In a Nutshell, How is the Bible Different than the Qur’an?
For over two years now, I’ve been corresponding with a Christian woman who lives in Pakistan. She found my website and began to correspond with me, asking questions about how to share Christ with her Muslim friends. She is a fairly new Christian and is growing like crazy as she devours the Scriptures and studies them intently.
However, she is stumped at times in how to communicate Christian truth to her friends who argue vehemently against Christianity. I’ll tell you, I’ve been stumped a few times too! My friendship with her has sharpened my own evangelistic skills as I’ve had to think through some pretty thorny issues.
The first question she ever asked me focused on an obscure passage from the Song of Solomon. Her Muslim friends had pulled the passage out of context, claiming it was a prophecy of Muhammad. That began a long process of teaching her about the different kinds of literature in the Bible and the importance of interpreting Scripture in its context. After about 20 back-and-forth e-mails, the light broke through and she began to understand. It was such a joy to see her “get it.”
Next, our e-mail correspondence centered on miracles. Providentially, I’d come across an article by Tim Stafford for Christianity Today on this topic, so I had those thoughts fresh in my mind as I attempted to answer my Pakistani friend’s questions. This experience has taught me once again that relying on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and information at the right moment is extremely important in any kind of evangelism.
Finally, her Muslim friends began attacking the reliability of the Christian Scriptures. And after another long string of e-mails, she began to find confidence not only in defending her faith to her friends but in her own sense of certainty in the Bible.
As her questions have mostly been about the reliability of the Bible and how it differs from the Qur’an, I’ve given that topic a lot of thought and this is how I summed it up for her:
The Old and New Testaments are different than the Qur’an because the Qur’an was written by one person as a book of instructions. The Bible was written by 40 people over thousands of years, and yet all of the 66 books tie together into the same story. No one book can be pulled out and treated as a single unit, because one cannot be understood without the others. It builds from Genesis all the way through Revelation as one story that speaks of God’s desire to connect with and redeem his people. And it’s not just a book of instructions, but an entire interwoven masterpiece of God’s message to his people, including all kinds of literature (even love poetry). It’s the difference between a simple melody you can hum and a symphony performed by a 40-instrument orchestra. The latter has so many sounds going on that it would take you listening to it hundreds of times to begin picking out all the individual parts.
After I wrote this to her, she shot back an e-mail immediately. There was no back and forth this time. She simply said, “I love that answer and find it so satisfying!”
I admire the tenacity and commitment the Muslim people have for the Qur’an, but it brings to mind what Jesus said in Matthew 22:29: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (NIV) And I pray that Jesus will do for them what he did for us, as indicated in Luke 24:45: “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (NIV)
As I meditate on this holy book that God has given us, I’m in awe of the astounding message it contains and that he has allowed me to make it such an integral part of my life. I agree with David, who said in Psalm 19:9b–10, “The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.” (NIV)
Such a passage makes me want to know God all the more as I ponder the mastery and mystery of his Word.
JoHannah Reardon has written about this and similar experiences in her book, Undone by Majesty and Mystery. See more of JoHannah’s books at johannahreardon.com. She is a devotional writer for Trochia, and you can read her work by signing up for our devotional here.
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