CHRIST THE SPIRIT OF GOD
We observe in the next place that another high title given to Jesus by Muslims is ‘Ruh Ullah’ the Spirit of God. Thus in Sura An-Nisa' (4), verse 171, it is written:
إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَى مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ
“Verily the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is the Apostle of God, and His Word which He conveyed into Mary, and a Spirit (proceeding) from Him.” This high title, like the title ‘Word of God,’ has sorely perplexed Muslim commentators who have tried in various ways to avoid the natural inference which it suggests, viz., that Jesus is divine. The titles given to other prophets, such as ' Friend of God,’ Chosen of God,’ Prophet of God’ may be applied to frail beings like ourselves, but the name ' Spirit of God’ given to Christ by Muslims clearly hints at a higher station and a nobler dignity, and witnesses with no uncertain sound to His superiority over all other prophets. Such a person may well be called the ‘Son of God,’ and Christians often wonder why their Muhammadan brethren so object to the latter title, when they themselves have given Jesus a title not less high. Candid Muhammadan writers freely admit that this title ‘Spirit of God’ carries with it some speciality such as can be predicated of no other prophet: thus Imam Razi says that He is the Spirit of God because He is “The Giver of life to the world in their religions,” whilst Baizawi says He is “Possessed of a spirit proceeding (صدر) from God, not mediately, but direct, both as to origin and essence,” and again, “Because He giveth life to the dead, and to the hearts of men.” Yes, this Spirit of God, just because He is divine, is still the “Giver of life to the world and to the hearts of men,” and to-day, as never before, men from the North, South, East and West are being born again into the new life which is in Jesus. The Imam must surely have been reading the words of Jesus in the Injil when he wrote those words, for there we read that Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Again in the Injil it is written, “The first Adam became a living soul. The last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit.” Observe, too, how Baizawi's remarkable interpretation agrees with the words of the Injil. For, what real difference is there between his words, and the words of Jesus Himself, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”? Some modern Muslims, we are glad to learn, admit the heavenly origin of Christ: thus in the Bengali Muhammadan paper ‘Pracharak’ for Posh 1307 we read, “Jesus was not merely an earthly person; He was not born of carnal desire. He is a Spirit from heaven …. Jesus came from the great throne of heaven, and, bringing to the world the commands of God, has shown the way of salvation.”
The Spirit of God must be, like God Himself, eternal; and when we read in the Qur’an that this Spirit was “breathed into Mary,” (Sura Al-Anbiyah' 21, verse 91), and that, as Baizawi tells us, it ‘proceeded (صدر) from God, the conclusion is irresistible that this great person is nothing less than divine, and existed before His entrance into Mary. All this perfectly agrees with what we learn of Jesus in the Qur’an as the eternal ‘Word of God.’Such terms can be used of no mere human prophet, and they point us unmistakably to the fuller teaching of the Holy Bible where Jesus Himself speaks of the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. Thus we read that Jesus prayed and said, “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). But not only does the Injil thus bear witness to the pre-existence of Jesus, but in the Books of the Prophets also we have testimony to the same effect. Thus the prophet Micah writing of the Messiah who was to come says, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Thus it is seen that the eternity of the Messiah is witnessed to by the Scriptures of the Jews themselves who, as a nation, have obstinately refused to recognize even the prophetship of Jesus.
In seeking to deny the divinity of Christ as deduced from the title ‘Spirit of God,’ which Muslims themselves have given Him, some Muhammadan writers have resorted to curious arguments in support of their contention. Thus a recent Bengali Muslim tells us that “Christ is called the Spirit of God because he was created by God”! Such reasoning will scarcely satisfy any intelligent reader, and most people will be constrained to ask whether we are not all created by God; yet who would dare to take to himself the title ‘Spirit of God’? Besides, if the words, ‘Spirit of God,’ mean a ‘spirit created by God,’ then the expression, ‘the spirit of a man,’ must mean ‘the spirit created by a man’—a manifest absurdity. When we see that to Jesus alone Muslims give this high title ‘Spirit of God,’ then it is evident that He is the Spirit of God in a special sense, and it is only a step from this to the fuller teaching of the Injil that He is the eternal Son of God.
Again, it is said that “If the term ‘Spirit of God’ as applied to Jesus suggests His divinity, then we must likewise admit that the Qur’an teaches that Adam and other prophets are divine, for it is written in the Qur’an, ‘God said to the angels concerning Adam, When I shall have completely formed him, and shall have breathed my Spirit into him, do ye fall down and worship him.’” We are at a loss to see how this verse of the Qur’an requires us to believe that Adam is divine; for Adam is not here called ‘the Spirit of God,’ but is spoken of as a man into whom God breathed His Spirit: a very different thing. Such language is nowhere in the Qur’an used of Jesus; but is used of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Thus in Sura Al-Anbiyah' (21), verse 91, it is written, “And remember her who preserved her virginity, and into whom we breathed of our Spirit.” If Christians, because of the language of this verse, had said that Mary was divine, then our Muhammadan friends could legitimately retort that, as the same language is used of Adam, therefore Christians should further admit that Adam was divine; but Christians do not look upon Mary as divine; neither does the Qur’an simply state that God breathed His Spirit into Christ; on the contrary, Muslims call Christ Himself ‘the Spirit of God,’ which is a very different thing. In the same manner it is stated in the Holy Bible that God gave His Spirit to certain persons; but that does not make them divine; on the contrary, it proves that they were something distinct from the Spirit of God. If we say that such a person gave five rupees to a beggar, would any sane person argue from that that the beggar was five rupees?
Thus we re-affirm that the term ‘Spirit of God,’ applied to Christ by Muslims, places Him high above all other prophets, and hints at the great doctrine of His divinity which is so clearly taught in the Injil.