Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Addressing Paul Williams’ False Accusations Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We continue with our rebuttal.

Williams quotes the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee found in Luke 18:9-14 as a further illustration that a person is justified before God without the need for Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice. We will address this along with William’s blatant misuse of another of Jesus’ parables, which actually leads me to William’s next point.

Williams hopes that I will address his blatant distortion of Jesus’ parable of the wicked servant mentioned in Matthew 18:21-35. Since I do not want to disappoint Williams I will be more than happy to once again point out his highly selective sourcing and gross misapplication of Jesus’ teachings.

Let us first quote the context to highlight what Williams’ was unable to see for himself:

“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. FOR THIS REASON the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, “Pay back what you owe.” So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.’” Matthew 18:21-35

First, notice that the point of the parable is to illustrate to Peter the necessity of forgiving another just as God forgives our offenses against him. As the Apostle Paul puts it:

“Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” Romans 15:7

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

“bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:13

(Sidenote: Williams cannot object to our quoting Paul here to explain Jesus’ words since he himself refers to Paul’s instructions concerning the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 11 to explain away Jesus’ statements at the Last Supper (cf. Mark 14:22-25; Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:14-20). Hence, if this blessed Apostle is good enough for Williams to use against the Gospels then he has to accept the fact that his testimony is also reliable enough to quote in order to better understand the meaning of these same sources.)

As such, Jesus wasn’t intending to give a discourse on the nature of salvation, i.e. does God forgive apart from the atoning death of Christ, is salvation by grace through faith and repentance alone etc.? To, therefore, use this to disprove the centrality of Jesus’ vicarious death is simply misplaced since nothing in the parable addresses this issue and Williams is essentially arguing from silence.

This leads me to my second point. Had Williams bothered reading these Gospels in context, as opposed to dissecting them in order to pick only those texts which he assumes prove his case, he would have discovered that Jesus himself plainly taught that forgiveness of sins is based upon his sacrificial death:

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life A RANSOM for many.” Matthew 20:28

“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured FOR MANY FOR FORGIVENESS OF SINS.” Matthew 26:26-28

This helps us see that the reason why God can freely forgive sinners who turn to him is because of Jesus volunteering to offer his life on the cross as a ransom on behalf of everyone who would believe in him.

This also applies to Jesus’ parable in Luke 18 concerning the tax collector and the Pharisee, e.g. the reason why the tax collector could walk away justified before God is because of Christ’s work of redemption which gives God a basis to grant mercy and forgiveness to repentant sinners:

“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed IN HIS NAME to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’” Luke 24:44-48 – cf. 2:11; Acts 2:37-38; 3:26; 4:12; 5:31; 10:43; 13:23, 38-39; 16:30-31

Third, Williams failed to carefully reflect on Jesus’ words which come at the very conclusion of the story:

My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35

Jesus refers to God as his heavenly Father, something that he does quite often in this particular Gospel:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven… Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10, 19

“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” Matthew 16:15-17 – cf. 7:21; 10:32-33; 12:50; 15:13; 16:27; 18:14; 20:23; 25:34; 26:29, 39, 42, 53

He also told his followers that God was their Father as well:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 – cf. 5:16; 6:1, 4, 6, 8-9, 14-15, 18, 32; 7:11; 10:20, 29, 32-33; 13:43; 23:9

This is a point which puts Christ at odds with the teachings of Muhammad. According to William’s false prophet, Allah is a father to no one, and not only in a physical, procreative sense. Notice, for instance, Muhammad’s response to the Jews and Christians of his day telling him that they were the children of Allah:

And (both) the Jews and the Christians say: "We are the children of Allah and His loved ones." Say: "Why then does He punish you for your sins?" Nay, you are but human beings, of those He has created, He forgives whom He wills and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and to Him is the return (of all). S. 5:18 Hilali-Khan

He also censured Christians for believing that Jesus is God’s Son:

And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! S. 9:30 Pickthall

The Jews and Christians would have obviously explained to Muhammad what they meant that God was their Father or, in the case of Christians, that Jesus is the Son of God. They would have made it clear to him that they meant this in a purely spiritual manner since they did not believe that God was a material being with body-parts who could have sex with women if he wanted to. However, Muhammad still refused to embrace even this spiritual understanding of fatherhood since in his mind the only way his god could have offspring is through sexual intercourse:

The Originator of the heavens and the earth! How can He have a child, when there is for Him no consort, when He created all things and is Aware of all things? S. 6:101 Pickthall

Therefore, the very parable which Williams appeals to ends up actually proving that Allah is a false god, Muhammad is a false prophet, and Islam is a false religion!

Finally, Williams also fails to see that his gross misreading of Jesus’ parable ends up proving too much since it proves that Islam is a false religion (which it is but for other reasons) which has added other requirements and obligations besides that which Jesus said was necessary for obtaining salvation.

After all, if William’s interpretation of Jesus’ words were sound then that means there is no need for anyone to take shahadah (e.g., bearing witness that Allah is god and Muhammad is his messenger), pray five times a day, fast, give alms, perform pilgrimage, perform jihad etc., since according to Jesus’ parables all one has to do is simply ask God for forgiveness and that’s it!

In light of this, one is left wondering why in the world would Williams decide to become a Muslim when doing so meant that he would have to go against the explicit teachings of Jesus’ parables? It seems obvious that Williams himself doesn’t buy his own distorted readings of the Scriptures since he would have never become a Muslim if he did!

Williams also briefly alludes to the Lord’s Prayer to support his view, which I have already thoroughly addressed in a previous rebuttal, to which Williams has offered no reply as of yet.

This ends the second part of my rebuttal. Please continue to Part 3.