Many Christians ignorantly claim that Christians and Muslims actually worship the same God. This statement is echoed by Political leaders who try to appease everyone with these kind of statements. But is "the Christian" God the same as "the Islamic" God?
The argument that all religions are essentially the same except in their ideas about god, heaven, hell, redemption, damnation, sin, holiness, and ultimate destiny highlights that all religion are not the same. Among the world's most popular religions two have emerged as the leading contenders for the hearts and minds of the globe- Islam and Christianity.
Christianity and Islam both share a belief that a society's religious worldview is the determining factor for the type of society it will be. Both religions highly value the concept of community. Both religions are "theistic".
1. RELIGIOUS WORLDVIEW IS THE DETERMINING FACTOR FOR A SOCIETY:
While we say that this is common ground for both religions, there are some serious differences in what these worldviews look like. For Christians this is carried out with the understanding that conversion to Christ is a personal and voluntary decision whereby the convert undergoes a spiritual regeneration which renews their heart and mind. For the Muslim, conversion to Islam is a matter of submission to their Prophet and their Allah by a simple verbal statement to this affect. Despite this one reference in the Qur'an:
[2.256] There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
This conversion can be done by a decree of a nation's leaders which binds all of that nation's population to Islamic law and leaves those who refuse to convert under "dhimmitude". Christianity has no equivalent either practically or philosophically to the Muslim concept of dhimmitude.
2. THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY
Community is extremely important to both Islam and Christianity. But when someone chooses to leave the Christian community they are free to leave and free to return. But when someone leaves the Islamic community by converting to another religion the Qur'an requires that they be physically punished.
3. THE CONCEPT OF GOD
Christians worship a Monotheistic God, whereas Muslims worship a Monolithic God, or a "monad" concept of deity. Muslims accuse Christians of Polytheism claiming that Christians worship a Trinity of Gods- "God the Father", "God the Son- Jesus", and "The Mother of God- Mary".
The Allah of the Qur'an seems to cause people to err (be deceived)-
[4.88] What is the matter with you, then, that you have become two parties about the hypocrites, while Allah has made them return (to unbelief) for what they have earned? Do you wish to guide him whom Allah has caused to err? And whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall by no means find a way for him.
[4.143] Wavering between that (and this), (belonging) neither to these nor to those; and whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall not find a way for him
[6.39] And they who reject Our communications are deaf and dumb, in utter darkness; whom Allah pleases He causes to err and whom He pleases He puts on the right way.
[6.125] Therefore (for) whomsoever Allah intends that He would guide him aright, He expands his breast for Islam, and (for) whomsoever He intends that He should cause him to err, He makes his breast strait and narrow as though he were ascending upwards; thus does Allah lay uncleanness on those who do not believe.
[7.186] Whomsoever Allah causes to err, there is no guide for him; and He leaves them alone in their inordinacy, blindly wandering on.
[13.33] Is He then Who watches every soul as to what it earns? And yet they give associates to Allah! Say: Give them a name; nay, do you mean to inform Him of what He does not know in the earth, or (do you affirm this) by an outward saying? Rather, their plans are made to appear fair-seeming to those who disbelieve, and they are kept back from the path; and whom Allah makes err, he shall have no guide.
Central to the teaching of the Qur'an about the Messiah is that he did not die on the Cross. This is an abhorrent concept to a Muslim. But the Cross is the central claim of the Christian Gospel.
The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out.
1Corinthians 1:18 THE MESSAGE BIBLE
For the Christian, the Cross of Christ is the triumph of God's grace and the only means for our sins to be justly dealt with. Both grace and atonement are however foreign concepts to a Muslim. This is no mere fork-in-the-road departure between Christian and Islamic theologies, the concepts of an Almighty Supreme Being who forgives sin on the basis of the sacrificial death of His eternal Son or an Almighty Supreme Being who can only guarantee Paradise if you die in Ji'had are two completely different highways!
Dr. Andrew Corbett
© Andrew Corbett, September 21st 2006, Legana, Tasmania, Australia