I sin – Grant that I may
never cease grieving because of it,
never be content with myself,
never think I can reach a point of perfection.
Kill my envy, command my tongue,
trample down self.
Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure,
to live for thee and not for self,
to copy thy words, acts, spirit,
to be transformed into thy likeness,
to be consecrated wholly to thee,
to live entirely to thy glory.
Deliver me from attachment to things unclean,
from wrong associations,
from the predominance of evil passions,
from the sugar of sin as well as its gall,
that with self-loathing, deep contrition,
earnest heart searching
I may come to thee, cast myself on thee,
trust in thee, cry to thee,
be delivered by thee.
O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that
all things are shadows, but thou art substance,
all things are quicksands, but thou art mountain,
all things are shifting, but thou art anchor,
all things are ignorance, but thou art wisdom.
If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat,
so be it,
but do thou sit at the furnace mouth
to watch the ore that nothing be lost.
If I sin wilfully, grievously, tormentedly,
in grace take away my mourning
and give me music;
remove my sackcloth
and clothe me with beauty;
still my sighs
and fill my mouth with song,
then give me summer weather as a Christian.
From Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Understanding the Differences Between Christianity and Islam
By Timothy George
Category: World Religions, Evangelism
Indexes: Further Reading List, Key Terms for Islam, Historical Timeline
Timothy George was raised in a family that was “a little charismatic,” emphasizing the experience of emotion in worship rather than the stimulus of the mind.(1) Although not encouraged to attain higher levels of education or to pursue formalized training for ministry, in God’s good providence, George was afforded an opportunity to study at Harvard Divinity School where he was “the only evangelical Christian.”(2) George now serves as the dean of Beeson Divinity School, an interdenominational, evangelical institution (and seminary home for the present author). His commitment to evangelicalism includes a high view of the sovereignty of God as well as the trinitarian nature of the Godhead. Beeson’s affirmation of this trinitarian nature is evident in its admissions application(3) requiring each potential applicant to interact with the Apostles’ Creed, which is explicit in its trinitarian understanding.
This trinitarian understanding also lies at the heart of Timothy George’s book Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? as it “is the necessary theological framework for understanding the story of Jesus as the story of God.”(4) George’s impetus for writing the book came in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. In an effort to help others understanding the basic tenets of Islam in light of orthodox Christianity, he has offered this book as a tool. He is quick to say that “this book is not a vigorous apologetic against Islam and its many controversial practices…[but] the doctrine of God is at the heart of both Islamic theology and Christian faith. All other issues, however important, are secondary and derivative.”(5) George argues that Islam rejects the Christian doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and salvation by grace(6) and any effort to evangelize Muslims must inevitably deal with these issues.(7) Oftentimes these issues are misunderstood by Muslims and these misunderstandings have found their way into the Qu’ran. George suggests avoiding the perils of Muslim-Christian debate as it is highly possible to “win and argument and lose a soul.”(8)
The author primarily uses both the Qu’ran and the Bible to outline the basic beliefs of Muslims and Christians. He also quotes Muslim and Christian scholars showing a great balance of research. The author interestingly shows many of the compatibilities between the two holy books as though passages from the Qu’ran could feasibly have been written as passages in the Christian Scriptures.(9) However, it is not sufficient in any evangelism effort to simply point out the similarities between Christianity and any other religion. We must go one step further and preach Jesus Christ as “crucified, risen, and coming again.”(10)
Throughout the book, the author is attempting to answer the question posed by its title: Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? George cautiously answers both “yes” and “no” while he illuminates the need for us to examine and explain the use of terminology that may be misleading.(11) The “yes” comes from the fact that “the Father of Jesus is the only God there is” and therefore he is the God over every other person who has ever lived, including Muhammad.(12) He responds with a “no” because Christians and Muslims “have radically different understandings of the character and nature of God.”(13) However, because of the “yes” answer Christians should have a passion to resolve the “no.” This should not lead us to a prideful contempt of our Muslim neighbor; rather, it should compel us to shed “evangelical tears”(14) for those who are trusting in their own works-based righteousness and not in the atoning death of Christ. A reading of this important and informative book will help each of us to do so.
(1) Conversation with the present author September 11, 2008.
(3) Beeson Divinity School’s application for admission may be accessed here Accessed 9/25/08 for the purpose of this review.
(4) Timothy George, Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Understanding the Differences Between Christianity and Islam (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 59.
(5) Ibid., 16.
(6) Ibid., 41.
(7) Ibid., 132.
(8) Ibid., 128.
(9) Ibid., 71.
(10) Ibid., 74.
(11) "[We] cannot say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God without qualifying biblically what we mean by same and what we mean by God." Ibid., 131.
(12) Ibid., 129.
(13) Ibid., 130. Thoughts on the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and salvation by grace alone are the predominant distinctions between the two.
(14) Ibid., 90.