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Another Renowned NT Authority Proves that Muhammad was a False Prophet!

Richard A. Burridge is another renowned NT scholar and historian whom Muslims love to quote to discredit the historical veracity of the Gospels ( In light of this I have decided to quote what Burridge has written concerning the beliefs of Jesus’ first followers in order to show how even the claims of this noted NT authority proves that Muhammad was a false prophet and antichrist.

The following references are taken from a book that Burridge co-wrote with Graham Gould, Jesus Now and Then, published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004. All bold and capital emphasis will be mine.

When the first Christians, as they reflected on their experience in the early days of the Church, began to consider the question of who Jesus was, it was not just his teaching that impressed them, or the quality of his life, or his miracles, or even the fact that he had died as a martyr, the victim of a conspiracy between the Jewish religious authorities and the occupying Roman power. What was central to ALL EARLY CHRISTIAN ACCOUNTS of the significance of Jesus was the fact that he had been raised from death by God on the third day after his crucifixion.

‘But God raised him up’, says Peter in Acts 2.24 after summarizing Jesus’ life in terms of his miracles and crucifixion, ‘having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power’ (NRSV). Without the resurrection, there would be no significant story of Jesus to tell – no Christian movement and no question of Jesus for us to consider nearly two thousand years later. Whatever we believe the concept of resurrection actually means – whether physical resurrection is possible, and, if so, what actually happened when Jesus was raised and his tomb (according to the Gospel accounts) found empty – it is A FACT that it was THE EARLIEST CHRISTIANS’ EXPERIENCE OF JESUS AS RISEN, a living and present figure, which launched the Christian Church.

However, belief in Jesus’ resurrection alone would not entail belief in his divine status. To explain why Christians came to believe that Jesus was God as well as human, we need to look at other factors. (Pp. 6-7)

To say that stories were passed down by word of mouth is not to suggest that it was a totally haphazard affair. Many ancient texts, such as the poems of Homer – the Illiad and Odyssey – were passed down orally for four or five centuries before they were written down. The corresponding period for the Gospels is very brief – actually about a generation. The first Gospel was written during the 60s, thirty years after Jesus, and the other three witnesses during the 70s, 80s and 90s. This is quite a short period. And of course the ancient world was much more used to memorizing in this way and accuracy was A HIGH PRIORITY: the oral tradition actually preserved the original in a very clear way. (P. 28)

Examining these titles, some people say you can actually follow a development of the understanding of Jesus. Jesus is seen first as a human being, a prophet or peripatetic teacher – this is known as a ‘low’ view of Jesus. This early understanding evolved or developed over time into belief in a quasi-divine figure that people then began calling the Messiah, Son of God and Lord – this is known as a ‘high’ view. This theory of development is very neat, but it doesn’t actually work quite as simply as that. When we come to do a more detailed analysis of the New Testament text, we discover that the ‘high’ ideas of Jesus as God are used by the writers AT QUITE AN EARLY STAGE, and the ‘low’ ideas of Jesus as prophet or teacher still occur at quite a late stage. So this developmental theory doesn’t stand up to further study. (P. 31)

In Jesus’ case, they were up against something quite different, because the followers did not disappear. As we saw in the last chapter, without EARLY CHRISTIAN BELIEF in the resurrection, there would have been no Church. Whatever you believe about Jesus of Nazareth, you have to CONTEND WITH THE FACT that a significant movement developed from the fact that his followers believed that he was risen from the dead. His disciples, just a bunch of frightened people at the crucifixion, were turning Jerusalem upside down just A FEW WEEKS LATER with their preaching and teaching about Jesus: many of them went on to die for him.

In the New Testament two things are said about the aftermath of Jesus’ death. One is that the tomb was empty. Mark 16 tells us the women went to grieve, and found the tomb empty. Of course, grave-robbers were emptying tombs all the time. The problem is that robbers would take the linen and the spices, because they had a commercial value, and leave the body. In the case of Jesus, it appears to have been the other way round. It’s the body that has gone, and the linen and spices that are left.

The second phenomenon the New Testament describes is a long list of apparent appearances of the crucified Jesus, the first of which is to Mary Magdalene. In a Jewish court of the time, the word of a woman was not acceptable testimony. If the Christians wanted to claim that Jesus had appeared to somebody, they would not have chosen, as a first witness, somebody whose witness was not valid in court. So some people argue for the historicity of the resurrection in this way.

In 1 Corinthians 15.5-8, St Paul has a list of people to whom Jesus appeared. IT’S A VERY, VERY EARLY LIST, MUCH EARLIER THAN THE GOSPELS, DATING FROM ONLY A FEW YEARS AFTER JESUS’ DEATH. He says, if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead then the Christians are deluded, and they are of all human beings most to be pitied. He goes on to say, ‘Jesus appeared to Peter, to the twelve, to a group of five hundred, and to me’, implying, ‘If you don’t believe it, come and ask us.’

Many people have tried to explain these events in different ways – that it was fraud, that the disciples went to the wrong tomb, that there were hallucinations – and people argue back and forth. For me, a key fact that cannot be explained away is that in all the other groups, the death of the leader ended the movement. Here, quite to the contrary, the death of the leader was the beginning of something immensely greater. (Pp. 45-46)

So what facts have we considered to be historically valid about Jesus? First, Jesus of Nazareth existed, he was baptized by John the Baptist and gathered a controversial group of followers. He had an itinerant ministry preaching about the Kingdom of God. This led to opposition, and he was executed by Pontus Pilate.

It is NO LESS A HISTORICAL FACT that after Jesus was dead and buried, an extraordinary event happened which transformed the once-terrified disciples and gave rise to a movement which we know as the early Church. From this initially fragile basis, Christianity spread through the rest of the world and through history and changed them for ever. (P. 46)

Each gospel writer portrays his belief about Christ in his own distinctive way. In Mark, Jesus’ identity is revealed through supernatural means, the demons and the heavenly voice, and is confirmed finally by the centurion at the cross: ‘Truly this was the Son of God’ (Mark 15:39). In Matthew we see Jesus being worshipped as God by the wise men at his birth, through the disciples in the storm-tossed boat, to the new community on the mountain. Luke makes the remarkable shift from using the phrase ‘the Lord’ to mean ‘the Lord God’ in the early chapters to making it his main term for Jesus: what God is, Jesus is. John makes this explicit, from the Prologue – ‘the Word was God’ right through to Thomas’ confession – ‘My Lord and my God’.

All four agree that in his deeds and words Jesus acts and speaks for God. He is not just a prophet, nor even the human agent of the Kingdom of God, for the extraordinary response is that of worship, worship which may only be given properly to God himself. There may be four Gospels, but there is only one Jesus, AND HE IS GOD, come among us in human form. (P. 68)

One thing that is clear about this very early period, the first decade or so after the life of Jesus, is that Jesus is already being worshipped. This is remarkable, of course, because Jesus was Jewish, the disciples were Jewish, and the early Christians were Jewish – strict monotheists, to whom the first commandment was ‘You shall worship the Lord your God alone and nobody else.’ How can it be that Jews of this period would actually take the extraordinary step, not just of worshipping an idol, or an emperor, or a personification, but actually somebody who they claimed was a human being, and had lived and died – and died shamefully – only a matter of a few years before? Something very significant had clearly happened. We can obviously debate the historicity of the resurrection, and the evidence for it, but what is AN ABSOLUTELY INCONTROVERTIBLE FACT is that it was the belief of the early Christians IN THE RESURRECTION that brought about that startling change (see Chapter 1). (Pp.70-71)

This calling of Jesus ‘Lord’ means that monotheistic Jews were using a word which could only be used of God, and applying it to Jesus. This is an indication of how VERY SOON THE EARLY CHRISTIANS were treating Jesus as God. First Corinthians 12.3, underlines this. Paul is trying to deal here with the issue of people who would shout out in the fairly lively services they were having, and how you could know whether they were being inspired by God or by an evil spirit. And here he quotes, as it were, the first creed. ‘if someone says, “Let Jesus be accursed”, that is an evil spirit, and if they say, “Jesus is Lord”, that is from God’. This is using the same idea, that of confessing Jesus as Lord. In Romans 10.9 he says that people who confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord are the ones who will be saved. (P. 73)

… The best example is Philippians 2.6-11… Now there is great debate about how much of that is pre-Pauline and how much is Paul, but it is very clear that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. This passage has been used a great deal in church liturgies in the last two millennia. But it is indicative that the early Christians believed that the person of Jesus existed before the human being of Jesus of Nazareth. He was found in divine form but emptied himself, taking and the form of a slave, a human form, even died, and God has now exalted him as Lord. It is descending from God to become human, to live and to die, and then reascending back to God. This kind of pattern, descending and then going up again – like a ‘v’ or a ‘u’ – is echoed in other parts of the Bible.

We find an equally powerful Christology in another hymn that is often considered also to be a fragment preserved from pre-Pauline material, in Colossians chapter 1. Again, Paul is not particularly trying to teach about the person of Jesus at the time. Here he’s telling people to give thanks to God in Christ, and suddenly his thoughts are triggered off into a memory of this hymn or credal material.

Here we see Paul again drawing upon this figure of Wisdom, with the idea that, like Wisdom, Jesus was involved with God in creation, came among human beings, died, and that death was significant, and then he was exalted back to God.

So between the life of Jesus and Paul’s writings, we have a very early expression of faith. It’s not worked out in any kind of philosophical, theological or ontological fashion, but it is an expression of the experience of the worship of the early Christians. They found that in the human life of Jesus of Nazareth and his teaching, the God of their Fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was being made known to them, just as their Scriptures described the Wisdom of God. Their experience was also that after his death, that same person was being made known to them in their worship, through what they then came to call the Spirit of God, and that they were worshipping him not only as the risen Christ, but as the Christ who existed before he was born, who came and lived among human beings and has now returned to be with God, where he can be worshipped as ‘Lord’. (Pp. 74-76)

There you have it folks. Another noted NT historian and scholar, which Muslim polemicists love to cite, confirms that Jesus’ very own Jewish followers went around preaching that Christ not only died on the cross, but that he also was physically raised back to life on the third day. These same Jewish disciples further worshiped the risen Jesus as the Lord God who had become flesh. And since Islam denies these core fundamental facts of the proclamation of the first Christians this means that Muhammad stands condemned as a false prophet and antichrist.

Therefore, Muslims you have a problem!

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