Friday, December 19, 2008

A Book Review of "The Bible and The Qur'an" by Steven Masood

The greatest damage ever done to the church of Jesus was not delivered by Muslim, Hindus, or Atheists. The sabotage of the church came out of the 19th century liberal seminaries in Europe and America with Germany leading the way. Their attack was made against the authority, inerrancy, and divine inspiration of the Biblical text. If the Bible is not the living Word of God, why should we bother with it at all? The Bible was reduced to a compilation of stories, spiritual platitudes, and outright forgeries according to the liberal establishment.

The Bible has withstood attacks of scholarship, archaeology, historicity and linguistics, but what it can not withstand is a scholar’s false personal assumptions; assumptions that reject the text before the investigation begins. The assumptions flow not from evidence, but from a desire to fit in with the elite professors and scientists in universities around the world.

A few assumptions of higher (historical) and lower (linguistic) critics flowing out of most liberal leaning seminary professors in Germany and other nations were as followed:

• The Bible is not the Word of God; it only contains the Word of God
• There was no special creation; God used Evolution
• The Old Testament record is nothing more than spiritual fiction to teach moral lessons
• Jesus was not the Messiah; miracles are a product of writers’ imagination
• We do not need a Messiah; man is actually good
• Jesus was a great teacher, but nothing more; not perfect by any means
• Jesus never performed miracles; the disciples were mesmerized by the teacher
• Sin is not really an issue; God will forget sin, if sin can really be quantified
• Miracle stories were added into the text by later writers

In short, their core beliefs reject all that Christianity has always stood for, yet they were the pastors and seminary teachers of the day. This philosophy has left many denominational churches dead and empty.

This produced dark days for many denominations and individual churches; some who have never recovered to this day. These assumptions create the following attitudes:

• All religions are the same
• Why worship?
• Why give?
• It doesn’t matter
• If there is a God all will go to heaven
• All worship is the same. Just be sincere.

In fact, if the Biblical text can not stand, then with integrity one should walk away from Christianity. If it stands then one must surrender one’s life to Jesus and His Word! The frightening fact is that many claim Jesus, yet deny the very stories that proclaim His Lordship. Historic Christianity lives or dies on the basis of the Biblical text, not the philosophies of the pastors, teachers, and denominations. Why do professors pretend to know more than God Himself?

In the book Mr. Masood seems to walk the fence with the manuscripts. While much of the Qur’an is a copy of the Old Testament which Muhammed would have had at his disposal, the real issues are the integrity of the historical textual evidence of transformed lives, the truth of prophecies, and the power of conversion without the threat of death. Perhaps the starting ground should be the following question: Is Jesus who He claims to be?

• The Messiah
• Savior of the World
• God in human flesh
• The favored Word of God

Why is it that countries, such as Saudi Arabia, ban Bibles, churches, pastors, and even Christians, if possible? Could it be that the Koran cannot stand against Bible in a fair fight? If Jesus is not who the Bible says He is then anything goes, but if He is who He claims He is, then Islam is a false religion. In fact, it becomes quite dangerous for both Jesus and Christians alike. While both the Biblical text and the Qur’an claim divine authorship, they both simply can not be so. Here are a few contrasting thoughts:

Bible Koran
God is Love God is angry
Love and Pray for enemies Kill enemies
Salvation by Grace Salvation by works
Salvation is available to all Salvation only by martyrdom

The author states that the Qur’an is the complete book of guidance from Allah, it is with us today, without change, with nothing added or taken away. It is the last book of guidance for mankind from Allah. In Hebrews 1 we were told that God’s final word to man was sent in His son Jesus. Islam only spreads through violence, threat, and hatred where truth is not allowed a fair hearing. In John 1:1 the gospel writer proclaims that Jesus is the “logos”-the Word of God! The same types of historical and textual criticism must be applied to both books.

Perhaps one of the greatest testimonies to the Biblical text is the scrolls found at Qumran in the Judean desert. While the Qur’an was going through many manifestations, we find that the Old Testament text has not changed in the last 2000 years. The Isaiah scroll in the “Shrine of the Book” in Jerusalem reads exactly as the Hebrew text does today. The Isaiah scroll is a real concern to liberal theologians who believe Isaiah didn’t write the book bearing his name. Yet when forced to face real evidence a silence falls over the scholarship. They turn up in another place to criticize the Biblical narrative, but never to admit their errors.

Satan has always been into imitation and forgery. In Genesis 3 he gave Eve just enough truth to lead her to destruction. Therefore we find in Islam part of that strategy. We find:

• A false book
• A false messiah
• False miracles

Yet the life of Jesus, in comparison to the life of Muhammad, speaks the loudest. One could discuss their ethics, treatment of people, or the teachings, but the real issue is that Muhammad is dead and Jesus is alive. Even Muslims believe that Jesus is going to return. Despite the insanity of our times both cannot be true! There is an answer to every math equation. Two plus two will always be four, regardless of ones educational background, political leaning, race, or nationality. Islam and Christianity cannot both be true.

“Muslim writers contend that the original Pentateuch and the original Gospel have disappeared and became extinct from the world. This claim is expanded by asserting, ‘We strictly deny that the original Torah (Pentateuch) and the original Evangel existed at the time of the Prophet Muhammad and that they were not changed until later.’ Such people say further, ‘The present gospels, chronicles and epistles are certainly not the Evangel referred to by the Holy Qur’an and so they are not, as such, acceptable to the Muslims’”

One can at least work with that statement. One book is of God while the other is a fake. They can not both be the Word of God. There is far too much effort made to try and splice the two books together. The text, nor peoples lives, allow for this conclusion.

Perhaps one of the best outward proofs of the validation of the Biblical text is the Muslims own thoughts. Muslims claim that the Bible cannot be true because it reveals its Godly men as sinners - men such as Abraham, Moses and David. This, however, only reveals our need for a savior, the only one that is shown to be sinless and perfect. The Moslems want to downgrade Jesus to the status of one of the prophets of history.

The truth is that we know that Muhammad had many sexual sins as well as a history of murdering those who disagreed with him. The Bible is honest and states that all are sinners. That is why we have a perfect sacrifice for our sin. There is only one who is pure and sinless and He is God in the flesh. Jesus is the sinless one. Paul states it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Mr. Masood does an excellent job of laying out the specific arguments between the two books. He provides clear understanding of the challenging texts without caving into typical statements, such as “The Bible is full of contradictions”.

His explanation of the medieval forgery called the “Gospel of Barnabas” unfortunately is like Adolph Hitler’s famous quote, “If you say something loud enough and often enough the people will believe it.” It is also of note that Islam is most successful in the third world where poverty, illiteracy, and fear rule these nations of the world.

Yet one has to wonder if without the wholesale slaughter of Christians throughout the Middle East and North Africa, whether Islam would have ever been anything more that a small desert religion. Major oil money has also bought off millions who are not religious at all, but will be whatever they need to be to receive food and jobs. Many follow Islam simply to avoid persecution or even death.

I have concluded that to fulfill Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for the unity of the body of Christ for the purpose of winning the world to Jesus there are essential commitments that are to be made. I can partner with you if you believe:

• Jesus is the Virgin born Son of God in the Flesh, Savior of Mankind who is returning for His Redeemed Church.
• The Bible is the God inspired, inerrant words of the living God. These words are give to Christians and the church for truth and motivation.

This book was informative and gave testimony to the Bible, but also tried throughout to give equal footing to the Qur’an. Perhaps his purpose was to get Muslims to think through some of the verses, but for this writer it is far too close to synarchism, where all religions sort of blend together. That utopia of thought will produce a cursed “one world religion.” It was a challenging read with great research devoted to the project.

In conclusion, Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This statement is either all true or all false. If there is an Almighty He is certainly capable of having His Word written in a way that can survive translation and the foolishness of mankind and have it passed down through the ages to all generations!