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Ask Dr. Faizal 1 — Trinity and Tawheed, and How It is Possible to Have a Theological Reconciliation Between Christianity and Islam

March 12, 2019

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewee: Dr. Mir Faizal

Numbering: Issue 2: Here We Go

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: Question Time

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 12, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 6,456

Keywords: Christianity, Islam, Mir Faizal, Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

Professor Mir Faizal is an Adjunct Professor in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Lethbridge. Here we talk about theology in an educational and exploratory series.

Christianity and Islam together form about half of the world’s population. There have been centuries on the conflict between them. This conflict has both political and religious dimensions. It is important to resolve the religious conflict, to help resolve the political conflict.

The difficulty here is that many concepts in Christianity on one hand, and Islam and Judaism on the other, seem so different, that it becomes had to imagine a way to reconcile them. This event starts from the concept of Trinity in Christianity, and Tawheed in Islam. In this discussion, with Dr. Mir Faizal, he will argue that these concepts can be reconciled, if they are properly understood.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: The central point of religious conflict between Christianity on one side, and Judaism and Islam on the other is the doctrine of Trinity.

The problem here is that even many Christians do not understand Trinity, so before we can resolve this, can you tell us why do you think Trinity is difficult to understand, and is there a way in which it can be understood?

Dr. Mir Faizal: I think the doctrine of Trinity is not understood properly, as a lot of different concepts are put together and called the Trinity. If those concepts are understood separately, and the relation between them is also understood, this concept can be understood better.

I would call them as Biblical Trinity, Spiritual Trinity, Theological Trinity, and Linguistic Trinity. To start to analyze trinity, we need to differentiate between these concepts and the relation between each them.

Jacobsen: What is the Biblical Trinity? Are there Biblical expressions for the Trinity?

Faizal: The Bible states in John 1:1, “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Now, this is a spiritual sentence, which can be understood experientially.

It says something very interesting. It first differentiates between the Word of God and God, and then equates them. This is rather a deep expression, which can lead to a deeper understanding of how God can be approached.

To understand this first let us shift the context. Let us analyze another example. Let us say, we want to express something, like the constitution of America is what America is based on, and it summarizes the thoughts of the founding fathers of America.

Furthermore, this spirit of the constitution was actualized in the form of Abraham LincolnA nice way to put it would be as “In the beginning was the constitution, and the constitution was with the founding fathers, and the constitution was the founding fathers. And the constitution was made flesh, and dwelt among us (as Abraham Lincoln).’’

This sentence summarizes this idea in a deeper way than just saying Abraham Lincoln followed the constitution. It may be noted that now Abraham Lincoln can be called, as the founding fathers, son of the founding father, servant of the founding father, the word of founding fathers made flesh. All those expressions are correct.

Now, Jesus is called the Word of God in John 1:14, as son of God in John 3:16 as the servant of God in Acts 3:13 and as God indirectly (as he is the Word of God, and the Word of God is called God) in John 1:1. If understood properly, there is no contradiction between Acts 3:13 “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus” and John 1:1.

All these statements are correct in their own right, if understood properly. A debate on how Lincoln can be a founder father, and a servant of founding fathers, seems to miss the main point, and is rather shallow. It is like if a person follows the will of another so perfectly, he can become like an image of the other person in the mirror.

This is what the Bible is basically stating about Jesus. John 6: 38, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Humans were made in the image of God, but they destroyed that image by sin. However, according to Christianity, Jesus is the only sinless person, so the only perfect image of God.

This means, he can be called as God, son of God, servant of God, or Word of God, and none of this title contradicts each other if they are understood in a deeper spiritual way. But the title which is least subject to misunderstanding is the Word of God, and that is why John starts with it. Word of any person is an expression of that person.

The Word of God revealed to prophets, but this word found practical manifestation in the form of Jesus. So he becomes a living Word of God. For example, God wants us to love each other; this was revealed to prophets in the old testament.

Now Jesus became a perfect expression of this love, and thus the Word was made flesh. The written words of revelation found practical expression in the life of Jesus. From a biblical perspective, it would seem meaningless to argue if Jesus is God or not, as that would miss the deeper spiritual point being made here.

It would be like arguing if Lincoln is a founding father or not. There seems to be more emphasis on words used than the meaning of those words. It does not matter, which words are used, as long as it is conveyed that Jesus is the Word of God, a perfect image of the will of God on earth.

Apart from the Word of God getting manifested in the form of a human, there is also a concept of experience of God. Here again, the experience of God is not separate from God, and not identical to God. This is nicely summarized by in John 1:14, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

It may be noted that the experience of the Holy Spirit is called Shekhinah in Jewish, which is related to the word Sakinah in Islam. It can be argued that any word religion is based on three concepts, a source of truth, expression of that source, and experience of that source.

This is in Christianity God the Father, Word of God, and Spirit of God. The kind of trinity that the Bible discusses, is not special to Christianity but seems to be common to most religions of the word.

Jacobsen: What is the Spiritual Trinity? Is it related to the Biblical Trinity?

Faizal: Now the expression of Trinity in the Bible can lead to a spiritual realization and relation with God. This can be called as the Spiritual Trinity. When it is realized that Jesus is the expression of Word of God in human form, the best realization of the will of God, then the way to get closer to God, would be to imitate the example of Jesus.

John 17:21, “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Coming back to the example of the mirror, if you cannot see the source but only the image in a mirror, and you want to be close to the source, then the best you can do is to be close to the image of the source in the mirror.

This way you can become an image of the image of the source. This means by becoming the image of Jesus, you can also become an indirect Word of God. This is why followers of Jesus can be called as adopted children of God.

Jacobsen: What is the Theological Trinity? Is it how Theologians understand the Trinity?

Faizal: It should first be realized that the main biblical idea that Jesus is the Word of God, is not rejected by any Christian sect including Unitarians. Also in Christianity, the body and soul of Jesus is created in time, but it is like a vessel carrying the Word of God.

Just like the flames, which Moses saw on the mount Mount Sinai, where created but expressed the Word of God, the body and soul of Jesus is created and carries the Word of God. The main difference between theological Trinitarians and theological Unitarian churches is on the issue of the eternity of this Word of God.

According to Unitarians, the Word of God is created and according to Trinitarians, both the Word of God and Spirit of God are not created temporally. It may be noted that God still causally precedes them, but just not temporally.

However, it is important to realize that even though this can be motivated from the Bible, as one of its interpretations, it is not directly related to either the Biblical Trinity, or spiritual experience of the Trinity. It is rather a philosophical statement about the eternity of the Word of God. So theologically trinity is just an assertion that the Word of God is not created in time.

It may be noted that in the first council of Nicaea in 325, the following words were included in the creed: “But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’ — they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.’’

These words were later left out in the first council of Constantinople in 381. But these words make it very clear that the main reason to formulate this creed, was a debate on the eternity of the Word of God. Such a debate on the eternity of Word of God also exists in Islam, with the only difference that Word of God becomes the Quran in Islam, as it becomes Christ in Christianity.

Here Sunnis take a Trinitarians like the view that the Word of God is eternal, and Shias take a Unitarian like the view that the Word of God is created in time. Even in Judaism, the Word of God is expressed to Moses through the burning bush. So Christ in Christianity, is exactly like the burning bush in Judaism, and Quran in Islam.

Jacobsen: How do these Theologians Linguistically define the Trinity? Is that what you mean by the Linguistic Trinity?

Faizal: As the early church developed out of a debate on the eternity of Word of God, language was chosen to make this point clear and unambiguous. This was done by using the word “God’’ for God the creator of heavens and earth, the Word of God and the Spirit of God.

To distinguish between the creator of heavens and earth from his Word and Spirit, the creator of heavens and earth was called God the Father. However, in common language, the word ‘God’ referees to only the creator of heavens and earth.

This is the main source of confusion in understanding Christian theology. As in Christianity, the theological use of the word ‘God’ is different from the common use of the word ‘God’. In common language the word ‘God’ only referees to ‘God the Father’, of Christian theology. In Christian theology, the statement “Jesus is God,” basically means that Jesus is the Word of God, and the Word of God is not created in time but it is eternal.

However, this statement is often misunderstood, as the word ‘God’ in common language only referees to the created of heavens and earth, or God the Father. It is important for Christians to understand this difference between the theological language and common language to understand the theological Trinity.

The interesting thing here is that unlike theological trinity, the biblical trinity, is not a statement about philosophy, but a spiritual statement that can improve a person’s relation with God.

It is also interesting to note that in the Bible such fluidity in the use of language seemed to be allowed by Jesus himself. John 10:34,35,36, “Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be set aside — what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

Here Jesus seems to argue that the language can be used in a flexible way, and the word ‘god’ can be used for others than the God the Father, who created heavens and earth. He basically argues that if people who were given the Word of God can be called gods, then the one who is a manifestation of that Word of God can be called the son of God.

The real important thing to understand here is the main difference between theological and common use of the word ‘God’. In common use the word ‘God’ referees to the creator of heavens and earth, who is called God the Father in theological language.

In theological language, the word ‘God’ referees to all those who are not created in time, and are eternal, and so includes ‘the common notion of God’ along with his Word and Spirit.

Jacobsen: There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding of the Trinity. Many Christians do not see the Trinity this way. How would you describe the common misunderstandings of Trinity?

Faizal: Now we come to the common ways Trinity is misunderstood, and the spiritual problems it creates. I would say that the Trinity is usually misunderstood as either modalism or tritheism. Now, this is not done at a linguistic level, but a physiological and spiritual level. So, I would say that spiritual modalism and spiritual tritheism are the most common misunderstandings of the Trinity.

Jacobsen: What is Spiritual Modalism?

Faizal: As the theological use of the word ‘God’ referees to God the creator of heavens and earth, his Word and his Spirit, and the common use of the word ‘God’ only referees to the creator of heavens and earth, a common misunderstanding of theological trinity is that the Word of God is tautologically equated to God the Father, who created the heavens and earth.

In other words, in Christianity, the statement ‘Jesus is God’ means, that Jesus is the Word of God, this Word of God is eternal and not created in time. This is like the Quran in Islam, and burning bush in Judaism. However, due to the difference between the common and theological use of the word ‘God’, this statement is misunderstood to mean that Jesus is God the Father.

Now, this might not be done linguistically, but it is done physiologically and hence spiritually. Spiritual modalism is one of the main problems in Christianity, and it occurs directly due to an overemphasis on the language of early church father and less emphasis on the language used in the Bible.

It is hard to fall into spiritual modalism, if the language used in the Bible is emphasized, where Jesus is called the Word of God. The biblical spirituality is summarized in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Here Jesus is the way, and the destination is God the Father.

I may add that the light to walk on the way is the Holy Spirit, and the Bible is the pointer to Jesus. But in spiritual modalism, Jesus is the destination, and the Bible is the way and truth. This also is the same with prayers.

According to the Bible, the prayers are to be directed to the heavenly Father, in the name of Word, and getting motivated by the Holy Spirit. In other words, you pray to our Heavenly Father, like Jesus, that not our will but the will of our Heavenly Father be done.

Then you experience Holy Spirit, and develop a closeness to our Heavenly Father. To truly experience Holy Spirit, you need to walk on the path, which is Jesus and pray like him, and by walking on that path you end up directing your focus on God the Father, who created the heavens and earth.

As Jesus is the perfect image of God the Father, by following him, you experience the Holy Spirit, and by experience the Holy Spirit, you come closer to the heavenly Father. In spiritual modalism, all this is messed up, Jesus is tautologically equated to the Father, so you end up praying to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, with no role for the Heavenly Father.

This is a physiological mess and a spiritual mess, and occurs due to direct neglect of language used in the Bible. It may be noted in Christianity, the statement used to describe Jesus is that ‘Jesus is God’, and the position of spiritual modalism can be described as ‘God is Jesus’.

Again going back to the example of the burning bush of Moses. Moses could have said, that he talked to God in the burning bush, but he would never say ‘God is a burning bush on Mount Sinai’. In the same, way as Jesus is a perfect image of God, it can be said ‘Jesus is God’, but you cannot say ‘God is Jesus’, just as you cannot say ‘God is a burning bush’.

Going back to the simple example of an image in the mirror. If you see an image of Lincoln in the mirror, or his perfect picture, you can point to that picture and say that he is Lincoln. But it will be absurd to say Lincoln is an image in a mirror, or a photo in your pocket.

In other words, the statement that the picture is Lincoln is correct, but is foolish to say Lincoln is a picture. In the same way, it is correct to say Jesus is God, but it wrong to say God is Jesus.

Jacobsen: What is Spiritual Tritheism?

Faizal: Another misunderstanding which occurs in theological Trinity. It is when Jesus is viewed as a different god, from God the Father. Physiologically, again Jesus is not seen as the Word of God, but as a separate independent God. This again does not occur at a linguistic level, but at a spiritual level, and can be called as spiritual tritheism.

In other words, in Christianity theology, the word ‘God’ denotes God the creator, his Word, and his Spirit. However, when Word of God is called ‘God’, it means that it is eternal and not created in time. It represents the will of God, and this Word takes a practical manifestation in the form of Jesus.

However, as the word ‘God’ is commonly used for the creator of heavens and earth, this statement is misunderstood to mean that Jesus is an independent god, and God the creator is one among three gods. This again produces confusion in terms of the spiritual relationship with God, as Jesus is in this cases viewed as a god besides God the Father, and not as the Word of God, a perfect image God the Father, and a way to the Heavenly Father.

A simple example of a mirror will help understand this point again. You can look at the picture of Lincoln in the mirror and say this is Lincolnbut it will be nonsensical to say that the picture is an independent Lincoln and the mirror image of Lincoln is yet another independent LincolnIn other words, it will not make any sense to say Lincoln is one among three Lincolns.

In the same way, you can say Jesus is God, as he is the Word of God, but you cannot say God is one among three gods. As there is only one God, and the word theologically word ‘God’ is also used for the Holy Spirit and Word of God to show that they are eternal and not created, and biblically the Word of God denotes his will, which is perfectly manifestation in the form of Jesus, just as it was manifested before as a burning bush.

Jacobsen: What is the Quranic approach to Christianity.

Faizal: I would like to differentiate the Quranic approach to Christianity, from the response of Muslims theologians. Muslim theology developed from the Quran, just like Christian theology developed from the Bible. However, the Quranic view of Christianity seems to be more profound, and deeper than that developed by Muslim theologians.

Jacobsen: The main source of confusion and disagreement starts from the idea that in Christianity, God has a son, and in Islam God has no son. Should we discuss that even before, we do in details of Trinity?

Faizal: I agree that before discussion Quranic View on Trinity, it is important to clarify the meaning of the words ‘Walad of God’ and ‘Ibn of God’, both of which are sometimes translated as ‘Son of God’. Walad is a word which has a direct sexual meaning. It most closely resembles the word “biological son of God’’ or “sexually produced a son of God’.”

Now as it can also mean begotten, a derivative of this word has been used by Arab Christians in their creedal statement. However, as this word sounds really sexual, this word is not commonly used by the Arab Christians. They rather use the word Ibn, which means son in the sense of a parental relationship of love.

However, as Christianity spread in Arabia when the debate on the eternity of Word of God was still active, they ended up using a derivative of Walad in their creedal statement. This would have sounded very bad to pagan Arabs, and they would have misunderstood Christianity to mean that God has a biological son.

It was in this context that the Quran criticized the use of the Word Walad. Quran 6: 101, “To Him is due to the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: How can He have a Walad (biological son) when He hath no consort? He created all things, and He hath full knowledge of all things.” However, as this is not a Christian position, never does the Quran say that Christian says that God has a Walad.

Quran addresses these people, but never calls them Christians, as this is not a Christian position. As an example, Quran 2:116, “They say: “(God) hath begotten a Walad (biological son)”: Glory be to Him. -Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: everything renders worship to Him.”

On the other hand, the Quran says very clearly that Jews and Christians use the word Ibn both for themselves as Children of God, and Jesus or even Ezra. To understand each of these verses, we need some context.

The first verses criticize few Jews and Christians at the time of Muhammad, who claim to be chosen of God, his beloved, his Children, but do not lead a righteous life. Quran 5:18, “(Both) the Jews and the Christians say: “We are Ibna (sons) of God, and his beloved.” Say: “Why then doth He punish you for your sins?…” Here clearly Quran makes two points, it clearly says that Jews and Christians use the word Ibn (sons) in a relationship sense, which can mean beloved.

Quran also states that those who do not lead a righteous life cannot be called children of God, just as Bible mentions in John 3:10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

In summary Ibn (son) of God can mean his beloved of God. Now we come to the verses, where the Quran says, Christian use the word ibn for Jesus. Quran 9: 30,31, “The Jews call ‘Ezra (ibn) son of God, and the Christians call Christ (ibn) son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. God’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God, and Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God. there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).”

To understand this verse, we first note that Ezra is called as the father of Judaism, as it was due to his efforts that Judaism took its present form. In other words, Ezra is someone that Jews should follow to be good Jews, and Jesus is someone that Christians should follow to be good Christians.

However, for those people who only say they follow them by their tongue and actually follow their priests and anchorites, they are only saying with their tongue what is not in their heart. This is what seems to be criticized here.

This is a general pattern in Quran, that it criticizes those people who say something with their tongue, which is not in their heart, for example, in Quran 63:1, “When the Hypocrites come to thee, they say, ‘We bear witness that thou art indeed the Messenger of God.’ Yea, God knoweth that thou art indeed His Messenger, and God beareth witness that the Hypocrites are indeed liars.”

To understand this verse better from a Muslim perspective, it will be helpful if the son is replaced by beloved, as the previous verses already show both are somehow related. Then this verse could be read as “The Jews call ‘Ezra beloved of God, and the Christians call Christ beloved of God. That is a saying from their mouth; …… They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God….’’

The main point here is that the Quran does not seem to have a criticism of Ibn like Walad, and Quran never said Christians use the word Walad for Jesus. Quran always seems to refer to people that those people who use the word Walad as such without calling them Christians, as Walad (biological son) of God is not a Christian position. Quran does criticize those Christians who just say they follow Jesus, but actually, do not live a righteous life, and rather live as children of the devil (according to the Bible).

So, in general, we should use to translate the word Walad as a biological son rather than a son. This will refer to those Arab Christians who use such a word in their creed, and basically tell them not to use it, in a cultural context, where it can be seen sexually.

Jacobsen: What is Qurans stance on Biblical Trinity?

Faizal: Quran fully affirms biblical Trinity. Quran seems to be more Trinitarian than even the Bible in this context, as it clearly mentions Jesus as the Word of God, something which is only mentioned indirectly in the Bible.

Quran 3:45, “Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God.”

Quran 2: 253, “Those apostles We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them Allah spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honor); to Jesus, the son of Mary We gave clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit… This is much more direct than what is found in the Bible.”

Jacobsen: What is Quran’s stance on the Theological Trinity?

Faizal: The Theological Trinity deals with the eternity of the Word of God. It is interesting to note that the Quran does not discuss theological trinity at all. There seems to be no discussion of this topic at all.

This might also be the reason that Muslims, have later debated this topic again, with the only difference that the Word of God becomes the Quran in Islam. However, it is interesting to note that the Quran does use the word ‘Word of God’ for Jesus too.

Jacobsen: What is Qurans stance on the Linguistic Trinity?

Faizal: Quran has a mild criticism of the language used by church father for describing trinity. Quran basically tells Christians, that if you want to say Jesus is the Word of God, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, use the biblical language, and say that directly.

It advises them to avoid such language, that can lead to spiritual modalism and spiritual tritheism. However, the criticism seems to more like advice, and not a very shape criticism like Quran has for spiritual modalism and spiritual tritheism. Quran 4:171, “O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was an apostle of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in God and His apostles. Say not “three”: desist: it will be better for you: for God is one God. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a Walad (biological son). To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of affairs.”

Now here first the verse tells Christians not to commit excess in their religion, not follow a different religion. Then it goes on to describe biblical trinity, with God, his Word, and his Spirit. It goes even further than the Bible and directly states that Jesus is the Word of God.

This is followed by advice that it will be better to not use the language of early church father, and it will be better for you as Christians if you stick to biblical language. However, it does not claim if this language is used, it will be an offense for which they will be punished. The problem is that it can lead to an offense in the form of spiritual modalism and spiritual tritheism

Jacobsen: What is Qurans stance on Spiritual Trinity?

Faizal: Quran praises the early followers of Jesus, and advises people who believe in the Quran to follow their example. These people did derive spiritual inspiration from a spiritual trinity. Quran 61:14, “O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of God. As said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, ‘Who will be my helpers to God.’ Said the disciples, ‘We are God’s helpers!.’”

Quran also advises Christians to follow the gospels and warms those who do not follow it properly. Quran 5:47, “Let the people of the Gospel judge by what God hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what God hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.”

Jacobsen: Now we can discuss what Qurans stance is on misunderstandings of the Trinity. The first thing, what is Quran’s stance on Spiritual Modalism?

Faizal: Now as we discussed, in Christianity it is stated that Jesus is God, just like a picture of Lincoln can be called Lincoln. But Lincoln is not a picture, God is not Jesus. In summary, we can say Jesus is God, as this can mean that he is the Word of God, and a perfect image of God the Father.

But God is not Jesus, and this would mean that the creator of heavens and earth is identified with his image. This is interesting as the Quran criticizes the idea that God is Jesus, and not Jesus is God. Quran 5:72, “They do blaspheme who say: ‘God is Christ the son of Mary.’” The verse here is very interesting. As it exactly mentions spiritual modalism.

It criticizes the statement ‘God is Jesus’ and not ‘Jesus is God,’ as the statement ‘Jesus is God’ can mean that Jesus is the Word of God, but ‘’God is Jesus’’ can only mean that the Heavenly Father is Jesus. Only if a person is psychologically and spiritually following modalism, can he utter such a statement? This is what the Quran criticizes.

Jacobsen: After Spiritual Modalism, I would like to ask you about Spiritual Tritheism. What is the Quran’s stance on Spiritual Tritheism?

Faizal: Christianity states that Jesus is an image of the Heavenly father as he is the Word of God made flesh and not some independent god besides God the Father. Rather he is a perfect image of God, and can be thus called as God, son of God, servant of God, or Word of God. The idea that Jesus is an independent god besides God, would mean that God is one among three gods.

This is the idea that the Quran strongly rejects. Quran 5:73, “They do blaspheme who say: God is the third of three: for there is no god except One God…” Again summarizing the problem of spiritual tritheism.

The idea that Jesus was some independent god, different and independent from the Heavenly Father, is strongly criticized in the Quran, but the idea that Jesus was Word of God is totally affirmed by the Quran. It may be noted that this criticize is spiritual and not theological, as Quran criticizes those who take Jesus and Mary as gods besides God in Quran 5:116.

This cannot be a criticism of theology as Mary is not considered divine in any Christian theology, so it has to be understood as a spiritual criticize of tritheism, where Jesus is physiologically taken as a god besides Heavenly Father, and not as the Word of the Heavenly Father.

The main biblical idea that Jesus is the Word of God, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, is fully supported by the Quran and stated in more clear terms than even the Bible.

Jacobsen: Can you summarize your views on discussed here?

Faizal: Yes, I can summarize these findings here:

1. In Bible Trinity, refers to Jesus being the Word of God, which is the way to walk on, if you want to reach the Heavenly Father. The spirit provides the strength to walk on this way, and the end goal is to reach the Heavenly Father.

2. This provides a spiritual understanding, where a person prays as Jesus prayed that the will of the Heavenly Father be done and not his own will, and is strengthened by the Holy Spirit in that process. This is the spiritual trinity.

3. There is a theological Trinity, where it is stated that the Word of God eternal and not created in time.

4. There is a linguistic expression of Trinity, where the word ‘God’ is used for not only, God the creator, but also his Word and his Spirit. This is done to emphasize the eternity of the Word of God.

5. The misunderstanding of linguistic expression of Trinity can lead to spiritual modalism and spiritual tritheism.

6. Quran supports biblical and spiritual trinity. Quran does not comment on the theological Trinity. Quran mildly advises against the linguistic expression of the Trinity, as they can lead to modalism and tritheism. Quran strongly criticizes spiritual modalism and spiritual tritheism. Quran also criticizes the use of dirty words for God, such as a biological son (Walad) of God. However, the Quran never says that Christians say God has a biological son (Walad).

7. In summary, Christianity is as monotheistic as Judaism and Islam, with just a different linguistic expression for its monotheistic beliefs.

8. Muslims should know that when Christians say Jesus is God, they just mean Jesus is Word of God, and Word of God is eternal. If they want to ask Christians, if they consider Jesus as God in the way the word God is understood in common language, they should ask them if Jesus is the Heavenly Father, who created the heavens and earth, and they will get the answer is negative.

9. Christians should avoid the words like Son of God, as Muslims might understand it in biological terms. They can find common terms, like Word of God for Jesus, and Creator for Heavens Father, and they can find common ground to talk to each other.

10. Here we have argued that the Quran can be reinterpreted in a way that it promotes a deeper understanding of Christianity, rather than its rejection. As Quran states in 5:48 To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety… So Quran is an explanation, guard and affirmation of the Bible and not a negation of the Bible.

Sometimes, in Islamic theology, this point has been missed. For example, the identification of Holy Spirit with Gabriel in Islamic theology seems to miss the point that if Quran used it in a Christian context (in relation with Jesus), its meaning has to be restricted to what Christians would understand from it. Similarly, sometimes Christians seem to be to fixed on the use words, that they do not focus on the meaning of those words. However, the concept of God in Christianity is similar to the concept of God in Judaism and Islam. So Christianity is monotheistic like Judaism and Islam.

Jacobsen: Thank you very much, Dr. Faizal, these views may help build bridges between Christianity and Islam, having a theological reconciliation can help build a way for political reconciliation, and will help the cause of peace in the world.

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