Almost a year ago, I was approached by a Korean Christian on campus, who randomly asked whether I went to church. For some reason (that I don’t know) I conversed with this person, explained my religious belief and background, and assented to Bible study, in the interest of keeping my mind and heart open to whatever truth comes my way. After all, it is possible that I, a mere human, could be wrong about what he understands to be God’s Truth, and perhaps Bible study might help clarify truth from falsehood.
I’ve been doing Bible study with this Christian and the pastor of the Immanuel Church, have attended several Sunday services, and don’t think I’m really any closer to understanding what is true and what is false than I was one year ago. This, despite my asking God relentlessly for guidance, clarity, and wisdom. Now, problems have arisen. I feel a kind of pressure from the Christian, who tells me that she really believes that God meant for me to meet her for Bible study, that my spiritual troubles will begin to wither if only I accept Christ as God and Savior, even that recently she heard God’s Voice in her soul telling her, “Don’t let go of Omar.”
Now, my immediate reaction is one of repulsion, at least in my mind. I think she is deluded if she thinks she knows, or can even try to intuit God’s will. I have no idea what this voice is that tells her: she says it’s Jesus, but I don’t know Jesus, so I cannot confirm any of it. Yet, I am pulled in the other direction as well, because I can never dispel the thought that I could be wrong about what I understand to be the Truth, that perhaps Bible study is best for me, that I am obligated by God to keep my heart and mind open to all Truth.
My question(s): I really feel like this Bible study, informative as it has been, hasn’t really cast serious doubt on my Muslim belief. I don’t feel attracted to the thought of a savior. There is no appended dimension to my conception of God, even though I’ve been reading a text that proclaims Christ’s divinity repeatedly. Do you think that, as a Muslim who thinks he has strong reason to believe that Islam is God’s Truth, I am required to continue this, in the way of “keeping my heart and mind open to the Truth?” I would much rather not do Bible study with her or her pastor. I would prefer to read the Bible on my own, attend services held by pastors whose sermons are far more sophisticated and enlightening than those of the Imannuel Church, and just ‘have an open mind and heart,’ a respect for, Christianity in general. What kinds of valid, legitimate options do you think I have in this situation?
In reading your question I found plenty that I am able to relate to. I have been to churches, Bible study and met people who insist that I “met them” because I was to be led to the Truth. My counter has recently been to pose that theory to them along with a mutual invitation for them to learn what I know. Always trying to teach without accepting to learn could be construed as condescending and not as productive as it could be. Inevitably, I accept the invitations. However, after frequent visits and long conversations, I came to the very conclusion that you’ve arrived at. I was no longer interested in their presentation, not because it was poor in quality, but that the message clearly did not ring true to my soul. The concepts were alien to my mind, heart and my very spirit. It became very apparent that the ideology, as purely as Christianity is propagated, just did not convince me of being the Truth. I kept my heart and mind open through the whole journey and I exhausted all energies to try to understand the concepts being offered. I was even asked to believe first and then things would fall into place, but that didn’t work for me because I just couldn’t believe. Some even suggested that I had to believe first in order to grasp the message, yet no one could explain how, except that I should just pray, which I did. Unfortunately for them, that did nothing but strengthen my beliefs. I was told that I could not understand the Bible the way they did because I was not reading it from a “believing” perspective but rather a skeptical one. In order to be sure I grasped their teachings I repeated their doctrine, in my own words, to them and they always approved of my understanding. Eventually came the time for me to depart. I had realized that my job was done. I had completely understood the foundations of Christianity as was presented to me and found that my very nature declined to accept it. I had fulfilled my duty to keep my heart and mind open to the Truth. Obviously, I don’t mean that I have shut down my receptive senses and rendered them useless but, rather that in the process of keeping myself open I have eliminated an ideology from that pursuit or openness. Having said that, I will always maintain a welcoming attitude towards a learned argument or presentation regarding any ideology I have eliminated. If I am persuaded in the future then that is up to the Almighty. I, myself, being a mere human being can only go with what I am dealing with now. I have not stopped reading the Bible. As a matter of fact I find that reading it gives me a clearer picture of Christianity than what is propounded by the masses. I don’t mean this in any offensive way, but I truly grasp a completely different understanding from what was being taught to me. I respect Christianity and to be quite honest it is one of my favorite subjects to discuss, yet I have no desire to accept its doctrine.
Observing the, seemingly, closely related experiences we’ve had I would answer your questions based on the conclusions I’ve arrived at. I believe your duty ends when you have reached the state of eliminating certain concepts as being the Truth. I see no purpose in continuing with the studies with the young lady. In your most gentle way let her know that you will no longer like to participate in the Bible study. I, however, would not discourage you from other methods of acquainting yourself with Christian theology if you so chose. Your options are unlimited. Yet, pursuing that which is proved unprofitable to your spirituality, to me, would be quite unfeasible.
I commend you on your openness and willingness to learn and accept ideas. Yet, I maintain that being “open” to the potential Truth does not force us to sustain the pursuit towards that which has been declined by our most basic senses. Our obligations are limited to our senses. God asks us no more than what He has endowed us with.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.