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Was Christ really Crucified?


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It is not the purpose of this study to kindle any flame of rancour or anger between Christians and Muslims in a world already polluted with fury, hatred, segregation, prejudice, racial conflict, violence and fanaticism. Our main intention is to examine a complicated issue: the crucifixion of Christ. We believe that this event is the central issue of dispute between the two faiths. In the light of the historical, religious and other logical data available to us, we will endeavour to focus objectively on the Biblical record to expose the divine truth as revealed to us in the Gospels. We would also like to help remove the cloud of doubt and rejection that has shrouded the minds of our friends, the Muslims. We will appeal primarily to reason, but we hope also to provide an effective tool that will nurture and deepen the faith and hope of Christian believers.

No doubt, the cross is the core of the Christian faith. The Bible clearly indicates that the eternal destiny of man depends totally on the atoning death of Christ on the cross.

This is what Christianity teaches.

This is what Christians believe.

Islam rejects the whole concept of the cross. Muslims allege that it is against reason to claim that God, the Omnipotent, would not forgive man's sins without the cross. To say so is to limit God's power. When repentance, they say, is combined with God's mercy and forgiveness, it becomes sufficient to award the penitent all the pleasures of the paradise promised in the Quran.

The contrast between the two perspectives is similar to the contrast between East and West. A Christian who believes in Christ as the Son of God, and in His atoning death, finds the sure guarantee of eternal life in the cross. God has embodied His love, grace, mercy and justice on the cross. The source of this certainty is Christ's promises. Jesus said, ``Whosoever believeth in me...has everlasting life.'' (John 3:16, NKJ) A Christian can rest well-assured that he has indeed been granted eternal life on the basis of Jesus' promises. Such phrases as ``if God wills'' or ``that depends on God's mercy'' cannot be part of that assurance. These phrases fail to provide any sense of security in the life of any believer, because he would lack the certainty he needs for a fruitful, solid faith. This does not mean that a person can indulge in sin believing that the death of Christ has secured for him the pardon of his transgressions in advance. Anyone who seeks everlasting life has to live a Christ-like life to meet the moral demands of the Christian faith. A person whose life does not attest to the new creation in him may still be under the condemnation of God's wrath.

Salvation in Islam is based on a continuous effort to obtain God's favour, which would be bestowed in the form of blessings, joys, and the pleasures of paradise, if He wills. This requires constant exertion in the hope of pleasing God. A Muslim can never be sure that he really has pleased God and secured His approval.

Good deeds in Islam are an exigency for obtaining God's reward, while good works in Christianity are the fruit of love and faith. To Christians, good works are not a means of earning some present or future reward. Everlasting life has already been guaranteed by the merit of the redemptive act of Christ on the cross. It embraces whoever believes in Him as Lord, Redeemer and Saviour. This is an inescapable condition. When this condition of faith is met, Christian life bears fruit --- that is, good works --- naturally. There is no need to strive to be good because you are already a new creature, a new person. But there is a great need to grow in faith and to broaden your Christian spiritual influence as a good witness to Christ.

A rose fills the air with its scent naturally. It does not strive to do so. It is its nature to produce sweet aroma; but the entire bush has to grow in order to continue to yield more beautiful roses. Likewise it is the Christian nature to bear good fruit as the natural expression of the new life of the true Christian, and not to obtain some reward or to secure everlasting life (which already has been secured through the blood of Jesus Christ).

In this study we will employ all the available historical documents and recognised references to establish the reality of the crucifixion as an historical event that took place almost 2,000 years ago, and the fact that the crucified one was none other than Jesus Christ Himself. We believe that all other claims are invalid and contradict the historical evidence.

It is our fervent desire that our Muslim friends would read this book with an open mind, heart and spirit, since the motive behind the writing is to make known the truth of the cross as an historical and spiritual event. We do not ask them to agree with us, but rather, we hope to stimulate in them the interest to investigate the veracity or fallacy of Christian belief. Had the founder of Islam been resigned to accept the religion of his ancestors without questioning its authenticity he would have been content to worship the idols of Mecca instead of the god of the Quran. Therefore, we invite our Muslim friends to scrutinise this brief study thoroughly before they resolve to deny or to accept the authenticity of the cross.

Reasons for the Crucifixion

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The redemptive act of Jesus Christ on the cross for the salvation of the human race is an essential tenet of the Christian faith. It was neither planned nor implemented by people, but has been carried out by God Himself. Therefore man cannot claim any credit for it.

Since the inception of Islam in the seventh century A.D., the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection have been disputed issues between Muslims and Christians. Muslims deny that Jesus was crucified, or even that He died a natural death (although

some of their scholars are inclined to say that Jesus suffered a natural death and then God raised Him up to heaven). On the other hand, Christians maintain that Jesus was crucified for the salvation of mankind. Both sides quote their own holy scripture to prove their point of view, implying their disbelief of the other's scripture.

Muslim denial of the crucifixion of Christ aims at negating the whole concept of atonement, or even the need for a saviour. To them salvation could be achieved without shedding blood, that is, without the atoning act that took its final and eternal form on the cross in the person of Christ. In one reference to the crucifixion, the Bible says:

...without shedding of blood there is no remission

(Hebrews 9:22, NKJ)

This is the very thing all Muslims strongly denounce. Muslims believe that both repentance and good deeds are sufficient to save people from their iniquities because forgiveness always depends on God's mercy and his will. Muslims also do not believe that there is a need for an intercessor between man and God. They claim that man is born innocent. He deviates from the straight path, not because of his inherited fallen nature, but because of his weakness and deficiency. I would like to point out a brief study of The Fallen Nature of Man in Islam and Christianity, in which the author convincingly refutes these claims, citing both Islamic and Christian sources.

The reasons Christians firmly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected on the third day are presented briefly within the context of this study.

Logical Reasons for the Crucifixion

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In their absolute denial of the death of Christ, Muslims rely on one verse in the Quran, Sura al-Nisa 4:156--157:

...and for their saying (in boast), ``We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God" --- yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty --- no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is All-mighty, All-wise.

On the basis of this solitary verse which denies the death of Christ (though this verse is subject to various contradictory interpretations), Muslims assert that the crucifixion of Jesus did not take place and that the story of Christ's death and resurrection is the innovation of the early Christians. Such a charge prompts us to call attention to the following:

Judge for Yourself

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First, assume that you are a judge and a case similar to the case of Christ's crucifixion is presented to you. How would you react to such a case when it is corroborated by various authentic historical documents and actual texts of the trial? What would you say if these documents included dialogue that took place between Christ and Pilate, the Roman governor; details of the debate between Jesus and the Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin; the testimonies of the eye witnesses; the list of names of those who were present during the trial; and an account of the events that occurred before, during and after the crucifixion? How would you respond to someone who comes along after six centuries and by one uncorroborated statement claims that the death of Jesus has

never happened and all that is recorded in the Gospel accounts about this story is the product of the imaginations of the early church fathers? Would you as a just judge accept his testimony against all the other proven facts? Some may claim that the above verse was revealed to Muhammad by God and that God does not lie. If this is so, then it is the claimant's duty to prove conclusively that it is inspired by God.

We are here confronted by two facts. First, we have two books, the Quran and the Bible, and each one of them is regarded by its followers as a revelation from God. Apparently this cannot be true because they contradict each other in some of their most basic doctrines. This being the case, one of them must have come from a source other than God. It is of no avail to charge that the People of the Book, as Islam calls the Jews and the Christians, have perverted the Bible because all objective studies --not studies based on speculation or imagination --- have proven the authenticity of the Bible as we currently have it.

The second fact is that historical documents corroborate the Gospel text, while no historical evidence is available to attest to the veracity of the Quranic text concerning the crucifixion of Jesus. When history confirms the Biblical text but not the Quranic text, then the advantage is with the Bible and not with the Quran.

In addition, Christians believe that their Book is inspired by God. Thus, every text is divinely revealed. When the text is supported by dozens of prophecies which have been fulfilled literally in the person of Christ, and Christ Himself quoted them and applied them to his person, then the Christian claim has the greater weight. It becomes incumbent on the Muslim to refute and disprove the authenticity of these historical, archaeological and Biblical facts. To do so he has to present stronger and more conclusive proof to outweigh the Christian evidence.

Die for a Lie?

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Second, if the death of Christ was just an ancient myth, would all Jesus' disciples, with the exception of John, have sacrificed their lives for it? The Quran itself testifies to the faithfulness, goodness and devoutness of the disciples, and calls them examples to be followed. Such people would not fabricate a tale about their Master. A man may sacrifice his life for a noble end or for a cause in which he believes, but no one would offer his life knowingly for a lie or a myth. It is especially difficult

to believe that God-fearing men like the disciples would die to promote a lie.


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Third, from Christ's resurrection and up to the last moment of their lives, the disciples continued to preach the Gospel of salvation. Most often, their preaching during the first period of their ministry was among the Jewish circles who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and knew the story of his resurrection. Despite that, not a single Jew or any of their religious leaders who conspired against Christ accused them of lying. Ten days after the Ascension of Christ the apostle Peter confronted a large crowd of Jews in Jerusalem and told them bluntly:

Him, being delivered by the predetermined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death; (Acts 2:23, NKJ)

On a similar occasion Peter declared to the Jews:

But you denied the Holy One and the Just...killed the Prince of Life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. (Acts 3:14--15, NKJ)

The New Testament is crowded with similar testimonies that bear witness to the death of Christ and His crucifixion at the hand of the Jews contemporary with the disciples. Had these charges been invalid, the Jews would have denied them and the disciples would not have sacrificed their lives for a lie or a myth.

Logical Evidence

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Fourth, there is also a quantity of other logical evidence that is difficult to ignore. One of the most compelling historical accounts is the human drama whose stages were the courts of the Sanhedrin, the praetorium of Pilate and the palace of Herod along

with the horrifying hill that is known in history as Golgotha. In his book Who Moved The Stone? the British author Frank Morrison examined the story of the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection with the critical mind of a skilled, experienced lawyer

who was determined to refute the Christian allegations. The outcome of his intensive study was unexpected and took Morrison by surprise. Instead of writing a refutation against the myth of the cross as he intended to do, he produced a document that slapped the face of the sceptic.

The documents available to us indicate that Jesus' trial lasted all night and part of the next day. It was not a secret trial, but a trial attended by the general public, the Jewish leaders and the members of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish authority in

Jesus' time. This fact creates an unresolved dilemma for the Muslims who allege that the crucified one was not really Jesus but another person, perhaps Judas Iscariot. This claim is erroneous, and lacks historical proof. It does not fit into the nature of the events. Could not the crucified substitute complain loudly and vigorously during his public trial that he was not Jesus? Actually the response of the defendant when He declared that He was the Son of God was sufficient to sentence Him to death. Is it reasonable that a substitute who was mistakenly arrested would ascribe to himself so grave a claim under such circumstances? All the historical documents at our disposal do not record any remonstrance, or semi-remonstrance expressed by the Shabih (the one who allegedly resembled Christ). I do not believe that Judas Iscariot --- if he was the crucified one as Muslims claim --- would not have seized such a golden opportunity to save himself from an atrocious death.

On the other hand, the Gospel records for us a sublime attitude that could not emanate from any person other than Christ. In His last hours while He was still nailed to the cross He forgave His killers and enemies with a heart full of love. This act cannot originate from the heart of a person like Judas Iscariot who betrayed his Lord and delivered Him to His enemies.

Furthermore, we should not ignore the role of Mary, Jesus' mother, and the rest of the women who accompanied her to the cross along with the beloved disciple, John. They were eye-witnesses to the crucifixion. Those devout, faithful followers of Christ attest to His actual death and crucifixion. Even more, John tells us that Jesus Christ, in spite of His excruciating pain, turned His face towards His mother and told her, ``Woman, behold your son.'' Then He turned His face to His faithful disciple and said, ``Behold, your mother!'' (John 19:25--27, NKJ). Was not Mary able to distinguish between her son's voice and the voice of an impostor, the Shabih?

There is also another important issue that Muslim commentators failed to resolve: the case of Jesus' body. Muslims claim that the Shabih resembled Jesus in his face only. His body was not subject to any change. They said, ``The face is the face of Jesus, but the body is not His [body].'' They made this statement in the context of their interpretation of Sura al-Nisa 4:157:

Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise;

If this statement is true, how then did Mary fail to recognise the difference between the body of her son and the body of the Shabih?

Moreover we have other tangible evidence that is hard for any objective researcher to overlook. In the context of the crucifixion story it is stated that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret believer in Jesus, were able to obtain official permission from the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to lay Jesus in a tomb that Joseph had prepared for himself. If the crucified one was the Shabih and not Jesus, how did these two men fail to distinguish between Jesus' body and the body of an impostor? Did Judas have, for instance, the same height, weight and skin colour of Jesus? Did he have the same hair and other visible characteristics of his holy Master? Actually Joseph's act was a fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah about

Jesus: ``his grave was assigned with wicked men, yet he was with a rich man in his death'' (Isaiah 53:9).

Six Ambiguities

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In his commentary on Sura Al Imran 3:55 al-Fakhr al-Razi summarises in six points the problems that resulted from the theory of the Shabih. These six points are of great importance since they are based on sound logic, insight and accurate observations. When he tried to refute them he presented some unconvincing answers that created additional problems for the readers.

In order to realise the significance of these problems, it is appropriate to quote them literally. That would help us to comprehend the complexities of the theory of the Shabih. It seems, however, that al-Razi was, indeed, convinced of their validity:

The First Ambiguity: If we allow the likeness of one person to be caste on another that would entail sophistry. For if I see my son (the first time), then I see him again, it becomes possible that the one I see for the second time is not my son but just an impersonation. That will eliminate the trust in the perceptible concrete things. Likewise, the Companions of Muhammad who saw him instructing and prohibiting them could not have been certain that he was the same Muhammad, because of the possibility that his likeness may have been caste on somebody else. This will entail the collapse of the laws. The pivotal theme in the chain of the oral narration is that the first narrator has related what is perceptible. If making an error in perceptible visual things is possible, then making an error in relating orally an incident is more probable. In summary, opening such a door is the beginning of sophistry and its end is the nullification of prophecies entirely.

The Second Ambiguity: God, the Most High, ordered Gabriel, peace be upon him, to accompany (Jesus) most of the time. This is what the expositors indicated as they interpreted his saying: ``As I upheld thee with the holy spirit.'' (Sura al-Maida 5:110) Also, the edge of one of Gabriel's wings was sufficient for taking care of mankind. How then was that not good enough to protect (Jesus) from the Jews? Furthermore, since (Jesus), peace be upon him, was capable of raising the dead, and of healing the blind and the leper, how did he fail to inflict those Jews who intended to hurt him, with death, or afflicting them with ailments, chronic illnesses, and paralysis, to render them incapable of confronting him?

The Third Ambiguity: God, the Most High, could have saved (Jesus) from his enemies by lifting him up to heaven. What then is the use of casting his likeness on somebody else? Would not this cause an unfortunate person to suffer death for no reason?

The Fourth Ambiguity: If he caste his likeness on another person and then was lifted up to heaven, people would think that the Shabih is Jesus when in fact he was not. That would make them a subject of deception and obscurity. This is incompatible with God's wisdom.

The Fifth Ambiguity: Multitudes of Christians in both Eastern and Western hemispheres, despite their extreme love to Christ, peace be upon him, and their excess exaltation of him, reported that they saw him slain and crucified. If we deny this, that would be a discrediting of what was verified by oral transmission. The discrediting of the oral transmission demands the discrediting of the prophethood of both Muhammad and Jesus and even the (denial) of their historicity and the historicity of the rest of the prophets. This is futile.

The Sixth Ambiguity: By virtue of the oral transmission, (we are told) that the crucified one survived a long time. If he were not Jesus but another person, he would have become frightened and said: ``I am not Jesus. I am another person.'' He would have made every effort to announce this fact. Had he mentioned that, it would have become well known among the people. Since none of this happened, we knew that the matter is not as you claimed.

Al-Razi's Responses

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After al-Razi stated the above ambiguities, he attempted to respond to them. However, his refutations proved to be brief and illogical. In order to maintain the same level of objectivity, an attempt will be made to quote these responses literally. This will help the reader to examine them and to form his own opinion. Al-Razi said:

The First Response: Anyone who believes in the only Omnipotent admits that God is able to create, for instance, another person in the image of Zayd. Such similarity does not necessitate the above uncertainty. This is the answer to what you mentioned.

The Second Response: If Gabriel, peace be upon him, defended (Jesus Christ) or if God enabled Jesus, peace be upon him, to repel his enemies, his miracle would have been achieved by force of constraint (had al-ilja). This is not admissible.

The Third Response: If God had lifted Jesus up and did not cast his likeness on another, that miracle would have been achieved by force of constraint (had al-ilja).

The Fourth Response: Jesus' disciples were present, and they were aware of the circumstances which surrounded the event. Thus, they would remove that ambiguity.

The Fifth Response: Those who were present at that time were few. It is possible for the few to be deluded. After all, when oral transmission is handed down to the few it would become useless for knowledge.

The Sixth Response: One probability is that the one who bore the likeness of Jesus, peace be upon him, was a Muslim (that is, a believer in him) and accepted to be his substitute. In this case it is possible that he would not disclose the truth of the matter. In short, the questions they mentioned are subject, from some aspects, to many probabilities. Since the irrefutable text attests to Muhammad's reliability in all that he reported, it would be impossible for these contingent questions to contradict the infallible text, and God is the possessor of guidance.

These have been the responses of the scholar sheikh, the orator of Rayy, al-Razi, to the most profound dogmatic issue disputed in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam. They are characterised by naivete and superficiality. It seems also that al-Razi realised, in advance, the unfeasibility of refuting them. Thus, his last conclusive and emphatic statement: ``Since the irrefutable text attests to Muhammad's reliability in all that he reported, it would be impossible for these contingent questions to contradict the infallible text.'' That was his only way to evade the truth.

In this case we cannot but reflect on al-Fakhr al-Razi's responses to dispel the dark shades of doubts by which he attempted to shroud the truth.

Our Response to al-Razi

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For his first response we agree that it is true that God is able to create as many people as he wishes to resemble each other. But in the case of Christ, there was no need to do so. Christ did not endeavour to avoid crucifixion. He came, in the first place, for the redemption of mankind. It is a task He elected to accomplish by His own will. If Christ really tried to evade crucifixion either through cowardice or apathy He would be evading a responsibility He took on Himself to fulfil. This is not a characteristic of the Christ who is the Word of God. In this case there was no need at all for God to perform the miracle of the Shabih.

Second, Christ never needed the Angel Gabriel to rescue Him from the hands of his enemies. Jesus was not defenceless. The miracles that He performed before His death were even more wonderful and far surpassed the alleged rescue operation. The facts recorded in the Gospel are examples of His unlimited power. When His enemies came to arrest Him, He threw them down to the ground by the powerful word of His mouth. He could have gone on His way safely. That was not the first time in which the Jews conspired against Him, but each time He slipped away from among them. None of them dared at that time to hurt Him. But when His appointed time came Jesus willingly delivered Himself to His foes to accomplish what He came for. Al-Razi and all those like him should have studied Christ's purpose for His incarnation. That would have helped them to perceive that forgiveness of sin through death on the cross was the main reason for Christ's incarnation and virgin birth.

Third, did God really need to cast Jesus' resemblance on anybody? Some claimed that the purpose of the resemblance story was to penalise Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed his Master. But the Gospel account presents us with all the facts about the suicide of the ignominious Judas. Besides, why should refraining from casting the likeness of Jesus on the Shabih be regarded as a forced constraint? Lifting Jesus up to heaven before the eyes of the Jews would dispel any doubt that surrounded the person of Jesus

Christ. Both the religious and political Jewish leadership would realise then what a grave error they had perpetrated against the Word of God.

Fourth, it is true that Jesus's disciples and some of His followers were present in that horrible night and witnessed what happened to their Master. Thus by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they accurately recorded the details of the crucifixion on the pages of the Gospel accounts. The Gospel's narration, corroborated by tangible references and documents, disagrees with the Quranic text, the various stories of the Islamic Tradition and the many fantasies of the Muslim expositors. The Gospel has preserved for us even the minute details of this important event.

Fifth, al-Razi contradicts himself as he states in his fourth response: ``Jesus' disciples were present, and they were aware of the circumstances which surrounded the event. Thus, they would remove that ambiguity.'' Now he claims that the disciples were few and ``it is possible for the few to be deluded. After all, when oral transmission is handed down to the few it would become useless for knowledge.'' What a contradiction! When al-Fakhr al-Razi realised that quoting the disciples would serve his purpose he resorted to them as eye-witnesses who could dispel the ambiguity. Then suddenly those eye-witnesses become subject to the influence of the illusion. The fact is, if we examine the chain of authorities for any sound Islamic Tradition we rarely find any tradition supported by a chain of twelve authorities at one time. Actually those who witnessed the event of the crucifixion and those to whom Christ appeared after His resurrection and gathered together to watch Him ascending to heaven were more than 500 persons. Therefore the disciples' record of the crucifixion is no doubt authentic.

Sixth, according to the contrasting Islamic episodes, with one or two exceptions, the Shabih was never a believer in Christ. Most Muslim expositors are inclined to believe that the Shabih was one of Jesus' enemies. Thus it is unlikely that he would resort to silence and would not vigorously shout that he was not Christ, or ``that he would not disclose the truth of the matter in that case.'' A person who is erroneously accused and whose life is at stake would do everything possible to save himself unless he is dying for a noble cause. Also if al-Razi utilises the truthfulness of Muhammad in all that he reported in support of the Islamic version of the crucifixion story, we also resort to the credibility of Christ and His disciples for all the information found in our infallible Gospel. Besides, one verse uttered six centuries later in the Quran cannot discredit the authentic historical documents available to us.

Muslim scholars also disagreed on the identity of the Shabih. Muslim narrators have related many imaginary stories to us, and they have been quoted by many Muslims expositors without any inquiry into their validity. These are not based on any historical document, archaeological proof or authentic text. No Muslim was able to provide any concrete evidence to prove the veracity of any of these fantasies concerning the Shabih. In his booklet The Cross in The Gospel and The Quran, Iskander Jadeed was able to collect most of these stories from their original sources. They contradict each other in details such as names, the order of events and occasions. That is not surprising since they are based on sources fabricated by the narrators' imagination as they attempt to comment on an inexplicable verse or to prove a case incongruous with the Gospel's account at the expense of the truth.

The historical resources inform us that the myth of the resemblance as indicated in the Quran is not a novelty. During the first six centuries and before the inception of Islam, this false teaching was widespread among Christian heretics. Basilides, the Gnostic, claimed that Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross for Christ when He became weary, consented to be crucified in His stead, thus God cast on him the likeness of Christ and he was crucified.

The Docetists said that Jesus was not crucified at all but that it seemed or appeared so to the Jews. Actually the word Docetic is derived from a Greek verb that means ``to seem'' or ``to appear''. It sums up their general doctrine on the crucifixion.

Throughout the course of church history the heresy of the Shabih has never disappeared. From time to time it reappeared among the Christian communities in the East, preached by scattered groups of heretics. In the year A.D. 185 a heretic sect of the descendant of the priests of Thebes who embraced Christianity claimed that ``God forbids that Christ should be crucified. He was safely lifted up to heaven.'' Also in the year A.D. 370 a hermetic Gnostic sect that denied the crucifixion of Jesus taught that He ``was not crucified but it seemed so to the spectators who crucified Him.'' Again, in the year A.D. 520 Severus, bishop of Syria, fled to Alexandria where he encountered a group of philosophers teaching that Jesus Christ was not crucified but that it only appeared so to the people who nailed Him on the cross. In A.D. 560 the monk Theodor denied Christ's human nature and thus denied His crucifixion. About A.D. 610 Bishop John, son of the governor of Cyprus, began to proclaim that Christ was not crucified but that it only seemed so to the spectators who crucified Him.

Among those who preached the theory of the Shabih is the Persian self-proclaimed prophet Mani (A.D. 276). He said that Jesus was the son of a widow, and the one who was crucified was the son of the widow of Nain whom Jesus raised from the dead. In another Manichaean tradition we read that Satan was the one who sought to crucify Jesus but he failed and was crucified in His place.

It is obvious from this brief historical summary that Islam has adopted the teachings of the Shabih and the denial of Jesus' crucifixion from the Christian heresies. We believe that these heresies were widespread among the Gnostic sects in the Arabian Peninsula during the era of Muhammad. History books and bibliographies inform us that the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 380) commissioned Bishop Gregory of Nyssa ``to visit churches in Arabia and Jerusalem where disturbances had broken out and schism threatened.'' These sects did not construct their beliefs on historical evidence or official documents but followed their own conceptions and imaginations and focused primarily on the nature of Christ's human body.

God's Treachery

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Fifth, if we assume, for the sake of argument only, that the story of the Shabih is true, then we would be attributing perfidy and trickery to God. Accordingly the disciples who preached fervently about Christ's crucifixion and resurrection would have been, in fact, preaching about the death and the resurrection of the Shabih. That would mean that the church, which followed the footsteps of the disciples, would have also been deluded for over six centuries---until the inception of Islam. In this case, who would be blamed? Who would have been the source of this perfidy? Why would the almighty God not reveal the truth to the disciples of His prophet and messenger but instead keep them in complete darkness? Why would God allow the church to believe in such a grave lie for six centuries? Who would be responsible for the millions of souls who went astray and believed in a lie? It would seem that God was in the centre of this confusion. He would be the one who created the heresy of the crucifixion and made everyone believe that Jesus was the one who was crucified. In this case God would not be better than the gods of Greek mythology who enjoyed deceiving each other and their own worshippers as well. But we know that we cannot attribute any of these detestable characteristics to God. He is a holy God who will never contradict His holy divine nature and act fraudulently.

The Resurrection: the Power of the Church

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Lastly, the resurrection has become the focal point of the Christian faith. The resurrection was not an ordinary event that left no mark on the history of the church and its development. On the contrary, the resurrection is the secret of the constant power of the church and its growth. If the crucifixion is the essence of salvation, the resurrection is the secret of the church's triumph and victory. The crucifixion without the resurrection is insignificant; the resurrection without the crucifixion is meaningless.

But the resurrection also attests to the reality of Christ's death. After His resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples and hundreds of His loyal followers assuring them that He was indeed crucified and then raised from the dead. For the last 40 days of His earthly life, He continued to explain to them the meaning of that spiritual and historical event and its impact on humanity. Maybe the most remarkable incident we can cite in this respect is the reaction of the apostle Thomas, who was famous for his realistic approach and suspicious mind. He refused to believe what other disciples told him about the appearance of Jesus. It seems that he thought that the disciples who were mourning the death of their Master had lost their minds. Therefore he challenged them saying:

...Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. (John 20:25, NKJ)

Eight days later the disciples were together again. Though the doors were shut for the fear of the Jews, Jesus appeared to them and stood in their midst. After greeting them, he said to Thomas:

Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. (John 20:27, NKJ)

This passage reveals that the incident of Jesus' crucifixion has been subjected to a very careful scrutiny and investigation even by the most loyal friends of Christ, His disciples. It is not acceptable, therefore, to disregard the Biblical text and claim without any solid evidence that the story of the crucifixion of Christ is the invention of the early Christians. Needless to say, the historical credentials are in favour of the Gospel's account.

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