The Objection to the Term "Son of God"

One of the first things a Muslim comes to know about the Christian religion is the belief that God had a wife who conceived for Him a son named Jesus. But you say, "Nonsense! The Bible teaches no such blasphemy." Try to see through the eyes of a Muslim who interprets much of his holy book literally. Almost every piece of literature a Muslim receives from the hand of a Christian includes John 3:16. For most Christians, this one verse represents the theme of the Gospel message. But to a Muslim, it represents something altogether different. The moment his eyes come across the words "that He gave His only begotten son," he thinks, "What? God had a son? Blasphemy! Any mature adult knows that to say God had a son means to say He also had a wife! May God forbid!" And with total disgust, the Muslim tosses the piece of literature to the wayside promising never again to set eyes on such heresy! You must realize that most Muslims from early childhood have been impacted by the teaching that God is one; He has no partner, and certainly no female companion! He was never born; nor does He give birth to other gods and goddesses.

How can He have a son when He hath no consort? He created all things, and hath fall knowledge of all things. That is God, your Lord! There is no God but He, the Creator of all things.
Surat-ul An'am (6):101-102

Say: He is God, the One and only; God the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.
Surat-ul Ikhlas (112):I-4

Of course we cannot delete the term "Son of God" from the Bible no matter how much it may offend a Muslim. But try to be sensitive to his reaction to such a term. For you too would strongly object to any teaching that would suggest God had a female companion who bore Him a son!

How should you deal with this sensitive issue? First of all, it is important to explain to your Muslim friend that this term is not to be taken in a literal sense. It does not mean that God in union with a Goddess had a son. This term is a symbolic or allegorical expression that could mean several things. The term "Son of God" could refer to the special relationship that Jesus had with God. Simply ask your Muslim friend, according to the Qur'an, who is the real father of Jesus? He will most likely know the Qur'an teaches that Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin and therefore had no earthly father. Precisely! The term "Son of God" reminds us that Jesus was not the son of any man. Instead, he came directly from God!

The term "Son of God" also points to Jesus as the representative and heir of God's great power. The Scriptures tell us that God gave Jesus authority to rule over His entire Kingdom. Just as a King hands power over to the heir, the prince, so did God hand over power to the heir, Prince Jesus. And notice that the relationship between King and Prince is father and son. As the "Son of God", Jesus is the representative of God and the inheritor of great power and authority. For this reason, often the term "Son of God" is used in scripture to refer to the Messiah-ship of Jesus. As the Messiah, or the Anointed One, Jesus was to come as a Great Ruler to overthrow the forces of Darkness and deliver the People of God from evil oppression. Thus Peter's declaration: "Thou art the Messiah, the Son of God."

Many Christians feel compelled to continually refer to Jesus as "Son of God" in their preaching and writing, in order to uphold the deity of Jesus. However, there is a much better descriptive term that speaks of the deity of Christ, and that is the term "Word of God". This title is much more acceptable to Muslims because the Qur'an also refers to Jesus as God's Word. Furthermore, most Muslims will agree that the Word of God is uncreated which means it is of divine essence.

Try to avoid using "Son of God" in your initial contacts with Muslim people. There are so many other Scriptural terms to describe Jesus. It is especially noteworthy that in the Book of Acts which records the preaching of the apostles, the term "Son of God" is found only once (9:20); and from the context of the passage, it is used not to address the deity of Jesus, but rather to speak of his identity as the long awaited Messiah (9:22). Notice this varied list of expressions and titles that are found in the Book of Acts to speak of Jesus: Lord and Messiah (2:36); Servant (3:13); Holy and Righteous One (3:14); Author of life (3:15); Holy Servant (4:27); Prince and Savior (5:31); Son of Man (7:56); Lord of all (10:36); Judge of the living and dead (10:42); the Savior (13:23); and the Christ (18:5).

In summary, when sharing Jesus with your Muslim friends, speak of the great power and authority God has given him. Speak of him as God's Holy Servant who came to minister to mankind and to give his life a ransom. Speak of him as the great Prince of Peace who will someday return to establish peace worldwide. Speak of him as the Savior whom God has sent to rescue man from the curse of sin and the works of the devil. Speak of him as the Holy and Righteous One through whom man can inherit eternal life!

Answering Islam Home Page