So many worldviews. So narrow a path to the truth. But when you get right down to it, the truth revolves around one grand, central question: Is Jesus Christ Who He says He is? Answer that correctly and all other questions are moot. During this week’s broadcast, John Stonestreet welcomes apologist Abdu Murray, whose journey from Islam to Christianity illustrates that point.
Abdu is co-founder and president of Embrace the Truth International, an apologetics ministry offering the truth of the Gospel to Muslims, Jews, cult members and skeptics alike. He’s also the author of a powerful book that tells the story of his journey from Islam to Christianity, called “Grand Central Question.”
The book’s title was inspired by his apologetics work around the world. Murray says the open forums he hosted became predictable in a fascinating way. No matter what the religion or belief system, a consistent pattern emerged in conversation. Whether the worldview in question was Islam, Hinduism, Judaism or secular humanism, each revolved around and attempted to answer a central question.
“…so I started to think to myself, ‘these worldviews try to answer so many questions, and rightfully so…But they all tend to center on a grand, central question that they claim to answer better than other worldviews do. And that provides meaning and purpose and a sense of fulfillment to those who hold to those worldviews.”
Recognizing this pattern, says Murray, he realized that apologetics doesn’t have to be as intimidating as many Christians assume.
“I think Christians sometimes get paralyzed into not reaching out,” he says, “because they think you have to know everything about every worldview. And you don’t. You just need to know a couple of things and maybe even a central question and how the Gospel relates to it.”
This works because the questions that all other worldviews ask are legitimate and good questions. “Why is there evil and suffering in the world?” “What is the purpose of life?” “How can we give human existence meaning?” All of these questions find emphasis in one belief system or another. And Christianity, argues Murray, ultimately has the correct answers to all of them.
Of course, he has intimate experience with answering the grand, central question of one faith in particular.
“I was raised as a Shiite Muslim…and I was pretty serious about my Islam. I had this crazy idea that people should believe true things and not false things! And I thought Islam was true. So I began to espouse Islam to those around me.”
Having grown up in Detroit, Murray says he found plentiful opportunities to share the Islamic message with others.
“I began to try to knock the faith out of people whether they were Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews. It didn’t matter to me. But most of the time I was talking to Christians, because they were all around me. And I began to knock the faith out of them or challenge the Bible or challenge their ideas of who God is. And they would have very little response. But there were the occasional, rather annoying Christians who actually did have a response and forced me to think a little bit more heavily!”
Until that point, Murray says he had assumed the truth of his family religion.
“[I didn’t realize] that the reason I was a Muslim was mostly tradition. I had backed up my faith with evidence that I thought was solid. But the real reason I was a Muslim was because I had to be. I was born that way.”
But as he came into contact with more and more well-reasoned Christians, he began to wonder whether his case for Islam was really so ironclad.
“As a Muslim I believed that every major Christian doctrine insulted God’s greatness. I thought that the Trinity, the Incarnation of God in Christ and the Atonement and all these things insulted God’s greatness. And I rejected them thinking Islam was the one that vaulted it.”
Time passed, and Murray experienced a change of heart driven by the power of the Christian story and its ability to answer the question of Who God is—Islam’s central concern.
“When I began to look into the realities of what Christian doctrine actually was, how the Trinity fits in with the Incarnation, how the Incarnation makes sense of the Atonement, and the Atonement actually makes sense in light of the Trinity and the Incarnation, I began to see something very important: that the very ideas I was taught to reject because I thought they insulted God’s greatness, they were the very ideas that demonstrated His greatness. And it took a nine-year-long search into those evidences for me to finally give my life to Christ. It didn’t take nine years because it was hard to find the evidence. It took nine years because it was hard to accept it. I didn’t want to give up my old worldview, I didn’t want to give up my old community. I didn’t want to give up my identity. But I finally saw that Christ was worth it, and whatever I would lose paled in comparison to the One I would gain.”
Murray believes that his story showcases one of God’s chief means of drawing people to belief in Christ. And by reaching to the heart of his faith, the Christians who helped him on his journey demonstrated the power of understanding those “Grand Central Questions.”
Ultimately, he says, Christ satisfies all of mankind’s burning questions—no matter what religion or worldview it’s pitted against. Nothing can compete with One Who placed those questions in the human heart. We simply must be ready to offer Him as the answer. The Grand, Central Answer.
"BreakPoint This Week" is hosted by John Stonestreet, co-host of the BreakPoint daily radio commentary as well as The Point.