Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 2

Who is Jesus in Islam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re going back to Louay Fatoohi’s book on Jesus and now we get to start diving into the subject more. So who does Fatoohi say Jesus was? Christians might be surprised to learn that the Qur’an actually speaks highly of Jesus. Here are some statements that Fatoohi says about Jesus.

Jesus was one of the prophets, but he was also distinguished and, in some aspects, unique. He is the only prophet who did not have a biological father. Probably related to his unique miraculous conception is his other distinctive quality that he became a prophet while still in his mother’s womb or immediately after his birth. This is what the infant Jesus said to his mother’s people in defense of her chastity when, upon returning to them carrying her newborn, they suspected that she had conceived Jesus illegitimately: “I am Allah’s servant. He has given me the Book and has made me a prophet” (19.30). Jesus’ unique conception and the fact that, unlike other prophets, he was made a prophet immediately after his birth, or even while still in his mother’s womb, must have distinguished him with special spiritual qualities.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Grant one point of favor. At least Muslims affirm the virgin birth, which I also affirm.

Although Gabriel delivered the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad and probably communicated with other prophets, only Jesus is described as having been “supported” by Gabriel — probably hinting at a unique role that Gabriel played in Jesus’ life.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

These are the kind of miracles that the Qur’an says Jesus performed: (1) Speaking in infancy. (2) Showing paranormal precociousness in infancy. (3) Creating figures of birds from clay and then giving them life. (4) Healing blindness. (5) Healing albinism or serious skin diseases. (6) Raising the dead. (7) Knowing what people ate and stored in the privacy of their homes. (8) Bringing down from heaven a table of food.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

If one didn’t know better, it looks like Jesus is a greater figure in the Qur’an than Muhammad is.

So what about other claims about Jesus? When looking at the New Testament, one statement Fatoohi makes is:

But, of course, the New Testament also promotes Jesus’ divinity. Describing Jesus as both “servant” of God and “divine” is another aspect of Jesus’ confused nature in the New Testament.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Confused in what way? Fatoohi needs to show that this is a contradiction. It is not enough to just assert it. From a Trinitarian standpoint, this fits in perfectly.

In writing about Paul, he says:

Paul’s misguided comparison between Jesus and Adam looks to me a “contextual displacement” of the authentic comparison between the two that God must have made in the book that He revealed to Jesus and/or which Jesus himself spoke of, which is repeated in the Qur’an. I have coined the term “contextual displacement” to refer to a special kind of textual corruption in Jewish and Christian writings where “a character, event, or statement appears in one context in the Qur’an and in a different context in other sources.” Contextual displacements are the results of “the Bible’s editors moving figures, events, and statements from their correct, original contexts” (Fatoohi, 2007: 39).

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Unfortunately, he never tells us where these original sources are that he has access to. He never tells us where the writings of the New Testament have been corrupted nor does he tell us where the Qur’an even says that they have been. Maybe, and this could be a bizarre idea, but maybe the Qur’an is just wrong.

Yet if anything seems to be stressed here, and it will be stressed more in the next section, it’s that Jesus was a human being.

You know, the very thing Christians have been proclaiming for 2,000 years…

It’s so strange that people write books against doctrines they haven’t ever attempted to really understand. Who does that?

(If you want examples, just do a search for “new atheists” on here.)

So next time, we’ll look at the next step Fatoohi has for us in his claims about Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Jesus The Muslim Prophet Part 1

What is Islam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have spoken to someone recently in Pakistan who is interested in having me speak via the internet to others in Pakistan interested in defending Christianity. I have heard they have had talks on Gospel reliability and the resurrection already. I can cover those, but I figured I could add something by answering objections to the Trinity.

I have spent considerable time debating Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for this, I decided I would then get some books on Kindle by Muslims arguing against the Trinity. If you are interested, this is the one that I chose to begin with.

So looking at the first part on just Islam, if I was being told that all of this is what the Muslim view of Jesus is, then there would be very little to argue with. I could tell you over and over what Muslims believe Islam is. You can 100% agree that they think that is what it is and 100% disagree that their claims correspond to reality.

It’s not really in dispute as far as I know that the name Islam means submission. What is under dispute is if Islam is really the universal religion that Islam claims it to be. The idea is not that Muhammad really revealed a new religion but was calling people back to the religion that supposedly was being followed by all the prophets in the Old and New Testament, including Jesus.

What is given to demonstrate this? Quotes from the Qur’an. If you’re a Muslim, that’s the gold standard and your case is made. If you’re not, then what you have been told is really meaningless. Quoting the Qur’an as an authority to outsiders is useless unless you’re given a reason to think the Qur’an has authority in what it describes. You can accept it as an authority on what Muslims believe, but that’s about it.

The only distinguishing mark given to Muhammad is that he is the last prophet. I’m inclined to think the Qur’an should be included in that also. It is quite convenient that this is the last prophet. It’s just amazing how a figure shows up and claims to be a prophet and gives a final revelation.

So this is the start and I could cover more than a brief section in my next reading, but for now, the problem is the only source that is quoted in all of this is the Qur’an. Thus far, there are no scholars of Islam or Christianity or even Judaism quoted. The only source referenced is one that lo and behold, happens to be by Muslim authorities and happens to agree with them. Imagine that.

As much as I give internet atheists a hard time, in many ways, Muslim apologetics often turns out to somehow be worse. We have thus far encountered no specific section on Jesus alone and the claims that Christianity makes about Him, but they are coming. I hope we’ll find something stronger, but I’m skeptical.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/162017: Andy Bannister

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Qur’an is a book many Christians aren’t really familiar with. Muslims and Muslim apologists will often talk about the perfection of the Qur’an. The Bible after all supposedly has so many textual difficulties and which version do you read? Not the case with the Qur’an after all! There’s only one Qur’an! There aren’t manuscript difficulties with it! This book came from Allah Himself through the angel Gabriel and delivered to Muhammad.

But what if it’s not true?

Could it be that there has been study done into the Qur’an and found that these claims are lacking? Could it be that we know more about the formulation of the Qur’an than is realized? Could it be the Qur’an is much more human than realized? While the authors of the Bible having their humanity influence the way it was written has been understood, is it the same with the Qur’an?

To discuss this, I have asked someone to come on who understands the Bible very well. I asked someone who has studied this at the highest level and has written about it to help explain it. He’s been on the show before and this time he’s on to talk about the Qur’an. His name is Andy Bannister.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

I am the Director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and an Adjunct Speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, speaking and teaching regularly throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, the USA, and the wider world. From universities to churches, business forums to TV and radio, I regularly address audiences of both Christians and those of all faiths and none on issues relating to faith, culture, politics and society.

I hold a PhD in Islamic studies and have taught extensively at universities across Canada, the USA, the UK and further afield on both Islam and philosophy. I am also an Adjunct Research Fellow at The Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

I am the author of An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an (a groundbreaking and innovative study that reveals many of the ways the Qur’an was first composed) and Heroes: Five Lessons From Whose Lives We Can Learn, an exciting and fast-moving look at the lives of five incredible giants of the Christian faith. My latest book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (or: The Dreadful Consequences of Really Bad Arguments), is a humorous engagement with the New Atheism. I also co-wrote and presented the TV documentary, Burning Questions.

When not travelling, speaking, or writing, I am a keen hiker, mountain climber and photographer. I am married to Astrid and we have two children, Caitriona and Christopher.

I hope you’ll be interested as we have this hour-long discussion on the nature of the Qur’an. Please be watching your podcast feed for this episode. If you can also, go and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast on iTunes. I love to see them!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Qur’an In Context

What do I think of Mark Robert Anderson’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Qur’an for many Christians is a very foreign book. Some people have tried to read it and yet have not made it past the second sura. The style of writing is different to most Christians and does not seem like an engaging work, but the reality is that Christians need to understand this work. Whatever you think of Islam, the Qur’an is the holy book of this faith and it has shaped the world greatly.

Anderson has written a book to help us in its text. Anderson urges us rightly to try to drop our preconceptions and approach the book seriously and seek to understand the way it was written, the why, and the historical context. Even if you don’t think it’s holy Scripture, the Qur’an still should be understood on its own terms. That requires work, just like understanding the Bible does. I have been a long opposition to people not bothering to study the historical context of the Bible and yet speaking on it. I say the same for the Qur’an.

Anderson goes through piece by piece and then compares what he finds to the Bible. There is no doubt on my part he wants to be as fair as he can to the Qur’an. He also addresses the question of if we worship the same God or not. I think we could say that we have that as our intention and I think that Anderson does argue that, but there can be no doubt the descriptions of Allah and YHWH are vastly different.

Anderson also wants us to study the world of 7th century Arabia. What was going on? What were Christians and Jews and pagans all saying? How did Muhammad approach this world?

Next comes a long look at the worldview of the Qur’an. What does it say about evil? What does it say about Adam? What must one do to be saved? All of these have marked differences and Anderson has many questions about whether the system in the Qur’an is really coherent or not.

Jesus is a big topic. The problem for the view of Jesus in the Qur’an is that it’s really downplaying. Very little is said about the ministry and teaching of Jesus. Much comes from non-canonical sources and its depiction of the Trinity is highly lacking. The Qur’an says Jesus is the Messiah, but divests this of any real meaning at all.

Amazingly, you can have many in-depth looks at the lives of other people in the Bible, but with Jesus, you get nothing like that. You don’t understand what His ministry was and why He came. It simply looks like Jesus is only there to point to Muhammad.

Ah yes, but what about the crucifixion? The Qur’an is clear on that and that’s that Jesus did not die on the cross. Anderson disputes that and I have to say he makes a highly highly compelling case. I have long thought that Islam denies that Jesus was crucified, and many Muslims do, but Anderson made a case that made me rethink if that’s what the original Qur’anic author intended and I dare say I will not be as strident until I find a better response to that claim. Anderson bases his claim on what he considers a better reading of that text in light of other texts he thinks are clearer. He contends that others are reading the clear texts in light of this one and changing those in ways that don’t fit.

Finally, he wraps things up by asking if we could say the Qur’an is the sequel to the Bible. The answer is decidedly, no. There are too many differences across the board. Still, we should strive to understand the Qur’an in its historical context to have better discussions with the Muslims we encounter.

Anderson’s book gives a lot of food for thought. He is kind and fair in his treatment and there is nothing here I can think of that would be seen as “Anti-Muslim” or dare I say it, Islamophobic. I look forward to even seeing what some Muslims think about the material in here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Textual Criticism and Qur’an Manuscripts

What do I think of Keith Small’s book published by Lexington Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

At an event recently, I was involved in a debate with Muslims who brought up claims about differences in the Bible and how this isn’t a problem with the Qur’an. On its face, I considered this a ridiculous claim. After all, any manuscript copied by hand from the ancient and medieval world will undergo some change. Still, I didn’t have a real source for that. That led me to searching for a book on the topic. (Yes. It is possible to go to a source for information besides Wikipedia.)

Keith Small’s book was the one I saw that looked like the one to get. After reading it, I think my prediction was correct. One interesting aspect is after reading it, you can’t tell where Small stands in a debate. Is he a Christian? Is he a Muslim? You don’t know. That’s how even-handed he is.

It doesn’t take long for the common Muslim claim to be put to rest. There are documents of the Qur’an all over the world in different museums that have differences in them. To be fair, a lot of what Small says is hard to understand without knowing the Arabic, which I do not know. What can be understood is that there are differences.

Small also points out that this was acknowledged by early Muslim scholars and Christian apologists responding to Islam would also mention some of the differences. Small doesn’t get into any of the possible theology behind this nor does he say anything about any possible ramifications for Islam. This would be a much more serious problem I think for Islam than for Christianity since the Qur’an is also said to be eternal if my understanding is correct.

Also, much of Christianity began with the written document first and then that document was handed down so the document became primary. The Qur’an was stated as a tradition many many times beforehand and then that tradition was handed down, but often it would have many of the changes, albeit minor, that came with oral tradition. We might not be able to speak about the original Qur’an. Instead, we could need to speak about original Qur’ans.

Interestingly, there are some major differences. Some saw the second Sura, the Cow, as it’s own book. Some copies don’t include some Suras. Some have extra Suras. While we can say that Muslims will point to Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11, Muslims have their own problems. Unfortunately, many of them will not realize this. Just as Christians have often not really interacted with the evidence of their position too many times, so it is that many Muslims have not done the same.

While I am a critic of Islam obviously, I do think that for the most part, it has likely been handed down fairly well much like any other ancient document, but there can be no support for the common myth of no variants whatsoever. Anyone wanting to study this issue should take advantage of Small’s book. It is sure to be a staple in this field for some time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Answering Jihad

What do I think of Nabeel Qureshi’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to be clear at the start. I consider Nabeel Qureshi a friend. I’ve got to meet him in person many times and I highly admire him. I was also given this copy by Zondervan for review purposes. I hope to remove as much bias as possible.

That being said, I do want to say that at the start, Qureshi really does care for the Muslim people. He has told myself and others that for all he knows, there could be one like the Apostle Paul among the Muslims who will go on to become a great missionary so he’s always praying for them. Qureshi is equally against Muslim violence and violence against Muslims.

This is important in our day and age when we can look at a Muslim and immediately think of 9/11. We can give thanks for the Muslims out there that do condemn atrocities like 9/11. At the same time, it’s important to raise the question and ask if this violence is consistent with the history of Islam.

Qureshi covers the issues relating to the nature of Muhammad and the nature of the Koran. The work is quite thorough. If you do not know anything about Islam as you start to read the book, you will be able to still understand what is going on in the world today. Qureshi writes with scholarly rigor and at the same time, combines it with a pastoral heart.

The book is divided into three parts. The first answers questions on the origin of Jihad. What is Islam and what is Sharia and what is meant by Jihad? We also get a brief look at the history of Muhammad.

The next section deals with our own time. What does it mean when we speak today of Radical Islam. What about terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Horam? Is it possible that one day we could see a reformation in Islam that will make it a peaceful religion?

Of course, one could ask the question that was asked by Obama after some Muslim attacks. Don’t Christians have a history of warfare in the Crusades? Don’t they also have a history of warfare in the Old Testament? Do Muslims and Christians really worship the same God?

The book is excellent and each section can be read in a brief time and easily digested. If there was a concern that I did have, it would be that I think that Qureshi does condemn the Crusades too quickly and leans too close to pacifism for my taste. I think the Crusades largely started off as defensive wars for instance to help those in need. Of course, this does not mean that all that was done in the Crusades was right and much is to be condemned, but as it is problematic to say all of it was right, it would be just as much to say that all of it was wrong.

Still, I think this is an excellent book for understanding Islam and if there’s one thing we can all get from this, it would be Qureshi’s heart on the matter. He really does love Muslims. Maybe we could be better at reaching them if we had the same love for our enemies that Qureshi has.

In Christ,
Nick Peters