Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

A Rebuttal to Shabir Ally’s Response to Dr. James White Pt. 3b

Sam Shamoun

In this section, we are going to show that Paul wasn’t the first person to believe and identify Jesus as the unique Son of God.


Jesus’ repeated references to God’s as his/the Father

It is ironic that Ally could argue that Acts doesn’t refer to Jesus as God’s Son until the ninth chapter when this book actually begins with Christ speaking of God as the Father who will send the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples: 

“And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samar′ia and to the end of the earth.’” Acts 1:4-8

Peter himself confirmed the fulfillment of this promise on the day of Pentecost when he boldly testified that the risen Christ had both received and now poured out the glorious Holy Spirit upon them. Peter proclaimed that this is the very Spirit which Christ had received from the Father himself!

“Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.” Acts 2:33

In light of this, does Ally think that Christians are that naïve as to buy into his claim that it wasn’t Christ or his disciples like Peter that went around preaching that Jesus is God’s Son, but rather Paul who had never met the earthly Jesus? Does he really want us to believe that Jesus and his disciples NEVER spoke of Christ being the unique Son of God even though they referred to God as the Father? After all, common sense demands that for God to be a Father he has to be a Father to someone. And if that someone isn’t Christ then who could it possibly be?

To put this simply, if God isn’t Jesus’ Father then he is a Father to no one!

But that’s not all. It must be kept in mind that Luke wrote a two-part work, e.g., “Luke-Acts” and one cannot look at Acts alone when investigating this question. The claim that Jesus was the Son of God did not appear “first with Paul” but it appears over and over again already in the Gospel of Luke, long before Paul ever converted. Acts is a sequel to a first book, and the very first sentence of Acts is a reference back to Luke 1:1-4. As such, one cannot examine Acts independently from Luke. One first has to read Luke, because it is presupposed as known before reading Acts.

With that said, in Luke’s Gospel Jesus repeatedly refers to God as his Father. For instance, Jesus said that it is his Father who sends the Holy Spirit from heaven: 

“And behold, I send the promise of MY Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49

Jesus also testified that the temple in Jerusalem happens to be his Father’s house:

“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’ And he said to them, ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in MY Father’s house? And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.” Luke 2:41-50

Jesus further proclaimed that it was his Father that gave him a kingdom:

“You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke 22:28-30    

Jesus even stated that he would return in the glory of the Father:

“”For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

Finally, it was to his Father that Jesus prayed and surrendered his spirit to, as he hung on the cross (cf. Luke 23:34, 46).

Once again, logic demands that in order for God to be Jesus’ Father Jesus must be his Son.

This brings me to my next point.


Jesus – God’s beloved and unique Son

All throughout Luke’s Gospel various persons identify Jesus as God’s Son.

For example, God sends the angel Gabriel to announce to Jesus’ blessed mother that she has been chosen to conceive and give birth as a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit to someone truly extraordinary: 

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.’” Luke 1:26-35

Not only does Gabriel refer to Christ as the Son of the Most High God who shall reign on David’s throne over an indestructible kingdom, the angel does so by alluding to the language found in Isaiah 9:6-7 which says,

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 Counselor, Mighty God (El Gibbor), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

Thus, Gabriel identifies Jesus as that specific Child whom Isaiah said would be none other than the Mighty God himself who becomes a flesh and blood human being!

What makes this all the more shocking is that “Mighty God” is a divine title which the prophet ascribes to Yahweh in the very next chapter!

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God (El Gibbor).” Isaiah 10:20-21 – cf. Deuteronomy 10:17; Nehemiah 9:32; Psalm 24:8; Jeremiah 32:18

This substantiates the fact that Luke was fully aware and testified to the divine prehuman existence of Christ, thereby refuting those who would argue that Luke believed that Jesus’ life began at his human conception.

Luke also shows that even demons recognized who Jesus was/is:

“And demons also came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.” Luke 4:41

“Then they arrived at the country of the Ger′asenes, which is opposite Galilee. And as he stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes, and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me.’ For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave.” Luke 8:26-32

These wicked spirits realized that Jesus is God’s Son who has the power to torment them and send them into the abyss.

Now these unclean spirits could not have known all this information concerning Christ since this was their first earthly encounter with the Lord. Therefore, the only way for them to have known all these details is if they had already met him beforehand, such as in heaven. In other words, these demons must have recognized Jesus from the heavenly realm and knew from there that he is the Son who had been assigned the task of destroying them on the Day of Judgment.

Hence, their testimony provides further substantiation that Luke believed that Jesus existed in heaven as the divine Son of God even before coming to the earth to be born as a man.

This brings us to the next point. Luke has God himself bearing witness to the fact of Christ being his beloved Son whom he has chosen and with whom he is always well pleased:

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, THOU ART MY BELOVED SON; with thee I am well pleased.’” Luke 3:21-22

“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli′jah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli′jah’—not knowing what he said. As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘THIS IS MY SON, my Chosen; listen to him! And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” Luke 9:28-36

As if the case against Ally wasn’t already strong enough, Luke quotes Jesus referring to himself as the unique Son of God as well!

“And he began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.” And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others.’ When they heard this, they said, ‘God forbid!’” Luke 20:9-16

In this parable, Jesus is the owner’s beloved Son and Heir whereas the servants are supposed to be God’s prophets just as the following passages affirm:

“From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day;” Jeremiah 7:25

“Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!’” Jeremiah 44:4 – cf. 26:4-5; 29:19

Thus, Jesus claims to be greater than all the prophets seeing that they are but servants of God, whereas he is the beloved Son and therefore has authority over them. And as God’s Heir, the servants are also Christ’s servants, he being their Lord, since the Son has complete ownership over everything that the Father possesses.

That Jesus is the Lord of the prophets is confirmed by what Christ says concerning Psalm 110:1, which is a Psalm that David composed in reference to the Messiah:

“But he said to them, ‘How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.’ David thus calls him Lord; so how is he his son?’” Luke 20:41-44

The Apostle Peter explains how and when Jesus fulfilled the words of this Psalm:

“Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Acts 2:29-36

Thus, both Jesus and Peter testify that the prophet David knew that the Messiah would be more than a human descendant of his. This mighty man of God also believed and confessed that the Christ would sit enthroned at God’s right hand as his sovereign Lord.

Jesus’ role as Heir and Lord are brought out more clearly in the next passage:

“In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by MY Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’” Luke 10:21-22 – cf. Matthew 11:25-27

In this shocking periscope – which many scholars believe comes from the Q source and therefore quite early – Jesus states that all things have been delivered to him by his Father right after having just praised the Father for being the Lord of heaven and earth, meaning of the entire creation. Christ is therefore claiming absolute possession of all of creation since, in context, this is what God would have entrusted to him, along with all of God’s wisdom and understanding!

This also explains why the apostle Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Lord and Judge of all:

“And Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’” Acts 10:34-43

Suffice it to say, the title “Lord of all” is a divine one which Jewish sources such as the Apocrypha ascribe to God alone!

“For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of any one, nor show deference to greatness; because he himself made both small and great, and he takes thought for all alike.” Wisdom of Solomon 6:7

“She glorifies her noble birth by living with God, and the Lord of all loves her.” Wisdom 8:3

Jesus then says that the Father alone knows the Son and vice-versa which explains why the Son has to reveal the Father, something that he says he does for whomever he chooses. This statement presupposes that the Son is an incomprehensible Being, much like the Father is, which is why the Father is the only One who knows him.

Jesus is basically saying that only someone possessing an omniscient mind is capable of knowing the Son exhaustively and perfectly. And since the Father is omniscient it only makes sense that he alone completely knows the Son.

By the same token Jesus must be omniscient since he also claims to know the Father in the same sense that the Father knows him, something which is beyond the capacity of any creature since the Holy Bible clearly teaches that God’s nature is incomprehensible:

“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.” Job 11:7-9

“God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things which we cannot comprehend.” Job 37:5 – cf. 5:9; 9:10; 36:26

“He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Psalm 147:4-5 cf. Psalm 139:1-16; 145:3

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 – cf. Isaiah 40:13-14; 55:8-9; Ephesians 3:17-19; Philippians 4:7

Therefore, the Son must be an incomprehensible and omniscient Being since this is the only way that he could know the incomprehensible and omniscient Father in the same sense and to the same degree that the Father knows him.

To see just how powerful a statement this is, note what the highly liberal and critical The Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary on the Bible (another Ally favorite!) has to say concerning Jesus’ words:

“… To accept this subsection as authentic, we would have to assume that the earthly Jesus held a view of himself CLOSE TO THAT OF THE CREEDS FORMULATED IN THE CHURCH IN LATER CENTURIES. On the other hand, since this passage stood in Q, which is thought to have originated IN PALESTINE BY ABOUT A.D. 50, it cannot be a late product. It should be viewed as a formulation of the church on the way to the fully developed Christologies of the 2nd and 3rd cents.” (Howard Clark Glee, The Gospel According to Matthew, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible: Introduction and Commentary for Each Book of the Bible Including the Apocrypha, with General Articles, edited by Charles M. Layman [Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN 1971], p. 623; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Here is a liberal source that candidly admits that Jesus’ self-understanding basically reflects what the later Christian creeds taught concerning his absolute Deity and essential co-equality with the Father, which is precisely why it rejects it as an authentic saying of Christ!

Yet what it says about its alleged place and time of composition doesn’t fare any better for Ally, since the view taken by this critical commentary essentially means that this is a saying which Jesus’ original Jewish followers such as Peter composed in Palestine! After all, to argue that this comes from Q, a source which supposedly originated in Palestine around A.D. 50, basically proves that this saying was composed during the time when the Apostles of the risen Lord were still alive and well.

In other words, if the view of this liberal commentary is correct then this means that it was the original disciples of Christ who went around preaching that Jesus is the incomprehensible and omniscient Son of God who was/is coequal to the Father in essence! 

This would then mean that the Quran is wrong for claiming that Jesus’ disciples were Muslims (cf. Q. 3:52, 5:111), and therefore Muhammad was a false prophet for contradicting the teaching of Christ’s original followers concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.

So much for Ally’s argument that it was Paul who first went around preaching that Jesus is God’s Son.

In the next section we will address more of Ally’s blatant lies and slander against this blessed servant of the risen Lord of glory.