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Home > 2013 > March Online Only > Can a Muslim Be God's Voice to Me?

I once lived with a Muslim family for two years. It was extremely challenging, but not in the ways I expected it would be.

I lived with the Muslim family in their house near the center square of the capital city of Albania. There were nine of us in a relatively small space. Added to the cramped conditions was the fact that running water flowed only a few hours a day, electricity was intermittent, and food variety was limited. But I found none of this too difficult, even though Albania (Muslim, Balkan, post-Communist, poor, Mediterranean) could not have been more jarring to my affluent, American, "white," Baptist upbringing.

What I found most challenging was this: They loved me. They loved me not only in a pat-you-on-the-back landlord sort of way. My Muslim family loved me like a son, which included caring for me as their spiritual responsibility.

This took particular force in the person of my hunched and humming Albanian grandmother. She was the first face I saw each morning, and at night she would lovingly touch my shoulder and say "sweet sleep." She also pastored me. She encouraged me when I was low, blessed me as I went about my work (which, by the way, was Christian missionary work) and she told me about God's love for me. She challenged my Christian training and my American pragmatism. She was a dawdling, superstitious Muslim. How could I allow her to be God's voice in my life?

Tough questions

What am I to do? Seriously.

How do I understand all the folks who cross my path and don't fit my theological categories? As a devout Christian, what am I supposed to do with the non-Christians I have known who are kinder than most Christians, purer than most Christians, and seemingly more connected to God than most Christians? Even more troubling, what am I to do with religious outsiders who are spiritually wise and speak that wisdom into my life? Am I allowed to accept their wisdom or am I required to sit in perpetual suspicion?

I recently had a conversation with Bob. Bob is a very learned and highly regarded scholar and advocate for Christianity. I was telling him about my Albanian grandmother, as well as several other folks in whom I've encountered love and wisdom that don't belong to my faith. Bob was troubled by my words. He asked me repeatedly, "How can you claim that God can speak through anyone and still hold to our Christian dogma?" (I am not exaggerating his word usage; he really did say "dogma." I didn't think anybody even said "dogma" anymore.)

Regardless of his word choice, Bob was asking an important question. It is a question that has followed me for most of my adult life. Bob feared that my stories (full of Muslims, Atheists, and drunkards) was dangerous and the product of weak faith.

So, what am I to do? What am I to do with my Albanian grandmother? What am I to believe regarding my wise and spiritually insightful (even faith-filled) agnostic neighbor or my lovely Buddhist housemate or the tipsy advisor sitting next to me at the local pub?

With any question truly worth asking (and I believe these questions are of the highest significance), there are a few foundational things I feel I need to ask myself.

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Tony Kriz is a writer and church leader from Portland, Oregon, and Author in Residence at Warner Pacific College.

Posted: March 25, 2013

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Displaying 1–5 of 48 comments

Jack Fridye

April 13, 2013  6:02pm

Sad but not surprising to see such false teaching on a web site that apparently claims to affirm Christianity. Those who haven't placed their faith in Jesus Christ remain in the state of spiritual death in which they were born. The spiritually dead have no spiritual insight or connection with God. God may use them for His purposes to edify His children, but it is in spite of their lack of spiritual insight, not because of it. It's nice that a Muslim may love a Christian, but that positive is nothing as compared to the Muslim's sin of rejecting Christ, our Lord and Creator. The heart that rejects Christ is dark beyond measure.

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kenell Touryan

April 08, 2013  8:54pm

The answer is of course one can hear God's voice from nature, from Scripture and from others, whehter Christian or not! 1-As the philosophy professor at Wheaton wrote “All truth is God’s truth”. 2-God used an ass to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22). 3-The word ‘amazed’ or ‘marveled’, for Jesus, was used twice in the Gospels: Once when He saw the faith of a pagan, the Centurion(Luke 7:9) and once when in His own town he experienced the lack of faith (Mark 6:6). 4-In Luke 19, on his way to Jerusalem, on Palm Sunday, when the Pharisees complained, Jesus said ‘ if they keep quiet the stones will cry out’.Often nature speaks wth alowder voice for God then people. 5-And how about Cyrus. In Isaiah 44 God speaks of Cyrus ‘my servant…though you have not acknowledged me’ 6-Many other examples….

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Dennis Trautman

April 06, 2013  6:46pm

Tony raises a point that I have been turning over for a few years. In my conversations with Christians, they seem to think that we have a corner on the Holy Spirit as a teacher. I am more and more convinced as I read scripture that the Holy Spirit is free to work as he sees fit. His "job" is to reconcile the WORLD to the Father, not just believers. He speaks to many and some listen to His wooing. Some respond to it and are given a chance to encounter Christ. Some do not have such an opportunity but still respond to His call. They are sources for all to learn from (be they Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, etc). I have had many conversations with Muslims and Buddhists that have helped me re-examine (with the result of deepening) my faith in Christ. I believe that wisdom comes from God but He uses many avenues to communicate it (lilies of the field, sparrows, rocks, donkeys, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, etc). Tony, I would encourage you to always listen for that still small voice.

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Jacob Black

April 06, 2013  5:43pm

Rick— in your quotation, you leave out the word "seemingly." The part about Muslims being "seemingly more connected to God" is part of a series of questions he's raising, not the taking of a theological stance. I think it is possible to do both— that is, to "listen for the voice of God" everywhere AND to "share the gospel with a dying and deceived world." The message we proclaim will sound more like the good news that it is if we affirm all of the goodness in the world that points to God's grace, especially when it comes from non-Christians, and not just focusing on the depravity like a bunch of grumps.

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Rick Dalbey

April 05, 2013  11:33am

If Tony led you to Christ as a part of an earlier Campus crusade for Christ mission in Albania, Praise God! I would never want to take away from that. Nor would I want to engage in any trivial theological debates. That is not the issue here though. Tony came back changed from his Campus Crusade assignment and now believes that "Muslim non-Christians are “more connected to God than most Christians”. Is that a minor theological point? Should we give heed to Buddhist teachings to disengage from worldly attachments as Steve suggests? Is God speaking through all the world religions now? Is our assignment to listen for the voice of God in every person we meet, Imams, Buddhist priests, agnostics? Or is it to share the gospel with a dying and deceived world as Philip did in Samaria, as Peter did, as Paul did, as Timothy did. Jesus said narrow is the way, "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."

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