The Three Most Shocking Beliefs of Islam

Title: The Three Most Shocking Beliefs of Islam

Text: Philippians 2:6-8, Revelation 22:18-19, Romans 1:16-17

Time: July 25th, 2012

 

In our modern secular world it’s fashionable to view all religions as the same, essentially. More and more people today consider all religions doing, or attempting to do, more or less the same thing – comprehending ultimate reality.  So then differences between religions are minimized in the contemporary world. But in reality it is impossible to seriously believe that all religions are the same once we start to compare them point-by-point. Once we scratch below the surface, we quickly realize that they teach many radically different things. For example, most people in the West, most Christians, would be shocked to find out what Islam really believes, because the common misconception is that Muslims believe essentially the same thing Christians do, except they follow Mohammed and the Koran. Yes, Islam teaches there is one God and acknowledges many of the same prophets and holy men as Jews and Christians, and accepts many of the Bible stories. But Muslims put all of these together different in their religion. I’m aware that it’s not “politically correct” to criticize another person’s religion, especially Islam post-911, but if we don’t scratch below the surface and find out what Muslims really believe then we’ll remain forever ignorant and limit ourselves to superficial comments that don’t get at the truth of things. Tolerance doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge differences between religions; it means we recognize the profound differences between different beliefs, yet respect the people of different faiths. Pointing out differences in doctrine and practice between religions – and even criticizing false teachings found in different religions – doesn’t mean we harbor hate in our hearts towards others. It may simply mean we want to get at the truth. One of the reasons why many contemporary citizens of the modern world don’t like to debate or discussion different religions is because they don’t believe there are any absolute spiritual truths. If no religion is speaking the real truth – or in other words, that which corresponds to reality – then there’s no reason to argue over different religious beliefs. This is essentially what philosophers call “post-modern thinking” – that there are no absolute spiritual or moral truths. In the post-modern atmosphere it’s easy to see why people wouldn’t want to engage in a fruitless discussion about religious truth, when they don’t believe there really is any truth in religion. But as Christians we can’t subscribe to post-modernism’s skepticism towards truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” John 14:6. Christianity affirms truth, which is why we Christians must be able to point out the errors in other religions. Today, I’d like to point out the three most shocking false teachings in Islam.

 

First Shocking Belief of Islam — Muslims believe that Mohammed is greater than Jesus. Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Among other things, Christianity teaches that God came to the earth in human flesh in Jesus Christ. In Christian theology, this is known as the Incarnation. Now in Islam, strangely enough, there isn’t as much talk about Jesus as there is about the so-called prophet Mohammed. The great saying among Muslims is, “There is one God and Mohammed is his prophet.” In terms of importance, Mohammed is looked upon with more respect and honor than Jesus Christ. This is the first most shocking belief of Islam – that it exalts the man Mohammed above Jesus the Christ. Now Muslims acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, just as they recognize some of the Old Testament heroes such as Abraham, Moses, and so forth. But they give him none of the honor that Christians give him as Savior, Lord, Incarnate Word and Messiah, for example. In other words, in Islam, prophets speak for God and Mohammed is the last and greatest prophet of God. So in the configuration of Islamic religion the so-called prophet Mohammed is greater than Jesus Christ. To a Christian this is blasphemy. It’s an insult to the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It’s robs God of his glorious appearing on earth in Jesus Christ to exalt a mere human, the so-called prophet Mohammed, above God himself. Most people don’t realize how Islam actually belittles Jesus and assigns him merely a place among the prophets, not even the most important prophet, which is reserved for Mohammed alone. This then is the greatest difference between Christianity and Islam – how both faiths treat the person of Jesus Christ. For Christianity, Jesus is at the very center of our faith; for Islam, Jesus is merely one of many prophets around the periphery, with Mohammed central to God’s plan on earth. Because Muslims don’t accept the Incarnation, they misunderstand the mission of Jesus Christ. Because they think he only came to do a minor thing – like reveal a few more spiritual truths – when they compare him with their so-called prophet Mohammed, they find Jesus less attractive. When in reality, Jesus as Savior and Lord, stands far above Mohammed, who is quite inferior in every way. Like the passage says, ““Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Jesus is exalted now far above any mere mortal man. Until Islam gets the identity and work of Jesus Christ correct, it will forever exalt its so-called human prophet Mohammed, and go only as far as he can go, which is to say, not very far indeed.

 

Second Shocking Belief of Islam — Muslims believe the Koran is superior to the Bible. Revelation 22:18-19, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plague described in this book. And if anyone takes away words from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the true of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Now this passage is found in the last book of the Bible at the end of the New Testament in the Book of Revelation, but it’s warning applies to the entire biblical revelation starting with Genesis. Now when we look at the Koran – the collection of the writings of the so-called Muslim prophet Mohammed, we see that it does exactly what the Bible warns about: it adds to and subtracts from Holy Scripture to produce its own counterfeit scripture, the Koran. But even in doing so it ends up in futility, because, like the little known Western Medieval Emperor quoted by Pope Benedict XVI in his know famous controversial remark on Islam, asked, “What real and essential thing did Mohammed contribute to religion that didn’t already exist?” When we stop and ponder that question we realize that Mohammed and his Koran have contributed nothing essential to man’s understanding and relationship with God. The Koran is merely a rehashing of spiritual teachings that had already been taught, and much better, by others in other times and places. But Islam places the teachings of the Koran ahead of the teachings found in the Bible. In fact, Muslims criticize the Bible as being corrupt, while exalting Mohammed for giving the pure Word of God found in the Koran. But again, we must ask the question as before, “What real and essential thing did Mohammed contribute to religion that didn’t already exist?” The Koran isn’t unique like the Jewish Old Testament was in its teaching on monotheism; the Jews were already teaching the world monotheism long before Islam came along. The Koran certainly isn’t unique like in the Christian New Testament of the Bible in introducing to the world any advancement or progress in its understanding and comprehension of God. The Christian teaching on the Incarnation of God and salvation through his atoning sacrifice on the cross by faith is certainly progress, but there’s nothing like it in the Koran. In fact, the Koran reads like the mish-mash of borrowed truths from many religions that it is – it comes across dry and boring, actually, as far as inspired writings go. So how can Muslims view the Koran as superior than the Bible? Probably because it’s all they know, because if they were read the Bible and then go back to the Koran, they’d see how very little it contributes to a greater understanding or comprehension of God than already exists outside of Islam. They’d come to see the Koran as inferior to the Bible in every way.

 

Third Shocking Belief of Islam – Muslims believe in salvation by works. Romans 1:16-17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” In typical legalistic fashion Islam is a religion of works. The God of Islam, Allah, requires submission to his will, requires obedience to divine law, in order for man to obtain salvation. This is nothing really new because this is the standard operating system of all religions other than Christianity. In the verse above we see the Apostle Paul stating again – he states it over and over, for example in the Book of Romans, in the Book of Galatians, and elsewhere – salvation in by faith alone in Christ alone, apart from obedience to law and works. Islam, on the other hand, requires obedience to the will of Allah in order to be saved. This is not shocking to most people in the world because it’s standard religion across the board, but it’s shocking to Christians and those raised with a biblical understanding of gospel and grace. In Islam, there is very little grace or real mercy from God. It’s basically, if you do right, do what God wants, you’re saved. But if you don’t obey divine law, if you fail to live up to the will of God, you’re damned. The word Islam means “submission,” and the idea of submission is very much at the heart of the Muslim faith. God is described as an absolute ruler with power to crush his enemies or opponents. So in Islam, you’d better bow to God’s power, conform to his will, or you too will be crushed and destroyed, if not in this life, in the next. Now Jews and especially Christians also have a high and powerful view of God, but it’s tempered with grace and mercy found particularly in Jesus Christ. But in Islam there is none of the Christian seasoning of grace and mercy. Islam is submission, and boy you had better submit or die! It’s even reflected in how Muslims have advanced their religion over the centuries, often by the sword, often by force. I’m not claiming that none of this ever appears in Christianity. Sadly it has, but it isn’t in keeping with the message of the New Testament and doesn’t represent a true and accurate representation of the Christian God or the Christian faith. But in Islam, conquering by violent force does represent the kind of God Muslims worship. He takes people by force more than by love. One is saved in Islam by submitting to God more than by trusting or loving God; it’s the reverse in Christianity.

 

I’ve tried to outline three of the most shocking beliefs found in the religion of Islam. These beliefs may not seem shocking to some people who aren’t familiar with Christianity, but for Christians it’s very shocking and disturbing to know that in Islam, close to a billion people, put Mohammed above Jesus Christ in importance. It’s also shocking to realize that the Koran, with its hodge-podge collection of religious scribbles, is elevated above the Bible in importance by these same billion Muslims. Finally, it’s shocking to understand that nearly a billion people on the planet earth have an understanding of God that makes them cringe rather than rejoice in him. Muslims submit to the will of Allah, not so much out of love but out of fear, because they believe that if they don’t he’ll crush them, if not in this life, but certainly in the next. That’s miles away from the grace and mercy of Jesus found in Christianity. Yes, the biblical God of Jews and Christians is powerful and has a divine will. The Christian God calls us to obedience to his will. But the means or method of obtaining conformity to that will is different in Christianity than it is in Islam. In the New Testament, in Christian teachings, God woos us by love from the cross of Christ to follow him. As Christians we are drawn to God through the love of Christ on the cross who suffered and died for our salvation. God wants obedience, but he goes through the method or means of love to obtain it from believers. In Islam it’s much more straightforward – conform to the will of Allah or be destroyed, be crushed. Decide. The Islamic God’s use of power inspires his followers to use the same technique in making converts or building an Islamic empire. Hence, the natural use of force and violence before patient dialogue and discussion is the approach of the Islamic world. Now I don’t want to press this point too far, because, of course, it doesn’t apply to all Muslims and the whole Islamic world. But it is a reality in Islam that comes from the Muslim understanding of God. We in the West take the message of Christian grace and faith for salvation for granted. We don’t understand or realize that most religions of the world don’t operate on the basis of grace and mercy. The teachings of Jesus are not studied and followed in most religions. But in Christianity, Jesus is the center of our faith. One historian has observed that Christianity is for all practical purpose a “personality cult” – centered on the person of Jesus Christ. He’s right. We take the teachings and influence of Jesus for granted in the Christian West, but we shouldn’t. We fail to understand how unique we are in Christianity in having a balance of God’s justice with God’s love. This kind of balance isn’t found in Islam, and it’s shocking.

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