Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"

Deification of Jesus : Its Evolution VIII - Later Councils


Introduction

In this segment, Dr. Badawi glosses over, and distorts, many centuries of Church history. He attempts to point out that some opinions held during the early history of the Church are similar to the teachings of Islam, or were influenced by Islam. There is very little in this section that is controversial, most of it is simply bad historical research.

Host: What was the next major Council, Chalcedon?

Jamal Badawi: The second Council of Constantinople 553. In 451, when the Council of Chalcedon met, the western part of the Roman empire broke down into smaller kingdoms. There was a move to canonize the first 4 Councils. The eastern Church opposed the 4th Council because they insisted on believing in the divine nature, not the two natures. That attempt failed. Some wanted to drop some portions relating to the two natures. The 2nd Council of Constantinople dropped the three chapters that talked about the two natures. The Pope did not agree but he used under pressure from Justinian to accept, even though the Roman Church continued to believe in the two natures. This dispute continued and the imperial troops could not control everyone to accept the Roman Church and Islam came.

Issue 1: The eastern Church did not oppose the Council of Chalcedon, in fact most of the 600 Bishops present at that Council were from the Eastern Churches. The purpose of the Council of Chalcedon was to counter the Monophysite heresy, which argued against the two natures of Christ, and reaffirm the Church's position opposing the Nestorians. This Council defined the final elements in the Trinitarian formula by declaring that Christ existed in two natures, without mixture or change, without division or separation, but that His two natures were held in union in one person without losing the separate distinction of either nature.

Issue 2: The Second Council of Constantinople (A.D. 553) is sometimes referred to as the "Council of the Three Chapters" The main purpose of this Council was to condemn the writings and teaching of Theodore of Mopsuestia, the erroneous portions in the writings of Theodoret, and the letters of Ibas. It reaffirmed the dogmas stated by the third and forth General Councils proclaiming that Jesus was perfect God and perfect man. If you are interested in this council, please read this article

Host: Was this discussed in the latter Councils?

Jamal Badawi: Yes, the eastern Church was forbidden to speak about Jesus in one nature, so they said that he had one name and will, but he may have two natures. In 649, they do not accept that he had two wills. In 680 another Council was held and condemned anyone who said that Jesus had one will and said he had two and split with the Marionites. In 692 another conference was held in Constantinople, in 787 a second Nicene Council was held to address icon worship and this may have been the influence of Islam. They decided that icons may not be worshiped but could be revered. Between 869-870, another conference was held in Constantinople and separated the eastern Church from Rome. In earlier councils there were splits between groups over the nature of Christ. This issue was raised by the Bishop of Constantinople who said that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father, he was opposed by the Pope who said that he came from the Father and the Son, each considered as wrong and condemned and they excommunicated each other. In 869, a council agreed with Rome and anyone who disputed this must go to Rome and all Christians are subject to the decisions of Rome. The Bishop of Constantinople regained his position and held another council in 879 in which he refused the previous decision and insisted on his previous position. The Church was split into the Latin Church and the Greek Church.

Issue 1: The overwhelming majority of Eastern Christians believed that Jesus existed in two natures and not one. The Monophysites were a minority.

Issue 2: The split between the Eastern and Western Churches occurred in 1054 and there were many issues in addition to the filoque.

Host: Did this end the councils?

Jamal Badawi: In a way yes, the earlier councils were general and universal with the various churches, the previous one was the Greek Church which did not accept the first 7, church councils continued but after the 8th one, they were only composed of western Bishops. The 12th council held in 1215 decided that the Roman Church can issue forgiveness, 1542 they responded to Protestantism, 1869 affirmed the infallibility of the Pope, 1965 Second Vatican recognized other world religions. It did end with the 7th council.

The Eastern Orthodox Church does recognize the 7 Councils but does not recognize any that were held afterwards since they were held exclusively under the Bishop of Rome (the Pope).

Host: Why was it possible for one group to prevail over the other?

Jamal Badawi: Times were different, the Roman empire split and another factor is the spread of Islam which provided for followers of other sects and gave them protection. When the crusaders invaded Jerusalem, they severely persecuted the eastern Church. The eastern Christians said that the turban of the Turkish conqueror than the crown of the Pope.

I do not want to sink into an argument of who did what to whom. However, Dr. Badawi might be interested in how the Muslims treated the Nestorians and their descendants.

Host: What were the reasons for the split in the western Church?

Jamal Badawi: There are a number of reasons as to why the reformation occurred. The position of the Church and the absence of tolerance led to a position where the Church claimed that it was infallible and only they can present the Bible. A second reason is the position of those Church and science. A third reason is the position that the Church took in regards to government and leaders after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Pope developed power over kings. A forth reason was the imposition of too many taxes imposed for the Church and the selling of absolution. Fifth is the personal behavior of some of the leaders of the Church who were not holy and some of the major Church leaders had questionable relationships and some lived in luxury. Sixth is that Islamic civilization was the superpower of the world and many thinkers and scientists found centers of learning in Muslim universities which were ahead and by learning about Islam, they took Islamic values to the west in that there is no official church, individual conscience, no one can grant forgiveness.

I doubt that Islam had as much influence on the Reformation as Dr. Badawi would like to believe. One of the most important tenants of the Protestant Reformation is that we are saved through grace alone (by the blood of Jesus) and not through works. This idea is very different from the Muslim and Catholic doctrines of salvation through works.

Host: How does it progress?

Jamal Badawi: The reaction of the Church were very severe and brutal. In 415, John Huss was burned alive, he died a martyr for free intelligence according to H.G. Wells. John Wycliff, even his parents were condemned to be burned. There were reformers who tried peaceful reform. Martin Luther was not against the Church who was shocked when he went to Rome. Pope Leo wanted money to build St. Peters so he began to sell indulgences, Luther believed that forgiveness comes from God, the Pope was not infallible. John Calvin continued Lutherís work.

Ultimately, the truth of the Gospel prevailed.

Host: What were the basic principles of the reformation?

Jamal Badawi: The Bible is the basis, the Church Councils must be tested according to the Bible, there is no general leadership of the Church, no man can grant forgiveness, and they opposed celibacy.

Amen to the above!


Andrew Vargo


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