Recap: In November of 2014, Muslims were allowed to conduct their prayer service in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and we asked the question of whether this was the right thing to do or not. In Part 1 of this article we looked at:
1) God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
2) Who was and is charged with spreading God’s word to the world.
3) The Christian and Islamic Views of Jesus.
We’ll begin Part Two by seeing what Muslim theology teaches about Allah and their view that Ishamel, rather than Isaac, was the one chosen to receive the Abrahamic Covenant.
According to Muslims, Allah is the one and only true god. We also learn that the Muslims believe that Ishamel was chosen to receive the covenant, not Isaac:
Sura 1954. And make mention in the Scripture of Ishmael. Lo! he was a keeper of his promise, and he was a messenger [of Allah], a prophet.
Now let’s compare and contrast other differences.
How God told Christians to act toward others
Jesus made this statement, which I am sure, also covers those of other faiths:
Matthew 5:43-45: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
I myself do not believe this means that Christians should be pacifists when we see our beliefs in Jesus challenged, nor innocent people persecuted. Jesus was certainly aggressive toward those who corrupted Scripture or misused his house of worship, a subject we will look at below. He also defended a helpless, though admittedly quite imperfect woman from being stoned (John 8:3-11). I believe the idea was that we should not take revenge on those who have wronged us and leave that to God:
Romans 12:19: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
How Muslims were told to deal with Jews and Christians:
According to the Quran, which Muslims consider to be the true word of Allah (both the Old Testament and the New of the Bible are regarded as corrupted), Muslims are told to both to respect Christians and Jews in one place and to be hostile to them in other places. This seems schizophrenic, doesn’t it? First, here is a passage which tells Muslims to be tolerant of Jews and Christians:
Sura 2:62. Lo! Those who believe [in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad], and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans – whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.
The problem is, this is not the last word on the subject. An important thing to understand is that Muslims also believe in a concept called “abrogation,” in which older passages of the Quran can be superseded by later ones:
Sura 2:106. Nothing of our revelation [even a single verse] do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring [in place] one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things?
Even this verse seems to say one thing and then immediately contradict itself! This is not an isolated instance but the contradictions continue in the following passages which now abrogate the tolerance expressed above:
Sura 2:120. And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the Christians, till thou follow their creed. Say: Lo! the guidance of Allah [Himself] is Guidance. And if thou shouldst follow their desires after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, then wouldst thou have from Allah no protecting guardian nor helper.
Sura 2:135. And they say: Be Jews or Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say [unto them, O Muhammad]: Nay, but [we follow] the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters.
Sura 3:67-69 Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered [to Allah], and he was not of the idolaters. Lo! those of mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who believe [with him]; and Allah is
the Protecting Guardian of the believers. A party of the People of the Scripture long to make you go astray; and they make none to go astray except themselves, but they perceive not.
Sura 2: 193. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.
Sura 5:54. O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is [one] of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.
Sura 9: 5. Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them [captive], and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
Sura 9: 30. And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah [Himself] fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
Needless to say, the theological differences between Christians and Muslims are huge!
You’ve probably been wondering if or when I was ever going to get back to the topic of whether allowing Muslims to worship at what is supposed to be a Christian cathedral is appropriate and by now you may have already figured out where I stand. What I did want to do was to first provide the background so you could think about this and come to your own conclusions.
That being said, in my view, there is just no way to harmonize the fundamental differences between Christian and Islamic beliefs, starting right at the fact that from all indications, Allah is certainly not the God revealed in the Bible.
The next question to consider is which of the two, the Bible, or the Quran, reliably reveals God’s Word to humanity. One possibility is that both are wrong. The other alternative is that one, and only one of them, is correct because the fundamental contradictions between the two prevent them from both being correct.
As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the true Word of the True God for these two main reasons:
1) Jesus himself often referred to or quoted Scripture from the Hebrew Bible (Matthew 15:7-9; 21:42; 22:35-40; 24:15-16 are just a few examples), which is the Christian Old Testament. Since I believe he is not only God’s Son but God Incarnate (John 1:1-14) and also the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), this gives the Old Testament the approval of God himself!
2) Regarding the reliability of the books of the New Testament, they were written by people who either knew Jesus first-hand and were eyewitnesses of the events of the events they recorded (e.g. John, Matthew, Peter), or directly knew those who were and used them as a source of their accounts (e.g. Mark, Luke, Paul). Their testimonies clearly record Jesus’ birth, teachings, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension all occurring in real places in the Holy Land.
On the other hand, Mohammed lived six centuries later and said that Jesus was only a human prophet. So, we can choose either to believe the multiple accounts of those who were alive in Jesus’ times or a singular account from a man who lived was six centuries later. Which strikes you as the more reliable?
There are no doubt well-intentioned Christians who believe that Jesus “welcomed all,” and feel they should do likewise, even to the point of opening the doors of a Christian church to an alien faith. The reality is that Jesus had his harshest condemnation toward those he considered were desecrating God’s Word or his House of Prayer.”
In Matthew 23 we see how he excoriated the members of the religious hierarchy which distorted Scriptural teachings and deliberately misled people in so doing. In Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46, we see how he dealt with lay people that were defiling the Temple by turning it into a marketplace. It is therefore reasonable to assume that both clergy and lay people are likewise called to honor God’s Word and places of worship 2000 years later.
Therefore, in my opinion, to allow another supposed god, Allah, to be worshipped in any church that is supposed to be a house of prayer only for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his Son, Jesus, is nothing more than a complete abdication of those in authority that church, clergy and laity alike. Nor do I think it appropriate for a Christian to pray in a mosque, thus by his or her presence condoning the worship of a god that is not the true God of Scripture something that is in direct violation of the First Commandment.
Perhaps the most troubling thing of all about what happened at the National Cathedral is that the people in charge should have known better and apparently did not. Projecting this growing lack of discernment ahead to the future, I have no doubt that when the Antichrist walks into the restored temple proclaiming himself to be “God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) whatever passes for the church at that time will welcome him with open arms due to its complete spiritual blindness.