[Note: this paper is a continuing project, and will be
modified and added to over time. See also
Bibliography on Islam.]
Islam was a sleeper subject until September 11, 2001. Suddenly Islam was "in our faces", and we were scrambling to understand who these people were who hated us in America so fiercely.
Islam claims to have its roots in Biblical history. That, in my opinion, cannot be true. The Muslims insist that Mohammed had nothing to do with the content of the Koran other than be a conduit. He was not in any sense the source. It was not "his idea". Mohammed, they insist, was illiterate. He received word for word what God was mediating to him through an angel, alone in a desert cave.
If Christianity is true, the Islam cannot be true, because we have very contradictory views of the nature and personality of God and His relation to His creation.
So, the problem is, if Islam is not from God and therefore false, and if Mohammed did not himself compose the Koran, then from where did it come? Something as complicated as the Koran could not have come from an illiterate Bedoin. It could not have been merely an unfortunate error or accident. So, if not from God and not from Mohammed, but alone in a cave in a middle eastern desert, one must ask whether it could have come from a demonic spirit -- which would help explain the compulsive and irrational violence and hatred so many Muslims feel toward Jews especially, but also Christians. ]
If Prof. Moshe Sharon's article is, as I believe, correct, then no Muslim culture can be trusted. All Muslim cultures, even those which give the appearance of honest civilization, will be sleeper cells for the more violent forms of Islam to take over when the time is ripe.
That does not mean that there are no trustworthy Muslims. There clearly are. We should welcome them and love them, on an individual basis sorting out the trustworthy from the untrustworthy.
But the problem is not Islam. God's problem has never been the "enemy", it has always been much more His own people who will not obey Him. As with the homosexual issues currently before us, Christians are only rarely willing to do their homework, first with their own Christian faith (their personal picking up their crosses daily and following Him), and secondly, in the public arena, applying the strategies of the Lord in meeting the opposition.
Islam and Biblical religion are not compatible. They give the appearance of such because both talk of a creator God who is sovereign over all things. But Islam denies the goodness and the loving character of God which Christians understand (albeit very inconsistently) to be a fundamental part of the character of God. Islam denies that we can have any truly secure assurance of our salvation, i.e., of the love and good will of God, that God would bend the whole of His omnipotence for our salvation, that God wants a close and personal relation with us, that God would become as one of us, incarnate among us, to bring these things about, that God desires to "reason together" with us, or (perhaps most of all) that God would suffer for us at our hands.
The sense in which the Allah of Islam can be called a loving God, caring for His creatures, differs in every essential characteristic from that of the Bible, either the Old or New Testament.
Moshe Sharon notes that the Old Testament focused mainly on a national salvation, that God wants a nation which worships Him, and that Christianity brought the element of personal salvation to the fore.
What Christians have lost sight of is that Jewish element. God still wants nations, cultures, people groups, societies -- to worship Him. We are all His creatures, we are responsible to Him, both personally and corporately. That was the vision of our American founding fathers -- who were decidedly not deists.
Islam concentrates its vision of human participation in religion on the corporate and political realm. Personal salvation does not have the personal focus and intimacy to which Christianity points. Politics and civil government are all wrapped up in the Muslim understanding of the sovereignty of God -- total and absolute submission of mind and will. One does not question God, one submits.
That is a prescription for idolatry and totalitarianism in politics.
When Christians begin to sort out the differences between Christianity and Islam, and gracefully to call Islam to account for its faulty vision of God, then we will be take on the enemy in a righteous way. The very foundation of Christian witness is "Come, let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18). God calls us into a reality check, and does so in a manner which honors the reasonable freewill which He has bestowed upon us. It is precisely in that open engagement of truth, an idea invented by God, not by the secular "Enlightenment", that God wins. It is the only way He desires to win, because He is building a family, a freewill covenant. He wants in His family, His kingdom, only those who want to be there. If I do not go to heaven, it will be only because I do not want what God is offering. The Son of God died to make sure that anyone who wants what God is offering will indeed have it.
For an assessment of how one distinguishes a true from a false vision of God, how any of us might be able to say that we know we have the truth, see How Do We Know the Truth About God?
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