Let’s briefly refute the assertions made by Deedat and Abdullah noted in the first post in this series. Note that Deedat repeated these errors ad nauseum: as far as I can tell, he never accepted correction on these issues, but repeated the same errors throughout his entire life.
1) “The context of the verse talks about an unbelieving Thomas being surprised when Jesus offers him evidence.” False. There is nothing about “surprise” in the text. Deedat is begging the issue, inserting at the start what he ends up “finding” at the end. Circular argumentation.
2) “The exclamation, “My God,” on his part was just astonishment. We use such exclamations everyday while talking to people. This doesn’t mean that the person we are talking to is God.” A common aspect of Deedat’s presentation is this kind of fallacious argumentation. No one, of course, is arguing that because Thomas was allegedly surprised, this means Jesus is God. This kind of statement fills Deedat’s lectures, yet, the only person influenced by such disjointed, illogical statements are weak minded individuals who cannot think through what is being presented. While we use exclamations every day, we are not in Thomas’ position; further, the text says Thomas was addressing Jesus directly. Exclamations are not addressed to anyone; the text says Thomas’ words are directly related to what Jesus said (“answered”); exclamations require no connection, thought wise, to what comes before. There is no foundation for Deedat’s claims.
3) “For example, I see John cutting his wrist with a Rambo knife. I say: “My God, John what are you doing?” Do I mean that John is God? Of course not. Similar is the use of the expression by Thomas.” Of course, a complete non sequitur for there is no parallel to the text in John 20:28. Jesus was not cutting Himself with a knife; Thomas had been told Jesus had risen; Jesus had invited Thomas to examine the proof of His risen body; Thomas responds not by saying “My God!” but “My Lord and my God,” which is a completely different phrase; and Jesus then blesses the confession of faith on Thomas’ part. Pure falsehood on Deedat’s part.
4) “If you go into Jewish or Muslim societies even today, you’ll hear people exclaim “My God, my Lord,” at every situation which surprises them or causes them anguish or is astonishing.” And I’m sure they are all standing before Saviors who have risen from the dead and provided then with proof of His resurrection. Sorry, but I have never heard such phraseology used by any Jew or Muslim.
5) “In the verse above Thomas says: “My God, my Lord.” He was not claiming that Jesus was his (1) God and (2) Lord. If he did then the church and the disciples should have stamped him as a heretic right there and then. Because claiming that Jesus is Lord and God is a violation of Christian doctrine, which asserts that there is One God, the Father and One Lord, Jesus. Jesus can’t be God and Lord.” Pure ignorance or deception, depending. While qeo,j (theos) is normatively used of the Father, and ku,rioj (kurios) is used of Christ, there are exceptions. For this passage to violate the distinction between the Persons Thomas would have had to say, “You are the Father, the Son, and the Spirit!” or in some other way confound the divine Persons. Calling Jesus “my God and my Lord” does not identify Jesus as the Father. Hence, Deedat is shown to be in error once again.
Now lets move to Abdullah’s claims:
1) “This verse is at best an example of an “implicit” affirmation of a “Duality.” This is because this verse appears to imply that Thomas thought that Jesus was God Almighty.” I assume he means by this “duality” instead of “Trinity”? In any case, no one claims the text proves the entirety of the Trinity doctrine. The issue is the deity of Christ.
2) “Firstly, the phrase ‘Thomas answered’ is somewhat misleading since nowhere before this verses [sic] was Thomas asked a question.” This assumes the Greek term requires a preceding question, which it does not. Abdullah simply does not understand the original text.
3) “Thomas’ words could more appropriately be referred to as an “outburst” or an “exclamation.” This is indeed why most translations of the Bible (excluding the King James Version) follow this exclamation with an “exclamation mark” as follows: “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God ! “” This is irrelevant to both the meaning of the text as well as the object. If Thomas addressed Christ as his Lord and God, what other punctuation mark are you going to place at the end of such a declaration? If Thomas said, “You are worthy, O Lord!” would that not also be punctuated in the same fashion?
4) “In other words, this was an outburst designed to display surprise and disbelief rather than an affirmation that Jesus was in fact God ‘the Father.'” This is calling white black and black white. The text has Jesus identifying Thomas’ words as a statement of faith and commending him for it (20:29), and Abdullah has it as a statement of disbelief. You can’t get it any more backwards than what we see here.
5) Abdullah demonstrates a very disturbing trend amongst Muslim apologists in that he, like almost every other prominent apologist I have yet encountered, shows an abysmal lack of understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Either they do not understand it, or they do not even care to put forth the effort to accurately represent it, or, at worse, they are dishonest and deceptive. He cites “No one has seen God at any time” from John 1:18, for example, ignoring the rest of the sentence, which, as found in the NET, reads, “The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.” Assuming unitarianism and then forcing that on Trinitarianism will, of course, produce mass confusion. John’s whole point from the Prologue onward has been the fact that the Logos made flesh has made the Father, who has not been seen, known. Hence, Abdullah’s entire objection at this point is based solely upon shadows and misunderstandings, and is irrelevant to the matter at hand.
Now at this point Abdullah begins to summarize a single paragraph from Bart Ehrman’s The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, the anti-Christian bible of Muslim apologists worldwide. A single paragraph. And here it is as it appears in Ehrman’s work:
Another passage that can be taken to suggest that Christ is “God” himself (i.e., o` qeo,j, with the article) occurs near the end of the Fourth Gospel, and here again one should not be surprised to find scribes modifying the text. Upon seeing the resurrected Jesus, Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God” (o` qeo,j mou). The passage has caused interpreters problems over the years; Theodore of Mopsuestia argued that the words were not addressed directly to Jesus but were uttered in praise of God the Father. Modern commentators have also found the phrasing problematic, because unlike the statement of 1:1, where the Word is qeo,j (without the article), here Jesus is expressly entitled o` qeo,j. How can one avoid drawing from this designation the conclusion that he is the one and only “God”? Several scribes of the early church adroitly handled the matter in what can be construed as an anti-Patripassianist corruption: the predecessor of codex Bezae and other Gospel manuscripts simply omitted the article. Jesus is divine, but he is not the one “God” himself. (Bart Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, p. 266).
Let’s summarize the argument here and address it in our next installment:
1) qeo,j without the article means merely “divine” and not truly “deity” or “God.”
2) “Scribes” modified the text (i.e., more than one).
3) Theodore of Mopsuestia is an important, relevant, unbiased early writer who is a valuable witness to the text.
4) Codex Bezae and its predecessors testify to a revision of the text for theological purposes.
What shall we say to these things? Believe me, we have much to say. Stay tuned.