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

Deification of Jesus : Its Evolution IV - Early Unitarians


In this segment, Dr. Badawi parades several people and groups which, he claims, are unitarian in their beliefs concerning God. Some of the people and groups mentioned did no believe what Dr. Badawi claims while other groups held beliefs that are against the teachings of orthodox Christianity and Islam.

Host: Is there any historical evidence of the spread of Pauline and non Pauline versions of Christianity?

Jamal Badawi: Those who followed the teachings of absolute monotheism did not develop any central organization as the Pauline Church did but their numbers increased forming autonomous communities in remote areas to hide from their persecutors. There teachings spread across north Africa. The Pauline version spread in Greece and Europe. Some early Christians did not use the term Father and did not believe that Jesus was divine. Among these groups are the Ebionites, the Cyerinthians or Corinthians, the Cylidians, Sabellians etc.

The Sabellians held a view of the Trinity which denied all real distinctions in the Supreme. The Ebionites denied that Jesus was divine and also denied the virgin birth. It is very dangerous to cite the teachings of heretical groups to support the Islamic argument since most of these groups hold beliefs that contradict the basic tenants of Islam. The Apostolic Church as the Pauline Church because these Churches were established by the Apostles who agreed with Paul on the divinity of Jesus.

In this period there were many accounts of the life of Jesus that emerged, dozens of Gospels and there was no canonization. The major difference was absolute monotheism of the Apostolic Church and the Pauline.

No. There were a wide spectrum of heresies at this point in history. Some groups denied the human nature of Jesus, others denied His divine nature, while others considered Jesus divine but subordinate to God the Father.

Host: Why did the Pauline doctrine become dominant?

Jamal Badawi: Paul's methods appealed to the Greek and Romans. The Pauline Church aligned itself with the Roman Emperors and they became hostile to those who did not accept Paul's ideas. The historian Toland in his book The Nazarenes (1718) says that many of Paul's followers did not hesitate to write their own scriptures, and present them as the teachings of Jesus. Many apocrypha were accepted.

Paul and the Apostles preached mostly in the Roman Empire, that is an historical fact. Also, what scriptures were written by Paul's followers? Where are they? Which were accepted as canon? Do you have a more recent source which is available at libraries for us to check than a book published in 1718?

Host: Did the strict monotheistic tradition continue?

Jamal Badawi: Yes it did, there were many scholars and saints who believed sincerely in absolute monotheism and avoided the use son to refer to Jesus. Many lived in north Africa.

I find this statement amazing since Jesus called himself the Son of God, God called Him the Son of God, and the Prophets called Him God. For the Bible passages, please read this article.

Dr. Badawi believes that if he repeats something that is completely untrue a sufficient number of times, it will become true.

Host: Who were the major personalities during that time?

Jamal Badawi: According to Rahim's Jesus Prophet of Islam, one of the earliest was Irenaeus (130-200), he carried as message to the Pope to aks him to stop persecuting Christians, while he was in Rome he heard that all of the dissenting Christians and Bishop were killed. In the year 190, Irenaeus wrote to Pope Victor asking him to stop the massacres of those who opposed the Pauline Church. It was said that Irenaeus believed in the oneness of God, that Christ was human, he opposed Paul, and he said that Paul introduced Platonic philosophy.

Irenaeus did not believe in the Trinity? This is completely wrong. In fact, Irenaeus wrote:

"The Church ... [believes] in one God, the Father Almighty ... and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God ... and in the Holy Spirit."


I"For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, 'Let us make man after our image and likeness'". (Irenaeus Against Heresies, 4:10)

Irenaeus did not believe that Jesus of divine? Wrong again, Irenaeus said :

"...He is Himself in His own right God and Lord and Eternal King and Only Begotten and Incarnate Word....The Scriptures would not have borne witness to these things concerning Him, if, like everyone else, He were mere man." (Irenaeus Against Heresies, 3.19.1-2).

Another important person was Tertullian (160-220), he believed in the unity of God and wrote that the common man believed Jesus was a human.

Once again, Dr. Badawi either did not do his homework or is not telling the truth. Tertullian wrote:

"God alone is without sin. The only man without sin is Christ; for Christ is also God." (The Soul 41.3)

Origen (185-254) was born in Alexandria and his father was a follower of the Apostolic Church. He refused to accept the Pauline interpretation and he was killed. During the life of Origen's father, a school was established. A famous teacher there was Clement. Clement, when Origen's father was killed, fled Alexandria and Origen believed that he had to fill the void and was ordained as a priest, but he was exiled. Jerome was said to be a supporter of Origen, but he latter accepted the Trinity and condemned Origen who was imprisoned and killed because he rejected the Trinity.

Dr. Badawi makes so many historical and philosophical errors, it is difficult to know where to begin.

Error 1: Origen's father, whose name was Leonides, was killed during Emperor Caracalla's furious attack upon the Alexandrians. Caracalla (whose full name was Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus) was not a member of the Pauline Church. Caracalla put many Christians to death and Leonides is considered a martyr by the Pauline Church. In fact, he is known as St. Leonidas of Alexandria in the Roman Catholic Church and his feast day is celebrated on April 22.

Error 2 Origen did not reject the divinity of Jesus. He wrote in Origen de Principiis:

That Jesus Christ Himself, who came (into the world), was born of the Father before all creatures; that, after He had been the servant of the Father in the creation of all things-"For by Him were all things made" -He in the last times, divesting Himself (of His glory), became a man, and was incarnate although God, and while made a man remained the God which He was; that He assumed a body like to our own, differing in this respect only, that it was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit: that this Jesus Christ was truly born, and did truly suffer, and did not endure this death common (to man) in appearance only, but did truly die; that He did truly rise from the dead; and that after His resurrection He conversed with His disciples, and was taken up (into heaven).

Error 3: Origen did believe in the Trinity, even though some of his ideas were doctrinally weak. Origen said that the three Persons of the Trinity are distinguished from all creatures by the three following characteristics: absolute immateriality, omniscience, and substantial sanctity. However, he got into the issue of subordination of the members of the Trinity when he said that substantial holiness is the exclusive privilege of the Trinity so also is it the only source of all created holiness. Sin is forgiven only by the simultaneous concurrence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; no one is sanctified at baptism save through their common action; the soul in which the Holy Ghost indwells possesses likewise the Son and the Father. In a word the three Persons of the Trinity are indivisible in their being, their presence, and their operation.

As far as the divinity of Jesus, Origen said:

"Although He was God, He took flesh; and having been made man, He remained what He was, God".(Fundamental Doctrines 1. pref. 2-4; 1.2.1; 4.4.1)

Diodorus, the Bishop of Tarsus, upheld that Christ was a human being. Lucian (d 312) was also a very famous scholar who deleted alterations from the Greek Septuagint, he believed that Jesus was not God and was killed. One of the most important was Arius (250-356) who stood against the Trinity and played an important part.

Not true, Diodurus was blamed for something written by Theodore of Mopsuestia - a forefather of the Nestorians. He was not condemned at the Fifth General Council (553 AD). Lucian of Antioch also did not go as far in his heresies as Badawi claims. Lucian attempted to compromise between Modalism and Subordinationism. He said that Jesus is the Word, and though He was the Creator of all subsequent beings, He was a creature, though superior to all other created things by the wide gulf between Creator and creature. This would hardly conform to Islamic or Christian teachings. Now we move on to Arius of Alexandria who was a real heretic.

Host: Could you tell us more about him and his convictions?

Jamal Badawi: He was born in north Africa. He did not accept Paul's innovation and said to follow Jesus as he preached. He gave the Apostolic (Unitarian) Church a great deal of strength, his beliefs were an extension of his teacher Lucian. In 318, he was in charge of a Church in Alexandria but his fame spread. On of his remarkable qualities is that he did not approve of the growing alliance between the Pauline Church and Constantine who, according to some, supported the Pauline Church for political reasons.

I doubt that Lucian appreciated Arius' claim that his teachings were an extension of the thought of Lucian. Arius had some fairly odd ideas. He taught that Jesus Christ, was the Son of God. However, Arius believed that He was created by God the Father to be an instrument in the creation of the world. Jesus, according to Arius, is neither fully divine nor is He fully man as Muslims believe. According to Arius, Jesus is the highest of all of God's creation. Arius wrote:

"God was not always a Father....The Word of God was not always, but originated from things that were not....for the Son is a creature and a work." (Deposition of Arius 2)

Unlike Muslims, Arius believed that Jesus did die on the cross to atone for our sins and was resurrected on the third day. I wonder why Dr. Badawi did not mention this?

Host: Why would the Emperor feel it necessary to ally himself with this group?

Jamal Badawi: Constantine and his alliance with the Pauline Church relate to some incidents in his life. Some historians say that he became jealous of his older son and heir who was very popular. Constantine may have had a role in his murder. Crispus' stepmother wanted to get rid of him so that her son could be the next Emperor and could have pushed Constantine into it. Constantine was grieved and blamed his wife and immersed her in a bath of boiling water, now there are two murders. Now he has two enemies: the supporters of Crispus and his wife. In despair, he went to the temple of Jupiter and asked if he could do anything to be absolved of these murders and the priests said no. He then went to Byzantium, he was told by the Pauline Church that if he did penance, he would be forgiven. It got rid of his guilt and served as a religious support so that he could use the Church for his own ends. From that moment, the Pauline Church began to spread with political power behind it. He thought that the Churches could help him in his conquest. Historians say that he remained Pagan and hid his Christianity for popular support. This continued until the point where those who believed in monotheism and those who believe in Trinity and deification flare up.

Most of Dr. Badawi thoughts, in this case, are conjecture. We must remember that, at all times and in all places, God is in charge and His divine will shall be done. God can use evil people, and even Satan, for His plan - read the Book of Esther for an example of this.

Host: Why did this controversy flare up?

Jamal Badawi: The new alliance between Constantine and the Pauline Church changed things dramatically. The Pauline Church became stronger with the power of the state and many converted.

The Pauline Church was the largest in numbers before Constantine. Most of the heretical groups were in north Africa, not in Europe or Asia Minor which had large Christian populations.

Host: Could you tell us why the new converts joined the Pauline Church instead of the Apostolic Church

Jamal Badawi: This relates to the nature of the dispute between Barnabas and Paul. The Pauline followed Paul's idea about the law and Paul did not want to follow all of the law. The disciplined life of some of the Jews and Jesus became no longer necessary and anyone could do anything and be acommodated. The Pauline Church talked a lot about the Son of God and atonement appealed to the Greek and Roman peoples, God coming in human form. This could explain it but it is my humble opinion that the political reason was the more important. Constantine wanted to unify the Church for his own reasons because the Pauline Church was centered in Rome, he wanted it under his rule instead of in Jerusalem. He favored forcing the Apostolic Church, the Nazarenes, to force them into the Church of Rome under his leadership.

1. The obvious answer to the question is that there were more people to convert (because the population was larger) in areas where the Pauline Church was predominant (Europe and Asia Minor).

2. Paul was preaching to peoples who were not bound by the law of Moses (the Gentiles). If you dislike Paul for changing the Jewish law, what about Muhammad? For example, Leviticus 11:4 says:

There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you.

My question is: why do Arabs eat camel meat? How could Muhammad change the Jewish law for some but not others?

3. The Gospel of John talked about the incarnation of the Word of God. It is interesting to note, since Dr. Badawi loves to make an issue of Paul and Barnabas, that Barnabas said:

Because He was about to be made manifest in the flesh and to dwell in us.(The General Epistle of Barnabus 5:17)


"And for this cause the Lord was content to suffer for our souls, although he be the Lord of the whole earth; to whom God said before the beginning of the world, Let us make man after our own image and likeness."The General Epistle of Barnabus 4:7

Andrew Vargo

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