-reading homework. So these two single verses might mean nothing for a Muslim who has never read the Torah.

But for me, these two verses meant everything. God brought all my knowledge of His Word to my mind in the span of less than 3 seconds. In forty-two generations, I went from Judah to King David, and from King David to Jesus.

God was no joke. I had asked, and now it was Quran’s turn. I felt moved to fold a page, and insert it in the middle of the Quran. I had no idea what to expect, but when I opened it, I was reading exactly the same account.


They said, “We will attempt to dissuade HIS father from [keeping] him, and indeed, we will do [it].”

Quran 12:61


The more I read, the more obvious it was portrayed that in the Quran narrative the brothers really never cared about Joseph or Benjamin (note 1721 – Yusuf Ali’s Commentary). The brothers kept on hating them. They believe Benjamin to be evil, and they call Joseph a thief (note 1747). The sons are cruel and heartless against Jacob as he deals with the pain of having lost Benjamin and Joseph (note 1759). The brothers do repent when they are faced with the reality of who Joseph is. Before that, tough, there is not a single sign of regeneration (note 1767).

This might not make much sense to you, but I knew what I had prayed for. Sure, maybe both narratives have a happy ending, but God was giving me the opportunity to choose a path.

1. Torah-Brothers. Self-sacrifice. Character changed. Ready to suffer for other’s sake.

2. Quran-Brothers. Selfish until confronted with the truth. Full of hate until they had no other option.

It was a no-brainer for me. I chose the way of Christ. I chose to give away my life for the sake of others. I am not trying to convince you that I made the right choice, but I am satisfied with the answer I received from God. I asked God to show me something, and He showed me enough for me to decide that Jesus will be my Good Shepherd.

Will the Jews agree? Probably not. Will the Muslims agree? Probably not. We will never agree on anything until the day we die. Apologetics are amazing, and I love that kind of stuff, but I need a break. My husband needs a break, and my children need a break.

I know the path that I have chosen. Most of all, I am owning my decisions. If my decision of following Jesus lands me in hell, so be it. I am at peace knowing that I will have no excuse on Judgement Day. I’m taking full responsibility for my choice.


Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’

Immediately the father of the child cried out and, said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-25


My faith-life will never look the same after India. Every day, I am asking God to help my unbelief. Rich Nathan seems to think this is the posture of the Christians until the day we die. And that’s okay. I feel I’m crawling to find my way again. I might not know much, but I’m following Jesus. And if that makes no sense at all to you, that’s totally fine. I can always keep looking for the truth. I can always be looking for counter-arguments for Islam or for Christianity. But it all comes down to faith at some point. It all comes down to a PERSONAL DECISION.

This has been a bumpy ride for me. It almost feels like I’m playing hide and seek with my Creator. He seems to hide and then BAM! God screams PEEK-A-BOO right on my face. And then He hides again. And on and off, we go. He likes surprising me. And if you have no idea what I am talking about, that’s totally fine, too. I believe, tough, that someone, somewhere, relates to me right now.

It almost feels like I am saying good-bye. I am.

Judah – Part 4 will be my lost post until further notice. My family needs me. I also feel God has something vey special in store for me, and I need to retreat. I need to recharge. I need to spend as much time with God as I possible can – without my brain overthinking Islam and Christianity.

Just God and me. Together. Hand in hand, like it was at the beginning. I want to fall in love again with the God who swept me off my feet with His Unfailing Love.

Don’t miss the last part of Judah 🙂