Why Muhammad was wrong
by Marty Smithhart—
I once had a Muslim Imam tell me that “Jews don’t believe that.” You cannot rely on Jews to teach you what is right. I mean, it is perfectly clear in the scripture, Jesus did not rely on the Jewish leaders of his time to teach him the truth. It was ALWAYS Jesus teaching the truth. The truth is found in the scripture, Old (Tanakh) and New Testaments.
When I became a Christian in my 30s, one of the questions I used to ask myself is this: Is the Bible really that confusing? I asked that question because there is no doubt there are all kinds of views of Christianity, who God is, Islam’s view of God (Allah) and Judaism’s view of Hashem, etc. One thing that really captivated me when I first began to compare and contrast Christianity (the scriptures) with modern Judaism is this point: The scriptures, both Old and New Testament, were written before the Talmudic sages wrote. The Christian texts were written before Talmudic Judaism began codification. Therefore, if you want to know what the Bible says from its earliest point of view before Talmudic Judaism and its sages, you must use the Christian New Testament. All other views came after the Christian New Testament except to say the New Testament speaks of the darkness which had consumed the nation of Israel in Jesus’ earthly minister and that is visible in the New Testament. Talmudic Judaism, I fondly call Judaism 2.0 and Islam is Judaism 3.0. It is Christianity that is 1.0 - the original scriptures. And Jesus is the master teacher, greater than any Talmudic sage or the Prophet Muhammad. As Matthew wrote in the Gospel, someone greater has come and Matthew speaks of Jesus—the greater teacher. And with the Spirit, as Jesus says, he (the Spirit) will teach us all things. Praise the Lord!
The Sum of the Parts: Not only did Jesus DO miracles, he WAS the miracle.
It has been said that the test of a person’s greatness is their use or abuse of power. On this score how did Jesus fair, we may ask?
The four gospels’ collective portrait of Jesus is not just that he was a doer of miracles, but that he was himself a miracle. In all of world history, never has there been any other historical figure to whom so many miracles have been attributed, from birth to death—nay, even beyond death. Never another historical figure to whom so much other-worldly power has been ascribed—power over disease and disability, power over nature, power over demonic forces, power over discourse, and power over death itself. In conjunction, never has there been an historical figure to whom so much humanitarian goodness has been attributed. Power and goodness.
How variants in the canonical gospels prove they were not redacted.
The Bible’s four canonical gospels are the world’s best information for the person and work of Jesus, bar none. That is my position that is shared by a great many scholars, past and present. And yet there is an apparent problem with several facets: 1) Why are there four? 2) Why are the first three gospels—so called the synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke)—so similar to each other yet so different from the fourth (John)? 3) Why do even they have so many differences among them, some of which look like contradictions? And 4) Why do they have so many similarities among them, including even identical material? ...If the early church community had been predisposed to redaction ('super-editing') they could have thoroughly redacted the gospels to edit out all the discrepancies, especially any bonafide contradictions. Almost certainly, if there had been a Master Editor or, say, a Master Board of Redaction for the New Testament, they would have done so. It would have been in their better interests because the presence of variants and apparent discrepancies is inconvenient at best. But they did not. That they did not strongly suggests that their primary interests were authenticity and truth.
Why The Apocryphal Gospels Pale In Comparison to the 4 True Gospels
The gospels of Thomas, Mary, Judas and Peter are nonsense. These and many more are included in a collection of 52 gnostic manuscripts discovered in the village of Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945. Today they are readily accessible online. Myriad online sources say that they are all in Coptic and largely dated to the 4th century. The exception is the gospel of Thomas which is generally dated (in apparently the most prominent system) as early 132 AD, but which is no longer viewed as “gnostic” by one of the foremost experts on them, Elaine Pagels. Then there’s the gospel of Peter, the one to which I was assigned to give special attention on this occasion: Apparently, the author of our textbook, John Dominic Crossan believes that its original composition predates even the New Testament’s synoptic gospels (Wikipedia on Gospel of Peter). But almost no scholars agree. In broad strokes, the gnostic writings are a menagerie of esoteric sayings and reports that bear some resemblance to the stuff of the canonical four Gospels. If they didn’t then they would hardly be included in this category. It exists as a grouping of writings that were not invited to the “in-group” and that some say could have or should have been. But I think not. One reason is that they contradict each other, let alone the canonical gospels. Another is that they contain material that would be considered nonsense and/or repugnant by most thinking people. Another is their blatantly false authorship, and still another is their extremely late dating—far later than the gospels.
10 Gospel Variants. *Click on title to open.