Did Jesus Claim to Be God? Muslims Say “No”

Jeremy Bouma on September 13th, 2016. Tagged under ,,,,.

Jeremy Bouma

Jeremy Bouma (Th.M.) has pastored on Capitol Hill and with the Evangelical Covenant Church in Michigan. He founded THEOKLESIA, which connects the 21st century Church to the vintage Christian faith; holds a Master of Theology in historical theology; and makes the vintage faith relevant at jeremybouma.com.

ngb1In No God but One: Allah or Jesus?, Nabeel Qureshi investigates the evidence for Islam and Christianity as a former Muslim. One of the most important parts to his investigation is his engagement with the widest point of divergence between the two religions: the person of Jesus.

“At no point is the schism between Christian and Islamic theologies broader than on the person of Jesus” (213) Qureshi reveals.

Answering his question about not only Jesus’ divinity, but his claim to be God, was a crucial one for his journey from seeking Allah to finding Jesus. “All other differences between Muslims and Christians were secondary to me, far less important than this most significant matter.” (213)

Below we explore this surprising claim by Muslims, that Jesus never claimed to be God, while showing that the Gospels prove otherwise.

“Jesus Never Claimed to Be God,” Says Islam

“The Quran informs Muslims that Jesus never claimed to be divine,” Qureshi explains. “Rather, people began to believe this after Jesus left the earth (5.116–117).” Furthermore, “the Quran teaches the he who subscribes to [the doctrine of a divine Christ] will make his home in the flames of hell (5:72).” (213) This belief rests on several premises, including:

  • Roman paganism influenced Christians to deify Jesus, given that Romans gods were thought to have sons who were demigods
  • Paul manufactured this blasphemy in a way Jesus’ early followers never intended
  • The Council of Nicaea was responsibility for glorifying Jesus to a divine level
  • Jesus never claimed to be God; never clearly said, “I am God”
  • Verses from the Gospels seem to deny Jesus’ deity

Regarding this last point, Muslim apologists argue “there are many verses isolated from the Gospels readily used by Muslims to argue Jesus explicitly denied divine status” (223), one in particular is John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

This verse was one of Qureshi’s favorites, because it virtually mirrors the Islamic shahada: “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” He writes, “As far as I was concerned, this verse showed that Jesus’ teachings were very similar to Islam’s, and that he denied being God, saying that the Father is the ‘only true God.’” (224)

That “Jesus never claimed to be God” was a cornerstone of confidence for Qureshi’s denial of the Christian faith, as it is for Muslims. And yet, as he himself read and explored the Gospels, he discovered otherwise—particularly with the Gospel of Mark.

Jesus’ First Biography Is Clear: Jesus Is God

We could go in several directions in showcasing how the New Testament portrays Jesus as God, but we’re going to briefly trace one vein of Qureshi’s own investigation: Mark’s Gospel.

Originally, he argued, “had Jesus actually claimed to be God, we would have found his deity taught in the first of the four Gospels, Mark. So I set out to show [his friend] David that Mark presented Jesus as just a man, not God…” (216) Instead, after he realized that Mark was a very Jewish Gospel and then read it through that lens, he realized “not only does Mark present Jesus as divine, but the very point of Mark’s Gospel is Jesus is Yahweh.” (216)

Qureshi came to several realizations:

  • Mark’s prologue is like John’s: it presents Jesus as God himself
  • Jesus claimed the divine prerogative of forgiving sins (2:3–10)
  • Jesus did what only God can do, heal (2:3–10) and calm the wind and the waves (4:35–41)

Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of not only Jesus’ deity, but his claiming to be God, is Mark 14:55–64. Qureshi spends considerable time in this episode, where Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin on his way to the cross. Eventually, the high priest asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Here was his response:

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Here, Jesus made a twofold reference to the divine Son of Man from Daniel 7 and the sovereign Lord of David from Psalm 110—equating himself with both. Qureshi argues, “In response to the question ‘Who are you?’ Jesus’ response is essentially, ‘I am the One who deserves eternal worship from all mankind in My own kingdom, where I will sit on the very throne of God. I am Yahweh.’” (220)

Qureshi concludes, “we see Mark’s endeavor is clear: He portrays Jesus as Yahweh.” (218)

***

“Having always believed that the doctrine of Jesus’ deity was invented decades if not centuries after Jesus’ death, I realized that the Islamic explanation for the Christian beliefs does not work.” (233)

Continue the investigation for Islam and Christianity by engaging Qureshi’s book to understand how the evidence led him to concluded Jesus himself claimed to be God—and was God.

ngb1To continue reading about the differences between Islam and Christianity, buy your copy of No God but One: Allah or Jesus? today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christian Book.

  • Nasir 1 year ago

    Im still in the dark. Im a comvert from baptist to Islam. Both have good views and agree on less. Some say My God is this or that which to me indicates there is more than one. I feel its all man made. Especially new testament. Just pray as Abraham did ( monotheism)

  • Shrief 9 months ago

    You wrote a book so I will write a page.
    Searching through poison for a cure is what Nabeel Qureshi has done. Logically one does not learn mathematics to the point of understanding calculus only to return to the question of 2+2 and derive a new answer other than 4, & conclude “others said it is not 4 so now I say this also.

    Calculus is the Quran where it is indisputable because of the level of detail. It literally tells the World TRY to disprove a single page, or even a verse. The Bible is Trigonometry, well thought-out yet not complete. Don’t mistake my love for the Bible, for I see the beauty between the words and the healing effect the lessons in the pages can teach. But when it comes to claims of definite truth, I rest with the Quran, beause it takes the lessons to the farthest end and rests it on a higher pedestal defined by a magnificent array of other claims which are undefeated.
    The Bible rejects fossils, carbon dating, earth’s geological formation. TO be a 21st century Christian you have to be anti science to a certain degree by rejecting the facts.
    All Nabeel Qureshi has done is take one claim for another claim. Nothing in his writing actually disproves any teachings in the Quran.
    Misleading readers to thinking there is some prize somewhere in this book is just a sorry excuse for a writer attempting to get rich off of the religious enterprise.
    This is a sorry conclusion for a seemingly intelligent individual. Whatever your faith is, keep up the faith, one-day sound reason and experience will lead you to the path you are meant to follow.

    For if God had willed it, the whole world would have been under one unchangeable faith. What point is there then to dispute with one another on things we cannot prove?
    Should we yell? Argue? Get blue and red faced? Cry? Throw stones? Harm? Or even Kill? How far should one go for their own thoughts? In the 21st century we are now at a point so far away from the religious wars that we are able to reflect and think calmly with a cool mind.
    This image of course is trifled by the killing by Jews and Palestinians over a dispute for land, not one of religion. Religious wars are a thing of the past. ISIS was an embarrassing lie, and a failure to resurrect a religious war in this modern age. Its hard to raise an army when all the members are idiots or mercenaries. At some point the train looses steam because people are not born into ignorance for their whole life but rather delivered from it by sound reason or death. Its best to leave the crazy heads dead where they are. No one told them to go out there and get killed over their high-risen thoughts. To the same degree, no one told the farmers son to join a war with people he does not understand, then when the boy dies the father and mother curse the people until they themselves die. What a sad life, and a sad time for some families even today. A military family that serves a blind leader will answer to the Creator for the harm it has caused and the lives it has taken along the voyage of confusion and chaos.

    Let the focus shift to the things that can be disproven, and the truth will be clear. Or better yet, stop arguing and focus on the similarities which are seemingly 99%, with the exception of 1% which everyone seems to know about and argue standing tall. Jews, Christians, and Muslims = Believers in the unknown, believers in the unseen, brothers and sisters believing they were decedents from Adam and Eve. You all behave as children who never had families… I take that back, at least they had an early understanding that they are alone and the world was their family before their family which may be broken or incomplete on so many levels.

    The Bible is a valiant effort of good believers to put into words their beliefs/recollections. Yet, this is not enough to lead man. God sent down the Quran to cure the deficiency of man attempting to speak to the direction of God. Muslims and Christians both love Jesus. Even Jews love Jesus, but they believe he still has not arrived. God promised mankind that the Quran could never be changed. Proof of this promise is that children all over the world can memorize the Quran from cover to cover. Look it up on Youtube, its impressive. Is that not something? You cannot memorize the bible because of the fact it is written by man from the thoughts of man.
    The Bible falls short of a complete divine text. The Quran speaks of space and celestial bodies before we had telescopes or technology to explain the universe, yet this is revealed in the Quran… Look up miracles of Quran. If you are a believer (Jew, Christian, or Muslim) then you should have no fear in searching for the truth. You subscrive to a believe after all!
    Of course some will choose to remain deaf and blind and walk away from truth… that is the will of the all might God. Allah, or whatever else you wish to refer to our Great creator by.

    I was triggered by reading blasphemy. May God forgive me for any offense anyone may take from what I have wrote. It is never too late to learn. Love, Love, Love.
    – Shrief

  • Firstdown 2 months ago

    Jeremy Bouma 😀 How can Jesus be a god in the light of following verses?..
    … Did Jesus deny being God ?

    If I am standing in front of the IBM headquarters building, and a fellow employee unknowingly asked be “Is this your building , do you own this building ? ”
    Then I replied “This Building is NOT MY OWN, but it belongs to The ONE WHO EMPLOYEESME”
    This would clarify to the person asking that I AM NOT THE OWNER, I am just one of the workers. I do not own the building (Universe) the one I work for owns it.
    Another Example is:
    If I am at a gathering of people in a friend’s house, and a fellow guest unknowingly asked me, “Is this
    your house ?” I would reply “This is not my house but it is the house of the ONE WHO INVITED ME”
    This would clarify to the fellow guest that again, I am NOT THE OWNER of the house.
    Did Jesus make such statements regarding his status, the words, the will and the power he used ?
    WORDS
    “Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” [John 7:16]
    “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” [John 14:24]
    “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” [John 12:49]
    WILL
    “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.” [John 4:34]
    “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” [John 6:38]
    “saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” [Luke 22:42]
    POWER
    ” I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” [John 5:30]
    “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” [John 13:16]
    “You heard me say, `I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” [John 14:28]
    “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.” [ John 8:42]
    “To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” [Matthew 20:23]
    KNOWLEDGE
    “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” [Mr 13:32]
    “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” [Mt 24:36]
    “So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” [John 7:16]
    STATUS
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” [Mt 7:21]
    “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. [John 5:37]
    “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” [Mr 10:18]
    “And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.” [John 8:50]
    Some Christians, (not all) claim that Jesus _implied_ that he was God, from the above verses, we see that Jesus denied being God, it now leaves the Christians who believe Jesus is God to provide just one single verse in the Bible where Jesus says “I am God” there is no such verse, the God of Abraham in the Old Testament stated “I am God” over 200 times, yet oddly Jesus never uttered those three words once in the Gospel, so we see from the many quotes above, that the House did not belong to Jesus, it belonged to the One who Sent him.