Sun Day: How Christianity hijacked a pagan holiday

Christ’s birth or pagan holiday?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons.), MCollT

In discussing the “sources” of Islam, uncouth Christian apologists attack the faith by accusing it of having pagan roots. For example, they argue that the many rituals of Islam in Hajj (the pilgrimage) are built on older pagan rituals that the early Muslims adopted and modified to their own liking. If Islam did indeed have its absolute beginnings in the person of Muhammad s.a.w., then those apologists would have a point. However, in the Islamic worldview, Islam did not actually begin with Prophet Muhammad’s ministry. It is the longstanding contention of Islam that prior to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., Islam was already afoot and numerous messengers came before him bringing essentially the same fundamental doctrines of faith (i.e., monotheism) but with some variations in matters of jurisprudence. The Prophet Muhammad’s s.a.w. preaching was regarded by his followers, from the very beginning, as the culmination of that long succession of prophetic office.

Though the Arabs– the children of Ishma’el — prior to Prophet Muhammad’s monotheistic revolution were idolaters and did practise some of the rituals that we may today see in Islam in their idolatrous fashion, they were not, in fact, the promulgators of those rituals and nor was idolatry their forefathers’ original tradition. The Arabs are typically regarded as the descendants of Ishma’el and this has been commonly held as a fact by both Muslim and non-Muslim historians. Emeritus Professor for the History of the Near and Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Dr. G. R. Hawting writes:

“The designation of the Arabs as Ishmaelites or Hagarenes (after Ishmael’s mother, Hagar) is relatively common in pre-Islamic and later Christian and Jewish texts, and the descent of the Arabs from Abraham through Ishmael and his mother is frequently asserted in Islamic literature (the earliest extant texts of which are not earlier than the late 8th century). The idea that the Arabs are the physical descendants of Abraham through Ishmael is indeed taken by many, non-Muslims as well as Muslims, as a genealogical and historical fact.” [1]

As Jesus was not Omniscient, he should not be regarded as God

As Jesus was not Omniscient, he should not be regarded as God

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons.), MCollT

Mark 13:32 (and Matthew 24:36) remains a huge conundrum for Trinitarians as it clearly negates Omniscience– an essential attribute of deity –in the person of Jesus. The text reads as follows:

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32; ESV)

All three so-called Abrahamic faiths (i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam) agree that one of the fundamental attributes of Almighty God is Omniscience (All-Knowing). The attributes of God are immutable and unchanging as He was, is and will be the same for all eternity and this is a doctrine that mainstream Muslims, Christians and Jews agree upon. And so Mark 13:32 presents an insurmountable stumbling block for the belief in Jesus’ divinity as it demonstrates Jesus’ evident lack of supreme and unconditional knowledge. The typical excuse that many conservative apologists offer to ameliorate the problem is that in the incarnation, Jesus gave up some of his divine attributes to fulfill his mission on earth as an obedient servant. To substantiate this proposal they appeal to the Pauline text of Philippians 2:7 which reads:

“Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,” (NLT)

‘Emptied himself,’ ‘laid aisde,’ or ‘veiled himself’ are some of the phrases that are commonly used to forward this concept, which is technically called the ‘kenotic doctrine’ or the ‘doctrine of kenosis.’ In this doctrine, it is alleged that when Jesus, as the second person of the Triune Godhead, added the human nature to his being in the so-called hypostasis, he lowered himself to the level of an obedient human being and by doing so, he “emptied himself” of some of the attributes that he had prior to the incarnation. One of those attributes that was subtracted, according to theologians that subscribe to the kenotic doctrine, was Omniscience. James White is one of those apologists that favour the kenotic doctrine, appealing to it whenever faced with Mark 13:32 or Matthew 24:36. In a debate in 2012 with Dr. Shabir Ally on the topic ‘Did Jesus Claim Deity?,’ Dr. James White says the following in answer to a question posed to him on the Markan verse in question:

“Your question is about Jesus saying not knowing the day or the hour, right? In this particular text, Jesus is talking as the Son and he says, “of that hour, no man knows, not the Son nor the angels or anybody else.”… There are certain things of Jesus’ divine attributes that were veiled in the incarnation, for example, his glory was not seen. He didn’t glow when he walked down the streets of Jerusalem… Obviously, Omnipresence, things like that, there was a veiling and for some purpose it is not explained to us. For some purpose, Jesus, in that particular instance, that particular piece of knowledge has been veiled during the time of the incarnation.” [1]

Where was the Trinity in the first century?

The Trinity as Post-Biblical Doctrine: Jesus, the disciples and first century Christ followers did not know the Trinity

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

The period of the Enlightenment saw great theological dissent among the Christian intellectuals of Europe. Great minds like John Milton and Isaac Newton, who were the intellectual giants of their time, abandoned the faith of their forefathers in the Trinity and became quite opposed to it. They maintained, contrary to many Christians today, that the Trinity was a human invention that came much later in the history of the church and it most certainly did not exist in the ministry of Jesus or in the early days of apostolic preaching after Jesus’ departure from the scene. Noting this very important, distinguished scholar in the Renaissance studies Professor Gordon Campbell and colleague Emeritus Professor Thomas Corns write:

“From the perspective of the modern Christian consensus, Milton’s central aberration was his antitrinitarianism. Dissent from trinitarianism was, however, much more common among seventeenth-century Christians than among their twenty-first century successors. There was, for example, a widespread awareness that the doctrine of the Trinity was post-biblical, and that the central biblical proof text for the Trinity (1 John 5:7) was a medieval forgery inserted into Bibles to support a trinitarian doctrine that had been erected on a disconcertingly thin biblical base.” [1]

In the view of Campbell and Corns, the fact that the Trinity was an idea that was brought forth after the first century, which would be the post-biblical period, was a pervasive historical position already held in western academia several hundred years ago. In Cambell and Corns’ scholarly estimation, the doctrine is founded on such flimsy biblical textual evidence that irresponsible medieval hands had to concoct an entirely novel verse, i.e., 1 John 5:7, that would support the belief, which they forced upon the Bible in hopes of fooling the unlearned that the doctrine has biblical backing.

If we had a time machine to take us all the way back to the first century and bring Trinitarians along, it wouldn’t be surprising to find the followers of Jesus in those days appraising the Trinity as an odd and exotic concept. They would not be able to recognise the doctrine of the Trinity because neither their master Jesus nor his immediate disciples ever taught it to them. They would surely find it strange and in direct contradiction to their simple monotheistic faith as preserved in Mark 12:22 wherein Jesus reiterates the Mosaic creed of monotheism in Deuteronomy 6:4 without a change of an iota.

Likewise, Warren Carter, who is Professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School, lends his expert testimony concerning the Trinity’s late emergence in Christian history:

“Contemporary Christian readers might solve the dilemma by pointing to the Christian understanding of the Trinity. But in the late first century, such an understanding did not exist. God was not understood as a triune being whose three persons share the same essence or being. This trinitarian understanding would emerge in subsequent centuries, partly as readers wrestled with the gospel’s difficult claims.” [2]

The Trinity Confounds the Mind

The Trinity is Confusing

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

A charge that is often levelled against the Trinity by Muslims is that the doctrine is way too complicated and is, in fact, very confusing. Because it is too confusing to behold, Muslims contend that the doctrine cannot possibly originate from God and must therefore be relegated into the category of man-made things.

It is a historical and theological fact that Muslims did not actually invent the allegation that the Trinity is a confusing doctrine.Rather, this is a view taken by many theologians, quite a number of whom are Christians. In the Princeton Theological Monograph Series, Dr. Dick Eugenio, who is Assistant Professor of Theology at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in the Philippines, writes concerning elements within the Christian community that were dissatisfied by the doctrine of the Trinity’s confusing nature:

“Meanwhile traditional Catholics and Protestants continued to affirm their belief in the Trinity, but the doctrine seemed to be rather esoteric, abstract, confusing, and irrelevant to the life and mission of the church.” [1]

The Christian Concept of Salvation Falsifies the Trinity

Major Problems with the Christian Concept of Salvation: The Trinity becomes muddled in Christian Soteriology

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc. (Hons), MCollT

The concept of vicarious atonement is fundamental to mainstream Christianity. It is postulated that salvation is only acquirable through the acceptance of the death of Jesus on the cross as a divinely instituted sacrifice. In this Christian salvific saga, the Father is said to pour all His Wrath onto the Son and in so doing, He satisfies the need for Justice where sin is concerned. The so called tension between Justice and Mercy– a unique concept in western Christianity* –is resolved and God can appropriately offer the latter without dispensing with the former.

Upon close inspection of the above doctrine, which is the most fundamental feature of western Christian faith, several problems and difficulties arise. Firstly, the inescapable impression that the vicarious atonement gives is that the Father is the source of Wrath and the Son is the source of Love. Whilst the Father punishes, the Son gives. These two in Christian theology are supposed to be equal in every respect. They are designated as ‘Persons’ within One God. If that were true, then this God, apparently, did not satisfy the alleged tension between the attributes of Justice and Mercy after all or if He did, then He only managed to satisfy one third of Justice because the rest of God, i.e., the Son and the Holy Spirit, did not pour out their Wrath. And this fact is in direct opposition to John 5:19 which says that the Son does everything and anything He sees the Father does. If John 5:19 were true then the vicarious atonement would be false as it would render the Son as wrathful instead of loving whilst he was affixed on the cross, but if the vicarious atonement were true, then John 5:19 would be false because the Son did not emulate the Father’s wrath but was instead exuding love in his sacrifice. However, according to standard Christian teaching, the Wrath that is said to have been poured onto the Son on the cross was supposed to have been the complete and full Wrath of God as a complete entity. If one accepts that premise, then one must reevaluate one’s reading of those many instances in the Bible where God shows His Wrath. If the cross received the full measure of God’s Wrath and only the Father actually poured His Wrath on it, the necessary implication is that God’s attribute of wrathfulness belongs only to the Father and so the wrathful instances of God in biblical history were instances of only the Father and not the full God, which is supposed to be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit together. Following this line of thought, one must then necessarily surmise that Justice comes only from the Father who satisfies it with His Wrath. If that were true, then God as a complete Being becomes crippled with disproportionate attributes unevenly distributed to the three members that make up the One Being.

Sin did not enter the world through Adam

Who was the first sinner?: Lucifer’s Forgotten Legacy

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Contrary to popular belief, Adam should not be held responsible for the introduction of sin into this world. To that effect, Paul was wrong to claim that it was Adam’s fault that sin came to earth. He mistakenly writes,“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12; NLT)* According to the biblical record and the Catholic tradition, the sin of a fallen angel preceded Adam’s very existence. The fallen angel was none other than Lucifer and it was this being, not the human Adam, that caused sin to enter into the world for the first time according to Isaiah 14:12:

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”

Though quite a number of commentaries such as Ellicott’s Commentary have interpreted the passage to mean the King of Babylon, many classical commentators and even modern commentators maintain that the passage is referring to the fallen angel Lucifer.

Celebrated Christian evangelist and preacher Billy Graham identifies the person in Isaiah 14:12 as the devil Lucifer and brands him the first sinner. Graham’s entry on Lucifer begins with the title ‘The First Sinner Commits the First Sin.’ After clearly having identified Lucifer as the first ever sinner, Graham writes:

“Lucifer (meaning “morning star” in Hebrew) was an angel created to glorify God, but this was not the role he wanted. His heart’s desire was to be the chief authority; he wanted to sit on God’s throne and rule the universe. Isaiah 14:12-14 tells us: “”How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

When Lucifer asserted his desire to be more than God, a great revolution took place in the universe. Many angels joined with Lucifer and became his rebel army. Evidently when God judged Lucifer’s crimes, God changed his name to Satan, the Evil One, and sentenced him to eternal exile.” [1]

Jesus Did Not Preach Christianity

Jesus Christ: Christianity is a cult that I never knew about.

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Christian apologists love to have a laugh at the Islamic claim that Jesus was a Muslim. Poking fun at that Islamic proposition is a longstanding tradition in the Christian apologetic ministry. The Christian apologist would gleefully say, in misplaced victorious fervour, that “the Islamic or Muslim claim that Jesus was a Muslim is nothing but the ravings of a delusional desert man, who had no clue what he was talking about, which resulted in anachronisms, that is, historical errors, as he went along inventing his cult that he labelled Islam.” Whether Jesus was a Muslim or not is a subject that we will not delve here. That has been discussed in a previous article called ‘Jesus was a Muslim and not a Christian’. What we will discuss in this article is the fact that the above mentioned Christian apologetic argumentation is the psychosis of Christian apologia as it tries to deflect its own insecurities for its own shortcomings, which is symptomatic of what psychologists term ‘psychological projection’.

History bears witness to the obvious reality, that many Christians conveniently pretend to not exist, that Christianity– in its primitive sense –is a first century post-Christ cult whilst orthodox Christianity is really a new religion divorced from its alleged founder, at the very least, by a few hundred years.

Jesus was a religious personality that preached his religious message within the framework of his own religious tradition without intending in any way to start a new religion with a new name; complete with a new set of rules and doctrines. His mission did not envision a global community of Jewish and non-Jewish people. The so called Gentiles (non-Jewish nations) had little to no share in even the crumbs of his ministry (See Matthew 15:26-27; and Matthew 7:6 where Jesus disclaims the ‘goyim’ or gentiles as “dogs and pigs” who have no share in holy and sacred things that he was offering to his own people). The truth of the historical claim that Jesus’ message did not encompass what we call today Christianity is writ large in the Christian Holy Bible for all to see.

“Don’t think that I have come to destroy the law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets. I have not come to destroy their teachings but to do what they said.” (Matthew 5:17; International Children’s Bible)