Friday, October 5, 2007

More Confusion?

I feel like I'm often very pro-Islam for some reason. I've justified it in the past with the excuse that my Christian upbringing leads me to read primarily about Islam as that's where my knowledge is most lacking. However, after my last post, I realized that I need to apply the same criticism to Islam as to Christianity. In particular, my argument about the Trinity being complex and mysterious and my desire to believe that God wouldn't ask us to accept anything too terribly confusing.

If you're unfamiliar with Islam's story of Jesus, I'll give a brief, hopefully accurate but definitely incomplete, summary. Islam, like Christianity, believes that Mary was approached by the archangel Gabriel and informed of her virgin pregnancy. Mary she left town to give birth in the wilderness under a date tree and was made unable to speak about her pregnancy and birth upon returning to town with the baby Jesus. Since his mother was unable to defend herself against accusations of unchastity, the baby Jesus miraculously spoke and defended her, which then broke the seal on his mother's lips. His miraculous conception and birth, however, did not make him a deity any more than Adam, Eve, or Melchizedek are deities although they were created by God without father or mother.

Jesus' mission, according to Islam, is very similar to his mission according to Christianity. He wandered through Israel and Judea performing miracles and teaching the Gospel. However, this was done as a prophet of God rather than as Son of God. Islam (as a majority, although this also states a different viewpoint) does not believe that Jesus was crucified but was simply made to look crucified, either through being replaced by a look-a-like or else by simply fainting on the cross and then waking in the tomb. Most Muslims believe that Jesus was taken up to heaven by God while still alive and will again come, just as in Christianity, at the end of days to establish Islam as the world's religion and abolish all others.

Until just now when reading the differing viewpoints of Jesus within Islam, I had only been aware of the theory where Jesus was replaced with another man made to look like him. This is the point I wanted to refute as confusing. Why would God make it look like Jesus was crucified if we are all supposed to believe otherwise? It would be one thing if only the Romans and his Jewish enemies were convinced of his death but his followers and even his mother witnessed and believed his death.

Of course, now as I write my argument, I'm finding holes. If Jesus didn't claim to be the son of God, it wouldn't matter if he died or not. Whether Jesus the prophet died on the cross or not, he still spent his life teaching God's word and performing miracles in His name. Whether Jesus the prophet was raised to Heaven while still alive or he died a natural death beforehand, he still spent his life teaching God's word and performing miracles in His name. Jesus' crucifixion only really matters if Jesus is not just a prophet but God's Son, sent to pay for the sins of the world through his suffering on the cross and his following internment in Hell before being raised on the third day.

I definitely agree with the arguments that Jesus' staged death is tricky and not very consistent with my impression of God. However, as I stated in the last paragraph, I don't know if it matters much unless it is a central facet of your religion. If Jesus hasn't been crucified but had died a natural death, couldn't he still be deified? Indeed, many religions don't even wait for someone to die before declaring them as gods; for instance, the Dalai Lama or all the many kings and rulers who were worshipped as gods (in the literal sense) by all their subordinates.

I guess I didn't have any revelations in today's post. Oh well, you can't find enlightenment everyday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As to the Trinity being confusing and your not desiring to believe that God wouldn't ask us to accept anything too terribly confusing -- God expects us to accept His teaching by using His gift of faith. As such, there are certain things which in our limited understanding of the cosmos of His creation appear confusing. As we read through the Scriptures we can find the same attributes credited to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is a good discussion of this in Isaiah Bennett's "Inside Mormonism"; another religion which, like Islam, denies the Trinity.

Remember that the Koran was written by one person (Muhammed) using Jewish and Nestorian Christian sources. Since Nestorianism rejected the divinity of Christ, it is only logical thqat the human author would reflect the same error. Concerning the parents of Melchizedek, see and look at the point paper "Who In The Heck Was Melchizedek", which points out his human parentage.

Jesus' mission is not similar at all to the mission according to Islam. Jesus' mission was to reconcile God and mankind through the forgiveness of sins. Again, see and the point paper on Covenant. Since the original sin had been committed by man, heaven had been closed and would remain so until the perfect man made the perfect sacrifice to open it again. That one perfect sacrifice was made by Jesus, who claimed diety for Homself while at the same time following not hsis human will, bot God's will; thus necessitating the one perfect sacrifice on the altar of the cross. If this were not so, would 23 of the first 24 popes have accepted martyrdon along with all the original apostles (with the excception of John who is said to haave been thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil but suffered no hurt?

As to whether Jesus truly died on the cross, he suffered the curse of death which accompanied Adam's violation of the covenant and 2 Peter tells us that he descended to Hades/Sheol where he announced the opening of heaven to all the souls trapped there. His soul went to Sheol, like all other human souls, because He was fully human as well as being fully divine. If Jesus had been replaced on the cross by a look-alike, would the apostles and their followers have endured martyrdom in pursuit of a hoax?

Your search for the truth is commendable, but you would be better served by a face-to-face meeting with a priest or clergyman of your choice rather than on a blog such as this where focusing of your thoughts is impossible.

May God bless your search for truth.