A debate between a Christian and a Muslim can be quite uncomfortable for the Christian, because Islamic representatives are able to quote a barrage of Bible verses. Muslims are trained in memorization and most Christians are not. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus, which involves the Holy Spirit, the Bible and prayer. In a relationship conversation (listening, talking and getting to know the other) is important. That is why Christians read and study the Scriptures. Muslims do not have a personal relationship with Mohammed and that leaves a void. They only have laws to obey. So for the zealous Muslim the highest attainment is to memorize the Koran. They are also trained to oppose the Bible, and spread the message of Islam. Their arguments are well prepared, but for the Christian who listens carefully, the wrong theology will be apparent, because they have to distort the Bible to get their message across. For example, a Muslim taught that Jesus came to save only the Jews. The error is immediately discernible, because John 3:17 states that Jesus came to save the world.
What Christians often forget is:
- Islam does not have its own historical revelation.
- They do not have a Holy Spirit to teach them what their Koran means. Christians are helped to understand the Bible ('The Holy Spirit will teach you all things' John 14:26).
- They have no salvation message, or a clear idea of what is going to happen at their judgment after death. In the Koran Allah will use a scale and you have to wait and see if the good of your life weighs heavier than the bad.
- Their heaven is just a place of pleasure for men, with no mention of what happens to women.
- The Koran was written by one man (his followers collected his sayings), hundreds of years after the Bible. The Bible was written by 40 inspired writers over a period of 1,600 years with a single theme.
- The Koran lacks the Bible's narrative of God's intervention in the lives of people over thousands of years. That miraculous intervention proves that an omnipotent, supernatural being is speaking in the Bible. Muslims will give the death penalty to people who spread the Gospel in their countries. It is because they do not have the confidence that Allah can compete with the supernatural God of the Bible. The Bible message needs no laws, no force, no special measures to make it acceptable. Truth doesn't need advertising agencies or law offices.
How does one react towards Islamic preachers?
- Listen carefully. Quoting many Scriptures might sound wonderful, but somewhere, somehow they will contradict themselves in their eagerness to denigrate the Bible. The Bible has a clear, logical, precise message of salvation. Don't become confused.
- Their zeal should inspire us in our devotion to Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit to help us.
- It is good to spend time to memorize Scriptures, but we have a prior obligation to read, understand, get to know, love and talk to our Lord in prayer, and that takes time.
- There are references in the Koran to the history in the Bible, but they are sometimes quoted incorrectly. For example, Mary is called the sister of Aaron (Surah 19. 27-28, J Gilchrist, The Qur'an, The Scripture of Islam, Life Challenge Africa, 1995, p 91). The Koran is supposed to have replaced the Bible, because the Bible is supposed to be riddled with wrong information, but can a book that has the historical data from the Bible wrong, be trusted?
Listen carefully, ask questions to make sure you heard everything, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you so that you know how to respond. Do everything in love.