Last time, we discussed the Christology (study of Christ) of one of the world’s most notorious religions—Islam. We saw how the Quran defines who Jesus was. In short, Muslims revere Jesus as the son of Mary, and even ascribe Him the title of Messiah, but vehemently deny the Deity of our Lord Jesus. Denying the Deity of Jesus is contrary to orthodox, fundamental Christianity. Any religion that does not affirm that Jesus is God is a false religion. Therefore, everyone must understand that the religion of Islam is one of many man-made, enslaving, corrupt religious systems that are damning millions to hell. For most Christians, this is obvious, but I often hear the mainstream media, prestigious professors, and other so-called “Christians” say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This grossly inaccurate assertion is given because they recognize that both faiths are traceable back to Abraham (Gen 16). All though Isaac and Ishmael (father of the Arab people) were birthed from the same father (different mother), this does not give any evidence that Allah and Yahweh are one and the same. The descendants of Ishmael simply began worshiping idols. Therefore, the statement “Christians and Muslims worship the same god” is made solely on the basis of pure biblical illiteracy and/or utter disbelief.
Christians confess that Jesus is God in the flesh (1 John 4:2). This is an essential affirmation for anyone to be considered a genuine believer in Christ. Muslims outright and wholeheartedly dismiss what Christians have confessed since the birth of the church. Therefore, in our culture of relativism, tolerance, and acceptance, we as Christians must remember and defend the orthodox doctrine of the deity of our precious Lord Jesus. As you will see, this doctrine has massive implications. Now, let us continue our study of Islamic Christology more in depth. This post will look at what Muslims say about the work of Christ. By “work,” we mean what Christ accomplished on the cross.
Before we get into the meat of the subject, so you aren’t tempted to think that I’m an angry “fundamentalist” Christian making all of this up, or lest you think this is another blog post that merely gives the writer’s opinion, please watch this video to see what this hip Muslim leader preaches. Then test your discernment and try to see where this young man has erred in his Christology.
The Islamic View of the Work of Christ—According the Quran
According to Muslim belief, Jesus’ death was nothing but a fabrication. Instead, Allah outsmarted those who would have done God’s Messiah in, substituting someone else for Him on the cross.1 Jesus Christ did not die on the cross. Various Muslim traditions say that He either miraculously substituted Judas Iscariot for Himself on the cross, or that God miraculously delivered him from the hands of the Romans and Jews before he could be crucified. Most Muslims believe that Jesus Christ was taken bodily into heaven without having died (Surah 4:157).2
Surah 4:157–158 reads,
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.
Many different theories or interpretations have been given to shed light on what actually happened to Jesus. Whatever the consensus, one thing is certain to Islam: Jesus never actually, literally died on the cross. If this is assertion is true, then a fundamental, core doctrine of Christianity of false: penal substitutionary atonement. Without a death, there is no atonement, and without an atonement, there is no forgiveness of sin. Without forgiveness, there is no salvation Solus Christus. “Thus, God was involved in some kind of deceit to save the great honored prophet Jesus.”3 In other words, Jesus did not come to save His people from His sin; His atoning work never happened. It was a hoax.
Since Jesus’ death on the cross did not really happen, as the Bible explicitly describes that it did (Matt 27:33-54; Mark 15:22-39; Luke 23:33-49; John 19:16-30), the logical progression leads to there being no resurrection from the dead. Although the doctrine of the resurrection has been an orthodox teaching since the conception of the apostolic church and despite the numerous, explicit NT Scriptures that speak of Jesus’ resurrection (Matt 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6; John 20:1-18), Muslims still deny its legitimacy, historicity, and believability. Muslim apologists appeal to Luke 24:39 to defend their position by saying it proves Jesus did not die and therefore was not resurrected from the dead.4 Jesus was simply telling the disciples that they should touch Him and handle Him so they could see He had not died and been resurrected in spiritualized body.5
The Biblical Response to the Christological Errors of Islam
The foundation for the Muslim religion is the Shahada, or “confession,” which states: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is the prophet of Allah.”6 The first phrase of the confession has massive Christological implications. Christians must understand first and foremost that the religion of Islam is a false religion because of their unbiblical assertions of Jesus Christ. Everything they claim about Jesus is completely antithetical to what the Bible teaches about Him. According to the Bible, Jesus is God, neither a mere prophet nor messenger (John 1:1).
Secondly, since proper Christology is derived from the Bible, and the Bible was given through the Prophets and Apostles, chosen by Jesus Himself, Christians must acknowledge that the second phrase of the Shahada, “Muhammed is the prophet of Allah,” is false. Mohammed, meaning “the one who is praised,” was not a true prophet; he was a false one. His writings about Jesus are heretical and blasphemous. Scripture states that, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book” (Rev 22:18). John MacArthur stated, “These warnings against altering the biblical text represent the close of the NT canon. Anyone who tampers with the truth by attempting to falsify, mitigate, alter, or misinterpret it will incur the judgments described in these verses.”7
God the Son, Jesus Christ, is coequal with the Father in divinity (John 10:30). God became a man through Christ, known as the incarnation, and took on full humanness (Phil 2:5-8; Col 2:9). Jesus was born of a virgin (Matt 1:23), thus fulfilling the prophesy in the OT (Isa 7:14). He lived a sinless life and was crucified on a cross, thereby atoning for the sins of the elect (Heb 4:15). His resurrection is a guarantee of the believers’ eternal salvation (John 5:28-29). He is the Head of the church and the One through whom God will judge mankind (Eph 5:23; 2 Cor 5:10).
Jesus Christ died to pay for (make an atonement) the sins of the elect (Matt 1:21; John 10:15; Eph 5:23). His substitutionary death accomplished what no other man could accomplish because no other man is free from sin apart from Christ. In order for man to be reconciled to God, a perfect sacrifice was required because a perfect, just, and holy God must require a perfect Lamb. Jesus was the Lamb of God slaughtered by the hands of sinful man to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
The Muslim religion embraces a view of Jesus Christ that is completely foreign to the Bible—God’s only inspired Truth (2 Tim 3:16). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:16). Whether or not one embraces the teaching of Islam or the teaching of Christianity comes down to what source of authority is most trustworthy. One must go to the Quran or to the Bible for a Christology. It cannot be both because both writings are in direct contradiction to the other. One is right; one is wrong. One says Jesus is God, the Son of Man, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and Savior (the Bible) and one says He was a mere prophet, or messenger, who is to be venerated no more than another man named Mohammed (the Quran). As one does an honest study of who Christ was/is, one must also ponder the reality of sin and what it demands. For the Christian, sin was dealt with once and for all on the cross and there is hope and assurance of life in Heaven because of what the Bible says about Christ. For the Muslim, sin has not been dealt with and there is no certainty that there is forgiveness because the Quran does not reveal what people need more than anything: a Savior. The Muslim religion ensnares people to a system of works righteousness and provides no assurance that their god will pardon them on the day they will supposedly meet him. That’s a problem. A big one.
So, what’s our response to the Christological errors of Islam? It’s simple. We love them, just as Jesus loved those who hated Him in His day (John 13:35). Knowledge of their theology is not meant to puff you up and/or enable you to start arguments about the Truth. Rather, this knowledge arms you with an understanding of how to engage them by knowing why they believe what they believe about Jesus. Since Muslims reject Jesus as Savior and Lord, this means that they must be viewed as part of the mission field. Christians must be diligent to understand the basic beliefs about the Muslim religion and be ready to gently and boldly confront Muslims with the biblical Gospel (1 Pet 3:15). “The three key topics of discussion between a Christian and a Muslim should be the nature of God, the identity and deity of Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace alone apart from works” (emphasis added).8 The God, Jesus Christ, who created the universe and sustains it (Col 1:15-17) is also the God who saved His people from their sin—purely and solely out of love. Love is the foundation that is absent from Islam.
- Zahniser, The Mission and Death of Jesus in Islam and Christianity, 15. ↩
- Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, 366. ↩
- R.C. Sproul and Abdul Saleeb, The Dark Side of Islam, 66. ↩
- Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Muslims, 139. ↩
- Ibid., 139. ↩
- Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, 364. ↩
- John MacArthur, author, and general editor, The Macarthur Study Bible: New King James Version, [Rev. & updated ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 1,996. ↩
- Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, 367. ↩