by Matt Slick
Idolatry can take many forms, but it most often includes an attitude of reverence given to an object, a philosophy, or a belief when such reverence should be given to God alone. Idolatry is a form of worship that can occur at the foot of an object or when bowing in homage to a belief that supplants God’s true majesty.
Idolatry consists of such things as prayer to a false god, bowing down before them, reverentially touching and kissing objects. Ultimately, it results in service to the false gods. Idols can be made of stone, wood, gold, silver, clay, or even constructions in the form of false doctrines. Idols can be prayed to, adored, and revered.
Idolatry is a spiritual issue. Therefore, we must not discount the demonic influence upon people who serve false gods. Ephesians 6:12 says that our struggle is against the “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Since there are doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1), those who follow them will manifest their false teachings and often their immoral and evil behavior. Since, as the Scriptures teach that we are justified by faith in what God has done in Christ on the cross, the demonic realm needs only have people believe in false gods in order to damn them. After all, faith is only as good as who you put it in.
Every year countless Muslims travel to Mecca and literally bow before the Kaaba and pray. They walk around it. Some touch and kiss the Black Stone that is embedded in the eastern corner. Adoration is offered there in the form of bowing down and praying in front of the cube. Does this qualify as idolatry? Yes, it does.
- Leviticus 26:1, “You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.”
The Bible tells us not to bow down before anything other than God
- Psalm 95:6, “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
But bowing down at Mecca before the Cube, kissing and touching the black stone, and praying to Allah, are, according to the Bible, practices of idolatry. Yet, in Islam, they are practiced all the time.
If that isn’t enough, and I believe it is, I would like to offer three additional ways to identify false gods.
- Compare them to scripture
- See if they are self-refuting, because what is self-refuting cannot be true.
- Look for moral problems that are the result of that false god.
As I stated in my debate yesterday with Osama on “Does the Quran Agree with the Bible's Use of 'God' and 'Son of God'?”, the Quran tells Muslims that the Torah and the Gospel were given by Allah to Moses and Jesus (10:94), the Psalms were given by Allah to David (4:163), and that the Quran confirms what came before it (3:3). Furthermore, surahs 6:34 and 18:27 tell us “none can alter the words of Allah”, “none can change his words.” In addition, the Quran says to “Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein,” (5:47). If the gospel was lost, then the People of the Gospel cannot judge by what is in it. But, since Allah said to do it, the gospel must have been there with the Christians. So, when I do what the Quran says and compare the God of Islam with the Bible, I find that the Bible contradicts the Muslims definition of God. Therefore, the god of Islam is false. Biblically, the one true God is a Trinity (not three gods). In Islam, Allah is not a Trinity. Therefore, the God of Christianity and the god of Islam are not the same. One of them is false and the followers of that false god are idolaters.
But, of course, Muslims will not accept this simple reasoning. Instead, they will trust the Quran the way I trust the Bible and judge truth from its pages. So, are we at an impasse? No, not really. As I just stated, the Quran tells Muslims that the people of the gospel should judge by what Allah has revealed therein (5:47). So, the Quran approves of the gospel of Jesus, the words and teachings of Jesus, which according to them, is from Allah. It is in the words of Jesus, that we find the truth of who Jesus is, a truth that Islam denies.
- John 8:24, "Jesus said, '…unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.'”
- John 8:58-59, "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.' 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple."
- Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Now, this is not a debate on who Jesus is. Instead, it is on whether or not Muslims worship idols. But, who Jesus is affects our understanding of who God is. And, as we can see, from the very gospel that the Quran says to judge by (5:47), Jesus claims to be divine. We see this as support of the Trinity. And since the Trinity, which is not three gods, but one, is the True God, and Muslims deny that, then they are serving a false god and are idolaters.
See if they are self-refuting because what is self-refuting cannot be true
If I gave you a statement that is self-refuting, the statement cannot be true. For example, if I said “There are no absolute truths,” that would be self-contradictory because to say there are no absolute truths is to offer an absolute truth. So again, that which refutes itself cannot be true. Likewise, statements that contradict each other cannot both be true. If something is not true, we ought not believe in it.
Even the Quran recognizes this when it says in Surah 2:256 that “truth stands out clear from error.”
The true God, of course, can commit no error. He makes no contradictory statements. In Islam, Allah contradicts himself and makes mistakes. Therefore, the God of Islam cannot be true, and Muslims are practicing idolatry. Let me show you the contradictory statements made in the Quran. I just picked three, though there are many more.
- Allah is all knowing, yet he is also not all knowing since he forgets.
- 24:60, “…Allah is One Who sees and knows all things.”
- 45:34, “It will also be said: ‘This Day We will forget you as ye forgot the meeting of this Day of yours! And your abode is the Fire, and no helpers have ye!’”
- Logically, if Allah forgets, then he does not know all things. That is a contradiction.
- The Quran says that man was created out of nothing but also not created out of nothing.
- 19:67, "But does not man call to mind that We created him before out of nothing?"
- 15:26, "We created man from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape”
- Logically, both of these statements cannot be true. Nothing means nothing. Clay is not nothing. Man cannot be created out of nothing and also not out of nothing. Allah contradicts himself and what contradicts itself cannot be true.
- When it comes to forgiveness, Allah will never forgive those who associate partners with him, but he also does forgive those who associate partners with him.
- 4:48, “Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.
- 4:153, “The people of the Book ask thee to cause a book to descend to them from heaven: Indeed they asked Moses for an even greater (miracle), for they said: “Show us Allah in public,” but they were dazed for their presumption, with thunder and lightning. Yet they worshipped the calf even after clear signs had come to them; even so we forgave them; and gave Moses manifest proofs of authority.
As you can see, the Quran, which is supposed to be from Allah, has contradictions in it. Therefore, the god of Islam is not true, Islam is false, and Muslims are idolaters.
Finally, to identify a false god we can look for moral problems
In both Christianity and Islam, their adherents claim that their God is holy and the supreme lawgiver who must be obeyed, served, and worshiped. In both Christianity and Islam their followers teach that their God is righteous.
But, if it can be shown that a god is unrighteous, then such a god is not true and we ought not serve and worship it. Let me illustrate my point.
Let’s say that there is a man who has just been convicted of the murder of many people. This murderer admits his guilt. There is no way that he is innocent. According to the law, he must be punished. When it is time for him to be sentenced, he must be judged by what the Law requires. This is good and righteous. So, the relatives of the murder victims are in the courtroom as the judge pronounces the punishment upon this sinful man. The Judge is supposed to uphold the Law. That is what is right. But, instead of upholding the Law, the judge ignores it and lets the murderer go. He sets him free.
Now I ask you, is that judge righteous or unrighteous? He cannot be both. Is it right for such a judge to ignore the requirements of the law and to set the murderer free simply because he chooses to? Is that justice? Of course not. Is that righteous? No, it is not. For a judge to be righteous, he must uphold the law. To fail to do so means he is a bad judge.
- Allah has ordained Laws (87:3) that are right and straight (98:3).
- 3:11, “They denied our Signs, and Allah called them to account for their sins. For Allah is strict in punishment.”
- 6:120, “Eschew all sin, open or secret: those who earn sin will get due recompense for their “earnings.”
The Quran speaks of proper punishment according to the law…and rightfully so.
We know that all people have sinned by breaking the law of God. Therefore, all of us deserve his righteous judgment. God is holy. If he were to ignore his own law, he would be unrighteous and unholy.
But in Islam, Allah ignores his own law when he forgives someone. Though the sinner deserves punishment according to the Allah’s own law, Allah ignores that law. It is dismissed.
In Islam, this is a contradiction between the righteousness of Allah and his forgiveness since to forgive, he must ignore his own righteous law.
Therefore, Allah is that unrighteous judge. He is not the true God and all who worship Allah are committing idolatry.
Now, in Christianity, within the doctrine of the Trinity, we have Jesus, who is the word of God – even as the Quran says Jesus is the word of Allah in 3:45. Jesus is the Word that became flesh (John 1:1, 14). He was made under the law (Galatians 4:4). He never sinned (1 Peter 2:22), and he lived a perfect life. Now, sin is breaking the Law of God. Jesus said this when he equated sin and legal debt in Matt. 6:12 and Luke 11:4. When we sin, we incur a legal debt to God. But, legal debts can be transferred. We know this because people can pay other peoples’ debts. In Christianity, Jesus went to the cross and our sins were transferred to him. He took our sins upon himself and died with them. Therefore, he satisfied the requirement of the Law, which is death (Romans 6:23). He did not die of his own sin. He was killed by others and so his death was real.
The prophecy in Isaiah 53 says that he took our place and he died with our sins, fulfilling the requirement of the law (Isaiah 59:2). In this, God’s holy law is not ignored. It is fulfilled. And, because it is fulfilled, He can forgive. This is why all who put their trust in what Christ has done on the cross when he died and later rose from the dead, will be forgiven. After all, only God forgives sins and only God is righteous. He does not ignore his own righteousness. He does not dismiss his own law. In Christianity, God is righteous and forgiving.
Finally, because the God of Islam is condemned by the Bible, because Allah contradicts himself in the Quran, and because Allah ignores his own righteous law when he forgives people, the God of Islam is not true and all who worship him are committing idolatry.