Refutation: Is Asking “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am God’” a Good Argument? – Part 2
Why Did Not Jesus (p) Say, “I am God”? Part-2
The question that Christians do not face
In the last part of this response we addressed to Keith Thompson’s explanation wherein he argued that Jesus (peace be upon him) did not explicitly claimed himself to be God because it would have confused masses into diminishing the distinct difference between the person of Father and son. We saw there were a number of issues with regards to this flimsy argument.
However, Thompson also “explained” that there was no real need for Jesus (peace be upon him) to claim his deity the way Muslims demand since New Testament applies “divine Old Testament titles” on him. Therefore, in this final part we would consider all the New Testament “verses” Thompson has to offer presumably acknowledging his desperate situation of absence of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) explicit declaration.
“Divine” Titles of Jesus (p)
John 20: 28-29
Thompson argued as follows:
“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 calledtheos. 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.”
We did neglect John 20:28-29 since our main contention was Jesus (peace be upon him) himself declaring his deity and not somebody else doing the favors for this “god-almighty” – Thompson needs to get this construct clear! We argued very clearly in our original paper (and ironically Thompson quoted us as well) that declaring Himself explicitly as God “has always been an insignia of traditional Judeo-Christian God” so Jesus (peace be upon him) must be consistent with his Old Testament counterpart!
On the foregoing, if some set of people declare Jesus (peace be upon him) to be god then there are others, in the same pages of New Testament, who claim him to be a liar and elsewhere even insinuate at the legality of his birth! His own kith and kin declared him to be “mad” and even “demon possessed” (c.f. John 10:20)! We hope Thompson now seriously reconsider if somebody else declaring things about Jesus (peace be upon him) really matters!?
Furthermore, we are not very amazed how Trinitarians could twist their own religious texts to suit their deviated agenda since James White – a Trinitarian – also uses the same verse towards deifying Jesus (peace be upon him). We had a dedicated response to White dealing with John 20: 28-29 and its mishandling by Trinitarian apologists.
In that paper we discussed at length (i) how the context has been abused (ii) semantics twisted yet (iii) all it proved, if it proved, that Thomas just did not believe or accepted Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity all throughout his ministry and even after his alleged crucifixion until he had to physically make post-resurrection appearance to him! All of this is documented in the following article:
Nevertheless, for the sake of completeness of this response, we would summarize the arguments from the above paper.
When Jesus (peace be upon him) made his post – resurrection appearance to the disciples except Thomas (who was then absent in the scene) they all believed. When this information was given to Thomas he outright declined to believe in it with an eccentric condition that until and unless he puts his fingers in the wounds of Jesus (peace be upon him) he would not believe in his resurrection.
Subsequently, Jesus (peace be upon him) made a special errand to Thomas to assuage him his disbelief in post – resurrection phenomenon. Consequently, when Thomas was confirmed about Jesus’ (peace be upon him) resurrection, he exclaimed “My Lord, My God” upon which Jesus (peace be upon him) confirmed his true belief in the resurrection which was hitherto absent. So, the stress of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) ratification was on Thomas’ belief in resurrection phenomenon rather than on Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity.
On the foregoing, if we assume that Jesus (peace be upon him) confirmed Thomas for his belief in his deity then we would have to agree that hitherto Thomas did not believe in the deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) since Thomas unequivocally declared thathe would not believe unless he himself experiences the wounds of Jesus (peace be upon him)! Consequently, we would have a situation where the earliest apostles (plural) did not believe in the deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) until his post-resurrection appearance even though they were moving with him day and night!
John 5:19, 30
In our original response we proposed insufficiency of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) declaration of his deity in conjunction John 5: 19 and 30 which show his definite limitations to be God-Almighty.
Thompson has the following to respond about John 5:30 (we would take John 5: 19 subsequently):
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 Thompson is desperately trying to somehow “explain” that the quoted verses do not show Jesus’ (peace be upon him) impotency as God, however, thevery next phrases clarify the issue that Jesus (peace be upon him) was definitely portraying his limitation with respect to the boundlessness of God. Consider Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement:
“I can do nothing on my own authority; I judge only as God tells me, so my judgment is right, because I am not trying to do what I want, but only what he who sent me wants. (Good News Edition)
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just;because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (King James Version)
I am not able of myself to do anything; according as I hear I judge, and my judgment is righteous, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me. (1898 Young’s Literal Translation)
Observe the construct of the verse and contrast it with Thompson’s explanation. The semantics of the verse clearly qualifies Jesus’ (peace be upon him) impotency because he was dependent on his basic source – God. He was unable to judge since judgments were to be supernaturally communicated to him, so that he could “hear” them and execute accordingly.
Furthermore, he was still impotent since Jesus (peace be upon him) just did not had any will of his own; rather, the decree of Father dominated in his proceedings. Therefore, in all of these we do not find any sense of Jesus (peace be upon him) and Father working in any sort of “perfect union”, on the contrary, we definitely find Jesus (peace be upon him) subservient to the decrees adjudged by Father. No wonder Jesus (peace be upon him) explicitly claimed “…because I am not trying to do what I want”.
We can further decide Jesus’ (peace be upon him) impotency as against his “perfect union” with God by looking at other New Testament verses of the order. For instance, consider the incidence where the wife of Zebedee demanded Jesus (peace be upon him) to honor his sons by allowing them the privileged status beside him on the occasion of his second return:
“Then the wife of Zebedee came to Jesus with her two sons, bowed before him, and asked him a favour. “What do you want?” Jesus asked her. She answered, “Promise me that these two sons of mine will sit at you right and your left when you are King.” You don’t know what you are asking for,” Jesus answered the sons. “Can you drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?” “We can,” they answered. “You will indeed drink from my cup,” Jesus told them, “but I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. These places belong to those for whom my Father has prepared them.” (Gospel of Matthew 20:20-23)
Notice the reply Jesus (peace be upon him) gave. He clearly evinced his impotency into choosing persons for the privileged place by his side. He referred uniquely to the person of Father and attributed that only He has the divine authority to choose men for that position. Observe how Jesus (peace be upon him) went out of the “Trinitarian” way to humbly claim that he does not has the right to choose! Think about it, which “God” would tell His worshipper I do not have the right to accept your petition!?
Therefore, if Jesus (peace be upon him) was co-equal with Father, in any sort of “perfect union”, then he would have never confessed that he does not has the right to choose but only Father has it.
Similarly, consider another instance where Jesus (peace be upon him) denies his co-equality and subsequently “perfect union” theory:
“No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come – neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows.” (Gospel of Matthew 24:36)
Notice how Jesus (peace be upon him) is qualifying his declaration that “No one knows” about the end of time except the person of Father. Jesus (peace be upon him) even denied his self from the prized piece of information reserving the sameonly to the person of Father. Thus, if Jesus (peace be upon him) and Father really worked in “perfect union” then Jesus (peace be upon him) as co-god must have known the information!
It is also very important to note the construct of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement. He recognizes his self as “Son” with respect to “Father”. According to standard Trinitarian position Jesus (peace be upon him) was/is the divine son of divine Father, therefore, by referring himself as “Son” in conjunction with Father, Jesus (peace be upon him) certainly declares that his divine self is also devoid of the knowledge of the hour. Therefore, it is certainly unwarranted to assume that Jesus (peace be upon him) was in any sort of “perfect union” and “communion” with God at par with Him; rather he was definitely subservient to God-Almighty and lesser in efficiency than Him.
Finally we have an instance where Jesus (peace be upon him) certainly displays emotions which are more than just subservient to God-Almighty. Consider the following passage:
“He went a little farther on, threw himself face downwards on the ground,and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me!Yet not what I want, but what you want.” (Gospel of Matthew 26:39)
According to Pauline theology crucifixion is the base of Christianity as such if there was any so-called “perfect union” between Jesus (peace be upon him) and God then it should have reached its pinnacle with respect to its implementation when planning about the alleged crucifixion phenomenon. Yet exactly at the event, Jesus (peace be upon him) expresses emotions which not only shows his limitations unbefitting to “God” but also establishes his ignorance of the original plan he made with Father purportedly in “perfect union” with Him!
Subsequently, all the above three instances indicate that (i) Jesus (peace be upon him) was depended on Father but the reverse is never observed (ii) he was limited in his information certainly notwithstanding the “perfect union” theory!
It would be very interesting to quote Dr. Lightfoot – a well respected biblical scholar – for his views on John 5:30.
Dr. Lightfoot compares Jesus’ (peace be upon him) incapability of making judgments on his own with the prevailing tradition of referring to the Sanhedrin:
[As I hear, I judge.] He seems to allude to a custom amongst them. The judge of an inferior court, if he doubts in any matter, goes up to Jerusalem and takes the determination of the Sanhedrim; and according to that he judgeth. (John 5:30, John Lightfoot Commentary)
Observe how Jesus (peace be upon him) is compared to any limited mortal judge who when in “doubts” refers the matter to a more knowledgeable and more efficient source – the Sanhedrim. Similarly, when in need for consistent and just decision, Jesus (peace be upon him) inclines towards his greater source – the God and “hears” the same from Him.
On one hand where it is perfectly legal for a prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) to refer to God for judgments, nevertheless, it horribly goes wrong when the divineJesus, who supposedly works in “perfect union” with God, refers Him for judgments!
Let alone proving Jesus (peace be upon him) working in divine sync with Father, the above comment establishes that Jesus (peace be upon him) was even vulnerable to erroneous judgments thus he needed help of his Sanhedrin – Father.
Thompson also made a lot of hue and cry regarding our appeal to John 5:19. Here is what he had to say:
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?
We have just seen the weakness in the theory of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) “unity and perfect harmony” with Father. Therefore, now we would concentrate on Thompson’s claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) can do whatever Father does.
Actually, this standard argument was already addressed when we responded to Sam Shamoun, therefore, we would briefly respond Thompson here and link to our response.
Recall we already saw a few New Testament verses where:
(i) Jesus (peace be upon him) even as the divine Son of God did not know the exact specification of end time.
(ii) Nobody, including Jesus (peace be upon him), but Father had authority to decide who would sit beside Jesus (peace be upon him) on his return.
(iii) Dreaded by the tribulations of crucifixion, Jesus (peace be upon him) – “the” god – kissed dust to plead Father to obviate it notwithstanding the fable that he self planned with Father in “perfect union”.
Therefore, it is just a flamboyant albeit hollow claim to assert that Jesus (peace be upon him) could do “everything” Father could. As a matter of truth, to claim such a notion is to misrepresent what Jesus (peace be upon him) actually wanted to intend:
In the context of John 5:19, Jews imputed Jesus (peace be upon him) for breaking the Sabbath regulations when in reality Jesus (peace be upon him) was breaking the man-made (or Rabbi made) exacting rules weaved in the name of Sabbath. He explained through multiple examples that it is perfectly permissible to help the needy even though Sabbath seemingly prohibits it; because, Father does not stop with His providences even on the Sabbath day. It was under this context Jesus (peace be upon him) asserted,
“So Jesus answered them, “I am telling you the truth: the Son can do nothing of his own; he does only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” (Gospel of John 5:19-20)
Son “sees” Father helping the sufferers even on the Sabbath day and therefore, he also, likewise, tries to help the needy on the Sabbath and likewise teaches his disciples also to do so. By seemingly breaking the plastic rules around Sabbath, Jesus (peace be upon him) wanted to teach that Sabbath was initially institutionalized for upright living of Israelites. It was never intended to push patients to their graves in the name of observing Sabbath rulings (1.).
Thus, to claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) equated himself with Father in doing all things is to neglect the fact that Jesus (peace be upon him) wanted to set an example for everyone to follow – the positive modus operandi of Father on the issues of Sabbath and its rulings about suffering people. Bible expositor Robertson’s ratifies the same:
But what he seeth the Father doing (an mē ti blepēi ton patera poiounta). Rather, “unless he sees the Father doing something.” Negative condition (an mē = ean mē, if not, unless) of third class with present (habit) subjunctive (blepēi) and present active participle (poiounta). It is a supreme example of a son copying the spirit and work of a father. In his work on earth the Son sees continually what the Father is doing. In healing this poor man he was doing what the Father wishes him to do. (Robertson’s Word Pictures, John 5:19)
Another noted Bible commentator John Wesley further explains that Jesus (peace be upon him) merely followed the positive example of Father:
“The Son can do nothing of himself – This is not his imperfection, but his glory, resulting from his eternal, intimate, indissoluble unity with the Father. Hence it is absolutely impossible, that the Son should judge, will, testify, or teach any thing without the Father, Joh 5:30, &c; Joh 6:38; Joh 7:16; or that he should be known or believed on, separately from the Father. And he here defends his doing good every day, without intermission, by the example of his Father,from which he cannot depart: these doth the Son likewise – All these, and only these; seeing he and the Father are one.” (John 5:19, John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes)
In fact by claiming that whatever Father does, Son also does likewise – Jesus certainly proves his non-divinity since he implies working under the directions of Father. As Father allows helping on Sabbath likewise Jesus (peace be upon him) makes it incumbent upon himself to also help on the Sabbath day. This is supported by renowned Trinitarian commentators like Matthew-Henry:
Secondly, The instances of it. He shows it, 1. In what he does communicate to him: He shows him all things that himself doth. The Father’s measures in making and ruling the world are shown to the Son, that he may take the same measures in framing and governing the church, which work was to be a duplicate of the work of creation and providence, and it is therefore called the world to come. He shows him all things ha autos poiei – which he does, that is, which the Son does, so it might be construed; all that the Son does is by DIRECTION from the Father; he shows him. 2. In what he will communicate; he will show him, that is, will appoint and direct him to do greater works than these. (1.) Works of greater power than the curing of the impotent man; for he should raise the dead, and should himself rise from the dead. By the power of nature, with the use of means, a disease may possibly in time be cured; but nature can never, by the use of any means, in any time raise the dead. (2.) Works of greater authority than warranting the man to carry his bed on the sabbath day. They thought this a daring attempt; but what was this to his abrogating the whole ceremonial law, and instituting new ordinances, which he would shortly do, “that you may marvel!” Now they looked upon his works with contempt and indignation, but he will shortly do that which they will look upon with amazement, Luk 7:16. Many are brought to marvel at Christ’s works, whereby he has the honour of them, who are not brought to believe, by which they would have the benefit of them. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 5: 17-30)
Thus, to argue from Jesus’ (peace be upon him) assertion that he claimed for himself equal potential with Father is a gauche distortion of the context and original intent of the verse.
Right after this argument, Thompson had the following to remark:
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.
However, after going through the above analysis we would like to reframe the above passage:
I submit that double standards must be employed because Thompson cannot admit the truth about Christ as revealed in the New Testament. His Pauline epistles – none of whose originals are available and some of which are agreeably pseudonymous, which comes in the absence of Jesus (peace be upon him) – 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 Trinitarian apologists handling the Holy Bible.
Matthew 19: 16-17
We appealed to a passage from Matthew 19 wherein Jesus (peace be upon him) forbade a rich man who mistakenly referred Jesus (peace be upon him) as divinely “good”:
“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, King James Version)
Thompson has very interesting response to it (!):
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.
Although Thompson alleges us of, “seeing things in this text which are not there” yet he commits the same error. Notice how Thompson is trying to distort the original import of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement of denial of divinity with, “He askswhy the rich young ruler calls Him good.”
The import of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) sentence construct is very plain; through the counter rhetoric question (“why do you call me good?”) Jesus (peace be upon him) wanted to inform the young man that only God is good in absolute sense and thus the young man ought to refer only God as good! Interestingly, Thompson quotes a certain scholar on this issue which ends up further bolstering our point:
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)
If it was customary for Jews to refer to only God as good and if Jesus (peace be upon him) was forbidding and deflecting the attribute of goodness to God then certainly Jesus (peace be upon him) was denying his deity. Therefore, when Thompson alleges that “And nowhere does Jesus deny that He is God” it certainly gets desperate in front of explicit verses.
If the foregoing is understood then let us reconsider Thompson’s following argument to check humor in it:
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.
If we were to call Thompson as the president of America and he responds back by rightly saying, “Why callest thou me president? there is none president but one, that is, Obama” then according to Thompson’s Trinitarian logic he is not denying that he is president since he “doesn’t come right and say the words “I am not president so stop calling me that”!; according to Thompson’s logic he is merely asking why the questionnaire calls him president.
Or, may be Thompson is referring to himself in the “3rd person” after all who knows if the presidential post in White House also comprises of “three persons” just like Thompson’s Trinitarian criteria!
Further observe Thompsons’ forced interpretation that Jesus (peace be upon him) through his statement that only God is good was referring in the third person to himself. However, the question to be asked is why would Jesus (peace be upon him) refer to himself in third person? Why not first person? Even more so because hitherto Jesus (peace be upom him) was talking in the first person, “Why callest thou me good?
If Thompson is in any mind of repeating that rich man would have been “confused” between the person of son and Father then he needs to address at least the following two queries:
1) The young man was not referring Jesus (peace be upon him) as good “God”. He merely referred Jesus (peace be upon him) as good “Teacher”. Entire region knew that Jesus (peace be upon him) was a teacher and a prophet. As such there was no real danger of confusing the person of Jesus (peace be upon him) with person of Father.
2) Thompson had already declared that “many” Jews already knew about a certain divine person different from God. So, it can be assumed on fair grounds that the Jewish rich man must have also known about this (weird) phenomenon; yet Thompson claims that Jesus (peace be upon him) felt a need to refer to himself as God in third person. It must be addressed that if Jews knew about different divine persons in the godhead then there was no real need for Jesus (peace be upon him) to refer to himself indirectly in the “third person”.
It is also very important to note that even if Jesus (peace be upon him) was really a god from a Trinitarian perspective or a good teacher; in either case, the rich man was correct in his referral and as such Jesus (peace be upon him) had nothing to object! He could have tacitly accepted the label.
In fact, as Thompson was arguing earlier, that Jesus (peace be upon him) “blessed” Thomas for his famous declaration; in the same way, Jesus (peace be upon him) should have upheld rich man too for his declarations!? Ratified the rich young man and explained him the philosophies of Trinity. Would Thompson clarify the different reactions which Jesus (peace be upon him) to rich young man and Thomas?
In the light of all of the above, the only reason why Jesus (peace be upon him) forbade the rich man was because he was using a title applicable only to God-Almighty.
Thompson also responded to our appeal to John 17:3 the way a Trinitarian is expected to argue. However, we would certainly try to analyze its viability from a monotheistic and logical perspective. Consider Thompson’s response:
“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.
And then to do some damage control Thompson quoted 1 John 5:20:
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).
In all of the above the basic fact that Thompson neglected is that Jesus (peace be upon him) was speaking in a strictly monotheistic setting. He well understood that there was only one God worthy of divinity and worship. Therefore, obviously there was no need that Jesus (peace be upon him) would pander to any wild Trinitarian presupposition to redundantly qualify “that only the Father is the only true God”.
The basic logic flows like this:
- God is ONLY One
- Father is the “ONLY true God”.
- Therefore there is no real need to re-state that only Father is the only true God – this would have been redundant.
To clarify Thompson, the absurdity of his logic is like the following:
- President of a United States is ONLY one.
- Obama is the ONLY President.
- Therefore it is Trinitarian desperation to claim, “only Obama is the only true President”.
As far as Thompson’s appeal to 1 John 5:20 is concerned then we would like to re-remind him that Muslim query was where Jesus (peace be upon him) claimed from his lips that he is God; what Thompson is showing are words of some John.
Yet John’s narrative does not quite help Thompson’s agenda since the subject of the phrases was not Jesus (peace be upon him) but Father who commissioned Jesus (peace be upon him) into this world, “…even in his Son Jesus Christ”.
In fact the attributes used in the phrases also refers explicitly to Father, “so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true — even in his Son Jesus Christ.”
Quite obviously the attribute “true” in the previous phrases was applicable to the person of Father when seen in conjunction with the phrase, “his Son…” and as such the forthcoming pronoun “He” must also refer to Father. As the following Bible scholar concurs:
God the Father. Many, however, refer it to the Son. (1 John 5:20, Vincent’s Word Studies)
Albert Barnes gives further intriguing twist to the application of subject pronoun:
This is the true God – o There has been much difference of opinion in regard to this important passage; whether it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, the immediate antecedent, or to a more remote antecedent – referring to God, as such. The question is of importance in its bearing on the doctrine of the divinity of the Saviour; for if it refers to him, it furnishes an unequivocal declaration that he is divine. The question is, whether John “meant” that it should be referred to him? Without going into an extended examination of the passage, the following considerations seem to me to make it morally certain that by the phrase “this is the true God,” etc., he did refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 John 5:20, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
In his capacity Barnes accepts the phrase to be referring to Jesus (peace be upon him), however, the important point he made that there is “much difference of opinion” with regards to the application of the phrase. There is sizeable number of scholars who argue that the phrase applies to God instead of Jesus (peace be upon him)!
This makes us re-remind Thompson that we requested for an explicit unambiguous, undisputed assertion of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity from his lips. Unfortunately, all Thompson could muster was a vague claim made by some John, which even Trinitarian scholars dispute to be applicable on Jesus (peace be upon him)!
In the process Thompson even accused us of using the biblical “verses” out of context since merely two verses later Jesus (peace be upon him) is portrayed sharing divine honor of Father (!):
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).
Nevertheless, we are glad that Trinitarians like Thompson care for “totality of Holy Scripture” since a few verses further down in the same chapter we have Jesus (peace be upon him) sharing the same “divine” honor with multiple mortals (!):
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” (King James (1611), John 17:21-22)
“I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you…I gave them the SAME GLORY you gave ME, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one:” (Holy Bible, John 17:21-22)
No wonder Trinitarian scholars had variety of rather idolatrous interpretation to the above verse. According to John Wesley it was the honor of being the “only begotten” which Jesus (peace be upon him) shared with his biblical disciples, remember that “only begotten” is a divine privilege upon Jesus (peace be upon him) in Trinitarian Christianity:
John 17:22 The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them – The glory of the only begotten shines in all the sons of God. How great is the majesty of Christians. (John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, John 17:22)
And according to the famous classical exegetes Matthew-Henry, the honor was the honor of being at the right hand of God, in His heart, “as the (divine) redeemer of the world” (!):
Those that are given in common to all believers. The glory of being in covenant with the Father, and accepted of him, of being laid in his bosom, and designed for a place at his right hand, was the glory which the Father gave to the Redeemer, and he has confirmed it to the redeemed. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 17:20-23)
Therefore, if Thompson is really the one “who consult the totality of the Holy Scripture, instead of isolating verses out of context, accept the fact that the Father and the Son and other Mortals are all identified as the true God!” since, (i) Jesus (peace be upon him) shares the same “divine” glory with his disciples which he allegedly had at pre-natal state of the world, (ii) he shares his exclusive position of being the only “begotten” of God and (iii) he even shares the prerogative of being at the right hand of God and his capacity of being the “redeemer” of this world!
We would definitely wait to observe how sincere Thompson is to his textual materials. For more on the issue of John 17:3, please refer to this article where we responded to Sam Shamoun his similar arguments.
We appealed to Matthew 6:9-13 wherein Jesus (peace be upon him) is purportedly reported to teach his disciples how to pray. We highlighted that in the prayer, Jesus (peace be upon him) exclusively pointed to the person of Father thereby conclusively implying that He alone was God recognized!
However, Thompson had the following to object:
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)
The problem with Thompson’s argument is that for some reason he presumes that Matthew 6 was the only text we quoted in the entire paper. In fact we quoted Matthew 6 in conjunction with multiple other biblical texts and based on the “totality” of all the verses we concluded that only Father is God.
For instance (i) in the light of John 17:3 – which was just one of the many quoted “verses” – we observed how Jesus (peace be upon him) declared that the person called Father is the “only” true God (ii) we also saw how Jesus (peace be upon him) honestly accepted his ignorance and thus limitation when (a) Wife of Zebedee wanted Jesus (peace be upon him) to choose her sons as special disciples (b) Jesus (peace be upon him) accepted his lack of knowledge of the final hour etc.
On the foregoing, when Jesus (peace be upon him) identified the person of Father in the prayer of Matthew 6 without naming anybody else – we could deduce that he identified only Father as the divine God who should be requested for needs.
Thompson also tried to argue that Jesus (peace be upon him) at other instance asked his disciples to pray to him:
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
Thompson quoted John 14:14 and only that verse; segregating it from the entire New Testament since in the context Jesus (peace be upon him) explained his disciples why they need to request him. Consider the following contextual verses:
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments.And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:10-16, King James Version)
Notice in the very first place Jesus (peace be upon him) declares that whatever supernatural he does are actually wrought by Father: “he [Father] doeth the works”. Therefore, when Jesus (peace be upon him) asked his disciples to ask him, he indirectly implied that through him the requests would be re-directed to Father since he was ascending to Father: “I go unto my Father…And I will pray the Father”. Renowned Christian expositor Albert Barnes ratifies:
In my name – This is equivalent to saying on my account, or for my sake. If a man who has money in a bank authorizes us to draw it, we are said to do it in his name. If a son authorizes us to apply to his father for aid because we are his friends, we do it in the name of the son, and the favor will be bestowed on us from the regard which the parent has to his son, and through him to all his friends. So we are permitted to apply to God in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, because God is in him well pleased Mat 3:17, and because we are the friends of his Son HE answers our requests. Though we are undeserving, yet he loves us on account of his Son, and because he sees in us his image. No privilege is greater than that of approaching God in the name of his Son; no blessings of salvation can be conferred on any who do not come in his name.(Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, John 14:13)
Quite obviously Barnes, through the verse, is seeing Jesus (peace be upon him) as the best means to “approach God”. This is far less than assuming Jesus (peace be upon him) himself was god to be prayed.
Barnes has painted Jesus (peace be upon him) as more of an intercessor than “God”-Almighty! No wonder majority of other Trinitarian scholars of Bible interpret the verse to mean Jesus’ (peace be upon him) intercessory capacity! Consider the following:
Because I go unto my Father – He would there intercede for them, and especially by his going to the Father the Holy Spirit would he sent down to attend them in their ministry, Joh_14:26, Joh_14:28; Joh_16:7-14. See Mat_28:18. By his going to the Father is particularly denoted his exaltation to heaven, and his being placed as head over all things to his church, Eph_1:20-23; Phi_2:9-11. By his being exalted there the Holy Spirit was given Joh_16:7, and by his power thus put forth the Gentiles were brought to hear and obey the gospel. (Albert Barnes)
Classical commentator duos Matthew-Henry also confess the same!
Whatever we ask in Christ’s name, that shall be for our good, and suitable to our state, he shall give it to us. To ask in Christ’s name, is to plead his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea. The gift of the Spirit is a fruit of Christ’s mediation, bought by his merit, and received by his intercession. The word used here, signifies an advocate, counsellor, monitor, and comforter. He would abide with the disciples to the end of time; his gifts and graces would encourage their hearts. The expressions used here and elsewhere, plainly denote a person, and the office itself includes all the Divine perfections. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed upon the disciples of Christ, and not on the world. This is the favour God bears to his chosen. As the source of holiness and happiness, the Holy Spirit will abide with every believer for ever. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, John 14: 12-17)
Note very carefully that Matthew Henry are Trinitarian commentators as such they do believe in the deity of Holy Ghost, Jesus (peace be upon him) alongside Father (???) yet they at least do not (mis)use John 14:14 and related verses to prove any divinity for Jesus (peace be upon him), much unlike Thompson! For them, asking in Christ’s (peace be upon him) name “is to plead (God) his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea.”
The Truth of the matter is that except Thompson no Trinitarian scholar accepts that the subject verse proves Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity. It is because all of them highlight the mere fact that asking Jesus (peace be upon him) implies using his name for acceptance of their requests with Father. Consider the remarks of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown along with Adam Clarke respectively:
whatsoever ye … ask in my name — as Mediator.
that will I do — as Head and Lord of the kingdom of God. This comprehensive promise is emphatically repeated in Joh_14:14. (John 14:13-14 Jamieson, Fausset and Brown)
…Christ only preached in Judea, and in the language only of that country; but the apostles preached through the most of the then known world, and in all the languages of all countries. But let it be remarked that all this was done by the power of Christ; and I think it still more natural to attribute the greater works to the greater number of conversions made under the apostles’ ministry. The reason which our Lord gives for this is worthy of deep attention: –
Because I go unto my Father – Where I shall be an Intercessor for you, that: – (John 14:12, Clarke)
Therefore, Thompson needs to be reminded that we did not enquire whether Jesus (peace be upon him) has any intercessory role in Christianity or not. Muslim query is very clear: whether Jesus (peace be upon him) explicitly declared himself to be God!? So, by appealing to John 14:14, Thompson has merely given a classical smokescreen which is understandable especially in absence of proofs.
Finally Thompson made typical argument by writing that Bible recognizes its God as Father but Islam does not recognize Allah (SWT) as “Father” therefore Allah (SWT) is a false God:
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).
Once again we do not think that we have any concern in the paper whether Allah (SWT) could be called as “Father” or not. We request Thompson to kindly concentrate on the issue whether Jesus (peace be upon him) explicitly declared himself to be God-Almighty?
In any case, Islam being the final form of monotheism for humanity obviated usage of any title for Allah (SWT) which had any worldly and comparable parallels in the fleeting realm! Furthermore, since the term “Father” is associated to humans (animals) it has imports, which if misplaced, can have blasphemous implications not suitable to the identity of God. Thus, in the Shariah (divine regulations) of Prophet (peace be upon him) – the last Shariah in the line – Allah (SWT) circumvented any element of polytheism which could sneak into pure monotheism and corrupt it.
However, we do not necessarily see an objection if pre-Mohammad (peace be upon him) Shariahs had the permission of referring to Allah (SWT) as “Father” given adequate care was taken not to breach monotheism in the imports and the usage of the word.
So when Qur’an denies Jews or Christians to be “spiritual” children of Allah (SWT) in Qur’an 5:18 it merely implies that their moral and spiritual degradation level reached to such limits where they could not possibly be referred to as God’s children. In fact, New Testament chimes the same:
Here is the clear difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: those who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God’s children. (1 John 3:10)
How can one claim to be “God’s” children and yet worship the golden calf for instance or plot against God’s chosen men like John and Jesus (peace be upon him). Similarly, how can one possibly be called as God’s children when s/he worships Jesus (peace be upon him) or his mother (may God be pleased with her)!
Therefore, when Qur’an denied people of the Book their right to be called as God’s children the stress was less on their calling God as Father than their calling themselves as upright children of God. New Testament further recorded Jesus (peace be upon him) rebuking Jews for unjustly calling themselves as children of God – implying their uprightness – since, because of their iniquities they were abased to Satan’s children:
Jesus said to them, “If God really were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own authority, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my message. You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies. (John 8:42-44)
On the foregoing, we believe that Thompson was just dabbling at the few Qur’anic verses he could find somehow related to the issue. And as far as his dabble with Qur’an 9:30, 19:88-93 and 21:26 are concerned then in the text Qur’an is condemning the Jewish-Christian blasphemy of abusing God the filthiest for procreating like animals; And, thus, we do not really see an argument here because Thompson would accept that God is above siring infants and so he cannot be called as “Father” in that baser sense.
At this instant Thompson would appeal that the Jews and Christians never abused God by referring Him with the crude sense of the word “Father”. As he wrote:
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.
We would disappoint Thompson here that we are not responding him on this particular shot. He would have to wait a little when we would collectively respond him and Anthony Rogers on their common argument.
However, until our response comes out we have a query: It is understandable that as a monotheist Thompson does not allow God as a “physical being who sired through sexual procreation” since it does not behooves the divine attribute and nature of God; too animalistic for that reason. However, on what ground does he allows for Jesus (peace be upon him) – his assumed “God” – being sired out of Mary’s womb or, answering natures call in a lavatory or, hanging “dead” on cross etc. How do these attributes settle square with “God”?
We began with the basic query that Jesus (peace be upon him) not explicitly declaring his deity is a very valid Muslim query. We argued that if Jesus (peace be upon him) was the same God of the Old Testament then he was very vocal therein for declaring his deity explicitly. As such he should have continued with his trait in the New Testament as well. However, contrary to this expected behavior, we find Jesus (peace be upon him) shying away from declaring his divinity.
The standard response we got was that people would have led to a state of confusion if Jesus (peace be upon him) would have declared his deity. Masses would then have confused themselves into blurring the difference between the so-called person of Father and person of son. Nevertheless, this weak theory does not address the following queries:
1. On what basis does Trinitarians disparage the efforts of multiple prophets down the centuries who, from a Trinitarian perspective, came to enlighten people just about the identity of Jesus (peace be upon him)?
2. As per Thompson’s position, when masses had already recognized a “deity” separate and distinct from Father then why and how there remained any room for confusion between person of Father and divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) if the latter declared his deity explicitly?
3. We hope that at least the close disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) would have not “misunderstood” him had he declared his deity to them. He did not even do that!?
4. At least after his biblical death and subsequent resurrection, he could have declared his deity to masses or at least to his immediate disciples when he came to meet them in private and secured room.
5. Or, finally, even if we brush aside all of the above query, we still wonder how difficult was it for Jesus (peace be upon him) to explicitly declare his deity with a simple added clause that “I am god, but distinct from Father, do not mix me with Him: I am god- the son”.
Such a construct would have not just taken care of the “confusion” factor but it would have also kept Jesus (peace be upon him) in line with his Old Testament insignia where he was definitely roaming around freely declaring his deity explicitly.
And on top of all of this, such an explanation would have certainly given Muslims no room to enquire the age old query that “Why did not Jesus (peace be upon him) declare himself to be god explicitly?”
Who is afraid of “Consistency Test”?
Thompson had accused Muslims of being inconsistent when enquiring Jesus’ (peace be upon him) explicit declaration of divinity. In the process he had a counter query. He wants us to show him where in the Qur’an Jesus (peace be upon him) declared his Messiah-ship explicitly!
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.
In the first place notice how conveniently Thompson had presumed that he has responded our query that it was God’s insignia in the Old Testament to explicitly declare his deity merely by throwing the “confusion” theory. However, we raised certain queries to this theory and expect Thompson to address them.
Secondly we are sorry to write but an insightful person like Thompson has badly misunderstood the logic behind asking for consistency. Consistency certainly means that something which has been declared earlier would remain the same throughout its usage. On the foregoing, when Jesus (peace be upon him) purportedly in Old Testament was declaring His deity explicitly, to be consistent, he should declare his deity explicitly in the New Testament as well! In the same way before asking Muslims for Jesus’ (peace be upon him) explicit declaration for his Messiah-ship, Thompson should show us where in Qur’an came prophets prior to Jesus (peace be upon him) declaring themselves to be Messiahs explicitly and Jesus (peace be upon him) did not follow the suite. Or, Thompson should show where in the Islamic scriptures did Jesus (peace be upon him) came earlier declaring his messiah-ship explicitly but stopped doing so in the Qur’an. Surprisingly, we explicitly wrote this in our initial response which Thompson conveniently ignored. Here is a recap for Thompson:
Our second response is a rhetorical enquiry to Keith. Show us, in Islam, which individual(s) came before Jesus (peace be upon him) proclaiming “I am Messiah!”? This is because, when Muslims enquire Christians for Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement, “I am God”- they ask it consistently under the light of Old Testament Scripture wherein God was frequently proclaiming “I am God” for Himself.
On the foregoing it is illogical and “scripturally weak” for Christians to claim that Muslims need to produce the statement “I am Messiah” for Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Qur’an.
Furthermore, when we argued that Allah (SWT) had declared about the Messiah-ship of Jesus (peace be upon him) we were still consistent since earlier Allah (SWT) had positively declared about the prophetic office of a number of prophets! Ironically, we even wrote this in our initial response!
However, on the other hand, because we have had individuals before Jesus (peace be upon him) who came from Allah (SWT) claiming that they are prophets/messengers/apostles etc (c.f. Qur’an 7:104), therefore, we do have written record of Jesus (peace be upon him) claiming such title(s) for himself:
“He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;” (Qur’an 19:30, Yusuf Ali Translation, Al-Alim CD-ROM Version)
Therefore we request Keith and Christians to enquire consistent demands and, inshallah, Muslims will produce it.
Therefore, just like Allah (SWT) declared about the prophetic office of other prophets in the same way, consistently, He declared the Messiah-ship of Jesus (peace be upon him)! So when Thompson argues,
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.
He misses the point that unlike the God of Old Testament who was regularly declaring Himself to be God explicitly we never had anybody (including Jesus (p)) earlier declaring himself to be Messiah thus there is no room for the Christian query that Jesus, “show that Jesus said “I am the Messiah” in the Quran”
(1.) For more on this issue please refer the following:
- Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Good News Edition.
- All emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.