At a recent conference, one of the attendees reported on a trip to a local mosque. There the imam told the group, “As Muslims, we agree with 90% of what you Christians believe, except for the 10% part about who Jesus is.” Is this imam telling the truth?
A comparison of worldviews:
The Reformed missiologist Hendrik Kraemer advised that picking and choosing while looking for commonalities between religions was a very unwise approach. He used the word ‘totalitarian’ to suggest that each religion is a totality of all of its beliefs and that all of its beliefs must be examined as a whole. Thus, for instance, to take the idea of submission in Islam and to suggest that it has a parallel term in Christianity is tantalizing at first. Both talk about a willingness to submit to authority and thus some have suggested that the concepts are close, if not the same. However, in the consideration of a wider worldview, one must ask:
- what is the source of this submission?
- to whom does one submit?
- why does one submit?
- how does one submit?
- what is the hope imbedded in the one who does the submission?
Quickly it is evident that in Christianity submission comes from the example of a perfectly obedient Son to his loving heavenly Father and from the willing obedience of Christ’s Church to the One who was willing to purchase her with His own blood. Both cases find their source in the nature of the Triune God. Out of this flows the idea of loving submission of the subjects of Christ to their Master, of mutual submission in the Church, and of submission within the home.
It is also evident that Islamic submission has its origin in a deity who has been described as a solitary monad who is all about sheer power and sheer will. It is this despot who demands that his subjects bow the knee, and they do so as an act of sheer will with the hope that somehow this despot will look kindly on them.
Can we agree with the imam?
In the example above, the comprehensive Islamic worldview demonstrates that although it might share a common term of ‘submission’ with Christianity, from start to finish, the meanings are radically different. Perhaps it would have been more honest for the imam to say, “we share many common terms, but at their core, we see them entirely differently.”
Cautions for Christians
Listen to the following verbatim statements that have been made by people calling themselves Christians. At first flush, a few of them appear innocuous, while the informed reader might suggest that others are pure heresy. Each one of them must be examined in the light of the totality of the Islamic worldview, especially as found in the Qur’an, the Islamic traditions, and the biography of Muhammad, as well as Islamic devotional literature. Not only that, they must be examined by means of a thoroughly Biblical view of other religions.
…God of the Bible and the God of Islam are one and the same
…the Qur’an honors Jesus more than it does Muhammad
…Muhammad did a lot of good things to rid Arabia of the abuse of women, infanticide and other social evils
…Islam has a lot of teachings that are very close to the Sermon on the Mount
…you can call Muhammad a prophet in the biblical sense
…if you follow the teaching of Muhammad you will arrive at Christ
…the Quran, the Torah (books of Moses), the Zabur (the Psalms), and the Injil (the Gospels) all form one Gospel.
…if a Muslim is serious in his/her religion, God will accept them
How would you respond to these statements?