Best peaceful approach to convince a muslim to believe in Jesus

Hi everyone,

I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia has the biggest muslim population in the world. 80%+ of the people here are muslim.

Can anyone help/teach me the best approach to convince a muslim to believe in Jesus, I mean, not only the knowledge to be able to answers their questions/objections, but also the small gestures like how we talk to them, what words/topics to avoid, maybe start with similarities (between islam & christian) instead of differences, etc.

The purpose is to convince them that they would want to believe in Jesus and become a christian, not to just win argument that would make them upset or feel defeated.

I actually had an encounter with one of my muslim friend who specifically asked me: how can God have a son? it just doesnt make any sense to her because she was thinking about the concept of son in literal perspective.
My only answer that time was “there’s a lot you don’t understand about christianity, and what you thought you know is wrong (misinformed)”
I didn’t dare to say more in risk of offending her, which would be the opposite of my purpose.

Thanks in advance

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Hi Budi,

That’s a great question. It’s also a huge one! There is so much to say.

But a few general things. Muslims nearly always come to faith in Christ through 1) an encounter with Jesus, 2) reading the Bible, and 3) the love of Christians.

So, particularly in Indonesia which is very Muslim (not sure where you live there) the best way forward is to love your Muslim friends graciously, faithfully even ridiculously; look for opportunities to share Jesus stories and stories about Jesus from the gospels; and pray for the Lord to reveal Himself.

Apologetically, be ready to explain why you take the Bible to be trustworthy - and not changed. Also be ready to be challenged about the Trinity and Jesus’ divinity. I’d try hard to avoid getting stuck talking about those topics - except the Bible. Even there, I’d invite my Muslim friends try reading it even if they have suspicions about its reliability. The Bible can speak powerfully!

Blessings,

Richard

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Does anyone have experience with sharing the Book of John with muslims? I understand that they are taught that it is a distortion, especially John 1:1.

Still, if someone is open to at least looking at it, then the great “I AM” statements of Christ can be verified by the Spirit within them.

[Eg., I AM: the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door / Gate, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection / Life, the Way / Truth / Life, the True Vine.]

His life here demonstrated each of these so well.

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Agreed Dean.

Orthodox Islam generally teaches that anything at all in the Bible that doesn’t square with Islam has been distorted or corrupted. So many Muslims will baulk at the Gospels from the get go. Mark Chapter 1 is similarly jarring - calling Jesus the Son of God.

But if you can encourage any Muslim to ‘park’ their concerns about the ‘high’ Christology of the Gospels and read the Bible on its own terms then yes, Jesus life and words powerfully and coherently cry out that he is more than a prophet.

Blessings,

Richard

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Most muslims basically believe that bible is corrupted (by christians) sigh
so it’s really hard to explain anything from the bible that would make them believe, or even ask them to read it by themselves.

Yes, Richard and Budi. That is a problem, but as many folks have said, there are many muslims who are having visions and dreams of Jesus appearing to them. So they might be thus predisposed to be curious about the NT which they have been told not to read. And the Book of John is a great intro to the Messiah Who is soon to come.

By the way, does anyone here know any actual statistics about the numbers of muslims coming to know Christ as a result of visions and dreams? I would like to share that info with my church family and friends. Thanks, if so.

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Than you so much Richard.

I still have difficulties in sharing about Jesus even though i have poured kindness/love towards my friend. I live in indonesia where religious toleration is something we uphold to, we even have the motto of “bhinneka tunggal ika” (unity in diversity). So any love/kindness from people with different religion would only be seen as a practice of that motto which she practises too.

Can you give me tips to be able explain to my friend the context of Jesus as the son of God. If I say Jesus is God himself and explain the concept of Trinity, it would confuse her even more. I’m a bit frustrated.

Thanks in advance!

Budi

Thanks Dean, wow that’s a great input, I would love to know the statistics too.

The only one I read is Nabeel Qureshi which he fascinatingly shared in his book “Seeking Allah, finding Jesus”. That book is what brought me here in this community.
I want to share the book to my friend, but she doesnt fluently speak english & there is no indonesian version yet.

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That book sounds very interesting, Budi. I’ll add it to my overgrown stack of reading material (near the top). By the way, i like your name – is it the equivalent of “Buddy” in english?

If i may, i also wanted to share a possible way to discuss the divinity of Jesus Christ that may be easier for a muslim to receive. I recognize that not all Christians would agree with me on this, but here goes anyway…

Suppose we say, because it is true, that the body of Jesus of Nazareth was not God. But before anyone gets uptight, we need to remember that “no one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).

When Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”, He was referring to the fact that He was revealing the purpose, the plan and the character of God, exactly, not that His physical form was God.

So the (Son of) Man, Jesus, was indwelt fully by the invisible Spirit, making Him also the Son of God. And if God were to fill up any human with His Presence as He did in Christ, then that person becomes a child of God, also. (He was the “first of many children born of the Spirit” John 3:6, Romans 8:29).

But the body of Jesus had a beginning, God doesn’t. The body of Jesus died on the Cross (yes, i know many muslims would deny this), but God as the Eternal One cannot die. (The Spirit had to leave Jesus for Him to die.) So His physical form was not God. And when we say He is the same forever, obviously we do not mean that His original body was immortal, though His second one was.)

Well, i’ll let it go at that. Perhaps that will help some folks who reject the divinity of Jesus, the man, while retaining the truth that He was Son of Man/Son of God. Hope so.

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Hey Dean,

Sure. Very many Muslims have dreams and visions of Jesus. God is gracious and regularly provides 1st person encounters like this to crack through the lies Muslims have been taught about Jesus (and the Bible).

It is difficult to get reliable statistics, but from the studies I’ve read and my own on the ground experience I would say it is the norm for most Muslims who come to Christ to testify to some sort of 1st person encounter with the Holy Spirit like this.

Keep praying for the Lord to reveal himself to Muslims!

Richard

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Yes Budi.

It very often is difficult sharing Jesus with Muslims! Islam is a spiritual bondage in so many ways. One of the ways is the idea that Christians and Muslims are both very similar as good religious people. Indonesian law and culture seeks to reinforce this.

So when I speak about loving Muslims, I want to look for ways to display the distinctives of Christian gospel grace. Perhaps ask questions like in what ways is my church community distinctive to the mosque community (- I’m sure it its!)? How can I invite my Muslim friends to share in that community?

One very key distinctive is Christian prayer. Offer to pray with your friends - out loud and in the name of Jesus. Prayer is always an expression of love, and Christian prayer displays an intimacy with God that is unique. Also, if God answers your prayer obviously then your Muslim friend has a powerful witness to his truth and grace.

Blessings,

Richard

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Thanks Dean.

This is one example of the very many ways we can go about describing what is going on in the incarnation.

At the same time it is worth remembering two key mindset barriers we are encountering with Muslims on this (and the trinity).

  1. The doctrine of the oneness of God (tawhid) is the fundamental (arguably the only) doctrine of God in Islam. The idea is not simply that there is one God, but that God is utterly singular (monism). This is the core of the Muslim confession and Muslims proclaim this every time they pray. It shapes their entire theological imagination and renders the ideas of incarnation and trinity as a priori false - regardless of what evidence or descriptions Christians try to muster to explain things.

  2. The incarnation is also regarded as a moral compromise for God. A self-respecting God wouldn’t do such a thing.

This means there are both philosophical and moral problems to be negotiated.

Again, and as you suggest Dean, there are various ways/arguments/illustrations of trying to explain the ‘imaginablility’ and coherence of Christian doctrine to Muslims. It is totally worth having one or two ‘go to’ illustrations ready.

Nevertheless, I recommend taking the approach of the Bible/Jesus. It/he started with personal revelation and then moved to doctrine/explanation. In fact (as Muslims happily point out) the Bible never uses the word trinity, or outlines a systematic doctrine of the trinity. Similarly, Jesus never explains the incarnation. Instead we encounter God and Jesus and then try to describe the extraordinary person we’ve encountered.

I think this is best with Muslims too. Introduce them to the person of Jesus and then let them make of him what they will. Even if they are not prepared to look at a Bible we can tell Bible stories, and testify to our own encounters with Jesus. Remember too that many Muslims will already be experiencing dreams and visions. Pray that God would lead you to those people, or reveal himself to your friends. And be patient!!! God’s timing is looonnng…

Blessings,

Richard

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I see the wisdom in what you are saying, Richard.

One other aspect, from my limited knowledge of, and experience with islam, might be helpful, also. Please correct me if i am misunderstanding this, but i don’t see a clear focus on forgiveness in their theology.

It seems to me that a muslim would always be in an uncertain state as to whether or not they have been forgiven for their past/present sins (except if they die as a martyr, i suppose). Whereas Believers in Christ’s payment/death for our sins is a done fact, and complete.

Is there more assurance that muslims can have regarding their being forgiven by God which is provided for in their theology? Thanks.

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It’s an amazing book, Nabeel was also one of the speaker of RZIM.
Haha thanks, budi in indonesian means kindness/good/wise so I guess it’s kinda similar to Buddy :smile:

That’s an interesting way to explain incarnation, I would make a note of it, thanks Dean.

I also agree to what @Richard_Shumack said, we need to know & remember that for muslim Allah is an absolute one, he doesnt take any other form, and from what I read from Nabeel’s 2nd book “No God but One”, Allah doesnt even enter the world, he is up there in heaven.

Budi

Well, Budi, that is quite a name to try to live up to – “kind / good / wise”. (Sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it :blush: )

I’m still wrestling with what Richard said about “we need to know & remember that for muslim Allah is an absolute one, he doesnt take any other form, and from what I read from Nabeel’s 2nd book “No God but One”, Allah doesnt even enter the world, he is up there in heaven.”

There is a sense in which it is true, that there is only one God. And He is up in Heaven. And he is invisible to normal human senses (1 Tim 1:17, Heb 11:27). He can therefore only be seen with spiritual vision.

If we can agree that the body of Jesus wasn’t God, but rather a human form in which God sent His Spirit to reveal Himself, that is getting closer to something which might be acceptable to a muslim. After all, don’t they believe that the prophets, including Jesus and Mohammed, were inspired by God? And Divine inspiration is similar to God “breathing” into them His power and understanding.

So if they can accept this line of reasoning, then a person who (or Who) most fully expressed the power and understanding of God would be His “representative” or “image” through which He could speak from Heaven.

Which brings us closer to them than other approaches i can think of. And when they say Jesus didn’t really die, we could agree that the Spirit, the Inspirer of all that is good, in Him, didn’t actually die, but rather left Him on the Cross.

Luke 23:46
“Then Jesus (on the Cross), calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.”

Psalm 31:5 David said:
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”

So the Spirit, the Breath of God, that empowers every human being, (even as He breathed life into Adam and Eve), left the man (Son of Man), but the true Life force returned to the Father in Heaven, to be sent again at the time of the Resurrection.

OK, Richard, if you are reading this, i yield – reasoning alone will not convince a muslim, or anyone else. But the closer we can see the potential commonality, the less resistance there might be, by the assistance of the Spirit He breathes into us. Yes?

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Hi guys,

Your discussion nicely highlights two difficulties - and opportunities - in sharing Christ with Muslims.

Yes, traditional Islam has a very strong view of God’s transcendence, and a correspondingly low sense of his immanence. Allah never lowers himself to ‘touch’ the creation. Even Muhammad never claimed he met Allah. The claim is that an angel revealed the Quran to him. This makes it hard for Muslims to accept the incarnation…
…however it also offers opportunities. 1) To question whether this works. Doesn’t God have to somehow ‘touch’ the creation in order to reveal himself. Allah had to give some created being the Quran didn’t he? 2) Does this view of a distant, unknowable God really square with our human intuitions and longings? Isn’t the intimate personal love of the God of the Bible far more attractive?

As for forgiveness, virtually no Muslims are confident they are forgiven. Interestingly, given what I just said about transcendence, forgiveness isn’t even the right way to think about Islam. Forgiveness is an essentially relational term - its about persons being restored. In Islam, it is more accurate to say that Allah is merciful - he can relent from punishment (not restore relationship). Again we can ask whether that makes sense of our intuitions and hopes about God and humanity. Again we can share the more beautiful (and accurate!) vision of the loving, forgiving God we find in the Bible. Here, with Muslims, I’ll always go to Jesus story of the two sons in Luke.

Blessings,

Richaed

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That’s a “bingo”! I think, RIchard. There are some short times when i have seen what i believe was Jesus loving me through the eyes of a Believer (especially when i was still seeking), and i have felt His love flow through me to others, since i came to believe (not as often as i would like, yet). When that is authentic, it is very difficult to argue theology in the face of that magnetic attraction to Him. Know what i mean? (Bet you do…)

Also, when we can forgive something serious that another has done to us, with an unearthly, beyond-human-capacity kind of forgiveness, it stands out so clearly from the normal resentment/hatred, that we know God must be supplying it directly. Could be that was what prepared Saul to become Paul, before he was “shown the light” on the road to Damascus.

After all, Saul/Paul was there when Stephen was being stoned to death, and yet prayed for his executioners’ forgiveness (Acts Chapter 7 ending). As did Jesus on the Cross (Luke 23:34). I don’t think that can be found in islam, at least as far as i have seen.

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Hi guys, thank youu so much for your great insights, I’m learning so much from your comments.

Thank you Richard, I agree with you, reasoning alone will not convince a muslim. For me, I find it very difficult to even have a discussion to a muslim, to encourage them to be open minded especially in our country indonesia, not all of the people here are not well educated. Even the idea of a religion discussion would offend them (i tried). Questioning what they are taught is considered a disobedient (as Nabeel also mentioned in his book).

Thank you Dean,
To try to see the commonality between islam and christian like you said was actually my first approach, but not from you example.
Majority of muslims already have a common perception that Chistians worship their (human) prophet, Jesus, as a God. Even when I tried to encourage them to think how different Jesus was compared to other prophets (in the Quran), it didnt really work. I showed my friend verses in Quran where it stated Jesus was born of a virgin woman blessed by God, no other humans ever been born like that. Jesus also cured the blind and lepre, and even resurrected the dead.

One point about the average muslims that we can benefit is that many of them haven’t really read the Quran themselves. They knowledge about God, the prophets etc usually comes from what their imams (religious teachers) taught them to. Nabeel also said this in his book, which I also noticed from the discussion with my friend.

I’m still trying, but I’m afraid I would fail. Please bring me in your prayers. All I can do for now continue to show love and kindness toward my friend like Richard mentioned.

Thanks guys, God bless you!

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