A Scriptural Comparison: The Teachings of Christianity vs. Islam
Many Christians have minimal knowledge of the teachings of Islam and find themselves unequipped to teach or dialogue with Muslims about their beliefs. One of the most frightening times in my life, as a Christian, was when I went to the elders and evangelist of the congregation I was attending, concerning questions about Islam and the Koran. I was living with two Muslims and the Bible and Christianity was constantly bashed. The leadership of my congregation could not answer my questions and it catapulted me to investigating the matters personally. It was a journey of trepidation and a quest for truth.
I am thankful to God because today when a Christian is confronted or confounded by the teachings of Islam, I can help them understand the position of the Koran from a biblical perspective. Without discussing the evolution of the Koran, clearly, no Muslim would argue against the fact that it is a book that speaks contrary to the deity, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Muslims and the Koran stand firm in the ideology that Christ was only a prophet; He did not die on the cross and is not the Son of God. In their view, God has no Son. The Koran also speaks of the spiritual destruction of the people of the book (Christians) for their belief in Christ as the Son of God.
The Koran was written during the time when the Catholic Church was on the rise. The Catholic Church is not the church Christ died for. Paul prophesied that the Catholic Church would arise and “doctrines of devils” would be the result (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Timothy 4:1-4). Leaders of the Catholic Church are aware that the teachings of Catholicism are false doctrine. The following is an excerpt from an address from the cardinals in the Roman Church to Pope Pius III, preserved in the National Library of Paris, folio No. 1068, Vol. 2, pp. 650-651:
- “Of all the advice that we can offer your holiness we must open your eyes well and use all possible force in the matter, namely, to permit the reading of the gospel as little as possible in all the countries under your jurisdiction. Let the very little part of the gospel suffice which is usually read in mass, and let no one be permitted to read more. So long as people will be content with the small amount, your interest will prosper; but as soon as the people want to read more, your interest will fail. The Bible is the book, which more than any other, has raised against us the tumults and tempests by which we have almost perished. In fact, if one compares the teaching of the Bible with what takes place in our churches, he will soon find discord, and will realize that our teachings are often different from the Bible, and oftener still, contrary to it.”
It is truly interesting to note that the Koran only addresses elements of the Catholic Church and says nothing about the true church of God. Man did not officially establish the Catholic Church until some 560 years after the church of Christ was preached into a physical existence by the Apostle Peter, in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47).
The Koran was written during a time of heavy Catholic influence and only addresses that religious system, as indicated by the following statement in the Koran (Surah 5:116):
- Surah 5:116 “And when Allah will say: O Isa [Jesus] son of Marium [Mary]! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah he will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Thy mind, surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things.”
Clearly, the Koran is addressing the customs of Catholicism in the above statement. The biblical writers never placed Mary in the position of being a god. The Bible simply supports Mary as the virgin vessel God selected to bring Christ miraculously into the world. How can the Koran be addressing the true Christian when it is arguing against a belief and practice that Christians also do not believe? It seems futile for the Koran to castigate Christians for a practice they do not uphold. Christians do not worship or pray to Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus. In Surah 5:116, what religious group or system is being addressed? Contextually, it would have to be the Catholic Church and not the church Christ purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). Does the Koran have anything to say to the true blood bought and redeemed Christian?
The Koran purports that Jesus Christ has no ties to the Godhead, as indicated in the following statement (Koran 5:72-73):
- Surah 5:72-73 “Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Marium [Mary]; and the Messiah said: O Children of Israel! Serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust. Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah is the third (person) of the three; and there is no god but the one God, and if they desist not from what they say, a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve.”
The above position is totally against biblical scripture. The Christian does not attribute Jesus and the Holy Spirit to God; God Himself does. In Hebrews 1:8, God literally refers to Jesus as God. The Koran indicates that fire awaits those who believe in the Godhead, but the following biblical passages reveal the divine relationship between God and Christ: (Colossians 2:8-12; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Matthew: 28:18-20):
- Colossians 2:8-12 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
- 1 Peter 3:18-22 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
- Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Christians have not fabricated the relationship between God and Christ, it is a biblical fact. In the three above passages we see that:
- The fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ.
- He is currently in heaven on the right hand of God.
- All power has been given to Him in heaven and earth.
The word trinity is not found in New Testament scripture, but the concept of “three” is clear. However, the Koranic language that is used appears to have been influenced by Catholicism, considering that it was written around the time when the Catholic Church was soaring. However, the Koran is refuting the fact of Christ being the Son of God. It promotes Jesus as a mere apostle and strongly speaks against the biblical account of the three manifestations of the One True God. The Koran denies that God has manifested Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the following statement (Koran 4:171):
- Surah 4:171 “O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa [Jesus] son of Marium [Mary] is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium [Mary] and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.”
The Word of God clearly refutes the position of the Koran. Again, maybe the Koran is not addressing the true Christian in Surah 4:171. No Christian has a problem admitting that they serve one God and that there is only one God. That is exactly what Christians believe. The Bible does not promote the belief of a three-god system in Christianity. The Bible simply illustrates that God has manifested Himself in three ways. It is difficult to understand why man has such difficulty understanding this reality about God. In our technologically advanced society we see three things in one all the time. I have one music system in my home, but it can play music through three mediums: AM/FM radio, cassette tape, or compact disc. Those three elements make up one complete system. Regardless of the medium the sound echoes from the same speakers because the three components are one. Who is man and woman to question and quiz God about His makeup, power, manifestation and presentation (Romans 9:20-21, 11:34)? Humans are made in the image of God and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God is not made in the image and after the likeness of man. Scientifically, water can be manifested in the form of ice, snow, mist and rain, but the four elements are still of one essence. Water!
The Bible does not use the word trinity but it does use the word three. God cannot be relegated to the barriers and limitations of the human mind. The inability of man to comprehend the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) does not make them fiction. God has manifested Himself in three ways, but He is still One God. The following biblical scriptures support this premise: (1 John 5:7-11; John 1-4, 14; Hebrews 1:7-9; 1 Timothy 3:16):
- 1 John 5:7-11 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
- John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
- John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
- Hebrews 1:7-9 “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
- 1 Timothy 3:16 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
The Bible clearly illustrates the three manifestations of the One True God. The five above passages reveals to the Bible reader that:
- The Father, Word and Spirit are one (1 John 5:7)
- The Word is Christ, the Word was God, was with God in the beginning and created everything (John 1:1-2)
- The Word became living flesh and dwelled among people (John 1:14)
- God called the Son (Jesus) God (Hebrews 1:8)
- God has been seen in the flesh (a physical Jesus), justified in the Spirit and resurrected to glory (1 Timothy 3:16).
The Koran assumes a bold position, stating that the Son of God is not deity, but was merely an earthly apostle. Many religious groups make this claim, but Christ has an address for people who take such a stance in Matthew 10:32-33. It will be scripturally impossible for the people who render Christ as a mere apostle to make it into heaven (Hebrews 6:4-6). Aside from the aforementioned verse in Surah 4:171, other statements in the Koran that speak to Christ only being a prophet are chronicled below:
- “The Messiah, son of Marium [Mary] is but an apostle; apostles before him have indeed passed away; and his mother was a truthful woman; they both used to eat food. See how We make the communications clear to them, then behold, how they are turned away.”
- Surah 9:30 “And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieve before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”
The Koran appears to suggest that it has cleared-up some false teachings about Christ. To whom is it speaking? When the Koran challenges the Sonship of Christ it is saying that the Bible is in error. Those who fail to believe on the Son will not see life and do not have life (John 3:36; 1 John 5:13). Man did not invent the concept of Christ as the Son of God, God revealed to Peter exactly who Christ was on earth and who He will forever be (Matthew 16:12-17):
- Matthew 16:12-17 “Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. When Jesus same into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven”
Christianity is hinged upon the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. I said, in a conversation with my cousin who is Muslim, “If you can convince me that Jesus did not die on the cross I would have no choice but to become a Muslim today.” If Jesus did not die on the cross and was not resurrected on the third day, as the Bible proves, there would be no such religion as Christianity (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). The Bible is honest enough to admit that without Christ there is no salvation and Christians are left in a miserable condition. However, the evidence of a living Christ is plastered throughout the Old and New Testament scriptures. The Old Testament spoke of a crucified Christ before His earthly arrival (Isaiah 53).
Not only do some believe that Jesus is not the Son of God, some also believe He never died on the cross. Apart from other departures from the faith, this is the true dividing line between the Muslim and Christian. The studying of Islam for the sake of divine guidance can truly come to an end when a person is convinced, through biblical investigation, that Jesus is the Son of God and died on the cross. The Koran is trying to disprove the Bible. They cannot both be right.
Although Christ had already been crucified, in Acts 8:30-31 the Ethiopian eunuch was reading about the details of the crucifixion of Christ in the Old Testament. The eunuch was reading a 740-year-old prophecy that had recently been fulfilled in his day. Keep in mind, the time when the eunuch was reading his Bible was approximately half a millennium before the Koran was written. But now the Koran says in Surah 4:155-158 that Jesus did not die on the cross. Between 740-697 B.C. Isaiah prophesied about the crucifixion of Christ, around 33 A.D. Christ was crucified, shortly thereafter the eunuch read about Christ and was baptized into Christ and then more than half a millennium later the Koran states Christ never died on the cross.
The account of the Koran is below:
- Surah 4:155-158 “Therefore, for their breaking their covenant and their disbelief in the communications of Allah and their killing the prophets wrongfully and their saying: Our hearts are covered; nay! Allah set a seal upon them owing to their unbelief, so they shall not believe except a few. And for their unbelief and for their having uttered against Marium [Mary] a grievous calumny. And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) [Like Jesus] and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.”
Muslims find support for their beliefs about Christ from various sources. There are too many to mention in this investigation, but Ataur-Rahim (1990) wrote in his book Jesus A Prophet Of Islam, “…We are told that at the time of the arrest, Judas was transformed by the Creator so that even his mother and his closest followers believed him to be Jesus” (p. 39). That is an odd position because the Bible details that Judas committed suicide as a result of his guilt of betraying Christ (Matthew 27:3-5). In the book, The Theology Of Time: The Secret of the Time (1997), Elijah Muhammad states that Christ was not crucified on the cross:
- “You follow Jesus. He was hung on a cross they say. He was not hung on the cross. Allah told me that he made a cross out of himself. He stretched forth his hands like that of a cross and let the deputy sheriff stab him to death very quickly through his heart. He didn’t die on the cross. The deputy sheriff that was sent out after him, he wanted to make a quick death of it, because he did not see where he was guilty of the crime laid against him. So he told him, If you let me kill you I will kill you so quick you’ll never feel it, then I’ll get twice the reward for you since you know you’re going to die and you came for that purpose. I will kill you so quick you will never feel it” (pp. 251-252).
He also stated that no one, including Christ, has ever risen from the dead.
- “We want to say to you that there is no such thing of anybody being put down in the ground and he return to that which we had taken him from. He came out of the earth, now we return him to the Earth. No one has ever seen one come out of the grave. You can say you dreamed something like that, but dreams are not always true. If Jesus has come back, none of us have met him yet and all the prophets of old died. The Creator of this Heaven and Earth, in which we live, he died” (pp. 277-278).
Several points are made in the above statements:
- Christ was not crucified on a cross
- Christ did not die on a cross
- Nobody has ever been raised from the dead
- Christ was not resurrected
All of the above statements are refuted in biblical scripture. The major problem that arises in the Muslim and Christian dialogue is the belief that Bible is infallible for the Christian and the belief of it being fallible in the mind of the Muslim. Paul said in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Hebrew writer said, “But without faith it is impossible to please him [God].” Paul also said in 1 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” If a person cannot believe in the Bible as the final revelation and Word of God, a biblical conversation would be useless. People who generally have these types of beliefs about the Bible hold some scriptures as truth and others as falsehood. All matters concerning God must be explained through the Bible and Peter said in 1 Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…”
The four biblical refutations found in The Theology Of Time and Jesus A Prophet Of Islam are in turn refuted by the following four points with biblical references:
- Christ was hung on a cross. If this was not the case, why did His persecutors mock Him? They said in Matthew 27:40, “…Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33 and John 19:23 all indicate that Jesus was crucified on a cross. The Bible also informs us that the mother of Jesus and her sister Mary stood by the cross of Jesus and watched the events unfold (John 19:25). Jesus did not make a cross with His hands, He was nailed to a wooden cross or plank.
- Christ also died while on the cross. In the gospel of John he said, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46 and Mark 15:37 also record the death of Christ on the cross.
- There is scriptural evidence that several humans were raised from the dead. It was stated that no one ever rose from the grave. Not only does the Bible mention that some people, even other than Christ, rose form the grave, Enoch never went into a grave because God took him (Genesis 5:23-24). If God can keep someone from the grave, surly, He can bring someone out of the grave. After the death of Christ the Bible tells us, “…Graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52-53). In Acts 9:36-43 the apostle Peter raised Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead. In John 11:43-44 Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Are the Muslim and Christian to believe that these accounts are fabrications, biblical heterodoxy, proof of Bible tampering or mere allegories or parables? God forbid! They are events that stand as signs today of Gods omnipotent power.
- Jesus Christ was resurrected. In John 10:18 Jesus said, “No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…” In John chapters 20 and 21 Christ arose from the grave and physically appeared before many.
The Bible unequivocally disproves the position of the Koran regarding the deity of Christ. Christ walked this earth as God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).
Readers and believers of the Koran fail to understand that salvation can only be found in Christ. Luke said, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head corner. Neither is there salvation in other: for there is none other name given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). The Koran fails to understand the power in the blood of Christ. Without the shedding of the blood of Christ the world is left in sin (Hebrews 9:22). The people who spiritually belong to God have been purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). Muhammad has no blood to save a soul.
The Koran fails to mention or explain the necessity of a salvation plan for humanity, inclusive of baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21). Through the grace and reconciliatory blood work of Christ, and faith, repentance, and baptism of the believer, humanity is washed for the remission of sins. Christ has washed away the sins of those who are now truthfully Christians (Acts 2:37-38; Ephesians 2:5-9). All who will be saved will have been baptized just as those who were saved in the flood of the Old Testament were inside the ark God commanded Noah to build (1 Peter 3:20-21). Individuals who come to Christ through faith, repentance, and baptism are are added to the church, which is the Kingdom of God (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born of water and the Spirit to see and enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5). The Koran fails to instruct a person how to be saved, based upon God’s divine law.
Lastly, after all is said and done, the Koran makes an all-inclusive statement about salvation that the Bible never purports. In Surah 2:62 the Koran says “Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.” Additionally in Surah 2:4-5 the Koran says, “And who believe in that which has been revealed to you and that which was revealed before you and they are sure of the hereafter. These are on a right course from their Lord and these it is that shall be successful.” Based upon these stated words, if you believe in your God, you can be saved eternally (inclusive of Jews and Christians). However, from a biblical perspective, salvation is only found in Christ. Jesus said “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
The Koran is a book that was written over a thousand years after Old Testament scripture and hundreds of years after New Testament scripture. The Koran attempts to refute many biblical points and teachings of Christ, but the Bible is Right.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
Ataur-Rahim, M. (1990). Jesus a prophet of Islam. Delhi, India: Taj Company.
Coffman, J. B. (1999). Theophilos: Multilingual application for bible & Christian study. Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press.
Dawood, N. J. (1974). The Koran. New York: Penguin Books.
Muhammad, E. (1997). The theology of time: The secret of the time. Atlanta: Sectarius Messenger of Elijah Muhammad Propagation Society.
Shakir, M. H. (Date Unknown). Holy Qur’an. New York: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an Inc.
Zodhiates, S. (1991). The Hebrew-Greek key study bible: King James version. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.