Monday, January 09, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 148b: But, the Trinity doctrine does not make sense, any more than 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, and was an imposition by Constantine, etc . . .

Last time, we looked at a warning from an ex muslim, which raised the issue of the reasonableness of the Triune Christian view of God. 

Let us address this further, based on some work in the in-progress NCSTS course, first pausing to examine the key texts that provide the Scriptural imperative, here on, in context.


Clip 1a, on the gap between what is indeed logically coherent and what is actually coherent but conceptually difficult to "me," an important first pause for opening our minds:


>> if we overlook the possibility for complex unity [as comes out of the significance of Echad, the word for "one" in Deut 6:4], we may easily "see" a contradiction in the doctrine that God is triune, where none in fact exists.

A further example will help clarify how our failure to grasp a concept may make us perceive a contradiction when the real problem is our lack of adequate concepts. Let us ask: is it possible to stand at just one place on the Earth and be due north of London, England, Bridgetown, Barbados and Kingston, Jamaica?

At first, this seems to be impossible, but if we remember that the earth is round [not flat like most maps are], we can go stand at the North Pole:

This concept of God as triune, embracing unity and diversity, can be further visualised in the famous Triquetra, which builds on the concept of the shamrock. (The interlacing three-lobed loop below is the triquetra proper, and each lobe is a vesica piscis, a fish-like shape made from two intersecting circles):

The Shield of the Trinity then captures the classic conception of God as triune more specifically, as we may see from a surprisingly good definition at Wiki (which simplifies the underlying Athanasian creed):

The Shield of Faith, C13
The definition, excerpted:
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, one of the most important in the Christian faith, teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons (Greek: hypostases)[1] in one divine Being (Greek: Ousia), called the Godhead.[2]

Saying that God exists as three persons but is one God means that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. "Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient."[3]  . . . .
Personhood in the Trinity does not match the common Western understanding of "person" as used in the English language—it does not imply an "individual, self-actualized center of free will and conscious activity."[9]

To the ancients, personhood "was in some sense individual, but always in community as well."[9]:p.186 In the Trinity doctrine, each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures.
The doctrine, of course transcends our ability to fully understand. But, in a quantum physics world, that is getting increasingly familiar. An electron or a photon have properties of BOTH waves and particles, and depending on how you interact, you will see one or the other sets of properties.

Sometimes, we say they are wavicles, or speak of a "duality."

But, waves rolling up unto a beach and tiny cricket balls do not exactly seem to be closely similar or easily reconcilable concepts! Be that as it may, on the best physical theory we have, and on a great many experimental results, we are indeed forced to see such things as -- yes, we must echo the Athanasian Creed here: incomprehensible -- wavicles: waves and particles that have a unified identity.

Indeed, we may be bold enough to say that that unity in diversity is a signature characteristic of the cosmos, reflecting its Triune Author.

Clip 1b: on how Patrick is said to have addressed the claimed incoherence of the Christian view of God, laying out the Shamrock Principle of mysterious but nevertheless undeniably real tri-unity:

>> we may begin to see how 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 can make sense: in the case of complex unity, the whole is distinct from the parts or facets of that whole, so there is no logical contradiction here.

That is, the matter is much as the famous (but probably apocryphal) story of what happened when the pagan Irish challenged Patrick:
As a missionary in Ireland, St Patrick was challenged by the pagans to explain the concept of the Trinity. Being a former slave-shepherd in that same country, he did the unexpected -- he reached down and plucked a shamrock, a three-lobed leaf.

Standing back up, he then asked:
"How many leaves are there here? If but one, then why are there three lobes? If three, then why is there but one stem? If you cannot explain the mystery of the shamrock leaf, why then do you expect me to explain the far more profound one of the Trinity?"
And that, according to the story, is how the shamrock leaf became the symbol of Christian Ireland.

Whether or not the story is true, it goes to the heart of the issue of the concept of the Trinity: that the mystery of the One and the Many lies at the core of being, and that we will find this pattern as a signature of the Godhead in many aspects of the cosmos, including in our own lives and thought-world.

In particular, it at once lays to rest the jibe that Christians are fools who believe that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, for, the shamrock leaf is both three and one at the same time, but not in the same sense, i.e. the question of logical contradiction strictly does not arise. 

For, the essence of a real contradiction is that contradictory statements or implications affirm and deny the same thing in the same sense.  

Thus, the Christian understanding that the unity of the Godhead is complex, not simple -- the one God is manifest in three persons who share a common Divine nature -- cannot be a contradiction, as the one-ness and the three-ness refer to quite distinct things.

Instead, what is being affirmed is that the oneness of God is complex rather than simple, just as the cosmos made by that same Triune God is a unified whole that embraces the vast diversity we see around us; e.g. water manifests itself as solid, liquid and gas, but it is the one and the same substance H-O-H all along. 

We may now elaborate through a diagram that builds on the Shamrock mystery and the Fish symbol used as an early symbol of the Christian faith in Jesus as Son of God and Saviour. For, the Greek word for "fish," Ichthus, can be used as an acrostic for, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour:

The triune view of God as Complex Unity

This complex unity view of God is quite significant, as it means that the Bible-based, Christian, redemptive triune view of God, the ground of reality, offers probably the only serious solution to the vexed worldview problem of the one and the many: a world of diversity that is also one. 

Clip 2, amplifies on the associated philosophical dilemma of the one and the many:


>> This complex unity view of God is quite significant, as it means that the Bible-based, Christian, redemptive triune view of God, the ground of reality, offers probably the only serious solution to the vexed worldview problem of the one and the many: a world of diversity that is also one.

A Probe Ministores article aptly summarises the issue:

When it comes to discussing worldviews the starting point is the question, Why is there something rather than nothing?{6} As you may already know, there are three basic answers to this question. The pantheist would generally answer that all is one, all is god, and this "god with a small g" has always existed. Second, the naturalist would say that something, namely matter [in some form], has always existed. Third, the theist holds that a personal, Creator-God is eternal and out of nothing He created all that there is . . . .

When we look around at what exists, we see an amazing collection of seemingly disparate elements such as gasses, liquids, and solids, planets and stars, horses, flowers, rocks, and trees. And seeing all of these things we notice that they all exist in some sort of equilibrium or unity. How is it that such diversity exists in such apparent unity? And are we as human beings any more important than gasses or ants? . . . .

The pantheist's commitment to an all-inclusive oneness leaves no room for the real world in which people live, where I am not you and neither of us is one with a tree or a mountain.
The naturalist has no problem accepting the reality of the physical world and the diversity present in it. However, there is no solid ground for understanding why it is all held together. In short, [as Francis Schaeffer often noted] there is no infinite reference point so we are left with the circular argument: everything holds together because everything holds together; if it didn't, we wouldn't be here to see it. What a coincidence! In fact, coincidence, or chance, is the only basis for anything. As a result human beings are left with an absurd existence . . . .

Trinitarian theism
is the only option that contains within itself an explanation of both the one and the many while saying that people are important. In the Trinity, God has revealed Himself as the eternal, infinite reference point for His creation. Moreover, the Trinity provides the only adequate basis for understanding the problem of unity and diversity since God has revealed Himself to be one God who exists in a plural unity. Ultimately then, as Horrell concludes, "Every thing and every person has real significance because each is created by and finally exists in relationship to the Triune God." [Article, What Difference Does the Trinity Make?, emphases, links and parentheses added.]
But, if we overlook the possibility for complex unity, we may easily "see" a contradiction in the doctrine that God is triune, where none in fact exists.>>

Clip 3, on answers to typical objections:


>> In our day, there are of course a great many objections to the scripturally derived view of God as Triune, and to Jesus as Son of God and Christ.  There have always been.

That is why it is so important to begin from the warrant for Christ, "shown to be Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead." And, then on the strength of those scriptures that have been authenticated through fulfilled prophecy of the Messiah and Lamb of God slain and risen as Lord, we can seek a coherent understanding of the Godhead. As as we have seen, the Shamrock principle provides as good a framing as any.

In that context, we may then answer (in brief) a cluster of typical objections:

OBJ 1: The Trinity is logically incoherent and nonsensical, of the order of 1 + 1 + 1 = 1.

ANS 1: As the Shamrock principle highlights, unity may be complex, and no incoherence occurs if the oneness and the three-ness involved refer to distinct facets or aspects of a unity, as they do here. The Scutum Fidei we have already seen depicts this in a traditional theological diagram, that in the medieval period was actually held to be the heraldic Arms of the Triune God:
The Scutum Fide dates to C13 and by C15 was seen as the heraldic Arms of God,
being actually used in visual representations of spiritual warfare per Eph 6

OBJ 2: How could God be One and yet three distinct persons?

ANS 2: How could matter at microscopic level -- e.g. light and electrons -- be both particles [like tiny cricket balls] AND waves [like those headed for a beach], depending on how one interacts with it? We may not fully understand how these things can be about electrons and photons, etc, but we have good reason to accept them as so, hence the whimsical term: wavicle. Similarly, if we have good reason, per the resurrection in fulfillment of prophecy to accept the NT teachings, then even if we do not fully understand, we can see enough to know that this is not nonsense and is not the sort of thing we would make up. Why should we be surprised to learn that God is beyond our full ability to comprehend?

OBJ 3: How could God be the Creator of the cosmos and yet have a mother, brothers, and sisters? Did God demean himself and commit fornication with Mary?

ANS 3: We must not confuse two different understandings of God, simple vs complex unity. Once we can see that God may be Triune, that God the Son should be miraculously incarnate as a virgin-born human child (no act of sexual intercourse was involved . . . ) and then grow up as a man among men, is perhaps an astonishing act of willing humbling of oneself in love, to bring redemption to those who don't deserve it (and too often reject or dismiss it),  but it is not absurd. Not for the God who as to his essential nature is Love Himself.

OBJ 4: The Doctrine of the Trinity was cooked up by Constantine and the Council of Nicea, it has no genuine roots in original Christianity. The Gospels that would tell us better were ordered burned, but a few survived and so we know that traditional Christianity is a Constantine cook-up.

ANS 4: On the contrary, as we have seen above, the Nicene Creed is a faithful summary of the C1 NT. It would also be astonishing that the same church and leaders who stood the fire and sword of Diocletian and others, would now suddenly cave to the notions of a new Emperor in 325 AD, or his heirs over the next fifty years to the point where the creed was re-affirmed and expanded in 381 AD; to make sure that various distortions that had been debated over the intervening generation were rebutted.  It is the Gnostic documents that are being trumpeted on Cable TV or in speculative books and movies etc. that are demonstrably from C2 - 4, and present a syncretism of the deeply hebraic vision of the C1 NT with then current C2 - 4 Hellenistic ideas tracing to vulgarised Platonic thought, mysticism, magic, etc.  Besides, e.g. The Gospel of Thomas cites Diatessaron's harmony of the four Gospels, which was made c 170. Those who have allowed themselves to be misled by Dan Brown's "Fact" declaration at the beginning of his novel, the Da Vinci Code, or the like, are being naive, or are dealing in wishful, poorly researched thinking.

OBJ 5: Isn't the trinity just a thinly disguised pagan doctrine improperly imposed on the true insight that there is only one God?

ANS 5: Pagans simply did not teach the doctrine of a triune all-Holy Living God, Father, Son and Spirit, co-eternal, co-equal, omnipotent and the same essential nature, the God who is Lord, Creator, Goodness Himself, Love Himself, and Reason Himself. Nor, did it teach that God the Son, fulfilling the prophecies of Messiah, would come among us as virgin-born Saviour, dying and rising in fulfillment of the Hebrew prophetic Scriptures, and coming again as our Lord and Judge in the Last Day. Polytheism (as we saw in Unit 3 above) taught myths of many gods and goddesses, which in many cases were more or less magic-working, scandalously immoral and irresponsible super-men projected into the sky or to natural objects and phenomena of various kinds. In direct contrast -- as is tabulated here and as can be seen above -- we can reasonably and responsibly derive from the Bible text precisely the understanding of God that is found in the creeds. Indeed, we can responsibly argue that that is the understanding that is required by the cumulative witness of the texts.

OBJ 6: But, the words "trinity" and "triune" do not appear even once in the Bible, and 1 John 5:7 - 8 is a verse that does not belong in the Bible.

ANS 6: Does the word "monotheism" appear in the text of the Bible? Not at all. Does that therefore mean that the Bible does not teach that there is but one true and ever-living God? Obviously not. In short, the argument is a red herring distractor from the real issue: what is the cumulative witness of the Scriptures, responsibly understood, as to the nature of God? And, while the so-called Comma Johanneum in 1 Jn 5:7b - 8a seems to be a marginal note (perhaps dating to the C3 - 4) that was somehow copied into the main text of the Vulgate (some time in the middle ages), that does not mean that what it says -- "
there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth . . . " [KJV] -- is false; nor, does it mean that the NT does not ground the triune understanding of God. More modern translations, once the history of the text was traced, therefore exclude the remarks. Moreover, when the triune understanding of God was formulated in the creeds, this was based on the major texts such as are cited above, i.e. the triune view of God has no need for the unfortunately incorporated marginal note. As well, we should note the way that key passages often speak jointly and tellingly of the Father, Son and Spirit, e.g.:
  1. Matt. 3:16-17, "And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, 17and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." [NASB]
  2. Matt. 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," Note that there is one name and three persons." [NASB]
  3. 2 Cor. 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."[NASB]
OBJ 7: But, three persons cannot be one person; that's like saying 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Why do Christians insist on turning prophets sent by God into partners to set alongside God as though they were equal to God? Is that not gross disrespect for God, idolatry and paganism?

ANS 7: This objection pivots on misunderstandings. The triune understanding -- as defined in the key historic creeds such as the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed in light of responsible study of the Scriptures -- is NOT asserting that there are three persons who are somehow just one person, nor that there are three gods, nor that prophets have been set up to be partners with the one true God, etc. Indeed, the latter creed -- spelling it out, step by step, after decades of back and forth debates that brought out the points most apt to be confused -- in part reads:
". . . the catholic [i.e. universal Christian] faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal . . . The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated . . .  The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal . . .  So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord. For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding . . . "
That is, the scripturally rooted, historic Christian understanding is that there is but one God, who is manifest in three co-equal, co-eternal, uncreated persons, who are not three gods, nor somehow just one person. Similarly, we understand that Jesus -- God, the only begotten and eternal Son -- humbled himself in loving concern and was incarnate among us at a particular place and time in a particular family, in order to redeem us, thus partaking of full humanity as well as being God in essential nature. Then, in willing submission to his Father, he drew into himself the full depth of the venom of sin, tasting the dregs of death for us; giving us eternal life in exchange and crushing the head of the Serpent. Then he seized the keys of death and of Hades, rising as triumphant Lord. This is not at all to be equated  with trying to mistakenly turn a hero or a prophet or even an angel into a god. That is a gross, ignorant or irresponsible and even venomous misunderstanding. One may disagree with it, but in so disagreeing s/he is responsible to correctly acknowledge what Christians believe today and historically have believed, on what basis.
So, let us instead again look at the Scutum Fidei (an apt visual summary that brings together some pretty hard to understand text in one powerful diagram), noting that -- hard as it may be to understand -- the proper sense in which the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God is such that we must be fully able to talk of God, the Father, and of God, the Son and of God, the Spirit, while distinguishing Father, Son and Spirit as persons:
The Shield of Faith, summarising the creedal, Biblically based triune
understanding of God in a diagram tracing to C12
OBJ 8: Jesus cannot be the eternal God because he was born at a given time, did not know all things, slept, grew in wisdom, said the Father is greater than I, etc. He slept, ate, thirsted, drank, and even died. How could an unchanging, eternal God be like that?

ANS 8:
This pivots on overlooking a key aspect of the incarnation. Jesus was not half-god, half-man, a demigod or something like that. He was fully God, incarnate as fully man. As a man, he could be born into a family, grow up, eat, drink, sleep etc., and even die. But also, as he was a united person, his death had an eternal, and divine significance: he died as our sinless Saviour and substitute who tasted death for all of us, so that we may have the opportunity to receive eternal life from him. Slick, at CARM, has a useful summary:
 This type of statement is perhaps the most commonly raised attack.  Unfortunately, it fails to take into consideration the Hypostatic Union which states that Jesus had two natures: divine and human.  As a man, Jesus cooperated with the limitations of His humanity, was made lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9), talked about position, and was under the Law (Gal. 4:4), signifying Him being under legal obligations.  Therefore, Jesus would sleep, grow in wisdom, and say the Father was greater than He.  But, these do not negate that Jesus was divine since they reference His humanity and not His divinity. 

There are other verses which reflect His divinity, such as when He said, "Before Abraham was, I AM," (
John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14).  He was called God by God in Heb. 1:8, "But of the Son He says,'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,'" and John 1:1,14 says that He is "...the Word was God...and became flesh..." This means that Jesus is both divine and human and as a man he would grow, sleep, and learn.  It means that Jesus had a human nature, not that the had no divine nature . . . .

Jesus died.  But, we know that God cannot die.  So, if the divine nature did not die, how can it be said that Jesus' sacrifice was divine in nature?  The answer is that the attributes of divinity, as well as humanity, were ascribed to the person Jesus.  Therefore, since the person of Jesus died, His death was of infinite value because the properties of divinity were ascribed to the person in His death.  This is called the
Communicatio Idiomatum

OBJ 9:
Paul distorted the original teachings of Jesus and created a new Christianity -- which should be called "Paulianity" instead. As a part of that distortion, he invented the doctrine of Jesus as Son of God.

ANS 9:
And the C1 historical evidence for such a distortion is? Ans: nil. In fact, from the record in Acts and elsewhere, Paul persecuted the early Christians precisely becaue they were teaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah and end of days Son of Man of Daniel 7:9 - 14 who would sit at the Right Hand of God, and would be given Authority as Judge and ruler of the eternal Kingdom of God.  It is noteworthy, therefore, that at the trial, the first Christian martyr, Stephen:
 Ac 7:55 . . .  [Stephen,] full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together  at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
This is of course exactly the claim that had led the High Priest to tear his robes in declaration of blasphemy and led the controlling faction of the Sanhedrin to conclude that Jesus was thus worthy of death. The resurrection, therefore -- just as Paul asserts in Rom 1:1 - 5 -- is thus a direct Divine response to that accusation, a vindication of Jesus' claim to be the Son of Man.

But, there is more.

It is the ascended Christ who arrests Paul on the road to Damascus in Ac 9, and who tutors him in Arabia for three years. Then, when Paul had returned from his first Missionary Journey, a challenge was made to how he did not compel Gentiles to become Jews in order to become Christians. So, in
Ac 15, the assembled apostles and elders in the First Jerusalem Council did not rebuke Paul for distorting the message of Jesus, but received, approved and commended him.

Going further back, when we look in
Mark 2:1 - 12, we see where Jesus claims a Divine prerogative, the power to forgive sins, and backs it up by healing the paralytic man who had been let down through the roof.  Among many other things, such as declaring in Jn "before Abraham was, I AM."

Then, as both Peter and Paul faced martyrdom in Rome in the 60's, Peter's final epistle, 2 Peter 3:16, speaks of Paul's writings as being subject to being wrenched by the unstable and unlearned, just as is so with "the other Scriptures."

In short, the "Paulianity" claim is
little more than wishfully dismissive thinking.

OBJ 10:
The leading Christian Theologians themselves tell us -- including in bestsellers! -- that we need not listen to fundamentalist, Bible-thumping claptrap and proof texts. The Bible as we have it is not trustworthy, or a serious source of knowledge about God, much less the absurd, incomprehensible doctrine of a Trinity. The only sensible approach is to glean from the wreckage what reasonable insisghts and advice we can, then dismiss the rest as outdated anti-scientific, unreliable supernaturalistic myths and speculation.

ANS 10: This objection turns on an indirect attack against the scriptures and the associated Christian worldview. The main response is thus to point to the historic foundations of the Christian faith, and to the worldview foundations of same. However, in summary, there is no good reason (dismissive prejudices and anti-supernaturalistic question-begging do not count) to dismiss the basic accuracy of the NT as history, or to brush aside the fact of predictive prophecy, especially in Isa 52:13 - 53:12. On the strength of that, we have good grounds to take the Scriptures and their teachings seriously, as well as the testimony and experience of the millions of Christians over the centuries who have met God for themselves in the face of Christ, through trusting those same Scriptures.

As for the modernist theologians, perhaps Eta Linnemann -- a former Bultmannian who discarded her own publications in the rubbish on coming to actually meet and be transformed by Jesus -- has most directly
set the record straight:
Theology as it is taught in universities all over the world . . . is based on the historical-critical method . . . . [which] is not just the foundation for the exegetical disciplines. It also decides what the systematician can say . . . It determines procedure in Christian education, homiletics and ethics . . . .

Research is conducted ut si Deus non daretur (“as if there were no God”). That means the reality of God is excluded from consideration from the start . . . Statements in Scripture regarding place, time, sequences of events and persons are accepted only insofar as they fit in with established assumptions and theories . . . . 

Since other religions have their scriptures, one cannot assume the Bible is somehow unique and superior to them . . . . It is taken for granted that the words of the Bible and God’s word are not identical . . . the New Testament is pitted against the Old Testament, assuming that the God of the New Testament is different from that of the Old, since Jesus is said to have introduced a new concept of God . . . .

Since the inspiration of Scripture is not accepted, neither can it be assumed that the individual books of Scripture complement each other
. Using this procedure one finds in the Bible only a handful of unrelated literary creations . . . . Since the content of biblical writings is seen as merely the creation of theological writers, any given verse is nothing more than a non-binding, human theological utterance.

For historical-critical theology, critical reason decides what is reality in the Bible and what cannot be reality; and this decision is made on the basis of the everyday experience accessible to every person [i.e. the miraculous aspect of Scripture, and modern reports of miracles -- regardless of claimed attestation -- are dismissed as essentially impossible to verify and/or as merely “popular religious drivel”]  . . . .

Due to the presuppositions that are adopted, critical reason loses sight of the fact that the Lord, our God, the Almighty, reigns. [
Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993), pp. 83 – 88 as excerpted. Emphases in original; parenthetical notes in square brackets.]
OBJ 11:"Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with him; but He forgiveth anything, else to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed." With: "Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not "Trinity": desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: glory be to him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son . . . " [Quran, An Nisa, Surah 4:48 & 171, Yousuf Ali]. And also: "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, though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden." [Q, 5:116]

ANS 11:
This is clearly predicated on a misunderstanding of the Trinity. Jesus is not the biological son of God, but the Eternal Son who was incarnate by a miracle. he is not to be worshipped as a god, but acknowledged as the Living Lord, risen from the dead by God's power, in vindication of that Sonship. And, while Mary is indeed a fellow human being who in the Magnificat speaks of God as her Saviour, there simply  is no orthodox Christian Creed that has ever held that she is to be regarded as a god[dess] alongside the Creator of all Worlds. It is unfortunate that there has been in some quarters an excessive reverence for her, which does in some cases look far too close to idolatry to be proper, but that error has been staunchly corrected for many hundreds of years. Those who persist in such activities, should reflect soberly on the consequences, including as was just cited.

OBJ 12:
". . .  they uttered against Mary a grave false charge. (156) That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";― but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.― (157) Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (158)." [Q, 4:156 - 158.]
ANS 12: This is of course a direct denial of the consensus historical record of C1, across the Christians, Jews and Romans, that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was crucified, and died as a consequence of being so executed. The onward implication, of course is that the core substance of the gospel in 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 -- recorded c 55 AD -- is denied and dismissed, and that on the blanket claim that the reciter of the Quran was a prophet of God. It is enough to contrast the recorded testimony of the over 500 eyewitnesses, most of whom were alive when the record was made:
1 Cor 15: 3 . . .  I [Paul] delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. [ESV]
So, in sum, it is indeed possible to object to and even dismiss the Christian teaching of the triune God, but it is not possible to responsibly dismiss this as not being historically rooted in the C1 Christian witness, testimony, life, worship, thought and experience.

And, in particular, as Paul records from an early Creedal hymn, we are counselled:

Phil 2: 5 Have this mind among yourselves, 
which is yours in Christ Jesus,  
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
7 but made himself nothing, 
taking the form of a servant,
2  being born in the likeness of men. 

8 And being found in human form, 
he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.  [ESV]>>

It is hoped that his will be a useful initial exposure to this topic. 

I suggest my more specific discussion of the Shamrock Principle here, CARM's tableau here on the biblical framework, here on an explanation for Muslims, here to address claims often made by the Watchtower Society aka Jehovah's Witnesses, here for a historically flavoured overview by the same author, and here for a survey from the Catholic Encyclopedia. END

F/N: For an introduction to Islam and its challenge to the Christian faith, cf here, and also the declaration here.  For  a more detailed, wider response to the Islamic challenge to the Christian faith, cf the McDowell/Gilchrist- Deedat debate here, and Nehls and Eric's three volumes: 1, 2, 3. The Answering-Islam site is here.

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