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Answering Islam: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross

Norman L. Geisler is a theologian, teacher, and the dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has recently co-authored a book with Abdul Saleeb entitled "Answering Islam: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross" (Baker Books). In this issue of the "Newsletter", Dr. Geisler is interviewed on a variety of issues related to this book.

Newsletter: Why do Christians need to be concerned about Islam?

Geisler: One out of every five persons on the face of the earth is a Muslim. One out of every five! In the United States Islam is growing at an astronomical rate. There are more Muslims than Methodists in the United States.

These are people who are diametrically opposed to Christianity's most central belief -- that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead. Historically and theologically, many Muslims have been committed to the annihilation of unbelievers -- which includes us.

Muslims believe Christians have committed the unpardonable sin of attributing "partners" to Allah -- namely, belief in the Trinity. In Saudi Arabia they recently cut somebody's head off for blaspheming the prophet Muhammad, which, by definition, my co-author (Abdul Saleeb) and I do on practically every page of our new book. Islam is a serious threat to Christianity.

Newsletter: But this book is not written in a hostile fashion towards Islam, towards the Qur'an, towards Muhammad, is it?

Geisler: No, it's not. We take an objective, dispassionate, scholarly approach in dealing with (1) what Muslim's believe (and, by the way, we believe a Muslim could pick this book up and agree with how we've described Islamic beliefs); (2) a Christian response to Islamic beliefs; and (3) an apologetic defense of what we believe as Christians.

Newsletter: Muslims are monotheists, right?

Geisler: Yes. Monotheism is the belief that there is one God. Jews and Christians are monotheistic. But Muslims are the most rigid monotheists in the world. They believe there's not only one God but that there's only one person in God (i.e., God doesn't have a son). They confuse unity and singularity. Any other persons associated with God is considered blasphemy. It's the great sin. God has no partners, Muslims say.

Newsletter: So, to say that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that He was equal with God would be considered anathema.

Geisler: You just lost your head in Saudi Arabia!

Newsletter: Muslims say Muhammad was a prophet. And Muhammad in the Qur'an said Jesus Christ was a prophet. Assuming that prophets do not speak error, wouldn't this present a logical problem for Muslims? After all, according to John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." So, Jesus the "prophet," being one-hundred percent correct, refutes Muhammad and all of Islam, right?

Geisler: That's correct. And that's a good approach to use. But you need to keep one thing in mind here. What Muslims say to that line of reasoning is that while they believe in the Christian Gospels, which represent Christ, they've been corrupted down through the centuries. And so Christians must answer that allegation.

We do this in our book, Answering Islam, by showing that we have manuscripts of the New Testament that go back hundreds of years prior to the time of Muhammad. Now, keep in mind that Muhammad referred to the New Testament Gospels of his day -- and indicated their reliability. After all, he said to Christians: "Go and look in your own Gospels."

Well, if the Gospels of his day (A.D. 600) were accurate -- and we've got manuscripts that go back even before that -- then they're in a pretty tough dilemma to explain why you shouldn't follow the logic you suggested above: Jesus is a prophet; He always teaches the truth; and if He taught He was the only way to God, then how can Christianity not be true?

Newsletter: What specifically does the Qur'an teach about Jesus Christ?

Geisler: It's strange that while Muslims think Jesus was only a man -- a prophet superseded by Muhammad -- at the same time the Qur'an teaches that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Word of God, a speaker of truth, a sign unto men of mercy from God. It teaches that Jesus was virgin born, sinless, performed supernatural miracles (including raising people from the dead), and bodily ascended into heaven. All of this is affirmed of Jesus Christ in the Qur'an. The crucial thing Muslims don't believe is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.

One must emphasize to the Muslim that the Jesus of the New Testament claimed to be God, not just a prophet. We have a whole chapter in our book on the deity of Christ. Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). In John 8:58 Jesus said to some Jews, "Before Abraham was, I am," thereby claiming to be God (cf. Exod. 3:14). He received worship on many different occasions. One of His disciples bowed before Him and said, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28), acknowledging His full deity. Jesus forgave sins, which only God can do (Mark 2:5-7). Jesus resurrected people from the dead, which only God has the power to do (John 11:38-44). So Jesus in many different ways is shown to be God, not just a prophet. The Bible and the Qur'an are irreconcilable on these ideas.

Read more here: Interview With Norman L. Geisler. (Extrenal Link)

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