14 - HOW CAN GOD BE TRINUE?
CHALLENGE: Muslims have great problems with the Trinity, because believing in God as Father, Son, and Spirit contradicts the teachings of the Koran, and also because this faith runs against what makes sense to them spiritually. Furthermore, many secular "enlightened" people have an aversion to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They ask themselves, along with Muslims: Why should I admit to a triune-God? And how is it possible at all that God can be three and yet one?
ANSWER: Many people believe that the God of the Bible and the God of the Koran are one and the same. Not only Muslims assert this on the basis of the Koran (“Our God and your God is one.” Sura al-'Ankabut 29:46), but also others, who have been influenced by humanism and the Enlightenment, claim that the God of the Bible and the God of the Koran are, ultimately, the same. Are they really the same? What does one overlook when making such a fundamental identification? In order to answer such questions, it is important to work through important differences between the Gospel and the Koran and then to ask: What are the spiritual roots for each of these differences? We will do this by examining three attributes of God that characterize the Gospel. You will see that it is exactly these attributes that make it possible for God to be triune:
1. The love of enemies. It is a fact that Muhammad was a warlord who on purpose ambushed his enemies. He called upon his followers to kill their enemies. --- It is equally a fact that Christ did not wage wars nor did he cause anyone to be killed. Rather, in the Sermon on the Mount, he commanded: “Love your enemies and bless those who curse you …” (Matthew 5:44). Why are Muhammad and Christ so different in their manner of conduct?
In order to understand this difference, we need to recognize the following profound spiritual contrast: The God of Christ loves His enemies. The God of Muhammad hates his enemies.
For each of these opposing statements, we will quote a reference: About the God of Christ, Paul the Apostle wrote: “… while we were yet enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son …” (Romans 5:10) God reconciled himself to man through the death of his Son on the cross, and that while we were still His enemies! Such reconciliation is only possible because God loves His enemies. If Christ demands from us to love our enemies, then He wants us to be like God. --- About the God of Muhammad, however, we read: “Whoever is an enemy of Allah, his angels, or his messengers … then Allah is an enemy to such infidels.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:98) If Allah in the Koran commands Muslims to fight against their enemies, then this presupposes that they should not love their enemies. They are to do that because Allah himself is hostile toward his enemies and does not love them. When Muslims fight against their enemies, they become like their God.
2. Humility. It is a fact that the Koran denies the crucifixion of Christ. In Sura al-Nisa' 4:157 we read of Christ: “… They did not kill him, and they did not crucify him, rather it was made to appear to them (as though he had been crucified). …” --- The Gospel, however, clearly testifies: Christ did die on the cross. Even powers hostile to Christianity, such as Atheism or Judaism, accept that Christ was crucified and died. Why are the Koran and the Gospel nevertheless so different in this regard?
In order to understand this difference, we need to recognize the following profound spiritual contrast: The God of Christ is humble. The God of Muhammad is proud.
For each of these opposing statements I again quote references: Jesus said in the Gospel: “… I am gentle and humble in heart …” (Matthew 11:29); and “… he who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) This means that the Father is also humble of heart. Without humility the Son of God would not have become man, and he also would not have gone to the cross for us. When we become humble, we become like the God of Christ. --- About the God of Muhammad, however, we hear: “He is Allah, besides whom there is no god. (He is) the (sovereign) King … the Mighty One, the gigantic Conqueror, and the Proud One (al-mutakabbir)…” (Sura al-Hashr 59:23) This is the reason why Allah in the Koran denies the crucifixion of Christ: it is beneath his dignity that he should become human. Therefore, he denies that Christ is the Son of God. He is too proud to take upon himself the shameful death on the cross. When Muslims treat their enemies with pride and arrogance, they become like their God.
3. Joy. It is a fact that Muslims deny the tri-unity of God on the basis of the Koran. They say: Allah is not Father, Christ is not the Son of Allah, and the Holy Spirit is just a creature of Allah. --- Christians, however, on the basis of the Gospel, confess: God is one as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He lives as a spiritual unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and not as a sexual multiplicity of father, mother (Mary) and son ('Isa), as the Koran intimates (Sura al-Mai'da 5:116). Why are Muslims and Christians so radically opposed to each other in this issue?
In order to understand this opposition, we need to recognize the following profound spiritual contrast: The God of Christ is full of joy. The God of Muhammad does not love the joyful.
To the mystery of the Trinity belongs the joy of the Father over the Son, the joy of the Son about the Father, and the joy of both in their Holy Spirit. Some references hereto: a) “And behold, a voice came from heaven, saying, (after the baptism of Jesus): 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.`” (Matthew 3:17) If the Father is well pleased with the Son, then he is full of joy over him. b) “These things I have spoken to you, that my JOY may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) Jesus was full of joy and He passed His joy on. c) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control ..." (Galatians 5:22-23) Where the Spirit of Christ is active, joy comes in. --- Nowhere in the Koran do we read that Allah is joyful. Rather, we read: “Allah does not love the joyful!” (Sura al-Qasas 28:76) This is the reason why Muslims do not sing in their mosques! When you sing, you can be joyful. But since Allah does not love the joyful, one does not even begin to sing when worshiping Allah.
With these three biblical attributes of God we have access to the mystery of the triune God of Christ: Father, Son, and Spirit can be distinguished in the one God, because they joyfully appreciate each other. Father, Son, and Spirit are one, because each is humble towards the other and therefore no one ever rebels against the other. Even if they should do that, the three would still remain one, for they love their enemies. All this is unthinkable in the Koran, because Allah is not full of joy and not humble, and because he does not love his enemies. For this reason the Koran denies the triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And the result is: Allah and the God of Christ cannot be the same God.
GOOD NEWS: The God of the Gospel can be triune as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because he is full of unfettered joy, because He is rooted in selfless humility, and because He loves His enemies. When we accept Christ and allow ourselves to be determined by His joy, humility, and love of enemies, He gives us power to become children of God and in this manner takes us into His triune life.
TESTIMONY: My name is Masri, and I come from Egypt. As a young Muslim I was a member of a radical Islamic group. I was shocked when I observed that the members in my group not just killed their enemies in theory, but also in deed. Therefore, I looked for an opportunity to get out of such company. This opportunity came when most of them were imprisoned by the government. After this I was totally confused, and began taking drugs. One day I had a tooth ache and came to a Christian dentist. He understood my situation and did three things that have changed my life: He closed his practice, to be able to devote himself to me alone; he listened to me the entire night, till the next morning at five o'clock, even though I insulted him as a Christian; and he, in his joyful manner, talked me into working in his practice, since I had studied biochemistry. Later on I realized that the three attributes of the God of Christ were reflected in his life: he loved me, his enemy, so much that he took the entire night to listen to me in his practice; he was so humble, even as a recognized dentist, that he closed his practice in order to occupy himself with my miserable situation; and he was so characterized by an inner joy that he got me to work for him. He put me in contact with educated Christians who could answer my Islamic questions. Today I am a Christian and I help Muslims, near and far, to find the Christ, who loved His enemies, who was humble, and who shared his joy with others.
PRAYER: Triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I thank you that you revealed yourself in Jesus Christ. Help me to love my enemies, just as you loved me while being your enemy; reshape me, so that I may reflect your humility; and fill me with your joy every day of my life.
FOR MEMORIZATION: “But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)