3 Crazy Ways Christianity & Islam are Totally Different

Most Americans tend to think of religion as something rather fluid. It's very common for us to say things like "all religions are basically the same," and "we're all just pursuing god on our own path." What a religion ACTUALLY BELIEVES is just not seen as that important. But, as some famous person somewhere once said, "you become what you believe."

 

It was most definitely Oprah

It is also very common for the American media to talk about "Muslim extremists," by which they refer to the small, fringe group of people who actually believe in orthodox Islam. Muslims who follow what Islam actually teaches are not "fanatics." They are simply Muslims, and the same goes for Christianity.

Maybe you don't believe that specific tenants of faith are important at all to salvation. Perhaps you are one of these "many paths up the mountain," people. That's all well and good. I wish you luck on your journey. However, even if you think that beliefs are unimportant to god, perhaps you can concede some small ground. At least lets all agree that if one applies belief to life, belief leads to action, and action impacts our world. So lets look at three interesting ways that Islam and Christianity just don't quite line up. I'll let you decide which one, if lived, might have the better impact on the human race.

1. Joy

Get a load of this guy!

Islam

"Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. - Ayatollah Khomeini

 

Christianity  

“Joy is a gift from God. It fills us from within. It is like an anointing of the Spirit. And this joy is the certainty that Jesus is with us and with the Father.” Pope Francis in his Christmas homily last year.

Pope Francis is absolutely speaking the message of Jesus, whose Spirit is Joy itself.  As he says in scripture: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

 - John 15:9-11

 

2. Love

Islam

The Arabic word love, “hubb,” in all its grammatical forms, is used only 69 times in the Qur'an. Out of those 69 times, God’s love for man is mentioned only 20 times, and only in relation to what he loves and does not love. For example:  “Those that keep their plighted faith and act aright, -- verily Allah loves those who act aright.” 3:76 

Christianity

Just in ONE CHAPTER of scripture, "love" is used 27 times.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love…." I John 4:7-8

The New Testament alone lists 223 uses of a comparable translation of the word “love.”

3. Heaven


Islam

Allah’s Apostle (The blessing and peace of Allah be upon him) said: "In Paradise there is a pavilion made of a single hollow pearl sixty miles wide, in each corner of which there are wives who will not see those in the other corners; and the believers will visit and enjoy them." Sahih Al-Bukhari 4879.

Sounds like a great place for men if you’re a sex addict! Doesn't sound so good for women though. But that’s ok, because most women won't make it:

 “O women! Give to charity, for I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-Fire were women.. You curse frequently, and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.” Sahih Al-Bukhari 1462

Christianity

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Revelation 8:4-6

 “Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 14:21-23 

Who does God have a heart for, according to Christianity? The poor, the oppressed, the suffering, the outcasts.  In Christianity, heaven is a place of complete unity where the lowly are lifted up and the high and mighty are made low. Sounds like a win to me.

Final Score:

Christianity 3. Islam 0.


Blog By Marcellino D’Ambrosio

Marcellino D'Ambrosio started doing youth ministry in college at Ave Maria University. He is an expert waterbaloon filler, a veteran dodgeball player, and a slightly above average joke teller. He is a speaker, musician, and web designer. Check out his portfolio here.
 

How to Get Off Your High Horse and Eccumanize

“…and every third Sunday, we have a Beatles service.”

I did an internal double-take. My friend was just describing her Methodist church and what their services were like, and that was the last thing I expected. I maintained an expression of calm interest as I pictured a spiritually transcendent rendition of “Yellow Submarine.” 

It's preferable to "Gather Us In," but still...

It's preferable to "Gather Us In," but still...

It was what you might call an ecumenical moment. 

I don’t mean ecumenical in a “let’s all get along” kind of way. I think that’s how most Catholics think of ecumenism, that it’s being nice. But it’s way more important than that. While we as Catholics have the fullness of revelation, there’s a huge thing we often forget: all Christians are the Body of Christ. 

Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Anglican, Episcopalian, and thousands of others. All believers in Christ are members of His Body. 

Obviously, the Body of Christ is fragmented in our time. But the goal of all Christians should be a) healing the wounds between us, and b) doing God’s work together. To do that, we need an ecumenism that is possible for individuals. And I don’t mean just attending the local Interfaith Sunrise Easter Mountaintop Candlelit Service every year. Let’s get practical.

Then again, it's always fun playing with fire...

Then again, it's always fun playing with fire...

Ask questions about their faith.

Let’s imagine for a moment that, after hearing about the Beatles service, I immediately stopped my friend and harangued her about how Beatles music was not appropriate for church. If I hadn’t kept my mouth shut, I wouldn’t have heard about her church’s intense homeless ministry. I wouldn’t have asked about what the ministry does, and I would not have been summarily given a blanket to distribute to the next homeless person I saw. 

Now, I really don’t get how a Beatles service works; I seriously don’t see the attraction. But that’s not the point. Between all the theological differences, diverging musical taste is the least of our problems. Nor is the point of ecumenism to befriend the enemy, infiltrate his camp, and poach them for your parish. 

The first step in ecumenism is honoring the faith of others. Just because someone isn’t Catholic doesn’t mean they don't really love God, or even that they’re not intelligent enough to understand the historical validity of the Catholic Church. My friend is a Methodist, she is an intelligent person, and she and her congregation do great work for God through their ministry. That’s awesome! I believe their work serves the Kingdom. I’m not going to respond to hearing about someone’s faith by proselytizing; I’m going to praise God for what they’re doing. 

This doesn’t mean that the Catholic Church is any less the true Church. But Christ said: 

"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) 

The most practical way to share that love and honor someone's faith is to ask questions. Even if you think someone’s faith practices are odd, don’t dismiss them. People love to share what they’re passionate about. Take Jehovah's Witnesses, for example. They love sharing so much that they started coming to my house every Tuesday.

Until we let them in and they saw all our statues and stuff. Guess they can't be ecumenical with idolaters...

Learn more Bible verses.

I live in the Bible Belt, and the average Baptist high schooler can probably rattle off more Bible verses in their sleep than I have memorized at all. It’s a Catholic stereotype, but it’s true of many of us: we don’t know as much of the Bible by heart as our Protestant brethren. (I could mention that, as Catholics, we have a lot more to read… you know, encyclicals and Catechisms and stuff, but still. The Bible was first.) 

So many encyclicals.

So many encyclicals.

Because of the sola scriptura doctrine, Protestants actually have an entirely different language and vocabulary than we do.

They say, "I'm saved!" We say, "I have received the sacrament of Baptism, which washes away original sin and leaves an indelible mark on my soul." We have theological terms defined by years of study; they quote the Psalms. While our Catholic terminology is great, it creates a stumbling block for communication.

If we're going to be discussing matters of faith with our Protestant friends, we need use an old Jesuit principle that's worked for centuries: enter through their door and lead them through yours.

When Jesuit missionaries first came to China, they wore their somber cassocks and collars and attempted to convert people. They were generally ignored. So they came back dressed in the silk garments of royalty, which got them audience with people of power. Then things started happening.

The basic idea is to approach people through a familiar means to open a dialogue with them and lead them from there. 

So if you'll be discussing faith with a Protestant friend, learn more Bible verses. Get flashcards and learn a new one every week. Not only will it force you to read more Scripture, but it will also keep the lines of communication open between you and your other Christian friends.

You can talk about transubstantiation and the philosophical definitions of substances, accidents, and natures later.

Read the Catechism.

I’ve already said that ecumenism is not about proselytizing. Ironically, though, ecumenism may be the best way to open a dialogue that could actually lead to conversion. Say what?

It may be a generalization, but I’m going to declare by the power of 26 years of experiencing human nature that nobody listens to their enemies, only their friends. We will never convert a single person by attacking them with the power of rationality, and if we approach others merely with the purpose of “winning an argument,” we will never reach a soul. 

That being said, once we have honored the faith of others and we have the tools to communicate with them, we are in a position to answer questions regarding the Catholic faith. We become the “go-to Catholic.” That’s a big responsibility, because if you get asked a question, you should be ready to know the answer.

“Why do you worship Mary? How is the Pope infallible? Why can’t women be priests?”

Because this ^

If you don’t know the answer to those questions or to the thousand others that people have about Catholicism, you’re the worst Catholic ever! Go to confession for not memorizing the entire Catechism in Latin!

Joking… but we should all keep learning about our faith. There’s so much to know, but actually reading the Catechism is a great way to get an overview in terms that are easy to share. Even if you don’t know an answer to a question immediately, you can probably find it later in the Catechism.

Explain things with joy.

Catholicism is not a religion for wimps. On so many issues–contraception, abortion, divorce–we stand on the tougher side of things, and there are a lot of emotions tied up with these subjects.

As a small example, a coworker of mine was telling me that she’s not a regular churchgoer, but she definitely goes at Christmas. Knowing I was Catholic, she said, “I really wish the Catholic Church would have open communion. Everyone else does it, but the Catholic Church seems so exclusive.”

I explained as kindly as I could that our communion isn’t just a symbol, it’s an effective union and a declaration of our unity in belief, so that’s why it wasn’t open. I also said she was welcome to ask for a blessing if she wanted. I don’t think the answer satisfied her. But I wanted to clearly explain things with joy while not equating the Body of God with a Sunday Saltine. 

And just as no rational explanations alone will convert anyone, your answers will not be convincing unless they radiate the personal joy that comes from being Catholic. That’s the one thing Protestants can’t understand from the outside, and only joy can demonstrate it. 

Be joyful when you explain this one. Just don't be gleeful.

Be joyful when you explain this one. Just don't be gleeful.

Invite people to Mass.

I recently stayed at friend’s house for the weekend. While he’s not particularly religious, I invited him to join me at Mass on Sunday morning. He enjoyed the experience. Although he’s not about to go through RCIA by any stretch of the imagination, I was glad I got to share something that’s so important to me with a good friend. I got him in the same room with God, and God can do with that experience whatever He wants.

I think we’re hesitant as Catholics to invite people to Mass because there’s so much synchronized movement and speaking that happens, but it doesn’t need to be such a big deal. Would you invite someone to a Crossfit class or maybe hot yoga? Mass takes way lees coordination. If you talk to someone about religion, invite them to Mass without any pressure. 

Just remind them to turn their phones off.

Just remind them to turn their phones off.

Be sure to brief them about some things, and make sure they don’t expect any pop songs. (I mean, even if they played “Here Comes the Sun,” pun intended, a Beatles Mass would never fly. Just imagine that for a second.) God can do whatever He was with them; you just provide the opportunity.

In the end, that’s what ecumenism is about: keeping doorways open for God to accomplish His work through us, showing the world that our Catholic Faith brings us incredible joy, and hoping for the day when the Body of Christ will again be one, in answer to the prayer of Christ Himself:

"...that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me." (John 17:21)

BLOG BY CONOR hENLEY

Conor Hennelly got his start in writing when he began writing subversive literature against his home room teacher in 3rd grade. He never successfully obtained a full hour of recess time, but he did manage to graduate from Ave Maria University with a degree in philosophy. He now works in marketing, which basically means he makes you want things for a living. We here at The Crossroads Pursuit think that's pretty cool.

10 New Saints To Name Your Babies After (Part II): St. Thorlak Thorhallson

The Crossroads Pursuit has taken it upon itself a great and necessary task in the Church: to broaden our baby naming  horizons. Seriously guys, I have 5 friends named John Paul. JP II was awesome, but man. Lets give some of the other 8,000 Saints some love! The same goes for Confirmation Saints. If you haven't read the first post, check it out here. Nathan Gutman gave you six great names to add to your naming lists, and did it hilariously, if I might say so myself.

So now on to St Thorlak.
You’ve probably never heard of St. Thorlak Thorhallsson, but I already know what you're thinking: This is the perfect middle name. Think about how that would sound when yelling at your kid: "Gabriel Thorlak Peterson, get your but over here right this second!" But seriously though, he sounds like a cool guy (I mean, do you know anyone else who has “Thor” in their name twice), but who is he, and why’s he a saint? The first question is easy: he’s the patron saint of Iceland.

The land of fire and ice... and waterfalls and mountains and sheep.

Why he’s a saint is a little more complicated, but let’s just say that he was so much of a saint that even modern-day Lutherans eat hakarl to celebrate his feast day. That’s rotten Greenland shark.

Mmm. Delicious.

You see, Iceland has an interesting religious history. When the Vikings arrived, they brought their Norse religion of Odin and the other gods, which included human sacrifice. The Vikings first settled in the 800s, but it wasn’t until over a century later, in 1000 AD, that Iceland officially converted to Catholicism. Iceland is smaller in square miles than the state of Arkansas, and it’s way off by itself in the ocean. It took some doing.

Iceland, just chillin' by itself. (See what I did there?)

But just because it was declared Catholic didn’t mean everyone was a model Christian. When Thorlak was born in 1133 AD, the Catholic priests weren’t all living out their vows. As educated men, they held positions of power, and they often sold positions in the Church; many of them were also married. Basically, they figured they were so far off from the rest of the Church in Europe that they could do whatever they wanted and just take it easy. But God had other ideas.

Thorlak didn’t waste any time finding his vocation. We know because he was ordained a deacon at age 15. And a priest at 18. He left Iceland at age 20 to study in Paris and England, and returned when he was 28, bringing some spiritual order back with him.

Of course, he was an educated man who’d traveled the world, so naturally the first thing people tried to do when he got back was to marry him off to a rich widow. He would have fit it with many of the other priests, and it would surely have made them feel more comfortable about their own vices if he’d bowed to peer pressure and married Ingeborg. (No idea if that was her name.)

Sorry, Ingeborg. Not happening.

Thorlak had none of it. A devotee of the Augustinian Rule, he remained a celibate priest and founded a monastery in southern Iceland. Basically, he was the only one really crushing it at being a priest. The only one in the whole country.

He was doing such a good job at it that the Norwegian Archbishop consecrated Thorlak as Bishop and gave him the job of getting the rest of the Icelandic Catholics back in line. Despite his love for the monastic life, he was an active bishop for the rest of his days. He died on December 23, 1193, at age 60.

Sadly, Iceland later outlawed Catholicism during the Reformation, and the Lutheran Church of Iceland became the official religion. No Catholic priest was allowed in Iceland for centuries, until the mid-1800s. But there were so many miracles attributed to the holy bishop Thorlak, and the Lutherans kinda couldn’t get rid of him. Also, the Saga of Saint Thorlak was written in his honor. People remembered him.

Even before canonization, he was also regarded as a saint in England, although only locally, in the area where he'd studied. There was even a statue of him in a church in King's Lynn. When a visiting cleric asked who the heck that statue was of, he was told it was St. Thorlak of Iceland. Apparently this monk didn't think much of Icelanders, who on mainland Europe were referred to as morlandar, "sheep-suet-landers," because they ate a lot of sheep and suet sausage.

Probably as appetizing as the rest of Icelandic food.

The cleric ran to the pantry, got some sausage, and ran back to wave it at the statue, saying mockingly, "Want a bit, suet-man? You're a suet-bishop!"

A good idea? No. The cleric was frozen to the spot, in the middle of the church, sausage in hand, until he repented. Moral: you criticize St. Thorlak, you will be immobilized until you apologize.

December 23, St. Thorlak’s feast day, was also the last day of the old Catholic fast before Christmas, when people usually ate fermented skate to end the fasting (chased with a shot of Brennivin, of course--that’s Iceland’s signature liquor). But even after Catholicism was outlawed, people still celebrated his feast day, and they still celebrate it today.

It’s just like drinking Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day. Except, Iceland. And rotten shark.

Because of Iceland’s strange combination of volcanic activity and ancient glaciers, people often say, “God hasn’t finished making Iceland,” and that’s definitely true for the spirituality of Iceland as well. Let’s pray for St. Thorlak’s intercession for his country.

And let’s also pray that, whether or not we end up getting sagas or feast days with strange menus, we’ll always have the same commitment and courage as Iceland’s original saint.


BLOG BY CONOR HENLEY

Conor Hennelly got his start in writing when he began writing subversive literature against his home room teacher in 3rd grade. He never successfully obtained a full hour of recess time, but he did manage to graduate from Ave Maria University with a degree in philosophy. He now works in marketing, which basically means he makes you want things for a living. We here at The Crossroads Pursuit think that's pretty cool.