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

Miracles and Divinity : Biblical Parallels


In this section, Dr. Badawi, once again, repeats his arguments against the divinity of Jesus by attempting to quote passages from the Bible. What Badawi does not realize, or does not want to understand, is that most Christians do not believe that Jesus is divine simply because He performed miracles or was born of a virgin. Jesus did these things because He was the Son of God who was prophesied throughout history by God's Prophets.

Arshad Jinesh: It is sometimes claimed that the miracles of Jesus are proof of His divinity, how would you assess this?

Jamal Badawi: This line or reasoning is common but not universal. There have been some enlightened theologians who no longer refer to the miracles as proof of divinity. Examples are a Xerox that was distributed at the University of Indiana at Bloomington, the two clergy who prepared this followed this reasoning:

1. Jesus was able to change water into wine, he must be the master of quality.

2. Jesus cured a person at a distance, therefore He is the master of distance.

3. Jesus cured someone who was impotent, He is master of time.

4. He fed the multitudes with a small amount of food, he is the master of quantity.

5. He walked on water, he is the master of natural laws.

6. He brought Lazarus back to life, he is the master of life and death.

7. He cured the blind, he was the master of misfortune.

This line of argument is simplistic and deficient in many respects, because if we go back to the Bible, we know what happened to Moses that his cane was turned into a large snake. If we use the same line of argument, then we can say that Moses had control on quantity and natural laws. This type of thinking could lead us to think that Moses is divine and no one said that. We know that many prophets did perform some miracles, it was not because of their powers, but by the power of God to show proof of their Prophethood and as a challenge for those who reject them. Jesus was no exception. One of the statements that he made according to John 5:30:

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.

What could be more straightforward? It is not true that the miracles of Jesus were unique. If we assume they were unique, they are not proof of divinity.

John 5:30 is more straightforward than Dr. Badawi realizes! Jesus and God the Father are One, that is why Jesus can do nothing by Himself. The words which Jesus speaks are the words of God and the actions that are performed by Jesus are the actions of God the Father. Jesus can only do and say what the Father does and says because they are One.

Do Christians believe that miracles alone prove that Jesus is divine and the Son of God? No. Miracles are evidence for the divinity of Christ but, by themselves, do not constitute proof. Jesus is not the Son of God because of His miracles and words. His performs miracles and speaks the Words of God because He is the Son of God. His works are evidence that He is the Son of God and are a witness that He is from God.

Arshad Jinesh: Why not take the example of the virgin birth. Isn't this an example of a unique miracle?

Jamal Badawi: We cannot consider it unique in the broad sense. Unique only in that Jesus is the only person known to us [and this is important] who was created without the agency of a human father. There have been a number of other human beings who were believed to be born of virgins, that includes many of the Mediterranean sub gods Artis, Adonic (who was also known as Tamuz), Dionysus, Osiris, and Mithra. In ancient India, Krishna was believed to have been a miraculous conception of Vishnu in the womb of Devaki. Buddha was believed to have been born of the virgin Maya. That is not unique. If we say that Jesus was created without a man, Eve was created without a woman and Adam was created from neither. According to the Bible, the nature of the birth of Jesus is not really unique. Hebrews 7:3:

Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.

He doesn't have a mother or father. I once discussed that with a colleague who said you cannot take this literally, I said that why cannot we not apply the same to when Jesus said that I and the Father are One? Virgin birth has nothing to do with divinity it shows that God wanted to show his creative powers in different ways. All other miracles of Jesus have parallels according to the Bible.

Issue 1: Are you downplaying the virgin birth Dr. Badawi, or are you attempting to give credibility to Pagan lore? Incidentally the legends concerning Krisha's childhood appeared after the Gita was written. In fact, most of these legends originated around AD 1000. As usual, Dr. Badawi does not allow the facts to get in the way of his arguments! Was Devaki a virgin as he suggests? According to the story, Devaki already had six children! Krishna was number seven -a fact which suggests that she was not a virgin when she conceived Krishna.

Issue 2: Hebrews 7:3 refers to the Old Testament figure Melchizedek. We do not know about Melchizedek's ancestors, his parents, or when and where he was born, or when and where he died. What do we know about Melchizedek? We know nothing. It is AS IF he was never born and never died. In other words, he appears to be eternal. The writer of Hebrews DOES NOT say that he was in fact unborn and that he never died, but uses this APPARENT eternality of Melchizedek as a metaphor to explain the fact of the eternality of the Messiah who was to come.

Issue 3: I do not believe that the virgin birth alone proves that Jesus is the Son of God. In other words, Jesus is not the Son of God because He was born of a virgin, He was born of a virgin because He was the Son of God. Jesus existed long before Mary. In fact, Jesus and God have always existed and He spoke about "the glory I had with You before the world began" (John 17:5; Colossians 1:13-20), long before Abraham, or Mary, were born. To put it more accurately, Jesus did not become the Son of God, but the Son of God became Jesus. Jesus, the eternal Son of God entered into time and space by the power of God working through the virgin Mary and was born as a man, called Jesus, in Bethlehem some twenty centuries ago. The Qur'an also mentions the virgin birth but has no explanation as to why God worked in this way. Dr. Badawi claims that God wanted to show us that "it was easy" for Him! Imagine Almighty God needing to show off to us - His creation! To be perfectly honest, I cannot prove that Mary was a virgin, I believe that she was a virgin, but there is no means by which I can prove [or disprove] this claim. However, I do have proof that Jesus is divine. The Old Testament has hundreds of detailed predictions concerning Jesus. One of them is Isaiah 7:14:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [God with us].

This prophecy, along with many others, tells me that Jesus is the Son of God. I can also conclude, based on the truth and accuracy of the prophecies of Isaiah and other Prophets, that Mary was indeed a virgin.

Arshad Jinesh: Are you saying that by the authority of the Qur'an, or the Bible?

Jamal Badawi: In the last 7 programs, I have quoted from the Bible, not the Qur'an. You might find parallels in the Qur'an, I am not using it as a reference because I want to see what the Bible says. People may realize that there are things in the Bible which they have not heard.

One can only reach these conclusions using misquotations and faulty arguments!

Arshad Jinesh: Maybe you can give us a few examples.

Jamal Badawi: When we speak of Jesus feeding the multitudes, in 2 Kings 4:7, Elijah was able to secure the oil of the widows, 1 Kings 17:16. About feeding the multitudes, Elijah also fed the multitudes in 2 Kings 4:44. Jesus walked on water, that he must be divine, Moses also had a similar miracle in Exodus 14:22. A similar miracle is mentioned in respect to Elijah in 2 Kings 2:14, Joshua in Joshua 3:15. Jesus must be divine because he cast out devils. In the New Testament, others also that power Matthew 12:27, 7:22. Jesus must be divine because he could cure people Matthew 8:2-4, Elijah also cured a leper 2 Kings 5:14. Jesus restored sight to the blind, 2 Kings 6:13 and 20. He must be divine because he could tell the future, 1 Kings 20:35-36. In all of these, no one claimed divinity.

Jesus is not the Son of God because He told the future or performed miracles, He told the future and performed miracles because He was the Son of God. These things are proof that He was from God and the other Prophets. No Prophet can be accepted without these proofs - which is why I reject the "Prophethood" of Muhammad. However, none of the Prophets ever claimed divinity!

Arshad Jinesh: How about bringing the dead to life?

Jamal Badawi: The incidents when Jesus brought the dead to life : Lazarus. In the book of Ezekiel 47:1-14 we are told that he brought multitudes, meaning thousands, back to life. So that is even much greater but no one says that he is divine. Elijah brought a dead child to life 1 Kings 17:22. Elisha also did this 2 Kings 4:34. Even touching Elijah's bones, the dead stood up. Jesus said that He does nothing on his own but on authority from God. Why should Jesus be considered divine?

Once again, miracles alone do not prove that Jesus is the Son of God. They are evidence that He is from God. If miracles are not a great issue among Prophets, why was Muhammad unable to perform any?

Arshad Jinesh: It is said that Jesus came back from the dead, how would you put that in context? Jamal Badawi: If we take resurrection as proof that a person who is divine, what about the thousands Ezekiel brought back are they divine? I think that this is a common point, we all believe in resurrection for all of us. Are we divine? To say that Jesus raised himself it is presumptuous to say that he did it because everything he does is from the Father. If we say that Jesus was brought back by the power of God, it does not prove divinity. I have a lot of question about that story because in Mark 16:9-20, we find that some recent editions like the RSV put it in the margin and footnote. Paul was teaching this "according to my Gospel" in 2 Timothy 2:8. This is not a satisfactory argument that Jesus was divine.

The death and resurrection of Jesus was God's divine plan for the redemption of humankind. This plan was predicted in the Old Testament by God's Prophets. I know that Jesus is the divine Son of God because God the Father has told us, through the Prophets, precisely how He would suffer and die (Isaiah 53:12, Zec. 12:10, Psalm 34:20 and, Isaiah 53:9 to mention but a few) and come back from the dead (Psalm 16:10). Jesus is not the Son of God because He came back from death, He came back from death because He is the Son of God.

Another question is : who raised Jesus? The Father raised Him (Galatians 1:1), the Son raised Him (John 2:19, 21), and the Holy Spirit raised Him ( Romans 8:11)!

Arshad Jinesh: What about the ascension?

Jamal Badawi: There is one parallel, Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5, and 2 Kings 2:11 where we are told that Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. In John 2:13

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

That is interesting because it contradicts the Old Testament. Perhaps John was not aware of this or ignored it. Enoch also was said to be raised into heaven.

I have no idea what Dr. Badawi means by his reference to John. He probably misquoted again. Once again, however, the ascension of Jesus was predicted by God's Prophets (Psalm 68:18).

Arshad Jinesh: It is sometimes argued that the miracles of the other Prophets were the result of praying to God and not their own power. Are there any parallels?

Jamal Badawi: It is also said that the disciple performed miracles through Jesus. But they don't carry this logic to its conclusion by saying that Jesus did this through the power of God in John 5:30. In Luke 11:20:

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

He is not saying that it is his power, but by God, the same as all of the Prophets.

Please take a moment and think about what Jesus is saying. In fact, read verse 19 and 20:

Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

Did any Prophet claim to do things by the finger of God? Jesus said this because He and the Father are One.

Andrew Vargo

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