I live in Dubai and have a lot of great Muslim friends. Sometimes we get in discussions on who Jesus is and as you know their view of Jesus is different. They are using Bible quotes to argue that Jesus himself said that he is not God. I can argue that there are many passage where he actually claimed to be God but I would like to be able to explain the passages properly that they are using in stead of answering with different versus.
John 14:28 I am going to the Father because the Father is greater than me
John 20:17 I ascend unto my Father and your Father
Another argument that comes up is the scientific reliability of the Bible. In several versus there are references to the earth being on pillars or having a foundation. Or the sun hurries back etc As explanation it is given that all these are metaphorical. But when the Quran talks about things like the sun revolving around the earth many call it scientific blunders. Don’t get me wrong I believe it is a metaphor and the Bible is the absolute truth but would be great to have a bit more meat to the argument and not just say that in the Bible it is a metaphor and in the Quran it is literal.
I suggest you look at the material we published one year ago when we put on a one-day seminar on Islam. I did a class on Islam and Apologetics. Here are the notes for the class. Apologetics and Islam The audio is available through membership in the web site as is available by clicking on the membership button on the front page of the site.
About science and the Qur’an, here are some relevant passages:
Scientific Errors in the Qur’an:
23:14—Creation of human life from a clot of blood
“Then we made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then from that clot we made a lump; and we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh.”
36:4, 23:14 Man deposits child into the mother
18:86—Traveling west… “… till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring.”
Muslim authors quoted this as authoritative well into the Middle Ages.
21:32-33—Sun and stars orbit the earth “Each one is travelling in an orbit with its own motion” (Qur’an 21:33; 36:40).
34:9, 52:44—A piece of sky falls and kills someone.
There are some serious problems with claiming that the Qur’an is consistent with science, to say the least!
On Sura 21:32-33, consider the wording. Here it is specifically stated that the sun orbits the earth. This is unambiguous. Nowhere does it say in the Bible that the sun orbits the earth. It does use common language, that even we who know that geocentrism (earth-centered universe) is not true use all the time. The Bible says that the sun set or that the sun moved across the sky. This is normal language that we who know the earth goes around the sun say all the time. This not a clear-cut error at all! However, the Qur’an is saying literally that the sun orbits the earth. This is a clear statement using a technical term, and it is not equivalent to saying that the sun moves across the sky. I do not think you can absolutely “prove” that the Qur’an is wrong on this. Muslims will have their response, but I believe that the argument strongly favors the Bible vs the Qur’an on this topic. Whether your Muslim friends will agree is another thing. I believe quite strongly that there are no clear-cut science errors in the Bible, but that there are errors in the Qur’an. I somewhat doubt that you will be able to convert a Muslim based on this argument alone, but you should defend the Bible on this topic with confidence.
About Jesus, I advise in the notes I am attaching that it will be difficult to win a debate with your Muslim friend on the question of the trinity. I will admit that it is not “logical” in human terms that Jesus is both with God and is God (John 1:1). This is a difficult teaching in the Bible. I would not want to engage in a debate over the idea of the trinity. What I would do is simply point people to Jesus. He walked on water, he healed the blind and the deaf, he made bread and fish out of nothing, he raised the dead and he himself was raised from the dead. He fulfilled dozens of messianic prophecies. Jesus is who he says he is. I suggest you get your friend simply to read the Book of John with you and judge for himself.
However, on the question of whether the Bible says Jesus is God, the case is clear. John 14:28 has two possible interpretations. It could mean that Jesus is saying that the Father is positionally over him–that he submits to the Father, or it could mean that he is not God. Based on a reading of the book of John it is abundantly clear that the first explanation of John 14:28 is the correct one!!!! Jesus said that “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” in John 8:58. The crowd knew exactly what he meant by this, as they picked up stones to stone him. He claimed to be God. He also claimed to be God in John 10:29-33. Here Jesus claimed to be God. How do we know? Because his audience told him he was making this claim and he did not correct them! In John 21:28 Thomas calls Jesus his God! There are several other passages in John which clearly prove that Jesus claimed to be God. The Muslim wants to use one verse to disprove another one. This does not work, as even the Muslim is told in the Qur’an that the Injil (the gospels) are from Allah. They are told by Muhammad that the New Testament is from God. It cannot contradict itself. The only way to simultaneously understand John 14:28, John 20:17, as well as John 1:1, John 8:58 and John 10:29-33 as well as John 21:28 and others is to conclude that Jesus submitted to his Father, yet was equal to his Father–that he was God. I would wager that if you simply asked a completely uninitiated person to read the Book of John and ask that unbiased person whether Jesus claimed to be God, they would be virtually unanimous. Yes, he did make this claim about himself, or at least the writer of John believed he was God.