My wife Laurie is working on her Masters Degree in Christian Apologetics at Biola University in California. One of her classmates is from Nigeria. When he found out that in November 2016 we were headed to Nigeria to teach seminar, he suggested that we visit him and that I debate a Muslim on the question of “Is Jesus God?” I agreed to the debate Sheikh Hussaini Yusuf Mabera who had written a booklet entitled “The Bible Says: Jesus is not God.” You can watch the video of the debate here.
My preparation for the debate included reading several books and scouring many websites, both Christian and Muslim, to get a feel for how to approach the topic. Although I’ve taught for years about the deity of Jesus, this was a special opportunity to speak to Muslims who have only heard what their polemicists have told them, namely that Jesus is not God, and that the Bible has been corrupted. The Qur’an has some verses that say God (“Allah”) has no Son, and that he does not share his glory with anyone. However, Islam reveres Jesus as a prophet.
My research and preparation for the debate prompted me to consider putting my findings into a book. When Laurie and I got back from Nigeria, I outlined a book with the working title More Than A Prophet, then proceeded to bury myself in my office writing text. When I came up for air a couple of months later, I had a 20-chapter book with two appendices, and roughly a 150-page book. While I was in Indonesia last mont, I put the finishing touches on the book, and now it is available through Amazon. You can find it here.
More Than A Prophet (subtitle, The Identity of Jesus from the Bible, Qur’an and Early Sources) is divided into three sections: (1) Attributes of God Ascribed to Jesus, (2) Who Jesus, His Followers and His Enemies said He Was, and (3) Questions Muslims Ask.
The book is intended to set forth the reasons why Jesus is “more than a prophet.” I argue that since both Christianity and Islam hold Jesus in high esteem as a prophet (although Christianity holds Him to be more than that), then Jesus’ words ought to be believed. I demonstrate that many of the titles and attributes (i.e., characteristics or unique qualities, such as being the “Giver of Life” and the ability to forgive sins) that both the Bible and the Qur’an say belong to God alone are also ascribed to Jesus. After documenting each example, I ask the question, “How can a title (or ability) that belongs to God alone according to the Bible and Qur’an be ascribed to Jesus if He is a mere prophet? This is my way of not only showing Christians how to demonstrate that Jesus is God, but it also puts the burden on the Muslim to explain why, over and over, Jesus is said to possess qualities that belong to God alone.
Some Muslims have been taught to say that where the Bible and the Qur’an disagree (such as on Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, which Islam rejects) the Bible must have been corrupted. I cover this baseless excuse by pointing out that (1) the Qur’an makes no such claim, (2) some Muslim scholars do not accept the claim that the Bible has been corrupted, (3) the facts show that the Bible Muhammad had is the same one we have today, and, (4) the Qur’an says that God gave the Gospel (called Injil in Islam) to Christians as a guide to mankind.
When the excuse that “the Bible has been corrupted” has been taken off the table, Muslims are left to deal with the text of the New Testament, especially the Gospels (Muslims have a low view of Paul’s epistles). Using primarily the Gospels, More Than A Prophet presents a solid case from the testimony of Jesus’ followers, His enemies (which makes their testimony especially powerful) and from Jesus Himself that He is God. In addition, in order to refute the claim that it was not until the 4th century that Christians began believing Jesus was God, I give several examples of early Christians (from A.D. 110 to ca 200) who state Jesus is God. Finally, I even present a letter from a Roman governor who acknowledged in about the year A.D. 113 that Christians worshiped Jesus as “a god.”
Since the Bible does, clearly, present Jesus as God, Muslims are taught to ask, “If Jesus is God, and He died on a cross, how could God die?” This, and several other common questions asked by Muslims about how Jesus can be God are answered in the book.
If you have an interest in understanding the Bible’s teaching about Jesus being God, or if you have an interest in knowing how to talk to Muslims about Jesus’ deity, you should find More Than A Prophet very helpful. I trust that it will answer questions for both Christians and Muslims so that the truth about the identity of Jesus will be understood and believed. Inshallah!