The Muslim takes strong exception to the Christian dogma that ‘Jesus is the only begotten son, begotten not made’. This is what the Christian is made to repeat from childhood in his catechism. I have asked learned Christians, again and again as to what they are really trying to emphasize, when they say: ‘Begotten not made’.
They know that according to their own God given (?) records, God has sons by the tons: ‘…Adam, which was the son of God.’
“That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair… And when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them” (Genesis 6: 2,4)
“Israel is My son, even My firstborn” (Exodus 4:22)
“for I (God) am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.” (Jeremiah 31:9)
“the Lord hath said unto me (David): ‘Thou art My son: this day have I begotten thee.” (Psalms 2:7)
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 18:14)
Can’t you see that in the language of the Jew, every righteous person, every Tom, Dick and Harry who followed the Will and Plan of God, was a ‘Son of God’. It was a metaphorical descriptive term commonly used among the Jews. The Christian agrees with this reasoning, but goes on to say: ‘but Jesus was not like that’. Adam was made by God. Every living thing was made by God, He is the Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer of all. Metaphorically speaking therefore God is the Father of all. But Jesus was the ‘begotten’ Son of God, not a created Son of God?
Begotten means ‘sired’!
In my forty years of practical experience in talking to learned Christians, not a single one has opened his mouth to hazard an explanation of the phrase ‘begotten not made’. It had to be an American who dared to explain. He said: ‘It means, sired by God.’ ‘What!’ I exploded: ‘Sired by God?’ ‘No, no!’ he said, ‘I am only trying to explain the meaning, I do not believe that God really sired a son.’
The sensible Christian says that the words do not literally mean what they say. Then why do you say it? Why are you creating unnecessary conflict between the 1,200,000,000 Christians and a thousand million Muslims of the world in making senseless statements?
Reason for objection
The Muslim takes exception to the word ‘begotten’, because begetting is an animal act, belonging to the lower animal functions of sex. How can we attribute such a lowly capacity to God? Metaphorically we are all the children of God, the good and the bad, and Jesus would be closer to being the Son of God than any one of us, because he would be more faithful to God then any one of us can ever be. From that point of view he is pre-eminently the Son of God.
Although this pernicious word ‘begotten’ has now unceremoniously been thrown out of the ‘Most Accurate’ version of the Bible, the Revised Standard Version (RSV), its ghost still lingers on in the Christian mind, both black and white. Through its insidious brainwashing the white man is made to feel superior to his black Christian brother of the same Church and Denomination. And in turn, the black man is given a permanent inferiority complex through this dogma.
The human mind can’t help reasoning that since the ‘begotten son’ of an African will look like an African, and that of a Chinaman as a Chinese, and that of an Indian like an Indian: so the begotten son of God aught naturally to look like God. Billions of beautiful pictures and replicas of this ‘only begotten son of God’ are put in peoples hands. He looks like a European with blonde hair, blue eyes and handsome features like e one I saw in the ‘King of Kings’ or ‘The Day of Triumph’ or ‘Jesus of Nazareth’.
Remember Jeffrey Hunter? The ‘Saviour’ of the Christian is more like a German than a Jew with his polly nose. So naturally, if the son is a white man, the father would also be a white man (God?). Hence the darker skinned races of the earth subconsciously have the feeling of inferiorly ingrained in their souls as God’s ‘step children’. No amount of face creams, skin lighteners and hair strengtheners will erase the inferiority.
God is neither black nor white. He is beyond the imagination of the mind of man. Break the mental shackles of a Caucasian (white) man-god, and you have broken the shackles of a permanent inferiority. But intellectual bondages are harder to shatter: the slave himself fights to retain them.
Answer to Christian dilemmas
‘Christ in Islam’ is really Christ in the Quran: and the Quran has something definite to say about every aberration of Christianity. The Quran absolves Jesus from all the false charges of his enemies as well as the misplaced infatuation of his followers. His enemies allege that he blasphemed against God by claiming Divinity. His misguided followers claim that he did avow Divinity, but that was not blasphemy because he was God. What does the Quran say?
Addressing both the Jews and the Christians, Allah says “O People of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of God, and His Word, which he bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in God and His messengers” (Quran 4:171)
“O People of the Book” is a very respectful title with which the Jews and the Christians are addressed in the Quran. In other words, Allah is saying ‘O Learned People!’, ‘O People with a Scripture!’ According to their own boast, the Jews and the Christians prided themselves over the Arabs, who had no Scripture before the Quran. As a learned people, Allah pulls up both the contending religionists for going to either extremes as regards the personality of Christ.
The Jews made certain insinuations about the legitimacy of Jesus and charged him of blasphemy by twisting his words. The Christians read other meanings into his words; wrench words out of their context to make him God. The modern day Christian, the hot – gospeller, the Bible thumper, uses harsher words and cruder approaches to win over a convert to his blasphemies. He says:
a) ‘Either Jesus is God or a liar’
b) ‘Either Jesus is God or a lunatic’
c) ‘Either Jesus is God or an impostor’
These are his words, words culled from Christian literature. Since no man of charity, Muslim or otherwise, can condemn Christ so harshly as the Christian challenges him to do, perforce he must keep non-committal. He thinks he must make a choice between one or the other of these silly extremes. It does not occur to him that there is an alternative to this Christian conundrum.
Is it not possible that Jesus is simply what he claimed to be, a prophet, like so many other prophets that passed away before him? Even that he is one of the greatest of them, a mighty miracle worker, a great spiritual teacher and guide – the Messiah!. Why only God or Lunatic? Is ‘lunacy’ the opposite of ‘Divinity’ in Christianity? What is the antonym of God? Will some clever Christian answer?
The Quran lays bare the true position of Christ in a single verse, followed by a note by Yusuf Ali’s:
1. ‘That he was the son of a woman, Mary, and therefore a man;’
2. ‘But a messenger, a man with a mission from God, and therefore entitled to honour.’
3. ‘A Word bestowed on Mary, for he was created by Allah’s word ‘Be’, and he was;’
4. A spirit proceeding from God, but not Allah:
His life and mission were more limited than in the case of some other messengers, though we must pay equal honour to him as a prophet of Allah. The doctrines of Trinity, equality with God, and sons, are repudiated as blasphemies. God is independent of all needs and has no need of a son to manage His affairs. The Gospel of John (whoever wrote it) has put a great deal of Alexandrian Gnostic mysticism round the doctrine of the Word (Greek, Logos), but it is simply explained here.’
Reproduced below are verses 119 to 121 from chapter 5 of the Quran depicting the scene of Judgment Day, when Allah will question Jesus, regarding the misdirected zeal of his supposed followers in worshipping him and his mother: And his response:
“And behold! Allah will say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?’ He will say: ‘Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.
‘Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.
‘If Thou dost punish them, they are Thy servant: If Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power, the Wise.’’ (Quran 5:116-118)
Jesus claimed no divinity
If this is the statement of truth from the All-Knowing, that ‘Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’’, then how do the Christians justify worshipping Jesus?
There is not a single unequivocal statement throughout the Bible, in all its 66 volumes of the Protestant versions, or in the 73 volumes of the Roman Catholic versions, where Jesus claims to be God or where he says ‘worship me’. Nowhere does he say that he and God Almighty ‘are one’ and ‘the same person.’
The last phrase above ‘one and the same person’ tickles many a ‘hot-gospeller’ and ‘Bible-thumper,’ not excluding the Doctor of Divinity and the Professor of Theology. Even the new converts to Christianity have memorized these verses. They are programmed to rattle off verses out of context, upon which they can hang their faith. The words ‘are one’ activates the mind by association of memories. ‘Yes’, say the Trinitarians, the worshippers of three gods in one God, and one God in three gods, ‘Jesus did claim to be God!’ Where?
Reverend at the table
I had taken Rev. Morris D.D. and his wife, to lunch at the ‘Golden Peacock.’ While at the table, during the course of our mutual sharing of knowledge, the opportunity arose to ask, ‘Where?’ And without a murmur he quoted, ‘I and my father are one’ to imply that God and Jesus were one and the same person. That Jesus here claims to be God.
The verse quoted was well known to me, but it was being quoted out of context. It did not carry the meaning that the Doctor was imagining, so I asked him, ‘What is the context?’
Choked on ‘context’
The Reverend stopped eating and began staring at me. I said, ‘Why? Don’t you know the context?’, ‘You see, what you have quoted is the text, I want to know the context, the text that goes with it, before or after.’ Here was an Englishman (Canadian), a paid servant of the Presbyterian Church, a Doctor of Divinity, and it appeared that I was trying to teach him English. Of course he knew what ‘context’ meant. But like the rest of his compatriots, he had not studied the sense in which Jesus had uttered the words.
In my forty years of experience, this text had been thrown at me hundreds of times, but not a single learned Christian had ever attempted to hazard a guess as to its real meaning. They always start fumbling for their Bibles. The Doctor did not have one with him. When they do start going for their Bibles, I stop them in their stride: ‘Surely, you know what you are quoting?’, ‘Surely, you know your Bible?’ After reading this, I hope some ‘born-again’ Christians will rectify this deficiency. But I doubt that my Muslim readers will ever come across one in their lifetime who could give them the context.
What is the context?
It is unfair on the part of the Reverend, having failed to provide the context, then to ask me, ‘Do you know the context?’ ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘Then, what is it?’ asked my learned friend. I said, ‘That which you have quoted is the text of John chapter 10, verse 30. To get at the context, we have to begin from verse 23 which reads ‘and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s (Colonnade.’ John 10:23)
John, or whoever he was, who wrote this story, does not tell us the reason for Jesus tempting the Devil by walking alone in the lion’s den. For we do not expect the Jews to miss a golden opportunity to get even with Jesus. Perhaps, he was emboldened by the manner in which he had literally whipped the Jews single-handed in the Temple, and upset the tables of the money changers at the beginning of his ministry. (John 2:15)
“The Jews gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:24)
They surrounded him. Brandishing their fingers in his face, they began accusing him and provoking him; saying that he had not put forth his claim plainly enough, clearly enough. That he was talking ambiguously. They were trying to work themselves into a frenzy to assault him. In fact, their real complaint was that they did not like his method of preaching, his invectives, the manner in which he condemned them for their formalism, their ceremonialism, their going for the letter of the law and forgetting the spirit. But Jesus could not afford to provoke them any further there were too many and they were itching for a fight. Discretion is the better part of valor. In a conciliatory spirit, befitting the occasion:
“Jesus answered, I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me,’ ‘but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” (John 10:25-26)
Jesus rebuts the false charge of his enemies that he was ambiguous in his claims to being the Messiah that they were waiting for. He says that he did tell them clearly enough, yet they would not listen to him, but:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.’, ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.’, ‘My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand..” (John 10:28-29)
How can anyone be so blind as not to see the exactness of the ending of the last two verses. But spiritual blinkers are more impervious than physical defects. He is telling the Jews and recording for posterity, the real unity or relationship between the Father and the son. The most crucial verse: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
One in what? In their Omniscience? In their Nature? In their Omnipotence? No! One in purpose! That once a believer has accepted faith, the Messenger sees to it that he remains in faith, and God Almighty also sees to it that he remains in faith. This is the purpose of the ‘Father’ and the ‘son’ and the ‘Holy Ghost’ and of every man and every woman of faith. Let the same John explain his Gnostic mystic verbiage.
“That they all may be one as thou. Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…’ ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one…” (John 17:20-22)
If Jesus is ‘one’ with God, and if that ‘oneness’ makes him God, then the traitor Judas, and the doubting Thomas, and the Satanic Peter, plus the other nine who deserted him when he was most in need are God(s), because the same ‘oneness’ which he claimed with God in John 10:30, now he claims for all ‘who forsook him and fled’ (Mark 14:50)
All ‘ye of little faith’ Matthew 8:26. All ‘O faithless and perverse generation’ (Luke 9:41)
Where and when will the Christian blasphemy end? The expression ‘I and my Father are one,’ was very innocent, meaning nothing more than a common purpose with God. But the Jews were looking for trouble and any excuse will not do, therefore, ‘Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him’, ‘but Jesus said to them, I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’, ‘The Jews answered him, saying: ‘For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself a God.’’ (John 10:31-33)
In verse 24 above the Jews falsely alleged that Jesus was talking ambiguously. When that charge was ably refuted, they then accused him of blasphemy which is like treason in the spiritual realm. So they say that Jesus is claiming to be God ‘I and the Father are one’. The Christians agree with the Jews in this that Jesus did make such a claim; but differ in that it was not blasphemy because the Christians say that he was God and was entitled to own up to his Divinity.
The Christians and the Jews are both agreed that the utterance is serious. To one as an excuse for good ‘redemption’, and to the other as an excuse for good ‘riddance’. Between the two, let the poor Jesus die. But Jesus refuses to co-operate in this game, so: ‘Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, `I have said you are gods’?’ 35. ‘If he called them `gods,’ to whom the word of God came –and the Scripture cannot be broken,’
“what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God’s Son’?’ (John 10:34-36)
Why ‘your law’?
He is a bit sarcastic in verse 34, but in any event, why does he say: “Your Law’? Is it not also his Law? Didn’t he say: ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the Law of the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill (the Law). For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one Jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:1718)
‘You are Gods’ ‘You are gods:’ He is obviously quoting from the 82nd Psalm, verse 6, ‘I have said, ye are gods: and all of you are the children of the most High.’ Jesus, continues: ‘If he (i.e. God Almighty) called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (meaning that the prophets of God were called ‘gods’) and the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35)
In other words he is saying: ‘you can’t contradict me!’ Jesus knows his Scripture; he speaks with authority; and he reasons with his enemies that: ‘If good men, holy men, prophets of God are being addressed as ‘gods’ in our Books of Authority, with which you find no fault, then why do you take exception to me? When the only claim I make for myself is far inferior in our language, viz. ‘A son of God’ as against others being called ‘gods’ by God Himself. Even if I (Jesus) described myself as ‘god’ in our language, according to Hebrew usage, you could find no fault with me.’ This is the plain reading of Christian Scripture. I am giving no interpretations of my own or some esoteric meaning to words!
‘In the beginning’
‘Where does Jesus say: ‘I am God,’ or ‘I am equal to God,’ or ‘Worship me’?’
I asked the Rev. Morris again. He took a deep breath and took another try. He quoted the most oft-repeated verse of the Christian Bible: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1.1)
Please note, these are not the words of Jesus. They are the words of John (or whoever wrote them. Acknowledged by every erudite Christian scholar of the Bible as being the words of another Jew, Philo of Alexandria, who had written them even before John and Jesus were born. And Philo claimed no divine inspiration for them. No matter what mystical meaning that Philo had woven around these words (which our John has plagiarized), we will accept them for what they are worth.
Greek not Hebrew
Since the manuscripts of the 27 Books of the New Testament are in Greek, a Christian sect has produced its own version and has even changed the name of this selection of 27 Books to Christian Greek Scriptures! I asked the Reverend whether he knew Greek? ‘Yes,’ he said, He had studied Greek for 5 years before qualification. I asked him what was the Greek word for ‘God’ the first time it occurs in the quotation ‘and the Word was With God’? He kept staring, but didn’t answer. So I said, the word was Hotheos, which literally means ‘The God’.
Since the European (including the North American) has evolved a system of using capital letters to start a proper noun and small letters for common nouns, we would accept his giving a capital ‘G’ for God; in other words Hotheos is rendered ‘the god’ which in turn is rendered ‘God’.
‘Now tell me, what is the Greek word for ‘God’ in the second occurrence in your quotation – ‘and the Word was God’? The Reverend still kept silent. Not that he did not know Greek, or that he had lied, but he knew more than that; the game was up. I said: ‘the word was Tontheos, which means ‘a god’.
According to your own system of translating you aught to have spelt this word ‘God’ a second time with a small ‘g’ i.e. ‘god’, and not ‘God’ with a capital ‘G’; in other words Tontheos is rendered ‘a god’. Both of these, ‘god’ or ‘a god’ are correct.
I told the Reverend: ‘But in 2 Corinthians 4:4 you have dishonestly reversed your system by using a small ‘g’ when spelling ‘God’ ‘(and the devil is) the god of this world.’ The Greek word for ‘the god’ is Hotheos the same as in John 1:1. ‘Why have you not been consistent in your translations?’ ‘If Paul was inspired to write hotheos the God for the Devil, why don’t you use that capital ‘G’?’
And in the Old Testament, the Lord said unto Moses: ‘See, I have made thee a god to Pharoah’ (Exodus 7:1)
‘Why do you use a small ‘g’ for ‘God’ when referring to Moses instead of a capital ‘G’ as you do for a mere word ‘Word’ – ‘and the Word was God.’?
‘Why do you do this? Why do you play fast and loose with the Word of God?’ I asked the reverend. He said, ‘I didn’t do it.’ I said, ‘I know, but I am talking about the vested interests of Christianity, who are hell-bent to deify Christ, by using capital letters here and small letters there, to deceive the unwary masses who think that every letter, every comma and full stop and the capital and small letters were dictated by God (Capital ‘G’ here!).’