In the Qur'an the true followers of God are called "Muslims". Is the name "Christians" mentioned in the Bible? What does it mean?
(An) Answer (from an earlier newsgroup posting of mine):
A Muslim wrote (responding to a similar question of another Muslim): I was watching documentary about Bible on T.V. last week and the commentator mentioned that it was not the followers of Jesus(pbuh) who called themselves Christians. Rather it were "the Pagans" who called the followers of Jesus 'the Christians'i.e., the followers of Christ for the first time and since then the name has stuck. So in addtion to forcing many of their traditions on Christianity , these pagans also named the religion for them. My response to him: Yes, that is true and the account of this first 'naming' is in Acts 11: 19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. And this is by all Bible scholars understood to be a name given to them from the outside pagan world. Not: 'they called themselves' but 'they were called'. And probably rather derogatory in the meaning of 'those who always talk about this "Christ"'. There may be some more knowledgeable persons out there who could shed more light on the name "Christian" i.e., how these people came to be known as Christian or who gave them the name; Jesus(pbuh) for sure was not a Christian but was the one who submitted himself to the Will of God. No, Jesus was a Jew (as to his human nature). And the early Church was originally a fellowship of Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, while the majority of their fellow Jews rejected this. But saying that "Jesus was not a Christian" is no argument against Christianity, just as saying "Allah was not a Muslim" is no argument against Islam. Or to say that Ali was not a Shi'ite. Shi'ites became Shi'ites by following Ali. Christian means "a follower of Christ", it would not make sense to call "the Christ", i.e. the one followed, to be "a Christian" since that would say he is one who follows himself. Well I guess Mr. Katz is deluded into believeing that he has disocvered some flaw in Islam which his predecessor Christian 'Polemics" could not discover and he has to bring this to the attention of Muslims. That is why he has been Islam bashing for many year on s.r.i. under the guise of debate, discussion etc. How deluded one can get? I have been present on the newsgroup with varying intensity for about 1.5 years including a 3 month break last summer. That might qualify as 'many years' in your mathematics. And no, these arguments are not new. More thoughtful Christians have known the Christian arguments long ago. Only most Muslims have never cared to check them out before, so that they might think this is new and therefore 'probably without foundation'. But it is always better to compete with real arguments instead of calling something 'deluded' and seemingly running out of arguments because otherwise you would have presented them. After all you took the time to write. No reaction doesn't mean there is no answer. People can just be to busy. And there are many things I just ignore, though I would like to answer it and think I have an answer. For example, though this original post was directly addressing me, I decided to not answer it, because its content wasn't important enough for me. That does not mean its argument was especially strong. But IF you take the effort and time to respond, then it is better to say something substantial instead of calling the opponent deluded without offering an alternative. That's my personal opinion on this one. But I appreciate your pointing out of the correct fact of the origin of the name "Christian". The rest of the article was in my opinion not as thorough as the promising start. Warm regards, Jochen Katz
Overview on the questions
Answering Islam home page.