The Divinity Factory of Christian Apologists – Part 1

The Divinity Factory of Christian Apologists – Part 1

Jesus (peace be upon him) works on Saturdays – he must be god!?

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction and Background

 

Sam Shamoun and David Wood were on a talk show trying to refute the arguments of Dr. Zakir Naik against the divinity of Christ (peace be upon him).

Although both David and Shamoun claim that Muslim apologists work the verses of the Bible out of context yet we would soon realize that much embarrassingly, it was the custodians of the Bible – David and Shamoun, who utterly misused the biblical verses by wrenching them out of context!

This paper is not a defense to Dr. Zakir’s arguments, however, through this paper we would show that (i) Shamoun’s defense of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) divinity is too flimsy (ii) out of context and distorted (iii) on the contrary, the same biblical verses which Shamoun used, further prove Christ’s (peace be upon him) non divinity!

 

Shamoun’s weird Trinitarian qualifications

 

Before attempting to rebut Dr. Naik on John 5:30, Shamoun first started with the “qualifications” of doctrine of Trinity. According to his “qualifications”, Jesus (peace be upon him) never works independently from Father (or the Holy ‘Ghost’) but he works in perfect union with them:

 

We do not believe that the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit work or act independently from one another. According to the Scriptures they work in perfect union with one another. With that qualification let us see whether Jesus was denying his deity or affirm two things. Let us see from the context whether Jesus was denying his deity or affirming two things: (1.) that he does not act independently from the father which is what the doctrine of Trinity teaches and (2.) Because he is God, he can do whatever the Father does which is a claim that no creature can make. Let us see what the context demonstrates.” (Shamoun, Time 08:22 – 09:03)

 

As we would soon observe that it was very important for Shamoun that he starts his “explanations” with such “qualifications” because without any such qualification his “explanation” would be too weak!

However, in the very first place, let us state that we do not accept any such “qualifications” provided by Shamoun because:

Firstly, we have subject biblical passages with us and therefore we do not see any real need for a well pre-planned “qualification”. It would be utterly disrespectful and disparaging towards the completeness and usefulness of the allegedly “divinely inspired” verses if it needed any man made support packaged as “qualification”.

Secondly, on the foregoing, remember that the so called doctrine of Trinity is interpretation of certain sect of Christianity – the Trinitarians, and as such there are numerous other Christian sects (some labeled as heretics and annihilated) who read the same passage(s) and yet do not come to any such conclusion of “doctrine of Trinity”. Therefore, we would rather choose to let the text speak for itself rather than interpreting it through the so called “doctrine of Trinity”. We do not care what the “doctrine of Trinity” teaches when text is available.

 

Exposing the deception in the Qualification

 

In order to qualify the well devised “qualification”, Shamoun had no qualms in distorting the obvious meaning of the text he read. Let us quote Shamoun to expose the matter:

 

“Here is what he [Dr. Zakir Naik] quoted. John Chapter 5, Verse 30. “By myself I can do nothing. I judge only as I hear and my judgment is just for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me. Now for some reason Dr. Naik assumes that because Jesus affirms that he does not act independently from the Father; he doesn’t act separately from the Father – this somehow diminishes his deity. (Shamoun , Time 07:05 – 07:32)

 

From the passage it is clear that Jesus (peace be upon him) was trying to express his impotency towards him judging on his own authority. The fact is further supported by Jesus’ (peace be upon him) own words where he candidly admitted that he tries to “please”, appease Him who has sent him – God, by expressing his servitude towards His commands! Having said that, it does not even remotely sounds as if Jesus (peace be upon him) tried to say that he does not work separately from Father; for obvious embarrassing reasons Shamoun wants to read his interpretations into the text!?

Furthermore, Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement of appeasing God does not explain his working in “perfect union” with God. Think about it, when Jesus (peace be upon him) is working in “perfect union” with Father, then according to Trinitarian philosophy, he is acting as a god; now, why would a god try to appease or assuage another God (Father) while working under the explanation “perfect union”?

Even more so, why would a god, while working in “perfect union”, claim not my will or my pleasure but only of Father. Jesus (peace be upon him) was at least expected to say, not my will but our (Father + Son) will!

Plus, we are still searching for one verse in the whole Bible where Father has tried to “please” Jesus (peace be upon him) in the same way and capacity.

We need to ponder on this: If somebody claims that he is incapable of doing a certain thing on his own authority and will! Will this statement be interpreted as the subject person expressing his impotency OR should it be somehow interpreted that the person is working in “perfect union” with the other person?

If I were to say that I cannot take a particular decision on my own authority but rather I need to take the decision of my C.E.O; does it mean that I and my C.E.O work in “perfect union”, sharing the same status and authority or does it mean that neither do I have the authority nor do I enjoy the status to take such a decision on my own!  

However, it is not hard to reconcile statements of Jesus (peace be upon him) if we see him as he portrays himself – like a prophet of God. A prophet, being the first and best worshipper of God, would always try to appease Him and do His will rather than his own. He would have no shame in admitting that he on his own authority is just too impotent to do anything.

On the foregoing, Shamoun was correct when he claimed, “Jesus affirms that he does not act independently from the Father” because Jesus (peace be upon him) indeed works dependently on the Father.

With that said and understood, let us see the so called context which David and Shamoun complained that Muslim apologists hide. Let us see if at all the “context” of John 5:30 help Trinitarians to establish divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) or it further exposes them that they can even distort their own “scripture” in order to support idolatry.

  

The Context of John 5:30

 

Shamoun states that in the context we have a suffering paralytic whom Jesus (peace be upon him) cures on the Sabbath day stirring the anger of Jewish religious authorities. (Shamoun, Time 00:10 – 0020)

Right after setting the “context”, Shamoun puts forth his first “proof” from the divinity factory. He stated the following:

 

“My Father is always at His work to this very day and I too am working.” Notice the assertion. Jesus is saying that my Father doesn’t rest on the Sabbath. My Father is always working and he works especially on the Sabbath. After all, if the Father took the break on the Sabbath, then who would be sustaining the Universe, in fact, how would the world run if the Father rested on the Sabbath. So Jesus’ point is Father is always working, everyday, including the Sabbath. But right after that he says, “I too am working”. Did you see the assertion? Just like the Father, my Father, who works every day, I too like the Father work every day as well. Just like my Father works on the Sabbath, I too am working on the Sabbath…Verse 18, notice how the Jews understood him. For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was even calling God his own Father making himself equal with God. Now why would they conclude that Lord Jesus Christ was making himself equal with God. Well, very simple. Father alone has the right to work on the Sabbath. His creatures because they belong to Him must obey His command to rest on the Sabbath. So notice, only God and God alone has the right to work on the Sabbath. All creatures who fear God must seize from working. But what Jesus, my Father is working, I too am working, he is saying that he has just as much the right to work on Sabbath that the Father does. Did you catch it? Jesus is saying that I have the same divine right to work on this day as my Father does. And in making that assertion, the Jews realized that he is claiming to be equal with the Father and that he has the same authority that the does to work on the Sabbath (Shamoun Time: 01:20 – 03:26)

 

Fundamentally, Shamoun’s argument is, since Jesus (peace be upon him) worked (healed) on the Sabbath day when it was ordained not to work therefore, Jesus (peace be upon him) enjoys some divine authority to work on the Sabbath like the Father – since, according to Jesus (peace be upon him), Father alone was to work all days including Sabbath!

With that being the claim, let us check more closely whether Jesus’ (peace be upon him) working on the Sabbath assigns him any divine authority or is it mere playing fast and loose with the “scriptures”! Furthermore, we would exhort readers to keep a close eye how Shamoun (and David), the same people who were fussing about “context”, are caught not merely distorting the totality of the “scriptures” but also hiding a good part of it.

Multiple responses are in order:

 

The Qur’anic perspective

 

Before going in to the details and intricacies of Oral – Law, Halaka, Pharisaic Tradition, Torah and Sabbath – we would first see the authority of Jesus (peace be upon him) in the best preserved God’s word:

 

“And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe; “‘(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (Before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah, and obey me. (Qur’an 3: 49-50)

 

According to the Qur’an, Jesus (peace be upon him), by the leave of Allah (SWT), had the authority to make lawful what was unlawful for the Jews! Therefore, if Jesus (peace be upon him) has “worked” on the Sabbath owing to the authority given to him then, as such, there is nothing in it which would elevate him to Godhood! He was just exercising the elements of his Sharia’h (divine law).

However, we know that Qur’an is not authoritative to Christians therefore, let us turn to the Bible.

  

The biblical Premise: Jesus’ (pbuh) wisdom behind working on the Sabbath

 

In the first place, let us closely see the biblical ruling and elements of Sabbath. What is actually forbidden on the day and what is not? We read in the Bible:

 

“Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work – neither you…” (Exodus 20: 9-10)

 

Notice the stress on prohibition on doing personal, mundane work on Sabbath. God exhorts to rest on Sabbath day from personal work so that, that day can be spend in remembering God, rendering services to Him and to humanity.

Similar message is again repeated by biblical prophet Isaiah:

           

“The LORD says, “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honour it by not travelling, working, or talking idly on that day, then you will find the joy and comes from serving me. I will make you honoured all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob I, the Lord, have spoken.” (Isaiah 58: 13-14)

 

Notice once again that God is prohibiting pursuing daily, mundane desires on the Sabbath. He wants that day His creation should shun themselves from travelling, working or any other mundane activity for worldly purposes. However, at the same time, He places no bar doing good deeds on Sabbath day by showing mercy, charity etc towards the needy.

On the foregoing, the rulings on Sabbath never thwarted a Sabbath observer to refrain from good deeds on Sabbath day. All it required that on Sabbath, man should give himself a break from daily mundane activity and devote himself towards the service of God which, by every stretch of theology, includes helping others, doing charity etc.

In fact, Jesus (peace be upon him) emphatically asserted that second most important of all commandment was love, kindness and service to others:

 

“The second most important commandment is like it: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 39-40)

 

Notice, according to Jesus (peace be upon him) observing the minutes of Sabbath was not above loving and rendering service to humanity (neighbor). In anyway, observing Sabbath did not forbade followers to stop doing good deeds to others, as we saw above.

God also gave the following important teaching through the Psalmist:

 

“Instead, they find joy in obeying the Law of the LORD, and they study it day and night. They are like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time, and whose leaves do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do.” (Psalm 1:2-3)

 

Observe the importance of “bearing fruit”, in other words, manifesting positive deeds at the “right time”. For certainly it would make no sense if a speaker of good deeds falls short of materializing his words on the given demanding situation!

In all of the above cited verses, stress is put on refraining oneself from doing personal and daily works on Sabbath day. That particular day should be dedicated to worship of God including service towards mankind at the right time. On the foregoing, it is of paramount importance to notice that the condition of Sabbath nowhere puts any other restriction on its observer as far as doing good deeds is concerned.

With that said, let us take into account the argument of Jesus (peace be upon him) working on the Sabbath like the Father!

 

This man must be God; he “works” on Saturdays!!??

 

Both David Wood and Sam Shamoun were fretting that Muslim (apologists) does not pay care to the context of the biblical passages; therefore, let us check out the so called “context” of Sabbath!

Gospel of John is not the only place where Jesus’ (peace be upon him) Sabbath act is recorded. Rather, it is dispersed at various other Gospels. Therefore, to understand the statement of Jesus (peace be upon him) in the right perspective we will have to take all the narrations into account. Although, be rest assured that we would even consider the subject Johanine verses as well – inshallah.

Consider the following Matthian narration:

 

“Jesus left that place and went to a synagogue, where there was aman who had a paralysed hand. Some people were there who wanted to accuse Jesus of doing wrong, so they asked him, “Is it against our Law to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered, “What is one of you has a sheep and it falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath? Will he not take hold of it and lift it out? And a man is worth much more than a sheep! So then, our Law does allow us to help someone on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man with the paralysed hand, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it became well again, just like the other one. Then the Pharisees left and made plans to kill Jesus.” (Matthew 12: 9-14)

 

Jesus (peace be upon him) as a messenger appointed to the Children of Israel was the best man to have known about the elements of Sabbath. Although, carrying burden/load was considered to be forbidden during Sabbath, yet Jesus (peace be upon him) explained that just as the burden of sheep can be lifted on a Sabbath day in order to avoid hardship on the animal, even more so, a human should be healed on the Sabbath day – it was allowed according to the Sabbath Law!

Pay special attention that Jesus (peace be upon him) claims that “our” law allows to help someone on Sabbath – implying that not merely he but even Pharisees and other Israelites should help others on Sabbath day, let alone, refrain others from doing so or complaining about equality with God – Almighty for working on the day!

Once Jesus (peace be upon him) stated that Law of the Sabbath does allow him and others to “work” (helping others) on the Sabbath, Shamoun’s argument that Jesus (peace be upon him) worked on Sabbath as God works; can be closed here, however, we have more to say on it.

Jesus (peace be upon him) reiterated his message of prioritizing service to humanity in the Gospel of Mark:

 

“Then Jesus went back to the synagogue, where there was a man who had a paralysed hand. Some people were there who wanted to accuse Jesus of doing wrong; so they watched him closely to see whether he would heal the man on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man, “Come up here to the front,” Then he asked the people, “What does our Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To help or to harm? To save a man’s life or to destroy it?”…Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it became well again. So the Pharisees left the synagogue and met at once with some members of Herod’s party, and they made plans to kill Jesus.” (Mark 3:1-6)

 

In the rhetoric question filled with irony and sarcasm, Jesus (peace be upon him) asks whether Sabbath was ordained to further bring hardship and suffering on humanity or to bring joy and euphoria! Remember that Jesus (peace be upon him) was the best scholars of his time to have under stood the Laws of Sabbath – thus, under the explanation that God’s Law on Sabbath was revealed for happiness and prosperity, Jesus (peace be upon him) helped the paralytic man; this does not accrue anything to his divinity.

In fact those, including Trinitarians, who claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) was trying to equate himself with God – Almighty as god beside Him by working on the Sabbath, misunderstand him in the same way as the Pharisees misunderstood him by labeling him as a “sinner” (John 5:24) for working on Sabbath!

It seems like biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) was much interested in working especially on Sabbath in order to break the misunderstanding of the Jews, here is another biblical narration:

 

“One Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue. A woman there had an evil spirit that had made her ill for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called out to her, “Woman, you are free from your illness!” He placed his hands on her, and at once she straightened herself up and praised God. The official of the synagogue was angry that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, so he spoke and said to the people, “There are six days in which we should work; so come during those days and be healed, but not on the Sabbath!” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! And one of you would untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and take it out to give it water on the Sabbath. Now here is the descendent of Abraham whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen years; should she not be released on the Sabbath?” His answer made his enemies ashamed of themselves, while the people rejoiced over all the wonderful things that he did.” (Luke 13:10-17)

 

Notice the response which Jesus (peace be upon him), the best scholar of the time, gave to Jewish Priests. He literally chastised them as “hypocrites” for sticking to the words of the Law (on Sabbath) while rejecting the spirit and purpose for which Sabbath was regulated by God.

According to Jesus (peace be upon him) and his argument of “ox and ass”, Sabbath was not directed to increase burden on humanity, but on the contrary, it meant to bring men closer to God by further serving humanity since it was God who revealed that the second most important commandment was to love men around us; subsequently by helping men around us, we would follow God and in turn worship Him.

Jesus (peace be upon him) abused (so to say) the exacting Jews for merely observing the traditions of Sabbath while accepting an old women to die of her suffering!

Thus, according to Jesus’ (peace be upon him) exegesis, it was perfectly acceptable to heal on Sabbath if condition required so because the elements of Sabbath, if understood in its spirituality, did not demand its observer to make mankind suffer for its observance. Therefore, according to Jesus (peace be upon him) every man should yearn to do good in terms of helping others especially on Sabbath Day without any fear of them being deified for working on the day “with God”, like God!

Another very important observable facet is Jesus’ (peace be upon him) referring to the suffering lady as a “descendent of Abraham” (peace be upon him). By referring as “descendent of Abraham” (peace be upon him), Jesus (peace be upon him) wanted to stress on the supposed and envied Jewish lineage of Israelites and subsequently every minute observation of Sabbath was even more incumbent on the old lady to be followed. However, he still goes on to argue that Jewish lady – descendent of Abraham (peace be upon him) – should be first released off her suffering than observing tenets of Sabbath!

In fact, Rabbi Jesus (peace be upon him) emphatically asserted to the hypocrite and ignorant Jews that when confronted between humanity and Sabbath, one must prioritize service to humanity above observance of mere rulings of Sabbath:

 

And Jesus concluded, “The Sabbath was made for the good of man; man was not made for the Sabbath. So the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

 

On the foregoing, if Jesus (peace be upon him) was breaking anything then it was the strict interpretation of the Jews to harass general public by loading them with rulings and regulations too tough to bear.

Furthermore, Jesus (peace be upon him) rightly called the Jews as “hypocrites” since Bible is replete with incidents when their forefathers took all the leeway against the observance of Sabbath rulings when pushed to extreme situations:

 

“Not long afterwards Jesus was walking through some cornfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began to pick ears of corn and eat the grain. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Jesus, “Look, it is against our Law for your disciples to do this on the Sabbath!” Jesus answered, “Have you never read what David did that time when he and his men were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his men ate the bread offered to God, even though it was against the Law for them to eat it – only the priests were allowed to eat that bread. Or have you not read in the Law of Moses that every Sabbath the priests in the Temple actually break the Sabbath law, yet they are not guilty? I tell you that there is something here greater than the Temple. The scripture says, ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices. If you really knew what this means, you would not condemn people who are not guilty; for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12: 1-8)

 

The Jews of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) time continually erred with regards to the observance of the rulings of Sabbath at the cost of human life. Jesus (peace be upon him), on the other hand,  reiterated his message that God did not reveal observation of Sabbath rulings in order to make it excruciating, nevertheless, it was revealed to bring men closer to God, to make life easier. As Jesus (peace be upon him) asserted that God through Sabbath was looking for mercy not torturous sacrifices.

After all it does not make much sense that people should reach the limits of death owing to hunger, leprosy and yet strive to maintain certain plastic tenets of Sabbath! Jesus (peace be upon him) condemned the flagrant strict interpretation of Sabbath Laws and made it more flexible without compromising with the spirit of God’s revealed Laws.

Sabbath meant to give “rest” to people but it is far-fetched to assume that suffering people could be at “rest” – serving God, while suffering out of hunger and excruciating ailments!

Jesus (peace be upon him) was neither breaking any Sabbath nor deifying himself by working specially on Sabbath day; all he was doing was breaking the shackles of choking and burdensome laws interpreted and applied by Jewish tyrants:

 

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples. “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees are the authorized interpreters of Moses’ Law. So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don’t practice what they preach. They tie on to people’s backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren’t willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads.” (Matthew 23: 1-4)

 

Renowned Qur’an exegete Imam Ibn Katheer concurs with biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) that the Jews of his time lost the spirituality of Sabbath and merely followed its outwards rules:

 

“Jesus grew up to manhood. It was Sabbath, a day of complete rest: no fire could be lit or extinguished nor could females plait their hair. Moses (pbuh) had commanded that Saturday be dedicated to the worship of Allah. However, the wisdom behind the Sabbath and its spirit had gone, and only the letter remained in the Jews’ hearts. Also, they thought that Sabbath was kept in heaven, and that the People of Israel had been chosen by Allah only to observe the Sabbath. They made a hundred things unlawful on Saturday even self-defense or calling a doctor to save a patient who was in bad condition. This is how their life was branded by such hypocrisy. Although the Pharisees were guardians of the law, they were ready to sell it when their interests were involved so as to obtain personal gains. There was, for example, a rule which prohibited a journey of more than one thousand yards on the Sabbath day. What do we expect of the Pharisees in this case? The day before, they transferred their food and drink from their homes two thousand yards away and erected a temporary house so that from tthey could travel a further thousand yards on the Sabbath day. Jesus was on his way to the temple. Although it was the Sabbath, he reached out his hand to pick two pieces of fruit to feed a hungry child. This was considered to be a violation of the Sabbath law. He made a fire for the old women to keep themselves warm from the freezing air. Another violation. He went to the temple and looked around. There were twenty thousand Jewish priests registered there who earned their living from the temple. The rooms of the temple were full of them. (Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Darussalam, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

 

Did you notice why Jesus (peace be upon him) especially chose to work on Sabbath? To expose the hypocrisy of the Jews and to teach them elements of Sabbath in true spirit while abolishing strict and impractical man made tenets around it.

There is yet another perspective and explanation of Jesus (peace be upon him) healing on the Sabbath which would further exonerate himself from any claim of divinity of working with God on Sabbath Day.Jesus (peace be upon him) is attributed to relate an incident of circumcision and Sabbath falling on the same day!

“Jesus answered, I performed one miracle, and you were all surprised. Moses ordered you to circumcise your sons (although it was not Moses but your ancestors who started it), and so you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. If a boy is circumcised on the Sabbath so that Moses’ Law is not broken, why are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Stop judging by external standards, and judge by true standards.” (John 7:21-24)

 

Commenting on the above verse, leading NT scholar John Gill argues:

 

“…are ye angry at me; and pursue me with so much wrath and bitterness, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? or “a man that was whole, sound on the sabbath day”; who was wholly, or all over disordered, every limb of whom shook with the palsy: or as some think the sense is, he was made every whit whole, both in soul and body; and then the argument is, if it was, no breach of the sabbath to make a wound, and lay a plaster on it, as in circumcision; it would be no violation of it, nor ought any to be offended with it, that Christ should heal a diseased man, who was so in every part of his body, and restore health to his soul likewise and nothing is more common with the Jews than to say, the danger of life, and פיקוח נפש, “the preservation of the soul”, or life, drive away the sabbath (b).  (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, John 7:23)

 

According to the verse and its exposition, Jesus (peace be upon him) argued with Jews that (i) if circumcision, in other words, wound can be given on Sabbath day and yet the Law is not broken then it would, in no sense, be breach of Law if he cures an ailment on the same Sabbath day. And, (ii) if the wound of circumcision can be plastered and nursed on the same Sabbath day and yet there is no breach of any Law then it provides even stronger grounds to him to heal ailments on Sabbath day – especially when, the second most important of all Laws including Sabbath and Circumcision, was to love humanity!

On the foregoing, if Shamoun culls out divinity out of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) healing acts on Sabbath day then either (i) he is ignorant of the Bible in its totality or (ii) he is simply distorting his own “scriptures” to his chagrin.

 

Jesus (peace be upon him) worked with God on Sabbath

 

Before proceeding on to refute Shamoun’s distorted claims of polytheism, we need to restate that this section is basically a continuation of the above section, therefore, do keep the arguments of above section in mind.

We need to recall that in order to pluck out an argument in support of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) divinity, Shamoun claimed that nobody beside God has authority to work on Sabbath, Jesus (peace be upon him), however, worked on Sabbath, therefore, he must be god!:

 

Now why would they conclude that Lord Jesus Christ was making himself equal with God. Well, very simple. Father alone has the right to work on the Sabbath. His creatures because they belong to Him must obey His command to rest on the Sabbath. So notice, only God and God alone has the right to work on the Sabbath. All creatures who fear God must seize from working. But what Jesus, my Father is working, I too am working, he is saying that he has just as much the right to work on Sabbath that the Father does. Did you catch it? Jesus is saying that I have the same divine right to work on this day as my Father does.” (Shamoun, Time: 02:31- 03:15)

 

Much has already been said in the above section regarding this claim to divinity. We have seen how Jesus (peace be upon him) interpreted healing on Sabbath. He unequivocally asserted that helping others was allowed on Sabbath day which the exacting Torah-keepers had hitherto ignorantly denied. Thus, in a way of teaching Jews exegesis of Torah against their parochial interpretation, Jesus (peace be upon him) allowed helping others on Sabbath day; breaking the man-made understanding!

On the foregoing, when Jesus (peace be upon him) states that, “My Father is always working, and I too must work.” – he stated that like Father never stops helping the needy, not even on the Sabbath day – His providences continue to be showered even on the Sabbath day, similarly, he being the godly man should also not stop doing good to humanity on Sabbath day, especially when there is no such Sabbath law which restricts man from helping others!

On the foregoing, if we were to reconstruct Shamoun’s idolatrous statement, it would crop something like this:

 

Now why would they conclude that Jesus Christ was making himself equal with God. Well, very simple. The Father alone has the right to work on the Sabbath. His creatures because they belong to Him must obey His command to rest from all worldly mundane works on the Sabbath (not from helping the needy). So notice, only God and God alone has the right to work on the Sabbath. All creatures who fear God must seize from working towards their personal, daily works. But what Jesus says, my Father is working, I too am working, he is saying that he should just as much do good on Sabbath as his Father does. Did you catch it? Jesus is saying that I have the same responsibility of doing good on Sabbath day as any other believer should have based on the fact that Father continuously does good even on Sabbath.  

 

Thus, Jesus’ (peace be upon him) working on the Sabbath was no claim towards divinity since following God’s example everybody was allowed, in fact, invited to do good on Sabbath day – to help the suffering needy. This does not deify anybody including Jesus (peace be upon him).

There can be yet another response to the Jewish accusation, which in turn would help expose Shamoun off his distortion! Observe the reason Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy because he called God his father – “My Father”.

According to their (Jewish) understanding, by healing on the Sabbath, Jesus (peace be upon him) had broken the Law of Moses (peace be upon him) and consequently he was a “sinner”. On the other hand, healing a chronic paralytic needed Father’s divine intervention as it was no mere medical treatment but a miracle to materialize!

When the Jewish “priests” could not reconcile how a “sinner” was receiving Father’s help; when they could not fathom how God was helping Jesus (peace be upon him) to “work” on Sabbath day, they concluded that Jesus (peace be upon him) must be blaspheming God by calling him “His” Father, in effect, his partner in crime – an accomplice, thereby he “had made himself equal with God”! He, for the Jews, brought God – the Father, at his level.

Jews and Shamoun did not understand the basic thing that Father is always working towards providence of mankind even on the Sabbath day. He is always willing and “working” to help Jesus (peace be upon him) perform miracles on earth including Sabbath days – therefore, Jesus (peace be upon him) claimed that he must also “work” and he does “work” even on Sabbath day!

After all, if Jesus (peace be upon him) does not “work” on Sabbath day then how will God’s miracles be materialized on earth through Jesus (peace be upon him) on Sabbath day! How would God denounce the man made rulings on Sabbath day? Unfortunately, this misunderstanding of Jews has become corner stone of idolatry for Trinitarians like Shamoun and David.

 

Jewish Reaction

 

Shamoun made a special appeal to the Jewish understanding and reaction to Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement that his Father is always working and he too must work on Sabbath! In fact, the Jewish reaction to Jesus’ (peace be upon him) has become one of the strongest argument for Trinitarian Shamoun:

 

“Now follow with that because we are going to see that the Jews understood the implications of that statement; verse 18. Notice how the Jews understood him” (Shamoun, Time 02:09-02-19)   

 

Through the above comments, Shamoun wanted to establish that Jews “rightly” understood the implication of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) authority towards working on the Sabbath! They understood that he wanted to claim divinity and equality with God – the Father, by working on the Sabbath as only God was to work on Sabbath and consequently wanted to kill him.

By appealing to the Jewish reaction, Shamoun has established that (1) he can stoop as low as to reject Jesus’ (peace be upon him) explanation of working on the Sabbath day at the cost of purchasing Jewish misunderstanding of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement – merely to wrench divinity out of the passages.

And, (2) he would give an unceremonious blind eye to a faithful biblical character who also “understood” Jesus’ (peace be upon him) working on the Sabbath and worded it; but differently from the parochial Jews.

Consider the following verse in which we have a blind man being cured on the Sabbath day by Jesus (peace be upon him):

           

“He [blind man] answered, “The man called Jesus made some mud, rubbed it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash my face. So I went, and as soon as I washed, I could see.” “Where is he?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he answered. Then they took to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. The day that Jesus made the mud and cured him of his blindness was a Sabbath. The Pharisees, then, asked the man again how he had received his sight. He told them, “He put some mud on my eyes; I washed my face, and now I can see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “The man who did this cannot be from God, for he does not obey the Sabbath law.” Other, however, said, “How could a man who is a sinner perform such miracles as these?” And there was a division among them. So the Pharisees asked the man once more, “You say he cured you of your blindness – well, what do you say about him?” “He is a prophet,” the man answered…A second time they called back the man who had been born blind, and said to him, “Promise before God that you will tell the truth! We know that this man who cured you is a sinner.” “I have already told you,” he answered, “and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Maybe you, too, would like to be his disciples?” They cursed him and said, “You are tht fellow’s disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for that fellow, however, we do not even know where he comes from!” The man answered, “What a strange thing that is! You do not know where he comes from, but he cured me of my blindness! We know that God does not listen to sinners; he does listen to people who respect him and do what he wants them to do. Since the beginning of the world nobody has ever heard of anyone giving sight to a person born blind. Unless this man came from God, he would not be able to do a thing.” (John 11:11-17, 24-33)

 

Observe that the above biblical passage is from the same John’s Gospel which Shamoun was twisting; the situation is exactly the same with the only difference that in John 5, Jesus (peace be upon him) was healing a paralytic and here, in John 11, he is healing a blind man, however, the glaring difference is in the reaction which the perverted Jews had and the reaction which the sincere blind man had. 

For the blind man, unlike the Jews, healing on the Sabbath – ‘working with God on the Sabbath when God alone works and expects His creation to rest’ – did not deify Jesus (peace be upon him).

On the contrary, this true spirited blind man used the same situation and context – working on the Sabbath with Father  – as a reason to testify that he was not a sinner or a Law breaker; neither the third god in three, nor “son of god” but a prophet!

What gets utterly embarrassing for Shamoun (and David) is the fact that they had more reason and consequent appeal to the perverted Jewish reaction than the testimony of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) own disciple – the so called “apostle” of Jesus (peace be upon him)!

They have no qualms and shame to brush aside the witness of a true disciple of Jesus (peace be upon him) just because it did not serve their cause of Shirk (associating partners with Allah (SWT)).

If they had no scruples on relying on false Jewish accusation of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) blasphemy of equality with God – would they, then, consistently rely on other Jewish accusation in the same line and passage when they claimed him to be a “sinner” because he broke the Sabbath Law by healing on the day?

 

 

Conclusion

 

Shamoun (and David) wanted to prove that Jesus (peace be upon him) is the third god in the godhead since he worked on the Sabbath day. Nevertheless, we saw that this reasoning of Shamoun was extremely flimsy because:

(I)  Jews had misconception about the rulings of working on Sabbath. Jesus (peace be upon him) disabused that helping others on Sabbath day was perfectly allowed in the Laws and thus, not merely he but every Law-keeper must help on Sabbath day. (Matthew 12:9-14).

 

(II) When Jesus (peace be upon him), the messenger to Israelites and the best Rabbi of the time, spoke that helping on Sabbath was allowed there remained no fuss after it. Nevertheless, Old Testament further corroborated Jesus (peace be upon him), in that, God only forbade working towards personal, mundane and worldly objectives on Sabbath day; He did not stop helping others on Sabbath day. Refer Exodus 20: 9-10 and Isaiah 58: 13-14.

 

(III) By working especially on the Sabbath, Jesus (peace be upon him) did two things (i) he abolished hitherto false Jewish practice of adding burden on common Jews in the name of observing Laws (Matthew 23:1-4) and (ii) he established that observing Laws help and facilitate life and not destroy it (Mark 2:27-28) since Jesus’ (peace be upon him) God demanded mercy even on Sabbath day and not excruciating observance of tenets (Matthew 12:18).

 

(IV) Jesus (peace be upon him) went overboard by giving multiple analogies in order to explain that there is nothing “blasphemous” in working on Sabbath with God. He taught them that if a wound in the name of circumcision could be given on Sabbath day and yet it is not broken and if further dressing the wounds and nursing it does not break Laws of Sabbath; then, on the same lines, there is no possibility that his healing on Sabbath day should breach any of its Laws! Refer John 7:21-24.

 

(V)  Jesus (peace be upon him) further explained that just as donkeys and ox has to be helped on Sabbath day then it becomes even more incumbent that humans should also be helped. This would account to no breach of any Law or add to blasphemy. Refer Luke 13:10-17.

 

(VI) The crux of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) working on Sabbath with God was that Sabbath was made for man and if man needed to be helped on Sabbath then he should be helped; there would be no breach of Sabbath law, let alone, any sin of equating one’s self to God! (Mark 2:27-28).

 

(VII) Even though the Jews paid no heed to all of the above explanations for working on Sabbath day and went on to charge Jesus (peace be upon him) for deifying himself; his disciple on the other hand, understood his message to proclaim, unlike Jews, that Jesus (peace be upon him) was, not a god, but a prophet for working on the Sabbath day. (John 11: 11-17, 24-33).

 

In the light of the foregoing, there was no base for the Jewish imputation on Jesus (peace be upon him) trying to deify himself. And, because Trinitarians like Shamoun (and David) depend on Jews for their Christology, therefore, it also has no base.

We appeal to all Christians including Shamoun and David that it is not necessary to distort the “scripture”, mould it somehow to look like Trinitarian – “Christology”, just to worship Jesus (peace be upon him), something which does not naturally comes to one’s understanding.

Die hard Trinitarians could still see the subject verses proving deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) to them. It may happen. However, we have tried to show that there is another perspective as well which is stronger and in which there is no lingering fear of committing idolatry!

With that said, we humbly request Christians to reconsider their monotheism. We were born to worship one God; Jesus (peace be upon him) came as a teacher to teach it; restrain from worshipping the teacher rather pay heed to his message.

As can be observed, in this installment we concentrated on Sabbath related issues in Trinitarian Christology of Shamoun’s video. In the future installments of the series we would take into account other arguments of Shamoun – bi’idhnilllah.

Kindly help your self to the final part of this series.

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic text taken from Yusuf Ali’s Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

 

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Comments

  • Khadijah Elisabeth  On May 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    assalamo 3alaykom wr wr,

    this is brilliant – “If they had no scruples on relying on false Jewish accusation of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) blasphemy of equality with God – would they, then, consistently rely on other Jewish accusation in the same line and passage when they claimed him to be a “sinner” because he broke the Sabbath Law by healing on the day?”

    my father (a devout christian) sent me 17 pages of new testament passages “proving” that jesus was god. one of the recurring themes is passages where the jews accuse him of blasphemy by doing something that supposedly makes him equal with god. yet if we dont accept the other mistaken accusations of the jews, that jesus was a sinner, or demon-possessed, and so on, why should we assume that their mistaken accusation that he is claiming to be god, is correct?

    fantastic article as usual brother,
    im looking forward to more insha’Allah

    • qmarkmark  On May 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      Walekumassalam wr wb.

      Thanks for your notes, sister.

      Could you kindly provide us the arguments, or at least the best of the lot, which your father sent to you in support of Jesus’ (pbuh) divinity. Just point out the verses – that should be enough – Jazakallah, in advance.

      Actually, Satan has made their acts so grandeur that they can go even against simple sound logics in order to worship Ibn Mary (pbuh).

      By the way, I had a query, why do I see a numeral “3” in your “salam”. Not just with you, I see it with a number of people. This has often made me wonder.

      Once again, thanks for writing, sister.

      • Khadijah Elisabeth  On May 3, 2012 at 11:47 pm

        Wa3alaykom salam! Well first, the 3 represents the Arabic letter ‘ayn. Arabic letters with no English/French equivalents are given numbers when typing online – 2 for hamza (and qaf in Egyptian dialect), 3 for ‘ayn, 5 for kha, 7 for Ha, and so on 🙂

        At the moment, I don’t have the time to type allll the references here, but if you have an e-mail address I could send the documents to, you’ll find it is more helpful, as he added a few small notes of his own, and organized them into 4 categories 😛

      • qmarkmark  On May 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        Salamoalaikum sister,

        Thanks for the notes.

        Please send me on: donotsaytrinity@yahoo.in

        That would be helpful – May Allah (SWT) reward you for the favor.

      • Khadijah Elisabeth  On May 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm

        Wa3alaykom salam,

        I have sent the documents, from address queb************@gmail.com

        Enjoy

  • Jesus  On May 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    A gem of an article , well analysed .Publish more like this

    Coming to Sam Shamoun and David Wood they are champions of twisting and turning both the Bible and the Quran .

    In their articles on Islam one hardly finds them quoting Muslim Scholars and most of the times taking their own take and badly arguing without knowing the basics of Arabic.

    Likewise for the articles on Christianity , if ever they quote any scholar on Christian issues we will see them quoting the most conservative scholars neglecting the majority.

    Most of the time we will see them putting forward arguments against prophet Mohammed and trying to show Islam is not a religion of peace.

    David wood have been convincingly answered(defeated) in his debate on is Mohammed the prophet of God which he had with Sami Zaatari,all his arguments which he usually put forward were dealt by Sami but still he puts forwards the same.

    His buddy Nabeel looked like a kindergarten student in front of Bassam on their debate on is the Quran preserved.

    You will find these people always repeating the same arguments despite getting convincingly answered.

    They will never talk about or debate these topics ‘is trinity logical’ , ‘ is hypostatic union logical’ and ‘ is the bible preserved’ because it will be like debating is the Earth round.They could not protect their faith ,so what to do attack Islam.

    • qmarkmark  On May 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      Salamoalaikum brother Jesus.

      They, especially David Wood, are very dexterous at their job. One have to be very keen to get their modus operandi. While discussing issues with them one has to check out the subtlety with which they pose an argument against Islam (or for Christianity). From a perspective, I have a lot of respect also for them; they keep me going, wallah – bi’idhnillah.

      O Sami destroyed David on that debate :)). I loved the way Sami presented himself (except the oft repeated act in which he was pulling his sleeves up over and over again – LOL).

      We know Zawadi, and his sincerity towards scholarship. Hats off to him. As far as N.Qureishi is concerned, these are Islamc “Scholars” – what more to say about him. They remain as far from Qur’an as they could when being a Qadiyani and as soon as they become Trinitarian, they know all about Ibn Masood and Ibn Ka’b and Ibn Thabit – LOL.

      Inshallah, we have more lined up. We NEED your prayers desparately. PLEASE pray for us…PLEASE.

  • Oliver Elphick  On August 5, 2012 at 9:28 am

    A large amount of text attacking a straw man!

    Shamoun, if quoted correctly, has expressed himself badly here, but you have turned his argument into complete nonsense. I am quite sure that he does not mean to argue that, because Jesus did something on Shabbat, that means he is God. For a start, Jesus never broke the sabbath. What he did do was to reject the laws and customs that the Jews had built up around the sabbath.

    The passage in question is this:

    John 5:15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
    18 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.

    What Jesus is doing is asserting his Sonship. Bby calling God his own Father (“my Father”, rather than “our Father”) he was claiming equality to God.

    From your quote of him, Shamoun appears to be concentrating on Jesus’ claim to authority over the sabbath, an authority that only God can have. That is very different from a mere claim that working on the sabbath (which I don’t agree that Jesus did, in the terms of the commandment) is evidence of being God. So all the rest of your article is so much wasted verbiage, because it is directed against an opinion that neither Shamoun nor any other Christian holds.

    Finally, rather than nit-picking about individual verses, read the whole gospel of John in one sitting and allow God to speak to you of his Son and the life that he offers you through Jesus.

    • qmarkmark  On August 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Thank you brother Oliver. Your notes are always very educative and I always look forward to read them. Following are my views after reading your comments.

      You wrote, “Shamoun, if quoted correctly,…but you have turned his argument into complete nonsense.” Brother, you don’t have to be hyper cautious. I did not give the links where Shamoun is speaking for no reason. Visit the links, listen for yourself what the Shamoun has to say. Pay attention to his argument rather than critiquing me based on assumptions and giving unaccounted benefit of doubt to Shamoun as is evinced by your statement, “I am quite sure that he does not mean to argue that, because Jesus did something on Shabbat, that means he is God.”

      The preceding quotation was the exact argument of Shamoun. PLEASE listen to him. He exactly argued that all believers and “creatures” of God must seize to work on Sabbath and only God and God alone could work on it; Jesus (peace be upon him) worked on Sabbath by healing a paralytic thus he ought to be god! In fact, rather than deeming my paper as mere verbiage, if you would have given any careful read, you would have found me arguing that, “Jesus never broke the sabbath. What he did do was to reject the laws and customs that the Jews had built up around the sabbath.” So now you have double work, read my paper once again and listen to Shamoun as well.

      You wrote, “From your quote of him, Shamoun appears to be concentrating on Jesus’ claim to authority over the sabbath, an authority that only God can have. That is very different from a mere claim that working on the sabbath (which I don’t agree that Jesus did, in the terms of the commandment) is evidence of being God.”

      Ofcourse Shamoun being a Trinitarian was appealing to the authority Jesus (peace be upon him) had to work on Sabbath day – a thing which did not behoove any creature since they ought to seize from work on Sabbath Day unlike true God who would continuously work every day even on Sabbath day.

      Please watch the video for yourself to know that, “Shamoun…has expressed himself badly here”

      • Oliver Elphick  On August 6, 2012 at 3:00 am

        I maintain the same opinion.

        All Israel were indeed commanded to cease working during shabbat. Jesus declares that he is Lord over the sabbath (Matthew 12:8, etc.) According to Shamoun, it is his claim of authority, not the fact that he healed on the sabbath, that is evidence of his divinity, as I already said.

      • qmarkmark  On August 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm

        Peace be on him who accepts truth,

        Brother Oliver, thanks again for your note.

        I can understand why you would go lengths to support Shamoun, I would have done the same if I would have been another “Trinitarian”. However, the fact of the matter is Shamoun had all the time in the show yet he never brought up or alluded to Matthew 12:8 – it would have given me more opportunity to refute him on that.

        Throughout his “exegesis” he claimed, as can be verified by the video clip I linked, that only God was suppose to WORK on Sabbath; all his believing creatures were to REST, however, Jesus (peace be upon him) WORKED on the Sabbath by healing the paralytic thus he ought to be god as well. In fact Shamoun even argued that if God cease to WORK on Saturdays then who would run the world. Thus entire argument of Shamoun rested on the issue of WORKING on Sabbath than having a “lordship” over it.

        Having said that I would not be surprised if Shamoun further argues that, and can be deduced as well, that Jesus (peace be upon him) had similar “authority” to “WORK” on Saturday as God – note the stress of “authority” TO WORK ON SATURDAY -that is what makes a god for Shamoun; his god has to work on Saturday, unfortunately, I refuted him in this paper.

        Brother Oliver, I would request a more unbiased approach from a knowledgeable person like you.

      • Oliver Elphick  On August 8, 2012 at 4:13 am

        It seems to me that your insistence on misunderstanding the bible extends to misunderstanding people who speak about it. Admittedly Shamoun is not a model of clarity here

        For myself, the reason the Jews considered him to be blaspheming is that he called God his own Father – thus making himself equal with God. – which is what the text actually says.

  • Oliver Elphick  On August 6, 2012 at 2:50 am

    In your post, you wrote, “Fundamentally, Shamoun’s argument is, since Jesus (peace be upon him) worked (healed) on the Sabbath day when it was ordained not to work therefore, Jesus (peace be upon him) enjoys some divine authority to work on the Sabbath like the Father – since, according to Jesus (peace be upon him), Father alone was to work all days including Sabbath!

    But Shamoun actually argued that Jesus claimed the right to work on the Sabbath just likethe Father. You have misstated his argument by transforming it from a deduction from what Jesus claimed into a deduction from what he did.

    I think Shamoun somewhat misstates the reason why the Jews wanted to kill Jesus. As recorded, it is not primarily because he healed on the sabbath (though that in itself infuriated the Jewish leaders) but “because he was even calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal to God”. (John 5:18)

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