Is Christianity Comparable to Islam in Any Way?


Vying Worldviews

Future UnknownWhether for good or bad, but we, humans, are not given fully to understand or to know in every particular the future of the world or even our own personal destinies comprising it! Knowing the broad spiritual principles and having the sure prophecies of the Holy Bible, however, help us see the sweeping panorama of God’s plan for the planet and our place in it as well! If you consider yourself a spiritual person and have been searching for truth that gives freedom from the past, peace for the present and assurance for the coming days of the future, you may have discovered by now that the religious world is filled with numerous contradicting interpretative ideas and final-days scenarios.


In this somewhat chaotic environment, two religious giants tower above the rest of the world, overshadowing more than half of global population with their teachings, doctrines and predictions. They are: Islam and Christianity! Both are vigorously proselytizing to convert the world to their respective beliefs and ideologies. Both have some powerfully compelling views as to the future of our planet. Both are the fastest growing entities on the face of the Earth. Billions of sincere individuals comprising each of these two titanic religions view the adherents of another’s creed with suspicion and even hostility. People in both camps believe with their whole heart that the religion of another is false and will be overthrown by God at the End-time Judgment!


Both Islam and Christianity claim to be monotheistic faiths. Although hardly anyone would be able to deny this assertion on the part of Islam, Christianity’s belief in Trinity would really disqualify it as a monotheistic religion. For the sake of theological discussion, however, we will suppose that even “the three co-equal, co-eternal, and co-existent members of the heavenly Trio” could be termed as one god. This way we have one giant worshipping and obeying Allah; with another religious titan bowing down to the god called Trinity. Which religion has got it right?


Islam & Chr-nityOne of the most fascinating facts in this ongoing drama is that these two gargantuan religious groups are somewhat tied to Judaism as the root source of their “initial revelation,” drawing deeply on the imagery, truths, characters and theology of the Jewish people. Although borrowing heavily from the truths of the Jewish Scriptures and ethics, Islam has no qualms whatsoever in declaring that Muhammad is the last true prophet and that the faith of Islam is the only true way of life. Thus Muslims do not consider Judaism or the Hebrew Scriptures as binding on them in any way. Christianity, on the other hand, asserts that the scriptures of the New Testament are based squarely on the foundation of the “Old Testament” and that they develop its theological and apocalyptic ideas much more fully. The relationship of the Christian faith to its parent religion, therefore, is of utmost interest to those who are determined to find out the truth of the matter! Let us then ask a serious question: “What does the Hebrew Bible tell us about the future?” What is the central concept of the truly Living Word of God? Who is the True God according to His own Word? Through one of His chosen prophetic vessels, Jeremiah, the LORD gives us a broad spiritual principle and a clear glimpse of what will be transpiring in the future.


Jeremiah 16


First, the passage in consideration establishes the context for the prophecy: “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.” (Jeremiah 16:14-15) – This prophecy saw the very beginning of its fulfillment when some of the exiled Jews began trickling back to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian realm. It continue to be realized when the State of Israel was finally created in 1948, after almost 2000 years of the longest Jewish exile among the Gentiles of the Earth. It will find its final fulfillment when all Israel dwells securely in their own Promised Land, under the leadership of the Messiah of Israel!

Listen to what the prophet states next: O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.” Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods?” (vv.19-20) – Verse 19 starts by calling the One True God by His proper Name “LORD.” The all-capitalized “LORD” stands for “YHWH” in Hebrew. This sacred Name separates the God of Israel from any and every other deity. He alone is the Living God and the Creator of all things. While praising the Holy One of Israel King David exclaims: “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” (I Chronicles 16:25-26, Ps. 96:5) – In accordance with the Word of God, He happens to be the only God out there in the Universe!


Zechariah 8


Notice how seamlessly the words of David flow with those of Jeremiah! They must have been actuated by the same Spirit! While King David declares that the gods and deities of other peoples are mere idols, the Prophet Jeremiah points out the fact that at the close of time the Gentiles will begin streaming to the people of Israel and their God, whose Name is the LORD! The profession of faith that the Gentiles make in that passage is properly astounding: “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.” (Jer. 16:19) – If I may, I would also like to adduce the testimony of another biblical prophet. In his apocalyptic vision, Zechariah proclaims: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’” (Zech. 8:23) - I firmly believe that these prophecies encompass all the adherents of Islam as well as Christianity. It applies to all religions that profess god(s) other than the LORD God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob! Where do you stand today? Who is your god? Is his Name Allah, Trinity or something else? Where is your information coming from? Will it be you confessing that you have inherited lies from your parents? I hope not!

Particular Monotheism


moses at the burning bushI must admit, though, that in Arabic the title “Allah” means “the Most High” or “the Almighty,” which brings my Muslim friends much closer to the truth of One God than their Christian counterparts who profess the faith in some triune pantheon of gods! However, as we stated earlier in some other reflections, the question is not primarily and exclusively concerning monotheism per se. The proper Biblical monotheism is not general but very, very particular. The greatest self-revelation of God is recorded in the Book of Exodus 3. Three times in that chapter, the LORD identifies Himself by the Name of “God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob.” He then emphatically declares that this is His Name forever! “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” (Exodus 3:14-15)


Later on the LORD concludes a special covenant with the people Israel and restates His sacred Name to them: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:1-2) – That is why the central expression of Jewish faith is summed up in the “Shema” prayer, recorded in the last book that Moses composed just before his death: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:4) – Which religion today can profess to love, obey and worship this very God? Is He found in Islam? Is there any trace left of Him in Christianity? Where do you belong?

Jews and Jesus Christ


I am sure that many of you may put forth a “powerful” counterargument by saying that since the Jews have rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah they have been abandoned by God, whereas the Christianity has now become His chosen vessel to proclaim the Good News of His salvation to the ends of the Earth. This is exactly what I used to believe and proclaim myself, by the way! Beliefs such as this one are a result of our ignorance of history and theology. Allow me to explain!


Prior to the 4th century CE, many God-fearing Jews were still coming to faith in Yeshua as the Promised Messiah of Israel! “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) - What did it mean to those Jews to profess Jesus as Christ (Messiah)? As we all know, the Greek word “Christ” is the equivalent of Hebrew “Messiah.” For a Jewish worshipper of One God to accept Jesus as the Messiah of Israel meant that he had now come to believe that the Living LORD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had provided a Perfect Sacrificial Lamb for the expiation of Israel’s sins and the sins of all who would accept this fact by faith! Before the Gentile people began pouring into the fold of the Messianic Jews, all his followers were either Jews or the converts to Judaism from the neighboring nations.

All the initial adherents to this path, be they the twelve disciples handpicked by Jesus himself, the 70 emissaries that he commissioned to preach the news of the Kingdom of Heaven, the three thousand that were baptized on the day of Pentecost, and many others, were staunch monotheists and professed no other God beside the Holy One of Jacob! They were called the “adherents of the Way” or “Messianic Jews.” They kept all the Law of the Almighty, worshipped Him on the Sabbath, ate kosher food, and kept His Holy Festivals.

jesus and peopleIt is very important to understand, therefore, that the goal of the Messiah of Israel was not to paganize his people by changing the LORD’s ways and His Law as we see it embodied in the Church today: Sunday instead of Sabbath, pork, shrimp and other unclean food instead of God’s requirements for keeping it kosher; triune deity of trinity instead of One God of Israel; rejection of circumcision instead of viewing it as a sign of covenant with God, etc. The LORD set Israel aside for a special purpose of making His Name known to the rest of the world. Speaking about the Commandments that God gave to Israel, Moses comments: “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deut. 4:5-6) – Why would God give to His covenantal people something that made them truly wise and understanding just to cancel and change it completely after a short period of time? Does that make any sense to you?


Even the Apostle Paul defends himself by appealing to his strictly monotheistic faith of a Pharisee, who were famous for their scrupulous observance of the LORD’s Commandments: “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” . . . But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” (Acts 23:1,6) – Unlike the Christian Church today, its theological founder, the Apostle Paul, was not preaching a three-headed god, but stood firmly by his people’s faith in the Glory of Israel! The resurrection of the dead, which he cites as his belief before this council, had been a well-accepted tenet within Judaism for a long time already. At that time there was neither any need for accepting Jesus as the Second Person of the “Most Blessed Trinity,” or any other preposterous belief of that nature. They were all concocted much later by the Greek-speaking Church.


Jesus the Messiah . . .


In fact, the burden of the early disciples’ preaching was to prove from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus was indeed the Promised Messiah: “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Messiah).” (Acts 5:42)- After his conversion to Messianic Judaism, Saul began showing to others that Jesus was indeed the Messiah: “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).” (Acts 9:22) – Later on we find him occupied with the same task: “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).” (Acts 18:5) Apollos is seen doing the same thing: “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. . . and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).” (Acts 18:24,28)


Nicaea 325 CE


Council of NicaeaThe rift between the Messianic Judaism and the Gentile Church became total sometime in the 4th century CE. The First Ecumenical Church Council of Nicaea (325 CE), which convened under the aegis of the first Christian Emperor of Rome, Constantine the Great, made decisions and put forth resolutions that took the Church in a completely separate direction from the rest of Messianic Judaism. When the doctrines of Trinity, Sunday worship and many others became official dogmas of the Church, the Jewish monotheists had no other choice but to stick with the One Living God of the Bible, embracing Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. The separation was complete and irrevocable. Since that moment, Christianity ceased to be part of Judaism and began evolving into what we see around ourselves today. The almost ceaseless pogroms, persecutions and the Inquisition of the Church against the Jewish People only served further to solidify the notion that the perpetrators of those crimes did not possess the truth or followed the true Messiah.

So, whose religious views are more congruent with the Bible? Who is totally wrong today? Is it the Jews who have not embraced the views of those who have been killing and hating them through the past two millennia or the perpetrators of those crimes? Are the Jews, who do not profess their faith in Jesus but who worship One God of the Bible, more in the wrong than Christians, who although embracing Jesus as the Second Person of the divine pantheon, totally reject the One Living God of the Bible both in their theology and practice? Do you remember the passages we cited above, the ones from Jeremiah 16 and Zechariah 8? If the Bible is any indicator of the future events, it will be the Gentile nations that will come to Israel and her God with their heads hung lowly, confessing that they have inherited lies and would like to learn from the God’s monotheists about Him and His truth! What are your sources of belief and practice? Where do you belong today? The Holy One of Israel welcomes all who love Him and embrace His truth to join with the monotheist of Israel in declaring that He has provided a Lamb. Worship the Great Provider!

The True Mission


My heart is burdened today for my Christian brothers and sisters, who sincerely believe that they possess the truth and therefore have to convert everybody to their interpretations of the Bible, all the while being completely in the dark nevertheless! The focal point of a biblical mission is not to bring the world to the Lamb of God, - that would be tantamount to leaving them at the altar of sacrifice of the Tabernacle of Meeting! The goal of our mission is to bring the entire world into the most intimate relationship with the One and Only Living God, the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no Savior.” (Isaiah 43:10-11) – That was the mission of every genuine prophet of YHWH. That was the mission of Israel’s Messiah. That is the mission of all true monotheists on the face of the Earth today, both the Jewish people and their Messianic brothers. What are your marching orders?


Conclusion:


If Jesus is a founder of a new religion, he then is no different from Confucius, Buddha, Zarathustra, and, yes, Muhammad! If the Church that we see around us today is what Jesus intended to establish, then our earlier comparison between Islam and Christianity stands true. Just like Mohammad created an entirely new religion of Islam, so did Jesus of Nazareth create an entirely new faith of Christianity. Just as Islam has its own god, a set of holy texts, traditions and practices, so does Christianity have its own god of Trinity, a new set of scriptures seemingly contradictory to the earlier Hebrew revelation, different traditions, practices, etc.


Jesus the RabbiI believe, however, that as a loyal son of his people Israel, a devoted worshiper of One God of Jacob, a faithful Jewish rabbi, and the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus’ mission was to bring his people Israel and the rest of the world back into the most intimate fellowship with our Creator, - the Holy One of Israel! The Bible proves this point by letting us know that at the end of time, God’s mission will be accomplished not through those who worship some new and strange gods unknown to the Jewish people, but by the faithful monotheists of the One God of Israel! Whose mission do you fulfill? Is it the mission of the Messiah of Israel or the Church?
Shalom!