Sunday, October 10, 2010

Morning has broken

Last weekend I visited a mosque in suburban Melbourne with a group of Christians. I used to live in a municipality that has one of the largest Muslim populations in Melbourne, but this was my first visit to a mosque. The purpose of our visit was to hear a lecture by Yusha Evans, a Christian convert to Islam. One member of our group was a lecturer in Islamic Studies who spent 20 years working in the Middle East as a missionary, and he wanted to go to hear Yusha tell the story of his conversion, to debate him, and also to share and discuss his beliefs with other Muslims. Since there's strength in numbers, My companions and I went along to give him some support. It was my first visit to a mosque, and it was fascinating to watch the prayers and inspect the facilities, which included a ritual washing room and segregated seating for men and women.

Attendees were invited to submit written questions to Yusha. For reasons known only to himself, he chose not to answer any of the questions that I submitted to him. He was given a pile of questions to answer, but  it appeared that he was very selective about the ones that he would answer. We were seated among the congregation at the back of the mosque. Over the next few posts I'm going to attempt to correct some of the errors and misleading statements that he made about the Bible and Christianity in his presentation. I didn't set out to find fault with him, but as an ex-Christian, and a learned man, I was surprised with how much he got wrong.

King David

Yusha talked at length about the moral failings of Biblical figures, and how, compared to Mohammed, founder of Islam, this discredited their credentials as prophets. It's simply incorrect to assert, as Yusha did, that Christians never hear about these in church. To start with I'll look at his appraisal of King David. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, one of soldiers, and then arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle so that he could take Bathsheba for himself (2 Samuel 11). All of this is true, but there's more to the story than what we heard last Saturday night. He neglected to mention that afterwards the prophet Nathan confronted David and rebuked him for his sin. As we read in Psalm 51, David fell down on his knees before God, seeking forgiveness. God forgave him, but David would not be spared the consequences of his sin. Never again would his house know peace (2 Samuel 12:10).
Firstly, David and Bathsheba's child dies (2 Samuel 12:15-23).

The tragedy of David's life did not end there. From chapter 13 on, you can see how Nathan's prophecy was fulfilled. Amnon, David's son, raped his own sister, Tamar. This resulted in a black hatred born in Absalom, David's other son, against Amnon. In David's own family, among his own sons, was spread a bitter spirit of rebellion and evil and lust, created by David's own failure. Such was Absalom's hatred for his brother Amnon that he murdered him, and David was helpless to prevent it. Amnon was only committing the same sins of passion that David himself committed when he took Bathsheba.

Next, we read of the uprising of Absalom. He instigated a rebellion throughout the whole kingdom of  Israel and secretly worked against his own father in attempting to take the throne for himself. He finally was so successful that David, with all his court, had to flee the Jerusalem again as an exile, just as he did many years before when King Saul threatened his life.

God restores David to the throne and Absalom is overtaken, conquered by his own vanity. His long hair is caught in the branches of a tree and Joab, David's ruthless general, finds him there and kills him. The rebellion is crushed. But that is not the whole story. In chapters 18 through 20 is recorded the final result of David's sin in the rebellion of Sheba against King David. All of this stems from that one double sin on David's part. There is no peace the rest of his reign. He has God's forgiveness, grace, restoration, and blessing in his personal life, but he still reaps the results of his own sin.

As an ancestor of Jesus, David is a significant figure in Christianity. It's easy to see why a Muslim cleric, would want to discredit him based on his sins. who doesn't believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and is merely a forerunner of the prophet Mohammed, or that David was of the Messianic line. David was the greatest of Israel's kings, and in spite of his sin, is lauded in Scripture as a man after God's own heart (1 Kings 11:4, 14:8, Acts 13:22). In this respect, he is a model for every Christian to emulate.


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Anonymous said...

Does the examination of the "life" and foibles/failings of a fictional character from way back when or where, really help you to live with real intelligence and clarity of thought and feeling in the now time of October 2010? And for the rest of the life of the entirely mortal meat-body that you now identify with.

And in all of your future incarnations too.

Future incarnations which WILL occur automatically and INEVITABLY until you somehow, via Divine Grace, wake up from the never-ending nightmare that you are now thoroughly committed, or bound, to.

Ross said...

What a second... I don't believe in reincarnation, if that's what you're suggesting.