Worlds Apart: An Intellectual Conversation between Religions (part II)

…We trekked on, consuming issues such as the Shiite/Sunni dichotomy, the Iranian Revolution, the kinesiology of prayer, and Bathism. The doctrine of the afterlife, according to the Qur’an, was of particular interest to me, so I inquired. According to Kia, the Qur’an explains that those who believe in the one, true God (Allah), those who believe in the “last day”, those who exhibit works of righteousness…anyone who fully submits themselves to God…these people have nothing to fear (with regards to destiny). Kia explained that the doctrine within the Qur’an assures this person’s salvation. An enormous exception to this mandate is the person who believes the prophet Muhammad to be a liar; this person is not subject to the mercy of Allah. I was illuminated to the idea of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others enjoying the fruit of eternity together. Despite this tolerant notion, the previously stated stipulations are without dispute or debate. One is not required to be a graduate of the finest Protestant seminary to know that Christianity does not boast of such “equality”. The doctrine of the Christian faith explains that saving grace was provided by Christ when he willingly sacrificed his life for the sins of humanity, past and present. The wrath of God was appeased by Christ’s impeccable blood. This sacrifice is sufficient to cover the sin of any individual who declares Jesus as the Son of the living God, believes in his accomplishments through the cross and resurrection, and commits their being to His Lordship. This person is promised God’s grace, and this grace is available to all. According to Christianity, the requirements of salvation are nothing more and nothing less. Obviously, the beliefs of Islam and Christianity, with regard to the afterlife, are polarized. In my worldview, Kia’s convictions of truth are not sufficient for God’s grace and mercy. After hearing my friend’s description of Islamic dogma, I was naturally inclined to ask if I was subject to Allah’s mercy. After all, I can boast in one God, belief in the “last day”, works of righteousness, and submission to a sovereign creator. Kia’s response was unexpected and nearly offensive.

Kia respectfully explained that to associate divinity to any one person is a violation of monotheism. Essentially, Muslims believe that the doctrine of the trinity exposes Christians as polytheists. It should be noted that the word “trinity” never occurs in Christian scriptures; rather, it was used to articulate the three manifestations of the one, true God by early church fathers. The most widely used metaphor with regards to the idea of the trinity is that of H20. H20 can take on the form of water, vapor, and ice. Regardless of its form, it still is composed of the basic elements, hydrogen and oxygen. In the same way, Jesus is believed to be God revealed in flesh, one hundred percent man and one hundred percent God. Similarly, the Spirit of God that was given to believers after Christ’s ascension is the unseen presence of the sovereign Creator that true followers of Christ possess. In the eyes of a conservative evangelical, this is no violation of monotheism. Rather, it speaks to the generosity of the supreme deity because he has provided his essence both physically and spiritually for those who follow Him. This is problematic for the devout Muslim. Although never explicitly articulated, Kia communicated that the Christian, in his opinion, can not boast of belief in the one true God.

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One Response

  1. “anyone who fully submits themselves to God…these people have nothing to fear (with regards to destiny)”

    One of my favorite things to do with a Muslim speaking of this assurance of their submission is to go through Matthew 5 & 6 with them.

    A lot like going “through the law,” Jesus shows that true submission is a heart thing, and none of us are truly submitted by ourselves, nor are we as submitted as we think we are. I’ve yet to see a Muslim not balk Jesus’ words of Truth in those chapters.

    It’s interesting that he’s conservative enough to make sure you know you’re an infidel for believing Jesus to be divine.

    Good posts.

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