Compare and Contrast Muslim and Christianity
In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to compare and contrast Muslim beliefs and Christianity. Since September 11th, most media coverage has focused more on the similarities rather than the differences. The basic beliefs of Muslim peoples focus on good works in order to earn Allah's favor and someday enter heaven; Christians also believe in doing good and not evil. However, there are also many disparities that define these two worldviews into very different spheres. In God in the Pits: the Enron-Jihad Edition, Mark Ritchie records a conversation he had in Afghanistan with a former Muslim who concisely cuts to the heart of these differences:
When we got into our vehicle and out of earshot of anyone who could have overheard us, he asked me if there would be a missionary coming who would replace my father. This question took me by surprise, because there are not now nor have there ever been missionaries in Afghanistan.
"My father was not a missionary," I said to him, "and he'll be replaced by an engineer, not a missionary. It seems most strange for you to be making this kind of inquiry."
"Your father has been teaching me from the Bible," he told us I drove him to his house.
"Not unless you asked him to," I replied. It was strictly forbidden for any foreigner in Afghanistan to do anything to "Christianize" an Afghan. He told me how, as a student of Western civilization, he had read about the Reformation and the arguments put forward by Erasmus and Luther on the issue of justification by faith in Jesus Christ-not by the Church's system of works.
How did 9/11 Affect Muslims?
"When I read it," he said, "I knew that this was the true way. Doing good works is one of the main tenets of Islam; without good works a person could never get to heaven. But anyone who has really tried to be good knows himself well enough to know he could never be good enough. So I became a believer in Jesus Christ. And I asked your father to help me understand more about it."
I had to admit; this was a new one on me. I had never before heard of anyone being converted to Christianity by reading a history textbook. Just wait till the publishers hear about this, I thought, while our car bounced through the narrow side streets of Herat. I could just see the headlines: MUSLIM READS HISTORY BOOK-CONVERTS-DIPLOMATIC SCANDAL BREWS. This could make a textbook writer's head roll.
The "Golden Rule" vs. Islam
Once again I found myself surprised. The remote carpenter from Galilee had written his signature so powerfully across history that I found a Muslim in the farthest corner of the globe who came to the same conclusion about him as I had. It had taken me years of study to become convinced that the carpenter was God. Meanwhile, this man, raised in a Muslim home, saw it after one chapter in a Western Civ textbook.
On reflection, I wondered why I should be so surprised. Isn't this what anyone might expect to find if the itinerant preacher from Nazareth was as he claimed to be, the creator of the universe? "The engineer who finishes the construction on the hospital may know something about the Bible," I told him, "but exactly how much I can't say."
"He won't know as much as your father."
"That's probably true," I said. "Do you have a Bible?"
"Yes," he told us. "I read it all the time."
"You can learn God's way by reading the scriptures, quite apart from having someone teach you formally," I told him as we arrived at his home.
Excerpt from God in the Pits, The Enron-Jihad Edition, by Mark Andrew Ritchie
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