For almost a millennium and a half, Muslims (and almost exclusively Muslims) have said yes. Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and polytheists said no. This was a sharp enough distinction that saying “Muhammad was God’s messenger” (i.e. prophet) was the defining act of converting to Islam. That assertion is the second half of the Shahada (the Testimony), the first half of which (“There is no god but God”) is shared with Christians and Jews, and even some Zoroastrians. The second half of the Shahada is distinctively Muslim, and it is the assertion that Muhammad was a prophet.
But I recently came across a Christian missiologist who argues that we Christians should re-think our negative answer. Writing under what is apparently a pseudonym, “Harley Talman” has proposed that a Christian committed to the sole efficacy of Jesus Christ for salvation can cautiously and conditionally affirm that Muhammad may have been an actual prophet. Unsurprisingly, this approach is controversial and has occasioned rebuttals. My goal in this post is simply to lay out a brief consideration on the subject. (more…)