Christian Scholars and the Bible’s Reliability
“Even Christian Scholars say the Bible is Unreliable”
The “abysmal failure theory” of Jesus likes to quote from European scholars of Higher Criticism to defend their low view of the Tawrat and Injīl. This school of materialist thought from last century assumed that the Bible must be inaccurate and mythological since it contains stories of miracles . Even though many of these scholars bore the label Christian, their worldview was basic Enlightenment materialism—they assumed that the universe is a closed machine, thus miracles were impossible, prophetic prediction impossible, and therefore the Bible must be mythical. One of the main scholars of this type freely admitted his bias:
A historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable.1
All true Muslims and Christians disagree with this premise, for we believe that God has done miracles like raising the dead and a virgin birth.2 Based on this inflexible basic assumption they redated the Bible and reinterpreted its history with the documentary hypothesis and form criticism. Much of their conclusions have lost popularity in academic circles. So it is ironic that Naik and Deedat can use their dates and revisionist history on the Bible (which are based entirely on the absolute preclusion of miracles and prophecies), and refuse to accept the same interpretive framework applied to the Qur’ān , let alone any Westerns scholarship on the Qur’ān. Scholars such as Arthur Jeffrey, Gerd Puin, and Patricia Crone, and Christoph Luxenberg would never be accepted by Naik or Deedat. Higher criticism stems from Germany, and the first German University professor of Islam is Muhammad Kalisch, a practicing Muslim who converted to Islam at age fifteen and has been studying the Qur’ān and fiqh for most of his life. He recently shocked fellow Muslims by confessing that he believed the evidence indicates Muhammad probably never existed. Other similar Higher Criticism scholars like Karl-Heinz Ohlig have postulated that the Qur’ān evolved from a previous Christian text. The Toronto Star writes:
But, he [Kalisch] differed from typical religious converts to a new faith in that he never stopped questioning. “Religion should never contradict reason,” he says. “I could never accept any doctrine or belief that goes against my rational mind.”
Kalisch said he realized early in 2001 that when the same scientific methods are applied to investigate Muslim claims of historicity as are used on Jewish and Christian origins, similar problems arise at once. He found that traditional theological positions soon collapse once hard evidence is sought. He discovered there is as much “myth-making” in Islam as in Judaism and Christianity. And so his current process of “rethinking Islam” was begun.
Asked whether he thought his public airings of his findings will destroy peoples’ faith, he said: “It will destroy a literalist faith, a faith no longer reliable because of reason. But, the God I believe in is not a god of literalists. He is the Ultimate One. God doesn’t write books. All the various sacred books are the product of human minds and experiences. They can be helpful but they must be interpreted for today.”
Kalisch maintains non-Muslim scholars who agree with his hypothesis but keep silent out of “respect” for Muslims are in fact treating them as though they can’t handle the truth.
“That’s not respect, it’s putting Muslims on the same level as small children who can’t think and decide for themselves and whose illusions of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny one doesn’t want to destroy.”3
You have to be consistent—if you’re going to accept the ridiculous theories of liberal scholarship about the Bible, you have to likewise accept their ridiculous theories about the Qur’ān. The interpretive framework of higher criticism must be applied to both scriptures or neither.
- Kergyma and Myth, Rudolph Bultmann, English trans. Harper & Row, New York, 1961, p.39.
- see for example Al-‘Imran 3:45-50.
- Tom Harpur, “Questioning Of Prophet’s Existence Stirs Outcry” The Toronto Star, December 23, 2008