Saturday, May 15, 2010

Missional Muslims I

I've started a dialogue with a young, dedicated Muslim student at the U of O. He is introducing me to the world of Missional Islam. Here is a sampling of the videos he sends out to friends around him, in his excitement to share his faith:
American architect accepts ISLAM, non-Muslims MUST SEE!!!

Here is my response to him.
Hi S.--

God IS one! All Christians agree with their Muslim brothers and sisters that there is only ONE God. We do NOT believe in three Gods, contrary to what Muslims may think we believe. After all, it would be a contradiction to say that God is one God and three Gods! We believe, like them, that God is powerful and high above humans—in fact, God SO high and powerful that His Divine Being is not contained within just one person, but rather he is Three Persons in One Being, which are called “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, but the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. Here is a crude analogy: the yolk is egg, the white is egg, the shell is egg; but the yolk is not the white, the white is not the shell, and the shell is not the yolk. Yet it would not be an egg without all three: yolk, white and shell.

So the big difference between Islam and Christianity is that in Christianity, the notion of participation is an essential quality of God. This is why relationship is so important to Christians, because God Himself is Three in One.

Further, Christians do not believe that the Three in One is the Father, Mary and Jesus; nor do we believe that Jesus was born by sexual intercourse. Saying those things is as offensive to Christians when Muslims are offended by the following lies: “Islam teaches that Mohammed is God,” or “Muslims worship Mohammed.” Here is what Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb have to say regarding this "gross distortion of biblical teaching:"

The Bible refers to Christ as the "only begotten" Son of God (John 1:18; cf. 3:16). However, Muslim scholars often misconstrue this in a fleshly, carnal sense of someone literally begetting children. For them, to beget implies a physical act. This they believe is absurd, since God is a Spirit with no body. As the noted Muslim apologist Deedat contends, "He [God] does not beget because begetting is an animal act. It belongs to the lower animal act of sex. We do not attribute such an act to God." For the Islamic mind begetting is creating and "God cannot create another God. … He cannot create another uncreated." The foregoing statements reveal the degree to which the biblical concept of Christ’s sonship is misunderstood by Muslim scholars. For no orthodox Christian scholar believes that "begat" is to be equated with "made" or "create." No wonder Dawud concludes that from a "Muslim point of belief the Christian dogma concerning the eternal birth or generation of the Son is blasphemy."

However, this extreme reaction to Christ’s eternal Sonship is both unnecessary and unfounded. The phrase "only begotten" does not refer to physical generation but to a special relationship with the Father. Like the biblical phrase "Firstborn" (Col. 1:15), it means priority in rank, not in time (cf. vs. 16-17). It could be translated, as the New International Version does, God’s "One and Only" Son. It does not imply creation by the Father but unique relation to him. Just as an earthly father and son have a special filial relationship, even so the eternal Father and his eternal Son are uniquely related. It does not refer to any physical generation but to an eternal procession from the Father. Just as for Muslims the Word of God (Qur’an) is not identical to God but eternally proceeds from him, even so for Christians, Christ, as God’s "Word" (4:171) eternally proceeds from him. Words like "generation" and "procession" are used by Christians of Christ in a filial and relational sense, not in a carnal and physical sense.

Misunderstanding of Christ’s sonship reaches an apex when some Muslim scholars confuse it with the virgin Birth. Nazir-Ali notes that "in the Muslim mind the generation of the Son often means his birth of the Virgin Mary." … With such a carnal misrepresentation of a spiritual reality, little wonder Muslims reject the Christian concept of eternal Father and Son.

(Geisler & Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI; updated and revised, second edition 2002], pp. 263-264)

For more on why the Quran’s reasoning regarding God needing a wife in order to have a son is simply fallacious, please read this.

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