Statesboro, GA, USA
I have known a number of devout (moderate) Moslems not only in Indonesia, which is predominantly Moslem, but here in the States. I know they would be very offended to think that people believe they do not hold Jesus in a very special light. The five pillars of Islam are their prophets. When they refer to a prophet, they speak his name with venerating adjectives in front of it, like "Blessed be his name."
As I said before, on the surface, calling someone a 'prophet' would seem to be an honor. It's only in light of the revelation of who Jesus claimed to be, that this title becomes problematic. It's not the positive aspect of the statment, but the potentially negative. The epithet "prophet" may become a denial of something else. Christians understand that Jesus is a prophet, but do not typically limit him to that, in light of certain scriptures where he certainly (even if couched in enigmatic language) declared his deity.
But given the importance of such things, and the zeal of Islamic belief, potential offense (on both sides of the question) shouldn't be surprising.
When Jesus was brought before the Pharisees, he was asked if he was the son of God. He answered by saying that that is what they called him. To me, the way I interpret the Koran, they claimed it blasphemny for Jesus to be put in the position of the only son of God, arguing that God is the creator of all -- in other words our Father, too. In fact, Jesus himself instructed his disciples to pray, "Our Father."
There are many many Biblical scriptures which speak of the deity of Christ. Some are more clear than others. And the one you mentioned is a good place for us to start. I want to let you see this scripture with the surrounding verses:
"And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, 'Art thou the Christ? tell us'.
And he said unto them, 'If I tell you, ye will not believe'. 'And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go'. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
Then said they all, 'Art thou then the Son of God?'
And he said unto them, 'Ye say that I am.'
And they said, 'What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth'." (Luke 22:69-71)
First of all, I only used the King James Version because it is one of few translations with the phrase "Ye say that I am". I'll go ahead and make my case with the text that seems most disadvantageous to my view. But most other translations correctly use dynamic equivalency to convey that this idiom meant something like our contemporary phrase, "You said it." And though I may be oversimplifying by comparing it to one of our own colloquialisms, there's no doubt that saying of Jesus was an affirmative reply, in accordance with current usage, not a denial.
And this view is evidenced in the KJV text, by the reply of the scribes and priests in verse 71: "What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of his own mouth." It would seem that Jesus had got himself off the hook, if his statement was a denial of claiming to be the son of God. Remember that his whole charge was one of religious blasphemy (on part of the Jews), and political subversion (on part of the Romans). Whatever one may think, it's evident that these religious Jews took Jesus' statement to be affirmative. And in context of the passage that makes sense.
It is further affirmed by other sayings of Jesus, such as:
"He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'
Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'
Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.'" (Matthew 16:15-17)
Why would Jesus affirm the confession at one point and deny it at another?
I guess my argument is, how do you know for a fact, that their truth is not just as true as your truth.
First of all, I don't hold that two contradictory statements can be true. Either Jesus claimed to be more than just a prophet, or he didn't. And the case for the former is not something that I can prove in a philosophy forum, beyond showing that it makes the best sense of the data we have.
Jesus said, he was the light and we had to go through him in order to get to the Father. Well, I do not see how the Moslems I know have any different thought in that direction.
Colin Chapman, in his book "Cross and Crescent" said the following:
"The basic reason Jesus cannot be seen by the Qur'an as 'more than a prophet' is that he does not fit into the Islamic understanding of how God has revealed himself to the world ... Islam rules out the possibility of God revealing himself through an incarnation. For Muslims, therefore, however exalted Jesus may be, he cannot possibly be anything more than a person of 'surpassing greatness'."
Islam views Jesus as a necessary carrier of the message of God for his time. Beyond that, according to Muslims, he is not necessary for anyone to "go through" to get to the Father ... at least no more than any of the other prophets, especially Mohammed.
Now the question is, did Jesus really speak of himself in such local terms, or in much more universal language? Aside from what you personally believe, I think if you study this out, you'll find that there really is a difference in the way the Bible portrays Jesus' role, and the way Muslims do.
The way that Islam has gotten around the texts of the New Testament, is to claim them to be corrupted. But this is little more than a claim, based upon theological differences. There is no evidence given to show that the gospels and early Christian writings were "corrupted" by those who came later. This is where Islam runs into historical recontructionism.
Me:"Either Jesus was a Liar, a Lunatic, or Lord. Either he was what he claimed, or we have to say he was either crazy or very immoral."
Iliana: Stephanos, I do not believe that is the only conclusion one can reach.
I already know you believe that. But if the data we have in the gospels is accurate, as to what Jesus did and claimed, then there is really no other alternative. And if you are making a case otherwise, you are right in choosing to cast doubt upon the authenticity of the canonical writings, because it’s pretty much futile to try and make a case for the mere humanity of Jesus from the New Testament as it stands. But as the discussion continues, I will try and make a case for Jesus’ divine nature from scripture, and explain why the canonical gospels are more historically valid than the Koran, or the pseudepigraphal writings.
It is all semantics....all the arguments and wars over interpretation...I honestly do not believe the Jesus I know would have wanted that.
But you just told me that you believe Jesus to be a mere man, filled with God ... rather than God incarnate. Which tells me that you don’t really think it’s all “just semantics”. But, let me add, that I don’t think any amount of disagreement gives you or I the right to be nasty to each other. So I agree with your distaste of the contempt that has flowed from religious disagreement. However, the debate, and the tedious process of looking for some degree of precision in communication, I think was (and is) necessary for understanding. Even Jesus said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I gather from that, that the controversy of truth doesn't always unite people. Still that doesn’t make the intensity, an excuse to sin against someone else.
I guess my point is that the degree of controversy over something (and the boiling over of controversy into despicable acts) is no evidence that it is pointless, or unimportant. Rather it is only evidence of our sinfulness and immaturity to handle the subject at hand. But thankfully, I feel that you and I are busy being exceptions to that rule.
The Christian trinity concept was an invention long after Jesus walked the earth. Christianity did not start out with the concept of the Trinity
That’s really the question at hand, whether or not Trinitarian doctrine was a contrived doctrine, or a natural outflow of the data we have in the New Testament. I don’t really see any alternative to Trinitarian doctrine if Jesus is the incarnation of God. It is a doctrine which was deductively arrived at by the premises found in scripture. And so rather than argue with you about the obvious fact that the word “Trinity” isn’t found in the New Testament, I’d like to visit some of the scriptures which illustrate (in varying degrees) the deity of Jesus Christ.
I’ll start with a few passages out of the Gospels (with relevant phrases underlined):
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. ...
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'”
“ (Jesus said) ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’
So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’
Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’
“And He (Jesus) was saying to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”
“And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’
Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?’
‘Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’--He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.’"
“And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son.’”
“But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God’.
Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy’.”
Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’
He answered, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’
Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.’
And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped Him.”
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit ...’”
There are many more passages, especially in the epistles of Paul, and other canonical writings. But I wanted to demonstrate that the deity of Christ was not some kind of political invention which sprang out of the council or Nicea, or 3rd century Christendom, but was present in an unsophisticated form from the very earliest times.
You did not mention any valid sources on where you came up with how Mohammad may have been influenced by tales along the trail. That is mere conjecture.
Detailed documentation isn’t needed when there are things in the Koran like misrepresenting the Trinity as “Father, Son, and Virgin Mary” ... a definite reflection of a Christian heresy / distortion. Also there is reference to Jesus changing clay pigeons to real ones, which is from the “gospel of Thomas”, an aphoristic and fanciful gnostic text of the 2nd Century. Not only are these there, but we have Mohammed’s life history, where we have Islam sources citing his personal relations with Christian Monks. Also Mecca and Medina were both towns on a caravan route. And Mohammed himself was a member of prosperous trading family, and was even a trader himself. His exposure and influence by coptic Christianity and various sects and blends of doctrine, is a given.
Oh, forgot to mention something, did you read the Surah that shows that Mohammad said Jesus (Isa) was the Messiah. That's a pretty important one, don't you think?
Yes it is. But there’s a wide definition of what is meant by “Messiah”. It is important to note that according to the Gospels, many of the Jews had a conception of “Messiah” with political overtones that Jesus outright rejected. I’m only trying to suggest that calling someone a title, doesn’t guarantee accuracy. That’s why other assertions in the Koran should be considered in our evaluation, alongside titles like "messiah" or "prophet".
As for the resurrection story, have you ever read the Christian Gnostic Gospels, Acts of John, "Mystery of the Cross?"
The “Acts of John” dated 150-200 A.D. is a text that is almost universally recognized as reactionary, or based upon the gospel of John. Therefore its gnostic view of a mystical rather than historical crucifixion, has to be an addendum.
You will find that Gnostic Gospels were among the first to be recorded.
I'm not to impressed with the link you gave me, as it blurs over so much without too much scholarly reference. Though I'm not saying it's all wrong. But rather than you and I debating over an entire encyclopedic attempt to present an alternate history, I would prefer to discuss one example at a time ... such as “The Acts of John”, which is clearly a text which borrowed from the gospel of John, and added its own gnostic flavor.
The coexistence of a few gnostic texts, alongside canonical texts, really only serves to show that gnostic thinking predated Christianity. Such texts, if any, are few since most of them post date the canonical writings. But the character of such texts reveals that historic Christianity was something absorbed and assimilated into pre-existing gnostic views ... rather than something that originated from the gnostic tradition.
Enough for now.