With the recent attacks in Paris and a similar catastrophe in Germany thwarted just days later, some have been asking, “What is the difference between the Bible and the Qur’an? Both contain calls to violence, don’t they?” Both do indeed have teachings about violence, but there is a significant difference between the two.
Muslims consider the Qur’an to be the eternal word of Allah. That is, it existed in its entirety from eternity past before it was revealed through the prophet Muhammad. The text, as well as other sayings found in the Hadith, indicate that the Muslim must be prepared to commit acts of violence against non-Muslims. Many Muslims around the world practice Islam peacefully, and I have had the privilege of meeting some of them. Still, we cannot escape the fact that those who adhere faithfully to the Qur’an are charged to establish Islam as a universal religion, using violence if necessary. Comments from high-profile imams, especially those in Europe where numbers favor Muslims, make this point abundantly clear.
What of the Old Testament? Does it not also include episodes of violence? Yes it does – but it is in the form of a report, not a command to go and do likewise. This is the essential difference between the Bible and the Qur’an: the former preaches an ethic of love, the latter pushes an ethic of submission and control.
Christians have no biblical basis to commit acts of violence in Christ’s name; instead, we wage a spiritual war (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-20). Jesus said to go out and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20), but there is no hint that Christians are to do so using coercion or violence. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Islam. While not every Muslim will agree that worldwide control is their ultimate goal, it is written into their sacred texts (Sura 9:33; 48:28; 61:4-9, 13).
The attacks in Paris, and others around the world, demand our attention. It is a reminder that our task is not finished. We do not raise the sword, but rather lift our voices in prayer for those who have been duped by a false religion. We must be prepared to show that Jesus came to this earth to die for humanity’s sins and that his life and mission are historical realities. We must be willing to render aid to our worldwide neighbors who have been displaced by terrorists. Above all else, we should be ever-vigilant, looking for opportunities to show others why a risen Savior is so much better than a dead prophet.
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