Christianity vs Islam

Christianity vs Islam

Introduction

There is a common misconception among many Christians and Muslims that we worship the same God and that the two religions are very similar. However, that is not true and I am going to show you why by making some important comparisons.

Whilst some parts of the Bible and the Qur’an may agree, there are some fundamental differences, most importantly regarding Jesus. So, I want to start with Jesus and the godhead.

 

Jesus

Whilst Muslims accept that Jesus existed, they do not accept that he is God even though the Bible says that he is God.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6.

 

Prophecies about Jesus

The prophet Isaiah (700 – 680 BC) gave many prophecies concerning Jesus, all of which have come true to date. These prophecies show that Jesus is God, Messiah, a man, that he dwelt amongst us, that he died on the cross for our sins and that he came to save the world.

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14. Immanuel means God with us. Concerning the birth of Jesus, Matthew in his gospel said, “All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Immanuel.” Matthew 1:22-23.

But you O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days. Therefore, he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. Micah 5:2-5. This is a prophecy about the coming Messiah who will be born in Bethlehem.

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgement he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:1-12. This is a prophecy about Jesus’ life and treatment, crucifixion and burial.

They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:18. This happened when Jesus was crucified.

I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Isaiah 49:6. Jesus the Messiah will be a light to the Gentiles.

 

God’s Son, Jesus

According to the Qur’an, God does not have a Son. However, the Bible says that he does have a Son. And his Son is Jesus.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16.

 

The Father and the Son are One

Islam teaches that Jesus is not God. However, Jesus claimed of himself that he was God. This is why he was accused of blasphemy by the religious authorities of the time.

“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30. These are the words of Jesus.

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9. Again, these are the words of Jesus about himself.

 

The Trinity

Although the word ‘Trinity’ is not in the Bible, the New Testament possesses a “triadic” understanding of God and contains a number of Trinitarian formulas (Wikipedia). So, in Christianity there is a plural godhead but in Islam, Allah is only one dimensional. Here are some of the Trinitarian formulas from the New Testament:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:4-5.

There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6. The unity of the godhead.

According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:2. The three persons of the godhead

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 1 Corinthians 8:6. The unity of the godhead.

The word Trinity comes from tri meaning three and unity meaning one. There are three persons in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

Redemption

Christians are redeemed by Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus saves us from our sin and restores us into a right relationship with him by paying the price for our sins on the cross. This is entirely free through faith in Jesus as saviour. However, Muslims have to earn their salvation by hoping that their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds by the time they die.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

 

New Covenant

Through his death on the cross and the shedding of his blood, Jesus established a new covenant with mankind; a covenant of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Through this new covenant, the law of God is written on men’s hearts instead of tablets of stone. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as their saviour are no longer under the law, meaning that they will not be judged or punished for their sins. Because Muslims do not believe that Jesus is their God and saviour, they are not under the new covenant. Instead they are under the law.

“Behold the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

And the Holy Spirit bears witness to us; for after saying:
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering of sin.
Hebrews 10:15-18.

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:25.

 

Other Comparisons

The Garden of Eden

In Islam the Garden of Eden was not on the earth but in Christianity the Garden of Eden was on the earth.

In Islam there is no relationship between God (Allah) and man, except via the Spirit (Ruh) or Gabriel. However, in Christianity there is a direct and personal relationship between God and man. We see this in Genesis 3:8-9 where God is found to be walking and talking in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis we see that God limits himself by coming down to earth and walking in the garden and when he spoke to Adam and Eve he expected a response from them.

 

God

In Islam God is distant, transcendent, merciful to those who do his will and he is a master to be obeyed. His love is conditional. But in Christianity, God is personal, he is just and righteous. He has a personal and unique name, Yahweh. He is also known as Abba which means daddy in Greek. In Christianity, God loves unconditionally. He even loves his enemies.

 

Humanity

The relationship between man and God in Islam is one of slave to master. But in Christianity it is one of child to his father. If you are born into Islam you must remain a Muslim. The penalty for a Muslim who chooses to leave Islam is death. On the other hand, you are not born into Christianity; it’s a choice that you freely make In Christianity. You are made in God’s image.

 

Sin

In Islam there is no relationship with God. So, when Adam sinned there was no loss of relationship with God. In Islam, sin is simply a matter of breaking Allah’s law. It does not lead to corruption. However, in Christianity sin breaks the relationship between man and God. Sin separates us from God.

 

Atonement

In Islam the Just must not pay for the Unjust. In other words, one man cannot pay for the sins of another man. The consequence of sin is punishment alone. The shedding of blood does not bring forgiveness. The innocent cannot take the place of the guilty. Allah must not die. However, in Christianity atonement is fulfilled in Christ. The consequence of sin is death. Therefore, atonement is needed. Sin separates and atonement redeems. In Christianity the shedding of blood is needed. The atonement was achieved on the cross, where Jesus Christ, who was both man and God, died for our sins.

 

Revelation

In Islam the Qur’an was sent down in perfection. In Islam a prophet is one who is sent. But in Christianity revelation comes to us in a number of ways: General Revelation through nature, Special Revelation through the prophets, Personified Revelation – Jesus Christ, the Bible and Ongoing Revelation through the Holy Spirit.

 

Theocracy

Islam is theocratic which means that religion and state are mixed together. Islam is territorial and operates like a state. As a result, apostasy is seen as treason. On the other hand, Christians are sojourners and the Kingdom of God is in our hearts. The Kingdom of God is not of this world and the church should be separate from the state.

 

Prayer

In Islam, prayer is verbatim and memorized. It is one-way communication with no response from Allah. In Christianity prayer is two-way communication with God. It is freely expressed and comes in various forms such as praise, worship, thanksgiving and requests. And God responds.

 

Paradise

In Islam, paradise is a place of carnal delights. It is in a garden with a river of wine. Allah is absent from paradise. In Christianity, paradise is a God centred garden where our relationship with God is realised eternally.

 

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list of the differences between Christianity and Islam. But I hope I have provided enough information to demonstrate that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God and that the two religions are very different.

Suzanne Ashton