The Problem of John 8:58 for Christianity
Update: Anthony Rogers tried(?) to respond to the Problems of John 8:58 for Christians, I’ve refuted him here.
Many Christians claim that Jesus in John 8:58 claims to be “I AM”, and God in Exodus 3:14 refers to Himself by this title/ name, therefore Jesus is knowingly referring to himself as God. How can Muslims respond to this argument?
John 8:58 is perhaps one of the best verses to disprove the deity of Christ, most Christians simply fail to see the problems with utilizing such a verse and in this article I’d like to demonstrate just how useful the “I AM” statement attributed to Christ is. Let’s first take a look at the verses in question:
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:14.
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” – John 8:58.
There is something very important to note, we must ask, who is God in Exodus 3:14? The Hebrew from the Westminster Leningrad Codex references God as Elohiym, see here. According to Christian belief, Elohiym can either refer to the Father (God) or the Godhead (all three persons of the Trinity). If Christ is claiming to be the Elohiym of Exodus 3:14 then there exists a major problem.
Elohiym consists of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit of one substance, united by the Godhead. If Christ is claiming to be this Elohiym (the united Three Persons), then he is claiming to be the Father as well as the Holy Spirit. According to Trinitarian dogma, the Son is not the Father or the Spirit. In other words, if Christ is claiming to be the Elohiym (of Three Persons) then he is effectively breaking the rules of the Trinitarian dogma as the Son is claiming to be other persons in the Godhead.
If the Elohiym of Exodus 3:14 is the Father alone, then Christ who is the Son is claiming to be the Father and according to Christian Trinitarian belief, the Son is not the Father. Therefore if the Christian is claiming Christ to be Elohiym – the Father, then the Christian is admitting that the Trinity in this case is a false teaching or that Christ did not believe in the Trinity that they appeal to.
The Fallacy of False Equivocation.
Jack is a boy.
James is a boy.
Jack is James.
Obviously Jack is not James.
Orange is a fruit.
Apple is a fruit.
Oranges are Apples.
Obviously Oranges are not Apples.
God says I am.
Jesus says I am.
God is Jesus.
Clearly we can see that this is the fallacy of false equivocation.
The Christian claims that while the Son cannot claim to be the Father or the Spirit, the Son can claim to be God. For explanation purposes, let’s use a common learning aid which Christians use to explain this reasoning:
However, this makes it worse for the Christian. Consider the following examples:
You cannot say that John is an employee in the company, but you can say that John works for the company.
You cannot say that Shem and Ham are brothers, but you can say that they have the same mother and father.
You cannot say that a banana is a fruit, but you can say that the banana belongs in the fruit basket.
You cannot say that the Son is the Father or the Spirit, but you can say that the Son is the Father, Son and Spirit.
It’s a contradictory claim. The Son is not the Father or the Spirit, yet they believe the Son is the Father, Son and the Spirit unified. Allow the Christian to ponder on this logic and see where it leads them, aid their thinking process by using the other examples provided above.
The Christian cannot appeal to John 8:58 without disproving the doctrine of the Trinity by means of demonstrating that Christ himself did not know he could not claim to be the other persons of the Godhead. We can also demonstrate that they are applying faulty reasoning in their argumentation and thus can quickly disarm their frivolous claims.
and God knows best.