Friday, November 4, 2016

My answers to a Muslim's video- "10 Reasons Why Jesus is Not God!"

On a Facebook page that I belong to, Happy to be a Presbyterian, it is mostly progressive and PC (U.S.A), a fellow Presbyterian put up a video by a Muslim, I believe his name is Joshua Evans, who is offering ten reasons of why Jesus is not God. The person who placed the video there wrote, “he makes a lot of great points and arguments I would say; especially reasons 9, 7-4, and 2. Reason 3 is troublesome and seems contradictory to me because Jesus Himself was quoted to have said to His disciples before departing to "go and make disciples of ALL nations....and unto the ends of the earth"; not just to the Jews. But the majority of the rest of it seems to be quite accurate. Are there other things in this video that are wrong? If so, please leave in the comments below what they are, and why. Thank you.” I decided to write about this for several reasons.

The Muslim man is concerned about others salvation. That is good, so am I. But more importantly it is a false view of the incarnation, in fact a misunderstanding of Jesus. I am placing the video on this page and then answering the reasons below, starting with number 10 as he has:

10. The 10th reason this person gives for not believing Jesus is God is because God cannot be born. This is a problem he has throughout his presentation. He does not believe in the Incarnation, nor does he have any understanding of what that means. God took on flesh, took on humanity. Jesus is both human and divine. Jesus Christ is eternal since he is divine, but in his humanity he was born. And it should be noted that Jesus tells the Jewish leaders who did not believe him, “before Abraham was born, I am.”(John 8:58) (Only the Holy Spirit can cause the human mind and heart to understand. Pray for Mr. Evans.)

9. The 9th reason Jesus is not God, according to the speaker, is that God’s nature is one. Israel is to worship only the one God. He believes that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus or the text state that Jesus is God. But this is not true. In the synoptic Gospels Jesus does the very acts of God. He stills the storm with his command, he rises the dead and heals.  John the Baptist is said to be making way for the Lord as he prepares the people for Jesus. John’s Gospel explicitly tells us that Jesus (the Word) was with God and is God. Jesus in this Gospel refers to himself many times with the “I Am” of Exodus. “ “God said to Moses, ‘I AM Who I Am.’” He is God. (Of course this is why we use the term Trinity)

8. The 8th reason that Jesus is not God according to the speaker is because no one has seen God and lived. However it should be noted that Moses saw his “backside” others saw him in Theophanies for instance Samson’s father and mother and Abraham before God told him he was going to destroy Sodom.

The speaker attempts to say that when Jesus says he and the Father are one, he is speaking of them being one in purpose not one in essence. On John 10:30, where Jesus states, “I and the Father are one,” biblical scholar William Hendriksen states:

“However, inasmuch as in other passages it is clearly taught that the oneness is a matter not only of outward operation but also (and basically) of inner essence (see especially 5:18 but also 1:14; 3:16) it is clear that also here nothing less than this can have been meant. Certainly if Son and Father are one essentially, then when Jesus states, “I and the Father, we are one,” he cannot merely mean, “We are one in providing protective care for the sheep.” The economic trinity rests forever upon the essential trinity. …”

In saying this Hendriksen means that the actions of the persons of the Trinity rests upon the oneness of the Trinity.  Hendriksen goes on to write, (and here I am sorry I do not have the computer capability to put the Greek text in the quote:

“Note how carefully both the diversity of the persons and the unity of the essence is expressed here. Jesus says, “I and the Father.” Hence, he clearly speaks about two persons. And this plurality is shown also by the verb (one word in Greek) “we are” … These two persons never become one person. Jesus does not say, “We are one person” …, but he says, “We are one substance ….’ Though two persons, the two are one substance or essence. … Thus in this passage Jesus affirms his complete equality with the Father.”[1]

The beauty of the good news here is that God now allows us to look on his image in the Son and we see him clearly in Scripture.

7. This seventh point is filled with misunderstandings and falsehood. He believes that because the early Christians worshiped in the synagogue they didn’t believe that Jesus was God. Added to that is his idea that it was only Paul and the Council of Nicaea that taught that Jesus was God. (He needs to reread the Gospels.) Early Christian worship in the Temple and the Synagogue was clearly connected to who they believed Jesus was, the promised Jewish messiah; the One who was meant to be king of the Jews, the savior who would save his people. And not only did they meet in Jewish places of worship, they met in homes.

Paul’s New Testament letters are the earliest writings, and the speaker fails to consider that Jesus was resurrected and Paul had a deep relationship with him. In the midst of controversy about the deity of Jesus, the Council of Nicaea simply confirmed the truths that the early churches already held.

I am not sure why the speaker keeps referring to the Qumran community; it really has nothing to do with the early Christians. But instead it has to do with the Essene community who had preserved their own writings and a great deal of the Old Testament.

6. The 6th point is once again simply a denial of the Incarnation. Why did Jesus need to eat, to sleep, to pray? Jesus took on humanity and suffered all that entails for our sake. He prayed because the Son had always communed with the Father.

5. The speaker refers to those texts where Jesus states that only the Father knows the time of his coming. And to another text, John 14:28, where Jesus states that the Father is greater than him. This again has to do with the Incarnation and the Muslim’s misunderstanding. Jesus, according to early church fathers, is speaking of himself in his humanity. He was submissive to the Father as he waited to fulfill his purpose. Calvin, adding to this verse Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 15:24, 28, sees both Jesus and Paul referring to Jesus’ work as mediator between God and humanity. His conclusion is beautiful:

“Christ is not here comparing the Father’s divinity with his own, nor his own human nature with the Father’s divine essence, but rather his present state with the heavenly glory to which he was soon to be received. It is like saying, “You want to keep me in the world, but it is better for me to ascend to heaven.” Let us therefore learn to see Christ humbled in the flesh, so that he may lead us to the source of blessed immortality for he was not appointed to be our guide merely to raise us to the sphere of the moon or the sun, but to make us one with God the Father.”[2]

4. The complaint in number 4 is that Jesus in John 17:3 states that the way to God is to believe in the one true God and Jesus Christ who he sent. He believes Jesus is in this statement denies his own divinity. He also refers to Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene that he is ascending to my God and your God.   
On this point the speaker slips a little extra into the text. He states “and Jesus Christ as a messenger.” “As a messenger” turns the text into a Muslim text and changes the work that Jesus came to do which was to die on the cross for our salvation. God here in this context is the Christian term for addressing the Father rather than the Son. But Jesus is telling his listeners that knowing both the Father and the Son is having everlasting life. And that knowing is an intimate knowledge, it entails knowing Jesus in his life, death and resurrection. It is so much more then hearing the words of a messenger. And in knowing Jesus we know the Father.

3. His third point has to do with Jesus’ title as Son of God. He insist that many in the Bible are called sons of God. And they are. He speaks of a pastor who says that Jesus was unique, he was the begotten Son of God which the pastor supposedly defined as given because Jesus was conceived without a father. Islam teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin as Christians also believe. But this is not the meaning of begotten Son of God.

Answering the question about the meaning of begotten Son of God in his commentary, Hendriksen states, “We conclude that the reference must be to Christ’s Trinitarian sonship, i.e., to the fact that he is the Son of God from all eternity. This is favored by the context (1:1, 18) and by such passages as 3:16, 18, which prove that the Son was already, the only begotten before his incarnation.”

Indeed the New American Standard translation of John 1:1 states, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him.” And this is from the oldest manuscripts found.

2. For number 2.see 1 and 6. But it should be added that God’s nature is clearly seen in the Incarnation since in God’s compassion and mercy he took on human flesh and suffered for humanity.

1.This last point has to do with the worship of God. The speaker becomes totally confused. He states that in Matthew 15 & 18 Jesus tells them it is vain to worship him. But the quote in 15, it is not in 18, is Jesus quoting from the Hebrew Bible and it is God telling Israel it is vain to worship him since they hearts are far away from him and they are teaching traditions rather than God’s word.

The speaker then has to turn to the Koran to make his point about Jesus. He also says that Jesus never allowed anyone to worship him. But this is simply not true. There are several places in the Gospel where people do worship Jesus and he graciously receives their worship. The beautiful story of Thomas is perhaps the best. Thomas has doubted the resurrection, but when he touches the nail prints in Jesus ‘hands and the wound in his side Thomas states “My Lord and my God.” In the Greek it is the Lord of me and the God of me.

There is so much more that could be added but this is already too long.

[1] William Hendriksen, The Gospel of John, New Testament Commentary, eighth printing, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 1979).
[2] John Calvin, John, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, Alister McGrath & J.I. Packer, (Wheaton: Crossway Books 1994).
* The video is a Merciful Servant Production


Reformed Catholic said...

All these 'reasons' sound exactly like those taught to Nabeel Qureshi as related in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity. From birth Nabeel was taught these things, but did not have a full understanding of the true facts as they were not mentioned. The reason this was is the translation of the word Islam: submission. You are taught to defer to the authority of the Imam, of the theologian, and never question.

A very good read

Andy Vloedman said...

Your answers are an excellent resource. I've heard Nabeel Qureshi speak on several occasions. One of the things he says he found most surprising in his interactions with Christians when he was still a Muslim was their inability to defend the basic tenets of Christianity using the Bible. As a Muslim he knew how to challenge them using the Bible. We need to remember the words from 2nd Timothy "All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness"

Grace and Peace

Andy Vloedman

Viola Larson said...

Thank you Neil and Andy. I really should get the book.