Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Paul and Jesus On Salvation"


Bassam Zawadi

Sam Shamoun replied back to a couple of articles that I have written regarding the concept of salvation in Christianity. His article could be found here 


He says...

It is truly amazing that Zawadi could make such assertions in light of the passages that he quoted. A careful reading of the specific contexts of the verses in question will show that what the Father commanded Christ to preach to the people was to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the One who came to give his life for the salvation of the world, and that he is the One who would resurrect them on the last day:


Then Shamoun goes on to quote Mark 10:45, Mark 14:24, John 3:14-19, John 5:21-29, John 6:27-29, John 6:35-40, 47 & John 6:50-51, 53-58. 


Interestingly, none of the passages unambiguously attribute divinity to Jesus. 

Shamoun sums up the verses he posted by breaking them into three points...

show that what the Father commanded Christ to preach to the people was to believe that Jesus is the Son of God

I have no problem with this assuming we take the Biblical language into consideration. For many others were called sons of God, which indicates that he is a righteous servant of God. 

Shamoun then says...

the One who came to give his life for the salvation of the world,


I believe all Prophets were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to preach the message of God (which is salvation) to the people. Not a single verse quoted by Shamoun says that Jesus DIED FOR THE SINS of the people and that if they believe in that they would be saved.


Shamoun then says...

and that he is the One who would resurrect them on the last day

This does not show that Jesus is God because God gave Jesus the power and authority to do this...

John 6:38-39

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me,  that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day

Indeed it is great honor but does not necessarily imply divinity. 


I previously quoted Matthew 16:27 and Matthew 5:19 to prove that good works play a role in a person's salvation. Shamoun responds back...

The good works that individuals do are not for their salvation, but for their ranks and rewards in heaven!


Would Shamoun like to tell us where a person would be if he had no good works? If someone had absolutely no good works then he obviously would not have any degree of paradise. This indicates that good works do play a role as to where a person would end up (heaven or hell). Some such as Satan could be a believer in Jesus but not have any good deeds, so what will happen to him?


Shamoun says...

Finally, in his haste to "refute" me Zawadi forgot that in some of the passages he quoted Jesus refers to God as either the Father or his Father, further proving that Muhammad was a false prophet. After all, Muhammad plainly denied that his god relates to people as a spiritual father, insisting instead that everyone comes to Allah as a slave, no more and no less:

And they say, 'The All-merciful has taken unto Himself a son. You have indeed advanced something hideous! The heavens are wellnigh rent of it and the earth split asunder, and the mountains wellnigh fall down crashing for that they have attributed to the All-merciful a son; and it behoves not the All-merciful to take a son. None is there in the heavens and earth but he comes to the All-merciful as a servant; S. 19:88-93 Arberry


Shamoun thinks that I necessarily believe in the passages that I am quoting from the Bible and hold them as authoritative scripture. The only reason why I am quoting them is because they hold authority to you as a Christian and I am trying to point out the confusion that exists in the Bible. 

Secondly, its possible in the past that the term "Father" might have been used in a spiritual sense. However, what God is condemning in the context of the verse is the teaching of God begetting a son in the sense that Christians believe. 


Shamoun continues on...

Here is what Jesus says about such a relationship:

"Jesus replied, ?I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" John 8:34-36

A slave has no permanent place in God's house, whereas a son does. That is why Jesus came into the world, to set us free from being slaves and grant us the right to become children of the Most High:

"because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ?Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:14-16

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ?Abba, Father.'" Galatians 4:4-6

Since the highest relationship a Muslim can have with Allah is that of a slave, and since Jesus says that a slave does not have a permanent place, it isn't surprising that Muslims have no assurance of salvation. More on this issue later.

Hence, the NT teaching on God's Fatherhood further proves that Muhammad's god is not the same God revealed in the Holy Bible, the Father of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


If a slave has no permanent place in the family, then what would a prisoner have? See this article


As for Muslims not having assurance of salvation while Christians think they do. The thing is, us Muslims believe that if we live up to the standards that God wishes us to live up to and try our best to keep ourselves within God's law (and God knows our intentions) then yes we believe that we are going to heaven. The reason why Muslims say they are not sure is for two reasons

1st reason:

We are not sure if we are going to become corrupt people later on in the future and stop practicing our religion properly. We do not know the future. 

This same concept is found in Christianity...

 1 Corinthians 15:2

2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.


Notice the condition that Paul puts. He says, IF. Meaning it is possible for some one to leave the belief. How many people claimed to be Christians and now have left Christianity? How do you know you wont be one of them? You do not know the future.

Similarly, Muslims believe that we are going to heaven IF we stick firmly to the teachings of Islam and adhere to the laws set by God. 


2nd reason:

Us Muslims find it too arrogant to come and say "we are saved, we are going to heaven". Us Muslims are humble people. We say "inshallah (by God's will) we are going to heaven"

For Jesus Christ says in... 

Luke 18:14

    14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."


Shamoun attempts to reconcile Paul and James teachings on salvation. Shamoun is arguing that if one has true faith in Jesus Christ then that would automatically result in good works. However, this is not the understanding that one gets when he reads James statements. James acknowledges that even Satan has faith in Jesus Christ and SHUDDERS!...

James 2:19

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that?and shudder.    

So even here we that demons could even have genuine faith in God. True faith in God. Even demons (according to Christians) knew that Jesus was the divine Son of God and that he died for the sins of the world. However do we see demons doing any good deeds as a result of this faith that they have? No, they don't. Their faith is dead. It is useless as James says...

James 2:20

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless


Christians like Shamoun are trying to make it appear that there are different kinds of faith, one that doesn't result in good deeds and one that does and that this is the kind of faith that only born again Christians have and not the demons. However, we don't see James making that distinction. He talks about only one kind of faith and that is basically believing in God (and his message). But then James argues that good works must be done so that this faith won't be useless. Lets see how James concludes...

James 2:24

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.


So we see that a person is rendered righteous by BOTH HIS ACTIONS and FAITH. Why didn't James say "justified by faith that results in good actions"?

Shamoun says...

Clearly then, James is not speaking of doing good works for salvation, that a person must perform deeds in order to be saved or justified.


Its clear from James that he is talking about salvation and being saved...

James 2:14

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?


Clearly, the paragraph is speaking about how to attain salvation. James clearly distinguishes between faith and deeds throughout the paragraph. Clearly, they are two different factors that play a role in the justification of a person before God on the day of judgment unlike Paul who only preached that your faith will be looked at. Shamoun will argue back that this is the faith that produces good works. However, James separated the two and acknowledges that there can be faith without good works, but its useless. While Paul argues that people will only be judged according to their "special" kind of faith that results in good deeds. So Paul only preaches that one factor (the "special" faith) will be how people are justified before God, while James argues that two different factors (faith AND good actions) will be how people are justified before God. James didn't preach for a special kind of faith that would result in good works but that faith is made complete and useful by doing good deeds as a result of having obtained this faith (James 2:22)


Shamoun then goes on to quote a passage to prove his point...

And since Zawadi wants us to quote Jesus to back up Paul, here is what the risen Lord said about a person's justification before God:

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ?Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.'" Luke 18:9-14

The above reference shows that Christ agrees with Paul that a person is justified before God on the basis of his mercy and grace, not because of any righteous deeds that a person has done.


Lets highlight the points that Shamoun didn't emphasize...

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ?Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.'" Luke 18:9-14


The reason why this Pharisee was condemned in the parable is because he used to show off and be proud of his works, which weren't even perfect in the first place because he wasn't being nice to people and used to look down on them. He had no proper character and wasn't humble (these are not good deeds but bad deeds), while the other person had humble and beautiful character and that meant more to God. 

This passage in no way shows the irrelevance of righteous deeds when it comes to salvation, it only proves that good deeds BY THEMSELVES can not guarantee anyone salvation. Secondly, we don't know much more information about this tax collector. He could might as well be doing many good deeds (probably not as much as the Pharisee) but Jesus in this parable was highlighting the humility of the man to his Lord. 

Plus when we read else where we see that Jesus said that justification before God is by FAITH AND GOOD DEEDS...

Matthew 19:16-21

    16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

    17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

    18"Which ones?" the man inquired.

   Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,'[d] and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'[e]"

    20"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"

    21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."


Here we see a man asking Jesus how to attain eternal life. Jesus didn't say "I am going to get crucified for your sins very soon. So if you believe in that you will have eternal life." No, Jesus told him to obey the commandments (good works) and then to follow him, which means to believe in him as a Prophet of God and do what ever he says (faith). 


Shamoun asks...


The obvious question that Zawadi should have asked is if God didn't want perfect obedience then why does he demand that the people repent for breaking his commands? In other words, why would repentance be necessary if God didn't expect his people to perfectly carry out his instructions? Doesn't the command to repent actually presuppose that God does want perfect obedience?


Isn't it obvious that if God wanted perfect obedience then He never would have given us the option to repent and just forced us to completely keep away from sin? The fact that the door of repentance is open is an acknowledgement from God that He doesn't expect us to be perfect and that we will fumble. In Islam we believe that God will reward us for our struggle for perfection. When we commit sin, we get off the straight path. When we repent, we get right back on it. I never said that God doesn't want perfect obedience, but that He doesn't expect it from us since he created us incapable of ever doing so. All we can do is strive for perfection. (Don't Christians believe that we can't be perfect human beings and that Jesus was the only perfect one?) The command to repent presupposes that God wants us to come back and re-strengthen our bond of love with Him even though at the end of the day we will still not be perfect in His sight.


Shamoun then goes on to ask...

Furthermore, God clearly says that a person will die if s/he breaks his commands, which means that God must have a basis to forgive any individual who decides to turn from his/her wickedness.


Why must God have a basis? Can't he do as He pleases? Isn't the fact that he is All Powerful (can't question His authority), All Wise (wise in judging whether the person should be forgiven or not) and All Merciful enough basis?


Shamoun replies back to this saying...

Therefore, if God simply forgives the wicked without demanding that they die as a consequence of their sins then his justice and holiness would be severely compromised.


God says that he will make an exception to those who repent and turn away from their sins. If they don't then they will die. (Ezekiel 3:19; 18:21, 27). The punishment of death will only be upon those people that continue to persist in their sins and don't turn away from them. 


Shamoun says...

Ezekiel himself gives us the solution to this dilemma. The way God is able to maintain his perfect justice while showing mercy and love to repentant sinners is through vicarious atonement!

and further adds...

The fact that God prescribed sacrifices for sin conclusively shows that the righteous were/are not saved on the grounds of their personal righteousness since this couldn't satisfy God's perfect justice. These individuals were/are saved on the basis of God's gracious provision of atonement, which provided a means by which God could overlook the imperfections and sins of a person who sought to live in obedience to God's Law.

and also...

Again, notice just how important sacrifices are for the forgiveness of sins, along with intercessory prayers.


Shamoun is saying that God does not look at the personal righteousness of the individual but at the sacrificial atonement. This completely goes against the logic of not only the Qur'an but of the Bible as well. 

The Quran says that the meat being sacrificed is not what counts but the piety of the person...


Surah 22:37

It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches God: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify God for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right.


We see the same principle in the Bible...


Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
       and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Psalms 51:16-17

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
  you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise. 

Sometimes we see God saying that He does not even want sacrifices at certain times for it won't help...

1 Samuel 3:11-14

  11 And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family?from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, [b] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, 'The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.' "


Leviticus 26:31

31 I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings.


For there are more important things that sacrifices...


Mark 12:32-33

"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."


There have been instances in the Bible where people have been forgiven without offering blood sacrifices... 


2 Samuel 12:13 

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
      Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.

Here we see David being forgiven and he didn't even offer a sacrifice in order to be forgiven. He was forgiven for being sincere in his repentance. John Gill says in his commentary...


Which confession, though short, was a full one, arising from a thorough conviction of the evil of the sin he had been guilty of, accompanied with real brokenness of heart, sincere humiliation, and a sorrow after a godly sort, as the fifty first psalm, that penitential psalm composed upon this occasion shows, (Psalms 51:1-19) :

and Nathan said unto David;
being fully satisfied with the sincerity and genuineness of his repentance, of which he gave proof by words and deeds, and being under the direction and impulse of the Spirit of God:

the Lord hath put away thy sin;
would not charge it upon him, impute it to him, or punish him for it, but freely and fully forgive it, cast it behind his back, and into the depth of the sea; cause it to pass from him and never more bring it against him, and which is the Lord's act, and his only, against whom sin is committed:
(John Gill's Exposition to the Bible, Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13, Source)


So here we see that God fully forgave David for his sin without punishing him or demanding a sacrifice and this was because of the personal righteousness of David. This is all contrary to what Shamoun is saying throughout his article about God needing to punish sinners and needing a basis to forgive. 


We also see that the people of Jonah were forgiven for their sins for turning away from them and God did not demand a sacrifice of any sort...


Jonah 3:5-10

5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

    6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:
      "By the decree of the king and his nobles:
       Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

    10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.


The concept of human sacrifice is alien to the Old Testament and is actually something condemned (especially if it is a Father having his son sacrificed)...

Deuteronomy 12:31

31 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

Deuteronomy 18:10

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,

2 Kings 17:17

They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.


Jeremiah 7:31

They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire?something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.



If it did not even enter God's mind for them to have their sons sacrificed then how could it enter God's mind to have His own son sacrificed

Its not the sacrifice that God was interested in, but the piety of the people. Sacrificial atonements were only symbols and means of people expressing their piety and devotion to God. It was the devotion and piety that pleased God, not the actual sacrifice. 

Then Shamoun quotes Isaiah 53 as a prophecy regarding Jesus. However, this has been addressed here


Then Shamoun tries to show contradictions from Islamic sources regarding how to attain salvation...

The fact is that both the Quran and the so-called sound hadith are full of contradictions regarding how a person is saved. For example, although the Quran does claim that faith and works save a person it contradicts itself by claiming that individuals are actually saved by grace and mercy:

O ye who believe! follow not Satan's footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is shameful and wrong: and were it not for the grace and mercy of God on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but God doth purify whom He pleases: and God is One Who hears and knows (all things). S. 24:21 Y. Ali

The ahadith record Muhammad making the following admission:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The good deeds of any person will not make him enter
Paradise." (i.e., None can enter Paradise through his good deeds.) They (the Prophet's companions) said, "Not even you, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Not even myself, unless Allah bestows His favor and mercy on me." So be moderate in your religious deeds and do the deeds that are within your ability: and none of you should wish for death, for if he is a good doer, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil doer, he may repent to Allah." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 577)

Narrated Aisha:
The Prophet said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one's good deeds will NOT make him enter
Paradise." They asked, "Even you, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Even I, unless and until Allah bestows His pardon and Mercy on me." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 474)


There is no contradiction at all. This can so easily be reconciled. The hadith are basically saying that your deeds on their own will not get you into paradise UNLESS AND UNTIL Allah bestows his Mercy upon you and then will judge you taking them into account. What this means is that we need Allah to be merciful enough to take our faith and actions into consideration in the first place. We can't just go demanding that our actions be put on the scales of justice as we please. 

Shamoun then goes on quoting...

To further substantiate that Islam teaches that a person is saved by grace alone apart from works, note what these next hadiths say:

Narrated Abu Dharr:
I came to the Prophet while he was wearing white clothes and sleeping. Then I went back to him again after he had got up from his sleep. He said, "Nobody says: ?None has the right to be worshipped but Allah' and then later on he dies while believing in that, except that he will enter Paradise." I said, "Even It he had committed illegal sexual intercourse and theft." I said, "Even if he had committed illegal sexual intercourse and theft? He said. "Even If he had committed illegal sexual intercourse and theft." I said, "Even it he had committed illegal sexual intercourse and thefts." He said, "Even If he had committed Illegal sexual intercourse and theft, in spite of Abu Dharr's dislikeness." Abu ?Abdullah said, "This is at the time of death or before it if one repents and regrets and says ?None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', he will be forgiven his sins." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72,
Number 717)

Narrated Abu Dharr:
The Prophet said, Gabriel came to me and gave me the glad tidings that anyone who died without worshipping anything besides Allah, would enter
Paradise. I asked (Gabriel), ?Even if he committed theft, and even if he committed illegal sexual intercourse?' He said, ?(Yes), even if he committed theft, and even if he committed illegal sexual intercourse." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 579)

412. 'Ubada ibn as-Samit reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Whoever testifies that there is no god but Allah alone with no partner and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger and that 'Isa is the slave of Allah and His Messenger and a word which He cast into Maryam and a spirit from Him and that the Garden is real and the Fire is real will enter the Garden WHATEVER HIS ACTIONS." [Agreed upon] (Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi, Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous), 51. Chapter: On Hope; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Notice here that Muhammad is claiming that a person is saved by his confession of faith, irrespective if s/he lived a wicked and immoral life!

To top it off, Muhammad also claimed that Jews and Christians would be punished in the place of the Muslims:

Abu Burda reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There would come people amongst the Muslims on the Day of Resurrection with AS HEAVY SINS AS A MOUNTAIN, and Allah would FORGIVE THEM and He would PLACE IN THEIR STEAD the Jews and the Christians. (As far as I think), Abu Raub said: I do not know as to who is in doubt. Abu Burda said: I narrated it to 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz, whereupon he said: Was it your father who narrated it to you from Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him)? I said: Yes. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6688)

426. Mu'adh ibn Jabal said, "I was riding behind the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on a donkey. He asked, 'Mu'adh, do you know what is Allah's right on His slaves and the right of the slaves on Allah?' I replied, 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' He said, 'Allah's right on His slaves is that they should worship Him and not associate anything with Him. The slaves' right on Allah is that He will not punish anyone who does not associate anything with Him.' I said, 'Messenger of Allah, shall I tell the people that so that they can rejoice?' He said, 'Then they will rely on it.'" [Agreed upon]

432. Abu Musa al-Ash'ari reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "On the Day of Rising, Allah will hand over a Jew or a Christian to every Muslim and say, 'Here is your redemption from the Fire.'" [Muslim]

In another variant from him is that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Some of the Muslims will be brought on the Day of Rising with sins the size of mountains and Allah will forgive them." (Riyad as-Salihin)


Shamoun is just repeating old arguments of the past that I already refuted...


I want to point out to Shamoun that he did not refute the argument that there were others who were sinless besides Christ according to the Bible. He gave a very weak response on that point. 


Feel free to contact me at