There are over 25,000 religious, observant Moslems in the St. Louis area. There are several mosques in the region, and anyone working in the sciences or medicine will work alongside Moslem graduate students (many of them internationals), researchers, and physicians. One billion of our fellow humans globally—about one in five—live in submission to Islam.
Islam is my favorite heresy. As false religions go, I appreciate it. Moslems don’t change their theology based on public opinion polls or peer pressure, unlike many cowards within Christian churches. They teach the total sovereignty of God over all of life more clearly than many Christians. They demand all people everywhere to submit to God’s law, and they put their money where their mouth is, funding Moslem missions worldwide. Many Moslems look at the immorality and compromise of “Christian” America and want nothing to do with Christianity.
Muhammad began preaching in the seventh century, calling polytheistic Arabs to believe in only one God, or Allah, with Muhammad being God’s greatest and final prophet. Islam means “submission” and a Moslem is “one who submits”. Over 23 years, Muhammad claimed to receive revelations, recorded in the Qur’an. Moslems used warfare to further Islam, eventually spreading the religion throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
The Qur’an (or Koran) is the Word of God, correcting all previous Scripture. The Old Testament was the Word of God, but was corrupted by the Jews. The New Testament was the Word of God, but was corrupted by the Christians. The Qur’an was given to correct these books. Still, Jews and Moslems are respected as “Peoples of the Book” and cannot be forced to convert to Islam, while others may be converted through force. There were originally several contradicting and competing versions of the Qur’an, but all but one were ordered burned by the Caliph in the generation after Muhammad, so that there would only be one version.
The central tenet of Islam is the shahadah: “I bear witness that there is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” By reciting this shahadah sincerely, anyone can become a Moslem. Moslems rarely convert to Christ, largely because few have ever been challenged to consider Jesus. Some key questions we need to ask the Moslem to get him thinking...
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it that you will be saved?
2. And if you were to die and stand before God today, and he were to ask you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” what would you say?
This gives you an opportunity to talk about your own assurance of salvation based on God’s promise and based on Jesus’ work on the cross. Talk about the Great Exchange: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus takes our guilt on the cross; we get his righteousness before God.
Moslems are taught that the Bible was altered by the early church. (You’ll want to review lesson 6). They are also taught that Christians believe in three Gods, which is false. You’ll need to bone up on the Trinity. The Qur’an also teaches that Jesus was not really crucified—God sneaked Judas onto the cross instead. Without the cross, there is no Christianity. Our submission to God in humility comes only through Christ’s humiliation as he gives himself to and for us.
Think about these discussion questions over the next week. You may want to jot down your thoughts.
1. The Christian gospel is always the same, but sharing the gospel with people can often look different. Why is this?
2. Some issues arose with more than one of the religions in these lessons. Which ones occurred more than once? Why do you think these issues keep cropping up?
3. A friend says, “I’m not Christian, I’m Jewish. Jews don’t believe in Jesus.” How might you construct a response?
4. Mormon missionaries show up at your door asking if they can talk to you about God’s plan for your life. How would you take control of the direction of the conversation? What issues would you want to discuss?
5. Jehovah’s Witnesses are very afraid of speaking to “opposers” who try to change their views. How can you get them thinking about Jesus without coming across as an enemy? List some specific questions you’d like to ask them.
6. If there were 8 verses touching on this lesson that you think would be most valuable to memorize, what would they be? Work on committing them to memory.