Reza Aslan: Why Aren’t You a Jew?
Muslim Author Reza Aslan was subjected to an absurd and brutally ridiculous interview by Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green.
Aslan who is a Muslim wrote a book about Jesus, called “Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” and Green questioned his qualifications on the matter, and insisted that he may be biased because of his current religion.
Aslan actually has additional bonafides because he tried converting to Christianity in high school, and then at a Jesuit University, but has long since returned to Islam.
In the interview, Aslan defended himself: he had written a book about Islam, was a scholar of biblical history, who writes about many topics, including other religions, but Green insisted on hammering him with various versions of the same question.
The controversial interview went viral, so good is coming from it for the author as the interview really helped get his story out there.
But the question, remains: Why did Green insist with the view that as a Muslim, Aslan would be hopelessly biased about Jesus’ life? Wasn’t that, itself, bias?
What a strange accusation coming from the news organization widely regarded as king of doctrinaire spin and bias.
Scholars have the right and skills to explore whatever issues they choose, regardless of their religions or theoretical preferences or beliefs. If that weren’t the case almost all scholarship would have to be discarded.
Just as in psychology, behaviorists are biased in their criticisms of Freudian psychologists and other clinical theorists, and vise-versa. Everyone always sees their own side as brighter.
Aside from that, the charge of Muslim bias against Aslan is particularly unwarranted in view of Aslan’s forthright statements in a note at the very beginning of his book, which Green either ignored or didn’t get to.
Aslan wrote that he was raised in a family of “lukewarm Muslims and atheists.”
“After the Iranian revolution forced my family to flee our home [they emigrated to the U.S in 1979 when Aslan was seven years old]… religion in general and Islam in particular became taboo in our household.”
As a teenager, Aslan embraced Jesus while attending an evangelical Christian youth camp: “I burned with absolute devotion to my new found faith.”
“I began to eagerly share the good news about Jesus Christ with my friends and family, my neighbors and classmates, with people I’d just met and with strangers on the street.”
Later he attended Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school, where he deepened his study of Christianity.
That’s when he began to question the historicity or factual accuracy of the stories about Jesus. He concluded that Jesus was not the divine savior. Aslan then revisited Islam, “and began to rethink the faith of my forefathers.”
Nevertheless, his continued scholarly study of Christianity “… made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.”
In Terry Gross’s NPR interview on July 15, Reza Aslan says explicitly that Jesus was a thoroughly committed practicing Jew — that he was immersed in a Jewish context, was devoted to the Jewish God, and had no intention of creating a new religion.
“You have to place every word that comes out of his mouth, every action that he performs in a Jewish context,” he said.
Well, if you reject the virgin birth, Jesus’ divinity, and the resurrection — as Aslan does — what remains is something that looks a lot like Judaism.
So I can only say to Aslan: If you’re a scholar, and you’ve tried Christianity, and you’ve tried Islam, and you profess to be a spiritual disciple of Jesus the man, a human, a non-divine Jew with a generous spirit, what are you waiting for, why aren’t you a Jew?
Bernard Starr is a psychologist, college professor and journalist. He is the author of “Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew.” Website: click here.