Muslims commonly claim that the Bible has been "changed," and that there are over 100,000 "errors" which occurred through the transmission process. What can the disciple of Jesus Christ respond to Islam's accusations? Three angles of attack can be pursued.
The Allegation of Alteration
Interestingly, the Koran itself (or Qur'an, the scriptures of the Muslims). Never once insinuates that the Christian Bible has been corrupted. In fact the Koran, written in the 7th century AD, positively encourages Christians to obey the teaching of the Gospel (Injil in Arabic). "The people of the Gospel the Christians shall rule in accordance with God's revelations therein. Anyone who does not rule in accordance with God's revelations ' these are the wicked! " (Surah 5). Similarly, believers are urged to follow the Old Testament as well (Surahs 6, 37, 40). Which revelations and which Gospel exactly were "the people of the book" exhorted to follow, if not the well known and widely disseminated scriptures of the Bible?
Nowhere did Mohammed allege that the Bible had been corrupted though he often stated emphatically that the people (the Christians and Jews) had been corrupted! So where does the allegation first pop up? Apparently, not until the 12th century in polemical debate with the "Christians" of the day. How about that! For 500 years the Muslims cast no aspersions on the Bible. Then came the allegation that the Bible had been altered. Mohammed himself, however, made no such claim.
Muslim apologists often point out the "fact" that there are 100,000, or 200,000, or even 300,000 "errors" in the Bible. Here's where that comes from. As we learned a couple of weeks back, there are thousands of manuscripts of the biblical books. Since each was copied by hand, errors in spelling, word omission, etc. were bound to occur. Through the science of "textual criticism" the original text has been determined: in the case of the New Testament, for all verses and with unanimous agreement except for John 7:53-8:11 (as passage which sometimes appears at other places in John or Luke), and the ending of Mark's gospel, which supports several differing (though not contradictory) endings. Now if we count all the minor differences in spelling, word order, and so forth as "errors," it is not hard to generate a long list of mistakes from the thousands of Greek N.T. manuscripts and tens of thousands of New Testament manuscripts in other ancient copies. But is this fair? Hardly!
Point out that spelling differences and the like do not constitute true errors! Ask what doctrine has been affected, corrupted, or introduced through such "errors." The answer: not a one! Such shadow boxing will never discredit the Scriptures in the eyes of one who is truly open-minded.
Into the Word!
The best way to help our Muslim friends: Get them into the Word (Romans 10:17! Bring them to church! Let them see Christian love in action (John 13:34-35)! Challenge them to study the Bible with an open heart.
When I ask if they have read the Bible'or just the entire New Testament, the answer is invariably a "no." When I tell them that I have read the entire Koran twice, and ask why it is that they do not show more respect for their own scriptures, mouths drop, heads hang, and the pure of heart reconsider their priorities. (By the way, if you would like to read the Koran, it need not take long. It is approximately 4/5 the length of the New Testament. Read with a highlighter. You will find many true passages, as well as many contradictions to the biblical record! Above all, you will find a religion of works. Remember this: All world religions (and false variations of Christianity) tend to be man reaching up to God. Real Christianity, on the other hand, is God reaching down to man. No religion of works (such as Islam, with its works, fate, earning of salvation, and brutality towards "infidels") accurately represents God, himself infinite in love, grace, and holiness.
When anyone starts looking into God's nature, his Word, his people, and his plan, he or she will soon come face-to-face with the truth (James 1:22-25). A decision is demanded. As someone has said, "When an honest seeker finds the truth, either he stops seeking or he stops being honest." Take God at his Word.
He can change any heart in any religion.
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