Islam and Roman Catholicism
we all struggle to understand the terror and tragedy of September
11th, many are now asking questions about the religion of Islam.
Clearly, the evidence points to Islamic fundamentalists as the
perpetrators of this horrifying attack on America. A close look at the
Koran, a book Muslims believe to be the word of God, reveals some
possible motivations for the suicide mission of the hijackers. But
first, we must clear up some common misconceptions. Muslims, Jews and
Christians do not worship the same God. "Whoever denies the
Son does not have the Father" (1 John 2:23).
"Islam" does not mean "peace." It means
"submission" to Allah. The word for peace in Arabic is
"salam" not "islam." Islam has been
a religion of conversion by force ever since its founder Muhammad rode
into Mecca on a stallion with a sword in the 7th century. The Koran
calls Muslims to participate in a jihad or a holy war against
the enemies of Islam. Those who die for the cause of Allah are the
only Muslims who are guaranteed paradise. "Think not of those who
are slain in God’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their
sustenance in the presence of their Lord" (Surah 3:169). The
Muslims who crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were
engaged in a holy war against America. They gave up their lives
believing they were assured of paradise.
While the majority of Muslims may not embrace terrorism, an estimated 15% are militant fundamentalists who are bent on world dominion. Their world consists of two groups of people—"true Islam" and "infidels." Infidels are unbelievers of Islam, including those who profess Jesus is God (Surah 5:17). According to the Koran Muslims are to "make war on the infidels who dwell around you" (Surah 9:122). "Kill them wherever you find them...if they attack you put them to the sword...Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme...If any one attacks you, attack him as he attacked you" (Surah 2:190-4). "When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them" (Surah 9:5). Ever since the end of the Gulf War, Muslims have been outraged with the presence of "infidel" troops based in the "holy" land of Saudi Arabia. This explains their anger toward America, which they call the "Great Satan."
Considering how Islam is so opposed to Christianity, we find it fascinating that the Vatican has included the Muslims in their plan of salvation (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], para. 841). Nearly 50 years ago, Roman Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen predicted that Islam would be converted to Catholicism "through a summoning of the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God." He reasoned, "The Koran...has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and also in her Virgin Birth. Mary, then, is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady." 1 More recently in a 1998 message to Islamic leaders, Pope John Paul II declared a unity of spirit already exists. He said, "There remains a spiritual bond which unites us and which we must strive to recognize and develop." At first glance, unity between Muslims and Catholics seems very unlikely but after a closer examination of the two religions we find much in common. Like Islam, Roman Catholicism has also offered spiritual inducements to those who put Christians to death. The Vatican offered plenary indulgences (the remission of punishment for sin) to those who killed "heretics." Those who died in such battles were offered immediate entrance into heaven. Other similarities between the two religions include the following:
The Bible is Insufficient and Corrupted
• Islam includes the Koran as the Word of God and declares the Bible is corrupt because the words of Jesus have been corrupted (Surah 2:75-79).
• Roman Catholicism includes its tradition as the Word of God by pronouncing, "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God" (CCC, 97). Thus the Word of God becomes corrupted by the traditions of men.
Salvation by Works
• Muslims have five obligations: 1) publicly recite the Shahadah—"There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah"; 2) offer prayers fives times a day while facing Mecca; 3) give alms; 4) fast during the month of Ramadan to include abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sexual relations during daylight; and 5) make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. Allah will judge the deeds of all Muslims on the scale of absolute justice. The weight of their good deeds must exceed their bad deeds to avoid hell and gain heaven. Every soul shall be paid in full what it has earned.
• Catholics have eight obligations: 1) baptism; 2) love God and neighbor; 3) obey God’s commandments; 4) receive the sacraments; 5) pray; 6) do good works; 7) preserve God’s friendship until death; and 8) have faith. 2 Catholics "obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ" (CCC, 1821). Catholics are taught, "We can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life" (CCC, 2027).
Purification is Necessary
• Muslims who purify themselves receive paradise as a reward. "Gardens of Eternity... such is the reward of those who purify themselves" (Surah 20:76).
• Catholics "who die...imperfectly purified... undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of God" (CCC, 1054).
No Savior or Assurance of Salvation
• Islam has no savior, no grace and no means of divine forgiveness. Muslims can never know if their works will be judged favorably.
• Roman Catholicism has no savior that is sufficient to save sinners completely. Catholic salvation is conditional and is based on what each Catholic does for God instead of what God has done. Purgatory and indulgences are necessary because the "Catholic Jesus" is unable to save completely.
Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice Rejected
• Islam teaches that Jesus Christ was neither crucified nor resurrected. Therefore, salvation is not possible through Christ.
• Catholicism denies that the crucifixion of Jesus was sufficient to pay the complete punishment for sin. Rome also denies His atoning sacrifice was finished. Because of this erroneous teaching, Catholics are obligated to participate in the work of their redemption, which continues daily as "another Jesus" is presented on Catholic altars, as a sacrificial victim for sin (CCC, 1367, 1414).
Converts to Other Faiths Are Condemned
• The Koran teaches: "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam... in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost" (Surah 3:85).
• Catholics "could not be saved" if they do not remain in the Catholic Church (CCC, 846).
Jews and Christians are Cursed
• Muslims are taught: "O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: God’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!" (Surah 5:51; 9:30).
• The Vatican refused to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation for nearly 46 years after its rebirth in 1948. Adolf Hitler, who boasted, "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so," believed he was doing God’s will by exterminating six million Jews. He said, "By fighting the Jews I do battle for the Lord." The Roman Catholic Church has also put to death hundreds of thousands of Christians and continues to curse them with over 100 anathemas.
Wide Road to Destruction
Islam and Roman Catholicism represent the two largest religions in the world. There are a reported 1.2 billion Muslims and 1 billion Roman Catholics who have been blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). Many are on the wide road that leads to destruction and are unaware of the horror that awaits them. Unacquainted with the only trustworthy source for truth, they are unaware they have been deceived. Their only hope in finding the small gate and the narrow road that leads to eternal life is to call upon the Lord Jesus. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek (or Muslim and Catholic); for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? (Rom. 10:12-14).
Christians must recognize the great responsibility our Lord has entrusted to us—to tell the world of His redeeming grace. He has called us to be His ambassadors, to take His Gospel to a lost and dying world. We need to do this with a sense of urgency for God does not promise anyone tomorrow (Jas. 4:14).
As the rescue workers searched through the collapsed buildings in New York and Washington, nothing hindered their efforts to save those who were perishing. Nothing impeded their efforts to save lives—not fear, danger, heat, smoke, rain, hunger, fatigue, lack of sleep or the allurements of the world. What an example these heroes have been for Christians who are surrounded by people who are perishing in a fallen world. We do not know when the next tragedy will occur or when our loved ones and neighbors will live their last day. Let us take our responsibility and privilege as seriously as the rescue workers and the apostle Paul took theirs. "For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10).
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