For Ruwayda, Whenever I Find Her III
Surprisingly enough, Ms. Ruwayda has already provided me with another reply to address some of the points that I had brought up in my latest post. But before I continue I would like to make clear that if I came off as needlessly competitive and if it appeared that this discussion was little more than a game for me then I sincerely apologize. It was not at all my intention. I realize that I have made the claim more than once that Ms. Ruwayda had not refuted me yet this was in no way done out of pride but rather it was simply a statement of fact given that she had brought up certain points which as I have shown did nothing to present my argument as having been incorrect. Now this response on my part will most likely be fairly short (in comparison to my previous posts) given that this time, there is far less that she is objecting to.
Anonymous Blogger (AB) claims that god died for the sins of humanity (contrary to what many Christians have claimed — god wanting to become man in order to fully experience and understand his creation — which he dismisses as unbiblical)… – Ruwayda Mustafah
This perhaps may not be inherently relevant to the topic at hand but I find it strange that she would need to reiterate the claim that some, even many, Christians misunderstand the reason of the incarnation as a need for God to understand human beings. I have already said that this is not the case and yet the author seems to enjoy bringing up this fact again and again as if she were trying to implicitly disparage Christianity by showing an inconsistency in its supposed teachings. Given that she would not hesitate to bring this matter up, I would ask her to show me sources of orthodox persuasion that would agree with the statement that the incarnation was in order for God to understand humanity. What use is there to say that Christians say, such and such and then attack those statements in order to show Christianity to be deficient when Christianity doesn’t at all teach such a thing? I have said this before and yet my statements have been ignored hence I would ask for Ms. Ruwayda to show when at all the traditional church has ever made statements to this effect and if she is unable to do so, why then would she implicitly propagate such a myth?
His holiness has nothing to do with him having to die for the sins of humanity. No one has claimed that the Christian god is not holy. In fact, a holy god would not belittle himself, and die for the sins of his own creation, when he can easily forgive them since he is all powerful, and is not bound by any morals that human beings must operate under. Just imagine, the same god that refers to human being as maggots (filthy worms) becomes a maggot (a filthy worm). The god of the bible uses this metaphor to illustrate the worth of human beings (of course, human beings are not literally like maggots), and in light of this, it makes little sense for god to belittle himself, and become a filthy worm. ‘how much less man, who is but a maggot— a son of man, who is only a worm!’ Job 25:6 (New International Version) On the other hand, we find that in Islam God (Allah) elevates the status of human beings (men and women), and portrays their make-up to be superior to everything else — ‘We have certainly created man in the best of stature’ (Holy Qur`an 95:4). – Ruwayda Mustafah
Oh but his holiness has everything to do with the incarnation. This is precisely why he does not pander cheap, inefficient and utterly unjust ‘forgiveness’ as does the God of Islam. I will say once more that I have already written a post on this subject and while I do not seek to draw Ms. Ruwayda into a long string of debates (if she is averse to this and especially if she lacks the time) I would wish that she defend this opinion of hers seeing as she has made this claim more than once. Let the reader note that the author considers God to be holy (and in fact all-holy) and yet she goes on to say that he is not bound to morality. How can this be when holiness is a direct result of conforming to the strictest sense of moral rightness. If he is not bound by morality at all (or simply not a single one of the moral precepts which humans must adhere to), and if it is immoral for humans to lie, to mistreat others, to punish without just cause then it follows that a god who possesses the aforementioned vices is that in whom she believes in.
Now the forgiveness of sin has not so much to do with power (or the lack thereof) than it has to do with being just (and in the case of the Christian God, justice personified). I speak concerning this matter here and if the author is serious in her opinion that her God is not exuberantly deficient in how he issues forgiveness, I welcome her to make a response—even correct my misunderstanding, if it is the case that I have misunderstood Islam.
The Wonderful Ruwayda Mustafah cites Job 25:6 and claims that this is what God thinks of the worth of mankind. It would appear that she has not done her reading properly seeing as the speaker isn’t God at all but one of Job’s three friends, Bildad the Shuhite. Yet is Bildad wrong in his statements, and what is it exactly that he sought to show?
1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “Dominion and awe belong to God;
he establishes order in the heights of heaven.
3 Can his forces be numbered?
Upon whom does his light not rise?
4 How then can a man be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?
5 If even the moon is not bright
and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
6 how much less man, who is but a maggot—
a son of man, who is only a worm!” – Job 25:1-6 NIV
Clearly from the above it is plain to see that Bildad was making a comparison between God and man (and the moon, and stars for that matter) in terms of majesty. In respect to man, he did so through the use of the worm as a metaphor. This has nothing to do whatsoever with ontological worth. That said, Ms. Ruwayda herself would agree with his statement seeing as she would readily accept that in terms of majesty, the chasm between us and God is far greater than that of us and a worm and therefore, we are even less than a worm in comparison to the majesty of God. Seeing as the verse that the author has cited is contained in a chapter that is only six verses long, I would have hoped that the author would have taken the time to read the entire chapter and then place it into context instead of making such blundering mistakes.
Furthermore, I take issue with the author’s assertion that the God of Islam considers human beings to be of more worth than the God of Christianity simply because that statement is patently false. Ms. Mustafah herself knows that this is not true and yet she finds no qualms with saying such a thing, yet luckily for us, her assertion can be disproven rather quickly. The Qur’an only speaks of humans as slaves and it is a fact that slaves have historically been treated as second-class citizens, as barely human. To be a slave is not an elevation of the human being nor a celebration of his ontological worth but quite the opposite. It is the condemnation of the individual as being little more than property, a plaything, a mere beast and if this is what Ruwayda considers to be the “best of stature” for mankind then that in itself is quite sad. The Holy Bible on the other hand speaks of them who love God as his very children. Jesus and the apostles repeatedly repudiated the idea of slavehood, rather, they taught men to approach God as children to their Father. Only the most biased individual could say that the status of being a slave to a master is higher than the status of being a son/daughter to a father. I have mentioned all of this before and Ms. Mustafah has certainly read my thoughts on the matter without ever being able to rebut them, so why then does she make assertions that she is wholly unable to prove?
Christians claim that because god is just, he is bound by his own justice which seems paradoxical. Does god, by way of necessity have to punish every sinner because the wage of sin is ’death’. Perhaps, I find this concept perplexing, and incomprehensive to myself because in Islam the wage of sin is not necessarily death because god is the most-forgiving, and therefore as Muslims we don’t have this paradoxical concept of a full-loving god that kills himself for humanity because an infinitely just god that will not punish someone who is innocent. – Ms. Mustafah
All that the above goes to show is that the Muslim God cannot be justice personified given his lax and almost depraved view of sin. The above paragraph quite clearly shows that Allah’s forgiveness is pitted against his justice and whatever the outcome, one quality always loses out to the other and as such we are presented with a God who is schizophrenic in his divine attributes. This is precisely that which I spoke of in my post entitled “Forgiveness, and Why I am not a Muslim”. I would sincerely like to know how Ms. Mustafah could defend such an exuberantly inadequate perception of God? I welcome her to, but I really don’t see how she could do so.
If Christians believe that by necessity, despite the wages for sin not being death in the Old testament was necessary for god to forgive humanity, this is not something that I have to refute/address because it makes little sense. The anonymous Blogger claims that I have perpetuated straw man arguments, which from my perspective I have not. I have not misrepresented the Christian doctrine, but merely illustrated (or, attempted to illustrate) the erroneous doctrine which Christians believe in from my perspective. – Ruwayda Mustafah
It saddens me somewhat that the author would so choose to provide such vehement opposition to Christian doctrine when it is evident from the above that she knows very little of my holy book. It is demonstrably false that the wages of sin isn’t death in the Old Testament as the following citations will show:
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. – Leviticus 17:11 NIV
and speaking of the practices of the Old Testament, Paul writes: In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. – Hebrews 9:22 NLT
Given the above and the stringent laws concerning animal sacrifice in the Old Testament, how is it that the author can seriously propose that the wage of sin was not death according to the law of Moses?
From the comment which Ms. Ruwaydah has left me, it appears that I have misunderstood her as it concerns the point she had wanted to make in the quoted section above. What I took to mean animal sacrifices, she had actually intended to mean the sacrifice of Jesus. In that the Old Testament supposedly doesn’t convey the teaching that anyone, much less Christ, had to die in order for mankind’s sin to be forgiven. I apologize for my mistake but as the reader will see from my subsequent comment to her, this doesn’t change a whole lot. Either way her argument is easily refuted.
The explanation given through an analogy of a fathering/or family lending money to their son/daughter fails because (A) the money given can be returned whereas Jesus had to die which is not something irreversible (B) the money given is finite, whereas the sacrifice of Jesus/god was infinite. Therefore, this analogy given by AB does not make sense. Furthermore, this ‘debt analogy’ fails because a debt is a sum of something that can be returned, whereas the sacrifice of Jesus/god is the total opposite of that. – (The Wonderful) Ruwayda Mustafah
Once more the author raises up issues that I had preemptively rebutted yet in her post, does nothing to show what I had in fact raised. I am skeptical as to why she has consistently refused to quote my entire argument with the qualifications I had placed on it before she had ever even begun to work on her initial response. That said, she would like to make the analogy as one which seeks to address the infinite vs. the limited aspect of Christ’s sacrifice while all it ever sought to show was that a third party could pay the debt of another (something she has yet to refute either biblically or through logic). I would stress that the reader read both our posts on the matter and see what it is that I had actually said, I am confident that they would come to the same conclusion as myself and I can only guess that this is exactly why she has refused to give my quote in full.
Now, as concerns the statement: “Furthermore, this ‘debt analogy’ fails because a debt is a sum of something that can be returned, whereas the sacrifice of Jesus/god is the total opposite of that.” This is perhaps the weakest point she has made so far given that a debt is a debt no matter whether or not it can be repaid (for instance I could work my entire life to pay off a debt and die at a ripe old age without having been able to pay back what I owed). Yet if this weren’t bad enough, she is once more mistaken. That is, the sinner can choose to forsake Christ after understanding and even believing in his gospel and in a manner of speaking, pay off his debt himself (or return that which he owed by his own work). God has provided hell just for such a circumstance where the sinner who has refused Christ’s sacrifice will spend eternity paying his debt to God with his own blood, sweat, and tears.
The animal sacrifices in the bible are not debt repaid by a third party because the third party does not voluntarily choose to become the repayment of an given debt. Animals have no ‘free will’ or intellectual capacity to comprehend, and therefore are in no way comparable to Jesus/god voluntarily choosing to kill/sacrifice himself for humanity. This, once again, brings me to the question of why was it sufficient for a long period of time to have animal sacrifices for forgiveness, and then annulled by god? It makes little sense. – Ruwayda Mustafah
I wonder if Ms. Mustafah truly believes what she has written above? Whether or not a third party volunteers to be a sacrifice does not at all change the fact that it is their blood that is spilt in order for another to receive remission of sins. She once more would make a distinction between Christ’s and the animal’s sacrifice yet this time on the issue of freewill but really what is the argument about? As I recall it, it is about a third party giving their life for another’s sins. In what way is this not exactly what Christ has done? It is clear now that in her desperation she latches on to irrelevant details (given the nature of analogies, they must all break down at some point seeing as they seek to make a comparison between two different things and at some point the comparison must end) that the analogy was never meant to address. I say again that in both instances it is a third party paying with their very blood, for the sins committed by others and this is the only thing the analogy sought to address. If the matter of freewill is reasonable ground to object to my analogy than what of the case that animals walk on all fours while Jesus walked on two feet? Or that their bodies are thickly covered in fur while Jesus’ wasn’t. Or that they were also used for food while Jesus certainly wasn’t? Does the reader see how ridiculous such objections become?
The animal sacrifice served as a symbol for what was to come, in fact the very law of Moses (and it’s rulings and stipulations) was not the eternal covenant which God would make with his people but a shadow of the true eternal covenant. As the book of Jeremiah reads:
31 “The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. – Jeremiah 31:31-33 NIV
The covenant spoken of here is the new covenant (literally what Christians call the New Testament) of grace which came with the advent of the Gospel. The old covenant sought to write the laws on tablets, door posts, scrolls etc. all of which were outwardly, the new covenant would write these in the very hearts of the people (i.e. give them new hearts) which is exactly what Christianity has declared since its inception. Furthermore, it has always been God’s intention that he should himself be the very sacrifice which would bring to an end the power of sin. After the very first sin, God made the promise (Genesis 3:15) that he who would end Satan’s reign over mankind (through Satan’s use of the power of sin) would crush his head (that is, to end his power) but be stricken at the heel (that is, he himself would suffer in doing so). This same theme is carried over in the book of Isaiah (and in many other places as well but we don’t have time to go over this) written around 700 years before the birth of Christ. In Isaiah 53, some most explicit verses say the following:
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.- Isaiah 53:5-6 NIV
Now I would ask you, Ms. Ruwayda and the reader alike, who in the history of the world has claimed to bear the sins of the world and that only through his death could he save a world heading for destruction. Furthermore who in the history of the world has it been claimed of that he was pierced for the transgressions of others, and crushed for their iniquity? Which individual has it been claimed of to have healed mankind by his blood? Both you and I know that Jesus Christ is the only such person. The passage is even more explicit in its description of him seeing as it describes him dying and yet then the subsequent verses say that he would see his seed (the children of God) and he would prolong his days (this of course refers to his resurrection) it specifically says that God made him a guilt offering (this is the animal sacrifice through which the Jews received the remission of sins) and placed our sins upon him. I would encourage you to read the entire passage because it is so very explicit in detailing the life and sacrifice of Christ. In the passage he is called (the Suffering) servant yet this same servant is described as God in other chapters and books of the Old Testament.
I believe that I have addressed every single one of your points, Ms. Ruwayda, and have given a more than suitable response to them while none have been demonstrably refuted by yourself.