K Neill Foster

Islam as Heresy

by K. Neill Foster

In my view, Islam is a Christian heresy. This view is not universally held, but it has wide acceptance (Belloc).

Islam began in the 7th century. Mohammed lived in an era when Christians, Jews and pagans populated Arabia. (You will recall that when the Apostle Paul retired to the wilderness for three years, he went to Arabia and that the Pauline doctrines we love became clear to Paul [Galatians 1:17].) Mohammed hoped both Jews and Christians would accept his doctrines. Although his hope for the acceptance of his prophethood failed, to this day there are similarities in Islam to Judaism and Christianity.

The supremacy of Allah and the supremacy of God have a familiar ring to Christian ears. Heaven and hell show up in Islam as do Jesus and Abraham. Both also acknowledge the spirit world - both good and evil.

However, two key Christian doctrines are denied by Islam: (1) Muslims do not believe in the trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; (2) they do not believe in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and thus they seem to have inadvertently forwarded Arianism which existed before Islam and also attacked the trinity and the incarnation.

Another significant doctrine in Islam is jihad. In contrast to the compassionate and persuasive evangelism of evangelical Christians, Islam believes that unbelievers (i.e. Christians, Jews or pagans) may be, even should be, killed if they do not submit to Islam. Islamic evangelism finally includes an ultimatum - submit or die. History clearly demonstrates that Islam's political borders are bloody. They are peaceful only when all resistance to it has ceased.

As the 21st century dawns, Islam is again becoming expansionary and violent. As in the past, it is once more the mortal enemy of the Church. It is estimated that around the world, 300,000 people each year die as Christian martyrs. In practical terms, 300 believers a day are losing their lives - many to a resurgent and expansionary Islam.

All heresy is deadly. Paul noted that the Galatian heretics were "eternally condemned." Likewise, Muslim heretics are not saved; they are lost people. Their heresy is deadly to themselves and to those around them who face its territorial edges. Muslim conversion to Christ is notoriously difficult. For centuries Christian missionaries have been ineffective.

But things are changing. In 2002 at a conference in Toronto I heard Dr. Dudley Woodbury, missionary authority, say that around the world thousands of Muslims are now coming to Christ. As the Christian church turns in prayer to the 10/40 window, Islam is giving way.

Yes, the Holy Spirit is at work in Islam. There are many strongholds to be overthrown. Revivals of purity, intercession and missionary passion are vital to the expanding mission of the Church in Islam.