Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, October 09, 2009

    Islam and Christianity Comparison

    Quick Comparison between Christianity and Islam

    Islam –Qur’an is the inspired word of God and supercedes all previous revelations. The Bible has been corrupted along with Christian doctrines.

    Christianity – The Bible is inspired by God and has been preserved and propagated by him. Scripture is able to make man wise unto salvation. The Quran is not of divine origin and is not only filled with contradictions and inconsistencies but leads man astray from God and the gift of his righteousness.

    Nature of God
    Islam – God is absolutely and indivisibly one, beyond being, extremely transcendent, absolute divine will without essence or nature, sovereign, capricious, impersonal (basically unknowable), deterministic and divorced from His creation.

    Christianity - God is Triune (one God in three persons, not three gods); with divine being, essence and will, which consists of all holiness (goodness, righteousness, truth); transcendent but knowable, exercises ultimate authority provides for and recognizes human agency and responsibility, and involved with His creation.

    Nature of Creation and Humanity:
    Islam – Both are created by God, but discrepancy exists regarding the length of creation and contradiction exists as to whether angels can sin and whether or not man is superior to angels. Humans are not sinful and have no fallen nature, nor are they born with a sinful nature, but are fallible, weak imperfect and forgetful and in basic need of guidance. Man’s fall was not so much the result from a sinful act but a result from being imperfect and needy (as well as God’s vice-regent on earth.) Humans are born innocent and remain so until they incur guilt by their deeds. Most Muslim scholars reject the belief that sin is inherited.

    Christianity – Both are created by God. Humans were made in the image of God, but have fallen into a state of sin through disobedience. Sin is both passed down and personally committed. Because of man’s sin and sinfulness, he cannot please God apart from a mediator and redeemer.

    Purpose of Man
    Islam – Man is God’s representative and servant on earth. The purpose of man is not to know God or be conformed to his character, but to understand his will and become more obedient to his commands. (Taken from Answering Islam by Geisler & Saleeb)
    Christianity – Man’s purpose is to glorify and enjoy God forever. This involves knowing God, repenting of sin, and serving him as a son rather than simply like a servant.

    Nature of Sin
    Islam – Sin is lack of obedience to Allah. Man is sinful by act only, not by nature.

    Christianity – Sin is any want of or transgression of the law of God. Sin corrupts and affects man’s nature and standing before God.

    Islam – Salvation on one level is not needed since man is not in a predicament where he himself cannot achieve the favor and blessings of God. On another level, the Muslim must earn his salvation. sure and favor of God for himself.

    Christianity – Salvation cannot be earned or merited but comes as a gift from God who Himself (in the person of Jesus Christ) atoned for man’s sin and provides for his redemption.

    Person and Work of Jesus
    Islam – Jesus, a human being was a great and sinless prophet but was not the Son of God. Jesus was superseded by Muhammad who was the last and greatest of the prophets. Muslims do not believe Jesus died on the cross (some believe Judas was crucified in his place, others believe he was on the cross but did not die).

    Christianity – Jesus is the incarnate Son of God and Savior of sinners. Jesus provides salvation through his substitutionary righteousness and atonement through the cross of Calvary. Jesus was vindicated as God’s Son and the promised Messiah through his resurrection from the death. Jesus’ accomplishment was sufficient for man’s salvation and accepted by God.

    After Death
    Islam – There is an eternal paradise for those who believe in Islam. Infidels, those who reject Islam, will experience eternal hell.
    Christianity – There will be a judgment of all. Those who have received redemption and reconciliation through Jesus Christ will go to heaven (with God as their great reward along with the pleasures of the new heavens and earth). Those who are guilty of sin which has not be atoned for by Christ will experience hell forever.
    Assurance of Salvation
    Islam – Short of becoming a martyr in jihad, salvation is never certain since it is based on a works system and ultimately the will of Allah.

    Christianity – Since salvation has been accomplished and is secured by God, the believer may know through faith that he has eternal life.

    Conclusion: Best summarized by Josh McDowell and John Stewart (Handbook of Today’s Religions) who write “Islam rejects the key doctrines of the Christian faith – the Trinity, the deity of Christ, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and the sin of man and his salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ.”
    Steven Neill (Christian Faith and Other Faiths) also speaks to the issue well stating “It is perfectly true that the central concern of Jesus was with the kingdom of God. But everything depends on the meaning that is put into the word ‘God.” Here is perhaps the very heart of our differences. Islam conceives the possible relationship of man to God in one way, and the Gospel in another.

    While God was the exclusive source of the revelation to Muhammad, God himself is not the content of the revelation. Revelation in Islamic theology does not mean God disclosing himself. It is revelation from God, not revelation of God. God is remote. He is inscrutable and utterly inaccessible to human knowledge… Even though we are his creatures whose every breath is dependent upon him, it is not in inter-personal relationship with him that we receive guidance from him.
    At this central point the teaching of Jesus diverges from what the Muslim believes to be the essential prophetic witness. His God [the Christian] is a God who cares for his creatures, who is prepared to enter into fellowship with them, and is concerned that they should love him in response to his love. Under the law, man was in the position of a slave; now under the Gospel he is called to freedom, to the freedom of grown-up sons in their Father’s house. The Qur’an never uses the word ‘Father’ of God. Jesus taught his disciples to address him as ‘Our Father.’ The whole of the Gospel is summed up in these two words.”


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