Mohammad on the Trinity: by Jack Kettler
What do Muslims believe Christians to be teaching about the Trinity? If the Muslims in their primary source material, such as the Koran and the Hadiths are mistaken, what does this say about the truth claims of their religion?
The next quotations will demonstrate that Mohammad did not have a clue to what Christianity believes about the Trinity. Mohammad did not utter these inaccurate sayings until the 7th Century, long after creedal statements on the Trinity had been stated by ecumenical counsels of the Christian Church.
Was Mohammad mistaken?
“O ye people of the Book! overstep not bounds in your religion; and of God, speak only truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is only an apostle of God, and his Word which he conveyed into Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from himself. Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not, ‘Three:’ (there is a Trinity) — Forbear — it will be better for you. God is only one God! Far be it from His glory that He should have a son! His, whatever is in the Heavens, and whatever is in the Earth! And God is a sufficient Guardian.” Sura 4:169
“O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.” Sura 4.171
“And behold! Allah will say: 'O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah'?” He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.” Koran 5:116
“They surely are Infidels who say, ‘God is the third of three:’ for there is no God but one God: and if they refrain not from what they say, a grievous chastisement shall light on such of them as are Infidels. Will they not, therefore, be turned unto God, and ask pardon of Him? since God is Forgiving, Merciful! The Messiah, Son of Mary, is but an Apostle; other Apostles have flourished before him; and his mother was a just person: they both ate food. Behold! how we make clear to them the signs! then behold how they turn aside!” Sura 5:77-79
Now consider some Islamic commentators in the Hadiths about the Trinity that shed more light on what Allah through his messenger Mohammad was trying explain:
“People of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God, His word, directed to Mary, a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers and do not speak of a 'Trinity'—stop, that is better for you—God is only one God, He is far above having a son, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him and He is the best one to trust.” - Qur'an, sura 4 (An-Nisa), ayat 171
“Those who say, "God is the Messiah, son of Mary," have defied God. The Messiah himself said; 'Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.' If anyone associates others with God, God will forbid him from the Garden, and Hell will be his home. No one will help such evildoers. Those people who say that God is the third of three are defying [the truth]: there is only One God. If they persist in what they are saying, a painful punishment will afflict those of them who persist. Why do they not turn to God and ask his forgiveness, when God is most forgiving, most merciful? The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a messenger; other messengers had come and gone before him; his mother was a virtuous woman; both ate food. See how clear We make these signs for them; see how deluded they are.” - Qur'an, sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayat 72-75
“And when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.” - Qur'an, sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayat 116
In summary; Islamic doctrine is saying that God (Allah) and a mother God (Mary had a boy (Jesus) who were all Gods. These 3 Gods are what Christians understood as the Trinity.
As already noted; by Mohammad's time, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was fully developed and articulated in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Creeds. It is outrageous that Allah and his messenger did not even know what the Christian belief about the Trinity was.
For example, the Chalcedon Creed as an example of the ecumenical Christian Creeds says:
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
How could Mohammad if he were truly speaking for God, not even know how Christians defined the Trinity in the Chalcedonian Creed (451 A.D). This creedal statement was approved in church counsel almost two hundred years before Mohammad claimed to be receiving messages from Allah? Instead, Mohammad and the Koran state and refute something that no Christian has ever believed. If Mohammad is going to refute the Trinity, at least he ought to understand what he is trying to refute. In reality, Mohammad and his followers are simply refuting Mohammad's own claims to be a messenger of Allah. It appears from what we have seen thus far, Allah is nothing more than an Arabian tribal deity. Moreover, Mohammad, we can say, is a seriously confused individual, whose messages he presented regarding the Trinity in particular have no bearing in reality.
Some more observations on the Koran, Mohammad and the Trinity:
Thabiti Anyabwile, from the gospel coalition interviews Dr. James R. White about the Koran and the doctrine of the Trinity in his book What Every Christian Needs to Know About The Qur’an.
Thabiti Anyabwile asks:
You open chapter 4 by identifying a key question: “Does the Qur’an’s author show knowledge of the Trinity to where the criticisms offered are accurate and compelling?” How would you answer that question?
“Most definitely not, and this is one of the primary reasons I reject the Qur’an as a divine revelation. While the Old and New Testaments in the Bible are intimately related, the authors of the New showing intimate familiarity with the Old, the author of the Qur’an shows only a surface level, second-hand knowledge of the Bible in its entirety. This results in gross misrepresentation of those Scriptures, and of the beliefs of the Christians especially. I have often said to Muslims, “Putting aside the issue of whether the Trinity is right or wrong, is it not clear that in 632 AD (the year of Muhammad’s death and the completion of the revelation of the Qur’an) Allah knew in perfection what the doctrine of the Trinity was, and hence Allah could have provided a full and accurate refutation of it, had he desired to do so?” But one will search in vain for any accurate representation of the Trinity, and will instead find the repeated assertion that when Christians say “three,” they are speaking of three gods, a form of polytheism.”1
1. Dr. James R. White's interview with Thabiti Anyabwile of the gospel coalition
Noteworthy church historian makes the following observation on Islam and the Trinity:
“In rude misconception or wilful perversion, Mohammed seems to have understood the Christian doctrine of the trinity to be a trinity of Father, Mary, and Jesus. The Holy Spirit is identified with Gabriel. God is only one God! Far be it from his glory that he should have a son!” Sura 4, ver. 169; comp. 5, ver. 77. The designation and worship of Mary as “the mother of God” may have occasioned this strange mistake. There was in Arabia in the fourth century a sect of fanatical women called Collyridians, who rendered divine worship to Mary. Epiphanius, Haer. 79.”2 (emphasis mine)
2. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 4, Chapter 3, (Hendrickson Publishers), p. 368.
To set matters straight, the Christian doctrine of the triune nature of God can be simply stated as:
1. There is only one God
2. There are three equally divine, distinct and eternal Persons called God
3. Therefore, these three equally divine and eternal Persons are the one God
Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology correctly defines the doctrine of God's triune nature. The doctrine is stated in a series of propositions:
1. There is in the Divine Being but one indivisible essence;
2. In this one Divine Being there are three Persons or individual subsistences,Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
3. The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons;
4. The subsistence and operation of the three persons in the divine Being is marked by a certain definite order;
5. There are certain personal attributes by which the three persons are distinguished.1
A definition that is more suited to help a Muslim understand this:
Within the nature of the one true God, there are three eternal Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Or, it could be said God is One with respect to His nature or substance and three in respect to Persons.
The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father; the Son is not the Spirit; and the Father is not the Spirit. God is not one person who manifests or reveals himself in three different modes, or three gods who are one in purpose. There is only one God in essence, who truly exists as three divine persons. The Christian is honestly handling the word of God by saying there is only one God. The Christian is indeed correct in saying that there are three persons who are God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Westminster Confession of Faith states:
In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
The following Scriptures, demonstrate that there is a plurality of persons in the Godhead, in other words, you see more than one divine person in each passage listed:
Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; 48:16; 61:1-2; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Zechariah 10:12; Matthew 28:19; Luke 4:18-19; John 1:1-3; John 14:23; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 1:8-10; Hebrews 3:7-11; 1 Peter 1:2; and 1 John 2:24
And yet, the Christian Scripture are clear, there is only one God Deuteronomy 6:4! Therefore, the triune nature of God is an inescapable fact!
In conclusion, we have to reject Mohammad's claim to be a messenger from God. Christians can use the Muslim gross inexcusable ignorance of the Trinity to convince Muslims that their founder, and the Koran are promoting demonstrable falsehoods.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com