Christianity & Islam: Did the early church believe Jesus was God?

William Lane Craig and Shabir Ally answer a question from the audience concerning the claims of Jesus to be God. In March 2002 Dr William Lane Craig began participating in a series of debates with Shabir Ally on the topic, „Christianity and Islam.” One of these debates was held at the University of Western Ontario on the subject, „Who is the real Jesus? The Jesus of the Qur’an or the Jesus of the Bible?” (Photo of book – www.kalahari.com)

Did the early church believe Jesus was God?

Dr. William Lane Craig: You can show that in the earliest portions of the New Testament documents are materials that refer to Jesus as God and pray to Him as God. And they use Old Testament proof texts about Yahweh and apply them to Jesus. For example in 1 Corinthians 16, you find the oldest recorded prayer of the early church: „Our Lord come,” and this is directed to Jesus, who is called Lord. Moreover, they apply Old Testament proof texts to Jesus. In the Old Testament it says that whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. And Paul, in Romans 10 picks up this Old Testament citation and applies it to Jesus. And this word ‘Lord’ applies to Yahweh, for Jehovah in the Old Testament. He says, „If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead, then you shall be saved”- and then comes the Old Testament proof texts for ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, shall be saved’.

Other examples would be in Colossians 1, in Hebrew 1, in John 1. All of these refer to Jesus as God, or as Lord. They also offer worship to Jesus, regard Him as forgiving sins, you can go on and on… An excellent book on this is by Murray Harris. It’s called ‘Jesus as God in the New Testament’. It is a very fine treatment on this subject, so that your worship of Jesus as God is in line with that of the early church.

VIDEO by drcraigvideos

If Jesus Didn’t Claim to Be God Why Was He On Trial For?

Dr. William Lane Craig: If you look at Robert Gundry’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark, he has a lengthy discussion of the trial scene of Jesus. What it points out is that God of the Old Testament is portrayed as the destroyer of the temple, and also portrayed as the builder of the temple- the accusations brought against Jesus. So, Gundry says on page 900: „Saying Jesus predicted both his destruction of the temple and His rebuilding of another, brings to virtual certainty the entailment of a charge that he arrogated to himself of divine roles. He also shows why it is an authentic saying that Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man, coming on the clouds of heaven, seated at the right hand of power, thereby making Himself equal to God. So, Jesus is making claims that were blasphemous . Merely healing on the Sabbath wouldn’t have led to His crucifixion. As King of the Jews, that can only be explained by His making Messianic pretentions, which is what got Him into trouble with Jewish authorities.

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