Rev Dr Ian Paul is a Christian minister and theologian in the UK. We had a little exchange earlier today..
I didn’t receive any further reply. My guess is that no one in China before the end of the first century had heard of Jesus, not to mention the rest of the world.
In Islam we believe that God’s grace extended to all the peoples of the earth throughout humanity’s long history (maybe over 200,000 years?). It is the original global faith.
Categories: Christianity, Islam
The original global faith is probably some sort of Shamanism
Nope. It was belief in the Creator.
But that is itself a belief. The earliest attested “religions” in the ancient levant are not the belief in a single creator let alone a “universal” religion. This belief is not supported by the historical record. In the ancient levant there is no a word for “religion”. This includes, the entire Hebrew Bible.
@ Marc C.
What does the Levant have to do with the entire world?
China is a good example of what Paul is talking about:
1. Originally worshipped Shangdi (i.e. monotheism)
2. Then added ancestor worship
3. Then adopted Confusion philosophy
4. Then adopted communism and almost destroyed the few bits we have of the above
Citing the “historical record” is a bad argument as lack of evidence does not mean something exists. If the Chinese cultural revolution had happened in full we would have lost the above development. Another society that is traditionally considered paganistic is the Greeks but they had a man named Xenophanes preaching about monotheism to them:
Common themes in all these cultures is they contain some distant deity they can’t talk to so they create more personal ones (like the Arabs during Muhammad’s(saw) time). Become Muslims.
@ Marc C
There is not a “lack of evidence” I said when we only have about 5,000 years worth of history and a variety of factors can happen in a nation history (as we’ll see with Shangdi)
First I’ll quote Xenophanes from the link as it’s pretty explicit:
“He is considered one of the most important of the so-called Pre-Socratic philosophers for his development and synthesis of the earlier work of Anaximander and Anaximenes (who followed Thales) but, chiefly, for his arguments concerning the gods. The prevailing belief of the time was that there were many gods who looked and behaved very much like mortals. Xenophanes claimed that there was only one God, an eternal being, who shared no attributes with human beings.”
“Xenophanes writes that this God “sees all over, thinks all over, hears all over. He remains always in the same place, without moving; nor is it fitting that he should come and go, first to one place then to another. But without toil he sets all things in motion by the thought of his mind.” (Robinson, 53)
“Xenophanes traveled widely, reciting his poetry and, in so doing, spread his beliefs. Among these was his recognition of the relativity and limitation of human understanding. He writes, “The gods have not revealed all things from the beginning to mortals but, by seeking, men find out, in time, what is better.” (Robinson, 56) It is only by searching for the truth that one will find that truth. According to Xenophanes, one should not simply accept the beliefs of one’s community as `truth’ without questioning the validity of the concepts held.
So I already have the knockout punch that a man came to a bunch of pagans preaching One God (i.e. Islam) so the evidence has been established and it doesn’t get much more explicit than that.
Moving onto Shangdi, the issue is we don’t have a lot on early Shangdi and the name alters meaning depending on time, context and the influence of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism but we still have enough to work with classical poetry (which I’ll quote from in a bit) One point about this subject is God says in the Quran most people worshipped things alongside Him even after He sent them prophets:
They found their ancestors on the wrong path, so they quickly followed in their footsteps. Most people in the past went astray, even though I sent them warners. (Q. 37:69-72)
So off rip I am conceding monotheism was not the most popular in mankind’s overall history. Shangdi went through various periods and the little we have is ambiguous but we will see the standard development is like what the Quran says:
“The Shang kings also worshiped a more powerful god, known as Shangdi (High God, or God Above). Owing to the absence of plural forms in Chinese, it is not certain that there was only one god known as Shangdi—the phrase could also mean, collectively, “high gods.” But most authorities agree that it was a single deity. Shangdi might also have been regarded in some sense as an ultimate human ancestor; however, the deity was not included in the regular liturgical round of ancestral sacrifices and oracular consultations.
There is no mythic account of Shangdi’s origins, nor does he appear in the mythic accounts of the founding personages (whether gods, culture heroes, or sage-emperors) of Chinese high antiquity, such as Yao, Shun, and Yu the Great…”
Pausing for a sec, Shangdi is clearly monotheistic when we jump to classical Chinese poetry and philosophy:
“How vast is Shangdi ruler of men below!” (pg. 64)
“Moreover, I know Heaven loves men dearly not without reason. Heaven ordered the sun, the moon, and the stars to enlighten and guide them. Heaven ordained the four seasons, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer, to regulate them. Heaven sent down snow, frost, rain, and dew to grow the five grains and flax and silk that so the people could use and enjoy them. Heaven established the hills and rivers, ravines and valleys, and arranged many things to minister to man’s good or bring him evil. He appointed the dukes and lords to reward the virtuous and punish the wicked, and to gather metal and wood, birds and beasts, and to engage in cultivating the five grains and flax and silk to provide for the people’s food and clothing. This has been so from antiquity to the present.” (Works of Mozi)
Now we will come to the common theme of people adding intercessors who they later turn into gods (a good example of our times is Jesus(as) and the Christians):
“Unlike the lesser di, who had authority over such human-centered affairs as the king’s health and his fortunes in marriage, warfare, and the hunt, Shangdi had jurisdiction in larger-scale natural and cosmic matters. According to surviving oracle-bone inscriptions, Shangdi had the power to prevent, or put an end to, plagues, drought, floods, violent storms, and other such phenomena. Shangdi apparently was never consulted directly by means of scapulimancy, and only rarely were prayers offered to him directly. Rather, when necessary the lesser gods were consulted to learn his will; they could also be asked to intercede with him on behalf of the king and his people.
While the surviving evidence does not permit a very exact description of Shang theology, it seems probable that Shangdi was thought of as a cosmic god, dwelling in or above the sky at the apex of the rotating heavens. Indeed, Shangdi might have been a deified embodiment of the pole star itself. It is certain that a few centuries after the fall of the Shang dynasty gods were thought of as being, in part, personifications of stars, planets, and astral configurations.”
The worship of celestial bodies along with God is commonly criticized in the Quran so again this is standard.
“The term Shangdi, however, survived the fall of the Shang dynasty and continued to appear in religious and cosmological texts for centuries thereafter. In such texts it is not so clear that the reference is always to a unitary high god; in some contexts it seems preferable to construe the term as “high gods.” In some texts of the Warring States period (481–221 bce) a near-synonym, taidi (“great god”), is substituted for the term Shangdi. Regardless of which term is used, it is clear that the reference is to a celestial god (or gods) dwelling at or around the celestial pole.
Meanwhile, the old sense of Shangdi was preserved through the officially sponsored study of classical texts by the Confucian bureaucratic elite. Every examination candidate knew by heart such stock phrases from the classics as “[King Wen] brilliantly served Shangdi and secured abundant blessings.” With the development of the state cult of Confucianism and the imperial worship of and sacrifice to Heaven (Tian), Shangdi came to be regarded as a virtual synonym, perhaps somewhat more concretely conceived, of Heaven. ”
It seems from the encyclopedia article that Shangdi was not the only God but there were many deities and Shangdi might not even be one God. Even the name seems to be made up of the dynastic name Shang (high?) and di for gods. But please forgive me if I am wrong my Chinese, well… could be better. Shangdi is as far as I understand the most supreme god, not the only god. I don’t think this is very strong evidence for an original, universal faith whose most important teaching is that there is only one God.
The concept of Tian according to EB is not monotheistic.
“Tian, (Chinese: “heaven” or “sky”) Wade-Giles romanization t’ien, in indigenous Chinese religion, the supreme power reigning over lesser gods and human beings. The term tian may refer to a deity, to impersonal nature, or to both”. https://www.britannica.com/topic/tian
I don’t know if Mozi himself thought there was only one God. Is that the case and if so could you please provide the reference?
Xenophanes came to believe in monotheism from logical and philosophical hermeneutic. In other words, it was a reaction to the prevailing opinions, not a religion whose truth was revealed to him. I think his arguments can be countered from a philosophical point of view. Admittedly, monotheists will probably not accept such arguments, so I am going to refrain from entering this discussion.
As far as I am aware the earliest clear evidence of the idea of exclusively one “abstract” God for lack of a better term is from the first millennium b.c.e.
No historical evidence for an original universal Islam, rather to the contrary.
Absence of evidence is not, as the saying goes, evidence of absence. On the other hand, if we don’t have evidence is it not then simply a belief?
I am not so knowledgeable about Chinese religion and an admittedly superficial Google search of Shangdi and on the earliest oracle bone inscriptions did not point me to any text or evidence that Shangdi was at any time seen as the only God. The contrary seems to be the case from this quote:
“All daily activities of the king were observed by superhuman beings, either natural deities and ghosts and spirits or by the king’s ancestors. All these had to be asked if a planned activity would be lucky or if bad luck would befell the kings and his entourage. Virtually the whole life of a Shang king was thus guided by prophecies derived from an oracle made previously”.
Could you please provide references to specific texts or historical evidence that support the view you espouse of Shangdi?
@ Marc C
Regarding Xenophanes you basically just did:
Marc: “We just have no evidence of monotheism blah, blah, blah”
Me: “Well there’s this one guy going around telling people to worship God alone in Greece and that it’s All Powerfil…”
Marc: “Oh well he just thought of that one day”
Lol, it doesn’t matter the point is monotheism was alive and kicking in a traditionally pagan side of the world. Evidence has been established you’re simply moving the goal post to want something before 1,000 BCE (which if memory serves me is pre- bronze age and we don’t even know a lot of normal stuff outside of this topic)
As for Shangdi, even if I accept this (and you and I both know you’re reaching as it clearly stated the majority position is it is one deity) that is not the point. There is a pattern in various cultures across the world that there is a transcendent deity that they don’t make as an idol but because they feel they can’t talk to it directly they make various little gods as their intercessors to get closer to it. Whether its Shangdi, El, Aten, Waaq, Enlil, Haneullim, Tengri, Ahura Mazda, Hayyi Rabbi, Brahman, Umvelinqangi, Imana, etc. its the same pattern.
Again simply look at Christians who we say had a Messenger and revelation. They went from a man preaching of the One God to turning him into it (one can also extend this to the angels) And this was only in a short time of 100 years so imagine what will happen when we talk about 3,000+ years in a society.
The pagan Arabs same thing:
1. Worshipped the God of Abraham(as) that they learned of through Ishmael(as)
2. Centuries later a famous chief brought in some foreign idols that they could carry around for personal use (and sell)
3. Then they took the concept of angels and turned them into God’s daughters
4. Then they called on various “spirits, for protection and assistance
5. Then they had God as some remote entity that they occasionally called on in times of distress.
Remember none of these people will be 100% Islamic otherwise there would be no need in sending Muhammad(saw) in the first place to revive the religion. The point is to bring mankind back to worshipping that One supreme entity and rejecting the false ones they’ve made up.
1. Whatever their true nature Shangdi and Tian, as far as I understand from EB, are part of a polytheistic system. So, I don’t think this is very good evidence for an original faith whose most important message is only one God. I have not seen any evidence from the earliest sources that they existed originally or independently of other deities.
2. I don’t think I moved the goalposts, as I talked about the earliest attested “religions” of the levant from the beginning. The reason I mentioned the levant in particular is that I am somewhat familiar with the history of this region. Even if we accept Xenophanes as espousing the view that there was only one God (an issue that is debated, but let’s not go there now) this goes back only to about the middle of the first millenium b.c.e.
3. We have many texts and other historical evidence preceding the levant iron-age. We have for example Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Ugaritic and archaeological sources These early sources do not really reflect an original belief in only one God. For example, El was the supreme deity of the Ugaritic pantheon, but there were numerous other gods. One might mention Akhenaten who in the fourteenth century b.c.e. did consider only one God. But this was the sun god Aten. Akhenaten was the divine son of Aten and “The Egyptian people were to worship Akhenaten, and only Akhenaten and Nefertiti could worship Aten directly”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atenism.
@ Marc C
1. Allow me to beat my point home again
People take a transcendent deity and add partners to it. You keep thinking you’re going to find people saying exporting Islamic beliefs left, right and center. If that happened there would be no logical need to send Muhammad(saw). You keep talking about the Levant and then ignoring the most prominent of our time from the area which is Christianity. Since you know so much of the area, did Christians take a transcendent deity and turn a man into its partner just need a yes or no?
2. You have engaged in a moving the goal post fallacy in regards to Xenophanes. Your argument was there is no early attestation of monotheism. Even after being proven wrong and shown a man preaching monotheism to a bunch of pagans you still denied it because that was your intent too no matter what (like how you just want to be argumentative and take the minority opinion in regards to Shangdi)
3. Checked the reference from Wikipedia and it doesn’t say that, it does say though:
“It is worth remembering the advanced religious thinking that took place when Aten was paramount. Ideas about an overall creator-god were already in existence before Akhenaten’s reign as is evident on
the stelae of the brother architects Suti and Hor in the British Museum where the sungod is adulated as a supreme deity dwelling in different gods such as Amun, Ra or Horus. But it is under Akhenaten that those ideas are most elaborately conceptualised.”
Meaning they were playing with the concept of an all-powerful creator before Akhenaten. So as I said transcendent deity that people add partners too. Also, the cult of Pharaoh existed even in what is considered standard gods among the Egyptians so that’s nothing new religious wise in regards to them. Furthermore, jumping to the actual hymn of Aten, it says quite explicitly in verse 8:
“…sole God, without another besides you, you created the world as you wished, when you were by yourself…”
What the anonymous editor of Wikipedia that anybody can edit must have misunderstood is verse 12:
“You are my desire, there is no other who knows you except your son for you have apprised him of designs and power…”
Even then this helps my overall point. Akenaton was then stripped from Egyptian record after his death:
“Horemheb destroyed Akhenaten’s city of Akhetaten and moved the capital of Egypt from Thebes to Memphis in order to distance himself from anything that had to do with the rulers of the Amarna Period (the period during which the capital of Egypt was at Akhetaten, known today as `Amarna’, but including Akhenaten’s successors prior to Horemheb). The monuments, temples, and stele that had been erected by his immediate predecessors were torn down and used as fill in constructing new buildings. Just as Akhenaten had ordained that all signs of the old gods should be erased from the landscape of Egypt, Horemheb proclaimed that all reference to the religion of Aten be obliterated. So successful was he in this goal that later Egyptians believed he was the successor of Amenhotep III and had simply continued that king’s policies. Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and Ay were forgotten by history so completely that it was not until they surfaced in excavations in the late 19th and mid-20th centuries that it was known they had ever existed.”
Meaning this whole thing was swept under the rug, so again your “no historical evidence blah, blah, blah” argument makes no sense as we would not have known about this except by a fluke. So we have absolutely no idea about what we don’t know living thousands of years later as you demand evidence (despite denying it when shown).
1. I was not talking about Christianity, because as I said I believe the idea of monotheism is attested from the first century BCE, i.e. before Christianity. This holds true for Xenophenes a mid first milenium BCE century writer. The idea of this universal religion is not attested in the earliest sources (but cf. Akhenatan).
2. What do you mean it dosen’t say that: “The Egyptian people were to worship Akhenaten, and only Akhenaten and Nefertiti could worship Aten directly”? It is the last sentence in the paragraph:” “Atenist revolution” with a reference to a specific work. In addition, it was “normal” Egyptian practice to view Pharaoh as divine.
3. Since it seems you agree that there were partners and/or there was a “supreme deity dwelling in different gods such as Amun, Ra or Horu” (pre Akhenatan) it is difficult to see in these religions something that supports the contention that there is evidence for an original religion with a message of only one God as the most important idea.
@ Marc C.
1, I understand you’re not talking about Christianity I’m using it as an example (as it’s not monotheistic despite originally being so) The point is even with something that explicitly says to believe in One God they changed it and justified it to believe in three.
2. I thought it was obvious the reference doesn’t say what Wikipedia the encyclopedia that anybody can edit says. This is how you read a reference:
“The Egyptian people were to worship Akhenaten, and only Akhenaten and Nefertiti could worship Aten directly.”
That little  isn’t there for decoration. Scroll your mouse over it and it says the reference for this claim is “Hart, George (2005). The Routledge dictionary of Egyptian gods and goddesses (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 39.”
Here’s the book:
Please show me where on pg 39 it says that as it does not. Also as a note, I’m the one who told you it was normal in Egyptian practice for the Pharaoh to be the intermediary:
“Also, the cult of Pharaoh existed even in what is considered standard gods among the Egyptians so that’s nothing new religious wise in regards to them.”
3. Oh, you know only the fact that I keep saying the same thing over and over, and quote various cultures with the concept. A transcendent deity that people create intermediaries in between. Anything we have named thus far has this concept. And then you just denied explicit stuff like Xenophanes which is what we call “a home run” in debate which is why you keep avoiding it like the plague.
@ Marc C.
Oh and I forgot to add in regards to point 2 this statement is also incorrect. One can verify it by:
A. Simply reading the hymn in question
B. Reading commentary that states it was getting more and more transcendent;
@ MArc C.
Scratch point about it not being there quote starts pg. 38 but this is just his guess and he provides no evidence:
“The colossal statues of Akhenaten in the temple PROBABLY received offerings from priests and courtiers to urge Aten the pharaoh to pass on their prayers to Aten since direct access to the god was prohibited to all except for him and Nefertiti…”
I.e I don’t know and am talking for the sake of talking.
I am not really very knowledgeable about egyptology. It seems to me that while Akhenaten may be described as monotheism, though there is some debate if this is the best term and if it is precisely how to understand it. A particular problem here in this context as I see it is that many scholars see Akhenaten as himself being a divine god-king and with his wife were the sole intemediaries between Aten and the people. For example of S. Najovits, “The trunk of the tree…” pp. 85-86. And D. p. Silberman in “Religion in Ancient Egypt” pp. 85-86, both in Google books. I am not sure this really sits well with the Muslim conception that Paul, whom I greatly respect, expressed.
Sorry, correct page numbers for S. Najovits are pp. 136-137
Hmm, looking a bit more closely I am not clear exactly if Najovits is an authority on this matter. His discussion seem balanced, but I get a littlenuncomfortable about this. So please disregard this reference. My bad, very sorry and embareasses by this.
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
DR Periman , a christian, does not think that yhwh was born of a woman :
1. Let’s be blunt. Christmas has nothing to do with God coming to earth as a helpless babe to save humanity from sin, etc. That is another matter, it’s not what’s being said, it’s not the burden of the stories in Matthew and Luke. These narrate the birth of a king who will deliver first century Israel from a national crisis. When the angel says to Joseph that Mary’s son will “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), he means that Jesus will save Israel from the concrete social-political-religious transgressions that have brought the nation to the brink of catastrophe.
2. The key question to ask about the virgin conception of Jesus is not “Did it happen?” but “What did it mean?” Neither Matthew nor Luke understood it as the metaphysical process by which God became man. Rather it makes Jesus’ birth an outstanding prophetic “sign” of things to come.
3. A sign of what? It’s in the name “Immanuel”. During the Syro-Ephraimite war in the 8th century BC, Isaiah told a nervous king Ahaz that a boy would be born to a young woman in the royal court who would be given the name Immanuel, which means “God with us”. The mere existence of this significantly named child would be a “sign” to Ahaz that the alliance between Rezin and Pekah would fail and that YHWH would preserve Jerusalem from the Assyrians (Is. 7:10-17; 8:5-10). The birth of the boy, therefore, was a sign that God is with his people at a time of great political crisis. Same for the boy Jesus, who is not given the name Immanuel but a name meaning “YHWH is salvation” (Matt. 1:21).
4. Luke puts a different prophetic spin on the miraculous conception of Jesus. The child being born will be called not Immanuel or even Jesus but “holy, Son of God”. By this he means not that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity or God incarnate, true though that may in some sense be, but that he is the Davidic king who will bring peace to a people under Roman occupation and will rule over the house of Jacob for ever (Lk. 1:32-33, 35; 2:1, 11, 14).
Given the poor reputation of the church and of the God of the church in the West today, I feel that we are in need of another such act of wonder-engendering redemption.
5. I wonder if Luke is not also pointing his readers to Isaiah’s description of a restored Jerusalem when he says that the Spirit will come upon and overshadow (episkiasei) Mary, and that the child will be called “holy”: on that day, what is left behind in Jerusalem “will be called holy, all who have been recorded for life”, because the Lord will wash away the filth of his people; then he will come, and as a cloud will “overshadow” (skiasei) the city (Is. 4:2-6 LXX).
6. Mary expects God to keep his promise to Abraham and help Israel at this time of grave crisis by scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful from their thrones, raising up the wretched and low-born, filling the hungry with good things, and sending the rich away empty-handed (Lk. 1:51-55). Simeon says that “this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed…” (Lk. 2:34). This was inflammatory, revolutionary talk.
7. People like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, need salvation not on account of their own sins but because of the sins of the nation. These are righteous folk, but they are suffering the consequences of the wilful disobedience of a people that is on a broad road leading to destruction.
8. For the priest Zechariah the redemption of Israel simply means that he can go about the business of serving God in the temple without fearing for his life (Lk. 1:68-75). But he knows that redemption will begin with a devastating judgment against a corrupt priesthood (Lk. 1:76; cf. Mal. 3:1). The prophetess Anna expects no less and no more than the “redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk. 2:38).
9. Whereas the story of the coming of the magi is told against Herod, the angelic announcement to the shepherds has a ring of anti-imperial propaganda to it (Lk. 2:8-14). The Priene calendar inscription, celebrating the birth of the god Augustus, is now quite well known:
Whereas Providence, which has regulated our whole existence… has brought our life to the climax of perfection in giving to us Augustus, whom it filled with strength for the welfare of men, and who being sent to us and our descendants as Saviour, has put an end to war and has set all things in order; and having become [god] manifest, Caesar has fulfilled all the hopes of earlier times… in surpassing all the benefactors who preceded him…, and whereas, finally, the birthday of the god [Augustus] has been for the whole world the beginning of good news (euangeliōn) concerning him….
10. The infant Jesus is hailed as the Davidic king who will at the very least overthrow an unrighteous régime, deliver his people from oppression, bring peace and justice to Israel, and restore the international reputation of the nation—so that kings and magi and peoples would come to pay tribute. This was the good news.
11. Joseph and Mary presumably stay with family in Bethlehem. The guest room (katalumati) being already occupied or too small, Jesus is born in the animal stalls beneath the main living area and is laid in the feeding trough. This will be a sign to the shepherds (Lk. 2:12). Why? Perhaps because Isaiah says that “the donkey knows its master’s manger”, but Israel has not known the Lord (Is. 1:3 LXX); or because Jeremiah says that when Jerusalem is restored, there “shall again be in this place that is waste and in all its cities, lodgings (katalumata) of shepherds resting sheep” (Jer. 40:12 LXX). Again, a revolutionary message.
12. Simeon says that he has seen the salvation that YHWH has prepared “in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Lk. 2:31–32). What he means is that the coming judgment and restoration of Israel will reveal the power and character of Israel’s God to the nations and that this will bring glory and renown to Israel. This is clear not least from the allusion to Isaiah 52:10: “The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” When God redeems his people from captivity in Babylon and brings them back to the land, the nations will see and wonder at this extraordinary act of salvation.
Given the poor reputation of the church and of the God of the church in the West today, I feel that we are in need of another such act of wonder-engendering redemption.
Hi Ken i’d like to ask a question in relation to the hypostatic union if that’s all right with you.
Lets say i existed in the same time as the “godman” and wanted to talk to him. then when i meet him before he has a chance to speak, i specifically say i want to only talk to his human nature not his divine nature. Have i separated the natures and blasphemed against the hypostatic union, yes or no?
I understand why, from an Islamic viewpoint, that you would ask that question the way in which you did, because while Jesus was on earth, although He was the “God-man” always, He voluntarily laid aside the privilege of using all His divine attributes for a season, (like when He said, “of that day and hour, only the Father knows” – Matthew 24:36 ), but once Jesus rose from the dead and was glorified and ascended into heaven, He knows that and has no limitations as to power and knowledge. He is one Person with 2 natures, so it is impossible to speak to Him and say, I only want to talk to his human nature. You as a human cannot dictate your terms to Him. He knows anyway before you speak what your mind and heart are thinking.
Jesus knows the secret thoughts of the human heart:
7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, *said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
see also John 2:23-25
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
You cannot separate the Divine nature from the human nature in the one Person of Jesus Al Masih. In His earthly life for 33 some odd years, there is a distinguishing of the natures, temporarily, such as in Matthew 24:36, but no complete separation.
He was the “God-man” always; meaning from His conception in the womb of Mary; not before. Before that, He was the eternal Word (John 1:1-5), the eternal Son (John 17:5), only Deity. Now He is fully God and fully man, although a glorified man with a glorified, resurrected body.
Summary of heresies about Christ: “Christological Heresies”
Hello Ken some questions.
1. while we both agree in principle that the divine nature of God doesn’t change, often Christians like yourself talk about the divine nature as if it has undergone a change. such as
” because while Jesus was on earth, although He was the “God-man” always, He voluntarily laid aside the privilege of using all His divine attributes for a season”
” but once Jesus rose from the dead and was glorified and ascended into heaven, He knows that and has no limitations as to power and knowledge.”
while you would argue that the divine nature has not changed on account of the human nature in principle, in actual theology clearly the divine nature has been lessened or “veiled/ set aside” to accommodate the incarnation. And then changed again when it got its full powers back.
2. you keep suggesting that the two natures were not truly unified on earth but only after the resurrection. Is this only your interpretation or do you have some creedal backing?
3. i thank you for you’re long and informative replies but i specifically wanted to know if the paradigm i suggested constitutes as a blasphemy via separating the two natures of christ. (i.e regardless if its possible or not, by attempting to speak to only one nature of the hypostatic union have i, theologically speaking, tried to separate the natures?) yes or no?
“He was the “God-man” always; meaning from His conception in the womb of Mary; not before. ”
in other words, you worship a composite being .
“Before that, He was the eternal Word (John 1:1-5), the eternal Son (John 17:5), only Deity. ”
in other words your composite being once did not exist as a composite being.
in other words, god the son gained properties which god the son lacked before
“Now He is fully God and fully man,”
A composite being which you worship.
“although a glorified man with a glorified, resurrecteothe wdy.”
in other words, the composite being u worship goes.through transitions
made up of several parts or elements.
“this soup is one of those composite dishes which you gradually build up”
breaking up the composition would be breaking up the composite being which would be blasphemy. Ken temple has no choice but to worship the entire composition.
“And then changed again when it got its full powers back.”
the composite being is one consciousness which goes through transition. “god the son” is experiencing all the transitions in his “divine person” ken temple should admit that he is a polytheist.
breaking up the composite being is DIRECTLY breaking up its one consciousness. no division is allowed.
“In Islam we believe that God’s grace extended to all the peoples of the earth throughout humanity’s long history (maybe over 200,000 years?). It is the original global faith.”
Which is why it is a belief. There is no empirical evidence to support it. The only reason you believe it is because the Koran tells you to.
Why should anyone else believe that?
At least you could look at it positively and note that most of the peoples of the earth have been spared Allah’s wrath and the destructive punishments of his prophets for most of the earth’s history.
God has said it.
That’s good enough for me.
Enjoy your atheism..
Now that it’s established that there is no empirical evidence to support an “original faith” is the 200000 year figure generally accepted by Muslims?
Must have missed where that was established if you could point that out to me that would be fantastic. Next, are you referring to Homo Sapiens being around 200,000 years? If yes, then there’s no problem.
The topic was exhausted and to me not one convincing example of an “original global faith” from before the first millennium was brought forward. Paul too said it was a belief. As far as I am concerned that’s how it stands and now established.
Paul gave a figure of 200,000. If my memory serves me correctly this figure has been pushed back further some 100,000 by scientists My question is if this is generally accepted or wether it is a matter of debate among Muslims.
No timeline is given in Islamic sources so it going back to 100,000 years is no big deal. Also, plenty of proof was brought.
2. Even in pagan cultures, a transcendent deity is then given various partners. This is exactly what the pagan Arabs believed. Again here is the Zulu tribe:
1. Transcendent deity
2. Then worshiped the first man that all nations sprung (Adam)
3. Then worshiped the “spirits’ (Jinn) and turned them into various gods
Again as everyone dances around the point, Christianity gives a first-hand view of this phenomenon in a relatively recent time frame.
1. Transcendent deity
2. Then worshipped a man who he sent (Jesus)
Most religions (barring some exceptions) follow this same basic premise. Again none of these people are going to have completely Islamic beliefs (as again there would be no point in sending Muhammad(saw) to revive it) But the concept exists.
There is evolution from animism, polytheism to monotheism, not the other way round.
Once again as everyone dances around, Christianity.
The Zulu are polythests, this is not very convincing to me.
I know its not convincing because you don’t read and ignore what’s being said.
Where did God say that?
Only Judaism and Christianity can claim true Monotheism, since Islam did not even exist until around 610 – 632 AD.
The Jews were told to tell of His glory among all nations, and be a light to all nations, way way before Islam.
Also as a note that theory is outdated.
Late antique myths legends and fairytales are outdated.
Agreed, kafir which is why you should become a Muslim before death takes you.
This is so pathetic and fundamentalist Muslims in general have an irrelevant agenda and no answers for the real issues of the 21st century.
Yet you’re such a lame you had to sneak back on the blog and can’t articulate a point to save you life.
what else can u expect from these losers?
Not a dang thing. I was done talking to this dude after I creamed him regarding Islamic finances and he couldn’t say nothing. Literally only purpose of some people is to be fuel.
Looks like Muslims are losers gettting a beating on every level.
I bet you use Islamic financing everyday like the rest of us. Islamic credit cards, Islamic infrastructure all around for the benefit of everyone. You losers are pathetic.
As your trying to “predict” my finances I have never used a credit card or interest in my life, lol. I pay for things I can afford and make money in permissible ways. Nice…try I guess?
” When the angel says to Joseph that Mary’s son will “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), he means that Jesus will save Israel from the concrete social-political-religious transgressions that have brought the nation to the brink of catastrophe.”
Thats not the message of the NT.
The NT is a religion about Jesus not the religion OF Jesus.
The NT has more historical value to evaluate what was the religion of Jesus than the Quran
Matthew 11:1-6; 25-30
1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.
2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.
. . . .
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Even Bart Ehrman recognizes that the message and God Of Christmas is good news.
It’s unbelieveble how xtians will say and do ANYTHING to justify their faith. Does he accept, aaam I don’t know, like EVERYTHING else but God is looooove message that xtians bring?
You can say this about anything and anyone. Hell I can say about Hitler how an amzing strategist he was and how briliant and the incredible social skills he had to bring a nation that was at the brink of death to what it became. Of course the 99% of everthing else he represents makes me wanna vomit but hey!!! as long as a nazi lover can take that one thing I said that’s ‘good’ about him and use it to justify his belief, am I right?
And btw it’s complete nonsense that your god loves everyone since your book says over and over again that he HATES the wicked. Not just the sin but also the sinner. Xtians who have their own theology tried to squeeze the ‘god loves EVERYONE’ into the bible including the OT which completly desimates this myth.
O and btw being loving of everyone is absolutely wicked. God is the most righteous and his righteousness is perfect and hence He does not just love everyone but only those that deserve His love.
Saying that God loves a rapist and a serial killer and people like Hitler, Staling, etc (even the devil) and actually pretending that that is a positive just goes to show how completely corrupt the xtian theology is.
Obviously, Ehrman is wrong to reject God’s sovereignty and wrath / anger / justice at sin = hell. That was not the point. God is both just and love; and He demonstrated this most powerfully at the cross / the atonement and the resurection of Jesus from the dead. The atonement on the cross was God’s wrath / justice on sin; and God’s love for sinners from all the nations. (Revelation 5:9; 7:9; Matthew 28:18-20 – “some from every nation, people group, tribe, and language were redeemed by the blood of the lamb”. Those that don’t receive Jesus and His atonement are doomed to eternal hell. (Mark 9:47-48; John 3:18; 3:36; Revelation 20:10-15) But if you repent and trust in Christ, He will save you. (Mark 1:15; Matthew 1:21-23 – that is the good news of Jesus – Immanuel – God with us – the eternal Word who became flesh / human – even the Qur’an calls Him “the Word” of God. Kalimat’allah کلمه الله
; “and He demonstrated this most powerfully at the cross / the atonement and the resurection of Jesus from the dead. ”
this means that justice controls love. this means that ehrmans sins were not forgiven but violently punished and then god saved himself from eternal damnation.
didn’t i say that your brains a STEEPED in imagining god as a BODY
yhwh transfers sins and punishes them, he can’t forgive them. his “justice” CONTROLS his love and forgiveness.
meaning sense of forgiveness and love in your religion = VIOLENT flesh opening.
since yhwh is not damned in depths of hell and is saved from hell, then yhwh was playing a game with himself?
he will ALLOW polluted sinful pagans LIKE u in heaven, where is the JUSTICE in that?
“The atonement on the cross was God’s wrath / justice on sin;”
ehrman is right now blaspheming your god and is MOCKING this pagan “atonement” on the cross. he thinks its BULLSHIT. he thinks its self abuse . i have asked him many times on his blog and he mocks it. so yhwh self abused himself FOR EHRMANS mockery , abuse and disrespect of yhwhs flesh deeds? this MEANS yhwh is breaking his own justice. its the case when JUSTICE should have required the DEATH of david, but yhwh killed his son isntead.
” and God’s love for sinners from all the nations. ”
so god has to remember a brutal “sacrifice” because if he didn’t do this, he would TRASH ehrmans repentance and send him to hell? you see, your gods “love” and “forgiveness” is DEPENDANT on a blood human offering. he needs to RMEEMBER this to release people.
hey ken, bart ehrman already blasphemed the pagan holi spirit? where is the justice in yhwh loving an ehrman who tells people that yhwh = fairy tale?
As long as someone is alive, there is opportunity for repentance.
We don’t know if or if not God will save someone until they are dead.
“It is appointed once for man to die, after than comes the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27
“As long as someone is alive, there is opportunity for repentance.”
oh ye pagan steeped in imagining god popping out of a vagina, ehrman MOCKS your pagan religion and think that it is fairytales INCLUDING the holy spirit filling you.
he is BLASPHEMING again and again, where is the JUSTICE in loving ehrman as he is NOW?
“We don’t know if or if not God will save someone until they are dead.”
we do know ehrman IS blaspheming your pagan born of a woman meat /blood god. where is the JUSTICE IN loving ehrman as he is now ?
“It is appointed once for man to die, after than comes the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27
EHRMAN is blaspheming your pagan god who loves coming from vaginas, where is the JUSTICE in loving ehrman as he is now?
“As long as someone is alive, there is opportunity for repentance.”
you mean like pharoah ? did yhwh love pharoah after he hardened his heart?
Bart Ehrman speaks from the only reasonable position – agnosticism. Both Muslim and Christian fundamentalist loons cherry-pick and misuse him for their purposes. This includes you Temple, the despicable Wood as well as the super missionaries on this blog.
Since Wood included all the theologically wrong things that Ehrman said, (and I also did) it is not cherry-picking. We are just pointing out that Ehrman recognizes the good news aspect of Christmas, and indirectly, he recognizes the need for a savior from sin, because the world is full of hate, narcissism, wars, self-aggrandizement, suffering, etc.
If were are just chemicals bouncing off one another, why does injustice and suffering and arrogance and wars bother us?
We are conscious beings, stupid, capable of detecting red herrings.
“even the Qur’an calls Him “the Word” of God.”
And where does the Qur’an say that that means he is God?
Furthermore my point still stands: you focus in one thing and ignore everything else he rejects which is something that can be done with ANY individual.
That’s exactly what you do inconsistent missionary.
Care to explain where I do that?
Taking something from a scholar who’s belief you don’t share is not what I am objecting too in and of itself. What I object to is that he takes something from him by ignoring the stuff that’s RELEVANT to the thing he quotes.
That’s why I won’t quote Ehrman when he objects to say claims of supernaturalism cus that would undermine my theology and hence I would be inconsistent (unless there is a reason which doesn’t backfire Islam). He quotes Ehrman regarding God of the Bible while quite literally everything else about Him he rejects which is RELEVANT cus it’s the same God.
Stop trying achieve a gotcha moment. If you haven’t realized it yet: you suck at it.
The God of “Christmas” I think you mean Saturnalia. Enjoy worshipping Saturn tommorow Ken.
No. Jesus Al Masih, born King of the Jews and the nations!
My debate with another Muslims about 10 years ago. The Grandverbalizer19 admits that one who dies for His enemies has the greater love.
Sorry for typo:
should have been:
My debate with another Muslim about 10 years ago.
I sacrifice myself for an enemy so that he can be free fro my wrath? It’s an awful idea and perplexing.
However, I hope christians start believing in this concept and practicing it. Believe me, we would save much effort and time in our countries.
But the question is; if God is love in that sense of sacrificing, then why did not he die instead of his son if we accepted that god dies in the first place?
Christians, why God has created our brains? For which purpose?
“The Grandverbalizer19 admits that one who dies for His enemies has the greater love.”
thats like telling your adulterous wife that you planned your own abduction and got raped 24 hours non-stop to demonstrate how much you love your adulterous wife.
people who do this are usually constrained and restricted. you bring god down to a
not all your god showed his love. the father didnt do any dying for you, he created flesh which he “sacrificed” for a few days(hasn’t the father been taking the life out of flesh for millions of years?) and then this same flesh knew that it would come back to life and be “one ” with the father. the father is just REDUCED to one who sends/post man. the son is the one who does the dying and christianity wants you to WORSHIP the human body of jesus. thats why u eat and DRINK a body in your mind. you worship a wall. your relationship is through worshiping CREATED thing.
your pagan limited god HAS NO choice man. if is LIMITED to a pagan human sacrifice. it cannot FORGIVE you. it can only transfer your sins and PLAN its own suicide.
1) Your son will come back 3 days later just fine… You won’t have lost anything, neither would you son.
2) Jesus understood what was happening and went into it willingly, it was all part of a plan. Your son (I’m picturing a toddler here) won’t have any say or understanding of what is happening or why.
Your son would suffer and be gone forever, having an actual impact on you and your family, you’ll have actually lost something. Jesus has a nap for 3 days then comes back, nothing is lost.
If you focus on the suffering, then I want to turn it around, could you torture your son, pull out his nails, cut off his limbs etc all because your great grandfather was an asshole? It makes no sense, God is horrible, he had a choice, and he chose to torture his son he apparently loved so much?
Even if my son did come back 3 days later I wouldn’t want him to suffer at any price. For me, the key here is the unjust suffering. I get what you’re saying.
I’m in UK I have free health care, and no one had to be tortured and sacrificed (unless you count fighting the Nazis, but that doesn’t 100% mean we wouldn’t have free healthcare). I’m being pedantic, but the point is you don’t need to torture and kill people to have good things.
Resurrecting after 3 days takes all the gravitas away from the act, it undoes it. Its a badly written story, actions need to have permanent consequences for them to have impact and meaning. Jesus needed to die and stay dead, not for God to have sacrificed something (hes God, its meaningless to sacrifice himself), but for humanity to have lost something we can’t get back, for us to have squandered the opportunity to live among and learn from “God”. To give us a reason to strive for improvement and to better ourselves and learn from out mistakes.
Weird example, but in Dragon Ball Z and similar shows) main characters die all the time, but they’re always brought back, so when others die it no longer matters, its trivial. Death should be final and permanent. But when you have easy access to magic when they’re brought back makes all that happened before is meaningless. In stories characters die to give motivation to others, to be character development points, to overcome and persevere.
Star Wars, it all wrapped up after Return of the Jedi, new Death Star destroyed, Emperor dead, Anakin redeemed, Republic and democracy returned to the galaxy, Empire and Sith Defeated!. Then the new trilogy starts, Empire is back, Sith are back, Luke is a pathetic hermit whos rejected the force he fought so hard for, it negates all of the other 6 films, all the heroes trials and struggles were for naught.
He’s got a get-out–death-free card up his sleeve the whole time. That massively devalues any sacrifice he made.
People should really be saying “Jesus took a nap for your sins”.
d have to completely agree. The only thing he lost was a couple of days before being resurrected to be the ruler of the universe from heaven.
Had Jesus been willingly sent to hell for all eternity, I could get behind the idea of the “ultimate sacrifice”. Then it would give some credibility of Jesus “saving us” by taking our place in hell so that we could go to heaven.
God: Hey there humanity, I’m just gonna have you sacrifice the embodiment of me to myself to pay for your sins, that I knew you was gonna do and set the preconditions for. But that’s fine cause I’m gonna resurrect my avatar after… like.. 3 days. Sound cool? Humans:… That’s one complicated f**king reset button you got there.
I’d sacrifice a buck for a candy bar. That’s proportional and expected. If I sacrificed 50 bucks for a candy bar, that’d be worthy of writing home about.
If I “sacrificed” 5 cents for an infinite number of candy bars, that’s not really a sacrifice.
[Edit: The more I think of this… it’d be more appropriate to remove the sense of what you get from the sacrifice. The point is that the “sacrifice” of a day is immaterial to a god who lives forever.]
“Without the Resurrection, the crucifixion is just a loss with no point, and hence, a bad sacrifice.”
So the pain and death are irrelevant? All that matters was the intention of Jesus and what god did with the dead body, (ressurection)?
Seems like an ad hoc definition of sacrifice. Why does God demand death for sin from the beginning anyway? Seems suspiciously like the whims of a Bronze Age middle eastern chieftain. And if the vital event of Jesus life death and alleged resurrection was the pinnacle of existence, the game changer of the universe, why didnt we and all creation revert back to Eden? Instead, what we got was – despite all human secular progress – thousands more years of the most indescribable cruelty and suffering in all its forms which make an individual crucifixion look like a cupcake AND we didnt even get confirmation of the supposed stop in “alienation” from God at all. In short: absolute bullshit.
“Sin is alienation from God, and as alienated, we left to our finitude” Why? Thats not Biblical, thats just Pauline. God constantly interacts with and forgives sinners in the OT.
” His life.” What, so he lost his life for 72 hours? And not even that is true, since even during that period he supposedly descended into hell to preach to the dead. So his sacrifice were really 6 hours of suffering.
“does not preclude God ‘interacting’ with us, but it does preclude complete reconciliation with him.” So you say. But there is nothing in the Hebrew bible about that. There is no requirement of blood for sin in Judaism either. Repentance restores the alienation with God.
“He defeated death by rising from the dead.”
This doesn’t explain anything. In this statement it seem to make death an entity/agent. For the sake argument death is an entity than this death existed before Jesus sacrifice and after Jesus sacrifice. It doesn’t seem “defeating death” accomplished anything.
Why did Jesus(man-God) have to defeat death what did it accomplish?
Why does an advance being like God need to sacrifice itself for humans to repent? Why can’t he do any other method?
If you did something like murder my family or some extreme. I don’t need the sacrifice of an individual to forgive you. Why can’t God do something to forgive others for a curse it put on primitive people?
Seriously! This is one of those empowering things Xians say that sounds so hallelujah! inspiring but makes no sense when thought about for more than a second. Was God the Father in danger of dying before he sent God the Son to defeat death by dying (but not really dying because God can’t die) and then rising from the dead (or not being dead and then rising) in a 100% human (but also 100% divine) form on planet Earth, once, when God is everywhere and timeless and cannot die and also death is not a thing that can be defeated because death is just a word describing the condition of not being alive?
If Jesus’ ‘sacrifice’ saves me from an eternity in hell – why can’t I get hung on a cross and get killed for 48 hours instead of go to hell for eternity?
so god cannot make the suffering and pain of unholy person, holy????
He didn’t sacrifice anything. If he is God…..and God can’t be attacked or diminished, then he gave up nothing. He status before and after is unchanged.
That’s not a sacrifice.
Jesus’ temporary suffering is just an odd framework if its meant to absolve humanity of its sins or the sins of its fathers. Any amount of allowed temporary injustice for a greater eternal heavenly good absolutely destroys any godly claim to perfect justice. This dichotomy you’ve set up where you have to acknowledge one and disregard the other doesn’t ring true. I think I’ll just stick with rationally evaluating each ridiculous claim as they come.
If a man with an infinite amount of money gave an infinitesimally small amount (to him) of a million dollars to a homeless person, that would be a meaningful thing to the person receiving it. It’s still not a sacrifice of the person giving it
More generally, many Christians tell me that hell is separation from God. Yet supposedly Jesus descended into hell for 3 days, to atone for our sins.
How did he separate from himself?
ken, so ynwh punishes himself like a self abuser for ehrmans blasphemies
ehrman is now SPREADING his blasphemies ALL over the world through LECTURE , video, youtube , books. out of this will be born a people who will constantly BLASPHEME ur pagan triune being.
you want to focus on the pagan human sacrifice as if that MOVES ehrmans heart, he thinks your theology is bullshit. he DENIES GOd exists. he denies the holy spirit. so u saying yhwh DIED for blasphemy ? blasphemy does not have any offerings, it is PUNISHABLE by death in ot.
WHY did yhwh change his mind?
ehrmans blasphemies = punishment by death in ot
your pagan “god of love” replaces his own JUST command with human sacrifice
how is EHRMANS CURRENT BLASPHEMIES which his person does right now, right this minute something which god says “i love u ehrman…..”
ehrman to yhwh
“You are bs and your books are created by men uninspired”
yhwh to ehrman
“i love u ehrman, please repent”
ehrman to god
“trash repentance, its all bullshit”
yhwh to ehrman
“i love u ehrman”
ehrman goes on blaspheming yhwh and spreading his blasohemies all over the world
yhwh says to ehrman
“I LOVE u ehrman, now burn in hell”
“Ehrman recognizes the good news aspect of Christmas, and indirectly, he recognizes the need for a savior from sin, because the world is full of hate, narcissism, wars, self-aggrandizement, suffering, etc.”
so roman tool of destruction(cross) , nails, tying, and few hours on planks off wood is going to help our psychologies from dealing with this problem? have u asked christian women in abusive relationship how much bullshit “turning other cheek” “endure till the end” “taking up the cross” is?
why is blood shedding and rape the ONLY way to solve problem of humanity?