Doctrine drives all religions, theistic and non-theistic. God makes for a more compelling religion. Following God’s will, sacrificing for God, hoping in God compels believers to change the world according to what they deem as pleasing God.

The Cross and the Sword: How Christianity and Islam Spread

Buddhism, which knows of no God, enchants many westerners yearning for religion without worship and contemplation without prayer. The lands where it is established, such as Thailand, find no reason to spread it abroad. There is no God to serve. Buddha is a sage, not a savior. The Four Noble Truths are not a gospel that sets you free to serve the one who saved you. Hinduism sports gods aplenty, but none compel conversion or mission. Judaism worships the God of Abraham and Moses, but lacks any missionary motive. God will judge Jews by one standard and Gentiles by another. Conversion to Judaism is rare. The bloodline ensures its survival—and against all odds, as history teaches us. Evangelism is unneeded.

Muhammad and Jesus shook the world and shake it still. Muslims and Christians seek God’s will for all of life and for the entire world. At the center of their faith is a personal being who is due worship and sacrifice. This God is the source of hope, in this world and the next. Islam and Christianity are the two great missionary religions, but their missions do not agree. Their deities are not in accord. Their creeds contradict each other. Their vision for the world cannot be aligned with any other religion. Islam’s greatest competitor is Christianity. Christianity’s greatest competitor is Islam. Ecumenical solutions are impossible, even absurd. Allah is not the Trinity. Jesus and Muhammad did not serve the same God, teach the same principles, or enflame their followers in the same way. This chasm cannot be bridged.

One cannot be both a Muslim and a Christian. Christ-lam does not exist. Each religion demands the all of its followers. Christians ask, “What would Jesus do.” Muslims ask, “What would Muhammad do?”  For Christians, the answer comes from the Bible. For Muslims, the answer is found in the Koran. Doctrines found in each text differ: on God, morality, salvation, and the afterlife. Given this unbridgeable gulf, how does each religion envision redemption and plan its mission?

Islam claims to abrogate Christianity. The Koran is the final revelation and Muhammad the last and greatest prophet—“the seal of the prophets.” Jesus is venerated by Muslims, but not worshiped as the crucified and risen God-man. Muhammad announced that there was one God who commands all to be brought into submission to him. Islam means submission. It does not mean peace. Muslims are part of the “house of submission” and infidels (all non-Muslims) are in “the house of war,” having not submitted to Allah. This is the charter of its mission. Six elements make up its method for world domination.

The Muslim Means of Growth

#1 Ambition

First, Islamic ambition may be unrivaled in the world today. A passion for personal salvation fuels the aspirations and actions of the loyal and serious Muslim. No Muslim is assured of paradise on the basis of the love and grace of Allah. Muhammad is not a mediator between Allah and man, but a stern prophet, warning the lukewarm of eternal damnation. Good works are the basis of earning paradise. Nothing changes in the person who becomes a Muslim by reciting: “There is one God and Muhammad is his prophet.” One is not born again or given a special spiritual standing with Allah. That comes through works, and one can never work enough. Dying in jihad is the only way to guarantee paradise, which includes endless sexual fulfillment for men. Women are not considered, spare the virgins specially created by Allah to make the afterlife a perpetual orgy for those men deserving of it. Earthly women are not specifically mentioned as inhabitants of paradise.

#2 Procreation

Second, Islam grows through procreation. It encourages large families. Taking child brides (as did Muhammad) and Islam’s endorsement of polygamy (as many as four wives) furthers this goal. Since Allah has made wives subject to their husbands, they have no say about having children. A woman’s worth mostly consists in bearing children, particularly boys. The Muslim husband can demand intercourse whenever he pleases. Thus, all these factors scream: procreate prodigiously.  And they are.

Muslims parents have Muslim children. One is born that way. Even if a Muslim man is married to a Christian woman, the offspring are automatically Muslims. But Muslim women are forbidden from marrying Christian men, since this forfeits the power to make more Muslims through procreation. Jihad has many dimensions, including biological jihad. Muslims are not reticent in admitting this. Because of low birth rates in Europe and the United States, Muslim have reason for their hope in out-populating the infidels.

#3 Immigration

The third method for forcing “the house of war” into “the house of peace” is immigration. If you want to understand Islam, look to Muhammad, its founder and model. Muhammad failed to win over his native people in Mecca after receiving the revelation from Allah. He failed as an apologist. Undeterred, he immigrated to Medina, where he established military and political hegemony. Having consolidated his power, he besieged Mecca, destroying its idols, demanding his version of monotheism, and declaring himself as the supreme prophet of Allah. From Mecca, he launched his mission to subjugate the world through military conquest coupled with immigration and fueled by procreative zeal.

The ancient strategy still works. Muslims immigrate to the land of the infidels, have many children, and demand their rights as citizens under cloak of multiculturalism. As their numbers increase, they demand special provisions for their dietary code (halal), their financial codes, and their family code. They establish their own Islamic education. When their numbers reach a critical mass, they seek to impose sharia law, not only on their community, but on the nation. Already, American courts are admitting Muslim law into their proceedings. Theocratic Muslims have already infiltrated the military and the civil government of the United States.

#4 Indoctrination

Fourth, Islam grows through indoctrination. Odd as it seems to non-Muslim westerners, the religion of Muhammad—like Muhammad himself—does not encourage critical thinking about religion. Muslims will do apologetics with infidel when they are in the minority. They seldom use it otherwise.

Their religion claims to cover all of life: worship, warfare, diet, finances, the family, and education. Islam knows nothing of the separation of mosque and state. Thus, everything must be submitted to Allah, who is a sovereign who brooks no reasoning with him. Reformation is impossible, unless this means that moderate Muslims return to Islam’s theocratic and missionary heartbeat. The truth revealed by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad in early seventh century in Arabia is the final word.[1]

Islamic purity is policed by its penalties for apostasy. No Muslim may freely de-convert. When a young Islamic scholar in Egypt came to the rational conclusion that Islam was false and Christianity true, his own father tried to shoot him. Mark Gabriel, once a professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University, is living proof of Islamic intolerance and intimidation. Courageously, he writes of his experiences and about Islam in his many books, including Jesus and Muhammad. Death is the penalty that sharia law demands for the apostate.

#5 Persecution

Persecution is the fifth means of Islam’s propagation. Religious freedom is alien to the Koran, the hadith (sayings and life of Muhammad), and to Islamic history. Muhammad killed as many of the unconverted polytheists as he could and killed many Christians and Jews who opposed him. But in the Koran, Jews and Christians are called “the “people of the book.” They are spared death by either converting or by accepting their state as a subjugated people called dhimmis. To call them second-class citizens is an understatement. Dhimmis are under the authority of the Muslim leaders; they must pay a poll tax to the Islamic government every year; their worship and religious activities are severely limited; and they must not proselytize.[2] They are called “protected people” not because the Muslim state protects them from outside threats, but because being a dhimmi protects one from Muslims who are bent further persecuting dhimmis or murdering them. Jews and Christians who neither convert nor accept dhimmitude are executed. This is the triple choice Islam threatens when it is in control. Stoning, beheading and crucifixion are commonly the means of murder, just as the Koran teaches. So it continues today. These are not the aberrations of Islam; they are of its essence.

#6 Armed Military Conquest

Armed military conquest is the sixth primary means by which Islam aims to conquer. The previous five methods are all aspects of jihad, the struggle against the infidels. But the jihad of the sword was the means by which Islam established itself in the early seventh century. Had not Charles Martel stopped them at the Battle of Tours (734), Islam might have conquered the Franks and all of Europe, in addition to its other conquests in Arabia and Africa. Europe was still in its sights, since the globe must be put into submission to Allah. Melanie Phillips discusses the strategy for England in Londinistan.[3] Much of the Koran addresses the means and methods of war, including the taking slaves, taking wives, execution, and dividing the plunder.

The Christian Means of Growth

Christ and Muhammad have little in common, either by life, by lip, or by legacy. Jesus was not a political figure, although some wanted him to be an earthly King. He commanded no armies. He drew no sword. He conquered no one. As the Lamb of God, he submitted himself to death on a cross, Islam to the contrary. Instead of bringing a new law to terrify people into obeying, Jesus offered what Muhammad could never give.[4] He offered his life to atone for sin and to reestablish shalom with God Almighty (1 Timothy 2:5). Salvation cannot be earned. It can only be received through faith in Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus Christ commissioned his followers to teach the nations to obey him and to baptize converts (Matthew 28:18-20). In light of this, consider the method that the Bible sanctions for the growth of Christianity.

#1 Ambition

First, Christian ambition is rooted in gratitude to God and love for God and others (Matthew 22:37-40). If the Gospel is appropriated for what it is, Christ-followers do not work to attain salvation, but work out their salvation in relation to God.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).

Christians should yearn for God to be honored in all the earth as sinners turn to a faithful Savior for new life and direction. Their motivation is to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and to glorify God in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31) through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

#2 Persuasion

Persuasion is the second method of propagating Christianity. While the Bible proclaims Christ as having all authority in the universe, it never advocates its advance through coercion or intimidation. Persuasion, rather, is its means of seeking conversions. Consider Paul’s words to Timothy:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26; see also 1 Peter 3:15-16)

The Bible is warm toward family and children (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 127), but childbearing is not considered the main means of kingdom advance. Conversion advances the kingdom and builds the church. Conversion is between God and the individual.

Christians have violated this charter throughout history, but their acts have no biblical warrant. Further, unlike Christianity, Islam has advanced through coercion and intimidation from its beginning, throughout history, and today.

#3 Education

Third, Christianity, from its inception, has zealously desired to teach its doctrines and practices to the world. No religion has placed more emphasis on teaching and learning than the religion of Jesus. Creeds and confessions have helped anchor the faith in clear, compelling statements. Christians love the Bible and desire that all sixty-six books of the Holy Bible be understood and applied far as the curse is found (Matthew 28:18-20). It is no accident that Christianity inspired the university, contributed much to western political theory, and is found in nearly every aspect of western civilization.[5] Even opponents of Christianity had to take its teachings seriously in order to oppose it.

#4 Suffering

Jesus was the suffering servant (Isaiah 53). He taught a doctrine of suffering, as does the whole Bible. This is the fourth Christian method. Christianity is manifested to the world through Christ-sanctioned suffering. Islam denies the well-established fact that Jesus was crucified in ancient Palestine in about 30 AD. For Islam, this is no way for a prophet to die. It is shameful. Muhammad, on the contrary, was a victorious prophet and king. He enforced Islam and conquered his enemies. But there is no Christianity without a cross and no Christian discipleship without the cross. As Jesus said:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:23-25)

Martyrdom for Islam means dying in a jihad battle. The Christian martyr is one who dies for his faith.  The Muslim kills for his faith. Consider the witnesses in Revelation:

When he [Christ] opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. (Revelation 6:9)

They triumphed over him [the Beast] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)

The first Christian martyr was Stephen, who was murdered while defending the gospel before hostile Jews. Stephen, like his Lord, cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60)

This strange doctrine of suffering flows from Jesus himself. He submitted to death in order to defeat death. He rose from the grave as a vindication of his sacrificial offering of himself for his blood-bought brothers. As Justin Martyr wrote, “The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.” Christians should be willing to die for Christ. God forbid that they kill for Christ. We wield the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12), not the sword of man.

The ultimate battle for the hearts and minds of God’s creatures is a spiritual battle, which requires spiritual weapons.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; see also Ephesians 6:10-19; 1 Peter 3:15-16)

The Future of the Two Great Missionary Religions

Despite its desperate ambitions, its shrewd methods, and its theocratic determinations, Islam will not prevail among men and nations of the earth. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1). All of it is God’s; none of it is Allah’s. Islam will take lives, coerce conversions, make martyrs, and scream its supremacy. God knows what its numbers and influence will be before the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Whatever the force of Islam, Jesus promised “the gates of Hades will not overcome” the church (Matthew 16:18). All will be held accountable to the crucified and risen King, as Paul declares:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20–21)

The Apostle Peter exhorted his listeners in the same spirit:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:19-21)

The Apostle Paul echoes this:

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

Our earthly future belongs to the battle between Christianity and Islam, between those who wield the sword and those who wield the Word. Those marked as Christ’s own must use the means of the Master to propagate “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3). They can use no other, come what may.


  1. Spencer, Robert. “Is The Islamic State Islamic? Of Course It Is.” The Daily Caller. June 3, 2015. Accessed July 22, 2015. ↩
  2. Ibrahim, Raymond. Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2013. ↩
  3. Phillips, Melanie. Londonistan. rev. ed. (Encounter Books, 2007). ↩
  4. On the stark difference between Jesus and Muhammad, see Gabriel, Mark A. Jesus and Muhammad: Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities. (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2004). ↩
  5. Schmidt, Alvin J. Great Divide: Failure of Islam and Triumph of the West. (Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2004). ↩

    5 replies to "The Sword or the Cross? How Islam and Christianity Grow"

    • John Sobieski

      Excellent analysis. Thanks.

    • E.A. Johnston

      Excellent article. Thank you!

      “Martyrdom for Islam means dying in a jihad battle. The Christian martyr is one who dies for his faith. The Muslim kills for his faith.”

    • M

      The heading for #2 under Christianity reads ‘#2 Persecution’. I believe it was meant to read ‘#2 Persuasion’.

      Excellent article, I enjoyed it very much. Thank you.

    • Phil

      Excellent blog.The truth will always triumph over evil. Let the truth stand. We live in a time of hate and bitterness only Christ is the answer.

    • Morgan

      Also, because this is a biased site I am not at all surprised that you made no mention of the periods in history when Christianity was spread by the sword – the Inquisitions or the Crusades. You also make no mention of Christian terrorists who bomb abortion clinics and shoot providers. But let me guess – that’s “justified.”

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