Not knowing why we disagree


Now, why did Emperor Constantine who was not even a Christian take so much trouble to interfere in Christianity and decide what form Christianity should take? In fact, it was Constantine who called for the Conference and who took charge of the proceedings.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysian politics used to be very much about race. That was bad. But now it has gotten even worse. Now Malaysian politics is about religion. And if you think racial politics is bad you have seen nothing yet. Religious politics is many more times worse and history can testify to this.

But how can believers of the three Abrahamic faiths or Semitic religions hate one another so much? They claim to all come from the same source, Abraham, and a long line down before Abraham, starting from Adam. And they all share the same doctrine of the One God who has no partners and has no beginning and no end and so on. Yet they have been killing one another from across faiths and within their own faiths for thousands of years and in the multi-millions.

The problem is simple. The Jews stop at Moses. The Christians stop at Jesus. And the Muslims stop at Muhammad whom they believe to be the final prophet and no other prophet will come after that. The Muslims accept Moses and Jesus. The Christians accept Moses but not Muhammad. And the Jews reject both Jesus and Muhammad.

That is more or less the long and short of it all and appears to be very simple. But it is really not that simple. It is more complex than that. Hence while the Jews know why they reject Jesus and Muhammad, the Christians and Muslims only know they reject each other (plus the Jews, of course) but not why they reject each other.

Yes, that is very true. The Christians reject Muhammad because the Muslims reject Christianity. Let me repeat that. The Muslims reject Christianity. They do not reject Jesus. They accept Jesus. They just do not accept Christianity.

Now, Christians just cannot understand how the Muslims can accept Jesus but reject Christianity. How can you accept the Prophet but reject this Prophet’s teachings? That is a most intriguing question and we shall look at the answer after this.

What is even more interesting is the issue of the Muslims accepting Jesus but not the teachings of Jesus. Most Muslims know they have to accept Jesus, so they do. And they accept Jesus while they reject Christianity. However, while they may reject Christianity, most do not understand why they have to reject Christianity.

And to both Christians as well as Muslims who know that Muslims accept Jesus but reject Christianity, allow me to explain why. And that explanation can be summed up in just one word: the Trinity (okay, so that’s two words).

Verse 171, chapter 4 of the Qur’an talks about Jesus and has this to say:

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.

So there you have it. Islam regards Jesus to be of virgin birth. However, Islam regards Jesus as merely a messenger of God and it flatly rejects the Trinity. No two ways about it and no compromise on the matter. And those Christians who also reject the Trinity are People of the Book as far as Muslims are concerned while those who uphold the Trinity are not followers of Christ but deviants and heretics who are apostates in the Muslim perspective.

That is Islam’s position on the Trinity.

Early Christianity was divided into two sects (just like what happened to Islam soon after the death of Prophet Muhammad). There were the Unitarian Christians of James, Peter and the other Apostles, and the Trinitarian Christians of Paul. And (just like what happened to Islam as well) the Unitarian Christians and the Trinitarian Christians fought it out for more than 300 years about whether Unitarian Christianity or Trinitarian Christianity is the correct version of Christianity.

Actually, while Paul may have insisted that Jesus was divine and was the Son of God, the Trinity itself was not introduced by Paul. That came in the year 220 when Tertullian first coined the term from the Latin word Trinitas and who argued that Jesus shared divinity with God — the Lord, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

It was not until another 100 years during the Council of Nicaea in 325 that the Trinity was properly formalised. However, this was strongly opposed by the Unitarian Christians who regarded the Trinitarian Christians as deviants who believed in heresy. Constantine, who himself was not a Christian, expelled those Bishops who opposed the Trinity and the Trinitarian Christians won the fight.

It took another 56 years during the Council of Constantinople in 381 before the church ratified the Nicene Creed. By then, over those 56 years since 325, all the opponents of the Trinity had been exterminated through persecution and genocide.

Anyway, by then all those who had participated in the 325 Council had already died. Most were in their 50s, 60s and 70s in 325 and some were in wheelchairs and could hardly walk so by 381 they could not possibly have still been alive. Hence, even if they had not been killed, they would have died natural deaths anyway.

Now, why did Emperor Constantine who was not even a Christian take so much trouble to interfere in Christianity and decide what form Christianity should take? In fact, it was Constantine who called for the Conference and who took charge of the proceedings.

The reason was because the Roman Empire was so badly weakened due to religious conflict and would collapse if he did not unite the Unitarian Christians and the Trinitarian Christians — or at least get rid of one in favour of the other. And Constantine decided that he would support the Trinitarian Christians and eliminate Unitarian Christianity by killing off all the Unitarian Christians.

If Constantine had chosen the other way around instead, today, the Vatican would be the Unitarian Church and not the Trinitarian Church and Muslims and Christians need not have killed each other for 1,400 years and fight in Malaysia about who gets the right to use the word ‘Allah’ — since Jesus would not be the Son of Allah.

Ironic is it not that one man by the name of Constantine made a decision that would result in millions of deaths over more than 1,400 years, and most of these deaths the result of Christians killing Christians, the worse being during the 1600s 30 years war in Europe where half the population of some countries was exterminated?