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yusufar

The Gospel Of Paul

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[i tried to start this topic in the "Refuting Non-Muslims" Section but could not. Perhaps the moderators would be so kind as to move it there]

 

Paul's Different Gospel 1

With the discovery of "The Gospel of Judas", perhaps it is time we had a look at other gospels as well. There were literally hundreds of gospels available before the Nicene Council of 325 AD convened by Constantine to work out differences between the two main Christian movements at the time, those who adhered to the Athanasian Creed ("Trinitarian") and the Arian Creed ("Unitarian", and which believed that Jesus (pbuh) was a human being).

 

Constantine for political reasons sided with the Trinitarians and a successful state-sponsored pogrom was then launched by the Trinitarians to eliminate the Unitarians and their "heretic" gospels. Needless to say, most of these gospels were destroyed and the Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John became the orthodoxy of present-day Trinitarian Christianity (though not of all).

 

It is therefore important to see what Paul, widely regarded as the founder of "Trinitarian Christianity" had to say, although Paul himself never actually formally set out the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine was also not set out in the 4 main gospels, except by extrapolation from certain of their verses (some of which were later proven false and denounced as "pious forgeries", whether most Christians today accept it or not).

 

It will at once be obvious that Paul taught a different gospel from that of Jesus' (pbuh) immediate disciples and followers, even from his own words. So who should be believed?

 

Paul, the apostle who never knew or met Jesus, has claimed many things about the Gospel which he taught. Let us examine his claims objectively.

 

He claimed that the "super-apostles" (he does not say exactly who they are) whom he criticized preached a Jesus other than the Jesus he preached, and that his congregation received (from them) a different spirit other than the one they received (from him) and that they also received a different gospel from the one which they accepted (from him) (he never said which one exactly but there is evidence to surmise that it was a figment of his own feverish imagination) (2 Corinthians 11:4-5).

 

Who were these "super-apostles"? Although Paul is not specific about them, yet we know from his own words that like him they were also Hebrews, israelites, Abraham's descendants and "servants of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:22-23).

 

In all likelihood they were the original apostles of Jesus. The fact that Paul calls them "super-apostles" probably means that they could be seen as having a higher status than him among the "servants of Christ" (but nevertheless he did not regard himself as inferior to them).

 

This of course contradicts what he said in 1 Corinthians 15:9, where he admitted that he was the least of the apostles and did not even deserve to be called an apostle, while in the same breath claiming that he worked harder than all of them ("yet not him, but the grace of God that was with him"). Paul was of course a bundle of contradictions.

 

Paul also calls them "false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ". He also said that it was no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

 

What is surprising here is that Paul has forgotten his own "vision" of "a light from heaven" which "flashed around him" (Acts 9:3). It is apparent that he did not actually see anything in this vision but only heard what purported to be the voice of Jesus. The Acts makes it clear that Paul was temporarily blinded by this light. He probably had an epileptic fit, if it wasn't Satan himself who caused this "vision".

 

In all his "visions" of "Jesus" and "revelations" from him, it is also apparent from the internal evidence that Paul never actually saw Jesus. This is quite important.

 

We all know that Jesus had long hair (or we assume from the images we normally associate with him that he did - I stand to be corrected on this). Paul apparently was unaware of this, as he had no qualms about saying that the very nature of things taught that if a man had long hair, it was a disgrace to him. (1 Corinthians 11:14).

 

Yet Paul also claimed that the "gospel" he preached was not something that man made up, that he did not receive it from any man, nor was he taught it, but rather he received it by revelation from "Jesus Christ" himself. (Galatians 1:11-12).

 

This (together with his complete and blatant disregard for the Mosaic law) appears to be the major cause of the differences between him and the "super-apostles".

 

His congregation were aware of his claims and demanded proof that Christ was speaking through him. (2 Corinthians 13:3). Why would they have needed such proof, unless the other apostles were preaching a different Jesus?

 

Paul, after receiving his revelations of the gospel direct from Jesus (pbuh) (by this time already in Heaven), did not think it necessary to consult any man or go to see the apostles in Jerusalem. By his own admission, he went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus and only after three years did he go to Jerusalem to "acquaint" himself with the apostles, staying a mere 15 days with Peter. He did not see any of the other apostles, except for James. (Galatians 1:16-19).

 

It was only 14 years later that he went to Jerusalem again (to set before those who appeared to be the "leaders" the gospel that he preached among the Gentiles. (Galatians 2:1-2). Paul therefore appears to have developed a different gospel from that of the apostles and was adamant in defending it.

 

If Paul is to be believed (and we shall see why this may not be so), those who "seemed to be important" (which whatever they were didn't make any difference to him) didn't add anything to his message. Here again we have Paul apparently looking down on the other apostles, rather strange considering that they were the original disciples of Jesus (pbuh).

 

This account by Paul himself is perhaps also not consistent with the account found in the Acts, where it appears he went to Jerusalem after only a matter of (many) days in Damascus. (See Acts 9:19-30).

 

At the beginning of Galatians (1:1 and 6-7), he (calling himself "an apostle, sent not from men nor by man" - thereby distancing himself from the other apostles again) expressed his astonishment that his congregation are turning towards a "different gospel" which he called "really no gospel at all".

 

Apparently, "some people" (again he doesn't clearly say who) were perverting "the gospel of Christ".

 

By this time it is apparent that Paul had thrown all caution to the wind and burned all his bridges, as he goes on to say that even if he (himself) or an angel from heaven were to preach a gospel other than the one he had already preached to them, he would be "eternally condemned". (Galatians 1:8). This is clearly an attempt to take the wind out of the sails of anyone whose teachings of Jesus contradicted that of Paul's. Who could that possibly be, so early in the days of "Christianity"?

 

When Paul opposes Peter "to his face" it becomes very apparent what differences in teaching there were between Paul and the other apostles. Paul makes Peter appear to be a man unsure of himself (Peter eats with the Gentiles but withdraws from them when certain men who came from James arrive). Paul calls them "the circumcision group" and said that Peter was afraid of them. He calls this "hypocrisy" which the other Jews joined in and by which even Barnabas was led "astray". (Galatians 2:11-13).

 

The question here of course is who was leading whom "astray", Paul or the other apostles?

 

Jesus (pbuh) had not authorized nor taught the other apostles to do away with circumcision, and they still held fast to this Jewish "custom", a custom which in fact had all the weight of law. Paul however had taught otherwise, and was prepared to do away with such Jewish "customs" and even the law, as he makes clear (probably in order to make it easier for him to convert the Gentiles to his teachings of "Christ").

 

Paul had by this time developed a theology based on "faith in Jesus Christ" as opposed to one based on "observing the law". As he said, "if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:14-21).

 

It is also at once apparent that the other apostles were teaching that righteousness could be gained through the law (or rather through observance of it).

 

Doing away with the law had by then become a central theme in Paul's gospel, one apparently not supported by the other apostles whom Paul had to take upon himself to remind of the "truth of the gospel" - his own interpretation or concoction. [One of course may doubt that Paul knew better than them].

 

Peter and the men who came from James were apparently silenced by Paul's diatribe, since he does not record their response (or perhaps Paul just did not wish to have their response on the record, since it would not have served his purpose - his purpose being to establish the truth of his teachings and his gospel rather than theirs).

 

Bearing in mind that the context of Letter to the Galatians is Paul's response to the "perversion of the gospel" which he had preached to them, it is also apparent that the "different" gospel did not preach that Christ had been crucified, since Paul goes on next to defend his clear portrayal "before their very eyes" that Jesus Christ had been crucified.

 

He asked them whether they received the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what they heard (from him, presumably). In context, it would appear that in Paul's gospel observance of the law was akin to denial of the crucifixion of Jesus. (Galatians 3:1-5).

 

An internal inconsistency also becomes apparent in Paul's line of thought (and teaching) when he tries to rely on the Scriptures (the Old Testament) to justify his denial of the law.

 

He said (referring to Deuteronomy 27:26): "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law"."

 

This Scriptural reference in fact flatly contradicts the point Paul was trying to make, but he does not appear to realise this! What it says of course is NOT that if you continue to observe the law you are under a curse, but rather if you do not continue to observe the law you are under a curse.

 

[Just as a matter of interest, the actual words (NIV) are: "Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out"].

 

Paul also tried to show by (partially) quoting Habakkuk 2:4 that "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." (Galatians 3:11) and also (quoting Leviticus 18:5) that "The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." (Galatians 3:12).

 

In my (humble) opinion he merely succeeds in revealing either another facet of his internal inconsistency, an ignorance or deliberate misinterpretation, of Scripture.

 

This becomes all too apparent when one reads Habakkuk 2:4 completely and in its full context [i am not setting the full context out - those who are interested may read it for themselves]: "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright - but the righteous will live by his faith - ...". This appears to be a parody of "faith" of the (purportedly) "righteous" rather than a justification for it.

 

Leviticus 18:5 (NIV) on the other hand states: "Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD." This sounds more like a justification for the law rather than a refutal of it, and a sounder basis for faith (though perhaps not of the kind which Paul envisaged and preached - in his different gospel).

 

Paul of course had to persist no matter how inconsistent he became, since he had already burned his bridges...

 

To the extent that he is prepared even to say that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13) and referring to another Scriptural quote: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree". (Deuteronomy 21:23).

 

Perhaps it may be that God wanted to curse Himself by allowing Himself (His "Son") to be hung on a tree, but we would be entitled to doubt the veracity of such a claim as nothing more than a feeble attempt by Paul to justify a presupposition which he had already made.

 

Why should Jesus (pbuh) become a curse anyway and why should God allow it? Anyway logic was not one of Paul's strong points. Nor was truth for that matter. All that mattered to him was that he be different, even to the extent of preaching a different gospel from that which Jesus' own closest disciples taught.

 

If Paul was really the founder of present-day Christianity, Christians should really start taking stock of what exactly it is that Paul taught and whether the same was consistent with what Jesus (pbuh) and his original disciples taught. Were the teachings of Jesus (pbuh) really meant for the non-Jews (Gentiles) for it was Paul that actually brought his different gospel to the Gentiles?

 

[to be continued]...

Edited by yusufar

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Paul's Different Gospel 2

 

In my opinion, Paul's writings should not qualify as Scripture. They are the purported writings of Paul. Scripture is the Word of God conveyed through a Prophet (Messenger). Nothing else can qualify as Scripture. Man's interpretation of Scripture or commentary on it is not Scripture. This should be obvious. The other 4 "gospels" also fall into this category. There is no "Gospel of Jesus" in existence being entirely his own sayings as revelealed to him by God.

 

The context of Paul's "Letter to the Galatians" is Paul's admonition to his followers who appeared to be turning towards a 'different gospel' (although, in reality, as I have pointed out, it would seem that Paul's gospel was the different gospel), and were being 'misled' (or being led back to the right path, depending on your viewpoint) by certain people who were throwing them into confusion (or perhaps enlightening them, again depending on your viewpoint) and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ (here one can of course query who was doing the real perverting, Paul or his opponents).

 

It is clear from the context that Paul's opponents were calling his congregation to come back to the Law. It has always been the context that righteous Jews (and I do not mean the Sadduccees or the Pharisees) when referring to the Law to talk about zealousness for it. Paul uses the word 'zealous' no less than 3 times almost immediately preceding the verses below (Galatians 4:17-18).

 

With regard to Galatians 4:21-4:31 "21. Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?" Paul's purpose here seems to be to dissuade his congregation from going back to the Law, which previously he has stated God sent His 'Son' to redeem those under from (Gal. 4:5), being under slavery (Gal. 4:3) and going back to which he deemed to be to 'weak and miserable principles' (Gal. 4:9).

 

Paul showed his full contempt for the Law and those who were zealous for it. He went on to attempt to justify his contempt of the Law by citing the case of Abraham and his 2 wives and sons.

 

"22. For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.

 

23. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

 

24. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar."

 

[if we follow the 'slave' imagery which Paul uses in the previous verses, the children of Hagar are therefore supposed to be under the Law (slaves to it).

 

This of course is an amazing 'prophecy' by Paul, since it did indeed come to be with the advent of Muhammad (bpbuh), a descendant of Ishmael (pbuh) son of Hagar and Abraham. How did Paul know that Hagar's descendants would come to be called 'slaves' of God, i.e. 'Muslims' or 'those who have submitted' (to God and His Law)? Quite extraordinary.

 

But then again perhaps he was only letting his slip show, since he would certainly have been aware of the prophecies relating to 'that Prophet' (bpbuh), the one who would come with a fiery law.

 

Or he could merely have been trying to decrepate those he terms as "slaves" to the Law, which in all certainty is what Jesus (pbuh) and his followers were. But Paul, not having known Jesus in the flesh, had a different "Jesus" he wanted to teach people about. Those who fell from it of course deviated from the original teachings of the Law, which Jesus (pbuh) came to fulfil not abrogate.]

 

"25. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jesusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.

 

26. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother."

 

[This is probably an allusion either to Jesus in Heaven or the Kingdom of God in Heaven (or in Spirit), free from the Law. This is merely Paul's deliberate and calculated way of looking at things, to bolster which he had absolutely no qualms about misquoting or quoting the OT out of context.]

 

"27. For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband".

 

[This refers to Isaiah 54:1 and to the future glory of Zion, or so it is believed, but appears in the whole context of Isaiah to be more an expression both of despair and hope than of prophecy. The words are rather ambiguous and do not refer to any specific person as Paul would have us believe.

 

I do not intend to go now into a study of Isaiah, but all I will say for the time being of its purported Messianic prophecies is that either a large part remain unfulfilled or were fulfilled in a different person from that whom the Jews expect(ed) or the Christians avow.]

 

"28. Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

 

29. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the spirit. It is the same now."

 

[There is no evidence for such an assertion, but Paul has no trouble at all in twisting facts to enable his conclusions to bear a semblance of logic as well as 'scriptural' authenticity.]

 

"30. But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son".

 

It is not God who says this, but Sarah. Does what Sarah says qualify as Scripture? Anyway, the actual wording is: "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."

 

[As a side note, is this where the israeli/Zionist/Judaists get the justification for their treatment of Ishmael's decendants? Whatever the case it certainly has been their attitude since at least the time of Sarah, and even Paul is of the same attitude. Do we wonder then that some if not most of the Christians are no different?]

 

It certainly gets very difficult to trust Paul when he quotes 'Scripture' to make his point:

 

"31. Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman."

 

Personally, I would say that it is better to be a righteous (and zealous) slave than a free man with no Law, for the latter is what most Jews and Christians have become.

 

In the verses following the above we get more ideas of one of Paul's pet bug-bears: circumcision. If, as Paul himself said, "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value" (Gal 5:6) what was he making such a big fuss about it for then?

 

He even went to the extent of saying that "Christ will be of no value" (at all) to those who allowed themselves to be circumcized, that they would be "alienated from Christ" and have "fallen away from grace". (Gal. 5:2,4).

 

But then he must have forgotten that Jesus (pbuh) was himself circumcised.

 

Could Jesus (pbuh) who, as we have seen according to Paul's teaching in Part 1 above, has become a curse, also become of no value, alienated from himself and fallen away from grace because he was circumcised? Obviously Paul must have been teaching a completely different "gospel".

 

He also said with regard to those whom he called "those agitators" that he wished "they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" (Gal. 5:12). In Phillipians 3:2 he calls them "dogs" and "mutilators of the flesh".

 

This does not quite sound like a holy man speaking. He seems to have become not only anti-Nazarene but also a rabid anti-Semite, in spite of being a Semite himself (but then of course he was also a Roman citizen, and the equivalent of being Roman in those days is what being American is today, except that the Romans expelled the Jews while now the Americans keep them in).

 

I think it is quite clear by now that Paul taught a different gospel to the Gentiles and that he was never really accepted into the community of the early followers of Jesus (pbuh) who probably regarded him with some suspicion, since he was one of those who had persecuted them.

 

And so it became that "Christianity" left its original roots among the Jews, especially of the Nazarene sect, and became a completely different religion that Jesus (pbuh) and his immediate followers never knew or taught. This was almost all of it due to Paul's teachings and his different gospel.

 

The Nazarenes who were also dispersed after the fall of Jerusalem abided in the deserts of Arabia until the time of the coming of the Prophet (bpbuh) when most if not all of them became Muslims.

 

Because of Paul, the purported founder of Christianity, Christians today are as far away from the real teachings of Jesus (pbuh) as they can be. These teachings were not even supposed to be for them, but for the Jews and to prepare the way for the last Prophet (bpbuh).

 

It is rather unfortunate that there is no extant copy of Paul's original "Gospel" (the one which he claimed he received by direct revelation from "Jesus Christ" himself). All we have to go on are his letters (which are possibly only a small portion of those he actually wrote).

 

In any event, Christians should perhaps critically re-assess the teachings that they have allowed themselves to be misled by all these centuries.

 

Only then will they be able to find the truth and real salvation in submission to God.

Edited by yusufar

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Grace and Peace be with you all,

 

I'd be delighted to address this but with such a flood of suppositions I'm not sure you're really after a critical dialogue on the many claims this post asserts...

 

Let me know and we can start with the assertion the post makes concerning Arius.

 

Peace 4 Real.

Edited by Ignatius

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Grace and Peace be with you all,

 

I'd be delighted to address this but with such a flood of suppositions I'm not sure you're really after a critical dialogue on the many claims this post asserts...

 

Let me know and we can start with the assertion the post makes concerning Arius.

 

Peace 4 Real.

 

 

Greetings Ignatius,

 

Bring it on. After all Christianity is the biggest supposition of all. Critical dialogue? I'm all for it.

 

Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

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Salaam,

 

I also agree with Ignatius. Look forward to this debate developing.

 

Peace and Love,

 

DARLA

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Peace all,

 

I am cautiously looking forward to this discussion as well.

 

I say cautiously because I have seen Muslims do great violence to the integrity of the scriptures over and over again, sometimes misquoting or twisting a verse when the clear meaning is in plain view in the same chapter. Yusofar asserts that we Christians have been duped by Paul, and are misunderstanding our own message. If yusofar is willing to stay within the bounds of the whole Biblical context, then the discussion should prove fruitful. If he insists on imposing the Qurannic view of the Christian scriptures (and thus ignoring those that disagree with the Quran) then the discussion is doomed to futility.

 

By faith Muslims accept the Quran as the word of God. By faith Christians accept the Bible as a faithful witness to the Word made flesh—Jesus Christ. Just as Islam can be made to look blood-thirsty and violent by cherry-picking the verses out of the Quran, so Christianity can be made to say contradictory things by accepting some parts and ignoring others. Under such conditions it is impossible to engage meaningfully—it becomes something like two old men playing chess by mail, and not realizing they are playing two different matches.

 

I would like to ask yusofar how he thinks Paul was able to pull a fast one on the rest of the apostles. The book of Acts makes it clear that Paul was acting in concert with the other apostles. They knew what he was doing. I would also ask you to address two issues, as they seem to blow your premise out of the water from the get-go:

 

1. Peter's commendation of Paul in 2 Peter 2:14-18

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

 

2. The apostle John outlived Paul by 20-25 years. He wielded enormous authority in the church as the last living apostle. He was one of the people closest to Jesus. If Paul had perverted the message of Jesus, it was within John's power to correct it, and rather easily. John did not. The easiest explanation for this would be that John agreed with Paul, but perhaps you can convince us otherwise.

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Grace and Peace be with you yusufar,

 

With the discovery of "The Gospel of Judas", perhaps it is time we had a look at other gospels as well. There were literally hundreds of gospels available before the Nicene Council of 325 AD convened by Constantinople to work out differences between the two main Christian movements at the time, those who adhered to the Athanasian Creed ("Trinitarian") and the Arian Creed ("Unitarian", and which believed that Jesus (pbuh) was a human being).

 

Let us start with your first paragraph here. It makes a claim concerning 'hundreds of gospels' which were supposedly 'available before the Nicene Council of 325 AD'. You make that claim but offer no evidence of support to your claim. This is considered 'rhetoric' in debate circles and is often used to discredit an opponents position 'here being the validity of the four earliest gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John' but your claim that there were hundreds to apparently choice from at the whim of the Nicene Council. I dispute such an unsubstainated claim and desire to address this issue of the validity of the 4 Gospels we find within the Bible. That said several errors are apparent here which need to be addressed first...

 

The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea was not convened 'by' Constantinople it was convoked 'by' the Emperor Constantine the Great. It was called to settle the dispute over the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Blessed Trinity, and it also condemned the heretical teaching of Arius. Arianism, as it was labeled, took its name from Arius, a priest in Alexandria who was trained in Antioch. The heresy was probably based in part on Judaism, Eclecticism, and Sophism. It taught that the Son of God is not of one nature or substance with God the Father, nor equal to Him in dignity and not coeternal. Historically this caused a number of disputes over the teachings of the Church and set a precedent for civil authorities to interfere in church affairs.

 

As we look at the Priest Arius and his teachings it is important to note that he was simply a Priest of Alexandria. He was not a Bishop, nor did he have any authority to elaborate in the teachings of the Church. Athanasius of Alexandria was educated in the catechetical school of Alexandria and as Secretary to Bishop Alexander, he attended the Council of Nicaea. He succeeded Alexander three years later and became Bishop of Alexandria. Probably before 318 AD, while still in his twenties, he wrote De Incarnatione (On the Incarnation) and Contra Gentes, explaining how the Logos (Christ) become human and redeemed humanity. Later, in Letters Concerning the Holy Spirit, he defended the personality and deity of the third person of the Trinity. Such works were nothing important nor extraordinary but held to the teachings of orthodox Christianity of his day.

 

Later Bishop Athanasius not only defended orthodox Christianity, he helped set the standard for it, particularly on the deity of Christ. From 339 to 359 he wrote a series of defenses of the faith (Orations Against Arians) aimed at those who denied the full deity of Christ. Those of you who are reading, please note, that as Bishop of Alexandria it was Athanasius' duty as a Shepherd of the Lord to Protect His Sheep. This is the duty of every Bishop even Athanasius at the time so this was not simply One School of Christianity versus another School of Christianity this was a heresy condemned by an 'ecumenical council' and defended against by the Bishop of Alexandria from an heretical Priest.

 

Just so you all know an Ecumenical Council is one to which all the bishops of the whole Christian world and all other prelates or dignitaries entitled to vote are invited to gather under the presidency of the pope or his representative. The decrees of an ecumenical council, when ratified by the pope, are binding in conscience upon all Christians. So be aware that this was not simply one Bishop arguing with a simply Priest of his Diocese but simply 'one' Priest in direct denial of the whole of Christianity as of the decree of the Council of Nicaea. Now with that said Arianism was not idle. As with all 'sin' this heresy spread throughout Alexandria and the Middle-East and even into favor with the Sons of Constantine in Constantinople but the debate continued to be counter to the decree of the ecumenical council of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

 

Grammatically, the issue centered around whether Christ was homoiousion (of "like substance"), or homoousion (of the "same substance") with the Father. Athanasius stood firm, against great odds and at great personal cost, to preserve a biblical stand when most church leaders in the Middle-East wandered into Arianism. For this he earned the title of contra mundum ("against the world").

 

As far as yusufar's assertions that there existed two Creeds, one by Athanasius and another by Arius, I am largely unclear where get has gotten his information.

 

The Church of Christ drew up 'one Creed' that of the Council of Nicaea known to us today as The Nicene Creed. It is uncertain what exact role Athaniasius played in framing it but he certainty defended it with his life. This creed reads, in part, in its original form:

 

We believe in ONE GOD THE FATHER Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

 

And in one LORD JESUS CHRIST, the only-begotton son of God, Begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made. Being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made...

 

And in the HOLY GHOST, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets.

 

I hope this offers some clarity to your musings on the history of the Church. If you desire sources I will be glad to offer them.

 

Peace and God Bless.

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Grace and Peace be with you yusufar,

Let us start with your first paragraph here. It makes a claim concerning 'hundreds of gospels' which were supposedly 'available before the Nicene Council of 325 AD'. You make that claim but offer no evidence of support to your claim. This is considered 'rhetoric' in debate circles and is often used to discredit an opponents position 'here being the validity of the four earliest gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John' but your claim that there were hundreds to apparently choice from at the whim of the Nicene Council. I dispute such an unsubstainated claim and desire to address this issue of the validity of the 4 Gospels we find within the Bible. That said several errors are apparent here which need to be addressed first...

 

 

Greetings and peace to you too Ignatius,

 

Knowing that the evidence has been mostly destroyed by their forefathers especially after the Council of Nicea, it is of course convenient for the present Trinitarian Christians to attempt to request for production of this evidence.

 

Nevertheless such evidence does exist and they and you know it. This request for production of evidence is an old and futile trick, as is the totally unnecessary comment regarding my claims being "rhetoric" and "unsubstantiated".

 

However, I shall humour you in good spirit and we shall see whose claim is "rhetoric" and "unsubstantiated". Nice try! But this is not about who wins or loses a debate. This is about truth and untruth.

 

The truth of the matter is that many early "Christians" did not believe in the "Trinity". The truth is that such a doctrine did not even exist in early "Christianity", which was essentially a Jewish Essenic-Nazarene movement.

 

The further truth is that, even after the "Christian" movement outgrew its Jewish Essenic-Nazarene (the so-called "Judaic-Christian") roots and spread amongst the non-Jews, there were many who still believed that Jesus was an ordinary human being.

 

On what basis did they believe so and how did the truth of the Unity of God become heresy and the heresy of the "Trinity" become the truth?

 

Your claim that the 4 Gospels being the "earliest" is disputable and itself unsubstantiated.

 

When I say "hundreds" I do not mean literally hundreds. This was perhaps hyperbole, and I plead guilty to exaggeration. But then again I could be right. As Peter Novak put it in his book, (www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.hamptonroadspub(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/bookstore/product_info.php?products_id=458&ex=71"]"Original Christianity- A New Key to Understanding the Gospel of Thomas and other Lost Scriptures"[/url]:

 

"Thousands of books were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of “heretics” with them. Less than 100 years after Constantine’s conversion, the church burnt down the famous Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It continued to launch similar campaigns for the next 1,000 years. It massacred tens of thousands of Christian “heretics” in France in the Albigensian crusade of 1209–1255, and possibly hundreds of thousands more during the Inquisition. Like George Orwell’s fictional “Big Brother,” the official church sought complete control over public and private opinion. When the printing press was invented in the fifteenth century, the church demanded the right to approve all manuscripts before publication. The church even refused to let people read its own book. As unlikely as it seems today, it was actually illegal to possess the Bible, and simply reading it was considered proof that someone was a heretic. Men and women were actually burned at the stake for reading the Roman Catholic Bible."

and

 

"A great many of these lost scriptures have been dated to the first or second century, making them some of the earliest Christian literature. Despite that, these teachings were erased from the church’s legacy; we never inherited them because the church didn’t want us to. For 1,500 years, from Constantine’s conversion in the fourth century until the end of the Spanish Inquisition in 1834, the church burned these books and killed their owners. It was the longest censorship campaign in human history.

There is no way to calculate how much we lost. Although a few listings of titles of missing early Christian scriptures still exist, we know these listings aren’t inclusive. They are just the only listings that managed to survive the editing process of the church. Still, they are enough. They make it clear that many more early Christian scriptures once existed. In the first centuries of the church, the faithful once read the following, alongside the familiar titles in today’s Bible:

 

listing omitted

 

Today’s official New Testament only offers its readers the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, along with a handful of letters from Paul, Peter, James, and Jude. Early congregations also read dozens of gospels and holy scriptures that no longer exist. All we have left today are a few of the titles, which stand as witness to the power and thoroughness of the church’s censorship campaign. Although only eight authors are represented in the official New Testament, in the earliest years of Christianity the faithful read the work of at least 38 additional authors that we know of. The earliest disciples spent their lives teaching a literate culture about Christ, and, as Luke himself testifies, a great many written works emerged from their passionate commitment to that mission:

 

Many have taken pen in hand to draw up an account of the things that have taken place among us, just as they were handed down to us from the first eyewitnesses and ministers of the word. Since I have perfectly followed all these things from the very beginning, it therefore seemed good for me to also write you an orderly account. (Luke 1:1–3)

 

Before Luke got around to writing his version of events, many others had already done so. The official church, however, condemned all of those early reports, all except the 27 books that made it into the New Testament. In making those decisions, the church demonstrated favoritism toward one author in particular: Paul, who wrote 14 of the 27 books in the New Testament—and never even met Jesus in the flesh. Today the official church embraces Paul’s letters as the standard by which all other Christian scripture is to be judged, primarily because his work, before the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, seemed to be the oldest surviving Christian literature. Paul’s writings were given preference over a great many other scriptures, including many allegedly written by some of the actual Twelve Apostles, such as Peter, James, Andrew, Thomas, and Philip. The church’s only possible defense of this would be if all those writings were falsely attributed and were not actually written by the true Twelve; for if they were authentic, then the testimony of those who spent a year or more being instructed by Christ during His ministry would surely be preferred over someone who had only had visions of Him after His Resurrection.

The church does deny that these scriptures were written by members of the original Twelve. There are two things wrong with this position, however. First, if these scriptures were not originally written by the apostles, then where are the scriptures they wrote? Luke says that a sizable percentage of the apostles wrote their recollections or teachings. If these recently discovered scriptures are not the ones they wrote, then where are the ones they did write? Second, a very good case can be made that both the Gospel of Thomas (found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945) and the Gospel of Peter (found in Akhmim, Egypt, in 1886)actually date from the mid-first century, which is exactly when the Twelve would have been most likely to produce written works.

We know our lists of lost works are incomplete, because the Nag Hammadi find contained no fewer than 41 early Christian scriptures that we’d never heard of. Their titles had previously appeared in no list, no correspondence, no surviving document of any kind. These scriptures were considered so dangerous to the church that not one mention of them was allowed to survive. In the last century, for example, we discovered that there had once been a Gospel of Mary. We never knew that because the church didn’t want us to. If the church had wanted that text to survive, no power on earth could have erased it from our heritage.

These texts and all trace of them were to be rooted out, the church decided. History was wiped clean of any memory or mention of the ideas in these works, until their texts were unearthed in Egypt.

How many more were there? Were there another 41 scriptures written in the earliest years of the church that we still don’t know anything about? Were there a hundred? Two hundred? There doesn’t seem to be any way to know. If the church could successfully erase all memory of these 41 scriptures, it could do anything; 1,500 years is a long time to get a story straight."

 

Truth through Censorship

The official church openly admits this censorship. It claims that all these lost texts were erroneous representations of Christianity and so deserved to be destroyed; and in support of that position, it points to some extant writings of early church figures that say as much. This argument is disingenuous, however, for the church is arguing its case with evidence it has admitted tampering with. For all we know, the vast majority of Christians in the first two centuries preferred these forbidden scriptures over those the official church canonized. But now that all evidence that might have reflected this has been erased, we will never know. As soon as the official church began tampering with the evidence, it lost all credibility.

 

Partial List:

 

o The Prayer of the Apostle Paul

o The Apocryphon of James (also known as the Secret Book of James)

o The Gospel of Truth

o The Apocryphon of John

o The Gospel of Thomas a sayings gospel

o The Gospel of Philip a sayings gospel

o The Book of Thomas the Contender

o The Apocryphon of John

o The Gospel of the Egyptians

o The Sophia of Jesus Christ

o The Dialogue of the Saviour

o The Gospel of the Egyptians

o The Apocalypse of Paul

o The First Apocalypse of James

o The Second Apocalypse of James

o The Apocalypse of Adam

o The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles

o Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter

o The Letter of Peter to Philip

o Melchizedek

o The Testimony of Truth

o The Interpretation of Knowledge

o A Valentinian Exposition, On the Anointing, On Baptism and On the Eucharist

The Gospel of the Apostles

The Gospel of Basilides

The Gospel of Matthias

The Gospel according to the Hebrews

The Gospel of Peter

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

The Gospel of the Nazareans

The Gospel of the Ebionites

etc.

 

Enough diversion for the time being. Definitely Paul wasn't the only one with a "different" Gospel and there were many more Gospels - other than the 4 Gospels - in existence at the time.

 

I shall deal with the rest of your points later.

 

Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

Edited by yusufar

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Grace and Peace yusufar,

 

Actually I first wanted to address the errors of the Council of Nicaea which you appear to be avoiding. Could we address this paragraph by paragraph because flooding with a series of claims isn't an honest attempt to dialogue, it is an attempt to drown out any criticism of your claims by making 'so many' the effort isn't worth the work.

 

As I say before if you wish an honest dialogue I would like you to respond to my reply concerning what you stated concerning the Council of Nicaea.

 

We will get to these 'other' Gospels and the dates that they emerged in due time I assure you. It's an interesting debate in all honesting and one worth exploring but it's important to clear the air of the Council of Nicaea first. The Ecumenical Councils and the sheer number of Bishops at them refute Gnostic claim that Christianity was some kind of a religion established by an elite core of players. Understanding how the Councils really worked and continue to work puts to rest this notion.

 

Peace and God Bless.

Edited by Ignatius

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Grace and Peace yusufar,

 

Actually I first wanted to address the errors of the Council of Nicaea which you appear to be avoiding. Could we address this paragraph by paragraph because flooding with a series of claims isn't an honest attempt to dialogue, it is an attempt to drown out any criticism of your claims by making 'so many' the effort isn't worth the work.

 

As I say before if you wish an honest dialogue I would like you to respond to my reply concerning what you stated concerning the Council of Nicaea.

 

Greetings Ignatius,

 

One by one, old chap, one by one...

 

I'm sure you are an experienced debater and all that, but your unsubstantiated allegation that I appear to be avoiding addressing the errors of the Concil of Nicea is just another diversionary tactic.

 

And my response "...Isn't an honest attempt at dialogue"? Also just another diversionary tactic, but still one that demands a response. If you are going to make all these snide side unsubstantiated remarks, I really must question your own lack of honesty in this dialogue.

 

I will respond to your claims (or counter-claims) as you make them, the very first being your initial diversionary assertion that I offered no evidence about the "hundreds" of gospels being available prior to the Council of Nicea and that this was therefore "rhetoric" and "unsubstantiated".

 

If what I did was not addressing your points paragraph by paragraph, well then I don't know what it is. But please don't twist my response into "avoiding" addressing issues raised by you. They will all be addressed. But you know that that cannot be done in a single post.

 

I am sure you are aware of what the Council of Nicea was all about and why Constantine had summoned it. But if you want to go down that road, well...

 

I shall do so in my next post.

 

Patience and Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

Edited by yusufar

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Greetings Ignatius,

 

One by one, old chap, one by one...

 

Is 40 old to you?

 

I'm sure you are an experienced debater and all that, but your unsubstantiated allegation that I appear to be avoiding addressing the errors of the Concil of Nicea is just another diversionary tactic.

 

I'm interested in clarity not diversion. It is important to understand the Ecumencial Councils to understand the Church. That is simply all I am saying.

 

I understand Gnostic Claims and I understand why they would be valuable for Muslims to assert in an effort to undermined Historic Christian Teachings about the Faith. Before we delve in such matters I continue to assert it's very important to discuss the First Ecumencial Council in Nicaea, it's dialogues and it's eventual decision concerning the nature of Jesus with the Father. Whither you ultimately refute the conclusions of the First Ecumenical Council or not is beside the point as far as I am concerned. What I desire to point out is that it was the decision of the Council to reject Arianism as heresy which Athanasius then defended as Bishop of Alexandria in league with other orthodox Bishops of his day. The decision of the Council was 'authoritative' and 'binding' to the whole of Christendom. It is the position of both branches of the Church (Catholic and Orthodox) who continue to stand on the declaration of that First Council.

 

To conjecture about alternative histories of Christianity, links between foes of the Church, etc is fine as long as you recognize that all you are doing is exercising your imagination to conjecture. Such is very much en-vogue at the present time with Dan Brown's Movie (The Da Vinci Code) and others. Conjecture can be very stimulating and intriguing but I would assert that the Historic Christian Position can be substantiated with 'real' evidence which should carry 'real' weight in one's evaluation of what is actually 'true'.

 

And my response "...Isn't an honest attempt at dialogue"? Also just another diversionary tactic, but still one that demands a response. If you are going to make all these snide side unsubstantiated remarks, I really must question your own lack of honesty in this dialogue.

 

I can sympathize for the level of antagonism. Clearly on such matters we can't hope but a certain level of respect and appreciation. What concerns me is that we really haven't even started to touch on the 'really' touchy stuff. Do you honestly feel this will be constructive?

 

I will respond to your claims (or counter-claims) as you make them, the very first being your initial diversionary assertion that I offered no evidence about the "hundreds" of gospels being available prior to the Council of Nicea and that this was therefore "rhetoric" and "unsubstantiated".

 

Actually, most if not all of the gospels you've mentioned are 'later' than First-Century. I'm not refuting the 'fact' that there weren't 'some' Hellenistic/Semitic Wisdom (i.e. gnosis) Texts circulating in the ancient world. We know this by St. Paul and St. John's exhortations to stand fast to the Gospel which they taught. What I would assert is that once we start evaluating the texts through the process of Historical-Criticial Method we are going to see that these are 'not' written by the authors whom they are claimed to have been written and that they are later syncretistic works of Hellenistic Mystery Cults far more Neo-Platonistic than Judeo-Christian.

 

The battle going on between Gnosticism and Christianity in the West today is really a battle between Paganism and Judeo-Christianity and it's frankly one which you as a Muslim should be siding with us on even-though we clearly have disagreements we honestly share a great deal 'more' in common than you share with Gnosticism/Paganism but ultimately that is something the Islamic world will have to decide for themselves on.

 

If what I did was not addressing your points paragraph by paragraph, well then I don't know what it is.

 

I believe if you read my whole post you would have seen that I wished to address the Council of Nicaea first. Once we can put that behind us that rest of this is much easier to deal with. If it is something which we cannot put behind us then the rest of the discussion is mute.

 

Peace and God Bless.

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Grace and Peace be with you yusufar,

 

...That said several errors are apparent here which need to be addressed first...

 

The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea was not convened 'by' Constantinople it was convoked 'by' the Emperor Constantine the Great...

 

Greetings Ignatius/me,

 

My mistake, that was a typo - Constantine it is.

 

No need to gloss over this dispute. The whole of Christianity was split by it and Constantine feared that it would cause grave problems to his rule.

 

"Heretical" teaching of Arius depends on where you stand. It is obvious that Arius had his supporters and he was also right in stating that the "Son" is not of one nature or substance with "God the Father", etc.

 

The teaching of Arius was based not only on Judaism but the teaching of Jesus (pbuh) himself that "God is One". What could be more straightforward than that? Those who disputed this assertion were the real heretics.

 

Any dilution of this central assertion and truth must certainly be treated as suspect and could have been due to a few factors, not the least among which was forgery, interpolation and misinterpretation.

 

The fact that the heretical teaching of the Trinity prevailed with the might of Constantine behind it does not mean that it was the right teaching.

 

...I say cautiously because I have seen Muslims do great violence to the integrity of the scriptures over and over again, sometimes misquoting or twisting a verse when the clear meaning is in plain view in the same chapter. Yusofar asserts that we Christians have been duped by Paul, and are misunderstanding our own message.

 

 

It would really be very difficult for Muslims to do any great violence to the integrity of the "scriptures" that has not already been done by Trinitarian Christians.

 

I'm not at all saying that Trinitarian Christians are misunderstanding their own message. That in itself is a misunderstanding. Let's be very clear about this. I am quite sure that they understand their own message. But do they understand the real message of Jesus (pbuh)?

 

When I say "Trinitarian Christians" I use this term to distinguish them from the original followers of Jesus (pbuh), who were Nazarenes of the Judaic-Essenic sect or movement (i.e. all of whom were Jews) and also from the "Unitarian Christians" such as Arius and others of his persuasion (who were essentially, though not all, non-Jews).

 

As all will note, I have not made a single reference to the so-called "Qur'anic view" of "Christian" scriptures, as I believe that "Christian" scriptures or what the Christians (both Trinitarian and Unitarian) accept as "scriptures" can and should be looked at on their own merit.

 

Indeed we must look at all Christian scriptures as a whole, not just those accepted by the Trinitarian Christians.

 

If the Trinitarian Christians do not accept the Qur'an being imposed upon them, then likewise they should not insist upon their version of the Bible, especially the New Testament, being imposed upon others, including Christians of other persuasions (and thus ignoring those who disagree with their Bible as well). Fair enough?

 

I never said that Paul was able to pull a fast one over the other Apostles. Far from it. They continued to pray and preach in the Temple of the Jews and I doubt if they were interested in speading the word of Jesus (pbuh) outside of the Jewish community and they were only too happy to let Paul say what he liked to the Gentiles.

 

It only concerned them when he tried to impose his clearly different teachings on Jewish communities outside of israel and many times they sent emissaries to correct him, which upset Paul no end, as we can see from his letters. And this is where he came into conflict with them, as his letters also clearly indicate.

 

As to "blow my premise out of the water"...well, I've already blown Paul's premises out of the water in my above analysis of his "different" gospel. Perhaps you'd care to go through his letters with a fine tooth comb and with a little bit more critical thought.

 

You might get somewhere closer to the real Jesus, instead of the "imposter" whom Paul encountered on the way to Damascus.

 

Peter and the other apostles of course knew exactly who Jesus (pbuh) was.

 

"Men of israel, listen to this: Jesus the Nazarene was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22 NIV)".

 

As for the Council of Nicea, it was called by Constantine to settle once and for all the differences between the warring Unitarian Christians (Arians) and the Trinitarian Christians (Athanasians) so that he could preserve the political integrity of his Empire.

 

This interference by civil authority in the affairs of the Church was not merely over doctrinal differences, but because those differences had become violent and threatened the stability of the Empire.

 

Origen just 50 years earlier had taught that the "Son" was chosen not by superiority of nature but by virtue of his self-effort. This was also Arian teaching.

 

It is also known that Origen had access to many of the lost words of Jesus, and quotes from the disciples not recorded in the NT. Origen knew the real nature of Jesus was that of an extremely holy man. And all can become holy men, as evident from the teachings of Jesus himself recorded in writing by those of the first century, but now lost - probably destroyed in the aftermath of the Council of Nicea.

 

"And we recall the words of St. John in his epistle: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God...." (1 John 3: 2).

 

As we look at the Priest Arius and his teachings it is important to note that he was simply a Priest of Alexandria. He was not a Bishop, nor did he have any authority to elaborate in the teachings of the Church.

 

Arius being "simply a Priest" is immaterial, as well as whether he had any authority to elaborate in the teachings of the "Church". The Trinitarian "Church" of course denounced and disowned his teachings since they were not the teachings of the Trinitarians, so of what relevance is it whether he had its authority or not?

 

Obviously there was more than one movement in Christianity at that time and even till today. So it is rather disingenous when Trinitarian Christians refer to the "Church" as if theirs was the only authentic "Church".

 

There was absolutely no reason for Arius to submit to their authority. In fact he was putting forward a totally different creed/doctrine of his own, one which he thought was closer to the truth - comparatively speaking he was right.

 

Paul's "different" gospel makes it very clear who were the real heretics or blasphemers, and they were the ones, including Paul himself, who taught anything which was contrary to the Mosaic Law, which Jesus (pbuh) had come to fulfil, not to destroy as Paul did.

 

Just because they now claim to be "orthodox" Christianity does not make Athanasius' explanation of the "Logos" or his defence of the personality and deity of the "Holy Spirit" right and Arius wrong.

 

While most of the Christian priests and bishops signed the Nicene Creed, affirming that "Jesus Christ" - whom none of them had known - was "Very God of Very God" and "of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made," they did so under threat of banishment.

 

Obviously and for some reason (which probably had nothing to do with the truth), Constantine sided with the Trinitarians on the issue of the nature of Jesus (pbuh), i.e. whether he was one with God and thefore God Himself, or a human being - one of those closest to God.

 

In "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity", by David W. Bercot , there were 5 who did not agree with the Nicene Creed.

 

"...Constantine himself chaired the two-month long conference and actively participated in the discussions... Constantine persuaded the group to draw up a church-wide creed that specifically addressed the Divine nature of the Son. This was something quite new, for in the past each congregation used its own individual creed. (pp. 131-132)

 

Constantine himself proposed the wording of the new church-wide creed. To exclude the viewpoints of Arius, Constantine argued that the Greek term homoousios should be used to describe the relationship of Jesus and His Father. This term is usually translated into English by the phrase, "being of the same substance." ... In fact, several pre-Nicene Christian writers had used that term to describe the Deity of the Son. However, the term doesn't appear anywhere in Scripture, and it had never been included in any of the early congregational creeds... (p. 132)

 

Nevertheless, as a result of Constantine's persuasive skills, all but five of the church representatives at Nicaea eventually signed the newly-established creed. Constantine then banished into exile the five who wouldn't sign, one of whom was Arius. Constantine also decreed: "... If anyone shall be detected in concealing a book written by Arius, and does not instantly bring it forward and burn it, the penalty for this offense shall be death."... (p. 132)

 

Subsequently, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Maris of Chalcedon and Theognis of Nicea regretted having put their signatures to the Nicene formula, as they said in a letter to Constantine written by Eusebius of Nicomedia: "We committed an impious act, O Prince, by subscribing to a blasphemy from fear of you."

 

And a blasphemy it was that rules most of Christendom to this day, even though Constantine did change his mind about Arius and brought him back from banishment in an effort to unify the Empire which was still in grave danger of being torn apart by the warring factions of "Christianity", even after the Nicene Council.

 

For his efforts Constantine, in collusion with the conniving bishops who supported him, rewarded himself with the office of Messiah— an office previously reserved only for Jesus pbuh). It was Constantine, not Jesus (pbuh), who became the embodied Messiah, Saviour and head of the "Church" - the Trinitarian Church of course.

 

What had Jesus (pbuh) have to do with this? Absolutely nothing, for the Nicene Creed had transformed him into something else entirely and which he had never ever claimed to be - God.

 

The very human Jesus (pbuh) of history had been transformed beyond redemption by the bishops of the Trinitarian Church with the backing of the very secular Emperor Constantine into God Himself and Constantine had become transformed into the Messiah.

 

Peace and regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

Edited by yusufar

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Is 40 old to you?

 

I'm older. It's just a common English expression and has nothing actually to do with age - sometimes English can be strange.

 

I'm interested in clarity not diversion. It is important to understand the Ecumencial Councils to understand the Church. That is simply all I am saying.

 

I understand the Ecumenical Councils quite well, thank you. I also understand that the Pope is infallible. Or has that been voted out again? :D

 

I understand Gnostic Claims and I understand why they would be valuable for Muslims to assert in an effort to undermined Historic Christian Teachings about the Faith.

 

Not all Gnostic claims can be upheld and in fact most probably cannot be supported, especially by Muslims. I am aware of this and I am certainly not interested in undermining historic Christian teachings about their own faith. This is not about who wins the debate, as far as I am concerned.

 

Please do not take my questioning or different viewpoint as trying to undermine your faith. What you believe is entirely up to you. Although I may not be able to understand why you believe what you do, you certainly are entitled to maintain that belief as far as you can without doing violence to others.

 

My duty is only to convey the message, not to convince you of it.

 

I have my own understanding of "historic Christian teachings" based on my own study and research and I can only assure you that this is not due to my being a Muslim but rather it is the reason I am a Muslim.

 

The truth or otherwise of "Christian" teachings and doctrines can be determined both from intrinsic as well as extrinsic historical evidence. Islam merely clarifies it so it is not essential to use Islamic sources to determine the same.

 

Before we delve in such matters I continue to assert it's very important to discuss the First Ecumencial Council in Nicaea, it's dialogues and it's eventual decision concerning the nature of Jesus with the Father. Whither you ultimately refute the conclusions of the First Ecumenical Council or not is beside the point as far as I am concerned. What I desire to point out is that it was the decision of the Council to reject Arianism as heresy which Athanasius then defended as Bishop of Alexandria in league with other orthodox Bishops of his day. The decision of the Council was 'authoritative' and 'binding' to the whole of Christendom. It is the position of both branches of the Church (Catholic and Orthodox) who continue to stand on the declaration of that First Council.

 

As far as I am concerned the eventual decision of the Council of Nicea is besides the point. What real authority did the Council have to "decide" on the nature of Jesus (pbuh) with regard to God? Did God or Jesus (pbuh) give it that authority or did it usurp such authority?

 

To attempt to make that decision "authoritative" and "binding" on the whole of Christendom based on the understanding and majority votes of the bishops would therefore have been highly presumptious. This is where Christianity fell into its gravest error.

 

By the way, Athanasius was not yet appointed Bishop at the time of the Council of Nicea. That appointment came about 5 months later, upon the death of his patron Bishop Alexander. He was there as assistant (or attendant) to Bishop Alexander. He was however allowed to take part in the discussions and must have been rather influential or instrumental in the decision to declare and implement the Nicene Creed.

 

To conjecture about alternative histories of Christianity, links between foes of the Church, etc is fine as long as you recognize that all you are doing is exercising your imagination to conjecture. Such is very much en-vogue at the present time with Dan Brown's Movie (The Da Vinci Code) and others. Conjecture can be very stimulating and intriguing but I would assert that the Historic Christian Position can be substantiated with 'real' evidence which should carry 'real' weight in one's evaluation of what is actually 'true'.

 

There is no necessity to "conjecture" about alternative histories of Chistianity, etc. The "Church" has done that just as well and attempted to impose its own view of history, especially the history of "Christianity" and the history of Jesus (pbuh), upon others when that view is itself imaginative conjecture and has turned Jesus (pbuh) into something he never was nor will ever be.

 

Based on the basic premise that God is God and that Creator and created must of essence be different, God cannot become a human being and a human being cannot become God. You may disagree all you like, but why should God not mention it even once in the OT and suddenly spring such a surprise on mankind during the time of Jesus (pbuh) when Jesus (pbuh) himself said that "God is One"?

 

Indeed, the Trinitarian Christian conjecture can be very stimulating and intriguing but I would assert that the "Historic Christian Position" cannot be substantiated with any "real" evidence which carries any "real" weight in anyone's evaluation of what is actually "true".

 

I can sympathize for the level of antagonism. Clearly on such matters we can't hope but a certain level of respect and appreciation. What concerns me is that we really haven't even started to touch on the 'really' touchy stuff. Do you honestly feel this will be constructive?

 

The "antagonism" that you sympathize with is entirely your own conjecture as well. It is just not there. I have no reason to be antagonistic. I repeat, my duty is only to convey the message. If it does not convince you, I have nothing to lose and if it does, I have nothing to gain - nor has Islam for that matter.

 

Salvation is entirely an individual affair. And one of the gravest mistakes made by many "Christians" (both Trinitarians and Unitarians) of the past was to attempt to impose their ideas on others by force. To be fair, it must also be said that some Muslims are also of this tendency. It just doesn't work.

 

Actually, most if not all of the gospels you've mentioned are 'later' than First-Century.

 

And the 4 gospels come direct from the "horse's mouth"? I doubt it - too many inconsistencies. But that is a different subject from Paul's Different Gospel.

 

I'm not refuting the 'fact' that there weren't 'some' Hellenistic/Semitic Wisdom (i.e. gnosis) Texts circulating in the ancient world. We know this by St. Paul and St. John's exhortations to stand fast to the Gospel which they taught. What I would assert is that once we start evaluating the texts through the process of Historical-Criticial Method we are going to see that these are 'not' written by the authors whom they are claimed to have been written and that they are later syncretistic works of Hellenistic Mystery Cults far more Neo-Platonistic than Judeo-Christian.

 

The same evaluation method you propose has already been done by many scholars who have also come to the conclusion that the 4 gospels were probably not written by the authors claimed and that they were also influenced by hellenistic and neo-platonistic ideas as well, even to the extent that through Paul's ideas, the Jesus (pbuh) of history was no longer recognizable and had been transformed into "God Himself".

 

Paul's ideas, and his "different" gospel, built upon by the later Gentile Church into the "Trinity", were as far away as one could possibly get from the Mosaic-Judaic-Essenic teachings of Jesus (pbuh). Jesus (pbuh) would have been horrified that he had been turned into "God Almighty Himself" by something which he had never taught.

 

The battle going on between Gnosticism and Christianity in the West today is really a battle between Paganism and Judeo-Christianity and it's frankly one which you as a Muslim should be siding with us on even-though we clearly have disagreements we honestly share a great deal 'more' in common than you share with Gnosticism/Paganism but ultimately that is something the Islamic world will have to decide for themselves on.

 

Given the obviously pagan roots of present day "Christianity" I don't think it is in Islam's interest to side with either Gnosticism or Christianity. That is just my personal opinion. Islam can only side with the truth.

 

Furthermore, Christianity has given up almost totally any Judaic roots it ever had and even its link to Jesus (pbuh) is in name only since it has managed to completely distort his person, personality and teachings.

 

Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

Edited by yusufar

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Greetings,

 

It will be obvious by now from the above analysis that Paul did in fact teach a different gospel from that taught by the other apostles, one which depended entirely on faith - since he couldn't prove any of it - and not the (Mosaic) Law which Jesus (pbuh) had come to fulfil.

 

He could not prove any of it because as he claimed he had received it by direct revelation from Jesus (pbuh). The fact that it contradicted Jesus' (pbuh) teaching while still alive did not stop Paul from expounding and expanding on his newly-found theology, especially among the non-Jews or Gentiles.

 

This is where Christianity stumbles and becomes something that Jesus (pbuh) never taught, the moment Paul preaches his different gospel and distances himself from Jesus' (pbuh) original disciples.

 

Paul had by this time developed a theology based on "faith in Jesus Christ" as opposed to one based on "observing the law". As he said, "if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:14-21). It is at once apparent that the other apostles were teaching that righteousness could be gained through the law (or rather through observance of it).

 

An example of the fairly original teachings of Jesus (pbuh) and his disciples (as far as can be ascertained) can be found in James:

 

"JAS 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself,"* you are doing right. [9] But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. [10] For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. [11] For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"* also said, "Do not murder."* If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker."

 

This of course was a very stringent doctrine and one which could hardly have found favour with the more relaxed Gentiles. If Paul wished to be "successful" in his mission to the Gentiles, obviously he had to tone down this doctrine of "strict adherence to the Law".

 

Paul did more than that - he did away with the whole requirement to follow the Law and instituted a far easier belief of "faith in Christ" - which practically guaranteed salvation to the believer, even without any necessity to do good deeds. This peculiar theology also led to the development of the concept of "original sin" which it was said Jesus (pbuh) saved those who "had faith" from.

 

Actually the point that Paul makes in Galatians is that the curse of the law is the fact that it is impossible to keep perfectly, hence Paul's statement that no-one is justified by the Law. What Paul tells the Galatians is simply that they are free to try to keep the letter of the Law if they like, but they will fail, and so they should therefore rely on faith in Christ. If the whole of Galatians is read thoroughly, it will be seen that this is what this letter is about.

"JAS 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, [13] because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!"

JAS 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but

has no deeds? Can such faith save him? [15] Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. [16] If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? [17] In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

 

This is a direct refutation of Paul's teachings.

"JAS 2:18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. [19] You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe

that--and shudder."

"JAS 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless*? [21] Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? [22] You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. [23] And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"* and he was called God's friend. [24] You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."

 

Could James have been addressing Paul without mentioning his name? It would appear so.

"JAS 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered

righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? [26] As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."

"JAS 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. [2] We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

 

JAS 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. [12] There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?"

 

And who is Paul to judge the Law? Or teach something which Jesus (pbuh) or his disciples never taught?

 

Leviticus 18:5 (NIV) on the other hand states: "Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD." This sounds more like a justification for the law rather than a refutal of it, and a sounder basis for faith (though perhaps not of the kind which Paul envisaged).

 

Those who still think that it shows that faith is the basis for keeping God's Law, not the other way round, and that this is the point Paul made in Galatians have to be faced with the fact that by doing away with the Law, Paul has therefore demonstrated his lack of faith.

 

Either way, Paul's different gospel cannot be supported by the teachings of the scriptures and of Jesus and his original disciples and must therefore be dismissed as an innovation.

 

Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

Edited by yusufar

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Peace Yusofar!

 

I appreciate your intellect, and clearly you have studied a great deal, but to my mind you have not put a dent into Pauls legacy. Scripture informs us about scripture. If something is unclear, we must look to other scriptures that may speak on the matter. The whole of the scriptures give us understanding. You seem to be ignoring some scriptures to make your case. I always appreciate what the apostle James has to say, but you are assuming your view onto his.

 

I have already mentioned Peter's commendation of Paul in 2 Peter, which you have not addressed. You need to account for yet another account of the apostles support of Paul found in Acts 15. Interestingly enough, it has to do with keeping the law:

 

1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."

 

6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." 12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 'After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.' 18 "Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."

 

22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. 23 They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law"--to whom we gave no such commandment-- 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. 30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. 32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. 33 And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles. 34 However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there. 35 Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

 

The scriptures you quoted must be understood in the context that Paul enjoyed the full backing of the other apostles and elders, particularly Peter and James. In Paul's dispute with the believing Pharisees, the apostles sent two other witnesses to reaffirm Paul's teaching. This demolishes the idea that Paul preached a different gospel, and disproves your assertion that the other apostles preached righteousness through the law.

 

As to James contradicting Paul, I suggest you read Romans more carefully. You seem to be arguing against a cartoon of Paul, rather than the real Paul.

 

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

-Romans 2:4-10

 

Paul's definition of faith also included good works to demonstrate the faith.

 

"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

-Romans 6:14-18

 

Faith sets us free to be obedient to God. This is not a different message from James.

Edited by me

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I would also ask you to address two issues, as they seem to blow your premise out of the water from the get-go:

 

1. Peter's commendation of Paul in 2 Peter 2:14-18

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

 

2. The apostle John outlived Paul by 20-25 years. He wielded enormous authority in the church as the last living apostle. He was one of the people closest to Jesus. If Paul had perverted the message of Jesus, it was within John's power to correct it, and rather easily. John did not. The easiest explanation for this would be that John agreed with Paul, but perhaps you can convince us otherwise.

 

Firstly with regard to 2 Peter. I'm sure you are aware that most scholars are of the opinion that 2 Peter is a pseudepigraph (i.e. author unknown and not Peter) and date it between 100-160 CE, out of range of Peter's lifetime.

 

Much of its material has been copied or is literarily dependent on Jude, which itself belongs in the post-apostolic age. It is also highly Hellenistic in concept and (rhetorical) language as is 1 Peter, something one would not expect from an unlettered Galilean fisherman (Acts 4:13).

 

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www./cathen/11752a.htm"]The Catholic Encyclopaedia[/url] states: "In the present state of the controversy over the authenticity it may be affirmed that it is solidly probable, though it is difficult to prove with certainty."

 

Secondly, don't you find it even more strange that John never mentioned Paul at all? It is as if he didn't even know of Paul. Furthermore, would the Apostle John have become so anti-Jewish as the "Gospel of John" makes out?

 

Perhaps these are questions worth pondering upon and pursuing. But for the time being I would like to concentrate on Paul, to which I shall return shortly.

 

Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

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Peace yusofar, and thanks for the quick response.

 

I am aware that most (but not all) scholars date 2 Peter in the second century. I have read the evidence on both sides, and neither makes an airtight case. It is not clear whether 2 Peter copied Jude or the other way around (depends on when you date 2 Peter and Jude). Several authors pointed to the use of a different amanuensis for 1 Peter and 2 Peter (2 were identified by name as assisting Peter by the early church fathers), which might explain the stylistic differences. I lean in the favor of the minority who claim it to be authentic, though I admit I am out of my league. The church rejected several other things that were claimed to have been written by Peter, and are obvious pseudographs. At this point I have to trust my spiritual forefathers, which admittedly is an act of faith, though not blind faith.

 

As to John not mentioning Paul, that doesn't surprise me at all. There's some evidence that Paul's letters may have been collected as early as 80 AD, which means he was an established influence on the church by the time John wrote his gospel. Revelation was written after the death of Paul, maybe as much as 20 years after his death. The fact that John never addresses Paul inclines me to believe that there was no controversy. In Revelation John takes issues with those whom Jesus condemns, the Nicolaitans for example. If Paul's influence was hijacking the gospel he or his teaching certainly would have received a mention, especially since the churches mentioned in Revelation were ones Paul helped found.

 

I never considered John's gospel to be "anti-jewish," but then again, I am not a Jew so I may have cultural blinders. I have always understood John to be "Pro-Jesus as the Son of God and all that it means." Jesus' claims in the gospel of John put him at odds with the Jewish religious powers-that-were. Jesus was delivered up to the Romans for death by the Sanhedrin for a reason.

 

Yusofar, it is highly unlikely that I will ever agree with you, but I appreciate the civil tone with which you make your case and the obvious study you have put into it. I also look forward to what Ignatious has to say.

 

best regards,

me

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I'm older. It's just a common English expression and has nothing actually to do with age - sometimes English can be strange.

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Yes, English 'can' be strange even for native speakers.

 

I understand the Ecumenical Councils quite well, thank you.

 

I find this a little rhetorical since you appear to not recognize the Scriptural foundation of their authority...

 

If you read the Early Church Fathers, it is very clear, how they understood Jesus' extending the powers of "Binding and Loosing" as a "Chrism of the Church" to those who are the "Shepherds of the Church" (i.e. the Bishops). Such power and authority empowers the Church 'as the Body of Christ' to exercise His Authority over His Kingdom (i.e. The Church) through the effluence of the Holy Spirit.

 

I also understand that the Pope is infallible. Or has that been voted out again? :D

 

Truly the supremacy of the Pontiff of Rome is one of the first binding worldly authorities cased off by the degenerating Christian World and one which has allowed for a great deal of internal disagreement within the Church but such is not a matter of 'vote' but of 'declaration' from the Holy Spirit as 'revealed'. That is why all of the early Councils needed to be ratified by the Pope before accepted but of course such a position is ultimately no longer accepted nor supported by my Protestant and Orthodox Brothers. As a Catholic, I respectfully, disagree with them on this matter as well as your characterization of it.

 

Not all Gnostic claims can be upheld and in fact most probably cannot be supported, especially by Muslims. I am aware of this and I am certainly not interested in undermining historic Christian teachings about their own faith. This is not about who wins the debate, as far as I am concerned.

 

Well, that is very good to hear you say but you surely appear to be exercising an exegesis which falls somewhat 'inline' with them. As an aside, many Christians see Islam 'as' a religious practice which has been greatly influenced by gnostic christians and messianic jews of the time. I continue to study these connections and reflect on the position of the Pope to extend every hope that each have a role in God's Plan of Salvation. Such a position continues to be one of chief reasons which motivates my continued interest to pursue dialogue with Muslims and Jews as Brothers in Monotheism.

 

Please do not take my questioning or different viewpoint as trying to undermine your faith. What you believe is entirely up to you. Although I may not be able to understand why you believe what you do, you certainly are entitled to maintain that belief as far as you can without doing violence to others.

 

I dare say that I am convinced that I can play a role in outlining 'why' Christians hold to viewpoint they do and I believe I can outline 'why' Christians don't share your conclusions about Islam but ultimately such is merely an exercise. As a Catholic I am informed by my faith that both Jews and Muslims have every hope to share in God's Plan of Salvation so Although I am inclined to offer the Gospel as the clearest expression of God's Earthly Revelation we aren't 'forced' to declare 'them' Damned.

 

My Orthodox Brothers have a saying which I personally have adopted: "We know where grace is, we don't know where it is not".

 

My duty is only to convey the message, not to convince you of it.

 

I have my own understanding of "historic Christian teachings" based on my own study and research and I can only assure you that this is not due to my being a Muslim but rather it is the reason I am a Muslim.

 

The truth or otherwise of "Christian" teachings and doctrines can be determined both from intrinsic as well as extrinsic historical evidence. Islam merely clarifies it so it is not essential to use Islamic sources to determine the same.

 

Islam ultimately exercises a exegesis which Christians disagree so this doesn't surprise me. Such an exegesis is going to warp all evidence to ones own perspective. The question isn't one of evidence but one's exercise of exegesis on the evidence at hand. Which exegesis is ultimately the correct one is a matter of 'fact of God's alone' and not ours. We each stand or fall on that fact. As St. Paul was very clear to state in Scripture "If Christ didn't die for us then our faith is in vain and we are must to be pitied". I understand the grace offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I ultimately stand or fall on it.

 

As far as I am concerned the eventual decision of the Council of Nicea is besides the point. What real authority did the Council have to "decide" on the nature of Jesus with regard to God? Did God or Jesus give it that authority or did it usurp such authority? To attempt to make that decision "authoritative" and "binding" on the whole of Christendom based on the understanding and majority votes of the bishops would therefore have been highly presumptious. This is where Christianity fell into its gravest error.

 

This is why I question your study of the Councils since you appear to not know of their inherent support through Christ Himself.

Edited by Ignatius

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Continued from Above:

 

By the way, Athanasius was not yet appointed Bishop at the time of the Council of Nicea. That appointment came about 5 months later, upon the death of his patron Bishop Alexander. He was there as assistant (or attendant) to Bishop Alexander.

 

I believe I covered this when I pointed out the date of St. Athanasius' ordination.

 

He was however allowed to take part in the discussions and must have been rather influential or instrumental in the decision to declare and implement the Nicene Creed.

 

All Christians are ultimately 'allowed' to take part in 'any' council be they Bishops or no. I have touched on this assumption in my pervious post as well. There simply is 'no evidence' to suggest that St. Athanasius played any unique role in the articulation of the Nicene Creed but we can conclude from historical evidence that he was very active in the defense of the councils decision as Bishop of Alexandria.

 

There is no necessity to "conjecture" about alternative histories of Chistianity, etc. The "Church" has done that just as well and attempted to impose its own view of history, especially the history of "Christianity" and the history of Jesus (pbuh), upon others when that view is itself imaginative conjecture and has turned Jesus (pbuh) into something he never was nor will ever be.

 

You hold this position because you don't recognize The "Church" as 'the' authority of it's own faith. This is because you have sided with an alternative exegesis which is not 'of' the Church which ultimately creates the conflict. As I've said I can sympathize with this situation but I ultimately have to point out that such is a position of one who is outside of the Body of Authority which is the Church.

 

Based on the basic premise that God is God and that Creator and created must of essence be different, God cannot become a human being and a human being cannot become God. You may disagree all you like, but why should God not mention it even once in the OT and suddenly spring such a surprise on mankind during the time of Jesus (pbuh) when Jesus (pbuh) himself said that "God is One"?

 

This appears to call into question a basic Christian Teaching: Theosis. Perhaps we should touch on this topic before making any further assumptions.

 

Indeed, the Trinitarian Christian conjecture can be very stimulating and intriguing but I would assert that the "Historic Christian Position" cannot be substantiated with any "real" evidence which carries any "real" weight in anyone's evaluation of what is actually "true".

 

I believe this is an issue of 'authority' and not one of 'evidence' at all. Once one recognizes the authority given to the Church through it's Chrism then one is inclined to see the evidence through the proper exegesis which 'reveals' the Truth of the Church as then only legitimate one. If I didn't have faith in the 'real' presences of the Holy Spirit 'in' the Church I wouldn't be a Christian at all.

 

The "antagonism" that you sympathize with is entirely your own conjecture as well. It is just not there. I have no reason to be antagonistic. I repeat, my duty is only to convey the message.

 

Your 'duty' is to argue for the 'authority' of your own exegesis, no more and no less. This claim is merely rhetorical on your part and attempts to evade the truth of the matter at hand.

 

Salvation is entirely an individual affair. And one of the gravest mistakes made by many "Christians" (both Trinitarians and Unitarians) of the past was to attempt to impose their ideas on others by force. To be fair, it must also be said that some Muslims are also of this tendency. It just doesn't work.

 

Truly the stain of blood is upon us both and neither can avoid the shame except to exercise restraint in our mission to 'preach' our faith through example.

 

And the 4 gospels come direct from the "horse's mouth"? I doubt it - too many inconsistencies. But that is a different subject from Paul's Different Gospel.

 

They actually go hand-in-hand with offering up the Christian position of St. Paul as a legitimate Apostle of Jesus Christ.

 

The true judgment of the Gospels and the inspiration of the rest of Scripture is in the divine exegesis used to determine their authenticity not in their specific authorship. Such was the 'measure' of all four gospels and the epistles as 'authentically' expressing the inspired revelation of God.

 

It was a spiritual endeavor through the work of the Holy Spirit by the exegesis of divine exegesis. Many in the World fail to see and understand this even among those who call themselves Christians or even Christian Scholars.

 

The same evaluation method you propose has already been done by many scholars who have also come to the conclusion that the 4 gospels were probably not written by the authors claimed and that they were also influenced by hellenistic and neo-platonistic ideas as well, even to the extent that through Paul's ideas, the Jesus (pbuh) of history was no longer recognizable and had been transformed into "God Himself".

 

The Catholic Church exercises a very good Historical-Critical Method which endeavors to determine the actual intent of Scripture and not to undermine it as some critics attempt. Once one understands the proper exegesis one sees the truth.

 

Paul's ideas, and his "different" gospel, built upon by the later Gentile Church into the "Trinity", were as far away as one could possibly get from the Mosaic-Judaic-Essenic teachings of Jesus (pbuh). Jesus (pbuh) would have been horrified that he had been turned into "God Almighty Himself" by something which he had never taught.

Given the obviously pagan roots of present day "Christianity" I don't think it is in Islam's interest to side with either Gnosticism or Christianity. That is just my personal opinion. Islam can only side with the truth.

 

Furthermore, Christianity has given up almost totally any Judaic roots it ever had and even its link to Jesus (pbuh) is in name only since it has managed to completely distort his person, personality and teachings.

 

This is all an exercise of an alternative exegesis, which illuminates our differences but does not determine which exegesis is the correct one. Until you have grasped this we will be in an intractable debate.

 

Peace and God Bless.

Edited by Ignatius

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...I never considered John's gospel to be "anti-jewish," but then again, I am not a Jew so I may have cultural blinders. I have always understood John to be "Pro-Jesus as the Son of God and all that it means." Jesus' claims in the gospel of John put him at odds with the Jewish religious powers-that-were. Jesus was delivered up to the Romans for death by the Sanhedrin for a reason.

 

Yusofar, it is highly unlikely that I will ever agree with you, but I appreciate the civil tone with which you make your case and the obvious study you have put into it. I also look forward to what Ignatious has to say.

 

 

Greetings me,

 

I think John was dated at a time when the Gentile Christians were breaking loose from the Jewish origins of "Christianity" and developing their own theology and also possibly facing much opposition from "Jewish Christians" as well as trying to cope with a potentially if not actually hostile Roman regime.

 

Sometimes I also think that how we think could be "preconditioned" since many of the ideas I developed about Christianity came before I started doing any "serious" research if you could call it that. Islam was not a factor until much later.

 

For example, I always believed in God alone and I could never accept that God could be a human being or that a human being could be God. Somehow I found it impossible to accept most of the basic Christian (Catholic) concepts and doctrines such as "Original Sin", the "Trinity", the "Resurrection", etc. and prayers such as the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" and rituals such as the "Eucharist".

 

Anyway those were my own personal biases and prejudices and nothing to do with Islam.

 

I do not believe that Jesus was handed over to the Romans by the Sanhedrin, unless he was by then a fugitive from the Romans. Crucifixion was the Roman punishment for rebellion and other serious political crimes while the ultimate Jewish punishment for blaphemy was stoning to death.

 

The Sanhedrin had authority to enforce its own religious enactments - that is clear, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to persecute and punish the early followers of Jesus.

 

In any case I really don't see any reason why the Romans would have put him to death for blasphemy against Judaism - they probably would have been quite happy about it or at the very least unconcerned, as long as it was Jew against Jew and did not threaten Roman security.

 

The Romans were known to have left Judaism pretty much alone, and were generally quite aware of the Jews' practices and sensitivities with regard to their religion, as well as tolerant to the extent that Roman rule was not in any way affected by the same.

 

The fact that the early followers under the leadership of James - after Jesus' ascension - were still allowed to pray in the Temple somehow vitiates against any charges of blasphemy against Judaism in Jesus' teachings - and obviously they still adhered to Mosaic Law (Acts 21:20 "...they are all zealous of the law:"), for the other Jews to continue to tolerate them.

 

There were incidents of persecution and Paul was of his own admission said to have been one of the persecutors, yet the puzzling thing is that they still managed to stay on in Jerusalem and even worshipped in the Temple with the other Jews. Why were they persecuted then by the priests and were not persecuted later?

 

The Acts seem to reveal a fair bit about how even James and the other elders of the "Jewish Christian" community who were "zealous for the law" differed from Paul. While in the Acts Paul denies going against the law, yet as we have seen from his own words in his letters that this is exactly what he has done.

 

Acts "[21] And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

[22] What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

[23] Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

[24] Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

[25] As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

[26] Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purifcation, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

[27] And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

[28] Crying out, Men of israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place."

 

What the Jews of Asia were complaining about of course were the very essence of Paul's different teachings, in accordance with his own "different gospel", such as we can glimpse from the Acts and his letters.

 

I don't expect you to agree with me of course. It's obvious to me that your beliefs are also the result of much study as well and I really appreciate your effort and willingness to discuss the same and your tolerance of my viewpoint.

 

Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

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I think John was dated at a time when the Gentile Christians were breaking loose from the Jewish origins of "Christianity" and developing their own theology and also possibly facing much opposition from "Jewish Christians" as well as trying to cope with a potentially if not actually hostile Roman regime.

 

Grace and Peace yusufar,

 

Jesus was antagonistic with the leaders of Judaism from the very beginning of his ministry because they had reduced the Divine Law of God, which is internal and wholly spiritual in nature, to a legalistic system of cultural idolatry, which was external and largely material. This is very clearly present in the Gospels if one takes the time to read them and reflect deeply.

 

St. Paul didn’t bring anything ‘new’ to this antagonism toward Judaism of his day, which was foreshadowed by the Old Testament by the promise in Jeremiah 31:31-34 of a new covenant and a new law written in the heart to supersede the law of Moses.

 

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. - Jeremiah 31:31-34

 

By the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, Judaism had been adulterated with external adherence thus reducing its ability to prefect man and render him righteous before God and capable of prefecting man to encounter the noetic realm of the divine. The Law of Moses had, in effect, become ‘neutered’ by the abuse of the Pharisees and only served to create hypocrisy within oneself and division between the self-righteous (Jews) and un-righteous (Pagans). Jesus came to restore the divine link between Creator and Created to once again establish a means of eternal life in God’s Grace. To do so He had to overcome the very nature of sin which is death itself and He did this by his death and resurrection.

 

When we, as Christians, claim the Law of Christ as our own we claim the original Spiritual Law lived by Adam, before the fall, and that of Abraham, before Moses, by grace through faith. Not by adherence to an external law but through the inner guidance of the very voice of the Holy Spirit (God within us). Although the Spiritual Law is found within the Mosaic Covenant for those few who managed to adhere to it in faith the New and Everlasting Covenant of Christ brought the relationship once only shared between God and israel to the entire world.

 

Somehow weak catechesis failed to impart this to you and you fell back into a self-styled old covenant in Islam. Although I believe that Islam has the potential of salvation it suffers from same weakness found in Judaism (self-righteousness and division) which can easily render it merely a form of external legalism void of any real righteousness. By recognizing the divine potential within all Christians are to seek to nurture that divine voice within all of God's Creatures and allow that spark to grow into a beacon of love 'for God and for One Another'. Such fulfills the Law of the Prophets.

 

I do not believe that Jesus was handed over to the Romans by the Sanhedrin, unless he was by then a fugitive from the Romans. Crucifixion was the Roman punishment for rebellion and other serious political crimes while the ultimate Jewish punishment for blasphemy was stoning to death.

 

You appear to neglect the evidence which suggests that the religious leadership of israel lacked the authority to ‘execute’ Jewish Law under the occupation of Rome in cases which asked for the death penalty.

 

The Sanhedrin had authority to enforce its own religious enactments - that is clear, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to persecute and punish the early followers of Jesus.

 

You appear to leave out some details here which you should know through your own study. Roman control of israel was under great stress during the life of Jesus Christ and His Disciples and rebellion was ever a threat until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

 

It is also apparent that it was very possible Hellenistic Jews living within Roman Cities had Roman Citizenship, like St. Paul, and could exercise greater influence over Roman Troops than was possible by the occupied Sanhedrin.

 

In any case I really don't see any reason why the Romans would have put him to death for blasphemy against Judaism - they probably would have been quite happy about it or at the very least unconcerned, as long as it was Jew against Jew and did not threaten Roman security.

 

Do you know how the Jews envisioned the Messiah? Do you really think the Roman occupation didn’t know that the Jews held rebellious notions and that this 'Davidic' Messiah could potentially lead them into open rebellion against Rome? Do you imagine that such a person, as Jesus, with 100’s and 1000’s of follows wouldn’t appear to be a threat to both the power of the Sanhedrin as well as the Romans?

 

Have you read the Bible? It’s all in there.

 

The Romans were known to have left Judaism pretty much alone, and were generally quite aware of the Jews' practices and sensitivities with regard to their religion, as well as tolerant to the extent that Roman rule was not in any way affected by the same.

 

You should read some extracts of ‘Roman tolerance’ some time. They were a very practical occupation force. Exert enough force to control the populace. This was a real concern for the zealots who desired Jesus to lead them against Roman occupation.

 

The fact that the early followers under the leadership of James - after Jesus' ascension - were still allowed to pray in the Temple somehow vitiates against any charges of blasphemy against Judaism in Jesus' teachings - and obviously they still adhered to Mosaic Law (Acts 21:20 "...they are all zealous of the law:"), for the other Jews to continue to tolerate them.

 

You have to ask yourself ‘which law’? The Spiritual Law written within their hearts mentioned by Jeremiah or the superficial law of their day as practiced by the Pharisees?

 

There were incidents of persecution and Paul was of his own admission said to have been one of the persecutors, yet the puzzling thing is that they still managed to stay on in Jerusalem and even worshipped in the Temple with the other Jews. Why were they persecuted then by the priests and were not persecuted later?

 

Did you also notice that throughout St. Paul’s entire ministry he was ‘collecting for the Brothers and Sisters in Jerusalem’? If they were doing so well with their fellow Jewish Brethren, as you appear to assert, why this continued collection? They were oppressed just as Jesus was oppressed and eventually martyred.

 

The Acts seem to reveal a fair bit about how even James and the other elders of the "Jewish Christian" community who were "zealous for the law" differed from Paul. While in the Acts Paul denies going against the law, yet as we have seen from his own words in his letters that this is exactly what he has done.

 

Again ask yourself ‘which Law’?

 

What the Jews of Asia were complaining about of course were the very essence of Paul's different teachings, in accordance with his own "different gospel", such as we can glimpse from the Acts and his letters.

 

You do know that the Apostles dealt with this right? It was the proto-type for all future Councils of the Church.

 

Peace and God Bless.

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Greetings Ignatius,

 

Jesus was antagonistic with the leaders of Judaism from the very beginning of his ministry because they had reduced the Divine Law of God, which is internal and wholly spiritual in nature, to a legalistic system of cultural idolatry, which was external and largely material. This is very clearly present in the Gospels if one takes the time to read them and reflect deeply.

 

You are right to a certain extent. I am quite certain that Jesus (pbuh) came to reform Judaism and would therefore have come into conflict with its priests and leaders. Yet Jesus (pbuh) never preached against the Mosaic Law, only how it was being (wrongly) implemented. Jesus (pbuh) gave it the spiritual dimension that was lacking. And he also had another mission.

 

Judaism had by that time also become polluted by paganism, particularly of Roman and Greek origin and the Essenes and Nazarenes under Jesus (pbuh) were intent on purging it of these influences, yet all still within the context of Mosaic Law, which Jesus (pbuh) himself never abrogated or taught that it had to be done away with.

 

St. Paul didn’t bring anything ‘new’ to this antagonism toward Judaism of his day, which was foreshadowed by the Old Testament by the promise in Jeremiah 31:31-34 of a new covenant and a new law written in the heart to supersede the law of Moses.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. - Jeremiah 31:31-34

 

Ah, Jeremiah! I was wondering when he would be trotted out. For good measure you could have thrown in Daniel as well and many other "unfulfilled" prophecies. These prophecies which the Jews expected to be fulfilled in the real sense and not merely spiritual, never did happen, unless looked at from the Islamic perspective.

 

I'm sure you are aware of the "pesher" process of reworking of biblical passages whereby the scroll writer studies or examines a book of the Bible, usually a prophetic work, and reinterprets it in terms of the events of his own time.

 

Using such a technique, what you propose can also be reinterpreted to refer to the Prophet Muhammad (pbbuh) rather than Jesus or perhaps even to both of them.

 

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has given us even more ample material for this purpose, what with their references to The Messiah who was both Ruler and Priest and the Two Messiahs who will appear towards the end of time, one the Messiah of israel (the Royal or King Messiah) and the other the Messiah of Aaron (the Priest Messiah).

 

Are these to be found in Christianity? The answer is "No". Are they to be found in Islam? The answer is "Yes". But that is perhaps another subject entirely, although perhaps connected in a way to Paul's different gospel.

 

Yes, indeed, and this New Covenant which God made with them would only be fulfilled in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbbuh). And part of Jesus' (pbuh) mission was to prepare the way for the coming of "that Prophet"(pbbuh).

 

By the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, Judaism had been adulterated with external adherence thus reducing its ability to prefect man and render him righteous before God and capable of prefecting man to encounter the noetic realm of the divine. The Law of Moses had, in effect, become ‘neutered’ by the abuse of the Pharisees and only served to create hypocrisy within oneself and division between the self-righteous (Jews) and un-righteous (Pagans). Jesus came to restore the divine link between Creator and Created to once again establish a means of eternal life in God’s Grace. To do so He had to overcome the very nature of sin which is death itself and He did this by his death and resurrection.

 

Most of what you say here is correct, except perhaps that the division was not only between the righteous (Jews) and unrighteous (Pagans) but more between the Jews and the different Jewish sects themselves.

 

I see Jesus as coming to reform Judaism and thereby restoring the Divine link between Creator and Created.

 

But this doctrine about overcoming the very nature of sin "which is death itself" and for which he had to die and be resurrected sounds a bit convoluted to me.

 

How can death be the very nature of sin, unless you mean it in a metaphorical way like sin being "spiritual" death? But surely this is not a sufficient reason or method for God to require the death and resurrection of Jesus (pbuh)? What would that prove?

 

No "sacrifice" of anything by God can in any sense be a real "sacrifice" since God has nothing to "sacrifice" anything for nor should He need to, being above all needs or wants.

 

When we, as Christians, claim the Law of Christ as our own we claim the original Spiritual Law lived by Adam, before the fall, and that of Abraham, before Moses, by grace through faith. Not by adherence to an external law but through the inner guidance of the very voice of the Holy Spirit (God within us). Although the Spiritual Law is found within the Mosaic Covenant for those few who managed to adhere to it in faith the New and Everlasting Covenant of Christ brought the relationship once only shared between God and israel to the entire world.

 

Muslims also claim that very same "spiritual law" all the way back to Adam (pbuh) and Abraham (pbuh). There must be an external law as well, for we still live in a "material" world. Is inner guidance sufficient without external adherence?

 

The relationship between God and His Creation was not limited only to israel, although the Jews would have liked to believe so. The Jews were God's "Chosen People" only in so far as they obeyed His Commandments and His Law and they lost that birthright because of their own arrogance, hard-heartedness and disobedience, as Jeremiah (pbuh) makes very clear.

 

They were supposed to be the examples for the rest of the world, but does this mean that the rest of the world was left entirely without guidance until Jesus (pbuh) came? Christians may like to believe so, but Islam does not think so.

 

Somehow weak catechesis failed to impart this to you and you fell back into a self-styled old covenant in Islam. Although I believe that Islam has the potential of salvation it suffers from same weakness found in Judaism (self-righteousness and division) which can easily render it merely a form of external legalism void of any real righteousness.

 

"Self-styled old covenant in Islam"? Where did you get that from? Are you telling me that Christianity does not suffer from self-righteousness or division? To say that Islam is merely a form of external legalism ignores the very rich spiritual legacy and teachings of Islam which draw upon all of the Prophets, including Jesus (pbuh).

 

In Islam, the external law without the spirit is emptiness or futility while spirituality without external law is deviation. Righteousness comes from a harmony of both, as shown by Jesus (pbuh) and Muhammad (pbbuh) and all of God's other Prophets.

 

By recognizing the divine potential within all Christians are to seek to nurture that divine voice within all of God's Creatures and allow that spark to grow into a beacon of love 'for God and for One Another'. Such fulfills the Law of the Prophets.

 

The same can also be said of Muslims.

 

You appear to neglect the evidence which suggests that the religious leadership of israel lacked the authority to ‘execute’ Jewish Law under the occupation of Rome in cases which asked for the death penalty.

 

You appear to leave out some details here which you should know through your own study. Roman control of israel was under great stress during the life of Jesus Christ and His Disciples and rebellion was ever a threat until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

 

How do you explain the stoning by the Jewish priests of Stephen and later of James then? Was any Roman authority required or obtained for this or did the Jews assume that they had the authority and took matters into their own hands? Why didn't they do so with Jesus (pbuh) then?

 

What details do I appear to have left out? I certainly do not think that I know everything. And yes, Roman control of israel was always under stress and threat of rebellion at the time, your point being?

 

It is also apparent that it was very possible Hellenistic Jews living within Roman Cities had Roman Citizenship, like St. Paul, and could exercise greater influence over Roman Troops than was possible by the occupied Sanhedrin.

 

I doubt if the Romans could have bothered one way or another.

 

]Do you know how the Jews envisioned the Messiah? Do you really think the Roman occupation didn’t know that the Jews held rebellious notions and that this 'Davidic' Messiah could potentially lead them into open rebellion against Rome? Do you imagine that such a person, as Jesus, with 100’s and 1000’s of follows wouldn’t appear to be a threat to both the power of the Sanhedrin as well as the Romans?[/color]

 

Your point being? That Jesus (pbuh) was put to death as a rebel? But I thought he was all about peace, render unto Caesar, turn the other cheek, etc.? Why would the Romans or the Sanhedrin have seen him as a threat?

 

Have you read the Bible? It’s all in there.

 

I haven't. :D Does the Bible say that Jesus was put to death as a rebel by the Romans or can we assume this?

 

You should read some extracts of ‘Roman tolerance’ some time. They were a very practical occupation force. Exert enough force to control the populace. This was a real concern for the zealots who desired Jesus to lead them against Roman occupation.

 

They were not at war all the time. There were relative periods of calm and peace when a certain level of co-existence and tolerance had to be in place until some spark lit another flame. Obviously the Jews did not think that Jesus (pbuh) was the Messiah who would lead them against the Romans or were disappointed when he didn't. Either way he could not play that role.

 

Christianity had to find a reason for this and this is where the Messiah baceme merely a spiritual concept and the "Kingdom of God" became merely the "Church of God".

 

You have to ask yourself ‘which law’? The Spiritual Law written within their hearts mentioned by Jeremiah or the superficial law of their day as practiced by the Pharisees?

 

I would say that both would have been equally important and to emphasize on one without the other would be rather unbalanced.

 

Did you also notice that throughout St. Paul’s entire ministry he was ‘collecting for the Brothers and Sisters in Jerusalem’? If they were doing so well with their fellow Jewish Brethren, as you appear to assert, why this continued collection? They were oppressed just as Jesus was oppressed and eventually martyred.

 

I doubt if it was as "throughout" as you put it. I don't think they would have needed it much any way - they were accustomed to a simple lifestyle. Paul may have just been trying to curry favour with them. Is there any record of them receiving such proceeds?

 

If they were oppressed, how is it that their presence in the Temple was tolerated and James their leader had access even to the Holy of Holies?

 

Again ask yourself ‘which Law’?

You do know that the Apostles dealt with this right? It was the proto-type for all future Councils of the Church.

 

There was only One Law. Any Jew would know what it meant when speaking of the Law. Any follower of Jesus (pbuh) would too. Paul knew what Law it was he was accused of speaking against. The fact that Paul denied it, in spite of all evidence to the contrary (even his own letters as we know later), while the Apostles insisted on it showed just how different their teachings were.

 

You mean they voted on it? Did they really deal with it? Or was Paul too smart and devious for them? Or did fate in the form of the Romans change everything, leading to the complete marginalization of Jesus' original disciples and their substitution by the Roman Catholic Church?

 

Regards,

 

yusufar

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamicunityfoundation(contact admin if its a beneficial link)"]The Islamic Unity Foundation[/url]

Edited by yusufar

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Grace and Peace ysufar,

 

these posts are 'way' too long. Perhaps we can focus on a few subjects?

 

Thanks and God Bless.

Edited by Ignatius

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Greetings Ignatius,

You are right to a certain extent. I am quite certain that Jesus (pbuh) came to reform Judaism and would therefore have come into conflict with its priests and leaders. Yet Jesus [pbuh] never preached against the Mosaic Law, only how it was being (wrongly) implemented. Jesus (pbuh) gave it the spiritual dimension that was lacking. And he also had another mission.

 

Grace and Peace yusufar,

 

All of the Apostles of Jesus Christ 'fulfill' the Mosaic Law through the Law of Christ which is to 'Love one another as He loved us'. For example, out of 'love for one's brother we shouldn't eat what offends them'. In the case of our fellow Muslims and Jews, honestly, Christians shouldn't eat pork. Why you might ask? Because to eat pork, which is no more unclean than any other meat, would offend them and such offense is not living in charity (i.e. love) for them and their concerns but for a Christian this restraint from eating what God has given us to eat is an act of charity not an act of tyranny concerning any law outside of the one written on the human heart by God Himself.

 

Judaism had by that time also become polluted by paganism, particularly of Roman and Greek origin and the Essenes and Nazarenes under Jesus (pbuh) were intent on purging it of these influences, yet all still within the context of Mosaic Law, which Jesus (pbuh) himself never abrogated or taught that it had to be done away with.

 

Associating Essense and Nazarenes with Jesus Himself is an exercise of conjecture on your part. As Christians we follow the very Apostles of Jesus Christ who have pasted down Apostolic Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture through the Mystical Body of Christ the Church.

 

Ah, Jeremiah! I was wondering when he would be trotted out. For good measure you could have thrown in Daniel as well and many other "unfulfilled" prophecies. These prophecies which the Jews expected to be fulfilled in the real sense and not merely spiritual, never did happen, unless looked at from the Islamic perspective.

 

You consider Spiritual 'unreal'? I guess then God, who is Spirit, is 'unreal' too? Spirit is all too 'real' my dear friend you have only mistaken your blindness to it as the limit of what is 'real' just as Sanhedrin did.

 

I'm sure you are aware of the "pesher" process of reworking of biblical passages whereby the scroll writer studies or examines a book of the Bible, usually a prophetic work, and reinterprets it in terms of the events of his own time.

 

Using such a technique, what you propose can also be reinterpreted to refer to the Prophet Muhammad (pbbuh) rather than Jesus or perhaps even to both of them.

 

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has given us even more ample material for this purpose, what with their references to The Messiah who was both Ruler and Priest and the Two Messiahs who will appear towards the end of time, one the Messiah of israel (the Royal or King Messiah) and the other the Messiah of Aaron (the Priest Messiah).

 

Would you might supplying evidence as to which scrolls you draw these from?

 

[continued below]

Edited by Ignatius

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