The Antichrist in Muhammad: Muhammad's Fear of the Cross
The Qur'an 4:157-58 denies that Jesus died on the cross. Some Muslim scholars maintain that the crucifixion did not occur at all. Others, in perhaps the most common explanation, argue that someone else, for example the apostle Judas or a Jew named Titanus, was substituted in Jesus' place. Some, on the other hand, say that Jesus was miraculously saved from death and taken to heaven by the intervention of Allah. Some, finally, argue that Jesus did not die on the cross, but only swooned or appeared to die, and thereafter recovered. Regardless of the various theories raised to justify the alleged revelation, the Muslim scholarship is virtually unanimous in maintaining the veracity of the clearly-historically-erroneous Qur'an and denying, by the word of one man without any personal knowledge of the fact, the historical crucifixion and death of Jesus.
St. Ignatius died for his faith in the Gospel, and certainly not in vain since his faith was well-based. Part of this faith was based upon a historical fact witnessed by numerous still-then alive: that Jesus lived, was crucified, died, and rose again from the dead. The theological significance of Jesus' crucifixion and atoning death (the Redemption) was tied to that unique historical event: Jesus--he who was fully God and fully man--suffered, died on the cross, was buried, and rose again from the grave.
The theological conclusion that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures," (1 Cor 15:3) meant that Jesus had physically and really died on the cross. Necessarily, Jesus would have had to die on the cross for St. Paul to have proclaimed to the Thessalonians the hope of all Christians: "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep." (1 Thess. 4:14) That's why St. Paul insistently preached "Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)
The crucifixion and death of Jesus is at the center of the Christian faith. We build our faith on a historical fact, even to the point of repeating the name of a second-rate Roman prefect who may have been forgotten to history had his life not intertwined with that of Jesus' death by crucifixion. "We believe," we say in the Nicene Creed, that Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried." The Church insisted upon the reality of Christ's suffering and death against all manner of heretics who questioned that reality, such as Gnostics and Docetists.
A Christianity without the cross is inconceivable. "The law of the Christians is the holy cross of Christ, the living son of God," says the Pseudo-Cyprian. The amor crucis, the love of God towards man that embraced the cross to redeem us, is a centerpiece of how we understand God's solicitous and unconditional love for errant, sinning man. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8).
It is a love that we are called to imitate. Christians, in fact, are called to deny themselves, and pick up their cross, and follow the Lord in imitation of this amor crucis. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself," Jesus said, and "take up his cross, and follow me." (Matt. 16:24; see also Matt. 10:38, Luke 14:27, 1 Pet. 2:21) The Christian life is the via crucis, the way of the cross. The amor crucis leads seamlessly into the via crucis. The cross is then the symbol and summary of the Great Commandment: the love of God and the love of neighbor as one's self. (Matt. 22:37-38; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27-28)
The Gospels all testify to the crucifixion and death of Jesus. (Matt. 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-30) It is apparent that it was a central part of the apostolic preaching. "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ," St. Peter preaches at the feast of Pentecost. (Acts 2:36; see also 2:23).
The cross of Jesus is at the heart of the theology of St. Paul and is the centerpiece of his proclamation of the Gospel. "But we preach Christ crucified," St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles." (1 Cor. 1:13) The cross was at the forefront of his spirituality. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20) The cross, was for St. Paul, the fulcrum around which Christianity and the salvation it offered the world revolved: "We know that our old self was crucified with him," he tells the Romans, "so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin." (Rom. 6:6).
The crucifixion of Christ is, from a historical standpoint, undeniable. It is irrational to deny it given the historical ...
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