Monday, April 02, 2012

Allah: A Christian Response

So I mostly read that book some of you asked about "Allah: A Christian Response" by Miroslav Volf. Some of you might find it interesting. It asserts and tries to philosophically prove to Christians that Muslims and Christians worship the same God and that the Trinity does not mean a division of this unity in any sense - but honestly, as hard as I tried to understand, the arguments of Trinity still did not make any bit of sense to me. He also talks about the commonalities and differences in the understanding of God in terms of attributes, particularly the concept of God IS love in Christianity vs. God is lovING in Islam. I understood his arguments up to the point of the final assertion and then he lost me. He is mainly trying to be a pointer of commonalities while also acknowledging some differences, but some things I think are different he felt were same, and some things I thought were same he felt were different - and of course he also had to contend with non-monolithic views within Christianity and Islam themselves, so he tried to deal with this by talking about 'normalized' religion rather than what people may actually believe and do, which are often quite different than 'normalized' versions. He claimed that someone could be 100% Christian and 100% Muslim at the same time, from a Christian perspective, although remained silent on the Muslim perspective. That is, one can believe in prophethood of Muhammad (saw) and the validity of Qur'an and take shahada and fast and do salat and all that and still be 100% Christian. Anyway, kind of interesting.

He says that to be a Christian there are 3 basic questions: 1. Were you baptized in the name of the triune God? 2. Do you confess that Jesus Christ, in whom God dwelled in human flesh, is the Lord? 3. Have you received the divine gift of new life given freely through Christ? These three questions could be interpreted in different ways so I could see how people may answer them the same way but mean very different things. As for me, I don't recall being baptised, but I'm not positive, actually. And I, along with some Christians, do not understand the necessity of baptism. What exactly is meant by it? In Islam there is just testifying the faith and if baptism is a symbol of that I get it but otherwise, no. As for the second question, I do not get God dwelling in human flesh. God created human flesh, and all creation is of and from him. I believe Jesus was man, but created in the way of Adam not in the way of you or I - so if that is somehow symbolically represented by a phrase of God dwelling in flesh, okay maybe, but otherwise we get into that Trinity stuff that doesn't make sense to me. I also believe Jesus (as) performed miracles by the will of God, but I don't see Jesus (as) as BEING God. I think Jesus (as) has his own soul like other people. Jesus (as) prayed to God, if he is God did he pray to himself? But he (as) is certainly a manifestation of the mashiah/wish/will of God in a special way even in comparison to other prophets. 3. What is meant here by 'new life' and by 'receiving'? How do you know if you received something like that? By just saying so? I do believe in Christ as savior in the sense that I believe following him and believing in him is the path to a good outcome in the Hereafter. I have not seen convincing (to me) evidence that God required a blood sacrifice of a sinless or divine being or of 'himself?!' to be Merciful and forgive someone or keep him out of hell, etc.

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