Monday, March 18, 2013

Journal Entry: Dialogue With a Muslim Girl

This is a Journal entry from earlier this month. I ran into an old acquaintance I hadn't seen for a while, and debated theology with her. Just the privilege of being able to witness was an enjoyment. Here's what transpired:

Friday, March 8th 

      After dinner, I discussed with [an acquaintance who is a muslim woman]. I did my best to present core aspects of the Gospel in a way that she would understand. She agreed with me that sin merited eternal punishment. I managed to explain to her so that it apparently made sense that God could not merely forgive such sin, or He would be unjust. But she then said that muslims could go to hell temporarily, say for 5000 years, to be punished for their sin – I pointed out the contradiction but she responded that her view was that Allah would forgive the muslims, and thus their sins would only merit a temporary punishment, whereas unbelievers and hypocrites (those trying to take advantage of believing in order to have a license to sin – basically the corollary to Christianity’s concept of false converts) would still be punished for eternity. I tried to express to her that whether you believe or not doesn’t affect the severity of one’s sin, because the punishment is based on God’s holiness, not on whether someone believes. We covered this point more than once or twice. 

I hope something I said sticks with her, because this was one of the “sticking points,” where if she could just follow my logic, it would lead to a significant change in viewpoint by necessity.  There were a few other points like this. 

One interesting thing was that she made several references to what I perceived to be indicative of the concept of an intercessor. She believes that muslim believers, or Muhammad himself, can save others by their faith or forgiveness. I pointed out that the concept of an intercessor is Biblical, but that only a perfect person could be an intercessor, since anyone else is sinful and needs an intercessor themselves. I hope this also planted a seed. She followed me to that point but was unwilling to accept the conclusion I draw from it. A final thing she said, that I remember (we said many things, but these are the ones I am most pleased with myself for how I responded to them), was more of an aside than a main point – she said that if we forgive others, Allah will be forgiving toward us. Remembering the clip from the bonus video episode of Wretched on the DVD “The Biggest Question” that I had acquired and watched, I pointed out that this makes a mere dispenser out of God. It is not the case that God is unwilling to give us things, insisting that we do good before He rewards us. No, we can’t bribe God. Instead, God is willing to and continually lavishes good on us even though we don’t deserve it. This is the essence of Christianity. And I hope that my correction of her gave her something to think about.

She was flatly unwilling to believe anything I said and is very opposed to even considering Christianity (her major stumbling blocks were that she thinks God cannot die, and that in Islam, the greatest—and only unforgivable—sin is the joining of partners with Allah . That’s a reference to the Trinity. One of the fundamental truths about God—His identity as three persons in one being—is made the gravest sin in Islam. This is why it’s very hard for muslims to accept Christianity). Oh, and a last thing I remember – I didn’t answer this one fantastically well, but anyway – she brought up the fact that Islam teaches that Jesus wasn’t sacrificed on the Cross. There was a mistake. The Romans got the wrong guy. This is ridiculous. But even more, this attributes a colossal blunder to Allah—that the biggest (false, according to muslims) religion in the world, with billions of followers, was directly caused by Allah because of his deception. To rationalize why Allah would do this, she tried saying that Allah could do this because life is a test (she asked me what the meaning of life was in Christianity: I said ‘to glorify God,’ she said: to pass the test of faith to prove yourselves worthy to Allah), so apparently Allah tricking people is just to make sure they can pass some sort of a test. I don’t need to explain why Biblically that’s horrendous, but I didn’t do much better than say that that was a ridiculous thing (the mix-up at the Cross) in person. Though I did try to protest at the idea that Allah would deceive people, and attempted to shake her faith by mentioning that Allah directly fumbled into creation the greatest false religion in the world. I’ve already told you her answer to that. 

And with that, I think I’ve managed to master a concise report of our theological discussion. As I said, she was very unwilling to accept anything I said, though I hope she saw the logic in it. And maybe down the road, God will maneuver something in her circumstances so that it ‘clicks.’ I gave my customary farewell, saying I might see her around, and she should email, but she said she didn’t want to, and would only meet me by chance but not by design. Then she left with a comment “don’t bash my muslims,” and I said I don’t – maybe I should’ve not spoken, because she presumably would think that I was lying, there, because she clearly already believes I’m a “muslim-basher,” so that might have unintentionally hurt my witness. 

All in all, I’m pleased with the conversation. Her lack of faith is not in itself discouraging. She actually engages in dialogue. This is a far cry from the context that would require “shaking the dust off one’s feet,” because she’s not utterly rejecting your preaching. She’s willing to listen, but not to accept. But what unbeliever is? Mere unbelief is not something that should discourage witnessing. In contrast to the behavior of people on the [university's online discussion board], her interaction with me, despite her apparent dislike and aversion to seeing me if she can help it, is a breath of fresh air.
     That was my night. And I feel good.

~ Rak Chazak 

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