Reading the Quran: A good idea or a bad idea?

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A recent article in Christianity Today gave three different perspectives on the question of whether Christians should be advised to read the Quran. The first author gave a categorical “no.” The second author gave a qualified “yes” – if it helps us in our witness to Muslims. The third author also gave us a qualified “yes,” if it emphasizes the differences.

To read the article see: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/november/should-christians-read...

This is certainly an important question as 1.6 billion people in the world today follow to varying degrees the teachings of the Quran (along with the Hadith). I have read the Quran twice now and can tell you it is not an easy read. But should we read the Quran? I say yes.

I would agree with the last two authors who wrote that reading the Quran helps us in our witness as well as understanding the differences between the Quran and the Bible. But I would go further and say that reading the Quran can actually help us to grow in our Christian faith. The Quran, as a post-Christian document, forces us to think our theology through clearly. For example, what does it mean to believe that God is One, yet exists in three persons?  Understanding the Islamic idea of monotheism helps me to better understand a Trinitarian idea of monotheism.

In Islam, God (Allah) has many of the same qualities and characteristics that we attribute to the God of the Bible. He is merciful and compassionate. However, before Allah created angels, or Adam and Eve, he had no one with whom he could express his mercy, and compassion. He existed alone, with no outlet for his attributes. The beauty and mystery of the Trinity is that God has always had an opportunity to express his attributes within Himself. Even before He created any other creatures, God’s attributes of mercy and compassion were expressed in the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father. The Trinity means that God has always had an outlet for his attributes and always will.

Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Could not that apply to an inter-faith setting as well?

What are your views on this topic?

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Yes. To read the  Qur'an will leave no doubt that regardless of what may sound good on the surface, Christ's divinity is bluntly rejected as blasphemy and Christians are branded infidels. Anyone reading the Qur'an should do so with one's eyes wide open, in the same way we look over  Jehovah Witnesses' religious literature and as we should,  Roman Catholic publications that take the focus off Christ's finished work through Calvary's cross, including publications such as The Glories of Mary.  

Thank you Greg and Joe for your respective comments.

      A few observations. It would seem that you are making some kind of emotional appeal for the loneliness of Allah of Islam for his state of mind as an entre for Christian Theology. Would it not have been better to have asserted that Allah of Islam, is largely a deity created in the mind of Muhammad, and in effect is simply his super-ego, who stands in sharp contrast to the Trinity of the Bible? This is well documented by those who have studied the parallels of the Islam original life [Sira] of Muhammad, and the nature of Allah in Islam.      I fear that inadvertently you are acting as an apologist for Islam, here.                  Secondly, you assert that the Qur'an is a post-Christian document. This can be interpreted variously. Joe observed that there is a polemical anti-Christian edge to the Qur'an. This is accurate. Truth be told, Mark Durie, Arabic specialist, scholar of Islam clearly asserted at a lecture at Calvin College, that the Qur'an is a compilation of sources from Rabbinic Judaism with all of its tortured treatment of the Old Testament, as well as largely apocryphal Christian accounts along with Nestorian and other aberrational Christian doctrines. Thus to say that it is post-Christian, begs the question of "what kind of post-Christian?" 

Shalom

                                                                                                                                                                                

 

                                                                                                                                                                  

 

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Thanks for the comments - it is good to see this Muslim ministry forum in use. I hope it will foster more good discussions. I appreciate the cautions and understand clearly the anti-Christian polemical nature of the Quran. Salvation is not found there. However I do find that my own understanding of Christian theology has been enhanced through reading the Quran. So to respond to Salaam, I am not thinking of it as a entre but rather appreciating the beauty of our theology (specifically the Trinity). This could be used in an apologetic way as well. To illustrate in another way, if the eternal word of Allah is the Quran, and the Quran exists eternally, than is Allah truly one - or is he two? In Christianity the eternal word of God - Jesus - exists eternally and because we have a trinitarian understanding of God, we can accept this fact. So I have a better appreciation of my own faith in the end.

Thank you for the clarification, Greg:

   I am reading a very interesting thesis about how the Gospel of Mark was very much an anti-imperial [=Rome] document. The author shows, however that Mark did not only "tear down" Roman imperial constructs, he actually proposed others in their place. His bottom line is that Rome had hijacked terms like 'savior', 'son of god', 'lord', 'the good news' 'the way' and so forth, and now it was up to the Gospel writers to show where the hijacking had taken place, and rightfully assigning those to  the actual and real Saviour, Son of God, Lord, with the Good News who is The Way. This was nothing less than subversive to the empire.

  In a fashion, anyone reading the Qur'an must realize that many concepts have been hijacked from Christianity and not just to take them at face value. Terms like prayer, sacrifice, worship, the messiah, faith, revelation are all found in the Qur'an, but they have been emptied of their origin Christian meanings and infused with Islamic ones. Just because there are parallel words, has nothing to do with parallel meanings. For instance, to see the word Messiah in the Qur'an does not say anything about the Biblical concept of Messiah. The Biblical definition will and must rule the day, and will determine if the Qur'anic definition contains any truth at all.  Parallel to what the Gospel writers did, we must identify this hijacking process for what it is--and that takes dedicated study--e.g. to understand just what is meant by the Qur'anic messiah---and recapture these concepts back to their rightful possessor, namely Jesus who is Lord of all and who unlike the Qur'anic messiah is truly The Prophet, The Priest, and The King.  [oops, I think a sermon just started]

Glad to see that your theology is being sharpened, and pray it will continue to be.

Shalom.

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