By Sam Shamoun
We continue from where we left off.
The Witness of John
To begin with, Williams of all people should know that this is the one Gospel that no anti-Trinitarian or Muhammadan should ever appeal to when trying to undermine the absolute, essential Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even an agnostic Bible critic like Bart Ehrman knows that John’s Gospel goes out of its way to affirm that Christ is the eternal Word of God who is fully God in essence, and therefore coequal to God the Father:
“… Among other things, in this Gospel there are not simply allusions to Jesus’ divine power and authority. There are bald statements that equate Jesus with God and say that he was a preexistent divine being who came into the world. This view is not simply like Paul’s, in which Jesus was some kind of angel who then came to be exalted to a higher position of deity. For John, Jesus was equal with God and even shared his name and his glory in his preincarnate state. To use the older terminology (which I favored back then), this was an extremely high Christology.” (Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee [HarperOne, 2014], 7. Jesus as God on Earth: Early Incarnation Christologies, p. 270; bold emphasis ours)
“One of the most striking features of John’s Gospel is its elevated claims about Jesus. Here, Jesus is decidedly God and is in fact equal with God the Father–before coming into the world, while in the world, and after he leaves the world. Consider the following passages, which are found only in John among the four Gospels:
· In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have beheld his glory, glory as of the unique one before the Father, full of grace and truth. (1:1, 14; later this Word made flesh is named as ‘Jesus Christ,’ v. 17)
· But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working still, and I also am working.’ This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. (5:17-18)
· [Jesus said:] ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’ (8:58)
· [Jesus said:] ‘I and the Father are one.’ (10:30)
· Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’ (14:8-9)
· [Jesus prayed to God:] ‘I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.’
· [Jesus prayed:] ‘Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.’ (17:24)
· Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ (20:28)
“I need to be clear: Jesus is not God the Father in this Gospel. He spends all of chapter 17 praying to his Father, and, as I pointed out earlier, he is not talking to himself. But he has been given glory equal to that of God the Father. And he had that glory before he came into the world. When he leaves this world, he returns to the glory that was his before. To be sure, Jesus comes to be ‘exalted’ here–he several times talks about his crucifixion as being ‘lifted up’–a play on words in reference to being ‘lifted onto the cross’ and being ‘exalted’ up to heaven as a result. But the exaltation is not to a higher state than the one he previously possessed, as in Paul. For John, he was already both ‘God’ and ‘with God’ in his preincarnate state as a divine being. Nowhere can this view be seen more clearly than in the first eighteen verses of the Gospel, frequently called the Prologue of John.” (Ibid., pp. 271-272; bold emphasis ours)
“… As we saw, the Prologue of John stressed that Jesus was the incarnation of the preexistent Word of God who was both with God and was himself God. This incarnation Christology is one of the ‘highest’ views of Christ to be found in the New Testament…” (Ibid., pp. 297-298; bold emphasis ours)
Ehrman also comments on Jesus’ use of the phrase “I Am”:
“Even though this view of Christ as the Logos made flesh is not found anywhere in the Gospel of John, its views are obviously closely aligned with the Christology of the Gospel otherwise. That is why Christ can make himself ‘equal with God’ (John 5:18); can say that he and the Father ‘are one’ (10:30); can talk about the ‘glory’ he had with the Father before coming into the world (17:4); can say that anyone who has seen him has ‘seen the Father’ (14:9); and can indicate that ‘before Abraham was, I am’ (8:58). This last verse is especially intriguing. As we have seen, in the Hebrew Bible when Moses encounters God at the burning bush in Exodus 3, he asks God what his name is. God tells him that his name is ‘I am.’ In John, Jesus appears to take the name upon himself. Here he does not receive ‘the name that is above every name’ at his exaltation after his resurrection, as in the Philippians poem (Phil. 2:9). He already has ‘the name’ while on earth. Throughout the Gospel of John, the unbelieving Jews understand full well what Jesus is saying about himself when he makes such claims. They regularly take up stones to execute him for committing blasphemy, for claiming in fact to be God.” (Ehrman, pp. 278-279; bold emphasis ours)
We couldn’t have stated this any better!
Besides all this, what makes Williams use of John’s Gospel so ironic is that this is the very same writing where Jesus informs his audience that the Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son for the express purpose of having all men honor the Son in the exact same way that they honor the Father!
“The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23
Even more ironic is the fact that the very same chapter that Williams alluded to goes on to record a disciple of the risen Jesus worshiping Christ as his very Lord and God!
“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 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 come to believe.’” John 20:24-29
Here we have Thomas worshiping Jesus in the exact same way that David worshiped Yahweh!
“Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense, for my cause, my God and my Lord! Vindicate me, O Lord, MY God, according to your righteousness, and do not let them rejoice over me.” Psalm 35:23-24
This places Williams in a dilemma since Yahweh is the only God that an Israelite could ever confess and worship, just as the following OT texts amply prove:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is OUR God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord YOUR God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5
“The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are MY God, and I will give thanks to you; you are MY God, I will extol you.” Psalm 118:27-28
“I say to the Lord, ‘You are MY God; give ear, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications.’” Psalm 140:6
“For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord OUR God forever and ever.” Micah 4:5
This is next one is rather interesting,
“And I will put this third into the fire, refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is OUR God.’” Zechariah 13:9
When we view it in the light of Jesus’ claiming to be the One who would personally answer all of his followers’ prayers whenever they called upon him in his name,
“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask IN MY NAME, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If IN MY NAME you ask ME for anything, I will do it.” John 14:12-14
A function which the Hebrew Bible ascribes to God alone!
“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come. When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.” Psalm 65:1-3
These last two OT citations are also quite relevant,
“It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, MY God, lights up my darkness.” Psalm 18:28
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord YOUR God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am YOUR God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame. Then afterward I will pour out MY spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out MY spirit. I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:26-32
Since John’s Gospel identifies Jesus as the Light that illuminates mankind,
“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The TRUE LIGHT, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:3-9
“As he walked along, 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; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.” John 9:1-7
“Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’ After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him… ‘I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.’” John 12:35-37, 46
“If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.” John 15:24
As well as the One who grants the Holy Spirit to believers, and in whose name a person must believe and trust for salvation:
“And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”’” John 1:32-33
“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’… Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:22, 30-31
Could John’s Gospel be any more explicit in its affirmation of Christ being the incarnation of Yahweh God Almighty, even though he is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit?
With that said we are now ready to turn the tables on Williams even further by showing that Islam does have a middle man.