Chapter 7: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an

Everyone was invited to a read along in Let’s Read About the Qur’an Together! The plan is to read together – What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James R. White.

Feel free to grab a copy of the book and join in at anytime! So far, we’ve covered:

Chapter 7: The Scales: Salvation in the Qur’an

Dr. White addresses salvation in the Qur’an in chapter 7. The Qur’an speaks of scales that weigh the good vs. the bad a person has done on the day of judgement. Along with good works the doctrine of Islamic salvation includes that one must have faith in Allah and in the Qur’an.

While good works and faith in Allah and the Qur’an are enough for most Muslims, White points out that the Qur’an says more on the doctrine of salvation. He describes the Qur’an’s statements on salvation as “scattered” unlike the way various doctrines are laid out in the Bible. Therefore, Muslim views of salvation are based more on hadith than Qur’an. White points out a few other differences of Islamic belief from that of Christianity in the opening section of this chapter. The reader is also cautioned against importing Christian definitions into Islamic beliefs.

Predestination, or Free Will?

The concept of predestination in Islam is called qadar. White explains that the word means power, as in the power of Allah to decree that which takes place in time including whether or not a person will believe. He offers several verses to show predestination in the Qur’an.

Some of those verses are in tension with each other. White explains that Christians sort out tensions in the Bible using exegesis while Islam sorts out Qur’anic tensions via the hadith. He then gives examples from the hadith that are not consistent with each other and even points out that Allah’s decrees come across as more arbitrary than holy.

Forgiveness and God’s Holy Nature

In this section, White asks how Allah can be “holy and just and yet act arbitrarily.” Some sins are forgiven without reason or sacrificial fulfillment while others aren’t. One of Muhammad’s famous stories is cited about a man who murdered 99 people. While traveling to learn about how to be forgiven the man dies. The short version of the story is that while the angels of mercy argued with the angles of punishment about the man’s eternal destination, Allah intervenes for no apparent reason and saves the man.

White continues in this section drawing a clear contrast between the Christian and Islamic understanding of salvation.

Atonement and Justice

In this final section if the chapter, the reader is reminded of some of the theological differences between Christianity and Islam such as shirk, views on the crucifixion et al. White then shares something from Islamic belief I was not aware of concerning – to put it in Christian terms – substitutionary atonement.

On one hand, Islam does not allow for someone to take the punishment for another’s sins as Jesus does for Christians. On the other hand, some Islamic tradition teaches that Christians and Jews will take the place of some Muslims in “hell-fire.”

Things that make you go, “Hmm…?”

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 AndrewLindsey August 16, 2013 at 9:24 am

More than anything, this chapter just moved me to praise God: for His consistent character, for His justice, for His mercy, and for providing a true substitute for our sins in Christ.


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