Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Does the Bible Relate to Islam? By Barbara B. Pemberton

Islam teaches that throughout history God has sent prophets, from Adam to Noah to Jesus and ultimately Muhammad, all with the same message: There is only one God, who desires people to pursue good and to prevent evil. Christians and Jews, "People of the Book," are believed to be the remaining followers of earlier divine, but corrupted, revelations. Islam's scripture, the Qur'an, is understood,by Muslims to have restored God's original guidance. The Qur'an includes numerous biblical personalities but recognizes as authentic only three sections of biblical literature: the Torah of Moses, the Evangel of Jesus, and the Psalms of David.

Muslims see many of their beliefs and practices as biblical: the existence of only one God, the prophets, heaven, hell, angels, and a day of judgment. They also see the importance of charity, prayer, and fasting in the Bible. Although Muslims believe that Jesus was only a prophet and not divine, they do believe the accounts of His virgin birth, sinless nature, miracles, and second coming.

The Qur'an accuses Jews and Christians of distorting their earlier revelation by deliberately suppressing the truth or by false interpretation. Muslims charge that the OT and NT contain logical inconsistencies, improbabilities, and factual errors. Charges against the OT include false reports of immorality (David and Bathsheba), missing doctrines (afterlife in the Torah), and incompatibility with science. The Evangel has been corrupted with inaccurate historical references, discrepancies in the Gospel accounts, and fabrications (such as the crucifixion). Christians and Jews allegedly suppressed or removed biblical predictions of Muhammad. For example, Psalm 84:4-6 is said to be about Muhammad, who overcame his childhood disadvantages by God's grace. Jesus supposedly predicted the coming Prophet Muhammad when He spoke of the "Counselor" in John 14.

Islam rejects the concept of human participation in the process of revelation that shows in the varieties of biblical books (Gospels, Letters, etc.). Jesus' original message is deemed lost. Muslims believe that Gospel authors, writing long after Jesus, altered the message to promote their own points of view. Paul's letters are supposed to promote a "mystical" Christ and "false" doctrines such as the resurrection. Another Muslim argument against biblical reliability is the lack of a record that the original texts passed from one generation to the next.

Muslims are, of course, correct that the Bible is older than the Qur'an. But there is not a shred of evidence the Bible has been corrupted. Indeed, the transmission of its text is by far the most accurate of any from the ancient world (see "Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied Down Through the Centuries?" By Norman L. Geisler). The Bible is not compromised by God using human personalities in its writing any more than when He uses human personality in the spoken word of prophets. Moreover, powerful evidence supports, among other things, the historicity of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection (see "Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?" By William Lane Craig). Prayerful Christians can help to correct Muslim misconceptions about the Bible (e.g., by showing that the Bible does not sanction the sinfulness of Western culture). Indeed, Christ's followers should befriend Muslims so the Holy Spirit can bring conviction to their hearts through the powerful Word of God (Heb 4:12).

Extracted from the Apologetics Study Bible.

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