|أحمد محمد لبن Ahmad.M.Lbn|
مؤسس ومدير المنتدى
عدد المساهمات : 27085
العمر : 67
|موضوع: Chapter 6: The Claims of Jesus الإثنين 21 أغسطس 2017, 8:57 pm|| |
Chapter 6: The Claims of Jesus
By this point in my search, I recall being in something of a panic. Neither the verses in the Bible about Jesus being the Son of God, nor the prophecies of the Messiah, could be used to support a claim of Jesus’ divinity. There was a world of difference between “he will be called the Son of God”, as Gabriel proclaimed in Luke 1:35, and “he will be the Son of God”, as I had generally understood.
There was even more difference between these phrases and “he will be God in human flesh”, which was the doctrine I had been trying to justify. If Jesus was, as he claimed, the “one anointed to preach Good News to the poor” prophesied by Isaiah, and the Messiah as he was proclaimed by Gabriel, the apostles, himself and the rest of the New Testament, then according to the verses I had found in the Old Testament, he could not have been God. I began to look frantically for those verses that I could use to prove that Jesus had to be the divine, begotten Son of God. The Gospel According to John had always been used by my teachers to answer this sort of question, so I looked to it to help me.
When I discussed this with my mother, a verse that she used to support Jesus’ divinity was: “‘I tell you the truth’, Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’”, found in John 8:58. This is generally read by Christians as a strong declaration by Jesus of his God-hood, because of his use of the phrase “I am”, the name by which God had identified himself to Moses. In my studies, I had become quite used to looking at things as objectively as I could, trying to examine them from the perspective of the unconvinced.
Because of this, I had to ask myself whether this verse could honestly be construed to say that Jesus had said that he was God. Many individuals in the Bible had been witness to many things that are not normally seen by mortals, but they were not thought to have been divine. Also, according to my copy of The Complete Gospels, edited by Robert J. Miller, a more accurate translation didn’t end in “I am” but instead said: “As God is my witness, I existed before there was an Abraham.”
Another verse that many used was: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” To my frustration, when I looked at it carefully, I found that John 3:16 really didn’t define which belief it meant: Jesus as God, Jesus as Messiah, or Jesus as Prophet. I was initially a little heartened to find another reference to Jesus as God’s begotten son until I researched the history of the verse and found that it had been modified in the fourth century by Jerome.
Early in the history of the Christian Church, a popular Christian leader named Arius, from the city of Alexandria, had argued his belief that the Bible taught that Jesus was created, not begotten. This later became known as the Arian Heresy, and his followers were brutally suppressed by the Christian Church. After the conflict was decided, and to consolidate belief, Jerome took the original version of John 3:16, which used the word “monogenes” meaning “unique” or “special”, and changed the word to “unigenitus”, which meant “only begotten”. So instead of finding my faith in contemporary Christian interpretation strengthened by John 3:16, I learned that this verse offered proof of the disrespect shown in the interpretation of the Bible by the early Fathers of the Church.
Yet another argument that I thought I could use to prove that Jesus had claimed that he was God was based on the verses in the book of John where Jesus says that he and God are one. These included John 10:38: “But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may learn and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father”, and John 14:10: “Don’t you know that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words that I say to you are not my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” I had thought that these verses could prove Jesus’ divinity by implication, since it seemed that for God to be in Jesus and Jesus to be in God, they both had to be the same being.
Unfortunately, this line of reasoning failed. Jesus had also said in John 14:20: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” If Jesus had been claiming divine status on the basis of God’s being in him and his being in God, then, I asked myself, why would he have said that his disciples also lived inside him and he inside them? I had to admit that if Jesus’ reference to he and God being in each other meant that Jesus was divine, then this would have had to apply to the disciples and the rest of us as well.
I decided to read everything else that John had written in the New Testament in an attempt to understand what he had meant by “in”. It turned out that he was quite explicit in 1 John 2:5-6: “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” I concluded that John had intended living ‘in’ God to mean following God's commands and conforming one’s behaviour to that of Jesus.
I then read John 17:22-23: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This verse seemed initially to be potentially fruitful, since in it Jesus states that he and God are “one”. With the eye of hope, it also seemed to make a distinction between two sorts of “oneness”; that of the followers of Jesus amongst themselves, and that between Jesus and God.
I did a little research and found out that there were actually two words for the concept “one” in Greek! One of the words, “heis”, described the numerical concept of “one”; the other, “hen”, apparently meant a unity of essence! I thought with excitement that if Jesus were recorded as having made a distinction between his “one-ness” with God and his followers’ “oneness” amongst themselves, then this verse would be a strong declaration on Jesus’ part of his own divine nature.
To my disappointment, in John chapters 10 and 17, the same word was used throughout, and it was “heis”, not “hen”. Jesus had not differentiated between the two different sorts of “oneness”. Upon careful and objective rereading, I realized that John 17:22-23 was a prayer by Jesus that all believers would have the same relationship to God as Jesus had.
I eventually had to accept that all of these mystical, difficult verses could not be used to prove that Jesus had said that he was God. If they had been declarations of his divinity, they would have had to apply to the rest of us as well as to Jesus himself.
There are many ways in which different individuals can be joined as “one”. Couples joined in marriage are described as becoming “one” in flesh, probably denoting the sex act, and also (“one” hopes!) “one” in their purpose and goals.
Individuals in agreement over some undertaking or disputed point are described as well as being “one”. Neither of these “ones” connotes or denotes identity. In the Gospel of John, oneness did not mean sameness.
There were other stories that I looked at as well, in hope and desperation. In one of them, Jesus told his disciples that if they saw him, then they saw the Father as well. Near to that group of verses was another where Jesus had told his disciples that if they accepted a little child, then they also accepted him.
Since Jesus obviously didn’t mean that the child was God, or that he was that child, I had to concede that this was not a declaration of divinity. I had always been taught that by doing good things for others, I was allowing them to see Jesus in me, and I knew that I wasn’t God!
In verse after verse after verse, the pattern was the same. What I wanted to believe seemed to have always clouded my interpretation of what Jesus had actually said. Since I had known all along that my only hope of proving the correctness of my beliefs to my Muslim friends had been in finding an incontrovertible verse where either Jesus, an Angel or a Prophet had declared Jesus to be God, I became despondent.
It would be fair at this point to ask why I had been clinging so hard to my need to support Christian doctrine, in the face of my finding so much accumulated evidence that it was false. When I had started to review the Bible, I had been completely convinced that my beliefs were exactly what the Bible taught. This had been my confirmation that my Faith was correct and approved by God, and also my confirmation that it could actually deliver on its promise of eternal peace with God in Heaven.
Some of my Pastors and teachers liked to say that if Jesus were not God, then he had to be a liar or a madman. I knew that he was neither. Everyone whom I had ever learned from had said that the claims that Jesus had made and the things that he had said could not be true unless he was God.
Now I had found that when I actually read the Bible, it really only said that he had been a man, strengthened by a Spirit from God. If this was true, then I couldn’t see how I could have any faith in anything that I had been taught. My beliefs had given my Faith a form that I could understand, and I had always believed that form to be founded in the Bible. Now, although I still wanted to believe in God, I didn’t know how I could.
I had been convinced that my Faith was founded on the certain knowledge that Jesus was both Messiah and God Incarnate, that sin could not be forgiven without sacrifice, and that it was Jesus’ perfection and substitutional sacrifice for all mankind that had facilitated my own reconciliation with God. Although I continued to believe that Faith was sent from God, the doctrine that I followed was almost inextricably linked to that gift.
I now had proof that the Biblical Messiah had to be human and fallible. The problem was that I believed that the New Testament taught that Jesus was God. John 1:1-2 said: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” I knew that these verses said that Jesus was God, because one of Jesus’ titles was “the Word of God”.
I had been excited when, in my reading, I had discovered that Jesus’ being the Word was even confirmed in Islam! Surah 4:171 said: “O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth.
Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not ‘Trinity’: desist.” Although this verse contradicted much of Christian doctrine, particularly the entire concept of the Trinity, it had supported my beliefs in that one essential point.
Now I was faced with a blatant contradiction between the Old and the New Testaments, a contradiction that was even supported by the Holy Quran, and I was afraid that this contradiction would completely destroy my ability to believe in Christian doctrine, and therefore would have to destroy my Faith in God as well. It was hard to have trusted in the Church for so long and then to realize that I had been being lied to, even unintentionally. At some point, someone must have known what was going on! Knowing that I had been lying to myself made it even harder to accept.