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Concept of Salvation in Seventh-day Adventist Church and in Islam


Concept of Salvation in Seventh-day
Adventist Church and in Islam 

Jaymark John D. Molo

“…Only he who is saved far from the fire and admitted to the garden will have attained the object (of life): for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.” (Surah 3:185b, Yusuf Ali)

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4, ESV)

Seventh-day Adventist and Islam share much common ground. Both believe in prophecy, God’s messengers, revelation, scripture, resurrection and man’s need of salvation. However, even though both religions hold some significant views, close examination shows conclusively that their teachings are widely divergent and contradictory. This does not exclude the topic of soteriology. This topic will become subject of this paper.

On this article, we will consider soteriology by contrasting some important points within the theological context of each religion. A biblical and philosophical evaluation will follow the presentation of each soteriology, with a conclusion at the end.

Christ and Salvation by Grace

 Seventh-day Adventists firmly and wholeheartedly believe that salvation is purely a gift from God in Jesus Christ. Sinful as we are, we can add nothing to the perfect righteousness of Christ, which he wrought out in his incarnation by his perfect obedience to the law of God and by his death on the cross for our sins. In the words of one of the Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists:

In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. Fundamental Beliefs, 9.[1]

This statement is a clear denial of salvation by works. Christianity teaches that man cannot earn salvation. However, God cannot just wink at sin. We need a savior who will bridge the gap and who will pay the penalty for us. That is why, salvation is only in Christ’s finished work on the cross that God considers our blemishes healed. Good works cannot become the cause of salvation, but only the undeniable effect of it.[2]

Mohammad and Salvation by Works[3]

It is noteworthy to remember that while Seventh-day Adventist views salvation as a form of grace the religion of Islam does not. For them, it is not a gift. It has to be earned through vigorous works.[4] Salvation is in direct relation to work.[5] “Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy, they will attain salvation: but those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls; in Hell will they abide.”[6] However, we must not forget that works should be accompanied by faith or belief. As the Koran Says: “To those who believe And do deeds of righteousness Hath God promised forgiveness And a great reward.”[7] This is the great dividing line that needs to be reconciled between Christianity and Islam.

Biblical and Philosophical Evaluation

Now that we have seen the two contrasting views of each religion regarding salvation, the logical question would be: “Which religion holds the truth?” On this section, the affirmative side will fairly evaluate the Islamic view in the light of eternal attributes of God.

First, the soteriology of Islam is morally deficient because the love of God was not unconditional.

“God loves not.”[8] That phrase is not surprising in the book of Qur’an because that teaching was popularly promoted and heavily influenced by their doctrine of salvation by works. Again, we must be reminded that Islam teaches that love and mercy of God is conditioned upon good works.[9] That is to say, the love of the Muslim God is tied with good works. So, if a person is not doing righteous deeds, Allah’s love is not with him or her. However, Jesus made a revolutionary point when He asked this question to his audience: “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” The he quickly added: “Even sinners love those who love them.”[10] Therefore, If God then only loves those who love Him, or do good, or are pure then this love is not above or beyond man’s love since man also loves and appreciates such people – this is clearly a moral deficient in the love of God in Islam.

Second, the soteriology of Islam is groundless promise because the justice of God was left unsatisfied.

The Muslim concept of forgiveness is unlike that of biblical Christianity. In Seventh-day Adventist, forgiveness is based upon the death of Christ on the cross. This means that once a person receives Christ as his or her Savior, all of his or her sins are forgiven and each one is assured a place in heaven: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned[11] However, in the Muslim context, “there is forgiveness but no real basis for forgiveness.”[12] Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb clearly explain it this way:

       “Indeed, Mislims, like Christians, believe that God will punish forever those who do not repent of their sins (14:17; 25:11-14). But if God’s holy justice demands that those who do not accept him be eternally punished for their sins, then it would seem to follow that God cannot just arbitrarily forgive anyone for anything with- out there being a just basis for this forgiveness. However, in Muslim theology—with its rejection of the cross—there is forgiveness but no real basis for this forgiveness. For Muslims reject Christ’s sacrificial payment for sin to a just God by which he can then justly justify the unjust who accept Christ’s payment on their behalf (cf. Rom. 3:21-26). After all, a truly just God cannot simply close his eyes to sin; he cannot overlook evil. So unless someone capable of paying the debt of sin owed to God does so, God is obligated to express his wrath, not his mercy, upon them.”[13]

The justice of God was completely compromised because it was left unsatisfied – this is clearly a groundless promise to the forgiveness of God in Islam.

Third, the soteriology of Islam is wishful thinking because the sovereignty of God  overrides the will of man.

The inevitable dilemma that a Muslim can have is the concept of salvation in the context of Allah’s predestination. As the Koran says, “All things have we created after a fixed degree….”[14] Moreover “God leads astray whomsoever He will; and He guides whomsoever He will….”[15] Abdiyah Akbar Abdul- Haqq observes:

“There are several [Muslim] traditions also about the predestination of all things, including all good and bad actions and guided and misguided people…. Even if a person desires to choose God’s guidance, he cannot do so without the prior choice of God in favor of his free choice. This is sheer determinism.”[16]

Dr. Wilson keenly adds: “The fifth article of [Muslim] faith is predestination… the fact that everything that happens, either good or bad, is foreordained by the unchangeable decrees of Allah. It will be seen at once that this makes Allah the author of evil, a doctrine that most Muslim theologians hold.”[17] To put in a nutshell: The Muslim God saves those whom He only wants;[18] the Christian God saves all those who will receive Jesus Christ as Savior.[19] In relation to good works[20], Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq comments that the Islamic reliance on good works is bound to leave any Muslim who seeks for personal assurance of salvation “utterly confused”[21] because in this life no Muslim can ever know if his good works are finally sufficient—let alone if he is predestined to Allah’s favor. Thus, a Muslim can only hope that He was chosen to saved – this is clearly a wishful thinking in the part of sovereignty of their God in Islam.

These arguments do not only show the irreconcilable dilemma of Islamic theology, but also destroys the credibility of their God.

Conclusion

Seventh-day Adventist teaches that our salvation is a free gift through faith alone in Jesus Christ—and specifically not by works. While, Islam teaches that one gains entrance into heaven by your works in addition to faith. We have also shown in the above arguments that there are theologies that are needed to be reconciled in Muslim theology regarding the attributes of God. Unless, these irreconcilable dilemmas are not solved, there is no sufficient reason on believing the concept of salvation in Islam. Thus, Seventh-day Adventist paves way to the right path of salvation.


[1] “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, 9. ‘Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ,’” in Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 2006 ([Silver Springs, Maryland:] The General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists, 2006), 5.

[2] As it says in the Bible, in the sight of a holy God “all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:5-7) “But God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) This is what they call the gospel.

[3] Of course, the Muslims will tell us the Qur’an teaches that Allah is gracious to them and that they do not earn their forgiveness. The affirmative side acknowledge this. The Qur’an says, “…Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded,” (8:29), and also,” …But Allah will choose for his special mercy whom he will – for Allah is lord of grace abounding,” (2:105). But still, Allah’s forgiveness is tied to the Muslim’s works which disqualify as a grace.

[4] Qur’an, 2.195.

[5] Qur’an 20.15.

[6] Qur’an 23.102.

[7] See, statement above.

[8] God does not love the al-mua’tadeen, the brutal: 2:19; 5:90; 7:55. God does not love the al-fasideen, the corrupt: 2:205; 5:67; 28:77. God loves not the al-kafireen, the unbelievers: 2:276; 3:32; 30:45. God loves not the ad-dalemeen, the wrongdoers: 3:57; 3:140; 42:40. God loves not the musarifeen, the wasters: 6:141; 7:31. God loves not the boaster: 31:18; 57:23; 4:36. God loves not the proud and boasting: 16:23. God loves not those who boast in their riches: 28:76 God loves not the treacherous: 8:58. God does not love those who are given to crime and to evil speaking: 4:107; 4:148.

[9] God loves those who do good. 2:195; 3:134; 3:148; 5:14; 5:96. God loves the pure and clean: 2:222; 9:108. God loves those who are righteous: 3:76; 9:4; 9:7; 19:96. God loves those who are just and judge rightly: 5:45; 49:9; 60:8. God loves those who trust Him: 3:159. God loves the persevering or patient: 3:146. God loves those who love Him and follow the Prophet: 3:31. God Himself will produce a people He will love: 5:57. God loves those who fight in His cause: 61:4.

[10] Luke 6:32.

[11] John 5:24., emphasis mine.

[12] Norman Geilser and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam, (GrandRapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2002, 2nd Ed.), p. 290.

[13] Ibid.

[14] J. M. Rodwell, The Koran, (New York: Dutton, Everyman’s Library, 1977), p. 78.

[15] A. J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, (New York: MacMillan, 1976), p. 174.

[16]Abdiyah Akabar Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1978), p. 159.

[17] J. Christy Wilson, Introducing Islam, (New York: Friendship Press, 1965, rev.), p. 24.

[18] Qur’an 14.4.

[19] See the following texts: 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2; Luke 19:10.

[20] See argument no. 1.

[21] Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith With A Muslim Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1980),p.164.

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