Jesus in the Koran

Why does the Koran state that Jesus wasn't really crucified?  I'm Christian and I also respect the Muslim following...I've been developing large respect for the Koran since I've been studying mind is baffled by this disparity though...If Jesus wasn't really crucified, as the Koran states, then that pretty much makes Christianity null and void. But I've had such powerfully undeniable experiences as a Christian, so I'm not about to turn away from that belief system. Sometimes I want to throw religion out the window because there are so many contradictions, but I really do value the depth and intellectual value of it all. Care to contribute some (peaceful, non-inflammatory) insights?

My Reply:You're absolutely correct in saying that if Jesus hadn't died on the cross, then Christianity would be void. I too have done some studies on Islam, and I have also had many discussions with both Sunni and Shiite Muslims on this topic, and I have found that Islam's take on the crucifixion is contradicts itself with their beliefs about who Jesus was/is.

For instance, Muslims say Jesus didn't die on the cross, but instead set up a buddy to take the fall for him. The Muslims even have a name made up for the supposed guy. But there are several problems with saying this:

1) In order to be a "prophet" in the eyes of Muslims, one must be blameless, sinless, and worthy of being in the direct presence of God. Now, though they deny Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, they do acknowledge that Jesus returned later, that Jesus claimed He'd died and was resurrected, and that Jesus later ascended into the clouds, promising to one day return to judge the world. But you see, the problem with this belief is that if Jesus claimed to have died on the cross, but really didn't, then Jesus would be a liar, and thus would disqualify Himself as being a prophet of God. And if Jesus is not a prophet of God, then Islam would also be void, because Muhammad claimed Jesus to be a prophet.

2) If Muhammad claimed Jesus to be a prophet, but it turned out that Jesus wasn't, then that would also void Muhammad's credibility as a prophet of God.

Their point of explaining away Jesus as being the Messiah, and claim Him as being only a prophet, allows Muhammad to claim to be the final prophet, even giving him permission to correct (or change) Jesus' teachings.

In your studies of Islam, you may find it interesting that there are actually a lot of similarities in the practices of Islam when compared with Catholicism. For instance, the prayer beads (or the Catholic Rosary). They also have saints, prominent people in the faith, who they are told to pin to their walls and pray to. And if you go to Mecca during their pilgrimage, I understand there's some holy rock they're told to bow to (as Catholics do to statues).

Notice, most religious cults build off of Christianity in one form or another. They change the faith, alter God and His character (ultimately making their god different from the God of Israel), take away the relationship part of Christianity and make it all about good works and deeds (like taking Jesus out of the equation and turning it back to a law-based religion), is led by somebody who claims the authority to do so, and promotes that their way is the only and/or correct way. Islam is no different in this respect.

---Pastor Andy