I have some experience dicussing Islam because my mother’s side of the family is all Muslim. My go-to argument has always been to confront them about the Qur’an’s claim that Jesus did not die of crucifixion. But I noticed a different argument from Laura Powell, who knows far more about this topic than I do. Do you think her approach is the best one?
She writes about it over at Gospel-Centered Discipleship:
The crux of the argument is this: The Qur’an affirms the inspiration, authority, and preservation of the New Testament Gospels; yet the Qur’an also contradicts the Gospels on major theological and historical points. Therefore, the Qur’an cannot be reliable.
According to the Qur’an, the Gospel is the trustworthy, reliable revelation of God given as a guidance for mankind (Qur’an 3:3-4). These Scriptures from God were available and trustworthy when the Qur’an was revealed in the 7th century A.D., and those who had access to them were repeatedly told to obey them, judge by them, submit to their teaching, and stand fast upon them. In other words, according to the Qur’an, the Gospels are the inspired and authoritative words of God.
Qur’an 5:47 says, “And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed—then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.”
Furthermore, Qur’an 5:68 states, “Say, ‘O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord’” (see also 6:114; 3:3-4).
What I like about her argument is that she’s just taking the words of the Qur’an seriously, and asking the Muslims who claim to believe it what’s going on here. Why say that the gospels are unreliable today, when the Qur’an said that the gospels were reliable, yesterday.
My argument about the death of Jesus requires us to ask Muslims “where is the non-Muslim historian who thinks that Jesus did not die?” There isn’t one.
But my argument requires that the Muslim know something about historical scholarship, to know what non-Muslim historians think.Laura’s argument has wider appeal, because it doesn’t require that the Muslim have any knowledge about history – only knowledge about what their own holy book says.
She concludes with this:
What we see here is that the Qur’an teaches the inspiration, authority, and preservation of the Gospels. The Qur’an was intended as an Arabic version of the message of truth found in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, but this presents a huge problem for Muslims because the Qur’an contradicts the Christian Scriptures on essential doctrines. Most notably, the Qur’an teaches that Jesus was not God incarnate, he did not die on a cross, and he was not raised from the dead (Qur’an 4:157; 5:116).
Here’s the dilemma for Muslims: If the Gospels are not trustworthy, then the Qur’an is false because it teaches that the Gospels are the inspired, perfectly preserved, authoritative words of God. But if the Gospels are trustworthy, then the Qur’an is false because it teaches contradictory, mutually exclusive facts about key issues. Either way, the Qur’an is false.
This, of course, is a huge problem for Muslims. The validity of Islam rests upon the reliability of the Qur’an, just as Christianity rests upon the truth of the divinity, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If the Qur’an is unreliable, then Islam is a false religion.
I like that she’s comfortable having disagreements with people. That’s not very common in the church today, in my experience.
By the way, this is the same Laura who wrote that really good article about how she found a better way to discuss her Christian worldview when she moved on from sharing her testimony. I blogged about it here.
8 thoughts on “What should Christians bring up when discussing truth with Muslims?”
Yes, this is an excellent argument. Many Muslims have no idea what the koran actually says, so a most common reaction is, “you’re lying.” The reality is, Islam is self refuting. If the koran is true, then the Bible must be true. But if the Bible is true, then the koran is false. And if the koran is false, then Islam is false.
A response I got to that is that “the book” referred to in the koran doesn’t the Bible, but some other “book” that has since been lost, and that the Bible is corrupted. However, the koran says that Allah will not allow such corruption of his word, nor allow it to be lost. So once again, it’s a self-refuting claim.
I highly recommend the YouTube channels of Acts17Apologistics, The Apostate Prophet and Islam Critiqued. David Wood (Acts17Apologetics) has videos covering what you talk about here.
I think you’d also enjoy Variant Quran (this is a new channel, and well worth promoting), Political Islam (Bill Warner), and CIRA International.
With having to ration our internet usage due to date limitations, I don’t watch anywhere near as many of their videos as I’d like, but I do make sure to get at least a couple in, every day. I have learned so much. If I were to pick just one, though, I’d recommend David Wood and Acts17Apologetics.
As a Christian it is also amusing to see how Islam is not prepared for outside critism. They are a few hundred years behind in even scholarly work.
Now that more sources are in English and other languages western people can read through Muslim sources as was done by critics of the Bible.
And it doesn’t go well for Islam as they still make grand claims for proof of islam and the Koran that even a basic and simple study can take down.
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Add to the problem that Muslims are not supposed to question anything about Islam or the koran, either. They are just supposed to accept what their imams tell them. When they finally do get a chance to read the koran in their own language, they are told they can only understand it in the “original Arabic”, and to talk to “scholars”, not think for themselves.
Their “apologists” are a pretty nasty bunch. Arrogance and contempt for kafirs, as demanded by Islam, on full display.
I can’t recommend Act17Apologetics enough for addressing all the arguments made by Muslims. AP and Islam Critiqued are great for that, too, but David Wood is so fun to watch. Especially when he addresses the death threats made against him.
Reblogged this on FOR GOD AND COUNTRY.
Good stuff Bro. WK for interacting with Muslim believers. Thanks for sharing this advice.
~ Bro. Jed
What do you think about St. Anselm’s argument that God is both a perfect judge and perfectly merciful? For God to be God, He must hold every attribute it is better to have than to not have in perfection, right? But when muslims eliminate the work Jesus did on the cross, they eliminate God’s perfect mercy. They don’t even try to say Allah is perfect, only the “Most merciful”. To me, this very easily eliminates Allah from being God.
Yes, many philosophers like that, but I don’t see it being useful on Muslims. I’m biased towards evidential arguments.
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One very significant point that most lay apologists don’t seem to be aware of is that what little the Koran does say about Jesus and Mary appears to be taken from later apocryphal infancy gospels. I don’t have time to dig up the cites right now, but generally:
1. The Koran states that Mary remained a virgin her whole life, was raised in the temple, and miraculously received food from angels in the temple. Very similar stories about Mary appear in the Protoevangelium of James (or Gospel of James), which is dated by most scholars to the 2nd century and probably was written in Syria.
2. The Koran claims that one of Jesus’s miracles was making birds out of clay that came to life and flew. This story appears as a miracle performed by the child Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which most scholars dates between the 2nd and 3rd centuries and again was probably written in Syria.
3. The Koran claims that Jesus miraculously spoke from the cradle as a child. This appears in the opening of the Arabic Infancy Gospel. Not sure about specific dating on that one but it’s even later than the other two.
Now even the most skeptical scholars agree that all these infancy gospels were written after the four canonical gospels to fill in the gaps about Jesus’s childhood. This means that Mohammed’s sources about Jesus were primarily legendary expansions of the gospels written several hundred years after the fact!
Skeptical scholars may question the reliability of the gospels but they would laugh out loud at someone who argued the Koran tells us anything about the historical Jesus.