Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Saint Augustine did build a Bridge from the Christian Tradition to Islam

The Muslim Times | Alislam |  Subscribe 

Saint Augustine did build a Bridge from the Christian Tradition to Islam!

"We think that since God is the author both of his Word the Bible and of this universe, there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and correct interpretation of scientific data."  Prof. John C Lennox, in Seven Days that divide the World.
World turtle carrying the elephants that carries the earth upon their backs?

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD


Saint Augustine said, "Let the bible be a book for you so that you may hear it; let the sphere of the world be also a book for you so that you may see it."  In this saying he suggests a paradigm that word of God or scripture should be in accord with the act of God, our world or what we broadly label as nature!  So, the basic question, for any seeker of truth is to objectively answer as to which scripture is in best accord with nature.


The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History is a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart, reprinted in 1992 with revisions. It is a ranking of the 100 people who, according to Hart, most influenced human history.[1]
The first person on Hart's list is the Prophet of Islam Muhammad.[2] Hart asserted that Muhammad was "supremely successful" in both the religious and secular realms. He also believed that Muhammad's role in the development of Islam was far more influential than Jesus' collaboration in the development of Christianity. He attributes the development of Christianity to St. Paul, who played a pivotal role in its dissemination.
St. Augustine also made to this list of most influential, some where in the middle, after Asoka and before William Harvey. The Christian theology is remarkably influenced by him.  The metaphors that he used to establish Christianity in a pagan world are remarkably helpful to establish Islam in a Trinitarian Christian world, with two billion Christians in the world and the Western powers, with their Christian background enjoying tremendous political and scientific influence in our contemporary global village.
Augustine of Hippo (pron.: /?'g?st?n/[1][2] or /'??g?st?n/;[2] LatinAurelius Augustinus Hipponensis;[3] 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as St. Augustine, St. Austin,[4] or St. Augoustinos, was bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Annaba, Algeria). He was a Latin philosopher and theologian from the Africa Province of the Roman Empire and is generally considered as one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. His writings were very influential in the development of Western Christianity and translations remain in print.
According to his contemporary Jerome, Augustine "established anew the ancient Faith."[5] In his early years he was heavily influenced by Manichaeism and afterward by the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus.[6] After his conversion to Christianity and his baptism in 387, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and different perspectives.[7] He believed that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom and he framed the concepts of original sin and just war.
Encyclopedia Britannica has the following to say about Augustine's importance and his theology and metaphysics:
Saint Augustine was bishop of Hippo from 396 to 430, one of the Latin Fathers of the Church, one of the Doctors of the Church, and perhaps the most significant Christian thinker after St. Paul. Augustine's adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence. His numerous written works, the most important of which are Confessions and City of God, shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought. [1]
Saint Augustine in his book Confessions provided a bridge from Paganism to Christianity.  I believe the same bridge can help us today in moving from the Christian tradition to a more pure Monotheistic tradition of Islam.  I will by the Grace of God demonstrate this in this article. In Confessions he provides reasons for the truth and superiority of Christianity, especially in Book VII of this classic.  I learnt about this through the lecture series by the Teaching Company, St. Augustine's Confessions, taught by William R. Cook and Ronald B. Herzman.  They write in introduction to the Book VII of the Confessions:
Within the 13-book structure of the Confessions, Book VII is the exact center.  In some ways, this makes sense.  If we look at the Confessions in terms of Augustine's search for truth, this book marks the time when he becomes convinced of the intellectual superiority of Christianity.  In this lecture, we will discuss how Augustine becomes convinced that Christianity is true.  He presents the climax of his search in terms of an amazing paradox: He learns of the truth of Christianity by reading pagan philosophers.  Because he makes the case for the importance, indeed, the necessity, of pagan learning in his search for truth, this book is an important chapter in the history of Christianity and in the intellectual history of the West.  Augustine offers a valuable contribution to the question: 'What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?' This lecture deals with what Augustine is and is not saying about the relationship between Christian revelation and classical learning and what the long-term implications of his position have been for subsequent history.[6]
Why does Augustine become convinced that Christianity is true?   What does Augustine propose that Athens have to do with Jerusalem?  What does Plato have to do with the Bible and more specifically with the Gospel of John?  How can you examine the truth of one tradition of thought and reasoning in light of another parallel tradition?  William R. Cook and Ronald B. Herzman answer these questions for us:
Augustine tells us that he read books 'written by the Platonists' … He parapharases these books, rather than quoting them directly.  His parapharase is also a parapharase of one of the most important texts of Christian Scripture, the beginning of the gospel according to John.  The surprising and, to some extent, shocking claim that he makes is that these Platonists teach the same thing as the Gospel of John.  Augustine's claim is that even though these words may not have been exactly what was said in the text of these philosophers, they accurately represent the substance of what he saw in them.  Thus, in these pagan philosophical texts, he finds a way of articulating Christian beliefs.[7]
So, Augustine proposes that if Platonist tradition founded on reason and observations preceding the Christian tradition by three centuries, supports and confirms the Christian tradition then it would stand to reason that Christianity is true!
However, the situation regarding Christianity and the Bible has changed in the last sixteen centuries since the fourth century of Augustine.
The bridge built by Constantine between Greek rationality and Christian religion is no longer functional. A 2012 Pew Research Center poll showed that the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.  Those who are open minded and not powerfully indoctrinated in the Christian dogma, the Generation X and the Generation Y, can no longer accept the dogma in the disguise of faith.  As their rationality and the scientific tradition are on a collision course with the Christian faith in Trinity, vicarious atonement, Original Sin, Eucharist and inconsistencies in the Bible.
The Muslim Times' Editorial team: If you like what you see, please forward it to friends and family.  To know more about us: click here.
1-800-WHY-ISLAM - In English, Spanish and Bangla

'One learned man is harder on the devil than a thousand ignorant worshipers': Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

No comments: