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Jesus did not die on the Cross

44 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS them as you have expressed towards Mirza Sahib in your letter. In conclusion it was stated: When this matter was referred to the Mirza Sahib and he was asked whether, as your Lordship had declined to meet him in a friendly way, he too was disposed to entertain similar feelings towards your Lordship, he gave the following reply: I do not look upon anyone in the world as my enemy. I hate not individuals but the false beliefs they entertain. As regards individuals, my feelings towards them are of the utmost sympathy and goodwill. How can I then regard anyone as my enemy who enjoys respectability among his co-religionists and is honoured for his position and learning? I love him though I do not like his doctrines, but my hatred towards these doctrines extends only so far as the attributes of God are ascribed to human beings, and human faults and weaknesses are ascribed to the Lord of the universe. I am not averse to meeting his Lordship in a friendly way, for it is possible that either party may reap some advantage from the other, as the seed of sincerity must bear fruit. It is the first requisite in the performance of a person’s duties as a reformer or a preacher that he should receive those who hold views differing from his own in the most cordial and cheerful manner. In truth, I would not only be departing from my functions as a reformer, but dealing at the same time a death-blow to all moral laws, if I were to regard as my enemies persons who deserve compassion for having unfor- tunately fallen into error. Such a step on my part would only deprive a large majority of those noble and holy truths which it is my duty to preach to all. ‘The Holy Quran says: “We have sent unto you a Prophet whose heart is full of sympathy for you, so much so that all your cares and anxieties grieve him in the same manner as if they were his own, and he is always anxious for your comfort and happiness” (9 : 128) Again it says: “Shalt thou, O Prophet, put an end to thy life out of grief that these people do not accept the truth?” (26 : 4). The last verse makes a reference to the true sacrifice of life which the prophets of God make for the reformation of the people. These are the verses upon which I act, and one can easily under- stand from this the nature of my feelings towards those who regard thems- selves as my enemies.” But nothing could induce his Lordship to change his mind. He wrote in reply on 12 July 1900: “I have received your letter of the 10th instant, but I have nothing to alter in, or add to, the reasons assigned in my former letter for declining to enter into a controversy with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to which you invited me.” The comments of two impartial papers would give a fair idea of the THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 45 validity of the reasons put forward by Bishop Lefroy for declining the in- vitation addressed to him. The Indian Daily Telegraph of 19 June 1900 wrote as follows: We reproduce on another page a most interesting religious challenge, from the school of Islam in this country which follows Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, to the Bishop of Lahore. It is interesting because it seems to be put forward in an earnest and sincere spirit. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the Chief of Qadian, and according to the wording of the challenge, not only lays claim to the Promised Messiahship, but has made good that claim by strong and conclusive arguments, and has proved himself to be the Promised One whose appearance has been foretold in the Holy Quran and the Bible. It seems that the following of this somewhat remarkable person- age numbers about thirty thousand in different parts of the world, and his friends and disciples are anxious that he should hold an elaborate and learned argument on the respective truth of Christianity and Islam with the Bishop of Lahore, whose lectures at that place have convinced the Muham- madans that he is unrivalled in religious learning in this country. His vast and practical knowledge, his acquaintance with Arabic, persian and Urdu and his amicable and polished manners are also enumerated as further reasons why he should be asked to enter into a controversy with this Champion of Islam. The challenge throughout is worded in conciliatory terms and exhibits an evidently keen desire for a formal and set controversy on fair terms to both parties on the comparative merits and excellences of Christianity and Islam. The challengers, who are large in numbers and hail from all parts of India, hope by adjuring the Bishop in the name of Jesus Christ to gain his consent to a controversy. We are of the opinion that the Bishop would do well to accept the challenge. To assume a superiority that cannot stoop to controversy would be a mistake, as the challengers, would be entitled from their point of view to conclude that the case being undefended went by default and to claim the victory. Also, the fact that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian is not the promised one whose appearance has been foretold in the Holy Quran and the Bible ought not to influence the learned Bishop towards a refusal to enter into an argument with him. This question is not to be discussed in the proposed controversy, but the Bishop may possibly con- vince his opponent of error if the challenge is accepted. The fact that the Muslims desire to put their Messiah against the Bishop is the highest com- pliment they could desire to pay to his learning. They wish to intimate that they recognize him as the first authority in India. Again, we do not see how the Bishop can plead that such an elaborate controversy would take up too much of his time. He should on no account lose an opportunity of refuting, silencing and convincing such opponents, especially where he is desired to prove which of the two religions, Christianity or Islam, can be called the 46 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS living faith; and of the teaching inculcated in the Holy Quran and the Bible, which is the more excellent and natural? We should like to see the challenge accepted because we think it would prove highly interesting. On the Bishop’s refusal the Indian Spectator commented as follows: The Bishop of Lahore seems to have retired with more haste than dignity from a challenge which he had himself provoked. His Lordship, some time back, set before himself the task of proving to Muhammedan audiences that Christ was a true Messiah and the challenge was taken up by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian to whose claim of Messiahship we reffered some time ago in these columns. Now Mirza Ahmad may, for aught we know, be a rank impostor, or he may really believe himself to be what he claims to be. In either case, we do not see why the Bishop should decline to argue with him. His Lordship speaks of Mirza Sahib as offering a grievous insult and dishonour to Christ by venturing to call himself the Messiah. The Jews of two thousand years ago crucified Christ for the self-same reason. They felt insulted by his venturing to call himself the Messiah. What is even more strange is the Bishop pointing to the fact of Mirza Ahmad’s claims being treated with ridicule and contempt by an overwhelming majority of Punjab Muhammedans as conclusive proof of the falsity of those claims. When Pilate asked the assembled Jews whom would they like to be liberated on the day of the Passover, Christ or Barabbas.they unanimously voted for the impenitent thief. Did that prove that Christ’s claim to Messiah- ship was unfounded? We are not among the followers of Mirza Ahmad and have no intention of upholding his claims in preference to those of Christ, but we object to the logic of the hustings being introduced in a dis- cussion on religion. If the whole Muslim world would have acclaimed the Mirza, would the Rt Rev Prelate of Lahore have altered his opinion of his mission? Religious beliefs in his country are in a state of dissolution just now. It behoves those who are anxious to see them crystallized round the truth not to employ arguments which are not of the purest temper. (Taken from “Ahmadiyyat, the Renaissance of Islam” by Sir Muha- mmad Zafrullah Khan.) The main part of wisdom after religion is love for men- doing good to every one, pious or sinner. The Holy Prophet THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 47 JESUS DID NOT DIE ON THE CROSS BY DR. AZIZ A. CHAUDHRI It is one of basic beliefs of Christianity that Jesus had died on the cross, and on the third day was resurrected from dead. Is there any his- torical basis for this? No doubt all the four gospels state that Jesus had died on the cross. But they state it as more of belief rather than a fact based upon their observation as an eyewitness account. All the disciples left Jesus and fled at the time of his arrest. They were probably afraid for their own lives. None were present at the place of crucifixion or in the tomb at the time of supposed resurrection. It is a significant fact that none of the authors of gospels give an eyewitness account of death of Jesus on cross or his subsequent resurrection. All the gospels were written at a time when the original teachings and religion of Jesus had undergone major changes. A new christology had been evolved born out of despair of apparent failure of mission of Jesus; and chief architect of which was St. Paul. Pauline theology with its emphasis on death of Jesus had held sway and had gradually submerged all opposition to its views by early Christian community. Contrary to teachings of Jesus, St. Paul began to preach to Gentiles and declared law a curse as Gentile world was not ready to submit the death on the third day; was adopted as it was attractive to Greek and Roman world for its obvious resemblance to their mythology. Thus the founder of Christian dogmas was St. Paul and not Jesus Christ. Jesus did not want to die on the cross as his mission had not been completed. This is obvious from his fervent prayers. Jews had rejected him and did not accept him as a prophet and a Messiah. They considered him a pretender and wanted to prove him a false prophet and “an accursed of God” by killing him on the corss as it was their belief that the death on the cross was an accursed one (Deut 21 : 23). To Jews nothing was more abhorrent than a crucified Messiah. Almighty God who had bestowed prophethood on Jesus, in His mercy and grace saved Jesus from such a disgraceful end. He brought about such circumstances that Jesus did not die on the cross. He was probably mistaken as dead while he was unconscious. He was handed over to his secret disciples who placed him in the large airy sepulchre where Jesus recovered from fainting and shock. His wounds were treated and he regained sufficient strength to leave that tomb on the third day. Credulous imagination build up the theory and legend of resurrection and his physical ascension to heaven. Physical resurrection and ascension involves three things. First, that 48 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS actually dead persons come back to life. Second, that physical body was lifted up in the sky and thirdly, that if you are lifted up in the sky or space you reach a heaven where physical bodies are kept. All this is impossible physically. Whole legend or theory is irrational. In spite of belief that Jesus had died on the cross, there is enough material in the gospels which supports the fact that Jesus did not die on the cross. Let us now consider this material in the gospels. A SIGN AND A PROPHECY In referring to the wicked generation opposed to him and to their demand for a sign, Jesus said “But no sign shall be given to it except the sign of prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of whale, so will the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of Earth. (Math. 12:3040). Prophet Jonah was thrown into the sea from a ship and was swallowed by a whale. He survived in the belly of whale for a few days probably due to large air mass in her stomach till he was vomited out. Jesus made a prophesy that like Jonah prophet he will survive the ordeal facing him. And like Jonah, he will spend time in the sepulchre but will remain alive like him and eventually will come out alive. If Jesus had died on the corss and entered sepulchre as dead what could be the resemblance between a dead man and one who was alive? Moreover, the people on the ship thought that they had killed him by throwing him into the sea; similarly, enemies of Jesus thought that they had killed Jesus on the corss. However the matter remained dubious to them. PRAYER IN GETHESMANE Jesus knew by God given knowledge through revelation that his arrest was imminent and that he will be put on the corss. When this time drew nearer, Jesus went to Gethesmane with his disciples and offered fervent prayers to be saved from death on the corss. We read: And going a little farthsr he fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Math. 26 : 39) We read in Luke: An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. In great .anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22 : 23—44) If Jesus had known that his mission in life was to redeem mankind of its sins by dying on the corss and that this was his destiny, why would he offer prayer to be saved from such an end? Fact is that Jesus had no knowledge of such a destiny. He did not want to die on the cross as this would have proven to Jews that he was a false prophet and an accursed one. His mission was not yet complete. So, he fell on the ground and in great anguish offered fervent prayers that if it be possible he be saved from the death on the cross.