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Category Archives: Theology

Jesus Has A God, Therefore He Cannot Be God

My material for this post is largely drawn from John Gill’s exposition of John 20:17

In order to prove that Jesus cannot be God, Muslims draw attention to John 20:17 in which Jesus clearly says He has a God.  How, they ask, can God have a God ? Here is John 20:17

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

The answer to how Jesus can have a God lies in recognising that Jesus is God in Human form. Jesus was truly human. Being human, Jesus can have a God.

Can God come to Earth if He wants to ? Of course He can.

If God came to Earth could he have flesh and bones and choose to eat and sleep ? Of course He could. Therefore God can come to Earth in human form.

But God would not stop being divine just because He came to Earth in human form. He would still be God. But He would also be a Human who can eat and sleep and do all the things that Humans do.

So if God came to Earth as a human he would retain his divine nature but also have a human nature. He would have two natures during the time He was on Earth: A Divine nature and a Human nature.

Can God Limit Himself ?

God can control Himself in much the same way that I control myself, for example, when I play with my children I choose to limit my strength so that I do not hurt them when I play with them. In a similar way, when Jesus came to Earth he decided to temporarily limit Himself in certain ways. Jesus still had divine attributes but he chose not to use some of them during His time on Earth while He walked with us as a truly human being.

The self-limitation of Jesus does not diminish God because all the Divine Attributes remain fully active in The Father and The Holy Spirit, the other two Divine Persons who share the single Divine Life.

Identification and Dependence

During the period of His earthly life Jesus chose to make Himself dependent on The Father just as all of humanity is dependent on Father God. In this way, Jesus identified with humanity. He became one of us and shared our limitations and dependence on God while yet retaining His divine nature. For this reason of dependence it is possible for Jesus to say that He has a God. Jesus made Himself dependent on The Father, and so like all with a human nature Jesus was dependent on The Father.

Jesus had two natures: a divine nature and a human nature. He retained possession of His divine nature, but chose not to use most of his divine attributes. He lived His life on Earth constrained by the limits of human nature which he took on Himself when he entered His earthly existence.

This does not mean that Jesus never exercised His Divine Attributes or power while on Earth. For example, Jesus healed people and did other miracles by His own power. (See John 5:19, Matthew 8:26-27, Matthew 14:25-32).

The passage in question, John 20:17, thus contains a second reason why it is possible for Jesus to talk about ‘My God and Your God’ and this reason relates to the truth of Jesus’ identification with humanity.

The reality of identification works two ways. Because Jesus shared our humanity, He identifies with us, but humanity also identifies with Jesus. This means that however The Father chooses to treat Jesus in relation to His humanity then you and I obtain the privilege of being treated by The Father in the same way that The Father treats Jesus.

This identification means that since the Father has declared Jesus Not Guilty of sin, then we also can be declared Not Guilty of sin if we identify with Jesus, i.e. choose in faith to accept Jesus as our representative before The Father. Furthermore, because Jesus was resurrected from the grave and from death by The Father, then we also can be, and will be, resurrected from death and the grave (Barzakh) if we choose to identify with Jesus. Again furthermore because Jesus ascends to The Father, those who identify with Jesus and become part of the Umma of Jesus will also obtain the privilege of ascending to heaven with Jesus to be in the presence of The Father.

This truth of humanity’s identification with Jesus, how The Father rewards the Umma of Jesus with the same privileges as Jesus is reported in a truncated form In The Qu’ran Surah Al-Imran:3:55.

“O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection.

It was this third aspect of identification, that of Ascension, that  Jesus was specifically referring to in this passage of scripture including John 20:17. Jesus had been declared Not Guilty by The Father after His ordeal on The Cross, consequently had been resurrected from death and the grave and was just about to ascend to The Father.

The woman wanted Jesus to stay behind on earth with them and clung on to Him but Jesus told them something greater was in store for humanity, namely His ascension, which all believers in Him, all His Umma would have the privilege of doing also. But He, Jesus, had to ascend first to make the way for them.

The statement of Jesus ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” teaches His Umma that His ascension makes our ascension possible because of His identification with humanity and our identification with Him.

Amen! Thanks to be to God an Our Lord Jesus Christ !

So, Jesus statement I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God is indeed, as Muslims state, a clear indication of Jesus’ humanity. This humanity came about because Jesus voluntarily chose to make Himself dependent on The Father (see Phillipians 2:5-8).

The statement my Father and your Father…my God and your God is also a powerful statement of truth regarding Jesus’ identification with humanity, by which humanity can be declared Not Guilty before God and obtain resurrection and ascension, which is entry to Paradise.

The Nature Of God

God exists as three persons who share a single divine life or essence. Since God exists as three persons, one (Jesus) may choose to come to Earth while the others remain in heaven. Additionally, the One who comes to Earth can choose to make Himself dependent on the One(s) who remains in Heaven. In this way, Jesus can truly call The Father His God whilst yet retaining His own divine nature.

The self-limitation of Jesus does not diminish God because all the Divine Attributes remain fully active in The Father and The Holy Spirit, the other two Divine Persons who share the single Divine Life.

Because there is only one Divine Life, God is One.

Today I picked up a book sitting on my friend’s kitchen table. It was a biography of Mohammed entitled ‘The Life Of Mohammed’ by Abdul Ahmed Siddique. You can read the publisher’s note on the book here

Flicking through the pages I chanced upon a bold-face heading on the section devoted to Mohammed’s triumphal military entrance into Mecca. The heading read:

Magnanimity Unparalleled In The Annals Of Mankind

A few lines below was the sub-heading:

Only Four People Were Executed

The people of Mecca must have been glad that they were invaded on a day when Mohammed felt especially and uniquely magnanimous and hence only executed four of them.

Of course, Mohammed’s behaviour in executing ‘only’ four people was not magnanimous but barbarous: especially when one considers that one of those executed was a servant girl named Fartana, executed merely for name-calling and singing satirical songs  directed against Mohammed (see Ibn Hisham, Ibn Ishaq, Alfred Guillaume (translator), The life of Muhammad: a translation of Isḥāq’s Sīrat rasūl Allāh, p. 550)

In executing a mere slave-girl for mere name-calling Mohammed displays not magnanimity, as characterised by the severely deluded Mr. Siddique but psychopathic narcissism.

A Better Example Of Magnanimity

As an example of a person who did indeed display magnanimity at severe personal cost, please consider the example of  Maria Nice  who forgave Alisson Lima dos Santos who murdered her son Rafael da Silva. You can watch the video here

Maria Nice is a Christian who, like uncounted millions of Christians before her, has followed the example of Jesus who forgave those who persecuted, tormented, tortured and killed Him. This is what Maria Nice said to the young man who killed her son.

“You are forgiven in Jesus’ name. I am a Christian, and I am forgiving you, and I will keep praying, Alisson. […] And you are going to discover that God that I serve. […] I don’t have a drop of hate for you, Alisson.

Not Quite So Magnanimous

Once Mohammed’s daughters Fatima and Umm Kulthum were riding on a camel. An enemy of Mohammed named Al-Huwayrith intentionally goaded the camel, causing Mohammed’s daughters to be dangerously thrown to the ground. Mohammed had him killed. (see Ibn Hisham, Ibn Ishaq, Alfred Guillaume (translator), The life of Muhammad: a translation of Isḥāq’s Sīrat rasūl Allāh, p. 551)

You can read here about the young  Saudi Arabian woman, Fatima Al-Mutairi, killed by her Muslim family for simply being a Christian. Like Jesus and Maria Nice, this young woman forgave her enemies in the face of personal suffering and did not execute any one at all.

Dozens more examples of  Christians forgiving enemies who have killed their family members can be found just by Googling Christian forgives murderer’

In this Christians emulate the example of Jesus, the unparalleled magnanimous and mericiful example to humanity who prayed  Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing, even as his enemies were torturing and killing Him on the cross, and who did not order any of them to be executed.

Last year I spent some time discussing The Trinity with my Muslim friend. These are some notes I made from our discussion.

  1. Christians Worship Three Gods

Christians do not believe in three Gods. Christians believe God is One

As Jesus said:

“The most important one (i.e commandment),” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a]

The idea that Christians worship Three Gods is a misconception contained in the Qu’ran in Surah An-Nisa 4:171

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion… do not say, “Three”;… Indeed, Allah is but one God.

The Qu’ran incorrectly describes Christian belief. This means that The Qu’ran is in error and hence does not come from God.

2. Jesus Was Born By God Having A Sexual Relationship With Mary

Christians do not believe that Jesus was born by God having a sexual relationship with Mary. Christians believe that Jesus was born by God’s Power acting through The Holy Spirit, in other words by a miracle of God. See Luke 1:31-35 where Gabriel converses with Mary.

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus…

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…

The idea that Jesus was born by God having a sexual relationship with Mary is a misconception found in The Qu’ran which also states that Christians believe that Mary is a God (see Qu’ran 5:116; 5:75; 6:101) Christians do not believe that Mary is a God.

Once again, The Qu’ran incorrectly describes Christian belief. This means that The Qu’ran is in error and hence does not come from God.

3. Son Of God Is Not a Divine Title

Muslims correctly state that Son Of God is used of several people in the Bible. As well as Jesus the term Son Of God is applied to Adam, Angels and the nation of Israel. Therefore, say Muslims, the Title Son Of God has no special significance and does not mean that Jesus is Divine.

In fact, the Bible teaches that Jesus has a unique kind of Sonship with the Father, which is Divine. In John 3:16 the Bible says;

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The Greek word translated one and only is monogenes which means ‘unique kind’. Jesus said that He had a unique kind of Sonship with God (Matt. 11:27) and the Jews stoned Jesus for Blasphemy when He said he was the Son Of God as he was claiming equality with God. As John 5:18 says:

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

For a modern-day equivalent of ‘Son’ being used in different ways between different people, consider a man with two sons, one adopted and one family-born. Both are properly and correctly called Son but they are different kinds of sons.

The Bible uses monogenes to differentiate in a similar way between the Sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac is a family-born, natural son, born by Abraham with his wife Sarah, whereas Ishmael is born to Abraham in a different and fractionally more distant family relationship, via Sarah’s maidservant  The Bible calls therefore Isaac monogenes, Abraham’s only son via Sarah, whom Abraham especially loves and who was born through a direct promise by God and conceived miraculously when Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90 years old, well past the normal years of child-bearing or conception.

 Ishmael, born through Sarah’s maidservant Hagar, and neither promised by God, nor conceived miraculously, has a different status in the family. See Hebrews 11:17

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son.

Isaac is called the one and only son (monogenes) even though Abraham had two sons because Isaac is the one and only son born through his wife Sarah.

So, Son Of God is applied to Jesus in a unique way in the Bible, indicating the Divinity of Jesus. Indeed this is the way that the Qu’ran understands the meaning of Son Of God, as a Divine Title (see Qu’ran 5:116)

4. Jesus Did What Only Humans Need To Do

Muslims correctly state that Jesus did what only humans need to do such as eat and sleep. Therefore, Muslims say, Jesus must be human and cannot be Divine.

In fact, the Bible presents two sets of proofs about Jesus:

  1. Jesus is a Human Being
  2. Jesus is Divine

The proofs that Jesus is Divine are many. Among them are these: Jesus forgave sins (Luke 7:48), answers prayer (John 14:13-14), accepts worship (John 9:38-39, John 20:28-29), claims eternal existence (Rev. 1:17-18), claimed to do miracles by His own power (Luke 8:40-46), claims to have ownership and command of God’s Angels (Matt. 25:31), claims to cause resurrection (John 11:25), claims to be Lord of The Holy Day (Luke 6:5), used God’s name as His own name (John 8:58, Exodus 3;14) and directly claimed to be Father God Himself (John 14:6-9).

All these attributes and powers belong to God alone. Since Jesus claimed the rights, name, power and attributes of God, then Jesus has claimed to be God.

5. Three Cannot be One, Therefore The Trinity is Illogical

Muslims correctly state that Three cannot be One. Therefore, Muslims state, the Trinity is illogical as The Father, The Son and The Holy spirit are Three and not One.

Christians do not believe that three can be one. Christians believe that three ones can be one. Expressed mathematically this is:

1 x 1 x 1 = 1

How many ones on the left hand side ? Three

How many ones on the right hand side ? One

Are these expressions equal ? Yes.

So three ones can be one.

Therefore the Trinity is logical.

6. One Thing Cannot be Three Things At Once, Therefore The Trinity Is Illogical

Muslims incorrectly believe that Christians think that one thing can be three things at once. Specifically Muslims state that Christians believe that Jesus is the same as the Father who is the same as The Holy Spirit, since they are all God. Since it is obvious that one thing cannot be three things at once, they say, therefore that the Trinity is illogical.

In fact, Christians believe that Jesus and The Father and The Holy Spirit are NOT the same as each other.

So, in this case the Muslim objection to the Trinity is based on a misunderstanding of what Christians believe about the Trinity.

Christians believe that the Trinity is three distinct persons that share the same Divine Life. This sharing of the Divine Life or Essence is what makes God One. There is only one Divine Life in the Universe. Hence God is One.

When Christians say that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is a person, we don’t mean that they are persons in exactly the same way that Human Beings are, though it is accurate to say that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are Divine Persons. The theological term for person is the Greek work Hypostasis which has the basic meaning of ‘individual reality’ or ‘particular instance of a general type’.

The theological definition of The Trinity is ‘three hypostases in one essence’.

The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are One because they share the same Life or Essence.

Muslims will typically assert that this formulation is ridiculous and self-contradictory. How can three distinct things have a shared existence ?

There are many useful analogies of The Trinity in the Universe which can assist us to see that the Trinity is a reasonable and non-contradictory concept.

Molecular Resonance

A strong analogy of The Trinity is provided by the phenonemon of Molecular Resonance.

The basic idea is that Resonating Molecules exist in multiple forms simultaneously, each form having the same Chemical Composition. In other words resonating molecules exists in multiple simultaneous hypostases of the same essence. This is identical in concept to The Trinity.

For example, Nitrate, NO3 has three resonance structures. It exists in all of these forms simultaneously.

As Wikipedia puts it, It is a common misconception that resonance structures are transient states of the molecule, with the molecule oscillating between them or existing as an equilibrium between them. However these individual contributors cannot be observed in the actual resonance-stabilized molecule. The molecule exists in only one form – the resonance hybrid.

In other words, resonating molecules exist in all three forms simultaneously and have exactly the same shared essence.

Here is how Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity describes how Molecular Resonance overcame his objections to reasonableness of The Trinity. This experience is also described in his book, ‘Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus’

Essentially, the building block of every physical object is an atom, a positively charged nucleus orbited by tiny, negatively charged electrons.  Atoms bond to one another by sharing their electrons, forming a molecule.  Different arrangements of the electrons in certain molecules are called ‘resonance structures.’  Some molecules, like water, have no resonance while others have three resonance structures or more, like the nitrate on the board.

Although the concept was easy enough to grasp, the reality proved to be baffling.  Mrs. Adamski concluded her lesson by commenting, ‘These drawings are just the best way to respresent resonance structures on paper, but it’s actually much more complicated.  Technically, a molecule with resonance is every one of its structures at every point in time, yet no single one of its structures at any point in time…

How could something be many things at once?  Many different things?  We were not talking about the attributes of something like a steak, which can be hot, juicy, thick, and tender all at once.  We were talking about separate spatial and electrical arrangements.  What the professor said would be akin to saying that Nabeel is eating steak in Texas while simultaneously napping in a hammock in the Caribbean.  As wonderful as each would be individually, it made no sense to say I might be doing both at once.

I was perplexed, and what made it even worse was that no one around me seemed bothered in the least.  I looked around the room, agape at their blind acceptance.

But was it really blind?  The professor was teaching rarefied science, describing the subatomic world.  At that level, things happen that make no sense to those of us who conceptualize the world at only a human level.  Even the apparently simply idea of atoms is baffling when we think about it.  It means that the chair I am sitting on is not actually a solid object, innocently supporting my weight.  It is almost entirely empty space, occupied only in small particles moving at incomprehensible speeds.  When we think about it, it seems wrong, but it’s just the way things are in our universe.  There’s no use arguing about it.

I turned my glance away from the other students, concluding they had not blindly accepted a nonsensical concept.  They had just realized before I did that there are truths about our universe that do not fit easily into our minds.

My eyes rested on the three seperate structures of nitrate on the wall, my mind assembling the pieces.  One molecule of nitrate is all three resonance structures all the time and never just one of them.  The three are separate but all the same, and they are one.  They are three in one.

Water

Liquid Water has the chemical  composition H2O.

Solid Water (Ice) also has the chemical composition H2O. In other  words Ice and Water share  the same essence.

Water is a hypostasis of the general essence H2O. Ice is a second hypostasis of the same essence. Gaseous Water (steam) is a third hypostasis of the same essence.

Water, Ice and Steam are not identical, but they have the same essence. They are three hypostases of the identical essence and may be composed of exactly the same identical molecules as anyone who has observed the melting, boiling and condensation of H2O starting from a block of ice can attest.

The analogy of the three Hypostases of Water is not a perfect anology of The Trinity but it demonstrates the basic reasonableness of The Trinity, that there can be three individual and distinct realities that have a shared existence.

Triple Point Of Water

The analogy is improved still further by the phenonemon of The  Triple Point Of Water.

The triple point of a substance is the temperature and pressure at which the three phases (gas, liquid, and solid) of that substance coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium.[1] For example, the triple point of Mercury occurs at a temperature of −38.83440 °C and a pressure of 0.2 mPa.

Very strong points of analogy between The Trinity and The Triple Point Of Water are described as follows. You can read more at this link.

1. Both the Triple Point and the Trinity possess a singular nature with three coequal but distinct hypostases.

The triple point and the trinity both have a singular essence and possess three hypostases which have real distinctions among them.

For example, the three states of water at the triple point are conjoined by a common molecular structure, yet ice, steam, and water are quite different in their physical properties such as density, compressibility, electrical conductivity, et cetera. Because the coexisting phases at the triple point possess a distinctive set of physical properties, the union of one into three occurs without loss of identity of the hypostases 

The Trinity is also a single essence containing three hypostases which are able to merge without loss of identity. There is an infusion of three-into-one in both models.

2. Interdependence Between The Hypostases At The Triple Point Are Closely Analogous To Interdependence In Relationships in the Trinity.

The interdependence of hypostases at the triple point are analogous to the sense of relationship found between members of the trinity. Each hypostasis at triple point derives and sustains its character by mutual collaboration with the other two hypostases.

In other words, thermodynamic hypostases at the triple point cannot exist independently of one another, but are interlocked in a state thermodynamic equilibrium. This symphonic blending is similar to the relations between the persons of the Trinity.

The Trinity is defined by a self-contained mutuality of relations, and no one person of the trinity is or can be without the others. There is a coequal sharing of the singular divine essence without intrinsic subordination of any person.

The undivided essence belongs equally to each of the persons and each possesses all the substance and all the attributes of deity. The same could be said for the triple point phases, as no state of matter is more fundamental than another, nor is water any less itself because it exists in three coincident forms.

Molecular Resonance, The Triple Point and The State Phases Of Water all provide useful analogies of The Trinity which demonstrate that the Trinity is reasonable and without self-contradiction.

7. Jesus Has A God, Therefore He Cannot Be God

My material for this section is largely drawn from John Gill’s exposition of John 20:17

Muslims fairly draw attention to John 20:17 in which Jesus clearly says He has a God in order to prove that Jesus cannot be God. How, they ask, can God have a God ? Here is John 20:17

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

The answer lies in recognising that Jesus is God in Human form. Jesus was truly human. Therefore He can have a God.

Can God come to Earth if He wants to ? Of course He can.

If God came to Earth could he have flesh and bones and choose to eat and sleep ? Of course He could.

But God would not stop being divine just because He came to Earth. He would still be God. But he would also be a Human who can eat and sleep and do all the things that Humans do.

God can control Himself in much the same way that I control myself, for example, when I play with my children. When I play with my children I choose to limit my strength so that I do not hurt them when I play with them. In a similar way, when Jesus came to Earth he decided to temporarily limit Himself in certain ways. Jesus still had divine attributes but he chose not to use most of them during His time on Earth while He walked with us as a truly human being.

During the period of His earthly life Jesus chose to make Himself dependent on The Father just as all of humanity is dependent on Father God. In this way, Jesus identified with humanity. He became one of us and shared our limitations and dependence on God while yet retaining His divine nature. For this reason it is possible for Jesus to say that He has a God. Jesus made Himself dependent on The Father.

The passage in question, John 20:17, contains a second reason why it is possible for Jesus to talk about ‘My God and Your God’ and this reason relates to the truth of Jesus’ identification with humanity which we mentioned above.

The reality of identification works two ways. Because Jesus shared our humanity, He identifies with us, but humanity also identifies with Jesus. This means that however The Father chooses to treat Jesus in relation to His humanity then you and I obtain the privilege of being treated by The Father in the same way and The Father treats Jesus.

This identification means that since the Father has declared Jesus Not Guilty of sin, then we also can be declared Not Guilty of sin if we identify with Jesus, i.e. choose in faith to accept Jesus as our representative before The Father. Furthermore, because Jesus was resurrected from the grave and from death by The Father, then we also can be, and will be, resurrected from death and the grave (Barzakh) if we choose to identify with Jesus. Again furthermore because Jesus ascends to The Father, those who identify with Jesus and become part of the Umma of Jesus will also obtain the privilege of ascending to heaven with Jesus to be in the presence of The Father.

This truth of how The Father rewards the Umma of Jesus with the same privileges as Jesus is reported in a truncated form In The Qu’ran Surah Al-Imran:3:55.

“O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection.

It was this third aspect of identification, that of Ascension, that  Jesus was specifically referring to in this passage of scripture around John 20:17. Jesus had been declared Not Guilty by The Father after His ordeal on The Cross, consequently had been resurrected from death and the grave and was just about to ascend to The Father.

The woman wanted Jesus to stay behind on earth with them and clung on to Him but Jesus told them something greater was in store, namely His ascension, which all believers in Him, all His Umma would have the privilege of doing also. But He, Jesus, had to ascend first to make the way for them.

The statement of Jesus ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” teaches His Umma that His ascension makes our ascension possible because of His identification with humanity and our identification with Him.

Amen! Thanks to be to God an Our Lord Jesus Christ !

So, Jesus statement I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God is indeed, as Muslims state, a clear indication of Jesus’ humanity. This humanity came about because Jesus voluntarily chose to make Himself dependent on The Father (see Phillipians 2:5-8).

The statement my Father and your Father…my God and your God is also a powerful statement of truth regarding Jesus’ identification with humanity, by which humanity can be declared Not Guilty before God and obtain resurrection and ascension, which is entry to Paradise.

There is nothing illogical or contradictory about this because God exists as three persons who share a single divine life or essence. Since God exists as three persons, one (Jesus) may choose to go to Earth while the others remain in heaven. Additionally, the One who comes to Earth can choose to make Himself dependent on the One who remains in Heaven. In this way, Jesus can truly call The Father His God whilst yet retaining His own divine nature.

The self-limitation of Jesus does not diminish God because all the Divine Attributes remain fully active in The Father and The Holy Spirit, the other two Divine Persons who share the single Divine Life.

Because there is only one Divine Life, God is One.

Dear Sir,

We met recently while I was visiting friends and talking about Jesus. You said that it would be OK if I left you a short note. You said that there are about 4,200 religions in the world and Google basically agrees with you, though there is significant double-counting with each Christian denomination being counted as a separate religion even though their beliefs are fundamentally identical. You indicated that you had studied a representative number of these religions.

You said that you believe in the Ten Commandments.

Excuse me if I am incorrect, but I understand your basic belief is that all worthwhile religions have a system of moral law and that the core of the moral law of all worthwhile religions is the same. This consistency in the core of the moral law is what validates the moral core as true. In other words we can know what is true by seeing what is common across the worthwhile religions. The moral core of all worthwhile religions is represented by The Ten Commandments.

Hence your basic belief is that all that is required of mankind is that we follow the Ten Commandments, which you do.  Hence you have no further need of any instruction.

Question:  Is something true just because a lot of religions say it is true ? On what basis can a religion be known to be good and worthwhile ? Who decides what is a worthwhile religion ? Is mankind capable of discerning what is true and good ? Does mankind possess a functioning moral consciousness which is able to discern spiritual truth ?

You imply that you have the ability to be able to discern between worthwhile religions and those which are not worthwhile and also to completely or at least satisfactorily follow the teachings of worthwhile religion.

The corollary of the above is that you believe you have a functioning moral consciousness that enables you to both discern and do good, at least to a satisfactory level.

Question: Who decides what is a satisfactory moral performance ? Me ? You ? The local Mullah ? The Pope ? God ? Which God ? A jury of our peers ? Some African people we have never met ? Even allowing for a common moral law, why do people disagree on what is satisfactory  moral performance ? Since people disagree on what is a satatifactory moral performance, how can I know that my own moral performance is acceptable? Are multiple different personal moral standards person-by-person acceptable ? Shouldn’t there be a single objective moral  standard ? How can we know that God will be satisfied with our moral performance ?  Am I qualified to judge myself ? Am I my own God ?

Many people think that a satisfactory moral standard is covered by some subset of the Ten Commandments  –  usually : Don’t lie, Don’t Steal, Don’t Kill and Don’t hurt anyone. Sometimes someone will add Don’t Commit Adultery.

Most Australians seem unaware that we routinely break several of the commandments, namely Don’t worship anyone except Yahweh, the God of The Bible, Don’t misuse the name of God, Don’t work on The Sabbath, Don’t be jealous of someone else’s material possessions, Honour your father and mother.

 Many Australians I speak to think they have basically kept the Ten Commandments, or at least the subset they nominate, though they will also agree that are not perfect and have made some mistakes. They mostly think that their mistakes are small and unimportant and that God will forgive them and that they will still go to Heaven. If pressed they will say ‘ I haven’t killed anyone’, reducing the Ten Commandments to One.

Are the ‘forgotten commandments’ important ? Is it only required to keep One Commandment? If so, which one ? Can we pick and choose which Commandments we follow ?

I agree that the Ten Commandments provide a basis for ethics and moral law. But I often fail to keep the Ten Commandments.

Should there be any consequences for moral failure ? If so, what should those consequences be ?

The Ten Commandments appear in The Bible in Exodus Chapter 20. Exodus Chapter 20 also spells out the consequences for moral failure: to atone for failure to keep the moral law, Israel was required to bring sheep and other animals and sacrifice them to God.

So The Ten Commandments say that the consequences for moral failure is Death. Not your own death, but someone else’s. Of course if the animal was not bought for sacrifice, the guilt would remain on the law-breaker and his own death would be required by God on Judgement Day.

Question: Can we believe the Ten Commandments and the moral law without believing the consequences for our failure to keep the moral law ? Can we accept the first half of Exodus 20 but reject the second half ? Can we pick and choose from The Ten Commandments ? Can we pick and choose which parts of The Bible to believe ?

Jesus also believed the Ten Commandments. In Mark 10:17-30, Jesus instructed a Rich Young Man to follow the Ten Commandments. The Rich Young Man claimed to have followed all the Commandments, but was still spiritually empty. Jesus questioned The Rich Young Man on his attitude and actions in regard to wealth.

What question would Jesus ask you ? What question would he ask me ?

In the end Jesus told His disciples that it was impossible for a Man to go to Heaven by adherence to the Moral Law.

Jesus said “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. (Mark 10:25-27)

Question: Jesus says it is impossible for man to satisfy God with our Moral Performance.  Is Jesus correct ?

Why is it impossible for you and me to satisfy God with our moral performance ? Because the standard of God is perfection. Read Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve were expelled from Heaven for committing just one sin. Have you committed one sin ? I have. We all have.

In fact,  Jesus interpereted the Ten Commandments very strictly. Jesus taught that wrong thoughts and attitudes were the same as committing sins physically. One specific example Jesus gave was men looking at women lustfully. I have done this. Jesus says that makes me guilty of adultery. I suspect every man on the planet is thus guilty of adultery. Maybe even you.  By Jesus’s standards (see Matthew 5:28).

Jesus also taught that any man who calls another man ‘A fool’ has committed a sin and is therefore liable for moral consequences, this penalty being death and hell. (Matthew 5:22)  So,  Jesus teaches us that there is not even one person has lived a satisfactory moral life

Question: Should we accept Jesus standard of morality or our own ? Why ?

Jesus also believed in the second half of Exodus 20, the consequences of moral failure i.e. the Death of the One who fails morally. John The Baptist said Jesus is The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). In other words, John taught that Jesus is the ransom required for mankind to receive forgiveness from God.  Jesus taught the reason for his life was to give his life as a ransom for many.(Matthew 20:28). Jesus taught that all mankind including you and me are guilty of moral failure and face the most extreme consequences.

And that’s where Christmas comes in. God Himself decided to come to Earth as Jesus to live as a man, to overcome all temptations and to completely fulfil the moral law of God.  In this way, Jesus becomes a representative of mankind before God. He suffered death and hell  on our behalf so that we don’t have to.

Jesus has paid your ransom. You now have the choice before God of accepting Jesus as your ransom or choosing to pay the penalty of death and hell yourself.

Its up to you.

You indicated that you do not believe that the death of Jesus on the Cross is a payment for your sins because you do not believe in Human Sacrifice.

Jesus did not teach us to practice Human Sacrifice. Jesus did teach us that the Judicial Penalty for sin is death. He has paid that penalty so that you don’t have to. There is a fallacy believed that Christianity teaches Human Sacrifice. It does not.  But Jesus, Moses, David and Abraham did teach that the Judicial Penalty of death can be paid for by God on behalf of mankind.

Sir, not all religions are the same, even though all of them have some kind of moral law. Let’s examine the four largest religions on Earth:

Hindus say: The Truth is One, but the teachers speak of it in many different ways.

Buddha said: Follow my eight-fold path and you will discover The Truth.

Mohammed said: The Truth has been revealed to me.

Jesus said: I am The Truth

Of the four largest religions on earth, there is only one that says that you can get to the truth by multiple different essentially equal ways. That religion in Hinduism.If someone says that there are many ways to God they are contradicting Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus. Do we really have any right to contradict these teachers ? In particular, who are we to say that we understand their religions better than they themselves do ? Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus all said that there is only one way to heaven, not many.

If we align ourselves with Hinduism saying all religions are basically the same,  do we then do as the Hindus do and worship Ganesh, Shiva and Vishnu ? If not, why not ?

Of these four religions, three say the way to heaven is by works, or our own efforts in adherence to the moral law. Only one says that our own efforts in adherence to the moral law will never take us to Heaven. And that one is Jesus.

Jesus stands alone.

Is Jesus correct ? Is He alone The Way to Heaven ?

I am the way and the truth and the life. 

No one comes to the Father except through me. (Jesus, John 14:6)

 Sir, Thank You so much for allowing me to leave you this short note. I would love to discuss these ideas with you in further detail. Please contact me any time.

Merry Christmas !

 

(Repost For Christmas. Originally here)

In our place we don’t do Santa.

We have informed the children that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’s birthday and that Santa is a way people have of remembering the very nice man St Nicholas of Patara who would give presents to poor children for Jesus’s birthday because they had no one to give them presents.

Just The Facts

Objectively this is a factually historically sound precis of the identities of the major personages associated with Christmas and far closer to the truth than the western secular culturally approved Christmas story which is that Christmas is a day when the entirely mythical Santa Claus pilots a team of magic reindeer around the planet and distributes presents to children on the basis of good behaviour, completing his global mission in one night assisted by a team of magical elves.

So on a factual basis my family explanation of ‘Why Christmas?’ beats the objectivity index of the major alternative explanation by about 100-NIL.

Even if you think that Jesus Himself is a myth it is nevertheless true that Christmas Day came into being a celebration of Jesus’s birthday. Yes, yes I know, the actual day was appropriated from a pagan midwinter festival but it wasn’t called Christmas then.

Name That Stereotype

Now if you’re a hard core atheist you despise myths of all kinds so you wouldn’t be wanting to be feeding the children’s minds up with Santa nonsense. You’ll be telling them that Christmas (without the deliberate mis-spelling with ‘X’) is a celebration of the birthday of a mythical person called Jesus ’cause that’s factual, but that in your family Christmas is just about whatever you want to do at Christmas.

And if you’re an agnostic you’ll have no objection to Jesus as a putative historical personage or even as God, so you would have at least no objection to be going with the basic facts about ‘Why Christmas?‘, but you might decide to go with the Santa story because its fun for kids to play make-believe.

I guess the ‘Christmas is about Santa’ story would also be adopted to easy-going or less dogmatic atheists like Julia Gillard, Prime Minister Of Australia, who don’t believe in God but who don’t share the relentless atheist insistence on eliminating Jesus from public consciousness associated with, say, Richard Dawkins, and just like to see the kids get entranced in ‘the magic of Christmas’.

And from personal observation it would also apply to the general Australian public for whom neither Jesus nor atheism nor agnosticism registers at any meaningful resonance.

As far those who believe Jesus is God, such as myself, we obviously want to emphasize that Christmas is about Jesus’s birthday. Some Christian families also integrate Santa into their Christmas Family narrative but in my opinion this makes Christmas worse, not better.

Why Santa makes Christmas Worse

When our kids get a Christmas present they know that Mummy and Daddy have bought it for them, not Santa. So this is tangible evidence that M&D love giving them great stuff, and the greatest stuff that kids get, materially speaking, comes on Christmas Day. Pooh-pooh it if you like but gift-giving is a practical demonstration of love. Why should my kids think that Santa loves them more than M&D ? I think that its a positive for the children that they know that M&D bought them the big shiny bike or the Hot Wheels Trick Tracks Mega-Dino Challenge or the Dora The Explorer magnetic toothbrush with built in compass.

Secondly, the kids express their joy for the gift directly back to M&D and it goes like this WOW! THANKS DAD! THAT IS AWESOOOOMMME! Sorry Santa, you don’t deserve that gratitude since you don’t even exist anyway and I’m sure as eggs not letting you have it. So the M&D’s get to express the full volume of their children’s delight at the Christmas gifts, instead of vicariously filtered via Santa.

Third, we as M&D give Christmas presents to our children because we love them, not on the basis of whether or not they have been good. Our children get validated for who they are, not on the basis of their transitory behaviour. Our children know they do not have to earn the love of M&D unlike that fickle impostor Santa whose favour can at any time evaporate like summer mist.

Fourth, the children get facts not fiction. No matter how you slice it, Santa is made up. A truthful explanation of Why Do We Give Presents At Christmas must include some reference to Jesus, even if He is relegated to myth. Face it, Santa entered the Christmas narrative at some point many centuries after Jesus and doubly so the magic reindeer and elves.

Much as many hate it Jesus IS the ORIGINAL reason for the season and the reason why Christmas exists. Here’s a theoretical question your child may ask:

Child: ‘Mummy, Why DO people go around saying ‘Christmas is a time of peace and goodwill to all men’ ?
Incorrect Answer A: Because Christmas is a time when we get together as a family.
Correct Answer B: Its because that’s what the Angels said to the shepherds on Jesus’s birthday.

Quite simply, an integrated understanding of Christmas requires reference to Jesus.

Fifth, for those who are Jesus-friendly, awarding Christmas to Santa robs Jesus of richly deserved recognition. Americans have a thing called Martin Luther King Day. Contrary to current popular preferential meaning, this does not commemorate the day when Santa led a Freedom march on Washington DC to eloquently demand equal rights for African-Americans assisted by a team of magical elves. I think you get what I mean. Even if you think Jesus is just a man or even just a myth, why not let the kids admire and learn from His example ?

Santa Is Not All Bad

Ejecting Santa from Christmas is not without cost. My kids do miss out on the awestruck wonder of waiting for Santa to visit and some really great make-believe. And yes, my kids are almost the only ones at school who don’t think Santa is real, which can make them seem like Alien Life-Forms to the others who have been fed the 100% guaranteed Santa myth. Ironic that, but it doesn’t seem to lead to teasing.

But even without Jesus, Christmas is better without Santa (see reasons one, two and three above). Of course WITH Jesus there is another kind of awestuck wonder which happens to be based in historical truth, but even if you really wish to persist with Jesus is A Myth, at least you can tell tell the myth that is related to the actual origins of Christmas rather than the one that originated with Coca-Cola Inc.

Hindus say: The Truth is One, but the sages speak of it in many different ways.

Buddha said: Follow my eight-fold path and you will discover The Truth.

Mohammed said: The Truth has been revealed to me.

Jesus said: I am The Truth

 

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.  

No one comes to the Father except through me.

(Jesus, John 14:6)

Acknowledgement – I first saw this schema of Comparative Religion in a book I read when I was in my early 20’s when I was trying to figure out if Jesus Is God. The book was published by an Anglican publishing house but I can’t remember the name of the book or who the authors are.

My Muslim friends often challenge me to prove that Jesus said that He Is God. Specifically they want me to find a place in The Bible where Jesus Himself said the exact words ‘I am God. Worship me.’ Just Google this Where did Jesus say I am God Worship Me’ for dozens of examples of Muslims issuing this challenge.

My Muslim friends will not accept as proof anyone else in The Bible saying that Jesus is God, or anyone worshiping Jesus who was not explicitly commanded by Jesus to worship Him, or Jesus saying any other words or doing any other actions (such as forgiving sins which Jesus did and which only God can do) that indicate that Jesus is God. They demand that I show them in The Bible only Jesus Himself saying these exact words ‘I am God. Worship me’.

If these exact words do not exist in The Bible from Jesus own mouth, my Muslim friends say, then Jesus never claimed to be God and therefore Christians are not justified in saying that Jesus is God and therefore Jesus must be only a man.

Muslims insist on being shown one specific type of proof of Deity expressed in only one exact and specific formulation. Nothing else is acceptable.

Jesus Never Said ‘I am a Man. Do Not Worship Me.’

Well, where in The Bible does Jesus say the exact words ‘I am a man. Don’t worship me.’.

By the standard of proof demanded by Muslims If Jesus didn’t say the exact words I am a man. Don’t worship me. then Muslims are not justified in saying that Jesus is a man and therefore Jesus must be God.

Could Muslim readers please provide their proof from The Bible that Jesus said ‘I am a man. Don’t worship me’.

I will only accept these exact words as proof. I will not accept anyone else calling Jesus a man as proof that Jesus is a man, nor will I accept Jesus saying other words indicating that He is a man, nor will I accept Jesus performing actions indicating that He is a man (such as eating or sleeping) and I will not accept as proof anyone not worshiping Jesus except if they have been explicitly commanded by Jesus to not worship Him.

The only acceptable proof is Jesus saying these exact words: ‘I am a man. Don’t worship me.’.

I insist on being shown one specific type of proof of humanity expressed in only one exact and specific formulation. Nothing else is acceptable.

Thanks.

How Muslims Prove That Jesus Is Not God

Of course Muslims do not rely on finding the exact words I am a man. Do not worship me. stated by Jesus in order to prove that Jesus Is Not God. Muslims prove that Jesus is not God by finding equivalent words said by Jesus, or by finding Jesus doing things that humans need to do, such as eat and sleep, in order to make their proof.

Here is the well-known Islamic polemecist Zakir Naik proving that Jesus is human and not God by showing that Jesus needed to eat in order to stay alive

Human beings require to eat – God does not require to eat, to survive – They are not the same…And this is testified by Jesus Christ… in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter No. 24, Verse No. 36 to 39…­­­­­­And he said that… ‘Do you have any meat to eat ?’­­­­­­And they gave him broiled fish and a piece of honeycomb – And he ate.

In the same article Zakir Naik proves that Jesus is not God by finding words said by Jesus which are equivalent to Jesus saying I am a man. Do not worship me. Naik quotes Jesus from Matthew 12:28 where Jesus says…‘I cast out devils with the spirit of God’. Naik finds here (though I do not) that Jesus makes Himself distinct from God by this statement and therefore Jesus is simply a human being.

So Muslims do not limit themselves to finding Jesus saying one exact statement in order prove that Jesus is human. Nor should they. Inferential proofs that demonstrate humanity are indeed proof of humanity and need to be accepted by reasonable persons that Jesus was indeed human. And on the other hand, nor should Muslims or any person limit themselves to finding Jesus saying one exact statement in order prove that Jesus is Divine. Inferential proofs of Jesus’ Divinity need to be accepted just as readily as inferential proofs of Jesus humanity.

Indeed it would be frankly hypocritical of Muslims to accept inferential proofs of Jesus humanity and not to accept inferential proofs of Jesus’ Deity.

Proofs Of Jesus Deity

As stated above Muslims use the fact that Jesus needed to do what humans do in order to prove that Jesus is a human. By the same logic, if Jesus does what only God can do then Jesus is Divine. First, then, here is Jesus performing a Divine action, forgiving sins, which only God can do. See Mark 2:5-10

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things… 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”…

Secondly, here is Jesus claiming to be God by saying He is the same person as God. Jesus does this by taking the name of God ‘I AM’ and applying it to Himself. Here is John 8:51-58

51 [Jesus said] Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”…[The Jews replied] Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied…. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Jesus claims to be greater than Abraham and all prophets, to have existed prior to Abraham and to have an eternal existence. The phrase ‘I AM’ is the name of God by which God revealed to Moses and which God says is His name forever and the name by which He, God, is to be called by His people. Jesus gives this name I AM as the answer to the question of the Jews ‘Who do you think you are ?’.

Jesus thus to claims to have the same name as God and is therefore claiming to be God. This is shown by the Jews who were listening to Jesus who picked up stones to stone Him for Blasphemy.

Jesus says His own name is the name of God. This infers that Jesus is God. This is what his listeners understood to be Jesus’ meaning.

Notice that Jesus does not correct the Jews for having a wrong understanding. Imagine if someone tried to stone Mohammed for Blasphemy because Mohammed said his name was Allah. Mohammed would immediately stop and correct that person and clear up the misunderstanding. Mohammed would never allow anyone to think that he was calling himself by God’s name.

But Jesus does. Jesus allows his listeners to go on thinking that He, Jesus, had used God’s name as His own name. This means that Jesus validates the understanding that He is God as a correct understanding.

Jesus has claimed to be God. His listeners heard and understood that claim and tried to stone Jesus for blasphemy. Jesus did not correct their understanding.

Notice that Jesus also allowed people to think He, Jesus is God, when he healed the paralysed man in Mark 2, recounted above. Jesus knew what the Jews were thinking that He, Jesus, was committing blasphemy by forgiving sins which only God can do. Jesus does not try and correct their understanding. In fact, Jesus does the opposite. Jesus confirms their understanding that He, Jesus, claimsto be God, by specifically saying that He, Jesus, has authority to forgive sins.

Again, imagine if Mohammed had said to someone ‘I have the authority to forgive sins’. Of course Mohammed would never do so, because Mohammed is not God.

But Jesus is God.

So Jesus does what only God can do and forgives people their sins.

Jesus Many Times Accused Of Blasphemy And Accepted Worship

Jesus was many times accused of blasphemy. This shows that he was repeatedly telling people that He was God. He never said to people ‘Stop. You misunderstand me. I am not claiming to be God.’ Surely as an honourable man Jesus would have corrected any person who had such amazing ideas about Him. But instead Jesus allowed people to believe that He, Jesus, was claiming to be God.

Imagine if people said to Mohammed You are committing blasphemy! Mohammed would immediately correct the wrong understanding of that person. There is no way that Mohammed would allow anyone to think that he was claiming to be God. If anyone did think that way, Mohammed would certainly correct them.

But Jesus never stopped anyone believing He is God. On the contrary, Jesus accepted worship and commended people for worshiping Him.

Jesus Directly Claimed To Be God

I stated above that inferential proofs must be accepted just as readily as direct proofs. But in reality Jesus directly claimed to be God. Jesus did this by performing actions which only God can do, such as forgiving sins, and by claiming God’s name as His own name.

Jesus listeners understood that Jesus was claiming to be God. Jesus never corrected them, but instead repeatedly confirmed their understanding. See John 10:33-39

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

 We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” 

Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

Summary

  • Muslims will only accept Jesus saying the exact words ‘I am God. Worship Me.’ as proof that Jesus claimed to be God
  • But Muslims do not limit themselves to Jesus saying the exact words  ‘I am man. Do not Worship Me.’ when attempting to prove that Jesus is simply a human
  • Muslims therefore utilise a hypocritical double-standard of proofs
  • Muslims use inferential proofs to say that Jesus is human
  • This is reasonable and fair. Inferential proofs are just as valid as direct proofs.
  • There are many inferential and direct proofs that Jesus claimed to be God
  • Muslims must accept inferential proofs of Deity just as they accept inferential proofs of humanity
  • Thus we can see that The Bible contains two sets of proofs: Proof that Jesus is human and proof that Jesus is God
  • This is exactly what one would expect if God entered the world as a human being. He would retain His divinity and yet also exhibit humanity.
  • This is who Jesus is: God incarnate as a human being.

 

Appendix: God’s Name Is I AM As Revealed To Moses And Used By Jesus

See Exodus 3:13-15

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[b] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[c] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

This is my name forever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation.

John 8:53-58

53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? …Who do you think you are?”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, before Abraham was born, I AM!

 

Abraham is a hero of Judaism and Christianity, admired by Jews and Christians alike for his faith and obedience to God. God’s own opinion of Abraham is totally complimentary, saying of him in Genesis 26:5 Abraham obeyed me keeping, my commands, my decrees and instructions.

But a reading of the Abrahamic narratives shows that Abraham made morally hazardous decisions as he learned and refined his outstanding faith. In this post I want to explore the moral decisions of Abraham and God’s reactions to them. A question that may be asked is Did Abraham Sin ? And if the answer to that question is Yes, Abraham sinned then on what basis is God justified in his opinion of Abraham that Abraham obeyed me, keeping my commands, my decrees and instructions.

Abram Fails To Acknowledge Sarai As His Wife In Egypt

The Abrahamic narratives get properly underway in Genesis 12 where in the first verses of that chapter God’s promises of covenental blessing, manifold descendants and a promised land are made. But quite soon after Abraham’s arrival in Canaan a famine besets the land and Abraham decides to take refuge in Egypt.

Before entering Egypt, Abram instructs Sarai to conceal their marriage relationship and to acknowledge only that she is his sister. This is a half-truth. Sarai is indeed Abram’s half-sister, but Abram instructs Sarai to conceal the full truth of their relationship, which is that they are also married. The motivation for Abraham’s instruction is that his life will be spared and that he will be treated well if Pharoah can be kept unaware that he is Sarai’s husband, since otherwise Pharoah will kill Sarai in order to take her as his own wife due to Sarai’s beauty. The record of this event is in Genesis 12:10-19

Abram conceals the true nature of his relationship with Sarai. Is this a sin ?

Pharoah duly hears about Sarai and his agents deliver Sarai to Pharoah who pays Abram an impressively Pharoah-sized bride price. God then punishes Pharoah afflicting his household house with serious diseases. (v.17) Abram on the other hand becomes massively enriched with Pharoah’s sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys and camels as well as being given numbers of male and female servants.

But why didn’t Abram get into trouble with God ? Did he actually do anything wrong by concealing the full truth about Sarai. If Abram did sin, why didn’t God say or do anything about it ? Does the Lord actually validate Abram’s deceitfulness  ?

Abram Fails To Acknowledge Sarai As His Wife Again. 

Some time after this, Abraham again fails to acknowledge the full truth of his relationship with Sarai, this time when dwelling in the region of Gerar, ruled by King Abimelek (See Genesis 20:6-18). Abram again comes out again massively enriched and the Pagan King again rebuked by God and his nation beset with diseases and infertility amongst the women.

Justifying Abraham

Since God blesses Abram and rebukes the pagan kings one might be led to  assume that Abram’s deceptiveness is morally acceptable to God. How then can we justify Abram ?

First, some have said that Abram’s lack of candour with Pharoah and Abimelek is a justifiable Survival Strategy. After all, to protect oneself against powerful despotic rulers such as Pharoah requires unusual lines of defence, even lying. This argumentsdoes not stand up to inspection. Abram reveals to Abimelek that he (Abram) devised this self-protective line of defence of having Sarai conceal their marriage well in advance of entering Egypt or even Canaan (Gen. 20:13) well before any theat from despotic kings emerged. In any case, Abram admits it was not just King Abimelek he was scared of, but the entire nation of Gerar, which he perceived as dangerous and godless (Gen. 20:11).

Secondly, some say that Abram was using a Righteous Lie which is to say, a lie which serves a greater truth, such as the lie that Rahab the prostitute employed to protect the lives of Moses’ spies against the police force of Jericho.

Thirdly some note that under the then ruling cultural system of Fratriarchy (same as  Laban, Rebekah’s Brother Gen 24:15, 28) the brother was recognised as head of family and so was empowered to negotiate a bride price. Perhaps Abram was justified in utilising a strategy of using bride-price negotiations as a mechanism so as to try and stall Abimelek and Pharoah and so buy time to make a get away ?  In this view Abram was just unlucky that Pharoah and Abimelek were determined to acquire Sarai and would not accept a protracted bride-price negotation.

Fourth, some note that Abram responsible for a household  of people, not just himself and Sarai. Abram had a whole household of people acquired in Harran en-route to Canaan. This household depended on Abram for survival, thus Abram was justified in using practically any means possible to keep himself alive and in a position to defend them, including deception.

Fifth, some note that God instructed Abimelek to ask Abram to pray (intercede) for the healing of Abimelek’s household and so assert that this proves that Abimelek had sinned and that therefore Abram had done nothing wrong.

Despite these apologetics for Abram, I think the Bible shows us that Abram sinned. To discover this, lets look at the record of Abram and the King Of Gerar, as this passage provides the most detail of the two Abram Abandons Sarai passages

Proof That Abram Sinned

Abram’s rationale for his deception of Abimelek, that he, Abram, was amongst a godless people is not supported by the text.  On the contrary, both Pharoah and Abimelech act honourably, displaying knowledge of right and wrong

In Genesis 20:9-10 Abimelek tells God that he is ‘innocent’ and  has a ‘clear conscience’. The Lord agrees with Abimelek, and tells Abimelek that he, the Lord, has acted in mercy to prevent Abimelek from sinning, this mercy taking the form of illness and fertility blighting his household in order to alert  Abimelek to  a situation in his household of whih the Lord disapproved. Abimelek tells Abram to his face that ‘You (Abram) have done things to me that should never be done’

Abram does not dispute Abimelek’s assessment. He just tries to rationalize his behavior.

Abram displays Blameshifting in recounting his rationale to Abimelek, implying its all God’s fault, apparently, that this has happened, not Abram’s: ‘God caused me to wander from my Father’s house’; 20:13

On releasing Sarai to Abram, Abimelech is drily scathing. He says  I have given your brother 1000 pieces of silver.i.e as compensation for wronging him and you. Pharoah was likewise blunt, dismissive and contemptuous of Abram. He is certain that he has been wronged and that Abram is at fault.

What Is The Real Point Of Abram and His Abandonment Of Sarai ?

Actually, Abraham’s sin or lack of it is not central to the narrative.

In fact, the most important person in these narrative is Sarai, not Abram at all. God has promised that He will make Abram into a great nation. But God is going to do that in a way that maximizes His own glory by doing it through miraculous birth. That’s why Sarai is the more important than Abram in the Abandonment narratives. Notice that Abram wants his life to be spared for Sarai’s sake 12:13, Pharaoh treats Abram well for Sarai’s sake 12:16; The Lord afflicts Pharoah for Sarai’s sake 12:17)

The barrenness of Sarai is linked to Messianic promises regarding the Messiah coming from the ‘Seed Of a Woman’, the promise of which God gave to Eve in Genesis 3:15 : The unusual phrase ‘seed of woman’ is a pointer to the miraculous Virgin Birth. Seed is usually associated with men, not women.

Sarai is barren. She is a type of Mary. The Son Of Promise comes through a miraculous birth.

More exactly, Abram and Sarai are the chosen vessels through whom the Messianic line will be propogated. God will insist on doing this miraculously through the barren Sarai. Abram is important only because God has chosen Him. This choice is not in any way because of any intrinsic qualities of Abram. God has simply chosen to love and bless Abram and has promised this blessing unconditionally. Therefore Abram and Sarai, no other couple, will produce the progeny.

Therefore God can allow no doubt as to the parentage of Sarai’s child. It cannot come through Pharoah or Gerar. The promised child must come through Sarai and by Abram so that God’s promises are proven to be fulfilled by God. This is a matter of God’s character and faithfulness. Not Abram’s.

Hence Sarai must be returned to Abram. This is what God engineers, protects, instigates and maintains.

Covenental Promises Made To Abraham

The actions of God in these Sarai Abandoned narratives demonstrate His faithfulness to those promises, not His validation of any supposed sinlessness of Abram

God promised Abraham that I will Bless You (12:2) and Your name will be great (12:3)

In Genesis 20:7 God tells Abimelek that Abraham will pray for you and you will live for he is a prophet.  That intercession is not due to any sin of Abimelek, but is the action of God uplifting Abraham in the sight of the Kings of the region, naming him as a Prophet and so making Abram’s name great. God defends Abram, effectively  telling the Kings of the region. You don’t mess with Abram. He is my man, my chosen instrument. Wealth, military might and skill,  spiritual power, The Hand Of God is on Abram.

Most importantly these Sarai Abandonment narratives show that the fulfillment of God’s promises does not depend on man’s effort or skill  or goodness, but solely on God’s Goodness, Faithfulness and Character.

Whether or not Abram has commits any sin is not germane to the success of God’s mission or to validate his choice of this or that person to bring about His plans. God chooses to be personally faithful in bringing His own promises to pass.

Harmony With Other Patriarchal Narratives

God sovereignly and providentially acts through misguided, ethically perilous acts of humanity even in His chosen family to realize His promises. We see this repeatedly in the Patriarchal narratives. Isaac,  Jacob and Judah all provide examples of how God works his will through tragically flawed and imperfect human vessels.

God makes His promises, His people imperil them, but the Lord rescues them and us.

Even the great Abraham is imperfect.

God is the hero of every story in scripture and of all our own personal stories.

My Personal Favourite Is Isaac

Isaac ignored what He knew to be God’s will to pass the Covenental Blessings of Yahwah to Jacob. Isaac planned to pass those blessings to Esau in defiance of the prophecy given to Rebekah regarding Jacob when he was born ‘the older will serve the younger’ (Gen 26:23).

Jacob lies to Isaac and says ‘I am Esau your firstborn’ (Genesis 27:19), Isaac delivers the blessing saying  ‘Be Lord over your brothers’ and then to his great shock the real Esau comes into his tent. The Hebrew charad means to shudder with terror’. Scripture says Isaac trembled violently ‘Who was that, then ?’ .

God was in that very room living and active and Isaac was caught red-handed trying to monkey around with the Lord’s promises. The Lord had personally acted to defend his covenant.

As for Judah, well he breaks his vow to Tamar, and has no compunction about sleeping with shrine prostitutes and plotting murder, and yet the line of the Messiah goes through him.

In view of the above, Does the Lord tolerate sin: No – Moses (Would have killed him), Jacob, Judah

Finally, not that it matters since The Koran is not among the true Holy Books of God, I would like to note that even The Koran acknowledges that Abraham sinned.

See Bukhari 4:55:578 and 4:55:591 – Doubt about Allah giving life to Dead. Also Koran 21:51 and 26:82 where Abraham’s history as a polytheist who worshipped the Sun, Moon and Stars is recorded.

Shia Muslims are fond of claiming that Jesus did not die on the cross, but rather that a Look-Alike was substituted into Jesus place by God and it was this Look-Alike who actually died on the cross. By this means, Shia reject the basic message of Biblical Salvation Jesus Died On The Cross For Your Sins.

Shia go as far as to say that the Look-Alike substitution theory is taught in The Bible. This article will refute that claim.

  1. The Look Alike Of Jesus

 

The website of the Shia sect ‘Ansar’  has an article called The Look Alike Of Jesus.

The Ansar hold to orthodox Shia teaching with the important exception that they believe the  Shia saviour, The Mehdi, has already returned to earth to commence the events leading to Armageddon. For this reason the Ansar are rejected as heretic by orthodox Shia. But in all other respects the Ansar hold to Orthodox Shia teaching. Hence I will use the Ansar article, linked above, as representative of Shia teaching on The Look-Alike of Jesus.

The Ansar article says that a young man replaced Jesus on the cross and that this young man is a vice-regent (Caliph) from the family of Mohammed whose appearance was changed so that he looked like Jesus.

The twelfth man who came, or say descended from heavens, is the vice-regent from the family of Muhammad (PBUH), who was crucified and killed, after he was made to look like Jesus (PBUH)

The Ansar article contradicts the Bible.

The Bible says that Jesus died on the cross, not a substitute, and does not mention any Look- Alike. According to the Bible, Jesus Himself was crucified and later resurrected. According to the Bible Jesus appeared to many hundreds of his followers after being raised from the dead and was recognised by his friends and companions. John 21:14 is a representative scripture. This scripture says:

 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

So, the Bible is clear that it is Jesus who died on the cross and was raised from the dead, not any substitute or Look-Alike.

It is thus ridiculous for the Ansar, or anyone for that matter, to claim that The Bible teaches that a Look-Alike was substituted for Jesus on The Cross. The Bible clearly and plainly teaches that it was Jesus who went to The Cross, died, and was resurrected.

2. Ansar Details Of Events Completely Different To Bible

 

The Ansar article says the twelve were meeting in a house at the time Jesus was arrested.

The Bible says the twelve were not meeting in a house, they were meeting in a garden (John 18:1)

The Ansar article says that Jesus had water dripping from his hair when he spoke to the others

The Bible says that Jesus was sweating drops of blood, not merely dripping water from his hair. (Luke 22:44)

The Ansar article gives an incorrect translation of Jesus’s words on the cross  Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani, saying they are a call to Imam Ali.

Jesus was calling out to God using his first language which is Aramaic. They are correctly translated in the Bible as ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me ?’ (Matthew 27:46). The Ansar deliberately mistranslate the Aramaic of Jesus in order to make their case for a Shi’a substitution theory. This is a gross corruption of God’s Holy Book, The Injeel, by The Ansar, of which they should be greatly ashamed.

Furthermore it is ridiculous to state that Jesus was calling out to Imam Ali for assistance on the cross. Imam Ali was not even born until  600 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. How could Ali possibly be available to assist anyone six centuries before his birth ?

Finally, it would be blasphemous for Jesus to pray to Imam Ali. The Bible is clear that prayer must only be directed to God. The Ansar thus implicate Jesus in a blasphemous act of Shirk, associating Imam Ali with God and praying to Imam Ali. Jesus would never do such a thing.

Question: Why do The Ansar deliberately mistranslate the words of Jesus ?.

  1. Jesus Asks For A Volunteer

 The Ansar article says Jesus asked for a volunteer to replace him on the cross

 ‘then [Jesus] said, verily Allah is raising me to him this hour, and He is my purifier from the Jews, so who among you is to have my ghost thrown upon him that he may be killed and crucified and be with me in my status/level? So a young man from them said, I am, O spirit of Allah, so he said, so you are he”.

The Bible says that Jesus Himself went to the cross and never asked for a volunteer to replace Him. There is no record in the Bible of any Look-Alike, any request for a Look-Alike or of any conversation with a Look-Alike.

Question: The Ansar give a false report that Jesus asked His Disciples to volunteer to take His place on The Cross and that a Look-Alike  embedded in their midst by Allah volunteered to be that substitute on The Cross and that the Disciples of Jesus knew about this substitution.  If Disciples knew of the Look Alike and his substitution for Jesus, why didn’t they tell everybody about it instead of transmitting an untrue story that Jesus had been crucified ?

  1. The Reason For The Crucifixion

The Ansar article says that the Look Alike was killed for various reasons relation to the Mahdi including  for the resurrection of Imam Al Mahdi.

The Bible says that Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice of payment to pay for the sins of mankind. (Matthew 26:28; Matthew 20:28)

Once again we see the Ansar reports in contradiction to The Bible. Far from supporting The Ansar substitution theory, The Bible directly contradicts it.

  1. King Of The Jews

The Ansar article says that Jesus was evasive when asked ‘Are you King Of The Jews’, answering ‘You say that I am’. The Ansar article explains this evasion by stating that the Look Alike gave this evasive answer to avoid stating clearly that he was not Jesus.

The explanation of Jesus’s words given by the Ansar article is not correct. When Jesus says ‘You Have Said So’ he means ‘Yes’.

For example in Luke 22:70 The High Priest asks Jesus ‘Are You The Son Of God’, Jesus answers ‘You say that I am’ The Priests say ‘We have heard it from His own lips’

This can be further seen from other passages where the same expression is used:

“‘The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.’ Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He answered, ‘You have said so.’” Matthew 26:24-25 NAB

It is obvious that Jesus was not denying that Judas was his betrayer, but was rather confirming that Judas had answered his own question.

“Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charge against him, saying, ‘We found this man misleading our people; he opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.’ Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He said to him in reply, ‘You say so.’” Luke 23:1-3 NAB

That Jesus’ reply was taken as an affirmation can be seen in the charges posted above his cross:

“Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, ‘If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription that read, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’” Luke 23:37-38 NAB

In fact, Christ’s enemies started mocking him for claiming to be God’s Son obviously due to his confession before the Sanhedrin:

“And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said“I am the Son of God.”’” Matthew 27:39-43 RSV

From the above discussion we can plainly see that when we read the full context of scripture that Jesus’ answer to the question about Him being King Of The Jews is plainly ‘Yes, I am’.

Finally, look at Jesus answer to The High Priest in Mark 14. The High Priest asks Jesus “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”. Jesus answered him ‘I am’ (Mark 14:61-62)

In Mark 14, Jesus answer is very direct. This is because Mark has translated the meaning of Jesus’ answer, whereas Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ exact words.

Question: Why does the Ansar website use Jesus words from Luke 22 and Matthew 26 and not from Mark 14 Why do the Ansar ignore scripture that proves that Jesus answer ‘You say that I am’ means ‘Yes’?

  1. Descended From Heaven

The Ansar article says that the Look Alike came from Heaven. It quotes John 18:37 as Jesus saying that he came into the world from heaven and ascribes this to the Look Alike.

The Bible tells us that Jesus said many times that Jesus came from Heaven. There are many scriptures which say this before the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.

For example in John 6:38 Jesus says “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”

In John 3:13 Jesus says of Himself

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.

Jesus said He came from Heaven. This is a true statement made many times by Him. And Jesus said this many times before His trial and crucifixion, which means he said it before the Ansar claim there was a Look Alike.

Quite obviously the one descended from Heaven is Jesus Himself. No Look-Alike is ever mentioned.

7. Jesus Asked The Father That He Should Not Go To The Cross

The Ansar article quotes Matthew 26:42-43 to say that Jesus prayed that he would not go to the cross and that therefore Allah answered this prayer so that Jesus was not crucified.

And pay attention that Jesus is a sent prophet and he had asked from Allah swt to be healed and to push the crucifixion and the torture and the killing away from him, and Allah swt does not return back a du’a of a sent prophet.

The Ansar article is incorrect in its understanding of Jesus prayer and The Father’s response. Jesus does say that he would wish there was an alternative path for Him other than the cross  but Jesus also knows that it is The Father’s will for Jesus to endure the cross and be killed there. Jesus knows there is no other way for Him. So he submits to the father’s will. He says ‘not my will, but yours be done’ (Matt. 26:39).

There is no mention of a Look Alike in this conversation between Jesus and the Father. In fact the text makes it plain that there is no other way for Jesus than to submit to the Father’s will and die on the cross. Jesus willingly allows Himself to be captured and stops Peter from trying to defend him (Matt 26:52). Jesus knows that the cross is necessary to fulfill prophecy of scripture and the Will of God (Matt 26:52-54).

Question: If The Father sent a Look Alike for Jesus, why is it not mentioned in the Injeel ? In particular, why is the Look Alike not mentioned in the very passage where Jesus supposedly requests from The Father that Jesus be spared The Cross ?

Plainly there is no Look Alike and it is Jesus who went to The Cross.

  1. Silent Before The Shearers

The Ansar website says that Jesus went to the cross without opening his mouth, without teaching, reproving or correcting his listeners. The reason the Shi’a assert this is to assert that they wish to say that because the Look-Alike assumed Jesus identity in the Garden Of Gethsemane then Jesus’ teaching came to an end at this point, so the Look-Alike renained silent.

In fact Jesus taught continuously while he was on the cross and while he was on his way to the cross (supposedly the time when the Look Alike had taken over His appearance and identity). Here are some examples of Jesus teaching after The Garden Of Gethsemene, during and after His trial, on His way to the cross and and while He was on the cross

Mark 14:47 – Teaches that the cross is predicted by the Holy Books

Mark 14:60 – Teaches High Priest that he is Messiah and Son Of God.

Matthew 27:46 – On the cross Jesus quotes from Psalm 22 teaching everyone that His death is predicted by the Holy Books

Luke 22:45 – Teaches that prayer prevents temptation

Luke 22:51 – Heals a man and prevents violence teaching violence is not the straight path

Luke 22:61 – Teaches Peter that cowardice is wrong.

Luke 22:68-70 – Teaches Jewish scholars that He is Son Of God

Luke 23:28-31 – Teaches that disaster will soon come to Jerusalem

Luke 23:33 – Teaches forgiveness

Luke 23:43 – Teaches about paradise

Jesus stayed silent only before his accusers. The reason that Jesus stayed silent before His accusers was to fulfill prediction of scripture. In Isaiah 53:7 it is written

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

So, Jesus stays silent to fulfill the prediction that he will be silent before his death in the face of the oppressors. He will behave like a lamb. As Yahyia said, Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29), who by His sacrifice, brings peace between God and man by the forgiveness of sins.

8. Fulfillment Of Prophecy

The Tawrat, Injeel and Zaboor all teach us that al-Masih will be crucified as a ransom for the sins of mankind.

This means it is impossible that anyone should replace Jesus on the cross, because it is the mission of Jesus Messiah to go to the cross. No-one else is qualified to take His place.

The earliest prophecy of Al-Masih being crucified is in Tawrat Genesis 3:15 and 21.

The most magnificent prophecy of Al-Masih being crucified is in Tawrat Genesis 22 where Hazrat Ibrihim offers his loved son for sacrifice, but the son is replaced by a ram.

Moses, Daoud and all prophets sacrificed. Why  is sacrifice so important ?

Yahyia said Al-Masih is The Lamb Of God

Jesus said His purpose was to give his life as a ransom for many, Matthew 20:28. See also Surah as-Saffat 37:107 where the Allah provides a Ram as a ransom for Abraham’s son.

Jesus says he is the fulfillment of prophecy of the sacrificial lamb. So He is the one sacrificed. There is no replacement for Him

See Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 for Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah must be crucified.

Of course, Jesus Himself taught that it was His mission to die on The Cross.Here is Matthew 16:21 as a representative scripture. Many more could be added.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Since The Word Of God says that The Messiah must be crucified it is not possible that a Look-Alike could be permitted by God to take the place of The Messiah on The Cross. By doing this God would invalidate the mission of The Messiah and falsify His own Holy Books.

Conclusion

The Ansar case for a Look Alike substituting for Jesus Messiah on The Cross is complete rubbish from beginning to end. Far from The Bible supporting such a theory, The Bible and Jesus Messiah directly contradict it. For this reason The Ansar and similar groups even resort to falsifying scripture by deliberate mistranslation and constructing a forged history of Jesus Messiah.

 

May God forgive them their blasphemies and lead them to repentance.

 

Does Jeremiah 46 Prophesy Imam Hussein And The Battle Of Karbala ?

No.

The notion that the death of the Shi’a Imam Hussein at Karbala is prophecied in Jeremiah 46 is entirely fanciful. Wishful thinking. Jeremiah 46 has nothing to do with the events of Karbala whatsoever.

My Shi’a friend recently asserted that Jeremiah 46, especially verses 6 and 10 pertain to Imam Hussein and Karbala because they describe a battle on the banks of the Euphrates river in which an army was slaughtered and where the Lord God made a sacrifice.

Carchemish, Not Karbala
The Battle that Jeremiah 46 records is quite simply not the Battle Of Karbala. In fact, Jeremiah 46 tells us exactly which battle it is describing: The Battle Of Carchemish, one of the most significant battles of the ancient Middle East. Jeremiah explicitly states which battle he is describing. Jeremiah 46:2 states:

This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish

Karbala is about 100km south-west of Baghdad, Iraq.
Carchemish is about 100km north-west of Aleppo, Syria.

The distance between Aleppo and Karbala is about 745km. They are in completely different countries.

The Battle Of Carchemish occurred in 605 BC. The Battle of Karbala occurred in 680 AD. About 1300 years later.

Wrong battle, wrong country, wrong millenium.
And that’s just the beginning of the Shi’a errors with this scripture.

Shi’a are eager to equate this scripture with the slaughter of Imam Hussein and his supporters at Karbala on the banks of the Euphrates River in 680 AD. Shi’a wish to appropriate these scriptures as prophecies of the death of Hussein so as to validate the Shi’a contention that the final and true religion of God is Shi’a Islam. These scriptures are used evangelistically by Shi’a to demonstrate to Christians that the Bible validates Shi’a Islam as the true religion of God and the primacy of the Shi’a Imams.

Yes, Imam Husein was killed on the banks of the Euphrates River. Yes, Jeremiah 46 is located in part on the Euphrates River. But Jeremiah 46 is not a prophecy about Imam Hussein in any way at all.

The Prophecy Is About Egypt, Not Hussein

By Shi’a interpretation, the slaughtered army is the household of Hussein and the sacrifice that God has prepared is Imam Hussein himself. But Jeremiah 46 is a prophecy about Egypt. Hussein, broadly speaking, should be said to come from Arabia, since he was born there, or Iraq since that was where the majority of his support was located.

However you care to define the country or nation of Hussein, there is no way that it can be said to be Egypt. The Shi’a interpretation is thus shown to be incoherent from the outset. Says Jeremiah 46:2 ‘Concerning Egypt…’ .

But since Shi’a like to affirm that Jeremiah 46 is about Hussein, they must then equate Egypt and its leader, Pharoah Necho, with Hussein and his household. This leads to insurmountable problems in resolving the text and shows that the Shi’a assertion that Jeremiah 46 refers to Hussein is nonsensical, as we will further demonstrate below.

God Is Opposed To The One Slaughtered

The first error of interpretation by the Shi’a is that they have failed to notice that God is opposed to the one that was slaughtered, whereas they assert that God favours and loves the one who was slaughtered i.e. Hussein.

Hussein is a Shi’a hero. Indeed, the most important date in the Shi’a calendar, Ashura, commemorates the Death of Hussein. For Shi’a, Hussein is in the line of infallible Imams, who are God’s rightly-guided caliphs, His very vice-regents on earth who provide infallible guidance to the community of believers.

But Jeremiah 46 says that God is opposed to the slaughtered army, that the slaughtered army are his foes and that this army is will be slaughtered because God is taking his vengeance upon them.

Thus, the Shi’a view that the slaughtered army (the Shi’a) and leader Hussein are the beloved of God is directly contradicted by the text. The army is slaughtered because God is opposed to this army, has judged it and will destroy it. Shi’a believe that Imam Hussein is loved by God. Why then does Jeremiah 46 say that Hussein is a foe (enemy) of God, on whom He will take vengeance ? For Shi’a this is impossible. Therefore Jeremiah 46 cannot be a prophecy of Hussein.

The hostility of God toward the slaughtered army is evident from the very beginning of the prophesy. In verse 2 The Lord God says He is against them:

This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River (Jer. 46:2)

Language throughout the entire chapter shows that the Lord is opposed to the slaughtered army and leader. Verse 21 and verse 25 says the Lord will punish them and verse 24 says they will be put to shame. Shi’a say the Karbala was a day of honour for Hussein and his people and a day in which the religion of God was preserved. None of this is compatible with the wrath that God pours out on His foes in the slaughtered army.

Details Of The ‘Karbala’ Battle Completely Incorrect

Shi’a insist that Jeremiah 46 is a record of the battle Of Karbala. But the details of Jeremiah 46 are in complete opposition to the Shi’a account of Karbala. For example, Jeremiah 46 says that the conquering army attacked the Egyptian army from the north. But Hussein was attacked from the west. So, the Shi’a interperetation has incorrect geography.

Next, the Egyptian Army (supposedly representing Hussein’s household) is said to contain mercenaries from Ethiopia (Cush), Libya (Put) and Western turkey (Lydia) (See verse 9) Hussein’s army contained no such mercenaries. Furthermore, these mercenaries were disloyal to Necho and attempted to desert the army, insulting Neco as they left calling him a loudmouth and a windbag (verse 16). Of course, Shi’a believe that Hussein’s army was completely devoted to Hussein and would never insult him nor desert him. Once again we find the Shi’a equation of Jeremiah 46 with The Battle Of Kerbala to be completely superficial and totally lacking in any consistency or credibility.

Sacrifice, Martyrdom, Destruction

Shi’a liken the death of Hossein to a sacrifice, a martydom, in which Hossein lay down his life in order to protect the true religion of Allah, Shi’a Islam. While Jeremiah 46:10 does indeed use the word sacrifice to describe God’s actions at Carchimesh in destroying the army of Pharoah Neco and Egypt, God does not consider Neco to be a martyr for good.

The sacrifice of Neco is a sacrifice of destruction, not of martyrdom in which the the slaughter of nations and people hostile to God is offered by God Himself. Vultures devour the flesh of the victims who are God’s enemies and so God’s righteousness and protection of his people, Israel is demonstrated, thus showing that God is faithful to his covenant with Israel. See  Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 39:17 (twice in verse); Ezekiel 39:19 and Zephaniah 1:7,8.

The concept of God offering a sacrifice to satisfy his own justice is seen in the self-sacrifice of Jesus and will be a feature of the time of the end in which God, by His Messiah, will destroy the enemies of God in the last days before God establishes his Kingdom in the land of Israel and restoring Israel to peaceful and prosperous existence in the land that God promised them long ago.

Carchemish, Not Karbala
The Battle that Jeremiah 46 records is quite simply not the Battle Of Karbala. In fact, Jeremiah 46 tells us exactly which battle it is describing: The Battle Of Carchemish, one of the most significant battles of the ancient Middle East.

This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish

Karbala is about 100km south-west of Baghdad, Iraq.
Carchemish is about 100km north-west of Aleppo, Syria.

The distance between Aleppo and Karbala is about 745km. They are in completely different countries.

The Battle Of Carchemish occurred in 605 BC. The Battle of Karbala occurred in 680 AD. About 1300 years later.

Wrong battle, wrong country, wrong millenium.
And that’s just the beginning of the Shi’a errors with this scripture.

The Fundamental Error that Shi’a have made with Jeremiah 46 is, to use the words of Gordon Fee, that they have tried to make it say what they want it to say, instead of trying to hear what God intends it to say.

As such, Shia have ignored all the fundamental disciplines of correctly interpreting the Biblical text. They have ignored historical context, also ignored the intention of the scripture under consideration and also ignored the very words in the containing text (overall chapter).

The events at Karbala were tragic and heart-rending but this does not excuse such opportunistic and negligent handling of God’s Holy Books.

Who Is The Favoured Nation Of God?

The intention of Shia in asserting that the Bible prophecies the coming of Hussein and the Imams is to attempt to provide Biblical validity to their contention that the Shia Islam is the true religion of God and that through the lineage of the Imams that true guidance and salvation is found. If I may put it this way, Shia wish to assert that Shia Muslims are the favoured nation of God and that this view is proven by discovering prophecies of Hussein in The Bible.

This is not the view of the Bible.

The Bible asserts that God’s favoured nation is Israel and that His Messiah is Jesus and that ultimately, favoured status and salvation with God comes through correct relationship with the Messiah Jesus, who is a son of Israel.

So it is that we see in Jeremiah 46 that God provides words of comfort and consolation, not to the slaughtered army, Egypt, or to the conquering army, Babylon, but to Israel. See here the conclusion of Jeremiah 46 where we see that Israel is the true focus of God’s affection:

Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,
for I am with you,” declares the Lord.
“Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.” (Jer. 46:28)

Why Is God Taking Vengeance On Egypt ?

In Jeremiah 46:10, God tells Egypt that He is taking vengeance on them because they are his foes (enemies). The reason that Egypt is God’s enemy is that Egypt have oppressed his people, Israel.

A large part of the Book Of Jeremiah describes Jeremiah prophesying about the great powers of the time, Babylon and Egypt, and Israel’s part in this drama. Israel’s part in all this is that she will be at various times attacked and occupied by both Babylon and Egypt. Jeremiah gives the consistent message that God will not forget Israel during all this trouble which has come upon her because of her disobedience. Israel will be punished by these nations, but not forgotten. The great powers who ravage her will be destroyed by God and Israel will resume her place in the Promised Land.

In Jeremiah 30:16-17 God says

“‘But all who devour you will be devoured;
    all your enemies will go into exile.
Those who plunder you will be plundered;
    all who make spoil of you I will despoil.
 But I will restore you to health
    and heal your wounds,’
declares the Lord,

Jeremiah 46 brings more detail to the prophecy of Jeremiah 30. The time is closer, so more detail is given. Babylon will defeat Egypt at Carchemish and later invade Egypt itself and break her power, causing great destruction to Egypt in the process. Some cities like Memphis will become wastelands and uninhabited (Jer. 46:19). These events have occurred and are recorded by history

The Battle Of Carchemish and subsequent events are prophesied in Jeremiah 46. These events are God’s vengeance on Egypt for devouring and plundering Israel, His chosen people, and also a judgment against the idolatry of Egypt in which

I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings (Jer. 46:25)

So God’s vengeance in 46:10 is upon Egypt for attacking His chosen people and for sins of idolatry. It is thus inconceivable that verse 10 should be some form of congratulations for Hussein. Unless Shia believe Hussein was an idolater who attacked and plundered God’s people and so became an enemy of God.

Note that God’s message of comfort to Israel in Jer. 46:27-28 is a restatement of the same message he gave in Jer. 30:10-11. This explicitly links the two chapters, allowing them to provide a direct commentary on each other.

Appendix: Example Of Mishandling Prophetic Scripture

As we have demonstrated above, Shi’a have catastrophically mishandled the prophecy of Jeremiah 46. In fact the way that Shia have misused this passage provides a case-study in bad scholarship.

Gordon Fee gives a good example of how prophecy is often mishandled in his book How To Understand The Bible For All Its Worth. His example is the misapplication of Isaiah 49:23 ‘kings who “will bow down before you with their
faces to the ground”’ to refer to the the three Magi who visited the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:1–11) .

Here is Fee’s example in full

Too great a zeal for identifying [far-future] events in Old
Testament prophetic oracles can yield strange results. The reference
in Isaiah 49:23 to kings who “will bow down before you with their
faces to the ground” has sounded just enough like the three Magi
who visited the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:1–11) to encourage many to
assume that Isaiah’s words are messianic. Such an interpretation
embarrassingly ignores the context (both kings and queens are mentioned;
the issue of the passage is the restoration of Israel after its
Babylonian exile), the intent (the language of the oracle intends to
show how great Israel’s respect will be when God restores it), the
style (the poetry symbolizes the respect of the nations via images of
their rulers as foster parents to Israel, and licking the dust at the feet
of the nation), and the wording (Magi are wise men/astrologers, not
kings). We must be careful that we do not make prophetic oracles,
or any part of Scripture, say what we would like it to say. We must
hear what God intends it to say.