Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question

Chapter 8:  God’s Greatness and the Preservation of the Gospel

Continuing through Abdu Murray’s book Grand Central Question brings us to this chapter in which Murray takes a hard look at the Qur’an. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is perfect. It is not inspired in the sense in which Christians believe the Old Testament and New Testament was inspired. To the Christian, these Testaments are thought to have come to us by God using the unique personalities of the writers. However, to the Muslim, the Qur’an is a recitation. In fact that is was Qur’an means. Muhammad wrote down a word for word dictation from the God.

In light of this, the Qur’an affirms that the Taurat (Torah), the Zabur (Psalms of David) and the Injeel (Gospel) were God’s self revelation to man. Murray points to verses such as Sura 3:3, 5:44-47, and 2:76-78. Even the understanding of the earliest Islamic commentators was that these verses were speaking of Jews and Christians being mistaken in their interpretation of the Torah and the Gospel not that these biblical texts had been changed. Until the ninth century, when the Bible was translated into Arabic, Muslims assumed that there were no inconsistencies between the Qur’an and the Gospel. At this time Ibn Khazem articulated and advanced the argument that the Bible had been corrupted because if it had not been then the Qur’an was wrong about the historical facts regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And it cannot be the case the Qur’an is wrong.

Murray writes where this argument leaves the Muslim:

The Muslim belief that the Bible is corrupt (to resolve the Bible’s contradiction of the Qur’an) creates a thorny theological problem. The Qur’an says that God revealed the Taurat, Zabur and Injeel. In other words, the Bible is God’s revealed word, his very self-revelation to humankind. But if the Bible was corrupted, then one of two consequences necessarily follows:  either (1) God was unable to preserve the Bible, or (2) God was unwilling to preserve the Bible. There is no third option.1

The first option is unacceptable to the Muslim because if God cannot preserve his self-revelation then he is not all-powerful. The second option leaves us wondering; if God was unwilling to preserve the Bible how can we trust that he will preserve the Qur’an? This also makes God responsible for millions, if not billions, entering eternal damnation due to shirk; belief in blasphemies such as the Trinity, the incarnation and the cross. In the chapters to come, Murray will contend that these doctrines actually manifest God’s greatness; eliminating the tension the Muslim faces.

Stand firm in Christ,

1. Page 187.

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