Gross Misunderstanding of Jesus and the Father existing as two Separate Beings
Before proceeding with our response, we first need to define the term "Being" as understood and used by informed Trinitarians in explaining the reality and existence of God. We also need to clarify the difference in meaning between "Being" and "Person" within Trinitarian theology. Dr. James R. White explains the difference between the two terms:
It is necessary here to distinguish between the terms "being" and "person." It would be a contradiction, obviously, to say that there are three beings within one being, or three persons within one person. So what is the difference? We clearly recognize the difference between being and person every day. We recognize what something is, yet we also recognize individuals within a classification. For example, we speak of the "being" of man---human being. A rock has "being"---the being of a rock, as does a cat, a dog, etc. Yet, we also know that there are personal attributes as well. That is, we recognize both "what" and "who" when we talk about a person.
The Bible tells us there are three classifications of personal beings---God, man, and angels. What is personality? The ability to have emotion, will, to express oneself. Rocks cannot speak. Cats cannot think of themselves over against others, and, say, work for the common good of "cat kind." Hence, we are saying that there is one eternal, infinite being of God, shared fully and completely by three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. One what, three who's. (Source: http://aomin.org/trinitydef.html; bold emphasis ours)
Trinitarians also use the term "Person" to refer to conscious agents that are aware of their own personal existence and/or are aware of the existence of other entities that may or may not be personal. The Holy Bible teaches that there are three conscious agents within the one Being of God. These three conscious agents are fully aware of their own personal existence as well as the existence of the other members within the Godhead. Because of this realization, the three Persons are able to have intimate communion and fellowship amongst themselves. By using the term "Person" Trinitarians do not mean that there are three material entities that occupy space or exist within time.
Seeing that this is how informed Trinitarians use and define the terms "Being" and "Person", we find Shabir misrepresenting our position right from the very start. Shabir commits the fallacy of false dilemma by asserting that two separate Beings cannot be one, something that informed Trinitarians have never taught nor believed. This leads Shabir to attack a straw man since instead of dealing with what informed Trinitarians actually believe, he decides to misrepresent the Trinitarian position. He then proceeds to refute his own misrepresentation.
In so doing Shabir believes that he is actually refuting the doctrine of the Trinity.
Shabir also commits the fallacy of equivocation. Shabir equivocates on the meaning of terms, such as presuming that "Being" carries the same meaning as "Person" especially in Trinitarian thought. Yet the terms do not carry the same meaning in Trinitarian theology.
Shabir is further guilty of reading back into the text of Scripture his own modern Islamic understanding of the definition and meaning of words. In so doing he ends up making a chronological fallacy.
After highlighting the categories of Shabir's fallacies we now proceed with our detailed response.
Shabir: Many people use certain verses of the Bible as proof that Jesus is God. However, all of these verses, when understood in context, prove the opposite!
We will see that when the verses are read in context, it only serves to completely discredit Shabir's assertions.
For example, in Matthew ch. 9, v. 2, Jesus said to a certain man, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." Because of this, some say that Jesus must be God since only God can forgive sins. However, if you are willing to read just a few verses further, you will find that the people "praised God, who had given such authority to men" (Matthew 9:8). This shows that the people knew, and Matthew agrees, that Jesus is not the only man to receive such authority from God. Jesus himself emphasized that he does not speak on his own authority (John 14:10) and he does nothing on his own authority, but he speaks only what the Father has taught him (John 8:28). What Jesus did here was as follows. Jesus announced to the man the knowledge Jesus received from God that God had forgiven the man. Notice that Jesus did not say, "I forgive your sins," but rather, "Your sins are forgiven," implying, as this would to his Jewish listeners, that God had forgiven the man. Jesus, then, did not have the power to forgive sins, and in that very episode he called himself "the Son of Man" (Matthew 9:6).
Shabir's response here serves to demonstrate his inconsistent methodology. Shabir appeals to the response of the people to prove his point that Jesus was not God. Yet Shabir fails to realize that this method can be effectively used to prove that Jesus is God:
"After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.' 'Lord, if it's you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?' And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'" Matthew 14:23-33
(Note: Matthew was also in the boat during this episode, which implies that he too worshiped Jesus as the Son of God.)
"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.' Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ." Matthew 16:13-20
"But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?' 'I am,' said Jesus. 'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.' The high priest tore his clothes. 'Why do we need any more witnesses?' he asked. 'You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?' They all condemned him as worthy of death." Mark 14:61-64
"Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.' For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.'" John 5:17-18
"'For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.' At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven. They said, 'Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I came down from heaven"?' John 6:38-42
"'Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.' 'You are not yet fifty years old,' the Jews said to him, 'and you have seen Abraham!' 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!' At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds." John 8:56-59
"'I and the Father are one.' Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?' 'We are not stoning you for any of these,' replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, CLAIM TO BE GOD." John 10:30-33
"The Jews insisted, 'We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because HE CLAIMED to be the Son of God.'" John 19:7
"Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:28-31
Would Shabir agree with the assessment and reaction of both the disciples and the religious authorities regarding Jesus' words and deeds? Or would he argue that these individuals actually misunderstood him? Seeing that Shabir has already concluded that Jesus cannot be God implies that he would opt for the latter. If so, then what makes Shabir feel that the crowd's assessment of Jesus in Matthew 9 is more correct than that of the disciples and the religious authorities?
It obviously has nothing to do with the context of Matthew. It can only be due to Shabir's Islamic presuppositions that are imposed into his reading of the Holy Scriptures. Sadly, it is these very presuppositions that hinder Shabir from seeing the clear and explicit evidence supporting Jesus' Deity.
Furthermore, Shabir doesn't quote the text for his readers to see the reaction of the religious teachers:
"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.' At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, 'This fellow is blaspheming!'" Matthew 9:1-3
Glenn Miller lists the reasons leading to a charge of blasphemy:
The issue of "blasphemy." Jesus was frequently accused of blasphemy (cf. Mark 2.7; Jn 5.19; 10.33; Mt 9.3;) and is said to have been condemned by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy in Mark 14.63-64 and Mat 26:65-66 (softened by Luke in 22.71). There is some question as to how 'loose' a definition of 'blasphemy' was operative at the time. If it literally meant 'claiming to be God', then the charge of blasphemy at the trial stands as evidence for Jesus' self-understanding as being God. If it means, on the other hand, something like 'disgracing God', then it is much weaker evidence (at best). What do we have for data here?
There are numerous discussions in the early Jewish literature (e.g. Philo, Rabbinix, Josephus, Qumran, NT) that indicate the range of meanings. The Jewish scholar Vermes points out that the 'tightest' version occurs in the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 7.5) in which the divine Name (e.g. "YHWH") must be used for blasphemy to occur (JJ:25-36), and other scholars note that Jesus seems to have ACTUALLY used the "I am" in this sense in a number of situations (Jn 5:24,28,58-59; Mr 14.62?) [NIDNTT:3:343--sv. "revile"]. Merely claiming to be the Messiah would NOT have constituted blasphemy (GAJ:262, JJ:35-36; HFJ:272).
Raymond Brown (DM:516-560) surveys the usage of the "blasphemo- words" and concludes:
From the attested meaning of the blasphemo- words, the only likely historical charge would have been that Jesus arrogantly claimed for himself status or privileges that belonged properly to the God of Israel alone and in that sense implicitly demeaned God. [p. 531]
Although Brown does not believe that Jesus made any explicit claims at the Trial that would have provoked such a response from the High Priest, he does note that there were MANY actions/words of Jesus that would have been so construed. He gives the following list (p. 545f):
1. Jesus spoke with great authority and by his 'Amen' almost demanded acceptance.
2. JESUS CLAIMED TO HAVE POWER TO FORGIVE SIN. It seemed almost as if the association of sinners with Jesus exempted them from standards of holiness imposed by other religious authorities.
3. Jesus performed extraordinary deeds and healings and related them to his making God's rule/kingdom present to people.
4. Jesus implied or even stated that people would be judged by God according to how they reacted to his proclamation of the kingdom. Other Jews proclaimed the gracious outreach of God; but in Jesus' proclamation there was a stated element of unique opportunity, which he proclaimed to be unlike any that had ever come before or would come again (parables of the pearl of great price and treasure in the field). Jesus' language of entrance into the kingdom had a tone of eschatological newness that went beyond prophetic calls to repentance.
5. Jesus took stances on the Law, especially concerning the Sabbath, that would have seemed highly disputable to Sadducees, Pharisees, or Essenes. Although these disputes must be evaluated cautiously, opponents who were neither legalists nor lacking in religious imagination could still have deeply resented Jesus' freedom toward what Moses had commanded and the piety that flowed from it. To a disciple who asked to be allowed to go first and bury his father, Jesus answered "Follow me, and the let the dead bury the dead." That response might appear to nullify the commandment (word) of God, "Honor your father and your mother," and the pious imperative to bury the dead (notice how Tobit 4:3 joins these two duties). God had spoken mouth to mouth to Moses, and one should not feel free to override Moses' authority (Num 12.7-8). Even Sanders admits that Jesus "did not consider the Mosaic dispensation to be final or absolutely binding." Thus not differences of interpretation but authority over the Law may have been the important issue in relation to Jesus.
6. Jesus, a layman, acted in criticism of Temple customs and indicated that rejection of him imperiled Temple survival.
7. Jesus never explained his authority in terms that would make him identifiable against an OT background, e.g., as if he were a prophet who had received his power when the word of God came to him. His authority seemed to be part of what he was.
8. Jesus addressed God with familiarity as "Abba", an otherwise unattested prayer practice.
9. At certain times Jesus spoke of himself in relation to God as the son, e.g., in the parables in Mark 11.27; Luke 10.22; and in Mark 13.32, where there is a limitation on the son's knowledge.
Brown concludes: "If in his lifetime Jesus plausibly did or said most of these things, I see little reason to doubt that his opponents would have considered him blasphemous (i.e. arrogantly claiming prerogatives or status more properly associated with God), even as the Gospels report at the trial."
[Note: I have cited Brown at length, since he represents a less conservative view of the text than some of the other sources cited. He sifts through the gospel materials and makes a considerable number of judgments that 'Christian piety introduced much of the detail.' As such, his opinion on the accuracy of the divine claims implied in the historically-authentic charges of blasphemy are particularly illuminating.] (Source; italicized bold and capital emphasis ours)
The accusation of blasphemy by the religious leaders establishes the fact that Christ was ascribing to himself divine prerogatives belonging to God alone.
Seeing also that Jesus' claims raised conflicting responses we need to read Matthew in context to see whether in fact the Evangelist is portraying Christ as God in the flesh. Several examples will help us discover Matthew's perspective of Jesus. The following is taken from our rebuttal to Shabir, with slight modifications, found here:
Jesus is God with Us
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Yashua- Yahweh Saves) because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' -which means, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:21-23
According to Matthew, the virgin born child is actually Yahweh God who came to dwell with his people to save them from their sin.
Jesus is the Lord of Judgment
Jesus claims to be the sovereign Lord that determines the eternal destiny of every human being:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:21-23
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" Matthew 25:31-34, 41
According to the OT it is God who will gather the nations in judgment, separating them as one separates the sheep from the rams:
"As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats." Ezekiel 34:17
"In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land... Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side." Joel 3:1-2, 12
Jesus is the Bridegroom
Matthew portrays Christ as the Bridegroom of God's people:
"Then John's disciples came and asked him, 'How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?' Jesus answered, 'How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.'" Matthew 9:14-15
Yet according to the OT the Bridegroom is Yahweh Elohim:
"As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." Isaiah 62:5
Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath
Jesus claims to be greater than the temple of God. Just how much greater becomes evident from the following citation:
"I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Matthew 12:6-8
Jesus is greater than the temple because he himself is the Lord of the Sabbath, i.e. Jesus is Yahweh God. Therefore, Jesus is the very Lord of the Temple who had come to dwell visibly with his people. This point is brought out more clearly from Jesus' own words:
"As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: 'What did you go out 'into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you."'" Matthew 11:7-10
Jesus claims that John is the Messenger that Malachi had predicted would come to prepare the way for the Messiah:
"'See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the LORD Almighty." Malachi 3:1
According to Malachi the one whom John was preparing for was actually the very Lord of the Temple himself. Seeing that Jesus is the one for whom John prepared the way, this makes Jesus Yahweh God the very One to whom the temple had been erected!
Jesus is the Lord of the World, Angels and of God's Elect
Jesus likens the kingdom to a sown field:
"Jesus told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, "Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?" "An enemy did this," he replied. The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?" "No," he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."'" Matthew 13:24-30
Jesus goes on to identify himself as the owner of the field, with the enemy representing Satan:
"Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.' He answered, 'The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out HIS angels, and they will weed out of HIS kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.'" Matthew 13:36-43
Jesus again goes on to say:
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth HIS ANGELS with A GREAT TRUMPET, and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." Matthew 24:30-31
Jesus claims that the world, the angels, the elect and the kingdom belong to him. In light of Psalm 24 this makes Jesus Yahweh:
"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters." Psalm 24:1-2
Jesus Forgives Sins
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS." Matthew 1:21
"Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.' At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, 'This fellow is blaspheming!' Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, 'Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and walk"? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins ' Then he said to the paralytic, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.' And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men." Matthew 9:2-8
Interestingly this passage shows that Jesus knew what the teachers of the law were thinking within their hearts without them having to speak out loud. This implicitly attests to Jesus' omniscience. Compare this with the following OT citations:
"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases," Psalm 103:2-3
"O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins." Psalm 130:7-8
That the NT teaches it is Jesus who both redeems men from their sins and heals people of their infirmities argues quite persuasively that Matthew's Jesus is none other than Yahweh God Incarnate!
Jesus is Omnipresent
According to Matthew, Jesus is omnipresent:
"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20
" and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20
In order for Jesus to be omnipresent he must be God since God alone is present everywhere, especially till the end of the age.
Jesus is Omnipotent
Christ claims to have sovereign authority over all creation:
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,'" Matthew 28:18-19
It is impossible for a finite creature to sustain the entire universe and preside over it as its Sovereign ruler. God alone is able to sovereignly control the universe. Therefore, in order for Christ to exercise sovereign authority over the entire universe implies that Jesus is God Almighty. This is solidified by the fact that Jesus also shares the very same Divine name of both God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Seeing that the term "name" also signifies authority, Jesus is therefore claiming to have the same divine authority that Yahweh God has. This again indicates that to Matthew Jesus was Yahweh God Incarnate!
Jesus is also able to grant others the authority to perform miracles and wonders in his name:
"He called his twelve disciples to him AND GAVE THEM AUTHORITY to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: 'Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: "The kingdom of heaven is near." Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.'" Matthew 10:1, 5-8
Jesus gives his followers the power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leprous and drive out demons. In order for Christ to grant such authority to others he must be the Almighty God since God alone has such power and authority, especially to delegate to others.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
In order for Jesus to grant rest to all who come to him Christ must be omnipotent. A finite creature is unable to grant rest to all who draw near to him. Compare this with the claims made by Yahweh in the OT:
"The LORD replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" Exodus 33:14
"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." Jeremiah 31:25
Hence, Jesus again claims to perform a function that the OT attributes to Yahweh God.
Jesus is Omniscient
"At that time Jesus said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 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 those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'" Matthew 11:25-27
For a man to claim to have the same intimate knowledge of God that God has of him is either blasphemous or makes that man God. Seeing that Matthew has no intention of presenting Christ as a blasphemer only demonstrates once again that the Matthean Jesus is God Incarnate.
Jesus receives the praise of Yahweh
"But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' they were indignant. 'Do you hear what these children are saying?' they asked him. 'Yes,' replied Jesus, 'have you never read, "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?"'" Matthew 21:15-16
Amazingly, Jesus applies to himself Psalm 8:2 where Yahweh is seen as receiving the praise of infants and children!:
"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger." Psalm 8:1-2
Jesus is therefore claiming that to praise him is to praise Yahweh God! The only way for this quotation from Psalms to count as valid justification for Jesus not to forbid, but to confirm and encourage the praise of his own person from those children, is the assumption of his identity with Yahweh God.
In light of the preceding lines of evidence there can be no doubt left that to Matthew Jesus was indeed Yahweh God Incarnate.
Therefore, contrary to the crowds' assessment of Christ Matthew clearly intends to present Christ as God in the flesh. We therefore find Shabir's remark that Matthew agrees with the crowds to be totally off base.
Third, Shabir presumes that since Christ did not speak or act on his own initiative implies that Jesus cannot be God, citing John 14:10 and 8:28 as proof. Shabir thinks that this somehow refutes the Deity of Christ. All this demonstrates is that Shabir either does not understand or knowingly misrepresents the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
Shabir seemingly assumes that in order for Trinitarianism to be true Jesus must speak or act on his own initiative. Yet the very heart of Trinitarianism is that the three Persons do nothing independently but in perfect unity, being in complete agreement. Statements like the above only reinforce the belief that this one God exists as three distinct Persons who always work in perfect unity.
In fact, Jesus makes this precise point in John's Gospel:
"Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear HIS VOICE and come out-those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." John 5:19-30
This passage clearly shows that Christ and the Father exist as the one true God since Christ does the works that God alone can do. It also demonstrates that the distinct Persons of the Godhead work in perfect harmonious union and never independently. This again serves to refute Shabir's assertion.
Fourth, Shabir provides an example of how he reads his own presuppositions into the text as opposed to allowing the text to speak for itself. For instance, Shabir erroneously assumes that since Jesus did not say to the paralytic, "I forgive your sins", this implies that Jesus wasn't claiming to be God. Rather, Christ was simply announcing "to the man the knowledge Jesus received from God that God had forgiven the man."
The error here should be clear for everyone to see. Instead of imposing his understanding of what he thinks Jesus SHOULD have said, Shabir needs to first discover what Jesus' words WOULD HAVE MEANT TO A JEW LIVING IN FIRST CENTURY PALESTINE. Had Shabir done so he would have discovered that Jesus was clearly affirming his ability to forgive sins. Even the crowds' reaction show that this was clearly Jesus' point:
"'But so that you may know that THE SON OF MAN HAS AUTHORITY ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS ...' Then he said to the paralytic, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.' And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, WHO HAD GIVEN AUTHORITY TO MEN." Matthew 9:6-8
The crowds realized that Jesus was claiming to personally have the authority to forgive sins. Yet they mistakenly drew the inference that God gives this authority to men in general.
"'Therefore, I tell you, her many sins HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.' Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' The other guests began to say among themselves, 'WHO IS THIS WHO EVEN FORGIVES SINS?' Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'" Luke 7:47-50
We again see that those surrounding Christ were well aware that Jesus was claiming the power to forgive sins.
Shabir also adds words to the text. For instance, Matthew 9 never mentions that Jesus was merely reporting to the man the knowledge God had conveyed to Christ. In fact, the text doesn't even mention God speaking to Christ at all! Shabir assumes this and then proceeds to read this assumption into the text. He does this in order to avoid the clear and explicit testimony to the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, if all Jesus was doing was communicating that God had forgiven the paralytic, then why didn't Jesus simply come out and say this? Why after being accused of blasphemy didn't Jesus simply correct the religious teachers by telling them that he was merely conveying what God had told him and that he wasn't claiming the ability to personally forgive sins?
In light of the preceding considerations, we see that Shabir's assertions have no substance to them.
John 10:30 is often used as proof that Jesus is God because Jesus said, "I and the father are one." But, if you read the next six verses, you will find Jesus explaining that his enemies were wrong to think that he was claiming to be God. What Jesus obviously means here is that he is one with the Father in purpose.
Jesus also prayed that his disciples should be one just as Jesus and the Father are one. Obviously, he was not praying that all his disciples should somehow merge into one individual (see John 17:11, 22). And when Luke reports that the disciples were all one, Luke does not mean that they became one single human being, but that they shared a common purpose although they were separate beings (see Acts 4:32).
Shabir commits the fallacy of false analogy and of equivocation. Shabir presumes that the term "one" carries the same meaning in all these contexts whereas the same word may have different meanings in different contexts. Whereas the context in John 17:11,12 and Acts 4:32 indicates that oneness here refers to the unity, purpose and harmony that exists between God and believers the context of John 10:30 is different. In the following we reiterate our response to Misha'al Ibn Abdullah al-Kadhi regarding this very passage given here:
Al-Kadhi presumes that the word for one, hen, can only mean one in purpose as opposed to one in essence and nature. The word means different things in different contexts. We will see that hen here means that the Father and the Son are one in all things, not just in purpose. For example, Jesus claims to be able to do what God alone can do:
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE, AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH; NO ONE CAN SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; NO ONE CAN SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY FATHER'S HAND. I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE." John 10:27-30
Jesus is one with the Father in essence and nature since Christ grants eternal life and has the power to preserve his believers from perishing. Yet, for Christ to be able to both preserve life and grant eternal life makes him God since only God can do these things:
"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I PUT TO DEATH AND I BRING TO LIFE, I HAVE WOUNDED AND I WILL HEAL, AND NO ONE CAN DELIVER OUT OF MY HAND." Deuteronomy 32:39
"The LORD brings death AND MAKES ALIVE; he brings down to the grave and raises up."1 Samuel 2:6
According to the New Testament, it is Jesus Christ who raises the dead from their graves:
"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead willl hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD AND THOSE WHO HEAR WILL LIVE... Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming WHEN ALL WHO ARE IN THEIR GRAVES WILL HEAR HIS VOICE AND COME OUT-those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." John 5:25, 28-29
For Jesus to be able to what only God can do implies that Jesus is God. Furthermore, for Christ to be able to do what the Father does implies that the Father and the Son are both the one true God. They are not one and the same person, but rather they are one in nature and power.
Furthermore, if one does read the next NINE verses (not only the six that Shabir mentions) one will discover that Jesus GOES ON TO AFFIRM HIS DEITY. The following is taken from our response to Jamal Badawi regarding John 10:31-39 found here.
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 Psalms 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
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
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.
Shabir is seemingly aware that to read the entire section would only reinforce the deity of Christ as well as the perfect unity of the Godhead. That is perhaps why he suggests reading the next six verses, as opposed to the remaining nine.
Finally, note here Shabir's straw man argumentation:
"... Obviously, he was not praying that all his disciples should somehow merge into ONE INDIVIDUAL ..."
Since Trinitarians DO NOT BELIEVE THAT JESUS AND THE FATHER ARE ONE INDIVIDUAL, it becomes apparent that Shabir is unable to deal with the real issues.
In terms of essence, Jesus and the Father are two, for Jesus said they are two witnesses (John 8:14-18). They have to be two, since one is greater than the other (see John 14:28).
First, the Holy Bible never claims that the Father and the Son are of separate essences, but rather teaches that both share the same essence equally:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
This verse clearly teaches that the preexistent Christ shares the nature and essence of God fully and completely. NT Scholar F. F. Bruce notes:
The structure of the third clause in verse 1, theos en ho logos, demands the translation "The Word was God." Since logos has the article preceding it, it is marked out as the subject. The fact that theos is the first word after the conjunction kai (and) shows that the main emphasis of the clause lies on it. Had theos as well as logos been preceded by the article the meaning would have been that the Word was completely identical with God, which is impossible if the Word was also "with God." What is meant is that the Word shared the nature and being of God, or (to use a piece of modern jargon) was an extension of the personality of God. The NEB paraphrase "What God was, the Word Was," brings out the meaning of the clause as successfully as a paraphrase can. (Bruce, The Gospel of John [Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1983], p.31; emphasis ours)
Greek Grammarian A. T. Robertson asserts:
And the Word was God (kai theos en ho logos). By exact and careful language John denied Sabellianism by not saying ho theos en ho logos. That would mean that all of God was expressed in ho logos and the terms would be interchangeable, each having the article. The subject is made plain by the article (ho logos) and the predicate without it (theos) just as in John 4:24 pneuma ho theos can only mean "God is spirit," not "spirit is God." So in 1 John 4:16 ho theos agape estin can only mean "God is love," not "love is God" as a so-called Christian scientist would confusedly say... So in John 1:14 ho logos sarx egeneto, "the Word became flesh," not "the flesh became Word." Luther argues that here John disposes of Arianism also because the Logos was eternally God, fellowship of the Father and Son, what Origen called the Eternal Generation of the Son (each necessary to the other). Thus in the Trinity we see personal fellowship on an equality. (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament [Grand Rapids; Baker Book House, 1932], vol. 5, pp. 4-5; emphasis ours)
NT translator Kenneth Wuest translates John 1:1 as:
And the Word was as to HIS ESSENCE ABSOLUTE DEITY. (The New Testament: An Expanded Translation [Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1956]; bold emphasis ours)
NT Scholar Murray J. Harris claims:
In the first proposition of verse 1 John affirms that the Logos existed before time and creation and therefore implicitly denies that the Logos was a created being. In the second, he declares that the Logos always was in active communion with the Father and thereby implies that the Logos cannot be personally identified with the Father. In the third, he states that the Logos always was a partaker of deity and so implicitly denies that the Logos was ever elevated to divine status. The thought of the verse moves from eternal preexistence to personal communion to intrinsic deity: only because the Logos participated inherently in the divine nature could he be said to be already in existence when time began or creation occurred and to be in unbroken and eternal fellowship with the Father. This would justify regarding theos as emphatic, standing as it does at the head of its clause. (Harris, Jesus as God, p.71; emphasis ours)
Bible Translator James Moffatt states:
"The Word Was God... And the Word became flesh," simply means "The Word was divine... and the Word became human." The Nicene faith, in the Chalcedon definition, was intended to conserve both these truths against theories that failed to present Jesus as truly God and truly man... (Moffatt, Jesus Christ the Same [Nashville; Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1945], p. 61; emphasis ours)
B. F. Westcott indicates:
The predicate ["God"] stands emphatically first, as iv.24. It is necessarily without the article [theos not ho theos] inasmuch as it describes THE NATURE of the Word and does not identify His Person... No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of the expression, which simply affirms the true deity of the Word. (Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John [Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1958 rp.], p. 3; emphasis ours)
C. H. Dodd concurs:
On this analogy, the meaning of theos and ho logos will be that the ousia ["essence"] of ho logos ["the Word"], that which it truly is, is rightly denominated theos... That this is the ousia of ho theos (the Personal God of Abraham, the Father) goes without saying. In fact, Nicene homoousios to patri ["of one essence of the Father"] IS A PERFECT PARAPHRASE. (Dodd, New Testament Translation Problems II, p. 104; emphasis ours)
We are further told that Jesus exists in God's exact form or nature:
"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:6-8
The late NT Scholar William Barclay states:
"... It is not doubtful that Paul thought of Jesus Christ in terms of God. He says of Jesus that he was in the form of God. (Phil. 2:6). He then goes on to say that Jesus was found in human form (Phil. 2:8, RSV), where the AV renders that he was found in fashion as a man. The RSV somewhat misleadingly translates two Greek words by the English word form, whereas the AV correctly distinguishes between them. In the first instance the word is morphe, which means THE UNCHANGING AND UNCHANGEABLE ESSENTIAL NATURE of a thing; the second word is schema, which means the changing and altering external form of a person or a thing. For instance, a man has always the unchanging morphe of manhood; that is what he essentially is; but he will have different schemata, different outward forms, in babyhood, childhood, youth, maturity and old age. A tulip, a rose, a chrysanthemum, a marigold, a daffodil, a delphinium all have the same morphe, the same essential nature, for they are all flowers; but they have very different outward schemata, outward forms. Paul says that Jesus was in the morphe of God; that is to say, the essential nature of Jesus IS THE SAME AS THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF GOD; but he says that Jesus was found in the schema of a man; that is to say, he temporarily took the form of manhood upon him. The NEB renders the Greek well here. In translating the word morphe it renders the passage: 'The divine nature was his from the first.' In translating the word schema it says that he was 'revealed in human shape.' This passage leaves us in no doubt that Paul believed that the nature of Jesus is the nature of God." (Barclay, Jesus As They Saw Him [Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids MI, rpt. 1998], pp. 27-28)
Another verse affirming that Jesus shares God's essence fully is Colossians 2:9:
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells (katoikei) in bodily form..."
The term for dwell, katoikei, is a present participle denoting continuous action or existence. Paul affirms that Jesus continues to exist as absolute and perfect Deity in bodily form.
Dr. Robert Morey indicates:
" The verb katoikei 'dwells' is in the present tense and indicates that Christ was, is, and always shall be the embodiment of Deity... It is, thus, a mistake to restrict this verse to the incarnation. If Paul had the incarnation in mind, he would have written the verb in the aorist tense. But the present tense clearly indicates THAT ABSOLUTE DEITY resides bodily in Christ permanently... The embodiment may have begun at the incarnation, but it is an ongoing reality in heaven where the glorified body of Jesus resides until His return to judge the living and the dead." (Dr. Robert Morey, Trinity-Evidence and Issues [Grand Rapids, MI; World Publishing Inc., 1996], pp. 359-360)
William Hendriksen affirms:
"Paul uses the present tense. He does not say that the Word became flesh but that the fullness of the Godhead dwells or is dwelling in Christ. And surely that indwelling did not just begin with the incarnation. It is an eternal indwelling." (Morey, Trinity, p. 360; bold emphasis ours)
The final verse comes from Hebrews:
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and THE EXACT REPRESENTATION (charakter) of his being (hupostaseos), sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Hebrews 1:3
The term charakter implies that Jesus perfectly duplicates the Father's substance, being equal with him in essence and nature. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, states:
"Viewing Christ's exaltation and preexistence, they hymn his eternal nature. As God's glory and hypostasis are synonymous, Christ both reflects the glory and bears the impress of the nature. It is by the Son that God is represented and acts. The Son as God's image and impress both contains God's glory and discloses it. As Ruler of the cosmos, he sustains all things by his mighty word, by his humiliation and exaltation he has become for us the cause of eternal salvation, and by the way of discipleship God leads those who trust in him as his children in glory (2:10). The Son's character as image is the essential presupposition of all his saving work... It is the humiliated and exalted Christ who bears the very stamp of God's nature." (Ibid., abridged in one volume by George W. Bromiley [Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1985], p. 1309; emphasis ours)
Murray J. Harris notes:
"When the Son is said to be 'the radiant light of God's glory (on apaugasma te doxes)' (v.3 JB) and to bear 'the imprint of God's nature (charakter tes hupostaseos autou)' (v. 3), he is being described as the intrinsic possesor of the nature of God without actually being given the generic title of 'God.' (Harris, Jesus as God - The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus, p. 222; emphasis ours)
Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words with Topical Index indicates:
"In the NT it (charakter) is used metaphorically in Heb. 1:3, of the Son of God as 'the very image (marg., 'the impress') of His substance.' RV. The phrase expresses that he 'is both PERSONALLY DISTINCT FROM, and yet LITERALLY EQUAL TO, HIM OF WHOSE ESSENCE HE IS THE ADEQUATE IMPRINT.' (Liddon). The Son is not merely His 'image' (His charakter), He is the 'image' or impress of His substance, or essence." (Merril F. Unger & William White Jr. [Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Pub., 1996], p. 319; emphasis ours)
The very fact that Christ eternally exists with the absolute fullness of God's substance refutes Shabir's claim.
Second, that the Father and the Son are two distinct witnesses is precisely what we would expect to find if the doctrine of the Trinity is true. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is only one God who exists in three eternally DISTINCT, yet inseparable Persons. Again, Shabir only attacks a straw man here.
Third, Shabir commits a categorical fallacy since he confuses position with nature. Shabir thinks that the Father being greater than the Son somehow means that he is better in essence. Again Trinitarians do not believe that just because the Father and the Son are equal in nature implies that they are also equal in position. A.T. Robertson in his Word Pictures of the New Testament explains:
I go away, and I come (upagw kai ercomai), both futuristic presents (7:33; 14:3,18). If ye loved me (ei hgapate me). Second-class condition with the imperfect active of agapaw referring to present time, implying that the disciples are not loving Jesus as they should. Ye would have rejoiced (ecarhte an). Second aorist passive indicative of cairw with an, conclusion of second-class condition referring to past time, "Ye would already have rejoiced before this" at Christ's going to the Father (verse 12). Greater than I (meizwn mou). Ablative case mou after the comparative meizwn (from positive megaß). The filial relation makes this necessary. Not a distinction in nature or essence (cf. 10:30), but in rank in the Trinity. No Arianism or Unitarianism here. The very explanation here is proof of the deity of the Son (Dods).
Dr. Robert A. Morey continues:
"Subordination, in the context of the economical Trinity, does not pose any difficulty whatsoever for the Trinitarian. The Father is greater than the Son by virtue of His office of being the Sender and Jesus the Sent (John 14:28). That the Father is greater in rank does not logically imply that He is better in nature." (Morey, Trinity-Evidence and Issues [World Publishing; 1996], p. 439; bold emphasis ours)
In fact, had Shabir simply read the entire chapter of 14 he would have found Jesus claiming to have all of God's omni-attributes:
"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 is capable of personally answering all prayers that are directed to him or are addressed in his name. Yet, the only way that Christ can both hear and answer all these prayers is if he was both 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 is IN all the disciples, an impossible claim if he was only a man, or even an angel. But since Jesus is God, and since God is omnipresent, we therefore see how it is possible for Christ to dwell in all believers at the same time.
"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
Both the Father and the Son make their home with all true believers! Christ is clearly claiming co-equality with the Father since he is present with every believer in the same way that the Father is!
This ends the first part of our rebuttal. Continue with Part 2.
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