Compromise 2

We owe so much to our Creator. Our eyesight, for example, is something that we could never repay God for. Since God bestowed countless gifts on humanity without us even asking for them, what does this tell us about God’s attributes? The very act of creation bears witness to God’s abundant love and mercy. This is why when we worship God, we should do so with a feeling of love and gratitude. Unlike God however, our expressions of love and gratitude are flawed. We inevitably fall short in our worship because of our sins.

Does our Creator’s love and mercy extend itself to the forgiveness of our sins? This is the key question of this article, and as we will see, Islam and Christianity provide very different answers. Before getting into the specifics of what Islam and Christianity teach on this subject, let’s reflect on the following point. If we think about it, during the act of creation we were the recipients of God’s love and mercy without even asking for it, so how could it be denied from us when we ask God for it directly? Belief in God doesn’t just entail an acknowledgement of His existence, but it also includes the affirmation of His attributes. Denying any of God’s attributes is in fact an act of disbelief. This is why we have to be very careful when it comes to atonement as our understanding of it has serious implications on the attributes of God such as His love, justice and mercy.

ATONEMENT IN ISLAM

Islam teaches that God created man in the best of states; each baby that is born is pure and sinless:

We create man in the finest state [95:4]

However mankind is prone to making mistakes because we are fallible beings, an inevitable consequence of the free will that God gifted us. When God created man He did not expect us to be angels, He already had countless angels, perfect in their compliance, to do His bidding. In the creation of Adam, God wanted to bring about something different: a creature of free will, submitting to Him out of choice. A consequence is that we commit sins, and God knew we would fall into sin even before He created us. In fact if God expected us to be infallible and never fall into sin, then He would effectively be expecting us to be God-like. In Islam it is up to every human being to take responsibility for their own sins, as long as they have reached the age of discernment and are of sound mind:

Whoever accepts guidance does so for his own good; whoever strays does so at his own peril. No soul will bear another’s burden… [17:15]

Not having the safety blanket of another person carrying our sins means that Muslims have to strive in bettering themselves from the cradle to the grave, in turn making the true believer a force for good in society. In Islam two of the names of God are Al-Wadud and Al-Raheem, “The Loving” and “The Most Merciful”. These attributes manifest themselves in God’s attitude toward our sins. The Qur’an tells us:

O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not the Mercy of God. Verily, God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful [39:53]

God condemns the sins we commit, but He waits for us to repent, and when we do He welcomes us. That is the part that God loves: the repentance, the voluntary return. Prophet Muhammad taught that:

God turns with mercy to him who turns to Him in repentance [1]

In Islam, God’s love and mercy transcends all other types of love and mercy. His love and mercy is greater than all worldly and human forms of love and mercy – even motherly love and mercy. God is an independent being who is self-sufficient and perfect. He doesn’t need or require anything. A mother’s love and mercy, although selfless, is based on her internal need to love her child. It completes her and through her sacrifices she feels whole and fulfilled. However, God’s love and mercy is not based on a need or want; it is therefore the purest form of love and mercy, because He gains absolutely nothing from loving and being merciful. Prophet Muhammad said:

God is more affectionate to His servants than a mother to her young ones. [2]

ATONEMENT IN CHRISTIANITY

By comparison, Christian theology teaches that sin is like a debt that must be repaid, it cannot simply be forgiven by God:

For the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23]

God is portrayed as a Being whose mercy is contingent on the shedding of blood:

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:22]

The Church teaches that this is why Jesus was sent to die on the cross, his sinless life represents the ultimate sacrifice to appease God’s wrath and wash away the sins of the whole of humanity, reconciling us with God. The theology that underpins the crucifixion is that humanity is inherently sinful, a consequence of Adam eating from the forbidden tree. So when Adam violated God’s command not to eat from the tree, sin entered into humanity and has remained ever since:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. [Romans 5:12]

The solution according to the New Testament is thus: Jesus died on the cross in order to undo Adam’s “original sin”:

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! [Romans 5:17]

So we can see that the Christian concepts of atonement and divine mercy are diametrically opposed to Islam. In Islam, we are responsible for our own sins and God grants forgiveness to all who call upon Him and sincerely repent. Whereas in Christianity we have the paradoxical situation of the whole of mankind being held accountable for something we didn’t do – Adam’s original sin – and forgiven for something someone else did – Jesus’ sacrifice at the crucifixion. When you factor the Trinity into the atonement equation, things get stranger still. If Jesus is God, then the crucifixion effectively amounts to God incarnating Himself into the creation and committing suicide in order to forgive sinners from Himself. God can only forgive sin if He punishes Himself first, even though He is the one who the crime was done against. Imagine someone wronged you. If we follow this doctrine, the only way you can forgive that person is if you punish yourself first. How much sense does that make? If Jesus died on the cross for our sins, then we already have our golden ticket to heaven. There’s no need for us to strive, no need to repent, because Jesus has already done the hard work for us.

BLOOD ATONEMENT COMPROMISES GOD’S ATTRIBUTES

God’s love for mankind lies at the heart of the Gospel message:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16]

However the crucifixion of Jesus would be a gross act of injustice on the part of God. In Christian theology, God effectively demonstrates His love by torturing and killing His son. Such a system of justice is one that we human beings ourselves wouldn’t use in an everyday practical setting. Suppose one day a judge throws you into prison for no apparent reason. Upon questioning your arrest and imprisonment, the judge says that although he knows you are innocent, he decided to punish you as a substitutionary atonement for the crimes of another who had now been set free. Would you accept the judge’s ruling? No one would accept such a situation, we would all protest and ask why we are being punished when we are innocent. Such a system is anything but just; if anyone is to be punished then it should be the guilty party. A human court that punished the innocent in place of the guilty would be considered corrupt, a miscarriage of justice. How much more unjust then would it be if God were behind such a system? Yet such a system is exactly what we have with the Christian theology of blood atonement.

If God must always get what is coming to him in order to forgive, namely a kill, then the question has to be asked whether God ever really forgives. Imagine if someone punched you and gave you a bloody nose. You have two options; in the spirit of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth you could punch them back and that would be justice, or you could just forgive them. Both these options are valid in Islam. What is not logical is that you punch the person back and say “now I forgive you”. That’s not forgiveness, because you took out your anger and got your revenge. In a similar way, the Christian portrayal of God is one of getting His blood payment, His ransom, and only then does He let you go. So we can see that with the crucifixion, forgiveness is not being fulfilled by God.

By comparison the Qur’an’s concept of divine justice and forgiveness is natural. God can forgive our transgressions without blood atonement if we ask him to, simply by calling upon Him and sincerely repenting. No one has to die; no blood has to be spilt. God doesn’t require blood to forgive; He can simply forgive, just as we forgive each another when we wrong one another in everyday life. Shouldn’t God, the creator of the love and mercy that exists among His creation, be even more capable of love and mercy? The reality is that the concept that “Jesus paid the price for our sins” is an alien creed which is incompatible with God’s love and mercy. To claim that mankind has only been able to properly access God’s forgiveness the moment Jesus shed his blood on the cross is an intolerable challenge to the principles of God’s love and mercy. We now know that the human story is so old, going back tens of thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, that to say it’s only been 2,000 years since a proper relationship between man and God has been made possible, makes a mockery of the idea of divine love, because that’s not loving. A God who coherently shows mercy, compassion and forgiveness for His creation doesn’t stuff all of salvation into a single moment in human history at the crucifixion. The Qur’anic vision is very different:

For every people there has been a guide [13:7]

In Islam the salvation offered through all of the Prophets has been the same throughout history; submission to our Creator and forgiveness granted through sincere repentance. That’s the true understanding of God as having love and mercy inscribed on His very nature.

DOES BLOOD ATONEMENT HAVE A FOUNDATION IN THE BIBLE?

The foundation of the crucifixion stands on the doctrine that the blood sacrifice alone expiates sin and reconciles man with God. At face value, the notion of Jesus sacrificing himself to redeem mankind may appear to be a noble act and undoubtedly is an aspect of Christianity that resonates deeply with its followers. But we have to ask the question, is it Biblical? When we look to the Old Testament, we find that the notion that only unblemished sacrificial blood can appease God’s wrath and atone for sin is explicitly denounced by the prophets of Israel. One such example is King Solomon. While dedicating the Temple of Jerusalem to God Almighty, Solomon makes a special plea on behalf of the Israelites:

When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin… and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy [1 Kings 8:46-50]

This entire passage seems to have foreshadowed the exile of the Israelites into Babylonian captivity which took place in the 6th century BCE. The words of Solomon represent a total refutation of the Christian theology of God’s forgiveness being contingent on blood atonement – the exiled Israelites would be able to attain forgiveness through repentance and prayer.

If we fast forward to the time of Prophet Ezekiel we find the Israelites living in exile in Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem, just as foreshadowed by Solomon. The entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 is devoted to sin and atonement. The Jewish people, perhaps under the influence of Babylonian pagan practices and beliefs, had the misapprehension that God punishes the innocent for the sins of the guilty. They ask Ezekiel:

Why does the son not share the guilt of his father? [Ezekiel 18:19]

This idea that an innocent can die as atonement for the sins of the wicked was widely known throughout the world as a practice among pagan communities. Prophet Ezekiel’s response to his people is a clear rejection of such beliefs:

But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offences they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? [Ezekiel 18:21-23]

So we can see that God is pleased when the guilty stop sinning and make sincere repentance. Much like God’s nature being purely One and not a Trinity, the Old Testament concept of a loving and merciful God agrees with Islam; it’s Christian theology that is the odd one out. Furthermore, in the Old Testament God’s love and mercy is not just restricted to the Jewish people, even Gentiles (non-Jews) were freely forgiven by God through sincere repentance. For example, the Old Testament describes the people of Nineveh as a wicked nation. God sent Prophet Jonah to warn them:

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ [Jonah 1:1-2]

This was a nation of considerable size, numbering over 120,000 inhabitants:

And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals? [Jonah 4:11]

This entire nation was spared God’s punishment in the end because they repented from their wicked ways:

When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. [Jonah 3:6-10]

An entire nation of over 120,000 condemned to destruction, were forgiven by God when they simply repented and fasted, without ever offering any sacrifice. In fact even though they had many animals at their disposal, which God could have easily commanded them to sacrifice, they weren’t sacrificed, but rather the animals were made to fast along with the people. From these examples we can see that the Christian theology that only unblemished sacrificial blood can appease God’s wrath and atone for sin has no foundation in the Bible.

CONCLUSION

Christian theology claims that without the cross, without the innocent blood of Jesus being spilt, mankind is cut off from God’s forgiveness. These claims bear a striking resemblance to the pagan blood sacrifices of old. In fact there are all kinds of pagan deities throughout history who needed the blood of an innocent human to appease them. If Christian atonement theology is true, then God is actually a lot like these pagan gods and goddesses. If one believes that God’s wrath at sin necessitated the blood sacrifice of Jesus in order to calm his wrath, we are not describing a god who is fundamentally different–  we are simply describing another version of an angry god who needs a virgin thrown into the volcano. By comparison, Islamic theology paints a picture of God that is loving, just and merciful. No sin is too great to be forgiven; the doors of mercy are never shut. All we have to do is turn to God in repentance with a sincere heart and our sins will be washed away. Such a positive outlook on the nature of God in turn instils in us a deeper and further love for God. Significantly, this should make us want to love Him by being one of His servants. A Muslim never despairs of the love, justice and mercy of God.

References

1 – Riyad as- Salihin, Book #1, Hadith #23.

2 – Sunan of Abu Dawood, Hadith #1359.

Written by Many Prophets One Message
A CALL TO THE TRUTH

    5 Comments

  1. rob August 11, 2016 at 12:38 pm Reply

    christianity is nonsense and bloody nonsense

    adam sinned? so adam did an act of eating and eating a fruit meant god punish adam with death, pain and suffering

    yet christians eat pig, blood and all sorts of other foods which would have angered the ot god.

    christians in the garden would tell ot god that his laws are in consequential

    adam sinned? if god made “innocent” jesus, why not an innocent TWIN of adam? why not an innocent twin of every single person on planet earth and punish it so then we all can repent through our “innocent twin” ?

    jesus dying on the cross means that every single future action of sin will be caused by god because god made all created things

    so any christian who sins in the future always has a wife to beat up by imaging murder of his god

    why don’t they imagine burnt offerings or play videos of burning people if they have fetish on a god needing his CREATED blood to be shed?

  2. Shaaz Momin August 11, 2016 at 2:56 pm Reply

    Let us analyze the narrative of God sacrificing his SON to save us.

    So, The Narrative is: God sent Jesus to our world and sacrificed him so that we, who put our faith in His SON, will have our sins forgiven.

    But what does it mean to sacrifice?

    It is to give up something you want to keep, in order to get or do something else.

    So, when someone sacrifices something, it is because they are expecting something in return, a reward of some sort. For e.g., we sacrifice our time at work so that we can make a living and support our families. Again, when we were all babies our Mother sacrifices her sleep so that we can be comfortable and well fed. We also sacrifice time at school so that we can get good grades, become graduate and be successful in our life.

    So, it is very clear that sacrifice is something that is done in order to gain. Now I ask, Does God need to gain anything? NO. He doesn’t!!

    We all know that GOD is Almighty. He is the owner of the universe. Meaning he owns and has everything at his disposal.
    So, to whom did he sacrifice Jesus?
    And what would he get in return of his sacrifice when everything in the earth and heaven is his?

    Now, let us get a little deeper into his sacrifice narrative.

    Isn’t this “Son”, God anyway (according to trinity).If trinity is true then, this means God is giving away (sacrificing) God.Contemplating this from outside the box looks like, God sent himself and then killed himself, essentially committed some form of suicide. If someone is not happy with the situation around them and is filled with hopelessness and despair, they may take their own life. But will that benefit them or others? No it will not.Additionally, hopelessness and despair are attributes of weakness and neediness, something an Almighty God is free from. Also, suicide is considered a sin. So God removed our sins with a sin. Which means Jesus (aka God and Son) sinned and was no longer holy. The consequence is this is that Jesus was not infallible and an “ideal” candidate for sacrifice.

    Let us dive even deeper.

    If wages of sin is death and Jesus took that burden, then What sin a baby has committed? Is borning to this world a sin? Because Infants and babies do die.
    why do we still die?
    Why do we still sin?
    Why should we care if we sin, since we are good to go?

    Further analyzing the sacrifice narrative we hear that,

    God took the human form, “Jesus” so that he can die. But an Almighty God is eternal and cannot die.
    We also hear that Jesus was obedient unto death. But an Almighty God does not need to be obedient to anyone or anything. So, was he obedient to himself?

    But was Jesus really obedient?If so, then why did Jesus pray to “Let this cup pass”? [Matthew 26-39]
    If so, then why did Jesus say, “God why have you forsaken me”? [Matthew 27-47]

    It doesn’t seem like Jesus was very happy or in agreement with this situation.

    Was Jesus speaking to himself? If not, then either the person on the cross was not Jesus or Jesus was not God.

    Did you know that crucifixion is only for those who are cursed according to Jewish Law? [Deut 21:22-23]

    So that means Jesus was cursed.Right?Which in turn means God was in part or entirely cursed.

    Remember the definition of sacrifice from earlier? – To give up something.

    Well, technically it doesn’t really count as a sacrifice since God brought His “Son” back to life.A real sacrifice is when you cannot get back what you have offered. So what is the meaning of such a sacrifice if God could recover his offering , Jesus, His Son.?

    Essentially the narrative is, God sacrificed His Son for us…, but not really.

    Confused yet?

    The only thing that makes sense with this concept of sacrifice is that you have to sacrifice your intellect and logic to make it work.

    So, I ask Christians that are you willing to gamble eternity for this convoluted concept?

    Muslims are not, and thus offer a coherent alternative explanation according to Islam God sent his righteous servant Jesus to remind the Children of Israel to keep their covenant with God.Many disbelieved and plotted to kill him in the worst of the ways, on the cross .This way people will believe that he was cursed and thus a false Prophet and then not follow his way. However, God will never forsake his messenger Jesus. So he saved Jesus and raised him to heaven where he, Jesus is alive and waiting to return to earth per God’s orders.

    No one or “form of God” needs to be forsaken. No one or “form of God” needs to be crucified. No one or “form of God” needs to be cursed. No one or “form of God” needs to be killed.

    If you sin, the just ask God the Almighty to forgive you and since He is most forgiving and loves to forgive. He will forgive you. It is that simple. This is ISLAM.

  3. rob August 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm Reply

    the murder of jesus on the cross makes no sense

    if i raped a girl

    1. did i rape jesus
    2. did the dad in trinity take the ACTION of rape and rape jesus
    3. did i go back in time and rape jesus?

    4. did the father and jesus see the future rape and decided to use jesus + plus fathers PUNISHMENT powers on jesus?

    the punishment on jesus did not undo the rape i did. so what this means is that jesus punished himself to cool off the wrath of the father, which means there was calm and serenity within the partners of trinity. so it only put effect in god, not in the sins the humans did

    if there is no cause and effect and if i did not rape jesus, then jesus could have cut off his feet for my mortgage or punished his twin brother for my rape

    notice how the victim is left out?

    notice that the victim is told , ” forgive me for raping you , but my sin of rape of you has already been atoned for”

    this is not justice but CORRUPTION

    jesus has the filthiest actions poured on him from all years and all times and jesus becomes the dirties criminal known to exist yet the biased father in trinity SAVES jesus from eternal damnation

    what a biased and criminal god

    yet he brings into existence “born in sin” children who have not a sin to their name

  4. rob August 21, 2016 at 1:13 pm Reply

    “It is to give up something you want to keep, in order to get or do something else.
    So, when someone sacrifices something, it is because they are expecting something in return, a reward of some sort. For e.g., we sacrifice our time at work so that we can make a living and support our families. Again, when we were all babies our Mother sacrifices her sleep so that we can be comfortable and well fed. We also sacrifice time at school so that we can get good grades, become graduate and be successful in our life.”

    when a jew gave up his £1000 worth sheep meat he was actually doing a good act
    so the slaughter of the animal was seen as a good deed
    the act of giving up was rewarded by god or gods

  5. rob August 23, 2016 at 2:52 pm Reply

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