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How Should Christians Respond to Islam?

In response to a recent web article entitled: “The Biggest Struggle Currently Facing Christianity”, one reader who identified himself as Andrew Jones from the UK said: “Our biggest issue is our response to Islam.” With all of the news hitting mainstream press avenues over recent months, and a US Congressional investigation under way regarding the recruiting of radical Muslims in the United States even the Gallup polling organization has begun monitoring this area. Recent Gallup polls indicate that 52% of Americans say congressional hearings in this area are appropriate.

Christianity still holds a substantial lead over Islam in terms of the number of adherents, with Christianity having over 2 billion members, compared to 1.6 billion Muslims. While there is a fair amount of controversy related to the growth rate among the two religions it is unlikely that Islam will eclipse Christianity any time soon. Still, the growth in Muslim populations in most countries and the fact that it is the world’s second-largest religion make it reasonable to reflect for a moment on how Christians should respond to the message of Islam as it is encountered in our daily lives.

Certainly there are a number of widely differing views on this matter. Groups such as ReligiousTolerance.org espouse a position of compatibility, blaming any discrepancies on conservative factions of both religions.

However, for Christians the most important question, to reiterate a popular and very over-used euphemism, is “What would Jesus do?”

Christianity holds a number of cardinal tenets of the faith to be doctrinally sacrosanct. Among them are these:

  1. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, a co-equal member of the Holy Trinity comprised God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Islam does not recognize the Holy Trinity.
  2. The only path to salvation and eternal life in heaven with God is the recognition and admission of sin, and the acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. There is no other path to heaven. Jesus Christ made salvation available to His followers through his crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. There is no other path to heaven. Islam teaches that Jesus is a Prophet and a servant of God. Muhammad is also a Prophet and a servant of God. He was the last Prophet sent by God to guide and teach mankind. Islam regards Mohammed to be the most prominent prophet of the bunch. Islam teaches that Christ was neither crucified nor killed by the Jews, although circumstances produced that illusion in the minds of some, and that Jesus was taken up to God before He died on the cross.
  3. There is only one God, and one mediator between God and Man, and that is Jesus Christ. Islam does not recognize a Christ-based atonement. Muslims believe that each person is responsible for his or her own actions and that no one else can atone for them. However, you can pray to God for His mercy and forgiveness on behalf of another person. The Prophet Muhammad and some are given the special privilege to intercede on behalf of their parents on the Day of Judgment.

For a more detailed description of Islam’s views in these areas, you might want to take a look at this website. However, I should warn you before you go there that this site either deliberately or mistakenly misrepresents Christianity badly in some areas.

The upshot of this is that Christianity and Islam represent vastly different views of who God is, of how human beings can gain access to God and to heaven, and – well – just about every element of paramount importance to the Christian world view. Probably the most important aspect is that Islam does not regard Jesus as God. The Bible is very clear about this, as can be seen in Matthew 1:23, Lue 1:31, Luke 1:35, and John 1: 1-3.

The Bible warns many times of apostasy – false prophets, and false teachers. 2 Peter 2:1 tells us: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”

The Bible tells us very clearly that it contains the entirety of the Word of God, and that anyone who comes along claiming to be another prophet and attempts to add or take away from the message of the Bible is to be condemned (Revelation 22: 16-19): “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (I’m not seeing anything here that says: “Unless your name is Mohammed.”)

When confronted with false teachings, it seems to me that the Bible indicates four specific actions that we should take:

  1. The Bible says that it’s important that Christians are able to show why we believe what we believe. 1 Peter 3:15 makes that crystal clear: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you for a reason for the hope that is in you….”.
  2. The Bible indicates we should test the teachings and preaching that we encounter to see whether it is genuine or it is false doctrine. 1 John 4:1 says: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
  3. The Bible also says that it’s important to reject the nonsense being promoted by the “politically correct” crowd who want to accept “many paths to God”, and co-equal God-ship of God with any false God. 1 Corinthians 6:3 says: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?”
  4. The Bible says that when we have discerned that a false doctrine is being taught, we should sharply rebuke the teacher if he is a Christian who has fallen away from the truth. The Bible is emphatic about this in several texts, including Jude 1:4, Titus 1:13, and 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word, be instant in season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” However, in cases where the false teacher is not a Christian, the Bible seems to me to indicate that two courses of action are possible:
    1. Don’t rebuke the non-believer, but reason with them instead (This would seem to be indicated by Proverbs 9:8, which says: “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”
    2. Rebuke the false teacher, call him names, and embarrass him publically. There are many New Testament examples of this, including Matthew 23 (Where Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites and murders), Acts Chapter 2 (Where Peter called people murders), and Acts 7 (Where Stephen called the people murderers.) In these cases, I notice that the people called out publically were committing overt and sinful acts.

    The conclusion I reach when reading these two different approaches is that when the false teaching is not causing immediate and physical harm, it should be faced with strong, reasoned, and scripturally based disagreement but not with name calling and public humiliation (the Proverbs 9:8 approach) in order that the false teacher and/or his target audience may be caused to see the truth. But in those cases where false teaching is leading people to take action causing immediate physical harm (such as murder or “jihad”), it must be confronted vigorously and resisted to the strongest possible extent.

Those are my thoughts in this topic, and I would be very interested in the thoughts of others.

What do you think?

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