Unity and Trinity
The charge of synthesis—linking other beings with Allah, and treating
them as divine—is one charge that Muslims frequently make against
Christianity. The Qur'an states,
'Do not say three, for God is one' (an-Nisa 4:171).
'They who say that Allah is Christ, Mary's son, have blasphemed he who
associates other with Allah, God will ban from Paradise' (al-Maidah 5:75)
Millions of sincere folks are taken in by the stark simplicity of the
Muslim's argument that 1+1+1 cannot equal 1.
Nevertheless it is an axiom of philosophy that the most facile explanation
is not necessarily the truest. And, this is the case regarding the correct
understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Muhammad clearly reacted against the then current mythology of Arabia. This
ancient mythology believed that Allah had three daughters, Uzza, Allat and
Manat. A myth of this sort is far removed from our Trinitarian Creed which
rests on the Scriptural truth that ' The Lord our God is One' (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Our Lord also confirmed the Shema (Mark 12:29) when he declared: "This is life eternal that
they might know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent"
The word in dispute is 'oneness'. Muslims insist that it must stand for a
static numerical unit, whereas we see oneness in terms of dynamic
unity—a unity moving forwards towards an end when God will be all in all.
Muslims regards oneness as a stark singularity, and exaggerate Allah's
aloofness and distance from men. He could not be described as loving,
pitying, and suffering. Yet paradoxically the Qur'an speaks extensively of
his anger, approval, hatred and affection. As a concept, incarnation was
found acceptable to sophisticated nations in antiquity. Brilliant
philosophers—Hindu, Greek and German—saw it as a reasonable means whereby
the Divine would reach down and communicate with the creatures that He had
created in His own image .
Natural phenomena belie the static numerical concept of oneness. Is there
any entity of which we are aware that is an absolute indivisible unity,
except a geometrical non-dimensional point? Space has three dimensions,
length, breadth, and height. Time can be conceived only as past, present,
and future. There are three primary colours in the spectrum of light. Our
mental life operates on thinking, willing, and feeling. Yet each person is
one not three.
Several levels of unity are conceivable, familial political, and atomic.
Long ago, the atom was thought to be
indivisible, for that is what atomos means in the Greek language. Now we know that it consists
of electrons, protons and neutrons, and that it is a unity that can be
split. Most intimate of all unity is the family unit that consists of two,
three, or more persons.
May we not then fairly assume that beyond these observable unities there
lies a deeper, greater more stable oneness, binding three persons of the
Trinity in one essence, and loving reaching out to its creation? Augustine
of Tunis expressed it thus: God is love, love is eternal, and God needed an
object of everlasting love. The Father loved the Son, the Son loved the
Spirit and the Holy Spirit loved the father' Then God said, 'Let us make man
in our own image'.
The Qur'an admits that Christ, the Son of Mary, is God's Word and Spirit
(4:171). This is a recognizable deformation of the truth. But it concedes
enough for believers to see in the Word and the Spirit the completion of
Last edited 07/19/2001
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