It’s Saturday Sept. 10th and the news media is gearing up for the 10th Anniversary of 9-11. An interview I saw this morning hosted several religious leaders – all espousing the need for religious tolerance and reconciliation. “Christianity” was of course represented by yet another illiterate theological fool; and so as your typical compromising “Christian,” he was very ecumenical in his comments. And needless to say, there were no references to sin or the need for salvation – only the need for all faiths to come together and recognize their “similarities.”
But there’s little similarity between biblical Christianity and Islam. To demonstrate this we'll use a very simple but very effective illustration. I've found that it's helped to clarify the argument for Christians as well as bring about conviction when dealing with the Muslims. Here it is:
From the illustration above, Sarah was Abraham’s wife and Hagar was Sarah’s handmaiden. God told Abraham and Sarah that one day they’d have their own child. But as time passed and Sarah’s impatience grew, she suggested to Abraham that he sleep with Hagar to produce a male heir. They would then adopt the child as their own – thus fulfilling the promises of God. Abraham evidently thought this was a pretty good idea; and so he sleeps with Hagar and Ishmael is born.
Of course this was all wrong because the Bible teaches that a marriage is to be between one man and one woman – unless of course there's a death or a biblical reason for divorce. But in this case there were none and so the only conclusion we can draw from this is that Abraham was sinning when he slept with Hagar. That aside….
After the birth of Ishmael, a few more years pass and then Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah. This was a miracle because Sarah had never given birth and because she had long stopped ovulating. (She was "doubly barren" you could say.) And so any child born to her at such an advanced age would clearly be a miracle from God. Ishmael was the sole product of man’s initiative apart from the will of God – a “work of the flesh,” as it were; and so we have a child by promise and a child of the flesh.
Did Abraham love Ishmael? Yes he did. Did God love Ishmael? Yes he did. But still, one was born as a result of the promises of God while the other was born as a result of the flesh, and a child of the flesh will not inherit the promises of God and so they were eventually separated.
After the separation, the descendants of Isaac eventually led to the birth of Jesus Christ while the descendants of Ishmael eventually led to the birth of Mohammad. Mohammed is in his grave in Medina (Saudi Arabia) where he can be visited today. Jesus Christ is no longer in his grave; and so the question now becomes, Which would you rather serve? The one who’s in his grave or the one who’s no longer there?
The Muslim response to this is usually one of silence containing an enlightened grin – as if to say, Touché. They never question me regarding the facts of the story because most of them already seem to know it, and so it’s very easy for them to follow along. What does throw them for a loop is the question at the end. It forces them to reconcile the difference between the child born of promise and the child born of the flesh. It’s a subtle presentation of the gospel. And since it's a presentation of the gospel, then it is inherently powerful because we serve a living God and not one who’s still in his grave.
Again, the story as I present it is very basic. Sometimes I add a little more detail, but not much. It just depends on what's needful at the time. But the question at the end is always the same: Which would you rather serve? The one who's in his grave or the one who's no longer there?
There is no reconciliation here. The two children form two different lineages. One led to the birth of Messiah and the other led to the birth of yet another false religion. Yet, today, there are many compromisers who are trying to reconcile the two based upon some sort of “common ground.” We now even have a name for it; it’s called "Chrislam," and it's becoming very popular. But theologically there is no common ground. And so what God has separated, man is now trying to reconcile. We are so foolish. Selah.