Is Islam a Christian Heresy? Revisited

Hello all,

I was pondering this question after extensive debate with a somewhat non-devoted Muslim friend of mine. We were discussing the divinity of Christ, and how Islam denies this. I perceived a parallel with Arianism. So I asked the question: Is it possible that one of the strongest heresies’s to plague the Church was a doctrine continued in Islam?

There were indeed some “Arianist’s” who seemed to claim that Islam came from Arianism, and other people exploring this question. Which seemed interesting, in so far as others were asking questions also, yet inconsistent when we examine the differences between the two.

I then came across an interesting article from the 30’s

ewtn.com/library/homelibr/heresy4.txt

which explores this view. There are elements of his argument which contain signs of the times, such as linking communism to the Jews etc. but the author is catholic and explores the issue in profound detail.

The argument is convincing. At least, it’s not a heresy in the actual sense of the word, but like a heresy it takes the some clearly Catholic Doctrines/Dogma and then simplifies the mysteries or other Doctrines/Dogma. It is well explained in the article. Convincing, but I would think it better to be publically scrutinized. Some of his predictions have seemingly come to fruition; I feel it bequeaths us to at the least draw something from this possible “revised” understanding/perspective of Islam. One where indeed, they believe in the same One God, denying the incarnation but not the messiah-ship of Jesus. There is even the interesting issue of Islam’s closeness to Mary.

Where or not Islam is a heresy is not of so much importance. But is knowledge of its closeness Catholic dogma and doctrine in some area’s the secret to effective evangelisation of Islam?

WARNING, the views in the article could be considered inflammatory, just remember that the author is writing during the rise of Hitar’s Nazi Germany. This piece of context is vitally important to maintain a cool head.

I look forward to anyone’s input, but please read the article, it is long and makes a lot of claims, but the source is also catholic. Give it a chance, a fair hearing. Not that I endorse any of the claims myself, but feel compelled to make public this discussion.

God Bless,

Daniel Rooke

Like you yourself said, whether it’s a severe heresy or separate religion isn’t overly important. However the CC does make a distinction between denominations such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses compared to a standard mainline protestant or evangelical Church, the former of which dramatically skew the nature of Jesus. This is why Mormon baptisms are invalid even in spite of using the Trinitarian formula. Islam would fall into the same category, though moreso, because classical Islamic theology on the nature of God himself is quite different from the Christian God. The Islamic Allah is - and I say this in as much generosity as is possible to any Muslim readers - I believe the kind of god that Satan wishes that he was. He is not eternally consistent, but an unstoppable force of will and spontaneity, who leads astray whom he wills, and guides whom he wills. Granted, this classical view has lost some of its wind in the modern world as some Muslims have subtlety adopted a perspective of God that more closely fits to the Christian view, but the historicity of Islamic theology cannot be undone.

In of itself, I can’t really see how it’s relevant that Islam keeps the messiahship of Jesus but not the divinity of Jesus. If he is not a messiah that delivers us from our iniquity, then what is he a messiah of? To liberate the Jews from Rome? Then he is a political figure. To provide us more revelation? Then he is one prophet among many. Without the divinity of Jesus, calling Jesus the 'Messiah" is a fancy title that doesn’t actually mean anything.

Converting a Muslim means uprooting their entire theology - which uses the same characters - and rebuilding it. I’m not sure of a cheat code you can punch in to make it easier. Water the soil and let God do the work.

Personally I believe it is, in a sense that Islam denies the divinity of Christ. The fact that it goes to an absurd length to justify Jesus did not die on the cross makes this claim absolutely ridiculous.

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not—nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (Qur’an, 4:157-158, Yusuf Ali)

God bless.

In Islam, there’s two “levels” of prophethood (if you will): a “messenger” and a “prophet.”

A messenger has a revelation from God, but he’s not obliged to reveal it to anyone; it’s more of a private revelation. A prophet, however, IS obliged to spread this message. Since God is requiring the person to go out there and spread this message that’s essential for humanity, he receives the assurance from God that he WILL NOT be killed (if he’s killed, then God’s message for humanity won’t reach its intended recipients).
**
Islam holds Jesus to be a full-blown prophet, not just a messenger; therefore, Jesus CANNOT have been crucified (killed).**

It’s much more than denying the Divinity of Christ. In a way, the core of Islam as a religion is founded upon this denial of perhaps THE core of Christianity: the death of Christ to save the world. If Jesus died, he wasn’t a prophet. If Jesus wasn’t a prophet, then one of three things occured:

  1. God himself was blatantly lying to humanity – as the Qur’an is the literal, inerrant (even moreso than Protestant literal, inerrant) word of God;

  2. Something in the Qur’an got really screwed up along the way and somehow nobody ever noticed for 1300+ years (again, “impossible,” as the Qur’an is inerrant); or

  3. Muhammad was lying about his message from God.

None of these explanations bodes well for Islam.

Mohammed was taught by an ebionite priest “Waraqa bin Nawfal”, it’s where he got most of his beliefs, I would say yes, Islam is a Christian heresy.
It is a mix of Judaism and Christianity, it takes what it needs from both religions and rejects what it doesn’t need.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

Just out of curiosity. What is Jesus’ message to humanity? Is this message delivered before or after the supposed crucifixion?

What level is Mohammad’s prophethood? He is spoken as Allah’s messenger in the Quran.

Very self righteous thinking but no sale. :wink:

MJ

Looking at the question of whether or not Islam is a form of Christianity historically, what can be noted is that Islam for centuries was the official State religion for lands that remained Christian. It must also be understood that the Christianity of the East which was initially conquered by the Arab Hagarists were very heterodox and for the most part culturally autonomous from Rome, more so than even Constantinople was disconnected from Rome.

With the conquest, all political ties however tangential that may have existed with the Christians of the East and the Christians of Rome and Constantinople were severed to a much greater degree.

Islam itself was not antagonistic to Christianity. Indeed, early caliphs had no problem worshipping God in Christian churches. There was not initially at least any sense of an unbridgeable divide between Islam and Christians. The further east that one went, the further into Nestorian territory, the further that the divinity of Christ could be divided from the humanity of Christ. It became an easy step for Christians therefore to pledge allegiance to Mohammed as ultimate prophet, without even thinking that they were converting to something that they had not been before.

The writings of Islam and the Koran themselves show influence from a multiplicity of sources, some Christian, some Jewish, some Persian even. The verses that eventually were decided upon as being the official version of the Koran were consciously chosen to bring political unity to the people of the new Empire, chief among these the heterodox sects of Christians that were the majority of the population of the conquered lands. The better that the sacred writings reflected their beliefs, along with the Jews and the Persians too, the easier it would be for Christians to see themselves and their Arab overlords as people of the same God.

Islam would not be a heresy in the sense of an apostasy that fell away from the original authentic Orthodox Catholic teachings, for the people of the conquered lands were very heterodox in their Christianity in the first place. Furthermore, the syncretic nature of Islam involved melding more elements into the religion than just Christianity. Indeed, the Jewish elements are likely even more prominent than the Christian in the final form of Islam.

Nevertheless, the connections between Islam and the heterodox Christianities of the East are intimate ones indeed. Without the Christians of the era initially believing as they did, Islam itself would have no doubt taken a very different form.

Islam does not claim to be Christian, it
never started within Christian circles, it
was never part of Christianity, so *tech-
nically *“No,” >Islam< is not a Christian
heresy, it’s just a false religion.

to Darryl1958,

I see the approach of the argument, that Christian’s in that part of the world did not perhaps have the fullness of understanding within the faith, etc. and so it could be construed as a Christian heresy. It is clear you are well informed and I agree with you, but i think this is a moot point with regard the central issue. the question is more about doctrine than history.

Mohammed was born in Arabia as a pagan, and a Christian heresy can only be a Christian heresy if it springs from within the church.

therefore, I think officially it is a not a christian heresy. But how do we treat it? as a False Religion? i think not.

I think that the argument in the article, which claims that lots of the theology of islam is of the judeo-christian tradition, is of particular interest. that while it is not a Christian heresy in the proper sense, the 5 pillars of Islam seems to correlate well with core Catholic doctrines on social justice and other things.

There are certain issues regarding “the Islam” in theology and “the Islam” in practice.

I propose that we must treat Islam like our protestant brothers and sisters if we are to effectively evangelise. That Islam is so closely tied into Christianity that using the Bible and the word of God will be effective in evangelisation. We need not say their religion is false for it has certain, and important, truths. To save the souls of Islam we must recognise them as brothers also and correct their errors to lead them back to the ture faith, that being the church (can’t say ack to the church because they where never in it), as we try to do with the Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and Jews.

At least this is what i am pondering.

dan.

We need not say their religion is false for it has certain, and important, truths. To save the souls of Islam we must recognise them as brothers also and correct their errors to lead them back to the true faith, that being the church (can’t say back to the church because they where never in it), as we try to do with the Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and Jews.

Well yes. I do not think that Islam was an apostacy, and a falling away from the Catholic faith. The heterodoxies of Christianity existed alongside of the orthodox teachings from the very beginning, as even the New Testament testifies to. Islam itself shows more Jewish influence than Christian, and on the whole is very a very syncretic religious system with ideas being melded into it from sources as vast as the successful conquest of the early caliphs. It is not an Christian apostasy— not a falling away from the orthodox faith— and it is not Christian enough, even when Christian is defined by its heterodoxy, to be truly said to be an actual false Christian teaching.
My own conclusion is that it is a syncretic religion. In an age where the dominant states such as the Byzantine and the Persians had their own State religions, the sudden emergence of an Arab empire necessitated the creation of a State religion for that empire. The state religion of Islam was created specifically to fit that role. It was very rationally and intelligently constructed specifically for that purpose. It was a conscious decision to do this as well. It has an overtly political dimension precisely because it has been a State religion from the very beginning, and the tenets of the faith were drawn from the religious sensibilities of the people that fell under the domain of the House of Islam.

Because as some have mentioned it did not originate from a baptized Christian, it cannot technically be called a heresy. However, it is closer doctrinally to Christian heresy than it is to paganism, etc. As such, it is often called a heresy. For example, St. John Damascene considered it the “heresy of the Ishmaelites,” and notes that they used to be idolators (ie worshippers of a false god(s)), but now are not:

The obscurity of early islam and the dubious authority of some of the sources for the so called life of Muhammad (relevent here is his being foretold a prophet by a supposed Christian Priest or monk) make such things rather hard to say. Muslims however want to insist they are not Christian I am more than willing to grant that, though the quran shows signs that it borrowed from Christians and Jews.

That is my understanding as well.
Besides, since Isa is now number two on the list behind Mohammed, it is quite correct to grant to Muslims the concession that they really are not Christians in any meaningful way.

:yup:

Btw, I was discussing with a Muslim recently about Abraham. When I said that the Patriarch was originally named Abram, he answered with a resounding “No Way!”. I left it at that to avoid an argument but makes me wonder whether Islam ever gives meanings to the names of all the Prophets or just completely trying to be syncretic?

MJ

The question now isn’t so much is Islam a Christian heresy? As it does appear to have similarities but it’s creator if not God was an angel or a man. In either case we should treat all Muslims as we treat everyone else. With love. We do not have to convert just listen. But in all things remember and preach the gospel. If not with speech then With charity.

Hilaire Belloc can not be dismissed lightly. The arguments he puts forward in chapter 4 of his famous work Heresies are compelling.
If we accept the premise that Christianity as put forward by the Catholic Church is the full revelation of the Truth, then all other faith traditions are either a dilution of that truth or only partially represent certain aspects of that truth.
Belloc argues that Islam is a dilution of that truth and that the diluted form of Catholic truth was received by a Pagan camel herder who in his pagan religion had certain aspects of the truth which were then combined with the diluted form of the truth to produce a knew Religion.
Because the diluted form of the truth was delivered to Mohammed by heretics then yes Islam can rightly be called a Christian heresy.

Actually, Islam is as much a Jewish heresy as it is a Christian heresy. It maintains the Jewish requirement for circumcision, the same dietary laws, heritage claims to Abraham, and even the old rules on the separation of genders. It accepts all of the old testament prophets of Judaism and converts them into Muslim prophets. (Even Jesus is seen as a Muslim prophet.)

If you are looking for an apologetic opening for conversation with a Muslim please consider discussing the need for absolute purity to enter the presence of God. In God there is no darkness at all. So how can we approach God when Islam has no savior? Christianity has a Savior. I need a Savior, and that is why we should all be Christians.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.