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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why I Am Not A Muslim

A friend took me aside recently and mentioned that her daughter was interested Islam.

She went on to say that the girl had been brought up in a solid Evangelical church, and showed every sign of continuing with her commitment to Christ when she left for college. However, my friend continued, see seems confused now  and wants to investigate other religious possibilities.

Of course, I asked, What happed?

She said, “Well, she met some really nice classmates who are Muslims and who seemed really committed to their faith and they seemed to have persuaded her that most Christians really don’t understand Islam. So, she wants me to buy her a Qur’an, now.”

I thought, but did not mention it, that this is typical for many young people in our secular universities today. Above all, they want to be fair and politically correct. So, as far as they are concerned they are willing to put their Christian faith on hold while they check out the claims of other religions, including Islam.

I suppose that approach is okay if one considers Christianity a buyers choice.

Christianity, however, is not a commodity for sale in a religious flea market. Jesus unequivocally said,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

That, to me, rules out approaching God through any route other than through Jesus.

So, on the basis of that exclusivity and other considerations I would like to boldly declare why I am not a Muslim.

I do this in hopes that others may find comfort and reassurance in what I write.

The Historical Jesus

Any reputable historian I know of, past or present, believes that Jesus was a real man, who was born in Bethlehem, lived in Nazareth, and died when crucified in Jerusalem.

The earliest records that we have outside of the New Testament documents come from the writings of Flavius Josephus (37 – c.100 AD) who purportedly wrote:

"About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is lawful to call him a man, for he was a performer of wonderful deeds, a teacher of such men as are happy to accept the truth. He won over many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the leading men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, as the prophets of God had foretold these and ten thousand other wonders about him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.”

Flavius Josephus, however, remained an orthodox Jew throughout his life, so it is believed that the statement that “He was the Christ” was in all likelihood was inserted into the text at a later date by an early Christian copyist. So, as David Couchman points out, it seems more likely that Josephus originally wrote something like this:

“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, for he was a performer of wonderful deeds, a teacher of such men as are happy to accept the truth. He won over many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the leading men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him at the first did not forsake him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.” [i]

Yet, even without these dubious embellishments the passage is clear in confirming that Jesus was person of historical vintage and, therefore, a real person who was a teacher and reportedly performed miracles; and that further, a large body of His disciples remained faithful following His.

This tradition continues, needless to say,  to this day.

So, his existence has never been in serious doubt by the vast majority of his followers or critics.

This goes for Muslims, also. They readily agree that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life and did many mighty miracles; but adamantly deny that He was Divine or that He died on the Cross.

So, it is apparent from the upstart that Christians and Muslim have points of agreement, as well as points of disagreement.

Now, let us look at some of these differences vis-à-vis with Islam to explore any possible ground of reconciliation between Christianity and Islam.

For the sake of expediency I have broken these difference down into the following categories: 1.) God;

This desire, however, does bring up a central question. That is, do we as Christians worship the same God as Muslims do? The answer is an unequivocal no, we do not. And, for anyone to insist differently simply is a sign of either rank ignorance or willful compromise.

As a matter of fact, this is the point of the whole debate. That is, we do not worship the same God.

How can we? We believe in the Trinity, the Cross and Resurrection, in the inerrancy and authenticity of our canon of Scripture, and the Muslim believes the complete opposite. So, we need to lay at rest once and of all that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Historically, we believe that God came down to earth in the form of a man. Muslims believe that is blasphemy. So, how then can we say we worship the same God? We can not!

Ontologically, God is a trinity—at least for the Christian. For the Muslim, God is an impenetrable unity known only in and through His expressed purposes.   It is totally impossible in Islam to know God. The best you can do is to know about Him. In Islam God is a friend to none, but an enemy to those that reject Muhammad and his Qur’an—that is the book that the prophet of Islam said God dictated to him through the agency of an angel.

No one, as far as I know ever saw this angel. So, believers must accept Muhammad’s word on this. That in itself does not disqualify the book, but when we contrast this with the heavenly visitation to the shepherds at Christ birth; or an angel no only appearing to Mary, but to Zechariah and others throughout Scripture to confirm God’s message, then Muhammad claims loose much of the force of his claims.

As the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia, hundreds of years before Muhammad,

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" — Holy Bible, Galatians 1:8 (NASB)

And again, centuries before the Qur’an was ever written, Paul affirmed that—

"Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds." —Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NASB)

Here is what one blogger[ii] wrote:

“Historians tell us Muhammad used to withdraw to a cave, spending days wrapped in his thoughts. He heard bells ringing and had ghostly visions. He thought he was demon possessed, until his wife reassured him he had become a prophet. Convinced of his status, he was intolerant of those who rejected him, assassinated those who criticized him, raided, looted, and massacred entire populations. He reduced thousands to slavery, raped, and allowed his men to rape female captives. All of this, he did with a clear conscience and a sense of entitlement.

“Muhammad believed in his own cause. He was so certain of the reality of his hallucinations that he expected everyone to believe too. He would make his Allah indignantly ask “What! Do you then dispute with him [Muhammad] as to what he saw?” (Q.53:12) This is psychopathology. Why should others believe in what he saw? Wasn't it up to him to prove what he saw was real? Only a narcissist expects others to believe in his claims without asking for evidence.

“Muhammad was an orphan. Spurned by his mother in his infancy and left in the care of a Bedouin couple, he had a loveless childhood. He then passed to the care of his grandfather and uncle who took pity on him and spoiled him. Not receiving love at a time he needed unconditional love and not receiving discipline when he needed to learn about boundaries, he developed narcissistic personality disorder, a trait that made him a megalomaniac bereft of conscience. He fantasized about unlimited power, expected praise and admiration, believed he was special, and expected others to believe him and go along with his ideas and plans. He took advantage of others, was jealous, yet believed others were jealous of him, and was extremely hurt when rejected, even killing those who deserted him. He lied and deceived, feeling entitled and justified in doing so. All these are traits of narcissistic personality disorder.”

Now, unfortunately for the Muslim the blogger is not too far off base, if any. Any competent psychiatrist would come to the same conclusion.

These are just some of the reasons that I am not a Muslim.