First Discussion: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an

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I recently invited everyone to a read along in Let’s Read About the Qur’an Together! The plan is to read What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James R. White together. This post is the first installment covering the “Introduction: Why Study the Qur’an?”

Under the subtitle of the chapter White quotes Imam Malik stating that whoever does believes the Qur’an is created and not from Allah and refuses to repent should have his head cut off. Quite a quote to begin with, but it does illustrate the high standing of the Qur’an within certain areas of Islam.

White begins the chapter answering questions such as why a Christian would write a book about the Qur’an. And, “Shouldn’t we go to the Muslims to learn about their own sacred book?” He begins answering the questions explaining that the best way to learn about another religion is to read original sources from that religion as well as listen to its leaders.

White reasons that he is not arguing against reading his book since it is not an original source. Rather, since the amount of literature on the Qur’an is so large, most will not attempt to dig in to the original sources. So White, like most Christian apologists, has done much work  utilizing Islamic sources to help fellow Christians. He cites many sources so those Berean readers may follow-up on his work.

White gives the following three admirable goals for his work in studying the Qur’an.

(1) To honor Jesus, my Lord, my Savior, my King, through the defense of His gospel

(2) To bless the people of God by providing sound biblical and historical responses to Islamic claims in general and of the Qur’an in particular

(3) To be used of God to bring the glorious message of salvation in Jesus Christ to the precious Muslim people who honor the Qur’an1

Of course, White admits he is not writing to provide everything one needs to know about the Qur’an. He is writing for what Christians “need to understand about the Qur’an’s teachings particularly as it impacts our interactions with Muslims….” He is also writing from a purely Christian – Jesus is the only way – perspective. It seems a bit odd that he would explicitly give his perspective, but I am glad he clearly stated his position in this age of anything-goes-Christianity.

While White tackles the theological realm of Islam from their understanding of Allah’s oneness to salvation to Jesus, he is also not attempting to write a refutation of the Qur’an. Rather, he focuses on the core teachings and main areas of conflict between Christianity and Islam.

Two chapters I am looking forward to are 10 and 11 which compares the history and transmission of the Qur’an and the New Testament. White will probably get a lot of push back from any Muslims who engage those chapters. One thing, from my experience, that Muslims to not like to discuss is any type of textual criticism that challenges the Qur’an.

White thanks his Muslims readers and explains to them that he is writing primarily to fellow Christians. He explains his approach to those Muslim readers asking for mercy in areas in which he may “mistakenly fail to make proper distinction when addressing a particular belief.” Interestingly, White welcomes disagreement as a way to move forward in the Muslim-Christian theological discussions rather than the popular approach to “whitewash or minimize significant disagreements.”

I am very encouraged from just reading the introduction. I appreciate the approach which humbly seeks truth. White’s scholarship should certainly help Christians better understand and engage their Muslim neighbors. I love one of the closing paragraphs which states:

So why read an entire book about the Qur’an’s key teachings as they relate to the Christian faith? For followers of Jesus, the answer is simple: We desire to honor and glorify the One who has given us life, redemption, forgiveness, and peace. Redeemed people want to tell others about the Redeemer. We share this planet with more than a billion Muslims, and we should want to introduce them to our Lord.2

What are your thoughts?

Here I blog…
Mark

P.S. Next Friday the plan is to read through the first half of chapter one, due to its length, through the section titled “Military Conflicts.”

  1. White, James R. (2013-05-01). What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 126-129). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. Ibid., (Kindle Locations 196-198).
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The above article was posted on June 14, 2013 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 doughibbard June 14, 2013 at 7:35 pm

My thoughts?
I’m still waiting on my copy to come in. So my thoughts are that I’m looking forward to tracking your discussions until I can read it myself.

2 Mark Lamprecht June 14, 2013 at 10:15 pm

doughibbard I hope you will contribute some thoughts once you get your book.

3 Matt Privett June 14, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Mark,
I concur with your thoughts on the Introduction. That quote from Imam Malik is jarring and goes to show the lengths to which Muslims go to try to put themselves beyond scrutiny. If you can’t do a critical examination of their text then your criticism of their interpretation of that text will, in their eyes, become a cause for death. Understanding that not all Muslims see things quite that way, it still makes Muslim apologists difficult. I’m thankful for James White’s willingness and his work to put forth what appears to be a book that should help Christians engage Muslims evangelistically. I only hope many Christians will care enough to engage it thoughtfully.
When about 1/6 of the world, or more, believes something, we ought to do what we can to know what they believe, so that by means of the gospel every thought can be taken captive to the obedience of Christ. If we really want to be “missional” (since that’s the buzz word in evangelicalism) we must get serious about Islam, and not simply see it through our 9/11 lenses of an evil for America to quash. 
I look forward to reading more and to engaging the book here on the blog.

4 Mark Lamprecht June 14, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Matt Privett Thanks for the great comment, Matt. I agree.

5 Ken Temple June 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Hi Mark,
Excellent beginning and also appreciate Dr. White’s goals and desires to witness to the truth of the gospel (Injeel = انجیل )  of Jesus Al Masih  عیسی المسیح  and what is really great about Dr. White is that he uses orthodox believing Muslim sources (endnote # 1, the quote from Imam Malik ( the earliest extant compiler of Hadith and Islamic Jurisprudence = “Malik’s Muwatta”, from Yasir Qadhi’s book.  Yasir Qadhi is a believing orthodox Sunni.  If only Muslims would show that same consistency in dealing with Christianity, and stop using liberal scholars for the basis of their attacks!   Most Muslims rely on liberal scholarship to try and say the gospels were written in 70 AD or afterward (Shabir Ally, Paul Bilal Williams, and most others that I have seen follow this line.  They are forced to this because they have to believe the true gospel message was corrupted between 30 – 45 AD, before any of the NT books were written.  Dr. White’s endnote # 3 – he lists the Muslims he has debated with and they are believers, whereas Muslims usually quote from liberal higher critical scholars in order to attack the Bible.  Also, Dr. White shows respect by using a Qur’an that was translated by Muslims – see endnote # 5.  
I think you have a typo here:
“Under the subtitle of the chapter White quotes Imam Malik stating that whoever <b>does</b> believes the Qur’an is created and not from Allah and refuses to repent should have his head cut off. Quite a quote to begin with, but it does illustrate the high standing of the Qur’an within certain areas of Islam.”
It would be smoother if you take out the word “does”.  (smile)
Using that quote of Imam Malik’s about the “kalaam” (کلام  or   کلم word, speech) of Allah – 
One of the most powerful witnesses that Christians can make is that Arabic word kalaam کلام  (word, speech) or kalameh کلمه (word, singular word – the word used for Jesus in the Qur’an in 4:171- but the verse denies the Deity of Christ, that Jesus is the Son God and it denies the Trinity ) and the orthodox Sunni belief that the Qur’an is Allah’s word and that word is eternal.   John 1:1-5 and 14 clearly speak to the eternality of the word being both with God and God Himself, and that word became flesh.  
Christians should study Dr. White’s book and go talk to Muslims and accept their hospitality to drink coffee and tea together and eat shish kebab, etc. and find out their heart language – whether it is Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Kurdish, Urdu, Indonesian, Fulani, Punjabi or Malaysian – and get a New Testament in their language and give it to them and discuss John chapter 1 with them and the meaning of the eternality of the word (kalaam/Kalemeh کلام or   کلمه 
Christians should realize that most Muslims are very hospitable and relational and men can easily talk to Muslim men, and women can talk to Muslim women; and Muslims usually respond very nicely to a kind smile and greetings and a respectful attitude.  Western Women who are Christians should not try to witness to Muslim men as a general rule.  And Christian men should get their wife or other Christian women in their church to reach out to the Muslim women.  Muslims are very family and community and group oriented; they are not as individualistic as westerners.  Once you meet one Muslim, and they let you into their life, you are sure to meet many other Muslims and your witnessing opportunities increase. 
Ask your Muslims friends – “Did God have His word within Himself from all eternity?”  “Was God ever without His word and His own thoughts?”  Get the discussion going, and use John chapter 1 and show it to them.

6 doughibbard June 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

If it ever shows up–supposed to be getting one for review. I’ll probably link over here to your discussion at the end of the review.

7 doughibbard June 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

If it ever shows up–supposed to be getting one for review. I’ll probably link over here to your discussion at the end of the review.

8 AndrewLindsey June 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Excellent summary and excellent discussion in the comment thread!

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