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Dr. Abu Ameenah bilal Philips
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THE TRUE MESSAGE OFJESUS CHRIST
BYDR. BILAL PHILIPS
(St. David'. Collele, UDivenity ofWale.,U.K.)
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Copyright 1996 Dar AI Fatah
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may bereproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmittedin any fonn by any means-electronic, mechanical.photocopying. recording or otherwise-without priorpermission of the copyright owner.
Dar AI FatahPrinting, Publishing & Distribution Co. Lie.P.O.Box 23424, Sharjah, V.A.E.Tel: (9716) 322308 I Fax: 322526
This edition was reproduced byF.G.O at Zulli, Saudi Arabia.P.O. Box: 182, Zulfi 11932Tel. 06422 5657 - Fax: 06422 4234
Cooperative Office Of Call and Guidance at Zolti, 1999'/" KilrK FilM NllliolrllllilNll,J' ClllllkJriJrr-iJr-hlJliclldimt DtIt. """
Philips, Abu Ameenah BilalThe true message of Jesus.- Zolfi.88 p.. 17 ernISBN: 9960-813-61-41- luses Christ
2- Christianity I Title0896/20
Legal Deposit no. 0896/20ISBN: 9960-813-61-4
INTRODUCTIONJesus Christ represents the common link between the two
religions having the most followeJl on the earth today,Christianity and Islam. The following study of Jesus'message and his person is based on this link. It is hoped thatthrough this study, both Muslims and Christians will betterunderstand the significance of Jesus and the importance of hismessage.
However, for us to accurately identify the truemessage of Jesus Christ, an objective point of view must bemaintained throughout the course of our research. We shouldnot allow our emotions to cloud our vision and thereby blindus from the truth. We must look at all of the issues rationallyand separate the truth from falsehood-with the help of theAlmighty.
When we look at the variety of false religions anddeviant beliefs around the world and the zeal with which theirfollowers uphold these beliefs, it becomes quite evident thatthese people are not able to find the truth because of theirblind commitment to their beliefs. Their tenacious adherenceis usually not based on an intellectual understanding of theteachings, but on powerful cultural and emotional influences.Because they were brought up in a particular family orsociety, they firmly cling to the beliefs of that society,believing that they are upholding the truth.
The only way that we may find the truth aboutanything is to approach it systematically and logically. First,we wei~ the evidence and then we judge it by theintelligence which God has given us. In the material world, it
is fundamentally intelligence that distinguishes humans fromanimals, which act purely on instinct. After determining whatthe objective truth is, we must then commit ourselves to itemotionally. Yes, there is a place for emotional commibnent,but emotional commitment must come after a reasonedcomprehension of the issues. Emotional commibnent isessential, because it is evidence of a true understanding.When one fully and properly understands the reality of theissue, one is then mentally and spiritually prepared tovigorously uphold that reality.
It is from this intellectual and spiritual point of viewthat the subject of Jesus' message and his relevance to thosewho desire to follow God will be analyzed in the followingpages.
Dr. Bilal PhilipsSaudi Arabia, 1989
CHAPTER ONE: THE SCRIPTURESThe topic 'The True Message of Jesus Christ' is comprised oftwo basic parts: l.The Message and 2.The Person of JesusChrist. Each one is inseparable from the other. In order tounderstand Jesus' message, we must know who he was.However, for us to understand who he was, it is alsonecessary to identify and comprehend his message.
There are two possible avenues which may be takento look into the identity of Jesus Christ and the content of hismessage. One is based on the historical record compiled bymodem historians from the writings and reli
documentary evidence, or humanly concocted tales andmyths, or a mixture of both? Are the Bible's Old and NewTestaments divinely revealed scriptures? Is the Qur'aan(Koran) authentic?
For the Bible and the Qur'aan to be the divine wordof God, they must be free from inexplicable contradictions,and there should be no doubt about their content nor abouttheir authors. If this is the case, the material contained in theOld and New Testaments and the Qur'aan can then beconsidered reliable sources of infonnation concerning themessage and the person ofJesus Christ.
Authentic ManuscriptsIt has been documented by many scholars from
various branches and sects of Christianity that much of thematerial in the Bible is of doubtful authenticity.
In the preface of The Myth of God Incarnate, theeditor wrote the following: "In the nineteenth century,Western Christianity made two major new adjustments inresponse to important enlargements of human knowledge: itaccepted that man is a part of nature and has emerged withinthe evolution of the fonns of life on this earth; and it acceptedthat the books of the Bible were written by a variety of humanbeings in a variety of circumstances, and cannot be accordeda verbal divine authority.,,2
In the international news magazine, NewsweeK.which carried an article entitled '0 Lord, Who Wrote ThyPrayer?', a group of theologians from the major Protestant
2 The Myth a/God Incarnate, p. ix.3 October 31, 1988, p. 44.
sects, along with noted Roman Catholic Biblical scholars inthe United States, after a detailed examination of the earliestmanuscripts of the New Testament, concluded that the onlywords of the "Lord's prayer,,4 that can be accuratelyattributed to Jesus Christ is "father". That is, according tothese learned church scholars, all the words that came afterthe beginning phrase, "Our father", of the most fundamentalChristian prayer, were added centuries later by church scribeswho copied the early manuscripts of the Gospelss. u.s. News& World Report. further quotes the team of scholars as sayingthat over 80 percent of the words ascribed to Jesus in theGospels may be apocryphal6 . That includes Jesus'Eucharistic' speech at the Last Supper ("Take, eat. This ismy body ...") and every word he is said to have uttered fromthe cross.s
Dr. J.K. Elliott, of the Department of Theology andReligious Studies at Leeds University, wrote an articlepublished in The Times, London (10th Sept., 1987) entitled"Checking the Bible's Roots". In it, he stated that: "Morethan 5,000 manuscripts contain all or part of the New
4 Luke 11:2 and Matthew 6:9-10.S The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term god-spell,meaning "good stOI)'," a rendering of the Latin evangelium and theGreek euangelion. meaning "good news" or "good telling." (TheNew Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 5, p. 379).6 Apocryphal: not likely to be genuine; untrue or invented. (OxfordAdvanced Learner's Dictionary, p. 45).7 The Eucharist is the bread and wine taken at the Christianceremony based on Christ's last supper. (Oxford AdvancedLearner's Dictionary, p. 410.)8 July 1,1991, p. 57.
Testament in its original language. These range in date fromthe second century up to the invention of printing. It has beenestimated that no two agree in all particulars. Inevitably, allhandwritten documents are liable to contain accidental errorsin copying. However, in living theological works it is notsurprising that deliberate changes were introduced to avoid oralter statements that the copyist found unsound. There wasalso a tendency for copyists to add explanatory glosses9Deliberate changes are more likely to have been introduced atan early stage before the canonical status of the NewTestament was established."
The author went on to explain that "no onemanuscript contains the original, unaltered text in itsentirety," and that, "one cannot select anyone of thesemanuscripts and rely exclusively on its text as if it containedthe monopoly the original words of the original authors."
He further said: "If one further argues that theoriginal text has survived somewhere among the thousands ofextant I 0 manuscripts, then one is forced to read all thesemanuscripts, to assemble the differences between them in asystematic way, and then to assess, variant by variant, whichmanuscripts have the original [text] and which the secondarytext. Such a prospect has daunted II many biblical scholarswho have been content to rely on the printed texts of earHerages, in which the evidence of only a few favoredmanuscripts were used. Even many recent printed editions of
9 A 'gloss' is an explanatory comment added to a text. (OxfordAdvanced Learner's Dictionary, p. 528).10 Extant: surviving.11 Daunt: discourage; frighten.
the Greek New Testament, and modern translations based onthese, usually follow this practice of building their text on anarrow base that is unlikely to be entirely original."
Versions of the English BibleIn the preface of the most widely used version of the
Bible, the Revised Standard Version, the authors wrote thefollowing:
"The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is anauthorized revision of the American Standard Version,published in 190 I, which was a revision of the King JamesVersion, published in 161 I ...
"The King James Version had to compete with theGeneva Bible (1560) in popular use; but in the end itprevailed, and for more than two an