Islam and the Incarnation
Part 3 of a Discussion on Islam
A “Lazarus Chronicles” Post
The Nature of God
Some people assume that all religions are alike: be good, be kind, behave. As much as some of those commands link many religions together, more often than not the details of each faith separate them.
The nature of God looms large in religion. It matters because different perceptions of God create different moral expectations. The gods of foreign nations in the Old Testament, for example, demanded child sacrifice and encouraged sexual promiscuity as part of their worship. Israel’s God denounced the immorality of both.
Gods in Our Own Image
A more subtle form of God is the one where humans make gods to suite their own desires: the preferred idolatry of our age. Although the Ten Commandments warned Israel not to make images of God, the real threat today is to make God out to be one who satisfies human desires: God made in our image. God warned Israel about the danger of thinking God was like humans (Psalm 50:21, “. . . you thought that I was just like you.”)
The Trinitarian Formula
The nature of God sets Christianity apart from other faiths and other perceptions of God. For example, though Islam claims to worship one God, the Incarnation of Christ is utterly anathema to their beliefs. Thus, one of the most cherished and important beliefs of Christianity puts Islam at odds with Christian teachings.
Islam began with the belief that there is only one God, and it still maintains the oneness of God. However, they hold to a belief that this one God, whom they call Allah, cannot have a son. They also reject any attempts to conceive of God in a Trinitarian formula or to even think that He could be human. The Incarnation differentiates the two religions.
A Not-So-Subtle Difference
There can be no doubt that the Trinitarian nature of God, revealed by Jesus, was a concept that took a long time to fully comprehend. In response to a disciple asking Jesus to show him the Father (God), Jesus said, “The one who has seen me has seen the Father,” (John 14:9).
Jesus even took upon himself the name God used to identify himself to Moses: I AM. In many other ways and words, Jesus made it clear that he was there when the world was created and was even the very agent along with the Father of all created things (Colossians 1:15-17).
Both God and Human
The fact that Jesus claimed to be both God and human shocked and amazed even the twelve Apostles. Such a belief still transcends our full comprehension. Christmas truly celebrates something astonishing.
You can decide which concept of God to believe. But if you go away from this writing and realize that Islam and Christianity have a different concept of God, you have accurate information to make your decision. Not only that, but if you celebrate Christmas, you have already made a choice. Celebrate it this week as more than just a time of gift-giving. Celebrate it because “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).