A Muslim's Analysis
by Gary Miller
" . . . come let us reason together." Isaiah 1:16Part 1
Let there be no misunderstanding of our intentions. This booklet is not an assault on Christianity. Instead, we intend to clarify vagueness, supply neglected information, and finish incomplete thoughts found in the usual presentation of the Christian missionary. The Qur'an encourages the discussion of religious matters but according to a vital principle: both sides are supposed to discuss truth. (Qur'an 3:61). Where the missionary has left matters vague or has hidden some information, or has not finished a thought the truth has not been presented.
Since our goal is a careful analysis, let the reader consider his own response carefully. Any disagreement must be specified as a disagreement with something actually stated in the following material . It must also be said that nothing written here can be applied to all Christians. Christian belief covers a wide range. We are concerned with the style described in the first paragraph.
Consider first some common Christian objections to Islam. The Christian points to corruption and bad behavior in so-called Muslim lands; he cites the warfare Muhammad waged; he denounces polygamy. In response, it must be said that bad Muslims condemn Islam only if bad Christians condemn Christianity; warfare disqualifies Muhammad as God's spokesman only if it also disqualifies Joshua; polygamy condemns Islam only if it condemns Christianity. (It is Christian culture, not the Christian religion, which has prohibited polygamy. In the Bible Paul has recommended monogamy for bishops and Jesus has spoken of the sanctity of the union but no Bible verse prohibits the practice.)
Most Christian objections are of this nature. They are the same kind of charges that national groups or political parties might make against each other. They are built on those things which one person dislikes about another person. The attacker does not ask the other man to justify his position. He simply announces his disgust. By contrast, a Muslim is concerned that the Christian should justify his position.
Christians say that God is "immutable", i.e. unchanging. How then can it be said that He passed through the state of death? How could He grow in knowledge? (Luke 2:52). When we forgive a debt it means that we expect no payment. "The Lord's Prayer" asks God to forgive our debts the way we forgive our debtors. Why then does Jesus' have to pay a price for our sins? The usual answers: The many paradoxes of a God-man, a being simultaneously mortal and immortal are said to be resolved by the phrase "with God all things are possible." The "debt of sin" is explained as a misunderstood term so that the crucifixion was not so much a payment as a necessary demonstration of God's justice.
As will be shown, these responses illustrate the Christian difficulty: while he seems to respond to every question, there is no way to form an explanation consistent with all those things he has said. Instead, the total of the answers is a contradictory system. This fact is itself incorporated into the total. That is, where a logical investigation finds a conflict, this is covered over by insisting that the love of God is more important, doubt is a dangerous tendency, and these difficulties are "divine mysteries" If a person is satisfied with this kind of rationale, no logical presentation is likely to change his mind. However, for those who would be motivated by exposure to facts, this booklet describes the situation in brief. If the Christian feels that a logical discussion is more than we should expect when considering religious matters, let him be encouraged by the Biblical passage at Isaiah 1:16: " . . . come let us reason together."
DEMONSTRATING THE POINT
Now consider the responses, the second then the first. The missionary is most concerned that the non-Christian "take advantage" of the "ransom sacrifice" of Jesus - otherwise a man is "lost". But this urgency is based on a price being paid. If we acknowledge that God is just, we do not need a demonstration of His justice. But the Christian insists that we must acknowledge the crucifixion itself, not God's justice, or be lost. Despite his answer, we are required to acknowledge a debt as paid not forgiven. Even though the phrase "with God all things are possible" are from the words of Jesus in the Bible, this proposition actually turns against Christian belief. It is self-destructive because it says that God can do "un-Godly" things (act foolishly for example). It demolishes arguments where it is used. For example:
Christian: "The true nature of God is a Trinity."
Muslim: "How can 1+1+1=1?"
Christian: "With God all things are possible."
Muslim: "Then the Trinity is not His nature, how He must be. It is an option. He could have been 3, 5, 9 or whatever."
These are two examples of the difficulties which we promised to expose. In general the pattern is this: A question is asked and an answer is given. But the answer conflicts with another article of faith or practice. So, in fact, the original question is not really answered because the response has not come from Christian belief. Instead it has come from something in conflict with Christian teaching.
EXPLANATION VERSUS PROOF
There is a more basic issue than all that has been discussed so far. If we are only concerned with the analysis of explanations, we have skipped a point. The fact is, explanation is not proof. Ask a man why he believes something and he will usually respond by explaining his belief - not why it must be true. Whatever a missionary explains to a Muslim, our first question is really: "Where did you get your explanations?" On this matter, the missionary almost always holds a minority view among Christians. The majority of Christians believe the same as Muslims regarding the Bible.