Ravi Zacharias succinctly contrasts Christianity and Islam

I’m thoroughly enjoying Ravi’s 2000 book, Jesus Among Other Gods. The man has a way with words without being verbose and thus inhibiting the presentation of the Gospel.

While a post a day quoting a great insight from this book is doable, I’ll try to contain myself.

Before I cite the words relevant to the title of this post, I sense the urgency to quote Ravi’s words from a few pages earlier,

Jesus’ kingdom was of such nature that it was not procured by military might or power. Its rule is neither territorial nor political. If history has proven anything, it is that the spread of the gospel by the sword or by coercion has done nothing but misrepresent the message and bring disrepute to the gospel.

Now to the main quotation,

The teaching of Jesus is clear. No one ought to be compelled to become a Christian. This sets the Christian faith drastically apart from Islam. In no country where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith. There is no country in the world that I know of where the renunciation of one’s Christian faith puts one in danger of being hunted down by the powers of the state.

Yet, there are numerous Islamic countries where it is against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where a Muslim who renounces his or her belief in Islam to believe in anything else risks death. Freedom to critique the text of the Koran and the person of Mohammed are prohibited by the laws of blasphemy, and the result is torturous punishment.

One must respect the concern of a culture to protect what it deems sacred, but to compel a belief in Jesus Christ is foreign to the gospel, and that is a vital difference. The contrast is all too clear.

10 Responses to Ravi Zacharias succinctly contrasts Christianity and Islam

  1. angryxtian says:

    Thank you for writing this! People have such a amazing misunderstanding of what Christianity is all about. You’re right that it can’t be forced or coerced – we’ve found a wonderful thing and we’re willing to share it, but it’s the individual’s choice to accept that or not.

    This is so important for people to know the truth, especially about Islam. It’s so ironic how we’re the only group in America you can bash, and the same people who bully Christians love to kiss up to Muslims. They don’t know the truth you’re helping to share.

  2. doubtingmoab says:

    How much of this tolerance that Christianity displays today do you think is related to the complete emasculation of Christianity when the Pope lost control of his secular empire?

    Have you not read any history? Christianity (twisted or not) had a very bloody history and has _most_certainly_ been spread by the sword.

    The reason that the English and Americans are mostly Christian and not Celtic might have a little to do with this, you think?

    Whether it has been a twisting or Christ’s teachings or not, the reality is that Christianity HAS been spread by the sword and by terror and by racist and sexist ideologies.

    Now, while we certainly can not judge by today’s sociological standards the actions of those in the past – a past that easily accepted racism, sexism and superstition (witches, etc) as the norm – and while Christianity is not alone in these failings, it would be a tragic to mistake to think that Christianity is that much different than Islam, historically.

    Both have suppressed women, both have suppressed knowledge, both have killed others for holding different beliefs and on and on.

    In fact, a large part of the “problem” with the Islamic world is that the west (read: Christianity) has been crusading in their lands for centuries. There are some very deep scars that Christianity has to answer for. And we continue to do this.

  3. Michelle says:

    I do believe there are differences between Christianity and Islam, but I don’t believe I understand the intent or motives behind trying to highlight those differences, especially when done in such a way where Christianity is presented as a tolerant religion, conducive to freedom and Islam is portrayed as its opposite.

    My main issue with this passage is that it confuses political Islam with spiritual Islam. Many governments in the Middle East have wielded the symbols and language of Islam in order to manipulate populations and gain respect and many times, this is done with coercion, but this should not be a representation of Islam as a religion, it should just go to show that any religion can be manipulated by a state.

    There is only one Muslim state where it is illegal to “publicly proclaim the gospel of Christ.” That is Saudi Arabia. And it’s one country out of the other 30 or so Muslim states. I also think the author is confusing professing belief with proselytizing, which is punishable and frowned upon in many Muslim countries. I personally believe that missionary work in many Muslim countries is inappropriate, but I have only heard of temporary detainments — never anything corporal or serious. I met some missionaries working in a Muslim country and they were ignorant of local customs and language, so it is not surprising that people react negatively to individuals who proclaim to speak the “truth,” but can’t even say “truth” in the native language.

    Furthermore, there are many Christians in Egypt who follow Jesus; Lebanon has a minority Protestant population and a sizable Christian population; Palestine also has a very large Christian population. Either way, it is not a crime to identify yourself as a Christian in a Muslim country, except possibly in Saudi Arabia.

    I also do not know of any Muslim country where it is illegal for a Muslim to “renounce his or her belief in Islam.” Sure, if you are Muslim and then convert to another religion then you might face harsh reactions from your family, but it is not illegal.

    I suppose my point is this: There are over 30 Muslim states in the world and to generalize about their laws and the implementation of those laws is ridiculous and couldn’t possibly be accurate. We can’t even generalize about state laws in the United States, so I think that when we talk about the “laws” made in the name of “Islam,” we should be specific and not just say “numerous” countries.

  4. Laz says:

    Yes, I’m aware of the history behind the spread of “Christianity”. Allow me to quote Zacharias once more,

    The gospel is not to be spread at the point of a sword. When Christendom has resorted to such methods, it was not the gospel of Jesus Christ that was propagated, but a political theory that used the gospel for the benefit of power-seeking institutions and individuals.

    People are justifiably fearful when they think of religion in tandem with political control. Jesus’ method was to touch the heart of the individual so that he or she responded to Him out of love for Him, rather than from compulsion or control.

    It makes a world of difference that Christ did not command to use violence to spread the Gospel. Because any “Gospel” that is spread through compulsion or violence is not the gospel and thus cannot be called Christianity.

    Whether or not Mohammed commanded the spread of Islam through violence, well Michelle can probably answer that one better than I. Though Zacharias seems to indicate that Mohammed did indeed do so.

  5. Sean says:

    There is a huge difference between Islam and Chrisitanity… Christ in Islam is a word of God but not the word of God. They say he wasn’t crucified but actually states that Judas of all people took up Christ’s place on the cross. They do this in the lewd attempt to deny explaining the new covenant… The have a dangerous game with wording and twisting what is real. Mohammaded himself promoted murder of the Christians and Jews in Qur’an 9:123. Mohammed also names every sword he adds to his collection after killing each opponent. In America we have accpeted a watered down version as to which all religions lead to the same place… And Muslim’s have watered down the true to the Qur’an Muslim’s who have been blowing up themselves as well as the unbelievers of Islam in the name of allah. People are fallible but the Bible is not. If all religions are a way to the same destination then I goes God Himself would have to say sorry to Christ for having him die when there was actually a million other ways out there in which no one has given an ounce to you… especially their own life obediantly.

  6. filha says:


    Just wanted to respond to Michelle’s questions about Muslims countries prohibiting conversion to Christianity. Malaysia does prohibit conversion. There was a famous court case out last year or so in which a woman wanted to change her status on her national ID card from Muslim to Christian and was not allowed to. Also, if a child is born to parents holding Muslim ID cards, (even if the parents converted faith but were not allowed to change their ID card labels), that child is legally required to have the label Muslim on his card. One prominent politician did get away with putting ‘denier of the faith’ on his ID card and then was able to put Christian on his child’s card. However, prominent politicians can get away with things that regular people cannot.

    I do personally agree that there are some Muslims who separate spiritual Islam from political Islam. However, the Qur’an is very political, and orthodox, fundamentalist Muslims may not see a separation between the political sphere and the spiritual sphere.

    Also, there is quite a lot of persecution of Christian missionaries in Muslims lands. If the missionaries are foreigners, they are often detained but not brutally hurt. However, the murder of a group of Korean Christians in the Middle East the other year made quite the new show. The persecution, torture and killing of Christian missionaries often does not make the news when the missionaries are not foreigners. People who are missionaries in their own countries, national missionaries, incur much stricter punishment than foreigners. The recent massacres in India are a testimony to such persecution.

    I am aware of situations where Christians have wrongfully persecuted Muslims, even tortured and killed them. However, such people are NOT following the instructions of their holy book. Unfortunately, Muslims who kill Christians are following the Qur’anic instruction to ‘kill all infidels’.

  7. Christian says:

    I would like to stress that twisting of facts expecially historical, by presenting it in a different context and judging it with different standards is one tactic that almost all muslims do including Mohammed their leader. Michelle is in a sorry state of playing with not only the history but also the present, making readers of this forum from distant place think that there is some truth to it.
    By the way the truth about Lebanon is that it is a christian country – Imagine the political clout of Islam.
    I am writing from an Islamic country and I am surrounded by many such and I have first hand experience of living in some of them, and if you don’t believe me, try coming and staying in any of these arab countries and experience it yourself, meet the local people, families and youths, talk to Imams of the mosques, talk to even the well ecucated and modern liberals and you will find out the core fact which is no less than what is explained in the views of Ravi Zecharias.
    Michelle, if you are really serious pls check out and
    1) Name one Islamic country where a citizen is allowed to convert to any other religion if he/she wishes to do so.
    2) I have first hand experience of a decade in KSA (Saudi) where people of no other religion can profess their faith, carry their own religious book in their hand publicly (Bibles are torn into pieces and thrown into garbage in the airport from legal residents if a single copy is found hidden among your luggage when they enter this country). Non muslims ocassionally face questions from fellow workers, superiors, strangers, religious police and anybody in authority asking why he is not converting to Islam. If you answer saying that your religion is better, then that is enough to land you in jail and eventual deportation. Not to mention endless ways of provoking you to protest and if not the mental and physical torture you are entitled to, without any right to contest if the opponent is a Muslim. Your belief is questioned, your talking is monitored, your mail is censored in the post office and once you are in their hit list, they can monitor your movements, your telephone lines ……and so on.
    In fact after all this, i as a Christian will never or atleast am not allowed to hate a Muslim or even the same people who does to me. This is the biggest difference.

    When some Dane put out some funny cartoons about Muhammed in his own publication in his own language, the islamic clerics around the world proclaimed war against him-To murder him. Many Danes in these Islamic countries had to suffer persecutions from the authorities, Many in our place mosques used their Friday discourse time to call for a ban on all Danish products and declared that who does not do it does not love God. News papers openly cursed the Danish publisher and even the govt. Iincidents of riots indited by the religious leaders and mosques in the light of this, was not only supported but also went unreported in the world media.

    I am talking about reality in the face of human rights not just preaching.

    I would not encourage Christians to know this to harbour any hatred against the Muslims, in fact i want to encourage every true Muslim to visit these Islamic states and realize what they offer to the world. And also to reflect on the origin of this …. could it be from a loving GOD ?

  8. Joe says:

    Spot on. The average Christian is unequiped to argue his faith. It’s time we took seriously 1 Peter 3:15

  9. A teacher, I saw a parent reading one of Ravi’s books the other day.

    I hope that what he has written about Islam reaches this woman. She is so closed to the dangers of Islam!

  10. Truth First says:

    i think comparing the two religions by their followers (or so-called followers) is useless as both religions have changed thier practices throughout history. we need to compare the words of Jesus to the words of Muhammed to see their similarities and differences then arrive at our conclusions from there.
    as a christian i hate when people say that i must hate certain people because other christians do. or that i think that i’m better than them because i’m going to heaven and their going to hell. these things aren’t true of me and they shouldn’t be true of any believer.
    a muslim co-worker of mine was quick to tell me what i believed about Jesus (that he claimed to be equal with God) and then quickly showed me verses of Jesus’ subordination to the Father. it’s frustrating to have to defend claims about Christianity that aren’t even true Biblically. we need to look at the texts and draw our conclusions from there first.

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