Jesus is God? Amazing Idea…and Quite Mad

I have just come across this fine review in the Spectator of a new biography of Saladin (Salahuddin al-Ayyubi). The reviewer, Sam Leith, approvingly quotes from a 12th Century Syrian text that is cited in the biography and I must say, it made me smile:

A mid-12th-century Syrian text reported:

The most amazing thing in the world is that the Christians say that Jesus is divine, that he is God, and then they say that the Jews seized him and crucified him. How then can a God who cannot protect himself protect others? Anyone who believes his God came out of a woman’s privates is quite mad; he should not be spoken to, for he has neither intelligence nor faith.

The Christian concept of the Trinity has always been a puzzle for Muslims…and I suspect for many Christians too.

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14 Responses to Jesus is God? Amazing Idea…and Quite Mad

  1. The basic argument to counter this is that God came in the form of Man to save us (Mankind).

    • Amin says:

      That is not really countering the
      … why does God need to lower himself. Shouldn’t it be the other way around… man raising himself towards God.

      And what exactly has God saved us from? Showing the way was done by a man. Why would God need to disguise himself?

  2. Thoughtshuffler: The Christian arguments in support of the Trinity are notoriously weak. As you will know, the ‘Trinity’ is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible and was only formally adopted as a belief around 300 years after Christ, at the Council of Nicea. I wrote a short article on the topic of Monotheism and the Trinity a few years ago for the Guardian. It can still be read on the MCB’s website:

    http://www.mcb.org.uk/library/article_face-faith.php

  3. Brendan says:

    Inayat,
    Noted! I recall a conversation with a Muslim that went along these lines:
    ‘Exactly how great is God?’, I asked
    ‘He can do anything’ was the response. He then waxed lyrical about the creative powers of the almighty…
    I then asked him: ‘can The Almighty become incarnate as a man…?
    ‘No. No he cannot do that’ was the firm answer!
    If God cannot even become incarnate as a man (pretty basic for the one who made the universe and galaxies possible) then your God is not very great I argued!
    Massive subject not easily dealt with in these kinds of forums. The Cross of Christ by the late John Stott is a good piece of work about the issues you’ve raised

    • Amin says:

      It isn’t so much can God become Man…. but why would God want to become a man. So what purpose did Jesus (the supposed God) serve. Imagine for a moment Jesus wasn’t a God… but a man. What difference would this make.

  4. You are correct that “Trinity” is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, but each of its components are. Also, the question whether the Almighty can incarnate as man is surely dependent on His wishes? That’s a separate question to whether it happened.

  5. Peter J says:

    It’s not very nice to go out of your way to insult others’ religious beliefs as ‘mad’. Is it? And apropos of what? Besides which, to an atheist, all religious beliefs are quite bonkers – yours included.

  6. Brendan says:

    Amin, I note your good question: but why would God want to become a man. So what purpose did Jesus (the supposed God) serve?

    I woulr suggest you can discover the answers to your questions from Jesus himself. John’s gospel In the Incil) would be a good place to begin

    • Amin says:

      Johns Gospel doesn’t really give answers…

      “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. ”

      1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

      Nonsense – would you care to shed some light? ….

  7. KMH says:

    Inayat has lost me on this one, is he saying is that his magic is magicier than other peoples magic, or is he saying that his mumbo jumbo not so mumbo jumboish as other peoples mumbo jumbo?

  8. Peter J & KMH: If you don’t appreciate the thread, then, kindly fuck off!

    Brendan & Thoughtshuffler: I first read the four Gospels many moons ago when I was laid up in hospital following an appendix operation. I enjoyed reading them and was very impressed with the passages attributed to Jesus. However, utter layman though I was, it was very clear that Jesus himself did not claim to be God anywhere in the Gospels. Here are a couple of obvious examples:

    “…the father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)

    “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

    These are hardly words that would be uttered by someone who was co-equal with God and – in the words of the Nicene creed – “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.”

    Jesus was one in a long line of Hebrew prophets who preached the same monotheistic message. The Trinity would have been anathema to him.

  9. Brendan says:

    Inayat/Amin, noted.
    Muslims in particular should be well aware of the problem of ‘proof texting’ i.e. wrenching a text from a sacred scripture and presenting it as incontrovertible ‘proof’ of the point being made. For example in John 14:9, Philip one of Jesus’ disciples asks Jesus to show him God the Father and Jesus replies: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? This could also be presented as a further ‘proof text’ but this practice does get us very far.
    Taking the broad sweep of the gospels is far more helpful when trying to determine exactly who Jesus is and in particular his true ‘nature’.
    Throughout the gospels Jesus was constantly accused of blasphemy because he regularly described himself either as, ‘God’s son’ or ‘the Son of Man’. To religious Jews this was an awful blasphemy because by using such titles he was making himself equal to God and Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking. I’m sure you will agree it was never Jesus’ intention to mislead yet he never corrects his accusers saying: ’…there has been a misunderstanding here I’m not making myself equal to the God, it’s not what I’m saying, that would be blasphemy’, but rather he allows them to reach their own conclusions (like us), which they did of course. Some believed, some mocked, and some got angry.
    Re: Amin’s query about the first chapter of John, reading this in English invariably means losing some of its fullness and the rich meaning becomes lost in translation. The NT was written in Greek and the translation of ‘word’ or ‘the word’ is ‘Logos’ which has a wide and exciting range and breath of meanings including: divine declarations, oracle, revelation, ‘the sum total of being’ to name but a few and of course in John 1:14 were told ‘the Word became flesh’, God expressing the fullness of his love in and to the very world he has made.

  10. Brendan: I don’t agree with you when you say that Jesus did not try to correct the view that some Jews had that he was allegedly committing blasphemy by describing himself as the Son of God. In John’s Gospel (10:34-36) we see Jesus remonstrating with those Jews as follows:

    Jesus said, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I have said you are gods’? (ref. Psalms 82:6). If he called them ‘gods’ to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said ‘I am God’s Son?’”

    So Jesus, it appears to me, says that the Psalms have symbolically described earlier Prophets as ‘gods’ so why do the Jews take exception to him when he says he is God’s son? The language is clearly metaphorical as can be seen in many others in the Old Testament who are also referred to as God’s sons.

    There is simply nowhere in the Gospels where Jesus explicitly says he is God and asks people to worship him instead of God.

  11. Brendan says:

    Inayat, in the verses you mention Jesus defends his claim using language they should be able to understand, through an appeal to the law.
    He cites a text that uses the word god of those who are not God: Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are gods”? (v. 34).
    Jesus’ explanation that these gods are those to whom the word of God came (v. 35) might point to the Israelites receiving the law. In this case the contrast between these gods and Jesus would be that Jesus is the one who both fulfills the law and is greater than the law.
    But this expression to whom the word of God came could also refer to the judges (as suggested by the rest of Ps 82) who have received a commission from God to exercise the divine prerogative of judgment on his behalf. The psalm is actually a condemnation of the judges for not exercising their responsibility faithfully, thus corresponding both to the condemnation of these Jewish leaders in John and to Jesus as the true judge.
    To make his point Jesus uses an argument from the lesser to the greater, a very common form of argument in the ancient world, not least among the rabbis. He compares the people who are called gods to himself, the Son of God. They merely received the word of God, whereas he is the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world (v. 36). Here is a succinct summary of the central truth of his identity, which has been emphasised throughout this Gospel.

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