Let’s Read About the Qur’an Together!

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I’m stealing Tim Challies’ Reading Classics Together idea. However, we won’t be reading a classic Christian book. We will be reading What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James R. White.

As Islam grows in the United States and worldwide, it is important for Christians to have an understanding of what the Qur’an teaches in order to engage our Muslim neighbors. White’s book will help Christians better understand Islam including what Muslims believe about Christian doctrines.

Here’s the plan:

  • Get a copy of the book.
  • Read the introduction for next week.
  • Discuss the introduction here on Friday, June 14th.
  • Anyone is welcome to join the discussion.
  • Plan for about 14 weeks each Friday.
  • Invite your friends.

If you come to the discussion late, feel free to jump in at anytime. Fourteen weeks may seem like a long time, but at that rate we will only have to digest about 14 pages each week.

Be sure the check out White’s interview with Thabiti Anyabwile. Anyabwile calls White’s book “a game-changer for Muslim-Christian dialogues about the Qur’an, the Bible, and our claims to truth.”

1.       You write, “I believe the best, weightiest, most useful refutation is the establishment of the truth of the gospel” (p. 9). Some apologists appear to think all the other arguments are the “best refutation” of Islam. Why and how does the gospel best establish the truth and refute error?

Islam came after the Gospel (despite Islamic belief otherwise), and includes as part of its teachings the rejection of the heart of the Gospel itself (the Person of Christ, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and hence the exclusivity of Jesus the Messiah as the sole means of peace with God).  Hence, Islamic apologetics is first and foremost a “gospel” activity, and the goal of the Christian must always be to make sure the Gospel in all its glory and power and grace is made known to the Muslim who has almost never heard it with clarity.  Further, given the position of Islam as the “last” revelation, surely the argument is properly made that the Qur’an’s understanding of the faiths it seeks to correct or refute must be accurate, as God is said to be the author of the Qur’an.  But when we demonstrate error on the part of the Qur’an in reference to the Trinity, the deity of Christ, or the gospel, we are helping the Muslim to examine the claims of the Qur’an in an objective manner.

2.       Must Christians be experts in the Qur’an in order to engage their Muslim neighbors and friends about the faith?

If a believer were to be ministering in an Islamic country, or even in places such as Dearborn, Michigan, a knowledge of the Qur’an at a certain level would be necessary to be effective in the long run, to be sure.  The more we know about the presuppositions of those with whom we speak, about their worldview and language, the more effective communicators we will be.  One surely does not have to be an “expert” on the Qur’an to engage their Muslim neighbors, but just as having read the Book of Mormon is a great advantage in witness to a Mormon, being able to show the Muslim that you have respected them enough to gather some knowledge of the Qur’an is a tremendous advantage.  One of the great problems that exists between our communities is the fact that most Christians know very little about Islam and the Qur’an, and most Muslims know very little about Christianity and the Bible.  Both go on what they have “heard,” and that body of hear-say is normally far from accurate, and can be a great hindrance in any meaningful dialogue.

3.       Muslims believe the Qur’an is uncreated and eternal. What does that mean and why is it problematic for the Muslim?

Sunni Islam developed, over time, the concept of the eternality of the Qur’an (though it was a development that had opposition, and is not a part of Shiism).  They affirm that the Qur’an is uncreated and eternal.  There are many theological and philosophical problems with such a view, but the primary one about which Christians should know is this: if the Qur’an is eternal, and the very words of Allah, then the Muslim sees no reason to consider the development of thought in Muhammad’s life.  Hence, asking questions about the consistency of the Qur’an, whether it accurately represents others, etc., is not a part of the interpretive process for the average Muslim.  While looking at the context of, say, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians is a vital and illuminating element of biblical exegesis, such aspects are almost irrelevant to Qur’anic exegesis, at least amongst Muslims.  As a result, the interpretation of the Qur’an is primarily “stagnant,” limited to the conclusions reached by examination of the hadith literature centuries ago.  Likewise, the accuracy of the Qur’an’s statements about the Trinity are simply taken as a given by the average Muslim, which introduces all sorts of problems and complications to the witnessing situation.

Read all 10 of the questions and answers….

What do you say? Want to read about the Qur’an together?

Here I blog…

Mark

P.S. I hope to have a giveaway copy of this book soon.

P.P.S. In case you’re curious, below are the endorsements for the book.1

“The Christian engagement with Islam will be a defining issue for the twenty-first century. Sadly, most Christians do not even know where to begin in terms of understanding Islam. It is absolutely essential that Christians understand that Islam and Christianity represent two contradictory sets of truth claims. James White understands this, and in this important new book he sets out the issues of truth with distinction and clarity. Christians will welcome this book as they seek to understand the challenge of Islam.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr. President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This book is magnificent! I believe this is the most thorough and comprehensive book written by an evangelical scholar on the Qur’an. I will surely use it and recommend it in all my teachings! I pray that every Chistian serious about engaging with Muslims would read this work thoroughly. Thank you for your labor of love and scholarship.” Abdul Saleeb Coauthor, Answering Islam and The Dark Side of Islam

“Dr. James White has written an immensely informative, carefully documented overview of Islam and the Qur’an—rich with fascinating historical, biblical, and theological analysis. In this era of rising Islamic influence and declining tolerance for Christianity, evangelicals must have more than a rudimentary understanding of Islam and its history. If we’re going to meet the Islamic challenge to our faith, we need to be informed, intelligent, and prepared to answer our Islamic neighbors in a forthright, clear, and thoroughly biblical way—yet with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). This book is an excellent model to show how that’s done.”
John MacArthurPastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; author, MacArthur Study Bible

“James White has given the thoughtful Christian a game-changer for Muslim-Christian dialogues about the Qur’an, the Bible, and our claims to truth. For too long, Christians have remained largely ignorant and even reluctant toward one of the world’s largest faiths. We no longer have reason for either ignorance or reluctance thanks to White. I know of no other introduction to the Qur’an and Islam that is as technically competent and easy to read as James White’s What Every Christian Should Know About the Qur’an. This book is my new go-to source and recommendation for anyone wanting a thorough introduction to the thought world of the Qur’an and the Muslims who revere it. For irenic, honest, charitable, and careful discussion of the Qur’an, this is the best resource I know.” Thabiti Anyabwile Pastor, First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman; author, The Gospel for Muslims

“If you are like me, your knowledge of Islam is probably limited almost exclusively to what you see on the news. Yet many of us have Muslim neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Effective witness to such people requires that we know more about their religion than the television newscasters care to tell us. In this book, James White has done the church a great service by explaining to non-specialists exactly what this most significant religion really believes. A well-written and highly informative volume.”
Carl R Trueman Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary

“Here, finally, is a book that so many Christians have been waiting for: a clear, thorough, and compelling examination of the Qur’an. If Christians are going to engage the Muslim world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then they need the necessary tools to accomplish that task. And this book is one of them. I highly recommend it.” Michael J. Kruger President and Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

“I am thrilled to see the publication of this much-needed book on a critically important subject, and my friend and colleague Dr. James White is uniquely equipped to write it. He has studied Islam carefully for many years and has engaged in countless dialogues and debates with Muslim leaders. He writes with compassion, respect, and careful scholarship.”
Michael L. Brown, PhD President, FIRE School of Ministry, Concord, North Carolina

  1. White, James R. (2013-05-01). What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 31-64). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
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The above article was posted on June 7, 2013 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Poolman June 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

So, in this study of the Qur’an, will the Qur’an, actually be read, or will there just be books read about it! I would have to say that unless the qur’an is being read, it is not really a study of the qur’an. All you are doing is reading some guys book filled with his personal feelings and that is not really a “study”. The same thing is done by many “so called Christians”, and the Book of Mormon! They read books with some persons feelings about it without reading the Book of Mormon for themselves! That is why so many false truths are put out to the public about the Mormons!

2 Mark Lamprecht June 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

Poolman Did you read my post?

3 sma9231961 June 8, 2013 at 11:38 am

I read the Book of Mormon.

It is antithetical to Christian faith. It is a self-ascendancy book for people who want to be their own little gods.

4 titani June 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

The Quran is Here, in Modern English http://www.ClearQuran.com

5 Poolman June 9, 2013 at 12:13 am

What do you think of “the Clementine Recognitions”?

6 Poolman June 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm

sma, can you give me an passage from the Book of Mormon that you feel is antithetical to Christian faith?

7 Mark Lamprecht June 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Poolmansma9231961OK, this thread is not going to become a place to debate Mormonism. Christian beliefs and Mormon beliefs have historically been opposed to one another. Even Joseph Smith rejected the beliefs of Christianity via our creeds, etc. There is a brief chart showing disagreements that I posted when Romney was running for president – http://hereiblog.com/4-minutes-mormonism-abc-christianity-comparison-chart/

8 Bennett Willis June 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I kept looking for an endorsement by the Caner brothers.

9 Byron June 13, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Greetings. Don’t take this wrong as I appreciate men like James White, but the comment under point #2 above, “being able to show the Muslim that you have respected them enough to
gather some knowledge of the Qur’an is a tremendous advantage.” is one of those that get my contextualizer senses tingling!  The Gospel doesn’t change whether I know the Quran or not. The respect of Muslims should not be a prerequisite to presenting the Gospel to them.  The Gospel is supposed to be offensive to a dying world, so why should we understand Muslims better before we evangelize.  Lets say I have a Wiccan friend.  Should I gain a better understanding of witchcraft and gain his/her respect in that manner before pulling out the Gospel?  Sorry if I sound “intolerant”, but I’m concerned because I’ve seen many YRR friends go down this social gospel/contextualization path, and comments like that are their bread-and-butter.

10 Mark Lamprecht June 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

@ByronIt depends on what type of engagement, venue, etc. I would never accuse James White of going down the “social gospel/contextualization path.” Contextualization is not necessarily bad thing as different people define it differently. You just quoted White stating that having knowledge of the Qur’an is a “tremendous advantage,” yet you object that “The Gospel doesn’t change whether I know the Quran or not. The respect
of Muslims should not be a prerequisite to presenting the Gospel to
them.”
You’re objection has nothing to do with what White said. You are insinuating much more than he plainly wrote. There could come a time when engaging a Muslim who asks if you’ve read the Qur’an. If you say “no” he may just walk away and take away your opportunity to share the gospel with him. Muslims believe Christians corrupted the gospel and Allah gave the Qur’an so we may be challenged on our familiarity with their book.

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