Jesus, Islam, and False Advertising

A new Islamic advertising campaign in Sydney will seek to convince non-Muslims that Jesus is a messenger of Islam. In today’s press we find this story: “Christians in Sydney will have their core beliefs challenged by provocative advertisements due to appear on billboards and buses in the next month.

“The ads, paid for by an Islamic group called MyPeace, will carry slogans such as ‘Jesus: a prophet of Islam’, ‘Holy Quran: the final testament’ and ‘Muhammad: mercy to mankind’. A phone number urges people to call to receive a free Koran and other Islamic literature.

“The organiser of MyPeace, Diaa Mohamed, said the campaign was intended to educate non-Muslims about Islam. He said Jesus was a prophet of Islam, who was to come before Muhammad. ‘The only difference is we say he was a prophet of God, and they say he is God,’ Mr Mohamed said. ‘Is it thought-provoking? Yes, it is. We want to raise awareness that Islam believes in Jesus Christ,’ he said.

“Mr Mohamed said he hoped the billboards would encourage Christians and Muslims to find common ground. They were not intended to downgrade the significance of Jesus. ‘We embrace him and say that he was one of the mightiest prophets of God.’ MyPeace plans to extend the campaign, funded by private donations, to television.”

Talk about truth in advertising, or the lack thereof. This is a deliberate and malicious assault on the core teachings of Christianity. Indeed, at the very heart of Christianity is the belief that Jesus is God, and is the unique and sole way to becoming restored to the Father.

Imagine the uproar if Christians took out ads on buses and TV saying something like this: “Muhammad: a false prophet”. There would be blood on the streets. Simply try running an ad in a Muslim-majority country seeking to state the truth of Christianity. It simply would not happen.

Indeed, do you think Saudi Arabia would allow such billboards in order to “encourage Christians and Muslims to find common ground”? Of course not. The truth is, they see no common ground. They regard Islam as the final and full revelation of God, and they regard the Christian Scriptures as being corrupted.

Muslims believe that the Koran annuls all of these previous revelations. They see the Koran as the final, perfect, and universal message of God. And they believe that any conflicts between the Bible and the Koran are due to tahrif, that is, Jewish and Christian alterations and corruptions of the Biblical text.

It is hard to find “common ground” with Muslims given how they view Christianity and the Bible. And it is certainly difficult to find common ground with Muslims given how they understand the central figure of Christianity. So just how does Jesus stack up in these two religions? In Islam Christ is indeed revered as a prophet. In fact, he is seen as one of many prophets.

Islamic tradition states that there are 124,000 prophets, while the Koran mentions some 28 prophets by name (or perhaps 25, depending on how we read and understand the Koran). Islam also believes that these prophets are sinless (although there is debate as to how exactly we are to understand that).

While Jesus is mentioned around 97 times in the Koran, his divinity is vigorously denied. He was a mere man, only a messenger of Allah created by God. He was born of the virgin Mary, performed some miracles, and yet disclaimed any divine honours.

Since it was unjust for the innocent and sinless Christ to die a criminal’s death, an “appearance” or a substitute was crucified on the cross, while Christ ascended to heaven where He now occupies an inferior station. One day He will return as one of Muhammed’s caliphs to help establish Islam as the world’s one true religion. He will break the cross and destroy all religions except Islam.

On the side of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem it says in Arabic, “God has no son”. Contrast this with Matt 3:17: “This is my Son, whom I love”. Indeed, in biblical Christianity Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God’s final and perfect word to man. He came not just as God’s messenger, but as God incarnate, as Saviour and Lord.

He is eternal and without sin, (and, since the incarnation) fully God and fully man, two complete natures in one person. He died on the cross for man’s sin and rose again on the third day, ascending to heaven. As predicted in the Old Testament, He will one day come again as Israel’s Messiah to set up His kingdom on earth and to subdue His enemies. Jesus Christ is the culminating thought of the Old Testament and the chief subject of the New Testament. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords to whom every knee will one day bow.

And consider the role of Jesus in salvation. In Islam there is no Saviour. Confession of the Creed (“There is no God but Allah…”) brings one into the Islamic community, wherein one seeks to earn his salvation by performing the religious duties and doing good works. At the Judgement Day men’s good deeds and bad deeds will be weighed, although ultimately, forgiveness is based on the arbitrary will of Allah. Allah saves those whom he chooses to save, and damns those whom he chooses to damn, with little or no moral basis for such choices.

In Christianity it is God’s desire that all men be delivered from the power and penalty of sin, and be restored to a right relationship with Himself. Man by his own efforts is unable to please God or undo the effects of sin. Therefore God became man and lived a sinless life, and through His death on the cross fulfilled the demands of the law upon sinners, taking their penalty for sin upon Himself.

Thus by His death He conquered sin, and by His resurrection He conquered death. God is now, on the basis of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, able to receive us unto Himself, when we turn from our sin and commit our lives to the Lord Jesus. By grace we are saved through faith. Good works do not procure our salvation but follow as an evidence of it.

Thus just in terms of the person and work of Christ alone, there are huge and insurmountable differences between Islam and Christianity. Jesus Christ is not the prophet of Allah. Muhammad, a mere man, is indeed a false prophet, whereas Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, and it is to Jesus that every knee will bow.

In a free country Muslims have the right to make use of public advertising. But one can ask whether they should be challenged on the grounds of false advertising.

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