The Relationship Between History and Doctrine
Understanding the relationship between history and doctrine is important to Christianity:
- Christian doctrine explains the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross.
- History is the event of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Muslims sometimes give doctrinal reasons why Jesus did not die on the cross:
- A man cannot take the sin away from another man.
- No man can die to remove the sins of another.
- If Christians believe in a Trinity, then how can part of God die?
- If I commit a crime then I should pay for it.
- How can a Father send his son to die? This is child abuse!
- Human sacrificial rituals are disgusting paganism.
- If Jesus died for everybody’s sins, then what do people need to repent of? 1adapted from Sami Zaatari, “Christianity and its Message”; http://muslim-responses.com/Exposing_the_CFR/Exposing_the_CFR_; accessed 10/7/2011
What Muslims overlook is that Christian beliefs (doctrine) about the meaning of Jesus’ death are rooted in the historical event of Jesus’ death on the cross.
J. Gresham Machen explains,
“The primitive Church was concerned not merely with what Jesus had said, but also, and primarily, with what Jesus had done. The world was to be redeemed through the proclamation of an event. And with the event went the meaning of the event; and the setting forth of the event with the meaning of the event was doctrine. These two elements are always combined in the Christian message. The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the meaning of the facts is doctrine. “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried”–that is history. “He loved me and gave Himself for me”–that is doctrine. Such was the Christianity of the primitive Church” (J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, [New York: Macmillan, 1924], 29).
The historical question is, Did Jesus die on the cross?
Whether Jesus died on the cross for sin is doctrine. The doctrine (for sin) could be wrong, but the historical event still happened.
If the historical event of Jesus’ death on the cross happened, then Islam is not a true witness to history.
Historically, Jesus is alive. Muhammad is dead and buried. Therefore, Christians believe Jesus has the authority to interpret the meaning of His death.
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|1.||↥||adapted from Sami Zaatari, “Christianity and its Message”; http://muslim-responses.com/Exposing_the_CFR/Exposing_the_CFR_; accessed 10/7/2011|