Category: What’s New?

How I Learned to Love Church History

Posted by on 06/20/2017 in: ,

If you asked me to list my favorite subjects when I was in school, history would not even make the list. While I believe those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, I still found the subject boring. Memorizing dates and seemingly random events never resonated with me. That said, I enjoy studying the Bible and all things related to it. A part of that involves studying history, the subject I loathe. What was I to do? Let me tell you how I learned to love Church history.

When it comes to learning Church history, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Starting with the Apostles, we’re looking at almost 2,000 years of history to explore. I can barely keep up with all the world events that have taken place in my 35 years of life, so how was I going to tackle learning Church history? Easy. I found a resource that gives an overview of the entirety of Church history from early Christianity to the present day, and does it in a way that’s easy to digest. The Atlas of Christian History is that resource!

Instead of tackling a thick history book that would give me far more detail than I want as a newbie, I opted for a book that would give me quick summaries of the major events and people throughout the centuries. In a matter of a few short paragraphs per section, the Atlas of Christian History gives me the high level view I need to get a broad understanding of Christian history. And, for a more abbreviated view of history, the first paragraph to begin a new section is bold and gives you a couple sentence summary of the date or event in view. As an example, here is the first paragraph under “The Arian Challenge”:

Around 318 a particularly divisive dispute flared between Arius (c. 250–c. 336), a presbyter in Alexandria, and the Patriarch Alexander (r. 313–26). Arius was teaching that, if the Son of God had been crucified, he suffered – as the supreme deity cannot do. He argued that Jesus Christ was therefore not eternal, but made by the Father to do his creative work. By dividing off the Son from God the Father, Arius undermined Christ’s status as God’s revelation and as the saviour of humankind.

The thing that sets this resource apart from other history titles is that it’s also an atlas! If there’s anything that makes studying history fun it’s lots of maps and pictures. The Atlas of Christian History does not disappoint in this department. This book has some of the best maps I’ve ever seen in a Christian resource. Quite literally, the maps are the reason to buy this book! The beautifully designed maps are what made learning Christian history fun. I’d often find myself enthralled with the maps, only to begin reading the preceding text to get the context for the data being presented to me. And guess what?! Without even trying, I was learning and loving history!

Take a look at these maps to get an idea of what I’m talking about. The first shows the spread of Christianity by AD 300. The second depicts the distribution of major denominations in the United States as of the year 2000. And along with the maps, you’ll also find stunning photographs of important Christian sites throughout history.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think I could ever love studying history. The Atlas of Christian History changed that for me. If you’re like me, this resource is a great primer for getting a broad overview of 2,000 years of Christian history. The maps alone are worth their weight in gold. If this resource doesn’t get you excited about learning history, nothing will. No matter your level of expertise, the Atlas of Christian History will help you better understand our history as the Christian Church.

Click here to add this amazing title to your Olive Tree library today!

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Introducing Touch Bar Support!

Posted by on 05/01/2017 in: , , ,

This past fall, Apple announced an overhaul of their MacBook Pro line of laptop computers. The overhaul included the usual faster-thinner-lighter mantra that we have all grown accustomed to with new hardware upgrades. They even dumped the glowing Apple logo on the back of the clam-shell lid and replaced it with a shiny version similar to what Apple puts on their iPads and iPhones.

The highlight from the list of improvements was the introduction of what Apple is calling the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar is a long and thin digital screen that runs along the top of the keyboard and replaces the traditional row of F keys (function keys) that typically use this space on a keyboard. The genius of this screen is that it is touch sensitive and operates like the F keys.

Even more exciting are the infinite tasks this glowing strip of glass is ready to take on. For example, when playing a video, the Touch Bar can jump to any position in the video without needing to toggle the controls on the screen, move the mouse to the tracking bar, seek the new location and toggle the controls back off. With the Touch Bar, just drag the control to any position to instantly change the position in your video.

One of the strengths of the new Touch Bar is that Apple leaves it up to the app developer to decide what shows on this mini touch screen. Unleashing the power of the Touch Bar requires app updates to make use of the functionality with this new feature. We are excited to announce that the latest version of the Mac Olive Tree Bible App now has support for the Touch Bar. We thoughtfully considered what functionality on the Touch Bar would increase productivity and added it.

Touch Bar support for the Mac Olive Tree Bible App!

Bible Study Touch Bar controls

The main Touch Bar controls for the Olive Tree Bible App

The figure above shows the buttons we added to the top level Touch Bar. From left to right on the Touch bar, we added this functionality: history back, history forward, Go To, Search, increase font size, decrease font size and margin control.

There are other areas of the app that use the Touch Bar as well. For example, you can use this bar to add a note or highlight to selected text. When editing a note, you will find some useful actions on the Touch Bar such as changing the note’s category or adding a tag.

If you have one of the new MacBook Pros, be sure to try the new features, and let us know what you think. We are always open to suggestions and feedback.

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Look Inside: Reformation Commentary on Scripture Series

Posted by on 04/28/2017 in: , , ,

The Reformation Commentary on Scripture (RCS) provides a crucial link between the contemporary church and the great cloud of witnesses that is the historical church. The biblical insights and rhetorical power of the tradition of the Reformation are here made available as a powerful tool for the church of the twenty-first century. Like never before, believers can feel they are a part of a genuine tradition of renewal as they faithfully approach the Scriptures.

Hear from landmark figures such as Luther and Calvin, as well as lesser-known commentators such as Peter Martyr Vermigli, Johannes Oecolampadius, Martin Bucer, Johannes Brenz, Caspar Cruciger, Giovanni Diodati, and Kaspar Olevianus. The series introduces you to the great diversity that constituted the Reformation, with commentary from Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Anabaptist and even reform-minded Catholic thinkers, who all shared a commitment to the faithful exposition of Scripture.

Many of these texts are being published in English for the first time, and volumes also contain biographies of figures from the Reformation era, adding an essential reference for students of church history.

Several features have been incorporated into the design of this commentary and we wanted to show you just a few.  (Screenshots are from an iPad Pro.  Click on images for a larger view)

Pericopes of Scripture

The scriptural text has been divided into pericopes, or passages, usually several verses in length. Each of these pericopes is given a heading, which appears at the beginning of the pericope. For example, the first pericope in the commentary on Galatians is “1:1-5 Greetings and Blessings.”

Overviews

Following each pericope of text is an overview of the Reformation authors’ comments on that pericope. The format of this overview varies among the volumes of this series, depending on the requirements of the specific book of Scripture.

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Topical Headings

An abundance of varied Reformation-era comment is available for each pericope. For this reason we have broken the pericopes into two levels. First is the verse with its topical heading. The reformers’ comments are then focused on aspects of each verse, with topical headings summarizing the essence of the individual comment by evoking a key phrase, metaphor or idea. This feature provides a bridge by which modern readers can enter into the heart of the Reformation-era comment.

Identifying the Reformation-era Texts

Following the topical heading of each section of comment, the name of the Reformation commentator is given. An English translation (where needed) of the reformer’s comment is then provided. This is immediately followed by the title of the original work rendered in English. Tap on the name to read a brief biographical sketch of the Reformation commentator.

The Footnotes

Readers who wish to pursue a deeper investigation of the Reformation works cited in this commentary will find the footnotes especially valuable. Tapping on a footnote number will cause a box to pop up on the screen, where in addition to other notations (clarifications or biblical cross references) one will find information on English translations (where available) and standard original language editions of the work cited.

The Bible Study App makes the Reformation Commentary on Scripture even more powerful!

Here’s how.

Resource Guide

Open your preferred Bible translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window.  You’ll see relevant commentary “hits” from the Reformation Commentary on Scripture  in the split window.

The Bible Study App also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.  This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the commentary syncs to exactly where you are in your study.  No more flipping pages back and forth.  No more holding the commentary text open on your desk in one spot, reading through your Bible text, and having to go back and find your place in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

Linked Reference Pop ups

One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary. With a hard copy, I have to open a different Bible and find each and every reference to read how the verse relates to what I am currently studying.  This is time consuming, slows down my study momentum, and requires me to keep all of my study materials out and open, spread out over a large desk space. With the Bible Study App, the scripture references are hyperlinked within the commentary text.  All I have to do is tap the scripture reference to read it instantly.

Copy/Paste into Notes

Commentaries are full of great content.  I often find myself reading a passage, going deeper with the commentary and finding that “perfect quote” that sums up what I was thinking but didn’t know how to express it in written form.  However, in the world of hard copy commentaries, I have to re-type it into my personal study notes.  With the Bible Study App, all I have to do is highlight the text I want, copy it and paste it into my notes.  This feature saves me a ton of time, not to mention the wear and tear on my fingers!

Integrated Dictionary (iOS Extra)

In the iOS app, you have additional options.  Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options to Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup and More.

If you tap “Define” you will get the integrated iOS dictionary pop-up.  This is extremely helpful when you run across a word in the commentaries or even the Bible text that you do not know.

Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)

Another iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap on a verse number and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Save, Share, Guide, and More.

If you tap the “Guide” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific verse. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.  You can even choose to open the commentary in the main or split window.

This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the commentary when you want to see what it says about a particular verse.

As you can see, the within the Olive Tree Bible App give you the best content, while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.

Click here to learn more about The Reformation Commentary on Scripture.

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Coming Soon: The Jesus Bible

Posted by on 12/14/2016 in: ,

Encounter the living Jesus in all of Scripture.

From the Passion Movement, The Jesus Bible, NIV Edition, with exclusive articles from Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, and Randy Alcorn, lifts Jesus up as the lead story of the Bible.

Profound yet accessible study features help you meet Jesus throughout Scripture. See him in every book so that you may know him more intimately, love him more passionately, and walk with him more faithfully.

Features:

  • Introduction by Louie Giglio
  • 66 book introductions highlight the story of Jesus in every book
  • 7 compelling essays on the grand narrative of Scripture by Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, and Randy Alcorn guide you to treasure Jesus and encourage you to faithfully follow him as you participate in his story
  • Over 300 full-page articles and nearly 700 sidebar articles reveal Jesus throughout all of Scripture
  • Single-column text of the most read, most trusted modern-English Bible — the New International Version (NIV)
  • NIV dictionary-concordance

Screenshots from The Jesus Bible for the Olive Tree Bible App.

Articles are inline with the Bible text.

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Content from The Jesus Bible can also be accessed via the Resource Guide while using any Bible translation in the main window. 

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 Download a sample of the Jesus Bible that covers the books of Genesis and Matthew HERE!

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New iOS Reading Plan Experience

Posted by on 12/06/2016 in: ,

In our latest iOS update we’ve completely revamped our reading plan experience to make it easier to find the reading plan that is just right for you. You can also setup reminders on the day and time that you choose!

You can find reading plans by tapping Reading Plans in the menu. Then tap Featured to see available reading plans for download*. Scroll through the featured categories or  use the search feature to find a reading plan by keyword or length. There are reading plans from as short as 5 days to as long as two years.

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If you’re interested in a particular reading plan tap it to get more information.

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Once you tap Start Reading Plan you’ll be taken to a screen with more details and options. One of the new features of our reading plans is the ability to set custom reminders. To do this tap Plan Details and Options.

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At the bottom of the Plan Details and Options page you’ll see options for setting a date and time to be reminded to continue your daily reading. Set a time that works best for you and you’ll get a friendly reminder** to continue your plan.

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*Please note that an internet connection is required to view and download any reading plan. Once installed however you do not need an internet connection to read.
**You will need to have Push messaging enabled to receive reading plan reminders.

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Now Available: Wish List

Posted by on 11/22/2016 in:

Digital Tablet Pc, Keyboard And Coffee. Home Office Working Stat

One feature we’ve had quite a few requests for is the ability to make a wish list and we are happy to announce that this is now possible at www.OliveTree.com.

If you are logged in with your Olive Tree account, click on any product and you will see a button in the left side bar that says Add To Wish List.

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When you add a product to your wish list you will then be taken to your wish list screen

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This screen confirms that the product was added to your wish list and you then have a few more options.

  • You can move the item from your list to your cart for purchase by selecting Add to Cart.
  • You can share your wishlist via email, Facebook, or Twitter
  • You can choose to make your wish list Public or Private. Public wish lists can only be seen if someone has a link.
  • Delete item or delete the entire list.

You can access your wish list at any time by going to your account screen after login and selecting My Wish List from the available options.

Do you want to purchase something for a friend or loved one that is on their Wish List? Find out how to gift a resource HERE.

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iOS 6.1 Release

Posted by on 11/07/2016 in: ,

The latest release of the Olive Tree Bible App for iOS devices now supports multitasking!

On certain iPads you can use more than one app at a time. This means that you can have the Olive Tree Bible App opened and your favorite note taking app at the same time.

In this screenshot the Bible App is opened on the right and the app Notability is opened on the left side.

Hand Holding Tablet similar to ipades On Wood Table

Evernote is one of the most popular note taking apps. Here it is opened on the right side and the Bible App is opened on the left.

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Update now through the App Store to use the split screen feature!

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Look Inside: LifeConnect Study Bible

Posted by on 09/13/2016 in: ,

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By Olive Tree Employee: Harold Coleman

How do we move from reading the Bible to applying it to our lives?  For many the idea of “studying” the Bible is overwhelming and questions soon follow: What commentary should I use? Do I need to know Greek or Hebrew to really understand Scripture? Does it take college-level training to understand Scripture? For the vast majority of Christians, these things aren’t necessary. Most of what is necessary to know God is simple to understand in a normal reading of the Bible, regardless of our education.

I recommend the LifeConnect Study Bible Notes as a companion to learning to apply the word of God to our lives because of the simple S.O.A.P. method that it uses. Pastor Wayne Cordeiro believes it shouldn’t be so hard to apply Scripture, and he provides simple-to-understand examples of this method that has us read Scripture, make Observations about the text, consider Applications to personal challenges we see in the Scripture, and finally Pray for God’s help in applying the Scripture to our lives.

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With the Olive Tree Bible App, the S.O.A.P. method can be applied to any verse or part of a verse by creating a note for that verse. I will use Ephesians 4:29 as an example of using this method. I first highlight the verse by touching number 29 and selecting Highlight. Then I copy the verse by tapping the verse number again and selecting Copy. Finally, I make a new note, again by touching the number 29 and tapping Note. When the note is open, I paste the copied verse by holding down my finger in the text box and tapping Paste.  I add the S: before the verse section, then the O, A, and P on new lines before I add my thoughts. I often choose specific words or phrases from the Scripture that are meaningful to me at the time.

Here are the results:lifeconnect2

S: Let no corrupt word proceed out …
but what is good
for necessary edification
… impart grace to the hearers.
O: Context Eph. 4:20-32 Put off the old Put on the New
Let no – this means it is my responsibility to not talk or act out of my old ways. I may need the Holy Spirit’s help but God expects me to stop the wrong action before it comes out.
No heat of the moment emotion justifies letting the old self out. It is opposite of good and tears down rather than edifies (builds up).
The verse doesn’t say to immediately follow up not speaking ill with speaking good. I may need to walk away, pray, think it through, or even come back another day to be able to speak good and edifying words, once my way of thinking is more like that of Christ. It needs to be full of grace, the same grace I receive from Christ.
A: This has implications throughout my life. With my spouse, my children, my extended family and friends, with co-workers and supervisors, and with strangers driving cars in ways I don’t appreciate.
P: Lord this seems so overwhelming to me but neither Paul nor you expect it to be that way. My hope is in the working of the Holy Spirit that assists me in putting to death the deeds of the flesh and allowing Christ to be glorified though my putting on the renewed nature. Help me to stop before my thoughts become words or actions. Help me to anticipate your love flowing through me until I can see ways of building up and giving grace to those you put in my life.
Along with the 70+ S.O.A.P. notes from Wayne Cordeiro that can be used both as short devotionals and as examples of this method, the LifeConnect Study Bible Notes also include:

  • Over 50 articles that bring truths to life written by Wayne Cordeiro
  • Introductions to each book of the Bible, which includes timelines, and outlines of the book
  • Thousands of verse by verse notes providing background to Scripture
  • Insightful quotes for reflection
  • Maps related to various time periods of the Scriptures.

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These resources can be found through the table of contents in the LifeConnect Study Bible Notes and by using the Resource Guide as you read through your Bible on your own.

Follow the link to find out more about the LifeConnect Study Bible Notes!

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Look Inside: New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Posted by on 09/12/2016 in: ,

The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is a revised and expanded edition of the original TSK. It adds over 100,000 new cross-references, and supplies many more key words to the Bible text, making this the most complete collection of biblical cross-references ever published. Using it with the Olive Tree Bible App you’ll save tons of time and effort.  No longer do you have to leave your original text to search for a reference.

From the publisher:

An incredible 1-volume Bible reference library, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is a unique resource for Bible study, teaching, or preaching. Dozens of special study aids help you develop powerful lessons or sermons – straight from the Bible itself! No other tool better helps you interpret Scripture with Scripture. Unlike any tool you’ve ever seen – loaded with helps not available anywhere else.

More flexible than a concordance, more thorough than a topical Bible, more discovery-oriented than a commentary, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge opens windows, doors, and connecting passageways into every fascinating book of the Bible. Whether you have minutes to prepare a devotional or hours to devote to in-depth study, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge maximizes your study of God’s word.

In this blog I”ll demonstrate how to use it with the Bible App running on an iPad.

First, select your preferred Bible translation in the main window. Then tap and drag the split window to access the Resource Guide in the App. The Resource Guide takes your downloaded material and connects it with the text you have open in the main window.

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Under the ‘Related Verses’ section you’ll see resources listed along with a number badge. The number indicates how many entries there are in that resource for the text that is open in the main window. Since I have the New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge installed, the Bible App has found cross references relevant to the passage in 1 Corinthians that I’m reading. I can then tap on the  New TSK to see all 6 entries that are indicated.

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The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge organizes these cross references by topic and by verse making it easy to do further study on the particular themes found in 1 Corinthians 13.

I can then tap the reference in the New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and view it as a popup, or even split it out into a new window without leaving my original text.  This feature alone saves me valuable time that I’d otherwise spend flipping back and forth between references.

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As you can see, having the New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge  in the Bible App will help you broaden your biblical understanding of specific themes and enable you to quickly study large portions of scripture.

You can add this great resource to your account HERE!

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Who was ruling the universe when Jesus died?

Posted by on 08/30/2016 in: ,

The following excerpt is taken from the newly released book
No God but One:  Allah or Jesus? By Nabeel Qureshi

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In the summer of 2012, I spent eight weeks in Oakland, California, studying Arabic through Middlebury College. I had just graduated from Duke University, where I had focused on the Gospels and the Quran for my master’s degree. Even though my mother had taught me in my childhood how to recite Arabic, I could not use the language to communicate, so I knew that greater familiarity with Arabic would go a long way in my future graduate studies. I entered Middlebury just beyond the introductory level, which meant I would be prohibited from communicating in any language other than Arabic for the entire eight weeks. The program was so serious about this rule that we had to sign a contract the day we arrived. No English whatsoever, at any point, for two whole months. Not even during the evenings and weekends!

Until that time, I had not realized just how important language is for relieving stress. No jokes, no storytelling, very little fellowship—just a lot of hand gestures and listening to upperclassmen jabber away. It was a very trying time, but it forced us to quickly learn how to get by. Within a month, we were able to communicate with one another in what I am sure was horribly poor Arabic.

Thankfully, I had a friend near Oakland who was also a student of Arabic, and she regularly reached out to immigrants in the area. She asked me if I would be willing to meet a Muslim friend of hers from Saudi, and I gladly agreed. Anything to spend time with a friend and get away from the campus! That afternoon, I met a lively young student named Sahar. She told me about life as a woman in Saudi, including that the government required her to get her younger brother’s permission so that she could study in America. When I asked what would have happened if he had refused, she replied, “He knows better than to say no to me!”

Soon the conversation turned to religious matters. Sahar indicated that she was resolutely Muslim and was not considering conversion, but she had questions about what Christians believed. After asking many questions, she at last asked me one that seemed to have been the most problematic for her. “How can you believe Jesus is God if he was born through the birth canal of a woman and that he had to use the bathroom? Aren’t these things below God?”

This question is a very common one, but we should now be able to see why Muslims ask it: Allah does not enter into this world in Islam, whereas Yahweh has repeatedly done so. Allah remains behind a veil and sends messengers, whereas Yahweh is intimate and walks among us. When we remember that Yahweh is different from Allah, and that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, the answers to many similar questions become readily apparent.

How Can God Die, And Who Was Ruling the Universe When Jesus Died?

These two questions were the first ones I asked David about Jesus’ deity when I was a Muslim, and they are the most common ones that Muslims ask me now. Since Islam does not have a concept of divine incarnation, these are understandable questions. Truly, they are ques- tions that Christians should ask themselves at some point, but they are not difficult to answer when we keep in mind what we have learned in this chapter.

 When someone asks me, “How can God die?” I ask for clarification, because the question can be asked from multiple angles. Almost always the questioner says something along the lines of, “God is immortal, so he cannot die.” To that, I respond with a question in turn. “I see what you mean, but let me ask you a question: When humans die, do our souls stop existing?” Of course, Muslims respond, “No, our souls do not die,” to which I respond, “So even when we die as humans, it is the body that dies. It is not that we stop existing altogether. So it was with Jesus: He was killed with respect to his earthly body, but God did not stop existing.”

Sometimes, though, by asking, “How can God die?” Muslims are essentially asking, “Who was ruling the universe?” There are many possible responses to this question, but the one I prefer is the simple one: the Father. This is why, if Muslims wish to engage in these kinds of questions, it is essential that Christians adequately explain the Trinity to them. The Father is not the Son, and the Father did not die on the cross.

IT IS UNJUST FOR GOD TO PUNISH JESUS FOR THE SINS OF MAN

This leads to another kind of question, one which even well-informed Muslims will ask. During the closing statements of my 2015 debate, Dr. Shabir Ally used the most caustic terms I have ever heard to challenge the gospel. He said that if the Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the world, then this was “cosmic child abuse.” What kind of a Father is God if he punishes his son for the sins of others?

By this point, we should be able to readily see the problem with this assessment: Christians do not believe that God is punishing a random victim. Jesus is God. The Judge is himself voluntarily paying on behalf of the criminal. Against Dr. Ally’s caricature, a more apropos illustration is shared by Brennan Manning in his book Ragamuffin Gospel.1 In 1935, Fiorello LaGuardia, the mayor of New York, presided over a court case in which an old woman had been caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. Although LaGuardia wanted to offer her mercy, the shopkeeper demanded justice. LaGuardia judged her guilty and imposed a fine of ten dollars, but in the same moment he took ten dollars from his own wallet and paid the fine on her behalf. Acknowledging the woman’s guilt, the judge himself paid the penalty and let her go free. This is a beautiful illustration of mercy and justice, but if we tweak one minor detail it will accord better with the gospel: if LaGuardia had not just been the judge but also the shopkeeper from whom the woman stole. When we sin, we sin against God. He has to judge us guilty, but then he pays for what we have done. It all makes sense when we remember the Christian view of Jesus: He is God.

NO ONE HAS SEEN GOD

Many Muslims have asked me how Jesus could be God if the Bible says “no one has ever seen God” (1 John 4:12). It makes sense that Muslims would ask this question, interpreting John’s epistle in light of tawhid, a monadic view of God. But John the disciple, the man through whom God authored this Bible verse, is also the author of the Gospel of John, and he interprets it for us in John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten God, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (my trans.). In other words, when the Bible says “no one has ever seen God,” it is referring to God the Father. Jesus, who is God and at the Father’s side, has made him known. That is why Jesus is able to say to his disciple Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Seeing Jesus is seeing God, tantamount to seeing the Father. So although no one has seen God the Father, people have seen God the Son. This means that every time someone in the Bible saw God, they were seeing the second person of the Trinity, Jesus. When we remember that Jesus is the second person of the triune God, this otherwise problematic verse is easy to understand.

 

THE MAJESTY OF A KING

Sahar’s question to me that summer afternoon in Oakland intuitively captured a sentiment that I think many Christians can learn from: God is King of the universe, unimaginably holy, and it is far beneath his majesty for him to be born on this filthy earth. So I affirmed her question, but then asked her one in turn. “Sahar, let’s imagine that you are on your way to a very important ceremony and are dressed in your finest clothes. You are about to arrive just on time, but then you see your daughter drowning in a pool of mud. What would you do? Let her drown and arrive looking dignified, or rescue her but arrive at the ceremony covered in mud?”

Her response was very matter of fact, “Of course, I would jump in the mud and save her.”

Nuancing the question more, I asked her, “Let’s say there were others with you. Would you send someone else to save her, or would you save her yourself?”

Considering this, Sahar responded, “If she is my daughter, how could I send anyone else? They would not care for her like I do. I would go myself, definitely.”

I paused for a short moment before continuing, “If you, being a human, love your daughter so much that you are willing to lay aside your dignity to save her, how much more can we expect God, if he is our perfectly loving Father, to lay aside his majesty to save us?” She considered this for a moment, and the conversation moved on. As the dinner ended, my friend returned me to my immersion Arabic program, where the idea of drowning was perhaps a bit too real for me.

During my last week in Oakland, as the program was coming to a fruitful and merciful end, I received another text message from my friend inviting me out to dinner, this time to meet a new Christian from a Muslim background. When I arrived, I was met by a beaming Sahar! The message of God’s selfless love had overpowered her, and she could no longer remain Muslim. A few days after our dinner, she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Now it was time to rejoice with her, share stories about our amazing God, and point the way forward for her discipleship.

Taken from Chapter 11 of  No God but One:  Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam & Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan.

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