Post Tagged as ‘apologetics’

Blood Sacrifice: Primitive and Offensive, Now and Then

  • By Andrew Lindsey
  • Comments Off on Blood Sacrifice: Primitive and Offensive, Now and Then
  • July 25, 2013

My problem is this: the language of blood sacrifice was appropriate to people used to the sacrifices that were part of ancient temple worship, but is totally alien to our world… Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrificed his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood […]

Read More

The Bodily Resurrection

In a comment on a previous blog entry in this series, a reader of this blog wrote concerning John Dominic Crossan’s denial of the resurrection: “Perhaps Mr. [Crossan] has never read I Cor. 15:12-19. If there is no resurection, Christians are the stupid…

Read More

Gospel Parallels and Qur’anic Parallels

Muslim apologists will often make much of differences in the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in order to argue that the New Testament writings have been corrupted. So, for example, a Muslim apologist may ask, ‘How many people supposedly…

Read More

But didn’t Paul call himself "father"?

8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 T…

Read More

Presenting the Gospel to Muslims: Key Biblical Concepts

In engaging Muslims with the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners, it is helpful to have some background information about the Islamic faith, but it is crucial to understand sound biblical doctrine. Specific Bible teachings that the Christian must understand and be able to present to his or her Muslim friends are: the Trinity, the Person of Christ, the Cross, the Trustworthiness of Scripture, and the Imputed Righteousness of Christ. The Trinity Muslims may misunderstand the Christian affirmation of the Trinity, thinking that Christians affirm three gods. Christians must be very […]

Read More

Presenting the Gospel to Muslims: Key Biblical Concepts

In engaging Muslims with the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners, it is helpful to have some background information about the Islamic faith, but it is crucial to understand sound biblical doctrine. Specific Bible teachings that the Christian must understand and be able to present to his or her Muslim friends are: the Trinity, the Person of Christ, the Cross, the Trustworthiness of Scripture, and the Imputed Righteousness of Christ.

The Trinity

Muslims may misunderstand the Christian affirmation of the Trinity, thinking that Christians affirm three gods. Christians must be very clear that there is only one God (Deut 6:4). But we also must proclaim the truth that within the one being that is God, there exists eternally three co-equal and co-eternal Persons: namely, the Father (Matt 6:9), the Word or Son (John 1:1-2; 17:5; Col 2:9), and the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; Acts 8:29; 13:2), each with distinct personal attributes (Isa 48:16; Matt 3:16-17; Rom 8:26-27; Heb 9:13-14), but without division of nature, essence or being (John 10:30; 14:9; Acts 5:39). We must readily admit: exactly how the trinity works may be beyond our comprehension, and we must admit that a denial of the trinity may be simpler. But we must challenge our Muslim friends with the question: why should God be so simple that we can completely understand Him?

The Person of Christ

Muslims agree with Christians that Jesus is sinless and that He was sent from God. But Christians must boldly proclaim the truth that Muslims deny: that Jesus Himself claimed to be God (John 10:30). Furthermore, Jesus’ earliest followers claimed that He is God (John 1:1) who took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) for the purpose of our salvation.

The Cross

The earliest Christians were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ death (and resurrection), as seen in John 19:32-35, Luke 1:1-4, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-7. Even enemies of Christianity testify to the death of Christ. The earliest Jewish opponents of Christianity did not claim that Jesus had not been crucified (and they admitted that His tomb was empty): Matthew 28:11-15; Josephus, Antiquities, AD 63-64. The earliest Roman opponents of Christianity did not claim that Jesus had not been crucified: Tacitus, AD 115. Modern non-Christian historians do not claim that Jesus was not crucified; Bart Ehrman, who is openly hostile to Christianity, yet stated: “One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on the orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate.” Furthermore, the Qur’an itself speaks of the death of Christ in Surah 19:33, though it seems to specifically deny the crucifixion in Surah 4:156-158. Though Muslims deny the crucifixion based on Surah 4:156-158, they do so in contradiction to the eyewitness testimony of the earliest Christians, the testimony of the earliest opponents of Christianity, all sound non-Muslim historical scholarship, and even claims of the Qur’an itself, such as that seen in Surah 19:33.

The Trustworthiness of Scripture

Though Muslim apologists today commonly question the trustworthiness of Christian Scripture, the Qur’an itself, in Surah 10:94, commands Muhammad to “ask those who have been reading Scripture before you” in order that he might relieve his doubts. In context, this Surah is referring to the “Scripture”- the Christian and Jewish Scripture- that came before the giving of the Qur’an. The words of the Qur’an assume, rather than deny, the trustworthiness of Christian Scripture. Christian Scripture is built on eyewitness testimony (see the above in the section on “The Cross”). Christian Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Imputed Righteousness of Christ

Surah 53:38 asserts: “That no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.” This assertion is contradicted by Isaiah 53:4-6, in which the Messiah is proclaimed to be One who bears our griefs, sorrows, afflictions, iniquities, and punishment, being “pierced for our transgressions,” bringing healing to us all. Islam presents an irresolvable problem concerning the justice of God, for how can a holy and righteous God justify the ungodly? This problem is the reason that many Muslims believe that all people spend at least a little time in Hell having their sins burned away before they can enter Heaven. According to the good news of Jesus, this problem is addressed in Romans 3:21-26. God never neglects perfect justice: every sin is paid for, either by the sinner in Hell or by Jesus, in the place of the sinner, upon the Cross. Salvation from sin, death, and Hell is by grace alone through the imputed righteousness of Christ: the one who trusts in Christ is counted righteousness in Christ. Just as Jesus took our sins on Himself while dying on the Cross, the believing sinner takes on the righteousness of the resurrected Christ. This good news of salvation- accomplished by God in Christ on the Cross- glorifies God alone as the only Savior (something that should resonate with our Muslim friends, who say that they are jealous to glorify God alone). The good news of Jesus Christ is summarized in 2 Corinthians 5:21: God made the one who did not know sin [that is, Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God. (NET)

Read More

Islam: The Five Pillars

Islamic piety is commonly understood in terms of five practices, which are referred to as “pillars” of the Muslim religion. The “pillars” are: 1. Confession; 2. Prayers; 3. Fasting; 4. Alms; 5. Pilgrimage. Confession (shahada): The basic Islamic confession of faith may be translated: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Apostle of God.” By saying this confession in Arabic, with faith, a person becomes a Muslim. Many Muslims believe that saying the shahada with faith- along with an atom’s worth of good works- is a sufficient basis for a person to (eventually) gain entrance to Heaven, […]

Read More

Islam: The Five Pillars

Islamic piety is commonly understood in terms of five practices, which are referred to as “pillars” of the Muslim religion. The “pillars” are: 1. Confession; 2. Prayers; 3. Fasting; 4. Alms; 5. Pilgrimage.

Confession (shahada):

The basic Islamic confession of faith may be translated: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Apostle of God.” By saying this confession in Arabic, with faith, a person becomes a Muslim. Many Muslims believe that saying the shahada with faith- along with an atom’s worth of good works- is a sufficient basis for a person to (eventually) gain entrance to Heaven, if Allah so chooses.

Prayers (salat):

Faithful Muslims say prayers at five set times per day while facing Mecca. These prayers are accompanied by wudu: ceremonial washing. Though many Christians- somewhat understandably- envy Muslims for being so faithful in prayer, we must note that for many Muslims these “prayers” consist of simply reciting memorized passages of the Qur’an; in other words, salat tends to be more about external ritual than attempted communion with God.

 Fasting (during the month of Ramadan):

Faithful Muslims fast during the lunar month of Ramadan: abstaining from food, water, and other luxuries from sunup to sundown during this month. Those who have medical conditions that prevent fasting are supposed to be exempt from this practice. Because Muslims are able to eat during the nighttime hours during Ramadan, I have heard a few Christians criticize this practice, saying that it is not true fasting, but how many of us fail to regularly abstain from even one meal for the purpose of spiritual focus?

Alms (zakat):

Faithful Muslims give 2.5% of their net income per lunar year to charitable causes. Those collecting and distributing the zakat also receive some of this money. From the Christian perspective this amount seems rather low, as we are used to the tithe: 10% of income- usually understood as gross income- given to the church, with additional charity given to the needy, when possible.

Pilgrimage (hajj to Mecca):

Every Muslim who is physically and financially able to do so is expected to perform a pilgrimage to Mecca in Arabia at least once in his or her lifetime. Many Muslims who undertake the hajj receive respect in their own communities, and Muslims who take the pilgrimage regularly report being impressed with the grandeur and seeming universality of Islam. However, I have heard from some Christian missionaries that there are other Muslims who take the trip to Mecca and who return to their homes with a sense of disappointment: because the hajj had been built up in their minds to be a kind of ultimate spiritual experience, they may feel a bit let down after it is completed. This may be an opportunity for gospel proclamation.

Read More

A Selection from Dr. James R. White’s What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an

[The entire following post is an excerpt from a crucial portion of Dr. James R. White’s book What Every Christian Need to Know About the Qur’an (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2013), 185-186.] Every Christian should read and understand [Surah 5:47] “Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah had revealed therein. Whoever judges not by that which Allah has revealed; such are the corrupt.” Here the Ahl al-Injil [“People of the Gospel”] are addressed directly, given a command right in the text: “judge by that which Allah had revealed therein.” Therein, in the Arabic, refers to […]

Read More