I have been ministering out on the streets and I am starting to see some patterns. Let me talk about religious people in general before I move on to Muslims. Most other religions in America are trying to incorporate Christianity into their religion in some way. As if Christianity is somehow encapsulated in their worldview.
I guess it’s not a bad marketing strategy since America is ingrained in Christian culture. So you have to evangelize people in America from a Christian perspective. Here are the statements people of other beliefs have used on me so far: “It will help you as a Christian”, “We believe in the bible” and “We have many Christian members”. Let’s turn towards Muslims now. When I approach Muslims I ask the following question, What is the difference between Christianity and Islam? Here is the basic response, “We believe that the Bible and Quran were written by the prophets but we take Quran as the final authority if there is a conflict”. On the surface, this may fly as a congruent statement but anything deeper than skin deep is vastly different. In this quick article, I want to share my initial experience with Muslims and not get into deep theological differences.
The first group of Muslims I ran into were hanging out at Ybor city in Tampa. I was ministering with my brother Paul on a Friday night to all the clubbers, drunks and other lost people. So we approached a group of Arab college students, knowing they were Arabs we assumed they were Muslims. I asked a few of them where they were from and if they were Muslims. From there I started to ask them about how they perceived heaven. They stated that it was a scale of good deeds vs bad deeds. Following that, I talked to them about the Satisfaction Theory of Atonement and how that deals with heaven. In short, here is how it sounded like; Alla would not be satisfied with perpetual human sin and eventually, given enough time, Alla would grow in frustration towards humanity and ultimately would annihilate us. After I finished explaining to them the concept, I saw many confused expressions as if they were not sure how this deals with Islam. It is possible that this subject is a little complex or out of touch when talking to a group of Muslims in public. I was trying to keep our concentration on the subject at hand but this group had too many distractions and their response was that Alla is all merciful and that was satisfying enough. I am not sure if I broke any walls with this approach. Now, my brother tried a different tactic and that was based on the “Penal Theory of Atonement” point of view. Here is what he asked, “If a man murders another man but then saves 7 men later in life, will the man still have to pay for the murder he committed”. That actually put the two Muslim boys he was talking to in a bind. The only response we got was, “it’s complicated”. That seemed to resonate with them, at least with those who did not think about deeper issues in their religion. Eventually, a few of them got tired of the conversation we were trying to have and pushed everyone to go away from us.
Another person that stands out in my mind was Nina, a Muslim mother from my kid’s school. When I started a conversation with her about the differences between Christianity and Islam she quickly made a statement, “I am a hardcore Muslim”. Her final response was that we just have to live a good life to make it to heaven, basically stating that we are saved by works. The subject that changed her mind is the inerrancy of the Quran. Let’s review it quickly, Muhamad spoke the Quran around the 7th century. The canonicity of the Bible was established a few centuries before that. Hence, Mohamad was influenced by Christian thought and culture. Another thing to consider, Mohamad was illiterate therefore he was only to pass on the Quran orally. Only generations later it was written down on paper. As you can imagine, this type of process of canonicity would introduce a lot of error into the Quran. Let’s not even get into the fact that he was a self-proclaimed prophet and supposedly, an archangel Gabriel revealed the Word of God to him. This is another major issue that Islam has to deal with. The fact is that all prophets claim the same thing, yet Mohamed is singled out to be the highest of all. From historicity point of view Quran in no better than any other ancient writing. This can only be explained away by the tyranny that was created by the sword verses. Let’s get back to Quran and Nina, the one point I hit her with is the historicity of Jesus Christ. Quran states that Jesus was never crucified but before the Quran was written the historicity of Jesus was established and the historicity of the empty tomb was undisputed. Any reasonable person would raise a flag. Today, the same story is held by most historians of all religious and nonreligious beliefs. I stated this to Nina and all she could say was “Well, we just have to live a good life to make it to heaven” and she was no more the hardcore Muslim she claimed to be initially. At that point, our kids were getting out of control and we had to go our separate ways. This is the response I get from most of the Muslims I encountered “We just have to be good”. Without going too deep into theology it is obvious that they can’t deal with surface issues. I guess Quran and Bible can only agree on general revelation yet when it comes to the salvation of humankind, Quran is just absent and nowhere to be found. If we are to go deep into the Islam theology then you would see that Alla fails to be just and loving. I’ll let you think about that one on your own.
It seems to me that most Muslims are ignorant about Christian claims and about historical errors and philosophical fallacies in the Quran. The best solution is a good conversation and openness of mind. I got a few contacts to work on and to see if they are willing to receive the truth. Now, there is that cultural wall that one would have to jump over. But as bible states in John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”. Since they are trying to assume that Christian theology is encompassed in Muslim theology somehow then we should simply help them with that by talking about the differences. By doing this I believe many of them will come to know Christ. So hopefully this helps a few of you out there to start talking to Muslims and get them on the right path in life. There are so many of them that are so close to Christianity that they don’t even realize. I will follow up on this subject as I continue to enlighten local Muslims and advance my ministry towards them.