Jesus 32 – Later Unitarians 6 Joseph Priestly
Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Jesus
File Size: 6.96MB
Welcome, again to Assam focus
today, our programs are doing second series on Jesus, the beloved messenger of Allah. Our topic today will be our sixth on the later Unitarians. I'm your host Sharpton wish. And we're happy to have once again from St. Mary's University, Dr. Jamal freedom SLI conduct.
As you'd like to start our program at digimarc, could we have for the benefit of our viewers a summary of last week's program? Sure. We spent some time discussing the contribution of the famous john Locke, no one was famous for his writing on the social contract of the 17th century, who objected to people who in religious dialogues always
take refuge in the notion of mystery. And he said that parts of humanity seem to be very fond of mysteries, and that they like best what they understand least,
Thomas Edlund also will discuss how he was persecuted because he said that Jesus derived his power and authority from God alone.
And also because of saying that God, as used in the Bible use is used sometimes not in the sense of the Supreme God, but rather someone who was invested with subordinate authority. And he says that this is the meaning where Jesus even was referred to by some as God. And that in fact, Jesus Himself used the term referring to the father as my God, which shows that he is subordinate to him. We discussed also the contribution of CFLs linzi, who emphasize that the Holy Spirit is basically a gift that was given to Jesus but not part of divinity at all. And that if one review is the first three synoptic gospels, there is no single reference to Jesus calling him God. And even the fourth
gospel in john, with the exception of the first introduction, we find that Nowhere is Jesus referred to or given the title. God, on the contrary, is referred to as subordinate to God deferring always to his father, as you might say, and that would lead us to another person. We mentioned last time, who attended the services,
presided over by john Minzy mentioned, Benjamin Franklin, and another important theologian. That is Joseph Priestley.
So I'd like to start with Joseph Priestley find me, could you give us first maybe some idea about his background. When Joseph Priestley was born near Leeds in 1733. He was raised as a strict Calvinist. His teachers in the school, however, disagreed about or did not agree, I should say, with all the doctrines of the Church of England.
It was he was particularly interested to become a priest. So he studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
He was not accepted in the universities, which refused anyone who did not subscribed to all the doctrines of the church. So finally, he went to an academy which was a bit more open,
where he was exposed to the writings of people like areas servetus huzzah. zini, we talked about these people before.
In fact, he was influenced by their writing and he concluded, like them, that the Scripture is that the Bible does not provide any sufficient basis really, for the concepts of Trinity or the document about the atonement, through blood sacrifice, and sacrifice of Jesus or god man dying. Like servetus Joseph, Nancy was a man with many tenants.
He contributed a great deal to chemistry, he is hailed as the discovery of oxygen in 1774. He discovered subsequent subsequently other gases, which made him very famous as a chemist,
but like several others, who was also very famed physician. His main interest was really in theology. In fact, he did serve as ministers
or Assistant Minister for some time, and then it was discovered that he held Unitarian views so he was
dismissed. But he managed to get another job as a minister for three years in which he became famous as a good teachers, good preacher. And finally, he went to the teachers in the area and Academy in Warrington. But the break through I believe in his life came when he was given much more opportunity for research and travel when he joined the URL for the noblemen out of the Shelburne as his private librarian, and accompanied him in, in his travels in Birmingham. In 1871, he wrote a volume which very much angered the established church, but he continued still to write and wrote many other works which, in which he articulated his views and convictions. You mentioned that the church was angered
by his writings, what was the context that angered them? Well, first of all, he said that the narratives about the birth of Jesus peace be upon him were inconsistent with one another.
They said that Jesus was a man, constituted like a man in all respects, like all other human beings, and subject to the same weakness like all human beings are subjected to, however, he was chosen by God to introduce a moral dispensation into the world was given Americans, by God.
And he says that Jesus indeed revealed knowledge about the next life in which human beings are rewarded, not because of baptism, but because of their acts and their behavior.
This sounds quite similar to what many others Unitarians said before him, but he went beyond that. And he actually denied the virgin birth. And in the opinion of some, this particular issue, did more harm to the cause of unitarianism than good. In fact, in the opinion of some it led to the transformation of unitarianism. From its emphasis, when reasoned emphasis on the Divine unity into a movement which seemed to be lacking a little bit in the sense of direction known later as Unitarian Universalism. In 1691, there were a number of riots which took place in Birmingham, in which the homes of some important Unitarians were burnt, and even those who gave them shelters, also
replenished by burning their homes.
The situation was so bad that the army was even called in to stem this tide of violence.
Joseph Priestley, luckily, for him, was forewarned by a friend of his, so he barely escaped with his life, left Birmingham in disguise to London. And even when he went to London, he could not walk in the streets, because he was afraid that he might be
identified as I recognized and as such, he would bring destruction to the house of his horse even. And finally, he the only refuse that she could find in 1794, was to sell to the United States company, Benjamin Franklin, where they together established some of the Unitarian churches, especially in the Philadelphia area. So sadly, she's made a number of contributions. But why would you consider as Priestley's major contribution? Well, many of the things that you said really were not totally new arguments. But the approach his he took was rather comprehensive. He supports it his position,
not only philosophically and historically, but he also quite effectively use the scriptures and the writing of the old Fathers of the Church, in which he concluded actually that true Christianity was nothing but unitarianism, the absolute belief in the Divine unity, divine oneness of God, new persons in godhood.
And he says that God who is the universal Father of all humanity, commissioned Jesus peace be upon him, to invite people to practice virtue, with the promise of those who repented of immortal life and happiness.
And he said that this screen it is so clean and so clear that Jesus and His some of his early followers actually foretold that there will be a great departure of that, from that truth. And many things will be taught quite different from what Jesus Himself taught.
And then he says that this departures or deviations were collected at one time, gradually, and that Christianity, in his own words recovered. Its primitive beauty and glory.
But he says, when the heathens began to embrace Christianity, they seem to have mixed their backgrounds, with the Christianity with the new teaching, that is, they brought their former former tenants, and prejudices, and somehow imposed that on the simple teachings of Jesus. And then he says that the problem
was for many people who became Christians, coming either from a heathen background, or Jewish background for that matter, that they were scandalized and accused of others, non believers of saying that you are a follower of a man who was crucified. And of course, according to the Old Testament, that's regarded as a person who has blessed must be considered crucified as someone who committed blasphemy or was regarded as a false prophet that occurred and of course, the common belief, because we discussed before that the question of crucifixion is disputed, and But anyway, those people he says the hearing was disposed to any idea that may remove from them that approach
that parents approach that they are following, a man who was crucified, the same thing applies also to Jewish who, in their own scriptures, it doesn't seem to fit to follow a man who died on the cross. And it says that's where philosophies seem to have provided a solution to that riddle.
Because in the Greek philosophy, speaks about the soul, and the existence of the soul, before its reunion with the body, and its continued existence after it departs from the body. And he says, using these concepts, it was possible now to give the soul of Jesus in rank, divine rank, if you want, in the heavenly region, before Jesus was actually born.
That preliminary explanation, in fact, was not given for the first time, by philosophy, but but it was actually given by the group called Gnostics gn r. s. t. ICS. Gnostics, who in turn, were influenced in their ideas by oriental philosophy. But what happened here is that some of the Christian philosophers gave these ideas, a new explanation, by presenting Jesus peace be upon him as the personification of the wisdom, or the logos of God, logos, and OMG, or is, this wisdom or logos, they say, is equal to the Father, himself.
And the result of this, we find that many of the rites and sacraments which the heathens used to practice before crept into the church and into theology, and ultimately, the son that the Jesus was given the same nature as the Father. And then the Holy Spirit was included in the notion of Trinity. And then Jesus was given a human soul and the logos combined. And then arguments went on about the union between the human nature and divine nature in Jesus. But later on, they said, this union represents or is constituted or put together only as one person only. And he says, All of this is simply words, without any attention to the meaning. In other words, it's just you can keep talking
and articulating words only, but they're not attention really is getting to what does that really mean? What sense does that make, so that was his approach in discussing these issues. Now, you mentioned earlier in the program, that PC actually supportive his position, also from the Bible.
Now, maybe we could elaborate on this point. Also, I would like to know how he documented his point was, he was quite good on documentation, in addition to the historical analysis and following how the documents developed. For example, He says that the biblical account of creation, the creation of the universe,
does not mention except one God. And he says that even when God is referred to as we are, God speaks as we he says, this was me as physiology.
Because the verses before or after that speaks about God also in the singleness. And since you asked me about the condition, let me refer to two things that she particularly documented. The first one is
In the book of Genesis in chapter one, verse 26, where it says that God said, Let us make man speaking in the plural. He says, If you read the verse immediately before that, verse 27, in the same chapter, it says also that God created man in His born image, in the singular. The second reference he made, was to the same book of Genesis also in chapter 11, verse seven, pertaining to the story of the Tower of Babel. And it is in that verse, it is says, or it says, that God said, Let us go down, let us Let's plural. However, he said, If you continue with the following, verse number eight, it says, so the Lord scattered them speaking, again, in the singular, singular, in other
words, even goes where the term knee has been used, is followed immediately by the singer, which means that it is on its only physiology. In my humble understanding, this is an overkill, because a simpler way of responding to that, as we did in a previous program,
is that it is known that in English, in Arabic, in Hebrew, in other human languages, there is their own language, the king does not say I issue we say we, the king do that. And of course, God is the King of all kings. That's, I think, understandable. But let's see how Priestley continues to give his evidence from the Bible. He said, If you refer to the Bible, to any of the discourses that took place, between God and Adam, Noah, or any other Prophet, it is, it never mentioned anything other than one being. Source not believe in one speaking or three speaking, it's only one being, talking to those prophets.
It says that, it is true that the Bible sometimes speak about the engines, as creatures which speak in the name of God, but it is always presented as creatures, servants of God, not rival is not,
you know, competent to competitors in the Supreme Being or the supremacy of God at all. In addition, he says, The Express declaration in the Bible,
that there was none before God, none besides Him, that God is, above all, he alone, pre existence,
before any creation, reference is made to the famous Shima in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter six, verse four, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God, to the book of Exodus, chapter 20, verse three, which he says that Jesus never negated. He said, actually, Jesus Himself, confirmed that as quoted in the Gospel, according to Mark in chapter 2012, verse 29.
And then he says, that they caught him, had the Eternal Father had a son, and also a spirit. Each of them is equal in power and glory to himself, ie each of them is properly God. Something should have been said about that in the Old Testament, and then he says, There is none.
Then he goes on,
to discuss the prophecies in the Bible about the coming of the Messiah. And he says, for example, that in the book of Genesis in chapter three, verse 15, the Messiah, at least as some theologian interpreted, this verse refers to the Messiah is coming from, quote, The seeds of the woman, that is the one who is going to bruise the head of the, of the snake.
In Genesis, chapter 12, verse three,
it says that God told Prophet Abraham, that He will bless all the nations of the earth through him that is through his descendant. And as such, that blessing of the mission of Jesus peace be upon him, means that Jesus, in fact, was of the seeds of Abraham. And then he comes back and ask this question, he said, How could the long awaited Messiah be called a seed, the seed of the woman, and the seed of Abraham, if he himself was the God who created the woman who created Abraham to start with very logical, you know, they profound ways but he, then he goes back to the question of the desiccation of Jesus. And he says that there are numerous places in the Bible, in which Jesus
denying that he does anything on his own or say anything.
You know, other than what God told him, I think we refer to that in the previous program and others.
And then he says,
That, it would be inconceivable that Jesus would say that I do nothing by myself and still we call him God because God does not do anything by the authority of someone else. That means then he was not equal to, to God.
He also referred to what others refer to of Jesus being referred to in the Bible, as a man approved of God and a man approved so God can be God Himself. Example, he refers to john, chapter five, verse 19, Chapter 20, verse 17, the book of Acts, chapter two, verse 22, the first book of Timothy, chapter two, verse five, and by the way, in that particular quotation, it speaks about one God and one mediator who is called demand Jesus. So there's one God, there's one mediator who is demand Jesus. So God is not himself the mediator between man and God. I mean, that's so obvious. Then he comments on the concept of Trinity and he says, the divine scholars are content to build the strange
and inexplicable doctrine of the Trinity, upon me influences from casual expressions, and cannot pretend to one, clear, one clear Express and unequivocal, textured source. Then he goes on. There are many, very many passages in the Scripture, which inculcate the doctrine of the Divine unity, in the clearest and strongest manner,
yet one such passage be produced in favor of the Trinity? And why should we believe things so mysterious, without the clearest and must express evidence?
What type of historical evidence did Priestley provide? To show that Jesus was not perceived to be divine by his contemporaries, when he says that if Jesus indeed, where the maker of the world, God, he would not say that I do nothing, on my own authority, because God has absolute authority, but he always say it is through the authority of the Father,
who is within him, which is an allegorical expression. And then to come to this issue of how his people also believed about him. He says, if someone, for example, say that Jesus said, God, or the father is greater than me, and he was secretly referring only to his human nature, he said, if we say that this is an abuse of the language, in the statement is clear, and is clear and and plain, the father is greater than I. Then he says that the early evangelist, that's the people around Jesus that's called them, the writers of the Gospels. He said, These people wrote the Gospels, either to the Jews, or division time. And he said, it is impossible to assume that the writers of these
gospels assumed in return, that their audience or their readers have no need to know such a very important and crucial piece of information that is the divinity of Jesus.
Which means in his opinion, that this notion of deification of Jesus or the Trinity actually was not known among the early Apostolic fathers. And he gives a very simple and interesting example to that. We say, suppose you live with a person, you have a roommate, for example, a person lived among us.
For some time, we knew him, we ate and drank with him. And then we discovered at one point or the other, that he was the one true God in human form, the creator of the universe, he said, How do we feel about that? Would we speak about him? After he leaves us? Or at least in his in the flesh?
Could we speak about him still as men? No, definitely will speak about Him as God. And he says that if you look into the Gospels,
if Jesus was known by his contemporaries, by his disciples, as the one true God in flesh, they would have not spoken of him as we have quoted so many times before that he is a man approved of God, He is the servant of God, He is the Prophet. And he said he's got he was living among us, that none of them ever said that. Okay. Also, to indicate his point further, he said, suppose we had two men, two men living among us. And after we lived with them for some time, we discovered that this word that two famous angels, Gabrielle and Michael,
he said, Would it make any sense after we discovered that to speak about Gabrielle and Michael as men
or would we use the proper designation and say no these engines even though we thought of them initially, to be a human beings, priestly also
go on and gives what he considers to be an irrefutable evidence that the idea of deification of Jesus peace be upon him was not known in among his contemporaries. And he says that in the Apostolic age, by the way, that is what is called in by a contemporary famous theologian, hence,
the Jewish Christianity, or the era of Jewish Christianity. He says, In this apostolic age,
nobody really ever thought of Jesus as divine as God. And he says that the Jews were very zealous concerning the doctrine of Divine unity, that was the foundation of the faith, very important, and it is justifiably very important. And he says, however, in the Apostolic age literature, nowhere do we find any trace of any accusation made against Christians, by the Jews, that they are teaching a new divinity, something that deviates from the biblical tradition. And he said, if that were true, we would have found the literature of the early fathers responding to that and said, No, this accusation is not sure try to explain in what sense, Jesus is deity. Then he gives another example,
which is also documented from the book of Acts in chapter six, verse 13, and he says that Stephen, was accused, and he actually was killed.
But he was never accused of teaching that Jesus was God. But as the Bible says, For speaking the lesson as things about the temple and the law, but never was accused, and which would have been a much stronger accusation against him that he, he defies Jesus. So as I mentioned before, priestly really gets so much attention to history and give examples of the practices and beliefs of the early disciples. Was there any other
evidence that he stated that Jesus was not perceived to be divine, when he takes the practices for example of worship and the time of the disciples and He said, If you begin with the scriptures, you find that the proper object of worship has always been God alone, that is worship to the Father. And he says, There is nothing in the Bible really, where we find that the acts of worship is addressed to any other person other than the one true God. And even he says, what has been attributed to Steven, when he says that he saw Jesus in vision is very inconsiderable, because he says, Jesus Himself, prayed to the Father and His own humility and resignation. And he taught the disciples to
pray to the one Father to the one God. And then he turns that with history, and he says that the practice of worship, but among the early fathers in the church, has always directed itself to God. And he says, as to some of the liturgy, which says, For example, Lord has mercy on us, Christ has mercy on us. He says this come relatively in a later date. But the oldest liturgy for example, the Clementine liturgy, which was composed in the fourth century, does not have any Chase, really, of addressing Jesus in prayers. Oregon, the famous theologian also in a substantial work on prayer. It speaks also very forcibly about the appropriateness of prayers to the Father alone. And then he
gives other events in the Bible, like in the book of Acts, for example, when James was put to death, and when Paul was imprisoned, that prayers were made to him on his behalf to God. And the same thing when Paul and Silas also were in prison. These are found in the book of Acts in chapters 12 and 16, which shows that the practices has always been to address God, not any other being. Now Thank you very much, Doctor, by the way, you seem to have time again. And I'd like to thank all of you once again for joining us here in Islam and focus. As always, we'd appreciate your comments, any questions you may have our phone number, and address will be appearing on your screen to see you
here next week inshallah. A lot of us you understand