Answering Muslim Questions on Christianity
Q1: Why do you trust the Old Testament?
A: Both scripture and archaeology indicate there are no significant changes in our copies today for at least five reasons:
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; 59:21; 1 Peter 1:24-25, Matthew 24:35. Ultimately we have to believe either God is trustworthy or He is not. But if a Muslim believed God would not preserve His word in the Old Testament, and He would not preserve His word in the New Testament, why would He change and preserve His word in the Qur'an?
2. Jesus and the New Testament confirmed the Old Testament scriptures in Matthew 19:4; 22:32,37; 39; 23:35; Mark 10:3-6; Luke 2:23-24; 4:4; 11:51; 20:37; 24:27,44
3. Archaeological evidence: In the Septuagint, the Torah was translated into Greek around 400 B.C. The Dead Sea Scrolls were from about 100 B.C. to after the time of Christ, and we can compare them with our Bibles today. Aramaic Targums are translations made around the time of Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls are about 95,000 fragments from 867 manuscripts of the Old Testament and other writings. About 1/3 of the Dead Sea scrolls are manuscripts of the Old Testament according to The NIV Study Bible p.1432. Archaeology shows the Bible Jesus knew was preserved. Nahal Hever is a cave near Engedi, that has a fragment written between 50 B.C. and 50 A.D. of the minor prophets in Greek. At Masada, there was a copy of Joshua dated 169-93 B.C. The Nash Papyrus, dated 150 B.C., contains the Ten Commandments. The wadi Muraba'at scroll of the Minor Prophets is from c. 132 A.D.
4. Early church writers, as early as 97/98 A.D., extensively referred to the Old Testament. See www.BibleQuery.org/Bible/BibleCanon/EarlyChristianOTGrid.htm for a list of at least 21 Christian writers through 258 A.D. who referred to the Old Testament scriptures.
5. Hebrew scribes, even though hostile to Christianity, preserved the same Old Testament found in every Protestant Bible today. In particular, Jewish writers Philo and Josephus extensively referred to the Old Testament.
In summary, God is Almighty, All-knowing, and far from careless. We can trust that He has always preserved the right direction for those who look to follow wherever He leads.
Q2: Can we trust the New Testament?
A: Yes, there five reasons similar to the previous, ranging from trust that God would not allow His children to be totally deceived, to extensive manuscript evidence.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; 59:21; 1 Peter 1:24-25, Mt 24:35. We can trust God.
2. Very old manuscripts preserved include:
100 A.D. p6 (fragment of Luke)
117-138 A.D. John Rylands (John 18:31-33,37-38)
100-150 A.D. Chester Beatty II (p45)
125-175 A.D. - Bodmer II (p66)
125-175 A.D. p104 (fragment of Matthew)
30 more manuscripts before 300 A.D.
These early manuscripts show three things:
1. Additional proof that the New Testament was disseminated throughout the Roman world very early.
2. No major changes from what we have today
3. Key doctrines, such as the divinity of Christ, etc., in our Bible today were in the earliest Bibles too.
As a contrast with Islam, there are only a few Qur'ans preserved prior to 'Uthman's standardization. The Qur'an of 'Ubai bin Ka'b had fewer suras than today.
3. A large number of Bible manuscripts preserved
8 more manuscripts around 300 A.D.
Over 10,000 total Greek manuscripts
14,000 additional manuscripts in other languages
This shows us two things:
1. We precisely know every word of the original New Testament with about a 97.2% certainty.
2. Even the 2.7% variations show there were no significant changes that affected Christian doctrine.
As a contrast with Islam, Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, al-Tabari, and The Fihrist refer to suras and verses that used to be in the Qur'an but are not anymore.
4. Early church writers, extensively referred to the New Testament. For example, Clement of Rome, writing 97/98 A.D., referred to many passages in the book of Hebrews. See www.Biblequery.org/Bible/BibleCanon.EarlyChristianNTGrid.htm for a list of at least 33 Christian writers through 258 A.D. who referred to and quoted books of the New Testament.
5. Even heretics support the reliability of the scriptures. One early Gnostic heretic named Tatian (170 A.D.) wrote a "harmony" of the gospels, where he put them all together in one. He left out the parts that showed Jesus was a man. An Arian heretic named Ufilas translated the Bible into Gothic around 250 A.D. He had every incentive to "tone" down the many parts of the Bible that showed a high view of Jesus, yet he did not. Ufilas' translation is a faithful rendering.
As a side note for Muslims, Sura 4:150-151 says, "Those who deny Allah and his messengers, and wish to separate between Allah and his messengers, Saying: 'We believe in some but reject others': and wish to take a course midway, (151) They are in truth unbelievers;..."
Sura 3:48 says, "And Allah will teach him [Jesus] the book and Wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel." If Jesus were taught the Old Testament, and we have the Old Testament from the time of Jesus, then Jesus was taught what we have.
Sura 3:50 says, "'(I [Jesus] have come to you), to attest the Torah which was before me. ... I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah, and obey me."
If every copy of the Bible was corrupt in Mohammed's, time, would Allah be deceiving people to give this Sura 5:47?
Sura 5:47 says, "Let the People of the Gospel Judge by what Allah hath revealed Therein...." If the People of the Gospel are to judge by what God has revealed in the Gospel, then how can the Gospel they are to judge by not be the Gospel God told them to judge by?
Sura 5:48 says, "To thee (People of the Book) We sent the scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the truth that hath come to thee...."
Sura 15:9-10 says "We have, without doubt, Sent down the Message; And We will assuredly Guard it [from corruption]. We did send messengers before thee Amongst the sects of old:" Sura 15:9 does not say just the "Qur'an" was guarded, but "the message."
Q3: In Gen 16:1, since Abraham and Sarai had no children, how could Abraham have more children after Isaac?
A: We can let the Muslim historian al-Tabari (died 923 A.D.) answer this one in his History vol.2 p.127. He said that Abram married again and had many children. Genesis 16:1 shows it was Sarai, not Abraham, who was sterile. Abraham had more children, but Sarai did not.
Abraham was certainly an interesting man. Here was this man in a culture that worshipped false gods, called by the True God to leave and follow Him to an unknown place, and Abraham left what He knew and followed the True God. Today people should be willing to do the same.
Q4: In Gen 16:1-4, why did Abraham [allegedly] commit adultery with Hagar?
A: No, Ishmael was not the product of adultery. And if having a concubine is committing adultery, then Mohammed had concubines too. Four points to consider in the answer.
Concubines were legal: Polygamy was permitted in the Old Testament, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham as a concubine. So what Abraham did was "legal" according to both God had revealed to Him and later Mosaic Law, as well as Mesopotamian law of the time.
Similar examples: Furthermore this is not so unusual as it might seem to some modern readers. According to Hard Sayings of the Bible p.121-122, similar examples of a maidservant standing in for a barren wife are found in the laws of the Code of Hammurabi, the Nuzi Tablets, the Alalakh Tablets, and the Mari Tablets. However, if something is both commonly practiced and "legal", that does not necessarily mean it pleases God. Genesis 16:4-5 shows that Sarah soon regretted her action.
Hagar was proud of her status: Moreover, when Hagar became Abram's wife, she did not object. In fact, Hagar was proud of her pregnancy and taunted Sarai. (Genesis 16:4,5) In the Old Testament, while marrying a captive was OK, nowhere was sex outside of marriage justified as anything but wicked immorality.
In contrast, Muslims are permitted to force their captives to have sex with them, even though they are not married to them. See the Bukhari Hadiths vol.3 book 34 ch.113 prior to no.437 p.239; vol.3 book 34 ch.111 no.432 p.237 for more info. Also, the early Muslim historian al-Tabari vol.2 p.72 claims Sarah gave permission for Abraham to marry Hagar.
In conclusion, God is holy, Abraham was not an adulterer, and Christians have an even higher standard of holiness than Mohammed had for his companions in the Hadiths.
Q5: In Gen 22:1-18, could the boy who Abraham almost sacrificed be Ishmael, not Isaac, as Muslims claim? Otherwise, how could Isaac be Abram's "only son"?
A: It was Isaac who was sacrificed and not Ishmael for at least four reasons:
Only boy Abram had at the time: Ishmael was 14 when Isaac was born. Hagar and Ishmael were sent way to a different place the day Isaac was weaned in Genesis 21:8-10. Ishmael was long gone when Abraham was tested in Gen 21:34.
Only heir: Isaac was the only heir, and only son also means "beloved son". While the culture of the time accepted taking concubines for procreation, inheritance and the right of the firstborn would go to sons of actual wives, not the sons of concubines. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.141 for more info.
Only son of promise: Genesis 21:12 says, "through Isaac your offspring shall be reckoned". Abraham had other sons too, but they were born after this.
Even the Qur'an does not say it was Ishmael: Genesis 22:2 says it was Isaac. For Muslims, while the Muslim Qur'an discusses this in Sura 37:99-111, no where in the entire Qur'an does it say whether it was Ishmael or Isaac. In fact, many early Islamic scholars disagreed, some saying it was Isaac, while others taught it was Ishmael. See al-Tabari vol.2 p.68. al-Tabari vol.2 p.82-97 says 16 Muslim authorities said Isaac while 23 Muslim authorities said Ishmael.
Q6: In Gen 32:24-30, is the Allah of Christianity so weak that He takes all night to wrestle Jacob?
A: First of all it was God's angel (whom Jacob called a man), not God Himself who wrestled. Jacob said He saw God face to face, but Jacob only encountered God through the angel. Regardless though, God sent this angel, who had the power to crush Jacob.
If a father wrestles his strong-willed two year old, and even let's the two year old win at times, that does not make him a weak father. In like manner, God's intention was to contend with Jacob's stubbornness, not to destroy Jacob and his tenacity. God wanted to bring Jacob to an understanding of who he was, not kill him.
Imagine how great it would be if your body was the same except that it was 100 times stronger. You could excel at athletics, break through walls, and run very fast. However, every time you tried to pick up a flower, you crushed it, every time you held a little child's hand you broke it, and every time you held your spouse, she went to the hospital. Maybe just having your muscles be 100 times stronger is not so good after all.
God is all-powerful, but God also has gentleness and finesse. God is infinitely times more powerful than us, but God has greater control over His own strength than we do of ours. Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) gives an example of how the Almighty is gentle: "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
In 1 Kings 19:11-13 God tells Elijah he will experience the presence of the Lord. It was not in the ensuing powerful wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a gentle whisper.
So to summarize, Christians worship a God who is gentle without being any less the Almighty.
Q7: In Ex 19:11was Mt. Sinai really Mecca, since Gal 4:25 says it was in Arabia?
A: Mt. Sinai is in the Sinai Peninsula; unless Moses had trucks or trains, Mecca was 800 miles away, too far for an 11-day journey. Four points to consider in the answer.
1. It does not matter: If Mt. Sinai were really Mecca, this would not make any difference to Christians, except that the stages of Israel's journey would no longer make sense. It is apparently important to some Muslims however, as it would give credibility to the idea that Mecca had some part in God's work prior to Mohammed. However, other Muslims, such as the footnote 2504 in the Holy Quran : English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary equate Mt. Sinai with Jabal Musa, as do the majority of Christians.
2. Different Arabia: In Galatians 4:25 "Arabia" here is not the modern Muslim country of Saudi Arabia, but the Roman Province of Arabia. The Roman Province of Arabia was the Sinai Peninsula, the northwestern portion of modern-day Jordan, and a small part of Syria. See either The Roman World p.107 or Encyclopedia Britannica under Roman History for a map proving this. As a side note, the Romans never conquered near Mecca, so the Roman province of Arabia could not have included Mecca.
3. Not Mecca: People with flocks and herds could only travel about 6 miles per day; even only with camels would typically only go about 12 miles per day. An 11-day journey around 800 miles from Mecca to Kadesh Barnea, with flocks and herds, young animals, and young children, on foot, would be incredibly fast, unless they had cars back then. See either The Roman World p.107 or Encyclopedia Britannica under Roman History for a map.
4. In the Sinai Peninsula: The Sinai Peninsula is a south-pointing triangle with the mountains on the southern part, which Exodus 19:2 and Numbers 3:14; 9:1,5; 10:12 call the Wilderness ("Desert") of Sinai. The Desert of Sin separates Elim from Sinai. Numbers 33:3-50 tells each place the Israelites camped. While we do not know the location of many of these campsites, but by looking at them, we can see what is between what.
Within the Wilderness of Sinai, there are actually two mountains, close to each other, that fit the location of Mount Sinai.
Gebel Musa/Mousa (7,363 ft) This is the traditional view, at least since about 500 A.D. It has very steep cliffs. The Monastery of St. Catherine is at the foot of this mountain. Many but not all Muslims view this as Mt. Sinai also. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.674 has a picture of Jebel Musa.
Ras es-safsafeh (6,540 ft 1993 meters) is two miles (3.2 km) north of Gebel Musa on the same ridge. It has a wider plain at its foot.
Gebel Serbal (unlikely): Eusebius (325 A.D.) thought this. However, The New Bible Dictionary (1978) p.1193-1194 says there is no wilderness near its foot.
In summary, while Christians and even many Muslims agree that Mt. Sinai is in Sinai, we can be close to God anywhere, and do not need special places, statues of metal, or even black stones to be close to Him.
Q8: In Num 36, why could women [allegedly] not inherit in the Bible? In Islam for example, daughters do have the right to inherit.
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
In the Bible Zelophehad's daughters did inherit from their father. This was right and proper as God's will, according to Numbers 27:7-8. Furthermore, Numbers 36:8 also says speaks in the future of every daughter who inherits land, so they could inherit. Job's daughters inherited in Job 42:15 too.
Inheritance passing from tribe to tribe in Numbers 36:9 is the issue here, not the prosperity of Zelophehad's daughters.
The resolution was the daughters kept the land, but they had to marry within their own tribe of Manasseh. In the future, all women who inherited land had to marry within their tribe.
In the New Testament, 1 Peter 1:3-4 shows that all who believe have the most important inheritance of all, an inheritance in heaven kept for us.
As a side note, in orthodox Islam daughters only get half the inheritance of their brothers. Sura 4:11 says, "Allah (thus) directs you As regards your children's (inheritance): to the male, A portion equal to that Of two females:..." (Yusef Ali's translation p.209).
In summary, since Numbers 36:8 speaks of daughters inheriting land, and Numbers 27:7-8 speaks of daughters inheriting in general, it would be against the Old Testament not to allow daughters to inherit. Galatians 3:28 says that in Christ there is no male nor female, and in the rest of the Bible, old and new, there is nothing restricting a woman's rights of inheritance, or of economic opportunities in general. In contrast to Islam, women in Christianity have just as much to look forward to in heaven as men.
Q9: In Dt 18:17-18; Dt 33:1-2, and Dt 34:10-11, was Mohammed prophesied here, as some Muslims claim?
A: Deuteronomy 18:15-18 says God will raise up a prophet, that they will hear, like Moses from their midst, among their brethren. Was Jesus a prophet? Did many Jews hear Jesus? Was Jesus among the Jews? Was Jesus a Jew? Muslims should have no problem agreeing that this verse fits Jesus more than Mohammed. As a historical note, prior to Nicea Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) also discusses how Deuteronomy 18:15 can refer to no one but Jesus Christ in Disputation with Manes ch.43 p.219.
Here are a few more points.
a. Deuteronomy 33:1-2 says "the Lord", and Muslims do not call Mohammed their Lord. ('Alawite Muslims and other Ghulat groups consider Mohammed God, but they are exceptions.)
b. Deuteronomy 34:10 that "since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses." This epitaph was written, perhaps by Joshua, long before Jesus came.
c. Deuteronomy 34:10 mentions "face to face", and Mohammed never said he got his words directly from Allah, but through angels (Sura 2:97). Jesus communicated directly with God the Father according to John 1:18 and other passages.
d. In the Qur'an itself, Sura 29:27 says the prophethood came through Isaac and Jacob. In Yusuf Ali's translation of the Qur'an, he says, "And We gave (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob, and ordained Among his progeny Prophethood and Revelation,..." While the parentheses around Abraham is in Yusuf Ali's translation, the entire word, "Abraham" is not in the Arabic, and Yusuf Ali felt the need to add "Abraham" to what Muslims view as God's word.
e. Finally, Jesus' apostle Peter said this was fulfilled in Jesus in Acts 3:22-26. The apostle Peter would be in a great position to know.
1. Either, Jesus made a great mistake allowing a deceiver like Peter to mislead people for almost 2,000 years who were trying to follow God, and God did not lift a finger to tell people the truth.
2. Or, Jesus knew what He was doing when he selected Peter, and God did not correct something that needed no correction.
3. Or else, Peter did not say that, and the book of Acts was corrupted prior to the first extra-Biblical mention we have of this referring to Christ, about 138 A.D.
The early church fathers mentioned this verse as referring to Jesus. Some of them were
Justin Martyr 138-165 A.D.
Irenaeus 182-188 A.D.
Tertullian 198-220 A.D.
Origen 225-254 A.D.
Chrysostom before 407 A.D.
Justin Martyr was born around 114 A.D., though some think 110 A.D. His first Apology was written between 138 A.D. and his death in 165 A.D. Obviously he had to have read of this prophecy referring to Christ before he wrote it down.
A Muslim would have to say not only that Justin was wrong, but all New Testament manuscripts recorded Peter's saying incorrectly.
In addition, translations to other languages were made very early; the dates above or not the dates of the first translations, but only the dates of the earliest manuscripts that survive today. These are valuable because they are an independent chain of transmission, that people can use as a crosscheck on the Greek manuscripts. The chain of transmission of these manuscripts, from Africa to Asia, all agree that Peter said this refers to Jesus.
See When Cultists Ask p.43-44,45-46 and When Critics Ask p.125-126, p.131-132, and p.133 for more info.
Q10: In 1 Sam 1:2; Gen 16:2; 25:1; 29:23-24;28-29, 2 Sam 20:3, etc., why did God permit polygamy (many wives) for Abraham, Jacob, and David and others?
A: Four points to consider in the answer
1. Polygamy was never God's perfect will, as implied when He made Adam and Eve. He said the two (not many) shall become one flesh.
2. God permitted things such as divorce (Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10:2-12), because their hearts were hard. Some things, such as polygamy and rash vows, God left for people to figure out were not good.
3. Even in Old Testament times, polygamy was not necessarily the norm. There were only fifteen examples in the Old Testament until Solomon's time, and four or five after that time.
4. Ever since the time of Paul, and today, godly elders and deacons are not to have more than one wife (1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6).
Q11: In 1 Sam 13:14, how could David be a man after God's own heart, since David later committed some very serious sins?
A: This is a question for Muslims as well as Christians, because the Qur'an also speaks of David as a true prophet. However, while most Muslims think all the prophets, including David, were sinless, the Bible shows that David sinned greatly. David was a man after God's own heart, not because he never sinned, but because, having sinned, he repented. Muslims also believe that Adam was a prophet, and of course Adam fell when he disobeyed and ate from the tree.
Q12: In 1 Sam 25:4-35, was David [allegedly] running a protection racket?
A: No, but the questioner would be right in not wanting to follow a religion whose prophet and leaders profited from protection rackets. Four points to consider in the answer.
1. David did not have a protection racket, since David, the one doing protecting, was giving wealth away to those he was protecting, as David did in 1 Samuel 30:26-31.
2. David was not asking Nabal for 1) a regular payment, or 2) gold, silver, or any other valuables. David was merely requesting whatever food Nabal could spare. Nabal never complained of any request for money of valuables. Rather, 1 Samuel 25:11 shows that Nabal understood this request as only for bread, water, and meat.
3. David later acknowledged, with regret, that he would have done evil to have killed Nabal and his men, according to 1 Samuel 25:13,33-34, 39.
4. David was not angry with Nabal because he broke any kind of agreement for protection. Rather, David was angry with Nabal for his insulting answer in 1 Samuel 12:10-11.
In contrast to this, Muslims from the time of Mohammed onward have had a special tax on just Christians and Jews (and even Zoroastrians/Magians) called the Jizya. According to the Bukhari Hadith vol.2 page 7, in the glossary Jizya is a "Head-tax imposed by Islam on the people of the Scriptures and other people who have a releaved book (Non-Muslims) when they are under Muslim rule." Muslims even say that Christians and Jews should be grateful for the Jizya, because without it, they would have no right to dwell in Muslim lands without being killed.
Q13: In 1 Ki 11:1-3, why did Solomon have 700 wives and 300 concubines, which contradicted God's command in Dt 17:17?
A: Deuteronomy 17:17 says the king should not have many wives, and Solomon sinned by doing so. Marrying wives was a common way of strengthening alliances, but it was still wrong to disobey God. 1 Kings 11:1-4 says that Solomon sinned in marrying these foreign wives, and turned his heart away from God.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.229 has an interesting application of this. While Solomon could have set a higher standard as an example, he probably began to see himself as beyond the need for this restriction from God. When a Christian leader today regards himself as beyond God's restrictions for other believers, that leader is in very serious spiritual trouble. In the Qur'an no Muslim man is permitted to have more than four wives, with the only exception being for Mohammed, who apparently had about 15 wives after Khadija, plus two concubines, plus a few he divorced.
In addition, Mohammed and other Muslims had captives and slave girls, and the Qur'an allows Muslims to have sex with women their right hands possess. (Sura 4:24; 23:5-6; 70:29-30; 33:50,52 Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2150 p.577)
Q14: Why do Christians eat pork, when their own Bible says they should not?
A: First of all, it's not "our" scripture, but God's Scripture. Even sura 5:46-48 says that God gave the Torah and the gospels. But why single out pork? The Old Testament prohibits eating pork, camel meat, shrimp, and other things. Even Mohammed allowed eating camel meat (Bukhari vol.4 book 52 no.261 p.162 and other places), even recognizing that the Jews were not supposed to eat camel meat (Bukhari vol.4 book 54 ch.14 no.524 p.333). Jesus pronounced all foods clean in Mark 7:14-15. Mohammed tried to un-abrogate what Jesus said about pork, yet he liked camel.
Q15: In 2 Ki 2:23-25, why did Elisha, a great prophet, have a bear kill 40 children because he didn't like being called 'baldy'?
A: No, four points to consider in the answer.
1. Elisha did not contradict God's edict, because Elisha did not kill anybody. It was not Elisha but God who sent the bears to kill the gang of youths who confronted the prophet.
2. The Hebrew word for "youth" here can mean people up to around 20 years old. Joseph was a "youth" in Genesis 37:2, as were the soldiers in Abram's army in Genesis 14:25.
3. Youth gangs could be violent back then just as today.
4. But since you brought up a holy book sanctioning a murder, you might want look at the story of al-Khidr/Khadr in Sura 18:63-82. He was a murderer, mentioned with doing the right thing, who was wiser than Moses, according to Bukhari vol.1:124 p.92 and Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4688-4690 p.1319.
Q16: Does Ps 45:3-5 refer to Mohammed, as some Muslims claim?
A: No, even Muslims cannot really see this way, except for some of the Ghulat sects of Islam, which think Mohammed actually is God. Psalm 45:6 says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever." (NIV) In addition to Mohammed never claiming to be God, Mohammed never had a throne or a scepter either.
Q17: In Isa 21:7, is the rider on "donkeys" Jesus, and the rider on "camels" Mohammed?
A: No. Three points to consider in the answer.
1. These were messengers at that time coming to report that Babylon has fallen. The only special significance is that perhaps the camel riders might be scouts, donkey riders might be civilians, and charioteers might be military men.
2. Evil Midianite soldiers rode on camels too, but that is just as irrelevant as talking about Mohammed here.
3. Finally, there were camel riders (plural), so even if one was Mohammed, this would mean that another camel rider would be coming after him.
There is no point in trying to "strain a gnat and swallow a camel" by trying to use this verse to show consistency with Islam when there is so much in the Bible (Fatherhood of God, Trinity, saved by grace, Holy Spirit, etc.) that runs counter to Islam. See When Cultists Ask p.79 and When Critics Ask p.269 for more info.
Q18: In Hab 3:3, could this be a prediction of Mohammed?
A: Only some Ghulat Muslims should think so, since this verse speaks of "God", not "Mohammed". Some Ghulat Muslim sects do believe Mohammed is God, though that is heresy to Sunni Muslim ears. However, if any Sunni Muslims themselves really took this question seriously, they would have to believe Mohammed is God too, since "God came from Teman".
Other reasons this cannot refer to Mohammed, is that "His praise" does not refer to Mohammed, since the praise is for God." Mount Paran is where the Israelites camped, and far from Mecca. When Cultists Ask p.89 gives essentially the same answer. See When Critics Ask p.315 for more info.
Finally, some Muslims apparently are concerned to find more continuity between Mohammed and the Bible, just as there is continuity between Jesus and the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. However, some Muslims look for it in the unlikeliest of places, Habakkuk 3:3, in trying to find something to predict Mohammed.
Q19: In the Gospels, did Jesus really die on the cross, or did God miraculously and undetectably substitute someone else as the Muslim Qur'an claims in Sura 4:157-158?
A: This is a fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam.
Christians say it was really Jesus because all Christian and well as non-Christian accounts say it was Jesus. The Allah of Muslims is different from the God of the Bible, and Allah has fooled and deceived all his people into thinking Allah substituted another.
Muslims say Allah is the same as the God of the Bible. Allah's switching Jesus would not be detectable by anyone, and thus there would be no historical evidence of the switch.
Both can agree Jesus appeared to die on the cross, and that at some point, the Allah of Islam totally fooled and deliberately deceived all of Allah's own people.
Q20: Since God does not have a physical body, how can Jesus be the Son of God?
A: Christians do NOT believe Jesus was the Son of God in a crude physical or sexual sense. Rather this term is an expression of deep meaning of how Jesus is different from every created being. Shi'ite Muslims have a slightly similar concept. When they say 'Ali is the finger of God, they do not believe that God has ten fingers like people have. Rather, this is an expression with a deeper meaning for them.
Q21: If Jesus is not a created being, how can He be begotten of God?
A: Begotten means "come from" without necessarily being created, a little like most Muslims believe the Qur'an was from Allah yet uncreated. Before the beginning of time, Jesus, who is also called the Word of God, came from God the Father. So, in different ways, both Muslims and Christians say the Word of God came from God but was uncreated.
Q22: In Mt 5:17 and Acts 10:10-16, since Jesus said he would not abolish anything in the law, why do Christians eat pork and not follow the Old Testament dietary laws like Muslims allegedly do?
A: While neither Christians nor Muslims follow the dietary laws, Christians do not because they listen to Jesus. Five points to consider in the answer.
At this time, Jesus' followers obeyed the Old Testament dietary laws. Jesus actually said that not one jot or tittle would pass away until all is accomplished.
The fact of Jesus' resurrection, fundamentally changed the way God dealt with His children. An angel informed Peter, Jesus' apostle, that God had made all food clean in Acts 10:9-16. Note it does not say these animals were always clean, but rather that God had made them clean.
Even Muslims who bring up this objection, themselves have to agree that some of the Old Testament dietary laws are not to be followed. Muslims feel they can eat camel meat (and Mohammed did so), yet Leviticus 11:3-8; Deuteronomy 14:6-8 prohibit eating it. Mohammed also said it was lawful to eat fat. Ibn-i-Majah vol.4 no.3274 p.437, yet Ibn-i-Majah vol.4 no.3383 p.495 says that Mohammed knew the Jews were not permitted to eat fat or blood (Lev. 3:17)
Listen to Jesus in Matthew 15:10,17-20 and Mark 7:14-15. Jesus said it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean, not what goes in. Mark 7:19 shows that by this Jesus declared all foods clean. If we call Jesus a prophet, we should listen to His words.
A voice from heaven commanded Peter to eat in Acts 10:10-16, showing him that the dietary laws were only in effect until Jesus' sacrifice, not after. We should obey the voice of God's angel and Jesus' apostle.
In conclusion, we should not ignore what God's prophets said, but listen to them.
Q23: In Lk 3:23-33, how could Mary be descended from Judah, since Elizabeth was from the daughters of Aaron in Lk 1:5, and Mary and Elizabeth were cousins in Lk 1:36?
A: The Bible does not specify the tribe of their mothers.
Therefore, Mary and Elizabeth could be cousins based on the following possibilities:
Two mothers were sisters: If their mothers being were from an unspecified tribe.
Mary mother and Elizabeth's father siblings: If Mary's mother were a sister of Elizabeth's father, thus Mary's mother would be from Aaron and Levi.
Mary's father and Elizabeth's mother siblings: Mary's father being a brother of Elizabeth's mother, thus Elizabeth's mother would be from Judah.
A Muslim saw this as proving Mary was descended from Aaron. This is important to Muslims, because if Mary is not from Aaron, then the Qur'an is in error in Sura 19:28. Muslims generally believe that the Qur'an on earth is a word for word copy of a tablet of the Qur'an [in Heaven] Sura 85:20-22.
See When Critics Ask p.381 for a similar answer.
Q24: In Jn 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:5-15, was Mohammed prophesied in the New Testament as the Paracletos, or Holy Spirit, as some Muslims claim?
A: No. If this were true, then Muslims would believe these five things (which they generally do not)
1. Mohammed glorified Jesus. (John 16:14)
2. Allah sent Mohammed in Jesus' name. (John 14:26)
3. Mohammed was also sent by Jesus too. (John 16:7)
4. Mohammed took Jesus' wisdom and made it known to us. (John 16:15)
5. Mohammed was "in" the apostles. (John 16:17)
Thus, no knowledgeable Muslim would believe these verses refer to Mohammed. These verses must refer to another, who was sent from God.
On the other hand, maybe Muslims should glorify Jesus, if they think that Mohammed did, based on these verses. One Muslim imam told me that they should praise and glorify Jesus, though not worship Him.
As a historical note, prior to Nicea Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) also discusses how the Paraclete in John 14-16 is the God the Holy Spirit in Disputation with Manes ch.34-35 p.208-209
See When Cultists Ask p.182-183 and When Critics Ask p.419-420 for more info.
Q25: In Acts 4:36, why did the Christian church [allegedly] take the Gospel of Barnabas out of the Bible?
A: It was never taken out; God did not intend for books with false teaching, written over 1,000 years later, to slip in. This fake gospel contradicts a key point of both the Bible and the Qur'an, by saying Jesus was NOT the Messiah. The Gospel of Barnabas was a 15th century forgery in Italian with historical anachronisms.
Basic facts show that is not an ancient work. The Gospel of Barnabas is known only in Italian, and no ancient writer ever referred to it. It mentions things that were not used until centuries later. Furthermore, other gospel forgeries written in Arabic were also found in Granada. They were discovered after 1588, and the forgers were Moors. Though one Muslim writer, Ata ur-Rahman, has confused this with another writing called the Letter/Epistle of Barnabas, there is no similarity except for the name.
Who wrote it? Handwriting analysis suggest the gospel of Barnabas might have been written by Fra Marino, a vengeful, disillusioned former father inquisitor of Venice from 1542 to 1550. On the other hand, the Spaniard Anselmo Turmeda (later called Abd-Allah ibn Adb Allah after he converted to Islam) said he was a former priest and studied in Bologna, Italy for ten years. His teacher at Bologna was a secret Muslim. Mention of Spanish coins in the Gospel of Barnabas supports this.
Contradicts both the Bible and Qur'an: Jesus is not the Messiah. ch.83 p.181 ch.97 p.223 ch.42 p.97
The Messiah is Mohammed. ch.97 p.225-227
God created all things for the Messiah. ch.191 p.427
God created everything for Mohammed ch.39 p.91 "[Mohammed] shall be my messenger, for whom I have created all things; who shall give light to the world when he shall come; whose soul was set in a celestial splendour sixty thousand years before I made anything."
"The messenger of God [Mohammed] shall answer: 'O Lord, I remember that when though didst create me, thou saidst that thou hadst willed to make for love of me the world and paradise, and angels and men, that they might glorify thee by me thy servant.'"ch.55 p.131. Also ch.56. p.133
Some Other Differences with the Qur'an should make Muslims wary of wanting to appeal to this "Gospel". According to the Bukhari Hadith vol. 4 book 56 ch.5 no.712 p.467 Mohammed said that one of the three worst lies is "to attribute to me what I have not said."
Here are some teachings in the Gospel of Barnabas.
Faithful Muslims who do not have works will be in Hell for 70,000 years. ch.137 p.319
Mohammed will go to Hell and be terrified as he beholds the punishment of others. ch.135 p.315
God is a father. ch.133 p.307
God is our Father. (-no sons, though) ch.17 p.31,33
General Errors - Sailing to Inland Cities: These are not just small mistakes, but demonstrate that the author knew very little about the geography and history of Palestine.
Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee, and having embarked in a ship sailed to his city of Nazareth. ch.20 p.41 (Nazareth is inland.)
Pharisees in Jesus' time were very strange in their ascetism. ch.145 p.337-339
God gave Jesus bad consequences because others called Jesus God. ch.112 p.257
Historical Anachronisms: The point here is not that the Gospel of Barnabas has a few historical oddities. The point is that the numerous errors prove that the book was written during the Middle Ages in Europe.
Coins in chapter 54 (golden denarius divided into sixty minuti) were Spanish.
Abraham's father claimed there were an infinite number of gods. (The Sumerians did not have the concept of infinity) ch.26 p.57
"Whereupon, as the food was going down [Adam's throat], he remembered the words of God; wherefore, wishing to stop the food, he put his hand into this throat, where every man has the mark." (The phrase "Adam's apple" was first a Medieval European phrase) ch.40 p.93
Pilate was governor of Judea when Jesus was born. ch.3 p.7
Jubilee is now every 100 years. ch.83 p.191-193
Kings' barons. (Barons were Medieval) ch.131 p.301
You desire horses like knights. (They had no knights in Jesus' time.) ch.69 p.159
The burden of the republic. ch.69 p.161
Pinnacle where the scribes used to preach. ch.127 p.291; ch.129 p.297; ch.12 p.19
Prodigal son, new [leg] hose. ch.147 p.241
Lazarus and his two sisters were proprietors in other towns of Magdala and Bethany, just like in the Middle Ages! ch.194 p.433
Jesus (really Judas) was dressed as a juggler. ch.217 p.475
Pine-cones (There were no pine cones where Jesus lived.) ch.113 p.259
Fistula. (A medical term not used until the Middle Ages for an opening in the body for the purpose of drainage.) ch.120 p.275
Jesus could not read at age twelve. ch.9 p.15
Jesus made prayer in union with the messenger of God, and Jesus heard Mohammed's voice, [Did Mohammed live before he was born?] ch.84 p.195
These "more than a few" errors prove this book was written during the Middle Ages in Europe.
Conclusion: Imagine you were a Muslim who was told that someone found a lost "book" from God. Among other things, this "Sura" mentioned that Mohammed sailed on a boat to Mecca, and this Sura contradicted the teaching of the Bible and contradicted the Qur'an on ten points. The oldest manuscript of the alleged Sura was written in Italian, which is not only not a Mideastern language, but Italian did not exist in the time of Mohammed. Finally, this supposed Sura had some historical customs, which did not occur until 1,000 years later in Europe. Would you believe this book?
Q26: Has the Bible been corrupted?
A: No. Both the Qur'an and the Bible teach that God preserves His word. According to the Qur'an, in Mohammed's time the Christians still had the Gospel. We have many copies of the New Testament from 100 to 200 A.D., and the Old Testament Dead Sea scrolls from prior to Mohammed's time. See the first answer for more on the Old Testament.
Some variations in a scripture do not prove wholesale corruption, because The Fihrist, Sahih Muslim, and other Muslim sources show suras that were taken about, and three suras apparently were added. The Qur'ans of 'Ubai bin Ka'b and Ibn Mas'ud have the most changes.
Q27: Why is there uncertainty in some Bible verses?
A: God promised to preserve His word, and it has been preserved such that there is no uncertainty that affects God's teaching. God did allow insignificant transmission errors, though. Apparently God is more concerned with what we believe and do than the individual syllables. Likewise, there are changes in Qur'an due to abrogated verses and 'Uthman's editing.
Even today, there are differences in Arabic versions of the Qur'an. For example, Geisler and Saleeb in Answering Islam p.193 point out some Arabic discrepancies: Sura 28:48 [sahirani/sihrani], Sura 32:6 [ummahatuhum / ummahatuhum wa hyua abun lahum] Sura 34:18 [rabbana ba'id/rabuna ba'ada], Sura 38:22 [tis'un/tis'atun]. Sura 19:35 [tantaruna/yamtaruna]. See W. St. Clair-Tisdell A Manual of the Leading Muhammedan Objections to Christianity (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1904 p.60.). There are also significant differences between the 'Uthman's Qur'an and the Qur'an used today. Why the changes, and why do they not change it back?
Q28: Why did Christians have the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, Serbs (Greek Orthodox) against Croats (Roman Catholic), and Bosnian Muslims?
A: Jesus was the Prince of peace, and He never said to kill someone because they had a different religion. The "Christian" Crusades were not a part of the Christianity of the Bible. The Crusades (or Christian Jihads) were an evil thing Europeans learned from Islamic Jihads.
Q29: Can I get to heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior?
A: You cannot get to Heaven if you refuse to take Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Five points to consider.
Fairness: God is good, Holy, fair, and just to all (Hebrews 6:10) God's judges people based on the knowledge they have (Romans 4:15; 5:13). Abraham did not know the name of Jesus, yet He followed God and He was still saved through Jesus (John 8:56, Heb 9).
Only One Way: We cannot get to heaven on our own righteousness; we need God's mercy and grace through Jesus. Jesus is not just a way to God, but the one and only way to God (Jn 14:6; 15:5; Acts 4:12). The only way to get to God's heaven is God's way.
Reject Jesus as the Son of God and you reject Heaven: Even to a very religious people, the Jewish Pharisees, Jesus said that if you reject Him, you will indeed die in your sins (John 8:24).
God seeks: God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). But as Jeremiah wept over his people (Jeremiah 13:17; 14:17) and as Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44) and as Peter pleaded with his listeners (Acts 2:40), God, with no less desire, seeks out His own.
Q30. How do Christians pray?
A: The Bible has many prayers we can use as examples, but Jesus specifically taught His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Christians view prayer as talking with God; hence few Christian prayers are memorized. Christian prayers often end with phrases such as "in Jesus' name", because it is by Jesus' sacrifice that we have access to pray to the Father (John 16:26).
Christians are to pray to God continuously, as commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:4;6; Hebrews 13:15; and by the example in Romans 1:9-10 and Colossians 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 3:10. This is unlike Islam, where there are specific times prayer is forbidden in Bukhari vol.2 book 21 ch.38 no.283 p.158. Muslims are forbidden to pray at sunset, and between the (pre-dawn) morning prayer and sunrise (Bukhari vol.1 book 10 ch.30 no.558 ch.31 no.559-561, ch.32 no.563 p.323-325). Prohibited times of prayer are mentioned in Abu Dawud vol.1 book 3 no.1272-1273 p.336. Women are to "abandon prayer" during their time of month. Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 3 no.652 p.188-189, vol.1 book 1 no.142 p.48; Bukhari vol.1 book 6 no.322 p.194, book 6 no.327 p.196; Sunan Nasa'i vol.1 no.355-361 p.281-284; vol.1 no.364-368 p.285-286.
Q31. Christianity is not the religion of my culture or my parents.
A: If you go back far enough in time, perhaps everyone has ancestors who were idol-worshippers, murderers, cannibals, burned widows, or did similar horrible things. Should you follow their example? No! In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus speaks of a man in Hell who wishes someone would warn his brothers not to do what he did. Perhaps some of your ancestors, in Hell right now, are hoping that you will turn and not do what they did.
Even if it was the religion of your culture, you still have to choose between following traditional culture and following God. In Jesus' time they had so many extra traditions and legalism, that Jesus said they had no room for His word (John 8:37). That is one reason why they wanted to crucify Jesus.
Belief in the in the true God was not the religion of Abraham's parents either. Abraham had to make a choice: either follow God or follow tradition. Even if a tradition is not wrong, if you love and follow your tradition more than God, then your tradition is a stumbling block for you. In 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 Paul wrote of his concern about anything that would lead us away from our devotion to Christ.
Q32: Why are you so negative about Islam?
A: We love Muslim people and wish the best for them - that they would live in joy in Heaven forever. Since Islam has led people away from God, we are critical of Islam for their benefit. However, we are not nearly as negative about Islam as Muslims themselves. Plundering Medina would seem like a negative thing, yet that is what Muslims did to other Muslims at the Battle of Harrah in 683/684 A.D. al-Tabari vol.19 p.217. 'Ali's supporters burned down a house to burn to death the Muslims inside who supported Mu'awiyah (al-Tabari vol.17 p.170). In modern times, when worshippers at a mosque in Pakistan are gunned down, simply because they are Shi'ites, that is negative. Tamerlane, who built the white mosque of Samarkand, made a mound of 70,000 skulls of the Muslim people living in Isfahan. This was monstrous.
Christians should not be negative toward others in three ways.
1. We never curse Muslims even though Mohammed cursed us. At the end of Mohammed's life he said, "May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets." (Bukhari vol.1 book 8 ch.55 no.427 p.255). Notice that he did not differentiate between true and hypocritical Christians; he just cursed all of them.
2. We do not want to say anything that "slanderous" (= false + negative). For example, that the Jews were wicked because they called Ezra ('Uzair) son of Allah, as the Qur'an in Sura 9:30 says. Jews worshipped Ezra according to Bukhari vol.6 book 60 ch.80 no.105 p.86. This is a slanderous lie against Jewish people.
3. Mohammed said to lampoon the pagans in verse according to Bukhari vol.8 book 72 ch.91 no.174 p.113.
I hope that at least modern Muslims can agree that being negative like this is not what a person of God should do.
As for us, Jesus spent over 1/3 of all His recorded words either rebuking, warning specific people, warning in general, or correcting false things. He was encouraging also, and we are too. Not only do we ask, "What would Jesus do?", but we also should ask, "What would Jesus want us to say?" Yes we are "warners" like Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Paul, and even Jesus, but we want you to know that we also love you. We would never want to hurt you, even though Muslims hurt Christians, and we want only the best for you.
Q33: Why do you Christians [allegedly] attack Muslims?
A: We care for Muslims people; we do not attack them. Three words to answer: Bosnians, Jesus, and villagers.
Bosnians: When Serbs were ruthlessly slaughtering Bosnian Muslims, Americans stood against that. Serbs might have perceived America as being against them, but we were not against Serbian people. We were for protecting the oppressed, and we were against the atrocities that some (but not all) Serbs did. Likewise we have nothing against the Afghans, as our aid shipments to them show, but when our own civilians were attacked, we responded to try to protect ourselves from this happening again.
Jesus said we were to turn the other cheek, and we do that as individuals. However, on a government level Romans 13:4 says it does not bear the sword in vain. Western culture is not Christian, though Christianity has heavily influenced it. It is not all good either but we have a duty to stand against what is wrong, regardless of culture. There are things wrong besides murdering people. Treating women as second class citizens, forbidding them to work outside the home, counting their witness in court as only half that of a man, and who should rarely be outside the home, are all wrong ideas. God is mocked when it is done in His name.
Villagers in Indonesia and Sudan have been slaughtered today simply because they are not Muslims. Would you tell me why many Muslims across the world feel they should be doing this, and yet Muslims think any peaceful, rational criticism of Islamic practices is an "attack" on them?
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