Christianity and Islam: Reliability of the Bible (Part 1)

I often times enjoy pairing up my study of the Bible with conversations with people from other belief systems; Islam, Hinduism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Satanism, you name it. It’s what I enjoy doing – getting to know those that are different from me through deep conversations that pertain to culture, religion, and language. I also believe that beyond just a general enjoyment of these kinds of conversations, as Christians, it’s important to have a broader understanding of the world around us than just Christianity. Through the many conversations I’ve had with people I’ve been asked questions that allow me to better critically assess what I believe to be truth. I’ve had the opportunity to “walk in their shoes” if only for a little bit and see a different perspective outside of my Christian views. To me this is important because it helps bridge a gap of misunderstanding through dialogue. I’ve learned that many people who claim to know what Christianity’s about and have studied the Bible in-depth have actually missed the whole point of what it’s about. I’m hoping to tackle some of these misunderstandings through articles like this beginning with a deeper study of the viewpoints held by Muslims in contrast to what Christians believe. I hope to next address the differing views on the nature of mankind and sin (or lack thereof), the nature of Jesus as a prophet/divine, and Jesus’ crucifixion (or lack thereof).

Before we continue I want to make it clear that I am in no way an expert on Islam or even Christianity for that matter. I’m just someone that enjoys looking into these topics and does their due diligence to present facts that I believe make an honest case after looking at multiple perspectives. Everything I present here from the Muslim perspective are findings I’ve gained through study as well as discussions with Muslims.

The Bible from a Muslim Perspective

I first want to start off with a quick summary of the view Muslims hold towards the Bible for those who aren’t familiar. My purpose for the article isn’t to extensively define what Islam is but to rather present what the Bible says from a Christian perspective in light of questions raised by Muslims.

For the most part, Muslims believe the Bible to be a part of God’s revelation to mankind composed of the Torah, Psalms, and the Gospel, revealed to Moses, David and Jesus respectively. They regard the Torah and Bible highly to a certain extent. However, they believe that the Bible has been altered to the extent where God’s original message has been lost. This is where a part of the conflict between Christianity and Islam stems from. If you’re interested in knowing more about the views of Muslims and the Bible I would recommend the links below:

If you’re interested to see a Christian insight into those beliefs then take a look at the links below as well. They’ve done a much better job than I can at studying the Qu’ran in light of history and what the Bible says:

Dead Sea Scrolls

A common argument I hear from Muslims is that the Bible has been altered – to the point that the original message has been corrupted and lost. The problem I find with this argument is the timeline in which these texts would have been altered. For example, during my study a question came to me, “If the Bible has been altered to the point that the original message has been lost, then what does that say about Jesus as a prophet?”. In asking this question, I pose it to Muslims and look at Jesus as they see him – a prophet. We know that during Jesus’ ministry, he often quoted from Old Testament scripture. Not only that but the motivation for some of Jesus words and actions was to fulfill old testament prophecies which he then references through his actions or words. Below are a few examples,

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (Psalms 22:1).

  • Matthew 4:10/Luke 4:8 and Deuteronomy 6:13
  • Matthew 4:7/Luke 4:12 and Deuteronomy 6:16
  • Matthew 5:31 and Deuteronomy 24:1
  • Matthew 19:4-6/Mark 10:6-8 and Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:24
  • Matthew 22:37-39/Mark 12:28-34 and Deuteronomy 6:5/Leviticus 19:18
  • John 13:18 and Psalms 41:9
  • John 15:25 and Psalms 69:4
  • John 19:29-30 and Psalm 69:21

Those were only a few examples of Jesus quoting the Old Testament. So if we are to say the Bible has been corrupted, wouldn’t the logical assumption be that depending on the time they were altered, the prophet Jesus may have been quoting altered texts? I think this question is key in order to further tackle the claim against the Bible’s validity from the Muslim perspective. The answer I get for this question is simple, “It doesn’t say anything about Jesus. When Jesus quoted from the Old Testament, at that point in time they weren’t altered. They were only altered after Jesus was taken to heaven”. From this response we can clearly see the timeline here:

  1. Texts are in their original form
  2. Jesus quotes from texts during his ministry
  3. Jesus is taken to heaven
  4. Texts are altered and corrupted after Jesus leaves

The problem with this argument is that it doesn’t hold water in light of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls which I wrote an extensive article about detailing their origins and significance found here which I would highly recommend you read in order to understand where I’m basing my argument off of. To summarize, The Dead Sea Scrolls provides historical, archaeological, and scientific evidence that the Bible has indeed been well preserved through the millennia unlike what has been originally thought. In order to hold on to the claim that the Bible has in fact been altered to the point that the original message has been lost, you would need to make the claim that the Old Testament scriptures have been altered before 3rd century BC showing that the Dead Sea Scrolls is actually a sham discovery disproving multiple sources of research but also showing that Jesus was quoting altered texts which doesn’t sit well with the Muslim viewpoint.

Prophecy

Another reason I believe the Bible to be valid is prophecy. If a book people claim to be divinely inspired or of divine origin has things written in it that are stated will come to fruition in the future and do hundreds or thousands of years later, then I’d think it’s safe to say there’s something to that, but note how I carefully choose my words as other religions also have their own prophecies, so why should you believe what’s written in the Bible? Below are examples of prophecies or events with prophetic significance that adds to the validity of the Bible.

Prophecies concerning cities

In the article Applying the Science of Probability to the Scriptures, David Reagan examines the book Science Speaks written by Peter Stoner. Stoner examines the probability of the prophecy concerning the city Tyre.

prophecy.JPGSource: http://christinprophecy.org/articles/applying-the-science-of-probability-to-the-scriptures/

This specific prophecy concerning Tyre does have its skeptics as to if it was truly fulfilled or not. The 2 resources below go into great depth and detail concerning this prophecy, its historical accuracy and brings up rebuttals to the claim that the prophecy is invalid:

Prophecies concerning Jesus as Messiah

The Old Testament in the Bible is loaded with prophecy concerning Jesus as messiah that are later fulfilled in the New Testament. Jesus himself makes it known that part of why he says what he says is so that what was previously written (in the Old Testament) could be fulfilled, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44). This point is also highlighted in Luke 24:27 and John 5:46. Below are some examples of a prophecies written in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament concerning specific details such as the lineage of the messiah, how he will be betrayed and killed, and even how lots will be cast for his clothes:

“And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom” (1 Chronicles 17:11).

“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of Davidthe son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1)

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli…Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David…Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor…” (Luke 3:23, 31, 34)

Another part of these prophecies most people don’t keep into account is the mathematics behind ALL of the prophecies being fulfilled by one individual. It’s one thing for an individual to fulfill 1 prophecy but for that person to fulfill all of them would be mathematically impossible, “Bible scholars tell us that nearly 300 references to 61 specific prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The odds against one person fulfilling that many prophecies would be beyond all mathematical possibility. It could never happen, no matter how much time was allotted…” (What are the odds?). Knowing this, how can Jesus Christ fulfill all these prophecies but yet the Bible still be altered and corrupted?

What this shows us is that for a prophecy to come to fruition, even against all mathematical odds, that must mean it is of supernatural origin. I would recommend looking at the 300+ references and prophecies Jesus fulfilled , an intro into the probability of these prophecies as well as the time they were written , and a more in depth look at the intricacies of these prophecies and their odds to gain a better understanding of what this really means as I’m only summarizing key points.

In the second part of this study, we’ll take a deeper look at prophecy as well as how current events relates to what’s written in the Bible.

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