Divinity or Prophet-hood of the Biblical Jesus Christ Peace be upon Him

Ahmed Deedat - was one of the greatest Muslim apologist, scholar, writer and charismatic public speaker.

This has to be one of the most popular and oldest topics in Christian-Muslim debate. The divinity of Christ Jesus (pbuh), is Jesus (pbuh) God according to the Bible? Throughout history Muslims and Christians have endlessly been arguing this subject matter. I’m sure if one searches these titles on YouTube he/she can find plenty of debates to watch, the most admired ones (by the Muslim community) are probably including the late Ahmed Deedat. It is a great topic one has to agree, dealing with the very nature of God and His ability of becoming a man. What should we believe God can and cannot do? Can He do everything? The two most popular religions of the world are in disagreement here, both having Jesus (pbuh) in common but with such conflicting views. As a result of reading many works and watching so many debates and lectures on this topic, I have decided to give it a go myself. Now I’m sure most of you reading this article will have at least a basic understanding of the concept of God in Christianity and Islam, and know who stands on which side of the debate. However if you have no such knowledge then read no more! For now: leave this article and please do a simple study of God on both religions. Only then is it suitable to come back to this article, otherwise it would most probably be a waste of your time.

I have touched on this issue of Jesus’ (pbuh) divinity in some other articles I have posted on this blog, but I feel I now need to deal with this topic completely. I am not a scholar, professor or sheikh etc by any means, but I am a person who is fascinated by religion and theology, and I have been for most of my teenage and adult life. So you could say I am some how qualified to write concerning such a scholarly topic. And because I am a Muslim I will be defending the Islamic view of Jesus Christ (pbuh) and monotheism, but I also believe in playing fair (being unbiased towards the subject matter).

Is Jesus (pbuh) divine in his own words?

The question: ‘was or is Christ Jesus (pbuh) God?’ leads to another question: did he ever clearly claim to be God? And of course as many of us know, there is nothing in the Bible as such. This is the book which is supposed to contain four accounts of Jesus’ (pbuh) life story, yet no where can we find Jesus (pbuh) ever directly claiming to be God. If this is the case then surely the answer is no, Jesus’ (pbuh) was not divine.

Let us look at this in more detail, let us use logic. If the Lord all Mighty had come down to earth as a man, as Jesus Christ (pbuh) then wouldn’t He want the people to know? Wouldn’t He make it plain such as ‘I am your Lord; I have come down to earth so worship me’? This is a very basic argument but effective. Why leave the whole world in such confusion? If Jesus (pbuh) was God according to Christianity, then there should be some direct unambiguous statement in the Bible, made by him while he walked this earth confirming that. This is only logical. For example if you did not know Adam’s name was Adam because he never told you, how can you be sure what his name was? It’s so simple and basic.

There is a passage in the Christian Bible which comes close to claiming the divinity of Christ (pbuh). In the book of Revelation, where Jesus is supposed to have said “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”[1]. This verse seems convincing at first but when one should looked into the matter with more detail (who wrote this book, when was it written etc?), the problem is very clear. The book of Revelation was a dream of a man named John, now if this John was the same John who wrote the ‘Gospel according to John’ or ‘Gospel of John’, I’m not sure. But nevertheless the book was a dream of someone called John as many Christian scholars claim. The very idea that it was a dream written down weakens the statement (Revelation 1:8). A dream could mean anything, how reliable is a dream? Did this man John really have the dream, or did he make the whole thing up? No one can be one hundred percent sure. Also, we do not take events that take place within dreams and attribute them to reality as proof, this clearly doesn’t work. Everyone knows this.

The book of revelation was written many years later after Jesus (pbuh) as a result of a dream, around 70 – 95 C.E (some scholars vary on the time). If such a direct and clear statement was uttered by Christ (pbuh) in actual reality while he was on earth, then there would probably be no disagreement to whether Jesus (pbuh) claimed divinity or not in the Bible.

God becoming a man on earth

As many Christians would proudly boast that God all Mighty can do anything, even become a man. In this part, I am examining what it means for God to become a man, His very own creation.

First of all, it seems appropriate to refer to a particular verse from the holy Qur’an (regarding the matter of being a God-man as some Christians may say): “Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth[2]. The verse points out that Jesus (pbuh) and his blessed mother both eat food. Some may question so what if they eat food? Everyone has food. And that is exactly the point that Christ Jesus (pbuh) needed to eat daily to survive. As the creation of God: human beings, we constantly need to feed ourselves so that we have the strength and ability to live and do things. The Lord all Mighty is not needy like this. God does not need to feed Himself however Jesus (pbuh) had to, showing that he was a mere mortal, a creation or the all Mighty. If you eat, don’t you need to let it back out after a while? And the verse ends with mentioning how easy the signs are yet they (Christians) reject the truth. This explanation being from the Qur’an the Christian will not accept, and no matter how many reasons shown from the Qur’an, they would not be enough. So what is there to be done? We need to examine this issue in light of the Bible itself, which is the only way to convince a Christian. So that is what I have done in the following parts of this section. It only makes sense to do so.

It is obvious that we need to examine the personality and attitude of Jesus Christ (pbuh) according to the Bible, his nature and his attributes. And when we do so it is very noticeable that Jesus (pbuh) of the Bible presents himself as a modest servant of God who has no power without God. He presents himself as a simple human being and gives himself no divine attributes whatsoever. For example he completely humbles himself in such places in the New Testament: Jesus (pbuh) was called a good master but he refuses to be called as such and says there is none so good but the only Lord[3]. In another passage of the Bible he says: “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[4]. Also Jesus (pbuh) claims all his power is given to him by his Creator[5]. One more example out of the many I feel I should point out here, before resurrecting Lazarus Jesus (pbuh) absolutely humbled himself by calling to the Creator aloud. Ponder carefully over what he said here according the Gospel of John: Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth”[6]. Are these the sayings of God? Is the all Mighty not good? Is His power given to Him? Simple basic logic suggests that these are not the sayings of God but of a mere human being, a prophet of God.

Shabir Ally - well known Muslim debater and speaker on comparative religion.

Even in Christ’s (pbuh) day to day thinking, actions and doings do we see no sign of a divine being but a simple human. Here are some instants from the Bible to show this: Jesus (pbuh) had no knowledge of the hereafter[7]. He felt thirsty[8], and he cried in another instant[9]. He was tempted by the devil[10]. It is very clear these are not the attributes of God, they are attributes a human being. Can anyone imagine a thirsty or weepy or ignorant God? Can anyone believe God was being tempted by the devil? Everything we find in the Bible regarding Jesus (pbuh) clearly show that he was only a limited being, whereas God all Mighty is unlimited. You cannot have an unlimited and limited being at the same time. As the famous Muslim debater Shabir Ally puts it: “you cannot have a square-circle”, you are either limited or unlimited.

Even the supposed crucifixion of Christ (pbuh) creates problems with believing in his divinity. I have never heard a Christian claim that God got crucified. We all know God cannot die, yet it is believed that Jesus (pbuh) died on the cross while being God at the same time. Jesus (pbuh) the second person of the trinity (the son) according to Christendom died, not the father (the first person of the trinity) neither the Holy Ghost. But the Christian belief is that God is one person in three or three in one (something to this effect), and that these three persons are co-existing and co-eternal. So if one felt something the others would know and feel as well, if one dies then the others would die too, same for the Crucifixion right? If this isn’t the case then it means the trinity is made up three different Gods who are independent of one another. And this idea the Christian will not accept, but you can’t have both ways.

Defending the belief of a God-man

Nevertheless Christians haven’t given up in the argument, they still present their reasons to why Jesus (pbuh) would be God. The explanations they provide are as always based on Biblical passages. Passages which they seem to think are convincing, and purely their own interpretations. When closely examined and scrutinised one would realise that such passages or verses are completely uncertain and ambiguous open to many interpretations. As I wrote earlier in this writing that wouldn’t the all Mighty make it clear and plain if He came down to earth as a Man? The following are some of the most common arguments given from the Bible as proof of the divinity of Christ (pbuh).

In the Bible Jesus (pbuh) had claimed that he was in existence before his miraculous birth[11], so therefore somehow concluding that he must be divine. But this is nothing special when the same concept is also in the Old Testament regarding Jeremiah, Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”[12]. There are other verses when read out of contexts are misinterpreted against what they mean when read in context. Such as: “I and my Father are one”[13] and “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”[14]. And finally one more: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”[15]. This verse wasn’t even uttered by Jesus (pbuh), in the red letter Bible this verse appears as black. Also notice how none of these passages are actually direct or unequivocal.

There is no direct statement, verse or passage in the Bible regarding Christ’s (pbuh) divinity. What would be most appropriate is a claim from the lips of Jesus Christ (pbuh) that ‘I am your Lord, worship me’, we don’t even have this in that Bible. What I myself at least see are ambiguous and vague passages provided by my fellow Christian with particular interpretations out the many that they can have. If God became a man in the Bible, then we need complete solid undeniable, indisputable proof, which no Christian scholar has been able to provide.

Conclusion

The Muslim understanding of Jesus Christ (pbuh) is that of any other prophet of the all Mighty in Islam. As some may not be aware Muslims believe in the miraculous birth of Christ and the many Miracles he performed (all by permission of God) during the course of his life. But these miracles do not imply that Jesus (pbuh) was God, it is very easy for the Creator of all things to will such miracles to take place, Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is”[16]. The first human Adam (pbuh) was created without no mother and father, a greater miracle to Christ’s (pbuh) birth. Where Christians and Muslims differ regarding Christ (pbuh) is the Trinity, Crucifixion and Divinity.

It can be said that there is no solid evidence to base a belief of the divinity Christ (pbuh). The Bible when studied, observed and scrutinised has nothing intellectually convincing to offer to prove such an idea. Rather we have at best very vague, indirect and ambiguous passages which Christians claim to be convincing proof. One must have solid incontestable evidence for giving such an attribute to Jesus (pbuh) or to God. We cannot base our beliefs on assumption. Also a Christian must consider verses which outright deny the divinity of Jesus (pbuh), such as: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your father, which is in heaven”[17].

In a debate we expect proofs, solid evidences. But when it comes to this particular topic (Jesus’ Divinity) we hear the most loosely convincing arguments from the Christian side. Arguments implying that we believe decades later a person’s dream is actual proof of what we are questioning in reality. We hear arguments that imply us to believe that vague ambiguous statement are actually somehow solid proof. No real evidence has ever been shown. The famous late Ahmed Deedat used to challenge Christian scholars so strongly, he used to promise to embrace Christianity if someone could show him anywhere in the Bible where Jesus Christ (pbuh) directly claimed divinity. No one ever came forth with a single convincing verse. Of course some may disagree with Deedat’s tactics here, that this is not the way to debate. But it shows how one sided debates regarding this topic have become. Some may say that it is just a matter of believing when all else fails however, belief should be base on evidences and proofs right? I conclude with this: if Jesus (pbuh) was divine then most certainly he would have directly claimed so, but we find nothing of the kind in the entire Bible. There is no solid evidence; in fact there are passages which deny the idea. So the divinity of Jesus Christ (pbuh) can never be proven from the Bible, and if the Bible cannot prove this then nothing else can or ever will. It would be more natural to believe the Jesus (pbuh) was only a prophet of the all Mighty, on which both the holy Qur’an and the Bible agree. 

References

[1] Revelation 1:8

[2] Qur’an 5:75 

[3] Matthew 19:16-17, Mark 10:17-18, Luke 18:18-19 

[4] John 5:30 

[5] Matthew 28:18 

[6] John 11:41-43 

[7] Mark 13:32 

[8] John 19:28 

[9] John 11:35 

[10] Mark 1:13 

[11] John 8:58 

[12] Jeremiah 1:4-5 

[13] John 10:30 

[14] John 14:6 

[15] John 1:1 

[16] Qur’an 2:117 

[17] Matthew 23:9

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