Is Jesus Christ the Son of God? Responding to the Muslim View of Jesus
By Joseph Cumming
The more you equip your congregation to understand sound doctrine about the person of Christ, the more you will have equipped them to respond faithfully to questions raised by their Muslim friends.
When you talk about matters of faith with your nonbelieving secular neighbors, what Christian belief do they object to most? Is it the biblical concept of hell? Your views on gay marriage? The inerrancy of Scripture? For many of your Muslim neighbors, these Christian beliefs are not offensive. Indeed, your Muslim neighbor may mostly agree with you on these points. But most Muslims do find deeply offensive another belief that is central to the Christian faith — the assertion that Jesus Christ is the “Son of God.”
In my 15 years living in an Islamic Republic in the Arab world, and my additional 12 years working daily with Muslims in the U.S. and around the world, I have found that many Muslims consider this Christian belief to be more offensive than any other. If you are a pastor who encourages your congregation to reach out in love to their Muslim neighbors, you must help them think through how to respond to Muslim concerns about this sacred title of our Savior.
Before going deeper into this sharp difference between Muslims and Christians, let us remember that Christians do have some important common ground with Muslims regarding the person of Jesus. The Qur’an teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin (Sura 19:20); that He is a Prophet (Sura 2:136); that He is among those closest to God (3:45); that He taught a message of kindness and compassion (57:27); that He healed the sick and
raised the dead by the power of God (3:49); that He miraculously fed the hungry (5:112ff.); that He is alive now in heaven (3:55); and that He will return at the end of the age (43:61). Remarkably, the Qur’an affirms that Jesus is the Messiah and the Word of God (3:45 and 4:171), though most Muslims do not understand these titles the way Christians do. Muslims revere Jesus. Most will not say His name without immediately adding “Peace be upon Him” — which in Arabic need not imply He is in need of peace, but rather that we hail Him with respect.
At the same time, however, most Muslims feel strongly that Jesus did not die on a cross. They believe He did not rise from the dead or atone for human sin, and that people should not worship Him as God. Muslims generally believe that the One God of Abraham is not triune and has not become incarnate among us. Though they believe the New Testament, Torah, and Psalms are God’s inerrant Word in the original manuscripts, most also believe that people have so thoroughly altered the original text that the Bible we have today is not reliable. They often feel most strongly, however, that it is deeply offensive to refer to Jesus as the Son of God.
These are not marginal issues. If you remove the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Bible from the Christian faith, you have removed virtually all that Christians consider necessary to salvation. In articles elsewhere I have suggested a way forward on some of these other issues. Here I will focus on helping you equip your congregation to respond constructively to Muslims’ objection…
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