Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is Jesus God- Book Review Pt. 2

Having just critiqued Shabir’s disparaging of “little faith” in the previous post- let’s continue with just a bit more of Shabir’s disparaging of Jesus:

John 10: 22-36-  Here Shabir appears to be contextual but fails to include three verses concluding this paragraph.  Verses which disprove his “points”.   Verses which prove that the Jews understood Jesus quite well… and proceeded in trying to kill Him.  Which prove that Jesus was clearly mocking them as ‘gods that would die like mere men’ (Psalm 82:7)- as well as clearly claiming to be God.  God who would not die like mere men die.  Puny gods.

John 8:58- Here Shabir continues to be unconvinced by those powerful “I AM” statements.  He appeals to the discarded Wellhausen Theory.  Appeals to a peculiar Syrian translation.  Disputes the deeply entrenched canonical tradition of the Jews.  Doesn’t get the Septuagint translation right.  And can’t even get the verse reference right.  A total miss and a total mess.

Isaiah 7:14- “One of the most misunderstood verses of the Bible”.
Shabir then cites yet another  “defective translation” (as if Islam doesn’t have defective translations) to compound the misunderstanding.  He discounts the validity of translating  the Greek parthenos to virgin.  Preferring a very broad and obscure [‘lots of “young girls” have children’] semantic range instead.  Yet parthenos  remains a   current  scientific a term meaning virgin.
And then to further complicate things, Shabir eventually claims that Jesus was actually born of a virgin…because the Qur’an says so.  So there!

Next, Shabir also takes a stab at the semantical range of Immanuel in this section.  Claiming that Jesus was not exactly called Immanuel- therefore he was not “God with us”.  But Shabir is actually only recognizing a very narrow range of the word of “calling/καλέσουσιν (Mat 1:23 BGT)”.  d. Very oft. the emphasis is to be placed less on the fact that names are such and such, than on the fact that the bearers of the name actually are what the name says about them. The pass. be named thus approaches closely the mng. to be, and it must be left to the sensitivity of the interpreter whether this transl. is to be attempted in any individual case-  BDAG lexicon

Isaiah 9:6- Skipping some equally narrow notions, let’s proceed with more Isaiah.  More names of Jesus. 
Shabir denying that Jesus may be called “Mighty God” in this section because he is not “Everlasting Father” either.  But even Muslims recognize Jesus as everlasting (though they would dispute “eternal”).  And Jesus is indeed the Father of salvation… just as He is the founder and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2).  The NET Bible has a noteworthy note here:
19 tn This title must not be taken in an anachronistic Trinitarian sense. (To do so would be theologically problematic, for the "Son" is the messianic king and is distinct in his person from God the "Father.") Rather, in its original context the title pictures the king as the protector of his people. For a similar use of "father" see Isa 22:21 and Job 29:16. This figurative, idiomatic use of "father" is not limited to the Bible. In a Phoenician inscription (ca. 850–800 B.C.) the ruler Kilamuwa declares: "To some I was a father, to others I was a mother." In another inscription (ca. 800 B.C.) the ruler Azitawadda boasts that the god Baal made him "a father and a mother" to his people. (See ANET 499–500.) The use of "everlasting" might suggest the deity of the king (as the one who has total control over eternity), but Isaiah and his audience may have understood the term as royal hyperbole emphasizing the king's long reign or enduring dynasty (for examples of such hyperbolic language used of the Davidic king, see 1 Kgs 1:31; Pss 21:4–6; 61:6–7; 72:5, 17). The New Testament indicates that the hyperbolic language (as in the case of the title "Mighty God") is literally realized in the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy, for Jesus will rule eternally.

Shabir then goes on at length to dispute the nature of Jesus.  Citing several heretics and creating numerous straw men to burn… all to deny that Jesus could possibly have a dual-nature.   Yet later in this book Shabir claims that, “it is not difficult for Allah to do anything he wants”.  Except of course, to have a dual-nature if He wanted to, right Shabir?

Numerous other misunderstandings and misrepresentations, but I’d like to close this book review on this chapter.  Close this on Shabir’s final appeal to the Qur’an:
Qur’an 5:77- Say:  O people of the scripture!  Stress not in your religion other than the truth, and follow not the vain desires of the folk who erred of old and led many astray, and erred from the plain road.

Again, I would like to appeal to Muslims to consider their own works to be exactly that “vain desire” spoken of in the Qur’an.  To consider their own works as being that desperate desire borne completely of their own vanity.  A desire intended to compliment themselves.

And I would also hope that Muslims might recognize- that those who actually place their faith in the work of a glorious other, are actually  devoid of such vanity.   Might recognize that those who actually place their faith in a crucified Christ, are actually eschewing such vanity.   And are actually see their works as complimenting Christ.  Complimenting His already finished work.

The work of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession- Titus 2:13

Now there’s the work of a great God!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Salvation by Works in Islam

Continuing on the subject of “faith alone”…
Muslims claim that they do not believe in salvation by works. Claim that they actually believe in salvation by faith. And claim the Christian belief in “salvation by faith alone” to be blasphemous and not found in the Qur'an or the Bible.

Having examined some Bible on this in the previous post- let’s now examine some Qur'an on the subject of faith:

This Islamic article describes faith as being “most important” in Islam.  And it later claims that belief actually has “more importance” in the Islamic religion than the importance of works.  It claims that belief  has “more importance” not because of any textual concerns in the Qur'an- but because of the actual “word order” of belief and works in several verses of the Qur'an.  

However, let’s see just how this particular word order actually plays out in the Qur'an:

Surah 5:12-God did aforetime take a covenant from the Children of Israel, and we appointed twelve captains among them. And God said: "I am with you: if ye (but) establish regular prayers, practise regular charity, believe in my apostles, honour and assist them, and loan to God a beautiful loan, verily I will wipe out from you your evils, and admit you to gardens with rivers flowing beneath; but if any of you, after this, resisteth faith, he hath truly wandered from the path or rectitude."

Well, here we have works preceding both belief and faith.  The word order is actually reversed… making works primary (quite contrary to the word order theory of that article).

Surah 11:3-"(And to preach thus), 'Seek ye the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance; that He may grant you enjoyment, good (and true), for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding grace on all who abound in merit! But if ye turn away, then I fear for you the penalty of a great day:

Here we have abounding grace being bestowed on those that abound in merit   (for those that abound in works).  No mention of faith whatsoever.  Faith doesn’t appear to be a factor on that “great day”.

Surah 16:120-Abraham was indeed a model, devoutly obedient to God, (and) true in Faith, and he joined not gods with God:

Here we have obedience preceding faith.  The wrong word order again.

Surah 18:58-But your Lord is Most forgiving, full of Mercy. If He were to call them (at once) to account for what they have earned, then surely He would have hastened their punishment: but they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no refuge.

Once again, merit (earnings) is called into question rather than faith.

Surah 53:36-41Nay, is he not acquainted with what is in the Books of Moses.  And of Abraham who fulfilled his engagements? Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another; That man can have nothing but what he strives for;  That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight: Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete;

Here the Books of Moses are acknowledged.  Moses books of works, works, and more works! 

And then Abraham is acknowledged as fulfilling some mysterious engagements [though he died before Moses was even born]. As fulfilling some mysterious works.  Acknowledged as someone who has borne his very own burdens… rather than being acknowledged as someone who persevered in his faith.  Faith in God to provide for him.

Yet, Muhammad burdened his followers with even more works.  Burdened them with five more pillars of works… and countless other practices.  Works to provide for themselves.  Making the emphasis on faith even more obscure in the Qur'an.

Meanwhile, Christians continue to recognize that they couldn’t possibly bear their own burdens.  That it must be borne by someone else.  As the above Surah says, ‘borne by someone with absolutely no burdens to bear’.   Someone whom Christians see as Christ.   

So Christians continue to recognize that their faith must wholly be in Christ.  And on the work that Christ graced us with.   That, “He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began (2 Timothy 1:9).”

Dear Reader, what a marvelous calling.  

A calling before any works began.  Any works whatsoever.  Will you listen to His calling?
As Christ called, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28)”.