Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

A Rebuttal to Shabir Ally’s Response to Dr. James White Pt. 4f

Sam Shamoun

In this section we are going to revisit Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 8:6 that the Father is the one God in order to see whether Ally has understood and handled this text carefully and responsibly.  


The Christian Shema 

In writing to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them of their commitment to monotheism: 

“Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord (heis Kyrios), Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:4-6

Paul not only states that the one God is the Father but he also identifies Jesus as the one Lord, as well as the Agent of creation and salvation.

It is obvious to anyone who has spent time studying the immediate and over all contexts of this text that the blessed Apostle is alluding to the Shema which the Jews of his day recited at least twice daily:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord (Shema Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Echad);” Deuteronomy 6:4

This confession is the very cornerstone of the Jewish faith, in fact of the Hebrew Bible as a whole. We even find it reiterated in the book of Zechariah:

“And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one (YHWH echad) and his name one.” Zechariah 14:9

Now a comparison of the Greek translation (also known as the Septuagint [LXX]) of these particular texts shows that Paul has basically taken the Shema and Christianized it by identifying Jesus as the one Yahweh who is professed therein:

“Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord (Kyrios heis).”

“And the Lord (Kyrios) shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord (Kyrios heis), and his name one,”

Hence, to a Greek speaking Jew the words heis Kyrios could only be applied to Yahweh his God. And yet Paul describes the risen Christ by these words, thereby identifying him as Yahweh God!

This can be more clearly seen by the fact that the Hebrew Bible testifies that Yahweh alone made and sustains all creation:

You alone are the Lord. You alone made heaven, even the heaven of heavens, with all their forces. You made the earth and all that is on it, and the seas and all that is in them. You preserve them all, and the heavenly forces worship you.” Nehemiah 9:6 CEB

“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens ALONE, who spread out the earth—Who was with me?—’” Isaiah 44:24

For Paul to therefore identify Christ as the Agent of creation and redemption he must have truly believed that Jesus is Yahweh!

This explains why this blessed servant of Christ could also write the following:

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace FROM God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ… so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:2-3, 7-9

Here, Paul refers to believers as those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, a practice which the Hebrew ascribes to Yahweh:

“I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I beseech thee, save my life!’… I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:2-4, 13, 17 – cf. 99:5-7; 145:18; Genesis 4:26; 12:8; 21:33; Deuteronomy 4:7; Jeremiah 29:12

The Apostle also invokes God and Christ together for the purpose of having them grant the believers grace and peace, which indicates that both the Father and the Son are the joint-source of all spiritual gifts and blessings. Therefore, God and Christ must be essentially coequal, even though they are personally distinct, since Paul’s invocation presupposes that both of them are omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, they very characteristics that they must have in order to be able to bestow such blessings upon all believers everywhere.

To top it all of, Paul speaks of the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., the day when Christ will return to the earth to judge the living and the dead (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 4:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Romans 2:5-6, 16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8, 18). This isn’t the only place where the Apostle mentions this day:

“you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 5:5

“as you have understood in part, that you can be proud of us as we can be of you, on the day of the Lord Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 1:14

What makes this attribution rather shocking is that the OT describes this as the day of Yahweh since he is the One who comes to judge the world in righteousness!

“Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every man’s heart will melt, and they will be dismayed. Pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in travail. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame. Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the haughtiness of the ruthless.” Isaiah 13:6-11

That day is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes. The sword shall devour and be sated, and drink its fill of their blood. For the Lord God of hosts holds a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphra′tes.” Jeremiah 46:10

Hence, Paul has basically taken over the OT day of Yahweh and applied it to Christ’s second coming! This is a fact which even liberal, critical commentaries agree with, just as the following example proves: 

“… day of our Lord: The Christian adaptation of the Day of Yahweh (Amos 5:18; Joel 3:4 = Acts 2:20); see also 1 Cor 3:13; 4:3…” (Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P., “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 800; underline emphasis ours) 

“… 13. Day: Fire is a consistent element (Isa 26:11; Dan 7:9-11; Mal 4:1) in the scenario of the eschatological day of Yahweh (Isa 2:12; Jer 46:10; Amos 5:18), which Paul here uses to denote the second coming of Christ (4:5; 5:5)…” (Ibid., p. 802; underline emphasis ours)

Therefore, could this blessed servant of the risen Lord be any clearer that Jesus is Yahweh God in the flesh, even though he isn’t the Father or the Holy Spirit? And isn’t it now obvious that 1 Corinthians 8:6 is a Christian version of the Shema where Paul epands (expands) this creedal confession to include both the Father and the Son in order to identify Jesus as the one Yahweh spoken of in that particular OT text?

In other words, the blessed Apostle has taken the words “God” and “Yahweh” as found in the Shema and applied them to the Father and the Son in order to identify them as two distinct divine Persons who are coequal in essence and glory.

Yet if we were to adopt Ally’s reasoning then we would be forced to conclude that not only did Paul believe that Jesus isn’t God, he also didn’t think that the Father is Lord. After all, if the Father being the one God excludes Jesus then the fact that Christ is the one Lord would have to exclude the Father from being Lord as well. And since the Greek words heis kyrios (“one Lord”) are the NT equivalent of the Shema’s YHWH echad (“Yahweh is one”), then this means that only Jesus is Yahweh, not the Father, since these words are applied to Christ alone. 

Obviously, such reasoning is utter nonsense and only goes to show just how intellectually bankrupt Ally’s arguments happen to be.

With that said, we can now turn our attention to the so-called Deutero-Pauline letters.