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

Later Unitarians VII : William Channing


In this segment, Dr. Badawi repeats his already familiar objections to the Trinity as well his misquotations of the Bible and misinterpretations of history. William Channing is also highlighted in this segment. William Channing was a brilliant man and an outspoken opponent of slavery and child labor. I do not agree with Channing's interpretation of the Bible, however, I can not imagine that he would be pleased with Dr. Badawi's attempt to use his ideas to promote Islam - a philosophy which he did not accept. In fact, Channing said in Love to Christ that Jesus [not Muhammad] was God's greatest gift to mankind. It should also be noted that Channing once said:

Do not think, that you may innocently follow the opinions which prevail around you, without investigation

and I am sure that he was referring to all faiths [including Islam] when he said this!

Host: Can you tell us about William Channing?

Jamal Badawi: He came to North America. He was born in 1718 and came to Boston when he was 23 years old. He did not accept the Trinity but did not say it in public. He was accused of spreading Unitarianism and said that he is teaching about God and not teaching the Trinity. He said that the New Testament is based on the Old Testament and is a continuation. God does not contradict himself. He believed that God gave us a rational nature and will hold us accountable as rational beings. He believed in the doctrine of God's unity. The Bible did not convey any more that what it said.

As I have discussed in earlier segments, and will continue to discuss in this as well as future segments, the Bible contains proof of the Trinity in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Channing, and most modern Unitarians, place great emphasis on human reason and they tend to reject ideas which are not rational. That is why Channing, as well as modern Unitarians, do not accept Islam as a rational world view.

Host: What were Channing's views on the Trinity?

Jamal Badawi: He said that he objected to the doctrine of the Trinity because it affects the unity of God by claiming that there are three infinite persons sharing supreme divinity. Which of these the particular consciousness? Each plays a part in redemption. The Son is mediator, the Father sends the Son. We have three intelligent beings with different role, consciousness, and perceptions doing different acts. It this does not mean that there are three minds, how do we understand this? He said that Bible says that God sent the Son and anointed Him. He challenged his opponent where did the Bible say that God is three? He said that Christianity came up in an era of short sighted enemies. In the writings of the early Church Fathers, there is no mention of the Trinity.

Issue 1: The Bible calls the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit God. I believe that we all have a free will and are able to accept or reject what we please - including the Bible. However, I believe that it is dishonest to claim that the Bible (or any other book) denies an idea which it clearly states.

The Bible clearly says that the Father is God Philippians 1:2:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

the Son is God in John 1:1,14 and Colossians 2:9:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

and the Holy Spirit is God Acts 5:3-4:

Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."

Issue 2: We are redeemed and sanctified by the Father (1 Thessalonians 5:23), Son (Hebrews 2:11), and Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2).

Issue 3: The early Church Fathers DID mention the Trinity

I apologize for repeating myself, however, I must repeat the truth since Dr. Badawi has repeated a falsehood. The early Church Fathers DID mention the Trinity, or triune nature of God.

Polycarp (70-155/160 AD). Bishop of Smyrna. Disciple of John the Apostle:

"O Lord God almighty...I bless you and glorify you through the eternal and heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be glory to you, with Him and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever" (n. 14, ed. Funk; PG 5.1040).

Justin Martyr (100?-165? AD). Christian apologist and martyr:

"For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water" (First Apol., LXI).

Ignatius of Antioch (died 98/117 AD). Bishop of Antioch:

"In Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom and with whom be glory and power to the Father with the Holy Spirit for ever" (n. 7; PG 5.988). And "We have also as a Physician the Lord our God Jesus the Christ the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For ‘‘the Word was made flesh.' Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passible body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts." (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The ante-nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975 rpt., Vol. 1, p. 52, Ephesians 7.)

Irenaeus (115-190 AD) - who Dr. Badawi implied was a Unitarian in an earlier segment:

"The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father ‘‘to gather all things in one,' and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, ‘‘every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess; to him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all...'" (Against Heresies X.l)

Tertullian (160-215AD) - who Dr. Badawi implied was a Unitarian in an earlier segment:

"We define that there are two, the Father and the Son, and three with the Holy Spirit, and this number is made by the pattern of salvation...[which] brings about unity in trinity, interrelating the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three, not in dignity, but in degree, not in substance but in form, not in power but in kind. They are of one substance and power, because there is one God from whom these degrees, forms and kinds devolve in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (Adv. Prax. 23; PL 2.156-7).

Origen (185-254 AD) - who Dr. Badawi implied was a Unitarian in an earlier segment:

"Moreover, nothing in the Trinity can be called greater or less, since the fountain of divinity alone contains all things by His word and reason, and by the Spirit of His mouth sanctifies all things which are worthy of sanctification..." (Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, p. 255, de Principii., I. iii. 7).

Host: How did he relate Trinity to practice?

Jamal Badawi: He said that the concept of Trinity in practice undermines the devotion of God distracting the mind. God's unity offers us one object for worship and love. The Trinity presents us with three divine agents that are worshiped differently. If Jesus is infinite, he is more interesting than the Father because He is an object of worship which is like us. The Trinity makes Jesus more important than the Father because the Father is the repository of justice while the Son is the brightness of the divine mercy standing against the deity and guilty humanity.

No, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are not worshiped differently, because They are One.

Host: How about the relationship between divinity and humanity?

Jamal Badawi: Channing said that Jesus was like us except that he was distinct because of his purpose. If we accept the Trinity, we make God three beings and Christ becomes two beings creating infinite confusion. Jesus would have two minds and souls. The human part is far removed from the perfection of the divine. He says that some passage in the Bible indicate the humanity of Jesus, but some claim that some theologians point to passages showing the divine qualities of Jesus. Channing said that the only way around this is to harmonize the two, but where did Jesus speak as God and then as man? He said that there is no such passage. He said that Jesus was always speaking about God, did he mean himself? Did any who heard him speak, have imagined that Jesus was the God that he declared himself to be inferior?

Channing was wrong. In John 20:28 Jesus is referred to as both man and God:

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus also declared His own divinity in several other passages:

Mark 14:61-64:

But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death.

Matthew 16:15-16

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Did Jesus object to Peter's statement? No!

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

Host: What were Channing's views on atonement?

Jamal Badawi: He said that Trinitarians denied an important advantage when they looked to Jesus as God because it made an infinite atonement. If Jesus is God, he provides an infinite atonement. When Trinitarians are asked if God suffered and died on the cross, they say that his human body endured the pain. How can we speak of infinite suffering. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Son of Man is infinite? The idea of God becoming a victim is unscriptural. We need no other savior than God. 2 Corinthians 5:10 it says that everyone must appear before judgement, but why if Jesus has offered the infinite atonement? This means that God has lost the prerogative to punish.

The sacrifice of Jesus was made once for all of mankind who are willing to accept this free gift of salvation. Before Jesus died on the cross, He said "it is finished" (John 19:30) - atonement was made at one time and in one place for all who accept Him as Lord and Savior.

What did Jesus mean when he said "It is finished"? Did He mean that His earthly mission was finished? No, the Bible uses the word tetelestai in this passage. What does this term mean? The ancient Greeks wrote this word on tax receipts and other documents to indicate that a debt was paid in full. In our case also, the debt created by our sins has been paid in full. Jesus finished the work of atonement. There are two problems which are solved for us on the cross : the first is atonement (that is to make amends to God for our sins); the second is propitiation (or the turning away of God''s wrath) for our sins. Jesus paid the debt for all sinners on that day outside of Jerusalem. There was, and is, nothing more that needs to be done because Jesus said It is finished - His death is sufficient for salvation.

Host: What were the reaction to the growth of Unitarianism?

Jamal Badawi: The U.S. had more religious tolerance. Channing and others were called heretics. Channing and others insisted that the Bible, if reasonably interpreted, would teach divine unity.

As I have said many times, religious persecution is immoral, whether in England centuries ago, or in the Sudan or Pakistan today. I thank God that we have religious freedom in the United States and the western world. People, including Dr. Badawi have the right to be wrong, however, the Bible does support the Christian belief in the Trinity regardless of how many times Dr. Badawi tells us that it does not.

Andrew Vargo

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