Catholicism says "Divine revelation = Bible + Sacred Tradition, interpreted by Magisterium (but not Koran)." Islam says "Divine revelation = Koran + Bible (as originally written) [+ Haddith? (Muhammad's sayings/tradition)]

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Jmj

Friends,

On two other "current" threads -- "general" threads about Catholicism and Islam -- certain specific and very important topics have arisen.
I am opening a new thread here that has to do with one of those topics. I am going to copy in (below) many key quotations from various contributors to those other two threads, "sifted" out of the mixture of topics, in order to help the conversation continue here.

St. James, pray for us.
God bless you.
John

The topic is: Of what does divine revelation consist?
Catholicism says "Divine revelation = Bible + Sacred Tradition, interpreted by Magisterium (but not Koran)."
Islam says "Divine revelation = Koran + Bible (as originally written). As of September 1, 2001, we have not yet discussed whether or not Islam places Haddith (Muhammad's sayings/tradition) on a par with Koran (as a form of divine revelation or at least an infallible interpretation of the Koran).

------------ from "similarities" thread -------------------

[John Gecik, Jan. 17:]
I believe that the answer ... is found in these paragraphs of our beautiful Catechism:
"65. 'In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.' [Hebrews 1:1-2 .] Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2: 'In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and he has no more to say... because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.' ...
"66. "'The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.' ..."
[Therefore, the Koran is not the word of God.]

[from MEMO, May 13:]
MOHAMMED IS THE FINAL PROPHET TO HUMANS

[from Levent, May 14:]
And we believe that Prophet Muhammed is the "seal of the Prophets", meaning the last prophet as it says in the Quran.

[from Eugene Chavez, May 14:]
Who has been to this world and revealed this unknowable truth? ... Jesus Christ Himself. His Word is affirmed by the Father, who has raised Him from the dead. The Word revealed is God's Word; and God can neither deceive nor be deceived. *This is Catholic theology, from the Apostles of Jesus Christ.*"

[from John, May 15:]
In the gospels of the New Testament of the Christian Bible, and according to other early Christian writings, Jesus himself declared that he IS God, that he truly died, and that he truly rose from the grave. You say that Jesus was a sinless prophet, but that he is not God and did not die. Does this mean that you think that the New Testament is a book of fiction (or a mixture of lies and truth)? Does this mean that you give greater trust to stories told about Jesus by Muhammed (600 years after Jesus was on Earth) than to narratives written down by men who actually knew Jesus, saw his miracles, and touched him after he rose from the dead? Can you not see that it would be better to trust the gospels, if you want to know the facts about Jesus?

[from Levent, May 15:]
We as Muslims believe in the Torah, Bible and Quran. We believe that all books were revealed by God. There are many similarities of stories and commands in the Bible and Quran. I have looked over the bible for a few months because of a class I was taking last semester. The only difference is, we as Muslims feel that the Bible and Torah of been altered by men. If I can recall the bible was written on paper over 100 years later after Prophet Jesus. The stories written probably were given some additives to intrigue the reader. The biggest inconsistency with the bible is there are over 27 different versions, and translated from Aramaic to Greek than to whatever language you read. The Quran is word for word the same; the version in my home and the 1st Quran ever written. A very small example, The names of the Prophets has not changed in the Quran. Jesus is Isa, Moses is Musa and the only reason why I say Prophet Jesus, rather than Isa is so there isn't any confusion.

[from Bobak, May 29:]
I dont look at islam and christianity as seperate religions, i STRONGLY respect christianity because i know that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the same religion, and that Islam did in fact come because of how Christianity was being changed so much. And the Quran hasn't been changed, not even by a single dot or letter, since it was first compiled. Again, i respect christianity, but i believe that one has to accept the truth, and if i were christian and studied Islam, i would end up converting simply because its the way its supposed to be.

[from Bobak, May 29:]
By the way, they later removed the no drinking law from the bible? wow people couldn't stop drinking so just like that they removed it from the bible, that's so sad, so so sad. Ok don't respect islam but atleast respect God and Jesus, editing their words and laws, and taking stuff out is just disrespectful and very stupid. I saw an ad on tv a while back, it was about the bible, it ended like this "Order your copy of the bible today, the King James(or whatever his name was) version" VERSION!?!?!?#!?@#!@#? ITS GODS BOOK, YOU CANT MAKE YOUR OWN VERSIONS YOU LOSERS

[from Eugene, May 29]
Catholics don't read any version by King James. Protestants do. We have no reason to embrace a prophet after Jesus. He sent the Holy Spirit, not a Muslim prophet. The Bible never condemned wine, it condemned drunkenness, the abuse of something good. ...

[from Eugene, May 29]
... we don't accept your interpretation of our scriptures. The Catholic Church does not edit anything out of the Holy Bible. All of the inspired books are included our Bible. Only Protestant bibles are missing the best part of seven books. ... But the [Catholic] Church herself is not guilty of any error. It is by the protection of God Himself, the Holy Spirit dwelling in her, that the Catholic Church preserves the Word of God intact and unfailing. That's why we must dispute with you -- that a new Prophet had to come because the Bible had been corrupted. The Bible as the True Word of God can't be misinterpreted within the Catholic Church. That would have to mean God had broken His promise to keep His Holy Spirit in her as the Paraclete and Spirit of truth. (John 16:12, and Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2:4) God does not break a promise. Check the two Bible passages I've pointed out here. In the first, Christ speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His Church. In the other, you read the actual event as it happened. The infant Church was given the Holy Spirit (appearing as a strong wind, and coming down visibly over each disciple's head as a tongue of flame)-- at that point in time; that was the beginning of the Catholic Church. Nothing since then has taken the Holy Spirit away. -- Not time, not wars, plagues, kings, barbarians, nor prophets. Rome fell, Greece fell, nations disappeared. But the Church of Jesus Christ remains, and brings souls to Christ even today. It will never fall, because God has given His promise. (Matthew 28: 18,19,20).

[from Levent, August 4:]
My Opinion on someone trying to learn about a different religion should take several steps. If they want to learn about Christianity, they should take the Bible and read it thoroughly with an open-heart and without being ignorant. The next step could also be, reading Christian scholars points of view towards the religion. As for Islam, reading an interpretation of the Quran as well as, Hadiths (Traditions) of the Prophet ... In addition, reading books from Islamic Scholars points of views because they are more learned on the topic.

[from Eugene, August 4:]
This is what you can see in the Holy Bible: In the Old Testament, the PROMISE of a coming Saviour. In the New Testament, the life of Our Saviour, and His plan for our salvation. This plan is the Good News. It is incorporated in the teachings of His Church. The Catholic Church is that Church.

[from Eugene, August 16:]
Whereas in your house, the Quraan is equal to the Word of God, in our faith it simply isn't. We can dispute this all week, and not reach agreement. Nobody said the Quraan was an evil book. But in announcing to the world any aspect of the life of Jesus, it lacks that authority. We Christians are in possession not only of the writings of those men who knew Jesus personally, but heard Him, ate with Him at table, learned the truth from Him and believed in Him. Within that circle are some who knew Him before AND after His death on the cross. Eye-witnesses to His death and later, His rising from the dead. These men were among the disciples who wrote the New Testament.

[from John, August 18:]
[Levent,] you wrote: "There are a lot of similarities between Christianity and Islam. As wells as Islam and Judaism. If you open the Bible and Quran, some events would seem very familiar." There is a very good reason for these similarities and familiar sounds. Muhammad (whom I consider a very ordinary person like me and you, certainly not an infallible prophet) was working around 600 A.D.. Therefore he had access to the Jewish and Christian scriptures (Old and New Testaments). When he composed the Koran, he copied or paraphrased large portions of the Bible within the Koran's text. This helped to give the Koran respectability and believability, facilitating conversions to the religion he founded.

[from Levent, August 19:]
For 10-13 years now from books I have read and what non-Muslims have told me what Islam is -- that it is a made up religion, it is backwards or old-fashioned, or God forbid Prophet Muhammad had many wives just for lust, or he killed people so they would convert, etc. -- I used to think these things and might have even believed a few of the things or just have doubts. Now, when I read about Prophet Muhammad..., it gets interesting, for me, each and every time. I think to myself how can know about the other religions when his own tribe were worshipping idols. Maybe, because he was a caravan driver he traveled and learned about the other religions? He wasnít educated and didnít know how to read. People in his own tribe and other tribes knew he was different from everyone else, because he had qualities that others were lacking. How can an ordinary man convince the tribes that used to let the women dance naked in front of Kaabaí (the black stone in Mecca) to cover up? Or how the tribes gave up their grandfathers traditions for this new religion? Why would he say, that Prophet Jesus pbuh didnít die on the cross? Since your taking the events from the OT might as well keep the whole thing. Or Prophet Lot pbuh didn't commit any type of homosexual act? How can this ordinary man know that the world is round like an ostrich egg, or the cycles during the womb? The parting of the Moon? Or make references saying to people, donít worship me, don't idolized me (by painting portraits of him) but to worship Allah alone. He wasn't like near his old age he was living like a king and people worshipping. Before Islam people were starting to deviate away from Gods message and it became necessary to give the message once more and make it final and he said he was going to protect the message.

[from John, August 19:]
Levent, you made a serious of statements about Muhammad, asking, "How could an ordinary man do this and this and that, etc.." I think that you are implying that Muhammad could not have done certain things unless he was directly inspired by God. Perhaps someone else visiting this thread can respond to most of the specific things you mentioned. I will simply say that I believe that there are explanations other than divine inspiration to account for those things that you attributed to Muhammad. [One such explanation follows ...] You wrote: "How can an ordinary man convince the tribes that used to let the women dance naked in front of Kaaba' ... to cover up?" But you yourself gave a hint to how an ordinary man could have succeeded in changing his society. You wrote: "Before Islam people were starting to deviate away from Gods message and it became necessary to give the message once more and make it final ..." In other words, there was a growing "moral vaccuum." When this happens in society, many people feel an emptiness and begin to have a longing for something with deep spiritual meaning. The danger is that they are susceptible to fall for the first plausible message that reaches them, when a charismatic figure delivers that message. I believe that this is what happened in the case of Muhammad. I think that he made a "patchwork quilt" of things that he learned from other religions, that he added some things of his own invention, and that he presented all of this in an appealing way, gaining more and more followers. So that he would disciples would grow and so that he would not lose some of them, I believe that he pretended that God had inspired him directly. Yes, he "gave the message once more," but he did not "make it final" as you said he did. Muhammad gave parts of the message that Yahweh had given to the Jews and that Jesus had given to the Apostles, but Muhammad did not "make it final," because Jesus had already made it final through his Catholic Church.

[from Levent, August 19:]
In the Quran it makes that challenge that no man can match the intensity of the words. I believe the Bedouins were into poetry and why couldnít they match it? I have read articles where scholars have tried and failed. For example if he did a patchwork from the OT and NT, Gods word, and added or invented his own parts the Quran wouldn't flow properly. One verse would seem very spiritual (Gods word) and the next verse should falter if it is from man but that doesn't happen.

[from Larry, August 22:]
... the bible was not written in the lifetime of Jesus. The most of the teaching in the bible are credited to Paul, a person that didn't know Jesus. Paul said the law didn't need to be followed. He also said circumcizion was not necessary. So the one that Jesus spoke of was not Muhammed but people like Paul. Jesus worshipped Allah and Allah alone. Jesus did not pray to Mary or to anyone else (saints) to intervene on his behalf. Eugene, Allah is waiting on you. So pick up a Quran and read his words that have not been changed or tampered with.

[from Eugene, August 22:]
It is amazing to me that a non-Christian can presume to interpret the New Testament to a Christian, for the purpose of displacing Jesus Christ, who is the absolute source of that Testament, with a Muslim prophet! Simply amazing! Here you are, disputing the meaning of Holy Scripture by pointing out, of all things, that it was written long after Jesus' death. I suppose Muhammad then, was a contemporary of Christ's??? One better able than John the Evangelist or Paul, who was converted on the road to Damascus by an apparition of Jesus Himself; -- to tell us what the New Testament contains? Imagine that!
Jesus declared to the Pharisees in plain words, "Before Abraham came to be, I am." (John 8, :58) He is the God of Abraham as well then; and therefore your God and Muhammad's God! But Muhammad has led your people into a heresy. Now you deny the One who came to redeem you because Muhammad convinced you the Holy Bible had been "tampered with." Go on! This is too ridiculous ...

[from Larry, August 31]
[Quoting John 16 to try to show that the promised one of Jesus is not the Holy Spirit, but Muhammad] "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Jesus) said there are many things to tell you, but you can not bear them now. Yet you say Jesus explained all. Here it is said, HE shall not speak of himself (remember Deut 18:18) and he will glorify me (Jesus). Muhammed cleared up the lies that had been put onto Jesus. Don't say it is the Holy Ghost that Jesus is talking about because you say Jesus is the Holy Ghost and there are other part in the bible where the Holy Ghost has already come. So if you deny Muhammed you are calling G-D a liar.

------------- from the "dialogue" thread -----------
[from John, quoting Pope John Paul II in "Crossing the Threshold of Hope":]
"Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God's self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside."

[from John, August 29:]
We Christians have heard many times, Levent, from you and other Muslims, that you respect Jesus greatly as a prophet. What puzzles Eugene and me, though, is why you do not condemn him as a fool or a fraud! It seems to us that condemnation would be the honest thing for you to do. It would not be honest for a Muslim to praise Jesus, unless that Muslim rejects the New Testament as God's word. Please let me explain. Eugene has explained elsewhere that Jesus, as recorded in the gospel, made clear that He is God. For this reason alone, unless you reject the New Testment, you should condemn Jesus as a liar or a lunatic, since you do not believe that He is divine. It simply makes no sense for you to respect him as a great prophet if he was so insane or so deceptive as to claim to be God (or to keep silent when others proclaimed him to be God). ... Of course, I don't REALLY want you to call Jesus a liar or a lunatic. If you want to call him a great prophet, that would be fine. However, calling him a great prophet would then require you to depart from Islam, because the things that Jesus said about Himself (being God) and about fear are in conflict with Islam's teachings. And so I must ask you, Levent, which will it be? You cannot have BOTH (1) Islam and (2) Jesus as a great prophet. To take a respectable, logical position, please choose one or the other, but not both.

[from Levent, August 31:]
As I stated in an earlier post we believe in the NT the gospels that were revealed by God to Jesus. We don't believe in the Bible that was written 500 years later. I have a question. Where can I find the original Bible? I am bilingual and one day I was listening to Turkish song and the words were moving. I tried to translate the song to my friend in English and song lost its entire meaning in English. The passion, the analogies, and melody were lost. The words when they were translated were "corny." In Turkish, it was moving. The same goes with the Books. When you translate from one language to another it is difficult to keep that level of intensity without disrupting the communication. Imagine if you were to translate it from English to German, your losing more of the intensity. For example, take the word "Master." The perception and what we know of the word Master probably could have had a different meaning 1500 years ago especially if the word is translated. I once read that translations are necessary to spread the word of God and for spiritual enrichment but not for arriving at personal conclusions. Didn't Prophet Moses say in Deuteronomy 31:25-29 that the Law will be tampered with and corrupted. The uniqueness of the Quran states that Allah will protect the Quran from being tampered with. If you were to come to my house and look at my Quran. Then go to Larry's house and look at his Quran, despite some slight differences in the style of the writing. The Qurans will be identical in Arabic. If you go to Istanbul where a copy of the original Quran is, it will be identical to ours. Even though, I read the English to understand Quran and gain some spiratual knowledge, from what I have heard and read from people who read and understand Arabic, that it is a rich language. A language that with one sentence, it would take 3 or 4 sentences to match in English. Something that non-Muslims don't understand is that during the "Golden Age" of Islam. The Muslims went to great lengths in donít letting the Quran becoming contaminated. If there were a false verse or page they would burn it. Islam could have easily used the printing press to publish the Quran and spread the word. They were afraid that the Quran could easily be corrupted because of this tool. My ... question ... Where is the original copy of the Bible?
One more question. Why would a man [Muhammad] from a simple tribe in Arabia, who never lied, was the most respected person in his own tribe and other tribes (before he recieved the revelations) than one day in his 40's come down from the mounatins and say he saw an Angel. Then til the time of his death keep saying that he was a Prophet. Endure so many difficulties and so many sacrifices. Then make prophecies that were accurate. (tells his daughter, while about to die that she will be the next one to die in the family). Lucky guess? Maybe. How many times can a person guess right? How can he then "make up" verses that don't contradict science. A simple man that lives in the desert. Why would he say in the Quran that Jesus didn't die on the Cross. If it is a made-up religion, why would it effect him if he did or didn't. How could an uneducated man discuss about Astronomy, Geology, and Biology? Finally, why would he preach if there was no benefit for him. He didn't say worship me. If you ever go into a Muslim house, you will not see, images or Icons of the Prophet. You may only see the the writing of his name in Arabic. If he was in this religion for himself. Wouldn't he say pray to me.

[from Eugene, August 31:]
The Quraan can say whatever you wish, it is not the word of God. The Prophet is a prophet in your eyes only. If the Quraan says Jesus was created, the Quraan in effect proves itself a false book. It's regrettable I have to put it so bluntly, Larry. You have no scruples about saying the Son of God is a fraud, or the Word of God, New Testament is corrupt. Am I under a reverse obligation to your "holy" book? Is the prophet Muhammad so wonderful he can call Jesus Christ whatever he pleases, based on his opinion that the Christian Bible was tampered with? That's the opinion of Muhammad, not God the Father Almighty's. In addition to all her holy writings, our Church is blessed with a Sacred Tradition reaching back to the earliest days of the Christian faith. You would also have to say -- and prove -- that Tradition was also changed. And, for what??? All in order to gain legitimacy for a man who came about 700 years after Christ! A legitmacy you will move heaven and earth to support, but which is missing the most important part -- God's infallible word. We have it, Muslims have the Quraan. It is far from an infallible document. I'm sorry; the truth is the truth.



-- J. F. Gecik (jgecik@amdg.ihs), September 02, 2001

Answers



-- (_@_._), September 02, 2001.

Jmj

Dear Friends,
I hope that you have had (or will have) a chance to review all of the above messages (as I did yesterday in the course of putting this new thread together) -- so that you have been able to assemble a mental picture of where Catholics and our visiting Muslims stand on the subject of divine revelation.

I would now like to make a series of comments -- in separate messages -- about certain "problem areas" that I found within what we have been told here is the Islamic doctrine.

[from MEMO, May 13:] MOHAMMED IS THE FINAL PROPHET TO HUMANS
[from Levent, May 14:] And we believe that Prophet Muhammed is the "seal of the Prophets", meaning the last prophet as it says in the Quran.

[My comment:] By the word "prophet," I believe that Memo and Levent mean someone who was directly inspired by God to give public revelation to the whole world. If so, they are wrong to call Muhammad the final prophet. It has always been the teaching of the Church of God that the last person directly inspired by God to give public revelation was the man who wrote the final book of the New Testament -- probably the Apostle St. John.

The Catholic Church is the only entity that has the authority and ability to declare which ancient writings were inspired by God. The Catholic bishops' (and pope's) action in this regard was completed before the year 400. Naturally, the Koran was not yet even written. (Muhammad dictated it more than 200 years later.) It follows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Koran was not inspired by God and that, while Muhammad is a successful author, he is not a "prophet" in Memo's/Levent's restricted sense of the word. The fact that the Koran may call Muhammad a "prophet" means nothing, since this book, not being part of divine revelation, itself has no binding authority and cannot be fully depended upon (because of its fallibility).

In a broader sense of the word "prophet" -- a bold and effective spokesman for a religion or other cause -- one could call Muhammad a prophet. But under that broader sense, we are all called to be prophets. We are not divinely inspired to give new public revelation, but to spread what God has revealed before the last Apostle's death. Muhammad was also called to spread God's word (i.e., the Old and New Testaments, to which he was exposed), but he was not faithful to that calling, choosing to branch out and found a new religion.

St. James, pray for us.
God bless you.
John

-- (jgecik@amdg.ihs), September 02, 2001.


In the former threads I thought it important not to dispute with Levent and larry in any way that would cause them offense. It's not necessary to hurt the feelings of a stranger, all you have to do is explain the reasons for your belief.

It goes on indefinitely, but all the responses from our Muslim friends are negative. In every instance where we've shown clear biblical proof of Jesus Christ's divinity and Sonship with the Almighty father, a direct reply was refused. Instead, our Muslim guests have denied the ''accuracy'' of the Bible itself! ''The words attributed to Jesus were not spoken by Him,'' was one sample.

That's a fine way to side-step a point you can't dispute, isn't it? Levent and Larry can't oppose the words of scripture, so they claim their Prophet pronounced the scripture ''altered'' or ''added to.'' --If this were really true, Larry and Levent might well point to their Prophet and say: ''Without Muhammad, nobody would know the truth. He came to arrange the Bible the way God really inspired it.''

And how do they prove it? By the word of Muhammad himself, which can't be wrong! Muhammad says it, and Muhammad tells us it's true, so-- It must be! OH? Muhammad isn't capable of a mistake? Or a lie? Or megalomania, a Messiah complex, or any other disorder that brings delusions of grandeur??? Who ELSE backs up Muhammad? NOBODY-- He's the last word, and he makes it official. God did't step down in a shining cloud and call Muhammad ''Beloved Son.'' No apostles saw him return from the dead. Nothing concrete is known about him except his power of persuasion and his ability to raise great waves of fanaticism.

At this point, my previous care not to give offense at any cost-- must give way to necessity. Only this way is it possible to pull off the cloak of infallibility covering a religion that denies Christ.

Levent and Larry say ''We respect Jesus, and His mother Mary. He is the most mentioned in the Holy Quraan, and He was a great prophet, who ascended to heaven.'' --RESPECT? If all His words are packed in a bottle and dropped into a bottomless well, that's a sign of respect? And when Jesus' followers react with astonishment at this, they must be told, ''Muhammad says you're reading a false rendition of the Bible. That's that!''

All we would have had to say at the beginning of this discussion was: ''Jesus Christ warned of many false prophets who had to come. How were we to know them? By their works. Very simple. A prophet that lies about the veracity of the holy Apostles and the disciples of Jesus; calling their gospel a ''corrupt'' message. A prophet whose enormous number of follwers routinely resort to murder and atrocity-- (But! Wait; they aren't the true Muslims! say Larry/Levent;) OH? Just pretending, are they? They all read the Quraan, and pray five times daily. They don't worry about human rights, or personal freedoms. What if Catholics routinely mutilated their daughters with a ''circumcision'', and treated their women as inferiors? But we don't-- These are all works of millions of followers of Muhammad. The faithful! And what about the infidels? They must die! I heard a Muslim gentleman in Los Angeles say over the radio-news, ''All Israelis must die!'' No ands, ifs, or buts.

Jesus said about false prophets: ''By their works you shall know them.'' Only now have I said this, because I'm being told, Your Bible has been corrupted; God has no ''begotten'' Son; Jesus was not crucified, did not die; Jesus was ''created''-- Muhammad came to correct the mistakes of Christians, and guard us from the teachings of everybody except himself ! He is the stamp of the prophets. How do we know? ''He told us so! What more is needed?''

This is simply going around in a circle. We have no choice but to say-- OK; by their works you shall know them. I also have an idea about the sources of the Prophet's incredible ''knowledge'' of science, long before the microscope. It wouldn't be wise to start that subject; because what's the use? It won't matter to a Muslim what we think. It would only make him hate us more. God is the Truth, and here He has exposed our friends to the Truth, through His Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. Glorious and Holy is His name! Amen.

-- eugene c. chavez (chavezec@pacbell.net), September 02, 2001.


In the former threads I thought it important not to dispute with Levent and larry in any way that would cause them offense. It's not necessary to hurt the feelings of a stranger, all you have to do is explain the reasons for your belief.

It goes on indefinitely, but all the responses from our Muslim friends are negative. In every instance where we've shown clear biblical proof of Jesus Christ's divinity and Sonship with the Almighty father, a direct reply was refused. Instead, our Muslim guests have denied the ''accuracy'' of the Bible itself! ''The words attributed to Jesus were not spoken by Him,'' was one sample.

That's a fine way to side-step a point you can't dispute, isn't it? Levent and Larry can't oppose the words of scripture, so they claim their Prophet pronounced the scripture ''altered'' or ''added to.'' --If this were really true, Larry and Levent might well point to their Prophet and say: ''Without Muhammad, nobody would know the truth. He came to arrange the Bible the way God really inspired it.''

And how do they prove it? By the word of Muhammad himself, which can't be wrong! Muhammad says it, and Muhammad tells us it's true, so-- It must be! OH? Muhammad isn't capable of a mistake? Or a lie? Or megalomania, a Messiah complex, or any other disorder that brings delusions of grandeur??? Who ELSE backs up Muhammad? NOBODY-- He's the last word, and he makes it official. God did't step down in a shining cloud and call Muhammad ''Beloved Son.'' No apostles saw him return from the dead. Nothing concrete is known about him except his power of persuasion and his ability to raise great waves of fanaticism.

At this point, my previous care not to give offense at any cost-- must give way to necessity. Only this way is it possible to pull off the cloak of infallibility covering a religion that denies Christ.

Levent and Larry say ''We respect Jesus, and His mother Mary. He is the most mentioned in the Holy Quraan, and He was a great prophet, who ascended to heaven.'' --RESPECT? If all His words are packed in a bottle and dropped into a bottomless well, that's a sign of respect? And when Jesus' followers react with astonishment at this, they must be told, ''Muhammad says you're reading a false rendition of the Bible. That's that!''

All we would have had to say at the beginning of this discussion was: ''Jesus Christ warned of many false prophets who had to come. How were we to know them? By their works. Very simple. A prophet that lies about the veracity of the holy Apostles and the disciples of Jesus; calling their gospel a ''corrupt'' message. A prophet whose enormous number of follwers routinely resort to murder and atrocity-- (But! Wait; they aren't the true Muslims! say Larry/Levent;) OH? Just pretending, are they? They all read the Quraan, and pray five times daily. They don't worry about human rights, or personal freedoms. What if Catholics routinely mutilated their daughters with a ''circumcision'', and treated their women as inferiors? But we don't-- These are all works of millions of followers of Muhammad. The faithful! And what about the infidels? They must die! I heard a Muslim gentleman in Los Angeles say over the radio-news, ''All Israelis must die!'' No ands, ifs, or buts.

Jesus said about false prophets: ''By their works you shall know them.'' Only now have I said this, because I'm being told, Your Bible has been corrupted; God has no ''begotten'' Son; Jesus was not crucified, did not die; Jesus was ''created''-- Muhammad came to correct the mistakes of Christians, and guard us from the teachings of everybody except himself ! He is the stamp of the prophets. How do we know? ''He told us so! What more is needed?''

This is simply going around in a circle. We have no choice but to say-- OK; by their works you shall know them. I also have an idea about the sources of the Prophet's incredible ''knowledge'' of science, long before the microscope. It wouldn't be wise to start that subject; because what's the use? It won't matter to a Muslim what we think. It would only make him hate us more. God is the Truth, and here He has exposed our friends to the Truth, through His Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. Glorious and Holy is His name! Amen.

-- eugene c. chavez (chavezec@pacbell.net), September 02, 2001.


Jmj

Thanks, Gene, for your frank and reasoned analysis of the problems we have encountered in May and August. It is a situation that is really, really tough to deal with.
I believe that I know what you are suggesting in your final paragraph (about source of knowledge about science), as I have been turning over the same thought in my mind for quite a while.
Well, I am going to wait and hope that something of value comes of this little experiment of mine (setting up the two shorter, more focused threads). Monday, I will try to find time to add some more comments on things that trouble me within the fragments that I have quoted above.

St. James, pray for us.
God bless you.
John

-- (jgecik@amdg.ihs), September 02, 2001.



Jmj

I want to continue now with some comments about a major problem that was raised by our Muslim visitors in the May-to-August messages about divine revelation (quoted above). Today, the problem is the accuracy of the presently existing manuscripts and translations of the Bible, the historicity of the accounts of Jesus ... and the accuracy of the Koran.

[From statements made by Muslim visitors]
[from Levent, May 15:] We as Muslims believe in the Torah, Bible and Quran. We believe that all books were revealed by God. There are many similarities of stories and commands in the Bible and Quran. I have looked over the bible for a few months because of a class I was taking last semester. The only difference is, we as Muslims feel that the Bible and Torah of been altered by men. If I can recall the bible was written on paper over 100 years later after Prophet Jesus. The stories written probably were given some additives to intrigue the reader. The biggest inconsistency with the bible is there are over 27 different versions, and translated from Aramaic to Greek than to whatever language you read. The Quran is word for word the same; the version in my home and the 1st Quran ever written. A very small example, The names of the Prophets has not changed in the Quran.

[from Bobak, May 29:] ... Islam did in fact come because of how Christianity was being changed so much. And the Quran hasn't been changed, not even by a single dot or letter, since it was first compiled.

[from Bobak, May 29:] ... at least respect God and Jesus, editing their words and laws, and taking stuff out is just disrespectful and very stupid. I saw an ad on tv a while back, it was about the bible, it ended like this "Order your copy of the bible today, the King James(or whatever his name was) version" VERSION!?!?!?#!?@#!@#? ITS GODS BOOK, YOU CANT MAKE YOUR OWN VERSIONS YOU LOSERS

[from Larry, August 22:] ... the bible was not written in the lifetime of Jesus. The most of the teaching in the bible are credited to Paul, a person that didn't know Jesus. Paul said the law didn't need to be followed. He also said circumcizion was not necessary. ... Jesus worshipped Allah and Allah alone. ... Allah is waiting on you. So pick up a Quran and read his words that have not been changed or tampered with.

[from Levent, August 31:] As I stated in an earlier post we believe in the NT the gospels that were revealed by God to Jesus. We don't believe in the Bible that was written 500 years later. I have a question. Where can I find the original Bible? I am bilingual and one day I was listening to Turkish song and the words were moving. I tried to translate the song to my friend in English and song lost its entire meaning in English. The passion, the analogies, and melody were lost. The words when they were translated were "corny." In Turkish, it was moving. The same goes with the Books. When you translate from one language to another it is difficult to keep that level of intensity without disrupting the communication. ... I once read that translations are necessary to spread the word of God and for spiritual enrichment but not for arriving at personal conclusions. Didn't Prophet Moses say in Deuteronomy 31:25-29 that the Law will be tampered with and corrupted. The uniqueness of the Quran states that Allah will protect the Quran from being tampered with. If you were to come to my house and look at my Quran. Then go to Larry's house and look at his Quran, despite some slight differences in the style of the writing. The Qurans will be identical in Arabic. If you go to Istanbul where a copy of the original Quran is, it will be identical to ours. Even though, I read the English to understand Quran and gain some spiratual knowledge, from what I have heard and read from people who read and understand Arabic, that it is a rich language. A language that with one sentence, it would take 3 or 4 sentences to match in English. Something that non-Muslims don't understand is that during the "Golden Age" of Islam. The Muslims went to great lengths in don't letting the Quran becoming contaminated. If there were a false verse or page they would burn it. Islam could have easily used the printing press to publish the Quran and spread the word. They were afraid that the Quran could easily be corrupted because of this tool. My ... question ... Where is the original copy of the Bible?


[My comments:]
Dominican Father Paul Duffner writes, in his continuing series, "Theology for the Laity":
"God in his goodness and wisdom revealed Himself gradually through the prophets and patriarchs of the old Testament. But the fullness and completion of that revelation came through the Incarnation of the only-begotten Son of the Father [the Incarnate "Word" of God] who became man to redeem us, and to bring to completion the revelation of the Godhead and the divine plan of salvation. The message that Christ brought to mankind by His preaching, His deeds, His death and resurrection brings an end to public revelation ... Referring to this, the second Vatican Council declared in the dogmatic constitution on Revelation: 'The Christian dispensation, therefore, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away, and we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Dei Verbum #4)." [Fr. Duffner's words repeat what we believe as Catholics.]

We are happy to note that both Catholics and Muslims believe in God, the Creator of all things.
We are happy to note that both Catholics and Muslims believe that a good, loving Creator God would desire to communicate with us, reveal himself to us, and tell us how to live our lives.
And we are happy to note that both Catholics and Muslims believe that the Old and New Testaments were revealed to us by God [see Levent, May 15, above]. Muslims call the adherents of Judaism and Christianity the "People of the Book," referring to the Bible.

But our two religions apparently begin to diverge at this point.
Our Muslim visitors seem to allege the following unfortunate things about the "People of the Book."
(1) We have "deviated from the True Path" given to us by God.
(2) We don't know where the original texts of the Holy Bible are, so we can't know what they said.
(3) The texts that we now call the Old Testament have now been so corrupted ["tampered with"] that we Jews and Christians can no longer know what was the True Path that God had in mind for us.
(4) Jesus preached the true gospel (the real New Testament), but what was written down by Christians as the New Testament much later (variously 100 years, 400 years, 500 years) disagrees with what Jesus taught.
(5) We are dealing with dozens of different translations of the Bible, into hundreds of different languages. This makes for errors, more corruption, uninspiring texts, etc..

Besides alleging the above negative things about us and our religion, our Muslim visitors seem to claim the following positive things about their Koran:
(6) God had to give mankind a "refresher course" about the True Path by sending the angel Gabriel to deliver to all mankind, through Muhammad, the words of the Koran. This happened around 630 A.D..
(7) The text of the Koran that Muslims possess today is a perfect character-for-character Arabic copy of the original Koran of 1370 years ago.
(8) Arabic is an incredibly rich language, and the Koran is written in incomparably great language. No human writing can match the "intensity" of the Koran (which challenges men to try to match it), so it must have been composed by God himself.

I will now try to address the above-numbered items.

(1) ["We have 'deviated from the True Path' given to us by God."]
I reject this allegation. Muhammad claimed that Jews and Christians had deviated from the "true path" given them by God. Today's Muslims believe this charge and continue to make it. But neither Muhammad nor Muslims were present when God revealed the "path" that he wanted mankind to follow -- when he gave his Commandments and when he sent his son Jesus to show us how to live and what to believe. We Christians [i.e., "completed Jews"] have preserved a 2000-year-old "living memory" of what God revealed, and much of that revelation was written down in the biblical books.
Muslims have not offered proof to the contrary -- and are unable to offer any. Thus, I consider the Muslims' allegation to be false.

(2) [We don't know where the original texts of the Holy Bible are, so we can't know what they said.]
I reject this allegation. We do know where the original biblical manuscripts are. Having been written, thousands of years ago, on materials (e.g., papyrus, parchment) that could not last forever, the originals (called "autographs") have disintegrated. But long before they disappeared, they had been copied, again and again. The copying was done with utmost care, as one would expect to be done when the very revelation of God is involved. Besides the actual copies of biblical books, there always has existed the practice of quoting scriptural passages in other literary works, such as commentaries. And, as just mentioned above, there has always been the living, spoken memory (tradition) to parallel what was written down. In these three ways, we can know what the "autographs" said.
Muslims have not offered proof to the contrary -- and are unable to offer any. Thus, I consider the Muslims' allegation to be false.

(3) [The texts that we now call the Old Testament have now been so corrupted -- "tampered with" -- that we Jews and Christians can no longer know what was the True Path that God had in mind for us.]
I reject this allegation. Again, Muhammad and Muslims were not alive from the time of Abraham to Jesus, so they really have no idea what the original manuscripts of the Old Testament said. Therefore, they cannot claim to know whether or not the texts have become corrupted. In fact, we can be perfectly confident that the original Old Testament texts have not been tampered with at all, nor changed in any significant way.
One of our Muslim visitors pointed to Deuteronomy 31:25-29 as a passage wherein Moses predicted the impending corruption of the "Law" (meaning the Old Testament scriptures). But that is not at all what the passage says. Please see for yourself that the passage says nothing about tampering with the Old Testament texts: "Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, "Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are; behold, while I am yet alive with you, today you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands."
Recall that the Dead Sea scrolls (from around the time of Jesus) contain copies of Old Testament texts. Besides these, there exist other ancient copies of the Old and New Testament, made before the Koran was composed. There is a major science of biblical archaeology. Countless scholars have attested to the reliability of the biblical texts as they have come down to us. Although there are variations in hand-copied manuscripts, these can usually be explained or reconciled. Careful analysis leads scholars to know, usually with certainty, which of the variants is the original. The oral Tradition and extra-biblical quotations aid their decisions too. There is agreement on such an extremely high percentage of the text that we do not need to be worried that we are lacking the original revelation from God to Moses, the prophets, and the followers of Jesus. We do indeed know the "true path" that God taught his Jewish and Christian family.
Muslims have not offered proof to the contrary -- and are unable to offer any. Thus, I consider the Muslims' allegation to be false.

(4) [Jesus spoke the true gospel prophesy given to him by God (the real New Testament), but what was written down by Christians as the New Testament much later disagrees with what Jesus taught.]
I reject this allegation, which is similar to #1. Apparently Muhammad claimed that Christian writers had not written down the true "new testament/gospel" that Jesus had delivered by spoken word. Today's Muslims believe this charge and try to convince us that Jesus did not say many of the words that the New Testament claims he said. They even try to convince us that the New Testament lies in saying that Jesus was conceived by the Almighty Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. They even try to convince us that the New Testament lies in saying that Jesus actually died on a cross and rose from the dead. But neither Muhammad nor Muslims were present when Jesus walked on the earth, so they have no way of telling us accurately what Jesus actually said and did. For that information, we have the writings of the first-generation followers of Jesus (the New Testament), the living memory of the same (oral Tradition), and the writings of subsequent early generations of Christians ("Fathers" of the Church), who recorded part of Sacred Tradition and their own commentary on the Old and New Testaments.
One of the greatest "witnesses" to the accuracy of the gospel message -- i.e., the sayings and actions of Jesus -- is the willingness of his earliest followers to suffer persecution and martyrdom. If Jesus actually said other things, and if Jesus did not die on the cross and rise again, those followers would not have been willing to put up with the abuse and murders that they suffered. Another great testimony to the accuracy of the New Testament is the written word of disinterested, contemporary non-Christian writers (Jewish and pagan), who confirm some of the very things that Muhammad tried to deny 500 or more years later.
Recall that I said that Muslims call Christians "People of the Book." This expression comes from their Koran, and it was allegedly stated by God himself. I see a huge self-contradiction here, don't you? Supposedly God calls Christians "People of the Book," but our "book" is either corrupt (Old Testament) or inaccurate/fictional (New Testament)? Apparently God made a mistake, if we are to believe the Koran. But we don't believe the Koran. We know that the New Testament contains the actual Good News (gospel) of Jesus, plus an accurate account of his life.
Muslims have not offered proof to the contrary -- and are unable to offer any. Thus, I consider the Muslims' allegation to be false.

(5) ["We are dealing with dozens of different translations of the Bible, into hundreds of different languages. This makes for errors, more corruption, uninspiring texts, etc..]
I cannot fully accept this complaint. There is nothing inherently wrong with translating the Bible into the world's languages. Even Islam has permitted and encouraged the translation of the Koran. Yes, translation must be done with utmost care, and sometimes it is not. Not all translators are sufficiently talented to render texts in a pleasing manner. Others sometimes misunderstand a fine point of the original language and thus use an inaccurate word. Still others have a "political agenda" which (at least subconsciously) moves them to use less than accurate language. To summarize, I could say that some people since 1300 A.D. (especially certain "separated brethren" and the Jehovah's Witnesses) have not done a good enough job, publishing poor translations that have caused much havoc within Christendom. But this kind of (usually unintentional) human error should not make us reject the principle of translation itself.
Moreover, since the Bible is God's very word, He has a way of using even mediocre translations to move great sinners to conversion of morals and faith in Jesus Christ His Son Our Lord. Every translation of the Bible is both inspired (totally) and inspiring (sufficiently). And every translation ("version") of the Bible that is approved by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church can be relied upon completely. The Bible is without error in communicating to mankind messages that God wanted to deliver.

(6) [God had to give mankind a "refresher course" about the True Path by sending the angel Gabriel to deliver to all mankind, through Muhammad, the words of the Koran. This happened around 630 A.D..]
I reject this claim. I won't get into what the Koran actually is right now. I will just refer back to what I have written, above, concerning the fact that Jews and Christians never lost the "true path." Thus they needed no "refresher course."

(7) [The text of the Koran that Muslims possess today is a perfect character-for-character Arabic copy of the original Koran of 1370 years ago.]
Although it is barely possible, I doubt this most sincerely. First of all, we have to ask what is the "original Koran." Does someone have the mental picture of Muhammad hearing, and writing down, the text of the Koran as it is dictated to him by the angel Gabriel. That did not happen. Well, then ... does someone have the mental picture of Muhammad memorizing the text of the Koran (dictated to him by the angel) all at once, or in parts, and then dictating it to "secretaries" who wrote it down on some material that has has lasted nearly 1,400 years? That probably did not happen. Remember that this was a brand-new religion being developed. It is highly unlikely that anything so systematic would have been done. Most new enterprises, even in our ultra-modern age, just don't develop in this conveniently sterile way -- much less so in the Dark-Age deserts of Arabia. Let us see what the old Catholic Encyclopedia (in an article by a man from an Arab nation) has to say about this subject:
"It is generally admitted that the Koran is substantially the work of Mohammed. According to the [Muslim] traditionalists, it contains the pure revelation he could neither read nor write, but that immediately afterwards he could do both. Others believe that even before the revelation he could read and write, while [still] others ... deny that he could ever do so [i.e., not even later in life]. Thus it is uncertain whether any of the [chapters] were written down by the Prophet himself or all delivered by him orally and afterwards writen down by others from memory. ... [According to the traditionalist viewpoint (that he could not read nor write at first),] Mohammed's hearers began by trusting their memories to retain the words of the revelation they had received from him. Later, those who could write traced them in ancient characters on palm leaves, tanned hides, or dry bones. After the Prophet's death all these fragments were collected. Zaid ibn Thabit, Mohammed's disciple, was charged by Abu Bekr, the caliph, to collect all that could be discovered of the sacred text in one volume. The chapters were then arranged according to their length and without regard to historical sequence. The revision made twenty years later affected details of language of the text."
Enough said. You don't need me to comment further on how very different that narration of the facts is from what our Muslim visitors have claimed.

(8) [Arabic is an incredibly rich language, and the Koran is written in incomparably great language. No human writing can match the "intensity" of the Koran (which challenges men to try to match it), so it must have been composed by God himself.]
I reject two parts of this claim. Not being able to read or speak Arabic, I am not qualified to judge it as "incredibly rich" or "woefully poor" in comparison to other languages. I will assume that it is rich. I am not qualified to judge the beauty, the intensity, or the inspirational/motivational quality of the Arabic that is found in the Koran. But again, I will assume the best (from the Islamic point of view). The Encyclopedia says that the language used in the Koran is considered "to be the most perfect form of Arab speech, and soon became the standard by which other Arabic literary compositions had to be judged, grammarians, lexicographers, and rhetoricians, [who] presum[ed] that the Koran, being the word of God, could not be wrong or imperfect." Notice the key idea there. The Arabic of the Koran appears not to have been judged as "rich/intense/inspirational/motivational" in and of itself, but because it was assumed to be spoken by God! Only for this reason, I would contend did it become the model for future writing. My opinion is that, if it had not been assumed to be God's word (but man's), it probably would not have been considered anything special. If a writing is claimed to be directly from God's mouth, those who make the claim are naturally going to reject all human writings, no matter how good, as inferior to the allegedly divine.
There is no doubt in my mind there are many non-Muslim writers of Arabic who would list various other writings much higher than the Koran in a ranking of richness, intensity, and inspirational/motivational quality. And there are millions of non-Muslim/non-Catholic adherents to a rapidly growing religion (Mormonism/Latter-Day Saints) who are adamantly insistent that their "God-inspired scripture" [the Book of Mormon, also allegedly given to a single man by an angel!] is rich, intense, and inspirational. Thus, I reject the final part of the Muslims' claim, above. Richness, intensity, and motivational greatness are no proof that the Koran (nor the Book of Mormon) was composed by God himself.

St. James, pray for us.
God bless you.
John

-- (jgecik@amdg.ihs), September 04, 2001.


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