Tuesday, June 07, 2005

THE REFORMATION: THE CHURCH, DR. MARTIN OR THE AUTHENTIC WORDS OF GOD?

THE REFORMATION: THE CHURCH, DR. MARTIN OR THE AUTHENTIC WORDS OF GOD?

By:
Muhammad Hakim Rosly,
4th Year Quran and Sunnah IIUM
www.hakimpossible.blogspot.com

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The reformation in Europe in the early sixteenth century greatly contributed to the religious crisis among the Christians. The era of reformation attempted to clean the corruption of the Church administration and its clergies as well as to renew the church's teachings. The reformation can be defined as the movement of the religious reformation started in the West Europe in 1510 and ended in 1550. The reformation concerned more on the activity of Catholic belief's purification from the corrupted Catholic teachings to the new faith of Christendom and indirectly influenced a political and economic atmosphere of the medieval Europe, for example, it contributed to the growth of political liberty and the capitalistic society.

Actually, Martin Luther was not the pioneer who responsible to the spread of this new form of Christianity. In fact, the important figures prior to Luther were John Wycliffe of England (1320-1384) and Jan Hus of Bohemia (1369-1415). However, Luther was impossible to the widening of this new doctrine in which his idea was widely spread in the Western Europe and "became a figure of international reputation and eventually a publicly condemned heretic in the eyes of the church" . The emergence of the Reformation was one of the impacts of inquiry enthusiasm and the Humanism influence. Therefore, this process was regarded by some scholars as an important religious development aspect in the era of early modern Europe. Dr. Martin Luther, a professor of Theology at Wittenberg University, was influenced by the Humanism doctrine brought by Erasmus (c1466-1536).Erasmus was a biblical scholar and Christian humanist who hoped to purify the Catholic church by calling for moral reform and criticizing clerical wealth and corruption . Some scholar like Rabelais (c.1494-1553) and Montaigne (1533-1592) looked back to Erasmus for their inspiration.

Although Luther was influenced by some humanism thought brought by Erasmus, He (Erasmus) also did not agree with much aspect of Luther’s teachings. Here is some Erasmus's opinion: "I do not object generally to the evangelical doctrines, but there is much in Luther's teachings which I dislike. He runs everything which he touches into extravagance. True, Christendom is corrupt and needs the rod, but it would better, in my opinion, if we could have the pope and the princes on our side……Luther sees certain things to be wrongs, and in flying blindly at them causes them more harm than he cures(Erasmus, Letter to Philip Melanchton, from Basle, 10 December 1524) . Now, we are going to discuss some characteristics of the protestant principle. There are three fundamental principle of the Protestantism. The first principle of Protestantism is Sola Scriptura means "Bible Alone". The Protestants called for the rejection of the unclear teachings found in the Bible such as ceremonies and doctrines taught by the pope and the priests of the Catholic Church.

To realize this new faith, each Christian has an authority to understand the Christian teachings by his own interpretation of the Bible through the expanding and deepening consciousness of Christendom. They believe that the Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible as the religion of all Christians .The second principle is Sola Fide which means "Faith Alone" The subjective principle of the Reformation is justification by faith alone, or, rather, by free grace through faith operative in good works. It has reference to the personal appropriation of the Christian salvation, and aims to give all glory to Christ . The third principle is Priesthood of All Believers. The universal priesthood of believers implies the right and duty of the Christian laity not only to read the Bible in the vernacular, but also to take part in the government and all the public affairs of the Church. It is opposed to the hierarchical system, which puts the essence and authority of the Church in an exclusive priesthood, and makes ordained priests the necessary mediators between God and the people" .How about the catholic response to this movement? The Catholic also made a counter attack on the rapid growth of Protestantism through the intellectual attack such as they decided to build schools and universities throughout Europe and made a new style of art and architecture, for instance, the image of cherubic angels grace the ornate decor of Counter Reformation churches. The Counter Reformation also led to the aggressive attack toward Protestants. The Inquisition launched by The Catholic caused a lot of persecution toward the opponent side of the Church. John Calvin (1509-64) was among the protestant reformer that was executed in 1564 .

Another reformer was William Tyndala (between 1490 and 1500-1536). In 1535, he was captured in Flanders, was tried for heresy by the officers of the Holy Roman Empire and was executed . Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) also was cut down by Swiss Catholics at Keppel in 1531, his body was quartered and buried in dung . Moreover the Catholic Church was very fear to the books published by the Protestant theologians. By the 1520s, the impulse to censor and burn dangerous books intensified as the church tried to prevent the rapid spread of Protestant ideas . The invention of printing in the mid-fifteenth century in Mainz, Germany led to the rapid spread of Reformation to other European countries. Thus, it led to the increased and serious tension toward the Catholic Church.The purification of corrupted Catholic teachings and practices led by Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and other reformers, the attack on the church's desire to amass wealth and challenging criticism toward the crooked Catholic clergy circles should be highly respected. Preventing corruption in the Church or other sacred places and calling for the true teaching of religion is very good deed and nobody can deny these efforts. The Protestant reformer's attack on the Church and its clergies paved the way to the Church and the Christian people to think deeply to the real and unpolluted Christian teachings. Luther argued that all Christians have the authority to interpret the Bible by themselves and reject the unclear teachings found in the Bible. Furthermore, he considered that all believers are priests.

Nevertheless, the Reformation of the Christendom system of belief must be widened. The purification of the Church's heresy is not enough but also to purify problems in the Bible itself in which the Christians believed it as the most authentic source of their religion. It seems that the Reformation did not attempt to clean the corruption that widely spread in the Bible. The Muslim scholars of comparative religion criticize the authority of the Bible as a really god's word claimed by the Christians. The Muslim scholars argue that the contents of the Bible have a lot of contradictions, human’s additions as well as many alterations. If the Bible’s contents itself has these kind of problems, how the Reformers can improve the corruption of the Church and its system of belief? Did Dr. Martin Luther explore and search deeply all contents of this Holy Scripture claimed by the Christian world? If the starting point is corrupt, how to move to the next stage? The doubtful source caused more confuse problems and dangerous results. The doubtful Bible led to the emergence of Atheism, Communism, Fascism, Totalitarianism, Nazism, Mormonism and Christian Scientism as a result of a failure of the Bible to convince its followers.

Thus, firstly, the Bible itself should be purified from any contradictions and alterations.Ahmed Deedat, a founder member of Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI) and became its President, a position he still holds today , has stated many contradictions in several chapters, porno stories of the prophets and 100% plagiarism and become the most dangerous problem in this scripture.Now we list down some examples stated by Ahmed Deedat regarding to contradictions in the Bible:a) Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against....(2 Samuel 24:1) orb) Now Satan stood up against Israel and move David to… (1 Chronicles 21:1) . (God or Satan?)a) Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariot… (2 Chronicles 9:25). orb) Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses and for his chariots… (King 4:26). (4000 or 40,000?)We also could fond several porno stories of the prophets like this:a) And he (Noah) drank of the wine and was drunk, and become uncovered in his tent… (Genesis 9:6). b) Then the Lord said; "Just as my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years… (Isaiah 20:3). According to the Revelation 22:9 - For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book . There are many other contradictions, alterations and porno stories in the Bible that the Church and the Protestant still believe it as a holy word of God. But these examples are enough for this short essay.We are able to recognize in the Bible with 3 possibilities. We can describe it as The Word of God; also can be described as the Words of a Prophet of God and Words of a historian.

The more complicated situation is The Bible was translated into hundred of languages without preserving its original language. Furthermore, it also was translated into many tongues, for instance, there are fifteen different scripts for our Arab brothers alone such as Tunisian script, Algerian Colloquial, Egyptian Colloquial, Judaeo-Arabic of North Africa, Moorish Colloquial and many more . These translations absolutely change the pure meaning of the text and lead to the various interpretations and opinions. Thus, Studying and understanding the Bible become more complicated and difficult. William C. Placher, a professor of philosophy and religion at Wabash College, has stated that "to understand how the Bible is true, therefore, we must understand its genres, recognize its attitudes toward the reporting of historical details, and consider the social context in which it was written".

This much could be said about any text of sufficient complexity. All this makes understanding the Bible sound very complicated. It may also seem that the truth of the Bible is getting lost in a morass of qualifications. The issues are complicated, but we needn't despair of finding biblical truth because, finally, we can trust the Bible. In this respect, Christians read the Bible differently from the way they read any other book" .For Muslims, they have only one holy book namely; the Holy Quran with the original text of Arabic language and this language is maintained together in each translation of other languages. The early Muslims in the beginning of Islam did not mix it with words of the prophet or their own words. They separated the God's word, the prophet’s word and third kind is the Islamic history written by some of high integrity and learning, and others of lesser trustworthiness, but the Muslim advisedly keeps his Books in separate volumes! .

The Last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in the beginning of the revelation prohibited his Sahabah (his Followers) to write his words except the Quranic verses and ordered them to destroy his words if any one has written his words. He said,means: "Do not write anything about me except the Quranic verses, and whoever has written something except the verses of Quran he must destroy it" . So, the words of God in the Holy Quran are preserved from any kind of addition, alteration and contradiction. Allah says in the Holy Quran: "Do they not consider the Quran(with care)? Had it been from other than God, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy . Now we address a question should "another Luther" or other Christian religious reformers find the more authentic book rather than the Bible? Only your healthy mind could answer this problem.

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