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What the Gospels Mean to Muslims

By Gary Miller, Ph.D. Mathematics, Kansas
Transcribed from a videotape

HOW SOME CHRISTIANS PRESENT THEIR SCRIPTURES

The Muslim used to have probably a very different attitude about the gospels than he does today. I’m just speaking of the majority or large segments of the community who use to feel much differently than large segments of the community feel today. And most of the blame for that I suppose could be placed on one hand on the Muslim and on the other hand on some of the Christian community and how it was they present the gospel. So I have to talk a little bit about that, I am trying to clear the air both for the Muslim and the Christian, and the interested bystander.

You see the Quran commands the Muslim to show respect for the books of other people, their religious scriptures. That commandment was abused by certain, I stress just certain, missionary efforts. By taking these verses that relate to the respect for scripture out of their context, and quoting them back to the Muslims saying, "Look, your book says my book is true. So read my book and then you’ll be in trouble because you’ll find out that my book is different than your book." And I’m afraid than that the blame must be shifted over to the Muslim who very often never thought about that before but thought that made a lot of sense, and he was letting someone else tell him what his own book said. So it was that before too long when the missionary would on the one hand say your book says you should listen carefully to my book now let me read you my book, the Muslim tended to think that it must be that your book is full of lies.

Even if the Quran says respect the books of other people, it must be that some people have put some lies in there, because I don’t go along with that thing you’re reading. He looked back into the Quran to try to find some verses to justify the position that the Christian changed his scriptures and put some lies in there. And that just made it worse because now the missionary said, "You’re really off your book because on one hand it says believe in our book and on the other hand it says we changed our book. "The problem being that the Quran doesn’t say any such thing of the kind, and these arguments that were first brought forward about 200 years ago are reprinted every year by certain missionary groups. The arguments are old and tired and quite insufficient."

THE QURAN’S THREE ACCUSATIONS

What the Quran really criticizes is not anybody else’s books. It never mentions the Bible, but as a matter of fact neither does the bible, that is just a nickname for a collection of books. What it talks about are scriptures and what it criticizes is the way that some, I stress some people, use their scriptures. It criticizes the handling of whatever people call scripture. It endorses the fact that the truth has been preserved by people, that they have in their scriptures the truth, but they mishandle it.

It makes basically three accusations which probably you could go to any church and the pastor will say those things are true of those people over there.

(I) The Quran says some of the Jews and Christians pass over much of what is in their scriptures.

(II) Some of them have changed the words, and this is the one that is misused by Muslims very often giving the impression that once there was a true bible and then somebody hid that one away, then they published a false one. The Quran doesn’t say that. What it criticizes is that people who have the proper words in front of them, but they don’t deliver that up to people. They mistranslate it, or misrepresent it, or they add to the meaning of it. They put a different slant on it.

(III) And the third accusation is that some people falsely attribute to God what is really written by men.

Now probably in any church there will be people who will say, "Yes, I know a church that does all those three things. They pass over much of what is in their scripture, they‘ve changed things, they put the wrong slant on the words, and they’ve credited God with things that men said. "So really there is not a cause for a problem between the Christian and the Muslim on these charges, the Christian, I would like to think, would generally go along with those ideas."

And again, I stress it only accuses some people of doing that.

DEMONSTRATING NONEXISTENCE

Unfortunately, also, in more recent years, discussions of Christianity and Islam have usually been attacked by the Christian on the Quran or by the Muslim on the Bible. Which is quite an un-Islamic thing to do, that is, to attack somebody’s scriptures. Usually these discussions or presentations are coordinated in such a way as to, for example, the Muslims will be here to blast away at all the errors in the Bible, then the Christian takes a turn blasting away at the Quran. What is really unfortunate and really rather silly about that whole approach is that people who try to do that are trying to do something that’s extremely difficult. They’re trying to demonstrate the nonexistence of a certain item. And I’ll illustrate it in this way, when you assert that such and such a thing does not exist, you have a big job on your hands, if you want to prove it does not exist. If I say there is no such thing as a pink elephant, how am I going to show you that? I have to somehow prove to you that I’ve been all over the world, I’ve looked in every closet, I’ve been everywhere that’s big enough to hold an elephant, and I have pictures to show that there are no pink ones in any of those places. It really can’t be done -- to demonstrate the nonexistence of something.

When people single out errors to say, "Look, there is a mistake in the Bible," they are claiming that no where else in that book is there a verse which would clear up this apparent error. It would be pretty hard work to demonstrate that is the case. It would have to say, okay, here is chapter 1 verse 1, this verse does not clear up that mistake. Now this verse, that does not put a new light on that verse and go through all these thousands of verses to show that there is no verse to clear up what apparently is an error. That would be pretty hard work. The only other way to show that something doesn’t exist is to show that its existence would be self-contradictory and I don’t think that method of proof lends itself to the thing I’m talking about.

As to whether or not there legitimately are errors in scripture it is simply food for thought. It is quickly dismissed by a lot of people to say these are only apparent errors – it deserves a better treatment than that. One, James Barr, who has written a number of books endorsed by the Church of England, has suggested that maybe these apparent errors in the bible are a signal from God. That they are a warning: "Look out, don’t credit me with this, a man did this, I don’t write like that," he said that might be a possible interpretation. So it deserves a better investigation than to simply say, "I’m sure it is only an apparent mistake."

EXPLANATIONS & PROOFS

So more useful discussions are going to be concerned with other subjects, I would hope, rather than just trying to find errors in a book. But unfortunately, people often confuse explanation for proof. That is, you ask a man how do you know that such and such is so, and he tells you how it works. AN EXPLANATION IS NOT A PROOF. I might give you a completely coherent explanation that a television works by Black Magic but that doesn’t prove that it does. It just means you could explain it that way. When the Muslim asks, "How do know someone died for your sins?" and the answer comes back, "Someone has to BECAUSE, etc, etc, etc,God is here, man is there, and we have to pay this debt and so on and so forth." That is an explanation not a proof that it ever happened or will happen or whatever. That is an explanation of HOW it works. AN EXPLANATION IS NOT A PROOF.

It is fascinating to dwell on those explanations and sometimes I do that. Fascinating because virtually all of these explanations are built on analogies and the analogies are always faulty in the first place. That is, people don’t usually even explain things directly, they usually will tell you, "Well, it’s like this." Then they talk about something else. Now they has two problems: they've got to explain this thing and then show you that this thing is really like the other thing. To explain to you that the redemption of man is like a Traffic Court judge who pays the fines for all the guilty parties is a faulty analogy, for example. Because the traffic court judge is not the offended party, the State is offended and the State does not forgive when the State fines someone. Whoever pays the fine is beside the point. That is just to cite one example of a common analogy.

DISCOVERY VERSUS INVENTION

As I mentioned earlier, the real complaint of the Quran is the handling of scriptures, so maybe one of the most important questions that the Muslim would want to stress for those who are discussing the gospel and are trying to show someone the meaning they have discovered; the important question might be to urge a person to ask himself: Did you discover that meaning in the scriptures or did you invent that meaning, then prop it up with what you found in the scripture? It’s an old problem, mathematicians have talked about it for at least 26 centuries: "Did we discover mathematics or did we invent it?" It’s not entirely clear because we make up some rules, then we work with it, then we say look what we’ve found, but, no, did you invent it in the first place or did you find it? It’s a delicate kind of thought and it’s worth examining in the same way as if someone says: "look what I’ve found! the scripture tells me such and such; it may well be that it’s a discovery but possibly it was a preconceived idea that now fits what is read."

Of course, the Bible has been read in a great many different ways, a great deal of emphasis is place by some on the Crucifixion as being THE salvation of man. Yet according to the 19th chapter of Luke, Jesus told a certain Zacchaeus, "Today salvation has come to your house." He didn’t say next week when I die that will be when salvation comes. He says, Today, salvation, whatever that means, has come into your house. It is rather easy to read that and think that the Crucifixion is not quite what someone told it was. That is a possibility.

The 14th Chapter of John has two favorite verses but the whole thing, when put in its context, doesn’t read quite the way a lot of people tell it, that is on the one hand Jesus says, "No one comes to the father but through me". It is often quoted in order to establish some kind of an idea that if man is reaching for God, you’ve got to talk to Jesus first or go through him or whatever. When put back in its context, the whole subject of that chapter is not so much man reaching for God but God reaching for man. That Jesus says that I came to show you God, Philip says show us the Father, Jesus says you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father. He didn’t seem to be claiming divinity because in the first place he’s suppose to be the son not the father.

And in the 5th Chapter of John, he says, No one has ever seen the father. My point here is that I’m not going to try to reinterpret the Bible: I’m just trying to show that sometimes it just as easily reads in quite a different way as the EXCLUSIVE way some have tried to put on it. It is not _ and that’s a more recent development I suppose _ the Muslim’s job to try and reinterpret the Bible. There are plenty of people busy doing that. There’s plenty of cultists who will tell you that they’ve found everything in there from flying saucers to word processors.

TWO STREAMS OF CHRISTIANITY

It’s not the Muslim’s job to find some novel twist on the meaning. It’s merely his job to remind an individual that if you are sure about what it says ask yourself again: Did you have that in your mind before or did you really discover it? This means an encouragement to think and there are different views on that subject as to whether it’s a good idea to think or not.

There are in a sense two streams of Christianity, and the Muslim, as a foreign student, is usually quite confused because he never thought about that before. He comes to this country and he turns on the television one Sunday morning after a few minutes he thinks that must be Christianity. He’d never seen a Christian before in his life, possibly. And certainly in the minds of those people speaking they have Christianity. But what the Muslim is sometimes unaware of is that, he has spent some years in the country, and never caught on to the fact that there’s a lot of people who call themselves Christians but they have nothing to do with what was seen on television that Sunday morning.

There are widely different views. And one of the things which divides these streams concerns the understanding of the term "lost." What does it mean when somebody is lost? Does it mean that he isn’t saved or does it mean something else? You might ask the question this way, is an explorer lost? If a man is going into a land where no one has ever been before, is he lost? Well, one branch of Christianity would tend to say, "Yes." Another branch would say, "No, he is an explorer, he is not lost, he’s exploring the territory."

The problem the Muslim has is not with the man who will tell you that explorers are not lost. He has a problem with the man who tells you, "Until you find what you’re looking for, you’re lost." That stream of Christianity is the one that gives him the problem, because that is the stream of Christianity that does an awful lot of study and preparation but does not encourage a reinvestigation, an objective investigation of things. As an example, I suppose that the key question or a test question to all Muslims, as it is put to them by those who are anxious to bring them into the fold, they want a yes or no answer to the question: Is Jesus Divine? Is he divine, yes or no? Which skips a very important matter. The question is what is that supposed to mean? What do you mean, is he divine?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

It was Spinoza, a few hundred years ago, who was a Jew, at least by heritage, then he withdrew from the Jewish community. He was quite a philosopher and felt alienated from that community and there were Christians who came to him and said, "Now, of course, that you’ve left the Jews you will become a Christian." He said that, "Maybe, I will when I understand what you’re talking about." His main thing was to stick to the definition, "I hear the words but I don’t know what they mean." You tell me that God became man, what do you mean, like my father became dead or like ice became water? You mean once there was God and he squeezed himself down and now he’s a man, he used to be God, what do you mean? The words sound like one thing but the actual definition is pretty hard to explain if it ever has been explained.

As a matter of fact, the insistence on the humanity and divinity of Jesus is a puzzling thing for the Muslims, not trying to be a smart Alec. He’s trying to ask simple childlike questions. What is that suppose to mean? Because on the one hand he’s told, "God is 100% Holy, that’s why God can’t deal with sinful man, man is sinful, he’s down here and God is 100% Holy. So we need a mediator." The Muslim asks, "How Holy is the mediator, 50%? - 51%?" The answer is, "No, no, he’s a 100% Holy, he’s God!"

Well, now, we still have this problem. If the problem is that God because of his Holiness can’t deal directly with man, we HAVE NOT really put anyone in the middle if he is still God. Again, it is said that God cannot deal with the sinners, and yet Jesus used to eat with them, according to the Bible. It didn’t seem to annoy him to get that close to a sinner.

MUSLIM EXPECTATIONS – WHAT THE GOSPELS ARE

My main point is this, however, as the title was announced WHAT THE GOSPELS MEANS TO MUSLIMS. To the Muslim who has studied it and investigated it, and it has been a topic among Muslims for hundreds of years -- The Muslim does not really expect that the gospel, the message of Jesus, contains any theology in the first place.

There is a verse that is often quoted from the Quran to the Muslim, which says that the Jews and the Christians should have stood fast by their Torah and their Injeel, and they would be successful. If you put that all in its context what is under discussion is the fact that some of the Jews and Christians had complained that they were not successful, they did not have a Christian state. And they were told in the verses leading up to this in the Quran that the reason for that was they had ignored the rules and the advice giving to them in their books, the Torah and the Injeel. Saying: If they had done what Jesus said to do, they’d be today successful.

So, the Muslim does not expect there’s any theology in there, whatever the gospel is, it’s a bunch of advice and rules of conduct. It doesn’t deal with subtle and convoluted definitions of the nature of God and a whole manufactured Greek vocabulary to describe all these various subtleties. And ironically enough, there are four books that go by the name Gospel, and the only one with any theology of any significance is the Gospel According to John. The irony is that’s the only one of the four gospels that doesn’t have the word Gospel in it anywhere. That is, if people would explain theology from the words of Jesus they have to quote from John, not from Matthew, Mark, and Luke which call themselves gospels or at least mention the gospel.

I know how the rest of the argument goes, I’m not trying to ridicule anybody, and I’m just trying to show you that I’m familiar with it. I’ve heard it many times. The documentation of the life of Jesus is usually cited as being a proof of the theological claims.

That is people will usually start by saying, "But look, the Jews who were right there with him, they understood him to claim divinity." So they did. The problem is, did they understand him correctly or not. His disciples didn’t seem to know what he was talking about. We are all the way to the 16th chapter of Matthew, before Peter gives some kind of a theological statement, and Jesus congratulates him saying, "You didn’t even know that until it was revealed." Evidently it was not very obvious what Jesus had been saying to that point.

But on the other hand, to the Jews every time he opened his mouth he was claiming to be God. It may well be that the Jews were misunderstanding him. And that is precisely the point of the 10th chapter of John. Where the Jews accused him of blasphemy, claiming equality with God, and the rest of the verses continue on to have Jesus go on and defuse the situation. To show them that if they listened more carefully to what it is he said -- if they read there own scriptures more carefully -- they’d see they have NO grounds for a claim of blasphemy.

SON OF GOD, SON OF THE DEVIL

He doesn’t congratulate them on their insight -- That they heard him right, it’s too bad they don’t like it. No, he goes back to show them that they cannot convict him according to anything he just said. Both the Jews and Jesus used the term son of God of themselves and one another. What did they mean? Did they both mean the same thing? Or did they mean differently? According to the 8th chapter of John, the Jews came to Jesus and said, "We are sons of God." He said, no, no, I’m the son of God, you’re sons of the devil.

Well, why should the one be a great theological statement: "I’m the Son of God," capital "S", and, "You’re sons of the devil" figuratively speaking, of course. Perhaps they were both talking about the same sorts of things, figuratively, at that time. In any case, as I said, the encouragement is to think these things through and there is a number of standard objections that are made. That is, if a person thinks too hard about these things he may be told, "If you are going so deeply into something you are forgetting something very important: the Bible is written for simple people."

Interestingly enough, the same people who say that really mean to tell me that your problem is you haven’t consulted an expert. You see, on the one hand, you are told it is written for simple people, and in the same breath you’re told the reason you don’t understand it is because you don’t know enough about it. You should go and ask this man, he studied it for years. Those are really quite contrary ideas.

TO THINK OR NOT TO THINK

Thinking will lead you astray people have often said. In fact, I’ve heard it said, "Thinking will lead you astray, I want you to think about that." Now, put that all together, you see, is the thinking going to lead us astray, that certainly is a subject for thought, right, that I might go astray, it’s a tangled little knot, the common statement: This is a substitution of slogans for thinking. Another common statement is: "If you will surrender your own judgment, God will guide you." Well, maybe he will.

But maybe it works like this, maybe God says: "Surrender your own judgment, and I’ll see to it that you go astray." That might be the way things work. That also makes a little more sense, to me. That is after all the view the scientists have, he says, "Set aside your personal preferences and use objectivity." That is keep your judgment when investigating something, don’t be blinded by what you are sure must be the case or what you would LIKE to be the case. Set aside personal preferences. And that’s such a good argument, such a good suggestion, that in fact it is used by some of the very people that I have the confrontation with. Their problem is they say, "Yes, set aside your personal preferences," but in the list of personal preferences they put using your personal judgment. "Your problem is you prefer to use your head. You should suspend your judgment."

THE GOD-MAN THING

The objective questions that at least I would suggest are maybe not the ones that people might expect. I think that most often a Christian feels he has a duty to convince the Muslim that Jesus is divine and the Muslim feels he has a duty to prove that he isn’t. And that could be an endless discussion but I feel that’s not a very worthwhile point to get into. I suggest that some of the problems become more apparent if the Muslim asks the Christian to prove the humanity of Jesus.

To say, whatever you say he was, I’ll grant you that except for this one thing, prove to me that he was a man. How do you know he wasn’t God and disguised like a man? Prove he was a man. What did he do that God can’t do, that only a man can do? Prove he was a man. There’s only one thing: What did he do that God can’t, you have to be a man to do it. The Christian will tell you, "He died." See God can’t do that. Only a man can do that. The problem then is that, that same death is supposed to be the saving act that man can’t do only God can do. That is to say, if we crucify a man it won’t save anybody from his or her sins, on the other hand you can’t kill God, only a man can die.

As one Muslim put it, about 850 years ago, he said they have an idea about God, man, and a God-man. They’ll tell you what we crucified is the God-man. A God-man -- What it really comes down to is that God lived and the man died. That’s not really crucifying a God-man. Anymore than if I tell you I had a sandwich for lunch I had a piece of cheese. A sandwich is bread and cheese.

To kill a God-man, but to say only the man died, not the God, then that is what happened, not the God-man thing. And these are not novel ideas; these are things appreciated by the mainstream of Christianity. There has always been a doctrine of Incarnation that’s well defined, there’s never been a defined doctrine of atonement, how exactly it’s suppose to work – YOU DON’T FIND THAT EXPLAINED IN ANY ANCIENT OR MODERN DOCUMENT. You find a lot of talk about it but there is no creedal statement on that idea because it has never really been figured out – how it is supposed to work. I’m not claiming that proves it doesn’t work, I’m just saying that it is still an open issue.

HUMAN ACTION & SALVATION

I know that there is a great concern, and the Muslim who is pestered or annoyed by people who are anxious to have him come along to their church. He may feel annoyed but at the same time he has to appreciate that people may have a proper intention in all of this and that they are genuinely concerned. Their concern, though, is related to, often anyway getting someone to take an action, which brings about salvation. And there is an interesting point about salvation here, and human action. That is, suppose there is an act that is connected with salvation, a human act, and it has to do with a man being saved.

Well, according to the fundamentalist view, if there is such an act, and IT IS NECESSARY for salvation, then that same act cannot be sufficient for salvation. That is, if it is something that we must do, then it is, in itself, not enough for salvation. I’ll explain why in a moment. Conversely, if there is an act which if you do it, IT IS ENOUGH to be saved, it is sufficient, then that same act is not necessary. That is, if it is enough then it is not required. It will do the job but so will something else: Don’t NEED to do that thing.

The reason being that if there is a human act which is both necessary and sufficient for salvation, then you have a human act which is equivalent to salvation. That goes against at least one branch of Christianity in a basic tenet: There is nothing a man does that is equivalent to his salvation. But that is what you get when you have these two directions of the Aerial implication: It is necessary and sufficient. That means if and only if a man is saved, IF AND ONLY IF this or that means A is equivalent to B. It is a difficult position but it is a position that some have created for themselves.

APPRECIATING LIMITATIONS AND DUTIES

Salvation, as it happens, is not precisely the concern of the Muslim in the first place. That is, the Quran does not say anything about it: Salvation. It talks about men being lost but it draws as a contrast not that they are lost or they are saved. The contrast is that a man may well be lost or it maybe that he has gained something: He is successful to some extent, to varying degrees. He loses out completely or he gains something and maybe more than somebody else does. YOU LOSE OR YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL. It is not a question of black and white. IT IS NONE OR SOME, not all or none. So the Muslims’ real concern is concerning his actions. He wants to appreciate his limitations and his duties. That’s basically all.

It is interesting enough that it is the nature of proof that if something is impossible, it is theoretically, or in principle at least, subject to being proved. You can’t always prove when something is possible. But if something is impossible that is always open to proof and it is always open to proof if something is necessary. You can’t always prove that something is unnecessary. You can always demonstrate that something is necessary. So it is that it can always be established what it is a man cannot do and what it is he must do -- His limitations and his duties. That is what the Muslim is trying to find out about. Not so much about how to get saved, he’s trying to find out which things are a waste of time because they cannot be done and which are things that I cannot overlook, that I must do.

SUMMARY

Now to go back, in a kind of summary, I suppose there are two thoughts that came up here. I spent a lot of time, and maybe more then I should have, on the treatment of Scripture and how it is viewed. For the most part that is for the benefit of the Muslim. I tried to get across to the Muslim that not everybody who calls himself Christian has the same ideas about what the Bible does, what it is suppose to do. They are varying views on that.

It is one stream of Christianity that says the Bible is inerrant, "These are the words that God spoke." Even in the places where he said he didn’t, I guess, because there are places like that. Paul said in one place: What you are about to read didn’t come from God. There are those who say these are God’s words precisely. The mainstream of Christianity doesn’t go along with that.

When the apparent errors are cited the usual retreat is to say, "These are errors of transmission, that is, these mistakes were not there in the original manuscripts." Which might be true but we’ll never know, will we? Since no one has the original manuscripts. It makes it a pretty empty claim to say I have a perfect book I just can’t get my hands on a perfect copy. What good is this book if you don’t know what used to be in it? It has not been so well preserved historically. At this point, the two streams of Christianity tend to meet because they will both say, "Yes but all these apparent errors do not touch on major doctrine in the first place." Personally, I disagree with that {Atonement being one issue}.

The mainstream of Christianity will try to tell the other branch the reason for that is the Bible, itself, doesn’t talk very much about major doctrines. That’s the reason why these verses that may have been miscopied don’t touch on major doctrine because most of the Bible doesn’t in the first place. That’s what Martin Luther said about the Bible, that most of it is irrelevant. His basic philosophy was that unless a verse talks about a certain subject, his particular pet subject, he says that it is doubtful that is scripture. In his edition of the Bible, he took the books of James, Hebrews, and Revelations and put them in the back, like an appendix, because he said that they don’t belong up here with the rest of the scripture. A hundred years later, they were moved back. The point is that the attitude that all of it is of equal value is an old and even fundamentalist position – well, they won’t go along with that – to say not all of it speaks in the same way. It doesn’t very often really touch on major doctrine. So the next step in this explanation is to say, "But we know that the doctrine has been transmitted historically correct because that is what the Bible is about, it is a record of a continuity of the Christian community." That is largely true but remember the original objection was that this document of historical continuity has suffered some problems in the continuity. It hasn’t been that well translated.

Regarding thought, I was trying to encourage the idea of thinking about these things. There is just one final suggestion I would make there: Beware of a lot of things that pass for proof. Very often what people consider proof of something is a proof of something which is unreasonable by nature. That is, a person will tell you about a certain doctrine. You say that makes no sense. They’ll tell you, yes, it is beyond reason and look, "I have proof that it is true!" That is self-contradictory.

If you produce a proof of something that is unreasonable, then something is wrong with your proof. The scientist who does a thought experiment in his mind, "If A is true then B is true, that would mean C and therefore D – and that’s crazy! Wow, let me call the newspapers. I’ve proved a crazy thing." He doesn’t do that. When he arrives at something that makes no sense, he goes back and thinks well I must have started with a wrong assumption or something is faulty with my argument. We don’t rejoice at an unreasonable conclusion by process of reasoning. Something is wrong with the proof is the usual signal.

So those are some thoughts, and I’d actually be more interested in what you’re thinking than what I’m thinking. If you have some questions or comments, don’t be shy to speak up. Thank you for your time and attention, in any case. Don’t do that. {Miller politely objects to APPLAUSE by a Christian audience of 40 or so people}

Questions &Answers

QUESTIONER1: Can we ask you questions not exactly on the Gospel but on…

DR MILLER: Sure

QUESTIONER1: In relationship to some words that we hear: Sunnis and Shi’ite. Like we understand Protestants and Catholics, so…

DR MILLER: Yes, it’s not quite parallel to that, historically, those are really nicknames that were bestowed on people, I don’t think people at least years ago deliberately told you, "I am Sunni or Shia or Wahabi" or something like that. Those are nicknames bestowed from outside. Just as I don’t think the first protestant said, "I am protestant." That is a label that came on. That basically refers to different approaches to certain issues. The labels were unknown until some period of time after the time of the prophet I am saying, well, at least 250 years before people were using these kinds of things. And Shia just came from an Arabic word which means "party" like the Republican party, that sort of thing. It was kind of a nickname bestowed on people who claimed to historically belong to a certain party loyal to a certain man. Others put the emphasis on saying that the loyalty is not to a certain bloodline but to a certain code of behavior. That is basically the root meaning of Sunna, which has to do with characteristic behavior or habit or whatever. That is how these two nicknames came about: One said we want to follow the behavior of a certain group of people; and, the other group wanting to emphasize the line of descent of people. They are roughly divided 90% to 10%. Some of the issues that divide are much more important to a small group of people than they are to the bulk of individuals. That is to say, if you approached someone and said I take this position and I am against the position you take, chances are he doesn’t know about either one of those positions. It is like a layman trying to debate the matters that Church councils take up. Usually they don’t even know what it is they are talking about in the first place. Most of those issues are far removed from people, or if they have an idea of what those issues are, it maybe some simplistic view of one or the other favorite thing they carried over. I hope that’s helpful.

DR MILLER: Yes (pointing to the next questioner)

QUESTIONER2: I was just curious how does a Muslim, how does he know that he has eternal life, what does a Muslim believe once he dies in sin?

DR MILLER: Well, as to exactly what happens to him, there are all kinds of stories about that, nobody really knows. MAYBE DEATH IS AS INTERESTING AS LIFE. It’s like saying what’s going to happen to this baby now that it is born (referencing an infant screaming and crying out in the audience)? What’s going to happen now that this man has died may be a very complicated thing, too? The first part about what you are asking is how does he know about where he stands?

Look at it in this way, the Quran says that on the final judgment that the record of each man will be put in his hand. He knows by that record what the decision is what the verdict is. There are no surprises. It is not going to be the case where someone looks over his record and is thinking, "This looks pretty close, I hope the judge is in a good mood today." (Audience laughter) It’s going to be very clear by the record.

So given that that is the case, anybody at any given moment should be able to stop and think, "What if I died right now? Am I ready or not?" The difference between that approach and the approach of some at least who would say, "I KNOW that my well being is looked after," is some of those who would say that, "I know that I am saved and a week from tomorrow I’ll still be saved." Whereas the Muslim would say, "I am ready to die now, a week from tomorrow ask me a week from tomorrow." That is he knows what the situation is to now.

There is a confidence there I guess which the Muslim doesn’t often talk about, there is the story of one of the men of 14 centuries ago, he was about to be executed, in fact crucified, by the people in Mecca, Hubaibe (a.s.), I am thinking of. The people who were about to kill him said, "You can have a moment to make some prayers if your want." So he prayed very quickly and then he came back, "I would have prayed longer but you would think that I was stalling and I was afraid, and I am not, let’s get on with it, I shortened my prayer." So he was quite confident of what the situation was at that point. That is distinctly a possibility. It is just a matter of being honest with yourself, to say why have I done what it is that I’ve done, what are my intentions, what brought me to here. Is it good or is it bad? That’s something you know from the inside.

QUESTIONER2: So how do you know the things that you’ve done throughout your life whether God thinks they’re good enough for Him? I’m saying you appear before Him when you die, how do you know that it is good enough?

DR MILLER: It is not a question precisely of what is done, it is a question of intentions. That is, it is said that if a man made up his mind to do a good thing and he got up to leave the house to go do it and fell and broke his neck and died, the credit is his as though he did it. Because what matters is that he was of that frame of mind that he was intending to do that. Whereas if a man made up his mind to do a bad thing, and he broke his neck on the way, he has committed no crime, too bad that he was in that state of mind -- but he has committed no crime. In the third case, if a man made up his mind to do a bad thing and then changes his mind he has credit for changing his mind.

You see it is a matter of the intention, what is the frame of mind that you are in, NOT NECESSARILY THE VALUE OF YOUR ACTS. The good things that people do have a certain value but they really don’t add up to anything like the compensation that comes back. As the one verse says, The punishment that men receive is exactly equal to the wrong done but the reward they receive is 10 times greater than any good they’ve actually ever done. That using the figure 10 apparently figuratively, just to say penalties correspond with crimes, but rewards are much greater than any particular good thing that was done.

QUESTIONER2: Well, my point would be, how do you know that your intentions are good enough?

DR MILLER: Well, it’s a matter of being perfectly honest with yourself. That is all and that takes practice.

QUESTIONER2: How do you know that what you intend as good is good in His Sight?

DR MILLER: Well, it sounds like, and I’m not trying to make fun or anything, but that’s a problem sometimes psychologists talk about called "scruples." Those are people who are paranoid about their own motivation. It is always good to ask why do I do this, and you’ve got to be honest with yourself, but you drive yourself insane if you are continually trying to accuse yourself of wrong doing. To think back, "When I was six years old, I remember my mother picked me up. Was I sexually aroused?" That is mentally ill but people can get into that state of mind if they are always doubting what was my intention. It good to on a regular basis to ask yourself why do I really want to do this thing, but if you are convinced that, "I’ll never know," then you are losing your mind. If you are convinced that you'll never know your own mind, I think you’ve lost it.

QUESTIONER2: The point I’m trying to make is that you will never know.

DR MILLER: I disagree one hundred percent. You are saying a man will never know his own intentions and I saying that is should be an easy thing to do.

QUESTIONER2: The point is you will never know.

DR MILLER: Okay, then you have your opinion and I have mine. I think it is rather easy to know your own intentions.

QUESTIONER3: I think I understand his question. I’m not trying to reword it but what I’m trying to think of is the comparison of two people. If your intention is to do one thing: to wear a coat and tie because you think it’s a good thing to do; and, my intention was to not wear a coat and tie, cause I didn’t think it was necessary. In God’s Eyes are your intentions better than mine or in God’s Eyes is each person’s good intentions, is there a standard of good intentions or does each person do the best they can do according to their own scruples?

DR MILLER: Well, I suppose maybe what you’re, that’s a complex question in this sense. However I answer it, I’m agreeing with something that you’ve wrapped up in a question with which I disagree. You’ve made it sound as though different people have different scruples, and that is basically what I disagree with. On the inside of every person is the same standard. The Quran says that men are made of one sort of thing, they have one kind of a nature, that is human nature. Men are not produced in such a way that some are a little more careful than others, they get to be that way but they didn’t start out that way. They all have the same standards. If people develop different standards it is precisely because of that, they have developed those different standards.

QUESTIONER3: Yeah, so you’re saying that the essence of human would be an across the board, everyone has the same…

DR MILLER: It should be the same

QUESTIONER3: I didn’t hear you say that earlier.

DR MILLER: I didn’t, it’s my fault.

QUESTIONER4: I really appreciate the way you’ve presented yourself, and your obvious intelligence, and your competence in scripture. And I appreciate the gentle approach that you’ve taken both toward Christians and Moslems.

Do you believe that Muhammad taught that God gave the Law to Moses?

DR MILLER: See that’s like one of the questions that are asked when you’re put in a double bind of answer yes or no that eliminates any qualification as to the terminology that is used. And you say, "The Law" given to Moses. That He gave Moses a law I have no doubt. Yes, that is basically the Muslim position. That he gave Moses "THE" Law, which you can pick up from your public library, is another question.

QUESTIONER4: The only Law that we have of Moses goes back to the Dead Sea Scrolls which is about 200 years before Christ. There is nothing older than that and they have essentially agreed with the ones we had before that which were about a 1000 years after, maybe I should say, Jesus. Of course, Muhammad called Jesus Messiah as you know but he didn’t mean what Christians mean, obviously. The reason I’m asking is that the center of the Mosaic Law was blood sacrifice. And in Leviticus 17 it says that without blood sacrifice there couldn’t be atonement made for the soul. And it carries over into the Christian New Testament that there is a blood sacrifice made to make atonement for the soul, which is, of course, the blood of Christ. May I read a passage from scripture to support what I’m saying?

DR MILLER: Go ahead, if it is not that long.

QUESTIONER4: It says, "For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God." That just means that every human being has sinned. And I don’t believe that there is a person in here who thinks they haven’t. "Being justified freely by His Grace through the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus who God has sent forth to be a propitiation." That’s a way of reconciling, an atonement. "Through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins of their past through the forbearance of God."

So the same system of atonement, the reason I’m saying this is because you said that the system of atonement is not worked out very clearly. The same system of atonement applies to the New Testament scripture as in the Old, that is blood sacrifice. That man has sinned and God demands blood in the Old Testament it is animal sacrifice; in the New Testament it’s the blood of Christ.

DR MILLER: Sorry, you had a hard time trying to get that out. I didn’t know that’s what you were getting at. The problem is that you should be arguing with the rabbi who’ll tell you that is not so. I’m always telling people that but they have no reason to believe me, I guess.

I had the good fortune a couple of years ago at Emory University in Atlanta when there was a rabbi in the front row. This same point came up and I mentioned the fact is the Jews have NEVER believed in blood sacrifice actually paying the penalty for sins. If you don’t believe me, ask the rabbi. He stood up, put his thumbs in his suspenders, he said, "The man is quite right!" They do not believe it, and I suggest as a reference in the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, the article, "Redemption." It points out that what you’re talking about, the blood sacrifice actually paying for atonement, is a concept COMPLETELY UNKNOWN to the Jews.

That there were blood sacrifices, for sure, but what they were supposed to do is not the same kind of thing as orthodox Christian doctrine talks about. It relates to such places as the 31st chapter of Jeremiah. You find it in some of the Minor Prophets, the twelve so called Minor Prophets, where it is pointed out that, for example, and it was said that Israel was ransomed from Egypt. The point is made it doesn’t mean that they were paid for. Even though the language reads like that.

Instead of trying to convince you of all that, I would say go and ask the rabbi if that is so. Look it up in the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia or any other reference, on Redemption, where it will show you that the Christian idea does not correspond to the Jewish idea, according to the Jews. They’ve been using the same books longer. It’s a point that the Quran makes, for that matter, it says that the Jews and Christians use some of the same material and yet they disagree. This exhibits a difficulty: At least one of them is mistaken on this issue or various other issues.

As to what these verses themselves may mean when blood sacrifice is talked about in a Christian portion of scripture, there’s room for disagreement on positions. The Universalists and others, for example, said Jesus spoke figuratively about an awful lot of things and it may be unjust to take him figuratively here and literally there. He said that unless a grain of corn dies it won’t grow, he didn’t really mean die, he means it goes into the ground. So maybe when he said I’m going to die he meant something like that and not literally die. It was Paul who said, "I die every day." He didn’t mean I really drop dead everyday and then I get up. He meant something else.

The possibility has been there, it’s not a popular Christian position, but the same words are open to other meanings by other people. I’m not even saying that they’re right but I’m saying this thing is not so unambiguous as it is sometimes portrayed. It is still very much an open issue.

QUESTIONER4: I certainly think that there’s a sense that you are right. Because there are scriptures that say God is not satisfied with the sacrifice of bulls, and the blood of bulls, and so the Messiah answers back, "that a body you have prepared for me."

DR MILLER: Now you see, that is precisely, I shouldn’t have even made it sound like an unkind comment when I was saying it. Sometimes, the suggestion is made that errors in the Bible do not relate to major doctrine, and that’s precisely the one I was thinking of that does. Because if you read in Hebrews the passage which says that a body was prepared for me, look up the Psalm that it’s quoting from, I thinks it’s the 40th Psalm, IT DOESN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT A BODY. It says God made an ear for me. Which relates to an old miscopying of a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures by whoever wrote Hebrews when he mistook two words that ran together that meant "God dubbed me an ear" to God prepared me a body. This major doctrine has been built upon what was a mistranslation by somebody centuries ago.

QUESTIONER4: Well, it’s just a matter of pointing and the Septuagint took it, ah, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture. Of course, took it as body, and so that’s what the writer of the Hebrew put down, and he took his quote straight out of Septuagint, as you say, a wrong translation of the Hebrew scriptures. I realize that is controversial, maybe I shouldn’t have even tried to use it…

DR MILLER: Yes, and I don’t mean to embarrass you, I appreciate your input and I want to give everybody else a chance as well. I don’t want to get into a harangue, anybody else?

QUESTIONER5: This is regarding your God-man dilemma. I was wondering why you chose to exclude any discussion of the physical resurrection of Jesus? That is one of the main bases of showing divinity.

DR MILLER: Why is the resurrection the basis of divinity? I hope I am raised up some day, what will that make me? Divine? Whether or not Jesus was raised up from the dead is another issue, but if I grant you that he was, what does that have to do with him being divine?

QUESTIONER5: It was a physical resurrection.

DR MILLER: I hope if I am raised up, that I look better than I do. I hope that it is a physical resurrection. I don’t really see what that has to do with divinity. It’s a case of show and tell, Jesus is divine: look he is raised up. It is not relevant to divinity.

QUESTIONER5: No body ever died and three days later came back to life.

DR MILLER: I know, suppose I told you no body or suppose I tell you many people. What does it prove? As a matter of fact, the documents that are passed down to us from the Roman empire of 2000 years ago report that this idea of that someone was killed and raised up again was a rather common notion. There’re lots of people making the same claim. There was a Mespheles who had already drawn popularity in an area of the Mediterranean 200 years before the time of Jesus, and it was said of various people. In fact I’ll bet you that you read in the next twelve months in the National Enquirer that somebody was raised from the dead. Reports of it were coming out all the time and these people didn’t think that makes somebody divine.

How many people did Jesus supposedly raise from the dead? I’ve always wondered myself what it was like at the second funeral of Lazarus. A man that was dead then alive again then one day he must have died again. I’d have very mixed feelings as a relative going to bury him again. His actual resurrection doesn’t establish the divinity of Jesus. And Elijah raised an individual from the dead according to 2nd Kings. The resurrection itself is all very interesting but it’s virtually like anything you can point to, how do you demonstrate an Infinite God by pointing to some finite thing?

There’s nothing a human being can EVER point to, that thing that proves the Infinite God. It establishes some power or ability beyond mortal men but to exhibit a thing that a man can look at with his eyes, and say that proves the Infinite Ability of God - It technically can not be done because of THE definition of the God they’re trying to prove. Some Christian theologians have experimented with the idea that God is FINITE, not infinite. That’s very interesting, that solves a lot these problems, I guess.

QUESTIONER6: Okay, now, some Christians claim that Jesus is God but Jesus never said that in the Bible that "I am God and worship me." On the other hand I would like to ask with so many interpretations of what Jesus said is that because nobody wrote it down when he said it? Or is it because it is written so after a long, long time?

DR MILLER: Well, maybe a little of both, I don’t know. There is not a whole lot that is reported that he said anyway. There was one newspaperman in my city, Toronto, he said if you took all the words of Jesus you could print them on the front page of a newspaper. There are not that many words to go on that have been handed down. That was a point that I touched on, there, which I was trying to explain to Muslims sometimes, take it easy.

When I travel around it very often happens that someone meets me at the airport. Somebody I never met before, and he picks up the bag and we head out for the car and before we get to the car, before we’re out of the parking lot, he says, "Does it say somewhere in the Bible that Jesus said he was God?"

The answer is, well, yes and no. It depends upon whether you are looking for precise words or are you looking to find out what did he mean when he said this thing? The Muslim has fallen into what is really an unfair kind of reply. The Christian says look here Jesus says I am THE Son of God. The Muslim says, "Ah, it must be a lie, somebody wrote that there!" When he, Jesus, may have well have said that but now let’s see who was he talking to and what were they talking about when he said that. And who says that "son" should have a capital "S" there and so on. Those are ideas of some of the people who have reproduced these things.

The episode, in particular, that I mentioned where the Jews said we are sons of God his reply was no you are sons of the devil, I am a son of God. When they said son of God they didn’t mean some kind of claim to divinity and when he said you are sons of the devil he didn’t literally mean your grandmother slept with the devil, I don’t think. But why is it that he MUST literally mean when he says, "I am the son of God, only when I say son of God, I mean SON of God, I mean capital ‘S’, Son!" Maybe he did or maybe he didn’t. It is unfair to insist that what he meant was this thing and not something like what the Jews meant when they were having this discussion.

As to whether or not people worshipped him, that is another one of these things that, it is a trick of language, that the Quran accuses some people of doing. Worship used to mean in English, what was WORTHY, worthyship. In Canada we still call the mayor of a city, Your Worship. It doesn’t mean I think he’s God. It’s just how you talk. It used to be in English, that if you stood up when someone came into the room they’d say you worshipped him.

It says in the Bible that a man came to Jesus one day and he worshipped him. If you look literally in the Greek the word there literally means, "he blew him a kiss." Now people have done that to me, I don’t like it, but I didn’t think they were worshipping me like I was God. (Audience laughter.) It’s just what was said. What I’m getting at here is that, I believe it’s the 2nd Chapter of Daniel, it says that Nebuchadnezzar came to Daniel and he worshipped him, in the King James Bible. You point to that and say doesn’t worship here sound more just kind of like a salute? Or he nodded his head toward him or shook his hand or something like that. So in most Modern English translations they changed that to something else. But THEY HAVE LEFT ALONE A VERSE THAT SAYS A MAN CAME TO JESUS AND HE WORSHIPPED HIM.

Today, at least in many English speaking countries, worship has a different flavor than it had long ago. Today it seems to carry a lot of baggage that it didn’t used to have. As I say, it still doesn’t in many British areas, you won’t find that argument cited by a Canadian generally will not point to the place where a man worshipped Jesus. That’s kind of silly. Even a little town of 500 people we call the mayor, Your Worship. It’s just a way of talking.

QUESTIONER4: May I do it again just for the sake of what the Christian scriptures say. It’s your day and I’m not meaning to take it away. You’ve done a good job too. But can I do it with Thomas and read that situation out here?

DR MILLER: I can probably quote it for you without reading it, if you’re talking about "My Lord and my God…"

QUESTIONER4: Yeah.

DR MILLER: See that’s the same kind of…. I think everybody knows the passage…

QUESTIONER4: It’s how Jesus responded that I’m interested in.

DR MILLER: What? How did he respond? Like this, you got it, Thomas, right on the nose?

QUESTIONER4: "Then Jesus said to Thomas reach here your finger and look at my hand." He’s asking him to put his finger into the hole with his hands. "And put it into my side and don’t be faithless but believing. And Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God’." Jesus’ response is "Thomas because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." So Jesus, I think, is backing up what Thomas says. He has him put his hand in the hole in his side and when Thomas calls him my Lord and my God, he blesses Thomas for having seen and believed. He doesn’t say far be it from God that He should have a son.

DR MILLER: Well, the point is there are at least three ways that I know of that Thomas’ words can be taken. I don’t use it as a matter of course but it has happened to me that I’ve been surprised and I’ve said, "My God!" The man in front of me says yes, isn’t it terrible, such and such a thing is true. He didn’t say, no, what do you mean; I’m not God. It may have been an expletive.

He, Thomas, may have said, "My Lord, My God." What Jesus was then talking about was you Thomas didn’t think I was raised up. Now you’ve seen and you believe I’m raised up, so congratulations. Other people won’t get to see the evidence but they will believe. It’s not necessarily an endorsement of some theological statement by Thomas.

In any case, even if Thomas was addressing him, "My Lord, My God," that has precedent in Scripture. The Muslim may not like it but the precedent is there of other people who were addressed as God without being God. When Moses spoke to the angel in the burning bush he called the angel, God. Stephen explains later that it wasn’t actually God that was God’s angel. When God Sends an angel and you speak to him you might call him God.

Moses was told, "I’m sending you as god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet." In fact the word "as" is added in Italics in most English translations, it is not there in the Hebrew. God says I am sending you to Pharaoh, you will be god, as far as Pharaoh is concerned. This and other cases, the precedent is there for a human being or some other being to be addressed as God without being God. Paul talked about Satan as being the god of the world, so there is a question of god as capital "G" or small "g".

There are various ways of looking at it but I‘m not arguing that your understanding is wrong, so much as trying to point out the case in not closed by that. Other things are possible. It is ambiguous. In a session like this it may sound like I’m trying to tell some people that they are wrong. My intention is more to say if you think you have proved something think again. Find something unambiguous or all-inclusive then wrap it up. If you can do that, then I will say, "Yes, you are right."

For now, what passes as proof is largely what is called SYNTHETIC reasoning. That is not a criticism. Synthetic reasoning is when you take a lot of things and you form what seems to be a sensible conclusion. IT IS NOT AN INEVITABLE CONCLUSION. That is analytic reasoning. Synthetic reasoning is when you say it is cloudy, the wind is blowing and the weatherman said rain – It’s gonna rain. That’s synthetic reasoning. You have not proved it’s going to rain.

Analytic reasoning is where you have said A and B makes C, there is no other possibility. That’s analytic reasoning.

These types of things are sold, in my opinion, as synthetic reasoning I’ve never seen it sold any other way. It is very coherent but it is not an inevitable conclusion that one arrives at, OTHER CONCLUSIONS ARE POSSIBLE BASED UPON THE SAME INPUT.

I want to give someone a turn who has not spoken; did I ask you before? (Miller addressing audience)

QUESTIONER7: Sir, we’ve talked about the Christian scriptures and their view of themselves, could you very quickly explain the Quran’s view of itself in relationship to Christian scripture? What validity does it give for its own superiority, if it claims that?

DR MILLER: Yes, to start with, it’s not so much a superior kind of a scripture, if that’s what you mean. That is largely a Muslim misrepresentation, which is an over enthusiastic patriotism.

The Quran does not claim superiority in the usual sense that people are talking about because the Bible and the Quran are different kinds of books. The Quran reads approximately like most of the so-called Minor Prophets and some of the pronouncements of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. It is not like most of the Bible, which are stories. That is, the book of Jonah begins by saying the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, quote, what you are about to read came from God, through Jonah.

Whereas the book of Luke begins by saying, in effect, what you are about to read is what I have gathered and put together because it seemed like a good idea, saying, "It seemed the appropriate thing to do" to gather the evidence and write this story. He doesn’t say, what you are about to read are words God has handed to me and I’m now putting down on paper for you.

Those are two different kinds of things. The Quran is like the former. That is why it is really rather short, it is about 80% the size of the New Testament. It is pronouncements: if you read "I" it is God speaking, if you read "you" it is you, it is God talking to whoever is reading this. So they are different kinds of books, largely.

What it says of previous scriptures for one thing is that it says of itself that it confirms the truthfulness of WHAT IS IN previous scriptures. That is certain things that have fallen into debate, people were arguing about certain things, and if they were really important things the Quran touches on them. To say, it was correctly reported in that scripture on this matter that it really happened like that.

It confirms the truthfulness of previous scriptures, and this verse also in the 5th chapter, also says of itself that it is, and the Arabic word is MUHAYMIN, which maybe best translated by the words, quality control. It is kind of a test against other scriptures. That is, if somebody brings something and says this is scripture and it says such and such, it may well be the Quran says that specifically is NOT so, and the evidence is in that place, go and look. It is acting as quality control in that regard.

But, of course, it does not go step by step all the way through the Bible, the Hindu Gupta, and various other scriptures and say chapter 1 is correct, there one mistake in chapter 2, 3 in chapter 4 and so on. It doesn’t do that. It just talks about certain issues and the advice traditionally given to the Muslim right from the beginning was that if, for example, the Christian comes and he says such and such is true and it says so in my book, and you don’t have a reason to agree with him – then give him the benefit of the doubt. He might be right; he might be wrong but don’t insist he’s wrong. Leave him with it unless you evidence to the contrary.

And so it is, a lot of what Muslims commonly talk about are really things they may have picked up from the Christian or the Jew. Often to their detriment, I’m afraid, they pick up some of the fairytales and carry them over as well. That’s the key, it is confirming the truthfulness of key issues and it’s also setting the record straight on certain other things that people have misrepresented. A great deal else it does not comment on because it doesn’t really matter.

QUESTIONER7: It’s a man-made instrument to confirm or not confirm another supposedly man-made instrument?

DR MILLER: Oh, no, it doesn’t say of itself it is a man-made instrument. As I said, it’s the Speech of God’s commandments. When you read it, it says, "I" as God, and "you" the reader. It’s a pronouncement like as I said some of the 18 of the 66 books of the bible are like that, they don’t just tell the story of so and so, but they say, God told Hosea this, quote. It’s of that nature.

QUESTIONER7: The point I’m trying to make is that its validity is based on the fact that in part that it says it has a right to confirm or not confirm other books of scripture.

DR MILLER: Well, as to its validity, there are various approaches to that. But the one that is easiest to explain is that the Book by its physical existence, the paper and ink, demands an explanation of where did it come from? What it repeats many times is that if somebody says the origin of this Book is such and such, then ask him or her so and so to see if they still thinks that’s true. In another place, If they think this Book came from such and such, remind them of this. So a person is confronted with the Book and has to come up with an explanation of where did it come from, and the person pursuing that comes to the conclusion that that is not so easily answered. All of the usual ideas have probably already been discussed in the Book itself with an explanation of why that can’t be so. You’d better come up with another reason. It’s when you run out of options it becomes a proof by exhaustion. It comes down to either this man was deceived or was himself a deceiver, if you are going to explain all of the facts you need BOTH of those assumptions and the point is they eliminate each other. You cannot at one time think you are a prophet and lie to people about it. You cannot have it both ways. You can be neither a liar nor deceived; you might be one or the other, but you can’t be both. You’re left with still this paper and ink, unexplained – what is its origin?

That’s one way of looking at how does it establish that it deserves respect.

There’s also the influence that it has had. It has accomplished certain things that’s why historians of science, language, and philosophy will still point to the Quran that’s the reason why the Arabs were suddenly civilized after 10,000 years of NO preparation for civilization. Something in that book is a stimulus. I hesitate to mention that, I suppose, because Islam is not an Arabic sort of thing, don’t get that idea. 80% of Muslims don’t speak Arabic, anyway. The point is that it had a sudden impact. That needs an explanation, it calls for some kind of answer.

QUESTIONER8: Is there a difference between the word "gospel" and the word "bible" as it contributes to the scriptures?

DR MILLER: Oh, yes, that’s a point maybe I should have dealt with. He’s asking about words like bible, and gospel. The Quran when it talks about gospel it means Injeel, in Arabic, Injeel, which is related to the Greek, evangel, which is translated "gospel." A long time ago, it might have been better translated as "Good News." Injeel was a message it wasn’t a book some place. It was in the 2nd century that the collections of the accounts of the life of Jesus got the nickname, gospels.

When technically any Christian that makes that distinction to say well these are the four gospels but the gospel of Jesus is a message. It is not these four books. These four books have the gospel in them somewhere. So the Quran is talking about what was it Jesus said not what are those four injeels.

As to bible, that is just an English nickname. It just means library; it is a collection of writings. In other languages, they sometimes don’t call it that, the Germans call it "Helige Geschrift," holy writings. The "Bible" is just a convenient name. The Quran talks about people who use books, or use the book, or book people but it doesn’t say people that use THAT book, the Revised Standard of 1881. People who are in the habit of using a book to support their position are people of the book without spelling out bible or the gospel according to Matthew.



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