Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Reexamining the context of Mark 12:28-34 in light of Trinitarian Beliefs Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

There are quite a number of [N]ew [T]estament texts that affirm absolute monotheism which anti-Trinitarians somehow think refute Trinitarianism, even though the unity of God is an essential and necessary component of the doctrine of the blessed and Holy Trinity. The following is one such reference which anti-Trinitarians often abuse:

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (kyrious ho theos hemon kyrios heis estin); and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ And the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one (hoti heis estin), and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to ask him any question.” Mark 12:28-34

There are some Muslim dawagandists (*) who are of the opinion that the response of the scribe shows that he didn’t believe in a Triune God nor did he believe that Jesus was God, otherwise he would have worshiped him. According to this particular polemicist the scribe was an “orthodox” Jew who would have believed “that God is absolutely and numerically one having no partners or associates in His divinity” and that this God is the Father.(1)

There are several problems with these assertions. First, it erroneously assumes that the Hebrew Scriptures teach unitarianism and that the Jews during Jesus’ time all held to the same views concerning God’s nature, heavenly beings etc. For the evidence which proves that such is not the case please consult the articles that are listed under the christological and theological issues sections which can be found in the following links:

Second, it mistakenly assumes that the use of singular pronouns conflicts with God being multi-personal. However, this overlooks the fact that the Holy Scriptures apply singular pronouns in contexts where there are plural subjects in view. Here is a case in point:

“After the death of Joshua the people of Israel inquired of the LORD, ‘Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?’ The LORD said, ‘Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into HIS hand.’ And Judah said to Simeon HIS BROTHER, ‘Come up with ME into the territory allotted to ME, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with YOU (singular) into the territory allotted to YOU (singular).’ So Simeon went with HIM. Then Judah went up and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they defeated ten thousand of them at Bezek… And the men of Judah fought against Jerusalem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. And afterward the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who dwelt in the hill country, in the Negeb, and in the lowland. And Judah went against the Canaanites who dwelt in Hebron (now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba); and they defeated Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai. From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. The name of Debir was formerly Kiriath-sepher… And the descendants of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad; and they went and settled with the people. And Judah went with Simeon HIS BROTHER, and they defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the name of the city was called Hormah. Judah also took Gaza with its territory, and Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. And the LORD was with Judah, and HE took possession of the hill country, but HE could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, because they had chariots of iron.” Judges 1:1-4, 8-11, 16-19

Here both the tribes of Judah and Simeon consisting of thousands of individuals are addressed with both singular and plural pronouns!

As such, singular pronouns do not necessarily prove that God is a singular Person but that he is a singular Being, which is precisely what Trinitarianism teaches.

It further ignores all the places where the Hebrew Bible uses plural pronouns, verbs, adjectives, participles etc., for God. For the details please consult the articles found under the theological issues section located in my personal pages as well as the following rebuttals:

Therefore, if this neophyte were to apply his logic consistently he would be forced to conclude that the prophetic Scriptures emphatically testify that God is a multi-personal Being. After all, we wouldn’t expect the Bible writers to use plural pronouns, adjectives, verbs, participles etc., if they actually believed that Yahweh is uni-personal.

Third, in his haste to “disprove” the Trinity or the Deity of Christ the Islamic propagandist failed to see how his assertion actually affirms a point which we have repeatedly made. We have often noted that one of the reasons why Jesus didn’t simply come out at first and say he is God is because of the possible misunderstanding this may have caused for some of his listeners. For Jesus to have said that he was God without qualification to any of these “orthodox” Jews who believed that God is the Father in heaven would have meant that he was claiming to be the Father. Since Jesus is not the Father he needed to therefore communicate his Deity in such a way as to insure that his listeners wouldn’t think that he was claiming to be someone he wasn’t, e.g. Jesus is not the Father but the Father’s Divine Son. It is only after this point had been clearly embedded in the minds of his hearers could Jesus speak more freely and openly about his Deity.

This also explains why Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah in those exact words and his reluctance to have his disciples broadcast his Messianic identity to the people:

“And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he charged them to tell no one about him.’” Mark 8:29-30

In light of all the various opinions which the Jews held concerning the Messiah (i.e., is the Christ just a human descendent of David or a preexistent heavenly being, will there be only one Messiah or more, etc.) we can see why Jesus didn’t want too many people to know who he was at first.

With that just said the real question that needs to be answered is, in reciting Deuteronomy 6:4 did Jesus intend to affirm or accept unitarianism? Was he endorsing a unitarian concept which taught that the Father alone is the only God? Or did he go on to show the scribe and the others who were listening that the one Lord whom the Israelites professed is more than one Divine Person?

In other words, is there any evidence from the immediate context of Mark 12 to prove that Jesus affirmed that even though he was personally distinct from the Father, whom the Israelites already knew was God, he himself was fully God nonetheless? In this article we are about to find out.

David’s exalted Lord

It is not a coincidence that Christ went on to ask the following question immediately after the scribe had said that Jesus had spoken correctly concerning there being only one Lord:

“And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, ‘How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared, “The Lord said to my Lord (eipen kyrios to kyrio mou), Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet.” David himself calls him Lord; so how is he his son?’ And the great throng heard him gladly.” Mark 12:35-37

Christ is quoting the following Psalm:

“A Psalm of David. Yahweh says to my Lord (Adoni): ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’ Yahweh sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day you lead your host upon the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning like dew your youth will come to you. Yahweh has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.’” Psalm 110:1-4

By referencing this particular text Jesus is demonstrating that the Hebrew Scriptures themselves testify that the one Lord whom the Israelites worship and profess is multi-personal!

We know that this is what Jesus intended to show from this citation since his point is that if the Messiah were merely a descendent of David then he could not be his Lord. After all, the Bible testifies that the kings of Israel/Judah all sat on Yahweh’s throne in the place of their ancestor David:

“Then David said to all the assembly, ‘Bless the LORD your God.’ And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads, and worshiped the LORD, and did obeisance to the king. And they performed sacrifices to the LORD, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the LORD, a thousand bulls, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel; and they ate and drank before the LORD on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for the LORD, and Zadok as priest. Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father; and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders and the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon. And the LORD gave Solomon great repute in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.” 1 Chronicles 29:20-25

The New Testament itself says that Jesus will rule on David’s throne as his Son:

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.’” Luke 1:30-33

Therefore, since the Messiah sits on David’s throne as his representative in fulfillment of the promises God made to his ancestor he cannot be David’s Lord if he were nothing more than a man. At the most he would only be equal in status to David.

We know that Jesus wasn’t denying that the Messiah is David’s Son since he accepts that designation for himself:

“And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” Mark 10:46-48

Moreover, the consistent testimony of the inspired Scriptures is that as far as his human nature is concerned Jesus is a physical offspring of David (cf. Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 1:27, 32-33; 3:23-33; Acts 2:29-30; Romans 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5; 7:14; Revelation 5:5; 22:16).

It is therefore certain that Jesus was seeking to establish that the Messiah is more than simply a human descendent of David.

This now leads us to the next part of our rebuttal.


(1) To further prove that the Jews believed that the Father alone was God the neophyte quotes the following verse:

“Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, “He is our God”?’” (John 8:54)

It is disturbing to see just how truly desperate Islamic apologists are and how far they will sink to distort the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.

The dawagandist failed to note that in this same chapter Jesus affirms that not only is he greater than the prophets but that he has always existed and came forth from the Father in heaven!

“He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’ They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Even what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge; but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ They did not understand that he spoke to them of the Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.’” John 8:23-28


“‘They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did. You do what your father did.’ They said to him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.’” John 8: 39-42


“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death.’ The Jews said to him, ‘Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, “If any one keeps my word, he will never taste death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you claim to be?’… ‘But you have not known him; I know him. If I said, I do not know him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I am.’ So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.” John 8:51-53, 55-59

Notice that in this last passage Jesus doesn’t correct the Jews by saying that they misunderstood his statement since he didn’t mean that he actually saw Abraham. Rather, Jesus goes on to explain how he being so young could have actually seen the patriarch who had died so many centuries ago; unlike Abraham who was created and therefore came into being Jesus has always existed! Thus, He who has always existed is infinitely greater than the one who was brought into being!

To put this another way so that the neophyte doesn’t miss it, the reason Jesus was able to see the patriarch is because unlike the latter who was created he has always been around even before the world existed!

“and now, Father, you glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” John 17:5

The dawagandist shouldn’t have a problem admitting that this is what John teaches since even a radically anti-Christian scholar like Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, whose books are mentioned by this same Muslim neophyte (*; *), admits that John’s Gospel expressly affirms that Jesus is fully God and equal with God the Father!

“Jesus does not preach about the future kingdom of God in John. The emphasis is on his identity, as seen in the ‘I am’ sayings. He is the one who can bring life-giving sustenance (‘I am the bread of life’ 6:35); he is the one who brings enlightenment (‘I am the light of the world’ 9:5); he is the only way to God (‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me’ 14:6). Belief in Jesus is the way to eternal salvation: ‘whoever believes in him may have eternal life' (3:36). He in fact is equal with God: ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30). His Jewish listeners appear to have known full well what he was saying; they immediately pick up stones to execute him for blasphemy.

“In one place in John, Jesus claims the name of God for himself, saying to his Jewish interlocutors, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8:58). Abraham, who lived 1,800 years earlier, was the father of the Jews, and Jesus is claiming to have existed before him. But he is claiming more than that. He is referring to a passage in the Hebrew Scriptures where God appears to Moses at the burning bush and commissions him to go to Pharaoh and seek the release of his people. Moses asks God what God's name is, so that he can inform his fellow Israelites which divinity has sent him. God replies, ‘I Am Who I Am ... say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you”’ (Exodus 3:14). So when Jesus says ‘I Am,’ in John 8:58, he is claiming the divine name for himself. Here again his Jewish hearers had no trouble understanding his meaning. Once more, out come the stones.” (Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We don't Know About Them) [HarperOne, March 3, 2009], Three. A Mass of Variant Views, p. 80; bold and underline emphasis ours)

And yet this dawagandist would have us believe otherwise!

The neophyte also overlooked the fact that Jesus’ statements expose Allah of the Quran as a false god and Muhammad as a false prophet. As the polemicist rightly noted, especially when he goes on to mention John 17:3, Jesus taught that his Father is the only true God and the One whom the Jews claimed was their God.

However, Muhammad taught that Allah is not a father and therefore has no sons or daughters. He even cursed anyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of Allah (cf. Q. 5:18; 9:30; 19:88-95; 21:26).

Hence, the very passages which the Muslim polemicist quoted with approval conclusively prove that, as far as the teaching of Christ is concerned, Muhammad’s Allah is a false god and that he himself was a false prophet!

Lest the dawagandist argue that the Quran is merely rejecting a carnal notion of sonship, e.g. Allah having children in a biological, procreative sense, we only need to remind him that Muhammad would have surely known what the Jews and Christians believed concerning the Fatherhood of God. He would have understood that they certainly didn’t mean that God was their Father in a carnal, biological sense, i.e., God had sex with a consort who bore him children. Yet Muhammad still rejected this belief and argued that the only way God could possibly have a son is if he had a wife (Q. 6:101). In making this argument Muhammad made a major blunder which is found in his scripture till this day (*).

The dawagandist further quotes John 4:21-23 to show that Jesus himself worshiped God the Father as if this somehow undermines Trinitarianism or overthrows the explicit witness of John to the eternal Divine nature of Christ! Here is the passage in question:

“‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’” John 4:20-24

To begin with it seems that the polemicist obviously forgot to read further into the text which identifies Jesus as the Savior of the world:

“So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’… Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’” John 4:28-29, 39-42

Jesus himself spoke of the Father sending him into the world to save it:

“No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son INTO the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:13-18

“If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” John 12:47

The propagandist also forgot that according to this same Gospel Jesus is the eternal Word who became flesh in order to perfectly carry out his Father’s will:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:1-4, 10, 14

“Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Has any one brought him food?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.’” John 4:31-34

“‘For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.’ … The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’” John 6:38, 41-42

“So Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; if any man's will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.’” John 7:16-18

“And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” John 8:29

In light of these statements what kind of human being would we expect Jesus to be? An atheist? A rebel sinner who fails or refuses to worship his God and Father? Or wouldn’t we expect to find him worshiping his Father perfectly seeing that he is the perfect human being, man as God intended man to be?

It must have further slipped the propagandist’s mind that it is this very same Gospel where Jesus demands to receive the same exact honor which the Father is supposed to receive:

“Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, EVEN AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23

Since Jesus has already stated in the previous chapter that the Father demands that the true followers worship him in spirit and truth this means that all true believers are also required to worship the Son in spirit and truth; otherwise they will be failing to give the Son the same honor that they give to the Father.

This, perhaps, explains why the only other time the Greek word for worship that appears in chapter 4 is used by John it is in relation to Jesus being worshiped by a blind man whom he has just healed:

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe’; and he worshipped him.” John 9:35-38

It seems certain that John wanted to show from this incident that Jesus receives the same honor that the Father does.

Moreover, recall that according to the dawagandist the scribe in Mark 12:28-34 would have worshiped Jesus if he believed he was God. Therefore, if he is going to be consistent (which we are certain that he will not) he must concede that the blind man realized that Jesus is God since he worshiped him!

Finally, since Muslims do not worship the Father nor worship in spirit and truth this means that, according to the words of the Lord Jesus, they are false believers who are worshiping a false god whom the false prophet Muhammad tried to pass off as the true God of Abraham.

Therefore, all of these Biblical passages expose Muhammad as a fraud, or as the neophyte puts it in his article:

Mark 12:1-10, 28-37 + Mark 14:60-64 + John 8:51-59 + John 4:20-24 + John 5:22-23 + John 9:35-38 = The Destruction of Allah and Muhammad!

Islamic Monotheism is a lie which Muhammad uttered against the true God and should be rejected as the creation of a satanically oppressed deceiver.