Christianity’s Doctrinal Issues in Muhammad’s Time (38)
NOTE: This is a continuation of the previous topic.
Students of Church history know that one strong influence in western Europe in the last decade of the sixth century and the first decade of the seventh century (A.D. 590 – 604 A.D.) was Pope Gregory, bishop of Rome. At this time, Muhammad having been born in A.D. 570 was already conducting caravan trade trips from Mecca to Damascus. During this period Christianity was very strong in the East, but the Eastern Empire whose center was in Constantinople was becoming weaker militarily speaking. The rivalry between Rome and Constantinople as influencers of congregations continued on. There were doctrinal teachings that caused strong feelings between Rome and Constantinople like the belief that Mary is the “mother of God”, use of images in chapels and cathedrals, intercessions of saints, what sacraments are there.
Patriarch John the Faster of Constantinople declared himself as Shepherd of the Universal Church in the year 604 A.D. which was vehemently opposed by the Roman Bishop. In the year 606 A.D., the new Roman Pope, Boniface III declared himself the head of the Universal Church.
7. Apollinarianism – This is the idea taught by Apollinarius, bishop of Laodicea, a contemporary and friend of Athanasius. Apollinarius believed that the Word became flesh (John 1:14), but Jesus was not completely human. To him, it was illogical that Jesus Christ was completely God and completely human in a unity of one person. Yes, Jesus became flesh, but he didn’t possess the ordinary human mind, soul, reason that animate humanity, he claimed. That which animated Jesus’ humanity is the Divine Logos, he said.
8. Nestorianism – This is the idea or argument which was taught by Nestorius who became bishop of Constantinople in 428 A.D. He objected to the popular idiom “theotokos” which literally meant “God-bearer” or “Mother of Him who is God” in reference to the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus. He said that God could not be born.
9. Islam’s View – Jesus of Nazareth is a natural-born son of human parents (Joseph and Mary). He is the Messiah, a prophet, and will be the Judge on the last day but he is not the Son of God. Muhammad, to Muslims, is a greater prophet than Jesus the Christ.
Maryam’s (Mary, mother of Jesus) story about Angel Gabriel announcing her conceiving and giving birth to Jesus is found in the Qur’an, Surah 19, verses 16-35. A portion of this narrative says, “v. 17. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her our Ruh (angel Gabriel) and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. v. 18. She said: ‘Verily! I seek refuge with the Most beneficent (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.’ v. 19. (The angel) said: ‘I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce to you the gift of a righteous son.’ . . . v.22. So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place (i.e. Bethlehem valley about 4-6 miles from Jerusalem).”
There is no mention of Joseph in the Qur’an story, but there is Angel Gabriel. It reads in verse 35: “It befits not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son (this refers to the slander of Christians against Allah, by saying that Jesus is the son of Allah), Glorified (and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, ‘Be!’—and it is.” This passage says that Jesus should not be called the son of Allah (God). However, the story in Surah 19, it suggests that Jesus was born of Virgin Mary because Mary confessed that no man had touched her.
However, the record of the Gospel of Luke says the following, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David x x x x And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1: 31 and 35).
The Qur’an rejects the idea that Jesus Christ be called the Son of God. On the other hand, the Christian scripture says, Jesus Christ is the Son of the Highest, the Son of God.
10. Eutychianism – This is the idea or explanation which was taught by a group in the Eastern side of the Roman Empire in the early centuries of Christianity. Eutyches was not the originator but later he became the symbol of the idea which rejected that Jesus Christ had two natures. Eutyches believed that Jesus Christ was completely human and completely God, but the fusion of the two formed a third nature which was not fully identified or explained what that is. In short, he said, there was a third nature in the personality of Christ. # (More to follow.)