"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then even Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are found to be false witnesses about God...And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."
1 Corinthians 15:12-18
I remember that it was around 5AM. I had walked from my school in Jerusalem down to the main road to wait for a taxi to take me to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for my flight back to the U.S.
It was still dark out. I sat on my suitcase waiting for the taxi. I remember thinking that it was quite cold. (Desert climates may have hot days, but the nights can really get down there.) I was looking at the walls of the Old City, and at the skyline of West Jerusalem in the moonlight and stars, thinking about home much I would miss Israel and the Middle East.
I sat there in the silence, just thinking. And then I began to hear voices. It was the sound of singing. At first It wafted through the valley that surrounds the old biblical city of Jerusalem. But then I heard it coming over the walls. Soon, I was aware of it everywhere. It was very beautiful. It is a memory that I cherish because it was so powerful.
This is what I heard...
I have only faint memories of me being driven down to Tel Aviv, other than the smell of orange blossoms in orchards, and my ride home on the plane. But I remember hearing THAT song...that "First Call to Prayer" for the Muslims that lived in and around Jerusalem. A devout muslim will pray that prayer 5 times a day.
I grew to be very curious about Islam while living in Israel. I find Islamic history to be very interesting. Islam came into being in the early 7th century C.E., and in a very short time the civilization grew to be incredibly advanced. They invented algebra (Which for a guy like me who sucks at math, it's a mixed blessing at best.), and both the modern compass and the numerical system that we use. Even our concept of writing checks can be traced to Islam. In fact, while my ancestors in Europe were under the impression that a good bleeding would cure what ails you, and that a woman who could float was obviously a witch, those guys were doing cataract surgery. The history and culture are very fascinating, indeed.
And now is where I get to the uncomfortable part...
I have deep respect for muslims, have muslim friends and live next door to a muslim family. I decry the idiotic, anti-muslim rhetoric that I often hear many cheap & greedy politicians and pastors use in public. I also welcome the mosque that is only a mile from my house.
That having been said, I also grieve for the followers of Islam because I fully and completely believe with all my heart that the entire faith is built on a falsehood. The Islamic view of Jesus is wrong.
Completely & Absolutely WRONG!
I don't say that with any glee or malice. I take no pleasure at all in stating this. In fact, I say it with a great deal of grief. But the argument is NOT with me. The argument is with the bible, and the eye-witnesses who tell the stories in the four gospels.
About two weeks ago, this video went viral over the internet.
There were many responses to this spoken word performance. Many people loved it, some people hated it. (I even saw a catholic response to it...which was weird.) I thought the most comprehensive response was this piece written by Zack Hunt at The American Jesus. http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=4970
However, the most unusual response was from the muslim community.
A friend of mine named Mike Morrel http://www.mikemorrell.org/ posted this next video on his Face Book page a few days ago. (No, that is NOT Mike in the video, nor is he a muslim. He is one of those crazy, emergent heretics that give hyper-Calvinists and Dispensationalists fits of the spleen. This makes Mike cool in my book.) Other than being a delightful thorn in the side of Fundamentalists, Mikey also has an awesome beard...but he doesn't wear an islamic skull cap.
Anyway, give this video a gander.
I think that this video gives an excellent overview of Islam in general, but specifically their view of Jesus.
Before I go on I'll include this link to the Islamic view of Jesus/Isa as provided by Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam I have an English language version of the Quran which I have not fully read cover to cover. But if you do not have that available, that link does an excellent summary.
For orthodox muslims, the Quran is to be read in classical Arabic because that was the language that Gabriel/Jibril revealed it to the Prophet Muhammed in. So my english version is necessary, but not considered kosher...or "Halal," in this case. (I had always assumed that the language of heaven was Swedish. What do I know?)
Islam treats Jesus with amazing respect, and shares much of what traditional Christianity does. However, there is one central problem. Other than the fact that they do not view Jesus as the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), in other words that Jesus IS God...which IS what Jesus claimed about himself (John 8:58 & 10:30-33), they also do not believe in either the crucifixion nor the resurrection.
And with that we have a very serious problem.
I am all for tolerance and co-existence. But unfortunately, most Americans tend to interpret Tolerance with Endorsement & Agreement. In fact, it seems that when you talk to most folks they will lump all religions and faiths together as if there is no difference, and that ultimately they are all the same. Personally, if I were a Hindu, I would find it rather insulting to be told that my faith is no different than Judaism. There are major & significant differences that should be acknowledged, respected...and understood!
The fact of the matter is that Christianity rises or falls on the crucifixion and bodily resurrection of Jesus. The Scripture verses I placed at the top of the post prove that. If Islam is correct in that Jesus was never crucified nor resurrected, then as Paul said it is all a lie. In fact, I would go further and say that if none of that is true, then Christianity is idiotic and christians should be mocked for their absolute stupidity.
But if it's true...
The Quran was codified in roughly 633 C.E. In other words, it was revealed to Muhammed roughly 600 years AFTER the eye witness accounts that make up the four Gospels. They clearly contradict each other, and only ONE of them can be right! You cannot have it both ways. "There can be only one!" (Who knew that the Highlander movies would comment on this?)
The fact of the matter is that no one can truly prove to everyone's satisfaction which one is right. Ultimately it comes down to a matter of faith...like virtually everything in life. But let us not kid ourselves that they are the same, or that these differences do not matter.
When I was younger, I looked into other faiths. I was curious. I also sometimes wondered about converting. (I really like much of what I see in Islam and Buddhism. But ultimately if I did I would probably choose the pagan Norse gods of my ancestors because they really knew how to party.) But what finally hit me was the testimony of the Gospels. I couldn't get past the fact that these eye witnesses were willing to die, as many, many, many of them did, to testify to what they saw. They gave their lives saying that Jesus WAS crucified, he WAS resurrected, and that he IS Lord...and not just another prophet. They placed their faith in the Jesus of the Gospels that testify that he is God, and they willingly went to their deaths for that.
How could I possibly ignore that historical fact????
I know that making these statements are not the most politically correct things to say. I know that I may offend and hurt the feelings of many who may read this. As I stated earlier, I say none of this with glee or malice. It makes me sick to my stomach when I see some rejoice at those who are lost.
I say ALL of this because I am convinced and have staked my life & salvation on the truth of the Jesus of the bible. I reject the false Jesus that is presented in the fraudulent bible of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Book of Mormon AND the Quran.
I believe with all my heart and agree fully with Peter when he spoke before the Sanhedrin and said; "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
THAT is MY Jesus! And it is my greatest desire that all humanity would give their lives over to him NOW! Because someday, some day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ IS Lord...and then it will be too late.
And that inconvenient FACT absolutely breaks my heart.