Thesis: Christianity vs. Islam

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Christianity v. Islam

Christianity and Islam

Christianity and Islam have many historical, political, and even religious similarities. The former is the largest religion in the world, and its influence over the course of Western and even world history hardly requires comment. From the extensive reaches of the Holy Roman Empire, the authority wielded by the Catholic Church over almost all of Europe and other adjacent areas for over a thousand years, and the political and societal fragmentation and reorganization that took place during the Reformation, the Christian religion has for better or worse been one of the most decisive factors in shaping our modern world. In the modern era itself, however, Islam is one of the fastest growing religions, and has had an increasing impact on world politics and many domestic societies over the centuries. Historically, Muslims retained control of a flourishing society in Spain and the surrounding areas for many centuries. During the period of the Moorish empire, great advancements were made in mathematics, science, and literature that still have resounding effects on our society and culture today.

Due to the common heritage of these two religions and their combined influence on Western culture, it may perhaps seem strange that the differences between the two belief systems have caused so much conflict over the millennia of their co-existence. This can in many ways be seen as stemming not from true differences in the basic theology of the two religions, but rather on different historic interpretation of certain elements of the religion. Because of their common origin, the concepts of the arche and the cosmos are very similar in the two religions. There are some differences in these concepts, it is true, but it is in the areas of telos and ethos that the fundamental differences that have created the modern conflicts between Christianity and Islam -- or more specifically between Christians and Muslims -- have arisen.

First, to explain the similarities: both Christianity and Islam have a belief in one universal God or Allah, and this God is also the primary arche according to both theological systems (Smith 1991; Ibrahim et al. 1997). According to certain interpretations of the Christian Bible, God is literally "the word;" the substance of thought and/or idea from which the matter of the universe and all of its inhabitant were created. There are some differences in the concepts of God among the various branches of Christianity and Islam (neither of which can be considered a fully unified and rigidly defined system of theological belief), most notably the Catholic concept of the Trinity that holds Jesus Christ to be one aspect of God and therefore fully divine, whereas in Islam he is considered a major prophet but not a divine figure (Smith 1991; Ibrahim et al. 1997). This difference had led to major conflicts in the past, but it is not of as much importance now as it has been in other periods of history.

The theory of the cosmos according to both Christian and Muslim theology is also very similar, largely because it is intimately tied to their concepts of the arche. The specific concepts again have slight differences, but generally the universe and any apparent laws that govern it are considered to be either part of God, or direct and conscious manifestations of God's will. That is, neither theology expressly disagrees with scientific explanations for the way the universe works, but both theories of the cosmos ascribe such explanations to God's will. Thus, God (or Allah) is able to suspend any laws of the cosmos at will in acts known as miracles. There can be nothing that is impossible for God or Allah, because he is considered truly omnipotent by both religions (Smith 1991;… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Thesis:

APA Format

Christianity vs. Islam.  (2009, May 9).  Retrieved July 23, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Christianity vs. Islam."  9 May 2009.  Web.  23 July 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Christianity vs. Islam."  May 9, 2009.  Accessed July 23, 2019.