The Trinity described for Muslims


#1

On the Islam thread dean was asking questions about The Trinity to give an understanding from the Muslim perspective. Dean mentioned that a new thread should be started to discuss it so here it is. This is my response to dean’s questions and statements in one post. I hope this helps a little.

[quote=deen] How else can we take the meaning of “Messiah” and “Christ”? Maybe if we re-investigate the Bible, we might find numerous evidence that these words could not lead to divinity.
[/quote]

The word Messiah and Christ both mean savior, not prophet.

[quote=deen] As for the Trinity. Please clarify your position by answering some of my questions:

Do you believe that Jesus was God-incarnate, full man and full God? If yes, can the finite and the infinite be one? “To be full” God means freedom from finite forms and from helplessness, and to be “full man” means the absence of divinity.
[/quote]

We believe that Christ was The Incarnation of God. They are one person, two natures. One human nature and one Divine Nature. He is fully God and fully man. It does not mean to be free from finite beings. What it means to be God is to be eternal, immutable, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. To say that God could not be a man limits God, therefore your statement is false. God can be man or anything else he wants.

It does not mean the absence of Divinity to be man. What it means to be man is to be created. As I said above, Christ has two natures; one Divine and one human. The Divine one is eternal and uncreated. He is The Begotten Word of God. The human nature of Christ is created.

Now, to say that The Son of God was limited to flesh is a misunderstanding of The Son of God. The Son of God is eternal and became man. He was not created as a man. The bible says “everything was made through Him and nothing that was made was made without Him.”[John1;3] This means that He is an eternal being. If He was created it would be impossible for everything that was created to be created by him.

[quote=deen] To be son is to be less than divine and to be divine is to be no one’s son. **How could Jesus have the attributes of sonship and divinity altogether? **
[/quote]

This is false logic. You start with taking a human term which was used by God and His Son as a form to allow us to understand Him. It is not a literal son as I am of my father.

What it means to be The Son of God is to be “begotten of The Father from all ages”.

[quote=deen] Maybe we can open a new thread about Trinity if you wish to discuss this further.

thx and peace,

deen
[/quote]

Good idea.


#2

Here is a section from the online Cathechism:

scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s2c1p2.htm#232

The dogma of the Holy Trinity

253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity”.83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God."84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85

254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: "In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance."89 Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship."90 "Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son."91

256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called “the Theologian”, entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:
Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together. . . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. . .92

Hope this helps.

Peace


#3

Some of them apparently think we believe that Mary is part of the Trinity (yeah, really). Some of them know that we believe the three parts of the Trinity are really the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit/Ghost…BUT… one friend I had, who knew this, told me that even though this is what Christians claim to believe, it means that by that logic, Mary must also be God because “it is the only logical conclusion, that if Jesus was God, Mary must also be God.”

So I told him that’s not necessarily true. If you saw a child that was black, and then when you met his mother later on you saw that she was white, would you say it defied logic? Children can inherit an attribute from only ONE parent. He just kind of gave me this blank stare and changed the subject.


#4

To believe that Jesus is the begotten son of God or that God has any relatives such as a father, mother, son, or daughter, gives the attribute of procreation to The Creator. Muslims believe this to be polytheism and it is absolutely forbidden in Islam. Likewise, giving attributes of The Creator to His creation is a great sin, which in Islam is clearly in opposition to monotheism. This belief is in contradiction to the teachings of all the Prophets and Messengers of God.

You misunderstand the Trinity in the above post. You mention Christ being The Son of God in a way that would mean that God gave birth to The Son. Your misunderstanding gives the impression that the Christian doctrine is defined under human circumstances and Christ is The Son of God in the same way that I am the son of my father. This is not the way the Christian doctrine is defined. The title “Son of God” for Christ is the closest we can get to the actual understanding in human words. Christ is not the Son of God in the sense that God gave birth to Him or anything like that. God uses words and metaphors that we can understand.

I have had a discussion with a Muslim a couple of times. One of his main arguements against Christianity was similar to the above point. He argued that since God has no sperm, therefore he could have no Son. The problem with this arguement is that it is putting God under human terms. The word “son” is a human word and has meaning in relationship to Gods creation. God uses this word for His Son as a way to give us an understanding of who Christ is.

The Christian teaching is that The Son was begotten, not born which is what I think you are saying we believe. This can be seen in the Nicene creed.


#5

john 8:58
before abraham came to be I AM

john 4:26

i who speak to you am He

john 1:1-5…the word was with God and the word was God

is this hard to comprehend?


#6

[quote=jimmy]You misunderstand the Trinity in the above post. You mention Christ being The Son of God in a way that would mean that God gave birth to The Son. Your misunderstanding gives the impression that the Christian doctrine is defined under human circumstances and Christ is The Son of God in the same way that I am the son of my father. This is not the way the Christian doctrine is defined. The title “Son of God” for Christ is the closest we can get to the actual understanding in human words. Christ is not the Son of God in the sense that God gave birth to Him or anything like that. God uses words and metaphors that we can understand.

I have had a discussion with a Muslim a couple of times. One of his main arguements against Christianity was similar to the above point. He argued that since God has no sperm, therefore he could have no Son. The problem with this arguement is that it is putting God under human terms. The word “son” is a human word and has meaning in relationship to Gods creation. God uses this word for His Son as a way to give us an understanding of who Christ is.

The Christian teaching is that The Son was begotten, not born which is what I think you are saying we believe. This can be seen in the Nicene creed.
[/quote]

Since the word ‘son’ has so many ‘human’ connotations, why not use another set of words to describe the Christian Trinity? Example: instead of God the Father, one could speak of God the Creator; instead of God the Son, one could speak of God the Redeemer; the Holy Spirit might be God the Sanctifier.

Using non-biological/non-familial terms might make it easier for Muslims to understand the Trinity.


#7

I heard a decaon once say that you just need to think in your head that ‘Son of God’ means ‘God’, not really ‘the son’ of God. This just confused me. Has anyone else heard this explanation?


#8

Is God omnipotent? Is it possible that he can have three persons in one being?


#9

Do you believe that Jesus was God-incarnate, full man and full God? If yes, **can the finite and the infinite be one?
**

Yes of course the finite and the infinite can be one. Take for example the numbers 1 and 2. If I put a bound between these two numbers( I start at 1 and move to 2 and can not start or end anywhere else) I have a finite distance. But because there are an infinite amount of numbers between 1 and 2 I also move an infinite distance. hmmm interesting isn’t it.


#10

I can’t explain the Trinity any better than the Catechism of the Catholic Church! :thumbsup:

Pio


#11

[quote=Ahimsa]Since the word ‘son’ has so many ‘human’ connotations, why not use another set of words to describe the Christian Trinity? Example: instead of God the Father, one could speak of God the Creator; instead of God the Son, one could speak of God the Redeemer; the Holy Spirit might be God the Sanctifier.

Using non-biological/non-familial terms might make it easier for Muslims to understand the Trinity.
[/quote]

One problem with this is that what defines and distinguishes the three persons of the Trinity is Their relationship to each other, not to us. We are not the centre of the universe. God is. In any case, there are further problems with your proposal. Did the Word and the Spirit not participate in creation?

Genesis 1:26

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

Irenicist


#12

Hey Jimmy,

Thanks for this thread. I appreciate the replies of all the members. If the Trinity teaches that the three persons are co-equal, what do you think of the following verses which seem to show the opposite?

John 14:28, Jesus said, “…the Father is greater than I.”

John 13:16, Jesus said, "The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Jesus said on numerous occasions that, “the Father… hath sent me.”

John 5:37 The Holy Ghost was also sent by the Father, John 14:26, thus making the Holy Ghost inferior as a co-equal distinct separate person also.

John 10:29, Jesus said, “My Father… is greater than all.”

thx,

deen


#13

[quote=deen]Hey Jimmy,

Thanks for this thread. I appreciate the replies of all the members. If the Trinity teaches that the three persons are co-equal, what do you think of the following verses which seem to show the opposite?

John 14:28, Jesus said, “…the Father is greater than I.”

John 13:16, Jesus said, "The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Jesus said on numerous occasions that, “the Father… hath sent me.”

John 5:37 The Holy Ghost was also sent by the Father, John 14:26, thus making the Holy Ghost inferior as a co-equal distinct separate person also.

John 10:29, Jesus said, “My Father… is greater than all.”

thx,

deen
[/quote]


#14

This is insufficient. If we follow this proposal, the true nature of Christ - his Divinity as well as his Humanity would not be clearly understood and would be vulnerable to cause heretical errors in the understanding of the Holy Trinity. That Christ is both human and divine is central to our faith and understanding of the Holy Trinity.

PAX

[quote=Ahimsa]Since the word ‘son’ has so many ‘human’ connotations, why not use another set of words to describe the Christian Trinity? Example: instead of God the Father, one could speak of God the Creator; instead of God the Son, one could speak of God the Redeemer; the Holy Spirit might be God the Sanctifier.

Using non-biological/non-familial terms might make it easier for Muslims to understand the Trinity.
[/quote]


#15

[quote=deen]Hey Jimmy,

Thanks for this thread. I appreciate the replies of all the members. If the Trinity teaches that the three persons are co-equal, what do you think of the following verses which seem to show the opposite?

John 14:28, Jesus said, “…the Father is greater than I.”

John 13:16, Jesus said, "The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Jesus said on numerous occasions that, “the Father… hath sent me.”

John 5:37 The Holy Ghost was also sent by the Father, John 14:26, thus making the Holy Ghost inferior as a co-equal distinct separate person also.

John 10:29, Jesus said, “My Father… is greater than all.”

thx,

deen
[/quote]

I don’t think the term “co-equal” comes into this. Is the hand co-equal to the foot or the face?

There is a recognized “hierarchy” or “priority” within the Trinity with the Father viewed as the point of “origin”. Orthodox refer to the “monarchical” status of the Father within the Trinity. Catholics rarely use this terminology, but recognize its validity. It doesn’t make the Word or the Spirit any less God, any less eternal, any less omnipotent or any less omniscient. It doesn’t mean that the will of one is subject to that of the other either. The three are one in the fullest sense and so exist in “synthesis”. This is the principal divine revelation to Christianity concerning the nature of the All-mighty.

Again as we are dealing with God here, mere human words are not up to the task of fully describing him. Terms like “Father”, “Son”, “Spirit”,“hierarchy”, “priority”, “origin”, “monarchy”, and “synthesis” used in reference to God should best be understood as analogical symbols addressing how the three persons relate to each other rather than as literal objective descriptions of their reality.

Irenicist


#16

Hi peace be upon those who are righteously guided.
I was going to say that those who claim that Jesus and GOD are co equal making Jesus a GOD then why does he in so many place worship GOD the father.Do gods worship other GODs.

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Mat 11:26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

Look at the commentary about verse:26 in the e-sword bible:
Mat 11:26 - (h) Even so, Father: for so it seemed (i) good in thy sight.

(h) This word shows that he contents himself in his Father’s council.

(i) God’s will is the only rule of righteousness.

Was he co equal to GOD then it would have been his will too.Here it says GOD’s will is the only rule.Not Jesus will.Many places he refers to GOD’s will.
In the garden of gethsemane he falls on his face to pary to who another GOD.Could he not save himself from that distress he was in had he been GOD.it says in the Bible that Jesus thanked the father for listening and answering his prayers:John 11:

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes,
and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that
they may believe that thou hast sent me.do gods send other GODs to do work for them.Many christians claim GOD came down to earth as a human .here it contradicts that he came.Jesus was sent.
read the Next bit very carefully my friends.
Hebrews 5:
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
Had he been GOD he would not need to offer loud criesand tears.This are not qualities of GOD.Also it says to the one who could save him from death.GOD cannot save himself from death he has to cry to someone else to save him from death.Is that who GOD is.GOD Has no beginning nor end, his life is not in the hands of anyone.He alone gives life and he alone gives death.One who begs to him to be save from death is not Equal thus is not GOD.
Think about this for now
Peace be upon those who are righteously guided.
Straightpath


#17

[quote=straightpath]Hi peace be upon those who are righteously guided.
I was going to say that those who claim that Jesus and GOD are co equal making Jesus a GOD then why does he in so many place worship GOD the father.Do gods worship other GODs.
[/quote]

Look, if you are going to insist that Christians believe in three gods, there’s nothing we can do to stop you. The Father is the one God. The Word is the one God. The Holy Spirit is the one God. The three together are the one GOD! (not “gods”). If you can’t wrap you mind around this fundamental notion, then you will never understand Christianity. God (the One, the Only) exists in three “persons”, not three “gods”. The three are the same, one and unique God.

We as individual mortals exist as single “persons”. God is under no such limitations. To insist that because we are single persons, God must be as well is to anthropomorphize Him and to limit Him to strictly human attributes. Now you can accept the Trinity or you can disbelieve it, but there is nothing inherently illogical in belief in the Trinity. When Christians tell you they believe in one God in three persons, you should accept that they do and not insist that they believe in three separate gods instead.

In scripture Christ prays to the Father. To pray is to entreat or ask for something. How exactly do you expect the three persons of the one God to communicate? By barking orders at each other?

Irenicist


#18

This is one kind of error that can result in the misunderstanding / misinterpretation / rejection of Christ’s divine and human natures. That is why it is so important that Christ’s natures should never be disregarded when understanding the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.

PAX

[quote=straightpath]Hi peace be upon those who are righteously guided.
I was going to say that those who claim that Jesus and GOD are co equal making Jesus a GOD then why does he in so many place worship GOD the father.Do gods worship other GODs.

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Mat 11:26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

Look at the commentary about verse:26 in the e-sword bible:
Mat 11:26 - (h) Even so, Father: for so it seemed (i) good in thy sight.

(h) This word shows that he contents himself in his Father’s council.

(i) God’s will is the only rule of righteousness.

Was he co equal to GOD then it would have been his will too.Here it says GOD’s will is the only rule.Not Jesus will.Many places he refers to GOD’s will.
In the garden of gethsemane he falls on his face to pary to who another GOD.Could he not save himself from that distress he was in had he been GOD.it says in the Bible that Jesus thanked the father for listening and answering his prayers:John 11:

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes,
and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that
they may believe that thou hast sent me.do gods send other GODs to do work for them.Many christians claim GOD came down to earth as a human .here it contradicts that he came.Jesus was sent.
read the Next bit very carefully my friends.
Hebrews 5:
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
Had he been GOD he would not need to offer loud criesand tears.This are not qualities of GOD.Also it says to the one who could save him from death.GOD cannot save himself from death he has to cry to someone else to save him from death.Is that who GOD is.GOD Has no beginning nor end, his life is not in the hands of anyone.He alone gives life and he alone gives death.One who begs to him to be save from death is not Equal thus is not GOD.
Think about this for now
Peace be upon those who are righteously guided.
Straightpath
[/quote]


#19

[quote=straightpath] POST #15
Hi peace be upon those who are righteously guided.
I was going to say that those who claim that Jesus and GOD are co equal making Jesus a GOD then why does he in so many place worship GOD the father.Do gods worship other GODs.

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Mat 11:26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

Look at the commentary about verse:26 in the e-sword bible:
Mat 11:26 - (h) Even so, Father: for so it seemed (i) good in thy sight.

(h) This word shows that he contents himself in his Father’s council.

(i) God’s will is the only rule of righteousness.

Was he co equal to GOD then it would have been his will too.Here it says GOD’s will is the only rule.Not Jesus will.Many places he refers to GOD’s will.
In the garden of gethsemane he falls on his face to pary to who another GOD.Could he not save himself from that distress he was in had he been GOD.it says in the Bible that Jesus thanked the father for listening and answering his prayers:John 11:

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes,
and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that
they may believe that thou hast sent me.do gods send other GODs to do work for them.Many christians claim GOD came down to earth as a human .here it contradicts that he came.Jesus was sent.
read the Next bit very carefully my friends.
Hebrews 5:
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
Had he been GOD he would not need to offer loud criesand tears.This are not qualities of GOD.Also it says to the one who could save him from death.GOD cannot save himself from death he has to cry to someone else to save him from death.Is that who GOD is.GOD Has no beginning nor end, his life is not in the hands of anyone.He alone gives life and he alone gives death.One who begs to him to be save from death is not Equal thus is not GOD.
Think about this for now
Peace be upon those who are righteously guided.
Straightpath
[/quote]

Your analogy is wrong. This is not a case of one God talking to another God because THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD.

Take yourself for example. Does your brain talk with your conscience, your soul, for example???


#20

For me, as a muslim, the trinity is difficult to understand partly because I have been used to a simple message…ONE God, unique, nothing like Him. When presented with the concept of 3 in 1, it gets confusing.

Jesus (peace be upon him) was a man on earth, he got tired like the rest of us, felt pain like the rest of us…was indeed like the rest of us (not taking into consideration that he was choosen by God for a special mission). What makes him worthy of my worship?

The idea that God can do anything, Yes its true. Can God lie? I would hope everyone would say NO…but didn you say God can do anything? Yes he can…but God would not do something outside His nature…be a human like us, and then ask us to worship him…


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