Rebuttal to William Lane Craig's Divine Insurance Policy Analogy


Bassam Zawadi

Acknowledgment: Thanks to brother Hashim for sharing his thoughts.


One of the most challenging things about Christian theology to swallow is the penal theory of atonement. It is inconceivable to imagine how such a theory denotes justice.

William Lane Craig expresses the problem:

The central problem of the Penal Theory is, as you point out, understanding how punishing a person other than the perpetrator of the wrong can meet the demands of justice. Indeed, we might even say that it would be wrong to punish some innocent person for the crimes I commit!

He then attempts to provide an analogy to make sense out of it:

It seems to me, however, that in other aspects of human life we do recognize this practice. I remember once sharing the Gospel with a businessman. When I explained that Christ had died to pay the penalty for our sins, he responded, "Oh, yes, that's imputation." I was stunned, as I never expected this theological concept to be familiar to this non-Christian businessman. When I asked him how he came to be familiar with this idea, he replied, "Oh, we use imputation all the time in the insurance business." He explained to me that certain sorts of insurance policy are written so that, for example, if someone else drives my car and gets in an accident, the responsibility is imputed to me rather than to the driver. Even though the driver behaved recklessly, I am the one held liable; it is just as if I had done it. 

Now this is parallel to substitutionary atonement. Normally I would be liable for the misdeeds I have done. But through my faith in Christ, I am, as it were, covered by his divine insurance policy, whereby he assumes the liability for my actions. My sin is imputed to him, and he pays its penalty. The demands of justice are fulfilled, just as they are in mundane affairs in which someone pays the penalty for something imputed to him. This is as literal a transaction as those that transpire regularly in the insurance industry. 

Dr. Craig's analogy is flawed on more than one level: 

1) Several factors determine if an insurance claim is successful or not. For example, in the event of 'death by dangerous driving,' there is no escape by an insured (or uninsured) driver from an almost certain jail term. The insurance company will not assume any liability for the driver's negligence and can do nothing to save the policyholder from being locked up. In this instance, the driver incurs liability for his crime. Any negligence in the automobile's operation is thus imputed to the policyholder (driver). The insurance company only imputes certain negligence as outlined in the type of cover (agreement) signed by the policyholder. The insured driver will be held accountable by the court of law for any prohibited act (crime) he committed (e.g., driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc.) This is in no way similar to the example of the Christian faith, where ALL sin is (allegedly) imputed to Christ during his Crucifixion! There are no premiums or excess to be paid and no limits to the types of sins/negligence. It's ALL forgiven in Christian theology. 

2) There is no guarantee that an insurance claim will be successful. Even if the claim is successful and the driver's negligence is imputed (e.g., in a minor accident), the insurance company still benefits from the periodic premium fees (and, in some cases, a compulsory excess) the policyholder pays. In short, no insurance company will assume liability for your actions for free! The insurance company is only willing to have some of the policyholder's negligence imputed to them because they primarily benefit from it more than the policyholder. Hence, it becomes understandable why they would agree to such a thing in the first place. 

We ask, where is the justice in this divine insurance policy, whereby God assumes total liability for ALL the actions of the sinners? 

Dr. Craig responds to the court room analogy of the questioner by saying: 

I think your rendition of the courtroom analogy is somewhat skewed. It's lacking altogether the elements of contrition and repentance on the part of the criminal and the voluntariness of the son's sacrifice, as well as the fact that we are all of us in the murderer's shoes. You also have to be very careful that what you're looking for is really justice rather than simply vengeance. There's a big difference! The more accurate analogy is that the murderer in the story has genuinely repented of his crime and that you, having once been in his place yourself, want the judge to forgive him. But the judge is obligated to see that justice's demands are met. So the judge himself volunteers to have the responsibility of the crime imputed to him, so that he will die in the murderer's place. I think you'll agree that if such imputation is possible, then justice will be served, even if vengeance is not wrought. The real issue, therefore, is imputation.

It's shocking how Dr. Craig said in the end:

I think you'll agree that if such imputation is possible, then justice will be served

Do Christians really believe that if the murderer genuinely repented and then someone volunteered to incur his punishment on his behalf, then that means that justice has been served? That reveals how disastrous Christian theology could influence one's thinking. I have nothing to say to such absurdity except that I pity those who believe such a thing and that I thank God for being a Muslim.



Shamoun and Katz wrote a response to my article over here.


Shamoun and Katz mention the story of the person who murdered one hundred people, and they find it absurd and unjust how he could be forgiven without punishment and with his repentance being (allegedly) insincere.


First of all, justice does not necessarily denote punishment. Suppose a person is genuinely sincere (something God could only judge, for humans cannot only rely on outward actions), and the victims were to be recompensed in the afterlife and possibly even forgive their murderer. Why can't we say that justice has been served?


Shamoun and Katz say that the outward actions of the man illustrate that his repentance wasn't sincere since he killed someone who made him lose hope in God's mercy. First, we can't always judge someone as sincere or not strictly based on one's outward actions. For all we know, the man was so eager and sincere to repent that he probably temporarily "flipped" and killed the guy who made him lose hope in God's mercy since he felt like there was no more purpose to living and that he was already doomed. However, once he realized that there was hope for repentance, he struggled the best he could with sincerity to repent to God. I may identify with Shamoun and Katz on the fact that outwardly, this man's repentance could be viewed as insincere, but at the end of the day, we must read all Islamic literature together. Once we read a verse like Surah 66:8, which states that repentance must be sincere, we automatically understand by reading the hadith on the murderer of one hundred people that Allah understood this man's repentance to be sincere.

Shamoun and Katz, after presenting hadiths showing that a man was forgiven for his fear of Allah, stated: 

Again, this man did not even show any signs of repentance. He merely was afraid of Allah, but he did not say he regretted his actions or tried to repent and restitute anything to those whom he had harmed. Without even being asked for forgiveness, Allah simply forgives him? Is that Islam's superior justice when compared with the biblical concept?

Ironically, Shamoun and Katz are saying what they are saying. They object to someone being forgiven for a sin that he did not repent for, yet they, as Protestants, believe the same thing regarding their faith. Shamoun and Katz don't believe that a Christian is required to repent for every single sin that he commits to avoid hell. Rather, the Protestant Christian is to believe and accept Jesus's sacrificial death, and he is pretty much Scot-free! Yes, sure, the Christian from time to time is said to repent to "restore his relationship with God continuously" (whatever that means); however, Protestant Christians don't believe that if a Christian committed a sin and didn't repent for it then he would go to hell for it or be punished for it since Jesus already took care of that for them according to them. For them, they think that it is justice.

However, in Islam, if one has faith in Allah and commits sins that he did not repent for, then he has a chance of being forgiven (except for Shirk, which requires repentance). Why? It's because he is a believer. Someone in the belief state can receive the blessing of forgiveness even though he might not have repented for that particular sin. Does that mean that forgiveness is guaranteed? Absolutely not, and no Muslim should take such a risk. However, Allah was so pleased with this man's fear of Him (which indicated his faith) that He decided to forgive him. Also, nowhere does the hadith say that the man didn't repent. Where did Shamoun and Katz derive from this hadith that the man never repented to Allah? Wasn't it possible that the man was so scared of the fact that his repentance might have been rejected? Just because the main cause for his forgiveness was his fear of God, that doesn't mean he didn't try to repent.

Also, Shamoun and Katz point out that the hadith states that the man "never did any good deed"; however, scholars have not understood this to mean that the person never literally did any good deeds. The phrase لم يعمل خير قط (lam ya'mal khayran kat) does not mean that the man did not do any good deeds at all; rather, it means that he never did them perfectly and completely. How do we know this? Well, for example, one of the versions of the hadith about the murderer of one hundred people stated that one of the angels arguing about the man said that the man "never did any good deed" (lam ya'mal khayran kat), yet how is that possible when the man sought repentance, which is a good deed itself? Also, how could the man who feared Allah, a testimony to his steadfast faith, not have committed a good deed by fearing Allah?

Below, we read the following hadith: 

Saheeh Muslim


Book 032, Number 6251:

Abu Huraira. reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Do you know who is poor? They (the Companions of the Holy Prophet) said: A poor man amongst us is one who has neither dirham with him nor wealth. He (the Holy Prophet) said: The poor of my Umma would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrecton with prayers and fasts and Zakat but (he would find himself bankrupt on that day as he would have exhausted his funds of virtues) since he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others and unlawfully consumed the wealth of others and shed the blood of others and beat others, and his virtues would be credited to the account of one (who suffered at his hand). And if his good deeds fall short to clear the account, then his sins would be entered in (his account) and he would be thrown in the Hell-Fire.


Shaykh Safar Al Hawali states regarding this hadith:


فهذا لم يعمل خيراً, وإن كان يصلي وكان عنده عبادة، لكن ما كان عنده خير, لماذا لم يعمل خيراً؟

لأن الخير ذهب بذهاب الحسنات، وبقي فيه أثر السجود.


This person has not done any good, even though he used to pray and worship; however, he had no good deeds on his account. Why did he not do any good? That is because his good deeds went away with the accumulation of the bad deeds, and the marks of prostration remained with him. (Source)


Shaykh Safar is saying that this hadith shows a man who, as a result, has done no good because of the outweighing bad deeds he has done; nevertheless, he still did do some good deeds in his life.

Classical theologian Ibn Khuzaymah states (paraphrased): 

هذه اللفظة : ( لم يعملوا خيرا قط ) من الجنس الذي يقول العرب ، ينفي الاسم عن الشيء لنقصه عن الكمال والتمام ، فمعنى هذه اللفظة على هذا الأصل : لم يعملوا خيرا قط على التمام والكمال


This phrase,"never did any good deed" is a form of expression that Arabs used to say in regards to something that is done incompletely and imperfectly. So the meaning of this phrase is that these people did not do good deeds in a state of completeness and perfection. (Ibn Khuzaymah, Kitab Al Tawheed, Volume 2, page 732) 


Shamoun and Katz then cite hadiths that state that Muslims will enter paradise regardless of what happens. Yes, this is true; Muslims will eventually enter paradise. However, that does not mean they can guarantee an escape from punishment for themselves. There are Muslims who could enter into hell for their sins, just as this hadith illustrates: 

Saheeh Bukhari 

Volume 9, Book 93, Number 542:

Narrated Anas:

The Prophet said, "Some people who will be scorched by Hell (Fire) as a punishment for sins they have committed, and then Allah will admit them into Paradise by the grant of His Mercy. These people will be called, 'Al-JahannamiyyLin' (the people of Hell)." 

So justice will still prevail. Muslims would get punished for their heinous, unforgiving sins, yet due to their belief in Allah, they wouldn't deserve eternal punishment, just like the disbelievers. There are also other hadith that state that Muslims who have committed sins will be 'cleansed' by having a more painful death experience or having a punishment in the grave and therefore not go to hell, but the point is that they will be punished for sins they weren't forgiven for, and justice would prevail.

Ironically, it is the God of the Bible who seems to be unjust in this matter: 

Matthew 5:17-20

17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Bible teaches that even if you break the commandments and teach others to do so, you will still go to heaven but in a lesser position and level than those who abide by them. So the punishment for those who break the commandments is, for example, “Besides getting a castle, you would only get a small mansion.” There is no indication that they would even be punished for their sins. Why? Christians say that an innocent Prophet took the beating on their behalf. Wow, what justice was implemented on the sinners, and what mercy was displayed to the sinless!

Shamoun and Katz then argue that Allah rewards people for committing sins. Actually, this is not the case. The hadith actually shows that they were punished for their sins: 

Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: "I know that the last of the people of the Fire depart from the Fire and the last of the people of Paradise to enter Paradise. A man will be brought forth and He will say: 'Ask about his small sins and hide his large sins.' So it will be said to him: 'Did you do this and that on such and such a day, did you do this and that on such-and-such a day?'" He said: "Then it will be said to him: 'for each of your sins you shall have a reward'He said: "So he will say: 'O Lord! I have done things that I do not see here.'" He (Abu Dharr) said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah laugh until his molars were visible." 

The hadith states that AFTER the person leaves hell for the sins he committed, he would be rewarded with paradise (i.e., for his faith), and Allah, out of His mercy, would convert each sin (which the man was already punished for) into a good deed. Then Allah will reward him accordingly for the good deeds he has.

Shamoun and Katz state:


Abu Musa' reported that Allah's Messenger said: When it will be the Day of Resurrection Allah would deliver to every Muslim a Jew or a Christian and say: That is your RESCUE from Hell-Fire. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6665)

Abu Burda reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Apostle said: No Muslim would die but Allah would admit IN HIS STEAD a Jew or a Christian in Hell-Fire. 'Umar b. Abd al-'Aziz took an oath: By One besides Whom there is no god but He, thrice that his father had narrated that to him from Allah's Messenger. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6666)

Abu Burda reported Allah's Messenger 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 6668)

These hadiths indicate that Muhammad actually believed and affirmed penal substitution, albeit a rather perverted form of it!

What makes Muhammad's (per)version of penal substitution so unjust is that these Jews and Christians obviously did not volunteer to take the place of Muslims in hell, which means that Allah is actually forcing them to enter there against their will!

Now if Zawadi thinks that a person who volunteers to incur the punishment of a murderer is absurd and pitiful then what does he do with the teachings of his false prophet who has people being sent to hell in the place of wicked and vile Muslims against their will?  

 Dr. Umar Al Ashqar clarifies the meaning of these hadiths:

Allah, has given two positions to every descendants of Adam: a position in Paradise and a position in Hell. Then whoever is destined to damnation of the kuffaar and mushrikeen will inherit the positions in Hell that had been allocated to the people of Paradise (if their deeds would have been detrimental), and those of the people of Paradise for whom eternal bliss is decreed will inherit the portions of Paradise that had been allocated to the people of Hell (in case they would have believed and would have been righteous). After describing the good deeds that would earn Paradise for the successful believers, Allah, said:


{These are indeed the inheritors, Who shall inherit the Firdaws [Paradise]. They shall dwell therein forever.} (Qur'an 23: 10-11}


Ibn Katheer said, in his commentary on this aayah: "Ibn Abi Haatim said - and he quoted the isnaad going back to Abu Hurayrah - that the Messenger of Allah said:


'There is no one among you who does not have two positions, one in Paradise and one in Hell. The believer will have a house built for him in Paradise, and his house in Hell will be demolished.'


A similar report is narrated from Sa'eed ibn Jubayr. The believers will inherit the positions of the kuffaar, because those positions were created for those who worship Allah alone and do not associate anything in worship with Him, because they did what they were commanded to do as far as worship is concerned, whilst the kuffaar neglected the duty for which they had been created. So the believers gained the share that the kuffaar would have gained if they had obeyed Allah, and they will gain even more than that. Muslim reported from Abu Burdah from Abu Moosa that the Prophet said:


'Some people from among the Muslims will come on the Day of Resurrection with sins as great as a mountain. Allah, the All-Merciful, will forgive them, and will pass (the burden of sin) to the Jews and Christians.'


            According to another version of this hadith, the Prophet said:


'When the Day of Judgment comes, Allah will allocate a Jew or Christian for every Muslim, and will say: 'This is your ransom from the Fire."


This hadith reflects the words of Allah, the All-Supreme:


{Such is the Paradise which We shall give as an inheritance to those of Our slaves who have been Al-Muttaqoon [pious and righteous deeds].} (Qur'an 19:63)




{This is the Paradise which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds which you used to do [in the life of the world].} (Qur'an 43:72)" (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 5/10)


So they will inherit the share of the kuffaar in Paradise. (Umar Al Ashqar, Islamic Creed Series, Volume 5: Paradise and Hell in Light of the Qur'an and Sunnah, pages 238-240) 

Imam Al-Nawawi states:

Its meaning is that Allah forgives the sins of the Muslims and removes it from them and places it on the Jews and Christians its same amount due to their disbelief and sins, so He places him in the hellfire due to their deeds and not the sins of the Muslims, and there cannot be any other explanation for this due to God's statement: "None shall carry the burden of another' (Surah 17:15)

And its possible that the sins being referred to (the ones that Allah will forgive from the Muslims) is because of the cause of the disbelievers, for if they caused it then it will be removed from the burden of Muslims by the mercy of Allah, and is placed on the disbelievers, for they instigated it, and whoever instigates a sin then he would receive a sin on his account for anyone that ever gets affected by it, and God knows best. (Imam Al-Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Tawbah, Bab: Qabul Tawbat Al Qaatil wa in Kathara Qatlahu, Commentary on hadith no. 4971, Source)

 And states: 

ومعنى هذا الحديث ما جاء في حديث أبي هريرة لكل أحد منزل في الجنة ومنزل في النار . فالمؤمن إذا دخل الجنة خلفه الكافر في النار لاستحقاقه ذلك بكفره

And the meaning of this hadith came in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, 'Everyone has a house in paradise and a house in hell'. So when the believer enters paradise, behind him is a disbeliever who enters the hell fire, earning it for his disbelief(Imam Al-Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Tawbah, Bab: Qabul Tawbat Al Qaatil wa in Kathara Qatlahu, Commentary on hadith no. 4969, Source) 

It is also said that the reason this statement was made was to ensure and relieve the Muslims that the house that they have in hell is now filled. This psychologically relieves the Muslim so that he won't think that he would need to have the house filled. However, God filled it with a Christian or a Jew. He did not put them there unjustly but justly because of their disbelief.(See Imam Al-Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Tawbah, Bab: Qabul Tawbat Al Qaatil wa in Kathara Qatlahu, Commentary on hadith no. 4970, Source)

Shamoun and Katz state:

No Christian would claim that a murderer or a defrauder who genuinely repents and accepts Jesus as his Savior from sin and Lord over his life should not be punished (here on earth) because God also forgives him. 

But this is what William Lane Craig indirectly said! He said:

The more accurate analogy is that the murderer in the story has genuinely repented of his crime and that you, having once been in his place yourself, want the judge to forgive him. But the judge is obligated to see that justice's demands are met. So the judge himself volunteers to have the responsibility of the crime imputed to him, so that he will die in the murderer's place. I think you'll agree that if such imputation is possible, then justice will be served, even if vengeance is not wrought. The real issue, therefore, is imputation.

William Lane Craig said this in response to the questioner asking about the courtroom system here on earth. Craig did not limit his response to God and the divine afterlife system.

Shamoun and Katz conclude with the following question:

What is more a reflection of truly divine justice?


·That the biblical God takes the punishment for sin on HIMSELF - making sure that everyone still knows: Sin is incredibly serious. The penalty for sin must be paid. Or,


·That the Islamic god simply forgets about punishing certain sins altogether and let's Muslims into paradise for merely saying the Shahada? Or, as pointed out by certain hadiths, who punishes and tortures Jews and Christians for the sins of the Muslims. To make matters even worse, according to Muhammad there will actually be certain individuals who have not performed any good deeds that will receive a reward for every single sin they have committed! This means that Allah is not simply amoral, but immoral and unholy, a being who perverts justice and promotes wickedness and sin! 

I am surprised that Shamoun and Katz even have the audacity to ask such an embarrassing question publicly. I know that this is what they believe, but to even dare try to defend it is insulting to non-Christians and shameless on their part. Of course, it is UNJUST for God to take the punishment on HIMSELF while we go Scot-free just for believing in it and accepting it. The idea itself is absurd.

As for the Islamic God simply forgetting about sin, well, it's not that "simple." God may punish or forgive it based on the situation at hand. God forgiving a sin may entail justice at times. God in the Old Testament behaves similarly, as shown in Ezekiel 18:22. For believers who "merely proclaim the Shahada," this exposes Shamoun and Katz's ignorance. It is not a "mere" proclamation; it must be a sincere one:

Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 1, Book 3, Number 130:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

"Once Mu'adh was along with Allah's Apostle as a companion rider. Allah's Apostle said, "O Mu'adh bin Jabal." Mu'adh replied, "Labbaik and Sa'daik. O Allah's Apostle!" Again the Prophet said, "O Mu'adh!" Mu'adh said thrice, "Labbaik and Sa'daik, O Allah's Apostle!" Allah's Apostle said, "There is none who testifies sincerely that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is his Apostle, except that Allah, will save him from the Hell-fire." Mu'adh said, "O Allah's Apostle ! Should I not inform the people about it so that they may have glad tidings?" He replied, "When the people hear about it, they will solely depend on it." Then Mu'adh narrated the above-mentioned Hadith just before his death, being afraid of committing sin (by not telling the knowledge).

The testimony has to be sincere. This would save him from abiding in the hellfire for eternity. Just merely saying the testimony and not meaning it does not save someone from the hellfire. Even the hypocrites used to say the Shahadah and not mean it:

Surah 63:1

When the hypocrites come to you, they say: We bear witness that you are most surely Allah's Apostle; and Allah knows that you are most surely His Apostle, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are surely liars.

I leave the readers with the real ultimatum to choose what is more just:

Islamic Concept of God

This God holds everyone accountable for their sins. If they repent, God may or may not forgive them. It depends on their sincerity. If they wrong others and if Allah decides to forgive the sinner who harmed somebody then He could possibly recompense the victim or his family. God loves that we repent and is the All Merciful. However, He is All Just and knows if people are trying to make a mockery out of His Mercy and would therefore not forgive them. Muslims are not completely off the hook for the sins they commit, for they could be temporarily punished in Hell or in this life for their sins.

Protestant Christian Concept of god

This god does not punish those who commit sins no matter what as long as they believe in his lordship. The sinner is not punished for his sins. As a matter of fact an innocent person is punished and executed for the sins that he did not commit. This God NEEDS bloodshed to occur in order to forgive people. Once a Christian accepts what his god has done for him, he is guaranteed paradise without any temporary punishment in hell. This Christian gets off the hook for all the sins he committed such as watching porn, dating girlfriends and fondling with them, staring lustfully at women he is not married to, cursing, backbiting and all other kinds of common sins that people do. 

The answer is obvious, well at least to me it is! 


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