Apologetics

Interesting Hits and Major Misses in the Jesus of Islam

cri-blog-wood-david-jesus-bible-quran

Talk about the Jesus in the Bible and the Jesus in the Quran.

On the one hand, it is kind of encouraging to see Muslims agreeing with us on so many things. Muslims agree with us on a lot of things about Jesus that most other people in the world do not agree with us on. For instance, Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. Who agrees with us that Jesus was born of a virgin? The Muslims do. Muslims believe that Jesus lived the most miraculous life in history. Of everyone else in history, they say Jesus was the most miraculous. They believe Jesus was the Messiah. They believe that He had a miraculous end to His earthly existence. They do not believe He died and rose from the dead, but they believe that Allah miraculously rescued Him. They believe that Jesus is going to return to play some important role in a future judgment.

We look at that and we see a lot of common ground between us and Muslims. Those can be very interesting points of to lead off in conversations. But, Muslims do that as well. Muslims draw attention to these similarities to say, “Hey, you know you Christians, you believe Jesus was born of the virgin? We do too. You believe that Jesus performed miracles? We do too. You believe that Jesus is the Messiah? We do too. Look at all this common ground we have.” Muslims will use that in their efforts at da’wah, which is sort of Muslim evangelism.

What is interesting is that when we look at the areas where they disagree with us on, it is kind of exactly what you would expect given what the Gospel is in the New Testament. In other words, when the Apostles went out and preached the Gospel, Jesus had taught them many things but when they condensed it, what is the core message of the Gospel, they always preached about Jesus death for sins, His resurrection, and that we have to submit to Him as Lord. Death, resurrection, and deity this was the take away message from the Apostles. When we look at Islam, Islam agrees with us on Jesus on almost everything else except those three things. They will say Jesus did not die on the cross, He did not rise from the dead, and He is not Lord.

The Christian response when Muhammad came along should have been something on the lines of “Wow, we have been expecting you because we have been told that false teachers and false prophets are going to come and corrupt the Gospel, and you have just nailed all the core of the Gospel while agreeing with us on so much else.”

Talk about the misunderstanding that a Muslim would have or the misapprehension with respect to the phrase “Son of God,” where Allah contends that this has to do with sexual procreation and whereas a Christian says that this has to do with special relationship.

It is really actually a problem for Islam. In other words, if a seventh-century Arab caravan trader like Muhammad hears Christians talking about the Son of God, misunderstands the phrase, and thinks that we are talking about God producing an offspring. That would not be very surprising. We would at least expect God to know what we mean by the phrase Son of God and to respond to what we actually believe. What we find in the Qur’an is that Allah says how can he have a Son when He has no wife (Surah 2:116; 6:100-102; 39:4). It is presupposed in the Qur’an that the only way for God to have a Son is to have a husband and a wife.

Now on a kind of side note, what is interesting about that is when the angel announces to Mary, in the Qur’an, that she is going to have a son, she raises the same objection. How can I have a son when no man has touched me. Allah’s response is that it is easy for Allah (Surah 3:45-47). In one part, it is impossible for God to have an offspring without having a wife, but Mary can have an offspring without having a husband. A bit of an inconsistency there.

When you look at the Bible, there are a variety of uses for the phrase “son of God.” It can mean that you sort of reflect God’s will. When it says blessed are the peacemakers they shall be sons of God (Matt. 5:9). God is not producing an offspring, it is where sort of we have a kind of family resemblance if we are doing God’s will. Israel is called God’s son because God plays a direct role in starting Israel and so on (Exod. 4:22-23). Jesus is the Son of God in a unique sense in terms of His relationship with the Father and because He is the Messiah (John 3:16; 20:30-31; Luke 22:66-71). What is interesting of all the different uses of “son of God,” angels are called sons of God in certain contexts and so on (Job 1:6; 2:1), but of all the different uses of “son of God” none of them have anything to do with God actually physically producing an offspring. Yet, according to the Qur’an that is the only thing Christians can mean.

Muslims look at this and say, “You Christians have a problem because you are saying God has a son” and the response should be “No, you Muslims have a problem because you God, who wrote your book, did not know what even mean by the phrase ‘son of God.’” It cannot be a revelation from God.

—David Wood

David Wood, PhD, is host of the Trinity Channel’s live talk show Jesus or Muhammad? He has participated in more than forty moderated public debates in the United States, Great Britain, and France.

For further study, see “Jesus in Islam” by David Wood in the Christian Research Journal 40-1.

Blog adapted from the February 2, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Answering Accusations about Genocidal Gods

cri-blog-copan-paul-god-and-genocideThere are atheist philosophers, who say they love to believe in a God, but they cannot abide the God of Christianity, and so often they see no difference between the God of Christianity and the Allah of Islam. Talk about the distinction between the two.

With regard to the Old Testament, we see that war is geographically limited to the land that God had promised to Abraham, whereas within Islam there is no such geographic limitation. Anything that is outside of the world of Islam is considered the abode of war; therefore, justifiably take-able to be put under the rule of Islam.

There is also something that is in God’s plan for bringing judgment upon the Canaanites. Of course, it is a twofold thing, to drive out the Canaanites and those who remain behind leave themselves vulnerable to attack. It is primarily driving them out (Exod. 23:27-31; Deut. 7:20-24; Josh. 24:12-13).  Then you have a certain time limit here, this is part of God’s unfolding purposes giving the land that is inhabited by the Canaanites to the people of Israel but not until the Canaanites have reached the sufficient low point in their wickedness and then can judgment fall (Gen. 15:12-16). There is a historical length or time limit here that is involved, whereas in Islamic jihad there is no historical or temporal limitation.

We also see that in the history of Islam the oppression and war is indiscriminate. Islam attacks Christianized lands and overruns them, whereas with the Canaanites they were a wicked people basically engaged in activities such as infant sacrifice, bestiality, and so forth, acts that would be considered criminal in any civilized society. I can go down the list and talk about a lot of other differences but that is just a sampling of some of these sorts of differences that exists between the Old Testament and Islam.

People so often want to make a distinction between the God of the Old Testament who is a God of violence and cruelty, and the God of the New Testament who is often perceived to be a God of love. What is wrong with reading the Bible or thinking about God in that way?

What we see in the Old Testament is God showing both kindness as well as severity. Paul says this in Romans 11:22, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God” (NASB). Both of those continue through the testaments, but you see in the New Testament both the love of God intensified and the judgment of God intensified.

Yes, even from the lips of Jesus He talks about these things. Jesus does not shrink from identifying with the God of the Old Testament. He talks about capital punishment being exerted in the Old Testament (Matt. 15:4). He talks about judgment being poured out through the Flood (Matt. 24:38-39), or on Tyre and Sidon, warning His contemporaries in Bethsaida and Chorazin that if these signs have been performed to you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented and sackcloth and ashes, and warns them about the judgment that is to come (Matt. 11:21-24); namely, the destruction that falls through the Roman Empire in AD 70. You see Jesus’ language very full of this.

You see Stephen (Acts 7) as well as Paul (Acts 13) both affirming the driving out the Canaanites. We see in Hebrews 11 that God uses warfare to bring judgment and so forth. We see even in Hebrews 2 that if punishments were meted out in the Old Testament, everyone received a just compensation for his deeds, how much greater will the judgment be if we neglect so great a salvation.

I think it is just a total misreading to talk about a wrathful God of the Old Testament and of a loving Heavenly Father of the New Testament. This is just the heresy of Marcion (circa AD 100-165), who talked about two different Gods, one mean and nasty and the other kind and loving. No. The New Testament affirms and identifies with the God of the Old Testament.

—Paul Copan

Paul Copan (PhD, Marquette University is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He has authored and edited thirty scholarly and popular books, including Is God a Moral Monster?

For further related study, please consult the books: Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to Terms with the Justice of God by Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan, and Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan.

This blog adapted from the June 29, 2015 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

What is the Appeal of Islam?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Quran Jesus Not Crucified

What is the appeal of Islam?

I think one of the things that happened is that Islam has been airbrushed, and therefore it has become palatable to Western Civilization. In many cases people think, “Well, the God of Islam, the God of Israel, not a whole lot of difference, it is the same God.”

The problem here is that the God of Islam is not the God of Israel nor is it the God of Christianity. For example, the Master Jesus Christ taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). Devotes of Muhammad, or those who are involved in Islam, find the very notion of praying to “Our Father in heaven” offensive to their way of thinking. Calling God “Father,” and for that matter Jesus Christ “Son,” suggests sexual procreation. And they would say that believing that Jesus Christ is God or that God has a Son is the unforgivable sin of shirk. The Christian belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father full of grace and truth and that all the fullness of deity within Him in bodily form (John 1:1-5, 14; Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3-4) for them is an unforgivable sin.

A lot of people unfortunately as Christians are unable to make the distinction between the Allah of Islam and the God of the Bible, and therefore it sounds like there’s neither distinction nor little difference.

I think it is also really important to recognize that the Qur’an is not the same as the Bible. If you’re reading neither, you don’t really see that there’s a big distinction.

The Qur’an, from a historical standpoint, makes all kinds of mistakes. For example, the Qur’an says that Jesus Christ was not crucified (Sura 4:157-158). In Islamic circles, it is believed that God made someone look like Jesus, and the look alike was crucified in place of Jesus Christ. All the historical evidence, however, points beyond a shadow of a doubt, to the fact that Jesus Christ was indeed crucified, and that crucifixion was for our sin. It was the atonement by which we are reconciled to God (John 3:16; Rom. 3:21-26; 5:8; 1 John 2:1-2).

Another thing you have to recognize is that Islam is growing in terms of birth rate. As a result it is becoming widespread and moving all over the world in that sense as well.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Is the Allah of Islam the God of the Bible?

Is the Qu’ran Credible?

Allah Does Not Belong to Islam (Helen Louise Herndon)

Who are the Shia? The Other Islam (Patrick Cate and C. Wayne Mayhall)

“Be All Things to All People:” Surmounting Cultural Barriers in Presenting the Gospel to Muslims (Robert Scott)

Muhammad and Messiah: Comparing the Central Figures of Islam and Christianity (David Wood)

The Son of God and Muslim Idiom Translations (Michael F. Ross)

Chrislam: Insider Movements Moving in the Wrong Direction (Joshua B. Lingel and Bill Nikides)

 (This blog was adapted from “What is the Appeal of the Religion of Islam.”)