Student 1 A Defense of Christianity Against Islam Muslims often claim that

Student 1
A Defense of Christianity Against Islam
Muslims often claim that Christians are polytheists.[1] The cornerstone confession of Islam is the shahada: “I testify that there is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”[2] The doctrine of the oneness of God in Islam is called Tawhid. This doctrine holds “that Allah is absolutely one.”[3] This means that Allah could not have attributes, or various parts, because this would contradict his unity.[4] A Trinitarian conception of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit does not fit with the shahada nor with Tawhid.
It is important to point out to Muslims that Christian doctrine itself does not condone polytheism. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that God is one divine substance, but that three persons are a part of this substance.[5] This concept can be difficult to understand, but Muslims should not have trouble admitting that God is greater than the human mind can conceive (as their own doctrines affirm).[6] Thus it should not be a surprise that the concept of the Trinity is difficult to grasp.[7]
Furthermore, Christians can easily point out, as Nabeel Qureshi does, that the real contradiction is not the Christian concept of the Trinity, but the Muslim concept of Tawhid. As stated above, this doctrine teaches that Allah is absolutely one. It also teaches nothing is eternal but Allah. A majority of Muslims today, however, believe that the Quran is eternal.[8] These beliefs are irreconcilable.
A Critique of Buddhism
Buddhism is split into two major sects. Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks write that Theravada Buddhism stays true to the alleged teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who did not claim to be a god. Mahayana Buddhism, however, arose a few hundred years after Gautama’s death. This sect claims the Buddha was a god.[9] The vast majority of Buddhists today are Mahayana Buddhists, which means most Buddhists today blatantly defy the teachings of the Buddha.[10]
There is, however, another major problem with Buddhism. This religion teaches that the self does not exist.[11] The self is not an illusion—any rational person understands that they have a will and that they are an individual. The self thinks, perceives, wants, and desires.[12] To say the contrary is ludicrous. If I were speaking to a Buddhist and they claimed they did not really exist I would be tempted to ask them if it was rational to have a dialogue with someone who did not exist.
 
[1] Paul M. Gould, Travis Dickinson, and R. Keith Loftin, Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospel (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2018), 167.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Nabeel Qureshi, No God But One: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam & Christianity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Reflective, 2016), 50.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Gould, Dickinson, and Loftin, Stand Firm, 168.
[6] Qureshi, No God But One, 56.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., 50-51.
[9] Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013), 138.
[10] “Buddhists,” Pew Research Center, December 18, 2012, https://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-buddhist/
[11] Gould, Dickinson, and Loftin, Stand Firm, 180.
[12] Ibid..
Student 2
Short Argument defending Christianity against an aspect of a world religion:  Judaism
Judaism believes that the world is broken because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were kicked out of the garden, causing exile for God’s people. They believe, “Humanity is alienated from God” and “Repair of this world is needed.”[1] While this is true, and Christians would agree with this belief, Jewish people do not believe that God gave them an answer to this problem, whereas Christians know that the answer is found in Jesus Christ.
Gould explains, “Central to Judaism is the belief in one God, who has called for Himself a people – the Jewish people – to be his representatives on earth and a blessing to all.”[2] For Jewish people, righteous living is most important. They believe, “God provided the law – rules for right conduct – so that the Jewish people can demonstrate that living according to God’s plan is both possible and good for the world.”[3] For the Jews, it is all about the Law of Moses. Gould explains, “Orthodox Jews adhere to the Law, Reform Jews focus on the ethical core of the law, and Conservative Jews focus on Jewish tradition embodied within the law.”[4] The Jewish religion is a religion of “practice” and of performance. They are preparing for their Messiah to come, and until then, “it is the job of the Jewish people to make things ready and to make things right – to ‘repair the world’ and put an end to exile.”[5] The problem with their worldview is that they feel as though you must obey the law perfectly and that is not possible.
That is why God sent Jesus; to be our substitutionary offering, our propitiation. We could not uphold the law perfectly, but Jesus did that for us. He paid the price for us. Jesus Himself was Jewish, and He did not become “less Jewish” to be the Messiah. If a Jew converted to Christianity, they would not have to leave their Jewish heritage or identity behind; Jesus didn’t. He said Himself, “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).[6] They no longer have to prepare for their Messiah to come; He came, and He is Jesus, as Gould explains, “Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah.”[7]
What Jewish people need to understand is that God cares more about their hearts and “transforming individual hearts and lives” and that transformation begins at the Cross of Christ. Gould summarizes it well, “The good news is that all – Jews and Gentiles – can find shalom – forgiveness of sins, right relationship with God, a way “home” through the shed blood of Christ on the cross.”[8] It is not about what they do for God, but about what He already did for them, because they could never “do” enough, or do it perfectly enough to appease a perfect God. But He knew that, and He had a plan for that all along. His plan was Jesus.
 
Critique an aspect of the worldview of a world religion: Islam
According to Gould, the Arabic word Islam means “submission” or “surrender,” and it signifies the key human problem identified by Islam. According to the Islamic belief, “Man’s fundamental problem is not sin…rather, man’s fundamental problem is pride and self-sufficiency.”[9] Their solution to this pride and self-sufficiency is submission to their god Allah. They believe, “Submission will bring peace in this life and paradise in the next.”[10] They have “five pillars” that “represent essential practices for all faithful Muslims and include: confession, daily prayer, fasting, giving, and pilgrimage to Mecca at least once if possible.”[11] They believe that Allah, is their one unitarian God, and Muhammad was the messenger of Allah.
One major problem with their worldview is Allah is extremely violent and Muslims claim that the Old Testament Yahweh wars are just like the Islamic jihad. This is problematic for several reasons. First, “The Old Testament war commands are limited to a specific time and place in God’s unfolding plan of redemption and blessing to all, whereas Qur’an war commands are open-ended and ongoing.”[12] Second, “The trajectory of Islam is one of domination, whereas the trajectory of Christianity is one of grace.”[13] Gould explains that “The Islamic conquest that marked the life of Muhammad and early Islam has continued unabated to the present day.”[14] As Nabeel Qureshi summarized, “Old Testament warfare is not meant to be an example that Christians model their lives around today. The trajectory in Christianity is not from peaceful to violent, but vice versa.”[15]
 
[1] Paul M. Gould and Travis Dickinson and Keith R. Loftin, Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospe. (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic, 2018), 170.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid., 171.
[5] Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 254.
[6] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New American Standard Bible Version. 
[7] Gould, Stand Firm, 172.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid., 167.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Gould, Stand Firm, 169.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid., 170.
[15] Nabeel Qureshi, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 125.
 
Bibliography
Gould, Paul M. and Dickinson, Travis and Loftin, Keith R. Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospel. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic, 2018.
Prothero, Stephen. God Is Not One. New York: HarperOne, 2010.
Qureshi, Nabeel. Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016.