Join us for our annual Ratio Christi Symposium on October 17 and 18!
including the Saturday evening banquet with keynote speaker George Yancey, sociologist specializing in the study of anti-Christian bias in America.
including the Saturday evening banquet with keynote speaker George Yancey, sociologist specializing in the study of anti-Christian bias in America.
Many people do not know, or care, about apologetics. Most do not know what the word even means. And maybe that is okay. I don't think so. But then again it is what I do for a living. I am a full time missionary, an apologist. But do we really "need" apologetics? Seriously, outside of it being a Biblical command, which obviously is of vital importance, why would we really need apologetics? Well, I am glad you ask!
Think about it. The majority of people believe in God, or a god. So why would we, as Christians, need to know the reasons and evidence of God's existence? How many times do we run into people that do not not believe because they need evidence to change their mind? Yes, I know the typical atheist, but in reality, how often are most Christians talking to atheists? So, do we really need apologetics? Yes! Why? Well, outside of the previously stated biblical command, to strengthen the believer and reach the lost. The point here is strengthening the believer. Seriously, how could anyone consider listening to what we have say if:
a.) their objection isn't God, but other Christians
b.) they see no relevance in God
Here in lies the importance of apologetics. Have you heard the saying I have a bridge, land, or whatever in an attempt to emphasize the absurdity of a particular statement or belief. But for some reason we feel that, though belief in God, to us is rational, we have no idea why! I will tell you why. I have been on the other side. God is as relevant to today's society as the bridge I mentioned previously. Why, if God provides meaning, value and purpose, why does not the rest of the world see it? Because they, the rest of the world, think we are outdated, of no importance, and irrelevant! Why would they think this? Think about it. We look like they do. We do what they do. We have no idea why they should believe in God.Or why we believe in God. Yeah, I know, faith and heaven. Seriously?
So, do we really need apologetics? Is the cosmological argument going to lead someone to Christ? The evidence of the resurrection? Morals? Maybe. But in reality we must show them the relevance of God! We know and understand without God the world would be in more chaos than it already is. But how do we reach the world? How do we reach our family, friends and co-workers? Well, I promise you it isn't by giving them the best evidence for God. They believe. So what is it? How do we reach these people? STOP living as the world. Be different. Be the person God has called us to be. Does that include apologetics? Definitely! The world thinks we are out of touch and God is not relevant! Why? Because it is just as easy to believe in the bridge, (earlier), fairy tales, and being "blessed" for them as it is for us to follow Christ. What is the difference? To the world there is no difference. We think that God provides all of our "blessings" and the world typically makes more money, which they feel is a blessing, and are going to heaven, and they believe they are too, based on our actions, so what is the relevance of God or following Christ?
Here is the point. Short and blunt. Why would anyone consider Christianity if; we look and act just as the world, and we attempt to sell a fairy tale that we have no idea of why we believe it? People, the world thinks we are stupid and irrelevant. Would you believe God created, a virgin birth, and a man raising from the dead without some type of evidence? Obviously so. But in today's society, well, most do not believe in fairy tales.
Do we really need apologetics? Can you tell someone why you, and they, should believe in God?
The National Day of Prayer team will be at UIowa on Friday, Oct. 2. Here is a message from the team.
EDUCATION TOUR – IOWA, Friday Oct. 2, 10am-2pm, 200 block E. Jefferson by Van Allen Hall
Praying for our Nation’; Schools, Colleges, and Universities
Since our first Pray for America Rally Tour in 2013, we’ve passed through 43 states, visited over 500 communities, and touched over 130,000 individuals. This year, our focus is on Education, and our mission is to engage with, equip and encourage those involved in the sphere of Education. We will meet and pray with faculty and staff, student ministry leaders, and students at your school, and across the nation — asking them to share their stories so that that we can equip the Church in America to pray more strategically and intentionally for them!
We will be traveling over 6000 miles, through 23 states, visiting close to 50 schools, colleges and universities, beginning at Harvard and ending in Washington DC, praying with and for the Department of Education. And we will not be alone. We are partnering with key nationally recognized ministries like Ratio Christi, Reset, Pulse, BGEA, Cru, YWAM, Collegiate Day of Prayer, Circuit Riders, Campus Renewal, Navigators, FCA, lntervarsity and many more . . . uniting our efforts to engage and encourage millions in life-changing, transformational prayer!
Come by the bus! We’ll be parked on E. Jefferson Street, next to Van Allen Hall on Friday, October 2nd from 10 am to 2 pm. We’d love to meet you and pray with you!
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Dion Elmore in advance at 719-338-2293.
There are numerous definitions for the word mission. However, if one were to compare the definitions individually, the same theme would appear to apply; to accomplish a specific task. In Christianity, the mission, or specific task, would be to share the Good News, or the “gospel” of Jesus Christ. There are both Biblical and Theological basis for Global Missions. So what does that have to do with missions? Oh, never mind, this is about missions...
The best place to start for most any task is to go to the source. Here, two texts from both the Old Testament and the New Testament will be discussed in how they relate to Global Missions.
Exodus 9:14 -16 states: “14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth”. In this particular text God Himself is making a point to Pharaoh, delivered by Moses, of His power and one of many examples of what has come to be known as the Great Commission. As stated previously, the task of Christianity is to proclaim the name of God in all the earth. From the beginning, as one can see from the early writing of Exodus, the church , though not established, is to be on mission throughout the world.
The second text of the Old Testament that has been chosen states 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5. Though the office of prophet has been eliminated since the apostolic age, one must understand the meaning, or context of the prophet Jeremiah. God distinguished His purpose to share His revelation through missions. Without going in to theological detail, concerning general and special revelation, it is through both His written Word and the spoken Word of His prophets to spread His name to all nations .
At this point we turn our attention to the two New Testament texts to further provide evidence for our case of the Biblical bases for Global Missions. The theme of missions began early, but to this writer the emphasis is much more apparent in the New Testament. What has came to be known as the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” is possibly the foundational passage for the mission of the church. Though many have argued the text from Matthew was directed to the apostles only, it seems clear it is a direct command to all followers. In making disciples, God has given the specific task of teaching others “all that I have commanded you.”
The second of our two texts from the New Testament may appear odd to some. Yet, given the calling on this writer’s life, to others, it would be obvious. 1 Peter 3:15-16, “15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” A missionary must share the Word of God. We have shown that as prophets, followers, and disciple’s missions are not an option. Here in lies the reasoning behind the choice of 1 Peter 3 as the second text from the New Testament supporting missions. How can one share something without knowing the reason in why it is being shared, or why they believe what is being shared. This particular verse is possibly the most important when attempting to establish a Biblical foundation for missions.
The Nature of God and Missions
God’s nature is typically thought of as love. God is love, for God so loved, and other verses and sayings all lead to the same conclusion concerning God and His nature. Not surprisingly, God’s love is the primary basis for missions. Without God, or without the nature of God, there would be no point. Not just in missions, but in life as a whole. God loves His people, and in that, He has chosen missions as one of the primary sources in showing His love “that all may be saved”.
From “In the beginning” to “whoever desires should take the water as a free gift” God has given an open invitation to share in His personal plan of salvation. Though we may not always understand, God is indeed love, and that love is in and of itself the nature of God, and His mission to share that love with the world.
Mission Theology and other aspects of Theology
It is here we will begin the broader side of our discussion by looking at how mission theology relates to other aspects of theology. The mission of the church is to share the Word, or Good News of Christ; for this writer, as has been alluded to previously, the basics would be the primary aspects of other theology and mission theology. The two felt most important would be Bibliogy and Christology.
“The relationship that exists between the Bible and Christianity is undisputed among conservative theologians who hold to the historic view of inspiration and biblical authority.”
Bibliology is the study of the Word of God. To carry out any type of mission one must know not only what they believe, but why they believe. Here in lies much of the problem of missions and missionaries today. The church is not making disciples, yet still sending individuals or groups out to share something that in fact they do not know what they are sharing.
Christology, like Bibliology, is the basic foundation of Christianity. The Doctrine of Christ could very well be the most important aspect of theology in relation to mission theology. “…Jesus Christ is not God and man, but the God-man. For all these reasons and more, Christ is God.” There is so much confusion in society today, and within many churches, of the deity of Christ. Many, again, do not grasp the concept, thus how could they possibly share the gospel? Yet, here we find ourselves in the twenty first century with churches spending time on missions, without ever making a disciple to be a missionary. Similar to an old say concerning a cart and a horse, yet all too common in what we call missions.
According to our text, Introducing World Missions, (71), “Good theology is not about endless debates over the nature of God or predestination, but about establishing grounds for what people do and providing reasons for the way Christians minister to others .” As we have discussed definitions of theology previously, and adamantly disagree with our writer, this one sentence provides the priority and support for Bibliogy and Christology, basically giving a reason, or apologetic, for why, and not just to fill a box; “Christians and non-Christians posses many identical or very similar attitudes, opinions, and values.” The obvious reason would be mission theology is Christianity, but without disciples to carry out the Great Commission, there cannot be anything more than shared aspects of other theology.
Motifs of Mission Theology
Many motifs of mission theology could be provided, however for the purpose of this discussion, two will be used as examples to solidify our position. The two chosen are the kingdom of God and Jesus. The logic of choice relates to the choices presented above concerning the aspect of mission theology to other theology.
The kingdom of God “runs through every layer of the foundational mission focus.” As with Bibliogy and Christology the kingdom of God is not about assumptions, discussions, or other debatable non essentials so many are prone to argue about. This is an essential in the way knowing why we believe is an essential, foundational in the facts of Christianity.
Jesus, it is all about Jesus. He is not just another prophet, a good teacher, or a simply moral individual. Without Jesus there is no Christianity. He gave us the command to carry out missions, but also to love Him with our heart soul and mind. Unfortunately, many appear to skip the mind part, lest missions would be much more effective.
The purpose of this was is to examine the Biblical and Theological basis for Global Missions. In concluding the discussion, a look at how missions relate to the missionary, the church leader, and the lay person in the church would seem appropriate. Though written in that particular order, it would appear, at least to this writer, the success of missions would remain with the church leader . Not necessarily the pastor, but the church in following the commands of Christ Himself in making disciples. Without disciples we cannot carry out a mission, neither can the missionary or the lay person become a disciple without actually being taught. It is time we become followers and not fans of God. We have shown, in this brief overview that without an understanding, or a foundation, the mission is lost. It all begins with “Romans 3:23, that we are all spiritually lost and in need of salvation.”
As historians evaluate the sources available for the resurrection of Jesus, a critical question is the dating of the sources. In relation to early testimony, historian David Hacket Fisher says, “An historian must not merely provide good relevant evidence but the best relevant evidence. And the best relevant evidence, all things being equal, is evidence which is most nearly immediate to the event itself.” (1) One key in examining the early sources for the life of Christ is to take into account the Jewish culture in which they were birthed. As Paul Barnett notes, “The milieu of early Christianity in which Paul’s letters and the Gospels were written was ‘rabbinic.’” (2)
Given the emphasis on education in the synagogue, the home, and the elementary school, it is not surprising that it was possible for the Jewish people to recount large quantities of material that was even far greater than the Gospels themselves.
Jesus was a called a “Rabbi” (Matt. 8:19; 9:11; 12:38; Mk. 4:38; 5:35; 9:17; 10:17, 20; 12:14, 19, 32; Lk. 19:39; Jn. 1:38; 3:2), which means “master” or “teacher.” There are several terms that can be seen that as part of the rabbinic terminology of that day. His disciples had “come” to him, “followed after” him, “learned from” him, “taken his yoke upon” them (Mt. 11:28-30; Mk 1). (3)
Therefore, it appears that the Gospel was first spread in the form of oral creeds and hymns (Luke 24:34; Acts 2:22-24, 30-32; 3:13-15; 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:39-41; 13:37-39; Rom. 1:3-4; 4:25; 10:9; 1 Cor. 11:23ff.;15:3-8; Phil. 26-11; 1 Tim.2:6; 3:16; 6:13; 2 Tim. 2:8;1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 4:2).
There was tremendous care in ‘delivering’ the traditions that had been received. Jesus’ use of parallelism, rhythm and rhyme, alliterations, and assonance enabled Jesus’ words not only ‘memorizable’ but easy to preserve. (4) Even Paul, a very competent rabbi was trained at the rabbinic academy called the House of Hillel by ‘Gamaliel,’ a key rabbinic leader and member of the Sanhedrin. It can be observed that the New Testament authors employ oral tradition terminology such as “delivering,” “receiving,” “passing on” “learning,” “guarding,” the traditional teaching. Just look at the following passages:
Romans 16: 17: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.”
1 Corinthians 11:23: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread.”
Philippians 4:9: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
2 Thessalonians 2:15: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”
1 Corinthians 15: 3-7: The Earliest Account
Paul applies this terminology in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7 which is one of the earliest records for the historical content of the Gospel – the death and resurrection of Jesus. The late Orthodox Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide was so impressed by the creed of 1 Cor. 15, that he concluded that this “formula of faith may be considered as a statement of eyewitnesses.” (5)
Paul’s usage of the rabbinic terminology “passed on” and “received” is seen in the creed of 1 Cor. 15:3-8:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
There is an interesting parallel to Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 15:3-8 in the works of Josephus. Josephus says the following about the Pharisees.
“I want to explain here that the Pharisees passed on to the people certain ordinances from a succession of fathers, which are not written down in the law of Moses. For this reason the party of the Sadducees dismisses these ordinances, averaging that one need only recognize the written ordinances, whereas those from the tradition of the fathers need not be observed.” (6)
As Richard Bauckham notes, “the important point for our purposes is that Josephus uses the language of “passing on” tradition for the transmission from one teacher to another and also for the transmission from the Pharisees to the people.”(7)
Bauckham notes in his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony that the Greek word for “eyewitness” (autoptai), does not have forensic meaning, and in that sense the English word “eyewitnesses” with its suggestion of a metaphor from the law courts, is a little misleading. The autoptai are simply firsthand observers of those events. Bauckham has followed the work of Samuel Byrskog in arguing that while the Gospels though in some ways are a very distinctive form of historiography, they share broadly in the attitude to eyewitness testimony that was common among historians in the Greco-Roman period. These historians valued above all reports of firsthand experience of the events they recounted.
Best of all was for the historian to have been himself a participant in the events (direct autopsy). Failing that (and no historian was present at all the events he need to recount, not least because some would be simultaneous), they sought informants who could speak from firsthand knowledge and whom they could interview (indirect autopsy).” In other words, Byrskog defines “autopsy,” as a visual means of gathering data about a certain object and can include means that are either direct (being an eyewitness) or indirect (access to eyewitnesses).
Byrskog also claims that such autopsy is arguably used by Paul (1 Cor.9:1; 15:5–8; Gal. 1:16), Luke (Acts 1:21–22; 10:39–41) and John (19:35; 21:24; 1 John 1:1–4).
The word “received” παραλαμβάνω (a rabbinical term) means to receive something transmitted from someone else, which could be by an oral transmission or from others from whom the tradition proceeds. This entails that Paul received this information from someone else at an even earlier date. 1 Corinthians is dated 50-55 A.D. Since Jesus was crucified in 30-33 A.D. the letter is only 20-25 years after the death of Jesus. But the actual creed here in 1 Cor. 15 was received by Paul much earlier than 55 A.D.
As Gary Habermas notes, “Even critical scholars usually agree that it has an exceptionally early origin.” Ulrich Wilckens declares that this creed “indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity.” (8) Joachim Jeremias calls it “the earliest tradition of all.” (9) Even the non-Christian scholar Gerd Ludemann says that “I do insist that the discovery of pre-Pauline confessional foundations is one of the great achievements in the New Testament scholarship.” (10)
The majority of scholars who comment think that Paul probably received this information about three years after his conversion, which probably occurred from one to four years after the crucifixion. At that time, Paul visited Jerusalem to speak with Peter and James, each of whom are included in the list of Jesus’ appearances (1 Cor. 15:5, 7; Gal. 1:18–19).This places it at roughly A.D. 32–38. Even the co-founder Jesus Seminar member John Dominic Crossan, writes:
“Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus in the early 50s C.E. But he says in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that “I handed on to you as of first importance which I in turn received.” The most likely source and time for his reception of that tradition would have been Jerusalem in the early 30s when, according to Galatians 1:18, he “went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [Peter] and stayed with him fifteen days” (11).
E.P. Sanders also says:
Paul’s letters were written earlier than the gospels, and so his reference to the Twelve is the earliest evidence. It comes in a passage that he repeats as ‘tradition’, and is thus to be traced back to the earliest days of the movement. In 1 Corinthians 15 he gives the list of resurrection appearances that had been handed down to him. (12)
And Crossan’s partner Robert Funk says:
The conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead had already taken root by the time Paul was converted about 33 C.E. On the assumption that Jesus died about 30 C.E., the time for development was thus two or three years at most.” — Robert Funk co-founder of the Jesus Seminar.(13)
This comment by Crossan and others makes sense because within the creed Paul calls Peter by his Aramic name, Cephas. Hence, if this tradition originated in the Aramaic language, the two locations that people spoke Aramaic were Galilee and Judea. (14)
The Greek term “historeo” is translated as “to visit” or “to interview.” (15) Hence, Paul’s purpose of the trip was probably designed to affirm the resurrection story with Peter who had been an actual eyewitness to the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15:5).
Why does this matter?
I was once talking to a Muslim about the dating of the Qur’an and the New Testament. Islam states Jesus was never crucified, and therefore, never risen. The Qur’an was written some six hundred years after the life of Jesus which makes it a much later source of information than the New Testament. It seems the evidence that has just been discussed tells us that the historical content of the Gospel (Jesus’ death and resurrection) was circulating very early among the Christian community. As I just said, historians look for the records that are closest to the date of event. Given the early date of 1 Cor. 15: 3-8, it is quite evident that this document is a more reliable resource than the Qur’an. Furthermore, to say the story of Jesus was something that was “made up” much later contradicts the evidence just presented.
Note: I wanted to include a resource that responds to some Jesus Mythers (e.g., the usual list that includes Robert Price), who attempt to say 1 Cor 15: 3-11 is an interpolation.
1.Hacket Fisher, D.H., Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought. New York: Harper Torchbooks. 1970, 62.
2. Barnett, P.W., Jesus and the Logic of History. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1997, 138.
5. Lapide, P.E., The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective. Minneapolis: Ausburg. 1983, 98-99.
6. Bauckham, R. Jesus and the Gospels: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2006.
8. Wilckens, U., Resurrection, trans. A. M. Stewart. Edinburgh: St. Andrew, 1977, 2
9. Jeremias,J. New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus, trans. John Bowden. New York: Scribner’s, 1971, 306.
10. Ludemann, G, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A Historical Inquiry (Amherst, NY: Promethus, 2004), 37.
11. Crossan, J.D. & Jonathan L. Reed. Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, 2001, 254.
12. E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (New York: Penguin Books), 1993
13. Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Acts of Jesus, 466.
14. Jones, T.P., Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 2007, 89-94.
If you were reading a math book and you came across an equation saying 2+2=4 on one page, but on the very next page, you discovered another equation saying 2+2 =5, what would you think? Most of us know the answer is four, and it could never be five. However, young children would be more naïve. Consider for a moment the impact of consistently holding this book up as the standard for math. As these children developed into mature men and women, they would most likely live in a state of confusion concerning mathematics. What if the children were taught this is not just any book, but a book from God Himself, and they are not allowed to question or critique it? Would this add to the confusion? Perhaps by now, it is obvious that the math illustration parallels the standard of morality as taught by traditional Islam.
At the heart of this Seventh Century religion there is the belief in one God (Allah), Muhammad is the prophet of God, and the Qur’an is the word of God. Apart from these three, there’s no such thing as Islam. Obviously disagreements exist among Muslims in regards to what Allah has revealed in the Qur’an, or what accurately represents the example of Muhammad, but most of the Muslim world is built on this foundation in some way. Any concept of proper Islamic behavior must be connected and supported by at least one of these three.
One of the most significant problems for Islam as a viable belief system is that it lacks a clear and consistent standard for ethical behavior. Even if the majority of Muslims in the world today are peaceful, they have placed their trust in a system that is vague and inconsistent. The information here is not an attempt to label these passive followers as violent extremists, but only to evaluate Islam as a moral philosophy and demonstrate how the God of the Bible reigns supreme.
Is Allah a Sufficient Source for Morality?
It’s crucial to consider how important this question is. If the conclusion to this question is based on strong evidence, then surely it would overshadow or minimize the questions concerning Muhammad and the Qur’an. An examination of the prophet of Allah and the word of Allah would only make sense if the results were conducive with the Islamic concept of God. Serious problems with Allah as a moral standard would have a “Domino effect” on the other two. If Allah is indeed a sufficient and reasonable standard, then Muhammad and the Qur’an should remain standing as well.
There is Some Evidence Suggesting the Answer is “Yes.” Among the ninety-nine names of Allah you will find him referred to as “Al-Barr,” communicating “the source of all goodness .” Other names, such as “The Most Kind” (Al-Ra’uf), and “The Loving One” (Al-Wadud), correspond with and support this concept. Nabeel Qureshi has rightly said, “Love is the root of all that is good.” Goodness flows out of love and is primarily focused on the well-being of someone else.
Ideally, love is reciprocal, requiring a lover and a beloved who are good to each other. This seems to be the intention of Allah when he says, “He will produce a people whom he will love as they will love him” (Surah 5:54). The Qur’an also indicates that Allah is close to humanity and he responds “to the invocation of the supplicant” when called upon (Surah 2:186). Practically no one in the Islamic world would claim to have a personal relationship with Allah because such an idea is blasphemous, but these verses are pointed out in order to be fair. As vague and unsupported as they are, the implications of mutual love and goodness can be found in Islamic literature.
There is Some Evidence Suggesting the Answer is “No.” Despite the evidence in favor of Allah as a Good God, the idea is not reasonable considering the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
From a Christian perspective, The Moral Law reflects the Goodness of God who compels believers to act in a proper way. Jesus said, “The greatest and foremost commandment” is to love God, and “The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40). In other words, Christians should be like Christ in how they relate to the Supreme Source of all that is good. Abiding in the love of God is the key to living in right relationship with the rest of humanity (Jn. 15:1-17). Everything stands or falls on love.
From an Islamic perspective, the emphasis is on submission to Allah. The term “Muslim” refers to “one who submits” to the will of Allah. Here, the emphasis is on the greatest of all sins, shirk (Surah 4:48). This doctrine forbids attaching any partner at all to Allah, such as father and son, since Islam is considered to be pure monotheism. To make matters worse, at the heart of Islam is the doctrine of “tawhid,” which speaks of the absolute and indivisible unity of Allah. Surah 112 is considered as the equivalent of a third of the entire Qur’an because of its Unitarian monotheistic message. It cannot be overstated how important the absolute “oneness” of Allah is in Islamic theology. The Islamic deity will not forgive those who refuse to submit to his will and compromise his unity.
This is where Unitarian monotheism begins to unravel. Here are several reasons to reject Islam based on its lack of a clear and consistent standard for ethical behavior.
a. The Creator’s Love Depends on Creation: Some of the names of Allah, such as “the Loving One” (Al-Wadud) and “The Most Kind” (Al-Ra’uf), make no sense without an object. Who did Allah love before creation? If Allah is going to act in a way that is kind, he must have a partner. The Biblical picture of a Triune God is much more reasonable because He is Love (1 Jn. 4:8). That is, God doesn’t just love His creation, but His Being is the Supreme Standard by which all love is measured. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have loved each other eternally. When God says He “so loved the world” (Jn. 3:16), He speaks of an eternal Love (Ps. 136) that depends on nothing outside of Himself.
b. The Creator’s Love is Changed by Creation: Allah may be known as “the loving one” (Al-Wadud), but his love is conditional, depending on how someone responds. He does not love “transgressors” (Surah 2:190), “those who do mischief” (Surah 5:64), or “ the arrogant” (Surah 16:23). He only loves those “Who put their trust in him” (Surah 3:159), those who “follow him” (Surah 3:31), and perhaps most interestingly, “those who do good” (Surah 2;195). The clear implication here is, if one becomes a Muslim, Allah will change from unloving to loving. This is precisely the type of love Jesus condemned (Matt. 5:46). The God of the Bible does not change (Mal. 3:6), but demonstrated His unconditional love for humanity on the cross (Rom. 5:8). In Christianity believers are changed when they a born again by the Infinite and Holy Spirit of God (Jn. 3:5-7). In Islam, Allah is changed and as Aristotle might say, “He is disqualified as the Unmoved Mover.”
c. The Creator’s Nature is Unknown to Creation: How can an infinitely Good God be both loving and unloving? The typical Muslim response may be, “No one in the heavens or earth knows except Allah” (Surah 27:65), since “there is nothing like him” (Surah 42:11). In this way, Islam holds to a form of agnosticism concerning the essence of Allah. They have no basis to define anything as “loving” or “good.” Dr. Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb speak of this problem in their book, Answering Islam, saying, “For traditional Islam, properly speaking, God does not have an essence, at least not a knowable one. Rather, he is Will .” This concept of God portrays him as so radically transcendent and unlike anything in creation that nothing can be attributed to his being or nature. This point is also confirmed by one of the most prominent and influential Muslims after Muhammad, Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) . Allah is not necessarily good or evil because he is good or evil, but simply because “He hath inscribed for himself” such actions (Surah 6:12). His nature remains unknown.
So, is something good just because Allah wills it, or does he will it because it is good? Either way, Allah is an insufficient standard for morality. If behavior is good just because he arbitrarily wills it as such, then terms such as “love” and “good” have no meaning whatsoever. The Islamic paradigm of “the Good News” (injeel) and good works are hollow and meaningless if they could just as easily be ideas that are evil. If Allah’s will is determined by the good, then he is appealing to something outside of himself and committing the greatest sin according to Islam. Also, if there is something outside of Allah that he must appeal to, that Good would be the real God. O taste and see that the Lord (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah) is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him (Ps. 34:8).
Al-Ghazali. "The Foundations of the Articles of Faith." Ghazali.org. May 2, 2003. http://www.ghazali.org/works/gz-itiqad.htm (accessed September 22, 2015).
Publications, iqra Islamic. Islam City. Copyright 1995-2015. http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/99names.htm (accessed September 5, 2015).
Saleem, Norman L. Geisler & Abdul. Answering Islam. Grand Rapids. Michigan: Baker Books, 2002.
Google has become the new encyclopedia. YouTube provides the video to most any type of information one is looking to find. And Wikipedia is the quick "go to" source for everything true or false. And I admit, I am guilty of using each of these tools almost daily. Well, not wiki, but the other two. You see, information, both good and bad is a mouse click away. So what does this have to do with your child becoming a statistic? I am glad you ask!
Most people have heard the statistics concerning our kids. You know, the one's about children, and the twenty to thirty something's leaving the faith. If not, then you should. 50-80% of the previously mentioned individuals are leaving the Christian faith. There are many reason's or "excuses" given. However, let's just be blunt, it is the fault of the parents! Yes, I wrote that. And I firmly believe in my heart it indeed begins at home. You, and I, can blame the church for not making disciples. We can blame music, television, and video games. But, in reality, the world we currently reside in, it is the parents that are at fault. How do I know this and proclaim this so boldly? Probably because of what I do for a living. You see, I have been called of God to spread the Truth of Christianity. I do this through an international organization known as Ratio Christi, (Latin for the reason for Christ). And I take this calling seriously. Maybe too seriously. You see, I care. I don't just say I care, I really do care. I care that parents do not know what the gospel is. I care that parents don't know what Christianity is; Why they are a Christian, believe in God, the Bible, resurrection, why evil exists, the universe exists, and well, you get the point. I care and I am very thankful God has given me this opportunity to share His Truth.
Here in lies the problem. This is the most frustrating and lonely thing I think God could ever call anyone to do for Him. You see, apologetics, yeah I know most do not know what that term means, is vital to strengthening the professing follower, reaching the lost, and, believe it or not, influencing the culture. Apologetics, giving a reason, or defense, in this case of Christianity. What and why you believe it is true. I cannot grasp why every professing follower doesn't understand the importance of apologetics. We call this "blind faith". Just believe...and pray no one asks what or why you believe.
Parents, you must become more involved in your child's walk with Christ. Atheist's call teaching children about Christianity child abuse. I would not go to that extreme in not teaching them. But, if you can't answer the basic questions concerning what and why Christianity is true, and that life has no meaning without God, you are indeed responsible for your child becoming a statistic. The Flying Spaghetti monster is not real. But sadly, most parents do not know what it is or that it even exists. You should, your child does!
The point, there is always a point, is that we are losing or children to a secular society and blaming the world. It is not the world's fault. Christianity starts at home. If you do not teach your kids the Truth, someone will teach them a lie. Do you not care enough to learn and share the Truth with your kids? Are you going to allow them to become a statistic?
For the last several years I have done a lot of outreach on a major college campus. I have also been the director of an apologetics ministry. On the college campus where I am there are a lot of atheists. On a weekly basis, I must talk to at least four to five atheists. Of course, I also talk to plenty of agnostics. But over the years I have seen several patterns emerge. In other words, when I probe deeper and ask students why they are atheists or how they define their atheism, I see the same things. So here is what I continue to see:
1. Students don’t know how to think about God
Our Chapter Director Eric Chabot from Ohio State University was interviewed in this September, 2015 podcast for Dallas Theological Seminary. Host Darrell Bock interviews key apologetics experts in the podcast series "The Table" for DTS' Hendricks Center for Christian Studies and Cultural Engagement. Bock and Chabot discussed intellectual challenges on college campuses in accepting God's existence and Christianity as truth. Chabot also specializes in Jewish objections to Jesus, and Bock is the author of many in-depth studies of the gospels and the history of Jesus. Watch the video or listen to the audio below.
It is not uncommon to meet someone and ask them what they do for a living. Just as going to a bank, mechanic, school and many other places we visit; it is not uncommon to assume the person waiting on us is a banker, the person fixing our car is a mechanic, or the person standing in front of a class full of students to be a teacher. These type assumptions may not always hold true, especially in today's world but, for the most part, or for the sake of argument, let's just play along. So what does any of this have to do with being a Christian? I am glad you ask!