Responding to the arguments of a Muslim Polemicist [Part 3]
This is the third and final part of our rebuttal to Zaataris arguments against Jesus being worshiped as God and receiving the same honor that his blessed and holy Father receives. (See Part 1 and Part 2.)
Zaatari asks whether what I quoted indicates that Jesus was saying that his followers must love him just as they love God. He reasons that Jesus statement that his followers should love him more than their families is logical in light of his being the prophet and Messiah sent from God.
And in order to show just how absurd my argument is Zaatari claims that Jesus only said that we are to love him more than our parents and children, but says nothing about loving him more than our wives, animals or food. Before I respond to Zaataris gross misunderstanding and perversion of what Jesus says concerning loving him unconditionally I would like to first turn this around against Zaataris prophet and god.
The Quran exhorts believers not to love and prefer the following to Muhammad and his god:
You (O Muhammad) will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), even though they were their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred (people). For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with Ruh (proofs, light and true guidance) from Himself. And We will admit them to Gardens (Paradise) under which rivers flow, to dwell therein (forever). Allah is pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Verily, it is the Party of Allah that will be the successful. S. 58:22 Hilali-Khan
Here is what is missing from this group: wives, daughters, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, animals, and food, which means that Muslims can love and prefer them over Allah and his messenger. And:
O you who believe! Take not for Auliya' (supporters and helpers) your fathers and your brothers if they prefer disbelief to Belief. And whoever of you does so, then he is one of the Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.). Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His Cause then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are Al-Fasiqun (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah). S. 9:23-24 Hilali-Khan
Since this passage also doesnt mention some of those parties that we listed above this therefore implies, per Zaataris logic, that Muslims can take their unbelieving daughters, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, and in-laws as friends and protectors. Moreover, since this injunction is directed to the men, i.e. "your wives," this suggests that this doesnt apply to the women. Believing women can therefore take their unbelieving parents, husbands, daughters, kindred, grandparents and great grandparents as protectors and associates.
Now returning to the issue at hand, in his zeal to refute me Zaatari overlooked the following passage:
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after ME, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow ME. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life FOR ME will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." Matthew 16:24-27
Jesus expects that his followers will forsake the whole world, and everything in it, for his sake, and claims that he will be the One who will be coming to judge and repay a person for what s/he has done for him, which is a Divine function that the Hebrew Bible says Yahweh performs:
"and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done." Psalm 62:12
"If you say, But we knew nothing about this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" Proverbs 24:12
"See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him." Isaiah 40:10; cf. 62:11
And yet the NT reiterates the fact that it is Jesus who will execute this task of judging and rewarding:
"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Revelation 2:18-19, 23b
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:12, 20
Thus, besides proving that Christ was commanding his faithful to love him more than anyone or anything, something which none of the true Messengers before him expected or demanded from their followers, this also shows that Jesus believed and claimed that he was God.
Moreover, the reason why Prophets and Apostles never commanded any person to love them just as they love God, or to trust in them just as one trusts in God, is because Gods inspired spokespersons knew that they were fallible and didnt always act in accord with Gods directives. As such, believers couldnt simply accept everything they said, since they didnt always speak by inspiration; nor could they take the side of the Messengers against their loved ones since there was always the possibility that the Prophets and Apostles werent acting in line with Gods prescribed will.
For instance, Moses disobeyed God in striking the rock which led to Yahweh forbidding him from entering the Promised Land (cf. Numbers 20:1-13). Samson wanted to marry a Philistine woman and slept with a harlot, all of which went against Gods commands (Judges 13-16). David committed adultery and murder (cf. 2 Samuel 11-12), and his son Solomon multiplied foreign wives and worshiped their gods (cf. 1 Kings 11).
Therefore, the faithful were expected to follow God at all costs and hold him in higher esteem than the Messengers, even if this meant rebuking or holding a Prophet or an Apostle accountable for failing to act in accord with Gods directives.
This explains why Jesus praised one particular Church for testing those who claimed to be Apostles but were not,
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false." Revelation 2:1-2
Since only the Triune God is completely reliable and dependable. Everyone else is subject to Gods revelation and can be tested and held accountable to it, including the Prophets and Apostles.
This further explains why Paul publicly rebuked Peter since the latter was expected to fully comply with Gods commands, which he didnt, and the former was therefore holding him accountable to Gods revealed Word:
"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? We who are Jews by birth and not "Gentile sinners" know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." Galatians 2:11-16
Paul even warned that Apostles themselves (including himself) would suffer wrath if they distorted Gods true message:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" Galatians 1:6-9
Interestingly, Muhammads own deity threatened that he would kill him if he changed the message or failed to comply with Allahs dictates:
O Messenger, deliver that which has been sent down to thee from thy Lord; for if thou dost not, thou wilt not have delivered His Message. God will protect thee from men. God guides not the people of the unbelievers. S. 5:67
And when Our signs are recited to them, clear signs, those who look not to encounter Us say, 'Bring a Koran other than this, or alter it.' Say: 'It is not for me to alter it of my own accord. I follow nothing, except what is revealed to me. Truly I fear, if I should rebel against my Lord, the chastisement of a dreadful day.' S. 10:15
This is (part) of that wisdom wherewith thy Lord hath inspired thee (O Muhammad). And set not up with Allah any other god, lest thou be cast into hell, reproved, abandoned. S. 17:39
Indeed they were near to seducing thee from that We revealed to thee, that thou mightest forge against Us another, and then they would surely have taken thee as a friend; and had We not confirmed thee, surely thou wert near to inclining unto them a very little; then would We have let thee taste the double of life and the double of death; and then thou wouldst have found none to help thee against Us. S. 17:73-75
And certainly, it has been revealed to you and to those before you: Surely if you associate (with Allah), your work would certainly come to naught and you would certainly be of the losers. S. 39:65
Had he invented against Us any sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand, then We would surely have cut his life-vein and not one of you could have defended him. S. 69:44-47
This shows why Muhammads command to love him just as much as Allah,
Say: 'If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your clan, your possessions that you have gained, commerce you fear may slacken, dwellings you love -- if these are dearer to you than God AND His Messenger, and to struggle in His way, then wait till God brings His command; God guides not the people of the ungodly.' S. 9:24 Arberry
Chapter 17: IT IS OBLIGATORY TO LOVE THE PROPHET MORE THAN THE MEMBERS OF ONE'S HOUSEHOLD: ONE'S CHILD, FATHER OR EVEN THE WHOLE OF HUMANITY
It is reported on the authority of Anas that the Messenger of Allah said: No bondsman believes, and, in the hadith narrated by Abdul Warith, no person believes, till I am dearer to him than the members of his household, his wealth and the whole of mankind. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0070)
It is reported on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah said: None of you is a believer till I am dearer to him than his child, his father and the whole of mankind. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0071)
Is blasphemous and idolatrous since this presupposes that Muhammad is completely righteous and pure, and therefore just as reliable and dependable as his god, when clearly he was anything but that, as even the Islamic sources emphatically show.
For instance, Muhammad in his sinful rage and anger would curse people:
Chapter 23: HE UPON WHOM ALLAH'S APOSTLE (MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM) INVOKED CURSE WHEREAS HE IN FACT DID NOT DESERVE IT, IT WOULD BE A SOURCE OF REWARD AND MERCY FOR HIM
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: O Allah, I make a covenant with Thee against which Thou wouldst never go. I am a human being and thus for a Muslim whom I give any harm or whom I scold or upon whom I invoke curse or whom I beat, make this a source of blessing, purification and nearness to Thee on the Day of Resurrection. (Sahih Muslim, Book 032, Number 6290)
Anas b. Malik reported that there was an orphan girl with Umm Sulaim (who was the mother of Anas). Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saw that orphan girl and said: O, it is you; you have grown young. May you not advance in years! That slave-girl returned to Umm Sulaim weeping. Umm Sulaim said: O daughter, what is the matter with you? She said: Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) has invoked curse upon me that I should not grow in age and thus I would never grow in age, or she said, in my (length) of life. Umm Sulaim went out wrapping her head-dress hurriedly until she met Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). He said to her: Umm Sulaim, what is the matter with you? She said: Allah's Apostle, you invoked curse upon my orphan girl. He said: Umm Sulaim, what is that? She said: She (the orphan girl) states you have cursed her saying that she might not grow in age or grow in life. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) smiled and then said: Umm Sulaim, don't you know that I have made this term with my Lord. And the term with my Lord is that I said to Him: I am a human being and I am pleased just as a human being is pleased and I lose temper just as a human being loses temper, so for any person from amongst my Ummah whom I curse and he in no way deserves it, let that, O Lord, be made a source of purification and purity and nearness to (Allah) on the Day of Resurrection. (Sahih Muslim, Book 032, Number 6297)
Muhammad also warned people about his human frailties and forgetfulness:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud:
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) offered prayer. The version of the narrator Ibrahim goes: I do not know whether he increased or decreased (the rak'ahs of prayer).
When he gave the salutation, he was asked: Has something new happened in the prayer, Apostle of Allah? He said: What is it? They said: You prayed so many and so many (rak'ahs). He then relented his foot and faced the Qiblah and made two prostrations. He then gave the salutation. When he turned away (finished the prayer), he turned his face to us and said: Had anything new happened in prayer, I would have informed you. I am only a human being and I forget just as you do; so when I forget, remind me, and when any of you is in doubt about his prayer he should aim at what is correct, and complete his prayer in that respect, then give the salutation and afterwards made two prostrations. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 3, Number 1015)
In fact, Muhammad was so fallible that he even gave bad agricultural advice that led to a rather embarrassing situation:
Rafi' b. Khadij reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to Medina and the people had been grafting the trees. He said: What are you doing? They said: We are grafting them, whereupon he said: It may perhaps be good for you if you do not do that, so they abandoned this practice (and the date-palms) began to yield less fruit. They made a mention of it (to the Holy Prophet), whereupon he said: I am a human being, so when I command you about a thing pertaining to religion, do accept it, and when I command you about a thing out of my personal opinion, keep it in mind that I am a human being. 'Ikrima reported that he said something like this. (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5831)
All of these examples show why Muhammad was wrong to demand that Muslims love and obey him just as much as his deity since he was an imperfect, fallible, sinful human being.(1)
Jesus, however, could demand his followers to love him unconditionally and wholeheartedly since he is completely reliable, always speaking in perfect accord with the Fathers will since he always spoke Gods word, and never acted in a manner contrary to his Father:
"Jesus gave them this answer: Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." John 5:19
"Jesus answered, My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain glory for himself, but he who works for the glory of the one who sent him is true; there is nothing false about him. Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. But I have not come of my own accord., but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me. Jesus said, I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come." John 7:16-18, 28-29, 33-34
"So Jesus said, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?" John 8:28-29
Jesus also believed that to look upon him was to look upon God:
"And Jesus cried out and said, He who believes in me, does not believe in me but in him who sent me. He who sees me sees the One who sent me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." John 12:44-50
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe ALSO in me. In my Fathers house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus said to him, Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves." John 14:1-11
Moreover, Matthew records Jesus speaking in a manner which astonished his audience, since those who heard him knew that he spoke as One who thought he had Divine authority, which was unlike the Prophets, rabbis and religious leaders:
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. BUT I TELL YOU that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell." Matthew 5:21-22; cf. 5:27-48
"When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law." Matthew 7:28-29
This in itself demonstrates that Jesus believed he was no mere creature since no human or angel could dare say that s/he always acts in perfect union with God and cannot do anything contrary to Gods prescribed will. Nor would they dare venture to speak as Jesus spoke, such as explaining the Law by their own authority, i.e. "But I tell you," since the way the Prophets spoke was, "Thus saith the Lord."
As one Jewish author put it when explaining why most Jews are unwilling to embrace Jesus as a prophet:
"This thesis is rejected because none of the prophets of Israel spoke in his own name; none ever presented himself as the originator of his own prophecies. The Jewish prophets considered themselves the mouthpiece of God. God, they believed, was speaking through them. For this reason, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the other Hebrew prophets introduce their prophecies and admonitions with the words, Thus saith the Lord.
"When Jesus introduces his prophecies and admonitions, he does so with the words, I say unto you, clearly suggesting that he saw himself as the authority. This attitude is reflected in many New Testament passages. In Matthew (9:6), for example, Jesus represents himself as the Son of Man who has power on earth to forgive sins. In John (13:13), Jesus says, Ye call me "Master" and "Lord"; and ye say well; for so I am. Since Jesus portrayed himself as more than a spokesman of the Lord, Jews are unable to accept him as a prophet." (Alfred J. Kolatch, The Second Jewish Book of Why [Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., Middle Village NY, 2000; ISBN: 0-8246-0305-2], p. 72; underlined emphasis ours)
Finally, Zaatari again distorts my point by arguing that dying for Jesus is to die for the prophet and/or his cause, and therefore doesnt make him equal with God. My argument wasnt that dying for Jesus makes him God, but that dying for Jesus in the context of loving him more than anything, more than the world and ones own life, shows that Christ believed he is God since this is a love which can only be given to God. Hopefully, Zaatari will stop attacking straw men and learn to address the real issues.
Despite the fact that Jesus, in Matthew 14:25-33, received worship by his disciples for doing what only Yahweh can do, and even going so far as to identify himself as the I AM in a context which echoes OT texts of Yahweh controlling and trampling the waves and seas, Zaatari still denies that this means worship! He then says:
This is fairer, as they didn't worship him. Secondly, the fact the disciples call Jesus the Son of God proves my point. Being called the Son of God means you are a man of Honor, and a prophet. Hence the disciples bow in respect to Jesus of a higher superior rank.
Jesus refutes Zaataris assertion that he is Gods Son in the sense of being nothing more than a righteous prophet of God:
"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. They will respect my son, he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance. So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him." Matthew 21:33-39
Jesus is Gods beloved Son and Heir, in marked contrast to the prophets who are Gods servants,
"From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets." Jeremiah 7:25
"Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!" Jeremiah 44:4; cf. 26:5
So obviously Jesus believed that he was more than a prophet. Jesus further believed that, as Gods unique Son, he had a knowledge of God which others did not possess and related to him in such a way that separated Christ from the others,
"At that time Jesus said, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:25-30
The Lord Jesus claims an intimate, reciprocal knowledge of God the Father which presupposes both his incomprehensibility and his omniscience. After all, a finite creature is not able to know God in the same way that s/he is known by God; nor can a temporal being make the assertion s/he can only be known by God since this implies that the person making this claim is incomprehensible, and thereby requires an infinite mind or omniscient entity to fully know and understand such an individual. Yet this is precisely what Jesus says about his own Person and knowledge of the incomprehensible God.
It is therefore not surprising that it is precisely in this context that Jesus states that he chooses to reveal the Father to whomever he is pleased since, having perfect and intimate knowledge of God, he alone can adequately and completely reveal Gods essence, his character and nature to mankind.
To put this in simpler terms, God has clearly and fully made himself known in and through the Person of his beloved Son since the Son has complete knowledge and comprehension of the nature and Person of the Father. This proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Jesus truly believed that his relationship with God went far beyond anything that the prophets or righteous servants claimed for themselves.
Moreover, Jesus claim that he gives rest and comfort to everyone who comes to him in faith presupposes and requires that the immortal Lord be both omniscient and omnipotent. The reason why this requires omniscience is because Jesus must know who is coming to and trusting in him; it also requires omnipotence because Christ must have the power, the ability, to give rest to every single person who truly believes in him.
To put this another way, Jesus must be God in order to do what the Hebrew Scriptures say God does:
"And he said, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. And he said to him, If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here." Exodus 33:14-15
"This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: "The LORD bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain." People will live together in Judah and all its townsfarmers and those who move about with their flocks. I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." Jeremiah 31:23-25
The final problem Zaatari faces is that his proposed explanation of what it means to be the Son of God goes against his prophets understanding. Muhammads view was purely biological since he erroneously assumed that the term Son of God presupposed that God must have carnal relations with a woman in order to have a child:
Yet they ascribe to God, as associates, the jinn, though He created them; and they impute to Him sons and daughters without any knowledge. Glory be to Him! High be He exalted above what they describe! The Creator of the heavens and the earth -- how should He have a son, seeing that He has no consort, and He created all things, and He has knowledge of everything? S. 6:100-101
Muhammad never thought for a minute that the expression denoted a righteous servant or prophet who was close to God. Nor could he envision how Jews and Christians could be Gods children if he punished them for their sins:
Say the Jews and Christians, 'We are the sons of God, and His beloved ones.' Say: 'Why then does He chastise you for your sins? No; you are mortals, of His creating; He forgives whom He will, and He chastises whom He will.' For to God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and of the earth, and all that is between them; to Him is the homecoming. S. 5:18
Even though the Holy Bible already provides an answer to Muhammads dilemma:
"Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you." Deuteronomy 8:1-5
"And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:5-11 cf. Proverbs 3:11-12
"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." Revelation 3:19
Hence, Zaatari shows greater understanding and insight than his own prophet which leaves us wondering why he still believes in him.
Zaatari gets rather miffed at me for calling Jesus the Divine Son of God:
Thirdly, the disciples called Jesus the Son of God, not the divine Son of God as the liar Shamoun says. Notice what a liar this man is! He quotes his own Bible, which says SON OF GOD, and then he says they say divine Son of God! From where did you get the word divine?
This all proves how mischievous these Trinitarians are, Shamoun knows what he is doing, he knows how easily his Christian readers will be duped and brainwashed by him simply putting in the word divine! And then Shamoun claims I am poisoning the well when I say you can't trust Trinitarians! You Trinitarian rep's time and time again prove why we can't trust you, you play with translations and you then play with words, and then you falsely add your own interpretation. So I ask Shamoun again, WHERE DID YOU GET THE WORD DIVINE FROM, THE DISCIPLES DIDN'T SAY DIVINE SON OF GOD.
Let us see how I arrived at my position concerning the disciples worshiping Christ as the unique Divine Son of God. Jesus has just claimed to be the I AM in the context of walking on water, and then enabled Peter to do likewise. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, which the disciples were familiar with, this ability to control the elements, specifically to trample and control the waves and seas, is exclusively a Divine one:
"He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea." Job 9:8
And it is in this specific context, after seeing Jesus do what the OT says Yahweh alone does, that the disciples turned to worship Jesus and confess him as the Son of God. This further explains why the disciples made the following comment in regards to a similar feat that Jesus performed:
"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, Lord, save us! We're going to drown! He replied, You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" Mark 8:23-27
Moreover, Jesus claims to be able to carry out certain functions which the Holy Bible emphatically testifies that only God can do, such as judging and rewarding, giving rest to all who come to him by faith etc.
The Lord further makes a claim in connection with his judging the nations which Muhammad himself realized was something which only God could make. In the following passage Jesus says that to show kindness and love to fellow needy Christians is to show kindness and love to him, and failing to do so is to fail to show love and kindness to Christ:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and ALL the angels with him, he will sit on HIS throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? He will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:31-41
Now contrast this with what Muhammad claimed for Allah:
Hadith Qudsi 18:
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: Allah (mighty and sublime be He) will say on the Day of Resurrection:
O son of Adam, I fell ill and you visited Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so had fallen ill and you visited him not? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He will say: O Lord, how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: My servant So-and-so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would have surely found that with Me.
It was related by Muslim. (Forty Hadith Qudsi; source)
Muhammads narration shows that, as far as he was concerned, Jesus statements could only be made by One who is truly God, having all the attributes of God (or at least the attributes of omnipresence and omniscience). Muhammad obviously thought that the Person making such a claim had to be personally present with all the needy and suffering believers.
In light of all this isnt it rather obvious that the disciples confession in Matthew 14:33 was a recognition of Jesus Divine identity? To those whom God has granted eyes to see and ears to hear the answer is clearly yes.
Hopefully the day will come when Christ, the beloved Son of God and Zaataris true Master and Lord, will grant him the same grace that he gave to his followers, and to all of us who love and worship him, to see and believe as well.
Zaatari attacks a straw man once again, despite denying that he is, and has to distort my argument concerning Jesus use of the I AM and how this conclusively proves his Deity. As I have often clearly and emphatically stated even in this very same rebuttal which Zaatari claims to be responding to it is not simply the use of the I AM that proves my case but the manner in which Christ uses it that conclusively shows that he was identifying himself as God. Zaatari keeps denying this assertion despite the fact that I provided a link documenting the data that conclusively proves that Jesus use of the I AM in this particular context serves to reveal his Divine identity. Here it is one more time.
We also recommend the following articles (1, 2).
To further illustrate what we mean concerning Jesus using the I AM in a manner which points to his eternal existence and perfect Deity we have taken and modified the following table from Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewskis excellent book, Putting Jesus in His Place The Case for the Deity of Christ, published by Kregel Publications, 2007, p. 178 (http://deityofchrist.com/):
"I AM he" in Isaiah and John
Isaiah (LXX) John "When you pass through the waters Do not be afraid, for I am with you (me phobe hoti meta sou eimi)." 43:2, 5
" so that you may know and believe and understand that I am he I am God, and beside me there is no one to save But you have stood in your sins and in your iniquities I am he, I am the one who blots out your transgressions (hina gnote kai pisteusete kai sunete hoti ego eimi en tais hamartiais sou)." 43:10-11, 24-25
" my servant whom I have chosen [exelexamen], so that you may know and believe and understand that I am he (hina gnote kai pisteusete kai sunete hoti ego eimi)." 43:10
"I am he; do not be afraid (ego eimi phobeisthe)." 6:20; cf. Mark 6:50; Matt. 14:27)
" for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins then you will know that I am he (ean gar me pisteusete hoti ego eimi apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humon tote gnosesthe hoti ego eimi)." 8:24
"I am not speaking of all of you; I know the ones I have chosen [exelexamen] I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that you may believe when it does occur that I am he (hina pisteusete hotan genetai hoti ego eimi)" 13:18-19
Zaatari thinks that Jesus used the I AM in Matthew 14:27 simply to correct the disciples mistaken notion that they were seeing a ghost, i.e. Christ was telling them that it was him they were seeing and not a phantom figure. Again, this ignores the immediate context which shows that Jesus I AM was more than simply a mere denial that he was a ghost. For the details and the proof please consult the above articles.
Zaatari complains that Trinitarians play games with the way they translate ego eimi since when it is used for others besides Christ it is often rendered as I AM HE as opposed to simply I AM. This is really nothing more than a red herring since regardless of whether one translates the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek words for I AM as I AM HE, the point would still stand that Jesus uses this expression in contexts where he is clearly revealing his Divine identity. That is precisely why in the above verses we used I AM HE to show that Zaatari has no case and is simply getting desperate.
Zaatari tries to deny that Matthew 21:15-16 teaches that the Lord Jesus received and demanded exactly the same worship and honor that Yahweh does by saying that the people thought Christ was a prophet:
So as you can see, when Jesus entered Jerusalem the people were saying he was Jesus the prophet, not Jesus the God. Also when the children cry at Jesus they call him the son of David, not God!
There are several problems with Zaataris assertion, all of which further highlight his gross distortion and misunderstanding of the most basic and elementary teachings of the Holy Bible.
First, historic, orthodox Christian theology has always affirmed the prophethood of Jesus, so the crowds reply poses no serious problem to the beliefs of Trinitarians.
Second, in the very same chapter Jesus identifies himself as Gods beloved Son and Heir,
"Last of all, he sent his son to them. They will respect my son, he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance." Matthew 21:37-38
Third, the children didnt merely call him the Son of David but ascribed salvation to him:
"The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, Hosanna (save) to the Son of David, they were indignant." Matthew 21:14-15
This becomes all the more relevant in light of the way Jesus entered into Jerusalem, namely by riding on a colt in fulfillment of prophecy:
"As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away. This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: Say to the Daughter of Zion, "See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:4-9
Jesus does precisely what the prophets say Yahweh will do when he comes to save his people:
"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert." Isaiah 35:3-6
"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the LORD Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with slingstones. They will drink and roar as with wine; they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar. The LORD their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women." Zechariah 9:9-11, 14-17
In the context of Zechariah the King who is coming to bring salvation is clearly Yahweh God Almighty. Zechariah further prophesied that Yahweh would eventually descend on the Mount of Olives with his holy ones or saints and rule over all the earth:
"A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttimea day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain." Zechariah 14:1-9, 16-17
Yet according to the NT it will be the Lord Jesus who will descend upon the Mount of Olives along with his holy ones at his second coming:
"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city." Acts 1:9-12
The statements of the two men (who happen to be angels) suggest that Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives since this is the place from where he ascended. And:
"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1 Thessalonians 3:13
"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Hence, Jesus does everything which the inspired prophets predicted Yahweh will do, specifically come riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as the King who brings salvation, heal the blind and the lame, and descend upon the Mount of Olives with his saints. This means that, as far as Matthew and the rest of the NT writers are concerned, Jesus is Yahweh God who comes to rule forever as the Messianic King!
With this in mind should it therefore come as a surprise that Jesus would justify the praise of his own Person by quoting a Psalm which speaks of children and infants worshiping Yahweh when Christ has just entered into Jerusalem in the same manner that the prophet Zechariah said Yahweh would enter? And doesnt this also refute Zaataris desperate explanation that Jesus was merely saying that the childrens praise of him was Christs way of opening the eyes of his enemies that he is not a heretic but a true prophet of God? Which prophet ever dared to source an OT verse which speaks of the praise and worship that should be given to Yahweh and apply it to himself in order to justify the praise he receives from others?
And doesnt this further expose just how truly weak Zaataris explanation that Jesus statements simply mean that praising a prophet is to praise God is? After all, it is one thing for a prophet to allow people to praise him for being Gods spokesperson; it is quite another thing altogether for that same prophet to equate his praise with the worship given to Yahweh.
In conclusion we have seen that Zaatari has once again failed to refute my case and had to distort my arguments, attack straw men and throw out so many red herrings that it became quite difficult and tiresome having to address all of his rabbit trails.
Contrary to Zaataris (failed) attempt to show otherwise, the Gospel of Matthew expressly teaches that Jesus demands the very worship given to Yahweh, and expected to receive the same honor that the Father receives. The Lord Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, clearly taught his people to worship both the Father and himself as God.
(1) A Muslim can contest my claim concerning Muhammads fallibility being a strong reason why one cannot love him just as much as Allah by pointing to the fact that even the Islamic deity is unreliable and untrustworthy. For instance, Allah has no hesitation to use lies and deceptions, even boasting that he is the best deceiver and conniver of them all:
But they (the Jews) deceived/schemed/connived, and Allah deceived/schemed/connived, for Allah is the best of deceivers/schemers/connivers! S. 3:54; cf. 8:30
Nor does he have any problems with changing his mind and his revelations:
Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things? S. 2:106
And when We put a revelation in place of (another) revelation, - and Allah knoweth best what He revealeth - they say: Lo! thou art but inventing. Most of them know not. S. 16:101
A Muslim can therefore legitimately reason that Muhammads imperfections and sins are no evidence against loving him just as much as his deity since even the latter has major moral defects and character issues.
For more on Allahs moral imperfections we recommend the following articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
Rebuttals to Sami Zaatari
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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