Both Muslims and Christians acknowledge that Jesus was sent by God as the promised Messiah. They affirm that Jesus is God’s Word and Spirit - Kalimatuhu wa Ruhun-minhu (Sura 4:171; John 1:1, 18). However, many Muslim friends see Christians as committing shirk by their associating a partner with God, in calling Jesus as the Son of God. In their view, such a belief is blasphemy.
In their discussions Muslims often quote the Qur’anic verses, ‘How can He have a son when He hath no consort?’ and that God ‘has taken neither a wife nor a son’ (Sura 6:101; 72:3). They accuse Christians of believing that God is ‘the third of three’ and warn: “Say not Three . . . For Allah is one God” (Sura 4:171). Some in the light of the Qur’an state that Allah will ask Jesus at the end of time: “Didst thou say unto men: ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?’ Jesus will reply, “Never said I to them aught except what thou didst command me: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord?’” (Sura 5:116, 117).
From these passages, it is quite obvious that what the Qur’an condemns is not the Trinity that Christians believe in. What the Qur’an condemns is a Trinity that is God, Son and Mary (Maryam). Similarly when the Qur’an raises the objection about the Sonship, it asks: ‘how can God have a son when he has no wife and no consort?’
Bible believing Christians are horrified as this suggests that they believe that God had a wife and as a result, Jesus was born. Christians have never held this as truth. The Bible does not say that God took a wife and then had a son, Jesus. Nor does it present the idea of a Trinity that is made up of the Father, the Mother and the Son. Jesus never said that His mother was to be taken as God. This is total blasphemy.
The Qur’an does not reject Jesus as the “Son of God” in the biblical sense; but is rejecting a false teaching which Christians also condemn. The phrase “Son of God” is never used in the Bible in the carnal human sense.
Allahu akbar – God is greater
God is greater than the limits we place upon Him. For us to create the belief that Jesus was the Son of God would indeed be the utmost blasphemy, but if Al-Masih is the great means by which God chose to disclose Himself to the people of this earth, who are we to tell God that He can’t do things this way?
The Word of God
What Christians believe is that God has manifested Himself in Jesus. Christians believe Jesus the Kallimatu’llah is God’s revelation to creation, in the same way Muslims esteem the Qur’an as the written word of God. The Qur’an confirms that God did something very special in sending Jesus, His Word, into this world. According to the Bible, the eternal Word of God was made flesh and lived on earth as Jesus. Why did God do such a thing? The Bible says, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5: 19). Let’s be clear here that the Scriptures do not call a mere man as God, but states that God, in absolute sovereignty and power, revealed Himself through His living Word in human form. ‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things…’ (Colossians 1:15, 19-20a).
He has Revealed Himself
In the Bible we see that in the past God spoke to our forefathers through His prophets and at last spoke to us through Jesus, His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). God who is al-Batin ‘hidden’, became az-Zaher ‘manifest’ in Christ (John 1:18). Many people, like the prophets Moses and Elijah, wanted to know God, but only had a verbal encounter with Him. In Jesus, we see the full possibility of knowing God. It is not merely a message about God, but full communion with Him. No wonder Jesus said, ‘He who has seen me, has seen the Father’ (John 14: 9). This is because as the Scriptures say, ‘in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form’ (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3a).
The Unique Son-ship
Some Muslims try to reinterpret the concept of son-ship rather than deny it. They quote references from the Bible where other people are addressed as son, or sons. They use these examples to show that the expression, Son of God, when spoken by Jesus about Himself, or by others, meant no more in his case than it means in its application to others in the Scripture. The Muslim writer Ahmad Deedat, for example, quotes several texts from the Bible in his booklet, Christ in Islam, to show that the expression, Son of God, ‘was a metaphorical descriptive term, commonly used among the Jews.’ To conclude his argument, he adds that in the Bible, ‘God has sons by the ton’ (page 28, Durban: Islamic Propagation Center, 2001).
Our response is that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God in the same sense in which all true believers are sons of God. One cannot overlook the many occasions when Jesus’ unique Son-ship is implied. For example: ‘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 anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Luke 10:22).
Jesus said that everyone should honor him as the Son of God, even as they honor the Father. For, “The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:22-23).
Furthermore, God the Father Himself bore witness to Him: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3: 17; 17:5).
We cannot ignore the overwhelming witness of Scripture to Jesus’ unique Son-ship. God spoke through Jesus, not only as a prophet but as His Son, through whom He made all things (Hebrews 1:3). We affirm that there is only one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: as an Arab Christian would say, “Bismil-ab wal-ibn war-ruhi-l-quddus, Allahu wahid!” Or, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God” Amen.
If you would like to read an article about the Fear of God and what it means to fear him, please click here.