Saturday, November 14, 2015

Part 1: Jesus & Muhammed

Jesus & Muhammed:  Why I Believe Jesus is God

There are many things, which we find in the Bible about Jesus, especially in the New Testament section, which challenge the high status given to Muhammed in the Islamic religion. In some cases, however, it is interesting how Jesus is portrayed in a Qur’an.  Even in the sacred book of Islam, Jesus seems to be, at least, a greater prophet than Muhammed and, at most, in some cases he might be seen as more than a mere human.

First, I want it to be clear that this discussion is merely a sharing of what I have come to believe the Bible teaches about Jesus in relation to the Qur’an.  I am neither a Biblical nor a Qur’anic scholar and have not read the latter except for some portions here and there, specifically those pertinent to this discussion.  These are my personal and unscholarly views based primarily on what the Bible teaches.

As such, I will focus on only a few portrayals of Jesus primarily from the Bible and, when appropriate for the sake of comparison, from the Qur’an.

Part 1.  Jesus is Peace

A very troubling time in my life came when my first wife, Clare Anne, died.  Without going into too much detail, I and the people in my church prayed for her complete recovery.  One day the doctor had stated that she had improved much and would more than likely be released that weekend.  Going home, I packed all her clothes and cleaned the house.  I told Sarah Anne (age 7) and Amy Joy (age 5) that their Mommy was coming home.  At 2:00 A.M. I got the call from the doctor that she had suddenly passed away.

Needless to say, my world was turned upside down and my faith, while not wavering in the fact that God is good, was terribly challenged.  

What the Bible showed me at that time was that Christ Jesus is my peace and gives peace, attributes possessed only by God:
- "You keep in perfect peace" (Isaiah 26:3).
- "God of...peace shall be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).
- "peace from God" (Colossians 1:1).
- "the peace of God" (Philippians 4:7).

Jesus himself claims to be a man of peace in such a way as to actually be the embodiment of peace and able to grant such peace as he is to others, even amidst troubles and sufferings:
- “Peace I leave with you, my peace I to you” (John 14:27).
- “I have spoken to you so that in me you will have peace” (John 16:33).

The apostles claimed Jesus is peace:
- “The Word God sent…preaching peace by Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36).
- “we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
- “For he [Jesus] is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).

Even the Qur'an portrays Jesus as a man of peace.  Moreover, it seems legitimate to me to interpret such a portrayal as not just of a man who gives peace but as one who is its very embodiment:  “So Peace is *on* me the day I was born” (Sura 19:33).

Of course there are two arguments against this interpretation of the text:
- The first objection is that the same is said of John the Baptist in the Qur’an: “So Peace is on me the day I was born” (Sura 19:15).  Therefore, any attempt to apply one’s understanding of the text in relation to Jesus must also apply to John the Baptist; and, we know, John the Baptist is not God.
- The second objection is that the texts, as Muslim scholars explain, means nothing more than having divine protection from Satan.

My response to the above objections:
- First, the Qur’an teaches things about Christ Jesus that are not attributable to John the Baptist; for example, the Qur’an commands, by virtue of his birth and person, to “believe in him” (Sura 4:170) with a clearly implied warning of judgment if one did not heed.  It is unknown to me, and I don’t think it does, if the Qur’an teaches the same thing regarding John the Baptist.
- Second, while Islam teaches, “Every son of Adam sins” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Hadith no. 2499), Jesus was born sinless: “to you the gift of a pure (or, “holy”) son” (Sura 9:19).  Sinlessness is not, as far as I know, attributed to John the Baptist.  Evidently, the Islamic teaching that Jesus Christ is sinlessness is affirmed by Muslim scholars, even while simultaneously attributing him to be no more than a mere man.  It begs the question, how can Jesus be both a mere man and sinless if every son of Adam sins?
- Third, Jesus is also called God’s “Word” and God’s “Spirit,” attributes not claimed for John Baptist in the Qur’an (as far as I know), of which I will speak more of at a future date.

In conclusion, although the texts in the Qur’an regarding Jesus and John the Baptist may be similar, it does not necessarily mean that what is interpreted about one ought to be interpreted about the other, especially when other texts show otherwise.

My reading of the Bible has convinced me that Jesus is God by its portrayal of Jesus as the embodiment of peace and that such peace is what I have experienced when I placed and continue to place my faith in Christ Jesus (as Sura 4:170 commands of Muslims).

Of course, the peace I speak of here is personal peace, that is, the tranquility of the soul’s relationship with God and the confidence of finding divine favor in the day of judgment rather than meeting with God's wrath.

When worry and fear seek to overcome me, I can rest in the promises of God in Christ who is my Peace because His Spirit dwells in me.  Does it mean I will never experience hurt, trouble, or confusion?  No, it does not. Jesus said, “In the world you will have troubles”; but Jesus goes on to add, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

It does mean as a baby resting against the mother’s breast, so I can rest my soul in the Lord God and experience the peace that comes from His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I will devote my next blog on the subject of why I believe Jesus is God by showing how both the Qur’an and the Bible claim that Jesus is sinless.

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