Daniel Peterson isn’t sure if Muhammad was a false prophet

Apparently for Daniel Peterson—Mormonism’s most prominent living apologist who is also the leading LDS scholar on Islam—denying that Jesus is the Lord and Savior who died on the cross and rose from the dead isn’t enough to make one a false prophet. He writes, “I’m not sure whether Muhammad was a prophet or not.” Yes, he really did say that.

What follows is a summary of some key points in the discussion that ensued.

Rob Bowman replies to Daniel Peterson, “Why haven’t you simply prayed about it? Don’t you believe that if you ask God in faith, he will make known to you whether someone is a prophet or not?”

Peterson ducks the question with, “Why do you assume that I haven’t?” And he goes on to shrug it off:

Whether Muhammad was or was not a prophet is not a matter of existential concern to me, and would make no difference to the way I live my life. I have found the gospel and church of Jesus Christ, and I don’t think God really cares that much about answering questions of merely antiquarian curiosity.

He then does some fancy dancing:

I’m inclined to think that Muhammad was not a full prophet in the LDS understanding of the word. But I was impressed, years ago, by the way in which what I believe to be his authentic call narrative matches ancient Semitic throne theophany visions, and I’m open to the theoretical possibility that the text of the Qur’an as we now possess it may not quite accurately represent his teachings — and that it is, specifically, the relative handful of anti-Christian verses in the current text that may have been inserted after his death, when the Muslim community came into fierce military conflict with the (Christian) Byzantine empire. Those who know Arabic, and particularly the way in which jahili poetry and the Qur’an are structured, will readily understand how easy it is to insert (or excise) a verse without detection. So I don’t altogether rule out the possibility that, in the case of Muhammad, we may be dealing with distorted information about a genuine ancient prophet of some sort. To decide whether he was or was not a prophet, at this juncture, would be, in my judgment, to go beyond the evidence. But I’m entirely willing to defer to the decisions of those who have plainly given this question more thought than I have and know more about the topic.

Bowman responds:

I had asked you if you didn’t believe, as a Mormon, that God would give you an answer if you asked him about an alleged prophet. You ducked that question…

From your earlier statement that you didn’t know if Muhammad was a prophet I can see only two possible conclusions: (1) you asked God if Muhammad was his prophet and didn’t get an answer, or (2) you didn’t ask. Scenario (1) doesn’t fit the LDS doctrine of revelation, which is why I tend to think scenario (2) is the reality. Your comment quoted above would seem to confirm my assumption, since someone who claims not to care if Muhammad was a prophet is unlikely to bother asking God about it.

To your statement quoted above I might retort that whether Joseph Smith was or was not a prophet is not a matter of existential concern to me and would make no difference to the way I live my life, but that would be a lie. If I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, I would become a Mormon. Likewise, if I knew that Muhammad was a prophet of God, I would become a Muslim. Since Islam is incompatible with both Mormonism and orthodox Christianity, neither one of us can plausibly claim not to know if Muhammad was a prophet of God; our choice to remain where we are proves we have answered that question in the negative. And the question of whether Muhammad was a true prophet of God certainly ought to be a matter of existential concern to anyone who claims to care about God’s truth and who is an expert on Islam!

On one point, though, I can agree with you. God does not need to answer questions about whether Muhammad was a prophet of God. We have the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and can see for ourselves (even from our very different theological perspectives) that the religion of Muhammad is not compatible with that revelation in Christ. I don’t need to ask God if Muhammad is God’s prophet, because I know Christ is God’s Son. Likewise, I don’t need to ask God if the Book of Mormon is the word of God, because I know the Bible is the word of God and that the religion founded on the Book of Mormon is not compatible with the Bible. Disagree with that conclusion you will, but the principle is a sound one: we need not pray to know if a religion is true if we have what we consider good, God-honoring reasons to conclude that it is not.

Rob goes on to ask, “Is there anyone in the history of the world who claimed to be a prophet of God that you can say confidently was or is a false prophet?” Jason replies, reflecting what I believe is a general Mormon reluctance to denounce any significant religion’s prophet as false: “No, not with full confidence. I can name some people who definitely were true prophets, however.”

Are we really trusting and following Jesus if we have this above attitude toward prophets? Rob makes this an issue about Jesus:

[T]he Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles repeatedly warned us to guard against following false prophets (Matt. 7:15; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26; Acts 13:6; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1-6; Rev. 2:2; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). How can you be on guard against them if you are not capable of determining who they are?

In the same thread, “Ahab” writes to “nackhadlow”:

Okay, so you are saying you are confident that those men were false prophets of God. Does that mean you think those men never said anything true? The way I see it, we are prophets of God when we declare what is true, just as God declares what is true, and we are false prophets when we declare the truth is false.

Rob responds:

That is not a biblical way of thinking about it. Jesus didn’t say, “All of us are sheep when we say the truth and savage wolves when we say something incorrect.”

Someone asks him, “How would Rob know who was a true prophet?” He answers that a true prophet would

  • be consistent with previously established revelation from God (i.e., the Bible)
  • live, not sinlessly, but generally speaking to a standard at least as high as that of righteous believers of his own time
  • build faithfully on that foundation with additional revelations that show him to be “ahead of the curve” in some way
  • give a coherent account of why God had raised him up to serve as a prophet at the particular time and place that he did
  • tell the truth about himself and others

At the end of the thread I couldn’t help but think: If you can’t trust Mormon apologists to make an honest assessment of Muhammad (who denied the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus), how can you trust them to make an honest assessment of Joseph Smith? Also, why the gigantic double-standard on praying to God for a spiritual/emotional epiphanic confirmation on whether a prophet is true or false?

Update: One Mormon is complaining at MADB that Peterson’s “comments differentiating between what Muhammad may have personally taught, and what was eventually included in the Qur’an are never addressed by the commentators [at MC], of course.”

I’m not buying into Peterson’s dance of differentiation for two main reasons:

– It’s not reasonable to believe that Muhammad was ignorant of Jesus. Any non-false/true prophets after Jesus ought to be heralding Jesus, pointing to Jesus, pushing Jesus as THE Messiah, as the Son of God. Muhammad affirmed some true things about Jesus, but Muhammad didn’t get on board with the Jesus-centered, Jesus-focused messages of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Yet Peterson still isn’t sure if Muhammad was a false prophet.

– So what if Peterson has doubts over Muhammad’s original teachings? He still should be able to simply pray to God for a clear yes or no answer to the question of whether Muhammad was a false prophet. Otherwise, he is selectively applying Mormonism’s spiritual/emotional epiphanic confirmation test to Smith and not to Muhammad. The question still stands to Daniel Peterson: “Why haven’t you simply prayed about it? Don’t you believe that if you ask God in faith, he will make known to you whether someone is a prophet or not?”

Peterson’s non-answer of, “Why do you assume that I haven’t?”, is simply embarrassing.

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67 Responses to Daniel Peterson isn’t sure if Muhammad was a false prophet

  1. f_melo says:

    "Are you all former Mormons who have are angry?"

    Why when anyone says something against mormonism it is interpreted as hate, or people being angry at the church? I´m sure if someone of a different religion told you that what you believed is bogus, you´d be upset and start pointing out why that wasn´t so…

    Always the victim mentality. I´m sure you never criticize anyone or anything, right? If you do, would you see that as anger or hate?

    "Maybe I'm mistaken but I'm not aware of any harm that the Mormon church has done en masse to the country or the world."

    The mormon church has done enormous harm in the lives of hundreds of people because of its lies and deception. They do not present their doctrines or history in an honest manner, and deceive millions of people into believing that Jesus is Satan´s brother, that people will one day become gods that will be worshipped, that Jesus was just one of us who was chosen, that they are a chosen covenant people, etc. All lies that are used to manipulate people to accomplish the leadership´s agenda.

    So, i hope you are aware of it now.

  2. f_melo says:

    Not to mention the harm polygamy has brought, or the lives wasted of people who pretty much leave their families to work endlessly in callings because they believe God called them to serve that way,the spiritual misery caused by blind faith deposited on false prophets, a false priesthood that gives a false sense of importance to men, all the countless hours wasted doing that temple work for the dead, a doctrine that isn´t biblical at all, millions of young men who go on missions not having a clue about real doctrine that are taught techniques of deception to emotionally involve and recruit people, while spreading lies that they teach as truth(because they never examine their own claims), etc., etc., etc.

  3. wyomingwilly says:

    Julius, Are you aware of the fact that it was the Mormon prophet(s) who began the attack on all
    other Churches ? Christians kind of take it seriously when Jesus says to "beware of false prophets".
    Evidently Jesus Himself felt that some men could make some very exclusive claims of spiritual
    authority and then use that to harm people who sincerely believe that they're being obedient to God
    by following these men's authoratative claims. The question that may confuse you is that of assuming
    that a false prophet is only one that is a devious or perverted individual. A false prophet is one who
    teaches inacurrately , this inacurrate , or false teaching can be spiritually harmful . Indeed even Mormon
    curriculum stresses that important point, as does the Book of Mormon. May you be a Berean- Acts17:11
    Thanks for dropping by . ww

  4. Violet says:

    Thank you for your interest and your comment regarding this site. I have found a wealth of knowledge about mormonism as well as authentic biblical Christianity. I encourage you to read as many comments as you can so you may see that this site is about debate and discussion, not slamming mormonism. Most of us love mormons whether they are our neighbors, family, children, school mates, and have found learning about mormonism a fascinating journey. The harm the mormon church commits is an 'us vs. them', we are the true church, and all other churchs are an abomination ('direct quote from prophet'). The harm is helping while 'dividing' denominations. If I have a mormon son, and I am not a mormon, I may not attend the ceremony. When converts are baptized, they have the name of a real deceased person attached to their name so that dead person has a chance to enter heaven under the true church of mormonism. The harm in the mormon church to me, is the 'milk before meat', offering themselves as 'Christians just like you', when in fact, their Jesus, was a man who 'progressed' to become a god, and you too, a man, can progress to become a god and live on a planet with more than one wife (goddess wives). To each is own, I believe, but to keep this relevant bit of information out of the public sphere, to me, is why this site is here. For us 'outsiders' who love our mormon human kind are trying to understand its truths, beliefs, traditions, culture and the 'belief' of having to be perfect in order to be covered by the atonement. 'The hand sanitizer, 'apply to clean hands' philosophy. To be worthy, you must give it your all, be your best, but forgiveness of sins has no 'bar' and is freely given to sinners as well.

  5. Jersey_Tomato says:

    F melo,
    I read 'the satanic bible' because some fundementalist christian said that 'mormo' appeared there, and that a follower of 'mormo' (god of the goules) was a "mormon". Its a strange thing that a "christian" would lead me to investigate sources such as these.

    Why should anything make your blood boil? These are all purely objective, removed statements. I am not interested in emotionalisms. I have learned a thing or two about the Egyptian culture just out of my own interest, and not anything to do with mormonism. There is a very close knit history between the monotheistic faiths and that of egypt.

    Strangely enough, one of the more creepy websites I have ever looked at was "jesus is lord". That person really knew too much about the occult. Shouldn't this give you something to think about?

  6. Jersey_Tomato says:

    well, go ahead and burn some korans if it makes you feel good. Do you think its going to improve Christian/Muslim relations? I doubt you are a convert from Islam. So, go ahead and burn a book or mormon instead.

    Am I going to start persecuting you for your belief? No, but I will protect myself from any harm as far as I am able. I am only human, and there is only so much I can do.

  7. Jersey_Tomato says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I am actually pretty ignorant of Islam and the Koran. So,, I don't know if what you say is true or not. I will take your answer as a Christian answer. However, I have read a bit about Neopaganism, and generally, the view is that Islam is in the same category as the Jewish Faith, and Christianity. That is about all I think I could say about that in this forum.

  8. falcon says:

    Man was that DP putting his toes right up to the nasty line or is the DP poster an impostor? It sure didn't take long for him to break-down. BUT I've seen that before with hardcore TBMs. It's basically the "you're not my intellectual equal response". What a phony! Instead of engaging, the DP poster simply insults and then cuts and runs. I'm always suspicious of these types because they use this type of technique as a ploy for elevating themselves. If this guy is a serious academic then I play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. I'm not real impressed with the DP poster. Is he the best and the brightest that Mormonism has to offer? Ah, the guy's stuck with a bad product and he has to make the best of it. I think, like most TBMs I've interacted with, they're much better hanging out at the wards where they can impress the easily impressed.

  9. Jersey_Tomato says:

    "Daniel Peterson"
    I am supposed to really believe this is the same Daniel of the topic of this thread? Isn't this someone else pretending to be him as a 'straw man'? Why didn't you just say "Thomas Monson"? Like he would really login to mormon coffee to debate anything?

  10. f_melo says:

    "well, go ahead and burn some korans if it makes you feel good"

    I´m not burning Korans, that would never make me feel good. Don´t try to paint me as an extremist…

    "Do you think its going to improve Christian/Muslim relations?"

    I don´t care about Christian/Muslim relations – i´m free to worship at the altar of my choosing, and so are they. Any "relations" as you´re suggesting should be treated under the constitution, under the law, as it is supposed to be.

    "So, go ahead and burn a book or mormon instead."

    No, i´m a follower of Christ, and i´m not an extremist terrorist as you´re trying to suggest. Christians shouldn´t be burning any religious books whatsoever.

    "Am I going to start persecuting you for your belief? No, but I will protect myself from any harm as far as I am able."

    I guess you are non-religious, huh? Protect yourself from what? From me saying that Joseph or Mohammed is a false prophet? What a joke!

    You´re one of those who are crazy to see any religious people wiped out from the planet, claiming they are the ones behind terrorist actions… i´m sorry, terrorism is political in nature usually using the disguise of religion extremism, to divert attention away from the real issues.

  11. f_melo says:

    besides, extremism and fundamentalism are not the same.

    Religion, like anything else, can be used for evil – but that doesn´t mean that someone who is not willing to compromise his beliefs is evil. The followers of Christ were never commanded to impose Christianity by the sword. God wants a new heart, a person who has been born-again spiritually, and you can´t force that by the sword.

  12. Violet says:

    No one is hating on muslims or mormons. The point is he is not sure if Muhammed was a prophet. That is the point. Doesn't that seem a little strange to you? Mormons paint the picture that Joseph restored the church, and that all other religions were wrong and an abomination. The catholic church was a whore or something, and her protestant daughter and now an LDS scholar isn't sure if Muhammed was a prophet. That is the point. No one on this site is hating on anybody. Discussion and debate.

  13. falcon says:

    Mormons have no standard by which to judge a prophet. It's a wide open gig, this being a prophet. It's especially good if the person can claim a visitation by some sort of heavenly being, hopefully an angel of some sort. As we have seen, the Mormon prophet Smith discounted the Bible as a reliable source of revelation and thus was able to substitute his own. Mormons who have grown up in the religion have a frame of reference that is not only skewed but is disordered. They are willing to accept the Mormon form of thinking because they don't know any different. Mormons are definitely ships without rudders when it comes to judging and discerning between false and true prophets as well as false and true prophesy. Having accepted also the premise that the Bible is corrupt, revelation then becomes the entire witness for a Mormon.
    The apostle Paul was right on the mark when he wrote in Ephesians about spiritual warfare. In the final chapter he outlined the armor a Christian was to wear and the offensive weapon we are to use to defeat the spirits of darkness. Mormons have no armor and thus they are subject to every wind of doctrine that blows them hither and yon until they end up on the rocks of spiritual destruction without eternal life.

  14. f_melo

    Here's what I wrote in the comments to the video (constrained by the character limit)…

    Complete garbage with no credibility whatsoever. Neo-paganist dogma imposed on history. A conspiracy theorist love-in.

    Summary: Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code" was right! Christianity is actually Paganism (despite the efforts of its founders to convince you otherwise – see the NT) and what can be objectively and demonstrably shown from history need not trouble the earnest enquirer. Awkward though, that the timelines don't work, e.g. the Mithraic religions claimed resurrection stories AFTER the NT.

  15. f_melo says:

    Great comment!

    that video is full of factual errors, the most silly of them is saying that Christ was born on December 25th…

  16. hugh watt says:


    Saying Islam is in "the same category as the Jewish faith and Christianity," is like saying Mormonism is in the same category as Christianity.

  17. Pingback: Mormons and Muslims Similar in Many Ways | Mormon Coffee

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