St. Damascus may be one of the most prominent theologies who existed in the 15oo century. He came from a wealthy family and studied Sicilian under Cosmas. He served as a high official in the court of Muslim caliph after his father. Later in his life, St. Damascus became a monk in Saint Sabas in Jerusalem near the Dead Sea. He was the last Greek father who wrote the book Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, which was used in the early years of the eastern church as a reference for religious teachings.
His influence was not felt on in the eastern churches also in the west, where his translations to Latin brought about reformation in the western church. According to Stewart 2019, St.; John used Aristotle in most of his writings writing, which influenced western scholarly theology (Janosik, 2016). His criticism of Muslims was towards defending the church and its practices. He was not aggressive for reformation. Due to this lack of change, some of the doctrines that he taught the church were false, and he did not mind reforming them.
One of the false teachings that John taught was that God did have not only a son but also a mother. This follows the claims that Mary gave birth to the immaculate conception (Keith, 017). This could not be entrusted with anyone else, and therefore, she must have been some superior being. It explains the respect accorded to Mary. John would teach that the Holy Communion, which comprised bread and wine, changed the body and blood. He also showed that God was not sovereign over man decisions and will. He claims that these are the things that are within our power and, therefore, out of the providence of God's inception.
He also opposes the theology around the origin of the Holy Spirit. According to Damascus, the Holy Spirit and the son come from the same source that is God, the father. True theology teaches that the Holy Spirit is breathed from God. The fatherland, therefore, would go forth from the son. Thus, his teachings on Mary, icons, relics, and the Lord's Supper were all based on wrong doctrines. One lesson that he was right and clear was, however, the aspect of trinity. He taught that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit occupied a triad and were intertwined together with the be three persons in one (Schadler, 2017). This kind of teachings was known as perichoresis.
John explains that the church is a place for God and not of God. Later on, he defends his claims by dictating that individuals are the habitation of God, quoting the scriptures that God said he would dwell in them, walk in them and b their God. When he refers to this habitation, he does not mean literary every believer in Jesus Christ but rather the saints who are already in heaven. He argues against the Muslims who advocate for a monolithic approach to divinity to be restricting the personal relationship that God would want to establish with his people.
St. John Damascus was also the first one to become a Muslim apologist. His criticism against Islam is that they are the descendants of Ishmael and Agar, who is termed to be the forerunner of the Antichrist. This explains the reason why Damascus would be the first apologetic against the Israelites. The Agarenes were idle worshipers who worshipped after the sun and thus St. John Damascus lights against the Muslims (Khalek, 2011). His argument is on the trinity of God that if God were without the spirit and the son, then He would not be God. The Muslims are termed as hetaerists since they believe in the prophet and not the mind. The claims of the prophet are based on Hebrew rejects of the gospel of Jesus, who sought to lead those who did not believe in him. Therefore, they found an alternative way to lure the people into false religion and not heeding to the gospel of Jesus. St.
Damascus explains that Mohamed would take advantage of his position to commit heresies and sin in the name of God. The people believed him to be an apostle and, therefore, followed everything that he said. He even wrote thousands of manuscripts, which are the hadiths claimed to have come from God himself. An example the St. Damascus gives for the exploitation of people is a friend to Mohammed called Zeid in whom Mohamed took his wife (Narinskaya, 2012). He told Zeid that God had commanded him to take the wife and marry her and Zeid, knowing that this was God's apostle, e gave away his wife.
Another criticism would be mainly on the stories that Mohamed would write, like the Camel of which drunken water and gave people milk instead. The people being evil killed it but eft a heifer behind. Later, the people claimed to have come from God. Therefore, St. Damascus would defend that this was consistent with the story of Jesus, which the Muslims were denied. Sine if a camel could be begotten of no one, which then would Christ not be begotten of the holy spirit. This and many more, criticism di St. Damascus has on the Islamic nation.
Janosik, Daniel J. John of Damascus, first apologist to the Muslims: The Trinity and Christian apologetics in the early Islamic period. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016.
Khalek, Nancy. Damascus after the Muslim conquest: text and image in Early Islam. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Keith, Zachary M. "John of Damascus: Rewriting the Division of Heresy and Schism." Vox Patrum 37 (2017): 501-12.
Schadler, Peter. John of Damascus and Islam: Christian Heresiology and the Intellectual Background to Earliest Christian-Muslim Relations. Brill, 2017.
Narinskaya, Elena. "On the Divine Images: Theology Behind the Icons and their Veneration in the Early Church." Transformation 29, no. 2 (2012): 139-148.
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