Differences Between Salvation in the Qur’an & the Bible

“What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

Every system, philosophy, and religion proposes some form of salvation. They all articulate a problem which must be solved in order for a person to experience salvation. What matters most is what a system teaches about salvation. Whenever we seek to understand a spiritual system, this is where we need to go. What must a person to do be saved?

 

Ultimately, it’s the only question that matters. It’s the question that everyone must ask. Failure to correctly ask and answer it results in eternal catastrophe. “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Every system, philosophy, and religion proposes some form of salvation. They all articulate a problem which must be solved in order for a person to experience salvation. What matters most is what a system teaches about salvation. Whenever we seek to understand a spiritual system, this is where we need to go. What must a person to do be saved?

Last month, the Cripplegate began a series looking at the differences between the Qur’an and the Bible. We looked at a brief introduction to Islam and the textual origin and transmission of the Qur’an. In our second post we observed two critical differences between the God of the Qur’an with that of the Bible. Then, we looked at nine differences between the Jesus of the Qur’an and the Jesus of the Bible. In today’s post, we will examine the differences between the salvation proposed by the Qur’an and that of the Bible.

Just as with teachings covered in previous posts, it will be clear that the differences between the Qur’anic and biblical doctrines of salvation differ radically. An understanding of salvation in the mind of a Qur’anic Muslim will clash at every point with that of a biblical Christian.

1. The Qur’an teaches that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross.

The Qur’an teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross. Surah 4:157 reads as follows:

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.

According to the Qur’an, the Jews did not crucify Jesus. To be sure, someone was crucified that day. However, it was not Jesus. It was someone who only appeared like Jesus. Allah, presumably, made it look like he did. Who died then? Some Muslim scholars say Judas, some, Simon of Cyrene.

In keeping with the Qur’an, many Muslims reject the idea that Allah would allow a great prophet like Jesus to die by crucifixion; a shameful criminal’s execution. It could not happen, they propose. It’s too offensive and base of a thing to befall a prophet.

This poses an unspeakable problem for Qur’anic Islam. The overwhelming biblical testimony is that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, did die a literal death on a cross. We have four eyewitness testimonies to the event of Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 27:35Mark 15:24Luke 23:33John 19:18).

Further, the early church testifies to the historical event of Jesus’ crucifixion. Early church leaders such as Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 108) and Clement of Rome (A.D. 95) bear witness that Jesus died on the cross.

Even more, early non-Christian testimonies declare that the Jesus of the Bible died on the cross (e.g. Josephus, A.D. 85 and Tacitus, A.D. 115).

In the ancient world, one needed two or three witnesses of an event to confirm it as fact. We have four gospels written within a few decades of the event, several church leaders testifying to it, and secular sources within a few decades doing the same. The Qur’an was written ca. A.D. 630 (600 years after the crucifixion) and nearly 800 miles away from Jerusalem. And yet, it stands as a lone witness claiming that the crucifixion did not happen. Therefore, the integrity of the Qur’an as a whole comes into serious question. It will not do, as some propose, to reject the crucifixion on the grounds of corrupted New Testament manuscripts. As demonstrated in the first post of this series, such claims are unwarranted. The burden of responsibility is upon the skeptic to invalidate biblical and secular testimonies.

The cross is the center point of salvation for humanity. More than an incidental instrument for execution, the cross was the place where God solved the single greatest problem facing humanity. No cross, no salvation.

2. The Qur’an teaches a works-based righteousness for human salvation.

Qur’anic verses on salvation are rare and scattered. That is troubling when we understand that there is no more important subject than salvation. Where there is teaching on salvation, the Qur’an teaches the concept of scales. One’s works must weigh heavily upon the scales of judgment in order to approach salvation. If one’s works are not in large quantity, then salvation is unattainable in Qur’anic Islam.

We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgment, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least, and if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it (to account): and enough are We to take account. (Surah 21:47)

Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy, they will attain salvation. But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide. The Fire will burn their faces, and they will therein grin, with their lips displaced. (Surah 23:102-104)

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