If you don’t know who Zakir Naik is, he’s the Rico Tice or Ravi Zacharias of Islam. He’s an Islamic televangelist who reaches millions across the Islamic world, through his own TV channel. He has almost 22 million followers on Facebook. Thanks to youtube, he’s in everyone’s pockets, able to provide quick ammunition for any Muslims looking to convince Christians of their error. A lot of Muslims I’ve met in Ilford have watched him. He makes the argument quoted in the side bar in many of his presentations. Thanks to Zakir Naik, many Muslims are ready to throw down the gauntlet to Christians asking to see just one verse where Jesus claims to be God!
But this is verbal trickery. Zakir Naik is like a fisherman carrying a net with holes 1 inch x 1 inch big. The fisherman then refuses to believe that any fish exist under 1 inch wide, because he’s never caught one in his net! The criterion Naik is demanding as proof is unreasonable. Here’s why:
“There is not a single statement in the complete Bible where Jesus Christ himself says that God is the Creator of all things…”. Should we, therefore, conclude that God is not the Creator of all things?
“There is not a single statement in the complete Bible where Jesus Christ himself says ‘do not worship idols’…”. Should we conclude, therefore, that Jesus Christ is OK with idol-worship?
“There is not a single statement in the complete Bible where Jesus Christ himself says, ‘I am a prophet’”. Should we conclude, therefore, that Jesus Christ is not a prophet?
The answer to all these questions is an obvious “no!”. In other words, by Zakir Naik’s own criterion, he cannot prove Jesus even taught monotheism. Clearly, the type of evidence he is asking for is unfair. There is some intellectual sleight of hand going on. To be fair to Rico Tice and Ravi Zacharias, to whom I compared him earlier, they don’t do that kind of thing.
The way to know what Jesus Christ teaches isn’t to demand he give us direct, unambiguous statements; that’s not how speakers always work. Rather, we need to carefully listen to all that he, and his authorised apostles, have said, against the background of Old Testament Scripture. When you do that, it is clear that Jesus Christ believed God was the Creator of all things, idol worship is wrong, and he is a prophet. But it is also clear that he is much more than merely another mouth-piece for God. For example, Matthew 3:17; Matthew 11:27-28; Matthew 14:33; Matthew 16:16-17; Matthew 21:36-38; Matthew 22:42-45. (There are plenty more verses in Mark, Luke, and John). The Jesus Christ of Scripture is like no one else in all of history, and very different to the Jesus Christ of the Quran.
If you’re a Muslim reading this, rather than listen to Zakir Naik, why not actually go and read the Injil for yourself? We’d love to give you a copy at church.