3/6/14 Del about 40
A software engineer from Morocco had an interesting take on the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: “It’s like comparing the most recent version of software to it’s previous versions. The old ones have much in common and were good in their time and we respect them for it, but Islam is like the latest and best version.” Del told me he grew up in a moderate school of thought within Islam called “Maliki”, which he said is being actively promoted as the best way to export Islam to the United States. He believes that all three religions worship the same God, but clearly favors Islam because of his “latest best version” frame of reference. So it was easy for me to find many points of agreement with him about the nature and character of God and our relationship to Him, most of which was based on Genesis. Like so many people, though, including many who claim Christianity, Del conveniently overlooked the Genesis account of our rebellion and condemnation by God, whose perfect justice demands a just consequence for our sin. After establishing agreement with Del that we all know good from evil, yet break God’s holy law anyway – “eating that forbidden fruit all over again every time we do” – I asked “If justice means that the punishment must fit the crime, what could we possibly do to “pay” for our sins against God?” Del had been holding up his side of the conversation with many opinions and examples, but now he fell silent. He had to admit that nothing we can do could satisfy God’s demand for perfect justice. He agreed that within Islam there is an anxiety among people that “they never know if they have done enough” to please God. It was at this point that I broke away from finding commonalities between Islam and Christianity, and went to the heart of our differences: “Do you want to know why Christians insist that Jesus is the Son of God and not just a great prophet like Islam teaches?” He did want to know. “It’s because if Jesus were just a created being, like the sheep and goat sacrifices of the Old Testament, then His death on the cross in our place would not be sufficient to pay for our sins against a holy God. Only a perfectly holy and innocent sacrifice would be a sufficient sacrifice to pay the debt that we owe ” Del didn’t even mention the belief in Islam that Jesus was never crucified, because at this point I believe he wanted to believe there was a way to satisfy God’s justice outside of the punishment of hell. When I first reached out to him while he was working on his computer, Del had looked at his watch and told me he didn’t have much time to talk. But after I took a genuine interest in hearing about his experiences in Islam, our initial exchange stretched into an hour and a half conversation, the second half of which was mostly about the Gospel. All it took was a little boldness, a willingness to listen and find commonalities, and a clear understanding of our differences. I believe that Del can now see that Jesus was, is and will always be the “latest and best version”!