The way in which the Bible was written and has come down to mankind both helps us understand how to properly interpret it while simultaneously producing some of the strongest objections to its validity. How often have you heard the liberal argument that since the Bible is written by men, and men are not perfect, we cannot trust the Bible? There is an Islamic version of this objection which, although is not exactly the same, touches on this very point of the Bible’s composition. The claim of this argument is that the Qur’an contains only the words of Allah, not the speech of men and angels. Since the Bible’s composition includes the words of men and angels, it cannot be considered the word of God. In an article which was included in the Journal of Biblical Apologetics, Sam Shamoun notes:
As we had indicated earlier, Muslims claim that the Quran is the pure word of Allah, containing nothing but the speech of Allah alone. One will not find the words of either humans or angels mixed in with the words of Allah. 1
This argument is ridiculous because the Qur’an itself confirms the authority of the Scriptures in Sura 5:68.
Say: “O People of the Book! You have no ground to stand unless you stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelations that has come to you from your Lord, that increases in most of them their obstinacy rebellion and blasphemy. But you do not grieve over (these) people without faith.” 2
It must be remembered that Mohammed did not come onto the scene until after the completion of the synoptic Gospels and long after the completion of the Hebrew Scriptures, which means this Sura refers to Scriptures that include stories written down by human penmen under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the words of prophets declaring the word of God, and direct proclamations by God. In other words, the Qur’an affirms Scriptures which contain the word of God directly, the words of angels, and the words of men as God directed.
Of course, there are other reasons why this specific argument is foolish. However, let’s look at the secular version. This argument has its problems also. Considering the claim that the Bible cannot be trusted because it was written by men, what would happen if we applied this reasoning to other written documents, even a scientific theory? Einstein was a man and he wrote down his theory of relativity. Can we assume that his theory is wrong simply because it was written by a man? The answer is obviously no! The fact that God used human penmen does not invalidate that an Almighty God could ensure the accuracy of what was transmitted. Put another way, which is harder: to create the universe or to oversee a human penman whom you yourself have chosen, under the exact circumstances you have chosen, to transcribe what you desire to be recorded?
Clearly, it would not be too hard for God to accurately transmit His word to us through human writers - but, it also makes sense for Him to do it that way. The Bible is written to specific human beings in a specific situation, so it would be logical for God to use human beings and human language to make his revelation understandable to them.
What the Islamic and secular arguments ignore about the Bible is key. The Bible was never intended to be a list of commands or a textbook on God. It was meant to be an incredibly beautiful story interwoven with commands, history, poetry, and letters to convey the nature of God and his wondrous plan of love toward humans. This is the heart of why such objections are totally flawed (and also the reason why the Bible must never be reduced to simple systematic theology).
1 Sam Shamoun, “The Message of the Quran: Worship of Allah Alone?,” Journal of Biblical Apologetics 7 (2003): 19.
2 Sayed A. A. Razwy, ed., The Qur'an: Translation, 20th ed. (Elmhurst, N.Y.: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, 2007),5:68 .