Islamic Christology and a Christian Response

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This is a blurb of a three part series on Islamic Christology written on our Editorial Blogs site by Saudi Christian from a Muslim Background, Al Fadi.

One of the main and specific issues between Muslims and Christians since the days of Muhammad until now has been Christology. The image of God as the Transcendent Other appears to be sacrificed by the Christian notion of Jesus as the ‘Son of God’, and ‘Trinity.’ Thus the dominant image of Jesus in the Quran is not as one of the prophets who serve to illustrate the message and the ministry of Muhammad and also serve as a warning to those who do not listen to him, but as one who correct Christians of exceeding the bounds of ‘the Islamic structure of prophecy’.

The Quranic Christology shows that ideas from a doctrinal dispute over the nature of Christ, which arose between the third and sixth century in the churches of the Mediterranean region, had advanced as far as Mecca. Resident Jews may also have influenced Muhammad with their rejection of Jesus’ divine Sonship. Thus Muhammad denied the heavenly nature of Christ with a cutting sharpness. In Sura Q 112 of the Quran we find the core of Islam in the command for the Muslim confession, “Allah begets not and was not begotten.”

This phrase is impressed upon every Muslim from childhood – God is not a father and never had a son. In Q 9:29-30 Muhammad gave a more radical argument to this theme. He ascertained: “The Christians say, `the Messiah is the Son of Allah.’ That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming to the unbelievers before them. Allah kill them! How they are perverted!” With this curse, Muhammad asserts that anyone who believes that God is a Father and Christ is His Son, must be annihilated by Allah. Who can deny that this is a manifestation of an anti-Christian spirit? In Islam a real incarnation of God in Christ is unthinkable which is a clear confirmation to the truth found in 1 John 2:22-23 and 4:2-3 as to the signs of the Antichrist: “This is the Antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either… Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist.”

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  1. First of all the Bible tells us that God is a spirit (John 4:24). From the beginning to the end he Word of God also speaks about the Spirit of God. We don’t really know what exactly the spiritual mater is. The experience throughout the human history shows that spirits can go through material objects and can be in human bodies.
    The very first name used in the Bible is Elohim. This is a plural form of El which means strong, mighty. This the word used to differentiate God from humans. The word Elohim is used almost exclusively for God with a one exception where it is used for angels. This type of usage shows that it is assigned to give distinction between humans and spirits. The Word of God shows that there are two groups of spiritual beings – the eternal and the created spirits.
    Most of the time in the Old Testament the word translated for God is Elohim. There are some places where the word El or Eloah is used. If you check the original Hebrew words and the meaning in the Strongs dictionary you will find that almost everywhere it is Elohim – the mighty ones. The reason to translate it as singular is the Hebrew tradition which says that the plural form is only to show respect to the majestic Creator. Even with that we can find in Genesis 1:26 And Elohim (the Mighty Ones) said, let us make man in our image… This type of use is actually throughout the Old Testament but the evident original meaning has been translated literally only a few times. Many people think of the word “God“ as of a personal name. The fact is that when you read the Bible you can find many different Names of God. All of them signify different sides of the personality of the Creator and are not just tags. By using the word Elohim the Bible shows the nature of the beings behind it. They are the mighty ones. The spiritual beings have capabilities beyond ours. That is why in the Bible they are called the Mighty Ones – Elohim.
    The name Jehovah splits the group of the spiritual beings in two. It means “I am who I am”, signifying the eternal nature of our Creator. It shows that the group of Elohim has eternal spirits and created spirits. Even from Genesis we know that there is the Father, the Son and the Spirit of God. These three are the Jehovah Elohim – the Eternal Mighty Ones, the Creators of our world and the humanity. These names – the Father, the Son and the Spirit are also with special meaning. It is for our benefit that they use these names so we can have the analogy and clear understanding of their nature and attitude towards us. It is written that Jesus (Yehoshua in the original text), the Savior, the Word of God will have a new name in the new Kingdom of God (Rev 3:12 Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.). God uses the names in His Word to show the nature of persons, the change in their lives and His plan. Abram was named Abraham, Sarai – Sarah, Jacob – Israel. You also will have a new name in the Kingdom (Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it.). In the Old Testament all names of people and places have meaning that show signs for us.
    Let’s summarize all that was explained before. Jehovah is not a personal name but signifies the true nature of the Most High spiritual beings. Elohim which is the most common word behind “God” means the mighty ones. It is used most of the times for our Creators but in general shows the group of the spiritual beings. Here is a visual representation:
    1. Elohim (the mighty ones):
    – Jehovah (the Eternal Ones)

    – Angels (created spirits)

    2. Man (has a spirit but also a physical body):
    – Men
    – Women

    3. Animals (have spirits but also physical bodies)
    – Many kinds

    4. Plants
    – Many kinds

    5. Non-living matter

    In many cultures angels are called gods with names that express the nature of Elohim. The Semitic nations use El. In north European cultures they are called elves (or elf for singular).
    The names of God give us understanding for the nature of the beings that created our world. The names in the Bible show also the different types and categories of beings which we encounter. Elohim and Jehovah show the type of the beings.

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