Question: Earlier Ehrman claimed that pagan myths like Philostratus Life of Apollonius of Tyanna could have influenced how the four gospels were written. Some documentaries from National Geographic & Discovery Channel claim that Christianity borrowed he idea of resurrection and saviors from the Mystery religions and Mithraism. Is Christianity is then just a copy-cat religion?
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Is Christianity is then just a copy-cat religion?
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Faruqi sharpens his critique of the Christian doctrine of God by asserting that Christianity,
eternalizes the revelation of Christ not as a system of ideas that may be God’s will, but as the Christ-event. . . Christianity consistently argues that Christ (i.e. his significance) is not the will of God, nor his command, nor His idea, but God Himself, or rather God co-eternal with God. Christianity is driven to this deifying hypostasis because it eternalizes a real person and a real event. A person may be co-eternal with God, but not derivatively eternal without violating the law of identity. But to violate the law of identity in this instance is to lapse into polytheism (CE 228).
Unfortunately for Faruqi, his objection is only hitting at theological strawmen since Christians are not asserting that Christ is identical with God without remainder in his incarnate state. Indeed, Faruqi’s objection is self-defeating. If he accuses Christianity of eternalizing a historical person, his religious philosophy commits the same logical move by eternalizing the Quran which was revealed to its messenger in 7th century Arabia. Continue reading “A Critique of Ismail Faruqi’s Metareligion and Ethical Analysis of Christianity. Part 3/3”
II. Methodological And Doctrinal Distortions
A. Jesus’ Interiorization of Law
In part 1/3, I highlighted some problems with Faruqi’s methodology as its premises give a distorted reading of Christianity and skew the evidence in favor of Islam. The distortions become evident when Faruqi seeks to rewrite the history of the mission and ministry of Jesus through the lens of his metareligion. Faruqi, like all Muslims, maintains a respectful attitude towards Jesus. At the same time he is persuaded that the “real” Jesus is not that of historic Christianity. For Faruqi, the real Jesus should be based on results of German historical critical method and Quranic sources. One cannot help but notice the irony when Faruqi (and other Muslim apologists) unreservedly appropriates the skeptical results of the historical critical method to critique the bible while at the same time eschewing any application of the same critical method in the study of the Quran.
Faruqi has taken considerable effort to familiarize himself with the works of critics like Joseph Klausner and C. H. Dodd. Unfortunately, his appropriation of historical research is selective and subordinated to an overriding and debatable presupposition that Jesus’ pristine religion was solely aimed at effecting an internal correction of the Jewish legalistic religion. This presupposition allows Faruqi to dismiss any Biblical teaching which he finds personally unpalatable to the corrupting influence of Jewish racialism. Jewish racialism was undeniably a harsh reality in Faruqi’s personal experience. After all, he had to abandon his role as governor of a Palestinian district when the Jews won their War of Independence in 1948. But one wonders if Faruqi has in this matter allowed his unfortunate experience to color his judgment when he analyzes the Bible. Continue reading “A Critique of Ismail Faruqi’s Metareligion and Ethical Analysis of Christianity. Part 2/3”
Ismail Faruqi (1921-1986) is regarded as one of the most trenchant scholarly critics of Christianity in recent times. This estimation is attested by his post-doctoral project on Christian Ethics: A Historical and Systematic Analysis of Its Dominant Ideas (1967). Its 333 pages indicate detailed familiarity with Christian thinkers ranging from Augustine to Barth and Reinhold Neibuhr. His later books on Divine Transcendence and Its Expression (1983), Al Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life (1982), Islam and Other Faiths (1998) and Selected Essays (2018) demonstrate that he is well-versed in matters of Western philosophy and they are replete with sharp criticisms of Christianity. Undoubtedly, his sustained engagement with Christianity is a product of his life experiences, as a Palestinian Arab in Lebanon and subsequently as an American scholar in Harvard University and McGill University. Perhaps he also felt compelled to respond to the vigorous intellectual enterprise among Christian missionary scholars in his time. We shall analyze critically Faruqi’s work as it provides a rare opportunity for Christians to respond to Islamic misunderstanding of Christianity at the level of sophisticated scholarship. Continue reading “A Critique of Ismail Faruqi’s Metareligion and Ethical Analysis of Christianity. Part 1/3”
In response to many requests, I am posting the print edition of an article written when I was much younger, “Pluralism and the Particularity of Salvation in Christ,” Transformation (1998), pp. 10-15. Ah, how time flies and I don’t seem to have grown wiser. To download the pdf version of this print edition: Pluralism Particularity … Continue reading “Pluralism and the Particularity of Salvation in Christ (Print Edition)”
In response to many requests, I am posting the print edition of an article written when I was much younger, “Pluralism and the Particularity of Salvation in Christ,” Transformation (1998), pp. 10-15. Ah, how time flies and I don’t seem to have grown wiser.
To download the pdf version of this print edition:
Pluralism Particularity Salvation Christ Transformation1998
Throughout this paper, it is my assumption that Christianity promotes and practices social tolerance and affirms plurality. What I dispute is the contention that social tolerance is possible only if Christians embrace a prescriptive form of religious pluralism. I shall further address the issue of prescriptive pluralism, henceforth referred to as religious pluralism within the framework of Christian discourse, and analyze the logic under-girding religious pluralism. In particular, I shall argue that religious pluralism is not only internally incoherent but that in seeking the least common denominator, pluralism offers a religious faith that is too dilute to meet religious needs. Finally, religious pluralism entails the abandonment of the central beliefs that historically define Christian identity such as normative revelational truths and the historical particularity of the incarnation of God in Christ. As such religious pluralists represented by major thinkers like John Hick and Paul Knitter have no basis to speak on behalf of Christianity….
…But why should God need to intervene in the human predicament in the first place? How does the Christian teaching of the Incarnation of Christ fit in? Following White I would like to propose the “Criterion of Moral Authenticity” as a means to shed light on this issue. To begin with, estrangement between God and man is overcome not by special knowledge but by a demonstration of perfect love. Given the magnitude of the human predicament, surely such a revelation demands a costly love which does not compromise God’s holiness. It has to be costly love to win over human sin and rebelliousness. But as White asserts, “Unless and until God himself has experienced suffering, death, and the temptation to sin, and overcome them, as a human individual, he has no moral authority to overcome them in and with the rest of humanity.”[Vernon White, Atonement and Incarnation (CUP 1991), p. 38] Continue reading “Pluralism and the Particularity of Salvation in Christ (Print Edition)”