Why Jesus did not Say, “I am God” ?
It has always been argued that Jesus Christ should have explicitly declared his deity if he was any. To this common query, Trinitarians basically argue that if Jesus Christ would have declared his deity then masses would have “confused” themselves in recognizing the person of Father and son distinctly.
Rather than giving any concrete explanation as to how and why people would confuse between the persons of Father and son, Trinitarians compare some titles which Jesus Christ was given in the New Testament to argue for his deity! On one particular instance a Christian named Keith Thompson wrote a typical response,“Is Asking “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am God’” a Good Argument?
Thompson wa responded covering arguments directly related to the topic nevertheless, he complained in his recent publication that his “main arguments” were ignored.
Therefore, in this response it is analyzed how viable it is to argue that people would have been led into “confusion” of differentiating between the persons of Father and son if Jesus Christ would have explicitly declared his deity. Besides, we would also consider standard New Testament verses which are overused to impute divinity upon Christ.
Cliché Old “Confusion” Theory
As we introduced that it is standard Trinitarian argument to claim that multitudes would have confused between the different persons of Father and son had Jesus Christ declared his deity! Here is the same argument in Thompson’s words:
The problem is that if Jesus were to come out and say “I am God” without clearly and forcefully establishing his personal distinction from the Father, and His deity in relation to that fact, people would think He was claiming to be the same person as the Father. This is because God was used primarily in reference to the Father and virtually served as His proper name. In other words, to come out and say “I am God” instead of first establishing His distinction from the Father, would lead His followers into thinking He was making himself out to be the Father in heaven.(1) This is why Jesus didn’t just walk around saying “I am God” as the critics, monotheists demand.
If Trinitarian brand of Christianity was “the” divine religion meant for humanity then every prophet of the Old Testament came, besides other things, to explain the status of Jesus Christ as god himself! They would have definitely expounded that Jesus is the second god-person in the trinity besides Father and Holy Ghost. Under this consideration, it is hard to assume that, “if Jesus were to come out and say “I am God” without clearly and forcefully establishing his personal distinction from the Father, and His deity in relation to that fact, people would think He was claiming to be the same person as the Father.”
Notice another point which Thompson wrote, “This is because God was used primarily in reference to the Father and virtually served as His proper name.” The simple query is, if after thousands of years of ministry by multiple Old Testament prophets, if Israelites yet believed and deemed only the “person” of Father with the title of “God” notwithstanding the Trinitarian philosophy of three divine persons then there is more reason to believe that neither prophets taught nor traditionally Israelites believed in any “triune” class of gods lest they would never reserve the term “God” for Father alone so much so that its usage by anybody other than Father, say, Jesus would confuse them between the separate identities of Father and Jesus !
In fact, traditionally Jews personalized the usage of term “God” only for Father because they had certain attributes recognized on God alone. For instance the criteria that God can never be seen:
“I will not let you see my face, because no one can see me and stay alive,” (Exodus 33:20)
Therefore, logically, if multiple Old Testament prophets really taught about any so called “triune” god(s) which included Jesus in it, then they definitely differentiated between the person of Father who could not be seen at any time as against son, who was visible at all times. Subsequently, any attempt to explain away that followers of Jesus could have been “confused” in differentiating the persons in the godhead is mere Trinitarian desperation because based on the attributes it was really very simple job to recognize and differentiate the “persons” in godhead (of course, provided if there was any concept of “persons” and “godheads”).
The dire desperation of Thompson further gets magnified when he made “explanation” like,
In other words, to come out and say “I am God” instead of first establishing His distinction from the Father, would lead His followers into thinking He was making himself out to be the Father in heaven.
Notice Thompson rightly used the very important word “first” but never implemented it when considering deity of Jesus Christ! That is, how difficult was it for Jesus to “first” expound the difference between his “person” and the person of Father and then claim that he is god – the second amongst the three. However he never did so – not even after his alleged resurrection when he came to meet his disciples. We believe that if at all the concept of “triune” god was viable and warranted then post-resurrection appearance was the most ripe time for Jesus Christ to “walk around saying “I am God” as the Critics demand.” Unfortunately for Trinitarians, Jesus again disappointed.
Furthermore, by relying on confusion-theory, Thompson is inadvertently giving no credit to the disciples of Jesus; it is because, let us assume that most Israelites would have misconstrued Jesus’ identity, but this cannot be extended to the immediate disciples who were under his direct tutelage, spending most of their time with him in ministry. Thus Jesus must have at least worded his identity to his disciples without any vulnerability of their being “confused”.
From the preceding, does it not imply that Thompson is taking undue liberty of disparaging the intellectual standards of multitudes of Jesus’ time. It is because on what basis can Thompson assume that masses could have been led to confusion if Jesus would have explicitly declared his deity? Did Jesus Christ ever inform so? Or did Holy Ghost reveal so anywhere? What if masses were matured enough intellectually to comprehend Jesus’ declaration about himself. Therefore, it is recklessly unwarranted to impress on masses that they all (included disciples) had cluttered mind. Even more so when Thompson accepts, as we would see shortly, that “many” Jews already recognized a separate divine god distinct from the person of Father!
To further analyze the viability of Thompson’s argument, let us take the examination to the next level. We have been dealing with humans who, as per Thompson, were vulnerable to the confusion between the persons of Father and son. So, we would now consider a very intriguing (if not embarrassing) incident from the New Testament where Jesus Christ interacts with a non-human being – Satan. Consider the following New Testament account:
Then the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their greatness. “All this I will give you,” the Devil said, “if you kneel down and worship me.” Then Jesus answered;
“Go away, Satan! The scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!‘ “(Matthew 4:8-10)
Notwithstanding the bizarre audacity which mere Satan had against the very god of Trinitarian(s), we need to notice that it required Jesus Christ to “worship” Satan!! Now, if Jesus Christ was really a God then this was one of those opportune moments where he could have asserted his deity on Satan by explicitly claiming something like: “Go away Satan! You should worship me and serve only me since I created you; I am the Lord your God!” If Jesus Christ would have claimed anything of this sort then, firstly, it would have certainly shut Critics once and for all and, secondly, it would have also taught Satan that besides Father, Jesus Christ was also his god and as such he should not have the temerity to ask god-almighty to “worship” him!
Observe we said that it was an opportune moment for Jesus Christ to declare his deity explicitly on Satan. It is because, if we concentrate on the sentence construction of Satan, he asked Jesus Christ to worship him in the first person, notice: “All this I will give you,” the Devil said, “if you kneel down and worship me.”. Therefore, Jesus Christ should have taken the situation to remind Satan in the first person that it was he who created him and thus, Satan should kneel down and worship him [Jesus (p)].
However, Jesus Christ never did so. He deflected the matter to some third person. There can be either of the two reasons: Either :
(i) Jesus Christ was not divine or
(ii) He did not want to “confuse” the poor little Satan into blurring the difference between the so-called “person” of Father and son as Thompson explains!
We think Trinitarians like Thompson would choose the second option for their defense of Jesus’ deity!
Finally, if Thompson really wants us to consider his confusion theory seriously then he should address the following issues:
1) Why should we doubt the preaching of multiple prophets down through the ages if they were really teaching about any “triune” god concept? It is naturally expected that they must have clarified the different persons in the godhead while, presumably, teaching “triune” gods and thus, the confusion theory is not really viable.
2) Even if we assume that Old Testament prophets did not clarify the difference between the persons of Jesus Christ and Father yet, while in his ministry, Jesus Christ could have differentiated it very precisely and then declared his deity. This never happened – we expect Thompson to address this.
3) At least in the post-crucifixion appearance Jesus Christ could have taken the liberty to introduce himself as the second god-person amongst the three. Surprisingly, even this did not happen!
4) Thompson should address why he has no confidence on at least the immediate disciples of Jesus Christ wherein Jesus Christ could have at least declared his deity explicitly to them. As close disciples they should have at least not “misunderstood” the “person” of Jesus Christ with Father.
5) Finally, why did Jesus Christ shy away from asserting his deity on Satan explicitly; wasting the situation where Satan challenged Jesus Christ – the very second god-person of Trinitarians – to worship itself in the first person. Was Jesus Christ concerned about Satan’s confusion into recognizing the persons of Father and son distinctly!?
Thus, there were more than just one opportunity where Jesus’ identity as god could have been declared without any scintilla of “confusions” between him and Father.
Consequently in the absence of clear and explicit declaration of Jesus’ deity, Thompson has no other alternative other than manufacture weak aegis of confusion theory under which he can sell the complex and very costly philosophy of Trinity.
Rather than inventing escape clauses, Thompson and other Christians should come to terms with the fact that Jesus Christ never declared himself to be god since he had no warrant of doing so:
“And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. You know what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For You know in full all that is hidden.”(Qur’an 5:116, Yusuf Ali’s Quran Translation)
Thompson tried to support the “confusion” theory with the so-called divine “I am” title which is applied to Jesus Christ. However rather than doing any good, as we would see, it further proves our point that there was just no room that masses of people could have been led into confusion (!):
For instance, Jesus applied an Old Testament title “I Am” to himself, which is significant since he was basically making himself out to be the OT figure known as the Angel of the Lord, the “I Am” of Exodus 3:14! There were many different Jewish strands at that time that already maintained that this figure was God and yet distinct from God.(2) Thus, by using the title “I Am” Jesus was affirming both His deity as well as His distinction from the Father since in the Old Testament “I Am” was applied to both God (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:13, Exodus 3:14) and the prophet e Lord (John 8:28, 58). One needs to understand inter-testimental Jewish thinking in order to understand these issues properly. Without this pre-Christian Jewish backdrop in mind Critics will be unable to understand why Jesus did what He did and said the things He said.
In summary, although Christ didn’t say “I am God” without qualification, which would have led people to think he was the Father, he did apply numerous Old Testament titles of God to Himself while going out of his way to affirm that He is not the Father.
Observe carefully that Thompson, on one hand, readily accepts that “many” Jews “already” recognized a deity other than and distinct from God, i.e., Father. According to Thompson this separate god was recognized as the “angel of Lord”. So far so good!
Nevertheless the problem then begins since Thompson, on the other hand, contradictorily goes on to argue that if Jesus Christ would have explicitly declared his deity it would have “confused” the Jews into diminishing the separate identities of Father and son!?
The obvious point is, if Jews really did recognized a distinct god besides God – The Father then there is no basis for the theory that Jews would be “confused” upon Jesus’ explicit declaration about his deity!? In fact, on the contrary, Jewish faith should have been further bolstered in Jesus’ deity simply because the Jews already recognized a distinct person in the godhead besides Father! Or their faith should have at least grown on the issue that this man Jesus Christ is claiming to be the same “divine Angel of Lord” which we now for ages. Therefore, unlike as Thompson wants to portray, “many” Jews recognizing multiple (?) divine persons should have helped them recognize deity of Jesus Christ!
Without realizing the flimsy state of his argument to our fundamental query, Thompson proceeded to produce other popular New Testament verses which impute Jesus Christ with “titles”; In the process he also claimed that we neglected his “main” argument. In the following passages let us look at Thompson’s “main” argument:
DNST’s Failure to Address my Main Argument
Amazingly, in his article DNST didn’t address the issue of these divine Old Testament titles being applied to Christ in the New Testament at all. He didn’t dispute the fact that these were titles God used for Himself to establish His own unique deity which were also applied to Christ. No adequate explanation of this phenomenon was given by DNST. Instead he asserts that these are “cliché Christian arguments” and moves on, which shows that he could not deal with the central argument and chose to resort to ridicule, dismissal and mere assertion. This is not how you engage in reasonable and honest apologetics.
DNST took the route of ignoring my argument and once again tried to defend the position that if Jesus was God He would have said the three words “I am God.” He also tried to argue that there are texts which show Jesus isn’t God in the New Testament. However, his arguments literally are cliché Muslim arguments which I will refute. After I refute his specious reasoning and arguments, he will then need to deal with these numerous Old Testament titles of God that are applied to Christ in the New Testament.
[Side Note: There is something amazing with these people at answering-islam. They keep coining new names for people whom they “love”, for instance, Thompson now calls me “DNST”. That’s the new “Christ-like” vogue this Christmas, I assume.]
Very soon we will come to Thompson’s “main” argument but before that we would further check if Thompson’s own rationale (in the above quoted passage) would stand any further scrutiny.
Note that Thompson clearly wants to argue that same Old Testament “divine” titles of Father were given to Jesus Christ, but:
1) How does Thompson confirm that applying titles of Old Testament deity which was “primarily” used for the person of Father (confirmed by Thompson as well) would not further confuse Jews into blurring the difference of person of Father and son!? After all we are using the same titles for Jesus Christ as was used for Father in the Old Testament!
How logical is it that if Jesus Christ refers to himself as “alpha and omega” (say) then it would not confuse the Jewish mass – they would be crystal clear about this construct; whereas, if he merely refers himself as “god” then Jews would, all of a sudden confuse between the persons of Father and himself. This inconsistency is further magnified in the light of the following two premises:
- a) The title “god” with all its imports was a much simpler term for Jews to understand than “alpha and omega”, even more so, when allegedly the same title – alpha and omega – was also used for God-The Father. If the term god “confuses” then “alpha and omega” or any other (indirect) title must “confuse” even more intensely!
- b) We already know as Thompson informed that “There were many different Jewish strands at that time that already maintained that this figure was God and yet distinct from God” Therefore, if “many” Jews already knew that there is a separate “divine” person besides Father then there was definitely no room for them to confuse on Jesus’ declaration about his divinity with the person of Father.
2) On the foregoing, from a Trinitarian perspective, the “triune” gods of Old Testament were using titles and explicit declaration about themselves. Trinitarians would argue that traditionally Jews accepted triune gods which must have included Messiah in it. Therefore, they must have recognized him as a deity. Subsequently, it is straw-man argument to claim that Jews would confuse with explicit declaration but will not confuse if Jesus Christ used titles from Old Testament!
Now coming to Thompson’s “main” argument that Jesus Christ applied divine titles of Old Testament upon himself. We believe that rather than doing any good, it further jeopardizes the “monotheism”, if any, of Trinitarian brand of Christianity. It is because Bible rampantly recommends multiple Old Testament figures to take divine titles of Yahweh.
For instance, Old Testament uses the Hebrew term “adonay”, meaning Lord, for Yahweh:
“All nations whom You have made Shall come and worship (wayishtahawu) before You, O Lord (adonay), And shall glorify (wikabbadu) Your name.” Psalm 86:9
Yet it also refers to prophets with the same title “adonay”:
“So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord (adonayik), worship Him (wahishtahawilow)… I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever. Psalm 45:11, 17
This is merely one instance, please refer to the following paper for a fuller investigation of the biblical “monotheism” as it not merely uses same title of God for mere prophets but it also requires to “worship” them alongside Yahweh, pay them the same reverence as Yahweh, share Yahweh’s throne and finally to take mere church figures as “lord” him-selves and their words at par with Old Testament commandments:
John 5:23 – The Sweetest Trinitarian Honey! Visiting the darling Trinitarian argument from a neutral perspective
If it is understood that there was no room for Jews to be “confused” if Jesus Christ explicitly declared his deity, then, the initial query still stands: Why did not Jesus Christ declare himself to be god explicitly?
Bunch of verses revolving around the banal argument that Jesus Christ shared “divine Old Testament titles” are yet to be dealt with which we propose to do in the final installment of this brief series
In the last part of this response we addressed to Keith Thompson’s explanation wherein he argued that Jesus Christ did not explicitly claimed himself to be God because it would have confused masses into diminishing the distinct difference between the person of Father and son. We saw there were a number of issues with regards to this flimsy argument.
However, Thompson also “explained” that there was no real need for Jesus Christ to claim his deity the way Critics demand since New Testament applies “divine Old Testament titles” on him. Therefore, in this final part we would consider all the New Testament “verses” Thompson has to offer presumably acknowledging his desperate situation of absence of Jesus’ explicit declaration.
“Divine” Titles of Jesus Christ:
John 20: 28-29
Thompson argued as follows:
“John 20:28-29 Ignored Since it Refutes DNST
Notice what DNST didn’t address in his paper. He didn’t address how I argued that in John 20:28-29 Jesus blessed Thomas after he identified Him as his Lord and God.
“Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”” (John 20:28-29)
This was after everyone knew Jesus was not the same person as the Father and so Jesus could now affirm that he was God. At this point in the disciples’ experience they would have properly understood what it meant for Christ to also be called theos. By blessing Thomas’ confession of faith in Him as His Lord and God, this is the equivalent of Jesus identifying Himself as the Lord God, the very thing DNST demands of Jesus. But of course DNST failed to address Jesus affirming that He is Lord and God in this text and simply brushed it aside.”
We did neglect John 20:28-29 since our main contention was Jesus Christ himself declaring his deity and not somebody else doing the favors for this “god-almighty” – Thompson needs to get this construct clear! We argued very clearly in our original paper (and ironically Thompson quoted us as well) that declaring Himself explicitly as God “has always been an insignia of traditional Judeo-Christian God” so Jesus Christ must be consistent with his Old Testament counterpart!
On the foregoing, if some set of people declare Jesus Christ to be god then there are others, in the same pages of New Testament, who claim him to be a liar and elsewhere even insinuate at the legality of his birth! His own kith and kin declared him to be “mad” and even “demon possessed”:
John 10:20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane! Why do you listen to him?”
We hope Thompson now seriously reconsider if somebody else declaring things about Jesus Christ really matters!?
Furthermore, we are not very amazed how Trinitarians could twist their own religious texts to suit their deviated agenda since James White – a Trinitarian – also uses the same verse towards deifying Jesus Christ. We had a dedicated response to White dealing with John 20: 28-29 and its mishandling by Trinitarian apologists.
In that paper we discussed at length (i) how the context has been abused (ii) semantics twisted yet (iii) all it proved, if it proved, that Thomas just did not believe or accepted Jesus’ deity all throughout his ministry and even after his alleged crucifixion until he had to physically make post-resurrection appearance to him! All of this is documented in the following article:
The Forgotten Monotheism
Nevertheless, for the sake of completeness of this response, we would summarize the arguments from the above paper.
When Jesus Christ made his post – resurrection appearance to the disciples except Thomas (who was then absent in the scene) they all believed. When this information was given to Thomas he outright declined to believe in it with an eccentric condition that until and unless he puts his fingers in the wounds of Jesus Christ he would not believe in his resurrection.
Subsequently, Jesus Christ made a special errand to Thomas to assuage him his disbelief in post – resurrection phenomenon. Consequently, when Thomas was confirmed about Jesus’ resurrection, he exclaimed “My Lord, My God” upon which Jesus Christ confirmed his true belief in the resurrection which was hitherto absent. So, the stress of Jesus’ ratification was on Thomas’ belief in resurrection phenomenon rather than on Jesus’ deity.
On the foregoing, if we assume that Jesus Christ confirmed Thomas for his belief in his deity then we would have to agree that hitherto Thomas did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ since Thomas unequivocally declared that he would not believe unless he himself experiences the wounds of Jesus Christ! Consequently, we would have a situation where the earliest apostles (plural) did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ until his post-resurrection appearance even though they were moving with him day and night!
John 5:19, 30
In our original response we proposed insufficiency of Jesus’ declaration of his deity in conjunction John 5: 19 and 30 which show his definite limitations to be God-Almighty.
Thompson has the following to respond about John 5:30 (we would take John 5: 19 subsequently):
I will briefly say that although DNST’s Good News Edition translation of John 5:30 says “I can do nothing on my own authority” there is no “on my own authority” in the original Greek text.
The Greek reads Ou (not) dynamai (am able) egō (I) poiein (to do) ap’ (from) emautou (myself) ouden (nothing). Literal translation:
“I am not able to do anything from myself.” Hence, Christ is simply saying that he can’t do anything separately (“of myself”) from the Father. This is what Christianity has always taught. Like I said in the other article, Critics want to see limitation of Christ in these texts, but what is actually being communicated is the perfect unity and communion between the Father and Son, as well as their mutual interdependence. Jesus doesn’t act independently from the Father because He and the Father are in perfect union. Therefore, it is impossible for Him to act apart from the Father or contrary to His will. This was Christ’s point. His point wasn’t inability, but a refutation of the implicit assumption of His claiming to be an independent deity in competition with the Father, since the Jews thought that he was claiming to have equal authority with the Father as some independent being who chose to exercise it apart from the will of the Father (cf. John 5:16-18).
I would therefore exhort my friend DNST to remove his biases when reading these texts. In the other article I showed all of the proof for Jesus’ deity in John 5 which should make everyone wonder why critical apologists isolate 5:19, 30-31 when the totality of the chapter refutes their position and demonstrates that Christ is God (see John 5:15-18, 22-23, 25-26, 28-29).
Although Thompson is desperately trying to somehow “explain” that the quoted verses do not show Jesus’ impotency as God, however, the very next phrases clarify the issue that Jesus Christ was definitely portraying his limitation with respect to the boundlessness of God. Consider Jesus’ statement:
“I can do nothing on my own authority; I judge only as God tells me, so my judgment is right, because I am not trying to do what I want, but only what he who sent me wants. (Good News Edition)
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (King James Version)
I am not able of myself to do anything; according as I hear I judge, and my judgment is righteous, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me. (1898 Young’s Literal Translation)
Observe the construct of the verse and contrast it with Thompson’s explanation. The semantics of the verse clearly qualifies Jesus’ impotency because he was dependent on his basic source – God. He was unable to judge since judgments were to be supernaturally communicated to him, so that he could “hear” them and execute accordingly.
Furthermore, he was still impotent since Jesus Christ just did not had any will of his own; rather, the decree of Father dominated in his proceedings. Therefore, in all of these we do not find any sense of Jesus Christ and Father working in any sort of “perfect union”, on the contrary, we definitely find Jesus Christ subservient to the decrees adjudged by Father. No wonder Jesus Christ explicitly claimed “…because I am not trying to do what I want”.
We can further decide Jesus’ impotency as against his “perfect union” with God by looking at other New Testament verses of the order. For instance, consider the incidence where the wife of Zebedee demanded Jesus Christ to honor his sons by allowing them the privileged status beside him on the occasion of his second return:
“Then the wife of Zebedee came to Jesus with her two sons, bowed before him, and asked him a favour. “What do you want?” Jesus asked her. She answered, “Promise me that these two sons of mine will sit at you right and your left when you are King.” You don’t know what you are asking for,” Jesus answered the sons. “Can you drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?” “We can,” they answered. “You will indeed drink from my cup,” Jesus told them, “but I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. These places belong to those for whom my Father has prepared them.”(Matthew 20:20-23)
Notice the reply Jesus Christ gave. He clearly evinced his impotency into choosing persons for the privileged place by his side. He referred uniquely to the person of Father and attributed that only He has the divine authority to choose men for that position. Observe how Jesus Christ went out of the “Trinitarian” way to humbly claim that he does not has the right to choose! Think about it, which “God” would tell His worshiper I do not have the right to accept your petition!?
Therefore, if Jesus Christ was co-equal with Father, in any sort of “perfect union”, then he would have never confessed that he does not has the right to choose but only Father has it.
Similarly, consider another instance where Jesus Christ denies his co-equality and subsequently “perfect union” theory:
“No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come – neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows.” ( Matthew 24:36)
Notice how Jesus Christ is qualifying his declaration that “No one knows” about the end of time except the person of Father. Jesus Christ even denied his self from the prized piece of information reserving the same only to the person of Father. Thus, if Jesus Christ and Father really worked in “perfect union” then Jesus Christ as co-god must have known the information!
It is also very important to note the construct of Jesus’ statement. He recognizes his self as “Son” with respect to “Father”. According to standard Trinitarian position Jesus Christ was/is the divine son of divine Father, therefore, by referring himself as “Son” in conjunction with Father, Jesus Christ certainly declares that his divine self is also devoid of the knowledge of the hour. Therefore, it is certainly unwarranted to assume that Jesus Christ was in any sort of “perfect union” and “communion” with God at par with Him; rather he was definitely subservient to God-Almighty and lesser in efficiency than Him.
Finally we have an instance where Jesus Christ certainly displays emotions which are more than just subservient to God-Almighty. Consider the following passage:
“He went a little farther on, threw himself face downwards on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.” (Matthew;26:39)
According to Pauline theology crucifixion is the base of Christianity as such if there was any so-called “perfect union” between Jesus Christ and God then it should have reached its pinnacle with respect to its implementation when planning about the alleged crucifixion phenomenon. Yet exactly at the event, Jesus Christ expresses emotions which not only shows his limitations not befitting to “God” but also establishes his ignorance of the original plan he made with Father purportedly in “perfect union” with Him!
Subsequently, all the above three instances indicate that :
(i) Jesus Christ was depended on Father but the reverse is never observed
(ii) he was limited in his information certainly notwithstanding the “perfect union” theory!
It would be very interesting to quote Dr. Lightfoot – a well respected biblical scholar – for his views on John 5:30.
Dr. Lightfoot compares Jesus’ inability of making judgments on his own with the prevailing tradition of referring to the Sanhedrin:
[As I hear, I judge.] He seems to allude to a custom amongst them. The judge of an inferior court, if he doubts in any matter, goes up to Jerusalem and takes the determination of the Sanhedrim; and according to that he judgeth. (John 5:30, John Lightfoot Commentary)
Observe how Jesus Christ is compared to any limited mortal judge who when in “doubts” refers the matter to a more knowledgeable and more efficient source – the Sanhedrim. Similarly, when in need for consistent and just decision, Jesus Christ inclines towards his greater source – the God and “hears” the same from Him.
On one hand where it is perfectly legal for a prophet Jesus Christ to refer to God for judgments, nevertheless, it horribly goes wrong when the divine Jesus, who supposedly works in “perfect union” with God, refers Him for judgments!
Let alone proving Jesus Christ working in divine sync with Father, the above comment establishes that Jesus Christ was even vulnerable to erroneous judgments thus he needed help of his Sanhedrin – Father.
Thompson also made a lot of hue and cry regarding our appeal to John 5:19. Here is what he had to say:
Although critics of Trinity like to also quote Jesus in John 5:19 saying “the Son can do nothing of Himself”, which is again a statement of unity and perfect harmony with the Father as opposed to limitation, why is it that the Critics never explain the rest of the verse which says “whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise”? Why cite a half of a verse to try to disprove Jesus’ deity when the rest of the verse demonstrates that Jesus does and can do everything God does?
We have just seen the weakness in the theory of Jesus’ “unity and perfect harmony” with Father. Therefore, now we would concentrate on Thompson’s claim that: Jesus Christ can do whatever Father does:
Actually, this standard argument was already addressed when we responded to Sam Shamoun, therefore, we would briefly respond Thompson here and link to our response.
Recall we already saw a few New Testament verses where:
(i) Jesus Christ even as the divine Son of God did not know the exact specification of end time.
(ii) Nobody, including Jesus Christ, but Father had authority to decide who would sit beside Jesus Christ on his return.
(iii) Dreaded by the tribulations of crucifixion, Jesus Christ – “the” god – kissed dust to plead Father to obviate it notwithstanding the fable that he self planned with Father in “perfect union”.
Therefore, it is just a flamboyant albeit hollow claim to assert that Jesus Christ could do “everything” Father could. As a matter of truth, to claim such a notion is to misrepresent what Jesus Christ actually wanted to intend:
In the context of John 5:19, Jews imputed Jesus Christ for breaking the Sabbath regulations when in reality Jesus Christ was breaking the man-made (or Rabbi made) exacting rules weaved in the name of Sabbath. He explained through multiple examples that it is perfectly permissible to help the needy even though Sabbath seemingly prohibits it; because, Father does not stop with His providences even on the Sabbath day. It was under this context Jesus Christ asserted,
“So Jesus answered them, “I am telling you the truth: the Son can do nothing of his own; he does only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” (John 5:19-20)
Son “sees” Father helping the sufferers even on the Sabbath day and therefore, he also, likewise, tries to help the needy on the Sabbath and likewise teaches his disciples also to do so. By seemingly breaking the plastic rules around Sabbath, Jesus Christ wanted to teach that Sabbath was initially institutionalized for upright living of Israelites. It was never intended to push patients to their graves in the name of observing Sabbath rulings (1.).
Thus, to claim that Jesus Christ equated himself with Father in doing all things is to neglect the fact that Jesus Christ wanted to set an example for everyone to follow – the positive modus operandi of Father on the issues of Sabbath and its rulings about suffering people. Bible expositor Robertson’s ratifies the same:
But what he seeth the Father doing (an mē ti blepēi ton patera poiounta). Rather, “unless he sees the Father doing something.” Negative condition (an mē = ean mē, if not, unless) of third class with present (habit) subjunctive (blepēi) and present active participle (poiounta). It is a supreme example of a son copying the spirit and work of a father. In his work on earth the Son sees continually what the Father is doing. In healing this poor man he was doing what the Father wishes him to do. (Robertson’s Word Pictures, John 5:19)
Another noted Bible commentator John Wesley further explains that Jesus Christ merely followed the positive example of Father:
“The Son can do nothing of himself – This is not his imperfection, but his glory, resulting from his eternal, intimate, indissoluble unity with the Father. Hence it is absolutely impossible, that the Son should judge, will, testify, or teach any thing without the Father, Joh5:30, &c; Joh 6:38; Joh 7:16; or that he should be known or believed on, separately from the Father. And he here defends his doing good every day, without intermission, by the example of his Father,from which he cannot depart: these doth the Son likewise – All these, and only these; seeing he and the Father are one.” (John 5:19, John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes)
In fact by claiming that whatever Father does, Son also does likewise – Jesus certainly proves his non-divinity since he implies working under the directions of Father. As Father allows helping on Sabbath likewise Jesus Christ makes it incumbent upon himself to also help on the Sabbath day. This is supported by renowned Trinitarian commentators like Matthew-Henry:
Secondly, The instances of it. He shows it:
1. In what he does communicate to him: He shows him all things that himself doth. The Father’s measures in making and ruling the world are shown to the Son, that he may take the same measures in framing and governing the church, which work was to be a duplicate of the work of creation and providence, and it is therefore called the world to come. He shows him all things ha autos poiei – which he does, that is, which the Son does, so it might be construed; all that the Son does is by DIRECTION from the Father; he shows him.
2. In what he will communicate; he will show him, that is, will appoint and direct him to do greater works than these. (1.) Works of greater power than the curing of the impotent man; for he should raise the dead, and should himself rise from the dead. By the power of nature, with the use of means, a disease may possibly in time be cured; but nature can never, by the use of any means, in any time raise the dead. (2.) Works of greater authority than warranting the man to carry his bed on the sabbath day. They thought this a daring attempt; but what was this to his abrogating the whole ceremonial law, and instituting new ordinances, which he would shortly do, “that you may marvel!” Now they looked upon his works with contempt and indignation, but he will shortly do that which they will look upon with amazement, Luk 7:16. Many are brought to marvel at Christ’s works, whereby he has the honour of them, who are not brought to believe, by which they would have the benefit of them. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 5: 17-30)
Thus, to argue from Jesus’ assertion that he claimed for himself equal potential with Father is a gauche distortion of the context and original intent of the verse.
Right after this argument, Thompson had the following to remark:
I submit that double standards must be employed because DNST cannot admit the truth about Christ as revealed in the New Testament. His Quran, which comes 600 years after the New Testament, will not permit him to accept what the Holy Bible clearly teaches and he is thereby forced to distort it. This is the major problem when it comes to Muslim apologists handling the Holy Bible.
However, after going through the above analysis we would like to re-frame the above passage:
I submit that double standards must be employed because Thompson cannot admit the truth about Christ as revealed in the New Testament. His Pauline epistles – none of whose originals are available and some of which are agreeably pseudonymous, which comes in the absence of Jesus Christ – will not permit him to accept what the Holy Bible clearly teaches and he is thereby forced to distort it. This is the major problem when it comes to Trinitarian apologists handling the Holy Bible.
Matthew 19: 16-17
We appealed to a passage from Matthew 19 wherein Jesus Christ forbade a rich man who mistakenly referred Jesus Christ as divinely “good”:
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (Mat 19:16-17, King James Version)
Thompson has very interesting response to it (!):
Nowhere in the text does Jesus deny that He is good, e.g. he doesn’t come right and say the words “I am not good so stop calling me that”. He asks why the rich young ruler calls Him good. There is a difference. And nowhere does Jesus deny that He is God. He says no one is good but God, which could easily be a 3rd person reference to Himself as I will argue.
Although Thompson alleges us of, “seeing things in this text which are not there” yet he commits the same error. Notice how Thompson is trying to distort the original import of Jesus’ statement of denial of divinity with, “He asks why the rich young ruler calls Him good.”
The import of Jesus’ sentence construct is very plain; through the counter rhetoric question (“why do you call me good?”) Jesus Christ wanted to inform the young man that only God is good in absolute sense and thus the young man ought to refer only God as good! Interestingly, Thompson quotes a certain scholar on this issue which ends up further bolstering our point:
As Stephan S. Short notes in the New International Bible Commentary:
“His approach to Jesus, however, was unbecomingly obsequious, for, in contravention of normal Jewish custom, he addressed Him as ‘Good Teacher’. Jesus rebuked him for this, reminding him that ‘good’ was a designation which was normally reserved for God, only God being good without qualification. Jesus was not hereby disclaiming being either ‘God’ or ‘good’, but was merely criticizing His being addressed thus by someone who clearly was completely unaware of His divine nature.”(4)
If it was customary for Jews to refer to only God as good and if Jesus Christ was forbidding and deflecting the attribute of goodness to God then certainly Jesus Christ was denying his deity. Therefore, when Thompson alleges that “And nowhere does Jesus deny that He is God” it certainly gets desperate in front of explicit verses.
If the foregoing is understood then let us reconsider Thompson’s following argument to check humor in it:
Nowhere in the text does Jesus deny that He is good, e.g. he doesn’t come right and say the words “I am not good so stop calling me that”. He asks why the rich young ruler calls Him good. There is a difference.
If we were to call Thompson as the president of America and he responds back by rightly saying, “Why callest thou me president? there is none president but one, that is, Obama” then according to Thompson’s Trinitarian logic he is not denying that he is president since he “doesn’t come right and say the words “I am not president so stop calling me that”!; according to Thompson’s logic he is merely asking why the questionnaire calls him president.
Or, may be Thompson is referring to himself in the “3rd person” after all who knows if the presidential post in White House also comprises of “three persons” just like Thompson’s Trinitarian criteria!
Further observe Thompsons’ forced interpretation that Jesus Christ through his statement that only God is good was referring in the third person to himself. However, the question to be asked is why would Jesus Christ refer to himself in third person? Why not first person? Even more so because hitherto Jesus was talking in the first person, “Why callest thou me good?
If Thompson is in any mind of repeating that rich man would have been “confused” between the person of son and Father then he needs to address at least the following two queries:
1) The young man was not referring Jesus Christ as good “God”. He merely referred Jesus Christ as good “Teacher”. Entire region knew that Jesus Christ was a teacher and a prophet. As such there was no real danger of confusing the person of Jesus Christ with person of Father.
2) Thompson had already declared that “many” Jews already knew about a certain divine person different from God. So, it can be assumed on fair grounds that the Jewish rich man must have also known about this (weird) phenomenon; yet Thompson claims that Jesus Christ felt a need to refer to himself as God in third person. It must be addressed that if Jews knew about different divine persons in the godhead then there was no real need for Jesus Christ to refer to himself indirectly in the “third person”.
It is also very important to note that even if Jesus Christ was really a god from a Trinitarian perspective or a good teacher; in either case, the rich man was correct in his referral and as such Jesus Christ had nothing to object! He could have tacitly accepted the label.
In fact, as Thompson was arguing earlier, that Jesus Christ “blessed” Thomas for his famous declaration; in the same way, Jesus Christ should have upheld rich man too for his declarations!? Ratified the rich young man and explained him the philosophies of Trinity. Would Thompson clarify the different reactions which Jesus Christ to rich young man and Thomas?
In the light of all of the above, the only reason why Jesus Christ forbade the rich man was because he was using a title applicable only to God-Almighty.
Thompson also responded to our appeal to John 17:3 the way a Trinitarian is expected to argue. However, we would certainly try to analyze its viability from a monotheistic and logical perspective. Consider Thompson’s response:
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3 KJV).
DNST concludes from this text that “Jesus Christ is portrayed as anybody but God.” However, although Christ identifies the Father as the only true God, it is important to highlight what Jesus did not say. He did not say that only the Father is the only true God.
And then to do some damage control Thompson quoted 1 John 5:20:
The same John who authored this Gospel authored the book of 1 John as well. And in 1 John 5:20 we see Jesus identified as “the true God”:
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true — even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
In all of the above the basic fact that Thompson neglected is that Jesus Christ was speaking in a strictly monotheistic setting. He well understood that there was only one God worthy of divinity and worship. Therefore, obviously there was no need that Jesus Christ would pander to any wild Trinitarian presupposition to redundantly qualify “that only the Father is the only true God”.
The basic logic flows like this:
God is ONLY One
Father is the “ONLY true God”
Therefore there is no real need to re-state that only Father is the only true God – this would have been redundant.
To clarify Thompson, the absurdity of his logic is like the following:
President of a United States is ONLY one.
Obama is the ONLY President.
Therefore it is Trinitarian desperation to claim, “only Obama is the only true President”.
As far as Thompson’s appeal to 1 John 5:20 is concerned then we would like to re-remind him that the query was where Jesus Christ claimed from his lips that he is God; what Thompson is showing are words of some John.
Yet John’s narrative does not quite help Thompson’s agenda since the subject of the phrases was not Jesus Christ but Father who commissioned Jesus Christ into this world, “…even in his Son Jesus Christ”.
In fact the attributes used in the phrases also refers explicitly to Father, “so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true — even in his Son Jesus Christ.”
Quite obviously the attribute “true” in the previous phrases was applicable to the person of Father when seen in conjunction with the phrase, “his Son…” and as such the forthcoming pronoun “He” must also refer to Father. As the following Bible scholar concurs:
This God the Father. Many, however, refer it to the Son. (1 John 5:20, Vincent’s Word Studies)
Albert Barnes gives further intriguing twist to the application of subject pronoun:
This is the true God – There has been much difference of opinion in regard to this important passage; whether it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, the immediate antecedent, or to a more remote antecedent – referring to God, as such. The question is of importance in its bearing on the doctrine of the divinity of the Saviour; for if it refers to him, it furnishes an unequivocal declaration that he is divine. The question is, whether John “meant” that it should be referred to him? Without going into an extended examination of the passage, the following considerations seem to me to make it morally certain that by the phrase “this is the true God,” etc., he did refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 John 5:20, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
In his capacity Barnes accepts the phrase to be referring to Jesus Christ, however, the important point he made that there is “much difference of opinion” with regards to the application of the phrase. There is sizeable number of scholars who argue that the phrase applies to God instead of Jesus Christ!
This makes us re-remind Thompson that we requested for an explicit unambiguous, undisputed assertion of Jesus’ deity from his lips. Unfortunately, all Thompson could muster was a vague claim made by some John, which even Trinitarian scholars dispute to be applicable on Jesus Christ!
In the process Thompson even accused us of using the biblical “verses” out of context since merely two verses later Jesus Christ is portrayed sharing divine honor of Father (!):
Those who consult the totality of Holy Scripture, instead of isolating verses out of context, accept the fact that the Father and the Son are both identified as the true God. The reason why in John 17:3 Jesus says that eternal life entails knowing the only true God and Christ is because, as the Protestant Reformer John Calvin notes: “…there is no other way in which God is known but in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the bright and lively image of Him.”(7) Moreover, two verses later in v. 5 Christ clearly affirms His pre-existent unique relationship with the Father wherein He shared in the Father’s glory:
“And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5).
Nevertheless, we are glad that Trinitarians like Thompson care for “totality of Holy Scripture” since a few verses further down in the same chapter we have Jesus Christ sharing the same “divine” honor with multiple mortals (!):
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” (King James (1611), John 17:21-22)
“I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you…I gave them the SAME GLORY you gave ME, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one:” (John;17:21-22)
No wonder Trinitarian scholars had variety of rather idolatrous interpretation to the above verse. According to John Wesley it was the honor of being the “only begotten” which Jesus Christ shared with his biblical disciples, remember that “only begotten” is a divine privilege upon Jesus Christ in Trinitarian Christianity:
John 17:22 The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them – The glory of the only begotten shines in all the sons of God. How great is the majesty of Christians. (John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, John 17:22)
And according to the famous classical exegetes Matthew-Henry, the honor was the honor of being at the right hand of God, in His heart, “as the (divine) redeemer of the world” (!):
Those that are given in common to all believers. The glory of being in covenant with the Father, and accepted of him, of being laid in his bosom, and designed for a place at his right hand, was the glory which the Father gave to the Redeemer, and he has confirmed it to the redeemed. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 17:20-23)
Therefore, if Thompson is really the one “who consult the totality of the Holy Scripture, instead of isolating verses out of context,accept the fact that the Father and the Son and other Mortals are all identified as the true God!” since, (i) Jesus Christ shares the same “divine” glory with his disciples which he allegedly had at pre-natal state of the world, (ii) he shares his exclusive position of being the only “begotten” of God and (iii) he even shares the prerogative of being at the right hand of God and his capacity of being the “redeemer” of this world!
We would definitely wait to observe how sincere Thompson is to his textual materials. For more on the issue of John 17:3, please refer to this article where we responded to Sam Shamoun his similar arguments.
We appealed to Matthew 6:9-13 wherein Jesus Christ is purportedly reported to teach his disciples how to pray. We highlighted that in the prayer, Jesus Christ exclusively pointed to the person of Father thereby conclusively implying that He alone was God recognized!
However, Thompson had the following to object:
Again we witness the repeated pattern of DNST seeing things in texts which are not really there. Nowhere in Matthew 6 does Jesus say to only pray to the Father or to only pray this one prayer. Since Jesus doesn’t indicate that this is the only prayer one must offer or that only the Father is to be prayed to, Jesus’ words must be taken as meaning that this is a “model” prayer or essential (not exclusive) “pattern for our devotions.”(8)
The problem with Thompson’s argument is that for some reason he presumes that Matthew 6 was the only text we quoted in the entire paper. In fact we quoted Matthew 6 in conjunction with multiple other biblical texts and based on the “totality” of all the verses we concluded that only Father is God.
For instance (i) in the light of John 17:3 – which was just one of the many quoted “verses” – we observed how Jesus Christ declared that the person called Father is the “only” true God (ii) we also saw how Jesus Christ honestly accepted his ignorance and thus limitation when (a) Wife of Zebedee wanted Jesus Christ to choose her sons as special disciples (b) Jesus Christ accepted his lack of knowledge of the final hour etc.
On the foregoing, when Jesus Christ identified the person of Father in the prayer of Matthew 6 without naming anybody else – we could deduce that he identified only Father as the divine God who should be requested for needs.
Thompson also tried to argue that Jesus Christ at other instance asked his disciples to pray to him:
This is confirmed by the fact that Jesus commanded His followers to pray to Him directly:
“If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
And this is why, after Christ’s resurrection, His earliest devoted followers didn’t hesitate to pray to Christ
Thompson quoted John 14:14 and only that verse; segregating it from the entire New Testament since in the context Jesus Christ explained his disciples why they need to request him. Consider the following contextual verses:
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:10-16, King James Version)
Notice in the very first place Jesus Christ declares that whatever supernatural he does are actually wrought by Father: “he [Father] doeth the works”. Therefore, when Jesus Christ asked his disciples to ask him, he indirectly implied that through him the requests would be re-directed to Father since he was ascending to Father: “I go unto my Father…And I will pray the Father”. Renowned Christian expositor Albert Barnes ratifies:
In my name – This is equivalent to saying on my account, or for my sake. If a man who has money in a bank authorizes us to draw it, we are said to do it in his name. If a son authorizes us to apply to his father for aid because we are his friends, we do it in the name of the son, and the favor will be bestowed on us from the regard which the parent has to his son, and through him to all his friends. So we are permitted to apply to God in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, because God is in him well pleased Mat 3:17, and because we are the friends of his Son HE answers our requests. Though we are undeserving, yet he loves us on account of his Son, and because he sees in us his image. No privilege is greater than that of approaching God in the name of his Son; no blessings of salvation can be conferred on any who do not come in his name.(Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, John 14:13)
Quite obviously Barnes, through the verse, is seeing Jesus Christ as the best means to “approach God”. This is far less than assuming Jesus Christ himself was god to be prayed.
Barnes has painted Jesus Christ as more of an intercessor than “God”-Almighty! No wonder majority of other Trinitarian scholars of Bible interpret the verse to mean Jesus’ intercessory capacity! Consider the following:
Because I go unto my Father – He would there intercede for them, and especially by his going to the Father the Holy Spirit would he sent down to attend them in their ministry, Joh 14:26, Joh 14:28; Joh16:7-14.
See Mat28:18. By his going to the Father is particularly denoted his exaltation to heaven, and his being placed as head over all things to his church, Eph1:20-23; Phi2:9-11. By his being exalted there the Holy Spirit was given Joh16:7, and by his power thus put forth the Gentiles were brought to hear and obey the gospel. (Albert Barnes)
Classical commentator duos Matthew-Henry also confess the same!
Whatever we ask in Christ’s name, that shall be for our good, and suitable to our state, he shall give it to us. To ask in Christ’s name, is to plead his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea. The gift of the Spirit is a fruit of Christ’s mediation, bought by his merit, and received by his intercession. The word used here, signifies an advocate, counsellor, monitor, and comforter. He would abide with the disciples to the end of time; his gifts and graces would encourage their hearts. The expressions used here and elsewhere, plainly denote a person, and the office itself includes all the Divine perfections. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed upon the disciples of Christ, and not on the world. This is the favour God bears to his chosen. As the source of holiness and happiness, the Holy Spirit will abide with every believer for ever. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, John 14: 12-17)
Note very carefully that Matthew Henry are Trinitarian commentators as such they do believe in the deity of Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ alongside Father (???) yet they at least do not (mis)use John 14:14 and related verses to prove any divinity for Jesus Christ, much unlike Thompson! For them, asking in Christ’s name “is to plead (God) his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea.”
The Truth of the matter is that except Thompson no Trinitarian scholar accepts that the subject verse proves Jesus’ deity. It is because all of them highlight the mere fact that asking Jesus Christ implies using his name for acceptance of their requests with Father. Consider the remarks of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown along with Adam Clarke respectively:
whatsoever ye … ask in my name — as Mediator.
that will I do — as Head and Lord of the kingdom of God. This comprehensive promise is emphatically repeated in Joh14:14. (John 14:13-14 Jamieson, Fausset and Brown)
…Christ only preached in Judea, and in the language only of that country; but the apostles preached through the most of the then known world, and in all the languages of all countries. But let it be remarked that all this was done by the power of Christ; and I think it still more natural to attribute the greater works to the greater number of conversions made under the apostles’ ministry. The reason which our Lord gives for this is worthy of deep attention: –
Because I go unto my Father – Where I shall be an Intercessor for you, that: – (John 14:12, Clarke)
Therefore, Thompson needs to be reminded that we did not enquire whether Jesus Christ has any intercessory role in Christianity or not. Our query is very clear: whether Jesus Christ explicitly declared himself to be God!? So, by appealing to John 14:14, Thompson has merely given a classical smokescreen which is understandable especially in absence of proofs.
Finally Thompson made typical argument by writing that Bible recognizes its God as Father but Islam does not recognize God as “Father” therefore God is a false God:
However, Muhammad taught that his god was nobody’s father, and he rejected the assertion of the Jews and Christians that they were the spiritual children of God and that God was their spiritual Father (cf. Surahs 5:18; 9:30; 19:88-93; 21:26).
Once again we do not think that we have any concern in the paper whether God could be called as “Father” or not. We request Thompson to kindly concentrate on the issue whether Jesus Christ explicitly declared himself to be God-Almighty?
In any case, Islam being the final form of monotheism for humanity obviated usage of any title for God which had any worldly and comparable parallels in the fleeting realm! Furthermore, since the term “Father” is associated to humans (animals) it has imports, which if misplaced, can have blasphemous implications not suitable to the identity of God. Thus, in the Shariah (divine regulations) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) – the last Shariah in the line – God circumvented any element of polytheism which could sneak into pure monotheism and corrupt it.
However, we do not necessarily see an objection if pre-Mohammad (peace be upon him) Shariahs had the permission of referring to God as “Father” given adequate care was taken not to breach monotheism in the imports and the usage of the word.
So when Qur’an denies Jews or Christians to be “spiritual” children of God in Qur’an 5:18 it merely implies that their moral and spiritual degradation level reached to such limits where they could not possibly be referred to as God’s children. In fact, New Testament chimes the same:
Here is the clear difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: those who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God’s children. (1 John 3:10)
How can one claim to be “God’s” children and yet worship the golden calf for instance or plot against God’s chosen men like John and Jesus Christ. Similarly, how can one possibly be called as God’s children when s/he worships Jesus Christ or his mother (may God be pleased with her)!
Therefore, when Qur’an denied people of the Book their right to be called as God’s children the stress was less on their calling God as Father than their calling themselves as upright children of God. New Testament further recorded Jesus Christ rebuking Jews for unjustly calling themselves as children of God – implying their uprightness – since, because of their iniquities they were abased to Satan’s children:
Jesus said to them, “If God really were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own authority, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my message. You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies. (John 8:42-44)
On the foregoing, we believe that Thompson was just dabbling at the few Qur’anic verses he could find somehow related to the issue. And as far as his dabble with Qur’an 9:30, 19:88-93 and 21:26 are concerned then in the text Qur’an is condemning the Jewish-Christian blasphemy of abusing God the filthiest for procreating like animals; And, thus, we do not really see an argument here because Thompson would accept that God is above siring infants and so he cannot be called as “Father” in that baser sense.
At this instant Thompson would appeal that the Jews and Christians never abused God by referring Him with the crude sense of the word “Father”.
It is understandable that as a monotheist Thompson does not allow God as a “physical being who sired through sexual procreation” since it does not behooves the divine attribute and nature of God; too animalistic for that reason. However, on what ground does he allows for Jesus Christ – his assumed “God” – being sired out of Mary’s womb or, answering natures call in a lavatory or, hanging “dead” on cross etc. How do these attributes settle square with “God”?
We began with the basic query that Jesus Christ not explicitly declaring his deity is a very valid intellectual query. We argued that if Jesus Christ was the same God of the Old Testament then he was very vocal therein for declaring his deity explicitly. As such he should have continued with his trait in the New Testament as well. However, contrary to this expected behavior, we find Jesus Christ shying away from declaring his divinity.
The standard response we got was that people would have led to a state of confusion if Jesus Christ would have declared his deity. Masses would then have confused themselves into blurring the difference between the so-called person of Father and person of son. Nevertheless, this weak theory does not address the following queries:
1. On what basis does Trinitarians disparage the efforts of multiple prophets down the centuries who, from a Trinitarian perspective, came to enlighten people just about the identity of Jesus Christ?
2. As per Thompson’s position, when masses had already recognized a “deity” separate and distinct from Father then why and how there remained any room for confusion between person of Father and divinity of Jesus Christ if the latter declared his deity explicitly?
3. We hope that at least the close disciples of Jesus Christ would have not “misunderstood” him had he declared his deity to them. He did not even do that!?
4. At least after his biblical death and subsequent resurrection, he could have declared his deity to masses or at least to his immediate disciples when he came to meet them in private and secured room.
5. Or, finally, even if we brush aside all of the above query, we still wonder how difficult was it for Jesus Christ to explicitly declare his deity with a simple added clause that “I am god, but distinct from Father, do not mix me with Him: I am god- the son”.
Such a construct would have not just taken care of the “confusion” factor but it would have also kept Jesus Christ in line with his Old Testament insignia where he was definitely roaming around freely declaring his deity explicitly.
And on top of all of this, such an explanation would have certainly given Critics no room to inquire the age old query that “Why did not Jesus Christ declare himself to be god explicitly?”
Who is afraid of “Consistency Test”?
Thompson had accused Critics of being inconsistent when enquiring Jesus’ explicit declaration of divinity. In the process he had a counter query. He wants us to show him where in the Qur’an Jesus Christ declared his Messiah-ship explicitly!
DNST offers two responses, one of which I already addressed (“I am God” being an Old Testament insignia of God). The other response to my argument is that DNST claims that Islam has “…God – a higher authority than Christ, testifying the Jesus Christ is Messiah.” He then cites S. 3:45 and 4:171 where Allah is reported to have identified Jesus as Christ or Messiah. However, this answer from DNST demonstrates my point. He can’t show Jesus Himself saying He is the Messiah in the Quran. The question was not does Allah, your higher authority, say this. The question is: Can you be consistent and give me the words of Jesus?
No, you can’t. We believe YHWH inspired words in the Old and New Testaments and so when you have an inspired human author like Luke, John or Paul identifying Christ as God, it is actually God identifying Christ as God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
So according to the orthodox view of the nature and inspiration of the Holy Bible, God has indeed confessed and identified his beloved Son to be God in essence. But that is not the issue. The issue is consistency. Monotheists demand that Jesus say “I am God” and reject everything else, yet they can’t even quote Jesus saying “I am the Messiah” once in the Quran! If the testimony of anyone other than Jesus is sufficient for Jesus’ Messiahship in the Quran, then to be consistent they have to accept the testimony of others as a sufficient basis for believing in the deity of Jesus. Moreover, there New Testament texts where the Father identifies Jesus as His Son:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 – cf. Matthew 17:5).
So according to DNST’s criteria, since a higher authority (the Father) affirmed Christ’s son-ship, he is bound to accept it. But DNST will still not accept Jesus’ son-ship. So why should anyone believe that he would accept Jesus’ deity if He said “I am God” or if the Father said “my Son is God”? Hence, DNST’s counter argument is merely a smokescreen since he can’t meet my challenge. My point still stands and until and unless Critics can be consistent and show that Jesus said “I am the Messiah” in the Quran, then logically they must cease using the “Where did Jesus say ‘I am God’” argument.
In the first place notice how conveniently Thompson had presumed that he has responded our query that it was God’s insignia in the Old Testament to explicitly declare his deity merely by throwing the “confusion” theory. However, we raised certain queries to this theory and expect Thompson to address them.
Secondly we are sorry to write but an insightful person like Thompson has badly misunderstood the logic behind asking for consistency. Consistency certainly means that something which has been declared earlier would remain the same throughout its usage. On the foregoing, when Jesus Christ purportedly in Old Testament was declaring His deity explicitly, to be consistent, he should declare his deity explicitly in the New Testament as well! In the same way before asking Critics for Jesus’ explicit declaration for his Messiah-ship, Thompson should show us where in Qur’an came prophets prior to Jesus Christ declaring themselves to be Messiahs explicitly and Jesus Christ did not follow the suite. Or, Thompson should show where in the Islamic scriptures did Jesus Christ came earlier declaring his messiah-ship explicitly but stopped doing so in the Qur’an. Surprisingly, we explicitly wrote this in our initial response which Thompson conveniently ignored. Here is a recap for Thompson:
Our second response is a rhetorical enquiry to Keith. Show us, in Islam, which individual(s) came before Jesus Christ proclaiming “I am Messiah!”? This is because, when Critics enquire Christians for Jesus’ statement, “I am God”- they ask it consistently under the light of Old Testament Scripture wherein God was frequently proclaiming “I am God” for Himself.
On the foregoing it is illogical and “scripturally weak” for Christians to claim that Critics need to produce the statement “I am Messiah” for Jesus Christ in the Qur’an.
Furthermore, when we argued that God had declared about the Messiah-ship of Jesus Christ we were still consistent since earlier God had positively declared about the prophetic office of a number of prophets! Ironically, we even wrote this in our initial response!
However, on the other hand, because we have had individuals before Jesus Christ who came from God claiming that they are prophets/messengers/apostles etc (c.f. Qur’an 7:104), therefore, we do have written record of Jesus Christ claiming such title(s) for himself:
“He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;” (Qur’an 19:30)
Therefore we request Keith and Christians to enquire consistent demands and, inshallah, Critics will produce it.
Therefore, just like God declared about the prophetic office of other prophets in the same way, consistently, He declared the Messiah-ship of Jesus Christ! So when Thompson argues,
Hence, DNST’s counter argument is merely a smokescreen since he can’t meet my challenge. My point still stands and until and unless Critics can be consistent and show that Jesus said “I am the Messiah” in the Quran, then logically they must cease using the “Where did Jesus say ‘I am God’” argument.
He misses the point that unlike the God of Old Testament who was regularly declaring Himself to be God explicitly we never had anybody (including Jesus (p)) earlier declaring himself to be Messiah thus there is no room for the Christian query that Jesus, “show that Jesus said “I am the Messiah” in the Quran”
(1.) For more on this issue please refer the following:
The Divinity Factory of Christian Apologists – Part-1
Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Good News Edition.
All emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.
The articles discussing the nature, behaviour and concept of Christ according to Christianity.
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