What is Chrislam?
Syncretism is the fusion or blending of differing systems of belief. "Chrislam" is an attempt to syncretize Christianity with Islam, therefore the name "Chris" for Christ and "lam" for Islam. Its central belief is that Christianity and Islam are compatible, worship the same God, and that a person can be both a Christian and a Muslim at the same time. It attempts to blur the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam.
It is a cult.
Chrislam reportedly began in the 1980s among the Yoruba of Nigeria and has spread somewhat worldwide. Berlin, Germany has announced that a new worship building is being constructed; The House of One. Reportedly, Jews, Christians, and Muslims will meet in different facilities - a synagogue, a church, and a mosque - under one roof. According to their website [02/20/2017], "The three separate sections will be linked by a communal room in the center of the building. This will serve as a meeting place, where worshippers and members of the public can come together and learn more about the religions and each other."
This "blending" has been observed on numerous other fronts. According to The Washington Times, in June 2014, Pope Francis authorized Islamic prayers and readings from the Qu'ran at the Vatican; stated to be an attempt to usher in peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He has also taken some other rather questionable actions:
(1) According to the Wall Street Journal, on November 29, 2014, Pope Francis prayed with the Grand Mufti Rahmi Taran facing east in a mosque in Istanbul. Muslims pray their five daily prayers towards the east, towards the city of Makkah; towards the Kaaba.
(2) According to The Huffington Post, on September 23, 2015, Pope Francis stated at St. Patrick's Cathedral: "I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer. My sentiments of closeness, my sentiments of closeness in the face of tragedy. The tragedy that they suffered in Mecca. In this moment, I give assurances of my prayers. I unite myself with you all. A prayer to almighty god, all merciful.
In addition, to calling Muslims "my brothers and sisters" and lending credibility to their feast (Eid al-Adha, a feast celebrating the fictitious claim that Abraham followed Allah's command to sacrifice his son Ishmael), the last phrase of the Pope's comments are consistent with Islamic beliefs, as they recognize Allah as the all-merciful one (cf. 1:3; 55:1).
Pope Francis has not stated that he is advocate of Chislam, but some are asking if he is interested in joining the world's two largest religions? The Catholics are not alone in this. In June 2016, the PCUSA offered up prayers to Allah at their 222 General Assembly. The representative, Wallid Said, stated at the beginning of the Assembly, "Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on a straight path - the path of all the prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus, and Muhhamd." Moreover, ABC affiliate KTXS, on January 17, 2017, reported that the Methodist-affiliated, McMurry University, besides having a Muslim Student Association, has dedicated some space in one of the school's dorms for its Muslim students' daily prayers.
Some have not heard of Chrislam, but it is seemingly on the rise.
Some Similarities and Differences:Teaching on Jesus
The Qur'an mentions Jesus some 25 times, so Christianity and Islam must serve the same God?
But, the Book of Mormon mentions Christ's name (in some form) an average of every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon. Mormonism is a cult. See "Is Mormonism a cult?" below. Just because an atheist, or any other unbeliever, mentions the name of Jesus doesn't make them a Christian.
So, what advocates of Chrislam see as a similarity actually exposes a major difference. Islam believes that Jesus is not God (5:17). They reject the deity of Christ. The Qur'an emphatically states that the very idea that Jesus is God is blasphemy (5:17). Moreover, Muslims deny the death of Christ on the Cross (4:157-158). Islam and Christianity radically differ. See notes on Islam below.
Teachings on Ethics and Morals
Christianity and Islam having some similar teachings on morals and ethics, so they are the same religion?
While there is some overlap in the works of Christianity and Islam (and other religions), there is a great difference in their intended purpose, motivation, and author. Islam teaches salvation by works, while true Christianity teaches salvation by grace alone (Eph 2:10). For Muslims forgiveness is based on a combination of Allah's grace and the their works (8:29; 33:70-71; 42:26; 49:14); if a Muslim's good works outweigh their bad ones (18:105; 21:47; 23:102-103) and if Allah so wills it, a Muslim may be forgiven of their sins and enter Paradise. In Christianity, the believer is saved unto good works, not by them (Tit 2:14; cf. Gal 2:21). In Christianity, the believer does good works because God lives in them (Col 1:27; Phil 2:13). The faithful Christian does not will and work independently of God, but their wills and actions are the very areas in which God's own power manifests itself (Phil. 4:13; 1 Thess. 2:13).
Chrislam is not the Gospel
The teachings of Chrislam and Islam are not the Gospel "once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Christ alone mediates salvation (1 Tim 2:5) and actually saves (John 3:36; 14:6). Acts 4:12 states, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." No other name includes Muhammad and Allah. Christ lived a perfect sinless life, died, and rose again (1 Cor 15:1-4). In Jesus' perfect works he fulfilled the entire law, so we wouldn't have too (Rom 8:3-4). Christ alone took his people's punishment and makes them righteous before God the Father (2 Cor 5:21).
Grace alone is the Gospel. While true Christianity includes good works, they are not the efficient cause of salvation; rather good works are a true result of it. Unlike the Qur'an, the Bible never even remotely suggests that good works are the ground of the believer's salvation, nor the instrument of the same.
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Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).