Christian Analysis of Shabir Ally's Comments On: THE DEBATE with ALAN STORKY
My debate with Alan Storky on March 1, 1999 at the University of Manchester was a successful one. We debated two topics. The first topic was: "Who is God?" The second topic was: "Who is
Who is God?
In discussing the first topic I showed that the firm teaching that God is one is stated in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and in the Glorious Qur'an. I claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity is a departure from this continuous teaching. Alan tried to refute this claim with citations from the Bible. However, I explained that his citations do not prove the point. It remains, then, that there is no passage in the Old or New Testaments that command a belief in the Trinity.
First, Shabir assumes that the Old and the New Testament teaching that there is only one God somehow discredits the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet, the very foundation of the Trinity is that there is only one supreme God. Had the Holy Bible not taught the absolute unity of God then instead of having the Trinity we would end up with Tritheism, the belief in three separate gods.
Shabir has seemingly adopted to attack a straw man as opposed to dealing with what Trinitarians actually believe.
Second, since we have not personally examined the debate we cannot comment on Alan's performance. Suffice it to say the Trinity is taught in both Old and New Testament. In this article, we will limit ourselves to the OT evidence for the Trinity.
THE ANGEL OF YAHWEH
The first line of evidence from the OT that the one true God is a plurality can be found in the figure known as the Angel of Yahweh. Unlike the other angels, this particular figure receives worship due to God, identifies himself as Yahweh God and also appears in human form. In fact, the OT also indicates that this Angel is actually the Messiah that was predicted to come into the world.
"The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, 'Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?' 'I'm running away from my mistress Sarai,' she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, 'Go back to your mistress and submit to her.' The angel added, 'I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.' The angel of the LORD also said to her: 'You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.' She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.' That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh an d Bered." Genesis 16:7-14
The Angel of the LORD claims to be able to personally bless Hagar by giving her descendants too numerous to count. The author of Genesis (Moses) addresses the Angel as Yahweh/LORD, with Hagar herself calling the Angel the God who sees her.
"Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: 'I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 'Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.' He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.' Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.'" Genesis 28:10-22
According to this passage, Jacob saw Yahweh and anointed a pillar to him. Yet, elsewhere the one who appeared to Jacob is identified as the Angel of Yahweh:
"In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob.' I answered, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'" Genesis 31:10-13
Another time where the Angel appears is in Genesis 32:24-30
"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Jacob replied, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' The man asked him, 'What is your name?' 'Jacob,' he answered. Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.' Jacob said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he replied, 'Why do you ask my name?' Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, 'It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.'"
Hosea identifies the man whom Jacob wrestled with as the Angel of Yahweh:
"The LORD has a charge to bring against Judah; he will punish Jacob according to his ways and repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he grasped his brother's heel; as a man he struggled with God. He struggled with the ANGEL and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there- the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name of renown!" Hosea 12:2-5
The Angel again is identified as Yahweh God. Another time where the Angel's deity is affirmed is at Exodus 23:20-23:
"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out." Exodus 23:20-23
Not only does the Angel forgive sins and has the power to destroy Israel's enemies, but he also embodies within his very own being the Divine nature and character of Yahweh! Dr. Robert A. Morey comments on the significance of the Angel embodying the Divine Name of Yahweh:
"To the Jews at that time, the name of God was a revelation of His divine nature. As Ellicot correctly pointed out, 'God and His name are almost convertible terms. He is never said to set His Name in a man.' Hengstenberg said, 'The name of God can dwell in him only, who is originally of the same nature with God.' Dean Alford comments:
He is no created angel, but a form of the Divine Presence, bearing the name of Jehovah, a in ch. xiii. 21, and clothed with His attributes, and indeed identified in action (ver. 22) with Him; for it is not said 'he will be an enemy.' &c., but 'I will be,' as equivalent: and (23) the way in which this will be shewn is by his going before thee, and his cuting off the nations.
"The Divine Name was 'in' the Messenger in the sense that what God was the Messenger was. Keil explains:
Jehovah revealed Himself in him; and hence he is called in chap. xxxiii. 15,16, the face of Jehovah, because the essential nature of Jehovah was manifested in him.
"In the Old Testament, the 'name' of someone revealed his character. For example, the name 'Jacob' meant 'scoundrel' and so he was. Thus, the statement that God's 'name' is in the Messenger can only mean that this Messenger has the character of God " (Morey, Trinity-Evidence and Issues [Word Publishing; Grand Rapids, MI 1996], p. 152)
The interesting thing about this is that angels never allow anyone to worship them, nor are they ever addressed as God. In fact, angels often give their names unlike the Angel of Yahweh who never gave out his personal name:
"While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.'" Daniel 8:15-16
"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill- while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice." Daniel 9:20-21
"A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, 'Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.' And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. Then he continued, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come' but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince." Daniel 10:10-14, 21
"The angel answered, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." Luke 1:19
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary." Luke 1:26-27
"Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions." Colossians 2:18
"Then the angel said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"' And he added, 'These are the true words of God.' At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'" Revelation 19:9-10
"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!'" Revelation 22:8-9
Proof that the Angel of Yahweh is actually the preincarnate Christ can be seen from the following OT passages:
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger (Hebrew- angel) of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty." Malachi 3:1
According to this messianic passage the One who was to come to his temple is none other than the Angel of the Covenant, the very same Angel who is referred to as Yahweh:
"The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, 'I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, "I will never break MY COVENANT with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars." Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be [thorns] in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.' When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD." Judges 2:1-5
Seeing that Malachi 3:1 has been traditionally viewed to predict the advent of the Messiah, this affirms that Jesus is the Angel of Yahweh. The other proof comes from Judges 13:3-23:
"And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold, you are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore beware, and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.' Then the woman came and told her husband, 'A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; I did not ask him whence he was, and he did not tell me his name; but he said to me, "Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son; so then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death."' Then Mano'ah entreated the LORD, and said, 'O, LORD, I pray thee, let the man of God whom thou didst send come again to us, and teach us what we are to do with the boy that will be born.' And God listened to the voice of Mano'ah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but Mano'ah her husband was not with her. And the woman ran in haste and told her husband, 'Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.' And Mano'ah arose and went after his wife, and came to the man and said to him, 'Are you the man who spoke to this woman?' And he said, 'I am.' And Mano'ah said, 'Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy's manner of life, and what is he to do?' And the angel of the LORD said to Mano'ah, 'Of all that I said to the woman let her beware. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.' Mano'ah said to the angel of the LORD, 'Pray, let us detain you, and prepare a kid for you.' And the angel of the LORD said to Mano'ah, 'If you detain me, I will not eat of your food; but if you make ready a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.' (For Mano'ah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) And Mano'ah said to the angel of the LORD, 'What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?' And the angel of the LORD said to him, 'Why do you ask my name, seeing it is WONDERFUL?' So Mano'ah took the kid with the cereal offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD, to him who works wonders. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar while Mano'ah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Mano'ah and to his wife. Then Mano'ah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. And Mano'ah said to his wife, 'We shall surely die, for we have seen God.' But his wife said to him, 'If the LORD had meant to kill us, he w ould not have accepted a burnt offering and a cereal offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.'" RSV
The Angel once again appears as a man and is identified as God. According to the Angel his name is Wonderful, which is one of the names given to the Messiah in prophecy!:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called WONDERFUL Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Hence, in light of the preceding evidence there can be no doubt that the OT picture of the Angel of Yahweh affirms that God is multi-personal and that Jesus Christ eternally preexisted as the divine Angel of God.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD
The other personality that the OT identifies as God is the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given the following divine functions and qualities:
"The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: 'When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God." 2 Samuel 23:2-3
"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Genesis 1:2
"The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life." Job 33:4
"I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again. However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp." Numbers 11:17, 24-26
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:7-12
"By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD, and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses' lips." Psalm 106:32-33
"Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him?" Isaiah 40:13 NASB
"Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them." Isaiah 63:10
"Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the LORD that faces east. There at the entrance to the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. The LORD said to me, 'Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city. They say, "Will it not soon be time to build houses? This city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat." Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.' Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon me, and he told me to say: 'This is what the LORD says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.'" Ezekiel 11:1-5
"For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples." Nehemiah 9:30
"Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people - where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name." Isaiah 63:11-14
"The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person." 1 Samuel 10:6
"When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth." Psalm 104:30
"The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest." Isaiah 32:14-15
"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God." Ezekiel 36:24-28
"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts - to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you." Exodus 31:1-6
"Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts." Exodus 35:30-31
"Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the Spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses." Deuteronomy 34:9
"After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.' As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying. When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, 'What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?'" 1 Samuel 10:5-11
"He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. 'All this,' David said, 'I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.'" 1 Chronicles 28:12, 19
"But it is the Spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding For I am full of words, and the Spirit within me compels me." Job 32:8, 18
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." Isaiah 11:1-2
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn." Isaiah 61:1-2
"On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 'Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, "Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, O Zerubbabel," declares the LORD. "Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land," declares the LORD, "and work. For I am with you," declares the LORD Almighty. "This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear."'" Haggai 2:1-5
"So he said to me, 'This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,"' says the LORD Almighty." Zechariah 4:6
I further claimed that there is nothing in reason that would command a belief in the Trinity. In fact, reason seems to dictate a disbelief in that doctrine. In reply, Alan said that when it comes to these matters "rationality bites the dust." Alan did not attempt to show, therefore, that the Trinity is a reasonable doctrine.
Shabir now appeals to reason as the basis to reject the Trinity. What Shabir has attempted to do is to place limits on the Creator by forcing God to be like his creation. Hence, if Shabir is unable to find anything in creation or through human reason that points to God's Triune Being then it cannot be true.
The problem with Shabir's position is that it conflicts with the testimony of God's true Word, the Holy Bible, and Shabir's own scripture. Both the Holy Bible and the Quran clearly teach that God is completely unlike his creation, being absolutely unique in his mode of existence:
"Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God." Psalm 86:8-10
"The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you." Psalm 89:5-8
"Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?" Psalm 113:5-6
"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?" Isaiah 40:12-18
"'To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." Isaiah 40:25-26
"No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols. Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz. What the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple- all made by skilled workers. But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath." Jeremiah 10:6-10
"Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him." S. 112:1-4
This being the case, Shabir has no basis to use finite human rationality to reject the Trinity since God transcends both human logic and creation. We need to be clear here ... we are not saying that God's Triunity is irrational since it is not. Rather, we are arguing that God's mode of existence TRANSCENDS the rationality of our finite minds to fathom.
Finally, seeing that God's Triunity is completely unlike anything in creation, transcending human logic and comprehension, this then serves to strengthen the case for the Trinity being a revealed truth from God. Note that the above citations state that God is unlike anything in creation. Shabir himself implicitly admits that there is nothing in creation or human reason which points to the Trinity. Seeing that the Trinity is unlike anything in all creation this makes it all the more likely that it is true. After all, this better comports with the teaching that God is utterly unique and distinct from his creation, existing in a manner much more complex than that of his creation.
Since Shabir likes to use reason, we put this argument in the form of a syllogism in order to help clarify the point we are making:
If Shabir denies this then he must explain to us where did the doctrine of the Trinity come from? If he wishes to argue that it is a concoction of the Church, then where did the Church come up with such an idea? After all, even Shabir admits that rationality doesn't lead one to belief in the Trinity, so then what led the Church to believe and formulate this doctrine?
If the Church didn't derive this from special revelation from God, then they must have derived it from the use of reason and logic which means that Shabir is again wrong. In other words, since Shabir doesn't believe that Christians derived this from the Bible, or from God, then he would have to conclude that the Church used reasoning and philosophy to formulate this teaching. But If Shabir embraces this point, and if the Church formulated the Trinity on the basis of philosophical reasoning, then this means that the Trinity can be derived through the use of reason, thereby falsifying Shabir's claim to the contrary!
Hence, either way Shabir ends up refuting himself.
Who is Jesus?
In discussing the second topic, I showed that the continuous clear teaching about Jesus in the New Testament is that Jesus is a Servant and Messenger of God. I stressed that Muslims believe in Jesus. We believe that Jesus was the Messiah; that he was born of a virgin; that he performed many miracles by God's leave; that God raised him up; and that God will send him again. I claimed that there is nothing in the Bible to contradict this belief. Alan was unable to produce any firm evidence from the Bible to disprove me.
If Shabir was able to show that nothing in the NT depiction of Jesus contradicted the Muslim view of Christ, then Shabir was obviously not reading carefully.
The love of God and Jesus
Alan stressed that God is love. This love is demonstrated in the passion of Jesus. In reply, I showed that if the Trinity and the Divine Sonship of Jesus are not demanded by scripture, then they are later doctrines that should be abandoned. The understanding that God is one is the very first commandment stressed in the Bible. If Christianity fails on this commandment the idea that God is love will not cancel this failure.
First, an honest reading of scripture demands the belief in the Trinity and the Divine Sonship of Jesus.
Second, Storkey's point is still valid. Seeing that God is completely self-sufficient and self-existent then the fact that he is love would demand a plurality within his own Being in order for God to retain his self-sufficiency. True love needs an object in which it is directed. If God is a singularity-within-unity then either he is not the source of true love or he no longer remains self-sufficient. This is due to the fact that God would require an object outside his own mode of existence in order to express his own love. This then implies that God was dependent upon another rational being(s) in order for God to remain the source of true love, which then nullifies his self-sufficiency.
Yet, the doctrine of the Trinity affirms that God is both self-sufficient and the source of true love. The Trinity is able to direct its love towards its own self. The Triune God does not require an object outside his own Being in which to direct his eternal and unconditional love. The three Persons of the Godhead become the objects of the others' love.
Lest one think that this is merely a philosophical argument as opposed to a biblical one, note what the following passages say:
"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love... So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." 1 John 4:8, 16
"Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24
"to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love," Colossians 1:13 NKJV
Clearly the Bible says that God is love, that he is the true source of pure, selfless love. At the same time the Holy Scriptures teach that from all eternity Jesus, his Son, is the object of his love. Thus, God's love is unconditional and doesn't need anyone outside of his own Being in order for that love to be expressed unconditionally. And here is the greatness of God ... even though he doesn't need anyone or anything to express his love so that it can truly be unconditional and selfless, since he has the Son, he still chooses to bestow his love freely on others, on those whose existence are not necessary for his own life and reality. He does so out of pure grace, out of unmerited favor!
Finally, Shabir again assumes that the teaching that God is one nullifies the Triunity of God. What Shabir has assumed is that oneness must mean a singularity-within-unity as opposed to God being a plurality-within-unity. Shabir seemingly does not realize that you can have unity without this implying singularity. The Trinity is in complete harmony with the belief that God is one.
The discussion was a lively one, with quick interchanges between speakers. Both speakers marshaled good arguments in support of what they believe. The results of our discussion on the two topics is that the arguments presented proved that the Trinity was a teaching invented after the Bible was written and not expressed within the Bible. Moreover, the doctrine of the Divine Sonship of Jesus is also a later idea read back into the Gospels. The first commandment in the Bible cannot be abandoned.
If Shabir was able to prove that the Trinity was a teaching invented after the Bible was written, then Shabir did not accurately interpret the Holy Bible. Shabir has either not read the Bible clearly, or deliberately misrepresented the biblical teaching on the Trinity. Furthermore, Shabir implicitly affirms that the Trinity is a biblical teaching since he now states that the divine sonship of Christ was read back into the Gospels. Hence, the fact that the Gospels do teach the divinity of Jesus implicitly affirms that the God of scripture is multi-personal because the Gospel writers include Christ in the divine identity while still maintaining a distinction between him and the Father.
Finally, Shabir has again committed both the straw man fallacy and the fallacy of false dilemma. He again assumes that to say that God is one negates the belief in the Trinity. Yet, the heart of trinitarianism is that God is absolutely one and hence Shabir chases another straw man here and assumes that God must either be one or three, but cannot be both.
In the discussion that followed many Christians said that Alan did not adequately represent them. This is a frequent complaint that I have heard after many debates. I hope that this matter will be looked into prior to every debate rather than be addressed as a complaint after the debate.
I have found also that frequently after a debate excuses are offered for the outcome of the debate.
In this case, there was some discussion about my reading of a verse from Luke's Gospel during the question period. Because of the length of discussion this matter has generated, I think it best to go into some detail here.
Near the end of the debate, a questioner asked me to notice that in Luke 22:70 Jesus admitted that he is the Son of God. Instead of replying in my own words, I read the passage out loud. It so happens that the Bible version I had read from was different than what the questioner had in mind. The questioner was referring to the New International Version whereas I was referring to the New American Bible. Whereas his version showed that Jesus admitted being the Son of God, my version showed that he did not admit it. After I read it there was a roar of laughter in the audience.
In actuality, the very version used by Shabir affirms that Jesus was not denying his deity in Luke 22:70. Rather, Jesus was indicating that even his enemies had indirectly acknowledged his deity by asking him the question in the first place. Had Shabir examined to see how Jesus used this particular expression elsewhere, he would have discovered this fact for himself.
Messianic Jewish believer, Dr. David Stern explains the Aramaic idiom behind Jesus' saying in Luke 22:70:
"You say I am, literally, 'You say,' with the same import here as the modern English idiom, 'You said it!' Yeshua's meaning here is, 'Yes, I am the Son of God, just as you have asked in your question.' That Yeshua's inquirers understood him is clear from their response in v. 71 " (Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary [Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. fifth edition 1996], p. 146)
Stern's interpretation bears out when we notice elsewhere how Jesus used the same phrase:
"'The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.' Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?' He answered, 'You have said so.'" Matthew 26:24-25 NAB
It is obvious that Jesus was not denying that Judas was his betrayer, but was rather confirming that Judas had answered his own question.
"Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charge against him, saying, 'We found this man misleading our people; he opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.' Pilate asked him, 'Are you the king of the Jews?' He said to him in reply, 'You say so.'" Luke 23:1-3 NAB
That Jesus' reply was taken as an affirmative statement can be seen in the charges posted above his cross:
"Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, 'If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.' Above him there was an inscription that read, 'This is the King of the Jews.'" Luke 23:37-38 NAB
Interestingly, after reading this inscription the chief priests complained:
"Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, 'Do not write "The King of the Jews," but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.' Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written.'" John 19:19-22
Stern comments on Luke 23:3:
"The words are yours. The Greek is the same as five verses above (see 22:70&N). Here Yeshua means that Pilate has hit upon the truth." (Stern, p. 147)
Matthew further solidifies the point that Jesus' answer was taken as a positive affirmation of his divine sonship:
"But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, 'I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" Matthew 26:63-64 RSV
While Christ hung on the cross, the onlookers jeered him for claiming to be God's Son:
"And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, 'You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.' So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 'He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" Matthew 27:39-43 RSV
NT Catholic Scholar Raymond E. Brown comments:
"In Matt Jesus answers the high priest's combined question about the Messiah, Son of God thus: 'That is what you say.' This is an affirmative, but one that puts responsibility on the questioner for the interpretation being given to the point at issue- an interpretation about which the speaker is not enthusiastic. If one seeks on the level of the story-line why the Matthean Jesus would have been so enthusiastic when Peter used these combined titles but is now much more cautious when the high priest uses them, the solution is that Peter used them as a confession uttered under divine revelation while the high priest uses them as a disbelieving question to find evidence against Jesus." (Brown, Introduction to New Testament Christology [Paulist Press New York/Mahwah, 1994], pp. 76-77)
Brown's footnote is noteworthy:
"A few scholars try to argue to the contrary; but later in clear dependence on Jesus' having made such an affirmation, the passerby mock him as he hangs on the cross, 'If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross' (Matt 27:40). Indeed, in their mockery the chief priests and the elders report, 'He said, "I am the Son of God"' (27:43) " (Ibid)
Finally, the entire theme of Luke is that Jesus is the divine Son of God as well as the perfect Man. Luke begins and ends his Gospel with this affirmation:
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.' 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'" Luke 1:26-35
"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'" Luke 3:21-22
"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, 'Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.' When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.'" Luke 9:28-36
Luke twice records the Father affirming from heaven that Jesus is his beloved Son.
"Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, 'You are the Son of God!' But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ." Luke 4:41
"When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!'" Luke 8:27-28
Jesus also implicitly affirms his divine Sonship by his constant referral to God as his Father:
"When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. Why were you searching for me? he asked. Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house? But they did not understand what he was saying to them." Luke 2:48-50
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Luke 10:22
For a person to claim that he has the same intimate knowledge of God that God has of him and that he alone is able to reveal God to whomever he chooses, is either blasphemy or a clear affirmation that this individual is God.
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:46
Now Alan complains that, first, I was reading from an inaccurate translation. Second, I should have read the next verse which says that the Jewish scholars took Jesus's statement for blasphemy. Third, I should have read the part about Jesus being the Son of Man.
MY READING OF LUKE 22:70
As for the first complaint, I was reading from a reputable Christian Bible. The New American Bible is not a Muslim Bible. Nor is it a Bible produced by any individual or by any fringe group of Christians. It is a popular mainstream Bible. I cannot help it if one Bible is different from another on such a key point for Christians.
The words I read were accurate. I did not change the words in any way. When I pointed this out to Alan he protested, "But you did not pronounce it the right way!" Now the compliant has shifted to new ground.
Who to believe Jesus or his enemies?
The next verse shows that the Jewish scholars took Jesus' words for blasphemy. Alan thinks it was unfair of me to not read this verse also.
This complaint is unwarranted. The questioner had asked me to read Jesus' words, not his enemies' interpretation. That I read. The questioner had asked me to read a specific verse. That I read. The reading of the enemies' conclusion would not have changed to thrust of what I read. The entire passage shows that whereas Jesus did not admit being the Son of God the high priest nevertheless condemned him for blasphemy. The passage shows that they were so determined to put him to death that they kept bringing false witnesses against him to twist his words and convict him. Yet Alan thinks that the conclusion of these people is true and that I should have read it out.
On the other hand, I would think that if I had read it out to a perceptive audience they would recognize a fallacy in Alan's position. Whereas Jesus says one thing and his enemies conclude another, Alan seems to go with the other. The audience was already convinced from my reading of Jesus's words in Luke 22:70 in which he did not admit being the Son of God.
Actually Alan was right in siding with Jesus' enemies since Luke, Jesus, the apostles and even the demons affirm that Jesus is the divine Son of God. See above.
THE SON OF MAN & DANIEL 7:14
Alan thinks that I should have read verse 69 which shows that Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man who is spoken of in Daniel 7:14. My reply to this is fourfold.
First, "Son of man" is not the "Son of God." If I had read the verse it would only have lent further support to my position.
Yet, Jesus uses the phrase "Son of Man" to denote both his divine prerogatives and divine functions. For instance, Jesus as the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mat. 12:8), forgives sins (Mark 2:1-12), judges all flesh (Mat. 25:31-46; John 5:27), and sits at God's right hand (Mark 14:62).
Second, as Alan agreed, many Biblical scholars say that often it seems that Jesus is speaking of the Son of Man as a future apocalyptic figure other than himself. I would say then that if Son of Man means Son of God then there is another Son of God according to such scholars. Alan's real complaint, then, is not about what the verse says but about what Alan's interpretation of it says. Alan would not agree with the other interpretation.
Shabir clings to a view that is both outdated and rejected by the consensus of NT scholarship. The only ones who reject Jesus' identity as the apocalyptic Son of Man are those with an anti-supernatural bias and a low view of the historical credibility of the Gospels. Yet, both Jesus and the NT writers know of only one Son of Man, namely Christ:
"While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and 'sinners' came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and "sinners"?' On hearing this, Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" Matthew 9:10-13
"For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and '"sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by her actions." Matthew 11:18-19
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:40
"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" Matthew 16:13-16
"As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, 'Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.'" Matthew 17:9
"When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.' And the disciples were filled with grief." Matthew 17:22-23
"Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 'We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!' just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" Matthew 20:17-19, 28
"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that HE must be killed and after three days rise again." Mark 8:31
"As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, 'I will follow YOU wherever YOU go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'" Luke 9:37-38
"In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him' While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?'" Luke 22:20-22, 47-48
"'If you are the Christ,' they said, 'tell us.' Jesus answered, 'If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.'" Luke 22:67-69
"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'" Acts 7:55-56
"I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone 'like a son of man,' dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'" Revelation 1:12-18
This sufficiently puts to rest the notion that the apocalyptic Son of Man is someone other than Jesus Christ.
Third, Jesus did not say that he has in mind here Daniel 7:14. Alan thinks he does. Maybe Alan is right, but this is not what Jesus said. It is an interpretation of what Jesus said.
It is an interpretation that is consistent with the manner in which Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man, as the following verses prove. Let us compare Daniel 7:13-14 with what Jesus and others say about Christ:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14
"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. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matthew 16:27-28
"Peter answered him, 'We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.'" Matthew 19:27-30
"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.'" Matthew 25:31-34
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" Matthew 28:18
"If anyone is ashamed of ME and MY WORDS in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mark 8:38
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. ou will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'" Luke 1:26-33
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11
"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen." Revelation 1:7
Fourth, a quick review of the Daniel passage shows that Christians have grossly misunderstood this passage. I am glad that Jesus did not commit himself to the same misunderstanding. Although the passage speaks of one likened to the Son of Man, the passage itself explains that the Son of Man is a metaphor for the true servants of God to whom God will give the kingdom. This passage does not refer to a divine being called the Son of Man. Alan and others have misunderstood this passage. It is based on this misunderstanding that Alan insists that I should have read Luke 22:69 which he thinks is a reference to Daniel.
It is sheer arrogance for Shabir to claim that Christians have misunderstood the passage. This seemingly implies that unlike Christians, Shabir himself has not committed this same misunderstanding but was able to correctly interpret the passage in question.
There are several reasons why the Son of Man in Daniel does not refer to the true servants of God.
First, Daniel says that the Son of Man comes on "the clouds of heaven", which implies that this figure is of heavenly origin. In fact, coming on clouds is often used in the OT to refer to God visibly appearing on earth:
"And the LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." Exodus 13:21-22
"And the angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night." Exodus 14:19-20
"Then the cloud covered the meeting of the tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled don upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the Israelites would set out on their journey. But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward. In the day time the cloud of the LORD was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey." Exodus 40:34-38 NAB
Hence, this cannot refer to God's earthly servants.
Second, whenever the term "son of man" is used in the OT it clearly refers to a specific person, not to a group of individuals. For instance in the book of Ezekiel, God constantly refers to the prophet as a "son of man." (cf. Ezekiel 2:1-3, 8; 3:1-5) In fact, Daniel himself is called a "son of man":
"As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. 'Son of man,' he said to me, 'understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.'" Daniel 8:17
Another time where the phrase is used it clearly refers to the one whom God had appointed to be his right hand man:
"Return to us, O God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the branch you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish. Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself." Psalm 80:15-17
Interestingly, elsewhere in the Psalms God's right hand man is identified as the Messianic king:
"The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool for your feet.'" Psalm 110:1
Third, the Rabbis interpreted Daniel 7:13-14 messianicly, even going so far as to call him "the son of the clouds," a title specifically derived from Daniel:
"Rabbi Alexandrai said: Rabbi Jehoshua ben Levi contrasted Dan 7.13...and Zech 9.9... If the Israelites are deserving, he [messiah] will come with the clouds of heaven; if they are not deserving, poor and riding on a donkey..." Sanhedrin 98a
" He offered the dish and the basin as symbols of the kings of the House of David who would in time to come spring from him and who would reign supreme on sea and on land, kings like Solomon and King Messiah... How do we know the same of the King Messiah? Because it is written 'He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of the earth'. How do we know that he will hold sway on land? Because it is written, 'All kings shall prostate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him' and it also says, 'Behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man... and there was given unto him dominion... that all the peoples... should serve him', etc....since the nations brought gifts to Solomon and will in time to come bring similarly to the King Messiah..." (Midrash Rabbah-Numbers, vol 2, translated by Judah J. Slotki [Freedman and Simon, gen. eds.]; Soncino, 1983 pp. 526-529)
Stern's commentary on Matthew 24:30 relates to this issue:
"Coming on the clouds. Again, in the same part of the Talmud we read:
'Rabbi Nachman said to Rabbi Yitzchak, "Have you heard when Bar-Nafle will come?" "Who is Bar-Nafle?" he asked. "Messiah," he answered. "Do you call Messiah Bar-Nafle?" "Yes," he replied, "for it is written, 'In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David hanofelet [that is fallen]'" (Amos 9:11)' (Sanhedrin 96b-97a)
"The Soncino English edition of the Talmud adds in note by the general editor, Isidor Epstein, that bar-nofelet means 'literally, "son of the fallen." Bar-Nafle is generally assumed to represent the Greek uios nephelon, the "son of the clouds"; cf. Daniel 7:13, "there came with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man," which R. Nachman gave a Hebrew connotation.' The passage from Amos is also quoted in Ac 15:16." (Stern, pp. 74-75)
Furthermore, we also find the identification of the Danielic Son of Man with the Messiah throughout the Jewish literature before, during and shortly after Christ. This affirms that from early on the Jews viewed the Son of Man as referring to the one whom God promised to send as Israel's Deliverer:
"As I kept looking the wind made something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea. And I saw that this man flew with the clouds of heaven." 2 Esdras 13:3
"This is the interpretation of the vision: As for your seeing a man come up from the heart of the sea, this is he whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages, who will himself deliver his creation;" 2 Esdras 13:25
"When these things take place and the signs occur that I showed you before, then my Son will be revealed, whom you saw as a man coming up from the sea." 2 Esdras 13:32
"At that place, I saw the One to whom belongs the time before time. And his head was white like wool, and there was with him another individual, whose face was like that of a human being. His countenance was full of grace like that of one among the holy angels...'Who is this?'...And he answered me and said, 'This is the Son of Man, to whom belongs righteousness, and with whom righteousness dwells.... this Son of Man whom you have seen is the One who would remove the kings and the mighty ones from their comfortable seats and the strong ones from their thrones..." 1 Enoch 46.1ff
"The Elect One will sit on [God's] throne." 1 Enoch 51:3
"And he said to me, 'All these things which you have seen happen by the authority of his Messiah so that he may give orders and be praised upon the earth.'" 1 Enoch 52:4
"...and pain shall seize them when they see that Son of Man sitting on the throne of his glory." 1 Enoch 62:5
"For the Son of Man was concealed from the beginning, and the Most High One preserved him in the presence of his power; then he revealed him to the holy and elect ones." 1 Enoch 62:7
"The Lord of the Spirits will abide over them; they shall eat and rest and rise with that Son of Man forever and ever..." 1 Enoch 62:14
"Thenceforth nothing that is corruptible shall be found; for that Son of Man has appeared and has seated himself upon the throne of his glory; and all evil shall disappear from before his face; he shall go and tell to that Son of Man, and he shall be strong before the Lord of the Spirits." 1 Enoch 69:29
"And it happened after this that his living name was raised up before that Son of Man and to the Lord from among those who dwell upon the earth..." 1 Enoch 70:1
"Until I (the Lord of v.1) and my son are united with them forever in the upright paths in their lifetime..." 1 Enoch 105:2
Finally, as we have already shown that the Lord Jesus clearly referred to himself as that Son of Man seen by the prophet Daniel.
Altogether, it has been a memorable debate. I regret that so much focus is now given to my reading of one Bible verse during the question period. Surely I read many verses from memory during the meat of the debate. Why is there no complaint about any of these verses?
The fact is that Shabir's entire presentation is faulty as far as we can assess from what he has written in this article. His misinterpretation of Luke 22:70 only compounds the problem.
And these are the verses on which the debate hung. If my reading of these is right, the Trinity is not true and Jesus is not God. To disregard the meat of the debate and focus on such a peripheral issue as my pronunciation of a correct reading of a Bible verse, or my failure to read related verses that would not alter the meaning anyway, is to trivialize the issue.
We agree with Shabir that a debate does not hang on one verse, but on all the relevant data presented by a specific speaker. From what we have read, Shabir has given nothing substantial in refuting the Trinity or the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I can only hope that we will keep the focus to the main matter at hand. The debate demonstrated that both Christians and Muslims are obliged on the force of the evidence before them to believe that there is only one God and that Jesus is the servant and messenger of that one God.
On the contrary, the evidence conclusively proves that the Holy Bible does teach the Triunity of God and the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, Muslims are forced to either accept the biblical testimony that Jesus is God and that God is Triune in nature, or refrain from using the Holy Bible to support their unbiblical claims and assertions.
I hope to have more such debates with Alan in the future. I hope that other Christian representatives will also come forward.
It is our hope that Shabir will refrain from producing straw man arguments, out-of-context quotations, misinterpretations, selectively quoting primary sources, as well as refraining from committing the fallacy of false dilemma. When Shabir is able to do this, then the quality of his debates will be that much better.
May Allah uses this debate and other such to make plain the truth which alone will set people free. May he also guide every man and woman who witnessed the debate, reviewed the tapes, or read these words.
Amen. Once individuals do as Shabir suggests with an open heart, they will no doubt come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and the Holy Bible as God's inspired truth for all ages.
 Even though the Son of Man in 1 Enoch is linked with the Messiah and Isaiah's Suffering Servant, in 1 Enoch 70-71 Enoch is said to be the Son of Man. This has led some scholars to surmise that 1 Enoch 70-71 are later editions by a scribe(s), perhaps as a way of undermining the Christian identification of Jesus with the Son of Man. See for instance The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St. Andrew Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus, edited by Carey C. Newman, James R. Davila & Gladys S. Lewis, Brill Academic Publishers (October 1999) , pp. 3-18.
Regardless of what the case maybe, the fact that in 1 Enoch the Son of Man is a single individual, and that he is linked with the Messiah and Isaiah's Suffering Servant, clearly discredits Shabir's attempt of taking the Son of Man as a reference to a group of individuals.
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