Hard Questions

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A Muslim listening to a church father

with 5 comments

by Rasheed,

It was a fascinating and a captivating read, that which I found in an epistle attributed to Clement of Rome [30-100 A.D.]. Although the letter itself does not say who wrote it, and whether it was Clement or another person, Clement’s authorship is the prevailing view amongst Christian scholars.

In any case, and regardless of who wrote the letter, I found myself listening to a pious man, who clearly wanted to serve God, who distinguished between God the Most High, and Jesus the High Priest. He believed in resurrection of the Dead to be judged by God, believed in Heaven and Hell, preached righteousness and the avoidance of evil. I really enjoyed reading his words.
Well, … I think he was ….. a … Muslim.

Clement apparently thought of the Hebrew Bible as divine scriptures, he repeatedly referred to Sayings of Jesus [not fount in New Testament] as authoritative. Apostolic epistles were important to him but not divine nor inerrant. He mentions the Gospel but there is no mention of the documents known collectively today as the New Testament.

I have found very interesting quotations from this early church father, two passage that caught my attention. In the first passage he quotes Proverbs 1:23-31, but his quotation has a major difference from text found in all current translations:

Clement’s: “Behold, I will bring forth to you the words of My Spirit, and I will teach you My speech.”

The current translations is:

[Prov. 1:23] “If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.” (NIV)

The remaining verses (24-31) are very similar to current translations, and tell of God displeasure with the Israelites for disregarding his teaching and ill treating his prophets. The only major difference is in verse 23 above.

In the Hebrew Bible, The Spirit of God is that which comes to the Prophets.

Clement’s citation of the verse mentions the future coming of a prophet who shall teach the Speech of God, i.e. something very similar to The Quran. It is also very significant that the ONLY missing leaf from the manuscript of this letter is the one IMMEDIATELY after this quotation. Why is it significant, because this where we could have seen his comments on the verses he just cited. What a great loss this missing leaf represents.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

November 26, 2007 at 7:14 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I commend you for reading a Church father such as St. Clement. It seems you have discovered some parallels between his teachings and Islam’s. I would only say this doesn’t make him a Muslim. A dog drinks water just as a cat does, but this doesn’t make the dog a cat.


    November 26, 2007 at 7:14 pm

  2. Thank you pistolpete for commenting.

    I can not see how your analogy of dogs and cats is relevant here. I was referring to St. Clement’s ideas and beliefs and not his physical features.


    November 26, 2007 at 7:15 pm

  3. Rasheed,

    I think you are on to something here. If I understand correctly “muslim” means one who submits to God. That Clement did, but we must look closer at the God to whom he submitted to determine if he is a “Muslim”. Upon doing so, one cannot assume Clement had an understanding of God anywhere near the character of Allah. Clement was a companion of the Apostle Paul and Luke (Author of the Gospel and the book of Acts). He most likely learned the Gospel through these two men, which you have said elsewhere you don’t find their writings to be true. The character of God as described by these two men and taught to Clement is vastly different from Allah. The God known by Paul and Luke was a God who loved even those who did not love Him and was the Father of Jesus Christ.

    In Romans 5:8 Paul tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    Clement may be a “muslim”, but he cannot correctly be labeled a “Muslim” unless he understands God as a Muslim understands Allah.

    Also, the verse in Proverbs you cite is most likely referring to the Holy Spirit and not a single person. The Holy Spirit is a breath, or wind giving knowledge, insight, wisdom, and power to believers in Christ.




    November 27, 2007 at 6:02 am

  4. My point, Rasheed, is that just because two things resemble one another doesn’t mean they are the same. I’ll use a different analogy. Christians and Jews (and I believe Muslims as well) believe that the Hebrew Scriptures (what we call the “Old Testament”) contain divinely revealed truth. Yet, we differ significantly on other points of belief (such as the nature of Jesus, whom we call Christ). We are similar, but not the same.


    November 27, 2007 at 1:19 pm

  5. Andrew, Pistolpete,

    Thank you. We now have to turn our attention to whether Clement’s views on God, Jesus, this world and the next, are closer to Muslims or Christians views today.

    For the Muslim views on the subjects, I invite you to read the first 115 verses from Chapter 3 of the Quran (3 The Family of Imran)
    You cab find a few translations on this website, please do take the trouble to read one or two translations.
    The website is: http://www.al-islam.org/quran/



    November 28, 2007 at 1:30 am

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