Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Muslim Abuse and Misuse of Modern Biblical Scholarship Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

It is time for a third installment in our series of rebuttals to antichristian and Christophobe Paul Bilal Williams where we quote the words of the very scholars that he swears by and recommends in order to show how the position of these very same authorities ends up proving that Muhammad is a false prophet. We will again be citing the work of noted NT scholar James D. G. Dunn.

Here is what Dunn had to say concerning the belief of the first Christians that Jesus actually shares in the very glory of God himself:

“‘Glory’ is regularly associated with Jesus' exaltation and coming (again). John's Gospel makes great play with the theme of Jesus' glory as glory of the only Son from the Father, already visible in his ministry, as glory that had been Jesus' glory before his entry into the world, and of Jesus' glorification as already happening in his crucifixion as well as in its sequel. Notable is the emphasis that God is glorified in the Son of Man (John 12.31-32 [sic]; 14.13; 17.1, 4), but also that Jesus is glorified in his disciples (17.10, 22). In Acts 7.55 Stephen sees the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Paul speaks of the crucifixion of 'the Lord of glory' (1 Cor. 2.8) and similarly laments the blindness that prevents so many from seeing 'the glory of Christ, who is the image of God' and 'the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' (2 Cor. 4.4, 6). He looks for the 'glory of Christ' as well as 'the glory of God' (8.19, 23). In the great hymnic poem that opens Ephesians, praise is offered repeatedly, for the glory of God's grace 'freely bestowed on us in the Beloved', for 'his [Christ's] glory', and for 'his [God's] glory' (Eph. 1.6, 12, 14), as all of a piece. And the first half of the letter ends with the ascription 'to him [God] be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever' [3.21]. The more famous hymn of Philippians 2.6-11 climaxes with the hope of every tongue confessing 'Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father' (2.11). And the letter ends with the reassurance that 'God will satisfy your every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus' (4.19). In 2 Thessalonians 2.14 the hope is to 'obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Titus 2.13 speaks of 'the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ'. Doxologies addressed to Christ alone ('To him be glory for ever and ever') are rare, but do appear within the New Testament, while in Jude 25 glory is given 'to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord'.

“What is striking in all this is the consistent thought of Jesus sharing in God’s glory, manifesting that glory in his mission on earth, as embodying God’s glory, and as the chief means and agent of God’s purpose to restore his creation to glory, the glory of Christ’s own resurrection and exaltation. The liturgical ascription (‘Glory to Christ’) as such may appear only in writings usually dated among the later documents of the New Testament, but the association of Christ with God’s glory seems to be consistent across the New Testament, and the conviction that the exalted Christ shares in God’s glory, and should be glorified with God or to the glory of God, IS PART OF CHRISTIANITY’S DISTINCTIVE FOUNDATION. UNDERSTANDABLY, Bauckham affirms ‘the attribution of doxologies to Christ is particularly clear evidence of unambiguously divine worship, i.e. worship that is appropriately offered only to the one God’; and he concludes that ‘there could be no more explicit way of expressing divine worship of Jesus than in the form of a doxology addressed to him.’” (Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The New Testament Evidence [Westminster John Knox Press 2010], 1. The language of worship, 1.4 Doxologies, pp. 23-25; bold and capital emphasis ours)

A quick perusal of the NT writings shows that Dunn is spot on (just as the copious citations which he himself provided fully confirm).

For instance, according to the inspired authors Christ is the unique Son that became God's Servant who has now been glorified by the Father himself, and who also existed alongside the Father in the same divine glory even before the creation of the world:

“’If I glorify Myself,’ Jesus answered, ‘My glory is nothing. My Father—you say about Him, “He is our God”—He is the One who glorifies Me.’” John 8:54

“When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself and will glorify Him at once.’” John 13:31-32

“Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You… Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.’” John 17:1, 5

"The God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he decided to release Him." Acts 3:13

"But we do see Jesusmade lower than the angels for a short time so that by God's grace He might taste death for everyonecrowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death." Hebrews 2:9

"They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow... who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God." 1 Peter 1:11, 21

He is even glorified by the Holy Spirit:

"When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you." John 16:13-15

He is the risen Lord who enters into heaven, which happens to be his place of glory:

“He said to them, ‘How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?’” Luke 24:25-26

He is the King who reigns in glory and has charge over the angels:

“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Him and said, ‘Teacher, we want You to do something for us if we ask You.’ ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ He asked them. They answered Him, ‘Allow us to sit at Your right and at Your left in Your glory.’” Mark 10:35-37

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” Mark 13:26-27

He is the Judge who comes in glory to determine the eternal fate of every individual:

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of HIS Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

"For the Son of Man is going to come with HIS angels in the glory of HIS Father, and then He will reward each according to what he has done." Matthew 16:27

"Jesus said to them, 'I assure you that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on His throne of glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.'" Matthew 19:28

When the Son of Man comes in HIS glory, and all the angels with HIM, then HE will sit on the throne of HIS glory. All the nations will be gathered before HIM, and HE will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. HE will put the sheep on HIS right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on HIS right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by MY Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation 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 took ME in; I was naked and you clothed ME; I was sick and you took care of ME; I was in prison and you visited 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 take YOU in, or without clothes and clothe YOU? When did we see YOU sick, or in prison, and visit YOU?’ And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of MINE, you did for ME.’ Then HE will also say to those on the 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 didn’t take ME in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe ME, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of ME.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see YOU hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help YOU?’ Then HE will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for ME either.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

Interestingly, the Quran assets that Allah is the Lord and possessor of the throne of glory:

Exalted be God, the True King. There is no god but Him, the Lord of the Glorious Throne. S. 23:116 N. J. Dawood

Lord of the Throne of Glory, S. 85:15 Y. Ali

Allah is also depicted as riding the clouds and is supposed to come with his angels to judge mankind:

Are they waiting for God to come down to them in the shadow of a cloud, with all the angels? Their fate will have been settled then. To God shall all things return. S. 2:210 Dawood

No! But when the earth is crushed to fine dust, and your Lord comes down with the angels, in their ranks, and Hell is brought near -- on that day man will remember his deeds. But what will memory avail him? He will say: 'Would that I had been charitable in my lifetime!' But on that day none will punish as He will punish, and none will bind with chains like His. O serene soul! Return to your Lord, joyful, and pleasing in His sight. Join My servants and enter My Paradise. S. 89:21-30 Dawood

Returning back to Christ, he is described as the Lord of glory, and the Lord who is Glory itself:

“None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:8

“My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory (tes doxes).” James 2:1

He is even said to be the human embodiment of the divine glory, or the One whose human face manifests the glory of God:

“In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:4-6

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:1-3

He is to be worshiped by all creation to the glory of God the Father, i.e., God is glorified in the worship of his Son since this is something that pleases him:

“For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

In fact, every creature must glorify the Son by virtue of being the divine Son of Man whom God has appointed to reign forever as King of all creation:

“I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, AND GLORY, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

“When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth. Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice: The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor AND GLORY and blessing! I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor AND GLORY and dominion to the One seated on the throne, AND TO THE LAMB, forever and ever! The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:8-14

In light of the foregoing, should it come as a surprise that one NT writing even goes as far as to identify the glory of Christ as that which belongs to one who happens to truly be our great God and Savior?

"while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works." Titus 2:13-14

Or should we have expected such an ascription seeing how the NT identifies Christ as the human incarnation of the divine glory, as the very Shekinah of God that became a man?

Suffice it to say, such views are totally incompatible with the teachings of Islam, and proves that the first Christians, which includes Jesus’ own disciples, were definitely not Muslims.

Hence, according to the research of one of Williams’ preferred NT scholars, Muhammad turns out to be a false prophet for claiming that Christ and his followers were all Muslims who held to the same beliefs that he did concerning God, Christ, salvation etc.

And just in case Williams wants to argue that such beliefs are a violation of pure monotheism, we will let Dunn set him straight:

“A second point to be noted takes up the complementary issue of whether worship of Jesus constitutes a denial of Christianity’s claim to be a monotheistic religion. As noted at the beginning of the Introduction, such a critique of Christian worship is made by other great monotheistic faiths, Judaism and Islam. But it has become increasingly clear from the inquiry that the understanding of God as one, of the unity of God, is not so readily defined as such critiques generally assume. The unity or oneness of God is not a straightforward mathematical unity. Only a little acquaintance with mathematics, from ancient times until the present, will be sufficient to remind us that the concept of number is more complex than at first seems likely, once we move on from merely counting apples and oranges or pennies and cents. We should recall, for example, that when Paul talks of the body of Christ, he insists that the body is one, the body is a unity but he insists equally that the one body is made up of many diverse members. Oneness is not necessarily an entity singular in all the elements that make it one, that form its oneness. Alternatively, a singular entity may be too big or complex (the cosmos) to be fully comprehended in its singularity. All that can be perceived are different aspects, aspects that do not easily cohere into one (in fundamental physics no one has yet been able to produce a unified field theory); but the inadequacies of human conceptualization do not constitute a denial of the singularity of the entity. So too, the oneness of God should not be assumed to be a narrowly defined mathematical unity. From earliest days in Israel's conceptuality of the oneness of God there was also recognized a diversity in the way God has been perceived or has made himself known. The one God made himself known in or through angelic form, as Spirit, as Wisdom, as Word, without detracting from his otherness, his transcendence, his being as the one and only God. So definitions of monotheism, of God's oneness, should not be so tightly drawn as to exclude such Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and early Jewish reflection on the subject. And Christianity can make the case that its evaluation of Jesus begins with that reflection and develops from it, but does so without calling in question that monotheism whose complex reality such reflection was attempting to articulate, however inadequately, and however open to misinterpretation of the monotheism espoused.” (Ibid, Conclusion, pp. 148-149; bold emphasis ours)

We couldn’t have said it any better!

Jesus Christ is Yahweh to the glory of God the Father!