Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005) was, in his time, one of the more effective Muslim critics of Christianity that I’d come across, and I suspect he’s been a pathfinder for Muslim apologists ever since. He seems to have spent the major part of his life crusading against Christianity, proving himself to be an avowed enemy of God, even though he thought he was serving him. Although he memorised many verses of the Bible, his poor understanding of it is obvious to any bible-believing Christian, and he doesn’t hesitate to correct we “ignorant” Christians who don’t know our Bible as well as he thinks he does. Being a child of hell himself, he is also responsible for leading many others there as well, as he promotes his false religion of Islam at the expense of the Truth of Christianity. However, his effectiveness has most likely been mainly in the lands of Islam and among Middle Eastern and Muslim communities rather than in the West.
Although he doesn’t understand Christianity, he does bring to bear against us the standard historical-critical theology of Western liberal scholars as well as his own observations based on his experience and, at first contact, can appear to be quite formidable. But Christians have nothing to fear from such enemies; the scripture says “Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them” (2 Kings 6:16 NRSV).
He cleverly portrays his Christian opponents as being absolute fools as he shows them how embarrassingly insufficient the Christian Bible is, especially when compared to the “Glorious Qur’an”. On one occasion, he tells us, when addressing the supervisor of the Bible House in Johannesburg, he quoted in Arabic the “most noble, elevated and sublime language” of the account of the virgin birth of Jesus as described in the Qur’an, and compared it to the “distasteful gutter language” of the Bible account (see Luke 1:35). He then challenged the supervisor, an ordained minister, by asking him which version he would rather give his daughter. The minister, Mr Deedat tells us, bowed his head in humility and admitted: “The Quranic version” (“Christ in Islam” Chapter 5). I burst out laughing as I read this account, a not unusual occurrence in Deedat’s writings, as he heroically does battle with various types of Christians, vanquishing each of them in turn, and leaving them defeated and humiliated, along with the Bible and Christianity itself; and as I chuckled to myself I wondered “Is he for real? Where does he get these people from?”
And as for that Christian minister who abjectly grovelled before Mr Deedat, denying God and the Bible – if he is a real person, he is certainly not a Christian, and he doesn’t believe that the Bible is the word of God. He has denied Jesus before men, so Jesus will deny him before God and the angels, for he warned, “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk 8:38).
Did Jesus Claim to be God?
YouTube has a film clip which has Ahmed Deedat speaking to an obviously Muslim audience. In it he issues a challenge to anybody to give a single verse where Jesus claims to be God. Contrary to what Mr Deedat and the many Muslim apologists insist, that Jesus never once claimed to be God, a simple reading of the gospels will show their claim to be ignorance and wishful thinking at best. But they have to say this because the Qur’an only has Jesus as a prophet. And in the Qur’an, Allah states that he has no son and pronounces a curse on all who say he does. It is understandable that they do not wish to disagree with their holy book, and nobody has a problem with that. If they profess Islam, then they must do what Muslims do and believe what Muslims believe. If they didn’t, they would be unfaithful to their religion. But Mr Deedat and the multitude of Muslim apologists go much further than that and claim that the Jesus of the Bible never said he was God. They speak with an assumed and assured authority about a holy book which isn’t theirs. They claim to know all about the central figure in the Bible – Jesus Christ. And they cherry-pick verses from the Bible which they vainly think bolster their claims; but these verses are taken out of their context and do not mean what these Muslims would have them to mean.
Ahmed Deedat has no right to do anything with or to the Bible unless he is seeking to be right with the God of the Bible. Just like all critics of God and the Bible, he approaches it with a mind already made up. So, instead of placing himself in submission to God’s words, he approaches it with the intention of disproving and even ridiculing it, despite that the Qur’an accepts it as revelation from God. For example: “To thee We sent the Scripture In truth, confirming The scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety…” (Sura 2:48). “And this is a Book which We have sent down, Bringing blessings, and confirming (The revelations) which came Before….” (Sura 6:92).
Mr Deedat can’t learn anything from the Bible because he disbelieved before he’d even turned the cover; he cannot and will not hear what God might say to him because his only reason for opening its pages is to tear them apart. He knows nothing about God or the Bible, but in his pride and arrogance he thinks he knows it all. Even the best Muslim apologists reveal a wrong understanding of the bible and promote wrong theology. But this is to be expected because their sources are all from enemies of the gospel and they don’t read the works of scholars who believe that the bible, despite its seeming discrepancies, is the preserved word of God. Instead of doing honest and legitimate research by reading the defences of the Bible and not just the criticisms of it, they only take those books which support their preconceived unbelieving views and reject all else. So of course they’re going to see the Bible as a hotch-potch of errors which can’t be relied on. And this, no doubt, characterises Ahmed Deedat
Jesus Did Say he is God
Although Jesus did not come to demonstrate his deity, he nevertheless did make this claim on several occasions; but his primary focus was not to glorify himself but the Father, who had sent him to redeem fallen humanity. In prayer to the Father, Jesus prayed, “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do….I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world….” (Jn 17:4, 6). And the apostle Paul tells us of Jesus: “…who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus didn’t claim deity, because he came as a man to die in humanity’s place so that he could reconcile us to God (2 Cor 5:19). But when he returns, the deniers will become believers; but by then it is too late for repentance and they will be lost forever; for Paul goes on to say of Jesus: “Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
Jesus equated himself with the Father
When Jesus healed the lame man at the pool at Bethesda, the Jews (on this occasion the religious leaders) persecuted him because he healed the man on the Sabbath. His response, and then theirs to him, is very enlightening: “For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, making Himself equal to God” (John 5:18).
Jesus knew what he was saying and what his claims signified. Likewise, the Jews, who knew the law thoroughly, also knew what he was claiming. By calling himself the Son of God, he claimed deity. This is evident from the following verses in which he claimed the attributes of God: power to raise the dead and to give life to whomever he chooses (Jn 5:21, 25-26, 28); and authority to judge each and every person who ever lived (Jn 5:22, 27, 29), so that the Father and the Son may receive equal honour (Jn 5:23). When he says “the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing” (Jn 5:19), he is not saying he is less than God. He indicated that despite his equality with God as second Person of the Trinity, he subordinated himself to the Father in order to complete the mission for which he had been sent, as I pointed out in Philippians chapter 2. He shows his equality with God – which means he is God, as the Jews correctly concluded – and that he is separate from the Father. John earlier stated it succinctly: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh, and lived among us” (John 1:1, 14).
It is also significant that Jesus made this same claim after his arrest and interrogation by the Jews. Matthew tells us: “Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God’. Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power and coming in the clouds of heaven’. Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! Why do we still witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death’” (Matt 26:63-67).
So again, Jesus claimed equality with God, not only by claiming the title “Son of God” but also “Son of Man”, a reference to Daniel 7:9-14. And he was consequently sentenced to death for blasphemy. These titles signify his equality with God (Son of God) and his subordination to God (Son of Man).
Jesus claimed to be the God of the Old Testament
On another occasion when Jesus was speaking with the Jews, in response to what Jesus said about Abraham, they said, “’You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, Before Abraham was, I am’. So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (Jn 8:57-59). No wonder the Jews were so riled! Jesus was identifying himself with God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. When God was telling Moses what he wanted him to do, Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name? what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, I AM has sent me to you…..this is my name for ever’” (Exodus 3:13-15).
Jesus claimed attributes and titles of God
But Jesus claimed other names and attributes of God. To start with, the opening words of the Revelation (1:1; also 1:11, 19) tell us that this revelation is given by Jesus Christ; thus Jesus is telling John what to write: a record of the future which is to become Scripture. This is the prerogative of God alone (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21). Incidentally, notice that in Rev 1:1 God gave Jesus the revelation to show to the Church, and in 2 Peter 1:21, the Holy Spirit brings the inspired word to men. Here we see that the three Persons of the Trinity are the authors of Scripture.
Then we hear Jesus saying: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). He repeats this claim in verse 11, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last (KJV)”.
After this (Rev 1:12-16), we’re given a description of a being who in appearance is just like the visions of God given to Ezekiel (1:26-28) and Daniel (7:9-10; 10:2-9). And this being is Jesus. And he again takes to himself the name and attributes of God: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last; and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades” (Rev 1:17-18).
The Old Testament names of God that Jesus takes to himself are found in Isaiah: “Thus says the LORD the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no God” (Isa 44:6; see also 48:12-13).
The Good Shepherd
Jesus said he was the shepherd of the sheep (Jn 10:2), and the good shepherd (Jn 10:11, 14). This is a title of deity. In Ezekiel chapter 34, God rebukes and condemns the leaders of Israel for being unfaithful shepherds of his sheep, the people of Israel. In order to rescue his sheep, God says: “I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness….I will feed them with good pasture….I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…” (Ezek 34:11-12, 14-16). Here is God calling himself the shepherd….just as Jesus calls himself the shepherd. Jesus even said of his sheep, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (Jn 10:28-30). A big claim indeed, and one which only God could make. The Jews recognised that Jesus was claiming deity because “…the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (Jn 10:31).
It is so interesting and revealing that in Ezekiel chapter 34 where God identifies himself as the shepherd of Israel (which title Jesus also claims), he also said he would send an under-shepherd; and this would be none other than Jesus, known in the New Testament as the Son of David. “I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them” (Ezek 34:22-24). This is comparable to Isaiah chapter 49 where God the Father and God the Son covenant that Jesus will be born as a man, and that he will rescue his people; and comparable to Daniel chapter 7:9-27 where God the Father and God the Son appear together and where their people will possess the kingdom (Dan 7:22, 27). Jesus therefore repeatedly identifies himself as God but distinguishes between himself and the Father. He is God, yet a separate and distinct Person from the Father. He repeatedly says that God the Father sent him as his messenger to rescue his people. “They shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord GOD. You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture and I am your God, says the Lord GOD” (Ezek 34:30-31).
Jesus is the only Mediator between God and humans because he is God: “For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all – this was testified at the right time” (1 Timothy 2:5). Of this man called Jesus who was also God, we’re told, “Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He [God] was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory” (1 Tim 3:16).
“’Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means ‘God with us’” (Matt 1:23).
Did Jesus ever say I am God? Ahmed Deedat – YouTube
Strong, J. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (Ref: 5481) in “The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible”, 2001 Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN
“The Scripture quotations contained herein are made from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”