Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is Allah Responsible for the Rise of Christianity?

"And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah ." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain." --- Surah 4:157

Since this passage is vague, there are a few possible explanations as to who swapped Jesus:

1. The Jewish Sanhedrin swapped the real Jesus for a look-alike once they got him behind closed doors and away from the eyes of his disciples.

Response: It seems as though the Quran forgets about the events leading up to Jesus' arrest. The Sanhedrin were not fond of Jesus' teachings, and were especially not fond of his going to Jerusalem during the Passover. Since Jesus had a large following, and to avoid any riots, they wanted to arrest Jesus in secret. According to the Sanhedrin, Jesus was guilty of the highest blasphemy and guilty for threatening to destroy the Temple. Why, we must ask in light of the Quranic passage, would they swap Jesus for a look-alike? Moreover, why would they then proceed to execute this look-alike for the sole purpose of making his disciples think that Jesus had been crucified? And who was this look-alike? Did he volunteer to do this? And where was the real Jesus during all of this?

     The chances of finding a genuine look-alike is extremely rare. Jesus made many appearances prior to his march up to Golgotha, and it seems more plausible that his disciples would have noticed that this was a fake. Some Islamic traditions say that it was Judas Iscariot who was put in his place. However, this is even more unbelievable given that the disciples knew what Judas looked like, and would have noticed when he didn't return among their number. It's possible that this look-alike was very bloody, which would obscure his face better. However, Jesus was presented before the crowd prior to his flogging. Are we to believe that the swap took place after this? Then this would involve the Romans, as if to assume that Pontius Pilate was in on the gig too. Already we have strayed into a nonsense conspiracy theory.

    With the former considered, the question of why an impostor was necessary remains problematic. It seems highly counter-intuitive to not execute the man who you claim is an evil blasphemer. It's as though they were sparing Jesus' life. If they did this for mercy, then why need an impostor to put on a bloody show for the crowd? Why not just arrest Jesus for an extended period of time? Is it because once his sentence was served that Jesus would just return to his so-called blasphemous teachings? Then execute him! If they wanted to give him a life sentence, then why need an impostor to put on a show? The need for an impostor would not serve the Jewish interests, especially given how unlikely it would be to pull off.

2. The disciples offered the impostor when they found out that soldiers were coming to arrest Jesus.

Response: Given the extreme public life Jesus lived,especially his confronting many of the Jewish leaders face to face, it is doubtful that nobody would notice the fake. Again, the likelihood that a convincing look-alike was available is extremely low. But let's say that the disciples had, among their number, someone who looked very much like Jesus and was well acquainted with his teachings. Let's further imagine that this fake convinces both the Jewish leaders and the Romans that he is indeed Jesus of Nazareth. The impostor is crucified and buried in a tomb, all the while the real Jesus is hiding in Jerusalem.

    The problem with this account is obvious: There would have been no empty tomb. Should the real Jesus have made a public appearance again, when things cooled down, then the confused and angry Jewish leaders would simply have to walk to the tomb and find the body still inside. The Jews would have concluded that the man they killed was an impostor. Then it would go back to square one with the Jews attempting to arrest the real Jesus, this time killing the disciples too. A Jesus who remained hidden would be forced into retirement, thus ending his strange and paradoxical ministry. So the disciples saved Jesus' life, but in effect forced him into retirement, thus giving the victory to the Jews in the end. It's all counter-productive.

3. It was Allah who miraculously offered a look-alike, thus fooling the Jews and Jesus' followers.

Response: This explanation would be folly for the Muslim to use, for it is filled with theological problems that turn Allah into a deceiver and trickster akin to the devil himself. Allah couldn't have come up with any other way to spare Jesus' life? Why not send a legion of angles to fight off the soldiers attempting to arrest Jesus? Why not cause the eyes of the soldiers to go blind in the garden, making them unable to reach Jesus?

    The account would go something like this: While Jesus was praying alone in the garden of Gethsemane, Allah created an identical clone of Jesus while exalting the real Jesus into heaven. The clone, upon returning to the disciples, is arrested in their view. Led into the presence of the Jewish Sanhedrin, this clone is charged with blasphemy (with regards to what is a mystery) and sent to Pilate. After a back and forth with the Jews, Pilate agrees to have this clone crucified. As the crucified clone dies, the disciples are convinced that their leader is dead and the Jews are convinced that they executed an evil blasphemer.

    The problem with this account is, again, obvious: What of the empty tomb? Despite the clone dying on the cross, his body must have been placed in a tomb. There would have been no Christianity if there was an occupied tomb, for as soon as the disciples said that the tomb was empty, right to the tomb the Jewish leaders would go to point out the disciple's embarrassing mistake. If Jesus was a prophet of Allah, then why wouldn't Allah comfort the disciples by explaining what he did? Why keep them in the dark about the plan? Moreover, even if Allah did explain what he did, then it wouldn't do the disciples any good, for preaching that Allah exalted Jesus into heaven would not be very convincing given that a body was still in the tomb. Are we to believe that Allah vanished the body inside the tomb too, and rolled away the stone? I could hear the Jewish response: "Are you telling me that God made a clone of Jesus that we killed, and that God exalted a dead corpse into heaven?" 


    All three explanation share in a blunder. How do any of these explanations give rise to Christianity? The earliest claims by the disciples were, "He (Jesus) has risen from the dead" and "Jesus is the messiah". People back then knew the difference between exaltation and resurrection. In fact, no Jew believed that anyone would be raised from the dead prior to the Last Day. So if Allah really did do this, then we would expect to hear the disciples claiming that Jesus was a prophet who was exalted into heaven, not that he was raised from the dead and is Lord. There are no records of Christians claiming anything other than Jesus' resurrection and Lordship. If the Jews offered the impostor, then why would the disciples claim that Jesus had been raised from the dead when a body occupied the tomb? If the disciples offered the impostor then the same problems occur as the former: an occupied tomb means that no resurrection has occurred. Moreover, the real Jesus was there the entire time, so any talk of resurrection would be done with the knowledge that they were lying. The disciples would have to steal the body of the impostor (despite the fact that it was guarded by Roman soldiers), and then give the signal to the real Jesus to 'appear' to them. Only then could the disciples claim 'resurrection' (ignoring the fact that only 'resuscitation' would follow since resurrected bodies became immortal and glorified, not a body that could decay and age). But then this would make Jesus into an accomplice, selling these lies, rather than a holy prophet that Muslims want Jesus to be. Finally, if Allah made a clone to fool both Jew and Christian, then Allah is responsible for Christianity, the same Christianity the Quran claims is blasphemous. It's all nonsense.

    For this, and other reasons, I can never become a Muslim.

* It should also be noted that this Surah could be interpreted to mean that not even the impostor was crucified! If they deny the crucifixion, then the absurdities really take flight!