By Ric Llewellyn

FOR CENTURIES, Christians have recognized Islam as a false religion. Until recently Muslims (or Mohammadans as they have been known in the past) have been the focus of evangelistic outreaches. But today many people are considering Islam from a more ecumenical point of view. It is often said that Christians, Jews, and Muslims are worshipping the same God, but in different ways. Muslims have capitalized on this misconception and now urge Christians and Jews to worship the one God with them, and work together for solutions to the world's many social problems. It is important to know some of the history and false doctrines of Islam, and to reject the new approach of this fast growing religion.

Islam began about 600 A.D. in what is modern Saudi Arabia. Muhammad, the "prophet" of Islam, received what is purported to be a revelation from God. This revelation is known as the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam. From its dubious beginnings, Islam has grown to approximately a billion adherents worldwide. For centuries Islam has exerted a great deal of influence over the people of the Middle East and Africa, even dominating southern Europe for a time. Today Islam is endeavoring once again to have a significant influence upon the culture and society of the Western World.

The new image Islam is trying to present in the West is a far cry from the fanaticism and violence advocated by many Muslim leaders. Nevertheless, the devotion of Muslims in the West to Islamic principles is as uncompromising as any in the world. The presentation of Islam in Europe and North America is characterized by intellectualism rather than emotionalism. The irrational religious frenzy by which Islam has become recognized worldwide is covered by a facade of civility. Yet, Muslims around the world concur that Islamic laws and principles take precedence over the decency and morality of civilization.

No matter how intellectual, civilized, or scientific Islam is made to appear, it is still a religion which embodies "another gospel.- which is not another" (Gal. 1:6-7). The Lord declares it accursed (Gal. 1:8). Christians must be prepared to present the one true Gospel of salvation to Muslims, desiring that they be delivered from their religious bondage.

The most important thing for Christians to know when confronted with the teachings of a false religion is the Truth. It cannot be too forcefully stated that Christians must know the Scriptures. In evangelism, therefore, we must know the Evangel.

Our message to Muslims is that they, like all men, are lost. All are naturally at enmity with God (Ps.14:2-3; Jn. 3:36b; Eph. 2:1-3). There is no good in us that can merit God's favor and there is no good we can do to endear ourselves to Him (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:12, 19-20; Titus 3:5). But, being lost and unable to effect our own salvation, God did all that is required to reconcile men to Himself. Christ bore our sin, died on the Cross shedding His Blood as a completely propitious sacrifice for sin, and He rose again bodily from the dead. Believing this testimony and wholly trusting Jesus Christ for salvation is all that is necessary to be saved (1 Cor. 15:1-41, Rom. 5: 1, 6-9; Col. 1:12-22; 2 Cor. 5:18-21).

The "gospel" of Islam is something quite different. Similar to many modern cults, Islam claims to revere the writings of all the prophets. Yet, Muslims unequivocally subjugate the Scriptures to the "prophecy" of Muhammad.

A leaflet prepared by the Institute of Islamic Information and Education titled "Introducing Islam to Non-Muslims" states, "Muhammad is the very last Prophet of God to mankind. He is the final Messenger of God. His message was and is still to the Christians, the Jews and the rest of mankind. He was sent to those religious people to inform them about the true mission of Jesus, Moses, David, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham."

The leaflet continues, "Muhammad is considered to be the summation and the culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him. He purified the previous messages from adulteration and completed the Message of God for all humanity. He was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting and living the teachings of the Qur'an."

Believers must recognize that Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Charles T. Russell (Jehovah's Witnesses), Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science), and Ellen G. White (Seventh Day Adventism) have all claimed that same transcendent authority. And along with these, Muhammad was the bearer of wicked doctrines that have plunged many into the outer darkness of eternal torment.

Among the insidious doctrines of Islam is the rejection of the doctrine of imputation. "Introducing Islam to Non-Muslims" explains, "Muslims believe that people are born free of sin. It is only after they reach the age of puberty, and it is only after they commit sins that they are to be charged for their mistakes. No one is responsible for or can take the responsibility for the sins of others."

First, this is a denial of the Biblical teaching that all mankind sinned in Adam, that is, Adam's sin has been imputed to the whole human race (Rom. 5.12-14). Second, this is a denial of the Biblical teaching that the sin of man is imputed to Christ, that is, Christ became sin for us on Calvary's Cross (2 Cor. 5:21). Third, this is a denial of the Biblical teaching that the righteousness of God is imputed to men upon believing, that is, believers possess the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21;Rom. 5:15-19).By denying these truths which are fundamental to the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone, Islam has laid the groundwork for a "gospel" of self righteousness and salvation by works.

The Bible teaches that salvation is NOT a reward. Heaven is the eternal abode of those who have received Christ the Saviour. Islam teaches that salvation is indeed a reward for a life of relative piety and righteousness. The Qur'an states, "Then those whose scales are heavy, they are successful. And those whose scales are light are those who lose their souls…" In fact, Muslims are encouraged to "vie with one another to attain to your Sustainer's forgiveness and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which awaits the God-conscious, who spend for charity in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and restrain their anger, and pardon their fellow men, for God loves those who do good."

From these denials of fundamental Biblical teachings and the establishment of a religion of self righteousness follows the Islamic repudiation of the Saviour. The following is so important to Islam that it was printed in very bold type in the leaflet "Prophethood in Islam"--"The Quranic account of Jesus emphatically rejects the concept of his 'Divinity' and 'Divine Sonship…" The Institute of Islamic Information and education publishes a leaflet entitled "Is Jesus Really God?" In it they totally reject the Biblical teaching that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh.

Nevertheless, the Word is plain: "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16). Jesus is the self existent I AM (Jn. 8:58). The Creator dwelled as a man among men (Jn. 1:1-3, 14). Jesus Christ is the Forgiver of sin (Lk. 5.20-21). In short, the Son and the Father are one (Jn. 10:30). The Lord Jesus Christ said to the religious of His day who rejected His deity, :... if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (Jn. 8:24).

Islam unashamedly rejects these truths which comprise the Gospel. While many people today say that Christians and Muslims worship the "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, HATH NOT GOD" (2 Jn.9). An even greater condemnation is pronounced by God in verse seven. Denying the doctrine of Christ reveals Islam as a deception and an antichrist religion. The Qur'an has substituted false doctrines which present another gospel. Islam purports to be "the way of peace," but the end of Islam is the way of death. Bible-believers must not yield these eternally important points merely because Islam claims to esteem the patriarchs and the prophets. It is our responsibility to testify to the Truth, even as we cry out against the error of any false religion.

It is important for God's people to be aware of the fact that many so-called Christians are willing to compromise the Truth of God's Word in the interest of building bridges with various religions. Islam seems to be asserting itself in the area of religious dialogue, and men and women who claim to represent Christianity are quickly building the credibility of Islam as a true religion. Instead of witnessing, Christians are encouraged to discover common ground with Muslims. Rather than exposing its errors, Christians are told to search for the truth in Islam. Thus, Islam is gaining a respectability that is simply not deserved.

While "Christians" are manifesting their "open mindedness," Muslims aye spreading their false religious propaganda under the cover of dialogue. Muslims believe that all mankind must be brought into subjection to the spurious teachings of the Qur'an in order to experience peace and blessing. They will not compromise that belief. Muslims believe that the doctrine of the Incarnation of God is blasphemy. They will not compromise that belief. Muslims believe that Muhammad is the prophet who fully revealed the final truth. They will not compromise that belief. Muslims are "devoted to their ideals,... and uncompromising with falsehood" ("Moral System of Islam"). Only the glorious, liberating light of the one true Gospel will be able to break through such darkness.

Although those who practice Islam profess "to respect all those who are faithful and God conscious people," it is their contention that the one true religion is Islam. Muslims trace the "true religion" from Abraham through Ishmael, but the Bible absolutely contradicts this notion. Genesis 17:15-21 makes it clear that God rejected Ishmael, con6rming the covenant blessings--including the fulfillment of the true religion to Isaac alone. In chapter 21 Hagar and Ishmael are cast out of Abraham's house with the sanction of God, "Let it not be grievous in thy sight" (v. 12).

Galatians chapter three deals with this subject of the true religion and directly references the events of Genesis 17 and 2 1. Galatians 3:8 says, "And the scripture, farseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." The promise of salvation for Jew and Gentile was prophesied to come through the seed of Abraham. Verse 16 clearly relates the true religion, the only Gospel, to the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 17:15-21: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. [God] saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." The Gospel preached to Abraham was the Gospel of Christ delivered through Isaac, not the gospel of Islam delivered through Ishmael.

Islam claims to be a religion of peace and tolerance. It is, in fact, characterized by instability and religious bigotry. It is our duty to stand for the Gospel and against all other gospels. Islam has rejected the essential teachings of the Word of God. The "prophet" Muhammad brought a message from a false spirit that totally opposes the Gospel of grace. The message of Islam is a curse, not a blessing.

Islam is being presented as a practical, modern religion though it holds its adherents in spiritual bondage. Christians must be diligent to witness to-not dialogue with Muslims. This is God's way of presenting the glorious light of the Gospel. There is only one true religion. It was prophesied in the Garden of Eden, typified in the days of Noah, confirmed to Abraham and Isaac, and realized in Jesus Christ.

Fundamental Evangelistic Association P. 0. Box 6278, Los Oscs, CA 93412