Sins & Salvation in Christianity

Any attempt at trying to understand ‘sin and salvation’ in Christianity, as opposed to Islam, requires a clear understanding of modern Christianity and Islam.

Muslims believe that both Christianity and Judaism, in their original form as religions proclaimed by their prophets, Jesus and Moses, respectively, conform to the religion of Islam, at least theologically. Muslims believe that the God of Moses and the God of Jesus is the same God who spoke to Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon all the Prophets. They believe that God sent prophets and messengers to guide humanity. That God did indeed reveal the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Bible to Jesus and the Quran to Muhammad. They believe that each prophet and messenger preached the Oneness of God, that ‘there is none worthy of worship but God’. That God’s will resides over all, yet he has given each individual the choice to chose which path they take. That God will resurrect all of mankind on the Day of Judgement, where the righteous will be rewarded with Paradise and the wretched will suffer in Hell. That God has created angels to do His bidding; amongst them there are those who manage the affairs of this world such as the archangel Michael; Israfīl is in control of the ‘Great Trumpet’ which will be used to commence the Day of Judgement; the Angel of Death is in charge of taking life; Gabriel is the one who brought revelation to all the prophets; the ‘Noble Scribes’ that linger with each individual record the good and the bad. All acting with the permission of God.

The primordial doctrines of all three Abrahamic faiths can be seen to be very much in conformity with Islam, except that Muslims believe that through the passage of time, scholars and ‘men of religion’ began to depart from the ‘truth’ of God’s message and began to alter aspects of Christianity and Judaism. Two key ‘aspects’

introduced into Christianity, almost 300 years after the death of Christ was (1) his divinity that Jesus is a ‘son of God’ during the First Council of Nicaea AD 325, and (2) the doctrine of ‘original sin’, introduced first by Augustine of Hippo (AD 354–430), both of which laid down the foundations of modern Christology

Despite that fact that not all Christians claimed Jesus to be ‘son of God’ and that not all Christians believed in the doctrine of ‘original sin’, these became popular views, such that most Christians still adhere to these in modern times.

The Doctrine of Original Sin

‘Original Sin’ has become a core tenet of faith amongst Christians who claim that Adam and Eve had sinned when they ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, and as a result they had fallen from grace and were expelled, forced to live out the rest of their lives on the remainder of Earth, often depicted to be barren and desolate during its first age. Thereafter all the children of Adam were born in a perpetual state of sin, and that God sent Jesus Christ as a saviour and redeemer who then died on the Cross for this original sin committed by his forefather Adam. Therefore, to gain salvation from sin, one must atone by repenting for the original sin and believing in Jesus Christ as the ‘son of God’ who was sent to purge man from sin and must believe in his crucifixion as an act of sacrifice.

Sin & Salvation in Islam

Both the belief that Jesus is son of God and the doctrine of ‘original sin’ are contentious issues in Islam. Islam purports a pure monotheism free of any partners associated to God. God says in the Quran, ‘Say: “He is God the One, God the Eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. Nor is there to Him any equivalent”.’ [112:1-4]. And He says, ‘the Creator of the heavens and earth. He made mates for you from among yourselves, and for the animals too, so that you may multiply. There is nothing like Him: He is the All Hearing, the All Seeing.’ [42:11].

Neither does Islam nor the Quran claim that Adam and Eve had sinned as such. Muslims believe that Adam and Eve were placed in an ethereal Garden of Eden,

not of Earth, and that they were forbidden from approaching a particular tree. But Adam was betrayed by Satan who had whispered and deceived him and given him false hope. He ate from the forbidden tree and as a result was cast down to reside on earth, him, Eve and their progeny. Then they repented and asked for forgiveness and as a result God forgave them and honoured them and made them the custodians of Earth. Muslims do not see this as a ‘sin’ rather as a mistake of sorts for which they had been forgiven, yet they were destined to bear out the consequences of their actions by living a mortal life on Earth. In Islam prophets are viewed as infallible, with their past and future sins forgiven.

Furthermore, why should the children of Adam bear the sin of his mistake? On the contrary, in Islam, every individual is responsible for their actions. God says in the Quran, ‘that no soul shall bear the burden of another; that man will only have what he has worked towards; that his labour will be seen and that in the end he will be repaid in full for it.’ [53:38-41]

Muslims see Jesus as a revered and beloved prophet of God. That indeed he was born from Mary a virgin birth. That he did indeed perform miracles of healing. Yet he was a man, made from clay, just like Moses before him and Muhammad after him. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified, rather another was placed in his stead. They believe that Jesus will indeed return as the promised Messiah, slay the Anti-Christ, and bring back order and justice. Yet every individual is responsible for their own deeds. No bad deed goes unpunished and no good deed is wasted except that the one who performs it is rewarded.

In Islam, salvation lies in the hands of each individual separately. If they believe in God alone as the only one who is worthy of worship, they obey his commandments, abstain from his prohibitions, believe in His Angels, Messengers and Prophets, Books and Scriptures, the Final Day, and that all good and bad is from God, and repent for their sins, then they have achieved salvation.

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