How do the Koran and the Book of Mormon compare to the Christian Bible?
They are much more recent than Hindu or Buddhist scriptures, so aren’t they more trustworthy?
According to the writings of each religion, not only are they more trustworthy, but both religions claim that they are the most correct scriptures. By the law of noncontradiction, they can’t both be true. So, how do we evaluate them to determine whether the trustworthiness of each?
That’s what we will talk about in detail in our lesson/podcast today. The podcast is below and below that the transcript of the lesson.
How is the historical truth of the Christian Bible unique? part two
. . . a comparison with the Muslim and Mormon scriptures
Teacher: Yvon Prehn, Bible805
Before we begin, this lesson is part of a 4-part foundational series:
How Truth & History confirm that we can trust the Christian Bible
• #1 What is Truth?
• #2 How do historians determine Truth?
• #3 How is the historical truth of the Christian Bible unique? part one
. . . a comparison with the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures
• #4 How is the historical truth of the Christian Bible unique? part two
. . . a comparison with Muslim and Mormon scriptures
Please plan to listen to or watch all for a full understanding of the topic of why we can trust the Christian Bible.
Also, to review our plan for looking at the various religions and their scriptures
• What follows is not a comprehensive course on world religions, but I trust each presentation is an accurate and respectful representative of each religion. Here is how we’ll do it.
• First, a brief overview of each of these 4 religions— Part One: Hinduism, Buddhism, Part Two: Islam and the Mormon Church.
• Second, how do they define salvation and a life pleasing to God.
• Third, what are their sacred writings, including samples of their scriptures that support their beliefs.
• Fourth, what are the historical anchors in their scriptures that support their claims? We will look briefly at geography, archeology, and source criticism, the document history of their scriptures.
• Last, will then look at how each one views Jesus and the historical basis for that view.
Overview history of Islam and the Koran
• Islam was founded much later than Christianity—Mohammad born in 570 AD and lived in Arabia (modern day Saudi Arabia) a crossroads of commerce and religious systems. Many around him were polytheistic, but there were also influences from monotheism of Jews and Christians.
• When Mohammad was about 40 Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed from God to him through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning in December 609 A.D.
• Muhammad’s calling was to turn the people from their idolatrous ways to one God, Allah.
• Muslims consider the Quran to be the only revealed book that has been protected by God from distortion or corruption.
• According to the traditional narrative, several companions of Muhammad served as scribes and were responsible for writing down the revelations
• Muhammad’s himself was illiterate, he could not read or write, and this was taken as evidence that the words of the Koran he spoke came from God.
Muslim view of salvation, summary
by Don Stewart
• “Salvation, as Islam Understands It, Is Based upon a Person’s Good Works Outweighing Their Bad. . .
• Since Muslims do not recognize original sin, they see no need for salvation in the Christian sense. There is nothing to be saved from. Consequently, if there was no original sin, there is no need for a Savior. Salvation, in Islam, is based upon the deeds of a person. The Quran says,
• They whose balances shall be heavy shall be blest. But they whose balances shall be light, they shall lose their soul, abiding in hell forever (Surah 13:102-104).
• “In Islam, people are saved by the will of Allah through obedience to his law, the Shari’ah. Consequently, in Islam, a person is to live a good life, pleasing God in all that they do. They are to submit to him and follow his commandments. Religion, to the Muslim, does not mean salvation from sin. Instead, it means following the right path, or the Shariah which mapped out by Islamic law.”
• Another excellent comprehensive article on Muslim view of salvation https://network.crcna.org/ecumenical-interfaith/what-salvation-islam
Contents and form of the Koran, their scripture and source of beliefs
• The Koran as a book is comparable in length to the Gospels. It contains 114 chapters (each called in Arabic a sura) of varying length.
Comments about it from a Muslim:
• “The first revelations from the period of Muhammad’s residence in Mecca are short and incantatory verses. The later revelations from the period after Muhammad immigrated to Medina are longer, legalistic texts appropriate to a developing community of believers in need of rules and regulations.
• The Koran opens with the Fatiha, a beautiful short prayer that serves as an invocation in many situations:
“In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Praise belongs to God, Lord of all Being
the All-merciful, the All-compassionate
the Master of the Day of Doom
Thee only we serve; to Thee alone we pray for succor
Guide us in the straight path
the path of those whom Thou hast blessed, not of those against whom Thou art wrathful nor of those who are astray.”
• Granted, this part is beautiful. The rest of the Koran however contains a great variety of material, some purported history, material on punishment of infidels, stories of other religious leaders, a mixture—a few more examples in a minute.
• The Koran is available for free online—read it, not at all like the Bible—not all beautiful prose.
• One I was afraid to read, as I referred to in my earlier lesson, but it was not at all what I expected.
Additional excerpts from the Koran
• “O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” (Quran: 2, 208)
• God’s curse be upon the infidels! Evil is that for which they have bartered away their souls. To deny God’s own revelation, grudging that He should reveal His bounty to whom He chooses from among His servants! They have incurred God’s most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits the unbelievers.
• Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. . . . . .As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. (Quran 4:34)
• Very mixed in content without historical anchors for when and why various statements are made.
Koran’s Historical Evaluation
• As to historical validity, 2 areas to be considered:
• One, Textual transmission—relatively good, compared to many.
• Koran means “recite” and Muhammad was illiterate, so he recited the words and his companions who served as scribes either memorized or wrote down the revelations.
Shortly after Muhammad’s death, various groups wrote various compilations.
• These different versions motivated a Caliph Uthman (a contemporary of Muhammad and third leader) to gather and destroy varying versions and his version is the primary one for the Koran today. Tenuous historical anchors here.
Two, As to historical truth in general, not as good
• A number of other religions, e.g., Hindu and Buddhism make no pretense of being historically accurate—we can’t critique them for that
• But for the Koran, it is CRITICAL–because according to Islam, the Qur’an is not only credible; it is God’s only uncorrupted revelation.
• However, reality is that the Koran is full of historical errors!
• The Kaaba, which remains the most significant mosque in Islam, is said to have been constructed by Abraham and Ishmael. There is no historical proof whatsoever they did that.
• Numerous other historical narratives that cannot be verified outside the Koran, are recounted in it, such as encounters with Nimrod of the Bible, that Ishmael was the one sacrificed not Isaac, other aspects of the life of Abraham, but most important, what it says about Jesus. First about Abraham.
• Many inaccuracies in the Koran’s view of Abraham’s life, including Ismael, not Isaac the one offered as sacrifice:
• Keep in mind the Koran was written almost 2000 years after the Torah, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, written by Moses was written and the account of Abraham, taken as historical by the Jews and Christians for almost 2,000 years.
• Account in the Koran
037.102 Then, when (the son)[Ishmael] reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practicing Patience and Constancy!”
• So, when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),
Islamic View of the Trinity and Jesus
• Islam sees Jesus as one in a list of many prophets; at the same time denies of Jesus is God and of the Trinity
• In fact, to believe in the Trinity—that God would be three in one, is the unpardonable sin in Islam. It is called shirk.
• Sura 4.171: O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son.
• The belief in the Trinity is of course a foundational belief of the Christian religion and taught throughout the entire Christian Bible—see lesson on the Trinity—I will be getting it up on Bible805.
Muslims believe/list Jesus as a prophet, but
• Deny the reality of his crucifixion.
“This denial chronicled in Sura 4:157 is explicit and emphatic: “They killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them … for of a surety they killed him not.”
• In reality however the fatal suffering of Jesus Christ as recounted in the New Testament is one of the most well-established facts of ancient history. Even in today’s modern age of scientific enlightenment, there is a virtual consensus among New Testament scholars, both conservative and liberal, that Jesus died on a Roman cross.”
http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/is-the-quran-credible-2/• Many disagree as to the meaning of what happened, but the fact that Jesus was crucified is a historical reality
Summary of Islamic Scripture—the Koran—and the historical anchors for it
• Part of it is relatively good in that it was written fairly close to the events in the life of Mohammed that it describes, though not all agree on the final version of the Koran.
• However, the Koran contains much in direct contradiction of Jewish history, Biblical history, and secular world history regarding Abraham and Jesus and in other areas.
• The Koran therefore cannot be “God’s only uncorrupted revelation” if these discrepancies are valid and you don’t have to be a believer of any religion to historically verify that what the Koran teaches on some topics is not factually accurate.
• Interestingly, the Koran is not the only scripture that claims to be totally correct that is easily proved to contain false teachings and that is….
The Book of Mormon
• Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church claimed:
• “The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on this Earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book.”
• It is interesting that two religions claim that.
• We’ve already shown that the Koran is not infallibly correct in its historical errors and we’ll look at the historical verification for the Book of Mormon and the other Mormon scriptures after a brief overview of the religion overall.
Overview of the Mormon Church
• Founded by Joseph Smith
• Began with visions purportedly from an angel Moroni in 1820, who gave him a set of golden plates to translate that became the Book of Mormon.
• Which along with the KJV Bible and other documents, which I’ll identify shortly became their scriptures.
• Joseph Smith also believed all current religions were corrupt and he was sent to restore the church.
• In addition to written documents, Joseph Smith believed his word as the founding prophet had divine authority and he decided the beliefs of his new religion.
Mormon view of salvation
• This is a complicated discussion as more than any other religion, the same terms are used, but have totally different meanings.
• A key example (this is out of order of our previous lessons, but important) is the Mormon view of Jesus.
• Here is how Jesus is described in Mormon literature:
• “Jesus is a separate god from the father (Elohim).
• He was created as a spirit child by the Father and Mother in heaven and is the “elder brother” of all men and spirit beings (including Lucifer).
• His body was created through sexual union between Elohim and Mary. Jesus was married.
• His death on the cross does not provide full atonement for all sin but does provide everyone with resurrection.”
• Christianity, Cults & Religions, by Rose Publishing
• KEY—the Mormon Jesus is a TOTALLY different being than the Jesus of the Bible and of history.
Because the Jesus of the Mormon Church is not the historical Jesus talked about in the Christian Bible
• As their literature states, “His death on the cross does not provide full atonement for all sin.”……so what does?
• Clarification—the goal talked about in the Mormon Church is not so much salvation as “exultation” and attaining to the highest of the 3 celestial kingdoms after death.
• Which is achieved by membership in and obedience to the teachings of the Mormon Church, which include baptism in the Mormon Church only, laying on of hands, a bestowing of priesthood to men only, receiving “temple endowments” through ceremonies in the church, celestial marriage for “time and eternity” only in the church so the couple can progress to godhead and have spiritual children to populate their world. In addition, one must tithe and practice the word of wisdom which means to abstain from alcohol, coffee, and tea, one must attend sacrament meetings.
• One must also practice obedience to the Mormon Church. Obedience is defined by Bruce McConkie a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles of the Mormon Church in this way:
• “Obedience to the Church, its teachings, and the prophet is essential for the Mormon to gain exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest. Remember that perdition or hell is reserved for apostates-those who leave the Mormon Church and resign their membership in it. There is no salvation apart from total obedience of all laws and ordinances of the Church.”
• In summary, salvation in the Mormon church as defined by the Mormon church is a complex set of rules and requirements and is a vastly different thing than “faith alone [in Jesus Christ] by grace alone.
• Excellent summary of Mormon beliefs: https://www.namb.net/apologetics/resource/mormon-plan-of-salvation/
The 4 Mormon Scriptures that support their beliefs, defined, comments follow
• Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations and inspired declarations composed of 138 revelations from God—a large collection of doctrinal pronouncements by early leaders.
• Pearl of Great Price, which is composed of two lost books of the Bible: The Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham, a translation of the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph Smith history, and the Mormon 13 Articles of Faith.
• KJV Bible, “insofar as it is correctly translated” but Joseph Smith believed the Catholic church corrupted it and changed so many passages that it couldn’t be trusted.
• Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is an English translation from the golden plates that was first published in 1830. It reflects Mormon beliefs about Jesus Christ and contains a record of God’s work and Christ’s appearance among the natives of North America.
On the KJV Bible Joseph Smith vs. reality
• KJV Bible, “insofar as it is correctly translated”
• Joseph Smith believed the Catholic church corrupted it and changed so many passages that it couldn’t be trusted.
• Please look back at the lesson on How do historians determine Truth, part two, in which—
• The field of archeology and biblical studies clearly show (based in large measure results of study on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the thousands of other original language manuscripts we possess) that this did not happen, that the Bible we have today is essentially the same as it was when it was first written.
• And if the Bible in its entirety is correct, it directly contradicts much of Mormon teaching.
On the Book of Mormon excerpts:
• And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites.
. . . . .
• And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days. And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman.
• In summary, the Book of Mormon is the history of ancient peoples who lived in the Americas from 2200 BC to AD 421 including a visit of Jesus Christ to them after his resurrection.
• The Mormon Church teaches that Joseph Smith translated the golden plates given to him by the angel from “ancient Egyptian” into the Book of Mormon, but the accounts vary greatly as to how he did it.
Book of Mormon Historical Evaluation
• Book of Mormon sounds like the King James Bible when you read it.
• Story, bits, and pieces of OT history copied and put into it
• HOWEVER, not ONE thing in it that is unique to the Book of Mormon including where it took place or the people in it has been historically, archeologically, or in any way verified by objective sources.
• It is all fanciful, made up legend, not verified in any other way.
• In contrast, our Bible has MAPS, of verified geography, plus past and present histories of people talked about in many secular sources.
• The Book of Mormon is NOT “the most correct book on earth” by any historical, verifiable criteria.
• What if you found an ancient manuscript did verify the teachings of the Mormon church? That actually talked about the pre-existence of souls and the planet Kolob?
• That is what the Mormon church thought they had in a piece of ancient papyri Joseph Smith purchased from a traveling mummy exhibit.
• He “translated it” and it became part of the Pearl of Great price one of their foundational documents that teaches “the idea that God organized eternal elements to create the universe (instead of creating it ex nihilo), the exaltation of humanity, a pre-mortal existence, the first and second estates, and the plurality of gods” (Wikipedia).
• Like earlier copies of the BOM, they thought it was lost in the Great Chicago fire, but it was rediscovered in 1966—you can see pictures of it online today—great excitement followed.
• However, the excitement faded, when non-Mormon Egyptologists translated it and found it was simply an ancient Egyptian funeral text talking about Osiris and various Egyptian Gods and nothing at all about Abraham.
Summary of Historicity of Mormon Documents
• Doctrine and Covenants written by early leaders, accurate in it transmits what they taught, though much of this modified and changed over the years.
• Pearl of Great Price—based on Book of Abraham, rediscovered papyri which in reality was not even remotely what it was claimed to be.
• Book of Mormon—NO historical or geological evidence whatsoever for any of the content in it.
• View of the Bible—that corrupted because of translated so many times, simply false as a historical issue, key evidence many older fragments and particularly the Dead Sea Scrolls, shows the ancient manuscripts are most almost identical with our Bibles today
In addition to their sacred books
• The LDS church subscribes to the doctrine of continual revelation: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Mormons believe such apostolic revelation is inspired, but not infallible, and can supersede previous revelation, including that found in their scriptures. The only one authorized to bring forth new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be accepted the church’s First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and then sustained by the body of the church.
• This has been used to explain many changes in doctrine over the years including teachings on polygamy, previous racist views.
• No historical verification on this—as none claimed.
• If you are to follow the requirement for obedience in the Mormon Church, you must accept this.
Summary of Scripture Overview comparing the Christian Bible with other scriptures
• This has been incredibly brief, check the facts out online about various religions, read the free downloads of the various religious books—no need to fear!
• Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Islam Scriptures are all appealing in their own way, but in reality all filled with tradition, myth, speculation, and in the case of Book of Abraham outright falseness
• Many base their authority based on words primarily of leaders as recorded through tradition and legend.
• Few, if any, historical anchors (locations, people, dates, words) as a foundation for beliefs—and even more, much of the content of many of them is in total contradiction to facts,
• Islam and Mormonism claim to be totally without error but claims to factual history in their scriptures are not verified outside their respective faiths.
• Hinduism and Buddhism make no claims to be historical and evidential and state that followers can believe whatever they want.
Christianity, in contrast:
• The Christian Bible is anchored to real history (actions verified outside the Bible), real geography, real people, archeological support of beliefs.
• These anchors are in more than one or two things—the Christian Bible is permeated with historical anchors—again see the second lesson in this series for a review of it.
• The following lessons on how we got our Bible and going through the Bible will go into detail on this.
• This historical foundation of truth is what the Bible builds on until it comes to Jesus and then his life and development of the Christian church continues on a historical, verifiable base.
• But there is one more thing—in Christianity, not only do have historically verifiable words about our Savior, but—
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
• Christianity claims that the eternal God became flesh and blood in a real place in a real time and that the information written about him was true.
• No other religion has the historical anchors of Christianity. Those historical anchors do not of themselves compel belief, but they should provide a foundation for serious consideration.
• The God made man Jesus came to earth and walked among us, he died, rose again, and one day those who have trusted him as Savior will see him face to face.
Application thoughts of the lessons comparing the Bible with other scriptures
• Toleration is expected, but toleration does not mean saying all religious scriptures have the same validity if the claims of that religion are not backed up by objective historical evidence.
• Be aware of functional practice of false religions in life and culture. e.g., many of the current teachings on mindfulness, Zen, vague spirituality without content—what others have called functional Buddhism—may have some useful ideas, but vague spirituality doesn’t answer ultimate questions and reality—and should be approached with care.
• You can TRUST your Bible—it’s historical anchors are solid!
• Study it so that you can obey the command to: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15