Friday, January 29, 2010

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 2

The absolute oneness of Allah is primary to Muslims. The greatest sin is to associate any partner with him. The sin is called shirk. Muhammad’s message, advocating one God, was courageous, because idolatry was the established religion of Arabia. Muhammad challenged this system, and finally prevailed with the message of monotheism. Islam is rooted in this commitment to the belief in one God.

The Bible teaches that God is one, but His is a complex unity, not just a simple unit. He is completely unique---a personal God Who existed in relationship from eternity.

In Islam, Allah is transcendent and cannot be compared to humans or any other created thing. Allah’s character and attributes are revealed through his 99 Arabic names, the two most common being “The Merciful” and “The Compassionate.” Allah is never described in Islam by using human family terms such as “father” or “son.” In the Qur’an, he reveals his will for mankind to obey, not his person for mankind to relate with and know.

In the Bible, which is the Christian’s authority, the Scriptures reveal God as the ultimate Father, in name, character, and person, but always as the Creator, never with sexual references. God is called “Father” in a spiritual sense, not in a literal, biological sense. God also reveals Himself as the Eternal Word, Who became flesh when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary and conceived Jesus, the Messiah, Who is also called the Son of God in the Bible. In His teaching, Jesus further reveals God the Holy Spirit, Who was sent by the Father and Himself. The Bible presents a mystery of three Persons revealed as one God. Although the world “Trinity” is not in the Bible (just as the word tawhid, which means the unity of God, is not in the Qur’an), the term captures biblical truths about God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God, not just three parts of God or three names for the same person. Not a council of gods, but a supreme, unique Being Who is different from (and above) every creature, Who exists as a tri-unity of Persons. God exists as one Being Who is three Persons. People do not exist in this way; only God exists in this way.

In Islam, Allah creates and sustains all life, spiritual and material. His will is absolute and cannot be questioned by his creation. He is the final judge, without a mediator. The best chance on Judgment Day is for those who live lives of righteousness and submission to Allah’s will---Insha Allah (God willing).

The Bible says, “God is Love.” This love existed from eternity as the Father loved the Son, even before the foundation of the world. God’s love is expressed through creation. God does not simply choose to love; His love chooses to act. “God so loved the world that He gave His Son…” (John 3:16)

Most Muslims consider Christians to be polytheists (people who believe in many gods) because of the Trinity. A popular misunderstanding of the Trinity is that Christians believe that a Father God had sex with a Mother God (Mary) to produce their “Son of God.” No Christian believes this. Educated Muslims understand this false Trinity is not what Christians believe, but they still do not understand how the math can show God’s unity. To them, it is simple: 1+1+1=3; Father + Son + Holy Spirit = Three Gods. But this is not what Christians believe, either.

Rather than using an analogy of adding units (1+1+1=3), the Trinity has been explained as multiplied wholeness (1x1x1=1). The Bible says Jesus is the eternal “Word of God” revealed in flesh through the virgin birth. The Qur’an sets apart Jesus as the “Word of God” and “Spirit of God” and affirms His virgin birth and miracles, even raising the dead. Muslims also believe in the Second Coming of Jesus, because the “day of his return” is mentioned in the Qur’an. Muslims like to point out how the Qur’an honors Jesus. Yet, such positive references to Jesus in the Qur’an are few, compared to the complete story of Jesus preserved by God in the Injil (New Testament).


(Most of this information is from "Islam & Christianity," Rose Publishing)

8 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

'The Bible teaches that God is one, but His is a complex unity, not just a simple unit. He is completely unique---a personal God Who existed in relationship from eternity.'

Yes in a timeless state, and not in any type of linear time where there would be the problem of vicious regress as in if God always had an eternal relationship in time past God would never arrive at the present. There is a similar problem faced by those that postulate that the universe and time is eternal and by those that reason there is a eternal regression of gods, as in a god causes a god and there is no first god, or a choice causes a choice with there never being a first choice and nature as cause.

God simply is and is simply relational.

God did not have to reason out in time in eternity what to do but simply knew as a relational infinite being.

I do not pretend to completely comprehend it but too many evangelicals fall into the trap of putting God in a vicious regress.

As well, when I read of God's decrees in Calvinism, one must be careful not to state that in eternity God decreed one thing in time before another. No, God willed all things as God in eternity, as he is, they did not take place in the mind of God in time, although he can will that they take place in time in our reality.

Cheers, Jeff.

Jeff said...

thekingpin68,

Yes in a timeless state, and not in any type of linear time where there would be the problem of vicious regress as in if God always had an eternal relationship in time past God would never arrive at the present.

I have wondered what being outside of time would be like. We measure time with watches and clocks, by the hours of the day, and by day and night, as well as months and years. This comes from the orbit of the moon around the earth, and the orbit of the earth around the sun. If there were no planets or stars, then, at least according to our current means of measuring time, there would be no way to measure time. So, does 'being outside of time' merely mean that there is no way to measure time? If there are no stars or planets to measure time by, then, presumably, time would not exist. If there is no day and night, or tides, etc., then there would be no time. So, is that what time consists of? I can only speculate.

As well, when I read of God's decrees in Calvinism, one must be careful not to state that in eternity God decreed one thing in time before another.

From my speculation above, there could still be consecutive events, though the only way to measure their consecutiveness would be to put them in order, as far as which happened first, second, etc. So, can there be an order of events outside of time? Your comment seems to say 'no,' but I can only speculate. Or, maybe you are just saying that it is incorrect to say that God decreed one thing in time before another, because there would be no "in time," since time did not exist before the creation of the universe. This I would most certainly agree with. Obviously, since none of us has experienced being outside of time, or existing from eternity past, we can only postulate, speculate, theorize and guess, rather than fully comprehend these things.

And, when it comes to being unlimited by space, and being outside of space, that, to me, is even more difficult to understand, because, being creatures of physical matter, we occupy space, and can only be in one place at a time. To be omnipresent is something that I cannot fully comprehend.

As always, thank you for your comments, Russ.

Jeff said...

Time is also measured by growth, aging, decay and death. So, if there were also no growth, aging, decay or death, along with no stars or planets, then, consequently (at least the way I see it), there would be no time.

thekingpin68 said...

Yes, as stated I do not have full understanding. As noted on my latest on thekingpin68 I reason there will be some type of time in paradise for human sake. As well I reason there will be some type of time in the Kingdom of God. Yes, consecutive events seems to imply time, if not indicate. In his eternal being God relates all things within himself and thus is relational outside of time.

My post now has four questions.

Nitewrit said...

God created time for man (Genesis 1). Time is a limitation placed upon man in our present state. God is not limited. Time to us today acts as a reference point. An earthly man builds most of his life around this reference point, thus we also limit ourselves constantly. Time can also be seen as a limited chance. If one wins the lottery they have one year to claim the prize. if they ignore the limitation, they lose the prize. We have so much time to accept a relationship with God, if our time expires we lose all relationship.

At some point God will end time as a limitation on man. For those who have that relationship, then the reference point becomes God and that is all that is needed. Time no longer exists.

For those who did not grasp the relationship with God time will also be nonexistant, but there will be no relationship to God. It is hard to image an existance with no reference point whatsoever except that of just existing.

"In Islam, Allah creates and sustains all life, spiritual and material. His will is absolute and cannot be questioned by his creation. He is the final judge, without a mediator. The best chance on Judgment Day is for those who live lives of righteousness and submission to Allah’s will---Insha Allah (God willing)."

So Islam becomes like every religion other that Christianity in which salvation depends on the human gaining perfection by effort, in which we all fail to achieve by a large margin.

Jeff said...

thekingpin68,

Yes, as stated I do not have full understanding. As noted on my latest on thekingpin68 I reason there will be some type of time in paradise for human sake. As well I reason there will be some type of time in the Kingdom of God. Yes, consecutive events seems to imply time, if not indicate. In his eternal being God relates all things within himself and thus is relational outside of time.

Yeah, I think all we can do is speculate on what 'being outside of time' is.

My post now has four questions.

I'll drop by soon.

Thanks, Russ.

Jeff said...

Nitewrit,

God created time for man (Genesis 1). Time is a limitation placed upon man in our present state. God is not limited. Time to us today acts as a reference point. An earthly man builds most of his life around this reference point, thus we also limit ourselves constantly. Time can also be seen as a limited chance. If one wins the lottery they have one year to claim the prize. if they ignore the limitation, they lose the prize. We have so much time to accept a relationship with God, if our time expires we lose all relationship.

At some point God will end time as a limitation on man. For those who have that relationship, then the reference point becomes God and that is all that is needed. Time no longer exists.

For those who did not grasp the relationship with God time will also be nonexistant, but there will be no relationship to God. It is hard to image an existance with no reference point whatsoever except that of just existing.


Very good points.

So Islam becomes like every religion other that Christianity in which salvation depends on the human gaining perfection by effort, in which we all fail to achieve by a large margin.

Exactly.

There is one difference, however, which was not mentioned. There is apparently a guarantee of salvation if a Muslim dies in an act of jihad. This is how Islamic terrorists can blow themselves (and others) up as suicide bombers, because 72 virgins await them. Interestingly, however, no mention is made of rewards in paradise for females in the Qur'an (and it does not specify where those 72 virgins come from). Of course, females are treated more like things to be owned, or pets, in Islam. They are forced to wear the hijab, and are punished if they do not wear it or do not wear it properly. They are regularly beaten, and men are encouraged to beat their wives, from the Qur'an. And, if a black dog, a donkey, or a female passes in front of a Muslim man when he is praying, his prayers are annulled---so women are then equivalent to black dogs and donkeys. These things being the case, it is then no wonder that nothing is said about rewards for females in the Qur'an. In fact, Muhammad said he saw mostly women in Hell.

Thanks, Larry.

Jeff said...

Larry,

So Islam becomes like every religion other that Christianity in which salvation depends on the human gaining perfection by effort, in which we all fail to achieve by a large margin.

I have heard it said that, even if your deeds are exemplary, it depends largely on how 'merciful' Allah is feeling that day, as to whether he lets you into his paradise or not. So, apparently, salvation depends on Allah's mood at the time.