“Learning led to more questions and a craving to dig deeper. Does a Christian need to call God 'God'? What do we mean by God? Is Allah the same as the God of the Bible? Could a Christian pray while facing Mecca or with a headscarf on? Do Christians prostrate themselves and recite memorized prayers? Must a Christian be baptized, and how should that baptism be performed? Do people who believe in Jesus need to call themselves Christian? What does that mean: believe in Jesus? Believe what about Jesus? What is the gospel?

“At first, I answered these questions with certainty. 'God' is God’s name; Allah is not God. Christians shouldn’t face Mecca or use a headscarf or prostrate or recite rote prayers. I was a Baptist, so yes, Christians had to be baptized by immersion, call themselves Christian, and believe in Jesus. And what they needed to believe about Jesus was the gospel as I had boiled it down: death and resurrection, forgiveness for an individual’s sins in order to access a nebulous heaven.

“These perfunctory answers became unsatisfactory. When I looked at Jesus in the New Testament, studied other biblical passages, and developed relationships with Muslims, old answers crumbled like the walls of Jericho. For the first time in my faith life, I was terrified. I might not have all the answers. I might not even be asking the right questions.

“What if faith is certainty and mystery? What if God is beyond knowing, full of surprise and inscrutability, yet also tangibly revealed in Jesus? These questions scared me. What was happening to my firm foundation?

“I didn’t understand it then, but this was when my life of faith truly began.”