Points to be considered (Islam vs Christianity) From The Truth about Jesus
After reading this presentation (untyped section before this one) a believing Christian might say ‘This is what the Muslims, whom we always considered as heathens or infidels, say about Jesus’. But the point of view which the Qur’aan presents deserves serious consideration, to say the least, by those who are really concerned about God, faith and even Christianity itself for the following reasons:
- The Qur’aan is the last version of God’s revelation and what it says is the ultimate truth. This might not mean much for those who do not believe in the Qur’aan as such. However, the history of the Qur’aan, modern textual criticism and scientific research of the content of this scripture leave no doubt about the truth it contains. The frequently made statements that the Qur’aan is the word of Muhammad who copied his information from Jewish and Christian sources is made by people who do not know the history of the world, the Qur’aan or Muhammad. The first Arabic translation of the Bible appeared two centuries AFTER Muhammad’s mission. If we add to this Muhammad’s illiteracy and the scarcity of religious books in any language outside churches and temples in the sixth century we can understand the absurdity of these allegations.
- The oneness and universality of God’s message requires that people accept all the messengers of God. Rejecting one of them amounts to rejecting them all. The Jews reject Jesus’ mission and Muhammad’s mission; the Christian reject Muhammad’s mission; whereas the Muslims accept them all, but reject incorrect historical interpretations and human elements in these missions.
- Because of the Qur’aan, Muslims love and respect Jesus as they love and respect the Prophet Muhammad. Moreover, the Qur’aan reports some of Jesus’ miracles which are not reported in the present gospel. For example, the Qur’aan tells us that Jesus spoke in the cradle and was able to tell people what they ate or treasured in their houses, to mention a few.
- It is common knowledge that the divinity of Jesus was introduced by Saint Paul and his followers and was established on the dead bodies of millions of Christians through history which evoked the Castillo’s well known remark, ‘To burn a man is not to prove a doctrine’.
- The choice of the present four gospels was imposed in the conference of Nicea 325 CE under the auspices of the pagan Emperor Constantine for political purposes. Literally hundreds of gospels and religious writings were considered apocrypha i.e. books of doubtful authenticity. Some of those books were written by Jesus’ disciples. If they were not more authentic than the four gospels they were of equal authenticity. Some of them still are available such as the GOSPEL OF BARNABAS and the SHEPHERD OF HERMAS which agree with the Qur’aan.
- The Unitarian concept and the humanness of Jesus is not only held by Muslims but also by Jews and by some early groups of Christianity such as the EBIONITES, the CERINTHIANS, the BASILIDIANS, the CAPOCRATIANS and the HYPISISTARIANS to name several early sects. The Arians, Paulicians and Goths also accepted Jesus as a Prophet of God. Even in the modern age there are churches in Asia, in Africa, the Unitarian church, The Truth about Jesus Dr. Maneh al-Johani Points to be considered (Islam vs Christianity) From The Truth about Jesus and Jehovah Witnesses who do not worship Jesus as God.
- Most serious studies of the Bible have shown that it contains a large portion of additions which neither Jesus nor the writers of the gospels said. The church, as Heinz Zahrnt said, ‘PUT WORDS INTO THE MOUTH OF JESUS WHICH HE NEVER SPOKE AND ATTRIBUTED ACTIONS TO HIM WHICH HE NEVER PERFORMED‘. Those conclusions were arrived at by some members of the church. However, they are kept secret or available only to the specialists. One of those who has shown that most of what the church says about Jesus is Rudolf Augestein in his book JESUS SON OF MAN (published in Germany in 1972 and translated into English in 1977).
- The problem with present Christianity is the personality of Jesus which is completely misunderstood. Jesus’s nature, mission and claimed death are resurrection, are all challenged by studies in the field. One of those is a book entitles, THE MYTH OF GOD INCARNATE which appeared in 1977 (edited by John Hick) and written by seven theologian scholars in England. Their conclusion is that Jesus was ‘A MAN APPROVED BY GOD, FOR SPECIAL ROLE WITHIN THE DIVINE PURPOSE, AND. THE LATER CONCEPTION OF HIM AS GOD INCARNATE IS A MYTHOLOGICAL OR POETIC WAY OF EXPRESSING HIS SIGNIFICANCE FOR US‘. The best George Carey could say in his attempt to refute the findings of those theologian is that unless one takes Jesus as God incarnate one wont be able to understand Jesus’s mission or explain its impact on people. This definitely is a very weak argument because all great prophets such as Abraham, Moses and Muhammad have had tremendous impact on people and none of them claimed that he was God or a son of God.
- The concept of the Trinity is not, of course, available even in the present Bible. There are statements which negate it such as ‘The Lord our God is one Lord (Matthew 12:29) and many others.
- It is worth noting that Jesus never claims divinity even in the present text of the Bible. The expression ‘SON OF GOD‘ cannot be said to have come from Jesus himself. Hasting in the DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE says, ‘WHETHER Jesus USED IT OF HIMSELF IS DOUBTFUL‘. In my reading of the Bible, I found only two instances in John Chapter5 and 11 where Jesus uses ‘son of God’ to refer to himself. Other instances were used by others. Even those are very limited. However, even if the title ‘son of God’ was used by Jesus himself one should remember the following points:
- As a biblical scholar said, ‘Semitic language would never have been allowed literal sense even though such an expression would be interpreted literally in the Hellenistic word of Jesus followers’.
- The New Testament Greek words used for ‘SON’ are PIAS and PAIDA, which means ‘servant’ or ‘son in the sense of servant’, are translated as ‘son’ in reference to Jesus and ‘servant’ in reference to others in some translations of the Bible (Mufassir, p15).
- The title ‘son of man’ which is a self designation of Jesus and occurs 81 times in the gospels is the clearest description and emphasis by Jesus on his humanity. The classical interpretation given to this title is that it is used to emphasize the human side of Jesus. Now the question which suggests itself is: Do contemporary Christians emphasize this aspect of Jesus?
THE POPE CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE
The traditional Biblical account of Jesus’ crucifixion is that he was arrested and crucified by the orders and plans of the chief priest and Jewish elders. This account was denied in the 1960’s by the highest Catholic Christian authority, the Pope. He issued a statement in which he said the Jews had nothing to do with Jesus’ crucifixion. This definitely does contradict the Biblical account. You might say: This is a political decree. This agrees with what Muslims are saying: the church had introduced many elements into Christianity and was influences by many factors which made its view of Christianity not only changeable but, by and large, contradict the early forms of Christianity.
EVIDENCES FOR THE QUR’AANIC ACCOUNT
This implicit assumption is one of the causes of hesitation and unwillingness of many people to accept the Qur’aanic view of Jesus. This is in spite of the fact that this point of view is supported by:
- The early history of Christianity which continued for three decades after Jesus’s disappearance as a sect within Judaism.
- The practise of many Christian sects and scholars throughout the history of Christianity.
- The findings of many Biblical scholars and scientific research which was applied to the Bible.
- The instinct of many people (some of whom think they are Christians) who believe in the One God, but can’t accept Jesus as God or the Son of God. It is worth nothing that the main differences between the Qur’aanic account and what modern research and scholars have found is that the Qur’aan said what it says now about Jesus and his mission fourteen centuries ago and never changed its stand.
REASONS HOLDING PEOPLE FROM ISLAM
Some of the reasons which might account for the rejection of the Qur’aan is account include:
- The time honoured bias against Islam which was partly the product of the Crusades and partly of the Arab Israeli conflict in the Middle East.
- Confusion. Man people although they do not accept Christianity, do not know where the truth is.
- Social pressure and Academic reputation. Many people were afraid to accept Islam because they felt they would be mocked, alienated from their relatives and peers if they openly criticised Christianity and accepted Islam. At the academic level, especially among orientalists, if one writes favourably about Islam and the Qur’aan nobody will review his work, quote from it or even consider it a scholarly work. He would have been destroyed professionally. The Washington Post (January 5th 1978) reported that university of Richmond Professor, Dr Robert Alley lost the chairmanship of the Department of Religion there because he holds the view that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God. After considerable research into newly found ancient documents, Dr Alley concluded:
“The (Bible) passages where Jesus talks about the son of God are later additions…what the church said about him. Such a claim of deity for himself would not have been consistent with his entire lifestyle as we can reconstruct. For the first three decades after Jesus’ death Christianity continued as a sect within Judaism. The first three decades of its existence of the church were within the synagogue. That would have been beyond belief if they (the followers) had boldly proclaimed the deity of Jesus”