Christians and Muslims exhibit theological differences regarding their perception of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Gods manifests in the holy trinity which includes God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit (Homes-Sulton 8). The Islamic doctrine underscores the oneness of Allah. The essence monotheism is manifested in Chapter 112 of the Quran, and it acknowledges God as one merciful and compassionate supernatural being. James White vs. Jalal Abualrub is a theological debate which explores the Christian-Islamic perception of Jesus. White presents the argument that Jesus Christ is God who reveals himself to humanity as both a divine deity and the son of man. On the other hand, Jalal rejects the Christian doctrine of Trinity by arguing for monotheism (oneness of God).
White reveals that God enters the Christian flesh as Jesus of Nazareth. He believes that divine revelation is a reality and that several references have been made to Jesus. They include the Lamb of God, Son of God, and the Word of God. In this regard, Christians worship God through his Son, in whom the treasures of wisdom are hidden (Swinburne 23). This argument is sound given that the Bible underscores the divine nature of God. In the Book of Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus calls upon people who are weary and burdened to come to him so that they can have rest. He further says that he is gentle and humble in heart. Thus, whoever follows him will have rest and light burden. In this regard, Jesus reveals himself as God to humanity, thereby justifying Whites assertion of the Trinitarian nature of God.
In other instances, Jesus tells people that whoever has seen him has seen the Father. This statement implies that Jesus and God are one. White does not deny that despite the divinity of Jesus Christ, he is also the Son of Man. In Mark 14: 62, Jesus said the following in reference to himself, And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven. This statement reveals Jesus as the Son of Man who, in his human form, came to show compassion and mercy to humanity. In this regard, Jesus embodies some element of duality in which he exists as both man and God.
On his account, Jalals propositions are premised on monotheism. He presents concrete arguments which dispute Whites claim on Trinity. He argues that everything White quotes has been challenged by Christian scholars. In so doing, Jalal attempts to put White in a state of theological conflict with his fellow Christians. He cleverly attacks Whites assertions by using his (White) words against him. Jalal has made a few references to the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book. Instead, he has countered White mainly based on his own assertion. In so doing, Jalal has highlighted certain paradox and contrast that the Bible manifests. He attacks the Christian belief that Jesus is the Son of Man by arguing that if Jesus is God, then God cannot be the son of man. In this regard, God cannot be a man. In reference to Luke19: 10 which states that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost, Jalal argues that Jesus came to seek the lost sheep of Israel and not Europeans as White would want the audience to believe.
Jalals second attack on the Christian doctrine of God is evident in John 1:1 in which he argues that this scripture should have been Genesis 1:1 to enable Adam to recognize the existence of God from the onset. Despite this attack, White fails to provide a satisfying counterargument to reject Jalals notion on the misplacement of the scripture. In furtherance of his pro-monotheism attitude, Jalal accuses the biblical John of using the same word to refer to both God and the devil. He gives evidence in 2 Corinthians 4:4 in which a similar reference has been used for two deities. The devil in Jalals argument has been referred to as god while God (notice capital G) has been used to refer to the Judeo-Christian deity. I am won over by this argument because, in the Christian doctrine, any other deity other than the Christian God is a devil. Therefore, the use of g to separate other gods from the Christian God is not satisfactory. It appears that the Christian teaching accords other gods much prominence by accepting them to be called in the same way as their supreme God. Again, White has not made any attempt to repudiate this contradiction.
White gives several accounts in which Jesus manifests as God. The book of Revelation 22 reveals Jesus as the alpha and omega. It describes Jesus Christ as the ultimate authority. One would wonder if this reference is a contradiction of the very Bible that underscores the sole authority of God. White convinces the audience to believe that by this reference, Jesus is among the three divine deities that make up God. According to White, God manifests in these three forms. Other verses that exhibit striking clarity about the doctrine of Trinity include John 13:19 and Isaiah 43: 10 which identify Jesus as part of God. This argument holds weight considering that Jesus Christ came to the world in a unique way. He came neither as man nor as God. Instead, he came as a unification of both man and God to carry out Gods purpose of the deliverance of humanity.
In his argument, Jalal accuses Christians of making deductions about the existence of Jesus as God. He believes that the Bible was written by people decades after the death of Jesus. Thus, the writers of the Bible never saw Jesus. Jalal believes that Christians are divided about their own interpretation of the Bible. He says that Jesus never revealed himself as God through the many parables he used in his teachings. That Jesus did not tell people to worship him. Jalal identifies a scripture in Luke 4:12, which prohibit people from putting the Lord to test. He argues that if this verse held substance, then Jesus (God) would not have allowed the devil to test him. Jalal believes that if Jesus were God, the devil could not have told its creator to worship him. Instead, Jesus (God) would use his powers to send the devil away from him.
Jalal also uses Psalm 110 as a punchline for attack to what he perceives as the controversial Christian doctrine. In this verse, The Lord said to Jesus, sit at my right hand The debater wonders if the Lord was talking to himself. In this context, the role of the Holy Spirit is silent, thereby raising questions about the relevance of the Trinitarian doctrine. Throughout the debate, Jalal is convinced that Jesus is not God. He wonders why God should be talking to himself anyway. He perceives Jesus as a mere messenger sent by Allah (Koran 2:87).
As expected, both debaters take defensive positions while arguing in favor of their beliefs. This debate has brought forward some of the interesting controversies that should inform further debate. From an Islamic perceptive, the Christian doctrine of Trinity does not apply because there are several instances of conflict. For instance, 1 John 4:12 states that no one has seen God; those who saw Jesus did not see God. Clearly, it is difficult for a Muslim to believe that Jesus is God upon reading this verse. This verse ought to be explained in details for eliminating potential areas of conflict (Swinburne 25).
It is difficult to distinguish who is right from who is wrong in the debate. From a Christian perspective, Jalals propositions are deemed controversial. The Quran perceives Jesus as a messenger that Allah exalted above all others (2:253). The implication of this statement is that Allah gave Jesus some higher authority that no one else was given. It is against the backdrop of this divine authority that Jesus was powerful and godly (Holmes-Sulton 11). Although Jalal has made strong arguments in favor of monotheism, he fails to justify some of his assertions by quoting conflicting Christian scholars; thereby rendering some of his arguments fallacious. It is in this regard that I believe James White won the debate.
Holmes-Sulton, Shirley. Is Jesus God? Trafford Publishing, 2014.
New International Version. Biblica, 2011. BibleGetaway.com.
Swinburne, Richard. Was Jesus God? OUP Oxford, 2010.
The Quran. Translated by Tarif Khalidi. New York: Viking, 2008. Print
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