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Misconceptions

Points to be considered


The point of view which the Qur’an 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:

  1. The Qur’an 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’an as such. However, the history of the Qur’an, 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’an 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’an 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 this allegation.
  2. 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’s mission and Muhammad’s mission; the Christians reject Muhammad’s mission; whereas the Muslims accept them all, but reject incorrect historical interpretations and human elements in these missions.
  3. Because of the Qur’an, Muslims love and respect Jesus as they love and respect the Prophet Muhammad. Moreover, the Qur’an reports some of Jesus’s miracles which are not reported in the present gospel. For example, the Qur’an tells that Jesus spoke in the cradle and was able to tell people what they ate or treasured in their houses, to mention just a few.
  4. 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.”
  5. The choice of the present four gospels was imposed in the conference of Nicea 325 C.E. 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’s 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’an.
  6. 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, and Jehova Witnesses who do not worship Jesus as God.
  7. 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 baseless is Rudolf Augustein in his book Jesus Son of Man, (published in Germany 1972 and translated into English 1977).
  8. The problem with present Christianity is the personality of Jesus which is completely misunderstood. Jesus’ nature, mission and claimed death and resurrection, are all challenged by studies in the field. One of those is a book entitled The Myth of God Incarnate which appeared 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 theologians is that unless one takes Jesus as God Incarnate one won’t be able to understand Jesus’ 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 a tremendous impact on people and none of them claimed that he was God or a son of God.
  9. 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 (Math. 12:29) and many others.
  10. 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 Chapter 5 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 usage would never have allowed literal sense even though such an expression would be interpreted literally in the Hellenistic world 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 son in reference to Jesus and servant in reference to others in some translations of the Bible (Mufassir, P. 15).
  • 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 influenced by many factors which made its view of Christianity not only changeable but, by and large, contradict the early forms of Christianity.

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