Ask Abdu Murray (August 20-24, 2018)

abdumurray

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

In support of the contest we are doing to support the launch of the third edition of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Abdu Murray is available to answer your questions! You can participate here: Contest: What does Nabeel’s life and story mean to you?

Abdu was a close friend of Nabeel Qureshi. They both came from a Muslim background to faith in Christ and shared the same calling to evangelism. In the third edition of the book, Abdu contributes the first Expert Contribution available in the Appendix, called “Growing up Muslim in America.”

I love spending time with Abdu. His care, humor, and understanding provide the context in which he offers deeply thoughtful and insightful answers. Please do ask the apologetic and evangelistic questions that are on your heart - it will be a blessing for all of us to benefit from the conversation.

Abdu Murray’s bio:

Abdu Murray is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of three books, including his latest, Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World.

For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart.

Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe. He has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television programs all over the world.

Abdu holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer . Abdu is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.


(Carson Weitnauer) #4

Hi friends,

One more thing… I’m excited to share that Zondervan will provide a free copy of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and a copy of Saving Truth to one person each day during Abdu’s Q&A week with us. That’s pretty awesome - not only do you get your question answered by Abdu, but you also have the opportunity to receive a free copy of these amazing books!


(Sarah C) #5

Hello! This is perfect timing. I am currently discussing worldview questions with a couple of atheists, and have plenty of questions to ask Mr. Murray! Can we ask our questions directly in this thread? If so, my first question to begin with is this:
When I pointed out that the atheist worldview does not prevent violence (because there isn’t a moral foundation in the atheist worldview), they claimed that Christianity does not prevent violence either, in practice (citing European colonization/subjugation of other countries and events like the Crusades). I pointed out that colonization and the Crusades aren’t representative of true Christianity, because that’s not what Jesus told his followers to do. But I’m not sure they were convinced. Is there a better way to explain this?


(Samuel Biswas) #6

Hi! I have been struggling with the question of time frame, from the death of Jesus to the ressurrection. In Matthew 12:40 it says Jesus would be in he heart of the Earth for 3 days and 3 nights but calculation doesn’t work out. If Friday is taken as the death of Jesus and Sunday is Easter how does it work out. Could you please help.


(Martin Pitts) #7

My sunday school class is going through the “Jesus Among Secular Gods” Study, and one of our members is taking the conversational goals seriously. When reaching out to one unbeliever he was asked, “If God was who every believer says he is, do you think he would let the world be so divided as it is?” I’m thinking through this, and just not sure how to respond to the question. How would you respond to this?


(Michael Chissus) #8

My name is Michael Chissus and I have a question for Abdu regarding talking to someone with different world views. How does can I best share truth with someone who is teaching others things contrary to what the Bible teaches? ie: “baptism is required for salvation” and “one can loose their salvation?” Thank you for your advice. I am really trying to figure out how to share the truth in a loving and convincing way.


(Ryan D'souza) #9

Hello sir. I live in a fairly liberal but muslim country. What is the best way to go about witnessing to Muslims? What good arguments can I use for topics regarding the Trinity or the resurrection of Jesus? How would you go about doing this?


(Time To Wake Up) #10

God bless you …I am basically a Christian I don’t have any doubt about my faith in Jesus I received him as personal saviour .

My question which has been on my mind since so many years is regarding marriege …Bible says marriege is Great act and Holy…truly all the problems are coming to an individual because of birth …example …a person say any christian gave birth to suppose 5 children it is not sure that all would be saved some may be astray. In this point as a good father I don’t want such thing to be happened to my child in the future but I can’t control it not be happen…so much un belief and sufferings some are even not genuine only for living , so many distracting things from faith are there in this world…so in this context . Is it correct to give birth to children in this corrupted world for a Christian?..I hope you understand my mind. Thank you for answering . God bless you people and guide you


(Steve LePage) #11

Good morning,

The question I have is in regards to the questions of the Jewish leaders in John 1:20-21,

20 he did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “ I am not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “ then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?
He answered, “No.”

Muslims claim that this was one of the Biblical proofs that Mohammed was a prophet. I know that this is a misunderstanding by Jews, just as they had the misunderstanding of Messiah, thinking that he was going to be coming in as conquering hero and free them from Roman rule.

Can you please help me articulating a response to this? Thanks!


(Megan Lykke) #12

Mr Murry, Thanks for being here. I know you have a background in law, so my questions would be how does “law” point us to God and how would I bring this up in coversation with my friends. What are some differences between “God’s law” and the “law of the land”? I also always like to ask, what is your favorite resource for looking up Bible questions? Thank you!


(Abdu Murray) #13

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the question; it’s a really good one because it highlights the importance of carefully used language. When you express that atheism doesn’t “prevent” violence, I’m sure what you mean is that, given atheism, there is no philosophical foundation for being morally outraged at unjustified violence.

However, by saying atheism is bad or false because it doesn’t “prevent violence,” you send the message that atheism is false because it isn’t pragmatic or useful at curbing bad human behavior. So an atheist could respond, “well, Christianity hasn’t been all that pragmatic in curbing bad behavior either, so it must be just as false.” Of course, that’s not what you’re arguing (it’s also false - when Christianity has been taken seriously, there have been massive positive social reforms such as abolition and the establishment of hospitals for the poor). What you really mean is that atheism is not true because of philosophical deficiencies. On atheism, there are no beings higher than human beings. And so our opinions about what’s right and wrong are all there is. That means that morality is subjective and therefore subject to change as our opinions change. In fact, atheist philosopher Michael Ruse would go further and say that on atheism, morality isn’t subjective, it’s altogether illusory.

For morality to be “objective”, it has to be founded on something beyond human opinion. It has to be grounded in something transcendent. That’s why God is a better explanation of objective morality. That’s why Christianity offers philosophical reasons to morally abhor unjustified violence. Christianity tells us that there is an objective moral law giver to whom we owe moral obligations. Atheism simply cannot provide that.

For example, if there is no God and we are just animals like all others, then there is no moral difference between one human killing another and a chimp killing another chimp. After all, lion’s don’t “murder” gazelles.

But if there is a God, and specifically the Christian God who tells us that every human being bears the Imago Dei, then we are actually committing an immoral act when we do violence to another human being without justification. Basically what you’re trying to communicate is this: God is the best explanation of objective moral values and obligations. Atheism either doesn’t explain the existence of objective moral values and obligations or it does a very poor job of it. Yes, atheists can act morally. But when they do, they have no foundation for doing so. The difference is subtle, but it is quite meaningful.

The cross is God’s ultimate statement that we our lives are fundamentally moral. The objective Law Giver gives dignity to our actions by taking the moral consequences seriously.

Thanks for your question.


(Lonnie Collier ) #14

I was curious what Abdu thought about the idea that Islam will be the religion of the Anti-Christ. I have read books by Joel Richardson and if he is correct we are close to the return of Christ. Is Islam the final world empire?


(Samuel Biswas) #15

Hello Abdu. This would be my second question. I hope I’m not bothering you but I can’t help to ask these questions to clarify myself as well as to defend it when in times I might face it and can bring Glory to HIM. My question is -
1.In the Trinity what exactly it is meant by Son or Son of God. Is it meant in earthly terms like relationship between a child and father or something more significant.
2. Where was Jesus before he came to this Earth ? Like as a Christian I believe God became man in the person of Jesus but where was he ( place ) and how was he ( what is the Trinity look like, 3 individual spirits or something) before being born as a man.

Would like you to please help me out with these questions.I hope I was able to clarify myself, if not please let me know so that I can reconstruct my question in a more detailed manner. Thank you.


(Abdu Murray) #16

@Mkchissus:

Hi Michael. Great question! I recorded a short video to answer it.

Blessings!


(Samuel Biswas) #19

Is it fair for God to send a life saver person to eternal damnation? To illustrate it, suppose Mother Theresa was not a Christian and she could have been a Hindu, a Muslim or naturalist and so on but continued the same loving and caring work for the poor and sick as she did. Would she’d been rejected for eternal life as Jesus says no one comes to the father EXCEPT through HIM. If not rejected to enter the peace , why wouldn’t she as well because Jesus is the only way and apart form Christians no one else believes it .

Could you please respond Abdu and also for the above 3 questions I posted. I really need to understand those issues.


(Sarah C) #20

Dear Mr. Murray,

Thank you so much for your detailed answer. You said it exactly right, “there is no philosophical foundation for being morally outraged at unjustified violence…atheism is not true because of philosophical deficiencies” (I just sometimes have trouble putting things into words. So thank you for explaining it much more clearly than I can :slight_smile: )

I just heard back from my atheist friend (we are writing back and forth), and to be honest, some of the things she says are confusing…I recognized a few logical fallacies and some misunderstood terms, but I wonder if perhaps sometimes people deliberately misunderstand things because, as Nabeel Qureshi wrote “people who want to avoid the truth usually succeed.”

I probably can’t (and probably shouldn’t) answer all of her points because it may not be helpful, ultimately, but I have a couple questions about this process:

  1. How do you address people who have lots of questions, but sometimes write confusingly/seem confused, and also seem very adamant about their beliefs? I try to be kind/respectful/clear, but I wonder how to be more effective and not heavy-handed.

  2. Specifically, this person has lots of issues with the Bible, claiming that God advocates genocide and evil (Lot + daughters incest, Old Testament stories about Canaan, Elisha and the youths/bear attack, etc).

For the Lot/incest story, I pointed out that just because something happened in history doesn’t mean God approves of it, far from, in fact.

For the others, I want to point out that her interpretation of those events are not accurate (the way I understand it, Elisha was mobbed by dangerous youths, they weren’t innocent little boys; and Canaan wasn’t destroyed for no reason–the Canaanites were committing atrocities and hurting themselves and others), but I’m afraid she might not get it or pointing these things out will not be useful.

Should I actually point out incorrect thinking regarding those stories, or leave it be?


(Ethan Thomas) #21

Hello Mr. Murray,

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. My question to you is one that I’ve also posed to the RZIM Connect community in another thread, but I’ll do a very brief recap here for the sake of time. An atheist I observed online in answering the question of God’s sovereignty stated that life under the authority of a God is essentially equal to living under the rule and oppression of an egotistical dictator, or as they themselves put it; “a celestial North Korea”. Basically they stated that mankind can only thrive and progress when they are absolutely free of any kind of obligation or rulership, be it man-made or divine. How would you respond to such a statement?

Again, thank you!


(Abdu Murray) #22

@sam:

Thanks for your question. Here’s a short video answer I recorded for you.

Hope that helps!


(Abdu Murray) #23

HI @meglyk!

Thanks for the question. I’m actually working on presenting material on the transcendent foundations of law, so this is quite timely!

When you look at the ideas of thinkers like Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and the rest, you begin to see that the basis for why we have law is to bring humanity out of the “state of nature” and into the “state of civilization,” What is meant by the “stateof nature” is akin to the “law of the jungle.” In other words, animals live in teh “state of nature,” where might makes right, the weak are killed and eaten by the strong and powerful, and so on. Legal theorists realized that without some kind of group allegiance to something other than sheer power, we’d be doomed to live as animals because human nature is such that we are self-seeking and often victimize people who are at a disadvantage (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and so on). So, the idea is that if we all consent to be governed by law, we will be better off.

What this all points to is something specific that God tells us about reality. First, we are created in God’s image, and so there is something about humanity that is objectively different and more valuable than the rest of creation. Unlike lions or chimps, we have the ability to transcend our basic instincts for procreation, violence, and the like. But, we are also quite flawed morally and so we need law to help us overcome those instincts. In other words, the fact that we have law (man-made) simultaneously proves that we are higher than animals but also that we have a sin problem that needs to be controlled (that’s why our laws keep getting more numerous and complicated - our sinfulness is always trying to find “loopholes” to justify our behavior). I find it fascinating that the fundamental and paradoxical truths about humanity from the Bible are simultaneously proven!

God’s law has at least two components. First, there is the overarching moral category. Whether through the Ten Commandments or the 613 other Mosaic laws, there is a moral current that runs. So while the Mosaic law may not apply anymore in the strict sense to believers (Jesus having fulfilled it), the moral law still does apply. As Os Guinness has said, the Mosaic Covenant was the precursor to American constitutionalism. The Hebrews agreed to be bound by God’s law and be faithful to Him. That was the “consent of the governed.” They acknowledged that God’s ways are higher than our ways and consented to be governed by His ways.

Constitutionalism is based on this same idea of the consent of the governed. While we are not a theocracy in America, we hold to the same principal of consenting to be governed by certain principles. And those principles are moral principles (like the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as described in the Declaration of Independence and protected by the Constitution). Those moral principles are only objectively moral if God exists because objective morality exists only if God exists. Otherwise, morality would be subject to human opinion (which changes over time). What is wrong today could be considered right tomorrow. Also, consider the very idea of inalienable rights. A right is inalienable if it cannot be taken away by a human or any group of humans. But if rights are granted to us by humans or human governments, then our rights can be taken away becuase the power to grant is the power to remove. Now, we might argue, people’s rights are taken away all the time when they are wrongly enslaved or killed or what have you. I would argue that in those instances, their rights are not taken away, but are violated. A person who is enslaved still has the right to liberty even in bondage. But that right has been violated. Once they are liberated, that right is fully expressed.

So much more could be said. But the point is this: the very existence of law and our need for it actually points to God. From our specialness in distinction to animals to our sinfulness in needing to be put in check to the fact that we have inalienable rights, all things about the human condition point to a God who wants to restore our original condition, which is to have relationship with Him.

As for favorite resources for Bible questions - oh boy! I have a lot of go-to books. Let me suggest a couple:
When Critics Ask and When Skeptics Ask by Norm Geisler
Hard Sayings of the Bible by Walter Kaiser
The Apologetics Study Bible (which has great footnotes and articles that can help get you started on a topic).
The Bible Answer Book by Hank Hannegraaf
The Case for Christianity (a little handbook by Lee Strobel).

I also use Logos Bible Software, which is a great tool for Bible study in a variety of ways.

I hope this helps!


(Abdu Murray) #24

Hi @SarahC:

This is really at the heart of evangelism. I actually wrote an entire chapter in my second book, [Grand Central Question,](Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews https://www.amazon.com/dp/0830836659/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_z0QFBbV6M0BAX) on the ways we can go about seeing if someone is actually interested in the truth or just winning an argument. But more than that, I offer some ways to get the other person to see that they are actually trying to avoid the truth for the sake of comfort. I’ve asked open-ended questions about motivations to see if someone is truly sincere (like “what if Christianity were actually true? Would you believe it? What would happen next in your life if you decided to follow Jesus?). Most people will say that they will go where the truth leads, but the reality is that deep inside, they might suddenly realize that they aren’t after truth, but comfort. Take a look at the prologue of Grand Central Question. That may help.

When someone is writing something confusing or maybe even deliberately trying to be that way, it’s often a good idea to ask follow up questions like “what did you mean by…?”. That gives the other person the respect of acknowledging that they may have something important to contribute to the conversation and that you want to actually address their true concern.

Also, when someone lodges objections to the Bible or Christianity, it is incumbent upon them to actually prove what they are saying (just as it is incumbent on you to prove any claims you make). In other words, the person who makes the claim bears the burden of proof. Don’t rush to try to defend against an objection until the objection has actually been fully made and substantiated.

Finally, there are some great resources addressing the issues your friends is raising. I would recommend that both of you read through Paul Copan’s [Is God a Moral Monster](Is God a Moral Monster? Publisher: Baker Books https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004TF91KC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_b2QFBb0AA00EJ)? If your friend isn’t willing to read through it and then discuss it, then perhaps you will be an answer as to whether your friend wants to sincerely seek the truth.

May the Holy Spirit Guide you as you share the Truth!