Hard Questions

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Thoughts on the crucifixion

with 58 comments


Can we reconcile the Christian and Muslim differences over the Crucifixion? Probably not, but we can still explore and look closely at them. We might learn something useful.

The Gospels confirm that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. Muslims insist that he was not crucified, but saved by God, so obviously, our views on the historical event can not be reconciled, however, unlike other differences between the two faiths, I believe our difference on the crucifixion can be ‘explained’.

The source of the Muslim view on the crucifixion is the Quran. Allah says in the Quran, Chapter 4:

[Quran 4:154] And We caused the Mount to tower above them at (the taking of) their covenant: and We bade them: Enter the gate, prostrate! and We bode them: Transgress not the Sabbath! and We took from them a firm covenant.

[4:155] Then because of their breaking of their covenant, and their disbelieving in the revelations of Allah, and their slaying of the prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened – Nay, but Allah set a seal upon them for their disbelief, so that they believe not save a few –

[4:156] That they rejected Faith; that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge;

[4:157] That they said, “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:

[4:158] Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Mighty in Power, Wise;

[4:159] And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgement he will be a witness against them;-

Based on the verses above, God made it appear to those present at the scene, that Jesus was being crucified. It is no wonder then, everyone thought what they were witnessing was the crucifixion of Jesus.

But the Quran also confirms that God saved Jesus. This is one further reason for Muslims to revere Jesus. He had a high standing before God, that Almighty did NOT allow his enemies to kill him.

On the other hand, there are varying accounts of the date of the resurrection of Jesus in the Gospels. Similarly, much of the story of the empty tomb in the Bible and the subsequent appearance of Jesus to the disciples described in the Gospel of Mark, turned out to be an unreliable later addition. There are several conflicting accounts of what happened after the crucifixion.

All this leads me to think that, people believed the Messiah was crucified, but they were unable to find his blessed body.

This secret was only revealed in the Quran centuries later: God has saved his prophet Jesus from his enemies. He did not allow the plotters to prevail against Jesus, who is one of five “Willful” major prophet.

This is consistent with what happened with All the the major messengers of God. Each one of them was saved from his enemies:

  1. Noah was saved from the flood.
  2. Abraham was saved when he was thrown into a raging fire.
  3. Moses was saved from the army of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
  4. Jesus was saved from those who plotted to kill him.
  5. Muhammad was saved from the Meccans who plotted to murder him. God’s peace and blessing be upon all of them

In other areas where Islam and Christianity differ, I believe that the true teachings of Jesus were altered, and I have explained this position in other posts on this blog.

The crucifixion is different. There was simply no way for Christians and Jews to know that their Messiah was saved, not until God sent his last prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) with the Quran, to tell the true story of what really happened on that day, and how God saved his prophet Jesus, in what was the last miracle bestowed on Jesus before his second coming.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

December 15, 2007 at 1:09 am

58 Responses

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  1. Interesting post, it’s good to see a blog of this type that is open for honest discourse. As a Christian, we obviously disagree on the above issue, but I was hoping to bring up some points for discussion:

    As for now, I’ll leave the verses in the Quran out of discussion (as I do not believe it to be inspired).

    You made two comments that caught my attention,

    1) That the resurrection story in the Gospel of Mark is unreliable, and 2) that the Quran’s teaching that Jesus was saved from the cross is consistent with the Bible.

    1). While it appears that some parts of the Gospel of Mark have been added later, it does not follow that the story therein is unreliable. We have three other Gospels, excluding Mark, that tell the same story – not to mention corroborating historical evidence.

    a. The 11 remaining apostles were all willing to suffer persecution for their strong conviction that Jesus rose from the dead. After the crucifixion, we read in the Gospels that the disciples hid for fear of the Jews. They thought that their Messiah had been slaughtered – worse than that, crucified! He suffered the worst, most shameful and despicable punishment around. Something must have happened to strongly convince these young nobodies to take such a stand in the face of such persecution. Peter was crucified upside down, James had his head bashed in, John was boiled in oil and exiled to the island of Patmos. And for what? For their belief that Jesus rose. Now, if they didn’t actually believe that Jesus appeared to them in person (as the Gospels record), why where did this belief come from?

    b. The apostle Paul persecuted early Christians. He hunted them down and threw them in prison. He was a Pharisee, a zealous Jew with much authority. But one day, while he was on his way to Damascus, he suddenly had a change of heart and because one of the Faith’s most zealous and successful evangelists. Where did this change come from?

    2) The Quran teaches that Jesus was saved from the cross. In your post, you very nicely lay out the argument that this is consistent with the prophets, therefore it makes no sense that he would have died. I don’t think this argument works. Here’s why: as a Christian, I believe that Jesus was saved from DEATH itself. In Geneses, we learn that death is the result of sin. Jesus conquered death because of His sinless life and God’s power upon Him. He died to free us from the grips of sin.

    The idea of the Christian gospel is this: Jesus came and died for sin, to free us from it, to suffer God’s wrath on the cross for us. The Bible says that no liar, sexually immoral, unbelieving person will enter Heaven, their place is in the lake of fire. But, when we put our faith in Jesus as our Savior, God transfers our sin to Him and His righteousness to us. When we die, God greets us into Heaven as though we were as righteous as Jesus.

    It’s a free gift that can only be accepted by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

    I am open to being convinced otherwise – but as for now, until I see evidence to the contrary, I must hold to what I believe is true.

    I’m interested in hearing your response to these things, my friend.

    -Michael

    jmcrist

    December 15, 2007 at 3:06 am

  2. Michael,

    Thank you for stopping by, and for the kind, comments,

    Yours too is an interesting contribution, and I promise to write a considered response to discuss the many points you raised.

    All I want to say for now, is that, this platform has given me a lot of pleasure mainly because it has put me in contact with fine people like yourself and Andrew. People with whom I feel I can have a meaningful, grown up, robust and honest discussion.

    Rasheed

    Rasheed

    December 15, 2007 at 3:42 am

  3. Rasheed,

    Can I just ditto Michael? I was going to say pretty much the same…

    I would add a couple things… The accounts regarding what happened after the crucifixion are different, but not conflicting. They present the story from different perspectives. Picture it as trying to sort through a case in court with 3 different witnesses who arrived at the scene of the crime at different times and from different angles. Everyone sees something different, emphasizes something different, but all can still do so truthfully. Each perspective is like a camera adding to our 3-D picture, until we see the complete scene.

    The disciples knew where Jesus’ body was buried. A prominent man, Joseph of Arimathea, placed the body in his own tomb. There were Roman guards at the tomb. The guards went back to the Jewish leaders after Jesus rose and were instructed to lie about what happened, saying the disciples stole the body. These men would likely have been killed for telling the truth. All this adds up to make it unlikely the disciples did not know where Christ was buried.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    December 16, 2007 at 1:59 am

  4. Michael,

    The presence of any narration in several Gospels is not corroboration if you consider the strong possibility of that some Gospels used others as sources.

    This is the prevailing view amongst biblical scholars, in what they call the synoptic problem. They can not agree on who copied from who, but the consensus is that the Gospels are not independent sources.

    And yes Andrew, there are some conflicts in the accounts of the NT regarding the resurrection, e.g. all Gospels have Jesus ascending into the sky after 3 days, and with no one witnessing the ascension. Acts 1, on the other hand, tells of an ascension witnessed by disciples and taking place 40 days later. This can hardly be described as the same account from different angles.

    My post suggests that early Christians had good reasons to believe Jesus was crucified, I arrived at this idea by looking at the Quran narration of what really happened.

    Rasheed

    December 17, 2007 at 2:55 am

  5. Rasheed,

    The Gospel of John is excluded from the Synoptics, therefore it stands as corroborating evidence. We also have good reason to believe that Luke’s gospel is reliable. He carefully investigated everything from the beginning (Luke 1:1-4), and scholars and historians have confirmed the archaeological sites and the places of cities and the reigning rulers, etc. that were revealed in his writings (Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts). It is my conclusion, therefore, that we really have no good reason not to believe him.

    With that said, you did not address the argument I made from the apostle’s willingness to suffer and die for what they believed or Paul’s conversion (who did not witness the crucifixion). How can you explain this?

    Also, none of the Gospels (that I’m aware of) state that the ascension occurred 3 days after Jesus’ resurrection. They don’t mention the length of time after the resurrection to ascension. Could you please site the verses you’re speaking of that give you this idea?

    Nice dialog thus far!

    jmcrist

    December 17, 2007 at 3:40 am

  6. Rasheed,

    If I use a history book as a source to write a work of historical nonfiction, does this use make my work false? Not at all! Only if the source is unreliable is my work based upon it necessarily untrue. So our concern here should be finding the first Gospel written (which we don’t know for sure which it is) and then finding it to be either true or false.

    Jesus ascended into the sky 40 days after the resurrection with the disciples and several other followers present. This is consistent throughout the New Testament. I was referring to the story of the day of Christ’s resurrection when I said it was the same story from different angles. Each account has different people arriving at the tomb and their reactions.

    If we set aside the Qu’ran’s story of the crucifixion and resurrection to dissect the Christian accounts, we must make several highly unlikely quantum leaps to arrive at the Qu’ran’s account. Thus far, your only reason not to believe the Gospels relies heavily on the account of the Qu’ran. This account comes 600 years after the fact, which makes any truth in it highly unlikely unless it is indeed divinely revealed. I personally find it much easier to believe a story written within 60 years of the even than one written 600 years after. Especially given the fact that Muhammad was probably not even literate, much less a well-researched scholar on the subject.

    And the hardest proof to discount is the lives and deaths of the followers of Christ who saw him dead and resurrected!

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    December 17, 2007 at 5:15 am

  7. Andrew

    You are right about the History Book analogy, but my view is that, regardless of which Gospel was written first, Books that are dependent on each other can not corroborate their own sources.

    I am not sure that everyone agrees with the 40 days account, I would like to hear your comments on this paper on the subject:

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/tb/ascension_maile.pdf

    I do not think you would have believed the Ascension and resurrection stories if you did not believe the Gospels were divinely revealed. If any other book carried a similar story about an a resurrection and an ascension that took place two days ago, my guess is, you would not believe it, So it does not really matter if the Quran was revealed 600 years after the event. Prophet Muhammad peace and blessing upon him, never claimed to have researched history. I believe the Quran was revealed to him and that does not require any academic qualification. Indeed it was a demonstration of the divinity of the Quran that a man who can not read or write, can speak with such authority on matters that scholars to this day find difficult to approach.

    Michael,

    On the sacrifices of the Apostles, I would say this,

    The fact that somebody can suffer or even die for a cause can not be taken as a proof of the validity of the cause itself. Think about kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers, their actions are not proof of the validity of their beliefs.

    The Disciples of Jesus were righteous people, and Allah praised them in the Quran. They were humans, and not infallible. The Gospels say that they denied Jesus during his stay wit them, so whilst they were great people, they were not gods or even prophets of God. They were believers, humans, and students of Jesus.

    The author of the book of Acts was not an eye witness to what he wrote. He narrated what he heard from sources that he did not name. So while I do not accuse him of inventing the stories, I can not exclude the possibility that he heard them from unreliable sources. In the absence of information on who exactly transmitted those stories, we have to treat them with a certain degree of skepticism.

    I hold the same views on the teaching of St. Paul. He did not see or meet Jesus during his stay on earth. His authority was driven from alleged visions, that can not be corroborated. He said many things that were contrary to Jesus own words. Again, his devotion is not sufficient proof of the truth of his teachings.

    Rasheed

    December 17, 2007 at 6:52 pm

  8. Rasheed,

    The paper you link to makes one assumption that causes me to question its merits. It assumes that Luke 24 describes an ascension on Easter Day. Luke 24 does not give a time line. Luke writes of Jesus appearing to the disciples and the men on the road to Emmaus, but never establishes when these events took place. Luke later gives a time line in Acts that serves only to clarify earlier descriptions and does not come into conflict with these earlier writings.

    I realize you believe that the Qu’ran was divinely revealed. You must to be a Muslim. It would be irrational for you to hold to the teachings of Islam and believe otherwise. I was simply saying that the Gospels and the book of Acts are by historical qualifications, far more likely to be true if we set aside divine inspiration or revelation. While we cannot fully academically qualify a religious text, it is now divine inspiration of the Bible vs. divine revelation of the Qu’ran. The proof of claims of divine inspiration/revelation lies in its accuracy in relating historical events. If the Qu’ran does not accurately and truthfully describe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we cannot assume it to be divinely revealed. This would be akin to calling God a liar. The same holds true of the Bible.

    As for the sacrifices of the Apostles, these cannot be accurately compared to kamikaze pilots. Kamikaze pilots were dying for a cause, not for something they knew to be true. Many of the Apostles were witnesses to what they testified about. These men saw Christ crucified, risen, and his ascension. We have very reliable evidence suggesting that the Disciples and Apostles did not dispute any of the evidence revealed in the Gospels. John, a disciple, wrote the Gospel of John. Peter was a source for another of the Gospels.

    Mark was likely a young eyewitness to some of the events he recounted in his Gospel. It is widely believed that when Mark writes in chapter 14:51-52 “A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.” that Mark was referring to himself in the third person.

    The skepticism you hold in regard to the transmission of stories in the book written by Luke would be better founded if the disciples had disputed and not affirmed Luke’s writings. The same goes for the other Gospel accounts. Luke was likely not a witness to some of what he wrote, but he was a witness to much of the happenings of the early Church recorded in Acts. He traveled with some of the Apostles. We can logically deduce this from the second half of the book of Acts when Luke changes from referring to “we” instead of “they.”

    The teachings of Paul I must state continually are not in disagreement with the teachings of Jesus. His authority is obviously somewhat different from the Disciples, but he never disagrees with what Christ teaches. The purpose of Paul’s letters were to remind the churches of what they had been taught. His teachings were used to clarify how to practically apply the teachings of Christ within the context of the Church. At this time, the Church was a completely new concept, and was in need of a framework. Paul, as a former Pharisee, was theologically qualified to understand and transmit the teachings of Jesus and lay out a blueprint of what the Church was to look like.

    Whereas many of the disciples were not highly educated, Paul understood the Jewish teachings and traditions well enough to see how they were all pointing towards the sacrifice of Christ. He understood the intricacies of the Gospel and confidently opposed false teachings within the Church such as Gnosticism. Gnostics were the authors of the Gnostic Gospels such as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and many of the writings used in the recent book The Da Vinci Code. These were intellectual men who attempted to change the teachings on Christ into what suited their own purposes. They sought mysteries that could not be understood by the common man. Christ taught practical lessons in a practical everyday language that would be understood by the people. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek because it was the language of the commoners and was the most widely used and understood language in the world at that time (much the same way English is today).

    Hopefully, I have accurately and maybe even convincingly presented my answers. I have not been as concise as I would have liked to be, but there is much to address.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    December 17, 2007 at 8:07 pm

  9. Rasheed,

    Thank you for your kind reply.

    You said: “On the sacrifices of the Apostles, I would say this,

    The fact that somebody can suffer or even die for a cause can not be taken as a proof of the validity of the cause itself. Think about kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers, their actions are not proof of the validity of their beliefs.”

    I agree with you that suffering and death do not stand as proof of a claim. However, unlike kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers, the disciples were in a position to know if what they were saying was true. The disciples were the ones claiming to be eyewitnesses, and in turn suffering for this claim. While this does not prove that what they were saying was true, I think it does stand as proof that they at least BELIEVED that what they were saying was true. They believed that the actual risen Jesus actually appeared to them. How do you explain this?

    You said: “The author of the book of Acts was not an eye witness to what he wrote. He narrated what he heard from sources that he did not name. So while I do not accuse him of inventing the stories, I can not exclude the possibility that he heard them from unreliable sources. In the absence of information on who exactly transmitted those stories, we have to treat them with a certain degree of skepticism.”

    To offer correction, while Luke was not an eyewitness in the Gospel account, he was an eyewitness to the accounts of the book of Acts. Scholars believed that he traveled with Paul, as is evident by the fact that the book of Acts was written in two different languages, based on the locations visited.

    It is possible that Luke heard his stories from unreliable sources, so I agree that a certain degree of skepticism is required. This is why we should examine his works carefully, and see if he was telling the truth about other things. As I said, geographical, historical, and archaeological finds have confirmed this for us already. All that is left in question is the miracles and the claims to the divinity of Jesus. To answer this riddle, one must look to see if there are any other accounts. While the apostle John is not a historian, his gospel is not included in the synoptics and does qualify as an independent source.

    Something else that is interesting to look at, is that there are no claims to the contrary of the gospels at the time of their authorship (between 50 AD – 90 AD). During this time period, there were many people still alive who lived to see these events. If the gospel writers did not record them accurately, or lied, why do we not have any of these corrections recorded in public discourse?

    You said: “I hold the same views on the teaching of St. Paul. He did not see or meet Jesus during his stay on earth. His authority was driven from alleged visions, that can not be corroborated. He said many things that were contrary to Jesus own words. Again, his devotion is not sufficient proof of the truth of his teachings.”

    First, I agree that Paul’s testimony was derived from alleged visions – and this cannot be verified. However, you must account for the change in Paul. What made Paul change?

    Secondly, what did Paul say that was contrary to Jesus’ own words?

    From my previous post, I noticed that you have not answered one of my questions. I’ll just copy and paste it below, to save me the trouble of typing it again: Also, none of the Gospels (that I’m aware of) state that the ascension occurred 3 days after Jesus’ resurrection. They don’t mention the length of time after the resurrection to ascension. Could you please site the verses you’re speaking of that give you this idea?

    Your claim is that it was made to look like Jesus was crucified. I want to learn exactly what you mean by this. Are you saying that He was actually crucified, and pulled down before dead, or that someone died in His place? Can you please enlighten me? :]

    Rasheed, I must say that I’m encouraged in that we are having this conversation. It is good to talk about these things!

    -Michael

    jmcrist

    December 17, 2007 at 9:55 pm

  10. Oh yeah! One more thing!

    I thought it was interesting that you said of Paul that “His authority was driven from alleged visions, that can not be corroborated.”

    What about Muhammad? His claim is that he saw a vision, and it cannot be corroborated. Why believe Muhammad over Paul?

    jmcrist

    December 17, 2007 at 9:59 pm

  11. Andrew, Michael

    I wish you, and all readers of the blog, a Happy Eid, and a Merry Christmas,

    Too many points to comment on, so I will start by discussing an issue that you both raised, about where did I get my supposed date for the ascension.

    If you read the account in Luke 24, and I will give 2 different translations, that both indicates an ascension on the 3rd day.
    These can be found in:
    1- New English Translation Bible

    2- The translation from Dr. John W. Marshall. 1996 – 200, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

    Luke 24.1-12: But on the first day of the week (Women at the tomb)
    Luke 24.13-That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma’us, (Jesus appears to them and accompany them and sat with them at the table)…
    24.32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”
    24.33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them,……
    24.36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.
    24.37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit……..(Jesus speaks to them)
    24.50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 24.51 While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.

    It will take a great of convincing to suggest that the above sequence does not mean that Jesus rose in the evening of the day he was risen,

    You will find that a date is indeed given to the trip to Emmaus. It says, immediately after the empty tomb story, : “That very day, two of them were going to a village named Emma’us, about seven miles from Jerusalem,”

    It is also written that the disciples returned to meet the others on the same day, where Jesus speak to them and then ascends to the sky,

    Not only myself, but the author of the paper mentioned in my previous comment understood the narration to mean that all these events took place on the first day of the week.

    The following is a commentary by the French biblical scholar Alfred Loisy:

    “The story of the apparition to all the disciples which ends with Jesus’ ascension into heaven (xxiv, 36-53) is lacking in unity; the incidents are crowded together, they are without connection between themselves and the perspective in which they are placed is of the vaguest. The same theme is resumed at the beginning of Acts with complementary precisions, and certainly by the same editor, or editors. Instead of taking the two accounts as contradictory, on the ground that the Gospel seems to have deliberately placed the Ascension on the night which followed the morning of the Resurrection while Acts put an interval of forty days between the two, the signs rather indicate that we should interpret the one text by the other, the two having been conceived as reciprocal complements and belonging to the same series of fictions. Slight touches in the Gospel narrative suggest interpolation. The ancient authorities which omit Peter’s visit to the tomb (xxiv, 12) omit also “Peace be unto you” (36) and further on (40) “when he had said this, he showed them his feet and his hands,” two passages which again indicate the influence of John. Finally in the last verses there are two doubtful readings: “he was carried up into heaven” (51) and “when they had worshipped him” (52). In the last two cases omission may have been deliberate to avoid seeming contradiction of the story in Acts with its interval of forty days. We may recall that here, as in the parallel story of Acts, the promise of the Spirit is a postscript”

    I do not think it is reasonable to say that a paper is without merit simply because the author made and assumption that you did not agree with. This assumption has been made by other intelligent and knowledgeable scholars and they are not even Muslims. They are people who had access to many writings and manuscripts and are specialists in the Bible and its history.

    To be continued

    Rasheed

    December 24, 2007 at 2:05 am

  12. Rasheed,

    Happy Eid and Merry Christmas to you as well!
    Humor me for a moment with an assumption if you will…

    The NIV translates verse 36 as saying…

    While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

    My attention was caught by the word “still” in this passage. What if what this passage is really saying is not that it was while they were speaking of it on the same day, but while they were still speaking of it at a later date? What if 40 days later they were still discussing it?

    I agree that this is not clear language, but I don’t think we can automatically assume because something is not clear to us that it is necessarily incorrect. I think we need to search first for ways to harmonize these passages before we say they are in conflict.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    December 24, 2007 at 4:26 am

  13. Andrew, Michael

    My original post was an attempt to say that It was possible for everyone present to be wrong, if God decided to save his prophet.

    Remember that the Gospels say that Jesus appeared to his disciples in a way they were unable to recognise him, he spoke to them at length without them realising that it was Jesus in their company!!

    I hope you can see that the word ‘still‘ most probably means on the same day and not 40 days later, particularly when you take into account the other new translations I mentioned.

    Now, you say that John the Apostle wrote a similar account of the crucifixion, and you added that Mark was believed to be an eye witness.

    Are you certain that the Gospel of John was written by the disciple John?, because many notable biblical scholars disagree with this assumption.

    Are you certain that there was no interpolations and harmonizations of the text?, again many notable scholars believe there was,
    I draw your attention to the arguments concerning the ending of the Gospel of John, and to the Johannine Comma in 1 John,

    How did you arrive at the notion that Mark was referring to himself as the little boy?

    Is it possible that the disciples did not contradict the Gospels account because they never saw those accounts? After all, there is a view amongst many biblical scholars that the Gospels were written after the death the disciples, or maybe additions were put there later as is the case with some of the examples we discussed.
    Do you accept that there is uncertainty about the dates, authorship, text of the Gospels?, that is unless you subscribe to to the evangelical view of constant inspiration.

    If you look at the arguments put forward by scholars when trying to establish “Best Readings”, you will find a real struggle to establish what was the shape of the text originally

    Also, did the authors of the Gospel ever claim that their text was inspired?

    Rasheed

    Rasheed

    December 27, 2007 at 6:45 pm

  14. Rasheed,

    Thank you for your reply. I apologize it took me so long to respond. I hope you had a happy holiday.

    You said: “Remember that the Gospels say that Jesus appeared to his disciples in a way they were unable to recognise him he spoke to them at length without them realising that it was Jesus in their company!!”

    The question is, why were they unable to recognise him? Was it because the person walking beside them was not actually Jesus? Or was it because of some other reason?

    If you read the accounts closely, you’ll see that the answer is in the text. The passage reads that Jesus came up beside them “but they were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:15). Then, Luke 24:30-31 reads: “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.”

    Their eyes were opened.

    According to my view, God kept them from seeing Jesus that the disiciples might be tested.

    You said: “Are you certain that the Gospel of John was written by the disciple John?, because many notable biblical scholars disagree with this assumption.”

    From what I understand, nearly all evidence suggests that the apostle John is the author of this gospel, as well as 1, 2, and 3 John, and Revelations.

    The author is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20,24). He is not mentioned by name in the Gospel which would be natural according to cultural custom if he wrote it, but hard to explain otherwise. It is also well attested to in the early Church as early as 140 AD (about 50 years from the authorship of the Gospel, depending on the date given).

    I’m glad you’ve done some research on this yourself. What scholars do you speak of? What is their evidence?

    You said: “Are you certain that there was no interpolations and harmonizations of the text?, again many notable scholars believe there was, I draw your attention to the arguments concerning the ending of the Gospel of John, and to the Johannine Comma in 1 John,”

    Without having done an in depth study on the topic, here’s what I have to say: firstly, I believe in the inspiration of the original manuscript (of which we have none). However, we have many thousand copies. The copies deserve merit do to the method used by the copiers. Most believe it was the same method as used in the “telephone game,” however, this is not the case. Here’s a decent explanation:
    http://stoneswillcryout.blogspot.com/2007/05/about-week-and-half-ago-i-posted-my.html

    So, here’s how I see it: what does the textual evidence say? Perhaps there were errors and interpolations – but not in EVERY copy. The errors and interpolations would have been isolated to a few copies, by the interpolators. The idea is to bring together the text in light of the agreement of the majority of ancient manuscripts. When all copies are viewed side-by-side, it is easy to see which have errors and which have additions that were not in the others.

    We can discuss this much further if you like. What are you thoughts?

    You said: “Is it possible that the disciples did not contradict the Gospels account because they never saw those accounts? After all, there is a view amongst many biblical scholars that the Gospels were written after the death the disciples, or maybe additions were put there later as is the case with some of the examples we discussed.”

    There’s not much reason to believe that the Gospels were not written by the apostles themselves (or at the right hand of the apostles). If you think I’m mistaken (and it’s always a possibility), please point me in the direction of some of the evidence that is drawing you to this conclusion.

    You said: “Do you accept that there is uncertainty about the dates, authorship, text of the Gospels?”

    Well, this depends on what you mean by “uncertainty.” Am I absolutely 100% certain that the apostle John wrote the Gospel of John? Nope. But I have good enough evidence to believe it beyond a reasonable doubt – which is the best I think we can hope for in any given situation.

    So, yes, I accept that there is a possibility our dating, or claim to authorship – or whatever – could be wrong. But I don’t think it is. I’m open to being convinced otherwise, but I’ll need some evidence. Until then, I must follow my conscience.

    You said: “Also, did the authors of the Gospel ever claim that their text was inspired?”

    Not that I know of.

    Rasheed,

    I’m glad we’re having this dialog. I think we’re going to learn a lot from each other.

    I have a few questions:

    Your claim is that it was made to look like Jesus was crucified. I want to learn exactly what you mean by this. Are you saying that He was actually crucified, and pulled down before dead, or that someone died in His place? What did they do with the body? And how did all of these people get so mistaken?

    AND

    I thought it was interesting that you said of Paul that his authority was driven from alleged visions, that can not be corroborated. What about Muhammad? His claim is that he saw a vision, and it cannot be corroborated. Why believe Muhammad over Paul?

    Until next time my friend,
    Michael

    jmcrist

    January 3, 2008 at 7:01 am

  15. Michael

    Thank you for the comment, I did have a good holiday and hope you too had a good holiday.

    You have asked two ‘hard questions’, and I will give you my answers to both of them:

    You said:

    Your claim is that it was made to look like Jesus was crucified. I want to learn exactly what you mean by this. Are you saying that He was actually crucified, and pulled down before dead, or that someone died in His place? What did they do with the body? And how did all of these people get so mistaken?

    I can only tell you what Allah has told us in the Quran, that he was NOT crucified, so it was not a case of Jesus being pulled down before dead.
    There are various theories “extrapolations” for example some scholars suggested that the person who betrayed Christ’s whereabouts was made to look like him, and it was that person who was crucified, others said it was one of the soldiers who came to take him. I can not say which of these scenarios did actually happen, it could be something altogether different, because this was God saving his prophet, and there are no limits to the power of Almighty.

    In another part of your comment you said, referring to the Gospels story about the disciples not recognising Jesus:

    According to my view, God kept them from seeing Jesus that the disciples might be tested

    This, I think, answers your question about how did all the people got mistaken. If it was possible for disciples – who were very close to Christ- to be kept from recognising him, then of course it is also possible for a lot of others to be mistaken about his identity.

    As for the second question about why believe Muhammad over Paul, I am about to finish a post on the subject and would love to have your feedback on it.

    Rasheed

    January 7, 2008 at 3:20 am

  16. Rasheed,

    Thanks for your kind reply – I know I ask a lot of questions :p

    You said: “I can only tell you what Allah has told us in the Quran, that he was NOT crucified, so it was not a case of Jesus being pulled down before dead.”

    It seems you’re starting with the presupposition that the Quran is true – in spite of what the other evidence tells us. So, my next question is, why should I believe the Quran’s account of what happened?

    You said: “This, I think, answers your question about how did all the people got mistaken. If it was possible for disciples – who were very close to Christ- to be kept from recognising him, then of course it is also possible for a lot of others to be mistaken about his identity.”

    Yes, God could close the eyes of the seers if He wanted to. However, we have no reason to believe that it wasn’t Jesus who was crucified. As 1st Century Historian NT Wright said, “We know for certain that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. That is one of the most secure facts in the history of the world.”

    You said: “As for the second question about why believe Muhammad over Paul, I am about to finish a post on the subject and would love to have your feedback on it.”

    You got it my friend.

    jmcrist

    January 7, 2008 at 5:12 pm

  17. Michael

    Thank you.

    You said:

    It seems you’re starting with the presupposition that the Quran is true – in spite of what the other evidence tells us. So, my next question is, why should I believe the Quran’s account of what happened?

    Of course the whole post was about explaining what the Quran told us about the crucifixion.

    As to why should you believe the Quran, I will have to ask you whether you read the Quran or not. If you did not, then I think it is unreasonable to pass judgment on its truthfulness before having read the book yourself.

    If you did read the Quran and you are not convinced, then of course this your decision. The Quran speaks for itself and I confess that I can not be more persuasive than the Quran itself.

    If you want to discuss the Quran, after reading it yourself, then I will be more than happy to engage in the discussion.

    Rasheed

    January 7, 2008 at 8:10 pm

  18. Rasheed,

    Deal. It will be a while, but I’ve been meaning to do an in depth study on Islam and the Quran for a while.

    I have a big problem with having to have faith in spite of what evidence tells us (in a certain regard). My reasoning here is that God is true – therefore the evidence should reflect this. If God says that He came as fire on top of a Mount Sinai, then there should be a mountain somewhere in the middle eastern desert that is burned black on top. If He says that Jesus was crucified, history should attest to this.

    You know what I mean?

    jmcrist

    January 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

  19. Rasheed,

    One more question: have you read the Bible?

    jmcrist

    January 7, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  20. Michael

    I read the Torah (5 Books), some of the Prophets, the 4 Gospels, and Acts and only a few epistles.
    I read many works which are considered Apocrypha and I am continuously reading what becomes available in English from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    I read the Gospels and parts of the Hebrew Bible in both English and Arabic.

    Your comment:

    Yes, God could close the eyes of the seers if He wanted to. However, we have no reason to believe that it wasn’t Jesus who was crucified.

    I will again refer you to my original post: I said in that post that Chtistians can NOT be blamed for believing that Jesus was crucified, until the revelation in the Quran of what really happened.

    I add here, now that the Quran has been revealed, and God sent his messenger Muhammad pbuh, He told us in it, that Christians (and others) who disbelieved the messenger and denied the Quran will be accountable in front of God, not for believing the crucifixion took place, but for shunning the message of God, and for insisting that God is triune or has partners.

    Finally: I am rather pleased that you ask many questions.
    This blog is a magnificent learning aid, as it allows me to have direct contact with some knowledgeable believers from other faiths. People who take their faith seriously and are genuinely looking to please God, while being respectful and reasonable to other opinions.

    Rasheed

    January 9, 2008 at 12:39 am

  21. I had glance surf on the topics and discussions on your blog. I must say it is interesting and highly provocative! Certainly this debate entices strive for further HARDQUESTIONS! It is enlightening though and stimulates people for a BETTER reading in what we keep in our bedrooms and cars.. the Holly Book!!

    May Allah reward you for your good deed.

    Hatim Abuhawa

    abuhawa7

    January 10, 2008 at 7:01 pm

  22. Rasheed,

    I think the Qu’ran a very significant flaw in its reasoning on this subject. Jesus himself declared himself to have been dead and resurrected. When Thomas, his disciple, doubted the accounts of those who had seen the risen Christ, Jesus appeared to him and told Thomas to put his hands in the nail holes and in his side where he was pierced by a spear.

    If the Qu’ran is correct and Jesus did not in fact die, then he clearly deceived his disciples. This calls into question his character and nature, and the very nature of the God of whom you believe him to be a prophet. I’m not sure about Allah, but the God of Christians and the Jews is not a deceiver, nor is His only begotten son Jesus Christ. This is a logical flaw too significant to ignore.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    January 14, 2008 at 4:47 am

  23. Andrew’s logic takes us no where!!! He is using what the Bible says to make his judgment on what the Quran says. Well, how about this, when Moslems do the same thing what will be your response?

    I say that Rasheed stated a very valid point in his initial post when he said that the two crucifixion accounts (that of the Bible and the Quran) cannot be reconciled, and reconciliation should not be the objective… the goal should be to simply understand the other side.

    Christians don’t accept the whole Quran (not just its account of the crucifixion) because the Bible tells them so. Same thing on the opposite side.. Moslems don’t accept the Bible because the Quran tells them so. So it is actually the two books themselves that reject one another. So what’s the point in saying that the Quran is wrong because what the bible says is different, or that the Bible is wrong because what the Quran says is different?

    Just try to understand what the other side says and ask questions that will help you find out more details (about your faith and about the other faith).

    عبده

    January 14, 2008 at 2:00 pm

  24. عبده,

    I am not using what the Bible says specifically to make a judgment on the Qu’ran. I realize the two accounts cannot be reconciled. There are some deep issues that the Qu’ranic account cannot explain. The point is that the Qu’ran’s account would have to mean Jesus misled his disciples. They didn’t just assume he was resurrected. They saw his resurrected body! Thomas, a disciple, put his hands in the nail holes in Jesus’ hands! Jesus himself predicted his death many times beforehand and several of his followers witnessed him die. He also told them afterwards that he had been resurrected. These were the same men that would be killed for testifying that Jesus was raised from the dead. Why would they testify even to the point of death if it were not true?! The Qu’ran can give no answer to this question, because there isn’t one.

    We have little logical reason to believe the Qu’ranic account of an event that happened 600 years beforehand as historical. The Gospels were written with the intention of being historical accounts. They set forth claims based in historical events, as any biography of that time would. The Qu’ran sets forth attempted historical claims that fly in the face of any evidence we have. And the only reasoning we have for these claims is because Allah told Muhhammad. As a Muslim, Rasheed has consistently questioned the reliability of the Apostle Paul because he “saw a vision.” Could we not, as Christians, question Muhammad the same? The difference between the two being that Muhammad’s vision was never corroborated by other witnesses, whereas Paul’s vision caused the men with him to hide and changed Paul from the most vicious persecutor of the Church to one of its most cherished Apostles. This cannot be explained away. Additionally, the New Testament tells us that 5oo people saw the risen Christ.

    And I adamantly disagree with your comment that “Christians don’t accept the whole Qu’ran because the Bible tells them so.” The Bible never specifically tells us not to accept the Qu’ran because the Bible predates the Qu’ran. Christians do not accept the Qu’ran because it is the radical, contradictory, and unjustifiable claims of one man that were enforced by the sword. Christianity spread not because of the sword, but in spite of it. Christianity spread even as its adherents were tortured, killed, thrown to the lions, etc., because they were not dying for a belief, but for something they knew to be true. They saw the risen Savior and could not deny what they had seen with their own eyes.

    The underlying issue is that the Bible and Qu’ran are mutually exclusive, and the logical evidence falls heavily on the side of the Bible. Historically, textually, prophetically, number of witnesses, transmission, etc. The Qu’ran attempts to cherry pick characters from the Bible as prophets, yet it disagrees with the majority of what they said and did and who they claimed to be.

    While I am engaging with Rasheed and attempting to understand what the Qu’ran says and why, I cannot sit idly by complacently as the Qu’ran ignores and denies who Jesus is and what he came to do. The beauty of the Bible is not rhythm or language, but the underlying message -the message that God, in spite of our wickedness, humbled Himself, and came down from heaven to live among us. He did this to conquer death and sin by dying and coming back to life, that we would not have to pay the price for sin -of eternal separation from Him. This is a story that began in Genesis (1st book of the Bible), and the New Testament tells us that Jesus completed this work, and took his seat in heaven. There is no need for another prophet or book. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind has been fulfilled, and all that is left is for us to accept the gift of salvation that He freely gives.

    Andrew

    January 15, 2008 at 4:56 am

  25. Andrew,

    Although you tried to deny it, the bulk of your comment above precisely proves my point about the fact that Christians reject the Quran because the Bible tells them so. I never said that Christians don’t accept the Quran because the Bible predates the Quran. That was not part of my argument. My argument was that the information given in the Bible is what forms the basis upon which Christians base their critique of the Quran.. this is what I meant when I said the Bible tells Christians not to believe in the Quran..
    Human logic does not operate without facts.. when discussing the crucifixion, you as Christian will operate your logic on information taken from the Bible and consider those information as given facts, and that becomes your criteria for investigating and judging the Quranic account.

    Please go back to your comment and read it over, and listen to yourself. Every piece of information you used to show why the Quran is not acceptable to Christians (whether in regards to the crucifixion or whatever else) is based on the Bible.

    In the first paragraph of your comment above you say: “They didn’t just assume …. They saw his …! Thomas, a disciple, put his hands … ! Jesus himself predicted …. He also told them …… “
    Did you get this information from anywhere other than the Bible?!!

    In your second paragraph your say the Gospels were “written with the intention of being historical accounts.” Well, how much history can you get about an event when even the main witnesses themselves (the disciples) were not sure about what they were experiencing?!
    But what’s most important is that you are not reading the Bible as just another historical account, but as the word of God, an inspiration! This makes it Infallible in your point of view. Which means if there are errors they have to be in the other accounts not in the Bible!

    As for the disciples’ percussion, how can you be sure the early Christians were being killed and persecuted because they were testifying that Jesus rose from the dead? Maybe they were being killed because they were saying that Jesus was not killed and that he was lifted up to heaven (which would agree with the Quran when it says Jesus was not killed nor even crucified but Allah lifted him up unto Him).

    In the same paragraph you say: “The Qu’ran sets forth attempted historical claims that fly in the face of any evidence we have.” Aren’t you again talking about the “historical accounts of the Gospels” as the evidence?! Again that’s referring to the Bible for evidence. What do we know about accounts of the crucifixion in the deleted gospels? The currently existing Gospels where not the only ones in existence… what do we know of those gospel’s accounts of the crucifixion?

    As for your comment about Allah telling Mohamed what happened, well for a Muslim Allah is the true God, so naturally for a Muslim that’s enough reason to believe the Quranic account, so a Muslim does not have a problem here. You have a problem because you don’t believe in Allah or the Quran, and again that’s because the Bible is standing in the way.

    As for your comparison between Mohamed and Paul, I am sorry but I don’t see that fact that there were men hiding as “corroborating” to Paul’s experience. Clearly when someone hides from the scene they miss the whole action and therefore cannot testify in corroboration to or against the account. But as for the change which happened to Paul after that event, I prefer to look at the change which happened to Christianity and to the teachings of Jesus Christ after that event.

    On the other hand, the Quran was not a vision, it is a sequence of passages containing words which Mohamed received and gave to the people around him. These words, while intangible, they are given to the people with the underlying claim that they are from the true God. So people can read the words and reason about them and decide whether to accept them as the words of God or otherwise fabrications of Mohamed. In other words, receiving a book from the true God does not require witnesses, the words of the book themselves are the test of Mohamed’s credibility. Mohamed’s history as one who never told a lie is also a testimony.

    Now, as for the change which the Quran produced on Mohamed, it is clear, he became a great messenger, prophet, and leader. He live for 63 years; 40 before the start of his mission and 23 after. 13 years of his mission in Mecca and the last 10 in Medina. In Mecca for 13 years he never used his fist or any form of violence against anyone. With only the words of the Quran he transformed the lives of a great number of followers from all walks of life. The sword was eventually used against him the night before his flight to Medina when the 40 tribes (Quraish and its allies) elected 40 young men (one from each tribe), gave them swords and they waited at the steps of Mohamed’s door waiting for him to come out early around dawn so that they jump on him and kill him. The plan was devised as such so that Mohamed’s clan (who was still not Muslim at the time) won’t be able to fight all the 40 tribes which participated in the assassination. Mohamed was saved by a revelation from Allah. The revelation told Mohamed about the plan and told him what to do. He was told by Allah’s angel to take sand in his hand and through it at the men. He did and they all were made to go into sleep. They later woke up at sunrise but it was too late because he had already reached far beyond the limits of Mecca with his companion (Abu-Bakr) and hidden in a cave. While in the cave a pigeon and a spider covered up on them when their enemies were searching close by.
    The plan of the idol-worshipers of Mecca was not just to put an end to Mohamed’s life but to the whole Muslim community and their religion altogether. Clearly, Allah saved his messenger and Mohamed made it safe to Median. As a natural result of these events, the state of affairs between Mecca and Medina entered a state of war.

    By the way, the above story is a historic account and it is not stated in the Quran.

    Further on, you say: “Christians do not accept the Quran because it is the radical, contradictory, and unjustifiable claims of one man that were enforced by the sword.” I say, neither Mohamed nor any of his successors forced anybody by the sword to accept the Quran. In all the lands conquered by Muslim armies people were left free to live and to decide about Islam, and they all accepted it by their own choice. Even today while we speak, hundreds of Christians convert to Islam in the west every day. What type of sword forces these people to accept the Quran? And by the way, which holly book did the Crusaders and Queen Isabella of Spain were following? The Quran or the Bible?

    Some of the Christians who were being persecuted by the Roman Empire and some Jews who were also persecuted before them landed close to Mecca and Medina and they had different accounts than today’s Christianity, and they even prophesied the coming of Mohamed. Clearly Christians don’t know about this because it is not recorded in the “history” which they are aware of.

    You say: “The underlying issue is that the Bible and Qu’ran are mutually exclusive, and the logical evidence falls heavily on the side of the Bible. Historically, textually, prophetically, number of witnesses, transmission, etc.” It is amazing how you sound so sure about this because it is the typical viewpoint of Muslims towards the Quran, that it is superior historically, textually, prophetically, number of witnesses, transmission, as well as scientifically!

    I don’t expect us to be debating these points here, and if you are I am sorry I won’t be able to join you. But if you ever meet a Muslim and get into a discussion with him/her comparing the Quran and the Bible, both of you will be using logic to conclude some evidence to support your point. But when logic needs facts is each of you going to use his holly book as reference? To me, this is the underlying issue.

    I suggest Christians, Muslims, and Jews, when they get into a religious discussion, each of them should forget about his background, and consider one thing only that they are all children of Abraham. Now assume you were actually Abraham’s sons, and that you had been living with Abraham in his time, but that you had gone to sleep one night and when you woke up in the morning it is the year 2008 already. Now, how, as brothers and children of the same father Abraham, are you going to deal with the religious differences of the three religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? You have to keep in mind all the time (at least while in the discussion) that you are brothers and that you are not followers of any of the three religions, only followers of Abraham’s religion.
    As for the case when the one of you is discussing his religion with a person from outside these three religions, you can use your scriptures as you like.

    عبده

    January 15, 2008 at 7:23 pm

  26. عبده,

    The early Christians were killed for their testimony that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. Are you suggesting that the Biblical accounts lie? That would be a strange thing to lie about, and what you are suggesting makes no sense.

    There are no deleted Gospels. There are “gospels” written over a hundred years after the fact by Gnostics attempting to change the story. These are not truthful or historical in any way, shape, or form. If you were to read any, you would find them laughable. There was even one, The Secret Gospel of Mark, which was forged in the 20th Century. The Gnostic philosophers tried to change Christ to fit their existing teachings.

    The men with Paul at his conversion saw a bright light and hid. They did not see Christ, but they saw something to corroborate the fact that Paul had a vision. He was then blinded temporarily and healed by a Christian who God told in a vision to go to him. Again, if you can’t show how Paul changed teachings, don’t present it as evidence. It’s just not true. You may “prefer” to believe this, but I could “prefer” to believe that the moon is made of cheese. I would be entirely wrong.

    The words of the Qu’ran only are not proving anything. It doesn’t take much for a person to cut and paste religions together when surrounded by Christians, Jews, and Pagans as Muhammad was. Even the name Allah was the name given to the rain god in the Kaaba at the time. A good analogy might be to hand someone a recipe and ingredients and ask them to cook dinner. Sure they could cook it, but it wouldn’t be the same as having a chef make it.

    You bring up the Crusades, but one thing I would urge you to see is that while people may fight “in the name of Christianity” they are not following Christ. The word “Christian” means Christ-like. If one is not following the teachings of Christ, it doesn’t matter what they claim to fight for. I am sorry the Crusades have tainted your view of Christianity, but they were nothing more than war lords using the name of Christ for their own ends. Unfortunately, the Church has a long history of being hijacked by the power hungry.

    You speak of Jews and Christians in Arabia having different accounts. If you read up on Church history, practice, and teachings, there are many who brought false teachings into the Church. Please don’t assume that because their story is different that they are correct. These may have been “Christians” and Jews who lost touch with their teachings in their new culture, or they may have even been sent away from their own people for what they taught. The Biblical manuscripts we have are early and extremely well transmitted. We have copies of the Gospel of John from as early as 35 years after the original. The teachings haven’t changed, although people’s application may have changed.

    I don’t see how you can say the Qu’ran is superior historically. It was not written as a historical book. If the Qu’ran is superior prophetically, where are your prophecies? I could give you several from the Bible off the top of my head in Daniel, Isaiah, Psalms, etc. If the Qu’ran has a superior number of witnesses, why did no one witness Muhammad’s revelations from Allah? If it is superior in transmission, why was it not written down in the lifetime of Muhammad? Why did Muhammad die suddenly and unexpectedly? What scientific evidence do you present for the Qu’ran? If you’re going to lay out these points, show me facts and passages.

    I would love to be able to reconcile our differences as children of Abraham. The only problem is, your religion says Abraham is someone completely different than the Abraham of Christianity and Judaism. Our Abraham “believed the LORD and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). He did not follow Five Pillars or attempt to work his way into heaven and pray Allah was merciful. He simply had faith in God’s promise to him. We don’t serve the same God. I wish we did, my friend. I wish we did.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    January 16, 2008 at 12:50 am

  27. Andrew,

    The early Christians were killed for different reasons, and the accounts of the Bible settled on a single point view after lengthy disputed differences among various parties. In the very early days, just the belief that Jesus was the Messiah was enough to get you killed, and the prosecutors won’t wait to hear your opinion about his resurrection. I did not suggest that the Biblical accounts lie, but I do believe that the theological differences after Jesus’ ascension into heaven were so vast and the debates reflect how the scriptures evolved.

    The above point is connoted to my point about gospels which were deleted. You cannot throw in something that was fabricated in the 20th century to prove that there were no gospels deleted. Nevertheless, the fact that there were Gnostics, suggests that most likely there were other schools of theology which had other gospels and accounts. The fact that we have canonical gospels implies that there must have been other non-canonical gospels. And these could include not just the Gnostics and the few other sects you know about, but other sects as well which you don’t know about … such as those which ran away into the desert of Arabia, and who knows elsewhere.

    I don’t see how those who ran away to the desert have been influenced by the cultures to which they ran away to, especially those who ran to the Arabian Peninsula! Arabs in the peninsula were pagans and did not know anything about the coming of a new prophet.. They had never had a prophet before so they could not have possibly received a prophecy about a future Arab prophet. Therefore, run-away Christians and Jews could not have possibly picked that up from the Arabs. To the contrary, it would be the other way around, it would be those Jews and Christians who would tell the Arabs about a new prophet.

    Could we forget about Paul, please? Let’s talk about Abdo (that’s me) for a moment. Abdo says he saw a vision, there were men with Abdo who did not see the vision that Abdo saw. They only saw a bright light and hid. A Muslim man who saw a vision (which also was not saw by anyone else) came and cured Abdo from blindness. We don’t know that Muslim man’s name or the men who were with Abdo, but we believe Abdo to be telling the truth; despite the fact that Abdo is ready to lie sometimes (for the sake of Allah in order to abound the followers of Allah, Romans 3:7)! After the vision, Abdo became a devout Muslim, but he saw some obstacles which prevented people from becoming Muslim. Although the majority of Muslim scholars insisted that no one can be Muslim without observing the five pillars, Abdo taught that it is ok for new Muslims to drop one or two pillars if they find them daunting! And never mind about circumcision anymore because our cousins (in Christianity) have dropped it already a long time ago too.

    If you find the words of the Quran to be a cut-and-paste out of the Bible, I challenge you to give me one single sentence which is copied from the Bible (NT or OT). It seems to me that cut and paste was the business of the synoptic writers.
    It is the first time I hear that the name Allah was the name given to the rain god in the Kaaba! If so, is that why Christian Arabs (and Jews) still refer to god by the word “Allah”? Have you seen an Arabic Bible before? Take a look at this Website (http://www.waterlive.org/), type the word الله in the search field (of course you can copy and paste it) and click the button next to it. I just did that and got 1010 hits (one thousand and ten). Hits came from both the OT and NT. What is this word “الله” doing in the Bible?!! Do you also know what is God in Aramaic? Did Abraham or Moses or Jesus use the word “God”? What name did they know for God?

    The Quran and its words is the ultimate test for Mohamed’s truth. The claim is very simple: Mohamed claimed that he was a messenger from God and that he was given the Quran which is the word of God. Muslims believe in the above statement … their knowledge of Mohamed and of the Quran makes them accept this claim wholeheartedly without any doubt, and that’s it for them. If you know anything that can show that Mohamed is not worthy to be believed, and that the Quran cannot be from God, you have to present it.

    I understand how difficult it can be for someone whose mother language is very remote from the source text. Don’t you just envy the Muslims in general and the Arabs in particular because they are in direct touch with the original text of their scriptures?! Can you imagine what it would be like for you if your mother-tongue was Greek or Aramaic and you had access to the original scriptures of the Bible in these languages? Well, the Quran is written in Arabic, and Arabic is a living language spoken by hundreds of millions of people in Arabic countries, and is taught as a second language in so many Muslim countries. All of them testify to the power of the Quran both for its language and the truthfullness of its content.

    I mentioned the Crusaders and Queen Isabella to give examples of how Christianity was forced on some people by the sword, and I am sure that anyone of those who were forced to convert to Christianity by the sword and got a chance to escape had reverted right as soon as they felt safe from the oppressors. You still did not tell me what type of sword forces Christians in the West to convert to Islam. Also, what about the Muslims who come to the West? There are Millions of them. If they were Muslims because they had been forced to, why don’t they renounce Islam when they settle in the West? Among the millions of Muslims living in the West, what percentage of them renounces Islam? To the contrary, Islam in the West is in continuous expansion.

    You advise me “please don’t assume that because their account is different that they are correct.” Well, I am not making that assumption.. but it seems to me that you are the one who is sure that if anything is different than the Bible’s account then it is wrong!

    When you say “we have copies of the Gospel of John from as early as 35 years after the original”, you are not telling us how long after Christ were the originals written, and you sound like saying that 35 years are nothing. The Soviet Union was the guardian of communism in the early sixties, and by the late eighties (almost 35 years afterwards) they had miserably lost the cold war and Ronald Regan was commanding Gorbachev to tear down the wall of Berlin. That was a “political” defeat, I must agree, but it was underlined by a major ideological defeat. And the lesson to be learned here is that when a religion/ideology is still fresh it is most susceptible to alterations especially when it is subjected to tremendous pressures and attacks. When it comes to Christianity, the susceptibility is magnified due to external and internal factors. External factors being the tremendous Jewish-Roman enemity and pressure, and internal factors being the great uncertainty and disagreement concerning differnt issues especially the nature of Christ and the way his life on earth was ended.

    The comparison between the Quran and the Bible has been extensively studied, discussed and debated. I don’t think there is room for us here to reenact the debate, but the Web is full of material on the topic. Just Google it and you will be overwhelmed.

    You ask a number of questions about Mohamed and the transmission of the Quran. You ask why did no one witness Mohamed’s revelations from Allah? I say, no one needed to witness the revelation, because basically the revelation is “words”. All we need is to listen to the words and make our own judgment on whether these words can be from God or are simply Mohamed’s own. That’s all. People around Mohamed never asked to be involved in the revelation process (ie. to witness it in one way or another). They were intelligent human beings like all humans, and they could use their minds to make their own judgments. Especially when all what Mohamed presented them with were words from their own language. If I tell you now that this long comment you are reading (which I have been writing for over a month now!) was revealed to me from God, won’t you be able to tell that this is false?! And it won’t be so hard for you to present strong arguments to show that. Same thing, the people around Mohamed could, and anyone today can, apply any number of tests to examine Mohamed’s claim that the words of the Quran were revealed to him from Allah, without having to be present during the revelation process.

    You also ask: “If it is superior in transmission, why was it not written down in the life time of Mohamed?”. My answer, again, it did not have to be written down, neither in the lifetime of Mohamed nor after. In fact, I personally believe that verbal transmission is more superior than written transmission. The words of the Quran were inscribed in Mohamed’s mind and when he recited them to people around him the words were again inscribed in their minds because they memorized them by heart and rehearsed them continuously. Mohamed lived for 23 years and all his companions took the Quran from him verbally and memoriezed it during his life. Until this day, memorization remains the primary method of transmission of the Quran. If you read a passage in the Quran and make a mistake, and in your audience there is a Mulsim who memorizes that passage, he will right away stop you and make sure you make the correction. Writing down the Quran started during Mohamed’s life but only after he died that it was “compiled” into one book. The main reason for compiling the Quran was that Islam expanded to various regions where Arabic is not the mother tongue. It was necessary, therefore, to record the Quran in a standard official volume which serves as the reference when people ever come into differences about it. This volume was compiled by a syndicate of the people who received and memorized the Quran from Mohamed directly during his life.

    You ask: “Why did Mohamed die suddenly and unexpectedly?” Who says that Mohamed died “suddenly” and “unexpectedly”?!

    You ask: “What scientific evidence do you present for the Quran?” I say, there are passages in the Quran which talk about various natural phenomena. The knowledge presented in these passages is impossible to have been known to humans at that time because only later that scientific observation could assert such knowledge. Therefore those passages with scientific knowledge could have never been written by Mohamed or any human and therefore they must come from God Almighty. You can find various materials on the Web; just give it a little effort.

    Finally, your comment about Abraham really made me sad. I always thought that the three religions have almost nothing to disagree about when it comes to Abraham. But it is clear to me that your perception of Abraham has problems, and I invite you to re-read the Bible to correct your perception, and to find that there is a lot more agreement on him among the three religions than you think. The statement you cited about him from Genesis echoes with the typical description of Abraham in the Quran. Even the five pillars; do you have any doubt that he: 1) testified that there is only one god, or 2) that he used to pray to God, or 3) that he used to fast from food, or 4) that he used to pay charity to the poor. Furthermore, hajj (the fifth pillar) to the Kaaba, it is he who actually built the Kaaba and started with his son the ritual of annual pilgrimage to it. Do you have any doubt that he used to do these things and other acts of righteousness in order to gain enough credit with God so that he will deserve the mercy of God and get into heaven? Yes he did have trust in God, and because of that trust he was ready to obey God’s order and kill his own son as commanded by God. His son too, did not resist and was welling to abide by God’s command. His trust and obedience won him the love and mercy of God, and this is what we learn from Abraham and his son. That when we trust in God and be obedient to him, and preserve acts of worship and righteousness we will win his mercy and enter his paradise. The ram was a symbol of God’s mercy: that those who pass the test don’t have to worry anymore. The more Abraham’s faith and trust in God grew, the more God’s trials to Abraham grew, and the test of killing his own son was the climax. There can be no greater test than that, and only the greatest among humans may pass such a test. Abraham passed it, and he deserved God’s mercy and assurance that he shall never have to grief again. When Abraham asked God to give the same to his children God said only the righteous deserve My assurance.
    Fortunately most people don’t have to go through the same tests as Abraham did, but I am sure no one will deserve God’s mercy without having believe in God and to work for his mercy. No one is immune from sin, immune from punishment for his sins, and no one shall bear the sins of another (The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son).

    عبده

    February 12, 2008 at 2:17 am

  28. Abdo,

    I don’t know where to even begin addressing your response. You have undoubtedly misunderstood Christianity, how it was formed, and how it has been abused.

    In its formative period, the doctrines of Christianity were not uncertain, but there was opposition. As men saw the success and miracles of Christianity, they began to adopt some of its teachings, adding their own twist to them. Paul, John, Peter, they all had to address false teachings in several churches. You must read Paul through a Christian understanding, or you will continue to wrongfully think he changed the message.

    As to the “other gospels,” these were books written by the false teachers I described above. If someone had written a book that went against the Qu’ran would Muslims accept it? No! The same goes with these “other gospels” which were not written until the 2nd century or later.

    The core doctrines of Christianity were formed immediately upon the Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ’s followers. We see this in Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. Christ crucified and raised to life for forgiveness of sins. That was the Gospel.

    I understand your reference to the Crusades, but you must understand that the Crusades and those who supported them were not following the Bible. They followed their greed and hatred, manipulating the Bible along the way to make it say what they wanted. I am sorry that they gave you an improper view of Christianity, but I hope you can understand that this is not what Christianity is. Christ called his followers not to a physical war, but that our battle is with the Devil and his minions, fighting for the souls of men.

    As for Abraham, the Bible does ascribe to him at least the first two pillars. I’m not sure that there is mention of him fasting or giving to the poor. The fifth pillar is not mentioned anywhere and was a legend of Arabia, not a biblical teaching. It was used to legitimize a connection from Muhammad to Abraham. If you will focus on the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, as you recounted it, you will see that there is something much greater being alluded to here. This is the message of Christianity; that Christ was that ram, the perfect sacrifice that takes our place. It is only by God’s mercy that Christ took our place in death and lives that we too may have life in him as our savior. That is Christianity; that we can have assurance that the blood of Christ covers our sin. That we no longer have to rely on five pillars, or our own righteousness because in us God sees the righteousness of His Son. It is a salvation based on grace, on God’s terms, not on our own works.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    February 12, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  29. Andrew,

    It is ok if you see that I had misunderstood Christianity, because I too see that you have misunderstood Islam. After all, we are here to discuss and explain our differences so that we decrease our misunderstandings, and learn how to respect one another.

    In the paragraph where you talk about Christianity’s “formative period”, I understand that you are referring to the period after Jesus’ departure. If that’s correct, then I must say that this sounds somewhat odd for a Muslim, because the formative period of a religion should normally start from the beginning of the mission of the prophet or messenger of that religion and should finish by the time he departs. But in the case of Christianity I guess things are different because the main doctrines of the Christian faith were formed by Paul, and that’s why Paul is typically referred to as the “father of Christianity”.

    With Islam it is different. Islam is not ascribed to any Muslim after Mohamed. Even Mohamed himself does not claim to be the originator of the religion. Islam is the religion of Allah. It is based on the same articles of faith which God taught to all His prophets and messengers. With the last messenger, Mohamed, God completed and sealed His religion, Islam, and His succession of prophets. After Mohamed’s death, the formation process finished, and no one could add or take away any item of the religion (whether doctrine or law). For Christianity, the case is clearly different. The formation process started and finished after Jesus’ departure.

    Now you are saying that in that formative period, the doctrines of Christianity were not uncertain but there was opposition. The interesting thing to me is that some of these oppositions came from Jesus own disciples who were there during Jesus time on earth, when Paul himself was not! Which makes you wonder who was actually opposing who, and who was actually adding his own twist to the original doctrines? You can of course open the Bible and show us that what Paul says is in complete conformity with the Bible, but my point is that the Bible itself is the product of the formation process. That process involved different doctrines, explanations, opinions, etc. and eventually only one set won over the rest and that’s what came to be Christianity. Everything else was omitted once and for all and was declared heretic. Can we use the NT as terms of reference to examine the other sects when the NT itself is the product of one of those sects?!

    In Islam, the Quran is the reference because it was completed during Mohamed’s life. Is there anything comparable to that in Christianity? Is there any piece of scripture that was with Jesus during his life to which all Christians can refer and justify themselves according to it?

    If I read Paul and his writings, how is it possible for me to be certain that what he wrote conforms to what Jesus came with? Who and what can be the judge between Paul and his opposition (the “false teachers”, as you describe), judge among the different sects, and most importantly judge between Christians altogether on one side and the Jews on the other side?

    As for the Crusades, I am sorry to tell you that it is very hard to convince anyone in the world (not just Muslims) that the Crusades were not following the Bible. Can you refer me to any publication from the Church making such a statement? I don’t think you will find any Church during the crusades time that could have possibly opposed the Crusades. So, any opposition you present will naturally come from a modern Church. But then, this makes me ask the question of whether it is legitimate for modern churches to annul the teachings of older churches (older Churches supported the Crusades). I agree with you that “Christ called his followers not to a physical war, but that our battle is with the Devil and his minions, fighting for the souls of men.” But what would you say to your Church leaders when they tell you that the Devil has manifested in a person, or that the devil has created a new religion and that religion now has a nation and this nation is threatening the nation of God, and that every single member of this nation must be killed because he is a son of the Devil? Do you have authority to object to your Church leaders? Will you take a position that’s any different from that of the average Christian in Europe during the Crusades who had complete trust in his Church leaders and followed them unquestionably?

    It would have been a lot different if the Church was supporting the Crusades with the aim of merely overthrowing Muslim rule and establishing Christian rule in the Holly Land without affecting the lives of the people of the land. But that was not the case. The aim was to cleanse the Holly Land from the “Saracens” by killing every single one of them. And that aim was supported by the Church.

    I have no problem with Jesus Christ. I understand very well that he has nothing to do with all this history. I believe in Jesus Christ as a messenger of God, the same God of Mohamed. But I believe that there is a wide gap between Jesus Christ and Christianity.

    As for Abraham, even if the Bible does not explicitly mention that he used to fast or give to the poor; of course he did. Can you imagine any righteous prophet or messenger of God not doing these two practices?

    The fifth pillar, hajj, is not a biblical teaching of course, because Abraham built the Kaba with Ismail, not Isaac. So, it will be very unlikely to expect the Israelites to record anything about it in the OT. But that does not mean that the hajj was a legend or that it was fabricated to legitimize a connection from Mohamed to Abraham. The connection is there whether the Bible mentions it or not. Mohamed’s lineage directly connects to Abraham through Ismail. Ismail was a legitimate son of Abraham, because Hagar (Ismail’s mother) was Abraham’s wife (Gen. 16:3). Here again, is another example of how you take only what the Bible says as the only credible historical account. Anything else is a “legend” to you, even when it does not contradict with the Bible!

    The message of Christianity as you explain it, is where we differ. I don’t see the story of Abraham and his son the way you see it. Abraham was required by God to conform to His commands in order to win His grace, and that’s the true message. Humans are required to believe and to do righteous deeds in order to deserve God’s mercy and win His heaven. Abraham was not ordered to kill his son as an act of sacrifice; does the Bible tell us that? Abraham was ordered to kill his son only as a test from God. He set out to sacrifice his son for the sake of God in fulfillment of God’s command not as a redemption of some sin he committed (“Some time later God tested Abraham…” Genesis 22:1). The order was a commandment to test Abraham’s faith and when he showed great faith and obedience and readiness to take action and fulfill the commandment, God granted him his blessings and mercy because he passed the test. When was death or human blood the only way to redeem sin? As a matter of fact when Adam committed the first sin by disobeying God’s order not to eat from the tree, God only taught him a few words and told him to pray to Him in those words and God forgave him. God is so generous and merciful that some of our sins can be forgiven by Him just by asking Him for forgiveness with sincere intention.

    We can never be exempt from acts of worship and acts of righteousness. These acts are the direct manifestation of our faith. How can one claim to have faith in God when his actions don’t translate into righteous deeds? Acts of worship are not human inventions. They are specifically defined by God Himself. Only God defines how he is worshiped. The five pillars of Islam are made up of the declaration of faith (first pillar) and the rest (regular ritual prayers, the fast, charity, and hajj) are predefined acts specified by God Himself which are the true translation of the faith as declared in the first item.

    God does not have a son, and even if he did, I cannot imagine God sacrificing his son for our sake. The Christian doctrine of the crucifixion doesn’t make sense! Typically, sacrificing something means losing it.. that is, you lose the thing you sacrifice forever.. it’s gone! But was Jesus sacrificed as far as God is concerned? According to Christianity Jesus is still alive and he is with us to this day.. We only don’t see him. God didn’t lose Jesus, we did not lose Jesus, and so, how was there a sacrifice? Who sacrificed who?

    Islam’s answer is very simple. We are required to believe in God and to obey his commands. Believing in God but disobeying his commands is sin. God forgives sins if we repent and redeem them. God gave us plenty of ways for redemption. Some sins can be redeemed by simply asking god with true sincerity for forgiveness. Other sins are redeemed by some sort of sacrifice.

    The crucifixion cannot be considered in any way as God’s way of redeeming our sins. No one was really sacrificed in the crucifixion. God did not sacrifice Jesus just as Abraham did not sacrifice his son.

    We are always required to perform acts of worship and acts of righteousness and follow God’s commandments, and can never rely on faith alone. God’s grace cannot be given to us unless we follow His terms. Otherwise what is the meaning of sin?! Sin is the disobeying of God’s commands. If we are not required to obey some commandments or to do certain acts of worship then there is no way for us to sin in the first place. If I am required to only believe, then I have a blank check. Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa can be next door neighbors in Heaven. Is that what you mean by God’s terms? One term only: accept the blood of Jesus as a cover of your sins?

    God’s terms are his specific commandments and acts of worship and righteousness which He defined for us in his truly revealed Holly Book (not anything that we invent for ourselves). Our duty is to find God’s message, believe in it and conform our lives to it, and when we sin (and we will most certainly do) return to God, ask for His forgiveness, and repent. He will most certainly forgive us.

    This is salvation based on grace, on God’s terms, not on our own terms.

    عبده

    February 13, 2008 at 3:01 am

  30. Abdo,

    I am fully open to discussing and understanding our differences, however I do not expect them to be reconciled. I respect you and all Muslims as being created in the image of God. I believe that we can disagree and still live in harmony.

    The “formative period” of Christianity is obviously a bit different than Islam’s because of the status ascribed to its leader. Christianity is different from any other world religion because Jesus was God in human flesh. He didn’t have to figure things out, or form a religion. He was the center of the religion and taught people to look to his perfect example. The formative period of Christianity began under the pretexts of Judaism. It was the fulfillment of the prophecies of Judaism. The early Christians greatest challenge was adapting Judaism into a secular Roman world.

    While Paul did much to expand the Church and describe its theology, he did nothing to change its theology. You keep bringing this up, but it is simply not true and you offer no proof. If you want to test Paul’s theology, place it up next to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, or the books by Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter, James, and John (1 & 2 Peter; James; 1, 2, & 3 John, & Revelation). Feel free to question doctrines and ask me. I would love to explain and help you reconcile the assumed differences.

    You must recognize the difference between doctrine and practice. The doctrine, or beliefs about who God and Jesus are was already understood by the time Jesus ascended. What was developed in the formative period was the practice of the religion. Islam has had the same process. There are always areas of life that religion speaks to, but does not explicitly speak about. For instance, human cloning is not specifically addressed in the Bible or the Qu’ran, but from a reading of the scriptures, we can understand a proper response within our religious contexts to human cloning.

    The New Testament is not a product of sects. The sects developed later and were formed based on previously held beliefs such as Gnosticism. Gnosticism already existed before it took form as a pseudo-Christianity, but it began adopting Christian teachings to suit its purposes and in attempts to legitimize it. Calling Gnosticism “Christianity” is no different than calling Mormonism “Christianity.” They look similar at first glance, but if you really look at them, they are completely different religions. We don’t have any writings early enough from other “sects” to be considered for opposing mainline Christianity. I urge you to read up these Gnostic “gospels” next to the New Testament and see how different they are.

    You cannot say the Qu’ran was completed during Muhammad’s life. It was not compiled until after his death and only then from oral tradition, which scholars outside of Islam will tell you is far from superior to written texts.

    The difference in how we view Christianity lies in our understanding of grace. In Christianity, grace is not something to be earned. Abraham’s sacrifice in and of itself did not earn him grace. That would make grace dependent upon an act of man. Grace is wholly dependent on God. There is no act we can do to deserve grace. Hopefully, you can recognize that as a Christian, I am more qualified to explain what Christianity is and believes as you as a Muslim can better explain and understand the beliefs of Islam.

    As for the story of the hajj, are there copies of this written in literature dating prior to 1000 B.C.? If not, we have little choice but to consider this an oral tradition and a legend. It does not explicitly contradict the Bible, and it is possible that there is some truth in it, but I find little reason to believe it.

    Forgiveness is where our religions seem to differ. In Judaism and Christianity, a blood sacrifice was always required for forgiveness. In Christianity, Christ is the final blood sacrifice for all time. Islam seems to have nothing close to this doctrine that I’ve heard (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). The purpose of the blood sacrifice was to show our need for God’s mercy and how this was a sacrifice impossible for us to make. Our sins cannot be redeemed apart from Christ’s sacrifice. The blood sacrifice was all a foreshadowing of the death of Christ on the cross.

    When you say: “If I am required to only believe, then I have a blank check. Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa can be next door neighbors in Heaven. Is that what you mean by God’s terms? One term only: accept the blood of Jesus as a cover of your sins?” the answer is yes! That is the beauty about grace. No matter how far we stray from God’s will, He is always waiting for us to come home. He is always loving us, even when we don’t deserve it (which we can never deserve it). That is why I say it is only God’s grace and that Islam does not have the same picture of grace.

    You said: “God’s terms are his specific commandments and acts of worship and righteousness which He defined for us in his truly revealed Holy Book (not anything that we invent for ourselves). Our duty is to find God’s message, believe in it and conform our lives to it, and when we sin (and we will most certainly do) return to God, ask for His forgiveness, and repent. He will most certainly forgive us.”

    You are right in saying this, however, our responses and understanding of what grace is between Islam and Christianity are far different. Christianity’s grace is far more dependent on God. The thing about grace is, that it can’t be earned as I said before. Islam describing grace based on works is not grace at all. Grace requires nothing of us. It is a free gift of God. This gives us a higher view of God and His character.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    February 13, 2008 at 6:28 pm

  31. Andrew,
     
    Ok, so Christianity is the religion in which Jesus is God in human flesh, and Jesus did not have to figure things out, or form a religion. Well, even when you describe Christianity in that way, you are describing a religion that was not there before Jesus’ departure. Judaism of old and Judaism of today does not recognize any of this. Judaism recognizes a Messiah, but not a man who is God or semi-God. Because, after all, if Judaism does accept what you are saying, then we wont have two separate religions, Christianity and Judaism. We started to have these two separate religions the moment the doctrine of Christianity (including the divinity of Christ and salvation through Jesus’ blood, etc.) started to be formed after Jesus’ departure. This doctrine formed as a result of a process which involved different groups of people with different opinions and views. These views were varying on a wide scope of issues including the nature of Jesus himself and whether he was human or divine or both. Eventually, one side overcame the others and that’s what became Christianity.

    You cannot refer me to the Gospels to show that the divinity of Christ is an essential doctrine taught by Jesus, because the Gospels themselves are a product of the formation process of Christianity which Jesus had nothing to do with. We don’t have the truth of what Jesus said or did, we only have one version narrated by one side of the debate, the side which turned out victorious above the rest. When I say the rest, I am not talking about just the Gnostics. You keep bringing the Gnostics again and again as if they were the only ones out there during early Christianity. I am talking about the others who were lost. We know that early Christians were persecuted, and I am sure some of those were persecuted just because they believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, not because he was divine or that he came to die for people’s sins. If these people were the ones who survived instead, your Bible would have nowhere in it that says or alludes to Jesus being divine or that he died for peoples sins or even that he was crucified.
     
    So, once again, we cannot test Paul’s theology by placing it up next to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels simply because the Gospels themselves are the product of Paul’s school of thought. So those teachings of Jesus that are found in the Gospels are most probably carefully picked, and may be twisted, in a way to eliminate any contradiction or discrepancy.
     
    So, please suggest a different criterion for testing.
     
    As for the completion of the Quran, I most certainly can say that the Quran WAS COMPLETED DURING MUHAMMAD’S LIFE! When the only thing that remains to be done to a book is to compile it into a single volume that does not mean the book was not complete! God completed His revelation of the Quran to Mohammed before Mohammed’s death. Mohammed gave instructions on how the Quran is to be arranged. His followers preserved every word of the Quran both in their memory and in writing. The only thing there was remaining to be done was to compile the pieces according to Mohammed’s instructions into one volume.
     
    As for oral transmission… When focus is only on relaying the jest of the information, oral transmission is inferior. But in the case of the Quran the emphasis was on an easy transmission of the Quran while at the same time preserving every single word of it. The Quran was memorized word by word, and handed orally from one generation to the next. I am absolutely confident that the way the Quran was orally transmitted is far more superior to written text. For one, it is much easier for scribes to make copying mistakes and once these mistakes are made it becomes difficult to debug them. In the case of oral transmission, when a passage is recorded in memory (with continuous rehearsal) it is hard to be forgotten, and if mistakes are made it is very easy for listeners who memorize the same passage to spot the mistakes and correct them.
     
    I wonder how those scholars outside of Islam whom you are referring to could explain the fact that the Quran, which is transmitted mainly orally, was preserved entirely over a period of more than 14 centuries without a single transmission error, while the Bible which was transmitted in writing has all the copying mistakes that it does.
     
    As for the difference on our view of grace, I will partially agree with you. You say “grace is not something to be earned”. I agree that our life here on earth is a great grace from God, and we did not earn it, it was bestowed on us by the grace of God. So, in that since, yes I agree. But we are not talking about this now.. we are talking about an extra stratum of grace. We are talking about forgiving sin. Nothing we do can pay back for the grace of God which which we are enjoying just as we stand here and now in this life. Yet, God promises us more. He has prepared heaven for us wherein we will have much more than there exists in this world. That promise too is granted to us by God’s grace, but we need to believe in God and obey Him. But even if we disobey Him and sin, God will be waiting for us with his overwhelming grace and will accept us when we repent to him and redeem our sins. So, God’s grace is overwhelming in many ways: There is the freely-granted grace of life and its pleasures here on earth. There is the grace of heaven and its inconceivable joy and pleasure which we obtain when we believe and obey. And there is the grace of God’s forgiveness which we automatically receive when we repent.
     
    The reason why you find little reason to believe the story of the hajj is simply because it is not mentioned in the Bible. Had it been there, you won’t find a problem believing it, and you won’t ask for a written account anywhere else. Where can I find something written about this for you when it is well known that the Arabs have been an illiterate nation all throughout their history until Islam came?!! Before that they had never had historians, and no historian is known to have been interested in their history! The only thing that you can expect to find written before Islam might be a few verses of poetry. So, please don’t ask about written proof when it comes to events in Arabia prior to Islam, and please have a little more respect to oral Arab/Islamic tradition because in many instances it is more trustworthy than Christian/Western written tradition.

    As for blood sacrifice, are you saying that the element of blood has to be their in the sacrifice? Does blood as an element play a role in achieving redemption for the sin? In Islam the Arabic word used for “sacrifice” is “tad’heya” (تضحية) and the notion is that you give up something of your possession. That’s the general meaning of the word. In religion, when you make a sin, the way to redeem the sin is to give up something, i.e. sacrifice something that’s dear to you. How significant that something is depends on how big the sin is. When the sacrifice involves blood it is called “od’heya” (أُضحية). Islam does not use these terms frequently. The more frequent term is “kaffara” (كفّارة) which carries basically the same meaning but does not involve blood sacrifice. Typically, kaffara is in the form of charity to the poor, or fasting a number of days (in fasting you sacrifice your desire for food). In general what I understand the purpose of the sacrifice in Islam (whether it involves blood or not) is to tame one’s own self by depriving it of something dear and therefore reminding it that the topmost priority is obedience to God not obedience to its own desires. God does not need our sacrifices, it is we who need to purify ourselves and reminded ourselves of the correct order of priorities.

    Your answer to my hypothetical example of Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa was very bold! But I am sure it is not what God wants to tell us. Because if that’s God’s message, then don’t blame anyone if they act with great mischief, they can kill, steal, cheat, do whatever they wish, and they have full right to do so because God gave them the ok and he will even give them heaven after they die just as long as they accept that Jesus died and shed his blood to cover for their sins. Who dares to say anything against the Crusades anymore, it’s all ok by God! It is their victims who shall burn in hell for ever.

    عبده

    February 14, 2008 at 1:00 am

  32. Abdo,

    Judaism’s rejection of Jesus does not mean what you take it to mean. They expected a conquering king that would free them from the Romans, but the prophecies of the Messiah can be divided into two categories, the Suffering Servant and the Triumphant Ruler. Christ fulfilled the Suffering Servant role when he came the first time. He said he would come back to fulfill the second role which is understood to have begun even now as he reigns in the hearts of his followers.

    Consider this; the only reason for Judaism’s continuation is their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. If Jews as a whole embraced Christ as Messiah, there would be no Judaism. So, Judaism’s take on the Messiah today is really not relevant (assuming Jesus is the Messiah) given that they completely missed him! Take for example a man who says “The world is flat.” A thousand years ago, we consider him to have a relevant and perhaps even scientific idea. Today, we know better and we don’t call him a reputable scientist!

    Blood sacrifice was the basis of God’s religion even prior to Judaism (see Gen. 4:3-5). Judaism revolved around the blood sacrifice. Every year the high priest would give a blood sacrifice in the temple and it would be burned up on the altar by God if He accepted it. The last year God burned the sacrifice was prior to Christ’s death. Christ’s sacrifice was the final blood sacrifice and the end of Judaism. The implication is that Christ’s blood covers the sins of all who follow him. While we still repent when we sin we don’t atone for our sin by an action or by giving something up. Fasting and sacrifice are a part of life as a Christian, but are not part of the forgiveness process. Islam attempts to make atonement for sin, and where there is personal atonement, the effect of grace is negated.

    A question I would ask you to ponder is this: Who’s Messiah are we speaking of; God’s Messiah or the Jews’ Messiah? Is it not up to God to decide who and what the Messiah is? Perhaps he didn’t give the Jews a full description of the Messiah in advance. He did give them enough to know that the Messiah would come before 70 AD when the temple was destroyed by Rome.

    Where are these “lost Christianities” of which you speak? Could it be that they didn’t exist? It’s really a rather absurd argument to say that you believe something, but it’s too bad we destroyed all the evidence.

    Your argument about excluding the Gospels from our testing criterion is equally as absurd. You have not shown me one point which Paul disagreed with the Gospels. He wrote some of his letters before the writers of the Gospels. Why did they never address his “false teachings”? Did he dupe the disciples too? I think not. You’re really grasping for straws.

    I don’t believe the story of the hajj, not because it’s not written in the Bible, but because it’s not written in any source I am aware of within a thousand years of when it would have happened. Abraham lived over 2000 years before the founding of Islam. It is possible it happened, but I don’t think it is likely to be any more than a legend.

    While my answer to your hypothetical example of Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa is bold, it is also true. There is no sin too great for God’s forgiveness. This is not to encourage an abundance of sin, but rather for people to know that nothing they do can ever separate them from the love and grace of God. Does that mean some people who did terrible things will be in Heaven? Yes it does. But sin is not measured by God on a scale. One sin is enough to merit us eternal separation in Hell, but one confession and one name, the name of Jesus Christ, is enough to wash away any and every sin.

    You said: “…if that’s God’s message, then don’t blame anyone if they act with great mischief…”

    This is true, but there are a couple problems with this. The New Testament specifically warns against this notion, and man does not know when his end will come. While he may be able to turn and repent before it’s too late, he could also die unexpectedly.

    On the subject of the Qu’ran being transmitted without error, I will concede that it may have been copied well (although I couldn’t personally say I’ve read much on this). I don’t think you can ignore the fact that there were several copies burned when the Qu’ran was compiled to keep from having discrepancies. I’m still not convinced the human memory of oral tradition is as reliable a method of transmission. Consider what would happen if you cut out one single generation and had no written copies. Everything would be lost! While it is quite an accomplishment to memorize the whole Qu’ran consider that attempting to memorize the Bible, or even the New Testament, would be a far more difficult task.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    February 16, 2008 at 12:54 am

  33. Andrew

    Are you saying that atonement is only possible for those who repent before they die? Is this the Christian position on salvation?

    You seem to suggest that repentance is a precondition to attaining forgiveness. Here is what you wrote “The New Testament specifically warns against this notion, and man does not know when his end will come. While he may be able to turn and repent before it’s too late, he could also die unexpectedly.”

    In other words if you do not repent, then “It can be too late”.

    Is not repentance the act of refraining from sin, feeling of regret at committing sin, and being righteous?

    You see, all these acts are work, combined with faith, and this is exactly the Islamic position on God’s forgiveness. It is a favour and a Grace, which only believers can realise. It is more likely to be bestowed on those who are righteous, but it is not exclusive to them, as God can bestow his redemption and forgiveness on anyone, the only people excluded from God’s favour in the Last Day are those who ascribe partners to God in his supremacy and those who deny God altogether and disbelieve his Messengers.

    The Quran was transmitted as an oral AND written text, the primacy being for the oral transmission.

    To elaborate, Muslims had the written text as compiled by the companions headed by Zaid son of Thabit during the reign of Abu Baker, the first successor to the prophet (ص). Abu Bakr died 2 years after the death of the prophet (ص). Osman, the third successor to the prophet made copies of the compiled text and sent them to the different regions of the expanding Islamic land. Osman reign started only 12 years after the death of the prophet.

    The orally transmitted Quran had to conform to the written text. This had the effect of preserving elements of the text like vowels, dots and accents which were not used in writen Arabic at the time.

    The omission of vowels and accents from written text was the norm for Arabic and also for Hebrew, which followed the Arabs in introducing them to the Hebrew Bible around the 8th century.

    Rasheed

    February 18, 2008 at 3:37 pm

  34. Rasheed,

    Yes, I’m saying the atonement is only possible for those who repent before they die. I say that with the understanding that this only applies to those living post-crucifixion.

    Repentance is the act of recognizing sinfulness and our inability on our own to do anything about it. It doesn’t include refraining from sin, although that should follow. You must understand there is the act of repentance as it pertains to salvation at a single moment, and the continual act of repentance, since we do not become perfect.

    Repentance is not considered a “work” in regards to salvation. Repentance is a recognition that not a single work we could offer to God would be worthy. To be saved, we must repent (within our lifetime) and begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. We then understand that Jesus’ sacrifice is the only way we can be saved.

    Jesus says in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life (salvation): that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

    There is no work involved in this salvation. The works follow from a relationship where the nature of Christ indwells the believer by the Holy Spirit.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    February 18, 2008 at 11:45 pm

  35. Andrew

    So Abdo was right when he says you can do as you please sure in the knowledge that you are saved as long as you acknowledge that what you do is wrong. You can steal, kill and do every sin known to man, and continue doing it and just acknowledge your sinful way and be saved.

    Don’t you see that the in the verse you quoted (John 17:3), Jesus is making a clear distinction between himself and God? Jesus is clearly saying he was sent by God, thus, he is subject to the will of God.

    Rasheed

    February 19, 2008 at 2:47 am

  36. Rasheed,

    There is in no way an encouragement to do as you please and expect salvation. The thing is, if you’re doing what you please, you may not have really trusted Christ for salvation. We are not talking about a blanket license to sin here as you seem to suggest.

    Consider the example of David. He was a murderer and an adulterer. He repented and turned back to God afterward. This is not to say we should do whatever we want, but that even when we sin, it is never too late to turn back to God.

    Jesus was sent by God and followed God’s will. He chose to follow. There is a distinction between the Father and the Son, but that does not mean they are fully separate. The Son is the incarnation of the Father; visible to mankind. The Father cannot be seen by man.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    February 19, 2008 at 5:52 am

  37. Andews,

    When we look at Judaism’s reaction to Christ we find it was a mixture of two reactions on two levels: a) reaction of the average Jew, and b) reaction of the Jewish leaders. While average Jews believed in Jesus and accepted him as the Messiah, Jewish leaders, on the other hand, rejected him and decided to get rid of him. Average Jews believed in Jesus and accepted him because they saw and heard his miracles by themselves. With the aid and power of the marvelous miracles which Jesus was given by God, he had no trouble gathering followers everywhere he went. Regardless of what the average Jew’s conception of what the Messiah would have to be (and here I wish to second what Rasheed said that ‘Messiah’ only means ‘anointed one’ and it could involve kings, prophets, holy men, etc.), it was clear to all those who believed in Jesus that Jesus was the Messiah. Rejection to Jesus came not from the Jewish people but rather from the Jewish leaders. The reason I believe why the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus is very simple: his reform plan meant that those leaders will be the first to go. That is, in order for the Messiah to really complete his mission, the first thing that had to be changed was the Jewish leadership of that time. At the essence of his mission as a Messiah, he was a reformer. And to the Jewish leader’s surprise he started with them, not the Roman Empire (where any Jew at that time would normally direct his antagonism). This, in my view, explains why their opposition to him aimed at diverting the issue from its true nature where Jesus, as the Jewish Messiah, is trying to reform the affairs of the Jewish people, into a case in which Jesus is portrayed as a threat to the Roman Empire by claiming he were King of the Jews, etc.

    In short, Jesus was largely accepted by the Jewish people as the Messiah, but rejected by their leaders because he was an existential threat to them. Were it not for the Jewish leaders, all Jews would have followed Jesus and accepted him as the Messiah. Only after Jesus’ departure that the new doctrine of Christianity starts to emerge. Jesus’ divinity, the crucifixion as sacrifice for human sin, the trinity, etc., are all new doctrine based on later interpretations of the last events of Jesus’ life, later interpretations of Jesus’ teachings, and later interpretations of the OT scriptures. These issues were the subject of debate among the generation following his departure, not between him and the Jewish leaders! As a matter of fact, the process by which NT scriptures were transmitted (and translated) leaves obvious traces of such debates and how some passages were written and/or translated in a way to support the new doctrines against their opposition.
    Therefore, when you say “If Jews as a whole embraced Christ as Messiah, there would be no Judaism,” I say, on the contrary, that if Jews as a whole embraced Christ as Messiah, there would be no Christianity; there will be “reformed Judaism”.

    عبده

    February 19, 2008 at 6:42 am

  38. Andrew,

    You say “Blood sacrifice was the basis of God’s religion even prior to Judaism (see Gen. 4:3-5).” It is very interesting that you brought mention of Gen 4:3-5 for two reasons: a) it is the only place where blood is involved and therefore more evidence is required to establish your point about blood sacrifice being “the basis of God’s religion”, and b) which is more important, this specific passage shows that in fact fruits were also used for offering by Abel. So, there seems to be one more “basis” for God’s religion. As a matter of fact Gen. 4:3-5 does not talk about sacrifice in the sense you take it to mean. Neither the animal nor the fruit was offered as a sacrifice for sin! The original Hebrew word used for the word “offering” is “minchah”, and the Arabic Bible uses the Arabic word “قربان” which is also the same Arabic word used by Allah in the Quran in its narration of the same story. And by the way, the word “minchah” is almost identical to another Arabic word “منحة” which means exactly the same thing. None of these words imply that the offering was made to redeem for sin. The offering was basically a symbol of obedience and loyalty to God Almighty, and God did not dictate what sort of offering it had to be. The most important thing is that it be sincere; i.e. that it is backed up by good acts (“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door…”). Interestingly enough, the passage indicates that it was actually “sin” itself that prevented the offering from being accepted by God. It does not make sense for God to tell Cain that the reason his sacrifice was rejected is that he had sins crouching at his door, when the sacrifice was made to redeem for sin in the first place! So it is like two persons want to apologize to me for something bad they did to me, and each one of them brings me a gift; I accept the gift and apology from one of them, but not from the other.. And when the other asks me why you did not accept my apology I say to him I did not accept your gift and apology because of what you did to me! Does that make any sense? Why did I accept the apology and gift from the first person, then?!!!

    Therefore the way this passage should be understood is that Abel and Cain were not offering sacrifice for sin, they were simply making an offering to show loyalty and obedience to God Almighty. God accepts our loyalty but first we have to cleanse our sins. We cleanse our sins by repentance and by stopping those sins.

    That is the message of Gen. 4:3-5, and it can in no way be understood to mean that blood sacrifice was the basis of God’s religion as you say. Furthermore, in Judaism only a few sins required animal sacrifice. According to the Torah, forgiveness for an intentional sin could only be atoned for through repentance, not through an animal sacrifice (Psalms 32:5, 51:16-19). Repentance is for one to recognize his sin, turn to God for forgiveness, and refrain from going back to that sin. Animal sacrifices were prescribed in the Torah for only unintentional sins (Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:5, 15 and Numbers 15:30). The one exception was when an individual who was accused of theft swore falsely in an effort to gain acquittal (Leviticus 5:24-26).

    You say “Islam attempts to make atonement for sin, and where there is personal atonement, the effect of grace is negated.” I say no, atonement does not negate the effect or need for grace. Atonement for sin is required in order to be accepted by God and to be eligible for the next level of His grace; that is Heaven. Cain’s sins were the obstacle between him and God. And instead of cleaning his sins, he committed even more sin by killing his brother Abel, which deserved him more rejection from God (“And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” Gen. 4:11-12).

    عبده

    February 19, 2008 at 6:43 am

  39. Andrew,

    I did not talk about “lost Christians”. I talked about the early generation of Christ followers who were being persecuted. I cannot describe them as Christians because Christianity is what evolved after they were gone. We don’t know what the religion would have looked like or have been called had these followers remained. But we know very well that the majority had vanished under Roman-Jewish persecution. We also know that a wide range of theological difference existed among them. We know that the way Jesus departed this world was not conceivable to most of them, and major differences of opinion emerged among them regarding the nature of Jesus and his message. We know that many followers fled to surrounding areas and there theologies may have not been part of the debate, or their theologies may have been branded as apocryphal or heretical.

    عبده

    February 19, 2008 at 6:43 am

  40. Andrew,

    As for Paul and the Gospels, it is really strange that you are expecting me to show you a point which Paul disagreed with the Gospels!! This is really funny because that’s exactly my point: Paul does not disagree with the Gospels simply because he and the Gospel writers belong to the same school of thought.

    عبده

    February 19, 2008 at 6:43 am

  41. Andrew,

    You say “I don’t believe the story of the hadj, not because it’s not written in the Bible, but because it’s not written in any source I am aware of within a thousand years of when it would have happened.” You sound as if you want us to believe that if you found the story written in any such source you would right away believe it! I honestly doubt this! You are asking for a written account of the story when you are fully aware that such an account would very unlikely ever exist, and I explained to you why it is almost impossible to find a written account (that Arabic history before Islam is mainly oral not written).

    عبده

    February 19, 2008 at 6:43 am

  42. Andrew,

    You say “The New Testament specifically warns against this notion, and man does not know when his end will come.” I say why would any believer in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross ever care about what the NT warns about when you have given believers a blank check? If I have a blank check, do you think I would care whether I will die expectedly or unexpectedly?!! I will care about one thing only: to enjoy all the pleasure I can get from this life and never care at all about what other people think of me. Who are they to tell me what to do and what not to do when I have insurance from God Lord of the Heavens and Earth, as you propose? I will have all my sins covered up for me, as you propose. I shall enjoy all the pleasures of this world and when I die I will even enjoy the greater pleasures of Heaven. I am God’s son and he loves me, isn’t that right? As a matter of fact, such a person who has the guarantees which you are speaking of should wish to die the sooner the better because death will bring him even greater joy and pleasure and take him away from the sufferings and miseries of this world.

    عبده

    February 19, 2008 at 6:43 am

  43. Andrew,

    As for the Quran and its transmittal, please tell me more about the “several copies burned when the Quran was compiled to keep from having discrepancies.” What sort of discrepancies are you referring to? And which single generation was cut off from the transmittal of the Quran? Transmission of the Quran (both orally as well as in writing) started during Mohamed’s life as it was being revealed on him. So which generation are you referring to?

    عبده

    February 19, 2008 at 6:44 am

  44. […] Posts: On Jewish Christianity, Islam and the Gentiles Thoughts on The Crucifixion Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)St. Paul and The Mahdi « Hard QuestionsWhat […]

  45. Hi Rasheed

    I am interested in the history of the early church and how corruption distorted the original teachings of jesus. I am a christian who can not understand the basis of the Trinity as there is only one God. It is very sad that the Ebonites( the original followers of Jesus) were treated as heretics. I have read many books on this subject and I can not believe the dark history of the church. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Denise Honeybrook
    Sydeny Australia

    denise honeybrook

    May 31, 2008 at 9:25 am

  46. Denise,

    The Trinity is a biblically based doctrine that came about through the need for the church to understand the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are many good books you can read, but I would go to a better source to ask. Rasheed could tell you about early Islam, but if you want information about the early church, I would suggest contacting a seminary professor at a solid, evangelical seminary. There are several in the US… Southwestern, Southeastern, Beeson, Southern Baptist (SBTS), Trinity, Dallas Theological (DTS), etc. If you were looking for advice on how to fix your car would you go to a mechanic or a lawyer?

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    P.S. Don’s link is going to steer you in the wrong direction. The apostasy of the LDS church is far more severe than anything in evangelical Christianity. Sorry Don.

    Andrew

    June 2, 2008 at 5:25 am

  47. Hi Denise

    Welcome to my blog, and thank you for your comment. I obviously share your views on the unity of God, and I believe too that the true message of Jesus was corrupted.

    I am sure that you did not reach your views through reading my blog, and I trust that you can discuss freely, a variety of opinions including those proposed by Don, myself, and of course the official church view(s)on the trinity and history of Christianity or Islam.

    My own take on the subject is that, If you remove the trinitarian theory from Christianity, you will discover that the religion that God revealed to humanity has always been the same: Worship God alone, follow his messengers, and work for your hereafter.

    Rasheed

    Rasheed

    June 2, 2008 at 1:06 pm

  48. Christians believe in the unity of God. We also believe in the Trinity. Muslims understand the Trinity as a separation (Tritheism), but Christians understand it as three parts of the same whole -similar to a head, torso, and legs being part of the same body. These parts have separate functions, but all must work in relation to one another.

    Some good articles to read might be:
    http://www.carm.org/heresy/monarchianism.htm
    http://www.carm.org/heresy/tritheism.htm
    http://www.carm.org/heresy/modalism.htm

    The above articles discuss different understandings of the Trinity that are not what the Bible teaches. There are other large differences between Islam and Christianity, especially when it comes to understanding man’s condition, salvation, and the meaning of grace.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    June 2, 2008 at 9:34 pm

  49. Throughout history, there were so many different ways the Trinity has been understood and explained by different Christian theologians. Each party accusing its opponents of being heretics.

    A great deal of ‘Guesswork’ need to be applied in order to explain the trinity. It is a mystery that no one ever seemed to have understood.

    Each explanation raises more questions than it answers.

    see my post: My difficulties with the trinity concept

    Rasheed

    Rasheed

    June 3, 2008 at 12:49 pm

  50. To say that there have been different ways of understanding it implies that there is not one true way to understand the Trinity. There is one true way to understand it, which is why those who have challenged the doctrine have been forced out of the church. I daresay your difficulties with the Trinity come from the fact that you would be classified as a Tritheist, which is not Trinitarian at all. I will read your post though and see if I can’t aid your understanding. A thorough understanding of the Trinity might just change your mind!

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    June 4, 2008 at 5:00 am

  51. Andrew,

    Why do evangelicals consistently attempt to deny people the opportunity to find out for themselves what is true? Why would you deny Denise the opportunity to research her question from the point of view of an LDS scholar and apostle? Is it better she get her information on our beliefs from apostate mormons or anti-mormon members of other faiths? If it’s not true, she’ll figure it out. If it is true, isn’t that what we should be searching for? Why are evangelicals so threatened? Do they really believe that the children of men are so stupid that they can’t find out the truth for themselves? Or perhaps you consider yourself an expert on our beliefs, above and beyond our own scholars and leaders.

    Don

    June 4, 2008 at 9:33 pm

  52. Don,

    There is little truth to be found in the LDS church. I’m not denying anyone the “opportunity”. I’m just telling the truth. I don’t send people down dead end streets. It’s not that evangelicals are “threatened” by Mormons, but we are called to expose what is not true and Mormonism has strayed far from biblical truth.

    Have your own scholars and leaders told the truth about the Book of Abraham yet? I don’t trust them to tell the truth if they won’t even allow for the fact that Joseph Smith’s translation of the so-called “Book of Abraham” was completely fictitious and fabricated. This single fact calls everything else about Joseph Smith and his religion into question.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    June 5, 2008 at 5:06 pm

  53. Andrew,

    Your last post is akin to saying “liar, liar, pants on fire”. It is difficult for me to take your contributions seriously. However, I am wondering, in your opinion, what little truth does mormonism possess? Is there any belief(s) that we have in common? Our doctrine is expressed best by The Book of Mormon, where the prophet Nephi writes,

    “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

    Can we at least agree upon this?

    Don

    June 5, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  54. Don,

    My post was nowhere near akin to “liar, liar, pants on fire.” The fact is, Joseph Smith falsely labeled and translated an entire book that was foundational to Mormon beliefs. What else did he lie about?

    The issue is not about talking about, rejoicing in, preaching, or prophesying of Christ. The issue is deeper than that. It is, when we speak of Jesus Christ, to whom are we referring? Is He the Son of God? Is He God? What part does He play in the Trinity? Unless we can agree on these foundational issues, we don’t talk of, rejoice in, preach, or prophesy of the same Christ.

    Christ spoke many times of other Christs or anti-Christs. These don’t have to be physical people. There are many anti-Christs even among so-called Christianity. When Rasheed speaks of Christ or when Jon Dominic Crossan speaks of Jesus, they are not referring to the same Jesus of the Bible. They are referring to a Jesus who did not die or was not raised from the dead… who performed no literal miracles… or who was a prophet only and not the Son of God and God himself.

    You may or may not be familiar with the Evangelicals and Catholics Together or the Gospel of Salvation documents signed by leaders of the evangelical and Catholic churches. They thought that after 500 years of separation they were finally agreeing on the gospel, but the Catholic church knew the document was vague enough to not give any ground while leading hopeful evangelicals to believe they were suddenly on the same page in what was only a long misunderstanding.

    The truth of the matter is, while there may be things Mormonism and evangelical Christianity hold in common, our common ground is not enough to walk together on. Your gospel is not the same and is no gospel at all. I know this may sound harsh and a scathing commentary on the Mormon faith, but I hope you understand I am in no way personally attacking you. It is my responsibility to not only avoid error in my own right, but also to be on my guard against it and expose darkness and lies to the light of truth. I wish you well and hope you may come to know the fullness of Christ in the faith of the disciples and apostles.

    Andrew

    http://seekingtheface.wordpress.com

    Andrew

    June 6, 2008 at 5:37 am

  55. What does the Koran say about the Torah and Gospel

    http://www.conflictingviews.com/religion/all-religions/koran-says-torah-gospel-not-corrupted-3324.html

    Real Islam is only Koran

    Koranist

    February 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

  56. […] by Rasheed Gadir […]


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