Monday, February 15, 2010

email from an Islamic reader

An Islamic reader posted a long comment on a recent post with a lot of theological questions (rhetorical questions). Rather than respond in the comments to that post where it wasn't really relevant I thought I'd post his comment here along with my responses. You will notice that the commenter assumes I have more orthodox Christian beliefs than I actually do.

Hi friend, peace...

Your blog very interesting.
But I have some questions for you:

First, why were you believe that Jesus is your God? Would you have evidence that Jesus is God? Or that is only your faith? What do you mean about “Jesus is God”? Does this mean have not same with mean “God of the Universe”? Or that is only mean “man as God”, like ancient Egypt peoples call Pharaoh as God?

I don't believe that Jesus is God. I believe, as do Unitarians generally, that Jesus was a human being, essentially like all other human beings. Jesus is special to me in that he seems to have lived a life more aligned with Divine principles than most of us, but the same kind of access to Divine principles is equally available to all of us, which I think was the heart of Jesus' message. He provides instruction on how to live in a manner pleasing to God, and an example of what that kind of life might look like. And, of course, Jesus is not by any means the only person to have lived this kind of life.

Second, what do you response? If you know that the “God” which attribute on Jesus is created by Constantine (the Roman Emperor at 325 AC) and the leaders of Christians in Nicea Counsel on 325 AC (After Christ). In this councel, Constantine made huge changes in the faith, like “Jesus is Son of God”, and “Jesus is God”. The Emperor Constantine took “Jesus Conception” from Apollo, the son of the Greek God (Zeus). At the counsel of Nicea in 325 AC, the New Testament Cannon was changed. The writings of the New Testament were changed to be the books used by the church since Jesus they call God (Jesus is Son of God, Jesus is God).

The commenter is correct that the orthodox Christian faith was not received all at once, directly from God, or the lips of Jesus. Most of the beliefs now held as orthodox (including which books Christians call sacred) were worked out over the course of centuries by hundreds of human beings discussing and deciding among themselves. And, of course, they brought to this discussion not only their own opinions, but their various cultural histories (including stories they knew from Greek and Roman mythology and other mid-Eastern cultures, including Judaism). And the final positions taken were also influenced by the Roman government under Constantine, including the idea that it was important for the Christian believers to be unified around a single set of beliefs in the first place. Although for convenience we often point to the Council of Nicea as the occasion when these decisions were made, they were actually debated and decided over a series of many church councils stretching for centuries.

Third, how about this informations? Nowhere in the Bible is the day of worship changed from Saturday to Sunday. This change was not made by the Almighty, but by the Roman Church. Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. There are many similarities between the pagan god of Christ and the Christian version of Jesus. For example, Greek mythology tells of Christ bring born to the virgin Isis on December 25.

The Jewish Sabbath is undoubtedly Saturday. Shabbat means Saturday. The early Christians, who considered themselves Jews worshipped on Saturday. When Christianity became the established church of the Roman Empire they switched the sabbath celebration to Sunday so that it would coincide with the day of the week already held holy under the Roman religion: Sunday, the day of the Sun god. So should Christians (and Unitarians) switch their sabbath to Saturday? Only if you believe that God actually commands us to worship on one special day of the week. I don't believe it matters in the least. The seven day week is a human convention, not God's ordination. That Saturday was chosen as the Sabbath was a human convention, not God's ordinance. Obviously Christianity was influenced (I don't say "corrupted") by pagan beliefs. Christianity was obviously influenced by Jewish beliefs. Jewish beliefs were obviously influenced by the beliefs of the people they lived with. Religion is a cultural human construction. There is no "pure" religion from God. Every religion begins with human persons responding to the Divine Spirit, and receiving that spirit through the goggles of their culture, prejudices they are mostly unaware of. We should not, now, enshrine those conventions and prejudices as divine revelation.

Fourth, how about this information? God is Allah, the One and Only. Allah is God, on whom all depend. Allah begets not, and nor begotten; and none is like Allah (The Holy Qur’an 112:1-4).

Islam is also a religion that begins with a human person (Muhammed in this case) responding to an experience of the Divine Spirit, and interpreting that experience through the goggles of his particular culture. Allah is as good a name as any for God.

Thanks for you answer.
I hope we can be friend, although we have different perspective.
If you willing visit my blog, and read my article at
And... if you love books, don’t forget to read The Holy Qur'an please...

I have read the Koran. And I'm glad I did. I don't regard it as any more holy than other books.


PJMoore said...

I'm so glad you took the time to respectfully respond to this reader. You're still as clear as ever about your beliefs and express them so well.


John said...

Hi Rev. Ricky. I saw a link to this post on UU World. I also like the way you responded to your guest and I learned some new things too. I visited your guest's site and read a very anti-Israel/Jewish post, but I guess that is to be expected from his perspective.

My question is, why isn't he as skeptical about Islam as he is about Judaism/Christianity?