Michael Brown Details the Essential Difference Between Christianity and Islam

A boy stands among people offering last Friday prayers during the holy month of Ramadan in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. (REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood)

The essential difference between Christianity and Islam is the difference between Jesus and Muhammad. Jesus was a spiritual leader who laid down His life to save the world. Muhammad was a spiritual leader, who became a political leader, then a violent military leader. Jesus accomplished His mission by dying on the cross. Muhammad accomplished his mission (at least in large part) by ruling by the sword.

There are, of course, great similarities between the world’s two largest religions. Both point to a holy book, allegedly inspired by God, for faith and practice. Both call for high moral standards and serious personal commitment. Both share common traditions, since Muhammad learned from Jews as well as Christians. And both have a vision to spread their faith around the world.

But this is where the two faiths diverge. One follows the example of a crucified and risen Savior. The other follows the example of a prophet and military leader.

And so, the biblical verses of violence (as in, “Kill the Canaanites”) were limited to a specific place and time, and no such commands are found on Jesus’ lips. The Quranic verses of violence (as in, “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them”) do not have such obvious limitations. And so, while many Quranic interpreters and Islamic jurists claim that those verses cannot be applied indiscriminately today, others differ, proudly citing them in their jihadi manuals.

Again, the difference is that of the cross versus the sword. That’s why Jesus and His followers never established the death penalty for leaving the faith. Muhammad established it once he assumed military dominance. And the death penalty for apostasy from Islam remains in force in a number of Islamic countries today.

In the same spirit, Muhammad beheaded some of his enemies. Jesus forbade His followers from taking up the sword in His defense. The differences are glaring and clear.

Just compare the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels with those of Muhammad in the Hadith. Jesus never calls for violent acts against enemies of the faith; Muhammad often does. That’s why there’s no gospel (or apostolic) equivalent to the lengthy collection of Muhammad’s military raids.

Accordingly, the most tolerant expressions of Islam are found when: 1. Muslims are the minority in a country, as in America; or 2. the Muslim-dominated country is quite secular, as in Indonesia. In contrast, in strictly observant Muslim countries, there is limited tolerance for non-Muslims.

If you don’t believe me, try setting up a public Christian mission to Muslims in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iran. Tell me how many minutes it lasts.

I do commend those Muslims who call for a more tolerant expression of their faith, and they abhor the terrorism carried out in the name of their religion. But if they are honest, they will have to admit that violent Islam has a long and rich history.

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SOURCE: Crosswalk – Michael Brown

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