Christianity and Islam have a very different history when it comes to apologetics. Christianity needed to engage in apologetics immediately whereas Islam didn’t need to. Islam had an empire and held the sword over Christians. Even if the Christians could refute Islam, it didn’t matter because they were ruled by the Islamic Caliphate.
The first big Islamic apologist is Ibn Hazm. He was from Spain which doesn’t come as a surprise, seeing as how Spain was the frontier of the Islamic empire and when the battle lines are drawn, people must engage with the pen. Ibn Hazm is also the Muslim who came up with the absurd idea that the Christian and Jewish Scriptures have been corrupted. Something that’s never been proven.
In the 19th century Muslim apologists stumbled across liberal scholars of Scripture. This was accepted uncritically by the Muslims and became the new face of Islamic apologetics. Fast forward to the 21st century and the agnostic naturalist Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman has become the number one source for Muslim apologists. They say that many supposed Christian scholars agree with Ehrman, yet they always recommend Ehrman’s books.
In this video, Paul Williams talks about supposed forgeries in the New Testament. He says that many Christian scholars believe in this, yet he’s marketing the book Forged, written by the agnostic naturalist Bart Ehrman. He didn’t suggest books by Christian scholars. Not even liberal ones.
A few days ago, Paul Williams tweeted the following:
The most important line in this Ehrman quote is:
To put the matter in its simplest terms, Christianity is a religion rooted in a belief in the death of Jesus for sin and in his resurrection from the dead. This, however, does not appear to be the religion that Jesus preached to the Jews of Galilee and Judea…
The death of Jesus for sin and his resurrection from the dead are attested to in the Gospel of Mark in Chapter 10. We the following in verse 33 and 34:
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
In verse 45 we read these beautiful words:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
If the Gospel of Mark is true then Ehrman and Williams are wrong. Ehrman and Williams date this Gospel to roughly 70 AD but the belief in Christ’s death for sins and resurrection was being preached about in the earliest strata of data. I am referring to the pre-Pauline creed which St. Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15 which reads:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Of course, Muslims won’t believe in the statements from the Gospel of Mark whether Ehrman says it or not, but the earliest writings that we have state the opposite of what Muslims believe.
But here is my question for Muslims. If you’re not willing to believe a Prophet of Allah when Ehrman disagrees with Him, will you do this with Muhammad as well?
Ehrman believes in the death of Jesus on a Roman cross which Islam denies. Why not go with Ehrman on this one? You’re more than happy to go with Him when he overrules Jesus. In fact, Ehrman has veto power over Jesus anytime the Muslim wants.
The Quran states the following in Surah 2:286:
The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.”
No distinction yet Muhammad is immune from being overruled by Ehrman while Jesus has no such immunity. The rank of authority seems to be Muhammad, Ehrman, then Jesus and the rest of God’s messengers. If Muhammad, Jesus, and the rest of the messengers are Prophets, why not Ehrman? After all, he can overrule any of them except Muhammad.