Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
David Wood of the Answering Muslims blog, has attempted to answer the age old question,”Where did Jesus say, ‘I am God, Worship Me‘?”. I say attempted, because as a person who studies the scriptures and the sciences related to understanding them, I must say that I am a bit bewildered by his methodology. However, before I begin dissecting his arguments I must address one noteworthy point. That is, none of the arguments nor any of the information he provides are new, rather they are oft repeated to the extent that they are void of any intellectual worth. The aim of this response therefore, is to merely provide a series of simple yet sufficient rebuttals to the points made.
The Fallacy of Reading Between the Lines:
From the onset, David relies on this particular fallacy, which can be defined as:
“The unwarranted associative fallacy “occurs when a word or phrase triggers off an associated idea, concept, or experience that bears no close relation to the text at hand, yet is used to interpret the text.”
A simple example would be:
John, a Christian, says he is a contractor.
Ahmad, a Muslim, says he is a contractor.
Ahmad is a Christian because he is a contractor.
This might sound utterly absurd to any remotely familiar with reason and logic. The implication being here, that the conclusion is void of basic comprehension skills. With this in mind, we’re going to up the ante of this argument by applying it to the reasoning from David’s article:
God of Christianity, says in Bible, I am X.
God of Islam, says in Qur’an, I am X.
The God of Islam is a Christian (or validates Christianity) because He says the same as the God of Christianity.
Following through with David’s logic, let’s replace X with “the truth”:
God of Christianity, says in Bible, I am the truth.
God of Islam says in Bible, I am the truth.
Therefore the God of Islam is a Christian (or validates Christianity) because he uses the same title as the God of Christianity.
At this point, one might be skeptical, that David does in fact make such an absurd assertion as the foundation for his response to the aforementioned question, “Where does Jesus say I am God?”. That he would try to prove this by associating the doctrine of one God with another from within two different scriptures and two entirely different religions, to validate his beliefs. Yet, if we read his article, this is exactly as he has done.
Judge by the Gospel?
David opens his argument, with the assertion that Christians, according to the Qur’an, must judge by the Bible or for that matter, the Christian Bible (Septuagint + NT) by referencing an ayah of the Qur’an:
Qur’an 5:47—“Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.”
His mistake is clear from the onset, does David Wood truly believe that the God of Islam, Allaah, revealed the Bible, i.e. that it is Kalamullah, or does he subscribe to the belief that the Bible, is an inspired word of God as begotten from the articulated words of men? The latter would be his position, as he associates himself with the doctrine of the Answering Islam team.
He then proceeds once more to make another irrational claim, that the Qur’an commands Muslims to believe in the Greco-Roman New Testament and the Judeo-Christian Old Testament, claims which I have aptly refuted here and here. One must take into account, that the Qur’an never commands Muslims to believe in the alleged scripture of the Jews and Christians, which is known as the Bible, which in Arabic would either read, “Majmu ul Kutub”, or “Kitab al Muqaddas”, two terms which never occur in the Qur’an, thus through proof by contradiction, David’s assertion can be easily dismissed. However for a more indepth discussion, please see the two previous links. David then makes this statement:
“However, if Muslims are suggesting that Jesus could only claim to be God by uttering a specific sentence, we may reply by asking, “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am only a prophet, don’t worship me,’ in those exact words?”
We can negate the rationality of this argument, by conversing it.
Where did Jesus say, I am only a prophet, don’t worship me?
Where did Jesus not say, I am not only a prophet, worship me?
That brings us to the original question, where did Jesus claim to be anything more than a Prophet? If so, are we according to David’s logic, supposed to worship a person if they are more than a Prophet. If that is the case, is David Wood a polytheist? Demi-gods, are more than mere mortals who prophesy, would David, by applying his aforementioned reasoning (crossing religious doctrine with his own ideas), then bow to worship the Pagan Greco-Roman Gods? Of course, his answer would be an emphatic no, thus under his own reasoning, his very argument falls apart.
He then sought to summarize his argument, as such:
“Fortunately, we have a simple way to examine what Jesus said about himself. According to both the Bible and the Qur’an, there are certain claims that only God can truly make.”
If we take the above quote and we run it through the Reading Between the Lines Fallacy, as demonstrated above in my opening statement, we see that David arguments crumbles through various inconsistencies. It should be obvious to the reader, that the Qur’an and the Bible expound two clearly different doctrines of God, refer to two completely distinct forms of salvation and are fundamentally two distinct ideologies. However, David is asserting that if he finds two completely different deities making similar statements, then these deities are each other. In other words, if he can prove that Jesus makes a statement that Allaah (God) makes, then Jesus has to be God (Allaah).
With that in mind, let’s settle David’s argument with one final example:
Hercules says he is the son of the God, Zeus.
Jesus says he is the son of the God, YaHWeH.
Since Christians assert that Jesus claimed to be the son of God and Romans believe Hercules is the son of God, then this proves that Jesus is the son of God.
At this point, we can agree that this argument makes no valid sense. Yet, Christians both see Muslims and Roman polytheists as Pagans, yet David, seeks to prove his faith in Christ as a deity by using what he asserts is a pagan deity as evidences for his own God’s existence. We can even further refute his position by asking a simple question:
If Hindus believes that God is one, but represented in many forms and Christians believe God is one, but represented in many forms, does that mean that the Hindu religion is true?
The First and the Last.
His first line of evidence is to show that both the Old Testament and the Qur’an claim for God to be The First and The Last. Since both scriptures claim this is a title for God and Jesus “says” he is the First and the Last then, this proves Jesus is God.
This is problematic for David, when one has read his article, he asserts that Isaiah 44:6, refers to the LORD or YaHWeH, for Christians that would be the Father. It’s a problem because if The Lord is the Father and the Trinitarian Godhead makes it clear that while both the Father and the Son are God, the Father isn’t the Son, nor is the Son the Father. Since this is the case it doesn’t matter what Jesus claims as he cannot be YHWH from Isaiah 44:6. Following from that logic, he also cannot be Allaah from Qur’an 57:3, because of Qur’an 112:3. The final question which begs itself, is this is all a dream from John, as he references the Book of Revelation or the Revelation of John (a dream), therefore I must ask David, if any Christian gets a dream about Jesus claiming something, would he also accept it as the truth? As an example, if I dreamed that Jesus claimed he wasn’t the first or the last, would he also accept it as divinely inspired revelation?
I ask this because David asks if a mere Prophet would claim these divine titles, in response, I am asking, how is Jesus making this claim? It isn’t. It’s a dream someone had, claiming Jesus said these things.
Who Forgives Sins?
From the passage in Mark, Jesus “forgives” a man of his sins. Since God alone can forgive sins, David asserts that Jesus is God. The problem is this, who is doing the forgiving? Is it Jesus, or is it the Lord? We read from Psalms itself:
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins.” – Psalms 103:3.
Who forgives all sins? The Lord, or YHWH, or as Christians call him, the Father. Since the Son is not the Father and the Father is not the Son, then we have to conclude that the Father (The Lord, YHWH) is the one who forgives all sins. This is proven by another verse of the Bible:
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” – Acts 2:22.
Indeed, it was a miracle that the man was forgiven, but as the Bible rightly says, God alone forgives all sins and God did these acts through the person of Christ.
The Qur’an calls Allaah the light of the heavens and the earth, David calls YHWH (The Father), the Light and Jesus “claims” to be the light in the Gospel.
There again, is another problem here. If the Father is not the Son and the Son is the Father, according to the Trinitarian Godhead that is, then how can the Son claim to have the same title as the Father?
If he has also read the verse of the Qur’an in comparison with the verse from John, how is it that someone who claims to be the light of the earth, is equal to one who is the light of the heavens and earth? Would he therefore claim that if I can light a room, but my brother can light a room and a car, that we are equal? Of course not.
There again, is another problem here. If the Father is not the Son and the Son is the Father, according to the Trinitarian Godhead that is, then how can the Son claim to have the same title as the Father? The two are distinct, yet David is asserting they are the same person.
I suggest he read James White’s The Forgotten Trinity which makes it clear there are three persons, distinct and co-equal, yet not each other, or one can read James White’s, “A Brief Definition of the Trinity“, wherein he writes:
“There are three eternal Persons described in Scripture – the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. These Persons are never identified with one another – that is, they are carefully differentiated as Persons.”
However, if we do read his example, what’s the context of Jesus’ statement?
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Jesus is saying here, that he is the truth, if one wants to come to the Father. In other words, he (Jesus) is the truth of the Father. Something Muslims can identify with, Jesus is indeed a sign of the truth of God, or as we would say, an Ayat ar Rahman (a sign of God).
The Final Judge.
The problem is the same as above, if from Psalm 9:7-8, it is the Father who is judging and the Father is not the Son, yet the Son is doing the judging in Matthew 25:31-32, we must conclude that the Father is the Son. Which as we know, contradicts the Trinitarian doctrine of the Godhead and once again, David Wood, either displays that he isn’t a Trinitarian Christian or he is wholly ignorant of his very own doctrine. Quite funny, that he seeks to contradict his own faith, to prove Muslims wrong.
This situation of conflicting with the Trinitarian Godhead dogma doctrine, continues to conflict with his other two “evidences” of The Ressurection and God’s Glory.
He references Mark 2:28, which states that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, that’s a problem however let’s just quote verse 27 and 28:
“Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
The context of this verse is that man is the master (the Greek word used for Lord is Kurios [κύριος]), which doesn’t refer to a divine being, it refers to a Master or a Sir, someone of authority, the word for a divine authority such as a God would be Theos. So the verse is generally saying that men are masters of the Sabbath because it was made for them. Referencing a Talmudic law, Rabbi Michael Skobac speaks about in this lecture .
Jesus demonstrates that man is the master of Sabbath, by referencing the story of David, wherein David’s men enter the Tabernacle and eat from the Holy Bread. A bread which they are not normally allowed to consume. In fact in the story of David, we read that the men are even called holy:
“The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.” – 1 Samuel 21.
Therefore his argument that men are the masters of the Sabbath as been soundly defeated. According to Judaic law, certain laws can be broken in order to fulfil other rights of the Israelites, such as in both cases where they are starving. Something which Jesus himself references in Matthew 12:3-5:
“ He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent?”
David Wood, then references Matthew 22:41-45 where he claims Jesus is the Lord of David, again the word used here is master and indeed if Jesus was the Christ sent to Israel, then he was the Messiah of Israel, thus he would be also the master of David who was from Israel as well. If we ignore that fact, David Wood must be reminded that Matthew 22:41-45, contradicts Matthew 1:2.
David Wood, then proceeds by stating that Jesus claims to be greater than a temple of God, in Matthew 12:6. Which brings into question his reasoning, did he really believe that a building is holier than a Prophet? Poor reading of the scriptures gives bad study, and clearly he needs to read Malachi 3, which refers to the Messenger of God, the Messenger of the Covenant who will come to purify the Temple.
He then tries to demonstrate that Matthew 11:27 makes Jesus a God, because in this verse it reads, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son“, this brings into question David’s understanding of the Trinity, as in verse 25 we read, “ At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth“. The son therefore, in this scenario isn’t equitable or a co-equal with God, as he is praising (glorifying) the Father and is claiming his knowledge isn’t his own (isn’t God all knowing?), but that his knowledge is from the Lord (Father, YHWH). This verses proves the opposite, Jesus isn’t divine but dependent on God for his knowledge.
David Wood, then appeals to John 14:14, wherein Jesus is said to be able to answer prayers, rather, if we read verse 13, it states, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.“, a direct references to Acts 2:22, where it states, ““Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know“.
He then refers to Matthew 28:18 to demonstrate that Jesus is given power over earth and heaven by God, this is a problem for David, as the word used is εξουσία which as we can see refers to jurisdiction or authority. So what was Jesus given the authority to do? To command his disciples to preach to non-Jews, i.e gentiles as the following verses state, “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, which contradicts Acts 15, wherein this was a debate raging between Paul and the disciples some 14 plus years after Jesus allegedly said those words.
John 5:21-23, is in accordance with Islamic theology, one must honor God and the one who brings God’s message (risalat), the one who brings God’s message is a rasul (messenger), so what does John 5:23 state why we should honor the messenger of God? Well it says we should honor God by honoring the Messenger of God who was sent by God, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him“.
Further on he references areas where Jesus is worshipped in the New Testament in Matthew 2:11, 14:33, 28:17, Luke 24:52 and John 9:38. There is a problem however, the word does not exclusively mean to worship, in fact, it doesn’t mean to worship in the least. The word προσκυνέω as demonstrated in Strong’s Lexicon, means to bow to as the Orientals do to each other, to revere, to kiss or to even lick like a dog licking it’s master’s hand, yet never to worship as a deity. As for John 20:28, it is sufficiently refuted here and here.
As we can see, in all of the claims of David Wood, there are conflicts with his own Trinitarian Godhead doctrine, abuse of the translation of words from the Greek texts and improper reading of the New Testament by David. He has been unable to demonstrate a single case where Jesus himself, in an unequivocal, first person verbatim (Greek: Grapho) statement claims to be God. It is quite contrasting to the God of the Old Testament who had no problem in demonstrating that:
“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:2-6.
David Wood is almost giving the impression that the God of the New Testament is a muzzled God, unable to declare His deity. A God who so proudly claimed to be vehemently jealous, suddenly can’t claim his own deity. A God that destroyed entire nations for not worshipping Him, for worshipping the wrong God, suddenly is unable to clearly declare, as he once did, that he was a deity. It is shocking that David would like us to believe in such a timid God, a changed God, a reformed God, who is now meek and not jealous and insistent on declaring his identity.
Postscript: The Islamic Dilemma.
As it has been explicitly demonstrated, if it is that those statements which David chose are to represent the belief that Jesus was a deity, by making him the same person as the Father (YHWH), then he has to accede that the Trinitarian Godhead concept is wrong in that the two persons are not distinct, therefore conceding that he (David) is a Modalist. Something which his ally in Islamophobia, James White should have the guts to address, but then again, I wouldn’t expect either of them to correct each other publicly as it’s bad for business.
The concept that Islam believes that either the Masoretic Text/ LXX or the Greco-Roman New Testament texts are inspired by God and sanctioned by Islam as scripture, have been thoroughly refuted here and here.
wa Allaahu Alam.
[and God knows best.]
 – A Series of Answers to Common Questions, The Bible is Inspired but Paul Claimed Otherwise, by Sam Shamoun.
Derek Adams via the commenting section of Answering Muslim’s website, sought to defend David’s argumentation by supposing the following:
“Yeah you’re rebuttal doesn’t understand basic Christian doctrine. All three persons are LORD(YHVH). YHVH is not an exclusive name for the Father that cannot be applied to the Son.”
The problem with Derek’s statement, is that he is most likely not well studied in the doctrine of the Trinity, firstly, he should refer to this image which is used by most Evangelical groups to explain the Trinity to Muslims and Christians alike:
Secondly, to correct him:
The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are considered to be God (אלהים) in the Trinitarian Godhead. However The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are not all considered to be YHWH (יהוה) who is considered to be the Father, I shall qualify this with an example from the Old Testament:
“The Lord (יהוה) said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west.” – Genesis 13:14.
As opposed to:
“In the beginning God (אלהים) created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1.
Wherein according to Christian dogma, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are being referred to as Creators of the heavens and the earth in this verse. Yet, when YHWH is used it solely refers to the Father in the Old Testament, according to the Christian rendition of the Pentateuch (Greek Septuagint).
His confusion mostly stems from the English misuse of the word God in the Bible. It’s often easy to understand the plight of Christians, as even many Christian apologists have great difficulty in comprehending, if not teaching the dogma of the Godhead. This situation is worsened when the English renditions use the same words to refer to both a person of the Godhead and the Godhead’s unity in itself.
This understanding is qualified by one of Derek’s heroes or so to speak, Sam Shamoun in his article, “Jesus is indeed Yahweh God the Son!“, states:
“Moreover, since the Father can be identified as Yahweh in isolation from the others, the Son can therefore be identified as Yahweh’s Servant.”
Derek Adams then sought to reference that Allaah revealed to the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] the knowledge in dreams this therefore allows anyone with dreams to take their dreams as scripture. To correct Derek’s assertion, a Prophet in Islam is a Rasul who is the vessel through which the Risalat (Message) is revealed. So the Rasul can receive the Risalat in a variation of ways, as that is their purpose in this world, to deliver the revelation of God.
However, when it comes to John’s personal revelation (The Book of Revelation), he wasn’t a Prophet or Messenger and Christians acknowledge that in their doctrine, no other message was to come after the Gospel of Christ. Therefore Derek has again defamed himself and completely refuted his own arguments through appeal to ad ignorantium, what I like to commonly refer to as damnant quod non intelligunt, that being, they argue against that, which they do not understand.
wa Allaahu Alam.
[and God knows best.]