Muslim Apologetics: Does God Preserve His Word?
The Qur'an declares:
“No change can there be in the words of Allah” (10:64);
“No one can change His words” (18:27);
“There is nothing that can change His words.” (6:115)
On what basis, then, do Muslim apologists constantly repeat the charge that the Bible- which they acknowledge as originally coming from God- has been corrupted?
When mentioning this quandary on Facebook, my friend Jeremy Sells helpfully noted:
They [that is, the Muslim apologists with whom Jeremy has interacted] claim there was a gospel given to Jesus that was not corrupt or corruptible that speaks of Muhammad. This gospel (which is not changeable) was lost but fragments of it can be found in the current New Testament.
But when- according to the Muslim view- was the gospel (which cannot be corrupted, but can- apparently- be mixed with error, from the Muslim standpoint) lost or subsumed under error?
Jeremy notes that from the Muslim apologists he’s spoken with: “you cannot get a coherent answer.”
Nor would a coherent answer likely be forthcoming. Because we know from clear manuscript evidence (from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus codices, and others) what the text of the Gospel accounts looked like at the time when Muhammad received the Qur’an: that the Gospel accounts we have today are consistent with the Gospel accounts to which Muhammad and the earliest Islamic community would have been exposed. In the places where the Qur’an affirms the Injil, it is affirming the exact Gospel accounts that Christians use today. And yet the author or authors of the Qur'an clearly believe that the Gospel accounts are consistent with what the Qur'an teaches, despite the fact that (for example) the crucifixion of Christ is central to the Gospel accounts but denied in the Qur'an. This leads Dr. James White, in his book What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an, to conclude:
[T]he Qur’an presents such a profoundly different view [concerning what the Bible teaches than] what is actually found in the New Testament especially, that the Muslim is faced with a choice: reject Muhammad as a prophet and the Qur’an as a revelation from God, or accuse the Christians of radically altering their text from what it originally said.
But note that this accusation goes against not only the historical evidence but also what the Qur’an itself teaches concerning divine communication.