FAITH AND DOUBT – PART 1

A mom has a son who is asking if Christianity is true. This is a real mom I interact with, by the way. How can he trust the Bible? How do we know it is true? What if our faith is in vain? What if somebody made it all up?

All these questions are flooding her son’s mind because he has lots of friends challenging him at school. I do not have anything AGAINST these teenagers. I think it’s awesome they ask though questions. I recently discovered that when you look for answers, you find them. I am honestly all pumped when I write and when I read books, because I know that my children will ask me those questions. I want to be ready to give them answers for the reason why I believe what I believe.


“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

1 Peter 3:15


I have failed at being gentle and respectful. I know I have. I have asked God to forgive me, and also the people I wronged. That being said, disagreeing with people over faith issues is inevitable. I want to challenge my children to look for TRUTH. I myself don’t want to be lukewarm saying, “Well… this is my truth, then you have your truth, and all of us are right – somehow”

I don’t believe in Relativism.


Truth is true – even if no one knows it
Truth is true – even if no one admits it
Truth is true – even if no one agrees what it is
Truth is true – even if no one follows it
Truth is true – even if no one but God grasps it fully


I want to encourage my children to ask God to guide them when looking for Truth, because when your heart is set on finding Him, then He will show you who He is – guaranteed.

So I am writing this post for this teenager struggling, for myself, for my children, and for all the people who struggle or have struggled, or who will struggle with the concept of Christian Faith. All the credit goes to Rich Nathan, and Abdu Murray. I am just here to share what I have learned from them, and interpolate my own experiences.

I hope somebody finds this useful in their own spiritual journey. I encourage you to listen to the resources I provide at the end of this post.

WHAT IS FAITH?

You might be interested to know that there a lot of writers and thinkers who call themselves the “New Atheists”. One of the core New Atheist assertion that is repeated endlessly is Richard Dawkins’ statement that Faith is blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.

For Dawkins, Faith is a kind of mental illness. Dawkins and others rail against Faith because whereas the New Atheists prove their convictions with reason, religious people live in a fantasy world totally disconnected from reality. As Richard Dawkins puts it, Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.

And so the New Atheists love to talk about blind faith or something taken on faith or a leap of faith. What they mean is that people who have Faith are acting and believing without sufficient justification. People’s beliefs that are not supported by facts or logic. People embracing ideas despite an absence of evidence or proof.

I was definitely in this category.

For the most part of my experience as a Christian, I relied on reading my Bible and I never questioned its authenticity. So it wasn’t until my friends challenged me on the reliability of the Bible that I actually began asking the same kind of questions my friend’s teenager is asking.


What if the Bible is actually corrupted? What if I have blind faith? What if Jesus never died? Is that possible at all? Was I misguided into Christianity? What if I chose Christianity because I was never exposed to other religions? What is Faith?


So when I began having all these reasonable questions – that undoubtedly come when your faith is challenged – I felt awful. I felt guilty, and I felt like I was not supposed to doubt. I had no idea what to do. I wish I had had the “guts” to say, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it for me”.

But I couldn’t do that. I had to know more.  In the next post I will address what Biblical Faith really is 🙂

Sources:

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?

The Leftovers – Part 3


Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn, He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified.

Mark 6:47-49


Basically the disciples are freaking out in the storm. I don’t know how to put it any other way – they were freaking out. The storm was more than they could handle. Sometimes I have the same feeling, but to tell you the truth, I am not afraid anymore.

I was looking for some information on hell – why not – and I stumbled upon the concept of the afterlife from the Jewish perspective. I am still planning on writing about that, but something struck me. For Jewish people, this life is more important than the next. Heaven and Hell are not mentioned specifically in the Five Books of Moses (The Torah), but only in the books of the Prophets, the Writings, and the Talmud.

Why is the afterlife absent form the Torah if it is such a crucial part of Jewish philosophy? Heaven is not discussed in the Torah to emphasize that Jews do what’s right because it’s right. As simple as that.

We are not meant to dwell on the reward and punishment that awaits us in the next world. I can be a “righteous” person my whole life, do every single commandment, stop hunger, bring about world peace, save the ozone and cure all diseases. I can go to church every single Sunday, pray in the name of Jesus, and give my money to the poor – but if I did it all for a reward in the next world – I have lived a selfish life.

A story is told of a Jew who gave away his portion in the World to Come in order to rescue a kidnapped family being held for ransom. When asked why he was not sad over losing his place in Heaven, he responded, “I was always concerned that I was serving God for the wrong reasons. Now that I don’t have a portion in the World to Come I can serve Him reassured that I am doing it purely out of love and devotion.”

This is true service of God. God will judge our actions as well as our motives.

Even from the Muslim perspective, I found a poem from a Sufi poet. My Christian friends: You should know Sufi Muslims are the Charismatic Muslims. They are the Mystical Muslims. I met a Sufi Muslim in Delhi, and we had a wonderful conversation, I will write about that too – as God allows me. Sufis do not constitute a separate sect of Islam (as do, for example, the Shi’ites), but can be found within both the Sunni and Shi’a sects. All Sufis stress the supreme importance of religious experience, and distinguish themselves among other Muslims by their insistence that experience of God can be achieved in this life.


O my Lord, if I worship you

by Sufi Rabi’a Al-‘Adawiyya

O my Lord,

if I worship You
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.

If I worship You
from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship You
for Yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.


I think that the more I see the world, the more I want to follow Jesus. And don’t misunderstand what I mean by that. Does that mean I believe Jesus is God? Or that He died for my sins? Or that He was crucified? I don’t have the answer to those questions as of now. But I will continue to hold on to His teachings. It’s like a marriage, you know. If Jesus is indeed who the Bible portrays Him to be, I have been betrothed. I am a Bride waiting for my Bridegroom. Would I dump my husband because He is not coming back just yet? Would you dump your wife just because someone told you they saw her with another man? Would I get a formal divorce because I heard rumors of my Bridegroom not being the person I have thought Him to be after all these years? No. Of course not.

When you have marriage problems, you deal with your own problems as a couple. You fight, and wrestle with each other, until things become clearer. You stay there if you really love each other because marriage is sacred in the eyes of God. You try, and keep on trying, because when you married your spouse you made a promise to God. That is what marriage is for me – commitment. For better or for worse.

If Jesus is the Savior- if He is the Savior of the world- then nobody can snatch me out of His hand. Nothing spiritually evil can touch me. My body, you can kill it if you give me a poisoned red velvet cupcake – but not my soul. Nothing will be able to separate from the love of God. Not death, not life, not angels, not demons, not things present, not things to come, not any powers, not height, not depth, not any other created thing (call it human beings, jinns or Shaytan himself), will be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Jesus the Messiah.

Isn’t that awesome? That if Jesus is the real deal, then the love of God for somebody can be so wide and long and high and deep that God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. And that this love surpasses human wisdom, knowledge or human understanding – because it doesn’t make sense that God could love this much! And that by knowing this love, you might actually be filled with the fullness of God.

If someone misguided me to worship Jesus – the church or a pastor – then I will deal with that. Not alone, but with YAHWEH who knows it all. I hope my blog helps other people to see this fearless faith – even if you don’t agree with it.

The Christian faith is NOT just a blind leap in the dark, you know, like you are gonna run to the end of the cliff hoping there’s something there to catch you. No. The Christian faith is also rational. 


Faith is trusting what we have good reason to believe is true. It provides us EVIDENCE that appeals to our minds. The Christian faith is not an ALL or NOTHING proposition. You don’t have to be TOTALLY CERTAIN or else, you have NO FAITH AT ALL. That is not the faith that Jesus talked about…

– Rich Nathan


This has been my struggle. But what if Jesus saw His disciples in the storm and thought, “I wish you would just look down in the boat, ’cause you’ve got your sack full of broken pieces…”

They had the evidence for the miracle of feeding fifteen thousand people. They had just witnessed it, but they were focusing on the storm. In the middle of my own storm, I should not focus on my circumstances. I will focus on the things that Jesus has done for me before. I will take my basket full of broken pieces into the storm of tomorrow. The same God who was with me back in the storms of yesterday is the same God who is with me in the storms of today. The same God who brought me to where I am now is the same God who will get me through this.

Jesus climbed into the boat with them, and told them DO NOT BE AFRAID.

There have been times when I have asked God who He really is with only a Bible in my hand. I have also done that with only a Quran in my hand. Was He Allah as revealed in the Bible? Without corruption theories… Or was He Allah as written in the Quran? With Quran as the final revelation?

My Muslimah has been so faithful praying for me through all this. She prayed something called Istikhara in my behalf. In love, she asked Allah to guide me. After finding out what Allah had revealed to her, I asked God to reveal to ME who He really was – Bible and Quran side by side. I am thinking that If Allah gave HER an answer in my behalf, then Allah would have to give ME the same answer. Otherwise, we were not talking to the same Divine Being.

Call me crazy, but on my own prayer time, Allah guided me to the same account in both Quran and the Bible. The account of Judah as he offers himself to protect Benjamin during the famine in Egypt. The accounts are SO different in both books and Judah WAS NOT a mere coincidence for me. God did not lie with His revelation to my friend. He was so truthful with His guidance to me as well. In His loving character, and being faithful to Himself, Allah showed me the two paths.

And I chose the LION OF JUDAH.

The leftovers – Introduction

I think I have been investing so much of my time learning about Islam, that I have tossed Jesus out of the window. The Jesus I know. The One who offered me hope eight years ago. I miss Him. Sometimes I cry mourning for Him, like when someone you deeply love has passed away. Other times, though, I feel so strongly about my relationship with Him, that somehow I think that documenting my faith journey doesn’t really matter in the scope of time.

I have a very clumsy brain. For the most part, I have tried to change that part of me, as it gets me in a lot of trouble with my husband. I haven’t succeeded so far, at least not to his satisfaction. He is a very organized, almost OCD-like person. Sometimes I think he doesn’t share things with me, but he does. It is me who usually forgets about what he said. I guess that’s what got me into writing. So I need to write down some events that have happened in the last two weeks. I do not want to forget.

To start with, I want to talk about how Jesus fed the five thousand in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 6:30-52. Before that, though, I need to make sure all of us – Christians and Muslims reading – are on the same page. In case you didn’t know, Muslims do agree with some teachings of Jesus as long as they don’t contradict the Quran. At least the Muslims I’ve watched on YouTube.

There is a lot of chit chat on the subject of how the gospels have evolved from Mark to John. According to Muslim apologist Shabir Ally, the Bible has changed over time. Here are a few examples:

  • In Mark 9:5, Peter addresses Jesus as Rabbi, but in Matthew 17:4, he addresses Him as Lord.
  • In Mark 13:35, Jesus describes the owner of a house, but in Matthew 24:42, the Lord will come.
  • In Mark, you have Jesus praying in the Garden so that God would take away the cup that awaited Him, but in John Jesus is even willing to die.

I love Shabir, by the way. It would be awesome to meet him one day. I guess you get to really like people by spending countless hours watching their YouTube videos. I have some sweet Muslim connections in Canada, but they are not in Toronto where Shabir is. Anyways, if you know Shabir, I would love if you could arrange a meeting. I am not kidding.

So the Gospel of Mark is the first one that was written (between A.D. 55-65) and the Gospel of John is the last one (between A.D. 85-90). One day I will talk about why the gospels are so different. People, however, need to know that Christians have never claimed the Gospels are THE WORDS of God. The Gospels were written by men, and were inspired by God. But I just need to say three things:

1. It is very double-minded of Muslims to refer to the Gospel of John as the most corrupted and the most unreliable one since John has made Jesus into God. Yet at the same time, it is EXACTLY the Gospel of John the one that Muslims LOVE to quote to find a prophecy for Prophet Muhammad from the own lips Jesus. The Counselor, the Helper, the Advocate who Jesus promised to send in John 14:26 is NOT the Holy Spirit. According to Muslims, it is Prophet Muhammad. If you are a Christian, your jaw must have dropped. Mine dropped for sure when I first heard of this.

I’ve got to ask… if Christians corrupted the Gospels so successfully (changing thousands of manuscripts in many different languages), isn’t it really dumb of them to leave Prophet Mohammad right there in the open in ALL the manuscripts? If they really wanted to corrupt the whole thing, you make sure to erase ANY prophecy of ANY other person after Jesus. That is the only way of making Christianity a sure hit. Muslims, though, seem to accuse God of not being able to protect His words as He said He would (Quran 18:27). Many Muslims will say that this verse refers to the Quran. I agree. But Quran 6:115 also says NONE can alter Allah’s WORDS. Sometimes the Quran refers as the Torah and the Gospel as Allah’s Words. So, did Allah or didn’t Allah protect His Words?

And If you are going to tell me that the original Gospel, the Injil, that Allah gave Jesus got lost or somehow Christians corrupted it, and that it was that Injil the one that the Quran talks about, then I still have the same question. Why couldn’t Allah protect it? Sure, I do not know what I am talking about because I do not understand Arabic. I am getting tired of listening to that. I want to get closer to God, but I refuse to embrace the idea that God would only be known in Arabic. People worldwide are hungry for God. If Islam is the religion for all mankind, I should be able to understand it in plain English, right? Or Spanish. I am also fluent in Spanish. I also read French. Still, it breaks my heart to ponder over the idea of Allah not loving me in French.


Dis: “Si vous aimez vraiment Allah, suivez-moi, Allah vous aimera alors et vous pardonnera vos péchés. Allah est Pardonneur et Miséricordieux. Dis: «Obéissez à Allah et au Messager. Et si vous tournez le dos… alors Allah n’aime pas les infidèles!

– Le Saint Quran 3:31-32


2. I could never live in limbo like some Muslims live. If I go for Islam, I will go full throttle. I will not put my foot in some parts of the gospels as revelations that Allah was able to protect. I just couldn’t live with the doubt, you know. Because if some parts are corrupted, who is to assure me which parts are not? If they are corrupted, then tell me who corrupted them, and when. My conscience would not let me live in peace having the best of both faiths as far as Jesus is concerned. Even my Muslim and I have had conversations about what Prophet Muhammad said, and most of the time I end up telling him, “Yep, that’s in the Bible” or “Yep, Jesus said that”. But how do I know those teachings have not been corrupted?

Oh! They are not corrupted, because they confirm the Quran!

Of course they do. And that is a very convenient, but not a very consistent way on how Muslims or any person regarding of his religious background should approach the Gospels. I have a brain, a very clumsy brain, but I dare not misuse my intelligence. My Muslimah told me once that Islam was a religion that made sense. Even the Quran promotes logical thinking and reasoning. Some websites even call Islam a religion for grownups. But it is impossible to have such a conspiracy to change or alter the Word of God in all of these Bible manuscripts without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or even attainable. It doesn’t make any sense.  And so my brain and my soul will have to forfeit the Jesus of the Bible, ALL of Him, if I embrace Islam. I just couldn’t live with myself to have it otherwise.

3. Muslims don’t like John, and they pick and choose from Luke and Matthew. Oh, well… I guess Mark will do for now. I will talk about my life and the feeding of the five thousand in the next post 🙂

TO BE CONTINUED…

Not fair...

Not fair – Part 3

While on vacation, several things happened regarding my faith journey. I was asked by a waiter if I was a Muslim. I couldn’t but laugh nervously. Apparently he saw my daughter eating enormous amounts of bacon with her pancakes.


No, I am not a Muslim. Why do you ask me that, Abdullah? [Points at the bacon] Oh, the bacon, of course. Nope. I am not a Muslim, but I know about the bacon. I’m reading your Quran. My best friends in Chennai are Muslims, and I always tell them how a terrible Muslim I would make because I like beer. Are you married, Abdullah?  


Abdullah is married, but he sees his daughter -who is 18 months old- only a few days every six months. He also told me that a lot of Muslims eat bacon because they don’t even know they are not supposed to eat it. This is in a country where alcohol and pork are banned from consumption (except at the resorts), and importing anti-Islamic materials (including idols for worship and Bibles) is an offence. Abdullah was nothing but nice to me. I did not take any offense in him asking me whether I was a Muslim or not. My husband, of course, thought that was none of his business.

But I actually thought it was really sweet that Abdullah would care for my daughter and for me not sinning in case we were Muslims. My daughter has a free pass on sins until she reaches puberty, but not me. He was not telling me it is wrong to eat pork. He was not holding me accountable to his beliefs. He was holding me accountable to my sin only if I was a Muslim. That is why he asked first. And I think that was a beautiful Muslim parallel example of the accountability I explained in my last post Christians – Part 2.

Another thing that happened is that I was asked by a young woman [Sherry] which religion I followed. She explained she was Catholic, but she did not understand why the priests were so controlling to the people in her native country, and why her Muslims friends at the resort were telling her that Jesus was not God. I seriously felt like hugging her and asking her, “Have they told you yet that the Bible is corrupted?” 

She asked me if I could explain the Trinity for her. I gave it a shot, and I explained it to her – as much as I grasp it. The Trinity belongs to another post, tough. I just want to make clear that The Trinity mentioned in the Quran is indeed a blatant blasphemy for me as a Christian.


They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God.

-Quran 5:73

And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it.

– Quran 5:116


After reading these two verses together the question begs to be asked… Is it reasonable for me to think that Prophet Muhammad thought that the Trinity of Christianity consisted of Jesus, Mary and Allah? I say maybe. Many Muslims on the web wrongly assert this is what Christians believe. My own Muslim confronted me one morning on why I prayed TO Mary. Who told him that? Other Christians? I don’t think so. I will have to ask him, but he definitely read it in the Quran. Maybe Prophet Muhammad was referring to a smaller group of Christians who seemed to have a heretical emphasis on praying TO Mary.

But it is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church that Catholics do not pray TO saints or Mary, but rather that Catholics can ask saints or Mary to pray FOR them. Whether this practice is biblical or not, my Catholic Brothers and Sisters in Christ worship GOD ALONE. We may have differences in understanding, but Catholics will never tell you Mary is part of the Trinity. I was raised Catholic, FYI.

Anyway… Sherry was very sweet. There are people hungry for God. There are people who have questions about God. I knew there were people actively looking for God, and maybe this was God’s way to show me. This morning, on the other hand, my children and I were surrounded by five Muslim women all wearing black from top to bottom – abaya, hijab and all. They were all smiling and shaking my hand as my landlord introduced them as his wife and his four daughters. What is God trying to tell me? My Muslimah thinks Allah is trying to open my eyes to the truth of Islam. Sure. Why not?

BUT IT IS NOT FAIR.

It is not fair that I have to become a Muslim for God to love me. Being a Muslim is not as easy as believing in One and Only One God and submitting to Him. One cannot be a Muslim until one recites the Shahada, the First Pillar of Islam, with sincerity and conviction: I bear witness that there is no God worthy to be worshiped but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the  Messenger of Allah.


Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Obey Allah and His messenger [Muhammad], but if they turn back, Allah does not love the unbelievers.

– Quran 3:31-32

Whoever disbelieves, he shall be responsible for his disbelief, and whoever does good, they prepare (good) for their own souls, that He may reward those who believe and do good out of His grace; surely He [Allah] does not love the unbelievers.

God’s love for me is contingent on whether or not I believe in Muhammad. As of right now, I am an unbeliever. I cannot recite the Shahada from the heart. And if I do not believe in God AND Muhammad:

  • As I enter hell and my skin is burned, it will be exchanged for other skin so that I taste the punishment (Quran 4:56).
  • The angels will smite my face and my back so that I taste the punishment of burning (Quran 8:50).
  • I am also the vilest of animals (Quran 8:55).
  • I have burning fire awaiting for me (Quran 48:13).
  • I will also have an entertainment of boiling water (Quran 56:91-93).
  • I will also burn in hell (Quran 56:94), but that I already knew.

There are more verses, but those are enough for me. After doing all this reading, not a single Muslim can sincerely tell me that Christianity is too narrow. No way. Islam is as narrow. I don’t have a problem with the doors being narrow, you see, because I do want to choose a door. My doors are either the Jesus of the Bible OR Muhammad [and the Jesus in the Quran]. I cannot have both. Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive.

But I have experienced that God is loving. I know God is just. And I know God is fair. Our human understanding of His justice is what makes us question His love and His fairness. But God’s ways are not our ways, neither His thoughts are our thoughts. His ways and His thoughts are higher [Isaiah 55:8-9].

As I read my Quran, I constantly ask God with an open heart, IS THIS TRUE?