Dear Mr. Closson,
Thank you for your information about Islam and Christianity. But I want to know, why have Muslims and Christians always fought and killed each other? What factors are involved?
The easy answer is sin. As Paul says in the book of Romans, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” A more complex answer is that the two world religions have mutually exclusive truth claims about the nature of God and the person of Jesus Christ. For one to be true the other must be false. However, individual Christians who encounter opposing truth claims should heed the words of Peter and share the hope we have in Christ with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). The New Testament gives no justification for doing violence to any human being because of his or her beliefs. Our example is Christ, who humbled Himself even to the point of dying on the cross rather than to strike back at his enemies.
The example of Muhammad is quite different. He was a military leader and was actively engaged in having his enemies assassinated. The Koran teaches that those who leave the faith are to be killed, as are those of other faiths who reject the authority of Islamic rule. The aggressiveness with which Islam conquered previously Christian territory in the eighth century pretty much guaranteed a difficult relationship between the two people.
Please don’t take this as an excuse for unjust violence done in the name of Christ. Nor does what is written here take into account the possible right of nations or governments to protect their people from outside invasion or violence. What I am mainly talking about is the response of individuals to the existence of opposing truth claims.
Thanks for the thoughtful question!