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The Trouble with Christianity

Voerding demonstrates quite handily the fact that Christianity was never monolithic and what is called Christianity today is a work which has been in progress for two thousand years.Not often does a book come along which presents two thousand years of historical development in a concise and usable package. However, Philip Voerding has done just that in The Trouble with Christianity.

An amateur historian and comparative theologian, Voerding’s love for his subject is apparent. His command of the historical developments within the two millennia history of Christianity, as well as the centuries of pre-history, is incredible.

Voerding’s book is a basic primer. The format makes for easy reading, and the author has successfully condensed often complex theological positions to their essence. Muslims and non-Muslims alike can obtain a thumbnail sketch of Tertullian’s beliefs, the crux of the Arian-Athanasian controversy, a mini-history of the Crusades, and much more.

The book is divided into three main areas: the outline of history with conclusion, a discussion of Paul and the Trinity concept, and a discussion of the various Christian views of the atonement.

Voerding demonstrates quite handily the fact that Christianity was never monolithic and what is called Christianity today is a work which has been in progress for two thousand years. As such, does it truly reflect the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth? The author’s conclusion that the Jesus of Islam is the true historical Jesus is virtually forced when one honestly looks at the twists and turns and politics of Christian history.

Muslims (and many Christians, too) will find especially valuable the concise treatment of the appendices on the Trinity and the Atonement – key doctrines in all branches of Christianity.

Philip Voerding’s The Trouble with Christianity is definitely recommended reading.

The book can be purchased at the following links.

We listed them this way because the paperback is cheaper on Amazon.com, while the hardcover is cheaper on Barnes and Noble

The link for the paperback edition on Amazon.com ($10.79)

The link for the hardcover edition at Barnes and Noble ($17.99)

Brother Chris is a recent Muslim convert. Having been a Christian for 30 years and a former minister, he too knows the trouble with Christianity.

About Arsalan Rizvi

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10 comments

  1. Is this book very similar Muhammad Ata ar-Rahman’s work, “Jesus, the Prophet of Islam?”

  2. No, it isn’t. I have both, and they are quite different. Voerding’s book is more like a summary of an advanced college education of the early history of Christianity, etc., showing how it came to be what it is today, and how it became deviated from the truth. Some of points could stand to be expanded upon, and references added could be beneficial, but it is a solid, unique work.

  3. The reviewer doesn’t tell us much about the book that we couldn’t find elsewhere. Some more of his impressions and ideas about how the book falls short would have improved the review.

  4. As-Salam Alaikum, I am the author of the book The Trouble With Christianity and will give a little more information that will be helpful, InshaAllah. I gave Shahaada and became a 12er Shia Muslim in August 1999. Some brothers and sisters made a request that I write a book about my journey to Islam. In the meantime, Christians I knew were giving me flack for becoming a Muslim, especially after 9-11. In 2005, at the insistance of some dear brothers, I began to write this book, which I completed in 2007. Some of these brothers came up with the money to publish the book. We didn’t have an editor, either. By Allah’s grace, the book was finally published by AuthorHouse in August 2009.

    In the introduction, I give a short account of my journey to Islam from my Roman Catholic upbringing, through a decade of Pentecostal Holiness Christianity when I attended a 3 year bible school, then having to return to Catholicism, where I tried to find my niche in Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. As things turned out, I found the true Jesus Christ (AS), so to speak, and a whole lot more, in Islam as an Ithna Ashari Muslim.

    The chapters of the main part of the book deal with “Trouble” I found in Christianity”, one might say. I found too much polytheistic influences shaping early Christianity right away in the first decade of the movement. I also found different Christianities – Christian Gnostics, Jewish Christians who did use the writings of the Christian apostle Paul, who had controversies with the other Apostles (which are even recorded in the New Testament), mystical Christianity in Syria that isn’t Catholic or Gnostic, and a Zoroasterian influence – that was not present in the Jewish Scriptures. Actually, I can see influences from Vedic and Buddhist sources also, but I didn’t believe I was qualified at the time to write about those influences.

    In the next chapters, I attempt to give an account of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ to show that the Catholic view of God was not the only view held by proto-Catholic (or perhaps proto-Orthodox) Christians. Catholic doctrines were imposed upon the Roman Empire by Law. Yet, outside the Roman Empire to the East were Christian sects who held non-Catholic views.

    From there, I describe differences that develop between Eastern and Western Catholics until the final Schism occurs in 1054 CE. I talk about the Crusades, the development of dogma in the West (Roman Catholic) Church, medieval Christian sects in the West that differed from the Roman Catholics, and finally the Protestant Reformation. After the Reformation, we see a rising number of Christian sects in the West. Persecution by State Churches leads to migration to the New World.
    Since one of the founding American principles was freedom of Religion, we might say that all manner of Christian sects appeared in the USA, and missionaries spread those beliefs to the rest of the world. The problem is, none of these sects have the original Gospel, because their New Testament came together as a whole in the 4th and 5th centuries CE.

    In the appendices at the end of the book, I show just how different the the doctrine of God and how the alledged Atonement of Christ is supposed to work has changed over the centuries. I really believe that when Jesus Christ (AS) return with Al Mehdi (AS), Christians will have a rude awakening. I like Christians and have family members who are dear to me who are Christians, and I wrote this book for them also.

    I hope this late night rambling is useful to those who ant to know more about the book The Trouble With Christianity. Masalama!

  5. Salaams Phil! Thanks for the long post. That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I have a much better idea about the book between the review and your note. Wa salaam!

  6. If the author of the book, Philip, or anyone would like to know more about Buddhism, etc. there are books by other muslims on the topic of other religions. I am surprised by many brothers entering the different Muslim sects. I myself am a Sunni Muslim and have never heard of 12 er Muslims before. Interestingly, in Bahrain, we have a mix of Sunnis and Shias. There is a course right now happening for a couple of months, studying/explaining, Buddhism and about Buddha, very interesting for first time learners, (maybe he was even a true prophet, one of the 25,000 or more sent by Allah to various peoples), about Hinduism,Christianity and Judaism, as well. For more info, maybe contact Masjid Fateh, in Manama, or DiscoverIslambh.com. Peace be upon you.

  7. Diamond, most demographers state that over 75% of Bahrainis are 12er Shias. There has even been massive unrest there because the government discriminates against Shias. How could you not hear of them?

  8. He might just not realize that 12er = Shia, excepting some that call themselves Shia but are more specifically known as Ismailis, Bohras, etc.

  9. This seems to be an missionary book written by a convert.

  10. Unity Among Abrahamic Faith (Jews, Christians, Muslims) from deviating to love of power, position,competetion. Today we are hit by naturalist philosophy/Darwinist who attack religions in the name of Science, Logic, And Natural Philosophy that teach in our schools that make our children doubt in faith and incline to materialism. S. Nursi

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