Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How Does A Muslim Concept of Scriptural Revelation Differ From A Christian Concept?

From time to time, I have had Muslims request to do a debate on the topic of "Which is the word of God -- the Qur'an or the Bible?" I have consistently turned down this topic for at least two very good reasons. The first is that the topic is too broad and unfocused for a single debate. The second is that Christians and Muslims have a very different understanding of what it means to be "the word of God". In such a discussion, therefore, the Christian and Muslim is likely to be talking past one another.

In Islam, the Qur'an is believed to be inscribed in a Tablet in Paradise (Surah 85:22). It was literally dictated to Muhammad over a 23 year time period by the angel Gabriel. In stark contrast, Christians do not subscribe to a dictation theory -- at least for the majority of the Bible. Rather, the Christian understands the Scriptures to be God-breathed (theopneustos, in Greek) (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As 2 Peter 1:20-21 says,
"...no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
The Bible was written over a timescale of roughly 1500 years, by as many as between 30 and 40 different authors. The nature of divine inspiration is such that the stylistic characteristics of the individual authors has been preserved, but nonetheless the Spirit of God has driven them to write the Scriptures that God willed that we should possess.

Some parts of Scripture do record the exact words of God. For example, the book of Malachi is entirely a report of the words of God as He speaks in judgement against the priests of Israel.

I spoke about this fundamental difference one time on ABN Sat's Trinity Channel. Wrenching my words out of context, internet Muslim polemicist Ijaz Ahmad (of the website "Calling Christians") put together a short video claiming that "Jonathan McLatchie rejects the Bible." Here it is below:

It was obvious from the context from which this clip was excerpted that I was talking about how Muslims and Christians have a rather different concept of Scripture and revelation. I was making the point that Christians do not understand the Bible as a whole to be literally the inscribed word of God in the way that Muslims do with respect to the Qur'an. This, however, didn't stop Ijaz from excerpting a clip and dishonestly entitling it "Jonathan McLatchie rejects the Bible". In the video, Ijaz also quoted Exodus 24:12 and 31:18, in which we are told that the ten commandments are inscribed by the finger of God. Ijaz claimed that I had thus made "a fundamental mistake about the Bible's Scriptural nature." I wondered whether Ijaz thought that Christians believed God to have inscribed the entire Bible on those tablets. I and others pointed out his error when the video first came out last September. But I note that Ijaz, as recently as January 14th on his blog, claimed that I "didn’t know God literally inscribed the ten commandments according to Exodus," linking to this video.

It seems that, often in Muslim polemical circles, there is little if any concept of being charitable in your interpretation of other's words. It is disappointing.


Brother C.L said...

IA if that's his real name is a internet diva troll don't give him any attention.

Unknown said...

“In Islam, the Qur'an is believed to be inscribed in a Tablet in Paradise (Surah 85:22). It was literally dictated to Muhammad over a 23 year time period by the angel Gabriel…. The Bible was written over a timescale of roughly 1500 years, by as many as between 30 and 40 different authors.”- Jonathan McLachie

Thanks Jonathan for presenting informative discussion about Quran and the Bible to understand Ture God who created us and enjoy eternal life after our death believing Jesus as Son of God.

How we believe development of holy book to its present form from its source speak volumes about truth of word of True God the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Believing holy book by rationale and justification with its development history reveals whether or not the book is believable as word from true God or word from false god. The Bible speaks about origin of human life and its surrounding since inception of creation of this Universe by the word of God. It is written down by Moses with inspiration from Holy Spirit. The Bible also predicted future result which only God knows. For example Jesus was crucified and suffered as predicted in Psalm 22 more than thousand years before Jesus’ actual crucifixion. The facts that the books of Bible written by the time period roughly 1,500 years by 30-40 different authors is more believable than single person Muhammad’s story telling about Quran written in Tabled in Paradise by his Allah. The mere rhyme without any miraculous sign from true God in Quran does not mean anything to believers of the Bible. More over Muhammad’s holistic personal life speaks nothing but representing false god. Nobody saw angel Gabriel talked with Muhammad as written in Quran whereas Jesus appeared to about 500 people as written in the Bible to proof His resurrection after his death by crucifixion. What more evidence do we need that the Bible speaks word of Ture God?