When Christians try to share the Gospel with Muslims, they often encounter some resistance because Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet of God, just like Abraham, Moses, Jonah, etc. “Christ, the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him.” (Surah 5:75) Then, when Christians try to show that Jesus claimed to be more than a prophet and did actions in accordance with those claims, Muslims will say that the New Testament has been corrupted and is not reliable. The Christian will then respond with a classical, apologetic defense of the reliability of the NT documents. It kind of goes something like this:
Muslim: Why is Christianity better than Islam?
Christian: Because Jesus claimed to be more than just a prophet. In fact, He claimed to be God!
Muslim: Where? Where did Jesus say, “I am God, worship me?”
Christian: Well he didn’t say those words, exactly. But he claimed to be the Son of God and the “I AM” of the Old Testament. He also accepted worship from various individuals and claimed to have the power to forgive sins. *proceeds to pull up NT passages that affirm Jesus’ Divinity*
Muslim: But your New Testament is corrupted. Those words were not really said by Jesus but were added later. The original message of Jesus was corrupted.
Christian: But if we take a look at textual criticism…yada yada yada…when compared to other books of antiquity, we have thousands more manuscripts for the NT…yada yada yada…the Gospels were written within a couple of generations after Jesus and most of the eyewitnesses were still alive…yada yada yada…the pre-Pauline creeds and hymns show that the early church believed in the divinity of Jesus…yada yada yada…
Now, it isn’t wrong to take this approach but I contend that there is a better way that produces greater results! Muslims believe in the Quran as the word of God. If we can use the Quran to provide a basis for establishing the reliability of the NT, then we would be on pretty, solid ground. How does this work? The Quran affirms the truth of the NT.
Yes. The Quran affirms the truth of the NT documents (specifically, the Gospels). Let’s take a look at some passages:
1. God revealed the Torah and the Gospel.
He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. -Surah 3:3
2. Christians are commanded to judge the Quran by the Gospel (this assumes the validity of the Gospels!)
And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah. Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel. To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. -Surah 5:46-48a
3. No one can change or corrupt the words of God.
And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him. -Surah 18:27
If the Gospel was revealed by God and Christians are commanded to judge the Quran by the Gospel and no one can change the words of God, then Muslims have to, either:
1. Accept the validity of the Gospels…which say that Jesus is divine…in which case the Muslims can no longer be Muslims.
2. Refuse to accept the Gospels as being reliable, in which case they are denying their Quran, thus they can no longer be true Muslims.
Either way, they can no longer be true Muslims. This argument is known as the Islamic Dilemma.*
Christians can use the Quran to argue effectively and efficiently for the reliability of the Gospels and the divinity of Jesus, not because we believe that it is true, but because Muslims believe that it is the word of God, and as a result they must believe in what it says about the Gospels. The Quran affirms the Gospels in the same way the Gospels affirm the Old Testament. No true Christian can deny the Old Testament because the New Testament affirms it!
In conclusion, this tailored approach can be used much more effectively to show Muslims that Jesus really did claim to be God, and as a result, cannot simply be a prophet for no good prophet would claim the things Jesus did or do the things Jesus did. The above Quranic verses should be stored in every Christian’s apologetics arsenal for situations in which they are required to defend the New Testament against Islam. The Islamic Dilemma can be used, not only to show Muslims that Jesus claimed to be divine, but also to show that he was crucified and rose again, as well (Islam denies that Jesus was crucified and resurrected).
*For more info on the Islamic Dilemma and objections answered, here is a great lecture: