What Should Christians Know About Islam?

Greg Strand – June 10, 2013 Leave a comment

With the growth of Islam, it is important that we know and understand what Muslims believe and how those beliefs differ from Christianity.

Zane Pratt serves as an associate professor of Christian missions at Southern Seminary. He has helpfully listed “ten things I learned about Islam during my 20 years as a missionary in a Muslim-majority country that I think every Christian should know.”

  1. “Muslim” and “Arab” are not the same thing. Muslim is a religious term. A Muslim is someone who adheres to the religion of Islam. Arab is an ethnolinguistic term. An Arab is a member of the people group who speak the Arabic language.
  2. The word “Islam” means submission. A Muslim is someone who submits to God. . . based on the teaching of Muhammad. Thus, the Islamic creed is: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.”
  3. There are two major denominations of Muslims. Sunni and Shi’a. Sunnis are the majority, at 85% of all Muslims.
  4. Islamic theology could be summarized as belief in one God, his prophets, his books, his angels, his decrees and the final judgment. . . The need of humanity, therefore, is not salvation but instruction, so Islam has prophets but no savior.
  5. Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet. . . However, it explicitly denies the deity of Christ. It repudiates the title “Son of God” as blasphemous. It also (according to the majority view) denies that he died on the cross, claiming that the visage of Jesus was imposed on someone else, who was then crucified, and that Jesus was taken up into heaven without tasting death.
  6. Islamic practice can be summarized by the Five Pillars of Islam. These comprised of the confession of faith (“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet”), prayer (the ritual prayers said in Arabic five times a day, while facing Mecca and going through the prescribed set of bowings, kneeling and prostrations), alms (taken as a tax in some locally Islamic countries), fasting (the lunar month of Ramadan, during which Muslim believers fast during daylight hours but can eat while it is dark) and pilgrimage (the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim believer should make once in his or her lifetime).
  7. The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists. . . . It is a small minority view that allows these things, and it is a small minority who engage in terrorist activities.
  8. Muslims can be some of the friendliest, most hospitable people on earth. . . . No Christian should be afraid to build a relationship with a Muslim.
  9. Muslims need salvation through Jesus Christ. They are lost exactly like any other non-Christian, neither more nor less than anyone else. Furthermore, Muslims do come to faith in Jesus Christ. . . . more Muslims are coming to faith today than at any point in history.
  10. God loves Muslims, and so should we — even those few who are our enemies. We should love them enough to befriend them, love them enough to make them welcome in our homes and love them enough to share the gospel with them.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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