Islam — A (Jewish-) Christian Sect? (Part 7)
A short history-of-dogma examination
By Peter Bruns
Translated by Anonymous
Translation edited by Ibn Warraq
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6
So as not to spoil the inter-religious dialogue with the Muslims, Bauschke demands the following alteration of Christology from the Christian interlocutor:
— A Christology working toward fundamental agreement between Christians and Muslims should be conceived “theocentrically and subordinatively.” Theocentric, not Christocentric, in Muslim parlance (“There is no God but Allah and “˜ÃŽsÃ¢ is his messenger”), which Bauschke adopts, means that “˜ÃŽsÃ¢/Jesus is not God, but a mere human being.
— A Christology that can be agreed upon by Muslims and Christians must furthermore be prophetically accentuated. As a mere human being, Jesus is a prophet and wise teacher.
The Gnostic Thomas Gospel which Bauschke counts — like the Koran — among the inspired writings, signifies a “prophetic book” without a Passion tale. “Cross and resurrection” do not necessarily belong to Christology. It is easy to understand: To be sure, such a “Christology” may be agreeable among nominal Christians and Muslims, but hardly corresponds to the Pauline view or the concerns of the reformers, to whose religious community our author belongs.
— The new “charismatic Christology” connects to the traditions of the old (heretical) Jewish Christianity, in that it adheres to the spiritual aptitude of the prophet “˜ÃŽsÃ¢, but stubbornly denies his divinity or godlike nature.
— From this point on, the Christology agreed upon between Muslims and Christians should be accentuated metaphorically and not metaphysically. The innumerable designations of the Son of God in the New Testament, which even Bauschke cannot deny, are simply to be understood in a metaphorical sense. The title “Son of God” is to be understood strictly as declaratory, legalistic and adoptionistic. The “high” Christology of the Old Church councils, above all the Nicene, says Bauschke, despised Jewish Christianity and allegedly separated (in Harnack’s sense of Hellenization) Christianity from its Semitic roots. It is therefore absolutely proscribed in the Christian-Muslim dialogue to speak of Jesus as the Son of God in a substantial-ontological sense. So the contribution of the Christian interlocutor to this kind of inter-religious dialogue cannot be a substantial one, and a “Christiology” without a metaphysics of first principles has doubly nothing substantial to offer.
— Such a meaningless dialogue between Muslims and Christians — robbed of its subject — does not need to agree on the person of Jesus. It is sufficient — and here speaks the Director of the Berlin office of the Hans-KÃ¼ng Foundation “Weltethos / World Ethos” — if it animates common action by representatives of different religions “in the spirit of Jesus.” Unfortunately, the author does not inform us what concrete contribution Mohammed may bring to a humanization of the world and a reconciled coexistence of religions. While Jesus of Nazareth may move the pious of all religions to some kind of emulation, Mohammed as a moral example does that far less.
Your author is aware that these attempts at new interpretation or re-interpretation of fundamental doctrines amount to the self-abandonment of Christianity in the name of Christian-Islamic dialogue. Yet such an effect is not only unfortunately accepted, but expressly welcomed. One gets the impression that the Christian-Islamic dialogue as conducted by several Protestant preachers does not, in the first instance, serve the better understanding of the Islamic position but only the ideological self-justification of their own completely deficient Christology. Bauschke’s reach into the past to the heresies of church history as a basis for his own standpoint is striking. As captatio benevolentiae, he notes that Christianity has not always and everywhere represented the divinity of Jesus to its Muslim interlocutor. Jewish-Christianity, the representatives of the Antioch School,, the Aryans, the Socinians of the 16th and 17th centuries,  the Unitarians as well as countless adherents of theological socialism up to Schleiermacher, Harnack, or Schweitzer, and finally the Templars, had in the spirit of Jesus (sic!) spoken out against the dogma of substantial likeness to God. Bauschke’s claim that before Mohammed there was “nowhere in Arabia or Syria a generally recognized Christian Christology” (sic!) is just as inapplicable as the thesis that “Nestorianism” borrowed the Two-Nature-Doctrine of the Great Church and the trinitarian concept of God. All the Christian sects of the Byzantines, the Persians, the Ethiopians and the West Syrians profess faith in the Council of Nicaea and have since the beginning of the 6th century employed in their liturgies a profession of faith expanded by the third article referring to the Holy Ghost. Since Ephraim (died 373), all West Syrians have been strict adherents of Nicaea; since 410 the “Church of the East” has been Nicaean, and in 484-486 the new Nicaean trinity doctrine of Theodor of Mopsuestia (“one bit of wisdom, three hypostases”) has held as consensus opinion in the synodikon. It is a certain irony of church history that the non-Chalcedonian communities were the most zealous defenders of the Council of Nicaea, because — out of a loyalty to conservatism — they rejected the doctrine of the hypostatic union as an improper innovation. Where hierarchical obediences are clarified, there are in the Orient clear sectarian marks. The situation is completely different with the numerous Gnostic and Jewish sects.
Peter Bruns is Professor at the Zentrum fÃ¼r Mittelalterstudien, Otto-Friedrich-UniversitÃ¤t, Bamberg, Germany. This article appeared in German in Forum Katholische Theologie, 26 (2010) 1., pp. 1-23.
 Cf. BAUSCHKE, Jesus im Koran, 140. There also the re-interpretation of the shahÃ¢da according to AbÃ» HÃ¢mid al-GhazzÃ¢lÃ®.
 It is an open question whether the deliberations of the author correspond to the standards of his own church community, cf. EKD-Texte 86, Klarheit und gute Nachbarschaft. Christen und Muslime in Deutschland (Hannover 2006). –They are hardly in consensus inside Christianity.
 The question of what Mohammed brought that was good has not been asked only since the famous Regensburg (Ratisbon) speech of Benedict XVI. It has been asked since the historic inquiry into the assassinations, cf. PARET, Mohammed, 140-142, and into the brutal military campaigns, cf. KLAUSNITZER, Jesus und Muhammad, 105: “Therewith, Mohammed is de facto the only one of the founders of the great religions of the world who is responsible for the eradication of an opposition group for military reasons.” It cannot be explained away, ibid. 106, by saying that in Islam it is not the person of Mohammed that is important but the message. For the sermon of deeds is much more vivid than one of words, and what can we make of a religion in which the idea of the divine seems to be completely divorced from the concrete morality. “Enlightened” liberal theology rightly takes offense at that–and is not alone.
 Cf. BAUSCHKE, Jesus im Koran, 147.
 Cf. BAUSCHKE, Jesus im Koran, 148.
 The author seems to have only a spotty knowledge of dogma history. In the case of Jewish Christianity, it is necessary to distinguish between the heterodox sect and the original church, to which converted Jews also belonged.
 Probably Paul von Samosata is meant, first chamberlain of Zenobia and then bishop of Antioch, who was condemned to death in 268 because of his “Christology from below.” BAUSCHKE, Jesus im Koran, 146-147, bases his “inspiration Christology” on the religiously pluralistic approach of John Hick and his re-interpretation of the “early Antioch school.” Unfortunately both of them overlooked the very early Antioch school with Ignatius Eph 1, 1, who speaks incarnationally of “the blood of God.” The denial of becoming flesh is the actual anti-dogma which unites the Gnostics, some Jewish Christians and later the Muslims into a great coalition.
 The reference to the Arians also does not work, for Arius sees more in Jesus than a mere mortal. For him, he is God, but not God in the strict sense–rather a second God, subordinate to the Father. Arius’ adoptianism is concerned primarily with the pre-existing logos. The rejection of consubstantiality leads to a softening of the strict monotheism. In this sense, the Arian system represents a much stronger paganizing and “hellenizing” of Christianity than the orthodox doctrine of Nicea, cf. Friedo RICKEN, Nikaia als Krisis des altchristlichen Platonismus, in: Theologie und Philosophie 44 (1969) 321-351.
 Calvin did not proceed exactly gingerly with the anti-trinitarians. In 1553 in Geneva, Michael Servet was brought before the church council court for denial of basic dogma, sentenced to death and–because he did not recant–burned. Anti-trinitarianism in parts of the present-day Protestant clergy is developing more and more into a heavy burden for the Christian ecumene. In the name of what God do pastors who stubbornly deny the trinity of God wish to baptize?
 Harnack’s harsh criticism of petrified Mohammedanism no doubt escaped Bauschke.
 Cf. BAUSCHKE, Jesus im Koran, 7.
 Thus Gilles Quispel, quoted in KLAUSNITZER, Jesus und Mohammed, 194, note 39.