We can’t help but think of paradise and life everlasting with death lurking around the corner. Let’s talk about what life is and get a happy story by the end of our discussion. If I am to say, “I live,” I state that I perpetually exist. If I am to say, “my life will end soon,” then it’s the same as saying, “my life was not real.” When we think about God being alive, then life takes on a character that goes beyond time and space continuum. Therefore, life in the purest form is being. Life is to exist and to say other than that is contrary to the definition of life. But the reality is that death is in this world. While we instinctively know that we ought to live on, death is there to remind us of annihilation. How do we make sense of this dilemma? Life facing death is a profound philosophical question that humanity struggled with throughout history. Religions are the ones that are striving to respond to this profound question. Most of the religions propose a concept of salvation and the idea of paradise after death. Hence we turn to religions to seek out the answer about salvation.
Atheists only achieved greater confusion on this subject. The best they came up with is that the future holds the truth. This is such hopelessness when we are facing death today. Polytheism never offered an answer. Gods are gods and mortals are mortals, if you are born as a mortal, you die as a mortal. Greeks were the most advanced in their mythology of polytheism. In Greek mythology, the afterlife is a life of the inactive state of existence. They did not offer salvation. What they did offer was achieving the heights of being in the presence of the Gods. And to reach those heights, you would have to become a hero. Once that is accomplished, it’s short-lived due to the nature of being a mortal. Mortals were never created to have everlasting life. The height of your life is to be in the presence of the Gods until the old age and eventually join all others in the eternal state of inactiveness. Filed away souls with no intention of ever being retrieved.
Other forms of polytheism went into absurd ideas where things do not reflect any known reality. These would be Hinduism, Buddhism and other similar religions. They vary to some degree, but they all fall under the same umbrella of criticism. Their idea of paradise is a temporary existence, only to be reborn into earthly life again. It’s a vicious cycle of reincarnation. “Sorry, that’s not good enough, try again.” Therefore a higher order of thought was developed to free humanity from the reincarnation. What they came up with was Moksha. Moksha is an idea that our state of mind is liberated from the earthly and material life, it achieves the highest realization of spirituality, freedom from ignorance of self-realization, self-actualization, and self-knowledge by gaining oneness with supreme soul. This is an absurd idea, in other words, it’s the annihilation of self. What they are left with is a soul, whatever that might be. What matters here to us is the self-identity and not whatever is left. No one cares or should care what happened to us after the self-consciousness is annihilated. Therefore you are damned if you exist and you’re damned if you die. Under these pantheistic and panentheistic ideas, life is “torment” and we ought to strive towards the annihilation of our self-conscious, self-determined existence. Therefore, it’s better not to ever exist in the first place. By the way, no one knows what caused conscious life to appear, or how it came to be, or how in the world are morals even play into this worldview system. If salvation is based on good works, then they are admitting there is such a thing as moral values. The problem is there is no such thing in an unconscious soul. Morality is derived from a self-consciousness relating to another self-consciousness. In conclusion, the idea self-contradicts itself. So yeah… not sure what hope there is in this polytheistic worldview either.
As you can guess, I am leading you towards monotheism. Monotheism assumes there is a being that eternally and necessarily exists. In our minds, God is the greatest conceivable being from whom all elements of life have to come from. One of these elements is moral sense. God possesses moral perfection. Due to this, we can ground our innate sense of morality into a personal God who possesses it in a perfect form. This perfect form is a perfect balance of love and justice. The problem is that we understand this is real, but we can’t live up to it. Failing our moral responsibility creates a problem. With moral perfection, punishment has to be served. Perfect righteousness demands repayment for the damage that was caused. Different views by different religions have been proposed to resolve the issue of punishment and love. How can humanity resolve moral corruption? To my knowledge monotheism offers the best answers.
Let’s start with Islam and see how they solved the moral corruption issue. Islam is a later development in history after Christianity and Judaism. What Islam proposes is vastly different from the Judeo-Christian idea of salvation. Islam does not hold to the original sin of man, the corruption of human nature. Since human nature was never corrupted, a savior like Jesus of Christianity is not required to achieve the idea of salvation. I want to make a note and point out that this idea is not exclusive to Islam only. Many Christian theologians reject the idea of original sin, including most of the Orthodox Church. But the Orthodox Church still claims that a savior is necessary to free us from the bondage of sin. The rest of the theologians that reject the original sin also walk away from core Christian doctrines which separate them from Christian faith altogether. Let’s get back to Islam. What Islam holds to is a scale of the good versus evil. If you have done more good than evil, then Allah will consider taking you to paradise. Let’s read the Quran reference.
6 We will question those to whom messengers were sent, and We will question the messengers.
7 We will narrate to them with knowledge, for We were never absent.
8 The scales on that Day will be just. Those whose weights are heavy—it is they who are the successful.
9 But as for those whose weights are light—it is they who have lost their souls, because they used to mistreat Our revelations.
There are fundamental moral values that a Muslims must follow to make it to paradise, and there are duties that are asked of Muslim as well. Those duties are prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and living according to the Quran. A description of what is “good enough” is not given in the Quran. And that is fine, what is important here is the concept of salvation was given, which is the scale of good versus evil. After all, we are human and not endowed with perfection, therefore, it is natural to expect failures. The idea here is that humanity will not enter into paradise perfect, but instead, it’s another place for us to live and to grow. If we think about this concept being implemented by God perpetually forward, I think we can all agree that humanity would eventually achieve near perfection.
Let’s lay out Judeo-Christian view of salvation. Jews and Christians believe in the original sin. Humans were created innocent and became corrupt after pursuing the idea of becoming Gods. The serpent in Genesis 3:5 stated the following “You will not certainly die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The pursuit of becoming like Gods, independence from God, caused human nature to become corrupt. This means that before the fall, we were not able to sin. And after the fall we are not able to “not sin.” Because we are not able to overcome temptation, death is the result of it. As God stated to Adam,
“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Death is in this world due to men separating from God spiritually. Once the relationship was broken in the mind of men, disobedience became natural to men. And disobedience brought death.
For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
Death is the big issue that God is trying to solve. A savior is needed to save us from death. Jews are still waiting for that savior while Christians believe that Jesus is that savior. Jesus took human nature on himself to restore it back to life. Humanity is dualistic in nature; this is body and spirit composite. Two things have to be done for restoration to take place. One, righteousness has to be served. Two, the relationship has to be restored.
Let’s start with righteousness. Since humanity is a composite of physical and spiritual essence, God had to resolve death in the body and the spirit. Christians theologians agreed on the following claim “that which is not assumed cannot be saved.” This means that God has to have a physical body for Him to be able to save it. Since God is a spirit, a body is required to qualify Him as a human being. Not just a manifested temporary body but the same dualistic condition that we are composed of. The claim is that we already are in an image of God when we look at the makeup of what a spirit is. We are relational, personal, moral and self-conscious. The only thing that is required is the body and the condition of body and mind to be able to restore humanity. Once God took on human nature, the payment for sin was possible. Therefore, Jesus paid for the sins with his body.
1 Peter 2:24
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
Then Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, how slow are your hearts to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then to enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself
Two, the trust had to be established. The relationship has been broken between humanity and God. God has to become a God to us again, a sustainer of life. Once a person repents from his sin in his heart, God regenerates that person back to Himself by giving him a new spirit.
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
What does that mean? And how does that look like? Most agree that it’s a restoration of the relationship between men and God. And when this happens, your state of mind (spirit) renews or regenerates. Before, the regeneration the mind was independent of God and after, it submits and depends on God once again. Our spirit was reborn, hence producing thoughts and will towards God.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Jesus restored that perfect relationship between God and humanity by taking on a submissive form by taking on the human nature and living out an obedient life to the Father (One of the persons in the Godhead). Hence producing eternal security of human nature to exist. By this point, many of you raised a flag about Trinity. Read the following article to understand the Christian perspective on Trinity: Allah and Love.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Hopefully, that explains the Christain view of salvation to all my readers. We are going to evaluate this idea and see if it’s true and if it’s necessary.
When we look at face value, we can see that both systems are possible. Historically speaking, Jews and Christians have the upper hand. Bible has impeccable traceability of their scripture. This means they can trace textual error down to a single letter. Of just the known 5,800+ Greek New Testament manuscripts, there are more than 2.6 million pages! That equates to one mile of New Testament manuscripts (and 2.5 miles for the entire Bible), compared with an average four feet of a manuscript by the average classical writer. Combining both the Old and New Testament, Christians have more than 66,000 manuscripts and scrolls that speak to the historical validity of Scripture! Hence the reason why they can trace corruptions down to a spelling error or a missing comma. Christian doctrinal claims today are trustworthy based on historical evidence. It’s best to look at the Quran from a different angle altogether. Quran has to stands on faith and truth rather than historical evidence.
God has blessed the believers, as He raised up among them a messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His revelations, and purifies them, and teaches them the Scripture and wisdom; although before that they were in evident error.
Islam claims that humanity is a progressive nature. We grow, and we mature in our knowledge of all things, this includes moral ethics. How could God create a nature that is unable to sin? Only God is morally perfect. So far this sounds like a good and solid argument. For us to evaluate this further, we need to break down the aspects of human nature and see where it leads us. The two elements that we care about in human beings are relational/personal and moral elements.
We are relational/personal beings. This entails a self-conscious mind with freedom of the will. The profound truth in this statement is very deep and powerful. How can God create something with free will? How can God be sovereign with other self-determined agents? Now, we are not after trying to define what freedom of will is but after the reality of things. And we know that we are free agents that are relational from our experience.
In the created world all things come from God and are sustained by God. Nothing can exist apart from God. Let’s make a simple logic statement. Nothing can be created out of nothing, or something has to exist prior to other things being created. It follows then, if something is created, it has to be preserved, and if something is preserved, it has to be sustained by God. When applying this to a relational being that is created, we have to apply the same logic. A personal relationship has to be preserved and sustained by God. If this link is severed, then it can not be sustained by God. If free agents walk away from Gods personal relationship, then they face imminent death. This link cannot be broken, yet God gave us the power to do that. When we speak of us as personal beings, we have to be in the personal relationship with God or else we are doomed. All monotheistic religions agree that God is seeking to reunite with us, leading us to accept that humanity severed the relationship with God. This is not something that happens between friends but with the eternal God, meaning the personal relationship carries in itself eternal consequences. If you remove yourself from a relationship with God, your nature is changed. At one point you had the source of life to overcome temptation, now that source is gone. This is a change in human nature or at least a change in a state of mind. We condemned ourselves by walking away from God. We are in need of God saving us because we do not have the source of life in us anymore.
Loss of a spiritual relationship with God affects our ability to function normally, especially from a moral sense point of view. How can we restore that relationship when the fundamental trust has been severed? We cut the cord, therefore, are corrupted in our nature. Nature that does not trust God cannot turn back using its own natures condition. Hence, the reason for a savior is needed. How else can something like this be solved?
What we have done is crazy. And God giving humanity the ability to separate themselves from Himself is wreckless on His part. Why would you let kids play with fire in other words? We, as parents, know why! A real relationship requires freedom of the will. Without it, it’s impossible to build a relationship. This is a challenging design requirement, yet so profound. God knew a way, and this is through Christ Jesus only. Jesus took on human nature to save humanity. He died on the cross to pay for our sins. And He created a path for us to be reborn in spirit, reconnecting us in a relationship back to Him.
Quran does not touch on the subject of how to create a perfect relationship between God and humanity. God pushes us to depend on our own nature. So far we have proven through our observation that sins never end in our life, no matter how much time we apply towards it. And there is no compelling reason why we should get rid of all sin from our lives. A scale system of salvation is not based on reaching moral perfection but rather semi-good nature. Secondly, a scale based salvation system does not in itself presupposes a progression of maturity. It only shows your current state of maturity. This leads us to conclude that there is no guarantee that we will ever turn away from sin. If we sinned once, than all we have shown is that humanity is always capable of sinning. There is no counter-proof to this and paradise is not the counter-proof. And no fix is implemented into human nature. This kind of system is guaranteed to produce a love-hate relationship. This raises the big issue of eternal security. Why should God keep humanity around? Eventually, God’s frustration will overcome Him, and He will get rid of us.
Let us now touch on the moral element of a human being. In addition to resolving the relationship, there is the justice part that has to get addressed. True righteousness demands punishment to be served. In other words, guilt requires punishment or else justice is not served. Every proper court system exemplifies this idea today. Before we can restore a relationship, we have to pay the debt. Suppose a person stole money from someone. Later he regretted his actions and wanted to restore that relationship. The first thing he has to do is repay the debt. Since we walked away from the relationship with God, we lost the source of strength to overcome temptation. Then as soon as we were not able to overcome the temptation, we became guilty of sin that requires repayment. Sadly, repayment for sin is death. Why else is there death in this world? Read our other article on Allah and Death.
In the Quran, God can have mercy and forgives without punishment. This is true of any scale based salvation; God is forced to let sins go unpunished. If justice is not perfect, then God is not righteous. If God is not righteous, then He is not the source of moral ethics. If moral ethics are not grounded in God, then moral ethics are not real. How is hell or paradise defined? How does He determine who goes to hell or paradise? The idea becomes self-contradicting because there is no source of good or evil. We might as well say God created nothing but a puppet show and all of this is an illusion. There is no amount of good deeds you can do to make it to paradise. Our response to this is our experience and reality screaming out that this is not the God we serve. If anyone wants to stay faithful to the scale system of salvation, he has to admit to committing to the relativism of moral ethics. While we know, it’s self-refuting.
It is most likely that the Quran is not the Holy Book as many imams claim but rather a book that points to the holy book that does have all the answers and that is the Bible. The Quran supports this claim, take a look at the following verse and judge for yourself.
So let the people of the Gospel live according to what God revealed in it. Those who do not live according to what God revealed are the sinners.
The problem is that caliphs and imams are not prophets and are not capable of correctly interpreting the text according to the Quran. They are not endowed with this ability as the Quran claims.
It is He who revealed to you the Book. Some of its verses are definitive; they are the foundation of the Book, and others are unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the unspecific part, seeking dissent, and seeking to derive an interpretation. But none knows its interpretation except God and those firmly rooted in knowledge say, “We believe in it; all is from our Lord.” But none recollects except those with understanding.
And we know that the Gospel is the word of God according to Christian and Quranic claims. The truth about Jesus is not found in the Quran but in the Gospel. All the prophets testify to this before Jesus was born and all the historical evidence testify to it after Jesus died and resurrected.
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