What Does Christ Have To Do with Muhammad?

A number of conservative and Christian outlets (such as this one) are very concerned that a prominent Church of Sweden theologian claims that “Christians can view Muhammad as a prophet.” Jakob Wirén, in To Make Room for the Other?, advises Christians to view the founder of Islam as analogous to an Old Testament prophet. (I cannot find any information about this book other than second-hand; and all the links in the afore-cited article go to Swedish sources. However, Wirén’s 2017 book Hope and Otherness: Christian Eschatology and Interreligious Hospitality seems to cover the same topic. Perhaps his new one is a more popular version this work.) Wirén is a systematic theologian at Lund University and an advisor to the Archbishop of Uppsala.

First, the Lutheran Church of Sweden is (in)famous for its extreme theological liberalism. It not only ordains women, but blesses homosexual “marriages” and ordains practicing homosexuals. That might have something to do with its membership going from 95% of Sweden’s population in 1972 to 56% in 2019–and many of those are not even practicing, or believing, Christians.

Second, this attempt to mainstream Muhammad into Christianity goes back many years, and is not new with Swedish apostates. The French Catholic scholar of Islam, Louis Massignon (d. 1962), was perhaps the 20th century’s leading proponent of such. His ideas greatly influenced the Vatican II documents such as Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate which, among other things, declared that Islam was a fellow “Abrahamic faith” and that it contained genuine, if imperfect, revelation from God. In more recent years Catholic theologian Hans Küng has argued that “if we acknowledge Muhammad as a post-Christian prophet, then to be consistent we shall also have to admit…that…his message is not simply Muhammad’s word, but God’s word” (Christianity and the World Religions, 1986, p. 31). He also contends that “perhaps…it is only dogmatic prejudice when we recognize Amos and Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah, as prophets, but not Muhammad” (p. 26).

Muhammad (on camel) and Jesus (on donkey), from Muslim World Today.

Perhaps it’s because I’m trained as a historian, not a systematic theologian–but I cannot find a logical way to acknowledge the prophecy of a man whose utterances, enshrined in the Quran, deny the Trinity, condemn the Incarnation, and claim the crucifixion is a lie. Yes, I’m sure Massignon and Küng and Wirén meant well–but so what? This “can’t we all just get along?” approach still amounts to telling people what their itching ears want to hear. Either Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life“–as He said about Himself–or He’s not. Muhammad taught otherwise, and granting Islam’s founder authoritative status in the Church reeks of antichrist.

I just recently finished a slim bio of the Ethiopian Christian martyr Reverend Gudina Tumsa, killed by the Communist regime there in 1979. Tumsa was the head of the Ethiopian Evangelical Chuch Mekane Yesus (EECMY) before his untimely murder. He had studied in the US and traveled to South Africa, where he met Anglican Bishop (then) Desmond Tutu. While Gudina agreed with Tutu on the horror and ungodliness of apartheid, he parted ways with him on the ecumenical movement. Reverend Gudina believed that salvation is NOT possible outside of Christianity and that the primary task of the Church is to evangelize the world. “His concept of ecumenism was based on the authority of Scripture” (Urga, p. 46).

African Christianity in general is growing by leaps and bounds. Even a decade ago 1/4 of the world’s Christians lived in Africa–the percentage here in 2021 is undoubtedly higher. Five of the world’s ten largest Lutheran bodies are found in Africa or Asia. The Ethiopian church is the world’s largest, followed by the one in Tanzania. Also in the top ten are Lutheran churches in Indonesia, India and Madagascar. One might well speculate that Africans’ adherence to orthodox Christianity has something to do with this. The EECMY, for example, broke with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) back in 2013 over its support for abortion and homosexuality. Now the Ethiopian Lutherans are affiliated with my own denomination, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod–which so far still takes I Corinthians 6:9, 10 seriously. And refuses to heed the Quran.

Bring Me the Head, of Anyone Who Insults the Peaceful Quran, on a Platter!

Although I have not blogged since December 2020, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve just been busier than a one-armed suicide bomber. I taught a month-long intensive, online world history course over Christmas. And I’ve published seven articles over at The Stream in the interim. Then spring term began. But enough excuses! Once more unto the blogging breach!

And what better topic than an ideological, and legal, spat over the Quran? According to The Indian Express (March 14, 2021), “PIL by Shia board’s former chief on Quran draws massive backlash.” One Wasim Rizvi filed Public Interest Litigation (akin to a class action suit, it seems) “seeking the removal of 26 verses from the Quran that he alleged promote terrorism and jihad.” The reaction was swift–and brutal. Sunni and Shia clerics in Uttar Pradesh condemned Rizvi for “insulting the Quran” and “hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.” The General Secretary of the Indian Ulama’s Assembly slammed him as a “Yazidi.” Not to be outdone, the head of an Islamic Welfare Association, Hasnain Jaffrey, literally put a bounty of 20,000 on Rizvi’s head. “Whoever will bring the head of Wasim Rizvi, I will reward them” with 20,000 Indian rupees. Refusing to totally lose his head, a Kashmiri BJP (ruling Hindu nationalist party) politician merely filed a criminal complaint against Rizvi for “spreading hatred.” This FIR (FIrst Information Report) states that “the Quran teaches us peace, not violence” and that “any kind of blasphemous act against the Holy Quran is intolerable to humanity in general and Muslims in particular.” Yet another BJP pol called on the Indian government to “act quickly against Rizvi and arrest him for….hurting the religious sentiments of billions of Muslims across the globe,” adding that “Rizvi’s remarks are unacceptable and…Quran teaches love, brotherhood and peace, not violence.”

Ali bin Abu Taleb beheading Nasr bin al-Hareth in the presence of Mohammed and his companions


  1. Mr. Rizvi is a brave and honest man. I will pray for him. I have long said that Shia (yes, even the Twelver brand) Islam is potentially more flexible and moderate than the majority Sunni version, because Shias are allowed to read the Quran in non-literal ways. If they can survive, that is. And the holy book of the world’s second-largest religion needs cleansing of its archaic exhortations to violence; doing so with the hadiths (Muhammad’s alleged sayings) is necessary but insufficient to defang that religion. But Rizvi is too optimistic, for there are actually some 164 jihad verses in the Quran. Still, Rizvi was willing to acknowledge the problem.
  2. Muslims constantly assert that Islam is the one, true religion. (Fair enough–we Christians make the same argument about our faith.) But many Muslims (and some non-Muslims) go much further, contending that Islam is tougher, more masculine than other religions–particularly that milksop, “loser” one whose founder was crucified. So the irony is thick enough to cut with a scimitar when Muslims prove so laughably thin-skinned and, well, downright wimpy. They get their feelings hurt–at least according to their leaders–by the very suggestion that parts of their holy book promote violence. And I’ve never understood how an inanimate collection of writings can be “insulted.” Have you ever heard of “insulting the Bible?” I think not. Seriously, Muslims: grow up and, as one of my old military buddies used to say, “grow a pair.”
  3. Remember: Allah, in the Quran, teaches “love, brotherhood and peace, not violence.” And since Wasim Rizvi implied otherwise–off with his head!
  4. Finally, I leave you with this Tweet from the Muslim World League. See if you can square it with this fracas among Indian Muslims: