Greg Bahnsen’s Critique of Islam

Notes from Greg L. Bahnsen’s A Biblical Introduction to Apologetics series.

Counterfeit Christianity Religions
Unitarian: They deny the Trinity and insist that God is one person. Islam and Christian cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses are example.
Polytheistic: Mormons are examples.
Psuedo-Messianic: They teach Jesus failed to do everything that needed to be done. The Moonies are illustrations.

Islam means submission. Muslims are those who have submitted to Allah. Islam worships one god and that god’s name is Allah. When Muhammad began to promote Islam, the Arabians worshipped many gods. One of the gods that they worshipped was Allah. Interestingly, Muhammad (M) came along and said that Allah was the only god and the other gods needed to get rid of. M was born in 570 AD; his father and mother died before he was born. He was raised by an uncle who was a caravan trader. During that time he had a lot of contact with people of other cultures and religions. Eventually, he married a wealthy woman, so he didn’t have to work any longer. He would often go off to a cave and meditate, but he would have violent convulsions. He was initially afraid of these revelations and thought that they had come from Satan. It was his wife who said that he should submit to these revelations. He did, and then began to write for the next 22 years. These writings then became the surrahs of the Quran (reading). Before he died in 620AD, the Arabian’s wealth depended upon their polytheism. M was eventually driven out the city of Mecca and took refuge in Medina. Muslims date everything from M’s flight, so their calenders begin from that point. There were a number of wars between M’s followers and the Arabian polytheists. M eventually gained power and returned to Mecca, but he died a short while after.

5 doctrines of + 1 of the Muslim faith
1. Allah is the only God
2. Allah has sent my prophets to guide men. M is the last and greatest of them.
3. Of the four inspired books (Pentatuch, Psalms, Gospels, Quran), the Quran is most important. Muslims consider Christians the people of the book.
4. There are many intermediaries such as angels and demons.
5. There will be a final day of judgment, a resurrection and a heaven and hell. One’s destiny is determined by a weighing of good and bad deeds.
6. The doctrine of fate. Everything is set ahead of time and there is no free-will.

The five pillars of Islam
1. The recitation of Islam’s creed: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet”.
2. The practice of prayer ( 5 times a day).
3. The practice of alms giving.
4. The month of fasting ( Ramadan).
5. The pilgrimage to Mecca.
6. The jihad ( holy war), where Muslims have the right to kill polytheists and those won’t honor Allah. The early Muslims took over northern Africa and, had it not been for Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours, the Muslims probably would’ve taken over Europe. Some people think that Muslims have everything that we have, so it doesn’t matter which religion is right.

It does not come down to this. Why?

1. The Koran claims to be a confirmation of the Old Testament law and the New Testament gospel as previous revelations of Allah.

Surah 2:2-4 states:”Allah -there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence.He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Law and the Gospel. Before, as guidance for the people.” The Quran is the confirmation of the previously given revelation in the Law and the Gospel. The Koran even draws upon the Bible as well as certain apocryphal literature. The virgin birth is taken straight from the Bible.

The Quran be confirmation of previous revelation if Muhammad is going to be the prophet of God. “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, `Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God….” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) Here we have a prophet who comes along and works miracles. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says that if someone claims to be a prophet and their prophecy doesn’t come true, then that person is a false prophet. But in Deuteronomy 13 you have another test; It’s not just that there are miracles and prophecies come true; it’s that he does not say things that are contrary to what God has previously revaled. God does not lie, and He does not contradict Himself. Therefore, subsequent revelation must be consistent with previous revelation, or they cannot be thought to be revelation from the same God who gave the previous revelation. The Bible tells us that any prophet who comes must say things that are consistent with previous revelation. The Quran says it is confirmed previous revelation from the Bible, but it contradicts the Bible. It contradicts the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and the Gospel. Because Muslims themselves claim those as inspired, that’s where you’re going to want to put your argument.

Contradictions between the Quran and the Bible

“[the angel] said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.’ So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’ Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, “O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.”

Strangely, they called married the sister of Aaron. What was the name of Aaron’s sister? Miriam, not Mary. Remember that you’re dealing with an auditory culture. They had heard the stories of Mary, and they had heard the stories of Miriam, and they thought they were the same person, and that got put into this “divine revelation”.

According to the Quran, Jesus was not crucified but Judah was crucified in his place.

Muslims worship one person as God, so they must to deny that Jesus is divine. The Quran says that Jesus is not and cannot be the divine son of God. But Jesus presented himself as the divine son of God in the Gospels. The Trinity is denied and the Quran, but it’s also misunderstood. It specifically refers to the doctrine of the Trinity as three gods. But the doctrine of the Trinity, which had already been formulated in Christian orthodoxy in the 400s (it was in the 600s or 700s that the Muslim faith developed), had already made clear that the Bible does not teach three gods, but three persons as one God. But in comes into the Quran as three gods.

One of the apologetical arguments that Muslims present is the “miracle of the Koran”. It’s miraculous preservation. The claim is made that the Koran has never suffered a deviant/diverse reading, and yet there are many diverse readings in manuscripts of the New Testament. However, most scholars who study that would say that the Bible is without a doubt and by far the most authentic ancient manuscript we have. Nevertheless the Muslim claims that his book has no diverse reading at all.

The Muslim is going to say “You have a corrupted book, I have an uncorrupted book, if there’s a contradiction between the two, most likely it’s your book that’s made the mistake and not mine.”

At a point like that, I wouldn’t suggest that you get into worldviews and so forth. I think you just need to deal with the factual claims on their own footing. When Muhammad died, the surahs had not yet been established for the Koran. The surahs were established during the first talif, and then the third talif called in all the copies of the Quran and destroyed those that didn’t agree with his.

I’d like to look at the philosophy of the Muslim worldview. There are two doctrines that Muslim theology refers to:

1.Tanzih: Allah has no characteristic whatsoever that hints at impermanence such as change, alteration, weakness. Allah cannot be affected by the actions, or even the attitudes, of his creatures. He is so far beyond them, so far unlike anything in us that there is no change in him whatsoever.

2. Mukhalafa: Allah is so different from his creatures in the created order that he cannot be properly described in any category of human experience. You talk about love, anger, comfort, or any category that you understand in terms of human experience; you can’t talk about Allah that way. Allah is completely different from us. If what Muslim theology says about Allah is true, how could any Muslim know anything about Allah? Allah is so different from us, so unaffected by anything in us, and so totally unlike anything that we experience that he cannot be described in any human category, but that’s all we have is human categories. Our language is tied to our experience. Consequently, Muslims have protected the transcendence of Allah in such an absolute way that they’ve made the Quran an impossibility. If Allah were as transcendent as this theology claims, then Allah cannot have revealed himself in the Koran. Actually, it couldn’t have revealed itself in the Koran, because “he”is part of our experience too. Islam is a very male dominated religion. If Allah is beyond all categories of human experience, then don’t call Allah a “he”. It’s an “it”, and nothing can be said about it, and it cannot say anything about itself in terms that we would understand. Therefore revelation from it (Allah) would be impossible.

According to Muslim apologetics, Deuteronomy 18, which talks about a prophet greater than Moses coming, refers not to Jesus, but to Muhammad. Why? According to them, Jesus was not a lawgiver–Moses was. They reason that if a prophet is going to be greater than Moses, he should be a lawgiver. The problem with that objection is that Jesus was a lawgiver. Any Christian commentator will tell you that the sermon on the Mount is the parallel to Moses on the Mount. Jesus gives the law of the kingdom from the mount.

They also say that that part of Scripture can’t refer to Jesus because Christians view Jesus as the son of God, and not as a prophet. But the answer is that we believe that Jesus was the son of God, who was the prophet, priest, and King.

Finally, they say that the Gospels do not consist of words that God gave to Jesus. But Jesus said “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.” –John 12:49 So here we have Muslims that are not familiar with the claims of the Bible.

There’s another interesting claim made about John 14:6, 15:26; 16:7, where Jesus promises the coming of the comforter. Muslims claim that Jesus prophesied about the coming of Muhammad, who is the comforter. But in John 14:26, Jesus Himself explains the coming of the comforter, who will be sent by His father, which would take place just a few days after He said that. So it doesn’t wait for 600 years to the coming of Muhammad at all. What you have here is a group of people going to the Bible, the law and the Gospels, to find anything that might give some support to Muhammad, but it’s very weak. Anyone can make religious claims. When someone shows up at your door making such claims, you can say that if their claim is not deemed to be arbitrary, they must give reasons to accept the claims.

Muhammad has no basis for being accepted. He worked no miracles. it’s hard to see how a man who spent 20 years of his life killing other people could be compared to Jesus in terms of being a prophet of God. In the end it’s going to come down to “What did this man say?”And what this man said does not put together a consistent worldview, and what he claimed to be saying in the name of God, he could not have been saying in the name of God if God is what he said God was.


4 thoughts on “Greg Bahnsen’s Critique of Islam

  1. Thank you, Pat. I do truly appreciate your labor of love and work of faith in reproducing Dr Bahnsen’s exemplary notes. I was just blessed by his book on Van Til’s apologetics, and Dr Bahnsen’s commentary on them. This book alone is sufficient for a whole course (undergraduate and post). What would be wonderful would be Dr Bahnsen’s audio messages made available. I know we can get them for a fee from Covenant Media.


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