Monday, July 29, 2013

Recommended Reading for Muslims (and the Christians who Engage Them)

The following article full of helpful recommendations was sent to me by Luis Dizon (Fisher).


Oftentimes, the quality of dialogue between Christians and Muslims is hampered by the fact that Muslims simply do not know what it is that Christians believe, why they believe them, how they interpret the Bible, and what the history of Christianity is. This is not entirely their fault, as Christians all too often neglect studying their own faith and are unable to give a proper answer to these fundamental questions. It would be helpful if both Muslims and the Christians who are involved in dialoguing with them had the proper resources to be able to engage in an informed discussion. For this reason, I have come up with a short reading list of books that I highly recommend, both so that Muslims will be able to know where Christians are coming from (and why many of their objections to Christianity miss the mark), as well as so that Christians would not be dumbfounded when hard questions are asked of them by their Muslim counterparts. If anyone on the Muslim side could come up with an equivalent reading list for their side, doing so would also be helpful so that Christians would similarly be able to understand where Muslims are coming from and improve the quality of our arguments.

The first book that I would like to recommend is Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem. Written by one of the foremost Evangelical theologians in North America, This 1,200 page tome is standard reading in seminaries across the English speaking world. With chapters on the Inspiration of the Bible, the Trinity, Justification, Atonement and other fundamental Christian doctrines, this volume is very helpful in demystifying those Christian beliefs that Muslims are frequently incredulous about. For those who are intimidated by the size of this volume, a condensed 500 page version is available which covers the same topics, albeit in less detail, while still mentioning the most important points that every reader should take home.

After Systematic Theology, the next book I would recommend for Muslims to read is Understanding and Applying the Bible by Robertson McQuilkin. This book is an introduction to Biblical hermeneutics (the science of interpreting the Bible). It provides guidelines on how to properly approach Biblical passages, determine the historical and grammatical context of each one, and what does and does not constitute a proper interpretation of any given passage. An understanding of Biblical hermeneutics plus an understanding of Christian theology will go a long way towards helping both Christians and Muslims handle the Bible properly, as well as explaining why it is simply not proper for Muslims to interpret Deuteronomy 18 or John 14-16 as predictions of Muhammad, or Matthew 27:46 as a denial of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross.

The next book I would recommend for my Muslim friends is The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief by James R. White. This book explains that fundamental Christian belief, defining it in such a way that it cannot be mistaken for any number of related heresies, whether it is belief in three separate gods (Tritheism) or belief in a unipersonal god who manifests himself in three different forms (Modalism). By explaining the differences and providing a correct definition of the Trinity, Muslims can avoid attacking strawman interpretations of the Godhead, and be able to more meaningfully debate Christians on their doctrine of God. It also explains why passages such as John 14:28 and 17:3 cannot be read as denials of Jesus’ divinity, and goes into the beliefs of the early church fathers to show that belief in the Trinity was not invented at Nicaea, but has been the belief of the Christian Church throughout history.

Another book that I would recommend Muslims read is Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer and Daniel B. Wallace. Written by some of the most credible evangelical Biblical scholars in the field today, Reinventing Jesus puts to rest such common and persistent myths as the idea that the Jesus story was borrowed from pagan religions, and that the canon of the Bible was determined at Nicaea. The book also goes into length on the work of textual critic Bart D. Ehrman (who is oft-quoted by Muslims despite his negative statements on the Qur’an), and shows how he misuses the textual evidence when in fact it strongly supports the preservation rather than corruption of the Biblical text. After reading this book, Muslims will hopefully think twice before ever quoting Ehrman again.

The next book that I would recommend to Muslims is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham. Dr. Bauckham tackles the crucial question of whether or not the Gospel accounts were actually written by people who actually knew Jesus firsthand and could verify the authenticity of the stories they were writing about. He shows convincingly that all four Gospels were written either by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) or by men who were associated with eyewitnesses (Mark and Luke). This is very relevant, as Muslims believe Jesus was a true prophet whose followers were aided by God and regarded as Muslims themselves (cf. Surah 3:52-55 and 61:14). If that is the case, then Muslims must accept the Gospel accounts as authentic, or else they would be contradicting their own holy text. This also means they cannot flippantly reject Jesus’ claims in the Gospels to be the Saviour of the World, and the only way to the Father (cf. John 3:16, 14:6), as these would have to be accepted as the true words of one of God’s chosen prophets.

One final book that I would recommend is not written from a Christian perspective, but is nonetheless helpful for those engaged in Christian-Muslim dialogue. It is How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic by Madsen Pirie. Logical fallacies are the bane of every meaningful debate, and a book on how to detect and avoid such fallacies will go a long way towards improving the quality of Christian-Muslim discussions. Muslims will learn to avoid such fallacies as the Argumentum Ad-Populum (“Islam is the fastest growing religion!”), the Straw-Man Argument (“If Jesus died on the cross for your sins, then you can sin as much as you want and still go to heaven!”) and the Tu-Quoque Fallacy (“You can’t accuse Islam of being a violent religion because Christians have done violent things in the past too!”). Understanding the use and abuse of logic will help both Christians and Muslims be more logical in their thinking and argumentation and thus provide actual challenges to the opposing side.

There are many books aside from these that I could recommend, but for starters, these are the books that I think belong in every Christian and Muslim’s library. I do hope that everyone will make the effort to actually obtain and read these books, as doing so would help us all to get behind all the bad arguments that get slung around and produce debates that are truly worthy of the name “apologetics.”


sla said...

The views of Baukham ...that gospels are the eye witness accounts are rejected by and large in academic circles .

sla said...

The book of Baukham has been reviewed in various academic journals . Scholars has expressed that Baukham, though a respected scholar argues very superficially in the book .

In short Gospels are not eyewitness accounts .

sla said...

Ehrman has not given any negative statements on the Quran , see the video once again .James White too brought the topic of Quran in his debate with him just to save his face.

Ehrman just means Muslims are not open to criticism , that does not transcribe to Quran meeting the same fate what New Testament met with.....interpolations , additions , deletions and theological alterations .

David please don't delete this post.

ignatius said...

Thanks, Anthony. It looks like a valuable list. And you're right that Muslims would do well to make such a list for better understanding Islam.

Tom ta tum Tom said...

Anthony! R U Kidding me? These books are AMAZING and should be read by every serious Christian layperson (teacher, cleric, whatEVER), EVERYWHERE. THANK YOU for this list! You are entirely too generous however, in your willingness to share this information with Muslims. But I can overlook this, 'cuz I know that "Allahu Ohynksmorr is oft forgiving, wise".


Steven Hermansyah said...

the hardest part of talking to muslims is the following:

1. they believe that holy scriptures fell off from the sky
2. they believe that god in a language, and when the language is translated into another language, its not the word of god anymore
3. they belive that god's word is like holy mantra that does magic when you chant them
4. they dont believe that their scripture has variants, only "ahrufs"
5. you cant talk to people who speaks 7th century with 21st century language
6. you can try, only if you have a very thick skin.

i have tried, and even my skin is thick enough, it gets harder to take any islamic arguments seriously, for they are keep repeating the same blunders over and over again.

Tom said...

Thanks.. some structure.. will be buying the first and last books.. for a start.

Anthony Rogers said...


I take it you haven't read Bauckham's book, otherwise you wouldn't think it could be dismissed as "superficial," even if you and others do not agree with it. In any case, why don't you share with us the academic reviews of Bauckham's book that you think demonstrate this so that we can actually respond to something other than just your assertion. Thanks.

Anthony Rogers said...

BTW folks, while I stand behind the post, I just want to make sure credit is given where it is due: this is a guest post as I said at the start. It was written by Luis Dizon.

David said...

sla, the quran is a good example of a text that has undergone revision, addition, interpolation and deletion.

goethechosemercy said...

Ah yes, the ever-inconvenient truth.
The Quran serves an interest, lays out an agenda, and demands compliance with it.
Wisdom literature, it is not.

Derek Adams said...

If the standards of textual critical scholarship and that of high criticism, low criticism applied to the Bible were applied to the Quran, fairly and objectively by the same community, the Quran would be torn to SHREDS.

There is much more grounds to assert redaction, variation, editing, additions and omissions based on Quranic exegesis, as opposed to the Bible, IT'S NOT EVEN AMBIGUOUS.. And that of Biblical exegesis along side of anthropology/archeology is how they determine the JEPD hypothesis with the Bible), IMAGINE APPLYING THAT SORT OF REASONING to the Quran, you get stuff like maybe Mohammed didn't exist AT ALL, or if he did, we barely can construct the Islamic Mohammed. Remember the Islamic Mohammed is largely unlike the historical Mohammed, most definitely the contemporary version of Mohammed.

As one who has read 3/5 of the books on offer, I can only say this is very high quality material.

Bauckham may have SOME negative reviews (I've read more POSTIVE than negative, honestly), but his arguments stand competent. I would rather much read his material than listen to him lecture (no offense, he is just like a horribly boring professor as an orator).

SLA I think is probably a fundamentalist Muslim who has never studied these issues in his/her life.

Backham at the very least, compels all his readers with a fascinating case and it needs to be interacted with, it's not worth to make a seemingly discrediting comment and not substantiate your claim.

For e.g. I would never just assert arbitrarily Neil Robinson has negative reviews, therefore he ought to be rejected by a large portion of scholarship. This is just SLANDER. I don't like it at all.

SLA, will you debate the New Testament Textual, compilation, corruption and history vs the Quranic, compilation, corruption and history?

Don't come here pretending you know about a subject you have never studied by any stretch of the imagination.

Rukiah Ali said...

A termite will eat the english translations of the Quran, but not the arabic.

Fisher said...

@Rukiah Ali:
Do you want us to test that theory?

Rukiah Ali said...

sure, oh post me a video of it.

Deleting said...

"A termite will eat the english translations of the Quran, but not the arabic."

Santa never visits Muslim Children either!

Oh, I thought we were telling tales of fancy....

Rukiah Ali said...

Santa is not real, you should see how ridiculous you sound. A termite will eat a whole page of the bible. Iy's true you want proof do it yourself. Or your just lazy. Santa is fake he never exists the parents give the children gifts. Unless you have a brain of a child.

Foolster41 said...

1.The crack about Santa was obviously a joke. (Tales of fancy)

2.If a person makes an assertion it is on them to provide the evidence. Rukiah claims that tgermites will only eat non-arabaic quorans (and bibles), but then calls people "lazy" if they won't find evidence to back up what she claims? Does Rukiah even understand how crazy and illogical she sounds?

Deleting said...

@Rukiah, it's called 'sarcasm', look it up.

Deleting said...

@Rukiah....wait, SANTA doesn't exist?!?!?!

I'm sorry, I couldn't help it.

rowland said...

@Rukiah: Can a goat eat a page of an arabic quran??

Rukiah Ali said...

your crazy and logical, I knowwhat sarcasim is. Yes, santa dose'nt exist. If you think i'm crazy you try it yourself or mabey it's because you think God can't make it happen.

Deleting said...

Rukiah said, "your crazy and logical, I knowwhat sarcasim is. Yes, santa dose'nt exist. If you think i'm crazy you try it yourself or mabey it's because you think God can't make it happen."

Why would I test God with something stupid like trying to make termites eat the arabic part of the Quran?

You still don't seem to understand what you're being told. The proof that God can do anything is not demonstrated in termites not eating arabic religious texts.

That is the point. Offering this proof islam is true is completely asinine.

Murtadd said...

@Rukiah, I sincerely hope that you're not a female muslim otherwise you're one of the rare woman to prove your prophet right when he said woman have half the intelligence of a man. To be clear, I'm being sarcastic.

Rukiah Ali said...

Seriously? sometimes you guys can be unreasonable. I just said if you want proof do it yourself it's not stupid. It really did happen. Islam is not stupid or foolish. I could tell you are being sarcastic. I'm just saying it is just an experiment to test. I know it sounds silly but it really happend.

aaron said...

based on your reasoning IF allah can protect it from termites, then where are the seven readings of the quran? that uthman burnt?

its backed by up sahih bukhari so it makes your way of thinking ridiculous in simplest terms.

surely Allah would have protected what he allowed and what his mouth piece muhummed said allah allowed him

Deleting said...

Rukiah, still on the subject of termites not eating the arabic portion of the Koran said, "I know it sounds silly but it really happend."

If it really happened then you produce the proof. I'm not going to go spend money on a Koran and try to find some termites to eat it.

I'm not even sure I know what I termite even looks like and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to contain them once I get them.

Foolster41 said...

So you tried this for yourself and it worked, or did you only see it on a youtube video? If the later, then you must unquestionably believe this happened as well:

"your crazy and logical,"
Yes, I know I'm being logical when I say it's illogical to try to insist other people provide proof of what you are saying. The whole point is your claim about the Quoran, besides being near impossible to actually test (you;d need a sealed chamber to the termite doesn't fly away, a termite and a Arabic and English Koran, it's completely irrelevent in proving wether or not the Quoran is true. How about showing us from the evidence of what Mohammad teaches, how it coincides with what Jesus taught (since Mohammad claimed Jesus as a prophet)? How about showing genuine miracles that show God's approval of Mohammad?

Probably because that would require putting in effort, (something I see from your single-sentence posts, petty name calling, and posting absolutely no evidence to your claims) that effort is something you do not want to put in to these posts.

Rukiah Ali said...

no it really happend. A Quran was left on a table no one bothered it and a termite came and started to eat a page the english translations and did not bother the arabic. Forget about the termite thing move on.

aaron said...

So let get this straight rukiah allah protects a arabic quran but not a english one lets assume it was true

2 problems

1-God is suppose to be fair, since in this case we see that Allah is discriminating between cultural language we see that Allah is racist. the essence of the word should not change even when its translated

2-If he protected it from a termite then why didn;t he protect it from uthman? its like cops going after pick pocket thief and not the bank robber first


that leaves
2 plausible options for you apart from what i have said from above

1- coincidence
2-foul play by insect repellent

all four possible scenarios either undermines allah being involved or show that he has a defect

so your whole argument falls to pieces

Foolster41 said...

That's still not proof, so I'm not sure why Rukiah expect us to believe this any more than if we said that termites don't eat the bible.

Fine, we can move on, (though, Rukiah was the one who brought it up) but since it is the only thing she's said in this topic, there's really nothing to move on to, unless Rukiah wants to actually address the topic of this post.

Fisher said...

Easy way to settle this: Somebody find some termites, then print out a chunk of the Arabic text of the Qur'an and a chunk of any other text, then put them side by side near the termites and see what happens next. Then record it and put it up on YouTube.

Rukiah Ali said...

Yes that is what I said.

Foolster41 said...

@Fischer: Yes "easy".

Irv said...

[Hi, AM. Saw this web "history."]


(Each human is part of this "River." Are you an "oxbow lake"?)

Islam, part of the Living River of History, affected even the 2012 US election!
The "headwaters" of this River was Adam, according to Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc.
In the OT (Deut. 28), "tributaries" wanting to join the River are blessed while "distributaries" wanting to flow away from it are cursed. Those wishing to totally separate from the fresh Living River become polluted, dying "oxbow lakes."
In the OT we see Israelites repeatedly flowing away from God, then repenting and returning to Him; we also see heathen "oxbow lakes" creating their own little "gods" and being allowed by God to plunder and kill the erring Israelites.
Then, at the right time, the Living River took on new life with the arrival of the Promised One who offers "living water."
In the 7th century Islam, drawing from both OT and NT, chose to be a distributary away from this River. Many scholars have viewed it as the final Antichrist: note "scourge" (Isa. 28), "Assyrian" (Mic. 5), "Euphrates" (Rev. 9) etc. (Google "Prof. F. N. Lee's ISLAM IN THE BIBLE [PDF]." Dr. Lee, BTW, has nine (!) earned doctorates in various fields.)
God will allow this "scourge" to temporarily persecute and kill apostate Jews (JINOs) and Christians (CINOs). Jews, especially in "entertainment," seem more expert in apostasy than Christians since Jews have been at it 2000 years longer than Christians have (Google "") - but Christians apparently want to catch up to the Jews!
It's apparent that others will join Islam in its end-time inquisition; its great oil wealth can captivate many leaders and already we're seeing apostate American leaders being bribed into turning against true American patriots.
Those who ignore (or try to dilute or destroy) the God-ordained Living River of History will be swept down it to an ocean made by their own never-ending tears of agony and despair.
The good news is that American JINOs & CINOs can overcome the "scourge" discussed above. The secret is found by checking out "II Chronicles 7:14" & "John 3:16" on the web.
There's still time - and freedom - to Google or MSN "Obama Promotes Public Sex," "Obama a Black-Slavery Avenger?," "Dangerous Radicals of the Religious Right," "Pretrib Rapture Politics," "Mikey Weinstein, Jesus-Basher," "Christ's return is NOT imminent," "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," "Pretrib Rapture Pride," and (for dessert) "Pretrib Rapture Stealth."
In light of Matthew 7:2, if we tolerate Christian leaders who lie to us and steal from us, we shouldn't be surprised if God allows us to have political leaders who lie to us and steal from us!

A Kansas Patriot (who won FIRST PLACE over 2200 entrants in a nationwide Americanism essay contest)

TPaul said...

Your experiment sounds ludicrous, almost like all those photoshoped pictures Muslims post all over the internet are supposed to prove that Islam is true.
If Allah according to Aisha couldn't stop a goat from eating a portion of the Arabic Koran, what makes you think he would stop termites from devouring it?
Muslims are so desperate to prove to the world that the Koran is divine that they will stop at nothing no matter how ridiculous and fraudulent their claims and attempts might be.

Rukiah Ali said...

If you don't beliveme try it out yourself.