Jesus and Jihad (part two)

Jesus and Jihad

I talked to a Muslim friend recently that said Islam and Christianity are ninety-six percent the same. I strongly disagree with him and believe most informed Muslims would as well. There is an irrevocable difference between Christianity and Islam. Some Christian missionaries go and die if need be, whereas some Muslim “missionaries” go and kill if need be. This is because Jesus died and said take up your crosses whereas Muhammad killed and said take up your swords. Jesus promises salvation through justification; Muhammad claims it comes through jihad. 

It is important to understand that Jesus (Isa in the Qur’an) is quite prominent in the Qur’an and is held to be a prophet. The Qur’an assumes that its readers will have a working knowledge of Jesus and His teaching (cf. Surah 2:136; 4:29; 5:46). Islam even teaches that Jesus will return and carry out justice and “break the cross.”[1] However, there is a very large contrast between what the Qur’an teaches about religious use of violence and what Jesus teaches on violence. So, let’s look at what Jesus has to say about violence.

Christians follow Jesus—who did not fight but laid dead in the grave and then rose again!—and Muslims follow Muhammad, who fought and killed and lays dead in the grave. There is a difference between how Christians and Muslims live and die because there is a difference between how Jesus lived and died (and rose!) and how Muhammad lived and died. Christians, through Jesus Christ, can live in calm certainty even in the midst of persecution’s galls[2] but Muslims hope to malinger, maybe, with Muhammad’s help. 

Islam and Christianity both care about morality but the Islamic view on what is wrong with humanity as well as the basis of salvation is totally different. For Christians, there is a sure and unwavering salvation in Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, for Muslims the surest way to salvation is jihad, through others’ death and destruction. Salvation comes by Jesus giving His life, whereas, in jihad, salvation comes through taking a life. Jesus says, take up your cross (Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Mk. 8:34; Luk. 9:23; 14:27), the Qur’an says put certain people on crosses (Surah 5:33). The teaching of the Gospel (in the Qur’an known as the Injil) (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the teaching of the Qur’an are radically different.

Religion creates a world in its own image, it cannot do otherwise.[3] What kind of community could Christianity create? A world where forgiveness, kindness, charity and grace are combined. There are many powerful and formative moral imperatives from the New Testament.[4] However, one would search the New Testament in vain to find something similar to the Qur’anic passages we referenced earlier regarding jihad. What kind of community could Islam create? Now obviously, this is an example. However, the truth remains, there are consequences to ideas, there are consequences to religions. 

When paradise requires violence in the hands of mortals there will be hell on earth. We will reenact atrocities and reincarnate the likes of Hitler. Jesus never forced anyone to convert nor did He promote others doing so. In part, because the truth is, conversion is a matter of the heart and it is a work of God to convert.

The Qur’an says, “There shall be no compulsion in religion” (2:256) but that seems to have been abrogated for Islam. However, for Christianity, that principle is alive and well. The Bible teaches that Jesus will make every knee bow and confess Him as Lord (Phil. 2:10) but He did not do that while He was on earth and He did not exhort His followers to do that. Rather, when His followers did fight Jesus healed the victim’s wounds (see Matt. 26:50-56; Lk. 22:47-51; Jn, 18:10). So, Jesus is being led away to be crucified and He heals one of the people taking Him away to die; that is one reason why Islam and Christianity are so vastly different.

Sure, there are people that point to the crusades and say that there terrible atrocities that have been carried out in the name of Christianity. Maybe that is the case, although recent scholarship has argued that the crusades may not be such a good thing to point to after all.[5] However, there certainly have been so-called “Christian” terrorist organizations like the Army of God that have carried out anti-abortion violence. However, their ideology is widely unaccepted and demonstrably unbiblical. That is not the case with Islamic extremists.

Qur’an 9:13 says, “Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are [truly] believers” and then goes on to say, “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them” (9:14 see also 9:29). Whereas the Bible says, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). But Jesus is not talking in reference to warfare; He is talking about having your body destroyed because of persecution.


After our brief study, we are in a good place to make a few observations. First, not all Muslims are the same. Part of loving our neighbor is understanding our neighbor. A good place to start is to realize that not all Muslims are terrorists or support terrorists. Islamophobia is going to hinder the genuine love and concern that we are called to. It is true that terrible things happen, and happen at the hands of some Muslims. However, Jesus has called us to bold love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn. 4:18). Though realize there is still a place for wisdom. We are to be innocent and wise. Second, the Qur’an does very clearly seem to command religious motivated acts of violence although some do not practice those surahs or like that they are in the Qur’an. Lastly, and most importantly, Christianity and Islam (or at least their religious texts) see religious violence completely differently because of their founders. Jesus in a huge glaring contrast to Muhammad, does not take His enemies’ life but lays His own life down that all who turn to Him in repentance for forgiveness will be saved. 

Suggested Reading




[1] The Hadith teaches this. See: Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 3, Book 34, Num. 425.

[2] Bengamin Lee Hegeman, “Persecution and the New ‘Normal’ World: ‘When persecuted, we endure.’ (1 Cor. 4:12)” in SBJT 18.1 (2014): 99-123. The NT gives Christians and expectation of suffering: For Acts see: 5:41; 7:58; 8:3; 9:1, 15-16; 13:50; 14:22; 16:19-24; 20:23-24. In the Pauline corpus see: Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:7; 24:9;13; 2 Cor. 1:3-7; 2 Cor. 4:7-12; 16-18; 2 Tim. 1:8; 3:12; 4:5; 1 Thess. 3:3-4 (“we are destined for this”); Phil. 1:29; 3:7-21 (note esp. v. 17). For the rest of the NT see: Matt. 5:10-12; 7:13-14; 10:22; 24-25; 37-39; 16:24-26; Mark 8:34-37; 13:13; Luke 6:22-23; 40; 9:23-24; 14:27; 21:16-19; John 15:18-21; 16:33; 1 Peter 2:18-25 (note esp. v. 21); 3:13-18; 4:12 (“do not be surprised… as though something strange were happening to you”); 5:10-11; Heb. 13:12-14; Rev. 2:10. Paul even speaks of suffering for Christ as a privilege. He says suffering has been graciously granted to us. The word for “granted” in Philippians 1:29 is the Greek word  which is from the same root as the noun for grace (ϛ) and it could be translated as “give graciously.” Paul is saying that God has been gracious in allowing us the privilege to suffer for His sake.

[3] Nietzsche said: philosophy always creates the world according to its own image, it cannot do otherwise (Nietzsche, Beyond God and Evil, par 9).

[4] See for example: Matt. 25:40; Lk. 6:31; 36; 38; 10:25-37; 16:10-15; Rom. 12:11-13; 15:1-3; 2 Cor. 8:9-15; 9:6-15; 12:15; Gal. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:28-29; 1 Tim. 6:17-19; 1 Jn. 3:16-19; Heb. 13:16; Heb. 13:1-6; James 1:27; 2:8.

[5] See e.g. Rodeny Stark, “The Care for the Crusades” in SBJT 20.2 (2016): 9-28 and Thomas F. Madden, “The Real History of the Crusades” in Christianity Today, May, 2005.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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