Recently, a quote from Samuel Zwemer’s “Moslem Doctrine of God” has been circulating on the internet and is being celebrated as a succinct explication of how Christianity fundamentally overcomes the “distance of God” in Islamic theology.
As is typical in missionary writings, Islamic theology is portrayed as having a distant God, that Christianity is superior to either Islam or Judaism because God is within Christians through the Holy Spirit. Here’s the problem though, does God have to be spatially within us for our hearts to be renewed? Christians themselves refute this idea by saying that God is truly a Spirit in nature and not a material being, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24, therefore what is the reasoning for God having to be spatially (materially) within us for us to be guided? Therefore this concept that God must be spatially within us for any of us to be guided is both irrational and self-contradictory. The Qur’an itself responds to this claim, it says:
“And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” – Qur’an 50:16.
God is closer to us, without having to be in the material world. God’s sovereignty is such that space does not affect what He can and cannot do, so the belief that a God from afar is somehow less superior than a God that is “within us” does not make any sense. This fundamentally means that Christians believe God is not all powerful and that God somehow loses power and ability based on distance. Yet, I’m sure if we ask them if God loses power based on distance, they’d disagree, yet they’d gladly offer this as an argument for the truth of Christianity in a book about Islam, as is seen above. This sort of deceptive inconsistency permeates throughout Christian missionary works.
Here’s another problem with that quote above, do Christians really expect us Muslims to believe that God is within them, that God within them is renewing their hearts and bringing them into submission with God’s will? Consider this, if obedience to God’s will means living a good, moral life, no pre-marital sex, no substance abuse, not stealing, not lying, etc, then it means that Christians need God within them to do things Muslims can do without having God within us. On the simple example of substance abuse, a druggie, if it takes a Christian needing the Holy Spirit within them to renew their heart and have them overcome an addiction, and yet a Muslim through their belief in Tawheed can overcome such a problem, then it means to say that Muslims by themselves are greater in will and power than the very Christian God.
In other words it takes God and a human to do what a Muslim can do by themselves through their belief in the truth of Islam. What Christians need to do is present an objective metric to measure the work of the Spirit within them. What do Christians do with the Spirit that a Muslim, Jew, Atheist or Hindu cannot? Can they point to a single living person today that meets this metric standard? Just one person, that’s all. In the end, the quote from the above book is an indictment against the Christian faith, as opposed to a rational critique of the Islamic faith. I’m not sure why Christians find it useful to pat themselves on the back with such drivel, when in the end it paints Christianity in a bad light, if only a moment is spent considering the theology presented in their propaganda.
and God knows best.