4th of a series designed to prepare Christians to discuss their faith with Muslims.
For parts 1,2 & 3 – refer CETF # 50, 51 & 52.
The Triune God and the Muslim Mind
By Fayek Iskander:
Many Christians avoid speaking of the Triune God while witnessing to Muslims. They think that this subject is a stumbling block and therefore we should be wise and not speak about it to them. Indeed, it is a stumbling block not only for Muslims but also for all those who are not born of God in Christ Jesus. Even for the disciples of the Lord Jesus, it was very hard to grasp until they saw His glory and unique personality, and listened to his authoritative teaching.
Here we face the question: “If the tri- unity of God is a stumbling block for almost everyone, should we proclaim this doctrine to them or not?” Well, the answer from the Word of God is clear.
Telling the Jews that Jesus was the Son of God or God the Son was a blasphemy and a stumbling block (see Matthew 26:64- 66). Yet, in preaching the Gospel of Christ to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost Peter said:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ - Acts 2:36.
To the gentiles, the Gospel was also foolishness and a stumbling block. Yet, in a gentile city and to a gentile person, Paul and Silas said to the jailer in Philippi:
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household - Acts 16: 31.
Thus we can see that the apostles of Christ were never so foolish as to try avoiding talking about Jesus as Lord or as the Son of God. Wherever they or their companions went, they preached the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. They knew that only preaching the Lord Jesus Christ would lead people to salvation.What Muslims have been taught regarding the Christian doctrine of trinity is different from our factual doctrine. In the Qur'an, Muhammad teaches that Christians believe in three gods and Allah is one of them:
They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except one God.” (Qur'an 5: 73)
Muhammad also taught that the Christian trinity is Allah, Mary and Jesus.
And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus [Isa] the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, 'Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah'?" (Qur 5: 116)
We know that this is not the biblical doctrine of Tri-unity. We know from the Holy Scriptures that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are three Persons in One God.Muslim thinking and understanding of 'Jesus as the Son of God' is in a purely physical context. When we mention the term 'Son of God', they straightaway think we mean that God got married to Mary and produced Jesus by normal physical union.
To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: how can He have a son [walad] when He hath no consort? (Qur 6: 101)
The Arabic word for 'son' is 'ebn', and for 'daughter' is 'ebnah'. The Arabic word in this Qur'anic verse which is translated into 'son' is 'walad' which means a boy or a girl who comes to existence or life by normal physical union and birth. The verb from 'walad' is 'walada' which means 'to give birth'. The word for 'begot' or 'begat' in the King James Bible, Matthew 1: 2 – 16 for example, is walada in the Arabic Bible.Upon witnessing to Muslims, we need to know that without the Holy Spirit working in their hearts to convict and convince them, we will be unable to bring them to Christ (through the Word of God), who in turn will save their souls. However, we need to talk to them explaining what they can perceive. We can remind them that the Qur'an says:
Nothing [and no man] is like him [Allah] (Qur 42: 11).
Accordingly, everything we know is not like Him. And therefore, we cannot fully understand Him. Since He is the Infinite God, we cannot know everything about Him. Yet, as much as He has revealed Himself to us, we can know Him and think of Him. Every human being is mathematically one. Since the above Qur'anic verse says that no one is like God, it is impossible for Him to be mathematically one. Otherwise, we would be like Him which is contradictory to what the Qur'an says.We can also say to Muslims that God is from eternity perfect, and there is no dispute about that. He eternally loves, talks … etc. Now, this raises a question. Before He created Man and angels, whom did He love or talk to? If we say that He started to love and talk after He created man and angels, He would be imperfect, changeable, depending on His creation. He would be imperfect and changeable because He supposedly was not loving or talking until He created man and angels. He would be dependent on His creation to express His characteristics. We know that God created the universe and the entire creation not because He was in need of anything. He created them to reveal His glory, enjoy His creation and to make Man enjoy the fellowship with Him.
When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? - Job 38:7.The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day to day utters speech and night to night reveals knowledge - Psalm 19: 1, 2.What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honour. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet - Psalm 8: 4, 5, 6.
In fact, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God, loved each other and talked to each other from eternity, without needing anyone else. In the Lord's Prayer, the Son says to the Father:
You loved me before the foundation of the world - John 17: 24.
In the story of creation the Persons of the Godhead talked to each other:
Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image'” - Genesis 1: 26.Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil” - Genesis 3: 22.
Muslims might say that Genesis 1: 26 & 3: 22 do not mean that God is a trinity, but that He speaks in plural form to magnify Himself. This statement is not right. In the Arabic language, a prominent person, such as King Hussain of Jordan, to magnify himself can say, “We, King Hussain.” This kind of speech is not in the Hebrew language in which the Old Testament is written. The best proof of this is that we have kings mentioned in the Old Testament, including proud ones such as Nebuchadnezzar. None of them ever spoke or wrote of themselves in a plural form.Preaching the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, who was delivered up because of our offences and was raised for our justification, is essential for preaching the Gospel.