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What religion says about Jesus

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I have found that a good way to determine the integrity and truth of religious, sectarian, or cultic teachings is to first determine what they say about Jesus.

The teachers of many religious systems claim that they worship the same God as the God of the Bible, and that their system of belief is just another way of approaching Him. Now, according to the Bible, Jesus is ‘the image of the invisible God…the exact representation of His being… for in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form’ (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 2:9). The Lord Jesus is therefore the primary yardstick by which we should measure the validity of all spiritual truth claims. What a belief system teaches concerning His deity, uniqueness, and Lordship is an excellent indication of whether or not their god is our God, and their way of salvation the biblical way of salvation. So, let us have a quick look at what five major religious systems have to say about Jesus.

Islam

In terms of Islamic teaching, Jesus is only a messenger of Allah (and a prophet). Muslims deny that Jesus is both God and man and they also deny that he was crucified. However, they affirm that He was born of a virgin and that He was sinless. Islam has a high view of Jesus, but denies His divinity.

Hinduism

Although there are numerous sects within Hinduism, most of them hold to certain core teachings. For instance, Brahman is the name they apply to what they believe is the divine essence of all that exists. Brahman is impersonal, eternal, and beyond all human comprehension. There are many hundreds of gods and goddesses within Hinduism generally believed to be manifestations of the divine essence (Brahman). An Avatar is the name given to an appearance on earth of one of these deities and some strains of Hinduism claim that Jesus was an Avatar. However, most hold that he was simply an enlightened teacher (a master or guru).

Buddhism

Perhaps the best way to understand Buddhism is as a philosophy of how to live a happy life. Although it does include a concept of reincarnation, each new appearance of life on earth does not represent a specific spiritual entity or being. Because Buddhism predates Christianity by some six hundred years, its basic teachings take no account of Jesus. If they have any view of Jesus at all it would be as an enlightened teacher.

Mormonism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints claims to be ‘the church of Jesus Christ’ but the big question is, ‘is this Jesus the same of the biblical Jesus of Nazareth or is he the Jesus of the latter day saints?’ Their Jesus was birthed in a pre-earthly existence (on another ‘planet’) by a flesh and bone divine man and his wife. He was the first of many sons and Satan was his younger brother. This alone evidences that the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus revealed in the Bible.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

According to Jehovah’s Witness’ theology, God is a single person, not a Trinity. He does not know all things and he is not everywhere. He first created Michael the Archangel through whom He created all “other things,” including the universe. When the time came for a messiah to redeem humanity Michael the Archangel became a human in the form of Jesus. Jesus was created and was therefore not ‘god’ and he is not part of any supposed trinity. The Jehovah’s Witness doctrine of salvation sets out three requirements for salvation – a proper knowledge of god and Jesus, obedience to god’s law, and membership of and loyalty to the one true church (theirs). This neither the Jesus of the Bible nor the way of salvation it reveals.

It is reasonably clear from all of this that the Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness Jesus is not the Jesus revealed in and through the Bible. Nor is the Jesus acknowledged by Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of these religions cannot save anyone in and of himself and cannot be worshipped as God.

Here are links to the source documents of the five religions I have listed, for those of you interested in verifying this information or studying further:
Islam: The Quran
Hinduism: The Vedas
Buddhism: The Dhammapada and others
Mormonism: The Book of Mormon
Jehovah’s Witnesses: New World translation of Holy Scriptures
The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has a lot of information on these and other religious systems.

PS: Listen to my forthcoming TruthTalk and the Q&A that follows it if you want to know what I think of Roman Catholicism’s take on Jesus and His saving work.
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Quran and Bible

What do Muhammad and Jesus have in common?

Muhammad and Jesus

What do Mohammad and Jesus have in common? Absolutely nothing.

In the religion of Islam, Jesus is honoured as a messenger of Allah but Muhammad is revered as his last and greatest messenger. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, gives no credence to either the god of Islam or Muhammad. Islam only emerged onto the world scene late in the sixth century and has no roots in biblical history. Some like to claim that Islam is the third monotheistic (Abrahamic) religion standing alongside Judaism and Christianity, but it really has no theological common point of origin and its god is certainly not just another name for Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Father of the New Testament.

A few weeks ago I attended a very informative day-long presentation by a man who understands Islam both at a scholarly and practical level. Dr Mark Durie describes himself as ‘an academic, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology’. I was very impressed with both his mastery of his subject and his demeanour. You can access his work at www.markdurie.com

I learned from Dr Durie that in Islam the essential relationship between Allah and his followers is that of master to slave.
Original sin is not presented as Islam picsrebellion against a loving Father, resulting in spiritual death, but is seen as a stepping off the path (Sharia) set by the creator, leading to punishment. The solution to ‘sin’ in Islam is not spiritual rebirth, but knowledge and adherence to the ‘straight path’ set out in its holy book, the Quran.

The three pillars of knowledge and understanding in Islam are the Quran, the life of Muhammad, and the doctrine of the ‘infallible’ teachers. The Quran is said to have been spoken out by Muhammad under the inspiration of an angel named Jibril, memorised by the first audience, and then later written down by them. The life of Muhammad was only documented in a form acceptable to the majority of Muslim leaders some 200 or so years after his death. The Quran is not compiled in any sort of chronological order and so the authorised life history of Muhammed is used to determine which of his pronouncements were earlier and which later. This is an important issue because an interpretive rule for understanding and applying the teachings of the Quran is that later pronouncements supersede earlier declarations and abrogate any contradictory earlier statements. Muhammad started his career in Mecca, but after 12 years and much persecution he and his followers fled to Medina. The later (Medina) pronouncements in the Quran are far more militant and harsh than the earlier (Mecca) declarations. These later teachings are regarded as abrogating earlier, more tolerant verses, and thus largely determine the essential nature of Islam.

I also learned from Dr Durie that Islam cannot be reasonably viewed on the basis of the Quran and its established interpretive principles  as a moderate and peace-loving religion.
Islam ladyThe ‘radicals’ who are currently trying to establish an Islamic Caliphate are in fact endeavouring to act with hideous integrity to the religion of Islam. Modern followers of Muhammad who espouse moderation and peace either do not understand the established teachings of their religion, or they are being disingenuous. I also learned that these key teachings were settled many hundreds of years ago and that as a result the doctrines and interpretative methods of Islam are, in the view of many, if not all Muslims, set in stone and not open to further inquiry.

I started this short article by asking what Muhammad and Jesus have in common, and then answered ‘absolutely nothing’. A dramatic, and in many ways definitive example of this is what the two taught concerning enemies. I quote here, not from Dr Durie’s material, but from www.thereligionofpeace.com: ‘The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter’.

But what did Jesus teach concerning enemies? He said, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
Dr Durie has much to teach us and I encourage you to go to his website and browse through the articles, videos, and interviews.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.