Friday, July 06, 2007

Irreconcilable Differences

I'd like you to meet Anne Holmes Redding of Seattle. Redding has been an Episcopal priest for twenty years, but now on Friday nights, she puts on a black head scarf and heads down to Seattle’s Al-Islam Center where she joins in prayer with her fellow Muslims. Ms. Redding became a Muslim as a result of an “introduction to Islamic prayers [that] left her profoundly moved.” As she told the Seattle Times, “I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I’m both an American of African descent and a woman. I’m 100 percent both.” So while on Friday nights she puts on a black head scarf, on Sunday mornings she wears a clerical collar. Ms. Redding doesn’t deny that there are differences between Christianity and Islam – she simply does not think that they ultimately matter. Redding rejects the Christian doctrine about Christ’s divinity. But she still believes that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, which Islam rejects. As she put it, “at the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I need"

Compatible? Well, both Islam and Christianity are theistic faiths (belief in only one, supreme Being), but then the waters start to get muddy pretty quick when you move on to the areas of who Jesus is, the plan of salvation, the nature of man, and what happens when you die (you know, the small stuff).

Focusing on one key item, how can Redding call herself a Christian and yet deny the core doctrine of Christ's divinity? For Muslims, this is perfectly OK, but for real born again believers in Christ? At first blush, Islam seems to affirm a lot of what the Bible says about Jesus, including the following:

  • Jesus was born of a virgin (sura 3:47, 19:27-28)
  • Jesus is proclaimed to be the Christ/Messiah (sura 3:45)
  • Jesus is confirmed to be righteous (sura 6:85)
  • Jesus was sinless (sura 3:46)
  • Jesus performed miracles (sura 3:49)
  • Jesus had disciples (sura 3:52-53, 5:111-118)
  • Jesus was sent with a gospel (sura 5:46)
  • Jesus’ words should be believed (sura 4:171)
  • Jesus was taken into Heaven by God (sura 4:156-159)
  • Jesus will have a second and visible coming to the earth (sura 3:55)

But then, digging deeper, we find these claims about Christ in the Koran:

  • Jesus was not crucified on a cross (sura 4:157)
  • Jesus did not die (sura 4:156-159)
  • Jesus was not resurrected (implied from prior point)
  • Jesus prophesied the coming of Muhammad (sura 61:6)
  • Jesus was just one of the prophets (sura 2:136, 5:75)
  • Jesus should not be worshipped (sura 5:116)
  • Jesus was not the Son of God (sura 19:35, 4:171)

Any knowledgeable Christian will immediately see the contradictions with what is declared in the New Testament concerning Jesus. Further, Islam believes that Jesus will come again, but he will marry, have children, die like everyone else, and be judged by Allah. Again, not the picture the Bible paints of Jesus.

If you want to be a Muslim, God has given you the freedom to choose that path. But please don't try and say that Islam and Christianity are the same or that the differences don't matter.

Whenever I see things like this, I'm always reminded that apostasy rarely if evers outright denies God's truth, but just distorts it so that it appears palatable to many. Just as R.C. Lensky, a pastor, theologian and commentator has said, “The worst forms of wickedness consist of perversions of the truth”

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