The Islamic reversal of Christian gospel openness

As I drew attention to in this previous post, early on in the gospels and in Acts, we see barriers to the spread of salvation demolished in Christ and the apostles. The bloodline of Abraham is made irrelevant (God can raise them up out of rocks lying around.) The laws of the Torah are cast aside, making all food clean. Pentecost shows that no special language exists as the gospel crosses cultural and linguistic boundaries in many tongues at the drop of a hat. Even circumcision is rendered irrelevant. Along with this, we see the fear of the ocean taken away, opening up a straight highway and pushing the boundaries of the new Jerusalem to encompass all the earth.

In considering all this, it seems to me that Islam is largely a reversal of this at almost every point.

  • Islam claims a decendency from Abraham through Ishmael. Even if Muslims understand they may not technically be the genetic children of Ishmael, they are ‘adopted’ or ‘grafted’ into the family. In this way it is like Christianity, but the focus is on bringing men in, rather than spreading out.
  • The old food and worship laws are still very important. The details are debatable of course, but the underlying force is one of conformity to the rule, not freedom.
  • In high contrast to Pentecost and to the massive worldwide translation of the canon of scripture, the Koran is ONLY valid in old Arabic. Translations exist of course, but they are invalid for use in worship.
  • Circumcision is still a must and fully intact nethers are entirely unacceptable – even for women in some places.
  • A special geographic place, Mecca, is still at the heart of worship. Everyone must travel there if at all possible. It is the focal point and the House of Islam gathers people to its center, rather than send to the outer edges to stay.
  • Not a long-range sea-faring type, it has failed to ever spread far from it’s homeland in the near east. Muslim Indonesia could arguably be an exception to this, but after 1400 years, there is still no stronghold in the new world. It’s dynamic is wholly different.