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Dispute with Muslims / Fr Daniel Sysoev

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Dear brothers and sisters,

On december 20, 2005 in the conference hall of the Moscow’s hotel "Russia", was held the first in Russian history public debate between Muslims and Orthodox Christians. The subject of the debate was the divine afflation of the Bible and the Quran. The initiators of the meeting were Muslims, directors of the most famous in Russia Islamic daily blog "Islam.ru." The Orthodox point of view was represented by the well-known priest Fr Daniel Sysoev (link). And the Islamic view on the theological differences explained Dr. Ali Vyacheslav Polosin, the researcher of theological interpretations of the Scripture. The hall was filled to capacity by the believers of both denominations, who for three hours were sitting up there almost motionless, listening to the arguments of the parties about a very seemingly abstract and distant from today's problems subject: the divine inspiration of the Quran and the Bible from the perspective of Islam and Christianity. Strict limits and the level of the dialogue were from the very beginning determined by the moderator – the host of the talk show "Judge" on Channel 1, Maxim Shevchenko, who had declared that the political attacks, improper behavior with respect to the opponents or the questions not related to the subject are ruled down. The representative level was quite high – it was attended by the prominent scientists, theologians and polemicists, teachers of St. Tikhon's Theological Institute and Islamic University. The dialogue consisted of four parts: the 20-minute presentations of the main opponents, afterwards they asked questions each other, then the questions were raised by their assistants, advisors (two on each side), and at the end 12 questions were asked from each of  the audience parties from the hall. In this translation I will only translate the speech of Fr. Daniel.

You can listen and download it here (only in Russian):  http://www.predanie.ru/audio/konferenciy_i_seminary/disput-s-musulmanami/
There are also many video fragments of the dispute on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7BTHxMp340&feature=related


Part 1

I greet all who are gathered here. I hope that God’s mercy will illumine the minds of us all. Indeed, the question what the revelation of God is, - Is the Holy Scripture of the Old and the New Testament the Revelation of God (i.e. Bible) or is the Quran the Revelation of God?, - is probably the most important question which divides the two worldwide religions. Indeed, if we accept the Bible, we cannot accept the Quran; and if we accept the Quran, we cannot accept the Bible. In so far are the contests of these two religious texts incompatible with each other. Both of them pretend to reflect the Revelation of God, who created the Universe. I would stress that when we talk about God, we should clarify (by the way, I recommended this to Ali Vyacheslav for the clarification of the theme, but generally speaking, it is already clear without clarification) that under the word ‘God’ we mean namely the Creator. Without this attribute we don’t have anything to talk about. There are many other different religious texts that pretend to be the revelation of some other gods. But we simply won’t discuss them, because god who didn’t create the world… like the prophet Jeremiah said: ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens (Jeremiah 10: 11). This is just, and these texts we simply won’t observe. And now first (let’s begin talking about) what the Word of God is. I begin with this; (because) having not said about what God’s Word is, we cannot determine what this text (God’s Word) is and what is it not. What is the Word of God for Christians?
When a Muslim opens the Bible he is faced with one question: ‘Why do you have so many authors? Why do you have not only the words of God, but diverse stories as well? Why do you have the word (words) of God not bailed out from the whole mass (of context)? What is the reason of this form of  presentation?'
When a Christian opens the Quran he gets some feeling of perturbation, firstly because of the lack of structure of that text, form our view point. (Secondly) We get amazed because the Quran doesn’t expect any response form the listener; a some kind of monologue is being transmitted there.
So, what is the Bible for Christians? The Bible for us is the book of the Covenant. This is the first principal statement. We affirm that the Creator of the Universe has shaped a man adequate enough, sane enough to be able to make a Covenant with Him, conclude an alliance (with Him). This is the crucial idea of both the Old and the New Testament. The nation of Israel and the nation of the Christians have both in common the fact that God created a man after His image; and that’s why we have some, - to say it figuratively,- affinity with God. God doesn’t hold us to be simply slaves, He doesn’t hold us to be just bugs; He holds us to be completely sane and able to hearken to the Creator, or not to hearken to the Creator, to respond to His commands, or not to respond to His commands. That’s why the Bible, being the book of revelation, points out not only at the commands of the Creator, but also (tells about) the reaction of the second participant of the Covenant on these commands. That’s why the Bible presupposes the possibility for a gradual growth of the Revelation. This is not because God changes, but because a man, the participant of the Covenant (and the whole mankind participating in the Covenant (probably that is what he said; it was not very clear)) can grow up (spiritually). This growth of the mankind is presupposed by the Holy Scripture, the Bible.
We are amazed when we see that the Quran doesn’t presuppose the possibility of the response (of the  man to the Creator). It is amazing for us, and it is also amazing for us that that spirit which names himself the Creator in the Quran, is, as it were, squeamish (about the man, creature) (I would affirm (here) the (use of the) word ‘as it were’, because we don’t know anything about the inner life of Allah. When you ask who is Allah, - ‘Allah is great,’ – they respond, and (thus) they close the theme. (So) The inner life of Allah is unknown to us.). But from the outside view point, - we have the view point of a Christian, - Allah, as it were, doesn’t want to soil himself (with his creature). This is our impression from the Quran. I would like to stress it immediately, so that there would be no offences. He even doesn’t give his messenger (the possibility) to communicate with him. From the Hadith’s is known that when Mohammed was carried away in the heavens, he had seen God (Allah) behind the 33.000 veils. The revelation (the Quran) is not handed down directly by God (Allah), but is handed on through the mediation of the angel; because a man is found, as it were, too far from God. And in view of this squeamishness (squeamishness in quotes) this monologue is surprising for us. Why does the monologue take place? Speaking of which we understand hence why the principle renewal of the revelation (the Quran) doesn’t happen. I remember when I corresponded on internet with Ali Vyacheslav, the question arose: What’s new comes up in the Quran in comparison with the Revelation of the Bible? And it was found out that except some ritual factors, the Quran doesn’t give anything principally new. This is simple truth, this is so indeed. This is a sign for us that this (the Quran) is not the Revelation of God the Creator (but we will turn to this soon).

 

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For the moderators. :police:
You can listen and download it here (only in Russian):  http://www.predanie.ru/audio/konferenciy_i_seminary/disput-s-musulmanami/
http://predanie.ru/audio/konferenciy_i_seminary/disput-s-musulmanami/

Copy this link and paste it on you browser. The text I have translated is from the first part. Please notice that I've not translated the speech of the moderator, who spoke first. I have only translated the speech of Father Daniel who started speaking after the moderator.
 

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Part 2

Having understood now what the Holy Scripture for us is, understanding that the Holy Scripture is not a self-sufficient phenomenon, we know that God can communicate with a man even without the mediation of the Holy Scripture. And the Revelation is not restricted only by the limits of the biblical texts. We know that there were times when the biblical texts didn’t exist, but the Covenant between God and men did exist. We know that even in the case of the destruction of all the biblical texts, the Covenant with God will nonetheless not be broken. We know that after the end of the time, when there will be no need in the biblical texts, the Covenant of God (with people) will exist likewise. We know that this union is based on the fact of the working of God in the history, who does work and rule over all the nations and personally communicate with each person as the loving Father. That’s why the issue of the Bible is not so endlessly important for us, as the issue of the Quran (for Muslims). For example we can acknowledge that there are indeed supposed contradictions (which may (only) seem as such) in the Bible. Actually these are not the contradictions. Like St Maximos the Confessor used to say: ‘When you see some contradiction in the Bible, you should understand that it is an indication for you…’, - …you know… like in the computer games:, - the switch to a new level, the switch to a new level of the comprehension (conception). God continues speaking through his Word, and the Bible is a living text for us, which is addressed to each person, including those who are present (here). Partly we know that a similar apprehension is present in Islam likewise; Many Muslims say that you cannot understand the Quran without the help of Allah. And herein they are right, I think; I don’t think that just a formal study of the text is able to let someone cognize the depths of Islam. And here is some point of contact. But if for us this (the Scripture) is clear because the Spirit of God lives in us, God enters the hearts of men, we become through the baptism the sons and daughters of God, truly adopt ourselves to Him (not born (as God’s children), but adopt (ourselves as God’s children) in the Baptism); then I don’t understand how is it possible for Muslims. This is of course a question. The question that appears now is: Which religious text can be considered as the Revelation of God Himself? And how can you distinguish it from the human creative work? Here we should say of course that there are the most diverse religious texts. And there are a lot of texts that pretend to be the Revelation of God. The most recent examples are the ‘revelations’ of Grabovoy, who masquerades the new appearance of Christ, or the ‘revelation’ of a pseudo-christ Vissarion, who had written his ‘gospel’. Not every text that pretend to be the Revelation of God is it indeed. This is clear, I think this is clear both for Christians and for Muslims. The Mohammed himself struggled with the false prophets, who were appearing in Arabia in his time. In the same manner the Bible very hard exposes every attempt of a false prophesy. For Christian the false prophesies are one of the heaviest sins which a man can make. But are there any principles by virtue of which we can distinguish the Divine text form the human (text)? By the way I would make it more precise: there may be an inspiration, not Divine and also not human. We can imagine and we know that there are texts that are (truly) inspired, but not by God, but by some other beings. For example Blavatskaya, - as she said (it herself), - wrote revelations of a certain spirit, or Aleister Crowle who wrote the revelations of a certain spirit, whom he rightly called satan. This inspiration (afflation) is possible too. How can you distinguish those things which God does from those things which a man does? We should understand that for Christians the Creator is the Almighty, Eternal, Atemporal, Spaceless Spirit, (who is) absolutely Good (otherwise why would He create His creation?), He is Faithfull, Loving, He cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (James 1), He is the Rock, his works are perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He, for He is holy (Deuteronomy 32), The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, who keeps mercy and truth (Exodus 34), who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that all turn from their way and live (Ezekiel 33), with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1). Only this unchangeable God can be called the Creator. That spirit which is changeable, is not the Creator because he is found in (inside) the time. That which is inside the time cannot be the Creator of the time. That spirit which is restricted by space cannot be the Creator of space; because it’s for sure that if he is bound by space, then he is not the Creator of it. That spirit which does not possess omniscience, is not the Creator of the Universe, because only the omniscient Creator can be the Creator of the Universe. Reasoning from these Divine attributes, we can present the following evidences, which the Church usually presents in defence of the fact that the Bible is the true Word of God (principally these are the criteria which apply (?) to every religious text which pretend to be the Word of God):
 

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Part 3

The first evidence is (as our catechesis says) the highness of the teaching, this is the principle of non-triviality; i.e. that what a human cannot think out himself; that which cannot be concluded from (worked out from) the data of human experience. It’s known that we, being humans, can create certain things, but within certain limits. (For example) We cannot create the fourth elementary light, we cannot imagine some realities (that are) outside of space. So there are a lot of such limits. We affirm that only the Bible possess this non-triviality. It contains a set of doctrines, which you can argue with or not argue with, but that cannot be concluded from (worked out from) the data of experience. For example the dogma of Triunity (Trinity), the dogma of the creation from nothing, the teaching about the incarnation of God, about the redemption (atonement) by the Blood of Christ, the teaching about the transfiguration of the Universe… All these doctrines cannot be concluded from the data of experience. For example: Where can we get the data about the general conciliation, general alteration (transformation). These data of the doctrine (doctrines) are not to be concluded (worked out) from the experience and thereby these data are not to be concluded from the previous religious life of the mankind. No matter how the atheists try to prove that the Trimurti is linked to the doctrine of the Trinity of Christians, this is some doubtful claim just because the Jews were not acquainted with Hinduism; (so) this is a far-fetched thing. You can find them incorrect doctrines, you can find them correct doctrines, but (anyway) they are non-trivial. This points out to the fact that the author of the Bible is some nonhuman source. We don’t yet specify which source it is, but it is (certainly) nonhuman. From this sign we by no means can conclude that it is Divinity, we can only say (now) that it is not a human. It is someone else than a human, who gave the Bible.
The second evidence is the purity of the teaching. I.e. the highest moral (ethical) level (/grade) which should belong to that text which is given by God. God is Good, consequently He cannot give not good laws; God is righteous, (consequently) He cannot give not righteous laws; God is merciful, (consequently) He cannot give brutal laws. That’s why we should expect from the Revelation of God to excel at this highest, inner, moral measure (/grade/ level). Otherwise it wouldn’t be the Word of God. And one of the primal characteristics of God, which both Christianity and Islam acknowledge, is the impartiality. God should have one standard towards all. In this sense the Bible perfectly meets this criterion. The moral norms of the Holy Scripture of both the Old and the New Testament, (while) rising up gradually, increasing  to the extent of man’s (spiritual) development, reaches the peak of the Gospel; which nobody has ever ascended over. This points to the fact that the author of the Bible is a certain spirit, we won’t yet specify which spirit, but it is a good and absolutely just spirit. The Bible is uncomfortable for everyone; it is not comfortable for the kings, who think that they can cover up their evil-doings with God. Even king David was disposed by God for his lawless deeds, even though he was a prophet. The Bible is uncomfortable for the poor because God says: ‘Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause’ (Exodus 23: 3), (the Bible) is uncomfortable for the rich, uncomfortable for the priests, uncomfortable for the prophets. It is comfortable only for them who truly do act according to the will of God. This discomfort shows that it (the Bible) has a completely non-human source. Imagine, if a man writes some text which he should fulfil himself (the prophets wrote only this kind of texts), it is not likely that he will make his life hard. In this sense (according to our view point) the Quran bears no comparison with the Holy Scripture. For example, for us, orthodox Christians, it’s an outrageous command of the Quran that a woman, - if she has left her husband and (hereafter) wants to go back to him, - must preliminary marry another one (man). For us this statement is an offence against a woman. It’s astonishing for us that the Quran contains (such) an enormous amount of calls for violence. We are astonished about how can it be like that. For us, most importantly, is astonishing the partiality of the Quran. Why has the prophet (i.e. Mohammed) got the moral privileges, which other people don’t have? In Christianity the demands for the carrier of the Revelation, on the contrary, are maximally high. The man who communicates with God must be maximally pure. Because only in the purest soul can enter the Spirit of Wisdom. As is written in the Book of the Wisdom of the king Solomon: ‘For into a malicious soul  wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin’ (Wisdom of Solomon 1: 4). That’s why we cannot accept the Quran as the Revelation of God, because of the moral reasons. The moral norms of the Quran are much lower than the biblical norms, which preceded them (i.e. the biblical norms preceded the norms of the Quran), and which the author of the Quran had known. Mohammed associated with Christians, he associated with the Jews, but he put the (moral) level (/grade) lower than it had been before. For us, for the nation of the Covenant with God, for those people who live in the union with God seven and an half thousand years already, for us is unclear the position of that spirit that represents himself as the Creator (in the Quran), who thereby puts the moral grade (/level) down.  
 

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selam to you Gentleman
I just want to say you are much appreciated for what you are doing here in sharing information which otherwise would have been inaccessible to those of us who do not know the language its being conveyed with..God bless you :)
 

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Part 4

3. The next characteristic (evidence) which for us is a sign of God’s Revelation is the existence of the prophesies. I.e. the author of the Bible is above (transcendent to) the time; he foretells what will happen next, in the future. And God bids (lets) the people to test Him therein; for example it is said: ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God’, - as God says through the prophet Isaiah, - And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? And the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any’(Isaiah 44: 6-8). That’s why the fact that the Bible has a lot of the fulfilled prophesies, - beginning by the 333 prophesies which are fulfilled in Christ and ending by the prophesies that are related even to nowadays 20/21st  centuries (for example the forced return of the Jews to the Holy Land and the massacre which is happening there, as it is foretold by Moses in the 28, 29, 30th chapters of the Deuteronomy; and this (i.e. the prophesies), this glory of God (i.e. the prophesies) is exactly fulfilling itself now, on our eyes), - suggests that the Author of the Bible is the Lord (ruler) of the history, who is above (transcendent to) the time; He is the eternal being. (But) The Quran doesn’t have fulfilled prophesies. The only prophesy that the Quran contains says that the Romans were defeated, but after a few years they will win. ‘This prophesy, - like the Emperor Manuel used to say, - is like if I would say that after the storm the calm will come.’ The history of that time knew many centuries of strife between the Persians and Romans, where every few years defeats interchanged with the victories. This is not the prediction (prophesy). For us, of course, this is a sign of the fact that it (the Quran) is not the Divine text.
4. The next argument (evidence) that verifies what the true Word of God is or is not, is the influence (effect) of the Word of God on a human. If this is the Word of God, then it will work (have effect), it will transfigure a human life. We know that the true Word of God has indeed transfigured and remade (altered) the lives of a multitude of people. The most well-known historic example is the massive spread of Christianity during the persecutions or the survival (persistence) of Christianity now. Today the Bible still continues to have the (this) Divine power. We know many instances when the people were healed and recovered through the simple laying-on of the text of the Holy Scripture. Hereof we see that some Divine power is co-inherent to (co-attributable to) the biblical text.
5. At last, for us is very important the fact that the authors of the Bible performed miracles; i.e. they had the witness (proof) that the Divine life worked in them. Moses performed signs, the Lord Jesus Christ performed signs, the Apostles performed signs; all of them performed a lot of miracles, showing (thereby) that the power of God worked in them. (On the contrary) We know that the author of the Quran made only one miracle, - which is described in the Quran, - the cleavage of the moon, which the people who were not his (Mohammad’s) followers had not seen. We know that his opposers always demanded a miracle from him, but he refused to do it. On the other hand the Lord said in the Gospel: ‘If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works’ (John 10: 37-38), and ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do’ (John 14: 12).
That is why we cannot recognize the Quran as the Revelation of God, we consider the Bible to be the Revelation of God. Besides this, we have (see) in the Quran a multitude of errors (inaccuracies). For example the statement that Alexander the Great came (to a certain place) and saw how the sun went down into the dirty spring, which is an absolutely straight error; the incorrect statement that Mary (Mother of God) is the sister of Moses and the daughter  of Imran, which is also an error of the chronological order. There is a gap of one and a half thousand years between Mariam, the sister of Moses, and the Virgin Mary. The Quran contains the actual errors like the one which says that Aman is the right hand, the vizier of the pharaoh, although he lived one thousand years after the pharaoh of the times of Moses. And many other examples which show the non-acquaintance with basics of the history of the author of the Quran. How can the omniscient God make such errors?
That is why I am convinced that the most attentive, impartial look shows that the Bible is the only undamaged (undefiled) Word of God which is preserved, because God the Almighty Himself preserves it; and the thought itself that Bible might be perverted is opposed to the idea of the omnipotence of God. On the other hand we find that Mohammed is a false prophet and his writing is false (too). Because the man who speaks for God’s Name (God), but who does not comply with the biblical norms which had been trusted (/given before) cannot be a true prophet of God. This is what I wanted to say.

 

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Questions to father Daniel.

- Do you believe that the four canonical Gospels of the Church were written in their complete, accomplished form by them that are considered to be their authors; i.e. Matthew, Lucas, Mark and John?

- Yes, I do. The witness of this fact is the Church itself that had examined this canon, infixed it and had carried on the investigation, which is analogical to the investigation of Othman who collected the authentic material (text) of the Quran. The same work that Othman (or rather others on his request) did in his time, had also been done by the Christian Saints, - the contemporaries or the closest successors of the Apostles, but they were directed not just by some political considerations, but by the Lord God the Holy Spirit. That is why I am convinced that like the Quran for the most part hands down the revelation of Mohammed (although there were some ayats lost), in the same manner I do not have any data in contrast to the fact that the textus receptus (i.e. the traditional Byzantine text which is used in our holy offices) is preserved exclusively in the same form as it had been issued by the hands of the Apostles. And hereby I am supported by a number of facts; for example the fact that Irenaeus  of Lyon witnessed about the four Gospels in their completed form , i.e. the Gospels as we know them now; the fact that other scripts of the first three centuries of Christianity demonstrate the four Gospels in their accomplished form, even as they exist today; the fact that references of Tertullian say that in his time (i.e. the beginning of the 3rd century AD) the original documents of the Gospels had been preserved, namely the original documents that were written by the hands of the Apostles themselves.

- You have told about the criteria (of the true Revelation), about what kind of spirit dictated this or that (revelation); How do you interpret the vision that the apostle Paul saw on his road to Damascus (Acts 9)? With what kind of spirit did he talk?

- He talked with Jesus Christ Himself, as it was witnessed by the other Apostles who examined his revelation when he had come to Jerusalem. By the way, I would like to make one remark concerning your last answer: It was said: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations’ (Matthew 24: 14). This refers to the concrete Good News of Jesus Christ, and not to some posterior revelation. I am sorry, but you have not accurately quoted it (His Muslim opponent had quoted this verse from the Gospel trying thereby to say that it refers to the future revelation of Mohammed (the Quran), but he omitted the word ‘this’, which clearly indicates that the Lord Jesus Christ in this verse talked only about His Good New).

- But had it (word ‘this’) been written exactly at the moment when Jesus said it?

- The Gospel had been written by the Apostles later, but it is the same Gospel (the same teaching as Jesus had brought). The Quran also was not written in the time of Mohammed. We  acknowledge thereby the authenticity of it (the Quran), although some surah’s were transcribed even from the memory of one man. So it’s mere tokenism.

- We have talked much about the contradictions, about the fact that there are no contradictions in the Bible and that they are not more but putative contradictions. I only ask you to interpret for me the following verses: ‘And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent’; It is about God here. Let’s look now at the end of this chapter: ‘And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel’ (1 Samuel 15: 29, 35). So explain please: How is it possible that one and the same book of the Bible and one and the same chapter of that book contains two verses that stand side by side, where it is firstly stated that the Lord is unchangeable and does never repent, but at the same time it is said that the Lord repented?

- The explanation is actually very clear: The fact is that the Lord Himself is not changeable, but the humans are changeable. When a man changes, then God's relation changes to them accordingly too. That’s it.

- Does this say that He (God) did not know it (i.e. the change of a man) beforehand?

- He knew it beforehand, but the fact is that God judges a man now, in accordance with what he deserves at the (any particular) present moment, not according to what he will be worthy of tomorrow.

- The beginning of the Gospel by St John contains verses where it is said:’ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’, and further, a little bit underneath is said: ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth’ (John 1). If this is an insertion, then in this way the wholeness of the monotheistic Holy Scripture is broken; if you believe that this is the original, authentic text, then suchwise this text is not the monotheistic text, and in this sense it backs down from the grace and the Covenant and the line of the prophets.

- The answer is very clear: This is the original text. And we affirm that God is not wordless; He has His own personal (i.e. that one which is a person in itself, which possesses a personhood) Word that became flesh. Even in the Quran Jesus Christ is named the word and the spirit from Allah. In the same manner we say that Jesus, being a person, is at the same time the Word. So this Revelation exists in Christianity likewise. If the Quran pretends to be the monotheistic religion, then the Christian Revelation, which is identical in this particular case, is completely monotheistic, of course.  

 

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Questions to father Daniel.

- Much-esteemed Father Daniel, you have said that the logical evidence of the Divine origin of the Biblical Revelation rests in particular upon the fact that the idea of the Tri-unity (Trinity) of the Divinity is non-trivial for the human consciousness, and only God could reveal it in the Scriptures. But there is one problem. Except for the insertion ‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one’ (1 John 5: 7), - which historically is recognized to be the latest insertion of the 16th century, - nowhere in the Bible, nor in the Old Testament, nor in the New Testament, is directly said about the triality of the Divinity. And likewise it is not said directly about the theanthropic nature of Jesus Christ by mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. I will stress it: Nowhere God says: ‘I am Trinity. Worship me, the Triune’; Nowhere Jesus says: ‘I am God. Worship me’; the Bible doesn’t have it. Do you acknowledge this fact?

- No, I do not. The example is very clear; Christ says: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matthew 28: 19). This is a direct evidence of the Tri-unity of God’s nature in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, in the Book of the prophet Isaiah it is said: ‘Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go’ (Isaiah 48: 16-17). All the three Persons are mentioned: the Father, and the Lord God who is sent by Him (by the Father), and the Holy Spirit. In general, there are several hundreds of places (verses) that say about the Tri-unity. In the same way there are a lot of places (verses) where the Lord directly says that He is God. He says: ‘I and my Father are one’ (John 10: 30).  This is an absolutely obvious confirmation of the theanthrophic nature. And there are a huge number of these examples in the Gospel. Not to mention the most simple thing when He answers to the words of Peter: ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee’; i.e. the fact that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God; ‘but my Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 16: 17). Thuswise there are a lot of this statements in the New Testament.
Anyway this is the theme of another discussion which I don’t want to start up now. The theme of the Tri-unity is present in the Old as well as the New Testament, beginning even by the first chapter of the book of Genesis.


- As far as I know someone who is not baptized is considered to be a pagan in Christianity. As far as I know Jesus was  baptized when he was 30 years old. My question is: Was Jesus a pagan before it? And how many of the Apostles were baptized? Thank you very much.

- The Christianity does not say that all who are not baptized are pagans; for example the Jews basically are not pagans on an actual basis - they belonged to the Old Testament. So this question is stated incorrectly already. Secondly, Christ was baptized not having need of it, but sanctifying the waters and giving to the men (the possibility) to be reborn from the water of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles were all baptized. They were baptized by John the Baptizer. The New Testament speaks clearly enough about it. That is why it is not correct to say that they were pagans before the baptism, - they were in the Old Testament, and later they entered into the New Testament with God through the faith in Christ, through the rebirth in Christ.

- I understood that you believe that all the texts of the four canonical Gospels are written by the hand of their authors and all of them are absolutely trustworthy, i.e. they are not changed, what presupposes absence of the contradictions between these four texts, of course. Because if all of them describe the same events, then they should be identical in description of these events. So, I heard from you an opinion that all the contradictions we see in the Bible has in one way or the other to do with our misunderstanding, i.e. with the fact that we consider them as contradictions, and not as the clarifications of one text for the other text. So I ask you to explain how can you conclude as our misunderstanding the clear contradictions in the four Gospels regarding the circumstances of the Resurrection of Jesus. Namely: How many women came to the tomb? Which things happened there? Who met them there? Was it an angel? Was it Jesus Himself in the image of a shepherd? Was the stone rolled back or did they ask the angel to roll the stone back? How can you explain these question?

- As I said before, the texts are preserved in the same form as they were issued from the hands of the Apostles. Undoubtedly there are no contradictions here. For example if we hear in the court the witness’s testimonies which say (describe) about the different acts, heterogeneous in time acts, then it would be not discrepancy in the witness’s testimonies. So it is in this case too, if one witness says that one woman came before the dawning, another says that another woman came at the daybreak, another says (that the woman) came after the sunrise, i.e. they see different facts. It is about cumulative (complementary), not about contradictory arguments here. The fact is that the Gospel’s descriptions of the Resurrection entirely complement each other and form a connected text. For a more detailed link I refer you to the ‘Evangelical (Gospel’s) story’ of St Theophan the Recluse, where this issue is completely examined in detail. I can reproduce (i.e. quote) it for you, but it will take hours and hours.  

- Based on the Gospel we know that the Jews awaited the coming of Christ. Before the coming of Christ the Elijah should come to get everything ready. The Jews came to Him (to Christ) with this question and asked him about it, and He replied: ‘That Elias is come already’ (Matthew 17: 12). He said it about John the Baptizer. And now they come to John the Baptizer and ask him: ‘Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou?[…]And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? (John 1: 19-22, 25). In this connection I have one question: If we know that after Jesus Christ there were no prophets but Mohammed, then which prophet, aside from Christ and Elijah, did the Jews expect?

- So… Elijah has not yet come in person, he shall come before the Second Coming. When John the Baptizer was just being conceived (was in the process of conception)  in the womb, the angel Gabriel appeared to his father Zacharias and said that: ‘he shall go before him (God) in the spirit and power of Elias’ (Luce 1: 17). Why? Because in the biblical description of Elijah the Prophet the spirit of the ministry of Elijah used to pass over; the Holy Spirit that rested upon Elijah passed over to Elisha (2 Kings 2). Later He passed over to John the Baptizer, although Elijah has not come yet in person. That’s why he said that ‘I am not the person of Elijah, although I carry out his ministry’ (paraphrase).
Now I will answer the question. The fact is that the Jews believed that two Messiah’s  will come. It was their delusion. They used to say that the crucified Messiah and the Messiah in glory will come. They called them the Messiah of Ephraim and the Messiah of David. That’s how they tried to interpret the Scriptures. And this two representatives (two Messiah’s) were separated because in the Scriptures of the Old Testament is said that the Messiah will suffer for the people, die and rise up; it is also said in the Scriptures of the Old Testament that He will come in glory to judge all the people. They (wrongly) referred this to different persons. That is why they separated the Prophet of the 18th chapter of the Deuteronomy from the suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53). John the Baptiser was not the Prophet of the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy, who is like unto Moses. The Prophet like unto Moses was and forever is Jesus Christ, who made the New Covenant between God and men, who performed his deeds with great signs and wonders. He saved the people from the sin, the curse and the dead; in this sense He is the same Prophet as Moses, as it was written in the Deuteronomy, 18th chapter. It is written ‘o Profïtis’ (Greek pronunciation) there, the Prophet with a capital P. In this sense Jesus Christ was the Prophet. As concerns the prophets after Christ, after Christ there were prophets (indeed). We are somehow blamed that we haven’t had prophets after Christ. The gift of the prophesy was and is in the Church. The prophets after Christ came up and continue to come up, but they don’t renew the Revelation which reached its fullness in Christ. They support the Church and teach her the will of God for every day. They are present even today.

 

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Gentleman said:
- Except for the insertion ‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one’ (1 John 5: 7), - which historically is recognized to be the latest insertion of the 16th century,
REMARK: This is not recognized so by the Church, but by some historical individuals.

To claim that in the Christian Bible this verse exists only from the XVI century is, - to put it mildly, -an evidence of either ignorance or deception. Let’s outline several theses on this subject:

1. This verse is not a posterior interpolation.
2.   This verse can be traced in the Latin tradition since ancient times. Tertullian cites it at the end of II century, in the middle of III century holy Martyr Cyprian of Carthage cites it (although he does not give a verbatim quote, but a link), in the IV century Hydatius, Priscillian, St Jerome of Stridon (who rebukes the Greek copyists that often omit this text) site it, in the V century author of the work "Against Varimad" sites it, as well as, - attention! - Orthodox Fathers on the Council of Carthage in AD 485, and Victor Vitensius. To the same century belong two ancient Latin manuscripts which include this verse. In the VI century this verse is quoted by the authors such as Fulgensius and Cassiodorus, in the VII century the verse is quoted by Saint Isidore of Seville. There is also one another Latin manuscript dating from this century which includes this 7th verse, in the VIII century it is quoted by St. Bede the Venerable, and so on. That is to say: in the Latin Orthodox West this text has been known for a long time, and is to be tracked in every century.
3. At the present time it is quite well confirmed that this verse was in Itala – the Old Latin translation made in the II century. The assertion of Metzger that it was not in the Vulgate of the Blessed Jerome has also been a subject of a serious criticism which proves that in the Vulgate this verse was originally present, although there are ancient manuscripts to be found where it is absent. Furthermore it is confirmed that this verse is present in the ancient Armenian translation, and Metzger's statement that it is not in Peshitto (Syriac translation) has been criticized. This statement (of Metzger) was made without sufficient study of the Syrian manuscripts, and is based only on the six editions of the texts.
4. There are Greek manuscripts dating earlier than the edition of Erasmus of Rotterdam which contain this verse.
5. Nevertheless, the fact is that the vast majority of the Greek Fathers of the Church did not know this verse or passed it over by silence. It is clear that even in the very early time, - at least from the IV century, - Greek manuscripts were spread where this verse was not present. However, we cannot say that absolutely no one of the Greek Fathers mentioned it. At least the modern advocates of 1 John. 5: 7-8 point at St. Athanasius of Alexandria who refers three times to this verse or quotes it (see: RE Brown, The Anchor Bible; Epistles of John. NY., 1982, p. 782), and secondly, they point at St. Gregory the Theologian who in one place of his writings speaks in detail about this verse, and from his words it is clear that the 7th verse was known to him, he defends its authenticity before the Arian opponents (you can check the link: The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Grand Rapids, 1978, 7. p. 323-324).
6. Another remarkable fact is that this verse is quoted as a part of the Scripture by the renowned Syrian writer of the VII century James of Edessa. It is obvious that he had not learned this from the unknown to him Latin translations, but he learned it either from the Syriac or Greek text.
7. Protestants, as well as some Orthodox had conducted a detailed lexical, syntactic, structural, contextual, rhetorical, homiletic and theological analysis of the given verses, as a result they came to the conclusion that the 7th verse is an organic part of the phrase, without it the phrase loses its coherence, meaningfulness.
For a more complete acquaintance with the present state of this issue from the Biblical studies I refer all who are interested to the book of Maynard Michael ("A History of the Debate Over 1 John 5: 7-8". Tempe, 1995) or to the article of J. M. Boyd ("And these three are one" (link)). However, some information one can find in the "Dogmatic Theology" (p. 180-184) of the Metropolitan Macarius (Bulgakov).
So the fact is that we deal not with the verse which supposedly was inserted into the Bible in the XVI century, but with the verse that can be traced even from the ancient times - in the Latin, and Armenian translations, in the writings of a number of Latin Fathers, of a Syrian writer and several Greek writers. The fact that for several centuries this verse "fell" from the Greek text, as well as from some of the dependent from it translations (including Slavic), and then came back, just affirms  that the Lord cares for the biblical text, and in His Providence restores it in its wholeness.  

By Yuri Maximov
Translated from Russian. Source

 

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Questions to father Daniel.

- There is a commandment of Christ, which says that it is not allowed to make any images of that which is in heaven above, or that which is in the earth beneath etc. (Exodus 20). Is the veneration of icons not a removal form the monotheistic tradition? And did Jesus give any command to paint the icons?

- The answer is clear: First of all Christ didn’t say that. You are quoting the ten commandments  which were given to Moses on a mountain. In the same book Exodus, in the Thorah, by the same God, practically in the nearby 25th chapter, it is plainly said: ‘And thou shalt make two cherubim of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubim on the two ends thereof. And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be’ (Exodus 25: 18-20). Hereafter it is said that before these cherubims the candlestick is placed, whereupon the lamps are lighted. Before the ark of the Covenant, where the ten commandments were kept, the incense was burned and the worship was performed. Even the sprinkling of blood was performed. This commandments were given as early as the Old Testament. Generally speaking: What is the meaning of this second (from the ten) commandment? The purpose of the commandment consists in the forbiddance of making idols. It is still strictly prohibited for us too to make idols. A Christian who makes an idol and considers him to be a god, loses ecclesiastical communion and automatically ceases to be Christian. We don’t consider icons to be gods. We consider it as the image, which we venerate, but which we don’t worship as a god. You should discern it very neatly. We worship only in accordance with the way of veneration which was given to Moses, note: it was even before Christ. What is the difference now? Now we portray humans because humans attained purification and sanctification by the Blood of Jesus Christ, they attained deification and became equal to the angels. The face of Stephan the Protomartyr, - who was executed for the name of Jesus Christ, - was like the face of an angel. That is why the humans who are united with Christ can become equal to God’s angels now, what is not possible in the Islamic world, unfortunately.

- If a man comes to you with a desire to follow the Christianity, but his parents had died, then what  should he do in this situation?

- ??? A man follows God personally. One can ask Islamic party the same question.  

- But what would you advise that man? Should he follow after you?

-  ??? He should follow after God, after Christ the Saviour, the true God.

- And what about his parents?

- The parents decide it for themselves. The matter of the relation with God is a matter of a personal choice of every man.  

- You addressed a question to the Islamic party about the criteria of the truthfulness of the Quran. I want to readdress this question, but not concerning the criteria of the truthfulness of the Bible. We know that both traditions dogmatically are not full and not possible not only without the Holy Scripture, but also without the Holy Tradition. You yourself said more than once that the essence of Christianity as well as Islam is monotheism. We understand the monotheism differently. The essence of God…
Moderator: Question please.
The holy tradition of Islam, Sunna,  has such a criterion called shirk, meaning that what defaces the essence of the monotheism. Today you said it yourself that a man who worships not God in Christianity falls off from Christianity. But we see that in your tradition this issue in its practise is not worked out. 90% of Christians…
Moderator: I ask you to ask the question, not the evaluative reasoning.
The question is: Don’t you think that (the fact that) with the silent consent of the Church 90% of Christians worship someone else than God  (whom you comprehend as the Trinity) is the criterion of the untruthfulness of Christianity?


- I answer very simple: Firstly the monotheism for us is not the main (doctrinal) component. We know that God is One, but this is not the most important Revelation that we received. We know that He is Triune, and this is a higher (greater) Revelation. As for the concept of shirk, the forbidden sin, we know that we don’t have this concept because of the fact that all sins are forgiven in Christianity in case if a man repents, not in the case if he doesn’t repent for his sin. If he does not repent for his sin, he will receive a recompense for it on the Day of Judgement. As for your statement that our tradition is not worked out, excuse me, but everything in our tradition is worked out very good. We have an enormous canonical corpus, which precisely regulates what and when something should be done. We have a superfine technique of the spiritual life. We have a superfine technique of the worship of God even on the level of thoughts, not only on the level of some outer deeds. Excuse me, but you just don’t know what we have. That’s it!

- Do you descend from a monkey or are you a creature of the Most High?

- :laugh: I descend from the hands of God.  :laugh: I am an old creationist; I work on the evidence (/proof) that God created the world from nothing in six ordinary days. I’m occupied with this work from 1998. Please be welcome on my site, there is an enormous number of material (data) in evidence of it.

- Where in the Bible Jesus says: ‘I am God’?

- ‘The Jews asked him, "Who did you say you are?" Jesus told them, "I am who I said I was from the beginning’ (John 8: 25, God’s Word translation, 1995). He says that He is from the beginning. Only the Creator is from the beginning, existing from the beginning, original, who needs nothing.
 

LizaSymonenko

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Thank you, Gentleman for these posts.

They are quite informative and good to have read in the case someone actually gets in to a debate with a Muslim.

It's good to have ready explanations in one's head to draw from.

 

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Conclusive speech of Father Daniel

I am glad that this meeting between the representatives of Islam and Christianity at last had taken place, that at last it was carried out without mutual threats, what (this kind of dialogue) unfortunately occurs more and more seldom in the latest time. I would like it to happen only more frequently. But now about the discussion.
Unfortunately (for Muslims) we, Christians, have never got to hear the distinct answers to the question about  the evidence of the truthfulness of the Quran. We tried hard to find the answers, but we didn’t find them. Unfortunately the absence of the answer is the answer too. Moreover, we, Christians, have not understood why should we believe the text which didn’t affirm (/prove out) itself. What is the principal difference between the Quran and the revelation of Mormon, the revelation of Vissarion, the revelation of Grabovoy and other pseudo-revelations, which, I think, Muslims would agree to consider them false? This is very sad of course, and I think this is a task (/challenge) for the representatives of the Islamic world to pay more attention to their book, to think out why do they believe (in the Quran), so that they would believe not blindly, but reasonably. God offers us (, Christians,) the possibility to valuate (his Revelation), (it is as if) God says (to us) ‘check it out’, God is not ashamed of the test (his Revelation being tested by humans). That being which is afraid of the test is not God. That is why our following proposal is a natural one, it automatically flows out of the discussion. If we haven’t come to the conclusion, in my opinion (unfortunately it is clear that we have not come to the conclusion, which could confirm (/prove) the apostleship of Mohammed), I would like (to suggest) to make two (new) themes (I don’t know in what order (Muslims want them to be discussed), but I think that Ali Vyascheslav will correct me): 1st theme: ‘The apostleship of Mohammed according to the Bible and the Quran’. It would be logical and objective (to make this topic the next one). And the 2nd theme is ‘Is the Allah of the Quran (I would stress that) God the Creator?’ Why? Because according to the faith of Christians the ideas (/comprehensions) of Muslims about God are in so far perverted that we cannot talk even about the sameness (of Muslim and Christian) God. That is why it’s necessary to examine these questions from a rational point of view.
It is very sad that some representatives of the Islamic young people took the liberty to resent because of the truth. We listen when they speak to us about Christ, we don’t resent, even though the rejection of the belief that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God is for us an offence too. The rejection of the belief that Christ was crucified on the Cross is for us an abnormal phenomenon too. This rejection is a blasphemy for us. But thereby we do not cry, nor sound off ‘Why do you blaspheme, how dare you!’ I believe that there must be a maximally fair and just valuation based on our reasonable (/rational) approach of the faith. Our God is the God of the reason. ‘It is not appropriate, - as St Basil the Great says, - for the Spirit of reason to distemper (/madden). It’s not appropriate for the Spirit of Wisdom to make the people foolish. It is not appropriate for the Seeing to blind the people.’ So this is my answer to you.

 

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Dispute with Muslims 2. The concept of God in Christianity and Islam. Source (movie on YouTube)

The speech of father Daniel. Part 1

My words I will dedicate to God the Most High, Eternal, changeless in the radiance of His Divine glory.
Outside of the space and the time eternally exists the great God. He is not to be described by the space, nor by the human mind, because He the Spirit, One, Eternal, Bodiless, Changeless, All-Good, Holy, Righteous, Loving, All-Wise, Unseen, Inconceivable, Who needs nothing; He is the source of the goodness and Truth, Hyper-Rational and Unapproachable, the Power by no ration definable and only by His own will determinable, for all (that) He wants He can (do). His Power penetrates all substances, (while) remaining pure (at the same time). It dwells outside of everything and is removed from the variety of all beings, being Hyper-Substantial and above all Existing; Which establishes all the authorities and ranks, being itself above every authority and rank. God is the Light itself, the Goodness itself, the Life itself, the Love itself, the Substance (/Essence) itself, so that He has not got existence, nor anything else from anything that exists. But He Himself is the source of existence for all that exist, the Life for all that live, the Intellect for all that are rational, the Cause of all goods for all the beings. He knows everything before everything. We name Him Love as He said it Himself, referring (thereby) not to some carnal feelings that we have, but having in mind the fact that He, - as the Apostle Paul used to say, - ‘suffereth long, and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not his own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, His love never faileth’(1 Corinthians 4-8). He will not love like (in the way He loves in) in Islam. He loves His creature already, for He created it. His love is (exists) before His creation. In His hyper-love, even in the excess of (His) love created He the creatures. Because His love in all fullness manifests itself inside of His Divine substance (/essence), because the three Persons of God eternally exist in the eternal love. But God wished that other creatures too would participate in His blissfulness, would participate in His glory and would become the participants of His Divine life, not just of laws, not just of some created spiritual or material blissfulness, but that the rational beings would enter into His blissfulness and become the communicants of His endless glory and Power. It is not for nothing, it is not some rejection of the monotheism, because in the fact of creation itself every man, or every being is privy to God’s Power because this Power keeps a man, strengthens a man, gives him the reason (intellect), will and senses, and later asks him how he used these reason, will and senses. This is natural (logical). We know and believe (for we have a sound sense (reason)) that God is the Creator of all things seen and unseen. He embraces all, but is not embraced by anything. He is the place for Himself, in Him is the place for the Universe. We cannot say like some denominations of Islam (like Wahhabism) do, that He is limited and spatial. This is certainly a foolishness. How can the Creator lose Himself in the nets of His creation? How can the Creator be lesser that His creature? It is an obvious absurd which is characteristical for some (I would stress that) denominations of Islam. This is an absolute lie. For us this is an expression of the true, classic paganism and a rude, unforgiveable sin (that thing which Islam calls shirk). Undoubtedly this is an offense of the majesty of God the Creator. Everything created by God is beautiful because He is not above good and evil, (but) He is the Goodness itself, He is the pure, substantial Goodness and the following after His will is goodness. He created everything magnificent. The evil did He not create because the evil does not have a substance, that is why it is not created. The evil is the ugliness, the shortcoming, the defectiveness, the sickness, the lawlessness which originates from the fact that the free beings misuse their freedom. The Heavenly Master destroys evil, tries to heal the evildoers from this sickness, but if they are stubborn, then He renders them for their evil deeds. That is why the thought that from God originates both good and evil is absolutely unallowable for us. We (can) understand under the word evil some cataclysms which God sends as a punishment against the evildoers for their evil deeds (this is not what he means in the next-to-last sentence). But if we talk about the moral evil, (then) it is not rooted in God, it is not pleasing to Him and as the Gospel says it is that plant which the Heavenly Father did not plant, this is the misuse of the free will of the rational beings, for what the rational beings justly receive the recompense. God is the Almighty (the Pantokrator), dominating over everything and reigning with the unending and the immortal Kingdom. He has not any rival, there is no one co-equal to Him. It is unacceptable to add comrades to God; here (in this sense) we will agree with the Quran. Certainly an offender is he who attributes the second, the third, the tenth, the hundredth god (to the one true God). An offender is he who says that a certain book, whether it be Quran (or anything else), coexists with the Creator. This is certainly a shirk, wickedness and an adding of something else to God’s glory. This is the rejection of the monotheism, which indeed leads to the eternal death those people who have attached themselves to this false teaching.

 

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Part 2

God is not indifferent to His creature. He is not a far-off Lord. And here the Quran is right when it says that God is closer to a man than his carotid artery. This is true, but He is not just close by, He interestingly watches His creation. Look what the Word of God the Most High says: ‘I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? (they were destroyed) mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city’ (Hosea 11: 3-4, 8-9). Thus God looks upon each man. He has pity on the man when the man goes away from Him. He does not look indifferently on him. He tries to save every man. He seeks out a man on all of his ways. He leads astray indeed, here is the Quran right, but He leads him astray not from good ways, but from the evil ways. He does everything what does not violate the free will of the rational being in order to bring every creature to Himself; not just to some blissfulness in the paradise, but to the blissfulness of the union without fusion with the Pantokrator Himself, to the participation in His Divine life, in His Divine glory, in His Divine love. He is the Saviour of the perishing, He heals the suffering, He punishes the lawless ones, He puts the fallen up, He overthrows the proud, He is above all, ahead of all, and nobody will escape His power. He is from the eternity unborn Father, and He has His own Word, the Word Which is not separated from Him; for who would be so foolish to say that God erstwhile was dumb? You said it yourself, rightly said it that one of the names of Allah is the Speaker. But we know that the Word of God is not the same as the word of man, It does not dissolve, It does not disappear in the air; for it would be foolish to think that the Eternal God may have a temporal word. Like David had said it before in the Book of Psalms: ‘For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth’ (Psalm 118: 89-90). In yet another place it is said about God the Word: ‘Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end’ (Psalm 102: 25-27) and the eternity is with Thee. And the Holy Spirit co-exists with this Word, the Holy Spirit is the eternal Life of the Father, who proceeds from the Father and abides in the Son. God is Triune, as He has revealed it about Himself. But these are not three separate Gods, and not three added Gods; not like a matrioshka of three componential Gods, but it is the Father who has His own Word and His own Spirit; and thereby One and the Other, and the Third has an ‘I’, has a self-consciousness, but all of them exist in a complete oneness – one essence, one power, one might, one kingdom, one strength (power), one radiance, one dominion and one will. The Father eternally begets the Word, and from His (Father’s) essence He originates the Holy Spirit, who inherently are rooted in the essence of the Father. Imagine: It is like the radiance of the light of the sun, or the radiance of the fire which generates the light and the warmth at the same time, that inherently are coessential with the fire; we cannot imagine the fire not shining, and not giving warmth, it would not be a fire. In the same way God always has in Himself and from Himself…, begot and begets at the same time the Word, generated and generates His own Spirit; not separated Gods, but He has His own Word begotten from Him, but thereby it is a personal (possessing a personhood) Word, as It has revealed it Itself; and the Father has His own Spirit, who also has a personhood, like the Spirit Himself revealed it to us. Hereby we would say that even in the Quran likewise it is said that the Word of Allah is personal. It is Isa. And we say too that ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’(John 1: 14-17). If the Law was given before, and they refer always to it (and that is right)… But what was the Law given for? To show the way. But Jesus, - the Word of the Father, - came to give life. He came to give the way of the reunion with Him. Which does not consist in a formal performance of the laws (that have not brought anybody to perfection), but in the union with Him to receive the power and life of Creator the Almighty Himself (but which consists in receiving the power and life in the union with Creator the Almighty Himself); who works inside of man and breathes in us with an unearthly breath.
 

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Part 3

We don’t say that the Son is being born from the Father as a result of a sexual union with a certain woman, as some Muslims incorrectly understand it. This incorrect understanding is largely based on the wrong perception of Mohammed himself, in the Quran. The Son is being born from the essence of the Father not in the same way as a man is born from a man. The similarity is only in the fact that the one who is being born has the same essence and is equal to his parent. Only herein. The Son is being born without seminal loss, without the separation; the Son wholly abides in the Father, and the Father wholly abides in the Son. There is no place separated for the Father, or separated for the Son, for the one abides in the other. And God had no mother outside of time. God the Son is being born from the Father without mother. We indeed are ready to express a solidarity with the Quran when it says that it is unacceptable to say 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah’ (5: 116). Indeed this teaching is unthinkable for us; we have never considered Holy Virgin Mary to be a distinct goddess. We have never considered her to be goddess at all. This is a human, the greatest among the righteous, the prophetess who had born in the flesh That One who from the eternity is born as God. But she had born Him according to the human nature, not according to Divine nature. Because the Divinity and humanity are united in Christ without mingling – it is not acceptable to say that God is turned (changed) into man; it is not acceptable to say that a man is turned into God. It would be an unacceptable sin for which a man will be guilty in the sin of idolatry, idol-devotion, because of which he will be deprived of the Divine glory (grace). We also agree with the Quran when it condemns the teaching that God is one of the three. There are no three Gods. Where they would have place if there were three Gods? How would they be allocated if there were three Gods? How could those places be separated? No, God is one, having His own Word, or the Son, because He is the geniture of His essence, and His own Spirit, who proceeds from His essence. God says it Himself: ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God’ (Isaiah 44: 6). That is why there cannot be additional Gods. But! God can give His glory, and even His name to those who united themselves with Him. That is why it is said in the Bible: ‘God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods’ (Psalm 82: 1). Which gods? The created beings, of course, that participate in the glory of God. That is why they are called ‘gods’, not because they became gods, or because to them befits God’s veneration. In every situation the glory and worship are due only to the one God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in everlasting glory abiding Trinity. Only to Them, or to Him are due glory, honour and worship. To no one is the  Divinely worship (worship as to God) allowable, but to the Creator alone. According to the canons of the Holy Church a man who worships no matter what (beside God) with a Divine worship, - i.e. that which is in Greek called ‘latria’ (λατρεία), or ‘sluzhenie’, as it is translated into Russian, - is to be expelled from the Church as an idolater. For example, if someone will come to the church and will worship the icon as God, then he will be deprived of the ecclesiastical communion as an idolater, idolworshipper, who made god out of a thing. We can bow down before the icon so as to give honour (to him who is depicted on it), just like we bow down (pay homage) and greet each other at a meeting, but in no wise can we bow down to it as to a God, because it would be an unacceptable crime. That is why some (Muslim religious) rites, - like the veneration of a lifeless, weird stone, - are strange for us. The bows towards the empty ….(?) in the mosques are strange for us. These things are absolutely odd (strange) if they are not seen as the symbols. If they are seen as the symbols, then it is not clear why do you reproach us for the veneration of icons. Because after all the glory and worship are due only to Creator the Almighty.
So, how do we Christians relate to the Islamic concept of God? First of all, can Islam somehow enrich Christianity? No; we have the Revelation, and, as you see, all the best qualities of God, His excellent Divine names have always been known to us. They were known before Islam, before the Quran, and the Quran has with nothing enriched Christians. All the great (/best) things  that we knew about God, we knew (them) from Scriptures, we knew from the direct communion (/contact) with God, that is accessible for each Christian, accessible without mediators. Because a man communes in the Orthodox Church with God without mediators, exactly because he is a son for the Heavenly Father through the adoption, but not through the eternal begetting from His essence. That is why we know God personally. Herein is the Quran right when it rebukes Christians for making themselves sons of God. But it is not we who proclaim ourselves to be the sons of God, God proclaims us to be His sons through the belief in Jesus Christ, His Son and through the communion of the Holy Spirit that abides in Him.

 

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Part 4

That is why we know God better than the representatives of Islam. And this is understandable. The one thing is when a man names himself a slave, quite another thing is when a man knows that he is a son, and God calls him a son. The mysteries are revealed to the son, but the mysteries are closed for the slave. The son can know precisely, but a slave can only guess. That is why we are not amazed that the comprehensions about the Allah in the Quran are in so far radically different from the comprehensions in the Word of God that we often question the sameness of Allah with God the Creator the Almighty. Why? Look, according to the Quran Allah mocks those who did not come to believe and increases their delusion (‘Allah mocks them and prolongs them in their transgression [while] they wander blindly’ (2: 15)), ‘Allah took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see’ (2: 17), ‘Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills’ (35:  8 ), ‘if Allah had willed, they would not have associated’(6: 107), ‘thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills’(74: 31). Thuswise it turns out that Allah of Muslims is on the one hand the immediate cause of all the deeds of a man, both good and evil, but thereby he punishes them for what he compelled them to do. Is this just? Does it comply with ‘Entirely Merciful’ and ‘Especially Merciful’ Allah (1: 1), as almost every Surah of the Quran declares this in its very beginning? To compel to do something and then to punish for it – is this a mercy? It is known to us who compels a man to do evil, although he cannot compel, he can only clue him in on it. This is Satan. But is it possible to attribute the features of Satan to the Creator? This is a blasphemy, this is an unforgivable sin, this is a shirk. So we cannot acknowledge these statements (of the Quran to be right). If Allah directs the (bodily) members of an adulterer, - excuse me, - is he not a co-participant? How can you do (say) that? These are unallowable words about God. In my opinion it is a sin to say in this way. Moreover he ascribes himself the features that are inadmissible for the true Creator. It is said that he ‘is planning a trickery’ (in English version it is ‘I am planning a plan’ (86: 16)), ‘for Allah is the best of all the tricksters’ (47: 54, but in English version this is probably not to be found), ‘he is deceiving’ (4: 142), ‘Allah eliminates what He wills or confirms’ (13: 39), he does not possess omniscience, he does not know what will happen (?), he intends to afflict some for their sins (5: 49, 4: 168-169 and other verses), while the true God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33: 11). Moreover Muslims do not have any guaranty that the revelation will not be changed; it is said in the Quran: ‘And when We substitute a verse in place of a verse - and Allah is most knowing of what He sends down - they say, "You, [O Muhammad], are but an inventor [of lies]." But most of them do not know’(16: 101), it is even more clearly said in the 2nd  surah, 106th ayat : ‘We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?’; this clearly means that Allah has the right to change his opinion and even contradict to himself, what is inadmissible for the true God, for ‘God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he’ (Deuteronomy 32: 4). If it is so, then Muslims do not have any guaranty that Allah will not change his word.
That is why we certainly call all Muslims to come under the protection of the true God the Creator, the eternal Father, His eternal Word, and the Holy Spirit; and to receive life that works inside of Them, to receive the forgiveness of sins, because God is forgiving and purifying a man, not simply making him sinless, but He is purifying a man from the roots of sin. He is not only forgiving and purifying a man, but is also filling him with His Divine life and glory. This is what I wanted to say to you today.


P.S. Part of the movie with translation is also available on YouTube. Don’t forget to click on the ‘interactive transcript’.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnU6qKM3I8s&feature=related
 

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Responses of father Daniel to some questions and arguments of Muslim opponents (the arguments are not translated).

- Can God ‘become’? You said that you believe in God who is absolutely changeless. Can you apply the word ‘become’ to God?
- God is changeless and remaining always changeless He can include in His person, - but not in His nature, - something else. Why? Just because before the creation of the world there was no world, but only beginningless God. But He includes in Himself… i.e. He creates the world within Himself because God is omnipresent. We cannot say that He creates the world somewhere outside of Himself. Within Himself appears something different than He – the world. In this way He can a part of the created world include in His Divine person, not including it in His Divine nature. Surely He can.
- I.e. He can become the one whom He had never been before?
- Again, as a person yes He can, in the sense of nature no.  
- In what way do you separate here a person from the nature? Are the concepts of person and nature applied to God? Or are they something like an attribute?
- I repeat it, when we talk about God as the Creator of the Universe, we say in this way that God has such an attribute as the Creator of the Universe. Does the appearance of the Universe change God? No, it does not. Did He create the world within Himself? Of course within Himself. In whom then, if not within Himself? There are no co-existing spaces or material which organizes it. If He then holds the whole world with His Power, does it change Himself? No, it does not. If He takes a part of this world and includes it in His Divine life in a special way, does it change Him? No, it does not.
- […]
God cannot change, He can only create within Himself, otherwise He would not be omnipresent.
- Why then He ‘became’?
-      He 'became' the Creator without being changed… In what way? we do not know. I think you don’t know either in what way He created it. This a great mystery, before which we can only bow down, isn’t it?
- […]
-       He does not metamorphose, He remains unchangeable and His Divine nature is perfectly self-identical. And He includes in His Divine, - I repeat that – not nature, but hypostasis and self-consciousness, in His ‘I’ He includes a part of the Universe created by Himself, and which was created within Himself.
- […]
-       He ‘became’ as the Man, but He was as God. That’s it! The ‘become’ is an attribute of human nature.
- […]
-       The Universe is created by the Word of Allah, but thereby it (the Universe) is not Allah. The Universe stands by His Power. Is Allah changed therefore? No, He is not. How did the world appear? We don’t know. Is it a mystery? Yes, it is. Thereby the ‘becoming’ is not applied to Allah, but to the creation. The Incarnation happens in this way too, as if a new creation. And ‘to become’ is applied to that part of the created Universe which is being included in the Divine life.
- […]
-       Adam became a man. Does it mean that God who created Adam was changed?
- No, because Adam was not God. That is why God has remained the same as He was before. The changes happened in the man.
-       Right, but is Adam created in God, or outside of God? Is God omnipresent? Is He present everywhere?
- […]
-       The Incarnation does not change the Divine existence. We say it so: the union (of the Divine and human natures in Christ) happens inalterably (for God’s nature, existence).
- […]
-       ‘Became’ refers to (Christ’s) humanity, not Divinity.
- When Jesus was on the Cross and even died, did God die at this moment or not?
- Not in His Divinity of course. God is immortal and is not subjected to any change.
- […]
- I would give a simple example: You will die, but your soul will not die, isn’t it?! Can you say that you died? Yes, you died with your body, but not with your soul. That’s it. So is with God: God the Word who became the true Man, dies as a human, but remains immortal and not subjected to the suffering, not subjected to a change as God. How? Why? I bow down before the Divine mystery. If God said so, His wish is my command! If you want to correct the word of the Creator, it is your right, but you will get shirk for it.
- […]
- The terminology of ‘hypostasis’ exists in the New Testament. To say that it had been brought in it is not correct. Secondly, to say that there is a mystery which allegedly is taken from the tradition… I would say it very simple: This mystery is to be found in the prophets. Isaiah talks about it, it is said: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7: 14), that is ‘God is with us’. In yet another place it is said: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9: 6). Thuswise the old prophets and the Gospel say it straightforwardly that God became Man. ‘God was manifest in the flesh’ (1 Timothy 3: 16), like the apostle Paul says. You can acknowledge it or not, but there is the Bible, there is an absolutely precise, clear text (i.e. there is an absolutely precise and clear text in the Bible which says it). One can go in for Bible criticism, if he has such a courage, but there are certain, - not traditions, - but revelations of God that ought to be accepted, or not accepted. If you have power to contest with God, you can try.

- […] ‘And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh’ (Revelation 19: 15-21). Could you give a comment about how far does this section reflect your apprehension and your understanding of God as God of Love; and in what way would you correlate this to the presentations of other books of the monotheism, like Tanakh and the Quran?

- I think everything is very clear. The fact is that the one who sat upon the horse is the Christ, of course. The sword of His mouth is the Word of God which goes out and executes righteous judgement of God. The context makes it clear as well as other parallel verses of the Bible, like the Epistle to the Hebrews. Note that it is not commanded  to Christians here to go and slaughter antichrist. The beast that goes out of the earth and his forces is the antichrist, the last enemy of God, which in particular is mentioned in Islamic tradition too. He is destroyed, - as is known,-  not by humans, but directly by God Himself. God is mighty... He destroys the nations for their lawless deeds, as He says it: ‘I kill, and I make alive’ (Deuteronomy 32: 39). He executes His Divine justice.
Pardon me, but in the Old Testament nothing is said about rape, let’s correct these words of yours.
While it is said (in the Sunna) that you have to separate the whole world into two parts: the land of war and the land of peace, the New Testament does not contain this kind of things. By the way, the Old Testament also gives the precepts of the holy war only for one concrete place, not for all the places of the Universe in general. And here (in the Quran / Muslim teaching) we see the activity of some man-hating power, which clearly wants to stir up the sectarian hatred in the whole world. Not for nothing it was said to Christians to preach the Gospel through the word, not through the sword. If Christians inculcated the Gospel through the sword, this is a sin. So do we valuate it. This is precisely our relation to it. Nobody can take away from God the right of the supreme judgment. He is the Supreme Lord of the Universe, He is the Lord of life and death of all people. And as you see, this fragment illustrated it in the most perfect way. Notice that even not a single man participates in it, God Himself personally does it. For we know from the New Testament, actually from the Revelation of St John the Theologian, that Jesus Christ who sits on the horse is called the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Begin and the End of the creation, who was and is and is coming, the Almighty (Pantocrator); i.e. He is called God. It is here perfectly clearly said so. That is way before us is the clear manifestation of God’s justice, which is not only allowable, but even obliged to be. Otherwise how this world, that sinks because of evil, will be cured, if the Divine justice will not be restored? But the Divine justice is the privilege of God. It can be put into practice through a man in concrete circumstances when God concretely gives him this authority. For example: Has a sovereign ruler or the president the right to punish someone capitally? Yes, he has. Because what for did God give him the sword? To punish in retaliation for murder, for example. This will be a fulfilment of God’s justice. But God does not want the separation and the ubiquitarian and constant war. This is the relation of Christians towards the Islamic Jihad. Exactly herein is the clear difference.
 

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Conclusion of father Daniel

I would like to say that as a result of our meeting I came to such a conclusion that Muslims have several different apprehensions of God that coexist inside one and the same Islam. When a Muslim comes to Mecca for the hadj, he associates with the Wahhabi’s that are evidently pagans. […] Pardon me, I cannot call otherwise a man who believes that God physically sits on a chair somewhere in a particular heaven. This is a clear paganism which perverts… (his speech was interrupted at this moment by a protesting outcry of one listener from the audience)
The second thing: Just as we were convinced before, even so have we now come to the evident conclusion that the concepts of God for Muslims very often flow out (are expressed) in the apprehension of some far-off Lawgiver, who doesn’t give the real opportunity to meet with him. We do not have got any explanation (in the Quran) about the possibility of the meeting with God. And this is not surprising because a man who calls himself a slave, that man who believes that he can never be a son, that man who rejects the eternal Word of God, […] such a man can never of course meet with the Creator and this man will forever remain in a hopeless darkness. Why? Because God is the Light, outside of Him is darkness, God is the Love, outside of Him is hatred, God is the Power, outside of Him is weakness, God is the life, outside of Him is death. That is why it is for sure that from today’s discussion I have drawn a conclusion too… drawn a feeling that Muslims remain under the  darkness of the shadow of death. They see the Creator from afar, they see from afar may be the real Creator… the real One, but because He is very far-off by their feeling (not by the distance of course, but by their view) His image accretes with various superstitions (like the apprehension of the limitation by the space), false interpretations (the ideas like the participation of God in evil), incorrect apprehensions (such as one which says that God does some dirty tricks sometimes). All of this happen because Muslims, - according to my clear perception, - are found extremely far-off. And certainly I feel very sorry for our opponents, because it’s for sure that from their own speeches such a feeling of farness appears. I would like that people would get as close as possible with the Creator. I think this wish will not offend Muslims, because every man, both Christian and Muslim, must come as close as possible to the Creator. But I am convinced, - and the undamaged Word of God convinces me herein, - that to get close with the Creator without the eternal Son, the eternal Word of God and without His life-giving Spirit is absolutely impossible.
 

Gentleman: Muslims in general don’t agree with his his vision of Islam.
 
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