RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Christianity and Islam differ significantly in their core beliefs, according to Rudy Gonzalez, Tal Davis and N.S.R.K. Ravi of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board’s interfaith evangelism team.
Among the key differences:
Historical Christianity: There is one true and living God, who exists as three distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Deut. 6:4; John 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2).
Islam: The one true God is a being called Allah. He is a distant god, unknowable and unapproachable. He does not love all people, only those who do well. He is the author of evil as well as good since he predestines all things. He is not a triune god.
Christianity: He is the virgin-born Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:13-23; Luke 1:35). He is the eternal God, the Creator, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit (John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 1:1-13). Jesus died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), rose physically from the dead (Matt. 12:38-40; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:4-8; 1 Peter 1:18-21) and is coming back physically and visibly one day (Matt. 24:29-31; John 14:3; Titus 2:13; Rev. 19:11-14).
Islam: He is one of God’s prophets or messengers, but inferior to Muhammad, who brought Allah’s final revelations to man. The Koran denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and any Muslim who believes in the deity of Jesus has committed “the one unforgivable sin” called shirk — a sin that will send that person to hell. Muslims do believe Jesus is the Messiah; was born of a virgin; lived a sinless life; and is coming back one day to establish Islam throughout the earth. They do not believe He died on the cross, but was called to heaven by Allah.
Christianity: Christ’s death at Calvary completely paid our sin debt so that salvation comes by grace alone through faith in the person and work of Jesus (John 3:16, 5:24; Rom. 4:4-5; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; 1 John 1:7).
Islam: The Koran teaches, “The true religion with God is Islam.” This means salvation is achieved only through submission to the teachings of Islam. Forgiveness is based on good works and Allah’s choice of mercy. The Muslim’s chances for heaven are good if he 1) accepts the Muslim god Allah and his apostle Mohammad; 2) does good works and all that is required of him by Allah; and 3) is predestined to Allah’s favor.
Christianity: The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God, and is His sole written authority for all people (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
Islam: Corrupted and untrustworthy. Islam claims the Koran is the literal Word of God, received supernaturally by Muhammad from the angel Gabriel. It supersedes the Bible, which also was given by Allah.
Christianity: Violation of God’s perfect and holy standards. All humans are sinners (Rom. 3:10) and are under the curse of sin — spiritual and physical death (Gen. 2:17, 3:17-19; Rom. 3:23). Only faith in Christ and His work on our behalf frees us from sin and its consequences (John 3:16, 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9).
Islam: Sin is lack of obedience to Allah. Man is sinful by act only, not by nature. Original sin is viewed as a “lapse” by Adam. Man is not really “fallen” in his sin nature; he is merely weak and forgetful. The most serious sin is that of shirk, or considering God as more than one, for example, as triune.
HEAVEN AND HELL
Christianity: Hell is a place of everlasting conscious existence, where the unbeliever is forever separated from God (Matt. 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 14:9-11, 20:10). As for heaven, all believers have God’s promise of a home in heaven, will go there instantly upon physical death, and will return with Christ from heaven to earth one day (Luke 16:19-31; John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:8; Rev. 19:11-16).
Islam: Muslims believe in heaven and hell. Allah predetermines the eternal destiny of each person, and the hope of salvation for the Muslim is based on works, although no Muslim has the absolute assurance of heaven. Islam teaches its followers to prepare for the day of judgment in which each person’s good and evil works will be measured, resulting in everlasting life in heaven or in hell.