Sam Shamoun Examines Meherally's: Examining the Famous Quote:
"My Father and Your Father,
My God and Your God"
Biblical and Quranic Perspectives
Sam Shamoun Examines Meherally's:
Examining the Famous Quote:
"My Father and Your Father,
My God and Your God"
In the Gospel according to John, there is an important narration that tells us that when the grief stricken Mary Magdalene was standing outside of the empty tomb of her Teacher (Rabboni) Christ Jesus, she surprisingly heard her beloved Jesus calling her by her name. The bewildered Mary turned around and in her excitement clanged to her Teacher. Thereupon, Jesus cautioned Mary and said to her as under:
Stop clinging to me; for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren (disciples), and say to them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.' (John 20: 17).
Let us examine the above recorded crucial statement which is in the red print, from the Biblical as well as from the Qur'anic perspectives.
THE BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES
"My Father and your Father"
This phrase spoken by Jesus and recorded in the Bible clearly substantiates as well as establishes the fact that the term "Father" used by Jesus in the above statement was anything but to justify him proclaiming an exclusive relationship with the Heavenly Father. In other words, this unequivocally recorded verbatim authenticates that the relationship of Jesus with "his Father" was no different from the relationship of his disciples with the same entity as "their Father". It was not a specifically designated exclusive or unique relationship.
Apparently Meherally is quite selective in his citations. The entire purpose of the Gospel of John is to emphasize both Jesusí divinity as well as his unique relationship with the Father:
"He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not." John 1:10
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." John 1:14
"No one has ever seen God. Yet God the One and Only, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." John 1:18
The Evangelist clearly illustrates that whereas the disciples' sonship was something derived through faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the Agent of Creation and the only perfect Revelation of God to man.
In fact, the only way one can enter into a relationship with God as a loving Father is to embrace Jesus Christ as the divine unique Son of God:
Finally, Jesus does not say, "I am ascending to OUR Father and OUR God." Instead, Christ clearly makes a distinction between his relationship and the disciples' relationship with the Father. It should also be pointed out that at the Incarnation the Father and the Son entered into a new relationship. At the Incarnation, Christ became a servant of the Father. As such, the Father became Jesus' God. The Father was not always Jesus' God, but became such when the eternal Word became flesh. Christ did this in order that we might become what he already was and continues to be, namely sons of the Most High.
The innovated conception of Jesus being the "begotten" son of the Father was developed in the fourth century. It was injected by Jerome into the Latin Bible to refute the claims made by Bishop Arius (d.336) and his associates that Father alone was really God and Jesus was made (created) and not begotten. (For more details please read Anchor Bible - Vol.29, The Gospel according to John (i), published by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y, p. 13-14). Apostle John had recorded that Jesus was "of a single kind" (Unique). The reason being Jesus was born to a Virgin. The Qur'an upholds that concept and reveals in 3:47 that the conception of Jesus was by the Allah's Command (a Spoken Word).
Akbarally commits several errors here. He first assumes that the term "begotten" was a fourth century innovation to refute Arianism. In reality, the term "begotten" was applied to the Son by the early Church Fathers way before Arius had ever come into the picture. The following quotations are taken from David W. Bercot's A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs [Hendrickson Publishers; Peabody, Massachusetts, 1998], pp. 101-103:
Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word, His First-Begotten, and His Power. Justyn Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.170.
God, then, having His own Word internal within His own bowels, begat Him, emitting Him along with His own Wisdom before all things. Theophilus (c. 180, E), 2.98.
The Son reveals the Father, who begat the Son. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.469.
As He was born of Mary in the last days, so did He also proceed from God as the First-Begotten of every creature. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.576.
The perfect Word born of the Father was begotten in perfection. Clement of Alexandria (c. 185, E), 2.215.
The Father begat the Word as the Author, Fellow-Counselor, and Framer of the things that have been created. He uttered the first Voice, begetting Him as Light of Light. And He sent Him forth to the world as its Lord. Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.227.
No one can worthily know the One without genealogy, the First-Born of all created nature, who is like the Father who begat Him. Nor can anyone know the Father as does the living Word, His Wisdom, and Truth. Origen (c. 248, E), 4.581.
Second, instead of allowing John to define what the phrase "of a single kind" means in reference to Jesus, Akbarally imposes his Islamic presuppositions into the meaning of the phrase. To the Evangelist, Jesus' Sonship is unique since he alone has eternally co-existed along with the Father as the object of the Father's love:
Due to his unique Sonship Christ alone knows the Father eternally and intimately, having been the only one to see God's essential form, and being the only person who can accurately reveal the Father to man:
Everyone else must come to know the Son and embrace him as Savior and Lord if they are to know the Father at all:
"My God and your God"
The above phrase spoken by Jesus and recorded in the Bible clearly substantiates and establishes the fact that Jesus also **had** a "God" and that "God of Jesus" was no other than the "God of his Disciples". Bible records that Jesus often fell on his face and prayed to "his God". It is fundamentally incorrect as well as illogical to propagate or believe that the entity which prays and the entity that responds to such prayers are One or they both are co-equal in Authority, Capability and Power.
Akbarally seemingly attacks a straw man since no informed Christian denies that Jesus has a God over him or that his God is not the same "God of his disciples." Rather, we believe that the Father became and continues to be Jesus' God since Christ became and continues to be man. Christ did not always have a God over him since he was not always man.
Secondly, the God whom the disciples worshiped was not just the Father. The disciples worshiped the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Hence, the disciples' God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Sprit.
Thirdly, Jesus did in fact fall on his face in prayer to his God and Father since this is what we would expect him to do if he were indeed the perfect man. Jesus is man as God intended man to be. As such, he lived as God intended man to live, in perfect submission and obedience to God's will:
"And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him." John 8:29
Yet, Jesus also demanded that we give him the same honor that we give to the Father:
This honor entails that we pray to Jesus and worship him as God:
Fourthly, Meherally implicitly exposes either his ignorance of Trinitarianism or his deliberate misrepresentation of the doctrine. Notice what he claims:
Presumably, by entity Meherally means person and therefore implies that Christians believe that the Father and the Son are one entity or person. That this is what Meherally intends to convey to his readers is evident by his claim that the entity which is praying cannot be the same entity that responds to such prayers. Yet, Trinitarians DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE FATHER AND THE SON ARE ONE PERSON. Rather, we believe they are distinct persons who are one in nature and essence.
Finally, Meherally commits a categorically fallacy since he assumes that Jesus cannot be co-equal with the Father in authority, capability and power since Christ prayed to the Father. Meherally fails to realize that Jesus took the form of a servant when becoming man. As such, Christ completely and willfully subjected himself to his Father's will throughout his earthly ministry. Instead of Christ using his own divine attributes to assist him while on earth, Christ completely submitted his fate into his Father's trust. Christ allowed himself to become totally dependent upon the Father in carrying him through all his earthly trials and tribulations:
"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him," Hebrews 5:7-9
THE QURANIC PERSPECTIVES
"My Father and your Father"
A question often asked by the readers of the Qur'an.
Ques: Since Allah has no "Son", could Jesus - the righteous prophet of Allah, have ever addressed "God" as "Father" or as "my Father"?
Answer: Since it is recorded in the four Gospels there is a likely hood of Jesus (prophet Isa a. s.), having addressed "God" as "my Father".
We are glad to see that Meherally at least accepts this much from the Gospels. Yet, we fail to see how he is able to resolve this fact with the Islamic denial that God can enter into a relationship with someone as Father, specifically in the sense understood and defined by Jesus and his followers in the NT?
Furthermore, if Meherally accepts that the historical Jesus did in fact address God as his Father, why does the Quran not state this? Why does the Quran shy away of asserting Jesus' unique relationship with God as his Father if, as Meherally tries to argue, the term was simply a metaphorical expression denoting the spiritual relationship between two parties? Why does the Quran presume that the terms "Father" and "Son" when used in relation to God implies a sexual act where God must have had a wife in order to have a son?:
Why does the Quran curse Jews and Christians for believing that Ezra and Jesus are God's sons?:
It will not do to say that the Quran is attacking the sense in which the Jews and Christians used the term "son" since this leaves more problems. First, if the Quran were simply attacking the Judeo-Christian understanding of Sonship when applied to Jesus and Ezra, then why not state this as opposed to attacking the concept altogether? Why not define that Sonship in a metaphorical sense denoting spiritual relationships is okay, but the sense in which the Jews and Christians understand the term is not?
Second, the sense in which Ezra is said to be the Son of God by the Jews is obviously metaphorical. The Jews clearly believe that God is a spiritual Being who enters into a relationship with his covenant people as a loving Father. The Jews would never have imagined that to say Ezra is God's Son meant that God had sex with a consort in order to have a child. Hence, the Quran will not even allow for God to enter into this type of spiritual relationship with believers or messengers.
This means that Meherally's explanation below will not work in light of the plain teaching of the Quran that God has neither a spiritual or "physical" son. In fact to claim that he does is to incur his wrath upon oneself.
(NOTE: The Quranic teaching that the Jews believed that Ezra is God's Son is clearly false. Please read this article for the documentation on why this is clearly a gross historical mistake.)
However, Jesus did not ever claim he was the "begotten" son of God as indicated earlier under the Biblical perspectives. In the Semitic term the word "Son" was usually used as a *metaphorical term* to show the *spiritual relationship* between the parties. In the Old Testament, prophet Moses addresses Israelis; "You are the sons of your Lord God" (Deut. 14:1). In the New Testament Adam is called "son of God" by Luke (3:38). None of these texts implied that there was physical relationship between the parties. Upon closer examination of the seven verses of the Qur'an quoted below, one notices that it is the "begetting of the son" which is vehemently negated by Allah within these verses. Nowhere it is recorded in the Bible that Jesus had ever claimed being the begotten son of God, whom he called the Heavenly Father of all.
Sadly, Meherally equivocates on the term "Son" and assumes that it carries the same meaning all the time. The term means different things in different contexts, specifically when it is applied to different individuals. When applied to Jesus, the phrase implies that Christ is equal with God the Father in nature, distinct from him in person, subordinate to him in position. Compare the way Jesus refers to himself as God's Son:
All things, according to Jesus, had been delivered to him and no one could know the Father unless the Son actually revealed him. Notice also the following passage:
If we are all children of God why did Jesus say that all men must give him the same honor as they give to the Father?
In the following parable, Christ clearly makes a distinction between the prophets whom God had sent and himself:
The prophets are the servants God sent to the nation of Israel to give God what they had owed him for all his gracious favors upon them. Yet Christ claims to be God's beloved Son and the Heir of the things belonging to God. God himself personally affirms that Christ is his beloved Son:
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17
"Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!'" Mark 9:7
The NT clearly teaches that Jesus is God's preexistent Son that had been sent into the world:
"For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him." John 3:17
"But when the time had fully come God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might attain adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4
In light of these factors, Jesus is God's Son in a unique sense.
Second, Meherally attacks another straw man. Notice what he says:
Seeing that Bible believing Christians who affirm the historic Christian faith do not believe that Jesus is God's physical Son, or that God is Jesus' Father in a physical sense we are left wondering who is Meherally actually addressing? Certainly not us. This implies that either Meherally does not know what we believe or deliberately misrepresents our belief, giving his Muslim readers a false and misleading impression on the actual belief of Christians.
Third, Meherally misrepresents Jesus' teaching since Christ NEVER taught that God is the heavenly Father of all. This is in fact what the historical Jesus taught:
Finally, Jesus did in fact claim to be monogenes huios, i.e. God's "unique," "one and only", "the only one of its kind," "of sole descent," or "only-begotten" Son.
Translations of Qur'anic Verses by Abdullah Yusuf Ali:
Say: "Praise be to Allah Who begets no son and has no partner in (His) dominion: nor (needs) He any to protect Him from humiliation: Yea magnify Him for His greatness and glory!" 17: 111
Further that He may warn those (also) who say "Allah hath begotten a son": 18: 4
It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter He only says to it "Be" and it is. 19: 35
They say: "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!" Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! 19: 88/89
For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. 19: 92
No son did Allah beget nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods) behold each god would have taken away what he had created and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him! 23: 91
He begetteth not nor is He begotten; 112: 3
Interestingly, Meherally did not include S. 6:100-101 and 9:30 in the above list. Meherally is seemingly aware that these passages would serve to debunk his entire point that the metaphorical understanding of Sonship is something acceptable in Islam, allowing him to argue the fact that the historical Jesus did address God as his Father. Yet the Quran rejects the idea of God having a son in either a spiritual or "physical" sense.
"My God and your God"
The following three verses from the Qur'an gives the clear picture that Jesus (Isa a.s.), did preach the worshiping of one and only God:
And behold! Allah will say "O Jesus the son of Mary! didst thou say unto men 'worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah"? He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden. 5: 116
"Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say to wit 'Worship Allah my Lord and your Lord'; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up thou wast the Watcher over them and Thou art a Witness to all things. 5: 117
"If Thou dost punish them they are Thy servants: if Thou dost forgive them Thou art the Exalted the Wise. 5: 118
If this is the clear picture that Meherally alludes to then he is in deep trouble. Historic Christianity has never taught as part of its doctrine that Jesus and Mary WERE TWO GODS APART FROM THE ONE TRUE GOD. This means that not only has Meherally attacked a straw man throughout his article, but the Quran also attacks a straw man since it falsely accuses Bible-embracing Christians of believing in something that they have never believed.
Hence, in order to get the true picture on Jesus Meherally needs to ask us and read our holy Book carefully and clearly, something that the Quran itself commands him to do when in doubt about the truth:
QUESTION FOR MR. MEHERALLY
Seeing that you have acknowledged that the historical Jesus claimed that he was God's unique Son and that Christ also claimed that God related to him in a special way as Father, how do you reconcile this with the following Quranic passages?
And they say: "The Most Gracious has taken a son!" Glory to Him! They are (but) SERVANTS raised to honor. S. 21:26
You have ended up denying the message of the Quran, which categorically denies any possibility of God having a son. By so doing you have now become a rejecter (kafir) of the faith of Allah as well as an associator (mushrik), deserving of the curse of Allah in light of the followng verses:
The Jews call Ŕzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's CURSE be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (Arabic- yushrikun) (with Him). S. 9:30-31
Further, that He may warn those (also) who say, "Allah hath begotten a son": No knowledge have they of such a thing, nor had their fathers. It is a GRIEVOUS THING that issues from their mouths as a saying what they say is nothing but FALSEHOOD! S. 18:4-5
Furthermore, seeing that you claim that Jesus is God's Son, why are you not worshiping Jesus since this is what Muhammad said he would do if indeed it could be proven that God had a Son?
In the service of our God's Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. We love you always.
Responses to Akbarally Meherally
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