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The Message of Islam vs. The Gospel of Jesus

The Message of Islam vs. The Gospel of Jesus

Questions about relations between Muslims and Christians continue to receive widespread attention; in particular, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”

Written by Don Carson, Graham Cole, Douglas Sweeney, Harold A. Netland | Thursday, March 31, 2016


There are some clear similarities between Christian and Muslim beliefs. For example, both Islam and Christianity are monotheistic religions that maintain the universe was created by God, that God has given humanity a special revelation, and that there will be a final judgment. But there are fundamental differences as well—differences that take us to the heart of the Christian gospel and the New Testament teachings about Jesus Christ.


Questions about relations between Muslims and Christians continue to receive widespread attention in the media and society at large. In particular, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” has become especially controversial among Christians in the United States. Responses have often been polarizing, with one side insisting the answer must be affirmative and the other vehemently denying this. But the question itself is highly ambiguous and conflates different issues in an unhelpful manner. Thus, rather than trying to answer directly whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, it’s more helpful to consider similarities and differences in the beliefs of Muslims and Christians, noting areas of both agreement and disagreement.

There are some clear similarities between Christian and Muslim beliefs. For example, both Islam and Christianity are monotheistic religions that maintain the universe was created by God, that God has given humanity a special revelation, and that there will be a final judgment.

But there are fundamental differences as well—differences that take us to the heart of the Christian gospel and the New Testament teachings about Jesus Christ. What follows is a very concise introduction to some aspects of Islam and Christianity, focusing on several significant points at which the Christian gospel is different from what Islam traditionally has maintained. Highlighting differences shouldn’t be taken as minimizing important similarities between the religions. Since the basic differences concern the core of the gospel, though, appreciation of similarities must be framed with awareness of the differences.

Islamic Origins

Islam emerged in the seventh century in what is today Saudi Arabia. The traditional account maintains that God revealed his will to Muhammad (AD 570?–632) in a series of revelations dictated by the angel Gabriel over roughly 20 years. These revelations, codified and put into writing after Muhammad’s death, compose the Qur’an, accepted by Muslims as the Word of God. The Qur’an is said to be God’s definitive revelation, the culmination of earlier revelations to numerous prophets, including Jews and Christians (called “People of the Book” in the Qur’an). Muhammad is said to be the last and greatest of the prophets.


Initially persecuted in Mecca, Muhammad moved to Medina and established a theocratic society that has served as a model for later Muslim communities. Muslims quickly conquered surrounding areas, so that within a century of the prophet’s death Muslims could be found not only throughout the Arabian Peninsula but also in southern France, Spain, North Africa, central Asia, and even in western China. Islam today is a genuinely global religion, with an estimated 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide, compared with roughly 2.4 billion Christians. Most live in Asia and Africa, with more than 50 percent of the world’s Muslims living in Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt.

The major division within Islam is between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims. Although there are some doctrinal differences between the branches, the division stems from violent struggles early on over the legitimate successor to Muhammad. About 85 percent of Muslims today are Sunni, and roughly 15 percent are Shi’ite. Indeed, Islam faces significant internal tensions as various factions struggle to define what it means to be Muslim in the 21st century. In addition to the tensions between Shi’ites and Sunnis, there are divisions between traditionalists (who resist accommodations to modernity) and progressives (who maintain that Islam is fully compatible with modern, democratic societies), as well as between various ethnic groups. Since the 1980s, radical Islamist movements have adopted global terrorism to promote their agendas.

Muslims are united in their belief in one God, the Qur’an as God’s revelation, and Muhammad as God’s final prophet. They find unity of practice in the Five Pillars: (1) the shahadah, or declaration of faith (“There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God”); (2) prayer five times daily; (3) almsgiving; (4) the fast of Ramadan; and, if possible, (5) pilgrimage to Mecca.

Islam and Love

Both Muslims and Christians affirm there is one God who is the creator of everything that exists (apart from God himself). But while Muslims and Christians agree to some extent on some of the divine attributes, they also have fundamental disagreements over the nature of God and what he expects from humanity.

For example, Muslims regard God as sovereign, merciful, and benevolent, but they generally don’t think of God as loving in the way the Bible speaks of his love. The Bible declares “God is love” (1 John 4:8,  16), and it’s because of his love for the world that he sent his Son to atone for sin (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). In turn, Christians are commanded to love God with their entire being, to love their neighbor (Matt. 22:34–40), even to love their enemies (Matt. 5:43–47).

The Qur’an, by contrast, never identifies God with love, nor does it command us to love God. Many Muslims would maintain that talk of God as love compromises his sovereignty, “humanizing” him and distorting what is transcendent. Christians maintain that although God is transcendent and sovereign, he is also personal and loving.

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Subject: August Report to the Council and BSCLN Development Board August

  1. Personal: Serving along with others on the Council and its Development Board has given me increasing pleasure and opportunities to speak highly of the BSCLN family and its faithfulness to the work of the churches we serve. The DB is continuing its work.
  2. Thanksgiving: To the Lord, for He has done great things; only His hand could bring together so many people and such committed effort to do this work at this time to advance bivocational and small church ministries!
  3. Gratitude: He alone gets to hand out the “well-done, my good and faithful servant;” but in the meantime, let me acknowledge appreciation to a bunch of our own folks: Ray and Diane Gilder, Joyce Byrd, members of the Coordinating Council and Development Board, and our new partners, Todd Heifner and Allan Burton.
  4. Accountability: The $49,140 of 3-year gifts and pledges by members of BSCLN Council demonstrates our ownership and support of the Advancing Vision. This is an exciting and substantial beginning. Joyce Byrd, our Treasurer, will soon be in touch with each one of us, one by one.
  5. Encouragement: We have reason to be humbled by the support BSCLN is receiving from a growing numbers of friends: such as Joe Brunson (who gave us a jump start), Tusculum Hills Baptist Church as the home of our BSCLN Center, First Baptist Church Nashville, TN Baptist Adult Homes. Five other development opportunities are now being pursued, so let us continue fervent prayer support.

Fall is so beautiful, but also is hard-working harvest time. The country preacher comes out in me to say it this way: “In the Lord’s field, and under Ray’s continued leadership, we will pursue the eight strategies we have identified in order to gather a return on the fruit of our labor to advance the ministries of bivocational and small churches.”

May the Lord find us faithful! Lloyd Elder

contact me at for information about placing an order.
This book was written by our National Coordinator for the BSCLN, Ray Gilder. Consider the Foreword by Dr.Jere Phillips, Ph. D., professor, Practical Theology at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. "Nearly half of all churches are served by bivocational ministers. If underfunded pastors were included (those ministers who depend on a wife's employment to help support the family), the percentage would be even greater.

These men are not part-time preachers, but serve their churches with their whole hearts and at the same time, diligently work at a second job, usually secular, in order to support their families. Without the sacrifice of these gallant ministers, thousands of churches would be unable to have a vocational minister. Bivocational ministers serve honorably and faithfully, although they often go unrecognized in the shadow of larger ministres.

These servants of God are humble, not craving the spotlight or demanding attention. Yet, they deserve our attention! We owe them respect and support. Because many of these ministers have been unable to pursue formal ministerial education, a major aspect of support involves encouragement and training. While many volumes fill the shelf of Christian bookstores regarding the general issues of pastoral ministries counseling, administration, evangelism, church growth, and other issues, few approach these tasks from the unique viewpoints of the bivocational minister.

Into this gap walks one of America's most effective leaders, a man who understands and loves bivocational ministers; a man who has walked where they walked, served where they serve, and lived where they live. Ray Gilder has earned a place among those modern giants of bivocational studies: Bill Neptune, Luther Dorr, Dale Holloway, Leon Wilson, and Doran McCarty.
This book mirrors Ray Gilder's easy-to-listen-to style. His personal touch can be seen on each page. These pages are full of practical advice and personal examples.

CLICK HERE to view the "NEW PBS VIDEO" on Bivocational Ministry

I encourage you to check out this great Bible study at one of the links. Terry Dorsett has written a Bible study on the Old Testament book of Malachi. The study shows how the announcements of coming judgment contain a thread of hope that helps Christians understand the refining process of adversity. Though learning how to recognize hope in the middle of difficulty can be hard, it is possible. The book is laid out in seven lessons which contain historical context, theological truth and practical application. It can be used individually, or as a small group study.

The Pattern Ministry
Master Page of Articles by Fred Hutto

God has laid out a MASTER PLAN for His Church;
this plan is "His Plan" and needs only to be followed.
Looking for the right direction in Leadership


Into Thy Word Ministries

(research from 1989 to 2006)
R. J. Krejcir Ph.D.
Francis A. Schaeffer
Institute of Church Leadership Development


Dr. Richard J. Krejcir

Statistics On Pastors
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"Baptist Press Article".

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Church Foreclosurers
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NewsletterVolume 8, Issue 2, February 1, 2011.
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by ADAM MILLER NAMB Communications

James Jenkins Louisiana Pastor Pictured standing on left.

Ray Gilder, National Coordinator's Corner

GoTo Words of Ray Master Page [CLICK HERE]

My Bivo Hero"
by Dr. Thomas A. Kinchen

Dan Mullins, Bivocational Pastor
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by Dan Mullins

"From Where I Stand"
"Southwestern Bivocational Library Opening"

by Dale Holloway

"The Bumps Are What You Climb On!"
by Warren Wiersbe

"7 yr. old singing "Amazing Grace""
by Rhema Marvanne