I had the fortune to meet Mr. Siljander in 1991, when he attempted a new run at Congress from the state of Virginia. He was not successful. But he has been successful in the diplomatic front in some interesting ways.
Now, in a book entitled A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide, Siljander tells us of his own theological journey. He started with the idea that Islam was the antithesis to Christianity, but has ended with the idea that the Muslim’s Allah is the same as the Christian’s Jehovah, and it is merely that our understanding of God is different, but we’re all referring to the same Person.
For example, Siljander argues that the Muslims attribute to Allah the things that Christians attribute to the Trinity. He raises the Eastern Orthodox rejection of the Trinity, attempting to argue that in the end it may not really matter whether or not we call the Persons of the Trinity simply “attributes”. It is apparently merely a matter of semantics. He says,
All three holy books (Torah, New Testament, and Qur’an) describe these three same entities or attributes as Deity — God, Holy Spirit, and Messiah. I have asked distinguished clerics, both Muslim and Christian, if they could explain to me the interaction of these three deified attributes, and after much bantering back and forth, in the end they have all given me the exact same answer: “Mark, it’s a mystery.” So what are we arguing about?
This is an interesting proposition. One that entertains the mind in a number of ways. All three books are holy?
You can see in this statement the very question that started me on these series of e-mails 59 weeks ago. What is your rock-bottom, starting place in theology in terms of the written Word? This is what determines what the holy books really should be. Now, Siljander raises the Qur’an to the same level as the Torah and New Testament.
Here’s the challenge: Where’s the starting point in God’s revelation? Torah, New Testament, or Qur’an. Your answer will reveal your basic presupposition about God’s revelation and how we should be seeking that revelation today.
So it seems that the question Siljander has come to is this: Why can’t the Qur’an have at least equal value with the Torah and the New Testament?
On the other hand, I’ve simply been asking how did the New Testament get equal authority to the Torah. Now I’ll have to expand this: How does the Qur’an get equal authority with the Torah? Or, in the case of the Muslims, how did the Qur’an get raised above the Torah?
That ought to get your mind working overtime. Next week, I’ll add some other questions Mr. Siljander does not appear to ask. Maybe there’s a reason.
Until then, God bless you in your efforts for His Kingdom.
Ian Hodge, Ph.D.
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