Mr. Al-Kadhi continues his assault against the Trinity be implying that Trinitarian "scholars" deny, or at least seriously question, the existence of the Trinity. After all, according to Al-Kadhi, the Trinity was the invention of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea. When reading this section, we must remember two questions: Who are these "scholars" and precisely what are they saying?
The Trinity is a concept that many Muslims simply love to hate and some, such as Al-Kadhi, labor very diligently in order to misunderstand and misinterpret this doctrine. To begin this discussion, we must first realize that many Muslims misunderstand the concept of the Trinity. Christians do not worship three Gods, nor do they consider Mary a member of the Trinity as Sura 5:116 incorrectly implies. The Trinity is God, God's Word, and God's Spirit - not three Gods.
The one true God, was well established in the Old Testament (Isaiah 43:10 and Deuteronomy 6:4), and is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is called "God" in the Bible. The Father is God (Galatians 1:1 and Titus 1:4) ; the Son (or Word), is repeatedly called God (John 1:1,14, Acts 20:28, John 20:28, Titus 2:13, and Hebrews 1:8); and the Holy Spirit is identified as God in various Scriptures (Acts 5:3-4, 1 John 4:2,3, and Hebrews 10:15,16). The concept of the unity within the Trinity is seen in Matthew 28:19, where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comprise one "name" because the term is singular in Greek. Incidentally, the Koran also testifies to the existence of the Holy Spirit as a separate manifestation of the godhead: "We gave Jesus the Son of Mary evidence, clear [signs] and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit" (Sura 2:87) and "To Jesus the Son of Mary We gave clear [signs], and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit" (Sura 2:253). If Mr. Al-Kadhi wishes to read about the nature of God in the Bible, the account of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist clearly reveals the existence of a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
A second issue that Mr. Al-Kadhi loves to belabor is the first Ecumenical Council of Nicea. Al-Kadhi, and many other Muslim apologists, believe that the Council of Nicea was a vehicle by which the Emperor Constantine foisted the concept of the Trinity on Christianity. This viewpoint reflects Mr. Al-Kadhi's complete misunderstanding (or intentional distortion) of Church history. The Council of Nicea was not called to debate the Trinity, in fact no such controversy even existed at that time. During this first age of the Christian Church, the main topic that was debated by orthodox Christians and various heretics, was the issue of the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. These debates did not extend beyond the consideration of the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus. [For more detail see this article on The Council of Nicea.] The formulation of the Trinity was a explanation of the nature of God that was derived completely from the Bible. For those of you who are interested in this topic, read the primary documents of the Nicean Council. Mr. Al-Kadhi makes a great amount of noise over the fact that the term "Trinity" did not exist during the lifetime of the Apostles. The Apostles would not have been aware of the term, however, they were most certainly aware of the concept of God, God's Word (Jesus), and God's Spirit (Holy Spirit).
Now Mr. Al-Kadhi goes on to cite his "scholars" in order to make his argument against the Trinity. Al-Kadhi makes the same error that many of my freshman students make: any words that are printed on paper must be true if these words support their claims. He also continues his bad little habit of quoting things out of context and never cites primary sources. In fact, he attempts to use the Encyclopedia Britannica to make his point! He also enjoys "establishing" writers who disagree with the teachings of orthodox Christianity as "Christian" or "Trinitarian" scholars. Let us look at Mr. Al-Kadhi's citations and what they really say:
Al-Kadhi's first source is the New Catholic Encyclopedia. I disagree with some of the theological teachings of this work, however, it is of very high scholastic quality. Even Mr. Al-Kadhi gives respect to this wonderful work saying: "(Bearing the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, indicating official approval) we get a glimpse of how the concept of the Trinity was not introduced into Christianity until close to four hundred years after Jesus (pbuh)". Incidentally, for those of us who do not understand Latin (this probably includes Mr. Al-Kadhi), "Nihil obstat" (Latin for "no problem") indicates that the work has been reviewed by a knowledgeable clergyman and "Imprimatur" (Latin for "let it be printed") indicates that a Bishop permitted the printing of the work. According to The New Catholic Encyclopedia:
Now, Al-Kadhi is really excited: `They admit it! Jesus' twelve apostles lived and died never having heard of any "Trinity"!' No, Mr. Al-Kadhi! You are deliberately mixing terms and concepts. They did not know of the term "Trinity", but they most certainly knew of the concept. Please refer to the numerous verses that I mentioned in my introduction and read them!
Mr. Al-Kadhi continues, in his great excitement, by saying:
Jesus left his disciples with overwhelming proof concerning the Triune nature of God. There are numerous references that reveal the concept, of what we now call the Trinity, in both the Old and New Testaments. The Apostles and early Christians were very familiar with these verses and the ideas that they conveyed. Incidentally, for those of you who want to know what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about the Trinity, please read the online version - this entry (as well as the rest of the book) is excellent. Read this entry and decide for yourself if Mr. Al-Kadhi has an adequate understanding of the Trinity.
Al-Kadhi then cites The Dictionary of the Bible which, he proudly announces as "bearing the Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, and Imprimi Potest (official Church seals of approval)". Imprimi Potest is the Latin term for "it can be printed".
The Trinity IS implied in the Bible and the term "Trinity" is an explanation used by humans to attempt to comprehend the nature of God. This is one of many distorting quotations by Al-Kadhi. Has Mr. Al-Kadhi made any effort to read and understand the complete article from which he quotes? What does it actually say? Note the words "explicitly" and "formally". KcKenzie does NOT deny that the teaching is Biblical, he only states correctly that these exact formulations are not used in the Bible itself but were developed later. The concept is Biblical. We have decided to present more of McKenzie's entry so that the reader can see for himself that McKenzie clearly states that the doctrine of the Trinity is based on the Biblical data.
Al-Kadhi's next "scholar" is the religion reporter for the Toronto Sunday Star, Tom Harpur, who wrote in his book "For Christ's Sake" (my comments in bold):
Mr. Harpur is a very eloquent and highly educated man and I have read many of his articles and books. Unfortunately, he has fallen in to the trap of "Modernism" and admits that he is an "uncomfortable Christian" who does not believe in the exclusive claims of religion. I assume that he would also disagree with Islam's exclusive claims.
Mr. Al-Kadhi once again cites the Oxford Companion to the Bible:
Once again Mr. Al-Kadhi cuts and pastes phrases to get what he wants. He used this same technique to quote this same book out of context in another chapter. If Al-Kadhi had continued reading this entry, he would have found an excellent definition and defense of the Trinity. But then again, I do not believe that a finding a good definition or explanation is his goal!
The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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