Recently I was engaged in a lengthy discussion via email with a Muslim man from the UK. He began the exchange by posting a comment to a video I had uploaded to YouTube. I won’t bore you with the initial conversation, but he was basically challenging me regarding the context of several violent verses in the Qur’an. He had no idea of my knowledge in this area, but when he realized I had some knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an and could back up what I said, his demeanor suddenly took a turn toward respect, rather than belittling me like he attempted in the beginning.

What I found interesting are the arguments he used to attempt to discredit Christianity. One of his first responses back to me was a whole laundry list of supposed errors or contradictions or inconsistencies in the Bible. It is these I want to focus on in this article. Since these are the same recycled arguments that have been around since the heydays of Ahmed Deedat, and Muslims still use these today, I hope you will find my answers to these helpful in fostering ongoing dialog with Muslims.

JESUS NEVER CLAIMED TO BE GOD

He began the dialog with the following statement:

If you want the truth, then pray to be guided to it. It is time to follow Jesus Christ peace be upon him and not the religion of Paul. Jesus told us to worship God not him.  Jesus never claimed to be God. Follow the religion of Adam Abraham, Noah, Jesus and Muhammed peace be upon them all. This religion is Islam.

I responded with the following:

My friend, please consider my response with sincerity. I have listened to most of the people you mention: Hamza Yusuf, Ahmed Deedat, Yusuf Estes, Zakir Naik. I have not found them to be convincing.

You say Christianity is the religion of Paul. This is a common misunderstanding. I hear Muslims frequently say that Jesus never claimed to be God, or that Jesus did not come to die on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, but these are inventions of Paul alone. Nothing is further from the truth.

JESUS NEVER CLAIMED TO BE GOD
This is not an invention of Paul. Jesus clearly claimed to be God. Let me address this for you.

THE SON OF MAN
Daniel 7:13-14 - "I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.

Whoever this Son of Man is, he has all the attributes of God: dominion over all people, an everlasting reign, etc.

Every time Jesus claimed the title "The Son of Man" he was claiming divinity. See Mark 14:62 for a direct reference by Jesus back to Daniel 7:13-14; also Matt. 8:20; 9:6; 12:8; 12:40; 16:13; 16:27, and many others

I AM
Exodus 3:13-15 - Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"

Ex. 3:14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' " 15 Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'

When Jesus claims the title of I AM, he is claiming the divine title God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3. The Jews of his day understood exactly what Jesus was claiming:

John 8:54 Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, "I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."

John 8:57 Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

John 8:59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. 30 I and My Father are one."

John 10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?"

John 10:33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."

I AM...
The Bread of Life - John 6:35
The Light of the World - John 8:12
The Door - John 10:9
The Good Shepherd - John 10:11
The Resurrection and the Life - John 11:25
The Way, The Truth, and The Life - John 14:6
The True Vine - John 15:1

Even to the Samaritan woman at the well, he identified himself as God:

John 4:25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."

John 4:26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."
Literally in the Greek, Jesus said "I AM, The One speaking to you."


THE POWER TO FORGIVE SIN
See Matt 9:6, Mark 2:10, Luke 5:21

Luke 5:20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."

Luke 5:21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Luke 5:22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, "Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk'? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"—He said to the man who was paralyzed, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."

Mark 2:7 "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Only God can forgive sin, yet Jesus himself claims to forgive sin. And he does not simply utter the words, he demonstrates he has authority to forgive sin by instantly healing the paralytic man.

I can say to you that I am a multi-millionaire but what reason do you have to believe me unless I can produce evidence? In the same way, Jesus perceived the thoughts of the Pharisees and understood that, to them, his words alone were meaningless and he had to produce evidence that he could forgive sin. That's why Jesus says, "Which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven or take up your bed and walk?' Jesus backed up his claim with authoritative action and evidence.


... BUT I SAY TO YOU...
Every Old Testament prophet preceded a prophecy from God by saying.... "Thus says The LORD. The word translated Lord is YHWH, the personal name for God that he tells Moses in Exodus 3:15 (5 Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.')

When Jesus speaks, he never says "Thus says The LORD." Why? He does not need to speak on behalf of God; He IS God! Every time he says 'But I say to you' he is speaking in the name of God but doing so in the first person singular as God himself!!

Matt. 5:18 For assuredly, I say to you
Matt. 5:20 For I say to you,
Matt. 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother
Matt. 5:28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her...
Matt. 5:32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality...
Matt. 5:34 But I say to you, do not swear at all

Matt. 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies,
Matt. 6:25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink

In all these ways, Jesus says "I am God," he just never uses the words that many Muslims want him to use.


JESUS CAME TO DIE ON A CROSS TO FORGIVE SIN
Again, this is not an invention of Paul.

When Jesus presented himself to John the Baptist (Prophet Yahya) to be baptized, John said, as recorded in John 1:29, "Behold the lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world." Paul was not the first to make this claim, it was made years before Paul. But let's go back even further, hundreds of years.

Prophet Isaiah said the following, recorded in Isaiah 53, verses 4-6:
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Literally hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, Prophet Isaiah predicted someone who would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and who will come to take the iniquity (sin) of all (Isaiah 53:6). Again, this is not an invention of Paul, but a prophecy spoken literally hundreds of years in advance which was fulfilled in Jesus.

There is only one way you can experience true peace and forgiveness, and it's not through Muhammad. Although Muhammad was a good man in many respects, he cannot forgive your sin. Only Jesus Christ can, if you submit yourself to him as Lord and savior.

His response:

1) From the quotes you gave me, none were clearly stating that Jesus Christ said I am God Or that he should be worshipped. In fact he says many times in the Bible son of man. Which he said many more times than son of God.


Lets look at this sentence son of God. In the Jewish language Good people or powerfull people were called gods. This was part of the language. In the Bible even Pharoah and the devil are called gods.
So what if Jesus called himself son of god. We are all the children of God.

2) What are the characteristics of God.
immortal/ does not sleep/is not born etc.

It is clear that Jesus was created by God and 2000 years ago Mary the mother of Jesus gave birth to him.No created thing can be God. It goes against the Characteristics of God.

3) Jesus according to the Christians died. How can God die. If God dies who controls the universe.

4) When Jesus died. Did he die as a man or as God, because if he died as a man, then no man can wash away the sins of humanity. If you say he died as God then please explain how can immortal, absolute all powerfull, allmighty God die.

5) You may argue that this is possible ,Because God can do everything. We say that God has power over everything, but dont say anything as ridicules as God can do everything.
Here are some of the things that God can not do.
God cannot throw you out of his Dominion .
God cannot lie.
God cannot be unjust.
God cannot be created.
God cannot be killed.

God can do anything that makes sense.

I responded to these objections one at a time:

You responded with a lot of questions and objections. Rather than answer them all in one response, I am going to take each of your questions and answer them one at a time in separate notes. Since I don't want to over-burden you, I will try to answer one question per day until I have answered all the questions you asked.

You said:
From the quotes you gave me, none were clearly stating that Jesus Christ said I am God Or that he should be worshipped. In fact he says many times in the Bible son of man. Which he said many more times than son of God.
Lets look at this sentence son of God. In the Jewish language Good people or powerfull people were called gods. This was part of the language. In the Bible even Pharoah and the devil are called gods.

So what if Jesus called himself son of god. We are all the children of God.


1. You missed one of the main points I made. Why should Jesus have said "I am God" when words are cheap. Anyone can claim to be anything they want. I can claim to be a millionaire but you have no reason to believe me until I can prove it. Actions speak louder than words, and by His actions Jesus demonstrated he was God more powerfully than any words could have. That is why he challenged the Pharisees by asking them "Which is easier to say: 'Your sins are forgiven, or rise, take up your bed and walk?' His words would have meant nothing, but his actions spoke volumes more than words ever could have.

2. Son of Man: Yes, Jesus claimed to be The Son of Man more than any other title, but this also is a title for God himself. So when Jesus claimed to be The Son of Man he was calling himself God. How do we know? The title "The Son of Man" comes from a prophecy by Daniel in the Bible in Daniel 7:13-14 which reads:

 
13 "I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.

Whoever this person is called The Son of Man has authority over all people, nations, and languages, and his dominion is forever. Who else can this be but God alone? Yet Jesus claims this same title for himself, more than any other. When he referred to himself as The Son of Man, he was essentially calling himself God!

3. Son of God: Yes, other people are referred to as gods (little 'g') in other scripture. This is why Jesus challenged the Pharisees in John 10 where John tells us:

John 10:31   Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?"

John 10:33   The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."

John 10:34   Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, "I said, 'You are gods" '? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, "You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him." 39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.

The Jews understood clearly what Jesus was claiming to be: God! That's why they attempted to stone him. But look what else Jesus says: In verses 34-36 he says essentially "if lesser people are called gods, why do you find it hard to believe that I am God when I prove to be so by the works that I do?"

My friend, you may not like the fact the Jesus claimed to be God unequivocally, but that is exactly what he claimed for himself, and what the Jewish leaders of his time also understood him to claim.

You said:
2) What are the characteristics of God.
immortal/ does not sleep/is not born etc.


It is clear that Jesus was created by God and 2000 years ago Mary the mother of Jesus gave birth to him.No created thing can be God. It goes against the Characteristics of God.


Answer:
You have an incorrect understanding of what is called in Christianity the 'incarnation.' But there are lots of things about Christianity that the Qur'an has wrong, which is why I reject it as a book from God. An all knowing God would not have been ignorant of what Christians believe. Yet the author of the Qur'an seems to be ignorant of these things. Why?

Yes, no created thing can become God. Christians do not believe Jesus became God. We believe he has always BEEN GOD, and with him from the beginning:

John 17:5 - And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

John 1:1-3 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

No man can become God (this is what Mormonism teaches). But God can become a man if He so chooses. Why do you limit God's ability to do what He wants? Who are you to tell God he cannot become a man? He created us, He certainly can take on our form any time if He wants to do so. Impossible? It seems to me you are the irrational one here in suggesting God cannot make Himself known in whatever way he deems best. What gives you the authority to tell God what He can and cannot do?


Now, what about these errors in the Qur'an?

Why does the author of the Qur'an seem to believe Christians worship Mary as part of the trinity? (Sura 5:73-75, 116) No Christian has ever held Mary to be divine, not even some of the Catholic doctrines (with which I disagree, but not to digress...). Moreover, the doctrine of the trinity was explicitly defined at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, 300 years before Muhammad's time, so even Muhammad himself should have been aware of this, to say nothing of an all-knowing God. So where did this error in the Qur'an originate?

There was in Arabia in the fourth century a sect of fanatical women called Collyridians who rendered divine worship to Mary. It is likely Muhammad picked up his idea from this group, a heretical sect, and attributed it to Christianity in general because he did not know the difference and was ignorant of orthodox Christian doctrine. If so, this suggests that the Qur'an is nothing more than a document written by a fallible human.

And why does the Qur'an suggest that Christians believe God had sex with Mary and produced an offspring of this physical union in Jesus? (Sura 6:101; Sura 72:3; Sura 112) Again, this has never been the way the term "Son of God" has been understood or defined by Christians, yet this is what the Qur'an implies. So again how can an all-knowing author of the Qur'an make such a simple mistake? An all knowing God would not have, which again suggests the Qur'an is nothing more than one fallible man's book. Yet sadly, hundreds of millions of people are basing their hope of an eternal destination on the writing of a fallible man. How is this logical?

Next, you said:

3) Jesus according to the Christians died. How can God die. If God dies who controls the universe.

I find it hard to believe Muslims still use this argument. I was completely surprised several months back when I had a four hour toe-to-toe passionate discussion with one of the most prominent Muslim figures in the US: Muzammil Siddiqi, Imam of the Islamic Society of Orange County, head of the Fiqh Council of North America, and past leader or board member of several prominent Islamic organizations.

He led off our discussion with the same argument! I will answer you the same way I answered him.

The question itself is flawed for two reasons:


1) Implicit in the question is the assumption that God can die. As you have already stated, and with which I agree, it is incorrect to say God can do anything. God cannot act outside the attributes by which He is defined, and since be definition God is eternal, it is therefore impossible to suggest that God can die.

2) The question also assumes that physical death means cessation of existence, something that neither Muslims nor Christians believe to be true. When the physical body of Jesus was dead for three days, Jesus did not cease to exist. The same can be said of you and I; when this physical carcass dies, it does not mean we cease to exist; our soul and spirit exists eternally.

Even the Qur'an supports this notion. Sura 3:169-171 says, "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord. They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them, they glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they cause to grieve."

How can those who are killed in battle as martyrs be living in the presence of Allah, enjoying his bounties and rejoicing for others who have not yet joined them, if indeed as you assert, physical death means cessation of existence?

The spirit of Jesus was still fully functioning as God, even while his body lay dead. No mystery.

4) When Jesus died. Did he die as a man or as God, because if he died as a man, then no man can wash away the sins of humanity. If you say he died as God then please explain how can immortal, absolute all powerfull, allmighty God die.

Explain what you mean by "if he died as a man, then no man can wash away the sins of humanity." The first has nothing to do with the second. It does not follow that if Jesus died as a man, therefore no man can die for the sins of humanity. The statement is incoherent and illogical.

As for the rest of your statement, see my earlier reply.

You also said:

5) You may argue that this is possible ,Because God can do everything. We say that God has power over everything, but dont say anything as ridicules as God can do everything.
Here are some of the things that God can not do.
God cannot throw you out of his Dominion .
God cannot lie.
God cannot be unjust.
God cannot be created.
God cannot be killed.

God can do anything that makes sense.

Yes, I agree that God cannot do everything. I've already explained my position. God cannot sin, God cannot create a square circle. So what? What has that to do with God becoming a man if He so chooses? Such an action does not rise to the level of your examples of what God cannot do. Certainly if God wanted to become a man, he could. It is not an impossibility. I understand Muslim belief that God is so transcendant and beyond human understanding that He would never lower Himself to take on the form of a human. But where does God say that? Why do Muslims find delight in telling God what He can and cannot do?


 

This was the end of our discussion on the deity of Christ, but I had other objections to answer. I will post those in separate articles.

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