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    I thought that you guys might enjoy this posting I made in response to a Muslim on another board:

    Originally posted by Muhammad

    You two, as well as your Christian brethren, cannot even agree with each other on the nature of your own God, so there is no need to come and debate with us about what Jesus said and did when you cannot even get the most fundamental issue right.
    Admin: are there no disagreements among Muslims? Do no Muslims misunderstand points of Islamic doctrine? If my interlocutor was mistaken, then you must not credit such mistakes to Christianity itself, nor must you think that our (at least apparent) disagreement indicates any real confusion in the doctrines of the orthodoxy (here, I do not refer to the Eastern churches who are not in communion with the Roman Pontiff, but I mean that in the general sense of the term). My [likely Protestant] interlocutor speaks from a position of ignorance. I am giving you the doctrines of the philosophers, of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and of the doctors and fathers of the Church. God is one in being/substance/essence, but three in interpersonal relationships (unspeakably mysterious relationships, note, which do not divide the ineffable unity of the One God).

    Do you doubt that this is the doctrine of the Church? Then I refer you to the words of the Nicene Creed: "I believe in one God."

    Moreover, you lay claim to 'eyewitnesses' and speak of historical credibility. Let us remember that the gospels are not eyewitness accounts.
    I wasn't referring to the gospels. I have in mind what St. Augustine says in "Against the Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus": "I should not believe the Gospel unless the authority of the Catholic Church moved me to do so." I should have no cause to believe in Jesus or in the gospels unless the bishops of the Catholic Church, who can trace their succession in an unbroken lineage back to the apostles of Jesus Himself, had commanded me to believe on the basis of their authority. You may cast doubt on the gospels being eye witness accounts. But the apostles were eye witnesses, and I believe in the doctrines wihch they have handed down to us through their successors. I believe on the basis of their authority, of their account.

    You have no basis, not even a probable one, for your beliefs. None. I believe based on a strong probability (i.e., the eye witnesses were credible). Your beliefs are groundless. You believe what you do because a guy said an angel spoke to him. From an outsider's perspective, do you realize how silly that sounds? If I believed everyone who has ever said that an angel spoke to him, do you know all of the ridiculous things that I would have to believe?

    Your prophet commands you to believe in matters about which natural reason speaks, and he tells us no more than what we already could have known about on our own (and he commands us to believe many false things besides). It is for this reason that Averroes, a medieval philosopher in your own religious tradition, considered Islam a mere congeries of fables, of convenient lies for the masses, to control and pacify the people (a barbarous people, no less) into living at least halfway decent lives. He considered Aristotle to be a most divine and inspired man. Your prophet? Of him, as far as I know, he said no such thing. Why? Set up the words of the philosophers against the words of your prophet, and there is no contest. None.

    The bishops of the Church, however, in the sobriety of their doctrine, command me to believe where reason cannot go. In fact, where reason can go, She encourages me to look and see. Your prophet throws up a veil to hide what reason can tell us. The Church takes away the veil and invites us to look. Look and see, says St. Paul (I paraphrase Romans 2): the words of the Law are written in the hearts of men. Look and see, says St. Paul (I paraphrase Romans 1): the existence and attributes of God are displayed in the works of nature. And when we have finished looking, the Church shows us even more. It is for this reason that, whereas Islam is intrinsically anti-intellectualist and stifles philosophical inquiry, many philosophers throughout the centuries have been watered and received nourishment from the Catholic Faith. For that One, True Faith, I say, points to reason, and reason points past itself to where it cannot go.

    Again, why do I believe in the utter falsity of the words of your prophet? Because at mass I have heard, again and again, the words that Jesus spoke, the words that have been repeated for roughly 2000 years, the words that the apostles told us Jesus spoke:

    "This is my body. It will be given up for you. This is the chalice of my blood, this is the chalice of the new and everlasting covenent. It will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins."

    And speaking thus, he commanded his apostles, the first bishops of the Catholic Church: "Do this in memory of me." If the mass is roughly 2000 years old, and if we have received it from the apostles, then your prophet is not credible, and his words are not God's words.

    You also talk about 'unaltered Bibles'. Have a read of the following quoted by sister Insaanah:
    You're basically just agreeing with what I said before. On the one hand, Muslims will quote from the Old and New Testaments when it is convenient for them, but then, in the same breath, will claim that the verses which disagree with them are later interpolations. And, of course, they are perfectly free from being disproven, since the original texts, they claim, the original uninterpolated versions, don't exist. This is not a tactic which is original to Islam. This was a popular tactic of the Manichean sect.

    So tell me, as a Muslim, do you command me to believe the Old and New Testaments, or do you ask that I reject them? If you ask that I reject them, then why do you quote them? But if you command me to believe in the Old and New Testaments, even in part, then I'll answer you with the words of St. Augustine (De Utilitate Credendi (On the Usefulness of Belief)): you ask me to believe in the words of the Old and New Testaments, which I have received from the Catholic Church, and which I have believed on their authority, and now that I have received it from them on their authority (in which I have strong probable reasons to believe), you bid me to believe that you understand and explain it better than them based on your authority (in which I have no reason at all to trust)? But that's foolishness in the highest degree.

    Had Jesus not been born of a virgin, performed miracles, died on the Cross, risen from the dead and then ascended into heaven (and, what is also amazing, assumed His Most Blessed Mother into heaven at the end of her earthly life), then I should have laughed at the bishops when they commanded me that they understood the Old Testament better than the Jews. "But we saw," so said the Apostles, "this very thing happen, and here is what He told us." And the world trembled at their words and believed. Did your prophet die and rise from the dead? Or does he still lie in the grave? What public miracles did he perform that I should believe in a single word of his testimony?

    But I tell you, the history of the Catholic Church has abounded in miracles even after Jesus ascended into heaven. Have you heard of the apparition of the Most Blessed Mother at Fatima? Have you heard of St. Padre Pio? How about St. Francis of Assisi? Perhaps you've heard of Our Lady at Lourdes?

    Or perhaps you are familiar with the Saints of the Catholic Church, especially the more recent ones (i.e., modern era)? Their canonizations literally required miracles.

    What cause have I to believe in the words of your prophet? He claimed an angel spoke to him? Have you visited an insane asylum? He wrote a book? So did L. Ron Hubbard. He raised an army? So did pretty much every tyrant who ever lived.

    Show me, I say, a single piece of evidence which could only have come from God which testifies to the words of your prophet being from God.

    Then you throw in the trinity. We have heard this all before:
    Here, I quote the words that you quoted:

    As soon as the word three has to enter your description of God, that oneness is lost. When Muslims say ONE, we mean ONE. No persons, no essences, nothing. Just One God, Glorified and Exalted be He above all that people associate with Him. The words two, three, four, five, seven, never enter the equation
    The law of non-contradiction is that the same thing cannot be and not be in the same respect at the same time. Note the key words "in the same respect." If her assertion is that Christians contradict themselves, then she doesn't understand the rules of logic. If she asserts that Christian do not contradict themselves, but she denies a plurality of relations in God, then what is she doing be restating her own doctrine, without any defense or argument, and rejecting the Christian one? There's nothing compelling in that.

    We have had all the analogies: the water, gas-solid-liquid one, the egg, shell-white yolk one, and also the flame-heat-light one. The three persons are distinct yet still one. I have light in my room, does that mean the roof is on fire, or that I have a flame in my room? No. Therefore light exists without any flame. I have heat in my room, does that mean something in my room is on fire? No. Heat exists without any flame. Heat and light exist by themselves separately. In the same way that Jesus (peace be on him) was created by God and was separate to God. Is the heat from a radiator in one room the same as the light from the light bulb? Nobody would walk past and say they were one. Would we say the heat of the flame is the flame? No. In the same way, we cannot and do not say that Jesus is God. Blow on a flame and it goes out. Can the existence of God be likened to such a flame? No, Glorified and Exalted be He above that"
    These are all terrible analogies. If these are the only analogies that Muslims have heard in defense of the trinity, then I can understand why they would consider the doctrine ridiculous. They all indicate a real distinction between the being of the things involved, which cannot be admitted in the case of the ineffable unity and simplicity of the Divine being/essence. I agree with Plato Himself: "The One is not many."

    However, what Insaanah ascribes to Christians isn't orthodox Christian belief.

    I very much appreciated, on the other hand, the quoted words of Ansar Al-'Adl, which I here quote:

    When we say that the trinity is illogical, are we trying to comprehend God's nature within our limited scope of comprehension? Is that why we cannot comprehend trinity? Or is it because of something else?

    There is a distinct difference between admitting that we cannot comprehend God's nature or appearance, and attributing something to God which defies reality. Allow me to elaborate.

    1 is not equal to 3 (provided that the units are consistant). Those three units cannot operate with the same properties as the one unit. If one was equal to three then it wouldn't be one. Is this a matter of attempting to comprehend God? No, it is simply a matter of defining constant values in our universe.

    According to trinitarian Christianity, God sent the Son to the world. The sender and the one being sent cannot be the same. Jesus called out to God and prayed to Him. The caller and the one being called upon cannot be the same.
    The problem that he's having is that he doesn't understand the difference between signification and supposition (these are terms of medieval logic). Signification is when a term signifies or points out a nature. "Man" signifies human nature. Human nature is what "man" calls to mind and points to. Thus, "deity is humanity" is false. Supposition, however, is when a term "stands for" something, generally an individual. "Bob is running." "Bob" in this case, supposes for, i.e., stands for, the concrete individual, Bob, who is running. Again, consider the sentence: "A man is running." "A man," once again, can suppose for or stand for Bob. I can point at Bob and say: "A man is running," and it will be understood that by "A man," I mean Bob, i.e., the concrete individual who is running.

    Thus, when the Christian says that "God sent the Son" or "Jesus called out to God," "God," in each case, must be understood as supposing for God, the Father. And here, the Christian will agree with what the quoted person above says: The Father is not the Son. They differ personally, i.e., in terms of interpersonal relationships (note that in every relationship, there are the two terms of the relationship (i.e., the two "things" which are related) and the relation itself: The Father is the Father of the Son). Such verses are to be understood as illustrating the distinction of divine persons. However, without this doctrine of signification and supposition, I can see how the confusion would arise. It does seem extremely strange to assert that someone calls out to or sends himself. However, this is not what's happening.

    So the notion that there are three persons in one God, 3 in 1, is really nothing more than polytheism, because 1 God is 1 person, not three.
    Polytheism is the assertion that there are multiple divine beings. The Christian asserts tha there is only a single divine being, but there is a plurality of real relationships "within" the One Divine Being which do not, for all of that, does not divide the essence. If you want analogies, the better analogies are knowledge and love. There are three terms in every relationship of knowledge and love: the lover or knower, the beloved or the known, and the knowledge or love itself. God is subsistent self-love (a self love, let us note, which exceeds the poverty of all created love: He is Subsistent Charity) and subsistent self-knowledge (a self knowledge, let us note, which exceeds the divisions of all created knowledge; He is, indeed, Subsistent Wisdom). The Father is a Lover who loves the Son; the Son is the beloved who is beloved by the Father; the Holy Ghost is the subsistent Love which ineffably unites them. Yet, there are not three lovers, three beloveds or three loves. There is a single God, who in the community of divine, subsistent relationships, loves and delights in His own Supreme Goodness and Majesty (and oh, if we could only see that, we would instantly fall in love with Him; for He is the Good Itself, infinitely delectable and the fountain of all good and all delights and all gifts).

    Can the immortal die? A trinitarian will say, "God can do anything" but the correct answer is no, the immortal cannot die because that defies his attribute of immortality. If you die, you aren't immortal! It's not a matter of setting limits on God, its a matter of consistency in describing our universe. Can the All-Mighty be overcome? A trinitarian would say, "God can do anything" but again, this has nothing to do with God's potential.
    Death and being overcome, these are not abilites they are inabilities. Death is the inability to live, therefore, the Eternal cannot die. NOT because of any lack in His potential, but because it defies His set attributes.
    I agree with this. It is a contradiction to assert that the immortal and deathless is able to die, that the indestructible is able to be destroyed, etc. But once again, we must understand the difference between signification and supposition. Divinity is per se (in and of itself) immortal and deathless (thus do we pray in the Trisagion: "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One: have mercy on us, and on the whole world); humanity, however, is not. Jesus was able to die insofar as He was man, not insofar as He was God.

    When I say "God died on the Cross," "God" supposes, i.e., stands for, for Jesus, the divine person. We can replace "God" in that sentence with "Jesus." So what we mean is: "Jesus (of whom both human and divine nature are predicated in their entirety) died on the Cross." In which, of course, there is no contradiction. Here, you may say that it's a contradiction to assert that "man is God" is a contradiction, and I'll agree with you, if by that sentence is understood "humanity is divinity." But all that I mean is that both "man" and "God" are predicated of Jesus, i.e., that Jesus is both fully God and fully man (i.e., everything which is true of God and everything which is true of man, insofar as each is each, likewise is true of Jesus). In this, of course, there is no contradiction.

    The answer is that those two beliefs are not analogous.
    I agree. Contradictions can't be admitted. Saying that God is mysterious and can't be comprehended is just a cop-out used by those who belief silly things.

    Trinity is inconceivable.
    It's not. The manner in which God is one is different from the way in which God is three. Recall what the law of non-contradiction states.

    Such things are not properties of the universe we live in. So the trinity canot be accepted by anyone because it is logically self-contradictory. Furthermore, it finds no support in the Tanakh, the New Testament, or the Qur'an.
    No support, of course, in the sections of the Tanakh that Muslims are willing to admit is credible, nor in the sections of the New Testament that Muslims are willing to admit is credible. If we take out all the verses that indicate the trinity or Jesus' divinity, of course, we won't be left with with any verses that indicate the trinity of Jesus' divinity. But that's just a tautology.

  • #2
    Well done Trad!


    • #3
      Originally posted by Traditio View Post

      .From an outsider's perspective, do you realize how silly that sounds?
      Take my word for it: From an outsider's perspective, your beliefs sound quite silly as well.

      There is no real evidence that your Christian beliefs are true, or that the events reported in the NT are historical. And the fact that Christianity adopted some aspects of Greek philosophy isn't of tremendous value either.

      There is no evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Many religions claim various and sundry "miracles"- there is nothing unique there either.

      If you want to believe in your traditions- by all means go ahead and do so. But don't expect outsiders to accept what isn't their tradition.


      • #4
        Originally posted by chair View Post
        If you want to believe in your traditions- by all means go ahead and do so. But don't expect outsiders to accept what isn't their tradition.
        Then why did God send Jonah to Nineveh?
        Your "catholic" is showing. - Sozo


        • #5
          Originally posted by glassjester View Post
          Then why did God send Jonah to Nineveh?
          Did Jonah tell the people of Nineveh to become Jews?


          • #6
            Originally posted by chair View Post
            Did Jonah tell the people of Nineveh to become Jews?
            After Jonah spoke to them, the people "believed in God, and proclaimed a fast."

            That sounds a bit like outsiders accepting "what isn't their tradition."
            Your "catholic" is showing. - Sozo


            • #7
              Originally posted by glassjester View Post
              After Jonah spoke to them, the people "believed in God, and proclaimed a fast."

              That sounds a bit like outsiders accepting "what isn't their tradition."
              It sounds more like a reader reading his agenda into the Biblical story.


              • #8
                Originally posted by chair View Post
                Take my word for it: From an outsider's perspective, your beliefs sound quite silly as well.

                There is no real evidence that your Christian beliefs are true, or that the events reported in the NT are historical. And the fact that Christianity adopted some aspects of Greek philosophy isn't of tremendous value either.

                There is no evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Many religions claim various and sundry "miracles"- there is nothing unique there either.

                If you want to believe in your traditions- by all means go ahead and do so. But don't expect outsiders to accept what isn't their tradition.
                Let's be clear. I was attacking a specific set of Muslim beliefs, i.e., what their "prophet" says about Jesus. My point is simply this:

                If I ask the Muslim why he believes what he does about Jesus, he'll tell me: "A guy, who has never met Jesus, said an angel told him these things."

                If the Muslim asks me why I believe what I do about Jesus, I'll tell him: "This is what has been passed down to us, through the unbroken succession of Catholic bishops, from the time of Jesus even to the present day. This tradition, we believe, has been handed on to us by eye witnesses." Again, I'll appeal to the fact that the Catholic mass has been consistently celebrated for roughly the past 2000 years.

                Granted that neither is certain evidence, which is more probable? To my mind, the former claim is ridiculous, whereas the latter at least has some degree of probability (though an atheist, of course, will discard it off hand, since any explanation, no matter how unreasonable, is better than one which involves miracles).

                If the Muslim further says that the guy wrote a book, I'll tell him that he has no more reason to believe in Mohommad's words than in John Smith's (Mormonism). Note, of course, that I won't appeal to the Bible. "I believe x because a book told me so" is a really stupid reason to believe anything. Protestants have absolutely no grounds to hold their sectarian opinions.
                Last edited by Traditio; July 24th, 2015, 01:18 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by chair View Post
                  Did Jonah tell the people of Nineveh to become Jews?
                  Jesus saves completely.

                  Titus 1

                  For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped

                  Ephesians 5

                  11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Traditio View Post
                    If I ask the Muslim why he believes what he does about Jesus, he'll tell me: "A guy, who has never met Jesus, said an angel told him these things."

                    If the Muslim asks me why I believe what I do about Jesus, I'll tell him: "This is what has been passed down to us, through the unbroken succession of Catholic bishops, from the time of Jesus even to the present day. This tradition, we believe, has been handed on to us by eye witnesses." Again, I'll appeal to the fact that the Catholic mass has been consistently celebrated for roughly the past 2000 years.

                    Granted that neither is certain evidence, which is more probable? To my mind, the former claim is ridiculous, whereas the latter at least has some degree of probability (though an atheist, of course, will discard it off hand, since any explanation, no matter how unreasonable, is better than one which involves miracles).
                    Well, you're half-right. They both sound pretty ludicrous to me. I'm not sure why you seem to think that another explanation would be unreasonable though.

                    Originally posted by Traditio View Post
                    If the Muslim further says that the guy wrote a book, I'll tell him that he has no more reason to believe in Mohommad's words than in John Smith's (Mormonism). Note, of course, that I won't appeal to the Bible. "I believe x because a book told me so" is a really stupid reason to believe anything. Protestants have absolutely no grounds to hold their sectarian opinions.
                    So, a given doctrine is reliable if it's passed down by an unbroken succession of old men, but not if someone writes something down and just hands down the book? Why? Why is one any more reliable than the other? Why do you think either process is reliable at all?
                    Global warming denialists are like gravity denialists piloting a helicopter, determined to prove a point. We may not have time to actually persuade them of their mistake.


                    • #11
                      More from the debate:

                      Originally posted by Muhammad
                      Greetings Traditio,

                      You’ve raised many issues in your post (and I’m not sure how they’re related to this thread). If this discussion is to continue, it isn’t feasible to discuss so many broad areas together, not in any great detail anyway.
                      Very good point. A propos of this, I'll divide my replies to the distinct areas into different postings.

                      I’d suggest we stick to the most relevant topic and maybe discuss others elsewhere.

                      I will also say at the outset that I’m rather disappointed at the lack of fairness applied when examining Islam. I won’t tolerate disrespectful remarks – they add nothing to the discussion and simply bring your arguments (and you) down.
                      As I understand it, the topic of the original posting is: "Jesus was a Muslim, insofar as He preached submission to the One God, and this is all that the word 'Muslim' means. He intended to teach no new doctrines on this point." If he intends to say this to Muslims, then he preaches to the choir. If he intends to say this to Christians, on the other hand...then my point about the credibility of the testimonies of the bishops vs. the testimony of your prophet comes into play. I only started talking about the Trinity a propos of your quote above.

                      At any rate, I do apologize if anything I've said has come off as unfair or disrespectful, and I hope that you'll (correctly) ascribe it to ignorance on my part.

                      The point is not about a mere disagreement, but the confusion with regards to the most fundamental part of your religion - God Himself. It's interesting you add that it does not indicate 'any real confusion' in Christian doctrine, when that's exactly what it's based on. The Nicene Creed that you quote wasn't formalized until three centuries after the time of Jesus. Numerous creeds preceded it and numerous revisions and debates followed. The earliest creed lacks any Trinitarian reference, whereas the Nicene incorporates ‘Son of God’, ‘God of God’, ‘Begotten, not made’, all of which attests to the ever-changing Christian beliefs regarding Jesus during Christianity’s formative days. How unfortunate that it didn’t stop at "I believe in one God."
                      Trinitarian belief predates the Council of Nicea, as is evident from the fact that it was called in the first place. Generally, councils of the Church are only called when there are large disagreements or problems that need to be settled, generally because of new heresies that arise and need to be stamped out. The fact that a doctrine is formally expressed in a council, in and of itself, is not an indication that the doctrine wasn't held previously. Consider, e.g., the fact that transubstantiation was only formally defined (I think) in the Council of Trent (1500s AD, I think). Nonetheless, the Council didn't define a new doctrine. It's something that was already part of the deposit of the Faith, vis-a-vis Sacred Tradition (i.e., the tenets of the Catholic Faith handed down to us through the succession of bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff). It only need to be defined by a Council because large numbers of protestant heretics were denying what Catholics already believed. Likewise, the Council of Nicea was called because a large number of bishops were teaching something new, heretical and contrary to the deposit of the Faith. Arianism, not the belief in the Trinity, was the new [heretical] doctrine.


                      You have written much about the trinity and brought in yet another analogy. However, no matter how many times one keeps repeating it, or in how many ways it is explained, it will forever remain problematic.
                      I completely agree with this. The Trinity is a mystery of faith. We can't really understand it this side of eternity. Not because, of course, it contradicts reason, but because it exceeds reason. To use Aristotle's image, we are like owls trying to stare at the sun.

                      In every explanation you offer, I see a contradiction (you can add me to the list of those who apparently ‘don’t understand the rules of logic’). You say you don't believe that God is made up of parts and does not need something to hold him together. Yet you later say He consists of a lover, beloved and a subsistent love that unites these two. You say that there cannot be a ‘real distinction between the being of the things involved’. Yet you go on to say ‘the Father is not the Son. They differ personally.’
                      A real distinction of relationships doesn't imply a real distinction of parts in the substance of the thing in question. Consider, e.g., that a given man both may be a father and a son. Nonetheless, the plurality of real relationships which hold true of that one man don't correspond to a real ontological plurality (of parts) in that man. The being of a relationship isn't in something, but towards something. Because the man is a father, he is related to something else, i.e., to his son. When I say that the Holy Ghost is subsistent love who "unites" the lover and the beloved, all I mean by that is that the two terms of a relationship are "bound together" by that relationship. E.g., a father really is related to his son through his fathership. So, when I say that the Holy Ghost, as subsistent love, "unites" the lover and the beloved, I don't mean to indicate that the persons of the trinity are really distinct divine beings or "parts" of the Divine Being who have to be "put together." I am only illustrating the triadic nature of every relationship. There are the two relata (i.e., "things related,") and the relationship itself. In this case, what we are talking about is the triune nature of Divine Self-love and Divine Self-Knowledge. What we are talking about is not three Gods, but a single God who knows and loves Himself, and for whom knowledge and love find expression in the persons (as subsistent relationships) of the Trinity.

                      Of course, even here, the "image" of knowledge and love may seem deficient, but this is only because of the limits of created knowledge and love. Knowledge, ultimately, is simply the cognitional union of knower and known. The known comes to exist in the knower in a cognitional way. Likewise, love is simply the desire (if I might use this term loosely) for union with the beloved.

                      The bottom line is that the persons of the ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Holy Ghost’ are each distinct.
                      According to relation, not according to the Divine Being. This is why the persons of the Trinity are irreducibly distinct, and yet are not distinct divine beings. This is because of the nature of relations or relationships. Necessarily, sonship and fathership, insofar as related to each other, are distinct, and yet, related to or towards each other. Sonship is to be the son of a father. Fathership is to be the father of a son.

                      When one thinks about one, he is not thinking of the other.
                      Yes and no. It's the same as when one thinks about a father. Yes, father and son are distinct (at least according to relation), and yet, fatherhood implies sonhood, and the other way around.

                      Their images cannot be superimposed to create one. It doesn’t matter if you call them essences, persons or relationships, there is a plurality which cannot be justified by saying ‘it’s all within the One Divine Being’, or that the manner of being three is different to that of being one. Consider the following:

                      Christians will say:

                      - The Father is truly God.
                      - The Son is truly God.
                      - The Holy Spirit is truly God.
                      - These are not three Gods, but three different persons who share the essence of that one being who is God.

                      That is as illogical as me saying:

                      - Ahmed is a human being.
                      - Khalid is a human being.
                      - Ayman is a human being.
                      - These are not three human beings, but three different persons who share ONE essence, which is human.

                      Obviously no one says that one essence "human" is being shared by seven billion people on Earth today. Rather, we say that there are seven billion human beings on Earth today. Similarly, we can't say that there are three different persons sharing the one essence of God, but that there are three different Gods in light of what the Trinity teaches.
                      Very clever, Admin. If you'll admit the brief tangent, I must admit, I smiled when I read this last bit about the three human beings. For one thing, it reminds me of when I was reading Avicenna's Metaphysics of the Healing, and he consistently used Arabic names (as opposed to Greek names) for examples. Instead of "Socrates waves his keys," "Zayed waves his keys." For another, I was impressed by the insight of your counterexample.

                      So, I'll begin by saying that Ahmed, Khalid and Ayman could be a single human being (i.e., one according both to essence and existence), presupposing that "Ahmed," "Khalid" and "Ayman" are names for numerically the same individual. Presumably, however, you intend to say that Ahmed, Khalid and Ayman are three numerically distinct individuals, who nonetheless equally participate in humanity.

                      As St. Thomas says, two horses agree according to equinity, but differ according to being (differunt secundum esse).

                      And this is a fair point. It's a contradiction to assert that three distinct individuals are one individual. That's completely ridiculous, and you are right to point it out. When, however, I assert that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God, I intend to assert the following. 1. There is only a single divine being. 2. Each person of the Trinity wholly possesses that singular divine being and that singular divine essence. In other words, each is God and, in particular, that one, single, same God. I.e., Father, Son and Holy Ghost do not indicate numerically distinct divine beings in the same way that Ahmed, Khalid and Ayman indicate numerically distinct human beings. They differ, not according to essence, nor according to being, but according to relation.

                      Here you are simply restating your own doctrine, and there’s nothing compelling (sound familiar?). In actuality, there’s a very clear contradiction and a very convoluted attempt to try and get away from it.
                      I was simply pointing out that the doctrine, as stated, doesn't meet the criterion of a contradiction. I'm not saying that something both is and is not in the same respect at the same time.

                      Saying that Jesus has two natures, one of God and the other of man, is a different claim than that of the Trinity, which is that God exists in three persons. This idea arose because Trinitarians needed to account for the many verses that so clearly represent Jesus as a man and disqualify him from being God.

                      How can it be that the same mind consequently is both created and uncreated, both finite and infinite, both dependent and independent, both changeable and unchangeable, both mortal and immortal, both susceptible of pain and incapable of it, both able to do all things and not able, both acquainted with all things and not acquainted with them?
                      I completely agree with what you are saying here. That would be a most grevious contradiction, and if Christians believed this, then I would have to side with you wholeheartedly in rejecting their doctrines as abhorrent to reason. [I must ask, at this point: where did you get this notion from? Does your prophet accuse Christians of believing this?]

                      But we don't believe that. We don't believe that Jesus Christ had a single intellect. This is the view, not of Catholics, but of various heretics. Jesus, as fully God and fully man, possesses two intellects and two wills: an uncreated intellect and will (as Divine Word) and a created intellect and will (as man). I don't think that you are fully appreciating what I mean when I say that Jesus possesses both a human and a divine nature, and, therefore, everything which is true of man as man or God as God is true of Jesus. Jesus, as man, has body and soul (which, in turn, is why He was able to die; death is simply the separation of body and soul). He is endowed with sensation, imagination, etc. He felt pleasure and pain. He possesses a human mind, a human intellect, a human reason. Yet, He is also God, and as such, is Divine Wisdom and Divine Mercy and Divine Charity.

                      We Catholics do not say that Jesus was God in human costume. We Catholics do not say that Jesus is divinity turned into humanity (as though he stopped being God and started being human). Jesus is God who has assumed, in the unity of His person, humanity. When we say that "the word became flesh," we mean that the Divine Word, remaining eternally as He is, took on a human nature and fully and really became a human being.

                      Why then do you repeatedly use terms such as ‘unspeakably mysterious relationships’ and ‘the ineffable unity’? Why are you commanded ‘to believe where reason cannot go’?
                      Because there are some things that we simply cannot know by our own power. There are some things that we simply have to take on faith. Consider, e.g., the stories that your mother tells you about when you were a baby. You accept this purely on her authority. Again, consider what you believe about your prophet. Did an angel talk to him? You can't know that through rational inquiry. You believe it on the [errant, I believe] testimony of others.

                      In the case of the Trinity, what we are talking about is the inner life of God. You'll accuse me of a cop-out. But I'll ask you to consider the following. What reason do we have to believe in God in the first place? We see, as St. Paul says, the existence of God written in the works of creation (Romans 1). From created things we can reason to the fact that God exists, that He is One, that He is Good, etc. But our mode of procedure is just the same as when we reason from the activities of plants to the fact that the sun exists and is a heat source for them.

                      We aren't looking at the sun itself. We are looking at plants and reasoning to their cause.

                      Likewise, in the case of God, we aren't looking at God Himself. We are looking at creation and reasoning to its cause. Created things possess being, unity and goodness, and therefore, their First Cause must be Being Itself, Unity Itself and Goodness Itself. But what does unity, goodness, truth and beauty and being mean when applied to God? We have no idea. We know that God exists. We don't know what God is. Even our term "God" only indicates God's relationship to created things. What is God in Himself? What is the inner life of God like? We have no way of knowing by our own natural powers.

                      This is where the doctrine of the Trinity comes into play.

                      And note, of course, that even though the Trinity, insofar as it indicates something about God's inner life, is beyond reason, note that it is not discordant with what we can know. You'll focus on your prophet's insistence that God is One. I agree that God is one: Plato, Plotinus, Iamblichus and Proclus insist on this very point. But I also know that God is The Good Itself, and as the Good is an overflowing, creative, productive fullness. In the words of Plotinus, God is the dunamis panton (the [productive] power of [making] all things). The infinity of His Goodness "overflows," so to speak, with "sheer excess," so to speak. When I hear of the doctrine of the Trinity, I am told by Faith what is consistent with reason: "The inner life of God is not barren and sterile. It's dynamic and expressive."


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Muhammad
                        Apostolic Succession & The Bible

                        So essentially you place the word of bishops/the church above all else. This is a problem in itself as it gives authority to Christians to refuse to agree with their own scripture and interpret it according to their personal ideas. In other words, how do you know that you are following the true teachings of Jesus and not the misguidance others may have attributed to him? Notable in this regard is how the scripture warns of false teachings arising even from among church leaders, and that Christians were to compare the teachings of these later church leaders with Scripture. According to the Bible, Jesus is reported to have said, ‘… in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ (Matthew 15:9)
                        Protestants make similar arguments, i.e., that Catholics put "the tradition of men" over the "word of God." A simple overview of the vast plurality of protestant sects, and their vastly different interpretations of the Sacred Scriptures and their corresponding beliefs, however, ultimately shows that what you are suggesting isn't quite right.

                        It is precisely because my belief in the Sacred Scriptures is grounded in my belief in the authority of the Catholic Bishops, and the Sacred Tradition which they have handed on from the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles themselves, that I am quite sure that I have absolutely no leeway to "refuse to agree with their own scripture and interpret it according to their personal ideas." The sole authoritative interpreter of the Sacred Scriptures is the Church and Her magisterial (teaching) authority, and She cannot change it at whim, but simply hands on to us what She has always held for almost two thousand years.

                        It is the protestant, not the Catholic, who can be accused of playing fast and loose with scriptural interpretation and changing doctrine at whim. Should a bishop teach heresy, at odds with the received interpretation of the Scriptures, the Church Itself would say (as She has said in many councils): "That is not the tradition that you have received from me. Look and see, for this, and not what you say, is what I have always believed and handed on."

                        Furthermore, I don’t understand how you can claim apostolic succession is a standard of ‘reasonableness and historical credibility’. There is no record of the names of bishops let alone their biographies. You know practically nothing about the people carrying your creed. Neither is it clear if they can be traced to the apostles.
                        Can you point to any point in time, from the time of the apostles onwards, in which there have not been bishops who have claimed simply to be handing on a Sacred Tradition which they have received from others? If you wish to deny apostolic succession, then there is a simple way to do so: show me a breach in that succession. Do you wish to deny that the Catholic mass has been celebrated from the time of Jesus Christ all the way to the present day? Then show me a time in between in which the Catholic mass wasn't celebrated.

                        It is, however, interesting that you want names and biographies. I have such a list just for the bishops of Rome.

                        Francis A. Sullivan, a Catholic priest and distinguished theologian, believes that apostolic succession is something that is not readily provable in conception, and therefore must be accepted as a matter of faith: ‘Neither the New Testament nor early Christian history offers support for a notion of apostolic succession as “an unbroken line of episcopal ordination from Christ through the apostles down through the centuries to the bishops of today … one must invoke a theological argument based on Christian faith to arrive at the conclusion that bishops are the successors of the apostles “by divine institution”.“ (From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church)
                        The key words are "by divine institution." It takes an act of faith to believe that the bishops have received the deposit of faith and are handing on that deposit of faith by divine commission. I'm not sure that it takes an act of faith, however, to believe the fact that there is such an unbroken line of bishops, i.e., that there have always been people who have claimed to hold such an office. I mean, you can simply deny that the bishops are conveyers of divinely revealed truth and have a special office instituted by Jesus Christ. That's not the same thing as denying that there have always been bishops since the time of Jesus' apostles.

                        This is notwithstanding other issues such as the fact that the picture painted by the four gospels of Jesus’ disciples shows several incidences of cowardice and ill fortitude, casting doubt on how successfully they modelled their lives on his, thus undermining Christianity’s first line of teachers.
                        You are conflating two distinct ideas:

                        1. The bishops have conveyed divinely revealed truth vis-a-vis Sacred Tradition.
                        2. The bishops were and are impeccable (sinless).

                        The affirmation of 1 and the denial of two aren't mutually exclusive. I can assert that St. Peter and the other apostles were sinners, and yet Jesus appointed him and them to positions of teaching authority and entrusted him and them with a deposit of divine revelation

                        Furthermore, are we talking about prior or posterior to Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles? If you read the Acts of the Apostles, your opinion of the apostles may change.

                        We also know that characters like Paul who are responsible for much of Christian teaching didn't even meet Jesus.
                        St. Paul is a strange case. Have you read Acts of the Apostles?

                        At any rate, even if St. Paul "didn't even meet Jesus" prior to Jesus' passion and death, so what? I don't ground my beliefs solely in the authority of St. Paul. There's also the matter of the eleven apostles (I'm not counting Judas) who did meet Jesus.

                        Compare all this to the intricate system in Islam of studying each person in the chain of narrators, checking their reliability and memory, checking that the chain is unbroken, cross-examining with other chains, examining the text of the report… to claim you have more credibility in this regard is truly laughable.
                        The question is who has more credibility to make claims about Jesus. You are telling me that St. Paul didn't meet Jesus. Even if true, however, note the following:

                        Your prophet definitely didn't meet Jesus.

                        So I claim, vis-a-vis the Succession of Bishops, to draw my beliefs back to the first hand accounts of at least some eye witnesses.
                        You draw your beliefs about Jesus back to the first hand accounts of no eye witnesses.

                        Which one constitutes better evidence? Come on. You can say it.

                        I mean, just for a moment, let's forget about the fact that we're talking about Jesus and you think that your prophet received infallible truth from God through an angel.

                        Which one constitutes better evidence? Suppose there's a court case and there's a judge. Each of us has to prove our case. I bring forward the testimony of some eye witnesses. You bring forward the testimony of no eye witnesses. I'm pretty sure that some is more than none, and, as such, constitutes a stronger case.

                        And note, this is evident prior to any commitment to Catholic or Muslim belief. Just try to look at both sides as an impartial observer, and not as a religious person. These people (the Catholics) purport some eye witnesses. The Muslims purport none. If you didn't already have religious commitments, which would you be inclined to believe solely on the basis of the evidence?

                        Consider a different case. I believe, on the basis of American historical tradition, what I have learned in school, what people claim to read from prior accounts, etc., that George Washington was the first president of the United States. Suppose someone should come up to me and claim, on the grounds that an angel revealed it to him, that this wasn't true. There is a distinct possibility that I would laugh in his face.

                        Muslims believe that Jesus was a Prophet of God to whom a revelation was revealed. However, this revelation was not preserved. This does not mean that there is absolutely no truth left in the gospels extant today. The criterion then, for deciding what is true from the Bible and what isn't, is the Qur'an, God's final message to mankind which He promised to protect.

                        There are a number of reasons why Muslims might quote from the Bible. For example, Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was prophecised in former scriptures. Therefore there is a discussion about such a prophecy in the Bible. Also, since Christians don’t accept the Qur’an as the Word of God, sometimes the Bible is used to discuss with Christians based on their own teachings and in order to stimulate a more unbiased understanding. The Bible is also used to demonstrate to Christians the flaws in their foundation and to challenge them with regards to the claims that they preach to Muslims. Some ex-Christians have even stated that the Bible led them to Islam.
                        Fair enough. I mean, I ultimately think that your view is erroneous, but I understand the view that you are indicating.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Muhammad View Post

                          You are willing to believe that God can turn into a man, suffer at the hands of His own creation and be killed in a torturous death, yet find it strange that an angel can descend with revelation. Why do you overlook the teaching of your Bible, where we find angels involved in communicating God’s message? See for instance: Acts 7:38, 53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2.
                          Admin, I freely admit, abstractly considered, the possibility. Were I not a Christian, I would admit that it is possible that an angel of God spoke to your prophet (since I am a Christian, I must maintain that it is impossible, since truth cannot contradict truth). I do not fault you, who are not a Christian, for believing in the possibility. Note, however, that "it's possible" is not a good reason to believe something. The Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are possible. I don't believe in either.

                          In order to make a sound transition from believing that something is possible to believing that something is actual, i.e., actually is the case, there has to be some kind of evidence. Abstractly considered, could an angel have spoken to your prophet? Sure. Is it particularly likely? No. Furthermore, given the nature of the claim, the standard of evidence is fairly high. [Note that it takes "more likely than not" to win a civil suit in the United States.] I want to put this in perspective, Admin:

                          What reason would a Jew have to believe? Tradition holds that God Himself wonderfully led them out of Egypt, worked wonders for them in the desert for 40 years, miraculously obtained victory for them over their enemies, and publically revealed the Law to them at Mt. Sinai. Evidence? The paschal feast and the (Aaronic and Levitical) priests are evidence, for starters. Have you read the books of the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament)?

                          What reason does a Christian have to believe? Eye witness accounts that somebody, who in turn had raised others from the dead, himself rose from the dead and appeared to them over the course of several weeks, after which He ascended into heaven. Evidence? The Bible, Sacred Tradition and the Catholic Mass.

                          Please explain how we could know about details regarding Paradise, Hell, the Day of Judgement, the angels and devils, and about the countless details of how we should worship God, all on our own? Which false things?
                          Well, for starters, the alleged "details regarding Paradise, Hell, the Day of Judgement, the angels and devils, and about the countless details of how we should worship God." Not to mention your prophet's views on marriage, divorce and truthfulness. :P

                          A propos of Hell: Seriously. What's up with the Zaqqum? Do you really believe that? In the literal sense? How?

                          I’m not sure where you got this from. Ibn Rushd set out to show that there is no incompatibility between religion and philosophy when both are properly understood. He used Quranic injunctions to reflect upon and to observe Allah’s signs as an injunction to philosophize. I find it difficult to believe he could have such a low opinion of Islam when he was a Maliki Jurist (Qadi). By his own account, he took 20 years to produce Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid, his primary work of fiqh. Despite his enemies' charges to the contrary, Ibn Rushd did not attempt to subvert religion using philosophy, but rather used analytical methods to better understand the message and tenets of Islam.
                          Averroes: 1. affirmed the eternity of the world and 2. denied the immortality of the human soul. What does your prophet say?

                          This can only be said by one so ignorant of Islamic teaching and history.
                          You cannot be a good Muslim and a good philosopher. My evidence for this is the difference, on the one hand, between Avicenna and Averroes, on the one hand, and Al Ghazali, on the other hand. In the end, either the Muslim must throw away the books of Plato and Aristotle, or else, he must throw away his Quran (note that even Avicenna, though less willing to attack Islamic doctrine, quietly rejects parts of it in his Metaphysics of the Healing: the sufferings of Hell and the joys of paradise, as described by your prophet, he says, actually will happen, but only for non-philosophers, and it will be purely imaginary). You'll tell me that medieval Arabia was an intellectual oasis. I'll grant this freely. St. Thomas Aquinas owed an incredible debt to Averroes and Avicenna, and I consider them both to have contributed greatly to the history of philosophy. But what's happened since then? Islamic philosophy is all but dead. Al Ghazali has basically won. If you take your start from philosophical inquiry, there is absolutely nothing that would lead you to accept Islam. The only way that a Muslim philosopher arises is if he is already a Muslim and then decides to start doing philosophy. Invariably, he is led to deep embarrassments. Historically, this is just true.

                          Compare this to the fact that Neoplatonists flocked to Christianity. Why? Because they recognized a need of reason that reason itself couldn't solve.

                          Here, a quote from a metaphysics lecture of mine is worth repeating (and, of course, I hope that you enjoy reading it; I'm rather fond of this bit of my writing):

                          If only, indeed, it were possible to 'see' the One (which is also the Good and the Beautiful), all of the desires of the heart would be brought to rest. Whatever is desired, we have learned, is desired under the description of 'good.'[1] Finite goods fail to satisfy us completely because we have a natural desire, a natural longing for infinite good. Only God, seen 'face to face,' can satisfy our natural longing for infinite good (because He alone is the infinite and subsistent Good). True and perfect happiness only can be found in the 'face to face vision' of God.[2]
                          'But how shall we find the way? What method can we devise? How can one see the ‘inconceivable beauty’ which stays within the holy sanctuary and does not come out where the profane may see it?'[3]

                          Spoken another way, how are we to approach a God 'who…inhabiteth light inaccessible, whom no man hath seen, nor can see'?[4]
                          Plotinus was too much of an optimist. He thought that we could attain to a vision of God by intense intellectual effort, contemplation and an ascetic life-style. The later Neoplatonists were not nearly as optimistic: they turned to theurgy (literally “working the gods”; pagan “religious” ritual magic involving statues and the like).[5] St. Augustine, I think, accurately describes the sad plight in which the later Neoplatonists found themselves:

                          'Whom could I find to reconcile me to you [the Lord]? Should I have approached the angels? What kind of prayer? What kind of rites? Many who were striving to return to you and were not able of themselves have, I am told, tried this and have fallen into a longing for curious visions and deserved to be deceived. Being exalted, they sought you in their pride of learning, and they thrust themselves forward rather than beating their breasts. And so by a likeness of heart, they drew to themselves the princes of the air, their conspirators and companions in pride, by whom they were deceived by the power of magic. Thus they sought a mediator by whom they might be cleansed, but there was none.'[6]

                          Only God, then, seen 'face to face,'[7] can make us truly happy. The creature, however, cannot 'storm heaven,' so to speak, and see God by his own efforts.[8] That utterly lies outside of his own power. God is infinite, and in His subsistent unity and being (esse) ('being' here understood in the Thomistic sense), He utterly transcends all creatures. Only God can make us happy, and we are utterly incapable of 'seeing' Him by our own natural efforts. [Note, of course, that even if human nature were 'perfect,' so to speak, in its own order, it would still be utterly incapable of seeing the infinite God. How much worse is our plight in fact, given the fact that humanity has fallen through original sin, and given that its natural powers have been obscured, disordered and darkened because of the Fall of our first parents, and given that 'all have sinned,' [9] and so deserve, not the sight of God, but everlasting punishment?][10]
                          The metaphysician, of course, can be sure that it must at least be possible to see God face to face. His innate desire for happiness and his natural desire to know causes attest to that. He also knows, however, that the possibility of such a vision utterly escapes the natural resources of the rational or intellectual creature. He cannot, by his own power, ascend to God. He must echo, then, the cri de coeur (cry of the heart) of the Prophet Isaiah, crying 'out of the depths'[11] to God:

                          'That thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down…'[12]

                          [1] Common scholastic maxim; St. Thomas Aquinas repeats it.

                          [2] St. Thomas Aquinas, ST I-II, q. 3, a. 8.

                          [3] Plotinus, Enneads I.6.8.1-4.

                          [4] 1 Timothy 6:16.

                          [5] R.T. Wallis makes a note of this in Neoplatonism.

                          [6] St. Augustine, Confessions 10.42.67; I am quoting from the Barnes & Nobles edition, translated by Albert C. Outler).

                          [7] 1 Corinthains 13:12.

                          [8] St. Thomas Aquinas, ST I, q. 12, a. 4.

                          [9] Romans 3:23

                          [10] Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:41.

                          [11] Psalms 129:1 in the Vulgate and Douay Rheims; Psalms 130:1 in other editions.

                          [12] Isaiah 64:1.
                          You boast of a tradition because it is 2000 years old (if it can be proven that this is indeed the teaching of the apostles and actually coming from Jesus ).
                          Let's suppose for a moment that I can't prove that it's from Jesus. Nonetheless, it must be admitted that the tradition is 2000 years old and comes to us from an unbroken succession of bishops.

                          Yet the central message of Islam was the faith of the very first man who set foot on this earth.
                          According to Muslims. In point of fact, you can only really trace your religious beliefs back to your prophet, who lived in 7th century Arabia. There is literally no evidence that his views line up with the actual views of Moses, Noah, Adam, Jesus, or anyone else, except, of course, in the most general sense that Mohommed taught that there is one God and that we should worship that one God. But then, in that sense, even the Neoplatonists were Muslims, at this point, asserting that someone is a Muslim is pretty much trivial and not worth saying.

                          The Qur’an is the greatest miracle that the Prophet brought, which captivated even the most eloquent of people in the most eloquent of times, challenging them to produce a single chapter than would be comparable to it. Numerous other miracles were performed which are too many to list here. They include the splitting of the moon, various prophecies regarding the future, miracles related to the earth (water flowing from between his fingers, increasing the quantity of food and water, the palm tree yearning for him, stones greeting him), miracles related to animals, miracles related to his Companions and miracles related to the cure of disease, to name but a few.
                          1. Why don't you believe in the words of John Smith of the Mormon sect?

                          2. I'm unaware of these miracle accounts. Would you go into more detail about them and the sources from which you are getting your information about them?

                          Muslims across the globe recite the very Words of God as revealed to His Final Messenger . I find this to be a miracle occurring on a daily basis.
                          I could make the same claim about the Catholic mass. "Catholics across the globe, on a daily basis, witness a priest recite the very words of the Incarnate God on the night before he died." This is certainly evidence of something, but do you really want to claim that it's a miracle?

                          If you’ve reviewed the links above then I assume you already have some idea of what the evidences are. We can begin by considering two broad categories: the Prophethood of Muhammad , and the miracle of the Qur’an.

                          Regarding the first, whichever aspect of the life of the Prophet we study, we see evidence for the truth and credibility of his message. He was from a noble family and one who, from the beginning, demonstrated a virtuous character and was well-respected amongst his people. They called him ‘Al-Amin’ (the trustworthy) and considered his advice. This is a very important sign of the truth of his Prophethood as someone who has never lied to people would not lie regarding the Lord of the Worlds.
                          1. I'm inclined to deny that your prophet was virtuous, as does St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Contra Gentiles, book I, chapter 6, paragraph 4). On this point, for example, your prophet's alleged marriages have always been criticized by Christian opponents, and I feel no need to go into more detail, especially since I'm not nearly educated enough on the matter to make conclusive arguments about it. [Though, even at first glance, the Zaynab affair (I mean "affair" in the general, non pejorative/moral sense), even considered by itself, alone would be sufficient, even were I not a Christian, to preclude me from ever entertaining the legitimacy of your prophet.]

                          2. Even if he was perfectly virtuous (even by my more strenuous Christian standards; Islamic morality has always been considered lax by Christians), this is no proof that he was divinely inspired. Here, I want you to consider the matter from my Christian perspective, and I'll be more "to the point": what evidence can you give me that cannot be explained either by natural explanations, or else, by the intervention of Satan and the devils/fallen angels (consider, e.g., Corinthians 1:20)? Granted that Satan and the fallen angels are not causes of virtue and good works, even naturally good and wise men can be deceived by the fallen angels, who are pure intelligences of much greater power and intellectual prowess than mere human beings. So let us suppose that natural explanations cannot explain what you are ascribing to your prophet (of which I am not convinced). What about Satanic influence? (Note, I am not asserting this positively; I simply am asking what evidence you have to believe otherwise.)

                          "Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. [12] For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places" (Ephesians 6:11-12).

                          You make an accusation that he was deluded or insane. If examined, this claim does not stand whatsoever. The Prophet displayed no symptom of insanity at any time in his life. No friend, wife, or family member suspected or abandoned him due to insanity. To the contrary, they viewed him as an example to be followed and found from him a solution to their problems. The Prophet preached for a long time and brought a Law unknown in its completeness and sophistication to an ignorant society. If he was insane, it would have become obvious to those around him in the decades of his teaching. When in history did an insane man preach his message to worship One God for ten years, three of which he and his followers spent in exile, and eventually became the ruler of his lands? Which insane man has ever won the hearts and minds of people who met him and earned the respect of his adversaries? Delusion cannot explain the detailed legal codes and rulings that would be followed by millions over centuries, providing guidance in all areas of life including divorce, inheritance, finance, moral character and social justice. Delusion cannot explain 600 pages of revelation to an illiterate man that would be inimitable by the most talented around him, that would be memorised, recited and taught every day. Delusion does not explain the distinct difference that would come over him when he was receiving revelation, as witnessed by his Companions.
                          Again, why do you not believe in the words of John Smith of the Mormon sect? Your prophet doesn't hold the monopoly on "well respected and apparently virtuous people who claimed to be divinely inspired and produced written texts."

                          The second category of discussion is the Qur’an. For people who have no knowledge of the Arabic language and the science of Tajweed, it’s easy to make such remarks. Owning a book about the language is a far cry from actually knowing the language to appreciate it. Millions of Muslims are non-Arabs yet the impact the Qur’anic recitation has on them cannot be expressed in words.

                          We have a whole science in Islam dedicated to the recitation of the Qur’an. The pronunciation of letters, the degrees in tones, nasalization and the different qualities are so well documented in Arabic that the script comes together as a well-defined, well-oiled machine.

                          Remember that the Qur'an was not revealed to the Prophet as a book, nor was it dispersed or preached primarily in written form - it was through recitation that is was primarily received and dispersed. Even non-Muslims appreciate this point. The following is written by Michael Sells, a Professor of Religion who speaks about the Qur'an to non-Muslim readers:
                          As the students learn these Suras, they are not simply learning something by rote, but rather interiorizing the inner rhythms, sound patterns, and textual dynamics - taking it to heart in the deepest manner. Gradually the student moves on to other sections of the Qur'an. Yet the pattern set by this early, oral encounter with the text is maintained throughout life. The Qur'anic experience is not the experience of reading a written text from beginning to end. Rather, the themes, stories, hymns, and laws of the Qur'an are woven through the life stages of the individual, the key moments of the community, and the sensual world of the town and village. Life is punctuated by the recitation of the Qur'an by trained reciters who speak from the minarets of mosques, on the radio, and from cassettes played by bus drivers, taxi drivers, and individuals.

                          Thus, anyone attempting to answer the challenge must produce for us a recitation - not just a written composition. So let us see if these critics can produce for us a recitation that matches the quality of such:
                          I checked out the other threads on this point, and I think I more fully understand what you are saying. The Quran apparently has a special "style" of composition which is neither poetic nor prose, and yet still conveys meaning, and apparently, nobody has been able to mimic the Quran's style.

                          That's very interesting, but as an outsider, I feel compelled to ask: "So what?" That's not proof of divine intervention. Apparently, the Quran makes the claim, according to another thread, that even humans and djinn (which, for the record, I have no reason to believe even exist), working together, could not produce something similar. The evidence for this is that all attempts so far have been failed. But let us suppose that no human being can produce something similar. The fact that no human being has succeeded or can succeed (let us suppose) does not prove that a fallen angel couldn't do it. Why shouldn't I think that the Quran was produced by Satan?

                          If you tell me that the Quran says many true things, then I'll answer you that Satan quoted the Hebrew scriptures to Jesus when He fasted in the desert.

                          [Note, of course, that I do not say this to cause offense; any person of any religious faith should ask himself such questions: why should I believe this? Why can't this be explained by natural or human causes? Granted that it's supernatural, why shouldn't I think it's a demonic hoax? In the case of Jesus, I answer: I believe on the authority of the testimony of the Catholic bishops. Resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven cannot be explained by natural or human causes. Even if it could be a demonic hoax, I nonetheless see a need of reason for something like the Incarnation, passion and death of Jesus to happen. I need an intermediary (because God alone can satisfy the desires of the heart, and I can't attain Him on my own; for this, a participation in the inner life of God, able to be effected only by the love of charity, is necessary) and a savior (because of the infinite debt of Justice that I owe to God and my unending merit for punishment and condemnation because of my sins). I am in need of divine grace, both because of the natural limits of human nature, and also because of my woundedness, my fallenness, because of my sins. This is evident from natural reason. Consider, again, the fact that in the relatively early Church, Platonism was considered a kind of "halfway house," so to speak, to Christianity.]
                          Last edited by Traditio; July 27th, 2015, 01:54 AM.


                          • #14
                            One final point, Admin, which deals both with the headings "Islam" and "Apostolic Succession."

                            It is granted, I assume, that the OP is directed to a Christian audience. Alright. Well, here's a further hindrance from me entertaining the words of your prophet. I'm sure that you're aware that, in U.S. criminal law, before a case ever goes to the trial, a judge has to determine whether or not there's even a case to be made. Let us, therefore, step back for a moment and forget about the evidence which is to be presented at the "trial," so to speak, of your prophet.

                            Is there even a case to be made? What possible purpose could a new revelation, after Jesus, possibly serve, whether be to your prophet or to anyone else? In the Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 98, a. 6, corp., St. Thomas indicates the reason for the Old Law being given when it was given:

                            For man was proud of two things, viz. of knowledge and of power. He was proud of his knowledge, as though his natural reason could suffice him for salvation: and accordingly, in order that his pride might be overcome in this matter, man was left to the guidance of his reason without the help of a written law: and man was able to learn from experience that his reason was deficient, since about the time of Abraham man had fallen headlong into idolatry and the most shameful vices. Wherefore, after those times, it was necessary for a written law to be given as a remedy for human ignorance: because "by the Law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). But, after man had been instructed by the Law, his pride was convinced of his weakness, through his being unable to fulfil what he knew. Hence, as the Apostle concludes (Romans 8:3-4), "what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sent [Vulgate: 'sending'] His own Son . . . that the justification of the Law might be fulfilled in us."
                            Again, consider St. Thomas Aquinas' arguments (ST I-II, q. 98, a. 3, corp.) for the Old Law fittingly being given through the ministry of the angels:

                            The Law was given by God through the angels. And besides the general reason given by Dionysius (Coel. Hier. iv), viz. that "the gifts of God should be brought to men by means of the angels," there is a special reason why the Old Law should have been given through them. For it has been stated (1,2) that the Old Law was imperfect, and yet disposed man to that perfect salvation of the human race, which was to come through Christ. Now it is to be observed that wherever there is an order of powers or arts, he that holds the highest place, himself exercises the principal and perfect acts; while those things which dispose to the ultimate perfection are effected by him through his subordinates: thus the ship-builder himself rivets the planks together, but prepares the material by means of the workmen who assist him under his direction. Consequently it was fitting that the perfect law of the New Testament should be given by the incarnate God immediately; but that the Old Law should be given to men by the ministers of God, i.e. by the angels. It is thus that the Apostle at the beginning of his epistle to the Hebrews (1:2) proves the excellence of the New Law over the Old; because in the New Testament "God . . . hath spoken to us by His Son," whereas in the Old Testament "the word was spoken by angels" (Hebrews 2:2).
                            In brief summation, consider the words of St. John's gospel: "For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:12).

                            The Jewish revelation met a need: to give us a knowledge of sin and to convict us of our need for a savior. Being proud of our natural knowledge and our natural capacity for virtue, human beings were permitted to rely on their own natural powers...and fail. When they recognized their need for divine help, God gave them the Law through Moses, that they might know sin. Nonetheless, they were still deluded in their own natural capacity for virtue and right living. They thought that they, by their own power, could fulfill the Law.

                            So God gave them the Law. They were permitted to try to uphold the Law. And they failed.

                            The grace to fulfill the Law (and the aim of divine law, which is a right ordering to God), which can be effected only by charity/divine love, comes to us through Jesus, the Incarnate Divine Word.

                            So believed Christians for over 600 years before your prophet ever even saw the light of day, and so preached Catholic bishops throughout the world, at Jesus' commission to "spread the gospel to all nations."

                            If you tell me that your prophet was needed to preach to a barbarous and faithless people, then I'll answer you that the Church already has commission to preach to all nations.

                            So before we even consider the evidence, why should I even entertain the possibility that your prophet might have spoken truly? What possible purpose could further revelation serve, given the coming of Jesus Christ? I believe that God has revealed Himself in the person of the Incarnate Word, who is the One High Priest, the One Mediator, the One Sacrifice for sins. What possible need could we have of further public revelation, when we have the Incarnate Word, in whom God the Father has uttered all that He has to say (as the Catholic Catechism puts it), who has promised to be with the Church "for all ages, even until the end of time"?[Note, for your prophet to tell me otherwise, I have to sit down and listen to him in the first place; on our hypothesis, I'm not even there yet. Your prophet presupposes that Jesus has come, in some fashion or other, and that the gospels were once books of uninterpolated revelation; he claims, I assume, that interpolations came later. Yet, when I already have the traditions handed down to me by the Church, what cause have I to listen to your prophet, who wasn't even around until about 600-700 years later? At this point, your claims about your prophet's manner of living and the literary qualities of the Quran simply ring hollow. He assumes that I am a Christian, before he even opens his mouth to speak, and then wishes to persuade me that the beliefs, which I already hold, are wrong. Then where are his proofs? If he brings forth misinterpretations of Christian doctrine and faulty arguments, then I can only treat him with the same contempt and disregard (no offense intended) as I would a Manichaeus, a Nestorius, a Sabellius or an Arius. Will he say that he has for his support the words of an angel? Then I will answer him with the words of St. Paul: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" (Galatians 1:8). And in explanation, I'll go on: "And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14).] And granted that I listen to your prophet, why on earth should I think that your prophet has the last word? Why shouldn't I look for some further revelation elsewhere? You assert that Christianity was obsolete less than 700 years into the game, but your prophet lived roughly 1300-1400 years ago.
                            Last edited by Traditio; July 27th, 2015, 01:20 AM.


                            • #15
                              Addendum: the founder of Mormonism apparently is called "Joseph Smith," not John Smith. Mea culpa.