New Testament

Is the Christmas Story Historical?

The Nativity and, in particular, the virgin birth has increasingly come under attack from liberal scholarship in recent years. Those committed to a naturalistic worldview dismiss the virgin birth of Jesus as fanciful. Muslims and Christians, on the other hand, are both agreed that Jesus was born of a virgin. The nativity story is somewhat different, however, in the Qur'an. Surah 19:17-23, for instance, tells us that the virgin Mary gave birth "at the trunk of a palm-tree" in a "remote place". The Christmas story is thus quite dissimilar. Muslims thus, along with atheists, often call into question the historicity of the Biblical version of the nativity story. Some have even questioned whether Jesus was born in Bethlehem and whether Mary and Joseph’s venture to this town was prompted by the Roman census as recorded by Luke. In this article, I discuss these questions.

The Authorship of Mark's Gospel, and Why It Matters

The Authorship of Mark's Gospel, and Why It Matters

The traditional attribution of the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) has come under immense fire today from higher critical scholarship. Bart Ehrman, a well known New Testament textual critic at the University of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has for a long time been a favourite skeptic of Muslims around the world. In his popular-level book Jesus Interrupted, Ehrman writes (page 101),

"There were some books, such as the Gospels, that had been written anonymously, only later to be ascribed to certain authors who probably did not write them (apostles and friends of the apostles)." 

The Muslim is committed to this view. If the gospels really were written by the individuals whose names they now bear, this presents a problem for Islam. Why? The Qur'an, in Surah 3:52 and 61:14, claims that Jesus' disciples were Muslims. If the gospels were indeed written by their canonical authors, then two of those (Matthew and John) were prominent disciples, and the other two (Mark and Luke) were approved by apostles. In this article, I am going to focus only on the gospel of Mark.

There are at least four reasons to think that this gospel was indeed written by Mark and that it communicates the teachings of the apostle Peter.

The Damascus Road Conversion of St. Paul: Fact or Fiction?

The Damascus Road Conversion of St. Paul: Fact or Fiction?

Muslims are often quick to dismiss the letters of the apostle Paul. In a previous blog post, I showed why there is good reason to think that Paul's message was largely consistent with the message of the Jerusalem church, and why this presents a problem for Muslims. Here, I want to present another reason why Muslims need to start taking Paul more seriously. In this blog post, I want to examine the historical evidence bearing on Paul's conversion experience. What transformed the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus -- a persecutor of Christians -- into the great apostle Paul, arguably the greatest evangelist who ever lived? Did Paul really come to believe that he had a vision on the road to Damascus that he interpreted to be Jesus Himself? If so, then what best explains the origins of this belief? It is these questions that concern us in the present article. 

How Does Paul's Relationship with the Jerusalem Church Present a Problem for Islam?

How Does Paul's Relationship with the Jerusalem Church Present a Problem for Islam?

In a previous article, I offered a simple reason why the Qur'an cannot possibly be the word of God, since the proposition that the Qur'an is the word of God entails a necessary contradiction. Here, I am going to present an equally compelling reason to reject the Qur'an as the word of God. 

As I alluded to in my previous post, the Qur'an contends that the disciples of Jesus were Muslims. According to Surah 3:52,

“…when Isa [Jesus] sensed disbelief in them, he said: “Who are my helpers in the way of Allah?” The disciples said: “We are helpers of Allah. We believe in Allah; so be our witness that we are Muslims.”“

So according to the Qur’an, there is no question that the apostles were Muslims, under Jesus. But what if we could establish that the teaching of the apostles differed starkly from the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur'an? Here’s an argument to ponder:

Premise 1: If the original disciples of Jesus rejected core Islamic teachings, Islam is false.

Premise 2: The original disciples of Jesus rejected core Islamic teachings.

Conclusion: Therefore, Islam is false.