Book Review: Grand Central Question
Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews by Abdu Murray (IVP Books, 2014) is a great read for all Christians who are sharing or want to share the Gospel of Christ with people in their community.
Abdu Murray is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Grand Central Question is his second book. His first was Apocalypse Later: Why the Gospel of Peace Must Trump the Politics of Prophecy in the Middle East (Kregel Academic & Professional, 2009).
Murray holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer. Murray is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He is also a former Muslim.
Everyone has a worldview, whether they realize it or not. How someone “views” the world is their “worldview.” Some people view the world from the perspective of believing in God. Some people view the world from the perspective of believing in many gods. Some people view the world from the perspective of not believing in God or gods. Even those who believe in one God disagree about God’s identity.
Abdu Murray was raised in Islam and was a powerful advocate for his religion. He challenged people from other worldviews, like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and atheism, with his belief that Islam was the only true religion and Allah was the only true God. Christians challenged Murray to consider the Gospel of Christ, which started a nine-year search for the truth that eventually led Murray to become a Christian.
Murray used his experience as a lawyer and former Muslim to write a book that gets to the core of three major worldviews by looking at the “grand central question” for each. The worldviews are Secular Humanism, Pantheism and Islam.
“Why examine these various worldviews and their Grand Central Questions? Why care what their respective answers are and how the gospel’s answers compare? It is not merely an academic exercise or a matter of mere philosophical or theological curiosity. True, if we take this investigation seriously, we may have to dwell on our differences and not just our similarities, which causes us to run the risk of challenging the politically correct version of pluralism that holds sway in the West. But we cannot sacrifice an honest assessment of our differences on the politically correct altar of tolerance.” Abu Murray, Chapter One
Josh McDowell wrote the Foreward of Murray’s book –
“People are looking for answers to the deepest questions in life. Some thing that they have found the answers in a particular worldview or religion, but many are still looking. Maybe their worldview gives them answers to only some of their questions. Maybe it doesn’t even that far. The point is, they are looking. This book, Grand Central Question, is meant both for the people looking for those answers and for those who want to know how to provide the answers lovingly and intelligently.” Josh McDowell, Foreward
Our Ratio Christi chapter at the University of Alabama in Huntsville is helping promote Abdu Murray’s speaking event at UAH on the evening of April 20th. His talk is titled “Jesus Among Other Gods: Are All Beliefs the Same?” It is obvious from reading Grand Central Question that his talk is going to be insightful and important. I highly recommend the book to you, and if you’re in the Huntsville area on April 20th, please join us for Abdu Murray’s talk and Q&A session at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, University Conference and Training Center, 1410 Ben Graves Drive, Huntsville, Alabama. Admission is Free!
Foreword by Josh McDowell
Prologue: What Truth Costs–What Truth is Worth
1. Grand Central Questions
Part I: Secular Humanism or the Gospel–Which Provides Us with Intrinsic Value and Objective Purpose?
2. Secular Humanism: The Secular Search
3. Saying Nothing as Loud as We Can
4. Will the Real Humanism Please Stand Up?
Part II: Eastern & Western Spirituality or the Gospel–Which Gives Real Answers to Suffering?
5. Pantheism and Pain
6. Escaping the Escapism
Part III: Islam or the Gospel–Which Tells Us About God’s Greatness?
7. From Whence Comes God’s Greatness?
8. God’s Greatness and the Preservation of the Gospel
9. God’s Triune Greatness
10. Greatness Incarnate
Epilogue: A Worldview that Views the Whole World
“Murray presents the representative ideas [of the major worldviews] but also seeks to show that Christianity can answer the questions in the best way. The most insightful chapters relate to Islam, as the author was raised a Muslim and has an excellent understanding of the tenets of this religion. Those interested in worldviews and in Christian apologetics will find this book has significant appeal.” (John Jaeger, Library Journal, June 1, 2014)
“The most popular approach to the Christian faith today may, in fact, be apologetics. Movies . . . and many books on apologetics find their legs from the view that whoever shouts the loudest (or is the last one standing) must be right. Yet Abdu Murray’s title will have none of this high-pitched screaming when it comes to discussing the Christian worldview. He offers a calm and reasoned exploration of the faith. . . . What I find appealing about Murray’s book, especially when compared to other apologetics works, is that Murray brings enough personal experience and humility to the mix to make the book readable and palatable to those who may not yet have settled on the answers (or the questions).” (Todd Outcalt, YouthWorker Journal, November-December 2014)
“Grand Central Question is fantastic! I am so impressed at both the personal experience and depth of study that Abdu brings to the table. He takes the biggest life questions and provides insightful, provocative answers. I am thrilled and honored to endorse a book that will equip and challenge so many people.” (Sean McDowell, speaker, educator and author of Is God Just a Human Invention?)
“An attorney by training, Abdu Murray keenly recognizes, as Jesus’ own ministry unveiled, that often there is a deeper question and motive behind a question, and ‘until the heart is open, the e ars remain closed.’ He soberly reminds us that truth is costly–and sometimes it costs us dearly, as Abdu’s own journey reveals. Here you will find a wise and gentle voice who truly understands the doubter and skeptic. Abdu has wrestled with the claims of truth made by many worldviews and shows how the gospel is utterly unique and beautiful. I enthusiastically recommend his work.” (Ravi Zacharias, author and speaker)
“Grand Central Question is a very informed and well-written tour of important worldview topics. The book’s unique strength resides in its fruitful interaction with Islam. I highly recommend it.” (J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and author of Love Your God with All Your Mind)
“If you want to jumpstart your quest in finding the answers to life’s deepest questions, read this book.” (Wayne Hagerman, Living Light News, July/August 2014)
“Outstanding! My friend Abdu Murray, an attorney and former Muslim, uses his razor-sharp intellect to analyze the big questions addressed by various worldviews–and explains why Christianity offers the most satisfying answers. Written with compassion and keen insight, this book will both equip Christians and bring clarity to the spiritually curious.” (Lee Strobel, professor of Christian Thought, Houston Baptist University, and author of The Case for Christ)
“I like this book for two major reasons. In these pages, Abdu examines the major worldviews fairly and provides a fresh approach to showing how the Christian gospel best answers worldview questions pertaining to value, purpose, suffering and the greatness of God. Moreover, Abdu is a former practicing Muslim and attorney who has successfully field-tested in public forums the ideas presented in this book. So, readers are receiving content that is as sound and practical as it is interesting. An enjoyable read!” (Michael R. Licona, associate professor of theology, Houston Baptist University)
“Abdu Murray’s Grand Central Question is a practical, powerful guide to the explanatory value of the Christian faith, both intellectually and practically. This book contains helpful personal illustrations, very telling quotations, and real-life dialogues with Muslims, atheists and advocates of other worldviews that will make us wiser in proclaiming and defending the gospel of Christ.” (Paul Copan, professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University)
“I have long awaited a book such as this, which gives a sensitive but critical hearing to the major world and life views and which then also engages them in the light of the gospel. This is a very good book, and although there are others of this genre, it is quite unique, as it shows the skill of a well-honed mind–one which demonstrates both compassion and critical thinking, and one which, above all, leads us to compare and contrast competing answers to essential questions. Abdu is uniquely qualified to offer this critique, with his background in law, his history with Islam, and his experience as a father, a husband and an honest seeker. This book will help many, and I highly recommend it, especially for those who need good reasons for any belief.” (Stuart McAllister, regional director of the Americas, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries)
“Applying several fundamental questions, Murray works his way through a number of philosophical and religious stances in an effort to ascertain the best basis for how we believe and behave. What grounds the atheist’s good behavior? Should pain have a purpose, and should grief be accompanied by hope, or are both simply meaningless struggles? Does holding that reality is only an illusion make life hurt any less? Still, Murray is at his best when examining Islam, a belief system which he embraced for most of his life. Citing the Qur’an frequently, he shows how contemporary Muslim responses differ from what the Qur’an itself teaches. The overall affect is that of a volume that clearly shows that Christianity is well grounded, unlike other systems.” (Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Research Professor & Chair, Liberty University)
“Abdu Murray digs deeply into these three representatives of major worldviews of our day: atheism, pantheism and theism. This lawyer and former Muslim brings compassion, understanding and clarity to his analysis, comparing the answers of each view to the central message of Christianity.” (Light Magazine, April 2014)
“This is a thoughtful and clearly written book that will benefit anyone interested in apologetics, or anyone needing to see why Christianity is true.” (Gerald Wisz, CBA Retailers + Resources, April 2014)
“Everyone in the world knows something is wrong and in need of fixing. Abdu Murray’s stirring account of his conversion from Islam to Christianity, and his earnest engagement with people of other worldviews, will help you quickly identify the pressing questions each worldview is attempting to answer and see how Christ is the one true answer.” (Jeff Myers, president, Summit Ministries)
“I resonate with Abdu Murray’s personal story. We are both professional ‘case makers,’ and we came to Christianity from non-Christian backgrounds. Abdu’s powerful personal story and impressive professional skills inform his investigation into the most important questions of life. He effectively probes beneath the superficial descriptions to the foundational claims. If you’re ready for a thoughtful, engaging, investigative comparison between the claims of Christianity and competing worldviews, Grand Central Question will serve as a valuable resource.” (J. Warner Wallace, cold-case detective, Christian case maker and author of Cold-Case Christianity)
“If comfort is more important to you than truth, you’re going to be made uncomfortable by Grand Central Question. No matter what you believe about God, former Muslim Abdu Murray will show you convincingly that the answers to everyone’s deepest questions lead right to the foot of Christ’s cross. Thankfully, ultimate comfort is free to all those who will follow the truth where it leads!” (Frank Turek, coauthor of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist)
Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews, IVP Books, 2014, 261 pages