Tag Archives: john 3:16

The Problems of John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NIV)

This is perhaps one of Christianity’s most referenced verses from the Bible. It’s so popular that even many non-Christians can recite this passage from memory without error. However, as oft-repeated as this passage is, it’s quite difficult to ignore the glaring issues it raises in regards to the theological beliefs of mainstream Christianity.

Subordinationism

This is an ancient Christological heresy which entails the Son and the Spirit being subordinate in nature and being to the Father. Many Christians today would argue that this passage does not reflect subordinationism, because it refers to functional subordinationism and purpose, not to nature and being. However, it should be noted that if God is all-powerful, and if the three persons of the Godhead are equally God, then the excuse of purpose is thrown out the window. At this point, it would mean that one of the three persons has inherently, more authority than the others and thus this directly refers to the nature and being of God. As such, the strawman argument of purpose is a purposeful distraction from this core Christological problem.

Love

It is quite strange to see the act of murder as an act born out of love. In this scenario, God who has in the past forgiven sins without need for sacrifice and due to prayer, somehow necessitates the death of an innocent man to forgive the sins of His own creation. The salvation doctrine here is not consistent:

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. – Psalm 141:2.

Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” – Hosea 14:1-2.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. – Proverbs 15:8.

A Christian may argue that sin requires justice, which necessitates punishment. However this argument is invalid on several fronts. To begin with, it has already been established that in lieu of sacrifices, God forgives sins through prayer as documented above. Secondly, God is the one who has ultimately been sinned against and it is His prerogative to determine what justifies the forgiveness of sin, in this and many other cases this is manifested in the form of repentance and prayer. As humans, we do not get to decide what justifies our forgiveness, in the same way that we do not get to decide what is moral and immoral. In all of these decisions, God has the ultimate say. In light of this, it seems as though in attempting to claim that Christ must die for sins, as most Christians argue, then they are not arguing from a position of love but one of circumstance. Many would argue that Christ was the only sinless man and as such, he was the perfect sacrifice (this is foregoing the false belief that the Passover Lamb sacrifice was meant to forgive all sins – it wasn’t). However, it should be noted that if he was the only sinless man, then the only reason he was sacrificed (I prefer the term murder), was out of necessity, he was the only one at that time that fulfilled that role. We must also ask, if Christ is God and he truly did love the world, why did he have to be sent? Why not come of his own volition? As such, love is truly not in the equation.

God Apart From Christ

One of the more interesting occurrences in this passage is the positioning of Christ in relation to God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.

Christ is spoken of as being apart from God. It’s God who does the sending. However, if Christ is God, why doesn’t the passage read as:

For God so loved the world that he gave himself.

Why is the personhood of Christ and that of God, spoken as if they were two distinct beings? It is God that loves the world, not Christ. It is God that sends Christ, not Christ who sends himself. This structure clearly indicates that Christ is not only distinct from God, but that they are two beings wherein one is subordinate to the other. In other words, this passage fundamentally demonstrates the incoherent beliefs of Christianity. Many Christians gladly repeat this slogan as a representation of their core beliefs, but very few of them have ever put a pittance of time into considering the theological challenges that this passage presents. It also needs to be asked, why doesn’t the passage read as follows:

For Christ so loved the world that he gave himself.

The proper reading represents Christ as the object of the sentence and not the subject. As such, it demonstrates a case where God is apart from Christ and Christ is apart from God. Such phraseology is prominent throughout the Johannine Gospel, we find another case here:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. – John 17:3 (NIV)

Again, Christ is represented and spoken of as being apart from God. There is only One True God, and on the other hand there is Christ. In fact, the passage is better read as:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus the Messiah.

In this more accurate reading, there are two subjects, God, and then Jesus who is the Messiah. The Messiah qualifies who Jesus is, in this case – not God. Therefore, the language used both in John 3:16 and John 17:3 are not reflective of modern Christian beliefs, but rather illustrate the very distinction between the Jesus the Messiah and His Master, God.

Conclusion

Given the popularity of John 3:16, and its lack of study by Christians, I encourage Muslims to use this verse as a point from which we can encourage Christians to examine their beliefs critically. If you’re a Christian and you are now being made aware of the problems of this passage, then I encourage you to discuss them with a Church Elder or a learned Christian, followed by conversation with a Muslim. Understanding this verse and its consequences will drastically reshape a Christian’s theology and for Muslims, it will at the least, help us understand the crisis of faith that most Christians experience when they actively begin to read the Bible.

and Allah knows best.

John 3:16 Teaches Us Unconditional Love

I would like to encourage missionaries to stop making this claim in regard to John 3:16. The verse does not teach unconditional love. It does not. You simply have to read the verse and you’ll realise this. So, let’s take a look at the verse:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NIV)

The love of God in giving His Son to us, is pivoted on the condition of whoever believes in this happening. Only those who believe that God sent His Son, would earn the merits of God sending the Son and by extension, loving the world. The verse is saying that due to God’s love for the world, He gave His Son, and in giving His Son we will have eternal life and will not perish, if we believe. This love for the world in giving us His Son, is conditional on us believing. Therefore, a condition does exist, you have to believe. For those who God does not love, they will perish and you can only perish if God does not love you.

In conclusion, John 3:16 does not teach that God’s love is unconditional, as the condition of belief exists. Therefore, those who make such a claim most likely have not read the verse properly. Considering it’s one of the most famous, if not the most famous verse of the Bible, it’s pretty ridiculous that anyone can understand it this wrongly.

and Allah knows best.

The Death of Christ is Meaningless

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

As recently as November of last year I’ve been examining the nature of Christ’s “death”. I published a couple musings about it, didn’t receive much in the way of answers, as much as I did receive criticisms by one particular has been. Building on my studies and discussions with significantly more intelligent Christian missionaries and apologists, I decided to author a piece expressing more of my logical expansions on the topic at hand.

This is the result, a 1000+ word article that uses Christian references and explanations to describe the nature of Christ’s death, leading to a pretty interesting conclusion. Despite writing the article, my curiosity about the ‘death’ of a God is still there. I can’t fathom how an absolute, all powerful deity can perish, whether metaphorically or otherwise.  I suppose there’s much more to come from this area of study.

The article is available via the Muslim Debate Initiative’s website.

Sister Elisabeth S. had this to say about the article:

“This article is definitely a masterpiece. It’s exactly one of the questions that led me away from Christianity. As for Thabiti Anyabwile, my parents are huge fans of his, and met him after I converted to Islam, and put me in touch with him, and I asked him why he left Islam so shortly after his conversion, he listed his reasons, and I answered back explaining how those reasons were the very ones that led me to Islam, and never heard back from him – this is one of them. This is by far the best and clearest exposition of it I’ve read. May it be used to guide at least a few confused souls.”

Br. Paul Daniel, a Christian convert to Islam had this to say:

Well put together, I can picture less educated or interested persons clicking off and getting lost easily, but the facts are argued well
and the logic is theologically sound.

wa Allaahu ‘Alam.

John 3:16- revisited

Christians so often quote John 3:16 to prove how Jesus is the son of God and how he died for our sins. Basically this verse sums up the entire Christian faith. The purpose of this piece is to refute such a verse and prove that there is no reason for God to make any form of sacrifice in order to pay for the sins of humankind.

1-First, let’s look at it from a logical stance: If God is all about love, how could He sacrifice His only son? This makes us wonder about the definition of love according to the Biblical God…

Moreover, this verse makes us question the fairness of the biblical God. Is it fair to kill someone innocent for sins he didn’t commit? How can the biblical God be so loving if He is unfair? Furthermore, if Jesus died for the sins of every criminal and rapist, why would they stop spreading their evil? The whole idea of retribution and punishment disappears with such a way of salvation.

2-John 3:16 also makes us ask the following: is God unable to forgive sins without killing His own son?

If it is proven that God had no problem at all in forgiving sins without blood sacrifices then why did he have to crucify His only “begotten” son Jesus” and declare to the whole world that from then onwards the only way to forgiveness is through Jesus’ death? Why would He radically change His nature when it’s stated in Malachi 3:6,”For I am the Lord, I DO NOT CHANGE“?

Let’s read the following verses to understand more :

“As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

The word “turn” here in Hebrew is shuvu which is similar with the word teshuvah which carries the same meaning as tawbah in Arabic i.e. return/repent.

“And suppose I tell some wicked people that they will surely die, but then they turn from their sins and do what is just and right. For instance, they might give back a debtor’s security, return what they have stolen, and obey my life-giving laws, no longer doing what is evil. If they do this, then they will surely live and not die. None of their past sins will be brought up again, for they have done what is just and right, and they will surely live.” (Ezekiel 33:14-16)

“The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.” (Ezekiel 18: 20-22)

In the verses quoted above one can clearly see that the idea of inherited sin is totally debunked. Repentance is taught as a means for salvation and that if repentance is sought and one adheres to that which is lawful, All  one’s past sins will be forgotten. This amazing show of mercy from God is again free of any blood sacrifice.

The same message is repeated again in the same chapter :

“And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die.” (Ezekiel 18: 27-28)

“Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you!”(Ezekiel 18:30)

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. ” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“Perhaps the people of Judah will repent when they hear again all the terrible things I have planned for them. Then I will be able to forgive their sins and wrongdoings.” (Jeremiah 36:3)

“Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.” (Isaiah 55:7)

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

God is not required to kill anyone for atonement of your sins!

3-What is true sacrifice in God’s eyes?

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17)

“Does the Lord  delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (I Samuel 15:22)

Christians as taught by Paul always  say that obedience and works are worthless. Accept Jesus’ sacrifice and you will be saved! Just believe ! Faith comes first, then works will ensue. Yet, in 1 Samuel 15:22 we see a different idea. The Christian point of view is apparently in reverse to that of God’s as portrayed in 1 Samuel 15:22 ! If God said once that obedience is better than sacrifice, how can He again radically change that and reverse the idea?

4- The biblical God has sons by tons. Jesus is not the only son of God and he is not even the only begotten son as well !

“…Adam, which was the son of God.” (Luke 3:38)
“That the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair….” (Genesis 6:2)
“…Israel is my son, even my firstborn”. (Exodus 4:22)
“…the LORD hath said unto me, ‘Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.’” ( Psalms 2: 7)
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

You may say all these are metaphorical verses but Jesus is the only begotten son of God. However, Jesus is not the only begotten son of God David is also described as the begotten son of God
The verse which prove David was the begotten son of God : “…the LORD hath said unto me, ‘Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.’” ( Psalms 2: 7)

5-The Bible sates that Jesus was sent only to Israel So how can He forgive the sins of mankind ?
He (Jesus) answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

I would like to conclude with the following biblical verse ;

“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3)

You either have to  accept that no  one has to die for your sins or accept that the Bible is contradictory. Either way Christian missionaries should reconsider John 3:16 before trying to trick people with it.