Fundamentals of the Christian Faith in the Light of the Gospels
by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din
From the texts of the Gospel made use of in the foregoing pages, the following truths shine forth conspicuously:
Jesus taught with all the force at his command that the Most High God was the One True God, and He alone should be worshipped and adored (Matthew, 4:10).
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark, 12:30).
And when the man whom he had addressed accepted and acknowledged this great truth, saying:
“Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he” (Mark, 12:32).
Jesus was happy and pleased with him that he had spoken discreetly, and gave him the glad tidings that with such a true belief he was not far from the kingdom of God (Mark, 12:34). Jesus further emphasised that to serve the One True God only and to love His Creatures were two such commandments of the Most High God whereon hanged all the Law and prophets (Matthew, 22:37–40).
In this remarkable talk Jesus inculcated that his teaching was very much the same which had been inculcated in the Torah and the Books of the Prophets, and that when God is One and Only One, the teaching of the Prophets who had received light and guidance from the same Divine Source is also one and the same; and that his teaching was not different from what the Prophets had taught before, nor against it; and there could not, therefore, be any justification for the people not to believe in him. It is thus clear that Jesus did not hold it permissible to worship a stone, a tree, or a person, except the One True God.
According to Jesus, little children are innocent and pure; they love goodness, and hate evil. He therefore exhorted the people to become, like children, sinless and pure (Matthew, 19:1315). Jesus further enjoined upon the people to rise even above this state of sinlessness and purity, by imbuing themselves with the attributes of the Most High God (Matthew, 5:48).
This rational and advantageous teaching of Jesus manifest the great truth that man is by nature pure and clean, that by remaining true and conforming to the rule of his nature he can live a life of peace and contentment, and that he can further develop his condition by imbuing himself with Divine qualities. In the light of such a charming and illuminating teaching, the irrational doctrine of Atonement is neither acceptable nor is it proper to ascribe it to Jesus Christ. Jesus, on the contrary, enjoins upon the people to be righteous; for, it is only the righteous who will shine like the sun on the Day of Resurrection (Matthew, 13:43); they will be installed on high, lofty positions as a recompense and reward for their good deeds. Jesus said that the righteous shall enter into life eternal (Matthew, 25:46), which the unrighteous shall be denied. Moreover, the wicked are base and cowardly: “[they] flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs, 28:1), and strong as the great mountains (Psalms, 36:6). And it was for this reason that Jesus laid great stress upon adopting the life of righteousness and good deeds. As for himself, Jesus said:
“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me” (John, 4:34);
“for, man shall live by the word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew, 4:4).
Jesus further said:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew, 7:21).
As announced by Jesus himself, the purpose of his mission was to secure, for the benefit of the Children of Israel, the throne of his father, David, and to seek after and search the lost sheep of the House of Israel. His mission was definite and limited, and not meant for the entire mankind.
Jesus has declared that man is sinless and pure by nature; he has never said that the entire human race is sinful by birth, and that he had come to sacrifice his own life for their redemption. On the other hand, he has clearly taught in the Sermon on the Mount that it was by the adoption of a life of good deeds that man can get and reach the stage where he could be called the son of God (Matthew, 5:9), and blessed with the happy eternal life (Matthew, 5:10).
In contribution to the Christian doctrines in vogue, the Holy Bible has installed man on a position of loftiness and elevation. In the Book of Genesis, Adam’s dignity has been stated in very distinct and unambiguous terms, saying:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:…. and God created man in his own image” (Genesis, 1:26–27).
In the same way, the Gospel according to St. Luke (3:38) has called Adam as the one loved by God:
“Adam which was the son of God. And of the two sons of Adam, Abel has been said to be righteous” (Matthew, 23:35).
In the Book of Genesis (4:3–5) it has been stated that the Most High God accepted his offering, and that he was the first martyr; but Cain, the other son of Adam, turned out to be a malefactor. It should be clearly noted that if Adam were sinful by nature, Abel could not have been righteous and a dear one of God. The fact of the matter is that Adam was a near and dear one of God, and so became his son Abel. The contrast of the two sons of Adam clearly points to the fact that, among the progeny of Adam, there will be both good and bad people. Jesus accepts this without any reservation. He said:
“He [God] maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good” (Matthew, 5:45).
That there are people both good and bad among every nation and in every country, is a fact universally observed and accepted. Is it, therefore, right to condemn the entire humanity as sinful? The Holy Bible gives the names of some great and good personages besides Adam and Abel. About Israel the Most High God said:
“Israel is my son, even my firstborn” (Exodus 4:22),
and with reference to Enoch, it was said:
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death … for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb., 11:5–6).
In the same way, it has been said of Melchisedec:
“… first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God” (Hebrews, 7:2–3).
In respect of Anna St. Luke records (2:36):
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess…. which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”
Likewise, Joseph, the husband of Mary, has been spoken of as a righteous man (Matthew, 1:19), and of another person, Simeon by name, it is written:
“… there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him” (Luke, 2:25).
About John the Baptist, Jesus said:
“Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew, 11:11).
He turned many a heart towards God so that even harlots who led an immoral life, through the Baptist’s teaching, got their way into Paradise. And in respect of the Baptist’s parents, Zacharias and Elisabeth, it is written in the Gospel:
“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke, 1:6).
In short, according to the Torah and the Gospel, there have ever been in the world great and righteous personages; hence the Church doctrine that the entire human species is besmeared with inherent sin stands obviously against the clear and categorical teaching of the Bible, as also against our daily observation. This doctrine which condemns the whole human race as base-born and sinful is not only without any sense or argument, but is also defamatory and offensive. It is certainly the grossest injustice to ascribe and impute such a teaching to Jesus.
Jesus was of course impaled upon the Cross, but he did not die because of this. He had fallen into a state of complete unconsciousness; and it was after one day and two nights that he regained consciousness. That Jesus when taken down from the Cross was still alive, is borne out manifestly by the scarlet blood which gushed out of his side when a soldier pierced it with his spear. This testimony of the flowing blood can be witnessed even today: the painting of Jesus, with the blood dripping down his feet, hangs in the picture galleries of the Western world. This picture will ever continue to proclaim that Jesus certainly did not die upon the Cross and, therefore, the doctrine of Atonement which has its basis on the supposed death of Jesus on the Cross does not deserve to be considered a whit more than mere whim and fantasy. Moreover, this deleterious doctrine casts a slur on Jesus himself for it asserts that Jesus, bearing the burden of the sins of the whole human race, became himself accursed of God, and went into hell for three days (Galatians, 3:13). To call this true and righteous prophet of God as a man accursed and condemned to hell is indeed an insolence of the worst kind. It is simply inconceivable that a man who had been raise by the Most High God to keep off and save people from the furnace of hell fell into it himself.