At our recent CCL event on ‘Can we talk about Islam?’, I suggested that one fruitful way to talk with our Muslim friends was simply to invite them to read one of the Gospels with you — especially since Muslims revere Jesus as a great prophet, and regard the Gospels as revelations from God.
But nothing is ever simple, and invitations like this don’t always go according to plan. Someone who was at the CCL event contacted me afterwards with this question:
Often recently when I have invited a Muslim friend to find out about Jesus by reading one of the Gospels with me, they have refused because they say that the Gospels are ‘corrupted’, or that the Quran is a much superior final revelation and that the Gospels aren’t worth bothering with.
What should I say or do in response?
I put this question to a few ministry friends who are much more experienced in Muslim ministry than me. Their advice was that this is a pretty common response, but is usually a means to close down the conversation quickly or avoid the issue, rather than a seriously thought-through or well-founded objection. How you respond to it would depend on your relationship with your friend, and how acquainted your friend was with the Bible (or the Qur’an for that matter). But the kinds of things you could say would include:
“No, the Gospels haven’t been deliberately corrupted. If they had, do you think I’d base my life on what they say about Jesus?”
“Who told you that? Have you or they really looked into the history of the Bible?”
“Can you tell me who corrupted it and when? Doesn’t God/Allah promise to protect His word from corruption?”
“Why don’t we read one of the Gospels together, and you can point out to me where the errors or corruptions are. We might both learn something.”
“(Unlike the Qur’an) the Bible couldn’t have been corrupted like that because it was originally written down in many different places and times, and spread out from those places to all around the ancient world. So it was next to impossible to change all the copies. Also there is no record of copies ever being deliberately changed.”
Obviously there is a lot more that can be said on this, but these sorts of answers can often deal with the smoke screen or ignorant objection, and lead on to helpful conversations and (God being gracious) some time together reading a Gospel.Tony