Book Plunge: The Grand Central Question

What do I think of Abdu Murray’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Murray has written an interesting apologetics work coming at it as an attorney and as a former Muslim. That brings a unique combination as Murray knows how to argue and handle evidence. He in fact often starts by presenting the case that the other side has given and then responds to how that side is lacking in what it states. All of this goes around the idea of the Grand Central Question. The theme is that each worldview claims to answer such a question and that overall, the Gospel does a better job of answering the claims.

The first position that he goes after is secular humanism. With this one, the question is asking if there is a purpose to life, which also gets to questions of morality. Murray agrees with a view that I’ve had about atheism in that too often, it looks like atheists have moral worldviews that are just floating in the air. I do however disagree with Murray’s response to the Euthyphro dilemma. When we say that God is the good, it ends up still providing no content to what goodness is. If God = good, how does that tell me what goodness itself is? It’s just saying “God is good” but not explaining what is meant by that. Does that mean the same as saying that the pizza I had for lunch is good or that my wife is a good woman or the book I’m reading is a good book?

Still, that would be the main criticism that I have which means the rest of the material in this section is quite good. I would say with this and other sections that Murray’s work is just a start, but it turns out to be a good start.

The next worldview is the pantheistic worldview. In this, he deals with Hinduism, Buddhism, scientology, and various proponents of New Age thought like Eckhart Tolle. The question to ask is about the question of suffering. What is the solution? The pantheist solution that Murray sees is to say that suffering is an illusion and we need to realize our own divinity and overcome the illusion of suffering. Yet Murray is certainly right in that this answer rings hollow, particularly in the face of those who have suffered severe loss, such as the loss of a child.

It is when we get to the final part that in fact, Murray shines the brightest and this is in contrasting Islam and Christianity. Murray comes at this from the position of someone who was a devout Muslim who used to argue against Christians using the classic arguments such as the idea that the Bible is corrupt and has been changed. What was most shocking to him is that in studying the Koran, he found that the interpretation he had of the Koran could not allow that possibility. The more he compared the Koran to the Bible, the more he found the Bible to be reliable.

The question then to ask is “Whose God is greater?” Now I don’t hold to the idea of Greatest Possible Being theology, although I certainly hold that God is the greatest being, but it is an important question to ask with a Muslim who bases their whole life on God being the greatest. Murray argues that if they want to hold to a God who is great, it would be better for them to recognize who Jesus is and to learn about the greatness of a God who exists in Trinity. In my opinion, this response to Islam is the best part of the book as Murray uses his own experience and research directly.

Murray’s book is a good start. One won’t find all the answers here, but for an earnest seeker, one will find the answers to some of their questions.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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