Islam and the Deity of Jesus Christ

By Wayne Jackson

A Moslem recently made the following comment. “There are no Jewish writings that prophesied the appearing of ‘God’ on earth in the form of a man.” He said this in a denial of the Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth possessed the nature of “God” in the flesh. He further asserted that Christ never even claimed that he was the “Son of God.” We are compelled to comment upon these fallacious allegations.

The gentleman has correctly portrayed the Moslem view of Jesus Christ. One apologist for Islam has argued that “Jesus never claimed to be a god or the Son of God.” He contended that Christ “was only the servant and apostle of the Lord” in the very same sense that others (like Moses) were messengers of God before him (Hammudah Abdala, Islam in Focus, Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1975, p. 158). Another Islamic writer claims that there is no authentic biblical evidence that Jesus ever affirmed that he was the “Son of God” (Sulaiman Shahid Mufassir, Jesus, A Prophet of Islam (Indianapolis, American Trust Publications, 1980, p. 22).

The assertions are striking examples of the fact that those so inclined can fabricate religious theories of their liking – thrusting aside all evidence relevant to the issue. Let us briefly examine each of these claims.

Old Testament Prophecy

Is there any evidence within the body of Old Testament literature that a divine Being would come to earth in human form? There is unequivocal demonstration of such.

  • The prophet Isaiah declared that “the virgin” would conceive and bear a son. The child would be designated as “Immanuel,” which signifies “God is with us” (Isa. 7:14; Mt. 1:22-23). Though this Personage would be adorned with a human body, he would possess the “God-nature” as well. “Immanuel” was not intended to be the personal name of the Son of God (cf. Mt. 1:21); rather, the appellation was indicative of his intrinsic essence; Deity had come to earth in a human form (cf. Jn. 1:1,14). For further study of this passage, see Edward Hinson’s, Isaiah’s Immanuel (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1978, pp. 46ff).
  • Isaiah further announced: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). The humanity of the Messiah is indicated by the terms “child” and “son,” and the Savior’s deity is reflected in the phrases “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father.” Professor Barry Webb has noted that “the language of verse 6 can apply only to one who is God incarnate” (The Message of Isaiah, Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1996, p. 69).
  • The prophet Micah wrote: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of you shall one come forth unto me who is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2). That this was fulfilled by Christ admits of no doubt (see Mt. 2:6). The human side of Jesus is suggested by his birth in Bethlehem; his divine nature is indicated by his relationship to Jehovah, i.e., he is one who is to come forth to Jehovah and rule over Israel. Further, the Messiah’s “goings forth” are said to “reach back into eternity.” As C.F. Keil noted, this characterization “unquestionably presupposes His divine nature” (The Minor Prophets, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978, Vol. I, p. 481).
  • On the night before his death, at the conclusion of that meeting with the disciples at the Passover supper, Christ quoted from the book of Zechariah, making application to himself. The prophet had written these words. “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my fellow, says Jehovah of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn my hand upon the little ones” (Zech. 13:7; cf. Mt. 26:31; Mk. 14:27). Two points are of special interest in view of our present study. First, Jehovah’s shepherd is identified as a “man” who was to be put to death. Second, this victim is called “my shepherd” and “my fellow,” revealing an intimacy of labor. The latter term (fellow) is used commonly in the book of Leviticus for a companion, one who is on an “equal” standing with another (6:2; 18:20; etc.). “There is no stronger statement in the OT regarding the unimpeachable deity of Israel’s Messiah, the Son of God” (Charles Feinberg, “Zechariah,” The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Charles Pfeiffer, Everett Harrison, Eds., Chicago: Moody, 1962, p. 910).
  • Jesus—the Son of God

    Let us now give momentary consideration to the misguided charge that Jesus never said that he was the Son of God – an irresponsible affirmation that defies rational explanation. There is ample evidence – in all four Gospel Accounts – to the contrary.

    1. Matthew records that Christ referred to God as “my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21; cf. 10:32; 16:17). The parable of the marriage feast casts Jesus in the role of the King’s [God’s]Son (Mt. 22:1ff). It is important to note that when the Lord alluded to God as “my” Father, he always made a distinction between the relationship that he possessed with the Father, and that which obtained with reference to ordinary human beings (cf. Jn. 5:17-18; 20:17).
    2. Christ depicts himself as the “beloved Son” in the parable of the wicked husbandmen, as recorded by Mark (12:6). Further, under oath before the high priest, Jesus confessed that he was the “Son of the Blessed [One]” (Mk. 14:61-62).
    3. Luke notes that Christ acknowledged God as his Father – in a unique way – when he was but twelve years old. “I must be about my Father’s business” (Lk. 2:49). And further observe this from the record of the “beloved physician.” Christ said: “All things have been delivered unto me by my Father: and no one knows who the Son is, except the Father; and who the Father is, except the Son, and he to whomever the Son chooses to reveal him” (10:22).
    4. Nowhere is the Father/Son relationship more pronounced than in the Gospel of John. The Lord refers to himself as “the Son of God” repeatedly (5:25; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4), claiming even, “I and my Father are one” (Jn. 10:30). The Greek term rendered “one” is a neuter form, suggesting that the Son shared the divine nature with his Father.

    Conclusion

    The assertions (cited above), as set forth by our Moslem friends, are not correct. They thrust aside the testimony of an indisputable historical record.

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    About the Author

    Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.