Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Roman Catholic Catechism and Islam

A common passage from the Roman Catholic Catechism often used by Roman Catholics to present a kind of semi-universalism is from the section regarding Muslims:
841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."
Let's review this statement bit by bit, and review the various strengths and weaknesses of it.
The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims...
What is the "plan of salvation"? Is it not the gospel (Eph 1:13), from wherein we learn that the Good Shepherd, by the will of the Father, laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:11, 18), that all given by the Father to behold the Son will never be lost nor be cast out (John 6:39-40)? This Christian plan of salvation is one centered around Christ and His salvific sacrifice on the cross.

Therefore, to say that the plan of salvation includes those who acknowledge "the Creator" seems very vague and universalist in its approach. Many religions outside of Judeo-Christian tradition and Islam could be said to believe in a "creator," but the question then is who is that creator and how do we identify him? Likewise, where in this "plan of salvation" is there room for Christ and His cross, or a declaration in faith in Christ? The true plan of salvation involves a very specific Creator, and therefore the identification of this Creator is a very important matter.

That brings us to the next point.
...these profess to hold the faith of Abraham...
Note something: Muslims profess to hold the faith of Abraham. That is true, Muslims do claim to be in line with Jews and Christians, and that they worship the same God they do, but the question is: is that true? Some have said that the Catechism is trying to exactly make this very simple point: the Muslim claim to hold the faith of Abraham is merely a profession. If this is true, I personally believe any further publications of the Catechism should clarify this point further. I say this because, in the following section, this argument is hurt by these words:  
...and together with us they adore the one, merciful God...
Do they? Both Christians and Muslims are monotheists, yes, but does that mean they worship the same God?

Let's stop and think for a moment how both Muslims and Christians define God: Muslims are inherently unitarians who believe God is one being and one person; Christians are Trinitarians who believe that God is one Being revealed through three distinct Persons. Within this body of Persons are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - the Son is Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word. This second Person in the Trinity is believed by Muslims to have simply been a man and a mere prophet, not divine. They deny He is God.

Many respond to this fact with a kind of "two out of three ain't bad" mentality, but the fact is each Person within the Trinity represents the fullness of God's divinity, and to deny one is to deny them all. To deny the divinity of Christ is to deny the Godhead entire. The apostle Paul wrote that "in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells" (Col 2:9), signifying that to deny the Deity of Christ is to deny the very Deity of God. As I've written before, the Trinity is not a buffet: you don't get to pick and choose which parts of the Trinity you want to believe and which you don't; it's all or nothing.

Some key passages in regards to the truth of Solus Christus in scripture.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." [John 14:6; NASB]

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" [John 11:25-26]

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." [Acts 4:12]
Muslims therefore do not worship with Christians the one true God, because they (Muslims) deny the very revelation of God's Being as God has revealed it to His people. They deny the divinity of the Son and the Personhood of the Holy Spirit. Just to remind everyone about the beliefs taught within the Muslim's own holy book:
  • The Trinity is a damnable heresy (S. 5:73)
  • The Trinity is a lie (S. 5:74)
  • Christ is not divine, and any one who says so, according to the own words of "Jesus", is lying (S. 5:116-117)
  • Christ was merely a prophet (S. 5:75)
  • Christ did not die on the cross (S. 4:157)
If this is given by the same God of Christianity, then God is the author of confusion.
...mankind's judge on the last day.
It is indeed true that Muslims and Christians both believe that God will judge men in a great day of judgment and eternal life. The problem is the God of Islam will not judge Christians the way Christians will expect Him to judge them:
They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. [S. 5:74; Yusuf Ali; emphasis mine]

They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. [S. 5:73; emphasis mine]
According to Islam, Christians will be condemned to hell for their belief in the Trinity. If this is the "one, merciful God" which the Catechism claims both Muslims and Christians worship, then we are to believe that God is a sadist, creating Islam and Christianity and letting them go at each other like a brute child wiles up red and black ants against one another.

As offensive as this might be to some people, the Roman Catholic Catechism is absolutely, positively dead wrong on this issue.


  1. I think that the Catholic Church has allowed itself too many concessions to liberal activists and the like. However, to be fair, if you go a few paragraphs down the catechism it does state the following:

    "846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it."
    I think that the mincing of words in paragraph 841 is unnecessary political correctness - the sort of thing that has infected protestant "churches" as well (I think of the ELCA in particular, which as of 2009 condones the open homosexuality and the ordination of homosexual pastors - let alone the fact they already ordained female pastors). It is certainly a troubling thing when the "church" begins to conform itself to the likeness of the world, rather than to her Savior.

  2. Daniel - That's why I said if they ever update the catechism, it would be wise for the Roman Catholics to clarify what they mean, because this kind of wishy-washiness has not helped their congregations. I've spoken to Roman Catholics who, in a similar fashion, have said, "Well we believe in salvation in Christ alone...but Muslims claim to believe in the same God we do, so they must be saved too."

    Incidentally, some time ago I was pointed to these words of Pope Paul VI:

    "We feel sure that, as Representatives of Islam, you join in Our prayer to the Almighty, that He grant all African believers that desire for pardon and reconciliation so often commended in the Gospels and in the Koran." [source]

    Again, this presents a kind of universalist approach to Islam and the question of whether or not they worship the same God Christians do. Political correctness or not, it's steering more and more away from any resemblance of orthodoxy.

  3. Well said. It's like they are keeping the semblances of orthodoxy (e.g. paying lip service to "saved through Christ and His Church") in order to keep the traditionalists satiated, while developing a more and more unionistic theology and use of terminology to keep the ever-growing "New Age" crowd appeased. The pattern can be seen in all denominations, though. It's a sign of the times, I'm afraid.

  4. Agreed.

    I recall hearing a story about John MacArthur on CNN. Of course, he was the sole voice of biblical reason, and at one point one of the liberal pastors (and an open homosexual) said something to MacArthur to the effect of, "You're so caught up in the words of the Bible that you don't understand what it means!" The fact a person in religious authority could make that kind of statement is simply shocking, but that's the liberal universalism that is infecting many supposed Christian churches today.

  5. Unfortunately, that's what happens when the focus is placed on our good works and creating some kind of utopia here, rather than on the merits of Christ and the utopia He is preparing above. If we would just epitomize the latter, the former would happen (among the church at least) as a natural expression.

  6. Someone on Facebook responded to this post in the negative, and made this comment during their argument:

    "...Lord have mercy, I am a CHRISTIAN and your argument that Christ is the only way to God and back that up with a verse is arrogantly REDUNDANT and POINTLESS if not offensive."

    So...believing that Christ is our only salvation and backing it up with scripture to show the belief is biblical is...pointless and offensive? This is what we're dealing with here.

  7. Based on some of your blog posts and comments thus far, you sure seem to have some interesting characters on your FB account!

  8. In many ways, it's a blessing and a curse.