Introduction: Opening Recitals
We know that Sharia is not an optional “module” under the umbrella of Islam. Sharia law is the law of Islam. The Sharia (also spelled Shariah or Shari’a) law is cast from the actions and words of Muhammad, which are called “Sunnah,” and the Quran, which he dictated. Sharia law itself cannot be altered. In the West, we act as if moderate Muslims have a choice whether or not to practice Sharia–which is false. Any honest evaluation concludes that the precepts of Sharia are antithetical to our governance in the West–and more specifically, the libertarian principles set forth in our United States Constitution and so inspired by Judeo-Christian heritage. How, then, can the West absorb massive numbers of Sharia-practicing immigrants and not expect a philosophical shift to occur?
This article examines the inherent dilemma that exists between two of the “world’s great religions,” Islam and Christianity. In their highest, distilled forms–which is where most people approach the subject—Islam and Christianity appear strikingly similar and merely nuanced in their particulars. In a 6th-grade humanities class, they could be made to appear almost indistinguishable at the topical levels of divinity, prophethood, prophecy, prayers, traditions, moral sensibilities and rituals.
And, to be sure, secularists in academia prefer to juxtapose and assimilate Islam with Christianity, in order to cast them in the same light—as merely cultural “divergences” from the same arcane and “illogical” theistic premise. We hear this continually in the media too, often accompanied by assertions that Christian and Islamic morality/ ethics are both outcroppings of (equally) retributive legal systems derived from ancient creeds and notions, penned by unenlightened men who were inclined to mythology and the comfort of divine providence.
The academic elite—mostly agnostic—standard bearers of the secular culture seek to minimize disagreement and summarily, trivialize points of contention as unsubstantial, fundamentalist (sectarian) excuses for bigotry and strife. In other words, if presented with recent atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians (for instance), we would now expect to see any secular progressive-type invoke talking points about an 11th-century crusade in an attempt to draw moral equivalence, and so as to paint the latter with the same homicidal absurdities as the former. They seem to believe that mediation between the “crazies” may tamp down some of the conflict, sectarian violence and terror.
Unitarian Universalists and other liberal branches of theology are not much different from the secular and agnostic voices, in that they believe that our respective theological and doctrinal differences bear little—if any—eternal consequence. As we will posit herein, this kind of crude oversimplification and generalization are unequivocally fallacious and actually serve to frustrate more than they attenuate tensions. Scholars inclined to harmonize the world religions (i.e., Perennialists and “John Hicks” Religious Pluralists) would also have us believe that these religious and ethical frameworks are, indeed, nearly interchangeable and that only “outbursts of pugnacious particularism” driven by political agendas and “backed by forces of arms” can threaten the, otherwise, compatible systems.
So, what about dispassionate peacemaking? Even in progressive Christian and Islamic circles, we find attempts to minimize differences and promote an ecumenical affirmation of (most of) each other’s foundational beliefs. Some would say if this ecumenism were to successfully “blur” the lines between the religions, then there could be dialogue and peace. Religious pluralism has invaded the collective conscience to the extent that secularists would be satisfied to lump all religions into a singular rubbish bin—where no theological chauvinism or favoritism is shown toward other equally valid (or invalid) belief systems.
Devout Muslims and Christians can agree on one thing, however: these folks are all wrong. This is the most essential point of agreement that will drive the thesis herein: devout Muslims and Christians aspire to know GOD’s singular truth. Both camps find it wholly unacceptable and apostate to delineate some muddy middle that we call half-truth or compromise. Compromise is impossible to the truly devout. Only one faith can be true. So, if there is to be peace, we will have to come at it from this premise—and not from the presupposition that dogmatic “dilution” and universalism is ever in the cards.
Another point of agreement is that the secular culture is hostile to any form of theistic morality and would prefer to discredit all with the same broad brush and cohere the token absurdity of any one of them with the collective whole. In social media, I see this incessantly. If Islam is ever cast as illogical, radical, barbaric or extreme, then, ipso facto, Christianity is as well. Well, why not, they are basically the same! If a Christian (i.e., apologist) embarks to decouple and disintermediate one from the other, you can rest assured that any antitheist in the vicinity will oblige to again conflate and homogenize all as “religious nonsense.”
To be fair, there are distinct similarities that need to first be acknowledged… Islam and Christianity share similar beliefs in: 1) monotheism; 2) absolute truth; 3) final judgment; 4) heaven/ paradise; 5) Old Testament figures, such as prophets, kings and Jewish patriarchs; and 6) Jesus, the prophet born of a virgin, messiah and teacher of GOD’s truth.
However, there are consequential differences that we will briefly touch on herein, as we take a look at the dilemma created with regard to culture clash and the question of feasibility surrounding mutual coexistence and peace.. Accordingly, the goals of this exposition are as follows:
- Dilemma: The collision of two disparate “divine” messages and religious ideologies;
- Culture Clash: Understand how we got to this point;
- Implications: Strife, Coexistence or Engagement ; and
- Conclusion: Begin to speculate about the basis for possible solutions.
The central goal in this essay will be to look critically at the Christian—Islamic dilemma and the side effects created by increasing cultural convergence when Muslims migrate Westward. The paper will outline some basic reasons for disharmony en route to a proposed solution on the grounds of resoluteness—not concession.
Obviously, this is a much larger topic than the essay format can hold, so it will also serve as an abstract for the volume set to follow. However, we can surely begin the analysis of the systematic ethical differences between Islam and Christianity and seek to posit why the resultant behavior of Islamists and Christian fundamentalists, respectively, manifests in alarmingly disparate ways.
Islam is the second largest religion on the planet, with some 1.3—1.6 billion adherents, by some recent estimates. If present birthrate and migration trends persist, Europe’s religious majority will be Muslim by the middle of this century. Not only is Islam the fastest-growing religion in the history of the world, but it is further aided by higher-than-average birth rates, a vision of Caliphate-rule, a core doctrine of conquest, a current global diaspora, state-sponsors of terrorism, and an increasing numbers of country-states that sanction Sharia Law and institute religious intolerance and apostasy laws. It is a perfect storm, and it is heading West.
- The Dilemma
Why is only Islam and its adherents mired in seemingly continuous war and in the commission of unspeakable atrocities upon non-combatants? How can another so-called “Abrahamic” faith, Islam, generate the types of radicals and the horrendous acts of savagery that we see almost daily on the global newswires—when Judaism and Christianity do not? Every day, there is some atrocity du jour that makes us rethink what is truly impossible horror for GOD-fearing men to commit. On October 31. 2016, global newswires reported: “ISIS targets children in Mosul with teddy bear bombs.”  What kind of religion inspires this type of unspeakable evil?
Now that Muslims are pouring into the West, must we accommodate their cultural demands, and is Sharia even compatible with civil liberties and democratic freedoms? Are Westerners simply xenophobic, Islamophobic or generally uncaring, inhospitable or, for some, unchristian if they say “enough is enough?” This is, no doubt, a timely topic now, as refugees are fleeing utter chaos, decimation and despair in Syria into Europe and North America, while the democratic systems of the “welcoming” countries are strained, peace is threatened and public services sectors are pushed to the brink.
What are the implications of a culture clash of civilizations that are so dissimilar in terms of styles of governance, ethics, jurisprudence, and religious, geopolitical, and tribal customs? Will superficial “similarities,” aspirational harmony, mutual goodwill, solidarity and common goals carry the day, or will the intrinsic differences threaten the very fabric of Western Civilization? These questions will not all be answered in this essay, but we can begin to develop a strategy to attenuate conflict–before a tipping point is reached.
In case you are approaching this essay with a presupposition that both Islam and Christianity are equally “true” to their respective adherents and that peaceful ecumenism and coexistence should be “attainable,” then I invite you to consider the examples provided by Pastor Justin Imel in his article called the “Damnable Lie of Islam”:
The Qur’an completely retells the story of Jesus Christ. “O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one GOD. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” (Surah 4:171).
Mohammad believed the Christian Trinity consisted of the Father, Christ, and Mary. “And when Allah will say: O Isa Jesus son of Marium! Did you say to men, ‘Take me and my mother as two gods besides Allah” (Surah 5:116). The text goes on to say that Jesus will tell Allah that he said no such thing. Mohammad taught that Christians believed in three gods. The Qur’an clearly says that Jesus was not the Son of GOD. “He [Jesus] was naught but a servant on whom We bestowed favor” (Surah 43:59). “The Christians say: the Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!” (Surah 9:30). “It beseems not Allah that he should take to Himself a son, glory be to Him, when he has decreed matter He only says to it ‘Be,’ and it is” (Surah 19:35).
So, why is the Islamic world always embroiled in strife, war, instability, and death? Is it merely tribal disagreements with each other and philosophical conflicts with other religions that drives this inexplicable homicidal obsession? To be sure, the modus operandi of Muslim terror operators is indiscriminate bloodshed of innocents–NOT warfare. Muslim leaders attempt to portray this behavior as aberrant and non-Islamic. However, these leaders also do little to condemn their own, while secretly funding their jihadist activity.
Further, are Christianity and Judaism simply natural rivals over the rightful disposition of Palestine–as the mainstream media and academia have suggested for years? No. If Islam’s conflict were only with Christians and Jews, it might be dismissed accordingly, however, Islam’s conflict is with everyone—fellow Muslims, Buddhists, secularists, and otherwise. The carnage has been inconceivable. According to TROP, a jihadist watch group, there have been 29,879 deadly terror attacks since 9/11.
According to its own holy texts—so, by definition—Islam disfavors Jews and Christians (“Dhimmis”) far less than it detests every other apostate, pagan or pantheistic religion. Jews and Christians have the provisional status as “People of the Book,” hence, merely second-class citizens. But, non-Zionists—i.e., the rest of the world—are “kaafir” and treated as idolaters and polytheists called “mushrikiyn.” This constitutes apostasy, where infidels are commonly punished by death. How is it that we can live peaceably with people who hold to these beliefs? Can we find common ground? Can we appease them, or attempt to accommodate them? Herein lies the dilemma.
- How Did We Get Here: Culture Clash?
Christianity and Islam are similar, if not virtually the same, according to many secular, non-theologians. It should, then, come as little surprise that the architects of these two religious systems–Jesus and Muhammad–are regularly juxtaposed and compared to make one socially motivated point or the other. Competing and sometimes diametrically opposed narratives are heard, either attempting to promote peace and coexistence between the two or accepting outright the interminable and somewhat historically evidenced incompatibility thereof.
Christianity and Islam have been at odds, literally since the beginning of the initial spread of Islam after the death of Muhammad in the 7th Century and taken to a new level with the decree by Pope Urban II to launch the First Crusade to retake Jerusalem (1095-1099) . Muslim hostility toward Christians and Jews is not a recent phenomenon. Despite CAIR talking points to the contrary, Islam has been at war with us in the Christian faith for most of the millennium that preceded the modern State of Israel and American foreign policy. Muslims have warred with Christians and Jews as minorities and persecuted them as majorities. From the Barbary corsairs to the Ottomans, the facts are the facts, despite continued attempts at systematic historical revisionism.
Academic apologists claim that Muslim hostility toward Christians derived recently (i.e., 20th Century) from the ongoing Palestine conflict, but at no time during the history of Islam until the twentieth century did the Jews have a functioning state, yet, there have only been brief interludes of peace. Israel has conveniently become the scapegoat for contemporary Muslim hostilities, but that fails to explain over a thousand years of Muslim atrocities, religious hatred, persecution and genocide.
Why did Muslims persecute and kill Jews as far back as Muhammad, when he slaughtered adolescent male Jews of the tribe, Banu Qurayza? For the same reason that they killed Christians then an now. Islam hated Judaism and Christianity from the start, where adherents of the preceding faiths were called “Dhimmis.” The Qur’an urges Muslims not to befriend Jews or Christians (Qur’an 5:51) speaks of “enmity and hatred” with Christians (Qur’an 5:15) and the Jews (Qur’an 5:65) who are also to be cursed. The Jews are accused of “creating disorder” (Qur’an 5:65) and Christians are accused of worshiping their priests (Qur’an 9:31). The Jews and Christians believe in evil things (Qur’an 4:52) and Allah’s curse will be upon them (Qur’an 9:30).
Muslims don’t hate and kill Jews because of (the State of) Israel. They hate Israel because it is Jewish.. Christians have been systematically eradicated from the Middle East in the last hundred years, going from one fourth of the population to only a tenth. The Christian demographic now comprises a mere .04% of the population of Turkey–vestiges of which are Ephesus (First-Century mission) and Constantinople, Christianity’s capitol in Asia Minor during the Roman Empire!
Not coincidentally, the clash of these cultures dominates current news in the wake of numerous terrorist attacks in Europe and North America–as well as amid a diaspora of displaced peoples from war-torn regions of the Middle East. Subsequently, the admission and assimilation of (mostly) Syrian refugees migrating to Western, traditionally Christian nations is one of the hottest, most divisive debates in the public square and on social media today. In the mostly secular camp—that recognizes no substantive difference between Christians and Muslims—there is simply no reason everyone cannot assimilate through diversity training, tolerance and multicultural awareness. Conversely, anyone who studies either religious system with any serious degree of critical thinking, understands the incredible challenge facing society when the balance is shifted—either at the local level or a more societal or national level.
In theory—as well as in accepted scholarship—the ethical/ moral bases for Judaism, Christianity and Islam are purported to derive from the same GOD, care of the same patriarch, Abraham, and the prophet, Moses. It is widely accepted by historians and Christian apologists that Jesus, a Jew, studied and taught from the Holy Scriptures of Judaism (i.e., Torah). Islam, conversely, has only arbitrary ties to the former faiths, and given by nebulous, questionable angelic revelation with surprising, if not fantastical, notions of Abraham’s arrival in a pre-extant Meccan civilization around 1500 BC.
Not only was Muhammed said to be illiterate, the circumstances under which this revelation came to him were dubious at best. In addition, the chain of custody of this “perfect” and “final”(Qur’anic) set of decrees was by word-of-mouth only, and it was only from a myriad of latter-written Qur’anic versions did an authoritative version arise—from dozens, if not hundreds of candidates—which is now regarded by Muslims as the sacrosanct, unchanged and identical words that were decreed by Allah, himself. If Islam were to apply the same level of scrutiny to the obtainment of the Qur’an as they do the Bible and its authors, the Qur’an would be questioned for its veracity, and the Hadith would be written off entirely as an unsubstantiated and uncorroborated collection of stories written 250+ years after Muhammad died.
Whereas, defenders of Islam routinely undermine the integrity of authors and the timeliness of source materials in the Bible, the Qur’an and Hadith cannot be substantiated until centuries after the alleged life and time of Muhammad. The earliest Qur’anic complete manuscript was from 800 AD, which is approximately 200 years after Muhammad would have received his “revelation.” If Christians are not prepared to question alternative versions of history, then Muslims go unchallenged when they float myths, such as the assertion that there are complete copies of the Qur’an dating from the year Muhammad died. It is not true. Even the earliest fragmentary manuscripts of the Qur’an are all dated no earlier than 100 years after Muhammad died. In 2015, however, it should be noted that fragments containing portions of Surah 18-20 found in a Birmingham, England museum were said to actually predate the years scholars believed Muhammad to have “received” them (which creates even greater problems to the modern Islamic historical narrative). Could some of the tenets of Islamic faith have preceded the revelations Muhammad claimed to have received from the Angel Gabriel?
Most academicians find it far easier (and safer) to just allow the Muslim scholars to believe what they wish, instead of risk life and limb to challenge them. But, to be sure, egregious scientific errors exist in the Qur’an, and the following is one such example:
“When he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring and found a people thereabout. We said: ‘O Dhul-Qumeyn! Either punish or show them kindness’” (Surah 18:86).
There are many self-refuting contradictions in the Qur’an as well: The Qur’an states that the earth was created in six days (Surah 7:54; 25:59), but it also states that the world was created in eight days (Surah 41:9-12). In Surah 51:57 we find that Jinn (angelic-type beings) were created to worship Allah, yet in Surah 7:17 we find that the Jinn were created for Hell. In Surah 17:103 we are told that Pharaoh was drowned with his army, yet in Surah 10:90-92, upon admitting to the power of GOD, he is rescued as a sign to others. In Surah 4:157 we read that Jesus did not die, yet in Surah 19:33 we read that not only did he die, but he arose again! The interesting point in all of this is the reading of Surah 4:82 which reads, “Do they not consider the Qur’an? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancies.”
We have strong evidence to refute a number of other claims in the Qur’an (such as Abraham’s link to Mecca or the Kaaba shrine), Muhammad’s apparent confusion over the Jewish Patriarchal lineage, as well as his fundamental misunderstanding of the Trinity as a polytheistic form of human worship). We simply will not have time to delve into all Islamic divergences from the true and living Word of GOD, however, in order to understand the nature of the dilemma, we also need to have an appreciation for the depth of the textual disagreement and subsequent ideological diversions.
Similar to the narrative about the Muslim and Christian religious systems being similar, so too do we hear comparisons made between their central figures: Muhammad, the messenger of Allah (hence, Islam); and Jesus Christ, the Son of GOD, Messiah, and foundation of the Christian faith. To say that Jesus and Muhammad are diametrically opposed is a colossal understatement. In Muhammad’s sacred text, that he claims is from Allah himself, he commands death or dismemberment to unbelievers in no fewer than 109 Surah (verses). Islam, like Christianity, is not widely studied or well understood by its (~1.6 billion) followers. This might come as a shock to some, since Islam is heavily legalistic and focused on regimented prayer and recitation. Most Muslims, however, get their “instructive” information from Imams and Clerics—who can mold the “truth” into any number of fashions that meet with their objectives.
While most Muslims are required to recite surah (scriptures) from the Qur’an and litanies of prayers called “Salah,” few are either able or permitted to exegete the holy texts themselves. If they did, they might be surprised with what they find. And, like other cultic systems (i.e., Jehovah’s Witnesses), adherents of Islam are admonished to study the texts on their own, without “expert” assistance, lest they become “confused” and back-peddle in their faith. Cultic religious movements rarely withstand thorough academic scrutiny, and Islam is case-in-point. As a way for cults to attempt to thwart unwanted inquiry, they routinely engage in acts of intimidation or threats of retribution. In the West, we now see any intellectually honest critique of Islam attacked by groups like CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) as “hate speech,” “racism” or the new catch-all epithet, “Islamophobia.”
According to Nabeel Qureshi, in his book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” the devout Muslim-turned-Christian convert makes compelling cases for believing the Biblical New Testament record, which was written by eyewitness accounts to the ministry of Jesus within 70 years of his death and resurrection—as opposed to Islam, where no corroborating account of Muhammad’s life would be written until more than two centuries after his death.
Additionally, he forcefully lays out what he refers to as the “Islamic dilemma.” Muslims who look at their faith honestly, with the same academic rigors with which they scrutinize Christianity, will find the following dilemma: 1) There is no historical foundation in Muhammad for a “real faith” commitment. Intellectually honest scholars must either concede that the sources of their beliefs in Muhammad were written by people who did not witness the events, hundreds of years following the events for any of it to be historically reliable; or 2) The historical foundation is accurate. If they accept the Hadith’s account and insist that the writings were reliable in depicting the life of Muhammad, then they are left accepting the unconscionable accounts of violence, sex slavery, and dehumanizing brutality—thereby, rejecting the notion that he was a prophet of GOD.
Although the maximally all-powerful deity, Allah, bears some isolated similarities to the GOD of Moses, the aggregate picture is not of the same being. This will be covered in some detail in a future installment, exposing the inexplicable disparity between GOD of the Bible and Allah.
One of the greatest challenges that Christians have is to sift through the warring factions of rhetorical flourishing to get to the truth about the prophet of Islam. Non-believers are attacked for even attempting a dialogue about Muhammad, and the majority of Westerners are contented knowing nothing—for fear of saying the wrong thing. The truth is, we must know the truth, because Islam is here on our soil and in our classrooms, and we collectively don’t have the will as a society to say that it is harmful and antithetical to our way of life. Allah is acknowledged by most Muslim scholars to simply be a variant of “Elohim,” which was a name for GOD, commonly used in the Hebrew Bible. The etymological differences in modern parlance aside, the two names—Yahweh & Allah—are intended to refer to the same maximal deity, the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent originator of space and time. However, the character and nature of GOD is depicted in highly disparate manners in the Christian Bible and Qur’an, respectively.
First, we must acknowledge that all three so-called “Abrahamic” faiths share the common adherence to a monotheistic philosophy that drives their respective ethics. Certainly, the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament is acknowledged by all three faiths. Similarly, Hellenistic influences and Zoroastrianism were later infusions into the development of the societies that evolved with the foundational underpinnings of these respective religious systems. But, is Allah really Yaweh? We may start where we have unanimous agreement and undoubtedly, common ground: monotheism and resultant ethical systems.
Monotheism and ethics require each other, neither can be reduced to the other, nor is the one hostile to the other. Their relationship is best characterized by the Platonic concept of the unity of virtues—the virtues reinforce each other, but each remains distinct and rests on the idea of GOD as paramount value concept. Monotheism is not just the belief in a single GOD, but rather the decision to see “in GOD’s unity the unity of all that is affirmative—beauty and truth, life and creativity.” The ethical imperative of monotheism is thus the boundless command to pursue GOD’s perfection, to bring out in ourselves all the good, and all the holiness, that we can.
So, monotheism provides us a strong common thread between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. But, where the aforementioned diverge is where significant problems occur, lest we as Christians do a better job at proclaiming the only objective truth—the exclusive “Sola Christa” path to salvation. Accordingly, we have to be willing to avow that the nature and characteristics ascribed to Allah in Islamic teachings bear little resemblance to GOD of the Bible. The following is excerpted from Daniel Janosik, Adjunct Faculty (Apologetics), Columbia International University, who perfectly states the dilemma:
“Some scholars want to emphasize the similarities between Yahweh and Allah, and point to a common belief in a monotheistic God who is Creator of all things, omnipotent and merciful. Both religions also claim that God has sent prophets to reveal His will and produce scriptures to guide our lives. However, Allah and Yahweh cannot refer to the same person for the following reasons. First of all, their attributes are different. In Allah’s monadic oneness his attributes stem from his powerful Will which, because it provides no basis for relationship, often promotes capriciousness. Also, since his power is more important than his other attributes, there is an unequal emphasis on power over his other attributes. In the end, a follower cannot know God or even be sure of the consistency of his attributes. On the other hand, because Yahweh is by nature a triune unity his attributes stem from his nature. The eternal relationship within the Trinity promotes love within the Godhead and extends to his creation. Also, since his attributes are based on his unchanging nature rather than his powerful will, all his attributes are equal and promote trustworthiness rather than capriciousness. This means that believers can know God and be sure of his attributes. Second, Christians understand the nature of God to be triune (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), which is the only way that Jesus Christ, as the second person of the Trinity, could die on the cross to pay for our sins. If Jesus were not God himself, then his death on the cross would be meaningless. However, Muslims deny that Jesus died on the cross and they reject the belief in his resurrection from the dead. Only a triune God, defined as one essence and three persons, could become incarnate and still remain God of the universe, and yet this is the God that Muslims reject. For them, Jesus cannot be God nor can God be a Father, for he cannot have a son. Therefore, if Muslims reject God as the Father of Jesus, then Allah cannot be the same as the God of the Bible.”
- Implications: Strife, Coexistence or Engagement
In his book, “Seeking Allah; Finding Jesus,” Nabeel Quereshi outlines an interesting, if not surprising dichotomy of ethical interpretations and learning styles across Eastern and Western cultures. He sums it up as cultural challenges between East (honor-shame cultures) and West (innocence-guilt cultures).
Clearly, there are significant ethical, sociological and behavioral paradigms that widen the chasm between the faiths. Quereshi does lend some credence to the popular notion that “if we allow these foreign cultures to assimilate into Western societies, they will conform to our traditions, system of laws and generalized sensibilities. This, of course, remains up for debate, as we see continuously the hardliner Muslims who refuse assimilation and insist on maintaining rigid observance of Sharia law, for example. Whether we are a melting pot, a stew or a salad, depends upon whom you ask. So, even if the cultural “honor/shame” vs “guilt/innocence” differences can be resolved or summarily “smoothed out,” we would still be left with the dichotomous religious underpinnings that do not dissolve away so easily.
Others completely reject this affront to their sacred teachings, in light of the bold and pronounced contradictions in Islam’s biblical revisionism and their wholesale rejection of the gospel message (sola fide, sola gratia, sola scriptura, etc.). In short, Islam contains just enough grains of veracity so that it appears to many as true. The author(s) and scribes of the Qur’an coopted shreds of knowledge from the Torah, Talmud and reputable 7th-century sources, passing it off as their own. Platonic and Hebrew thought, i.e., in the form of manuscripts, were now in wide circulation and regarded by the learned in Meccan culture as laudable, if not authoritative. Similarly, Christianity was already 600+ years along by the time Muhammad was born, so the missionary message of the gospel was gaining in popularity and would have been accessible for easy plagiarism.
Muhammad sought ecumenism with Christians and Jews before his message was rejected. Then, he was bent on subjugation and conquest (despite insistence by CAIR and others that it was peace he sought), we see evidence throughout the Hadith of his attempt to gain adherents by conforming aspects of his ideological treatise to those of local conventions (i.e., number of wives one could take), thereby, eliminating any credible claim that these decrees were given by divine revelation. Further undermining the Qur’an, countless contradictory passages in the Qur’an are abrogated and replaced by “later” proclamations. However, the Qur’an is NOT in chronological order, so these claims are not easily substantiated by those without a degree in Islamic Studies and a mastery of cross-references to the Hadiths. If nothing else, these complexities provide Islamic apologists “cover” when challenged on contradictions: they can simply obfuscate inconsistencies with artful sophistry and diversion.
Islam isn’t just a “little bit” different from Christianity; it is inexorably incompatible—especially on a soteriological level—which is essentially the “sine quo non,” if you will, for most practicing Christians and Muslims. If one takes the time to get beneath the topical, generalized similarities and down to salvific precepts, there is no denying the consequential ramifications of presuming there to be defensible agreement between the divine gospel message of biblical scripture with the Qur’an’s ideological and soteriological departures.
In short, salvation in Christianity requires redemptive grace by faith and denies works-righteousness to be sufficient on the presupposition that “ no one is holy, no, not one (Romans 3:10).” Islam, conversely, believes that good Muslims are sufficiently holy. Sharia is purely based upon works-righteousness and keeping the Sufi, by observing ritualistic cleansing and prayers in a rigorous litany of atoning work. In Islam judgment will be subject to the “scales of justice” (i.e., as in, simply do more “good” deeds than “evil” deeds). There is no concept of original sin, and each person can please Allah through his own atonement, and if a (capricious) Allah feels like admitting one to paradise, then he is good-to-go. Similarly, another way of tipping the “scales” under Islam would be to martyr oneself in an act of jihad. There is no grace, no substitutionary atonement, no imputed righteousness; Each will stand before GOD in judgment, hoping that his works are sufficient..
With these stark differences that exist between Islam and Christianity, it becomes close to inconceivable to find a version of Christianity that is acceptable to Muslim ears or a version of Islam that Christians can accept. By the very nature of the dilemma, the two faiths are mutually exclusive. Both can be wrong, but only one can be right. So, where do we go from here?
- Conclusion: What to Do About It?
Christians and Muslims can agree on this: there is only one truth. Both can be wrong, but only one can be right. If interfaith prayer breakfasts and invocations were going to mend fences, they would have had some effect by now toward better relations.
Further, there is no Islamic reformation on the horizon. As surely as Christianity has its share of tepid humanists and gospel-diluting ear-ticklers among its ranks, it is less likely that enough such “progressive” Muslims will have any effect on reforming oppressive aspects of Sharia justice or softening positions on women’s rights—such that we may find ecumenical common ground. You simply cannot dilute either faith to a point where there is mutual satisfaction, while still preserving the integrity of the respective orthodoxies. Islam still denies the deity of Christ, and Christianity still asserts a triune Godhead. Islam will always proclaim the Holy Trinity as polytheistic and Christians as idolaters who worship a man. Islam denies the singular tenet of the Christian faith that we hold dear and on which, we shall never compromise—the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior!
Christians should, therefore, NOT look to resolve differences through polite ecumenism and appeasement; but rather, by respectful and resolute rejection of the Qur’an and Islam through engaged dialogue, apologetic debate and ministry. Christians have to be resolutely convinced: Islam is not true. The Qur’an is a syncretic stew of incomplete thoughts and randomly assembled religious concepts and statutes. It ignores the entire ministry of Jesus and salvation by grace, yet claims to uphold Jesus as a prophet? There is no mention of grace in the Qur’an, and there is no concept of man’s fallen nature, nor faith in Christ’s atonement for our sins and his righteousness imputed to us for our justification and redemption. Yet, Jesus is a principal prophet of Islam? It would be nonsensical if it weren’t so serious an error.
Islam is a dangerous religion; it is a damnable lie. It is dangerous because it teaches that hate comes from a capricious and unpredictable GOD. It is disrespectful to the Lord, our savior, as it withholds deserved praise and glory to Him, thus, depriving humanity the Light of the World. These “nuances” that secularists would choose to minimize actually amount to an eternal consequence, lest anyone should speak to the contrary. Christianity teaches that love comes from GOD, and we can have a relationship with him. The Bible glorifies the Son of GOD, as we are commanded to do. Christianity gives mankind the assurance of eternal life—not some vague notion of paradise if we are able to satisfy the creator through legalism and works.
Neither side is ever going to be satisfied with the secularist and universalist line that all Abrahamic lineages share a path to salvation and GOD’s pleasure and satisfaction. This is the good news, as it applies to Islamic-Christian relations, if we are willing to start there. But, we haven’t yet, as Christians fulfilling the Great Commission. We must not merely agree to disagree. That is simply not acceptable to either camp, and it is surely NOT acceptable to GOD Almighty. There is only one truth, and we are both in search of that truth.
Pursuit of a singular truth is a starting point for dialogue—if apologists in both schools can participate in a highly visible forum and accept the consequences when received by the masses. Through intellectual inquiry and by acknowledging a singular truth, alone, we share far more in common with intellectual Muslims, than either secularists or universalists, who push for dilution in order to achieve a mutual acceptance of each other’s salvific path. Their Pollyanna view of the simplicity of our mutual or “shared” theology is a non-starter for any serious theologically minded Muslim or Christian.
As a Christian, I can state unequivocally that I have virtually no shared theology of any serious consequence with the Muslim faith—outside of the “one GOD” presupposition. We agree on monotheism, but other than that, their version of Christology is not only flawed, it is damnable, in no uncertain terms. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me as a disciple of Christ to confront Islam head-on with a rebuttal and alternative. The gospel’s message of freedom through Christ alone—instead of in the law and legalistic ritual—is one of hope for the lost. The message of mercy instead of retribution is one that converts skeptics. The message of hope instead of fear can change the world.
As we know, love and tolerance are not the same. If we are “tolerant” of Islam, then we are to consign the lost to damnation. That kind of apathy is antithetical to love. Muslims want to please GOD; they are just on the wrong path. They have been led astray, and their entire culture is built around perpetuating the myth of Islam. It is an oppressive and dysfunctional industrial and military complex that does not permit intellectual inquiry or discussion beyond its self-imposed boundaries. If there is one benefit to having Muslims here in the West, it is that we can reach them.
The answer is given by the testimony of Paul, in Galatians 2:20:
“The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of GOD, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”
Muslims know absolutely nothing of the good news—unless we are to tell them. We must say to our Muslim brothers and sisters that this is what the apostle and the Lord himself are calling you to do: to see the depths of the love of Christ for you. To believe the love that he has for you. And to send the roots of your life down, down, down into this bottomless love.
Remember, Muslims revere Jesus; they are just loathe to what they perceive as a blasphemous, weak and tepid version of Christianity in the apostate Western culture. And, despite, perhaps, a general sense that they are hostile to Christians, they generally enter an encounter with us with the exact same enthusiastic mindset—to convert and save the lost. The ethical imperative is, therefore, not to get lost in frustrating or futile interfaith efforts to find common ground. We must trust in the inerrant, infallible Word of GOD and share the full, unadulterated truth of the gospel with the lost followers of Islam.
“6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-8, NIV)
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 Footnote: Salaat (also: “Salah”) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is an Islamic ritual prayer. There are five daily calls to prayer at which Salah are recited.
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 Footnote: In the Hadith, Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268, Muhammed was reputed to have as many as 11 wives, despite teaching in the Qur’an that four was the limit—and only when taking in orphans. Narrated by Qatada: Anas bin Malik said, “The Prophet used to have sexual intercourse with all his wives one after the other during the day and night and they were eleven in number.” I asked Anas, “Had the Prophet the strength for it?” Anas replied, “We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men).” And Sa’id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven).
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