Jesus 33 – Later Unitarians 7 William Channing
Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Jesus
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AsSalamu Alaikum and welcome you once again to Eastern focus case program will be on 23rd series Jesus, the beloved messenger of Allah will be our service in our segment on the later Unitarians. I'm your host a shout nimish. And here once again from St. Mary's University is that the general better? So I can
have a quick summary of last week's program. Okay, in the last week's program, which was the first the second we
talk about one of the main proponents of
unitarianism, Joseph Priestley, who was be discovered are also on oxygen, the famous chemist. And we indicated that him that the priestly like many others, Unitarians objected to the dogmas such as the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, and so on. And we said that many of those ideas actually came from the Gnostics who were, in turn, influenced by the Oriental philosophy.
We indicated that Priestley did not base his argument exclusively on the text of the Bible, but also included religion, and the analysis of history and how the documents developed in the early days. And he indicated that in the early days, nobody really addressed Jesus as God or directed his prayers to him, as it is appropriate to you only to the Father.
Before moving on, is there any other contribution of priestly in the basic thing about priestly really,
is that even though he's very similar in terms of his treatment to what other Unitarians before he mentioned,
one of the things that he says in his book, The history of Jesus Christ, and I caught him on that he says, The doctrine itself, as has been clearly demonstrated, has proven impossible, for reasonable meaning to accept, or even hold in their minds, as it implies contradictions, which render it meaningless. To explain his position, Joseph Priestley says that the athanasian Creed, you know, the idea of Trinity, as it was formulated earlier, claims that the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, our own perfect, our own eternal, and that each one of them, by itself, is a true God. And he says, despite all of that, the claim is made that these are not three gods, but one God. We've come to
this point a little later, perhaps,
for some programs. But he says that to say that is like saying that, Peter, James, and john, each one of them is the full man, or has the prerequisites of becoming full man or complete man, yet, these are not three men, but one men.
See, in other words, it doesn't seem to terrain. And he says, They seem to be a confusion between the term person and being when use the term being that applies to all persons. In Trinity, it applies to anything really. And it says when we speak about Jesus really, we cannot say that Jesus has no being or no substance, for example. So when we talk about being it applies to all persons in the challenge, and this means then that if we talk about three independent, being perfect beings, then we're really talking about three beings or three Gods we cannot really still claim that this is still one God.
This is basically his additional argument about the notion of the Trinity but otherwise historically, in essence seem to be similar to other
So far, we discuss the contributions of many of the Unitarians. There's one figure however, was to mention a few years for them and William Channing and which we haven't discussed. Maybe we can start with some background information on on
him. Certainly, this would be of interest also because at least in the case of North America, like Joseph Priestley also he was one who came across the ocean and came here by new background.
William Channing was born in 1780. And then he came to Boston when he was about 23 years old. He also did not accept the Trinity. But he did not say that in public.
He was accused of secretly spreading the teaching of unitarianism, or opposing Trinity.
But he said, I'm not hiding my opinion. And I am teaching or instructing in Christian teaching, he said, as if Trinity did not exist, so he did not make any bones about it. He spoke more honestly about it. In one of his speeches, he said that the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. All right. In fact, the New Testament is a continuation of the of the Old Testament in one sense. And it says that God does not contradict himself from one part to the other, in the in the Bible, and then addressing the question of reason, because some people object to the use of reason and methods of religious beliefs. He said, God gave us a rational nature, and he's going to hold us accountable for
that rational tenant or qualities that He has given us. And he says that revelation is directed to us even when we speak of tribulation, something from above, it is still given to us as rational beings. And it is part of wisdom to try and interpret and understand that revelation, using our faculties. In one quotation For example, He says a revelation is a gift of light.
It can thicken our darkness and multiply our perplexities. So it's not the opposite of faith.
And his emphasis on absolute monotheism. He says, quote, we believe in the doctrine of God's unity, or that there is one God and one only. To this truth, we give
infinite importance and we feel our our sin is bound to take heed lest any man spoil us of it by vain philosophy, a preposition that there is one God seems to us exceedingly plain,
we understand why, that there is one being, one mind, one person, one intelligent being, and one only to whom and derived an infinite perfection, and dominion, belongs, that was quoted by a Wallace in his entry, anti Trinitarian biographies. And when he says that these words about the unity of God are the absolute oneness of God, which were used, actually, in the Bible itself, definitely did not convey any different meanings than what it sounds, especially to the people who are simple people, not highly educated. And he said that those people definitely who received that revelation, initially, through other prophets, or through Jesus peace be upon him, did not understand all those
hair's breadth distinctions between a person and a B. So he says the plain meanings as understood by them was the absolute oneness. And unity of
you start off by telling us and William Channing did not believe in Trinity. Maybe you can live with this and give us his exact views on Trinity. Okay, well, one possibility of doing that, perhaps would be to quote him directly on that because he's so eloquent in that I have one quotation here that seemed to very nicely reflect that to me, I can just read it.
He says, We object to the doctrine of Trinity, that ye must acknowledge in in words, it subverts in effect the unity of God.
According to this doctrine, there are three infinite and equal persons possessing supreme divinity called the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Each of these persons as described by theologians, has his own particular consciousness, will and perception.
They love each other, converse with each other, and delight in each other's society. They perform different parts in man's redemption, each having his appropriate office and neither doing the work of the other.
The sun is mediators, and not the father, the father since the son and is not himself sent, nor is he conscious like the son of technology
ish. Here, then we have three intelligent beings,
possessed of different consciousness, different worlds, in different perceptions, performing different acts, and sustaining different generations differentiations. And if these things do not imply, and constitute three minds, or beings, we are utterly at a loss, to know how similar minds or beings are to be formed.
See them he goes on to say that the common Christian, any common Christian cannot help
but think of three different beings or three different minds when you speak about the same persons in Trinity. In addition, he says that the Bible constantly uses expressions such as God sent the sun and native Jesus, peace be upon him. And if the most important object or purpose behind the Bible was to reveal Christ as God, then he says, I challenge my opponents, he says, to give one single passage, one single passage in the New Testament, where the term God, capital G, means three persons, or three persons in one life, priestly, he also refers to historical evidence. And he says that Christianity actually in the early days grew in the midst of short, sighted enemies, who were
just looking for any excuse to discredit it. And he said they used all kinds of accusations. However, we find that in the writings of the early Apostolic fathers, there is no mention at all, or defense of
this question of Trinity, in other words, had the early fathers understood,
you know, monotheism to mean the same as Trinity or triune, God would do would have been easily accused by these short sighted enemies around them and say, how can you teach him something contrary to the Bible, you're talking about a different deity, and the fathers would have responded or wrote back in defense of that position. But he says there is no such certain defense, which means that they didn't understand that this way they will manifest they were Unitarians
in that sense, and
in that sense, I'd say that his views are quite similar to other Unitarians. But his writing does seem to be obvious, is interesting. His his analysis, I should say, is quite interesting, especially in terms of implication, also of Trinity. Not only that it is unbiblical that it is contrary to reason. But he even discusses how
Trinity may have a practical impact on the individual, which is not totally desirable.
No, this, to me sounds rather interesting and rather new.
But maybe you can explain to us from a practical point of view, how he relates Trinity to his regular practice. And once again, I am referring to his practical implications. When he says, for example, that the concept of Trinity why this might sound of course, to us, like a theological concept, just sort of philosophical or theological idea. It says in reality in practice, it undermines devotion to God. Because as he says, It distracts the mind in its communion with God.
And then he compares that with monotheism, which again might reflect the pure monotheism reflect the contrast. This is about monotheism, it is a great excellence, of the doctrine of God's unity, that it offers to us one object of supreme homage, adoration, and love. When infinite father, one beam of the being of beings, one original and fountain, to whom we made it fair, all goods, in whom all our powers and affection may be concentrated, and whose lovely and venerable nature may pervade all our thoughts, through piety, when directed to our undivided deity has a chasteness a synchronous, most favorable to religious or on love.
When he compares with Trinity against Eclipse, contrasting the practical effect, he says, God's now that the trend now the Trinity sets before us three distinct objects of supreme adoration, three infinite persons have
In equal claims on our hearts, three divine agents, performing different offices, and to be acknowledged, and worshipped in different relations. And then he compares the status of the Father and the Son. And he says that Jesus
Jesus exalted into the infinite deity, or if we exalt Him into infinite deity, he becomes even more interesting than the father. Why? He says, what is normally expected in view of history, and also in view of human nature, is that we as humans, we want an object of worship, which is very much like ourselves. And then he goes on, to use his own terms, he says, a god, cloth in our form, as humans is, our fee and feelings, our wounds and sorrows, it speaks speaks to our weak nature, more strongly than a father in heaven, a pure spirit, invisible, and approachable, and unapproachable. Save by reflecting, and purified mind. In other words, the our imagery of the father would be somewhat more
removed, whereas the deification of Jesus as a human, as God's men, might say, seems to be more interested with us and closest to us, we tend to even forget about the father because he's is not really accessible, so that again, what he considered to be enduring devotion to the one true God to the Father. And then he indicates why Trinity makes Christ even more important than the Father. And he says that the in popular theology is one of the offices which are ascribed to Jesus makes it much more attractive, why the father is regarded as the depository of justice,
the avenger of the law of divinity, on the other hand, the Son, and of course, you know that because his writing is very, you know, eloquent that says, the sun, on the other hand, is the quote, the brightness of the Divine Mercy, stands between the incense, deity and guilty, humanity, exposes his unique head to the storm, and his compassionate breast, to the sword of divine justice. And as such, like I said, again, he says, this kind of thinking, in just our devotion to the one and only throwback to the father of wars, so I have to agree his writings are quite eloquent.
Now, how about the nature of Jesus and the relationship between divinity and humanity in him? How did China express his views on this? Well, he says that he believes that Jesus, peace be upon him was one mind, one soul, one being just like us, human like all of us, except that he was distinct from us, that is in terms of his status in reserve, he has a relationship with God, but otherwise, Jesus, being one person, is really quite distinct from the one true God. And then he compares that with, with Trinity, for example, it says that, if, if you accept Trinity, you will make God three beings, but you might, even in the process without knowing that make of Christ or Jesus two beings,
and that, that causes what he called,
infinite confusion about his character, we're coming again to the nature of Jesus, the divine and the human,
to explain that, and he says that according to the common doctrine
of Christ, that Jesus has two minds, two wills and two souls. And he says that the divine mind in Jesus does not feel the same wounds and sorrows of the human. On the other hand, the human part of Jesus, if we say that he was man, God in the same time, also is far removed from the perfection of the Divine.
And then he comments on that, and he says, and because we say, that is chanting, that is a doctrine, so strange, so difficult, so removed from all the previous conception of men, be indeed a part and an essential part of Revelation. It must be taught with great distinction, and we asked our brethren to point to some places
In direct passage, where Christ is said to be composed of two minds, infinitely different, yet constituting one person, we find none.
And then he discusses some of the answers given by theologians related to the nature of Jesus. And he said that those theologians say that in the Bible, there are some passages which ascribes unto Jesus human qualities, there's no question about that he says that they interpret also, and they say, interpret because it's not factual, as we have discussed in previous programs, but they interpret some other passages as attributing divine qualities of Jesus. And he said that those Trinitarian theologians actually say that the only way to resolve the difficulty of conflict would be to harmonize those passages and assume this two natures in Jesus. When he asks, he says, word in
the New Testament, does Jesus or did Jesus ever say, quote, this, I speak as God, and this I speak as men, this is to only have my human mind. And this only of my divine. This is there's no such passage at all, that would support this idea of, of the true nature. And then he says that Jesus, in his teaching, continually was speaking about God, the Father, the father was always on his tongue. And then he says, we should ask ourselves here, when Jesus constantly spoke and thought about God, did he mean himself? Obviously not.
Now, Furthermore, he says, could any who heard the word Jesus speak, for example, about himself as the Son of God, the one who is sent by God, the one who is sanctified by God, the one who receives authority from God is good, any who heard it has imagined that Jesus was the very gods to whom he was so industriously declared to be inferior to the very being, by whom he was sent, and from whom he professed to have received his message to power. Obviously,
those are, those are excellent points.
is views on atonement,
he didn't have also an opinion on atonement. And he says that the trinitarians distributed the Trinity,
that is derive an important advantage by looking at Jesus as God. Because after all, it makes from his crucifixion, and infinite I tournament. Because this he says that, you know, in order to have infinite atonement, the ones who offer that tournament or reset, no one who sacrificed must also be innocent. So by believing that Jesus was God, and infinite, you provide the infinite autonomy. This is basically why he says the aliens believe in this dogma of autonomy. Then he says, When pressed, when those trinitarians are pressed, with the question, whether they really believe that the infinite and unchangeable God suffered and died on the cross, they acknowledge that this is not
But that Christ's human mind alone, sustained the pains
to enjoy the delicious
look in the local groceries for users that suffered the death on the cross, how can we speak then have an infinite suffering? And then he goes on. He says, There is no passage in the Bible at all, where we are taught that the front of men and by the way, the term Son of Man was the first to Jesus. You can't have a son of man and Son of God,
the Son of Man, that is Jesus was nowhere in the Bible. It is said that the soul and he says,
nowhere also in the Bible, does it say that we need an infinite atonement, to meet atonement, yes, but infinite assembly, there is no such statement. And then he says that the idea of God becoming a victim
and sacrifice for his own rebellious creatures or subjects is unscriptural. He says On the contrary, actually, he says if we believe in God, and if we believe in the infinite goodness and power of God, then we don't need any other savior other than God. He says in his opinion, it is dishonouring God to say that God cannot forgive you without the intermediary or
tenths of a second or third person, he has the final authority and the absolute power to do it without any other intermediary. And then he says that if you refer to the scripture itself through the Bible, and more particularly image reference to the second Corinthians, chapter five, verse 10, and the book of Romans, chapter 14, verse 10. And he says, In this quotations, we find that every human being must appear before the seed of judgment. Okay? And he says, What is the point here of appearing before judgment? If Jesus already has offered the infinite atonement, see, if Jesus has already offered us infinite atonement, this means that the requirements of Justice has already been
fulfilled. So what's the point of, of anybody appearing agreement before the seat of judgment? And he says, If this is the case, it means that God has lost any prerogatives to punish the guilty, because you've got the infinite
atonement for all kinds of past, present and future. I gather from your discussion here that this at this point of time anyway, he Attarian seems to be growing in the United States. What were the reaction of the people to this growth? Generally speaking, we can say that it was an action similar to the action of Unitarians in Europe, except that perhaps as you know, the tradition in the US has been a little bit more on religious tolerance. And that's why many people actually came here.
After being persecuted because of their faith, many Christians actually came to be nice to us because of that. But, of course, Channing and other Unitarians, were not free from all kinds of abuse, they were called a crew of heretics, infidels, and atheist and all kinds of name calling, you know, that was directly to them. However, Channing and others insisted other intelligence insisted that the Bible is reasonably interpreted, will definitely teach what they believe that is the Divine unity.
And one of the things that he said is that the greatness of the soul
is its Union. The greatness of the soul, it's human with God, by the spiritual lightness, its receptivity to his spirits. Its self forming power, its destination, to the ineffable.
And the and its mortality. I know it gets a little bit philosophical, and that but basically, he really speaks here about the unit Unitarian belief or the unity of God, not just in terms of code logic, but also in terms of relationship. his views on reason is that again, it's not contrary to faith. He says, man's rational nature was from God. It is not something opposite to the spiritual element that God has endowed to the human being, despite of his conviction.
He also was, you know, I paused, or he did oppose any religious intolerance, denomination aggression, or sectarian narrowness, even though he himself was a libertarian, very staunch Unitarian. And in fact, some believe that his teachings were quite instrumental in the establishment of the Harvard
Divinity School in Harvard University.
It was stated quite clearly from the beginning, that any time a non denominational peculiarity should be accepted and most students or professors should be forced to accept any particular set of documents and what they arrived at. All of this Unitarians has already been mentioned in the Quran centuries before. Thank you very much, Doctor, by the way, and thank you all for joining us here once again, this time in focus. We as always would appreciate any questions or comments you may have our phone number and our address will be appearing on your screen. From all of us.