Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Revisiting The Greatest Commandment According to Jesus Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Muslim taqiyyist Paul Bilal Williams has posted another attack on the Deity of Christ on his blog, titled “Commandment Number 1”, which is actually taken a from the website of another prominent dawagandist named Shabir Ally.

In this short article, Ally quotes the Gospels of Mark and John to prove that Jesus denied that he was God Incarnate.

Our aim here is to see just how well he did.

Monotheism in Mark’s Gospel

Ally quotes Mark to show that Jesus cited Deuteronomy 6:4-5, also known as the Shema, as the most important commandment:

“The most important one is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord (kyrios) our God, the Lord (kyrios) is one. Love the Lord (kyrion) your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Mark 12:29-30

Ally then asks:

Now if Jesus was God, he could have told the man so. Instead, he let the man refer to God as someone other than Jesus, and then he even confirmed that the man had spoken wisely (see v. 34).

First, it would have been more accurate for Jesus to identify himself as God’s unique Son who is essentially co-equal with the Father than to simply say he is God in an unqualified sense since, to a first-century Jew, that would have meant that Jesus was making himself out to be the Father in heaven who had sent him.

Second, had Ally bothered to actually read the entire chapter he would have discovered that this is precisely what Jesus went on to do, namely, testify that he is the unique divine Son of God.

The Divine Son of Man who reigns from God’s throne in heaven

For example, Christ immediately went on to cite an OT text to establish the fact that he is the sovereign Lord of all creation who reigns from heaven itself:

“So Jesus asked this question as He taught in the temple complex, ‘How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the Son of David? David himself says by the Holy Spirit: “The Lord (kyrios) declared to my Lord (to kyrio mou), ‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet.’” David himself calls Him ‘Lord’ (kyrion); how then can the Messiah be his Son?” And the large crowd was listening to Him with delight.” Mark 12:35-37

Christ cites Psalm 110:1 (which is 109 in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to as the Septuagint [LXX]) to show that David himself knew by revelation from the Holy Spirit that the Messiah is more than his human descendant. He is also David’s Lord – and by extension Israel’s Lord as well – who rules from God’s heavenly throne.

Here is the text in question:

The Lord (ho kyrios) said to my Lord (to kyrio mou), ‘You sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” LXX

That this passage indicates that David’s Lord reigns from God’s throne in heaven is made clear from the following Psalms:

He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord (Adonay) scoffs at them.” Psalm 2:4

The Lord (kyrios) is in his holy temple, as for the Lord (kyrios), his throne is in heaven: his eyes look upon the poor, his eyelids try the sons of men.” Psalm 10[Eng. 11]:4 LXX

The Lord (kyrios) has prepared his throne in the heaven; and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 102[Eng. 103]:19 LXX

In these passages David makes it clear that God sits enthroned in heaven over the entire creation. To, therefore, sit at God’s right means sitting alongside of God on the same heavenly throne!

In other words, to refer to someone being seated at God’s right hand is simply another way of saying that the person in question actually shares in God’s sovereign authority over all creation.

This means that Jesus (as well as the prophet David) is essentially claiming that Christ is a co-occupant of God’s heavenly throne who fully shares in God’s unique rule over creation.

Christ brings out this point more explicitly at his trial before the Sanhedrin:

“But He kept silent and did not answer anything. Again the high priest questioned Him, ‘Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus, ‘and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?’ And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.” Mark 14:61b-64

Here Jesus combines the language of Psalm 110:1 with Daniel 7:13-14 to describe himself as the Son of Man who sits enthroned at God’s right hand. This is rather significant since the passage from Daniel refers to a divine being who reigns forever:

“I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.”

Not only does this Son of Man possess an indestructible kingdom and rides the clouds of heaven, which is a divine function according to the Hebrew Bible,

“Sing to God! Sing praises to His name. Exalt Him who rides on the clouds—His name is Yahweh—and rejoice before Him… to Him who rides in the ancient, highest heavens. Look, He thunders with His powerful voice! Ascribe power to God. His majesty is over Israel, His power among the clouds.” Psalm 68:4, 33-34

“He wraps Himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy, laying the beams of His palace on the waters above, making the clouds His chariot, walking on the wings of the wind,” Psalm 104:2-3

“The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” Nahum 1:3 – cf. Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; 33:7-11; 40:34-38; Numbers 10:34; Deuteronomy 33:26-27; Isaiah 19:1; Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34-36

This particular Son of Man is also worshiped by all the nations in the same way that God Most High is!

“The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him.” Daniel 7:27

“So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you worship continually, rescue you!’ … When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. ‘Daniel, servant of the living God,’ the king said, ‘has your God whom you worship continually been able to rescue you from the lions?’ Then Daniel spoke with the king: ‘May the king live forever. My God sent His Angel and shut the lions’ mouths. They haven’t hurt me, for I was found innocent before Him. Also, I have not committed a crime against you my king.’ … ‘I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel: For He is the living God, and He endures forever; His kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion has no end.’” Daniel 6:20-22, 26 – cf. 3:12, 17-18, 28

“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord (kyrion): and all the kindred of the nations shall worship before him. For the kingdom is the Lord's; and he is the governor of the nations. All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and worshipped: all that go down to the earth shall fall down before him: my soul also lives to him. And my seed shall serve him: the generation that is coming shall be reported to the Lord (to kyrio).” Psalm 21:28-31 LXX [Eng. 22:27-30]

“There is none like to you, O Lord (kyrie), among the gods; and there are no [works] like your works. All nations whom you have made shall come, and shall worship before you, O Lord (kyrie); and shall glorify your name. For you are great, and do wonders: you are the only great God.” Psalm 85 [Eng. 86]:8-10 LXX – cf. Psalm 66:4; 117:1

“And it shall come to pass from month to month, and from sabbath to sabbath, [that] all flesh shall come to worship before me in Jerusalem, says the Lord (kyrios).” Isaiah 66:23 LXX

And the Lord (kyrios) shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord (kyrios), and his name one… And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall be left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem, shall even come up every year to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever of all the families of the earth shall not come up to Jerusalem to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, even these shall be added to the others.” Zechariah 14:9, 16-17 LXX

Clearly, this is no ordinary Son of Man! This Being whom Daniel described can only be God appearing as a man. At the same time, however, Daniel depicts this Son of Man as someone that is personally distinct from the Ancient of Days, who is also supposed to God!

Hence, by claiming to be that very same Son of Man whom the prophet Daniel saw in a vision Jesus was basically telling his detractors that he is God the Son (not God the Father or the Holy Spirit) who became a flesh and blood human being for the redemption of those who would believe in him (cf. Mark 10:45; 14:22-24).

How could Ally have missed all this?

Jesus as the beloved Son of God and Heir

This isn’t the only thing that Ally conveniently missed. Earlier in the same chapter Jesus told a parable which gives us a further indication of what he thought of himself:

“Then He began to speak to them in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away. At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from the farmers. But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another slave to them, and they hit him on the head and treated him shamefully. Then he sent another, and they killed that one. He also sent many others; they beat some and they killed some. He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But those tenant farmers said among themselves, “This is THE HEIR. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!” So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers and give the vineyard to others.’” Mark 12:1-9

The owner represents God, the vineyard refers to Israel, and the tenants are the Jewish ruling authorities:

“They came again to Jerusalem. As He was walking in the temple complex, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came and asked Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? Who gave You this authority to do these things?’ … Because they knew He had said this parable against them, they were looking for a way to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowd. So they left Him and went away.” Mark 11:27-28; 12:12

“I will sing about the one I love, a song about my loved one’s vineyard: The one I love had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He broke up the soil, cleared it of stones, and planted it with the finest vines. He built a tower in the middle of it and even dug out a winepress there. He expected it to yield good grapes, but it yielded worthless grapes. So now, residents of Jerusalem and men of Judah, please judge between Me and My vineyard. What more could I have done for My vineyard than I did? Why, when I expected a yield of good grapes, did it yield worthless grapes? Now I will tell you what I am about to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge, and it will be consumed; I will tear down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland. It will not be pruned or weeded; thorns and briers will grow up. I will also give orders to the clouds that rain should not fall on it. For the vineyard of the LORD of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah, the plant He delighted in. He looked for justice but saw injustice, for righteousness, but heard cries of wretchedness.” Isaiah 5:1-7

The slaves in the parable are supposed to be the prophets whom God repeatedly sent to his people:

“You are to strike down the house of your master Ahab so that I may avenge the blood shed by the hand of Jezebel—the blood of My servants the prophets and of all the servants of the LORD.” 2 Kings 9:7

“‘I will do this because they have not listened to My words’—this is the LORD’s declaration—‘that I sent to them with My servants the prophets time and time again. And you too have not listened.’ This is the LORD’s declaration.” Jeremiah 29:19 – cf. 7:25; 26:5; 35:15; 44:4; Ezekiel 38:17; Zechariah 1:6

Now instead of referring to himself as one of the owner’s slaves, Jesus actually claims to be much more and greater than that. Unlike the prophets before him who were merely slaves of the owner, Jesus is actually the owner’s beloved Son and Heir!

This isn’t the only place in Mark where Jesus is referred to as God’s beloved Son, since he is identified as such by God himself and also by unclean spirits:

“Since He had healed many, all who had diseases were pressing toward Him to touch Him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, those possessed fell down before Him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God!’ And He would strongly warn them not to make Him known.” Mark 3:10-12

“When they came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. As soon as He got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met Him. He lived in the tombs. No one was able to restrain him anymore—even with chains—because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had snapped off the chains and smashed the shackles. NO ONE WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO SUBDUE HIM. And always, night and day, he was crying out among the tombs and in the mountains and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before Him. And he cried out with a loud voice, ‘What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I BEG YOU before God, DO NOT TORMENT ME!’ For He had told him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ ‘What is your name?’ He asked him. ‘My name is Legion,’ he answered Him, ‘because we are many.’ And he kept BEGGING Him not to send them out of the region.” Mark 5:1-10

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them, and His clothes became dazzling—extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it’s good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—because he did not know what he should say, since they were terrified. A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is My beloved Son; listen to Him!’” Mark 9:2-7 – cf. 1:9-11

Nor is Mark the only inspired Evangelist who claims that Christ is the Heir of everything which belongs to God, or that he possesses all authority in heaven and earth:

“When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Then Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father AND OF THE SON and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:17-20

Everything the Father has IS MINE. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.” John 16:15

Everything I have is Yours, and everything You have IS MINE, and I have been glorified in them.” John 17:10

“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created BY HIM, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and FOR HIM. He IS before all things, and BY HIM all things hold together.” Colossians 1:13-17

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him HEIR OF ALL THINGS and made the universe THROUGH HIM. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and THE EXACT REPRESENTATION of His nature, sustaining all things BY HIS POWERFUL WORD. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:1-3

This in itself is an astounding assertion since not only does this imply that all the prophets were the slaves of Christ, it also means that every creature belongs to the Lord Jesus!

Logically, there is simply no way around this fact:

  1. All of creation belongs entirely to God.
  2. Christ is God’s Heir.
  3. The entire creation, therefore, belongs completely to Christ as well.

Since both premises are true according to the inspired Scriptures then it logically follows that the conclusion is also true (at least as far as the Holy Bible is concerned).

This now raises some major problems for Ally.

In the first place, Ally must face the fact that since Muhammad was a creature of God then, according to Jesus’ own words in Mark 12, Ally’s prophet (along with Ally and the entire Muslim world for that matter!) is someone that Christ owned and who was created for the pleasure and glory of God’s beloved Son!

Secondly, Jesus’ teachings directly conflict with the statements of Quran which denies that Allah has any partner or son that shares in his dominion over the heavens and the earth:

AND UNTO GOD belongs the dominion over the heavens and the earth: and God has the power to will anything. S. 3:189 Muhammad Asad

“and say: ‘All praise is due to God, who begets no offspring,’ and has no partner in His dominion, and has no weakness, and therefore no need of any aid’- and [thus] extol His limitless greatness.” S. 17:111 Asad

In fact, the Quran expressly threatens anyone who would dare claim that Jesus is God’s Son with destruction:

AND THE JEWS say, "Ezra is God's son," while the Christians say, "The Christ is God's son." Such are the sayings which they utter with their mouths, following in spirit assertions made in earlier times by people who denied the truth!" [They deserve the imprecation:] "May God destroy them!" S. 9:30 Asad

The Quran also says that Allah is the one who inherits everything!

And certainly We! We it is Who give life, and cause death and We are the Inheritors. S. 15:23 Hilali-Khan

He is even called the best of those who inherit!

And (remember) Zakariya (Zachariah), when he cried to his Lord: "O My Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of the inheritors." S. 21:89 Hilali-Khan – cf. Q. 19:40, 80; 28:58

Thus, Jesus’ statements in Mark 12 emphatically prove that he did not preach Islam, and therefore could not have been a Muslim, nor did he worship the God that Muhammad proclaimed.

We are not done with Ally just yet since he still had more to say, which we will be responding to in the second part of our rebuttal.