The Good News And Warnings in the Gospel and the Qur’an

The Good News And Warnings in the Gospel and the Qur’an June 17, 2018

‘Glad tidings’ are often associated with the Gospel. What is not as well-known is that the Qur’an also refers to the glad tidings rather frequently. The Qur’an also frequently warns of the consequences of evil deeds. Do the Gospel not provide warnings? However it is worth mentioning at the outset that the interpretation of glad tidings/good news may not be the same in Islam and Christianity.

The Qur’an mentions Injil (Gospel) repeatedly, though the Injil in the Qur’an refers to one single Scripture revealed to Isa (Jesus). The Gospels are about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, as told (written) by various authors in the first century. The four canonized Gospels are attributed to Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

Etymologically, Gospel and Injil have the same common roots. The word “Gospel” is derived from the Angelo-Saxon “god spell,” meaning “good news” or “good tidings”. This word in turn is derived from the Greek word Euangelion, also meaning “good tidings”. The Arabic word Injil has its root in the Syriac Aramaic word Awongaleeyoon , which itself is derived from the Greek Euangelion.  Injil and Gospels may have different meaning for Muslims and Christians but that is not the subject of this article.

Interestingly enough, since the initial publishing of this post, Benjamin Corey, a fellow blogger on Patheos’ Progressive Christian channel published a post titled No, The Gospel Isn’t “Good News” For Everyone where he makes a case for Gospel bringing not-so-good news for evil doers  and specifically those who are separating children from their parents at the border.

The Gospel is not good news for those who rip children out of the arms of their mothers as they flee from places of poverty and violence.

The Gospel is not good news for those who toss these children in cages, subjecting them to additional trauma.

Glad Tidings (and Warnings) in the Qur’an

The Qur’an refers to Injil (and Torah) frequently, such as in the following verse.

And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Torah that had come before him: We sent him the Injil: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Torah that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who are God-conscious. The Qur’an 5:46

From a Qur’anic perspective, the basic underlying purpose of the Prophets and the Scriptures has been to inform mankind about God and to give good news (glad tidings) about the consequences of good behavior, as well as to warn about the consequences of evil behavior. Benjamin Corey’s characterization of Gospel would seem to be in line with this balance, and not just bearer of good news, but I do realize Ben’s position may not be universally accepted by all Christians. He did use the reference to Final Judgment to support his viewpoint:

Regardless of theological position or nuance of what does or does not happen in the afterlife, what cannot be denied for anyone who claims to follow Jesus is that he clearly and articulately warned of a coming judgement. In fact, he laid it out in Matthew 25 so there were no questions: at the final judgement there will be two groups of people, and one will face divine punishment.

The use of glad tidings, or good tidings, is somewhat unique in that the phrase often appears in the translation of the Quran and the Bible, and one hardly finds the usage in any other setting. The English word “tidings” has been in use since the eighteenth century; it means “news” or “information.” Thus, “glad tidings” simply means “glad news”. Though “glad tidings” is often used in the Scriptures, it is hard to find the opposite phrase, “bad tidings” in the Scriptures. Instead, the word “warning” is often used.

The glad tidings are given in close proximity to the warnings, and vice versa. In fact, in the Qur’an, the two phrases are frequently used together, in the same verse, or in consecutive verses. The words often used for the prophets in this context are “Basheer” (meaning “the bearer of glad tidings”) and “Nazeer” (meaning “the warner”). The Quran repeatedly refers to Prophet Muhammad as the bearer of glad tidings and a warner. The following are some examples:

“That you should worship none but Allah (Say): ‘Verily I am (sent) unto you from Him to warn and to bring glad tidings.’” 11:2

We sent down the (Quran) in Truth, and in Truth has it descended: and We sent you but to give Glad Tidings and to warn. 17:105

Verily We have sent thee in truth, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner: and there never was a people, without a warner having lived among them (in the past). 35:24

Other messengers were also sent as bearers of glad tidings and as warners

Mankind was one single nation, and God sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed.”2:213

(We sent) messengers as the givers of good news and as warners, so that people should not have a plea against Allah after the (coming of) messengers; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. 4:165

Like the Old Testament, the Qur’an has been criticized for “scaring” people or inducing fear in the believers’ hearts. The Qur’anic references to the consequences of deeds simply imply accountability. This is analogous to the traffic signs warning of the consequences for not obeying the traffic laws. (Though there are no ‘reward” for following the traffic laws). The glad tidings and warnings also have some parallel in the informed consent, obtained by the physicians before one goes through a surgical procedure. The physician typically goes over the pros and cons with patients, informing them of the intended (positive) outcomes as well as the potential adverse outcomes. He would also inform patients of the potential problems if they choose not to undergo the procedure. In much the same way, the Quran informs people about the two paths with their respective destinations. It then leaves the choice up to their free will.

Next page: Good News in the Bible. Is there bad news as well?

 

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