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Refuting a Muslim Pseudo-Scholar Pt. 3

I continue with my response to Abdal Hakim Murad’s intellectually irresponsible mishandling of God’s Word https://answeringallah.com/refuting-a-muslim-pseudo-scholar-pt-3/

 WINTER

Jesus does not know the date of the second coming (Mark 13:32).

RESPONSE

Seeing that Winter is supposed to be a Muslim scholar and academic he would surely be conversant with how Christian scholarship has addressed such a passage.

To begin, it needs to be emphasized that the inspired Scriptures do not merely proclaim that Christ is Divine, but equally emphasize the fact of his possessing a human nature, and is, therefore, a flesh and blood man who genuinely shares in the limitations of all human beings with the exception of sin.

Being human Christ would have to possess a human mind and soul/spirit in which he could not possibly know all things; otherwise, Jesus couldn’t be truly human if he did! As such, there is a sense in which Christ isn’t omniscient and therefore doesn’t know the day or hour.

And yet because he is also truly God, being an eternal divine Person that became human via his virginal conception and birth by the Holy Spirit,

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God [ho Theos] with us).” Matthew 1:18-23

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”’” Matthew 2:1-6

As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, even though you remain least among the clans of Judah, nevertheless, the one who rules in Israel for me will emerge from you. His existence has been from antiquity, EVEN FROM ETERNITY. Therefore that ruler will abandon them until the woman in labor gives birth. Then the rest of his countrymen will return to the Israelis. Then he will take his stand, shepherding by means of the strength of the Lord, by the power of the name of the LORD his God. And they will be firmly established; indeed, from then on he will become great— to the ends of the earth.” Micah 5:2-4 International Standard Version (ISV)

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Luke 1:26-35

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 10, 14

There’s a sense in which Jesus is omniscient and therefore does know all things:

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25

“‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.’ His disciples said, ‘Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know THAT YOU KNOW ALL THINGS and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” John 16:25-27

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘LORD, YOU KNOW EVERYTHING; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17

Compare this with what John writes about God:

“for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:20

Since the Holy Bible never tells us how Christ could simultaneously operate with two distinct natures without their being a contradiction or conflict between them, any explanation or attempt of harmonizing these tensions and paradoxes within the God-breathed Scriptures will be purely conjecture.(1)

With this in the foreground, we can now examine the context of Mark 13:32 carefully to see whether this text proves Winter’s contention, or actually affirms the historic Christian understanding of the Person of Christ:

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then HE will send out the angels and gather HIS elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” Mark 13:26-27

Jesus again refers to himself as the Son of Man which, as we showed previously (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/refuting-a-muslim-pseudo-scholar-pt-1/), is a reference to the Divine Being that the prophet Daniel spoke of, the One whom all nations worship and who rules over creation forever.

What makes this particular statement rather intriguing is that not alone does Jesus have command over the angelic host, which is an authority that even the Quran ascribes to God alone,

Though We had sent down the angels to them, and the dead had spoken with them, had We mustered against them every thing, face to face, yet they would not have been the ones to believe, unless God willed; but most of them are ignorant. S. 6:111 Arberry

He sends down the angels with the Spirit of His command upon whomsoever He will among His servants, saying: Give you warning that there is no God hut I; so fear you Me! S. 16:2 Arberry

God chooses of the angels Messengers and of mankind; surely God is All-hearing, All-seeing. S. 22:75 Arberry

Upon the day that heaven is split asunder with the clouds and the angels are sent down in majesty, S. 25:25 Arberry

Praise belongs to God, Originator of the heavens and earth, who appointed the angels to be messengers having wings two, three and four, increasing creation as He wills. Surely God is powerful over everything. S. 35:1 Arberry

Upon the day when the Spirit and the angels stand in ranks they shall speak not, save him to whom the All-merciful has given leave, and who speaks aright. S. 78:38 Arberry

No indeed! When the earth is ground to powder and thy Lord comes, and the angels rank on rank, and Gehenna is brought out, upon that day man will remember; and how shall the Reminder be for him? S. 89:21-23 Arberry

in it the angels and the Spirit descend, by the leave of their Lord, upon every command. S. 97:4 Arberry

But that the elect also, e.g., human believers, belong to the Son. And yet in this very same chapter, Christ plainly says that the elect are those whom the Lord God that created all things chose, obviously for himself:

“Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom HE chose, HE shortened the days.” Mark 13:19-20

In other words, the Son is equating himself with the Creator!

This is brought out by what the Lord says in the verse, that immediately precedes the text that Winter cited:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but MY words will not pass away.” Mark 13:31

Jesus’ attributes to his own words the very quality, which the Hebrew Bible ascribes only to the word of God:

“Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” Psalm 119:89

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

What’s even more ironic is the very passage cited by Winter actually places the Son in the same category of God’s very being!

Carefully note what the Lord says:

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32

In this text, the Lord distinguishes two categories of existence, namely created beings and the uncreated Reality that brought all creation in being.

By no one Christ means no human knows the day or hour, which only makes sense in light of the fact that God remains invisible to mankind:

“so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you… But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you… Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’… that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:4, 6, 8, 18

As such, it is not possible for a human creature to know the time of Jerusalem’s judgment and destruction apart from God revealing this to man.

And yet not even the angels know, even though they dwell in heaven where they behold before God’s visible presence and stand in attention ready to carry out his command:

“And Micaiah said, ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, “Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth gilead?” And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, “I will entice him.” And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?” And he said, “I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, “You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.” Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets. The LORD has declared disaster concerning you.’” 2 Chronicles 18:18-22 – Cf. 1 Kings 22:19-23

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’” Isaiah 6:1-5

“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10

If any one would know the hour it would be the angels seeing that they behold God visibly and hear him audibly and carry out his will. And yet even these created beings do not know despite their close proximity to the Creator of all things!

We need to also add the fact that human beings are lower than the righteous angels in status and glory due to the fall of Adam and Eve,

“For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, ‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” Hebrews 2:5-8

And that humans and angelic beings make up the created order, e.g. the world that God brought into existence:

“For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.” 1 Corinthians 4:9

This means that when the Lord stated that no human knows the day or hour, neither the angels in heaven, he was pretty much referring to the entire creation. I.e, Jesus’ point was that no creature knows the time that God had appointed for the judgment of Jerusalem.

And yet Christ mentions one specific Person who is not part of the created order, One that transcends both human and spirit creatures, namely the Son!

Pay close attention to how Jesus refers only to himself as the Son of the Father, thereby placing himself alongside the Father, not with the created realm:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” New International Version (NIV)

What we have here is an ascending order, which starts with man as being at the lower end of creation, to that which is uncreated and eternal by nature:

The Father.

The Son.

Angels.

Humans.

Hence, in this ascending scale, Jesus places himself above humans and angels, and therefore above the entire creation, and situates himself with the Father as his unique Son.

And when we add the further witness to the eternal nature of the Holy Spirit,

“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through THE ETERNAL SPIRIT offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:14

We then end up with the Holy Bible declaring that there are three distinct Persons who all fall under the category of Timeless/Eternal.

Eternal/Timeless

 

Creation
 

Father

 

Son

 

Holy Spirit

 

 

Heavens

 

Earth

 

Angels

 

Humans

 

Hence, the very text that Winter referenced to call into question the Deity of Christ, actually ends up confirming that Jesus is personally distinct from the entire creation since he is the unique Son of God who belongs to the same category of existence that the Father belongs to!

I will have more to say about the eternal, uncreated nature of Christ in the next part of my rebuttal https://answeringallah.com/refuting-a-muslim-pseudo-scholar-pt-4/

Endnotes

(1) Being a Sunni Muslim, Winter faces logical conundrums of his own since the historic position of his particular tradition is that the Quran is the uncreated speech of his deity that became a book, and therefore consists of two natures/aspect:

He speaks with a kind of Speech which is one of His attributes, from all eternity, not of the genus of letters and sounds. It is an attribute incompatible with silence and defect Allah speaks with this attribute, commanding, prohibiting, and narrating. The Qur’an, the Speech of Allah, is uncreated and it is written in our volumes, preserved in our hearts, recited by our tongues, heard by our ears, [yet] is not a thing residing in them. (Commentary on the Creed of Islam Sa’d al-Din al-Taftazani on the Creed of Najm al-Din al-Nasafi, Translated with Introduction and Notes by Earl Edgar Elder [Columbia University Press, New York 1950], Chapter 6. The Attribute of Speech, p. 58; underline emphasis mine)

The Qur’an, the Speech of Allah, is uncreated (ghayr makhluq)/ He followed the term “al-Qur’an” with the words “the speech of Allah” because of what the Early Theologians had stated saying that the Qur’an is the uncreated Speech of Allah and not that the Qur’an is said to be uncreated. (Ibid., p. 61; underline emphasis mine)

“… And al-Nasafi used ‘uncreated’ instead of ‘unoriginated’ in order, first, to call attention to their oneness in meaning; second, to make his statement agree with the tradition in which the Prophet said, ‘The Qur’an is the uncreated Speech of Allah, and whoever says that it is created is not a Believer in Allah the Majestic One,’ and, third, to take into account the dispute between the two parties on the well-known subject of whether the Qur’an is created or uncreated.So the whole question is to be interpreted as the question of the creation of the Qur’an. The verifying of this matter on which they and we differ goes back to whether or not the Speech of the mind can be established. However, we do not say that the verbal expressions (al-alfaz) and letters are eternal, and they do not say that the Speech of the mind is originated… The Mu’tazilites have inferred that the Qur’an is to be described by attributes which pertain to a created being and by marks which show its origination: that is, such things as its composition and arrangement, its having been brought down as a whole and then revealed bit by bit, 9 its being in the Arabic language, its being heard by the ear of man, and its being rhetorical and inimitable and so on. All this only raises an argument against the position of the Hanbalites and not against us, for we admit that the arrangement of the Qur’an is originated. Our statement [about the Qur’an being uncreated] has only to do with the Eternal Idea.” (Ibid., p. 62; bold and underline emphasis mine)

[83] One of the greatest ambiguities [regarding the Qur’an] according to the Mu’tazilites is stated by them as follows. You [orthodox people] are agreed that the Qur’an is the name for that which has been transmitted to us between the two covers of the volumes by tawatur. Believing this requires that the Qur’an be written in the volumes, recited by the tongues of men, and heard by their ears. All these things are of necessity marks which indicate that the Qur’an was originated. So al-Nasafl pointed out the answer to this by saying,

and it/that is, the Qur’an, which is the speech of Allah

is written in our volumes/that is, with written characters and with forms of letters which indicate it

preserved in our hearts/that is, by verbal expressions which are imagined

recited by our tongues/with letters which are pronounced and heard

heard by our ears/and with these also

[yet] is not a tiling residing (hall) in them/He means to say that in spite of all this the Qur’an, the Speech of Allah, does not reside in the volumes, nor in the hearts, nor in the tongues, nor in the ears; but it is an Eternal Idea subsisting in the essence of Allah. This Idea is expressed and heard by means of the context which indicates it, and preserved by the context which is imagined in the mind and is written by marks, by forms, and by characters which are used conventionally for the letters that indicate the Qur’an. This is analogous to our saying that fire is a burning substance, which is recalled to mind by a verbal expression and is written down with a pen, but it does not follow that the real essence of fire is a sound and a letter.

The verifying of this fact is that a thing has a kind of existence in substances (al-a’yan), another kind of existence in minds (al-adhhan), another in an expression (al-‘ibara), and still another in writing (al-kitaba). The writing indicates the expression, the expression indicates what is in the mind, and it in turn indicates what is in the substance. So whenever the Qur’an is described as one of the things inseparably connected (lawazim) with the Eternal, as when we say that the Qur’an is uncreated, the meaning is its true existential essence in external reality. Whenever it is described as that which is inseparably connected with things created and originated, the verbal expressions which are spoken and heard are meant, as when we say, “I have recited half the Qur’an,” or the expression imagined in the mind as when we say, [84] “I have memorized the Qur’an,” or the characters that are written down are meant as when we say, “It is unlawful for one who is defiled to touch the Qur’an.” (Ibid., pp. 63-64; underline emphasis mine)

“… In regard to the Eternal Speech which is an attribute of Allah, al-Ash’arl took the position that it was possible for it to be heard; and al-Ustadh Abu Ishaq al-Isfara’ini11 denied it. Abu Mansur [al-Maturidl]12 also chose this [latter] position. The meaning of the saying of Allah, “Until he hear the speech of Allah” (Qur’an 9:6) is that he heard that which indicates it, which is analogous to one’s saying, ‘I hear the knowledge of So-and-so.’ So Moses13 heard a sound which indicated the Speech of Allah, but since it was without the means of a book or an angel, Moses was given the special name of ‘interlocutor’ (al-kalim).14” (Ibid., pp. 64-65; underline emphasis mine)

The problem that Murad and those Muslims who hold to this position should be obvious to the thinking person. Muslims will vehemently deny that the Quran is identical to Allah, and therefore this means traditional Sunni theology posits the existence of two uncreated entities. At the same time, one of those entities became a part of creation by becoming a physical book. In fact, the Quran is has been and continues to be instantiated in millions of books over the centuries, and yet Muslims still believe it is essentially one Quran.

Now if Muslims argue that the Quran is not separate from Allah, seeing that it is his eternal speech, and therefore an intrinsic aspect of Allah’s essence (dhat), then they are left with the inevitable conclusion that their deity has in some sense become a part of his own creation, namely, a book produced by human hands. After all, if the Quran is inseparable from Allah that became a book, that means an essential aspect of Allah’s own being experienced a profound change by now attaching itself to the temporal created order.

In other words at a specific point in time, Allah became bound to the limitations of time, space and place the moment his inseparable word became a physical book. This means that whenever someone touches the Arabic Quran or desecrates it either by burning it like the third caliph Uthman did,

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to ‘Uthman, “O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before.” So ‘Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, “Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you.” Hafsa sent it to ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and ‘AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. ‘Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, “In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue.” They did so, and when they had written many copies, ‘Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. Said bin Thabit added, “A Verse from Surat Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur’an and I used to hear Allah’s Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari. (That Verse was): ‘Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah.’ (33.23) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=61&translator=1&start=0&number=510)

Or tearing it to shreds like some of the unbelievers did,

(Of just such wrath) as We sent down on those who divided (Scripture into arbitrary parts), – (So also on such) as have made Qur’an into shreds (as they please). S. 15:90-91 Y. Ali

Or by any other means, they are invariably touching, burning, shredding some aspect of Allah himself. There’s simply no way around this.

Therefore, Muslims like Winter shouldn’t be throwing stones at Christian theology seeing that he and his fellow cohorts live in a frail Islamic glasshouse.

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