Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Jesus
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I welcome you once again to Islam and for
today's program will be our 23rd in our series on Jesus, the beloved messenger of Allah
will concentrate in the fifth segment on deification of Jesus, its evolution. And our topic for tonight will be the pre McCann era.
My name is Rashad nimish. I'm your host and here with me once again from St. Mary's University. is Dr. Gemma better with a semiconductor?
For the benefit of our viewers, could you please give us a summary of last week's program? Okay, we discuss the fewer monotheistic faiths of the early Christians. We give a number of examples of people like erroneous, Oregon, Lucien and areas. And we said that all of them actually had the belief that Jesus was a human that is not to be equated with the with God, His creators. And because of the importance of areas in particular, we began to discuss something about his background and how he appeared.
We discussed initially the problems faced by Constantine, and why he started to support the Pauline church. We talked a little about how the Pauline church
grew over time under the protection of Constantine. And with his help. And we indicated that the main purpose behind Constantine support of the Pauline church was simply to try and achieve some sort of unity under his own control, or overlordship.
And in addition to this political aspect, which might explain why so many people followed the Pauline church. We also indicated that the opinions expressed by Paul about the law and the lack of necessity to follow the law, which Jesus Himself disciplined himself and followed it, and made it easier to follow for many Gentiles, the Greco Roman people. On the other hand, the way that Paul spoke about Christ was in terms which sounded somewhat familiar to the Greco Roman mind, because those people used to believe that Gods come in human form and intermingle with, with humans.
I like to ask, what was the reaction of the Apostolic Church, to all these pressures that was
generated generated upon them? Well, to start with, they refused to accept those ideas. They were not convinced of this notion of deification of Jesus peace be upon him. In fact, there was a revolt that took place among the Berbers in North Africa. Because of that, they believed in Jesus as a prophet, the human being not divine. And they said also that Jesus never said anything about Rome being a center for his teaching. The one who led that particular revolt was called donatus. It's d o n, A, T us the latest or the natus, who was chosen as Bishop by his people in the year 313. And actually, he remained as Bishop for 40 years, he was very much, you know, respected by by his
His impact was very great. And according to Jerome, the famous
he said that absolute monotheism, as understood by geneticists and others, became actually the religion of nearly all of North Africa within one generation.
Of course, we would expect that when the natus was chosen as Bishop, and the research team that this, of course was not very much accepted by the Bishop of Rome. So he tried to replace the notice.
The dispute reached Constantine, the Roman Emperor,
who actually supported Rome, for expected Jesus, as one would assume. And this was the first time that we have a secular, secular law issued by Constantine, in fact, to stand
On one side or the other between the various disputing Christian sects. Now, because of Constantine siding with the church of Rome, we find that the population in North Africa did not accept that they rebelled against that decision, and refuse to acknowledge it. acknowledge it. So Constantine tried to make a tribunals where, you know, the the case can be heard. But again, the tribunal itself was under the Bishop of Rome,
when you get one party of the dispute will also act as Judge donatus did not attend, and the decision was taken against him again, his followers in North Africa, ignored the decision by the church of Rome. Constantine tried again to make another tribunal at a place called earliest AR le s, the following gear and the C 114. And that's the following yes to his bishops, when he was chosen as bishop. But again, the notice, for the second time lost
the case, that bias, of course, was obvious there. His followers never accepted any of these decisions. The interesting thing here is that the
bishops of Rome, when they decided against the natus,
they said that this decision code is recorded in the presence of the Holy Ghost and his engines. But when the population in North Africa ignored the decision, they did not resort to the Holy Ghost or his engine. This time, they resorted to Constantine a secular authority in order to enforce their decision. And Constantine, as we know, at that time was still a pagan. So you're not getting to the Holocaust, you're really getting to the, to the pagan Emperor to support your position. Now,
Constantine, however, says that there is a great deal of rebellion, he thought, at one time, even to intervene personally, by going to North Africa and trying to resolve the issue and discuss things with the notice. But he was afraid again, that should his mission, and his personal intervention, going to North Africa said it would be a big blow to his prestige. So instead, he satisfied himself with issuing a decree condemning the notice because of his monotheistic view. And actually, he wrote to him a letter, emphasizing to him then assisity of worshipping the Supreme Being in the proper way. That's very interesting, because here we have a pagan Emperor instructing a Christian, a
learned Christian, a bishop, how he should worship has to worship the proper way to worship deity, which he himself is not, does not really understand. Of course, all of these measures fail to intimidate those monotheists who believe the absolute oneness of God, no person's within God's words.
When all of that failed,
the church of Rome, and with the help, of course of the Emperor began to use brute force to enforce their views. To start with their churches. The churches belong to the notice and his followers. The churches were confiscated. The leaders were exiled. And after one final warning, from the Church of Rome, finally, there was intervention by the Roman army on behalf of the Church of Rome. The Roman army entered into North Africa. Some bishops were killed in their churches, lots of people were masked, slaughtered, and their corpses thrown into wells. And that is why historians say that this church actually was called the church of martyrs.
Now, the difficulty and the I'd say the The irony is that Christians who were persecuted before, because they were Christians, persecuted by the Romans are now being persecuted not because they are Christians, but because they are not the right kind of Christians as defined by the church of Rome with the support, of course of the of the Roman Emperor. So that was quite a turn of events. Well, this, this appears to be a big blow to this church in North America, North America, North Africa, did that. Did that mean the end of the church? Not really, because in spite of all of this mass slaughter of those monotheists constantly, Constantine began to realize that he can no longer
get things by force methods or belief it's too tight to keep pushing for artificial unity by by force.
So he left the North African people to themselves after that, what they suffered. Once the persecution began to be less,
their number increased tremendously, they became quite strong, and they continue to defend their independence against any interference on the part of the Church of Rome. But the remarkable thing about them, as acknowledged or noted by Augustine, St. Augustine, is that at times when the donatist the monetarist became more even than the followers of the Church of Rome, they did not persecute them, even when they outnumber them, they did not treat them the same way. And after the death of donatus,
they continue to follow his example. Until finally Islam emerged. And as you know, Islam very much emphasized the absolute monotheistic faith, the belief that Jesus was an honor, Prophet and Messenger of God. And many of the followers of donatus, readily accepted Islam because they felt that this is exactly what they believed was the teaching of Jesus.
several centuries back was an interesting
History seems like a very interesting development here. But I'd like to know if there was any other movement, aside from the donated church that oppose the Central Church in Rome. They were also some historians, for example, refers to a group of people who emerged in the southern part of Egypt, or what's known now as Upper Egypt, a similar movement which was led by a very courageous priest, by the name of Malaysia, it's m e n, e. t. r US military.
I hope I pronounced that right. When Alexander became the Bishop of Alexandria, he banished militias. And, you know, to the, to the minds, he didn't particularly like his views.
But again, when militias came back, people gathered around him, and they kept supporting him. But when he died, when the leader died,
Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria prevented them from holding assemblies of worship.
As a result, they sent a deputation to Rome to complain against this, you know, interference. And that resulted in two things. One is that by going to Rome, they had an opportunity to meet with the people who were followers of areas, you see that the movement that we're really getting into, which is very powerful movement, in favor of monotheism, absolute and pure monotheism.
On the other hand, that presence also in Rome contributed to some extent, to the needs, or the reasons which led eventually to the health, the holding of the Council of Nigeria,
But of course, we can say that the donatus movement and religion movement, in a way might help by way of background to very, very important movement and a very magnificent role played by areas,
even though speaking about areas might be rather difficult from a historical standpoint, why is that? Why would it be difficult to talk about areas historically, when it is difficult, essentially, because historians tell us that anything that was written in favor of areas or any writing about him, which was returned from a sort of independent or objective assessment, has already been destroyed. And what we have today about areas are almost all that is written about him, basically, all has been written by his enemies, and of course, one would not expect a very fair presentation of what his position, in fact was.
But perhaps, we can differ a little bit to the background behind his emergence.
When analysts began his career, he began it as an ordained Deacon in the church of Alexandria, and he was ordained by the then Bishop Peters, Peters.
But later on, again, because of his views, he was excommunicated.
But when Peters died, the bishop,
his successor, pre appointed areas, again, as a priest this time
it was, however, was highly regarded. He was, you know, tremendously popular to the point that they say that after the successor of Peter died, they expected that it would be the logical successor, and that he could easily become the Bishop of Alexandria, which is a center very sick
African center, of course at that time,
but our use himself did not like to be involved in the process of, of election. And that ended in the choice of a man by the name of Alexander as a bishop of Alexandria, who was a very strong enemy of areas. Now, as soon as he was chosen, as Bishop Alexander began to complain against the beliefs and views of of areas.
he used his authority to get him excommunicated. And in fact, one of the main reasons between Alexander the Bishop of Alexandria and arias was essentially the issue of Trinity. And at one point, he even challenged Alexander to explain it. Would that mean, Dr. Jamal that the concept of Trinity was there even before the Council of Nicea? Yes, indeed. And some people actually believed in the concept of Trinity
without really understanding what a tournament
that's, perhaps the majority of people, a large number of them just accepted it,
because someone taught it to them. But there were those also who very strongly opposed Trinity as unbiblical as something that Jesus never taught. And that include, of course, people, like I mentioned before, the followers of the neatest and malicious areas, for example,
there were others also who tried to explain Trinity in the best way and the way that they thought was best, and their understanding. But the problem was that nobody really was able to explain Trinity in any way, which is free of contradictions.
That's why some historians say that it was challenged Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria, say, All right, come and public and explain what Trinity is. And then they say, the more the bishop tried to explain Trinity, the more he became confused, with more explanation, more confusion.
On the other hand, the areas in his rejection of the notion of Trinity, use not only reason, even use biblical references to support his view, the description itself, the Bible, it's maybe maybe you can give us an idea of the nature of this debate. Well, for example, the history and say that it was started by saying that if Christ was the Son of God, then or the Son of God, you know, that the Father, or the father might say, then the father must have existed before the sun, it follows that there was some period where the sun did not exist. And as such, the sun is a creature, it was created by by God or by the Father, and the one who's created obviously cannot be created himself.
And he said, and since God alone is eternal, and self existence, then it is impossible to say that Christ was of the same essence, as the father as God. And as such, he is a creature, and the creature, again, cannot be God.
Now, they say that Alexander's In response, used to get very angry and lose his temper, and begin to accuse areas.
And of course, that seemed to show a weak case, because you know, if you just get angry and accuse without giving reason, obviously, that means you you can't really give satisfactory at the bottom.
So again, they say that addicts would come back and challenge the Bishop of Alexandria and say, all right, show me with where is the fault and my deduction.
In the face of this irrefutable evidence that it is very eloquently presented. Alexander's resorted to pressure again. So he convened a Prevention Council, or Synod of Bishops, which was attended by 100 bishops,
for the purpose of trying to contend areas,
but it is again, very successfully defended his belief, and indicated that Christ was a creature of God, that He was finite, that he was subordinate to God, that He was subject to change like all human beings, and God does not change. God is immutable. He backed up his position by reference to the Bible, and like I said before, it was not just a region that used to use the scripture also. And he referred or some historian particularly refer to the statement in the Gospel of john when Jesus say the father is greater than I
Further is greater than which means that Jesus said, I am subordinate to my father. And if you might recall in a previous program, we have given much more than that there are a lot more statements made by Jesus that shows his subordination. I do not think by my own authority, I only say what I always speak about being subject to the wealth of his creator, and as such, he cannot be created himself. Now,
it is continued to say that the belief
in view of this biblical references to believe that Jesus, peace be upon him and God are equal,
means that you're denying actually the truth of the Bible, because the Bible doesn't say that. Now, this annoyed Alexander so much the Bishop of Alexandria,
especially when he noted that some of the Eastern bishops started to support our use and find that he's really got a very good evidence. So he used his authority again, and he finally got him excommunicated. Well be interested to know how are you responding to that? When,
in fact, even though he really took a very active role in opposing Trinity, did not really wish to be seen or see himself as merely a deceptive person. But in fact, his sincere conviction was that he is the defenders of the purity of the teaching of Christ. He thought that it is necessary to eliminate
any innovations or documents, which is never thought. In fact, in one of his letters to use the best it spends Eu s e bi us looks like CBS, CBS Hirata letters to him in constant a poll. And that by the way, this is published in Constantine the Great published in 1890. And the author is JB, first if I rth. And actually, the letter survived. He says in that letter, are you caught? We are persecuted, because we say that Jesus has a beginning. Why and God has no beginning. To put it very simply and very, you know, just really, is that the reason you know why you should be persecuted. Alexander, however, used a very harsh language against areas and his and his followers.
For example, He used to say about them, they're possessed by the devil. They curse Christ day and night. I mean, he kept, you know, repeating all this unfounded accusation against them simply because he couldn't make a reasonable or rational rebuttal of what they say or description even for that matter.
But in any case, areas returned to Palestine. And he continued to hold services for his for his followers.
But even then, the attack by Alexander, the Bishop of Xander continued became even stronger. However, the controversy by that time was not only limited to Alexander's versus areas, even the public became very aware of the split and the discussion that went on to the point that some historian one for example, called Gregory of Nyssa, it's ny SS EA.
He said that at that time, if you go on Ask a tradesman concerning something in his shop or his, you know, profession, he will tell you, or answer by a discussion about the generated and con generated being a high theological, you know, argument, philosophical argument. He says, if you go and ask the baker about the price of bread, he will tell you, the sun is subordinate to the Father. If you go to ask your servant, is the bus ready? No hitting lows and all that is the bus ready? It tells you the son arose from nothing. And then he says that sometimes when you get people delivering an absolute monotheism versus Trinity, the one who believe in Trinity would say, great is that we gotten the one
who believes in absolute monotheism says, but greater is He that they got.
But this discussion, the custodian say spread in on all level in every city, they were argument and discussion.
Constantine began to act in order to somehow bring some sort of unity among his his subjects. And that eventually led to the the famous Council of Nicea and 325, which was a very major shift or change in the history of the church. You've mentioned the cost informed Council. What was the purpose behind this council well,
Well, the most important thing in the mind of Constantine was to bring some peace among his subjects, essentially, to prevent unnecessary commotion that may
threaten his authority and his reign.
He did not particularly worrying about who's right and who's wrong. The question of dogma he was a pagan himself, did not concern him that much, at least in that particular stage. Historians say for example, that he tried to write to add us
and telling him that the idea is that arias stitching or this question that he's raising about the humanity of Jesus, so these questions or ideas should have never arisen in the first place, he should have not thought of
thought at all.
And then he says, if they did, they ought to have been buried in silence.
That indicates, by the way, that Constantine
simply thought that the difference between Alexander and arius was simply not really a doctrine of doctrinal difference on basic dogmas or beliefs. But he simply superficially saw that this was merely a verbal or semantic type of arguments between between the two men. Obviously, as historians point out, this attitude on the part of the Emperor showed his ignorance of Christianity and his ignorance of religion in general, you know,
because obviously, the there is a big difference between absolute monotheism and Trinity there's a big difference between believing in Jesus as a prophet and human being subordinate to God who sent him and between believing him as God incarnate or God in human form in this art, tremendous
It appears also that Constantine thought that it doesn't matter really, you can worship God, not necessarily according to what Jesus taught. But even as you please it, he didn't see much difference why why should these people be fussing about that so long as they are devoted and they worship some supreme deity,
whether it's the right guard or wrong guard, that was not really something that concerned him very much.
His basic idea again, was the question of peace. In fact, in one reference, written by JK KKYE combination of Nicea, which was published in 1853. It quotes Constantine in one of his letters, as saying, got the store me my quiet days, and untraveled nights, that I may retain my joy, the gladness of peaceful life. So after Constantine realized that the Pauline church cannot bring about this unity by itself, and because there were some incidents where there was some bloodshed in an exam day because of this difference again in dispute, he thought that he might have called for a religious council to settle this matter, once and for all. It is interesting to notice that his
invitation did not include any of the followers of the Church of donatus. Even though his opponents were invited, and that most of the bishops invited, were illiterate, even though they might have been pious, but in any case, it was a conference all expenses paid.
Very good. Well, thank you very much doctor By the way, and seem to run out of time. And thank you all for joining us here in Isfahan folks. Hope to see you next week inshallah, at the same time, if you have any questions, or if you have any comments on our program, or an Islam or whatever you wish, please don't hesitate to phone us or write us an address will be appearing on your screen. From all of us. Assalamu alaikum