Friday, February 12, 2016

Worshiping Jesus as God

Exposing More of Ali Ataie’s Blunders and Distortions Pt. 3b

By Sam Shamoun

Continuing from where we left off, we will now discuss Ataie’s assertions regarding the story in John’s Gospel where a blind man worships the Lord Jesus.

Christ and the Blind Man: A Classic Example of Question Begging

Ataie mentions the episode of the blind man worshiping Christ, and then incredulously asks,

“Are we really to believe that a Jewish man inside the temple of Solomon is worshiping Jesus as God and committing idolatry? No!”

This is a classic case of begging the question, also known as circular reasoning. Ataie has assumed that Jesus is not God in essence, and that John’s Gospel doesn’t identify Christ as the God-Man, and on that basis assumes that it would have been idolatry for the blind to worship Jesus.

Yet all of this ignores and/or overlooks the fact that John has already told his readers that Christ is God’s eternal Word who brought into being the entire creation and who then became a flesh and blood human being for our salvation:

“WHEN ALL THINGS BEGAN, the Word already was. The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was. The Word, then, was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; no single thing was created without him. All that came to be was alive with his life, and that life was the light of men… He was in the world; but the world, though it owed its being to him, did not recognize him… So the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us, and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 10, 14 New English Bible (NEB)

It further ignores Jesus’ own words where he identifies himself as the unique, divine Son who can do and only does whatever he sees the Father doing, which includes giving life to whomever he pleases and raising the dead, and whom the Father commands everyone to honor in the same exact way that they honor God. Christ even claims to be Life itself and the One who shall resurrect the dead at the last day and hour by the sound of his gloriously majestic and sovereign voice:

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honor the Son, JUST AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him… 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 5:21-29

This is the will of the Father who has sent Me, that of all whom He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:39-40, 44

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

This raises problems for Ataie since the Quran teaches that Allah is the truth and life that raises the dead from their graves at the last hour!

That is because Allah, He is the Truth, and it is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who is Able to do all things. And surely, the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it, and certainly, Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves. S. 22:6-7 Hilali-Khan

Therefore, Jesus could only make such claims if in fact he is God in the flesh (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit).

Ataie’s woes do not end just yet, since in that very chapter where Jesus heals the blind man, Christ describes himself as the Light of the world who has the power to give both spiritual and physical sight to all who turn to him:

As Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned. But it happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 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.’… Jesus said, I came into this world for judgment, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.’ Some Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, ‘Are we also blind?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, “We see.” Therefore your sin remains.’” John 9:1-5, 39-41

This is an assertion which Jesus makes all throughout the Gospel:

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 – cf. 12:35-36, 46

Christ is even said to be the true or real Light, e.g. the Source of all illumination who enlightens all men in order to bring them to the path of salvation:

“The real light which enlightens every man was even then coming into the world.” John 1:9

Once again, this is a characteristic which Islam ascribes to Allah alone:

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things. S. 24:35 Pickthall

It is therefore quite certain that worshiping Jesus is not idolatry, but the only appropriate response one can render to him seeing that he is the divine Son that became flesh, being the eternal Word of God who is coequal to the Father in glory, honor and power.

With the foregoing in perspective, we can now turn our focus to the text itself so we can see whether the blind man worshiped Jesus in recognition of his being the divine Son of God and sovereign Lord:

“The man answered, ‘Well, here is an amazing thing! You do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. But if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began, it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were completely born in sin. Are you teaching us?’ And they threw him out. Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ He answered, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen Him, and it is He who speaks with you.’ Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped Him (kai prosekynesen auto).” John 9:30-38

Here we have Jesus being worshiped in the context of his being the Son of God and the Light of the world. In fact, the reason why Jesus healed the man who had been born blind was to provide miraculous confirmation that he indeed possesses the divine ability to bestow spiritual and physical sight to anyone he pleases, a point made in the other Gospels as well:  

As Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!’ When He entered the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, Do you believe that I AM ABLE TO DO THIS?They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith, let it be done for you.’ And their eyes were opened, and Jesus strictly commanded them, saying, ‘See that no one knows of it.’ But when they had departed, they spread His fame in all that region.” Matthew 9:27-31

No wonder the blind man worshiped Jesus as Lord since he could see (pun intended!) that Christ was no ordinary human being. The man was given the illumination to know and believe that Jesus is the unique divine Son of God and Savior of the world.

With that said we are now ready to turn to the final part of our rebuttal.

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