Muslim Objections to Christianity: Jesus is Not the Son of God

This is the fourth and final post in a series posts about some of the biggest objections Muslims have with Christianity.

Objection #4: Jesus is not the Son of God

Another point of contention between Christians and Muslims is Jesus being the Son of God. Not only do Muslims deny that Jesus is God’s son, it is also denied that God could have a son. If God were to have a son, it is argued, it would mean that there would more than one God, which would be blasphemy. Much of this debate also centers on a misunderstanding by both Christians and Muslims.

What the idea of Sonship means to a Christian is often not truly understood to mean the same thing to a Muslim and vice versa. The term “son” can mean many things and does not have to mean one’s literal and biological son. Luther Engelbrecht and Ernest Hahn write, among many examples, “Other languages also use the term ‘son’ in a variety of ways. Thus, in the Arabic language of the Qur’an ‘son’ need not mean only a direct male issue or descendant. A familiar example is ibnu’s sabil (“son of the road”), which means ‘a traveller.’”[1]

This is where the Muslim misunderstanding comes into play. “In the light of the above, let us turn to well known verses of the Qur’an: “He is Allah, the One…. He begetteth not nor was begotten….” (sura 112:1-4). This sura clearly states that God has no son and that no son can be God. Why? ‘How can He have a child, when there is for Him no consort?…’ (sura 6:102).”[2]

The problem of course is that the Quran does not actually address the Biblical meaning of Jesus’ Sonship. Believers in Christ do not believe that God had a wife and through sexual intimacy had a son. Therefore we must look at the Biblical meaning of the term ‘Son of God’ in order to better confront this objection.

The term “son of God” is used many times throughout the Bible. Because God is our creator and described as our “Father,” God is the father of all mankind. Therefore in one sense, we are all “sons of God,” including Jesus. However this is not where Muslims would likely disagree. The objection comes up when we ascribe Jesus to be the unique Son of God, different from ourselves and the rest of creation.

This is how the Bible portrays Jesus while the Quran presents Jesus as a mere prophet. A prophet, but only a man nonetheless. For example, in sura 2:75 Jesus is depicted as nothing more than a prophet who ate food like every other normal human being. Interestingly, the Quran mentions many of the miracles Jesus did, but strongly denies any of his deity. A few points of pushback can be made here.

It must be asked why Jesus, unlike all the other prophets, did so many miracles and was born of a virgin (as the Quran confirms). These are things a Muslim would not deny. Therefore it seems rather a strange that a mere prophet could do all these things, especially since Muhammad did very little in comparison to Jesus.

Second, as Ghattas writes, “We can bridge this (verse) by saying that there was a purpose in Jesus coming to earth and living as a man.”[3] Believers can explain that Jesus is able to identify with our weaknesses and struggles because he lived a human life. Again, Raouf and Carol Ghattas write, “He (Jesus) modeled for us the life of devotion to God and also was able, through his humanity, to identify with our weaknesses.”[4]

Second, only in Christianity can the idea of God being merciful and just at the same time exist. God can only truly be just if someone takes the punishment we deserve, and Jesus does this by dying for the sins of all who trust in him. Third, it cannot be ignored the up the numerous times where Jesus mentioned that all he did was done by the will of the Father, and that he and the father are one.

A Muslim will of course take an issue with this, but we cannot let the Quran speak highly of Jesus and yet condemn him at the same time. Jesus could not have been a good prophet and a liar simultaneously. This of course will not convince a Muslim of Christ’s divinity, but it does make it more difficult defend the position that Jesus was only a prophet.

As has been mentioned, it is important in this discussion for a Muslim to understand what exactly the Christian believes about the Son of God. Again, Christians do not believe the Son of God was the result of God procreating with Mary.

“Christian belief in Jesus as the Son of God simply echoes the constant, insistent and consistent affirmation throughout the Injil that He is the Son of God. Contrary to what some Muslims suggest, normally with no evidence, Christians, including St. Saul, did not invent this title.”[5] The term “Son of God” is used repeatedly by Jesus in the Gospels, not something that was added at a later date.

It is not at all uncommon for a Muslim to read what the Gospels actually say about Jesus for the first time and decide to take some time to reconsider much of what he or she has been told about Jesus. It is the duty of the Christian to explain what believers do and do not mean by “Son of God,” and to encourage their Muslim friend to discover why Jesus takes this title for Himself.

It is not the role of a Christian to convince any Muslim that Jesus is in fact the Son of God as that is the role of the Holy Spirit. What is the role of all Christians is to faithfully share Jesus and the Gospel and to do our best to engage Muslims in their objections to Christianity.


Other posts in this series:

Muslim Objections to Christianity: The Bible Has Been Changed
Muslim Objections to Christianity: Jesus Did Not Die
Muslim Objections to Christianity: Christians Worship Three Gods


 

[1] Luther Engelbrecht and Ernest Hahn, “Jesus as the Son of God,” Answering Islam, October 1, 2013, accessed October 1, 2013, http://www.answering-islam.org/Hahn/son.html.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Raouf Ghattas and Carol B. Ghattas, A Christian Guide to the Qur’an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2009), 77.

[4] Ibid.

[5] http://www.answering-islam.org/Hahn/son.html

[6] Ibid.

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