Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Unveiling Ibn Anwar Part 1

Sam Shamoun

Muslim apologist Ibn Anwar wrote a “reply” (*; *) to a youtube response by Dr. James R. White to Ibn Anwar’s article regarding the OT denying that God is a man and how this supposedly refutes the Deity of the Lord Jesus.

To read the replies to Ibn Anwar’s misuse of the OT we recommend the following:

In that particular article Ibn Anwar grossly misrepresented Dr. White’s position which prompted Dr. White to reply and correct the blatant distortion of his statements.

However, Dr. White is not the only person that Ibn Anwar misrepresents since this is a consistent habit of his as a careful examination of his articles easily proves.

Ibn Anwar also has a habit of misquoting and/or selectively citing sources as well as distorting the actual position of his references. He further confuses various issues together and proceeds to deny that the Holy Bible actually teaches a particular doctrine on the basis of his own confusion and selective citations.

For instance, in his “reply” to Dr. White’s rebuttal Ibn Anwar quotes Christian scholar Millard J. Erickson to prove that the Holy Bible does not explicitly teach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity:

Dr. James White however, is of the opinion that the Trinity is simple. In fact he says in his response, “The reality is the doctrine of the Trinity is fairly easily defined and has been around for a long long time, therefore, to understand what it’s saying is not that difficult…” Notice that he says the doctrine has been around for a long time and therefore(because of that) it is easy to understand. Hindu anthropomorphism and pantheism have been around longer than the Trinity and yet if you were to ask 30 Hindus hardly anyone will be able to provide a cogent answer because Hinduism is simply a mess and the people make up their own gods whenever they wish. Prolonged period of time does not necessitate easeness [sic] in comprehension. If it did we wouldn’t find Christians(many Christians even learned ones) stumbling all over the place trying to explain the Trinity to themselves and others. Dr. White suggests that we go to systematic theologians for correct understanding of the Trinity. The rule of thumb is of course to go to the experts. No problem. Let’s go to an expert in the field and see what he says about the Trinity. How about we look at the words of Dr. Millard Erickson who’s a professor of Systematic Theology at Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon. He was also professor of theology at Bethel University seminary and also taught at Baylor University. He writes,

“This doctrine in many ways presents strange paradoxes…It is a widely disputed doctrine, which has provoked discussion throughout all the centuries of the church’s existence. It is held by manywith [sic] great vehemence and vigor. These advocates are certain they believe the doctrine and consider it crucial to the Christian faith. Yet many are unsure of the exact meaning of their belief. It was the vey first doctrine dealt with systematically by the church, yet it is still one of the most misunderstood and disputed docrines [sic]. Further, it is not clearly or explicitly taught anywhere in scripture, yet it is widely regarded as a central doctrine, indispensable to the Christian faith. In this regard, it goes contrary to what is virtually an axiom[that is, a given, a self-evident truth] of biblical doctrine, namely, that there is a direct correlation between the scriptural clarity ofa [sic] doctrine and its cruciality [sic] to the faith and life of the church.” [1] (emphasis added)

So according to the above testimony from a prominent theologian the Trinity is widely disputed and misunderstood. This is something that should not exist if indeed as Dr. White claims, “it is fairly easily defined”.

Dr. White then goes on to say that, “at least, you can go back to 15, 16, 17 hundred years and find a lot of consistency in what is being said on the central issues.” Yet, Dr. Erickson glaringly says that it is widely disputed and misunderstood!

In the first place, Ibn Anwar once again distorts Dr. White’s point by taking his words out of context. Dr. White was not claiming that a person can fully understand and therefore comprehensively explain the Trinity since Dr. White believes that God’s Being is beyond our ability to fully comprehend. In fact, all informed Christians will readily admit that the difficulty lies in trying to adequately explain and understand the exact reality of this Divinely revealed truth. What Dr. White was referring to is the basic definition of the Trinity which says that there is only one eternal Being of God shared by three eternally distinct Divine Persons.

Nor was Dr. White saying that ALL Christians have a proper understanding of what the doctrine entails since this is what he said right before and after making the statement that Ibn Anwar wrenched out of context:

“... in my opinion the vast majority of misunderstanding that I have encountered amongst my Muslim friends in this subject is not because of a lack of clarity on our part. Granted, I’m sure they have to deal with Christians who are somewhat less than accurate in their understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, maybe not well trained in the area. There are Christians like that, no question about that. But the reality is that the doctrine of the Trinity is fairly, easily defined, and has been around for a long, long time. And, therefore, to understand what its saying is really not that difficult as long as you’re willing to go to people who have maybe spent at least some time dealing with the subject. I mean you can go back literally, what, at least 15, 16, 17 hundred years and find a lot of consistency in what is being said about the central issues as long as you are looking for consistency and not looking to find contradictions, which is what I think is one of the problems. But it’s not that difficult to define the doctrine of the Trinity or the doctrine of the Incarnation. There are confessions of faith that lay these things out very clearly; there are excellent works and systematic theology that lay these things out very clearly. And so why is there such confusion on the part of Muslims on the subject? I think it’s because Islam forces the confusion upon them through its misrepresentation of the doctrine. Certainly the Quran never indentifies the doctrine of the Trinity in any accurate fashion to any depth whatsoever. In fact, I would say that it is inaccurate in its description of the doctrine of the Trinity.”

It is clear that Ibn Anwar is doing nothing more than attack a straw man at this point, as well as throw out red herrings.

Secondly, Ibn Anwar is either being dishonest or is simply ignorant since he is unable to differentiate between the Biblical basis for the Trinity and the precise formulation of the doctrine which took centuries to hammer out. Because of this failure to differentiate between the two Ibn Anwar gives the misleading impression that Erickson actually denied that the Trinity is revealed in the Holy Bible.

However, here is what Erickson writes in his systematic theology which helps us to better understand his point:

“The Bible does not explicitly teach the trinitarian view of God, but the teachings that God is one and that there are three persons who are God clearly imply this view. Christianity is the only major religion that makes this claim about God. Numerous attempts have been made to understand this profound truth. Some have led to distortions of this very important doctrine. While we may never fully comprehend this difficult doctrine, there are analogies that can help us understand it more fully. Properly understood, this doctrine has profound practical implications for the Christian life.” (Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI; Second edition 1999], Part 3: What God is Like, 16. God’s Three-In-Oneness, p. 346; bold emphasis ours)

“In the doctrine of the Trinity, we encounter one of the truly distinctive doctrines of Christianity. Among the religions of the world, the Christian faith is unique in making the claim that God is one and yet there are three who are God. Although it seems on the surface to be a self-contradictory doctrine and is not overtly or explicitly stated in Scripture, nevertheless, devout minds have been led to it as they sought to do justice to the witness of Scripture.” (347)

“We will begin our study of the Trinity by examining the biblical basis of the doctrine, since this is fundamental to all else that we do here… There are three separate but interrelated types of evidence for the unity of God–that God is one; evidence that there are three persons who are God; and finally indications or at least intimations of the three-in-oneness.” (348; bold emphasis ours)

“All this evidence, if taken by itself, would no doubt lead us to a basically monotheistic belief. What, then, moved the church beyond this evidence? It was the additional biblical witness to the effect that three persons are God…” (350; bold emphasis ours)

“On the surface, these two lines of evidence–God’s oneness and threeness–seem contradictory. In the earliest years of its existence the church did not have much opportunity to study the relationship between these two sets of data. The process of organizing itself and propagating the faith and even the struggle for survival in a hostile world precluded much serious doctrinal reflection. As the Church became more secure, however, it began attempting to fit together these two types of material. It concluded that God must be understood as three-in-one, or in other words, triune. At this point we must pose the question whether this doctrine is explicitly taught in the Bible, is suggested by the Scripture, or is merely an inference drawn from other teachings of the Bible.” (352-353)

“Our conclusion from the data we have just examined: Although the doctrine of the Trinity is not expressly asserted, Scripture, particularly the New Testament, contains so many suggestions of the deity and unity of the three persons that we can understand why the church formulated the doctrine, and conclude that they were right in so doing.” (357; bold emphasis ours)

6. In the final analysis, the Trinity is incomprehensible. When someday we will see God, we shall see him as he is, and understand him better than we do now. Yet even then we will not totally comprehend him. Because he is the unlimited God and we are limited in our capacity to know and understand, he will always exceed our knowledge and understanding. We will always be human beings, even though perfected human beings. We will never become God. Those aspects of God which we will never fully comprehend should be regarded as mysteries that go beyond our reason RATHER THAN PARADOXES THAT CONFLICT WITH REASON. (363-364; bold and capital emphasis ours)

It is clear from Erickson’s statements that he believes and affirms that the Trinity is a Biblical revelation. His point concerning the doctrine of the Trinity not being explicitly taught in the Holy Bible relates to the precise language which subsequent generations of Christians developed in order to systematically and accurately define the Biblical teaching so as to safeguard it against heretics who were plaguing the Christian communities with their false, distorted views of the Godhead.

Erickson is basically stating that the Holy Bible doesn’t use terms such as hypostasis, homoousios, “Being,” “Persons,” eternal generation, eternal procession etc., to describe the relationship of the three Divine Persons with one another. It does, however, affirm all of the necessary truths which led to the development and use of such words and terminology. Ibn Anwar is simply distorting Erickson’s position.

In fact, Ibn Anwar commonly makes the mistake of confusing the Biblical basis for the Trinity with its later doctrinal formulation. He then proceeds to read this confusion into references that he quotes to show that the Holy Bible does not teach the explicit doctrine of the Trinity and erroneously assumes that these sources are therefore denying that the Trinity is a Biblical teaching!

Ibn Anwar is operating under the mistaken assumption that unless the Holy Bible defines the Trinity in the exact same way that the later Church and creeds do then it cannot be a Biblical doctrine. As we shall see in the next part of our rebuttal this argument will come to backfire against his very own unitarian beliefs.

Ibn Anwar next appeals to Bart Ehrman’s book, Lost Christianities, to prove that there were various so-called Christian groups in the first three centuries of Christianity which the orthodox stamped out!

But anyway, let us say for the sake of argument that Dr. White is correct in his estimation. What I would like to know is why does he not trace it back to the early initial years of Christianity? If you trace the Trinity back 1700 years ago there’s a gap of over three hundred years! Where was the Trinity in those first three hundred years? I would suggest people purchase Prof. Bart Ehrman’s Lost Scriptures and Lost Christianities for in depth information on other theological ideas that existed in the early years of Christianity and got stamped out by what eventually became “Orthodoxy”.

This gives the misleading impression that not only could these other sects legitimately trace their teachings back to Christ and his original followers but that they were actually more faithful in preserving Jesus’ message than the orthodox Christians!

Here, again, Ibn Anwar is simply being deceptive by failing to mention the names of these other so-called Christian sects and how their views impact his beliefs as a Muslim.

For instance, the main groups that Ehrman mentions are the Ebionites, Marcionites and various Gnostic sects.

Concerning the Ebionites Ehrman writes that,

“One other aspect of the Ebionites’ Christianity that set it apart from that of most other Christian groups was their understanding of who Jesus was. The Ebionites did not subscribe to the notion of Jesus’ preexistence or his virgin birth. These ideas were originally distinct from each other. The two New Testament Gospels that speak of Jesus being conceived of a virgin (Matthew and Luke) do not indicate that he existed prior to his birth, just as the New Testament books that appear to presuppose his preexistence (cf. John 1:1-3, 18; Phil. 2:5-11) never mention his virgin birth. But when all these books came to be included in the New Testament, both notions came to be affirmed simultaneously, so that Jesus was widely thought of as having been with God in eternity past (John, Paul) who became flesh (John) by being born of the Virgin Mary (Matthew, Luke).

“Ebionites, however, did not have our New Testament and understood Jesus differently. For them, Jesus was the Son of God not because of his divine nature or virgin birth but because of his ‘adoption’ by God to be his son. This kind of Christology is, accordingly, sometimes called ‘adoptionist.’ To express the matter more fully, the Ebionites believed that Jesus was a real flesh-and-blood human like the rest of us, born as the eldest son of THE SEXUAL UNION OF HIS PARENTS, Joseph and Mary. What set Jesus apart from all other people was that he kept God’s law perfectly and so was the most righteous man on earth. As such, God chose him to be his son and assigned to him a special mission, to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. Jesus then went to the cross, not as a punishment for his owns sins BUT FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD, a perfect sacrifice in fulfillment of all of God’s promises to his people, the Jews, in the holy Scriptures. As a sign of his acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice, God then raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him to heaven.

“It appears that Ebionite Christians also believed that since Jesus was the perfect, ultimate, final sacrifice for sins, there was no longer any need for the ritual sacrifice of animals. Jewish sacrifices, therefore, were understood as temporary and imperfect measure provided by God to atone for sins until the perfect atoning sacrifice should be made…

“The Ebionites did have other ‘Christian’ texts as part of their canon, however. Not surprisingly, they appear to have accepted the Gospel of Matthew as their principal scriptural authority. Their own version of Matthew, however, may have been a translation of the text into Aramaic. Jesus himself spoke Aramaic in Palestine, as did his earliest followers. It would make sense that a group of Jewish followers of Jesus that originated in Palestine would continue to cite his words, and stories about him, in his native tongue. It appears likely that this Aramaic Matthew was somewhat different from the Matthew now in the canon. In particular, the Matthew used by Ebionite Christians would have lacked the first two chapters, which narrate Jesus’ birth to a virgin–a notion that the Ebionite Christians rejected. There were doubtless other differences from our own version of Matthew’s Gospel as well.” (Ehrman, Lost Christianities – The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew [Oxford University Press Inc., 2003], Part Two: Heresies and Orthodoxies, Chapter 5. At Polar Ends of the Spectrum: Early Christian Ebionites and Marcionites, pp. 100-102; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Here is what Ehrman says regarding the beliefs of Marcion and his followers:

“Before discussing these books, I should say a word about the theology that Marcion developed, which was seen as distinctive, revolutionary, compelling, and therefore dangerous. Among all the Christian texts and authors at his disposal, Marcion was especially struck by the writings of the apostle Paul, and in particular the distinction that Paul drew in Galatians and elsewhere between the Law of the Jews and the gospel of Christ. As we have seen, Paul claimed that a person is made right with God by faith in Christ, not by doing the works of the Law. This distinction became fundamental to Marcion, and he made it absolute. The gospel is the good news of deliverance; it involves love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, and life. The Law, however, is the bad news that makes the gospel necessary in the first place; it involves harsh commandments, guilt, judgment, enmity, punishment, and death. The Law is given to the Jews. The gospel is given by Christ.

“How could the same God be responsible for both? Or to put in other terms: How could the wrathful, vengeful God of the Jews be the loving, merciful God of Jesus? Marcion maintained that these two attributes could not belong to one God, as they stand at odds with one another: hatred and love, vengeance and mercy, judgment and grace. He concluded that there must be in fact TWO GODS: the God of the Jews, as found in the Old Testament, and the God of Jesus, as found in the writings of Paul.

“Once Marcion arrived at this understanding, everything else naturally fell into place. The God of the Old Testament was the God who created this world and everything in it, as described in Genesis. The God of Jesus, therefore, had never been involved with this world but came into it only when Jesus himself appeared from heaven. The God of the Old Testament was the God who called the Jews to be his people and gave them his Law. The God of Jesus did not consider the Jews to be his people (for him; they were the chosen of the other God), and he was not a God who gave laws…

“The God of Jesus came into this world in order to save people from the vengeful God of the Jews. He was previously unknown to this world and had never had any previous dealings with it. Hence Marcion sometimes referred to him as God the Stranger. Not even the prophecies of the future Messiah come from this God, for these refer not to Jesus but to a coming Messiah of Israel, to be sent by the God of the Jews, the creator of this world and the God of the Old Testament. Jesus came completely unexpectedly and did what no one could possibly have hoped for: He paid the penalty for other people’s sins, to save them from the just wrath of the Old Testament God.

“But how could Jesus himself, who represented the nonmaterial God, come into this material world–created by the other God–without becoming part of it? How could the nonmaterial become material, even for such a good and noble cause as salvation? Marcion taught that Jesus was not truly a part of this material world. He did not have a flesh-and-blood body. He was not actually born. He was not really human. He only appeared to be a human with a material existence like everyone else. In other words, Marcion, like some Gnostic Christians, was a docetist who taught that Jesus only ‘seemed’ to have a fleshly body.

“Coming ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh,’ as Marcion’s favorite author Paul put it (Rom. 8:3), Jesus paid the penalty for other people’s sins by dying on the cross. By having faith in his death, one could escape the throes of the wrathful God of the Jews and have eternal life with the God of love and mercy, the God of Jesus…” (Ibid, pp. 104-105; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In speaking of the Nag Hammadi library Ehrman writes that,

“… Even though forged, these books were obviously written seriously and meant to be taken seriously, as providing a guide to the truth. So, too, the other books in the collection, including several different and internally diverse mystical reflections on how the divine realm came into being. Most of these documents assumed that there was not simply one God over all who had created the world and made it good. Some of them were quite explicit: This creation was not good, not in the least. It was the result of a cosmic-catastrophe, brought into being by an inferior and ignorant deity who erroneously imagined he was God Almighty.” (Ibid., p. 113)

“Despite their inherent interest, many of these Gnostic texts are not simple to understand. And, that of course, is as it should be: If the knowledge necessary for salvation were simple and straightforward, we all would have figured it out long ago. But this is secret knowledge reserved for the elite, for the few, for those who really do have a spark of the divine within them, a spark that needs to be rekindled and brought to life through gnosis (knowledge) from on high, brought from one who has come down from the divine realm to remind us of our true identity, our true origin, and our true destiny. This divine emissary is no mere mortal. He is a being from the realm above, a divine emissary sent from the true God (not the ignorant creator who made this hateful material world in the first place) to reveal to us the true state of things and the means of escape. Those who receive, and understand, and accept, these teachings will then be ‘Gnostics,’ those ‘in the know.’” (Ibid. pp. 114-115)

Ehrman then highlights some of their views concerning the God of the Old Testament and Jesus:

“Some such people might well experience another radical modification in their thinking, at least as radical as that from the prophetic view (God is causing suffering) to the apocalyptic (God’s enemy, the Devil, is causing suffering). Both of these earlier views presuppose that the world was created by God, who is the good and all-powerful divine force behind it. But if these views are called into question by the ongoing realities of suffering in the world, what then? Maybe in fact the entire assumption is wrong. Maybe this world is not the creation of the one true God. Maybe the God of this world is not good. Maybe he is causing suffering not because he is good and wants people to share in his goodness but because he is evil, or ignorant, or inferior, and he wants people to suffer or doesn’t care if they do, or maybe he can’t do anything about it. But if that’s true, then the God of this world is not the one true God. There must be a greater God above this world, one who did not create this world. In this understanding, the material world itself–material existence in all its form–is inferior at best or evil at worst, and so is the God, then, who created it. There must be a nonmaterial God unconnected with this world, above the creator God of the Old Testament, a God who neither created this world nor brought suffering to it, who wants to relieve his people from their suffering–not by redeeming this world but by delivering them from it, liberating them from their entrapment in this material existence.

This is a Gnostic view. It may well have derived, ultimately, from a kind of failed apocalypticism. No wonder, then, that it is so taken up with Jewish texts. It derives from a Jewish worldview. And no wonder that in its Christian forms it gives such a central role to Christ, reinterpreting him away from his own apocalyptic roots.

“It would be a mistake, however, to see Gnosticism as failed apocalypticism, pure and simple, for there are other factors that appear to have affected the complicated ‘mix’ that we find in the Gnostic religions. Here I will mention just one other. One of the most striking features of Gnosticism is its radical dualism, in which the material world is evil and the world of the spirit is good..." (Ibid., Chapter Six. Christians “In The Know” : The Worlds of Early Gnosticism, p. 119; bold emphasis ours)

“As we have seen, Gnostic Christians maintained that in the beginning there was only One. This One God was totally spirit, totally perfect, incapable of description, beyond attributes and qualities. This God is not only unknown to humans; he is unknowable. The Gnostic texts do not explain why he is unknowable, except that he is so ‘other’ that explanations–which require making something unknown known by comparing it to something else–simply cannot work.

“According to sundry Gnostic myths, this one unknowable God, for some unknowable reason, generated a divine realm from himself. In some of these myths, the perfect essences of this One become themselves, somehow, self-existent. So, for example, this One spends eternity thinking. He thinks, of course, only of himself, since he is all there is. But his thought itself must exist, since he thinks. And so his thought becomes its own entity. Moreover, this One always exists. And so his eternal existence, his eternality, exists. And so it becomes its own entity. This One is living; in fact, he is Life. And so his life itself exists. Life then becomes its own entity. And so on.

“Thus there emerge from this One other divine entities, emanations from the one, called aeons, (Thought, Eternality, Life, etc.); moreover, some of these aeons produce their own entities, until there is an entire realm of the divine aeons, sometimes called the Fullness or, using the Greek term, Pleroma… In some of these systems, it is the final aeon who is the problem, an aeon called Wisdom or, using the Greek term, Sophia. The myths have different ways of explaining how Sophia’s ‘fall’ from the Pleroma led to awful consequences of the material world. One of the more familiar myths is found in the Secret Book of John, an account of a revelation given to John the son of Zebedee by Jesus after his resurrection… In this Gnostic myth, Sophia decides to generate a divine being apart from the assistance of her male consort, leading a malformed and imperfect offspring. Fearful that her misdeed will be uncovered, she removes her offspring from the divine realm into a lower sphere where no one can see him, and she leaves him to his own devices. She has named him Yaldabaoth, a name reminiscent of ‘Yahweh, Lord of Sabbaths,’ from the Old Testament, for this malformed and imperfect being is the Jewish God.

“According to this form of the myth Yaldabaoth somehow manages to steal divine power from his mother. He then moves far off from her and uses his power to create other lesser divine beings–the evil cosmic forces of the world–and the material world itself. Since he is the creator, he is called the Demiurge (Greek for ‘maker’). Yaldabaoth is ignorant of the realm above him and so he foolishly declares, ‘I am God and there is no other God besides me’ (Isa. 45:5-6). But he, along with his divine henchmen who have helped him create the world, are shown a vision of the one true God; they then declare among themselves, ‘Let us create man according to the image of God’ (i.e., the true God they have just seen–cf. Gen. 2:7). And so they make Adam. But Adam, not having a spirit within him, is completely immobile. The one true God then tricks Yaldabaoth into conveying the power of his mother into this inanimate being, by breathing of the breath of life into it, thereby imparting Sophia into humans, making them animate and giving them a power greater even than lesser cosmic forces that Yaldabaoth had created. When the cosmic forces realize that the man who was created is greater than they, they cast him into the realm of matter. But the one true God sends his own Thought into man, to instruct him concerning his true divine nature, the manner of his descent into the realm of matter, and the way in which he can rescued.” (Ibid., pp. 122-124)

According to Ehrman, the “Christian” Gnostics believed that Christ came down from the true God and entered into the world in order to reveal the knowledge which leads to salvation. However, this leads to a problem as Ehrman points out.

“But how can Christ enter into this world and not be tainted by it? That is one of the puzzles the Gnostics had to solve, and different Gnostic thinkers did so in different ways. Some took the line we have already seen in Marcion and others, maintaining that Jesus was not a flesh-and-blood human being, but only appeared to be so. These Gnostics took the words of the apostle Paul quite seriously: Christ came ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh’ (Rom. 8:3). As a phantom sent from the divine realm, he came to convey the gnosis necessary for salvation, and when he was finished doing so, he returned to the Pleroma whence he came.

“Most Gnostics, however, took another line, claiming that Christ was a divine emissary from above, totally spirit, and that he entered the man Jesus temporarily in order to convey the knowledge that can liberate sparks from their material imprisonment. For these Gnostics, Jesus himself was in fact human, even though some thought he was not made like the rest of us, so that he could receive the divine emissary; some, for example, thought that he had a ‘soul-body’ rather than ‘flesh-body.’ In any event, at the baptism, Christ entered into Jesus (in the form of a dove, as in the New Testament Gospels); and at the end he left him to suffer his death alone. That is why Jesus cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (literally, ‘Why have you left me behind?’) Or, as stated in the Gospel of Philip, “‘My God, my God, why O lord have you forsaken me?” He spoke these words on the cross; for he had withdrawn from that place’ (G. Phil. 64). According to one of the myths reported by Irenaeus, once Jesus died, the Christ then came back and raised him from the dead (Against Heresies 1.30.13).

“In either system, Christ provides the knowledge necessary for salvation. As the Gospel of Philip says, ‘The one who possesses the knowledge (gnosis) of truth is free’ (G. Phil. 93)…” (Ibid., pp. 124-125; bold emphasis ours)

With the foregoing in view does Ibn Anwar seriously want us to accept that these groups somehow represent the authentic teachings of the Lord Jesus and his followers? More importantly, is he willing to accept the ramifications that such beliefs have on his own Islamic faith?

For instance, Muhammad affirmed that there is only one God and that this God created the universe and sent prophets like Moses along with books such as the Torah and the Psalms. Thus, Muhammad believed that the God of the OT is the one true God. Muhammad also taught that Jesus was supernaturally born of the virgin Mary, that he was a true flesh-and-blood human being who wasn’t fully divine, and that he didn’t die on the cross as a sacrifice for sins.

What this means is that if the Ebionites are the true followers of Jesus then Muhammad is a false prophet since these Jews denied Jesus’ supernatural virginal conception and birth while affirming his death on the cross and bodily resurrection.

However, if Marcion and his followers were right then Muhammad again turns out to be a false prophet since the Marcionites believed that there were two Gods, i.e. the loving, compassionate God that Jesus revealed and the God of the OT who created this world. They also affirmed Jesus’ prehuman existence while denying that Christ was sent by the God of the OT.

But in the case that the Gnostics were the ones who preserved the authentic Gospel of Christ then Muhammad is once again seen to be an imposter. The Gnostics believed that there were many gods and that the God of the OT was an inferior, evil and ignorant deity who created this world. These groups also taught that Christ was a fully divine being who came down from the true God in order to bring the knowledge which would liberate people from the God of the OT. Some of the Gnostics thought that Christ did this by assuming a phantom body that looked human but wasn’t. Others believed the Christ entered Jesus a man and then left him when Jesus was crucified. Since Muhammad didn’t believe any of this he must have been a deceiver who misled people away from the true knowledge or gnosis necessary for salvation.

Is Ibn Anwar comfortable with any of this? Does he really want his readers to accept the notion that one of these sects faithfully preserved the authentic message of Christ?

The answer is quite obvious.

But then this leaves Ibn Anwar with the beliefs of the “proto-orthodox” Christians (the term that Ehrman uses for the earliest Christians whose views eventually became the orthodox position). Their beliefs are not only represented within the NT corpus but can also be found in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and the second century apologists. To see what these early Christian writers taught concerning the Trinity and the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ we suggest reading the following article.

Ibn Anwar is left with another major problem. According to the Quran Allah promised Jesus that his true followers would be victorious and become uppermost from the time of Christ’s ascension till the day of resurrection (cf. Q. 3:55; 61:14). This means that the true message of Jesus would prevail and that those who followed it would continue to dominate till the end of this age.

However, Ibn Anwar is insinuating that the Orthodox that stamped out the other groups were not Jesus’ true followers and did not preserve his actual teachings. This either means that Allah lied to and deceived Jesus since he did not give his true followers the victory to dominate but actually allowed another sect to come in and wipe them out. Or, worse still, Allah is an impotent deity since he wasn’t able to preserve the true message of Christ or protect his followers from being stamped out. In other words, a group of finite creatures was able to thwart Allah’s purposes and extinguish the message of one of his greatest messengers!

In light of the teaching of the Quran the only conclusion that Ibn Anwar can come to is that the Orthodox group is the sect that has faithfully preserved the teachings of Christ and his followers since they not only overcame all opposition but their message also continues to dominate and permeate the entire world!

If this is the case then this means that Muhammad is a false prophet, an antichrist, since he contradicts the message of the true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who prevailed over their opposition.

For more on Allah’s alleged promise to Jesus, and its implication on the veracity of the Quran and Muhammad’s prophetic claims, we recommend the following articles and videos:

We come to the conclusion of the first part of our rebuttal. Please continue with part two.