(Note: the rest of chapter one is an expansion of the original response to Mr. J's letter) hank you Mr. J for your most thought provoking letter. In what is to follow I have
Tstriven to avoid objectionable or disrespectful wording. This is an academic exchange and not a slug-fest. I am however human. If one or two cases have slipped by me then I apologize in advance for them. They were not intentional. I also realize that this is quite a lengthy response for someone to read in one sitting. However, I ask the reader to try to do so and not to pass judgment until they have managed to receive a complete picture. Now, the response:
The three monotheistic religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-- all purport to share one fundamental concept: belief in God as the Supreme Being, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Known as "Tawhid" in Islam, this concept of Oneness of God was stressed by Moses in the Biblical passage Known as the "Shema," or the Jewish creed of faith: "Hear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4)
It was repeated word-for-word approximately 1500 years later by Jesus when he said "...The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord." (Mark 12:29)
Muhammad came along approximately 600 years later, bringing the same message again: "And your God is One God: there is no God but He" (The Qur'an, al-Bakarah(2):163)
Christianity has digressed from the concept of the Oneness of God, however, into a vague and mysterious doctrine that was formulated during the fourth century CE (see historical details in chapter 2.2.5). This doctrine, which continues to be the source of controversy both within and without the Christian religion, is known as the Doctrine of the Trinity. Simply put, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that God is the union of three divine persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - in one divine being.
Christian sects are many and varied. However, the majority of Christians around the world believe in the following four basic concepts: 1) The Trinity, 2) The divine Sonship of Jesus (pbuh), 3) The original sin, and 4) The death of "the son of God" on the cross in atonement for the original sin of Adam. Everything else is pretty much relegated into the background. A Christian can be saved and enter heaven by simply believing in the above creeds. According to St. Paul, the previous law and commandments of God are worthless, this simple belief will guarantee for all comers a place in heaven "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 3:28.
Christianity as it currently stands is the interpretation of St. Paul of what he personally thinks that Christianity should be. Muslims are told that the message of Jesus (pbuh) was directed towards the Jews alone as verified in the Bible (Matthew 15:24 "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel"). The verses wherein he is claimed to have told his disciples to preach to the whole world are now recognized as later insertions (we will get into this in a little more detail in chapter 6.10). God almighty never intended for it to become the religion of the masses as He intended Islam to be. There is much internal evidence in the Bible to support this claim.
Christianity as it stands today has been reduced to an interpretation of the words of Jesus (pbuh) within the context of what Paul taught rather than the other way around which is the way it should be. We would expect Christianity to be the teachings of Jesus (pbuh) and that the words of Paul and everyone else would be accepted or rejected according to their conformity to these "Jesuit" teachings. However, we will notice in what follows that Jesus (pbuh) never in his lifetime mentioned an original sin, or an atonement. He never asked anyone to worship him, neither did he ever claim to be part of a trinity or anything else. His words and actions are those of a loyal messenger of God who faithfully and faultlessly followed the commands of his Lord and only told his followers to do the same and to worship God alone (John 4:21, John 4:23, Matthew 4:10, Luke 4:8 ...etc.).
Just one of the countless examples of this placement of the words of Paul above the words of Jesus can be seen in the following analysis: Jesus (pbuh) is claimed to have been prepared for his sacrifice on the cross from the beginning of time and was a willing victim (otherwise they would have to claim that God is a sadistic and torturous God). However, whenever Jesus (pbuh) was asked about the path to "eternal life" he consistently told his followers to only "keep the commandments" and nothing more (Luke 18:18-24, Matthew 19:16-21, John 14:15, John 15:10). Not once did he himself ever mention an original sin or a redemption. Even when pressed for the path to "PERFECTION" he only told his followers to sell their belongings. He departed leaving his followers with the very dire threat: Matthew 5:18-19 "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Obviously, heaven and earth have not yet passed. The fact that you are reading this book bears witness to this very simple fact. So Jesus (pbuh) is telling us that so long as creation exists, the commandments will be required from his followers. Anyone who will dare to say otherwise, until the end of time, will be called "the least in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus (pbuh) had foreseen mankind's attempt to distort and annul his commandments (the commandments of Moses, pbuh), which he had taught his followers to keep and himself had kept faithfully till the crucifixion, and was warning his followers in no uncertain terms to be wary of all those who would attempt to do so.
Not long after, Jesus departs. Now Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul), a man who never met Jesus (pbuh), comes along. After a lifetime of persecuting the followers of Jesus (pbuh) and killing them, Paul "sees the light," receives a "vision" from Jesus (pbuh), and takes it upon himself to explain what Jesus really meant. Paul claims that the law of God is worthless, decaying and ready to vanish away and faith in the crucifixion is the only requirement for a Christian to enter heaven (Romans 3:28, Hebrews 8:13...etc.). Who do Christians listen to, Jesus or Paul? They listen to Paul. They take the words of Paul literally and then "interpret" the words of Jesus (pbuh) within the context of the words of Paul. No one takes the words of Jesus (pbuh) literally and explains the words of Paul within the context of Jesus' words.
According to this system of explaining the words of Jesus within the context of Paul's teachings, Jesus never actually means what he says but is constantly speaking in riddles which are not to be taken literally. Even when people attempt to cite the words of Jesus as confirming the teachings of Paul with regard to the original sin, the atonement, the divine Sonship ...etc. they never bring clear and decisive words where Jesus actually confirms these things. Instead, they say such things as "When Jesus spoke of the Exodus he was really speaking of the atonement" or so forth. Are we to believe that Paul is the only one who can say what is on his mind clearly and decisively while Jesus (pbuh) is not capable of articulating what he means clearly and decisively but requires interpreters to explain the "true" meaning of what he said, and to explain how, when he spoke of the commandments, he was not talking of "the commandments" but of a spiritual commandment and that they will now tell you what this spiritual commandment is that Jesus never managed to talk clearly about.
It is interesting to note that Jesus was not talking in riddles when he commanded his followers to keep the commandments but was talking of the actual physical commandments of Moses. This can be clearly seen by reading for instance Luke 18:20 where Jesus spells out in no uncertain terms what he means by "keep the commandments." In the past, we have posed the following points to Christian clergy:
1) According to you, Jesus is supposed to have been prepared for the "atonement" from the beginning of time. He should know that it is coming.
2) Whenever he was asked about the path to "eternal life" (i.e. Luke 18:18-24 ..etc.) he consistently told his followers to only "keep the commandments" just as he had "kept my father's commandments" ..etc.
3) Even when he was pressed for more, he only told his followers that to be PERFECT they need only sell their belongings.
4) Not once did he mention an "atonement" or and "original sin."
5) The commandments he spoke about were the commandments of Moses and not some "spiritual" commandments. This can be seen in the text itself where Jesus (pbuh) explicitly spells out some of the commandments of Moses one by one.
6) St. Paul, a disciple of a disciple, is the one who is followed by Christianity and not Jesus. Jesus' teachings are explained within the context of Paul's teachings and not vice versa.
Whenever we presented these points to a member of the Christian clergy we would always be greeted with a response such as "Well, uh... Don't take Jesus' words literally ..uh... "
Getting back to the matter at hand, the reader will notice in Mr. J's response a surprising absence of certain very fundamental verses usually quoted by any Christian man or woman off the street in defense of the "trinity" and other issues. The reader may further surmise that Mr. J might not be well versed enough in the Bible to have referred to these verses. This is far from the case. His occupation requires that he know those verses. The fact of the matter is that we have had an ongoing correspondence with Mr. J for a number of months now which he has now asked us to publicize. In this correspondence, many of these fundamental verses were dealt with in detail and refuted for various reasons. This is why he did not quote them here. However, in order that all may benefit from this information we will quote these same verses that he has elected not to. We will also tackle the other verses he has presented.
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