UI – 167 – Islam & Trinity (I)
This is the first of a 4 part series on this topic.
Islam makes the claim the Trinity[i] represents a polytheistic belief system. They assert Christians worship a plural God, that of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In my view, it is an uninformed and ill-conceived opinion. If Muhammad and not subsequent chosen leaders of the belief system of the Brothers of Ishmael, subsequent to Muhammad’s death, Caliphs, Sahaba, Ulema and/or authors of Hadiths, was the source that promulgated this notion he was either miss-informed, lacked understanding, confused or just denied the relationships. His successors did little to alter the notion.
It was decades after Muhammad died before a Quran was commonly available. The Uthman (Caliph #3) Quran possibly distributed about 660AD or so was followed by another produced by Al-Malik (Caliph #5) in the late 600’s.
The perverseness of this purported Islamic truth denying the three persons (call them attributes) of God needs examination. Careful scrutiny of anything Islamic is generally condemned by the scholars of this ideology. It is now prejudged.
’O people of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion, nor utter anything concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and do not say ‘Three’. Desist; it will be better for you. Allah is only One god. . . . The Messiah would never have scorned to be a slave of Allah.’ (Surat al-Nisa, 171-2)(sura 4.171)
Note the warning or threat – “Desist, it will be better for you.”
Monarchy in Heaven
The religious scholar Tertullian[ii] (160-225AD) is credited with developing and expounding upon the expressions of the Trinity as a relationship between supernatural elements that make-up the Monarchy in Heaven. Trinity is not a biblical term. The Bible does discuss the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as relationally significant. The argument for confusion on the part of the Muslims is the reference to the Trinity as Father, Son and Mary, the Holy Spirit component missed.
View heaven, the eternal kingdom, as a Monarchy. Besides God, there are angels, many angels. The Monarchy is the sole government of God. (You might say the “soul” government of God).
Intent to Discuss and Clarity the Trinity
I will attempt here to initiate a discussion to clarify Tertullian’s Trinity. I invite others to comment and assist in elucidation. The most applicable verbal expressions to be fully considered are “Reason”, “Word”, and “Wisdom”. It will show that Christianity is not polytheistic even though the term Trinity has become a component of doctrine. The term ‘Trinity’ as defined, besides the Christian faith expression, is a group of three. Trinity is not God, it is a term that enhances the knowledge and awareness of the relationship between the essences of God in our lives.
We begin with Creation. For the Muslim and Christian God and Allah were as one, the Creator. A question to ask is was God alone at the moment of the Big Bang?
The Bible repeats over and over the ‘Father’ and the ‘Son’. We also have God and Lord. As in any family such a reference suggests separation, two persons, but a filial relationship. In this case, though, it would suggest two separate Beings. (“Being” – of an essence at variance to human)
Where ‘truth’ be known man is instructed by the Paraclete – a helper, a reminder, a hidden voice. Whether man expresses or honors the ‘truth’ is another matter. It is however ‘truth’ and it is known to man. There is an inherent sense of right and wrong, good and evil. Man’s soul, his rational self, is well aware of ‘truth.’
Referencing the Quran we inquire as to whether Allah acted alone. If the answer is yes, then I might argue that is in error. As Allah was not alone in that he had his ‘thoughts’. He had his own Reason, the ability and the nature of thought, to do what he did. Can Creation have taken place without any consideration on Allah’s part? Is that which is Reason or Consideration also Allah?
If in ‘truth’ God acted along with others, who were they and what was their relationship to God. We can only see God as the ultimate authority, the power behind the switch (or the ‘match.’).
Tertullian wrote[iii], “For God is rational, and Reason was first in them.” The Greeks called this logos. From reason and thought we have internal conversations, self-discussions, using words. Thus, with Reason inherent in God, even as Allah, we also have the exchange of ideas, even if internal, our self-discourse, which owes then to God the “Word”.
“Word itself consists of Reason” so Tertullian states. God at creation had not as yet sent forth HIS WORD. As you recall, he “spoke” the Universe into existence. (Genesis 1:3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light.’“)
Tertullian notes the ‘Word’ is as “a second person within you, through which in thinking you utter speech, and through which also, in uttering speech, you generate thought”[iv]
The ‘Word’ is more than verbal. It is a Being, as the Word is… (to be further discussed in subsequent Blogs on this topic)
Applying Reason and Word to God as the source what is more applicable a term, as introduced as well by Tertullian, than “Wisdom” (sofia).
Man in God’s Image
We need to establish a few parameters as we proceed. If God made man in his image, what is the image of God? – two essentials that would be common to Man and God.
- Reason (applied even when you speak to yourself. In thought, you, we all, use Words)
- “Animated out of His (God’s) substance”, said Tertullian
Ask then – What is the “Word” of God?”
Grace and Peace.
Continued next week…………………….
[ii] Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian
[iii] Against Praxeas: In Which He Defends, in all Essential Points, the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, by Tertullian, from Amazon Kindle Books.
[iv] Against Praxeas: In Which He Defends, in all Essential Points, the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, by Tertullian, pg. 166, from Amazon Kindle Books.