Several issues ago Banner Editor Bob De Moor wrote about his church’s positive encounter with two devout Muslims (“In All Honesty,” November 2010). That experience stands in sharp contrast to how others who practice Islam have treated Christians and their worship spaces—for a recent example, note the violence in Nigeria.
Let’s not gloss over our serious historical, scriptural, theological, and philosophical differences.
Historically, little has been mentioned about the hundreds of thousands of Christians who were massacred, forced to convert to Islam, placed in an economically and culturally enslaved condition, or had their church buildings destroyed or taken over. Most of the Crusades were efforts to throw back the Islamic empire and secure the church in the Middle East.
Scripturally, we hold that all truth is God’s truth. John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is the truth. And Jesus challenges us to “teach the way of God in accordance with the truth” (Matt. 22:16). Do we?
Scripture also teaches that there will be those who, “by their wickedness will suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18). Does Islam fall under that heading? One of the principle teachings of Islam is to NOT have to tell the truth to nonbelievers! If the truth shall set us free, perhaps it would be wise to consider Islam not as it is taught to groups of Christians by Muslims, but rather how it has been forced on Christians and others of all spiritual backgrounds.
Theologically a wide gulf exists between Reformed Christianity and Islam, a chasm that only Jesus Christ can bridge. No amount of theological gymnastics can diminish the differences between the doctrines of Islam and the Christian doctrines of God’s grace, assurance of salvation, forgiveness, mercy, and love.
Then there are our philosophical differences. Because Sharia is Islam’s rule of law and because Islam was founded as an empire state, there are fundamental differences between what Muslims and Christians believe. The all-encompassing influence of Sharia involves all of culture. Nothing within Islam commends that foundation for our learning and growth as God’s children. We would do well to look to our own Calvinist roots to begin to better understand the world within which we live.
For those who desire a more in-depth discussion of Islam, I recommend Rev. Marvin Heyboer, who offers an excellent two-day seminar on the topic (firstname.lastname@example.org).