Don't Muslims and Christians Both Believe in Jesus?
“In a Muslim seminar, an Imam stated that both Christians and Muslims believe in Jesus, but of different faiths. What say you?”
Muslims are quick to emphasize that they, too, believe in Jesus. Their claim is correct. After all, the Quran alludes to Jesus in a favorable light several times (e.g., Surah 3:45-51; 5:110; 21:91; et al.). But this claim is misleading, since it fails to own up to the fact that Christianity and Islam are in hopeless contradiction with each other regarding the most crucial contention of New Testament Christianity: the divinity of Christ. On this solitary point, Islam and Christianity, the Bible and the Quran, can never agree. This disagreement is of such momentous import and great magnitude as to make the inexorable incompatibility permanent.
You see, while the Quran speaks favorably of Jesus as a prophet of God, it vehemently denounces the deity of Christ. For example, consider Surah 18:1-5 (as translated by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall)—
Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave…to give warning of stern punishment from Him…and to warn those who say: Allah hath chosen a son, (A thing) whereof they have no knowledge, nor (had) their fathers. Dreadful is the word that cometh out of their mouths. They speak naught but a lie.
And read Surah 19:88-93—
And they say: The Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a son. Assuredly ye utter a disastrous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins, that ye ascribe unto the Beneficent a son, when it is not meet for (the Majesty of) the Beneficent that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficient as a slave.
Or Surah 23:91—
Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him (also 25:2; et al.).
These references demonstrate that the Quran depicts Jesus as a mere man—a prophet like Muhammad—who was created by God like all other created beings (Surah 5:75; cf. 42:9,13,21). Indeed, when Jesus is compared to any of the prophets (listed as Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob), Allah is represented as stating: “We make no distinction between any of them” (Surah 2:136; 3:84). Though the Quran seems to accept the notion of the virgin conception (Surah 21:91), to attribute divinity to Jesus, or to assign to Jesus equal rank with God, is to utter a “dreadful” and “disastrous” thing—to formulate “nothing but a lie”!
Here, indeed, is the number one conflict between Islam and Christianity—the deity, person, and redemptive role of Christ. If Christ is Who the Bible represents Him to be, then Islam and the Quran are completely fictitious. If Jesus Christ is Who the Quran represents Him to be, then Christianity is baseless and blasphemous. On this point alone, these two religions can never achieve harmony. But the New Testament is very, very clear: the heart, core, and soul of the Christian religion is allegiance to Jesus Christ as God, Lord, and Savior. Jesus identified Himself as the “I AM” of the Old Testament (John 8:58; cf. 20:28-31). In Colossians, Paul forcefully affirmed regarding Jesus—
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (1:15-17). For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (2:9).
Such depictions of Jesus are frequent in the New Testament. Jesus was certainly a prophet, as the Quran affirms (Surah 4:163); but Jesus was not just a prophet. He was God in the flesh. In fact, oral confession of the deity of Christ is prerequisite to becoming a Christian (Romans 10:9-10). This singular point makes Christianity and Islam forever incompatible. One must be a Christian to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and yet one cannot be a Christian without believing in, and verbally confessing, the deity of Christ, and then being immersed into Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27). The Bible declares that Jesus was the final revelation of God to man (Hebrews 1:1-3). There have been no others.