Sin, Pride and Christianity

cc-2018-sitenews-pride

Coming closer to God. What exactly does this catch all phrase mean? It’s a question that has given rise to two distinct and competing ideologies, Islam and Christianity. Both of these faiths offer completely distinct solutions to this question, and at the heart of that solution lies salvation. How then, does one understand how these faiths address this question? In this article that is what I ultimately seek to answer.

Christianity answers this question in having God lower Himself, humble Himself by becoming a human being and taking on flesh. These beliefs are drawn from the crystal clear Biblical verses that follow:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 (NIV).

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. – Philippians 2:6-7 (NIV).

The Christian solution to this question is to lower God’s stature amongst men, to make Him one of us, an idea that has pervaded the thoughts of mankind spanning more than a millennia. To the Graeco-Romans, humans shared divinity with God as is seen with Hercules and Apollonius, with the Hindus, divinity also shared humanity as is seen in the appearance of a “Murti”. Christianity finds this in the form of Jesus. This idea is not new, and as was explicated upon recently, the Jesus of Christianity finds its metaphysical basis in Aristotelian thought. Instead of us coming closer to God, God came closer to us.

Islam on the other hand offers a much more robust proposition. God is not one of us. We are not gods. God is not arrogant such that He has to “lower” Himself and “humble” Himself. Rather, we accept an unassailable axiom, that we are beholden to God and He needs no change. To come closer to God, it is our humanity that needs to be reigned in, our desires and sins, our evil actions that need to submit to the authority to the ultimate judge and jury, God and God alone. We are not in competition with God, we are not rivals to His divinity, we are and never will be equals. The problem is not with God misunderstanding humanity or having a need to manifest Himself in our likeness, that is the arrogance of man to assume the fault is with God, such that the solution is that He needs to be more like us!

It is ironic that both Muslims and Christians agree that the downfall of Satan/ Iblees was due to his arrogance, that he would not submit to God’s authority. Yet born out of that fall was the belief of Christians that the solution for our world is that God should be one of us, the direct opposite of submission, the sin that fell Satan himself. As the Qur’an then says:

Do they seek other than the religion of Allah (the true Islamic Monotheism – worshipping none but Allah Alone), while to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly. And to Him shall they all be returned.  – Qur’an 3:83 (Mohsin-Khan Translation).

The idea that God need not only “humble” Himself (this assumes God is inherently arrogant), but that He should also die due to our actions against Him, that is sin, is the height of arrogance itself. God need not pay for my sins against Him. God need not suffer due to my inequities. I need to humble myself and accede to His authority, His mercy and His love. This is why I believe Islam answers the question of how we come closer to God, by recognizing His authority over us, by submitting our souls to Him it is then and only then can we truly know Him.

and God knows best.

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Categories: Islam

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42 replies

  1. The problem is not with God misunderstanding humanity or having a need to manifest Himself in our likeness, that is the arrogance of man to assume the fault is with God, such that the solution is that He needs to be more like us!

    This does not occur in any of the Gospels either. Although in John, while Jesus is almost certainly not God (that odd my “Lord and My God” that doesn’t have a straightforward interpretation), he certainly is some creature born from above who is one (in will) with the Father, and sent by Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ijaz,
    Good article.

    In its core beliefs, Christian theology inevitably leads one into the sin of arrogance, the same rebellious sin of the devil.

    While Islam teaches one to subdue and remove the arrogance within the inner self. There are many quotes and teachings on this subject in Islam.

    “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride (arrogance) shall not enter heaven.” – Prophet Muhammad (sws)

    “And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance” ~ Qur’an 17:37

    “Indeed he does not love the proud (arrogant).” ~ Qur’an 16:23

    “The crying of the sinners is more beloved to Allah than the tasbeeh of the arrogant” – Ibn al-Qayyim Madarij (As-Salikeen v.1, p. 177-178)

    “Put aside your pride, set down your arrogance, and remember your grave” – Ali Ibn Abi Talib

    Liked by 2 people

  3. great article Ijaz!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Really good post, I pray christians take this seriously to ponder..

    Jazakallah

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, excellent article indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christianity answers this question in having God lower Himself, humble Himself by becoming a human being and taking on flesh.

    This is not true – the proper way to understand Christian theology is in the way you should frame the statement. The way you framed the statement, you come at the problem as if man invented the solution, rather than understanding the God Himself provided the solution.

    God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son, answers the question by voluntarily becoming a man, humbling Himself.

    Christianity did not “lower God” or “having God lower Himself” as if humans could make God do anything.

    The verses you cited are truth and revelation. (John 1:14; Philippians 2:6-7) , except it is better to include John 1:1-5 and John 17:5 in that, because the point of John 1:1-5 (along with John 17:5) is that the eternal Son always existed and wanted to come and become a human for us – He voluntarily came. Humans did not come up with this idea.

    Instead of us coming closer to God, God came closer to us.
    This is true. God did it.

    Islam on the other hand offers a much more robust proposition.

    How is this “more robust” ?

    God is not one of us. We are not gods.

    True

    God is not arrogant such that He has to “lower” Himself and “humble” Himself.

    Christianity never teaches that God is arrogant; and never says He needs to lower or humble Himself. Rather, God, out of His own glory and majesty, in the second person of the Trinity, lowered Himself and humbled Himself by becoming a human. Big difference.

    Rather, we accept an unassailable axiom, that we are beholden to God and He needs no change.

    This is true; as is.

    To come closer to God, it is our humanity that needs to be reigned in, our desires and sins, our evil actions that need to submit to the authority to the ultimate judge and jury, God and God alone. We are not in competition with God, we are not rivals to His divinity, we are and never will be equals.

    True, but the incarnation does not contradict any of that.

    The problem is not with God misunderstanding humanity

    No Christian ever thought that.

    or having a need to manifest Himself in our likeness,

    Muslims constantly throw out the word “need” and yet Christians have never taught that God needed anything. He chose to save us because of the kind intention of His will.

    that is the arrogance of man to assume the fault is with God, such that the solution is that He needs to be more like us!

    No Christian ever taught that the fault is with God.

    Yet born out of that fall was the belief of Christians that the solution for our world is that God should be one of us, . . .

    God chose to become one of us; we did not “make” God do that. He can do that if He wants to.

    The idea that God need not only “humble” Himself (this assumes God is inherently arrogant), . . .

    There you go with the word “need” again. I don’t think you are using it correct in light of what Christian theology actually is. It is a constant straw man to keep putting the word “need” in your argumentation.

    God need not pay for my sins against Him. God need not suffer due to my inequities.

    there you go again with “need” and “need”.

    Christian theology, based on the Scriptures, says
    God loved and wanted to pay for our sins against Him. God wanted to suffer and pay the atonement.

    One of the most important verses for Muslims to get into their thinking is John 10:18

    “no one takes My life from Me” – no one forced Me to do this

    “I lay My life down on My own initiative” – I voluntarily did this out of love and mercy.

    This is why I believe Islam answers the question of how we come closer to God, by recognizing His authority over us, by submitting our souls to Him it is then and only then can we truly know Him.

    the problem is that you cannot know God or come close to God; your sins have enslaved you so that you cannot get to Him.

    No one is able to come to God except through Jesus Christ. John 14:6

    No one can be saved except through Christ – Acts 4:12; Romans 10:13-15

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    • As per Philippians 2:7, you know very well it says he lowered, emptied, made himself humble. To claim the text says anything other than that is to literally play games with the passage.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ken, you said and let me quote you here:

      ” God wanted to suffer and pay the atonement.”

      God is all-powerful, this is what I mean by the arrogance of man. God wanting to suffer, was he having an existential crisis? God is impassible, you know that. When did God decide to punish himself?

      You would have me believe that the same God who accepted prayer for atonement and forgiveness, chose to suffer because he had no other way to forgive sin? The same sin he forgave previously? Again, it is you and I that are sinful, not God. If you believe God needed to punish and torture himself, despite explicitly saying and doing otherwise, then what does that say about the God you believe in? To me, it says why I cannot believe in that.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Yet, it is actually the Qur’an that says that Allah is the proud / arrogant one. ( Al-Motakabbir) الْمُتَكَبِّرُ

    هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ –

    Surah 59:23

    The word is translated sometimes “supreme”, “superior”, and I have seen some translations add “justly” to the word for proud / arrogant.

    “He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller (الجبار Al Jabbar – “the one who forces”), the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him.”

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  8. Yes, Philippians 2:7 says that; but it was God’s choice, voluntarily, out of love.

    But the way you framed your argument, yours says that Christians (humans) “had” to “have” and “needs” to have God lower Himself; rather than God Himself choosing to humble Himself; and revealing this truth to man.
    Man did not come up with this.

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    • Ken, if God had no need to do any of these things, then why was He sent? Don’t forgo John 3:16. Sent. I’m sure it uses that word, right? It’s either he was sent or he chose to come. That doesn’t sound like love to me, choosing to humble himself from his arrogance and sent to suffer, I fail to see the choice here other than to become an apostate on the cross. He was angry at himself or punishing himself for sending himself for the thing he prayed not to happen for (pass this cup). Sounds reasonable to me.

      If he had no need, then what other way was there to atone for sin?

      Liked by 3 people

  9. The root is Akbar اکبر – کبر great; but Motakabbir متکبر forms the word into “proud”, “arrogant”. Several Qur’an translations confirm this.

    The Study Qur’an, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, has “proud” (page 1357 at Surah 59:23)

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    • Ken….where it goes on to explain what it means, “The Proud is the One Who is majestic to the exclusion of all else, so that nothing is worthy of being considered in relation to Him.”

      It has nothing to do with arrogance. Again, your tu quoque has failed. Trying to change its meaning isn’t going to help deflect from the issue at hand with Philippians 2:7 where it plainly states God had to humble himself. No change of meaning needed, no tu quoque, it’s clear.

      Liked by 2 people

    • By the way Ken, the “mu” in front of any adjective or noun simply means the one who is doing the action in relation to that thing. Mufasir in relation to Tafsir, Muslim in relation to Salam, Muaddhin in relation to the Adhan. This is basic Arabic, I am actually quite shocked you thought that this was a good argument. How long have you been studying Islam or Arabic to have made such a folly of the basics?

      Liked by 3 people

  10. John 3:16. Sent. I’m sure it uses that word, right? It’s either he was sent or he chose to come.

    Yes . . .

    It is both. sent by the Father, and willingly choosing to come by the eternal Son.

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  11. That doesn’t sound like love to me, choosing to humble himself from his arrogance and sent to suffer, . . . ”

    You are assuming that the Son humbling Himself means necessarily “from his arrogance”. No. He humbled Himself, yes. But “humble himself from his arrogance”; No.

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  12. There is no contradiction because one is done by the Father and the other by the Son.

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    • Ah, it’s good you know about the law of non-contradiction, but that does not apply here. The same God, sent Himself and chose to come. One is the opposite of the other. Denying that there is a contradiction is not a rebuttal, it is a denial and so useless to no end with respect to our inquiry,

      Liked by 1 person

  13. to humble or lower oneself in the context of Philippians 2 is not a moral / ethical meaning “humility vs. arrogance”

    rather it is an non moral, non-ethical meaning – state of being exalted in heaven vs. coming down to earth, to our level

    “to lower oneself” / humble oneself vs. being exalted / high متعال / تعالی ، عالی

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  14. “humbling oneself” is a metaphor for making oneself lower, not repenting of arrogance.

    you try again

    the meaning is that God voluntarily lowered Himself by coming down and becoming human – not repenting of arrogance.

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  15. no, I am not avoiding the point. It is a non-ethical meaning of God lowering Himself from His exalted place in heaven and voluntarily taking on a human nature and body.

    It is the opposite of His exalted existence in glory.

    And Jesus prays for the restoration of that glory. John 17:5

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    • Thanks for your eisegesis, but solely from a Biblical perspective, the antonym for “ἐταπείνωσεν” is what? It’s a transient term, so hopefully, if we are faithful to the Biblical term, you can tell me the antonym as is used in the Bible.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. The text of Philippians 2:9 provides the opposite meaning, in context. God the Father exalted Jesus – by His resurrection and ascension and session (seating at the right hand of the Father).

    He was restored to His exalted glory, which He had in eternity with the Father. (John 1:1-5; 17:5)

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    • Repeating yourself won’t help. What is the antonym of “ἐταπείνωσεν”, it can’t be this hard to give us one word. Quite surprising you’re trying everything but the one thing you know you should be doing. One word, what is the antonym of “ἐταπείνωσεν”. When you find it, and are faithful enough to present it, we’ll continue, God willing.

      Please don’t disrespect the scripture by avoiding the words within it, some people take offense to that. Have a pleasant night.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. So, mine is the exegesis, not eisegesis.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The context of Philippians 2:9 – “God the Father exalted Him” gives us the exegetical opposite of what the text means by “humbling Himself”.

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  19. Well well well! Looks like Kenny has returned!
    How are you?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. “Christianity answers this question in having God lower Himself, humble Himself by becoming a human being and taking on flesh.”

    But the Word never changed from being God during this process.

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  21. I found this post very intersting! I think that it is very important to look at the similarites between Islam and Christianity as well as the very distink ​differences. I’d appreciate it if you took the time to read some of my posts on my Christian blog too – rcghub.wordpress.com

    Like

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