What should Christians bring up when discussing truth with Muslims?

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;[2] 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.

6 thoughts on “What should Christians bring up when discussing truth with Muslims?”

  1. My favorite question to ask – Muslim or not – is what do you do about your guilt? Muslims, like most unbelievers, rely completely on works-righteousness and have no assurance of salvation at all. Also, Muslims in particular are offended by the idea of “friendship” with God at all. He is unknowable, according to Islam. Unreachable, unapproachable, even to the most devout Muslim. To a Muslim, prayers are not heard directly and “personally” by a Being who listens to and cares about individuals, and He adopts none as members of His own family. They truly do not worship the God of the Scriptures, despite giving intellectual assent to the Old and New Testaments.

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  2. I’m afraid her argument won’t work on most serious Muslims. Islamic sources typically argue that the Bible has been “corrupted” by Christians and that only the original “pro-Muslim” versions of the Gospels are inspired.
    Your approach based on the crucifixion is much stronger, since every legitimate historian accepts the historical reality of Jesus’ death.

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  3. edit:
    I looked at her original article after I posted my comment and see she does mentions Muslim claims that the Bible was corrupted and tries to argue the Quran doesn’t explicitly say this. However, she seems to be unaware that most Muslims believe in Christian corruption of the Bible based on the Hadiths (oral traditions written down after Mohammed’s death) rather than the Quran itself. So her argument still wouldn’t convince Muslims who really know their faith. Once again, I think starting with the reality of the crucifixion is the strongest argument.

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    1. Half my family is Muslim, and none of the would take the Hadith over the Qu’ran.

      Anyway, here is her response:
      —-
      My argument is not based on the fact that the Qur’an does not say the Gospels were corrupted. My argument is based on the fact that the Qur’an repeatedly affirms that the Gospels were given by God, that they have divine authority, and they cannot be changed. If you ask any Muslim on the planet whether they should trust the Quran or the Hadith where they contradict each other, every single one of the them will tell you we must trust the Quran. And this argument is effective with serious Muslims all the time. I’ve ministered to Muslims for 15 years across 3 continents, and not a single one has been able to dispute this argument.
      I’ll also add that this is not an either/or between whether to make a case for the resurrection OR a case against Islam. We need to do both.

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