A Thumbnail Sketch of Islam for Christians - page 8


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From the Winter 2014 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

A Thumbnail Sketch of Islam for Christians

by Gerald R. McDermott, Ph.D.
Jordan Trexler Professor of Religion, Roanoke College

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   4. The Incarnation is equally difficult for Muslims. Charles White, a missionary to Muslim parts of Africa, used to tell his students about the man who became an ant. He saw ants going into a house where they would be poisoned. He told them over and over not to enter, but they didn’t listen. Finally, the man became an ant, and now they could hear and understand. By becoming one of them, this man was able to save ants from destruction.
   5. The Incarnation might be a bit easier for Shi’ites to understand, because they believe a divine substance from Muhammad passes from imam to imam. They can be told that in a similar way the divine substance passed—as it were—from the Father to the Son.
   6. White also told his Muslim students of two kinds of greatness. One is of the king who sits on a high throne and has scores of servants scurrying around to do his bidding. The other kind of greatness is of a brilliant student who works hard in medical school and graduates with the ability to go anywhere he wants. But rather than following other top graduates to lucrative practices in the suburbs, he goes to work among the poor in the inner city. That is what God did, in His power and greatness, when He came to live among sinful men.
  7. The message of forgiveness, and power from the Holy Spirit, can be appealing to a Muslim who feels crushed by the demands of the law. He is told that he can never know for sure if he will reach Paradise, and because he knows the weakness of his heart, he is in despair. The gospel message that Christ came to save sinners not the righteous, and that He gives power to live a righteous life nonetheless, can be liberating for such a conscientious soul.
  8. Like all our neighbors, our Muslim neighbors and friends should be shown respect and love. We should recognize the religious truth they already have and not assume they would need to throw out everything they’ve ever believed in order to come to Christ. If they sense this kind of respect in you for them, they may, like Cornelius who already feared God and prayed regularly to God before he heard about Jesus (Acts 10:2), “come to listen to all the Lord tells you to say” (Acts 10:33b).
   For further reading:
   Mateen Elass, Understanding the Koran: A Quick Christian Guide to the Muslim Holy Book (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004).

Gerald McDermott is Jordan–Trexler Professor of Religion at Roanoke College. He grew up in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, went to a Jesuit high school in New York City, graduated from the University of Chicago (B.A., New Testament and Early Christian Literature), lived in religious communes for seven years, started and ran a private school for three years, pastored for five years in Iowa, and earned a Ph.D. in religion at the University of Iowa. He is an Anglican priest who serves as Teaching Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Roanoke, Va. He is married to an artist, Jean; they have three sons and seven grandchildren.

Recommended Reading:
Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity (Zondervan, 2014)

In Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way.

Providing an intimate window into a loving Muslim home, Qureshi shares how he developed a passion for Islam before discovering, almost against his will, evidence that Jesus rose from the dead and claimed to be God. Unable to deny the arguments but not wanting to deny his family, Qureshi’s inner turmoil will challenge Christians and Muslims alike.

Engaging and thought-provoking, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells a powerful story of the clash between Islam and Christianity in one man’s heart—and of the peace he eventually found in Jesus.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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