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CCM and CIM

May 12, 2017 Leave a comment

And unto David We gave the Psalms. (Koran 17:55, Pickthall)


Praise the Lord with the harp; make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy. (Psalm 33:2,3, NKJV)

I first discovered Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) during my college days back in the 1970s. I used to listen to the Pat Terry Group, Amy Grant, and many others. I still like to listen to CCM every now and then although I, as an Orthodox Christian, might disagree with some of the theology in some of the songs. There is also something which I call Contemporary Islamic Music (CIM). I do not know what the Muslims call it. There are some really great songs that many of the Muslim singers sing which we Christians would agree with and also enjoy. In this blog post, I am going to display a few CIM videos and a few CCM videos. I hope that my readers enjoy them.

“The Power” by Maher Zain

“Insha Allah” by Maher Zain

“Time Waits for No One” by Junaid Jamshed and the Native Deen

“Hello” by Omar Esa

“Hijab” by some Muslim women

“Never in Our Name” by Iman Farrar

“The Way of Love” by Maher Zain

I disagree with some things that Maher Zain says about Muhammad in the previous video. I do not believe that Muhammad is the source of truth. (God is the source of all truth.) There are some other things that he says in the video about Muhammad that I do not accept. I will simply let the Koran and the Bible say what needs to be said. Ponder on the Koran. (Koran 4:82; 38:29)

And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him. (Koran 3:144, Shakir)

We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. (Koran 29:46, Pickthall)

Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are evil-livers. (Koran 5:47, Pickthall)

Jesus is the Light

He does have a great Mother’s Day song though.

“The Number One for Me” by Maher Zain

Here are some CCM videos.

“Awesome God” by Michael W. Smith

“El Shaddai” by Amy Grant

“You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban

“The Lost Get Found” by Britt Nicole

I hope everyone has enjoyed the videos. I just wanted to make known to my fellow Christians that there is such a thing as Contemporary Islamic Music. Listen to the CIM songs and the CCM songs. Compare and contrast.

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God Forgives: An Exegesis of Koran 3:129-136

Now, I want to do an exegesis on another passage from the Koran — Surah 3:129-136. This passage contains some good moral teaching plus promises of eternal bliss for those who believe in God and obey Him. It also contains some words that have been used by Christian apologists to prove the deity of Jesus Christ.

Some words about Orthodox Christian doctrine for my Muslim readers need to be said first. We Orthodox Christians are not Bitheists, nor are we Tritheists. We worship one God who exists in three distinct hypostases. These  hypostases (subsistences) are often called Persons. All three Persons of the Deity share the same essence (that is, substance). If one were to divide the Divine Essence into infinitesimal particles, each particle would belong to all three Persons. We believe that the Father has neither a beginning, nor an origin. We believe that the Word (also called the Son) has an origin, but no beginning. We believe that the Holy Spirit has an origin, but no beginning. The procession of the Son from the Father is called “being begotten.” This does not mean that the Father had sexual relations with a female goddess or creature. There is only one God. Therefore, no female goddess exists. The Divine Essence does not possess genitals. Therefore, there was no sexual procreation involved in the origination of the Son. The terms “being begotten” and “begotten” are theological terms used in the Bible. No one should interpret them literally. The procession of the Holy Spirit is called “proceeding.” We believe that the Word of God became incarnate in the body of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, who is the incarnate Word of God, possesses both a divine nature and a human nature. The two natures of Jesus are joined together without separation, division, mixture, or change. The divine nature of Jesus was not converted into a human nature. The human nature of Jesus was not converted into a divine nature. The two natures are joined together by diffusion. The divine nature permeates the human nature of Jesus. The divine nature is omnipresent. The human nature is limited in space and time. Whenever we pray to the Son, we are praying to the same God that the Father and the Holy Spirit are. Whenever we pray to the Holy Spirit, we are praying to the same God that the Father and the Son are. All three Persons are one and the same God, but different hypostases of that God. So, whenever we say that Jesus is God, we are not saying that He is a different God from the Father. He is a different hypostasis of that God.

Now for the exegesis of the the text. The first verse in this passage is verse 129.

To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth; but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Koran 3:129, Yusuf Ali)

The Koran contains so many teachings which are very similar to those found in the Bible. The first sentence in this verse teaches what is taught in the Psalms. “To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and the earth.” Look at these four verses from the Psalms.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and all that dwell in it. (Psalm 23:1, LXX; Psalm 24:1, Hebrew)

If I should be hungry, I will not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness of it. (Psalm 49:12, LXX; Psalm 50:12, Hebrew)

The heavens are Thine, and the earth is Thine: Thou hast founded the world, and the fullness of it.  (Psalm 88:11, LXX; Psalm 89:11, Hebrew)

The heaven of heavens belongs to the Lord: but He has given the earth to the sons of men.  (Psalm 113:24, LXX; Psalm 115:16, Hebrew)

The Koran and the Bible both teach that God owns everything. I remember the words of a song by Pat Terry in the 1970s: “Everything thing I own will still belong to Him.” Even though “He has given the earth to the sons of men” (Psalm 113:24, LXX; Psalm 115:6, Hebrew), He still owns it because He owns “all that dwell in it.” (Psalm 23:1, LXX; Psalm 24:1, Hebrew)

Now I want to talk about how Jesus inherits the universe that He created. As God, He already owns it. As Man, born under the covenants, He inherits it. In Galatians, it says:

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16, NKJV)

St. Paul, who wrote this epistle to the Galatians, used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. He quoted from it frequently in his epistles. Here are some verses from the Septuagint version of Genesis.

And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, I will give this land to thy seed. And Abram built an altar there to the Lord who appeared to him. (Genesis 12:7, LXX)

And God said to Abram after Lot was separated from him, Look up with thine eyes, and behold from the place where thou now art northward and southward, and eastward and seaward; for all the land which thou seest, I will give it to thee and to thy seed for ever. (Genesis 13:14,15, LXX)

The Lord the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, who took me out of my father’s house, and out of the land whence I sprang, who spoke to me, and who swore to me, saying, I will give this land to thee and to thy seed, He shall send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife to my son from thence. (Genesis 24:7, LXX)

Notice that the word, “seed,” is singular thus referring to only one Person, the Messiah or the Christ. In Romans, we learn that God promised the entire universe to Abraham and his Seed.

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world (Greek, kosmos, universe) was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13, NKJV)

Before His death and resurrection, Jesus said:

All things that the Father has are Mine. (John 16:15, NKJV)

After His death and resurrection, He said:

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18, NKJV)

In Hebrews, it says:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds ( Greek, aionas, ages). (Hebrew 1:1,2, NKJV)

As God, Jesus already owned the universe. (John 16:15) As Man, He inherited the entire universe after He arose from the dead. (Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:1,2)

God created not only the universe, but also time itself. (Hebrews 1:2) God the Father owns time, just like He owns the universe. Jesus owns time, too. (John 16:15)

In Romans, it says:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16,17, NKJV)

Those who do the will of God and keep His commandments are His children. As children of God, they are also heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

In the 19th Surah of the Koran, it says:

It is We Who will inherit the earth, and all beings thereon: to Us will they all be returned. (Koran 19:40, Yusuf Ali)

The Divine Essence permeates the human nature of Jesus. Each infinitesimal particle of the Divine Essence belongs to all three hypostases of the Deity. Therefore, God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) says, “It is We Who will inherit the earth, and all beings thereon.” God already owns everything, but through the Son who became incarnate the other two hypostases inherit what They already own.

The existence of only one God who is a plural number of Persons can be seen in this passage from the 21st Surah.

Lo! this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me. And they have broken their religion (into fragments) among them, (yet) all are returning unto Us. (Koran 21:92,93, Pickthall)

God uses the singular first person pronoun, Me, in reference to Himself in 21:92 and the first person plural pronoun, Us, in reference to Himself in 21:93. The first person singular pronoun indicates that there is only one God. The first person plural pronoun indicates that He exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

“He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth.”

These words are also taught in the Bible. Look at these two passages.

But our God has done in heaven and on earth, whatsoever He has pleased. ( Psalm 113:11, LXX; Psalm 115:3, Hebrew)

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Romans 9:14-18, NKJV)

“But Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Elsewhere in the Koran, it says:

For Thou art the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. (Koran 7:151, Yusuf Ali)

and:

Grant Thou forgiveness and mercy for Thou art the Best of those who show mercy. (Koran 23:118, Yusuf Ali)

The Koran often emphasizes that God is merciful toward His creatures.

The Bible, likewise, teaches that God is merciful. According to the Bible, God is “rich in mercy.” (Ephesians 2:4) The Holy Prophet Micah said that God delights in mercy.

Who is a God like Thee, cancelling iniquities, and passing over the sins of the remnant of His inheritance? and He has not kept His anger for a testimony, for He delights in mercy. He will return and have mercy upon us; He will sink our iniquities, and they shall be cast into the depth of the sea, even all our sins. (Micah 7:18,19, LXX)

The Koran teaches that God forgives all sins.

Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Koran 39:53, Yusuf Ali)

The angels intercede before God for believers who have sinned.

Those [angels] who carry the Throne and those around it exalt [Allah] with praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who have believed, [saying], “Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed Your way and protect them from the punishment of Hellfire. (Koran 40:7, Sahih International)

It is the practice of us Orthodox Christians to ask for the prayers of their guardian angels. So, this notion about angels praying for people is not strange to us.

Faith in God is necessary for one to be forgiven by God. Both the Koran and the Bible teach this.

Indeed, we have believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our sins and what you compelled us [to do] of magic. And Allah is better and more enduring. (Koran 20:73, Sahih International)

O our people! respond to Allah’s summoner and believe in Him. He will forgive you some of your sins and guard you from a painful doom. (Koran 46:31, Pickthall)

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43, NKJV)

The Koran tells us to believe in Muhammad and not just in him, but in all of the messengers of God.

O you who have believed, fear Allah and believe in His Messenger; He will [then] give you a double portion of His mercy and make for you a light by which you will walk and forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Koran 57:28, Sahih International)

So believe in Allah and His messengers. If ye believe and ward off (evil), yours will be a vast reward. (Koran 3:179, Pickthall)

The Koran, like the Bible, teaches that repentance is also necessary in order for one to be forgiven by God.

O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands; they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things. (Koran 66:8, Pickthall)

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19, NKJV)

People who refuse to repent and defiantly disobey God do not receive forgiveness from God. Both the Koran and the Bible teach this.

It is all the same for them whether you ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them; never will Allah forgive them. Indeed, Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people. (Koran 63:6, Sahih International)

But unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3, NKJV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18, NKJV)

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5-11, NKJV)

The next verse is verse 130.

O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah; that ye may (really) prosper. (Koran 3:130, Yusuf Ali)

“O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied.”

Usury is loaning money at interest. Banks and credit card companies make money doing this. Historically, however, Christians regarded usury as a grave sin. It was not until the advent of Calvinist theology in the 16th century that Christians began loaning money at interest. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church were opposed to the practice of usury in ancient times.

There are prohibitions against usury in the Bible. In the Torah, the ancient Israelites were forbidden to loan money to a fellow Israelite at interest, but they were allowed to loan money to those who were not Israelites at interest.

And if thou shouldest lend money to thy poor brother who is by thee, thou shalt not be hard upon him. Thou shalt not exact usury of him. (Exodus 22:25, LXX)

Thou shalt not lend to thy brother on usury of silver, or usury of meat, or usury of any thing which thou mayest lend out. Thou mayest lend on usury to a stranger, but to thy brother thou shalt not lend on usury; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all thy works upon the land, into which thou art entering to inherit it. (Deuteronomy 23:19,20, LXX)

In the later books of the Bible, people were forbidden to loan money at interest to anyone, whether he be an Israelite or a foreigner.

O Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? And who shall dwell in Thy holy mountain?… He has not lent his money on usury, and has not received bribes against the innocent. He that does these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 14:1,5, LXX; Psalm 15:1,5, Hebrew)

He that increases his wealth by usuries and unjust gains, gathers it for him that pities the poor. (Proverbs 30:8, LXX; Proverbs 28:8, Hebrew)

Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent for interest, nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me. (Jeremiah 15:10, NKJV)

But the man who shall be just, who executes judgment and righteousness, who shall not eat upon the mountains, and shall not at all lift up his eyes to the devices of the house of Israel, and shall not defile his neighbor’s wife, and shall not draw nigh to her that is removed, and shall not oppress any man, but shall return the pledge of the debtor, and shall be guilty of no plunder, shall give his bread to the hungry, and clothe the naked; and shall not lend his money upon usury, and shall not receive usurious increase, and shall turn back his hand from injustice, shall execute righteous judgement between a man and his neighbor, and has walked in My commandments and kept Mine ordinances, to do them; he is righteous, he shall surely live, saith the Lord. And if he beget a mischievous son, shedding blood and committing sins, who has not walked in the way of his righteous father, but has even eaten upon the mountains, and has defiled his neighbor’s wife, and has oppressed the poor and needy, and has committed robbery, and not restored a pledge, and has set his eyes upon idols, has wrought iniquities, has lent upon usury, and taken usurious increase; he shall by no means live: he has wrought all these iniquities; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. And if he beget a son, and the son see all his father’s sins which he has wrought, and fear, and not do according to them, and if he has not eaten on the mountains, and has not set his eyes on the devices of the house of Israel, and has not defiled his neighbor’s wife, and has not oppressed a man, and has not retained the pledge, nor committed robbery, has given his bread to the hungry, and has clothed the naked, and has turned back his hand from unrighteousness, has not received interest or usurious increase, has wrought righteousness, and walked in mine ordinances; he shall not die for the iniquities of his father, he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 18:5-17, LXX)

Behold, the princes of the house of Israel have conspired in thee each one with his kindred, that they might shed blood. In thee they have reviled father and mother; and in thee they have behaved unjustly toward the stranger: they have oppressed the orphan and widow. And they have set at nought My holy things, and in thee they have profaned My sabbaths. There are robbers in thee, to shed blood in thee; and in thee they have eaten upon the mountains: they have wrought ungodliness in the midst of thee. In thee they have uncovered the father’s shame; and in thee they have humbled her that was set apart for uncleanness. They have dealt unlawfully each one with his neighbor’s wife; and each one in ungodliness has defiled his daughter-in-law: and in thee they have humbled each one his sister, the daughter of his father. In thee they have received gifts to shed blood; they have received in thee interest and usurious increase; and by oppression thou hast brought thy wickedness to the full, and hast forgotten Me, saith the Lord. And if I shall smite My hand at thine iniquities which thou hast accomplished, which thou hast wrought, and at thy blood that has been shed in the midst of thee, shall thy heart endure? Shall thine hands be strong in the days which I bring upon thee? I the Lord have spoken, and will do it. (Ezekiel 22:6-14, LXX)

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. (Luke 6:35, NKJV)

The Church Fathers were opposed to usury. Here are some citations from two of them: St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom.

That the Fathers have been too gentle toward the idolatry of covetous persons, in condemning to penance only robbery, digging of graves, and sacrilege, whereas usury and oppression, though under colour of contract, are forbidden by Scripture. That highwaymen returning to the Church, be treated as murderers. They that pilfer, and then confess their sin to the priest, are only obliged to amendment, and to be liberal to the poor; and if they have nothing, to labour and give their earnings. (Canon VI, St. Gregory the Theologian, vol. 14, p. 611, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

Lend there, where thy return cannot be death, but life instead of death. For this usury is the harbinger of a kingdom, that, of hell; the one coming of covetousness, the other of self-denial; the one of cruelty, the other of humanity.  (Homily V on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, by St. John Chrysostom, vol. 10, p. 35, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

The canons of St. Gregory the Theologian were accepted by the Quinisext Council in its Second Canon in 692 A.D. The Quinisext Council is an extension of the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils. Therefore, it is ecumenical and the Canons of St. Gregory, which were accepted by it, are binding on the whole Church.

Usury

“But fear Allah; that ye may really prosper.”

Those who fear God will truly prosper. The Bible teaches the same thing. He who fears God, begins to be wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and all that act accordingly have a good understanding; his praise endures for ever and ever. (Psalm 110:10, LXX; Psalm 111:10, Hebrew)

The man who gets wisdom obtains long life (that is, immortality), wealth, and glory.

Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who knows prudence. For it is better to traffic for her, than for treasures of gold and silver. And she is more valuable than precious stones: no evil thing shall resist her: she is well known to all that approach her, and no precious thing is equal to her in value. For length of existence and years of life are in her right hand; and in her left hand are wealth and glory: out of her mouth proceeds righteousness, and she carries law and mercy upon her tongue. Her ways are good ways, and all her paths are peaceful. She is a tree of life to all that lay hold upon her; and she is a secure help to all that stay themselves on her, as on the Lord. (Proverbs 3:13-18, LXX)

In the 22nd chapter of Proverbs it says:

The fear of the Lord is the offspring of wisdom, and wealth, and glory, and life. (Proverbs 22:4, LXX)

The offspring of wisdom means the beginning of wisdom as in Psalm 110:10 of the Septuagint. The fear of the Lord is also wealth, and glory, and life (that is, immortality). Departing from evil is a characteristic of a wise man.

Be not wise in thine own conceit; but fear God, and depart from all evil. (Proverbs 3:7, LXX)

A wise man fears, and departs from evil; but the fool trusts in himself, and joins himself with the transgressor. (Proverbs 14:16, LXX)

It is by fearing God that one departs from evil.

The fear of the Lord hates unrighteousness, and insolence, and pride, and the ways of wicked men; and I hate the perverse ways of bad men. (Proverbs 8:13, LXX)

But by the fear of the Lord every one departs from evil. (Proverbs 15:27, LXX; 16:6, Hebrew)

So, one who is willing to flirt with evil does not really fear God. Usury is evil. The way to depart from the practice of usury is to fear God. The thought of losing Paradise and inhabiting Hell should be enough to deter one from lending money at interest.

The next verse in this passage is verse 131.

Fear the Fire, which is repaired for those who reject Faith: (Koran 3:131, Yusuf Ali)

The Arabic word translated “repaired” by Yusuf Ali is usually translated “prepared” by most translators.

And fear the Fire, which has been prepared for the disbelievers. (Koran 3:131, Sahih International)

Faith without works is dead. (James 2:17,26) Those who refuse to do righteous deeds and avoid sin do not have genuine faith. They should not think that their dead faith will save them. The Bible speaks of the Fire which we all should fear.

The sinners in Sion have departed; trembling shall seize the ungodly. Who will tell you that a fire is kindled? Who will tell you of the eternal place? (Isaiah 33:14, LXX)

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28, NKJV)

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 22:15, NKJV)

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8, NKJV)

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:14,15, NKJV)

We need to remember that the Fire of Hell could also be our final abode if we refuse to demonstrate our faith in the practice of good deeds and the avoidance of evil deeds.

The next verse in this passage is verse 132.

And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy. (Koran 3:132, Yusuf Ali)

“And obey Allah and the Messenger.”

We are supposed to obey God and the Messenger. The Messenger is Muhammad. Muhammad did not receive any new revelations from God. In the 41st Surah, it says:

Nothing is said to you, [O Muhammad], except what was already said to the messengers before you. Indeed, your Lord is a possessor of forgiveness and a possessor of painful penalty. (Koran 41:43, Sahih International)

He was not an innovation among the Messengers of God. In the 46th Surah, it says:

Say: “I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.” (Koran 46:9, Arberry)

In the Koran, it says that we should obey the Messengers of God.

And We did not send any messenger except to be obeyed by permission of Allah. (Koran 4:64, Sahih International)

Muhammad and the first generation Muslims obeyed the Messengers of God that preceded Muhammad.

The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers –- We make no distinction between any of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying. (Koran 2:285, Pickthall)

The Koran says that Muhammad is a good example to follow.

Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much. (Koran 33:21, Pickthall)

If Muhammad believed in the messengers of God which preceded him and obeyed them, then we should do the same.

The first generation Muslims were the best community raised up for mankind.

Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah. (Koran 3:110, Pickthall)

If the first generation Muslims believed in the messengers of God which preceded Muhammad and obeyed them, then we should do the same.

Jesus is a Messenger of Allah. He told people to obey Him.

And (I come) confirming that which was before Me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey Me. (Koran 3:50, Pickthall)

When Jesus came with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), He said: I have come unto you with wisdom, and to make plain some of that concerning which ye differ. So keep your duty to Allah, and obey Me. (Koran 43:63, Pickthall)

He claimed that He spoke the words of God.

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. (John 12:49,50, NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:23,24, NKJV)

“That ye may obtain mercy.”

Jesus said:

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36, NKJV)

He also said:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Mattthew 5:7, NKJV)

St. James, who was either one of Jesus’ cousins or His stepbrother, was a disciple of Jesus. Jesus said that if we reject the message delivered to us by one of His disciples, then we reject Jesus. If we reject Jesus, then we also reject Allah the Father who sent Jesus. If we hear Jesus’ disciples, we hear Jesus. If we receive their teaching, we receive the teaching of Jesus which is the teaching of Allah.

He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me. (Luke 10:16, NKJV)

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, NKJV)

The Koran gives a stern warning to those who disbelieve Jesus and His disciples.

And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus.” They said, “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah].” [And remember] when the disciples said, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said, “Fear Allah , if you should be believers.” They said, “We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses.” Said Jesus, the Son of Mary, “O Allah , our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers.” Allah said, “Indeed, I will send it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you — then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds. (Koran 5:111-115, Sahih International)

St. James wrote:

So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:12,13, NKJV)

Those who are merciful to others will receive mercy from God. Those who are not merciful to others will receive no mercy from God.

I have seen on TV the lack of mercy that is being shown to innocent civilians in the Syrian Civil War. Syrian soldiers have used chemical weapons on unarmed civilians killing babies, children, and women as well as civilian men. Russian planes have bombed hospitals. There is a total lack of mercy being exhibited by these militaries. PISSI (the Pseudo-Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) has beheaded people and used innocent civilians as human shields. There is no mercy being displayed by this Pseudo-Islamic extremist organization. People who behave like this should not expect to receive mercy from God.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Prophets Solomon and Daniel said:

By alms and by faithful dealings sins are purged away. (Proverbs 15:27, LXX)

Therefore, O king, let my counsel please thee, and atone for thy sins by alms, and thine iniquities by compassion on the poor: it may be God will be long-suffering to thy trespasses. (Daniel 5:24, LXX; Daniel 4:27, Hebrew)

Giving alms to the poor is one way to show mercy. These acts of charity toward the poor are in stark contrast to the lender who lends money at interest. The Koran says:

If ye lend unto Allah a goodly loan, He will double it for you and will forgive you, for Allah is Responsive, Clement. (Koran 64:17, Pickthall)

The Bible agrees with the Koran. It says:

He that has pity on the poor lends to the Lord; and He will recompense to him according to his gift. (Proverbs 19:17, LXX)

Those who give to the poor lend to the Lord. That is what these verses from the Koran and the Bible teach.

The Holy Prophets Hosea and Micah taught us that God desires that we be merciful to others. God wants us to “love mercy.”

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6, NKJV)

Has it not been told thee, O man, what is good? Or what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, and love mercy, and be ready to walk with the Lord thy God? (Micah 6:8, LXX)

Another way that we obtain mercy from God is through repentance and prayer.

Let the ungodly leave his ways, and the transgressor his counsels: and let him return to the Lord, and he shall find mercy; for He shall abundantly pardon your sins. (Isaiah 55:7, LXX)

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV)

So, there are four things that we need to be doing in order to obtain mercy from God: being merciful to others, giving to the poor, repenting of our sins, and praying to God. The Koran says that we should obey Jesus and the other messengers of Allah. Therefore, we need to do those things that the messengers of Allah told us to do in the passages I just cited from the Bible.

The next verse in this passage is verse 133.

Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,- (Koran 3:133, Yusuf Ali)

“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord.”

The Arabic verb translated “be quick in the race” is sāriʿū. It is a form 3 verb. Form three verbs indicate that someone else is present during the action of the verb or the action of the verb is reciprocal. In this verse, someone else is present during the action of the verb. This verb means “to hasten.” So, one is supposed to hasten while someone else is present. Pickthall translated the verb, “vie one with another.” I like Yusuf Ali’s translation. It is reminiscent of some passages in the New Testament which likens the Christian life to that of one running a race.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1,2, NKJV)

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:24-27, NKJV)

One obtains forgiveness from God through prayer, repentance, and forgiving others. (Isaiah 55:7; Sirach 28:2; Matthew 6:14,15; 18:35; Mark 11:25,26; Luke 6:37; Acts 3:19; I John 1:9; Koran 3:89; 4:16,146; 16:119; 24:5,22) All of the righteous men and women who have died are watching us as we continue on in this race. That is what the words, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” mean in Hebrews 12:1.

“And a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous.”

This Garden might be a heavenly Paradise — one that is not of this world. Jesus told the repentant thief who was crucified next to Him.

Today you will be with Me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43, NKJV)

In the Book of Ezekiel, it says:

And the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation for the Prince of Tyre, and say to him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou art a seal of resemblance, and crown of beauty. Thou wast in the delight of the Paradise of God; thou hast bound upon thee every precious stone, the sardius, and topaz, and emerald, and carbuncle, and sapphire, and jasper, and silver, and gold, and ligure, and agate, and amethyst, and chrysolite, and beryl, and onyx: and thou hast filled thy treasures and thy stores in thee with gold. From the day that thou wast created thou wast with the cherub: I set thee on the holy mount of God; thou wast in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast faultless in thy days, from the day that thou wast created, until iniquity was found in thee. (Ezekiel 28:11-15, LXX)

The Prince of Tyre is Satan. Satan once inhabited this heavenly Paradise. He sinned against God and lost his right to remain in Paradise. This heavenly Paradise is where the souls of the righteous go after they die.

The next verse in this passage is verse 134.

Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; — for Allah loves those who do good;- (Koran 3:134, Yusuf Ali)

“Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity.”

Instead of saying “give,” the Koran frequently says “spend.” Whenever one gives to the poor and those in need, one is purchasing treasure in heaven. That is what Jesus told the rich, young ruler. So, then one is spending as if he were shopping when he gives.

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21, NKJV)

Jesus promised us that we would receive back more than we give.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38, NKJV)

The Koran tells us to whom we are supposed to “spend.”

They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: that which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, lo! Allah is Aware of it. (Koran 2:215, Pickthall)

It also tells us how much we are supposed to “spend.”

They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: “What is beyond your needs.” Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider. (Koran 2:219, Yusuf Ali)

In the Gospels, there is the example of the poor widow who gave all that she had.

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44, NKJV)

St. Paul told us to give in proportion to how much we have prospered.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: on the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (I Corinthian 16:1,2, NKJV)

Maybe we cannot give our entire livelihood like the poor widow did, but we all should give what is beyond our needs in proportion to how much we have prospered. The Pharisees gave ten percent of what they have earned. (Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:12) We should give more.

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20, NKJV)

St. Paul also said not to give out of compulsion. We should give willingly.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. (II Corithians 9:6,7, NKJV)

The Koran also teaches us that we should “spend” or give what we have earned. We should not  give to others something that we ourselves dislike or find disgusting.

O ye who believe! Spend of the good things which ye have earned, and of that which We bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad (with intent) to spend thereof (in charity) when ye would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that Allah is Absolute, Owner of Praise. (Koran 2:267, Pickthall)

Jesus told us to do our charitable deeds in secret and not in order to be seen by men.

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. (Matthew 6:1-4, NKJV)

We should give in prosperity or in adversity.

“Who restrain anger.”

The Bible has some teachings about anger.

“Be angry, and do not sin:” do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26,27, NKJV)

But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22, NKJV)

The Bible, like the Koran, says that we should restrain anger. There is legitimate anger. There is also illegitimate anger. Becoming angry because someone killed children and innocent civilians with chemical weapons is legitimate anger. Becoming angry with someone because he did not help commit a crime is illegitimate anger. Hatred, outbursts of wrath, and dissensions are some of the works of the flesh which if practiced, will bar one from inheriting the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

“And pardon all men.”

Once in the Old  Testament, four times in the Gospels, and twice in the Koran, the principal that God forgives those who forgive others is taught. That is a total of seven times.

Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest. (Sirach 28:2, KJV)

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14,15, NKJV)

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet[d] and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. (Matthew 18:23-35, NKJV)

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25,26, NKJV)

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37, NKJV)

Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Koran 24:22, Yusuf Ali)

O believers, among your wives and children there is an enemy to you; so beware of them. But if you pardon, and overlook, and if you forgive, surely God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. (Koran 64:14, Arberry)

Since this teaching is taught seven times in the Scriptures of the Christians and Muslims, it must be a very important doctrine. We also have the examples of Jesus on the Cross and St. Stephen the Protomartyr. (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:59,60) Both asked God to forgive their enemies before they died.

The Koran has much to say about forgiving others.

Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing. (Koran 2:263, Sahih International)

Now whatever ye have been given is but a passing comfort for the life of the world, and that which Allah hath is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord, and those who shun the worst of sins and indecencies and, when they are wroth, forgive, and those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them, and those who, when great wrong is done to them, defend themselves [help themselves]. (Koran 42:36-39, Pickthall)

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong. (Koran 42:40, Yusuf Ali)

But surely he who bears patiently and is forgiving — surely that is true constancy. (Koran 42:43, Arberry)

Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of Allah; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn. (Koran 45:14, Pickthall)

“For Allah loves those who do good.”

Of course, God loves everyone. However, He does not love everyone in the same way. In Greek, there are four different words for love. Eros is sexual love. Agape is unconditional love. Philos is friendship love. Storge is natural affection for one’s relatives. Arabic, like English, does not have different words for the different kinds of love. It has only one word for love. When the Koran says, “Allah loves those who do good,” it is talking about friendship love (philos). God is a friend to those who do good.

In the Bible, Jesus said:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:21, NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23, NKJV)

People who obey God, love God. Those who love God become aware of God’s love for them. So, those who do good are aware that God loves them.

Jesus also said:

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:14, NKJV)

St. James said:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. (James 2:21-23, NKJV)

He also said:

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, NKJV)

When we obey God, we become friends of God. So, God loves those who do good as His friends. We should understand those words from the Koran in this way. Allah loves those who do good as His friends and they become aware of Allah’s love for them while doing good.

Now, let us look at verse 135.

And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins, — and who can forgive sins except Allah? — and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done. (Koran 3:135, Yusuf Ali)

“And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls.”

Whenever we sin we wrong our own souls. The wages of sin is death, that is, the Second Death spoken of in the Book of Revelation. (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8)

“Earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins.”

Those who repent become aware that God sees their sins and ask God to forgive them.

“And are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in the wrong they have done.”

Pickthall translated this part of this verse: “And will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did.”

Jesus told this parable in order to illustrate what true repentance consists of.

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32, NKJV)

The one who does the will of God after repenting is the true repenter. The one who says he repents but persists in doing the same deeds over again did not genuinely repent. Repentance brings about a change in behavior.

St. John the Baptist said:

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. (Matthew 3:8, NKJV)

The fruits worthy of repentance are a change in behavior resulting in one doing good and abstaining from evil.

“And who can forgive sins except Allah?”

Here is proof from the Koran that Jesus is Allah. The Koran says:

Let the people of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. (Koran 5:47, Pickthall)

So, I have read in the Koran that only God (Allah) can forgive sins. Now, in the Gospel according to St. Mark, there is this account of Jesus performing a miracle.

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” — He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 12:3-12, NKJV)

The Jewish scribes were thinking in their hearts that Jesus was speaking blasphemies when He told the paralytic that His sins were forgiven. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus said that He had power (that is, authority) on earth to forgive sins. He told the man to take up His bed and walk. The man did that. He was healed because his sins were forgiven. If Jesus can forgive sins and only God can do that, then Jesus is God (Allah).

Now, for the last verse in this passage, verse 136.

For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath, —  an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)! (Koran 3:136, Yusuf Ali)

“For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord.”

This means that on the Day of Judgment those who have given to the needy and the poor, restrained their anger, and forgiven others will be acquitted.

Remember the words of Jesus in the Gospels.

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40, NKJV)

People who help others are the kind of people who will inherit the Kingdom of God. So, the Koran confirms the Gospel. (See Koran 3:3,4.) It teaches the same thing, but in different words. However, one must also restrain his anger and forgive others who have wronged him.

In the Bible, it says:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7, NKJV)

In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:14, NKJV)

Jesus is our sacrifice for sins. We have redemption through His blood.

“And Gardens with rivers flowing underneath, —  an eternal dwelling.”

The Bible teaches that there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth. We will not have a different Heaven and Earth than we have already. We will have this one which has been renewed. “The Earth abides forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4) “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5) So, the inheritance of the righteous is this Earth after it has been renewed.

In Isaiah, there are prophecies about the Earth becoming a Paradise.

Then shall there be rain to the seed of thy land; and the bread of the fruit of thy land shall be plenteous and rich: and thy cattle shall feed in that day in a fertile and spacious place. Your bulls and your oxen that till the ground, shall eat chaff mixed with winnowed barley. And there shall be upon every lofty mountain and upon every high hill, water running in that day, when many shall perish, and when the towers shall fall. And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold in the day when the Lord shall heal the breach of his people, and shall heal the pain of thy wound. (Isaiah 30:23-26, LXX)

Behold the city of Sion, our refuge: thine eyes shall behold Jerusalem, a rich city, tabernacles which shall not be shaken, neither shall the pins of her tabernacle be moved for ever, neither shall her cords be at all broken: for the name of the Lord is great to you: ye shall have a place, even rivers and wide and spacious channels: thou shalt not go this way, neither a vessel with oars go thereby. For my God is great: the Lord our judge shall not pass me by: the Lord is our prince, the Lord is our king; the Lord, He shall save us. (Isaiah 33:20-22, LXX)

Be glad, thou thirsty desert: let the wilderness exult, and flower as the lily. And the desert places of Jordan shall blossom and rejoice; the glory of Libanus has been given to it, and the honour of Carmel; and My people shall see the glory of the Lord, and the majesty of God. (Isaiah 35:1,2, LXX)

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall speak plainly; for water has burst forth in the desert, and a channel of water in a thirsty land. And the dry land shall become pools, and a fountain of water shall be poured into the thirsty land; there shall there be a joy of birds, ready habitations and marshes. (Isaiah 35:6,7, LXX)

But I will open rivers on the mountains, and fountains in the midst of plains: I will make the desert pools of water, and a thirsty land watercourses. I will plant in the dry land the cedar and box, the myrtle and cypress, and white poplar: that they may see, and know, and perceive, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has wrought these works, and the Holy One of Israel has displayed them. (Isaiah 41:18-20, LXX)

Remember ye not the former things, and consider not the ancient things. Behold, I will do new things, which shall presently spring forth, and ye shall know them: and I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land. The beasts of the field shall bless Me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to My chosen race, My people whom I have preserved to tell forth My praises. (Isaiah 43:18-21, LXX)

And now I will comfort thee, O Sion: and I have comforted all her desert places; and I will make her desert places as a garden, and her western places as the garden of the Lord; they shall find in her gladness and exultation, thanksgiving and the voice of praise. (Isaiah 51:3, LXX)

God will turn the desert places of this world into fertile plains and forests. There will be more rivers running through the arid regions of this planet.

“How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!”

Yes, the afterlife will be a most blessed existence for those who inherit the Kingdom of God. These words from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans conclude my exegesis of this passage from the Koran.

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5-11, NKJV)

Salvation is a paradox. It is a gift. We cannot earn it, but we must still work for it.

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An Exegesis of the Terrorism Verse in the Koran: Koran 3:151

April 9, 2017 Leave a comment

With all of the terrorist attacks being committed recently by Pseudo-Islamic extremists in the name of Islam or Islamism, I thought that it would be a good idea to write a blog post about the “Terrorism Verse” in the Koran. Many critics of the Koran quote this verse saying that the Koran promotes terrorism. Maybe the Pseudo-Islamic extremists think that this verse grants them divine authority to commit terrorist acts against innocent people, too. However, I do not believe that it does.

Here is the verse in question:

Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: and evil is the home of the wrong-doers! (Koran 3:151, Yusuf Ali)

Yusuf Ali added the word “soon” to this verse, but the Arabic word which means “soon” does not appear in the Arabic text. So, we should ignore this adverb and look at the rest of his translation.

The text says:

We shall cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.

Allah is speaking. Notice the first person plural is used. Here is more evidence from the Koran that God is Tri-personal. This verse is saying, We (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) shall cast terror into the hearts of Unbelievers.

The verse continues giving the reason for casting terror into their hearts.

For they joined companions with Allah, for which He sent no authority.

This part of the verse teaches that although Allah is Tri-personal, He is still only one God. The third person singular is used to indicate that God is one. The Unbelievers in this verse are the polytheists and not the Christians and the Jews. The polytheists worship other gods in addition to Allah.

The Koran is simply confirming whatever Scripture went before it. (Koran 5:48) In the Bible, there are similar teachings. Here are some examples.

But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. (Leviticus 26:14-16, NKJV)

They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap disasters on them; I will spend My arrows on them. They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; there shall be terror within for the young man and virgin, the nursing child with the man of gray hairs. (Deuteronomy 32:21-25, NKJV)

For destruction from God is a terror to me, and because of His magnificence I cannot endure. (Job 31:23, NKJV)

Lord, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off. (Psalm 88:14-16, NKJV)

Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will lop off the bough with terror; those of high stature will be hewn down, and the haughty will be humbled. (Isaiah 10:33, NKJV)

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far off. Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is the scribe? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?” You will not see a fierce people, a people of obscure speech, beyond perception, of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand. (Isaiah 33:17-19, NKJV)

It is God who casts terror into people’s hearts. He may use individuals to do this. In Koran 3:151, the reason for God casting terror into the hearts of Unbelievers is because of the practice of idolatry — worshiping other gods in addition to the Holy Trinity. One can say that the same reason for God casting terror into people’s hearts is given in Leviticus 26:14-16 and Deuteronomy 32:21-25. One of God’s commandments in the Decalogue is: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”  (Deuteronomy 5:7)

This verse from the Koran is not encouraging offensive jihad on peaceful polytheists. There are only three reasons for warfare in the Koran: self-defense (Koran 2:190; 3:125; 9:13), to end religious persecution (Koran 9:12), and to liberate the oppressed (Koran 4:75). Even a polytheist who desires to be at peace with the Muslims and seeks their protection in war is not to be killed. (Koran 4:90,94; 9:6)

The Koran, like the Bible, forbids murder.

Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law. (Koran 6:151, Yusuf Ali)

This verse from the Koran continues on by describing the ultimate punishment of unbelievers, that is, idolaters.

Their abode will be the Fire.

The Fire is, of course, Gehenna, that is, the Second Death mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. (See Revelation 20:11-14; 21:8,14,15.) St. Paul said that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19-21)

This verse from the Korans says, “Evil is the home of wrong-doers.” People who commit sins such as idolatry, murder, hatred, and dissensions live among people who do the same things. The polytheists spoken of in this verse were killing, hating, and fighting the Muslims, who were not starting fights with them. Their home was evil, that is, in an environment of evil.

One should not think that everyone who lives in an environment of evil is practicing heinous sins. Some people live in such an environment, but not by choice.

The critics of the Koran and the Pseudo-Islamic extremists do not interpret verses from the Koran in the context of the whole Koran and along with the Bible which the Koran confirms. The interpret verses as isolated texts.

So, this verse, which has been labeled “the Terrorism Verse,” does not promote terrorism. It is talking about God casting terror into the hearts of polytheists who fight against and persecute the Muslims. God probably did this when the Muslims were fighting back in self-defense, trying to stop the religious persecution they were suffering under the polytheists, or trying to liberate other oppressed Muslims from the oppression of the polytheists. They were not trying to forcefully convert people to Islamic monotheism. “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Koran 2:256) God cast terror into their hearts because they disobeyed His commandments and ascribed other gods as partners with the one and only true God — the Holy Trinity. God warned the ancient Israelites of similar consequences in the Torah. Verses from the Koran need to be interpreted in the context of the whole Koran as well as in the context of the passage in which they occur. The Bible needs to be consulted in order to get a good understanding of the meaning because the Koran confirms the Bible. It does not contradict it.  Interpreting verses from the Koran in isolation from the rest of the Scriptures, both Koranic and Biblical, is the error of Pseudo-Islamic extremists and critics of the Koran.

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Leaving the Straight Path

March 3, 2017 Leave a comment

One of the petitions in the Fatihah — a prayer prayed frequently by Muslims — is “Guide us to the straight path.” (Koran 1:5) Unfortunately, many Muslims have disobeyed the teachings of the Koran and have left the straight path — the path to salvation, the path to immortality, the path to Paradise.

I have quoted this verse often in my blogs. I will quote it again here.

O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. (Koran 4:136, Pickthall)

The Scripture which God has “revealed aforetime” is the Bible. Muslims ignore the Bible and do not take the time to read it. Many of their religious leaders have told them that the Bible has been corrupted. They have convinced them that the Koran replaces a corrupted Bible when the Koran teaches exactly the opposite. How can someone believe in the Scripture which God has “revealed aforetime” if he never reads it and studies it? Would not God protect this Scripture from corruption if He wanted people to believe it? Koran 4:136 says to believe the Koran and believe the Bible. It does not say believe the Koran only and reject the Bible.

Here is another verse from the Koran which says to believe God’s messengers.

Allah made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We raised among them twelve chieftains, and Allah said: Lo! I am with you. If ye establish worship and pay the poor-due, and believe in My messengers and support them, and lend unto Allah a kindly loan, surely I shall remit your sins, and surely I shall bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow. Whoso among you disbelieveth after this will go astray from a plain road. (Koran 5:12, Pickthall)

The Children of Israel were required to believe God’s messengers. Whoever disbelieved them went “astray from a plain road.” In the Koran, it says that the Torah — the first five books of the Bible — is “a light and guidance for mankind.”

And they measure not the power of Allah its true measure when they say: Allah hath naught revealed unto a human being. Say (unto the Jews who speak thus): Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and guidance for mankind, which ye have put on parchments which ye show, but ye hide much (thereof), and (by which) ye were taught that which ye knew not yourselves nor (did) your fathers (know it)? Say: Allah. Then leave them to their play of cavilling. (Koran 6:92, Pickthall)

Since every Muslim is a member of mankind, the Torah is, therefore, a light and guidance for him, too. When he rejects the Torah, he rejects God’s revelation. The Koran says:

And they who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, such are rightful owners of hell. (Koran 5:10, Pickthall)

The Koran says that the Torah and the Gospel are “a guidance to mankind.”

He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel aforetime, for a guidance to mankind; and hath revealed the Criterion (of right and wrong). Lo! those who disbelieve the revelations of Allah, theirs will be a heavy doom. Allah is Mighty, Able to Requite (the wrong). (Koran 3:3,4, Pickthall)

It  says that in the Gospel there is “guidance and a light.”

And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before Him in the Torah, and We bestowed on Him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (Koran 5:46, Pickthall)

The Koran cautions people about disbelieving Jesus’ disciples.

(They said:) We wish to eat thereof, that we may satisfy our hearts and know that thou hast spoken truth to us, and that thereof we may be witnesses. Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast for us, for the first of us and for the last of us, and a sign from Thee. Give us sustenance, for Thou art the Best of Sustainers. Allah said: Lo! I send it down for you. And whoso disbelieveth of you afterward, him surely will I punish with a punishment wherewith I have not punished any of (My) creatures. (Koran 5:113-115, Pickthall)

Jesus had two groups of disciples, the Twelve and the Seventy. (Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 10:1) Much of the New Testament was written by some of these disciples. The writings of St. Paul were accepted by St. Peter as Scripture.

And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (II Peter 3:15,16, NKJV)

St. Peter was one of the Twelve. (Matthew 10:2)

Jesus said to the Twelve:

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, NKJV; see also John 13:20.)

When someone receives the writings of the Twelve, he receives Allah. Jesus told the Seventy:

He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me. (Luke 10:16, NKJV)

When someone rejects the writings of one of the Seventy, he rejects Allah. St. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote the Epistle of James in the New Testament. He was one of the Seventy.

It is important that one believe all of the messengers of Allah. The Koran says:

Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers by their works? Those whose effort goeth astray in the life of the world, and yet they reckon that they do good work. Those are they who disbelieve in the revelations of their Lord and in the meeting with Him. Therefor their works are vain, and on the Day of Resurrection We assign no weight to them. That is their reward: hell, because they disbelieved, and made a jest of Our revelations and Our messengers. (Koran 18:104-107, Pickthall)

Those other messengers are those who wrote the books of the Bible. The Koran teaches that people who refuse to believe the Bible will be rewarded with hell.

What has happened is people have misinterpreted verses in the Koran and then looked at the Bible and have seen that the Bible does not teach their interpretation of the Koran. So, they say the Bible has been corrupted.

Here is an example of what I am saying. In the Koran, it says:

And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger — they slew Him not nor crucified Him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew Him not for certain. (Koran 4:157, Pickthall)

The Jews did not slay Jesus. That is true. The Roman soldiers nailed Him to a cross. Jesus said:

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:17,18, NKJV)

No one killed Jesus. He voluntarily laid down His life.

This verse in the Koran appears to contradict what the Bible says, but that is not true. Muslims are supposed to ask an Orthodox Christian when they have doubts about the meaning of a verse in the Koran. (Koran 10:94) Jesus has both a divine nature (John 1:1-4; Koran 4:171) and a human nature (Luke 2:40, 52; Koran 5:75). The two natures are joined together inseparably without division, change, or mixture. He is one Person, not two Persons in one body. His soul and His body are human. The divine essence that permeates His soul and body are divine. Every infinitesimal particle of His divine essence belongs to the Father and the Holy Spirit as well as to Himself. All Three Persons share the same essence, but are distinct Persons. Each Person is God in His entirety, but there is only one God. When Jesus died, His soul left His body, but because of the inseparable union of His humanity with His divinity, He could not stay dead. His soul and body were still joined together outside of space and time. So, He appeared to be dead, but was in fact not dead because of the union of the divine and human natures. The Arabic words translated “but it appeared so to them” could also be translated “but He appeared to them repeatedly.” Those words of the Koran could be talking about His resurrection. After He arose from the dead (in space and time), He appeared to His disciples on many occasions over a forty day period of time. (Acts 1:1-3; I Corinthians 15:3-8)

The Koran confirms the Bible.

And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. (Koran 5:48, Pickthall)

It does not contradict it. Any interpretation of the Koran that contradicts the Bible is a misinterpretation.

It is because of these misinterpretations of the Koran that many Muslim religious leaders have formed the opinion that the Bible has been corrupted. There are variant readings among the manuscripts of the Bible. There are manuscripts of the Bible which predate the birth of Muhammad by two hundred or three hundred years. Those manuscripts say that Jesus died on a cross and arose from the dead on the third day. They do not teach the things those who misinterpret Koran 4:157 say. There are variant readings among the manuscripts of the Koran, too. There are at least 26 different Arabic versions of the Koran. We Christians do not let the textual variants affect our faith. We accept them and try to reach the true meaning of a Biblical text by comparing them and studying them. No major doctrine of Orthodox Christianity has been undermined by the textual variants in the Bible.

Muslims need to obey the Koran and believe the Bible. Those who reject the Bible have “wandered far astray” and will be rewarded by Allah with hell. That is what the Koran teaches. By rejecting the Bible and disbelieving those other messengers of Allah, Muslims reject the straight path for which they pray in the Fatihah.

I have watched videos on Youtube where Muslim sheiks and imams talk about various religious topics. They say, “The prophet (peace be upon him) said…” They never say what the other prophets said. What about Micah, Amos, Isaiah, Samuel, David, Solomon? Why do they never quote them? If you reject those other prophets, you are not on the straight path. The Koran is like the final summary paragraph of an essay. By accepting only the Koran, you have omitted the body of the essay. The Bible provides more detail than the Koran does. The Koran speaks about the creation of man, but the Bible gives more detail which is important to know.

So, stay on the straight path and do not be a Muslim without a Bible. Islam without the Bible is not genuine Islam.

An Exegesis of Koran 9:28-31

November 23, 2016 Leave a comment

Now, I am going to do an exegesis of Koran 9:28-31. In this passage is the “Jizya Verse” — another controversial verse in the Koran. The translation that I am providing here is Pickthall’s translation.

28 O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.
29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
30 And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
31 They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no God save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! (Koran 9:28-31, Pickthall)

28 O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean.

Those who worship false gods like the polytheists who lived in seventh century Arabia are unclean. However, there is more than one way to practice idolatry according to the New Testament. Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) Mammon is money. St. Paul said that covetousness is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5) However, according to St. John the Theologian, who was one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles and a Muslim (Matthew 10:2; Koran 3:52), said that someone who believes that Jesus is God is not an idolater. He said:

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (John 5:20,21, NKJV)

Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life. Anyone who worships Him is not an idolater. St. John worshiped Him. He called Him the “true God.”

I have explained the doctrine of the Holy Trinity many times in previous blogs. Briefly, the Trinity is one God, not three. Each hypostasis of the Trinity is God in His entirety, but not the other two hypostases of the Deity. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Jesus is the incarnation of the second hypostasis (the Word). He is 100% God and 100% Man, but one Person. The Word and the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father, but in different ways. The procession of the Word (or Son) from the Father is called “being begotten.” The procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father is called “proceeding.” The divine essence does not possess genitals. Therefore, the Son was not sexually begotten. Every particle of the divine essence belongs to all three Persons of the Godhead. Wherever, the Father is, there is also the Son (or Word) and the Holy Spirit. Likewise, wherever the Son is, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Wherever the Holy Spirit is, there is the Father and the Son. Jesus’ divinity is uncreated and infinite. His humanity is created and finite.

Muhammad said to the People of the Scripture in the seventh century: “We believe in that which has been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.” (Koran 29:46, Pickthall) Muhammad believed that Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life. He worshiped the Holy Trinity.

Jesus said to His Twelve Apostles:

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, NKJV)

Anyone who rejects what St. John has told us in his First Catholic Epistle, rejects Jesus. Anyone who rejects Jesus, rejects Allah the Father.

In the Fifth Surah of the Koran, it says:

And when I inspired the disciples, (saying): Believe in Me and in My messenger, they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto Thee). When the disciples said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Is thy Lord able to send down for us a table spread with food from heaven? He said: Observe your duty to Allah, if ye are true believers. (They said:) We wish to eat thereof, that we may satisfy our hearts and know that thou hast spoken truth to us, and that thereof we may be witnesses. Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast for us, for the first of us and for the last of us, and a sign from Thee. Give us sustenance, for Thou art the Best of Sustainers. Allah said: Lo! I send it down for you. And whoso disbelieveth of you afterward, him surely will I punish with a punishment wherewith I have not punished any of (My) creatures. (Koran 5:111-115, Pickthall)

We should not disbelieve Jesus’ words in the Gospels.

“So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year.”

The polytheists were forbidden to go near the Kaaba stone in Mecca. However, according to the verses I cited from the New Testament and the Koran, the Orthodox Christians and the Jews were not forbidden to go near it. The greedy, covetous Muslims, however, should examine themselves and repent before going near it. Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and no one can serve Allah and money (Matthew 6:24). Christians and Jews should do the same, too. God knows what is in people’s hearts. No one should pass judgment in such matters, however. (Matthew 7:1.2)

One of the reasons for forbidding the polytheists from worshiping near this place is because they would worship their false gods while the Muslims worshiped Allah.

“If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise), Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will.”

Jesus said:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34, NKJV)

The Muslims should not worry about losing business from the polytheists. They should obey God and keep the idolaters away from the Inviolable Place of Worship. God will provide for them. So, they should not worry.

Allah is Knower, Wise.

God knows everything. Like Jesus said, “For you heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:32, NKJV) God does not want His people to go hungry. God is wise. His commandments are wisely given to us. We should trust Him and obey.

29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

The Arabic text is:

Qātilū alladhīna lā yu’minūna bil-lahi  walā bil-yawmi al-ākhiri  walā yuḥarrimūna mā ḥarrama al-lahu warasūluhu walā yadīnūna dīna al-ḥaqi mina alladhīna ūtū al-kitāba ḥattā yuʿ’ṭū al-jiz’yata an yadin wahum ṣāghirūna.

“Fight against those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger forbid and do not acknowledge the religion of truth among those who received the Scripture until they pay the jizya from the hand while being humbled.”

The previous verse mentioned the idolaters. Christians and Jews were not mentioned. Those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day were most probably the idolaters. If the idolaters broke their treaty with the Muslims and persecuted them (Koran 2:193; 9:13), oppressed them (Koran 4:75), or initiated a military conflict against them (Koran 2:190; 9:13), then the Muslims were supposed to fight them. Offensive military jihad is Satanic (Koran 17:53; 24:21). There is no compulsion in religion. (Koran 2:256) and Muhammad was not a compeller over them (Koran 50:45). The idolaters were not required to fight against the enemies of the Muslims, but they had to pay for the protection of the Muslims. This was fair. The Muslims fought wars for religious reasons. People of other faiths were not required to defend militarily the Muslims’ religion, but since the Muslim army was protecting them from hostile forces that would want to invade the land, they had to pay a tax. They paid a tax and were not required to pay with their lives.

This tax, the jizyah, is really more applicable to seventh century Arabia than to today. In modern societies, there are government agencies which collect taxes from the citizens. A lot of wars are fought for non-religious reasons.

However, the principle of not requiring people to fight for a religion they do not adhere to and requiring non-combatants to pay a tax for the military protection of those of another faith seems fair. The Koran does not specify how much is the jizyah, nor does it say how often or how long it should be regularly paid. All of this was worked out in a treaty. (See Koran 9:1,4,12. A treaty with the idolaters is mentioned in those verses.) If there is no such treaty, then there is no such tax.

The idolaters received the Scriptures, that is, the Bible, but still did not believe in Allah and the Last Day. This passage from the Fourth Surah helps to explain this verse better.

See, how they invent lies about Allah! That of itself is flagrant sin. Hast thou not seen those unto whom a portion of the Scripture hath been given, how they believe in idols and false deities, and how they say of those (idolaters) who disbelieve: “These are more rightly guided than those who believe”? Those are they whom Allah hath cursed, and he whom Allah hath cursed, thou (O Muhammad) wilt find for him no helper. (Koran 4:50-52, Pickthall)

The idolaters in Koran 9:28,29 are the same idolaters spoken of this passage from the Fourth Surah.

30 And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah.

Actually, the Jews would say that Ezra is the son of Allah and the Christians, of course, have been calling the Messiah the Son of Allah since the first century.

In the Old Testament, it says that God has sons and daughters.

And the Lord saw, and was jealous; and was provoked by the anger of His sons and daughters, and said, I will turn away My face from them, and will show what shall happen to them in the last days; for it is a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faith. (Deuteronomy 32:19,20, LXX)

Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and will gather thee from the west. I will say to the north, Bring; and to the south, Keep not back; bring My sons from the land afar off, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; even all who are called by my name: for I have prepared him for My glory, and I have formed him, and have made him: and I have brought forth the blind people; for their eyes are alike blind, and they that have ears are deaf. (Isaiah 43:5-8, LXX)

The New Testament teaches the same thing.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”  Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthian 6:14-18, NKJV)

God, being our Creator, is our Father. This teaching can be found in both the Old and New Testaments.

They have sinned, not pleasing Him; spotted children, a froward and perverse generation. Do ye thus recompense the Lord? Is the people thus foolish and unwise? Did not He Himself thy Father purchase thee, and make thee, and form thee? (Deuteronomy 32:5,6, LXX)

And now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, and we are clay, all of us the work of Thine hands. (Isaiah 64:8, LXX)

For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. (Acts 17:28,29, NKJV)

Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (Hebrews 12:9, NKJV)

Although God is everyone’s Father in the sense that He their Creator, He is not everyone’s Father in a religious and spiritual sense. One becomes a child of God in this spiritual sense through regeneration. Regeneration is called “circumcision of the heart” (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11), “being born again” (John 3:3-8; I Peter 1:22,23), and “becoming a new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). In Deuteronomy, there is a curious verse that I encountered. It appears in the Septuagint as this:

Thou hast forsaken God that begot thee, and forgotten God who feeds thee. (Deuteronomy 32:18, LXX)

St. Athanasius lived in the third century and the early part of the fourth century. He wrote this explanation of regeneration and quoted this verse in it.

    Thus does divine Scripture recognise the difference between the Offspring and things made, and shew that the Offspring is a Son, not begun from any beginning, but eternal; but that the thing made, as an external work of the Maker, began to come into being. John therefore delivering divine doctrine about the Son, and knowing the difference of the phrases, said not, ‘In the beginning has become’ or ‘been made,’ but ‘In the beginning was the Word;’ that we might understand ‘Offspring’ by ‘was,’ and not account of Him by intervals, but believe the Son always and eternally to exist. And with these proofs, how, O Arians, misunderstanding the passage in Deuteronomy, did you venture a fresh act of irreligion against the Lord, saying that ‘He is a work,’ or ‘creature,’ or indeed ‘offspring?’ for offspring and work you take to mean the same thing; but here too you shall be shewn to be as unlearned as you are irreligious. Your first passage is this, ‘Is not He thy Father that bought thee? did He not make thee and create thee?’ (Deuteronomy 32:6, LXX) And shortly after in the same Song he says, ‘God that begat thee thou didst desert, and forgattest God that nourished thee.’ (Deuteronomy 32:18, LXX) Now the meaning conveyed in these passages is very remarkable; for he says not first ‘He begat,’ lest that term should be taken as indiscriminate with ‘He made,’ and these men should have a pretence for saying, ‘Moses tells us indeed that God said from the beginning, “Let Us make man” (Genesis 1:26), but he soon after says himself, ‘God that begat thee thou didst desert’ (Deuteronomy 32:18, LXX), as if the terms were indifferent; for offspring and work are the same. But after the words ‘bought’ and ‘made,’ he has added last of all ‘begat,’ that the sentence might carry its own interpretation; for in the word ‘made’ he accurately denotes what belongs to men by nature, to be works and things made; but in the word ‘begat’ he shews God’s lovingkindness exercised towards men after He had created them. And since they have proved ungrateful upon this, thereupon Moses reproaches them, saying first, ‘Do ye thus requite the Lord?’ and then adds, ‘Is not He thy Father that bought thee? Did He not make thee and create thee?’ (Deuteronomy 32:6, LXX) And next he says, ‘They sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not. New gods and strange came up, whom your fathers knew not; the God that begat thee thou didst desert.’ (Deuteronomy 32:17, LXX)
For God not only created them to be men, but called them to be sons, as having begotten them. For the term ‘begat’ is here as elsewhere expressive of a Son, as He says by the Prophet, ‘I begat sons and exalted them;’ and generally, when Scripture wishes to signify a son, it does so, not by the term ‘created,’ but undoubtedly by that of ‘begat.’ And this John seems to say, ‘He gave to them power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His Name; which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ (John 1:12,13) And here too the cautious distinction is well kept up, for first he says ‘become,’ because they are not called sons by nature but by adoption; then he says ‘were begotten,’ because they too had received at any rate the name of son. But the People, as says the Prophet, ‘despised’ their Benefactor. But this is God’s kindness to man, that of whom He is Maker, of them according to grace He afterwards becomes Father also; becomes, that is, when men, His creatures, receive into their hearts, as the Apostle says, ‘the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father.’ (Galatians 4:6) And these are they who, having received the Word, gained power from Him to become sons of God; for they could not become sons, being by nature creatures, otherwise than by receiving the Spirit of the natural and true Son. Wherefore, that this might be, ‘The Word became flesh’ (John 1:14), that He might make man capable of Godhead. This same meaning may be gained also from the Prophet Malachi, who says, ‘Hath not One God created us? Have we not all one Father?’ (Malachi 2:10) for first he puts ‘created,’ next ‘Father,’ to shew, as the other writers, that from the beginning we were creatures by nature, and God is our Creator through the Word; but afterwards we were made sons, and thenceforward God the Creator becomes our Father also. Therefore ‘Father’ is proper to the Son; and not ‘creature,’ but ‘Son’ is proper to the Father. Accordingly this passage also proves, that we are not sons by nature, but the Son who is in us; and again, that God is not our Father by nature, but of that Word in us, in whom and because of whom we ‘cry, Abba, Father.’ (Galatians 4:6) And so in like manner, the Father calls them sons in whomsoever He sees His own Son, and says, ‘I begat;’ since begetting is significant of a Son, and making is indicative of the works. And thus it is that we are not begotten first, but made; for it is written, ‘Let Us make man’ (Genesis 1:26); but afterwards, on receiving the grace of the Spirit, we are said thenceforth to be begotten also; just as the great Moses in his Song with an apposite meaning says first ‘He bought,’ and afterwards ‘He begat;’ lest, hearing ‘He begat,’ they might forget their own original nature; but that they might know that from the beginning they are creatures, but when according to grace they are said to be begotten, as sons, still no less than before are men works according to nature. (Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 2, chapter 21, St. Athanasius the Great, vol. 4, pp. 380-381, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

What I have found interesting is the terminology. The concept of being “begotten by God” spiritually or “born again” was an Old Testament concept, and not just a New Testament one. In St. John’s First Catholic Epistle, there are these verses about “being born of God.”

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. (I John 2:29, NKJV)

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9, NKJV)

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. (I John 5:1, NKJV)

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 5:4,5, NKJV)

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. (I John 5:18, NKJV)

Ezra practiced righteousness. Therefore, he was born of God. He was a son of God. He lived before the coming of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I John 5:1,4,5 did not apply to him while he was alive.

Regeneration is also described in the New Testament as going from death to life. People become dead to God because of their sins. When they are regenerated, they become alive to God.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:3-11, NKJV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6, NKJV)

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
(Colossians 2:11-15, NKJV)

The Koran also speaks of regeneration using this metaphor.

How disbelieve ye in Allah when ye were dead and He gave life to you! Then He will give you death, then life again, and then unto Him ye will return. (Koran 2:28, Pickthall)

Thou causest the night to pass into the day, and Thou causest the day to pass into the night. And Thou bringest forth the living from the dead, and Thou bringest forth the dead from the living. And Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou choosest, without stint. (Koran 3:27, Pickthall)

Lo! Allah (it is) Who splitteth the grain of corn and the date-stone (for sprouting). He bringeth forth the living from the dead, and is the bringer-forth of the dead from the living. Such is Allah. How then are ye perverted? (Koran 6:95, Pickthall)

Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Who provideth for you from the sky and the earth, or Who owneth hearing and sight; and Who bringeth forth the living from the dead and bringeth forth the dead from the living; and Who directeth the course? They will say: Allah. Then say: Will ye not then keep your duty (unto Him)? (Koran 10:31, Pickthall)

Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like him whose likeness is that of one in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth? Thus what they did was made fair seeming to the unbelievers. (Koran 6:122, Shakir)

“Bringing forth the living from the dead” is regeneration. “Bringing forth the dead from the living” means that God takes people’s souls in death. He will give them life again (Koran 2:28) when He resurrects the dead on the Last Day.

Jesus is the Son of God in a special way. He “proceeded forth and came from God.” (John 8:42) This procession from God the Father is called “being begotten.” (John 1:18) Jesus is not a partner with Allah. He is Allah, but He is not the Father and not the Holy Spirit. The Father is Allah, but He is not the Son and not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Allah, but He is not the Father and not the Son. All Three are distinct from each other, but one and the same God. There is only one Allah. In the Koran, Allah often uses the first person plural pronouns in reference to Himself. Whenever one sees Allah using We, Us, and Our,  either two or all three hypostases of the Deity are speaking. Whenever Allah uses I, Me, and My, only one hypostasis of the Deity is speaking.

Surah 112 is the Surah of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit neither begets nor is begotten. I would encourage Christians to read it sometime and  then they will see what I am saying.

I have seen lots of evidence in the Koran for the doctrine of the Trinity. I do believe that Muhammad was a Trinitarian monotheist like the Orthodox Christians whom he called “believers.” (Koran 30:2-5; 85:7)

“That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!”

There is nothing wrong with calling Ezra the son of God. There is nothing wrong with calling Jesus the Son of God. Ezra practiced righteousness. Therefore, he was regenerated. God had circumcised his heart. (Deuteronomy 30:6) Jesus called Himself the Son of God. (John 10:36) He even attributed titles of God to Himself. (John 8:58 with Exodus 3:13,14; John 8:12 with Koran 24:35; John 14:6 with Koran 22:6; Revelation 1:17 with Isaiah 44:6 and Koran 57:3)

A clue to understanding this verse is the last words in the Arabic text.

Qātalahumu al-lahu annā yu’fakūna.

“May Allah fight them. How are they deluded!” These same Arabic words appear in Koran 63:4. Here is Koran 63:1-4:

When the hypocrites come unto thee (O Muhammad), they say: We bear witness that thou art indeed Allah’s messenger. And Allah knoweth that thou art indeed His messenger, and Allah beareth witness that the hypocrites indeed are speaking falsely. They make their faith a pretext so that they may turn (men) from the way of Allah. Verily evil is that which they are wont to do, that is because they believed, then disbelieved, therefore their hearts are sealed so that they understand not. And when thou seest them their figures please thee; and if they speak thou givest ear unto their speech. (They are) as though they were blocks of wood in striped cloaks. They deem every shout to be against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. Allah confound them! How they are perverted! (Koran 63:1-4, Pickthall)

Koran 9:30 like Koran 63:1-4 is talking about hypocrites. These Jews and Christians say the right things with their mouths, but do not have genuine faith. They believe with their mouths and not with their hearts. Koran 63:1-4 is talking about hypocritical Muslims.

31 They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah.

Ittakhadhū aḥbārahum waruh’bānahum arbāban min dūni al-lahi wal-masīḥa ib’na maryama.

The original Arabic text of the Koran was only consonants and no vowels. I think that the wrong vowels were added to two words near the end. The text, in my opinion, should say:

Ittakhadhū aḥbārahum waruh’bānahum arbāban min dūni al-lahi wal-masīḥi ib’ni maryama.

“They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords instead of Allah and the Messiah the Son of Mary.”

The Jews believed their rabbis instead of God. The Christians believed their monks instead of Jesus. The Jews may have been heretical Jews. The Christians may have been heretical Christians.

If, however, the first version of the Arabic text is correct, then the Christians were not Trinitarian monotheists. They were worshiping Jesus as a separate deity from Allah instead of as Allah. There were heretical Christian sects during the time of Muhammad. Maybe the Christians were Nestorians or Arians. If the Jews were worshiping their rabbis instead of God, they were heretical Jews. Christians who worship monks seem to be a bit odd. They must have been heretics.

“When they were bidden to worship only One God.”

The Old Testament and the New Testament strongly stress the existence of only one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5; Matthew 4:10; I Corinthians 8:6; James 2:19)

There are several instances in the Gospels where people worshiped Jesus. He never once forbade them to do that. We Trinitarian monotheists also worship God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but we do not think of them as being three different gods. They are different hypostases of the same God.

“There is no God save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!”

I think that every monotheist can say “Amen” to that. Jesus never claimed to be a separate God from the Father. He said, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30, NKJV)

Before I conclude this blog, I will say some things about the “Last Day.” Orthodox Christians do believe like Muslims in the Last Day. On the Last Day of this present age, all of the dead will resurrected and judged. The wicked will receive eternal damnation. The righteous will inherit the Kingdom of God and enjoy eternal bliss.

The resurrection of the dead was made possible by Jesus.

Yet the divine Apostle teaches plainly that the Creator, pitying this nature not only seized cruelly by death, but throughout all life made death’s slave, effected the resurrection through a body for our bodies, and, by means of a mortal body, undid the dominion of death; for since His own nature was immortal He righteously wished to stay the sovereignty of death by taking the first fruits of them that were subject to death, and while He kept these first fruits (i.e. the body) blameless and free from sin, on the one hand He gave death license to lay hands on it and so satisfy its insatiability, while on the other, for the sake of the wrong done to this body, he put a stop to the unrighteous sovereignty usurped over all the rest of men. These firstfruits unrighteously engulfed He raised again and will make the race to follow them. (The Eranistes, Dialogue III, by Blessed Theodoret of Cyrus, vol. 3, p. 223, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

Martha spoke about the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day, before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:23,24, NKJV)

Many of the Church Fathers and ancient Christian writers spoke of the resurrection of the dead.

The resurrection of the dead is the Christian’s trust. By it we are believers. To the belief of this (article of the faith) truth compels us — that truth which God reveals, but the crowd derides, which supposes that nothing will survive after death. (On the Resurrection of the Flesh, by Tertullian, vol. 3, p. 545, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

“Wherefore not before the passion, but after the passion, the Lord stood in the midst of the disciples when the doors were shut, that thou mayest know that thy natural body after being sown is ‘raised a spiritual body,’ and that thou mayest not suppose the body that is raised to be a different body. When Thomas after the resurrection doubted, He shews him the prints of the nails, He shews him the marks of the spears. But had He not power to heal Himself after the resurrection too, when even before the resurrection He had healed all men? But by shewing the prints of the nails He shews that it is this very body; by coming in when the doors were shut He shews that it has not the same qualities; the same body to fulfil the work of the incarnation by raising that which had become a corpse, but a changed body that it fall not again under corruption nor be subject again to death.” (The Eranistes, Dialogue II, by Blessed Theodoret of Cyrus, vol. 3, p. 209, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

The root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection; for the expectation of the recompense nerves the soul to good works. For every labourer is ready to endure the toils, if he sees their reward in prospect; but when men weary themselves for nought, their heart soon sinks as well as their body. A soldier who expects a prize is ready for war, but no one is forward to die for a king who is indifferent about those who serve under him, and bestows no honours on their toils. In like manner every soul believing in a Resurrection is naturally careful of itself; but, disbelieving it, abandons itself to perdition. He who believes that his body shall remain to rise again, is careful of his robe, and defiles it not with fornication; but he who disbelieves the Resurrection, gives himself to fornication, and misuses his own body, as though it were not his own. Faith therefore in the Resurrection of the dead, is a great commandment and doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church; great and most necessary, though gainsaid by many, yet surely warranted by the truth. Greeks contradict it, Samaritans disbelieve it, heretics mutilate it; the contradiction is manifold, but the truth is uniform. (Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVIII, by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, vol. 7, p. 134, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

We believe, say they, in the resurrection of the body. This confession, if only it be sincere, is free from objection. But as there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial and as thin air and the æther are both according to their natures Called bodies, they use the word body instead of the word flesh in order that an orthodox person hearing them say body may take them to mean flesh while a heretic will understand that they mean spirit. This is their first piece of craft, and if this is found out, they devise fresh wiles, and, pretending innocence themselves, accuse us of malice. As though they were frank believers they say, “We believe in the resurrection of the flesh.” Now when they have said this, the ignorant crowd thinks it ought to be satisfied, particularly because these exact words are found in the creed.3 If you go on to question them farther, a buzz of disapproval is heard in the ring and their backers cry out: “You have heard them say that they believe in the resurrection of the flesh; what more do you want?” the popular favour is transferred from our side to theirs, and while they are called honest, we are looked on as false accusers. But if you set your face steadily and keeping a firm hold of their admission about the flesh, proceed to press them as to whether they assert the resurrection of that flesh which is visible and tangible, which walks and speaks, they first laugh and then signify their assent. And when we inquire whether the resurrection will exhibit anew the hair and the teeth, the chest and the stomach, the hands and the feet, and all the other members of the body, then no longer able to contain their mirth they burst out laughing and tell us that in that case we shall need barbers, and cakes, and doctors, and cobblers. Do we, they ask us in turn, believe that after the resurrection men’s cheeks will still be rough and those of women smooth, and that sex will differentiate their bodies as it does at present? Then if we admit this, they at once deduce from our admission conclusions involving the grossest materialism. Thus, while they maintain the resurrection of the body as a whole, they deny the resurrection of its separate members. (Letter LXVIII, by St. Jerome, vol. 6, p. 178, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

At the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553 A.D.), there were anathemas issued against the heretical teachings of Origen regarding the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment.

If anyone shall say that after the resurrection the body of the Lord was ethereal, having the form of a sphere, and that such shall be the bodies of all after the resurrection; and that after the Lord himself shall have rejected his true body and after the others who rise shall have rejected theirs, the nature of their bodies shall be annihilated: let him be anathema. (Anathema X Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 319, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

If anyone shall say that the future judgment signifies the destruction of the body and that the end of the story will be an immaterial ψύσις, and that thereafter there will no longer be any matter, but only spirit (νοῦς): let him be anathema. (Anathema XI Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 319, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

If anyone says or thinks that, at the resurrection, human bodies will rise spherical in form and unlike our present form, let him be anathema. (Anathema V of Emperor Justinian Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 320, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (ἀποκατάστασις) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema. (Anathema IX of Emperor Justinian Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 320, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

In the first century there was a Jewish sect that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They were called the Sadducees.

For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection — and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. (Acts 23:8, NKJV)

See also Matthew 22:23.

Finally, whenever one sees the words “People of the Scripture” or similar words in the Koran, one should remember that this term is being used generically for Christians and Jews. The negative remarks regarding Christian beliefs in the Koran are the beliefs of heretical Christian sects and not the beliefs of Orthodox Christians. In the Fifth Surah, it says:

Lo! those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabaeans, and Christians – Whosoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. (Koran 5:69, Pickthall)

Also, not all Christians and Jews were bad in the seventh century. The Koran says in the Third Surah:

They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of Allah in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him). They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works. These are of the righteous. (Koran 3:113,114, Pickthall)

There are good Christians and Jews today, too.

So, the text from the Koran of which I have done this exegesis (Koran 9:28-31) is talking about idolaters and heretical Jews and Christians. Those heretical Jews and Christians were apparently hypocrites, too. Whenever one reads the words, “People of the Scripture,” or something similar in the Koran, one should not think that it is describing the beliefs of all Christians and Jews.

 

Aqidahs of Believers

July 8, 2016 Leave a comment

I remember when I used to visit various Protestant churches in my younger years that I would see various statements of faith. Many of these statements of faith contained affirmations of basic Christian doctrines like the existence of only one God and the Triune nature of God. They would say various things about the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible, the last days, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc. Many of the non-denominational churches that I visited had statements of faith that were probably less than ten years old. That is to say, they were written very recently as compared to the doctrinal confessions of the Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians. These statements of faith are called creeds. In Arabic, the word is aqidah. In the Koran, Orthodox Christians are called believers, but many Muslims are unfamiliar with the creeds of Orthodox Christians. I am going to discuss creeds here as they pertain to Muslims and Christians.

In the Koran, it says:

Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans – whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. (Koran 2:62, Pickthall)

and in another surah:

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good). (Koran 3:85, Yusuf Ali)

These verses seemed to be contradicting each other, but actually they do not. One can be a Christian and be a Muslim. The word, Islam, in Koran 3:85 refers to a way of life and not a theology. Islam means submission, obedience, surrender, sincerity, and peace. A person who sincerely surrenders his life to God and strives to obey Him is practicing Islam. This is why the disciples of Jesus are called Muslims in the Koran.

When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: “Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?” Said the disciples: “We are Allah’s helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Koran 3:52, Yusuf Ali)

According to verse 2:62, Jews, Christians, and Sabeans who believe in God, the Last Day (that is, the Resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment), and do righteous deeds will not be eternally damned. The Jews and Christians in this verse are not those who have become members of the Muslim community. Otherwise, they would not be called Jews and Christians in this verse. The Sabaeans are probably people who believe in one God, but have no particular religious affiliation. That is the view of some Koranic commentators.

Verse 3:85 is actually teaching the same thing that Jesus taught in the Gospels.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, NKJV)

The disciples of Jesus were Muslims because they had surrendered their lives to God. A Muslim is one who has surrendered to God.

Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27, NKJV)

The Orthodox Christians are called believers in two surahs: Surah 30 and Surah 85. In Surah 30, it says:

The Romans have been defeated in the nearer land, and they, after their defeat will be victorious Within ten years – Allah’s is the command in the former case and in the latter – and in that day believers will rejoice In Allah’s help to victory. He helpeth to victory whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Merciful. (Koran 30:2-5, Pickthall)

Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall wrote this explanation of this Surah.

    Ar-Rûm, “The Romans,” takes its name from a word in the first verse.
The armies of the Eastern Roman Empire had been defeated by the Persians in all the territory near Arabia. In the year A.D. 613 Jerusalem and Damascus fell, and in the year Egypt. A Persian army invaded Anatolia and was threatening Constantinople itself in the year A.D. 615 or 616 (the sixth or seventh before the Hijrah) when, according to the best authorities, this Sûrah was revealed at Mecca. The pagan Arabs triumphed in the news of Persian victories over the Prophet and his little band of followers, because the Christian Romans were believers in the One God, whereas the Persians were not. They argued that the power of Allah could not be supreme and absolute, as the Prophet kept proclaiming it to be, since the forces of a pagan empire had been able to defeat His worshippers.
The Prophet’s answer was provided for him in this grand assertion of Theocracy, which shows the folly of all who think of Allah as a partisan. It opens with two prophecies: that the Romans would be victorious over the Persians, and that the little persecuted company of Muslims in Arabia would have reason to rejoice, “within ten years.”* In fact, in A.D. 624 the Roman armies entered purely Persian territory, and in the same year a little army of Muslims, led by the Prophet, overthrew the flower of Arab chivalry upon the field of Badr.
But the prophecies are only a prelude to a proclamation of God’s universal kingdom, which is shown to be actual Sovereignty. The laws of nature are expounded as the laws of Allah in the physical spheres, and in the moral and political spheres mankind is informed that there are similar laws of life and death, of good and evil, action and inaction, and their consequences — which no one can escape by wisdom and cunning. His mercy, like His law, surrounds all things, and the standard of His judgment is the same for all. He is not remote or indifferent, partial or capricious. Those who do good earn His favour, and those who do ill earn His wrath, no matter what may be their creed or race; and no one, by the lip profession of a creed, is able to escape His law of consequences.
It belongs to the middle group of Meccan Sûrahs.
*The word in the Arabic (bida’) implies a space of not less than three, and not more than nine, years.
(The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, pp. 289,290, The New American Library, Inc., 1633 Broadway, New York, New York 10019, public domain)

Notice that Mr. Pickthall said, “Because the Christian Romans were believers in one God.” He had a much better understanding of Trinitarian theology than many Muslim clerics do today. Trinitarian Christians do not worship three gods. They worship only one God who consists of three hypostases: Father, Word, and Spirit. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety and not one-third of God or a completely different god from the other two. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. This is a mystery which we do not try to explain. One Orthodox Christian theologian calls the Trinity a cross for the mind. The Koran says concerning God:

They encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. (Koran 2:255, Pickthall)

St. Paul says that “His ways” are “past finding out.” (Romans 11:33)

The Holy Prophet Moses said:

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, to do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29, LXX)

So, we back away from trying to explain the mystery and accept what has already been revealed to us concerning it.

In the 85th Surah, the Koran calls Christians believers there, too.

By the heaven, holding mansions of the stars, and by the Promised Day. And by the witness and that whereunto he beareth testimony, (self-)destroyed were the owners of the ditch of the fuel-fed fire, when they sat by it, and were themselves the witnesses of what they did to the believers. They had naught against them save that they believed in Allah, the Mighty, the Owner of Praise, Him unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is of all things the Witness. Lo! they who persecute believing men and believing women and repent not, theirs verily will be the doom of hell, and theirs the doom of burning. Lo! those who believe and do good works, theirs will be Gardens underneath which rivers flow. That is the Great Success. Lo! the punishment of thy Lord is stern. (Koran 85:1-12, Pickthall)

Mr. Pickthall gave this explanation of this surah.

   Al-Buruj takes its name from a word in verse 1 which I have translated “mansions of the stars.” The word has the meaning of towers or mansions and is applied to the signs of the Zodiac. Verses 4 to 7 are generally taken to the massacre of the Christians of Najrân in Al-Yaman by a Jewish king Dhû Nawâs, an event of great historical importance since it caused the intervention of the Negus and led to the Abyssinian supremacy in the Yaman which lasted until the War of the Elephant (Sûrah CV) in the prophets year of birth. Professor Horowitz thinks that the words “owners of the ditch, of the fuel-fed fire” refer not to any historical event but the conditions of all persecutors in the hereafter.
An early Meccan Súrah. (The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, p. 435, The New American Library, Inc., 1633 Broadway, New York, New York 10019, public domain, ISBN: 0-451-62305-3)

The believers who were being persecuted in this surah were Christians. In the commentary on verses 4-9 of this surah in The Study Quran it says this regarding the interpretation of most Koranic commentators.

Most say that the religion of those persecuted was Christianity. (The Study Quran, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr,  p. 1497, Harper Collins Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York, New York 10007, Copyright 2015 by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ISBN: 978-0-06-112586-7)

The aqidah in the Koran and the one that forms the basis for the aqidahs of all Muslims consists of six articles of belief.

  • There is only one God and no other besides Him.
  • There are angels.
  • The teachings of the Old and New Testaments are true and should be obeyed.
  • The revelations of the prophets and messengers of God are true and their commandments which they have received from God should be obeyed.
  • There will be a general resurrection of the dead and a Last Judgment which will soon follow.
  • God is sovereign over the affairs of men and the rest of creation.

There is some disagreement between Sunni and Shiite Muslims regarding the last article of belief. The Sunnis emphasize predestination. The Shiites believe in neither complete free will nor complete predestination. The Mutazilis put a much heavier emphasis on free will than the Shiites.

For Protestant readers, these analogies apply regarding the subject of predestination among the Muslims. The Sunnis believe more like the Presbyterians and the Primitive Baptists. The Shiites are more like the Calminians (those who blend Calvinist theology with Arminian theology). The Mutazilis are more like the Free Will Baptists and the Methodists.

Some verses from the Koran which provide a basis for five of the articles of belief in this aqidah are:

O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. (Koran 4:136, Pickthall)

Who is an enemy to Allah, and His angels and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael! Then, lo! Allah (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers. (Koran 2:98, Pickthall)

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing. (Koran 2:177, Pickthall)

The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers – we make no distinction between any of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying. (Koran 2:285, Pickthall)

(The same are) those who say: Lo! Allah hath charged us that we believe not in any messenger until he bring us an offering which fire (from heaven) shall devour. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Messengers came unto you before me with miracles, and with that (very miracle) which ye describe. Why then did ye slay them? (Answer that) if ye are truthful! And if they deny thee, even so did they deny messengers who were before thee, who came with miracles and with the Psalms and with the Scripture giving light. (Koran 3:183,184, Pickthall)

So believe in Allah and His messengers. (Koran 4:171, Pickthall)

Lo! those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom. (Koran 4:150,151, Pickthall)

Lo! We inspire thee as We inspired Noah and the prophets after him, as We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as We imparted unto David the Psalms; and messengers We have mentioned unto thee before and messengers We have not mentioned unto thee; and Allah spake directly unto Moses; messengers of good cheer and of warning, in order that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the messengers. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. (Koran 4:163-165, Pickthall)

Allah made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We raised among them twelve chieftains, and Allah said: Lo! I am with you. If ye establish worship and pay the poor-due, and believe in My messengers and support them, and lend unto Allah a kindly loan, surely I shall remit your sins, and surely I shall bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow. Whoso among you disbelieveth after this will go astray from a plain road. (Koran 5:12, Pickthall)

There are two Creeds (or aqidahs) which came out of the Ecumenical Church Councils. From the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.), there is this one.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of His Father, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, being of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made, both which be in Heaven and in Earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from Heaven] and was incarnate and was made Man. He suffered and the third day He rose again, and ascended into Heaven, and He shall come again to judge both the living and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before He was begotten He was not, or that He was made of things that were not, or that He is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that He is a creature, or subject to change or conversion — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.

There are some disagreements among Muslims as to whether the Word of God is created or uncreated. Jesus is called the Word of Allah in Koran 4:171. Those Muslims who say that the Word of Allah is uncreated are the right-believing ones according to this Creed. St. John the Theologian, who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples (Matthew 10:2; 17:1-8) and a Muslim (Koran 3:52), wrote:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3, NKJV)

It is important that we accept what the apostles of Jesus wrote. Jesus Himself said to His apostles:

He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, KJV)

The First Council of the Constantinople wrote this Creed in 381 A.D.

   We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, being of one essence with the Father, through whom all things were made, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made Man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the Right Hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.
And [we believe] in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, [and] we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Amen.

In our personal prayers and in church we Orthodox Christians usually say I instead of we in order to personalize our confession of faith.

There are no contradictions in the Koran.

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah , they would have found within it much contradiction. (Koran 4:82, Sahih International)

We Trinitarian Christians do not believe that Jesus is a unipersonal Deity. We believe that He is one hypostasis of God who consists of three hypostases. He is distinct from the other two. These verses do not contradict the teachings of other verses regarding Christians in the Koran.

They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, Son of Mary (Koran 5:17, Pickthall)

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, Son of Mary. The Messiah (Himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord. (Koran 5:72, Pickthall)

These verses are condemning the Sabellian heresy. In 5:72, Jesus calls another hypostasis of the Deity Allah. He does not deny that He is Allah. Since each hypostasis is God in His entirety, it is only appropriate that one hypostasis call another hypostasis Allah or God. The Koran does not provide all of the teachings of Jesus regarding Himself which are found in the Gospels. It does tell Muslims to believe the Gospels. (Some Muslim clerics say that Allah gave Jesus a book which was called the Gospel, but there is absolutely no historical evidence for such a book. Two of Jesus’ disciples wrote two of the Gospels — Sts.Matthew and John. St. Mark wrote what he had learned from St. Peter. St. Luke interviewed people who knew about the events and teachings of Jesus. The Injil is the Four Gospels. The other books of the New Testament should be accepted, too. — St. Matthew 10:40)

Koran 4:171 condemns the Tritheist heresy. Koran 5:116 condemns the Maryamite heresy. We Orthodox Christians do not believe that Allah took unto Himself a Son. We believe that the Son proceeded from the Father. The procession of the Son from the Father is different from the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father. The procession of the Son from the Father is called “being begotten.” These words do not mean that God had sex with someone and physically procreated a son. These words are theological words and we really do not know what they mean. Remember Deuteronomy 29:29 and Koran 2:255 as quoted earlier in this blog.

Whenever the Koran condemns the doctrine of Allah taking unto Himself a Son, it is speaking about the Adoptionist heresy. Paul of Samosata and Nestorius taught Adoptionism.

The Koran also condemns the Bitheist heresy. (Koran 9:30,31; 16:51)

We believe that Jesus is a sacrifice for our sins.(I Corinthians 15:3; I John 2:1,2) St. John the Baptist said that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) The Koran speaks of Jesus’ death in three places. (Koran 3:55; 5:117; 19:33)

The Koran calls St. John the Baptist “a prophet of the righteous.”

And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (Koran 3:39, Pickthall)

There are no textual variants of John 1:29 among the Greek manuscripts. Therefore, we can rest assured that what our Bibles say that St. John the Baptist said about Jesus is correct.

We believe that Jesus arose from the dead and will never die again. (Matthew 28; Mark 16:1-18; Luke 24:1-49; John 20,21) The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is implied in Koran 3:55. Jesus spoke about His resurrection in Koran 19:33.

We believe that He ascended into Heaven. (Mark 16:19,20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11) The Koran mentions Jesus’ ascension into Heaven in Koran 3:55 and 4:158. His death (Koran 3:55; 5:117) and His ascension into Heaven do, of course, imply that Jesus bodily arose from the dead.

The Holy Spirit is not the Archangel Gabriel as so many Muslim religious leaders say. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that the Holy Spirit is the Archangel Gabriel. The Holy Spirit is the third hypostasis of the Deity. He is God in His entirety. He is not one-third of God. (I have already spoken about Trinity math earlier in this blog.)

We believe in all things visible and invisible. Among the visible things are the angels. We believe in the existence of angels.

We believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Church will always exist. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18) Anyone who tries to extinguish the Church has become an ally of Satan because he is trying to prevail against it along with the gates of Hell. The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Timothy 3:15) The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church into truth by councils. (John 16:13; Acts 15:28)

We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. (Acts 22:16) I found this interesting verse in the Koran which seems to teach the same thing.

When He caused calm to fall on you as a security from Him and sent down upon you water from the cloud that He might thereby purify you, and take away from you the uncleanness of the Shaitan, and that He might fortify your hearts and steady (your) footsteps thereby. (Koran 8:11, Shakir)

Shaitan is the Arabic name for Satan. God baptized the Muslims with rain water.

Jesus commanded His followers to baptize (Matthew 28:19,20) and said that we need to be baptized. (Mark 16:16; John 3:3-5) The Koran says that we should obey Jesus. (Koran 3:50; 43:63)

Like the Muslims, we believe in a bodily resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. (John 5:28,29; Matthew 25:31-46) We believe in a blessed afterlife for faithful believers in God. (Isaiah 65:17-25, LXX)

We Orthodox Christians believe that God is sovereign, but man still has a free will. Although man has a free will, he still needs God’s assistance in order to work out his salvation in the fear of God.

We Trinitarian monotheists are believers. (Koran 30:2-5; 85:7) Therefore, according to the Koran, our two Creeds are acceptable in Islam.

Verily We have brought the Truth to you: but most of you have a hatred for Truth. (Koran 43:78, Yusuf Ali)

No One is Good but God

July 5, 2016 Leave a comment

One of the verses that gets thrown at Christians by non-Christians in order to substantiate the claim that Jesus never claimed to be God is in St. Mark’s Gospel. It is this text which I give here:

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:17,18, NKJV)

A superficial reading of this passage would appear that Jesus was denying that He was good and that He was God. However, when one examines the text along with other passages of Scripture one can clearly see that that is not the case.

In the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, there are two prophecies regarding the Messiah which indicate that He would never sin. The first is in the seventh chapter. It says:

For before the Child shall know good or evil, He refuses evil, to choose the good; and the land shall be forsaken which thou art afraid of because of the two kings. (Isaiah 7:16, LXX)

The Messiah, according to this text, will be someone who does not sin before He has a consciousness of the difference between sin and virtue. In other words, He will be sinless from birth. The second prophecy regarding His sinlessness is in the 53rd chapter. It says there:

For He practised no iniquity, nor craft with His mouth. (Isaiah 53:9, LXX)

These prophecies would be fulfilled because God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2) The Koran, likewise, affirms that God keeps His promises.

It is a promise of Allah. Allah faileth not His promise, but most of mankind know not. (Koran 30:6, Pickthall)

In the Koran, it says this about Jesus.

And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East, and had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. She said: Lo! I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art God-fearing. He said: I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless son. (Koran 19:16-19, Pickthall)

The Arabic word translated “faultless” in this passage is zakiyyan. It literally means “purified.” This idea of Jesus being purified or sanctified is in agreement with Orthodox Christian doctrine regarding the incarnation of God the Word. The Orthodox Church teaches that Jesus assumed a fallen human nature like ours and sanctified it or purified it as the Koran teaches. In Hebrews, it says:

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrew 2:17, NKJV)

We have a fallen human nature, a nature that is inclined toward sin and could die. Jesus had a nature like that, too, but in fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah, He never sinned. “That which is not assumed is not healed,” says one of the Church Fathers. (I think that it was St. Athanasius who said this, but I know that St. John of Damascus said something very similar in An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. “That which is not taken is not healed.”) If God the Word never assumed a fallen human nature like ours, then He did not heal it.

Unlike Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians, we Orthodox do not accept Blessed Augustine’s view on original sin. The Holy Prophet Ezekiel said:

But the soul that sins shall die: and the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the iniquity of the transgressor shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20, LXX)

Everyone is guilty of his own sins and not the sins of his parents or ancestors. Mortality was transmitted to us from Adam, but the guilt of his first sin was not. Because we die, we sin. (Romans 5:12 – This verse is incorrectly translated in many Bibles.)

Jesus purified the mortal, fallen human nature that He assumed from His mother and He never sinned.

St. Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples (Matthew 10:2; 17:1-6) and a Muslim (Koran 3:52), said this about Jesus:

21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22  “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed. (I Peter 2:21-24, NKJV)

St. Paul said that Jesus knew no sin.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (II Corinthian 5:21, NKJV)

The Church Fathers interpret the words “to be sin for us” to mean “to be a sin offering for us.” Remember that St. John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Jesus said:

And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. (John 8:29, NKJV)

So, if Jesus is “purified” (Koran 19:19), “knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21), “refused the evil, and chose the good” (Isaiah 7:16, LXX), “practised no iniquity” (Isaiah 53:9, LXX), “committed no sin” (I Peter 2:22), and “always does those things which please” God the Father, then Jesus is good. Since “no one is good but One, that is God” (Mark 10:18) and Jesus is good, Jesus, therefore, is God. Jesus never denied that He is good. Actually, He claimed to be good. (John 8:29) Jesus never denied that He is God. Actually, He claimed to be God. (John 8:58; Exodus 3:13,14) Therefore, Mark 10:17,18 is not a denial of Jesus’ Deity

Remember, we Christians do not worship three gods. We worship one God who has three distinct hypostases. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety. When we speak of the Trinity, we say:  1+ 1+ 1 = 1. Three wholes make one whole. This is a mystery which we do not try to explain. God transcends space, time, and even mathematics.

To my Muslim readers, I say that Koran 4:171 is talking about the Tritheist heresy taught by John Philoponus, Eugenius of Seleucia, and Conon of Tarsus, not the Orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The Tritheists committed excess by denying the unity of the three hypostases of the Deity into one God. In Surahs 30 and 85 (Koran 30:2-5; 85:7), Muhammad called Orthodox Christians “believers.” He called the Sabellian Christians disbelievers. (Koran 5:17,72) Jesus is Allah, but Allah is not Jesus. Allah often refers to Himself in the Koran using the first person plural pronouns, We, Us, and Our. The Sabellians believed that Jesus is a unipersonal God who became incarnate and who manifests Himself in one of three different modes: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Sabellians would say that Allah says, “We are Jesus.” We Orthodox Christians reject that heresy.

I have seen non-Christians on the internet using Mark 10:17,18 as a proof-text to support the notion that Jesus denied that He is God. I hope that my explanation of this text in this blog is helpful. Jesus never denied that He is good and He never denied that He is God. When this passage is interpreted using other passages of Scripture, one must reach the conclusion that Jesus is good and He is God.

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