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A Christian Explains His Faith to Muslims - Understanding Christianity

A Christian Explains His Faith to Muslims - Understanding Christianity


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Published by Dangelooo
An excellent explanation of what is the Christian faith





An excellent explanation of what is the Christian faith






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Published by: Dangelooo on Nov 16, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Muslims often ask, why the need for a human author? Is God not capable of
revealing God’s message directly to a prophet, who then conveys that message
exactly to mankind? Then a religious community would not have to depend upon
studies and critical analyses to arrive at the meaning which God intended. The
message would be clearly presented by the prophet, and mankind would have only
either to accept and obey, or else to refuse the message.

In this attitude towards divine revelation, we find a basic difference between Islam
and Christianity. For a Muslim, the Qur’an does not point to some other act of divine
revelation beyond itself. The Qur’an is God’s revelation, God’s message in clear
speech in its final, perfect form. The Qur’an does not intend to lead the believer to an
experience of divine revelation beyond itself.

This is not the way in which Christians regard the Bible. For Christians, God’s
fullest, most perfect revelation occurred, not in a book, but in a man. Christians
believe that it is the man Jesus Christ who reveals God, who perfectly expresses in
his life and person what God wants to say to mankind. For Christians, the Bible
always points beyond itself. It always intends to form our faith in Jesus and what
God is saying to mankind through him. The New Testament authors were men trying
to communicate the meaning of their experience of Jesus who lived and suffered and
died, and whom they believed that God had raised from the dead. This human
testimony is essential to the nature of the Christian Scriptures.

This brings us to another difference between the Christian and the Islamic approach
to revelation. Christians speak not only of God’s revealing God’s message to
mankind, but of God revealing God’s own self in human history. The books of the
Bible announce and interpret this selfrevelation of God. God reveals who God is and
the kind of divinity that God is, that is, God’s qualities and attributes. God reveals
how God acts towards the whole universe and towards mankind. God reveals a moral
will for mankind and, most of all, God’s will to save. One might say that the Bible is
the story of God revealing God’s own self as One who saves.

Like Islam, Christian faith teaches that God’s essence is hidden from mankind. God
is far too exalted, too great, for humans to understand God’s inner nature. That is far
beyond human capability. We only know about God what God tells and shows us

about God’s self. Even this partial selfrevelation, adapted to the limitations of our
human ability to understand, is by necessity wrapped in mystery. Christians are
neither surprised nor disturbed to find that our most careful theological formulations
can never do justice to who God is. When Christians say that God’s nature is a
mystery, it is not because we are looking for an easy way out of a theological
discussion, but a confession of God’s greatness, His height and depth which
surpasses human understanding.

Muslims and Christians find that we have much in common in what we believe that
God has taught about God’s nature and activities. In the Bible, God is revealed as a
living God (in contrast to the idols that cannot speak or act.) God is the sovereign
master of history, the Creator who made all that exists, including humankind. God
was active at the beginning of human history and accompanies people in all the
events of history by God’s wisdom and grace. God is the final goal towards which
history is moving. Thus, Christians and Muslims recognize God as the Sovereign
Lord of life. Through those given the grace of prophecy, God reveals His moral will
for humankind, by which each individual shall be one day judged; hence Christians
recognize God as Judge.

Gathering together all these affirmations, the Bible teaches that God is a saving God,
(in contrast to the idols that cannot save). In fact, God is the one and only saving
Lord who actively enters into human history to exercise His will and power to save.

In the Old Testament, the central event is the Exodus, by which God saved his
people, bringing them out of slavery into freedom, forming them into a people who
would do His will, and making an eternal covenant with them. God’s saving power
was not shown only once, in bringing the Jewish people out of Egypt, but is a
promise for all time, symbolized in the covenant God made with the Jews on Mount
Sinai in which “He would be their God and they would be His people.”

In the New Testament, it is Jesus who reveals the saving power of God. Christians
believe that Jesus is the man in whom the fullness of God’s revelation dwells. When
Christians want to learn about God and God’s saving deeds, and how God wants us
to live on this earth, we look what God has revealed in Jesus. We study Jesus’ life to
come to know him better. We study his teachings and his example in order to learn
how we should live. We reflect upon his suffering, death, and resurrection to find the
proof of God’s will and power to save.

The Christian authors of the New Testament believed that God saved Jesus, raising
him from death to new life, and that the Spirit of the risen Christ remained with them
and would guide them down through history. For Jews, the central event of human
history is the Exodus and the covenant made on Sinai. For Muslims it is the
revelation of the Qur’an through Muhammad, God’s messenger. For Christians the
central event of history is God’s making His eternal message human in the man
Jesus (which we call the “Incarnation”) and God’s saving deed in bringing Jesus
from death to life (which we call the “Redemption.”) In Chapter III, I will look more
carefully at these basic elements of Christian faith.

Before we look at the content of the Bible, I will summarize here some of the
contrasting ways in which Muslims and Christians understand divine revelation and
the inspiration of Scripture.





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