Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Biblical Monotheism and God’s Heavenly Throne

Responding to a Muslim Dawagandist’s Objections to the Trinity Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Muslim apologist Bassam Zawadi has come out of his hibernation in order to “reply” to some of the articles which I have written to prove that Islam is not a monotheistic religion, but a pagan/polytheistic faith which Muslims have been duped into believing is the strictest form of monotheism there is. The readers can find the material by checking out Zawadi’s “rebuttals” since he links to a specific article in each of his “responses.”

As time permits I will be addressing some of the points which Zawadi raised, while ignoring the parts that have already been refuted, since it gives me further opportunities to document that Zawadi has no business doing apologetics.

Here I would like to respond to the assertions which Zawadi made against the Trinity and in defense of Muhammad’s enthronement.

Exposing Zawadi’s inconsistencies and his gross misunderstanding and misuse of references

In his “reply” Zawadi seeks to undermine the Biblical evidence for the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, and even cites a couple of renowned NT scholars to do so!

Richard Bauckham said:

In Second Temple Judaism, then, the throne of God in the highest heaven became a key symbol of monotheism. (Richard Bauckham, The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus, page 53)

Marinus de Jong said:

God on his heavenly throne remains the center of all worship (Rev 7:11-17), and adoration of the Lamb in no way endangers or diminishes the worship due him. (Marinus de Jong, God's Final Envoy, page 138)

Although Zawadi didn’t mention it the above quotes, as well his arguments against the Trinity, were taken from the following unitarian article.

This isn’t the only time that Zawadi quote-mined unitarian writings to “refute” the Biblical evidence for the Trinity. Most, if not all, of his attacks against the blessed and glorious Trinity are either taken directly from or are dependent upon the arguments and eisegesis of unitarians, just as the following links testify:

What makes this rather ironic is that Zawadi chided me in one of his “rebuttals” for citing Muslims who reject the hadiths:

My Response:

Of course it is. There is something wrong with Sam Shamoun's whole section to begin with. That is that he assumes that the Qur'an is the only source of religious authority in Islam. He uses foolish arguments put forth by hadeeth rejecting Muslims (who are refuted here) and completely ignores the Islamic orthodox position. (Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "What is the day of congregation?")

Elsewhere, Zawadi labels such Muslims as deviant (which obviously begs the question):

It is indeed very sad and illogical for someone to reject all the hadith of the glorious Prophet (peace be upon him). The movement of the devious sect that began promoting this idea only began around 100 to 200 years ago. These people are coming out and misquoting verses from the Qur'an and giving it a whole new meaning. It is as if every single Muslim from the time of the Prophet until they arose misunderstood Islam. That in itself is an insult because that would indicate that the Prophet was a huge failure in fulfilling his task. The Prophet warned us about people like these who would arise in the future... (Hadeeth Rejecters)

It would seem that Zawadi would be consistent and follow his own advice by not simply quoting from unitarians while ignoring the orthodox Christian responses to the distortion of the Holy Scriptures by such deviant sects (to use Zawadi’s own words).(1) However, as we have said on many occasions consistency is not one of Zawadi’s strong points.(2)

Returning to the issue at hand, since Zawadi’s source quoted only a part of the statements of both Bauckham and de Jonge we will provide the full context so that the readers can see what these authors were actually saying. We will begin by quoting from Bauckham’s latest book since he includes an expanded version of this specific article:

3.4. Conclusion

In Second Temple Judaism, then, the throne of God in the highest heaven became a key symbol of monotheism, representative of one of the essential characteristics definitive of the divine identity. While a few traces of other enthroned figures associated with God’s rule can be found, the subordination of such figure to God’s rule is almost always stressed, while the overwhelming trend of the literature is towards emptying heaven of all thrones except God’s. There is no indication that this was controverted issue, as it was later in rabbinic discussions of Daniel 7:9 and of Metatron. The uniqueness of the heavenly throne of God belongs to the logic of the monotheism that dominated common Judaism in the Second Temple period. (Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel – God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 5. The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus, 3. The Heavenly Throne of God, p. 164; underline emphasis ours)

Bauckham’s point is that the throne of God was one of those key distinguishing features which separated God from all created reality. God’s heavenly throne symbolized monotheism and God’s unique divine identity as the Ruler of all created things. As such to sit on God’s throne implied that the figure in question was fully Divine and shared in God’s own identity. To quote the words of Bauckham:

The symbolic function of the unique divine throne is such that, if we find a figure distinguishable from God seated on God’s throne itself, we should see that as one of Judaism’s most potent theological means of including such a figure in the unique divine identity

35. So, rightly, Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology, 93-4: ‘Texts in which a figure shares the divine throne with God, or is its sole occupant, make a profound theological statement in a Jewish context: divinity could be ascribed to the enthroned figure.’ I would say: ‘divinity must be ascribed to the enthroned figure.’ (Ibid., p. 165; underline emphasis ours)

Here is what Charles A. Gieschen, whom Bauckham cites, says in his book concerning this issue:

“First, the Divine Position criterion: Is the angelomorphic mediator positioned with or near God or his throne? [Alan F.] Segal’s research on the ‘Two Powers in heaven’ controversy has helped to emphasize the interest the exegetes had in a second figure sharing the divine throne in Judaism, Christianity, and Rabbinism. The divine throne belonged to God ALONE. Therefore, divine status is usually accorded to the sole occupant sitting on the divine throne, the one who sits on the divine throne with God, or the one who sits on a similar throne that is alongside the divine throne.” (Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence [Brill Publishers, 1998], Part 1. Introduction, Chapter Two. Nomenclature and Methodology, C. Divinity Nomenclature, p. 31; capital and italic emphasis ours)

It is in light of this key understanding that Bauckham goes on to show that Jesus shares in God’s very own unique Divinity since the NT depicts him as sharing in God’s sovereign rule over all creation:

5. Jesus on the heavenly throne of God

When New Testament Christology is read within the context of the understanding of the Second Temple Jewish monotheism we have sketched, it can be readily seen that EARLY Christians applied to Jesus all the well-established and well-recognized characteristics of the unique divine identity in order, quite clearly and precisely, TO INCLUDE JESUS IN THE UNIQUE IDENTITY OF THE ONE GOD OF ISRAEL. Primary among these characteristics was the unique sovereignty over all things. From the EARLIEST post-Easter Christology that we can trace, Jesus’ exaltation was understood as his sharing the divine rule over the cosmos. Other uniquely divine characteristics followed logically and SWIFTLY, notably Jesus’ participation in the work of creation. Worship of Jesus, as his inclusion in the monotheistic worship DUE EXCLUSIVELY TO THE ONE GOD, followed as the NECESSARY recognition of his inclusion in the divine identity, again primarily in recognition of his exercise of the unique divine sovereignty from the heavenly throne of God. In the present context, we must restrict our interest to the main features of the New Testament’s understanding of Jesus’ exaltation to the divine throne. (Ibid., p. 172; capital and underline emphasis ours)

And now for the context of the Marinus de Jonge quote:

“In Revelation, many scholars have drawn attention to the opening vision in 1:12-16. There ‘one like a son of man’ (Dan. 7:13) appears with a head and hair ‘as white wool, white as snow’ (cf. the description of the Ancient of Days in Dan. 7:9). As often in the Apocalypse, the imagery is influenced by numerous other Old Testament passages as well. The most intriguing phenomenon is the combination of elements taken from Da. 7:9 and 13 to describe a single figure. In Rev. 1:17-18 this figure reveals himself as Jesus (‘I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever’); again divine epithets are used to describe him (‘the first and the last’ – Isa. 44:6; 48:12; Rev. 1:8; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13 – ‘the living one’). Parallels to these portrayals of Jesus are found in descriptions of glorious angelic figures who act as principal agents on behalf of God – a notion finally going back to the Old Testament figure of ‘the angel of the Lord,’ who represents God himself, and who (in practice) was identified with him in contacts with human beings (see, e.g., Exodus 3; Judges 13).”

“Much discussion has been devoted to the question whether in Revelation, and already in Jewish texts, we should speak of a process of ‘bifurcation’ of God (so Christopher Rowland) or rather of an incipient ‘binitarianism’ (so Larry Hurtado and James Dunn). Perhaps we should allow for a great deal of flexibility in apocalyptic imagery and terminology, and regard neither term as quite appropriate. God and the exalted Jesus as his one and only eschatological agent HAVE BECOME INSEPARABLE. On the heavenly worship of God on his throne in Revelation 4 (no doubt exemplary for worship on earth) follows the worship of God and the Lamb in chapter 5. They are praised together: ‘To the one seated on the throne and the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!’ (5:13; cf. 7:10). God on his heavenly throne remains the center of all worship (7:11-17), and adoration of the Lamb in no way endangers or diminishes the worship due to him. The Lamb is pictured in the immediate presence of God (5:6-7; 7:9), even at the center of the throne (7:17). In the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, there is only one throne of God and the Lamb (22:1, 3; cf. 3:21). The danger against which the readers are warned is worship of the Dragon and the Beast (chapter 13; 14:9-12; 19:20-21); they should fear God and give him glory (14:7). At the same time, the seer is told not to worship the angel who acts as intermediary for his visions (19:10; 22:8-9). The exalted Jesus Christ is worshiped together with God and is superior to any angel.” (De Jonge, God’s Final Envoy: Early Christology and Jesus’ Own View of His Mission [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI 1998], Chapter 10. The One God and Jesus, pp. 137-138; capital and underline emphasis ours)

As the readers can see De Jonge’s point is that the reason adoration of Jesus doesn’t diminish the worship due to God is because the book of Revelation depicts them as being inseparable! If Zawadi had bothered to take the time to actually read these quotations in context, instead of depending on a second hand source, he would have discovered that these particular citations do not support his anti-Trinitarian agenda.

However, the fact of matter is that Zawadi is not interested in truth or accuracy, but is only concerned with using any argument or quotation which he erroneously thinks will help him defend his false prophet and false god or attack the truth of Biblical Christianity.

Unfortunately for Zawadi, such an approach only causes further embarrassment both for himself and for the credibility of his religion since his “responses” give us the opportunity to expose his gross lies and distortions. You would think that Zawadi would have learned his lesson by now, but sadly he has shown an unwillingness to learn from the countless times that he has been caught and exposed.

The Exaltation of the Son of God

Zawadi thinks that I am suffering from a severe fever produced by my belief in the blessed and holy Trinity.

My Response:

Shamoun suffers from a severe case of Trinity fever. Whatever passage he looks at, he immediately states "These passages show that Jesus is God!"

The fact is that it is Zawadi who is suffering from some serious illnesses, particularly from Islamiphylis, a common disease among Muslim apologists which causes them to lie and distort scholarly sources as well as the words of their opponents. He also suffers from a bout of Muhammadanitis, which is another common illness that particularly affects Muslim dawagandists. This disease is known to severely debilitate the ability of Muslim propagandists to properly understand what they are reading thereby causing them to write responses which grossly miss the point. This explains why Zawadi is incapable of producing a coherent rebuttal where he actually understands and accurately represents the arguments of his opponents or his own sources.

Zawadi also doesn’t understand the implication of his own statements! Case in point:

Jesus sitting at the right hand of God does not in any way imply that he is God.

On the contrary, it serves to show that he is not God. "To sit at the right hand" is a Jewish idiom signifying the custom of a dignitary honoring someone. If we take the case of a king, it would be the place of uppermost honor for any of his subordinates. Therefore, Jesus' session [sic] merely signifies His exaltation to the place OF HIGHEST HONOR IN HEAVEN, but not that He is God. The Father inviting Jesus to come and sit at His right hand illustrates His superiority over Jesus and Jesus' dependence upon Him. (Emphasis ours)

Does Zawadi even understand what he has written here? Or is he simply parroting the arguments of a unitarian without properly understanding what such statements imply? (It is clear that these words were taken from “Servetus the Evangelical” since it is unlikely that Zawadi, a Muslim, would speak of the Father inviting Jesus to come and sit at his right hand seeing that Islam rejects the notion of Divine paternity or fatherhood [cf. Q. 5:18; 9:30; 6:101; 19:88-95; 21:26]).

After all, if Jesus is exalted to the place of highest honor then this means that Jesus is exalted to God’s very own status and shall therefore receive the very honor which is due only to God! This is precisely what Jesus himself stated:

“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, JUST AS they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23

Jesus says that the reason he will judge is so that everyone (Muhammad included) will honor him, the Son, in the exact same way that they honor the Father.

In light of this how does Zawadi’s argument refute anything? Doesn’t Zawadi see that his words actually prove that Jesus has been exalted to the highest place in heaven so as to receive the highest honor imaginable, an honor which belongs to God alone? Obviously not since Zawadi has consistently shown over the years that he really doesn’t understand what he reads (due to that Muhammadanitis disease that we mentioned earlier, which only the blood of the Lord Jesus can cure).

Moreover, being seated at God’s right hand isn’t simply a Jewish idiom signifying the honor which a king gives to someone. According to the NT this exalted station signifies that Jesus is ruling all creation from God’s very own heavenly throne, a position of authority which properly belongs to God alone. More on this point shortly.

The Father’s Exaltation of the Son – Evidence that Jesus is not God?

Zawadi repeats the lame argument that the Father exalting the Son proves that the Father is superior to him and that Jesus is dependent upon him.

Not only does he fail to explain what he means by superior (e.g., is the Father superior in essence, status and majesty, or in status alone?), Zawadi conveniently overlooks the reason the NT itself gives for the Son being exalted by the Father.

According to the inspired Scriptures Jesus assumed the status and position of a servant in order to perfectly fulfill the Father’s will, a major part of which entailed that he die on behalf of God’s people:

“For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke 22:27-30

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Jesus’ reference to the Son of man coming hints at his preexistence, i.e., Jesus came from some prior place in order to serve, a point brought out more clearly in the following passage.(3)

“‘For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’ At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I came down from heaven”?’ … ‘But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ … Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.’” John 6:38-42, 51, 53-58

In light of Jesus’ voluntary act of humbling himself to become a servant, the Father responded by exalting him to the highest place, to the status he had before he became flesh. In the words of the blessed and inspired Apostle Paul:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though existing in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be exploited, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,” Philippians 2:5-9

This is further brought out by Jesus’ prayer:

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed… Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.’” John 17:1-5, 24

Jesus asks that the Father glorify him – in fact to give him the very Divine glory he once shared with the Father before the world began – in return for having glorified the Father on earth by accomplishing his will.(4)

Hence, instead of exalting himself the Son waited for the Father to glorify him for having humbled himself in perfect obedience to his beloved Father.

The Lord was simply practicing what he had preached to others:

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 – cf. Luke 14:11; 18:14

And what his disciples had taught the Churches:

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Jesus sits on God’s own heavenly throne

Now that we have addressed Zawadi’s gross misunderstanding and/or distortion of the implication of Jesus being exalted by the Father it is important to keep in mind the NT claims that Jesus ascended to sit on God’s very own throne which is located in the most holy place of the heavenly tabernacle:

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” Hebrews 8:1-2

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

The Bible further teaches that the Lord Jesus will sit on a great white throne to judge and determine the eternal destiny of all the nations:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

That it is Jesus whom John sees sitting on the great white throne is obvious not only from the consistent NT teaching that Christ is the appointed eschatological Agent of judgment (cf. Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:22-23, 27; Acts 10:42, 17:30-31; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8, 4:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-3, 9-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), but also from what John himself writes:

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” Revelation 2:18-23

“‘Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.’ … He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.’” Revelation 22:12-13, 20

However, the only way that Jesus would be able to reward every single individual for whatever s/he has done is if he is omniscient and omnipotent. The reason he must be omniscient is because he must know everything a person has said or done, otherwise he will not be able to justly repay individuals for what they have earned and therefore deserve. He must be omnipotent since he must have inexhaustible riches at his disposal by which he can reward every individual for all the good deeds s/he has performed. He must also have the power to bring every person into judgment and subjugate them to his rules and decisions.

Hence, the Lord Jesus not only sits enthroned as the Judge of all creation, thereby performing the very deeds of God, he also shares in the exclusive attributes of God such as omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence!

In fact, the language which Revelation uses to describe Jesus’ role as Judge is the same exact language which the OT applies to Yahweh!

“See, the Lord GOD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:10-11

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." Jeremiah 17:10

All of these texts pretty much show that Jesus shares in God’s unique Divine identity which separates him from all creation. As Bauckham explains,

5.3. Divine sovereignty over all things

That it is on God’s own heavenly throne itself, the throne of glory, that Jesus sits beside God is explicit in some of the texts (Heb. 8:1; 12:2; Rev. 3:21; 5:6; 7:17; 22:3) and should probably be assumed for all. Partly with the exegetical help of Psalm 8:6, this participation in God’s cosmic rule is frequently expressed by the formulae ‘all things’ or ‘heaven and earth’ (or fuller cosmic formulae) or, for emphasis, both. This language, constantly used of God’s relationship with his creation in Second Temple Jewish texts, is significant because IT IS THE WAY THAT JEWISH MONOTHEISM DISTINGUISHES GOD FROM ALL OTHER REALITY (‘all things’), AS CREATOR AND RULER OF ALL. By including Jesus in the full cosmic scope of God’s sovereignty, New Testament terminology places Jesus CLEARLY ON THE DIVINE SIDE OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND ‘ALL THINGS.’ While Daniel 7:14 and Psalm 2:8 provided the basis for thinking of a universal rule on earth of the Messiah (Sib. Or. 5:416; 1 En. 62:6), it is the cosmic scope of Christ’s sovereignty which places it in that unique category which his enthronement on the divine throne in the highest heaven symbolizes. OF NO PRINCIPAL ANGEL OR EXALTED HUMAN IN SECOND TEMPLE JEWISH TEXTS IS IT SAID THAT HE HAS AUTHORITY OVER ALL THINGS OR OVER HEAVEN AND EARTH.

Another way in which the fully cosmic rule of the exalted Christ is stressed is by reference to the subjection of all the heavenly powers to him. The texts portray the submission both of the rebellious angelic powers (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Ascen. Isa. 11:23) and of the obedient ones (Eph. 1:20-21; 1 Pet. 3:22; Ascen. Isa. 11:24-32; cf. Rev. 5:11-14; Ep. Apos. 3). It is noteworthy that specific ranks of angels are those in high authority in the heavens: ‘principalities’ (archai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21), ‘authorities’ (exousiai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22), ‘powers’ (dunameis: Eph. 1:21; 1 Peter 3:22) and ‘dominions’ (kuriotetes: Eph. 1:21). (Ibid., pp. 176-177; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Jesus is exalted above all creation

The NT further teaches that Jesus ascended far above the heavens themselves, a position which makes Jesus higher and greater than every creature in terms of honor, power, authority, glory and majesty:

“and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’ (In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)” Ephesians 4:7-10

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority… Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 2:9-10, 3:1

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

“but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:24-28

“This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” 1 Peter 3:21-22

Richard Bauckham claims that such language indicates that Jesus shares in God’s supremacy over all creation:

5.4. In the heights of heaven

The imagery of height, which we have seen to be important in depictions of the divine throne, also reinforces the New Testament picture of Jesus’ participation in the unique divine sovereignty. He ascended ‘far above all the heavens’ (Eph. 4:10), ‘far above every principality and authority and power and dominion and every name which is named’ (Eph. 1:21). He ‘sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs’ (Heb. 1:3-4). God ‘highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name’ (Phil. 2:9). These three passages are linked by the motif of height applied both to the divine throne which is higher than all the heavens and to the name which is higher than all other names. Probably in all three cases, it should be understood that Jesus, seated on the divine throne above every angelic authority, also receives the divine name, which is far superior to all the names by which God alone names all the host of heaven. These various ways of stating Jesus’ absolute supremacy over all the angels need not be understood as polemical in any way. They simply apply to Jesus the well-recognized ways in which God himself on his heavenly throne was understood as absolutely supreme over all his angelic creatures. (Ibid., pp. 177-178; underline emphasis ours)

Hence, in order for him to share in God’s own unique rule, thereby making him vastly superior and absolutely supreme over every created thing, Jesus must be God in essence. Otherwise, it would be idolatrous for Jesus to be given such a status if he were a mere creature like the false prophet Muhammad.

This concludes part 1. In part 2 we will discuss the worship given to Jesus and the throne of God’s glorious and eternal Spirit.


(1) We are not the only ones to notice just how grossly inconsistent and dishonest Zawadi is. Our dear brother and fellow apologist Nakdimon also noticed it and mentioned just how truly ironic Zawadi's statements concerning Quran only Muslims are in an email that was sent to me:

Hey bro,

I'm reading your article "the Deity of Christ in light of His enthronement" and came accross something very interesting. It is well known, of course, that Muslims claim they love Yeshua more than we love Him because we ascribe to Him humiliation and they try to restore His honor. But this is what Bassam wrote about the Qurani Muslims and you quoted from his article:

"It is as if every single Muslim from the time of the Prophet until they arose misunderstood Islam. That in itself is an insult because that would indicate that the Prophet was a huge failure in fulfilling his task."

Isn't this hard core irony? So to ascribe misunderstanding of the message of Muhammad to the followers of Muhammad is to ascribe failure to Muhammad himself and an insult to Muslims. Yet, this is exactly what they ascribe to Yeshua (Jesus), whom they claim to love more than us. Yeshua was apparently this horrible communicator that couldn't get his followers to stand up for His Injeel and therefore it was completely distorted by this horrible character named Paul, who did manage to be successful in spreading "his version" of the Injeel. So in reality, they love Paul (whom they profess to hate) more than they love Yeshua (whom they profess to love). But in the process, they can't seem to figure out why we are offended and insulted by their stupid line of reasoning.

We couldn't have said it any better!

(2) Nor is logical argumentation since Zawadi consistently misunderstands and/or misrepresents his opponent’s arguments, as well as providing responses that are both fallacious and irrelevant to the discussion.

Just to give the readers an idea of the quality and level of argumentation that Zawadi produces notice this particular response to my assertion that the Quran nowhere specifies the exact day Muslims are supposed to gather for congregational worship:

My Response:

Cleary, Shamoun is ignorant of the Arabic language.

'Al Jum'uah', literally means Friday in Arabic.

For instance, this online dictionary translates Friday into 'yawm al jum'uah', the day of Friday.

Following is the transliteration of the days.

Saturday (Al Sabt)
Sunday (Ahad)
Monday (Ethnayn), could also mean 'two'
Tuesday (Talaata), could also mean 'three'
Wednesday (Arbi'aa), could also mean 'four'
Thursday (Khamees)
Friday (Jum'uah), could also mean 'assembly'

Indeed, the Arabic words used for the days can also have multiple meanings linguistically as I have shown above. (Source)

Zawadi begs the question here since he assumes that the later definition of jum’uah which became attached to it as a result of the Islamic practice of gathering on Friday was part and parcel of the original meaning both before and during the time of Muhammad. However, he has not shown this to be the case since he hasn’t provided any pre-Islamic data or sources written during Muhammad’s time that proves that Friday was called jum’uah in Arabic.

The root from which jum’uah stems simply means to gather, collect, bring together etc., just as the following lexical source shows:

Jiim-Miim-Ayn = To collect or gather, bring together, to contract, assemble or congregate, unite or connect or form a connection, bring into a state of union, reconcile or conciliate, put on a thing [such as clothing article], to compose/arrange/settle, to pray in congregation, determine/resolve/decide upon a thing, agree or unite in opinion, prepare or make a thing ready, dry up a thing, conspire or league with another, coexist with one, to be compact/compressed/contracted, exert one's energy, to compromise or comprehend or contain, enter or go into, to meet or be in company with another. (Source)

As such there is nothing within the word itself which would definitively point to Friday as the day in which Muslims are supposed to gather.

In fact, Zawadi’s list of Arabic names for the specific days of the week actually proves that jum’uah would not have been the original name for Friday. Zawadi has shown that days are listed by their specific order within the week, i.e. Sunday is called Ahad which is the word for one or first since it is the first day. This means that Friday would have initially been called sitta, the Arabic word for six, since it is the sixth day of the week. However, as Muslims of a later period started gathering on this day they decided to call it jum’uah as well. Yet this still doesn’t tell us what the day of congregation in Q. 62:9 as far as the Quran is concerned since the Islamic scripture nowhere tells us.

Zawadi has, therefore, failed to address my challenge which was to prove from the Quran that the day of congregation which is mentioned in Q. 62:9 refers to Friday as opposed to Saturday or some other day. His appeal to traditions which were written centuries after the death of Muhammad does not suffice as evidence for events that occurred during the lifetime of Muhammad.

This is what we mean by the quality of Zawadi’s arguments. It is rather unfortunate that Zawadi is unable to see that his replies are filled with logical fallacies and actually demonstrate that he simply does not comprehend the points and arguments made by his opponents.

(3) Unitarians such as “Servetus” deny that passages such as John 17:5 teach Jesus’ actual preexistence with the Father in heaven before he became a man. They interpret such texts in terms of predestination or foreordination, e.g., Jesus was speaking of the glory which the Father had ordained for him even before the world was. However, the problem with such an interpretation is that Jesus didn’t ask that the Father grant him the glory which was foreordained for him to eventually possess. In fact, the words foreordained, foreknown, predestined etc., do not even appear in the text! The language unambiguously shows that Jesus actually believed that he personally existed and shared the same Divine glory with the Father even before the world was created.

Moreover, unitarians want to have their cake and eat it too since some of the passages which speak of Christ’s descent from the Father or heaven also speak of his return there:

“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” John 3:13

“What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?” John 6:62

“No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” John 16:27-28

“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.’ (What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill all things [i.e., the whole creation].)” Ephesians 4:7-10

Unitarians agree that Jesus actually ascended into heaven and yet they want to deny that he actually came down from there. However, these particular texts will not allow for such an interpretation since Jesus’ ascent is paralleled with his descent. Hence, if the ascent to the Father or into heaven is a literal, actual event then so too is his descent! In other words, just as Jesus personally and actually ascended into heaven he must have also personally and actually come down from there as well.

(4) The Apostle John gives us an idea of the kind of glory Jesus had with the Father:

“So Jesus said to them, ‘The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. And Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.’” John 12:35-46

According to the Evangelist the prophet Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord Jesus and wrote about it in both Isaiah 6:10 and 53:1. However, a closer look at the context of Isaiah 6:9-10 shows that the prophet actually saw Yahweh’s glory when he saw him seated on his throne:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”’” Isaiah 6:1-10

This means that John actually believed that Isaiah saw Jesus when he saw Yahweh sitting on the throne! In other words, if a person were to ask Isaiah whom did he see in Isaiah 6 the prophet would have answered Yahweh God. However, if one were to ask John that same question he would have said that the prophet saw the Lord Jesus in his Divine glory!

Hence, by applying Isaiah 6 to the preincarnate Christ John is basically saying that Jesus possessed the Divine glory of Yahweh because he is Yahweh God (yet not the Father or the Holy Spirit)!

This further explains Jesus’ own words later in the same chapter that to see him is to see God since he is the perfect image of God and the exact imprint of God’s very own substance (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4-6; Col. 1:15, 19; 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). This is exactly what happened when the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus in his preincarnate glory.