We share the planet with over a billion Muslims. According to the 2010 U.S. Religion Census, there are 2.6 million Muslims living in the U.S. today with Islam being the fastest growing religion in America in the last decade.
As the Muslim community continues to grow in the U.S., the likelihood of having an opportunity to engage them with the gospel has increased. As redeemed people, we need to be ready to tell others about our Redeemer. Are you ready?
Many moons ago, I studied Islam in a World Religions and a World History course in college, but I couldn't have an intelligent conversation with a Muslim about their religion and even pretend to have a clue.
Enter James R. White, director of Alpha and Omega Ministries and apologist par excellence. When it comes to exposing error in light of the truth and teaching it in a way that is attainable no one does it better or more clearly.
In What Every Christian Needs To Know About The Qur'an, Dr. White sets out to,
"F]ocus on what Christians need to understand about the Qur'an's teachings particularly as it impacts our interactions with Muslims and our thinking on events throughout our world."
He accomplishes just that by using primary texts, primarily the Qur'an itself and systematically showing how the Qur'an is not an inspired text, but most likely written by Muhammad despite Islamic orthodoxy to the contrary.
For instance, Surah 5:73-75 (a surah is a chapter, 116 is an ayah or verse) convincingly calls into question the Qur'an's accuracy regarding its understanding of the Trinity.
"73. They have disbelieved who say: "Allah is the third of three," when there is no god save One God. If they cease not what the say, a painful torment will fall upon those of them who disbelieve."
Punishment is promised to those who say that Allah is the third in three gods a belief they attribute to the People of the Book, in this case Christians. Then it continues,
"74. Will they not instead turn to Allah in repentance and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Forgiving, Compassionate.75. The Messiah son of Mary was none other than a Messenger, before whom Messengers had passed away. And his mother was a saintly woman. They both used to eat [earthly] food. See how We make the signs clear for them; then see how they follow falsehood"
The author of the Qur'an argues against the deity of Jesus and Mary by stating they were both merely human. In a different section, Dr. White highlights a highly respected Qur'an commentary, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, which states,
"So believe in Allah and His Messengers. Do not say, "Three gods: Allah, Isa [Jesus] and his mother." It is better that you stop saying theses things. Affirming the Divine Unity [is] better. Allah is only One God. He is too Glorious to have a son!"
The author of the Qur'an believed that Christians believed the Trinity consisted of Jesus, Mary, and Allah and its prominent commentators believe that is precisely what the Qur'an teaches. This leads us to conclude the Qur'an is in error and cannot be divine.
That's just a snippet of what Dr. White interacts with in this book and does it at a level that is very accessible even when using the primary sources.
Another feature I appreciate about Dr. White's books is not only how he presents the facts, but how he shows his readers how to practically use them.
What Every Christian Needs To Know About the Qur'an is essential reading for the Christian. After reading this book, you will be prepared to engage your Muslim friends, neighbors, and co-workers in a frank and honest discussion about their faith, which may provide you the platform to share the gospel. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
What Every Christian NEEDS To Know About The Qur'an
The emphasis in the title was placed by the reviewer, because that is the emphasis the writer communicates in the preface of the book. This is not an exhaustive compendium which will tell you everything you need to know about the Qur'an, in all of its minutiae of transmission, transliteration, textual criticism and emendations.
Nor is this a "How-To" book which will equip zealous followers of Christ with the necessary information to "go forth and convince the Muslims of the error of their ways, and bring them into the truth of salvation."
James R. White is an accomplished debater of Muslim apologists, and in his own words notes: "I learned as a young person that the single best way to honor the truth and to show honor to those you seek to reach is to "hear them in their own language," that is, to enter into their worldview and their theology.""
That is the main thrust of this book: to honor the truth, and to show honor to those one seeks to reach.
If you are picking up this book for any other reason, you might as well put it back down.
But . . . if you are still holding this book, perhaps you are dedicated to the same goals the author espouses in his preface. His heart is for the Muslim believer; his passion is for the truth; his concern is for the gospel of Christ. He engages the central text of the Muslim religion honestly, openly and fairly. And he does so with the example of the Apostle Paul in mind:
"To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some." 1 Corinthians 9:22
James White, an accomplished scholar, Greek professor, and crusader for reformed theological orthodoxy. His book The King James Only Controversy has generated widespread debate and received support from leading evangelical scholars including Norman Geisler, Bruce Metzger, and D.A. Carson. In addition to directing Alpha and Omega Ministries, White is a professor of New Testament Greek at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and Columbia Evangelical Seminary, where he received his doctorate. He's also a graduate of Fuller Seminary and the author of ten books, including Letters to a Mormon Elder and The Roman Catholic Controversy.
His book, What Every Christian Should Know about the Qur'an is a wonderful introduction to the Muslim faith. The Qur'an is arguably the greatest literary work in classical Arabic and for Muslims everywhere. Like the Bible, the Qur'an argues to be the definitive word of God spoken to their prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.
And I think for the most part, Christians know of its existence, but they have no idea what it says. In 1990, 935 million people reported to be Muslim. A comprehensive American study concluded in 2009 the number of Muslims stood at approximately 23% of the world population.
Each chapter in White's book walks you through the content of the Qur'an and how best to understand it. And as the title suggests, this is all taught from the perspective of a Christian. This book would be great for anyone who wants to understand the Muslim faith a little more, and a must have for any apologeticist. Yes, I would think that this could be a good book to give a Muslim as an argument for Christianity, and even though I don't believe White bashes the Qur'an in any way - it still might come across as impersonal. My advice would be to read the book, learn it and use it to aid in your conversations with Muslim friends.
Thank you to Baker Publishing and Bethany House for this free review copy.
There has probably never been a more crucial time for Christians to become educated in and cognizant of the teachings of the Qur'an, particularly those that relate specifically to Judaism and Christianity. In "What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur'an" author James R. White addresses a range of issues, from the question, "Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?" to what the Qur'an specifically says to- or about- Jews and Christians, about Christ, and about the Old and New Testaments. This book addresses the prevalent Muslim belief that the Bible is a corrupted text, which persists despite the contradictory teaching found in the Qur'an urging Christians and Jews to follow their Scriptures and acknowledges both the Old and New Testament as divinely inspired. Several chapters take an in-depth look at the formation and dissemination of both the New Testament and the Qur'an and the information here is particularly relevant, as most Christians have very little idea how we received the Bible as we know it today, nor do they understand the importance of how that compares to the compilation of the Qur'an. Among other things, James White also examines the Qur'an's teaching on the person of Christ, salvation, and forgiveness of sin and how these differ from Biblical doctrines.
"What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur'an" is an objective, logical and in-depth analysis of the Qur'an. Although the title indicates that it is written for Christians, it is clearly intended for Muslim readers as well, and throughout the book the author makes a respectful appeal to Muslim readers to be open-minded and intellectually honest in considering the logical contradictions found within the Qur'an and the hadith (tradition through which the Qur'an in interpreted). Refuting the Qur'an is not the goal of this book, however, and James White's impartial, rational, and courteous study focuses instead on the issues that separate Christian and Muslim beliefs.
In no way is this book intended for a casual reader who seeks a simple, historical overview of Islam. The depth of writing, the academic tone, textual analysis, and comparisons between biblical references and Qur'anic references require serious and focused reading. I highly recommend it to those who seek to advance their knowledge of what the Qur'an teaches, and particularly to those who desire to engage in meaningful and informed discussion with Muslim friends.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
White analyzes the Qur'an and its teachings on issues of most interest to Christians in their dialog with Muslims. This includes What the Qur'an says about who God and Jesus are, what God's purposes are, and how we are to know God.
White does not try to refute the Qur'an. He does point out the main areas of conflict and gives reasons for not believing it is a revelation from God.
He explores the origin of the Qur'an and the history of Muhammad, including controversial traditions. He covers the importance of monotheism to Muslims, frequently pointing out where the Qur'an gives a misunderstanding of Christianity. "The Qur'an is in error in its view of Christian belief." (98) He notes the troubling teaching that Muslims are to fight against those who do not believe in Allah, who do not adopt the Muslim religion.
After questioning the accuracy of the Qur'an, White explores the reliability of the new Testament accounts. He notes that "the Qur'an stands firmly and inalterably against the mass of historical evidence" when it comes to the cross. (137) He also explores what Islam teaches about salvation, sin, and forgiveness and how that compares with the Bible. He refutes the Muslim claim that Christians corrupted the gospel. (White says this topic is the most important one he addresses in this book and every Christian should be prepared to discuss it.)
Other topics include the fact that Muhammad was not prophesied about in the Bible, the Qur'an falls short of perfection when scrutinized the same way Muslims do the Bible, that the author of the Qur'an had no direct knowledge of or access to the New Testament, and the problems with the controlled transmission of the Qur'an text.
One of his conclusions: "If the Qur'an means what it says, then we must judge by the standard it commands us to use. When we do, Muhammad fails the test of a prophet... Every Muslim must give serious consideration to this dilemma, one that is brought upon him or her by the very text of the Islamic holy book." (187) White later notes that the Qur'an also fails the test commanded in Surah 5:47. (286)
White investigates and quotes the Qur'an and the hadith texts at length so that Muslims will know it has been fairly and honestly examined. He includes a call for Muslims to consider Jesus in his conclusion.
This is not a fluffy book. White has gone to great lengths to make the teachings of the Qur'an, often a mysterious and confusing book, accessible to Christians. If you anticipate dialogging with a Muslim, you need to have this book as a resource.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.