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

Trinity, Atonement & Blood Sacrifice VI : Sin and Atonement 4


In this segment, Dr. Badawi will attempt to convince us that, according to Paul's arguments, that Jesus could not have been God because He gave up His divine attributes when He took the form of a man. Badawi builds his case by distorting Philippians 2:6-9 to fit a neo-Platonic view of reality. It is fairly easy to demonstrate the many flaws in this argument which is built on a misinterpretation of scripture.

Host: Some claimed that Jesus gave up His divine attributes. What are your comments?

Jamal Badawi: Some theologians point to Paul's writings, Hebrews 5:7 Paul talks about the days of his flesh. In Philippians 2:6-9 but there are problems in interpretation. The KJV says:

who being in the form of God not being equal, the RSV who was in the form of God did count equality with God a thing to be grasped. The difference in the translation is that when we focus on atonement, we speak of Jesus being in the form of God and emptying himself to be human.

Philippians 2:6-9:

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, RSV

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: KJV

In either translation, Jesus is considered equal to God the Father. Both translations say, essentially, the same thing. Jesus was in the form of God, that is He was a Spirit, who became man, but also remained God.

Host: What are your comments?

Jamal Badawi: It is an innovation introduced by Paul in so far as the Old Testament where it does not exist. Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find the divine emptying himself of divinity.

No where in the New Testament do we find Jesus emptying Himself of His divinity. This argument is a red herring! Please remember that Jesus was much more than a man, He was the incarnate Word [Logos] of God. This was a very unique event in human history and Paul simply used words and phrases that he had to invent in order to describe this event.

What did Paul mean when he said that Jesus was in the form of God? Did he mean that Jesus was equal to God and divine?

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.

Paul makes a distinction between God and Jesus. In the symbolical language of the Bible, the term God was not always used in the divine sense. Did Paul mean this? Jesus emptied himself and took the place of a servant - Paul did not tell us what he means or what Jesus emptied himself of. If Jesus is distinct from God, He is not divine so he could not have emptied himself of divinity. The divine can never cease to be divine, God cannot cease to be God.

What is the distinction in terms of divinity? Paul clearly tells us that all things came from God the Father and all things came through God the Son. Therefore, the are separate Persons who share the same Divine Essence and Both God the Father and God the Son are Divine.

Host: If we say that the emptying was not a complete process, does that solve the problem?

Jamal Badawi: It raises more problems. In Philippians 2:6 it says that he gave it all up. If it is divinity, can we say that the emptying was complete or partial? The Nicean creed says that Jesus is perfect man and perfect God, so he cannot be a perfect God if he emptied himself. He also cannot be a perfect human either because he does not share the characteristics of other men.

Jesus never emptied Himself of His divinity. He never emptied Himself of "being on an equality with God" How did He empty Himself? Jesus did this going from being "in the FORM (that is, the outward glorious self-manifestation) of God," to "taking on Him the form of a servant," whereby He in a great measure emptied Himself of His "form," or outward self-manifesting glory as God.

Host: Some say that God wanted to share his life with humans, what about this?

Jamal Badawi: This assumes that the knowledge of God is imperfect so he must incarnate to understand humans. This is contrary to the Old Testament because God has absolute knowledge.

I do not know of any Bible believing Christians who make the argument.

Host: How would you answer those who say that God can do anything?

Jamal Badawi: Can a perfect God become imperfect? Can the infinite God become finite? Can the almighty become incompetent or can God become non God? These would all be excluded because they are divine attributes. God does not go against his divine attributes. To say that the divine emptied himself of divinity negates divinity. If Jesus dies, then the divine minus divinity died. If the human died this is not the infinite sacrifice.

Once again, Dr. Badawi is using a red herring argument. No one said that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity. Jesus was both man and God and He was divine. There was no imperfection what so ever in Jesus, None!

Host: Paul's expressions have a lot of contradictions. Is there any way to re-word it so there are no contradictions?

Jamal Badawi: Only if we take the phrase emptied himself metaphorically, not the divinity. We could say that Jesus submitted his own will to the will of God. In this sense, Jesus shares this quality with other Prophets.

Host: Some say that Jesus was the only sinless one, how does a Muslim accept this?

Jamal Badawi: No Muslim would say that Jesus was sinful, this is contrary to Islam. No Prophet was a sinner according to Islam. They are not perfect in the absolute sense and Jesus Mark 10:18: Jesus denied that he was absolutely good.

Jesus did not deny that He was absolutely good or God in this passage, which Dr. Badawi has misquoted throughout this entire series. Jesus was simply asking the man why HE called Jesus good and told him not to use such language unless he aspired towards such goodness.

A Prophet is infallible in belief and cannot be accused of any sins, Muslims do not accept such stories of Prophets doing wrong. A Prophet might make minor errors. According to Islam, all Prophets share sinlessness. John the Baptist in the Bible is called the greatest of those born of woman, there is no record of John's sin in the Bible. A Muslim accepts that Jesus was sinless and so were the others according to the Qur'an. The Qur'an is more generous than the Bible. A Christian theologian named Dennis Meinham wrote in Hicks' The Myth of God Incarnate says that you cannot disprove a historical negative, the claim of absolute sinlessness cannot be justified in the historical record, the Gospels are too brief to be conclusive.

Prophets are not sinless according to the Qur'an!No one, other than Jesus, is without sin and all fall short of the glory of God. How sinless are the Prophets according to the Qur'an and Hadith?

Muhammad said :

"No child is born, but that, Satan touches it when it is born whereupon its starts crying loudly because of being touched by Satan, except Mary and her son" (al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 54).

In other words, all people are born sinners except Jesus. Muhammad is also reported as saying:

Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent constantly" (Karim's Mishkatul-Masabih, Vol. 3, p. 360).

Muhammad clearly did not believe in the doctrine of Isma. What about the Prophets? What were their sins according to the Qur'an? What does the Qur'an say about the Prophets?


Sura 20:121:

"In the result, they both ate of the tree, and so their nakedness appeared to them: they began to sew together, for their covering, leaves from the Garden: thus did Adam disobey his Lord, and allow himself to be seduced."

Disobeying the commands of God is the very definition of sin! Later in this Sura, the Qur'an records an account of Adam's repentance. In spite of this repentance, the fact remains that Adam, considered the first Prophet by many Muslims, sinned against God.


Sura 11:47 tells us that : "Noah said: "O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge. And unless thou forgive me and have Mercy on me, I should indeed be lost!"

Why did Noah ask God to forgive and have mercy on him if he was sinless? If Noah was without sin, what did God forgive?


Sura 21:87 says :

"And remember Sun-nun (Jonah), when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, "There is no god but thou: glory to thee: I was indeed wrong!"

Jonah departed from God in wrath and admitted that he "was indeed wrong"! Jonah defied the commands of God and, in this passage, admitted his sin.


Sura 6:76-78:

When the night covered him over, He saw a star: He said: "This is my Lord." But when it set, He said: "I love not those that set." When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said: "This is my Lord." But when the moon set, He said: "unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray."

Please remember that the Prophet Abraham, before God revealed Himself to him, worshiped nature!


Was Muhammad without sin? What does the Qur'an say about the sins of Muhammad? Sura 48:2 says:

"That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favor unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path."

Clearly, not only did Muhammad sin in the past, God knew that he would sin in the future!

Did Muhammad ever claim that he was without sin? No, in fact, Muhammad once prayed:

"So forgive the sins which I have done in the past or will do in the future, and also those (sins) which I did in secret or in public, and that which You know better than I. None has the right to be worshiped but you". (al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, p. 403)

Clearly, the doctrine of Isma (Prophets are sinless) has absolutely no foundations in the teachings of the Qur'an or in the words of Muhammad.

Andrew Vargo

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