Sunday, February 16, 2014

Surah 4.157 - 10th century Muslim scholar defends the Biblical account of the death of Jesus


I recently received in the mail the first English translation (The Proofs of Prophecy), of a famous debate "that took place in the early tenth century between the famous Isma'ili missionary Abū Hātim al-Rāzi (d. ca. 933) and the even more celebrated Abū Bakr al-Rāzi (d. 925), the physician and philosopher known to medieval Europe as 'Rhazes'. The two were towering figures of pre-modern Islamic thought, and this account of the debate between them brings us into immediate contact with some of the most intellectually exciting topics of medieval Islamic culture." (Quotation from the dust cover of the book; also reproduced at Amazon.com.)

I ordered this book because of my ongoing interest in Islamic studies, coupled with the fact that I have been impressed by a number of other published works in BYU's "Islamic Translation Series". I was not disappointed; this 2011 contribution has become my favorite of the series. Not only does Abū Hātim al-Rāzi take "the heretic" (i.e. Abū Bakr al-Rāzi) to task for his rejection of supernatural revelation from God (including the Qur'ān), but he does so by appealing numerous times to the harmony between the Bible and the Qur'ān. (He quotes from the Bible in nearly one hundred instances, from 24 different books/epistles, including those of John, Paul, and Peter).

The most interesting section of the book (IMO) is where Abū Hātim al-Rāzi defends the crucifixion and death of Jesus as portrayed in Gospels, arguing that there is no disagreement here between the Gospels and the Qur'ān. Please note the following:

As for the claim of the heretic (i.e. Abū Bakr al-Rāzi) that the Qur'ān contradicts what the Jews and Christians hold regarding the killing of Christ because both groups maintain that he was killed and crucified, whereas the Qur'ān explicitly denies his death and crucifixion and assets that God made him ascent to Him, we answer: What is in the Qur'ān is right and truthful. It is a parable coined by God, whose true meaning is know to scholars of the community. Nevertheless, some scholars have advance the following argument: The verse in the Qur'ān states, "Assuredly they killed him not but God raised him up to Him" [Q. 4:157-58], means in fact, that even were they to assert that they killed him, he is indeed alive, having been made to ascend to God, and he is with God in full glory, honor, and joy, because he is a martyr. Martyrs are alive with God, as God Himself describes them in the following verses: "Do not say about those who are killed in the cause of God that they are dead; they are indeed alive, but you do not perceive them" [Q. 2:154]; or else, "Do not imagine those who are killed in the path of God to be dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, enjoying His bounty, jubilant at what God has granted them from His grace, eagerly expecting those who have not yet followed, to come after them. In truth, no fear shall fall upon them, nor shall they grieve" [Q. 3:169-70]. It may therefore be said that this is the case with Christ. Thus, the verse, "Assuredly they killed him not" [Q. 4:157-58], means they did not really kill him, because he is a martyr whom God has made to ascent to Him. He is thus with God, full of honor and joy.

A similar account is found in the Gospel of John, which states that Christ died in the body but is alive in the spirit [cf. 1 Peter 3:18*], and so they imagined that he who died in the body is free of sins. In the Gospel of Luke, we find, "I say to you my friends, Do not fear those who kill the body and after that can do no more. I will tell you whom to fear; fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell," and "In truth I say to you, I shall go to the kingdom of heaven, and this my body that shall be delivered to death for your sake. Do likewise whenever you gather together, as a memorial of me" [cf. Luke 12:4-6, 22:19]. In the Gospel of Matthew, we find, "That which you have heard with your ears, proclaim from the rooftops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the spirit; fear him who can kill the spirit and cast the body into hellfire" [cf. Matthew 10:27-28].

This is what may be found in the Gospel, and it agrees with the Qur'ān in this respect. Christ has said that he delivers his body to death and will go to the kingdom of heaven. He also spoke of those who kill the body but cannot kill the spirit. This saying of his is in agreement with the words of the Almighty in the Qur'ān, "Assuredly they killed him not but God raised him up to Him" [Q. 4:157-58]. In another verse, God said, in addressing Christ, "I shall cause you to die and make you ascent to Me" [Q. 3:55]. In yet another verse, quoting Christ, God says, "I was a witness to them while I lived among them, but when You caused me to die, it was You who kept watch over them. You are a witness over all things" [Q. 5:117]. This means: You wee a witness for them while You remained among them. Then he says, "But when You caused me to die, it was You who kept watch over them. You are a witness over all things." This proves that God the Almighty caused him to die when he disappeared from them. Hence, the Qur'ān is in agreement with the Gospel in respect of the fact that God cause him to die and ascent to Him, and that he is alive with God. This interpretation is correct with reference to both the Qur'ān and the Gospel. Accordingly, the claim advanced by the heretic that the Qur'ān contradicts the Gospel in this respect is false. (Abū Hātim al-Rāzi: The Proofs of Prophecy - A parallel English-Arabic text, translated, introduced, and annotated by Tarif Khalidi, 2011, pp. 124, 125.)


Abū Bakr al-Rāzi was a humanist, and argued that there is no such thing as supernatural revelation, and that our Universe needs no such revelation to explain its existence. A 'tool' utilized in his attack on supernatural revelation was to claim that the Bible and Qur'ān contradicted each other, but Abū Hātim al-Rāzi refutes such claims, exposing "the heretic" for what he is: a pure humanist who allows no place for God in the lives of mankind.

In ending, with respect to the interpretation of Surah 4.157-158, I ask: will you side with the humanist or with the theist ???

[*Abū Hātim al-Rāzi incorrectly attributes the passage to John, it is actually from the first epistle of Peter.]


Grace and peace,

David

36 comments:

Rory said...

Hi Dave.

That seems a reasonable way of looking at that particular passage from the Koran. It seems especially valuable in proving that Muslims aren't forced by their holy book to deny Christ's death by crucifixion. I think I would go that direction as a Muslim now that I see the argument.

I don't expect a religion that replaced Christianity to agree with that Christianity after it had become corrupt. Would Christians be more excited about the Koran if only Surah 4 was gone? It almost sounds like it from some who spend energy expounding on what they think somebody else's book says. I really don't understand why Christians waste their breath pounding on the Koran with their own private interpretations regarding what it says about the crucifixion.

As a Catholic Christian, I don't care if the Koran teaches the Trinity and the primacy of the pope. My problem is that the Koran is not compatible with Catholic views of a finished canon with the death of the last of the Apostles of Christ. That being the case, unless those who believe in the Koran can explain why Catholicism was already apostate at the time of Muhammed, it isn't Scripture and it doesn't make much difference that it agrees with what I believe in many respects.

One of the reasons I like discussions with Mormons is that they have given this question of the Apostasy a lot of thought. I would frankly find Islamic/Koranic discussions more interesting if I thought they had grappled with the problems associated with declaring the Catholic Church apostate. I don't get the impression from the Koran that the author was even familiar with the Catholic faith. I have read it twice and I think I remember this apologetic about how Jesus couldn't be God because He was hungry. The author didn't even know about two natures in Christ! The argument is almost embarrassingly uninformed. But maybe that is my own private and mistaken interpretation of how to read the Koran? I suppose it is possible that many informed readers of the Koran find that it speaks eloquently as to what went wrong in the Catholic Church. I did not detect that.

It seems to me that the writers of the Christian Scriptures were intimately familiar with the Jewish religion which they claimed passed away with the birth of the Church. Do you ever get the impression that Jesus and His Apostles were ignorant about the religion founded by Moses? I would be troubled if I did. It would make me need to consider Judaism. For that reason, I think Muslims should consider Christian claims at least to the point of developing a polemic against the Catholic faith. I think this becomes even more important as it appears from this thread that Muslims accept more of the Christian Scriptures than I had thought.

I found the moral teachings of the Koran to be mostly compatible with what I have been taught as a Christian. I don't recall finding where it insists on the right to force people to become Muslims. I found some of its lofty reflections about God to be comparable to the Psalms.

Nevertheless I gained the impression that the author of the Koran wasn't very well informed about my faith. Maybe it was my biased readings. Other than my Catholic faith getting in the way, I didn't see too much else wrong with the Koran...but that is more than enough. They need to deal with the Catholic faith before I could ever wonder if the Koran was Scripture.

I think we have a pretty good idea about when and why a Jew should have become a Christian. At what point historically, and what events would have signalled a similar need to give up Christianity, in search of a new prophet and his book?

Rory

Ken said...

Part of the problem of confirming the basics of this; is that you didn't include his full name - Abu Bakr Muhammad Zakaria Al Razi
(If the Muslim Philosophy website is correct, which I have no reason to doubt)

http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/H043.htm

And the wikipedia article does not include the "Abu Bakr" part of his name, so this is really confusing when someone tries to get a handle on who exactly this guy is, that you are talking about.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_Zakariya_al-Razi

I had heard of Al Razi the scientist, etc. - many Muslims use him in their speeches on the greatness of the golden age of Islam and science. So I knew about him, generally. Many people have heard of Al Razi - but once another Al Razi is brought into the discussion, it is important to get their full names so we can distinguish, etc.

If Abu Bakr Muhamamd Zakaria Al Razi didn't believe in supernatural revelation, that means he didn't believe in the inspiration of the Qur'an at all, and that it was just a human book, put together by a human or humans. Did he get in trouble with the authorities for that?

____

It is still amazing to me that you are trying to salvage Surah 4:157 as somehow not denying the bodily crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Even though that was an interpretation - which I noticed that is the interpretation that Lawson and some others that you have mentioned before have taken; it is very strained and not credible - it just doesn't pass the smell test with the plain reading of the text.

For him to take 1 Peter 3:18 the way he did is just not credible, because "He was put to death in the flesh" - that means Jesus really died for 3 days (part of Friday, all of Sat. and part of Sunday)

That view seems to be saying, " They did kill Jesus on the cross physically, but not really, since His soul didn't die and He rose from the dead and went to heaven, therefore they really didn't "kill" Him. " That just seems to stretch things beyond language and normal communication.

You seem to spend a lot of energy, time, and money (ordering hard to find books) in order to seemingly make Islam compatible with Christianity, to seemingly then make Sunni Islam credible as a further revelation, in order to make Shiite Islam and Ismailism (? maybe, here as you use an Ismail missionary - a form of Shiite Islam - "Sevener" - belief in only Seven Imams rather than 12) credible and then in order to try and make Bahai'ism credible. That is what it honestly seems like you are trying to do.

But Jude 3 is clear - the faith was once for all delivered to the saints", therefore there is no more revelation after the 27 NT books. Someone who claims to have the Holy Spirit will not be looking for something else, but keep on meditating on the 66 books of revelation that stopped with the death of the apostle John and the last book of the NT, whether it was Jude or the book of Revelation.

I realize I have written this before to you; but it bears repeating again here.

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Thanks much for taking the time to respond. You wrote:

==I don't expect a religion that replaced Christianity to agree with that Christianity after it had become corrupt. Would Christians be more excited about the Koran if only Surah 4 was gone? It almost sounds like it from some who spend energy expounding on what they think somebody else's book says. I really don't understand why Christians waste their breath pounding on the Koran with their own private interpretations regarding what it says about the crucifixion.==

Me: Interesting take, but I think an important point needs to be made concerning corruption. If we place ourselves back to the beginning of Christianity, how would the new Christians describe the Jewish religion: totally corrupt, partially corrupt, some sects (but not all) corrupt; I do not think it absurd to do the same with Christianity and Islam.

==As a Catholic Christian, I don't care if the Koran teaches the Trinity and the primacy of the pope. My problem is that the Koran is not compatible with Catholic views of a finished canon with the death of the last of the Apostles of Christ. That being the case, unless those who believe in the Koran can explain why Catholicism was already apostate at the time of Muhammed, it isn't Scripture and it doesn't make much difference that it agrees with what I believe in many respects.==

Me: I agree with you that faithful Catholics should not accept the Qur'an as corporate revelation, private perhaps, but not corporate; that is, unless a Catholic came to understand that Muhammad was the return of Jesus (in the John the Baptist/Elijah sense). Few know that Muhammad in a Shi'a tradition stated that, "I am Jesus", and another that, "I am all the prophets".

==One of the reasons I like discussions with Mormons is that they have given this question of the Apostasy a lot of thought. I would frankly find Islamic/Koranic discussions more interesting if I thought they had grappled with the problems associated with declaring the Catholic Church apostate. I don't get the impression from the Koran that the author was even familiar with the Catholic faith. I have read it twice and I think I remember this apologetic about how Jesus couldn't be God because He was hungry. The author didn't even know about two natures in Christ! The argument is almost embarrassingly uninformed. But maybe that is my own private and mistaken interpretation of how to read the Koran? I suppose it is possible that many informed readers of the Koran find that it speaks eloquently as to what went wrong in the Catholic Church. I did not detect that.==

Me: By the time of Muhammad, we know from Catholic and Orthodox authors that over 100 'Christian' sects existed, and many of those sects flourished in the Arabian peninsula. It would seem a bit odd to me if the Qur'an singled out the beliefs of just one of those sects (i.e. Latin Christianity, which, btw, was not even the largest at that time).

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

==It seems to me that the writers of the Christian Scriptures were intimately familiar with the Jewish religion which they claimed passed away with the birth of the Church. Do you ever get the impression that Jesus and His Apostles were ignorant about the religion founded by Moses? I would be troubled if I did. It would make me need to consider Judaism. For that reason, I think Muslims should consider Christian claims at least to the point of developing a polemic against the Catholic faith. I think this becomes even more important as it appears from this thread that Muslims accept more of the Christian Scriptures than I had thought.==

Me: I am sure that you are aware that most of the debates taking place today between 'Christians' and 'Muslims' are between some type of Evangelical apologist (most of whom do not believe that Roman Catholicism is Christian !!!) and Sunnis (though the largest Islamic sect, there are dozens of smaller sects who do not believe that they are true Muslims). I say all this because there are questions as to which sect of Judaism, which sect of Christianity and which sect of Islam is the 'true' one.

==I found the moral teachings of the Koran to be mostly compatible with what I have been taught as a Christian. I don't recall finding where it insists on the right to force people to become Muslims. I found some of its lofty reflections about God to be comparable to the Psalms.

Nevertheless I gained the impression that the author of the Koran wasn't very well informed about my faith. Maybe it was my biased readings. Other than my Catholic faith getting in the way, I didn't see too much else wrong with the Koran...but that is more than enough. They need to deal with the Catholic faith before I could ever wonder if the Koran was Scripture.==

Me: Without a clear understanding and acceptance of what constitutes 'true' Christianity and 'true' Islam it would be very difficult carry out your challenge.

==I think we have a pretty good idea about when and why a Jew should have become a Christian. At what point historically, and what events would have signalled a similar need to give up Christianity, in search of a new prophet and his book?==

Me: Some 'food-for-thought' concerning the above: very few Jews accepted the claims of Jesus Christ and His apostles (it wasn't until I read the book, "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus that I came to a good understanding of why). But, some Jews were expecting the Messiah, and accepted His claims. The same is true concerning Muhammad, a few Christians were expecting advent of a new prophet and accepted his claims. Anyway, these are very complex issues you have raised, and the combox is not the best format to explore them.

In ending, I would like to make it clear that it is not my goal to convince you that the Qur'an is corporate revelation from God. Though I am 'open' to that possibility, I have not done so myself, so it would be folly on my part to become an apologist for the book. My goal is merely to give others 'food-for-thought' and help them realize that the 'standard' anti-Qur'an/Islam apologetic works on these issues are significantly flawed.


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Good to see you back. You posted:

==Part of the problem of confirming the basics of this; is that you didn't include his full name - Abu Bakr Muhammad Zakaria Al Razi
(If the Muslim Philosophy website is correct, which I have no reason to doubt)

http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/H043.htm

And the wikipedia article does not include the "Abu Bakr" part of his name, so this is really confusing when someone tries to get a handle on who exactly this guy is, that you are talking about.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_Zakariya_al-Razi==

Me: Not seeing the "problem" Ken. When I Googled Abu Hatim al-Razi the first hit was the correct one; and when I Googled Abu Bakr al-Razi the first hit was the correct one.

==I had heard of Al Razi the scientist, etc. - many Muslims use him in their speeches on the greatness of the golden age of Islam and science. So I knew about him, generally. Many people have heard of Al Razi - but once another Al Razi is brought into the discussion, it is important to get their full names so we can distinguish, etc.==

Me: Once again, I had no problem distinguishing between Abu Hatim al-Razi and Abu Bakr al-Razi, so I don't know what to say.

==If Abu Bakr Muhamamd Zakaria Al Razi didn't believe in supernatural revelation, that means he didn't believe in the inspiration of the Qur'an at all, and that it was just a human book, put together by a human or humans. Did he get in trouble with the authorities for that?==

In the "Translator's Introduction" we read:

"He [Abu Bakr al-Razi] takes no trouble whatever to hide his utter contempt for all religions and prophets, describing their basic creeds as myths and superstitions and attacking religious scholars for their irrational and ludicrous beliefs that serve only to increase enmity among mankind." (Page xvii)

I don't know "he g[o]t into trouble with the authorities for that".

==It is still amazing to me that you are trying to salvage Surah 4:157 as somehow not denying the bodily crucifixion and death of Jesus.==

Me: And it is at least equally amazing to me that you keep rejecting the incredible amount of scholarship that sides with my position.

==Even though that was an interpretation - which I noticed that is the interpretation that Lawson and some others that you have mentioned before have taken; it is very strained and not credible - it just doesn't pass the smell test with the plain reading of the text.==

Me: There is NO "plain reading of the text". According to a number of Arabic scholars, the Arabic in this particularly passage anything but plain, so I must reject your posturing here.

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

==For him to take 1 Peter 3:18 the way he did is just not credible, because "He was put to death in the flesh" - that means Jesus really died for 3 days (part of Friday, all of Sat. and part of Sunday)

That view seems to be saying, " They did kill Jesus on the cross physically, but not really, since His soul didn't die and He rose from the dead and went to heaven, therefore they really didn't "kill" Him. " That just seems to stretch things beyond language and normal communication.==

Me: 1 Peter 3:18 throughout history has been open to many differing interpretations among Christians. Abu Hatim al-Razi's interpretation is among them, and as such, is valid.

==You seem to spend a lot of energy, time, and money (ordering hard to find books) in order to seemingly make Islam compatible with Christianity, to seemingly then make Sunni Islam credible as a further revelation, in order to make Shiite Islam and Ismailism (? maybe, here as you use an Ismail missionary - a form of Shiite Islam - "Sevener" - belief in only Seven Imams rather than 12) credible and then in order to try and make Bahai'ism credible. That is what it honestly seems like you are trying to do.==

Me: The books published in the "Islamic Translation Series" are anything but "hard to find". Fact is, it is a highly recognized series among those who are involved in Islamic studies. Reviews of the books are readily available on the internet and in scholarly journals.

Now, not wanting to sound harsh, but I was thinking to myself while typing up this thread that Ken would side with the humanist al-Razi and reject wholesale the cogent and reasonable defense of the theistic al-Razi. I sincerely had hoped that my intuition would turn out to be wrong, but alas, such was not the case...


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

:)

Smile - yeah it did seem you may have had me in mind in these posts.

Like I side with agnostic Bart Ehrman and liberal skeptic John Dominic Crossan that Jesus was crucified and died in history vs. Monotheists Muslims who deny Jesus was crucified and died in history.

Sometimes atheists and humanists and skeptics get an issue right; and sometimes Theists and Monotheists get something wrong.

It depends on what the issue is.

Ken said...

Are you leaning more positively toward imbracing Bahai'ism?

Rory said...

Hi Ken,

You can talk about plain meaning of texts, but the fact seems to be that a significant number of Koran scholars disagree.

What does the Koran really say? What does it really mean? Since you don't consider it Scripture, I guess the only one who could tell us would be the human author. With him gone, it seems reasonable to look to the people who believe in it. It doesn't matter what we unbelievers think. The "smell test" for me is whatever followers of the Koran think it says. Nothing else matters.

As I indicated, my mind is closed to the idea that the Koran is public revelation. But that doesn't mean I need it to be as wrong as possible. Maybe I don't perfectly see how they get there, but I can be pleased that not all followers of the Koran are opposed to a central article of the Apostles Creed.

Rory

Rory said...

Hi Ken,

It would seem we were composing our posts at the same time last evening.

I notice you asked the blog host about his intentions concerning the Bahai Faith. Whether he is or not, should have nothing to do with how we evaluate the question raised. It doesn't help you be a better Reformed Baptist, or me to be a better Roman Catholic, or Dave be a better Dave, to be misinformed. It is always better to understand others accurately. Even if we must judge them mistaken in general, we still acknowledge what is correct in particulars.

It seems like your fears about where facts might lead is affecting your judgment on the matter. If I thought by misunderstanding the Koran it would lead to being a Roman Catholic I would oppose the misunderstanding. If I think I have to support an untruth to save a soul, I am mixed up. Nobody is wrong about everything, and if reading the Koran makes a significant number of readers believe in the crucifixion and death of Christ, who are we to gainsay it?

Misrepresentation of error never helped anybody to be closer to the truth. Error has no rights, except to be accurately presented in general and in particular.

Thanks for your consideration, Ken.

Regards,

Rory

Ken said...

Rory wrote:
You can talk about plain meaning of texts, but the fact seems to be that a significant number of Koran scholars disagree.

Though David W. has uncovered some Muslim scholars who interpret Surah 4:157 in that way of affirming the death and crucifixion of Jesus, the vast majority interpret it as denying the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross. It would be interesting to know some kind of general percentage, but I would guess the plain meaning I am arguing for is probably 80 -90 % or more of Muslims in the Muslim world; and only possibly the 20 % are in the western world where there is freedom to hold such a view. That said, that is just my guess - not scientific at all. It would be interesting to see some kind of more accurate assesssment of that. I wonder how man Islamic scholars in the Muslim world hold what David W. is arguing for; and how many outside of Islamic world hold to that.

I notice you asked the blog host about his intentions concerning the Bahai Faith. Whether he is or not, should have nothing to do with how we evaluate the question raised. It doesn't help you be a better Reformed Baptist, or me to be a better Roman Catholic, or Dave be a better Dave, to be misinformed. It is always better to understand others accurately. Even if we must judge them mistaken in general, we still acknowledge what is correct in particulars.

I agree with that.

But it just seems like that is what he is doing.

It seems like your fears about where facts might lead is affecting your judgment on the matter.

It is not really a "fear"; but it is a concern, which it should be to you also, as a Roman Catholic, for you agree with me that revelation stopped with the death of John and/or Jude 3 gives the principle. All other claims of revelation after that are false, as all other religions, Islam, Shiite or Sunni, Ismailism, and Bahai'ism.

Ken said...

Rory,
Do you think it is credible to interpret Surah 4:157 in a way that seems to put John 11:25 on it?

making it say the very opposite of what it clearly says?

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

Yesterday, you posted:

==Like I side with agnostic Bart Ehrman and liberal skeptic John Dominic Crossan that Jesus was crucified and died in history vs. Monotheists Muslims who deny Jesus was crucified and died in history.==

Me: But they both deny that he was resurrected, and they both believe the Bible is full of errors. Both men are apostates. Further, Ehrman does not believe that supernatural revelation exists (don't know about Crossan on this). One's presuppositions matter, and if one begins with the presuppositions of either Ehrman or Crossan one will ultimately end up denying all the Abrahamic faiths. That you invoke such men comes as quite a shock to me—such strange bedfellows !!!

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Ken,

Earlier today, you wrote:

==Though David W. has uncovered some Muslim scholars who interpret Surah 4:157 in that way of affirming the death and crucifixion of Jesus, the vast majority interpret it as denying the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross. It would be interesting to know some kind of general percentage, but I would guess the plain meaning I am arguing for is probably 80 -90 % or more of Muslims in the Muslim world; and only possibly the 20 % are in the western world where there is freedom to hold such a view. That said, that is just my guess - not scientific at all. It would be interesting to see some kind of more accurate assesssment of that. I wonder how man Islamic scholars in the Muslim world hold what David W. is arguing for; and how many outside of Islamic world hold to that.==

This type of argumentation seems disingenuous when coming from a Baptist. Baptists are in the minority (easily less than 20%) on a number of important Christian issues: e.g. baptism of infants, Eucharistic real presence, baptismal regeneration, episcopal ministry. Baptists also deny the "plain" meaning of a good number of Biblical texts:

"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life" (John 6:54)

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16)

"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (1 Peter 3:21a)

"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (James 2:24)

"Who [God] will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life..." (Rom. 2:6, 7a)

"But to us there is but one God, the Father..." (1 Cor. 8:6)

There are many more, but I think the above shall suffice for now.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Don't know if you have read the other threads I have written on Surah 4.157 (all threads on this topic available HERE), but whether or not you have, I would like to point out that in THIS THREAD I provide links to a number of Christian sources that also side with my (and,of course, some important Muslim scholars) position.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

This type of argumentation seems disingenuous when coming from a Baptist. Baptists are in the minority (easily less than 20%) on a number of important Christian issues: . . .

That's a good point as far as Baptists being in the minority on some issues. Still, those issues - mostly on baptism and the Lord's supper issues, are way secondary compared to the issue of the historicity of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. You are comparing apples and oranges, it seems to me. The fact that all Christians agree that Jesus died in history (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc. Even liberals who deny the resurrection, which makes them unbelievers, affirm the history of the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

So, it is not disingenuous.
The evidence is too over-whelming, that is why you and those other scholars are working so hard to try and make the Qur'an NOT deny the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Are you getting closer to embracing Bahai'ism?

Ken said...

Both men are apostates. [Bart Ehrman and John Dominic Crossan]

I agree; and they face an eternity without God and without Christ and without eternal life; unless they repent before they die. They will have to answer for all the lies and attacks that they have promoted and caused many people to stumble.

All the more reason to see that their agreeing that Jesus really died in history is factual and truth and makes the Qur'an even more unreasonable and incredible as to logic and sane thinking.

That is why you are working so hard to redeem the Qur'an, because denying the crucifixion and death of Jesus is so . . . so . . . stupid.

Ken said...

"But to us there is but one God, the Father..." (1 Cor. 8:6) and one LORD (kurios) Jesus Christ

Richard Bauckham has some good exegetical commentary on that, that it is a splitting of the Shema of Deut. 6:4, "The Lord our God, the Lord is One . . .
Elohim and Greek equivalent is usually used for the Father, and Lord (Yahweh) and the Greek equivalent of Kurios is applied to Jesus all over the NT; but both are applied to the Father all through the Bible.

Plus Theos is applied to the Son in many places:
John 1:1
John 1:18
John 20:28
John 5:17-18
John 19:7

Romans 9:5 ". . . the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all, God (Theos) blessed forever. Amen"

Hebrews 1:8 - but of the Son, He says, "Your Throne, O God (Theos) is forever and ever . . . "

Your reading is hardly a "plain reading" compared to the Qur'an's 4:157

Ken said...

"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life" (John 6:54)

Easy to take that out of context and focus on it by itself, but studying the context of John 6:26-65 tells us that Jesus did not mean anything like what centuries later Roman Catholics interpreted it as. There is no transubstantiation there. The emphasis is on believing and faith all through passage. As Augustine said "To what purpose do you make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and you have eaten already."

Hardly a parallel with Surah 4:157, since there are no Ahadith on that verse, and that is the only verse in the Qur'an that addresses the issue.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16)

Not a good example, since it is not found in the oldest manuscripts. Mark 16:9-20 Also, the rest of the verse says, "but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." Baptism is the normal result of someone who truly believes, but baptism does not justify.

Not a good example, compared to the one verse of the Qur'an 4:157 and lack of Ahadith about it.


"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (1 Peter 3:21a)

"figure" (antitupon / αντιτυπον) or "coorespondence to" and also the explanation in the very verse - "NOT the removal of dirt from the flesh, but the appeal/answer to God for a good conscience" - not physical water, but the crying out for repentance and a good conscience - the cry of repentance over sin - internal, spiritual issue; - again, your failure to even quote the rest of the verse of this one and Mark 16 shows the vacuousness of your argument of comparing these verses to Surah 4:157 in their "plain meanings".

"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (James 2:24)

You know the Protestant arguments on how to deal with that.

You left out the whole context of James 2:14-26 and the order of the OT quotes and allusions shows that the good works are the proof and confirmation of true faith. Genesis 15:6 (quoted in James 2:23) comes before Genesis 22 (alluded to in James 2:21 - shows that James is using "justified" in a different way than Romans 3:9-28 and 4:1-16 and Romans chapter 5, and Galatians 2:16 and chapters 3 and 4; Phil. 3:9, etc.

Bad parallel to Surah 4:157 that is all alone and not much context. James 2 has a whole paragraph that give us contextual clues as to how to interpret it. Also, the way in which he uses "justify" is parallel with Luke 7:35 and Matthew 11:19 and 1 Timothy 3:16 - "to prove", "to confirm", "to vindicate".

"Who [God] will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life..." (Rom. 2:6, 7a)

One has to take that in the flow of Paul's argument from Romans 1:18 all the way to 3:31 - it is in the middle of an extended argument and in context, it can only mean
1. that true faith results in good works and will be rewarded. Final justification in heaven is the result of true faith on earth and the sanctification and perseverance that necessarily follows.
2. If one could do good deeds, they would be rewarded with eternal life, but the argument shows that no one can actually do good works by themselves without first having justifying faith in Christ alone for salvation.

So, again, bad example to compare to the lonely verse of 4:157 in the Qur'an about "plain meanings."

All of your examples have tons of context and commentary and history to interpret properly; whereas Surah 4:157 is all alone in the Qur'an and no Hadith on it for some 200 years.

Not any parallel examples. Your argument is defeated.

David Waltz said...

Good day Ken,

Appreciate your continued interest. Earlier today, you wrote:

==That's a good point as far as Baptists being in the minority on some issues. Still, those issues - mostly on baptism and the Lord's supper issues, are way secondary compared to the issue of the historicity of the crucifixion and death of Jesus.==

Me: If such issues are truly "secondary" then Lutherans, Reformed churches, Baptists, et al. should never have become schismatics, and should return to the Catholic Church.

==The fact that all Christians agree that Jesus died in history (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc. Even liberals who deny the resurrection, which makes them unbelievers, affirm the history of the crucifixion and death of Jesus.==

Me: All but some Gnostic Christians, who have been persecuted, murdered and maligned for centuries.

==The fact that all Christians agree that Jesus died in history (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc. Even liberals who deny the resurrection, which makes them unbelievers, affirm the history of the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

So, it is not disingenuous.
The evidence is too over-whelming, that is why you and those other scholars are working so hard to try and make the Qur'an NOT deny the crucifixion and death of Jesus.==

Me: It remains disingenuous due to the fact that not all Muslims deny that Jesus was crucified and died—I would argue that Muslims who deny this are apostate and the fact that those who deny are in the majority is not an argument that should be used by one who believes that most of the professing Christian world is also apostate—hence, the charge remains.

== Your reading is hardly a "plain reading" compared to the Qur'an's 4:157==

Me: The term "God" is applied to angels and men (even the Devil), but the phrase "one God" when specifically applied to a person is only applied to the Father; how can WHO the "one God" is get any PLAINER ???

But in the Qur'an, there are PLAIN ayah which state that Jesus did die; given this fact, along with the fact that ayat 4.157 has had a number of different interpretations among Muslim commentators, your attempt to redeem your claim of "plain reading" remains seriously flawed.

== Easy to take that out of context and focus on it by itself, but studying the context of John 6:26-65 tells us that Jesus did not mean anything like what centuries later Roman Catholics interpreted it as. There is no transubstantiation there. The emphasis is on believing and faith all through passage. As Augustine said "To what purpose do you make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and you have eaten already."==

Me: Centuries later ??? Not true, the real presence view begins in the 2nd century. And further, High Anglicans, Lutherans, and the EO believe that the Eucharistic is truly the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

== All of your examples have tons of context and commentary and history to interpret properly; whereas Surah 4:157 is all alone in the Qur'an and no Hadith on it for some 200 years.==

Me: The death of Jesus in the Qur'an is not limited to just ayat 4.157—but, you know this—so the claim that "Surah 4:157 is all alone in the Qur'an" is false.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Me: If such issues are truly "secondary" then Lutherans, Reformed churches, Baptists, et al. should never have become schismatics, and should return to the Catholic Church.

The issues of baptism and Lord's supper are secondary within Protestantism and compared to the crucifixion/atonement.

James 2 and Romans 2 are not secondary and exegeted those more consistently to context, grammar, harmony with other passages.

return to the [Roman] Catholic Church? never, it is an apostate and false church. None of those groups should to the Roman Church. It is not even "catholic" as to the early church; it drifted away from the early church and has added so many false doctrines that it is not even a proper church.

Ken said...

James 2 and Romans 2 are not secondary and I exegeted those more consistently to context, grammar, harmony with other passages.

David Waltz said...

Ken,

Heading out of town early tomorrow for a short vacation, so a detailed response will have to wait until my return (Monday).

A few items for you until then (I am addressing your posts from other threads too):

First, you did not answer my question if Jesus worshipped the "One God".

Second, the notion that the "one God" was someone or something other than God the Father has no extant written support until the middle of the 4th century.

Third, your take on justification was a 16th century "theological novem" (per McGrath and other Protestant scholars). The following threads reflect on the complex issue of justification:

Justification always forensic ?

Justification - Fr. Kimmel

iustificare

a number of threads worth reading


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

You are trying to force the exact words "one God" as only applicable to the Father. But Jesus is God also - John 1:1, 20:28; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:3,6,8; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:15-20, John 8:24; John 5:17-18; John 8:56-58; 10:27-36, etc.

So, I answered your question - while on earth, Jesus worshipped the Father.

the Holy Spirit is God also, Acts 5:3-5, John 14, John 16, Genesis 1:2, etc.

so the one God is "The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit - the Trinity.

--

on Justification by faith alone, James Swan has an excellent analysis of Alistair McGrath's infamous statement:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2006/08/alister-mcgrath-on-augustine-and.html

Rory said...

Hi Ken,

You asked me a day or two ago about whether I think the interpretation given by the blog host of this passage of the Koran is "credible".

The first time I read that passage, I thought it was clear according to how you understand the meaning. I certainly see why you think it means what it appears to mean. So how do you explain this view, in the minority, but nevertheless significant, which appears to include many with academic credentials? I would say that like you and I and Dave, they can see an "apparent meaning". But they have seemingly accumulated plausible evidence from within the Koran for reconciling belief in the crucifixion and physical death
of Christ with the passage in question.

I think the best way to reply is to point out how there are biblical passages which if isolated from its context can appear to teach something that it does not.

With the Bible, the context is further modified by its relationship with the entire corpus of inspired literature. 66 books for you. These have to be reconciled. Although we deny that the Koran is inspired by God and might have internal inconsistencies, it seems like we have to allow its believing expositors to use the same principles as we sometimes do to to explain texts in a way that might have a different meaning than one would take at face value.

I think Dave listed several such biblical passages that you would insist be modified according to your own faith tradition and the rest of your Scriptures. Because you do the same things with your Bible, and I do the same thing with the Catholic Scriptures, I believe it is indeed credible, and even necessary, to allow that devout Muslims can study the Koran and believe in the crucifixion and death of Christ.

Of course, I allow the same credibility and necessity to a denial of the crucifixion on the same principles. The majority of Muslims take that position. For that reason, I take the position that the Koran alone cannot resolve the controversies that those who believe have with each other.

There is no "true interpreter" of the Koran. There is no one on earth with the authority to give an official interpretation of uninspired literature. All we can do is recognize significant differences of opinion and admit that the words of the Koran alone are inadequate to resolve ongoing controversy.

Rory

Rory said...

Wow Ken...we were composing at the same times again! Heh.

Ken said...

Rory,
Good answer and I appreciate it.

Still, all of the modern scholars who David W. is using are in the west.

Yes, there is some of that view that he has uncovered in ancient Islam.

But all of those scholars he quotes from are in the west and they have that freedom. They don't have that freedom in the Muslim world. The majority position is to deny that Jesus was crucified or died; and I have never met a Muslim in evangelism who didn't follow that position. It seems to be an ivory tower debate that it is not applicable to evangelism to most average Muslims, since they all deny the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

Back from my trip and ready to respond to your 02-22-14 post, wherein you wrote:

==You are trying to force the exact words "one God" as only applicable to the Father. But Jesus is God also - John 1:1, 20:28; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:3,6,8; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:15-20, John 8:24; John 5:17-18; John 8:56-58; 10:27-36, etc.

So, I answered your question - while on earth, Jesus worshipped the Father.==

Me: That was NOT my question, my question was/is: did Jesus worship the "One God" ?

==on Justification by faith alone, James Swan has an excellent analysis of Alistair McGrath's infamous statement:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2006/08/alister-mcgrath-on-augustine-and.html==

Me: James' "excellent analysis of Alistair McGrath's infamous statement", is hardly "excellent"; I found his "conclusions" to be extremely weak on a number points. For instance, James Swan wrote:

== Second, was Augustine’s view a “theological novum” (a favorite phrase Roman Catholics culled from McGrath)? Who previous to Augustine understood the term the way he did? Consider what McGrath notes: "The pre-Augustinian theological tradition, however, may be regarded as having taken a highly questionable path in its articulation of the doctrine of justification in the face of pagan opposition" [ibid. 18-19]. McGrath mentions that "For the first three hundred and fifty years of the history of the church, her teaching on justification was inchoate and ill-defined"[ Ibid. 23]. So, where is Augustine's view in the early church?==

Me: It seems that James and Dr. McGrath completely forgot about Origen's massive commentary on St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, wherein we get a very good understanding of how he "understood the term" (i.e. justification); which understanding happens to be virtually identical with Augustine's understanding.

And again:

== Fifth, one must question the infallibility of Trent who "reaffirmed" Augustine's view, when Augustine put forth a misinterpretation of a Hebrew concept, and also put forth a "theological novum".==

Me: A couple of points: first, there are a number of modern scholars he do not believe that Augustine " put forth a misinterpretation of a Hebrew concept; and second, Augustine's view was not a "theological novum".

Further, I found nothing in James' post/thread which indicated that Dr. McGrath's statement concerning Luther was in error, so I am truly wondering why you linked to it...


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

In another post on the 22nd, you wrote:

==Still, all of the modern scholars who David W. is using are in the west.

Yes, there is some of that view that he has uncovered in ancient Islam.

But all of those scholars he quotes from are in the west and they have that freedom. They don't have that freedom in the Muslim world. The majority position is to deny that Jesus was crucified or died; and I have never met a Muslim in evangelism who didn't follow that position. It seems to be an ivory tower debate that it is not applicable to evangelism to most average Muslims, since they all deny the crucifixion and death of Jesus.==

Me: You have forgotten about the Antioch, Turkey website. Further, I really question evangelism that takes the 'easy road'. I much prefer the 'road' that the folk at Evidence for God's Unchanging Word have taken when it comes to the interpretation of Surah 4.157 (see THIS LINK); not only do I believe it is the more honest approach, it is ultimately the most accurate.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Evidence for God's Unchanging Word is a good web-site, and thanks for reminding me of that.

I will have to go over it again. A lot of good stuff there.

What is the Antioch, Turkey website?

David Waltz said...

Good morning Ken,

Concerning the website from Antioch, Turkey, check out the following link:

What does the Quran say about the crucifixion of Jesus?


Grace and peace,

David

ANNOYED PINOY said...

David, from the little I've read of your blog I'm convinced that you're really knowledgeable and a diligent seeker of the truth.

So, it only makes sense that your spiritual journey is of interest to fellow seekers. Last I heard you left Catholicism. Have you returned? Are you a Christian of another sect? Or no longer a Christian at all? Is there a link dedicated to explaining your current theological views which is constantly updated?

David Waltz said...

Hi AP,

Thanks much for your interest in my little blog. Earlier today, you posted:

==David, from the little I've read of your blog I'm convinced that you're really knowledgeable and a diligent seeker of the truth.==

Me: I sincerely appreciate your kind thoughts. I think I can affirm your second assessment with what I believe to be a personal, solid conviction; as for the first, I really do try to be well read on the subjects I write about, yet I cannot help but think that there is still so much to learn.

==Last I heard you left Catholicism. Have you returned?==

Me: No, I have not returned. Though I have not totally eliminated the RCC as the fellowship that God would have me to attend, some important issues have kept me from returning.

==Are you a Christian of another sect?==

Me: I have not joined any other church/denomination. I tend to be very methodical/slow when making ecclesiastical changes.

==Or no longer a Christian at all?==

Me: I still consider myself a Christian.

==Is there a link dedicated to explaining your current theological views which is constantly updated?==

Me: I do not have a thread dedicated to detailing my current theological views. To be forthcoming, there really is not a lot of points of theology that I am solidly dogmatic on. Yet, with that said, my doctrine of God/theology proper is one of the few that I have solid convictions on. My position is accurately summed up in my:

5 propositions concerning God and the Godhead

If you have any further questions and/or comments, please feel free to fire away...


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. I noticed your relatively new blog Trinity Notes; I hope to read through the threads this weekend, the Lord willing.

ANNOYED PINOY said...

Me: I still consider myself a Christian.

I'm really glad to hear that. :-)) I did notice that in many recent posts you referred to "the Lord", but I wasn't sure which conception of God.

P.S. I noticed your relatively new blog Trinity Notes; I hope to read through the threads this weekend, the Lord willing.

All my blogs are very basic. If there's anything sophisticated in them it's because I'm quoting or linking to someone else's work.

There's nothing on the Trinity in my blog which you haven't already read in basic Evangelical resources.

But I am intrigued by the return to something closer to Nicene orthodoxy by you, Drake Shelton, and Ryan (Hedrich?). Though there are differences even among yourselves. It was a surprise to me to discover that Constantinopolitan orthodoxy contradicts Nicene orthodoxy.

The doctrine of God has always been something I've struggled to understand. So, with the help of each of your blogs, I'm investigating the case for Nicene Monarchism.

徐马可 said...

Annoyed Pinoy,

Are you the one that I have exchanged some thoughts with on Steve Hayes's blog site?

Glad that you have found David's blog, it is a treasure box full of very useful stuff, plus David is very gentle and meek, I have learned a lots of things in this blog.

Thanks,

Mark

ANNOYED PINOY said...

Mark, yes I am that same Annoyed Pinoy.