Nicholas of Cusa on Errors in the Qur’an

Nicholas of Cusa writes:

the Koran says that the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the sister of Aaron and the daughter of Amram. Now, it is most certain that the one who reported these [details] to Muhammad erred and was ignorant of the Gospel’s true narrative. For Mary the daughter of Amram and sister of Moses and Aaron was dead and buried in the desert more than a thousand years before [the time of] the Virgin Mary, the glorious mother-of-Jesus-Christ, who lived (as is read in this same Koran) at the time of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.

He is referring to passages such as Surah 66.12:

…Mary, daughter of Imran. She guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her from Our spirit. She accepted the truth of her Lord’s words and Scriptures: she was truly devout.

And Surah 3.35-36

Imran’s wife said, ‘Lord, I have dedicated what is growing in my womb entirely to You; so accept this from me. You are the One who hears and knows all,’ but when she gave birth, she said, ‘My Lord! I have given birth to a girl’– God knew best what she had given birth to: the male is not like the female–‘I name her Mary and I commend her and her offspring to Your protection from the rejected Satan.’

Imran is another way of saying Amram, who was the father of Miriam, Moses and Aaron:And Kohath was the father of Amram. The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister. (Numbers 26.58-59)

The author of these Qur’anic passages is clearly mistaken about just who Mary and Miriam are. As Nicholas writes: “And since the Koran makes these statements not once but repeatedly, this one example suffices [to show] that error is contained in [that] book and [to show] that therefore the authorship is not God’s.”

Islamic Response: Exegete Ismail ibn Kathir writes:

(O sister of Harun!) referring to the brother of Musa, because she was of his descendants. This is similar to the saying, `O brother of Tamim,’ to one who is from the Tamimi tribe, and `O brother of Mudar,’ to one who is from the Mudari tribe. It has also been said that she was related to a righteous man among them whose name was Harun and she was comparable to him in her abstinence and worship.

This response does not make sense in light of the Qur’an saying that Amram’s wife gave birth to Mary, not in some ancestral way, but directly.


Ronald S. Berman writes in The Sewanee Review:

My method was to pick a book with some determinable public interest–for example the autobiography of Max Eastman or Hannah Arendt’s great work on Eichmann–and simply to read everything available on the subject. I would talk to whoever might know about it, then sit down and try to sum up by review not only the book but all the issues implied. It meant unnatural objectivity because that kind of writing is about other people’s ideas, and doing them justice or injustice is really harder than handling your own. Reviewing is an art form in which no one ever succeeds, a fact which is good for us all to realize.

Anglican Eucharistic Practices

Sir Robert Phillimore writes about Anglican Eucharistic practices and says:

The elevation of the Blessed Sacrament was not incorporated formally into the law of the Western Church before the beginning of the thirteenth century. [Cardinal Bona] cites a variety of authorities in support of this position, and mentions the introduction of the custom of ringing a bell at the time of the elevation, at first as it should appear in order to excite the devotions of the faithful, and not for the purpose of the worship of the Host.

It was not till the year 1217, during the Papacy of Honorius III, that this peculiar doctrine of elevation became part of the canon law.

Only anticipation is satisfying

Marcel Proust

In the London Review of Books, Adam Phillips reviews Benjamin Taylor’s book, Proust: The Search. Phillips says of Proust:

…In Search of Lost Time, about someone wanting to write a book he doesn’t write, is itself about the ways our objects of desire sustain us by failing to satisfy us.

Phillips summarizes Proust as thinking that “…reality is unbearably disappointing. Only anticipation is satisfying.”

Phillips says:

The desire to make your dreams come true is a fatal misunderstanding. You have to find something you really want to do and find ways of not doing it.

Prayer to saints in the Book of Homilies

The Anglican Book of Homilies discusses the folly of prayer to saints in the Homily on Prayer. I have slightly cleaned up and modernized the language of a portion of this homily and offer it as follows:

Thus you see, that the authority both of the Scripture, and also of Augustine, does not permit, that we should pray unto them (John 5.44). O that all men would studiously read, and search the Scriptures, then should they not be drowned in ignorance, but should easily perceive the truth, as well of this point of doctrine, as of all the rest. For there does the Holy Ghost plainly teach us, that Christ is our only Mediator and Intercessor with God, and that we must not seek and run to another.

If any man sins, says Saint John, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2.1-2). Saint Paul also says, there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, even the man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2.5). Whereunto agrees the testimony of our Savior himself, witnessing that no man comes to the Father, but only by him, who is the way, the truth, the life (John 14.6), yes and the only door whereby we must enter into the Kingdome of heaven (John 10.9), because God is pleased in no other but in him. For which cause also he cries, and calls unto us that we should come unto him, saying: Come unto me, all ye that labor and be heavy laden, and I shall refresh you (Matthew 11.28).

Would Christ have us so necessarily come unto him? And shall we most unthankfully leave him, and run unto other? This is even that which God so greatly complained of by his Prophet Jeremiah, saying, My people have committed two great offences, they have forsaken me the fountain of the waters of life, and have dug to themselves broken pits that can hold no water. Is not that man unwise that will run for water to a little brook, when he may as well go to the head spring? Even so may his wisdom be justly suspected, that will flee unto Saints in time of necessity, when he may boldly and without fear declare his grief, and direct his prayer unto the Lord himself.

If God were strange, or dangerous to be talked with, then might we justly draw back and seek to some other. But the Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him in faith and truth (Psalms 145.18), and the prayer of the humble and meek hath always pleased him (Apocrypha. Judith 9.11). What if we be sinners, shall we not therefore pray unto God? Or shall we despair to obtain anything at his hands? Why did Christ then teach us to ask forgiveness of our sins, saying, And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us? Shall we think that the Saints are more merciful in hearing sinners, then God? David says, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and of great kindness (Psalms 103.8). Saint Paul says, that he is rich in mercy toward all them that call upon him (Ephesians 2.4). And he himself by the mouth of his Prophet Isaiah says, For a little while have I forsaken you, but with great compassion will I gather you: For a moment in my anger I have hid my face from you, but with everlasting mercy I have had compassion upon you (Isaiah 54.7-8). Therefore the sins of any man ought not to withhold him from praying unto the Lord his God But if he be truly penitent and steadfast in faith, let him assure himself that the Lord will be merciful unto him, and hear his prayers.

O but I dare not (will some man say) trouble God at all times with my prayers. We see that in King’s houses and Courts of Princes, men cannot be admitted, unless they first use the help and mean of some special Noble man, to come unto the speech of the King, and to obtain the thing that they would have. To this reason doth Saint Ambrose answer very well, writing upon the first Chapter to the Romans (Ambrose, `Super Cap. 1, Romans’). Therefore (says he) we use to go unto the King by officers and noble men, because the King is a mortal man, and knows not to whom he may commit the government of the commonwealth. But to have God our friend, from whom nothing is hid, we need not any helper, that should further us with his good word, but only a devout and Godly mind. And if it be so, that we need one to entreat for us: why may we not content ourselves with that one Mediator, which is at the right hand of God the Father, and there lives forever to make intercession for us? As the blood of Christ did redeem us on the cross, and cleanse us from our sins: even so it is now able to save all them that come unto God by it.

For Christ sitting in heaven, has an everlasting Priesthood, and always prays to his Father for them that be penitent, obtaining by virtue of his wounds, which are evermore in the sight of God, not only perfect remission of our sins, but also all other necessaries that we lack in this world (Matthew 6.33, James 5.15, Colossians 4.12), so that this only Mediator is sufficient in heaven (1 Timothy 2.5), and needs no others to help him (Hebrews 7.25).

Why then do we pray one for another in this life, some man perchance will here demand? In truth we are willed so to do, by the express commandment both of Christ and his disciples, to declare therein as well the faith that we have in Christ towards God, as also the mutual charity that we bear one towards another, in that pity our brother’s case, and make our humble petition to God for him.

But that we should pray unto Saints, neither have we any commandment in all the Scripture, nor yet example which we may safely follow. So that being done without authority of God’s word, it lacks the ground of faith, and therefore cannot be acceptable before God (Hebrews 11.6). For whatsoever is not of faith, is sin (Romans 14.23). And as the Apostle says, that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10.17). Yet you will object further, that the Saints in heaven do pray for us, and that their prayer proceeds of an earnest charity that they have towards their brethren on earth. Whereto it may be well answered. First, that no man knows whether they do pray for us, or no. And if any will go about to prove it by the nature of charity, concluding, that because they did pray for men on earth, therefore they do much more the same now in heaven: Then may it be said by the same reason, that as oft as we do weep on earth, they do also weep in heaven, because while they lived in this world, it is most certain and sure they did so. And for that place which is written in the Apocalypse, namely that the Angel did offer up the prayers of the Saints upon the golden Altar: it is properly meant, and ought properly to be understood of those Saints that are yet living on earth, and not of them that are dead, otherwise what need were it that the Angel should offer up their prayers, being now in heaven before the face of Almighty God? But admit the Saints do pray for us, yet do we not know how, whether especially for them which call upon them, or else generally for all men, wishing well to every man alike. If they pray specially for them which call upon them, then it is like they hear our prayers, and also know our hearts desire. Which thing to be false, it is already proved both by the Scriptures, and also by the authority of Augustine.

Let us not therefore put our trust or confidence in the Saints or Martyrs that be dead. Let us not call upon them, nor desire help at their hands: but let us always lift up our hearts to God, in the name of his dear Son Christ, for whose sake as God hath promised to hear our prayer, so he will truly perform it. Invocation is a thing proper unto God, which if we attribute unto the Saints, it sounds to their reproach, neither can they well bear it at our hands.

When Paul had healed a certain lame man, which was impotent in his feet, at Lystra, the people would have done sacrifice to him and Barnabas: who rending their clothes, refused it, and exhorted them to worship the true God (Acts 14.8-18). Likewise in the Revelation, when Saint John fell before the Angels feet to worship him, the Angel would not permit him to do it, but commanded him that he should worship God (Revelations 19.10, 22.8-9). Which examples declare unto us, that the Saints and Angels in heaven, will not have us to do any honor unto them that is due and proper unto God. He only is our Father, he only is omnipotent, he only knows and understands all things, he only can help us at all times, and in all places, he suffers the sun to shine upon the good and the bad, he feeds the young ravens that cry unto him, he saves both man and beast, he will not that any one hair of our head shall perish: but is always ready to help and preserve all them that put their trust in him, according as he has promised, saying, Before they call, I will answer, and while they speak, I will hear (Isaiah 65.24).

Let us not therefore anything mistrust his goodness, let us not fear to come before the throne of his mercy, let us not seek the aid and help of Saints, but let us come boldly ourselves, nothing doubting but God for Christs sake, in whom he is well pleased, will hear us without a spokesman, and accomplish our desire in all such things as shall be agreeable to his most holy will. So says Chrysostom, an ancient Doctor of the Church (Chrysostom, `6 Hom. de Profectu. Evang.’), and so must we steadfastly believe, not because he says it, but much more because it is the doctrine of our Savior Christ himself, who has promised that if we pray to the Father in his name, we shall certainly be heard, both to the relief of our necessities, and also to the salvation of our souls, which he hath purchased unto us, not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood, shed once for all upon the Cross.

ACNA’s March Conclave

Anglican Unscripted filled in the details on the forthcoming ACNA conclave. George Conger reports here that the conclave will happen after the March 12th consecration of Chip Edgar as bishop.

  • The conclave is scheduled to take place at the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center on Seabrook Island.
  • Archbishop Beach wants 90 percent of the bishops there or the conclave is off.
  • The purpose of the conclave is to get rid of misconceptions and grievances and have people talk to each other rather than through others online. It is not a meeting “to slam C4SO.”

Calling this a conclave probably means it will follow the rules of the conclave that elected Archbishop Beach in 2014, which you can read about here. That included a vow of silence probably based on Roman Catholic practice, which means you probably won’t see press releases that say much beyond vague phrases.

UPDATE: The conclave had been delayed according to Conger and Kallsen. No word yet on a future date.

ACNA College of Bishops and C4SO

It turns out that my suspicions about the lack of a press release from the College of Bishops meeting were correct. Anglican Unscripted reported on this over the weekend. Among other things, they said:

  • There are rumors that some churches within C4SO no longer want to be associated with ACNA.
  • Ten to twelve C4SO churches have dropped ACNA from their websites.
  • At the November diocesan convention of C4SO there was an attempt to update their constitution to remove ACNA and replace it with the Anglican Communion. This did not in fact happen.
  • There is a College of Bishops meeting coming in March (possibly) about the issues with C4SO. The REC seems to be driving this meeting due to C4SO clergy and leadership pushing Critical Race Theory and dissenting from ACNA’s views on sexuality.
  • The recent meeting in Melbourne Florida was heavily about the Diocese of the Upper Midwest and its problems, as well as the Via Apostolica investigation.
  • There is a difference in views between Bishop Todd Hunter and other bishops about the weight and authority of their public statements. Does the ACNA statement on sexuality have some binding authority, or is it just the opinion of the bishops?

ACNA College of Bishops Meeting – January 2022

As I write this post, there has been no press release from ACNA regarding the meeting last week. I find this odd, particularly in light of all the problems that exist right now. Canon Phil Ashey wrote an email summary of the meeting for the American Anglican Council, and I will paste that in here in lieu of more information:

I was privileged to spend last week with the bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) at one of their annual meetings. I did so as Chair of the ACNA Governance Task Force which reports to them on changes needed in our canons (laws of the church) and to receive recommendations from them on canonical adjustments needed to meet the challenges of ministry today. Among Anglicans, bishops walk in the footsteps of Peter and his confession which we celebrate today: “You [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:17). Jesus replied to this confession with the blessing in Matthew 16:18.
You see it’s not the office of bishop nor the doctrine of apostolic succession that enables the church to prevail against the gates and powers of hell itself. It is the confession, and the unity around that confession, that is the very rock upon which the church stands and prevails. After noting the irresistible word play between Peter (Petros in Greek) and “rock” (petra in Greek), Canon Michael Green observes in his commentary on Matthew:
The rock is not just Peter, however, but Peter in his confessional capacity. Peter, full of trust in the Son of God, is the one who will become the rock-man for the early church. He did become just that, as the early chapters of Acts reveal…The point is this: Jesus had found in Peter a real believer, and on that foundation he could build his church. (Green, Michael, The Message of Matthew in The Bible Speaks Today New Testament Series, John R.W. Stott, ed. [Downers Grove IL:IVP,2000] pp.179-180)
Our ACNA bishops walk in the footsteps of Peter and those after him as successors to that apostolic confession. Yes, they are bishops by apostolic succession and the laying on of hands at their consecration but, time and again, I have observed our bishops face challenges and decisions in the same spirit of Peter with a unity in their confession of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of the living God
This confession was consistent this week in their preaching during daily Holy Eucharist and Evening Prayer. This confession shaped their approval of two new bishops for the whole church (ACNA), bishops-elect Dan Gifford of ANiC and Chip Edgar of South Carolina []. This apostolic confession shaped their deliberations on theological standards for ordained ministry, the search for a new Dean of Trinity School for Ministry, and the new traditional language BCP 2019 among many others on their agenda. Lest the gates of hell invade the Church through clergy sexual misconduct and abuse, their commitment to the confession of Peter and their stewardship of that confessional role shaped their response to our Governance Task Force recommendations for clearer and more immediate disciplinary processes.
But the best part of the week was an additional day of listening to the stories of our senior leaders, now bishops of ACNA, who bravely embraced Peter’s confession in their departure from the Episcopal Church (TEC) by forming one, united, biblical, and Anglican missional church in North America. The American Anglican Council asked these five senior bishops who helped form the Common Cause Partnership, then the Anglican Communion Network, then GAFCON, and then the Anglican Church in North America to share their recollections. We are endeavoring to capture this history of our Anglican realignment so that we can share these historical facts and events with you. In addition, this history explains why we identify “seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way that are essential for membership” in the ACNA. (See Article I Fundamental Declarations of the Province [The Constitution and canons of the ACNA online]). At stake is what we believe defines Anglicanism in North America.
For eight hours, I was humbled and blessed to hear their stories. They described 30 years of following Jesus Christ as Messiah and the Son of the living God apart from whom there is no salvation. In so doing, they described the fierce opposition they faced within the Episcopal Church they loved, then from the halls of Canterbury itself, and finally in lawsuits and TEC depositions that sought to deprive them of their Holy Orders and spiritual authority. They faced real persecution within the Church itself for standing up for that apostolic confession, the faith once delivered to the saints. They suffered the confiscation of churches through relentless litigation