Saturday, February 13, 2010

Contrasting the Christian and Muslim faiths

Before I dive into this topic, I would first like to thank those people that have responded to my last blog entry and have been sending in questions for me to answer. There's been a good, steady flow of emails coming through but life, as you'd be aware, pulls you in different directions and if I don't answer your question immediately, you have my apologies. It will, however, not be ignored; I will get to it eventually!

The question being answered today:

"What are the similarities between Christianity and the Muslim faith? What is it that seperates our teachings?"

Let's begin with what Islam and Christianity have in common (in brief):

- both are monotheistic religions (they believe in one god/supreme being);
- both originated in the Middle East;
- both hold the Virgin Mary in very high esteem (the stories concerning the birth of Jesus differ substantially, however);
- both recognise Jesus as a great teacher (yet Islam does not recognise Jesus Christ as being divine, i.e. the Son of God/God incarnate);
- both recognise that Jesus died on the cross (was crucified);
- both believe that rejecting God will lead us to eternal punishment (Hell); and
- both believe in prayer, worship and fasting as essential elements of the faith.

There are more similarities I could list down, but that's enough to get us started for now.

As far as the differences are concerned, this table will easily point those out:

(Click on the image for the full-scale version

The core differences that separates our two faiths is the fact that Islam rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ whereas Christians acknowledge Him as the Messiah and Son of Almighty God. Jesus himself made this very clear to us as we read in scripture:

"I and the Father are one." - John 10:30

"Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." - John 8:58 (God identifies himself as "I am" to Moses in Exodus 3:14; the Jews knew the significance of this self attribution of identity).

"Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'?'" - John 14:8-9

For Christians, acknowledging and believing in the divinity of Jesus Christ is essential. One cannot call themself a Christian if they do not believe that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, and that he and the Father are one.

* * * * *

For more information about Islam, go here ("Islam in a Nutshell", Catholic Answers).

God bless.

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