Is Talman Also Among the Islamicists?

In my previous post I discussed Harley Talman’s argument that Christians ought to entertain the notion that Muhammad might have been a prophet (though not a very good one).  Other critics have pointed out biblical and scriptural flaws with his argument.  But since very few Christian bloggers have specific training in Islamic studies (the academic study of Islam), I thought it might be useful if I pointed out some criticisms of Talman’s argument from the perspective of Islamicists (experts in studying Islam).  In addition to a few outright errors, Talman provides historically ignorant interpretations of the available sources.  In particular, the crux of my disagreement is that Talman argues that the Qur’an is not in fact anti-Trinitarian, as accepted by almost all Islamicists (regardless of their religious views).  Instead, he claims that the Qur’an only criticizes unorthodox Christian views which orthodox Christians ought also to reject.  I think this assertion is untenable, and this flaw is fatal to his entire argument. (more…)

Was Muhammad a Prophet?

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…)

Ex Post Facto Prophecies and Gospel Dating

The 30th sura of the Qur’an, near its beginning, says, “The Romans have been defeated in the nearest land, but they, after their defeat, will conquer in a few years” (Q 30:2-4).  Late medieval Muslims believed that this prophecy was fulfilled by the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, although I could see a case being made for “the nearest land” being Palestine, in which the Romans were defeated in 638.  The Romans’ subsequent victory, in the latter case, could be taken to refer to the Byzantine conquests of the 960s, in which they recaptured Antioch for 120 years.  In any event, we have Qur’an manuscripts which contain these verses from before the 960s.

It amazes me how frequently Bible scholars insist that a prophecy can only have been written down after the events which are alleged to be its fulfillment.  Thus many Old Testament scholars maintain that Daniel must have been written in the Maccabean period, while experts on the Gospels (even many Christians) assert that because Jesus is portrayed as foretelling the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (usually dated to 70 CE), therefore the Gospels were first written down at least forty years after the events they claim to record.  But the example of the Qur’an shows that this need not be the case. (more…)

A Philosopher’s Appeal to Read Scripture

A fascinating new website has been started over at danherrickphilosophy.com, all of whose arguments merit careful reading.  This is not to say I agree with all of his arguments – I do not, which ought to surprise no one – but his essays often provide an interesting sidelight on the issue and frequently an unusual insight.  In particular, he just finished a series of four posts on how to read Scripture: (more…)