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Books Section > Ahmadiyyat in the Service of Islam by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib > The Crumbling of the Cross


Chapter 12:
The Crumbling of the Cross:



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This chapter might not have been written but for the fact that in a recent pamphlet attacking Ahmadiyyat and its Founder, it has been alleged that he, as the Promised Messiah which he claimed to be, did not 'break the Cross,' as prophesied for him by the Holy Prophet. And in support of this charge, certain figures were given to show that the number of Christians has gone up in Pakistan - the part of the world in which the Promised Messiah lived. We are glad that the non-Ahmadi maulvis [clerics] no longer insist on the wooden crosses of the Christians being broken - a charge seriously made, which the Promised Messiah had, therefore, to answer equally seriously, that if the wooden crosses had to be broken, Allah would have sent a carpenter and not a spiritual giant like the Promised Messiah. And how undesirable that such a task should be performed, even though by a carpenter, because it would achieve no purpose worthy of Islam, which respects the sentiments of other people. And each cross broken would have been replaced by many more at once. It is the Promised Messiah's victory that even his critics now interpret the Holy Prophet's prophecy about the Promised Messiah breaking the Cross to mean breaking the principles of Christianity (as a rejoinder to the Christian attempt to destroy Islam), as interpreted by the Promised Messiah himself.

But again his critics seem unable to grasp the point. The breaking of the Cross did not mean killing the Christians or reducing their numbers by some other means. We have no means of checking the figures given by the critics, but we who live in Pakistan, the country whose alleged figures are given, know for certain two vital facts:

(1) While before the advent of the Promised Messiah the Christian missionaries were converting by hundreds of thousands, Muslims from such classes as the aristocracy, the intelligentsia, the educated classes (barristers, lawyers, officers, and even some of the ‘ulama [religious scholars] and the highly respected sayyids or descendants of the Holy Prophet), now one does not hear of even one Muslim, least of all an educated Muslim, being converted to Christianity from any class of Muslim society.

(2) As a result of the Promised Messiah's crushing defeat of the Christian dogmas, its missionaries have now turned to the depressed classes (such as sweepers and others doing menial jobs) who were neglected by the Muslims, who should have taught Islam to them. It is these people who are swelling the numbers of the Christian converts. To these illiterate classes, the reasoning and the arguments with which the Promised Messiah crushed the Christian dogmas are unknown. These people are attracted by the worldly benefits such as education, medical aid and social service which the Christian missionaries provide for them. That has nothing to do with the merits of Christianity as a religion.

Anyway, the breaking of the Cross by the Promised Messiah meant, as he was at pains to explain, the breaking of the principles on which Christianity was based. And that function he performed to perfection. Take, for instance, the previous chapter of this book. If as proved therein, Jesus did not die on the cross, the Christian creed that he did die on the cross to atone for humanity's sins, went to hell for three days, was resurrected and then lifted bodily to heaven, comes crashing down. The Promised Messiah and the Ahmadis have proved what even some open-hearted Christians now believe, as shown in the last chapter, that Jesus lies buried in Kashmir. What is left of Christianity if the dogmas of Atonement, Resurrection and Ascension are disproved? We draw attention to Sir Norman Anderson's remark on page 1 of his book, The Evidence for the Resurrection, that if 'Christ be not risen then Christianity is a fraud, foisted on the world by a company of consummate liars or, at best, deluded simpletons.' By proving the death of Jesus Christ, not on the cross, but long after, and burial in Kashmir, Hazrat Mirza Sahib dealt a fatal blow to the Christian dogmas.

But that is not all. The Promised Messiah wrote books, made speeches, engaged in debates with the Christian missionaries in which all the tenets of Christianity such as Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the theory of Original Sin, Atonement, etc., were quashed. To carry the refutation of the Christian dogmas beyond his country, the Promised Messiah founded the monthly magazine The Review of Religions, which was edited by his choice disciple, Maulana Muhammad Ali, who later acquired world fame as the translator and commentator of the Holy Quran in the English language and author of the equally famous book The Religion of Islam, and many other lucid and inimitable books on the Holy Prophet, the early Caliphs, Hadith, etc. The articles which the Promised Messiah wrote, mostly exposing the fallaciousness of the Christian dogmas mentioned above, or answering Christian criticism against Islam, this able lieutenant translated into English, adding some of his own articles which gave early promise of his later greatness. This monthly magazine went all over the world and was sent particularly to Christian thinkers, such as Count Tolstoy of Russia, to quote only one of the hundreds of names.

Christian dogmas were in such a shambles at the hands of the Promised Messiah and his followers that secret instructions were given to the Christian missionaries not to engage in debate with the Ahmadis. The plucky missionaries went on with their meetings and lectures and house-to-house persuasions. But the moment an Ahmadi got up in an open meeting to question the Christian missionary, he guessed from the trend of the questioning that the questioner was an Ahmadi, and said, 'I am addressing the Muslims and not you.' Whereupon if the Ahmadi claimed to be a Muslim, or even the audience (realising that the Ahmadi had cornered the missionary, which their own maulvis could not) shouted that the Ahmadi was a 'Muslim brother,' the missionary produced from his bag the fatwa of the ‘ulama of Islam that the Mirza and his followers were kafirs (heretics)!

Having routed the Christian proselytisers in his own country, Hazrat Mirza Sahib carried the campaign even to the rest of the world through the Review of Religions, as already stated above. Another able lieutenant of Hazrat Mirza Sahib's, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, BA, LL.B., carried the victorious flag of Islam to England, the heart of the then biggest Christian empire in the world. The Woking Muslim Mission founded by him became the centre of attraction not only for the British people dissatisfied with Christianity, but also for the Muslim visitors from all over the world. Distinguished Britishers such as Lord Headley, Sir Archibald Buchanan-Hamilton and Lady Buchanan-Hamilton, Sir Marmaduke Pickthall (who later translated the Holy Quran into English at the instance of the Nizam of Hyderabad), and nearly 1000 others embraced Islam.

But much, much more than the above 1000 persons, other Christian thinkers were influenced by the monthly magazine issued from Woking, called The Islamic Review, which contained Hazrat Mirza Sahib's campaign against the Christian dogmas and in favour of Islam. No wonder that the book The Myth of God Incarnate has recently appeared from England itself. It has been called 'the most explosive book' on Christianity and has been written by seven high-standing Christian scholars and theologians, and, what is important is that they are teaching Christianity at the prominent universities of England including Oxford and Cambridge, so they will be turning out the future teachers and preachers of Christianity. One of them, Professor Wiles, was Chairman of the Church of England Doctrine Commission. Reuters flashed the following news about this revolutionary change in Christian thinking in the highest quarters. It appeared in the Pakistan Times, Lahore, on July 1, 1977:

'Divinity of Christ challenged - Seven eminent British Protestant theologians have launched a jointly written book challenging the long-held Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

'In The Myth of God Incarnate, the theologians say, Christ in his lifetime did not lay claim to divinity and was promoted to divine status through pagan and other influences surrounding the early years of the Christian faith.

'The theologians argue that Jesus was not God in human form, but a man 'approved by God,' for a special role in the divine purpose.

'They say the orthodox Christian conception of Jesus as God Incarnate, second person of the Holy Trinity living a human life, is a 'mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us.'

'The book is to be published by the Student Christian Movement which calls it one of the most explosive theological books published this decade.

'Among the authors are the Rev. Don Cupitt, a Dean of Emmanuel College at Cambridge, and Prof. Maurice Wiles of Oxford University.'

The Observer of London carried the same news on its front page on 26 June 1977, with two additional comments:

'The Dead Sea Scroll expert Dr. Geza Vermes, Director of the Oriental Institute, Oxford, comments: "It is fascinating to me that Christian scholars have reached this point. There is no reason to suppose that there was any deifying of Jesus in the New Testament."

'Canon Edwards [of the world-famous Westminster Abbey] said he agreed with much in the book, but he thought it "unconstructive."

No wonder, for the book is destructive of the Christian dogmas. A more categorical renunciation of the Christian dogmas appeared in the important Church Times of London, dated July 8, 1977, in a letter from the distinguished Professors of the Department of Theology and Religion, Southampton University (England), in which they said, inter alia:

'We believe that it is the duty of theologians, especially of those who teach at universities, to raise publicly questions about the principles of Christian faith, to justify those principles or to show them as false in accordance with the evidence and with sound reasoning.

'[We believe:]

(1) That there is no divine son, never has been and never could be.

(2) That the belief in Jesus as divine Son rests upon a false interpretation of the facts by the authors of the New Testament.

(3) That this belief belongs to 'myth,' or 'symbol,' is incapable of comprehension by 'modern man,' and should be abandoned.' 

And so on. The word 'false' has been italicised by us to show how modern Christian scholarship has passed the same verdict as the Holy Quran had 1400 years ago (18:4-5).

These, however, are Protestant scholars. Roman Catholicism, being the orthodox Church, was supposed to be immune to such an heretical turn of events. The Will of Allah, however, knows of no barriers to thwart it. The world-renowned weekly Time, dated May 24, 1976, had its cover announcing in bold letters 'US Catholicism - A Church Divided.' And on the cover too, the Cross was shown as split in two! The article itself, to highlight the disappearing faith in Roman Catholicism, opened with an elderly lady's remark, 'I hope to die soon so that I can die a Catholic.'

Describing Roman Catholicism as a former spiritual fortress guaranteeing the safety of the Christian faith, the article went on to say:

'That fortress has crumbled. Before the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the US Catholic Church had seemed, at least to outsiders, to be a monolith of faith, not only the Church's richest province but, arguably, its most pious. When the Council ended in 1965, American Catholicism had been swept by a turbulent new mood, a mood of opened windows, tumbled walls, broken chains. It became a painful experience for many, and over the next decade the casualties were heavy: nuns leaving their convents, priests their ministries, lay Catholics simply walking away from worship and belief.'

The article also quoted the following words of the interview given to the periodical US Catholic by Archbishop Joseph L. Bernadin, President of the US Bishops’ Conference:

'So many consider themselves good Catholics, even though their beliefs and practices seem to conflict with the official teachings in the church. This is almost a new concept of what it means to be a Catholic today.'

The article went on to say:

'Some 35,000 American nuns and 10,000 priests - even a brilliant bishop - left their ministries, and sometimes even the church, in a great exodus. Some of them left explicitly to marry, others out of disillusionment or loss of faith, still others because they believed they could serve God or humanity more effectively in the secular world.'

But that was the picture of Roman Catholicism in the US. It could be argued that the scientific and technological advancement of that country, and the riches that flowed in with it, had made the American Roman Catholics more secular in their outlook. The other stronghold of Roman Catholicism, in fact its birthplace, was Europe. But a recent article in the same world-renowned weekly, Time, reports signs of revolt against the Roman Catholic beliefs even in this stronghold of Catholicism. In its issue dated February 27, 1978, this universally read weekly has an article with the following heading in bold letters: 'New Debate Over Jesus' Divinity.' That article is long and we would therefore confine ourselves to a few extracts. 

Extract A

'The belief that Jesus Christ was both "true God and true man" has been the bedrock of Catholic orthodoxy for more than 15 centuries. Yet over the past decade some Roman Catholic theologians have been at odds with the church hierarchy about this dogma. They argue that orthodox theology is too static and abstract and has overemphasised Jesus' divinity to the point where he has been stripped of his full humanity. One of the most outspoken advocates of this school of thought is Priest-Theologian Hans Küng, 49, of the University of Tübingen, Germany. Küng, who has previously struggled with the Vatican on two other issues, has been accused by his country's bishops of disseminating dangerous views about Christ.

'This is not merely the conflict of one celebrity priest against the hierarchy, for Küng is part of an international group of theologians who are demanding that the Catholic Church take a bold new look at Christology (the theological interpretation of Christ). Influenced by liberal Protestants, these theologians are saying things about Christ's nature that only a few years ago would never have been uttered publicly by priests of good standing. Though these theologians still profess belief that Christ is divine, conservative opponents maintain that in the New Christology, Christ is not as divine as he used to be. At first the case was pressed in abstruse books of theology and all but inaccessible journals. Angry arguments were muffled behind closed clerical doors in The Netherlands, Germany and Rome. But in 1974 the debate became more general with the publication of Küng's Christ Sein (English edition: On Being a Christian; Doubleday; 1976), which quickly became Germany's best-selling religious book in a quarter century.

'In the book, Küng reinterpreted the dogmas that were hammered out by the church's early ecumenical councils to counter prevalent heresies that threatened to split the church. Those councils insisted that Jesus was really a man, not some sort of divine apparition.' 

Extract B

'Among Roman Catholic thinkers, the New Christology first appeared at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in l966, when the late Ansfried Hulsbosch, an Augustinian, issued a manifesto against the Council of Chalcedon. The Church, he wrote, should "no longer speak of a union of the divine and human nature in one pre-existent person." One of the Dutch movement's two leading figures has been his Nijmegen colleague, Jesuit Piet Schoonenberg. In his 1969 book, published in English as The Christ (Herder and Herder; 1971), Schoonenberg also discarded the "two natures" approach, speaking instead of "God's complete presence in the human person Jesus Christ." Canadian theologian Bernard J.F. Lonergan later said that Schoonenberg's book could lead to the logical (and heretical) conclusion that Jesus was "a man and only a man." The other important Dutch liberal is Dominican Edward Schillebeeckx, whose first volume on Christology will be published in English by Seabury later this year. The elliptical book describes Jesus as a human being who gradually grew closer to God.

'Some recent writings in France are even more venturesome. Jacques Pohier, a Dominican at the Institut Catholique in Paris, says that "at the limit, it is an absurdity to say that God makes himself into man. God cannot be anything other than God." Father Pierre-Marie Beaude of the Centre for Theological Studies in Caen thinks that early church leaders had to "murder their founding father Jesus" to develop into maturity, while Father Michael Pinchon, editor of the magazine Jesus, writes of his liberation from "idolatry" of Jesus, who "does not present himself as an end or an absolute."

'In Spain, Jose-Ramon Guerrero, Director of Catechetics at Madrid's Pastoral Institute and author of the 1976 book El Otro Jesus ("The Other Jesus"), told TIME that Jesus is "a man elected and sent by God, and has been constituted by God as the Son of God." At the Jesuit theological school in Barcelona, Jose Ignacio Gonzales Faus insists that during his earthly life, Jesus was not aware of being God, and displayed such human traits as doubt and ignorance.

'Similar points are made by a German-trained Basque, Jon Sobrino, who has written the most thorough study of Christ's nature based on Latin America's "liberation theology." The Maryknoll Fathers' Orbis Books will publish it in English in June as Christology at the Cross-Roads. Sobrino, a Jesuit and professor at the Universidad Jose Simeon Canas in El Salvador, says that Christians working for justice should realise that Jesus was mistaken in his social outlook because he expected the imminent appearance of the Kingdom of God. In fact, he thinks that Jesus had to undergo a "conversion" in his views of God.'

(Extracts end.)

Conclusion

It will be seen that Roman Catholicism's strongholds, namely Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands are all now beginning to question and repudiate the concept of the divinity of Jesus - basic to Christianity. This, and the general upheaval in the Christian faith (both in the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Churches) depicted by the earlier quotations in this article, were foretold by the Promised Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, seventy to eighty years ago when Christian dogmas were firmly believed in by most Christians. And Christian missionaries and orientalists were going all out to attack and, if possible, destroy Islam. At that time, the Promised Messiah, under Divine revelation, made a number of prophecies, only some of which are quoted below:

'In this century, the Christian attacks on Islam have become intense. The former's polemics and vituperation have exceeded all limits. Had Allah so desired, He could have swept away the opponents, activities with one stroke. But He wishes to give His judgment in a fashion more visible to all. The time has now come that the true position of the Christian faith should be exposed.

'My spiritual eye can see Allah's support and aid to Islam which will become evident to others later on. And my mind's eye can even see death befalling the dogmas of Christianity. It cannot now withstand the truth and reasonableness of Islam. The foundations of the structure of Christian dogmas have now become hollow. The time is coming when the people of Europe and America will turn away from the Christian worship of a dead person and believe in the true religion of Islam in which they will find their salvation' (Al-Hakam, dated 31 May 1901).

Earlier he had written:

'Remember that the false divinity attributed to Jesus will soon disappear. The day will come when the right-minded among the Christians will recognise the True God (Allah) and rush to Him weeping as separated sons. This is proclaimed by the spirit which speaks within me. But these Divine promises will not be thwarted' (Siraj-e-Munir, p. 66, published in 1897).

We conclude this chapter by saying that when Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib claimed to be the Mujaddid of the fourteenth century Hijrah [Islamic Era] nobody took any exception to it. Opposition to him started when he announced, on the basis of disclosures made to him by Divine revelation, that Jesus Christ was dead and that his second advent was destined to be in Hazrat Mirza Sahib's own person, as already discussed at length earlier in this book. We have also shown that after ninety years the Muslim world, and even some of the Christians, now believe that Jesus Christ is indeed dead. What is now the difficulty in submitting to the Holy Prophet's prophetic statement that the Promised Messiah would be 'an Imam from among the Muslims' (Bukhari and Muslim)? Therein lies the superiority of Islam and its Holy Prophet. As Hazrat Mirza Sahib said in an Urdu couplet:

'The eminence and glory of Ahmad (the Holy Prophet) are above comprehension and conjecture;
'Don't you see that his ghulam (slave) is the Messiah of the Age?'

No true Muslim can hold beliefs which are derogatory to the Holy Prophet or seriously harmful to Islam, as are the beliefs in Jesus having ascended to heaven with his physical body and his coming back to save Islam and the Muslims. We have already shown in detail in the earlier chapters that the Mujaddid [Reformer] of this age had to be the Promised Messiah 'to break the Cross' which had mounted a most grievous attack on Islam. And Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib fits into all the prophecies of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If even now the Muslims do not believe in the Promised Messiah then we can only quote his Persian couplet to end this chapter:

'Today my people have not recognised my status;
'A day will come when they will remember in tears the happy time (for Islam) that came with me'

and which they missed.

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Books Section > Ahmadiyyat in the Service of Islam by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib > The Crumbling of the Cross

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