By Mateen Elass, posted on his personal blog site.
Nowhere do the different theological visions of Islam and Christianity appear more starkly than in the Muslim denunciation of the gospel as reflected in its assessment of John 3:16, which Christians often speak of as “the gospel in a nutshell”:
God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
In its rejection of this message, Islam declares instead:
- God has no offspring, so Jesus cannot be His Son. One of the most famous Suras in the Qur’an declares of Allah, “He begets not, nor was He begotten” (112:3). As a corollary of this, the concept of the fatherhood of God in any sense is forbidden.
- To believe in Jesus as God’s Son (and hence Savior of the world) is to inherit everlasting fire rather than everlasting life, for it is to commit the unforgivable sin of “shirk,” associating something from the created order with the inimitable Creator.
- God has given prophets to the world for guidance and warning. Human beings must do their best to follow His threats and admonitions, for there is no Savior or Mediator between God and man to atone for our sins. In the end, our fate rests in Allah’s inscrutable will.
- The “world” is not hopelessly lost apart from God’s sacrificial grace seen in the gift of His Son; rather it is misguided and forgetful and just needs to be reminded of God’s absolute sovereignty and man’s proper response of submission.
- God does not love the whole world, but only those who do what pleases Him.
From the point of view of an outsider seeking to assess the comparative theologies of Islam and Christianity, this last point is perhaps the most stunning. There can be no question in the New Testament that God’s nature is defined as love, and that His love is granted freely to the unworthy.