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

Trinity, Atonement & Blood Sacrifice XXII : Roots of "God Incarnate" 3


In this segment, Dr. Badawi continues in his attempt to convince us the Christian belief, that Jesus is God incarnate, is, somehow, the result of a philosophical compromise between early Christians and those whom they wished to convert. To accomplish his goal, Badawi quotes the works of so called "Christian scholars", "theologians", and "believers". In this segment, Dr. Badawi features Michael Goulder - a former Anglican priest who claimed that the Biblical accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were not written as literal history, but actually belong to a Jewish category of literature called midrash (which, in reality, is a commentary of Biblical verses). Very few people took Goulder's work seriously until, decades later, John Shelby Spong used Goulder's ideas to conclude that the Gospel has been "made captive to Gentile eyes, ... and this has blinded Christendom from understanding their true meaning." Dr. Badawi has conveniently omitted the fact that Christian scholars (and by this I mean actual scholars who honestly believe and profess orthodox Christian beliefs) such as N.T. Wright and James D. G. Dunn have thoroughly refuted both Goulder and Spong.

Host: Where did the sun god myth exist in the immediate environment of Christianity?

Jamal Badawi: I choose two believers, theologians. One is Michael Goulder and Francis Young. Goulder was in Hick's book the True Roots of the Christian Myth and Two Roots or a Tangled Mess. Goulder saw two specific roots in the environment and Young did not contradict him but saw more roots.

First, the sun god myths, as Dr. Badawi incorrectly described in earlier segments, have no correlation with the Christian beliefs or the Old Testament prophecies which predicted the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Second, neither Young nor Goulder are believers in any sense of the term. Young believes that the existence of Jesus is a myth! We have already discussed some of Goulder's beliefs in the introduction. Calling either of these two men Christians or theologians is as absurd as me claiming that Elijah [Poole] Muhammad or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are "Muslims" or Islamic theologians! In my opinion, this demonstrates that Dr. Badawi either does not understand the teachings of Christianity or that he is reaching for any argument out of sheer desperation. In any case, this tactic is intellectually dishonest.

Host: What did Goulder mean?

Jamal Badawi: He had a conflict between faith and reason. Goulder was a Minister who rested his faith on John where the Word became flesh. Where did John come up with this idea? Goulder examined the explanations given by famous theologians and scholars like Bultmann, who believed that it came from a Gnostic redeemer myth or Mithraism, or the Old Testament idea of the pre-existence of knowledge. Goulder concluded that John got this from inspiration (not from God) as he was trying to resolve a difficult problem giving this as a hypothesis. There is a problem because the doctrine of John is mystery which fosters mystery itself. Inspiration does not fit well with historical analysis. There are two basic roots: Galaleean eschatology and the Samaritan Gnostic myth.

It is important to note that Bultmann (along with Goulder and Young) dismissed and rejected most of the Gospels as myths because these books contained accounts of the "supernatural" [miracles] such as the virgin birth of Jesus, His healing of the blind, and His raising the dead. The problem with Badawi's use of these conclusions is that Bultmann's assumptions, on which his conclusions are based, force us to dismiss the Qur'an as well as the Bible because both contain similar "myths"! Once again, Dr. Badawi cannot honestly accept the conclusion of an argument while ignoring the premises on which the argument is based.

Also, on what basis did Goulder "conclude" that John did not write his Gospel through divine inspiration?

Host: Could you define eschatology and Gnostic.

Jamal Badawi: Eschatology is a branch of theology dealing with what happens at the end, death, judgment. Gnosticism began in the early Christians called the Samaritans and grew in the second century which combined mystical and philosophical doctrines of Christianity with Greek and oriental philosophy.

Alright, I will go along with the definition of eschatology.

Host: Who were the Samaritans?

Jamal Badawi: The people of Samaria, these people followed Moses but gradually went away from Jerusalem and became different from the Jews. The Samaritans took the Torah and made limited changes and did not accept any more books after Joshua. Goulder says that the in spite of the fact that they are not mentioned much, they were important people and did have influence of Christian doctrine.

No, the Samaritans were Israelites who intermarried with other groups after the Exile to Babylon. The Samaritans made several changes to the Torah which you can read about in this article. The fact that the Bible does not mention the Samaritans often indicates the relative lack of influence that they had on early Christians as well as on first century Jewish thought.

Host: Why did Goulder feel that the Samaritans did not get much mention in the New Testament?

Jamal Badawi: When the book of Acts speaks about early missions, it talks about Jerusalem, the Gentile world, Judea and Samaria. He noted that the Samaritan mission is only covered in one part indicating that it must have been an embarrassment to Luke. They were a powerful sect of Christians and then they became Gnostic. There was conflict and influence.

This interpretation is pure conjecture. What evidence exists which indicates that the Samaritans, as a group, became Christian and then Gnostic? Also, if the Samaritans were a "powerful sect of Christians", I wonder how Goulder and Badawi explain the Samaritan "theology"? Let's find out!

Host: What was their theology?

Jamal Badawi: Goulder identifies seven things:

1. They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Both Jews and Christians believe in this, so how can the Samaritans be properly called a "powerful sect of Christians"?

2. God cannot experience God in history, only scripture

Christians believe that God can be experienced in history as well as in scripture, so how can the Samaritans be properly called a "powerful sect of Christians"?

3. God's revelations are a mystery

Christians believe that, for the most part, God's revelations are clear. We may call some of His revelations a "mystery" because we do not fully understand them at this point in history.

4. After Moses, God ceased to be active in history, God is abstract

Both Jews and Christians believe that God is active in history to this very day, so how can the Samaritans be properly called a "powerful sect of Christians"?

5. Simon Magous who claimed to be the incarnation of one of the two person of Godhood and he was the power of God in Acts 8:9 and some worshiped him. Goulder claims that he did not copy Paul's ideas. Goulder concluded that dualism and incarnation was a belief among some Samaritans who became Christians.

On what basis did Goulder conclude this?

Host: How did Goulder relate this on the early development on Christian doctrine?

Jamal Badawi: When Phillip went to Samaria he brought the story of the crucifixion. The issue of the cross was a problem to the Samaritans because Christos means anointed King who was to rule. If Jesus is the Messiah, that is a paradox. Peter and Paul justifies this because he appeared to the description of Daniel 7 which says that the Son of Man will suffer and be exalted and have universal dominion. Jesus said that he would come back in this generation. Paul, Mark and Matthew and Luke approached the paradox saying that Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law and became a curse for us removing our bondage to sin. This did not appeal to the Samaritans because they do not accept any other writings and now Jesus is called the descendent of David, they did not believe in him nor do they accept Daniel. The idea of Messiah was a Judean idea and resurrection of the dead was strange for the Samaritans. How could Phillip explain this? Goulder concludes that all of the predictions have been realized in Jesus, so Phillip says that Jesus is a Prophet like Moses, a great power of the Lord came in the form of Jesus.

Once again, this is mere conjecture. The prophecies recorded in Deuteronomy 18:18 would have been irrelevant to the Samaritans since they did not believe that God was active, or would ever be active, in history after the time of Moses! Neither Goulder nor Badawi, who blindly accepts Goulder's arguments, can reconcile the contradictions in their own arguments.

Andrew Vargo

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