Saturday, 1 December 2018

World's Apart

Christianity Versus Islam

True and False Disciples

A correspondent commenting on this blog observed recently that "there is no radical Islam; there is just Islam".

When we compare this to Christianity, most Christian folk would understand the following statement: "there are two types of Christians: genuine Christians and nominal Christians."  This statement is consistent with biblical teaching.  Nominal Christians (literally) are Christians in name only.  They are well represented by those who tick the "Christian" option on the national census papers.  Yet that tick is about the extent of their involvement with, faith in, and commitment  and loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Genuine Christians, on the other hand, are actual disciples of Christ and servants of Christ.  They hold Him as their highest authority.  They worship Him as God, follow Him as their Lord and leader.  They believe the Bible is His inerrant revelation and command-and-control centre for their life, faith, and service.  Genuine Christians live for His glory.  Genuine Christians are found in every Christian church and denomination on the planet, although not every adherent in every church is a genuine Christian.  Far from it, in some cases.

A similar, though different assessment can be made of Islam.
  There are two types of Muslims: genuine Muslims and nominal Muslims.  The latter, nominal Muslims, are similar in some ways to nominal Christians.  They are Islamic in name only.  They may occasionally attend a mosque on Friday.  They have never gone on the haj to Mecca and have no plans to do so.  They live with one wife, and disregard Muhammad's teaching that it is allowable for a Muslim man to have up to four.  In other words the nominal Muslim is like the nominal Christian--a believer in name only.

Genuine Muslims, on the other hand, reverence the Prophet Muhammad.  They believe the Koran to be the Word of Allah.  They also believe the Word of Allah can be found in the hadith (traditions) and in Sharia case law.  They seek to conform their lives to Allah's teaching, as revealed by the Prophet Muhammad and his descendants.

Is there a problem with this?  There is insofar as the "command and control centre" of the teachings of Muhammad call for holy war to be waged upon Christians and other idolaters, and upon apostate Islamic believers.  This is what jihad, or "holy war" is all about.  The dominant Islamic "denominations" of Shia and Sunni believe that genuine Muslims will be engaged in this holy war--literally.  Commitment to jihad is a fundamental requirement of the Prophet's teaching.

This is what our correspondent meant when he wrote:  "there is no radical Islam; there is just Islam".  If someone identifies as being a follower of the Prophet Muhammad and seeks to conform his life to his teaching, he will have to practise the daily prayer regimen, complete the Haj, be committed to jihad--and so forth.

The Western world calls such a person a radical or extremist Muslim.  But the authorities within Islam call it true or faithful Islam.  Islamic authorities do not recognize nominal Muslims as being an Islamic variant or sect.   They categorize them as apostate and worthy of death, unless they repent.

Here lies a huge ravine between Islam and Christianity.  Both genuine Islamic and Christian believers hold respectively that nominal Islamic and Christian people are not genuine disciples of Muhammad or Christ.  But there remains a huge difference.  The Islamic believer holds that such nominal Islamic adherents are worthy of death and must be made objects of jihad or holy war.

The Christian believer, by contrast, holds the nominal Christians to be someone who needs to hear the Gospel of Christ, not the sword or the knife or the bomb.  The one represents loving compassion; the other, vengeance and wrath.

No comments: