By Theodore Shoebat (Shoebat Exclusive)
In a recent video I made, I said that Islam came as a protest against the Catholic Church and its doctrine, since in Muhammad’s time, all Christians were Catholics.
This irked Calvinist apologist, James White, whom many consider to be the most formidable Protestant apologist, who argued that the Catholics of Muhammad’s day could not be considered what we today would think as Catholic. He explains his view in this video:
Whatever changes that were made to present day Catholicism, they do not change much what was considered Orthodox Christianity in Muhammad’s time, as we will show here in great detail. White’s argument is mute.
What we will discuss here is by no means an attack against Protestants, but simply to refute White’s assertions.
White also objected to my statement that Muhammad founded his cult for, amongst a number of theological reasons, to eradicate the doctrine of the Trinity, and other Catholic doctrines, arguing that since Muhammad did not understand the Trinity and other Orthodox beliefs, he could not revolt against it:
So lets see if this scholar is worth his salt, especially in these days we witness a war between Islam and Christianity.
So when few days ago a Muslim man entered two very old Catholic parishes in France, and ransacked them, destroying and ruining altars, statues, a bronze cross, and then opened the tabernacle, took the Eucharist, and smashed it with his feet, he did not understand what he hated? And while White disagrees with the vandalism, he agrees with the hatred the Muslim harbors for Christian icons, statues of saints, altars, and the Eucharist.
Did this Muslim do this because he did not have knowledge of Catholic doctrine?
Why such hatred and vitriol toward the Catholic Church? Because the perpetrator was a Muslim, and his heresy, Islam, was founded as a protest against the doctrine and practices of the Catholic Church, many of which White and his ilk as well protest against.
Moreover, White’s assertion is not an argument. Even if Muhammad didn’t understand the Trinity, this does not take away from the fact that Muhammad rejected the Trinity.
White is an expert sophist and nothing more. The argument he presents is as if someone says that Hitler hated the Jews, but that he did not fully comprehend Judaism.
So what? Why are so many like James White taking the laity on such spins? And does White truly understand what he claims to talk about? Is he as he claims, seasoned on issues of history on either the Catholic Church or even Islam?
But White is wrong, Muhammad may have not fully comprehended the Trinity as Christians do, but he most definitely had knowledge of its existence as a Christian doctrine, for in the Koran it says:
“So believe in God and His messengers and do not speak of a ‘Trinity’—stop, that is better for you—God is only one God, He is far above having a son” Qur’an, sura 4:171
This alone should suffice. And in another verse it reads:
They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. (Koran 5:73)
How many times have we seen heretics reject the Trinity as false and pagan, and not even understand the theological details behind it? Just because someone does not understand a theological concept, does not mean they can’t reject it, or try to overthrow it. Many a time do people reject what they cannot comprehend.
Moreover, Muhammad was an Arian heretic, in that he accepted Arianism (the denial of Christ’s divinity), and merged it with some elements of Arabian paganism. Arius, the originator of Arianism, protested the Catholic Church’s doctrine of the Trinity, and desired to strip from it this most orthodox belief. When studying the history of Islam, one must not begin with Muhammad, but Arius. By following Arius, Muhammad resumed the Arian mission to obliterate the Trinity. Islam, essentially, is an Arabian extension of Arianism, the religion of the Antichrist. (1 John 2:22)
St. John of Damascus, one of the first Christians to write against Islam, wrote in the 8th century:
This man [Muhammad], after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. (3)
Muhammad continued the Arian conspiracy against Orthodoxy, and thus, this makes Islam innately a protest against Catholic doctrine.
White loves to tout the idea that the present Catholic Church is more of a product of the Middle Ages, and to this I would like to ask: Mr. White, who then were the “true believers” during the Middle Ages? Point them out, if you can, you can’t?
Were they the heretic Cathars, the heretic Bogomils, or the Catholics? If you say that the world was under some great apostasy, then your argument is not with the Vatican, but with Christ Himself when He declared:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 20:20)
Who was Christ with during the Middle Ages? Surely, to White, He was not with the valiant Crusaders who fought against the Muslims, protected holy sites, preserved Eastern Christendom, and advanced the glory of the Cross, or the holy warriors who vanquished the wicked and evil Cathars in France, who said that the God Who created the world is evil and the devil?
If Christ was no longer in the Church during the Middle Ages, when did He leave? Did He lie when He said He would always be with His Church? Did He all of a sudden decide to leave, and then return when Martin Luther hammered his theses on the door?
White asserts that when I say Catholics, I mean strictly Roman Catholic. Apparently he thinks he can read minds, for I never said that the term Catholic is limited to Rome. When I say Catholic, I mean all those who are a part of the Roman Church, and the many zealous Orthodox who, for centuries before any Reformed Baptist came into existence, they worshipped God through ancient rites in the East, such as these:
These Christians have been observing such rites for millennia, and yet I do not see any Christian leader such as White, or his ilk, conducting services such as these.
To White, the Church Fathers were like him, and not like these Catholics and these Orthodox who reign in Rome, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Russia, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, and the rest of the nations where ancient Christianity is most piously, and sublimely, observed.
As I say in my essay, The Muslims Will Invade The Vatican, And Try To Destroy The Roman Catholic Church, the Muslims have such hatred for Rome that they at numerous times tried to invade it as early as the ninth century. The heat of desire to conquer Rome is still throbbing and ebbing within the hearts of the Muslim world, with ISIS recently declaring:
So to arms, to arms, soldiers of Islam, fight, fight. Rush O Muslims to your state. It is your state. Syria is not for Syrians and Iraq is not for Iraqis. The land is for the Muslims, all Muslims. This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.
To the Muslim mind, to own Rome is to own the world. Why? Because Islam came as a theological disagreement with Orthodox Christianity, especially in regards to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The Church of Rome upheld and greatly defended Orthodox teachings for centuries, and thus to take such a church would be to dominate the center of Western Christianity. Muhammad himself expressed his desire to conquer Rome, and Constantinople.
Should we all do nothing either morally or militarily while the wretches of Islam conquer Rome and the Middle East, while we only make hum-and-drum when terrorists bomb New York? Is this how Christ loved the whole world?
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most influential Sunni scholar today, made the prediction in 2002 that the Muslims will soon rise and invade Rome, making references to the declaration of Muhammad himself:
He [Muhammad] answered: “The city of Hirqil [Emperor Heraclius, that is, Constantinople] will be conquered first” … Romiyya is the city called today Rome, the capital of Italy. The city of Hirquil was conquered by the young 23-year old Ottoman [sultan] Muhammad bin Morad, known in history as Mohammad the Conquerer, in 1453 [CE]. The other city, Romiyya, remains, and we hope and believe [that it too will be conquered]. This means that Islam will return to Europe as a conquerer and victor, after being expelled from its twice-once from the South, from Adalusia, and a second time from the East, when it knocked several times on the door of Athens.
Rome was the spiritual head of the Western Church, while Constantinople was the holy city for the Eastern Orthodox. To take both of these would lead to the spiritual crumbling of both branches of Christendom.
The violence of the Muslim devils is not just against Roman Catholics, but the Catholics of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well. Muslim jihadists are systematically slaughtering Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Syria and Iraq, beheading their children, raping their mothers, and lynching their fathers. They have desecrated the churches, tore down the holy crosses and Christian icons and statues, calling them idols, and have conspicuously shown their ardent desire to destroy all of Orthodox Christendom.
Why the vicious hatred for the Holy Cross, the Christian icons, the Eucharist, the altars? Because Islam was founded to destroy the Catholic Church. Look to its heretical book, the Koran, and Hadith, and you will not only see attacks against the divinity of Christ, the sonship of Christ, the Crucifixion, but against Catholic monks, and the veneration of the Virgin Mary, all doctrines and concepts defended and proclaimed by the Catholic Church. In the Koran it says that Christians worship both Christ and His mother, Mary, proving that Muhammad had knowledge of Catholic adoration for Mary as Mother of God:
And when Allah will say: O Isa son of Mary! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah he will say (Koran 5:116)
The idea that Christians deified Mary is not common only to Islam, but to what White propagates against Catholics.
Even the hatred toward Catholic monks is deep within the Koran and Islamic history. In the Koran it accuses Christians of worshipping their monks in place of Allah:
They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah , and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. (Koran 9:31)
In another verse Christian monks are generalized as greedy and of hoarding gold:
O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah . And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment. (Koran 9:34)
During the seventh century, when Abu Bakr, the successor to Muhammad, was about to conquer Syria, he commanded his men to slaughter monks with tonsures (if you don’t know what a tonsure is, click here), and to spare the monks without tonsures. The reason for this was because the monks with the tonsures were Catholics, believing in Orthodox doctrine, while the monks without the tonsure were heretical, and non-Catholic.
At first Abu Bakr said:
You will meet people who have set themselves apart in hermitages; leave them to accomplish the purpose for which they have done this.
No one was to be killed, except for one, men with the dreaded hairstyle – the Catholic tonsure:
You will meet people who have shaved the crowns of their heads, leaving a band of hair around it. Strike them with the sword.
The hatred towards the Catholic Church within Islamic history can be found just three years after Muhammad’s death, in 635: the caliph Umar captured Jerusalem, and when Saint Sophronius, an Eastern Catholic (not a Baptist, sorry), looked upon this Arab conquerer dressed in filthy camel hair and defiling the City of God with his idolatry and heresy, he proclaimed:
In truth, this is the abomination of the desolation established in the holy place, which Daniel the prophet spoke of.
Umar built a mosque in Jerusalem, just as Antiochus erected temples to Jupiter in the same holy city. The mosque crumbled down, and when he asked as to why this took place, a number of Jews approached him and said, “If you do not tear down the cross on top of the Mount of Olives, your building will not stay up.” He, in his hated for holy icons, removed the cross, and thus did great defilement taint the Holy Land. It is of no wonder that with bitter tears saint Sophronius wept for the loss of the Holy City, and over the Christian people who would suffer greatly. (1)
Their vitriol against Catholics was so horrendous, that in the Middle Ages the Muslims went so far as to rape Catholic men, and in one moment, sodomized a Catholic bishop, as Guibert of Nogent writes:
Their lust overflowed to the point that the execrable and profoundly intolerable crime of sodomy, which they committed against men of middle or low station, they also committed against a certain bishop, killing him. (2)
Well let us put White’s objections against the words of the Fathers themselves. To demonstrate that the Christians of Muhammad’s time were indeed Catholic, I will present the statements of certain Fathers who lived around the time in which Islam arose as a new sect, and in such we will allow their words to speak of their own Catholicity.
St. John of Damascus, amongst the greatest Fathers of the Church, was one of the earliest theologians to write against Muhammad, his exposition against the Islamic heresy being written within the 8th Century, when Islam was a very new cult.
Because of the time he wrote in, and for the reason that he lived within the infant stage of Islam, St. John of Damascus’ theological works are an adequate illustration as to what orthodox Christians believed in during the time of Muhammad, and in the time of Islam’s new beginnings. In his book, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, St. John of Damascus explains and vindicates the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, writing:
If, then, “the word of the Lord is living and effectual [Hebrews 4:12],” and if “whatsoever the Lord pleased he hath done [Pslam 134:6]”; if He said: “Be light made, and it was made. Be a firmament made, and it was made” [Gen. 1.3, 6]; if by the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth [Psalm 32:6]; if heaven and earth, water and fire, and air and the whole universe of these were made perfect by the air and the whole universe of these were made perfect by the word of the Lord, and this much famed living being, too, which is man; if by His will God the Word Himself became man and without seed caused the pure and the undefiled blood of his blessed Ever-Virgin to form a body for Himself; — if all this, then can He not make the bread His body and the wine and water His blood? In the beginning He said: “Let the earth bring forth the green herb,” [Genesis 1:11] and even until now, when the rain falls, the earth brings forth its own shoots under the influence and power of the divine command. God said: “This is my body,” and, “This is my blood,” and, “This do in commemoration of me,” and by His almighty command it is done, until He shall come, for what He said was “until he come.” And through the invocation the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost becomes a rainfall for this new cultivation.
For, just as all things whatsoever God made He made by the operation of the Holy Ghost, so also it is by the operation of the Spirit that these things are done which surpass nature and cannot be discerned except by faith alone. “How shall this be done to me,” asked the blessed Virgin, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.” And now you ask how the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine and water the blood of Christ. And I tell you that the Holy Ghost comes down and works these things which are beyond description and understanding. Now, bread and wine are used because God knows human weakness and how most things that are not constantly and habitually used cannot be put up with and are shunned. With His usual condescension, therefore, He does through the ordinary things of nature those which surpass the natural order. And just as in the case of baptism, because it is the custom of men to wash themselves with water and anoint themselves oil He joined the grace of the Spirit to oil and water and made it a laver of regeneration, so, because it is men’s customs to eat bread and drink water and wine He joined His divinity to these and made them His body and blood, so that by the ordinary natural things we might be raised to those which surpass the order of nature.” (4)
And by what fashion can one reject the Catholicity of this long discourse? Here he defends the Eucharist, here he declares it the body and blood of Jesus. Of which doctrine can you place this endurable theologian, but in that of the Catholic Faith? Tell me, what protestant church teaches such doctrine, in these words and with these terms? It was such doctrine that St. John of Damascus upheld and defended against the heresies of his day, and amongst those false doctrines was Islam, which he had deemed “a forerunner of the Antichrist.” (5)
This same John wrote that after the gnostic heretic Marcion was excommunicated, “He came to Rome, where he requested those who were ruling the Church at that time to receive him to penance” (6). St. John of Damascus says here that those who were in Rome at that time, ruled the Church, signifying that He Himself upheld the primacy of the Roman Church.
St. John of Damascus, moreover, upheld the Catholic beliefs in regards to Mary, in that she was a perpetual virgin, having no other children but Christ, that she was bodily assumed into Heaven after death, and that one can pray to her. There are numerous examples of this. In one homily St. John of Damascus declares:
Mingling, rather, fear with desire, and weaving them into one crown, with reverent hand and longing soul, let us show forth the poor first-fruits of our intelligence in gratitude to our Queen and Mother, the benefactress of all creation as a repayment of our debt. (7)
He declared that Mary, after her death, was assumed in both spirit and body into Heaven, explaining the doctrine as such:
O how does the source of life pass through death to life? O how can she obey the law of nature, who, in conceiving, surpasses the boundaries of nature? How is her spotless body made subject to death? In order to be clothed with immortality she must first put off mortality, since the Lord of nature did not reject the penalty of death. She dies according to the flesh, destroys death by death, and through corruption gains incorruption, and makes her death the source of resurrection. O how does Almighty God receive with His own hands the holy disembodied soul of our Lord’s Mother! He honours her truly, whom being His servant by nature, He made His Mother, in His inscrutable abyss of mercy, when He became incarnate in very truth. We may well believe that the angelic choirs waited to receive thy departing soul. O what a blessed departure this going to God of thine. If God vouchsafes it to all His servants–and we know that He does–what an immense difference there is between His servants and His Mother. What, then, shall we call this mystery of thine? Death? Thy blessed soul is naturally parted from thy blissful and undefiled body, and the body is delivered to the grave, yet it does not endure in death, nor is it the prey of corruption. The body of her, whose virginity remained unspotted in child-birth, was preserved in its incorruption, and was taken to a better, diviner place, where death is not, but eternal life. Just as the glorious sun may be hidden momentarily by the opaque moon, it shows still though covered, and its rays illumine the darkness since light belongs to its essence. It has in itself a perpetual source of light, or rather it is the source of light as God created it. So art thou the perennial source of true light, the treasury of life itself, the richness of grace, the cause and medium of all our goods. And if for a time thou art hidden by the death of the body, without speaking, thou art our light, life-giving ambrosia, true happiness, a sea of grace, a fountain of healing and of perpetual blessing. Thou art as a fruitful tree in the forest, and thy fruit is sweet in the mouth of the faithful. Therefore I will not call thy sacred transformation death, but rest or going home, and it is more truly a going home. Putting off corporeal things, thou dwellest in a happier state.” (8)
In another part he exclaims:
To-day the spotless Virgin, untouched by earthly affections, and all heavenly in her thoughts, was not dissolved in earth, but truly entering heaven, dwells in the heavenly tabernacles. (9)
St. John of Damascus prayed to Mary, and exhorted her to watch over the Christians:
We, too, approach thee to-day, O Queen; and again, I say, O Queen, O Virgin Mother of God, staying our souls with our trust in thee, as with a strong anchor. Lifting up mind, soul and body, and all ourselves to thee, rejoicing in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, we reach through thee One who is beyond our reach on account of His Majesty. If, as the divine Word made flesh taught us, honour shown to servants, is honour shown to our common Lord, how can honour shown to thee, His Mother, be slighted? How is it not most desirable? Art thou not honoured as the very breath of life? Thus shall we best show our service to our Lord Himself. What do I say to our Lord? It is sufficient that those who think of Thee should recall the memory of Thy most precious gift as the cause of our lasting joy. How it fills us with gladness! How the mind that dwells on this holy treasury of Thy grace enriches itself.
This is our thank-offering to thee, the first fruits of our discourses, the best homage of my poor mind, whilst I am moved by desire of thee, and full of my own misery. But do thou graciously receive my desire, knowing that it exceeds my power. Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt. Save us from our sins. Lead us into the calm harbour of the divine will. Make us worthy of future happiness through the sweet and face-to-face vision of the Word made flesh through thee. With Him [Christ], glory, praise, power, and majesty be to the Father and to the holy and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever. Amen. (10)
Is James White prepared to proclaim St. John of Damascus as a heretic?
St. John of Damascus even maintained that Mary never had any children after Christ, writing,
Hence, the Ever-Virgin remained a virgin even after giving birth and never had converse with a husband as long as she lived. (11)
Neither the Muslim nor the Protestant would agree with any of the above sermons, but this is what Christians, around the earliest times of Islam, until now, believed in, and it is such a doctrine that the Muslims and Protestants want to destroy.
And we ask James White, is such doctrine during the 8th century any much different from how Christianity was taught during Islam and how it was taught during the 12th century or even in the 21st century as you claimed?
So what sort of clever sophist device will you come up with to refute this? Was St. John of Damascus wrong? Was he a pagan? Was he teaching heresy when he wrote such things?
To claim that Christianity was different long ago is exactly what Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and every other heretical belief claim, that Christianity was corrupted and needed to be saved by some reformer. So we ask, why do you have this in common with Muslims?
For what reason would St. John of Damascus, this learned theologian, fight against the heresy of Muhammad? It was to defend Orthodoxy against Islam, and therefore, to maintain the doctrine of the Catholic Church. And if it was not the Catholic Church, then which church was it? Evangelical? Baptist? Methodist? There can be no dispute, that St. John of Damascus was thoroughly Catholic, and that his enemies, the Muslims, were warring against the Catholic Church.
And this leads us to our next ancient theologian, who lived close to the time of Islam’s advent, Theodore Abu Qurrah, an 8th century Melkite bishop who superintended the church in Harran, at Mesopotamia, and who was one of the first to organize a theological defense for Orthodoxy against the heresies of Islam.
Theodore believed that Islam, alongside other heresies, were enemies of the Roman Catholic Church, which he esteemed as being founded by Christ, and as “the seat of St. Peter” (12). He stresses in his book, Discerning the True Church, that the authentic Church is the Catholic Church, that Apostolic succession must be upheld, and that the only Orthodox Church Councils were the ones commenced by Rome, and that all heretics are against the Roman Church:
You should understand that the head of the apostles was St. Peter, he to whom Christ said, “You are the rock; and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” [Matthew 16:18] After his resurrection, he also said to him three times, while on the shore of the sea of Tiberias, “Simon, do you love me? Feed my lambs, rams, and ewes.” [John 21:15-17] In another passage, he said to him, “Simon, Satan will ask to sift you like wheat, and I prayed that you not lose your faith; but you, at that time, have compassion on your brethren and strengthen them.” Do you not see that St. Peter is the foundation of the church, selected to shepherd it, that those who believe in his faith will never lose their faith, and that he was ordered to have compassion on his brethren and to strengthen them?
As for Christ’s words, “I prayed for you, that you not lose your faith; but you, have compassion on your brethren, at that time, and and strengthen them,” we do not think that he meant St. Peter himself [and the apostles themselves]. Rather, he meant nothing other than the holders of the seat of St. Peter, that is, Rome, [and the holders of the seats of the apostles]. Just as when he said to the apostles, “I am with you always, until the end of the age,” he did not mean just the apostles themselves, but also those who would be in charge of their seats and their flocks; in the same way, when he spoke his last words to St. Peter, “Have compassion, at that time, and strengthen your brethren; and your faith will not be lost,’ he meant by this nothing but other than the holders of his seat. Yet another indication of this is the fact that among the apostles it was St. Peter alone who lost his faith and denied Christ, which Christ may have allowed to happen to Peter so as to teach us that it was not Peter that he meant by these words. Moreover, we know of no apostle who fell and needed St. Peter to strengthen him. If someone says that Christ meant by these words only St. Peter himself [and the apostles themselves], this person causes the church to lack someone to strengthen it after the death of St. Peter. How could this happen, especially when we see all the sifting of the church that came from Satan after the apostles’ death? All of this indicates that Christ did not mean [them] by these words. Indeed, everyone knows that the heretics attacked the church only after the death of the apostles — Paul of Samosata, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Sabellius, Apollinaris, Origen, and others. If he meant by these words in the gospel only St. Peter [and the apostles themselves], then after [them] the church would have been deprived of comfort and would have had no one to deliver her from those heretics, whose heresies are truly “the gates of hell,” which Christ said would not overcome the church. (13)
Theodore later recounts that when the major heretics, Arius, the one who rejected Christ’s divinity; Macedonius, the one who who rejected the Holy Spirit’s divinity; Nestorius, the one who rejected the full divinity of Christ, and Eutychius, the one who affirmed that Christ’s divinity consumed His humanity, taught and spread their heresies like diseases that consume the flesh, it was the Church of Rome that commanded that Church Councils be conveyed to settle the theological conflicts and vanquish heresy. As Theodore recounts:
Do you not know that when Arius arose, by command of none other than the bishop of Rome, a council was summoned against him. The holy council anathematized Arius and his heresy, and the church accepted this council and rejected Arius, even as in earlier times the church of Antioch had accepted the letter of the apostles and rejected the heretics instructing it to be circumcised and keep the law. When Macedonius arose and said certain things about the Holy Spirit, again, by command of the bishop of Rome, a council was summoned against him at Constantinople. This holy council anathematized him, and the church accepted this council, even as it had accepted the first council, and expelled Macedonius, even as it had expelled Arius. …When Nestorius arose and said certain things of Christ, the church disclaimed his words and, as was their customs, referred him to the holy council. By command of the bishop of Rome, a council against him was summoned at Ephesus. This holy council expelled him and declared his teachings false, and the holy church accepted that council, expelled Nestorius, and rejected his teachings. …When Eutyches and Dioscurus [a supporter of Eutyches] arose and said certain things about Christ, the church disclaimed their words and holy fathers arose to argue against them. Nonetheless, the church accepted the opinion neither of those two nor of those who were arguing against them. Rather, as was their custom, they referred the two to the holy council. By command of the bishop of Rome, the fourth council was summoned against them at Chalcedon. It anathematized them and declared their teachings false, and the church accepted the words of this council, even as it had accepted the first three councils, expelling Eutyches and Dioscorus and rejecting their teachings.” (14)
Both of these statements indicate the catholicity of Theodore Abu Qurrah. His view of Rome as the protector of Orthodoxy, and the bastion against heretics, can only be one subscribed by a Catholic. Would a Reformed Baptist ever say such a thing? He esteems Rome as the protector against heresies, one of which was Islam, for Theodore debated a Muslim over the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, and such a debate further evidences Islam’s protest against the Catholic Church’s doctrine, even that of the Eucharist. In the theological dispute the Muslim told Theodore his objection of the teaching that the Eucharist is the body of Christ, and that it can forgive sins (a very Catholic precept):
Bishop, why do you priests delude the Christians? Given two pieces of bread baked from the same flour, one of you allow to be eaten as common food; the other you distribute in little pieces to the people, calling it “the body of Christ” and affirming that it can forgive the sins of those who partake of it. Do you mock yourselves or those over whom you have charge?” (15)
Now, those like White and his ilk would not hesitate to agree with the Muslim, and utterly reject what Theodore Abu Qurrah told the Muslim in the end of the debate:
The priest puts the bread and wine on the holy altar; and when he prays the sacred Eucharistic prayer, the Holy Spirit descends on the gifts placed there. Through the fire of his divinity, he transforms the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, no less than the liver transforms food into the body of a person. Or don’t you concede, my friend, that the Holy Spirit can do what the liver can do? (16)
Sounds like transubstantiation. Whatever word you wish to use for it, this theological description coming from Abu Qurrah would be wholly rejected by White and his kind, and accepted by both Orthodox and Catholic.
Mr. White, again I must ask you, was Theodore Abu Qurrah wrong? Was he teaching false doctrine? And this is the main question I have for you: Who was right in this debate, the Muslim, or Theodore Abu Qurrah?
White would be supporting the opinion of the Muslim while berating the statement of Theodore. The conversation further vindicates our main affirmation: Islam came to protest the teachings of the Catholic Church.
A pupil of Theodore, John the Deacon, as well believed that all of the heretics, including Muslims, war against the Church of St. Peter, and he praises Theodore Abu Qurrah as a defender of the Church for his contending with the false doctrine of Muhammad:
As I pondered how heretics are at present assaulting the church, how those who are hostile are attacking her, how enemies are rising up against her, it occurred to me to liken such events to sicknesses, which are present in the body of a living being and then gone. This is in accord with the unfalsifiable promise of him who founded the church on the unshakable rock of the faith of Peter, the chief of the apostles — the promise of him who is the head of her body, he who is the Word of the Father and the Holy Spirit, he who like them is without beginning and eternal, he who is equal in dignity. … And because the Lord had promised Peter, the chief of the apostolic choir, that he would lay the church’s foundation on the unshaken rock of his confession, and because he had assured the church that she would overcome the gates of hell, so the opponent of God, up to the present, struggles against the church. He endeavors to throw her down. He plots and contrives to that the essential Truth of God the Father spoke falsely. Charlatans and ‘deceitful workers,’ as it is written, he continually arms against her with corrupting doctrines, as it were, combining sicknesses with sicknesses on every side. While the lover of evil struggles to kill the immortal bride of Christ and endeavors to shut her up within the gates of hell, her bridegroom and lord, who protects those who cling to him, does not overlook those in danger for his sake. Even though, being opposed to God, the tyrant stands in hostile array, continually urging on against her his soul-destroying soldiers, still, against each one her protector sets up in rivalry one of his shield-bearers and defenders, who is easily able to ward off that one’s hands. (One of these, in particular, will be mentioned shortly.) It is clear, accordingly, that the error of idolatry was undone by the victorious and holy martyrs. Similarly, it is clear that the destruction of each of the heretics was accomplished by the assembly of the holy fathers. While there is no need now for us to list these fathers, in that they are everywhere openly mentioned in all the sacred books, the present task induces me to mention them. I am speaking of the most blessed and most philosophical bishop of Haran in Coele Syria, Theodore. In his writings, which were truly inspired by God, he worthily held up to public scorn the impious religion of the Agarenes [Muslims] and showed to all that it was worthily of complete derision. (17)
John the Deacon here not only affirms the Catholic position on St. Peter as the head of the Apostles, but declares that the heretics, in this instance the Muslims, come about to overcome the Church, illustrating quite clearly that Islam originated to obliterate the Catholic Church. And who in the mind of John the Deacon, is trying to overthrow the Catholic Church? The Muslims. Mr. White, tell me, if you were to meet John the Deacon, would he, or would he not, see you as the same, an attacker of his Church?
The Muslims of antiquity who attempted to destroy the Catholic Church, did they not have the same goal as you? and that is, to overthrow Catholic doctrine?
Surely this writing of John the Deacon can be speaking of no other church but the Catholic Church, for no one would ever speak of a church with such terminology unless they were Catholic. John the Deacon praises Theodore Abu Qurrah, the bishop who affirmed the primacy of the Roman Church, and because he was a part of the same Church as Theodore, he most definitely was Catholic. If not, then what was he? Reformed Baptist? Was he Five Point Calvinist?
Theodore Abu Qurrah lived in the height of Islam, so tell us, how different are his beliefs from the Catholics of today?
Let us look to another great father of the Church, Theodore the Studite, who lived and worked laboriously to combat heresy in the 8th century, an early time in Islam’s history.
In his book, On the Holy Icons, Theodore the Studite combated the Iconoclasts, a group of heretics who rejected the Catholic Church’s reverence for Christian icons as idolatry. Although Islam is not mentioned in this book, it most definitely reflects the Orthodox beliefs of Christians in the early days of Islam, in this case the veneration of icons and the Holy Eucharist, and it as well contends with heresies that both Muslims and those like White would agree with, such as the shunning of icons of saints and angels, and the rejection of the Eucharist as the literal body and blood of Jesus.
The Iconoclasts saw the Eucharist as only a symbolic image and memorial of Christ, isolating the passage, “Do this in remembrance of me,” and thus did not believe that it was the actual body and blood of Jesus. Theodore the Studite confronted this assertion:
“We grant,” the heretics say, “that Christ may be represented, but only according to the holy words which we have received from God Himself; for He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ obviously implying that He cannot be represented otherwise than by being remembered. Only this image is true and this act of depiction sacred.” It is sufficient for your refutation that you are clearly contradicting yourself, when you admit that Christ is circumscribed, although previously you denied this. But since it is not right to leave any of your propositions unchallenged, let us proceed to their refutation one by one.
What do you say about these very things to which the priest refers in holy words and hymns? Are they an image or truth? If they are an image, what absurdity! You go from one blasphemy to blasphemy, like those who step into some sort of mud, and in trying to get across fall with both feet into something even more slippery. For you have chosen to fall into atheism in order to keep your argument consistent. But if they are the truth — as indeed they really are, for we confess that the faithful receive the very body and blood of Christ, according to the voice of God — why do you talk nonsense as if the sacraments of the truth were mere symbols?” (18)
White and those like him would agree with the Iconoclasts, that the Eucharist is a mere symbol, and not the body and blood of Jesus. Tell me then, Mr. White, was Theodore the Studite a heretic? Was he teaching idolatry?
In another part of the same book, Theodore the Studite gives quite a fascinating explanation as to the purpose of venerating Christian icons, something both Muslims, and Mr. White, reject:
So whether in an image, or in the Gospel, or in the cross, or in any other consecrated object, God is evidently worshipped “in spirit and in truth,” as the materials are exalted by the raising of the mind toward God. The mind does not remain with the materials, because it does not trust in them: that is the error of the idolaters. Through the materials, rather, the mind ascends toward the prototypes: this is the faith of the orthodox.” (19)
Later in the book Theodore the Studite exclaims with great force that the tradition of icons of Christ, and even the Theotokos, or Mary the Mother of God, goes all the way back to the Apostles, and that those who reject this tradition are heretics:
For evidence, moreover, that we have received from the apostles themselves and have preserved up to the present time the tradition of erecting the icon of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Theotokos [the Mother of God], and of any of the saints — raise your eyes, look around, and see everywhere under heaven, throughout the sacred edifices and the holy monuments in them, these images depicted and necessarily venerated in the places where they are depicted. Even if there were no dogmatic reason nor voices of inspired fathers to uphold both the erection and the veneration of icons, the prevailing ancient tradition would be sufficient for confirmation of the truth. Who can presume to oppose this tradition? By his opposition he falls away far from God and the sheepfold of Christ, because he thinks like the Manicheans and the Valentinians, who babbled heretically that God had dwelt among those on earth in appearance and fantasy. (20)
Mr. White, who here is correct, Theodore the Studite and all of the Catholics who agree with him, or the Manichaeans, the Cathars, and the Muslims who didn’t?
Muhammad thrived in the 7th century, and in order to know what orthodox Christians believed in, we must look to Church records and documents written within and around this same century. A voluminous compilation of Church records written in the 7th and 8th centuries was done by St. Bede, in his History of the English Church, and it is from this volume that we will extract documents contemporary to Muhammad and his earliest followers.
What we find in these records are doctrines thoroughly Catholic, such as the veneration of the Virgin Mary and the saints.
Pope Boniface IV, who would have lived when Muhammad was alive, had the Roman pagan temple of the Pantheon purged of its idolatry and transformed into a church dedicated to Mary and the Martyrs. Would James White ever dedicate his church to Mary and the Martyrs of Christ? As St. Bede records:
After solemn purification, Boniface consecrated it as the Church of the Holy Mother of God and all Christian Martyrs; and once its company of devils had been cast out, it became a memorial of the Company of Saints. (21)
Churches to the “Mother of God”? Again, Mr. White, and all those like him, was Pope Boniface an idolater? The Muslims would have surely hated such an act, and I am sure that you would have agreed with them.
No one reading such an account would refer to such actions as anything but Catholic. I cannot help but be amazed at how some people will read such stories and say, “No, the Christians in Muhammad’s day were not Catholics,” after this story which took place within the same period of Muhammad. In the year 605, Pope Boniface IV summoned a Church council to discuss the procedures for the life of monks and monasticism (another Catholic idea), as Bede recounts:
At this time Mellitus, Bishop of London, visited Rome to acquaint the Pope with the affairs of the Church of the English. This most reverend Pope had summoned a council of the bishops of Italy to draw up regulations for monastic life and discipline, and Mellitus sat with them at this council, which took place on the twenty-seventh of February 610 in the eighth year of the Emperor Phocas. (22)
A Pope summons a council, the Bishop of London, all the way from England, travels there to report to the Pope the details of the the Church of the English, and in the same council, a dialogue on the life of monks and the monastic life is commenced. I see nothing Baptist, nothing Methodist, nothing Presbyterian, nor anything Calvinist about this story. With the talk of popes, Rome, and monks, the only word that can come to mind is Catholic. Monasticism, and the entire idea of monks and monasteries, is despised by hardline Protestants, why on earth would these Christians be anything but Catholic?
In the year 625, the year when Muhammad fought Islam’s first battle, the Battle of Uhud, Pope Boniface IV sent a letter to Ethelburga, Queen of Northumbria, not to discuss the discipline of elders in Baptist churches, or to talk about Five-point Calvinism, no, what the Pope told her every Protestant would anathematize: he gave her the blessing of a saint, St. Peter:
We impart to you the blessing of your protector, blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles. (23)
I don’t know about you, but I have never heard a Reformed Baptist minister call Peter “your protector,” and if the good priest from the parish down the road ever dared to say to one of these pastors “we impart to you the blessing” of Peter, and then calls Peter, “Prince of the Apostles,” he would have to endure a tongue lashing with words like “pagan” and “antichrist” from a pulpit of theological thuggery. Yet this is what the Pope of Muhammad’s day, and thus what Christians in 625, were believing in. They held to the intercession of saints, and popes, and what else could this be called but Catholic?
What about relics? There is no way the Christians of Muhammad’s day could have believed in those things, right? Because we all know that thats unchristian, and pagan, and heretical (in White’s eyes of course). But it turns out that the ancient Christians of the 7th century did in fact believe in relics, relics of the Apostles and the martyrs.
When Wilbrord, the man who brought Christianity to the Frisians of the modern Netherlands (earning him the title, the “Apostle to the Frisians”), got permission in 692 to preach from the prince of Frisia, he immediately went, not to Geneva, but to Rome, to visit not a Calvinist minister, but the Pope, Sergius I, to obtain his blessing, and to receive the relics of the Apostles and the martyrs, so that when he destroyed the pagan temples of Frisia he could put them in the newly built churches that were to replace them. As St. Bede records:
On the first arrival of Frisia, as soon as Wilbrord learned that the prince had granted him permission to preach, he hurried to Rome, where Pope Sergius then ruled the apostolic see, in order to obtain his approval and blessing on the evangelistic work he wished to undertake. He also hoped to obtain from him relics of the blessed Apostles and martyrs of Christ, so that when he had destroyed the idols and built churches among the people to whom he preached, he might have the relics of the saints ready to put in them. And when he had deposited them, he intended to dedicate these places fittingly in honour of each of the saints whose relics they were. (24)
These are the Christians who lived around the time of Muhammad. Mr. White, are these pagans? Are they apostates? Was Wilbrord wrong? Was Pope Sergius I heretical?
Pope Sergius I is referred to by St. Bede as the one who “ruled the apostolic see”, that is, the Catholic Church. The Christian missionary does not go to a Baptist minister for approval, but the dreaded Papacy, and to even vex the spirits of the ant-Catholics even more, he requests for relics to be given to him. Anyone who wishes to object to the point of this article, I ask, if this is not Catholic, than what in the world is it? Most definitely it is not what James White and his ilk are. I don’t see White, and those like him, requesting for relics, or visiting the Pope, rather, I see him, and the Muslims, attacking these very things, while at the same time claiming the Church Fathers for himself, and for his church.
In the year 658 (just 26 years after Muhammad’s death in 632), an abbot named Sexwulf gave a request to Wulfhere, king of Mercia (in what is today’s England), to be allowed to build a monastery to revere the Virgin Mary:
I have here ‘godfrihte’ [God-fearing] monks who wish to spend their lives as anchorites, if they knew where. And there is an island here, where is called Anchorets-isle, and my desire is, that we might build a minister there to the glory of St. Mary, so that those may dwell therein who wish to lead a life of peace and rest. (25)
What did the king do? Did he shun the abbot away as a heretic? Did he call him an idolater? Did he object and say that such a monastery would be unbiblical? Not at all. Like a good Catholic, King Wulfhere joyously approved and granted the request:
Behold, Sexwulf, lo! not only that one which thou hast desired, but all things which I know thee to desire on our Lord’s behalf, I thus approve and grant. (26)
In the 8th century, over 70 years after Muhammad, when the Caliph al-Walid I reigned over the Muslim world, Wilfrid, the Bishop of York, had a vision of the Archangel Michael, telling him that God had his life preserved, not by believing in John Calvin, or reformed theology (heavens no), but by the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The story is a delight to the Catholic, but a dread to the Calvinist, and yet this is what the Christians of Islam’s earliest days accepted with bliss, the same Christians who Muhammad wanted dead. Wilfird reported his vision to a priest named Acca, and it reads as follows:
I have seen a momentous vision, which I want you to keep secret until I know God’s will for me. There stood beside me a noble being in white robes, who told me that he was Michael the Archangel. “I am come to recall you from death,” he said, “for our Lord has granted you life at the prayers of your brethren and the intercession of his blessed Mother the ever-virgin Mary.” (27)
In one story monks desire to have a place to adore the Virgin Mary, and in another a bishop has a vision in which he is told by the Archangel Michael that his life was preserved through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Such events are as Catholic as Catholic can be, and they all happened in Islam’s earliest days, reflecting the collective view of ancient Christians within this time period.
James White took issue with my belief that Islam came to declare war on the Catholic Church. In his diatribe against what I said, he asserted that I was wrong to say that the Christians in Muhammad’s day were all Catholics, and in his attempt to refute this he pointed to the Donatists as examples of Christians. I took a clip of his statement:
When I refer to the Orthodox Christian beliefs during Islam’s advent, I am referring to actual Christians who were a part of the Church, and not schismatic heretics such as the Donatists, of whom St. Augustine wrote, “they even fail to recognize the Church on the authority of the divine writings.” (28)
Firstly, the Donatist were not Christians of the Apostolic See, or the Church whose lineage goes back to the Apostles, as the Church of the Fathers, such as Augustine, St. John of Damascus, St. Theodore the Studite, Theodore Abu Qurrah, and many other learned men who fought heresies. St. Augustine warned against a certain hyper charismatic Donatist priest who urged a Catholic that an angel commanded him to tell him to join the Donatist church. In his warning, Augustine writes that Donatists have no Apostolic succession, in that they cannot trace their origin to the Apostles, where as the Catholic Church can trace itself back to St. Peter. He gives a list of the bishops of the Catholic Church from Peter onward, and then states emphatically that not a single Donatist is found in the list:
If therefore, while you hold to these promises, an angel from heaven should say to you: “Give up the Christianity of the world, and lay hold of the sect of Donatus, whose origin is explained for you in a letter of a bishop of your city,” he ought to be anathema, because he is trying to cut you off from the whole and to push you into a part, and to make you a stranger to the promises of God. For, if the order of succession of bishops is to be considered, how much more surely, truly and safely do we number them from Peter, to whom, as representing the whole Church, the Lord said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
For, to Peter succeeded Linus, to Linus Clement, to Clement Anacletus, to Anacletus Evaristus, to Evaristus Sixtus, to Sixtus Telesphorus, to Telesphorus Hyginus, to Hyginus Anicetus, to Anicetus Pius, to Pius Soter, to Soter Alexander, to Alexander Victor, to Victor Zephyrinus, to Zephyrinus Calistus, to Calistus Urban, to Urban Pontian, to Pontian Antherus, to Antherus Fabian, to Fabian Cornelius, to Cornelius Lucius, to Lucius Stephen, to Stephen Sixtus, to Sixtus Dionysus, to Dionysus Felix, to Felix Eutychian, to Eutychian Gaius, to Gaius Marcellus, to Marcellus Eusebius, to Eusebius Melchiades, to Melchiades Sylvester, to Sylvester Marcus, to Marcus Julius, to Julius Liberius, to Liberius Damasus, to Damasus Sircius, to Siricius Anastasius. In this order of succession not a Donatist bishop is found.” (29)
Secondly, the Donatists cannot be considered Christians, for “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16), and the fruit of the Donatist is nothing but rotten rubbish, exuding a stench of pure evil.
In the time of St. Augustine, the Church was dealing with a most dangerous sect of heretics called the Donatists, founded by Donatus. They were schismatics who broke away from the Catholic Church, and believed with shameless pride that the true church was to be found in Africa alone. In doing this they became very insurrectionist, and like all heretics, tried to replace the Catholic Church. (30)
They held a fanatic belief in martyrdom, reminiscent to that of the Muslim. They would attack pagan idols simply to be killed by the pagans; they would willfully seek death unlike true Christian martyrs who simply accepted their end when it came. They would threaten armed men with death if they did not kill them. If they could not find someone to spill their blood, they would jump off cliffs or drown or burn themselves alive. They burnt down homes, stabbed Christians with swords, beat men almost to death, and took others and tied them to millstones and afflicted them with blows. They would also a throw a liquid made up of vinegar and lime into the eyes of Christians to blind them. They took a bishop and severed off his hands and tongue, burnt down churches, threw Bibles into the flames, and even massacred Catholics. (31)
They attacked the Bishop of Bagai in his church, beat him with clubs and stabbed him in the groin. As they dragged his body, with a trail of blood following him, some dirt clogged the wound and stopped the bleeding, sustaining him from death. They dropped his body, and the Christians tried to carry him away. But anger seized the Donatists and they grabbed him again and drove the Christians away with viscousness and kicks. They thought the Bishop was dead and so they tossed him into a tower. He landed on a soft surface, and was discovered in the evening by some good samaritans who rescued and brought him to a church where he was revived. The Bishop then requested from the Roman emperor that laws be passed to protect the Church from these heretics. (32)
When ISIS declared that they wanted to conquer Rome, Sister Henid Haddad, a Lebanese Catholic nun, declared with great and apostolic zeal:
The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church… We derive our strength in the resurrection of Christ. Those who bark like dogs don’t scare us.
Where do we find such zeal amongst James White and his ilk? No where. They are too busy attacking the Catholic Church, just like the Muslims.
White labels me as following “medievalism” simply because I believe on the cause of the Crusades. But such a label, I accept with honor.
EXCLAIMER: The views presented in this article do not represent the views of everyone on Shoebat.com
(1) (Chron. Theophan. Annus Mundi 6127, 6135)
(2) (Guibert of Nogent, book 1, p. 33, ed. Echo Library)
(3) St. John of Damascus, On Heresies, 101, trans. Frederic H. Chase, Jr., brackets mine
(4) St. John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.13, trans. Frederich H. Chase, Jr.
(5) (St. John of Damascus, On Heresies, 101, trans. Frederich H. Chase, Jr.)
(6) (Heresies, 42)
(7) (Three Homilies on Dormition, Sermon 1, trans. Mary H. Allies)
(9) (Ibid, Sermon 2)
(10) (Ibid, Sermon 1)
(11) (St. John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.14, trans. Frederich H. Chase, Jr.)
(12) (Theodore Abu Qurrah, Discerning the True Church, ch. 6, B164, trans. John C. Lamoreux)
(13) (Theodore Abu Qurrah, Discerning the True Church, ch. 6, B164-B165, trans. John C. Lamoreux)
(14)(Theodore Abu Qurrah, Discerning the True Church, ch. 6, B166-167, trans. John C. Lamoreux, ellipses and brackets mine)
(15) (Theodore Abu Qurrah, Discerning the True Church, part iv, ch. 18, Refutations of the Saracens by Theodore Abu Qurrah, the Bishop of Haran, as Reported by John the Deacon, GKh108, trans. John C. Lamoreux)
(16) (Ibid, GKh110)
(17) (Theodore Abu Qurrah, Discerning the True Church, part iv, ch. 18, Refutations of the Saracens by Theodore Abu Qurrah, the Bishop of Haran, as Reported by John the Deacon, GKh86, trans. John C. Lamoreux, ellipses mine)
(18) (Theodore the Studite, On the Holy Icons, 1.10, trans. Catharine P. Roth)
(19) (Ibid, 1.13)
(20) (Ibid, 2.49)
(21) (St. Bede, Hist. 2.4, trans. Leo-Sherley Price)
(23) (Bede, Hist. 2.11)
(24) (St. Bede, Hist. 5. 11)
(25) (The Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 657)
(27) (St. Bede, Hist. 5.19)
(28) (Augustine, On the Treatment of the Donatists, ch. 2, trans. Sister Wilfrid Parsons)
(29) (Augustine, Letter 53, trans. Sister Wilfrid Parsons)
(30) *Augustine, On the Treatment of the Donatists, chs. 1, 3, trans. Sister Wilfrid Parsons, The Fathers of the Church, vol. 30*
(31) *Augustine, On the Treatment of the Donatists, chs. 12, 15, 18, 30; letter 88*
(32) *Augustine, On the Treatment of the Donatist, chs. 27-8*