No religion in the world outside Christianity makes it an article of faith for its adherents to believe in, love and hounour Jesus except Islam. Reading the Qur’an bears testimony to the (see for example 19: 16-36, 3: 33068, 5: 72-77).
According to the Qur’an, Jesus was one of the greatest messengers of God. According to most Christians. Jesus was God-incarnate, full man and full God. But can the finite and the infinite be one? To be full God means freedom from finite forms and from helplessness. And to be full man means the absence of divinity. If what is meant by the unity or Jesus with God is allegorical unity of spiritual communion, there would have been no problem as this applies to other Prophets as well.
It is the insistence that this unity was “real” which raised serious questions, which could not be answered for nearly 2000 years, nor is there any prospect of resolving them in the future. Modern research was able to uncover the mythical roots of deifying Jesus (see for example John Hick’s The Myth of God-Incarnate, J.M. Robertson’s Pagan Christs, and Christianity and Mythology, T.W. Doane’s The Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religions). It may be helpful, however, to briefly examine the main arguments for the claimed divinity of Jesus.
Numerous references are cited, largely from John and Paul, to support this claim. If the same standards were applied to other reliable witnesses that others were also God-incarnates, would they be accepted as divine? Is it not fair to ask first “whether Jesus (or others for the matter) claimed to be divine?”
There is no single scriptural text in which Jesus claimed explicitly to be divine. Nor is there any implicit text, which can be interpreted exclusively to mean a claim of divinity.
On the contrary, there are numerous clear and direct texts in which Jesus denies equality with God or possessing any of God’s divine attributes (see for example John 8: 28-29, 14: 10, 24. 28. 31. Mk. 13: 32, 10: 18). In a serious matter like belief in God, an implicit evidence or an allegorical statement is far from adequate. Nor is it reasonable to claim that Jesus kept that serious matter as a guarded secret and hence caused confusion to multitudes for centuries.
No miracle attributed to Jesus signifies that he was God-Incarnate. There is no major miracle attributed to Jesus, which does not have some parallel in the Bible. Including resurrection (see for example Heb, 7: 3, I kings 17: 22, 20: 35-36, II Kings 4: 7, 34, 44, 6: 17, 20, 13: 22, Ezk 37: 1-14). How revealing is Jesus’ statement, “I can do nothing on my own authority” (John 5: 30).
There is no difference between Muslims and Christians on the imperfection of human nature, the necessity for atonement, the pursuit of salvation and the primacy of God’s grace and forgiving qualities. The difference, however, relates to the way of seeking forgiveness and strength to “overcome sin”. The Qur’an teaches that God is both just and Merciful. But since He created humankind and knows its weaknesses, He does not require bloodshed to forgive. One who sincerely repents and inculcated a relationship of love for god, and obedience and submission to Him. Can be assured of God’s loving forgiveness.
To claim that salvation can be secured only through the blood of Jesus, as the “lamb of God and the perfect sacrifice” is untenable on many grounds. Let us examine one issue. Who died on the cross (according to the Biblical story)? If it was Jesus the man, then it is not the perfect sacrifice. No man, however perfect, can atone for the sins of all mankind or meet the requirements of perfect sacrifice. And if the one who died on the cross was God. Then was god dead for “three days”? It is consistent with the Old Testament to utter this? And if the Giver of Life Himself is dead, who else can bring Him back to life? Who looked after the universe before His resurrection? If the All Merciful and Loving God wanted to forgive, what prevents Him from doing so in a direct, simple and straightforward manner? Why must the “requirement of justice” be satisfied by grave injustice, the suffering and agony of the innocent Jesus? Would this gross injustice, if it were true? Be consistent with the quality of divine love? How appropriate is it for a Judge, who instead of sentencing a criminal or forgiving him, which is within his authority, to order the execution of his “only” son so that the criminal will go free and appreciate how much the Judge loves him? Where did the notion of the suffering and dying God come from? How does that related to the almost identical myths preceding the introduction of this doctrine to the simple yet profound absolute monotheistic teachings of Jesus?
Reference is frequently made to the witness of the disciples. Paul, the Church or others as an experiential proof of the divinity of Jesus. But isn’t that experience shaped in the first place by the acceptance of the dogma that Jesus is divine? Isn’t that like saying that you have to accept the post-Jesus, man-made dogma that he is divine, so that you can experience this “truth”, which in turn will be your proof that he is divine? I wonder if there is a problem of “circular logic” in this type of “proof”? What can we say to multitudes of humans who report similar experiences while believing in diverse deities? Should they be told that their experiences, sincere as they may be, are not necessarily proofs of ultimate Truth; that they could be misleading experiences determined by presuppositions?
As to the testimony of Paul, we find that the Book of Acts indicates that Paul was accused of not telling the truth about the teachings of Jesus, an accusation which he did not deny but tried to justify (see Romans 3:7-8).
The witness of the Church throughout history is not a viable argument either. Squabbles, reversal of decisions claimed to be with the help of the holy spirit, decisions like the Crusades, inquisition or the execution of free thinkers and scientists are by no means an experiential proof of the divinity of Jesus, nor were they testimonies of the forgiving love of God or His dwelling in or through those who claimed to be “Christian” and staunchly believed that Jesus was God-incarnate.
Surely, there are things which our limited minds can’t fully understand or imagine (e.g. that God has no beginning or end).
But this is different from requiring a human, blessed with God-given reason, to accept an obvious contradiction which could not be adequately explained after 2000 years and millions of volumes.
It is amazing how most Christians, after nearly 1400 years of the revelation of God’s “final testament”; the Qur’an are still unaware of it, let alone being aware of what it says about the nature of Jesus and his message, the absolute oneness of God and the subordination of all creatures to Him alone.
It won’t hurt to find out; to use both heart and mind in the pursuit of the light of truth. For many, that process of search may end up with the discovery that his/her private convictions about Jesus as a great Messenger of God and his servant and Prophet are neither satanical nor heretical. One may find out that he/she is more true to God and to His Messenger, Jesus, by avoiding erroneous man-made dogmas.
These dogmas are offensive to God and to Jesus, associating other with God in His exclusive divine attributes. Indeed, associationism (shirk) is the cardinal sin that can never be forgiven should one depart this earthly life insisting on it. To conclude, one passage from God’s word, the Qur’an, seems fitting: “There has come to you from God a (new) light and a clear book. Wherewith God guides all who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leads them out of darkness, by His Will, unto light, and guides them to Path that is Straight” (5:17-18).