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

Deification of Jesus : Its Evolution II - Disciples and Paul


In this segment, Dr. Badawi begins his attack on Paul by mixing some facts concerning the life and works of Paul with some bizarre and unsubstantiated accusations and innuendos.

Host: What was the situation in early Christianity?

Jamal Badawi: As far as the life of Jesus, he taught nothing to do with divinity, he never spoke about Trinity. In the early days of Christianity, much has been written, I make references to the specialists although they vary due to "theological commitment". I would like to acknowledge Jesus Prophet of Islam (1977) by Rahman, we will refer to this book. The author refers to Theodore Zahn in his book Articles of the Apostolic Creed, the article of faith up to 150 AD is that I believe in God the Almighty. The addition of Father before God 180-210 AD was contested by many of the Church leaders including Bishops Victor and Zathesis who upheld the divine unity. They considered Christ to be a human. This was the predominant faith in North Africa and Asia. It seems that the early Christians believed in Jesus as a human and Prophet and this continued in spite of the teachings of Paul.

Jesus, as we discussed in earlier segments, did claim divinity and did preach the triune nature of God. There were a variety of sects in early Christianity. Some believed that Jesus was God and therefore purely divine and not human. Others believed that Jesus was a man without divinity. The situation in early Christianity was, at times, a bit confusing but this can be expected when a new faith emerges. Perhaps Dr. Badawi should study the early years of Islam. After Muhammad's death, three false prophets [the most notorious was Musailama] and even a prophetess attracted large numbers of followers. Many tribes left the fold of Islam throughout the Arabian Peninsula and even the city of Medina was attacked. Abu Bakr spent a great deal of resources and human lives to return Arabia to the religion of Muhammad. It was also during this time that he ordered Zaid ibn Thabit to make the first collection of the Qur'an. However, the struggles in the early Muslim community did not end. For example, the second Khalifa, Omar, was assassinated by a Persian slave, Firoz, in 23 AH. and in 35 AH, an angry crowd of Muslims entered the headquarters of Othman, the 3rd Khalifa, and mortally wounded him. Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law, was named successor, in spite of many objections and opposition. Aisha, the widow of the Muhammad, along with Talha and Zubair, eventually gathered forces in an attempt to topple Ali. It took a Muslim army led by Ali to put down this civil war within the Muslim community in October 656 AD/35 AH defeating his enemies in the "Battle of the Camel".

Host: Who were the most influential personalities among the followers of Jesus?

Jamal Badawi: This is important because it shows how dogmas develop. Most Christians point to Paul as important even though he was not one of the early followers of Jesus. Sometimes Peter is mentioned as well as others. Very little is written about Barnabas who was one of the leaders of the disciples. Acts says that he had a difference with Paul when Paul got out of the purity of monotheism. The writer of Acts is Luke who was close to Paul and we would expect that Luke would give Paul's viewpoint.

Where in the Bible does it say that the "purity of monotheism" was an issue between Paul and Barnabas? There is no such reference! Unable to bring proof, Dr. Badawi resorts to slimy innuendo by implying that the Book of Acts is not accurate because it was written by Luke, who was Paul's friend. Where is the evidence to support such a claim?

The truth is that the Apostles regarded Paul's teachings as authentic and Peter referred to them as scriptures in II Peter 3:15-16:

``Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave to him...His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.''

Host: Do you have any references?

Jamal Badawi: Acts 1:22 :

beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."

There were two nominees for Judas' position, one was Joseph (Barnabas) and Mathias. It says that the second one was chosen by drawing lots. One of the main qualification was that it should be one who was a follower of Jesus for His entire mission. This shows that Barnabas was an eyewitness and very prominent. The name Barnabas was given to him (son of exaltation) and in Acts 11:24:

He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

He is a good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith, selling all of his property. A third reference is in Acts 9:26-28:

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

The disciples did not want Paul, they did not believe him because he persecuted Christians. He confessed his acts against Christians. While the disciples rejected Paul, Barnabas intervened and asked them to accept Paul. If it were not for that, Paul would have disappeared. This is a sign of his influence. Acts 15:2, Barnabas was chosen by the Holy Spirit to do God's work. The last supper held in John Mark's house was a relative of Barnabas.

There is no doubt in my mind that Barnabas was a good man.

Host: Why did Barnabas support Paul and then disagree with him?

Jamal Badawi: Barnabas was a classmate of Paul's under Gemaliel. He gave him the benefit of the doubt. Paul was a Roman citizen and Barnabas might have thought that Paul would be a good helper in missionary work. Why did they differ? Acts tells us that Paul and Barnabas went out on missionary work and Barnabas took his nephew John Mark to Greece. When they returned to Jerusalem and discussed another trip, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark again and Paul refused. The difference became so bad that they parted. To take this reason seems to be a trivial reason for the split, there must have been a much deeper cause for the split.

Earlier, Dr. Badawi claimed that the argument was over the "purity of monotheism". Now Dr. Badawi tells us that the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was the result of Paul objecting to John Mark accompanying them on another missionary journey but then goes straight into the realm of innuendo when he claims that there must have been a "much deeper cause".

What happened between Paul and Barnabas? Barnabas was deeply impressed by Paul. He went to Tarsus, and persuaded Paul to go to Antioch and begin the work of preaching. Paul and Barnabas worked together in Antioch for one year where they "taught a great multitude". A great famine began which affected Jerusalem terribly. The Disciples at Antioch sent supplies (around A.D. 45) to the mother-church with Barnabas and Saul (Acts 11). When their mission ended, they returned to Antioch, bringing with them the cousin, or nephew of Barnabas (Col. 4:10), John Mark, the future Evangelist (Acts 12:25).

The time was now right to send out missionaries to the Gentile world and Barnabas and Paul were designated for this work. They departed with John Mark as their helper. After preaching in Cyprus, the homeland of Barnabas, they crossed over to Asia Minor. The first stop was Perge in Pamphylia, where John Mark left them, for reasons that his friend St. Luke does not tell us. Apparently, Paul looked on the act as desertion. The going was tough for the two Apostles, as the, pushed into the interior of some very dangerous territory. They preached at Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, at Derbe, and other cities and were met with opposition and even violent persecution from the Jews, who also incited the Gentiles against them. In fact, while in Lystra, a very superstitious mob mistook Paul, who had just cured a lame man, for Greek God Hermes (Roman : Mercury) "because he was the chief speaker", and mistook Barnabas for Jupiter, and were about to sacrifice a bull to them when prevented by the Apostles. This enraged mob, were soon persuaded by the Jews to turn and attack the Apostles and they nearly killed Paul.

Host: Could you give us an idea of Paul's background?

Jamal Badawi: Paul was raised as a Jew. He persecuted Christians and never saw Jesus. He was traveling to Damascus to introduce him to the community that if any Christians were found, they should be sent back to Jerusalem. On his way, he saw Jesus in a vision and became a follower. At that time Paul wanted to marry a beautiful woman named Popea who was the daughter of the high priest. She refused Paul's proposal and went to Rome as an actress and married the Roman Emperor after an affair. This happened at the same time that Paul converted emotional and psychological duress, that is why some ask if this contributed to his resentment of the Romans and the Jews. After this Paul went to Arabia for three years and no one knows what he was doing, perhaps that is when he began to innovate. When he returned to Jerusalem to join the disciples they refused him except for Barnabas. His influence was not that great so he went back to Tarsus. When Barnabas wanted to go beyond Antioch, he wanted Paul's help and he went to Tarsus to convince Paul who went with him until they parted ways.

Whether Paul's personal life provides a motive for his actions is pure conjecture. I cannot imagine that Paul's mission was motivated by revenge. Think about it for a moment. Paul was a Pharisee and a very powerful man in the Jewish community. Why would he give up of his power and comfortable lifestyle for a lie? Paul suffered greatly because of his faith in Jesus Christ. He was brutally persecuted and eventually put to death for his beliefs and teachings. Muslims often question the validity of Paul's visions. The fact is that the writings of Paul are in perfect agreement with the teachings of Jesus. The same cannot be said for Muhammad's visions and teachings.

Andrew Vargo

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