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This is the third installment of the hard questions series.

For a Muslim believer, the Qu’ran is the eternal word of God that exists in heaven in the Arabic language. In this form it is the holiest document that they have, it cannot be translated and must remain in Arabic. When the Qu’ran is translated into another language, say English, it must be called “the meaning of the Qur’an.”

There are many stories in the Qu’ran involving biblical characters and prophets, including Noah, Abraham, John the Baptist, and Jesus. The problem for Christians is that many of these stories do not agree with the biblical narrative. For example, in the Bible, Noah speaks very little, he is a man of action, not speech. But in the Qur’an, Noah is a prophet, so he speaks quite a bit more. A further example is details about Jesus’ childhood, not found in the Bible, such as Jesus speaking as a baby in the cradle.

Though the Qu’ran does not lead people to a saving faith in Jesus, we can look for bridges or signs of redemptive revelation that point us to truth found in our own Scriptures. Some have compared the Quran to the crescent moon (an appropriate symbol!). It is dark in the middle, but there is light around the edges. If we believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world around us, and that He is revealing truth, then we will find traces of his presence everywhere, including in other religions. This is a natural bridge for us to work with. By appreciating this aspect of the Qu’ran, and learning about these bridges, we will be better equipped to share gospel truth with our Muslim neighbor. For example, in the Qu’ran Jesus is mentioned far more often than the prophet Muhammad. Jesus is declared to be the one prophet who is without sin. Jesus performed miracles, and he will return on the Day of Judgment as Judge and intercessor. These are all bridges that can be used to lead people to explore the truth of the Bible and the Bible’s revelation of God’s one covenant of grace throughout the Old and New Testaments. By focusing on the rich narrative of the lives of the prophets found in the Bible and the many prophecies of a future Messiah, we can point people to Jesus, the Prophet, Priest and King.


Greg, you said that "If we believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world around us, and that He is revealing truth, then we will find traces of his presence everywhere, including in other religions. This is a natural bridge for us to work with."

Greg, I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world around us but I also believe, as Scripture tells us, that Satan too is at work in the world around us and one of his greatest weapons is mixing in a little truth with a lie that, if believed, brings death; unfortunately this is something that is too frequently forgoten today. Remember that sin came into the human race through one man who believed a lie mixed with just enough truth to make it sound palitable. Yes, there are grains of truth in every religion but these false religious systems bring only death to those who believe their lies about who God is and what he desires from us. There is only a bridge if we are willing to let the truth of God's word truly illuminate these lies but sadly this is far too often what is left out of missions efforts today. We should never decieve people into beleieving that there is enough "truth" in any false religious system to avoid God's wrath. Apart from truly giving your whole heart to God and accepting his free gift of grace paid for by his one and only Son there is no escape from God's wrath.

Thank you for your comments Mike. I agree that the world is fallen and that culture and religion are affected by the fall. So I don't discount this and I don't want to give the impression that I think that followers of other faiths can avoid the punishment that comes from sin. I would rather seize the "grains of truth" and point people to the Gospel. So my desire to respect Muslims, learn from them, and dialogue with them comes with a firm belief that salvation is found in Jesus Christ and only through Jesus, the one Mediator between God and human kind. So in my desire to find "truth" in other faith systems, I ultimately want to help people find Jesus. This can lead to some tensions as we dialogue with other faiths (how can we dialogue when we are trying to convert?). I think that we have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and as we follow the Missio Dei and then reach out honestly and with humility to people of other faiths.

Greetings Greg: As much as your passion to reach Muslims for Christ is evident, I wonder if you are proposing something with a more shaky foundation than meets the eye? Sure, to learn the semantic similarities of a religion is incumbent on anyone who wants to talk intelligently to their neighbours . Learning background meanings in the context of the whole of a religion is also vital. 

     Thus it would appear that you have proposed to construct a bridge from the Qur'an to the Bible and by extension to Jesus. This of course assumes that they are somehow of the same genus and species. Your note would also seem to suggest that  the Holy Spirit was somehow guiding the author of the Qur'an. Is everything what it seems?

First, it would seem that we need to examine the Holy Spirit inspired Bible, regarding the state of the unregenerate heart.

     We see God's radical "no" to the past which he describes as being 'futile' (Acts 14:15; I Peter 1:18) [mátaios]= fruitless, aimless, chasing after the wind, running after one's shadow. In the unregenerate state humans are described as 'dead', 'following the course of the world and the prince of the power of the air' (Eph 2:1;2). Picture a group of lemmings all being herded by an evil tyrant, brain-dead in their mindless their race to destruction. It gets worse: they are described as having 'disobedience' as their father and as such, wrath as their destination (Eph 2:2;3). They live in the overly strong desires [=passions]  of both their flesh and their 'former ignorance.' (Eph 2:3; 4:18; I Pet 1:14). This ignorance is a dark hole, a light sucking entity.

Before we get to God's  radical "yes" in Christ, which thunders through this slough of despond with blazing light, the critical question remains:

     Can a text which self identifies as having eclipsed the revelation of God in Christ in the Scriptures, as one which identifies Muhammad as having eclipsed Jesus Christ and which reduces Christ to some kind of John the Baptist figure for Muhammad, as well as declaring the Muslim ummah as the "best of all people" thus eclipsing the Church of Christ, and which categorically denies the need for a Saviour due to the denial of all of the above picture of humanity, somehow have a source as you say in the Holy Spirit?  



Thank you Salaam for your comments. As I replied also to Mike, I do not wish to discount our "unregenerate hearts." Romans 1 would back you up for sure. Your last paragraph is true, in Islam Muhammad has eclipsed Jesus and the Umma has replaced the Church. Muslims do not think of "salvation' in the same way that Christians, because they lack a true picture of the fall and the depths of our depravity. These are all points well taken and I hope that we do not minimize these serious differences in our approach.

I think my attempts to build a bridge relate more to seeing the Quran and the Bible as sacred texts for two different populations, the former being influenced by the latter (my view, it would not be held by Islamic theologians). So in respecting their text and their beliefs I seek to find points of connection. This in no way legitimizes the Quran theologically or attempts to put them on the same level. I simply want to learn from my Muslim friend how he understands the Quran and compare it to the Bible, hopefully shedding light on God's path of salvation through out history. I would hope that my Muslim friend would be interested in reading the Bible as instructed in the Quran.  In the process I am aware of the dangers of comparing terms and beliefs and infusing them with my understandings. Hopefully dialogue will help with truly understanding the other - a mixture of appreciating the other's beliefs but also challenging them where they are different.

Ignoring the "slough of despond" would indeed be wrong but I do not think it is the best place to start with our Muslim friends (it may have more traction with agnostics/atheists).

Greg, I am curious what your answer is to the question posed in the title of your post.  Is the Qu'ran the divine word of God?

My answer is no.  The Bible is clear that nothing shall be added to or taken away from it.  Yes, I understand there is debate about which original manuscripts should be part of the official canon.  But that aside, other writings are not the Word of God, no matter what truth they contain.  We face the same issue with the Book of Mormon and papal edicts (which Catholics are supposed to honor as holy truth).

Being able to have a fruitful dialogue with Muslims and other non-Christians is essential, and learning what is in their writings and teachings is an important part of that.  Ultimately, though, everyone will need to come to face the Truth: Jesus is the Son of God, and only through faith in him will anyone be saved.  The Qu'ran will not lead anyone to that Truth (as you stated); the divine Word of God will.

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