There are four major areas of conflict between Muslim theology and Christianity relating to the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man, the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of Scripture. According to the Koran, God created man in order to serve Him. There is a Master to servant relationship between God and man, which does not invite intimacy.
In contrast, Christianity invites individuals to call God, Father. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matt. 6:9) The Christian can be even more intimate with God, and call him Papa. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Rom. 8:15-16)
According to the Koran, though God created Adam and Eve to serve Him, they did sin. Nevertheless, in grace, throughout history, God sent prophets to guide individuals to the straight path of worshipping one God, and doing good deeds while living for the Day of Judgment. The story of the Fall in the Koran, is similar to the story of the Fall in the Bible.
“And We said, “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.
But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, “Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time.
Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.”(Sura 2:35)
Though created in a state of Paradise, Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise to earth. Adam sinned, God forgave Him, and then Adam became the first Prophet. A Prophet, in the Islamic faith is more pure and righteous, than an ordinary man.
The important point, is that the sin of Adam had no consequence for his posterity. The Fall is seen as a continuous manifestation of evil, or simply, disobedience to God’s will. Adam’s disobedience was due to ignorance, and weakness of will.
In the Bible, Adam knew what he was doing, he deliberately ate of the forbidden fruit, and he strongly willed to do wrong. In Islam, there is no original sin passed on to others, so that individuals are not born physically alive, but spiritually dead, even though the Bible teaches this concept. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Rom. 5:12)
In Islam, men are not sinful by nature. Men are weak willed, arrogant, ungrateful, but he is not essentially Fallen, or sinful. People are born innocent. Every individual makes themselves guilty by a deed which is blameworthy. Islam does not believe in original sin.
The practical consequence of this is that the Muslim does not want to be told he is a sinner in need of salvation. In this, the Muslim finds harmony with the thinking of many in the Western world ,where people think they are innately good. Individuals do not want to be told they are weak, fallen creatures, in need of help.
Islam pretends to give dignity to individuals by telling them to raise themselves up, and live as God intended them to live. Individuals can do it. They can take responsibility for themselves, and clean up their society.
There are two major schools of theological thinking within Christianity that would applaud the Islamic view of man’s self-dignity, worth, and ability. There is the Pelagian School of Thought. There is the Semi-Pelagian School of Thought.
In contrast to Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and Islam and their view of man’s innate goodness, dignity, worth, and ability, is the Augustinian School of Thought, which teaches just the opposite. The Bible does not teach that Fallen man is noble, dignified, and able to please God.
The Bible says that man by nature is a sinner who does not do good and does not seek after God. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10-12)
Pelagianism, along with Islam, denies Original Sin. The monk, Pelagius, took the position that Adam’s sin affected Adam, and only Adam. His sin did not have the power to distort the basic composition in man. The Muslims agrees, and rejects the doctrine of Original Sin.
In the Church, the teaching of Pelagius was condemned, and deemed heretic. In the 16th century the error of Pelagius was resurrected in the Socinian controversy, and again in the 19th century with the rise of Charles Finney. Socinianism refers to a system of doctrine named for the Italian, Fausto Sozzini (1539 -1604), who ministered in Poland in the Minor Reformed Church. He rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of Original Sin, and the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. The propitiatory view of the atonement was also rejected. God’s omniscience was limited to what was a necessary truth in the future, or what would definitely happen, and did not apply to what might happen. This view was embraced in order to protect man’s free will. In all of these points, the theology of Islam is comfortable.
Islam believes that man is born innocent but is corrupted by society. That of course begs the question, for how did society become so corrupt? Why is all of humanity blameworthy? “Because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, is the Biblical answer.
The fundamental problem in wrestling with the dark side of man is a distorted view of God. Humans look at other humans and free justified with exalting in their self-esteem. But then, such individuals fail to look at the majesty and holiness of God, and compare themselves to Him. If they did, they would cry out, “I am an unclean person, and I dwell in the midst of unclean people.”
In contrast to man’s uncleanness, is the holiness of God. However, in the entire Koran, the quality of God being holy is only mentioned twice. In the Bible, the text of Isaiah 6:3 mentions God’s holiness more times than in all the Koran. This is significant.
When this facet of the character of God is diminished, the personal standard of holiness, and righteousness, is diminished with it. This is what the Muslims do. They believe their god, Allah, tells them to kill infidels, including women, and children. Their god is a blood thirty god, whose appetite for human violence is never abated. As a result, a devout Muslim who engages in Jihad, can exalt himself as a superior person who is devoted to Allah. Such Muslims address themselves as nothing less than demi-gods.
The Bible teaches that those who will judge themselves by themselves are not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12)
The Muslim that would be wise, and righteous, must bow to the Lordship of Christ, who taught His followers, saying, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:44-45)
Though the Muslim does not believe there is anything to be redeemed from, the Christian must continue to faithful by proclaiming the truth of the ruin of man by the fall, the redemption of man by Christ, and the regeneration of the heart by the Holy Spirit.
The Christian message is in violent conflict with the message of the Muslim faith. Nevertheless, let God be true and every man a liar that opposes God’s truth. (Rom. 3:4)
In the end, the conflict will be settled by God Himself as the mouths of the false witnesses are silenced, and a new heart is given to those who are the heirs of salvation.
Muslims like to teach that God has revealed His will, and that is enough. The Bible teaches that God has revealed His will and His character and that is important ,for God’s character is one of kindness, mercy, and holiness. “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) is the royal command, and the will of God, based on the character of God.
It is important to remember that we do not all believe in the same God. The god, Allah, is different from the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who is holy, just, and good. In the person of Jesus Christ, God has manifested Himself in the flesh in order to be the Savior of those who, by faith, embrace His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. We plead with our Muslim friends to come to Christ. Lay down your weapons of warfare against Christians. Love Jesus. Love the brethren. Be honest about your own sinful nature. Ask for a new heart, and forgiveness of sin.