This article first appeared in Christian Research Journal, volume 36, number 04 (2013). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/
Christians who discuss the gospel with Muslims often make a crucial mistake: they answer a Muslim the same way they would answer an atheist who raised a similar objection. But Muslims are not atheists, and their reasons for criticizing the gospel are usually completely different from those of atheists. Moreover, Muslims have certain theological commitments that can actually help the Christian undermine criticisms. By familiarizing ourselves with a simple approach to dealing with Islamic challenges, we can clear away a good deal of rubble on our way to a careful presentation of Jesus’ message.
In this article, we will examine five common Muslim objections to Christianity. Since these are the standard talking points for Muslims when they hear the gospel, Christians have an excellent opportunity to prepare our responses before challenges are ever raised.
“THE GOSPEL HAS BEEN CORRUPTED”
One of Islam’s “Six Articles of Faith” requires Musl
ims to believe not only in the Qur’an, but also in the scriptures revealed prior to the Qur’an, including the Gospel given to Christians (where “Gospel” refers to a book, rather than to a message1). Nevertheless, since the Gospel contradicts Muhammad’s message on several fundamental doctrines, Muslims have been forced to claim that the Gospel has been corrupted. Any Christian who witnesses to Muslims will be told repeatedly that the scriptures we possess, while possibly retaining some truth, have been hopelessly altered.
Due to a strong emphasis on textual criticism in the Christian tradition, it is quite natural for apologists to defend the New Testament by pointing to early manuscripts. Yet when the charge of corruption comes from a Muslim, we must remember that the charge has nothing to do with manuscript evidence. Providing manuscript evidence to our Muslim friends will likely miss the true source of the objection—namely, the Gospel contradicting the Qur’an.
Imagine the surprise of a Muslim critic when we inform him that, in claiming the Gospel has been corrupted, Muslims themselves are contradicting the Qur’an! Contrary to popular Muslim assertions, the Qur’an affirms the inspiration, preservation, and authority of the Gospel we possess. By drawing the Muslim’s attention to the Qur’an’s position on Christian Scripture, we strike at the root of his objection and help him see the internal incoherence of Islam.
Inspiration of the Gospel
The Qur’an declares that the Gospel was revealed as “a guidance for the people”: “He has revealed to you the Book with truth, verifying that which is before it, and He revealed the Torah and the Gospel aforetime, a guidance for the people, and He sent the Qur’an” (3:3–4, Shakir2).