Christians Respond To:
Dr. Jamal Badawi's
Jesus Christ in the Qur'an and the Bible
This study is a sequel to our previous critique of Dr. Jamal Badwi's pamphlet, Jesus Christ in the Qur'an and the Bible. We will examine some of the other areas of criticism Badawi presents against the N.T. witness to the deity of Christ, offering a point by point refutation.
9. CALLED SAVIOR: So was Jeho'ahaz (II Kings 13:5). Used in plural (Obad. Verse 21 and Nehem. 9:27).
Badawi's assumption is since other prophets and messengers were also called saviors, the title as applied to Jesus does not imply divinity. What Badawi fails to realize is that the term by itself does not imply divinity, but it is the manner in which it is used which indicates whether the phrase contains any divine overtones.
In relation to the O.T. passages that Badawi cites, the term implies deliverance from oppression and captivity:
"In the twenty-third year of King Joash son of Azariah of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu began to reign seventeen years. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin; he did not depart from them. The anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that he gave them repeatedly into the hand of King Hazael of Aram, then into the hand of Ben-hadad son of Hazael. But Jehoahaz entreated the LORD, and the LORD heeded him; for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Aram oppressed them. Therefore the LORD gave them a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Arameans; and the people of Israel lived in their homes as formerly." 2 Kings 13:1-5
"Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their backs and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. Therefore you gave them into the hands of their enemies, who made them suffer. Then in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hands of their enemies." Nehemiah 9:26-27
Finally, the book of Obadiah deals with God's judgement upon Edom for their oppression of Israel, and it is in this context that saviors were given.
Yet Jesus is a different kind of Savior, one who not only saves God's people from oppression but from the consequence of sin which is eternal separation from God in hell:
"She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
"The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, `Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
"They said to the woman, `It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world." John 4:42
"I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." John 12:47
No other prophet ever claimed to be the savior of the world or a savior from sin. This honor belongs to Jesus Christ alone.
13. SAID THAT ALL AUTHORITY WAS GIVEN TO HIM: He who gave authority is Greater (i.e. His God).
Badawi presumes that since Jesus was given all authority in heaven and earth he could not possibly be God. He forgets to inform his readers that the Holy Bible teaches that Jesus willingly subjected himself while on earth as a servant, setting aside his authority in order to fulfill the plan of salvation:
"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though he was (Greek- huperchon) in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of deatheven death on the cross." Philippians 2:5-8
This passage clearly teaches that Jesus of his own accord allowed himself to become man and a servant of God. The Greek term huperchon is a present participle, implying continuous action or existence. Hence, Jesus continued to exist in the form of God even while on earth. The only difference being that his divine form was veiled by the addition of his human nature.
By humbling himself, Christ emptied himself of his divine authority and visible glory, but not of his divine attributes. The authority that Christ received was not something that had not been his prior to his coming to the earth as a servant. Rather, it was something that he regained at his exaltation and resurrection. Jesus personally affirms the fact that what he was receiving was something that had already been his prior to the Incarnation:
"So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your own presence before the world existed." John 17:5
In fact, the Bible affirms that in the same way the Father gave to the Son authority to rule over all creation, the Son shall also give all authority to the Father at the consummation of the age:
"who (Jesus) has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities (exousion), and powers (dunameon) made subject to him." 1 Peter 3:22
Compare this with the following citation:
"Then comes the end, when he (Christ) hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority (exousian) and power(dunamin)." 1 Corinthians 15:24
Badawi certainly would not say that just because Jesus gives the kingdom to the Father that this then implies that the Father is not God, or that Jesus is a greater God than the Father. Yet, this is precisely what we would logically conclude if Badawi's reasoning is correct.
14. WAS CALLED "MY LORD AND MY GOD" (Jn. 20:28): Could have been an expression of excitement or " you are God - like " Distinction between " Lord " and "God" is made in I Cor. 8:6.
The best argument Badawi brings against the clear reference to Jesus as Lord and God in John 20:28 is to suggest that Thomas' statement was an exclamation of surprise, much like someone today yelling out "O My God!" at something surprising or shocking. The only problem with this argument is that it reads back into history a linguistic feature of today, which is a chronological fallacy.
A Jew would never use God's name in vain, especially in the manner Badawi suggests since they were clearly forbidden from using the Lord's name in any blasphemous way. (cf. Exodus 20:7) Furthermore, if Thomas had in fact used God's name in this manner Jesus would have rebuked him, yet he did not do so.
Badawi also assumes that Thomas was distinguishing between Jesus as his Lord, from the Father who he addressed as God. Hence, Thomas was actually addressing two distinct persons in John 20:28. Badawi's reasoning crumbles upon a closer examination of the biblical evidence. First, the verse clearly states that Thomas was addressing Jesus directly: "Thomas answered him, `My Lord and My God!"
Secondly, the phrase "My Lord and My God" (Greek- ho kyrios mou kai ho theos mou), and its various forms, is used elsewhere in relation to one person, not two:
"Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense, for my cause, my God and my Lord! (ho theos mou kai ho kyrios mou)" Psalms 35:23 (As translated in the Greek Septuagint Version [LXX])
"You are worthy, our Lord and God (ho kyrios kai ho theos hemon), to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Revelation 4:11
The fact that the phrase is used to refer to one person as opposed to two, along with the fact that Christ blesses Thomas' declaration affirms that John 20:28 is clearly addressing Christ as Lord and God. For a Jew to call anyone his Lord and God would be blasphemy because to the Jew only Jehovah could ever be addressed in such a manner.
15. JEWS TRIED TO STONE HIM FOR BLASPHEMY (Jn. 10:29-33): Jews were to indict him " by hook or by crook ", regardless of what he said. They may have considered him a false " Messiah ". Jesus' answer was revealing (Jn. 10:34). In Ps. 82:6, humans are called gods, allegorically, Moses was sent as " God " to the Pharoah (Exod. 7:1).
Even though it might be true that the unbelieving Jews were seeking to find a reason to execute Jesus and twist his words, this certainly was not the case with everyone. The disciples were also Jews and had no intention of catching Jesus in a lie or for blasphemy.
Furthermore, Jesus' citation of John 10:34 where Israelite judges are addressed as "gods" in a figurative sense was not a denial of his divinity. In order to understand Jesus' point it is essential to quote Psalm 82:6 and 7:
"I say, `Your are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince."
Although these judges are referred to as "gods" and "sons of the Most High" in a figurative sense, they are mere mortals who will die like all men. Yet Jesus not only represents God as did these judges, but is actually able to do what they could not, namely give eternal life:
"I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE, AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH. NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. What My Father has given me is greater than all else, AND NO ONE CAN SNATCH IT OUT OF THE FATHER'S HAND. THE FATHER AND I ARE ONE." John 10:28-30
Jesus and the Father are one in the sense that the Son is able to preserve believers from perishing and gives them eternal life, something which God alone can do. Hence, oneness does not simply imply one in purpose but one in all things, i.e. nature and power.
No Israelite judge could ever claim to have the power to preserve lives from perishing and the ability to give eternal life, since these are claims which only God can make:
"See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god beside me. I kill and make alive; I wound and heal; and no one can deliver from my hand." Deuteronomy 32:39
Jesus' usage of Psalms 82:6 was to imply that what the Scriptures call humans allegorically, he was in actuality since he does what only God can do. This point is brought out more clearly in the verses that follow immediately after John 10:34:
"`If those to whom the word of God came were called "gods" - and the scripture cannot be annulled - can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, "I am God's Son"? If I am not doing the works of my Father (i.e. giving eternal life, raising the dead etc.), then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.' Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands." John 10:35-39
If anything, Jesus' response served to reinforce to the Jews that Jesus "though, only a human being," was making himself "God." (cf. John 10:33) Amazingly, nowhere does one find Jesus denying the charge by simply coming out and saying that he was not God. Had he not been God he was obligated to do so, yet instead he only reinforces the Jewish accusation.
Jesus always expressed his subordination to his God and Creator.
(Note- Are servants essentially inferior because they are subordinate to their masters? Is the vice-president inferior because the president holds a higher office? Something to ponder on)
1. DID NOTHING ON HIS OWN AUTHORITY (Jn. 5:30, 14:31, Matt. 20:23).
2. SPOKE NOT ON HIS OWN AUTHORITY (Jn. 14:10, 8:28-29).
It is here where Badawi exposes his lack of credibility to seriously critique the Holy Bible. Had Badawi done any type of in-depth scholarly research he would have realized that the belief in the deity of Christ does not require the fact that Jesus acts on his own authority. Instead, the biblical teaching is that the three Persons of the Godhead do not act independently or on their own authority. Rather, the three Persons work in perfect harmony and unity, since they are one in all things. For them to work independently would imply that they were three separate beings as opposed to three distinct Persons inseparably united in one Being. Hence, these references serve to reinforce, rather than deny, the biblical witness to the tri-unity of God.
In fact, this is precisely the whole point of Jesus' discourse in John 5:19-23:
"Jesus said to them, `Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, THE SON DOES LIKEWISE. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, SO ALSO THE SON GIVES LIFE TO WHOMEVER HE WISHES. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, SO THAT ALL MAY HONOR THE SON JUST AS THEY HONOR THE FATHER. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him."
Jesus does nothing on his own, but everything that his Father does he can do. Much like his Father, Jesus is able to give eternal life, raise the dead and judge all men. In order for Jesus to be able to do all the works that his Father can do, he must be God since the Father does things that only God can do. This is precisely what Trinitarians believe, that Jesus works in perfect unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit since all three are equally God in nature, having the same infinite power to accomplish all that they purpose to do. (cf. John 16:13)
3. SAID THAT THE FATHER IS GREATER THAN HIM (Jn. 14:28).
Again, for one to be greater in position does not necessarily imply inferiority of essence since this would mean that the vice-president is inferior as a man to the president since the latter is greater than him. This would also mean that any one holding a greater office is essentially superior and hence bosses are better than their employees, husbands are better than their wives etc. The Father was greater by virtue of his exalted position since Jesus was on earth as a lowly and humble servant. The Father was greater in position, not in essence.
This is in fact the point Jesus was making in John 14:28:
"You heard me say to you, I am going away, and I am coming to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I."
Why would Jesus tell his disciples to rejoice in the fact that he was going back to heaven? Very simply because as long as Jesus remained on earth the Father would hold a higher position. Now in heaven Jesus sits at God's right hand , implying equality between them, and is given the name above all names in order that all may give him the same honor that they give to the Father. (cf. Mark 14:61-62; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 5:13-14)
Furthermore, a careful reading of the ENTIRE context of chapter 14 shows that Jesus claimed the very omni-attributes of God:
"And I WILL DO whatever you ask IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask ME for anything in my name, AND I WILL DO IT." John 14:13-14
Christ claims to have the ability to personally answer prayers directed to him in his name. For Christ to both hear and answer prayer he must be omniscient and omnipotent.
"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, AND I AM IN YOU. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:20-21
Christ says that he personally lives in all the disciples, something impossible if he was not omnipresent. Yet to be omnipresent is to be God since only God is present everywhere.
"Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him." John 14:23
Not only will the Father make his home with all believers, but so will Christ! This shows that Christ is co-equal to the Father since he is present with every believer in the same way that the Father is!
These passages conclusively prove that 'greater' here does not mean that Jesus is inferior to the Father in essence.
(Note- God is Spirit [cf. John 4:24] and does not literally have a right hand. Rather, right hand implies the most intimate position one can be at and affirms equality. For Jesus to sit on God's right hand implies that he is equal with God and holds the most intimate position anyone can hold with the Father [cf. John 1:18, 17:24])
4. WAS TEMPTED (Matt. 4:1-11): But God can not be tempted (James 1:13).
To say that God was tempted and for God to be inclined to act upon that temptation are two different things. James 1:13 is not denying the possibility of anyone trying to tempt God, but is rather affirming that there is absolutely nothing within the nature of God that would move him to act upon these external attempts of causing him to commit evil. The Holy Bible clearly indicates that many have tried to tempt God (cf. Exodus 17:2, 7; Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 6:16; Psalm 106:14; Acts 5:9; Hebrews 3:8-9). In a similar fashion, Jesus was tempted yet he was without sin since he was the God-man (cf. Hebrews 4:15; 7:26).
5. HE DENIED KNOWLEDGE OF THE UNSEEN (Mk. 13:32, Matt. 24:36).
6. WAS SUBJECT TO CHANGE (Lk. 2:21, 52): But God is Immutable.
Badawi's argument presupposes that Christians believe that Jesus was only God. Instead the Holy Bible teaches that Jesus was the God-man, and when he became man he had both a divine consciousness and will alongside a human one. Therefore, Jesus in his human consciousness grew in wisdom and knowledge and did not know all things. Yet in his divine nature and consciousness he was both immutable and omniscient:
"Now we know that you know all things and do not need to have anyone to question you; by this we believe that you are from God." John 16:30
The only being who needs no one to question or teach him is God:
"O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?'" Romans 11:33-34
Interestingly, Jesus claims to have the same incomprehensible knowledge of the Father as the Father has of Christ:
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Matthew 11:27
"He said to him the third time, Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, Do you love me? And he said to him, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." John 21:17
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
"And I (Jesus) will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and will give to each of you as your works deserve." Revelation 2:23 (cf. Jeremiah 17:10)
Hence, Jesus was both omniscient in relation to his divine nature, and ignorant of things in regard to his humanity.
7. DID NOT ACCEPT TO BE CALLED GOOD AND DEFERED TO GOD (Mk. 10:18).
Badawi reads too much into the text since Jesus never said he was not good, but questioned the man why he was calling Jesus good. Christ was trying to get the man to realize that to say Jesus was good meant he was God since only God is good. If the man really believed this he should be willing to give everything up for Christ, even his riches, following him wholeheartedly as he would God. When confronted with the reality of having to give up everything for Christ, the man turned away showing that he really did not believe at all what his words were implying. (cf. Mark 10:17-22)
Jesus elsewhere affirms that he is absolutely good. How good? Good enough to be called Shepherd, an O.T. epithet of Yahweh God:
"I am the GOOD SHEPHERD. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... I am the GOOD SHEPHERD..." John 10:11, 14 (cf. Psalm 23:1, 80:1)
8. PRAYED TO GOD (Mk. 14:32, Lk. 5:16).
Jesus prayed to God since he became man, and as man he did what all godly men are commanded to do. Jesus was also an example for us to follow, and his prayers served a two-fold purpose, namely, to remain in constant fellowship with the Father and to show us how we should pray (cf. 1 Peter 2:21).
9. REFERRED TO HIMSELF AS A PROPHET (Lk. 13:33-34). Others also called him a prophet. (Lk. 7:16, 24:19, Jn. 6:14, Heb. 3:1). Referred to as a servant of God (Acts 3:13, 4:27, 30, Matt. 12:18).
Badawi's point? Who has ever denied that Jesus is a Prophet like Moses (cf. Deut. 18:15-20; John 5:45-46, 6:14), a Priest like Melchizedek (cf. Psalm 110:4; Heb. 7:1-28), and a King like David (cf. Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32-33)? He was all this and much more.
10. MADE A DISTINCTION BETWEEN HIMSELF AND THE FATHER (Matt. 23:8-10).
Precisely, which Trinitarian said otherwise? The Father and the Son are not one in person, but one in nature; not the same person, but the same in essence.
11. Referred to himself frequently as SON OF MAN (eg. Matt. 8:20). In the book of Acts (2:22), he is described as "a man approved of God". While he is called Son of God nearly 68 times, not once was he called GOD THE SON. The difference between the Two expressions is like the difference between the Prophet Jesus of history and the CHRIST created in the image of the Church.
Badawi presumes that the title Son of Man is a title that carries no divine connotations. Yet Jesus as the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), forgives sins (Mark 2:1-12), judges all flesh (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:27), sits at God's right hand (Mark 14:62), shall be worshiped by all the nations and reigns forever (Daniel 7:13-14).
Badawi erroneously assumes that the title Son of God does not carry the same weight as saying God the Son. Yet, it is the Son who is the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of God's nature and glory, creator of all things, the one who upholds and sustains the entire creation (cf. Colossians 1:13-17; Hebrews 1:1-3).
Finally, scripture calls Jesus both the Son of God as well as God. For example, he is God with us (Matthew 1:23; cf. 28:20), The Word who was God (John 1:1), Thomas' Lord and God (John 20:28), the Great God and Savior of us (Titus 2:13), our God and Savior (2 Peter 1:1), the True God and eternal life (1 John 5:20), and the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets that sent his angel to testify to his servants (Revelation 22:6, 16). When we tie in all these references together we arrive at the fact that Jesus is indeed God the Son, since not only do the inspired Scriptures identify him as the unique Son who is personally distinct from both God the Father and the Holy Spirit, they also testify that he is fully God in nature.
Continue with Part III.
Further articles by Sam Shamoun
Further responses to Dr. Badawi
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