JESUS IN THE QUR'AN AND THE BIBLE
By Samuel Green
This article examines the teaching of Dr. Jamal Badawi in his leaflet called, Jesus In The Qur'an and The Bible. In order for a person to teach from the Qur'an or the Bible they should be well educated in both of these books. Dr. Badawi may have knowledge of the Qur'an but he has little understanding of the Bible. Therefore his teaching from the Bible is mistaken and misleading. I invite you to look at the claims that Dr. Badawi makes about the Bible and decide for yourself whether or not he is telling the truth.
On page 3 of his leaflet Dr. Badawi summaries his understanding of the Bible. He makes the following claims about what the Bible teaches:
Let us now consider what the Old and New Testament teach and see if what Dr. Badawi says is true.
THE OLD TESTAMENT AND GOD-INCARNATE
Dr. Badawi claims there is no basis for God-incarnate in the Old Testament. Let us look at three Old Testament verses to consider if what Dr. Badawi says is true.
1. Isaiah was a prophet around 700 years before Jesus. The prophesy of Isaiah is in the Old Testament. Isaiah was given this revelation concerning the future Messiah:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6 RSV)
This verse clearly says that the Messiah will be called Mighty God. Thus Dr. Badawi is wrong to say the Old Testament has no concept of God-incarnate for the Messiah, who is human, is also said to be Mighty God.
2. Micah was a prophet around 700 years before Jesus. Micah was given the following revelation concerning the future Messiah:
But as for you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah ... from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler of Israel. His going forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2 NASB)
In this revelation we are told by God that his Messiah/ruler is to come from the small town of Bethlehem. However we are also told something else very special about the Messiah, we are told that he is, "from the days of eternity". Think about this phrase. Who is the one who is "from the days of eternity"? Surely only God is "from the days of eternity". If this is true then the Messiah must be divine. What other conclusion can we draw from this scripture? Thus Micah confirms the prophesy of Isaiah, that the Messiah will be both divine and human.
3. Finally we listen to the prophet Daniel. He was given a vision by God concerning the future Messiah. This vision came to him around 550 years before Jesus.
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom is one that shall never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 RSV)
In this vision God showed Daniel (and us) two important things about the Messiah (the son of man)
Together we have now listened to what God has revealed through three Old Testament prophets. What is clear is that the idea of God-incarnate has been revealed in the Old Testament. Dr. Badawi claimed there was no basis for God-incarnate in the Old Testament; he is clearly wrong.
THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE TRINITY
Dr. Badawi also claims that there is no basis for the Trinity in the Old Testament, but the Old Testament does provide a basis in at least three ways.
1. In the Old Testament God teaches that he progressively reveals more about himself with each new revelation he gives. Thus Moses had a greater revelation of the nature of God than the prophets who were before him:
And God said to Moses, "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD (YHWH) I did not make myself known to them." (Exodus 6:2-3 RSV)
We see in the above verses that God revealed more of his name (character) to Moses than he did to the prophets who were before Moses. Thus the Old Testament teaches that God progressively reveals himself to us, and this does provide a basis for the Trinity for the Trinity is the full revelation of God. The Trinity is the end-point of God revealing himself to us.
2. The second way that the Old Testament provides a basis for the Trinity is that it establishs the importance of the word of God. There is much that could be said about the word of God. Here is just a brief summary.
God created all things by his word. Genesis chapter 1 is the classic revelation of this. In this chapter we see that God speaks and creation comes into being. And so we see that his word is powerful and by it all things are created.
God's word is not created. Again Genesis 1 shows us this. God does not create his word rather his word issues forth from him.
God's word perfectly represents him. All people tell lies and so our word does not perfectly represent us for when we lie our word says something that we are not. But this is not the case with God. God is truthful and his word is the perfect representation of him. This is why the Bible condemns idols as a way of worshipping God for an idol does not represent God; it represents the work of a man. However the word of God prefectly represents God, and so we look to the word of God to see the God we worship.
God relates to his people by his word. Throughout the Bible we see that God speaks to his people and gives them his word so that they may know who he is and how he wants them to live.
God's word is exalted above all things. "I will bow down towards your holy temple, and give thanks to your name for your lovingkindness and your truth; for you have magnified your word according to all your name." (Psalm 138:2 NASB).
The word is an incarnation. God wrote the Bible through his prophets. He said of his prophet, "I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command." (Deut 18:18) So we see that scripture is divine, that is, it is God's own word not just the word of a prophet or man. Now consider the nature of this word in scripture: though it is divine it is spoken by men who are created; though it is divine it is written on paper that is also created. And so we see that God's divine word has become part of this creation. Scripture is the incarnation of the divine word of God. In fact anyone who believes that their scripture is the word of God already believes in the concept of incarnation.
God is immanent by his word. God is transcendent, that is, seperate and different to his creation. However God sustains creation and keeps it going; creation is totally dependant upon God. How does the transcendent God who is seperate from creation keep it going? How does he interact with it? The answer is by his word. By his word God created and by his word he sustains this universe. It is by his word that the transcendent God is immanent in creation.
The above Old Testament teaching about the word of God gives us the foundation to understand to person of Jesus because Jesus is the Word of God.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:1-2, 14)
And his (Jesus') name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13)
Therefore all that was said in the Old Testament about the word of God now applies to Jesus. Thus it is through Jesus that God created all things, and he is uncreated since he is God's word, and it is Jesus who perfectly represents God, and it is through Jesus that God relates to his people, and it is Jesus who has been exalted above all things. All this is because Jesus is the Word of God; he is the greatest incarnation that God has ever given.
Jesus being the Word of God is an integral part of the doctrine of the Trinity. For Dr. Badawi to say that the Old Testament does not provide a basis for the Trinity just shows that he does not understand the very basic teaching of the Old Testament about the word of God.
3. The third way in which the Old Testament provides a basis for the Trinity is that it teaches us three important facts about the nature of God. These three facts make the Trinity logical. Let us now consider what these facts are.
Fact 1. God is more complex and sophisticated than us. This may sound obvious but it is a fact we tend to forget. God is the creator of all things; he sustains all things and all things work according to his purpose. God is greater than you; God is more complex and sophisticated than you are. Therefore the nature of God is more complex than that of a man. This means that we must not limit God and assume that he has a simple nature like us; you cannot use yourself and your own experience of life to determine what the personal nature of God is like.
Fact 2. God is relational. By this I mean that God is not an impersonal force like electricity which has no feeling or mind, rather he is a God who loves, is faithful, compassionate, is angered by sin, and desires justice. He is a God who knows and can be known. This is what I mean when I say God is relational.
Fact 3. God is self-sufficient in everything. By this I mean that God is not dependant upon anybody for anything. God does not need anyone to help him in anyway he is completely self-sufficient for all things. God is the one who made all creation; creation did not make him. God is the one who gives life to creation; creation does not give life to God. This also means that God is completely self-sufficient with regards to his relational nature, eg. his abilitly to love. Think about this, God did not make us because he needed to related to someone; he is self-sufficient in everything including his relational aspect.
Now these facts are just the general teaching about God from the Old Testament and most believers will agree with them without any dispute. However these basic facts about God also provide the logic of the Trinity; they make the Trinity logical. Please consider the logical implications from the above three facts.
If God is relational and self-sufficient then he must be self-sufficient in the relational aspect of his being. That is, God did not have to create us so as to express his relational attributes (love, faithfulness, etc.), if he did then he would not be self-sufficient because he would depend upon us in order to express his relational attributes. No, God is self-sufficient in all things including his relational attributes, this means that God's relational attributes function within himself because he is self-sufficient. That is, God relates within himself. The very nature of God is a relationship - an eternal relationship. Thus when God fully reveals himself what we see is this eternal relationship - Father, Son, and Spirit. This is not mysterious or illogical but consistent for a relational, self-sufficient God. This is more complex than the nature of a human but we are not self-sufficient. God is more complex and sophisticated than us.
THE NEW TESTAMENT - THE STATEMENTS OF JESUS
Dr. Badawi claims that there is no statement in the New Testament by Jesus that he is God. Is what Dr. Badawi teaches true? Consider the following Scriptures:
1. Over 700 years before Jesus came God said through the prophet Isaiah:
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." (Isaiah 44:6 RSV)
Here we clearly see that God calls himself, "the first and the last". Now consider the words of Jesus from the New Testament:
Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore. (Revelation 1:17-18 and 22:12-13 RSV)
Jesus refers to himself with the exact same title that is used of God! What is Jesus saying about himself? Consider another example where Jesus calls himself by a name of God.
2. When God revealed himself to Moses, Moses asked God to tell him his name. God replied to Moses with the following words:
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14 RSV)
So we see that one of the names of God is "I am". When we read the New Testament we see that Jesus also calls himself by this name:
(Jesus said) "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad". The Jews then said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple. (John 8:56-59 RSV)
3. In the Gospel it is recorded that one of Jesus' disciples asked him to show them God. Jesus replied that he did not have to because if they have seen him then they have seen God.
Phillip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Phillip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say show us the father?" (John 14:8-9)
4. Finally, the Bible strictly forbids the worship of anyone other than God. This can be seen by looking at the following events recorded in the New Testament. The first of these tells us about the Apostle Peter and how he stopped a man from worshipping him:
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man." (Acts 10:25-26 RSV)
In fact the Bible says that even if a person has just received a revelation from an angel they still must not worship the angel:
And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God." Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." (Revelation 19:9-10 RSV)
Therefore the Bible is clear that we must not worship men or angels but only God. However, when the Apostle Thomas worshipped Jesus as God, Jesus did not rebuke him for blasphemy, rather Jesus accepted what Thomas said:
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." (John 20:26-29 RSV)
Jamal Badawi does not know enough of the Bible to act as a teacher of it. What he says of the Old and New Testament is false. I ask you not to believe Badwai or even myself but please look at the scripture for yourself and listen to God.
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