Wednesday, 31 August 2011


This is an abstract of an eighty page booklet on the subject. The Islam-Christian debate in South Africa was initiated by the late Ahmed Deedat, President of the Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI). There were numerous debates between Deedat and Christian leaders between the period 1970 and 1990. Deedat wrote several booklets condemning Christian beliefs and doctrines. 3. After Deedat’s death, the debate still continues to this day in specific venues in London and South Africa.

What Muslims believe about Christianity? While Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that he is the coming Messiah, they do not believe that he is God. They believe that Jesus was a man, and a great prophet who performed miracles by permission of Allah 1, 7 & 3. They do not believe that Jesus was crucified, and that instead some other person (Simon of Cyrene or Judas Iscariot) was crucified in his place, and that God raised him up to heaven 1 & 7. The alternative theory is that Jesus swooned (fainted) on the cross and was later revived in his burial tomb. 3. The Koran rejects the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, condemning it as blasphemous. The Koran refers to the Trinity as “the joining of God with other Gods”. The Koran also condemns as blasphemous the Christian doctrine that Jesus was the “Son of God”. The Koran states that “Allah had no consort (wife) and Allah is not a man that he should begat a son” 1 & 7. Muslims reject the Bible as the Word of God. Muslims believe that the Koran is the only true Word of Allah, revealed to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. They believe that the Bible has been corrupted and changed by early Christians and Jews 1 & 3.                             
The Christian Response to Islam

Was Jesus really God? Early Jewish Christians believed in one God, uncompromisingly accepting the Jewish belief that “the Lord our God is one God”. But they also believed that Jesus is Lord. It would appear that the early church worshipped Jesus as Lord, Saviour and Messiah and as the Son of God, but not as God 4. The debate about Jesus being God or Man has been raging since the third century. In the fourth century the doctrine of the Trinity was introduced to counter Arian beliefs that Jesus was not God. 4. Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, and yet they cannot explain why Muhammad was not born of a virgin since Muhammad is regarded as a much greater prophet than Jesus. Christians (Trinity and Oneness) believe that Jesus is God. Monotheistic Christians accept Jesus as the Son of God, and their Lord and Savour and coming Messiah. They love Jesus, they uplift, praise and glorify his name, and they worship him as Lord and Saviour, but they do not regard him as God.

The Historical Jesus: Very little is known about the historical Jesus except for what is contained in the four Gospels. His birth was miraculous. He was born of a virgin. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and she conceived a holy and sinless child, and he was called Jesus the Son of God. Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man” and referred to God as “my Father in heaven”. He did not specifically refer to himself as God or the second person of the Trinity. He did say “I and my Father are one” (in purpose) and when Phillip wanted to see the Father he said “if you have seen me you have seen the Father”. The Spirit of the Father was in him. He existed to please God, and to do the will of God, and he only did what the Father wanted him to do (John 5:17-19, 30). He was born sinless, and he lived a holy and blameless life. He was the second Adam, but unlike the first Adam who had succumbed to sin, the second Adam was completely obedient to God. He said the “Father works and I work. I do only what the Father tells me to do”.   

Jesus grew up as any young man in his community. As a young man he must have attended Jewish religious school, which was compulsory for all Jewish boys. For about thirty years he lived a relatively quiet life, and it is assumed that he worked in Joseph’s carpentry shop. Before his public ministry, he was baptised at the river Jordan. When he was baptised, the Spirit of God (Holy Ghost) came upon him in a very great measure and indwelt him. There was a voice from heaven which said “this is my son in whom I am well pleased”. Jesus became the living temple of God. God dwelt and was manifested to the world in Jesus. The Spirit of the God of the universe dwelt in him. This prompted him to say, “Destroy this temple (his body) and in three days I will raise it up”. He was filled with the power and Spirit of Jehovah (Yahweh) God.

He preached non-violence and taught that those who lived by the sword perished by the sword. He taught his followers to love their enemies and turn the other cheek. He told his disciples to rejoice in persecution. He preached about the kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins. People were attracted to him because he demonstrated the love, compassion, mercy and goodness of God. Just as Moses who came down from the mountain, with his face glowing with the presence of God, forcing Moses to cover his face; Jesus’ whole being radiated the presence of God. The presence of God in him made him appear divine and this caused people to worship him. Because the Spirit of God was in him, he had the power to perform miracles, and do great signs and wonders.   

Jesus was a Jew, he taught from the Torah and from the Prophets. He was well versed in Jewish scripture. Jewish leaders often tried to trap him by asking him difficult theological questions. They sent lawyers to him to ask him sensitive political questions. He always had the right answer to every question, which often left Jewish leaders embarrassed. Here was an “ordinary”, unlearned man who had a better understanding of the scriptures than the most learned Jewish scholars. This embarrassed and irritated the Jewish scholars. He claimed to be greater in wisdom than Solomon; and was in fact wiser than Solomon. Solomon with all his wisdom went astray.

Jesus was an extra-ordinary Prophet. He healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, cast out demons, restored sight to the blind, and raised the dead. He raised Lazarus after he was dead and buried for four days. And he did this by the power and spirit of Almighty God that resided in him. Scholars argue that he did not specifically claim to be Jehovah God, although he stated that the “Father is in me, and I am in the Father”. “I am the bread that came down from heaven”. “Before Abraham was, I Am”. The Bible states that “he was Christ coming in the flesh”. However, what is clear and not in dispute, is that he was Jesus Christ the Son of God. He had a miraculous ministry, more powerful that the Prophet Elijah and Moses before him. Large number of Jews followed him. They said that “no person could do the things that Jesus did unless God was with him”.

Tensions soon developed between Jewish leaders and Jesus. The Jewish leaders were plainly envious of Jesus. Here was an ordinary Jew, who was not one of them, claiming to be the Son of God and to be the Christ (the Messiah), performing miracles by what they considered to be some form of demonic power. They considered him to be demon possessed. He broke Jewish laws by healing people on the Sabbath. He contradicted the laws of Moses in regards to divorce. He told his followers that they could not divorce their wives with a bill of divorcement and marry another (without proper cause); and if they did, they would be committing adultery. Moses’ law said that you may not commit adultery. Jesus went even further. He said that if you looked upon a woman lustfully you commit adultery in your heart. He forgave a woman caught in the act of adultery when the Law of Moses called for her stoning. After warning people to stop sinning, he forgave them their sins. This infuriated the Jewish leaders. Who was he to forgive sins, only God can forgive sin?  He ate with sinners and publicans. One of his followers was a woman of ill repute, and another a publican and tax collector. The Jewish leaders were convinced that Jesus was not a man of God, and that he was impersonating the Messiah. Sadly, this same spirit is still prevalent among many Jews today.

Jesus drew large crowds of people wherever he went. They followed him from village to village. They brought their sick to him to be healed. He ministered to the people tirelessly. He had a deep compassion and love for human beings. On occasions when people ran out of food he blessed a few fishes and few loaves of bread and his disciples were able to feed thousands with one person’s lunch. He was generally mild natured, and was meek and humble. At other times he was assertive and confrontational. He rebuked Jewish leaders when they questioned his authority and tried to block him in his ministry. They accused him of leading Jews astray. He called them vipers, snakes and hypocrites. They accused him of performing miracles by the power of the devil. He warned them that all types of blasphemy will be forgiven them, but their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit of God would not be forgiven.  

After three and a half years of supernatural ministry, he was arrested, accused of blasphemy and sentenced to die. He did not defend himself. He quietly submitted to his fate. After being tortured he was crucified. He died on the cross, was brought down and buried in a tomb, and after three days he rose from the dead. (The question that many ask is whether it was God or a Man that was crucified and put to death?). After his resurrection, he was seen by his disciples, and after many days he ascended into the heavens, after promising his disciples that he would be coming back as Messiah. The Jewish leaders called for his crucifixion, and the Romans did their bidding. Jesus knew about his suffering and death and he asserted that no one can take his life from him and that he laid down his life willingly. Jesus fulfilled his purpose. He was born to be sacrificed and to take the place of sinful mankind. He died to pay for the sins of mankind. In the Old Testament Jews sacrificed animals to God. The animal had to be a perfect male, a first born, without spot or wrinkle or blemish.  All this then pointed in type to Jesus the ultimate sacrifice.

Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God. He was sinless, spotless and blameless. Through his death, mankind became reconciled to God. That is the fundamental belief of Trinity, Oneness, and Monotheistic Christians. Some time after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman General Titus in 70 AD. Jesus had predicted that this would happen. Since then and up to this date, the Jews have not offered animal sacrifice. Currently, the Muslim Mosque of Omar has been built over the Jewish Temple site. Is there a spiritual connection between Jesus ultimate sacrifice on the cross replacing the sacrificing of animals; and the destruction of the temple which physically prevents Jews from continuing with the practice of animal sacrifice?   

The advent of the Messiah is two fold according to the book of Isaiah. There are many scriptures in Isaiah that accurately predicts the first and second coming of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus came as the suffering servant as described in Isaiah. Jesus was crucified for the sins of all mankind.  He was born into the world for this purpose, to lay down his life for sinful mankind, and he fulfilled this purpose. Jesus arose from the dead and later ascended to heaven. He will be coming back in his second advent as Messiah, King and ruler of this earth. Jews and Gentiles will serve him. His sacrifice for the sins of mankind, qualifies him to be our Lord, Saviour, Messiah and future King.  

How the Christian Faith Grew: After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Christian faith grew over the centuries. Beginning with a handful of nervous followers in Judea, it has grown to become the faith of a thousand million people. It is the nominal faith of approximately one third of the world’s population. All kinds of people including Muslims and Jews are attracted to the faith, and this is causing Jewish Rabbis and Muslim clerics much concern. Christianity has withstood persecution and criticism throughout the ages, and has had the ability to reform and renew itself. The Bible still remains the best selling book of all time. Added to this, is Christianity’s tremendous impulse to evangelize and share with others the Good News of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. 4.  

In 333 AD, Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire and turned into a state religion. The Romans fused Christianity with existing Roman pagan religions to form a new style of Christian religion which lacked the direction of the Holy Spirit. This state of affairs lasted several centuries and was considered the darkest period for Christianity. 4. Because Christianity was forced upon the Romans, without the requirement for repentance, they fused it with existing pagan religions. As a former member of the Roman Catholic Church it is my experience that the Roman Catholic Church is not true Christianity. It is a semi-Christian religion. I say this, because both Muslims and Jews equate the Roman Catholic Church with Christianity. Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity are technically two different religions.    

Islam’s Dispute with Christianity
As already mentioned in chapter one, some of the disputes Muslims have with Christians concerns the crucifixion of Jesus; the Trinity; the divinity of Jesus; Jesus being the Son of God; and the Bible as the Word of God.

The Bible versus the Koran: The Bible, Christians believe, is God’s written revelation of his will to men. It is the central theme of salvation through Jesus Christ. The reliability of the Bible is based on the evidence that the Bible contains 66 books, written by 40 authors, covering a period of approximately 1600 years. In contrast, the Koran was revealed to one man Muhammad, whose revelations, the Jews of his time, thought was the incoherent ramblings of a madman 9. The reliability of Muhammad’s revelations has always been suspect. At first he did not know who the being was that he had encountered. It was only after speaking to Waraqa the blind Christian Scholar that he became convinced that the being was the Angel Gabriel 1 & 6. Christians and Jews of that time, refused to believe that it was Gabriel that he had encountered. They were convinced that Muhammad had encountered a spirit-being referred to as Jinn. Muhammad himself had made references to Jinns on several occasions. Muhammad’s revelations contradicted many Bible stories and events 2, 5, 9.  

Muhammad’s life and conduct speaks volumes 8 & 10. His life-style; his taking of wives; his licence regarding sex with slaves captured in war; his licence to Muslim men to beat their wives; and his cruel forms of punishment for wrongdoers; and his wars and merciless killing of Jews must be seen in the light of his ministry 1, 6, 7, 8, 10. Muhammad gave his soldiers permission to have sex with women captured in battle. Women captured in war, were used as sex slaves and then sold when their masters tired of them. Muhammad gave his followers to marry four wives and have any number of slaves and concubines. He gave men the right to divorce their wives at any time. Muhammad took ten wives including a child bride (the 50 year old Prophet married Ayesha when she was six and the marriage was consummated when she turned nine). He married the divorced wife of his adopted son; and he married the wives of Jews he and his army killed in battle. The women had little choice. They could marry Muhammad and live a life of some comfort; or they could refuse and be sold into slavery. Muhammad could be pious and yet be cruel and vindictive. He dealt harshly with his enemies. He ordered the chopping of limbs and he executed a whole tribe of Jewish men captured in battle 2, 5, 9. Given these factors, there was nothing about the life of Muhammad or his newly found religion that Christians and Jews of his time found attractive. It was for this reason that both Jews and Christians rejected Muhammad as a prophet 5 & 9.              

Jesus Christ the Son of God: A fundamental belief of the Christian faith is that man has an inherited sinful nature. Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and all of mankind inherited this sin. The sin is assumed to be a sin of a sexual nature, in disobedience to the specific instructions of God. Both Judaism and Islam accept the theory of original sin in the Garden of Eden. God promised to send a redeemer to redeem mankind. Jesus Christ, the second Adam, called the Son of God was created by God for this very purpose. Jesus was born of a virgin, and he was sinless. He did not have a sinful inherited nature that is common to mankind. He was the perfect Lamb of God, without spot, blemish or wrinkle.

His birth was miraculous. He was born without the intervention of an earthly father. Because he has no biological earthly father, he is considered to be the spiritual Son of God. He is God’s Son in that God created him. Like Adam, Jesus was created. Because Adam was created by God, he was also called the son of God. God is a spirit, and “he is not a man that he should begat a son”. The Koran is correct in this regard. Jesus was not “begat” as men are naturally begotten (conceived) as a result of sexual union between a man and a woman. Jesus was created by God - therefore he is the spiritual Son of God. Why Muslims insist on placing a sexual connotation to this will never be fully understood. Perhaps, because Muhammad was sensual he understood things from a sensual sense and his views became weaved into the Koran. This proves to Christians that much of what is contained in the Koran did not come from God. It emanated from the thoughts of Muhammad.       

Jesus Christ was Crucified: Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of the world according to the will of God. He was born for that purpose. He died on the cross. He was brought down and placed in a tomb. He arose from the grave on the third day. He was seen by 500 of his followers. Some forty days later he ascended into heaven in the presence of some of his disciples. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is accepted as an historical fact. Some six hundred years later, when Muhammad pondered on this issue, he refused to accept that a prophet of God could be crucified. When the Koran states that Jesus was not crucified, this is not the word of God. It is the words of Muhammad, and Muhammad was wrong! Muhammad was not infallible. He was a man and men make mistakes. On many occasions Muhammad’s thoughts became Allah’s thoughts and found its way into the Koran.  

Jews and Christians are convinced that the Koran is not the Word of God. They believe that the Koran is made up of Muhammad’s thoughts and meditations. In many instances, Muhammad was not able to distinguish between his own thoughts and a revelation from God. With respect, Muslims need to accept that Christians and Jews do not believe that the Koran is the word of God. Muslim clerics and debaters need to understand that they cannot use what the Koran states to convince Christians, because Christians simply do not believe in the Koran. Christians believe that the salvation of Christians and mankind is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. If Jesus did not die and did not rise from the grave, Christians would not be Christians. Paul writes in Romans 6:3 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”

Doctrine of the Trinity: The Koran has some negative things to say about the Trinity. The Koran accuses Christians of “joining God with other Gods”. The term “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible. It is a term coined during the Nicene council. It refers to the three persons in the Godhead. This does not appear to be what the early Church taught. The early Christian Church in the first century was made up of Jewish believers who were uncompromisingly monotheistic.

Throughout the New Testament, writers make reference to God and to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. No reference is made to a triune God or to Jesus being God.  Although Jesus is called Lord, he is always referred to as the Son of God, never as the second person of the Godhead. In the four gospels Jesus refers to God as “my Father”, and refers to himself as the “Son of Man”. It was only in the fourth century that we see the concept of the Trinity emerging, and Jesus was added to the Godhead as the second person of the Trinity. It is believed by those who hold to this concept, that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are equal in substance and have always co-existed.

Since the fourth century, Jews and Muslims have been asking the following questions: How can Jesus be both Man and God? If Jesus was God why was he born - couldn’t he just come down from heaven instead of changing into a baby? How can God be born? How can God die? Jesus prayed to the Father – was he God praying to another God? How can one God be three persons co-existing together? If Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit how can God the Father be his father? The same questions are being asked of the Oneness (Jesus only) group. How can Jesus be his own father? Jesus was tempted by Satan, how can God be tempted by Satan? How can the Romans slap God and spit on him, and whip him and crucify him? Jesus in his flesh and blood make-up was not God, and yet, he was no ordinary man. He was the Son of God and the sinless “lamb” of God who came to take away the sins of the world. During his ministry on earth he manifested God, but he himself was not God. The Spirit of God was in him which made him appear divine. Monotheistic Christians love and worship Jesus as the Son of God but not as Yahweh God.

Footnotes and Sources

1. Ali, A.Y. 1946. The Holy Quran: English Translation. Durban: IPCI.
2. Anderson, N. 1990. Islam in the Modern World. London: Apollos
3. Deedat, A. 1995. The Choice: Islam or Christianity vol. 1 & 2. Durban: IPCI
4. Dowly, Briggs The History of Christianity. South Africa: Struik.
5. Guillaume, A. 1982.  Islam. London: Penguin Books
6. Lings, M. 1995. Muhammad. Cambridge, U.K: The Islamic Text Publishers
7. Pickthall, M.M. 1990. The Meaning of the Glorious Koran.  New Delhi. Taj Printers
8. Robson, J. 1981. Mishkat Al Masabih English Translation. Vol.1. Pakistan: M. Ashraff
9. Rodinson, M. 1971. Muhammad. Translated by Anne Carter. London: Penguin Books
10. Sahih Muslim. 1987. English Translation. Vol.1. Pakistan: Muhammed Ashraff.

No comments:

Post a Comment