Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jesus: The Great Divide

Okay. I've been having some random religious-based thoughts here lately, and it kinda goes right along with what Jesus said about not bringing peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). This is generally understood to be a figurative sword (namely, his teachings) that would divide families. Mothers from their children, men from their wives, siblings from one another, etcetera, so on and so forth.

That division has carried on down to Islam. Christ is, to my way of thinking, the sword that divides Christianity and Islam. Not that he isn't present in both - there's no denying that - but that his role in each is so different. For me, it all hinges on Jesus. How does he really fit into God's big picture? I know what each religion says about him. Christianity: Son of God, Savior. Islam: Great Prophet and Teacher.

My problem is figuring out which of these is the honest-to-goodness truth.

It's more than a little difficult not to be biased in one direction as a result of a lifetime of religious teachings, and therein lies my trouble. Just contemplating conversion (or reversion) is extremely difficult because I'm one of those people who holds fast to what my parents taught me. It's familiar. It's safe. And I have a major tendency to guilt trip over anything that goes against that.

*sigh* Living in my head is such a minefield sometimes...


  1. I know what you mean Heather. I was raised as a Christian too, and I knew that I wanted to become a Muslim long before I ever knew when or how I would be able to because of how my parents raised me. Christianity was such a part of my identity too, especially that I was Presbyterean which ties into my Scottish background. It wasn't until I met a fellow white, blue-eyed Muslimah that it finally clicked for me that Islam was something I could be a part of.

    I would recommend that you keep reading and studying.

    You might want to check out Dr. Lawrence Brown's book MisGod'ed. YOu might be able to find it at his website insha'Allah (

    He does a masha'Allah nice job of summarizing and breaking down some of the major conflicts and episodes of Christian and Islamic faith and history. He can be a little caustic at times because he has that somewhat skeptical atheist voice (he was an atheist before he became a Muslim), but again, it's interesting to hear such a voice arguing for God and for religion. :)

    I wish you all the best with your quest and with your family. It can be rough, but it helps to keep in mind that none of the Prophets (peace be on them) ever had things that easy themselves.

    Keep strong and may God guide us both in our lives and spiritual journeys and bring us to the path He wants us to follow.

  2. This post reminds me of the gospels and Jesus posing this very same question to his disciples. "Who do men say that I am?" They told him a prophet, John the Baptist, Elijah. But then he asked them, "who do YOU say that I am?" To which

    16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ,the Son of the living God."

    17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."

    I always keep this response of Jesus in mind. It's not going to be MEN or WOMEN who convince you about Jesus. Jesus said it was God in heaven who reveals it to us.

    So maybe ask God to reveal to you about this Jesus person and see how He leads.

  3. In the name of God. I converted to Christianity at age 16. Everything I have ever written about the subject needs to be viewed in that light - that I, a person brought up in an agnostic/atheist home, nonetheless came to believe these things which are very different from what I was brought up with. And that, in circumstances where I was not even looking for God or a religion. What Susanne says is very correct: it is a matter of God's revelation.

    I wanted to share a word of caution about praying for wisdom, however. Many people pray the same prayer for wisdom and come to different, mutually exclusive conclusions. The difference, evidently, lies within the people, given the 'mutually exclusive' part. We must be so careful not to worship our own desires and ideas. Another thing: sometimes we ask for wisdom at a moment when we already know the answer but don't necessarily accept it. And yet another thing: sometimes we ask for wisdom that God does not see fit to provide for us. This can be in order to make clear to us that God and only God is all-knowing and all-wise, so that we may worship Him for these things instead of worrying about answers to all our questions. Or it can even be because we just plain don't need the info in order to do the right thing.

    Heather, you are quite right in pointing out that Jesus is the dividing line. An old pastor (may he rest in peace) once told me that the difference between Christianity and any other religion boils down to two things: 1) Who is Jesus?, and 2) What did He come here to accomplish?

    If you really pin a Muslim to the wall, you will even find agreement that God is able to take on a human form if He so desires. After all, He can do anything, right? The question is going to be: Why would God do such a thing? And the Muslim does not see any reason why, so the person will of course adopt the view that God did not do such a thing. The Christian, on the other hand, will adopt the view that there was a very specific and necessary purpose for God's doing such a thing.

    It is true that many Christians could be reasonably suspected of worshiping God's salvation and other benefits instead of God Himself. And probably many Muslims think that this is an inherent flaw of Christianity. But this is not true. A careful reading of the Bible will lead to the conclusion that the point of God's redemption in Jesus Christ is, first of all, for us to stop the idolatry of self that is at the root of any efforts to earn our own salvation by our deeds. And secondly, for us to be able to come to God for the right reasons: not for fear of punishment or desire for reward, but for God Himself. The point of Jesus' redemptive and salvific work - His death and resurrection, in other words - is for us to be able to truly have one and only one God.

  4. I had a trouble posting, so I'm not sure if I might accidentally repeat this.

    I just wanted to comment on what Caraboska said: "If you really pin a Muslim to the wall, you will even find agreement that God is able to take on a human form if He so desires. After all, He can do anything, right?"

    The problem is that the Muslim pinned made a big aquidah (creed) mistake to admit God can do anything, because that's not what Islam teaches. Islam teaches that God only does those things which suit His nature and Majesty. For example, He doesn't lie, He doesn't break His promises, He doesn't die, He doesn't beget children and He wasn't begotten, He's not a man or the son of man, and He doesn't, a'oothu billah, ever have to go to the bathroom.

    The "God can do anything" is a trap not just for Muslims, but for any theist as well. The atheist might point out as I did, that God doing anything means He can lie if He wants.

    Also, an atheist could ask, okay, you say your god can do anything... can he make a really big and heavy rock? Like, really really heavy and huge, so heavy that no one an lift it? Well, yes, sure, if he can do anything. Really, can he make it so big that even HE can't lift it? So, you see, the trap. The problem is the assumption in the first place isn't correct. God has power over all things, but that doesn't mean that He does just anything.

    Islam teaches that God wrote certain rules for Himself, such as that His wrath will not overcome His mercy. For the Muslim God doesn't become a human and die for people's sins, not because he can't do anything, but because that does not suit His mercy and ability to forgive anyone who comes to Him in sincere repentence. Adam and Eve repented with a prayer God inspired them to recite, and God accepted their repentence and forgave them. He can forgive anyone who is willing to admit their sins to Him, and seek His forgiveness and strive to worship Him alone.

    So, that's basically all I wanted to comment about. Also, I think that maybe Caraboska might do well to take a careful reading of Numbers 23.19 and see what the Bible says God does or doesn't do.

    It seems to me the "God can do anything, therefor he can becoe human" doesn't really hold muh water, especially in light of that verse. Wa'Allahu a3lam, God knows best.

    May God guide us all to the way He wants to be worshipped and may He help us both in our spiritual journeys. Amiiin.

  5. Praise the Lord

    Emilu is quite right to point out that the key question is whether it is consistent with God's nature for Him to take on a human form. And we have to read the entirety of the Bible before we can decide what it teaches about this matter.

    It is quite clear, if we carefully read not just verses that appear to speak directly to the matter at hand, that it is a necessity of God's justice for payment to be made for our sins - specifically, that the wages of sin is death. That is the premise of Genesis 3. That is the premise of the entire sacrificial system. And that is the premise of all the prophecies of the Old Testament, made hundreds of years before Jesus' arrival in human form on the earth - that Messiah will make that ultimate sacrifice for sin. And that he will be God in human form.

    Take a look at Psalm 110. It is acknowledged by both Jews and Christians that this Psalm is a Messianic prophecy. The only thing they disagree about is whether or not Messiah has already come. Now, there are those who think that Messiah will just be the Son of David. And Jesus cites this Psalm and asks: 'If David is referring to Messiah as his Lord, how can Messiah be merely his son?'

    There's a lot more where that came from: the Old Testament speaks of certain characteristics of God as being proper only and exclusively to God - and then the New Testament speaks of these characteristics as being proper to Jesus as well.

    It is very clear, in other words, that the whole notion of death as punishment for sin, and substitutionary sacrifice, as well as the identity of Messiah as God, are foundations on which the Bible either stands or falls. If these concepts are in fact false, then the Bible is not just corrupt - it is wrong through and through.

    But if it is right: if God's justice does demand a sacrifice that only He Himself could make, if God is in fact the only Savior, so that we can do nothing to save ourselves - no deed of ours can in any way materially contribute to our salvation - and must depend wholly on God and completely acknowledge His sovereignty over us, taking nothing of that for ourselves... then any attempt to earn our salvation by our works in even the slightest measure is an act of idolatry and it turns out that the only religion that upholds true monotheism is Biblical Christianity.

    The stakes are indeed very high. Christianity is unique among religions. All other religions in some manner attempt to earn their salvation or nirvana or whatever by their deeds. The fun part, however, is that there is no such thing as a non-practicing Christian. If God is really in someone's life, then they are going to meet a much higher standard than mere outward good deeds. A standard absolutely impossible to keep if God is not in one's life.

    But if Christianity is really right, then remember: it is mutually exclusive with all other religions. So there will be salvation only through Messiah's - Jesus' - redemptive, substitutionary death. Without that death, we are all on our way to hell, every single one of us. And the point of that death is so that we can come to God and truly worship only Him, not to earn our salvation or avoid going to hell, but only and exclusively for God Himself.