AsSalamu Alaikum and welcome once again to Islam focus. Today’s program will be our 31st in our series on Jesus the beloved messenger of Allah.
Today’s topic will be our fifth on the laser Unitarians.
I’m your host shad nimish. Here with me once again from St. Mary’s University is Dr. Jamal better as
we please have a summary of last week’s format. Okay, last week was a discussion of some of the writings and beliefs of the Unitarians, especially of the 17th century on. And the most important personality we discussed last time actually was john Britton, the father of unitarianism. In Britain, you might say, his cottage is suffering and how he was arrested several times and ultimately died in prison. We mentioned also that there were other people who were not as outspoken and courageous as john Britton, like Milton, for example,
who, while sharing with john Britton and other Unitarians, denigration of Trinity, who upheld that Jesus was a human being and not God, but they were rather more cautious in the way they wanted to express their views. I’d be interested about other contemporaries of the middle
in that time, how did they express their views? Well, one of these people, for example, is john Locke. And he was famous among historians, of course, as one who wrote on the social contract. This man was persecuted because of his political views to start with. And at one point, he was forced to New Britain and come back after the revolution in 1688. But he was more afraid of persecution, in fact, because of his religious views than his political views, because he was Unitarian. However, he was quite cautious. But even then, he wrote a monograph about reason, which the church didn’t particularly like. But on the whole, he seemed to have kept in good terms with the church. Some
believed that he was instrumental in the passage of the toleration act of 1689.
contemporary, who was also a friend of his was, Sir Isaac Newton, the famous physicist, but like
john Locke, and Newton also did not profess his belief very openly.
But some historians said that in 1690, he wrote a letter to his friend to lock
in which he comments on two texts in the Bible, in this are quite interesting, even though it will not be new, because this will mention in this program in a different occasion, the first passage that he commented on was in the first episode of john, in chapter five, verse seven, the very famous verse, which was used by many trinitarians, to prove Trinity, because it speaks about the three that were witnessed in heavens.
And he said, that he noted that in spite of the very severe arguments, at the time of Jerome, about Trinity,
before Jerome and even for a long time, after Jerome no proponents of the Trinity ever referred to this text, in support of his view, which could have provided a very strong support. And then he says that this verse has appeared actually, for the first time in the third edition of Eros moods, New Testament. That is,
something really interesting here is that
Isaac Newton speaks in the 17th century.
In 1952, when the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was issued, after very laborious work by many scholars, it actually omitted that verse, indicating that it was not really in the original or the most ancient manuscripts, but of course, probably he was not aware of those biblical studies that developed later on.
texts that he refers to or commented on, is a famous text also in the first timothy in chapter three, verse 16,
which says that God was manifest in the flesh. And he says that during the very heated and lasting area controversy in the fourth century,
nobody ever refers to that text, even though it could have been used as a strong reply, to adduce you serious attempt also the unity of God, and that Jesus was a human being. And if that text existed in his time, God was manifests in the flesh, you will find in the literature, in support of Trinity, some reference, but he says, There was nine.
And I noted one thing on my own also when he checked, for example, or compared the King James Version, with the Revised Standard Version, and there are two important differences there. One is that in the King James Version, for example, it says great is the mystery of godliness.
And the Revised Standard Version, it says, great is the mystery of our religion. And of course, there is a big difference there.
Secondly, I noted also,
that, in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, it does not really speak about Gods, but rather about Jesus, instead of saying, God manifests in the flesh. It says, Jesus manifest in the flesh, which could be of course, apologetic, and a god, can we not to say that God actually became or manifest in flesh as the previous, more strong statements was made. Meanwhile, we find that in both King James Version, as well as the Revised Standard Version, in the same verse, When it speaks about Jesus being manifested flesh, it says that he was received. In another version says, he was taken and of course, someone who is received is deceived by whom, taken taken by whom, and obviously, it
is not God that is received or taken, but rather, someone who is servant of God. And in addition to his comments, Newton’s comment on this too interesting text in the Bible, he says, and they caught him about Trinity,
let them make good sense of who are able, For my part, and I can make
it be said, that we are not to determine what is scripture, and what not by our private judgment, I confess it in places not controversial in places which are not controversial or contradicted that is, but in disputed places, I love to take what I can best understand. It is the temperature of the heart and superstitious parts of mankind in matters of religion ever to be found of mysteries. And for that reason, to like best what they understand least, it was quite interesting in the way he came across.
Dr. Umar like to take you back to a previous program where you mentioned Primus emlen. Maybe you can elaborate on his personality. Who is this man? Well, this man also eminent belongs to the period we’re talking about, you know, the 17th 18th century actually was born in 1663. in Dublin. He studied in Cambridge, when he returned to his home
town, he acted as a Presbyterian preacher, and became very popular for that matters. But one time, one of the members of his congregation noted that he deliberately avoided a cliche statements or expressions, for example, about Trinity, which are common. So he was questioned. Why did you do that? And what is your belief? What do you confess about the Trinity?
forcing this direct question he was forced, in fact, to answer, frankly, and he says that he believed in the one God and that God alone is the only Supreme Being and that Jesus peace be upon him derive own authority and power from God alone.
Now, there have been some problem with the congregation. I don’t want to get into this details, but he was he decided afterwards to move to mainland Brazil.
But he was arrested in 1703 and accused of being a heretic. The prosecution found a good evidence against him because they said he was responsible for the publication of a book about unitarianism under the title and humble inquiry into the scripture account of
Jesus Christ. That book, interestingly enough, was based essentially on one verse in the Bible, and the Gospel According to john, in chapter 14, verse 28, where Jesus was quoted as saying, the father is greater than I.
And he said that, obviously, Jesus he is, is really a mediator between us and God, but he’s not God Himself.
In the beginning of his trial, he was told that he will not be allowed to defend himself
and his defense, executive, no difference. And then he was indicted for a crime, of course, writing and publishing an infamous and scandalous Bible, declaring that Jesus Christ is not the Supreme God. He was given the choice between one year of imprisonment or the payment of 1000 pounds, by way of a fine.
Of course, it might sound like a small amount, but at that time, some people were earning maybe 30 pounds a year was astronomical
figure he made an appeal. But during this appeared, he was paraded as a heretic in front of the public in order to humiliate him. But because of pressure on the government, they reduced the fine to only 70 parents, which he paid, and left. But by that time, he had already spent several months in prison since he was arrested, as some scholars committed even with that frame, and with this few months of imprisonment, emmalyn was really lucky. Had he been in Spain at that time, he could have possibly been burned alive.
Now, what else did he say that got me in trouble with the authorities at the time in terms of statements contrary to common dogmas? Well, to start with, he said, that God alone, owes nothing to anyone does not owe his existence, or authority or anything else to anyone else.
And of course, the implication here is that Jesus calls his existence, all his authority, as he himself said, All to God, but only God is the one who owes to nothing, was nothing to anyone.
Then he warns, and that’s an interesting contribution that he made, that the term Gods is sometimes used in the Bible, to refer to someone who is invested with subordinate authority, not the supreme god, somebody invested with subordinate authority. And he says, It is used sometimes even in plural, gods, to refer For example, to either human beings or to angels, references in the Bible that could be checked with the things like the Psalms of David number 82, special verses one and six,
some number eight, verse five, Exodus chapter seven, verse one, when Moses is called God, and in the Gospel, according to john, in the discussion between Jesus and the Jews, in chapter 10, verses 34 and 35. He says that even sometimes Satan is called the god of this world.
And then he said, that despite of those various uses of the term, God, God alone is above all that, and He is the God of gods above all. Then he said, always this question is, which meaning then, was the term God used to refer to Jesus? And by the way, I should add a footnote here, that Jesus Himself never said, I am God? Never. But some people somehow described him with this kind of connotation, so even those who described him as God,
how was the term God used? After his research, he concluded that Jesus, when he was described as God, he was used only in the first sense, that is, someone who is invested with subordinate authority, but not the Supreme God, Himself.
And a reference was made to the New Testament even in the first book of Corinthians, chapter eight, verses five and six, where it’s quite obvious there that there is a difference really, between Jesus and God.
And then here is another question. He said that, did Christ have any God above him? Who had more authority than Jesus did more power than Jesus did? And he said, The answer to that question is definitely yes. And you get three evidences. First. He said that Jesus speaks about God, as distinct from himself. And many times, Jesus Himself used the term, my god. Okay, of course, what comes to mind very quickly would be the statement.
attributed to Jesus on the cross. And the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 27, verse 46, when he said, God, God or My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And he says, basically, that if Jesus Himself were God, the Supreme Being, he would have said, basically myself, myself, why have you forsaken me? Of course, that would be the translation of what it means my God needs myself. And that is not, of course, can invite anyone.
A similar difference, of course, even after Jesus finished on his mission, and according to the biblical story, that he was crucified and rose up again from this towards the end, in the Gospel of john chapter 20, verse 17, he says, I am ascending to my father and new father, my God and your God, how could God say, I am going to mind that, that means Jesus Himself deferred to, to God as discipline, the only supreme be. The second evidence he gave is that Jesus indicated in numerous occasions, that he derives his authority from God, he speaks what God tells him, he does what God or didn’t seem to do. An example of that would be john, chapter five, verse 30, we discussed this in
the previous program. The third evidence, he says is that Jesus disclaimed infinite perfection, infinite knowledge. And of course, we have seen examples of that also, in the past, to clarify his point. He said that, in the Gospel, according to Mark in chapter 13, verse 32, what Jesus denies that he knows the hour, the day of judgment. Now, he said that if Jesus were divine, it means that God has two contradictory natures. One is the knowledge of the hour. The other is the lack of knowledge of power. And he says that it’s such an impossibility. Just a couple of more comments if I mean,
he says also, that, in his unbelief, Jesus was a teacher’s
a holy teacher, which he lives loved and admired, in his terms, beyond father, mother, or friend, and then he goes on and they call, I know that Jesus loves nothing but truth.
And we’ll never be offended with anyone who stand by his words, that is the father is greater than I.
And then he asked, how could we, after Jesus plainly said it, come back and say, No, the father is not greater than Jesus, of course, the Trinity, the father and the son are equal. They say, how could we contradict the words of Jesus and say, No, the father is not greater than Jesus. In any case, 10 years after his trial, that is, in 1712, he published another book called scriptures doctrine of the Trinity. In that book, he provided 12 151 passages from the Quran, to prove that the Father alone is the supreme, and that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinated.
It was obvious, in fact, with this kind of views with this kind of writings that came out, despite of the persecution that those dissenting voices could no longer be ignored. And that moves us to the second half of the 18th century,
or mid and late 18th century, I should say, with two other important personalities,
Minzy and priestly.
So he called those from the quandary from the Bible,
from the Bible direct from the Bible 151 passages. Okay.
Now let’s begin with
what was his background? And why is he such an order of personality? Well, his name first of all, was to Phyllis Lindsey, he was born in 1723 in Britain. The reason? Why is it a guy who is regarded as an important personality is that he is seen as the organizer of the first major Unitarian congregation in Britain.
He made his first religious service in an auction room, on Essex street in London.
But interesting enough, this service was attended by a large number of prominent people, including Joseph Priestley. Talk about him a little later, as well as Benjamin Franklin was exactly what I became, you know, one of the presidents and Lindsay was quite impressed with the receptiveness of the audience.
To do his service, and the success of that congregation actually heralded the beginning of establishing or spreading of other Unitarian congregations and other places in Britain, such as Manchester and Birmingham.
How to use them usually interpret Jesus, and maybe you could comment on his relationship to God? Well, in a book published by GB Park, PA, rk E, that’s the name of the author
called the ethics of unitarianism.
He quotes Lindsey, Lindsey, in an address that he gave to the students in Oxford and Cambridge, in which he discusses what he called the facts, nice and plain, to every understanding, which all men who believe the scripture sooner or later, must bow down and acknowledge, in the midst of what you consider important facts. He included. At least three, I just chose the four which are very important. He says, first of all, there is one God, one single person who is God, the sole, creator, and Sovereign Lord of all things.
To the Holy Jesus was a man of the Jewish nation, the servant of this God, highly honored and distinguished by him.
The third fact, as you call it, the spirit or Holy Spirit was not a person, or intelligent being, but only the extra extra ordinary power, or gift of God imparted to Jesus Christ himself in his lifetime, and afterwards to the apostles.
And Lindsay’s keep insisting that these are the fundamental doctrines, which was taught by the apostles, to the Jews and Gentiles alike. In the early days. Dr. Bedell, in addition to the quoted addresses, did he write any books of his own, in in view of expressing his own opinion? Yes, he articulated those views also in more than one book. In fact, he has at least three non books, listening to me as far as I tried to find out, they one called two dissertations published in 1779. Another is called an historical view of the state of Unitarian doctrine published in 1783. And a third one published in 1790, called elicits of false reading of the Scriptures. And he speaks like
others, Unitarians, also about Jesus peace be upon him, and negating that Jesus ever claimed to be gods. In fact, in one quotation, he says, Jesus never styled himself styled himself as God. Not that he dropped the least intimation that he was the person by whom all things were made.
He explains that the Old Testament constantly speak about one person, as the sole Creator of all. And then he refers and you notice that was also referred to by Isaac Newton to the first edition of john chapter five, verse seven, about the three that bear witness in heavens. And he says, we cannot imagine that a pious Hebrew, like john would have said something like that, or would have presented a new creator, a new God. And he says, We don’t know how he came up with that exchange doctrine. Of course, like indicated before, further biblical research proves that this verse actually does not exist in an older manuscripts.
And then he compares the gospel according to john, with the first three synoptic gospels, you know, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And he says that none of those authors of the first gospels ever refer to Jesus as God or that he was the word made flesh.
And he says that if these three writers of the Gospels have known already, or had known Jesus, as the creator of the universe, and as God, they would have not kept silent on such a very essential part of the creed. He says that even if you look at the fourth gospel, according to john,
he says that, even though the gospel of john starts with the Word was God than the word, you know, the Word became
flesh. He says, outside of that initial part of the gospel
According to john john never ascribed to Jesus, the title of God, capital G, in any other parts throughout his gospel, at least the term was not used.
On the contrary, you say that, in fact, in numerous places john
refers to Jesus is subordinate to God, my father is greater than I do things only by the authority of my father. And then he said that, if you further analyze the Gospel according to Luke, you will find that Jesus did not exist before his birth from his mother, Mary. He referred particularly to chapters 347 and 17, in which Jesus linnaean descent is mentioned. And he says, All right, you know, if you have a lineal descent of humans, how could you be God? Secondly, that Jesus was acknowledged and referred to by people as prophets.
He was himself called the Prophet, that Peter and other apostles called Jesus, a servant of God, or a man approves of God. And why in Ninja use the Bible, in fact, to use
to give rational analysis. As you know, he is both, you know, analysis in terms of the Bible’s reason. He at times writes in a forceful and emotion provoking way. You just say emotional provoking, maybe I’ll call it passionate writings. Could you give some examples of these? Well, based on his reading, apparently, of john, Chapter 20, verse 17, of Luke chapter 11, verses one and two, First Kings, chapter eight, verse 27. He writes in his book, and which I quoted before a list of false reading of Scripture, and he asks those who worship Jesus,
He said to them,
would they react if Jesus all of a sudden appeared before them, and told them the following, that Jesus speaks now?
Why did you address your devotion to me? Did I ever direct you to do it? Or propose myself as an object of religious worship?
Did I not uniformly, and to the last, sets you and exempted myself of praying to the Father, to my father, and your father, to my God, and your gods,
when my disciples requested me to teach them to pray? Did I teach them to pray to myself, or to any other person but the father?
Did I ever called myself God for telling you that I was the maker of the world, and to be worshipped? Solomon, after building the champion said, Will God indeed dwells on earth on the earth? Behold, the heaven. And the heaven of heavens cannot contain the how much less this house, which I have built.
Well, that is indeed a passionate writing. Thank you very much, Doctor, by the way, leave your time. And thank you all for joining us here once again, in this time of focus. We would appreciate any questions or any comments, you have a phone number, and our address will be appearing on your screen. Hope to see you all here next week.