Jesus the Muslim Part 4

AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT?

In fact, the more he researched this subject, the more he found myself thinking of that conversation about the Gospel of John with my priest.I realized that what he had been unwilling or unable to tell me was that the author(s) of the Gospel of John had been lying. This was manifestly not an eyewitness account, though it claimed to be.

I was in a strange situation. I was certainly enjoying the fellowship of the Christians at my church, who were all committed and prayerful people. Being part of a religious community was important to me. Yet I had deep intellectual misgivings about the supposed historicity of the Gospel narratives. What’s more, he was, increasingly, getting a different message from the Gospel sayings of Jesus than that which my fellow Christians were apparently getting.

WRESTING WITH THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

The more he looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels.he found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions.

Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”?
If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? AND — if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following?

“Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18)

Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

(A side note –he had a discussion with a woman who assured me that this passage was not really in the Gospels, and who refused to believe that it appeared there until I gave her the chapter and verse number and she looked it up for herself!)

THE HOLY QUR’AN

In November of 2002,he began to read a translation of the Qur’an.

I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. he had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims.(And very misleading summaries at that.)

Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of eleven was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern.

AUTHORITATIVE GUIDANCE

The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions he had been asking for years about the Gospels.

“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and Wisdom and Prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an 3:79-80)

The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Something had been changed in the Gospels, and that something, I knew in my heart, had been left intact in the text of the Qur’an.

Jesus the Muslim Part 3

CATHOLIC

At eighteen, he headed East for college and entered the Roman Catholic Church. In college, he met a beautiful and compassionate Catholic girl who was to become the great love and support of my life; she was not particularly religious, but she appreciated how important these matters were to me, and so she supported me in my beliefs. he do a great injustice to her seemingly limitless resources of strength, support, and love by compressing the beginning of our relationship into a few sentences here.

AN ENCOUNTER WITH A PRIEST

I asked the campus priest — a sweet and pious man — about some of the Gospel material that had given me trouble, but he became uncomfortable and changed the subject. On another occasion, he remember telling him that he was focusing closely on the Gospel of John because that Gospel was (as he thought then) a first-person account of the events in question.

Again, he stammered and changed the subject and did not want to discuss the merits of one Gospel over another; he simply insisted that all four were important and that he should study all of them… escondido house movers. This was a telling conversation, and a fateful one, as it turned out.

CHRISTIANITY? OR PAULISM?

Now, this is not my life story, but rather my reversion account, so I’m going to fast-forward over a lot of important events. That sweet campus priest eventually married my girlfriend and me, and we settled in suburban Massachusetts. We each moved ahead professionally and became grownups. We had three beautiful children. And I kept reading and rereading the Bible. I was drawn, as ever, to the sayings about the lamp and the eye, the Prodigal Son, the Beatitudes, the importance of prayer, and so many others — but I had steadily more serious intellectual problems with the surrounding “architecture” of the New Testament, particularly with the Apostle Paul. The fact that Paul never seemed to build a theological argument around anything that Jesus (pbuh) actually said was a big, big problem for me.

In the mid-1990s, my wife and he both became deeply disenchanted with the Catholic Church, in part because of a truly terrible priest who gave very little attention to the spiritual needs of his community. We later learned that he had been covering up for a child abuser!

PROTESTANT

I found it necessary to immerse myself in a faith community. he joined, and became active in, the local Protestant denomination, a Congregational Church.

So he led Sunday School classes for children, and briefly taught a Gospel class on the Parables for the adults. In the Sunday School classes for the kids he stayed right with the curriculum he had been given; but in the adult class, he tried to challenge the participants to confront certain parables directly, without filtering everything through the Apostle Paul. We had interesting discussions, but he sensed some resistance, and he didn’t try to teach an adult class again. My wife eventually joined my church. (She is a member there today.)

By this point, he had become deeply affected by the apparent intersection of the Christian mystic tradition and that of the Sufis and the Zen Buddhists. And he had even written on such matters. But there seemed to be no one at my church who shared my zeal for these issues.

FOCUSING ON THE GOSPEL SAYINGS

In particular, I was interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q, and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it.

This is because that narrative material was added many years later.