5 Reasons Why Muslims Should Believe What The Bible Says About Jesus Over The Q’uran.
Christians believe, based on what The Bible says, that Jesus is God; the second person of the Trinity incarnate. Christians believe that Jesus died on a Roman cross to atone for mankind’s sins and rose from the dead 3 days later. Muslims by contrast, believe that Jesus was a prophet who was merely human and in fact, was not crucified at all but was taken up to Heaven by Allah and replaced with a substitute that looked like Jesus who died in His place. But I find the Christian view of Jesus to be far, far, far more compelling the Muslim vision of Jesus. Here are several reasons why you should believe what The Bible teaches about Jesus over the Q’uran.
1: The Gospels are earlier than the Q’uran
The Q’uran was written in the 6th century, several hundred years after the gospels found in our New Testament. Virtually every scholar agrees, even atheist, Muslim, and pagan scholars that all 4 gospels and the New Testament epistles were all written in the first century. The more liberal non-Christian scholars would put them late into the first century, such as from 70-90 A.D. However, I think there are good reasons to date the gospels and Acts prior to 62 A.D. Why? Well, none of the gospels mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied its destruction when He said, "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down," (Luke 21:6, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1). This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the Temple. The gold in the Temple melted down between the stone walls and the Romans took the walls apart, stone by stone, to get the melted gold. Such an obvious fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy most likely would have been recorded by the gospel writers if they had been written after 70 A.D. Also, if the gospels were fabrications of mythical events then anything to bolster the Messianic claims -- such as the destruction of the temple as Jesus prophesied -- would surely have been included. But, it was not included suggesting that the gospels (at least Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written before 70 A.D.
Similarly, this argument is important when we consider the dating of the book of Acts which was written after the gospel of Luke by Luke himself. Acts is a history of the Christian church right after Jesus' ascension. Acts also fails to mention the incredibly significant events of 70 A.D. which would have been extremely relevant and prophetically important and naturally would have garnered inclusion into Acts had it occurred before Acts was written. Remember, Acts is a book of the history of the early Christian church. The fact that the incredibly significant destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is not recorded is very strong evidence that Acts was written before A.D. 70. If we add to this the fact that Acts does not include the accounts of "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of James (A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65)," then we can say that they were written sometime before 60 A.D, because the martyred deaths of Paul, James and Peter were highly significant events that we would have expected the New Testament writers to record had they been written after these events took place.
The interval of time between the events The New Testament records and the time of the writing of the New Testament documents are so early, that it is impossible for legend to have grown up and to have wiped out the historical core of the events they described.
Contrast this with the Quran. The Quran first appeared in 6th century, hundreds of years after the life of Jesus. Why should I believe this much, much, much later record about Jesus than these extraordinarily early documents? It’s crazy historical methodology to prefer the later documents than the earlier documents. Now, the Muslim is likely to protest that the Quran is inspired whereas The Bible is not.
However, I don’t appeal to the New Testament documents to make the case for Christianity because I believe they are divinely inspired writings. When I argue the case for Christianity, I treat the gospels and Paul’s letters just as I would any other ancient set of historical documents, applying the same historical principles-of-authenticity as I would any non-biblical writing (e.g The principle of embarrassment, the principle of multiple attestation, the principle of enemy testimony, dissimilarity, etc.). I don’t presuppose the inspiration of The Bible because I know that the non-Christian I’m debating doesn’t believe they are inspired like I do. If they did, I wouldn’t have to argue for Christianity’s truth because they’d be Christians already. I also know well enough that to quote The Bible to prove The Bible would be circular reasoning and therefore invalid. When arguing for Jesus’ divine self understanding or for the evidence for His resurrection, I apply the typical principles of historical methodology to the New Testament documents to make my case. Whether the New Testament documents have errors, or if they’re purely human documents are entirely irrelevant.
2: The Biblical Documents Have Been Reliably Preserved Over The Centuries
One of the Muslim apologist’s tactics is to argue that the Old and New Testaments have become so corrupted that we can’t believe anything they have to say about God. That’s why the Quran was given in the first place, to correct the misunderstandings that come from our Bibles. However, the historical evidence is entirely against this position. Not only do we have very good reason to believe that the New Testament was written extremely early after the events they describe (see above), but the documents have been so reliably preserved that textual critics say that we can know what the original documents said to 99% certainty. There are more than 24,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament. These manuscript copies are very ancient and they are available for inspection now. There are also some 86,000 quotations from the early church fathers and several thousand Lectionaries (church-service books containing Scripture quotations used in the early centuries of Christianity). Bottom line: the New Testament has an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting its reliability.
Now, you will hear it argued that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of variants in the manuscript copies so that therefore, we cannot trust anything these documents say. And at first, this does sound very damning! Thousands of variants! However, what they don’t tell you is these thousands of variants are not found in each individual manuscript, but rather, they’re spread out throughout multiple manuscripts. For example, if ONE misspelled word in ONE verse in one New Testament document is found is in 20,000 manuscripts…that counts as 20,000 variants. In reality, it’s only 1 error found in 20,000 manuscripts. But the way people word it sounds like there are 20,000 errors in a single copy, which is not true.
Let us suppose we have five manuscript copies of an original document that no longer exists. Each of the manuscript copies are different. Our goal is to compare the manuscript copies and ascertain what the original must have said. Here are the five copies:
Manuscript #1: Jes## Christ is the Savior of the w#### worl#.
Manuscript #2: Christ Jesus is the Savior of the wh##e world.
Manuscript #3: Jesus Christ ## the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #4: Jesus Christ is th# Savior of the wh#le world.
Manuscript #5: Jesus Christ is the Sav## of the whole w#rld.
Could you, by comparing the manuscript copies, ascertain what the original document said with a high degree of certainty that you are correct? Of course you could. A great majority of the 150,000 variants are solved by the above methodology. By comparing the various manuscripts, all of which contain very minor differences like in the above illustration, it becomes fairly clear what the original must have said.
Moreover, even if all of the manuscripts of the New Testament documents were destroyed, we could still reconstruct of most of what the originals said just from the quotations of it by the early church Fathers. As Ron Rhodes writes “in addition to the many thousands of New Testament manuscripts, there are over 86,000 quotations of the New Testament in the early church fathers. There are also New Testament quotations in thousands of early church Lectionaries (worship books). There are enough quotations from the early church fathers that even if we did not have a single copy of the Bible, scholars could still reconstruct all but 11 verses of the entire New Testament from material written within 150 to 200 years from the time of Christ.”
3: Jesus claimed to be God and proved it by His resurrection from the dead.
As referenced above in my treatment of point 1, I can use typical historical methodology to uncover just enough facts about Jesus to demonstrate the truth of Christianity. If Jesus claimed to be God and then rose from the dead then that it pretty good evidence that He was telling the truth. God would never resurrect a heretic and a blasphemer which is exactly what Jesus would be if His claim to divinity were not true. So by raising Jesus from the dead, God is implicitly putting His stamp of approval on everything Jesus said and did.
I cannot go into even a small sampling of the historical evidence for Christ’s resurrection here. But what I can do is refer you to two blog posts that I wrote on the subject.
In post number 1, mentioned above, I go into great detail about the resurrection. I not only lay out the evidence for Jesus’ empty tomb, postmortem appearances and the sincerity of the disciples’ beliefs, but I also refute a large number of naturalistic explanations conjured up by non-Christians to explain away those 3 facts. In post number 2, I only lay out numerous strands of evidence for Christ’s empty tomb, and post-death appearances. I made post number 2 because I got complaints that post number 1 was too long and that most people won’t read it. So I’d advise you to read post number 2 titled “Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead (Brief Version)” and then check out the longer version if you’re curious about how non-Christians respond to this evidence and try to explain it within a non-Christian framework. However, if Christ is raised from the dead, all non-Christian worldviews crumble.
4: It Makes No Sense To Believe in a God That Would Create Things He Hates
There’s a passage in the Quran that says all dogs are evil and should be killed. This is illogical. For one, animals are not moral agents, so they cannot be evil. They don’t appear to be ruled by a moral compass, rather they seem to be ruled purely by instinct. Muslims also believe that Allah only loves those who love him and hates all infidels.
It is utterly illogical to think that the Creator of the universe would purposefully create something he knows he’s going to hate. This is a point I bring up with Christian Calvinists who claim that God hates the non-elect. Why would God create something he knows He’s going to find despicable? This would be like an artist purposefully sculpting a statue that he knows in advance is going to be an eyesore. But even though he knows it’s going to be an eye sore, he makes it anyway and then puts it up in a place where he has to walk by it every single day. Each time he passes by it, he cringes at it’s ugliness.
Jesus; the God of The Bible loves every human person (John 3:16) and finds everything that He created (John 1:1-4) to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God hates sin, yes. God hates the evil actions we all commit from day to day. God has a passionate hatred for sin, but God loves the sinner. God loves the person commiting the sin. In fact, The Bible tells us that this is why God The Father sent The Son to die for us. “God shows His love towards us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
5: The Quran Says The Bible Is The Word Of God (Kalam Allah)
In addition to the 4 reasons mentioned above, the Qur'an calls the Bible the Word of God (kalam Allah) in Sura 2:75, the Book of God (kitab Allah) in Sura 2:101; 3:23; 5:44; 28:49, and the enlightening book in Sura 3:184. Moreover, the Qur'an teaches that Allah Himself sent the Law (of Moses) and the Gospels: "It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong)" (Sura 3:3).
The Qur'an calls the Bible, or parts of the Bible, a light (Sura 5:44, 46), an example (Sura 11:17), and a warning (Sura 17:4). It also states that the authors of the Bible were inspired (Sura 4:163; 5:111).
In many places and a variety of ways, the Qur'an's teachings overwhelming support the importance of the Bible and permit Muslims to read and learn from it.