Jun 27, 2022

The Doctrine of Effectual Calling (Notes on Systematic Theology)


Definitions of Effectual Calliing:

"this calling is that act by which those, who are chosen by God and redeemed by Christ, both externally and internally are sweetly invited and effectually brought from a state of sin to a state of communion with God." (Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants, Vol. 1, pg. 344) 

" Effectual calling is the sovereign summons of the triune God, by which, according to his eternal election of individuals, through undeserved grace he produces gospel faith and repentance in them to create a new people in spiritual union with Christ, who live in holiness while God infallibly brings them to glory." (Joel R. Beeke)


Semantic Terms

The Greek word kaleo ("to call") can refer to an invitation (Luke 14:13), but can also bear the more forceful sense of a "summons" (Isaiah 65:12; Matthew 4:19-22; 22:1-3). 

Scripture uses the term "call" to refer to when God, through His providence, summons people to do His will (Isaiah 40:26; Jeremiah 1:15; Ezekiel 38:21; Note: Jeremiah uses the Hebrew term qara in 1:15, which literally means "to call".)

Biblical Evidence for Effectual Calling

A key distinction within Reformed theology on this point that is necessary to understand is between the vocatio interna (internal call) and the vocatio externa (external call). Arminians claim that Scripture does not present such a distinction at all, and hence that whenever Scripture speaks of people being "called" to salvation, it is in reference only to the external call and invitation of the Gospel that gives through evangelism and preaching. 

The best passage to illustrate that there is such a thing as an effectual, internal call of God to salvation is Romans 8:30, which says "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified..." If "called" here referred to the external call of the gospel proclamation, then it would mean that everyone who is externally invited here has also been previously predestined by God (the text teaches clearly that everyone who has been predestined is also called.) If the "calling" here is in reference to "external call", why are there so many people under the preaching of the Gospel who are still hard-hearted and reject the Gospel? Thus, in order to make any rational sense of this text, we must conclude that it speaks of an internal call of God which takes place within the souls of the elect people of God.

Here are some biblical examples and evidences of the doctrine of effectual calling:

"And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints" (Romans 1:6-7)

"To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.....God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:2, 9)

"But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace," (Galatians 1:15)

"who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity," (2 Timothy 1:9)

Effectual Calling creates a new people (Isaiah 48:13; John 5:25)

Effectual Calling produces faith and repentance in the elect (1 Corinthians 12:3)

A Note on the External Gospel Call/Invitation

Many have caricatured Calvinism as being inept for evangelistic purposes, saying that Calvinists cannot in any well-meaning way, invite people to Christ. I would respond by saying that this is hyper-Calvinism, rather than traditional Calvinism. Note what the following paragraph from the Canons of Dort says:

"Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel." (Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine, Article 5)

Jun 26, 2022

The Origins of the Arian Heresy (Notes on Church History)


Arguably the most destructive heresy in the first 1000 years of church history was that of Arianism. This heresy denied Christ's deity and equality in nature with God the Father. It started with its namesake, Arius. However, it is rarely discussed as to what influenced Arius to argue that Christ was not truly God. In this article, I wish to discuss this issue and seek to figure out what were the origins of Arianism.

Harry Wolfson, in his book The Philosophy of the Church Fathers argued that Philo had a significant influence on Arius' thought. However, due to the ambiguity of the nature of Philo's Logoi theology, we cannot view him as a predecessor of Arianism. Others have suggested Clement of Alexandria, since he used the word "creature" to describe the Son. However, he meant this in a different way than Arius did, especially since he elsewhere teaches the eternality of the Son.

Within Gnosticism, there are some teachings that resemble some aspects of Arius' thought. For example, Ptolemy spoke of the Father as the only being who is agennetos (unoriginated), while the Demiurge is generated (gennetos). However, there were once again significant differences between Arius and Gnostic thinkers in the way they articulated these respective concepts.

Things get a bit more difficult when we think the intellectual relationship between Origen and Arius. A link between Origen and Arianism existed during the 4th century (in which the Arian controversy took place). Marcellus of Ancyra (who later was revealed to have semi-Arian tendencies) accused his Arian opponents of being too heavily influenced by Origen (Eusebius of Caesarea, Contra Marcellum, 1.4.17-18). 

Epiphanius also directly connected Origen with Arianism (Panarion, chapter 64). He also quotes a passage from one of Origen's commentaries on the Psalms, cited in the Philokalia, where Origen says "so that you might approach and pray to the God and Father of all through our Saviour and High-priest, the originated God."

"Origen taught in the Peri Archon that the Son cannot see the Father nor the Spirit the Son nor angels the Spirit nor men angels; he refused to allow that the Son is from the ousja of the Father, for he is altogether alien from the father, created, and only a Son by grace." (R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy [318-381], pg. 61)

However, there were other points on which Origen and Arius differed drastically. For example, Origen thought that the human soul of Jesus before the Incarnation existed eternally (in consequence of his view that all human souls had eternally existed), whereas Arius (Apollinaris) denied that Christ had any human soul at all. 

There are three main points concerning Origen's influence on Arius where it is more difficult to determine:

[1]. The will of God - Origen taught that the Father's will supports the Son's existence (Peri Archon, 1.2.6). While both Origen and Arius tried to avoid anthropomorphism when speaking of the Son's (non-eternal) generation from the Father, Arius thought of the Son as not in any way partaking of the Father's nature. On the other hand, Origen thought of the Father as imparting His will and nature to the Son. 

[2]. Ousia and Hypostasis - Origen viewed these terms as synonymous for the concept of a "distinct individual entity". He never uses ousia to mean essence or substance. However, this differed from Arius' concept of three distinct hypostases (without recognizing their unity of essence). 

[3]. The Son's knowledge of the Father - Both Origen and Arius in some sense placed limitations upon the Son's knowledge of the Father. However, Arius thought of the Son's participation in the Father as by appointment, rather than by nature.

"This survey of the relation between the thought of Origen and that of Arius, then, suggests that though Arius probably inherited some terms and even some ideas from Origen, whether by direct acquaintance with his works or indirectly, he certainly did not adopt any huge or significant part of Origen's theology. We would not be justified in saying that Origen explained Arius in any but comparatively minor details." (R.P.C. Hanson)

The next possible person to have influenced Arius would be Paul of Samosata. Tons of scholars view him as a influencer of Arius. Lorenz lists nine points of similarity between Arius and Paul of Samosata in terms of their theology. However, some other scholars have said that Paul of Samosata was an ancestor of a school of thought very much opposed to Arianism, that of Marcellus of Ancyra and Eustathius of Antioch. 

While Paul of Samosata and Arius are similar in their basic denial of the deity of Christ, they differ in how they view the Son's supposed non-eternality. While Paul of Samosata denied that Jesus pre-existed in any sense whatsoever, Arius did grant Jesus a prior existence to His life on earth, just not an eternal one. 

Another possible "predecessor" of Arius would be Dionysius of Alexandria (d. 265 AD). Pseudo-Didymus of Alexandria confirms that Arians did cite Dionysius of Alexandria in support for their view (De Trinitate 3.8). In particular, there is a passage from one of Dionysius' anti-Sabellian letters where he speaks of the Son as "generate" and calls Him a "creature". Athanasius responds that Dionysius was speaking of Christ's human nature, rather than His divine nature. Basil says that Dionysius unintentionally sowed the seeds of Arius' thought, going too far in his anti-Sabellian stance. This seems to be the more sensible conclusion.

"If, as seems likely, Arius put together an eclectic pattern of theology in order to attain the particular ends which he had in mind, Dionysius of Alexandria certainly· contributed to that pattern." (R.P.C. Hanson)

Another figure which many scholars harp as Arius' predecessor is his teacher, Lucian of Antioch. The problem is that we have little to no knowledge of Lucian's actual theology. We do, however, have one useful piece of information:

"There is one fact, and one fact only, which we can with any confidence accept as authentic about Lucian's doctrine. The statements of Epiphanius that Lucian taught that the Saviour at the Incarnation assumed a body without a soul is confirmed by the fact that this doctrine becomes an invariable feature of Arian teaching after Arius, and that Eustathius of Antioch, a contemporary of Arius, attributes it to his followers." (R.P.C. Hanson)

The final person to consider in our study of the possible influences of Arianism is Methodius of Olympus, a 3rd century bishop. He calls God alone "ingenerate" and speaks of the Son's dependence on the Father. 

Philosophical Background

Middle Platonist philosophy is a likely candidate for the philosophical background of Arius. It held to the concept of pre-temporal time. This idea comes to mind when we remember that Arius believed that the Son existed before all ages, but yet there was "a time when the Son was not." 

Another Middle Platonist concept which we find Arius' thought is that of the Monad and the Dyad. In his Letter to Alexander, Arius refers to God as the "monad" and as the "triad". 


"We can at the end of this lengthy review of Arius' ideas conclude with some confidence that he was eclectic in his philosophy. He fits neatly neither into a wholly Platonic nor into a wholly Aristotelian nor Stoic picture. though he certainly has traits taken from the first two at least. And one of his most startling doctrines, that of the creation of the Son out of non-existence, has no parallel in Greek philosophy at all. He was not without influence from Origen, but cannot seriously be called an Origenist." (R.P.C. Hanson)

Jun 25, 2022

Roe Vs. Wade is Overturned! Praise God!


After 50 years of unceasing prayer and fighting, one of the most unjust and evil SCOTUS decisions in American history has been gutted, namely Roe vs Wade, the law that legalized the murder of unborn children made in the image of God.

Nearly everyone in America (and many around the world) know that today, Roe vs Wade was overruled and is no longer in effect. This will lead to the criminalization of baby-murder in 22 states around the country.

We should praise God today for this act of grace and mercy towards America, and continue proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who have had abortions, performed abortions, or openly advocated for abortion. Pray that the Lord would grant them repentance and faith. They are not beyond the mercy of God.

Roe vs. Wade is overturned! Praise God!

Jun 24, 2022

Monothelitism and the 6th Ecumenical Council (Notes on Church History)


-There remained in the empire a huge split between Chalcedonians and Monophysites. The Emperor Heraclius wanted to reconcile these two groups and lead the empire in a peaceful and prosperous direction.

-Heraclius turned to Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople. Sergius claimed that Chalcedonians and Monophysites could unite around the formula of "one energy" in Christ.

-"Sergius of Constantinople, then, argued that energy really belonged to person rather than to nature. Since Chalcedonians and Monophysites were agreed that Christ was one person, they could (Sergius suggested) see His two natures being united in the single energy of His person." (Nick Needham)

-Emperor Heraclius' "one-energy" formula did bring about union between Chalcedonians and Monophysites in places like Egypt and Armenia. Cyrus, the patriarch of Alexandria, also agreed with this formula. However, it was met with strong resistance in Palestine.

-The main person who opposed Sergius and Heraclius was a monk named Sophronius of Jerusalem, who later elected patriarch in 634. Sophronius taught that energy did not belong to person, but to nature.

-When Heraclius noticed the opposition of Sophronius, he consulted Pope Honorius, in an attempt to get his support. Honorius agreed with Sergius' view and taught in his correspondences.

-Emperor Heraclius issued a document known as the Ecthesis. This document forbid any talk of energies, and claimed that Christ had only one divine will. This was the "imperial orthodoxy". 

-This angered the enemies of Monotheletism. One such person was the Greek monk Maximus the Confessor. He maintained that will belonged to nature, rather than to person. Maximus believed that Monothelitism threatened the gospel and salvation itself.

-Heraclius died in 641. His successor was Constans II. Constans II decided to try and end the controversy by issuing the Typos, a document which banned all talk about wills and energy(s) in Christ, from both sides of the debate.

-The orthodox Dyothelites would not submit to Constans II's demands. Pope Martin I held a synod at the Lateran in 649 which condemned the Typos. Maximus the Confessor was also present at this council. Constans II responded by imprisoning and eventually exiling Pope Martin I (who died shortly after), and Maximus was banished to Bizya in Thrace. 

-From his place of exile, Maximus continued to condemn Monothelitism. Maximus was eventually executed brutally: his tongue was ripped out and his right hand was chopped off. He was banished to Lazica, where he died shortly thereafter.

-In 668, Constans II was murdered. His son, Constantine IV, succeeded him. He was a much more wise emperor than his tyrannical father. 

-Constantine IV, along with Pope Agatho, summoned the Third Council of Constantinople. 

-The council began with the papal legates asking the clergy of Constantinople to explain Monothelitism to them. George of Constantinople and Macarius of Antioch. The acts of the previous ecumenical councils were then read, and discussions of forgeries within the texts took place.

-In the 8th session, George of Constantinople admitted that the authentic writings of the church fathers convinced him of the Dyothelite position that Christ had two wills, and so he gave up his Monothelitism.

-Macarius of Antioch, however, defended Monothelitism to the end. Macarius presented passages of the fathers to prove his viewpoint. It was later discovered however, that many of the writings were taken out of context or forged.

-In the tenth session, the council presented a statement of faith. In the twelfth session, Macarius of Antioch was put on trial and then excommunicatied.

-In the thirteenth session, Sergius, Cyrus, Pyrrhus, Paul, Peter, Theodore, and Honorius were all condemned as heretics. The synodical letters of St. Sophronius of Jerusalem were declared orthodox. 

-In the fifteenth session, a strange incident occurred. Polychronius, a follower of Macarius, tried (and failed) to raise a dead man to prove Monothelitism. 

-In the final two sessions, the orthodox bishops drew up a statement of faith and signed it. When Constantine IV signed it, the bishops shouted their acclamations.

Jun 16, 2022

Classical Muslim Scholars on the Meaning of "Tahrif" and the Bible


A key word in the debate over the Qur'an's view of the Bible is the Arabic word (tahrif). Its most basic meaning is "to corrupt". Ibn Taymiyyah gives a more comprehensive definition below:

3.6.1 AT-TAHREEF In the Language - to change or alter. Technically here - to change the texts in wording or meaning. This is of 3 kinds. Altering the words so the meaning changes: e.g. What some innovators do to the Saying of Allaah in (4):164 - changing the Dammah on the last letter of "Allaah" with a Fathah, in order to change the meaning to "Moosaa spoke to Allaah..." Altering the words with no change of meaning: e.g. changing the Dammah on the last letter of "al Hamd" in (1):2, to a Fathah. This usually occurs out of ignorance. Altering the Meaning: taking the meaning of the words away from their most apparent meaning without any proof. e.g. Saying Allaah's Two Hands means "His Power" or "His Blessing". (Ibn Taymiyyah, Creed of Hamawiyyah - Chapter 3: The Way of Ahl us-Sunnah Concerning Allaah's Attributes, Source)

Nearly all Muslims today would hold to the view that the text (and thus, the meaning as well) of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures has been changed and distorted. 

I would submit that while the Qur'an and early Islamic tradition does say that the Torah and the Injeel suffered tahrif, this was a corruption of the meaning of the text, rather than the text itself, in contrast to the teaching of later Muslims such as Ibn Hazm (a well-known polemicist against Christianity) and (possibly) Ibn Taymiyyah, who had a more nuanced view, which is also different from the majority Islamic view today. 

Here is a brief listing of some of the sources I have used for this article:

Adang, Camilla. Muslim Writers on Judaism & the Hebrew Bible from Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm. E. J. Brill Leiden, 1996.

Saeed, Abdullah. "The Charge of Distortion of Jewish and Christian Scriptures." The Muslim World, vol. 92, 2002, pgs. 419-36.

Tarakci, Muhammet, and Suleyman Sayar. "The Qur’anic View of the Corruption of the Torah and the Gospels." The Islamic Quaterly, vol. 49, no. 3, 2005, pp. 227-45.

#1 - Ibn Rabban

"The accusation of deliberate distortion of the Torah, which we find for example in the works of Ibn Hazm, is nowhere voiced in Kitab al-din a’l-dawla ... he refers to a distortion of the interpretation of the scriptures and not of the text itself ... However, Ibn Rabban could ill afford to reject the Torah as a forgery, for this would deprive him of the main proof he adduces for Muhammad’s veracity; the frequent occurrence of his name and description in the Jewish - and Christian - scriptures." (Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers on Judaism & the Hebrew Bible from Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm, pg. 225)

#2 - Ibn Qutayba

"Ibn Qutayba used the Torah not only as a book in which the advent of the Prophet is foretold, but also as a historical source... It is clear that what is meant by tahrif is giving a wrong interpretation to an otherwise genuine text. Ibn Qutayba does not question the authenticity or validity of the Jewish scriptures, and nowhere does he accuse the Jews of having distorted them. Admittedly, he states in his Ma‘arif that the Torah was burned at one point, but he immediately adds that Ezra reinstated it after the Jews had returned to Syria...The statement about the restoration of the Lost Torah probably goes back indirectly to the apocryphal IV Ezra with which, as we have seen in Chapter Four, Ibn Qutayba was acquainted in one form or another. We see the motif of Ezra as the inspired restorer of the holy scriptures recurring in the works of other historians, among them al-Tabari. (Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers, pgs. 225-226)

#3 - Al-Baqillani

"It would seem that al-Baqillani simply assumed it to be authentic, albeit abrogated....Apparently al-Baqillani believed that the words of Moses were still extant in their Hebrew original, and could serve as the touchstone with which to compare the statements made by the Jews. The term as used by him stands for inadvertent errors made in the process of translation, rather than deliberate alterations effected in the text of the Torah." (Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers, pgs. 234-235) 

#4 - Al-Mas'udi

"According to al-Ma‘sudi’s account of the Torah - which echoes that of al-Ya‘qubi - the text of the Torah was not corrupted; no new laws were introduced; the old ones were just reinstated...The one time he addresses the issue of tahrif – in the Muruj - it is clear that he accuses the Jews of distorting the sense of the Torah, not the text...So far, we have only encountered authors who subscribed to the view that the misrepresentation of the Torah referred to in the Koran merely concerns the meaning of the Torah and not its text. As may be concluded from al-Tabari’s Tafsir, however, the opposite view also had its partisans. With al-Maqdisi we turn to an authority who had his misgivings about the authenticity of the text." (Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers, pg. 232)

#5 - Ibn Taymiyyah

As I said briefly at the beginning of this article, Ibn Taymiyyah held a nuanced view on the issue of tahrif. While in some of his treatises (such as Al-Jawab al-Sahih, a book written against Christians as a whole), he frequently accuses Christians in particular of distorting their Scriptures (the same ones which he demonstrates his astounding ignorance of throughout his treatise), he elsewhere says that while some copies of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures were indeed textually altered, some were not:

"It is said that in the world there is no single copy [or version of the scripture] that corresponds to what God revealed in Tawrät and Injil. All that exist are changed (mubaddal). As for Tawrät, its transmission from a large number of people to a [subsequent] large number of people has stopped and the Injil is taken from four [people]. Then, among these people [Muslims] there are those who allege (za'ama) that much of what is in Tawrt and Injtl [today] is false (batil), not of God's word (kalam allah). Some of them said that what is false is not much. It is [also said]: No one has changed any text of the scriptures. Rather they [Jews and Christians] have falsified their meanings by [false] interpretations. Many Muslims have held both of these views. The correct [view] is the third view, which is that in the world there are true (sahib) copies [versions], and these remained until the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and many copies [versions] which are corrupted. Whoever says that nothing in [these] copies [versions] was corrupted he has denied what cannot be denied. Whoever says that, after the Prophet (peace be upon him), all copies [versions] have been corrupted (burrifat), he has said what is manifestly false (khatab). The Qur'än commands them to judge with what Allah revealed in Tawrät and Injil. [Allah] informs that in both there is wisdom (bikmab). There is nothing in the Qur'än to indicate that they altered all copies [versions]." (Ibn Taymiyyah, Tafsir al-Kabir, Vol. I, pg. 209)

#6 - Ibn Khaldun

"Someone might come out against this tradition with the argument that it occurs only in the Torah which, as is well known, was altered by the Jews. The reply to this argument would be that the statement concerning the alteration of the Torah by the Jews is unacceptable to thorough scholars and cannot be understood in its plain meaning, since custom prevents people who have a revealed religion from dealing with the divine scriptures in such a manner." (Ibn Khaldun, The Muqqaddimah: An Introduction to History, Vol. I, pg. 20)

W.J. Fischel writes the following concerning Ibn Khaldun's view of the Hebrew Bible:

"Unlike Ibn Hazm or other Muslim authors dealing with the fundamental concepts of other religions in comparison with or in defense of Islam, Ibn Khaldun approaches the Bible and Judaism not as a theologian but as an historian, generally free from polemics and prejudices; as a Muslim, however, he could not help taking part in the discussions of Islamic scholars as to the origin and genuineness of the text of the Holy Scriptures of the Jews and Christians (Ahl al-Kitab). As is well-known, Islamic theologians were divided in their views in this respect—one group accused the Jews and Christians of having corrupted the text (tahrif) while others charged them only with a misinterpretation of passages of the Holy Scriptures. Ibn Khaldun, as Mas’udi and others, adheres to the latter view and rejects the notion of the falsification of the text as such." (W.J. Frischel, “Ibn Khaldun: On the Bible, Judaism and the Jews,” in Ignace Goldziher Memorial Volume, Vol. 2, pgs. 156-157)

Concerning most of the writers she examined, Camilla Adang writes:

"... It was found that the majority of our authors subscribe to a mild interpretation of the Koranic allegation of large-scale tampering with the Torah by the Jews (tahrif); according to this interpretation, only the sense of the biblical text had been changed while the text itself remained intact. Only al-Maqdisi and Ibn Hazm believed that the text had suffered distortion. The person held responsible by Ibn Hazm for corruption of the Torah was Ezra the scribe, who was generally put in a very positive light by Hazm’s predecessors. Apart from al-Tabari, the authors who held to a moderate view of tahrif felt justified in using the Bible as a historical source and for apologetical purposes." (Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers, pg. 251)



Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah on the Hebrew Bible

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is a respected scholar within the Islamic tradition, along with others such as Ibn Taymiyyah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Fakhr al-Din ar-Razi, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, and many, many others. Here is a narration from one of his works, entitled "Ighathat al-Lafhan":

There were different opinions concerning the Torah which they had in their hands: Has it been changed? Did the change or corruption take place during the interpretation of the Torah but not during its revelation?

There are three opinions: two at opposite ends and a middle one.

One party claimed that all or most of the Torah has been changed and it is not the same book which was revealed by Allah to Moses. Their reason had to do with the variations of the text and the contradictions of some of its parts with the other parts to the point that the text now allows ablution with urine.

On the other side, another party of hadith and fiqh scholars said: these changes took place during its interpretation and not during the process of its revelation. This is the view of Abi Abdullah Muhammad bin Ishmael Al-Bukhari who said in his hadith collection:

"No one can corrupt the text by removing any of Allah’s words from his Books, but they corrupted it by misinterpreting it."

Al-Razi also agrees with this opinion. In his commentary he said:

There is a difference of opinions regarding this matter among some of the respectable scholars. Some of these scholars said: the manuscript copies of the Torah were distributed everywhere and no one knows the exact number of these copies except Allah. It is impossible to have a conspiracy to change or alter the word of God in all of these copies without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or possible. And when Allah told his messenger (Muhammad) to ask the Jews to bring their Torah and read it concerning the stoning command they were not able to change this command from their copies, that is why they covered up the stoning verse while they were reading it to the prophet. It was then when Abdullah Ibn Salam requested that they remove their hand so that the verse became clear. If they have changed or altered the Torah then this verse would have been one of the important verses to be altered by the Jews. 

Also, whenever the prophet would ask them (the Jews) concerning the prophecies about him in the Torah they were not able to remove them either, and they would respond by stating that they are not about him and they are still waiting for the prophet in their Torah.

Abu Dawood narrated in his collection that Ibn Umar said:

A group of Jewish people invited the messenger of Allah to a house. When he came, they asked him: O Abu Qassim, one of our men committed adultery with a woman, what is your judgment against him? So they placed a pillow and asked the messenger of Allah to set on it. Then the messenger of Allah proceeded to say: bring me the Torah. When they brought it, he removed the pillow from underneath him and placed the Torah on it and said: I believe in you and in the one who revealed you, then said: bring me one of you who have the most knowledge. So they brought him a young man who told him the story of the stoning.

The scholars said: if the Torah was corrupted he would not have placed it on the pillow and he would not have said: I believe in you and in the one who revealed you. This group of scholars also said: Allah said:

"And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly and justly; there is none who can change His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing."

And the Torah is Allah’s word.

This group of scholars also said: there are famous traditions also which indicate that the Jews covered up the prophecies in the Torah concerning the prophet, and they did not allow their children and the common people to look up these prophecies, and if any one looked up these prophecies, the Jews will tell him that they are not concerning Muhammad. These are the arguments which this group of scholars used.

A third group said: the Torah was altered slightly, however the majority of it is still intact, but the changes were MINOR, and among those who have chosen this view is our scholar [Ibn Tayimiyyah] in his book Al-Jawaab ("The Answer").

قال ابن القيم في إغاثة اللهفان 2/351 :

" فصل وقد اختلفت أقوال الناس في التوراة التي بأيديهم : هل هي مبدلة

أم التبديل والتحريف وقع في التأويل دون التنزيل على ثلاثة أقوال : طرفين ووسط # فأفرطت طائفة وزعمت أنها كلها أو أكثرها مبدلة مغيرة ليست التوراة التي أنزلها الله تعالى على موسى عليه السلام وتعرض هؤلاء لتناقضها وتكذيب بعضها لبعض وغلا بعضهم فجوز الاستجمار بها من البول # وقابلهم طائفة أخرى من أئمة الحديث والفقه والكلام فقالوا : بل التبديل وقع في التأويل لا في التنزيل

# وهذا مذهب أبي عبدالله محمد بن إسماعيل البخاري

# قال في صحيحه يحرفون : يزيلون وليس أحد يزيل لفظ كتاب من كتب الله تعالى ولكنهم يحرفونه : يتأولونه على غير تأويله # وهذا اختيار الرازي في تفسيره # وسمعت شيخنا يقول : وقع النزاع في هذه المسألة بين بعض الفضلاء فاختار هذا المذهب ووهن غيره فأنكر عليه فأحضر لهم خمسة عشر نقلا به # ومن حجة هؤلاء : أن التوراة قد طبقت مشارق الأرض ومغاربها وانتشرت جنوبا وشمالا ولا يعلم عدد نسخها إلا الله تعالى ومن الممتنع أن يقع التواطؤ على التبديل والتغيير في جميع تلك النسخ بحيث لا يبقى في الأرض نسخة إلا مبدلة مغيرة والتغيير على منهاج واحد وهذا مما يحيله العقل ويشهد ببطلانه # قالوا : وقد قال الله تعالى لنبيهمحتجا على اليهود بها : قل فائتوا بالتوراة فاتلوها إن كنتم صادقين قالوا : وقد اتفقوا على ترك فريضة الرجم ولم يمكنهم تغييرها من التوراة ولهذا لما قرؤها على النبيوضع القارىء يده على آية الرجم فقال له عبدالله بن سلام : ارفع يدك عن آية الرجم فرفعها فإذا هي تلوح تحتها فلو كانوا قد بدلوا ألفاظ التوراة لكان هذا من أهم ما يبدلونه قالوا : وكذلك صفات النبيومخرجه هو في التوراة بين جدا ولم يمكنهم إزالته وتغييره : وإنما ذمهم الله تعالى بكتمانهم وكانوا إذا احتج عليهم بما في التوراة من نعمته وصفته يقولون : ليس هو ونحن ننتظره # قالوا : وقد روى أبو داود في سننه عن ابن عمر قال : أتى نفر من اليهود فدعوا رسول اللهإلى القف فأتاهم في بيت المدراس فقالوا : يا أبا القاسم إن رجلا منا زنى بامرأة فاحكم فوضعوا لرسول اللهوسادة فجلس عليها ثم قال : ائتوني بالتوراة فأتي بها فنزع الوسادة من تحته ووضع التوراة عليها ثم قال : آمنت بك وبمن أنزلك ثم قال : ائتوني بأعلمكم فأتي بفتى شاب ثم ذكر قصة الرجم # قالوا : فلو كانت مبدلة مغيرة لم يضعها على الوسادة ولم يقل : آمنت بك وبمن أنزلك قالوا : وقد قال تعالى : وتمت كلمة ربك صدقا وعدلا لا مبدل لكلماته وهو السميع العليم والتوراة من كلماته # قالوا : والآثار التي في كتمان اليهود صفة رسول اللهفي التوراة ومنعهم أولادهم وعوامهم الاطلاع عليها مشهورة ومن اطلع عليها منهم قالوا له : ليس به فهذا بعض ما احتجت به هذه الفرقة # وتوسطت طائفة ثالثة وقالوا : قد زيد فيها وغير ألفاظ يسيرة ولكن أكثرها باق على ما أنزل عليه والتبديل في يسير منها جدا وممن اختار هذا القول شيخنا في كتابه الجواب

Bassam Zawadi has said that Ibn Qayyim is partly in error here, since Razi allegedly did believe that the Torah was corrupted. I would respond by noting the following quotation:

"Razi then raises the following question: ‘It may be argued that latter statement contradicts the one before it. This is because it clearly indicates that he came to make lawful some of the things which were unlawful in the Torah. This would mean that his legislation was contrary to that of the Torah, which would contradict his saying, "I shall confirm the Torah which was before me."’ Razi, however, holds that ‘there is actually no contradiction between the two statements because confirming the Torah can only signify the belief that all that is in it is true and right. If, moreover, the second purpose [of Jesus’ apostleship] is not mentioned in the Torah, his making lawful some of the things which are unlawful in it would not contradict his having confirmed the Torah. Furthermore, since the Torah contains prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus, then neither his coming nor his law would be contrary to the Torah." (Mahmoud Ayoub, The Quran and Its Interpreters, Volume II, pg. 150)

Ibn Kathir made a similar statement:

"<'Isa, son of Maryam, confirming the Tawrah that had come before him,> meaning, he believed in it and ruled by it…<and confirmation of the Tawrah that had come before it,> meaning, he adhered to the Tawrah, except for the few instances that clarified the truth where the Children of Israel differed. Allah states in another Ayah that 'Isa said to the Children of Israel… <…and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you.>So the scholars say that the Injil abrogated some of the rulings of the Tawrah…" (Tafsir Ibn KathirVolume III, pgs. 193-194)

Jun 14, 2022

Ibn Abbas' View of the Bible


The following is a narration from Al-Bukhari:

"LV. The words of Allah Almighty, "It is indeed a Glorious Qur'an preserved on a Tablet" (85:21-22)

"By the Mount and an Inscribed Book" (52:1-2): Qatada said that "mastur" means "written". "Yasturun" (68:1) means "they inscribe", and the Umm al-Kitab (43:4) is the whole of the Qur'an and its source. [He said that] "ma talfizu" (50:18) means: "He does not say anything but that it is written against him." Ibn 'Abbas said, "Both good and evil are recorded," and "yuharrufuna" (4:46) means "they remove". No one removes the works of one of the Books of Allah Almighty, but they twist them, interpreting them improperly. "Dirasatihim: (6:156) means "their recitation" "Wa'iya" (69:12) is preserving, "ta'iha" (69:12) means to "preserve it". "This Qur'an has been revealed to me by inspiration that I may warn you," means the people of Makka, "and all whom it reaches"(6:19) means this Qur'an, so he is its warner." (http://bewley.virtualave.net/bukhari52.html)

The fact that Imam Bukhari alone narrates this tradition ought to push Muslims to pay heed to this narration, especially since Sahih al-Bukhari is held in extremely high regard within the Muslim world:

"It has been unanimously agreed that Imam Bukhari's work is the most authentic of all the other works in Hadith literature put together. The authenticity of Al-Bukhari's work is such that the religious learned scholars of Islam said concerning him: "The most authentic book after the Book of Allah (i.e., Al-Qur'an) is Sahih Al-Bukhari." …Before he recorded each Hadith he would make ablution and offer two Rak’at prayer and supplicate his Lord (Allah). Many religious scholars of Islam tried to find fault in the great remarkable collection- Sahih Al-Bukhari, but without success. It is for this reason, they unanimously agreed that the most authentic book after the Book of Allah is Sahih Al-Bukhari. (Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Islamic University, Al-Madina Al-Munawwara, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; compilation: Al-Imam Zain-ud-Din Ahmad bin Abdul-Lateef Az-Zubaidi [Maktaba Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, 1994], pp. 18-19; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir also writes about this tradition:

Mujahid, Ash-Sha’bi, Al-Hassan, Qatadah and Ar-Rabi' bin Anas said that, <who distort the Book with their tongues.> means, "They alter (Allah’s Words)." Al-Bukhari reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that the Ayah means they alter and add although none among Allah’s creation can remove the words of Allah from his books, they alter and distort their apparent meanings. Wahb bin Munabbih said, "The Tawrah and Injil remain as Allah revealed them, and no letter in them was removed. However, the people misguide others by addition and false interpretation, relying on books that they wrote themselves." Then, <they say: "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah;> As for Allah’s books, they are still preserved and cannot be changed. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement. However, if Wahb meant the books that are currently in the hands of the People of the Book, then we should state that there is no doubt that they altered, distorted, added to and deleted from them. For instance, the Arabic versions of these books contain tremendous error, many additions and deletions and enormous misinterpretation. Those who rendered these translations have incorrect comprehension in most, rather, all of these translations. If Wahb meant the Books of Allah that He has with Him, then indeed, these Books are preserved and were never changed" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 2, pg. 196)

"The Andalusian interpreter Ibn ‘Atiyya stated that Tahrif means "to change or transfer something from its original character to another" and that Ibn ‘Abbas held that the Jewish (and possibly the Christian, by implication) corruption and change was to be found in exegesis, the letter of the Torah surviving intact, although a second school of scholars maintained that the letters themselves had been changed on the basis that although the Jews had been asked to safeguard the Torah, unlike the Qur’an it was not safeguarded by God Himself." (Muhammad Abu Laylah, The Quran and the Gospels: A Comparative Study, pgs. 145-146)

However, there is another hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari which seems to say that Ibn Abbas viewed the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as inauthentic:

"Narrated Ubaidullah bin Abdullah bin Utba: Ibn Abbas said, "O Muslims? How do you ask the people of the Scriptures, though your Book (i.e. the Quran) which was revealed to His Prophet is the most recent information from Allah and you recite it, the Book that has not been distorted? Allah has revealed to you that the people of the scriptures have changed with their own hands what was revealed to them and they have said (as regards their changed Scriptures): This is from Allah, in order to get some worldly benefit thereby." Ibn Abbas added: "Isn’t the knowledge revealed to you sufficient to prevent you from asking them? By Allah I have never seen any one of them asking (Muslims) about what has been revealed to you." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 850) 

Imam Bukhari does at times narrate contradictory ahadith, this being a prominent example. So, how do we solve this?
It should be noted that in the above narration where Ibn Abbas says that Jews and Christians did corrupt their Scriptures, he seems to be alluding to Surah 2:79 at one point. We have demonstrated in a previous article (in agreement with classical scholars of Islam, such as Ibn Kathir and Al-Zamakhshari) that this verse is not speaking of Jews and Christian on a wholistic scale, but rather of individual groups within them. If that is true, then it most likely the case that Ibn Abbas has a similar mentality in the above hadith that our Muslim friends cite against us. 

The Doctrine of Effectual Calling (Notes on Systematic Theology)

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