Tag Archives: Islam

Have Muslim Friends?

Samuel Green’s Where to Start With Islam: A New Approach to Engaging with Muslim Friends (Sydney: Matthias Media, 2019) is a great resource for Christians wanting to share the gospel with followers of Islam. He proposes that Christians not only start with a better grasp of their own beliefs, but also with an understanding of common assumptions and misconceptions held by Muslims. The chapter titles give you an idea of the ground covered:

  1. Where do we start?
  2. Learning about Islam
  3. Sharing the gospel with a Muslim
  4. Is Jesus God?
  5. The Trinity
  6. Salvation
  7. The death of Jesus
  8. Who is Muhammad?
  9. Muslims and the Bible
  10. History

The book is supported by online resources at Engaging with Islam. The author has also written a number of articles at Answering Islam.

One of the endorsements is from J. Mack Stiles, a pastor in Iraq:

I have lived in the Middle East for 20 years. I don’t know of anyone who has done better work in understanding and answering the challenges of Islam than Samuel Green. Any Christian who wants to respond to Muslims with love and truth needs this book.

Whether you have Muslim friends with whom you might be able to share the gospel, or if you’re just interested in learning more about Islam, this one will be worth your while.


I Recommend

This past week, I shared the following links on social media and I think they’re worth sharing here too:

I Can’t Read

My cousin Scott is serving as a missionary in Mexico. This is a great little story about the work he and his Annemarie are doing there for the gospel.

The dark, enduring legacy of Friends

Jonathon Van Maren looks at this awful show. I watched a lot of TV back in the day, but I never watched this. Apparently I didn’t miss out.

The Different Arabic Versions of the Qur’an

Has a Muslim ever told you that all the Qur’ans in the world are exactly identical? Not so. Samuel Green explains.

Simple But Useful Tips for Pastors to Make Good First Impressions with Church Guests

Pastors are on the front-line and we don’t get an second opportunity to make a good impression. If you’re a pastor and want to be leading the way in welcoming, read this.

8 Ways to Help a Friend When You Suspect Domestic Abuse

Darby Strickland: “It’s hard to speak into a friend’s life when you’re uncertain about a situation. To complicate matters, domestic abuse often means there’s danger. The situations are challenging. Walking with these tender souls takes patience and gentle persistence.”

Kellogg’s New LGBTQ+”Together” Cereal, Kids, and a Letter on Sexuality. . .

Everybody has to get on the rainbow bandwagon, even breakfast cereals. All to get our kids on the bandwagon.

Social media promises equality and diversity – except for Christians

Our days on social media may be numbered. In the meantime, I’ll make the most of it. You should too.


One of a Kind

I met Jason in my second year of university.  He was in one of my English classes, often arriving early to talk with me about his religious questions.  One day, Jason was waiting with a common objection:  “Hey, aren’t all religions pretty much the same?  You’ve all got a god, you’ve got a holy book, you’ve got priests and stuff.  To me it all looks the same.  It probably wouldn’t make any difference if I was a Sikh or a Christian.  Seems to me you all worship the same god.”  When we encounter such an objection, we might be caught off-guard.  After all, many Christians aren’t that familiar with other religions.  So how do we go about giving an answer to people like Jason?

Christianity is Unique

Knowledge about other religions is often minimal among Christians.  We might know something about Judaism from the Bible, perhaps something about the major cults from our high school Bible classes, and maybe a few things about Islam because of its connection to world events of the last two decades.  But other than that, how much do you really know about Hinduism, Sikhism, or Buddhism?

Furthermore, how do we show that all these religions are false and that only Christianity is the true religion?  You might do that by showing that the major religions contradict one another.  For example, Islam says that Jesus was merely a prophet, whereas Christianity teaches that Jesus was God come in the flesh for the rescue of sinners.  In certain circumstances, that method could have value, but it does require a bit of knowledge of all the individual religions.

There’s a better way.  This way doesn’t require as much study.  We can emphasize the positive point that Christianity is unique – unique in its central message and unique in how it explains the world in which we live.  Other religions, on the other hand, are actually all quite similar to each other in these respects.

The Message of Islam

Take Islam for example.  Faithful Muslims must adhere to the five pillars in order to be taken into paradise with Allah.  The five pillars of Islam are: profession of faith (shahada), prayer (salat), almsgiving (zakat), fasting (sawm), and pilgrimage (hajj).  Even if these are followed, Allah may arbitrarily decide that the works you did were not enough and you may be consigned to hell.  This Islamic fatalism is what prevents any Muslim from having personal assurance of salvation – the only exception is for a martyr.  That contrasts with true Christianity which rejects salvation by works.  As Christians, we can also have the comfort of personal assurance.  Salvation is initiated by God and guaranteed by God (Romans 8:15-17).  Christians never have to second-guess their salvation.

The Message of Hinduism

Salvation in Hinduism doesn’t mean the same thing as in Christianity.  For a Hindu, to be saved is to be released from the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.  It means to become one with Brahman, the greatest of the many thousands of Hindu gods.  This “salvation” is achieved through one of three means:  1) through the knowledge that you are actually already God; 2) through worship of a particular deity (any one you choose); or 3) through following ceremonial rituals.  You can pick, but in any circumstance you’ll have to do something to achieve Hindu “salvation.”  It’s achieved by human works.  Hinduism isn’t unique in that way – it’s no different than Islam or Roman Catholicism, or for that matter, Judaism or Sikhism.  All of them exemplify religions focussed on human effort.

The Message of Biblical Christianity is Unique

Only Christianity teaches that God graciously provides salvation as a free gift.  All other religions teach that the way to God is through your own deeds.  In our witnessing to others, this is one of the only things we really need to know.  We need to know that Christianity is different – it’s the only religion which teaches that human beings can’t save themselves.  Human beings can’t save themselves because they’re wretched sinners both by conception and by action.  We’re incorrigible rebels against God.  Of ourselves, we’re bags of flesh which have assumed room temperature.  Nothing a corpse can do can save it from the grave.  Someone else must intervene.  That someone else is God through his Son Jesus and through the mighty work of the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, the cross is what makes Christianity unique.  The cross speaks of human weakness and inability — but at the same time of God’s divine power to save.  Regeneration is also what makes Christianity unique.  The Holy Spirit unilaterally comes to a cold dead heart of stone and miraculously turns it into a heart of flesh which believes.  In short, sovereign grace is what makes Christianity entirely unique!

But Wait, There’s More!

The story shouldn’t end there.  Unbelievers may be impressed with our answer to this point, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.  Not only is Christianity unique in its central message of sovereign grace, it’s also unique in other ways.  These are ways which demonstrate the foolishness of unbelief.  This is the clincher in our discussions with people like Jason.  We may have shown that Christianity is unique, but that doesn’t really in itself present a compelling reason for any unbeliever to throw down his weapons and surrender.  Christianity’s uniqueness, by itself, doesn’t demonstrate its truth.  If we can show that Christianity is the only way our world can be adequately explained, then the only thing which prevents the unbeliever from repenting and believing is his own hardness of heart.

It can be demonstrated that only Christianity can explain our world and the way it really is.  Take laws of morality for instance.  Muslims can’t adequately account for absolute laws of morality.  Why not?  Because Allah is capricious and arbitrary himself.  Allah’s character is not what defines right or wrong.  He is not absolute.  However, within the Christian worldview, we account for absolute laws of morality by looking to the absolute character and nature of the Triune God.  He never changes.  From age to age he remains the same.  So does his moral law, which reflects his character.  The Christian relies upon absolute laws of morality and can also justify or account for his reliance.  The Muslim may speak about laws of morality as being absolute and may behave accordingly, but he’s inconsistent at that point with his professed religion.  Though claiming to be wise, he will have been shown to be otherwise (Romans 1:22).

Only Christianity Can

This can be extended to every other non-Christian religion.  Only Christians can speak of a Triune God who is both absolute (transcendent) and personal (immanent).  There is no other like him (Micah 7:18).  Only such a God as ours can provide the basis for reality as we observe and experience it.  In Colossians 2:3, we find that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ.  In Acts 17:28 it says, “In him [the true God], we live and move and have our being.”  Only the God of the Bible can provide the foundations upon which rest the laws of logic, morality, mathematics, and science.  Christianity is true because it is impossible for it to be false.

Now when I argued this way all those years ago, I didn’t persuade Jason.  The last time I saw him he’d invented his own religion.  His heart wasn’t changed by the Holy Spirit.  However, I still think about him and pray for him.  I pray that God will one day bring the right moment with the right means and give him a miraculous heart transplant.  Our arguments are just tools in God’s hands and he works as he pleases with them.  Nevertheless, our calling is to be faithful and always ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us about our hope in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).  Let’s honour Christ the Lord as holy by always proclaiming the uniqueness of who he is, what he’s done, and what he’s given us.


Reeves: The Triune God vs. Allah

One of the things I appreciate about Michael Reeves’ Delighting in the Trinity is how he interacts with Islamic theology.  In a number of places in the book he demonstrates the poverty of the Islamic Allah.  The single-person Islamic god simply does not measure up to the Triune God revealed in the Bible.  Here’s a sample:

Onenness for the single-person God would mean sameness.  Alone for eternity without any beside him, why would he value others and their differences?  Think how it works out for Allah: under his influence, the once-diverse cultures of Nigeria, Persia, and Indonesia are made, deliberately and increasingly, the same.  Islam presents a complete way of life for individuals, nations, and cultures, binding them into one way of praying, one way of marrying, buying, fighting, relating — even, some would say, one way of eating and dressing.

Oneness for the triune God means unity.  As the Father is absolutely one with his Son, and yet is not his Son, so Jesus prays that believers might be one, but not that they might all be the same.  Created male and female, in the image of this God, and with many other good differences between us, we come together valuing the way the triune God has made us each unique.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit…If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?  If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Cor. 12:4, 17-20)

So it is not just that the Father, Son, and Spirit call us into fellowship with themselves; they share their heavenly harmony that there might be harmony on earth, that people of different genders, languages, hobbies and gifts might be one in peace and love; and that one day, with one heart and voice, we might cry: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev. 7:10).  And that is what the family of God — by its very existence — makes known to the world: that the God of harmony is the hope for world peace; that he can and will unite enemies, rivals, and strangers into one loving family under his fatherly care.  (pp.103-104)


Book Review: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an

What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an, James R. White.  Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2013.  Softcover, 311 pages.

More than ever, Christians need to be equipped to deal with the challenges posed by Islam.  We often live beside Muslims, work alongside them, and study with them.  It’s good to have helpful resources to inform our conversations with our Muslim neighbours.  Though it is now a couple of years old already, James White’s book on the Muslim sacred text is one of those valuable helps.

White is the author of numerous non-fiction books.  He’s well-known as an author, speaker, and debater.  Though it does not factor into this book at all, he is an elder in a Reformed Baptist church in Phoenix, Arizona.  He is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, an organization with a focus on apologetics (done in a Reformed, presuppositional manner).

Rather than summarize everything in this book, let me just highlight two points which stood out for me.  One has to do with what the Qur’an says about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.  In chapter 4, White points out that the Qur’an says Christians believe the Trinity to consist of Allah, Jesus, and Mary.  Christians are alleged to believe that Allah and Mary had relations to produce Jesus.  This is important because:

Everyone affected would affirm that by the early decades of the seventh century, God Himself would have a perfect knowledge of what the doctrine of the Trinity actually says.  And if that doctrine does not accurately represent His own self-revelation, He would be in the perfect position to refute its falsehoods with devastating precision.  But is this what we find in the Qur’an? (76)

The Qur’an doesn’t describe the Trinity correctly, and so the Qur’an can’t be taken seriously as a revelation from God.

In chapter 11, White has a penetrating discussion about the text of the Qur’an.  Muslims claim that it is a perfect, immutable text.  Of course, that’s contrasted with the text of the Bible which, they allege, has been mutilated by Jews and Christians.  White gives a couple of examples from Muslim writers. This is one of them:

Muslims and non-Muslims both agree that no change has ever occurred in the text of the Qur’an.  The above prophecy [Surah 15:9] for the eternal preservation and purity of the Qur’an came true not only for the text of the Qur’an, but also for the most minute details of its punctuation marks as well…It is a miracle of the Qur’an that no change has occurred in a single word, a single [letter of the] the alphabet, a single punctuation mark, or a single diacritical mark in the text of the Qur’an during the last fourteen centuries. (250)

White demonstrates that this claim is patently false.  He notes that “even widely published editions of the Qur’an contain information indicating variations in the very text” (272-273).

He cites Yusuf Ali’s edition with its note on Surah 33:6.  In The Hidden Origins of Islam (ed. by Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd-R. Puin), there is an essay by Alba Fedeli on variant readings in early Qur’anic manuscripts.  It is simply not true that there is a single immaculate Qur’an text preserved from the time of Muhammad.

One question I wish White would have addressed is whether these claims are made in ignorance or deliberately to deceive.  There is a doctrine in Islam known as al-Taqqiya.  This teaching says it is permissible to lie in order to advance the cause of Islam.  This is one of the things making Islam such a threat to western civilization in general, and Christianity in particular.  How can you tell when a Muslim is lying about Islam?

I would recommend this book to anyone who has regular contact with Muslims.  Be aware though: most, if not all, of the points raised by White in the book have rebuttals by Muslim apologists somewhere online.  The rebuttals are weak, but if you are going to use White’s material in conversations it would be advisable to prepare yourself beforehand for what your Muslim neighbour may bring back in response.