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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Islam in Australia

This past w/e a couple of friends joined me in a visit south-west of Sydney to the Muslem-dominated area of Auburn-Lakemba-Liverpool. The first evening, Friday, Samuel Green (Australian fellowship of evangelical students, or AFES) led a team of students in a debate with Abdullah Kunde. The topic was "God: Trinity or Tawheed?" The next day saw another debate, this time with Mustafa Arja: "Did Christ die for the sins of the world?" Hundreds of Muslem students, young and old, listened intently to impassioned debate. Christians were there in much smaller numbers. Where is the missionary spirit in our churches? Islam is right under our noses, yet we still ‘pass by the other side,’ having no oil and wine to pour in (Luke 10:34).

Tawheed declares the absolute unity and indivisibility of God, which is the fundamental doctrine of Islam. The doctrine of Father – Son -- Holy Spirit flies in the face of that, Abdullah contended. No wonder this is so, he said, seeing that the Bible is corrupted, whereas the Qur'an is perfectly preserved. The DVD of this debate is available. He cited the ‘corrupt texts’ of John 8:1-12 (the woman caught in adultery) and the longer ending of St. Mark 16: 9 – 20 (being no part of the original Gospel - therefore by definition, corrupt). Compare the Koran, which he said has been standardised to one Text, so everyone can confidently point to the Text and say: “this is the Word of God,” without any doubt. So holy is this book that no criticism of it is allowed! Whereas Christian scholars constantly pull apart the words of the Bible, until the young Christian wonders what it is he actually believes! Do you think this is a powerful argument? perhaps you would like to comment below? If “the earliest and best manuscripts do not have these verses,” why are they in the Text at all? Either the scholarship which relegates them to the ‘margin,’ is unsound, or Islam has an understandable advantage over us here?

Samuel Green (AFES) also debated with Mustafa Arja: "Did Christ die for the sins of the world?" Mustafa’s foundation plank was Sura 4, 157 in the Koran. This denies Christ’s crucifixion, and therefore his atoning sacrifice, and resurrection, claiming instead that someone else died in his place. Also, because God knew from the beginning we were going to fall, He therefore does not expect perfection from us. Then again, how can it be a just act for the innocent to die for the guilty? As to the way of salvation, he said, the Bible is inconsistent because it teaches justification by works for the most part, whereas the Apostle Paul taught another way. As to the Bible’s authority, Samuel emphasised we accept not just some of the OT prophets, but all of them, as being the words of God not man. Isaiah 53 was a shared focus. It predicts a future individual servant of Jehovah who will be cut off (i.e. die, 53:8) as an unblemished (in the moral sense) Lamb-sacrifice. Compare Jesus who showed moral perfection, with Mohammed who admitted his sinfulness and needed to ask for forgiveness (Suras, 40:55; 41:19; 48:2)

Many arguments were raised and discussed on both sides. Keeping the channels open with our Muslem friends is so important. They claim to accept the authority (up to a point!) of the five books of Moses and the four Gospels, so we have a shared basis from which to start discussing the Faith. Having said that, please consider the import of KJV 1 Cor. 2:14, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. How does that insight affect the way we approach a discussion with a Muslem as to what is true and life-changing about God and what He has revealed?