No, Islam and Christianity Are Not the Same

The great thing about a democracy is that various groups can make their competing truth claims in public, and no one need lose their head in the process. Differing worldviews, religions and ideologies can slog it out in the public square, and people are free to decide which voices they will listen to.

Indeed, groups can even take out advertising in various forms to make their case. Thus the free market and democracy combine to allow genuine freedom of expression. However, there is such a thing as truth in advertising, or the lack thereof. If an ad is found to be blatantly false or misleading, it can be pulled from airing.

A good case can be made that the newest round of pro-Islam ads – now to be screened on television – fall into this category. The ads seek to show that Islam is a religion of love, peace and compassion, just like Christianity. Here is how one news story covers this development:

“The Muslim organisation behind the provocative ‘Jesus is a Prophet of Islam’ billboards will begin screening a TV commercial espousing Islamic values during some of our most watched programs. The commercial, believed to be the first to promote Islam on national television, features several excerpts from the Koran to show that Muslims share similar values to Christians.

“The commercial will begin screening in Sydney from Friday on Channel 7 and Channel 9 during Sunrise and Today and mid-afternoon news bulletins, and for at least the next six weeks. The commercial is the brainchild of MyPeace, the same organisation that erected the ‘Jesus is a Prophet of Islam’ billboards across Sydney. Founder Diaa Mohamed said the commercial was aimed at addressing some of the misconceptions about Islam.”

So what are we to make of all this? A few hard questions need to be asked. Are there some values shared by both Islam and Christianity? Yes, broadly speaking there would be a few. Both reject the militant secularism and atheism of modern culture.

Both decry the decline in moral values in contemporary life, and both see family life as being quite important. And both would prefer to see godly values rule in society instead of rampant godlessness and selfishness. But the differences far outweigh any similarities.

That is because at bottom the core theological differences are light-years apart. Simply contrasting the God of Islam with the God of Christianity will result in radically different values. I have done such a comparison elsewhere, for example:

Consider the doctrine of God more closely: In Islam, Allah is totally transcendent and inaccessible to man. We have no personal self revelation of His character and all we know of Him is through what He has commanded. The foundation of Islam is the oneness and omnipotence of Allah. The love of God is rarely even mentioned. He is a despotic sovereign, not a loving Father. He is the God of fate who has unalterably predestined all things, evil as well as good. He is bound to no moral absolutes and His actions are determined simply by His own arbitrary will.

In Christianity God is also transcendent, but He is also personally concerned with, and intimately involved in, the affairs of men. His omnipotence is tempered by His moral character. His mercy never conflicts with His justice, righteousness and holiness, as there is a unity in His moral character. God is a heavenly Father who loves all men equally and desires to have fellowship and communion with them. However, His holiness demands that we approach Him cleansed of our sin, which the work of Christ makes possible. The love of God is an essential part of His nature   indeed, God is love.

Thus a belief in a stern, fatalistic and remote judge will result in a far different set of values and ethics than a belief in a loving, personal heavenly father. Indeed, we see these pre-eminently spelled out in the lives of Jesus and Muhammad. Jesus never resorted to violence or coercion in the spread of the faith, while Islam is built on the foundation of violent conquest, as exemplified and commanded by Muhammad.

Indeed, Muhammad was a prophet of war, while Christ is the Prince of Peace. Muhammad and his disciples killed for the faith, while Christ and his disciples were killed for their faith. Muhammad preached “Death to the infidels!”, but Christ prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Muhammad constrained people by conquest, however Christ constrained people by love.

When Jesus spoke about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek, he pronounced a worldview completely at odds with Islam. Muslims view such admonitions as signs of weakness, not strength. They do not know of such sentiments, and find them out of place with the teachings of the Koran, the life and teachings of the Prophet, and the words of the hadith.

So to offer a few suras about sweetness and light ripped out of this context is misleading in the extreme. The many suras advocating – indeed, commanding – violence and even death to the non-Muslim are the real heart of Islamic teaching,

Indeed, the Muslim doctrine of abrogation (naskh) clearly teaches that the earlier peaceful Meccan suras are superseded, or abrogated, by the latter Medinan ones. Thus the suras calling for violence and jihad are to take priority and precedence over the earlier suras which spoke more of peace and getting along with non-Muslims.

And more honest Muslim leaders will admit to the violent nature of Islam. As UK Muslim leader Anjem Choudary has boldly stated: “You can’t say that Islam is a religion of peace because Islam does not mean peace. Islam means submission. So the Muslim is one who submits. There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam.”

But since this advertising campaign is seeking to tell us that Islamic values can easily and nicely cohere with Australian and Christian values, let me look at a few more glaring contrasts. Democracy and freedom are the heart and soul of Australia in particular and the West in general. Are these vitally important values also treasured in Islam? Absolutely not.

Christianity not only is quite compatible with freedom and democracy, it is also in many ways largely responsible for it. The same cannot be said about Islam. Democratic Muslim states are quite rare, and are almost a contradiction in terms. Where Islam seems to be the strongest, and where the Koran is followed the closest, there the likelihood is that freedom and democracy will be hard to find. Indeed, if democracy is defined as the situation wherein peaceful changes in government via free elections take place, only Turkey really qualifies as a democracy. That is one out of some 53 Muslim states.

In contrast, it has been one of the strengths of Western democracies to allow the maximum amount of democratic freedoms, while working with a rule of law. Liberty is often going to excess (libertarianism) in many Western countries today, but freedom is as commonplace in the West as it is absent in the Muslim world. Modern Western democracies are in large measure the result of the Judeo-Christian worldview. They may be imperfect, but the human rights and freedoms found there are the greatest in the world.

Similar contrasts can be made concerning the issue of church and state. In Islam there is no separation whatsoever; the two are one. State power and religious power were fused from the beginning. Thus almost all Muslim states today are theocratic. Sharia, or holy law, dominates every aspect of life. The only states that show some smatterings of democracy and freedom are those which are quite secular, such as Turkey. In strict Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Islamic law is dealt out with full force. For example, pickpockets have their hands chopped off (as Sura 5:38 commands).

In Christianity, church and state may have at times been wed on occasion, (e.g. Calvin’s Geneva), but the modern norm is a separation of the two. They may be two swords in God’s hands (as Luther put it) but they have their distinct and separate roles to play. The church has limited influence over the state, while the state (in theory) is to be neutral in regards to the church. This is basically true in most Western democracies. And this all derives from the teachings of Jesus when he taught that we should render unto Caesar the things that belong to him, and to God the things that belong to him.

Let me speak to one more value here. These ads may speak about freedom and peace, but real Islam is much different. One overwhelmingly great value in Australia and the West is religious freedom. This is simply not found in Islam. As already noted, for the most part, the growth of Islam has been accomplished by the sword. That is, conquest and compulsion were the main means by which Islam spread throughout the world. And freedom to leave Islam does not exist. It is seen as apostasy and is punishable by death.

No such compulsion and force exists in Christianity. The spread of the Christian church occurs by the preaching of the gospel and the work of the Spirit. For the most part, people became Christians willingly and voluntarily. And they are free to leave the faith at any time as well. Yes, sometimes Christians used the sword to force Christian conversion, but this is clearly against New Testament teaching.

Many other key values could be discussed here. These new ads seek to convince a gullible public that Islamic values are basically the same as Christian values, and that they are really Australian values. As I have sought to demonstrate here, nothing could be further from the truth.

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29 Replies to “No, Islam and Christianity Are Not the Same”

  1. Well written. Bill.
    Muslims living in the West who preach a “peaceful” Islam are simply practicing TAQIYYA – the Islamic doctrine of deceiving your enemies into thinking that Muslims intend them no harm. History reveals the real Islam; military slaughter, political conquest, and the enslavement of countless civilizations from the death of Mohammed in 632AD continues up to the present. The West be warned!


    Darrell Furgason

  2. The Islamist denial of the Trinity, far from adding to its credit, only contrasts how lacking in explanatory power it is compared to Christianity.

    It is well known amongst philosophers working on identity theory and psychologists studying early human development that fundamental to every human is the need for relations. We can only develop to our true potential in relation to others. There is an inherent relatedness to the human essence. W. Norris Clarke describes this in his wonderful Persons and Being

    “Thus precisely because to be a person is to be the highest mode of being, the fullest expression of what it means to be, person means at once that which stands in itself as a self-possessing, autonomous center and at the same time, by the very dynamism of its self-possession, that whose whole being is oriented toward others, especially other persons, in self-communicative expression and sharing of itself, as interpersonal.”

    The Trinity is the highest expression of this relatedness, or being-for-others that we see all throughout nature and finds its ultimate expression in the created order in humanity. Islam cannot ultimately make this feature of human existence intelligible with its denial of the Trinity.

    Damien Spillane

  3. Thanks Damien

    Yes the long-standing philosophical problem of the one and the many is nicely dealt with by the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. The Muslim TV ad features Quran 5:32. This is the only verse/surah in the Quran with anything resembling(?) the Biblical ‘love thy neighbour’. This is the same (and only) verse resembling(?) “thou shall not kill’.

    Christians should be aware of Surah 5:32 (and 33) and what it actually says. A good place to start research:

    John Miller

  5. Its impossible to cover every aspect of Islam in one article on the topic, so perhaps I might remind you of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. And, more importantly, what happens to those who suggest that these be changed to accommodate the different religions which now exist there. Two politicians in that country have been assassinated recently for suggesting just this. What is worse, the assassinations have been praised by the leading Muslim scholars in the land; and the assassins showered with rose petals when they appeared in court.
    Dunstan Hartley

  6. Thank you John Miller for that fantastic youtube. A valuable piece of ammunition to keep in the arsenal.
    On the question of Muslim having the freedom to put up an ad, why should we object? Surely, or suraly, to use a dreadful pun, this is a gift for Christians to also put up an ad exposing the deception, that is unless Christians are banned from the market place of ideas which would highlight even more the repressive nature of both Islam and secularism.
    Bring it on. This ad is an open invitation.
    We can also learn something from the secularists/atheists and what they have to say, when they put up an advertisements last year in Britain, saying “There is probably no God. So enjoy yourself.” But of course both Islam and secularism run on parallel tracks. Indeed the girl in this ad looks remarkably Islamic!

    David Skinner, UK

  7. We have a living Jesus Christ. Muslims don’t have a living ‘head’.
    Judith Bond

  8. How much does it cost to take out 1 billboard in Sydney that says “There is ONE God and HIS name is JESUS”.

    That should get people nice and aggravated. I expect they wouldn’t even let us put one up at all…

    Michael Mifsud

  9. “64% of the Qu’ran is about discrimination, hatred, war and slaughter.” Dr Daniel Shayesteh (former leading Iranian revolutionary who played a key role in the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini.)

    I would like to point out the difference between Joshua slaughtering the totally reprobate people of Canaan and that of Muhammad’s warfare. Joshua was instructed by God to wipe these people from the face of the earth because their sins of temple bestiality etc. were piled so high, God said “enough.” It was not because they refused Judaism. Time and again throughout history, when a people’s sins accumulate to a certain point, God moves in with judgement, even sometimes using wicked men to fulfill that judgement. “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out .” (Romans 11:33.) In Muhammad’s case he offered people the Qu’ran or the sword. As Bill rightly pointed out, in centuries past, when various Christians have used the sword to spread Christianity, they were in complete violation of Christ’s teaching.
    But when Jihadist Muslims slaughter tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ EVERY YEAR!!!!!!!! JUST THINK OF IT! they are being completely faithful to dozens of clear texts in the Qu’ran and many historical accounts of Muhammad’s ‘perfect’ example in the Hadith.
    Great article, Bill. Well researched.
    Peter Magee (Director of Operation Abba: a ministry of the Father’s love to the Muslim world.)

  10. My quick reading of 5:32-33 sounds like it says that all have transgressed and should be killed. Am I missing something here? I don’t get any love thy neighbour out of it. It reads more like a justification to kill the children of Israel.
    Aaron Downs

  11. The one and easy way to sum this debate up is rather easy when all the facts are taken in to consideration.

    The differences as one pointed out is that the religions must be different, it compells with Gods word that many false prophets would come in his name, many wolves in sheeps clothing.
    It is the only way in which mankind would know love, honour and sanctity because without God glorifying us with his love and reaching out to mankind, the world would never know true and genuine love for one another.
    Should any 2 Religions be the same it would be as Jesus preached to his disciples, as saying you cannot serve 2 masters for you shall love one and hate the other, you cannot serve God and serve mammon together for it divides up our hearts, therefore it is the way the world has been foretold, evil and good will battle out, islam represents greed, power, hate and violence, thus this is pure evil, whereas christianity represents forgiveness, love and honor, this is pure goodness coming from only a greater power that is known as the Heavenly father.

    Christianity is based on the way the world is designed, love for your family, your friends and your neighbours, also that of a fathers love for his children, God would show that he identifies with mankind in the most powerful, righteous and significant way known to man, by sending his only begotten son so we may know eternal life.

    What would be the purpose of the islamic God creating mankind if only to destroy it with hatred, what sort of a paradise would the followers dwell in, some say the suicide bombers would be blessed with several virgins, but that itself falls on worldly desires and not that of supernatural eternal realms, because the reality is srawn upon that once these followers have had their ways with these so called virgins, WHATS NEXT????

    What was islam before the birth of Muhammed?, Why does the Koran mention the name of Jesus a staggering 97 times in comparison to Muhammeds name only a paltry 25 times?

    The Bible goes back before Jesus birth, talks about the Virgin Birth, the one who would save mankind from their sins, in fact the Bible states 7 signs in the lead up to Christs birth, it was foretold by the 3 wise men, and the sea scrolls also depict The one who would lead us towards the truth.
    Muhammed on the other hand has no history leading up to his birth, has no prophecies or mention of the religions birth or was even known to mankind.
    Muhammed would kill for his religion which enforces people against their wishes and will, Jesus gives mankind a choice, thus as muslims dont like been forced against their will, its a 2 way street with both counterparts, therefore its no comparison as islam goes against mankinds thoughts and whats in their hearts, Jesus died for the sake of christianity.

    Before Islam was enforced on many in the 7th century it would be fair to acknowledge that the majority of the middle east were all either christian or orthodox.
    This is due to the facts that show that still some part of middle east to this day celebrate easter and christmas, this verifies that there were those who stayed true to their beliefs and those who chose to keep their lives or those who were not captured and killed.

    Where as if you look to europe the majority of the continent is divided of all religions revolving around Jesus Christ.

    The muslims are exposed and react savagely because its non understandable, they are not as advanced as christianity which pushes their limits to and they only know a way with violence and not a way with reason and tolerance.

    We should and I for one will make it my personal business to push for Jesus the lord and saviour on any billboard in this country, this is the land of freedom, the land in which our Australian soldiers died and bled so we may be free and sing the national anthem with pride, not for these people to come here and divide and conquer.

    There is no place for this false and hateful religion.
    Fivos Panayiotou

  12. “Jesus is a prophet of Islam” is false advertising! Don’t we have rules here about false advertising or don’t they apply to everyone?
    Jesus is the Son of God who became man, suffered, died, rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.This He did out of love for every human person.He is the second person of the Trinity. Scripture teaches us Scripture. From the Old to the New – from the New to the Old.

    My question is – where is the money coming from to pay for these advertisements!

    Madge Fahy

  13. It is possible to cherry-pick passages from the Old Testament that make Christianity appear to be barbaric and violent also.

    The suggestion that democracy is based in the Judeo-Christian worldview is rather overstated. Judeo-Christian values may be a pre-requisite, but enlightenment philosophy is the building block.

    Having said that, I appreciate that although we disagree, you don’t actually want to kill me (hopefully)

    James Beattie

  14. Thanks James

    But this is not about cherry picking anything. Have you actually ever read the Koran? We are talking about comparing the Koran with the New Testament here. For that matter, have you actually ever read the New Testament? Those who tend to pontificate most on these matters are often those who are the least qualified to speak, for the simple reason that they have never read the books in question.

    And the truth is, enlightenment philosophy is overrated in this regard. It has led as much to the Gulag as to Western progress. But more specifically, one can distinguish the rather atheistic Enlightenment of France with the more religiously inclined Enlightenment of Britain, etc. So it gets a bit more complex here. But there is no question of the overwhelming influence of Christianity on the development of Western civilisation. Even secular Marxist Habermas could say, “Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love.”

    And it is much more likely that your atheist buddies would want to kill me!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. Hi Madge,

    I strongly presume the money ultimately comes from Saudi Arabia. Most funding for Western dhimmification does.

    Mansel Rogerson

  16. It is not correct to say that church and state in Reformation-era Geneva were somehow ‘wed’. Rather, they were separate institutions under God. Calvin himself was not a member of any of the governing councils of the city and certainly did not always get his way in matters brought before the councils by the church.
    Graeme Mitchell

  17. Thank you Bill for airing this debate. I am concerned about the ads, and I hope that informed Christians will take the opportunity to air theirs.

    Islam is not only a religion, but evidently a large global political party. It is also a judiciary – a system of courts which apply Sharia law.

    In Canada, the CBC funded a program called “Little Mosque on the Prairie” which painted Muslims as a mere caricature of real people, and ‘whitewashed their real and different religious/political beliefs.

    In Canada many women have been killed by their fathers. There is the case of Asqa Parvez, and the case currently being heard in Court of Zainab Shafia and her sisters and step mother: 4 women found at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston, allegedly murdered by their father, his second wife (mother of 3 of the girls) and brother.

    This is what I wrote to one journalist covering this story:

    “Thank you for covering the story.

    I live in Australia but am following this case with interest.

    ”In fact, what was most galling about the prosecutor’s overview of the evidence to come was how very openly the teenagers had rebelled against their parents — once, from a street corner in Montreal where the family lived, they begged a stranger to call 911 for them because they were so afraid to go home — and how little Canadian authorities and Canadian law helped them.”

    I wonder somehow if the CBC series “Little Mosque on the Prairie” has contributed to these murders, and the murder of other Muslim women, by not being honest about the culture of misogyny and violence that appears to have contributed to these deaths?

    Had Zainab’s mates been made aware of the potential for violence in the ideology of Islam, she may well have been alive today. Had Sahar, Geeti and Rona’s mates been told the truth about political Islam, rather than being fed outright falsehoods about ‘comedy’ Muslim families, maybe they would be alive today.”

    Surely to goodness we should stand firm against these ads, and as one gentle reader has previously pointed out take the opportunity to respond: with the truth about Christianity rather than accept without question the propaganda being peddled about Islam being a religion of peace.

    Ruth Bonnett

  18. Yes, a very good account and summary of complex areas.I always say that Christians who behave badly, eg. with violence, are doing it against the teachings of the faith. Muslims who behave very fairly and well are doing it against the teachings of Islam (which seem to require war and violent jihad, as you say).
    john Thomas, UK

  19. Islam is true. Christianity is not the whole story. That is the difference. Allah sent another prophet after Jesus; this Truth we must all embrace.
    Ranjit Patel

  20. Thanks Ranjit

    The real differences are these:
    -Jesus claimed to be sinless and perfect; Muhammad did not.
    -Jesus performed numerous miracles throughout his life; Muhammad did not.
    -Jesus said love your enemies; Muhammad did not.
    -Jesus said he was the only way to the Father; Muhammad did not.
    -Most importantly, Jesus rose from the dead; Muhammad did not – he is still in the grave.

    Christians worship the living Lord, not a dead prophet.

    That is the truth we must all embrace.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  21. Thankyou Bill for such a scholarly, factual article on the differences between Christianity and Islam. Jesus is not just a prophet. He is God made man. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity and that is the most important difference between Christianity and Islam. To say that Jesus was just a prophet diminishes Him. That is not to say that prophets are not good but God is God and Jesus is God. Added to that Christians have an Eternal, Mighty God in whom mercy is endless and compassion inexhaustable and whose Holy Will is love and mercy itself. You can’t get better can you?
    Patricia Halligan

  22. James Beattie’s remarks warrant further comment.

    His remark, “It is possible to cherry-pick passages from the Old Testament that make Christianity appear to be barbaric and violent also.” shows his ignorance of both.

    The Old Testament relates to God’s covenant with Israel and their relation of the law, principally the Ten Commandments, which primarily related to human conduct towards fellow human beings. God’s severe judgements coming only when gross evil, and the inhuman atrocities engaged in towards fellow humans, was beyond reconciliation. Thus, to argue the God should not have acted to suppress such gross evil, cruelty and atrocities is paramount to suggesting that such gross atrocities and inhuman conduct be allowed to freely continue unhindered.

    The New Testament relates to God’s pre-ordained covenant of “Grace” and reconciliation, based on love and Christ’s selfless sacrifice, which happens to be the central underlying theme of the entire Bible, as Paul clearly explains in his letter to the Christians in Rome.

    As for “enlightenment philosophy” being the building block, history has graphically shown that ‘enlightment’ humanistic philosophy is the “chopping block”. Its ‘enlightened’ pursuit of sexual liberation and amoral relativism has brought moral chaos and social breakdown, reaping havoc on western culture and society, The result has been widespread sexual promiscuity, legalized drugs, weakened marriage, relational breakdown, fractured and dysfunctional families. With millions infected by sexually transmitted diseases, rampant pornography, and millions in permissive lifestyles dying from AIDS. To this we can add the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of millions of unborn children, crushed and savaged in the womb. Starting with the thousands beheaded by the pioneers of the ‘enlightment’ in French Revolution. Followed by millions murdered by the godless ‘enlightenment’ fascists, socialists, and communist regimes.

    Having said that, I too appreciate that although we disagree, you can freely express your views. For not only was Christianity influential in the formulation of the democratic Westminster system of government, based on the separation and division of power, and a central influence in the abolition of slavery, and civil rights, but UN Universal Declaration of Human Right; formulated by Rene Cassin, was primarily based on the Ten Commandments.

    John Heininger

  23. Do you know that lying in Islam is permitted in 3 occasions?
    1) Lying in the case of war (as the prophet said, “war is a trick”)
    2) Lying to make conciliation between two adversaries.
    3) Lying to one’s wife.

    It’s no surprise that Islam, through Muslims, is deceiving westerners through the use of text out of context.
    I haven’t read the Quran in English, I read most of it in Arabic, and I am surprised when I hear people in the West say Islam is a peaceful religion.

    It’s not just one verse that talks about killing “infidels”, “Nasara”, Jews, or those with the “Scriptures”, here are some other verses that you can check.

    Sura 9:29
    Sura 47:35
    Sura 60:1
    Sura 5:57
    Sura 8:60
    Sura 9:5
    Sura 8:12
    Sura 8:39
    Sura 48:16
    (And MANY more)

    Stand for your God-given freedom, Islamic extremism is rising here in the Middle East, and we very clearly see the result of Muslim theology and ideology on ground… our only hope is that the gospel of Jesus Christ be reached to those people… no politics can solve the problem of Islam, only Christ can do it.

    & I great website Bill, I really enjoyed some good thoughts here.

    Laith Mardini, Jordan

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