Magazine article Islamic Horizons

An Islamic Approach to Christianity

Magazine article Islamic Horizons

An Islamic Approach to Christianity

Article excerpt

Allow me to introduce myself to you. I am a retired pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who spent 30 years serving churches in Virginia and Texas. I have also taught in community colleges as well as a Presbyterian seminary. Following my graduate school days at Scotland's University of St. Andrews, I have been ver)' involved in interfaith activities. My area of research was in the history of Islamic-Christian relations.

In 2013, I took early retirement at the age of 55 to devote my life to working with Muslims and Christians as they "get to know one another better." I have devised an approach to the Islamic study of Christianity that has prob ably upset many of the Christians whom I have known over the years. Some will call me a "closet Muslim"; others will perhaps "pray" for me because my "salvation" is in jeopardy.

I share my approach because I believe that my faith journey, as directed by God, has prepared me for this very approach. I interpret the Hebrew Scriptures (hereafter HS) and New Testament (hereafter NT) Islamically based upon my training, which has given me a working knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac and Arabic.

At this point, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director of the Washington, D.C.-based ISNA Oftice for Interfaith & Community Alliances for gifting me with an English translation of the Quran, which is subtitled "with references to the Bible." Edited by Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford, its notes on Biblical references are outstanding. It served as the inspiration for what follows below.

So, who am I? What do I believe? 'What makes me who I am?

I identify myself as a "son of Abraham." For over 30 years I have read the HS, the NT and the Quran on a daily basis and considered them "the Word of God." For me, the Quran (and Islam) answer all of the "big" questions related to humanity's ageless search for meaning and for God. The Quran makes me "who I am."

I am a student of church history. Imperial Western Christianity produced many hurts through its aggressive missionar)' activities, despite Jesus' (alayhi al-salaam) sole request of the early church that it be "one" (Gr. monos), which means "same" and "united." Its failure in this regard has caused it to hurt itself, Islam and other religions. In the pursuit of its own imperial ambition, the church implemented long-term policies of capitalism, colonialism, slavery, imperialism, poverty and other negativities. Just as the Wests civilization has occasionally sought to colonize the planet, so has its imperial version of Constantines church sought to "save" the world.

The Quran teaches that humanity was created to be one: tawhid. The late Dr. Ismail al-Faruqi masterfully led this charge until his unfortunate murder in 1986. Islam teaches tawhid because that is the way God created humanity. He is One, and every believer should strive, by submitting to God (the literal meaning of "Islam"), to make the world one. But humanity's powerful elites have always chosen to create racism instead.

This idea is supported by human anthro - pology. History records no instance of a people who, in their natural state, professed atheism. Thus, each human being can be said to have an innate belief in a Supreme Being, either one that exists on Its own or is located at the head of a "spiritual hierarchy" of lesser divinities. And, modern science teaches us that we are all descended from a common ancestor and thus one family.

In the year 1492, the Old World "bumped" into the New World. The result, as history records, has been a rather ugly - and ongoing - chronicle of genocide, warfare, man-made borders, economic exploitation, slavery and imperial colonialism. In other words, the Old Worlds explorers and elites, thinking that they had "discovered" new worlds and "strange" new people, quickly forgot that these previously unknown people were part of the human family created by God. …

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