Jesus in the Qur’an

16 09 2014

Just after commemorating 9/11, I received this email from a concerned Christian:

Jim, I see much error in your theology based on what I read on your Q and A and blog. I guess the question is do you focus on peace making or true repentance leading to salvation? I also am concerned by your view of Islam as worshiping the same God as Christians as well as your implication that the Koran is a holy book. Islam is demonic as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:19-20. Unless Muslims repent and turn to The Lord Jesus Christ, they will spend eternity in hell. This appears to be another gospel.

Thank you for your question and comments. I know many wonderful Christians who would agree with the views you’ve stated. I also know many wonderful Muslims who believe that Christians follow a false god and unless they convert to Islam Christians will spend eternity in hell. Even in our “rejection” of each other we stumble upon our commonalities!

Regarding my view of Allah, I think I’ve expressed it well in a previous Q&A post. I would disagree with you that I Corinthians 10:19-20 should be applied to the monotheistic God as viewed by the Jews or the Muslims. The context of this Bible passage is Greek polytheistic worship. Paul never referred to the Jews’ God as a “demon” even though the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah. Muslims have a very similar God-concept as the Jews AND they accept Jesus as Messiah—they just tend to overlook the life-changing implications of relating to Messiah as the Savior of the world.

Many Muslims, especially those who don’t speak Arabic as their native language, do not read the Qur’an in order to hear God’s voice speak through the written words spiritual truths to guide their lives, the way most evangelical Christians would approach the Bible. Instead, many Muslims trust their teachers to choose the most important parts of the Qur’an to teach. Because of this, unfortunately in my thinking, what the Qur’an teaches about Jesus is rarely emphasized as an essential truth all Muslims need for their daily lives.

Here are just a few things the Qur’an teaches about Jesus—

  • He had the most unique miracle birth in history, born to the Virgin Mary [19:16-22] by the Holy Spirit, and made a sign to all the peoples of the world [21:91]
  • He is called the “Word of God” and the “Spirit of God,” exalted in both this world and the next [3:45; 4:171]; no other prophet receives such exalted titles, titles which speak to Jesus’ relating to men’s spirits in 2 amazing ways
  • He creates life, heals disease, knows the secrets of men’s hearts, and even raises the dead [3:49]; this power Jesus demonstrates over sickness, Satan, and death is unparalleled in Muslim history, and many Muslims are discovering that Jesus will still do these miracles for them today!
  • He is the only sinless man to have ever lived [19:19]—Christians can see the significance of this in Jesus’ willing, sacrificial death on the cross to fulfill what the Prophet John spoke, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Sometimes it is hard for Muslims to see the significance of Jesus’ sinlessness.
  • Both the Qur’an [43:61] and the Hadith* (the traditions and sayings of Muhammad) point to Jesus as the one God chooses to return to Earth and become the Judge of the Final Day. The unique aspects of Jesus mentioned above qualify him uniquely to fulfill this role of which no one else is worthy. [*El Bukhari’s collection of hadith includes this one: “The Last Hour will not come until the Son of Mary come down as the just Judge.”]

In my experience in sitting through hundreds of Islamic events and hearing sermon after sermon, Jesus is rarely mentioned; when he is mentioned, the teacher quickly qualifies who Jesus ISN’T rather than honestly meditating on who Jesus IS using verses like I mention above.

I believe that the God of the Bible is the same God both Jews and Muslims are seeking. The Bible tells us that the Messiah will be a “stumbling block” to many. To the Jews, Jesus is “the stone the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” To the Muslims, Jesus is not rejected, but I feel like they stumble over him and thus miss all that the Messiah of the world is offering them.

I offer these views humbly, knowing that you and I and my Jewish friends and my Muslim friends are all seeking to be closer to God, to understand His truth, to walk on the straight path. May God grant us all Light to guide our own next steps on thisParrinder book journey to Him.

For what I consider a scholarly and fair treatment of Jesus in the Qur’an, try Geoffrey Parrinder’s book, available at amazon.com.





Ray Rice and the NFL–Punishment versus Compassionate Help

15 09 2014

Ray Rice   One of the biggest stories in the news right now is about the professional football player, Ray Rice. Video tape shows him back in March brutally punching out his fiancé (now his wife) and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator.

The response of the National Football League at first was to suspend Ray for two games. After a deafening chorus of protests, the NFL changed their punishment to suspend Ray indefinitely, and his club fired him. Much of the discussion has been centered on the NFL’s poor first response, and on how harshly the NFL should come down on domestic violence.

Now I normally blog about peacemaking between Christians and Muslims—what does this case from football have to do with peacemaking?

The answer is, no matter what the problem is, harsh punishments or violent responses don’t get to the root issues. They make the punisher feel self-righteously justified and, in this NFL case, distanced from the perpetrator. But they don’t solve the problem.

Now Ray Rice is unemployed and rejected by his community. How will that help him overcome the anger that is stored up inside him? Does this provide more protection or hope for his wife? Aren’t we setting Ray up his frustration and hopelessness to explode again?

Here is what I think the NFL should have done—the commissioner should have called a press conference and announced the following:

“Ladies and gentlemen, a tragedy has occurred within the NFL family, as one of our own has been found guilty of domestic violence. The NFL does not condone any kind of domestic violence, and has taken quick and decisive action.

“I met personally with the player, Ray Rice. I met with his wife, the victim. I met with the owner and coach of his team. Then all of us came together to discuss the best way to proceed forward.

“Ray’s wife did not want to file criminal charges against her husband. If she had, we would have supported that. We did not try to influence her decision at all. Since she chose not to, we want to support her with the strongest possible motivation and help for Ray to overcome the internal issues that led him to domestic violence and ensure it never happens again.

“All of us, including Ray, his wife, the team’s owner, his coach, and myself representing the NFL, have agreed upon the following plan for helping Ray:

“1) Ray will be suspended from practicing with the team for a period of 60 days in order for him to focus his time on personal and marital counseling. After 60 days if his counselor and wife recommend it, he may rejoin the team’s practice sessions as long as they don’t conflict with his ongoing counseling schedule.

“2) Ray will be suspended from playing with the team for a period of 1 season. He will remain a part of the team, and receive only the base salary of the lowest paid member of the team for this year. The balance of his unpaid salary will be used for counseling for Ray and his wife.

“3) Ray has 10 days to submit to us his preferred counselor or combination of counselors for approval by the NFL, his team and his wife. If he does not submit this request within 10 days, or if he does not attend the counseling sessions scheduled for him, he will lose his job with the football team and will not be allowed to be picked up by another team until the NFL gives approval for reinstatement, which will be based upon our assessment of his seriousness in resolving the anger issues that led to domestic violence.

“The message that we want to send to this nation is that domestic violence is a horrible tragedy that results from someone who doesn’t handle anger appropriately. The NFL will not field players who abuse others, especially their own loved ones. But we are a community who cares deeply about our players and are committed to helping them face their inner struggles and overcome them in appropriate ways, so that in next 50 years of life for our players, like Ray Rice, domestic violence will never be an issue for them and their families again.”

Can you see the difference between punishment, which isolates and impoverishes, exacerbating the very causes of the violence, versus caring enough for the perpetrator to help him overcome the root issues that caused the violence? When prisoners get released from Guantanamo Bay, do you think they are likely to hate America more or less? Violence comes from anger, from hatred, so the answer to it must be to overcome the anger and hatred with compassionate help in the context of a supportive community.

For those of you wondering when the sequel to my novel will come out, I’m working on it! And it addresses some of these topics above. More news on that later…

Today, I encourage you to show love to your family, and be willing to ask for help for any inner issues that are building inside of you before you explode and hurt someone you care about. Peace.