Last week, when I was riding the Grey Hound from Dallas to Houston, adjacent to me there were a couple of Muslim ladies who were arguing with Christian guy about religion. I felt an urge to even out the numbers and couldn’t help stepping in to join the debate.
There was a point during the debate when I said that the Quran gave a very unique place to Jesus by claiming that He was sinless and that his birth was of a virgin womb. The ladies did not know which verse I was talking about so I told them that I would post the verse I was talking about in this blog for them to read. My initial, impulsive thought was to get their email ids and send the ids to them, but then I realized that sharing emails was a very imprudent idea. So here, I am writing this blog to let them know the verse from Quran I was quoting. I gave them this blog address. I hope they would check this sometime.
Below is the verse.
And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East, and had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. She said: Lo! I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art God-fearing. He said: I am only a messenger from thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a FAULTLESS son. She said: How can I have a son when NO MORTAL HATH TOUCHED ME, NEITHER HAVE I BEEN UNCHASTE? He said: So it will be. Thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. And it will be that We may make of him a revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained. And she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place. Surah 19:16-22.
My point was this. Quran states that God alone is faultless. Quran says that Jesus is Faultless. So Jesus has to be God. I don’t think even the Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) has claimed to be faultless.
I enjoyed the debate. One of the ladies was a Christian who converted to Islam 3 years ago. Her problem with Christianity she said was the it was too vague and did not give her answers. The trigger to her abandoning Christianity was the lack of love in the life of a committed Christian who was close to her. It is understandable, after all, it is human nature that the ‘followers’ of a religion abuse it. On the other hand, it is human nature that ‘spectators’ of a religion should be disgruntled with religion because weakness exhibited by those that are religious.
As in any game, it is easy to be a ‘spectator’, it is difficult to actually be playing the game. I am reminded of what G.K. Chesterton said, “Christianity wasn’t tried and found wanting, but it has been found difficult and left untried”. It is not an easy thing to be a Christian. There aren’t a set of rules that one can follow to claim to be a good Christian.
In fact one of the primary objection of the other lady who was a born Muslim was that Christianity seemed to make salvation too simple. All one had to do she believed was to just believe that Jesus died for everyone sin and then that gives Christians a ‘ticket’ to Heaven. If only Christianity has been that simple, then even the Devil would become a Christian. Christians of this centaury in trying to make Christianity appealing to people of other religions mistakenly portray it as a simple and cheap ‘belief system’.
The essence of the Christian message isn’t just about a ‘belief’ in some Truth, but in a REGENERATION of the heart which turns from the old ways of life to become holy reflecting God’s holiness. Goodness may be attained by doing good works, but holiness cannot be attained by doing good works. Holiness is not about works, but it is about the fundamental nature of the person. Holiness is not a state of not doing something wrong, it is a state of not ever having an inclination to do anything wrong. Holiness of this kind is state of being which is required us to have communion with God. The Christian idea of this regeneration of the heart is about attaining holiness, the purpose of holiness is to make it possible for us to be able to have a relationship with God whose nature is to be holy. The purpose of having a relationship with God is to glorify God. Because of these reasons, Christianity is not about a set of rules or procedures. It is a lot more, it is about maintaining a relationship, something that man finds very difficult to do. To follow a rule is very easy, to be in a relationship is a lot more difficult. Hence Christianity is a lot more difficult than it appears. It is precisely because of this reason why it is a lot more fulfilling a well, because a relationship is more fulfilling than a ‘rule’. On the other hand, it is also because of the relationship aspect of Christianity that some people leave it untried.
The lady also thought that Christians imagining up the idea of the ‘Trinity’ was non-sensical. Yes, it is true that Christians imagined-up the word ‘Trinity’, but to relegate it as non-sense is to completely misunderstand what trinity means. Trinity is the word the Christians use to describe the multiple facets of Godhead. There are better Christians that I who have written about what trinity means, any true inquirer of Truth can understand the idea of a Trinitarian God for what it means, after all the word ‘Trinitarian’ is an adjective that helps understand the ‘paradox’ that is evident in the Godhead.
She also said that the Bible was inconsistent with itself. For example, she said, “ if God was God that He wouldn’t have had to ask Adam where he was hiding?”. I think the answer is this, if a father were to talk to a his kid with the intellectual prowess, then the whole point of talking to the kid is lost. If God were to use all of his omniscience in his conversations with His prophets, then the point of conversation would be lost completely, it would be like God talking only to Himself. When God talks with man, He has to come down to the level of man to talk to him.
Looking back at the debate I had, I am having a renewed understanding of the scriptures and human nature. I realize how easy it is to comment about what appears wrong and inconsistent about the other person’s scriptures by taking a few verses, out of the context, and then posing questions which simply belie a complete misunderstanding of the history, the culture and the intent with which the Scriptures were written.
Christian experts and Islamic experts have been debating with each other about inconsistencies in each other’s scriptures. So what does a person do? What does a person believe in? Does one believe in the Christian experts who say that the Bible is true? Or the Islamic experts that the Quran is true? I don’t think both can be true, only one has to be the truth. How can one get to Truth?
I believe that Truth can only be revealed by God, no man can reveal Truth to anyone else (though men can talk about truth to each other). There is no Truth apart from God. So to reveal Truth God has to reveal Himself to man. I believe that He reveals Himself to any man or woman who is ‘truly’ seeking the Truth. That person will get closer to God.