Christian Relaunch

So you think Muhammad was God's greatest prophet?

(If not, better go to the home page and choose a different option.)

Dear Islamic visitor, we hope you will explore this site, and come to see the plausibility of our creed, but first here is a question.

Why does Qur'an 4:157 contradict the New Testament report about the death of Isa al-Masih (Jesus Christ)?

More accurate sources? Parts of the New Testament were written about 25 years after the events, and contain reports received from eyewitnesses. 500 years later, the founder of Islam is unlikely to have had a more reliable source.

Several verses show that Muhammad deeply misunderstood Christianity. This probably affected his whole approach, and if his modern followers can avoid those misunderstandings they may be less suspicious, and more willing to face the fact of al-Masih's resurrection.

Here are some of those verses.

Qur'an 3:49. [Mary was told that Jesus would say]: "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I determine for you out of dust like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with Allah's permission."

Christ's signs were all intimately related to nature. Healing, growing food, wine-making, even withering trees, are natural processes, harnessed in special ways when God came among us, but never violated. He never stooped to "magic tricks". Even his resurrection is no exception, for it is the emergence within history of the proper (and in that sense natural) goal of history. Such tricks as turning clay into flesh, mimicking God's once-only creation of the world, are the stuff of legend, not of history. One or two legends have crept into the New Testament, but only peripherally. The core narratives are free of them.

Qur'an 5:116. [Allah will say] "O Jesus son of Mary! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah?" and he will answer "It did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to say."

The Qur'an seems to suppose that the Christian Trinity comprised Father, Son and Mother, a bizarre aberration that no major Christian group has ever entertained. Certainly it here conflates two entirely different questions, the status of Christ and that of his mother. It is correct on the first, but has thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

The New Testament gives not a hint of any special status for Christ's mother, whom indeed he rebukes once or twice, and who after his departure gathers with his disciples and is never heard of again while some of the others play prominent roles. It was only later, as "Christianity" began to absorb polytheistic influence, that it developed its own version of the Great Mother. Against such quasi-polytheism the Qur'an rightly protests.

The New Testament points repeatedly to the deity of Christ, but nobody has ever held that Christ is "a god besides Allah". Even the most degenerate forms of Christianity have always rejected tritheism. The confession of Christ as "God from God" did not arise under polytheistic influence, it is home-grown, an attempt (sometimes clumsy, and still a work in progress) to understand the "inner constitution" of the one God in the light of the testimony of Christ's disciples that God himself was in him "manifest in flesh". This site accepts that testimony, but you can doubt its truth without confusing it with something entirely different.

Qur'an 61:6. [Jesus son of Mary said] "I am the messenger of Allah to you, verifying that which is before me of the Torah and giving the good news of a messenger who will come after me."

This presumably reflects a misunderstanding of John 14 where Christ predicts the work of the Holy Spirit. The early Christian tradition has no hint that Christ saw himself as "only" one prophet among others, and certainly a prediction of a future prophet was not the content of the Gospel, which was that "God is now visiting his people and his reign on Earth is beginning".

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