Theology of World Missions - Lesson 13

Case Studies in World Religions Conversations

Dr. Timothy Tennent shows how Christianity compares to other world religions by citing case studies of discussions with individuals of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Evangelicals must engage more seriously and more profoundly in the thought world of other religions.

Peter Kuzmič
Theology of World Missions
Lesson 13
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Case Studies in World Religions Conversations

Case Studies in World Religions Conversations


1. Hindu doctrine of nirguna saguna

2. Hindu discussion of creation

3. Serious dialogue is needed to determine areas of continuity or discontinuity between religions

4. Buddhism

5. Islam

  • Understand that missions are central to God's plan, not an appendage, and that the Church is a transformative, missionary community that integrates theology, culture, and society, emphasizing both personal evangelism and social engagement.
  • Explore the relationship between theology and missions, understanding missions as central to God's purposes, the church as God's transformative agent, and the need for a theologically grounded missiology and a missiologically focused theology.
  • Gain insight into the Old Testament God as a missionary deity, the role of prayer in missions, the universality of God's purpose from creation to the Abrahamic covenant, and the importance of integrating prayer into theological studies.
  • Understand how the Psalms emphasize God's universal redemptive plan and serve as significant missionary texts, highlighting God's concern for all nations and illustrating this through examples like Rahab and Jonah.
  • Learn about the unprecedented growth of Christianity in Asia, the three streams of the church in China, and the importance of partnerships, sending churches, and funding for missions, while emphasizing that maintaining a strong personal relationship with God is paramount.
  • You learn about the critical aspects of faith, dedication, need assessment, local leader involvement, trust building, strategic planning, and leadership transition in cross-cultural missions.
  • Learn to see people as Jesus does, exploring biblical foundations for missions and global citizenship, understanding India's diverse cultures and spiritual thirst, and emphasizing prayer, missionary support, and the transformative power of introducing Jesus' love and salvation.
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the Great Commission's theological and historical significance, focusing on Jesus' authority, the mandate to make disciples, and the perpetual presence of Jesus, while comparing accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
  • Understand the AIDS crisis in Africa, the role of missionaries in addressing it, the cultural challenges of foreign aid, and the theological and personal motivations for missionary work, informed by firsthand experiences and biblical insights.
  • Learn about universalism, its historical and contemporary perspectives, types of universalism, key biblical texts supporting it, and evangelical counterarguments, emphasizing its implications for human sinfulness, morality, and evangelical mission.
  • The political and religious climate in Yugoslavia creates unique challenges for people who are preaching the gospel there.

  • Dr. Timothy Tennent points out that the spread of vibrant Christianity in areas of the world besides the west, and the clash of Christianity with major world religions outline the framework for the focus of world missions.

  • Dr. Timothy Tennent shows how Christianity compares to other world religions by citing case studies of discussions with individuals of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Evangelicals must engage more seriously and more profoundly in the thought world of other religions.

  • What does Christ have to do with culture and what does the Church have to do with the world? Isolationists separate themselves and cannot have a significant impact on the world around them. Secularists identify with the world by compromising core beliefs to match the culture and don't have an impact because they are no different from the people around them. The Church often evangelizes from a distance instead of entering into the lives of people.

  • People will often respond more positively to the Gospel if you first find common ground in practical areas and use culture as a bridge for the Gospel into the world. The Gospel has to be forwarded to a new address for every generation.

  • Chuck Davis from Africa Inland Mission describes mission work in Africa and his personal experiences in Congo, Chad and other African countries.

  • The Gospel is a message that addresses sin in the lives of individuals and transforms society in areas like justice and charity.

  • World missions is a fundamental theme throughout the Bible. The book "Christ and Culture" proposes four models to explain the relationship between the Church and the world. Some people emphasize scriptures that focus on evangelism and others emphasize scriptures that teach the importance of meeting peoples' physical needs.

    Note: The David Bosch Grid and Hans Kung Paradigm chart may be posted in the future but are not available at this time.

  • The Lausanne Conference on World Evangelism provided a forum for Christian leaders from different countries and denominations to establish some common goals and principles for communicating the Gospel and caring for people all over the world.

    Note: The David Bosch Grid and Hans Kung Paradigm chart may be posted in the future but is not available at this time.

Dr. Kuzmič provides a framework for a theology of world missions based on a biblical worldview. We must live as citizens of two kingdoms. Our missiology needs to be theologically grounded, and our theology, missiologically focused. The documents that were written by delegates at the Lausanne Conference on World Missions have had a significant influence in defining and encouraging the practical application of a biblical view of world missions.

Theology of World Missions

Dr. Peter Kuzmič


Case Studies in World Religions Conversations

Lesson Transcript


Well, okay, let's gather back and try to make at least some progress on some case studies. I have no idea how much will get through, but we can just do the best we can and try to provide some examples for how this actually works out. I'm going to try to prove to you a couple of points we've made that are based on a lot of examples of talking to Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims. I have a little advantage of having a number of years experience talking to especially Hindus, but also Buddhists in north India. And also got a lot of experience talking to Muslims both here and overseas, as well as dialoging with some of their kind of more well trained people who really know the religion at the deepest level. So I think I can testify to some of the concerns I have or borne out in this looking at Hinduism, which is in India. Okay. Primarily there's about 800 million Hindus in India. One of the things I want to look at in terms of Hinduism, this is a kind of a collective term for a whole wide range of religious attitudes and beliefs and practices which are unique to the caste system and scriptures, karma and what we often call reincarnation. So believe me when I talk about this particular doctrine within Hinduism, this is something that is in a very prominent school of Hindu thought, but is not necessarily by a said by all Hindus. Okay. So that caveat is there. This is just a case study. But I want to talk a little bit about a very prominent doctrine in Hinduism, which is called new goona. So goona. These are Sanskrit terms that arise out of the upon a shards.


The upon us shards represent one of the most sacred text of Hinduism. There's actually different ideas about the precise canon of the punch shards. But generally speaking, there are 18 books that are widely accepted as being the Upanishads. And it is the eponymous shards, which represent the basis for Hindu philosophy. In some very high level discussions about ultimate issues, much more so than the Vedas and other kinds of writings and Hinduism. So it's in that context that this expression near goona so GOONA comes up. Now what this is about. May surprise you, but it is largely a discussion about how we talk about God. And there's a huge chunk of Hinduism. Again, not all Hindus, but there's a huge chunk of Hindus that believe that this distinction is very important. What the distinction means is this, that whenever you talk about God with any kind of attributes or qualities. That is Sahagun. In fact, that's what this word means. The word SA in Sanskrit is the word. It means with in the word goona it means qualities with qualities. Near is a negative word same a stem goona without qualities. So what they basically say is that whenever you talk God, you have to be very, very clear about whether you are talking about God with qualities in God without qualities. And essentially what they say is that if you were to say, for example, Jesus Christ died on the cross, or God is love, even basic God is love. All of that is in the category of so goona. And they believe that, oh, there's no end to ways you talk about God and they find meaningful to God from a point of view of phenomenology or your experience about God. So they have a very famous analogy in Hinduism, about six blind man, six blind man trying to describe an elephant.


And, you know, and one is, you know, the here's all these blind man. They're out there and and they're trying to describe an elephant and they all stumble forward and one grabs the poor elephant's leg. And he says an elephant is like a tree. The other one is just hits the whole side of the elephant. Oh, no, no. It's like a mud brick wall because he's feeling the whole side. The other one's holding the tail. He's like, tree wall. No, it's like a rope. And the other one's holding the ear. He says, No, it's like a banana leaf. And the other ones holding the task, he said. And he points it on. I know it's like a brandished sword, you know. And of course, the Hindu moral of the story is that, oh, they're all right. You know, they're all wrong in a larger sense, but they're all right in the sense that all of them are right from their perspective. But if you really could see the big picture, you would recognize that somehow another, you know, God or the elephant encompasses all of it. So maybe Islam does contradict Buddhism, but somehow Islam is grabbing the task and buddhism's grabbing the tail. And this is kind of the Hindu mentality. So they're willing to accept a lot of contradictory language and discussion and talk at the level of Signet. But they claim that Cigna ultimately is illusory. And therefore there's no real substance to anything. And so that's just human phenomenological language. Let's just talk human ways of expressing. And the only real true, you know, ultimate reality is near goona. God at the highest level. And so you can you can have a very productive conversation with a with a Hindu and think you're making a lot of progress.


But really, he had his nice smile, Nadine. You know, they had this thing, you know, G is. Yes. Dee Dee Dee. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You don't realize that you may be winning all the battles, but you've lost the war. Because even all the little miniature victories you're having are in the overall context of the. Oh, yeah, of course, that's at another level we're talking about. It's a problem in the Hindu discussion. So in that sense, you could be having a lot of superficial kind of agreements with the Hindus. But really in a larger context, you're making no progress at all. On the other hand, I think there are other examples, for example, when they discuss creation. I've had some very productive talks with Hindus about creation, because what you often read in books about Hinduism, what I would certainly study was that Hindus don't really believe in creation. I found actually talking to Hindus and actually studying their own text is not true at all. I Hindus do believe in creation. They just don't believe it. Talk about maybe the way we do. And so in talking to Hindus, I found out that in many of their discussions about creation, they are talking about it in a way that is a part of the Christian tradition. They use the word Maya. Which just means a false way of looking at the world. And they essentially argue that people put too much stock in the world. They think the world has a greater reality and actually has. Which is essentially the human problem anyway. Thomas Aquinas, of course, makes, I think, the helpful insight that there's a difference between the creation as a necessary existence and the contingent existence. That is to say whether the world is dependent upon God for its existence or whether it has independent existence.


And Aquinas points out, rightfully so, that only God has independent existence. Only God is a necessary bean, as he would say, is the language He would use where the rest of us are all contingent. We're dependent upon God. So actually, when I talk to Hindus about God, I find that the more I talk, more realize how far apart we really are. Despite the superficiality of the language. I talked about God or creation with Hindus. I found that the more I talked about it, more realized that we weren't as far apart as I thought we were. Now we still have some big differences, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. There were some place where we could actually agree at a kind of fundamental level of true we can agree on. Our time is slipping by. But I think that there are examples where. Kind of a language of continuity. Discontinuity is not always easy to uncover. And I think that serious dialog, serious inner Christian, interfaith discussions between Christians and Hindus has to be willing to kind of really get to serious discussion. You can't do it superficially. One of the things that, you know, people often when they read books about all religions or whatever, they want something really simple. I mean, evangelicals especially, they want a chart. They can put the back of their Bible has all the religions on one chart. And they'll have, you know, their view of God, man, salvation, the cosmos, whatever. And you can just kind of like, you know, okay, their view is this makes it very easy. And that was okay as long as that most people never met a living Buddhist in my grandmother. I mean, I'm sure she must have heard of the word Buddhism.


But I can promise you, she's never met one. Is it just them? My grandmother never met a Buddhist or a muslim or a Hindu in her life. And I'm confident that's not true for anybody in this room. I've. Maybe that would be. But I'll be surprised if there's anybody here who could say you've never, ever actually met a muslim before your whole life. And we're in a different context. Because the world is changing. And so we're not we have to get it. We have to go beyond the charts, the simple charts I have. Zondervan has asked me to do a book Untitled. It's then have this title. Basically, it's like An Idiot's Guide to World Religions. I mean, it's not that, but it's something. It's a different title, but it's basically that. And they keep saying how great it's going to be. I thought, well, you know, is it going to be great? I don't know if I did or not, because on one hand, I know we need to get more information out there, but what we don't need is more superficial information. We have to be willing to actually engage in it because, you know, you feel really disrespected. If someone said, well, Christianity is about X, you know, and it's it's a lot more than that. And so, you know, just to be authentic, we have to be willing to. Engage us a bit more and think about it a bit more. And I often tell people one of the best things you can do is take time to read the Koran. Number one, I'll give you a lot a lot of great excitement, the Bible. I'll give you even greater assurance of the inspiration of the Bible. But there are more strategic reason is because when you're witnessing to a muslim.


And you want to be like, give that give him or her a, you know, a gospel John or something. I found that if you do that, which the one thing to do, of course. But you know, you say, I would tell my son, would you please, would you like to read this gospel of John or a New Testament lover? They'll say, Have you read the Koran? If you say no, I never have looked at it. Well, then why should I read yours? If you say, Oh, yeah, I've read the Koran from cover to cover. Well, you're probably he, he probably hasn't read the Koran cover to cover. So Muslims are always really a no. I tell Muslims all over the Koran many times, you know, really. I was at a debate one night after 911. You know, I do a lot of these like dialogical David debates and stuff. And I was down in Connecticut. So usually when I go down to one of these debates or dialogs where they call it, I go down and I'm like, debate a muslim or something and I'll go in there and they would like, you know, me and a couple of Muslims or a couple of Christian Muslims and like six people who come. You know, there's like this little core here that really loved this kind of thing. And, you know, it's like, no, not something that generates big crowds. All right. So we get there and we have a dialog discussion and then we all go home. So I was called to go down. This had been October of 2001 to dialog three questions with three Muslims down in Bristol, Connecticut. On the subject of Is Islam a religion of peace? I know I was stupid to think this, but I kind of went into the whole thing like, okay, this is another kind of, you know.


So I got to the church and wonder why? Why what was going on? All these cars over there. I walked into this rather large sanctuary and it was absolutely packed out with people and every seat filled and the even the media was there. They like cameras as we televised our eyes while something's happened. Well, 911 had happened and suddenly Islam was always radar and people wanting to talk about it. But all the sentiment that that night was in the car, the conversation. We're talking back and forth. And this woman at one point, a muslim lady in the in the among the three Muslims there, she. Said the Koran says and she gave this long day about what the Koran said. Well, everybody in the audience is not writing this down, you know. Oh, that's wonderful. So my time came. We all had to respond to everything that said Martin came. I said to her, you know, with the greatest respect, I said to her that quote you gave is actually not in the Koran. Because I knew one in the Koran. Now, that was amazing to her because she never had met Christians who actually know the Quran enough to say, like someone who said to you, you know, you know, he who? Leith Freya, you know, he's well, you know it may be true was not not in the Bible, you know I mean you know after a while you get to know what's there and what's not, right? So I said to her, so she herself came back and said, You're probably right. I'm sorry. It must be in the Hadith. While the Hadith kind of like a gentle catchall for whatever you can't find, you put it that day. So I let that go, but I don't date either.


But anyway, it just goes to show you that people like it. There's a very, very famous debate. They are shown in my class before. It's a tight debate between a niece, Harush and Ahmed. Did not the dot famous. His title is He's a muslim guy. That's the dot. And he is the scholar of the Christian Bible. So he's a muslim scholar who spent his life in the Bible and he debates Christians around the world. So in the course of this debate and this Jarosz is very articulate Christian guy, but he misquoted a verse from the Gospel of John. And I mean, he gave the wrong reference. He got the verse correct when he gave the wrong reference. And he actually was quoting John 14 six and so does John. Ten six. So the guy in the response that, by the way, is not John ten six is John 14 six. And that, of course, oh, the Muslims went berserk because it was just so amazing. Now, here's this, you know, Muslim scholar correcting the Christian. All right. So I found that is very strategic if you've read the Koran. And also, this is true for Hinduism as well in Buddhism. But if you read the Koran and you talk to a muslim, then you can be more informed. And when you're given the Bible there, they are going to take it and read it if they know you've read the Koran. You know, it's just it's almost a sure bet. Okay, So let's maybe move on in and look at a few more examples of this. We have to bus tourism, right? I'm sorry. Our town. Let's look at Buddhism. Now, Buddhism is definitely a place where we have got to do a lot of thought.


Buddhism has probably gotten more mileage out of this dialog movement than anybody else. Buddhism is a very popular religion, especially in Hollywood. The California crowd really goes for it and has been really, really very kind of in the popular mind of a lot of Americans. And so it's therefore come into America and been received by people who largely have a Christian default background, at least vaguely. So what has happened is that Christians or I say Christians, I mean, people from kind of Christian tradition have heard Buddhism and kind of incorporated it into some general Christian framework, and therefore it makes a lot more sense. Or at least more plausible than the actual teaching, the Buddhism. And so what you end up having is kind of a phantom Buddhism that's widely accepted by people. And in various circles that's really more of a kind of a marriage of some Buddhist language with kind of basic humanism, kind of like a spiritualized legitimate world religion humanism than it is actual Buddhism. And so in the context of dialog and interfaith discussions, this will come out quite a bit. Buddhism is a religion that arose in the fifth century B.C. by a teacher named Siddartha Gautama. Who taught what's called the Four Noble Truths and an Eightfold Path. We won't have time to look at either the fundamental truths or the eightfold path. But we will look at one very important doctrine in Buddhism, and it is their discussion about the nature of ultimate reality. Because Buddhism denies any ultimate reality at all. I don't care what any Buddhists may say to you. Believe me, it is the phenomenology of language only that makes you think otherwise. Buddhism of any kind, any form, any expression of its true Buddhism denies that there is any kind of first cause to anything that is fundamental against Buddhist thought to believe there was some beginning or some first cause would be God or anything else.


They don't believe in the reality of the self. The individual has an ultimate reality. These are two things that are very important to Hinduism that are rejected by Buddhism. So they instead seek what they call detachment. This is the the four novel truths largely revolve around breaking the sense of desire. Basically, the fundamental truths say that we are suffering. That's number one. Number two, suffering is caused by desire. And that desire can be broken by extinguishing yourself. The idea of self. If you can extinguish the self, then you break desire. If you break desire, you break this whole chain of existence. When you experience that going into nothingness, that's called nirvana. No, it's term is used kind of for everything nowadays, but in Buddhism, it's a very specific term for their spiritual realization. So if you're talking about, you know, quote, God with a Buddhist. Or their idea of ultimate reality. Then when you use the word God to a Buddhist, what they hear is kind of what is their ultimate understanding of reality? I know this is a kind of a big term here, but they call this protect yet some part of. What that is. That explains how we look around the world and see people and stars and buildings and everything else. We don't believe that these things can actually have any existence. We see things that appear to be cause and effect, and we know that from a Buddhist point of view doesn't exist. So they have to have a way to explain the phenomenological world that we're in. So even their language of God conforms to this what they call the wheel of samsara. Let me just show you this. We are here. This. This is the part that some are part of.


Now, we don't have time tonight to look at this and in much detail, but they believe that everything here is caused by the by something else. One is caused by 12, 12 is caused by 11 all the way back. And these are all important concepts in Buddhism. So what they believe is the fact that you, for example, have call yourself and I you know, my name is whatever, and you can look and say, well, I have a body and you have five senses. You have a mind, you can reach out and touch people. You have diverse desires, all these things. You have mine conscious. All of this has given rise to what you perceive to be reality. They don't believe any of this has reality. It's just this gives rise to this. Which gives rise to this, which gives rise to this, and it creates this kind of nexus of appeared reality. So the inside of the Buddhist was that if you can break this a this they believe was the weak link in the chain, if you could break that link then. You could be free. That's kind of the Buddhist, if you want to call it salvation. But there's no God in any of this. So I'm going to show you next a slide that a Buddhist themselves have drawn. This is not a Christian about, but it is Buddhist themselves that they call their wheel of life. This is known in theology or Buddhist thought as the wheel of samsara. That means the Wheel of suffering or Wheel of life, Wheel of existence. The term I use for that is samsara. And they believe we're all caught in this. We are all of these 12 things. These 12 things here are the same 12 that you saw on the previous slide.


This is kind of the illusion of reality. Now, why am I going into all this? Well, I'm going into it because they believe that right now, your manifestation that you call self, your body is in this realm right here called the human realm. Now Buddhist world, especially in places like China with pure land Buddhism. They'll talk very freely about dying and going to heaven. Sounds very familiar to what language we would use. Or they will say, I have put my faith in a particular savior. There's one more. One's very prominent One in Impure land is a savior figure called Amitava. They believe if you put your faith, Amitava, Amitava will save you and you'll get to go to heaven. And so talking to a Buddhist, gosh, it sounds very similar. I mean, Tom was like another name for Christ. You could say, well, gosh, you know, this person would say, I could not do on my own. I needed help. And so I cried out on my table for my faith. I'm a taller Buddha. And I was that and I'm going to go to heaven and even talk about meeting loved ones in heaven and all the rest. I mean, every all the language that you're familiar with the Buddhist will use, believe me, but. In the larger picture, what they're talking about is when they die and they go to heaven. But all of this and these are their chambers in the will of samsara, we don't tell and going through all this, but all of this is in a larger framework of total illusion. So there's no more reality to heaven than there is to anything else. There's no real reality to these gods that save you or anything else. All of this is in kind of a functional language.


There's not have any the use the proper term and the on the logical reality. There's no true being to it. It's just experiential kind of talk that serves various purposes in Buddhist thought. They call this the raft that leads you across the ocean of ignorance. But once you get across, you throw the raft away. This whole God and salvation and put your faith in heaven. All of that is illusory ultimately, and you have to discard it when you go into Nirvana. But in the meantime, this functional language is helpful. So when Christians and Buddhist talk, when you come to the conversation naturally, you bring with it your whole worldview. So you say? Well, I believe that by trusting in Jesus Christ, I'm going to go to heaven. The only way a Buddhist can possibly hear that is in the context of what he or she knows that to mean, which is you also believe in this heaven chamber and that Christ will help you. So many Buddhists believe that Jesus is just another one of these Savior figures. They call them bodhisattvas in Buddhism, that Jesus is just another bodhisattva, just like they have Amitava. And there are so many others and you have Jesus, and it appears very similar. There's even in books, written whole books, I mean, large books, one called The Christ and the Body Santa that tries to show they're all about it's all the same thing. This is when the dialogical people. That are trying to minimize the fact that, no, no, these are fundamentally different conversations that have a superficiality of language but are actually very discontinuous. There's virtually no I mean, with Islam. We'll see the moment. There's a lot of overlap. But when you're talking to a Buddhist, I tell you, there is very, very little, if any, common ground we found of the Buddhist.


Even though I love you know, I love my Buddhist friends. But I'm telling you, you're not going to find a lot of common ground, if any, because this the whole conversation may appear, you know, very much similar. But the actual references, the reference points are completely discontinuous. So therefore, to me, this is where the dialogical view has has made a big mistake. I'm I devote a chapter in my book to the issue of Buddhist ethics because I am really concerned about how much the Buddhist have tried to talk about how great their ethics is because Buddhist as their big, prideful point, the Hindus had no ethics. We have ethics. And in that sense, within the Eastern context, the Buddhists have done a lot. But from a Christian point of view, ethics implies the belief that there is a self who acts and there is a self who receives the action of mercy or compassion as the context of ethics from a Christian point of view, or the Buddhist doesn't have that. There is no self who acts as no self who receives the action. And so there's actually no fundamental basis for any legitimate ethical actions in Buddhism. So I really question whether or not Buddhist ethics is as great as they claim it to be. I mean, I have a lot of questions about it. But that being said, I just think it's just something we have to talk about and discuss with our Buddhist friends, because I think this is an area where, you know, what the Liberals will say is we may disagree about salvation. We can all agree about helping the poor and, you know, open up a food kitchen or soup kitchen. Okay. Well, I just wonder if we really can even agree on that.


In light of Buddhist ontology. These are just questions that I have. I don't have the answers to these, but I just think that these are examples where evangelicals have got to be more serious about engagement and thinking about Buddhist thought and Muslim thought, Hindu thought. Okay. Any thoughts or comments? We want to take some time to look at Islam, too. But just to give you just a quick examples. Any thoughts or comments about either the Hindu or Buddhist reflections that we've had about the way language can sometimes fool us and be either closer or maybe more discontinuous than we thought? When we actually look at the real nature of the interchange. Yes. This is the world that we live in. They don't believe in any alternate reality. If by that reality you mean there is any first cause or any ultimate being or essence or whatever. They don't accept that at all. The word ultimate reality, of course, can mean other things. And so they certainly use the word ultimate reality to. Talk about ultimate principles like Nirvana or whatever. Or sonata, which means emptiness or nothingness is like an ultimate reality in Buddhism. Nothingness. But it would be nothing that could be possibly compared to any conception of ultimate reality in Christianity. And there's no common theistic strand there at all. This, by the way, before it closes. I love this is so classic Buddhist sayings. If you meet the Buddha on the road, you should kill him. The Zen saying again, that reflects the Buddhist worldview. I mean, the Buddha doesn't have any real existence. And therefore what really matters is what they call the dharma. You know, the teaching of the Buddha is more important than the Buddha. So we'd go on the road, kill him, because you might put your faith in that person rather than the teaching.


And so in Buddhism, you know, this is the eightfold path is there are no traveler on it. Suffering, is there? But no suffer. There's no one who actually is suffering. It is quite a dramatic worldview. Okay. Yeah. All kinds of reasons why I have a hard time with Buddhism. There is no you who is lost knowing that you need to be saved. No reality to Christ. Anyway, okay, so I can. I can do this all day long. Let's talk about Islam. Islam represents a very different situation altogether and in many ways a much more complex. Situation since it does draw from the Abrahamic route. So Islam, as with Judaism and with Christianity, even looks back to Abraham as the father of faith and the father of their religion. And therefore there are many ways where parallels are drawn and borrowed from Judaism, which make it much more complex. By the way, you're looking at the very famous scene in Madinah, which is one of the second holy city in Saudi Arabia behind Mecca, and the green domed mosque there is the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad is buried, and it's a very huge concert. To be the greatest event of your life as a muslim is to visit that shrine when you go on pilgrimage and to see where Muhammad is buried. I hope that you realize the strength of that. Because there's no place to go. The Father remains of Jesus. Hallelujah. He's the risen Lord. So it's not a great day for us to see the bones of anybody. But Islam is a monotheistic religion found in Arabia in the seventh century. Strong emphasis on the oneness and holiness of Allah and the Prophet Hood of Muhammad. Islam is growing very dramatically without any close second.


It is the fastest growing religion in the world. You can see the Christianity is roughly maintaining itself around 34, 35% of the world, though, the kind of Christian within that 34% is dramatically changing for the better. But that being said, in terms of just sheer numbers of those who claim to be Christians or Muslims, the number who claim the Muslims is dramatically growing, mainly because of biological growth in the Muslim world as opposed to the Western world. This will dramatically change as non-Western Christianity continues to occur. But Islam is a presence in the world that we have to be very, very serious about. There are many happily, many points of agreement among Muslims and Christians. Both of us believe in one supreme Holy God. They called the sky. The Arabic word for God is Allah. They believe that Allah create the world in six days. I mention that. They believe that Allah sent prophets into the world and the Koran names. Many of these, including Noah, Abraham, David, John the Baptist, and even Jesus. They believe that Jesus born of a virgin. They believe that Jesus led a sinless life. That's in the Koran. Yes, it's in the Koran. Perform miracles. They believe more than the Protestant liberals that you've been preparing to respond to. So I don't have any problem saying that many Muslims are closer to the faith than a Protestant liberal. It doesn't mean that either one is necessarily going to make it there. But don't just assume because in Islam someone's a muslim, they're necessarily farther away than, you know, people right there in the pew next to you who maybe have serious doubts about the resurrection of the virgin birth of Christ or the miracles or whatever. Muslims when it comes to Christology.


I think this is the kind of the case study on look at. It's kind of interesting scenario because Christ, of course, is the stumbling block for Muslims while they accept that Christ is the prophet. A great teacher. They will not accept that Christ is the incarnation of the living God. And of course, that, you know, that makes all the difference in the world. I mean, you essentially I had the interesting stone made to me one time. I think I caught this my butt where the this guy says, you know, you Christians and us weren't the Muslims. We could really get along okay. If you just give up your belief in the incarnation of Christ, it's like all there and all you have to do is give that as if you know that, Oh, okay. It's like, you know, just you can just give up infant baptism. You are, you know, No, this is really central. This is the crux. So Islam will accept all kinds of things, know all the prophets, Ten Commandments, all that. But, you know, you have the heart of the gospel has been removed. Christ. So these are serious, you know, very serious differences. But I wanted to explore this a little more. They ask questions like, how could God come off of his throne? How can God enter into the womb of Mary and be born? How do you believe that? I mean, for a muslim, this is inconceivable that you actually believe that God became a baby. And I've heard Muslims say it, and they said to me, What do you mean, that you believe that Jesus? Do you believe that God defecated? And they actually asked you this. You believe that God defecated. God got inside the womb of a woman.


So the woman encompassed God. You people are crazy. I mean this from their point of view. It's just absolutely crazy. How could God beget a son? They often will tie this in to. The father have intercourse with Mary or some bizarre beliefs? So there's no question that we have a serious Christological issue with Muslims. So what I did, and this was some really surprise to me as well, when I really took time to actually study this, I went to the Koran. Very carefully read every verse of the Koran with one thing in mind. What does this say about Christ? The Koran mentions Christ. Depends on how you count in certain references, but roughly about 35 times the Koran makes reference to Christ. Usually its most famous way of referring to Christ. Is the phrase Son of Mary. Which is appears once in the New Testament and the gospel mark. But it is very common in the Koran. Son of Mary also uses the word Jesus to say Esau is the Arabic word for it, but they use the word Esau. They'll have other kinds of terminologies they use. Go through and actually look at and isolate every single verse or past in the Quran about Christ and try to figure out what's it saying? What's going on here? And what I did was I finally realized that all of the statements about Christ fall into five different categories. Now, we don't have to look at this tonight. Essentially that fairly actually falls very cleanly in about five basic categories of things about Christ that they're saying or aspiring to. And one of these is the basic statement. I mean, one of the five categories is the idea that God cannot have a son. Okay. That just that that's a very important category for Muslims in terms of their Christology.


And so if you look at that objection, God can have a son. You'll find a number verse in the Koran. Let me just quote you one here from. They don't call there. They don't use the word chapter. This is the word Sora is their general word. Like we use the word chapter. That's how they reference their Korans, rather than saying like, you know, first Corinthians, they'll just say chapter because the Koran has 114 chapters. So they go by the word sura. It just means step. It means every time you quote a chapter, you're coming one step closer to God. So Sara, 19 is like Tepper 19. The verse, as they call, is 88 to 91. This is where it says those who say and it sounds like a reference to Christians. The Lord of Mercy has begotten Son. Preach a monstrous falsehood. At which the heavens might crack the earth, break asunder, and the mountains crumble to dust, that they should ascribe a sign to the merciful when it does not become him to beget one. Now, there's no way you could read that without being deeply disturbed, because this is a very much in your face kind of statement denouncing. I mean, most Christians would really think about verses like for God to love the world that he gave his only begotten son or whatever, versus like that, that this seems to be so overtly contradicting. However, if you actually look at the not only the crime itself actually in the way it deals with these texts, but look at the commentaries by Muslim scholars on these passages. You're very quickly discover an amazing thing. And this basically is true of all of the five categories in one way or another. Let me give you one quote.


This is from a muslim scholar, a famous scholar in Islam that's actually approved by Mecca. This is not some marginalized figure. He's writing about that passage that we just looked at. And this is what he says about it. But getting a son is a physical act depending on the needs of men's animal nature. All our most high is independent of all needs, and it is derogatory to him to attribute such an act to him. This is merely a relic of pagan and anthropomorphic materialist superstitions. This is the Muslim commentary on that verse. I don't know how that strikes you. But it strikes me quite, you know, remarkable because I totally agree with this. I don't have any problem with this Muslim commentary because it's true. Anybody who thinks that God has engaged in some sexual act and this is a preposterous, blasphemous things by which the heavens might crack in the mountain like a thunder. So what you began to realize when you actually look at Christology in the Koran. And I've written this all up very extensively. You can read it. I mean, every single text and read my analysis, the whole thing says this. This is all available. But if you really take time to go through and look at all this data, what you'll discover, to your amazement. Is that the Koran? Has never actually or Muhammad was never actually exposed to the actual Christian view. So Mohammed is shooting down Harris's that we also reject. And so I actually don't think that the Koran I mean, the Koran I mean, to be clear, the Koran does not ever affirm biblical Christology. I'm not absolutely sure that it denies it either. I think it's like shooting down all kinds of stuff that we also shoot down and it just never actually encounters the real thing.


I think this really became clear to me even more when I was talking to a guy named Fred Plaster who spent 30 years with must working with Muslims and church planting. He articulated what I always suspected. But to hear from a guy who spent 30 years, you know, carried a lot of weight to me, he said. I said to them, you know, well, from your experience, what is the biggest stumbling block, you know, with Muslims? Because, you know, when I meet a guy who spent 30 years, that's a good thing to ask, right? What, from your experience, is the biggest challenge you ever met? And he said to me. Said, you know, the biggest challenge we met was not Muslims rejecting the gospel, but getting them to actually hear it. Because what they reject are always caricatures of it. And boy, all kinds of light bulbs went off inside my head when I heard that, because I thought, that's exactly my experience. It's my experience Hindus as well, actually, but for other reasons. But if you look at the data in the in the Koran, I remember now Arabia is the catching point for all of the Christians that were fleeing persecution, went to Arabia. So you've got Aryans there. You've got a Polish Aryans there. You have Nestorian is there, you've got adoption. Is there at least those four groups? So Muhammad is exposed to a really wide kind of very fluid range of Christological views. He certainly has no idea of any common view. To pass it on does not happen before 51 A.D.. Not that long before Muhammad is born. And believe me, when Tulsa Don has decided isn't like that. So he becomes like, download everybody's brain and the people down in Arabia are not connected to Charleston.


So therefore, why would we expect the people in Arabia, the Christians are there? To have any real solid Christology. They are mostly heretics, frankly. And one of the problems we have in reading the Koran is that we read the Koran is evangelical Christians. And we have our theology. Our Christology is so down pat. So we read a verse like this. We read into it. I mean, naturally, we would all of our biblical Christology, assuming that this is attacking the doctrine of the Sonship. And I even found out when inquiring further over the years that in Arabic, the word for son and the word for child are virtually indistinguishable. They do not have a use of the word son. That's a larger set. Then the word child. In other words, the word son means physical, your physical son. So the idea of the old Jewish Semitic idea where, you know, a teacher would say, you know, my son, listen to my teaching. Or people would refer to their rabbi as father. And all of that is completely not a part of the Arabic linguistic framework. And so it was only natural for them to hear the word son in terms of sexual relationship. Father, son, as opposed to that, what we actually know is true and it says for God. So the role of Galen begotten Son, that's not about sexual cohabitation. It's about a spiritual relationship between father and son, the two persons of the Trinity. So what you find in the Koran is a tremendous, tremendous maelstrom of confusion about Christian teaching. The Koran is one big steady stream of confusion about Christianity. And this is the text from which Muslims draw their knowledge of Christianity. So one of the biggest challenges in talking to Muslims is actually clarifying what they actually believe, I mean, and what they think that we believe.


Because, you know, if a muslim says to you, for example, do you believe in the Trinity? Well, naturally, your reaction is a good orthodox Christian would be to say, Of course I do. You should never say that to a muslim. I mean, maybe eventually you will, but you should first say, What do you mean by Trinity? And you fill in the blank. What do you mean by sign? What do you mean by whatever? I mean just the cross. You fill in the blank and clarify what is meant. That's good advice for any inter-religious dialog, because once you begin to clarify, you'll find out that most of the well yeah that the got the alpha had sex with Mary. Whoa, whoa. No. If that's Trinity, I don't believe in it. And I believe in that trinity. I don't know that Trinity Never heard of that Trinity. That's a blasphemy. The heavens are going to break and the mountains go asunder. Because that's not what we believe. So, you know and religious dialog has for too long. Kind of lived off of a very superficial kind of discussion between groups that really weren't serious about discussing with each other, or the participants themselves were not actually committed to historic Christianity or historic Islam or whatever. So evangelicals must engage more seriously and more profoundly and the thought worlds of other religions. Because this is largely the mission field is before us used to be mission studies did it because we missionaries are preparing to go work in India. But nowadays you don't have to go to India. You're not the guy. You just go to Boston. The challenges are right here now and our butts are on our doorstep and therefore we must take this more seriously.


All right. Questions, comments, and. The Koran teaches, interestingly, the theology of it, because it's kind of interesting how they how it plays out. They actually use the Arabic equivalent of the term ex nihilo out of nothing. They make the comparison that just as God spoke the world into existence, you know, let there be light. And there was light. God, alas, spoke Jesus and the woman, Mary. Through the Word of Allah in one of the titles of Jesus in the Koran, which is I think most interesting, is the title the Word. Which is of course, a great biblical title of Christ. So they actually believe that it was spoken divinely in the Mary's womb. Other comments or thoughts. Yes. Well, I think it's a good point. If someone is going to have a sustained ministry in the Arabic speaking world, then there's no way to get around learning Arabic. It's just it's like putting your shoes on in the morning. You've got to do it. But the vast majority of Muslims are not Arab, are not Arab. The vast majority not even close. So just the Muslims in Indonesia alone will outnumber the whole Middle East. So And then the Iranians, of course, are not Arab. So when you actually start looking at the bright and ethnically of Muslims, then it becomes less and less of an issue for a lot of Muslim discussion. So believe me, there are millions of Muslims who do not read Arabic. And we'll be just as impressed that you added an English. But if it helps you to tell Muslims, you know, I know this on Arabic, but I read it in English, they're still impressed because they haven't even read it in English. I was talking to Muslim in Turkey some time ago, and she's just amazed that I read the Koran and she said, you know, I probably should take time to read the Koran.


And I thought, well, gosh, here I am encouraging a muslim to read the Koran. So I said, well, you know, here, read the New Testament, at least at the same time. So I knew she had both a big impact on it for the gospel. Other thoughts? Yes. What do you make of. Yeah, it's of course a good question. And I think we first of all, I have to say we have we don't know because the historiography of Mohammed's revelations is extremely weak. So there's no hard evidence that this has actually occurred in kind of the way that they talk about it occurring. But let's just talk in generalities. Do I believe that it is possible that Muhammad was sincere in believing that he received revelation from God about the oneness of God? I think it's certainly very possible. He could have been a mega, you know, kind of egotistical or whatever. And that's all possible, too. But we all we know from the scriptures themselves that you can be sincere and be sincerely wrong. Like the apostle Paul Saul of Tarsus, was really believed he was serving God by excuse me, by persecuting Christians. So I don't think that Muhammad sincerity or a Buddhist sincerity or a Hindu sincerity is necessarily a barometer to determine whether or not something is true or not. So I don't have any problem if Muhammad was totally sincere. Muhammad must have been fairly compelling to get some people to follow him. I doubt he was a complete huckster because people in that part of the world are fairly discerning about people and they can size people up pretty well. And so my hunch is that Muhammad was probably sincere. Though he was wrong in his rejection of Christ. And I think part of the blame for that.


Must, at least in part, fall upon the church, because by 680, when Muhammad is born and by the time he's his first I'm sorry for poverty, his revelation first realized in 610 A.D.. That means the church had had 600 years merely to put the Bible into Arabic. Go back to your question about Arabic. And they never happened. Two after Mohammed's dead. So if someone had actually trailer the Bible in the Arabic, then Mohammed would not have to rely upon the Polynesians in the adoption list in the area and somebody else to historians to understand Christianity. He could have read the text himself. It could change the whole history of the world. Because of that one omission of the church's life. So rather than trying to find fault with Muhammad, I, I think we need to do a little repentance and ask ourselves, are we neglecting major strategic things of obedience to God? That could make a huge difference in a whole people group responding or not? And I think that's a matter of some serious reflection. Well, I've enjoyed being with you tonight. It's been enjoyable to have this time with you. And it's a privilege to come into Dr. Cooper's class because he's a very esteemed friend and colleague. Please be in prayer for him as he's traveling back from Croatia. And I presume you'll be meeting next week, right? Same time, same place. And I'm sure he must walk in the door next Tuesday with his usual smile. So. Good night. Take care.