A Lengthy Discussion with Two Muslims Friends
I went to see some friends and Abd started out by saying, How difficult was the life of Job! He had scars and sores and he lost everything! We talked about Job a while, and then I asked (knowing that the Qur'an says very little about Job) where he heard this. He said, I read it in the Bible you gave me. I didn't know he had been reading it. We discussed redemption a little: the idea of God making good from an evil situation.
I have two Muslim friends with whom I got into a rather lengthy conversation with yesterday. Abd asked me point blank, do you say that Jesus is God? It is practice among evangelical missionaries today to not answer such a question in the affirmative. But I am becoming increasingly disappointed with that approach. I answered in the affirmative. He quoted the verse of the Qur'an about God not begetting nor being begotten. I agreed with the verse, saying that in the biological sense it was absolutely true, and that is what the Qur'an was talking about. So Christians and Muslims both agree with that statement if understood in context. I explained that as a Christian I do not limit the power of God--God is all powerful. Therefore if God wills to become human he may. In other words, as a Christian I really believe that Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), unlike Muslims who circumscribe and limit God's ability to reveal himself.
What ensued then was a discussion on the Trinity. The Trinity is another one of those topics that missionaries today tend to stay away from, most of them, to be honest, don't have the theological training to really understand the doctrine, much less explain it to others, much less defend it. I said that we believe in the Trinity because the Gospel says that God is love. For God to be love from all eternity means that the essence of God is relational: the essence of God is nothing other than the relationality of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I recited the Orthodox phrase several times: Allah Waahid, mutasawwi fil jawhar, wa ghayr munfasil: One God, co-equal in essence, inseparable. God is eternally loving, and indeed God is love, something that we can believe because we believe in the Trinity. It is not a quality of God, but the very being of God.
Whereupon I was asked about the Holy Spirit, and I replied that our souls are sick and broken, and God desiring us to be holy and righteous, but knowing that we are not able to accomplish this by our own power, has offered to give us his Spirit to dwell within us and empower us to be righteous.
This was a fairly lengthy conversation. We talked about lots of other things. But it was a pretty all-encompassing sort of discussion. Both of these guys are really thinking about the claims of the Gospel and Jesus.