By Sam Shamoun
We continue with another installment where we illustrate how the arguments and objections made by Muslim polemicist Shabir Ally against Christianity end up exposing Muhammad as a false prophet since he failed to live up to Ally’s very own standards and criticisms.
Jesus as God’s Word
In the second rebuttal period of his debate with David Wood concerning Muhammad, Ally referred to John 1:1 where Jesus is identified as the eternal divine Word who existed with God the Father in perfect loving communion from before the creation of all things,
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone… The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.” John 1:1-4, 9-10 New Living Translation (NLT)
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
And then asked Christians,
“Where did John get this from? Did Jesus ever say ‘I am the Word of God’? Did he say these words anywhere in the Bible? Even in John’s Gospel Jesus doesn’t say it; John is saying this about Jesus. So now how does John know this, if Jesus didn’t actually say it?” (Does Muhammad give us the truth about Jesus?)
Ally’s assertions are filled with so many logical fallacies that it is hard to know where to begin.
In the first place, absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence, e.g., just because John doesn’t record Jesus identifying himself as the eternal Word made flesh doesn’t mean that the latter never made such a claim. After all, even John admits that he didn’t write down everything that Jesus said or did:
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:30-31
Therefore, Ally is simply arguing from silence at this point.
Secondly, all throughout the Gospel Jesus refers to himself in some of the same ways that John in his prologue does. For instance, both of them affirm that Christ existed alongside of the Father before coming into the world:
“ He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:2
“No one has ascended to heaven except He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven.” John 3:13
“For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me… Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before?” John 6:38, 62
“He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.’” John 8:23
“‘I have told you these things in proverbs. But the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in proverbs, for I will speak to you plainly about the Father. On that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying to you that I shall ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. As I said, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’ His disciples said to Him, ‘Yes! Now You are speaking plainly and with no figure of speech. Now we know that You know everything and do not need anyone to question You. By this we believe that You came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” John 16:25-31
“And now, O Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory which I had with You before the world existed… For I have given them the words which You gave Me. They have received them and certainly know that I came from You, and they have believed that You sent Me… Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may see My glory which You have given Me. For You loved Me before the creation of the world.” John 17:5, 8, 24
Both speak of him as possessing life in himself, a quality which enables him to give life to others:
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.” John 1:4
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He will… Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life in Himself… Do not marvel at this. For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear HIS [the Son’s] VOICE and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:21, 25-26, 28-29
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’… Then Jesus, again groaning within Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You ALWAYS hear Me. But because of the people standing around, I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ When He had said this, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ He who was dead came out, his hands and feet wrapped with grave clothes, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what Jesus had done, believed in Him.” John 11:23-27, 38-45
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, AND THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6
Both identify Christ as the Light which gives illumination to mankind:
“The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not know Him.” John 1:9-10
“Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.’” John 8:12
“I must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5 – cf. 12:35-36, 46
Both testify that Christ came into the world for the purpose of saving it:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” John 3:16-18
“If anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47
This in itself lends some credence to the probability that it was Jesus himself who personally informed his disciples that he is the divine Word who came down from the Father’s own heavenly presence for the purpose of revealing God to man and saving the world from its sins.
This brings us to the next point. The Apostle records the Lord’s promise to send them the Holy Spirit who would not only remind them of what Christ had taught them,
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything AND REMIND YOU of all that I told you.” John 14:26
But also reveal new things to them, things that Christ did not share with them while he was on earth because they were not ready to bear them:
“I have yet many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come.” John 16:12-13
And this is what we find stated throughout John’s Gospel, e.g., John mentions specific events in the life of Christ which he and the other Disciples later remembered:
“After this He, and His mother, and His brothers, and His disciples went down to Capernaum. They remained there a few days. The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers sitting there. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. He poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ His disciples REMEMBERED that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me.’ Then the Jews said to Him, ‘What sign do You show us, seeing that You do these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking concerning the temple of His body. Therefore, when He was raised from the dead, His disciples REMEMBERED that He had said this to them. And they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” John 2:12-22
“On the next day a great crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took branches of palm trees, and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!’ Then Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written: ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.’ His disciples did not understand these things at first. But when Jesus WAS GLORIFIED, they REMEMBERED that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.” John 12:12-16
The reason why Jesus’ followers didn’t remember or understand the significance of what Christ had done here until he was glorified, is because it wasn’t until then that the Spirit had been given to them:
“‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ By this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believe in Him would receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not YET GLORIFIED.” John 7:38-39
The foregoing examples show that John was writing down all the things the Holy Spirit had reminded him and the others of, along with all of the further revelation and insights that they couldn’t initially take in while Christ was physically with them until the Spirit had been sent to them.
Therefore, even if Christ hadn’t gone around identifying himself as the eternal Word made flesh this would still pose no problem, since this would have been part of the additional revelation which God’s Spirit was sent to reveal to John and the rest of the Apostles.
With that said we can proceed to the second part of our rebuttal.