4-2-9 Christian Criticisms Of Islam Answered
The Moslem Response: Second Speech
Is The Bible The Unaltered Word Of God? II
One advantage of discussions like this, is the opportunity to identify
and hopefully free ourselves of misconceptions we may have about
the faith of others. Therefore I would like to start by clearing
up a some misconceptions about Islam that my debate companion shares.
1: “There are flat contradictions between the Bible and the Qur'an,
especially relating to the records of the crucifixion of Jesus.”
The Qur’an agrees with and proves most events surrounding Jesus,
including the virgin birth, the miracles, and the fact that his
body was crucified. It does not agree however with the interpretation
of those events, in raising Jesus to the same level as God, or even
suggesting he is God.
2: “Muhammad was illiterate.”
While many Muslims believe that he was illiterate, Muhammad was a merchant,
and as such he had to master the alphabet. The suggestion that Muhammad
was illiterate opposes all the Quranic accounts of Muhammad. This
misconception is based on an attempt to attribute a ‘miraculous
aspect’ of the revelation of the Qur’an, by those who
failed to understand that the revelation of Qur’an was a miracle
in its own right.
3: “There were many many variant readings in the Qur'an text….and
what he said was written down by various people .. If this had been
done to the Bible, one would be left wondering whether we have the
original text, and whether it hadn't been tampered with. “
It is very interesting that you choose to phrase yourself exactly this
way, as what you are describing is actually exactly what happened
to the New Testament. There were so many variant readings of the
Gospel of Jesus by the 3rd century, that Constantine
arranged the first ecumenical council in 325 A.D, during which 318
of the 1800 Bishops met to settle the Arian dispute regarding the
identity of Christ. The trinity was accepted as the official stand,
and all other beliefs and versions of the Gospels were banned.
The New Testament was definitely written down by various people. It certainly
wasn’t written down by Jesus, or his disciples, unlike the
original Qur’an, which was written by Muhammad. From the Qur’an
we learn that people said about the revelations that Muhammad preached,
“Tales from the past that he wrote down; they were dictated
to him day and night." (25:5)
The deviation between the original Qur’an and the one put together
by the committee of scribes appointed to make copies of the Qur’an,
was the adding of two verses at the end of Sura 9 to honor the prophet.
The adding of these two verses caused a division among the early
Muslims, which resulted in a war. Even though the version with these
two verses included were conveyed to the generations that followed,
they have always been regarded as very suspect. One reason for this
suspicion is the fact that they are reported to be Mekkan verses
(i.e. revealed in Mekka), although the chapter (Sura) is a Medinan
Sura (i.e. revealed after the prophet migrated to Medina). Another
reason is the fact that every single verse in the Qur’an was
verified by a multiplicity of witnesses except the last two verses
of Sura 9; they were found only with Khuzeimah Ibn Thaabet Al-Ansaary.
This exception was justified with inventing a Hadith (story attributed
to the prophet) stating that Khuzeimah’s testimony equals
that of two men! The miracle of the Qur’an clearly exposes
these two verses as false.
4: “Muslim claims about the Bible's errancy are so wildly exaggerated.
Ahmed Deedat in Is The Bible God's Word? claims there are
50,000 errors in it- 40 / page! No published book would have 40
errors / page. Why such gross exaggeration? Has he ever actually
listed them all…? “
I share you belief that the claim of 50.000 errors is wildly exaggerated.
I find your reaction to this claim very interesting however. If
the Bible is indeed the absolute unaltered word of God in your mind,
then the words you want to use here is not “wildly exaggerated”
and “a gross exaggeration” but rather “completely
false.” You also wrote that “ The Dead Sea Scrolls…reveal
how the texts have lost virtually nothing” Virtually nothing
is one thing. Absolutely nothing is another.
5: “Islam claims the original Old and New Testament Scriptures
were lost long ago. And yet the Qur'an says that they were in existence
in the first century and at the time of Muhammad.”
The Old Testament and the New Testament have been in existence ever since
they were revealed. The truth can be found in the representations
of them today, as can the blatant attempts to inject in them words
to promote the worship of other than God.
6: If the New Testament is so hopelessly corrupt, as Islam claims, then
where is the true record of His words? “ “Why does the
Qur'an tell Jews and Christians to follow the precepts of their
respective Scriptures, speaking of them with great reverence - if
they are so utterly corrupted? “
There is a big difference between something being “utterly or hopelessly
corrupted” and “containing some discrepancies.”
The absolute majority of the Biblical message is intact.
The true record of Jesus words are imbedded in the Bible, and completely
unaltered in the Qur’an. The hearts of those guided by God
will recognize those words, as well as recognize the words never
spoken by Jesus, as they are not said in the true ‘spirit’,
as you put it.
The few manipulations are easily detectable once we realize their root
cause, i.e. promotion of idol worship. For the Christians that have
sensed these things relief has arrived. Through the miracle (http://www.submission.org/miracle/)
of the Qur’an they will find solid confirmation of their justified
suspicions, and experience a renewed sense of discovering the actual
words spoken by Jesus.
7: “Their presupposition that the Bible must be wrong
because it disproves the Qur'an drives them to make assumptions
and claims without evidence. “
As I’ve clearly demonstrated in my opening statement, this is as
far from the truth as it can be. God has given ALL of us a proof,
not only of the Qur’an, but also of the authenticity of the
original Old and New Testament. And as I have already stated, most
of the Bible is not wrong. Again, the incorrect areas are easily
detected once we understand their root cause.
“If the true, inspired Old and New Testaments existed at the time of
Muhammad and were read by " the people of the book" [i.e.
Jews and Christians]…then this would mean that from the first up
to at least the seventh centuries there were both false and true
Old and New Testaments circulating.”
The first writings to circulate among early Christians were Paul’s
letters. In fact, much of what we recognize today as the basic teachings
of Christianity came to us through Paul, although he never met Jesus.
He was the major missionary to the gentiles in the years immediately
following the crucifixion.
He spread his version of the message by writing letters to different
congregations, often trying to solve localized problems, or to consolidate
the faithful into one cohesive congregation, rather than to document
and spread the teachings of Jesus. There are many indications in
Paul's letters that there were powerful and authoritative opponents
to his teachings. Paul wrote that these opponents were teaching
a " gospel other than the gospel you accepted" and preaching
about " another Jesus:
“…when someone comes preaching another Jesus than the one we preached,
or when you receive a different spirit than the one you have received,
or a gospel other than the gospel you accepted, you seem to endure
it quite well. I consider myself inferior to the " super-apostles"
in nothing. [2 Corinthians 11:3-5]
Although he does not question the authority of those he refers to as
the `super-apostles', he does try to match their qualifications
with his own: " Since many are bragging about their human distinctions,
I too will boast" (2 Cor. 11:18).
One thing we do know is that the differences among the early members
of the church were deep and divisive. Paul's letter to the Galatians
makes that clear. Scathingly, Paul exhorts his readers to stick
to the gospel he had delivered to them: ”I directly withstood
him, because he was clearly in the wrong. He had been taking his
meals with the Gentiles before others came who were from James.
But when they arrived he drew back to avoid trouble with those who
were circumcised. The rest of the Jews joined in his dissembling,
till even Barnabas was swept away by their pretense. As soon as
I observed that they were not being straightforward about the truth
of the gospel, I had this to say to Cephas in the presence of all:
" If you who are a Jew are living according to Gentile ways
rather than Jewish, by what logic do you force the Gentiles to adopt
Jewish ways?" [Galatians 2:6-14]
We see here that initially it was James, Cephas and John who recognized
Paul's authority. What about the other Jerusalem apostles? Were
they the important and prominent ones who wanted Paul to add to
his teachings? If not, why were they not mentioned? And what was
he supposed to add? It is logical that these opponents were original
apostles, and that they wanted him to preach the following of Mosaic
Later, in Antioch, even Cephas had a run-in with Paul over the practice
of Mosaic law. Paul accuses him and the other Jews of dissembling,
and not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel and
of wanting to force the Gentiles to accept Mosaic law. If Paul attacked
even his supporters among the Jerusalem apostles, it is inevitable
that he was at odds with them as a group.
Given the extremely strong prohibition of idol worship in any form, which
is at the base of Mosaic law, it is almost certain that any tendency
to deify Jesus would have been strongly resisted by the Jerusalem
apostles. This could well have been the basic cause of the rift
between Paul and the original apostles.
“Extra-Biblical history confirms that the Roman world was indeed overrun
by the Christian preaching of the resurrected Jesus. Why did they
do this?…. The Bible must be the unaltered word of God for these
things to all be true.”
The Roman world, that accepted the concept of Trinity during the Nicaea
conference in 325, had gone through several rulers in a period of
3 years. Constantine was looking for something to unite his kingdom.
Accepting the concept of a Christian God that had a son did not
differ too much from the way the Romans already perceived god-hood,
already worshipping several gods with sons and daughters. Those
that opposed the deification of Jesus this way at that time were
banished or killed.
History has shown us that people can move in amazing unison, guided by
mad leaders. If we consider this a proof for truth, then how are
we to consider Hitler? Regardless of how forceful a majority is,
or how persuasive and charismatic their leader is, they can never
be considered righteous as long as their message is not rooted in
the very first commandment in all scriptures: “There is no
god except the One God”.
It is interesting to note that almost all uncommon men at the time Jesus
were considered to be celestially begotten somehow. We can see direct
connections between heathen mythology and the beliefs adopted by
the Christian Church. The mythologists had gods for everything.
In Christianity today there are saints for everything. The pantheon
had been filled with the statues of god, and the Church became filled
with statues of saints.
“If the inspired Scriptures can provide such totality of knowledge, then
there is no need for another book to show us the truth about God.
What we need is guidance to achieve salvation. That guidance and that
salvation has been available ever since the first human being walked
the earth, long before the Old, the New and the Final Testament.
Totality of knowledge will never be given to or achieved by anyone
God has promised us that He will increase our knowledge and that He will
continue to show us His signs in the horizon and within ourselves
until we realize that God is speaking to us, yet He tells us that
“the knowledge given to you is minute.”
“Muslims can give no dates, no places, no names, responsible for the
changing of the Bible texts which they assume happened. “
If providing dates, places, actual names for those responsible for writing
the passages is a criteria for accepting something as false, then
it should be an equally important criteria for accepting something
as true. This however is not the case, since I agree that there
are other factors which make us believe in the message, including
the ‘spirit of the message’ as you mentioned, and not
when and how the ink hit the paper.
Just because something is old doesn’t mean that it has to change.
Changes happen for a reason. Beyond unintentional and uncontrollable
changes, they are meant to fill a purpose, to achieve a certain
result. Once this result is achieved, it is in the interest of those
protecting that result, to maintain their work. Thus, it is to be
expected that there are very old samples of the Bible that agree
with the Biblical versions presented today.
A scripture being old is not an absolute argument that it was changed.
A scripture no longer represented in its original languages, containing
contradictions in its most fundamental message, is however a reasonable
reason to suspect manipulation. If raising quantity is an issue
of proving authenticity, then where is the trust in the “spirit”
of the message, and where is the “quoting the Bible itself
as proof of its authority,” as you mentioned.
If something being old or available in large numbers, are used in determining
the authenticity of a message, then people immediately after the
departure of Jesus would have been justified in rejecting his message.
For those that feel that admitting to one single discrepancy in the Bible
equals having to throw it all out the window, a serious and open-minded
discussion becomes very difficult. Regardless of the discrepancies
in the Bible, it is still full of beautiful words of wisdom and
guidance from God. Throwing out the entire Bible due to the few
discrepancies would be to throw the baby out with the bath water.
There is no doubt that God’s revelations are products of His inspiration
to those chosen to reveal His words to us. This has nothing to do
with the integrity and belief, or lack thereof, of those who took
it upon themselves to reproduce and translate God’s message
after the fact. As you yourself so well express:
“And this question must afflict every intellectually honest Muslim. Where
is the evidence that God inspired Caliph Uthman to choose Zaid-ibn-Thabit’s
I must conclude that you are willing to apply the same question for all
the versions of the Gospels available to us today. Where is the
evidence that God inspired Paul? Where is the evidence that God
inspired the writers of the different versions of the Gospel? Where
is the evidence that Constantine choose the correct versions to
There is a group of Christian scholars called the “Jesus Seminar”
which have embarked on the bold journey of seriously investigating
these issues. From their site I quote:
“We are about to embark on a momentous enterprise. We are going to inquire
simply, rigorously after the voice of Jesus, after what he really
said. In this process, we will be asking a question that borders
the sacred, that even abuts blasphemy, for many in our society…..Our
basic plan is simple. We intend to examine every fragment of the
traditions attached to the name of Jesus …”