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Passions in Poetry

The True Message of Jesus

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Essorant
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0 posted 11-07-2011 01:08 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4odo6P91vcA


Dr. Bilal Philips eloquently makes the case for the Islamic perspective of Christ's message: he clarifies how the Bible alone is not reliable because of many inauthenticities in its origin which have been discovered not by Muslim scholars but by Christian scholars themselves, things which don't seem to be the case when it comes to the other main scriptural evidence we have for Christ: the Qur'an.  

When we use what is common in both (supported by the Qur'an), he concludes the common message we find is that Christ's message is the same message that Adam and all the other messengers brought to mankind: submission to one God (the meaning of "Islam").

 
Bob K
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1 posted 11-08-2011 04:40 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     I can hardly wait to see how people reply to you, Ess.  Or even if they will.  A little reminder at the bottom of the reply page stirs up a bit of irony for me:  "Submit Reply!"

     Most humbly. . . .
serenity blaze
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2 posted 11-08-2011 06:43 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I didn't reply because I wasn't sure if there was a question to address.

(I thought I'd been saying the same thing for years, but it's become apparent to me that I don't communicate very well.)

?
Stephanos
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3 posted 11-09-2011 12:38 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I haven't watched the link yet, though I will.  One quick point, and a question I'll make.

1) I've usually tried to relate arguments of Christian apologetics in my own words, not to attribute any originality to myself, but to show that I have made an ample attempt to understand the arguments for myself.  It's just too easy (for me as for anyone) to post youtube links, where someone else lays out their rationle, and then to ask others reply to that.  But isn't this a forum where we discuss issues?

Having brought up this point, Essorant, why do YOU think the Muslim take on Jesus Christ has more credibility than the Christian one?  And why would you not therefore also go further and ascribe to the message of the Koran?  


2) Since the impetus of the Islamic criticisms of the New Testament is based upon what the Koran says (a document some 600 years older than the events surrounding the time of Christ as related in the New Testament), why would the earlier text be doubted so, and the much later be uncritically accepted?


Of course, I'm anticipating the answer that the Koranic account is based upon a tradition much older than the Koran, which would lead to a discussion about "other" writings of Jesus much closer to the New Testament.  I concede this, though I'd make the argument that even these, are of later origin than the New Testament, and that there is much more evidence that what the Christian scholars have called the "apocrypha" or "pseudepigrapha" are based upon a religious tradition that existed much earlier and quite separate from the one culturally prevalent during the life and times of Jesus ... it was network of eastern religious ideas (that tended to assimilate surrounding religious categories while keeping to its own central ideas) referred to loosely as "gnosticism".


Stephen  
Stephanos
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4 posted 11-09-2011 12:43 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob, not too bad, that was funny.  
Stephanos
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5 posted 11-09-2011 04:18 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I've gone back and reread the post, and noticed another interesting point.  The statement is made that we shouldn't rely upon the Bible alone for our view of Christ's message.  It is implied that when we take a broader view, we have a fuller message.  But really it's not like that.  There are passages in the New Testament which are contradictory to what the Koran says about Jesus, and vice versa.  So the issue is not whether one takes a narrow view (ie using one source alone), but the question of which source offers the truest picture.    


He's right in one thing, submission to God is not a new message.  In Pauline language this is the "law".  In modern parlance, this is ethics.  But the whole uniqueness of the Christian faith lies in the fact that Jesus said and did something quite different than the prophets.  It didn't contradict the prophets but added a new dimension, as a cube contains a square but is greater.  Rather than reiterating a message that is surely true enough (that God wants us to behave better), he demonstrated through the Cross a love that covers someone else's sins and reveals forgiveness and Grace.


If one considers what really makes the New Testament view of Jesus different than that of the Koran, it seems that the Koranic view is a more contracted view, in that it refuses the innovation that the New Testament offers (that salvation is a gift), and reiterates the law all over again ... to please Allah, we have to adhere to his laws and simply submit.  But there's a problem in that no one is able.  No one has approached and satisfied the holiness of God through religious reformation, no matter how true it is, or how much it is needed.


Stephen        
Stephanos
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6 posted 11-09-2011 10:31 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Another interesting point (apologies for making multiple posts before anyone responds, I know, I know...)


There's good evidence that the Koran's conception of Christianity was based mostly if not wholly upon gnostic texts, or cultural beliefs based upon such texts.  Surprisingly the Koran doesn't simply support the gnostic beliefs and criticize the "orthodox" beliefs. Rather, both it's positive views of Christ, and its criticisms of Christianity seemed to be based upon Gnostic forms.


For example, the Koran criticizes a conception of the Trinity as "Father Son and Mother Mary", where Mary is worshipped as a goddess.  But this is most likely from the Collyridian Sect of the 4th Century originated in Arabia who integrated goddess worship with Christian doctrine.  The Koran reads (emphasis mine):  


"The Messiah, son of Mary, is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate!" (Sura 5:75)

"GOD will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Make me and my mother idols beside GOD'? He will say, 'Be You glorified. I could not utter what was not right. Had I said it, You already would have known it. You know my thoughts, and I do not know Your thoughts. You know all the secrets'"  (Sura 5:116)

Such "mary worship" was not expressed in the New Testament at all, but was a later addition.



Another example is the Koran's own Christology.  The Koran reads (emphasis mine):

"And that they said, 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of Allah', but they killed him not nor crucified him but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts with no knowledge but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.  No, Allah raised him up unto Himself, and Allah is exalted in power, wise."  (Sura 4:157-158)


Note the striking similarity to a passage from a Gnostic text originating from the second to third century in Alexandria Egypt:


"And the plan which they devised about me to release their Error and their senselessness - I did not succumb to them as they had planned. But I was not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished me. And I did not die in reality but in appearance , lest I be put to shame by them because these are my kinsfolk ... For my death, which they think happened , happened to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death ... It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I . They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance."  (from 'The Second Treatise of Seth')




Since both the Koran's criticism of Christianity, and the Koran's own views of Jesus are based upon later forms of belief that the Church considers heretical, it is difficult to see how the Koran can be considered as a relevant critique of the New Testament Gospels.


Stephen  
Huan Yi
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7 posted 11-12-2011 11:00 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


"When we use what is common in both (supported by the Qur'an), he concludes the common message we find is that Christ's message is the same message that Adam and all the other messengers brought to mankind: submission to one God (the meaning of "Islam"). "


Did Jesus have anyone killed?
If not, then I think his was a different God.


.
Bob K
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8 posted 11-13-2011 03:12 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


     Religious text or literary text, a text is at the mercy of its readers and of those who breath life into it as time goes on, even when the author still lives.  Christianity will be whatever those who believe themselves Christian will make of it.  There have been times when the Marian influence in Christianity has waxed, there have been times it has waned.  There have been times when the influence of the feminine in Christianity has seemed almost nonexistent and it has been sternly suppressed, and there have been times, such as the period when the Cathars and like gnostic sects seemed to have some power — in Southern France, in Greece, In Egypt — when it may well have seemed that the Marian influence may well have exerted a competitive influence on the primacy of the trinity.  Mass murders and a crusade purged those who showed visible loyalties in that direction.

     Suggesting that the rise and fall of such religious beliefs were set in stone may be an error.  The Muslim ideas about of the trinity and Christian theology as expressed in the Koran were sufficient for Muslim purposes, which were to help consolidate the Muslim faith, and distinguish it from Christianity and Judaism.  To complain that the Muslims got the Christians wrong, while probably accurate, is also probably to miss the point.  The early Muslims were primarily concerned with getting Islam right; and they compared and contrasted with the Christianity and the Judaism that they knew and that they could explain most straightforwardly to people who were considering becoming Muslim and to people, already Muslim,  who wanted to have a sense that they had come to grips with their neighbors and rivals.

     They had the same interest in getting things right as Westerners have in getting the fine points of Shinto, Taoism, or Buddhism right, or of getting the fine points of marxism right.  That would be close to zero.  All of these cultures, religions and economic philosophies have enormous amounts of insight to offer each other, and some of them share an amazing amount of overlap of which they tend to remain unaware because of their tendency to see each other as rivals.

     I personally have a tough time envisioning Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed duking it out in a prime time tag team wrestling special of Fox TV, but a very large number of their followers apparently do not, and are apparently willing to put down big dough on their man to come out on top.  I personally believe that these guys would have more in common to talk about than anything else.  That would be a group meeting that I would be very interested to sit in on.  Especially if there were any good translators around.  I'd be willing to bet that these folks would all be able to learn from each other.  Although some of them, you never know, might still be a bit on the stiff-necked side, I'd like to think they could get beyond that.

     I'd like to hear what they'd have to say about Stephen's comment about their notion of Law being the same as today's notion of Ethics, too.  I'm not sure that what's legal and what's ethical are the same thing, certainly not today, though I understand that Stephanos wasn't saying that.  Once again, fascinating.  Thank you, Ess, and thank you Stephen.

     Thanks for catching the joke, Stephen.
Stephanos
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9 posted 11-13-2011 10:24 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
The Muslim ideas about of the trinity and Christian theology as expressed in the Koran were sufficient for Muslim purposes, which were to help consolidate the Muslim faith, and distinguish it from Christianity and Judaism.  To complain that the Muslims got the Christians wrong, while probably accurate, is also probably to miss the point.


Who's point?  Dr Philips' point or yours?  

I certainly agree with you that Muhammad, through the Koran, was making rhetorical use of whatever Christian communities and beliefs he was aware of.  

But in context of the material Essorant has linked us with, Dr Philips is saying, in a nutshell, that the Koran sufficiently critiques the New Testament and points out historical and textual inauthenticities.  

My response to that, is to point out that the 600-year-removed Koran actually does not offer a real critique of the New Testament at all, especially if it can be shown that its conception of Christ and the Bible come from later sects who had gone far afield (in doctrine and practice) from the New Testament.  Since both the Koran's criticism of Christianity and its positive theology surrounding Jesus Christ can be shown to have come from later forms of heterodoxy, what Dr. Philips says about the corrective role of the Koran in relation to the New Testament is greatly weakened.


Stephen      
Essorant
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10 posted 11-16-2011 12:50 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,

quote:
Having brought up this point, Essorant, why do YOU think the Muslim take on Jesus Christ has more credibility than the Christian one?  


I find the Muslim perspective comparatively much more compromising for a religion, Jesus is put into the larger perspective of all the scriptures and all the prophets and messengers and the belief doesn't need to reject any of them in order to try claim the legitimacy for itself or only for the one it favours most.  Instead it is accepting others as well that is a fundamental part of claiming legitimacy as a Muslim:

"Belief in all the revealed books is an article of faith in Islam and a Muslim must believe in all the scriptures to be a Muslim." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_holy_books)

This is more admirable than obstinately saying "only my evidence gets to be legitimate and accepted".  


quote:
So the issue is not whether one takes a narrow view (ie using one source alone), but the question of which source offers the truest picture.


But the broadness or narrowness of the view does matter because that determines how we see a "picture" to begin with.  If we have only two pieces of a many-pieced puzzle, one piece may suggest or convey more about the picture of the puzzle than another piece, but it makes no sense not to accept the other piece because of that.  One piece may say more about the picture of the puzzle than another one, but two pieces still say even more.

If Christians can't or won't accept the Quran and Muhammad,  this may mean a weakness in the long run.  Which approach is most likely to provide a better bridge between the two most prominent religions: accepting only Christ and the Bible and rejecting the Quran and Muhammad, or accepting the Quran, Muhammad, the Bible, and Jesus?      

quote:
Since the impetus of the Islamic criticisms of the New Testament is based upon what the Koran says (a document some 600 years older than the events surrounding the time of Christ as related in the New Testament), why would the earlier text be doubted so, and the much later be uncritically accepted?



Both I think should be accepted critically, but there are reasons why the Bible's preservation of "the truth" may be approached a bit more misgivingly and critically.    

The main "criticism" is that bible has been changed and altered a lot more over the ages, therefore the truth has been diminished in one way or another from an original expression or identity, and people have tried to doctor it in different ways over the ages as well.  .The Quran on the other hand, has been preserved much more faithfully and is generally the same Quran through out the ages and the same one that all Muslims unanimously accept and still all use as their book today.   I don't see anything false about these general points.

Both books have the "truth".  But the truth in the Bible has been more "roughed up" and changed over the ages, with different books or parts being added or ommited, accepted or rejected, different versions made etc. There has always been quite a few different bibles throughout the ages rather than one authoritative "Bible" that all Christians could unanimously agree on as being "the Bible" rather than "a bible" (among others that others have used or still use)

quote:
Such "mary worship" was not expressed in the New Testament at all, but was a later addition.


But that is exactly why the Quran criticizes that kind of "mary worship" that developed among some Christians  - because it was against the scriptures and what Jesus would teach, not because it is supported by them.  The Quran is simply saying that people deviated from what had been explained in the scriptures, and that Jesus would never teach them to worship Mary and Jesus as "God" instead of God himself.   But it is understandable that some Christians came to imagine Mary was God as well: if the father and son are part of the equation of God, why can't the mother be too?  


quote:
Note the striking similarity to a passage from a Gnostic text originating from the second to third century in Alexandria Egypt:


"And the plan which they devised about me to release their Error and their senselessness - I did not succumb to them as they had planned. But I was not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished me. And I did not die in reality but in appearance , lest I be put to shame by them because these are my kinsfolk ... For my death, which they think happened , happened to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death ... It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I . They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance."  (from 'The Second Treatise of Seth')


Since both the Koran's criticism of Christianity, and the Koran's own views of Jesus are based upon later forms of belief that the Church considers heretical, it is difficult to see how the Koran can be considered as a relevant critique of the New Testament Gospels.


The Quran agrees with the general point that Jesus was not actually crucified, but the rest of the things you quoted from the Gnostic text are completely irrelevent because the Quran doesn't say any such things.  

Most people consider it a fact that Jesus was crucified in the sense of being put on the cross, but this is not the sense that the Quran is talking about.    The Quran is referring to an ultimate truth rather than an apparant one.  Jesus was crucified in the sense of being put on the cross, but he wasn't crucified in the sense of actually/ultimately being killed, destroyed, proved as false, etc on the cross.    If you read "not crucified" as implying "not defeated"  you can understand better the perspective of the Quran.  The apparant truth was that Jesus was defeated on the cross; the ultimate truth was that he wasn't actually/ultimately defeated, and all scriptures, and Christians and Muslims agree on that ultimate truth, even though the terminology makes it seem as if they are talking about completely different beliefs!

 
  
Huan Yi
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11 posted 11-16-2011 05:15 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


"Most people consider it a fact that Jesus was crucified in the sense of being put on the cross, but this is not the sense that the Quran is talking about.    The Quran is referring to an ultimate truth rather than an apparant one.  Jesus was crucified in the sense of being put on the cross, but he wasn't crucified in the sense of actually/ultimately being killed, destroyed, proved as false, etc on the cross.    If you read "not crucified" as implying "not defeated"  you can understand better the perspective of the Quran.  The apparant truth was that Jesus was defeated on the cross; the ultimate truth was that he wasn't actually/ultimately defeated, and all scriptures, and Christians and Muslims agree on that ultimate truth, even though the terminology makes it seem as if they are talking about completely different beliefs!"


My car's operating manual with a little understanding
can be found to agree as well . . .

This is like the EU’s ongoing debate as to whether  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
really means what he is saying . . .


Why not open another topic:  The True Message of Jihad.
.

[This message has been edited by Huan Yi (11-16-2011 07:05 PM).]

Essorant
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If someone actually were witnessed to be killed on a cross one day and then witnessed to be alive days later, then it would make sense that one "authority"  might say he had been killed on the cross and another say he had not actually been killed on the cross but just appeared to be - that is, for those that are actually willing to believe such a hard-to-believe story, or at least wish to appreciate it for being a unique story.
Bob K
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     The True Message of Jihad might be an interesting topic, since I'm not sure I understand it the way you do, John; and you appear to feel that you have a lock on the one true understanding of the word.  In the meantime, we seem to be talking about Jesus.

     I don't know very much about the historical viewpoint of Islam about Christianity, either.

     I would be interested in knowing where you, John, think Ess is wrong, and why you think that may be true.  I could probably learn something from that because you have a decent mind, whereas the guys who write the car manuals require too much interpretation for me to really get their theology.  They're far too mechanistic, generally speaking, aren't they?

     The comment about Iran suggests that you may be speaking about the Sunn'is, overall a religious minority in Islam, and may be using them to stand for the beliefs of all other Muslims, which is probably on the order of asking Russian Orthodox theology to be identical with the Southern Baptists or The Presbyterians, and to characterize both of these Christian religions as snake handlers, or to suggest that all three offer baptism of the dead, so any of their formerly Catholic relatives may have the unfortunate errors of their life on earth corrected by descendants who now understand the truth.

     I would suggest to you that each of these Christianities sees a slightly different Jesus with a larger or smaller overlap.  Some of them will be closer to the one characterized by the Koran than others, some will be further, just as some of the versions of The Prophet you will see presented in Islam will be closer and some further away from the version of the Iranian Mohammed that you see as being the only real one, even though that Mohammed is probably not the same Mohammed as the Wahhabi Mohammed many of the Al Qaeda  recruits see.

     Different sects, different visions; but for American foreign policy, they might have been at war, and, if fact had been, between Iran and Iraq — then our surrogate in the region with Saddam the brave defender of western Democracy — with a loss of over a million lives.  That, of course, was during the period when Don Rumsfeld, supplied the poison gas that Saddam used on the Iranians and also on those much more widely publicized Iraqi dissident villagers.  The fact that we supplied the gas was probably why we waited several years to condemn the attack.

     The true message of Mohammed and the True Message of Jesus tend to get shuffled under the rug when the needs of great powers are under consideration.  If we keep the focus on the theology in this case, we might learn something about it.  If we use this as a chance to take a cheap shot at Islam, then it's only fair that the mirror be held up to see what the western contribution to that imbroglio has been.
Huan Yi
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14 posted 11-17-2011 06:56 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Where did Mohammed's understanding
of Jesus come from? What about the
Satanic Verses?   Did a scribe
slip his take into the word of God?


.
Stephanos
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Essorant:  
quote:
find the Muslim perspective comparatively much more compromising for a religion, Jesus is put into the larger perspective of all the scriptures and all the prophets and messengers and the belief doesn't need to reject any of them in order to try claim the legitimacy for itself or only for the one it favours most.  Instead it is accepting others as well that is a fundamental part of claiming legitimacy as a Muslim



Yep, Islam overall is much more openly inclusive and 'compromising' in matters of religion ... a veritable birthplace of inclusivism.  um, right.  Remember that Islam means to "Submit".  That doesn't mean that all Muslims are bellicose or contentious, but none are in the Oprah Winfrey Club.  I just don't want distance, since Islam is culturally removed from your everyday experience, to distort the picture too much for you.


quote:
Which approach is most likely to provide a better bridge between the two most prominent religions: accepting only Christ and the Bible and rejecting the Quran and Muhammad, or accepting the Quran, Muhammad, the Bible, and Jesus?



Are you suggesting that Koran doesn't actually reject the Jesus of the New Testament?  Its misleading to say that the Koran accepts Jesus, and therefore offers a more comprehensive picture of him.  Why?  Because the two descriptions of Jesus (New Testament/ and Koran) are different.  And Islam does emphatically and zealously reject the New Testament Jesus.  Tit for tat?  The question actually takes us beyond that kind of reasoning, since anything that is debated involves both sides rejecting some things and affirming others.

What you are saying glosses over something very important to this discussion.  You say that since Islam accepts all the prophets (meaning Jesus as well as Muhammad), it is therefore more inclusive.  But The Koran does reject the New Testament Jesus.  The "Jesus" of the Koran is a quite different one.  I've already shown that, historically, Muhammad's take on Jesus came from sectarian and gnostic sources closer to his own time.  If you want to take this discussion to the next step, you should respond to that, since Islam's credibility when it comes to Jesus, depends on whether it can show that the Koran actually say anything at all about the historical Jesus.  My contention, without faulting Muhammed from responding to what he knew of Christianity in his time and culture, is that it doesn't say anything at all about the New Testament, and therefore has no critique to offer.  But I get the feeling that your stance (which is a noble one to unite all religions as much as possible), and Dr. Philip's stance is quite different.  


I think the real heart of the issue, is whether Jesus is allowed to be more than a prophet, if he indeed claimed to be.  In New Testament terms, he was known to be a prophet, but also something more.  His mission was not mere reform and moral instruction, but of divine sacrifice.  The dialogue of Jesus with his disciples about his own status in the New Testament went like this:


"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'

They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'

'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'

Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'

Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.'
" (Matthew 16:13-20)


Many people then, like in Islam (and western culture) now, saw Jesus as a standard prophet of God.  Nothing wrong with that so far ... a venerable pedigree without question.  Who could complain with being compared with the likes of John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah?  But Jesus went on to elicit (without scolding anyone for recognizing the obvious truth that, at the very least, Jesus was a prophet) from his disciple Peter a confession that he was more than a prophet, and that his relation to God (one of intrinsic sonship) was quite different than any of our own, including the prophets of the past.


So in this sense, it is the Koran, not the New Testament, that refuses divine innovation ... that dogmatically rules out a certain kind of answer.  It is a more contracted view since it allows more prophets to the tradition, yes, but only a certain kind with a certain kind of message.  It admits no prophet who claims to be the Son of God.  This too is a narrowed view of things.  All religions have their false-prophets, including Islam and Christianity.  But in the Christian view of things, any and all prophets may be embraced, except the ones who explicitly say Jesus Christ is nothing more than a prophet.  


So the question is not which view is narrowest or widest.  (for we all recognize that limitation can be both a good and bad, according to context- a too-narrow rope can endanger the mountain climber.  But a narrowed-edge of a tool helps the carpenter)  The question is, which account, the Koranic or the New Testament, offers the truest picture of Jesus?  That brings us to your next point:


quote:
The main "criticism" is that bible has been changed and altered a lot more over the ages, therefore the truth has been diminished in one way or another from an original expression or identity, and people have tried to doctor it in different ways over the ages as well.  The Quran on the other hand, has been preserved much more faithfully and is generally the same Quran through out the ages and the same one that all Muslims unanimously accept and still all use as their book today.



First of all, we're talking about Jesus specifically, so that narrows (or should narrow) the discussion to the New Testament, rather than general statements about the Bible.  Secondly, that an older document that has been translated into other languages, would have more alterations is a truism.  So what?  The question then follows:  Do such alterations amount to anything like a change of doctrine or anything essential in the New Testament?  The answer is no.  The quick proliferation of copies of the New Testament in its early days, actually guarantees that we have accuracy.  


There have been "changes", most of which amount to changes in punctuation, grammar or embellishments of piety where the translator thought a text should include more.  An example would be where the copyist inserted the phrase "Lord Jesus Christ" where it originally only said Jesus, in a particular spot.  This is of little consequence since the earliest texts say the full phrase elsewhere.  These are changes typical of the transmission of texts.


Another thing to keep in mind is that such changes were regional and produced textual "families" so to speak, groupings that were more alike than other groupings.  It was easy to see what exactly was changed, and where the changes differed from the earliest texts.  And here's the clincher.  Even considering the greatest changes, there is NO alteration that amounts to anything like a real change in the central doctrines of Christianity.  If you feel differently, I'd welcome a more specific discussion that included examples and instances.


The Koran, alternately, has retained it's original Arabic language, and escapes the textual variations that are invariably a part of translation to other languages.  However, this is because Islam doesn't admit that the Koran can be translated and retain it's divine status.  The "Miracle" of the Koran, according to Islam, is the beauty of it's original expression and language.  The New Testament is different in that its translators have always held a more evangelistic and universal view that it wasn't ever meant for one language and people, but ultimately for the whole world.  


Yes, there are textual variations in all of the transmission.  But we still have a plethora of early texts to compare with.  And when we really look, instead of accepting uncritically the popular misconception that "the Bible has been translated so many times, it can't be accurate" (it is seldom ever acknowledged by those that make this statement that translations are generally of the earliest manuscripts, not of previous translations leading to cumulative and compounding errors), we find that little has changed.  


The variation is a small price to pay for a "catholic" or universal view of scripture.  The Islamic view of the Koran is much more parochial protected and elite, ensured by the power of the government and Sharia Law.  


quote:
But the truth in the Bible has been more "roughed up" and changed over the ages, with different books or parts being added or ommited, accepted or rejected, different versions made etc. There has always been quite a few different bibles throughout the ages rather than one authoritative "Bible" that all Christians could unanimously agree on as being "the Bible" rather than "a bible" (among others that others have used or still use)



Are the Bible translations mentioned significantly different?  Most of the disputes over Bible translations in ages past, particularly in Elizabethan England (to give an example close to our time) has been over marginal notes, not the text of the Bible itself.  


But yes, for reasons I mentioned previously, the Bible is more "roughed up", because it has been given the liberty of universal translation.  It is a text that has been put to rigorous use and trade, so to speak.  But it also one for which we have early manuscript evidence, and thus the ability to see whether or not it has been significantly altered.  The Koran, through Islamic legislation, has had a totally different story.


But all of this has little bearing on the question of which text offers the truest picture.  A text that has been translated, with many variants, can be a truer account than a more recent text, vigorously protected.  It is a question of content and proximity to the events spoken of, not a question of how many versions have been allowed by the powers that be.


quote:
But that is exactly why the Quran criticizes that kind of "mary worship" that developed among some Christians- because it was against the scriptures and what Jesus would teach, not because it is supported by them.  The Quran is simply saying that people deviated from what had been explained in the scriptures, and that Jesus would never teach them to worship Mary and Jesus as "God" instead of God himself.



Yes Mary-worship was against the scriptures.  But Jesus as the incarnation of God, or the conception of God as "Father Son and Holy Spirit" was not contrary to the scriptures.  The Koran was not correcting the practice of Marian worship according to the standard of earlier scipture, but according to its own understanding of what Monotheism means.  


The reason I pointed out that, was to show that the Koran was not really responding to the New Testament at all, since its conception of the Trinity came from a later distortion of Christian practice, the Collyridian Sect of the 4th Century.  


We could debate whether the Christian Trinitarian view of God and its view of the incarnation contradicts the Jewish understanding of Monotheism (it doesn't), but that would be another debate.  For the purpose of this thread, it is enough for me to show that the 600-year-removed Arabian Koran has no critique of the New Testament.  It is a Johnny-come-lately commentary that makes rhetorical use of the Christian traditions that Muhammad knew of at the time.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that.  I am saying that because of this, the Koran has nothing to add to a discussion about whether the New Testament offer a true account of Jesus.


quote:
The Quran is referring to an ultimate truth rather than an apparant one.  Jesus was crucified in the sense of being put on the cross, but he wasn't crucified in the sense of actually/ultimately being killed, destroyed, proved as false, etc on the cross. If you read "not crucified" as implying "not defeated" you can understand better the perspective of the Quran.



You really confused me when you stated earlier that the Koran "agrees with the general point that Jesus was not actually crucified".   But obviously you don't mean that the Koran denies the "actual" crucifixion.  Rather you're saying that the Koran admits an actual crucifixion that is not significant or has no import, because of the victory of God.  As a Christian I agree with this, since Christians believe that the crucifixion was not final, and that Jesus was literally and bodily raised from the dead.  


But your interpretation of the Koran here is much more Christian than Muslim.  I think if you look into it, you'll find that this is not the Islamic interpretation at all.  The main Islamic interpretation is that Jesus was not crucified at all.  Some Islamic scholars think this means there was a substitution, like the gnostic text says, others think he simply wasn't crucified.  Either way, Islam believes that the crucifixion takes away from the dignity of Jesus, so they don't admit it.


My point in comparing the text of the Koran with the Gnostic Text was not to show that they are identical in every regard, but to show that the latter is essentially derived from the former ... that Muhammed's views of Jesus are essentially Docetic.  And Docetism is attributed to Gnostic views of Jesus that originated later than the New Testament.  If this is true, then it isn't very likely that the Koran was attempting to teach the same thing as the New Testament.


Anyway, Dr Bilal Philips himself, whose video you posted, does not believe that Jesus was crucified.  Hear him in this video stating it explicitly, beginning at 1:22


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L7P9mZOrDQ  


In conclusion, the Koranic view of Jesus and the New Testament view of Jesus are at odds with each other.  And while Dr. Philips says that the Koran has a remedial relation to New Testament, offering a correction (after which Jesus may be included) the Koran's own views of Jesus can be reasonably shown to be based on 4th Century heterodox traditions, and therefore cannot offer any serious critique of the New Testament.  


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-18-2011 06:10 PM).]

Uncas
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Dr. Bilal Philips certainly takes his fictionalised characters seriously.

I wonder if he has an opinion regarding who'd win in a fight - Gandalf or Dumbledore.

Stephanos
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Uncas, what author are you referring to?

Ah, nevermind, I see you clarified.  
Huan Yi
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18 posted 11-18-2011 01:43 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Stephen


Thanks for the link
Pretty hard to take such people
seriously . . .


.
Stephanos
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John, I didn't post that link to say that we shouldn't take him seriously.  We should take everyone seriously enough to respect them.  That doesn't mean we should believe what they say uncritically.  

I too, like Bob, wouldn't want to see this thread turn into Islam bashing.  That's certainly not where I'm coming from.  
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20 posted 11-18-2011 02:50 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


You didn't say it.
I did.


.
Stephanos
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21 posted 11-18-2011 06:11 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I don't want this thread to take a spin too much in this direction (mainly because it has been hashed out in the Alley before), but John, do you make any distinction between the practices of the common muslim, and that of the Islamicist extremist?  

Stephen
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22 posted 11-19-2011 08:19 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


I'm not interested in that.
I'm interested in the different takes
on Jesus especially here how they
are ignored or smoothed over.

In the bibles, apart from God, Jesus is the central character
as a man of peace; one who urged kindness and consideration
even to those outside one’s grouping.  In the Quran, apart from
God, Muhammad is the central character, who as I understand it
picked up his knowledge of Jesus around the campfire and used
Jesus as part of a succession to legitimize his own status as
ultimate prophet; a prophet whose message once he achieved
some confidence with military victories leading back to Mecca had
a distinctly different attitude toward those outside or opposed
even in thought to his following.


.  
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Stephanos,

quote:
Yep, Islam overall is much more openly inclusive and 'compromising' in matters of religion ... a veritable birthplace of inclusivism.  um, right.



I am not sure how your comment addresses mine in the context I was speaking: that Islam accepts all the scriptures and accepts Jesus, Moses, and all the other earlier religious figures of the Abrahmic religions, and puts Jesus into the perspective of all of those. It is two articles of faith in Islam: belief in the scriptures and belief in the prophets.  Accepting the Quran and Muhammad implies accepting the other scriptures and prophets because they unambigously affirm them, not reject them:

"And to you We have revealed the Book with the truth.  It confirms the Scriptures which came before it and stands as a guardian over them." (Sura 5:48)


quote:
Remember that Islam means to "Submit".  That doesn't mean that all Muslims are bellicose or contentious, but none are in the Oprah Winfrey Club.  I just don't want distance, since Islam is culturally removed from your everyday experience, to distort the picture too much for you.



Indeed "Submit"/"Submission" is an important meaning of Islam, but we shouldn't try to dictate the word with that one limited translation and our own cultural connotations about it.  

Islam and Muslim (Arabic words) belong to the Arabic consonantal root SLM that gives words meanings along the lines of "safety; peace; soundness", and in Arabic dictionaries words are listed according to their roots, so when looking up Islam and Muslim, you you need to look under the letter s instead of i and m.  People know the general sense "safety; peace; soundness" signaled by the consonant combination SLM in a word.  The "mu-" in muslim is a prefix and the vowels are just variables that fit differently among the fixed consonant-combination to create different words from SLM: mu-SLiM, iSLaM, SalaaM, etc.    

Consider some of the meanings listed under the corresponding verb includes the "submit" we are talking about.

Salima - to be safe and sound, unharmed, unimpaired, intact, safe, secure; to be unobjectionable, blameless, faultless; to be certain, established, clearly proven (fact); to be free; to escape (a danger); to preserve, keep from injury, protect from harm, save; to hand over intact; to hand over; to turn over, surrender; to deliver; to lay down; to surrendere; to give up; to submit; to resign; to greet, salute; to grant salvation; to admit, concede, grant; to consent, approve, accept, sanction, condone; to commit one's cause to God, resign to the will of God; to give up the ghost; to breathe one's last, be in the throes of death; to give up to the police; to put at mercy; to keep the peace, make one's peace, make up (with); to forsake, leave, desert, give up, betray; to let sink, drop; to hand over, turn over; to declare oneself committed to the will of God, become a Muslim, embrace Islam; to become reconciled with one another, make peace with one another... (From: The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic)

A lot of grammatical detail and information about different forms, contexts, included prepositions isn't included, but this can give you a sense of the connotations it has in its original/native language.
quote:
Are you suggesting that Koran doesn't actually reject the Jesus of the New Testament? Its misleading to say that the Koran accepts Jesus, and therefore offers a more comprehensive picture of him.  Why?  Because the two descriptions of Jesus (New Testament/ and Koran) are different.  And Islam does emphatically and zealously reject the New Testament Jesus.  Tit for tat?  The question actually takes us beyond that kind of reasoning, since anything that is debated involves both sides rejecting some things and affirming others.


Yes , because believing in Jesus, is in not "submission to Stephanos' way of believing in Jesus"!      

If you don't accept the way The Quran accepts Jesus, isn't that just another way of you saying that you reject the Quran, not that the Quran rejects Jesus?

The Quran accepts him as the Son of Mary, a mercy from God, a prophet and messenger, the Messiah, one who was raised up and saved from (actually/ultimately) being crucified, and that he will return.   That is a lot more than most people accept, isn't it?  Are most or many people rejecting Jesus if they accept him in more secular and earthly way (as someone who was no doubt great man, but probably not actually born without a biological father, probably not a prophet, probably not actually a Messiah, probably not still alive or about to return anytime)?  

In the New Testament Jesus isn't called "God".  He is, of course titled as "son of God".  But this is in tradition of the title which was given to other men of God in the Bible.  God himself (aside from only men calling Jesus "son of God") calls others "sons of God".  We find them referred to that way to refer to being men of God, in the role of being a believer, looking up to God as sons look up to a father, being led by the Spririt of God, serving and submitting to God, etc.  

"...the sons of God saw the daughters of men" (Genesis 6:2)

"Ye are the children of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 14:1)

“Israel is My son, even my firstborn” (Exodus 4:22)

“…for I (God) am a father to Israel, and Ephraim (i.e. Israel) is my firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9)

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:44-45)

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14)

(etc.)

God is not exclusively Jesus' Father, because we are all Sons of God when we morally make ourselves such.  It is a mistake to take the "son of God" as if it expressing Jesus as "God" himself.  Jesus never said that he was the father or treated men as the sons of himself in this sense, which would make sense if he were trying to express himself as being God.  

The Gospels emphasizes Jesus greatness from, but also his inferiority to God: his submissiveness as one obeying the authority of a father, as not doing his own lesser will but the superior will of God, as being sent to earth by one who sent him, as being a prophet, etc.  These things support the Muslim perspective of Christ's nature as not being God, but a great man and a prophet/messenger of God, and of course, the Messiah.   It makes sense that Jesus fills the role of this kind of "son" more emphatically than other "sons of God" because he was a special figure and a highest example.  No one can deny that and the Quran certainly doesn't.

By the time of the Quran, this had already been forgotten and people were worshipping Jesus as if he were biologically the "son" of God, alongside developments of some Christians worshipping Mary as God too.  These things made them look similar to polytheistic beliefs where gods really were believed to give birth to gods, multiplying into families.   This is why the Quran emphasizes God is not the "son" of God; because it had become used literally instead of figuratively.  The Quran rejects treating Jesus as literally/biologically the son of God, but there there is nothing to suggest or imply a rejection of treating him metaphorically/religiously as fullfilling a father-son-like relationship with God.  He is certainly respected as more than "just another prophet": he is an apostle and the Messiah, and one who will return to earth at one time or another in the future.  

The Quran's description agrees with the Christian perspective a lot more than Judaism does, and perhaps a lot more than most people do in general.  And yet Christianity seems to reject the Quran more emphatically and uncompromisingly, as if it is false evidence that contradicts the New Testament instead of true evidence that actually supports and further proves the New Testament.  I argue that the other way around is much more true, that they support each other and affirm the same basic truth which gives them both more strength by being two evidences instead of just one evidence isolated to itself.  Whether you believe the Quran or the Bible has the truest picture, they can both affirm the same basic truth, and be true in respect to that truth.  And when treated that way, they strengthen each other, instead of weaken each other.
quote:
I've already shown that, historically, Muhammad's take on Jesus came from sectarian and gnostic sources closer to his own time


But you haven't shown that yet at all Stephanos.  A quotation that vaguely agrees with the Quran doesn't establish that there is any historical connection between it and the Quran or Muhammad.  



quote:
A text that has been translated, with many variants, can be a truer account than a more recent text, vigorously protected


A text more recent text, vigoriously protected can be truer too.  Earlier often doesn't necessarily mean based on a truer line of evidence, especially if it isolated only to one line, rather than accepting other lines as well to make a more complete judgement of evidence.  Whenever Christianity accepts evidence, it is at the expense of rejecting other evidence, therefore Christianity has limited itself to drawing a picture only from its own evidence. But despite Christianity rejecting these other evidences such as the Quran, these other evidences overwheliming support the scriptures that Christianity accepts.  They usually support the same basic truth, even though they may have a different perspective on it.


quote:
Anyway, Dr Bilal Philips himself, whose video you posted, does not believe that Jesus was crucified.  Hear him in this video stating it explicitly, beginning at 1:22


He didn't say that at all, Stephanos.  He said that the Quran doesn't say it was someone other than Jesus that appeared to be crucified, but not necessarily rule it out the imagination. But there is no reason to think (according to the Quran) that it wasn't Jesus.  Jesus himself  "appeared" to be killed and proved false on the cross/crucified, even though he lives on as the true Messiah that both Christians and Muslims believe in.
 
Huan Yi
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24 posted 11-20-2011 06:48 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


The Quran is a war book that could have been written by Vikings
with all the perks for warriors who die in battle against unbelievers
plus seventy virgins.


.

 
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