OPERATION HALF TRUTH

English: Ascension of Christ

English: Ascension of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I reblogged The Great Substitution (5/31/13). In that post, BJ briefly describes what a major Muslim scholar believed about the death of Christ Jesus. Ibn Abbas, Muhammad’s cousin and the first Qur’anic scholar said Jesus chose one of younger apostles, cast his his own resemblance on the man, and had him die in his place.  Thus, Jesus grabbed the glory and then ascended into heaven (see also Islamic view of Jesus’ death and The Death of Jesus according to Islamic sources – 4).

After I reblogged The Great Substitution (5/31/13), I thought I was done with the subject. Wrong! I got this comment.

novascout says:

June 1, 2013 at 6:32 pm

It’s an interesting article, although I think it indicates more respect for Jesus and his story, as understood by adherents of another religion, than most Christians would believe Muslims adhere to.  It describes a direct taking up into Heaven of Jesus as the result of a direct intervention of God.  Overlaid on orthodox Christianity, this story just skips from the “Is it I?” conversation to the Ascension.  Certainly not orthodox belief, but more alert to some elements of our beliefs than might be believed by many Christians.

What  describes I would have expected any Christian find offensive. Apparently, that is not the case. Moreover, Muslims think of Jesus as a prophet. So I doubt Muslims think they are being offensive to Jesus. The Koran actually mentions Jesus (calling him Isa) more often than it does Muhammad (here are the references). Therefore, I decided the matter deserved a bit more thought.

Are  and I wrong? Does the Koran show respect for Christ Jesus? I still don’t think so. At the time when Muhammad began using warriors to spread his religion of “peace,” Christianity, in the person of Christ Jesus, stood in his way. Thus, Muhammad had to devise propaganda designed to do two things:

  1. Show Jesus did not practice what He preached.
  2. Show Jesus was not God.

Did Christ Jesus practice what He preached? Did He obey the Father even unto death? Consider John 3:16.

John 3:16 Good News Translation (GNT)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

Christ Jesus spoke those words to Nicodemus. Subsequently, the Bible records that hundreds saw Christ Jesus die and rise from the dead. Hundreds of years latter, Muhammad‘s book, the Koran, records a magic trick. If Jesus Himself did not die on the cross, then God has not forgiven us of our sins. We have no redeemer. Instead, we have a monstrously clever deceiver who only pretended to die for our sins. As Easter Week Devotion: The Importance of the Resurrection at Settled In Heaven explains, the crucial facts of the Christian faith are the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Was Christ Jesus God? The Bible records that hundreds saw Christ Jesus die and rise from the dead. Hundreds of years latter, Muhammad‘s book, the Koran, records a magic trick. In order for Muhammad to be Allah’s number one holy man, Muhammad‘s book, the Koran, had to deny the death and resurrection of Jesus. And how did Muhammad know Christ Jesus did not die and rise from the dead? Here is what Muhammad recorded in the Koran.

[4.157] And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa  son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor  did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most  surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they  have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and  they killed him not for sure.
[4.158] Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
[4.159] And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most  certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of  resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them. (from here)

Why did Muhammad think God (Allah) would approve of and participate in such a deception? Apparently Muhammad did not believe what Jesus believed about love and service.

Mark 9:33-37 Good News Translation (GNT)

Who Is the Greatest?

33 They came to Capernaum, and after going indoors Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?”

34 But they would not answer him, because on the road they had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. 35 Jesus sat down, called the twelve disciples, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all.” 36 Then he took a child and had him stand in front of them. He put his arms around him and said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes in my name one of these children, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not only me but also the one who sent me.”

What Jesus taught is that we gain salvation by accepting His sacrifice, returning His love, and by loving our fellows. What Muhammad taught is that we earn salvation by obeying the prophet of Allah. To remove Jesus as a competitor, Muhammad had to lie about what Jesus had taught and done.

About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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21 Responses to OPERATION HALF TRUTH

  1. I remember this. I don’t know if it’s in the Koran or not, but the Muslims actually believe that Judas died on the cross in Jesus’ stead. This correlated with the gnostic Gospel of Barnabas account of Jesus’ crucifixion.

    Which doesn’t surprise me a whole lot because Islam is really a Christian heresy. Christianity was the dominate religion of the region at the time. Mohammed was a pagan — his family worshipped Allah who was some sort of moon god, but in his travels he had encountered Christianity and combined it with his pagan beliefs. Possibly he had some contact with Gnostics. He certainly wasn’t a Christian, but he did borrow heavily from Christianity. I’m not certain that he believed most of what he taught. I think his followers did, however. It’s similar to how Joseph Smith created a great con, but those who came to follow him ended up believing it.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Judas is a candidate. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Barnabas.

      Note, of course, that there is no authentic Gospel of Barnabas. In our era, we have people spreading nonsense across the Internet. In earlier times, some darn fool would claim to have “discovered” something he or an accomplice wrote.

      What sources did Mohammed use? Since I am not an expert on Islam, I have to be careful I don’t quickly leap beyond my knowledge, but I would say you are largely correct, but the moon god story is disputed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allah_as_Moon-god). I am not qualified to arbitrate that one. However, since Mohammed seems to have expected the Jews to join up with him, I guess he thought Allah and Jehovah were one and the same.

      I have read most of the Koran, and Mohammed borrowed heavily from the Bible. I think Mohammed focused on the Old Testament. The Koran certainly reads like a knockoff of the Old Testament, but I doubt Mohammed well understood the Old Testament. The Koran gives the impression Allah is a vengeful god. A superficial reading of the Old Testament would give the same impression. Of course, having said that, I will now be accused of reading the Koran with a superficial understanding. Shrug.

      Consider the nature of the Old Testament. Moses gave the Jews the Law. In order to EARN salvation, the Jews had to obey the Law. Furthermore, the Law provided the Jews a theocracy, and Mohammed wanted a theocracy, with himself, like Joshua, as Allah’s chief prophet. Since the New Testament described Jesus’ kingdom as not being of this earth, Mohammed wanted no part of that. Therefore, when the Koran addresses the New Testament, Mohammed’s goal is to set himself above Jesus. For example, here we have Jesus serving as John the Baptist for Ahmad (apparently another name for Mohammed).

      [61.6] And when Isa son of Marium said: O children of Israel! surely I am the apostle of Allah to you, verifying that which is before me of the Taurat and giving the good news of an Apostle who will come after me, his name being Ahmad, but when he came to them with clear arguments they said: This is clear magic. (from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=DIV0&byte=874756)

      What leaves me shaking my head is that we are suppose to think this treatment of Jesus and his mother, Mary, is charitable. See http://www.islam101.com/history/people/prophets/jesus/christ_in_islam2.htm.

      Charitable? It is an unfortunate fact, the but Koran teaches Muslims to have a hostile disposition towards any non-Muslim. That book requires the extermination of pagans, and death is also required of those who at one time were Muslims and openly renounce Islam. Mohammed just allowed Christians and Jews to exist so lower ranking Muslims would have someone to kick around.

      Anyway, if my understanding of the Koran is superficial, I guess I am not the only person with a superficial understanding of it. That must be why Islam produces so many terrorists.

      • Mohammed was, by all accounts, illiterate. His followers wrote down what he said, supposedly. So, what source did he use? I’m going to guess that he used to source most heretics use — the bits and pieces of flotsam and jetsam that float about in the popular culture. He had no text, no access to the Scriptures, but he probably knew a handful of people who told him about Christianity. Now for the Judaic portions, one of his wives was a Jewess, so he may well have gotten that from her.

  2. scout says:

    No, I’m quite sure that you are in good company as am I. The Koran is not easy stuff, especially for those not fluent in Arabic. One of my Muslim friends told me that a major problem in Islam today is that a significant proportion of all Muslims worldwide are illiterate or barely literate. In this respect, there are large areas of the Muslim world that are still engaged in the kind of tribal stor-telling that defined Islam in Mohammed’s near time. The religion puts a great premium on rote memorization of passages, but there is often little understanding of what is being recited. This, coupled with the lack of a central ecclesiastical authority who can speak definitively to matters of doctrine, leaves great room for mischief by agitators who would pervert Islam to political ends, even violent political ends.

    The Koran, in the passage you cite, recounts that Jews dismissed Jesus as a mere magician. There is a somewhat parallel but not identical passage in the New Testament. However, I disagree with you that the Koran explains its version of the Ascension as a “magic trick.” It is described as a matter of direct intervention by God through miraculous powers to raise a revered prophet directly to Heaven. If that were a “magic trick”, David Copperfield would be doing it in Vegas nightly. If you or BJ describe God lifting a prophet directly to Heaven as a “magic trick”, how do you describe making the dear rise, the blind see, the lame walk, the possessed clean? Surely these were not “magic tricks.” Who is showing greater respect in this context?

    We cannot expect Muslims to be orthodox Christians. The point I drew from the post and the link, however, is that their story overlaps somewhat with our sacred writings and that where those overlaps occur, while they might completely miss the parts we think essential to our faith (which they do not share), there is still an impressive respect shown to the person of Jesus and his unique relationship with God. Nor do I detect any element in the text of the Koran (mind you, I am no more a Koranic scholar than you are, so I invite correction) that tries to make out Jesus to be a liar or a poseur. Trinitarian Christianity it ain’t, but it is not disrespectful.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      There was a time Christians were illiterate or barely literate. When that began to change, the Catholic Church fought against translating the Bible into languages that people actually use. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church lost that battle, and at about the same time, the Pope lost his preeminent position as the authority on Christian doctrine. Thus, Christians began to read the Bible, and Christians had to decide for themselves what the Bible had to say to them. It was then that evils such as religious persecution and slavery began to decline in the West.

      Will religious persecution and slavery decline amongst Muslims as they become more literate and the Koran becomes more commonplace in languages besides Arabic? That depends upon what Koran says, does it not?

      Why did I cite that passage I cited from the Koran? I cited 4.157-159 to point out that according to Mohammed Jesus did not die on the cross. Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection is a central tenet of the Christian faith. If the Koran is true, then the Bible is not true. Since the Bible is true, when Mohammed wrote the Koran, he wrote a lie.

      Unless they convert to Christianity, I don’t expect Muslims to be orthodox Christians. That’s the sort of thing Democrats do. That is, Democrats expect Republicans to behave like Democrats. Why? Darned if I know. Its a peculiar expectation, but Democrats often criticize Republicans just for behaving like Republicans.

      Because most Muslims were raised to be Muslims, it does not even make sense to hold what they believe against them. They are not going to change just because someone is mad at them. Nonetheless, there is a problem. What people believe makes a difference. When Mohammed started Islam he told a bunch of lies, and the Muslims who accept Mohammed’s lies too often persecute non-Muslims. Even if Muslims make an impressive show of respect for Jesus, when they persecute all non-Muslims that is wrong.

  3. scout says:

    I think Muslims would tell you that Mohammed was essentially illiterate and did not write the Koran. He merely dictated to an amanuensis what had been told to him by an agent of God (the Angel Gabriel). It is also difficult to know how much Mohammed knew of Christianity at the time. Arab traders knew Jews in the Arabian peninsula and probably encountered Christians. But whether someone in Mohammed’s circumstances knew enough about Christian holy writings and teachings to be in a position to react directly to them is not clear, at least to me at my limited level of scholarship in this area.

    Adherents of religion tend to persecute adherents of other religions. This has been a bit of a problem for several millennia now. Not sure how we get around that one, given that virtually no one has a clean copy book on that front. (well, maybe the Baha’ais). I do think that there is a wide swath of Islam that is, however, caught in something of a time warp given the strong integrative forces in play around the world. It is essentially a nomadic, tribal religion that expanded with super-nova speed and force 1,000 years ago or so. How or whether a faith that is as brittle as this one in terms of its dealings with others and its Sands of Araby cultural traditions can function in a pluralistic global setting remains to play out over time.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Because Mohammed was illiterate, he must have told the truth? So we can believe the Koran?

      And all the adherents of one religion tend to persecute the adherents of other religions. So — ho hum — what’s to worry about? If we are nice to the Muslims, they will eventually get over it. Right? Yeah! Sure!

      It is a curious thing how some Christians refuse to consider the possibility that Christianity actually does make a vast difference in the behavior of Christians. Yet if being a Christian does not make a difference, what is the point? Why not pick some other religion? Aren’t they all the same? No.

      Karl Barth was lecturing to a group of students at Princeton. One student asked the renowned German theologian, “Sir, don’t you think that God has revealed himself in other religions and not only in Christianity?” Barth’s answer stunned the crowd. With a modest thunder he answered, “No, God has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has revealed himself in his Son [Jesus].” (from http://www.actsweb.org/articles/article.php?i=164&d=2&c=2)

      Nazism, Communism, the paganism of the ancient Romans, the paganism of the Aztecs, Buddhism, Hinduism, and so forth are ideologies with both religious and political ramifications. Islam is one of these. All were about man in search of God. These beliefs sought to conform God to man’s image of Him. Judaism and Christianity were revealed by God, and only Christians know Jesus — just how much God loves us. Because they have let God into their heart and soul, those who accept Jesus are reborn in Christ.

      When someone claims to be Christian, people either smile or grimace, but no one is frightened. When someone claims to be a Nazi, we do a double-take — for a reason. What that person has just claimed to believe frightens us. When somebody claims to be a Muslim, ……. Well, as you say, Islam has only been around since the 7th century. It remains to be seen how this will play out over time.

  4. bunkerville says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  5. scout says:

    Very odd comment. I went back up through the thread and didn’t find anyone saying that illiterates (mohammed or others) are compelled to tell the truth. Couldn’t find anyone saying that religious persecutions don’t merit our concern, either. Similarly, didn’t find anyone saying that if we are “nice” to Muslims, they will “get over it” (presumably a reference to religious persecution). And, (if that weren’t enough) couldn’t find anyone saying being a Christian makes no difference in one’s behaviour. I would think most Christians find that being a Christian makes a tremendous difference (positively) in all aspects of one’s life.

    I prefer it when comments respond to other comments. Not sure what that last one is all about. Perhaps moving into new areas.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      1. illiterates : You brought up the subject of illiteracy. If it was not relevant…..

      In the Qur’anic verse 7:157[39] Muhammad is identified as “ummi” which is traditionally interpreted as illiterate but the meaning is rather more complex. The medieval commentators such as Al-Tabari maintained that the term induced two meanings: firstly, the inability to read or write in general and secondly, the inexperience or ignorance of the previous books or scriptures however they gave priority to the first meaning. Besides Muhammad’s illiteracy was taken as a sign of the genuineness of his prophethood. For example, according to Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, if Muhammad had mastered writing and reading he possibly would have been suspected of having studied the books of the ancestors. Some scholars such as Watt prefer the second meaning. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quran)

      2. religious persecutions: Islam is a religion founded on persecution. That is how Mohammed spread it. Nonetheless, we are not suppose to say anything not nice about Islam?
      3. being a Christian makes no difference: We live in a society with a Christian heritage. Our standards come from our Christian heritage. Yet we expect everyone, even non-Christians to be able meet our Christian standards, even when their own belief system (in this case the Koran) and the historical record says they have no intention of doing so.

  6. scout says:

    Re No. 2: I think “conquest” is probably a better word than “persecution”. Christians also used conquest to spread religion, although with mixed results. Of course, the line between conquest and persecution can get rather flimsy. Islam was not founded on persecution, but it certainly did spread at swordpoint.

    RE No. 3: who said being a Christian makes no difference? It makes an enormous difference for Christians. Nonetheless, I think most of the major religions have central tenets that are largely compatible in the sense that an observant Hindu, an observant Muslim, an observant Buddhist, and observant Christian, and an observant Jew would approach most issues that life tends to present in a similar fashion,

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Re No. 2:Killing people when they refuse to convert to your religion is conquest, not religious persecution? :roll:

      Even though He is God, Jesus did not spread Christianity at swordpoint. For hundreds of years, Christians spread Christianity without using any swords. it was only when officialdom sanctioned Christianity that some political figures started abusing their power and used Christianity as an excuse, but the Bible does not sanction conquest to spread the faith.

      RE No. 3: Who said being a Christian makes no difference? Effectively, you just did. You said “it makes an enormous difference for Christians.” Then you said you can accomplish the same thing by following the tenets of almost any other religion.

      When Christ Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago, that event and news His resurrection slowly reverberated around the globe. Not only did many become Christians, those of other faiths adapted some of Jesus’ teachings into their own traditions. Because other faiths adapted many of Jesus’ teachings, that tends to obscure just how unique what Jesus taught remains. Nonetheless, I can think of at least three things Jesus taught the world finds frightfully difficult to ingest. The problem is pride.
      1. Salvation is a gift. When we learn we cannot earn salvation, that stings our pride. Nevertheless, we can only repent of our sins, accept our brokenness, and thank Him for His mercy and grace.
      2. Christian love requires us to set aside our pride. “Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all.”
      3. We exist for God, not to elevate ourselves. Creation is about the infinite glory of God, not our own finite lives. If we are to ever amount to anything, that will be because He has chosen to love us.

  7. scout says:

    A lot of killing has gone on when a religion with political power seeks to eliminate holders of other faiths. Virtually no major religion I can think of has clean hands in this, although your point that these crimes (whether they be Christians against the Jews of Spain, Christians against Muslims (ancient or modern), Muslims against Christians, Hindus and Muslims against each other etc. etc.) are political perversions of doctrinal religion is quite accurate. Religion is quite readily hijacked by ignorant or malevolent political figures and employed for misguided secular purposes. Bin Laden is a classic recent case, although all time and all faiths could provide examples.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Scout – Why do you persist in digging yourself into a hole? Why continue to make the case that being a Christian does not make any difference?

      Because men are imperfect, imperfect men make imperfect Christians. Nonetheless, our imperfections do not make what the Bible teaches any less perfect.

      When we compare and contrast Christians with people of other faiths, what should we observe? How about whether being a Christian improves people relative to being a member of another faith? I think the answer obvious. Most Christians are much better off for being brought up as Christians. Our problem is that too many of us are too lazy to study the Bible. We don’t know enough about what the Bible says to practice well the faith we claim.

      Did Bin Laden hijack Islam? How many active and “legal” Christian missionary groups can you find in Saudi Arabia?

  8. scout says:

    You’re clearly confusing me with someone else not on this thread, Tom. I said quite the opposite: that being a Christian makes a “tremendous difference (positively) in all aspects of one’s life.” (to quote myself – a reasonably good source in this context). The message of Christianity, that God became incarnate and suffered mortal death to atone for the sins of man, is unique and completely liberating. Not sure why you want to say that that makes no difference, even if you’re only mis-attributing that notion to me.

    I did say (and perhaps this is where you became confused) that observant adherents of the major religions would probably make the same decisions about most of life’s situations as would a Christian. But, of course, this refers to this world. Christianity is in but not of this world. The key difference are how we perceive life beyond earthly existence. Our daily moral code is probably not that different from our Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Zoroastrian, and Buddhist friends’ outlooks on how we navigate on this plane. If you know otherwise, I would be glad to hear examples.

  9. scout says:

    PS: I don’t think of professing my faith as “digging myself into a hole”, persistently or otherwise. You need to elevate your concept of the role of religion and try not to denigrate its adherents.

  10. scout says:

    Sorry, I missed the example. It may have been hiding in all the verbiage. Perhaps you could direct me to it.

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