Even a declaration by the Pope or the president of the United States would not change any facts. I am sure that Al-Kadhi will agree that no human authority can change the reality of God by issuing a declaration. Should the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar become an apostate and declare that Muhammad was not a prophet, Al-Kadhi would not accept the existence of such a declaration as an argument. After this foundational remark, let us proceed and look at his statements.
"Even in the modern age there are churches in Asia, in Africa, the Unitarian church, the Jehovah's witnesses, and even the majority of today's Anglican Bishops do not worship Jesus as God."
That's true. Let's not stop here. Most of the world's Buddhists and Hindus don't believe in only 1 God, and don't believe that Muhammad is His "messenger". Then you have Indonesia ... the largest Muslim population in the world. Their brand of Islam is made up of mysticism and superstition. The same can be said for Muslims in central Africa. Then you have the Ahmadiyya movement which differs greatly from orthodox Islam. Then you have the Sunnis and the Sufis with major differences.
Mr. Al-Kadhi states, "With every passing day, the most learned among the Christian community are slowly recognizing the truth and drawing closer and closer to Islam". I wouldn't say this. Are the above heretical Islamic movements therefore drawing closer to Christianity because they are moving away from orthodox Islam? Does Mr. Al-Kadhi really want to propose that these Bishops which are giving up all notion of direct revelation from God are with this step moving closer to Islam, which has an even more strict understanding of direct revelation through the Qur'an? No, what we see is something else.
The apostles warned long ago of this coming apostasy:
In 2 John 9, John wrote, "Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God".
In Romans (16:17-18), Paul wrote, "I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded".
Luke wrote in Acts (20:29-30), "I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them".
I personally believe that the future will culminate in the almost total departure of faith in God. I base this on Luke (18:8) when Jesus himself asks the disciples in a probing manner, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth"?
Mr. Al-Kadhi states, "If we were to read the Bible we would find that long after the departure of Jesus, his faithful followers continued to keep up their daily attendance at the Temple" (Acts 2:46). The temple was a meeting place for the disciples to worship. If you read the whole verse, they also gathered in their homes for worship.
Mr. Al-Kadhi states, "if Jesus had indeed commanded them to forsake the commandments" ... Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come NOT to abolish BUT TO FULFILL" (Matthew 5:17).
Mr. Al-Kadhi states, "It is further beyond belief that the Jews of the Temple would stand idly by and allow them to do this if they were preaching the total cancellation of the law of Moses and that Jesus was God." Why does Mr. Al-Kadhi ignore all the persecution of the Christians for what they were teaching??
"forsake the commandments?" ... the disciples did not teach this.
Read this page for a more detailed discussion of the previous three points.
"Jesus only called his followers to a continuation of the religion of Moses"? Not true. The Mosaic law was based on animal sacrifices. Hebrews (9:22) states, "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins". By Christ's fulfilling of the law, "he has appeared once for all to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself" (9:26). In Matthew (26:28), Jesus said "for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins".
The part about "Jesus = God" is covered in a more complete discussion on the Trinity. But in a brief sense, like Muslims believe that God's words became the Quran, we believe that God's Word became a man.
Instead of believing what man has to say about Jesus, it would be better if we listened to Christ's words about himself: "For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
A further part of Al-Kadhi's argument is:
"Muslims are not the only ones who believe that Jesus (pbuh) is mortal and not a god. The Jews also believe this, in addition to the very first groups of Christianity such as the Ebonites [sic], the Cerinthians, the Basilidians, the Capocratians [sic], and the Hypisistarians. The Arians, Paulicans and Goths also accepted Jesus (pbuh) as a prophet of God.
None of these groups are "the very first groups of Christianity" All arose after 70 AD - some 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, and after the death of most of the apostles (including Paul!).
It is true that the Ebionites believed in only one God, and believed that Jesus was merely a man. However, the evidence of history is that they were a deviant sect of Jewish Christianity which arose after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. [EDT 339]
The strongest evidence against the Ebionites being the first followers of Jesus is the complete lack of reference to them or their doctrines in the New Testament. When we read the letters of Paul, we read him debating with Jewish Christians over the place of the Jewish Law and the status of non-Jewish Christians. But there is never any argument over the deity of Jesus. If Paul introduced the doctrine of Jesus' deity, we would expect him to have to argue it in his letters. He does not!
The Cerinthians, Basilidians and Carpocratians were all Gnostic groups. The gnostics were a mix of Christianity and greek religion and philosophy. They believed, among other things, that matter was evil; that there were many gods; and that the world was created by one of the lesser gods. [Lion 98-100, or go direct to Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 1, chapters 24-26. Irenaeus was a Christian writer of the second century] If one wants to claim that the first followers of Jesus were Muslims, these gnostic groups are certainly not the example one is looking for! Besides, these sects arose in the late first and early second century, well after Christianity was established.
I could not find any reference anywhere to the Hypisistarians.
Al-Kadhi is wrong about the Arian position. Arians believed that Jesus was the Son of God and that he was himself a god, who existed before the creation of the world. They differed from orthodox Christianity in believing that he was not God. Their founder, Arius, lived in the 4th century AD so the Arians have no bearing on what the first followers of Jesus believed. [EDT 74-75]
The Goths were Arians so it was a mistake for Al-Kadhi to mention them separately. [EDT 75]
The Paulicans were a sect which arose about 750 AD [EDT 831] and so are of little interest.
[Lion] The History of Christianity (Ed. T.Dowley; Lion, 1977)
[EDT] Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Ed. W.Elwell; Baker, 1984).
However all details can easily be verified from any book on church history.
Further comments on the Anglican Bishops have to be made.
Al-Kadhi writes: "We even have the testimony of the majority of today's Anglican Bishops in defense of this basic truth. If we want the testimony of a trustworthy witness then how much more trustworthy a witness shall we ever find than the majority of the most learned and respected conservative Christians of the Anglican Church?"
I am wondering how Al-Kadhi defines "conservative" and "liberal". The denial of miracles - these bishops don't only deny the deity, they also deny for example the virgin birth, that Jesus raised people from the dead, etc. is one of the defining elements of "liberal theology". Is that another point where they move closer to Islam? These bishops are not conservatives but liberals. Mr. Al-Kadhi should learn the proper definition of terms before he talks about issues he obviously does not understand.
Moreover, the "Gloria" is a section of the Anglican Communion Liturgy which goes like this:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Only Son of the Father,
Lamb of God,
You take away the sins of the world.
Most Anglican churches use the communion service at least once a week. Anglo-catholics probably several times a week.
Most Bishops are preaching every week, and would usually lead the communion if it is a communion service they are preaching at. Maybe on average every week, at least every two weeks.
Therefore every clergyman and every bishop uses this liturgy many times every year in the communion services. If these bishops do not believe that Jesus is God, but they lead communion services then they participate and lead worship of Jesus as God. Either they believe it or they are living continual hypocrisy. In the latter case, I do not think Mr. Al-Kadhi wants to base his argument on these models of integrity.
In any case, Mr. Al-Kadhi's claim which he even underlined: "... the majority of today's Anglican Bishops do not worship Jesus (pbuh) as God." is plain wrong. A number of them might do so without believing in it, but they do in fact worship him as God on a weekly basis. Mr. Al-Kadhi is badly uninformed and has drawn ignorant conclusions of this newspaper snippet. But if they were men of integrity they would give up their well paid jobs instead of living in pretense.
There are other issues with this survey on Anglican bishops. Even though the above basically takes care of it, perhaps it is worth also pointing out that Al-Kadhi is reading too much into the survey results anyway.
[quoting a Daily Mail article] "Only 11 of the bishops insisted that Christians must regard Christ as both God and man, while 19 said it was sufficient to regard Jesus as "God's supreme agent"
But what is a messenger of God? Is he not "God's supreme agent"? This is indeed what God Himself has already told us in the noble Qur'an 1400 years ago, and exactly what Jesus (pbuh) himself testified to in the Bible: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3
Absolutely not. "God's supreme agent" means FAR more than a messenger who brings a book. It means that Jesus is the means of salvation - that Jesus died for peoples' sins, so they can have eternal life though faith in him. This is what the phrase "God's supreme agent" would mean for all but the most liberal Christians.
Indeed, that is what the very quote (John 17:3) also says: eternal life is to know Jesus Christ. Not to know ABOUT Jesus Christ. Not to know his book, or his teachings. But to know Jesus Christ, the person, HIMSELF. Just a "messenger of God"? I think not!
Furthermore, Al-Kadhi brings a number of quotes from liberal scholars in regard to which he might think about this.
By the way, Oxford University Press will publish in January 1998 a 400 page anthology of liberal Islam. I wonder what Al-Kadhi would say when we then start to take our arguments about "true Islam" from this book?
The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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