Debating a Muslim

So, my best friend is Muslim and wants to convert me, but I’ve been having trouble explaining to Him the need for the Incarnation and Death and Resurrection of Jesus. I also have trouble explaining the Saints to him.

I hate arguing by nature. I hate doing this because I am often in doubt.

There is also his questions on the nature of the Trinity. He does not understand how God could be One God, but Three Persons.

Regarding the Trinity, I’d like you to try my example, to see how it works.

That is Siamese Twins. Two persons in one body. I suppose there could even be Siamese Triplets.

My thinking is that the tragedy of Siamese Twins has a silver lining, in pointing to an example of how the Trinity could be possible.

Siamese Twins = two persons in one body.

Trinity = three persons in one Godhead.

Now, why is that hard to conceive? I know that Siamese Twins are not a perfect example to explain the Trinity; just an example.

I have yet an opportunity to try this example which I think better than the three-leaf clover; water-gas-ice, etc.

How about a more dynamic analogy:
Water, flour, heat = bread

You said he is trying to convert you. Don’t get confused and think you are converting him. I wouldn’t debate him in any way. Just tell him if he is really interested in what Catholicism teaches you can suggest a few really good books which could explain things better than you can. Have two or three ready for suggestion on the topics he is bringing up. You are not an apologist or a theologian, so let the ones who are do the explaining in detail. If he isn’t interested in the books, you know his only goal is to convert you, not to understand you, and then you can move on.

If you’re having trouble explaining the Trinity, you’re in eminent company.

This is the how the Trinity was explained to me: water is liquid, water is ice, water is vapor, but it is all water just in different forms. All of them are made from water just in different forms. I hope this helps.

It sounds like he is suggesting that his Muslim faith “makes sense” while the Catholic faith doesn’t make sense. Is that the main point?

I like the explanations offered by Frank Sheed. He has a book called, “The Trinity: Three Persons in One Nature.” Even if you do not share what you learn with your friend, it will be a tremendous gift for you to have a better understanding of your faith. My Mass experiences improve as I learn more about God.

Also, given that God created all - God is unlimited. Thus, no one will ever be able to have a complete grasp of God. If someone thinks they can fully explain God, then they are explaining something else.

He’s not your friend if he is trying to convert you. Neither are you his friend if you are trying to convert him.


What makes you think that? I think the exact opposite (within reason) is true.

He says we are polytheists for saying there are three “consciousnesses”.

Sorry, that’s actually a heresy called modalism. The Church has condemned this interpretation.

But the Church has never offered an actual interpretation either. Probably because it is a mystery that we are not capable of understanding. It has been said, in a semi-joking manner, that nobody since St. Thomas Aquinas has taught about the Trinity without making a heretic of himself - and we’re not sure about Aquinas.

An idea has been put forth to explain why God MUST be at least two divine beings. It is based on the idea that “God is love.” If God is love, and God is eternal, what did God love before Creation? What will God love after the universe goes cold? If God loved only himself, it would be selfish love. Unselfish, committed love requires another entity. Thus, the Father and the Son, who perfectly love each other.

TO THE OP: Don’t worry about the Holy Spirit at this point. You don’t need to demonstrate the logic of trinity, but only of duality. Duality is demonstrated much more easily than trinity, and it is enough to call a unitarian belief into question.

I’m a terrible debator. I often get doubts like the ones I have now.

I see you edited your quote as I was composing my reply. I suppose the original quote said “senator” because of a spell-checker snafu (I once referred to “alcoholically ordained Bishops” instead of “apostolically” for the same reason).

But the essence of my reply stands.

I often get doubts like the ones I have now.

You are attempting to engage a non-Christian in an apologetical discussion. This is one of the hardest things to do (only atheists are more difficult). Most of the Catholics here will only engage protestant Christians, with whom we have much in common (mainly the Scriptures).

What you are trying to do is HARD even for experienced Catholic apologists. You have gone into the deep end of the pool before really learning to swim. It’s natural for you to feel like you are drowning.

Consider me your lifeguard. I have just jumped into the deep end and pulled you to safety.

What do I do? He says I should be able to explain the basics of my faith. I have OCD and panic attacks. I settled down a few weeks ago when I discovered the child marriage thing but now I’m not so sure.

And, I believe, you can do so. You can explain the Trinity. The idea itself is simple (and part of the Creed that we recite at each Mass).

But he’s not asking you to just explain the doctrine, but to defend it. That’s an entirely different thing. Catholics are expected to know the basic tenets of the Faith, but they are not expected to defend them.

Invite him to post his questions here. We welcome Muslims with courtesy (but we see very few of them). Tell him you will follow his threads.

We will explain AND defend the Faith. He might not believe, but I don’t think he will be disappointed.

Okay. Maybe I will. Thank you.

As another example for the Holy Trinity, simply consider in the Sacrament of Eucharist: There is God, as the Eucharist. There is God made Man as the High Priest. And there is man made God as those who fully receive Holy Communion. Three distinct persons that are the same God.

Regarding why the “need” for the Incarnation and the Death & Resurrection of Jesus, please consider the following understandings:

Catholicism knows God creates man to make him share in his blessed life (CCC#1).

I understand this as God is creating an infinite number of friends. In order to fulfill this creation, God remains the all-knowing law-giver and judge to ensure those in the “Friendly” community remain forever friendly. God becomes equal in being to the friends (Incarnation) and demonstrates the way to be eternally friendly by always freely being, and sharing the means to freely be, patient and kind, even in the face of unjust cruelty to the point of death (Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection). God also demonstrates the process of becoming forever friendly through eternal spiration in order to validate the understandings of His Church.

Regarding Saints, here is one concept to consider:
When learning a discipline, although one may want to be as great as the best in the discipline, one may have to learn from intermediaries.
If my child wanted to be as great a basketball player as Micheal Jordan, s/he would have to learn from various players and coaches of various skill levels far less than that of Micheal Jordan. Especially because some of the techniques Jordan uses are too complicated for a young player to understand.
So if we want to be as Loving as Jesus, we are going to have to learn from various people of various loving levels in order to eventually understand all of God’s Teachings/Love.

Also, is there something in particular which your friend does not understand about Saints (Humans who enter into Heaven)?

Thank you very much for sharing the intriguing questions! I look forward to more discussion!

Well, the simple fact is, we’re not. We believe in one God. There are three relationally distinct Persons in One Being. But not three gods. They all perfectly possess the one and the same divine nature.

I think he’s under the (understandable) impression that the person/being ratio must be 1:1. But point out to him this isn’t the case, even in our own experience. A statue is a being. It exists. But it’s not a person. If we can have a being that exists as zero persons, and a being that exists as one person, why can’t we have a Being that exists as Three persons?

We’ve never experienced that, but I think your friend would agree that the almighty God should transcend our experiences.

I also think this analogy by St. Augustine would be helpful to show him how it’s not irrational to say there can be three relationally distinct realities in only one being:

I speak of these three: to be, to know, and to will. For I am, and I know, and I will: I am a knowing and a willing being, and I know that I am and that I will, and I will to be and to know. Therefore, in these three, let him who can do so perceive how inseparable a life there is, one life and one mind and one essence, and finally how inseparable a distinction there is, and yet there is a distinction. Surely a man stands face to face with himself. Let him take heed of himself, and look there, and tell me. But when he has discovered any of these and is ready to speak, let him not think that he has found that immutable being which is above all these, which is immutably, and knows immutably, and wills immutably.

In God, the Father is the being one, the Son is the knowing one, and the Holy Spirit is the willing one. Just like in us, these three are really distinct, but they also subsist in one being.

Now obviously this isn’t perfect, no analogy is. Our knowing, being, and willing are not each infinite as the persons of God are. They subsist in one being in us, but they are not persons.

None of this will probably convince him, but I think if you give him these two examples, it might help him see why we’re not polytheists.

You posed what I thought was an easy question above. Before creation God loved his Son and the creation he knew was to come.

OP do invite your friend to the forums here. If he is sincerely interested in knowing more rather than converting you he will oblige. Beware if he chooses to stay clear.

Catholics are not supposed to proselytize. We are supposed to evangelize. Pope Francis has spoken out about this. To evangelize is to invite.

Trying to convert someone on the other hand, disrespects their freedom. The entire friendship becomes clouded by the agenda to convert. I don’t trust anyone who conversion of my faith as their goal. They are not really my friend because they don’t respect my freedom to believe what I have chosen to believe.


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