From the moment I read Nabeel Qureshi’s first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, I wanted to read more from him. His first book details his conversion from Islam to Christianity and essentially serves as his testimony. In this book, Qureshi offers the reasoning behind his conversion. In essence, he subjects the claims of Islam to the same scrutiny skeptics demand of Christianity and the Bible, however, he does so in a fair and heartfelt manner. In doing so, he details the debates he used to engage in with his Christian friends and compares the claims of Islam with the claims of Christianity. In scrutinizing his Islam, Qureshi eventually arrives at a place of spiritual bankruptcy and discovers that Christianity holds up well to scrutiny. This discovery is what leads him to sacrifice all he’s ever known for the conversion that is detailed in his first book.
When I learned of Qureshi’s passing last year, I immediately resolved to read this book. I am glad I did so. He writes with the authority of one who has lived both faiths and loves people from each religion. His writing is honest and his testimony is incredible. His voice is unique and is sure to inspire. I highly recommend his work to anyone who wants to learn more about Islam, especially as it compares to Christianity.
Title: Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue
Authors: Philip Johnson and Gus diZerega
Publisher: Lion UK, 2009
Review: This book was actually loaned to me by a Wiccan friend who knew I would enjoy it. The subject matter of the book echoed many of the debates and discussions my friend and I have had and the authors were obviously well informed and knowledgeable regarding their faiths. The book strives to create an atmosphere of “dialogue” rather than “debate,” and achieves that goal well. I thought Johnson represented the Christian viewpoints with love and respect towards his counterpart and that diZerega presented his [Wiccan] thoughts with a great deal of intelligence despite my disagreement with his views.
My biggest complaint regarding this book was in its layout. Each chapter covers a different topic and gives the floor first to diZerega to present the Wiccan vantage point and then to Johnson for a Christian response. In each chapter, Johnson was given the advantage of reading diZerega’s essay before writing while diZerega was never given the same opportunity. In my opinion, this gave Johnson an unfair advantage. However, even with this advantage, Johnson never really blows diZerega out of the water … even though he was given ample opportunity (and ammunition) to do so. Given the polite forum of this discussion, I suppose neither author’s goal was to destroy his counterpart; however, I still think Johnson played it a little too nice. diZerega seemed far more pointed than Johnson in his critique of Christianity and it is my opinion that Johnson missed several opportunities to point out weaknesses in diZerega’s views.
I did find it interesting that, once again, the Wiccan in question seems to have formulated his opinions of Christianity as a result of a bad experience with Christianity in his younger years. I often find myself wondering if Christians who represent their faith poorly aren’t the chief cause of Wicca’s current popularity.
I recommend this book highly for anyone interested in the subject matter. Due to the flaws in the layout of the book, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who is on the cusp of making a decision between the two faiths, but it is interesting and informative.