Ask Abdu Murray (February 11-15, 2019)

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends, @Interested_In_Ask_RZIM,

@Abdu_Murray, RZIM’s North American Director, is ready to answer your question this week!

Abdu is a compelling speaker with a kind heart. With his legal background, he provide incisive analysis of the toughest questions of our day. However, he does so knowing the cost of following Jesus, as he personally paid a high price to convert from Islam to Christianity.

Please ask your heartfelt questions of Abdu - we will all benefit from the dialogue.


Abdu Murray’s RZIM biography:

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.

(Devon ) #2

Hello Abdu,

I Am currently discussing Islam with a Very Confident Muslim. Right now He keeps asking me to show why The Quran is False and to show the Jesus is God and The Bible is correct. I have been disscussing these things with Him. And Have been praying for Him. I almost feel like I don’t know what else to do, I still share truth with Him, and I converse with Him about other things going on in his life. It’s hard because, I sometimes get discouraged.

Is there anymore that I can or should do? Or should I just continue with what I Am doing now?

Thank you very much.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #3

Hello Abdu! I loved your half hour talk recently from the Zacharias Institute on Islam and freedom!

My question is an opinion one that I would love to have you weigh in. I have been following David Wood’s Acts 17 Apologetics youtube account and listened to many of his videos on Islam. As you are very aware, he played a big part in the conversation of Nabeel Qureshi. A couple of months ago he teamed up with two other “youtube evangelists” and did over thirty satirical videos called Islamicize me where they pretended to live out some of Islam’s most ridiculous teachings. James White, a noted and well respected person in the Christian community, responded by rebuking their efforts, calling it unbiblical.

I want to know if you have seen any of these videos and what are your thoughts on how they characterize Islam. Is this a biblical way of exposing a false prophet and his teachings? What do you think they could have done differently?

Here are all their videos in order:

Here is James White’s response:

Here is David and the other guys involved responding:

I know this is a lot to take in but I wanted to know your thoughts on David’s approach to refuting Islam through these satirical videos. Thanks for taking the time to consider my questions.

(Bill Brander) #4

Good day Abdu, I have heard that there once was a Muslin king who recalled all copies of the Quran within the land. After which he compiled one copy then destroyed all the ones which had been returned, and reissued ‘his’ correct copy.

If this is true, is the Quran not as redacted as Moslem’s say the Bible is?
Thank you

(Ciprian-Ionatan Cotlet) #5

Hello Sir!
I have a few questions which are closely related to each other. I don’t know if this is your area of expertise but I hope you will be able to answer me.

Why would God love us? Why would He send Jesus to die for us? What is it about love that would determine God to do that? Why would God do anything? Why would He decide to make Creation? How do we know He is not an apathetic God? If God is God then He is not determined by something(love) to do anything, because He is God, right? Could you please explain? Pondering about this questions just makes me more confused.

Thank you!

(Isaac Smith ) #6

Hi Abdu,
How do you go about dealing with members of the Church who believe things that are not biblically accurate? I often struggle when someone who is a believer believes something is okay while the Bible says otherwise. I am referring to Biblical absolutes as opposed to convictions (although absolutes that are still secondary to the Gospel such as the sanctity of marriage).
Thank you!

(Amulya) #7

Hi Brother Abdu,

Recently, a friend of mine approached me with a video that presents verses that seem to contradict themselves. For example, Micah 7:18 says “God’s anger doesn’t last forever”, while Jer 17:4 says “God’s anger will last forever”. You can watch the video in youtube, it’s called “Quiz show- Bible Contradictions”. I do understand some of them are taken out of context, but some of them bother me too. Because I am someone who believes that Bible is inerrant and non-contradictory. How do I deal with verses like these? And how do I reply my friend?
Thank you very much.

(Emilee Lavigne ) #8

I am so glad you asked this. Me too.

(Emilee Lavigne ) #9

Hi Abdu. I have really enjoyed when I have heard you speak at my church, Kensington, in Troy, Michigan. I also love that you are a fellow Metro-Detroiter. Here is my question. I have a LOVELY friend who is Muslim. I am drawn to her and the more we spend time together, the more honest our conversations become. I was very impacted by Nabeel Qureshi’s books, and am trying to just love her, and pray for her instead of pushing my faith on her. She is very committed and active in hers. The other day, she brought up a desire for me to watch a video created by Muslims which teaches about their teachings of the birth of Jesus. She was very excited for me to see what our Faith’s have in common. I agreed, of course, and asked then if she would watch something about the life or crucifixion of Christ? She said yes! Sooooo please help me. I need a good video to show her…I need your opinion. She is a US transplant…moved here from Lebanon (to Dearborn) when she was 13 years old. Now a beautiful mother in her early 30’s. Thanks so much. PS she is totally open to going to interfaith dialogues with me…and she has even come to my church a few times to watch my kids perform at our music program!

(Steven M Levine) #10

Hello Abdu,
Thank you for the work you that you do. I have been privileged to hear you speak in person, which is even better than watching your YouTube videos.

My question is about Heaven. I understand John 14:6, and others like it. Nobody comes to the father except through Jesus. And, it’s easy for Christians to quote this passage, and sometimes even use it as a cudgel. You and Ravi, and many others though, have focused on not answering a question, rather answering a questioner. And that’s where I am with this scripture.

My fathers side of the family has been Jewish for as far back as we have records, which at this point is around 1810 in what is now Belarus. My dad was a wonderful man, who passed away far too early, when I was only 8 years old. He was my best friend, and even though I am 43, not a day goes by without me thinking of him. His parents, were both wonderful people. I loved my grandparents very much, and they loved me.

So, the question becomes, how can I reconcile what the Scriptures say, with the strong conviction that I will see my dad and grandparents, when my time comes pass on from this life?

(Abdu Murray) #11

Hi Devon,

I’m so grateful that you’re sharing your faith so deliberately. I know it can be daunting, and sometimes frustrating, especially with someone like to put you on the defensive. I take it from the way you’ve phrased your question that this is what’s happening. He seems to have stacked the deck in his favor and shielded himself from having to prove anything, even to himself.

If he’s demanding that you prove (1) the Quran is false, (2) that Jesus is God, and (3) the Bible is true, is he willing to shoulder the burden himself? Could you demand that he prove (1) The Quran is true (and the word of God), (2) that Jesus never claimed to be God, and (3) the Bible is false? If he’s not willing, then you know that he’s also unwilling to have a fair and sincere discussion.

Consider this approach: First, agree on the ground rules for dialogue. Would your Muslim friend agree that the person who is making a claim bears the burden of proving that claim to be true? That seems to be intuitively sensible in any kind of discussion like this. In other words, it is not your burden to prove that the Quran is false, it is his burden to prove the Quran is true. Actually, as a Muslim, he hasn’t even higher burden. He has to prove that the Quran is the inerrant and perfect word of God and that what we have today has no changes in it since Muhammad spoke it. You see, the entire Islamic faith depends on the divine inspiration of the Quran. It’s one thing for a document to be “true”. That doesn’t mean it came from God. It’s another thing to prove that it has divine origin. There is a lot of evidence that the Quran has been redacted, edited, and changed over the centuries. Plus, there is plenty of evidence that it doesn’t contain scientifically accurate information, quite the opposite actually.

One example of a troubling aspect of the Quran is its denial of Jesus’ crucifixion in Sura 4:157-158. This is a problem because, by far, the great weight of historical evidence demonstrates that Jesus did die by crucifixion. This comes from secular scholars who have no reason to be biased for or against this claim. Your friend bears the tremendous (and insurmountable burden) of proving that Jesus wasn’t crucified and that he didn’t die on the cross

I’ve also found that sometimes (but not always), confident Muslims really haven’t put their beliefs to criticism. They often swallow claims that the Qur’an hasn’t been changed, that they Bible has, that Jesus never claimed to be God, etc. without actually seeing if those things are true. Perhaps you can ask your Muslim friend what he’s done to see if his beliefs are true. What material has he looked at from those who don’t agree with them? What has he found to be the toughest challenges? He may have done this, but he may not have. If not, then it seems to me that his confidence is a mask for insecurity. There are plenty of sites that contain well researched and well reasoned articles calling into question the veracity of Islamic beliefs. If you look at them (for example, and provide him with the articles, I wonder if you’d start to have a more fruitful conversation.

Underlying all of this is the fact that many Middle Easterners and Easterners, especially Muslims, are immersed in an honor-shame culture in which questioning or doubting one’s heritage brings shame. People get ostracized and criticized just for raising questions. You might want to explore with him what the consequences would be if, for the sake of argument, Christianity were proven true and Islam false. Once he admits that the consequences could be devastating, I’d ask him - aren’t those consequences good reasons to not be open minded about whether Christianity is true? The fact that he seems to be putting all of the burden on you suggests that he may be worried that when he takes the burden on himself to prove his beliefs true, he won’t be able to. Saddling you with that burden relieves him of that anxiety.

In sum, make sure that he’s not putting too much burden of proof on you and is unwilling to take any onto himself. You take on the burden when appropriate. Challenge him on the motivations for discovering if something is true or false. I hope this helps!

(Abdu Murray) #12

Hi Isaac,

Thanks for your question. I recorded a short video from a previous “Ask Abdu” session that I think addresses the “how to” issues you’re talking about. Here’s the link:

Hope that helps.

Is there a specific unbiblical belief that you’re concerned with?

(Matt Western) #13

I’m really interested in what Abdu will say about this too. I thought that Muslims believe Jesus never died, Orthadox Jews believe Jesus died but never rose from the dead, and Christians believe Jesus both died and rose from the dead (as John Lennox put it so succinctly in the debate I just watched)…

(Milad Dagher) #14

Hi Abdu
It was nice to meet you in Calgary center street church, I am reaching out to a Muslim Sheik and told him about you, he asked me if it is possible you can contact him? He is very open and ask many questions, please let me know.

(Abdu Murray) #15

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the question. As I’ve said in other responses, the integrity of the Quran through the centuries is of utmost importance as many Muslims hinge their faith on the claim that the Quran has never been redacted, edited, or otherwise changed. Modern scholarship shows this not to be the case and Muslim apologists are starting to withdraw from the position that it’s been completely preserved. And yes, Uthman, one of the early Caliphs, commissioned a man named Zayd ibn Thabit to go throughout the expanding Islamic empire and seize all the variant versions of the Quran and have them compared to Uthman’s favored version. All copies that Zayd could find were then compared to Uthman’s and, if they didn’t conform to his, they were burned. Still, some different copies survived and we have evidence of them today.

In fact, I would commend to you a debate between Jay Smith and Shabir Ally on this issue. You can find it here:

You’ll notice that Shabir doesn’t refute the manuscript and historical evidence that Jay Smith presents on the textual history of the Quran. Instead, Shabir relies on a novel (and I believe flawed and possibly heretical) argument that numerology validates the Quran. I’ve responded to that argument as have others.

I hope this video will help.

(Sandee Case) #16

Greetings. How do you answer people when they insist that people who use apologetics are just weak in faith. That no one of true faith needs intellectual arguments and to debate these things is just being argumentative and goes against Christian faith.
I teach a class on apologetic matters at my local church and I’m often faced with people who believe that what I’m doing isn’t needed. They know Christianity is true because they know and if one has true faith they will just know it is true.
I disagree with this attitude and I believe that there is nothing wrong with wanting good answers to sincere questions. Is there a way I can help these people understand the need to have good answers to people’s sincere questions? Also how can I help my people understand it is worth the investment of their time in learning what the challenges to Christianity are and how to defend against them?
Greatly appreciate all you and the others at RZIM do for the Christian community.

(Jacob Stangl) #17

Why would God allow suffering and death from natural disasters?

This is something I have struggled to find an answer to from an apologetics standpoint. To me this question is much different than the typical ,”why would a good God allow so much suffering”. Bad things done by people seem easier to explain but bad things done by nature that kill men, women and children, sometimes by the tens of thousands is hard for me to find a logical answer to.

Any thoughts?

(Abdu Murray) #18

Hi Amulya,

Thanks for this very important question. As you’ve pointed out already, context is often the determining factor when dealing with Bible difficulties or apparent contradictions. As you’ve found, it’s usually the case that a fuller reading of any passage of scripture usually clears up the issue quickly.

A good friend of mine, Greg Koukl, has a wonderful little handout cleverly called “Never Read a Bible Verse” that addresses methods by which we can better understand Scripture and deal with such apparent contradictions. Basically, he says that reading a single Bible verse can sometimes lead to misunderstanding because the Bible has a rich and often broad context that illuminates the meaning of a particular verse in light of the whole of Scripture. Here is the link.

In a nutshell, Greg (and I) would offer this advice:
The immediate context of a verse will often solve the issue. There are times, however, when the immediate context of the text doesn’t do the trick. There’s no need to despair, however. Usually, the broader context solves the issue. In other words, the immediate context of the surrounding verses should be read, then the surrounding paragraphs and event chapter of the book, then the whole book itself, and then the entirety of the Bible. Understanding why a particular book of the Bible was written (Kings and Chronicles were meant to outline the stories of the Israel’s monarchy, etc., while prophetic books like Isaiah, Ezra, Ezekiel and Micah were full of symbolism, warnings, and eventual hope). The prophetic books contain facts and truth claims, but some of what they convey isn’t meant to be taken woodenly. Rather, they are meant to be symbolic or even merely convey the heart of God as to a particular situation involving a particular people for a particular time.

Also, there is a cultural context to take into consideration. The Bible was written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) in ancient times. Thus, for it to make sense to the audiences, it had to employ the communication customs of the day. One of those customs includes hyperbole (and in the Middle East, hyperbolic language is quite alive and common). This entails using broad statements (like “never” and “always”) to convey ideas rather than precision.

So let’s look, for example, at the two verses you specifically mentioned.

In Michael 7:18, the Bible says “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? Doe does not regain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” The next verse talks about God again having compassion and casting sins away. Why? Because Micah as a book is divided into two messages: (1) God’s judgment for iniquities of the unrepentant and those who reject God and (2) God’s compassion on those who look to God for their salvation instead of themselves (Micah 7:1ff tells us this).

Now, let’s look at the context of Jeremiah 17:4, which says “for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever” (ESV). Other translations are similar in saying that a fire is kindled in God’s anger. The NIV has it that “You have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever.” Looking at the Hebrew, I think the other translations are more literal. This is important because they don’t say that God’s anger burns forever, but the fire that is kindled in God’s anger burns forever. This could easily mean his righteous judgment for the unrepentant sins. If that is true, then there is not contradiction because Micah says God’s anger doesn’t last forever and Jeremiah says that the fire kindled in his anger does.

But the best understanding is given to us in the opening verses of Jeremiah 17. There we read that the sins of the kingdom of Judah are “written with a pen of iron, with a point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart…” What this indicates is that the rebellious sinners of Judah are unrepentant and their desire to reject God is unchanging. It is against such people that God’s anger would last forever. But then the next few verses say that “Blessed is teh man who trusts in teh Lord, who trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by teh stream and does not fear when heat comes…” (Jer. 17:8). How poetic! What this is saying is that those who trust in God (not themselves) will not burn in the fire kindled in his anger! Jeremiahs says “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame…for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water” (v. 13). In other words, God’s fiery anger will last forever for those who reject the living water that saves them from being scorched. But those who trust in God will be watered and shall not be scorched.

Thus, there is no contradiction. Micah specifically says that God’s anger doesn’t last forever for those seeking his salvation and redemption. Jeremiah says exactly the same thing.

This technique almost always clears up the apparent contradictions. But let me say this in closing. It is very easy to lodge objections and make things seem contradictory. Frankly, anyone can do that. It takes care and thought to lodge a legitimate objection, just as it takes care and thought to respond. My advice is this: whenever you see cleverly phrased objections that seem to destroy a worldview in just a few minutes, the chances are high that the person lobbing those objections doesn’t really understand the worldview he’s critiquing.

Hope that helps!

(Amulya) #20

Thank you so much Brother Abdu! Your answer really cleared things up for me and yes. It helps a lot.

God bless you!

(Abdu Murray) #22

Hi Sandee, I recorded a short video response. I hope you find it useful! Thanks for your question.

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