Further proofs that Christians bear divine attributes
Sam Shamoun is out with a futile defense to our critique of biblical monotheism wherein we provided proofs that mere Christian believers also partake in divine functionality
As far as Shamoun’s paper is concerned, we would respond to it separately in near future (inshAllah) as there is nothing much than a lot of smokescreen, however, in this paper we would provide further biblical proofs that mere Christian mortals are not merely involved in divine functionalities but they even possess divine attributes!
Our basic premise being: Divine attributes and status fit only to God and cannot be shared with any part of His creation. We would consider some attributes and status which Trinitarians have allocated exclusively for divine Jesus (peace be upon him). Then we would expound how Bible has shared the same attributes and status with mere Christians. This would help establish either of the following two consequences:
(i) There are elements of polytheism (Arabic. Shirk) in the already suffering “Trinitarian” brand of monotheism.
(ii) The attributes and status vested on Jesus (peace be upon him) are not divine enough but that they have been mistakenly considered so!
With that said, let us analyze the “monotheism” that Bible has to offer.
Instances of violated monotheism from the Bible
A. Christian believers expected to be as perfect as God
The attribute of being perfect in an absolute sense is something which befits to God and God alone. No other mere creature can claim that s/he is as perfect as God. If anybody claims so then the claimant is either claiming divinity or breaching monotheism. However, biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) had unceremoniously expected his disciples to be perfect as God:
“You must be perfect – just as your Father in heaven is perfect!” (Matthew 5:48)
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Mat 5:48, King James Version)
Notice what Jesus (peace be upon him) had not asserted in the above passage. He did not say that the believers should be merely perfect or upright in their worldly life and dealings. Rather he said that believers must be “just as perfect as God – The Father”.
By claiming so Jesus (peace be upon him) did not merely factually want his disciples to be perfect but he desired comparative divine perfection in his disciples. He fixed a degree and a capacity of perfection for his disciples – that they should be just asperfect as God – The Father. The context of the above passage lends further support. Consider the following “verses”:
“Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that, and if you speak only to your friends. Have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect – just as your Father in heaven is perfect!” (Matthew 5: 46-48)
Unlike God, it is the petty human psychology to love and be amicable to only those people who are friendly – “even the pagans do that!”. However, this is not so with God. He, out of his immeasurable bounty and mercy makes no distinction between believer and disbeliever while pouring providences. His rain wets all – alike and equally.
It is possible that human being(s) may love another human being selflessly even though s/he has been offended, yet this would only account to the magnanimity of the person in worldly, non-divine realm. It cannot be said that the person has attained or had tried to attain the magnanimity (“just like”) of God!
Nevertheless, Jesus (peace be upon him) expects his disciples to transcend their human weakness, leave the realm of “ordinary”, in other words, become extra ordinary, and acquire the divine “perfection” of God! Their psychology and dealings should be at par (“just as”) with God!
We expect a Trinitarian reconciliation that Jesus (peace be upon him) was only exhorting his disciples to magnanimity; he did not intend his disciples any divinity. However, the problem with such an explanation is that Jesus (peace be upon him) did not merely required his followers to be magnanimous in human terms. He did not ask his disciples to be “perfect” in general worldly and human parlance rather he fixed a standard for them which was in itself divine.
In fact in monotheism it is impossible that a finite creature could ever attain the “perfection” of an infinite being! And thus to make (or expect) such an assertion would be idolatry in itself!
Accordingly, New Testament commentator B. W. Johnson asserts unequivocally that obeying the subject verse would elevate mankind to the status of divinity at par with God (!):
48. Be ye therefore perfect. To carry out fully this great law of love would lift man to the DIVINE standard of perfection. This must be the aim of life. We have before us as a pattern for the perfect God; we have the Divine perfection embodied in Christ. It will require a constant struggle while in the flesh to come near so high an ideal, but it must be our continual aim. This does not teach such sanctification that we cannot sin, nor that we, here on earth, attain absolute perfection, but we have placed before us, as a model, the perfect ideal, and we will constantly ascend higher by striving to attain it. (The People’s New Testament (1891), B. W. Johnson)
Notice the implication of the subject biblical verse; it elevates man to a level of “divine perfection”. Once elevated to the divinely perfect level, what difference did there remain between the Creator and the creation? Yet this “verse” is said to be in a book which teaches “Semitic – monotheism”?!
At this juncture, expect Christian [apologists] to twist and distort the obvious import of the verse which was otherwise candidly accepted by reputed Christian scholar – B.W. Johnson.
B. Christians to share in divine nature of God
In the preceding section we saw how mere Christian believers were expected to be “just as perfect” as the biblical God! Continuing on the same note, we have another biblical instance wherein Peter was exhorting his audience to share the divine nature of God:
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might bepartakers of the DIVINE nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Pe: 1-4, King James Version, e-Sword Version)
Contemplating the idolatry of the above verse, Bible authority Albert Barnes candidly admits that the above phrase is “difficult” to understand. Nevertheless, he is quite optimistic that mere Christians could reach the status from where they canpartake in divine nature of God. Consider Barnes’ following comments:
Partakers of the divine nature – This is a very important and a difficult phrase…
(1) Let anyone reflect on the amazing advances made by himself since the period of infancy. But a few, very few years ago, he knew nothing. He was in his cradle, a poor, helpless infant. He knew not the use of eyes, or ears, or hands, or feet. He knew not the name or use of anything, not even the name of father or mother. He could neither walk, nor talk, nor creep. He did not know even that a candle would burn him if he put his finger there. He knew not how to grasp or hold a rattle, or what was its sound, or whence that sound or any other sound came. Let him think what he is at twenty, or forty, in comparison with this; and then, if his improvement in every similar number of years hereafter “should” be equal to this, who can tell the height to which he will rise?
(2) we are here limited in our own powers of learning about God or his works. We become acquainted with him through his works – by means of “the senses.” But by the appointment of this method of becoming acquainted with the external world, the design seems to have been to accomplish a double work quite contradictory – one to help us, and the other to hinder us. One is to give us the means of communicating with the external world – by the sight, the hearing, the smell, the touch, the taste; the other is to shut us out from the external world, except by these. The body is a casement, an enclosure, a prison in which the soul is incarcerated, from which we can look out on the universe only through these organs. But suppose, as may be the case in a future state, there shall be no such enclosure, and that the whole soul may look directly on the works of God – on spiritual existences, on God himself – who can then calculate the height to which man may attain in becoming a “partaker of the divine nature?”
(3) we shall have an “eternity” before us to grow in knowledge, and in holiness, and in conformity to God. Here, we attempt to climb the hill of knowledge, and having gone a few steps – while the top is still lost in the clouds – we lie down and die. We look at a few things; become acquainted with a few elementary principles; make a little progress in virtue, and then all our studies and efforts are suspended, and “we fly away.” In the future world we shall have an “eternity” before us to make progress in knowledge, and virtue, and holiness, uninterrupted; and who can tell in what exalted sense it may yet be true that we shall be “partakers of the divine nature,” or what attainments we may yet make? (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 2 Peter 1:4)
Notice that in the particular citations, Barnes has not denied the divine partaking. In fact he is optimistic that Christian believers might reach a stage in the future, through continuous progression, where they can directly “look” on God’s works and comprehend it to a level where they “may attain in becoming a partaker of the divine nature”!
Omniscience, Absolute Virtue and Holiness are all qualities which befits God alone (c.f. Trinitarians use the following verses to deify Jesus: Matthew 11:27, John 16:30, Matthew 21:14-18) , however, Barnes repeated his assertions that in future when Christians would have “eternal” time in their hand, they will make infinite “progress in knowledge, and virtue, and holiness” – so much so that in some “exalted sense” they will become “partakers of the divine nature”.
In fact, many pre-Christian occidental religious philosophies like Hinduism and Buddhism had similar concepts in which mortals could unite with divine God, partake in his divine nature, through continuous development and progression towards Him:
“In this state [ultimate state of being in Buddhism knows as “Nirvana”], according to a branch of Buddhist thought, the ego disappears and the human soul and consciousness are extinguished. This concept also forms the core of philosophy known as “mysticism.” Mysticism is defined as an experience of union with God and the belief that man’s main goal lies in the seeking that union. The origins of mysticism can be found in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers like Plato’s Symposium in which mention is made of various ladders of ascent, composed of steep and hard steps, whereby a union of the soul with God is finally attained. A parallel concept can also be found in Hinduism’s identification of Atma (human soul) with Brahma (the impersonal Absolute), the realization of which is the ultimate goal or release from existence and rebirth.” (Dr. Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, Pp 180-181)
Furthermore, Robertson, another New Testament authority, had no qualms and sincerely admitted that the subject verse (2 Peter 1:4) has pagan elements in it:
Of the divine nature (theias phuseōs). This phrase, like to theion in Act 17:29, “belongs rather to HELLENISM than to the Bible” (Bigg). It is a Stoic phrase, but not with the Stoic meaning. Peter is referring to the new birth as 1Pe_1:23 (anagegennēmenoi). The same phrase occurs in an inscription possibly under the influence of MITHRAISM (Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary). (Robertson’s Word Pictures, 2 Peter 1:4)
Note how Robertson alluded that the same phrase which became a “God breathed verse” in Bible (2 Peter 1:4) has been inscribed in pagan artifact under the influence of archaic Roman god Mithra.
Commenting on Mithraism and its parallels with Christianity, Robertson writes the following in his book Pagan Christs:
“…Mithra was believed to be a great mediator between man and God. His birth took place in a cave on December 25th. He was born of a virgin and he travelled far and wide and had twelve disciples (that represent the twelve zodiacal signs). He died in the service of humanity, he was buried but rose again from his tomb and his resurrection was celebrated with great rejoicing. His great festivals were the Winter Solstice and the Equinox (Christmas and Easter?). He was called the savior and sometimes figured as a lamb and people initiated themselves into this cult through baptism andsacramental feats were held in his remembrance. (Robertson, Pagan Christs, p.338. As cited in Before Nicea, p. 46, Bowes and al-Ashanti)
Arthur Findlay concurs with Robertson in his book Rock of Truth:
“It was not until the year 527 C.E. that it was decided when Jesus was born, and various monks equipped with astrological learning were called in to decide this important point. Ultimately, the Emperor decided that the 25th of December, the date of birth of the pagan Roman god, Mithra, be accepted as the date of birth of Jesus. Up to 680 C. E. no thought had been given to the symbol of Jesus crucified on the cross and prior to that date veneration was accorded to the Mithraic symbol of the lamb. From this time onwards it was ordained that in place of the lamb the figure of a man attached to the cross should be substituted.” (As cited in Before Nicea, p. 45-46, Bowes and al-Ashanti)
Sir James G. Frazier has a similar point to make in his famous work The Golden Bough:
“In respect both of doctrines and of rites, the cult of Mithra appears to have presented many points of resemblance to Christianity. Taken all together, the coincidences of the Christian with the Heathen festivals are too close and too numerous to be accidental. They mark the compromise which the church in its “hour of triumph” was compelled to make with its vanquished and yet still dangerous rivals.” (As cited in Before Nicea, p.46, Bowes and al-Ashanti)
Returning back to the verse where Christians would partake in the divine nature of God, Jonathan Edwards – a Christian author and theologian – writes that Christian believers would partake in the divine “excellency” and “glory” of the Christian god(s):
It is a confirmation that the Holy Ghost is God’s love and delight, because the saints communion with God consists in their partaking of the Holy Ghost. The communion of saints is twofold: ’tis their communion with God and communion with one another, (I John 1:3) “That ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” Communion is a common partaking of good, either of excellency or happiness,so that when it is said the saints have communion or fellowship with the Father and with the Son, the meaning of it is that they partake with the Father and the Son of their good, which is either their EXCELLENCY and GLORY (II Peter 1:4), “Ye are made partakers of the Divine nature”; Heb. 12:10, “That we might be partakers of His holiness;” John 17:22, 23, “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one, I in them and Thou in Me”); or of their joy and happiness: (John 17:13) “That they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” (Jonathan Edwards, Unpublished Essay on the Trinity (i))
What distinction remained between gods of Trinitarian Christianity and creatures when they can share “excellency” and “glory” of their gods!
Also notice how Jonathan Edwards, while writing that Christians would partake in God’s glory alluded to John 17:22-23; this takes us to our third proposition.
C. Christian believers enjoying the same honor which befits God
Once the believers sought to attain the divine “perfection” which behooves God and God alone, it was not too far – fetched that biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) vestdivine honor to them as well. Consider the following passage:
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)
Many Trinitarians claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) shared the same honorand glory with God – The Father – as the second person in the godhead. However, according to the above biblical “verse” Jesus (peace be upon him) shared his honor – the same divine [Trinitarian] honor, with multiple mortals as well!
What is more embarrassing is that multiple celebrated Trinitarian commentators have concurred that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) divine glory has been shared with multiple mortals:
Christians who believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is God, as expected, reserve for him certain prized and exclusive titles and status which befits Jesus (peace be upon him) alone. For example, the status and honor of being at the (i) right hand of God, the status of the (ii) divine redeemer and basking in the (iii) bosom of God.
Nevertheless with the authority of John 17:22, celebrated Bible scholar duo of Matthew – Henry has conferred all the prized and divine status to mere mortals (!):
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)
And according to commentator John Wesley, the honor which Jesus (peace be upon him) – the Trinitarian god – conferred upon his disciples was the honor of being the only begotten son (!):
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)
Let us explain John Wesley’s commentary briefly. In the biblical verse, Jesus (peace be upon him) is said to be conferring a particular honor to his disciples. John Wesley cogitates that this particular honor was the honor of being the “only begotten” of God – the Father.
Trinitarians claim that the glory of being the “only begotten” is a divine honor as not everyone can be only begotten of God, moreover, Jesus (peace be upon him) is exclusively entitled as the “only begotten son of God”. As such the subject verse invests a divine honor (not mere honor) upon multiple mortals thereby again breaching “monotheism”.
The preceding Christian Scholars are not pulling out commentaries out of thin air because as we go to the context of the subject biblical verse, we would find that this is indeed divine honor. Consider the following contextual verse(s) from a Trinitarian perspective:
“After Jesus finished saying this, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so that the Son may give glory to you. For you gave him authority over all mankind, so that he might give eternal life to all those you gave him…” (John 17: 1-2)
Notice the reason why Jesus (peace be upon him) had glory from Father – it was for having (i) authority over all mankind and (ii) for giving them eternal life. Both these acts are considered to be divine and rationales for the deification of Jesus (peace be upon him) – as such the glory for them must also then be divine!
Continuing on with the context we have,
“Father! Give me glory in your presence now, the same glory I had with you before the world has made.” (John 17: 5)
According to orthodox Trinitarian position, Jesus (peace be upon him) pre-existed with God and shared the same honor with Him. And, in the foregoing “verse” he was referring to the same glory – the so called divine pre-existing glory to be bestowed upon him.
It was only after describing the divine capacity (Trinitarian understanding) of glory did Jesus (peace be upon him) said (or rather conferred),
“I gave them the same glory that you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one:” (John 17:22)
Jesus (peace be upon him) gave away the same prized and divine glory to mere believers; in fact he specifically identified the glory – he said, “the same glory that you gave me” and we just saw in the context [v. 5] that Father gave him the glory of his pre-existence with Him as co-god!
The foregoing biblical incident once again breached the already dwindling “monotheism” of Christianity.
D. Christian believers surpassing their god in achieving feats
Finally we have a bizarre case wherein the followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) are not just held at par with God but they even surpass the divine TrinitarianJesus (peace be upon him). Consider the following assertion of Jesus (peace be upon him):
“I am telling you the truth: whoever believes in me will do what I do – yes, he will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Acknowledging the difficulty of literal interpretation of the above “verse” wherein the Christian believers would surpass Jesus (peace be upon him) in performing miracles, most Christian commentators, to avoid chagrin, have understood it to mean that Christian believers would surpass Jesus (peace be upon him) in converting people:
John 14:12 Greater works than these shall he do, because I go to my Father.Those who believe shall have power given to do works, in some respects greater; not greater miracles, but to effect greater moral and spiritual revolutions. At the time of his death, as far as we know, he had only aboutfive hundred disciples, but he “went to his Father” and “shed forth the things seen and heard” on Pentecost, and the eleven apostles convertedthree thousand in a single day. (The People’s New Testament, John 14:12)
Bible scholar Robertson also holds similar view:
Shall he do also (kakeinos poiēsei). Emphatic pronoun ekeinos, “that one also.” Greater works than these (meizona toutōn). Comparative adjective neuter plural from megas with ablative case toutōn. Not necessarily greater miracles and not greater spiritual works in quality, but greater in quantity.Cf. Peter at Pentecost and Paul’s mission tours. “Because I go” (hoti egō poreuornai). Reason for this expansion made possible by the Holy Spirit as Paraclete (Joh 16:7). (Robertson’s Word Pictures, John 14:12)
However, the above standard Christian interpretation is not very precise. The being, the Greek word used at numerous places in John’s Gospel to refer to the miracles of Jesus (peace be upon him) is “erga”. For instance it has been used in John 5:36, 7:3, 21, 10:25, 32, 38 etc. And Jesus (peace be upon him) referred by the same Greek word “erga” while referring to his disciples!
Thus, according to standard textual/literal understanding of the Greek word, Jesus (peace be upon him) asserted that his disciples would surpass him in doing miracles, as opposed to converting people! The implications of this conclusion are very serious! In Christianity we have mere believers who would surpass the god of the Trinitarians to accomplish miraculous feats!
The most common defense which we expect is that Christian believers would not perform miraculous feats in and by themselves! The defense appears good however it should address the following two issues:
(i) When the status of Christian believers is not exalted to a divine level because they perform miracles on the authority of someone else (and not by themselves) then on what basis do Christian apologists claim deity for Jesus (peace be upon him) when he performs miracles declaring that it is not he performing them but God – Almighty! (C.f. John 14:10, Acts 2:22 for instances).
Particular Christian apologist Sam Shamoun has been appealing to the same argument here: Shamoun: Time 06:04 – 06:48 and here: Shamoun: Time 00:49-01:46. (We responded him here.)
(ii) When it was so easy to explain the imminent embarrassment of John 14:12 that Christian believer would perform greater miracles on someone else’s authority then why did majority of New Testament commentators took pain to explain that Christian believers would not surpass Jesus (peace be upon him) in miracles but only in the count of converting men into Christianity? Seems like they accepted that working on someone else’s authority does not diminish the divine status as in the case of Jesus (peace be upon him) – he too works on God’s authority and yet he is divine.
We provided four propositions which help establish either the claims made in favor of deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) is not very strong or the same claims could be used to deify Christian believers particularly when,
A. Jesus (peace be upon him) required his believers to be “perfect” to the effect of God Himself!
B. Peter – one of the best Christian – taught to partake in the divine nature of God!
C. Jesus (peace be upon him) rendered his divine glory upon his followers.
D. Finally, we saw eccentric scenario wherein mere Christian believers would surpass the miraculous feats achieved by Jesus (peace be upon him) – the Trinitarian God!
We also saw how the Christian concepts deduced from biblical verses have parallels with Buddhism, Hinduism and Pagan Roman Mithraism.
We leave it to the Christians to solve the above rigmarole however we believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) was a purely Semitic, monotheistic Islamic prophet who could not have uttered any such statement which would either deify him or his followers. Albeit, these are statements which are interpreted in a certain way and forcefully attributed to Christ (peace be upon him) in his absence.
We seek refuge in Allah (SWT) from every aspect of associating partners with Him; whether knowingly or unknowingly. Amen.
- Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version.
- All emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.