Islam and the Trinity

Dan Lenington on February 2, 2016

 

           One concern a Muslim has with Christianity is that it seems perhaps that Christians worship three Gods, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Muslims would say that they are true monotheists because they worship a God who is simply one. To answer this challenge, let’s look at our assumptions and scripture together. Humans can only know something about their Creator God if He reveals it to them. This is because, by definition, God is far more complex than we his creation can imagine. God reveals Himself to mankind in two ways, Nature and Scripture. According to God’s Word, nature can reveal to the careful observer that God is eternal, powerful, and has the attributes of God (Rom. 1:19-20). An infinite universe reveals an infinite Creator; an orderly universe reveals an orderly Creator; an intelligent universe reveals an intelligent Creator; a life supporting universe reveals a wise Creator; and the individuality of the person reveals the existence of an ultimate personal Creator.

           However, some of the more specific details of God’s nature cannot be revealed through the generalities of nature. Therefore, God also uses Scripture to reveal Himself to mankind. Both Jesus Christ and Mohammed claimed to directly reveal the nature of God to humanity through the revelation of God Himself. One key difference between their stated messages deals with the personhood of God. Jesus Christ said that God exists as one God in three distinct persons called the Trinity by Christians. Mohammed living hundreds of years after Jesus Christ disagreed, and said that God exists as one God in only one person. Clearly this is a difference that needs to be addressed. Because God is far more complex than we His creation can fully grasp, let us be reminded again that we must rely on His revelation to understand His nature. Since we have two conflicting messages, they cannot both be right. So we need to examine the evidence given by each messenger to prove their message as the truth. According to history, Mohammed claimed that he received his message from the angel Gabriel in a cave on Mt. Hira on multiple occasion around AD 610. Although he was concerned that his visions were from demons, his wife assured him that they were from God. Mohammed claimed that the books of the Bible were good but corrupt, and that he was the last true prophet. However, Mohammed did not provide any other witnesses that his claims were true. He did not provide any ancient prophecies that predicted his ministry or message. He did not provide any miracles to prove his message was from God.

          In contrast, According to God’s Word and history, Jesus Christ lived from 4 BC to about AD 30. He supported God’s own promise that the Bible would be kept pure and is still pure today (Ps. 12:6-7; Matt. 24:35). So anyone saying that the Bible is corrupt is calling God a liar. Although Jesus claimed to be one with God the Father (John 10:30), He had many witnesses who heard God the Father declare from heaven that Jesus was in fact God’s Son (Matt. 3:16-17). Later, Peter, James, and John were eyewitnesses of Jesus showing His glory as God the Son with the resurrected Moses and Elijah standing there talking with him and God the Father again saying that Jesus was God’s Son (Luke 9:28-36). Jesus could also point to many ancient prophecies that predicted the place of His birth (Micah 5:2), the time of His death (Daniel 9:26-27), and the purpose of his ministry (Is. 53:1-12). Jesus Christ also performed hundreds of supernatural miracles including raising people from the dead (Luke 8:49-56), healing incurable diseases (Luke 17:12-14), and controlling nature (Mark 4:37-41). This difference in supporting evidence for these two men is very clear. Mohammed may have been very sincere but he cannot prove that what he said about God is true. Jesus Christ, however, supplied much evidence both physical and supernatural that what he said about God is true.

                At this point, we must ask what Jesus said about the nature of God. Remember once again that even if it is difficult for us humans to understand, that doesn’t mean it is not true, because God is certainly more complex than our human minds can fully grasp. God’s Word clearly says and Jesus agreed that God is one God (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29; I Cor. 8:6). God’s Word clearly says and Jesus agreed that God exists in 3 persons (Gen. 1:2, 26; Ps. 2:7, 12; Is. 50:1-6; Matt 3: 16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 5:7-8). So if we are willing to believe what God says about himself even if we don’t’ fully understand it, we will have to agree that God is one God who exists in three persons.

                However, it would be nice if we could understand it as best we can. Many have used illustrations like the egg, triangle, or man’s nature to help explain the trinity. Each of these falls somewhat short. Although the egg has three parts which help to make up the whole egg, it has in fact more than three parts. The triangle has three sides that help to make up the whole triangle but each member of the trinity is not a part of God. God is indivisible as a simplex being. Some believe that man has three parts including his body, soul, and spirit. They connect these three parts to the three persons of God and conclude that God has a body (Jesus Christ), a spirit (The Holy Spirit), and a soul (God the Father). While this may seem logical since we are created in the image of God, it fails to account for the 3 distinct persons of the trinity. Jesus was not just a body moving about the earth as a detached part of God. Likewise God the Father is said to be a spirit not a soul (John 4:23-24). Jesus did not always have a physical body (John 1:14; Phil. 2:5-8). The Holy Spirit has an individual ability to feel and speak (Eph. 4:30; Acts 13:2). Finally, man is more likely a 2 part being consisting simply of a material part (body) and an immaterial part (soul/spirit). One passage that helps somewhat is John 14:8-10.

John 14:8-10  Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

From this section of Scripture we can learn 3 truths about the Trinity.

1. Seeing Christ is equal to seeing the Father. Therefore, the members of the Trinity are equal in essence, quality and character.

2. Christ is in the Father and the Father is in Christ. Therefore, the members of the Trinity are fully unique yet fully united in purpose and principle.

3. Christ’s words and works are the words and works of the Father. Therefore, it is accurate to say that all members of the trinity are involved in what one member of the trinity does.