The politically incorrect article I wrote last week on a Thomistic response to the Islamic Refugee Crisis is approaching 100,000 views and 20,000 shares on Facebook and some 300 comments – many of which debate the “nature of Islam.”
I wanted to continue this discussion in a sequel article about the relationship of Islam with Christian theology. You’ll find this sequel in the post below:
The question is really about whether Islam is a “Christian heresy” or a whether Islam is a “world religion.”
The English word “heresy” derives from the Greek word αἵρεσις (hairesis) meaning “choice” or “a thing chosen.” (It’s the original “pro-choice” position.) Saint Paul uses the word in Titus 3:10 to describes “heretics” – those that pick and choose their own beliefs instead of following the beliefs taught by the Apostles:
- heresy = I choose my own personal beliefs just as I choose my meal at Luby’s
- orthodoxy = I receive the Apostolic beliefs passed down through papally ratified Councils, Scripture, and Tradition (orthos in Greek means “right or straight”; eg. orthodontics means “straight teeth” and orthodox means “straight belief.”
Heresy is not a slur or pejorative term. It simply describes a method of religion.
An Analogy from Legos
Let’s say you purchased the Lego edition of the Star Wars’ Death Star. It comes with a box full of plastic pieces and a paper set of instructions. If you follow the directions and follow the instructions correctly or “straight” then you have an orthos situation and having something that looks like this:
But if you buy this box of Legos and personally choose how you yourself want to assemble it, you’ve created your own reality and arrange the pieces however you want to create any pattern that you like. For example, this Lego pattern:
In the first example, the Lego pieces were arranged according to the creator’s instruction. In the second example, the Lego pieces were arranged in accord to the person’s “choice” or “hairesis.”
Legos and Islam
When it comes to Islam, we must ask whether Islam is a religion totally distinct from apostolic Christianity (like Hinduism or Jainism or Aztec paganism) or whether it is a “rearrangement” of historic Christianity (like Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses).
The History of Muhammad
If you haven’t listened to my free audio talk on “Is Muhammad Evil? (audio)” please take a listen. It will give you a short biography of Muhammad and show how he fell under demonic influence.
You will learn that the ancient Arabs were generally polytheistic pagans. They worshipped a variety of deities, as did the ancient Greeks and Romans. However, Muhammad belonged to a social circle that was composed heretical Christians as we will discuss below.
Islam as a Heresy Stealing from Christian Ideas
The great Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc (d. 16 July 1953) foretold the future rise of Islam in his book The Great Christian Heresies (a book that every member of the New Saint Thomas Institute should read).
Hilaire Belloc wrote, “[Islam] began as a heresy, not as a new religion….It was a perversion of the Christian religion…an adaptation and a misuse of the Christian thing.” Belloc is following Saint Thomas Aquinas, Dante, and Saint John of Damascus who describe Islam not as a new religion but as a corruption of Christian ideas, notably a pre-existing Christian heresy of Nestorianism.
Was Muhammad modifying the Christian Heresy of Nestorianism?
The Islamic sources reveal a heretical Christian monk having an influence on the young Muhammad. Moreover, Muhammad’s first wife Khadija belonged to a heretical Christian sect since she was familiar with the God of Abraham, Jesus, Mary, and the angel Gabriel. Khadija once consulted a monk about Muhammad and the monk was named Nestora. Given the time period and geography and name, we are likely dealing with Nestorian branch of heretical Christians having influence over Khadija and her husband Muhammad.
Nestorianism was a heresy that denied that the baby Jesus born of the Virgin Mary was the Divine Son of God. Rather, the heretic Nestorius taught that the historical Jesus Christ was a combination of two persons: the Son of God (one divine person) and the historical and human Jesus son of Mary (one human person). Catholic orthodox teaches that Jesus Christ is one Divine Person with a Divine Nature and a Human Nature united but not confused or commingled.
Here are a few teachings of Muhammad that cribbed from Christianity:
- Muhammad taught that God chose Abraham (although Muhammad taught that God’s promise went through Hagar and Ishmael and not Sarah and Isaac – hence the term Sara-cenes).
- Muhammad taught that Jesus was born of a Virgin (although Muhammad denied that God was His Father).
- Muhammad taught that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah (although he denied that Jesus was the Savior and Son of God).
- Muhammad taught that Mary the Mother of Jesus was sinless.
- Muhammad taught that Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel are important angelic messengers (Muhammad claimed to speak with Saint Gabriel).
- Muhammad taught that there is Heaven and Hell.
- Muhammad taught that there will be a resurrection of the body as Christians recite in the Creeds.
- Muhammad taught that a Creator created the universe out of nothing (as Jews and Christians believe).
- Muhammad taught the importance of Christian customs such as fasting, regularly prayer, almsgiving, and pilgrimage.
So the “Lego pieces” being used in Muhammad’s religion are those of Christianity. But he re-organizes these pieces to create a religion in his own image.
Here are some those heretical errors:
- Muhammad taught that Jesus Christ is not divine.
- Muhammad taught that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God.
- Muhammad taught that the Trinity was “the Father and the Son and the Virgin Mary.” He didn’t properly understand the Christian teaching on the Trinity.
- Muhammad taught that there was no such thing as a Trinity of Divine Persons as Christians profess.
- Muhammad taught that there are no sacraments (eg, no baptism, Eucharist) but only a profession of faith (shahada).
- Muhammad taught that lying is allowed. It’s the al-Taqiyya deception. Muhammad said that Muslims can lie to non-Muslims. So when a Muslim tells you “I am peaceful and I don’t approve of terrorism – we can never be 100% ceratain about whether they are being honest with us, because the Quran explicitly gives them permission to lie to non-Muslism.” Mohammed also gave permission for a follower to lie in order to murder a Jewish poet who had offended Mohammed. [Are you learning from this post? If so share it on Facebook by clicking here.]
- Mohammad taught that Jesus did not die on the cross and therefore denied salvation through the cross of Christ. Surah 4:157-158 says: “they [the Jews] said, ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’ – But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself.”
- Mohammad denied that marraige is monogamous or sacramental.
- Mohammad denied the existence of a “Church” and instead had the “State” stand in as the organizing principle, hence the imperative for Sharia Law.
Muhammad is painting with Christian colors, but omitting and reorganizing the structure and form of religion. He’s taking Nestorianism (false belief that Jesus son of Mary is not a Divine Person) and taking it to the heretical next level.
Why Does This Matter? “Islam as Heresy”
If we perceive Islam as a Christian heresy, it helps Christians better understand and address Islam. Muslims are not baptized and do not have faith in Christ as Savior. Hence, they are not Christians. They are certainly not “brothers and sisters in Christ.”
However, they do profess that Jesus is the “Jewish Messiah” (though non-saving Messiah), and the sinless son of Mary.
This matters because we are dealing a demographic of people with a severely “malformed conscience.” We know from Saint Thomas Aquinas and from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that all humans are called to form their conscience in accord with reason, natural law, and divine revelation. Islam leads human adherents to a conscience formed incorrectly.
So the Christian answer is most certainly not: “Just be a good Muslim. Follow your conscience.”
The Christian answer is, “Let’s reform consciences in conformity to natural law (eg, lying is always sinful and polygamy is contrary to nature).”
Even better, the Christian answer is, “Let us tell you the good news of Jesus Christ who is Son of God, Savior, and Divine Mercy. He will lead you to know God as Father.”
Our Goal as Christians:
Our goal as Christians is to remove all error from the earth and lead people to God Who is Truth Incarnate. Our goal is to see all peoples saved and every human person receiving the joy of the Holy Eucharist. This includes Muslims. So we must form consciences properly and evangelize every human heart.
If you want to learn how to do this better, the New Saint Thomas Institute is currently offer a special Catholic Apologetics training module on “How to Share Your Faith to Jewish Friends and Muslim Friends.” It’s available to all of our Basic and Premium Member students:
If you’re not yet a student Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute, you can watch the video series and quizzes here. If you want to join and get start learning how to share the Catholic Faith with Jewish and Muslim friends, click here.
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