Of all the things I talk about with my office mates, research, cultural traditions, English idioms, Communism, the one-child policy, and the proper pronunciation of the letter “v”, probably the most interesting topic of conversation is religion.
Besides the one other (American) Catholic office mate, the others are all undeclared, Buddhist variants, or atheists, but all sometimes go to the Christian events on campus for the free food.
We’ve had some pretty good discussions about God but by far the most intense conversations come from another Muslim student from Saudi Arabia who’s office is down the hallway from mine. He’s very friendly and shares his Arabian “coffee” with all of us (it tastes more like tea). He comes in periodically to say “hi”, comment on why I have no children, and usually starts a controversial discussion with a one liner, such as the following:
1. “Seriously, why would God become man? How can Jesus be God?”
or my new personal favorite:
2. “Where in the Bible does it say you can’t have four wives?”
Usually when he poses these questions, I try to laugh it off and avoid confrontation. At an academic institution I don’t really want to get into intense argument in the middle of the day. And with my faith being so personal, it can be hard to just discuss it when you know that the other person has no interest in understanding your side (although this could be refuted since he is asking me the questions). Mostly, I’m usually caught very off guard and have no idea how to respond most concisely. And I honestly didn’t know much about Islam to understand how to talk to him in the first place.
In this last conversation that took place, I bucked up and held my own. I explained why if the Islam, Christian, and Jewish faith were all exactly the same then why aren’t we all Jewish?. I talked about the fullness of the faith After a couple of rebuttals he admitted he didn’t know anything about the Bible and actually ended the conversation himself!
So, most recent New Year’s goal? Learn more about Islam apologetics. When I became Catholic I heavily explored Jewish, protestant, baptist and even Mormon apologetics, but I only briefly looked into Islam. Do you all know much about it?
I found a very interesting site that I’ve been pouring over and I found a couple of interesting books at the local Catholic bookstore that I’ll have to go back and buy next paycheck. Given the current world tensions between these two religions, I’m guessing its a good thing for most people to be educated in. Given my proximity to this certain zealous individual, I’d like to educate myself more appropriately for the sake of discussion :)
As a starting place, I learned that Islam started out as a heresy of Christian teaching and not an entire other religion. This is particularly interesting when you consider the Crusades against Islam were to stop the spread of this heresy. I know I need to learn a lot more about them, but I always find it interesting when the mistakes from the Crusades are thrown in the Churches face when people don’t know all the details (*not claiming the Church acting appropriately, I just think that with the explosion of such a dangerous heresy, maybe their reaction is more understandable. Again, I need to learn more about this).
Most importantly, I think the quote from Galatians 1:6-9 sums it up quite well:
6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Maybe I’ll post more once I have more sources to pull from!