Archive for the ‘scandal of the cross’ Category

Why the Islamic Rejection of Jesus’ Crucifixion is Untenable

May 11, 2011

Extra-biblical evidence for the reality of the Crucifixion includes the pagan writers Tacitus (‘Christus suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius’) and Lucian the Greek (‘Christians worship the crucified sage’), the Christian apologist Justin Martyr referred to the ‘Acts of Pontius Pilate’ (now lost, but must have chronicled the death of Jesus to have been referred to) and Jewish writers Josephus (‘Pilate condemned Him to be crucified and to die….’) and Babylonian Talmud (‘He was crucified on the eve of the Passover’). Early Christians used the Lord’s Supper and the Cross as symbols of their Master’s sacrifice (I Cor 11:23) and were never in doubt about the reality of the Crucifixion. Conventionally Muslims have maintained that a substitute man was crucified but this opens a can of worms. Usually it was said to be Judas Iscariot (impossible since he committed suicide, Matt 27:5; Acts 1:18) or Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21, impossible since he came from Libya and would have looked very different from Jesus). Why was it even necessary to involve an innocent substitute? Why did the crucified man not cry out that a mistake had been made? Why did Mary recognise him as her Son (John 19:26)? Why would God deceive the disciples, who, the Qur’an tells us were inspired by God and believed in Jesus (sura 5:111), into thinking that Jesus had died and risen again, since this made them realise that Jesus truly was divine (‘declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 1:4-5)). If Jesus was not God, this deception would have caused the disciples to worship another god, which is the greatest sin (shirk) known to Islam. How could God deceive godly men into committing the most ghastly sin imaginable – He is not a deceiver!


Actually, the Quran says that ‘Allah is the best of deceivers’ (Sura 3:54).

The Scandal of historical particularity

August 26, 2009

Both the ancient religions of the Indian subcontinent and much of 20th C. European theology share a disdain for the epistemic value of historical events. Religious knowledge is taken to be knowledge of a timeless, universal realm. Religious truth must be accessible to all rational human beings through the exercise of reason, direct personal encounter or mystical experience of the divine. History, subject to the flux of change and uncertainty, cannot be the source of ultimate truth.

Moreover, the traditional Jewish-Christian notion of divine revelation being mediated through specific events at specific times and places is morally repugnant, because it seems to deny to people at other times and places that direct, immediate access to God which my global religion must entail…religious faith is cut loose from any mooring in empirical, and especially hsitorical, events.

Vinoth Ramachandra, The Recovery of Mission, pp.126-127

He also quotes bakcs this up with Lessing’s assertion that even if the historical evidence for the reliability of the gsopel accounts were compelling, nevertheless:

Accidental truths of history can never become the proff of necessary truths of reason…That, then, is the ugly broad ditch which I cannot get across, however often and earnestly I have tried to make the leap.