St. Paul and the Islamic Christians

St. John of Damascus

Church history is my speciality.  I’ve been studying it in depth for eight years.  One of the greatest rules of doing history is enemy attestation.  We don’t have the surviving writings of many heretical groups but we have Catholic polemics against them and can therefore determine many of their beliefs.

The Quran says that Jesus Christ and his apostles were Muslims.  It’s simply the Quran against history at this point.  The Muslims will say that the teachings of Christ were promoted by the apostles but were eventually thwarted by Paul of Tarsus.  It’s unfortunate that St. Paul has to be the usual victim of this attack but someone needed to take the blame for thwarting Islam since Christ and the disciples were Muslims according to the Quran and were therefore off limits.  In other words, St. Paul defeated the Islamic Christians and then Catholic Christianity took over.

There are many problems with this thesis such as Surah 61:14 which reads:

O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, “Who are my supporters for Allah ?” The disciples said, “We are supporters of Allah .” And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant.

As we know the only Christian group that became dominant over the faction of the Children of Israel that didn’t believe are the Catholic Christians.  We have no trace of the Islamic Christians since St. Paul supposedly crushed his movement.

Islamic apologists normally accept the liberal position that only 7 of the 14 epistles attributed to St. Paul are authentic.  This is the standard liberal position.  If one reads Bart Ehrman’s books like Forged or Jesus Interrupted, you’ll see this is in fact Ehrman’s position.  All major Islamic apologists that I know of accept this such as Adnan Rashid, Shabir Ally, Paul Williams and others.

At this point, we don’t need to argue for the other ones to be authentic when debating a Muslim.  Let’s just take what they give us and refute the existence of an early supposed Islamic Christian community.  They accept these 7 epistles written between 50 and 60 AD.  These seven epistles are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.  Between 50 and 60 AD when these books were written, the supposed Islamic Christian community would have been in existence.  In fact, it probably would have been at the height of the conflict between the Pauline community and the Islamic community.

When one reads these 7 epistles, they don’t show the context of a Pauline vs. Islamic Christian debate.  They simply show St. Paul preaching the Gospel.  At times he’ll refute a certain group like the false teachers of Galatia.  However, if these were Islamic Christians, he would have been arguing against them completely differently.  He wouldn’t have said what he did.

In fact, if one reads 1 Thessalonians which was written in about 50 AD, they’ll find zero evidence of the existence of an Islamic Christian community.  In fact in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we read:

and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

At the time this was spoken, the nature of these words would have been controversial since it would have been in the midst of the war between the Pauline and Islamic Christians.  The fact that he’s making this remark “off the cuff” shows that this was not a controversial statement amongst the Christian community whereas if Islam existed, it would be.  The entire epistle doesn’t fit into any context of a struggle against Islamic theology, nor do any other of the seven epistles.

In the 8th Century, St. John of Damascus wrote the first Christian polemic against Islam.  It can be found here:

We can tell that St. John’s opponents are Muslim since the letter clearly shows what Muslims believed.  It makes sense in the light of the Quran and many Hadith narrations that hadn’t been recorded yet although were in oral circulation.

Of course the simple reason why St. Paul doesn’t indicate that he has any Islamic Christian opponents is because they didn’t exist.  There were no Muslims before Muhammad comes on the scene in the 7th Century.  According to the Quran, the Muslim followers of Christ not only existed but became dominant.  The truth is that they never existed, which puts the Quran against firmly established history.



I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas.  I was in my hometown for Christmas.  It was -30 Celsius, which is -22 Fahrenheit for all my American readers.  I’m from one of the coldest cities in the world.  Here’s a brief video of the street that I grew up on.


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7 thoughts on “St. Paul and the Islamic Christians

  1. (If a Canadian considers is to be cold, it must be cold indeed!)

    That is very interesting indeed about St John of Damascus. What a good read! I shall look more into this. Great blog as always.

    What we come back to is this though. What is Truth?

    The Truth doesn’t amount to much amongst the wilfully ignorant. And the wilfully ignorant includes Shabir Ally, Paul Williams and Adnan Rashid – a most undistinguished company when it comes to intellect. (Although I would find it hard to deal with their training in an argument.) Each one has been confronted by prime Christian intellects in debate (most notably Shabir Ally by William Lane Craig who was quite devasting in debate and who subseqently called on him to embrace Christ).

    Don’t get me wrong. I really appreciate the intellectual approach, and it is the way to try and understand the truth about things, but it is probably wasted on most people. Folk believe things because it tend to fits their desires. So many desire what they have been brought up to desire, to believe and to conform to. Many are lost. Woe betide those who have deceived (Mohammed is surely damned, unless he were the unwitting victim of an evil spirit that deceived him in that cave.) Woe betide those that have the capacity to understand and to deduce and to argue but end up deceiving others. Basically I have lost faith in the capacity of my fellow man to reason. Nabeel Qureshi (God rest his soul) was one such, a man who use what he was given to overcome his Muslim upbringing and find the Truth and to be true to it until death through his cruel illness at such a young age.

    So often we see apparently intelligent people commenting on this blog, yet they are in thrall to the teachings of Mohammed. How can that be so?

    We cannot contend against ignorance, or those who can’t even be bothered. There are so many. Christ himself complained of cities that rejected him (Chorazin, Bethsaida) so if they rejected Him what then?

    My conclusion is that use of the intellect is not for all. Nor indeed is it particularly useful. What really counts is righteous desire. I doubt that someone like Saint Peter would be able to post on blogs like this or even answer a Vatican questionnaire but he shouldn’t have to. What he had was faith.

    All the same, keep it up. It is important that those of us with an intellectual bent understand and appreciate things and perhaps it will save some people. (It is also very satisfying.) God will judge us all in the end.

    • Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for commenting. I hope that you had a Merry Christmas.

      You say a lot of true things. You said it best when you said:

      “So often we see apparently intelligent people commenting on this blog, yet they are in thrall to the teachings of Mohammed. How can that be so?”

      Well yes, there are many intelligent Muslims and some comment on this blog. People believe in what they believe for a number of reasons. This is true for any religion. I read a lot of conversion stories and not just non-Catholics to Catholics. Pretty much anything within the Abrahamic tradition. Probably 80% of religious belief is not an intellectual quest. Again, this is for all faiths. It’s culture, friendship, family, emotion, and even just plain happenstance.

      If you read conversion stories, say to Catholicism for example, different parts of the faith are attractive to different people. It’s hard to say. There isn’t a one size fits all answer to converting everyone.

      My primary goal on this blog is to present the truth in a respectful manner. There are many attractive things about our faith. I want to show them to anyone who is willing to listen. Also, for apologetic purposes, I’m here to answer any questions that people may have.

      God bless you Patrick and have a wonderful 2018!

      • Probably 80% of religious belief is not an intellectual quest. Again, this is for all faiths. It’s culture, friendship, family, emotion, and even just plain happenstance.

        That’s my concern. I am concerned with trying to forge friendships among Muslims. It is harder for me, regardless of whatever their religious beliefs, since I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, and I do not have much facility in social conversations.

        I remember having a discussion with an irreligious philosophy professor whose interests included the philosophy of religion. She knows that I am a Muslim since I told her, but really didn’t challenge me on this. We were discussing some of the themes in David Hume’s Natural History of Religion and the justice of eternal damnation and the necessity of atonement for about an hour. Gottfried Leibniz was also mentioned in the sense that he believed God was supremely good as opposed to what God does is supremely good by definition. I thought the conversation would be less engrossing since it was my intention to perform the Asr prayer (late afternoon). She said something along the lines that those who study the philosophy of religion tend to be less orthodox and have less piety due to certain problematic philosophical issues (such as eternal suffering, the problem of creation [i.e. why would a perfect God create anything], and critiques of the “proofs” of the existence of God such as the teleological and cosmological argument.) She suggested that most religious people are not that intellectually and philosophically engaged with their religion. I made a joke that in concurrence with her since I hadn’t performed the prayer because of the conversation about the philosophy of religion. There was also an MSA meeting at that time, but I choose to have a philosophical discussion.

        [I really didn’t say much about the particularities of Islam in that discussion. I am a person not that inclined at proselytizing people at all.]

        I suppose I said that anecdote to say that I naturally cleave to those who are philosophically inclined. The problem here is that I seem to prefer the company of philosophers as opposed to Muslims. I feel alone since most of the leftist activist Muslims left and there are not many Muslims in the liberal arts.

        • Hello Latias,

          It’s always interesting hearing your perspective. I’m certainly not nearly as versed in Philosophy as you are. I do recall a lecture by Dr. E. Michael Jones where he talks about how medieval Spanish Islamic Philosophers couldn’t solve a certain problem and therefore Islamic Philosophy died with Ibn Rushd. I’ll try to find that lecture for you. I’d be interested in hearing your take on it.

          “I suppose I said that anecdote to say that I naturally cleave to those who are philosophically inclined.”

          I think it’s good that you’ve found your niche. I’m personally more of a history guy, both religious and secular history, and therefore Church history. Philosophy is important though. Catholic priests have to study three years of Philosophy before they move on to theology.

          In regards to Philosophy, I recently met a Philosophy expert at an event hosted by a friend where the main speaker was professor John Rao. He’s an evangelical who’s inquiring into Catholicism. I found him quite interesting. I couldn’t answer his questions but Dr. Rao was able to.

          Thanks again for commenting.

          God bless,

          • Hi Latias,

            Here is the lecture that I told you about from Dr. Jones on Christian and Islamic Philosophy.

    • as salamu alaykum,

      I haven’t seen something in writing from Paul Williams that is of intellectual substance. He used to post memes there against the liberal theological zeitgeist and against Christian theology. I am not saying that he is an intellectual small fry, but I haven’t seen something that he has written in depth.

      (I think there was a coup regarding the Blogging Theology blog. Paul Williams’ links aren’t on the side bar, such as the “Paul Williams Show”. The new “owner” probably wanted less cultural and political commentary and memes and more theology. I liked Brother Paul, certainly a little more conservative than I am, but not as cringe-worthy as Daniel Haqiqtajou.)

      I think Brother Ijaz Ahmad is a excellent apologist. Fairly knowledgeable with good command of the Bible.

      For whatever reason, I am re-reading the intellectual material that got me attracted to Catholicism in the first place (De Civitatae Dei contra Paganos). I however decided to use some of my time to look at some of the material in the Confessions and Enchiridion. I wanted to revisit his perspective on Original Sin and Predestination. If I were to focus on Islamic apologetics and polemics, I want to focus on the Nicene and Augustinian theology. I haven’t seen Brother Paul Williams or Ijaz Amhad devote much attention to that.

      (Allan Ruhl said he also shared my interest in dead white guys, and he said he is more interested in hagiographies. I don’t know if Augustine of Hippo was “white” since he was North African. I am more a philosophy type of woman, not a religious studies person. I am more interested in the philosophical substance of some types of religious doctrines as opposed to the particulars of religious practices. I know a convert who majored in religious studies, and he learned about Islam faster than me [he also knows some basic Arabic], but I also find Islam to be intellectually engaging too. I am less inclined to read hadith, fiqh, and the Qu’ran than he is.)

      My conclusion is that use of the intellect is not for all. Nor indeed is it particularly useful. What really counts is righteous desire. I doubt that someone like Saint Peter would be able to post on blogs like this or even answer a Vatican questionnaire but he shouldn’t have to. What he had was faith.

      From Book IV of the Confessions

      31. And yet what did this [my intellect and knowledge] profit me, since I still supposed that thou, O Lord God, the Truth, were a bright and vast body and that I was a particle of that body? O perversity gone too far! But so it was with me. And I do not blush, O my God, to confess thy mercies to me in thy presence, or to call upon thee–any more than I did not blush when I openly avowed my blasphemies before men, and barked like a hound, against thee. What good was it for me that my nimble wit could run through those studies and disentangle all those knotty volumes [of the liberal arts], without help from a human teacher, since all the while I was erring so hatefully and with such sacrilege as far as the right substance of pious faith was concerned? And what kind of burden was it for thy little ones to have a far slower wit, since they did not use it to depart from thee, and since they remained in the nest of thy Church to become safely fledged and to nourish the wings of love by the food of a sound faith.

      Emphasis mine.

  2. Thank you Allan. God bless you also, and may you look forward to a good 2018. I shall certainly look forward to reading this blog.