4 Comments

  1. Thabiti

    Dear Ben,

    Thanks so much for reading The Gospel for Muslims and for taking the time to review it. I appreciate the investment you made and the substantive engagement you offer here. The Lord bless you for it!

    On the issue of the Muslim view of the Bible and abrogation, I would say two things.

    First, we should keep in mind that not every Muslim holds to the same view of abrogation or even that abrogation is entirely without problems itself. What does it mean, after all, to say that a perfectly omniscient God gave a sign/revelation at one point that would be insufficient to the point of abrogation at another point in time? That’s an important intra-Muslim debate along with a kind of Qur’an-only debate.

    Second, I would say to any Muslim citing the texts that you mentioned that none of those texts support the idea that the biblical text itself was distorted. They claim that some “distort… with their tongues” (a reference to oral teaching, not the text of Scripture), “forgot a good part of the Message” (a problem with memory, not the text), or that Christians and Jews disagree on interpretation (which cannot be denied, but again is a matter of interpretation not transmission or purity of the text). I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a Qur’anic reference that alleges the text of Scripture itself has been falsified or corrupted. This is an important distinction and is why in my own apologetics/evangelism I try to make this clear to my Muslim friends while also pointing to the numerous passages where the Torah, Zabur, and Injyl are affirmed as signs by the prophet himself.

    Again, thank you for the substantive engagement. I don’t get to kick these things around nearly as much as I’d like. You’ve blessed me with such an opportunity today. The Lord bless you and keep you!

    Your brother,
    Thabiti

    Reply
    1. goingtodamascus

      Pastor,

      Humbled again that you would even take the time to interact with the article. This interaction means a lot during my grooming and learning process!

      I am more-or-less in agreement with the two points you brought up, and I think we would be in agreement in stating the issue is…complicated. The doctrine of abrogation in itself is hard to understand and I’ve found to be very subjective. I went to a mosque in the Spring and sat with three different Imam’s and got three different answers to the same question.

      As for the referenced texts, I agree they don’t clearly state the text itself is corrupted. However it is my understanding, and also my finding, that Muslisms often hold commentaries on the text as near-authoritative (not to mention the hadiths, which I didn’t consult on this subject but I’m sure they have something to say on this).

      I might liken it to (although this analogy isn’t without faults) the fact that the Bible doesn’t explicitly use the word “Trinity.” My Muslim friends have often brought this up, which then leads me to walking them through the text and showing them how the Bible teaches a Triune God. Similarly, while we might say the Qur’an doesn’t explicitly say the Bible is corrupted, they could very well walk us through various texts and conclude a corrupted Biblical text.

      I often refer to Yusuf Ali’s commentary as a first resource for understanding various things in the Qur’an, and his commentaries on these verses do suggest a conclusion that the Bible itself is corrupted.
      However, Ali also errs significantly when he suggests that we don’t have manuscripts of the OT that date any earlier than 916 A.D., or any relevant NT manuscripts. I have often found it helpful in my Muslim dialogues to correct this assumption and talk with them about our very dated yet agreeable OT texts, or talk about our earliest manuscripts of the gospel of John, etc.

      I guess my fear is over-simplifying this issue. I’m afraid an over-simplification might lead some Christians to run into a conversation without fully understanding its complexity. And, just like we don’t like it when non-believers try to tell us what the Bible says, I try to recommend staying away from telling Muslims what their Qur’an says.

      Again, I am thankful for the dialogue (whether or not you respond) that you’ve offered despite your busy schedule. I really loved the book, and if we do a Muslim-evangelism course at our church I’m pretty sure this would likely be the text we’d use. It is a welcome addition to many of the much more apologetic-only or textbook approaches to Islam. I am very grateful for it!

      Reply
      1. Thabiti

        Hey bro,

        I’m happy to have the convo. As I said, I don’t have nearly enough of these exchanges to satisfy my interest :-). So, it’s a blessing to chat.

        You know, it is interesting to observe Muslim debates about the use of commentaries and Hadith. There’s a Muslim version of what we Christians sometimes witness in the King James Only debates. It’s not quite the same, but you have Muslims who argue all you need is the Qur’an and then you have Muslims who argue you can’t understand the Qur’an apart from the Hadith. And the latter, as you point out, assign these sources a status and authority near revelation itself.

        Have you read James White’s book, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an? I found it an immensely helpful contribution to this kind of discussion.

        Thanks again for the kind words about the book.I really appreciate them. The Lord bless and keep you!

        T-

        Reply
        1. goingtodamascus

          Pastor,

          Agreed, it is interesting the many different angles and approaches that can be encountered as it pertains to the authority-hierarchy of the Qur’an, commentaries, and hadiths. I often have to begin conversations with many probing questions just to figure out where exactly they come from (going back to my day with the three Imam’s, two were Qur’an only but the third and head Imam trumped the Qur’an with a hadith).

          I haven’t read Dr. White’s book, but perhaps I will make that my new Islam book to interact with. I’m trying to read one every few months or so, as the DC area where I live is relatively saturated with Muslims (or at least post-modern we-are-all-the-same-types). My background is definitely from more of a classroom/textbook approach from my classes on the subject matter at RTS. To be honest, I’m a little skeptical of some of the more Apologetic or tit-for-tat approaches to interfaith dialogue, as I’m a much bigger fan of reading the original texts and developing an understanding that is adaptable and more relational (one of the reasons why I loved your text in particular was its emphasis on relational conversation). Our professors emphasis in our missions/Islam classes has always been to 1) have a heart for the lost (otherwise you have no business in the conversation) and 2) developing a thorough understanding of the subject matter. That isn’t to say Dr. White’s or JD Greears book, etc. aren’t on my radar, they just haven’t been my go-to. It looks like I’ll have to bump up Dr. White’s book though!

          Super thankful for this conversation, it is a real encouragement.

          Reply

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