Paul Derengowski, ThM
Muslims deny the deity of Jesus, there is no doubt. But, have you ever wondered about the Muslim method to arrive at such a conclusion, particularly in light of the clear biblical evidence to the contrary? Usually the Muslim simply alludes to the Koran which denies not only Jesus’ sonship, but his deity, by referring to Allah as the only god who has no parallel or partners (5:78).
Other Muslims, when confronted with the biblical record behind Jesus’ deity, go on a full-scale attack on the Bible, questioning where in the Bible Jesus ever said he was God. The idea for such thinking is to get the listener to agree that so long as Jesus did not say thus-and-such, then the opposite is necessarily true. Jesus never explicitly said, in other words, “I am God; worship me.” Therefore, he was not God; even though the biblical text is replete with statements demonstrating that Jesus was God incarnate (Jn. 1:1, 14, 18; Rom. 9:5; Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:1-ff.; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Jn. 5:20; Rev. 1:17).
What the Muslims fails to realize is that such argumentation is fallacious. It is the classic Argument from Silence which essentially postulates that as long as someone is silent about a particular subject, then whatever conclusions about that person’s beliefs about whatever are justified. For example, a man (John) in mixed company never mentions his wife. Greetings are made and niceties are exchanged, but for two hours during a business meeting he says nothing about her to anyone. After the meeting ends and everyone parts ways, two colleagues in the hallway make mention John and come to the conclusion that since he said a word about his wife, then John must be a bachelor. That is the argument from silence.
Muslims incorporate this same kind of thinking and questioning when confronted by biblical material that undermines their misconceptions about Jesus. The Christian presents a verse from the Bible which demonstrates that Jesus is God—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1)—and the Muslim proceeds to ask, “Did Jesus ever say he was God”? The question not only diverts attention away from the obvious, but to the irrational. Of course Jesus did not say such a thing, but that is not the point. There is plenty that Jesus did say and do, as well as commentary from his contemporaries, which clear points to his deity.
To point out the fallacious nature of Muslim questioning all one has to do is ask, “Is that really the line of questioning you wish to pursue to prove that Jesus was not God?” Most Muslims, at first, have no idea what you are asking, but will soon catch on as soon as you proceed to use their question and method in reference to the person of Muhammad.
Simply ask, “Where in the Koran did Muhammad ever claim to be sane?” or “Where in the Koran did Muhammad ever say he was intelligent?” One question that tends to really drive the point home is, “Jesus claimed to be the truth; where did Muhammad ever make such a claim in the Koran?” If the Muslim does not completely undone, he will quickly change the subject, because he knows that his line of questioning is fraught with problems.
Because following the Muslim’s line of thinking, if then Koran does not record Muhammad saying, “I am sane,” then the opposite is necessarily true, using Argument from Silence reasoning. Muhammad was insane. Or, since Muhammad never explicitly said that he was intelligent in the Koran, then the opposite was true: he was a dolt. And if Jesus was the truth, and Muhammad never said he was, then Muhammad was a lie, if not a liar.
One does not have to be rude or unkind in asking such questions, but he must be firm to make sure that the Muslim understands that the nature of his questions intended to demean the Bible and Jesus are rooted in fallacy. Just because the Bible does not record Jesus explicitly mouthing certain words in the right order does not necessitate that he did say and do other things which point to the conclusion that he was God. Otherwise, Muhammad was an insane moron who could not tell the truth if it jumped up and bit him. But, a reasonable person would conclude otherwise, even though Muhammad was no Jesus.
Arguments from silence are notoriously embarrassing for the person who uses them to draw conclusions. Usually they are born out of ignorance of the facts (e.g, the married man illustration above) or preconceived notions about someone or something, that if found out to be otherwise, totally destroy those notions. And Muslims who use the argument from silence to denounce Jesus’ deity are equally notorious.
Jesus did not have to say “I am God,” to prove that he was God. All he had to do was pronounce the forgiveness of someone’s sins and then heal the paralytic, or the blind, or the lame, to know that only God could do any of those things, and more (Lk. 5:21-ff.). So long as the Muslim, et al, choose to argue from silence, rather than from the explicit biblical record, then counter-questions, using Muslim logic will be necessary to show not only the faulty thinking of the Muslim, but said record showing just the opposite.