Debate: Matt Slick vs Shadid Lewis, Is Jesus the Godman?

by Matt Slick

On April 16, 2015 I debated Shadid Lewis, a Muslim, on the topic "Is Jesus the God man?"  Following is my opening statement that I read in my intro.  As of this date (4/20/2015) we do not have the videos available.  When we get them released, I will put a link in this article. 

As Usual with articles, I cross-link with other articles inside of CARM.

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Is Jesus the God man? The Christian and biblical answer is, yes he is. Now, when we use the phrase “God man”, we are saying that Jesus, as the one person of Christ, has two distinct natures. We are saying that he is both divine and human. In Christian theology, we call this the hypostatic union.

So, from the Christian theological perspective, Jesus is said to be both divine and human. This teaching is so fundamental to the Christian faith that anyone who denies it cannot be a true Christian and he will die in his sins (John 8:24).

Now, Muslims say that it is not possible for Jesus to be both divine and human. But, they have no problem accepting the idea that the eternal and divine word of Allah became, so to speak, flesh in the written Quran. According to them, it is divine and yet also exists in material form. So, the concept of the divine word of Allah entering our world is not foreign to them…and, of course, no consort is needed for such a manifestation to occur.

Again, the doctrine of the hypostatic union, that in the one person of Christ are both the divine and human natures, is found in various Scriptures. Let’s take a look.

  • Colossians 2:9, “for in him [Jesus] all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.”

The word “deity” means the quality of being divine.  In this verse we see that both the divine and human natures of Jesus are proclaimed. Again, this is called the hypostatic union, that there are two distinct natures in the one person of Christ.

But Col. 2:9 is not the only place this truth is taught. There are other verses that I want to show you, but before I do, I need to quote Mr. Lewis.

I watched the debate that he had with Dr. James White. Their topic was “Is Jesus Christ God Almighty the Most High?” At 43:28, Shadid said,

“we look at what others have said. So for example… what others said about Jesus. Those who seen him at the beginning. Those who were the very first. Not what things developed later on with the church. But what your Bible says what I would take as to be the very first followers. What did they, when they saw Jesus perform miracles. When they heard him speak, what did they say?”1

Shadid tells us that we need to see what was said about Jesus from those who were with him, from the beginning. I wholeheartedly agree. This means we must first turn to the Bible, not the Quran, when we seek to learn about the person of Christ. Therefore, I will do just that and turn to the Bible, to the apostle John who walked and talked with Jesus for 3 ½ years as his disciple. This is what he wrote.

  • John 1:1, 14, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… 14 and the Word became flesh and lived among us and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten son…”

In these two verses we see that the Word, which was God, was made flesh. We see the two natures of Christ, the word and the flesh, the divine and the human. This is what is taught by John the apostle who knew Jesus personally. Let me again quote Shadid regarding who we are to first turn to in order to learn about Jesus.

“Those who were the very first. Not what things developed later on with the church. But what your Bible says what I would take as to be the very first followers. What did they, when they saw Jesus perform miracles. When they heard him speak, what did they say?

Good question Mr. Lewis, what did they say?  They say Jesus is both divine and human.

So, I’ll now turn to the Gospels of Matthew and John which were written by two of Jesus’ own disciples. They walked with him and they knew him personally. And, to help the Muslims who are listening, let me refer to your Quran which says in Surah 3:65 that the gospel was revealed after Abraham (Surah 3:65) and in and Surah 57:27 that Jesus was given the gospel. In addition, in Surah 6:34, “none can alter the Words of Allah.” And in Surah 18:27 “None can change His Words.”

I certainly hope Mr. Lewis does not think that Jesus presented a false gospel to the disciples, or that the disciples themselves altered the words of God, or that the disciples of Christ who revered the sacred documents of scripture just as much as Muslims revere the Quran, somehow managed to alter God’s words in contradiction to Surah 6:34 and 18:27 which says the words of Allah cannot be changed.

Therefore, let’s look at two of Jesus’ disciples, two of the men who walked with him who saw Jesus perform miracles and were with him from the beginning, just as Shadid says we should do.

  • Matt. 1:23, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
  • Matt. 25:31-33, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”
  • John 1:1, 14, “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God,”… “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”
  • John 5:18, [Jesus] “…was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
  • John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”
  • John 20:28, “Thomas answered and said to Him [Jesus], “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
  • John 21:17, “He [Jesus] 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.”

In the preceding verses we see that Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us”. He is the judge of mankind, the divine Word which was God made flesh. He is the one who gives eternal life. Jesus is called God by Thomas – which Jesus does not deny. And, Peter said Jesus knows all things – which Jesus also does not deny.

By using the methodology required by Mr. Lewis himself, I have gone to those who were the very first followers of Jesus: Matthew, John, Thomas, and Peter. In fact, that is what the Quran says to do as well…

  • Surah 5:47 (Muhsin Khan), “Let the people of the Injeel (Gospel) judge by what Allah has revealed therein…”

The injeel is, of course, according to the Quran, the gospel revealed to Jesus.

  • Surah 57:27, (Muhsin Khan), “Then, We sent after them, Our Messengers, and We sent 'Iesa (Jesus) - son of Maryam (Mary), and gave him the Injeel (Gospel)…”

I hope that the Muslims would trust Jesus as much as Christians do. To the Muslim he is a prophet. To the Christian He is a prophet and more. To the Muslim he is a man. To the Christian he is a man and more.  It is like the Muslim saying the Quran is a book and more.

To the Christian Jesus is revealed in the entirety of the Old and New Testaments. He is revealed in the Old Testament in typology and in the New Testament in actuality. In the Old Testament, God said in Zechariah 12:10,

  • “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

    And,
     
  • Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

As I’ve already stated, Matthew 1:23 tells us that the word Immanuel means God is with us.

New Testament

So, I will now turn to other Scriptures in the New Testament that speak about the deity of Christ.

In the book of Acts we read of the account of Jesus speaking to a man named Ananias about Paul the apostle. Jesus had appeared to Paul, when he was still called Saul and had said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Paul was then sent by Jesus to a man named Ananias. But Ananias was afraid of Paul because Paul had been persecuting Christians. Jesus appeared to Ananias in a vision and said to him concerning Paul…

  • "…he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel," (Acts 9:15).

So, we can see that Jesus himself appointed Paul as His own apostle. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 9:1, Paul defends his apostleship by stating he had seen the risen Lord Jesus, something Mohammed never claimed. Therefore, since Jesus approved of Paul, I will turn once again to what Paul has said in his epistles.

Now, earlier I quoted Colossians 2:9 where Paul said, “for in him [Jesus] all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.” But Paul also says in, Titus 2:13 that we Christians are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

Clearly Paul the apostle taught that Jesus was divine, the same as the apostle Thomas did in John 20:28 when Thomas said to Jesus after Jesus had risen from the dead, “My Lord and my God.” Just to clarify again, Thomas was one of Jesus’ very first followers of Jesus.  He was a disciple. Remember, Shadid said that we need to look at the very first followers of Jesus and see what they said. That is exactly what I am doing.

Now, Mr. Lewis in his debates and discussions about the person of Jesus, has appealed to the New Testament. So have I. But he quotes it in a very selective manner. He cites only those Scriptures that speak of Christ’s humanity and he ignores the rest. He does not address the whole of Scripture on this subject.

But, I have also been selective and so far have cited verses in support of Christ’s deity. This is because we are not debating Christ’s humanity. Rather, we are debating his divinity. We both agree that Jesus was a man so it is not necessary for me to quote verses proving his humanity. Therefore, in a debate of this sort for Mr. Lewis to properly address the issue from the very Bible that he has quoted so many times before in his debates, he needs to address those verses that deal with the deity of Christ. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. In fact ignoring them is to concede the debate because they would then stand unaddressed and unrefuted by him.

Therefore, he needs to address not only the verses I’ve already raised such as Colossians 2:9, John 1:1, 14, and Titus 2:13, but also Heb. 1:8, which says,

  • “But of the Son [Jesus] He [God the Father] says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.”

Clearly, the Son, Jesus, is being addressed as God, by God the Father. Now, this gets into the doctrine of the Trinity which is a monotheistic teaching but is not the topic of our debate here tonight.

Nevertheless, I stand in agreement with Shadid that Jesus is a man. But, again, logically speaking, to say that Jesus is a man, does not mean he cannot also be divine. This is an important point of logic and an important part of this debate. Mr. Lewis would be committing a logical mistake if he were to ignore the verses that teach Jesus is God in flesh and focus only on the verses that show his humanity. Jesus being a man does not prevent him from also being divine.

It would be like me saying that the Quran can’t be the word of God because it’s a book. If I were to focus only on its physical pages and ask how could God’s word be held in a hand and put on a shelf, no Muslim would accept that as a refutation of what they say is its divine content. Furthermore, if I ignored everything that a Muslim raised to assert the divine revelation of the Quran, and focused only on its physical attributes, I would, of course, be failing to address the whole issue and would not be arguing logically and completely and would fail to make my point.

The same applies here when we discuss the person of Christ. The Bible teaches both the humanity and divinity of Jesus and to focus only on the humanity is to fail to address the whole declaration of Scripture concerning him. It is a mistake.

Now, when Mr. Lewis attacks the deity of Christ, he routinely raises such points as Jesus cannot be God because he said the Father was greater than he (John 14:28), or that Jesus was approved of God (Acts 2:22), or that glory was given to him (John 17:1), or when Jesus said in John 8:40, “…you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.”

So, let me address these and the verses like them by first demonstrating two very important theological concepts taught in the Bible about Jesus. They will help us understand why these kinds of statements are made about him.

The first concept is found in Philippians 2:7-8 which says,

[Jesus] “…emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The second concept is found in Galatians 4:4,

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”

So, we see from Philippians 2:7 and Galatians 4:4 that Jesus had emptied himself and was made under the Law. This was so he could cooperate with the limitations of being a man, live a perfect life, and also die for our sins, thereby satisfying the legal requirements of the Law of God. All who trust in His sacrifice on the cross will be cleansed of all of their sins.

So, Jesus emptied himself and was born of a woman and was made under the law. This means that Jesus would have to live according to what the Old Testament Law required of him since he was, as we agree, also a man. Therefore he would be circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21), partake of the Passover meal (John 2:23), and have to honor his parents (Luke 18:20).

In addition, because he emptied himself and was made under the Law, then God the Father would be in a greater position than him, which explains why Jesus said the Father was greater than him in John 14:28. Incidentally, this verse is about position, not nature. We know from Heb. 2:9 that Jesus was made lower than the angels. As a man under the law Jesus was required to operate within its restrictions. He would therefore be approved of by God the Father (Acts 2:22). Glory would be given to him by the Father (John 17:1), and he would also be called a man (John 8:40).

All of this is perfectly consistent with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and the hypostatic union, which is the two natures of Christ, the divine and human.

For Mr. Lewis to sufficiently attempt to refute the idea that Christ has two natures, the divine and human, he must address those verses I have raised that show Christ’s deity. If he doesn’t, then those verses stand and I’ve made my case and he has not made his.

Again, Colossians 2:9 says, “for in him all the fullness of deity in bodily form.” And John the apostle who was one of Jesus’ first followers, said in John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word the Word was with God and the Word was God, 14 and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Remember, Shadid said that we are to look to the very first followers and see what they said. And, as a reminder, Surah 5:47 says, “Let the people of the Injeel (Gospel) judge by what Allah has revealed therein…” That is exactly what I am doing.

Now, before I give a final tribute to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ who exists as the Divine Word made flesh, who bore our sins in his body on the cross, who died upon that cross, and who rose from the dead, so that all who trust in him by faith will be forgiven of all their sins, let me first turn to the Quran, which says of Allah…

“He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things,” (Surah 57:3).

In this verse, Allah is said to be the First and the Last. This is a direct claim to deity, to the very nature and essence of being God that is attributed to Allah in the Quran.

In light of that, I now turn to the book of Revelation in the New Testament. This book was written by John the apostle who was one of the first followers of Christ and who was with him from the beginning. John the apostle records in this book Jesus saying…

  • Rev. 1:17-18, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."

Jesus said he was the first and the last. This is a direct claim to his deity made by Jesus himself. John quotes Jesus in this book that he wrote to the Church. John was with Jesus from the beginning. Remember, Shadid has said to appeal to the very first followers of Jesus. I have done that and will do it two more times.

John, the apostle of Jesus, told us this in John 18:6 that when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the garden, right before his crucifixion, Jesus said to them, “I am,” and they fell to the ground.  Why?  Because he is God in flesh and the power of his proclamation was too much for them to handle.

When Jesus returns, we all too will fall to the ground in his presence.

In Rev. 1:8, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega….who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Christians will fall to the ground and worship the Almighty in thanksgiving. All others will fall to the ground in fear of judgment.

Be careful that you do not deny what Jesus said about himself being the Almighty because if you do, you will perish.

 

  • 1. The grammar errors are original to the quote as often happens during normal speech.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.