Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Sharia Love? What is That?
07/17/2010 - James WhiteThe following video was posted two weeks ago. It is titled, "Arrested in Dearborn? Not! Sharia Love in Dearborn 2010." It was posted by Josh McDowell's ministry.
Let's leave aside, for the moment, the inappropriateness of the background music. The accusation that has been repeated for the past number of weeks is simple. How can folks like Josh McDowell get along just fine at the Arabic Festival but Nabeel Qureshi and David Wood can't? I mean, they are all Christians, and clearly, since we have video and audio, even Josh McDowell had cameras and recording equipment, just like David and Nabeel. So how come David, Nabeel, Paul, and Nageen ended up in the slammer, and nobody else did? They must have done something wrong!
I found this video interesting for many reasons. At the end you have a number of stills that, seemingly, are meant to communicate the idea that a lot of witnessing was going on. But, if you look carefully, you will see one man in three of the shots: Nadir Ahmed, sometime Islamic apologist (if you need a reminder about Nadir, click here). I do not know if McDowell's folks know Nadir Ahmed, but I would love to have heard those conversations. Remember, Nadir even showed up at PRBC one Sunday night demanding I debate him.
The second thing I found interesting was the books being given away free. They are not, of course, specifically on the subject of Christianity and Islam. They are fictional novels, as I understand it. While there is nothing wrong with that, I do have a hard time equating distribution of fictional literature with gospel proclamation. The video ends with the saying, "Until the whole world hears." Hears what, specifically? Well, the gospel of course. But what is involved in making sure Muslims "hear" the gospel? Well, let's step away from this immediate context for a moment and answer the question in another context, then come back to Dearborn.
For years we have stood outside the Mesa Easter Pageant in Mesa, Arizona, witnessing to Mormons. If you want the Mormons to "hear" the gospel, what must you do? Well, you have to know what Mormons believe. They think they know the gospel better than anyone else. They believe they alone possess the gospel in its fulness. And their gospel finds its origination in an exalted man from another planet who became a god. The end of their gospel is a ritualized system of works righteousness that leads to exaltation to godhood. In other words, there are a whole host of foundational issues that must be addressed with Mormons before they will have "heard" the gospel. Simply telling them, "Believe in Jesus!" is insufficient. They already think they do. Telling them to repent does no good, since they think they already have. No, to attempt to get the Mormons to "hear" the gospel requires very specialized discussion about specific issues.
Now lets go back to Dearborn. In fact, let's recall the specific questions that the young Muslim boys were asking Nabeel Qureshi before the Dearborn police arrested him in the middle of his witnessing encounter. Listen to the video carefully after Nabeel prays with a Christian. The crowd is made up of...kids. They have questions for Nabeel. The first question is asking him why he wants to put down Muslims (I sense that someone was indeed agitating these guys---but it wasn't Nabeel). Nabeel answers clearly and logically (2:55-3:25). Note then the next question, "So you came here looking for trouble with the security guards?" Again sounds to me like they were being prompted by others. But notice how deftly and masterfully Nabeel turns the young guy's question into an opportunity to set the record straight! He calls it a "good question" and then explains what really happened the year before. The kid in the front really seems to be "digging" and Nabeel remains perfectly calm and collected (so much for the truthfulness of the police report!). At 4:15 the Muslim boy says, "So preach to me then." Now, notice something: if Nabeel had lost his temper or his cool, or was, in fact, looking for trouble, he never would have gotten to this point. I have seen this exact situation many times personally. A young person comes up, has a chip on his shoulder, has heard terrible things about us, and only when I have honestly, fairly answered all the accusatory questions first, do I then get the chance to turn the conversation to something of eternal value. That is exactly what happened here. If Nabeel had avoided the direct questions, he never would have heard, "So preach to me then."
First question asked, "Why is Christianity better than Islam?" Nabeel immediately hits the heart of the issue (which you must do with young people today---they simply do not have a very long attention span!) and that is the person of Jesus Christ. Here is a man who knows the issues and has a goal in mind: communicating to this young Muslim teenager (and all the others who are listening all around him) the truth that the Isa of Islam is not the Jesus of Christianity, and only the Jesus of Christianity can save. And note what happens. The boy is silenced. He has no response. So a friend kicks in with, "So why is there more than one Bible?" Same kind of question we have heard in Mesa in the exact same situation (except we would be talking to young Mormons, not young Muslims---same number of letters, very different beliefs). Then the rapidfire starts. "Why is Jesus better than Allah?" "Wasn't Jesus a man, a human?" "When was Jesus decided as a God?" Note how this young boy has been lied to by his leaders. Where does such historical falsehood come from? We have dealt with one such glowing example here. But Nabeel again hits a home run and answers clearly and directly. Next question, "How could Jesus be a god if he came out of a woman?" These are standard Muslim questions, and Nabeel handled them perfectly well...right up to the point when a police officer interrupted a witnessing situation and ended his opportunity to answer these young men's questions. And obviously, there was no riot about to break out. I have found over the years that when you give a clear, compelling, logical, satisfying, and most importantly, biblical answer to these questions, young people will listen, and will show respect. That is what happened. And an excellent question had just been asked, showing again that these kids have been deceived by the likes of Ahmed Deedat, about there being 80 Bibles, etc., and right then, right as a Christian could have helped this young man understand the truth---in come the Dearborn PD to rescue them! An amazing and chilling sight to be sure.
Let me be clear here: Nabeel Qureshi handled that situation perfectly. I can only hope that in some small way I helped to prepare him to do that. Nabeel, well done brother.
This leads me to the odd statement made by Josh McDowell in the video posted above: "In two and a half days...not one argument, not one person has raised their voice, not one conflict. Yet every person walking out of here knowing that I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I'd like them to know Him too. That's what makes it all worthwhile." Was Nabeel having an argument? If you call answering those questions an argument, then it must follow that McDowell never explained to anyone what it means for him to "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" in a way that they can understand how that differs from their own profession of belief in Isa. The fact of the matter is, there is a conflict between Christianity and Islam. All you have to do is read the Qur'an and you will know this. Those young teenagers standing around Nabeel knew it. Their questions reflect it. If you are not talking about the things that separate us, just what are you talking about? In other words, loving, truthful speech to Muslims will be speech that involves conflict. That conflict can be handled with grace, like Nabeel did it, and like I try to to do it as well, but when you avoid the conflict, you are no longer speaking in Christian love.
I have been told by some that there was witnessing going on around McDowell's table. That's great. I hope there was. But that makes those who have condemned Nabeel and David for doing what they did just a tad bit inconsistent. Nabeel was witnessing, calmly, biblically, with grace and truth on his side. We now have indisputable evidence of this, and I have a feeling as more of the footage gets posted all the rest of the slurs and attacks that have been launched by others against them will be laid to rest one by one.
But here is my real concern. Two times now Josh McDowell has posted a video with the phrase "Sharia love" in it. There is no such thing as sharia love. Ask the persecuted believers languishing in Islamic prisons around the world. Ask those who live in fear of death every day in lands where sharia is practiced. Ask those are beaten for proclaiming the gospel in Muslim lands. Sharia and love do not go together. Sharia is law, sharia is obedience, sharia knows no grace. It is an insult to the persecuted church to pass out fictional literature at an Arabic festival in the United States of America and call it "sharia love." True love, God's love, speaks the truth with clarity. Nabeel Qureshi was showing love to those young Muslim teenagers. May I boldly suggest that to be "nice" to those young men, while allowing them to continue in their soul-destroying deception, is anything but loving? You may well say, "Oh, but we hope to get a chance to talk to them later, in a better context." Who are you to boast about tomorrow? And what is more, please, pray tell, give me some biblical precedent for this. Where did the Apostles engage in the proclamation of the gospel in such a fashion? It seems to me that many of those criticizing Nabeel and David would have criticized Paul for going to Mars Hill, or right into the synagogues (which got Paul arrested, and even beaten, in the most civilized culture of the day, I might add).
Muslims need to hear a clear, clarion, bold, and authoritative proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to hear about a Jesus who is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, their Creator, about Whom they cannot be ambivalent. They do not need a Jesus, or a Christianity, that is soft and warm and gooey and unchallenging to the Islamic denial of its very heart and soul. There is everything good about pursuing relationships with Muslims. But do not confuse that process with evangelism and proclamation. It is the gospel that saves, a gospel that has been clearly proclaimed in language the target audience can understand. And that is what Nabeel Qureshi was doing when the Dearborn PD decided to arrest him for so doing. And after all the proper lawsuits have taken place, and justice (please Lord!) prevails, there is one sobering thought to keep in mind: woe be to any man, any woman, who stands in the way of the heralds of the King. A day of judgment is coming when that King will sit enthroned. Justice will, indeed, be done, if not in this life, surely in eternity itself.