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If you had been here my brother would not have died.
If you'd tried.
Were you otherwise occupied? Hands tied?

Or did you hide? Maybe biding your time? For what?
A deeper challenge, a grander entrance, a brighter glory, a better story?

"The nick of time" is a good story.
That would do.
11th hour, you'd come through.
Midnight you were due.
Now it's half past two.
Where were you?

If you had been here he would not have died.
You were meant to ride on your white horse, enter the fray, the dragon slay, save the day.
Did you hear us pray?
Did you want it this way?

If you had been here to stop him dying...
Why are you crying?
You're meant to be death-defying,
now you're sighing at the tomb, decrying mortal ruin.
Why in God's name are you queueing for the same?

You're commander in chief, we demanded relief, but you landed beneath all our sorrows and grief.
Now it's you on your knees empty-handed, bequeathing us none of our pleas.
Is this what you chose? To bring only tears? We've got plenty of those!

Why are you here?
You say: "To draw near."

Then you sink like a stone past the brink of the chasm we desperately fear.
In darkness enfolded, our terrors you shouldered, while pierced by the nails and the spear.

You have been here.
You've stooped far below all depths that we know, engulfed in our weeping and woe.
Submerged in the grave, then risen to save, upending assumptions we'd made.

If you had been here,
the way that we'd prayed,
we'd only succeed in sorrow delayed.
We'd only evade the reaper for now,
But soon we would bow,
Soon we'd be ploughed in the ground, with no-one to plead.

Yet,
through you, death's a gardener and we are the seed.
And this is the path Resurrection decreed.

If you will be here,
drawing near, that will do.
For now to know you in your grace we can face what is true.
“As in Adam the world dies, so in Christ all WILL arise.”

When you appear - and my brother too -
When you wipe away tears,
when darkness clears,
when mourning has cheered
and joy swallows fear.

Through all our years,
here's how we'll cope,
this our sure hope:
You will be here.

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2

Here's my dialogue with Adnan Rashid from 2 December 2015. Unfortunately the video seems to have been lost but not the audio.

AUDIO

My opening talk is from 27:08-48:30 and then Adnan and I took questions from the audience before finally questioning one another.

With Adnan RashidI absolutely loved the evening. We were well hosted by the Postsmouth Uni Islamic Society who provided the refreshments. There were about equal numbers of Christians (from the Christian Union) and Muslims in the audience. At the end scores of Muslims personally requested John's Gospels. I drove home buzzing. When you talk to Muslims about the gospel you speak about the things that matter: Who is God? Who is Jesus? Is the Bible the word of God? What is salvation? How can I know I'm right with God?

My approach for the opening 20 minutes was to unpack John's Prologue a little bit (as a taster to encourage folks to keep reading John). In particular I explored Jesus as the divine "Word of God". If Jesus is the revelation of God then it is not a question of whether He passes the "divinity test" set by others.  Divinity is what we see in Jesus. And, as you read through John's Gospel, what an attractive divinity we see!

The first objection to this would naturally be: What about the Old Testament? But of course John is talking about the Old Testament. He is emphatically not saying that Jesus-the-Word is a New Testament novelty but an eternal reality - since the very "beginning."

Therefore I took time to demonstrate that Jesus is the divine Word of God from Genesis onwards. I think this is vital in Muslim evangelism. Whenever the Muslim is able (either tacitly or explicitly) to present the Trinity as a New Testament novelty they score a massive advantage. Whenever the Christian is able to demonstrate the Trinitarian Old Testament they make a devastating case. It really is that important.

Of course it's that important - it's essentially the question, "Is Jesus really "the Word of God" or is He merely the best Word of God, the seal of a series of improving words about God??" If we falter here then we have begun on the Arian trajectory that, historically, flowered with Islam.

For this reason I pointed people to these 24 Old Testament Scriptures that cannot be understood with a unitarian doctrine of God. Moses and the Prophets were emphatically not unitarians and their writings cannot be understood unitarianly.

A monadic doctrine of God is not primary historically, it is not simple philosophically/theologically and it cannot be basic methodologically. In short, Trinitarianism is not an offshoot of some more fundamental Unitarian understanding. Quite the reverse. Unitarianism is an heretical offshoot of Trinitarianism.

---

Recently the question has been raised of whether Christians and non-Christians worship the same God. Many who say Yes have based their case on the Old Testament and/or the claim that, of course, we worship the same God as the Jews (e.g. Miroslav Volf and Bruce McCormack). The argument goes, if we're content to say that Christians and Jews worship the same God, then the door is open to say that those other monotheists - Muslims - also worship the same God.

It seems to me that many evangelicals are uncomfortable with this "same God" position, but they don't have a sufficiently Christ-centred, Trinitarian understanding of the Old Testament to be able to refute it. I'd urge them to revisit the issue of Christ in the Old Testament (perhaps start with this series of posts). This is not a needlessly divisive distraction but a crucial point about the basic nature of our God.

Look out in the next week or so for a podcast follow up (you are subscribed to The Evangelist's Podcast I hope??). I'll discuss the debate and some of these implications in greater depth. But before then, have a listen to the debate. And it might help if you saw the POWERPOINT SLIDES for my opening talk.

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdcIl-Ff-IM

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