Part 1: Trinity
By Sam Shamoun
Some years ago, Alharamain Foundation published "60 Question for the Christians", an article designed to raise doubts in the Christian Faith. This article has been spread widely and is found on several Muslim websites (1, 2, 3, to list just a few). In the following, we want to give answers to those supposedly difficult questions.
According to most Christians, Jesus was God incarnate, full man and full God. Can the finite and the infinite be one? "To be full" God means freedom from finite forms and from helplessness, and to be "full man" means the absence of divinity.
The questioner commits a categorical fallacy and attacks a strawman. Historic Christianity has never taught that God at the Incarnation became finite, or that God became helpless. Informed Christians do not claim that the infinite and the finite became one, but rather that the infinite and finite were united in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was both God and man simultaneously without these natures fusing or mixing together. These two natures always remain distinct.
Question 1. To be son is to be less than divine and to be divine is to be no ones son. How could Jesus have the attributes of sonship and divinity altogether?
The questioner assumes that the term "son" carries only one meaning. This fails to take into consideration that the term son has a broad range of meanings throughout the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible often uses the term "son" in a spiritual and metaphorical manner. (Cf. Hosea 1:10; John 1:12-13; Galatians 4:4-7; 1 John 3:1-2, 9-10; 4:4-7; 5:1-2, 18-19)
Scripture also uses the term to describe the nature, position, status and/or class of being that a specific person or group shares. When the phrase "son of" is used it often, but not always, implies membership and/ or participation in a specific class. Several examples help demonstrate this point:
"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose The Nephilim were on the earth in those days-and also afterward-when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown." Genesis 6:1-2, 4 (Cf. Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7)
Many ancient and modern translations understand the preceding verses to be referring to supernatural angelic beings:
"supernatural beings" TEV1, CEV
"heavenly beings" TEV2, New Jewish P.S.,
"angels" LXX Codex Alexandrinus, Moffatt
"sons of heaven" NAB
This being the case the phrase "sons of God" as used of angels points to their status as heavenly creatures, spirit beings who originate from heaven, belonging to the spiritual realm where God dwells as opposed to humans who are of earthly origin, from dust. (Cf. Genesis 2:7; 3:19)
"While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men (lit., sons of Belial) of the city surrounded the house " Judges 19:22
"Elis sons were wicked men (lit., sons of Belial); they had no regard for the LORD." 1 Samuel 2:12
According to the New Testament, Belial or Baal is another name for Satan. (Cf. Matthew 12:24-27; 2 Corinthians 6:15) The phrase "sons of Belial" refers to individuals who were evil and wicked, qualities associated with Satan. In other words, these individuals were wicked and therefore belonged to the Devil. The Lord Jesus made a similar point when addressing the unbelieving Jews of his day:
"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out YOUR FATHERS DESIRES. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44
Other examples include:
"By the word of the LORD one of the sons of the prophets said to his companion, Strike me with your weapon, but the man refused." 1 Kings 20:35
To be called a son of the prophets meant that one belonged to the class of prophets and was therefore a prophet.
"So the sons of the singers were assembled from the district around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathites," Nehemiah 12:28 NASB
Again, to be called a son of the singers meant that one belonged to the class of singers and was therefore a singer.
Similarly, Jesus is called the unique Son of God because he shares in the nature of God. Jesus belongs to that class of being and existence that is true of God alone. Therefore, for Jesus to be Gods Son means that Jesus is truly and fully divine much like Jesus use of the Son of Man meant that Christ was truly and fully human.
Question 2. Christians assert that Jesus claimed to be God when they quote him in John 14:9: "He that has seen me has seen the Father". Didnt Jesus clearly say that people have never seen God, as it says in John 5:37: "And the father himself which Has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have NEITHER HEARD HIS VOICE AT ANY TIME NOR SEEN HIS SHAPE"?
The questioner has falsely assumed that to say that Jesus is God is equivalent to saying that Jesus is the Father. The questioner has assumed his conclusion from the outset, namely that God is a uni-personal Being as opposed to being tri-personal. Therefore, the questioner has presumed that anytime Jesus or the New Testament claims that Jesus is God implies that Jesus is the Father.
Yet the doctrine of the Trinity entails that there are three distinct Persons who are the one God. The Persons are equal in nature and essence, not in Person. They are distinct. The passage alluded to above states that the group that Jesus was addressing had never seen God THE FATHER. The passage is not stating that no one has ever seen GOD. The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus is God revealed in visible form:
"No one has ever seen GOD, but God the One and Only (i.e. Jesus), who is at THE FATHERS SIDE, has made HIM known." John 1:18
"And THE FATHER who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard HIS voice nor seen HIS form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one HE sent." John 5:37-38
The Holy Bible clearly teaches that no one has seen or is able to see the Father in his unveiled essential glory and nature:
"to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time-God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen." 1 Timothy 6:14-16
Yet Christ claims that he has seen God. Christ also claims to fully and perfectly know the Father in the very same manner that the Father knows the Son:
"No one has seen THE FATHER except the one who is from God (i.e., Jesus); only he has seen THE FATHER." John 6:46
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Matthew 11:27
This makes Christ more than human since no mere human can see or fully comprehend the person and nature of the Father.
The reason why Christ can claim to have seen and know the Father is because Christ himself is in very nature God, being the very precise image and exact representation of the Fathers character and essence:
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." Colossians 1:15
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form," Colossians 2:9
"but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Hebrews 1:2-3
This is precisely why Christ could say that he who sees him sees the Father:
"And Jesus cried out and said, He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me sees him who sent me." John 12:44-45
"Philip said, Lord show us the Father and that will be enough for us. Jesus answered: Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me who is doing his work." John 14:8-10
Since Christ is equal to the Father is in essence and nature, having all the attributes of God perfectly and completely, he alone perfectly reveals God to man. It does not mean that Christ is the Father, but that he alone is able to reveal the Father completely since he is the exact representation and reflection of the Fathers nature and glory, being God in physical form. Hence, what the Father is invisibly, Christ is visibly.
Question 3. Christians say that Jesus was God because he was called Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, and "savior". Ezekiel was addressed in the Bible as Son of Man. Jesus spoke of "the peace makers" as Sons of God. Any person who followed the Will and Plan of God was called SON OF GOD in the Jewish tradition and in their language (Genesis 6:2,4; Exodus 4:22; Psalm 2:7; Romans 8:14). "Messiah" which in Hebrew means "Gods anointed" and not "Christ", and "Cyrus" the person is called "Messiah" or "the anointed". As for "savior", in II KINGS 13:5, other individuals were given that title too without being gods. So where is the proof in these terms that Jesus was God when the word son is not exclusively used for him alone?
The questioner commits the fallacy of false analogy and the fallacy of equivocation. The questioner does not take into consideration that various titles may have different meanings depending upon the context. For example, the use of "son of man" in reference to Ezekiel is to highlight his humanity and mortality. Yet Jesus is identified as the heavenly Son of Man of Daniels vision, the One who is given sovereign rule over all flesh and who receives an eternal kingdom:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14
Now compare the above citation with Jesus "Son of Man" statements:
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matthew 16:27-28
"Peter answered him, We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." Matthew 19:27-30
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." Matthew 25:31-34
"Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Matthew 28:18
"If anyone is ashamed of ME and MY WORDS in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mark 8:38
Therefore, the use of the title Son of Man in relation to Christ is to highlight his divine authority and his sovereign rulership.
The title also serves to highlight Jesus humanity. The "Son of Man" is used to demonstrate Christs willingness to become man in order to identify with the humanity that he came to redeem:
"It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: What is man that you are mindful of him, THE SON OF MAN that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet. In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again he says, Here am I, and the children God has given me. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:5-18
In point of fact, Jesus uses the phrase "Son of Man" to denote both his divine prerogatives and divine functions. For instance, Jesus as the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), forgives sins (Mark 2:1-12), judges all flesh (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:27), and sits at God's right hand (Mark 14:62).
The same is true with the title son of God. Certain individuals are called "son of God" either because they were part of Gods Covenant community and recipients of his promises, they lived in submission to Gods decrees, and/or because of their personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet Jesus is the divine preexistent Son of God, the One through whom God made all things:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not SEND his Son INTO the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18
"Yes, Lord, she told him, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come INTO the world." John 11:27
"For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by SENDING his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man," Romans 8:3
"But when the time had fully come, God SENT his Son, born of a woman, born under law," Galatians 4:4
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of THE SON he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. HE is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by HIM all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by HIM and for HIM. HE is before all things, and in HIM all things hold together. And HE is the head of the body, the church; HE is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything HE might have the supremacy." Colossians 1:13-18
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by HIS SON, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. THE SON is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Hebrews 1:1-3
"But about THE SON he says In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." Hebrews 1:8a, 10-12
"This is how God showed his love among us: He SENT his one and only Son INTO the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and SENT his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins And we have seen and testify that the Father has SENT his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God." 1 John 4:9-10, 14-15
Even though it is quite true that Cyrus is referred to as Gods Anointed, the Hebrew Scriptures point to one Person in particular who was to be greater than all the rest. This one would be the final and supremely anointed one of God and would be from the house of David.
It should be pointed out that prophets, priests and kings were generally consecrated to their respective positions by being anointed with Gods special oil prepared by the priests. This anointing symbolized the persons divine commission, that the individual had been set apart and empowered by God to assume a specific role or position. (Cf. Exodus 30:22-31; 1 Samuel 10:1, 16:12-13; Jeremiah 1:5)
This in a sense made them types of the Messiah that was to come into the world, since the Messiah was to be a prophet, priest and king.
As prophet, the Messiah would deliver Gods words to the people:
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die. The LORD said to me: What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account." Deuteronomy 18:15-18
As priest, he would atone for sins and live forever to intercede for Gods people:
"The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." Psalm 110:4
In fact, the OT teaches that the Messiah would usher in everlasting righteousness and eradicate sin once and for all through his own death. The scriptures indicate that this was take place before the destruction of the second temple:
"Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? FOR HE WAS CUT OFF FROM THE LAND OF THE LIVING; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORDs will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:1-12
"Seventy sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One (the Messiah), the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens, and sixty-two sevens. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two sevens, the Anointed One WILL BE CUT OFF and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed." Daniel 9:24-26
As king, he would reign over the nations forever:
"Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the Earth set themselves, and the rulers take council together, against the LORD and His Anointed (Messiah), saying, Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens laughs; The LORD has them in derision, then He will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, I have set MY KING on Zion, my holy hill. I will tell of the decree of the LORD; He said to me, You are MY SON, today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Now therefore, O kings, be wise, be warned o rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss HIS SON, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; For his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in HIM." Psalm 2:1-11
"The LORD says to my Lord: Sit on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." Psalm 110:1
These passages proclaim that this specific Messiah predicted to come would be the Son of God, the King of all the nations who sits on Gods right hand forever, the Eternal Priest of God, as well as Gods prophet/spokesperson to the people.
That Jesus is the one spoken of in these passages becomes quite clear when reading the New Testament:
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!' But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his Father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:26-33
"Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people. Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days." Acts 3:17-24
"When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. Sovereign Lord, they said, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One." Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen." Acts 4:24-28
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:21-26
"Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, You are my Son; today I have become your Father. And he says in another place, You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 5:1-10
"He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever." Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all WHEN HE OFFERED HIMSELF. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever." Hebrews 7:13-17, 20-28
"When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all BY HIS OWN BLOOD, having obtained eternal redemption For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, SO CHRIST WAS SACRIFICED ONCE to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Hebrews 9:11-12, 24-28
"And by that will, we have been made holy THROUGH THE SACRIFICE OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, HE SAT AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. Since that time he waits FOR HIS ENEMIES TO BE MADE HIS FOOTSTOOL, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin." Hebrews 10:10-14, 18
In regards to the title "savior", the questioner assumes that the use of the same time for other prophets and messengers refutes any divine significance it may have when used of Christ. The questioner fails to realize that no informed Christian claims that the term by itself implies divinity. Rather, the context indicates whether the phrase contains any divine overtones.
In relation to the passage cited by the questioner, the term is used to refer to Gods use of human agents to deliver his people from oppression and captivity:
"In the twenty-third year of King Joash son of Azariah of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu began to reign seventeen years. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin; he did not depart from them. The anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that he gave them repeatedly into the hand of King Hazael of Aram, then into the hand of Ben-hadad son of Hazael. But Jehoahaz entreated the LORD, and the LORD heeded him; for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Aram oppressed them. Therefore the LORD gave them a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Arameans; and the people of Israel lived in their homes as formerly." 2 Kings 13:1-5
Yet Jesus is a different kind of Savior, one who not only saves Gods people from oppression but from the consequence of sin, which is eternal separation from God in hell:
"She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
"The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
"They said to the woman, It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world." John 4:42
"I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." John 12:47
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15
"and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6
No other prophet ever claimed to be the savior of the world or a savior from sin. This honor belongs to Jesus Christ alone.
In his zeal to disprove the divinity of Christ, the questioner overlooked a very interesting point. Despite the fact that the Holy Bible presents certain individuals that share similar titles and functions of Christ, not one single individual combines all these titles and functions together. This honor belongs to the Lord Jesus alone. This in itself sufficiently demonstrates Christs preeminence and superiority and sufficiently refutes the questioners attempts to nullify the uniqueness and supremacy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Question 4. Christians claim that Jesus acknowledged that he and God were one in the sense of nature when he says in John 10:30 "I and my father are one". Later on in John 17:21-23, Jesus refers to his followers and himself and God as one in five places. So why did they give the previous "one" a different meaning from the other five "ones?
The questioner once again commits the fallacy of equivocation and of false analogy. The term "one" can have different meanings in different contexts. In John 17:21-23, oneness implies being one in purpose and unity, that the disciples will work in perfect harmony and be one in accord much like the Father and Son are in their relationship with one another.
Yet the context of John 10:30 shows that oneness here isnt simply limited to unity and purpose, but includes power and essence as well:
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE, AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH; NO ONE CAN SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; NO ONE CAN SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY FATHER'S HAND. I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE." John 10:27-30
Jesus is one with the Father in essence and nature since Christ grants eternal life and has the power to preserve his believers from perishing. Yet for Christ to be able to both preserve life and grant eternal life makes him God since only God can do these things:
"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I PUT TO DEATH AND I BRING TO LIFE, I HAVE WOUNDED AND I WILL HEAL, AND NO ONE CAN DELIVER OUT OF MY HAND." Deuteronomy 32:39
"The LORD brings death AND MAKES ALIVE; he brings down to the grave and raises up." 1 Samuel 2:6
"You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed- I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. NO ONE CAN DELIVER OUT OF MY HAND. When I act, who can reverse it?" Isaiah 43:10-13
Accordingly, the New Testament teaches that Christ raises the dead from the grave:
"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD AND THOSE WHO HEAR WILL LIVE Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming WHEN ALL WHO ARE IN THEIR GRAVES WILL HEAR HIS VOICE AND COME OUT- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." John 5:25, 28-29
For Jesus to be able to do that which God alone can do implies that Jesus is God. Furthermore, for Christ to be able to do what the Father does implies that the Father and the Son are equal in nature, since the scriptures clearly teach that they are distinct in Person:
"But if I do judge, my decisions are right, BECAUSE I AM NOT ALONE. I STAND WITH THE FATHER, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of TWO MEN is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; MY OTHER WITNESS IS THE FATHER, who sent me." John 8:16-18
This means that both the Father and the Son are the one true God. They are not one and the same person, but rather they are one in nature and power.
Question 5. Is God three-in-one and one in three simultaneously or one at a time?
The questioner fails to explain what does three-in-one precisely mean? Does it mean that God is one Person in three Persons simultaneously? If so, then Trinitarians do not believe this. Does it mean that God is one Being in three Beings simultaneously? Again, the answer is definitely no. If it means that God is one infinite Personal Being simultaneously existing in three distinct, yet inseparable Persons then the answer is yes.
Yet here we must define what Trinitarians mean by "Being" and "Person". Dr. James R. White helps explain the difference between the two terms:
It is necessary here to distinguish between the terms "being" and "person." It would be a contradiction, obviously, to say that there are three beings within one being, or three persons within one person. So what is the difference? We clearly recognize the difference between being and person every day. We recognize what something is, yet we also recognize individuals within a classification. For example, we speak of the "being" of man---human being. A rock has "being"---the being of a rock, as does a cat, a dog, etc. Yet, we also know that there are personal attributes as well. That is, we recognize both "what" and "who" when we talk about a person.
The Bible tells us there are three classifications of personal beings---God, man, and angels. What is personality? The ability to have emotion, will, to express oneself. Rocks cannot speak. Cats cannot think of themselves over against others, and, say, work for the common good of "cat kind." Hence, we are saying that there is one eternal, infinite being of God, shared fully and completely by three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. One what, three who's. (Dr. James R. White, A Brief Definition of the Trinity: http://aomin.org/trinitydef.html; bold emphasis ours)
Hence, by "Person" Trinitarians mean that there are three conscious agents within the one Being of God who are aware of both their own personal existence and the existence of the other members. Because of this, the three Persons are able to have intimate communion and fellowship amongst themselves. By using the term "Person" Trinitarians are not saying that there are three material entities that occupy space or exist within time.
Question 6. If God is one and three simultaneously, then none of the three could be the complete God. Granting that such was the case, then when Jesus was on earth, he wasnt a complete God, nor was the "father in Heaven" a whole God. Doesnt that contradict what Jesus always said about His God and our God in heaven, his Lord and our Lord? Does that also mean that there was no complete god then, between the claimed crucifixion and the claimed resurrection?
This is the fallacy of false dilemma. Who says that the three cannot be completely God at the same? This is not a biblical argument. Rather it is an argument stemming from the questioners finite reasoning and understanding. Seeing that the questioner is neither God nor an authority on what God can or cannot do he is no position to tell us that Jesus on earth and the Father in heaven means that neither Person could be completely God.
The questioner assumes that for Jesus to be on earth while the Father was in heaven somehow implies that God was separated into distinct parts. This fails to take into consideration that all three members of the Godhead are omnipresent. The fact that the three Persons are omnipresent implies that they always remain in constant communion and are always together:
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:7-12
"Am I only a God nearby, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD." Jeremiah 23:23-24
"The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." John 8:29
"Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." John 10:37-38
"Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, LIVING IN ME, who is doing his work." John 14:10
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17
"Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him." John 14:23
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I IN THEM AND YOU IN ME. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize THAT CHRIST JESUS IS IN YOU-unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2 Corinthians 13:5
"And God placed all things under his feet (i.e., Christ) and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:22-23
"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. (What does he ascended mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)" Ephesians 4:7-10
"Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." Colossians 3:11
In light of the preceding passages, verses speaking of the Father in heaven are not to be taken literally, nor does it mean that the Father and Son were separated due to location. Rather, the reference to heaven refers to Gods highly exalted status above all things, that God is the Sovereign Ruler of all creation:
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple." Isaiah 6:1
"The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness Now will I arise, says the LORD. Now will I be exalted; now will I be lifted up." Isaiah 33:5, 10
"For this is what the high and lofty One says- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15
"You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules." Daniel 4:25-26
This is in contrast to the Son s lowly position on earth since during this time Christ existed in the form of a slave. After the resurrection Christ regained the exalted position that he willfully set aside when becoming man:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:5-11
The phrase "heaven", therefore, does not necessarily refer to a location where God dwells but to Gods exalted position.
However, there is a spiritual dimension called heaven where spirit beings like angels and disembodied saints like the prophets dwell in perfect fellowship and communion with God and with one another.
Question 7. If God is one and three at a time, then who was the God in heaven when Jesus was on earth? Wouldnt this contradict his many references to a God in Heaven that sent him?
First, for the meaning of heaven see our answer above. Second, the questioner either misunderstands the doctrine of the Trinity or deliberately misrepresents it. Jesus reference to "a God in Heaven that sent him" refers to the Father. Since Trinitarian theology teaches that the Father and Son are distinct Persons, this question poses no problem to Trinitarian belief.
Question 8. If God is three and one at the same time, who was the God in Heaven within three days between the claimed crucifixion and the claimed resurrection?
The answer is rather simple. All three Persons remained God while the body of the Lord Jesus lay in the tomb.
Implicit in the question is the assumption that death implies non-existence. Yet according to Scriptures death does not mean non-existence, but rather refers to separation. The Scriptures tell us that as a result of man's sin two types of separation have occurred. The first is spiritual "death" where a person is severed from having fellowship with God, being separated from God's holy presence. Hence, instead of God's love abiding upon an individual, it is the divine wrath that rests upon him. Yet even here God in his perfect forbearance doesnt annihilate man even though he is displeased with is wicked fallen condition, but waits patiently until man repents or until his sin reaches a point in which God in his perfect justice must act by bringing judgment and destruction.
The second type of "death" that the Holy Bible refers to is physical death. This is where the soul departs from the body and the body returns to the ground from which it came. Therefore, Christ did not cease to live when he died on the cross. Rather, Christs soul was still consciously alive during the three days his body laid in the tomb:
"Jesus answered them, Destroy this temple, AND I WILL RAISE IT AGAIN IN THREE DAYS. The Jews replied, It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days? But the temple he had spoken of was HIS BODY. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken." John 2:19-22
"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." John 10:17-18
The only way that Christ could be able to raise himself from the dead is if Christ were still consciously alive. This establishes that Christ did not cease to exist for those three days that his body lay in the tomb. Both Christs divine nature and his human soul were still conscious during that period of time.
Interestingly not only is the questioner's definition of death unbiblical, it is also contrary to the Quran:
"Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay, they are living. With their Lord they have provision." S. 3:169
This echoes the words of the Lord Jesus Christ:
"But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." Luke 20:37-38
So in answer to the question the one true God always exists as three distinct Persons even during the entombment of Christs physical body.
Question 9. Christians say that: "The Father(F) is God, the Son(S) is God, and the Holy Ghost(H) is God, but the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost is not the Father". In simple arithmetic and terms therefore, if F = G, S = G, and H = G, then it follows that F = S = H, while the second part of the statement suggests that F ¹ S ¹ H (meaning, "not equal"). Isnt that a contradiction to the Christian dogma of Trinity in itself?
In answer to the questioner, there is no contradiction. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that the three Persons are equal in nature, but not equal in Person. Their nature is identical since all three are fully God, but their Persons are distinct. Furthermore, we find it rather insulting, in fact blasphemous, that God should be reduced to a mathematical equation. The Holy Bible clearly teaches that God is unlike anything in creation since he is over and beyond our finite perceptions and analogies of him:
"Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God." Psalm 86:8-10
"The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you." Psalm 89:5-8
"Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?" Psalm 113:5-6
"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?" Isaiah 40:12-18
"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." Isaiah 40:25-26
"No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols. Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz. What the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple- all made by skilled workers. But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath." Jeremiah 10:6-10
Even the Quran agrees:
"Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him." S. 112:1-4
In light of the above, it is simply foolish to base a denial of the Trinity on a mathematical equation.
Question 10. If Jesus was God, why did he tell the man who called him "good master" not to call him "good" because accordingly, there is none good but his God in Heaven alone?
If one reads the passage carefully one will see that Jesus did not say that he was not good. Christ rather asked the rich man why does he call Jesus good. Jesus was trying to lead the man into questioning whether he really believed Jesus was absolutely good in the same sense that God is. If the rich man really believed Jesus was good in an absolute sense, he should be willing to give up everything for Christ. Being God, Jesus demands and deserves unconditional devotion and self-sacrificial love. This is precisely what Jesus goes on to tell the rich man:
"Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, `You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Mark 10:21 NRSV
The rich man must give up everything for Jesus if he wants to be perfect before God. Only God can demand this kind of devotion, a devotion that Jesus arrogates to himself. This point is brought out more clearly in Matthew 10:37-39:
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." NRSV
Again in Luke 14:26-27, 33:
"Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple So therefore, none of you can be my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." NRSV
No Israelite prophet ever pointed others to himself, but rather pointed men to God. For Jesus to demand this kind of devotion affirms that he is God. Otherwise, demanding this kind of devotion would be blasphemous if Jesus were only a prophet.
To solidify the point that Jesus was not denying that he was absolutely good in the same sense that God is, we quote the following passages:
"I am the GOOD Shepherd. The good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep I am the GOOD Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me." John 10:11, 14 NRSV
Not only is Jesus affirming his absolute goodness, but also applies a title of Yahweh God to himself:
"Yahweh is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Psalm 23:1
"Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!" Psalm 80:1 NRSV
Jesus also claims to be completely sinless, having absolutely no unrighteousness within him:
"Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him." John 7:18 NRSV
"And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him." John 8:29 NRSV
"Which of you convicts me of sin? " John 8:46 NRSV
No one was able to point to even one sin that Jesus committed. For Jesus to be absolutely good strongly argues the case that he is God. To summarize:
Question 11. Why do Christians say that God is three-in-one and one in three when Jesus says in Mark 12:29: "The Lord our God is one Lord" in as many places as yet in the Bible?
The heart of Trinitarianism is that there is absolutely one true God. The Trinity does not teach that there are three Gods. Therefore biblical references indicating that there is only one God affirm, rather than deny, Trinitarian belief. The Bible teaches that although there is only one God, there are three Persons addressed as God: The Father (1 Peter 1:2), the Son (Matthew 1:22-23; John 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
In fact, had the questioner continued reading in Mark he would have found Jesus affirming the tri-unity of God:
"While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." David himself calls him "Lord." How then can he be his son? The large crowd listened to him with delight." Mark 12:35-37
The Lord Jesus identifies two Persons as Lord, the Messiah and God. Christ also affirms the personality of the Holy Spirit since it is the Spirit that spoke through David, inspiring the latter to write the passage cited by Jesus, Psalm 110:1.
Therefore, when Mark 12 is read within its intended context we discover that Israel's one Lord is a tri-personal Being, refuting the questioners assumption.
Question 12. If belief in the Trinity was such a necessary condition for being a Christian, why didnt Jesus teach and emphasize it to the Christians during his time? How were those followers of Jesus considered Christians without ever hearing the term Trinity? Had the Trinity been the spinal cord of Christianity, Jesus would have emphasized it on many occasions and would have taught and explained it in detail to the people.
The questioner falsely assumes that for the Trinity to be true the term itself must be used. This commits a chronological fallacy as well as non sequitur. To read back into the times of Jesus terms hammered out through centuries of debate is erroneous. The term Trinity was coined by Christians to define as best as they could the clear and explicit biblical teaching that the one true God exists as three Persons. The Church tried to remain faithful to the message of Jesus and the Apostles, safeguarding it from all the false and heretical views that began to creep into the Christian community.
The fact is that both the Lord Jesus, as well as his disciples, clearly emphasized and explained that the one true God exists in three distinct yet inseparable Persons. They did so by giving us statements regarding the nature of God that, when combined together, present an irrefutable case for the Trinity. This is something that we have attempted to prove throughout this article.
Question 13. Christians claim that Jesus was God as they quote in John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". This is John speaking and not Jesus. Also, the Greek word for the first occurrence of God is HOTHEOS which means "the God" or "God" with a capital "G", while the Greek word for its second occurrence is "TONTHEOS", which means "a god " or "god" with a small "g". Isnt this dishonesty and inconsistency on the part of those translating the Greek Bible? ? Isnt such quotation in John 1:1 recognized by every Christian scholar of the Bible to have been written by a Jew named Philo Alexandria way before Jesus and John?
First, the questioner grossly misrepresents the Greek of John 1:1. Yet, the questioner is not original here. Others such as Ahmad Deedat, Zakir Naik and Mishaal al-Kadhi have also made the same gross mistake in their attempts of refuting the clear witness of John 1:1 to the absolute and eternal Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact is that neither HOTHEOS nor TONTHEOS appear at all in either the first or second occurrence of the passage. The first occurrence reads ton theon and this is used of the Father, whereas the second occurrence simply reads theos:
En arche en ho Logos:
In the beginning was the Word
kai ho Logos en pros ton theon:
and the Word was with/towards the God
kai theos en ho Logos:
and God was the Word.
Using the logic employed by the questioner we would be forced to conclude that the Father with whom the Word was is "a god" but not the true God since the Father is called ton theon.
Second, the questioner accuses translators of being dishonest for not placing a small "g" when translating the second occurrence of theos. Yet the questioner is seemingly unaware that the reason why most translations choose to capitalize theos when it is used for Christ is that this is something implied in Scripture itself. The scriptures clearly teach that there is only one true God and that this true God exists as three Persons. All other gods are either false or representatives of the true God. Yet none of them are God by nature.
In order to make this distinction clear, God appears with a capital "G" when referring to the true God and with a small ""g" when used of others. The reason why God appears with a capital "G" as opposed to lower case "g" for Christ is that the Holy Bible clearly teaches that Christ is neither a false god nor one who only represents God to man. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is fully God in nature.
Third, the questioner tries to undermine the authority of John 1:1 by highlighting the fact that John, not Jesus, is speaking at this point. Yet this fails to take into consideration that John was both a monotheistic Jew and a devout follower of Jesus. Therefore, one must account for the reason why John would embrace a fellow Jew as being both the prophesied Christ as well as the Creator God in the flesh. The only reasonable explanation that accounts for Johns belief in the Deity of Christ is that this was something the Apostle personally learned from the Lord Jesus himself and which the resurrection affirmed beyond any reasonable doubt.
That John actually wrote the fourth Gospel is affirmed not only by early Christian writers and historians, but by early Islamic historians as well:
"Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted FROM WHAT JOHN THE APOSTLE SET DOWN FOR THEM WHEN HE WROTE THE GOSPEL FOR THEM FROM THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS SON OF MARY: He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, "They hated me without a cause" (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord's presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord's presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.
"The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete." (Ibn Ishaq, Life Of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume, pp. 103-104 bold and capital emphasis ours)
The preceding citation comes from John 15:23-16:1. Ibn Ishaq affirms that John actually wrote the Gospel that has been attributed to him and that what he was writing was the actual Gospel that God had given Jesus to give to his followers.
Finally, the assertion that "every Christian scholar of the Bible" recognizes that Philo of Alexandria originally wrote John 1:1 is simply erroneous. One will not find anything like Johns prologue in Philos extant works.
What one does find are similarities between Philos Logos theology and Johns Logos-Christology that help solidify the thoroughly Jewish flavor of Johns Gospel. These similarities dispel the erroneous assertions that Johns Gospel was borrowing from Greek pagan conceptions of God and creation.
The difference between Philo and John is that in Johns theology the Logos and the Messiah were actually one and the same Person with John also teaching the Incarnation of the Logos, something foreign to Philo. Messianic Jewish Scholar Michael L. Brown states:
" Interestingly, Philo of Alexandria, the greatest Jewish philosopher of the day and a man who was, roughly speaking, a contemporary of Jesus, had much to say about the logos. As explained in the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion:
Although in a sense an aspect of the Divine, the Logos often appears as a separate entity, namely, a half-personal emanation of God. The concept was appropriated by Philo in order to bridge the gap between the transcendent God of Judaism and the divine principle experienced by human beings. This view of the Logos as a mediating principle between God and material creation could link up with the biblical references to the creative Word of God, by which the heavens were made (Ps. 33:6) and with the concept of memra (Aram.; word) in Targum literature (especially as it appears in Targum Onkelos).
"Although Philo spoke of the logos more than fourteen hundred times in his writings, there are a few examples that are especially important. To quote New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado:
Philo also calls the Logos the second god (ton deuteron theon) and states that the God whose image Adam was created in Gen. 1:27 is actually the Logos, which the rational part of the soul resembles. It is impossible (according to Philo) to think of anything earthly being a direct image of God himself [and] Philo also calls the Logos mediator (mesites).
"Philo also refers to the logos as firstborn (protogonon), archangel, Name of God, and governor and administrator of all things, stating that the Divine Word (theois logos) is the chief of Gods powers. The unique revelation that John is bringing is that this Word (Hebrew, davar; Aramaic, memra; Greek, logos) actually became flesh and made his dwelling among us. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came forth from the Father. Full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus came to bring God near! The logos became flesh and blood.
"While Philos description of the logos may have been philosophical, speaking of divine attributes in highly personified terms, Johns usage was very real. Through Jesus, the living Word, God made himself known. The Memra/Logos, an extension of the Lord himself- in on sense God and in another sense with God- came down among us.
"If John simply wrote, God became a human being, that would have given a false impression, leading one to think that the Lord was no longer filling the universe or reigning in heaven, having abandoned his throne to take up residence here. Instead, John tells us that it was the divine Word that became a human being, and through the Word we know God personally." (Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Volume Two, Theological Objections [Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000], pp. 21-22 bold emphasis ours)
This should silence the assertion that John was plagiarizing Philo, since the former describes the eternal Logos/Word of God as a distinct divine Person from God the Father that became man in the person of the Messiah.
Question 14. Wasnt the word "god" or "TONTHEOS" also used to refer to others as well as in II Corinthians 4:4 "(and the Devil is) the god of this world" and in Exodus 7:1 "See, I have made thee (Moses) a god to Pharaoh"?
First, Satan is not called God but rather "the god of this age". This simply means that Satan is the ruler of this present evil age since all creation in its fallen sinful state is under the domain of the devil. It is only in Christ that one is set freed from Satans control. (Cf. Luke 4:6; John 8:34-36, 12:31, 14:30; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8, 5:19)
Second, the questioner is wrong since "TONTHEOS" does not appears in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Rather, the Greek ho theos appears in a genitive construction. The genitive construction is used to show possession. In the case of 2 Corinthians 4:4, theos is used to indicate that Satan is "god" in a possessive sense, i.e. that the devil has been granted supreme control over this present wicked age. We find the New Testament using theos in a similar manner elsewhere:
"whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite (hos theos koilia), and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things." Philippians 3:19 NASB
This verse refers to individuals that sought to gratify their sensual desires, living for the pleasures of the body, mind, and soul. In so doing, they ended up making their carnal desires their god, being enslaved to such desires. (Cf. 2 Peter 2:19)
Much like these individuals appetite was not actually "God" neither is Satan actually "God." Rather, Satan is "god" in a qualified sense for the reason indicated above. He is not the supreme and true God of all.
Third, Exodus 7:1 was originally written in Hebrew and only later translated into Greek during the year 280 BC. In Exodus 7:1 Moses is said to be a God (Hebrew, elohim) to Pharaoh. The term elohim is used of the true God, Moses, Israelite judges, human spirits, angels and of false gods. (Cf. Exodus 4:16; 20:3; 21:5-6; 22:8-9; Judges 16:23; 1 Samuel 28:13; Psalm 82:6; 86:8)
Yet both Old and New Testaments teach that Jesus is God in the true and absolute sense. Jesus is given titles and attributes that belong to God alone. We present the following citations along with the rabbinic interpretation that affirms the Messianic understanding of these passages:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God (El Gibbor), The Father of Eternity (Avi Ad), The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
"For to us a Son is born, to us a Son is given; and His name is called from of old, Wonderful, Counselor, Eloha (God, Arabic- Allah), The Mighty, Abiding to Eternity, THE MESSIAH, because peace shall be multiplied on us in His days." Targum Jonathan
"Behold the days come, saith the LORD that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch And this is his name whereby he will be called: JEHOVAH (YHWH) OUR Righteousness." Jeremiah 23:5-6
"What is the name of the KING MESSIAH? R. Abba son of Kohana said, JEHOVAH, for it is written: This is HIS name whereby HE shall be called, JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." Midrash On Ezekiel 48:35; Targum Jonathan
"Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last." Isaiah 48:12
"Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I AM he As soon as he said unto them, I AM he, they went backward, and fell to the ground." John 18:4-6
"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, `Fear not; I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth, and was DEAD, and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Revelation 1:17-18
The others are only called God in a figurative or representative sense since neither men nor angels are ever said to be God in nature. The Scripture never accords these "gods" with divine prerogatives, attributes or titles.
This clearly implies that unlike the others that are called "God", Jesus is God in nature and is able to do what the other so-called "gods" are incapable of doing.
In light of the preceding factors, we once more discover the questioner committing the fallacy of false analogy since no correlation exists between John 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Exodus 7:1. John 1:1 clearly teaches that Jesus is God in an absolute and eternal sense, whereas 2 Corinthians 4:4 simply points to Satan being "god" in a qualified sense. Exodus 7:1 refers to Moses as God in a representative sense, that due to Moses acting in the place of God he can therefore be addressed as God figuratively. Yet the Holy Bible clearly teaches that apart from the true God there is no one that shares Gods nature and essence. (Cf. Galatians 4:8; 2 Chronicles 13:9)
This ends part 1. Part 2 to follow shortly, Lord Jesus willing.
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