Contend Earnestly: My Reaction to the Muslim & Christian Dialogue

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Reaction to the Muslim & Christian Dialogue

:::If you want to see more pictures of the dialogue, click here...blogger is having issues right now in uploading photos:::

Saturday night we had a dialogue at Harambee between Muslims and Christians called, "Who is Jesus?". We were not sure how popular this type of thing would be. I spoke to my friend, who is the President of Seattle CAIR, and he told me this was the first of such dialogues he has heard of between Muslims and Christians with a conservative theology church in the Northwest. There has been many dialogues or meetings between liberal churches and Muslims, but none to his knowledge with those of the historical orthodox Christian faith.

What happened was nothing short of the providence of our God. Over 250 Muslims and Christians showed up for the event. Not only that, but one of the concerns was that if we did have a big showing, that one "side" might be overwhelming in attendance with the other having little to show for. But, it felt that it was about 50/50 between Muslims and Christians. As far as the congregations from the Muslims, I know that there were at least 5 Masjids/Islamic Centers represented from the Islamic Center of Kent, Olympia, Eastside, Seattle and Muslim Association of Puget Sound. There might have been more, but these were the ones I know of. As far as churches, I know that at least 6 different churches were in attendance. There was Harambee, First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, Oikos Fellowship, Highlands Community Church, Northshore Baptist Church and Spring of Life Slavic Baptist Church.

The evening started with Christians seeing the hospitality of our Muslim friends. As they showed up, food and more food showed up as well. There was a wedding that some attended beforehand, and they brought what seemed like all the leftover food from the wedding. My wife was with me and she was a little nervous just because she desired to be culturally sensitive and didn't want to offend those we were hosting. After helping setting up the food with some of the Muslim women, my wife's demeanor completely changed. She was very excited to be able to speak with these women, share some laughs, frustration (because of the amount of food and confusing menu items) and even made some new friendships with these women.

The fellowship beforehand was awesome, as I pretty much expected. I met many new Muslim friends, introduced many to others and saw many of my Christian and Muslim friends sharing stories and lives together. Two of the men that I met beforehand work right around the corner from me, so we are going to try and get together for lunch or coffee to extend our conversations from the evening.

After fellowship, and adding many chairs, sofas and tables for the event to house all the guests, the night continued.

Michael Ly stood up and told a couple of stories of his interactions with Muslims and how his view of Muslims changed drastically when his wife had their first baby. One of their neighbors, being a Muslim, came over and said that they knew that Michael and Shannon didn't have any family in the area and in their culture when a woman has a baby the new mother does nothing besides care for the mother for 40 days. Knowing she was in a different culture, the Muslim woman asked if she could care for her for the next week, allowing Shannon to just concentrate on the baby. This love and hospitality from the Muslim woman struck a cord with Michael and Shannon and the understanding of them challenged the Lys.

Michael went on to give his presentation on "Who is Jesus?" from the Christian perspective. The presentation was one that involved showing our understanding that whether one is a Christian, Muslim, or whatever, it didn't matter, everyone needs to know the straight path to the Kingdom of God. He then went to show how through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah and John the Baptist, God was always giving us a sign pointing to the greatest sign that was to come in the sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah. It was a clear presentation and one that was highly focused on showing more than just our beliefs, but showed how we see Jesus as the clear sign given by God from the Old Testament.

After Michael was done presenting, it was time for the Maghrib, or the prayer (salah or salat) at sunset. We cleared the bottom tier of Harambee and the Muslims prayed. It was pretty awesome to have Christians have the opportunity to see the Muslim prayers up close. Not only that, but one of the Muslim leaders gave a quick explanation of what happened afterwards and so did Imam Joban during his presentation.

After the Maghrib, it was time for Imam Joban's presentation of Islam's view of "Who is Jesus?" I have to be honest, Imam Joban's presentation, for the first 30 minutues wasn't "Who is Jesus?" but could have been titled, "What is Islam and Why Should You Trust in the Qur'an?" It was a little odd, but even so, Imam Joban was a great presenter and very funny. When he got through the first 30 minutes of trying to convince us to trust in the Qur'an (which I actually didn't mind hearing at all, just wondered if if should have been done at a different time) Imam Joban gave us some information of who Jesus is in the Islamic understanding. I felt like Imam Joban was very clear and didn't pull any punches. As one who follows Jesus, it is hard to hear what others think of Jesus, but this is always the tension in a dialogue. I am sure it was difficult for some of the Muslims to hear what Michael Ly presented as well. But, I believe the tension is fine as long as loving our God and neighbor is supreme.

After the presentations were completed, it was time for the tables to discuss what was presented or just anything of interest between the two faiths. I loved this time. Our table was one to where we were able to have conversation of our two convictions and just some questions from each faith. One of the Muslims that I met beforehand was at our table and one of the women Stacy met was at our table as well. We went through John 9 and I was able to give a quick history lesson that led to this discussion between Jesus and his disciples.

We also spoke about:

Do Christians believe Adam was forgiven? (which was because of the difference of convictions of imputation of Adam's guilt)

Do you have to be Muslim to go to heaven?

Why 5 prayers?

What is the Injeel?

What do the Muslims and Christians believe is the written word of God?

There was even an interesting discussion between a Muslim man and a Muslim woman on whether one can tell if someone loves God because of external actions. The man was trying to say he could tell, while the woman disagreed and said it is not for her to judge whether someone loved and worshiped God based on external actions that are supposed to be "common" for Muslim believers. It was interesting to hear, but was never at a point of anger in any way.

I honestly wish we could have continued, but I believe that my new friendships will allow it to continue at a later date.

Lastly came the Q&A panel. There was 4 Muslims (one a woman convert from Christianity) and 4 followers of Jesus. The questions were written on note cards, so that Michael and Imam Joban could control the content a little. Some of the questions that were answered were:

Is Jesus the Lamb of God and is He God?

Did Mohammad travel to Jerusalem and is that where he could have received his information on who Jesus is and on the information from the Bible?

How can we continue to develop friendships from other faiths?

Do those on the panel have long developed friendships from other faiths?

In Islam we don't have the idea of inherited sin. How is it fair that we have inherited sin from Adam when we weren't there?

There were other questions that I can't remember, but these were the main ones that impacted the evening. I think whether one is a Muslim or a Christian, we can all say that God/Allah was glorified and worshiped together. It was a night of peace, of new friendships and very good dialogue to help bridge the gap that stands between the two faiths. What we also found out, as a reminder, is that we definitely have points of difference in theology between us that are not to be overshadowed or forgotten. What we did show is that even with these, we can still be friends and love each other instead of being fearful or at war with one another.

This is what is important. To truly understand each other so that we can love each other. We don't have to agree on everything to call each other "friend."

I pray that each side will come away with this:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
“This is the great and foremost commandment.
“The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40


Dave Leland said...

Hi Ryan,

Quick question.

You said "I think whether one is a Muslim or a Christian, we can all say that God/Allah was glorified and worshiped together."

Is Allah the same as the God of the Bible?


Seth McBee said...

I am guessing that you meant to put forth that question to myself.

My quick answer is yes. Here are my posts regarding my thoughts on why I answer yes to this.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? Part 1

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? Part 2"

Anonymous said...

I am utterly shocked! I will try and say this a respectfully as I can, but as followers of Jesus we DO have an obligation to rebuke false teachers. Muslims and Christians DO not worship the same G-D. Your attempt at being insightful and theological and biblical have only shown one thing-that you are leaven, a wolf in sheeps clothing. We were warned about people like you by Jesus,Peter and Paul. Of course we are supposed to love our neighbor. That is a lame excuse for what you are trying to acclomplish. You are misleading people when you say that we worship the same G-D as Muslims. Allah was a moon god (one of many) worshiped as far back as Sumeria. Mohammed supposedly had a revelation from "Allah" that all of the other gods he was the God. Mohammed was a pedophile and a thief and that was not YHWH talking to him it was Satan! Does the bible mention this other revelation? No, I didn't think so. I hope to many people don't take what you are saying seriously-you are dangerous. Before you start with the tired drivel that I am unloving, etc. let me say that I do agree that we are supposed to love our neighbor and share the Gospel. Oh and I read your other post about Israel and you are wrong about that as well.You would do well to read the OT front to back and then try and come up with that conclusion. BTW- Are you and Rick Warren friends?

Michael said...

Why are you so angry?? Why do people like you, hide who they are. What's up with the hit and run.

How do you expect to understand other people and love them? If you don't understand the culture, what can you truly contribute?

To me you sound more like the angry religious person, than a person who wants to love people like Jesus commanded.

Good article! Thank you for sharing this and being obedient to what God is calling you to do! May they see Jesus through you!

P.S.- I guess i am a wolf in sheeps clothing as well. If you see Joel Osteen tell my boy I said, what up!

Anonymous said...

Point 1: I totally disagree with Seth on this issue

Point 2: I still love him and know he loves Jesus.

Point 3: What is the deal with the G_D it looks like you are trying to same "god damned"...which might be slightly more offensive the putting the O in the word...which brings me to the irony that you say Muslims don't worship the same god and then you adopt the behavior of Jewish folk who also rejected Jesus...the same Jesus who stripped away such barriers as you and you _ are trying to put back in and called God the father (sorry if I offended you with the O) daddy, not only that, but the left out letters were only in his proper name...when they called God Adoni, a replacement for Yahweh which you ironically did use they did not leave letters out...since we are not speaking Hebrew we already have that change so it would be dumb even if it weren't already dumb.

4. Rick Warren is my dad what's your point?


Jeff Fuller said...

I too disagree with Seth... though I don't think he'd ever dress up as a sheep. That would be gay.

He's certainly more pita than leaven.

He never claims to be a teacher. So if what he says turns out to be false, he just claims it to be his theological opinion.

And I think he could take Rick Warren in a fight. But I'm pretty sure he and Rick would still remain friends.

Thanks for the good chuckle!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness Seth...I defend your honor and you posted my comment without editing my typos!


schweetyfleety said...

I have been reading your posts regarding Islam and and Wolves. Why the double standard? I agree that JW's and Mormons are false religions, but so is Islam. Why do you recommend dealing differently with the two? Such kindness to the Muslims and such harsh words with the others. In addition why are you singing the praises of CAIR who according to the FBI is a front for the Islamic terrorist group HAMAS?

Above is a link with the official letter from the FBI stating what I have mentioned above. You also have been misrepresenting the Q'ran. Have you not heard of Sharia Law? With Islam it is covert or die. Did Harambee not do it's home work before asking such a dubious organization into it's church? Why aren't you pushing evangelizing to the JW's or Mormons?

schweetyfleety said...

I meant convert not covert. Excuse the typo

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