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Thursday, December 26, 2019

St. Stephen's Feast Uncovers the New Dwelling Place for God

by Lawrence Fox 

Today on Dec 26, 2019, the Universal Church commemorates the martyrdom of St. Stephen the Deacon.
It may seem a little strange that on the first day after the Nativity of the Lord, we would celebrate a martyr's death. 

There is a real connection between the birth of Jesus Christ and the death of Stephen.

With the life and death of Stephen (Acts 6-8), the Church reflects upon first, the life of the infant Church; second, the beginning of the diaconate -- the calling and anointing of deacons (diakonoi) within the life of the Universal Church; thirdly, the human and divine desire to build a dwelling for God among His people; and fourth, the Divine Birthday of the Saints.

Stephen is identified in the Acts of the Apostles as one of seven adult males  chosen by the apostles to serve officially within the life of the Church (cf. Act 6:1-7). One can safely say that the Infant Church at this stage after Pentecost was primarily composed of Jewish disciples from Jerusalem, Judea, and various territories from within the Roman Empire (cf Acts 2:7-12). 

Those converted to “The Way” were identified as “devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching (didachē) and to participation in the divine life of the grace of God (koinōnia), to the breaking (klasei) of bread and to the prayers (proseuchais).” (cf. Lk 24:30, 35; Act 2:42)

Stephen was baptized into this infant Church. In faith, he lived as a servant and dwelling place for God by grace.

Stephen was identified as a man full of God’s grace and power working great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. (Acts 6:8) This language is the same language used by St. Paul to identify the apostles. As such, seven men (and subsequently deacons)
did not only “wait upon tables” but they intimately participated in the ministry of the apostles: "the signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.” (2 Cor 12:12)

Deacons were a ministerial succession to the apostles in the life of the Church along with bishops (episkopoi), and presbyters (presbyteroi). (cf. Act 14:23; 1 Pt. 5:1; 2Jn 1:1, Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:2,12) This pattern continues to this day in every movement historically rooted in the apostolic foundations.

Stephen was a profound witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Luke notes that many people attempted to contradict the words of Stephan but could not. Eventually he was arrested and paraded before the Sanhedrin (Act 6:14). Stephen gives a defence of his calling by outlining Salvation History beginning with Abraham’s calling followed by the history of the Patriarchs, Moses, King David, King Solomon, the Prophets and finally ending with the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Stephen identifies the manner in which God willed to intimately dwell among His people
and the manner in which some people of God willed God to dwell among them.

God commanded the building of the Ark and the Tent of meeting (cf. Ex 25-31). David wanted to build God a dwelling place (cf. 2 Sa 7:2). Solomon for 20 years built a Temple (1 Kings 9:10) which was later destroyed and rebuilt (cf. Ezra 3:7-13; Neh 2:11-20). Note: The temple was rebuilt by the horrid King Herod, the Edomite. But God does not dwell in a house made by men. This house would have to be prepared by God.

What is most important are Stephen's words, "David found favour in God’s sight, and asked that he might build a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.” (Acts 7: 45-46) Luke uses these same words in the Gospel. Stephen then goes to explain that God does not dwell in a house made by human hands. God already predestined a dwelling for His Son among men within the womb of a Virgin.

In the Gospel, Luke records the angel Gabriel saying to the Virgin Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive (syllēmpsē) in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus,” (Lk 1:30,31)

Between the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, the reader is able to observe the manner in which grace moved David to desire a dwelling place for God and the manner in which grace enabled Mary to desire and become a dwelling place for God, “Behold, the handmaiden (doulē) of the Lord; may it happen (genoito) to me according to your word.”

The word genoito is Optative in Koine Greek; a word which expresses “desire.” Once Mary understood “the who, the how, and the why” she expressed this desire to be the Mother of the Son of God; the Mother of the Messiah; the Mother of the Redeemer; the Mother of the King of David's House forever. She desired to give the Eternal Word of God the most intimate dwelling place within human nature. In fact Mary’s words, “Behold, the handmaiden (doulē) of the Lord” fulfil several Messianic images within the Old Testament." (Cf. Ps 86:16; 116:16). 

One last point. Stephen is dragged outside the city walls and the members of the Sanhedrin began to stone him. Jesus -- it should be remembered -- was also put to death outside the city walls of Jerusalem (cf. Heb 13:12). Jesus -- being the perfect lamb of God and being taken outside the walls of the city to die -- marks the end of the earthly Jerusalem as the centre of divine worship, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” (Jn 4: 21)

Stephen -- while being stoned -- saw heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7: 57) Stephen reminds the leaders of the Sanhedrin of the words of Jesus Christ, “But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Lk 22:69) Stephen then called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” (Lk 7:59) Within one more prayer imitating his Master he asks Jesus to forgive his persecutors and then dies. This is his birthday in heaven.

Two points, Stephen asks Jesus to "receive his Spirit." Jesus said the same words on the Cross, "Father into your hands I commend my Spirit." (Lk 23:46) He also said to the Good thief, "Today you will be with me in paradise." (Lk 23:43). The saints don't sit around in the ground waiting for paradise. They go straight to heaven.

Paul says, "to be absent from the body is to be home with the Lord." (2 Cor 5:8) And finally the disciple John sees on the Island Patmos the souls of men beheaded for their testimony of Jesus Christ. (cf. Rev 20:4) Those who die in Christ Jesus are home with the Lord; awaiting the resurrection of their body at the end of time. This is the Communion of Saints.

On the day after Christmas, the Universal Church commemorates the Church's infancy, desire for God, becoming a dwelling place for God, the role of servants, and our destined eternal birthday -- all compacted together.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Politics of Optical Cross Connection (OCC)

A Parody of What the Homosexual Lobby did to Psychiatry in America in the 1970s

by Lawrence Fox 

Not too long ago, the American Optical Association (AOA) -- a team of experts on the operation of human eyes and the role of human vision as one critical perception of reality -- identified Optical Cross-Connection (OCC for short) as an inordinate condition; something which required examination, medical attention, and counselling.

Persons who were diagnosed with OCC could not distinguish between real "left" and real "right." In extreme cases, "left" and "right" blurred their perception of "‘centre." Obviously the condition known as OCC prevented a small percentage of persons from various forms of activities where optical left had to be absolutely left and optical right had to be absolutely right, while centre had to be absolutely centre.  

In many cases people with OCC were misunderstood and marginalised. Be that as it
may, movements were started within society to remove the stigma associated with OCC; along with other forms of diagnosed stigmas.

Pressure from such movements became so great that the AOA eventually voted (six to four) to remove language which identified, Optical Cross-Connection as an inordinate condition; something which required examination and medical attention.” This decision was not accepted by all opticians and so the debate continued.

This ruling was very perplexing to people who sensed and reasoned that optical left was indeed left, optical right was right. And centre was dead centre.

Some resistance emerged in society over the AOA decision. To overcome this resistance, rallies, sit-ins, and very vocal marches were held. It was not long before “scientific” journals and articles by AOA members were generated stating, “left is right and right is left when viewed in a mirror and therefore the notions of left and right are completely subjective in nature.” It was also argued that, “the eyes of insects -- cousins to humans -- optically collate scenery with no reference to left or right.

Given the greater number of insects in nature -- compared to other two eyed creatures -- research dictates that OCC should be considered not only normal but more than normal when compared with the number of two-eyed creatures possessing Direct Correlating Vision or DCV for short.

A growing number of OCC persons became members of the AOA; in fact, the ratio of OCC membership swelled within the ranks of the American Optical Association.

With this change in the quantitative ratio between OCC and normal persons, the AOA began to consult with various government agencies guiding them to make laws removing all forms of restrictions placed on OCC persons and to remove all perceived stigmas. 

In the mean time, AOA continued to hire people specifically sympathetic to the normalisation of OCC throughout the whole of human society.

As time moved on, state and federal governments passed laws restricting the publication of research journals which identified the origins of OCC, the difficulties associated with OCC and/or identified OCC as something treatable (able to be corrected). 

Opticians who specialised in the treatment of
OCC patients were categorised in a very negative light and even barred from AOA-sponsored events. OCC members of the AOA generated commentaries to support laws  directed against opticians who said OCC was treatable. 

Sometimes the persecuted opticians pushed back by saying these commentaries-- identifying OCC as normal -- were simply a form of circular polemics and not science. 

The battle continued. Within one generation, governments ended up installing mirrors on streets, buildings, and in libraries to help persons with “direct correlating vision” (or DCV for short) to view “reality” in the same manner as OCC persons. Signs were also installed stating, “Please watch were your step, your path may be crossed.”

This is a spoof of the American Psychological Association, which in the 1970s made the resolution that being gay was not a mental illness, that it was characterological, that is, it is related to personality and character. See 

A Child's Right to Mom and Dad: Why Kids of Gays Oppose Gay Adoption

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Puppet Jesus in the Quran

The Quran's Jesus

The Real Jesus answers the Islamic Apologist 

by Lawrence Fox
Dedicated to my adopted Indian grandson, Allan Ignatius, who was asked this question on Facebook.

“Where in the New Testament does Jesus, the son of Mary, say to the people, ‘I am God?’” an Islamic Apologist asked. Such a question is disingenuous. Why? He is refusing to believe how the apostles identified Christ— even when Christ Himself confirmed what they are saying is true. 

The Quran denies all the language of the gospel recognising that Jesus is Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father. Some Muslims will even claim they love Jesus more than Christians do. But, in fact, the Jesus they love is imaginary. It was created by the 6th century religious leader Mohammad.

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who
rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Lk 10:16) Jesus Christ is quite clear — as the apostles speak so does Jesus Christ. 

The good deposit of apostolic faith (oral and written) identifies Jesus Christ -- in union with Thomas the Apostle, as “My Lord and My God.” (Jn 20:28) 

Thomas had insisted “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (Jn 20:27)

"My Lord and my God!"
When the risen Jesus appeared to him a mere week later, and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” Thomas exclaimed with the whole believing Church, “My Lord and My God!” (cf. Jn 20:28)

Let us not forget the prologue of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (Jn 1:1-4). Such language presents the pre-existing Word of God (the Son) as being one in essence with the Father. Such language represents the Church listening and hearing the words of Jesus Christ and thereby professing “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2: 6)

St. Paul confirmed it: “For in Him [Jesus Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Col 2:9)

But five centuries later, the Quran -- composed in the Arabian desert with no substantial connection with Judaism or Christianity -- places a wedge between Jesus Christ and His disciples:

O you people of the book! Overstep not bounds of religion, and of Allah only speak the truth. The Messiah Jesus, son of Mary is only an apostle of God, and his [Allah’s] Word which he conveyed into Mary and a Spirit proceeding from him. Believe in Allah and his apostles and say,  ‘Not Three’ there is a Trinity -- Forbear it -- it will be
better for you. Allah is only one Allah! Far be it from his glory that he should have a son. (Sura 4:168-169 Rodwell)

Note: Unless otherwise noted, the translations of the Quran into English have been taken from J.M. Rodwell’s The Koran, re-issued in 1994 St. Martin’s Lake London,Phoenix Paperback,1994.

The Islamic Apologist is not interested in what the apostles confess about Jesus Christ. As such, the Islamic apologist is not really interested in what Jesus Christ says about Himself. The question, “Where in the New Testament does Jesus, the son of Mary, say to the people, ‘I am God?’”is designed to undermine a Christian’s faith in Jesus Christ since it ignores Jesus’ direct response to those who believed in Him. 

Jesus is the Judge of Human Understanding

Thomas probed the wounds in the hands and side of the risen Christ and then professed, “My Lord and my God.” 

Jesus responded to this profession of faith, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (Jn 20: 26-29) In this instance, Jesus is affirming the words spoken to Him and about Him, “My Lord and My God.” Such an affirmation should be enough of an answer to the question posed by the Islamic Apologist, but there is a lot more. 

Jesus Christ while journeying towards Jerusalem asks His disciples, “Who do you say I Am?” (Matt: 16:15) Jesus is going to judge whether their answer is correct. Simon Peter says, “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16) Bingo! 


Jesus confirms that answer is true. “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.” (Matt 16:17) Jesus Christ informs his listeners that Peter’s profession of faith was inspired by “My Father in Heaven.” So far there are now five affirmations made by Jesus Christ about Himself, “Lord,” “God,” “Messiah,” “Son of the living God” and “My Father in Heaven.” 

And then to emphasise the truth, He gives Peter the keys of authority. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ (Matt 16:16-20).

But this is not all. Jesus Christ corrects Phillip when he is mistaken in His identity. Phillip the apostle, says, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (Jn 14:8) Jesus said, “Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know Me Philip?” Jesus goes on to say:

He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. (Jn 14:9-12) 

Identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd, Who lays down His life for His sheep, Jesus announces, “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30) At that moment the Jews picked up stones to kill Him!  They understood what He said: “We are not stoning You for any good work,” said the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because You, who are a man, declare Yourself to be God.” (John 10:33) 

God completely transcends creation. Only the substantial entry of divinity into creation can mediate this transcendence. This is what is captured in John’s Prologue, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory.” (Jn 1:14) If the Father is by nature God, then to see Jesus Christ is to see God in the veil of human flesh and blood:

"On many past occasions and in many different ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So He became as far superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is excellent beyond theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father”? Or again: “I will be His Father, and He will be My Son”? And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all God’s angels worship Him.” (Heb 1:1-6)

But the Quran absolutely rejects the language of Father and Son when speaking about God and the things of God. This is because  the divine being revealed in the Arabian Desert (Allah) is a unitarian and solitary essence, and individual thinker, “Allah! There is no Allah but He!” (Sura 20:7) 

But Jesus Christ affirms and re-affirms His identity: “Lord,” “God,” “Messiah,” “Son of the living God,” “To see Him is to see the Father,” “The Father and I are one,” “I am in the Father,”and the “Father is in Him.”  There is another way in which the question by the Islamic Apologist is most disingenuous and that has to do with the relation between Divine Revelation and the Person of Jesus Christ. 

All Things Written Are Fulfilled by Jesus Christ

“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’”(cf Lk 24:44) This is an extremely audacious claim. This implies everything that was written before has an end or completion in the Person of Jesus Christ, who said,  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (Jn 14:6) For those who have doubt that Jesus said such a thing, one only needs to recognise the manner in which the disciples of Jesus Christ first identified themselves as “the Way” (cf. Acts 9:2, 9,23; 24:14,22).  In fact, the whole new Testament is written with an eye on the words and deeds of Jesus Christ anticipated in the words and deeds of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalmists. This can be observed in the manner in which the various writers quote the Old Testament along side the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. Here are  a few such examples.

The very birth of Jesus is rooted in prophecies from the the Old Testament. The Magi came to King Herod asking, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet (Micah 5:1), ‘And you Bethlehem, Land of Judah are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” (cf Matt 2:1-7)  

Matthew also cites the writing of the Prophet Isaiah in connection with the birth of Jesus. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Is 7:14) The word “Immanuel” means “God with us.” The New Testament identifies Jesus Christ as “God with Us.” The Quran does not. 

The literal fulfilment of the words of the Prophet Isaiah are found in the Person of Jesus Christ, “So the Jews said to Him [Jesus], ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” (cf. Jn 8:48-59) In this passage, Jesus identified Himself with the eternal name of God, and the Jews recognised that, so they tried to stone Him. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Ex 3:14) Jesus Christ identifies the revelation given to Moses on the Mountain (God coming to His people) as being fulfilled in Him in a substantial way. He is the suffering servant come to redeem mankind. 

Isaiah the Prophet speaks of the suffering servant who brings healing to the nations, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (cf. Isaiah 53:1-12) Jesus Christ says such words are fulfilled in Him, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (cf.Lk 24:26) and again, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (Jn 12:32) The Quran — on the other hand — denies the crucifixion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Cf Sura 4:156)
The Quran denies the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Jesus, says that the words spoken by Moses, the Prophets and the Psalm are fulfilled in Him, but the Quran teaches there is no development of revelation after Abraham.  “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us (Quran) and that which was sent 
down to Abraham, and Ismael and Issac and Jacob and the tribes . . . and given to Moses and to Jesus and the prophets . . . No difference do we make between any of them and to Allah are we resigned.”
(Sura 2:130) 

In other words, there was no advance in divine revelation about God and the things of God from the time of Abraham to the time of Mohammad. The Quran says nothing is fulfilled by Jesus Christ, but contradicts itself when it argues that Mohammad was prophesied by Jesus and the Old Testament Prophets (cf. Sura 7:156, 61:6). It is a circular argument, making the question posed by the Islamic Apologist most disingenuous. It amounts to straining a gnat and swallowing a camel (cf. Matt 23:24). 

Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Living God?

Jesus Christ -- while under oath -- identified Himself as “Son of God and sitting at the right hand of the Father” (cf. Matt 26:62-66). The Quran denies this emphatically, stating, “and in their ignorance they have ascribed to him (Allah) sons and daughters. . . Sole maker of the heavens and the earth how when He has no consort should he (Allah) have a son?” and again, “And they say, Allah has a son: No! Praise be to him.” (Sura 6:100,101, 2:110, 19:36, 21:26, 37:149, 39:6, 72:3) 

The question posed by Islamic Apologists is little different from the question posed by the Jewish High Priest Joseph ben Caiaphas, “I charge you [Jesus] under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God?’” (Matt 26:63). In response to the question Jesus says, “You have said so. But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt 26:64)

Jesus Christ’s answer to Caiaphas affirms that He is “Messiah,” “Son of God,” and “Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One.” The association of “Messiah” with “Son of God” demonstrates that Caiaphas is not speaking about an angelic nature nor a human person. Note: The angels are identified as “standing or worshipping before the throne of God,” never sitting. Sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One is possession of divine glory. (cf. 1 Kings 22:19)

Jesus’ answer is drenched with the principals of Christology — The hypostatic union of the divine nature and human nature in One Divine Word, Who is one substance (essence) with the Father. This is exactly what is found in the very ancient Christian doxology familiar to the Christians living in the town of Philippi:

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:5-9)

The expression “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess” fulfils the words of Isaiah 52:13, “Behold, My Servant will prosper; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted,” and again with Isaiah 45:23, “By Myself I have sworn; truth has gone out from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess allegiance.”  Can there be any wonder the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus Christ of blasphemy?

Reports About Jesus of Nazareth

Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin received a plethora of reports about Jesus of Nazareth, which is why they commanded Him to speak under oath as to His identity as Son of God.  Such reports flowed into Jerusalem from all over Judea and Galilee beginning with John the Baptist at the River Jordan -- who proclaimed Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the world.” (Jn 1:29, 36)  

Only God takes away sin.“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Is 1:18), and again “I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake and remembers your sins no more.” (Is 43:25) The Quran never identifies Jesus Christ as the source of man’s redemption and forgiveness of sins. Instead Jesus is only a prophet. “Jesus is no more than a servant whom we [Allah] favoured and proposed as an instance of divine power to the children of Israel.” (Sura 43:59) 

The Sanhedrin sent emissaries to John to determine his mission (cf Matt 3:7). John the Baptist told his own disciples,
“When Jesus was baptised, I saw the heavens open and the Spirit of God descend like a dove [and] coming upon Jesus and I heard a voice from heaven say. ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matt 3:17)

John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod. This Jesus knew. Caiaphas knew what John the Baptist said about Jesus. This, too, Jesus knew. When Jesus responded affirmatively to the High Priest’s question, “Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God?” Caiaphas tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ ‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.” (Matt 26:62-66) The Quran conveniently removes the content of Jesus’ trial and revises the passion narrative in an attempt to side-step what has just been stated in the New Testament. 

They denied the truth and uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared: ‘We have put to death the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.’ They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought that they did. Those that disagreed about him were in doubt concerning his death, for what they knew about it was sheer conjecture; they were not sure they had slain him. But Allah lifted him up to his presence; He is mighty and wise. There is none among the people of the Book but will believe in him before his death; and on the day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them. (Sura 4:155-156)

Islamic Apologists are faced with the conundrum: (1) Jesus affirms, “He is the Son of God” and (2) His disciples preach, “Jesus is the Son of God” and (3) the Sanhedrin put Jesus and His disciples to death for saying, “Jesus is the Son of God.”  But the Quran denies the expression “Jesus is the Son of God.” “And they [Christians] say, Allah has a son: No! Praise be to Him!. But His, whatever is in the Heavens and the Earth! All Obeyeth Him.(Sura 2:110) 

This conundrum identifies the manner in which the question posed by the Islamic apologist is pedantic and disingenuous especially since Jesus Christ not only identifies Himself as “Son of God” but also as “begotten of the Father.”

God So Loved the World

Jesus Christ while speaking to Nicodemus stated, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
(Jn 3:16-17) This expression “begotten of the Father” the Quran emphatically denies, “Say: ‘He is Allah alone, Allah the Eternal! He begets not [no one] and He is not begotten and there is none like unto Him” and again “It beseemeth not that Allah beget a son, Glory be to him!”(Sura 112: 1-4, 19:36) Here again the Quran rejects the words spoken by Jesus Christ. 

What was the context of the words spoken by Jesus? Nicodemus, who was a reticent follower of Jesus due to his position in the Sanhedrin, came to Jesus puzzled by His words and deeds, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (Jn 3:2) Nicodemus had an incomplete understanding of the events surrounding the life of Jesus to which Jesus replies, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jn 3:3) Jesus informs Nicodemus that he must be born again from above (baptised) in order to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ words and deeds.

Now let us go deeper into the meaning of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus regarding: “begotten of the Father.”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (Jn 3:16-17) The
implication of such language is obvious which is why modernist theologians argue that these words are simply a profession of faith placed on the lips of Jesus by His disciples. As noted above the Quran rejects such language, “Allah the Eternal! He begets not [no one].” But taking a second look, the words spoken by Jesus Christ to Nicodemus fit perfectly -- especially since he is a “teacher of Israel” and member of the Sanhedrin. Why?

David, Jesus, and Nicodemus

As noted above, Jesus said, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (cf Lk 24:44) The Old Testament Psalms speak about a promised King begotten by God, “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.’” (Ps 2: 7,8) Nicodemus knows that the words of King David were both personal and prophetic; something pointing to and fulfilled by the future Messiah. This is why he seeks out Jesus Christ because if one takes the words of the prophet too literally one may consider“Messiah,”“begotten of the Father,” and “son of the Father” as being synonymous. That is a problem for a Jew like Nicodemus trying to maintain the absolute transcendence of God from creation. The Quran is  likewise confused on this matter since it retains the term “Messiah” when speaking about Jesus, son of Mary, while at the same time denying the language “begotten of the Father.” The Quran doesn’t know that Messiah means “Son.” Jesus seeks to remove the doubt from the mind of Nicodemus, but this distinction flies right over the head of the authors of the Quran. 

Jesus confronts the Scribes and Pharisees asking them to solve the prophetic riddle, “What do you think about the Christ [Messiah], whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of
David.” Jesus then asked them,“Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The LORD said to my LORD, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet?” (Matt 22:41-45) How is it that the Messiah, son of David, identified by David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is also“LORD”? Is this Messiah pre-existing? Is the Lord God of Israel identifying the Messiah as Lord? Jesus’ question exposes a mystery which is unfolding before the people of Israel; a mystery which involves the Messiah as begotten of the Father.  Note again the language of “son” and “sitting at God’s right hand” both appeared in the discourse between Jesus and the High Priest Caiaphas. Be that as it may, what is most puzzling to the non-believer is the language “the LORD said to my LORD.” How would this language be fulfilled in the Messiah? 

Jesus then goes on to ask, “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” Matthew then notes that no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. In this dialogue, Jesus identifies two Psalms as being fulfilled in Him, “the LORD said to my LORD” which means the MESSIAH is both SON and LORD; both son of David and Son of God. The answer to this riddle is found within the Virgin Birth and the proclamation, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” This is the identical language which Jesus is conveying to Nicodemus -- who was both a representative of the Sanhedrin and a “teacher of Israel.” (cf Jn 3:13) The Quran is aware of the language and rejects it. But there is more to irritate the Quran authors than just Jesus identifying Himself as “Messiah,” “Son of God,” “begotten of the Father” and “sitting at the right hand of God.” 

Relationship between Son and Father

Jesus of Nazareth even at the young age of twelve identified Himself as “Son of the Father.” (cf Lk 2:49) This may explain why the Quran attempts to identify Jesus as speaking from the crib as an infant Muslim. Be that as it may, each year

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover. When Jesus’ parents began to make the return trip back to Nazareth, Jesus stayed behind in the temple. The parents of Jesus thought that maybe the boy was with their relatives in the caravan but he remained in the temple listening to the teachers of the law and asking them questions. When He was found, Mary informed Him that they were looking for him anxiously. Jesus responded,  “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?” (Lk 2:49)

Jesus’ language startled even his parents, “But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.” (Lk 2:50) But “His mother treasured all these things [Jesus’ words and deeds] in her heart.” (Lk 2:51) In other words, Mary is the source of this narrative in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus was not speaking as a Jew about God in the generic sense but speaking about His Father in Heaven. The Quran on the other hand does its best to deny this relationship by identifying Jesus simply as Son of Mary; which while true is also not the whole story.

The Quran never identifies Jesus as “Son of God,” “Son of the Father,” nor as “Son of David.” This implies that the author of the Quran knows the implications of such language; so did those who observed Jesus’s deeds and heard His words. They correctly concluded, “He was not only breaking the Sabbath but was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” (cf. Jn 5:18) 

Jesus Speaks and Saul is Converted

The Islamic Apologists ask the question, “Where in the New Testament does Jesus identify Himself as God?” What is sometimes missed in the question is the fact that  Jesus speaks even after the Ascension. For example, Saul of Tarsus set out to imprison Jews proclaiming Jesus Christ to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Saul was thinking and acting essentially as a zealous Islamic Apologist. 

On the way to Damascus, Saul encounters the risen Christ who says to him, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?”
(Acts 9:4) Saul replies, “Who are you sir?”  He replies “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” 

Saul is blinded and converted and then Jesus sends him into the city to a man named Ananias to be healed and baptised. The Lord Jesus speaks to Ananias telling him to prepare to meet the great persecutor of the Church. Ananias is afraid but the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.” Saul arrives, Ananias preaches to him and baptises him. Paul becomes a great apostle,  “Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?”  (Acts 9:20-21) 

In the midst of the Church’s great persecution, Jesus also comes in the Spirit to another disciple imprisoned on the Island of Patmos.

John, the author of Revelation, identifies Himself as being lifted up in the Spirit. He then has a vision of the Glorified Jesus Christ. “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.’” (Rev 1:17). Interestingly, the Quran identifies “Allah” in the same manner, “He [Allah]is the first and the last; the seen and the hidden and he knows all things.” (Surah 57:3)  If the expression “first and last” implies “divine nature” then Jesus specifically tells John, “I AM.” Here is a case where the Quran borrows from the New Testament without knowing who is speaking the words, “I am the first and the last.” 

 Quran and Imaginary Conversations

Islamic apologists argue with absolute certainty that Jesus, the son of Mary, in no way identified himself in the New Testament as God. If the New Testament is filled with words and deeds denying the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Quran should quote them verbatim and not skirt around them. But it does not. In fact when one explores the Quran one finds nothing more than imagined conversations between Allah and Jesus and imaginary  conversations between Jesus and his disciples.

Jesus the Infant Muslim

The Quran identifies the new-born Jesus as a Muslim and follower of Allah, “‘O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.’ So she pointed to him. They said, ‘How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?’ [Jesus] said, ‘Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive. And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.’” (Sura 19:29-32 Sahih)

To prove that Jesus was only a prophet and Muslim, the Quran imagines the infant Jesus speaking as a man. Such an example would only confirm a Gnostic notion of Jesus being a pre-existing demiurge only appearing with a human nature. Such language is clearly not in the New Testament but is quite similar to the content of the “Arabic Infancy Narrative of Jesus” which reads, “He was lying in His cradle and said to Mary His mother: ‘I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Logos, whom thou hast brought forth, as the Angel Gabriel announced to thee; and my Father has sent me for the salvation of the world.’” But the Islamic  imagination is not simply rooted in the past but also in the future. 

Future Jesus is Muslim

Allah in the Quran — trying to prove Jesus was only a prophet and not the son of God — dictates: “And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, ‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’ He will say, ‘Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it.You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.’” (Sura 5:116-118) 

Such recital is simply a circular argument since it is an imaginary conversation. “I said not to them except what You commanded me -- to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.” (Sura 5:117) Here Jesus sometime in the future is identified as telling Allah, “I am a Muslim Prophet and those who followed me got things all confused.” [my words] 

Ignoring the Context

Allah in the Quran identifies Jesus, speaking to the people, “And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear Allah and obey me. Indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path.” (Sura 44:63, 64) 

The expression “My Lord and Your Lord” is also found in the previous quote “I said not to them except what You commanded me -- to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” (cf. Sura 5:116,117)  Islamic apologists point out that the expression, “Allah is my Lord and your Lord” as evidence that Jesus was only a Muslim. Both text are simply a revision of what in found in the Gospel of John, when Jesus appears and speaks with Mary Magdalene, “Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” (Jn 20:17) Islamic Apologists argue that the implied dual relations “My Father and your Father, My God and your God” -- or as found in the Quran “My Lord and Your Lord” -- demonstrate against the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

This is quite silly given the fact that the context for the conversation is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion and death and burial which the Quran and Islam categorically deny (cf. Sura 4:155-156). It is also quite silly since “Allah” is never identified as “Father.” It is silly since the Quran completely misses the point that in everything, which belongs to Christ Jesus by nature He shares with those who believe in Him:

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (Jn 17:18-21)

Another Day in the Future

Allah in the Quran — seeking to further undermine the real miracles of Jesus Christ and His actual crucifixion — doubles down and dictates: 

[The Day] when Allah will say, ‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favour upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, ‘This is not but obvious magic.’” (Sura 5:110)

It is imaginary speech. But the Quran uses conversations between Jesus and His apostles to show they were all Muslims — even before the word Muslim existed. 

Jesus, the Muslim before There Were Muslims

Allah in the Quran dictates, “But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them [the apostles], he said, ‘Who are my supporters for [the cause of] Allah?’ The disciples said, ‘We are supporters for Allah. We have believed in Allah and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].’” (Sura 3:45)

The word “Muslim” is used six centuries too early. It is anachronistic. Plus the language used does not in any way resemble any such conversation between Jesus and His disciples in the New Testament. In fact the nearest text to such an imagined conversation would be in the response to Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.  (John 6:55-56)

This caused many of Jesus’ followers to abandon Him: “So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:61:70) 

Hardly an admittance that those who remained with Jesus were muslims or worshippers of Allah, the unitarian solitary being emerging from the deserts of Arabia six centuries later. 

Flee from the Stranger

Islamic Apologists ask, “Where in the New Testament does Jesus, the son of Mary, say to the people, ‘I am God?’” Once you allow Jesus to respond directly to his disciples, the question is seen for the deception that it is. 

Perhaps their question will allow us to share the frustration of Jesus when He met with the same unbelief among the Jews.

"So the Jews gathered around Him and demanded, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ [Messiah, Son of God], tell us plainly.”
“I already told you,” Jesus replied, “but you did not believe. The works I do in My Father’s name testify on My behalf. But because you are not My sheep, you refuse to believe. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”  (John 10:24-30)

And perhaps we can sympathise with the Muslim apologist — greeted with complete disbelief and horror — by the Christian wholly in love with Jesus Christ. 

“Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen for his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognise his voice.” (John 10:1-5)

Flee from the stranger! That is the proper Christian response to the Quran. 

Lawrence Fox has a Master's Degree in Sacred Theology from the International Theological Institute, Trumau, Austria 

To See More Posts on the Quran by Lawrence Fox see Faithful Disciples of the Prophet Strike Again