My good friend Ali and I had been connecting regularly to drink tea together and talk about life. Every topic was up for grabs and the very topics I’d been taught to avoid - politics and religion at the top of the list - were often the starting point of conversation for Ali and his friends. We had recently been having more in-depth conversations about the nature of Christianity and Islam and I was looking forward to meeting again.
As I opened the door to Starbucks and stepped inside, Ali was there to greet me. We ordered our drinks - he always got a chai latte and I ordered my usual cup of black coffee - and we headed to a table in the corner.
As we sat down Ali grinned and asked, “Shall we continue our discussion of Christianity and Islam?”
I was in many ways still trying to figure Ali out. In one sense he had a real curiosity to learn about other religions, especially Christianity as he conversed with me. But it also seemed that he just liked to talk about stuff. He - and his friends when they joined us - reminded me of the Athenians in Acts 17 who “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” I wasn’t sure if he was really interested in my faith or just interested in talking about it. But I plugged away trusting that the Holy Spirit was working.
Grinning back at him and unzipping my backpack I said, “Oh that would be great. In fact, I brought my Bible with me and wanted to share a few verses that are very important to me. They sort of explain why I believe what I believe. I’d love to hear what you think of them.”
“That would be interesting,” he said as he sipped at his tea. “I guess I could tell you what I think.”
“Good. The first verse is from the book of John in the New Testament. It says . . .”
Ali interrupted me before I could even begin. “Wait a minute. What is the book of John? Jesus’ book is the Injeel.”
I realized I’d need to explain some things. “Oh, yes. John is the fourth biography of Jesus and is part of the Injeel. We Christians call the Injeel the New Testament.”
A look of concern came over Ali’s face. He began to speak cautiously. “Hmmm. I don’t want to offend you Aaron, but this only confirms what I’ve always been taught. We Muslims believe that Allah gave Isa - you call him Jesus - the Injeel. He gave him the Injeel because he had given the Tawrat to Moses but the Jews corrupted it. So then he gave the Zebur, I think you call it the Psalms, to David but it too was changed and corrupted. Then God gave the Injeel to Jesus and, I’m sorry to say this Aaron, but Christians corrupted it as well. What you have there, your Bible, is not really God’s book but is a corrupted form of the Injeel. Thankfully, God in his mercy saw fit to send the Holy Quran to the Prophet Mohammed - may peace be upon him - and it is incorruptible.”
How would you answer Ali?
Most Muslims believe that the Bible has been changed. It is one of the most common assumptions in the Muslim world and is an idea that has been passed on from father to son and through the teachings of local religious leaders. I’ve met few Muslims who can tell me any more than the fact that they believe it has been changed and corrupted. They believe that Jews and Christians changed the words of the Bible over time to change it’s true meaning.
Like last week, I’ll offer some simple ways to respond but will encourage you to soak in the teaching of the articles, books and talks below to really gain a deeper understanding of how you can respond and help your Muslim friends begin to look at the Bible in a new light.
A Few Thoughts
This is an important concept that you will need to talk about with your Muslim friends. All other major objections will find their way back to the Bible and it’s reliability at some point in time. If the Bible has been reliably preserved and has not been changed, then the other objections that Muslims have to the Christian faith don’t have ground to stand on. The divine nature of Christ, the Crucifixion and the teaching of the atonement area all grounded firmly in the scriptures.
Here are three ways we can respond to the idea that the Bible has been corrupted. They are taken from “Is the Injeel Corrupted" by Fouad Masri and I’ll give the bullet points here. They are explained in much more detail in the articles, books and talks below.
The three ways to respond are:
a) a theological response
b) a logical response
c) an historic response
Who is stronger? God or man? If God is stronger, then God is strong enough to protect his books.
A Good Question: If God cannot protect his books, how is God all powerful? If God is strong enough to protect his books but chooses not to protect them, then how can we call God good?
If the Bible was changed, then our Muslims friends should be able to answer these questions:
Encourage your Muslims friends to find the answers to these questions. Ask them to read the Bible to find the places where it has been changed.
Please read the articles and books below to learn about all the historical evidence for the integrity of the Bible. There is so much historical evidence and nearly all historians agree that the Bible we have today is the same as the Bible that we had in the first century.
These are three simple ways to help your Muslim friends wrestle with the the claim that the Bible has been changed. These responses will hopefully put a small pebble of doubt in the shoe of their minds and allow the Holy Spirit to begin the process of deconstructing the false teachings of Islam and open their hearts to Jesus.
We'll end this article the same way ended last week. The first and last thing you should do as you discuss the reliability of the Bible with your Muslim friends is to pray and fast. Intellectual assent is rarely enough for a journey to faith. "No one comes to Jesus but that the Father who sent him draws them (John 6:44)." Salvation is always a work of the Holy Spirit.
Remember, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4)."
We must pray that the blinders be removed!
As a final word, "honor Christ the Lord in your hearts as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6).
Our Muslim friends are people. They are not arguments to be defeated. They are people to be loved and the Father is drawing them to himself.
The following articles, videos and books are resources I've found helpful as I prepare to give a reason for trustworthiness of the Bible.
Helpful Videos and Interviews:
Andy's excellent talk starts at the 8 minute mark.
Lots of information on the Quranic witness to the validity of the Bible.
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