Friedrich Ulrich Calixt
Friedrich Ulrich Calixt was born in Helmstedt in 1622. His father, Georg Calixt, was a well-known theologian at the University of Helmstedt. Young Calixt studied philosophy and medicine at Helmstedt and Leipzig before turning to the study of theology. In 1650, he became professor of theology at Helmstedt and, in 1652, he became a Doctor of Theology. He upheld the theological opinions of his father, dubbed ‘Calixtinian,’ which argued against the claim to the theological and ecclesiastical exclusivity of Lutheran orthodoxy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the whole seventeenth century of Helmstedt theology was dominated by the two Calixts: the younger Calixt and his more famous father. For his views, the elder Calixt had been accused of ‘syncretism’ and being a ‘crypto-Catholic’ during the Syncretic Controversy, which set the more extremist Lutheran theologians of Wittenberg, led by Abraham Calov, against the more liberal Lutheran theologians of Helmstedt. The Syncretic Controversy (1640-1686) was a theological debate provoked by the elder Calixt and his supporters; they wanted to provide a means to bridge the gap between Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and the Reformed churches. After the assumption of his professorship at Helmstedt, the younger Calixt renewed the Syncretic Controversy in 1662, arguing that all sects of Christianity contain some of the universal truths needed for salvation. He viewed the first five centuries of the Church as a pure and nearly uncorrupted age, with the worst heresies and corruption setting in afterwards. He believed the Roman Catholic Church was the most corrupt due to the papacy’s claims to supremacy and superstitious additions to fundamental articles of the faith, but he was also critical of various aspects of Reformed and Lutheran theology. Calixt was, therefore, in favor of religious tolerance between sects, but he was hesitant about reunification with the Catholic Church. In 1684, Calixt was appointed Abbot of the monastery in Königslutter and he died in Helmstedt in 1701.1
Variant Names: Friderico Ulrico Calixto, Friderici Ulrici Calixti, Frid. Ulricus Calixtus, and Friedericus Ulricus Calixtus.
Summary and Analysis
Calixt begins his dissertation by saying that, while Muslims do not reject Christian scripture and nominally accept the Old and New Testaments, Muslim understanding of scripture is deficient since they give priority to the Qur’an. He maintains that many Christians, chiefly Catholics, are guilty of giving the same weight to oral traditions as to scripture as do Muslims, and this sets the stage for his critique of Islamic and Christian sects. He also analyzes the Qur’an for similarities and differences between the Qur’an and the Christian scripture, such as passages from the Qur’an that support the virgin birth and others that deny the divinity of Christ. He also cites Luther’s unfavorable comparison of Muslims to Catholics, saying that Muslims are cruel and slaughter Christians, while Muhammad advocated conversion by force rather than persuasion, hence, Catholics are no better. In fact, Calixt maintains the Pope persecutes non-Catholic Christians more than the Turks.
According to Calixt, a religion that did not always exist cannot be true, and since Muhammad’s religion began in the seventh century, then it must be false. However, he fails to say whether Christianity’s origin lay in Creation. Furthermore, he says that Muhammad was an illiterate camel herder who came into wealth when he married a rich woman. With few followers, Muhammad could not establish himself as king as he wished to do, so instead used his wife’s wealth and his cunning charisma to claim that he was a prophet of God. Calixt asserts that Muhammad used force instead of reason to make others accept his claims, just as Catholics compel non-believers to join the Holy Mother Church. Although the Turks, in an apparent contradiction of an earlier policy, allowed Christians to worship freely, this was to ensnare and entrap them. Calixt explains that Muhammad’s sources for his religion, having much in common with Christianity, came from a heretical monk named Sergius, who converted Muhammad from paganism to Nestorian Christianity. It was the heretical Nestorian doctrine that Christ was not crucified that gave rise to that false teaching in Islam. Therefore, for Calixt, Islam is nothing other than a reformulation of a heretical sect of Christianity.
Following a brief aside into the etymology of Saracen and the Saracens’ relationship to Muslims, Arabs, and Turks, Calixt considers the demise of Islam, citing the opinions of those who believed that Gog and Magog refer to the Turks. He also cites a Turkish prophecy in which Christians will be conquered—only to rise up and put the Turks to flight. Turks and Muslims, however, will not be defeated until Christians cease their evil ways and love one another as brothers. Calixt then discusses selected biblical passages that support the claim that Islam will disappear and all people, including Muslims, will convert to Christianity before Christ’s final coming. This is followed by a detailed discussion of the etymology and possible identity of Gog and Magog, the man and land, respectively.
According to Calixt, although Muslims accept the divine provenance of Christian scripture, they believe that the Christians erased the future coming of Muhammad. Dismissing this as false, he says that many Muslims will need convincing by reasoned argument if they are to convert to Christianity. Neither Moses, nor the prophets, nor the Evangelists prophesized the coming of Muhammad, but Jesus is superior
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Figure 2.1 Friedrich Ulrich Calixt, De religione Muhammedana dissertatio, 1687 (Courtesy of the Bavarian State Library, Munich).
to him because he was born of a virgin while Muhammad was not and was resurrected while Muhammad was not. Even so, Muslims should be easier to convert than Jews, since the former, unlike the latter, recognize the truth of the New Testament.
At this point, Calixt presents a lengthy account of salvation and how Muslims might be converted using Christian scripture. He says that those who want to convert Muslims must focus on the fundamentals and not be distracted by arguments about issues that cause doctrinal differences in Christianity. These differences cause difficulties for the prospective convert to know which path leads to salvation. The answer, for Calixt, is to embrace all those teachings which are agreed upon by all Christian sects. Pernicious teachings can be identified when there is no such unanimity, and he gives examples of false teachings in Greek Orthodox, Reformed, and Lutheran Christianity—although he reserves most of his criticism for Catholicism, which emphasizes traditions not found in the Bible. Calixt concludes with an appeal for unity and consensus among the many Christian sects, for only in unity can Christians hope to convert unbelievers to their faith.
Unlike other Lutheran authors, Calixt’s dissertatio is a clear indication of his close engagement with the Syncretic movement, which supported the idea of conversion and ecumenism. As the Calixtinians wanted to create a bridge between Lutherans and other Christian sects, including Roman Catholics and the Reformed Church, the struggle between the Orthodox Lutheran theologians of Wittenberg against the more liberal Calixtinian theologians of Helmstedt reached an impasse toward the end of the seventeenth century. Therefore, for Calixt, unlike Orthodox Lutherans, Muslims are not just a tool to criticize Catholicism, but present an opportunity to save souls through the adoption of universal basic Christian teachings, which are unanimously agreed upon. For him, only unity among Christian sects can accomplish this goal of conversion.
Dissertation on Muhammadan Religion
Muslims do not reject the canonical scripture completely, but nominally accept the books of the Old and New Testament. However, they do not read or pay attention to the passages they should: indeed, they claim that the Scriptures are deficient in many ways. Also, it is a serious discredit to the Christian religion that even Christians are guilty of treating divinely revealed scripture as no better than incomplete unwritten traditions; just as the Saracens and Persians do not so much add the traditions as believed and recorded in the wicked Muhammad’s absurd Qur’an to both Testaments, but rather they greatly prefer the Qur’an.
Moreover, Muslims recognize that Christ was born from a virgin. They consider and value Jesus as a great prophet, in whom the very soul of almighty God was placed. Muhammad spoke in God’s persona in Q. 2:253, “We raised some prophets in rank above others, and then some of them spoke with God. We gave Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, strength and virtue above others and blessed him with the Holy Spirit.” Although the Qur’an seems to understand Christ sufficiently, yet it says that he was inferior to the grim and bloody Muhammad. But it is not too surprising that Muslims consecrate the mind of God to Christ, since they attribute another part of the divine soul to men formed from clay. This mystery is revealed in Q. 15:28-29 with these words: “I said to the angels that I will create a man formed of clay, and I breathed a portion of my spirit into him.” The verse speaks again in God’s persona. Since men have a portion or a part of God’s spirit, Christ can have part of God’s spirit while still being a man. But the viewpoint that Christ’s soul is in communication with that of God in the same way as souls of other men is absurd. Every aspect of God’s spirit is part of His divine essence. Therefore, if Muslims concede that an aspect of God lives in Christ, they should say that the whole essence of God is in Christ, and that the two are therefore one and the same, and Christ is the true God.
Muslims deny the divinity of Christ again and again. Since Christians constantly affirm what Muslims deny without any fear of opposition or falsehood, Muslims call Christians ‘associates’ (al-mushrikun) on the grounds that they associate and join Christ with God, the Creator of heaven and earth. On the associating with the other God, Sura 25 in the Qur’an can be consulted; in the beginning as in other places, the worship of one God is foisted:
Can those who associate another god with God really know the truth? Those who do so are engaging in contradiction and harming their own minds. You all should worship one God, and may you not cease to call upon Him until death comes, by humbling and abasing yourselves and pouring out your prayers.
Sura 14 says: “The unbelievers (Christians) place Christ as identical and equal to God (made like Him and consubstantial to Him).” This is the chief disagreement between Muslims and Christians; however, there are many other disagreements which betray the vanity of the religion that Muslims argue for and treat as a divine oracle. They impudently peddle these and other such beliefs.
Therefore, Muslims attribute nothing to Christ—whom they neither recognize as the Father or consubstantial with Him—above and beyond the dignity of a prophet. They also associate many others with him, among whom they do not even grant Christ the honor of the highest position. ‘Muslims only admit three prophets,’ says Volaterranus, ‘whom they call rasiil, or Messenger: Muhammad, Moses, and Christ, whom they yet do not consider God in any way.’ To these three, Munsterus in his Cosmography adds a fourth, namely, David, prophet of kings, to whom the Psalms were given from heaven when the law of Moses had been weakened. In one way, Muhammad is the last and best and greatest of these men, the one who stands above them all, “just as the moon among the lesser stars”; however, that very man [Muhammad] is a false prophet and the worst impostor.
The Qur’an, dictated by Muhammad himself, shows this belief to his followers. For the sake of brevity, it would not be reasonable to give all possible examples of this. Just as Islam is a doctrine of faith, it is also a doctrine of morals. Instead of “the sanctimony without which no one will see God,” Muslims show a different sort of sanctity, demonstrated by their religious ceremonies. The spectators of this sufficiently laborious ostentation observe many religious superstitions. Concerning this specious sanctity, which exceeds even that of the Christians, our B. Luther in his preface to the History of the Saracens or Turks, published in Basel in 1543, recounts: “We see from this book that the religion of the Turks and Muhammad is more specious by far in terms of its ceremonies than those of our own religious fanatics and clerics.” After Luther tells about some of the practices in the Catholic Church, he mentions “specious ceremonies, shavings, hoods, pale complexions, fasting, feast days, canon hours, the whole appearance of the Roman Church throughout the world; in all of these the Turks far outstrip them.” Meanwhile, they are so far removed from love and humanity to their neighbor that no human blood can sate their cruelty. Muslims are more rapacious than any vulture and they are always grasping at another’s life and fortune. Undertaking a speech about war against barbarians, which provoked the Turks to slaughter Christians, the Byzantine emperor John VI Kantakouzenos expounded Muhammad’s moral theology in these words:
The teacher and leader of error, Muhammad, clearly persuaded his men, who have lived chastely here, that whoever fights against us or dies or kills as many of us as possible would enjoy the immortal prizes which have been set aside for them.
Muslims do not persuade people of their prophet’s dogma through reason but propagate it by force. Indeed, Muhammad completely forbade that the truth of his dogmas should be disputed or questioned. Having conducted life most evilly in this age, Muslims hope it will continue more wickedly in the afterlife. Naturally, they place the highest blessedness of the next life in bodily pleasures: food, drink, and sex. However, with what little rationality remains to them, Muslims know that these things are inconsequential. Therefore, their reason does not reach perfection as their religion is naturally imperfect. Although Muslims teach that their religion follows the course of reason, it is in fact opposed to reason. In his refutation of al-Ghazàlï’s The Incoherence of the Philosophers, Averroes wrote that al-Ghazalï disagreed with philosophers, and with Muslim theologians, who are known to be loquacious. Indeed, it is not difficult to prove this with examples, and it was not long before Hieronymus [Girolamo] Savonarola alleviated me in this task, as he demonstrated in his short commentary, titled “Muhammadan sect lacks all reason,” which was included in Confutatio Legis Machumeticae (Refutation of the Muhammadan Law). Avicenna explains the theology of Muhammad, which he condemns in no uncertain terms, and at the same time indicates something greater, of which there is not the slightest evidence in the Qur’an. Thus, he wrote in Metaphysics 7, Chapter 9:
Our law, which Muhammad gave, relates to an ordering of happiness and misery which arises from the body. Wise theologians were much more desirous for true happiness rather than happiness of the body. If the happiness of the body is granted to them, it does not compare in value to the true happiness of intellectual union with the first truth, which is the blessed God. But since we wallow in this age and in this body in many wicked acts, we do not feel that spiritual delight, nor seek it, nor are we drawn to it, unless we first shake the yoke of pleasure, anger, and female lovers from our necks. When we do, then, the paralysis will be removed and we will look on true delight, which is with the King of Ages, who is the blessed God.
Every sound mind knows that a religion that did not exist from the beginning and whose inventor is known is not a true religion. Since the beginning of Muhammad’s religion—or rather, superstition—is very well known, it cannot be a true religion. That grievous religion, with the permission of God angry with mortals, lay on the earth for a thousand years and more. The impostor and false prophet Muhammad appeared in the seventh century under Heraclius, around the year of Christ 622. In the manner usual to impostors, he did not immediately burst onto the world stage, but spread secretly for ten years like a virus in his native Mecca. As soon as he arrived with a new law, he began to attract followers and divided the community. When his fellow Meccans rose against him, Muhammad was forced into exile and withdrew to Medina, where he spent his forty-fourth year. Medina was once called Yathrib, a small town ten-days distant from Mecca. After Medina gave sanctuary to Muhammad, it became known as madmat al-nabï, which means ‘the prophet’s city.’ Clearly, the false prophet located the seat of his power there.
That flight of the false prophet is so venerated among Muslims that they began to count their years from it and took it as the beginning of their era. That is why the ‘Epoch of the Saracens’ comes from the name
Muhammadan Religion 87 hijra, which means ‘flight’ in Arabic. Joseph Scaliger speaks well on this matter:
Since Islam apes Christianity in many ways, it gives the beginning of its era the same name, which the Christians took from Diocletian. As the age of Diocletian was called ‘the age of martyrs,’ the Islamic era was called hijra, from the Arabic root hajara, that is, ‘religious persecution’.
The time of this most auspicious flight was the sixteenth of July 622 A.D., on the fifth day, according to the average calculation, or the sixth according to the phase of the moon. Ulugh Beg [d. 1449] states in Epochs that Muslims count the months of this epoch from the phase of the new moon to the phase of the following new moon, and this interval never exceeds thirty days nor is it less than twenty-nine, so that there are four months following alternately of thirty days, and three of twenty-nine. Thus, the years and months are truly lunar, according to their usage.
Muhammad’s natural gifts and strength of character went far enough so that he did not lack instruments of malice, but he was a sly and shapeshifting man, ignorant of letters, since he could neither read nor write as he himself says in Q. 7:158: “Emulate the prophet and messenger, who is illiterate.” And shortly after says: “Believe in Him (meaning God, of course), and me, His messenger, who is ignorant of reading and writing. So, believe Him and His precepts wholeheartedly.” As Muhammad was sent into service for the business of Khadija, the daughter of Hulert, he lacked the opportunity to learn to read and write. A most learned anonymous Christian disputer says that slavery ‘made Muhammad a servant to Khadija and the camels.’ He recounts that
after Muhammad became rich from the wealth of a woman he married, he tried to seize rule over his tribe and home country. When he attempted this, he was unable to do things as he liked, since he still had only a few followers. As he could not be a king, he used his great skill and character to pretend to be the prophet of God and a messenger.
Muhammad speaks of himself in the Qur’an, Q. 93:6-7: “Through dawn and dusk, God will never send you away, who found you as an orphan” (for he was a ward of his uncle, ‘Abd al-Muttalib) “and an unbeliever” (indeed in the beginning he was a worshipper of idols, and then became a Nestorian) “and taught you the correct path, and having found you a poor man made you rich.”
Muhammad did not invite others to join the new worship or persuade them of the dogmas of his new religion with rational arguments butpromoted his superstition with violence. Muhammad says that “anyone who does not obey his law should die, unless they give tribute.” That Christian disputer cited above recounts Muhammad’s behavior, rebuking, and berating him:
You have never read in the divine scripture that some were turned to God violently with the sword, by pillage, and by being taken captive as your friend [Muhammad] had done. Muhammad ordered those he coerced to obey himself. He coerced his sect not with his shrewdness and ingenious talking alone, but with the sword, violence, oppression and pillaging. It was never heard before Muhammad: ‘Whoever will not confess me as a prophet of the lord of ages, I will strike him with the sword. Everyone, whoever he is, even my progeny, if they act similarly I will both seize his house and throw all of his family into captivity’.
Muslim superstition was propagated and increased and became strong by the sacrilegious impostor’s effort, through mere violence, wars, and theft. However, many who wanted to be considered Christians were not able to damn and execrate such violence of men in the name of religion. But is not the same tragedy played today with different characters? Certainly, I should have justly and rightly rebuked the ‘friends of Loyola,’ who inciting the same high treasons as the wicked and bloody ‘friends of Muhammad,’ which they did, with the same words as the ‘anonymous Christian disputer.’ I wish none of these things that have been said of ‘Muhammad’s violent convertors,’ could be also said of the ‘violent Catholic convertors,’ who go to teach and preach the gospel surrounded by mounted soldiers! But this is equally true of these men. For what violence was not committed by the Saracens which the Christians do not also perpetrate against other Christians today? Are they forced today to superstitious acceptance by ‘the sword, oppression, devastation, pillaging, and captivity’ more gently than those whose necks are bent under the baneful Turkish yoke?
Although Muslims could compel anyone to deny their own religion by the law of the Qur’an, they noticed it was more profitable for their state to tolerate other religions, using the forceful collection of taxes [i.e., jizya, the collection of a tax that guarantees tolerance for Christians]; as a result, non-Muslims no longer had to observe Muslim dogma. Johann Wolf states: “The Turks force no one to deny their religion, although in the Qur’an it was ordered that they [Muslims] wipe out their [religious] opponents. Why, therefore, do Papists want to be worse than the Turks?.” Again, Johann Wolf says
The Turk indulges in public peace for Catholics in Greece and elsewhere, not indeed because the Turk wishes peace on any Christian,
Muhammadan Religion 89 but because, thereby, they draw more to the snare and entice them to obedience. The Turks see that the Roman Pontiff, whom Christians make a god, persecutes those who are of a different religion to his own, with monstrous violence. The Turks, more humanely and mercifully, leave the worship of whatever god to each man’s conscience. In this, of course, they act kinder towards Christians than the Roman Pope, who murders them most monstrously with the sword, fire, and water. The Pope prefers to tolerate, foster, and love whoever is the most wicked idol worshipper, Sodomite, and Jew as his followers.
It is certainly most ignominious to the Christian name that some Christians are persecuted under Christian majesty like pagans, while others live more freely under Turkish rule with a pure and simple heart.
Otherwise, we would be surprised such firm foundations could be laid with such daily impiety and strong tyranny within a few years. For Muhammad himself did not survive long after his flight, but breathed his unhappy last in the eleventh year after he fled from Mecca, in the year 633 A.D. But just as he was always eager to imitate Christ and his miracles like an ape, so he did not fear to say that “he would return from the dead on the third day and rise again to the living.” On Muhammad’s prophecy, Volaterranus wrote:
Before Muhammad died, he predicted that he would go to heaven. His followers, waiting long for this, were at last forced by the foul smell to consign him to a tomb in the city of Mecca, which they visit as we visit Jerusalem.
The Christian disputer cited earlier describes the same thing as Humbrem recounts: “That thing,” he says,
is so ridiculous to us, and so lamentable to them, when Muhammad ordered them not to bury his dead body, on the grounds that he would be taken to heaven on the third day. They themselves, observing this order, awaited it with great longing, and now tired from the long wait on the second day, realized that nothing rose up in him, except for a great stench, and at last buried him naked.
Muhammad’s religion lasted for a thousand years and more through the will of a God angry with mortals. Even if it lasts until the end of the world, this would not prove the truth of this religion, but rather its falseness, since its origins are well-known. For Islam did not exist for as long as human beings have existed but owes its birth to a man’s desperate malice. Muhammad, indeed, was converted to Christianity from idolatry through a Nestorian heresy, which usurped the name of Christianity.
He was converted by the efforts of a certain fugitive monk, whose name was Sergius. On this man the writer above says:
Since the monk Sergius had sinned grievously in his monastery, he was excommunicated and expelled. He came to the region of Cuhenna, and from there he went down to Mecca where there were two peoples, one a worshipper of idols and the other Jewish. There he found Muhammad, who worshipped idols. Since Sergius wanted to please the monks who expelled him and merit reconciliation, he persuaded Muhammad to abandon idols and become a Nestorian Christian. Muhammad became his student, and he called himself Nestorius because of this. The monk taught Muhammad something about the Old and New Testament, and he weaved it into his Qur’an mendaciously and dishonestly.
From this, it should be obvious that Islam derives from Christianity, since from its very beginning it was nothing other than a certain sect and heresy. It is, therefore, not surprising that it has many similarities to Christianity, so much so that they should not be called ‘halfChristians,’ as Erasmus does, but, rather, to use Joseph Scaliger’s words ‘apes of the Christians.’ Clearly, they seem to differ from us in the most important matters, but in the smallest, they seem the same. Although Muslims do not shrink in horror at Christ, as the Jews do, the principal intention of Muhammad is to persuade us that “Christ is neither God nor the son of God, but a certain holy and wise man; he was the greatest prophet and was born from a [biological] father and a virgin.”
Christians never gloried in Muhammad’s conversion, even for a short time. For it was more ignominious than honorable and glorious to produce such a vicious enemy and persecutor of men, a false prophet and impostor as Muhammad was. However, the monk Sergius chased after thanks from the men who expelled and proscribed him, on the grounds that he made a Christian similar to himself (i.e., a Nestorian heretic), from the idol worshipper Muhammad. Nor did he reflect much about the salvation of the man who turned away from worshipping idols and converted to Nestorian treachery. For just as the Nestorians perish, so he himself perished; and everyone bewitched by Muslim superstition perishes. Instead, Sergius caused the worst problems for Christianity by drawing [Muhammad] away from idol worship. If he had remained in idol worship, he would not have been condemned by Christians, as he was a false Christian after his conversion, and later, became a false prophet. If Muhammad had remained an idol worshipper, his descendants would not have acquired such great strength, by which the Christian world tragically lost a great part of itself. Since Muhammad became a Nestorian Christian, he left some obvious traces of Nestorianism in Islam.
One such alleges that “Christ was not killed by the Jews, or crucified, but another man like him was.” Although [Franciscan Friar] Richard, in his Refutation of the Law of the Saracens, says that “Muhammad agrees in these matters with the Manicheans and Jacobites,” he agrees in these matters more with Nestorius, who thus berates Christ’s executioners, “Do not rejoice for Judea, since you crucified not God, but a man.” In this at any rate he is worse than Nestorius, since he recognizes nothing divine in Christ. Nestorius did not deny Christ’s divinity, although he falsely claims [two] distinct persons, one crucified and the other not, as there are two natures joining the divine and human in Christ. Nestorius said that “he does not want to worship one who was nourished with milk for two months, nor one who fled to Egypt, or to call them God.” Nestorians do not fear to strike with anathema those who “say that Mary gave birth to God.” Another eminent man, Anastasius An-tiochenus said: “No one should call Mary one who gave birth to God as Mary was human. For God cannot be born from a human.” Is it from this Nestorian root that all denial of Christ’s divinity was sifted into Muhammad’s corrupt brain like a pitchfork? But this is incidental to the obvious traces of Nestorianism in Islam.
The general name that Muhammad’s descendants chose for themselves is ‘Saracens,’ although they should have derived their name from Ishmael, the son of the slave girl Hagar, rather than from Sara, after whom they are also commonly called Ishmaelites. In the words of the praiseworthy historian Sozomenus:
Indeed this race of ‘Muslim’ Saracens drew its origin and took its name from Ishmael, the son of Abraham; and moreover, people used to call them Ishmaelites because of their ancestor. With this, they completely erased the stain of their spurious lineage, and the commonness of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, for she was a slave, and called themselves Saracens, as if they were born from Sara the wife of Abraham.
The etymology of the Arabic word Saracens is derived from ‘Sarac,’ which means seized, plundered, or mad. Since the word Saracens means mad and pillagers, many people today use it for the Turks. As there were many races living by plunder, this word was applied to all plunderers, as well as specific pillagers or others of this same kind. Ammianus Marcel-linus meaningfully describes the Saracens’ ways in words worth quoting here. He says,
the Saracens, never wanting either to be friends or enemies with us, roaming everywhere, devastated whatever they found like greedy kites who never delay. If they look down on their prey from on high they seize it in rapid flight.
The origins of the Muslim superstition are as certain as its ending is ambiguous and doubtful. We cannot know for certain whether or not Islam will endure to the end of the time or descend to Hell like Muhammad and Sergius. There are those who want to interpret Revelation 20:8-9 concerning the invasion of Gog and Magog, and the repression and killing to be about Turks. They believe with such certainty that the predicted disaster and ruin will befall the Turks, and think the killing [of the Turks] will be among the signs to come before the Last Day of Judgement. Josephus also supports this conjecture. He considers the Scythian race was derived from Magog, the son of Japheth. “Magog,’ he says, ‘was the originator of those called Magogi, who called themselves Scythians.” Therefore, it is very probable that the cited passage of Revelation refers to the Scythians or the Turks, who after some centuries occupied the region of the Scythians and succeeded them. Theodoret and many others have read the works of Josephus. However, some interpreters, most notably Jerome, disagree. I am unsure that the interpretation of Revelation refers to the Turks, but I hope that this is the case, and that disaster quickly overtakes them. Perhaps, with God’s kindness to Christians, this ruin will befall the Saracen race before long. Among all the prophecies of their fanatical prophets, the Turks hold none more certain than the prophecy, which foretells their numerous victories over our race and our ultimate destruction. Bartholomew Georgiewitz translated this prophecy from common Turkish to Latin and illustrated it with notes. The translation has this kind of tone:
Our Sultan will come and take the kingdom of the pagan prince and its red apple, and bring it into his power; but if the sword of the Christians does not rise in rebellion in the seventh year, they will be ruled over until the twelfth year; they will build houses, they will plant vines, they will fortify the gardens with fences, they will produce children; after the twelfth year since the red apple was put in the Turks’ power, the sword of the Christians will appear and put the Turks to flight, scattering them in all directions.
To the Christians’ great ill, the Turks believe the first prophecy was fulfilled. They still fear this last threatening disaster, and fear that the rest of the prophecy will be fulfilled. This prophecy disheartens their minds. Ashamed of their iniquity and injustice, they devolve into wailing in public when they read the end of the prophecy, as if the future calamity was already at hand and was pressing down on their necks. Indeed, I know that such oracles deserve no credence, and therefore, I do not believe them. However, I would greatly like the destruction of that most wicked race to be predicted in a true prophecy. If only this prophecy, which was truthful enough against us, would also prove true against them! After so many calamities, most of that which has been lost
Muhammadan Religion 93 would be restored, to solace the afflicted, for the glory of God, and for Christendom! When our merciful Father fulfills this prophecy, we will attribute nothing to the vanity of the Muslim oracle, but we will give thanks to divine benevolence for a received act of kindness. But we will not obtain what we hope and wish for unless we leave our evil ways for the straight path and walk according to the will of Him who wants to love us as brothers, since we are of the one heavenly Father.
Those who attack Christians and turn their victorious arms to Christians’ own bowels will experience the disasters destined for them in place of victory, to their great cost and highest penalty of the Christian state. For God is just and sees the hidden thoughts of our hearts and our secret actions.
There is reference to the “coming unto the fullness of pagans” regarding the signs to appear before the last coming of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ to judgement and the universal resurrection. In the Scripture’s phrase, ‘fullness’ means the embrace of everyone and everything without exception. That phrase is widely used in the Scripture, especially in David’s Psalms. “The land and the fullness of the land is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1), which means whatever is on earth with no exception. And in the same sense, “The world is mine in its fullness” (Psalm 50:12) ‘You have created the world and its fullness’ (Psalm 89:12), which is a brief and elegant description of the whole universal creation both visible and invisible. That ‘fullness’ as applied to the pagans must mean the entirety of the pagans, so no one to whom the name applies is excepted. If no one is excluded, whether bewitched by Muhammad’s superstition or any other, the Turks and others must not be excluded from the pagans.
However, the sacred scripture seems to attribute this ‘fullness’ to a certain race and a peculiar people, namely, the ‘Israelites.’ See Paul (Romans 11:25): “I would not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you are not arrogant among yourselves,” holding in contempt the sensible, insolent, and Jews, as if they were shut out from the kingdom of Christ forever: the nation of Israel will remain obdurate in part, until the fullness of the pagans has entered [the new faith]. Or does this restriction to the Israelites mean that the words of the Apostle, promising entry to the Church, are concerned not with other pagans, but with Israel alone? I think this passage indicates that neither pagans nor Israelites will be excluded, but Paul took the conversion of both into account. Indeed, the meaning of “the fullness of pagans” is the multitude of Gentiles from all parts of the world, who will “lead the Jews, and enter into the Church of the faithful first.” This means that after all the pagans have been received into the bosom of the Church, Israel, hitherto blinded and obdurate, will embrace the faith and enter into the Church. Therefore, the blindness and obduracy of Israel will persevere in part, not a small or middling part, but the greater part of it by far, until all pagans have entered. That ‘entrance’ should be understood as faith in
Christ, not only for the Jews and the Gentiles, but for everyone in the universe, whether or not they are outside the Church. But as the Turks are also outside the Church, that entrance must also be understood to pertain to them. But they will not accept Christ or enter into the Church, which is open to them, until they suffer for their impiety with repeated disasters. Therefore, the killing of Gog and Magog predicted in Revelation refers to the Turks.
Gog and Magog or the land of Magog is also mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2. Since this prophecy was fulfilled, the Turks cannot be understood as Gog or Magog. For those names must have the same meaning in Revelation as in Ezekiel. As Luis del Alcázar explains in Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocolypsi (An Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse):
From those words, it can easily be understood that in Ezekiel Gog signifies the pagan Roman emperors and the universal empire of idol worshippers, waging war against the Christian Church. In Revelation, the whole army of the Antichrist is denoted through the same name Gog, and whoever is deceived by him. But in either case, the race described as Magog is the same as Gog. Indeed, by ‘Gog,’ I mean the home of the demon; by ‘Magog,’ their rage against the Church, since they are the habitation of the demon.
Thus, “the whole army of the Antichrist” is understood as Gog in Revelation. Could one not refer to the Turkish horde as the Antichrist’s army as well? For one who is not with Christ is against Christ.
The ancient interpreters of Revelation knew neither Muhammad nor the Turks. The modern interpreters believe that the prediction of John concerning Gog and Magog meant disaster for the Saracens and Turks. Most of the interpreters cling to the etymology of the words. Since they interpret Gog as covered, and Magog as uncovered, they think that the names Gog and Magog should be interpreted as hidden and open enemies of the Church, respectively. This could be true. Are there any more openly professed enemies of Christians than the Turks and Muslims? Are heretics who claim to be Christians not hidden enemies of the Church? Thus, the ancients’ interpretation does not contradict the conjectures of modern interpreters; certainly, it does not cancel them out, nor disprove them.
Commenting on Ezekiel 38, Jerome says:
Gog is called ‘building’ in Greek, and ‘covering’ in Latin. Furthermore, Magog is also interpreted as ‘covering’. Therefore, all the false interpretations that conceal the meaning of these names are disproved. ‘Covering’ means the leaders of the heretics who have adopted their doctrines.
Muhammad, indeed, adopted the heterodox dogmas of Sergius the Nestorian heretic, and became a Nestorian instead of an idol worshipper. I have shown this previously. Also, Ambrose says, “those, who are interpreted as a ‘covering’ through ‘Gog’, are those who hide their malice in their hearts, and seem just to men though they are sinners.” Covering certainly refers to heretics, since they conceal and hide in their heart their malice and hostility while they profess themselves as Christians. They seem just to some, or at least want to seem just. Ambrose continues, “those people interpreted as a ‘covering’ through ‘Magog’ are those who, from the covering of their heart, will burst into open malice, and prove that they are impious to all.” Who will deny this, that those Ambrose predicted as Magog would be the future Muslims, especially the Turks, and that they fulfill all these predictions with their actions? It is obvious that the conjecture of the modern interpreters can be reconciled with the ancient interpreters of Revelation and Ezekiel, and do not contradict them.
After the above historical account, I will show the falsity and vanity of Muhammad, concerning the beginning, rise, and the tyranny of Turkish religion, so that the truth of Christian religion may be even more evident. I have already indicated that the Muslims recognize the divine revelations of both Testaments, the Old as much as the New. The Byzantine emperor John VI Kantakouzenos confirms this assertion in the preface to Apology on Behalf of the Christians-, “the things written by Moses, the prophets, and the writers of the Gospel are considered sacrosanct even by the Saracens.” Indeed, they place Christ among the prophets, though they believe him to be neither the greatest nor the last among the others. They assert and contend that Muhammad succeeded Christ, and there are even prophecies of Muhammad’s coming in the Old and New Testaments which were erased by the Christians. Musul-mannus Sampsates Isphachanes, a Persian, accuses Christians of this sacrilege. The Muslim priests are called Musulmans, the prophets are called rasill, and theologians are called those who speak [mutakallim]. There was a certain Achenemides, who converted to Christianity after recognizing the vanity of Turkish religion; he withdrew to the court of the emperor Kantakouzenos. “And when God”—these are the words of the emperor himself—“called the more studious emperor to the life of Christian philosophy, with Achenemides among his companions, they were consecrated together into the monastic life, and Achenemides was renamed Miletius.” Kantakouzenos abdicated from the empire and became a monk. Musulmannus tried to drag Miletius from the Christian faith back into Muslim faithlessness by sending him persuasive letters, full of lies. This one is especially conspicuous because it contains shameless words such as this: “The name of Muhammad himself was described in the Old Testament, and in the Gospel, even as it commended Christ, but the Christians removed it [the references to Muhammad].” The
Emperor Kantakouzenos greedily seized the opportunity to dispute the Musulmannus’ objections to the truth of Christianity, to demonstrate the vanity of Islam, and to prove the truth of Christianity [...].
A Muslim tradition claims that the Old Testament and Gospel foretell Muhammad, although the Christians deny this. All of that is a fable; it is obvious that it was an obtrusive lie divulged by unbelievers and the father of lies. All this authority of Muhammad that depends on this lie also falls apart. Whatever he claimed about himself and his invented religion, and whatever semblance of truth it has, still cannot be defended; having been founded on known falsehoods, Muhammad’s religion will collapse upon itself.
Although the falsity of the Qur’an’s dogmas is known to all Christians, it may not be recognized by others, especially by those who believe in Islam. To make them recognize the falsity of their religion, Muslims must be persuaded with arguments and be introduced to the divine scripture, which will conquer Muhammad’s dogma and reveal the truth. The way to convert Muslims is to choose a catechism, which is appropriately suited to the catechumen. I doubt that any Muslim is so barbarous that he would not recognize that Christian revelation predates Islamic revelation, meaning that anything revealed to Muslims was previously revealed to Christians. So, if Moses and the prophets were just as silent about Christ as they were about Muhammad, the Christian religion could not be considered greater than Muhammad’s. This means that Christianity would not exist, and we would simply have to practice Judaism. As neither Moses nor the prophets nor even the Evangelists and Apostles made any prophecies about the coming of Muhammad, the new religion of Muhammad is empty and meaningless. Therefore, Muslims must accept either Judaism or Christianity. If Muslims were to compare the dogmas of the Qur’an against the scripture of either Testament intelligently, they could do nothing but blush and be confounded. How can Muhammad be considered greater than Christ, as even according to the Qur’an Christ was “born from a virgin.” It says that Muhammad was born in the common way through a man joining with a woman. Christ, as the Qur’an teaches, is not dead, and still lives. He was in fact dead but rose on the third day, and ascended into heaven. Muhammad is also dead, but lied that he would come forth alive on the third day. He was buried in madinat al-nabi, whose tomb the Muslims often visit.
It is universally agreed that Christians feel the internal force of the Holy Spirit when they ponder the scripture of either Testament with attention and fear of the Lord. For Christians, the revealed doctrines gain approval by virtue of the scripture, not as if they were written by men, but as if by God. Yet this argument is not so effective that Muslims can be convinced. But this argument must be made with the points mentioned above, so that the non-believers might be enticed to read the scripture, and therefore obtain the truth. If enthusiasm for the
Muhammadan Religion 97 truth stimulates them into becoming Christians by calling on God’s aid, they will not be barren of spiritual fruit. But the catechumen will strive and read the scripture by the grace of the Holy Spirit, through which they may agree with the truth revealed in scripture, as Christians do sincerely.
If the Turkish War continues (since God thinks it right to favor it for longer) and the unbelievers come under Christian rule, every effort for their salvation should be made, with the force of all our resources, so they are led to recognition of the truth and their souls become profitable to Christ. I have already indicated the way to act and proceed. Muslims are to be induced and invited to a careful reading of scripture, or they are to be faithfully preached to and inculcated with the cardinal and fundamental dogmas of scripture. No matter how it is achieved, it has to be beneficial whether it is by reading or preaching or some other appropriate ways suggested by the word of God and with the grace of the Divine Spirit to convert them to the Christian faith. Preaching the word of God is as efficient as reading the Holy Scripture to sow God’s truth into the hearts of all readers and attentive listeners, both Christians and unbelievers. I will give you an example from the Thessalonians 2:13. Paul writes on unbelievers, in the letter addressed to them, that they “have accepted the word, which they heard from us, not as the word of a man but as the word of God.” If the power of God is not less and if it is no less efficacious than it once was, there is ample hope that when we preach to the Muslims “they will accept the word of God, not as the word of a man but as the word of God.”
The example of the Jew, Christianus Gerson, is well-known. He chanced upon a codex of the New Testament, reflected upon it, believed in it, and was converted [to Christianity] with nothing but the scripture alone (Sola Scriptura). Therefore, he was moved by authority of the scripture to convert. Conversion of the Muslims will be less difficult than the conversion of Jews. For the latter repudiate the scripture of the New Testament, while the former embrace it and treat the words of the Gospel writers as sacrosanct to quote Catacuzenus. Therefore, Muslims accept the New Testament, which the Jews reject. Since Muslims accept the New Testament, unlike the Jews, it can be used to convince them. The divinity of Christ is the basis and foundation of the Christian faith, which is denied by the Muslims and Jews. However, His divinity is revealed so clearly in the New Testament, so not even the Jews can deny what is taught in it, that Christ is the true God. If the Muslims recognize this Testament, and treat it as a divine revelation, they have to say either that Christ is the true God, or they are saying that the author of that Testament (who they recognize as God Himself) wanted to deceive us about the divinity of Christ. But Muslims cannot claim that God wants to deceive, and so they must claim faith in Christ’s divinity, which is so clearly revealed in the New Testament.
Furthermore, if all necessary doctrines for salvation are divinely revealed and cannot be known other than through special divine revelation, then Christ was neither the last nor the greatest prophet. After his appearance, Muhammad came as the last and greatest of all to whom “God brought down the Qur’an from heaven to earth through the angel Gabriel.” So, let them assert the faith by citing the clear testimonies and words of the Old or New Testament, both of whose divine revelations they recognize and embrace. But no commentary will back them up, because they talk nonsense and say with no appearance of truthfulness that the Christians excised the memory of Muhammad from both Testaments.
Since the Muslims believe that there is something important [i.e., Muhammad] in the scripture of the New Testament, they recognize it as divinely revealed; the Jews, however, do not. Therefore, it is obvious that the Muslims’ conversion is easier than the Jews’. Therefore, the conversion of Muslims hinges on the scripture of both Testaments. By leading the Muslims to the scripture, they must be persuaded that the scripture alone—excluding their Qur’an—contains the principal truth of the religion. The scripture is therefore given and revealed in preference to all others so that men might be led with its goodness to the path of salvation and be taught the means to obtain it. For mortals who are left to themselves and the power of nature and are not helped by divine revelation do not grasp what comes from God. They do not know, nor can they understand why God should be acknowledged and worshipped, so that they might attain eternal life through the pleasing worship they owe to Him. Realizing that the divinely revealed scripture shows such things and that these things are learned through reading them; everything that leads to salvation should be expressed clearly, so that they can be understood by any reader—though I speak not about proof, but of the manner of expression. For clarity is the most important and primary virtue of speaking. But must not God, the best teacher of speaking and the author of the scripture, ignorant of how to deceive and be deceived, know how to speak clearly? Considering His infinite and eternal justice, how could He communicate obscurely in a matter of such great importance, since He wants to save all with eternal life and have none perish? Let us not suspect that God indulges in verbal obscurity, through which men might be led into error, and thus lose eternal life. To leave things doubtful, unknown, and hidden contradicts the infinite divine justice and providence. The scripture should reveal things that are not evident in themselves (doubtful, unknown, and hidden), but necessary to obtain salvation. Anyone who argues that the revelation was written in an obscure manner accuses God Himself. How could the proverb of ‘the rich brothers’ in the Gospel refer to ‘Moses and the prophets’ and mean ‘listen to Moses and the prophets’ if the scripture was so obscure that it could not be understood?
Muslims do not pretend there is scriptural obscurity in what is necessary to know and believe for salvation. However, the recognition of
Christ’s divinity, denied by them, is such a necessity. Yet Christ’s divinity in the scripture of the new covenant, which Muslims accept as a divine revelation while still denying the divinity of the Savior, is the most obvious thing. When the scripture affirms that Jesus is the true God who assumed a human nature as the hypostasis of the divine word; that God suffered in the flesh, died, and was crucified; that He is one in essence and three in person, it claims something that is inscrutable and foreign to their understanding. Therefore, rationality obligates obedience with “a reason that must be taken captive to obey God” (Corinthians 2:5). If nothing arcane was present but everything was understood clearly by reason, there would be no mysteries. Since unknown and abstruse dogmas are given to men in scripture, they must be presented with clear speech and be properly understood. The more obscurely a matter is written about, the more clearly it must be presented in speech, if what is unknown is to be made known so the revelation does not fail in its intended result.
Those who remain unconvinced by my arguments must realize that the knowledge necessary for salvation, without which they will perish, is found in the scripture and not in the other doctrines. Yet everything in the divinely revealed scripture is not of such great importance, but it tells many things that do not pertain to eternal life, and therefore are not necessary to follow. If this is the case, either God has revealed pointless things or the purpose of telling those things was not important. But His purpose is obvious. Many historical examples of remarkable piety, unbeatable perseverance, fervor in God’s love, love toward one’s neighbor, and other examples of virtue are not exactly necessary for salvation. Nevertheless, all things being equal, it is good to know as this knowledge goes some way toward forming a moral character through warnings and examples.
There are, moreover, some things in the scripture that are difficult to explain and understand, which Peter states in Paul’s letters (Peter 3:16). But for which people’s convenience and benefit did the scriptures relate such things? St. Augustine solved this long ago:
To tame arrogance with effort and challenge the intellect of the man for whom most investigations easily become trivial. For the Holy Spirit set limits to the scriptures so wondrously and salubriously that in more open passages one’s hunger is satisfied, and in more obscure passages contempt is driven away.
Pagan philosophers once exercised their genius and sharpened their intellect. Today, Christians and whoever stands outside the crowd, occupied with natural and civil matters, exercise and sharpen their intellect. They are justly celebrated, whose ability in understanding is of a higher caliber and transcends others’ intellect. But it is not the Lord’s will that the human intellect is concerned only with what pertains to civil and natural matters, but divine and spiritual affairs ought to receive special care and attention. Most importantly, we are ordered to “seek the kingdom of God” before all else. The author of the sacred scripture supplies abundant material, stimulating the mind to scrutinize it, so no occasion or opportunity is lacking. It occupies and exercises the intellect in natural matters, but also in supernatural ones. But no one should wonder that the author of the divinely revealed scripture wanted to create certain obscurities for this purpose. The revealed truth is not obvious everywhere in the scripture; but, is sometimes veiled. But this is not the case for those doctrines which are necessary to know to achieve salvation. Without the knowledge of these things, Christianity cannot endure unharmed, nor can eternal life be acquired. For if such necessary doctrines in scripture were put forth shrouded in darkness and bound in inextricable obscurities, how would the author be perceived except as one who wanted to seduce men into losing eternal happiness? But such a sinister suspicion cannot fall on Him who is infinitely good, just, and merciful. And so, let us be far from accusing Him of this.
However, it cannot be denied that some writings in the scripture pertaining to mysteries of great necessity are not so clear that they remove all doubt from the readers’ minds, since obvious examples are not used. But as Augustine says, another “more open passage satisfying hunger” stands out elsewhere in the scriptures, and declares the doctrine of salvation so clearly, that everyone who grasps the meaning of the words, and fears to misinterpret it, through their grace, can be saved. Just as this proposition is true: ‘Everything necessary to know for salvation is clearly set forth in the sacred scripture, and none of it is not given clearly at some point in the scripture’; this proposition is false: ‘All the sayings of the sacred scripture that are about some dogma necessary to know for salvation are clear.’
Besides this, I have warned in the preceding sections that the sacred scripture abounds with dogmas and mysteries “concerning which nothing will ever be known by man, nor can be known.” If they are known, it is because of the word of God revealed in the sacred scripture. Therefore, the reader of the scripture acquiesces to clear and obvious [passages] touching on and embracing such mysteries. The ability is not conceded to anyone’s judgment to twist such things as they like, but they must be left with the meaning that common usage gives them, so a wise reader, skilled in the ways of speaking and endowed with the ability to judge, may understand clearly. If a man takes the words with which mysteries are set forth and transforms them from their common meaning to another peculiar and unusual meaning that suits his preconceived opinion, he will not be able to say that the mysteries were understood according to divine revelation, but rather they depend on arbitrary human interpretation.
I can illustrate this matter with an example from school. Let us imagine that a teacher is teaching a student a new subject which the student
Muhammadan Religion 101 knows nothing about. The student certainly ought to accept the words of the teacher just as they are and as they sound in their simple, common, and usual meaning. It would not be right for him to twist and coerce those words into another meaning which opposes the teacher’s opinion and fits with the student’s preconceptions. When the student changes the meaning, he is not learning the discipline from his teacher but keeps his preconceived notions. Therefore, he trembles in thick darkness without his light being kindled, and he understands nothing that relates to the discipline. This example is not much different from what relates to God and divine mysteries. As we saw in the above example, if we assume that the student understands the secrets of his discipline before his teacher led the way we make the same assumption about understanding of the divine revelation. Therefore, it follows that divine revelations in scripture are to be understood for their intrinsic meaning and are not to be interpreted differently, as in the example of the unsophisticated student challenging his teacher’s interpretation.
Therefore, it cannot be doubted or denied that in religion, matters concerning mysteries and salvation must be extracted and explained by preaching the intrinsic meaning of divinely revealed scripture. According to this primary principle, the errors of the Catholics and their carefully considered novelties are uprooted and overturned. Nor do I oppose the second principle of the universal consensus of the first and better 500 years after Christ’s birth. Catholics introduced more dogmas, which they wanted to be considered as articles of faith, than was to the benefit of Christianity. It can be proved and demonstrated that no trace of them are in the sacred scripture, nor are they of any genuine antiquity. But if Catholic errors and novelties are uprooted and overturned by both principles, the primary as much as the secondary, why should not the most absurd errors and outlandish novelties of the Muslims, which they consider articles of faith, also be uprooted and overturned from the same principles? The mysteries and dogmas of the faith in the sacred scripture are to be understood by their intrinsic meaning. This in itself distresses the Arians, Remonstrators, and many other heretics. It also disturbs others who are not heretics, though they still live in a schism, such as the Reformed men with their errors. It is plainly pronounced in clear words that “Christ is the true God” (1 John 20:28, 1 Tim. 3:16, Tit. 2:13, 1 John 5:20). These words of scripture are potent against the Arians, and therefore, the same words should be strong against the Muslims. Indeed, the Arians as well as the Muslims recognize the Scripture as divinely revealed, which asserts the divinity of the Savior. That ‘baptism’ is necessary for salvation for every human being, including infants, conceived and born carnally through sex between a man and a woman, as clearly stated in the words of John 3:5 and elsewhere. That ‘election’ to eternal life is not made by an absolute decree, but according to prescience. This is observed in the pronouncements of scripture, Rom. 8:29,
11:2, and 1 Peter 1:2. Our Savior gave His flesh to be eaten and His blood to be drunk in the Holy Eucharist, as taught in Matthew 26:26 and by the other Apostles and Evangelists who describe the Eucharist. Scripture, left with its intrinsic meaning, strongly overcomes the heretical viewpoints which I spoke of earlier.
It is now clear that some doctrines in scripture are presented simply and clearly, others less clearly (obscurely and not self-evidently). The former concerns things necessary for salvation; the latter leads toward “taming arrogance with effort, and challenging the intellect of the man, for whom most investigations easily become trivial.” There are also doctrines on which the Christian faith is founded for which scripture does not provide clear explanations. These doctrines can be understood using the [dialectic] skill which we call Scholasticism, or else their meaning can be deduced using syllogisms, which can be difficult.
In order to lead as many Muslims as possible to recognize the truth, do not tire them out with syllogisms and logical conclusions. Instead, teach them the essential dogmas and mysteries on which the Christian faith is founded.
However, I see a potential stumbling block for the Muslim who has become a seeker of Christianity and is still a catechumen, which could divert him from Christianity in the middle of being converted. Perhaps he might say that Christians disagree with each other, and are divided by schisms which damn one another. So, the question arises for him as to which faction is right. When he is about to choose one of them, he might make a mistake and not come to the orthodox faction but go to a heterodox faction. Thus, he will evade damnation no more than if he had persevered in his Muslim faithlessness. But I will solve this difficulty, and steady the catechumen’s fluctuating mind. I will suggest that it is enough for his salvation if he believes and embraces those things which Christians, although torn apart by schisms, unanimously agree upon. The rest that they disagree on is not as important. Because, if one Christian faction keeps and defends a dogma which the other Christians disagree with, everyone contradicts it, saying that such a dogma is neither free from suspicion of falsehood, nor necessary to know and believe for salvation. There are truths universally agreed on by everyone; no error about these truths is so dangerous that it excludes the one who errs from eternal salvation. Error not only starts with an obstinate will, but with stupidity and lack of judgement.
What are these dogmas belonging to one faction or another, with which other Christians disagree? Before I explain them, I will examine the schisms of the whole Christian world. With the bonds of Christian charity mutually violated, the unity of the Church is broken and drawn apart by schisms. It has divided into four distinct factions. The mother of all Churches is the Greek Church, which occupies the whole East. The Western [Church] seceded from its mother in the seventh century
Muhammadan Religion 103 after Christ in the reign of the parricide Phocas. But the Western Church was also torn into three large factions. The first of these is the “Roman-Catholic” or “Pontifical” Church. The second is the Church of “the friends of the Augustine Confession,” which left the Roman-Catholic Church. They are called “Protestants” or “Evangelists” to distinguish them from the Catholics. This is not because the Catholics do not believe in the doctrine of the Gospel, but because they do not recognize its sufficiency. Catholics champion the necessity of unwritten human tradition, whereas our faction simply accepts the written Word. Finally, among the Protestants a new schism was born under an unlucky star, and two different Churches came forth. Each of these got their names from the primary authors of the attempted Reformation, which was necessary at the time, but not entirely successful. The Reformers of one faction were named after Luther, who was the first to rise against the sellers of Indulgences and their grossest abuses. They delight in being called ‘Lutherans’ and take this name as an honorific. Although the other faction follows in the footsteps of Calvin, they do not like to be called ‘Calvinists,’ because they do not recognize Calvin as the author of their doctrine. Nor do they all approve of his opinions, embrace them, or consider them articles of faith. Therefore, they prefer to be called the ‘Reformed,’ because they reformed their Church by purging it of Pontifical contamination. Indeed, I do not look down on their title of ‘Reformed’ and grant it to them, so long as our own Lutherans are not considered foreign to the Reformation. Indeed, we should not accuse the Calvinists of being lazy, or of being slow to spur the necessary reformation of the Church.
The Church today does not have the youthful splendor of earlier centuries. The age of doctrine exhausted the purity of the Church. Schisms grew powerful with God’s permission like a weed that did not get plucked by the gardener. God’s plans are arcane, and His judgments are inscrutable, but always just. This Iliad of evil, schisms, although it unfortunately tore the Church apart, did not destroy the religion and truth of the faith, which is necessary for each man’s salvation, especially the uneducated. But truth of the faith was fortified by the defense of ecumenicalism. Therefore, the faith endured safe and sound among individuals who did not join schismatic factions. This is the reason that the Church, translating the Apostolic saying into vernacular verse, sings: die ganze Christenheit auf Erden/halt (der helige Geist) in einem Sinn gar eben (The whole of Christendom on earth affirms with one accord: Holy Spirit). Let the seeker of Christianity, or the newly converted but doubtful Christian, be directed to this one true faith. While each faction of Christians fights and debates the doctrine of faith, let him choose the proper path. This is the truly catholic faith [all-embracing faith], or as it is called, koiOoXikov, which was always believed from the beginning of the Church to this day. This faith exists wherever Christians exist. In short, when the catechumen embraces what was always believedby Christians everywhere, let him follow it as a neophyte. Let him not trouble himself much in the beginning about the finer details of doctrine before he progresses further in the faith.
If something is not universally believed by Christians, it creates dissent and precedent for error within the Church, and should carry with it the suspicion of falsehood. There is hardly any Church in the whole world which does not nurture one or more of its own dogmas. Certain private opinions are boldly added to the doctrine of what must be believed without the authority of public and general opinion. This places the Church in danger of error, and it is openly condemned by the unanimous assent of all other Churches. I must demonstrate what I say about individual Churches. Let me start with the mother of the other Churches (i.e., the Greek Church), which is spread through the whole East, and groans miserably under the Turkish yoke. Oh, the pain! Truly, this Church has something unique apart from all others, in that they tenaciously defend that “the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father.” This mother of Churches gave birth to daughters spread far and wide through the Eastern and Western branches, but none of them have anything to do with their mother. They all contradict it with one voice, and all condemn their mother for error.
If any other Church acts riddled with new dogmas unknown in antiquity and not recognized or approved of by any other Christians in the whole world, the ‘Roman’ or ‘Catholic’ Church certainly lies infected and prostrated by such things. I will give one [critical] example that will suffice as most other problems are bound to it. For example, Catholics teach that the Roman Pope was constituted by divine law and by Christ himself as the Head and Chief of the Church. He is considered to have the authority to determine and define matters of faith infallibly, so much so that what is decreed by him cannot be doubted without harm to their soul. Indeed, they say that there is no other certain and unquestionable rule of truth and faith in the Church today beyond that authority of the Pope. Hence, it follows that what Christians [Catholics] believe is ultimately resolved in and by the authority of the Pope, as if his authority was a first principle. Because of this, dogmas of Papal infallibility gained strength and became a principle among Catholics. The Pope’s authority created their long-desired domination over the universal Church, or rather a certain universal empire over the whole world. Once one unsuitable dogma was in place many others followed. After this supposition, it follows that the Bishop of the Roman Church is the head of all others and is the infallible judge over controversies. They believe that he was appointed over this matter by Christ Himself and thus divinely. Such is all this luminary power transcending human abilities that he competes with the divine law. In the same way, it is necessary for salvation to recognize Christ as his head and that he is set below Christ. Thus, it is also necessary for everyone to recognize the Pope as their head and
Muhammadan Religion 105 be subject to him. Boniface IX says this very thing eloquently, “I declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is necessary for every human creature’s salvation to be set below the Roman Pope.” But if everything that the Pope declares, decides, defines, and pronounces is infallibly true, it should be an infallible authority. But it is far from being the case that Papal authority is recognized by everyone, as the Roman seat quite ambitiously pretends. The Greek Church in the East, as well the majority of the Latin Church, spread from the West to the colder northern zone, severely contradicts the Pope with a large consensus. That unanimous contradiction ought to be acknowledged as an evident argument for error, of which no Christian can approve, and even less a foreigner converting to the Christian faith.
The contradiction of the Churches torn away from the Roman schism is abundantly sufficient to refute Papal infallibility and omnipotence. It is further proof that not even all Churches, which otherwise persevere in their communion with the Roman Church, defer everything to the Pope. Some, who are suspected of high treason, apply moderation. Others limit authority and power to Princes especially, and Kings, and their principalities and kingdoms. Others recognize no authority. Long ago, there were arguments in the University of Paris, calling into doubt the Pope’s infallibility and pre-eminence. Only the Jesuits and those who study at the Roman Curia disagreed. This, however, is hardly sufficient to overturn the vote of all the Churches in the whole Christian world; especially since the Catholics believed untruthful interpreters who decided the bounds and limits of the Pope’s immense and unlimited power.
Only the Reformed nurture a certain singular opinion concerning the Sacrament of the Sacred Eucharist. They do not recognize the Sacrament as “the true and physical presence of the body and blood of Christ.” Although all the rest of the Christians profess the truth of this presence: some through more literal transubstantiation; others a true and physical presence that is beyond the senses and indeterminate. Therefore, the Reformed are divided from all the remaining universal Church occupying the East and West. They are obviously in error, nor is there anyone left who denies this; but rather all work to unveil and refute this error.
I have proven that the friends of the Augustine Confession are no more immune to contagion of private and public dogma than either the Greeks or the Catholics or the Reformed. Clearly a new dogma of ubiquity or of the omnipresence of Christ’s flesh has insinuated itself among them. But this dogma has been constructed so that it offends all other Christians under heaven, with the exception of those Lutherans who seem to strive for puritanism. This is also not approved of by all the Churches devoted to the Augustine Confession. Therefore, what I said before about the Papal or Roman-Catholic Churches also applies to those who embrace the Augustine Confession. It is true that the French Churches disapprove the Pope’s omnipotence. It is also true that the Augustine Churchesdisapprove the omnipotence of Christ’s flesh. In the same way, all the Churches in the whole Christian world agree that the French Catholics as well as the friends of the Augustine Confession are in error.
These are the dogmas of the French Catholics and the friends of the Augustine Confession which are not universally believed. Let’s set aside those dogmas and many other similar dogmas, which are followed by the French Catholics and the friends of the Augustine Confession. To be safe, let the catechumen, whether Muslim or Jewish, be bound only to those dogmas that all Christians unanimously agree on. The disagreements over the head of their religion among Christians and their doctrinal arguments should not disturb the seeker of Christianity, who is disposed to recognize the truth of the salvific religion of Christianity. Otherwise, the faction, to which doubtful seekers may turn, will make them more foreign to the Christian faith. Either they will slide back to their former faithlessness or continue to persevere in schismatic error.
It is now clear that the universal consensus of the whole Church will help in converting unbelievers. It should also be obvious that there is much weight and much importance in that consensus. Therefore, the consensus of everyone shows the heedlessness of the few and refutes their dissent.
1 Calixt’s biography was compiled from the following sources: “Syncretis-mus,” in Das Grosse vollständige Universal-Lexicon aller Wissenschafften und Künste, ed. Johann Heinrich Zedier (Leipzig and Halle, 1744), 780-967; J. Baur, “Calixtus, Friedrich Ulrich,” in Allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste, ed. Johann Samuel Erseh (Leipzig: Verlag, 1825), 144-5; Ernst Ludwig Theodor Henke, Georg Calixtus und Seine Zeit, 2 vols. (Halle: Waisenhause, 1853-1860); Wilhelm Gass, “Calixt, Friedrich Ulrich,” in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. 3 (Leipzig: Duncker and Humblot, 1876), 704-6; B. Pick, “Calixt, Friedrich Ulrich,” in Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 1, ed. John M’Clintock and James Strong (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1890), 739; Johannes Wallmann, “Zwischen Reformation und Humanismus: Eigenart und Wirkungen Helmstedter Theologie unter besonderer Berücksichtigung Georg Calixts,” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 74/3 (1977): 344-70; Hermann Schüssler, “Calixt, Friedrich Ulrich,” in Neue Deutsche Biographie, vol. 3 (Berlin: Bürklein-Ditmar, 1957), 96—97; Giovanni Santinello and C. W. Blackwell (eds.), Models of the History of Philosophy: From Its Origins in the Renaissance to the ‘Historia Philosophica’ (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993), 398-400; Benjamin T. G. Mayes, “Syncretism in the Theology of Georg Calixt, Abraham Calov and Johannes Musäus,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 68 (2004): 291-318; Timothy R. Schmel-ing, “Lutheran Orthodoxy Under Fire: An Exploratory Study of the Syncretistic Controversy and the Consensus Repetitus Fidei Vere Lutheranae," Synod Quarterly 47 (2007): 316-55; and Quentin D. Stewart, Lutheran Patristic Catholicity: The Vincentian Canon and the Consensus Patrum in Lutheran Orthodoxy (Münster: Verlag, 2015), 143-71.