The Christmas season is here, and with it, the focus turns to Jesus (peace be upon him). Over this past year, I have read numerous essays from ministers proclaiming Jesus is God, that he was God in the flesh when he walked this earth 2,000 years ago, and that he was also -- at the same time -- God’s physical son who came to die as payment for our sins so that all who accept him as their Lord and Savior can go to heaven.
This is all very confusing and raises many questions, a few of which I humbly pose to Trinitarian Christians: Who do you focus on as God when you pray? Is it the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Do you pray to each one equally, unequally or all together? Calling them “three-in-one” doesn’t make it so. The classical definition of Trinity -- “God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit” -- creates three separate “gods” in your mind. Saying they are all still “one” doesn’t change this. The language still defines them as three separate gods. And I’m guessing for most Christians, their focus on God comes mainly through Jesus.
Now, all Muslims are taught to respect and believe in Jesus as a true prophet sent by God to the Israelites as their messiah. But no Muslim considers Jesus to be God incarnate as a human being and/or the literal Son of God whose purpose was to die an accursed death for anyone’s sins.
The truth is that Paul knew these ideas came from Greek religion (see Acts 14:11 and www.POCM.info) and he merged them with Judaism to successfully preach to the Greeks, Romans and Gentiles. The result is the Christianity we have to this day -- be it Catholic or Protestant -- which tells Christians they must believe Jesus is God and/or the literal Son of God who died for their sins and was resurrected. If Christians reject any or all of these beliefs, they lose their salvation. Paul understood this and stated (in 1 Cor.15:14) that: “If Christ is not risen, our preaching and our faith are in vain.”
This Holiday (Holy Day) Season, I ask our Christian readers to ask themselves: “Who is really God?” Is He God the Father? This is what Jesus, being a practicing Jew, believed. Jesus was a humble servant who bowed down and prayed to God the Father, not to himself. Jesus never said (or seemed to know) he was God in the flesh who came to die for our sins or that we must worship him as God. Christians can only present a few statements by Jesus -- such as “The Father and I are one” and “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” -- as “proof” that Jesus is saying he is equal to God or God Himself in the flesh. But these statements can easily be understood as metaphorical allusions, not literal pronouncements. Here is what Jesus said on who God is and who he is that is not metaphorical: “God is spirit so worship Him in spirit and truth. . . I am the Christ [i.e., the one anointed by God as His prophet and messiah ]. . .” (John 4:24-26)
Here are two more statements by Jesus that every Christian should study and reflect on: “. . . I desire not sacrifice, but mercy; I came not for the righteous, but for the sinners to repent.” (Matt. 9:13) And: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Jesus says he came for sinners to repent, not for him to die for their sins. And Jesus says clearly the only true God is his spiritual Father, Who (in Matt. 15:24) sent His spiritual son to “only gather the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.”
And speaking of God, He speaks for Himself as to who and what He is -- Christians must decide who they are going to believe and follow: God or Paul. God states clearly in the Old Testament in Numbers 23:19 that He is not a human being [because they lie and God doesn’t ], nor is He a Son of Man [i.e., a prophet ] that He repents. What does “repent” mean? Exodus 32:30-34 explains this when it relates the story of the Israelites who, after being freed from slavery in Egypt, built and worshiped a golden calf. When Moses pleaded before God to be punished instead for their sin of idol worship, God tells Moses He does not punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty -- it is the sinners who must repent of their sins in order to achieve atonement (at-one-ment) with God.
A common response by Christians who believe that Jesus is God is to say that, since God can do anything, He can choose to manifest on earth as a human being. Why is this so objectionable? The reason is simple: for God to be All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Ever-Living, and possess all the divine qualities we expect in the Supreme Being Who created the universe and everything in it, God cannot be “put in a box.” In Christianity, the box is called Jesus. In reality, there is no “box” that can hold Him – no fire or man or animal or celestial body or even the entire universe. When other religions claim their gods are human beings, cats, cows, the sun, moon and planets, etc., no Christian declares these gods are real or true -- except when the claim is about Jesus. Then the same falsehood is suddenly true.
In Isaiah 43:10 God says that before Him there was no god formed, and there shall be none formed after Him. Since God has no beginning and no end, this can only mean that God is telling Isaiah that at no time in the past was there any god formed, and there shall be no god formed at any time in the future. Every Christian believes Jesus was conceived and formed in the womb of his mother, Mary, who bore him nine months later as a helpless infant totally dependent on his mother for his existence. The fact that Jesus was physically created -- weak, helpless and dependent on others -- means he cannot be God because God is none of those things.
If God is limited by physical dimensions, He becomes finite instead of infinite, created instead of uncreated, corporeal instead of non-corporeal. Only God lives forever and has no beginning or end. All else is His creation -- including Jesus. To expunge idolatry from the hearts of the Israelites, God forbade them to worship any created object or being or to make any image of Him. Christians who believe Jesus is God in the flesh and have created images of him have broken the first two of God’s Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3-17.
Islam says God is One. He has no partners, no equals, no children. There is no Trinity or worship of human beings in Islam. We only worship God, five times a day. God’s Final Law, the Holy Quran, answers every social, moral and spiritual need of mankind for all times and all situations. Salvation is available to all from God directly through His infinite Grace and all-encompassing Mercy. He has all power to forgive, without requiring the mur:der of His son or Himself as His son to pay Himself for your sins. It’s all a matter of focus. God can put His focus on you alone. Can you put your focus on God alone? As Muslims, that’s our focus. What’s yours?
[ with Imam Shamshad A. Nasir; appeared online at AhmadiyyaTimes.com Thursday, Dec. 12th, 2013 at this link: http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2013/12/perspective-god-is-one-not-three-in-one.html and an abridged version of this ran in the Daily Bulletin religion section's "From the Pulpit" on Sat., Dec. 21st, 2013] and online at AhmadiyyaTimes.com at this link: http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2013/12/from-pulpit-focus-on-god-should-not-be.html ]