June 10, 2013
A Muslim Considers Christianity
Hello Dr. Craig,
I would first like to acknowledge your intellectual and humble manner in defending Christianity. I am Muslim though and I have a few questions for you about Islam that you might answer. I would tremendously appreciate it if you could answer back, I am on the brink of considering Christianity but I want answers:
1) is it true Mohammed took the Gospel of Jesus from the Bible and twisted/perverted it for his own benefits?
2) does Islam have an experiential reality (like modern day miracles, visions from Muhammad) if so what is the best explanation for that?
3) if I became a Christian and asked God sincerely to reveal Jesus to me in a supernatural form, will it happen?
- country not specified
I’m so glad that you’re considering faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior, Alex! I hope my brief answers to follow will be of some help in that process.
1. Is it true Mohammed took the Gospel of Jesus from the Bible and twisted/perverted it for his own benefits? No. It is very unlikely that Mohammed had a first hand acquaintance with the Bible. He probably had only a second-hand awareness of its contents through interactions with Jews and Christians he met. That would explain the evident misunderstandings of Christian doctrines in the Qur’an. For example, Mohammed probably heard Christians confessing that Mary is “the Mother of God.” Now the sense in which they meant those words was to confess that Jesus, whom Mary bore, was not merely man but also God. It was a way of affirming Christ’s deity. But to Mohammed’s ear it sounded as if the Christians were making the blasphemous claim that the Trinity was composed of God the Father, his consort Mary, and their offspring Jesus. Rightly offended by such a view, Mohammed (assuming his authorship of the Qur’an) wrote:
Then God will say: ‘Jesus son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind: worship me and my mother as gods besides God?’
‘Glory be to You,’ he will answer, ‘I could never have claimed what I have no right to’ (The Table 5:114-17).
No one with a first-hand knowledge of the New Testament could have so misinterpreted Christian teaching. Nor should we say that Mohammed deliberately distorted this teaching for his own benefit. That seems needlessly unsympathetic. I suspect that this was a genuine misunderstanding on his part.
2. Does Islam have an experiential reality and, if so, what is the best explanation for that? Certainly some traditions within Islam, such as Sufism, have a strong experiential component. Sufis emphasize mystical experience of God. By contrast, some Muslims think that God is so peerless, so transcendent, so wholly other, that we have no experience of God. Religion is reduced essentially to law keeping. Insofar as Muslims have religious experience of, for example, the greatness of God or His holiness or His sovereign majesty, there is no reason to deny the veridicality of such experiences. But from the Christian point of view these fall short of the experience of God’s saving grace. That is to be found in Christ.
3. If I became a Christian and asked God sincerely to reveal Jesus to me in a supernatural form, will it happen? One hears remarkable stories these days of Muslims who have seen visions or had dreams in which Jesus reveals himself to them. But it would be presumptuous to promise anyone such an experience. That is God’s gift, to give to whom He chooses. It is at His initiative and discretion. We have no claim on such experiences. While such an experience would doubtless be thrilling, I would caution you not to allow a religious experience to become, in effect, an idol which supplants God Himself. We are to love and desire God, not some experience of God. The person who wants an experience of God more than he wants God Himself is guilty of misplaced priorities. You should place your faith in Christ because Christianity is the truth, and if God chooses to reveal Jesus to you in a supernatural form, so much the better!