Jesus and the Historical Method – Part 5

This article picks up where the last article left off. We continue our glimpse at the early testimony for Jesus of Nazareth.

The Argument for the Early Dating of the Synoptic Gospels

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are all said to be the “Synoptic Gospels.”

“Synoptic” means that they are seen through the same eye. These three Gospels tell the story of Jesus in a familiar fashion. Some have claimed that the Gospels all should have been written after AD 70 due to a prophecy given that relates to the destruction of the Temple (occurring in AD 70). However, many scholars are beginning to change their mindset concerning these dates.

J. Warner Wallace makes a compelling argument, an argument held by some NT scholars, that all three Synoptic Gospels must have been written prior to AD 63. Wallace argues that “The New Testament fails to describe the destruction of the Temple…The New Testament fails to describe the siege of Jerusalem [70 A.D.]…Luke said nothing about the deaths of Paul and Peter…Luke said nothing about the death of James [62 A.D.]…Luke’s Gospel predates the Book of Acts…Paul quoted Luke’s Gospel in his letter to Timothy.”[1]

Therefore, since Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke and does not mention the details that Wallace has noted, then it only stands to reason that Acts was written before AD 64 with Luke being written sometime prior to Acts. Since Luke uses Mark and Matthew, then it is feasible to claim that Mark and Matthew predate the writing of Luke. If Wallace is correct, then the Synoptic Gospels were all composed within 30 years of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. It would be comparable to currently writing about an event that transpired in 1986. With several eyewitnesses and with fond memories of the 80s, one could write a trustworthy account within that timeframe.

Even if one is not persuaded by Wallace’s argument, suffice it to say that there exist several early traditions in the Gospel texts that predate the NT. Even with the Gospel of John which is normally attributed to the late first-century, many scholars—including some liberal ones—hold that John reports traditions that fit well within the early the time of Christ. This includes the inclusion of a miracle by Jesus at one Pool of Bethesda. The Pool of Bethesda was destroyed prior to AD 70.[2]

Earliest New Testament Letters

  1. Galatians

In addition to the previously listed material, one should note that many of the epistles listed in the New Testament canon are considered early. Consider the Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Gerald Peterman writes concerning Galatians that “Probably the letter should be dated to AD 49…Paul came to Christ probably around AD 35 and the events described in Gal 2:1-10 must have occurred before the letter was written. Therefore, the reference to ‘fourteen years’ (2:1) must be all-inclusive—that is, the ‘three years’ previously mentioned (1:18) plus 11 more. This yields AD 49 (35+14).”[3]

 2. James

The letter of James is another early manuscript. While some date the letter to the latter first-century, an idea based upon the skepticism that James, the half-brother of Jesus, would not pen a work; many Bible scholars hold that James not only was written by the authentic James, the half-brother of Jesus, but that the work was extremely early.

Kurt A. Richardson writes that “If the epistle’s author is James the Lord’s brother, then it was written before a.d. 62, perhaps in the previous decade. James is the only likely candidate for authorship, as, indeed, Christian tradition has affirmed.[4] John F. Hart takes the date a step further. Hart holds that James was written extremely early since that the Epistle of James does not indicate any reference to the Jerusalem Council. Thus, Hart notes that “If the book was written before the Jerusalem Council (AD 49), the date of writing could be as early as AD 45-48 (most evangelicals). If the dispersion in 1:1 refers to the scattering of Jewish believers in Ac 8:1, dated at about AD 34, the book could have been written as early as AD 35-36. James is probably the first NT book written.”[5]

If Hart is correct, then we have a reference to Jesus of Nazareth, that is “the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1), as early as 2-5 years from the time that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and resurrected!

3.  1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians is another work that provides early testimony to Jesus of Nazareth. 1 Thessalonians, like Galatians, Romans, and the Corinthian letters, is one of the letters universally attested to Paul. 1 Thessalonians, the book that provides the eschatological concept of the Parousia, was most likely written around AD 51, a mere 18-21 years from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Kevin D. Zuber denotes that “Paul probably arrived before Gallio began his tenure in AD 50. He probably wrote 1 Thessalonians in early AD 51 and 2 Thessalonians later that same year. Although these two letters are among the earliest of Paul’s ‘canonical correspondence’ (only Galatians is earlier), the themes and issues reflect a mature faith and a consistency of doctrine.”[6]

 Conclusion

This article has only scratched the surface of early testimony that one finds for Jesus of Nazareth. No other person in all of antiquity holds the early reliable testimony that Jesus of Nazareth enjoys. Those who are skeptical of the Christian faith may not accept the claims made about Jesus of Nazareth. However, if one is to be honest with the evidence, then one must admit that not only was Jesus of Nazareth an authentic person of history, but also that He was crucified and was thought to have resurrected from the dead from the outset of the Christian movement.

This evidence holds such power that it was used by God not only to bring Pastor Brian back to a strong Christian faith, but also led him back into the Gospel ministry. For me, it stopped me from becoming Muslim. It grounded my Christian faith on the evidence I never knew we had as Christians.

Thus far, Jesus of Nazareth has passed the historical test with flying colors. Will Jesus continue to pass the historical test when we investigate eyewitness testimony?

© January 25th, 2016. Brian Chilton.

 

Bibliography

 Albright, W. F. Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1955.

Habermas, Gary. The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996.

Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010.

Richardson, Kurt A. James. The New American Commentary. Volume 36. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.

Rydelnik, Michael, and Michael Vanlaningham, eds. The Moody Bible Commentary.Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Wallace, J. Warner. Cold-case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2013.

Endnotes 

 [1] J. Warner Wallace, Cold-case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2013), 161-163.

[2] In the 19th century, many scholars dismissed the Gospel of John as a late invention over this Pool of Bethesda. That is, until the Pool of Bethesda was excavated and discovered in the late 19th to early 20th century.

[3] Gerald Peterman, “Galatians,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1827.

[4] Kurt A. Richardson, James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 39.

[5] John F. Hart, “James,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1947.

[6] Kevin D. Zuber, “1 Thessalonians,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1877

Jesus – Son of Man, Son of God, Son of David

When it comes to messianic expectations at the time of Jesus, Christians can be unaware that other names were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.”

Two of these names are “Son of God” and “Son of Man.”

The “Son of Man” (bar nash, or bar nasha) expression is seen in Jesus’ earthly ministry (Mk. 2:10,28; 10:45; Matt. 13:37). But even in His earthly ministry, Jesus speaks of His authority on earth because the Son of Man has received his authority from God in heaven (as depicted in Dan. 7:9–14). For example, Jesus says to the scribes who question His presumption in declaring the paralyzed man’s sins forgiven: “… that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mk. 2:10). 1

Having received His authority from heaven, Jesus now exercises it in His ministry on earth. Even authoritative claims such as, “the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (Mk 2:28) would cause a Jewish hearer to remember that God is the only one who commanded his people to respect it (Exod. 20:8–11).2 While Son of Man is used to refer to the the suffering, death, and and resurrection of Jesus (Mk. 8:31;9:31;10:33), it also refers to eschatological judgment (Matt. 25:31-36; Mk.14:60-65).

Jesus spoke of this function in the following texts:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with him, then He will sit on his glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations , and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father , inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’ Then He will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels….’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matt. 25: 31-36).

You, who have persevered with me in my tribulations, when the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne will also sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Matt. 19: 28; Lk. 22: 28-30).

One of the most pertinent issues is Jesus’ use of Son of Man in the trial scene in Mark 14.

We DO NOT want to minimize why Jesus earned the charge of blasphemy here.

According to Jewish law, the claim to be the Messiah was not a criminal or capital offense. If this is true, why was Jesus accused of blasphemy? Jesus affirmed the chief priest’s question that He was not only the Messiah but also the Coming Son of Man who would judge the world and would sit at the right hand of God.

This was considered a claim to deity since the eschatological authority of judgment was for God alone. Hence, Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Daniel 7:13-14, and Psalm 110:1 to Himself. Let’s look at Daniel 7:13-14

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

In this text, the figure is given a rule over God’s kingdom. All people groups are seen as seen as serving and worshiping this figure. Yet, in some sense the figure is divine yet in human form who is a second divine figure who reigns alongside the Ancient of Days (the term for God in the text).

Son of God and Son of David

When it comes to the question as to whether Jesus is the Messiah, both Christians and Jewish people agree that the Messiah has to be a descendant of David. The area of disagreement is when Christians make the claim that Jesus is the divine, Son of God. What Christians tend to forget is that when Jewish people think of the Davidic King as the Son of God, it has very little to do with thinking the Son of God is the second person of the Trinity.

In other words, at the time of Jesus, “Son of God” didn’t necessarily denote divinity. Even though divine sonship appears in the Jewish Scriptures with regards to persons or people groups such as angels (Gen 6:2; Job 1:6; Dan 3:25), and Israel (Ex. 4:22-23; Hos 11;1; Mal. 2:10), the category that has special importance to the Son of God issue is the Davidic king. While God promised that Israel would have an earthly king (Gen. 17: 6; 49:6; Deut.17: 14-15), he also promised David that one of his descendants would rule on his throne forever (2 Sam.7:12-17; 1 Chr.17:7-15). In other words, David’s line would eventually reach it’s climax in the birth of a person who would guarantee David’s dynasty, and throne forever.

In Psalm 2 which is a coronation hymn, (similar to 2 Kings 11:12) is the moment of the king’s crowning. God tells the person to whom He is speaking that He is turning over the dominion and the authority of the entire world to Him (v 8). While David did have conquest of all the nations at that time, (Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, Amalek, etc-1 Chron. 14:17; 18:11) in Psalm 2, one day God will subjugate all the nations to the rule of the Davidic throne.3

In Psalm 89, the Davidic King is elevated over the rivers and seas (v.24- 25) and is the most exalted ruler on earth (v. 27). He also will be the “firstborn” and enjoy the highest rank among all earthly kings. In Psalm 110, the Davidic King is invited to sit at God’s “right hand” (vs.1) and his called called “lord” (vs.1) and called a “priest” after the pattern of Melchizedek.

Keeping this in mind, let’s look at Romans 1:1-5

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In this text, Paul says through the resurrection, Jesus is installed (by God) as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). Paul is not saying Jesus is being appointed as The Son of God is a change in Jesus’ essence. Thus, Jesus is “designated” or “declared” as the Son of God, the Lord—the anti-type of the previous “sons” in the Old Testament (Adam, David, Israel).”4 Paul’s goes on to reference Jesus as the incarnate Son who dies and is raised from the dead (see Rom. 5:10; 8:3, 29, 32; Gal. 1:16; 4:4–6; Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 1:10).

To summarize, Jesus did consider Himself to be both the unique Son of God and the Son of Man. When we understand the cultural context of these names for the Messiah, it becomes evident that Jesus is both divine and human. Because of this, He is the only one who can provide both atonement for our sins as well as a covenantal relationship with God through his death and resurrection.

REMEMBER THIS WHEN YOUR MUSLIM FRIENDS TELL YOU JESUS NEVER CLAIM TO BE DIVINE, OR THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT NEVER PORTRAYS JESUS AS GOD.


1.Craig A Evans, From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2014), 49.

2.Ibid.

3. Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing The Promises, Expectations, And Coming of Israel’s King ( Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2012), 80.

4. C.W Morgan and R.A. Peterson, Theology in Community: The Deity of Christ(Wheaten: Crossway, 2011), 119.

Jesus and the historical Method – Part 4

This fourth article confronts an issue that many skeptics present concerning one’s knowledge of the historical Jesus: early testimony.

Early testimony is important because the closer a text is to the events that it describes, the more reliable the testimony. Longer spans of time allows for the introduction of legendary material (i.e Muhammad’s version of what happened to Jesus). Early testimony allows for correction among historical records and other eyewitnesses who can corroborate or deny the details presented by a text (Muhammad lived 600 years after Jesus – he was not an eye witness).

Some people are skeptical to the dating of some New Testament texts. Part of this skepticism stems from extreme liberal beliefs concerning the biblical texts originating from textual criticism gone wild. However, unbeknownst to many, such skepticism is far from unanimous in biblical scholarship. In fact, the scholarly world is coming to the understanding that the texts of the New Testament may be much earlier than previously anticipated. In fact, two radical scholars, John A. T. Robinson and W. F. Albright, have accepted an early dating for the New Testament writings.

Albright noted that “We can already say emphatically that there is no long any basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”[1]

This article will not address every early document that we have pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth. Rather, this article will examine some of the earliest testimonies we have pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth. We will begin with, perhaps, the most important testimony we possess.

Pre-New Testament Traditions

Throughout the New Testament, one finds early Christian documentations that predate the New Testament writings. These documentations date to the earliest times of the church.

Habermas notes that “It is crucially important that this information is very close to the actual events, and therefore cannot be dismissed as late material or as hearsay evidence. Critics not only admit this data, but were the first ones to recognize the early date.”[2]

Several of these early traditions are documented throughout the New Testament writings. It is important to note that these traditions date to the earliest church. For your consideration, I have attached a formulation (listing out key historical events), a hymn (a song relating theological information), and a confession (listing out a statement to be said in confessing a belief).

  1. Formulation in   1 Corinthians 15:3-8

In this formulation, perhaps one of the most important historical pre-NT traditions, Paul relates what he received when he first became a Christian and met with the apostles. This is what Paul records:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”[3]

In this formulation, one will note the emphasis placed upon Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and resurrection appearances. This tradition provides HUGE historical support for resurrection claim.

2. Hymn: Philippians 2:6-11

In his letter to the Church of Philippi, Paul recounts an early hymn that predates his writing. This hymn records several important Christian beliefs pertaining to Christ.

“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

Here again, one will find early testimony for the crucifixion of Christ and implicitly for the resurrection. Also of great importance is the early attribution of divinity that the church placed upon Jesus of Nazareth.

3. Confession:     Romans 10:9

To the Church of Rome, Paul provides an early confession that predates his writing. Paul notes that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Paul’s confession notes, again, the death and resurrection of Jesus.

These early testimonies are so important that NT historian Michael Licona noted that “Paul and the oral traditions embedded throughout the New Testament literature provide our most promising material.”[4] Therefore, these traditions which number far more than the three listed are of extreme value to the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth.


So much information was compiled by Pastor Brian for the early testimony of Jesus that the article had to be broken into two sections. Next week, his examination of early testimony will continue as we take a look at the dating of the Gospels and the three earliest Epistles in the New Testament.

For my own writing’s sake, I just want to address one more thing  – although I am almost sure Pastor Brian will mention it. These early testimonies are EXTREMELY important when it comes to Muslim-Christian apologetics. There’s a myth surrounding the apostle Paul.

He is charged by the Muslims to have made Jesus into a God. The Gospels – according to Muslim apologists – never show Jesus as God (never mind Jesus saying He is the Son of Man of Daniel 7, or Jesus receiving worship by Thomas and not rebuking him, among other examples).

If someone is to blame, it has to be Paul. There’s an excellent debate here on who gives us the truth about Jesus – Paul or Muhammad?

But the datings of this early testimonies are extremely important. The book of Romans, for example, was written around A.D. 57. Phillipians was written around A.D. 62, and 1 Corinthians around A.D. 53-55. Why is this important? It is important because this means that the disciples of Jesus were alive when Paul wrote his letters to the different churches.

The Gospel of Matthew was written in the late 50s or early 60s. The Gospel of Mark – although not a disciple of Jesus, but a friend of Peter – was written in the late 50s. The Gospel of Luke was written by a physician (and Paul’s companion) sometime before A.D. 65. The Gospel of John was written between A.D. 70-100.

All the people associated with Jesus – the eyewitnesses – were still alive by the time Paul’s letters were in circulation. Galatians was written in A.D. 48. Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians were written around the same time of Phillipians – A.D. 62. Besides all this, the epistles mention the other apostles. Paul  knew Peter and James personally (Galatians 1).

If Paul was making all this stuff up, CERTAINLY the disciples would have said something. Don’t you think?

Jesus’ own brother James wrote his letter around A.D. 40-45 – way before Paul’s writings. And seriously, what did it take for James to accept that his half-brother was actually God in the flesh? James turned from being a skeptic to a leader in the church based on his meeting with the resurrected Christ.

My point is this: Paul did not make up the divinity of Jesus. Everybody who knew Jesus personally was still alive, and could have called Paul out on this, but they didn’t. Why? Because Paul was telling the truth even before the synoptic gospels were written.

Stay tuned for next week 🙂

 Bibliography for Complete Article

Albright, W. F. Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1955.

Habermas, Gary. The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996.

Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010.

Richardson, Kurt A. James. The New American Commentary. Volume 36. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.

Rydelnik, Michael, and Michael Vanlaningham, eds. The Moody Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Wallace, J. Warner. Cold-case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2013.

Endnotes

[1] W. F. Albright, Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1955), 136.

[2] Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996), 30.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[4] Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010), 275.

What ‘Muslim’ Actually Means

I know Muslims who say they submit to the law of the land. Other Muslims I know think Sharia Law will solve all the problems around the world.

Who knows?

Clare M. Lopez gives a good perspective on the subject of what the word Muslim actually means in her article


TO BE OR NOT TO BE:

WHAT ‘MUSLIM’ ACTUALLY MEANS

The entire debate about what it means to be “Muslim” and Shariah-compliant might be solved with a quick lesson in Arabic grammar.

This is because the word Muslim contains in its Arabic meaning its own definition.

You see, the word Muslim in Arabic has two parts: the Mu prefix, and the triliteral root that forms the word Islam. That root word, Islam, is a verbal noun that means submission. When an Mu prefix is attached to such a root in Arabic, the resulting noun means: a person who does the thing that root word denotes.

Therefore, with Islam being a verbal noun meaning submission, Muslim therefore means one who submits.

Submits to what? To Allah’s will – which is Shariah. Islamic Law.

Thus, anyone who presents as a Muslim is by definition Shariah-adherent, because that’s what the word itself actually means. If someone claims to be a Muslim, or converts to Islam, or was born into Islam, but does not apostatize or separate from it, then it is reasonable to conclude that such a person is Shariah-compliant—at a minimum, tacitly—unless and until told otherwise. And the converse must also be true: one who does not submit to Shariah, one who does not adhere to Shariah, does not meet the linguistic definition of Muslim.

As for Shariah, which is defined and understood by the Islamic scholars to be an all-encompassing, legal-military doctrinal system that features some religious beliefs, it is binding for Muslims, even as the word Muslim dictates. Although Shariah includes a multitude of obligations, among which many are innocuous (to believe in the oneness of Allah; to pray five times per day; to avoid eating pork, etc.), jihad as warfare to spread Islam is also a core, compelling obligation. All who are Muslim by birth or conversion are obligated to actively support the establishment of a universal governmental system (Caliphate/Imamate) based on Shariah and the replacement by means of jihad of any political system not governed by Shariah.

It is this commandment to Islamic supremacism that is most problematic for non-Muslims and responsible for much of the debate about what exactly “being Muslim” means. But if we realize that the answer lies in the etymology of the Arabic word Muslim itself, then it will be understood that unless and until that identity as “one who submits” is abjured by the individual in question, the person is accorded full credit for living a Shariah-adherent life.


Look… I know a woman who told me she has had four miscarriages, and that her husband of eighteen years died of a silent heart attack. She’s Muslim. She remarried two years later. I think I’m her friend.

Unless she has some Machiavellian plan to get me to like her in order to convert me to Islam, I think she trusts me. And she trusts me because I am the only person she can relate to in a white-only-environment. I guess Muslims want to be my friends after all 🙂

I’m not even Muslim, but I know her culture and her religion. She feels safe talking to me. I have shown my love for her by asking her about her life. I have shown her the love of Jesus by just LISTENING to her.

Is she Sharia-compliant? Maybe. You know what, though? The Lord Jesus is after her heart. And I am honored to be the instrument that He might use to bring her HOME, and sweep her over her heels with a LOVE that she has never known.

To Isa al-Masih [Jesus the Messiah] be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Love your Muslims

There have been several things pressing on my heart lately, but I think one of the most painful ones is the fact that a lot of people nowadays are afraid of Muslims. I am a follower of Jesus. I am NOT afraid of Muslims. I cannot give into fear. Allow me to elaborate.

If you happen to be reading this blog for the first time, I began writing in an attempt to speak my own mind into my own confusion. I enjoy writing down my thoughts, and I have logs for many things. I also wanted to document my spiritual journey.

While I began writing, I was  living in India, and I was best friends with a Muslim woman. I love that Muslim woman dearly, and I love her family. Not a single day passes without me thinking about them, and praying for them, but we are not in good terms with each other anymore.

I don’t believe Islam is true. There was a point last year, however, in which I could have probably become Muslim. For the first time in my life I was challenged to think outside my Westernized Christian bubble, and evaluate whether or not the Bible is reliable. Maybe it had been corrupted. I had to come face to face with questions, doubts and spiritual confusion. Did Jesus really died on the cross? Was He God incarnate or just a mere rasul (prophet)?

And all this confusion was easy to dismiss on a every day basis – at the beginning at least. I spent most of my time with my Muslim family. They became my family. Even tough there were Christians around, these Christians told me to stay away from the Muslims because they were gonna hurt my feelings. I was from the West. I did not know these people.

In the aftermath, they did hurt my feelings. But I hurt them, too. Unfortunately, we both hurt each other deeply.

So whenever I talk about Islam, Muslims, politics, and so on… I am very careful to remember that there are true stories and real people involved here. It is very easy to dismiss Muslims as our enemies, and to talk harshly about them when you don’t have a Muslim face that you can call your own – if that makes sense.

No. I am not an apologist for Islam. I believe Islam is a false religion. If Muhammad wanted to come up with a new religion of his own, then good for him. He would have not been the only one doing that. You also have Joseph Smith. But if he claimed to be a prophet in the line of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then Muhammad was a false prophet.

This freedom of speech cost me a friend.

I expressed my concerns about many practices allowed in Islam that I could not even begin to wrap my  mind around it. I called ISIS Islamic. My friends, of course, took offense. According to them, ISIS was not Islamic and Islam is a beautiful religion. So something “broke” between us. And that’s that.

There is a point to be done here. And it goes beyond my feelings, or even my friends’ feelings. I personally believe that the problem the West is facing is this: Nobody wants to confront the real issue.

If you confront the real issue, you are called a bigot. Most Westerns are ignorant about Islam.  We think that all people around the globe share our Judeo-Christian values (regardless of whether you are a Christian or not). And I also see ignorance in the Muslim world. I hope it is ignorance or denial because it would be so devastating if it is straight up lying.

Sunni Muslim, Raheel Raza published a video recently about the rise of Radical Islam. She is very boldly asking for an open, honest, fact-based conversation regarding these issues. She recognizes the fact that most acts of terrorism today involve Muslims in one way or another. So she calls for a discussion not about Islam, but about Radical Islam, and how it affects us all.

If you are following the news then I’m sure you’ve heard about the fact that the terrorist attack in San Bernardino could have been stopped. But the people who noticed suspicious activity never called the police because they didn’t want to be seen as racially profiling.

I hope you really watch the video first, because I’m writing about things that are said, and statistics that Mrs. Raza provides.

Mrs. Raza comments on the fact that she doesn’t need Ben Affleck – or any other celebrity – to defend her religion. I applaud that. It’s interesting to watch Ben Affleck saying that people who criticize Islam are racist. Islam is not a race. Not only that, tough, I seriously wonder if Ben has ever read a Quran in the first place.

In the other hand, Mrs. Raza does acknowledge an issue that not even the President of the United States can acknowledge: That ISIS is Islamic. She calls it Radical Islam. And she needs protection from the radicals in her own religion.

Now, she has a different perspective than that of my friends, of course. But the main issue here – in my own mind, anyway – is this: Why do Radical Muslims want to kill her?  Is it just because she is calling them radicals? Or is there anything that inherently goes against what these radicals are doing?

These are the circles presented in the video.

  1. Violent Jihadists wake up in the morning wanting to kill all non-Muslims. This is ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, etc. These are the people behind The Boston Marathon bombing, San Bernardino, Paris, and of course, 9/11. This amounts to the smallest circle.
  2. Islamists want many of the same things as the jihadists, but they won’t kill people. They use the political system for Islam to raise up to power. I think this is one of the issues happening in America right now. Mrs. Raza calls out CAIR as an organization that tries to politically and legally silence everyone who speaks against Radical Islam.
  3. Fundamentalists are the most disturbing circle, according to Mrs. Raza. These Muslims won’t kill people and won’t overthrow governments, but they do hold beliefs about human rights, women, and homosexuals (among others) that are deeply troubling.

Who are these fundamentalists?, Mrs. Raza asks. I personally think she opened a can of worms with that question.

She continues.

In 2013, a poll of Muslims in 39 countries revealed that 27% agree with the execution of apostates. That amounts to 237 million people. Do you think that is a radical belief? I personally know three people who have a story like this.  In the same poll, 39% of Muslims believe in honor killings – if your wife is an adulterer – which amounts to 345 million Muslims. That is A LOT of Muslims.

I want you to pay close attention to this, and I quote Mrs. Raza,


These numbers paint a picture about the Islamic world that is increasingly out of step with the modern world.


If this is true, if the Islamic world is out of step with the modern world, I am without words. Mrs. Raza talks about an Islam that will crumble at its foundation would the radicals Muslims think like she thinks.

Mrs. Raza basically is speaking against Allah and Muhammad. It may sound complicated – it was very confusing to me at the beginning. It was all the more confusing, of course, because I was studying Islam to see if I would join Islam. I was studying Islam very carefully. I learned about its claims, the application of those claims, its pillars, and so on.

The more I studied, the more I understood that the Quran is supposed to be the final, clearest revelation from God. Islam is a religion that has been perfected. Allah in the Quran is done with the Jews, and the Christians. Allah wants everybody to be Muslim. Muslims are the best of peoples. Of course, I believe with all my guts this is false, but these are the teachings of Islam. These are things that if you read the Quran, you can easily see for yourself.

Being a Muslim is not as simple as the Western Muslims claim to be. Yes, it is very easy, but it is not that simple. It is not only  a “Do good and hope for the best”- religion. Islam means submission.

Being a Muslim means that you submit to Allah. The more you dig, tough, the way in which you submit to Allah is by obeying his commands and Muhammad. Allah revealed the Quran (according to Muslims). The Quran then, it is NOT a revelation like Jews and Christians talk about the inspiration of the Bible.

For a Muslim, the Quran is the actual word from Allah. Allah dictated verbatim his words to Muhammad through an angel. So the Quran is NOT one more revelation, it is the final revelation. According to Islam, Jews and Christians corrupted everything and messed up everything, and so that’s why Allah had to send the Quran and Muhammad – to correct everything and everybody.

Now, before I continue, these allegations can be “easily” dealt with and proved false. I am passionate about the field of Muslim-Christian apologetics. But to understand ISIS, terrorism, and all the events happening around the world today, you need to understand that this is a war that began some four thousands years ago. It is mostly religious. Politics are thrown into it, of course, but at the core, religion is key.

Nobody seems to be addressing that – religion.

Our politicians do not want to talk about religion, and some presidential candidates are talking nonsense as if dropping bombs will stop this. More violence won’t solve the problem. I seriously wonder if sweet Ben Affleck understands this.

Mrs. Raza’s numbers reveal that 281 million Muslims in THE WESTERN WORLD approve of amputations, whippings, stonings, and corporal punishment. These Muslims believe Sharia Law should be the law of the land. Does that sound crazy to you? Does that sound radical?

Of course not all Muslims approve of this, and she makes that clear distinction. But I ask, of those who approve, why do they approve?


By silencing the debate on radical Islamist beliefs, we abandon our own core beliefs on truth, free speech and tolerance. And we abandon human rights in favor of political correcteness.

– Raheel Raza


Hats off to Mrs. Raza. I think she has started a much needed discussion.

I am a very curious person by nature. Maybe that’s why I got into college wanting to be a scientist. I was always fascinated by Chemistry, and atoms, and Biology and what not. I ask too many questions.

When I was in India and began asking my friends about Islam, they told me to read the Quran – they even bought me one big Yusuf Ali commentary. And when I began questioning about the Sunnah of Muhammad (the things he said and did), they were quick to say that I should not bother with that for now. They encouraged me to only read the Quran to see how beautiful Islam was.

I did read the Quran, and I didn’t think it was beautiful. I saw a god who claims to be the God of Abraham, but that god did not love like the God of Abraham. And I freaked out, of course, because now I was confused. Who was the God that I had submitted my life to? The God whom I had surrendered my life to was NOT the god of the Quran.

There are many technicalities about calling Him YHWH or Allah, but if you are a follower of Jesus, and have studied the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as I have, you can immediately recognize their personalities are very different. I saw similarities in both faiths, of course, but I got very curious at the differences. I had to learn about it. If I had been mislead into Christianity because of my upbringing -like my friends said- I needed to know.

I honestly wanted to follow after God. I was honestly confused. And after my friends told me the Bible was corrupted – which was very early into our relationship –  I got sucked into hundred of hours of studying and learning, both about Islam and Christianity. I had seen the light of Jesus, but I never actually asked for evidence. So I was seriously seeking for the truth. But the more I asked my friends, the more resistance I encountered. They never flipped, but at the same time, we never openly discussed things that troubled me deeply about Allah and Muhammad.

When we did talk about it, it was always superficial. She was so passionate about Islam that even when the evidence led me to Christianity, she got upset. She said I was never really looking for the truth. According to her, if I had, I would have become a Muslim. So our friendship ended on the basis of me attacking Islam in my blogs, and misleading people to Christianity.

If I didn’t respect Islam, I didn’t respect her.

This is why it is of utmost importance to know – as followers of Jesus – that Muslims are passionate people. They love their religion and they love Muhammad. They are very religious people. And even if they are not, it doesn’t matter. They love Muhammad. Deeply.

I am also very religious. Of course, Jesus is not a religion, but you know what I mean. In this life, my goal is to become Christ-like. I will never achieve it to perfection, but day by day, that’s my aim. In a similar fashion, a good devout Muslim wants to imitate Muhammad in all aspects – that’s their goal.

That is why, besides the Quran, Muslims are also guided in their religion by the Sunnah of  Muhammad. Islam, as a religious system, is based in these historical sources. Yes, the Quran is very important, but for a devout Muslim, Muhammad is as important. That is why the first pillar of Islam is the Shahada, the confession that There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet. You are not a Muslim if you don’t believe this.

Interestingly, tough, my friends sometimes teased me about becoming a Muslim. And even when I told them I could not say it from the heart, they said it didn’t really matter. I could become a Muslim. The conviction would come later. Who knows? This happens all the time. Muslims in the Middle East are very attractive. Women are beautiful and men are handsome. Then you hear them speaking Arabic. You wanna marry these people! Who cares if you believe it from the heart? You just become a Muslim!

Devout Muslims, tough, do pray what Muhammad prayed before eating. They end up the fasting in Ramadan as he did it. The enter the bathroom as he did it. When Muslims want to grow in their faith, they are encouraged to actually study these traditions. They are encouraged to read the Sunnah and Sirah of the Prophet (his life), and all this literature that for the most part is available online.

I highly recommend you read the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi. It will give you a glimpse into the deep love and reverence that Muslims have for their prophet. Lots of feelings and emotions. Lots of passion. Zeal.

For me, a question was of main importance. And it seems that it is precisely the question that everyone seems to avoid. What kind of life did Muhammad live? I was considering becoming a Muslim so I needed to know what kind of beautiful pattern of conduct I needed to imitate. My friends always described me a Muhammad that was very similar to Jesus, and they told me about beautiful traditions. But I was never surprised by this. It was great that their prophet helped the poor, or the widows or the orphans. But I followed Jesus. I knew beautiful. I knew peaceful.

I hope you are following my train of thought.

Being curious as I am, I found another video by Mrs. Raheel Raza. She is interviewed about her opinion on what exactly drives radical Islam. She says that the short answer is an ideology that the radicals are using to hijack Islam. According to her, the radicals are turning Islam into a political ideology, and brainwashing people.

Hijacking means taking something that is not rightfully yours, and make it your own. Simple example, Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven“.

Hijacking Christianity would be killing people in the name of Jesus, as this contradicts exactly what Jesus said and what Jesus did. A sad example of this are the Crusades, and events that lead to the Holocaust. I am aware of my unfortunate Church history.

But when Mrs. Raza talks about radical Muslims hijacking Islam – making it into an ideology -who am I supposed to believe? What Muslim is telling me the truth? The radical Muslims who follow Muhammad to the iota – living their lives as he lived his life – or the moderate Muslims who tell me the violence Muhammad exercised was only for a period of time?

According to Islam’s most trusted traditions – Bukhari and Muslim – Muhammad died cursing the Jews and the Christians. Only for a period of time? Muhammad hated their guts until the moment he died. I won’t link you to anything. You can Google it very easily. This is the era of information – thank God.

In the video, Mrs. Raza assures her interviewer that the Quran doesn’t say anything about killing people.

Are we reading the same Quran, Mrs. Raza?

I don’t see compassion towards the People of the Book. I only see how Muslims are the best of peoples. And how Jews and Christians are the worst of creatures because we don’t follow Islam. Google it, seriously. And read a Quran.

You see, this is what I don’t understand. Is Mrs. Raza purposely lying or she just doesn’t know?

Radical Muslims are living the Islam Muhammad lived. Mrs. Raza talks about abandoning core values of free speech.  Free speech? There was no free speech in Muhammad’s time, Mrs. Raza! Muhammad had people murdered because they insulted him. Read about Asma.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs. Raza doesn’t know. Many Muslims don’t know. She talks about a political ideology that is like a cancer. Yes, it is like a cancer. The Islam Muhammad lived was a spiritual, political and militant cancer.

So yes. Radical Muslims are killing people in the name of Mrs. Raza’s religion. Why? They do it because Muhammad said that he had been commanded by Allah to fight all the people until everybody testified that There was no God but Allah and that Muhammad was his prophet.

Does this sound like the Shahada? It is the Shahada!

Putting it altogether, Islam teaches that the Quran is the final revelation of God. Islam is the perfect religion. The Quran is a revelation from God himself to all people for all times. The radicals want everybody to be Muslim because that is what Muhammad was commanded to do. Allah only loves good Muslims.

And I am not defending the radicals. I am just trying to understand what drives their ideology. They are not really hijacking anything. They are just following the Islam that Muhammad left the world with. And that’s the problem right there – the sources are not consistent.

Use ONLY some reliable sources and you can make Muhammad into a saint. Islam is beautiful.

Use ONLY some reliable sources – as reliable as the first ones – and you get ISIS.

You see the reason why I think that closing the borders to Muslims is nonsensical? I think it is too late for that. I agree with increasing security, of course.  But banning all Muslims – that’s too much. Everywhere I look there is a Muslim somewhere. And God forbid the moderate Muslims decide to take some authentic haddiths literally, because if they do, all of us are dead.

I am not being pessimistic. I think I am grounded in reality. And that is the problem. The elephant in the room that nobody seems to address is the religion itself. 

Mrs. Raza. is also asked if there is a place in the Islamic religion  where it says that Muslims should partake in these terrorist acts. She never replies with an absolute NO. She replies that not in her understanding of the Quran. But what about the sound traditions in which Muhammad says he had been made victorious with terror?

Unfortunately, the radical Muslims can always point theologically and historically to their own sources to kill civilians, to kill Jews, to kill children, to kill homosexuals, to kill apostates, to kill people who mock Muhammad.

So when a Muslim tells me that Islam is beautiful, I believe that. You can make Islam be that way. But then at what point are you – as a Muslim – thinking that you know better than Allah? If the Quran is the last, clearest revelation from Allah, and you are commanded to obey Muhammad, how can you pick and choose what you want to follow?

This is something that also applies to Christians, by the way. We pick and choose all the time. And when we do, we are in rebellion – we are hypocrites. Jesus speaks against that. The Quran also speaks against hypocrite Muslims, by the way.

So there have been articles about Islam needing a reform. I’ve been following them. You can read the article here. And you can read the actual Reformation Document here. I admire these people as a non-Muslim. But in my non-Muslim eyes, after the knowledge I have acquired – which is not extensive – I see this declaration, and I cannot see anything other than these Muslims contradicting very specific statements in the Quran and the Sunnah.

I am not saying these Muslims are not real Muslims. But when they demand rights and a reform that flies in the face of Allah’s specific commands in the Quran, and some of the things Muhammad did and say about women, criticism, human rights, inheritance, anti-Semitism, apostasy, among others… It all sounds beautiful to the Western world. But to the radicals it sounds like blasphemy. And that’s why they want to kill them – Mrs. Raza included.  These Muslims have been Westernized.  These Muslims want values that the Judeo-Christian West offers, but they are not the values of the Islam of Muhammad.

If people are serious about a religious reform, one thinks they would like to maintain some connection to their own religious traditions as a basis for that reform. That is actually what happened historically with the Protestant Movement and the Catholic Church. The Reformers went back to the original message that Christ preached. We went back to the Bible alone. We broke away from man-made-tradition, and the selling of indulgences, and what not. .

But the Muslim Reform Movement seems more interested in establishing a connection with the non-Muslim Western world as the basis for their reform. And this is the sad reason why there seems to be little, if any, support coming from the greater Muslim-American community for this small group of aspiring reformers.  It is only attention from the non-Muslim world that will sustain the Muslim Reform Movement. Sadly.

Going back to Mrs. Raza, and her question about the fundamentalists – who are the most disturbing – I read an excellent article by  Hussein Aboubakr.

Hussein was told in his childhood that every day that passes on the Islamic nation without a caliphate is a sin. That the failures and miseries of the Muslim world started the moment they gave up conquests and wars against the infidels. That their prosperity depends on conquering new lands, converting new believers, looting new resources and enslaving more women. He was taught that a Jew is essentially a demon in flesh and that it was their destiny as good Muslims to kill them all.

Where is this anti-Semitism coming from? Read the Quran, people!

Hussein talks about many parts of the Muslim world that are intolerant towards free speech, criticism and reform. Human rights are not observed in most of the Muslim world; women’s rights, homosexual rights, minority rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of belief… Execution of apostates, women who are not allowed to drive, sexual segregation, persecution of liberals and journalists, homosexual imprisonment, and persecution of non-Muslim minorities are all common themes almost in all Muslim countries. Many Muslim countries use public beheadings, hangings, lashings, stonings and chopping of limbs  as an accepted form of punishment.

This is not news for us, sadly. Hussein makes a point, tough. He says that while the vast majority of Muslims may frown upon ISIS and Al Qaeda and may be horrified by their acts, they will still approve of many human rights abuses. He is talking against the same things Mrs. Raza is speaking against.

He says the Muslim world is dominated by bad ideas and bad beliefs. He says the majority of Muslims have no principle objections to application of extreme violence, subjection of women and minorities, prosecuting if not killing homosexuals and confiscating personal freedoms.

And I ask again, and again… Where do the bad ideas and the bad beliefs come from? Why are people in positions of authority like Mrs. Raza so eager to deny or even hide that both – the great things in the Muslim world and the bad things in the Muslim world – all come from the same place?

Mrs. Raza says she is not a leader, but she is. She HAS a voice. People listen to her. Hey, nobody is interviewing me…

Do you see now how this is almost impossible to talk about? Everybody attacks the radicals, everybody says there is a problem, and that we need an honest, open discussion. But the moment you start asking questions and confronting the real issue all hell breaks loose. And people get hurt.

I lost a friend because she felt I should keep my mouth shut. I couldn’t. I loved her. My love for her demanded me to speak out. I cried asking her to stop feeling guilty over not being able to fast during Ramadan. I had feelings for these Muslims!


We label as moderate Muslims everyone who is not trying to kill us regardless of that person’s actual views. Moderate Muslims rush to warn about Islamophobia and unjust western prejudice against Muslims. Almost in every single occasion that Islamic terrorism is mentioned, Muslims’ first action is to defend their faith. They assert over and over how peaceful and beautiful Islam is. They are obsessed with their religion and care about it more than they care about stopping murder in its name. It should be clear that this kind of obsession is just another form of fundamentalism.

-Hussein Aboubakr


Remember that according to Mrs. Raza, the most disturbing circle was the fundamentalists. They won’t kill anybody, but they agree with the punishments, and in some ways, they justify them. I am afraid to say that I think the fundamentalists are for the most part the sweet, moderate Muslims.

They might agree out of fear, or out of conviction, but they do – for the most part – have radical ideas. They just don’t act on them. I was confronted face to face with hate for Jews and Christians because we are greedy for oil. I was told no Muslim would ever want to be my friend because I was gonna let them down. The conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the hate for the West and Israel are very real. And of course, Sharia Law is the answer for all the problems you see around the world – or at least in Pakistan.

And the funny thing is I never expected these things. I didn’t know any better. I had never been friends with any Muslim whatsoever. But Muslims are passionate people. I love her dearly. I don’t hate her. She is so zealous for Allah. Oh, my God, what I wouldn’t give for Christians to be as zealous for Jesus as she is for Muhammad… And I’m sure she loves me. I spent most of my time with them. I ran to their house whenever they needed me. I made life with them. My children miss her children, and they talk about them on a regular basis.

As a follower of Jesus, unless you don’t love these people for real, unless you don’t understand their feelings, their culture, and their way of thinking… unless you don’t put yourself out there to serve them and love them genuinely, there is little to talk about this world conflict that we see in the news. Muslims are in the news all the time, but they also just want to be left alone and live their lives. If you want to make a difference in their lives, you have to learn how to be able to relate to them.

Love them. Get to know them. And also understand this, the Christian love is not to be a silent, cushy-feeling. There is a minister who works with Muslims, and he says that Muslims on a regular basis are surprised at how confident he is. Muslims expect him to be weak, and silent, and not being able to defend his faith. These are ideas that Muslims honestly hold about Christians. Jesus was meek, but make no mistake. Meekness is not weakness. Jesus confronted people. Paul confronted people. Read the New Testament.

If you really care about a person, you eventually would like to share your faith, wouldn’t you? I would. And maybe this is just me, because this is my passion. You have to be prepared to defend your faith, tough. Always. But you also have to come to terms with the fact that opposition will come as a natural result of you preaching Jesus – specially to a Muslim. The Gospel offends Muslims. The Gospel is offensive by its own nature.

In a more practical way, what does it look like to love Muslims? I seriously believe that you do need to understand what they believe, and why they believe it.  You need to be willing to approach them in the first place. No fear of Muslims whatsoever. I highly doubt each one of them is carrying a bomb under their shirts, you know? And get to interact with them based on where they are coming from. Ask questions. Not every Muslim is the same – at all.

I was buying some things the other day, and a sweet young girl was helping me. She looked Middle-Eastern, you know. This is not racist, okay? People begin speaking Spanish to me when they see me at the stores. I look Hispanic. I am Hispanic – so what? So she was wearing a necklace with some words on it, and I asked her about it. She said it was in another language.

Then I asked directly, “Are you Muslim?”. And she looked so relieved, like a weight lifted up, and she began telling me how she had no idea what the prayer said. Her mom makes her wear it for protection. I told her it might well be a short Surah (Chapter), and she looked at me like I was this crazy person. She said she had no idea about the Arabic language, or about what the book said.  And then,  she also told me how she doesn’t like covering her head. She is an American girl. Born and raised in America by Pakistani parents.

She was beautiful. She could have been my younger sister. She just wants to work and go to college perhaps… what do I know? I am telling you, if you are a follower of Christ, you have nothing to fear. Reach out to them.

And be prepared. People are often afraid of what they do not know. You do have to know about Islam, I believe. Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove. At the same time, recognize that Muslims are like sheep without a shepherd. Be compassionate. And learn to defend your faith historically.

Here is where Apologetics plays a role. Of course, you can always love them and serve them. It is not your job to convince them of anything – that’s the Spirit of God’s job. But if they are zealous, they are gonna try to convert you before you try to convert them.

The world of Muslim-Christian apologetics is amazing. I love it. I wish I had more people around me to talk about it. My husband is sick of it – pretty much. I love building a case for the historical Jesus, and his death and Resurrection, and studying the claims about Islam. It is fascinating – to me anyways – the fact that Textual Criticism is a science that assures us of the reliability of Scriptures. The arguments can go back and forth forever, but at the end, it all points to making a personal decision based on the evidence you have.

Muslims, tough, for the most part, are lovely people. No kidding. I feel more comfortable now approaching a Muslim at the store, and having a conversation with them, than I am with an agnostic or even and atheist. Muslims have offered to cook for me, and they are nice to my children. And you know what? I miss my friend, but her words resonate constantly in my mind…

If only these people knew who I am, they wold probably not want to be my friends, because I am going to let them down. 

And I have to make a choice. Every day. I have to decide whom to listen to. Am I gonna listen to my friend, or am I gonna listen to the Ex-Muslims who tell me I should stop calling her my friend? They told me she was never my friend. She spotted me as a weak Christian and saw an opportunity to convert me. There are many blessings from Allah when you convert people, you know… or so they say.

But I choose not to listen to anybody but to Jesus. And He loves her. He died for her. He died for me, and for all the Muslims that I see around in my neighborhood. So I choose to have the mind of Christ, and I approach them anyway. Of course, I learned my lesson. I will keep it at chicken tandori, and masala chai for as long as I can 🙂

Also, there are great rewards to all these experiences. My children see me loving people. My four year-old is so funny. She asked me the other day at church if the pastor was an ex-Muslim (he had a long beard). And she has more theology in her little mind that what I had at age 30. She praises Jesus and calls Him YHWH, and on a regular basis, tells me I should stop praying for my Muslim friend.


Mommy, you hurt her. She hurt you. She will always be a Muslim. She cannot be a follower of Jesus because Momamad [Muhammad] told her. I just want to play with Muslims.


And I knew she was referring to my friend’s son. They were best friends at school. And my heart sank. But you know what? I actually ended up talking to my daughter about how God loves answering even the most impossible prayers. So, who knows? Maybe one day, she will leave Islam, Insha’Allah.

These interactions help me to teach my children about apologetics, ground them in the Christian faith, and my Savior Jesus. I am showing them what it looks like to follow Him will they choose to trust Him as their own Lord and Savior one day. These experiences are preparing them to go into the world ready to love people as Jesus loves people.

If you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Seriously, the worst thing ISIS can do to you or to me is to kill your physical body, but your soul is secure. And I know not everybody feels as I do, but I only want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be with Muslims, you know?

Just love people, and thank God for His gift of Salvation in Christ. Specially during this season.

Merry CHRISTmas! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

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?