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.