BEYOND MORALITY Glenn W. Harrell 12-15
In at least one facet, Christianity and Islam are brothers in arms. Morality—they each believe in moral standards described and prescribed from an ancient book. This is much like the Catholic and Protestant connection on moral matters such as abortion and homosexuality. They find themselves in agreement in the doctrine, if not the application as well. Beyond morality, however, the conflicts of belief and practice most often create divide and, if need be for some, war. Christian theology places belief and faith at the core of transformation, to the extent that “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” A Muslim will most always place acts of obedience to their law as dominant over belief in dogma and doctrine.
To become a Muslim, one makes a declaration,
“There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” –the Shahadah
The remaining four pillars are:
2-Ritual Prayer (Salat) Five times per day at sunrise, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, night
3-Almsgiving (Zakat) Two and one half percent given to the needy
4-Fasting (Sawm) during Ramadan
5-Pilgrimage (Hajji) once in a life trip to Mecca if possible
To become a Christian, one must accept Jesus Christ and place their faith in Him- A right given, not earned by or lost in morality.
“Some people accepted Him and put their faith in Him, so He gave them the right to be the Children of God.” (John 1:12)
“You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Plant your roots in Christ, and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
“Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them forever.” (John 3:36)
These are but three verses from the bible that affirm Jesus, not only as God with abilities to forgive, but also a member of the Trinity. Such beliefs and actions are abhorrent to the Muslim who must believe Jesus to be a mere prophet and a minor messenger as compared to Muhammed who is considered the final major messenger. Further, Muslim scholars teach that the bible is corrupted beyond repair and replaced by the Qur’an as a final revelation from Allah, superseding all else.
So, you can see, beyond agreement on the need for moral purity and right conduct that matches professions (orthopraxy), there is nothing to provide potential that Muslims and Christians could qualify for Allah or God, heaven or hell by the same standards and requirements. Hope for eternal security follows the same path of distinct at-odd-ness. For the Muslim, their insecure potential for entrance into heaven is wholly dependent upon their “good/bad” behavior. “Then those whose balance of good deeds is heavy will attain salvation, but those whose balance is light will have lost their soul and abide in Hell forever.” (Sura 23:102-103)
It is easy to see how fundamentalists in both faiths could fight and war in defense of their belief—sadly, how they still do.
For the Christian, security is in our belonging, not our behavior. “My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand.” –Jesus (John 10:27-28) Born again Christians rest, not in their own goodness, but in the Sacrifice of Christ, whose perfection becomes their own in the view of God. Moral awareness and practice for the Christian are symptomatic of a new birth in which Christ resides in the believer. Good works follow Christians as a natural matter of course because it is God doing them in and through such children. God himself wants the glory for these deeds and is displeased when any of his children try to take credit not belonging to them. “You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. God planned for us to do good things, and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) Works follow, not create salvation.
A PRESIDENT WHO IS A PRACTICING MUSLIM? No, according to presidential candidate Ben Carson. Why would he and others hold this belief that sent gasping unbelief throughout the unsuspecting media? Besides the polar differences from Christianity, orthodox Islam practice is intrinsically at odds with pluralism as well. “The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation and power in this world that tries to get in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy.” Bernard Lewis, (The Crisis of Islam) Islam is a religion, a community, a universal law and a social governance, all at once. Cries of “separation of church and state” are meaningless in an Orthodox conservative/fundamentalist Muslim nation. Free speech anyone?
A Muslim president of the United States of America, as we know it today, would have to be quite liberal, if not Muslim in name only. America’s extreme moral laxness alone is cause for Shari’a law and conflict enough to incite such recourse as the means of correction. (See Europe) And we haven’t begun to entwine the impossible schism of Sunni and Shi’a beliefs. A Muslim president would have the distinct ability to quote from the Qur’an, calls to peace as well as declarations of violence with equal justification. Christianity has no president and there is no such thing as a “Christian Nation”, or a “Christian President” for that matter. We have had presidents who professed to be “Christian” but that is altogether different. Their faith must not demand moral behavior or attempt to enforce it by religious threat, legislation, stigma and human punishment, unless existing laws are violated, then enforced. As distasteful and damaging as sin is to us all, we cherish the freedom to make our personal mistakes and account for them as we must. No law or religious decree from Islam or Christianity can stop the human heart from evil practice. The hand of a thief may be severed and yet he can remain covetous at heart. Beyond morality, the heart must be transformed, and Christ Jesus can do this.