The concept of God in Christianity is deficient

Dr. William Lane Craig: The biblical concept of god is morally deficient

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

In the Craig’s List (William Lane Craig) of absurdities, one that really stands out is his argument against the Islamic concept of God. He argues that “Islam has a morally deficient concept of God” [1] because whereas the Bible portrays God as absolutely all-Loving, the Qur’an depicts Him as One that shows partial love, i.e., He only loves the good and hates the sinner. To Craig, this is an unacceptable concept of God and such a god cannot possibly exist.

A common argument that Christian evangelists put forward is that God does not hate the sinner but the sin to which Dr. Shabir Ally retorts, “But God throws the sinner into hell and not just the sin.” If He only hates the sin and not the sinner, then why would He put the sinner in hell for all of eternity and not just the sin? In this simple rhetorical question, one sees that true deficiency lies within the Christian concept of deity and not with the Islamic. The biblical and Christian God is not impartial in His love for His creation. His love is very much conditional. In layman’s terms, God does not love the sinful person insofar that he languishes and continues in his sins. For that very reason, John 3:16 shows us that God’s love is conditional upon “believing” in His son that He has sent. One of the verses that Craig uses in his article to show that God is truly all loving is 1 John 4:8-10:

God is love, . . . In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son to be the sacrifice for our sins (I John 4.8, 10).

Jesus refused to be called ‘good’

“Why do you call me good?”

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Jesus is recorded to have denied the epithet ‘good’ that is attributed to him by an unknown person in Mark 10:17-18 (which is retained by Luke in Luke 18:18-19):

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (ESV)

Instead of accepting the title ‘good teacher’, Jesus corrects the person by relegating the modifier ‘good’ to God. He affirms that “no one is good except God alone.” Commenting on this, the Jewish theologian Dr. Joseph Klausner writes:

“That Jesus never regarded himself as God is most obvious from his reply when hailed as ‘Good master’: ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, God.’… Nor did he regard himself as Son of God in the later Trinitarian sense.” [1]

Evidence persuades us that the cross did not kill Jesus

Did Jesus really die on the cross?: A revisitation

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Christian missionaries confidently declare to Muslims that Jesus, according to them, as a fact of history, was crucified and died on the cross at the behest of Pontius Pilate. They cite scholars such as Marcus Borg, Bart Ehrman and Gerd Ludemann who, in their quoted writings, appear so certain about Jesus’ termination on the cross. But is the death of Jesus on the stipes and patibulum truly a certain historical incident? If it was, it would have been rather foolish of the BBC to produce a documentary, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, featuring such eminent theologians as John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright with the following eye-opening narration:

“But a man nailed to a cross does not die from his wounds. He dies surprisingly from suffocation. Hanging by your arms the chest is compressed. It’s hard to breathe without supporting your weight with your legs. Overtime, the strain and the pain make that impossible and you’re unable to breathe. In the Philippines, the volunteers are brought down from their crosses within an hour. Death from crucifixion takes much longer; often, several days. The only way to hasten death on the cross was to break the legs, making it immediately impossible to support your weight, and therefore, to breathe. But the gospels are all agreed that Jesus died after only three to six hours. The crucifixion began at the third hour (Mark 15:25). Some claim that the Gospel of Luke has the shortest crucifixion (Luke 23:44-46). Matthew and Mark have Jesus surviving a little longer. The disciples wanted to take Jesus’ body down from the cross immediately, but the Roman governor Pontius Pilate wasn’t convinced that he was dead (Mark 15:44). Pilate was reassured by the Centurion, but this was the same Centurion who had earlier said, “Truly this man was the son of God.” (Mark 15:39). Jesus’ body was then laid in a tomb donated by a rich man Joseph of Arimathea. This Joseph and a man named Nicodemus came to minister to the body. “(They)…came to Jesus by night and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes about an hundred pounds weight.” (John 19:39). These accounts when viewed as an historical rather than sacred record may raise some questions: Why did Jesus die so quickly? Why did Joseph and Nicodemus take so many herbs into the tomb? So it’s perhaps not surprising that some people have even dared to ask whether Pilate was right to have his doubts– whether Jesus did die on the cross.” [1]

Saint Thomas Aquinas: Reason does not lead to the Trinity

Saint Thomas Aquinas confirmed Islamic theology

By Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

The Doctor Angelicus of the Roman Catholic church postulated rational argumentation for the existence of God in his so called quinque viæ (five ways). Saint Aquinas contends that with reason, one can be rest assured that God is absolutely one– the common denominator between Judaism and Islam. Although orthodox Christianity affirms the statement “God is One,” the church expanded the concept to include three persons (i.e., the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) creating what is known as the Trinity. The Trinitarians adamantly insist that to believe in anything less than the Trinity is heretical and blasphemous. In orthodox Christianity, then, the fundamental concept of God is not simply that “He is One” but that “He is THREE in ONE.” Without getting into the complexities that such a doctrine entails in this short article, it is important to note that in Saint Aquinas’s rational postulation, he comes to the conclusion that through reason, one can only reach the conclusion that God is One but never that He is a Trinity.

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University Dr. Brian Davies writes:

“As I have noted, Aquinas claims that the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be arrived by reason. His consistently upheld position is that reason can lead us to know that there is but one God, though it cannot prove that there is distinction in God as proclaimed by the doctrine of the Trinity.” [1]

According to Saint Aquinas, who is without a doubt one of the greatest of Catholic thinkers hence the title given to him by Saint Antoninus, i.e., Doctor Angelicus (Angelic Doctor), the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be proven or appreciated through reason. Since reasoning cannot bring us to the Trinity, it must be correctly regarded as an unreasonable doctrine.

Notes:

[1] Davies, B. (2016). Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles: A Guide and Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 445 fn. 14

Charity for non-Muslims according to Islam

Can Muslims be charitable towards non-believers?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Some unscrupulous missionaries accuse Islam of practising exclusivity in its treatment of the downtrodden. They claim that Islam only respects those that adhere to the faith while the alleged message to all those that do not believe is “abandon all hope.” This is a complete misrepresentation of what Islam stands for and history proves such calumny to be completely false. Unfortunately, there are also some elements within the Muslim community that share the same view as those missionaries. They think that Muslims should only be helping other Muslims and non-Muslims should fare for themselves. Such Muslims along with their Christian missionary counterparts should be given intensive lessons in the history of the religion.

First, we recall the great Potato Famine of Ireland and the intervention undertaken by the great khaleefah (caliph) of the Muslims of the time the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Majid I.

In the time of Queen Victoria of England and Empress of India, Ireland experienced the Great Hunger of the 1840s and it was dubbed the Potato Famine which caused the deaths of at least one million Irishmen. News of that great tragedy reached the court of the khaleefah of the Muslims Sultan Abdul-Majid I who did not waste much time to intervene by pledging to dispatch a humanitarian aid in the amount of 10,000 sterling pounds (equivalent to 1.7 million USD today). Hearing of the sultan’s proposal, the Queen of England chose to disrupt the aid by requesting that the Sultan reduce the amount to a meager 1000 pounds under the excuse that 2000 pounds had already been sent by her. The sultan acquiesced to Victoria’s intervention, but in secret, he sent five ships loaded with food. The English military tried to intercept the ships, but they safely reached Drogheda harbour and the aid was successfully distributed among the famine-stricken Irish. [1]

Anslem’s argument disproves Jesus as God

Saint Anslem of Canterbury proved Jesus isn’t God

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

The celebrated Catholic Benedictine theologian and philosopher Saint Anslem of Canterbury proposed a fine ontological argument that God is “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.” In other words, any candidate that is placed on a pedestal can only pass off as the ultimate and true God of the universe if he can be demonstrated to be the greatest there is. Should it be demonstrated that anything else is greater than said candidate, then he is disqualified as the one and only true God of the universe.

Putting Jesus Christ of the New Testament to the test

“…the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28)

In the above quotation, Jesus himself declares his inferiority to another and according to Anslem’s ontological argument, Jesus completely fails the test of incomparable greatness.

To reconcile the difficulty above, the evangelist will appeal to the Kenosis theory, which says that during Jesus’ earthly ministry he “emptied himself” of some of the divine attributes he had prior to his incarnation. So the argument has it that Jesus in his true and actual form would be absolutely equal to the Father in every manner and in every way. This trinitarian supposition is completely falsified by 1 Corinthians 15:28:

“And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

The Kenosis of Jesus supposedly only spans between Mary’s conception of Jesus up to the point where Jesus suffers death on the cross. According to the Kenosis theory, Jesus receives back his full glory upon his resurrection but according to 1st Corinthians 15:28, which is post-resurrection, Jesus remains ultimately inferior to God, who is, in the end, above every single thing including Jesus. Once again, evidently, scripture in tandem with Anselm’s ontological argument lead us to the undeniable Islamic conclusion that Jesus is not God.

The Nameless Gospels

The Anonymous Gospels of the New Testament

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Dean at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Keith Fullerton Nickle informs his readers that the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are anonymous literature. We simply have zero clue who wrote them.

“We must candidly acknowledge that all three of the Synoptic Gospels are anonymous documents.” [1]

The names given to the four gospels that everyone takes for granted were actually imposed upon documents that were literally nameless. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were names that were forced upon the documents by unscrupulous persons such as Iranaeus, who according to G. A. Wells was about the first individual to designate the gospels with those four apostolic titles which would have certified those anonymous documents, as was the patristic intention, as apostolic hence making them authoritative as divine scripture. Noting this most important point, Senior Lecturer in Studies in Religion at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia Dr. Rick Strelan writes:

“The Gospels are anonymous texts — to say it again — but later authority issues among Christians forced them to identify Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as authors of the Gospels, and, in turn, to associate these names with apostolic auhority.” [2]

 

The late Jesuit priest Father Daniel J. Harrington, who was Professor of New Testament and Chair of the Biblical Studies Department at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, has it that:

“All four of the Gospels are anonymous, that is, they themselves do not tell us who their authors were. The Fourth Gospel indicates, as we shall see, that “the disciple Jesus loved,” who figures prominently in the second half, was responsible for this Gospel, but even he is anonymous. In the second century the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were attached to the Gospels, and near the end of the century John was identified as the Apostle John. It is unlikely that the Fourth Gospel as we have it was written by an apostle, but it may embody a tradition of interpreting Jesus that originated with an apostle, and of course we can neither prove nor disprove that it was John.” [3]

Notes:

[1] Nickle, K. F. (2001). The Synoptic Gospels: An Introduction. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 43

[2] Strelan, R. (2007). Luke the Priest: The Authority of the Author of the Third Gospel. England: Ashgate Publishing Limited. p. 11

[3] Achtemeier, P. J., Harrington, D. J., Karris, R. J. et. al. (2002). Invitation to the Gospels. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press. p. 328