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

Trinity, Atonement & Blood Sacrifice XXVII : Roots of "God Incarnate" 8


This is the last segment of Dr. Badawi's series of Trinity, Atonement and Blood Sacrifice. This segment, like many of the previous segments, repeats many of Badawi's, or to be more accurate, Francis Young's arguments.

Host: Where in the Bible does Francis Young give examples of how the Logos of Philo of Alexandria had influence on Christianity?

Jamal Badawi: Proverbs 1:20 we find that wisdom is personified, it is crying out in the streets, wisdom is physical. In chapter 8, wisdom invites people to its virtue and that it existed prior to the earth with God. Young said that all of those expressions are strongly suggested of Isis in Egyptian mythology. Isis makes the same claims, wisdom was created and then came to dwell as the Torah. The importance of wisdom is the main difference between Greek and Jewish thought.

Proverbs was written by Solomon who lived five hundred years before the "seven wise men" of Greece, and seven hundred before the age of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Therefore, it is impossible to claim that this passage came from Philo of Alexandria who lived during the time of the Apostles!

Host: How was wisdom explained?

Jamal Badawi: Young says that the Biblical tradition concerning wisdom was transformed by the Greeks into the concept of the Logos - the imminent spirit of God. The Greeks said that wisdom was as pervading all things through its pureness, the death of the power of god an unspotted mirror of god's workings and goodness. Young says that Hebrews 1:3 is similar. One of the attributes of God has become independent and acts like an agent. This is similar to Philo's mystic Judaism. The Torah is described as an incarnation of wisdom. Christ supercedes this in the New Testament.

We have discussed, in numerous earlier segments, that the writers of the New Testament, most specifically John, had no familiarity with the ideas of Philo. So how did these ideas supposedly find their way into the Bible? The fact that Philo and the Bible both use the word "wisdom" does not prove that one copied from the other.

Host: Did Young say that the idea of God incarnate comes more from the Jews than ancient Greek mythology?

Jamal Badawi: Not really, his basic point is that the cultural atmosphere before Christ affected the Greeks and Romans and the Jewish traditions. It was conducive to the idea of God incarnate. He admits that there are no exact analogies made about Jesus by the early Church but he agrees which Knock that the picture of Jesus crystallized the elements that were already there.

Well, if there are "no exact analogies", then how can we make the inferences that Badawi is attempting to make?

Host: Did he specify the elements? Jamal Badawi: Yes, there are 4 basic elements: 1. The idea of using the son of God, for super humans

Christians do not view Jesus as a super human, He is the incarnated Word of God.

2. Ascension of exceptional men to heaven

Jesus was not an "exceptional man" who became God, He was God.

3. Belief in heavenly beings who act as intermediaries

4. The chief of the heavenly beings incarnated and came to earth.

Young says that all of these have been applied to Jesus. Young says that whether we can unearth the exact roots, Jesus was interpreted according to these categories of the Greco Roman world. Modern theologians arrive after painstaking research with what the Qur'an said 1400 years ago. Sura 9:30.

The apparent similarities with Pagan cults are really not very strong. If a Pagan cult believed in a divine being, does that negate the Christian, as well as Muslim, belief in God? We must be very careful when we accept the conclusions of an argument while ignoring the main premise of the arguments (that the supernatural is a myth).

I also doubt that the "Jesus myth" theologians have accepted the Qur'an, which according to their model, is also a myth!

Host: Did the Early Fathers know of these similarities?

Jamal Badawi: This issue was the subject of discussion. John Drapper refers to a man Faustus who addressed St Augustine raising this idea. The early Father did not deny this, it is interesting the way they tried to explain it. For example, Justin the Martyr said that the devil has already learned that in the future, the Son of God will come and to confuse man, he inspired others to make this claim that they were the sons of god. The Last Supper and the practices in other religions like Mithraism, he admits that it was there but said that the devils commanded the same to be done in Mithraism, what Jesus will do in the future. Tertullian said that the devil imitated the divine such as Baptism and Mithra offered a model of resurrection. Where did the devil get the idea of the coming of Jesus?

I am not sure of the point that Badawi is attempting to make. The external appearance of the religious practices of various groups may appear to be similar, however, we need to examine the spiritual meaning of the acts withing the context of the faiths in question. For example, in India, Hindus bathe in the Ganges while Muslims performed wudu ablutions before prayer. Do these actions represent same idea?

Host: How about the responses of other scholars?

Jamal Badawi: More recent scholars have made similar arguments. Bishop Gore says that the some say that the relic of Paganism is found in Christianity, on the contrary, we find Paganism inter mingled in what is false in Christianity. The time before Christianity anticipated its coming. Another response is given by Robertson where he acknowledges the debt to pre-Christian sources, but he says that it is a merit. Greek and Roman thought were needed to appreciate incarnation. The eastern thought also has something to contribute and Christianity awaits the contribution of each and that which is not understood have not been expressed in those religions. There is admission that things attributed to Jesus existed before his birth, the Church was influenced but Satan is to blame. What makes a religion is not based on speculation but the direct revelation, not the contributions of people. Its teaching should be pure.

The apparent parallels between Christianity and Paganism are discussed at length in Paganism and the Dangers of Compromise. Once again, many of the "similarities" between Pagan religions and Christianity were the result of sloppy scholarship practiced at the turn of the century. Many writers applied Christian terminology to describe the practices of Pagan cults. For example, purification rituals were compared to Baptism. Sacred meals were compared to Communion. When Christian terms are used to describe non-Christian faiths, we should not be surprised to find similarities.

Host: Does the influence of ancient philosophy go beyond the idea of God incarnate?

Jamal Badawi: There are other beliefs. Herbert Armstrong says that many of the essential rites were adopted by the Church from others. Christmas - the choice of December 25 relates to the birth of the sun gods. In the 6th century, the date was set. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates it on January 7. Some scholars such as Armstrong say that the way the birth of Jesus is described does not indicate that it was winter. R. Gregory said that Christmas was common in pre-Christian Europe and was adopted in the 4th century. Easter, connected to the spring, the Pagans gave eggs. The Passover, the Jews killed a pascal lamb for thanksgiving, it later assumed a different meaning with Jesus. The time was changed to conform with Roman custom. Another celebration is the Eucharist, which was from Mithraism. The Bible says that the Sabbath is Saturday, now it is changed to Sunday - was that done so that Sunday would be the same as the birthday of Apollo?

Herbert W. Armstrong is hardly a good source for orthodox Christian teachings! Dr. Badawi's citation of this individual shows us, once again, that he cannot provide a rational Islamic counter-argument to Christianity, so he must appeal to the arguments of heretics! Most Christians realize that Jesus was not born on December 25, this is hardly news to the Christian world! By the way, many of Herbert W. Armstrong's followers in the "Worldwide Church of God" have abandoned his false teachings and are, with the prayers of many, moving this organization towards orthodox Christian beliefs. The Bible does not command Christians to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, nor does it tell us to have a Christmas tree, an Advent Wreath, or egg nog. The Western Church simply decided to set December 25 aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus while the Eastern Church set January 7 as the date to celebrate Christ's birth. Perhaps this was done to compete against Pagan festivals that centered around the Winter Solstice. As a Christian, I believe that the days, all of the days, belong to God. Satan does not, and cannot, claim any day as his own. Therefore, when I celebrate Christmas, my mind and heart are focused on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and not on the Winter Solstice, Osiris, Thor, Horus, Krishna, or Buddha. Similarly, the Qur'an does not require that Muslims celebrate the birthday of Muhammad, although many do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our Muslim friends celebrating Muhammad's birthday although I am sure that some Pagan culture somewhere on this planet had a festival on that day which is completely irrelevant!

Host: Are there ancient roots of these things?

Jamal Badawi: Nuns and monks existed in Buddhism and Mithraism, the sun cult's priests sued to shave the tops of their heads. The cross was adopted latter, the Egyptians had a cross before Christ and a cross was discovered in Ireland bearing Mithra. The Muslim accepts the virgin birth, but the notion of God incarnate and other things have been added later. The Qur'an calls for the restoration of the true nature of Jesus.

These apparent similarities have been addressed in earlier segment. A good question to ask at this point is what about the ancient Arabian roots of Islam? The influence of Paganism on Islam is much more direct and disturbing. For example, the Pre-Islamic Pagan Arabs practiced the Pilgrimage to Mecca, fasted during the month of Ramadan, ran around the Ka'aba seven times, kissed the black stone, shaved their heads, practiced animal sacrifices, ran up and down two hills, threw stones at stone pillars that represented the devil, snorted water in and out their noses, prayed several times a day toward Mecca, gave alms, and said Friday prayers. The great translator and Koran scholar Yusuf Ali said "...the whole of the [pagan] pilgrimage was spiritualized in Islam..." (Yusuf Ali: fn. 223 pg. 80). Worst of all, Muhammad commanded his followers to participate in these pagan ceremonies while the pagans were still in control of Mecca (See Yusuf Ali, fn. 214, pg. 78) and told his followers to pray towards the Ka'aba, instead of towards Jerusalem, while the Ka'aba was full of 360 Pagan idols!

Andrew Vargo

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