Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Correcting three common Muslim misconceptions about Christianity

I want to make the readers aware of three common and rather typical Muslim claims purposely promulgated to subvert and undermine the crediblity of Christian faith and character.

It amazes me how these deceivers manage to distort a book and text, which they hardly know nor understand:

Did the Apostles believe Jesus to be insane?

The first relates to the personality of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verse 21:

'When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind"'

Some Muslims apologists have mistakenly been swayed toward the opinion, that Mark depicts Jesus as a mad personality.

However, noticing that Mark is simply pointing to a sentence uttered by Jesus' own family this claim hardly supports the claim that this constitutes an apostolic perception.

Mark is neither confirming nor stating that Jesus was insane. The passage makes even more sense when perceived within it's context. There was indeed a reason why his family uttered the sentence: 'He is out of his mind'.

Verse 20 clarifies this:

'Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat'

Hence the 'He is out of his mind' utterence was not a specific reaction to Jesus as a person, but rather it records a blaze reference, to an occasion in which he set aside his physical need to minister to the people.

Jesus portrays Christianity is a violent religion

A second claim relates to the judgement of the nations; when Jesus in his second coming brings judgement upon his enemies.

But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them her and kill them in front of me (Luke 19: 27).

Muslim apologists have ignorantly purported the passage to portray a violent Christianity. However, the passage ascends the Christian religion.

Firstly, the passage belongs to the parable of the 'Ten Minas', and does not reveal direct description of an event.

Furthermore, despite the fact that the parable includes Christians, e.g. 'the three servants', those executing the judgement appear to be a group distinguished from these and referred to as ‘those standing by’.

Finally, the parable does not refer to a Christian event, but a futurist, imminent and divine judgement; the closest analogy is Luke 9: 26:

‘If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels’.

Both Mark and Matthew relate to this event as a time of future judgement:

The Son of Man will send out His angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of sins (Matthew 13: 41-42)

As in Luke 19 these angels executing the judgement are distinguished from the actual servants (Jesus followers), about which Matthew records Jesus saying the following:

‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear’ (Matthew 13: 43)

These Muslim apologists seem to confuse between Christianity on earth in the Christian era future and divine judgement.

Did Paul the Apostle encourage deception?

A third misconception is rooted in the Muslim failure to understand a Pauline saying in Philippians 1: 17-18:

'The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing they can stir up trouble for me, while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.'

Some Muslim apologists reiterate that Paul is encouraging Christians to utilize deceptive tactics and lies in their propagation of the Christian message. However, this is not what Paul is indicating.

Paul refers to certain individuals who preach the Gospel from a wrong motive; he is not describing deception or lies; but rejoices that at least the Christian message spreads among the people; after all, it’s the Christian message, the response of the listener and God who saves and transforms the sinner, the messenger itself does not account for that.

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A response and challenge to those who oppose the Christian faith.