The Christian-Islamic Debate: God as Father
by Lonnie Lane
What I am about to say is not a political issue, but a profoundly spiritual issue. The presence of Islam is increasing in North America. A Million Man Muslim March is planned for July 4th to meet in Washington, D.C. That the Judeo-Christian form of democracy upon which America was founded, and the ideology of (Radical) Islam are diametrically opposed is secondary to how absolutely conflicting the Qur’an and the Bible are. The Qur’an quotes a good deal of the Bible, both Old and New Covenants, selectively and with significant distortions. The claim of the Qur’an is the Christians and the Jews got together and decided to corrupt the Word of God (like that would happen). The Islamic belief is God sent Mohammed as the final prophet six hundred years after Yeshua to straighten it out. It behooves us as believers to be aware of the differences so that we are not taken unaware when confronted with Islamic perspective and doctrines about our faith.
By way of instruction, I will share with you a significant conversation I had with a Muslim friend recently. I consider him someone whom I respect. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not anti-Muslim, or anti-Arab, by any means. I am against an ideology that is against all that I believe in and stand for, and does not have truth at its core.
My Muslim friend and I met several months ago and periodically have occasion to talk, always about the issues of Christianity vs. Islam. He is a delightful young man in his thirties who is extremely well read in both English and Arabic, and is fervent about Islam and the Prophet. He believes that nothing bad can be said about Mohammed, that Islam is the best religion in the world, and at the same time, detests the radical Muslims who espouse violence. He left his country in the Middle East a little more than a year ago with his family in order to get away from the war. He is a thoughtful, peace loving man who loves his wife and son. He has a distinct distaste for arguments or any kind of conflict. He is truly the picture of a peace loving and philosophical Muslim.
So you can imagine that our conversations have been ones of utmost respect. I have found that Muslims are most interested in discussing the issues of religion, some to convince you of the benefits of Islam. Isn’t that what we as believers want to do as well? I suggest you do not treat them with anything other than respect, as you will no doubt receive from them. In our last conversation he was saying we both believe in God so we’re the same: “You believe in red and I believe in blue both are colors, so what is the problem?” he said. But I explained that his blue denies that my red is really red. Looking at the fact that he truly believes that Islam is the best religion in the world, please understand there is much philosophically to be admired in the Qur’an, especially in the earlier writings that quote Mohammed before he became militant against those he called the “infidels.” Mohammed began as a man trying to bring an understanding of monotheism. When he was rejected by the Jews and Christians as not being a valid prophet, he began to see them as his enemies. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies (Matt. 5:44). Mohammed says to kill the infidels, those who do not believe as he promotes. Jesus, on the other hand said, “I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…. Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:27, 35). This, to say the least, makes these two doctrines diametrically in opposition.
The Qur’an quotes a good deal of the Bible, both Old and New Covenants, selectively and with significant distortions.
My friend would say the fact that Mohammed and his followers were able to bring about the Islamic empire, bringing nation upon nation to Islam over time validates his teachings. I see it differently. I see they accomplished the feat militarily, imposing Islam upon those who were conquered. This, incidentally, is how many of the nations in the Middle East that are now Islamic became Islamic.
Perhaps because I had been fasting I had an ‘edge’ to my side of the conversation but here is what I presented to my friend. His responses are in italics.
“You say you believe in Jesus but you do not believe in the Virgin Birth, or that Jesus is the Son of God.” Yes, we do not believe that, because God cannot have a relationship with a woman to make a baby and God does not have a son. “You also believe that Jesus was taken off the cross and someone else died in His place, yes?” Yes, that is what we believe. He was a prophet and a good man so God would not make Him die on a cross. He was not crucified but God took him to heaven. “So you do not believe that His blood paid for sins in the way the Old Testament says that blood is necessary for the payment for sins.” No, we do not believe anything about blood. “And you do not believe in the Resurrection either, correct?” We do not believe in the resurrection. “So it seems that we do not really believe in the same thing.”
“Now let me ask you this. You say that Islam is the best religion in the world.” Yes, yes. “Do you know that God has an enemy? “ Yes, satan. The devil is God’s enemy. “And you know then that he wants to take over as God. He wants to be God. And he wants to keep people from God.” Yes, I know that. “If you were the devil and you wanted to keep people from believing the very things that God has given to mankind in order that they would be able to be with Him forever, wouldn’t you devise the best religion in the world to keep people from that truth?”
When I said that, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit like a light beam had just dropped down and surrounded us as if we were about to be “beamed up” by Scotty on Star Trek. I felt a holy hush come and I knew I had to say no more. After a moment he responded simply with, “Wow… …wow!” I knew it was the end of the conversation. I just needed to leave him alone with God. I hugged him and told him I love him, which he knows is true and he waved to me as he drove off (we had been standing outside.) He called recently and we did not discuss our previous conversation but talked about meeting again somewhere. Please pray for Lonnie’s Arab friend, God knows his name. It has been estimated by ministries to Muslims that it takes a number of interactions before they realize the truth in what’s being said to them.
I tell you this so should you meet a Muslim and you can find a way to respectfully say something to him or her if the Lord opens the door to such conversation. Perhaps this defines some of the issues that need to be dealt with. The primary issue, though, is God being a Father and Yeshua being His Son. An acquaintance of mine, Jamal Jivanjee is a former Muslim. He writes an interesting blog called Illuminate. He addressed this very aspect of the ongoing Muslim-Christian dialog of God as Father. Rather than try and explain what he’s said, I will share his words.
The primary issue is God being a Father and Yeshua being His Son.
“My first memory of being assaulted with Islamic ideology occurred around the time I was six years old. The memory is still very vivid in my mind. My dad took my brother and I to a Mosque/ Masjid in central Ohio early one Sunday morning. Although Friday is the Muslim equivalent of the Sabbath in which Muslims attend the Mosque to pray and hear a sermon, many Muslim communities in the U.S. hold events on Sunday mornings for cultural reasons.
On this particular Sunday, I remember entering the Mosque and instantly smelling fresh coffee. At one time, the Mosque had been a grand mansion. It had four floors, and an elegant staircase. It looked massive to the perspective of a six year-old. I remember seeing a line at the food table of men and women filling their plates with pastries. My brother and I were given styrofoam cups of punch and a plate full of doughnuts. We were excited as we were ushered upstairs to our classrooms with the other children.
I remember sitting around a large rectangular table stretching to sit up straight so I could see everything. (I was pretty small for my age) Our teacher that day was a middle aged balding man. He looked scholarly with his glasses draped around his nose. He instructed us to open our workbooks. That’s when the assault began. Although what was shared was only a few sentences, it did deep damage to me. The first and major pillar of Islam is a teaching called the ‘Tawhid’ which unpacks the Islamic teaching of the ‘oneness’ of God found in Sura 112 from Islam’s holy book called the Qur’an.
Basically speaking, this pillar of Islam teaches that there is one God, and that he does not have any ‘partners’, so to speak. This might sound harmless on the surface, but when this teaching is unpacked with other Islamic verses that explain further, it is truly devastating. The next words that came out of my teacher’s mouth left a deep void in my soul. I will never forget it. My teacher looked at all of us with serious intensity and said the following: “God is not a Father and He has no Son.”
Those words pierced my soul. Even writing these words now brings back a deep internal pain that has affected me since that day. As a six year old, those words seemed violent, although I had no idea why. This teacher went on to explain, in words that a six year old could understand, that it was a serious sin to call any man the ‘Son of God’. To think of God as a Father who has a Son is to attribute human attributes to God. This, according to Islamic ideology, is the worst thing a person could do. When I went home from the mosque that day, something felt different. My heart felt empty as if someone had broken in and had stolen something.
Do you see how significant this is? God is, by very nature and character, a Father. God has always been a Father from Eternity past, before time even began. Why has God always been a Father? Because God has always had a Son! Likewise, the Son has always been the Son because He has always has a Father. The Son can only be a Son if He has a Father. Likewise, God the Father is not truly a Father unless he has a Son. The union & love between the Father & the Son is an eternal one (John 17:5, 24). The Father & the Son are eternal. They have no beginning, and will have no end.
According to the scriptures, humans have been created in the image of God. NOTHING good originates with us as created beings. God is the source and originator of all things. The concept of Father and Son originate in the character and nature of God. We as humans can only understand and demonstrate family because God Himself exists as a family within Himself.
The understanding of God as a Father & God as a Son is a revolutionary understanding. One of the main focal points of Jesus’ ministry was to reveal the character and nature of God as a loving Father. This was a concept of God that was not fully understood previous to Jesus’ ministry. Jesus referred to His Father in a way that no Jew before Him would have dared. Jesus intimately referred to God as ‘Abba.’ This literally can be translated as ‘Daddy.’ This was blasphemous to the Jewish religious leaders of His day, and it is also blasphemous to Muslims to hear things like this as well.
Jesus came to bring us into the family of God. It took the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and bring us into Himself. By being placed ‘in Christ’, we now know God the Father the same way Jesus knows Him, as Daddy!”
By being placed ‘in Christ’, we now know God the Father the same way Jesus knows Him, as Daddy!”
So you can see how far the devil has gone in devising a world-wide religion in which even thinking God has a Son is considered so much of a sin that Muslims are afraid to even consider it. Islam is not the only religion which eliminates the very nature of God as Father and gives no place for the Son and His atoning blood through His death on the cross. The idea that all paths lead to God is not true, but the devil would have man believe it. No religion deals with sin so that the sin nature of man is eradicated, only God could do that which He did through His Son. Sinful man cannot make a way to sinlessness!
All religions, including Islam, are based on what one does, while faith in Messiah Yeshua alone is based upon, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Satan would have mankind continue to try and work their way to heaven while never getting there on their own. Yeshua made it clear that “no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Yeshua, in knowing He was going to die and then be resurrected and restored to the right hand of the Father, prayed this prayer: “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). With these words He established Himself as the Son of God in eternity past and eternity future, if I can use those terms. The glory is God’s alone Yeshua as the Son of God is God!
In this day, there are literally millions of Muslims who have come to the Lord through dreams and visions as well as cable TV and the internet broadcasting Christian programs, including Sid’s shows. God is reaching out to the Muslims in unprecedented numbers at this present time. Only God knows what the future brings for their nations with all the wars going on in the Middle East. He is gathering up those whose hearts are to serve God as they understand Him. Since He knows all of our hearts, He is making a way for those who truly seek God with pure hearts to find Him as Jamal has. Let’s be sure not to hate the persons, but to pray for the Muslims that they might be free of the ideology that brings such destruction, including to their own people. Most Muslims are peace loving people, just like you and me. If we’re to pray for our enemies, how much more for those who are caught in a doctrine of error that brings them no assurance of heaven. Abraham’s sons need to come to God, both Isaac and Ishmael, both Jacob and Esau, the Jews and the Arabs. The Father heart of God no doubt shares this longing with Abraham.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2011.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.