NOTE: I recently received a letter from an imam in North America who wrote to the publisher of my book One God One Message. In his letter he says that he has “read… and reflect[ed] on the answers that the author tried to provide for questions frequently asked by Muslims.” This is my response. I have changed the imam’s name to protect his identity. — P.D.B.

From: P. D. Bramsen
To: Imam Najib
January 22, 2010

Dear Najib,

Thank you for your comments regarding my book One God One Message. Your letter of December 23, 2009 was passed on to me two weeks ago. You have raised many of the classic questions I have been hearing from Muslim friends and acquaintances over the past three decades. I believe there are good answers for all your questions—which is why I wrote One God One Message. As stated in the prologue:

I write because in recent years I have received more than a thousand e-mails from Muslims around the globe. Their thought-provoking comments and questions must not be ignored.
I write out of empathy for those weary of religious leaders who offer little more than circular clichés such as, “The Bible is true because it says so!” or, “The Qur’an is true because no one can write a book like it!”
I write because I am struck by the human heart’s inclination to believe anything but the consistent message of the one true God.

Najib, in your letter you wrote:

One God One Message by P.D. Bramsen…was sent to us a few months ago and I remember reading through it and reflecting on the answers that the author tried to provide for questions frequently asked by Muslims. As a student of comparative religions and someone who knows the whole Qur’an by heart and read the Bible in its entirety, the author’s arguments are shallow and deceptive. Any Muslim with a cursory knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an will be able to refute most of the arguments of Mr. Bramsen. For example his argument that the Qur’an doesn’t say that the Bible was corrupted. References to corruption of the Bible (both in words and interpretation) can be found in the Qur’an 2:75, 2:79, 3:78, 4:46, 5:13, and 5:41. The fact that the Bible is corrupted is also attested to by its hundreds (if not thousands) of internal contradictions, the fact that Catholics have 7 extra books in their Bible that the rest of Christendom do not have, as well as the discrepancies between different versions of the Bible. Another example, 1 John 5:7 (the only clear proof in the Bible that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit are one), Mark 16:9-20, and many other verses are said in the footnote of several Bibles that they did NOT exist in ancient manuscripts and are in fact a later addition to the text. Is not that something?

Some of the questions the author failed to answer (every time Muslims ask these questions, they either get contradictory or no answer depending on which one of the 300 American Christian denominations you ask):

1. What is the Trinity? (it all started with the Council of Nicaea 325 AD)
2. Is Jesus the son of God literally or spiritually?
3. Did Jesus come to uphold or abolish the Mosaic laws?
4. Is the Bible the literal word of God or both God and man?
5. Which Gospel did Jesus use (Mark, Matthew, Luke, or John) in his teachings?
6. Is the Bible corrupted?
7. Why does the Catholic Bible have 7 extra books than other Bibles?
8. Why are there so many contradictions in the Bible?
9. Why do Christians give such importance to the teachings of Paul, not disciple?
10. When Jesus comes back what type of Christian will he be (a Catholic, a Baptist, a Mormon, etc.)?

The failure of Christian scholars and clergy to give intelligible answers to these questions—I believe—is what causes Christianity to decline in America just like it already declined in Europe.

------------------------------------End quote from your letter------------------------------------

Najib, as I read your letter, I felt a strange mixture of sadness and delight: Sadness— because multitudes stumble over these classic obstacles that keep them from believing the Bible and its message; Delight—because your letter confirms that my book answers the common objections Muslims raise up against the Bible and its message.

Since all ten questions you have raised are answered in One God One Message, I will not give you a full answer for each question, but I will select excerpts from my book and point out where in the book you can find more complete answers. You have raised other questions on page 2 of your letter, which—if after you read this, and carefully reread the book—I will be glad to address if you still feel the need.

Now on to your ten questions:

1. What is the Trinity? (it all started with the Council of Nicaea 325 AD)

Since the term “trinity” is not found in the Bible, I have not used it in my book. But since the truth of God’s triune compound oneness is taught in both the Old and New Testaments, I do address this question in some detail, beginning in chapter 8. This theme is the primary focus of chapter 9. Chapters 17 and 22, along with several endnotes, also treat this subject with freshness, precision, and clarity. Here is one such endnote:

106 Many Old Testament verses affirm God’s complex oneness: Genesis 17:1-3; 18:1-33 God appeared to Abraham in bodily form. These were face-to-face encounters and not a dream or vision. Genesis 35:9-15; Exodus 3:1-6; 6:2-3; 24:9-11; 33:10-11. Compare Exodus 33:11 with 33:20. Moses spoke face-to-face with One of the Persons in the Godhead (the Son), but he was not allowed to see the face of the other Person in the Godhead (the Father). Complex? Yes. God is God. See John 1:1-18. Here are more Old Testament passages that cannot be rightly understood apart from the concept of God’s plural oneness: Psalm 2; Psalm 110:1 (compare Matthew 22:41-46); Proverbs 30:4; Isaiah 6:1-3 (compare John 12:41); Isaiah 26:3-4; Isaiah 40:3-11; Isaiah 43:10-11 (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7); Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 63:1-14; Isaiah 49:1-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Daniel 7:13-14; Hosea 12:3-5; Micah 5:2; Malachi 3:1-2, etc.

Here is what a Muslim in the Middle East wrote about chapter 9: “What can I say? Whew! I’m impressed… Your Christian friends must be very proud of you for how you have explained the Trinity! Don’t be discouraged if I failed to come out with the same conclusion as yours.” While he may not have agreed with my explanation, at least he recognized the fact that my book addresses the subject of the Trinity.

As for the Council of Nicaea, many people (including Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code) would like people to believe that Jesus was not seen as the eternal Son of God until this Council took place, and that Constantine hijacked Jesus as mere mortal and turned him into a deity. In fact, what the Council of Nicaea did was simply to affirm what the Scriptures already clearly proclaimed and what all believers knew to be true: The eternal Son of God became the Son of Man; that “the Word was God” and that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1,14)

Najib, on the second page of your letter you write: “[Jesus] never said, ‘I’m God’ or ‘Worship Me.’” Did you notice what I wrote in chapter 17 (pp.184-185)?

Every so often, someone says to me: “Show me in the Bible where Jesus said, ‘I am God’!” The religious leaders of Jesus’ day tried to coerce Him to make similar statements.

Jesus said, “‘I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved’… the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’

Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.… I and My Father are one.’

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.

Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’

The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’” (John 10:9, 24-25, 30-33)

Why did the religious crowd want to stone Him?

It was because Jesus had said, “I and My Father are one.” In their thinking, Jesus’ claim of oneness with God was blasphemy. Nonetheless, these same Jews regularly declared their faith in God by saying, “Adonai Eloheynu Adonai echad,” meaning: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one [a plural oneness].” Jesus was declaring Himself to be the Son of God who has always been one with God.168 That is why the Jews accused Him of blasphemy.

Jesus never flaunted His eternal existence as the Word and Son of God. He did not go around saying, “I am God! I am God!” Instead, He lived on earth as He intends for all of mankind to live—in perfect humility and willing submission to God.

Jesus is the only Person who could say: “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38) The glory of Jesus’ life was that He, the exalted Son of God, had humbled Himself to become the Son of Man.

The Lord Jesus chose to communicate who He was in humble yet powerful ways.

Once, a wealthy young man came to Jesus and addressed Him with the title “Good Teacher.” So Jesus asked the man, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19)169 This rich man did not believe Jesus was God, but Jesus—the personification of divine goodness—was inviting him to put the pieces of the puzzle together and understand who He is.

He wants us to understand too.170

As for the “Worship Me” issue, see pages 182-183:

Jesus consistently taught that God alone is worthy to be the Object of our worship. That is why Jesus said, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (Matthew 4:10) Yet the Gospel records no fewer than ten occasions when people bowed down before Jesus and worshiped Him.

One day, “a leper came and worshiped Him,165 saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matthew 8:2-3) Did Jesus scold the leper for worshiping Him?

No, He simply touched him and cured him.

After Jesus rose from the dead, a disciple named Thomas fell down before Him and said, “My Lord and my God!” Did Jesus rebuke him for blasphemy?

No, Jesus simply said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:28-29)

What does this teach us about who Jesus is?

2. Is Jesus the son of God literally or spiritually?

This question is systematically answered in chapters 9, 17, and 22. Here is one excerpt from chapter 9 (pages 98-99):

In Senegal, people sometimes react to the term “Son of God” by muttering, “Astaghferullah!” This Arabic formula carries the idea: “May God forgive you for uttering such blasphemy!” (Blasphemy can be defined as “mockery of God.”) On occasion, I have responded to their rebuke by quoting one of their own proverbs: “Before you slap the shepherd on the mouth, you should find out what he is whistling about.” They laugh and then I tell them, “Before you reject the expression ‘Son of God,’ you should find out what God has said about it.”

The Scriptures contain more than a hundred verses that directly refer to God’s “Son,” yet none of these verses imply “more than one God,” nor do they suggest that God “took a wife and had a son,” as some choose to interpret the term. Such thinking is not only blasphemous; it also reveals a shallow grasp of the Scriptures.108

God invites us to think His thoughts.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

Many years ago a well-known Senegalese businessman was killed in an automobile accident. Senegal’s national newspaper reported that this man’s two thousand employees were “like his own children,” and eulogized him as “a great son of Senegal.”109 Did these words imply that the country of Senegal had relations with a woman and engendered a son? Of course not! The Senegalese people have no problem honoring a well-loved citizen with this title. They understand what the expression “son of Senegal” means. They also know what it does not mean.

The term “son” is used in a number of ways. When the Qur’an and Arabs refer to a wayfaring traveler as a “son of the road” (ibn al-sabil [Sura 2:177, 215]), we know what they mean. When Almighty God refers to His Word as His Son, we should know what He means too.

Let us not mock the titles and terms our Creator magnifies.

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power….” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

God wants us to know that He has “spoken to us by His Son.” He also wants us to understand that His Son is the Word by which all things in heaven and earth were created and are sustained. In Arabic translations of the Bible, the Son’s title as “the Word of God” is translated “Kalimat Allah,” a title both the Bible and Qur’an ascribe to the Messiah. Later in our journey, we’ll take a closer look at this.

3. Did Jesus come to uphold or abolish the Mosaic laws?

Understanding the answer to this great question provides a key to understanding the Bible. I allude to the answer in chapter 2:

It was for good reason the Messiah said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets [the Old Testament]. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)

There is no contradiction between the Old and New Testaments. Like a seed that germinates and grows into a mature tree, God’s age-old plan for mankind takes root in the Old Testament and grows to maturity in the New Testament. Every section of God’s Book points to the message He wants us to understand.

The lady who wrote the e-mail is correct in her belief that no “words from God can be edited and rewritten for newer times.” What she has failed to recognize is that “words from God” can and will be fulfilled.

It is in chapter 19 that “The Big Picture” begins to emerge with clarity. Here is an excerpt from chapter 23 (pp. 241-242):

Then, to those who had come to arrest Him, Jesus said, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.”

And the Scripture adds this commentary:

“But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.

Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

And those who had laid hold of Him led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.” (Matthew 26:55-57)

Why did the One who controlled the wind and the waves allow Himself to be arrested, bound, and led away?

He did it out of love and obedience to His Father.

He did it to save you and me from everlasting judgment.

He did it “that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

Hundreds of years earlier, the prophet Isaiah had written, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.” (Isaiah 53:7)

The prophet Abraham had declared, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:8)

And the prophet Moses had written, “The priest shall take one male lamb and offer it… Then he shall kill the lamb in the place where he kills the sin offering.” (Leviticus 14:12-13)

Don’t miss the irony.

The priests, responsible for killing and burning lambs on the bronze altar of the temple, were the very ones who had arrested Jesus in order to have Him killed. Yet they had no clue they were about to sacrifice The Lamb of whom all the prophets had written.

Here’s one more quote showing how Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial laws that God confirmed to Moses (page 251):

Down through the centuries, blood had flowed from millions of blemish-free, sacrificed animals. But now Jesus’ own blood had flowed from His sin-free body. The infinitely “precious blood of Christ” would not just temporarily cover sin; it would forever remove it from the record.

This is what God’s first covenant had foretold.

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant. ... I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’” (Jeremiah 31:31, 34)

The New Testament Scriptures then explain: “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete.” (Hebrews 8:13) No more sin offerings would be needed. Animal sacrifices on an altar had been abolished by the Messiah’s death on a cross.

4. Is the Bible the literal word of god or both God and man?

I understand your fourth question as having to do with how God transmitted His truth to mankind. Such questions are dealt with from a variety of angles beginning in chapter 1 and concluding in chapter 30. Here is a quote from chapter 2 (p. 22):

Some justify their dismissal of the Scriptures by saying, “If the Bible were inspired by God it wouldn’t include revolting stories of people committing adultery, incest, genocide, treachery, idolatry and the like.” According to their concept of inspiration and revelation, God’s Book should be essentially limited to direct quotes from God.

However, since the Scriptures are intended to introduce people to their Creator within the framework of history, should it come as a surprise that the Bible records not only the words and works of God, but also the sins and shortcomings of humanity? Does God not have the right to reveal His glory, purity, justice, mercy, and faithfulness against the dark backdrop of?mankind’s failure? Dare we dictate to the Almighty how He should or should not reveal Himself and His message?

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?” (Isaiah 29:16 NIV)

And here’s an excerpt from chapter 6:

In all, God used about forty men over more than fifteen centuries to record His revelation for mankind. Even though most of these witnesses never knew each other, all they wrote fits together to form the ultimate story and message.

Who, but the One unfettered by the span of a lifetime, could have transmitted such a consistent narrative?

“Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21 NIV)

5. Which Gospel did Jesus use (Mark, Matthew, Luke, or John) in his teachings?

I’ve never heard this common objection worded quite like this (since the gospel record was written and distributed after Jesus returned to heaven)! What I hear from other Muslims is: “Where is the true gospel? Why does the Bible have a Gospel according to Matthew, a Gospel according to Mark, a Gospel according to Luke, and a Gospel according to John?”

As I point out in chapter 6, from the time of Moses, God instituted this legal principle: “By the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” (Deuteronomy 19:15) In a world of liars, more than one witness is needed to substantiate the truth of a testimony. To reassure you and me that the gospel record is true, God chose four men to write the Messiah’s biography, “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:4) Just as a table is more stable with four legs than with one, so a testimony is more reliable when affirmed by four eyewitnesses instead of just one. Here is an excerpt from chapter 6 (p.62):

In the New Testament, the origin, life, words, works, death, and resurrection of the Messiah are recorded by four men: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four men wrote the Gospel record (called the Injil in Arabic), thus providing the world with four separate testimonies. God also inspired Peter (a fisherman), James and Jude (Jesus’ half brothers), and Paul (a scholar and former terrorist) to explain in glorious detail God’s present and ultimate purposes for His people. The apostle John wrote the final book of the Bible which graphically foretells how world history, as we know it, will conclude.

6. Is the Bible corrupted?

Najib, as you know, this is a huge concern for Muslims worldwide—which is why I dedicated an entire chapter to it: Chapter 3. Here’s an excerpt:

Here I would like to speak directly to my respected Muslim reader.

As you probably know, the Qur’an clearly declares that the biblical Scriptures—the Torah (Tawret), Psalms (Zabur) and Gospel (Injil)—were given by God for “guidance and light.” (Sura 5:44-51) It also states, “To you [Muhammad] We [Allah] sent the Scripture [Qur’an] in truth, confirming the Scripture [Bible] that came before it, and guarding it in safety.” (Sura 5:48) And, “The Messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if you do not realize this, ask of those who possess the Message [the Bible].” (Sura 21:7) The Qur’an also warns: “Those who reject the Book and the revelations with which We sent our messengers…in the Fire they shall be burned.” (Sura 40:70-72)

The Qur’an repeatedly declares that the books of the Bible were inspired by God and that those who reject them will be sent to hell. That is what the Qur’an says.37

Such Qur’anic declarations create a serious dilemma for Muslims everywhere, because the Bible and the Qur’an present two radically different messages regarding the character of God and His plan for mankind.

It is for this reason most Muslims have concluded that the Scriptures of the Bible have been corrupted. The following questions have helped many think through that conclusion.

QUESTIONS MOSTLY FOR MUSLIMS

· Do you think God is able to protect His own Scriptures?

· If so, do you think He is willing to protect them?

· If you believe that the Scriptures of the prophets have been corrupted:

o When were they corrupted?

o Where were they corrupted?

o Who corrupted them? If you think Christians or Jews altered the Scriptures, why do you think they would have tampered with the sacred books which many of them willingly died for to preserve?38

o What evidence can you present?

o Why might the Almighty have allowed finite men to
corrupt His written record and revelation for mankind?

· If God would allow humans to corrupt the books of prophets like Moses and David, how do you know that the book you trust hasn’t suffered the same indignity?

The purpose here is not to overwhelm anyone with questions, but since this “corruption charge” is believed by so many and is of eternal consequence, here is one more:

· Do you think the Bible Scriptures were tampered with before or after?the Qur’an was delivered?

Before you read on, take a moment to work out your response to this before-or-after question. You may even want to write out your answer before continuing.

BEFORE?

If your response is that the biblical texts were corrupted before the Qur’an was written—then why does the Qur’an declare those Scriptures as “guidance” for mankind and not deception, as “light” and not darkness? Why does the Qur’an say, “Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein”? (Sura 5:46-47) And why does it declare: “No change can there be in the words of Allah”? (Sura 10:64)

If the Scriptures of the Bible were considered unreliable, why did the Qur’an command: “If you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you”? (Sura 10:94 Shakir39), and “you bring the Law [Torah] and study it, if you be men of truth”? (Sura 3:93)

While some were accused of “distort[ing] the Book with their tongues” (Sura 3:78), the Scriptures themselves were considered uncorrupted and intact.

AFTER?

On the other hand, if your response is that the biblical texts were corrupted after the Qur’an was written—then it must be pointed out that Bibles in circulation today are translated from ancient manuscripts which predate the Qur’an by many centuries.

By the time the Qur’an was first recited, the Scriptures had already been distributed in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and had been translated into many languages such as Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, and Armenian.40

Think about this. How could a group of men have inserted corruption into books of such celebrity—books translated into so many languages, copied by the hundreds of thousands, and rapidly distributed throughout the known world? Imagine endeavoring to collect all the original-language copies as well as the countless translations—and then attempting to change each to create the uniformity we find in these translations today. It would be an impossible task.

The conclusion is clear:

o To claim that the Bible was corrupted before the Qur’an was written is to contradict dozens of Qur’anic verses.41

o To claim that the Bible was corrupted after the Qur’an was written is to contradict the historical and archaeological evidence supported by thousands of ancient manuscripts.

This conclusion raises a new set of questions.

From where did these thousands of biblical manuscripts and translations come?

Where are the original writings?

You will find a wealth of information in chapter 3 regarding manuscripts, versions, questionable verses, etc. And don’t forget the endnotes. As one reader commented, “The endnotes alone are worth the price of the book.” Here are a few samples:

44 Here is an example of apparent variants found in ancient manuscripts. In the Old Testament book of Second Kings, we read: “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king.” (2 Kings 24:8) Meanwhile, the book of Second Chronicles states: “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king.” (2 Chronicles 36:9) How can such differences be explained? Some scholars suggest that it was at the age of 8 that young Jehoiachin’s father took him into partnership in the government, and that he began to reign at 18 following the death of his father, which is possible. However, a more likely explanation is that this numerical variation is simply the result of an early-century scribe penning “8” instead of “18.” If this were the case, that wrong number would be transcribed into all the manuscripts which “descended” from that scribe’s copy. Whatever the case, such variations do not affect or alter God’s message to us in any way. In most cases, the sheer volume of ancient Bible manuscripts allows scholars to determine the correct rendering by comparing the various texts.

45 The Hadith records: “Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Sa’id bin Al-‘As and ‘Abdur Rahman bin Hari-bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies… They did so, and when they had written many copies, ‘Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.” (Hadith, Sahih Bukhari, VI, No. 510) (The Hadith [“Sayings”] are ancient writings by Muhammad’s wives and acquaintances. Muslims base many beliefs and practices on the Hadith.)

49 The New Testament Scriptures are translated from a few primary Greek texts (Majority Text, Textus Receptus, Alexandrian Text). The NKJV translates the New Testament from the Majority Text, while the NIV translates from the Alexandrian Text. Where “significant” variations occur between Greek New Testament texts, most Bible translations include a note in the margin indicating those variations. The lengthiest passages in question are Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53–8:11, each 12 verses in length. While these passages are absent in a few of the oldest surviving manuscripts (Alexandrian Text), they are found in the hundreds of others (Majority Text). Keep in mind that older does not necessarily mean more accurate, since the various texts descended from different ancient copies. It is most likely that a distracted copyist omitted these selections by accident. Whatever the case, all truths taught in these omitted passages are also taught elsewhere in Scripture. God’s message remains unaffected. Is it wise to reject God’s message because a few ancient copies are missing a few sections—sections which in no way change God’s message?

50 In recent times, books have been published and movies produced which are calculated to cast doubt on the Bible. Some Bible critics point to contradictory, “alternative gospels.” All such “gospels” were written long after the time of Messiah and lack historical corroboration.

7. Why does the Catholic Bible have 7 extra books than other Bibles?

92 The Bible contains 66 individual books—39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Later in history, the Roman Catholic Church (which, like many Protestant churches, elevates their church traditions above the Word of God) decided to include 11 additional books between the Old and New Testaments. These books, known as the Apocrypha (or Deutercanonical books), were written primarily in the era between the Old and New Testaments. While they contain interesting historical and legendary material, Hebrew believers never accepted them as inspired Scripture. Many of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 are commentaries, which comment only on the 39 Old Testament books and not on the Apocrypha. When the Messiah was on earth, He frequently quoted from the Old Testament, but never from the Apocryphal books. The Apocrypha is never quoted in the New Testament. The 39 books contained in the Old Testament were written by prophets to whom God spoke directly and to whom He confirmed His word, “bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.” (Hebrews 2:4) As for the New Testament, believers who lived in the time following Christ’s visit to earth accepted the apostles’ authority and New Testament Scriptures as equal to the Old Testament prophets and Scriptures. This could not be said of the Apocrypha.

8. Why are there so many contradictions in the Bible?

This is probably the favorite attack-question of those who have decided the Bible and its demands are not for them. This allegation is confronted throughout the book. Here are a couple of excerpts from chapter 2 (Pages 15-16):

In secularized Western and European nations, many declare the Bible to be little more than a collection of stirring myths and beautiful sayings invented by men. Most hold this opinion without ever having objectively investigated the Scriptures.

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional classic, The Celebrated Cases of Sherlock Holmes, the detective’s colleague, Dr. Watson, questions Holmes about a specific criminal case:

“What do you deduce from it?”

“I have no data yet,” Holmes replies. “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”18

Many people commit this “capital mistake” with the Scriptures. They draw their conclusions without sufficient data and twist facts to suit theories that won’t disturb their worldview and lifestyle.

Pages 23-25:

Many insist that the Bible is full of contradictions, yet few take time to study it objectively. Is it fair to condemn the Scriptures based on what someone else says about them? Can any book be understood by merely reading a phrase here and there? Should a great book be read only to find a typographical error or an inconsistency in its text? Hopefully not. Yet that is how many people read the Bible.

Years ago, I received an e-mail with a long list of supposed errors and contradictions in the Bible which the correspondent had copied from some website.

Here is an excerpt:

Your Bible contradicts itself. For example:

• On the first day, God created light, then separated light and darkness (Genesis 1:3-5). The sun, which separates night and day, wasn’t created until the fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19)

• Adam was to die the very day that he ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17). Adam lived 930 years (Genesis 5:5).

• Jesus does not judge (John 3:17; 8:15; 12:47). Jesus does judge (John 5:22,27-30; 9:39; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 5:10).

• Etcetera.

Now I would like to ask you a question: Does your religion allow me to ask questions and use my brain before accepting it or does it ask me to close my eyes and stop my brain from producing questions? Because I am asking myself if it is possible that God could have done so many errors in His Book and I naturally answer NO!? [sic]

Yes, the same God who says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), wants me “to ask questions and use my brain.” God invites each of us to reflect on His Word for ourselves. Copying and pasting someone else’s list of “contradictions” will not do. Solomon said, “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

The solutions to the correspondent’s “contradictions” will be resolved as we think our way through the Scriptures.30 For now, however, perhaps we can all agree on this: Life is too short and eternity too long to not do our own honest research.

If you have ever eaten a delicious, juicy mango, you know that trying to describe its flavor to someone is not enough. It must be tasted. Likewise, accepting what someone else says to you about God’s Word is not good enough. You must taste it for yourself.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalm 34:8)

It is in a person’s own eternal interest to be a careful student of the Scriptures—one “who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) Not paying attention to the context (the entire section in which an alleged contradiction is found) is not the correct way to handle the Word of Truth.

To illustrate, there are biblical statements commanding us not to judge, while others command us to judge. 31 Are these Scriptures contradictory? No, they are complementary. On the one hand, God’s Book tells me, as a creature limited in knowledge, not to judge (condemn) another person’s motives or actions from a self-righteous, fault-finding spirit. On the other hand, I am commanded to judge (discern) right from wrong and to differentiate truth from error based on what the Scriptures say.

So what about the supposed contradictions in the Bible?

I have personally found satisfying solutions for all such “contradictions.” I have also discovered that until people want to understand the Scriptures, they will find a new “contradiction” as quickly as their old one is cleared up.32

Do you want to understand God’s message? Then don’t go to God’s Book looking for your idea; go searching for His. Study the Bible book by book. Don’t try too hard to interpret what you read. Let it interpret itself. The Scriptures, written by many prophets over many centuries, are their own best commentary.33

“He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:22)

And endnote #32:

32 Several websites continue to post a long list of “101 Clear Contradictions in the Bible,” even though, for many years now, another article has been posted called: “101 Cleared-up ‘Contradictions’ in the Bible.” www.debate.org.uk/topics/apolog/contrads.htm

33 Two rules for correctly interpreting any verse in the Bible:

1) Read the surrounding context.

2) Compare Scripture with Scripture.

To illustrate, in Deuteronomy (5th book in the Bible), Moses spoke this prophecy to the children of Israel: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear....” (Deuteronomy 18:15) What did Moses mean when he said to the Israelites that God would raise up a Prophet “from your midst, from your brethren”? Some say Moses was talking about the Ishmaelites; others say the Israelites. The surrounding context provides the correct answer (e.g., Deuteronomy 17:15,20; 18:2,5, etc.). Who was this special “Prophet” God promised to “raise up”? While many try to make this prophecy fit the founder of their particular religion, the correct interpretation is clearly stated later on in the Scriptures. Read John 5:43-47, John 6:14, and Acts 3:22-26.

9. Why do Christians give such importance to the teachings of Paul, not disciple?

I have faced this objection on many occasions. In fact, it is because of a Muslim’s distain for the great apostle Paul that I chose to use the pen name P. D. Bramsen instead of Paul D. Bramsen. While I love both my name and the apostle Paul’s writings, I decided it might be unwise to give the reader a strike against me before he or she gets past the front cover! What’s more, attentive students will notice that One God One Message uses relatively few quotes from the writings of the apostle Paul since the gospel truths of which he wrote were previously proclaimed by the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 50-53, etc.) and by the Messiah Himself (e.g. John 3; Luke 24, etc.). In this way, my book quietly disproves the notion that Paul preached a different message from Moses or David or Isaiah or Jesus. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 6:

Over the centuries, many have tried to discredit the New Testament writers and their message. The writings of the apostle Paul are especially attacked.

The apostle Peter exhorts us to take Paul’s writings seriously: “Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.… His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16 NIV)

Everything the apostle Paul wrote is in harmony with what the prophets wrote. As Paul himself testified, “Having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come ... Do you believe the prophets?” (Acts 26:22,27)

10. When Jesus comes back what type of Christian will he be (a Catholic, a Baptist, a Mormon, etc.)?

A careful reader will discover that One God One Message provides clear answers to this question and other questions related to it. Oh, by the way, I hope you understand that Jesus is not a Christian; He is the Christ—the Messiah—to whom all the prophets pointed. Also, to learn about Jesus’ return to earth, read chapters 29 and 30. Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from chapter 28 (pp.306-307):

The original Greek word for church is ekklesia, meaning simply: “assembly” or “called-out ones.” Today the word “church” is riddled with erroneous concepts and innumerable denominations. Many who call themselves Christians openly dishonor the name of Christ by the way they live. Many have religion, but they do not have a genuine relationship with God. They have never been cleansed from their sins through faith in Jesus’ blood.

The good news is that God invites all people everywhere to trust in His Son, become His special new creation, and be adopted into the family of believers that will spend eternity with Him.

All those who believed God’s promises before Jesus came (in Old Testament times) are a part of God’s family, but only those who have believed since Jesus came are a part of the living organism known as “the church.” The church is also called “the body of Christ” and “the bride.”244 To all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Scripture says:

“You are… His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God….” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Najib, after you have taken time to mull over this letter and reread the book, I would appreciate you letting me know if you still feel that the answers provided in One God One Message are “shallow and deceptive.”

Thanks again for taking time to write.