The teachings of the Koran are not a new or strange thing. All former prophets and messengers have also taught the same, that real life is the life of the hereafter and no soul bears the burdens of another soul, and the same has been said in the former books, the books of Abraham and Moses. This is totally contradicted by the Christian doctrine that Jesus bears our sins.  What is your response to this?


This is true.  Mostly.   A few years ago the organization I am president of, The Apologetics Research Society, put on a debate (which is available at by the way)  The premise of which was, “Judaism, Christianity, Islam: Which is the True Legacy of Abraham.”  The Muslim debater, the well-known imam, Shabir Ally, made this same point.  He said that it does not make sense for one person to take the penalty for the sins of another, and he pointed out that this is a basic premise of Christianity.
My response to this is that this “accusation” is correct.  All human-made religions have one thing in common, which is that their aim is for human beings to earn their way to God or to earn their way back into a relationship with God.  This is the basic idea of karma in Hinduism.  Also, Islam is a works-salvation religion, in which mercy is gained by human action.  Even Judaism has an element of this, as God told the Jews about the Covenant at Sinai.  In Leviticus 18:5, God tells his people, “Those who do these things (ie keep all these laws) will live by them.”
Christianity (and, arguably Judaism) is the only major religion which has salvation being offered by God as an unearned gift by grace.  In other words, Christianity is the only world religion in which “salvation” is not based on human works.  Like Paul said in Ephesians 2:8  “You are saved by grace, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast.”  Your accusation is true.  The gospel according to Christianity is this.  We are all lost and separated from God due to our sins.  God’s justice and holiness require that there be punishment for the sin of rebellion against God.  However, no good deed we do can cancel out the required penalty for our rebellion.  Doing good things does not make us good.  Only forgiveness of our sins can make us good, and we cannot earn forgiveness.  Good deeds do not cancel out sin.   For this reason, out of his love, God sent his own Son to take the penalty due to us by dying on the cross.  Is this logical?  No it is not.  Does this make sense according to human notions of justice, for one person to take the penalty for the misdeed of another?  No it does not.  However, this is the marvel and the beauty of Christianity.  God took the initiative to save us, and to free us from the penalty for our sins by the loving act of sending his Son to die for us.  This is explained in Romans 3:21-26 in which God explains that through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God can be both just and justify those who have faith in Jesus.  In other words, our sin and rebellion required punishment and death.  God chose to solve the dilemma, which is that he loves us infinitely, but that his justice is also infinite, by the saving act of Jesus dying on the cross.
So, you are correct in your criticism.  What makes Christianity unique among all major religions is that it involves, as you say, Jesus bearing our sins.  Is this logical?  Maybe not.  Is it wonderful?  Absolutely.  Is it “fair” for Jesus to take the penalty for our transgressions?  No, it is not.  Is it evidence of the immense love and grace of our Creator/God?  Yes it is.  We cannot save ourselves.  We are not good people, as we sin and rebel. But God makes up for the difference between our attempts to be righteous and the reality of our sin by sending Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.  This is a wonderful, beautiful thing, and it is evidence of God’s tremendous love for us.
On a side note,  Shabir Ally made the point that this idea is absent from Judaism and from the religion of Abraham as well, but this is not exactly correct.  The entire system of blood sacrifice in the Levitical system involved another (in this case an innocent bull or sheep or goat) being given as an offering to atone for the sins of the people.  This blood sacrifice in the Levitical covenant is a foreshadow of the true sacrifice of Jesus which cleanses us both outwardly and inwardly.  This is described beautifully in Hebrews chapter nine.  You ought to read Hebrews chapters 8-10 to see how the Jewish idea of substitutionary sacrifice is completed in the death of Jesus.  Salvation in Judaism can be a bit confusing, as, on the one hand, it says that those who obey fully the law will be justified by doing so, but it also provides for substitutionary sacrifice for non-willful violations of the Law of Moses.  Christianity explains this potentially confusing point by telling us that Jesus is a lamb who has been sacrificed from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8).  In other words, even in Judaism, salvation was always by faith, and based on the death, not of a lamb or a bull, but on the death of Christ.
Again, I will say “guilty as charged.”  Christianity is different from all other religions (other than, arguably, Judaism), in that it involves man coming to God by God first coming down to us.  God made the first move.  God reached out to us.  We are not saved by our own works, as our works are never sufficient to save.  We need the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  You are right!  Thank you for pointing out the beauty and majesty of the Christian teaching about salvation.  Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  Thank-you God.
John Oakes

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