"Do Christians Worship Three Gods?"
When Christians refer to the Trinity of God, they are not referring to three separate gods, and the idea of this term meaning a belief in three separate gods is offensive to them, even as it is to Muslims. Most Muslims assume that because Christians worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they are worshipping in fact three gods. Actually, due to the excessive emphasis upon Mary as the Mother of God during the prophet Muhammad's time, the Qur'an (in Surah 5, Al-Ma'idah, The Table Spread: 116) substitutes Mary, the mother of Jesus, for the Holy Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity.
Repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, it is emphatically stated that God is one. God spoke through Moses, "To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him . . . The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 4:35, 6:4). God inspired the apostle Paul to write, "For there is one God" (I Timothy 2:5), and in another book it is explained, "[There is] one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all," (Ephesians 4:5). When Jesus was being tempted by Satan, He declared, "Be gone Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only,'" (Matthew 4:10).
At the same time, we find interwoven along with this doctrine the teaching that the one true God is triune (3) in His nature. In the Old Testament, God appeared to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, and many other prophets in different ways. Sometimes God appeared in fire, and other times He appeared as the Angel of the Lord, or a "still small voice." Each time such a reference appears, the Bible makes it clear that this was a manifestation of God Himself. David often refers ot the Spirit of God who indwells him.
In the Qur'an, there is the same kind of manifestation in Surah 19 Mary: 16-21. "And you shall recount in the book the story of Mary: how she left her people and went to a solitary place to the east. We sent to her Our Spirit in the semblance of a full-grown man. And when she saw him, she said: 'May the Merciful defend me from you! If you fear the Lord, leave me and go your way!'
"'I am the Messenger of your Lord,' he replied, 'and [to announce] to thee the gift of a Holy son.'
"'How shall I bear a child,' she answered, 'when I am a virgin, untouched by man?' "'Such is the will of your Lord,' he replied.
"'That is no difficult thing for Him. He shall be a sign to mankind,' says the Lord, 'and a blessing from Ourself. It is a matter [so] decreed.'"
Jesus Christ proclaimed a number of times that He was one with God the Father. He proclaimed, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) and "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
In several places in the Qur'an, it refers to Jesus as the Word of God or "Kalimat-Allah" as in the following: "And remember when the angels said O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word [Kalimat] from Him, whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, Illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near [unto Allah]" (Surah 3, Al-i-Imran, The Family of Imran: 45).
We find a clear definition of the meaning of the Word of God at the beginning of the gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:1, 14, 18).
One characteristic of a word, is that it comes from one mind and communicates to another without really leaving the original mind. The word and the mind which sent it are one. In the same way, the light of the sun and the sun itself are one. The light comes to the earth and lightens it, but it is not separated from the sun. These are limited illustrations of how Jesus Christ came to the world as the Word of God without becoming separated from God.
Relating to the Holy Spirit the Qur'an uses two terms "Ruh-Allah" and "Ar-Ruh-Al-Qudus" for the Spirit of God. Such is the case in the following references: "We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs [of Allah's sovereignty], and we supported him with the Holy Spirit [ar-Ruh-al Qudus]," (Surah 2, Al-Baqarah, The Cow: 87).
"When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit [al-Ruh al-Qudus], so that the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel . . . and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead, by My permission" (Surah 5 Al-Ma'idah, The Table Spread: 110).
"Go, O my sons, and ascertain concerning Joseph and his brother, and despair not the Spirit of Allah [Ruh-Allah]" (Surah 12, Joseph: 87).
Note that the above quotations from the Qur'an make reference to God, to His Word, and to His Spirit. If one examines these references carefully, one could agree that the Qu'ran does indeed teach a belief in the Word of Allah, and the Spirit of Allah as well as in Allah the Almighty.
In the book to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul summarizes God's purposes in revealing himself in more than one way.
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:1-3).
In the most personal way possible, God communicated His love and His compassion to us by sending His son, Jesus, to earth. Yet, it remains a mystery to us as to how He sent him. It also remains controversial, certainly not everyone can accept it. But above all else, it is still very personal -- that God could care so much about people, that He would reveal Himself to them. He did this in such a way that we could see up close what the character of God is like.
Other items can be discussed on the question of the Trinity, but they are being held for the discussion in this series entitled "Why Do Christians Call Jesus the Son of God?"
(Adapted from Tide of the Supernatural by Kundan Massey, Here's Life Publishers)
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