In a theological assessment of the two faiths, the three points above identify the determinative issue. Jesus taught that those who reject him, by that one and the same act reject the God who sent him. Thus it appears inescapable that in its repudiation of God’s Son-centered gospel, Islam as a religion places itself under Christ’s verdict. This verdict is a hard saying—Jesus specialized in hard sayings—but it is one we dare not shy away from. It’s a verdict every Christian should hope and pray every Muslim is given the opportunity to weigh.
Instead, because of these warnings, both Jews and Christians have shown greatcare in making copies of their Scriptures through the centuries. Work waschecked repeatedly, counting numbers of words and letters on each page, andproofreading each page to make sure no changes occurred. So why would theydeliberately change their Scriptures just to disprove Islam?
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In addition, many of these books were originally written by Europeansduring the 19th century and use the term 'Mohammedan'to refer to Muslims (by analogy with 'Buddhist,' 'Christian' etc.)Most Muslims deprecate this term today because the founder of Islamis considered a human prophet, rather than an entity to be worshipped, as theterm could be taken to imply.
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Christians affirm each of these biblical claims about Jesus, while Islam rejects them. This is the decisive difference between these two faiths. All the other differences stem from this one.
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It is this gospel that informs the gaping divide between Christianity and Islam. Christianity recognizes, embraces, and proclaims this Son-centered plan and the triune God it reveals to all who will hear. Islam repudiates this Son-centered plan and the divine triunity it reveals and substitutes a dramatically different proposal in its place. If our goal is to compare Christianity and Islam, this is the difference we need to grasp.
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When we shift to a missiological context, on the other hand, the sameness issues loom larger. If our goal is a better understanding of Islam in general or of our Muslim friends and neighbors in particular, areas of sameness become relevant. Following the classic lead of the apostle Paul on Mars Hill, not to mention the wisdom of those with a lifetime of experience in a Muslim context, building bridges is often helped by emphasizing points of contact. And there are more contact points between Islam and Christianity than many Christians seem to realize. For example, Nabeel Qureshi, author of the best-selling Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, says in his latest book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward, that as a boy being raised in a strict Muslim family he was taught that the God Muslims worship was:
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The decisive issue between Islam and Christianity is, quite simply, the gospel—the Bible’s account of what God has done, is doing, and will yet do through his Son to redeem his creation. It is this “good news” story of the Creator’s eternal, Son-centered plan of redemption that reveals to us who our Creator truly is. This gospel story is the watershed issue that exposes the dramatic difference between Islam and Christianity. It is not until this difference is grasped that the question of what Christianity and Islam may or may not hold in common can even be addressed.
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Yet it is critical to remember that this is a missiological, not a theological consideration. We must not confuse or conflate these two contexts. Points of theological similarity between Christianity and Islam can be useful in friendship or missionary settings, but citing these points as if we think they actually count for something with God apart from the gospel is a grave mistake.