Whether or not the variations in the four Gospels amount to blatant contradictions, to say nothing of the “miracles” on every page, they do make you wonder about their claimed divine inspiration and what scholars call the Inerrancy of the New Testament (it is astounding that anyone could make such a claim for the OLD Testament !). The Judean-Christian Bible nonetheless claims to be “the word of God”.
Now listen to Shadi Hamid, a senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of “Islamic Exceptionalism : How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World” : “For Muslims the Quran is God’s direct and literal speech, more than merely the word of God. It is difficult to overstate the centrality of divine authorship.” (see Hamid’s article in this week’s TIME, June 13, 2016, “How Islam is Different from Other Religions”). For this reason, he writes, “Islam has been – and will continue to be – resistant to secularization.” He admits that he is “a bit uncomfortable making this claim, especially now, with anti-Muslim bigotry on the rise.”
Atheists, of course, dismiss out of hand claims that any “sacred” writing is literally the word of God, or worse, “God’s direct and literal speech”. But how do Christians, Catholics in particular, react to all this ? The Church has spent 2000 years interpreting the Bible, and during the last century recognized its use of fable and symbol to express “divine truth”. Islam and Christianity cannot both be right. Whatever about the Gospels’ variations/contradictions, no amount of good will, tolerance and ecumenism can ignore the clear contradictions between the Koran and the Bible, which both claim that God is their author.
Hamid has told the world that it is a waste of time expecting Islam to review, revise and reform its doctrine. Its hallmark will remain blind, immutable, unfounded dogmatism. But Christians should be careful not to smash their own stained glass windows by stoning the competition.