A Biblical Approach to Islamby Rit Nosotro
Compare how a Christian's understanding of the Bible and the nature of God affects their assessment of and compassion towards Islam.
Note from the editor: The pre-edited original essay submission is provided as an example to compare with the following published version.
Throughout the ages cultures and religions have clashed. In the past, these conflicts have resulted in bloody wars. Countries have fought other countries for the right to maintain their own standards and beliefs, citizens have overthrown oppressive governments, neighbors have shunned each other. And yet we can see times where people have disagreed but still managed to maintain respect for each other as fellow members of society and the human race. Even among Christians there can be seen differences of attitude and approach. A person's theology and the specific doctrine within that theology has a vast impact on how he views other people, and as a result, how he interacts with society.
Romans 3:10-11 draws from Psalms and Ecclesiastes when it says, "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God." People who believe in the total depravity of man understand that apart from God, man cannot do anything good or right. Human beings are by nature depraved; any decisions they make alone exist only to serve their own selfish desires. The logical conclusion of total depravity is the understanding that people cannot choose God. Mankind has nothing in itself that enables it to make a right decision; as a result, the desire to follow God does not come from themselves. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast" (emphasis added). The faith comes "by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom.10:17). "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6, NIV) It did not shine on us because we were deserving. Jesus said to his disciples, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16).
How does this affect the way people view Islam and world events relating to Muslim people? If someone understands even an inkling of the depth of human depravity they understand that faith does not come as a byproduct of intelligence. Christians are by no means smarter or better than non-Christians; their salvation does not come from any kind of intellectual superiority. Therefore Muslims do not believe in their religion from any lack of mental acumen on their part. As a result, Christians who approach Muslims with anything but humility only demonstrate their own misconceptions about God's work in their own lives.
Since God created humanity with equivalent intellect, He is able to reveal Himself to all. Romans 1:17-20 states, "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3::14-18) The will of God is that none should perish (2 Peter 2:3). Thus, even "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard" (Psalms 19:1-3). Yet mankind continues with a rebellious disposition. Salvation comes by being irresistibly drawn by God, and having a mind that is enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Abram was one such man.
"Then [the LORD] brought [Abram] outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' " 1 (Psalm 147:4 is of interest, "He telleth the number of the stars; he giveth them all their names.") Abram and his wife Sarai were both old and had no children. Even after Abram entered into this covenant with God, many years passed and the couple still remained childless. " 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai . . . So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived."2 In spite of God's promise, Sarai refused to trust in His timing. She felt that He had somehow failed or forgotten and that He needed her to help accomplish the fulfillment of His promise. Her lack of trust in God's sovereign plan led to much heartache for her family as well as Hagar and the child Ishmael, because God did keep His promise just as He had always planned. Sarah and Abraham had a son Isaac, and while Isaac was still quite young, "[Sarah] said to Abraham, 'Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son.' "3 Having made a mistake by trying to conform the situation to her own timing, Sarah had no desire to take responsibility. In fact, she wanted to send Hagar and Ishmael from her presence; in essence she wanted to remove the traces of her decision. On the other hand, Abraham desired to take responsibility for his decisions and this result of his actions (Ishmael). God told Abraham to listen to Sarah. This went against what Abraham viewed as the responsible and proper behavior in such a situation, but he listened to God and obeyed. God did not abolish the consequences of Abraham's action, though. When he told Abraham to listen to Sarah, He also said that He would make a great nation from the descendents of Ishmael and that, "He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren" (Genesis 16:12).
Thousands of years have passed and from those two sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, came the Jews and the Arabs. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." Through Adam's sin, death entered the world. Although each person remains responsible for his own individual sins, we also bear the consequences of the sins of our fathers and therefore some of the responsibility to rectify them. "For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me."4 Consequently, if Christians view themselves anything other than blessed and refuse to respect Muslims as fellow members of humanity, then they miss the entire message of the Gospel. The power of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross lies in how much humanity can never deserve it. He came to save the lost, and during His life on earth purposefully debated the religious leaders and others of the arrogant intellectual crowd, but ministered to those people who society had rejected and who had an understanding of their own sinfulness. Paul grasped this when he told Timothy that, "Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."5 A condescending attitude toward Muslims continues to compound the sin that Abraham and Sarah committed when they refused to accept God's sovereign timing. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). "All" includes even Muslims whose Koran specifically denies that Jesus is the Son of God (Sura 112:2-3), who died for man's sin (Sura 4:157). Peacemakers set about to rectify the consequences of the sin initiated by Sarah by pointing others to the Prince of Peace who has made possible a end to mankind's enmity against God.
Galations 3:29 states, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Arabs are the descendents of Ishmael. Thus, Gentile Christians and Arab Muslims are descendents of the same patriarch. Any person who does not accept Christ is condemned. 'There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). There is no room for boasting as God exercises His sovereignty. All deserve Hell yet He still saves.
"But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation... For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:8-10,13)
Given these scriptures, what attitude should Christians have toward Muslims? If a Christian believes that they participated in saving themselves, then that Christian might arrogantly look down on Muslims that have refused to acknowledge Christ as Lord (and, shaking the dust off their feet, not bother casting pearls before swine). Conversely, if a Christian believes they had nothing to do with their own salvation, then that Christian, realizing a shared total depravity, may humbly ask God to save Muslims (but do nothing more since God has mercy on whom He wills -Romans 9:18- What difference would evangelizing make?) .
Christians are still compelled by the Great Commission, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." (Mathew 28:18-20). Acknowledging Romans 10:14-15, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace..." With a proper Biblical attitude, Christians can give a reason for the hope that is within them "with meekness and fear"(1 Peter 3:15). And with "power, love, and sound mind" (2 Tim.1:6).
1. In what verse did God tell Abram, "Then [the LORD] brought [Abram]
outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able
to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' "
a. Romans 3:23
b. Ephesians 2:8-9
c. 1 Timothy 1:15
d. Genesis 15:5
2. By nature, human beings are _______.
b. Partly Good
d. Mostly Good
3. The Arabs are descendents of
4. When we examine Christ's life on earth we find that He typically associated
a. The popular crowd
b. The intellectuals
c. Those who were socially rejected
d. The rich
1 The Holy Bible. NKJ Version. Genesis 15:5.
2The Holy Bible. NKJ Version. Genesis 16:2-4.
3 The Holy Bible. NKJ Version. Genesis 21:10.
4 The Holy Bible. NKJ Version. Exodus 20:5-6.
5The Holy Bible. NKJ Version. 1 Timothy 1:15.
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