Questions from a Muslim about Jesus being God
Following is a list of questions that CARM received from a Muslim via e-mail. The answers are provided along with commentary. Generally speaking, Muslims do not seem to understand Christian theology. They repeatedly ask the same kinds of questions. Nevertheless, here are the responses and we hope that they help Muslims understand Christian theology better so that they would choose to come to Christ instead of follow Mohammed.
The original e-mail is in brown with our response in green.
Also, you will notice throughout this response that this same basic answer is given to multiple questions. This is because the one truth concerning Christ's two natures answers almost all of the objections this Muslim has raised.
Muslim: In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. To my fellow People of the Book and fellow siblings of Adam, I would like to draw your attention to the following facts in the hope that you may see the truth. For your own sake, read with the intent of finding the truth and not with the intent of winning an argument. If after this, you don't believe, then I have tried. Either way, it is between you and ALLAH, the one God.
CARM: We are saddened to see the continued deception held by Muslims. They do not follow the true God and they fail to understand who Christ really is. Muslims believe that the Bible has been corrupted (it hasn't), so that they can make room for the justification to deny what it really says. Instead of believing the eyewitnesses, they believe what Mohammed said about Jesus 600 years later. So, essentially they are believing what their so-called Prophet said instead of those who actually walked and talked with Christ. Add to that a lack of understanding of biblical theology and you get the following questions:
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in Mark 12:29 did Jesus say, "Here, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." The words "our God" indicate that Jesus had a higher God over him, a stronger God than him. Jesus didn't say "Your God". He said "our God" which includes Jesus as the creation of GOD.
CARM: Basic Christian theology teaches that Jesus was both God and man. He had two natures. He was both divine and human at the same time. This teaching is known as the hypostatic union; that is, the coming-together of two natures in one person. In Heb. 2:9 states that Jesus was ". . . made for a little while lower than the angels . . ." Also in Phil. 2:5-8, it says that Jesus "emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men . . ." Col. 2:9 says, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." Jesus was both God and man at the same time.
Therefore, since he was a man (though not only a man) and since he was made under the law, and lower than the angels, it is natural to conclude that he would have someone that he would call God. In this case, it is God the Father.
But we must make a clarification. To say that Jesus Christ is God is not as clear a statement as it needs to be. Christianity teaches that God is a Trinity; that is, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To say that Jesus Christ is God is almost like saying that he is the Trinity, and that would make no sense. When the Christian says that Jesus is God, he really means that Jesus is divine in nature. Since God is three persons, and since Jesus is the second person in the Trinity, he shares the same divinity with the Father and Holy Spirit.
Having explained this, when Jesus says "Our God" it must be understood that Jesus is speaking as a man. But it does not mean he does not possess the divine nature as well.
For further reading please see the two natures of Jesus.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 20:17 did Jesus say, "I ascend to my God and your God? This tells us that we and Jesus have a common GOD.
CARM: The same explanation above applies here.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 8:28 did Jesus say, "I do nothing of myself"? Can't GOD do anything he wills?
CARM: Jesus was fulfilling his ministry completely as a man. He was made under the law (Gal. 4:4) and operated under the law. He fulfilled his ministry having emptied himself (Phil. 2:5-8) and was completely subject to the Father (Luke 22:42). Therefore, since he was under obligation to fulfill the law (which included complete dependence upon the Father), and since he had emptied himself and was working in cooperation with human limitations, he would naturally do nothing of himself. Jesus did not come to do his own will, but the will of the Father. "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done, ' (Luke 22:42). 'I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me," (John 5:30).
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 14:28 did Jesus say, "My Father (GOD) is greater than I"?
CARM: "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you. ' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I,'" (John 14:28).
Jesus said the Father was greater than He not because Jesus is not God, but because Jesus was also a man and as a man he was in a lower position. He was ". . . made for a little while lower than the angels . . ." (Heb. 2:9). Also in Phil. 2:5-8, it says that Jesus "emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men . . ."
Jesus has two natures. Jesus was not denying that He was God. He was merely acknowledging the fact that He was also a man. Jesus is both God and man. As a man, he was in a lesser position than the Father. He had added to Himself human nature (Col. 2:9). He became a man to die for people.
A comparison can be found in the marriage relationship. Biblically, a husband is greater in position and authority than his wife. But, he is no different in nature and he is not better than she. They share the same nature, being human, and they work together by love.
So, Jesus was not denying that He was God. He was simply acknowledging that He was also a man and as a man, he was subject to the laws of God so that He might redeem those who were under the law; namely, sinners (Gal. 4:4-5).
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in Luke 23:46 did Jesus say, "Father (GOD), into thy hands I commend my spirit"?
CARM: Because Jesus has two natures, divine and human, as a man he would have someone he would call his God. This does not make two gods since the doctrine of the Trinity states that there is only one God in three persons and that the second person of the Trinity became man. Therefore, Jesus committed himself to God the Father.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in Matthew 19:16 did Jesus say, "Why call me good, there is none good but One, that is GOD"?
CARM: The simple question to ask here is, "was Jesus good?" If the Muslim wants to say that Jesus is not good, then he's saying that Jesus was evil. If, however, the Muslim wants to admit that Jesus was good, then the natural conclusion is that Jesus is God.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in Matthew 26:39 did Jesus beg his GOD to have mercy on him and to pass the cup to death (kill Jesus in another words) before Jesus goes through the pain of crucifixion? Also see: Jesus's crucifixion in Islam.
CARM: Jesus did not ask to be killed. As a man, he did not want to go through the torturous ordeal of the crucifixion. What man would desire such a horrible death? The fact that Jesus did not want to go through it is proof enough that he was human. But it does not mean that he was not divine.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 18:38 didn't he reply when he was asked about the truth.
CARM: John 18:38 says, "Pilate said to Him, 'What is truth? ' Jesus did not respond because of the Old Testament prophecy that said he was silent before his accusers. "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth," (Isaiah 53:7).
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in Matthew 24:36 did Jesus tell his followers that no one (including Jesus) knows when the judgment day will come, only GOD knows?
CARM: Matt. 24:36 says, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." As a man, Jesus cooperated with the limitations of being a man. That is why we have verses like Luke 2:52 that says "Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Therefore, at this point in his ministry he could say He did not know the day nor hour of His return. It is not a denial of His being God, but a confirmation of Him being man.
Also, the logic that Jesus could not be God because He did not know all things works both ways. If we could find a scripture where Jesus does know all things, then that would prove that He was God, wouldn't it?
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus *said to him, "Tend My sheep" (John 21:17 - NASB).
Jesus did not correct Peter and say, "Hold on Peter, I do not know all things." He let Peter continue on with his statement that Jesus knew all things. Therefore, it must be true.
But, if we have a verse that says that Jesus did not know all things and another that says he did know all things, then isn't that a contradiction? No. It is not.
Before Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection He said the Father alone knew the day and hour of His return. It wasn't until after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection that omniscience is attributed to Jesus. As I said before, Jesus was cooperating with the limitations of being a man and completed His ministry on this earth. He was then glorified in His resurrection. Yet, He was still a man (cf. Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5). After Jesus' resurrection, He was able to appear and disappear at will. This is not the normal ability of a man. But, it is, apparently, the normal ability of a resurrected and glorified man. Jesus was different after the resurrection. There had been a change. He was still a man and He knew all things.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in Isaiah 11:2-3 did GOD put the spirit of fearing GOD in Jesus?
CARM: Isaiah 11:2-3 says, "And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear." It is good that this Muslim recognizes a prophecy concerning Christ and it adds to the validity and inspiration of the Bible.
This verse cannot be used as an objection to Christ's deity. As we have stated repeatedly above, Jesus was both divine and human and as a man he was under the law and behaved and acted as a man. This would mean that he would have the fear the Lord just as any godly Jew would. Furthermore, the word fear does not mean simply to be afraid. The context means awe, respect, etc.
The miracle of the incarnation is that the Word added human nature to himself in order to become one of us so that he might fulfill the law and take our place of punishment. In order for this to be done, the Word became flesh, became a man. This is why the Bible says that the word which was with God and was God, became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1,14). As a man, Jesus would naturally and properly have fear the Lord.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 5:31 did Jesus tell his followers that if he (Jesus) bears witness of himself, then his record is not true?
CARM: John 5:31 says, "If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true." Jesus was speaking in accordance with Old Testament law that Paul referred to in 2 Cor. 13:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses."
The Jews knew that truth was established by more than one witness. If Jesus was alone in his witness concerning himself, then how could his testimony be true? This is why the Old Testament law prohibited condemning someone to death on the testimony of a single witness. The idea was that for a fact to be established, you need more than one person testifying to a truth. Of course, in this context of Christ, we know that Jesus does have another witness because the Father bore witness of Jesus and commanded that we hear Jesus. "and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased," (Matt. 3:17).
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 5:30 did Jesus tell his followers that he can't do a single thing of his own initiative?
CARM: As stated above, Jesus was a man, under the law, cooperating with the limitations of being a man, and who had come not to do his own will, but the will of the Father. Therefore he could do nothing of his own initiative because he was sent from the Father to do the will of the Father.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 5:36 did Jesus say that GOD had assigned him (Jesus) work and GOD is a witness on Jesus?
CARM: John 5:36 says, 'But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me."
Again, this does not mean that Jesus does not have a divine nature. It means that Jesus was under the law and had been sent by the Father as a man to accomplish the purpose of the Father. This does not mean Jesus is not God.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 5:32 did Jesus tell his followers that they have never seen GOD at anytime nor ever heard his voice?
CARM: The Muslim made a mistake in his question. It is not John 5:32, but John 5:37. Also, the word is not "God". Instead, the word is "Father." John 5:32 says, "There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true." John 5:37 says, "And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form."
The answer is simple in that Jesus was speaking to the Jewish leaders and he told them that they had never seen the Father. Jesus is not the Father so Jesus' statement that they had never seen the Father is correct.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why did he pray to his GOD in Luke 5:16?
CARM: Luke 5:16 says, "But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray."
Again, the answer is simple. Jesus has two natures. He is divine and human. He was made under the law (Gal. 4:4), lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9), after having emptied himself (Phil. 2:5-8) even though he was the Word of God, which was God, and was made flesh, (John 1:1,14). Therefore, as we have stated before, Jesus would properly pray to God the Father.
Muslim: If Jesus was GOD, then why in Matthew 26:39 did Jesus fall on his face and prayed to his GOD?
CARM: Same answer as above.
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