Tag Archives: religion

Ibrahim’s Demise and its Implication on the Prophethood of Mohammad (p)

Ibrahim’s Demise and its Implication on the Prophethood of Mohammad (p)

 

Question Mark

Ibrahim was one of the few sons that the Prophet of Islam had (peace be upon him). Sadly he passed away as a mere toddler. The books of Seerah narrate the hapless incident in some detail. The following are the words of Ibn Sa’d [1.] – one of the early biographers:

 

“He (Ibn Sa’d) said: Al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn informed us: ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Ghasil informed us on the authority of ‘Asim Ibn `Umar Ibn Qatadah, he on the authority of Mahmud Ibn Labid; he said:

 

The sun eclipsed the day Ibrahim, the son of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, died. Thereupon the people said: The sun eclipsed because of the demise of Ibrahim. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, came out when he heard this. Thereupon he praised and glorified Allah and then said: After that, 0 people ! verily the sun and the moon are the signs of Allah and they do not eclipse because of the death or life of any one, when you perceive this, hasten to the mosques. His eyes had tears. They said: 0 Apostle of Allah ! do you weep although you are the Apostle of Allah? He said: Verily I am a human being whose eyes shed tears and whose heart fears, and we do not utter”  ([p.86] Account of Ibrahim the Son of the apostle of Allah (May Allah bless him), Volume 1, Parts 1.37.41, Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir),

 

 

The coincidence of solar eclipse with the demise of Ibrahim must have been the best opportunity for the Prophet (peace be upon him) had he any ulterior agenda. A community so deeply rooted in superstition and polytheism must have easily accepted the injunctions of Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his authority had he (mis) used the celestial phenomenon.

On the contrary, we find Mohammad (peace be upon him) acting as he ought to act: as a bona fide apostle of Allah (SWT). Uninterested from any hidden motives, Prophet (peace be upon him) disabused that the eclipse was not consequential to the demise of his son. In fact his words, “…they do not eclipse because of the death or life of any one” further explains that he did not took for his son any special privilege than “any one” else when he had all the opportunity to do so. Furthermore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not give any superstitious twist to the celestial bodies for they are merely “the signs of Allah”; His mere creation in the house of Islam; they do not represent any “moon god”.

Let alone any worldly motive, we do not think that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have been much blamed had he used the incident to at least extricate the non-believers from idolatry, shirk and blasphemy into the fold of Islam! Saving people from idolatries and blasphemies could have been much better choice than not to allow them to believe that the sun eclipsed because of the unfortunate occasion of Ibrahim’s death. But he did not even do that. He did not dupe anyone into the fold of Islam based on the extraterrestrial event.

Although it is just another incident proving the noble character and the true nature of his divine mission but for us it is enough to prove that he was indeed the Apostle of Allah (SWT).

 

Footnote:

[1.] Anti-Islamic propagandists love using biographical works Ibn Sa’d and others to demonize Islam. So we thought it would fair if we use the same book. Otherwise there are more reliable books on Seerah available.

 

How Were People Before Crucifixion Saved?

How Were People Before Crucifixion Saved?

Enquiring the validity of Vicarious Atonement in pre-Jesus (p) era

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

Based on the teachings of the Old Testament it is extremely difficult to accept the Christian philosophy that sins before Jesus (peace be upon him) were forgiven in lieu of his future alleged death and resurrection.

On the fly, when we argued the same with a Christian at the Muslim Debate Initiative (MDI) Blog, Shamoun was particularly unhappy about it so much so that he published an official response to the comment.

It is now time that we respond Shamoun for his slanted interpretations but before it let us reiterate that it is not just the Old Testament but even the New Testament, as we would document in near future, overwhelmingly obviates the extreme necessity of Christ’s (peace be upon him) alleged sacrificial death and resurrection for the remission of sins.

 

Was it predestined that the “Lamb” would be slain?

 

Quite probably if Shamoun had to make a case that sins before Jesus (peace be upon him) were forgiven in lieu of his future alleged death and resurrection then it must be first proven that the crucifixion was predestined. Shamoun quoted passages from New Testament to prove it. Nevertheless, except for a passage from Peter’s epistle none other even comes close to prove it. We leave it to the readers to decide.

Even if we accept for the sake of argument that Peter and John believed that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) crucifixion was foreordained yet this is not what Jesus (peace be upon him) seems to have believed about himself! Consider for example the following passages:

“They came to a place of Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch. He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. “Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”” (Mark 14: 32-36, Good News Edition)

It is noticeable that given the first choice, Jesus (peace be upon him) would never had gone through the sufferings of the cross even if that would have allegedly remitted for the sins of the world!

Furthermore notice the way Jesus (peace be upon him) addressed God. He called Him very personally as “my Father”! Christians, especially the Trinitarians, interpret out of such personal expressions Jesus’ (peace be upon him) special and unique relationship with God so much so that because God is his Father he ought to share essence and divinity with God. Thus, given the Trinitarian interpretation, it is a divine “Son of God” requesting for the circumvention of the sufferings; and this further aggravates Shamouns case. Since as a co-equal “God” with Father, Jesus (peace be upon him) is expected to have known the plan of human salvation at its design stage. And Jesus’ (peace be upon him) reaction at Gethsemane seem to defy it all together. He seems to be more concerned about his suffering than for the eternal damnation of entire human race! Jesus (peace be upon him) seen to have neglected the Christian notion that there was not any other salvation plan other than his suffering on the cross! Thus, even if the alleged crucifixion was predestined, Jesus (peace be upon him), given an opportunity, never wanted to face it.

Such a state of affairs with Jesus (peace be upon him) settles nicely with the way he allegedly died. There was a sense of grudge and unwillingness to accept the “predestined plan of God which made him question God for his ill-fate:

 

“At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” Some of the people there heard him and said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah!” One of them ran up with a sponge, soaked it in cheap wine, and put it on the end of a stick. Then he held it up to Jesus’ lips and said, “Wait! Let us see if Elijah is coming to bring him down from the cross!” With a loud cry Jesus died.” (Mark 15: 33-37, Good News Edition)

 

Firstly Jesus (peace be upon him) requests God to save him from the ordeal of the cross and then he dies with grievance against God that he was abandoned for an excruciating death on the cross. These reactions are hard to reconcile against the basic Christian notion that Jesus (peace be upon him) pre-planned and so knew about his crucifixion with other persons in the godhead even before the creation of the world! Furthermore, it is extremely implausible that remission of sins before Jesus’ (peace be upon him) actual crucifixion were taking place due his unwilling and future suffering on the cross.

As such the redactor(s) of later gospel (Luke’s gospel [1.]) deemed it prudent to remove the controversial moaning and expressions of anguish on the cross. So now Jesus (peace be upon him) is not complaining to God for his abandonment on the cross; rather he is now made to react as he should react. He is now in perfect harmony with the initial plan chalked before the creation of the world; he is now satisfied with the decision and plan of God:

 

“Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father! In your hands I place my spirit!He said this and died.” (Luke 23: 46, Good News Edition)

 

The oldest gospel – Mark’s gospel – has more problems for Shamoun. Remember that crucifixion alone is not enough for Christian version of salvation. Jesus (peace be upon him) must also resurrect after his alleged death!

 

…and if Christ has not been raised from death, then we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to believe” (1 Corinthians 15:14, Good News Edition)

 

However, the best and oldest manuscripts of Mark’s gospel end with absolutely no witness to the resurrected Jesus (peace be upon him). This would have become so serious in the light of the Pauline philosophy of salvation that a “new” ending was added to Mark’s gospel!

On the foregoing, we have a situation wherein Jesus (peace be upon him) is unwilling and acts contrary to the initial alleged plan of his suffering for the salvation of humanity. We have no witness to his resurrection according to the best and earliest gospel manuscript. Yet Shamoun would claim remissions of pre-Jesus (p) era (Old Testament era, say) were due to Christ’s alleged crucifixion which was to materialize in far future! It seems extremely far-fetched upon objective enquiry.

Let Lamb be slain at the Foundation of the World

 

 

Shamoun quotes a number of New Testament passages to claim that it was the pre-plan of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) alleged death that allowed God forgive people even before he (peace be upon him) was actually sacrificed:

 

“Now how do these passages establish the fact that Christ’s death had been predestined from the foundation of the world? And how do they prove that the reason God was forgiving and saving his people even before Christ actually died is because Jesus’ death in their place had already been foreordained?

The answer comes from John’s description of the book of life as belonging to the Lamb who had been slain. 

The people whose names had been written in the Lamb’s book of life before the creation of the world are those whom Christ redeems by his blood:

“I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’ And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders A LAMB STANDING, AS IF SLAIN, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; FOR YOU WERE SLAIN, AND PURCHASED FOR GOD WITH YOUR BLOOD MEN FROM EVERY TRIBE AND TONGUE AND PEOPLE AND NATION. YOU HAVE MADE THEM to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’ And EVERY CREATED THING which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, AND TO THE LAMB, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:1-14”

 

The Revelation passage does talk about a weird type of a killed “Lamb” who assumedly has a book and the people who had their names registered in it are saved. However, it does not allude that these names are inclusive (or that they must include) of the names who lived before Jesus (peace be upon him). It is possible, in fact highly probable as we would soon observe, that the names previously written are those people who would eventually come to believe in Jesus (peace be upon him) either because of his or his apostles’ ministry. Now, consider the following passage which was ironically cited by Shamoun:

 

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’ Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the GREAT TRIBULATION , and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.’” Revelation 7:9-17

 

Notice the passage specifically identifies the people who got their sins remitted (“white robes”) in the blood of the slain Lamb. They are those who came out of the “great tribulation”. So the names previously written in the book of Lamb has to be of those who faced the great tribulation and yet came out of it as believers. Jesus (peace be upon him) identifies for us the timing of this “great tribulation”:

 

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For THEN shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Matthew 24:15-25, King James Version)

 

It is clear from the passage that the “great tribulation” did not as yet materialized during the ministry of Jesus (peace be upon him). It was expected to happen sometime in the future. Thus, the people whose names were previously written in the Lamb’s book of life, in other words, those who got their sins remitted in the blood of slain Lamb must be those who would eventually face Jesus’ (peace be upon him) future prediction of the “great tribulation” and came out of it.

So names going into the Lamb’s book of life are contingent upon the experience of the “great tribulation” and a subsequent escape from it. This in turn implies that the Lamb’s book of life cannot possibly have the names of people before the generation of Jesus (peace be upon him)/or the era of “great tribulation”! Consequently, people of pre-Jesus (peace be upon him) era could not have been forgiven in lieu of his suffering and alleged sacrificial death.

 

That is the reason when Shamoun argues,

 

In other words, since the names of the redeemed were written in the Lamb’s book of life before the world’s foundation then the means of their salvation must have also been ordained before creation as well. This is precisely why it is called the book of life of the Lamb who had been slain, e.g. it is the book that includes all the names of those whom the Lord Jesus purchased by his sacrificial death on the cross.

This, therefore, establishes my point that everyone prior to Christ actually dying were being saved because of his vicarious sacrifice since God knew that the Lamb, i.e. the Lord Jesus, would be slain in their place in order to free them from their sins.

 

He merely assumes unwarrantedly that the Lamb’s book of life has names of every generation and era including those before Jesus (peace be upon him).

 

 

Conclusion

 

Jews have traditionally disagreed with Christian interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and this paper gave us hint towards it. Traditionally Jews never believed that the “Messiah” would have to be sacrificed for the sins of the world yet subjective Christians like Shamoun would claim that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) sacrifice and subsequent vicarious atonement were “predestined”.

Nevertheless, the Jesus (peace be upon him) of the earliest canonical gospel does not seem to behave according to the “predestined” plan. If he would have had a choice, Jesus (peace be upon him) would never had gone through the ordeal of the cross. More importantly, Jesus’ (peace be upon him) very last statement on earth belies all the “predestintion”. Either in frustrated despair or unknowing confusion, Jesus (peace be upon him) enquired why he was abandoned on the cross?

Shamoun quoted New Testament passages in support of his theory however, ironically, the same passage(s) established that it was not possible that people before Jesus (peace be upon him) were forgive in lieu of his prospective (alleged) sacrifice. This is because for people to have benefited from Christ’s (peace be upon him) alleged sacrifice it was necessary that they have their names registered in the Lamb’s book of life; and all the names which were eventually written in the book were of those who would come out of the “great tribulation”. And we know that the “great tribulation” was to occur after Jesus’ (peace be upon him) ministry! So if we are enquiring how people were saved before Jesus (peace be upon him) then we can be sure that they were not saved for prospective alleged sacrifice of the Messiah (peace be upon him); rather, they were saved as the Old Testament postulates it.

Therefore, when Shamoun rants such as,

 

Time for greenhorn and his partner in taqiyya, Sami Zaatari, to find another line of work. Attacking Christianity and defending the lies of Islam are simply not cutting it for them.

It sounds merely hyperbolic claims devoid of any objectivity.

 

Notes:

  • Unless mentioned, the biblical texts are quoted from Shamoun’s paper.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original, is ours.

 

 

Footnote

[1.] Christians have an “all-inclusive” theory wherein they would argue that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) complete statement on the cross is drawn by a holistic view of the gospels. And so Mark’s narrative must be supplemented with other gospels. Although the approach seems reasonable, however, it has at least the following twofold problems:

Firstly, it does not take care of the historical fact that not all gospels were present simultaneously. We know that at least a decade passed since Mark that Matthew and Luke came into existence. So there was hardly a chance for people in the interim to have knowledge of all narratives. Furthermore, even when all gospels came into existence, not all communities had them at one time given the incipient state of the religion and technological backwardness of the world. Add to it that even the canon was not decided until the fourth century.

Secondly, the approach does not recognize the efforts of authors and the sources at their disposition; since the authors had particular agendas that they wanted to portray while penning their gospels. So by having an “all-inclusive” approach to the scriptures, we do not allow a particular author to represent the life of Jesus (peace be upon him) as he knew (from his sources) and wanted to portray. Therefore, the “all-inclusive” approach engenders a motley description which can be unjust to individual gospel author(s) writing in his individual capacity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Attributes of the New Testament “God”

 

A probable portrait of the Christian "God" as described in the Book of Revelation

A probable portrait of the Christian “God” as described in the Book of Revelation

Strange Attributes of the New Testament “God”

An enquiry into Christian faith beyond mere humanization of God

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

 

 

The Qur’an does testify that the pagans of Mecca used to believe that it was Allah (SWT) who created everything that exists,

If thou ask them, who created them, they will certainly say, Allah:

Yet ironically in the same verse Allah (SWT) imputes them to have gone astray from the truth!

If thou ask them, who created them, they will certainly say, Allah: How then are they deluded away (from the Truth)? (Qur’an 43:87)

The pagans of Mecca even believed that it was Allah (SWT) who governed the universe,

 

And if indeed thou ask them who it is that sends down rain from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death, they will certainly reply, “Allah!” Say, “Praise be to Allah!” But most of them understand not. (Qur’an 29:63)

 

Yet noticeably Allah (SWT) disregards them by stating that they “understand not”. In other words, none of their aforementioned beliefs could make them monotheists; they were still condemned as “polytheists”. This was because although it is important that Allah (SWT) is to be accepted as the Creator, Sustainer etc it is, however, not enough!

To become believers of one True God it is important that God’s attributes be not violated, i.e., we should not assign the attributes of God to any of His creatures or vice-versa. This is extremely important to maintain Gods oneness of attributes. However, unfortunately, a lot of communities have stumbled upon this violation of God’s attributes including, sadly, Christianity.

Earlier we have documented how Christianity breached God’s attributes thereby violating monotheism itself. It was with regards to God’s humanization in the form of Jesus (peace be upon him). In this paper we would further continue beyond it.

 

Beyond Incarnation

 

Christians provide a number of explanations in defense of their incarnation theory. One of the leading amongst them is the Pauline passage that Jesus (peace be upon him) gave up his divine attributes to enter into humanity (c.f. Philippians 2: 6-8). Although humanization of God is open idolatry yet we are not concerned about it in this paper. We want to look beyond it into areas which are far grotesque than mere humanization!

It is interesting to note that John happens to be the only author amongst the gospel writers who has entitled Jesus (peace be upon him) as the “Lamb” (c.f. gospel of John 1: 29, 36); however, this usage of the title is figurative. Jesus (peace be upon him) is symbolized as the sacrificial animal or the “Lamb” to be slaughtered in commemoration of the Passover ritual of the Old Testament.

However, there is one more book in the New Testament attributed to “John” – the book of Revelation – which edifies that the title “Lamb” was not only figuratively used in the New Testament; it has plain literal meanings as well. In his fanciful “visions”, John goes overboard to portray Jesus (peace be upon him) as nothing less than a pagan mythical beast:

 

Then I saw a Lamb standing in the centre of the throne, surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb appeared to have been killed. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God that have been sent throughout the whole earth. The Lamb went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sits on the throne. As he did so, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. They sang a new song:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to break open its seals. For you were killed, and by your sacrificial death you bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation and race. You have made them a kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they shall rule on earth.” Again I looked, and I heard angels, thousands and millions of them! They stood round the throne, the four living creatures, and the elders, and sang in a loud voice:…The four living creatures answered, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshipped. ” (Revelation 5: 6-14)

Thus, in the book of Revelation, Jesus (peace be upon him) – the assumed “God” – is morphed from a human being to a weird “seven horned, seven eyed” beast. More interestingly, this mythical creature not just stands on the magnificent Throne of God but also receives “worship” by some of the best Christians!

Christians typically understood the verse to signify Christ’s (peace be upon him) perfect power and wisdom – omnipotence and omniscience. It is because horn and eye represent power and knowledge and seven of each adds to it their respective perfections:

 

 

Seven horns – As horn is the emblem of power, and seven the number of perfection, the seven horns may denote the all-prevailing and infinite might of Jesus Christ. He can support all his friends; he can destroy all his enemies; and he can save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him.

 

Seven eyes – To denote his infinite knowledge and wisdom: but as these seven eyes are said to be the seven Spirits of God, they seem to denote rather his providence, in which he often employs the ministry of angels; therefore, these are said to be sent forth into all the earth. See on Rev_1:4 (note). (Revelation 5:6, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)

 

 

Christians might interpret seven horns and seven eyes to represent “God’s” divine power and knowledge; however, to any non-Christian monotheist these can only represent bestial (beast-like) qualities unjustly and blasphemously imputed upon God.

 

Furthermore, even if it be accepted for the sake of argument that horns and eyes represent some divine attribute, yet a number of other body parts of a “Lamb” cannot possibly represent any “divine” attribute of God!

 

It is unconceivable in any sensible monotheistic purview that God would transfigure into a mythical “Lamb” and grow horns – in fact seven of them – and seven eyes and stand on the Throne of God with his neck slit and blood oozing out. Given this grotesque portrayal of New Testament “God”, how feasible is it that this was the same “God” which was worshipped by Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others (peace be upon them all)?

 

New Testament’s portrayal of God as animals has not yet ended. Since the gospels, very famously, has portrayed the third person of the Christian godhead – the Holy Ghost – as a “dove”:

 

 

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:22, King James Version)

 

 

On the foregoing, qualified Bible expositor J.P. Lange makes some very intriguing remarks:

 
In a bodily shape, like a dove.—The mention of the dove by all the four Evangelists, plainly shows, that the descent of the Spirit was usually compared, by the Baptist who saw it, and afterwards by those who related it, to the descent of a dove. It is, however, by no means necessary to infer, from the σωματικν εδος of Luke, the actual form of a dove. Luke does not say, σωματικῷ εἴδει περιστερᾶς, but ὡς περιστεράν. By supposing a ray of light to have descended from the opened heaven, gently, swiftly, and evenly, like the downward flight of a dove, and to have shone around the head of the praying Saviour for some space of time, we escape many difficulties, and obtain a representation beautiful in itself, and becoming the divine majesty. It is by no means proved, that the dove was, in the days of Jesus, regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Holy Spirit. The very shy nature of the dove renders it difficult to conceive its descending from heaven, and abiding on a newly baptized person, even in a vision. And if ancient Christian art, exchanging the figure for the fact, constantly introduced a visible dove into every representation of the baptism, it is only probable that this unæsthetic treatment was the result of an exegetical error. Our view also will satisfactorily explain why Justin Martyr (Dial. cum Tryph. c. 88), as well as the Gospel of the Hebrews (Epiphanius, Hœres. xxx. 13), mentions a vivid ray of light as suddenly surrounding the banks of Jordan. By a very natural symbolism, light was regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Divinity; and we can see no reason why the descent of a ray of light should not also have been compared to the descent of a dove. (Luke 3:22, Lange Commentary by J. P. Lange)

 

 

Notice that commentator Lange is not willing to admit, unlike other Bible commentators like Robertson (c.f. Robertson’s Word Picture) [1.], that the “divine God” took the form of a “dove”. For Lange, it is not “necessary” that whatever descended had “the actual form of a dove”! In fact Lange provides his reasons why “dove” should not represent Holy Spirit. For this reason he is even willing to deem traditional and historical church practice as an “exegetical error”. And we must understand Lange’s tacit uneasiness to accept the more obvious meaning of the statements!

 

In fact, it is for obvious idolatrous issues that Lange is more willing to accept “descent of ray of light” in place of a “dove”! Lange has very expressly indicated that he has no problems in accepting the descent of a “ray of light” (not a “dove”) upon Jesus (peace be upon him) since “light was regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Divinity”; unlike this, “It is by no means proved, that the dove was, in the days of Jesus, regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Holy Spirit.” And therefore, rather than accepting the obvious imports of Luke’s statement which is corroborated by all other gospels (c.f. Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, John 1:32), Lange chooses to go by the views of mere church father Justin Martyr and a book – Gospel of Hebrews – which he himself rejects as apocryphal! [This creates another problem that the traditional Christian understand of Holy Ghost’s transformation into a dove is not supported by one of the earliest “apostolic” father!]

 

Lange rather candidly admits why he chose Justin Martyr and the Gospel of Hebrews to the views of the “inspired” author(s) Luke. It was because, “By supposing a ray of light to have descended from the opened heaven, gently, swiftly, and evenly, like the downward flight of a dove, and to have shone around the head of the praying Saviour for some space of time, we escape many difficulties, and obtain a representation beautiful in itself, and becoming the divine majesty.”

 

It must be enquired as to why Lange faced “difficulties” when Holy Ghost – the “God” – was represented as a “dove”? Why this representation of “God” as “dove” was not “beautiful” enough for Lange but an “unaesthetic treatment”? The answer is quite obvious. No claimant of monotheism can easily accept his/her God be represented as a “dove” without finding other “explanations” out of it! And so Lange “explained”, strangely enough, that the descent of the ray of light is represented by the descent of a dove! Lange is very strangely contended enough to relate the hovering of a dove to the straight downward descent of a ray of light; and we must understand this phenomenon!

 

There can be one more reason why Lange finds it unpalatable to represent Holy Ghost as “dove”. It was traditionally of Satan – the first time ever, even before God – to turn into animals for achieving objectives:

 

 

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (Genesis 3:1-4, King James Version)

 

 

Just like the Holy Ghost was not initially a “dove” in the same way biblical Satan was not really a “serpent”; it was a “Dragon”. The book of Revelation illustrates us on it:

 

 

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)

 

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (Revelation 20:2)  

 

And subsequently, using animal transformations as apparatus, which is a satanic modus operandi, could have troubled Lange to impute the same on his “God”!

 

 

Conclusion

 

Allah (SWT) has declared the following warning about the sin of polytheism (Arabic. Shirk – associating partners with God) very precisely in the Qur’an:

 

Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed. (Qur’an   4:48)

 

If associating partners with Allah (SWT) is unpardonable sin then how saved are the Christians who ascribe bestial attributes to God. It comes extremely unpleasant and grotesque to accept that the “God” of “monotheists” would stand on the Throne with the appearance of a “Lamb” with seven horns protruding his head and an equal number of eyes, and a bleeding neck for people to prostrate “worship” it! How would a “jealous” God (c.f. Exodus 34:14) react when he comes to know that He was compared to a mere “Lamb”, albeit, seven-horned and seven-eyed and a “dove”!

Yet if Christians are still monotheists by believing in multiple animal-like “Gods” then we would have to justify why pagans are pagans for their belief. A lot of pagan cults have mythical beasts as their gods and this should not, at least, differentiate them from those who call themselves “Christians”!

That is why we adjure our Christian brethren to consider this paper beyond mere apologetics. We request you earnestly to have a talk with yourselves as to how correct is the belief wherein one of the gods of the Trinitarian godhead is said to look like a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes and a bleeding neck and other one resembles a dove! If you are true to yourself then you would agree that there are gross and colossal issues herein with the Trinitarian brand of “monotheism” and that such a description of God can only come out as figments of mere human imagination with nothing divine “inspiration” behind it. Will it then be not be much safer to follow the following Qur’anic injunctions?

 

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;  He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Qur’an 112:4)

And,

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Qur’an 42:11)

 

 

Footnotes:

[1.] In a bodily form (sōmatikōi eidei). Alone in Luke who has also “as a dove” (hōs peristeran) like Matthew and Mark. This probably means that the Baptist saw the vision that looked like a dove. Nothing is gained by denying the fact or possibility of the vision that looked like a dove. God manifests his power as he will. The symbolism of the dove for the Holy Spirit is intelligible. (Luke 3:22, Robertson’s Word Picture)

 

Notes:

  • All Qur’anic texts taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical texts taken from Good News Edition.
  • We apologize if this paper has offended any sincere Christian believer. It was never our intention to hurt any feelings or jeer any belief. We respect your choices. Nevertheless, we quoted passages which are already registered in the Bible and made our arguments on it.

 

 

 

 

Examining New Testament’s Prediction of Jesus’ (p) Return

 

More on New Testament’s Miscalculation of the End of World

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

In one of our earlier paper we documented how the gospel traditions impute inaccurate predictions of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) second return and subsequent end of the world on him. According to Jesus (peace be upon him), end of the world was so near that some of his disciples would have remained alive to experience it.

It is now time to further that issue with the New Testament disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him). The way they interpreted, perceived and reacted to Jesus’ (peace be upon him) prediction of imminent end of the world and his second coming!

Paul’s prediction Jesus’ (p) return

 

It would be good if we start with Paul. While writing to the Thessalonians, Paul had the following to predict:

What we are teaching you now is the Lord’s teaching: We who are alive on the day the Lord comes will not go ahead of those who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15)

It is very straight forward and obvious that Paul believed some amongst them would still remain alive on Jesus’ (peace be upon him) return! However, unfortunately, all of them are dead and Jesus (peace be upon him) is yet to return to the world!

Nevertheless, it would be fair if we also consider standard Christian understanding of the passage. Well known biblical expositor Adam Clarke reconciles as follows while dealing with the passage:

We which are alive, and remainBy the pronoun we the apostle does not intend himself, and the Thessalonians to whom he was then writing; he is speaking of the genuine Christians which shall be found on earth when Christ comes to judgment. From not considering the manner in which the apostle uses this word, some have been led to suppose that he imagined that the day of judgment would take place in that generation, and while he and the then believers at Thessalonica were in life. But it is impossible that a man, under so direct an influence of the Holy Spirit, should be permitted to make such a mistake: nay, no man in the exercise of his sober reason could have formed such an opinion; there was nothing to warrant the supposition; no premises from which it could be fairly deduced; nor indeed any thing in the circumstances of the Church, nor in the constitution of the world, that could have suggested a hint of the kind. The apostle is speaking of the thing indefinitely as to the time when it shall happen, but positively as to the Order that shall be then observed.

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Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

A look into New Testament beyond mere “Christian” disciples of Jesus (p)

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

In the last installment we proved that Qur’an does not lend any veracity to the “Bible”. We also quoted that Qur’an does claim the original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims (c.f. Qur’an 3:52, 5:111); this obviously offends Christians like Sam Shamoun who claims that Qur’an is at historical “error”.

Therefore, in this part, we would consider New Testament itself for the validity of the Qur’anic assertion. We would see that there were many “other-apostles” of Jesus (peace be upon him) albeit, sarcastically called as “chief-apostles” by Paul (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:5), and put under extremely negative light (as expected) who, interestingly, had beliefs very similar to the Qur’anic claim!

Let Loose the Letters

 

Most of the Epistles of the New Testament were written to address specific issues which the fledgling first century (earliest) churches were facing. In this regard, Pauline epistles to Corinthians are of immediate interest to us since they relate to our investigation quite precisely.

However, before we actually delve into the epistle, it is important to observe the tone which Paul has used. Consider the following “verses”:

     “From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes –” (1 Corinthians 1:1)

Note that Paul starts off by strongly emphasizing that it was by the “will” of God Himself that he became an apostle of Jesus (peace be upon him). In other words, he wanted to assert his apostolic authority over the Corinthians. This phenomenon is interspersed throughout the epistle. Consider a similar emphasis again merely eight verses later:

     “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my brothers…” (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Paul did not find it redundant to reiterate his “apostolic” authority one more time:

     “So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

Why was Paul so concerned to exert his apostolic authority so often? Probably because masses were not recognizing him as any so-called “apostle” of Jesus (peace be upon him). In fact, as we would soon explore, Paul was indeed unrecognized to have any “apostolic authority”. This would have a close link with our principal investigation: whether Jesus (peace be upon him) had Muslim followers? We would start from the very reason why Paul was made to write the letters to the Corinthians!

Paul had been informed that there was a vitriolic schism in the “Christian” community of Corinth and so he dispatches letters to the Corinthians addressing the issue; exhorting people to unite (c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:11). However, the nature of the dispute is very crucial because the earliest “Christian” community was divided over the apostles:

     “Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another,     “I follow Christ.”” (1 Corinthians 1:12, Good News Edition)

The above quotation indicates that the preaching of different apostles were different. (And they differed very arduously as we would subsequently observe.) Otherwise it makes no sense that the community would be divided over apostles if they were monolithic.

Moreover the last part of the citation is utmost important since it alludes to a particular group in the community which denied to follow any so-called “apostles” than Jesus (peace be upon him) himself! Who could be these people? New Testament provides meager information about these “Christ-followers”; however, we can be sure that they cannot be Jews since they recognized Jesus (peace be upon him) as “Christ”. Similarly, they cannot be “Christians” either, that is, the “orthodox” Pauline Christians – believing cross, alleged death and resurrection and deity of Jesus (p) – since they rejected Paul to follow Jesus (peace be upon him); be mindful that there was a certain group who was claiming to be “Paul-followers”; and these “Christ-followers” did not coincide with them in their declaration! Thus, if this group was neither Jewish nor Christian, then obviously there remains a big question as to who were these people?

Moreover, why this group choose to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself rejecting multiple “apostles” at their disposition who were readily, in turn, claiming to follow Jesus (peace be upon him), Paul for example (c.f. 1 Corinthians 11:1). Did not they know that these were “apostles” either handpicked or ‘supernaturally’ chosen en-route Damascus by Jesus (peace be upon him) himself? The only reason they would reject “apostles” to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) is when the apostles differed from Jesus (peace be upon him) so much so that they thought it is best to follow Christ (peace be upon him) himself rather than following differing apostles!

We cannot even dash off these Christ-followers as “heretics”; they can only be condemned as heretics when the condemner is presupposed to be an “orthodox”! In other words, it depends on the perspective one is looking from. For it is sure that Paul and his preaching were “heretical” for these “Christ-followers”, as we would soon observe through the pages of New Testament!

And thus, as discussed above, if this particular group was neither Jewish nor Christian then it certainly opens up the contention that followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not merely restricted to those who became positively famous through the pages of New Testament and subsequently in the “orthodox” churches as “Christians”. And so, for the rest of the paper we would further substantiate this notion. In the course, we would indirectly glean intriguing deductions that groups like “Christ-followers” denied deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) to consider him as mere mortal thus further corroborating the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were Muslims.

Finally, it is worthwhile to note that the historical, Muslim followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself than any other “apostle” just like contemporary Muslims have to follow Mohammad (peace be upon him) than any other teacher no matter how influential s/he is and if s/he differs from Mohammad (peace be upon him) himself! So in this context, these Christ-followers come very close to the Qur’anic assertion that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) original followers were Muslims: following him (p); rejecting intricate philosophies (trinity, vicarious atonement) of “apostles”, to submit their wills to God alone.

“Apostle” Paul rejected at Corinth

Remember that the first Pauline letter to the Corinthians was written because particular groups in the community chose individual apostles for themselves. It was not merely an issue of choosing one from the wide range of apostles, rather it entailed with it rejecting others while choosing the one for the particular group. As such those group who chose apostles other than Paul, or even those who ultimately chose Christ (peace be upon him) himself, rejected Paul (obviously for his preaching):

“Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord? Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)

Recall that at the start of this paper we noted that Paul, in this first letter to the Corinthians, chose a tone to defend his apostleship at Corinth, albeit, hitherto, indirectly. However, at this point in the letter, things just went out of hand where he had to make explicit appeal for his apostleship. Nevertheless, in a way, they also provide information as to the objections which the opponents of Paul raised. Paul appeals that because he has “seen” Jesus (peace be upon him) and “worked” for him with results, therefore, he must be a bona fide apostle!

However, why did Paul felt the need to appeal these specific notions? Probably because these were the primary arguments, amongst others, raised against his apostleship!: Corinthians were sure that Paul never consorted with Jesus (peace be upon him) in real time and the only information about Paul “seeing” Jesus (peace be upon him) comes after Jesus’(p) alleged death and only through hearsay to the Corinthians (in fact to almost everybody for that reason).

Similarly, Paul’s “work” could well have been another reason for his opposition. To be sure, Paul’s primary “work”, in other words, his preaching, was salvation through the alleged death and resurrection of Christ (peace be upon him) on cross. This could have gone unintelligible with his Corinthian opponents:

“For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called “foolish” message we preach, God decided to save those who believe. Jews [1.] want miracles for proof and Greeks look for wisdom. As for us we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)

And therefore, Paul appeals to support these notions with a hope that even if other factions have denied his apostleship, at least, those who are apparently loyal to him would not doubt them.

More Issues with Paul and His preaching in Corinth

It was not that opposing groups in Corinth were merely following their apostles or “Christ”; in fact they were on full-fledged ministry against Paul and his preaching:

“I wish you would tolerate me, even when I am a bit foolish. Please do! I am jealous for you, just as God is; you are like a pure virgin whom I have promised in marriage to one man only Christ himself. I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ – in the same way that Eve was deceived by snake’s clever lies. For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 1-4) [2.]

Notice that “apostles” in Corinth were teaching a “different Jesus” and a “gospel completely different”. This gospel preaching about Jesus (peace be upon him) was so fundamentally different from Paul that he had premonitions that people might abandon “full” and “pure” “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him).

According to standard Pauline, Trinitarian theology, “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him) means services to Jesus (peace be upon him) while bearing him as “divine” “God” – the “second” in the divinity of “three”! Thus, inferably, we have a proof in the above polemical passage that opposing “apostles” in Corinth were specifically preaching a non-divine Jesus (peace be upon him). As celebrated Bible expositor Albert Barnes specifically comments on the same:

Ye might well bear with him – Margin, “with me.” The word “him” is not in the Greek; but is probably to be supplied. The sense is, there would then be some excuse for your conduct. There would be some reason why you should welcome such teachers. But if this cannot be done; if they can preach no other and no better gospel and Saviour than I have done, then there is no excuse. There is no reason why you should follow such teachers and forsake those who were your earliest guides in religion. – Let us never forsake the gospel which we have until we are sure we can get a better. Let us adhere to the simple doctrines of the New Testament until some one can furnish better and clearer doctrines. Let us follow the rules of Christ in our opinions and our conduct; our plans, our mode of worship, our dress, and our amusements, engagements, and company, until we can certainly ascertain that there are better rules. A man is foolish for making any change until he has evidence that he is likely to better himself; and it remains yet to be proved that anyone has ever bettered himself or his family by forsaking the simple doctrines of the Bible, and embracing a philosophical speculation; by forsaking the scriptural views of the Saviour as the incarnate God, and embracing the views which represent him as a mere man; by forsaking the simple and plain rules of Christ about our manner of life, our dress, and our words and actions, and embracing those which are recommended by mere fashion and by the customs of a frivolous world. (2 Corinthians 11:4, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 

As expected Barnes has a tone-down for any gospel message portraying Jesus (peace be upon him) other than as portrayed by Paul simply because he assumes/believes Paul (and himself) to be an “orthodox” Christian! And therefore, the Pauline opponents, for him, would have to be “heretics” incompetent of producing anything better than Paul. Nevertheless, as we argued earlier, the other-apostles at Corinth would have assumed exactly the same for their opponents. For them, they were “orthodox” and Paul and his supporters were “heretics”. However, in any case, no matter from which perspective we are looking from, for sure, we had groups as early as Paul, preaching a Jesus (peace be upon him) who was a “mere man” than any pagan influenced “incarnate god”.

Likewise, noted New Testament commentator Vincent also informs that at Corinth a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature” was proposed:

Another Jesus – another Spirit (ἄλλον  – ἕτερον)

 

Rev., another Jesus, a different Spirit. See on Mat_6:24. Another denies the identity; a different denies the similarity of nature. It is the difference of “individuality and kind” (Alford). (2 Corinthians 11:4, Vincent’s Word Studies)

 

As touted in churches, the “orthodox” Pauline “identity” and “nature” of Jesus (peace be upon him) was that he was “divine” Son of God, a “divine” savior and intercessor, the very “divine” second god-person of Trinitarian godhead, same in essence with divine Father (the “nature”); nevertheless, inferably, all of these were categorically denied by Pauline opponents when preached a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature”.

No surprises that contemporary Bible giants like James Dunn assert that “earliest” Jesus (p) traditions have no hint for his divinity:

 “There is no real evidence in the earliest Jesus traditions of what could fairly be called a consciousness of divinity.” (James Dunn, Christology in the Making, p.60)

It is for such notions that professors like John Hick claim that to impute divinity upon “historical” Jesus (peace be upon him) is not merely “devoid” in sense but its gradual evolution has pagan influences:

“For to say, without explanation, that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was also God is as devoid of meaningthat Jesus was God the Son incarnate is not literally true, since it has no literal meaning, but it[s] an application to Jesus of a mythical concept whose function is analogous to that of the notion of divine sonship ascribed in ancient world to a king.” (John Hick, The Myth of God Incarnate (London: SCM Press, 1977), p. 178)

 

Interestingly all of this is expressly important for the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims” since as Muslims they would not recognize him as divine in any sort since. Consider the following was the express teaching of Jesus (peace be upon him):

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden. “Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things. (Qur’an 5:116-117)

They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. (Qur’an 5:72)

The forgoing could well be the reason that respected Christian sources like Compton’s Encyclopedia states that it was difficult to distinguish earliest “Christians” from Jews since the “only” difference between them was that they accepted Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “Messiah” while their Jewish counterparts did not:

“The early Christians were all Jews. They remained in Jerusalem and partook in the religious observance in the Temple. They differed from their fellow Jews ONLY in that they believed that the Messiah had come. Had they kept quiet about their conviction, they might well have remained a sect within Judaism…” (Compton’s Encyclopedia, ‘Christianity,’ (CD-ROM Home Library, 1997.)

 

So, the only difference was Messiah consciousness as opposed to divinity consciousness. And “Muslim” followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to recognize him as “Messiah”! (c.f. Qur’an 3:45). Now compare this with Pauline opponents at Corinth who claimed that they were “Christ”-followers, denyingfull and pure devotion to Christ” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:3).

Furthermore, it would be incorrect to restrict the scope of the Pauline verse to divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) alone since, we know, Paul centered his theology on crucifixion and its redemptive capacity as well. Therefore, if Paul so staunchly complains that other “apostles” were preaching a “gospel completely different” about a completely “different” Jesus (peace be upon him) then his opponents were disparaging the importance and implications of cross! As Paul clarifies that many were rejecting crucifixion and philosophies entailed around it:

For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

It is interesting to note the place where Paul places the above “verse”. He wrote them just after introducing the division in the Corinthian church implying strongly that it was inside the Corinthian church where crucifixion and subsequent redemption was rejected and Paul was reproaching the same. This is further proven by the words Paul has chosen in the quoted “verse”. Note he writes that for only a particular few in the community – “for us” – the “message” about crucifixion is “power”; Paul is obviously addressing to those few who were loyal to his preaching; implying again that there were other rejecting cross and its efficacy (if any).

Contemporary New Testament authority Bart Ehrman also speculates that the author of ‘Q’ – a contemporary with Paul and firsthand source, for evangelists Matthew and Luke – denied vicarious atonement through the cross of Jesus (peace be upon him) – a philosophy which was corner stone for Paul:

The author of Q, too, may have thought that it was the sayings of Jesus that were the key to a right relationship with God. If so, in losing Q we have lost a significant alternative voice in the very earliest period of early Christianity. Most scholars date Q to the 50s of the Common Era, prior to the writing of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark was some ten or fifteen years later; Matthew and Luke some ten or fifteen years after that) and contemporary with Paul. Paul, of course, stressed the death and resurrection of Jesus as the way of salvation. Did the author of Q stress the sayings of Jesus as the way? Many people still today have trouble accepting a literal belief in Jesus’ resurrection or traditional understandings of his death as an atonement, but call themselves Christian because they try to follow Jesus’ teachings. Maybe there were early Christians who agreed with them, and maybe the author of Q was one of them. If so, the view lost out, and the document was buried. In part, it was buried in the later Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which transformed and thereby negated Q’s message by incorporating it into an account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. One more form of Christianity lost to view until rediscovered in modern times. (Lost Christianities, The Battles of Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew, p. 59)

What is still interesting is the result which these opposing apostles were receiving in Corinth for their “missionary activity”! Reconsider the following passage:

 For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 4)

The rapid success of his opponents frustrated Paul to such an extent where he even started to act like “fools”:

I am acting like a fool – but you have made me do it. You are the ones who ought to show your approval of me. For even if I am nothing, I am in no way inferior to those very special “apostles” of yours. The many miracles and wonders that prove that I am an apostle were performed among you with much patience. (2 Corinthians 12: 11-12)

Note that, according to the above citation, it is now not people of other camp who are deserting Paul rather they are the very people about whom Paul was confident will accept him as “apostle”. It is natural that in such scenarios people would act like “fools”!

In fact, to make matters worse for Paul, these much anticipated followers of Paul were the same who even demanded proofs from Paul for his apostleship:

You will have all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me.” (2 Corinthians 13:3)

Notice, even though Paul asserted that the “miracles and wonders” he ironically “performed among [them]” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 12:12, quoted above) were the very proofs for his apostleship yet Corinthians demanded proof from him! This certainly makes sense because according to Jesus (peace be upon him) even charlatans would be able to achieve miraculous feats:

“For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will perform miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible. Be on your guard! I have told you everything before the time comes.” (Mark 13: 22-23)

It is very plausible that by “proof”, Corinthians demanded a doctrine compatible with Jesus’ (peace be upon him) message and human cognizance. They could neither see Jesus’ (peace be upon him) stamp or compatibility in the Pauline preaching about his deity nor could they fathom any logic in the theories of cross and vicarious atonement there from. Not much surprise, it came to them as “foolish”.

Such embarrassing response at Corinth by his own faction led Paul emotionally appeal against his rejection:

Dear friends, in Corinth! We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide. It is not we who have closed our hearts to you; it is you who have closed your hearts to us. (2 Corinthians 6:11)

Due to brevity of this paper we have not documented that Paul was strongly opposed at most places he preached like Galatia, Ephesus, Antioch, and even in Jerusalem. What is very interesting to note is that the oppositions in Antioch and Jerusalem did not come from any revolting “heretical” faction but from “brother of Christ” (peace be upon him) James himself! The one thing which all of these do prove is that there were various faiths prevailing amongst the earliest communities!

 

Conclusion

 

We saw that the earliest “apostles”, as early as Paul himself, were divided over doctrines. Many apostles contemporary to Paul at Corinth came to oppose him for his most fundamental theories, like, vicarious atonement through alleged crucifixion of Jesus (peace be upon him) and his divinity.

This made university scholars like Dr. A. Meyer (Prof. of Theology at Zurich University) to conclude that the “Christianity” we know of was not the religion Jesus (peace be upon him) came to promulgate rather it was a complex philosophy that Paul coined:

If by ‘Christianity’  we understand faith in Jesus Christ as the heavenly son of God, who did not belong to Earthly humanity, but who lived in the divine likeness and glory, who came down  from heaven to earth, who entered humanity and took upon himself a human form through a virgin, that he might make propitiation for men’s sins by his own blood on the cross, who was them awakened  from death and raised to God as the Lord of his own people, who believe in him, who hears their prayers, guards and leads them, who shall come again to judge the world, who will cast down all the foes of God, and will bring his people with him unto the house of heavenly light so that they may become like his glorified body – if this is Christianity, the[n] such a Christianity was founded by Paul and not by Jesus.” (Meyer, Jesus or Paul, p. 122)

All of this are conducive to conclude that earliest community of “Christians” were not merely composed of “Christians”, that is, those believing in redemptive capacity of cross and divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him). And thus, subjective Christians like Shamoun, merely to falsify Qur’an, try to restrict the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) only to those who became positively recognized in the pages of New Testament. Consider the following parochial note that he wrote:

Contrary to the Quran’s assertions, Christ’s disciples proclaimed that Jesus is the divine Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. They also testified that he sits enthroned in heaven alongside the Father as the sovereign Lord of all creation, and that he will return to the earth in order to judge the living and the dead. They even went as far as to worship Christ as their risen and exalted Lord!

Note that some (self-claimed) “disciples” of Jesus (peace be upon him) did imply his divinity in some sort and did promulgate his alleged crucifixion and entailing salvation theories. However, these were not the “only” disciples. There were others contemporary to Paul (i) who denied “full and pure devotion to Christ”, (ii) they denied the preaching of Paul which, evidently, relied heavily around the alleged crucifixion and vicarious atonement there from, yet these at the same time also (iii) claimed that they were “Christ-followers”! So next time Shamoun claims that “There is simply no way around this fact”, he needs to suggest what name other than “Muslims” could he give to these opponents of Paul? Pick one! It seems like, “There is simply no way around this fact” that original followers of Christ (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”!

Even if we allow that these Pauline opponents were not “Muslims” yet there mere presence at such odds with “orthodox” Christians (Paul, for example) is enough to open up the contention that the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not only restricted to those who were labeled as “Christians”. This in itself makes the Qur’anic fact further viable that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”! Subsequently, from a historians’ point of view, the Qur’anic assertion is not at any “historical error”.

There is still vast amount of information which has to be unearthed from New Testament about Paul and his ways which we would definitely do in future, inshAllah. For the time being since Paul asserts that everybody else opposing him were “false apostles” and, Shamoun disdains original follower of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims; therefore, in the next installment – the final installment of the series – we would turn our attention to the well-known New Testament disciples and see how much of a ‘disciple’ they were! We do have some important stuff coming up, inshAllah.

Footnote:

[1.]       At first glance, many would be tempted to interpret that the “Jews” mentioned in the verse are those traditional Jews who hated Jesus (peace be upon him); and not the Corinthian Jews who came to believe in him. However, this cannot be precisely correct in the overall context of the epistle. Consider the following issues:

Firstly, in the context of the epistle we have differing factions in the Corinthian community split over apostles for their preaching. Now notice the sarcastic tone which Paul has used in the subject passage: “foolish message”. Therefore, the first target audience for this sarcasm has to be those Corinthians who rejected Paul to accept Christ (p) himself (or some other apostle for that reason) labeling his message as “foolish”. If this was not true then Paul’s sarcasm would make no sense since the letter was not going to Jerusalem – the haven of Christ (peace be upon him) killers; it was going to a supposedly “Christian” community of Corinth.

Secondly, we know for a fact that Paul’s most fundamental preaching was the alleged crucifixion and philosophies around it! Now as Corinthian opponents rejected Paul they did not reject the “man” Paul with two eyes and one nose. They precisely rejected his preaching which has to be the alleged crucifixion and this made Paul write that the crucifixion comes as “foolish” and “offensive” to the Jews – the believing Jews of Corinth in the context; and, likewise, “nonsense” to the Gentiles. If these were not valid, it makes no sense that many Corinthian groups “rejected” Paul.

[2.]       The King James Version of the Bible renders the word “simplicity” in place of your “full and pure devotion”:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Nevertheless, it hardly makes any difference in the interpretation of the verse when we look at it like a Christian would. For this “simplicity” in Christ (peace be upon him) is the quality of him being the divine Son of God who desires pure and simple devotion to him; and the “simplicity” comes because of his alleged sacrificial death on the cross. Consider some standard expositions of this rendering:

From the simplicity that is in Christ –

 

(1) From simple and single-hearted devotedness to him – from pure and unmixed attachment to him. The fear was that their affections would be fixed on other objects, and that the singleness and unity of their devotedness to him would be destroyed.

(4) from the simplicity in worship which the Lord Jesus commended and required. The worship which the Redeemer designed to establish was simple, unostentatious, and pure – strongly in contrast with the gorgeousness and corruption of the pagan worship, and even with the imposing splendor of the Jewish temple service. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:3)

And,

3. The simplicity that is in Christ] i.e. the pure gospel that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. (A Commentary on the Holy Bible Edited By J.R. Dummelow)

 

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic text taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Good News Edition.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

Does Qur’an validate Bible?

Does Qur’an validate Bible?

A response to Sam Shamoun’s critique: Qur’an Error – Were Jesus’ Disciples Muslims?

 

Part1

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

Christian evangelists and missionaries apply a standard argument upon Muslims that the Qur’an “validates” Bible! They especially use this argument against Muslims who are uninitiated in missionary tactics. Once a gullible Muslim is sufficiently duped into this cunning deception, “winning souls” into Christianity is not far off [1.].

Read more

When a ‘Christian’ met Tawhid Al Asma Wa Sifat

A response to the unexpected Christian objections 

Question Mark

Introduction

A certain Christian named C.L.Edwards has objected to our paper wherein we discussed the problems which Christianity, especially the Trinitarian strand of it, faces while dealing with monotheism with regards to God’s attributes and names.

Throughout Edwards directed his response to Ijaz may be either due to careless negligence or sheer obsession as recently they were engaged in a debate. So whenever Edwards refers anything to Ijaz it is actually aimed at me.

Although it was an honor to read Edwards’ response, yet certain very important issues needed to be addressed which we intend to do in this paper.

Problem lies at the base

 

Edwards divides his response into twenty five bullet points. The most important of all lies at the very end! In fact as we would soon observe it shows the philosophy which Edwards as a Trinitarian endorses under the assumption of it being ‘doctrine of monotheism’. As such we would start our analysis from there. Here is Edward’s twenty fifth point:

25. Ijaz says…Monotheism simply means One God, the issue of God incarnating as a man and living the life of a man has nothing to do with whether God is One. The real issue clearly is Ijaz’s psychological hang ups about the incarnation.

Carefully observe the stress upon the definition of monotheism for Edwards. It simply and only means counting God as “One”. We assume this is a standard Trinitarian belief. Nevertheless, on one hand where it is extremely important to count God as one; on the other hand, it is not enough to merely count Him as one! Since even the pagans – by all sense of the word – also count God as one! Consider the following quotations from Hindu scriptures:

“There is only ONE God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit.” (Concept of God in Major Religions, Brahma Sutra of Hindu Vedanta, pg. 8)

“He is One only without a second” (Concept of God in Major, Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1, pg. 5)

Therefore, we do not think that by merely counting God as “one”, Edwards is any different from Hindus who are (generally) known polytheists. As such there has to be more to monotheism than just counting God as one. It is this lack of more qualifications to the imports of monotheism which drives Edwards towards beliefs wherein he allows all sorts of Idolatry under the aegis of Trinitarian Christianity:

24. He then says, “Nevertheless, they have no qualms when they ring their church bells about “God” being delivered out of Mary’s womb “in the crude way” or, “God” being poked on cross while he was almost naked or, still more weirdly, a dead “God” hanging on the cross with probably scavenger hovering over “His” head until his “dead body” was to be placed in a cave.” No we do not, just like the previous messengers had no qualms about this, nor Jesus disciples, nor Jesus himself. because this is what God had said would happen and it is what did happen. Your inability to accept or grasp how it could be is irrelevant, unless you only want a “god” that conforms to your mind(aka an idol).

To paraphrase Edwards’ stand: once a Christian has sufficiently “counted” God to be “one” then he is monotheist enough to allow God being delivered out of Mary’s womb in the crude way; God hanging almost nude on the cross; or even more embarrassingly, monotheists carrying God’s “dead body” into ‘His’ “grave”! So on and so forth.

In other words, a Hindu would be a polytheist since he is worshipping “God-man” like Krishna but a Trinitarian Christian would be a ‘monotheist’ destined to heaven since he worships Jesus (peace be upon him) – , albeit, another ‘God-man’; even though both a Hindu and a Christian “counts” God to be absolutely “one”! We do not really have any good explanation for this extremely biased and partisan approach towards different “God-mans” apart from the fact that either “God is God of Israel” – the nationalistic God and thus the biased approach or, the so-called philosophy of “hypostatic union”:

In fact Edwards readily accepted a number of utterly idolatrous acts for God under the name of hypostatic union. Following is the list,

1)      God being procreated out of the womb of Mary “in the crude way”.

2)      God contained inside His “mother’s” womb

3)      God sucking his life of his mother.

4)      God producing biological waste.

5)      God almost made naked on cross.

6)      God made to bleed and wounded.

7)      God being spat on his face.

8)      And, on top of all of that, “God” dying on the cross

9)      And, “God’s” dead body being enshrouded and placed in cave.

 

And following is Edwards’ acceptance of them under the explanation of hypostatic union!

“16. Ijaz then lists many things that happened to Jesus Christ while incarnate as a man, that he says do not befit God. In a sense I agree from the stand point of God in his essence would never be nailed to a cross(how could a incorporeal being be nailed to anything?), but God incarnate in the manner detailed by the doctrine of the hypostatic union could and did do all those things without violating his “God-hood”.

Edwards goes on to explain what hypostatic union means and how it justifies all of the above blasphemous attributes upon God:

13. Ijaz then says “On the same reasoning, Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot be imputed with some of the attributes which ill-fits a “God”” Correction Jesus as the incarnate God-man having two natures could not have attributes ”ill-fit” for a God ascribed to his divine essence(dhat). As for His second additional nature that he took upon himself, it is fully human in every sense of the word. Since Jesus two natures are not mixed or co-mingled causing a dilution nor a cancellation of the other, Christs human nature imputes nothing ”ill-fit” to his divine nature.

This is pure Greek philosophy than anything else since we cannot have a “union” of two mutually exclusive attributes at the same time and in the same entity. Although Edwards asserts that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) humanity would not interrupt his divinity yet this is not possible. To explain this let’s take a situation in Jesus’ (peace be upon him) life where he was in his mother’s womb. When the baby, in other words, the human Jesus (peace be upon him) was in the womb along with it the “God” of Trinitarians was also clinging to the uterine wall of Mary! So, where it is perfectly acceptable for a human Jesus (peace be upon him) to be contained in Mary; however, it is grotesque even to imagine “God” hanging in Mary’s womb! And yet this is exactly acceptable under the explanation of “hypostatic union”!

To further realize the absurd implications of the “hypostatic union”, we would go further earlier in Mary’s pregnancy. Think about the time when Jesus (peace be upon him) was not even a baby in the womb – the zygote state. By the very token of “hypostatic union” we would have to grant that the zygote was both a mere human-pre-natal state and at the same time (hypostatic union) “God” Almighty clinging to the womb of Mary as a mere two celled organism! So if the dual nature of Jesus (peace be upon him) – the divine and the human – by the virtue of “hypostatic union” allows him to be referred as “God-man” during his adult ministry, then by the same token of “hypostatic union” it should have been ‘doctrinally’ permissible to call him “God-zygote” during his incipient stages!?

The above explanations make it amply clear that the human nature of Jesus (peace be upon him) does interfere with his divine nature (if he has one). And this cannot be merely explained away by assuming that “two natures are not mixed or co-mingled causing a dilution nor a cancellation of the other, Christs human nature imputes nothing ”ill-fit” to his divine nature.”!

At last, some attributes are blasphemous

Edwards, however, does not allow everything for Jesus (peace be upon him):

15…For those unfamiliar with Christian doctrine it does not teach “the “Son of God” would procreate his “Son””. Ijaz does such things constantly and despite being corrected he continues on,  I can only speculate because it befits his attempts at dawah.

Note how precisely Edwards deny the notion that Jesus (peace be upon him) would beget any kid(s). He reasons that the “Christian doctrine…does not teach” so. However hardly does he care to enquire why the “Christian doctrine” is so? Why Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot procreate? The reason is simple. Jesus (peace be upon him) – the human – begetting a kid would be acceptable but because of the “hypostatic” phenomenon, the divine nature is also co-residing; thus, Jesus (peace be upon him) betaking kids would defy all monotheistic paradigms. And in this situation church mandated the Christian “doctrine” that Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot beget kids.

However, on one hand where the “Christian doctrine” disallows Jesus (peace be upon him) begetting kids, nevertheless, ironically it does allow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself being begotten off Mary! Furthermore, Christian “doctrine” does allow Jesus (peace be upon him) to bleed, sweat, feel for hunger, and so logically, have all other hormonal developments including reproductive as there is in any other human being – yet the only thing he cannot do is beget kids!

It was to circumvent these nasty implications that Islam qualified that there is more in monotheism than mere count of God as “one”. It made it necessary that besides recognizing and counting God as one, sufficient care has to be taken with regards to His attributes. His attributes should not be invested upon His creation and vice-versa.

In fact the Hebrew Bible also teaches the same! Therefore, we quoted Exodus20:4. Nevertheless, Edwards neglected it with the explanation that the verse merely speaks against the “making” of idols:

4. Exodus 20:4 does not prove the following statement, “Quite obviously Bible is denying that attribute of any creation can be imputed upon the Almighty”. Exodus 20:4 is a prohibition against making idols.

Similarly, for obvious Trinitarian reasons, Edwards also asserted that Deuteronomy 4:16 does not speak against any humanization of God:

18. Ijaz further exposes his lack of knowledge of Christian theology by supposing the incarnation of Christ is some how like the craving of a idol in his quoting of Deuteronomy 4:16. I am not sure how a command from God to Israel to not crave idols disproves God could have the ability(or will) to take on a second additional nature and co-exist as both God and man. Again ijaz ignores the actual topic of the passage(do not make idols) and feels free to make it say what he “feels” it should say.

We would consider Deuteronomy 4:16 only for brevity and check if it only concerns with “making” of idols. This is what the text reads:

Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, (Deuteronomy 4:16)

As usual Edwards neglects the reason why God is not to be represented in an idol. A verse earlier, Bible explicitly gives the reason:

And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: (Deuteronomy 4:14-15)

God’s reasoning is very clear: On the day when He spoke, Israelites could not observe His similitude to any of His creatures! As such it was forbidden that Israelites represent Him in any shape or form including human males. More specifically, God does not have any similitude to male humans and thus it would be idolatry to conceive Him in that form and worship.

However, when Edwards tries to limit the scope of the verse to mean merely forbiddance of idol making and worship, then he even goes against the standard Christian interpretation of the verse:

Deuteronomy 4:16

The likeness of male or female – Such as Baal-peor and the Roman Priapus, Ashtaroth or Astarte, and the Greek and Roman Venus; after whom most nations of the world literally went a whoring. (Adam Clarke’s commentary on the Bible)

the likeness of male or female; of a man or a woman; so some of the Heathen deities were in the likeness of men, as Jupiter, Mars, Hercules, Apollo, &c. and others in the likeness of women, as Juno, Diana, Venus, &c. Some think Osiris and Isis, Egyptian deities, the one male, the other female, are respected; but it is not certain that these were worshipped by them so early. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Out of the many names which the commentator has provided many were real mennot mere idols. However, they are criticized as “Heathen deities” since God has no similitude to “males”! And so personification of God is here termed as paganism.

Nevertheless, Christians would never apply the same standards upon Jesus (peace be upon him) even though he is just another male like Hercules or Apollo! In Jesus (peace be upon him), Christians somehow do see (similitude of) God notwithstanding the premises of the preceding Hebrew biblical verses.

To further expose the weakness of the argument that the verse merely speaks about “making” of idols we would consider the era when, say, Krishna was physically moving around in the villages of India “preaching” about spirituality and performing “miracles” among masses. And consider the group of people worshipping him during his earthly ministry; now what would Edwards say about the religious practices of these people! Are they ‘monotheists’ (remember they (Hindus) staunchly count God as one) – or polytheists! Note that these people would not be into any idol business since they have their deity physically present with them. If Edwards would still deem them as polytheists for the mere reason that they worshipped a “God-man” then how is he himself with all other Christians a ‘monotheist’?

As such Christians should provide strong enough reasons why as a non-Christian we should reject all other “Heathen” god-men in the name of ‘monotheism’ but yet accept the deity of Jesus (peace be upon him), who was yet another god-man. One cannot accept such a notion unless s/he is flagrantly biased; since, if Jesus (peace be upon him) performed miracles and that makes him to be “God” then so did a number of other claimants of divinity in other religions. If Christians have a “scripture” which allegedly speak of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity; most other “Heathen” religions also have scripture, in fact many even predating New Testament, that also speak of their candidates as gods! And most importantly, if Jesus (peace be upon him) is a “God-man” so were a number of others!

But if the acceptance-rejection yardstick lies only on the mere fact that the “Heathens” in absence of their man-gods portrayed them in idols then we would have to accept that the few sects of Christianity, which are easily outnumbered by more dominant ones, are only a step behind in “Heathenism” since they do have full-blown image/idol of Jesus (peace be upon him) in their minds during their “services”.

Humanization in Islam

On the fly, Edwards accused Islam of humanizing God as well:

17. Ijaz a man who follows a religion that teaches God has a face, two eyes, a shin, feet, will be seen in the form of a man, and descends down into time and space then claims, “ What is disappointing in all of this is that Bible strictly speaks against any such idolatrous humanization of God”. Besides the fact that Christian theology doesn’t teach the humanization of God in the manner Ijaz accuses, see point 13, 15 and 16.

Islamic Scriptures does speak about face, shin but it also states that:

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Qur’an 42:11)

Commenting on the above highlighted part of the verse, Shaikh Philips writes the following:

The attributes of hearing and seeing are among the human attributes, but when they are attributed to The Divine Being they are without comparison in their perfection. However, when these attributes are associated with men they necessitate ear and eye apparatuses which cannot be attributed to God. What man knows about the Creator is only what little He has revealed to him through His prophets. Therefore, man is obliged to stay within these narrow limits. When man gives free reign to his intellect in describing God, he is liable to fall into error by assigning to Allah the attributes of His creation. (The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism), Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, pp 28-29)

And,

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;  And there is none like unto Him. (Qur’an 112: 1-4)

Noted Qur’an commentator Yusuf Ali also reflects likewise:

This sums up the whole argument and warns us specially against Anthropomorphism, the tendency to conceive of Allah after our own pattern, an insidious tendency that creeps in at all times and among all peoples.

Thus when Allah (SWT) states that He has a Face or Hands etc the similarity lies only in the linguistic words, certainly not in the imports. On the basis of preceding Qur’anic verses, we do not have any warrant to make deductions/conclusions that if Allah (SWT) said about His Face then it would mean a face made up of two eyes, one nose, pair of lips and ears – comprising of epidermis, fat, muscles, nerves, blood etc; since in the end God also said “nothing whatsoever is like unto Him”. We need to be particularly careful with the last clause since God will question about it.

Conclusion

With regards to Edwards’ understanding of monotheism, we observed some peculiar and typical statements like,

18…I am not sure how a command from God to Israel to not crave idols disproves God could have the ability(or will) to take on a second additional nature and co-exist as both God and man.

25…Also Monotheism simply means One God, the issue of God incarnating as a man and living the life of a man has nothing to do with whether God is One. The real issue clearly is Ijaz’s psychological hang ups about the incarnation.

These give strong indication for the type of philosophy Edwards endorses as “monotheism”; and we assume that Edwards is trying his best to demonstrate the standard Christian doctrine of monotheism. As such the type of monotheism which Christianity offers to humanity is extremely narrow. It is just the count of God to one which matters added with the denial of idols.

However, Christianity does allow drawing similitude to God even though the Hebrew Bible expressly rejects it. In order to accommodate the “incarnation” or the humanization of God, Christianity neglects the reason why the God of Israel forbade representing Him through idols. It was because, as He explained, He does not have any similitude or resemblance to any of His creation, including “male” humans. And so it would be attributing “male” resemblance upon God which has to be rejected as paganism. If this essence and theme is neglected from the verse then it does not matter whether one worships Jesus (peace be upon him) or Krishna or any other “God-man” since, as we saw, even the Hindu scriptures counted God as “one” so a Krishna worshipper is still a ‘monotheist’ in that regard. Thus, until we filter out “incarnation” of God (i.e., attributing the qualities of humans upon God), as a non-Christian it is hard to see difference between Paganism and Christianity.

And so in all good spirit we request Edwards to ponder into the following words of God where He is addressing the very delusion of most humans who ‘think’ they believe in God but…

…most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him! (Qur’an 12:106)

“Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before (you):Most of them worshipped others besides Allah.” (Qur’an 30:42)

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic texts taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical texts taken from King James Version.
  • All emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

 

P.S.: This paper was mostly responsive where we responded to a number of issues Edwards raised. During the course, we touched on issues which might hurt Christian feelings. Nevertheless, it was never our intention to hurt any sincere Christian sentiment. We apologize, in case, if any Christian sentiment has been hurt. We seek God’s guidance and mercy.

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