How can God have a Son?

The second in a five-part series by Hicham*

When discussing faith with Muslims, it’s rare for Christians to intentionally bring up the ‘Son of God issue’. Instead, Muslims often introduce the topic by underlining their absolute rejection of it. But this largely comes from a misunderstanding. Muslims wrongly assume that Christians believe that Christ was conceived in the traditional, physical way, and consider the idea blasphemous. Christians must therefore clarify that the title Son of God does not mean that God ever had a physical relationship with a woman. Explain to your Muslim friend that Christians also regard it blasphemous to ever suggest that God had sexual relations with Mary. Here are my tips to the most effective response:

1. Explain what you mean by ‘son’

Begin with the Muslim mind. I encourage every evangelist to study the heart language of the Muslim they are reaching. Research as many metaphors and illustrations linked to the word son as possible. Here is one illustration you might use for an Arabic-speaker. The phrase ‘son of…’ (ibn) is used to signify where a person is from. I once asked a friend about his origins and he replied, ‘I am the son of Tunisia.’ Did he mean that Tunisia had taken a wife? Or that the nation had given birth to him? Of course not! He simply meant that he is Tunisian and has Tunisian characteristics. When the Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God, it means that He has the characteristics of God. Those who speak Arabic will understand the following sentence, فلان عربي ابن عرب (this man is an Arab, the son of an Arab). We use the phrase to emphasise the man’s Arab origin. It is a way of stating that he is truly an Arab. So when the Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God, it means that He is truly God.

‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.’

Isaiah 7:14

2. Unpack the significance of the title

We should not only help Muslims realise that they have misunderstood but provide a positive definition for the Son of God. The title is far deeper and richer than they realise. The prophets Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David and Isaiah would have understood the true meaning of the phrase ‘the Son of God.’ I would highlight the great prophecies of Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 7 concerning the promised child to be born.

The Scriptures testify that the child who was to be born would be called ‘Immanuel’, (which means God with us) and ‘Mighty God’. Point your Muslim friend to the religious leaders’ reaction to Jesus when He claimed to be the Son of God. If you asked any Jewish person before the birth of Jesus, ‘Who can be called the Son of God?’ they would reply, ‘Only someone who is divine, equal to God.’ That is why, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, they accused Him of blasphemy and crucified Him.

3. Challenge the myth: ‘Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God’

Many Muslim friends make this claim. But it is simply not true. Jesus did call Himself the Son of God on several occasions and in many different ways. Draw the enquirer to verses like these: Matthew 16:15-17, Luke 22:70, John 14:1-11, John 10:22-36. The question of Jesus’ eternal sonship should inevitably lead you to talk about His deity.

* Hicham is a believer from a Muslim background, has studied Theology and Islamics and pastors a church in Europe. He’s the author of Your Questions Answered and provides online resources to help Muslims better understand Christ on his WEBSITE. His ministry also has a FACEBOOK page.

NB. This revised article was originally published in awmlink magazine and may be reproduced subject to EDITOR‘s approval and credit line. AWM is not responsible for the content of external sites linked to this article.

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