Given the recent attention to the horrible actions taking place in Paris by Muslims, I thought I would write this post on something that I have seen come up a few times before. “Irreligious” people who tar religion, including Christianity, with the same brush and brand it all wrong and evil and the source of many problems, appear to come out in droves when events like what have taken place recently occur. If you want proof- check YouTube. No doubt a Christian would be in a position to respond to criticisms that come from such people, and ultimately, the truth claims of both will come into question and the Christian will vouch for the truthfulness of the Bible over against the falsehood of the Quran.
An objection I know of, veiled in a question put in somewhat accusatory fashion, is, ‘Yea, but have you actually read the Quran?’
The underlying assumption of course in this question is the objection that unless you have actually read the Quran, you cannot possibly comment on its truthfulness. Now unfortunately, many of us, including myself, have not fully read the Quran, so what position does that put us in? What should the Christian answer be to this point?
God tells us:
“For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.”
It really is that simple. God is all knowing, and fully truthful, therefore that is the end of the matter. The Quran is false, and the god therein, an idol. That is the Christian answer – now, I’m pretty sure that whoever you are speaking to, unless they are a Christian (and even then), won’t be very convinced with that answer. But why not?
Ultimately the only reason that someone wouldn’t accept that as an answer, is simply because they don’t take God at His Word. No, they must be the judge of what is deemed to be true or not. It is, at its root, no different than the attitude of Eve in the garden when presented with two opposing views as to what will happen when she ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says they would die, Satan said they wouldn’t, Eve thought she’d decide, after all, one view was as good as another, right? To even grant the possibility that Satan could be right, and God was wrong, was sin.
The objection noted is a denial of sola-scriptura (scripture alone as our ultimate and final standard), and is replaced by the mind of man. That we determine, ourselves, aside from God, what is true.
Now, am I saying that there isn’t value in studying opposing views, including the Quran? Not at all, I wholeheartedly think that it is a good apologetic endeavour, but that is to do an internal critique of those systems of thought and to demonstrate their falsehood, and the resulting problems that it would cause in the rest of their worldview. That is something quite different from granting them a possible status as being true and Christianity being false – since possibility itself is something defined by one’s worldview.
What must be shown is that because the objector is essentially saying that we cannot say that the Quran is false without having studied it fully, which negates us appealing to the ultimate standard of God’s Word on the matter and consequently effectively denying God’s Word, that the results of that denial itself make that person’s worldview impossible.
It must be shown that their own worldview, from which their initial objection is simply a consequence of their deeper held beliefs as to the nature of reality and how we know what we know, is inherently self-contradictory, or simply does not provide the necessary basis for them to make sense of the world around them, such as laws of logic, objective moral standards, induction etc. Thus, as a result of this, their objection (since it denies God’s Word) is itself meaningless, because it is a consequence of a meaningless and self-contradictory worldview.
The method for doing so has long been written about, and not necessary to restate here, but if it is something that you are new to, a few places to start would be here:
A few other issues that one could raise as an internal critique of the objection itself:
Consistency problems: No one applies that same standard to all aspects of life – we all read secondary sources and authorities on subjects on a vast number of issues, but may have never actually read the original scholarly work, yet we are happy to hold that we have knowledge on those issues, and can comment on them, so why not on this issue?
Secondly, the objection itself is an epistemological one (the theory of knowledge; how we know things), therefore the question to raise is simply ‘Have you read all the top scholarly articles on epistemology?’. Clearly, if someone wants to hold to the standard that someone has to have read the primary source materials on a subject in order to have a sufficient level of knowledge to comment on it, then they are forced to concede that they have to have read the primary source articles on epistemology as well, or else face self-contradiction.