Sunday, February 26, 2012

Revisiting “Where Did Jesus Say ‘I am God’”

A Response to the Muhammedan Site “Do Not Say Trinity”
Keith Thompson

This is a response to a Muslim who calls himself “question mark.” He operates the “Do Not Say Trinity” dawa website.  I will refer to this man as DNST. In his recent paper entitled Where did Jesus (pbuh) say, I am God”? – A Good Argument! he responded to my my paper Is Asking “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am God’” a Good Argument? Suffice it to say, his paper is wrought with many errors and gross misinterpretations.

In my original paper my argument was that it is erroneous for Muslim apologists to demand Jesus say “I am God” and reject any other proofs for His deity since Jesus used numerous titles of God from the Old Testament which God deemed sufficient to establish and confirm His divine identity. I mentioned the titles Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, Bridegroom, Savior, I Am, King of kings and Lord of lords.

DNST’s Failure to Address my Main Argument

Amazingly, in his article DNST didn’t address the issue of these divine Old Testament titles being applied to Christ in the New Testament at all. He didn’t dispute the fact that these were titles God used for Himself to establish His own unique deity which were also applied to Christ. No adequate explanation of this phenomenon was given by DNST. Instead he asserts that these are “cliché Christian arguments” and moves on, which shows that he could not deal with the central argument and chose to resort to ridicule, dismissal and mere assertion. This is not how you engage in reasonable and honest apologetics.

DNST took the route of ignoring my argument and once again tried to defend the position that if Jesus was God He would have said the three words “I am God.” He also tried to argue that there are texts which show Jesus isn’t God in the New Testament. However, his arguments literally are cliché Muslim arguments which I will refute. After I refute his specious reasoning and arguments, he will then need to deal with these numerous Old Testament titles of God that are applied to Christ in the New Testament.

Revisiting the issue of why Jesus Didn’t Say the Exact Words “I am God”

DNST cites numerous Old Testament texts where God says “I am God” or something close to that (Gen. 35:11; Gen. 46:3; Exo. 6:7; Exo. 16:12; Lev. 11:44 etc). Because it is a repeated theme for God to say “I am God” in the Old Testament the argument is that Christ should have come out and said “I am God” with those exact words as well. DNST argues that this phrase “has always been an insignia of traditional Judeo-Christian God” and thus we would expect Christ to use it without hesitation if He were truly God.

The problem is that if Jesus were to come out and say “I am God” without clearly and forcefully establishing his personal distinction from the Father, and His deity in relation to that fact, people would think He was claiming to be the same person as the Father. This is because God was used primarily in reference to the Father and virtually served as His proper name. In other words, to come out and say “I am God” instead of first establishing His distinction from the Father, would lead His followers into thinking He was making himself out to be the Father in heaven.(1) This is why Jesus didn’t just walk around saying “I am God” as the Muslims demand.

Thus, Jesus needed to communicate His deity in such a way that His audience would know that He wasn’t claiming to be the Father, even though He was claiming to be God. In light of this, there was no better way for Jesus to affirm the fact that He is God then by the way the Gospels report he did, e.g. the unique Son of God and divine Son of Man who is coequal with the Father in essence, and also by applying divine titles and metaphors to Himself.

For instance, Jesus applied an Old Testament title “I Am” to himself, which is significant since he was basically making himself out to be the OT figure known as the Angel of the Lord, the “I Am” of Exodus 3:14! There were many different Jewish strands at that time that already maintained that this figure was God and yet distinct from God.(2) Thus, by using the title “I Am” Jesus was affirming both His deity as well as His distinction from the Father since in the Old Testament “I Am” was applied to both God (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:13) and the Angel of the Lord (cf. Exodus 3:14). One needs to understand intertestimental Jewish thinking in order to understand these issues properly. Without this pre-Christian Jewish backdrop in mind Muslims will be unable to understand why Jesus did what He did and said the things He said.

In summary, although Christ didn’t say “I am God” without qualification, which would have led people to think he was the Father, he did apply numerous Old Testament titles of God to Himself while going out of his way to affirm that He is not the Father.

Therefore, it is understandable why Jesus didn’t say “I am God” during His earthly ministry. That would severely complicate things and lead to a mistaken notion of the Godhead. Jesus affirmed the equivalent of “I am God” in a brilliant way while safeguarding the fact that He and the Father are personally distinct from each other.

John 20:28-29 Ignored Since it Refutes DNST

Notice what DNST didn’t address in his paper. He didn’t address how I argued that in John 20:28-29 Jesus blessed Thomas after he identified Him as his Lord and God.
Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."” (John 20:28-29)
This was after everyone knew Jesus was not the same person as the Father and so Jesus could now affirm that he was God. At this point in the disciples’ experience they would have properly understood what it meant for Christ to also be called theos. By blessing Thomas’ confession of faith in Him as His Lord and God, this is the equivalent of Jesus identifying Himself as the Lord God, the very thing DNST demands of Jesus. But of course DNST failed to address Jesus affirming that He is Lord and God in this text and simply brushed it aside. If he decides to actually address this passage then I highly recommend he doesn’t repeat the tired cliché arguments of Mohammedans like Zawadi and Zaatari which were utterly refuted in the John section this paper. Even the radical unbelieving New Testament critic Dr. Bart Ehrman agrees that this verse, and numerous texts in the Gospel of John, affirm Jesus’ divinity.(3)

More Cliché Muslim Arguments Against Jesus’ Deity

John 5:19, 30-31

Although my argument concerning Old Testament titles of God being appropriated to Christ still stands, and DNTS’s main argument has been refuted, he did attempt to throw in numerous familiar out-of-context and mishandled verses to try to re-enforce his denial of the deity of Christ. Interestingly he cites John 5:19 and 30-31 to try to show that Jesus isn’t God. The ironic thing is that right before I saw that he released his article, I had just gotten through refuting another past article of his which abused these same three texts. At this time that response of mine isn’t published yet so DNST isn’t at fault for making arguments I already responded to. So rather then re-present everything I already said about these texts which DNST is fond of misusing and perverting, I will refer people to my other article titled Jesus as Divine Judge: Rebuttal to the “Do Not Say Trinity” Mohammedans where John 5:19 and 30-31 are discussed in depth. DNST even made the same argument based on his distortion of Albert Barnes’ words which I also refuted in that specific rebuttal.

I will briefly say that although DNST’s Good News Edition translation of John 5:30 says “I can do nothing on my own authority” there is no “on my own authority” in the original Greek text. The Greek reads Ou (not) dynamai (am able) egō (I) poiein (to do) ap' (from) emautou (myself) ouden (nothing). Literal translation: “I am not able to do anything from myself.” Hence, Christ is simply saying that he can’t do anything separately (“of myself”) from the Father. This is what Christianity has always taught. Like I said in the other article, Muslims want to see limitation of Christ in these texts, but what is actually being communicated is the perfect unity and communion between the Father and Son, as well as their mutual interdependence. Jesus doesn’t act independently from the Father because He and the Father are in perfect union. Therefore, it is impossible for Him to act apart from the Father or contrary to His will. This was Christ’s point. His point wasn’t inability, but a refutation of the implicit assumption of His claiming to be an independent deity in competition with the Father, since the Jews thought that he was claiming to have equal authority with the Father as some independent being who chose to exercise it apart from the will of the Father (cf. John 5:16-18). I would therefore exhort my friend DNST to remove his Islamic coloured glasses when reading these texts. In the other article I showed all of the proof for Jesus’ deity in John 5 which should make everyone wonder why Muslim apologists isolate 5:19, 30-31 when the totality of the chapter refutes their position and demonstrates that Christ is God (see John 5:15-18, 22-23, 25-26, 28-29).

Although Muslim apologists like to also quote Jesus in John 5:19 saying “the Son can do nothing of Himself”, which is again a statement of unity and perfect harmony with the Father as opposed to limitation, why is it that the Muslims never explain the rest of the verse which says “whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise”? Why cite a half of a verse to try to disprove Jesus’ deity when the rest of the verse demonstrates that Jesus does and can do everything God does? Would DNST find it acceptable if someone were to say that Muhammad does everything Allah does? No, that would affirm that Muhammad is partaking in divine prerogatives making him deity, thereby violating Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism). So why then the double standards when it comes to Christ? I submit that double standards must be employed because DNST cannot admit the truth about Christ as revealed in the New Testament. His Quran, which comes 600 years after the New Testament, will not permit him to accept what the Holy Bible clearly teaches and he is thereby forced to distort it. This is the major problem when it comes to Muslim apologists handling the Holy Bible.

Acts 2:22
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know”  (Acts 2:22).
DNST highlights this passage’s statement that Jesus is a man approved by God who did miracles by the power of God. So I will answer the two apparent objections. 1.) Why does this text say Jesus is a man approved by God if Jesus is deity? And 2.) If Jesus is deity why did He do miracles by God’s power? A few months ago Sam Shamoun lectured on this text and presented a very convincing exegesis which demonstrated Christ’s deity from Acts 2. I will provide a similar but condensed exegesis in the hope that Muslim apologists will stop abusing this text.

First, no Christian denies that Jesus was fully human. Historic Christianity has affirmed the doctrine of the hypostatic union (Jesus being fully man and fully God – two distinct natures). This is deduced from texts like Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”, and 1 Corinthian 2:8 where it is said that they “crucified the Lord of glory.” Both Christ’s human and divine natures are strongly indicated in such texts. Thus, it is no surprise or problem that Peter identifies Jesus as a man. We believe Jesus was a man, but not just a man. Paul does the same thing. He identifies “the man Christ Jesus” as our perfect mediator in 1Timothy 2:5 (cf. Romans 5:17) while simultaneously teaching Jesus’ deity (Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:16-19; Titus 2:13).

Second, the setting, audience and surrounding context of Acts 2:22 need to be understood in order to see how Jesus’ deity is established here and how Muslims are therefore in error concerning the meaning of this passage. In Acts 2 Peter is giving a speech or address to unbelieving Jews (v. 14) on the day of Pentecost right after they accused Jesus’ followers of being drunk on new wine (v. 13). This accusation was made because the Holy Spirit enabled Christ’s disciples to speak in different languages (vv. 4-12). Therefore, Peter stood up in front of the crowd of unbelieving Jews and delivered his Pentecost address (vv. 14-41) in the hopes of convincing the crowds of the truth of Christ in light of the miracles they had just witnessed.

I will argue that Peter’s approach is to 1.) affirm things the unbelieving crowd could agree with while 2.) affirming Jesus’ deity once he had them on board agreeing with him that Jesus is not a false teacher/Messiah. How does Peter establish point 1? He does so by affirming that Jesus is a man who did miracles. No one could deny this in light of Jesus’ ministry. These are points of agreement even though the Jews mistakenly thought Jesus’ miracles were not from God (cf. Matthew 12:24). It would not make sense for Peter to merely say that the Jews had crucified God when they didn’t even believe that Jesus was their Messiah, let alone their God! This is why Peter said what he said in Acts 2:22, emphasizing the fact that Jesus is a man who did miracles.

However, in Acts 2:16-21 Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 to demonstrate that these signs of Pentecost are a fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy:
But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved'” (Acts 2:16-21).
This is where Peter goes on to affirm Jesus’ deity while establishing points of agreement no one could contest. Notice, in Peter’s citation of Joel 2:28-29 it is said that YHWH will pour of His Spirit on His people. Peter is arguing that the followers of Christ speaking in tongues in vv. 4-12 is a fulfillment of this prophecy. YHWH has poured out His Spirit on Jesus’ followers, not on some other Jewish group, something which God would never have done if Jesus was a false Messiah. Thus, this is Peter’s argument for Jesus’ Messiahship. 

However, now that Peter has proven that Jesus is not a false Messiah by establishing points of agreement no one can deny (e.g. Jesus being a man who did miracles, the crowds witnessing with their own eyes and ears the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ), he then affirms that Jesus is both man and God. The prophecy in Joel 2:28-29 says YHWH will pour out His Spirit. But according to Peter it is Jesus who poured out His Spirit:
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33).
Jesus must therefore be YHWH if he does the very thing which the prophet Joel clearly stated YHWH will do! Therefore, as opposed to Acts 2 being a denial of the deity of Christ it actually turns out to be a rather clear affirmation of his perfect divine essence if the context is properly understood. Once Peter established points of agreement and proved Jesus was the Messiah, he then set out to affirm Jesus’ deity.

Going further, notice that in the prophecy of Joel 2:32, which Peter quotes, it is said that:
"And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved(Acts 2:21).
The prophecy says that whoever calls on the name of YHWH will be saved. However, in Acts 2:38 Peter says that people will be saved (i.e. have their sins forgiven) when they repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ:
“And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
The prophecy says that those who call on YHWH’s name will be saved. Yet Peter says those who are baptized in the name of Christ will be saved (e.g. receive forgiveness of sins and life through the Holy Spirit that is given to them as a gift). In other words, Jesus is YHWH according to Peter’s Spirit-filled proclamation! Thus, far from refuting the deity of Christ, Acts 2 strongly affirms it.

In fact, the book of Acts is very clear on this subject. For instance, Acts 9:14 shows that the first Jewish Christians were calling on the name of Christ to be saved, which is what the prophecy in Joel said people would be doing in reference to YHWH:
But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name” (Acts 9:13-14; cf., Romans 10:9, 13).
Joel's prophecy which Peter quotes (calling on the name of YHWH to be saved) is fulfilled by Christians who are baptized in the name of Christ for forgiveness of sins and by Christians who call on the name of Christ to be saved.

In summary DNST needs to understand Acts 2 in its context and deal with what it is actually teaching instead of quoting some verses out of context. DNST quoted the part of Peter’s argument where he was establishing points of agreement concerning Christ which no one could deny – not even the unbelieving Jews. However, DNST failed to quote the rest of Peter’s argument or address where he affirms that Christ is both man and God.

Now on to point 2. Why does it say God did the miracles through Jesus? DNST also cites Luke 11:20 which says “it is rather by means of God’s power that I drive out demons”, and Matthew 12:28 which says “No, it is not Beelzebul, but God’s Spirit, who gives me the power to drive out demons.”

First, when Acts 2:22 says God did miracles through Jesus thereby identifying the Father as God, it must be noted that this title choice is not a denial of Jesus being God (or theos). As mentioned before and affirmed in footnote 1, theos virtually served as the Father’s proper name in that period. The use of God primarily for the Father was done to avoid linguistic ambiguity and safeguard the personal distinctions between the Father, Son and Spirit in the New Testament. However, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also identified as God or YHWH on several occasions (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2-3; John 1:18; John 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1).

This is similar to how the Old Testament calls the first male Adam (Genesis 5:3) while also applying the name Adam to the female as well (Genesis 5:1-2), or mankind in general (Genesis 9:4-6). Yet this doesn’t stop the Hebrew Scriptures from using the name Adam exclusively for the first man in contexts where he is distinguished from Eve his wife (Genesis 4:25).

The same concept applies when Jesus is distinguished from God, which in those specific contexts refers to the Father. This doesn’t, therefore, mean that Christ (or the Holy Spirit) are not God (theos), anymore than Eve can’t be Adam just because she is distinguished from Adam and married to him.

Second, DNST states:
If Jesus (peace be upon him) was an absolute Deity, then why he was not performing miracles by himself? We all know that God can perform miracles.”
There are three views concerning Jesus’ use of the Father and Spirit’s power for His miracles/deeds. 1.) The occasionally dependent view. 2.) The predominantly dependent view. 3.) The exclusively dependent view. I will affirm and defend the first view – occasional dependence. There are texts DNST has highlighted where Jesus relied on the power of the Father and Spirit for the miracles/deeds He performed. And Luke 4:14-18 can be included. However, there were dozens and dozens of miracles and deeds of Christ where no mention is made of him depending on the Father and Spirit to do them. In fact there are texts where He asserts His own divine ability/power as the source of the miracles (cf. Matthew 8:27; Mark 1:21; 4:35-41; John 2:19; 10:17-18). This doesn’t mean the power of the Father and Spirit was absent. By Christ performing miracles with His own divine power He was still working in unison with the Father and Spirit as well. Christ relied on the Father, the Spirit and His own divine power to perform miracles, but sometimes chose to withhold or limit the use of His own power.

The most important point is that one must not import the notion of powerlessness or non-deity just because Christ relied on the Father and the Spirit for many of His miracles. One can have power and yet choose to rely on other sources of power. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. For example, a king can send his army to conquer a land, or he can allow one of his allies to accomplish that task. That doesn’t automatically render the king or his army powerless or weak. Therefore, from the Trinitarian perspective there is no problem with Jesus relying on the Father and Spirit in regards to certain miracles, or even all miracles if one takes the exclusive view; especially when one keeps in mind the humbling motif found in the New Testament concerning Christ (Cf. Mark 10:45; Luke 22:27; John 6:38; 13:3-17; Philippians 2:6-11).

Matthew 19:16-17
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mat 19:16-17, KJV).
Commenting on this text DNST asserts that Jesus “explicitly denied any divinity bestowed upon him when a rich man mistakenly attempted to claim Jesus (peace be upon him) with divine perfection and goodness.” However, DNST is seeing things in this text which are not there. Nowhere in the text does Jesus deny that He is good, e.g. he doesn’t come right and say the words “I am not good so stop calling me that”. He asks why the rich young ruler calls Him good. There is a difference. And nowhere does Jesus deny that He is God. He says no one is good but God, which could easily be a 3rd person reference to Himself as I will argue. Christ is very clear that He is good since early in His ministry he affirmed that He would fulfill every righteous ordinance the law demands (Matthew 3:15). And 1 Peter 2:22 is in agreement when it says that “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” Hebrews 4:15 likewise confirms that Christ was without sin. According to Christ and the New Testament witness Jesus was without sin and thus perfectly good and absolutely pure.

So what exactly then did Jesus mean when He answered the rich young ruler? Jesus was doing two things 1.) Showing the rich young ruler who he was actually dealing with and 2.) letting the young ruler know that He shouldn’t be going around calling anyone good who He didn’t intimately know the nature of, since only God is good. As Stephan S. Short notes in the New International Bible Commentary:
His approach to Jesus, however, was unbecomingly obsequious, for, in contravention of normal Jewish custom, he addressed Him as ‘Good Teacher’. Jesus rebuked him for this, reminding him that ‘good’ was a designation which was normally reserved for God, only God being good without qualification. Jesus was not hereby disclaiming being either ‘God’ or ‘good’, but was merely criticizing His being addressed thus by someone who clearly was completely unaware of His divine nature.”(4)
 As Robert Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski further note:
Jesus was not denying being good; he was pointing out that human beings are not good and therefore, since the young man who approached Jesus regarded him as a merely human ‘teacher,’ he should not have addressed him flatteringly as ‘good teacher’… If anything, Jesus’ statement in the context implies that Jesus is more than a human, since Jesus goes on to summon the young man to follow him in order to be complete.”(5)
In fact, based on the earliest Greek witnesses, modern translations correctly render Matthew 19:17 as “Why do you ask me about what is good?” instead of “why do you call me good?” (as found in the KJV). As Bowman and Komoszewski state “Matthew’s wording (“Why are you asking me about the good?”) does not change the meaning; rather, on the assumption that Matthew’s account is based on Mark, it avoids the possible misunderstanding that Jesus was denying being good.”(6) Thus, the very Gospel of Matthew which DNST utilized, once examined in light of the most reliable and ancient Greek witnesses, refutes his argument.

John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3 KJV).
DNST concludes from this text that “Jesus (peace be upon him) is portrayed as anybody but God.” However, although Christ identifies the Father as the only true God, it is important to highlight what Jesus did not say. He did not say that only the Father is the only true God. The same John who authored this Gospel authored the book of 1 John as well. And in 1 John 5:20 we see Jesus identified as “the true God”:
"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true — even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).
Those who consult the totality of Holy Scripture, instead of isolating verses out of context, accept the fact that the Father and the Son are both identified as the true God. The reason why in John 17:3 Jesus says that eternal life entails knowing the only true God and Christ is because, as the Protestant Reformer John Calvin notes: “…there is no other way in which God is known but in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the bright and lively image of Him.”(7) Moreover, two verses later in v. 5 Christ clearly affirms His pre-existent unique relationship with the Father wherein He shared in the Father’s glory:
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5).
Christ affirmed that He partook in the Father’s divine glory before He became a human being and even before the world was created. If Christ is Himself not deity how could this be? In Isaiah 48:11 God says “my glory I give to no other.” Therefore, Christ is none other than God since in his prehuman existence He shared in the Father’s glory. Isolating 17:3 and claiming it refutes the deity of Jesus, when Jesus affirms His deity just two verses later in the same prayer, is absurd and disingenuous.

Matthew 6:9-13
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be THY name. THY kingdom come. THY will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For THINE is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV).
DNST comments on this text:
“Witnessing that only the so called person of Father was divine, Jesus (peace be upon him) teaches that prayers have to be exclusively directed to Father…We wonder if Jesus (peace be upon him) was also God then why did he ask his followers to direct their prayers exclusively to the so called “person” of Father! It was more natural that his followers directed their prayers to Jesus (peace be upon him) who was with them than Father whom they would never be able to see! [Or they could have directed their prayers to all three "persons" of the so called Trinity.]”
Again we witness the repeated pattern of DNST seeing things in texts which are not really there. Nowhere in Matthew 6 does Jesus say to only pray to the Father or to only pray this one prayer. Since Jesus doesn’t indicate that this is the only prayer one must offer or that only the Father is to be prayed to, Jesus’ words must be taken as meaning that this is a “model” prayer or essential (not exclusive) “pattern for our devotions.”(8) This is confirmed by the fact that Jesus commanded His followers to pray to Him directly “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). And this is why, after Christ’s resurrection, His earliest devoted followers didn’t hesitate to pray to Christ:
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60) – cf. Acts 1:24-25; 9:14; 22:16; Revelation 22:20-21
Finally, in his haste to write a rather shoddy response DNST overlooked the fact that texts such as John 17:3 and Matthew 6:9-13 prove that the Islamic deity is a false god and that Muhammad was a false prophet. According to these texts, Jesus speaks of praying to the Father and that the Father is the only true God. This is confirmed by the writings of the Apostle Paul:
“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
However, Muhammad taught that his god was nobody’s father, and he rejected the assertion of the Jews and Christians that they were the spiritual children of God and that God was their spiritual Father (cf. Surahs 5:18; 9:30; 19:88-93; 21:26). (We emphasize spiritual since this the only kind of filial relationship that Torah-observant Jews and true Christians during Muhammad’s time would have imagined they had with God. They did not think for a minute that God is a physical being who sired them through sexual procreation with a consort. And yet Muhammad still rejected this type of spiritual relationship and intimacy since he felt that his god was some tyrannical despot who only desired slaves, not sons.)

Thus, the very the Biblical passages which DNST quoted end up exposing and condemning Muhammad as an antichrist who preached in the name of a false god! (Cf. 1 John 2:22-23.)

Consistency Test: Where in the Quran Did Jesus say the Exact Words “I am the Messiah?”

In my initial paper which DNST responded to I argued:
“…would it be proper for me to demand that Jesus say “I am the Messiah” in the Quran, in those exact words when he doesn’t, and say that unless I get those exact four words from Jesus’ mouth nothing is good enough? Or is it rather fair to say there are texts in the Quran that strongly prove Islam teaches the Messiahship of Jesus but just not in the way I demand? Of course, there are. Therefore, to be consistent the Muslim must apply this approach to the Bible or else they are left employing double standards. Just because Jesus doesn’t say “I am God” it doesn’t mean His deity is not communicated in equally clear ways that have persuaded Christians for 2000 years. In like manner, just because Jesus, in the Quran, doesn’t say “I am the Messiah” in those exact words it doesn’t mean His Messiahship is not communicated in equally clear ways in the Quran.”
DNST offers two responses, one of which I already addressed (“I am God” being an Old Testament insignia of God). The other response to my argument is that DNST claims that Islam has “…Allah (SWT) – a higher authority than Christ (peace be upon him), testifying the Jesus (peace be upon him) is Messiah.” He then cites S. 3:45 and 4:171 where Allah is reported to have identified Jesus as Christ or Messiah. However, this answer from DNST demonstrates my point. He can’t show Jesus Himself saying He is the Messiah in the Quran. The question was not does Allah, your higher authority, say this. The question is: can you be consistent and give me the words of Jesus? No, you can’t. We believe YHWH inspired every word in the Old and New Testaments and so when you have an inspired human author like Luke, John or Paul identifying Christ as God, it is actually God identifying Christ as God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). So according to the orthodox view of the nature and inspiration of the Holy Bible, God has indeed confessed and identified his beloved Son to be God in essence. But that is not the issue. The issue is consistency. Muslim apologists demand that Jesus say “I am God” and reject everything else, yet they can’t even quote Jesus saying “I am the Messiah” once in the Quran! If the testimony of anyone other than Jesus is sufficient for Jesus’ Messiahship in the Quran, then to be consistent they have to accept the testimony of others as a sufficient basis for believing in the deity of Jesus. Moreover, there New Testament texts where the Father identifies Jesus as His Son: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 – cf. Matthew 17:5). So according to DNST’s criteria, since a higher authority (the Father) affirmed Christ’s son-ship, he is bound to accept it. But DNST will still not accept Jesus’ son-ship. So why should anyone believe that he would accept Jesus’ deity if He said “I am God” or if the Father said “my Son is God”? Hence, DNST’s counter argument is merely a smokescreen since he can’t meet my challenge. My point still stands and until and unless Muslims can be consistent and show that Jesus said “I am the Messiah” in the Quran, then logically they must cease using the “Where did Jesus say ‘I am God’” argument.

Conclusion

Since every argument DNST made was refuted, he is now burdened with the task of explaining why numerous Old Testament titles of God were applied to Christ in the New Testament. We have seen that DNST quotes texts out of context, and often times in chapters where his argument is refuted by statements just a few verses before or after. We saw that DNST’s tired cliché arguments against the deity of Jesus are not persuasive but have been refuted by scholars for a long time. We saw that DNST was unable to sufficiently answer my challenge about where Jesus in the Quran said “I am the Messiah.” It is abundantly clear that Jesus is God based on the totality and over all witness of the Holy Scriptures.

Christ has Risen, He is Lord!


Footnotes
1.) “Why, for example, do we not find statements such as “Jesus is God” throughout the New Testament Writings? ... the title is not used repeatedly because the identity of Jesus taught by the New Testament is that of God the Son in relation to his Father and the Spirit, thus preserving Trinitarian relations. The God of the Bible is a triune God, and repeated use of the title theos could lead to confusion. Normally in the New Testament, theos refers to God the Father, and in Trinitarian formulas “God” always denotes the Father, never the Son or the Spirit (e.g., 2 Cor. 13:14). The New Testament repeatedly distinguishes the Father, Son and Spirit, while also affirming the full equality of each of the persons of the Godhead. That is why, in the salutations of many New Testament letters, “God” is distinguished from “the Lord Jesus.” As a result of this distinction, theos virtually becomes a proper name for God the Father. Thus, if theos were used in reference to the Son as his proper name as well, linguistic ambiguity would emerge. For example, how could one make sense of 2 Corinthians 5:19: ‘God was in God, reconciling the world to himself.’ In order to preserve the personal distinctions within the Godhead, theos predominately denotes the Father and not the Son.” (Stephan J. Wellum, The Deity of Christ in the Apostolic Witness, eds., Christopher W. Morgan, Robert A. Peterson, The Deity of Christ, [Crossway, 2011], p. 147)
2.) Exodus 3:2 says: “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” However, two verses later this Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses, and who is shown to be distinct from YHWH (cf. Genesis 22:8-12), is identified as YHWH: “When the LORD [YHWH] saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am” (Exodus 3:4). First the Angel appeared out of the midst of the bush, and then YHWH God called Moses out of the bush. Thus the Angel of the Lord who identifies Himself as “I Am” in Exodus 3:14 is YHWH Himself and yet distinct from YHWH. In Exodus 23:21 YHWH says His name is in the Angel of the Lord which means this Angel bears the nature of YHWH. In Genesis 16:7 the Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar. Then in 16:13 this Angel is identified as YHWH and “the God who sees” Hagar. Thus this Angel is YHWH and yet distinct from YHWH just like Jesus is YHWH and yet distinct from YHWH. Proof that the pre-Christian Jews believed that this Angel of the Lord was YHWH and yet distinct from YHWH is plentiful. As Dr. Michael Heiser notes: “For the orthodox Israelite, Yahweh was both sovereign and vice regent occupying both ‘slots’ as it were at the head of the divine council. The binitarian portrayal of Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible was motivated by this belief. The ancient Israelite knew two Yahweh’s one invisible, a spirit, the other visible, often in human form.  The two Yahweh’s at times appear together in the text, at times being distinguished, at other times not. Early Judaism understood this portrayal and its rationale. There was no sense of a violation of monotheism since either figure was indeed Yahweh. There was no second distinct god running the affairs of the cosmos. During the Second Temple period, Jewish theologians and writers speculated on an identity for the second Yahweh. Guesses ranged from divinized humans from the stories of the Hebrew Bible to exalted angels. These speculations were not considered unorthodox. That acceptance changed when certain Jews, the early Christians, connected Jesus with this orthodox Jewish idea. This explains why these Jews, the first converts to following Jesus the Christ, could simultaneously worship the God of Israel and Jesus, and yet refuse to acknowledge any other god. Jesus was the incarnate second Yahweh. In response, as Segal’s work demonstrated, Judaism pronounced the two powers teaching a heresy sometime in the second century A.D.” (Michael Heiser, Two Powers in Heaven, Introduction). The “I Am” statements in John connect Jesus with the Angel of the Lord since in Exodus 3:14 the Angel of the Lord goes by that title. Jude 1:5 also connects Jesus with the Angel of the Lord by saying Jesus brought the Israelites out of Egypt which is what YHWH did through the Angel of the Lord (Exodus 23:20). Early Christians like Justin Martyr (A.D. 103 – 165) and others also affirmed that Jesus was the Old Testament Angel of the Lord (Justin Martyr, First Apology, Ch. 63).
3.) “The Gospel of John…goes a long way toward identifying Jesus himself as divine (see e.g., John 8:58; 10:30; 20:28)” (Bart Ehrman, Whose Word Is It? [Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006], p. 161)
4.) Stephan S. Short, Mark, ed., F.F. Bruce, New International Bible Commentary, [Zondervan, 1979], p. 1170
5.) Robert Bowman, J. Ed.  Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, [Kregel Publications, 2007], pp. 304-305 n. 3
6.) Ibid.
7.) Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 35: John, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50]
8.) William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Luke, [Baker, 1978], p. 609

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