National Catholic Reporter is among the last places one expects to find a Muslim apologist peddling theological snake oil, but Friday’s headline — “The Muslim Jesus Provides Common Ground For Christianity, Islam” — left no doubt about what Ra’fat Al-Dajani was offering.
“The Islamic version of the Jesus story especially, is quite similar to the Christian version,” claimed Al-Dajani. “Jesus is variously referred to as ‘Spirit from God,’ ‘Word from/of God’), ‘Prophet-Messenger of God,’ and the ‘Messiah,’ who will come back on the Day of Judgment to destroy the Antichrist.” Al-Dajani is described by NCR as “a Palestinian-American writer and commentator.”
In fact, other than the Virgin Birth, the five letters that spell J-e-s-u-s are the only “common ground” shared by the Muslim and Christian versions of the child born to Mary two millennia ago. The biggest issue that separates the two faiths is by far the most important one — was Jesus God, as he claimed?
Christians believe Jesus was simultaneously both the Son of God and the Son of Man, fully divine and fully human. He left no room for doubt about it on numerous occasions, as when, according to John 8:58, he told the Pharisees “before Abraham was, I am.”
That claim, when uttered by any man, was considered blasphemous and deserving of death by the Pharisees. Pilate, Caesar’s man in the Jewish homeland, found nothing under Roman law to justify executing Jesus but, as a matter of political expediency, he ordered the crucifixion.
Three days later, the tomb of Jesus was empty and soon thereafter Jerusalem was in an absolute uproar because, according to the Bible (see Acts 2:14-39), the disciples were telling any one who would listen that they had seen and talked to the resurrected Jesus, who would someday return to judge every person who ever lived.
That’s NOT the Jesus of the Koran, which says at 5:17: “They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary.” In case there might be any doubt on the point, the Koran adds this at 9:30: “Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” Being cursed is the worst fate possible for a Muslim.
Similarly, as Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer notes, the Koran utterly rejects the Christian claim that Jesus died on the cross, saying at 4:157: “And because of their saying: We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they did not kill him or crucify him, but it appeared so to them; and those who disagree concerning it are in doubt about it; they have no knowledge of it except pursuit of a conjecture; they did not kill him for certain.”
In other words, the Koran argues that Jesus survived crucifixion. To grasp how completely disconnected that view is from the horrendous reality of such a death, spend a few minutes with this description from National Geographic, which nobody would accuse of being a Christian propaganda tool, of how crucifixion killed.
Al-Dajani concludes his National Catholic Reporter post with these words:
“Naturally there are theological differences between Muslims and Christians regarding Jesus but there are far more similarities and these similarities are what should be emphasized in order to show the common ground between these two faiths …”
No, there are almost no similarities. The Koran and the Bible don’t even agree on the essential nature of God. Christians believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity of three persons who share one essence.
For the faithful Muslim, as the Koran says at 4:171, “Allah is only One Allah. It is far removed from his transcendent majesty that he should have a son.”
Genuine common ground between Christians and Muslims cannot be based on misrepresentations of the core beliefs of either faith, especially when they are logically irreconcilable, as on the issue of whether Jesus is God.
So here’s a suggestion for a workable common ground that adherents of both faiths should applaud: You believe what you choose to believe about God, even if that is to believe there isn’t one, and the rest of us will believe whatever we choose. Live and let live.
It’s called the First Amendment and the world would be a far more peaceful place if it was faithfully respected in every nation on Earth.
Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation and chief of its Investigative Group. Follow Mark on Twitter.