You might think that I’m talking about Muslims’ challenge that the Trinity within Christianity is polytheistic (I explore the Trinity here and here). That challenge has a lot of merit, but that’s not today’s topic.
I want instead to propose a thought experiment. Imagine trying to convince a Muslim that Christianity is the one correct religion. Muslims are excellent candidates for conversion because they already accept the supernatural, the first stumbling block for atheists. Not only is Islam built on the stories of the Old Testament patriarchs just like Christianity, Muslims accept that Jesus existed and was a prophet.
But if you explain the Christian gospel story to Muslims, they will reject it. Perhaps that’s not too surprising, since they’ve probably been immersed in Islam for their entire lives. An hour-long chat about the gospel isn’t enough; more education is the answer.
Let’s try another version of the thought experiment, where we take a hundred Muslim scholars, well-trained within their tradition and well-respected within their community, and have them read the New Testament.
I think we’ll still see little movement.
All right then, send them to Bible college to give them a thorough education in Christianity. Focus on apologetics, the intellectual arguments for Christianity. There’s no emotional coercion, no love bombing, and no promise of asylum, but if the evidence points to Christianity, an honest and thorough evaluation from scholars accustomed to evaluating theological issues should do the trick.
To respond to that, let’s try one final thought experiment. Now, it’s a hundred Muslim laypeople rather than scholars. They embrace the supernatural, and after their course in Christianity, they thoroughly understand Christian claims and arguments. In fact, they’re far better educated than the majority of lay Christians.
So how about now? Do they agree that the resurrection was a historical event, playing out as the gospels describe it rather than how the Quran does? Have they gotten down on their knees to tearfully beg Jesus to accept them and forgive their sins?
Maybe a few, but not many. The Christian response will likely be that these Muslims were brainwashed and so couldn’t be objective. But if that’s true for them, why isn’t that true of Christians? If most Muslims follow Islam, not because Islam is correct, but simply because they were raised that way, that’s equally true for most Christians.
Theology is a subject without an object.
— Dan Barker
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