Looking at this question we need to go to the very beginning of creation, to the creation of man. I would like to use the word “benevolence” in describing God’s divine plan for creation and how God directs and calls us to Him and how we, His creation, respond to Him.
Benevolence is something good which always comes from God, who is the source of all that is good. It can be of a physical/temporal nature or of a spiritual/mystical nature. God’s very first benevolence is known in Genesis: In the beginning God created Adam and Eve in His image.
God’s existence did not depend upon this; He did not need this to make Himself greater. God brought man into creation out of divine benevolence and a desire to share His divinity. Man would not become divine, but he would certainly share in divinity in a mystical yet very real manner. Man would have a soul, the reflection of divinity, and not merely a reflection, but an actual participation in it.
The fall of Adam and Eve caused a rupture in this divine gift. They succumbed to temptation and as Lucifer defiantly declared to God, “Non serviam”, “I will not serve,” so did Adam and Eve. The First Benevolence of God was rejected and corrupted by sin.
Because Divine Love knows no limits, God bestowed a Second Benevolence on man in the Covenant given to Abraham and Sarah. So great, so intense, so unlimited was God’s love for His creation, He would not allow Satan victory. Adam and Eve knew God. They knew he was the one true God, but sin compromised this knowledge and it was necessary for man to seek benevolence and forgiveness from God if mankind was to continue in God’s creation.
The Second Benevolence, the Covenant with Abraham, was a call to return to the Creator; a return to faithfulness, a return to the knowledge of the One True God, a turning away from “I will not serve”. The Divine Father who created man was calling him back to love and faithfulness.
Throughout the Old Testament we see this Covenant under attack by Satan, who was by no means pleased with the benevolence God showed to man. Satan was determined that he would do all within his power to continue to disrupt this Divine love.
Satan is not stupid. He knows he cannot defeat the Almighty God, but he knows that because man has a free will and is not coerced by God to love and serve Him, he can disrupt man’s relationship with God and even cause souls to turn from the Creator. The Hebrew scriptures are filled with such happenings.
Throughout the history of the Chosen People there are times of faithfulness to God and many moments of turning from Him.
Even the great Moses, who encountered God on Mount Sinai, could not always keep the Hebrews faithful to God. Satan would creep in and pull the chosen ones from God. But Moses persevered, knowing that the One True God would deliver His chosen people, His creation.
Many prophets were sent to guide the people of God. Sometimes they were rejected by the Hebrews because the words they spoke required them to do what was difficult, to reject the Evil One and return to God. It was always easier to follow evil. In the midst of this vacillating on the part of the Hebrews, Divine love brings about another benevolence.
The Third Benevolence is the promise of the Messiah. One Who would come to set the people free from sin, to return them to their God, to destroy the evil which made their bond with the Almighty sometimes difficult to maintain.
The great prophets told of this and the Hebrews awaited the coming of the Messiah. The Covenant was not dead, but rather was alive in this Third Benevolence; the Hebrews would be delivered as the chosen people.
All of these events demonstrate why the religion of the Hebrews was a true religion: It was revealed and recorded in Sacred Scripture which remains to this very day. God’s revelations in Sacred Scripture show us His favor not only to the Hebrews, but to all mankind.
What made the religion of the Hebrews a true religion was that it was revealed to them by God. They knew God as Creator and Father, the revelation they experienced through the prophets and patriarchs made their belief true and authentic because it was from God—not the thoughts or teachings of man, but from God who used His creation as instruments to reveal Himself to the chosen ones in Sacred Scripture.
The gifts (benevolences) from God that were revealed in Sacred Scripture were of Divine origin and addressed man in his weak sinfulness in order that man could remain in the Covenant made with Abraham. The great promise of the Covenant was that One would be sent to set free the chosen people of God.
Hebrews knew of the prophecy, but did not understand it. Jesus Christ was the gift of God and His promise of salvation, but unfortunately many did not accept Him or believe. This persistence in disbelief, to this very day, by the Jewish people, puts their religion in jeopardy.
They are a chosen people, but they persist in disbelief that the Messiah has come and will come again. Because of this, we cannot say they their religion remains a true religion because they reject the One of Whom Scripture speaks; the Messiah come from God.
They are respected as God’s once chosen people. They are considered our “Elder Brothers” in the faith. They do worship the One True God, but their faith is lacking, it is deficient, they are in grave error. Without Jesus Christ there is no true religion; there is no complete faith without Christ.
They failed to realize that in the Hebrew Scripture were many prophecies regarding Christ. Even Moses, in eastern scriptural tradition, is understood to be a prefiguring of the Messiah: Moses extending his arms to part the Red Sea, in a form of the cross, prefiguring the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.In the desert the Jews were in desperate need of water. Moses struck the rock with his staff, water poured forth. A prefiguring of the blood of Christ flowing from His side on the cross to give us life.
God gave the Hebrews examples of the coming of the Redeemer, but their hearts were not open to the prophetic messages in Old Testament scripture.
Jesus addressed the obstinate Jews, “Your ancestors longed to see what you see and hear what you hear, but they did not.” They closed their eyes and covered their ears.
It is sad and tragic when Christ is not embraced as the Divine Son of the Father. And this is why we pray for the Jewish people that they open their eyes to the revelation that the Messiah is in their midst. It is not necessary to continue to wander and seek the Messiah.
There is an Eastern greeting: “Christ is among us!” It is a constant reminder that fulfillment has come, that Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh Who fulfills and makes possible true worship of the one true God. God made His Divine Will known through the words of Isaiah who was instructed by God to make it known that the promise of redemption would be fulfilled. God does not renege on His word. The truth was revealed to the Hebrews, but the Divine Word has been rejected. Without the Divine Word, the Word made flesh, there is no true religion.
New Testament - Fulfillment
The very first words in St. Luke’s Gospel begin to open our eyes to the crescendo of God’s Benevolence. St. Luke records the words and events of the coming of the Word made flesh, beginning with the Annunciation to Mary. The angel sent by God to the Virgin with the words that God the most high would dwell within her. It was God’s benevolence continuing to be revealed to us in Scripture.
The public life of Christ was even more profound. Word after word, parable after parable, miracle after miracle all lead mankind to the knowledge of the One true God and the worship of Him.
The greatest moments and manifestation of the benevolence of God come to us in His offering of Himself for us. The institution of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Thursday), His Passion and Death (Good Friday), His Resurrection and Ascension and finally, the Descent of the Holy Ghost bring us to a fulfillment and understanding of the greatness of God’s promise.
The rejection of His promise result in deficient and even false religion. Without embracing these benevolences, gifts, revelations, there can be no true religion, no authentic faith. This is why, though the Hebrews may worship the one true God, their worship is lacking and deficient. It is not the true faith of God’s revelation.
When I hear of Islam as one of the three monotheistic religions, I begin to think of how contrary to God man can be. How much Satan can influence man to falsely believe he is doing something good and even accomplishing the will of God.There is nothing in the falsity of Islam that can be remotely valid because of two very grave flaws.
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One flaw is the lack of Divine Revelation. Unlike the Hebrews, who were given Divine revelation, Islam cannot even remotely make such a claim. There is no scriptural basis for Islam in New or Old Testament. Without the basis of Sacred Scripture nothing can be valid or true. Sacred Scripture is God revealing Himself to us. Without Sacred Scripture there is no revelation, no truth.
As deficient as Judaism is, because of the rejection of Christ, there is an authentic scriptural basis. God revealed Himself to man in the words of the Hebrew Scripture the Old Testament. The prophecies of fulfillment were contained in the Old Testament. The words of the Old Testament are directly fulfilled in the words and events surrounding the life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
The benevolences of which I speak all point to the one great fact that Jesus Christ is God! Not only is there a lack of revelation in Islam, a lack of sacred Scripture, but there is incredible contradiction to Christ.
Islam is filled with violence and hatred. In the fabricated Koran there are over one hundred references and instructions of violence toward those who do not believe. It is an assault on every person who will not acknowledge a perverse religion. Claims that it is a religion of peace cannot be substantiated because there is no holy scripture for them. The Koran is neither holy nor revealed by God. It is the fabrication of one who rejected the revealed Word of God in order to create a personal revelation not coming from God.
Just because one claims revelation, does not mean it is true. History is filled with false prophets and messiahs. Scripture speaks of magicians, charlatans. We have them to this very day.
There are claims of similarities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is nothing more than plagiarism and fabrication. There is absolutely no Scriptural basis for such alleged similarities. Claiming to worship the one true God does not make it true. Without Scriptural revelation there in no truth, no true religion without the Gospel.
Islam cannot possess the truth, first because it has no scriptural basis; no divine revelation, but also because Islam cannot embrace God as Father. This is the second great flaw of Islam. God as father is one thing which Jews and Christian embrace, but this is not the case in Islam.Islam can only see God as law, to be obeyed not out of love but out of decrees and fear. The Islamic mind and heart possess no knowledge of Covenant, Divine Love, benevolence. This is very much in contradiction to the God of Scripture. Man was created because of a Father’s love and we respond to His love, but Moslems cannot and do not speak of God in terms of Father and love for the Father.
For the Moslem, referring to God as Father, is to degrade Him. For the Christian, even the Jew, referring to God as Father is to acknowledge a relationship of which cannot be broken. Even if a person completely rejects the love and benevolence of God, God does not reject him, but constantly calls for a return to love and forgiveness. This does not exist in Islam. For them, God’s mercy is selective.
How can God reject the work of His hands? Scripture reveals to us how God is truly a Father:
Old Testament – Deuteronomy: “Is not your Father the one who created you?”
Psalm 2: “You are my son, today I have become your father”
Isaiah 63: “O Lord you are our father our redeemer from of old is your name”
New Testament – Matthew 6: “This is how you are to pray, Our father who are in heaven”
John 20: “I am returning to my father and your father, my God and your God”
Romans 8: “You receive the spirit of sonship and cry our ABBA FATHER”
The rejection of God as father, on the part of Islam is not merely doctrinal in nature. It is also relational. Both OT and NT demonstrate a paternal and filial relationship between God and man. This does not exist in Islam, because Mohammed had no relationship with God as loving, merciful, forgiving. Islam speaks of God as all merciful, but only for those who do his bidding, who serve him as a slave serves his master. Those outside the realm of the cult are rejected, persecuted and even killed in the name of this false god.
The god of Islam is not the true God, because the one true God created us out of love to serve him out of our love for Him, not out of our fear. A father loves his children, regardless of how many times they fail. There may be consequences or punishment, but more importantly there is always a welcoming, loving, forgiving embrace for the sincere heart; the prodigal son!
Examples from the Bible include the miracles of Christ; His healing, forgiveness of sins, and instruction to “Go and sin no more.” Most poignant of all was Christ’s silent submission to His passion and death, and the forgiveness of Christ to his executors, and the forgiveness shown to Dismas on the cross.
Whatever alleged good found in the Koran is false. It does not contain the Divine Source from which all good comes. It is a religion of plagiarism. A pick-and-choose of Judaism and Christianity which lacks Divine promise and redemption. It is truly outside the realm of true religion.
Vatican II made an attempt to show some similarities between Christianity and Islam. But it was a poor attempt which was not able to make any reference to Scripture, Tradition, church fathers, or previous church documents and teachings. Nostra Aetate and Lumen Gentium were poor attempts to give some validity to Islam or other non-Christian religions.
Alfred Guillaume, a scholar of Islamic teachings, attempted to show similarities between Christianity and Islam. But even he admitted, “One cannot refrain from saying that the Muslim doctrine of God is very far removed from the Christian thought because of the rejection of the Holy Trinity.”
Islam does not acknowledge God as father as do Christians and Jews. Muslims reject the fatherhood of God for all mankind and this is in direct contradiction to the very words of Christ in Scripture in which He refers to Himself and the father as ONE.
In the rejection of the fatherhood of God, the Sonship of Christ is also rejected. In doing so there is, without doubt, a very different god. They cannot worship the one true God because they do not know Him.
Nostra Aetate further confuses things by saying that even though Islam does not acknowledge Jesus as God, He is revered as a prophet. A prophet and the Son of God are two entirely different beings. A prophet is human, the Son of God is Divine—How can anyone think of the two as similar in any manner?
It is true that there is reference to Mary, but it is not at all in keeping with Christian belief, teaching and tradition. For the Muslim, Mary is a pleasant woman, but in no manner the Mother of God.
The Council in the document Dei Verbum, tells us that Scripture is the very voice, words and speech of God revealed by the Holy Ghost. This council document indicts Islam, yet there is a persistence to call it a true religion. Impossible.
All that is revealed in Christian Scripture regarding the Holy Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, Resurrection is absolutely rejected in Islam. Even references made by Islam regarding the Virgin Mary are totally detached from sacred scripture, both old and especially New Testament. It is like bizarre apocryphal events not found anywhere in Scripture or Tradition.
So incredible are the claims of Islam, that they will declare that the Sacred Scriptures of today are not the same as the original. They vigorously pursue ways of discrediting the sacred Scriptures, especially the NT.
We must keep in mind that the false book of the Koran did not appear until six centuries after the New Testament. Can there be a sudden reversal in the will of God? Did God suddenly come to His senses and make another revelation? Did God the Father (a concept rejected by Islam) suddenly nullify the prophecies of the OT regarding the Messiah? Did God the Father reject his own fatherhood?
Islam has no revelation because scriptural revelation ended with the death of St. John the Evangelist.
My friends, as good Catholics, we respond to those who hold to false religions with Christian charity. This is how we have been taught. But treating others with kindness does not in any way allow us to acknowledge truth in a false belief. The truth has been given to us for two thousand years, beginning with the very first benevolence from God and continuing to this very day.
God does not change, He is constant and true and He has promised to His Church the truth which is unchangeable regardless of the thoughts and words of men who seek to change or destroy the truth given us by the Almighty.
Scripture warns us of false prophets, false messiahs. Satan is a roaring lion who prowls in the night to destroy what God has established. Be watchful, be vigilant, be confident that what we believe is true and from God. Above all be comforted in knowing that in possessing the one true faith, we are not abandoned. The very words of Jesus Christ concerning His Church remain until the end of the age:
The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. There is One God, One Lord, One true Faith.
Blessed be God forever. ■
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