Jun 212013
 

The Apostle Paul is the author of about half of the New Testament.  The vast bulk of Christian orthodox beliefs can be traced back to the interpretations and the teachings of the apostle Paul.  Paul however never met Jesus during the  pre-crucifixion period.  He is said to have converted from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a noble defender of Christianity and saint, after undergoing a grand epiphany.  His conversion was occasioned by his vision of the Holy Spirit, a year or so after the crucifixion, who spoke to him and set him on his Christian path.  An enormous amount of authority is given to Paul as a shaper of Christianity in its current form.  From the words of modern Christian apologist such as William Lane Craig, it seems that the inerrancy and authority of Paul is entirely ascribed to his noble conversion story.  It is argued that Paul proved his honesty and his integrity by having forfeited his standing in the Roman state, when he professed his acceptance of Christ.  He traded a position of respect and honour for persecution and dissidence.  Surely, as the argument goes, nothing but true faith could have spurred him to make such a sacrifice.  Paul, after his conversion, became a marked man, living a life of hiding from the authorities. What sane person, it is argued, would trade freedom and power, for dissidence and persecution, unless he truly believed in his cause?

Now let us list the key elements of Paul’s scenario:

1.  Never met Jesus prior to the crucifixion.

2.  Starts out as a persecutor of Christians, in good standing with the authorities.

3.  Has a miraculous vision of the Holy Spirit, which transforms him

4.  Commences a life of preaching

5.  Suffers life-long persecution by the civil authorities for his teachings.

Now let us look at the scenario of Muhammad’s apostleship:

1.  Never met Jesus prior to the crucifixion.

2.  Starts out as an honest trader and citizen of Mecca, in good standing with the authorities.

3.  Has a miraculous vision of the Holy Spirit, which transforms him

4.  Commences a life of preaching

5.  Suffers life-long persecution by the civil authorities for his teachings.

The scenario’s are the same except for (2).  Muhammad led a respectable life as an honest trader and family man, whereas Paul was a persecutor of Christians.

Roughly two billion people in the world today accept and embrace the one scenario, while roughly two billion accept and embrace the other.  Each group shapes its deepest and most sacred beliefs around either of the two scenarios. 

This forces us to look at the core teachings of each of these two revered figures.  Let us tabulate them.

Paul

Muhammad

1.     1.  Jesus Christ is the Messiah of God

         Jesus Christ is the Messiah of God

2.      2. Jesus was miraculously conceived by the virgin Mary

         Jesus was miraculously conceived by the virgin Mary

3.      3. Jesus was crucified, as a symbolic atonement for the sins of all of mankind

         Jesus was spared the humiliation of crucifixion, and each man must atone for his own sins

4.      4. Visions of Jesus after the crucifixion indicate that he was raised from the dead as a proof of his divine nature

         Visions of Jesus after the crucifixion indicate that he survived all attempts on his life, and continued his preaching

5.      5.  Jesus was raised up to heaven

           Jesus was raised up to heaven

6.      6.  Jesus is the eternal son of God, who shares the divine station with God the Father.  

        Jesus represents the word and the spirit of God, sharing the company of God.

7.      7. The Divine Godhead is a Trinity, composed of The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost

        The divine Godhead is a pure unity, and Jesus is the figurative Son of God, His instrument and His medium and messenger.

  

In the end, we have to use our intellect to evaluate the two sets of preachings. They differ in (3), (4), (6) and (7).  Paul’s teachings demand of us to accept as rational, the following:

1.  That a person who died, after having his heart pierced by a Roman spear, regained the ability to regenerate physiological life functions

2.  That God inflicted suffering on his most beloved, in order to expiate the sins of every sinner, oppressor and dictator from the beginning of time to the end of time.

3.  That the divine Godhead has three distinct personalities, who although they have three different wills, really represent one will.

If we clear ourselves of any predisposition, it must be said that Muhammad demands less of a stretch of our rational faculties.

 Posted by on June 21, 2013 at 11:01 am

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.