“It was for freedom that Christ has set us free”
Freedom is at the heart of the Christian faith. “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free”, writes Paul, and for two thousand years Christians have rejoiced in the freedom that the gospel brings — freedom from sin, freedom to be truly human, freedom to not just know about God but to know God. According to the gospel, in Christ we are set free to be sons and daughters, not just slaves.
But traditional Islam has quite a different view. The Qur’an does not view humans as made in God’s image or allow humans to speak of Him as father. Instead it describes humans as slaves of God. This narrow view of what it means to be human has flowed through Islamic law and Muslim culture – often resulting in huge restrictions being placed around freedoms we take for granted in the West: academic, religion, political, social and family. It is no accident that Muslim countries regularly top the list of places where religious freedom is under threat.
RZIM’s (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) Understanding and Answering Islam conference in Atlanta, Georgia recently explored this issue, comparing and contrasting the Christian and Muslim view of freedom, and their implications for individuals and for societies. Sharing the teaching platform were MST’s own Drs Peter Riddell, Richard Shumack and Mark Durie (an Arthur Jeffery Centre Research Fellow). It is exciting to see the Arthur Jeffery Centre powerfully contributing to the global conversation on Islam in ways that enable Christians to engage deeply with their Muslim neighbours on these sorts of profound questions to do with identity and purpose.
Listed below are the topics that were presented at the Atlanta conference and the notable speakers whose names are familiar to a worldwide audience. For access to the conference presentations visit the RZIM website:
A Theology of Freedom – Stuart McAllister
From Slaves to Sons: Freedom for Muslims in the Gospel – Abdu Murray
The Hidden Trade: North African Slavery – Mark Durie
Liberation and the Burka: Women’s Freedoms Under Islam – Senem Ekener
Slaves of Allah: The Theological Grounds of Muslim View of Humanity – Peter Riddell
Insh’Allah: The Injustice and bondage of Islamic Determinism – Andy Bannister
Stories of Freedom: Testimonies of Muslims coming to Faith – Sasan Tavassoli
Q&A – Richard Shumack
For the Understanding and Answering Islam companion book (produced in conjunction with MST) check this website and scroll down to find the book.