Quran, sura 21:25-29 “Every messenger we sent before you was instructed to preach that there is no god except Me; you shall worship Me alone. Then they said, ‘God most gracious has begotten a son. ‘Glory be to Him; all the messengers are no more than honored servants. They do not speak on their own; they simply follow His commands. He knows their past and their future, and they possess no power to intercede except on behalf of those already approved by God. The messengers themselves are worried about their own fate. And, if any of them claims to be a god beside God, we will punish him in hell; we thus punish the wicked.”
The above sura from the Quran (Koran), might be the definitive difference between Christianity and Islam (Submission). In Christianity, Jesus, the Christ, (the Anointed), is given a status as God, and an identity almost identical with God the Father. In the Bible, Jesus, the Son, does not claim to be a messenger, but rather claims divinity. While, there is a fundamental mystery about the relationship between the Father and Son, how both can be God, and how God can be one, Jesus clearly makes a distinction between the Father and Himself in some references and declares unity with the Father in others (The father and I are one.)
- John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word became 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.15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'”16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Other verses qualify the distinction between the Father and Son more clearly. But, the Bible, in Jesus’ own words clearly declares that Jesus is the Way. He is to be followed, He is to be recognized as the God-man.
- John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.4 “And where I go you know, and the way you know.”5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.14 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever;17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.20 “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.28 “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.31 “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.
The Quran states that Muhammad was a messenger, the vehicle through which the Quran was given. But, since the time of Muhammad, much Islamic tradition has placed Muhammad as a god-man. But in fact the Quran states exactly the opposite as seen above in Sura 21:25-29. The Quran is said to have been dictated to Mohammad by the angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years. The Hadith & Sunna are auxilary works which are the words and actions of Muhammad. At least one Islamic scholar, Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D. in his book, “Quran, Hadith, and Islam” makes this clear distinction between the purportedly “divine” book of the Quran, and the secular, historical, human accounts of Mohammad in the Hadith and Sunna. Dr. Khalifa supports his thesis through the Quran itself that Muhammad was the messenger, not God; that he was a fallible and imperfect man whose life was not the perfect pattern for humanity. Dr. Kalifa wished to make the point that Muhammad was not to be worshiped, he was not divine, and could not operate in the spiritual realm to intercede for the Islamic believer.
Dr. Khalifa correctly brings Muhammad down to his proper place of being only human, but he errs in his declaration that Jesus is likewise human The Quran declares that none are divine except the one God, just as the Bible declares that none other are divine except God and Jesus. This conflict will never be resolved on the level of agreement. The two religions hold mutually exclusive declarations of Truth. As a result, little can be done except to coexist peacefully or use various forms of apologetics, reason, and witness to attempt to convince and enroll the followers of the opposing religion.
Coexisting peacefully with Quranic Islam should present little difficulty. But, several Militant Islamic sects have formed under the inspiration of various Islamic philosophers (e.g. Muhammad Wahhabe, c. 1792). The Quran on its surface appears to be a religion of peace and good will toward one’s fellow man. The Quran has verses which command tolerance of other religions until attacked. But, the Quran also clearly states that unbelievers (Christians and Jews – people of the Book) will go to hell. The Quran, of course, places itself as the final revelation and superior to the Old Testament of Abraham and the New Testament of Jesus. Such self-elevating status is common to almost all religions.
The question is then, what is the actual value and effect of being a Muslim? (Note: the meaning of the word Muslim is: “one who practices submission to God”; and the word Islam means “submission to God”.) It appears that when practiced in its pure Quranic form, that Islam, minus the Hadith and Sunnas, is fairly benign. Its practitioners attempt to worship the one true God in their own way, following the precepts of their scripture. If Islam retained only these beneficent patterns, it would take its place in the spectrum of human religions as simply another alternative religion.
The central deficiency of a Quran-based Islam is its lack of a divine intercessor. Many religions place their prophet, messenger, founder in the position of Intercessor between God and man. But such an exalted role appears hollow when we note that every prophet has died, leaving his body in the ground. The one exception to this rule is Jesus the Christ. He claimed to be God, and the Son of God. Jesus claimed that his sacrifice enabled entrance into the presence of the God Most High, His Father.
Christianity provides the opportunity to call on a Savior with true power and authority in both Heaven and on Earth. Therein lies the fundamental distinction between Quranic Islam and Biblical Christianity. Jesus/The Son/The Word created the entire manifest universe. He was born into it. He lived a perfect sinless life (a life without violation of God’s Law and walked perfectly as the Father directed Him). He was wrongfully accused of capital offense, tortured, crucified, and died. God’s power, and Jesus’ own righteousness under the Law of God raised up Jesus to physical life. He later translated His body and spirit into Heaven. As a true spiritual master, as the creator of the universe, as the Son of God, as the one and only God-man, who suffered unrighteously at the hands of those who sought to torture and kill Him, Jesus can take authority over the death sentence on our lives. We are all condemned by our violation of God’s perfect Law.
Each person must decide whether the claims of Christ are true. If the promises of Christ are true, then the Christian has power over hell simply by appropriating the Free gift of God that is available through Jesus. If the claims are false, the religion is of little value. But the comparison between Islam and Christianity is clear. Christianity offers the possibility of restoring a relationship with God that was broken by sin. Jesus as the mediator functions as a buffer between a perfectly loving, and perfectly lawful God. Such a function truly is necessary for free will to exist in this universe. If the most high God cannot tolerate, see, or participate in evil, then every man must have an advocate before a perfect God. The Quran makes statements of self-declared authenticity, accuracy, and final revelation, but even if this were true, the practitioner is left only with a set of rules about life and relationship with God which must be maintained by practicing many rules. The method of attaining a sufficiently perfect life to enter into an eternity with God remains unclear, other than to follow all the rules.
As a point of comparison, Jesus lived a perfect sinless life, fulfilled 400 prophecies from the Old Testament, He performed miracles, including raising the dead, and rising from the dead.
Muhammad, The Prophet, on the other hand, was simply a man. He had 22 wives including a young girl (accounts vary, but it appears that she was between 6 and 9 years old). In this, he violated his own Qur’an which allows 4 wives. There are scholars and doubters who have made a great study of this subject and have elaborated many charges to challenge his divinity. The validity of such accusations of humanity, fallibility, and mortality are heartily disputed or rationalized by those who follow the Islamic religion. Every man wishes to believe that his conceptualization of God is valid and that he has chosen the correct path to fellowship and unity with the one True God. In fact, God has given each person the ability to hear and know the voice of the Holy Spirit who witnesses to the Truth. Each man will be accountable and stand alone. We must each take our opportunity and responsibility to determine the truth seriously. There is value in sincerity, but greater value in Truth.