Thursday, 8 December 2011

Some Thoughts on the 'Proofs' of the Alleged Divinity of Jesus


Based on a lecture by
Dr. Gary Miller

One of the crucial issues
which separates Islam and Christianity is their beliefs concerning
the nature of Jesus - peace be upon him. The majority of Christians
believe that Jesus is "Divine", i.e. they believe him to be God
incarnate. Muslims, on the other hand, beleive that Jesus was only
a great Prophet of God and a faultless human being.

Approach to a Muslim--Christian

The doctrine of the Trinity
says that the three distinct co-equals are altogether God -- or
that God is made up of three co-equal "persons". In particular,
Jesus is said to be "God the Son", or the "Son of God". In a Muslim-Christian
dialogue, inevitably the Muslim will question the details regarding
this theology. The Christian, on the other hand, will usually form
a common explanation by complaining that Muslims simply do not understand
the Trinity, and that what the Muslim accuses the Christians of
is one thing which Christians don't really believe. In short Muslims
do not understand how the Christians understood the Trinity. The
Muslim seeks to find clarifications of the teachings of this doctrine
by asking for explanations as to how that would be so, because the
term Son of God cannot have a literal interpretation: Sonship and
divine nature would be two attributes which are incomparable, because
sonship describes someone who receives life while divine nature
describes someone who receives life from no one. To be a son is
to be less than divine and to be divine is to be no one's son. Eventually
the Christians would seek refuge in the response of "these are things
which we cannot understand."

Verification and Understanding

Christians seem to be
confusing two concepts -- the concept of verification and the concept
of understanding. This can be illustrated in the example of hydrogen
combining with oxygen to make water. We can verify this statement
in a laboratory to see whether this statement is a statement of
fact. But after verification, that does not mean what we have understood
the nature of atoms. Verification and understanding are two different
concepts. Thus, what Muslims should do is to re-direct the discussions
because the first issue is more basic than simply resolving all
the difficult points of Trinitarian doctrines. It is not
the explanation of how to understand the concept of the Trinitarian
doctrine that we seek, but rather, to seek verifications of their
belief, that is, why in the first place must we believe that
Jesus is divine (not how but why).

The Trinity -- A Church

If Muslims pursue this
approach, ultimately many Christians will usually say that "the
Church says so", that is, it is the Church's doctrine. Thus many
Christians' arguments stop short of questioning the Church's authority.
They will not challenge it to find out the basis for their claim
or their teaching. Although many Christians in fact concede that
this is the case on the subject of Trinitarian doctrine, there are
also others who insist that Jesus did talk about the Trinity himself.

"Let them produce proof"

We have been told in the
Qur'an to tell the Christians "Let them produce proof". Thus we
demand them to provide documentation that Jesus himself claimed
unqualified divinity for himself, and that he said in so many words:
"I am God". The Muslims are advised by another Qur'anic verse to
tell the Christians: "Say: O people of the Book you have no ground
to stand upon unless you stand fast by the Law, the Gospel and all
the Revelation that has come to you from your Lord." This demand
is reasonable, for Muslims are also told in another verse that Jesus
never claimed to be God. Therefore if the Christians were to look
into their own scripture they would not be able to find any saying
of Jesus, that should him clearly claiming to be equal with God.

Explicit and implicit

From the Biblical record,
the sayings accredited to Jesus are very small because after allowing
for duplications in the Four Gospels' account of his -life, these
sayings could be reprinted in two columns of a typical newspaper.
And none of these texts is a clear claim to divinity, because nowhere
does he explicitly claim to be God. All the quotations are implicit.
The difference is, an explicit statement is one which requires no
explanation. The meaning is right on the surface of the word. For
example, when your gas gauge in your car shows empty, you do not
need to ask your passenger to interpret it for you. it is very clear.
An implicit statement is a statement where the meaning is carried
just beneath the surface of the word. It requires some thought before
we determine what was meant by the words. And all quotations that
are cited by Christians in order to put in the mouth of Jesus the
claim of deity are implicit -- which means interpretation is required.
Thus what happens is, when we are told what Jesus said, we are then
told what he meant. In other words, they interpret the meaning for

Christians' claim

The Christians' claim
of Jesus to be God through his Virgin birth (The Immaculate Conception)
is cited as one case of insufficient evidence. But, the Bible also
tells us about the Creation of Adam -- i.e. without father or mother;
and the account of the miracle associated with the prophet Elisha.
Also, the case of Melchizekdek can be cited: "without father or
mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of
life, but resembling the Son of God" - Hebrews 7:3. For these
men, no Christian will say he was divine. Yet each has the qualifications
in common with Jesus. Another claim is that Jesus was God because
the Hebrew Scripture predicted his coming before he was born. Yet
the Christians seem to betray a selective or forgetful recall of
the Scriptures because in places where they predict the coming of
John the Baptist they quote prophecies from the Book of Malachi.

Son of Man, Son of God,
Messiah, Savior

Another argument of Christians
that Jesus claimed to be God is that Jesus constantly used the terms,
"Son of God", "Son of Man" and "Messiah" and "Savior". Since he
uses these terms, they argued, therefore he was claiming to be God.
These terms were also applied to other individuals as well, in the
Bible. For example, Ezekiel was addressed as "Son of Man". Jesus
himself speaks of the peace makers as "sons of God". It is interesting
to note that even though Jesus is called the "Son of God" in the
Bible, he is never called "God the Son", which is what the Christians
have made him into due to their Trinitarian theology. Even Cyrus
the Persian is called "Messiah", or "the anointed", in Isaiah Chapter
45. This verse has been translated in a misleading way. The meaning
of the Hebrew word "Messiah" is "God's anointed". Here, when it
refers to Cyrus, they translated the Hebrew word "Messiah" with
"God's anointed". But in places where- the Bible is talking about
Jesus, when the term "Messiah" appears, instead of translating it
as "anointed", they simply transliterate it (i.e. they write the
Hebrew words with the Roman Alphabet without translating it) so
that it reads "Messiah". Interestingly this word "Messiah" is in
the Greek equivalent written as "Christ". Thus there seems to be
a conspiracy to give us the impression that there is only one Messiah,
one Christ and no other. As for the term "Savior", the word is clearly
applied to other individuals besides Jesus, for example the Book
of II Kings, Chapter 13, Verse 5, says: "And the Lord gave Israel
a Savior, so they went out from under the hand of the Syrians; and
the children of Israel dwelt in their tents as beforetime."

"I and My Father are

In John, Chapter 10, Verse 30, Jesus
is quoted as saying "I and my Father are one". Some Christian scholars
have insisted that the only probable understanding of these Words
are: as one in essence or nature. Yet there are several examples
where the same Greek words were used but not understood in the same
way. For example, John 17:11 says: "And now I am no more in the
world but these are in the world and I come to thee. Holy Father
keep through their own name, those who thou hast given me that they
may be one, as we are."

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