Monday, July 20, 2009

A Christian - Muslim Dialogue, part 10

The following is part 10 of my critique of a "Christian - Muslim Dialogue" by H.M. Baagil.

Not only do Muslims deny Jesus’ resurrection, they even deny that he was crucified!

On pages 27-28 Baagil says, “The Noble Qur’an states in Surah 4:157-158 that Jesus PBUH was not crucified.” Baagil then quotes the Qur’an which says, “And their [Jews] boasting: ‘We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the apostle of Allah,’ but they [Jews] killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they killed that man).”

In support of the Qur’an, Baagil argues that Jesus prayed not to be crucified so, Baagil reasons, God must have answered him.

Notice, however, how Baagil’s argument works. In spite of the fact that the Gospels all agree that Jesus was crucified, Baagil assumes that the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion are inaccurate.
But Baagil takes Jesus’ prayer out of context, assuming that this prayer is authentic and accurate!

Not even this “cherry-picking” of evidence will work for Baagil, though, because in this same prayer that Baagil treats as authentic, Jesus also prayed, “thy will be done.” God did answer Jesus’ prayer. God’s will was done, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:10 (cf. also Acts 2:23 and 1 Peter 1:2). This is the essence of the Christian message: that "God so loved the world (even Muslims!) that he sent his only Son that whover believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Baagil then argues that when Jesus said “touch me not” this must be understood in the Muslim sense that Jesus was a male Muslim who couldn’t let a woman touch him.

Aside from the fact that Muslims didn’t even exist for another 600 years after Jesus’ time, Baagil’s argument ignores the context of John. In the context of John, Jesus’ command “touch me not” cannot be a denial of Jesus’ crucifixion because Jesus gives this command after he was already crucified and raised! We must always beware of people who continually pull passages out of context.

Baagil then argues that Jesus asked his disciples “to examine his hands and feet that there were no signs of nailing on the cross (Luke 24:36-41).”

Once again, Baagil pulls yet another passage out of context. In context, the events of Luke 24:36-41 occur after Jesus’ resurrection. Luke 24:36-41 was merely making the point that the resurrected Jesus was not a spirit but had flesh and bones. Luke does NOT deny that the risen Jesus had nail prints.

Baagil conveniently neglects to mention that according to John 20:27 Jesus invited Thomas to “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.” Jesus was using the nail prints and spear wound as proof that he really was the same Jesus who was crucified.

Not only do Luke and John affirm Jesus’ crucifixion, but so do Matthew, Mark, Acts, Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians, Hebrews and Revelation, all written in the first century AD.

The crucifixion of Jesus is also confirmed by other ancient Christians whose writings were not included in the New Testament—sources all written from about 400 to 500 years before Muhammad; for example, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, the letter of Barnabas, Hegesippus, Mileto of Sardis, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origin, and Tatian (Diatessaron).

(Note: The Letter of Barnabas mentioned above is not to be confused with the so-called Gospel of Barnabas. On page 37 Baagil cites the Gospel of Barnabas as if it were genuine but even Muslim scholars acknowledge that the Gospel of Barnabas is a medieval Muslim forgery).

Even ancient non-Christians affirmed Jesus’ crucifixion. For example, the first century Jewish historian, Josephus says Jesus was crucified as does the early second century non-Christian, Lucian. Even the Roman historian Tacitus confirms Jesus execution saying that Jesus "sufferred the "extreme penalty" under Pontius Pilate.

The crucifixion of Jesus is an accepted fact in the scholarly world. Even radical anti-Christian skeptics believe Jesus was crucified. In fact, the only ones who reject this fact are Muslims who must reject Jesus’ crucifixion because Muhammad rejected it. If Jesus was crucified, Muhammad was wrong.

So why did Muhammad—who lived about 600 years after Jesus--teach that Jesus was not crucified? The answer is very simple. Muhammad was deceived by a group of people we often call "Gnostics" who believed that Jesus was divine but not truly human. As a result of their philosophy, the Gnostics concluded that Jesus couldn't really die. So starting about 200 to 300 years after Jesus’ death, these Gnostics argued that Jesus was not really crucified and that he died only in appearance. They were not doing history, mind you, they were just trying to twist history to fit their philosophy.

The idea, found in the Qur’an, that a substitute died in Jesus’ place comes from this group of Gnostic pseudo-Christians who didn’t even believe Jesus was truly human!

That Muhammad got his ideas from these Gnostics is evidenced by the fact that Muhammad got other ideas from this group as well. For example Muhammad’s teaching that Jesus made clay birds come to life and fly away comes from the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas which is another gospel written about 200 years after Jesus. Absolutely no one thinks this story is true, except Muslims who must believe it because Muhammad taught it! Muhammad probably got it from his “Christian” uncle or other heretical “Christians” with whom he had come in contact.

We know about these ancient Gnostics from ancient writings they left. For example, a writing called The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, probably written about 200 years after Jesus was born, puts these words into the mouth of Jesus:

“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.”

This treatise says that Jesus died not in reality but in appearance and that he was laughing at them.

Likewise the so-called Apocalypse of Peter, written over 200 years after the time of Jesus, says,:

“The Savior said to me, ‘He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hand and feet they drive the nails in his fleshly part, which is the substitute…”

So supposedly, while “the living Jesus” was being crucified—one of the most brutal tortures imaginable—he was laughing because the nails had been driven into the hands of a substitute!

This is the pool of ideas from which Muhammad got his idea when he said, "That they [Jews] said in boast, 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God'--but they killed him not nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them..." (Surah 4:157).

Some of these early Gnostic heretics taught that the Trinity was God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit the Mother (e.g. The Gospel of the Hebrews—not to be confused with the biblical book of Hebrews).

No wonder Muhammad was shocked! He apparently thought that Christians believed that God the Father had sex with God the Mother (whom they identified with the Holy Spirit) and produced God the Son! But this is not what orthodox Christians believed! The virgin birth of Jesus—which is something taught even in the Qur’an—is a mystery which is not to be thought of in terms of sexual relations.

But this raises an interesting question: Since the Qur’an teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin (Surah 3:47-49) how could this possibly happen unless it was directly the work of God? According to the Muhammad, Jesus was of great honor, righteous, a prophet (Surah 43:59), God's Apostle (Surah 4:157) and even the Christ (Surah 3:45-46). He was one to whom God imparted his revelation (3:47-49; 5:110) and one who was strengthened with holy inspiration (Surah 2:87; 2:253; 5:110). According to Muhammad, Jesus healed the blind, healed lepers and even raised the dead (Surah 5:110), none of which Muhammad could do.

In fact, so great is Jesus that according to the Hadith, “Narrated Abu Huraira: The Apostle said, “So they will go to Jesus and say, “O Jesus! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Word (6.200-201; 60.178.236)” and “Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, “Go to Jesus, Allah’s Slave, His Apostle, and Allah’s Word and a Spirit coming from Him (6.4).” In other words, Muhammad called Jesus the very “Word of God.” Muslimis need to ask themselves how you can separate the word of God from God himself? It’s like trying to separate the sun’s rays from the sun, or heat from fire or the spirit from the body.

Bottom line: Jesus is the holy, righteous miracle-working Word of God! There is none like him.
There is none above him. He is the ONE to whom every person who ever lived will give account at the last judgment. He is the ONE to whom every knee will bow. He is the ONE to whom we must bow and confess with the apostle Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

Tomorrow: A concluding post-script specifically to Christians.