Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"

Did Jesus Claim Divinity VII : Responses to Objections


In this final segment of "Did Jesus Claim Divinity", Dr. Badawi reviews his (or in reality, the Jehovah's Witness) arguments against the deity of Jesus. In his introduction, Dr. Badawi claims that Christians can only respond to his (actually they belong to the Jehovah's Witnesses) arguments in two ways: (1) use apologetics to "get around" his claims or (2) be "scholarly and objective" and believe his claims with question. Dr. Badawi then takes the writings (dated 1960) of an "Egyptian Orthodox" [I assume he is Coptic Orthodox] Priest name Reverend Johanna and attempts to rebut them. I have not read Reverend Johanna's works and have not been able to locate a copy of them. If you are interested in a more recent refutation of Dr. Badawi's [Jehovah's Witness] beliefs, please read Patrick Zukeran's Jehovah's Witnesses and the Trinity . However, let us examine Dr. Badawi's [Jehovah's Witness] claims.

Host: It would be interesting to know how the Christian clergy respond to what you said in the last show.

Jamal Badawi: There are some clergy and theologians which take two approaches:

1. Apologetic Approach: An approach that attempts to shake any way of discounting this very clear and obvious statement that referred to last time and as such might go into length trying to get around, it looks that the entire theological committee decides which approach to take.

2. Try to take it on a more scholarly and objective basis, that there is nothing that said Jesus is divine.

Even George Orwell would have cringed at such an abuse of semantics! According to Badawi, those who disagree with his interpretation of the Bible (or to be more precise, the Jehovah's Witness' interpretation which Badawi borrows) are trying to "get around" the issue. On the other hand, if we want to be "scholarly and objective", we need to simply nod or heads in agreement!

Host: Can you give us a few responses from number 1 and why are they inadequate?

Jamal Badawi: There are many examples. An Egyptian Orthodox Priest named Reverend Johanna in 1960 wrote that in the quotation in John 14:28 my father is greater than I, he goes around it and says that Jesus speaks about his human side not his divine side. This kind of logic is like saying divinity and humanity have united in Jesus. This is a question of hierarchy, divine is higher than divine with human nature. This is not acceptable because when we say that humanity and divinity are united, then we cannot contradict it by saying that God is greater. Nothing is superior to the divine.

Another response from this priest was that he said that this quotation, Jesus said no father is greater that I, not my God who is father in a state of God. That is a strange excuse, because father has been used in a different sense.

First of all, Jesus was both man and God, human and divine. Second, this passage has nothing to do with the question of hierarchy. The term greater refers to position, not nature. For example, in Philippians 2:6-8:

that Christ though He was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself and submitted Himself to the Father and took on the form of a servant. Though Jesus emptied Himself, He was always in nature God and equal to the Father in nature.

If Jesus wanted to say that He was inferior to God in nature, He would have said, "The Father is better than I."

In contrast to this, if we read Hebrews 1:4, it says (speaking of Jesus),

"So he became as much superior to the angels...."

Notice here that Jesus is better than the angels, so the term superior is used. Once again, the term greater refers to position, not nature.

Host: Is Jesus ever quoted as saying that God is in the state of Father?

Jamal Badawi: If we assume that there is a verse where Jesus says that God is in the state of Father, that does not prove divinity because others have called God Father. Yes he did,

Mark 15:34:

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama SABACHTHANI?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Jesus spoke to God and God does not speak to or pray to God. According to the Bible, at the end of Jesus' mission on earth, after the resurrection, Jesus said that he was going ascent to his God and our God, his Father and our Father according to John 20:10. When we were talking about John 14:28, Jesus said my Father, not my God, which proves divinity now is shifting because it can be argued on different grounds.

Host: What different grounds are you referring to?

Jamal Badawi: In Mark 15: 34, Why have you forsaken me, Jesus said this by virtue of his human nature, and when he says why have you forsaken me, he speaks also by virtue of his divinity because he is sinless. Jesus is saying that I am not being punished because I am the Son of God, I am a substitute. This is what I mean by shifting grounds, father used to be more important because Jesus said Father and not my God, I doubt that anyone has made sense of this explanation.

How do the last words of Jesus negate his deity? Jesus knew that He would die on the cross and He mentioned this to His disciples many times (Mark 10:45, Matthew 26:2, and Matthew 26:28). Incidentally, to reach this point in the argument, we must accept the fact that Jesus was nailed to the cross. Are you now taking this position Dr. Badawi?

Host: Can you give more examples?

Jamal Badawi: In his [Reverend Johanna] commentary on Mark 13:32:

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

This is where Jesus denied that he knew the hour an attribute of the divine. He goes around by saying that Jesus did not know the hour in a way that he could tell you, he did not wish to declare it. That is putting too much wording in a text that was clear, if this were true, Jesus would have said that I and the Father know but we cannot tell you for whatever reasons.

If Jesus had known the hour, He would have either told His followers or told them that they did not need to know this information. Perhaps Jesus did not know the hour because he assumed our human nature and, like all of us, needed to live by faith and obedience. Jesus could have been unaware of the hour simply because He did not want to know. I believe that Jesus was trying to tell us that it is presumptuous, for humans to attempt to determine ( by mathematical calculation and over-analyzing prophecy) what the Son of God did not know, or did not want to know.

In his commentary on the verses where Jesus said that he doesn't do anything on his own power, John 5:30, 6:8, John 11:31, he says that Jesus said that in order to respond to an accusation that he is doing this by the power of Satan to show his unity with the Father. When we use the terms deity of Jesus with the Father, there is no problem in the allegorical sense because all Prophets had this, they were not divine. What Jesus said does not prove divinity, it disproves it.

Actually, these statements proved divinity. For example, John 5:19:

"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for whatever the Father does, the Son also does."

What Jesus is saying is these verses is that he can duplicate every act of God! This makes Him equal to God and, therefore, divine. Think about it for a moment! A good "son" is always obedient to his "father". He is always doing his father's will and acting like him ( John 8:37-47). Jesus often pointed to His works as clear and conclusive evidence of the fact that He is the Son of God. He said: "If I am not acting as my Father would, do not believe me. But if I am, accept the evidence of my deeds, even if you do not believe me, so that you may recognise and know that the Father is in me, and I in the Father" (John 10:37). Jesus did the works of God, His Father, acting exactly as God would have acted.

John 6:8, Jesus said he does the will of the one who sent him, he is simply fulfilling the will of God. Reverend Johanna says Jesus says that he does nothing of his will as a human, but I do it by the will of God who is one with me. Again, this is like putting the writer's thinking in the verse without justification. If there is a combination of divine and human in Jesus, how can you say this?

Once again, the will of God the Father and Jesus are the same. This is not only Reverend Johanna's personal opinion, this is exactly what the Bible says.

He refers to the fact that Jesus prayed to God, especially near his arrest in the Garden in Hebrews 5:7, it says that Jesus was praying and the angel appeared and assured him. This he says does not necessarily negate divinity, he is God in human form and these feelings are normal reaction done by Jesus as a human not as God. There is a very serious question : does Jesus have one nature or two?

It does not negate divinity, Jesus was both God and man. His human nature caused Him to feel great fear and dread concerning His impending suffering and death on the cross.

Does he have one or two wills one human and one divine?

The will of the Father is the same as the will of the Son.

If Jesus had one will, how can he make a distinction between his will as a human and the will of God, especially when he says that he does things of God's will?

There is no distinction: John 5:19:

.....for whatever the Father does, the Son also does."

If we assume that Jesus had two wills, what is the nature of the relationship of these two wills? Which is greater? How could these two wills be united?

There is only the will of God the Father which is the same as the will of God the Son.

When Jesus was praying, he was praying earnestly that God would let the cup pass, he did not want to suffer. His will as a human was to be spared from this suffering.

No, His will was the same as His Father's, which is why He obediently went to the cross to die for my sins and your sins.

Now the question is If Jesus was divine how many wills did he have? The will of God must be fulfilled, the other will was his will which was praying to God to take this cup away from him. This is not one united will and these two wills could not have combined.

If you take the other assumption that Jesus was praying because there were two separate wills, which will is superior and how can the finite and infinite be united?

I had this same discussion with a Jehovah's Witness a few weeks ago when I was cutting my lawn. The fact is that the will of God the Father and God the Son were the same. Jesus went to the cross in obedience to this will.

Reverend Johanna also refers to Matthew 19:18 when the man called Jesus good master, he suggests that this man was running after him, Jesus meant to tell him that don't call me good if you don't believe in me as God or as divine. The term good is the same as divine meaning that you must believe in me as God. The logic is not good, it simply says that Jesus asked him why do you call me good? He explains it that Jesus is divine because the title of good is the same as divine and you are calling me good without believing. Look at the context of the Bible and when this verse occurs, when Jesus answered he said that the most important commandment is believing in God. If Jesus wanted to say that he should believe in him as God he would have said so, he said to have salvation the same as what all of the prophets said, is to believe in God.

No. Jesus was asking the man why do YOU call me good? In other words, what are YOUR motives for addressing me in this way? When Jesus said that only God was good, He was not suggesting the He was bad or not divine, He was simply telling this man not to use a term, such as good, unless the man truly wished to aspire to this virtue.

Host: How did Reverend Johanna explain the Old Testament's explanation the reference to God and the absence of any verse relating to the Trinity?

Jamal Badawi: He makes round about statements. He says that it does not reveal the trinity because the purpose was to negate false Gods, there is no statement about the Trinity or that God will at some point in history enter as a human, it is not sustained by the text.

There is a great amount of proof in the Old Testament for the Trinity

Host: How did Reverend Johanna respond to the statements that said that Jesus was not divine?

Jamal Badawi: It is amazing, Paul, as we quoted before, referred to Jesus as One God and my Lord 1 Corinthians 8:6:

yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

and now he tries to answer that by saying that God and Christ are divine and in any case Paul referred to Jesus as Lord which means he is divine. As we discussed before, Lord means master not divine. Another example is Paul referred to Jesus as the image of the invisible God, in Galatians 1:15:

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased

we know that image is not the same as reality. Image is less than reality. We have to read this in the context of the Bible because Adam was created in the image of God.

Of course Christians believe in One God, I doubt that Reverend Johanna denied that fact. We also believe that God has a Word [Jesus] and a Spirit. That is what the Trinity is!

Andrew Vargo

Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
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